Thursday, July 31, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Surrender it All to Him

“A wife who is 85 percent faithful to her husband is not faithful at all.
There is no such thing as part-time loyalty to Jesus Christ.”
― Vance Havner

Surrender it all to Him.

You cannot fulfill God's plan for life while focusing on your own plans. God can only change you life if you let  Him. God gives us free will to choose Him - or not. In this world, it is easy to be a good person. Be kind, share with others, and go to church. But sometimes our best is not good enough, and in this life there will always be situations that are out of our control. You can’t control the economy. You can’t control the weather. You can't control the people around you. You can’t control a lot of things that will affect and impact your life. Surrendering your life to the Lord will cause a total transformation to take place, and give you an everlasting assurance that everything will always be OK. Surrender means the giving over of one person's, rights, and possessions to another. But you will have to surrender more than just your physical body. It also includes one’s heart, mind, spirit, emotions, thoughts, talents, and gifts. If someone placed a bowl of chocolate candy in front of you, you would have to make a choice. You couldn't just ignore it or wish it would go away - you would have to take action and make a decision, a choice – whether to eat it or put it away. Your life is an example of something that you possess. It belongs to you. To surrender your whole life to the Lord is a decision that only you can make. No one else can make that decision for you. Many Christians have made a concrete decision to open their hearts to Jesus and to say “yes” to His will, and so can you. When you begin to give every area of your life over to Him you will see a real change. Let God perform a makeover on your life! He loves you, but He doesn't want you to stay the way you are, He wants better for you. He wants you to allow Him to mold you into the person you were intended to be - full of joy, life, and hope. Take that step of faith and begin living the life God has for you. He doesn't want a part of you, He wants all of you. It may not seem logical at first, but you do what God says because God’s way is always best. With every act of obedience to Him, there is a blessing for you, and your life will be better for it. God only wants the best for you - but you cannot receive what He has for you until you decide to let Him in your heart. It does take effort on your part, and you can do it with His help. Will you decide to live for God, or live for yourself? Time and time again we will have to surrender to Him both the big and little things in life. But I can promise you this - if you choose to live for Him, you can rest knowing that your joy of a better life is on the way!

Focus Scriptures:
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

James 4:8
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Romans 6:13
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Joy in Action Today:
You decide! Choose what you will do today that will help you to produce consistent joy in your life. Talk to God. Pray daily. Meditate on encouraging scriptures. Write in a journal. Fight negative thoughts, and surround yourself with people who will help build your character. Joy is portable, so take it with you wherever you go!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Speak Life

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you.
Listen in such a way that others enjoy speaking to you.”
― Anonymous

Speak life.

The words we speak will either build us up or tear us down. So when we speak, where do the words come from? Do they come from some thoughts conjured up in our brain? What we speak depends on what’s filling your heart. Jesus said, “. . . out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). A critical heart produces a critical tongue. A self-righteous heart produces a judgmental tongue. A bitter heart produces an acerbic tongue. An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue. But a loving heart produces a gracious tongue. A faithful heart produces a truthful tongue. A peaceful heart produces a reconciling tongue. A trusting heart produces an encouraging tongue. So fill your heart with life, grace, and love by soaking in your Bible. Read Matthew 5, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, or Philippians 2. Be very careful taking in the words of death from the newspaper, on the radio, the TV, or the Internet. Our tongue can either bring blessings or curses upon us. For example, a liar can cause the death of an innocent man, or a comforter can give hope to a suicidal person by an uplifting word. A slanderer can destroy the reputation of a good person, and a seductive woman can use her tempting words to ruin a man's life. Godly parents can teach and encourage their children the truth of God's Word, setting them on the path of life. Pay attention to the way your speak to yourself. Are you speaking words of life or discouraging words of negativity over your mind and body? How do you talk to those around you? Are you encouraging and uplifting the ones you care about? Good words give life and timing is important. The wise person will speak the truth when and where it's fitting and needful. If you are giving advice, be sensitive and compassionate to the one you are advising. Think before you speak. Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten. We are here to love each other, serve each other and uplift each other. Use your to words to pronounce blessings on those around you.

Focus Scriptures:
Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Joy in Action Today: 
Practice speaking life. Intentionally speak good and kind words today. 
Example: Look in the mirror and recite one of your favorite scriptures. Give someone a compliment. Express your appreciation for someone you love, by calling them and telling them how much you value them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Keep Going

“It is hard to beat someone who never gives up.”
― Babe Ruth

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is life so difficult sometimes? When will I get my blessing? God can handle your emotions — He gave them to you, after all! So tell Him how you feel. He can handle your anger, doubt, fear, questions, grief, and even your complaints. Be honest; tell it to God. Get it off your shoulders. Spill your guts and tell God exactly how you feel. After you pray about it, get up and do something about it! Don’t look at the temporary problem; look at the long-term reward. Don’t look at the temporary pain; look at the long-term gain. Don’t look at it with the short-term view, “What’s happening to me right now?” Instead, look at the character that you are building because you haven’t given up. You’re hanging in there. God is more interested in what you are becoming in the process, than what you accomplish. So what are you doing while you wait? Take the first step. Don't quit, because a month from now you will be much closer to your goal then you were today. Consistency always pays off. It's like paying a bill off, each payment you make, the bill gets lower and lower until you completely finish paying off that bill. Doing good things consistently, will pay off later down the line. Read scriptures to encourage yourself to keep going. Make today count.

Focus Scriptures:
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long, but they will produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the trouble we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Hebrews 6:10
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Joy in Action Today:
Grab a sheet of paper and write a letter to God. Pour out your feelings and tell Him how you feel. Be honest. Fold up your letter, put it in a safe place, then pray about what you wrote. Thank Him for all that you have, then ask the Lord to help you deal with whatever issues you may be facing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Realize Who You Are

“Who you were, who you are, and who you will be are three different people.”
― Unknown

Realize who you are.

You know your name, you know your birthday, and you know your favorite food. But do you really know who you are? Do you know who God says you are? Negative thoughts, bad attitudes, and poor decisions can effect our lives if we do not fully know our identity in Christ. When we know who we are in Christ, we become joyful just to know who we really are. When we became born again, God gave us a new start in life. I am now the person God says I am. Regardless of what I was before God saved me, regardless of what other people think of me, I am now the person God says I am. God has forgiven me of all my sins—past, present, and future. I am loved by God, not because of what I have done, but because of who I am. I am a child of God, and friend of Jesus. I am more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens me. Within each choice and decision we make, we discover a little more about who we are. When we don't realize who we are in Christ, our faith will be crippled. If you don't feel worthy to exercise your authority in Christ, then you won't be doing it in the fullness of faith and will lack assurance. Satan works diligently to program people's minds to feel unworthy and unable to walk in power of God here on earth. The truth is that we, by our own power and effort, are unworthy, but it is the Blood of Jesus that makes us worthy.

Focus Scriptures:
Hebrews 10:17
Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

John 1:12
But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name—

John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease.

Ephesians 1:4
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Joy in Action Today:
Who does God say you are? Do you know? Grab a piece of paper, then write down some things you love to do. How do you like to spend your free time? What do you enjoy doing most? What drives you in life? Pray and ask God to show you your purpose and how you can help be an asset to the Kingdom of God and His people.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Have an Attitude of Gratitude

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
― Cynthia Ozick

Have an attitude of gratitude. 

Anything good that you have has come from God. You didn’t get it by luck, ingenuity, hard work, wit, or wisdom. It is proper to be thankful to God for every good thing in your life. You’re not just simply to be thankful one day a year. One day is not long enough to thank God for all that He’s given you. His blessings come daily. Every day God has brand-new blessings for you. Every prayer that you pray ought to be salted with thanks. Every morning when you get up, instead of fretting and complaining, instead of turning to the media to see how bad everything is, just go and look out of the window. Take a deep breath and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” It makes you feel better just to think of doing that, doesn't it? How much better it will make you feel if you follow that practice every day! Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths. In everything give thanks. Not in some things, but in all things. Every thing, every area of life is to be a the subject of thanksgiving. There’s so much to be thankful for. Be thankful for spiritual things. If you didn't have anything else but Jesus, you would have enough to praise God for all eternity. Be thankful for the simple things. You should be thankful for your families, health, food, and even a glass of water. Even be thankful for the sorrowful things. You can even be thankful for the heartaches, the pains, and the sufferings because Romans 8:28 says, “…All things work together for good…” Although the situation may not good, it is God Who is working all things together for our good. It is God’s will that we “give thanks in everything”. All of us have simple, beautiful things that God has given us, which we can appreciate. Open your eyes and see that God “does wonderful things without number” every day! Thankful people are joyful people.

Focus Scriptures:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 68:19
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah.

James 1:17
Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the
creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.

Psalm 107:1
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Joy in Action Today:
Start a gratitude journal. Each and every day, write down one thing you are thankful for. At the end of each day, read each entry. Give God thanks and praise for all that He has done for you. Continue doing this daily.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Let Go of Your Fears

“The key to change is to let go of fear."
― Anonymous

Let go of your fears.

Sometimes the world that we live in can be a very scary place. Maybe you fear what people think of you, or not having enough money. Some have a fear of public speaking, flying, being far from home, or spiders. Some fear failure, rejection, pain, or losing a loved one. This world has many things capable of inducing fear, but with God and the Bible, the wonderful news is that you don't have to be afraid. What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid? Whatever it is that you fear, chances are it’s affecting you in both seen and unseen ways. Fear is a cancer in your life. Fear in your mind leads to stress in your body. Jesus spoke the Word of God throughout his ministry. When faced with the devil's lies and temptations, he countered with the truth of God's Word. The spoken Word of God is like a living, powerful sword in our mouths (Hebrews 4:12), and if Jesus depended upon it to face challenges in life, so can we. More than any other command, the Bible says, “fear not.” You will find this command and its variations in the Scripture many times. One example is Psalm 56. David has been seized by the Philistines and he starts to become afraid, but instead he sets his vision on his Lord and Savior in his midst. He praises God and God says to him: “Fear not!” David then puts his trust in the Lord. Every occasion of “fear not” throughout the Bible is accompanied by something important that God wants to say to us, not with an angry tone, but rather in the loving invitational way. Just saying that might not mean much - but when you think about it, it is true. God is always there for you in your times of trouble. You can pray to Him for guidance. Sometimes simply knowing He is there can calm your spirits and make you less afraid of what you are experiencing in your life. To be free of fear you have to eliminate the habits of fear-based thinking. Replace thoughts of fear with thoughts of peace and victory.

Focus Scriptures:
2 Timothy 2:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

Joy in Action Today:
Pray like David, “When I am afraid of _________, I will trust in you, O Lord.” If you’re not afraid now, pray it anyway! A time of strength is the best time to pray because then you can “watch and pray” with Jesus, preparing your heart now to take refuge in the Lord when temptation or fear does come.

Friday, July 25, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Take Responsibility

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves
to recognize how good things really are.”
―Marianne Williamson

Take responsibility.

We must stand up and accept responsibility for our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. No one else is responsible; not the devil, not our friends, nor our neighbors, our families and definitely not our circumstances (as some would have us believe). What each and every individual thinks, feels or does is his or her responsibility. It's a result of free choice. For instance, 2 Peter 3:18 commands us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." Whose responsibility is it to work on my personal growth? Is it the preacher's job to get us to grow? Is it our parent's task to babysit us as we grow? We need to quit blaming our actions, thoughts and feelings on someone or something else. If I'm not growing it's because I'm not doing the things growth requires. If I'm not learning, its because I'm not studying. If I feel abandoned by God, its because I've separated myself from Him. If I feel empty, its because I've not allowed God to fill my life with meaning. If I feel lonely, its because I won't allow God to hold my hand and lift me up. I must work on my personal relationship with Him daily - and only God can help me do that. Friends and family, brothers and sisters in Christ can assist me, but whether I have their help or not, I am ultimately responsible for all that I think, all that I feel, and all that I do.

Focus Scriptures:
Galatians 6:5
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

1 Corinthians 3:8
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

Psalm 62:12
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love"; and, "You reward everyone according to what they have done.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

Joy in Action Today:
Take a hold of your responsibility today! Is there something you have been procrastinating in doing? Is there someone you need to call? Is there a task you need to plan for? Do it! Set aside a time today to take one step toward accomplishing something.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Serve Others in Love

“Often the best way to see the needs of others is to stop looking at our own.”
- -Kristen Welch

Serve others in love.
A servant is one who is under submission to another. For Christians, this means submission to God first, and then submission to one another. A servant is one who helps to meet the needs of the person he is serving. It means willingly giving of oneself to do whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for another. Mothers serve their children. Pastors serve their congregation. A business man serves his customers. God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution. You weren't created just to consume resources — to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. God wants you to give something back. The Bible says, “In our union with Christ Jesus He has created us for a life of good deeds, which He has already prepared for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). These “good deeds” are your service to the world.Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God and fulfilling one of your purposes. Love is an action - not so much a feeling, but it’s what you say and do. Serving in love means helping someone because you honestly want to; not grudgingly or because you are expecting anything in return. Whatever we are doing we should be doing it “for the Lord and not for men" because ”our inheritance" will ultimately come from Jesus Christ. Jesus said "if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward”. (Matt 10:42) Even though we are not physically serving Jesus, when we serve another person here on earth, it’s like giving Jesus a cold drink of water. What we do for others, Jesus sees it as doing it for Him. Many times we think that helping only comes in the form of cash donations, and this is not true. We serve others by giving our time, our advice, or even a shoulder to cry on. Serving in love comes in many forms. Some people choose to visit the sick. Maybe you can serve by running errands for someone who is unable to. Perhaps you can offer to share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day. Find a way to be a blessing to someone else, and the Lord will smile upon you.

Focus Scriptures:
Colossians 3:12
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:24
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.

Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Joy in Action Today:
Task yourself to complete a good deed today. Don't tell anyone about it, just do it. Once it is done, thank God for enabling you to be a blessing to someone else.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Stop Making Excuses

“If it is important to you, you will find a way.
If not, you will make an excuse.”
― Unknown

Stop making excuses.

The dictionary definition of "excuse" is "to make allowance for a short-coming; to overlook; to serve as justification for; to vindicate." As people, we are especially good at making excuses. Sometimes we make excuses to try to keep from hurting someone's feelings. Other times we make excuses to avoid responsibility for our actions. We make excuses for things we did wrong, times we failed, things we don't want to do, situations we don't want to be in. Making excuses isn't a good practice and it is especially dangerous when we start making excuses in our spiritual walk with God. Excuses began with the first sin ever committed. It's in the Bible, Genesis 3:11-13. God asked Adam, 'Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?' Adam said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then God said to Eve, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.' When God gives direction He expects cooperation not excuses. We make excuses when we don't want to obey (like commands to forgive, or to stop gossiping). We make excuses when we don't want to go where God sends us (it may be a mission field, or it may be a visit to a friend, or it may be church). We make excuses when we don't want to believe what God tells us (that all things work for the good). Whatever the challenge, God will be with you. You may not be strong enough by yourself, but you are not by yourself! God is with you. Many people are living miserable lives right now because they refuse to do what God has told them to do. Rather then moving forward, they continue to make excuses to stay in their comfort zone. Instead of obeying God they try to come up with reasons why they shouldn't have to obey. Instead of trusting God's promise they trust their fears. It's time to stop resisting and start following. It's time to stop saying, "I can't" and start saying, "He can".

Focus Scriptures:
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Hebrews 10:26
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Joy in Action Today:
Make a list of things you need God to help you with. Pray and ask Him to help you to make a change in you. Continue to pray the same prayer until you see a change in your life. 
Example: "Lord, please help me to stop..." "God I need your help to..." "Lord, I know with your help I can..."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Use What God Has Given You

“Good things aren't going to just fall in your lap.
God is generous, but He expects you to do your part first."
― Unknown

Use what God has given you.

Do you realize that you have value and that you can make a difference in the world? God has given you unique abilities, talents, and gifts. You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. If you think your talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life. God gave you talents to benefit others, just like He gave other people talents that benefit you. God makes a habit of taking simple things and simple people and using them in profound ways. Throughout history God has taken shepherds, fisherman, tax-collectors, children and a whole list of unique individuals and used them to change the world. We’re all a part of the body of Christ, and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. You are shaped to serve God, and he is testing you to see how you are going to use the talents he gave you. When God gives you a talent, he expects you to use it. It’s like a muscle. If you use it, it will grow. If you don’t, you’ll lose it. If you have a talent but are afraid to use it, or if you get lazy and don’t use it to benefit others, you’re going to lose it. Like the parable of the ten talents in Luke 19, if you don’t use what God has given you, He will take it  away and give it to someone else who will. But if you use your talents wisely, God will give you more. If you use your time wisely, God will give you more time. If you use your energy wisely, God will give you more energy. If you use your influence wisely, God will increase your influence. God will bless your level of faithfulness. Whether you are a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others, so practice it, love it, and do it to the best of your ability.

Focus Scriptures:
1 Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Joy in Action Today:
Make a list of the things that you are good at. What do you love to do? How can you use these talents to help others?

Monday, July 21, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Let Go and Move Forward

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
― Unknown

Let go and move forward.

Once you become saved and born again, the Bible tells us that we have now become new creations in Jesus Christ. Our slates have now been wiped fully clean, and we have now been given a brand new start in this life. Before we can lay hold of the new things that God wants to do in our lives, we have to let go of the old things-and it becomes a test of our faith. Many of us are bound up in our past – and as a result, we cannot fully live in the present. Past hurts, prior guilt, old disappointments, ended relationships, etc., should never stop us from moving forward. All of us have a certain amount of baggage that we carry from our past. Some of us carry lighter loads than others. Some have learned how to let go of their past because they have found out that it will seriously damage their walk with the Lord and what He wants to do with their lives. They have found that carrying around some of the baggage from their past and constantly dwelling on it will steal their joy and happiness in the Lord. Before you can really start to move forward in your divine destiny with the Lord , you will first have to learn how to let your past fully go. God can fully heal you and break off any past chain if you are willing to believe that He can do it for you. When we sense that the Lord is leading us into new territory, we can either move forward in faith, or we can shrink back in fear to what is familiar. Failing to trust God always robs us of receiving His best for us.

Focus Scriptures:
Isaiah 43:18-19
But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

Philippians 3:12
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Luke 9:62
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Joy in Action Today:
Pray and ask God to help you to forgive. Ask Him to give you the strength to move on from your past, and not remember old hurts. Pray that the Lord would renew your joy, then choose joy. Choose to be happy. Choose to forget anything that will make you feel anything other than joyful.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Have Hope

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”
― Unknown

Have hope.

What if everything you ever wanted just happened the way you planned? Biblical hope is a sure foundation upon which we base our lives, believing that God always keeps His promises. Without hope we would never fully trust in God with all our hearts. House alarms, security guards, and metal detectors offer some hope for protection against crime. The eternal hope in Christ means that you’re completely secure in God’s hand in this world, and in heaven. When the storms of life are raging, your anchor is the hope that God is in control. Because of our hope in the blood of Jesus, believers don’t have to worry about the shame of our sins. We confess our sins and are covered by His sacrifice. Christians can come boldly to the throne of grace and seek God’s help because of hope. In the darkest hours and the deepest pain, we can still have hope. Believers in Jesus Christ can praise Him even when everything around them looks bad. Our hope in God reveals that He is in control and He uses everything for our good. The demands of this life can beat us down spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Yet remembering the hope we have in Christ to overcome evil with good, to bless and not curse, and to draw on give us joy in Him. God's Word gives us renewed energy to face the world.

Focus Scriptures:
Psalm 33:22
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 62:5
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 119:114
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

Lamentations 3:21-22
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

Psalm 25:3
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.

Joy in Action Today: 
Write down today's focus scriptures. Recite them aloud. Whenever you start to lose hope, or feel completely  hopeless, go back to reading your scriptures, and think about them. What is each scripture trying to tell you?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Have Patience

“Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.
― John Ortberg

Have patience.

So, you may be at a fork in the road of your life right now. Whatever your dilemma may be, you must make a decision. Will you be patient and wait on God, or be impatient and act on your own will? All over the Bible there are stories of men and women experiencing tough decisions, and the reactions vary from all of them. Some grumbled against God because of lack of water (Exodus 15:24), others worshipped God in trials and adversity (Job 1:20), others cried out to God in despair (Psalm 18:6), and the list goes on. Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind. Having patience means that we are going to wait and rely on God’s timing. In Scripture, God consistently rewards those who patiently wait for the fulfillment of His promises. Patience teaches us to rest in Him, even during the storms of life. We all struggle with "waiting on the Lord," even if we know that "good things come to those who wait." But if we choose not to wait, 1 Samuel tells us that a "lack of patience" can also cause us to miss a blessing. When we praise God in our waiting, He gives us the strength to keep going. Be strong enough to let go, and patient enough to wait for what you deserve. The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when you get it. Any blessing from God is definitely worth waiting for.

Focus Scriptures:
Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Joy in Action Today:
What is one thing in your life you need to work on having more patience with? Pray and ask God to show you how to have more patience with other people and things.

Friday, July 18, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Take a Leap of Faith

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
to lose sight of the shore.”
― Anonymous

Take a leap of faith.

What is a leap of faith? While it may be true that people use this phrase in different ways, it seems that there is one way in which it is generally used. For many, a “leap of faith” is a willingness to believe something, even if they have their doubts about it. As believers, God has called us to take leaps of faith in our lives. God wants us to trust Him when making decisions, even if we are not completely sure of the outcome. We don't have to be worry or fearful if God tells you to do something, because when we jump, we know that we step into the arms of Jesus. Have you ever watched a small child at a swimming pool? The small child is at first reluctant to jump into deep water. but when they see that one of their parents is in the water with arms outstretched, they know that they have nothing to fear and will gladly and even eagerly jump because they totally trust their parent to catch them! The same concept applies in life when we are taking leaps of faith and trusting God to protect and guide us. Know for certain in your heart that God exists. Become convinced that His word is true. Be fully assured that He will keep His promises. Once you have this kind of faith, act upon it, and live by it. We do not need to take a leap of faith to become a Christian; we simply just need to “walk by faith” and trust God in every decision to help us become who He has called us to be. God will reward you for your obedience, and you will learn how to begin to trust Him more and more.

Focus Scriptures:
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Joy in Action Today:
Pray and ask God to help you to step out of your comfort zone. Talk to Him about what you are concerned about. Ask Him to give you strength to try new things.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Get to Know Him

“A relationship with God is the best relationship you can have.
You can be sure that it will last forever.”
― Anonymous

Get to know Him.

Helping us stay “connected” has become big business in our culture. Smart phones, Facebook, and Twitter give us instant access to friends, family, work, and the world. But how much effort do we invest in connecting with our Heavenly Father? The bible shows that joy increases because of our increasing relationship with God. The bible says that joy is a gift to those who belong to Jesus. The Lord designed us to relate to Him. That’s what it means to be made in His image (Gen. 1:26). We’ve been given a spirit that can communicate with His Spirit. Just look at the earth and the heavens above. Although God is the Creator of all these things, He can never interact with a mountain or a star as He does with you. There is no higher honor that He could have given us than to be made in His image. God wants you to discover Him and experience Him a relationship with Him! So what does it take to begin a relationship with God? Wait for lightning to strike? Devote yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Become a better person so that God will accept you? NONE of these. God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him. We have to fall in love with God for who He is. The first step for closeness with the Lord is getting to know Him—who He is, what He does, how He thinks, and what He desires. Even though God is invisible and inaudible to our physical senses, a close relationship with Him is cultivated the same way human friendships are—through time spent together, communication, and vulnerability, and shared interests. The more time you spend with God, the more you will get to know God. It's not hard, but you have to start somewhere. Some Christians confuse knowing the Lord with knowing about Him. But no experience we have with Him or fact we learn about Him should ever be a strictly academic pursuit. Rather, such knowledge ought to continually transform us, influence others, and prepare us for heaven.

Focus Scriptures:
Psalm 68:3
May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Joy in Action Today:
Get to know the same way you would get to know a new friend. Get to know Him by by reading your bible. Talk to Him by praying. In your prayer time, ask God to teach you how to get to know Him better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Pray and Don't Worry

“Worrying is stupid.
It's like always walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain."
― Anonymous

Pray and don't worry.

Once you have given God your love and your life, Jesus teaches you can give Him your worries by asking God to provide for your needs and the trusting that He will provide. What do you need today? Energy to make it through the day? Finances? Wisdom? If you trust in God, then there is no need to worry about your life. One of the best sayings to live by is "let go and let God." The only thing that worrying will do is ruin your day. The emotion will make living dark, depressing, and adds up to hours and hours of invaluable time that you'll never get back. Worry accomplishes absolutely nothing. Worrying is destructive to us in many ways. It becomes a mental burden that can even cause us to grow physically sick. Worrying is the opposite of trusting God, and outs your focus on the wrong things. So what do you do? You've got two to alternatives to worrying: panic or pray. When you talk to God about your needs, you be specific, and do it with thanksgiving. Don't just say, "Lord bless me" because blessings can come in many forms. Be honest with Him. God says you can pray about anything and everything. Nothing is too great for God's power. Nothing is too insignificant for His care. Anything worth worrying about is worth praying about. If we prayed as much as we worried, we'd have a lot less to worry about! Give God your worries. We were not designed to carry burdens and decisions that we can't control. As believers we have God's help to make it through anything. When we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember his love for us and we realize we truly have nothing to worry about. God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of us.

Focus Scriptures:
Philippians 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Psalm 55:22
Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Proverbs 12:25
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

1 Peter 5:7
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Joy in Action Today:
Make a list of the things you worry about. Everyday, pray over each area of worry until God intervenes. Pray that God will renew your mind and trust Him until things get better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Make a Commitment to Change a Bad Habit

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle

Make a commitment
to change a bad habit.

We all have habits, both good and bad. Anything you do automatically without consciously thinking about it, or without specifically deciding to do it, is a habit. Good habits such as tidiness, courtesy, good manners etc. are great practices to continue - but when the habits you've picked up are bad or destructive, we must ask God for help to change before these habits one day ruin our lives. There are many bad habits that we have that are more subtle than others, but are as unacceptable as talking dirty, using tobacco or abusing alcohol. Some people have the bad habit of wanting their own way all the time, or continually talking bad about others. We should not just want to change a habit only because it is embarrassing, expensive, unhealthy, or makes us feel guilty - instead, we should want God's greater purpose for our life to be fulfilled. God does not want you to be controlled by or addicted to anyone or anything; He has given you freedom! The first step is to make up your mind and make a commitment to get rid of the bad habit. The second step is to do it! Defeating a habit requires changes in lifestyle. We are to make no provision for the flesh. The person who wants to stop smoking should throw away all his cigarettes and not buy any more; the person struggling with sexual sin should get rid of any suggestive materials in his possession. Avoid the company of those who have the same problem. Make up in your mind that you will change - then do it.

Focus Scriptures:
Galatians 5:16
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Romans 13:14
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Joy in Action Today:
What bad habit do you need to overcome to experience freedom? Pray daily and ask God to strengthen you as you work to quit your bad habits.

Monday, July 14, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Get Rid of Stuff

“Don't confuse having less with being less, having more with being more,
or what you have with who you are.”
― Unknown

Get rid of stuff.

What is it about stuff, anyway? Why are we so enthralled with it and why do we accumulate so much more than we need or could ever use? Maybe we want to be cool. Maybe the latest "must-have" item will make us the envy of our friends. Maybe we enjoy being admired when we’re driving in a shiny new car because t makes us feel successful. Stuff carries a high price, not only monetarily, but spiritually as well. When these nice things become all we think about, the things begin to control us and It draws us away from Jesus. It lures us into chasing after things, instead of after God. It can make us greedy because we want to use our money for more stuff instead of maybe helping someone who is in need. It tempts us into loving things more than people. Choosing God over material things may be one of the toughest decisions you'll ever make, but it’s the only way to lasting fulfillment and peace of mind. Tangible things can break, be stolen, or fall apart. True joy comes from you relationship with God, which is forever. He will not leave you and no one can make Him stop loving you. He won't charge you to spend time with Him and He will be there in the good times and bad. God wants us to be abundantly blessed and have nice things, but He does not want those nice things to take His place in our hearts.

Focus Scriptures:
Luke 12:15
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

1 John 2:17
And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Joy in Action Today:
What possessions do I spend the most time with? Is there a daily activity that I do that is taking away time that I can be spending with God? Set aside a time in your schedule to spend alone time with God. Turn off  the electronics, find a comfortable space, and ask to not be disturbed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Set a Goal, Then Reach It

“Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about the method to get you there.”
― Anonymous

Set a goal, then reach it.

Is there something you have always wanted to do, but never got around to doing it? What is God's purpose for your life? What is your life passion? Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try. Research has revealed that people have more difficulty setting goals than they do accomplishing them once they are set. Setting goals is a part of spiritual discipline. It's not just a good idea; the Bible says you need to set goals in order to grow in your faith. Goals stretch you and help you become all God wants you to be. God says it makes good sense to plan. It’s good to have goals in every area of your life – spiritual, marriage, family, career, finances, etc. But having goals is not enough. We need a way to reach them. Set a plan, and work toward it. Don't let fear take control or get in the way once you start moving forward toward your goals. If our plans focus on Christ and honor Him, He will see to it that the best results—the eternal results—are ours. Keep working hard and don't worry when or how it will happen. Continue to pray about it. Praying for your goals does two things: It reveals desire, and it shows your dependence. It shows God how much you want something, and it shows Him you trust Him to help you. When you do accomplish your goals, remember to give God the glory! It is not only by your own doing, but by God's strength you were able to do.

Focus Scriptures:
Proverbs 29:18
Without a vision the people perish.

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Matthew 6:33-34
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Joy in Action Today:
Write down one goal you would like to have complete by the end of the week. Next, write down one goal you would like to finish by the end of the month. Write down a third goal you would like to accomplish by the end of the year. Now create a plan of action for how you will reach each goal. Pray about each goal and ask the Lord to help you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Share Your Story

“Your story is the key that can unlock someone else's prison. Share your testimony."
― Anonymous

Share your story.

A testimony is simply honoring the Lord by sharing with another person His great work in your own life. Testimonies bring God's truth to life. It is one thing to hear a sermon on God’s grace; but it is a blessing to hear a brother or sister speak personally of his or her experience of God’s goodness. Testimonies invigorate and excite us as we are reminded that God is alive and at work in our midst. When we share our testimony, it encourages others to believe in God and also receive His promises, just like we have. If you need courage or boldness to share what God has done in your life, you can ask God for it. Don't be ashamed to share your story - you never know what others are going through. Your story may encourage them and give them hope. Sharing what God has done in our personal lives is the best way for us to remember all of the great things God has done for us. A reminder of God's goodness may be all it takes to bring joy back into your life. Maybe thinking on the things that God has done for you in the past will give you hope for all of the mighty things God wants to do in your future.

Focus Scriptures:
Mark 5:19
Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

Psalm 119:46
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

Psalm 96:3
Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

Revelation 12:11
They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony; for they did not love their lives but laid them down for him.

Joy in Action Today:
Grab a piece of paper and write your story. Where were you born? What are your best childhood memories? What do you love most about your life right now?

Friday, July 11, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Sing and Dance for Joy

“Music is the voice of the soul.”
― Unknown

Sing and dance for joy.

Did you know that you were created by God to praise and worship Him? To sing and dance naturally puts us in a better mood- we were just created that way, and there is nothing wrong with it. Singing songs of praise and worship has such a unique way of bringing your heart, soul, mind, and strength together to focus entirely and completely on God. In an age of distraction – singing grabs the attention of all our senses and focuses them back on God. If you are at work, play your music softly at you desk. When you are in the car, blast your music and sing loudly as you cruise down the highway. When you are at home, put in your headphones, while you sit in your favorite chair. Put on some praise music and dance in your living room before the Lord. David was a man after God's own heart because he often danced before the Lord with all of his heart. We are exhorted to praise the Lord with our whole being. Dancing and singing is a great way to do this. Sometimes the right song is exactly what you need to take you mind off of everything else and get focused on God. When you take you mind off of your problems, and onto God, you will begin to experience true joy. Often times, we think only of singing when we’re happy and times are good, but singing can also bring strength in hard times. While in prison, Paul and Silas sang praises to God while the other prisoners listened (Acts 16:25). Singing gives birth to joy, and joy gives birth to singing. If you are struggling for joy – SING! If you are joyful – SING! In God’s perfect design He has made joy and singing go together for His people.

Focus Scriptures:
Jeremiah 31:13
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 59:16
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.

Joy in Action Today:
Pull out all of your favorite praise and worship song and have them readily available with you throughout the day. Whenever you get a chance, listen and sing along to a few songs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Rely on Him

“Faith don't come in a bushel basket, missy. It comes one step at a time. 
Decide to trust Him for one little thing today, and before you know it, you 
finnd out He's so trustworthy you'll be putting your whole life in His hands.” 
― Lynn Austin

Rely on Him.
Anytime we demonstrate faith, we’re relying on something. When you sit in a chair, you’re relying on the chair’s manufacturer to produce something that will hold you up. When you’re on the freeway, you’re relying on every other driver around you. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death”. That's the problem with relying on yourself. We’re often wrong. Human intuition is not reliable. In fact, it’s just good enough to make us think we’re right – even when we’re not. When you rely on your own strength, your results will only be as good as what you can do. When you rely on God, your results are blessed. Your possibilities become limitless because you are relying on His strength. God is reliable. He knows what you need, and He wants to meet those needs. You may say to God, “I have never seen you provide for me.” Well God says to you, “You have never trusted Me to!” Unfortunately, we think we know better than God. We think we have a better plan. We want to use our logic and get to the answer in a way that makes us look good – and doesn't require risk. But God wants us to grow, and become better, so he takes us a different way. Many times in Scripture, God asks us to do what doesn't make sense to our logic. The Bible never says "figure it out," instead it says "trust God" over and over again. "Because we trust Him, we obey what He says – even if it doesn't make sense to us. Trust God for joy in your life and rely on Him to give it to you. 

Focus Scriptures:
Romans 8:28 
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 41:13
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you."

Proverbs 3:6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Psalm 37:23-24
 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, For the Lord holds them by the hand.

Joy in Action Today:
Start by trusting God with the little things in your life. Pick one thing you will trust God for today. Pray and ask God to help you to trust Him. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Laugh and Have Fun

“We didn't realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” 
 ― Anonymous

Laugh and have fun.

When was the last time you had a really good laugh? The absence of laughter is a very serious thing because laughter is God's idea, his special gift to us. In light of the sin, pain and chaos of this world, it's one of the secret weapons we have to keep our joy. A lot of people imagine God like a grumpy old grandpa who wants nothing more than for us to sit silent and still, minding our own business and keeping our hands to ourselves - and that is far from the truth! There is a great misconception that Christians don't have any fun. Many non-believers think that Christians need to feel guilty if they are having fun, and that God's rules are designed to make our lives miserable. However, the Bible tells us that God meant for Christians to have fun in a number of ways. Being a believer means great celebration and joy, both in our lives here on Earth and after. David danced. The Jews celebrated upon their exodus from Egypt. God meant for believers to celebrate and have fun because celebrations lift the spirit. He wants us to have fun so we can see the beauty and true meaning in this beautiful life He gave to us. While God intended us to enjoy life, satan still is looking to destroy us in any way he can. It is important to use wisdom, even when choosing leisure and entertainment. There are some activities that may seem fun, but can have long term consequences. If the "fun" activity involves sin, then it isn't something that God would want us to do. Sin does not need to be a part of an activity to make it fun! God loves us and He doesn't want you to make a fool of yourself or do something you may regret later. "Having fun" does not bring long term happiness, but it does need to be a part of life, ad God knows that so He commands celebration, singing and dancing. He wants us to enjoy our lives her on earth with full joy.

Focus Scriptures:
1 Timothy 6:17
 Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.

Deuteronomy 16:15
For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be

Proverbs 15:13 
 "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." 

Joy in Action Today:
Plan a "Fun Day"! Grab your closest friends or your favorite family members and dedicate a day to fun and laughter. The only rule is to have fun!
Examples: Pack a picnic and go to the park for outside fun and games. Grab some board games and
have a game board tournament. Go grocery shopping and come home to cook dinner together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

31 Days of Joy: Be a Blessing to Others

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” 
― Anonymous

Be a blessing to others.

Blessing others is more than just saying, "God bless you." Being a blessing to others goes beyond what we say and think; it's what we do that has the power to be a blessing to others as well. God promises that if we will concentrate on blessing others, he’ll take care of our needs. There’s almost nothing that God won’t do for the person who really wants to help other people. In fact, God guarantees this blessing. Because God has promised to bless us abundantly, we should be willing to give cheerfully to others. Blessings are not always
tangible things, but so much more. God does not just want to bless your life; He wants to use your life in a great way to change the lives of others. Here’s how it works. You start blessing others with what you have and God will give you more. You don’t say, “When I get to a certain level. . . When I achieve a certain thing… When I get more time… When this happens in my life. . . then I will start sharing.” No! You start sharing what you’ve got and God will give you more. If all you have is a kind word to say, say it. If all you have is a hug to give, give it. If someone asks for $5 to buy a sandwich, treat them out to lunch. A small gesture could change someone's entire day. Be the instrument that God uses to help someone else. When God blesses you, your life will become living proof of how good God really is. When people see you, they will see Jesus Christ in you - and the greatest blessing you can give to someone is an introduction to Jesus. 

Focus Scriptures:
Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Genesis 12:2
I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing to others.

Acts 20:35
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Joy in Action Today: 
Pray and ask God to open your eyes to those around you who may need help. Take the first opportunity you get to be a blessing to someone who really needs it. 

31 Days of Joy: Forgive Often

“When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor
 out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that 
the real prisoner was yourself."” 
― Lewis B. Smedes

Forgive often.

We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us. Forgiveness is a choice, and is not always easy for us. It's not a one-time choice and then we no longer have to deal with it. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart. The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from Scripture, if we don't forgive, neither will we be forgiven. We also forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered. The best reason to forgive is out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we forgive, we discover the command is in place for our own good, and we are the one who ultimately receive the reward of our forgiveness—freedom.

Focus Scriptures:
Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive
as the Lord forgave you.

Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Luke 6:3-7
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Mark 11:25
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in
heaven may forgive you your sins.

Joy in Action Today:
 Prayer is the best ways to break down the walls of unforgiveness in the heart. Talk to God
about what has happened and ask Him to heal your heart. Pray for the strength to forgive.