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fruit of the spirit

Joy Part 3: Today, Choose Joy

“…Choose today whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)

It seems our choices have multiplied in recent years.

We used to have one kind of coffee. No latte, frappucino, or cappuccino,—just plain old coffee. And when I was growing up, we had four television channels. Now we have hundreds of networks and tons of ways to stream TV and movies.

So many choices. So many decisions.

Experts estimate the average adult American makes around 35,000 conscious choices every day. Most of them are insignificant, like choosing which shoes to wear. Some of them are momentous and change the course of our lives.

Choosing joy is one of those life-changing choices.

Let’s take a trip back to ancient Israel. Elderly Joshua wanted to address his people one more time. He called them to gather together in Shechem. (The whole story is in Joshua, chapter 24.)

Shechem isn’t just some random place Joshua chose out of a hat. It had significance to the Israelites. Shechem was the site of the first promised-land covenant between God and Abraham. Abraham, obeying God, had left his home, and headed for Canaan. When he reached Shechem, just inside the border of the promised land, Abraham stopped and set up camp.

While in Shechem, God appeared and told Abraham, “I will give this land to your descendants…” (Genesis 12:7). Abraham built an altar to commemorate God’s promise.

Fast forward now to Joshua. He calls the Israelites to gather at Shechem, the place of promise. He wanted the people to choose to serve Jehovah God and turn away from the counterfeit gods of the surrounding nations. What would they choose?

The place of promise was also a place of decision. Joshua asked the people to choose: Jehovah God or a counterfeit?

Just like the Israelites, we’re in a place of promise and a place of decision. God has promised us joy, but we have a decision to make. We can choose fear, anger, jealousy, or other emotions instead of joy. We can choose to try and muster joy with our own strength, through our own willpower. But the so-called joy we manufacture on our own is counterfeit. It won’t spend like the real thing.

Or we can wisely choose the joy of the Lord.

Each morning when we get up, we can choose joy. We can pray each day for a fresh supply of the joy of the Lord. Remember, our words have power, so consider actually saying out loud every day, “Today, with God’s help, I choose joy.”

Kay Warren said, “Joy is… the determined choice to praise God in all things.” God gives us a choice. He offers us his joy, but it’s still our decision whether or not to accept it. Choose wisely. Choose to embrace the joy of the Lord.

Heavenly Father, I know my decisions have consequences. Today, I choose joy. I choose to believe you are involved in the details of my life. I choose to have confidence that, through you, everything is going to be OK. I ask you to fill my life with fresh joy each day. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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