QOD: Rejoice Evermore!

Today’s quote of the day fits perfectly with the new Learning Joy series.

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We always struggle to know the will of God – we look anywhere, ask anyone, and interpret anything as a sign to know His will.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 could not spell it out more clearly for us. He wants us to:

1. Rejoice evermore.

2. Pray without ceasing.

3. Give thanks in every situation.

By learning to choose joy, to pray continuously, and to praise God in the midst of everything (both good and bad) we will experience a life of heaven on earth like Makrina said in her post for Learning Joy. These three things are definitely easier said than done, but I believe that it is about developing daily habits that help us practice each one regularly. More on this to come in the series.

For today:

1. Make a list of people you are grateful for,

2. Pray for those people,

3. Think of a battle you have overcome, or made baby steps in, and thank God,

4. And pray to the Holy Spirit to teach you how to choose joy, to give you a heart of prayer, and to fill you with thanksgiving.

Glory be to our Father forever and ever.

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Learning Joy – Joy is Here

Just starting a new series called Learning Joy, see here for Part 1 and more information on this mission! This is a guest post from my sister Makrina on joy. From the first day I met her, Makrina has been an inspiration and role model to me on living a joy-filled life. You can find more of her writing on the blog (one of my personal favourites) lmbawoman.blogspot.co.uk

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“Seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit but joy is!”

Gareth Gilkeson, Rend Collective

Joy. I think we miss it. I cannot recall preachers teaching kids that joy is the heart of God. I cannot recall a sermon that tells of the joy of worship.

I watch the kids as they endure long hours of church services. I watch how their experiences of boredom translate in their minds to God-is-boring. How praising Jesus becomes a monotonous chore.

Where are the kids who love to sing the praises of our wondrous Lord?

This query beckons another: where are the people of God who teach these kids that joy is the heart of Jesus? Where are the joyous ones who will not only teach but also live a life of praise?

Where are those who will heed to this simple command?

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”

We justify our lives, we claim that the world is home to many thieves of joy. We live as if misery is our default, and praise becomes mere words, often a drag.  But that is never the heart of God.

Let me tell you this one truth, one truth that you ought to never forget:

This joy, it’s a choice.

No person or circumstance can rob you of joy, for joy is a choice. To choose to rejoice despite the waves, despite the storm, despite the fierce stones.

Joy is a choice.

To come before Him in prayer and worship is to come before the Holy heart of God. To come before the Holy heart of God is to see the truth of Who He is and to leave with it imparted onto our souls. To come before the Holy heart of God is to sing with the Psalmist “in your Presence is fullness of joy.”

I observe a stern, seriousness in worship. The uptight, tight-fisted, legalistic worship.

Where is the joy that caused ancient heroes to dance and sing and shout for His wondrous Name?

Life should be a celebration of the goodness of God.

Heaven is celebration, where all tribes and all nations and all His loved ones celebrate before His holy throne in joy and adoration. That is the life we should be living now, heaven starts right here.

Ancient heroes played the Lyre, sang songs, wrote poems and danced before the God of joy. There’s an art in celebration, where every soul brings before Him praise in various forms.

Who will teach our kids to be creative and find their spark? Who will tell the kids that we all find our own moments of pure, intimate joy with the Lord in diverse ways?

We will. We will be the people who know joy in His presence. We will be the painters, the writers, the singers, the dancers, the dreamers, the preachers, the poets, the cooks, the athletes and the producers who display the art of celebration.

For, eternity starts right here.

Heaven’s song is here.

Joy is here.

“The Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven”

C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

“Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
 let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
 for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Isaiah 12:5-6

Learning Joy Part 1- On a Mission

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I am on a mission.

I am on a mission to live a more abundant and joyful life as Christ designed it. Too many of us are living tired lives, burdened by the weight of the world, barely able to smile on a normal day let alone praise God in the midst of our most troubling times. This cannot be the way God intended us to worship Him.

When I began the mission to “find” joy, however, I realized that I hadn’t the faintest clue what it is or the means by which I could attain it. All I knew was:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patiencekindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:3

It is a part of God’s promise to us and (should be) a result of our relationship with Him. Yet, I am definitely not living a life full of inexpressible and glorious joy.

I would not naturally describe myself as a joyful person. I wouldn’t even say that I am an optimist. I frequently fear and expect the worst from people and life (and sadly, at times, from God too). But I have had enough. I refuse to deny my inheritance for a moment longer. God has promised me joy and I am going to start claiming it.

I had no idea the kind of digging in the past, rooting out wrong beliefs, and learning new habits this journey would entail. I am only now starting to see the bigger picture.

The foundation:

The journey to “find” joy is dependent on the belief that joy is actually a choice. Often, our definition of something affects how we experience it. Many of us have been walking around with an incorrect concept of joy. Joy does not mean smiling all the time and suppressing our more painful or sorrowful emotions.

I finally found what I believe is an accurate definition of joy from Kay Warren. Let us memorize this together and constantly come back to it as our foundation for the journey.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

Furthermore, let us remain confident that God wants us to be joyful!! This is the second most important part of our foundation.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 

This is our memory verse for this series.

If you want to go more in depth, here are some of the resources I’m using:

  • The Bible
  • Choose Joy, Kay Warren
  • Habits of Happiness, Rick Warren (rickwarren.org)
  • Reaching Out, Henri Nouwen
  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero
  • Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri Scazzero

Without further ado, let us begin!!