Summary: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Today's scripture verse encourages us to be joyful always, pray all the time and give thanks no matter the circumstances; good or "not so good" as I always say. But is it possible to do all the above when you are facing challenges and struggles in your life? Well, beloved, I will tell you that without a shadow of a doubt, it is not humanly possible. The only way we can be joyful and thankful when facing the storms of life is when we possess God's strength and power in us through His Holy Spirit. That is why Nehemiah 8:10b states " for the joy of the Lord is your strength." God in His infinite mercy knows that without His divine strength, we can not experience joy, not to talk of staying joyful at all times.

Did you know that the word "joy" appears over 65 times in the Bible, and in the book of Psalms alone, 19 times? This tells us how vital "joy" is to the life of a Christian. The key to the joy of a Christian is the Lord Jesus. Our joy can only be found in Him and not in man as with happiness. Before I talk about how to stay joyful always as a Christian living in the world today, let us go ahead and define what joy is. Many times joy has been used interchangeably with happiness, but even though they are both beautiful experiences to have, they are two different feelings.

What is Joy?

Now in scripture, joy is sometimes referred to as "rejoice" The word rejoice in the dictionary means a feeling or show of great joy or delight. And so "Joy" according to Merriam Webster's dictionary is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. Happiness is defined as "a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience. " So you see how similar these definitions according to the world's interpretation. However, the type of joy we are referring to as believers is "God's kind of joy" or we might also call it "Biblical joy." This kind of joy, just like peace, the world does not know and understand. Our joy comes from the Lord God, and it is from within, more consistent and like peace, it is a characteristic of God's love from His Holy Spirit. Scripture states "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,]gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23".

Happiness, as mentioned earlier, is a wonderful experience that every human being on earth will encounter in their life's journey. However, it is not the same thing as joy. It is external and inconsistent. Happiness comes and goes with time because it is triggered by the events that occur in our lives, by people we relate with, and from thoughts and emotions.

Beloved, joy is a Christian virtue that every believer must strive to possess and experience on a daily basis. The benefit of having joy in your heart is that no matter the circumstances you face in life, it will not affect your joy as long as you understand where it comes from. From God and not man! Emotions affect your happiness, but not your joy. You may have lost the job you loved, you may not know how you will pay next month's rent, or you might be experiencing marital problems etc., but you still have joy.

The joy shows on your face wherever you go, and people around you wonder how you can be having all these problems and always smiling. You can then say, "its the joy of the Lord, it's not me"; He is my strength." You should not let anything or anyone rob you of your joy. John 16:22. It is too precious to the Lord, and so should be guarded carefully and jealously

Apostle Paul knows first hand what it means to stay joyful always in all circumstances. In times of despair and persecution, he strived to remain joyful, praying continually and giving thanks while imprisoned for Christ's sake. And so in his epistle from prison, he encourages all believers in Philippians 4:4a to rejoice in the Lord always.

Ways to Stay Joyful Always in the Lord

1. Be intentional in showing gratitude- I Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes us to give thanks in all circumstances. Develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving, always showing appreciation in all things.

2. Spend time in prayer and meditation - Praying, reading and meditating on the word of God daily is an act of worship unto the Lord and nourishment for your soul. Strive to spend quality time in God's presence.

3. Spend time reflecting on the goodness of God - When you remember all the prayers answered, all the troubles he delivered you from and the many blessings, it will cause you to rejoice. It puts a smile on your face and reminds you of his constant presence in your life.

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