I recently received an email from Sarah that I wanted to share with you. It focuses on joy, and shows how true joy can only be found in a relatinship with Christ, not in one person, one career or earthly possessions. Here is that email:
I wrote Jesus Always, my new 365-day devotional, with a desire to help readers live a joy-filled life.
No matter what is happening in our world, we Christians can find Joy in Jesus.
I want to share with you 10 tips to help you approach every day joyfully. Each tip includes an excerpt from Jesus Always plus one or more scripture references. As in all my books, the devotions in Jesus Always are written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you, the reader.
My hope and prayer is that these 10 tips will draw you closer to Jesus and help you embrace Joy in His Presence.
1. Stay in Communication with Jesus, Your Joy
I am your Joy! These four words can light up your life. Since I am always with you, the Joy of My Presence is continually accessible to you. You can open up to My Presence through your trust in Me, your love for Me. Try saying, “Jesus, You are my Joy.” My Light will shine upon you and within you as you rejoice in Me, your Savior. Ponder all I have done for you and all that I am to you. This will lift you up above your circumstances.
—from January 2
Psalm 21:6 NIV; Philippians 4:4 NKJV
2. Consider Challenges a Joyful Opportunity
When tests and challenges come at you from all sides, consider it a joyful opportunity. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or wishing you could go back to yesterday. Remember that I am sovereign, powerful, and loving; moreover, I am with you to help. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the difficulties, grasp My hand with confident trust. Though you are insufficient to handle your troubles by yourself, you and I together can handle anything! If you view your circumstances from this big-picture perspective, you can be joyful even in the midst of your struggles.
—from August 23
James 1:2 MSG
3. Don’t Compare Yourself with Other People
The source of much discontentment is comparing oneself with others. I want you to make every effort to avoid this deadly trap. Remember that you are My unique creation—redeemed by My blood and exquisitely precious to Me. Stay in joyful communication with Me, the Savior who loves you immeasurably more than you can imagine. I will transform you more and more into the masterpiece I designed you to be.
—from June 7
1 Timothy 6:6 NIV; Ephesians 2:10 NLT
4. Let Jesus Redeem Your Failures
I hate to see My children weighed down by past failures, dragging them around like heavy chains attached to their legs… Rejoice that I redeem your failures — forgiving you and leading you along paths of newness. Talk with Me about your mistakes, and be ready to learn from Me. Ask Me to show you the changes I want you to make. I will guide you along right paths.
—from August 18
Matthew 11:28–29 NIV; Psalm 23:3 NLT
5. Make Jesus Your Joyful Focus
As you look to Me more and more, I become your joyful Focus. When you look at the world today, many disturbing things call out for your attention. If you concentrate too much on those things, you will become deeply discouraged. Meanwhile, the One who is continually with you calls out: “I am here! Look to Me, beloved, and find Joy in Me!”
—from July 9
Psalm 105:4 NIV; Psalm 73:23 NKJV
6. Trust That Jesus Loves You and Delights in You
I rejoice over you with singing. Open wide your heart, mind, and spirit to receive My richest blessings. Because you are My blood-bought child, My Love for you flows continuously from the throne of grace. Look up and receive all that I have for you. Listen and hear Me singing songs of Joy because of My great delight in you. You can approach Me boldly—with confidence—trusting that you are indeed the one I love.
—from March 14
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV; Hebrews 4:16 NIV; Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV
7. Receive Blessings Joyfully and Hold Them Loosely
Receive joyfully and thankfully the blessings I shower on you, but do not cling to them. Hold them loosely — ready to release them back to Me. At the same time, I want you to enjoy fully the good things I give you. The best way to do this is to live in the present, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Today is the time to delight in the blessings I have provided… When I remove from you something or someone you treasure, it’s healthy to grieve your loss. It is also important to draw closer to Me during this time. Cling to Me, beloved, for your relationship with Me will never be taken away from you. Let Me beyour Rock, in whom you take refuge. Often I provide unexpected new blessings to comfort you and lead you forward. Be on the lookout for all that I have for you!
—from November 24
Matthew 6:34 NKJV; Psalm 18:2 NIV; Isaiah 43:19 NIV
8. Choose Joy Moment by Moment
Rejoice always! This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible, but it is radiant with heavenly Light. I made you in My image, and I crafted you with the ability to choose Joy in the moments of your life. When your mind is going down an unpleasant, gloomy path, stop it in its tracks with this glorious command. See how many times each day you can remind yourself to rejoice… Choosing to rejoice will bless you and those around you. It will also strengthen your relationship with Me.
—from July 18
1 Thessalonians 5:16 NKJV; Genesis 1:27 NKJV; Philippians 4:4 NIV
9. Thank Jesus Often for His Presence
To infuse more Joy into your day, seek to increase your awareness that I am with you. An easy way to do this is to say: “Thank You, Jesus, for Your Presence.” This is such a short, simple prayer that you can pray it frequently; it beautifully connects you to Me, expressing your gratitude. You don’t have to feel My nearness in order to pray this way. However, the more you thank Me for My Presence, the more real I become to you. You align yourself—mind, heart, and spirit—with the reality that in Me you live and move and have your being.
—from September 18
Acts 17:28 NIV
10. Treasure Jesus and Enjoy Your Riches in Him
Treasure Me above all else. This will infuse Joy into your heart and mind. It will also glorify Me! To treasure something is to hold or keep it, esteeming it as precious. I am training you to hold securely onto Me, your Savior-God and constant Companion. Knowing that I never leave your side can increase your Joy and Peace immeasurably. Also, esteeming Me as your precious Savior strengthens your desire to keep Me “in your sights” and live according to My will.
—from May 21
Matthew 13:44 NIV; Philippians 3:8-9 NIV
No matter how much or how little you have in this world, your relationship with Me makes you immeasurably rich. So whenever you are counting your blessings, be sure to include the infinite wealth you have in Me. Add Me into the equation, and your gratitude will grow exponentially. Whatever you have + Me=an incalculable fortune!
—from December 26
Philippians 4:19 NIV