"Create a habit of happiness and laughter instead of a habit of worry. When you laugh, it lowers stress hormones and relieves stress. Laughter also boosts the immune system, protects the heart, and improves overall health. Ten belly laughs a day are equivalent to getting a good aerobic exercise workout, and they're the ultimate ‘stress buster.'" Don Corbert, MD
As we enter into this New Year, it is critical that we maintain a good heart attitude in life. If you look around, you see many people incredibly stressed out worrying and without hope about the future and what will happen. Their hearts are troubled. Many are burdened in this New Year and are using all of their resources fearing the future rather than really living life to the full.
Is this really how God wants us to live?
Did you know that laughter helps promote good health? A laugh can help: Lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, improve your brain function, elevate your mood, reduce your stress, help you relax, and protect your heart.
"True laughing offers one of the most powerful and natural healing methods without any side effects. Laugher lowers the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It increases feel-good hormones. It keeps you squarely in the present moment. It helps you to reframe and feel thankful and helps you to see negative events in a more positive light. There's not a single bad thing laughter will do for your body and mind.” Corbert, MD.
In Proverbs 17:22 the Bible says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine." In Nehemiah 8:10 we read, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength." The Bible supports the fact that cheerfulness and joy promote good health. Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:4-6, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
But is it possible to rejoice in the Lord always? Paul states it twice in Philippians 4:4. He knew that it's something we have to command and encourage ourselves to practice. Struggles are not easy, but Paul, while in prison, was able to rejoice. And then he tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving as we present our requests to God.
Perhaps prayer is a key to the ability to rejoice always. Prayer will help us find joy and laughter as we enter into this New Year. It certainly is not easy to rejoice in certain circumstances of life, but there really is a choice of how we will view them. God has an answer for everything, even when we don't see it through our human eyes. He knows the beginning from the end, and it's our choice if we want to link with Him or not. The world is negative and tries to squeeze us into its mold, but God has a way that we can walk through our circumstances victoriously.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not something we can create ourselves. God's joy is super-natural and can remain deep and abiding even when we are in the midst of hardship. It is not the absence of pain or difficult circumstances. What could be harder than prison? But it is learning to let God's Spirit fill you with His unquenchable joy, regardless of your circumstances. For a world looking desperately for hope, your life becomes a miracle and a testimony of Christ's light especially during this time of year.
Choosing to pray is not always easy, but it is the true path of life. Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." There is joy in the secret place of prayer. There is joy as we choose to center our life in God and knowing Him. There is joy, laughter, and breakthrough even in the darkest of circumstances when we choose to make Jesus our highest ambition, our deepest desire, and our greatest goal. Then He breaks through for us with transcending peace and supernatural understanding.
There are destroyers of joy, laughter, and prayer that the enemy uses against us. Philippians talks about many of these destroyers. It would be good for us to evaluate ourselves at this time of year so that we may guard ourselves diligently against these thieves. Here are some of the ways that the enemy uses to try to steal our joy and diminish our effectiveness in prayer. As you enter into 2014 guard against destroyers of joy, laughter and prayer found in the book of Philippians:
- Anxiety - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Disagreements and poor relationships - "Agree with each other in the Lord" (Philippians 4:2).
- Difficulty and discontentment - "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).
- Wrong thinking - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
- Lack of confidence - "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:15).
- Complaining - "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure" (Philippians 2:14-15).
- Selfish Ambition - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
- Bad Attitudes - "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant" (Philippians 2:5-7).
- Pride - "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8
If you are feeling down and can't seem to get out of it at the beginning of this New Year, take the authority in prayer that is rightfully yours, and break that discouragement in Jesus' name. Then ask God to fill you with His joy and peace. Write down the positive things in your life, and thank God for each one of them. God is able to push the negatives out as you begin to praise Him and dwell on the positive things that He has provided for you.
Don't live your life according to your earthly circumstances but according to your position in Christ. Remember that you are seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3-6), are God's possession (Ephesians 1:14), are chosen of God (Ephesians 1:11), are complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10), are a kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood (Revelation 1:6, 1 Peter 2:9), are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and are able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Healthy joy and laughter are yours.
"Don't be satisfied with a joyless life. There ought to be in every Christian a deep, settled fullness of the joy of Christ that no circumstance of life can dispel. This comes as you allow the Holy Spirit to express Himself in your life. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22). This joy is unlike any happiness that is produced by the world. It fills you and permeates everything you do. Jesus did not pray that you would merely be happy or even that you would escape grief. He prayed that you would have the same joy that the Father had given Him: a divine joy, a joy that comes from a deep and unwavering relationship with the Father. It is a joy that is grounded so firmly in a relationship with God that no change in circumstances could ever shake it. This is the kind of joy that Christ is praying will be in you." Henry Blackaby
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International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff