God’s will for us is joy. But the majority of the world seems hopeless and depressed. I see few Christians that are consistently joyful. But God has revealed to us just what it takes for us to be joyful. It involves a way of thinking, an attitude about everything – a turning of the mind. So why don’t we have that peace and joy? Here are a few of the things that I have discovered block the peace and joy that we all should be experiencing.
1. Lack of Faith – We need to make up our minds once and for all – do we believe the promises in the bible or not? If we really believe, then it should be the foundation of our life. It should be our very basis for living every day – not just when we come to church. We have to choose – are we going to live for the things of this world? Or are we going to live for God. We can’t serve two masters. Are we followers of Christ or not? It’s all or nothing..
2. Fear – This world is full of fear - Fear of physical harm; fear of being rejected, fear of people thinking we are weak, fear of losing something, fear of being wrong, etc. etc. etc. God knows what fear does to us – how it binds us and paralyzes us - so the most frequent command in the bible? Fear Not.
And God knows the power of the mind that he has given us. He tells us “as a man thinketh, so he is.” Not as a man doeth – as he thinketh! What you concentrate on, you draw to yourself. If we continually allow fear to enter our mind, we attract the very things we are afraid of. Like Job says in 3:25: “For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.” Fear not. Fear is the opposite of trust.
3. Guilt – the greatest tool of the enemy. The bible calls him the “accuser” who tempts you with the things of this world and then brings you guilt and shame when you give in. You think, “I’ve done too much – I’m too far gone for God to use me. And I’m too weak to say that I’m not going to do it again.” But how many times have you been told that the Holy Spirit will change you from the inside if you let him. But the Holy Spirit, being perfect love, won’t ever force himself on you – He comes only where he’s invited. Then he’ll tell you that not only is the past gone and forgiven, but that, unlike us, God has completely forgotten about it, and it’s gone. Now we need to learn to let it go and forgive yourself.
4. Anger – Anger is an intense form of fear. The body changes that happen when we get angry, the increased hormone and enzyme changes, blood pressure, etc. are the same responses we have in a panic mode of fear. Anger is the fear of losing control. We want people to act a certain way or treat us a certain way, and when it doesn’t happen our way, we get angry. We know we are supposed to let it go, but we refuse. We want to hang on to our anger. In church we pray “Thy will be done” but then we say “I hate that guy” or “I will never forgive him for what he did,” We are in effect saying “my will be done. I don’t want to let it go.”
5. Worry – aka fear of the future. God lives in eternity but we live in time. The closest thing in this world to eternity is NOW. That’s why he wants us to let go of the past – yours and your brothers – and don’t worry about the future. Otherwise you are not fully present in NOW.
Last weekend one of the richest men in the world was sitting in front of the TV, watching a football game, drinking Kool Aid, and cussing out the other team. Even though he has billions of dollars in the bank, the money didn’t make any difference during that moment. He had everything he needed right there in the room with him. So did you.
When we start living in the NOW and appreciating that God’s looking out for us -when we stop worrying about tomorrow, then we discover we do have everything we need in this moment. God talks to us in the NOW. He wants us living in the NOW so He can communicate with us. … Worry is the opposite of faith.
6. Selfishness – The world teaches us that we’ve got to look out for #1 - We have to look out for ourselves and get what we can get. But that is a LIE from this world! We find no joy in that. The truth is – the more selfish you are – the more you lose! We can end up losing our family and loved ones, our friends, our peace of mind and any chance at true love. A wise man once said “If you seek happiness for yourself, it will always elude you. “If you seek happiness for others, yours comes automatically.” Our way has not worked. When we stop trying to “get over” and start thinking how we can serve God and our brothers, amazing things start to happen. Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” He tells us that, not so we can suffer, but so we can find true joy and happiness. Selfishness is the opposite of love.
7. Depression and Loneliness – How many of you have said “I have so much love to give, but no one to receive it” Isn’t it ironic? – there are 6 billion people in this world, who are lonely and needing love. And there’s 6 billion people in this world who all have a lot of love to give, but just don’t know how. The secret is - If you want to be loved, you have to start giving it. The problem is not that you haven’t got anybody to love. The problem is that youre not behaving like a loving person. Don’t pray, “God send me someone to love.” Ask, “God send me to those who need love.” When you are truly loving another, you are no longer focusing on yourself, and your troubles begin to fade into nothing.
8. Unworthiness – We are told that we are children of God, who share in the inheritance of Christ. But we don’t believe it and think we’re nothing and can do nothing. But the bible tells us that with Christ we can do great things. But you have to believe it before God can use you to do those great things.
It doesn’t matter what’s in your past. Look at Moses, David and Paul in the bible. All of them were murderers before they came to know Christ. But with the Holy Spirit they became great warriors for God and accomplished great things. . The biggest sinners make the greatest saints. When you’ve lived in sin, you’ve tasted hell. When you truly find Christ, the difference is so dramatic, you became passionate followers and mighty warriors for Him. Then you can believe Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”.
9. Blame: We blame everything and everyone outside ourselves for our circumstances and our unhappiness. That’s the first thing Adam and Eve did after the fall - blame each other and blame God. But Luke 17:21 tells us the kingdom of God is within you. Only you can change the things that are going on in your mind. You can choose peace, love and happiness, even in the midst of chaos. Your mind is the kingdom that God has given you to rule. Until now, we have let chaos rule. It’s time to take over our lordship of this kingdom, and start being our own ruler. Only you have control over your thoughts. God has other kingdoms for us, but first we’ve got to learn to rule this one like he does, with love and mercy. No one else can do that for us, and no one else can be blamed for what we let into our mind.
10. Isolation. For whatever the reason, because we’ve been betrayed or hurt, or because we’re shy or self-conscious, we don’t connect with other people. But God wants us united with each other – that’s where the power is. We live in a world where we seem to be separate from God and separate from each other. But God tells us all things are connected. When one is hurting, the whole body is hurting. In order to heal the world, we’ve got to come together and encourage each other and lift each other up. That person sitting next to you may be the very one you will need when you are down and discouraged. Jesus’ commandment was to love God, and to love each other.
We serve a big God and nothing is impossible with Him if we are willing to do our part. Everyone has been called for a very lofty, holy purpose – to change the world. To change the world we have to first change ourselves, - change our way of thinking. The first step is to pay attention to what you are thinking. As the bible says, “Take every thought captive.” Watch how often those negative thoughts enter your mind. If you’re honest, you’ll find it is the majority of the time. We have been brainwashed with this kind of thinking, and the first step in eliminating these thoughts is to become aware of them.
Then practice positive thoughts. You have to make conscious effort to change your way of thinking and get into the habit of positive thinking. So if someone cuts in front of you in traffic, if they talk about you, if they give you a dirty look, or if they just irritate you, remember that this is another opportunity to practice changing your thoughts and learn to love your enemies. Heb 13:2 says “Many have entertained angels unawares.” The person that irritates you the most just may be an angel sent here to help you learn