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It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. ... I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. ...
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace.
And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.—Max Lucado
I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.—Charles Spurgeon
Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” How true! A few simple words, spoken by unassuming people, yet filled with the Lord’s Spirit and love, can reverberate throughout the lives of those they are spoken to in tangible and powerful ways.
There are so many situations where, if we stop to think about it, we can be sharing simple, kind words that will add up to having a substantial impact on others. It helps to think ahead a bit of things we might say to the people we encounter that can encourage, lift up, and inspire hope and faith in the goodness of God.
So much can happen through a few caring words. What impresses me is that the words we say—which can seem so matter-of-fact, so common, so meager, so insignificant, and often awkward—can, in fact, be invaluable and of great consequence to the person to whom—or about whom—we say them.
What to us may seem like hardly anything can be like food to a starving soul, or water to a man dying of thirst. What costs us so little to give and seems so small in the bigger scheme of things can mean everything to someone else.—Maria Fontaine
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1
Joy isn’t optional, it is an essential part of being a Christian. God created us to rejoice. He even commands it! God also tells us what the subject of our joy ought to be: the goodness of God that has provided salvation for our souls and gives us hope.
You see, joy isn’t the absence of sadness. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to be joyful always. Joy isn’t a feeling that is dependent on our circumstances. It is a response to the goodness of God and our eternal salvation. …
I know that “getting rid of anxiety” is not always a realistic goal. Sadly, stress and anxiety are part of the human experience—because we live in a world that is broken by sin. Although we may not be able to completely “get rid of” anxiety, we can learn to combat it by choosing joy even when we don’t feel like it.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m anxious, my first response is “God, I’m not joyful at all. I feel hopeless. I want to feel sorry for myself.” And this type of faulty reasoning perpetuates negative feelings and thoughts in my mind. …
As we mature in our faith, we realize that life is not all about what we want or how we feel. Our purpose is to submit to the lordship of Christ and invite Him to shape the way we live our day-to-day lives. Even when it isn’t easy. Especially when it isn’t easy.
So what do we do when anxious thoughts plague our minds? We start by taking those thoughts captive and making them obey Christ.2 We do this by recognizing how we feel and then surrendering it to God. We give it back to Him and allow Him to be in control, which lifts a huge burden off of our shoulders! …
Likening himself to a vine and the disciples to branches, Jesus reminded us we must abide, and remain in Him for nourishment, strength, and survival. “The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. … My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”3
Without nutrients from the vine, a branch simply cannot bear fruit. One such fruit, as a follower of Jesus, is joy. Abide in Him, and He will be able to fill you with His joy.
Though the world may change around us and nothing in this temporal world is promised, our God is never changing. And we can find joy in that.
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”4—Kaleigha Jae5
Choices that define
It’s easy to think your life is defined by what happens to you. But the truth is that your life is defined by the choices you make.
It’s undeniable that bad things happen all the time. We live in a broken world. You don’t always choose right. Other people don’t always choose right. We all get hurt.
But what happens to you is not nearly as important as the way you choose to respond. Some people are built up through difficult situations. Other people are broken by them. For some people, a bad experience is a stumbling block. For others, it’s a stepping-stone.
If you take two people and put them in the exact same pain, one may succeed while the other fails. Why? Because of the choices they make.
You cannot control many of your life circumstances, but you can control how you decide to respond. You can choose whether things make you bitter or better.
The choices you make today determine where you will be tomorrow. … Wise people are always asking: What do I need to do today to get me where I need to be tomorrow?
The book of Deuteronomy tells how God gave his people a choice: “If you obey [me], you will live and become successful and powerful.”6 The children of Israel would make their choice, and then their choices would make them.
The same is true for you. God puts choices in front of you every day. What you do with your choices will determine the person you become.—Rick Warren7
Published on Anchor July 2021. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18.
2 2 Corinthians 10:5.
3 John 15:5, 8.
4 James 1:17.
6 Deuteronomy 30:16 CEV.