How to Find Joy

How to Find Joy

Comment:  This post originally appeared some time back, but seems worth another go considering the swirl of fear and negativity that surrounds us these days.  May you trust God in every circumstance and experience the peace and joy only He can give!

“You love him even though you have never seen him.  Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1: 8-9 NLT

As Christians, we often read a passage like this one and believe that it refers to our eternal destiny.  If we love God and trust the finished work of Christ on the cross, we will go to heaven when we die.  We have assurance for the sweet by-and-by.  Good luck with the rough here and now! 

This belief comes from a view of the word “soul” which some consider synonymous with the word “spirit.”  Word studies show that this is not consistent with the biblical use of these terms.  The Greek word used here for “soul” is similar to the word “psyche.”  This translation makes it easy to understand that our soul is our mind, will, and emotions.  Loving and trusting God will save our soul—that frequently unhappy place where our negative thoughts wreak havoc on our lives and keep us from enjoying the blessings all around us. 

 If your mind, will, and emotions need a rescue, putting your thoughts in order with God’s Word is your lifeline. 

The trouble is often that, when we are negative and down and could profit the most from the truth about God’s steadfast love and care, we are least inclined to want to hear it.  Friends quote scripture and we are offended. “Those platitudes won’t work for me! My situation is serious!” 

Richard Carlson, PhD, is a psychologist who has written several books on changing your mindset in ways that can make you feel happier.  He has even been so bold as to write a book entitled, You Can Be Happy No Matter What. In that book, Carlson asserts that the first principle of happiness is realizing that you are the thinker of your thoughts.  We have learned to interpret our thoughts as if they are reality, but this is not always true (Carlson, 2006, p.13). If we accept God’s Word as truth, we must examine our own thoughts to see if they line up with what He says. 

The Apostle Paul exclaims in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV), “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  What this means on a practical level is that, if I am moping about my finances, convinced I will end up as a bag lady living in the street, I must let those thoughts go!  At that moment, my soul—my mind, will, and emotions–needs salvation. 

What does God say about my future?  Philippians 4:19 (NIV) declares, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” And Hebrews 13:5 (AMP) reminds me that “[God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.” 

We must be willing to hear and accept the truth.  I like the anonymous quote, “You decide every moment of every day who you are and what you believe in.  You get a second chance, every second.”  You may feel mired in the bag lady theory of your existence or any other negative picture, but at any moment you can decide that “Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true” (Romans 3:4 NLT).  You have and will have everything you need.  This principle will work with any of your negative, scary thoughts.  Search the scripture to find out what God has said on the subject and counter your thinking with truth. 

Dr. Carlson states that the key to happiness is in your thoughts.  When we fill our hearts and minds with the hope and promises of God and trust in Him as Peter urges us to do, we will rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8).   

What thoughts do you need to take captive today?

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