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Are you enjoying your life? If not, God wants you to. Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but He came that we "may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)" (The Amplified Bible). I believe this means God wants us to enjoy every part of our lives—not just little bits and pieces here and there.

Many people today live their lives in a constant state of stress and turmoil. But as Christians, we don't have to live that way. Why? Because God's Spirit lives in us, and a fruit of His Spirit is joy.

Now this joy is not just a "happy feeling" based on our circumstances or on the things we possess—it is an unshakable stability in our inner man (spirit). Joy can range anywhere from a calm delight to extreme hilarity, and it is the joy of the Lord that is our strength (see Neh. 8:10)

Many years ago, I spent most of my time uptight and upset about something. The reason for this was because my happiness was based entirely on circumstances. If things were going my way, I was happy. If we had money in the bank, I was happy.

If it was Friday night, a holiday, or if we were on vacation, I had joy. But since these things accounted for only a small part of my life, the majority of the time I was sad and discontented.

As my relationship with God grew, I got tired of being happy only if and when things were going my way. I was weary and worn out from the constant mood swings, and I just wanted to be happy.

God's Word said that I could live my life with joy, and I finally decided that I was going to do whatever it took to have it. As I really started to seek God about this issue, He began to reveal to me several important principles that are critical to receiving and keeping our joy. Following are seven of these life-changing essentials:

1. Be led by the Spirit. One of the most dynamic ways to keep our joy is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way we should go. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure."

Probably one of the hardest things in the world for people is to walk away from doing something they have done for a long time. In many ways, I can't stand to do the same thing for too long. For example, I have several pairs of pajamas because I just don't like to look at the same ones all the time. But in certain areas I'm not like that—I would probably be happy with the same hairstyle until Jesus comes!

If we do the same thing the same way too long, it just becomes old and stale, and it means nothing. But one of the things I have learned about the Holy Spirit is that if we follow Him, He keeps everything fresh. Life does not get stale when we follow the Lord.

The Holy Spirit will lead us to change things on purpose just to make us pay attention to Him. God may lead you simply to take a different route home from work. He may want to show you a new tree or something beautiful on your way home.

Don't just keep doing things the same way if you are no longer joyful when you do them. You will lose your joy if you are not willing to get out of the boat.

2. Simplify your life. Don't try to do too much. Satan works hard to complicate your life so he can steal your joy. If you want to live a less complicated life, you may have to simplify it by not doing so much.

I used to whine and grumble about my schedule saying, "How can anybody do all this? I never have any time to rest. I never take a vacation." God finally told me one day, "You're making the schedule. If you don't want to do it all, then just don't do some of it."

If you're too busy, I suggest that you take an hour or so and write down everything you are doing or want to do. Then look at which events are not bearing any fruit and mark them off your list.

Before I uncomplicated my life, I never had time to enjoy my home. I never enjoyed my kids. I loved them, but I never really took time to enjoy them.

I encourage you to spend time with your family and friends. Enjoy your relationship with God. Many people are too busy to even take a walk. Take a little bit of time to look at some of the things God has created.

Learning how to simplify your life is possibly one of the most important principles to understand because Satan wants to steal your time. He steals your joy by making you too busy to enjoy all God has given you. Take time to laugh. Take time to enjoy your life!

3. Pray with boldness. Jesus said, "Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete" (John 16:24).

I believe there are people who are not receiving from God what He wants them to have because they won't ask boldly of Him. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come "boldly" before God's throne that we might receive grace and help in our time of need.

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