Tag Archives: joy

My Dream

During one of the most difficult times in my life, while agonizing over a major life decision, I had a dream.  Like everyone else, I have had lots of dreams in my life.  I have had two dreams that have significantly impacted my life and this one has had a great effect on me.  Where once I was doubtful and uncertain about many things, the certainty of what Christ did for me strengthened and solidified my faith in Him. 

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Five Ways to a More Joyful Life (Part Five)

Today marks the end of our little five-part series about ways to experience a more joyful life.  Yesterday I wrote about something that I know is hard for me and something over which I’ve seen others struggle.  We don’t do it often enough but we really do need to be thankful.   The first three days, we talked about being content with our circumstances, not dwelling on the past and not worrying about tomorrow.  Those things have a way of taking our focus off of what I believe is the most important aspect of time we experience here on earth, today.  And that brings us to, well, today.  Day five.

5. Live Today’s Day Today

It only happens once in an eternity:  Today.  Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.  Yesterday, today wasn’t even here.  But today is today and all that we are guaranteed, if anything, is the breath of air we currently breathe.  After that, there’s no telling.  I like to say that you can’t run from death.  Death may come at any moment and may come in the strangest of ways and, often, when least expected.

So I say, live today’s day today.  When tomorrow’s here, there’s no reason to replay yesterday.  Yesterday, I had no business worrying about today.  But today, there’s plenty of life to occupy my thoughts, devotions and energies.  It’s been an age-old question in life, “What am I here for?”  I believe we’re here for today – for we’re gone tomorrow.  James 4:13-14 (NIV) reads, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.”  All the best laid plans for tomorrow at the expense of today mean nothing if we’re not there.

We’re here for the realities of today, not the memories of yesterday or the dreams of tomorrow.  That’s not to say memories and dreams aren’t important.  They are.  They’re what gives us hope, what gives us faith, what we use to build upon along the way.  But the reality is that there are many things to take care of today.  In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus asks the Father to “give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  Two thousand years ago, a Savior was born “today” (Luke 2:11).  When Jesus was on the cross, he told one of the criminals that that day, “today”, he would be with Him in paradise (Luke23:43).   The writer of Hebrews suggested encouraging each other daily, as long as its called “today”  (Hebrews 3:13). 

Today is what we have.  Today is where we live.  Today is where our character and who we are as people are made and defined.  At the end of all of your tomorrows, what will be said about you will depend on how you lived all of your todays.  So, go.   Live today to the fullest.  Walk in the steps that are right there in front of you, not looking behind and not looking ahead.  Stop and enjoy the sites along the way, smell the roses, hold a kid, smile at an old lady.  Live life.  Live today.  And by all means, eat two cookies and call me in the morning.

Five Ways to a More Joyful Life (Part Four)

Today is the fourth day in my little series about having more joy.  It’s not really my series nor my ideas.  They are really lessons I’ve learned along the way, am learning and need to relearn (I am pretty forgetful).  Part one, being content with our circumstances is just as difficult as part two, not dwelling on the past and part three, not worrying about tomorrow.  So what more can there be?  Actually there are lots of ways in which we can learn to be more joyful – maybe we can have a second series sometime.  But today, here’s the fourth way I’ve learned to have a more joyful life.

4.  Be Thankful

There is something therapeutic about counting all the ways that you have been blessed, about finding things to be thankful for.  There is something pure and right about reflecting on the blessings you’ve enjoyed.  “Count your many blessings,” we sang loudly from the church pews.  But singing loudly doesn’t necessarily equate to actually living and understanding. 

I wonder what our lives would be like if we took a day off from all our activities and paused for the day to name all the many blessings we’ve enjoyed.  I wonder how long it would take to name them one by one.  If we were really honest, I bet it would take longer than we think.  I wonder what our lives would be like if we lived as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,”  [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]8)

 

So, today, wherever you are, take as long as you are willing or able and name some of those blessings that you have known and continue to know.  Go ahead, name them one by one.  After you’re done, go ahead and eat two cookies and call me in the morning.

Five Ways to a More Joyful Life (Part Three)

Well, I’ve written this week about ways for us to experience a more joyful life.  Monday, it was to be content with our circumstances.  Tuesday, I wrote that we should not dwell on the past.  Today, Wednesday, brings way number three for us to return to a more joyful life. 

3.  Don’t Worry Or Fear About Tomorrow

Well this is definitely a big one.  Perhaps more than dwelling on the past, we worry about tomorrow.  We (at least I) get in such a tizzy sometimes about what might could happen if everything happened just right (or, worse, just wrong).  We think about a particular potential event or problem, then we think about all the ways we could or should respond.  We think, if this happens, I’ll do that and say this and pretend that and I’ll be able to minimize the negative and maximize the positive results.  Our fear and worry sap the life out of us and kill our joy.

I often catch myself thinking about some arbitrary non-event happening and I have to kind of slap myself with a self-reminder that the particular event hasn’t occurred, likely won’t occur and really isn’t in my steps for today.  Our worry over the things in the future, those things that may never and probably won’t ever happen, have a way of handcuffing our hands and feet today, paralyzing us on the journey before us.  Even those things that probably will and do happen make us worry today, well before the actual event.  Before we know it, tomorrow’s here and we’ve lost a little more time by stressing today.

Jesus knew who He was speaking to very well when He talked about worry in Matthew 6:25-34.  I suspect, or rather, know, that He knew that we might have similar issues.  He concludes His encouraging words against worrying about life, food, drink, our bodies and clothes with these words in verse 34 (NIV):  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Think about the things you worry about.  Can you really change anything by getting a stomach ulcer fretting over the possibilities?  Have you ever been able to change the future or prevent anything from happening?  How many of the things that you’ve feared or worried about have actually come to pass?  Relax, enjoy today, eat two cookies and call me in the morning.

Five Ways to a More Joyful Life (Part Two)

Yesterday I wrote about the first way to a more joyful life, that we should be content with our circumstances. Today, part two talks about the past.

2. Don’t Dwell on the Past

Another great joy-killer is our tendency as humans to dwell on the past. I’ve seen this in my own life and in the lives of others. We make a mistake or do something we regret and that regret haunts us. We constantly think, “What if?” What if I hadn’t done that? What if I had chosen to do something different? “If only,” we say. We can launch ourselves into a sort of constant analysis and re-analysis of all the in’s and out’s of what has happened, what has passed and what can no longer be changed. What often results is that we lose sight of today as we focus on the past, particularly our failures, and many times we lose our joy somewhere along the way and we lose the day we have today.

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