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Transforming the Mind: Choosing Joy

ThemindMy friends, the Transforming the Mind series is continuing. Abba keeps giving me more and more to learn and share with you. What I love so much about this is that as I teach it I’m learning it as well. Just like what it says in Romans:

You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? — Romans 2:21

So if God calls you to teach, then do it! He will give you what you need to know and pass on. Now, back to our series which began with Feasting on God’s Word, then continued with Claiming and Praying God’s Promises, Giving the Holy Spirit Authority, Pleading the Blood of Jesus, and last week, Thanking and Praising.

The more I learn about transforming our minds (Romans 12:2), the more I see that everything starts in our minds. Everything. Sin, transformation, healing, etc. All of it. And we have more control over it than we realize. I believe this is what James talks about when he describes waves being blown and tossed by the wind. This is an untransformed mind.

Our frame of mind, way of thinking and past experiences influence how we live in, react to (or don’t react to ) and view the world, including those around us. This is what all those self help books are about—having a positive attitude. The reason they often fail is because they rely on an individual’s limited ability to change and the world’s changing standards and definitions as judgement.

But we, the family of God, have a better book—the Bible—to teach us how to see ourselves and our lives through the lens of our Creator, who’s love is constant and unchanging and holds no condemnation for us, His children (Romans 8:1).

And I believe this transformed mind is absolutely vital to thriving in our mismatched marriages. How we perceive things and what we focus on will direct the course of our every day lives. And I have learned that wherever I have a struggle, I must first look inward to first to discover if the root is within me or if I need an attitude adjustment to handle the situation. In other words, I can't change those around me, but I can choose how I will handle situations and conflicts. And sometimes we may need to face that we are the problem. But even then, we have the power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20) working in us to bring transformation! That is full of hope and promise! And as we change and are transformed, we influence our pre-believer in ways we don’t even realize.

In today’s post, I want to talk to you about choosing joy. Abba has shown me much about joy in the last few months that I’m just now piecing together. The Old Testament talks about the oil of joy. This is something that He often has me pass on to others, especially when I work in the healing rooms here.

And Scripture also tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). But recently an interview article, Kay Warren on Depression, Grief and Hope, written by Amy Simpson (Today’s Christian Woman) struck me with a new understanding of what it means to choose joy.

“I realized I had completely misunderstood joy. No wonder I wasn't experiencing it! I was going after the wrong thing. I was going after an emotion. And what God wanted to give me was himself. The definition of joy I'm working with is a settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life. The quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right. And the determined choice to praise God in all things.” — Kay Warren

First let me clarify that joy and happiness are two different things. Joy is based upon the constant presence and love of our Great God and trusting Him with every detail of our lives. Happiness is contingent upon circumstances. We can have joy and choose to be joyful and joy-filled even when our circumstances make us unhappy. The danger we often run into is that when we feel unhappy, we relinquish our joy.

But we don't have to. We can choose joy even in our most challenging times. It's not easy, but I am learning to do this more and more. The new understanding I'm beginning to grasp is that instead of waiting for joy to "show up," like an emotion, we can take action and ask for and choose to accept joy as a gift from Jesus. Scripture even tells us this:

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. — Romans 5:11
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1Thess. 5:16-18
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13
“For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” 

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. — Isaiah 61:8-10

This is our inheritance and ours to choose—to ask and pray for. And did you notice how thankfulness and gratitude are intertwined with joy as well as hope? Think of thankfulness and gratitude as the soil of our minds and joy is the seed to be planted there. What springs forth is hope. So you see, if our minds are cluttered with bitterness, unforgiveness, self-condemnation, lies from the enemy, etc., the joy of the Lord will wither and even die. And then we become hopeless. And for us to lose hope is as death. I firmly believe that is one of the most heartbreaking conditions of all to our Lord Jesus—to see people lose hope.

My friends, I don't have this completely figured out, but I do know that what we focus on and think about has profound effect on our mental, physical and spiritual health. They are all interconnected as God designed them to be.

And He has given us the ability to choose. This is powerful (even to determine our eternal destination—to choose Jesus) and when we use this power of choice out of a desire to honor God and be obedient, we have a mind controlled by the Spirit, which tells us is life and peace. That is a powerful promise from our Abba and again, it's ours to choose.

It takes practice and intentionality, but it is so worth it. The more we do this, the less we are like those waves whipped around by the waves of the world, of our challenges and circumstances, and the stronger we stand in our lives and marriages. We can allow our thoughts, feelings and emotions to control us or we can partner with the Holy Spirit to transform our minds so that those same thoughts, feelings and emotions will fall in line and be reflective of God’s truth working in us.

So I’m asking Jesus for joy. I’m asking He restore the joy of His salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:12).

I’m choosing joy.

Love you dearly, my friends!

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