Ready to find more joy as we start a brand new year? I love fresh starts, but making change in our lives is not what is going to bring us joy. Biblical joy starts with a mindset switch.
As Christians, we often wonder what godly joy looks like. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t predict what is going to happen and we can’t derive all of our joy from what is going on around us.
In today’s episode let’s talk about how to find joy from a biblical perspective so that we can cultivate the mindset of godly joy in every season.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- 3:03] What is biblical joy?
- [5:07] Bible verses on joy that stem from a deep connection with God
- [8:05] Want to find more joy? Here’s your number one mindset switch
- [11:36] Tapping into biblical joy is like learning to hear music
- [15:10] Practical ways to discover godly joy
- [24:43] Taking action to cultivate joy in God
- [28:28] What keeps us from cultivating godly joy
- [41:54] Praying for God to show us how to find more joy this year
[3:03] What is biblical joy?
Joy is not an emotion. I like to think of joy as our daily bread, in that joy is a security, a contentment, and a foundation for which all other things flow.
Joy is a surrendered stillness to the One who holds all things together. Happiness is a feeling that can wax and wane based on physical moods, emotions, or circumstances – but nothing can steal joy. Joy is that anchor in the storm. Joy is optimism about the future. It’s this confident trust in the One who guides our future.
We read in Galatians 5:22 that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is something that is not produced on our own. It is something we tap into.
Joy is the ultimate example of a relationship with God versus religion. Religion says, “Do this to be happy. Follow these rules. Make sure you’re always looking a certain way. Make sure you’re always doing the right thing.” A relationship with God says, “You will find joy when you know Me and you let My daily connection remake you to who you are fully meant to be.”
If we want to experience biblical joy we have to get the religion versus relationship part figured out. Joy is the fruit of allowing the light of God to illuminate every part of us: our soul, our mind, our heart, our body. That comes not from following rules, but from being in connection with Christ in this very living, tangible way.
We know that God can create these brand new parts of ourselves – the soul, the mind, the heart, and the body – in all circumstances.
[5:07] Bible verses on joy that stem from a deep connection with God
Here are a few bible verses on joy about the power of what God can do when we enter into a close relationship with Him and allow Him to cultivate a new perspective on finding joy.
Isaiah 43:19-20, For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert.Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
When I first discovered these verses, they really exemplified how I felt when Christ renewed my soul and I found salvation. These were the verses that we used on our program in our wedding. The idea of God doing this brand new thing, taking us both as people who had been restored by Him and now beginning this new life together, is really what joy is. Joy is just continually seeking God and letting him show us the mysteries and the beauties of life.
Psalm 56:13, For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.
We’re going to talk in a minute about how practicing joy reminds us of where God has brought us and reminds us that we were dead and walking around with an inability to fix the problems that were in front of us. Jesus literally rescued us from eternal death, and He has also rescued us from death in this life. He gives us purpose and meaning, and as this verse says, we can walk in His presence giving light because of what He has done.
Zephaniah 3:17, For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
I love this vision of God at our side, being a presence that makes us new every day. That is a God who is interested in His people, not a God who has a list of rules for us to follow. He is having a loving, intimate conversation with us, and He is a guiding, comforting, caring God. He is not a removed, angry God who is quick to offer a vengeance. The God who offers us joy is a God who shows us how to discover that joy through relationship with Him every day.
[8:05] Want to find more joy? Here’s your number one mindset switch
With all of that in mind, let’s talk about this number one mindset switch we can cultivate in order to find more joy: Since godly joy is a constant flow, we are responsible for monitoring our mindset so we can choose to tap into godly joy.
Godly joy is like a constant rhythmic flow, like a river that is continually rushing along its banks. We are the ones either moving closer to it or away from it. Godly joy is not affected by us or by our circumstances because it is from God. Because godly joy is consistent and constant, we can tap into it.
Like we read in Psalm 1, we are responsible for positioning ourselves close to the source of joy, surrounding our lives with it, plugging into it, and choosing to focus on the things that are full of joy.
Psalm 1:1-3, Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
According to this verse, finding joy starts with not following the advice of the wicked, standing around with sinners, or joining in with mockers. It’s about choosing to find our source of joy from God Himself, and not engaging in those things that are not of God. Instead, we delight in obeying God’s word and meditating on it day and night. We let His word be the thing that brings us joy.
Thinking about God’s word can bring us joy, and this verse describes it as if we are these trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season. Trees are close to the river because the river is always able to provide them with the sustenance that they need. As long as that river is flowing, they can always tap into it and receive the water they need in order to grow. The roots go down deep to gain the access they need.
How much more joy would you be able to find and enjoy if you were able to remain close to God? Friend, instead of chasing joy, let us learn how to position ourselves close to the stream of all joy. Let us choose obedience and closeness with God, and when we do, biblical joy will naturally follow.
Jesus talks about remaining on the vine and being a part of the vine rather than separating ourselves apart from Him. We have to stay close to Him. We have to be in the stream of living water versus sitting on the outside and hoping to catch joy. Joy is from God, and if we want to experience joy then we have to be close to God. God provides the joy, but we have to discover how to tap into it.
[11:36] Tapping into biblical joy is like learning to hear music
If we think about the example of music, godly joy is all the elements of music itself: music theory, sound reverberations, melody, tone, and rhythm. It is our job to listen to how God wants to help us learn and to sing our own joy melody using these very real, concrete ways of existing that He has set up for us: the ways of following Him, the ways of spending time in His word, the ways of praying, receiving His wisdom, and receiving His rejuvenation. We take all of those things and translate that into our lives.
God’s word is the source of truth, and the best way to tap into that truth is to read it and let it become a part of who we are. There is no substitute for this. As we may spend time in nature or spend time alone to work on a creative project we may find joy and replenishment welling up in our hearts too. We need to understand and discover all the ways we can tap into godly joy. But it starts first with spending time in His word and His presence.
Thinking of joy as music, we also can use these low notes–times of refinement and of suffering–and combine them with high notes–thrilling, exciting, fun, and pleasurable times–to create a beautiful “melody” that allows us to tap into joy. We can combine them with an underlying rhythm of trusting God in order to make this beautiful music.
I really believe that God wants us to use all of those elements to sing these songs of joy: songs of what He has brought us through and of the greatness we are experiencing now, as well as songs of what is to come. All of it comes together and is held together by the steady rhythm of His presence; the steady rhythm of His truth.
It is easy for us to stay stuck on these hard moments–the low, melancholy tones. Or maybe we ignore the low notes of conviction and drown them out by trying to only listen for the high notes of pleasure, believing that joy is solely found in pleasure. Yet we know that good music is formed from the high notes and the low notes, and it is held together by a constant rhythm. We are not meant to be all pleasure or all sorrow, and joy is the mingling of these notes together. The longer we know Christ, the easier it is to see the harmony in these high and low notes and to sing them without ignoring any of them.
Joy is not just found in ecstasy, happiness, or what makes us feel good. Joy comes from awareness of the highs and the lows, acknowledging them all, and surrendering all of it to God’s rhythm.
I know this is kind of a theoretical explanation of tapping into joy, and maybe it seems a little out there. I really feel, however, that joy and music are connected in that there is not one single thing that makes up either one. Joy is not just finding the good things in life, and I feel like sometimes we get trapped in looking for the good or trying to be grateful. That is one note to sing, but we can have great joy as we experience the way God sustains us through hard times. There are so many great ways that joy comes together, and our songs of joy will be different for each of us because we all have different experiences. Yet, we all serve the same God with the same rhythm. It is so awesome.
[15:10] Practical ways to discover godly joy
So the question then becomes, if we are responsible for tapping into God’s source of joy, how do we do it?
The answer is not to make everything perfect in our lives, although our natural human response is to try to fix everything in order to have joy. Joy is found in God, and if God is the source of all joy then there are some specific things we can do to get that joy. We can tap into joy through our thoughts and our mindset, and then we can use that to drive the actions that we need to take to move closer to joy. Just like in Psalm 1, we need to plant ourselves by God, the river of joy.
Brain science and scripture both demonstrate that our thoughts are what create our actions. A thought that is repeated, combined with an emotion, creates a belief. That belief creates a decision, that decision creates an action, and that action creates a result. Therefore in order to cultivate joy we have to create thoughts and mindsets that will allow us to take steps to move closer to God.
John 10:10: The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
This is one of my favorite verses, and it is the verse I use as the foundation for all the work that I do as a Christian mindset coach. Jesus says that He has come so that we can have abundant life.
First and foremost, we are not just saved to have eternal life. Salvation, of course, an incredible gift and it is part of our inheritance as children of God. However, we learn in John 10:10 that we are also given the ability to have new life from God that starts today. Victory today spills over into joy, and so cultivating joy is about two things from a mindset perspective: We must recognize the character of God and the light of who He is as well as who we are.
One of the studies we do in the Connected Bible Community is called “I Am His Daughter,” and there are 30 different “I am” statements that we use to talk about who God is and how His character shapes our identity.
One of them is 1 Chronicles 16:27: Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling.
This verse says that joy is continually in the presence of God and that He fills His dwelling with it. Our God is a God full of joy. He is not a God who is angry, sad, mad, vengeful, or hateful. When we look around in nature, we can see what He has created. We can see that He has created amazing, magnificent things that we connect with: beautiful sunsets, amazing mountains, wonderful oceans, changing seasons, and incredible creatures who can love and support. So many things show us that our God is a loving, joy-filled creature.
Psalm 43:4, There I will go to the altar of God, to God – the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
God is the beginning and the end of all joy. Recognizing who He is is part of the mindset shift, and the second part is recognizing who we are in the light of Christ. Let’s talk about a few verses here.
Ephesians 1:3-8, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
Talk about a rich set of five verses. We could spend thirty days talking about all of the different parts of this verse and all the gifts He has given us! I’m going to highlight a couple aspects of the verses here because they are so incredible:
He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing;
He loved us, He chose us in Christ, and we are without fault in His eyes;
He adopted us into His own family. He wanted to do this, and this was His choice;
It gives him great happiness to have us as adopted daughters or sons;
He has poured out His glorious grace on us;
He is rich in kindness;
He has purchased our freedom;
He has forgiven our sins;
He has given us all the wisdom and understanding that we need to be truly fulfilled and happy.
All of these are so powerful, and that is who we are in the light of Christ. By understanding all that we’ve been given in Christ we can tap into that foundation of biblical joy.
Isaiah 61:10, 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 dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.
This is such a beautiful picture of God dressing us with the clothing of salvation, draping us in a robe of righteousness. That feeling of a beautiful bride, ready to be united in this new life with her husband – this is who we are in the light of Christ.
Psalm 16:8-11, I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Powerful stuff. We get to know that He is going to show us the way of life. We have the pleasure of living with Him forever and the gift of the joy of His presence right now. We know that He is always with us. This is who we are in Christ, and we talked about His character. These two things are the mindsets or the thoughts that will drive the specific actions we can take to find more joy.
[24:43] Taking action to cultivate joy in God
I want to share some practical actions we can take to find more joy. First, we need to intentionally align our minds and our schedules with God’s literal presence. We cannot be in that river of joy without connecting with the Lord through prayer, Bible reading, conversation with Him throughout the day, being in fellowship with other believers, and serving in this world while letting His light pour through. These are all ways to align our minds, schedules, and bodies with His presence. These are the ways He has given us to be filled up, and this is how we can cultivate joy.
We can also notice how He is alive and present in this world, and then we can respond and take practical action. Like it says in Isaiah 58:9-10: Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
If we want to find joy we can literally ask God what He is doing and how He is at work in the world, and then line ourselves up with that. That is where we will see and discover His presence, and in turn, His joy.
We can also enjoy what He has done, and what He has created. Job 33:28-30 talks about enjoying the light of life. This beautiful section of scripture tells about all the things that God has done. It says, God rescued me from the grave and now my life is filled with light. There is so much that God has done, so we can take practical action to get involved and also acknowledge and enjoy what he has done. There are so many songs that talk about the majesty of the world and how this is a reflection of the majesty of God. I think looking at creation, pondering how incredible He is, is another way to tap into this reality on the joy of living.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from the movie, The Color Purple. A rough paraphrase from one of the characters is that she thinks it makes God really mad when we walk by a whole field of purple flowers and we don’t notice them. It’s like everything is trying to get us to notice the beauty that’s inside, that’s been created by God. I think God invites us into His presence and into joy every day. We need to see the gifts and the beauty, and we need to slow down enough to discover what is going on around us.
We can take practical action to feed the hungry, help those in trouble, and get involved with what God is doing and what He has already done in this life.
[28:28] What keeps us from cultivating godly joy
There are four specific things I want us to focus on here. First, it keeps us from cultivating godly joy when we live our lives without rest.
Next week’s episode is with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest. She talks about seven types of rest: physical rest, mental rest, sensory rest, creative rest, emotional rest, social rest, and spiritual rest. It’s so important for us to remember that, if we want to have joy, we have to take care of ourselves in order to experience it. We have to learn how to cultivate each of these different aspects of rest.
Another way we are stopped from cultivating godly joy and enjoying that light of life is when we serve with the wrong motives or intentions. This was a really powerful concept that was driven home to me this weekend by our pastor. He was talking about how there are so many examples in our churches of us highlighting people who serve as these ideal Christians. I am not saying we shouldn’t be serving or that we shouldn’t be doing what God calls us to do, but that is the kicker: Are we serving because God calls us to serve, or are we serving because we think we need to? Are we trying to look good in front of others, or to please God and do the right thing? It is so easy to serve from the wrong motives. So many of us are serving from this perspective, and we’re exhausted. He gave the examples of Mary and Martha, which is a very familiar story to all of us as women. And even when the prodigal son came home, there was that older brother who didn’t want to celebrate because he had been doing all of the right things without celebration. We have to serve from the right intentions.
Another huge issue is when we don’t obey God. We know this to be true in so many examples, but I am going to share two scriptures here.
Psalm 119:2, Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
We find joy when we tap into following God and doing what He has asked us to do.
Proverbs 16:20, Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.
We have to go before the Lord, prayerfully, and ask Him to search our heart. We have to ask Him if there are areas where we are not obeying Him. That may be why it is hard for us to find joy right now. Maybe we are ignoring something.
That was my issue, and a lot of you know my story. Four years ago, in 2017, I got really sick and almost lost my life because I did not take care of myself and I wasn’t resting. God was speaking to me about all of that for years through different situations, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t understand what I was doing was wrong. I didn’t understand how critical it was, and I had a lot of false mindsets driving it. There were a lot of reasons why I was living in a perpetual state of “go, go, go”. I defined my identity by hustling and achieving. Even though I said I was a believer, I had these subconscious messages driving the show and saying that in order to feel good about myself or to be a good Christian, I had to do certain things.
All of that to say, obeying God is huge. A lot of us have some things in our hearts that we may have to address. Joy is a byproduct of obedience.
Another huge reason, which kind of piggybacks on what we talked about before related to mindset, is we may have a static relationship with God. We might have issues with trusting God, or unresolved spiritual questions.
Romans 15:13, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we trust in God, we will be filled with joy and peace. The relationship goes back and forth. If we have things keeping us from releasing some issues to God, then it makes sense that there will not be joy because the flow is interrupted.
The next thing that can hinder us from cultivating godly joy is that we let worry steal the joy of today. I’m not here to condemn anyone. Worry is a huge issue for us as women and I really believe that we have been tasked to get a hold of anxiety and worry and not let it be the dominant force in our lives – especially if we want to live these lives to the fullest with joy. Worry can hinder us from cultivating godly joy.
Lastly, the biggest thing that can hinder us from cultivating godly joy is how we have addressed pain in our lives – past or current pain. There is a whole group of stuff I’ve been working on behind the scenes on this topic of how we handle pain and how it manifests in our lives. Sometimes we don’t address our pain, we pretend it’s not there, we numb our pain by running from it, we attempt to placate our pain with false pleasure, or we try to control the results of the pain so we aren’t hurt again. We can question God about why something painful is happening, or we can attempt to prove our worth by paying penance for pain. There are so many things that we do with pain that can keep us stuck and unable to connect with God in the way we need in order to cultivate godly joy.
So many of these things that keep us from godly joy are driven by these subconscious questions that keep us stuck in negative thought processes, responding to pain and self-sabotage in dysfunctional ways that were made by our brains as a way to cope with pain. We have to address these things in order to cultivate joy. We have to look at them from a different perspective rather than keeping the cycle going and continuing the same behaviors. We can’t just try to cover up pain by seeking joy, but rather we have to get to the root of the pain itself. There are basic subconscious needs that aren’t being met.
If you are relating to anything we have talked about here in terms of what hinders us from cultivating godly joy, I highly recommend that you check out the Christian Mindset Makeover™ .
This is a nine-week course that has been created as a response to the coaching that I’ve done one-on-one and in groups. It is all based on brain science and on scripture itself to help us understand why we have these negative thought patterns, what the subconscious needs are that we have to meet, and how we can rewire everything on a subconscious level. The course leads you through a practical, nine-step process and guides you through how to protect your thoughts, build boundaries, and cultivate other ways to strengthen your mind.
It is life-changing. I can tell you testimony after testimony of women who have been dramatically impacted by this course. So, I mention it here because if we want to get to joy then we have to start with mindset. The purpose of the Christian Mindset Makeover™ is to help us address those core mindsets that keep us from where we want to be.
I have a free workshop where you can check out more information about the Christian Mindset Makeover™ while also learning some practical tips to transform your life by transforming your thoughts. You will walk away with one very practical strategy. Definitely check that out, because there is a special discount for the Christian Mindset Makeover™ offered through the free workshop.
[41:54] Praying for God to show us how to find more joy this year
This episode focused on helping you find more joy in your life, and so I want to end our time together by praying for you.
I pray the God of joy will show you what you need to do in this next year to be able to take responsibility for joy in your life. You may need to take active steps in these different mindsets, or you may need to learn how to remove some things that are keeping you from joy. I pray for God to show you right now what that could be.
Heavenly father, you're such a good God. I thank you, first of all, that You give us the ability to experience Your presence and Your joy right now, that joy isn’t just something that we get to have in heaven. It's right now, it's right here. And we can experience and be this light that is filled up with joy and hope that extends to this dark world who so needs to hear Your light and Your message.
Father, will You please reveal to my friends here, what is in the way of their hearts, of the thoughts that they're having, of the actions they're taking in order to get closer to the joy that You have for them? Show them how to step closer and to move closer to that stream, to plant themselves by that stream. Show them what needs to happen and give them direction, examine their hearts.
Give them Your comfort, Lord, as they step into this, and Your assurance that You provide as we work through this. And just thank You again, that this journey toward joy is not a nirvana experience with You, God. It's something that we get to rediscover every day, that everyday joy looks a little different and it's because Your world is always changing and being filled with Your light in a new way.
So thank You, Lord. We love You so much. And we lift this time and this prayer up to You in Your name.
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