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4 Jan - Joy - The Serious Business of Heaven

One of the things I love about my husband is his sense of fun, and last night he was in fine form, causing us all to be laughing at his antics.

Philip has been known to do a strange high kicking dance down the supermarket aisles with the trolley, do strange accents on the phone, crack terrible Dad jokes and laugh at something he finds funny until he rolls on the floor with tears pouring down his face.

He has an innate ability to bounce back from knockbacks and disappointments while always coming out smiling. He says we can all get too serious and that God is far more fun than we give Him credit for.

In the Bible, joy is referred to many times. The religious leaders criticised Jesus for being a drunkard and a glutton for the time he spent celebrating with others. He was neither, but the religious people of the day didn't like how much fun and joy surrounded Jesus or how popular he was.

"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Matthew 11:29)

Remember that joy sometimes comes from big things and a small gesture like a kind word or a helping hand. Other times we need to do something that makes us know we are alive and that our heart is beating instead of just going through the "hum drum" of everyday life.

Joy is powerful, and counsellors advise that one of the steps to help alleviate the symptoms of depression is to ensure people do something every day that they enjoy – just because!

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

God made us wired for joy and gave each of us an immense capacity for love and joyfulness.

He is a happy God who overflows our "cup" if we allow Him to. Often what steals our light-heartedness and sense of fun and joy is that we are trying to live independent from God and do things in our strength and wisdom. We allow the world, and its cares and concerns to crowd out the promises of God, believing the negative voices instead of what God says.

Even when challenging times of loss and heartache may occur, God promises He will be there for us and pour His strength, joy, and peace beyond human understanding into our lives.

"The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Today, don't take the gift that is God's joy for granted. In both the great moments of our lives and the really difficult ones, joy has a vital role. It adds to every good moment and helps us through the toughest times.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

"Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared…Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

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