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Choose Joy

I’ve been a sales trainer for a few years, and one thing has been consistent. When some people show up for training, they’re not happy. They want to know if class is really going to take the full time. By the end of class though, many of them change their attitudes. They’ll walk out and say, “Thanks. I didn’t think I needed this, but I learned something.” Our attitude towards training is much like our attitude towards troubles in life. We don’t want them or see a need for them. However, when we’ve made it through them, we find ourselves stronger.

I think James was trying to make that same correlation for us in James 1:2-3. He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (NLT). Joy is usually the last emotion that I pair with troubles and trials, but James says they’re an opportunity for us to have it.

I’ve said before that joy is not dependent on your circumstances, happiness is. Joy comes from deep within. It looks at your big picture, while happiness looks at the little one. Joy is something you choose to have no matter what. Each of us choose our attitude in our circumstances. If we don’t, our circumstances will choose our attitude for us. In most cases, it chooses the wrong attitude. Choosing Joy gives you the strength to endure whatever comes your way.

The second part of that verse is where we get our Joy from. We don’t look at the current trouble, but the end result. What do trials produce in us? Endurance. Verse 4 says, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If you can train yourself to keep the end in mind, you will learn to handle troubles a lot better. Don’t waste your times of trouble. Use them for what they’re for: growth and endurance. By choosing the wrong attitude, you prolong your time in them, and miss what God has for you. Keep the end in mind, and choose Joy.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

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Free From Discouragement

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away “The Favor of God: Embrace All God Has Prepared For You” by Jerry Savelle. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

My plan today was to write about getting free of discouragement, but an accident blocked the freeway and ate up all the time I had to write. I began to get discouraged just sitting there thinking that I wouldn’t be able to write today. I didn’t think of the people who were in the accident having a much worse day. I imagine they must be a lot more discouraged than I was. What about the other people who were in traffic who may lost their job because they’re showing up an hour late? None of us got off to the morning we thought we’d have when we woke up. None of us got to do the things we thought we were going to get done this morning.

The difference in a believer’s life is that we don’t have to stay discouraged when circumstances alter our plans. We don’t have to crumble when life throws a curve ball. It’s human and natural to get discouraged in bad situations. It’s the Holy Spirit living in us that reminds us where our hope is. My hope is not in man’s ability. My hope is not in the plans I have made. My hope is in The Lord. The way this morning started off was no surprise to God. He knew my plans would be thrown out of the window before I did. He knew that I would face set backs. He knew that things would happen in my life that were beyond my control.

What He wants me to know is that He’s in control. He’s my source of hope, my source of strength and my provider. He alone is the one who can bring encouragement when I can’t seem to find any hope. I just have to remember to look for Him when things aren’t going right. I have to remember that circumstances can’t affect my praise. I have to quit focusing on the negative outcomes of my situation and focus on the One who can turn it into a positive. I have to remember the one who has carved out my path, drew out the blueprint for my life and orders my steps. He is where I find my hope and encouragement on days like this.

I leave you with what David wrote when his circumstances changed his plans and life. He said, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you. (Psalms 42:5, 6 NLT)” Even the psalmist, the guy after God’s own heart, the man who constantly praised had times of discouragement. He told us what he did in those times. He remembered the God he served. We can do the same.

If you would like to win the “The Favor of God” by Jerry Savelle, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (February 22, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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