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Seven Tactics to Win Back Your Joy

By Thomas Lindberg

Someone is robbed every 55 seconds in America, according to experts. And the stats for identity theft are even higher! But listen, there are thieves who try to steal your joy even more often.

Shortly before He died, Jesus said to His disciples, “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy” (John 16:22, NLT).

What a promise! When we know the risen Savior, we inherit an unquenchable joy. But that promise hinges on how effectively we put into practice the life principles Jesus taught and lived. Consider these seven biblical tactics for keeping your gift of joy from being stolen.

1. Listen to God’s Word rather than your feelings.

You can let your feelings run your life. Don’t give your feelings that much authority! Don’t deny them, but don’t let them be the loudest voice you hear.

The Bible says, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands” (Psalm 119:143). The Psalmist was facing pressure, stress and troubling circumstances. To paraphrase, he said, “I’m feeling badly, but I will listen to God’s Word above my feelings.” Pray this simple but powerful prayer today: “Lord, I will trust Your Word and what it says more than my feelings.” That’s a prayer God will answer.

2. Hang out with joyful people.

The Bible says, “Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly” (Psalm 118:15). A good test of worthwhile friendships is this: Do those friends sing songs of joy and do they talk about victory and positive things instead of negative topics?

I have some friends I’ve chosen not to be as close to as I was in the past. Why? Their negative attitude poisons my joy. This doesn’t mean you can’t be a comfort to a discouraged friend, but guard the joy the Lord Jesus gives you when you encounter people who choose to live in bitterness. Don’t let anyone steal your joy.

3. Confess your sin.

David wrote, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty” (Psalm 32:2). When did he write those words? After he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Before he confessed his sin, he was in agony and without joy (check out verse 3). But once David confessed his sin, his joy returned.

When you have unconfessed sin in your life and the Holy Spirit is convicting you, it’s tough to have joy. Come clean. Ask the Holy Spirit to search out and destroy any sin in your life. Then ask Him to permanently change you.

4. Limit your obligations.

When you say yes to too many things — even good things — you have less time to read your Bible, pray and sleep. Instead of loading your schedule from morning to evening with all kinds of things, let God point you to the right choices and responsibilities. The Bible says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV). Joy is found by saying no to some things so you can say yes to spending time with God and following His priorities.

5. Be yourself.

When you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you, “Why weren’t you more like so and so?” God will simply evaluate how effectively you served Him with the gifts He gave to you. You see, God made you to be you.

Isaiah described God as the One who “formed me in the womb to be his servant” (Isaiah 49:5, NIV). From birth, God has guided your life to fulfill His purposes. Don’t compare yourself to others; be all that you can be with the help of the Holy Spirit in service to your Lord and Savior.

Please read the next words carefully: You make a very poor somebody else, but you sure do make a great you! Celebrate who you are under God and let your joy remain strong.

6. Take hold of your future.

At a key point in Israel’s history, after the exiles returned to their homeland and began rebuilding the temple, there were those who “wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid” (Ezra 3:12, NIV).

Why would anyone feel sorrow at such a time? Because these were people who remembered the previous temple, the grand edifice Solomon had built that was destroyed by the Babylonians. The people were dejected because they looked back to the way things used to be. But God wanted to do something new among them and give them a glorious future.

I’m a firm believer in the biblical truth that God is sovereign and controls the lives of His people. When you realize and accept that truth, then your joy will be strong because you understand that God, rather than your past, determines your future.

7. Focus on God’s promises rather than your problems.

Mark my words, your focus is like fertilizer. If you focus on your problems, you feed them and they will grow. On the other hand, if you focus on God’s promises, you feed them and they will grow. Which will it be for you?

The Bible says, “I will never forget your commandments, for you have used them to restore my joy and health” (Psalm 119:93, NLT). Pray today, “Lord God, I need Your help. Empower me to focus on Your promises instead of my problems. I know You can restore my joy and health. I ask You to do this for me this week.”

THOMAS LINDBERG, D. Min., is the pastor of Memphis First Assembly in Tennessee.

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