Joy Is A Choice 

   

Good news!  We, here at Restored Ministries are lowering the disco ball for today’s Song Sunday!  

 

My current song obsession is Lincoln Brewster’s Live to Praise You


Take a quick dance break and then read my song story…

 

Recently, I attended a women’s conference held by my church.  Having worked as a volunteer earlier that afternoon, I knew already that I was already assigned to Table 11.  So that evening at the designated time, I went to, well, Table 11 and sat by a new friend I had been wanting to get to know better.  Awesome!  But, then, after looking at the table list, I realized that, since that afternoon, my name had been marked off of the roster for Table 11.  It was done in ink pen, so you know it was final.  Weirdly though, within a minute, I happened to see another good friend of mine walking by, so I said hi to her.  She looked in confusion at me and asked why I was sitting there – she was a table leader and said I was supposed to be at her table.  Sure enough, my name had been written on her roster in ink, so you know it was final.  Instead of getting flustered and wondering what happened, I had the immediate thought wondering if God was up to something.  I was intrigued by what the weekend would hold.  When things “happen to” change at the last minute, you really should start looking around for Him.  

 

Among a lot of great women at my new table, I met a new friend, Chris.  Part of our table discussion Friday night involved ‘morning people’ and ‘night owls’ and the plight of the young mommies in our group who were just hanging on for dear life for whenever they could find sleep – morning or night!  Chris indicated that she was a morning person and felt that her cup got filled up during the night.  Yes – definitely a morning person.

 

Fast forward about twelve hours:  Saturday morning rolled around way too early and I went in search of coffee.  My roommate and I had stayed up way too late (early) talking, so at this point, I think I must have looked like Frankenstein – imagine arms extended forward, making unintelligible moaning sounds as I drug my heavy feet towards the dining hall.  I just “happened to” meet Chris on the way in.  Y’ALL!  She had sooo many words!  So many.  So early.  I made the grouchy joking comment that she reminded me of that bird that sings outside your window in the morning…you know the one…who starts his crazy, joyful song about 10 minutes before your alarm is supposed to go off.  My comment didn’t even faze her a bit.  She giggled and took it as a compliment.  That girl was JOYFUL!  I promised her I’d be closer to her cheeriness once I’d had my coffee, too.  She laughed and said she hadn’t had any yet and bounced on off leaving my mouth hanging open.  Her response to being out of her element and among unfamiliar people? To mornings? Exultant joy.

 

It got me thinking:  As Christians, what should our responses be to…?

 

• Illness
• Inconvenience
• Traffic
• Dead end jobs
• Screaming toddlers
• Less than ideal relationships
• Rejections
• Loss
• Situations that don’t change no matter how much we pray

 

All of a sudden, I was filled with these questions:

 

• Illness – What if God is using illness to bring us to a place of rest and reliance upon Him that we would never get to in good health?
• Inconvenience – What if we were about to miss something BIG that God wanted to show us, so He had to temporarily change our direction for the day?  
• Traffic –What if your morning commute is a gift of time meant for us to use, spent in prayer for our day or praise and worship to God to remind us of how good He is and how much He loves us?  What if we looked at it as “I get an hour with God every morning on the way to work.”? How would that change our day’s perspective?
• Dead-end job – What if God is allowing your dissatisfaction in your current job because He has prepared a better one for you – one in which you could actually use the giftings He has given you?  What if He built in a lesson that you need to learn there before you are ready for the new position He is preparing?  What if there is a person at your job you are supposed to witness to?  Would that put a little more intrigue into your ho-hum job environment – the search for God at work in your place of business?  What if someone was actually noticing your “as unto the Lord attitude” and was wondering what was different about you?
• Screaming toddlers – God knows that your life is not your own when you have small children.  What if a temper tantrum in the grocery store (I hope we are talking about the child’s, not yours) is an indicator that maybe you are trying to fit too much into this day?  What if putting them and yourself down for a nap or putting them in the stroller and going for a walk outside to calm them down is what He is prescribing for your mental and physical health, as well? 
• Less than ideal relationships – (Disclaimer: I will try to tread lightly here because there are so many situations that require more than a generalization, for sure.  Let’s also be clear that this is not in any way directed at the subject of a marriage relationship.) What if that betrayal was allowed because of God’s dissatisfaction with the relationship?  Not in an “I’m mad at you” kind of dissatisfaction, but an “I want better for you” kind of dissatisfaction?  What if there was something (on yours or the other person’s part) in the relationship that is not God-honoring?  God always goes after that part first.  What if God has other, more beneficial relationships in which He wants you to place your time, energy and affection?  
• Rejections  What if this rejection is a visible sign of God’s protection of you?  What if that place you want to put yourself in so badly or that relationship to which you want to cling so tightly is not of God’s choosing?  What if He wants you to place the whole thing on His altar?  What would happen if we actually believe that God is outside of time and can already see the consequences of that path we think we want?  Is it wrong for a Father to want better for His children?
• Loss – What if? Why? Why me?  None of us have the answers this side of heaven as to why God allows what He does.  But, after the loss and devastation occurs, the pain subsides a little and the feelings, previously numb, start coming back to life, we can begin to ask different questions.  God, what purpose, what plan did this accomplish?  Will You show me the good I should be looking for in what happened here?  Is there someone who was helped by the way I responded to You in the midst of this terrible pain?  The act of Jesus leaving the ninety-nine sheep is painful if you are one of the 99.  But would you fault Him for that if that one, lost sheep was yours?  There are people who repeatedly push aside and run away from any and every thought of God’s love until they are face-to-face with death and loss.  Sometimes, they will come by no other means, than pain.  What if that lost sheep was yours? 
• Situations that don’t change no matter how much we pray– What if God deals with us in much the same way we lovingly parent our children?  There are so many times we, as parents, tell our children “No”, “Not yet” “Wait” and “Soon”.  The smaller the child, the less understanding he or she has when told “Not yet”.  Maybe a temper tantrum will ensue, but we can see a little farther down the road of choices and consequences than they can, so we keep them in a holding pattern, of sorts, until that just right time comes.  So why then, do we fault God’s loving intentions when He does, basically, the same thing with us and our requests?  Why do we doubt that He is anything other than loving in all His actions toward us?  Is it because we are not getting our way?

 

Back to my friend Chris and why this is important.  Chris’ reaction to my grouchiness and my song Sunday choice both bring me back to one thing.  JOY IS A CHOICE.  Just like the birds whose joy can be too much for those living without it, just like Chris’ response to morning, just like our response to what life throws at us…Joy is a choice.  Always.  What if every single action God took toward you was out of goodness?  What if only goodness flowed from Him toward you?  Would it shock you to know that it does?  With mercy and grace thrown in for good measure!  Now, let’s all check for what our correct response should be and, like the birds, like this song, respond with JOY!

     ~Debbie Bouckley 

 

Live to Praise You

Day after day You never change
Ever the same, there is hope in Your name
You are the fire that’s burning bright
Ever You reign so we’re lifting You high

Everybody
Everybody
Come on somebody
1, 2, 3, hey!

Everybody shout, make it loud
All of heaven sing, hear the sound
Let the praises ring, Your renown
Everyday we live
Everyday we live to praise You
Everyday we live to praise You

Breath after breath we’re so alive
Ever we’re changed ‘cause You rescued our lives
The First and the Last, no one in between
Ever the King, You’re the song that we sing

The joy of the Lord is our strength!
The joy of the Lord is our strength!
The joy of the Lord is our strength!
The joy of the Lord is our strength!

 

Nehemiah 8:20 (B)  “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

Galatians 5:22-23  The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.

 

Luke 15:4  What man of you, if he has a hundred sheep and should lose one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness (desert) and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?


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