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A Cheerful Heart

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Reading: Proverbs 15:15 "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast."

This verse shows the stark contrast of perceptions of persons concerning their lot in life. We all have our lot in life to contend with.

For the person with a cheerful heart, life is a continual banquet. For them life is like a continual feast. The image here is of someone who regularly celebrates. Life is a celebration. What a way great way to live!

For the dour person, each day is a day of affliction of evil. Life is definitely not a celebration. They dread getting out of bed. This person dreads each day and wonders why it is so tough for them.Which person are you?

Do you have a cheerful heart or are you a misery?

My Story
The other day I was sitting at home praying and feeling quite blue.

I was feeling emotionally flat. I was being a misery. So I prayed and asked the Lord to lift the emotional weight, negative attitudes and feelings I was experiencing.

I was having my own pity party which I have been known to have form time to time. I was thinking of all the things that weren't working out or going the way I wanted them to go. I felt I was swimming against the current and so I was indulging in a well deserved pity party.

I was praying "Oh God, help me out here." "God I feel yuk." "God just set me free from the tyranny of the blues." "God help me feel good." Now there is nothing wrong with praying a prayer like that. God wasn't shocked or upset.

I am sure that God was just sitting there thinking "Oh, here he goes again."Then as clear as anything, I felt God whisper His answer into my heart. He ever so gently said "No. I am not going to answer that prayer. It just simply is not going to happen. You snap out of it. Stop feeling so sorry for your self. You do something about your bad attitude." It was like I had been struck with a thunderbolt.

I was wanting a minor miracle from God when God was saying to me live and be the miracle instead. So I shook myself and changed my perception.

Nothing had changed in my situation. Circumstances remained the same but my heart had decided to be cheerful anyway.

What is Your Perception of Life?
If you only ever see from your heart oppression and affliction then I know that life for you is wretched Even when something good still consider life to be wretched. I have listened to people talk over a cup of tea and they would compare problems. One person would tell about the bad week they just had with their kids. And then someone would have to outdo them with a worse story of bad weeks. And so on. I would think "What is it with these people? Doesn't anything good ever happen to them."

Well it probably did...but they were blinded to the blessings by their focus on the oppression of life. A cloud of depression hangs over some people because their horizon is only filled with affliction. They have an anticipation of affliction. That is all they can see. That is what they embrace.

But if you can see the blessings that fill your life, if you can see God working in the middle of your circumstances and be buoyed by those things so that you dare to even smile and allow your heart to be cheerful, then life for you will be like a continual feast. With Christ in my vessel I can smile at the storm.

The Psalmist David declared "You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies." The affliction existed but his focus was on the table of feasting. The Psalmist had a spirit of celebration. When surrounded by the enemies, when surrounded by problems....there is still for you a table of feasting.

But the position and orientation of your heart is what determines whether you find pleasure and joy in each day or not.

Life is Tough for Many
For many people life is very difficult indeed. There is also a time for weeping and grieving. Of course there is. For many Christians life can be extremely difficult. Jesus even said "In the world, you will have trouble."

So we should not trivialize peoples' problems.

Life is a Choice
But how I react to those problems is a choice I am left with. We have been given the power of Choice and our decisions carry consequences.

As much as I would like to blame circumstances or other people I am responsible for the attitudes of my own heart.

That morning when God spoke to me and refused to answer my prayer it reminded me again that God has done a powerful and complete work for me and in me. I needed to choose to live the miracle.

Consequences of being Cheerful
Choosing to have a cheerful heart has its consequences.

What are those consequences?

1. When I choose to be cheerful and thankful then life takes on a different look. Life takes on a different feel. You start to see that there is colour in the grey. You start to exercise authority over your situation instead of being controlled by it. It is as though you are rebelling against what your circumstances are demanding from you. The devil hates that. Instead of crying and whingeing like so many others you are defying the enemy of your soul and choosing to rejoice in your Saviour. That is powerful!
2. When you choose to be cheerful you increase your physical well being. "A cheerful heart is good medicine" Prov 17:22. Doctors and medicine are so expensive. But I can freely increase my health by developing a cheerful spirit. It is good medicine. I am all for health foods and fitness. . But if you are a misery you are not doing your health any good at all. God made you to have a cheerful heart. God gave you the gift of laughter. We neglect such a wonderful gift. A healthy spirit and mind free from worry increases a persons health.
3. When you choose to be cheerful you improve your looks. A smiling face is the most attractive kind of face to look at. I know I keep saying this. But you can put makeup all over your face....but a face that can smile easily is still the most beautiful face of all.
4. When you are cheerful then tension is lessened in your home. You become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
5. When you are cheerful you manage the stress of life far more easily. A cheerful heart keeps you from taking life or your self too seriously. We are so small. The world existed before we got here and it will continue when we go to be with Jesus. Our plans, our desires and our problems are nothing in the light of eternity. So we need to lighten up and smell a few roses.
6. When you choose to be cheerful other people prefer your company. Even children will find you interesting. Your spouse might enjoy your company too so stop being an old grouch!
7. Your giving can be God honouring when done cheerfully. For the Bible says "God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor 9:7.
8. When you choose to be cheerful you tend to have a "It can be done attitude" rather than being a wet blanket. You therefore tend to increase your efficiency, creativity and productivity...because the "Joy of the Lord is your strength." Neh 8:10
9. When you choose to be cheerful you make being a Christian attractive. Jesus said "Let your light shine before men." (Mat 5:16). It's called cheerful evangelism. The light shines through a cheerful heart.
10. When you choose to be cheerful you are honouring God with an attitude that simply says "Thank you Jesus for being good to me." You see......."The cheerful heart has a continual feast." A cheerful heart sees things that a miserable person is unable to see.

Practice Cheerfulness
Now because cheerfulness does not come naturally we have to practice how to do it. Some folk have forgotten how to be cheerful.

Each and every day we need cheerful time.

If you have been suffering from the blues then being cheerful can be quite a shock to your system and to those around you, so just break yourself in gently......Friends may think you are taking an illegal substance.

The time to practice being cheerful is actually first thing in the morning. What happens first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day.

The doorway to being cheerful is thankfulness and gratitude to God. It is where you take stock of the good things you have and you thank God for it.

Thank God for your health, family, food, clothes, house, water, Your salvation, your home in heaven, your nation and your church.

You thank God for his presence. You thank God for his angels. You thank God that you are still going and you're still saved.

You make up your own list.

But as you start to be thankful God gets bigger in your heart. Your perspective on your life changes. Perhaps only so slightly at first but it starts to change.

A smile may develop by itself but if not just practice one. Then decide that you will speak cheerfully to as many people as is possible until you run out of steam and return to your self again.

Repeat this process every day and you will get better at being of a cheerful heart.

Unfortunately, however, it never becomes a habit. Because everyday CHEERFULNESS is a choice.

Ps David Warwick

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