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I just finished the year-long Bible reading plan with daily psalm. Well, I didn’t *just* finish it.  I ended on Christmas Day. Without warning, poof! All done. I read it on my iPad. Suddenly, the screen said, Good job! A picture of a full cup of coffee next to an open book popped up. What?! Nooo! I still have another full week left in 2015! What now?

I know. First world Christian problems. I took a day to think about it. Then, I found a short plan lasting only 3 days. It contains random scriptures about joy. Three the first day, four the second day. I’m supposed to memorize them.

Like this one…

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

That’s a good one, actually. But this one…

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

Eh. Okay.

Nothing wrong with these scriptures. Joy is an important component of the Christian life. It helps you stay afloat when all around you is sinking. However, what I’ve learned about joy came into play today, the last day of the mini-study:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yes! Joy and thankfulness come as a package deal. Also this:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4

Joy has a purpose and a focus. We fix our eyes on what is good, noble, true, right, etc. (Philippians 4). Through turning to Jesus, we can keep gazing at those things and not the overwhelming circumstances. The great engine of the faith, endurance, is fueled by joy. Like the old story of the boy, cheerfully mucking out a stable full of poo. “There’s a pony in here somewhere!” he pants, all smiles.

And so there is, if we keep on. We don’t have to settle for short-term joy. We can have a lifetime supply.

 

 

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