Joy doesn’t have to be elusive. Last weekend, Findlay Campus Pastor Chris Baney shared three disciplines: prayer, gratitude and controlled thinking to help us grow in our capacity to be joyful—because Jesus cares more about producing a joyful heart than a joy-filled experience. Today we’ll unpack the concept of controlled thinking and how you can implement this in your own life.
At one point in the 1986 movie Short Circuit, a robot named Johnny 5 was seeking “input.” In 1986, Johnny’s input sources were pretty much limited to TV and books. Today we are inundated with input from 24-hour news stations, the internet, and of course, the “quality information” that we unearth on social media.
If Johnny had access to all the input available today, I’m guessing he might have … well … short-circuited. Did you know that each day, the average person touches their phone over 2,500 times and spends 142 minutes on social media?
I know that when I rely on these modern sources of input for too long, I become grumpy, anxious, and cynical about the world around me. Joy is nowhere to be found. And no wonder! Much of what is floating around out there on the internet wouldn’t pass the Philippians 4:8 litmus test of being true, excellent, or worthy of praise.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
If I’m not diligent at taking my thoughts captive and fixing them on Jesus, they tend to run amok and take my emotions right along with them. I begin to ruminate on things I can do absolutely nothing about. Perhaps you can relate. As Chris Baney pointed out, we can’t always control what’s going on around us, but we can control how we think.
One way to live with more joy is to change our source of input. The psalmist David reminds us who that source should be.
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!
Did you catch that? God should be the source of our joy, but we need to seek him and put him first. The apostle Paul instructs us how:
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Joy is available to us, but we need to control our thoughts and what we fixate on. I encourage you to consider ways you can shift your source of input to Jesus, so that you may be strengthened with all his glorious power and be filled with joy and gratitude.
11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.
What zaps your joy?
What are your typical sources of input?
What is one thing you can do to help keep your eyes on Jesus?
Carve out 15 minutes each day to read God’s word, pray, or just be still.
Set your radio default to K-Love or create a playlist with your favorite Christian songs.
Download RightNow Media or a Bible App, like YouVersion, and head to that on your phone when you have free time instead of social media.
Start preparing for 21 Days of Prayer by looking over the prayer and fasting resources at cedarcreek.tv/21days.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being the source of our joy. It’s so easy to get distracted and allow my thoughts and attention to be diverted. Help me redirect my attention to you, Lord, and to focus on thoughts that are true, excellent, and worthy of praise. Amen.
This post was written by Kelly Pagel, the Director of the LivingItOut.
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