Daily Devotions

Don't Let the Negative Win!

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“For Gordie, joy is found on a slide, sporting a turkey hat!"

 

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Far too often we Christians live our faith as if we should be martyring ourselves daily. God wants us to enjoy the world God made and find joy in the life God has given us. Why would anyone want to be a Christian, when we look like our lives are horrible? If our theology is such that we are somehow called to live a joyless life, then we need to re-evaluate our beliefs. If it isn’t our belief system that is creating the suffering, then we need to re-evaluate the life we are leading.

Thomas Oppong, in his article “If You’re Not Enjoying life, You’re Doing It Wrong,” confirms, “Enjoying life starts with shifting our mindset, seeing things in a new way, because our brains are wired to heavily focus on the negative. According to research, our brains have a negative-bias.” Our faith is the key that unlocks the joy that frees the brain from its natural proclivity for the negative. Even when suffering occurs, faith allows us to rise above the momentary affliction and find joy that comes with an eternal outlook.

Oppong continues, “The true nature of life is constant movement and constant evolution. Stay in control of the change, otherwise, life will become less and less comfortable.” In a life of constant change, which can zap our joy, the constant of faith in God’s love provides the foundation that remains our constant in life. Oppong reminds us of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” As a person of faith, joy is found in experiencing all of life, including the bad, the ugly, and painful, as well as the fun, passionate, and joyous. Even the bad and the painful are blessings, because they remind us of our need for God, and can be faced with a joy within.

Today, think about the negativity you bring to your day. Is negativity a bad habit you’ve nurtured? Sometimes the best way to evaluate your own actions, is to watch the actions of others. Watch the negative actions of those around you. Do you see yourself in any of the negative person’s actions? Go back to God in prayer and ask for God to bring joy into your life. Then, work hard listening to your inner voice. Invite the Holy Spirit to break the natural inclination for the negative. God can do all things, which includes bringing joy into your life!

Get Your Hopes Up

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

The phrase, “don’t get your hopes up,” is sad and debilitating. While life is challenging and things do not always work out the way we hope, God makes all things work for good. We are called to get our hopes up, over and over again. We are called to crash, get back up, and hope again, because God is making all things work for good. Never stop getting your hopes up.

Shaunta Grimes, in her article, “Go Ahead and Get Your Hopes Up,” challenges us when she says, “Getting your hopes up is deeply satisfying. It feels good. It’s fun.” While it may not always work out, hope is infectious and the more you practice hope, the more blessings enter your life. Grimes continues, “You have to risk before you can succeed. It’s pretty rare for life to just plop something amazing into your lap when you weren’t even hoping for it, especially if your focus is on making sure you’re not disappointed.” God doesn’t ordinarily just drop blessings in our lap. God expects us to get off our couch and step into a life of hope.

Today, pray for God to renew the hope in your life. There is no room for cynicism in the kingdom of God. I know your heart has been broken, your dreams dashed, your goals subverted, but God says, “hope anyway!” Don’t count the number of disappointments, but celebrate the hopes fulfilled. Every fulfilled hope is greater than fifty disappointments. In an imperfect world, disappointments are a normal part of life. Now, hopes fulfilled are a sign that God is still at work in this world and in your life. 

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