Smile big!

Smile often.

Let your smile change the world, but don't let the world change your smile.

Each little sincere grin I receive carries a much bigger impact than the person who gave it ever realizes. When someone else is happy, it brightens my day. I think we all need to strive to have this effect on others. I have noticed at times that I'm not completely happy unless I'm helping someone else. You never know what a person might be going through when you meet them, and for all you know, a smile could make a world of difference. I can think of instances where I couldn't t imagine my day getting worse, but once i get a peek at the joy someone else has, it can bring my day into a new light.

Simplifying everything down to its purest form, it's easy to recognize that joy stems from love. Most importantly, the love of God. Accepting God's love for me (shown in the giving of His Son so that I might fellowship with Him forever) has given me the truest joy I've ever known. If I turn away from Him, or question His love, the joy is gone, and I have no song.

Recognizing and accepting God's love for us then leaves us with a choice -- to return that love or not. If we choose not to love Him back, we sink back into that state where true joy is gone, and you often feel like something is missing. This is because God made us so that He could have someone who chose to love Him back. Without a love for Him, there's something not right, like sometimes when you make Jello, and that weird crust forms on the top. It looks like normal Jello on the outside, but dig a little deeper, and something's just not quite right. He loves us regardless of anything we say, do, think, or feel. Rich or poor, regal or pauper, righteous or profligate, God's love stretches no less to you than it does to me than it does to the most unlikely person you can imagine, and He gave His Son for each individual. The least we can do is love Him back. When we choose to love God to the best of our finite human ability, we've completed Part 1.

Some people make the choice to not return His love because they can't accept God's love in the first place. Some see their lives full of trouble, and don't believe God loves them because they don't believe He would allow their circumstances. God still loves these people just the same, and He would never give a person a trial they could not bear. Sometimes He allows things to happen to us so that we have a chance to grow stronger, sometimes it's to teach us something. If God had the power and wisdom to breathe the world into existence, who am I to question His plans? An uncut diamond doesn't look so hot in a piece of jewelry, and gold can't serve its purpose until it goes through the fire and is purified.The only way through trials is to keep our eyes on Him and know that He, as the Master Gem-cutter, is beautifying us. He will give us the peace to come through.

If someone we know goes through difficult times, then we as Christians should be an encouragement, and lovingly point them to God. It is important to realize that the Lord never forsook Job when he lost his family, his possessions, and his health? No, God was there the whole time, strengthening Job, molding him into a priceless work of art. Job focused His eyes on God, Who brought him through and gave Job twice the life he had before. It's often difficult for us to see God's in control when we are in the middle of the situation. We need to be there to encourage them through love and prayer, and to be a friendly reminder that God always has been and always will be in control. Job's miserable comforters did him no service, and neither will we if we point someone in a direction other than God's. Sometimes people need help a hand to hold through a difficult life crisis, and sometimes they just need something much less significant in our eyes, such as an extra hand to help them carry a bag of groceries. Regardless, the least we can do for God is to be his servant and point others to Him. The best way to do this is by loving others. This is Part 2

There you have it, two key elements for joy in the Christian life: love God, and love others. All that's left is to observe the effects of joy. It is my goal to spread some joy and the love of God in whatever I may do, and wherever I may go. I have no idea whom I could serve and in what way with just a simple smile.

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