A question I get asked often is, "I know the Bible says I am to rejoice always." (1 Thessalonians 5:16 NIV) "But, in light of my problems, how do I do that?" These 13 steps answer that question:
1. Expect Problems.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NKJV)
Expecting a trouble-free, comfortable life is a trap into which many Christians fall. However, it was not realistic when Jesus walked the earth, and it is not true today. So, if you are to have peace and be of good cheer, you must expect problems.
2. Distinguish Between Happiness and Joy.
Rejoice always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16 NIV)
Notice that Paul did not say, "Be happy always." I think there is a difference. Happiness is because of circumstances; joy is in spite of circumstances.
3. Acknowledge that You Direct Your Emotions.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)
Your thoughts about people, events and circumstances determine your feelings, not the people, events and circumstances themselves.
4. Decide to Rejoice.
Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit; though the olive crops all fail; and the fields lie barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be happy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)
Instead of allowing circumstances to dictate whether or not he rejoiced, Habakkuk decided that he would rejoice, despite the circumstances. If you are to rejoice, you must do likewise.
5. Challenge and Replace Joy-Robbing Thoughts.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)
In order to rejoice, you must challenge every thought you have. If the thought matches Jesus' word, continue thinking it. If the thought does not match Jesus' word, replace it with one that does.
6. Act Based on What You Know.
Be doers of the word and not hearers only. (James 1:22 NKJV)
"I know the Bible says I should not worry, but...."
Eliminate the "But" and simply do not worry, just as the Bible says.
7. Focus on the Benefits of Problems.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Before God can use us for his purpose, we must be purified. The purification process involves being subjected to problems.
8. Make Gratitude A Habit.
Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEV)
No matter what your circumstances are, you can find things for which you can be thankful. I recently had a flat tire while traveling to an appointment. While waiting for roadside assistance, I thanked God for several things, including the fact that I had roadside assistance, that I had a cell phone, that my cell phone was charged, and that I had plenty of gas which allowed me to keep the engine running to keep warm in the 5 degree weather.
9. Create an Obsession for Praying.
Never Stop Praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT)
10. Develop an Eternal Perspective.
Set your mind on things above; not on the things that are on earth.(Colossians 3:2 NKJV)
As Billy Graham said, "My home is in heaven. I'm just passing through this world."
11. Use Paul as a Role Model.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV)
Despite many hardships, including being shipwrecked, beaten, and jailed, Paul's response was: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV) In fact, in the book of Philippians Paul mentioned "joy" or "rejoice" sixteen times.
12. Serve Others.
For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom; not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. (Galatians 5:13 TLB)
Jesus is the ultimate example of serving others, as he gave up the comforts of heaven to suffer a brutal death to pay the penalty for our sins.
13. Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Jesus.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
Peter was able to walk on water, until he took his eyes off Jesus and began focusing on his problems. (Matthew 14:28-31)
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