Monthly Archives: April 2014

Right to Privacy


My prayer for myself this day and everyday is to be clothed with the mantle of humility. I pray that God will help me esteem others higher than myself. I pray for a heart that loves others unconditionally. I pray to live in such a way that my words would draw others to Christ not push them further away.


Matthew 7:1-5 NIV

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5 we find this warning, “judge not, lest ye be judged”.    The verb is krino and literally means to decide what is right or wrong for someone else.  Here, Jesus says, it’s not for you to decide what is right or wrong for others.  He then goes on to illustrate personal responsibility with the example of the speck that is in another’s eye, compared to the beam that is in your own.  It’s a matter of perspective.  And if you have the proper perspective, your faults (the beam) should look much larger  than the faults of others (the speck).  And when you combine His instruction with the illustration He gives, you should conclude that it’s wrong to decide what’s right or wrong for others and it should be your priority to look for and deal with your own faults.

Somehow we are elevated if our imagery of self dwarfs someone else.

We are quick to excuse our own behavior by faults we find in someone else. It may look something like this, ” I’m not judging them, they need to be told.” Or,  maybe we take the responsibility of discipleship to a whole new level of micro managing. I have been guilty myself of comparing my walk to someone elses. I have been guilty of being absolutely sure that I was better than, more spiritual than , producing more fruits and than…. The trouble with that is God is not comparing me to them. He is comparing me to His son.  Jesus did did not come here to judge the world but to save it. There are basically two reasons why people compare themselves to others and both are wrong.  They compare themselves to those they think inferior in some way to make themselves look good.  Or, they compare themselves to those who seemingly are better off in some way, because they feel sorry for themselves.

Let’s look at the conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-23 following Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 18 Jesus tells Peter that when he was younger he took care of himself and went wherever he decided to go.  Then Jesus tells him that when he is older, he’ll stretch out his hands for help, another (the Holy Spirit) will take care of him and lead him where he will not want to go.  Verse 19 then tells us that Jesus was talking about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  And Peter evidently understood this, because when he saw John following them he asked Jesus in verse 21, what is going to happen to him?  To which Jesus answers in verse 22 and repeats in verse 23, what is that to you?

Notice Jesus has repeatedly told Peter to “feed My lambs”, “feed My sheep”, “follow Me”.  God had a plan and purpose for Peter’s life.  At best, it would be difficult; at worst, it would be humanly impossible. And Jesus was telling him, Peter, it’s time to focus, concentrate on the business at hand, your business (what the Father has planned for you).  Never mind what’s going to happen to John, that doesn’t concern you.  The principle is the same for every one of us.  God has a plan and purpose for our lives, but we’ll never realize it by minding other people’s business.  We’ll only know it by concentrating on Him.

In Romans 14:4 Paul tells us that we’re not to judge (krino, again) another’s servant, because it is before his own master that he will either stand or fall.  This is a great statement. Romans 10:10-13 goes on to reiterate the point that it is not our responsibility to decide what’s right or wrong for someone else’s servant, their Master will decide. Their Master is Christ once a person accepts salvation.

Galations 5:1 says we have freedom in Christ.  In this context  the word “freedom” or “liberty” in some translations refers to the right of privacy that every believer has that allows him to pursue a relationship with God free of any interference, or constraints that others might try to put on him. Every one is supposed to have this freedom from the interference of others.

In II Thessalonians 3:11 Paul warns against being “disorderly”.  The word disorderly is (ataktos) meaning out of rank, and is used here to signify those who were out of line.  Or in otherwords they were busybodies (periergazomai), those who meddled in the affairs of others, instead of minding their own business as they had been taught was the proper thing to do. Paul mentions busybodies again in I Timothy 5:13. In this verse he warns against idlers, tattlers and busybodies.  In fact what he says is, don’t be one of those who find themselves with too much time on their hands.   They’re going to find themselves more involved in the affairs of others than they are their own (busybodies). They become one who is more interested in the supposed spiritual condition of others than they are their own spiritual condition.  They’re more concerned about the moral condition of others than they are their own moral condition, because morality is what their religion has taught them.  They don’t know what true spirituality really is… Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the change that takes place because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Galations 6:2-5 tells us that we must quietly endure one another’s faults and in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ.  The law of Christ is that we love one another.  And here, it is clear that Paul’s view of fulfilling this law demands the acceptance of those who exhibit failure. Judgment or isolation is not an option.  Verse 3 tells us that those who refuse this course do so because they think themselves superior to those who fail. This is certain self-deception, since we all fail from time to time and find ourselves in trouble. Verse 4, tells us that we must examine ourselves, take proper care to remedy our own faults and then we can feel good about ourselves without having to resort to unhealthy comparisons. Verse 5  tells us in conclusion that we all have to bear our own load of faults, that is, we simply have to take responsibility.

As is usually the case, Christ is our example.  John 8:1-11 shows us the principle that should guide us when we’re tempted (and we will be) to judge someone else’s seemingly wrong behavior.  This it is the account of the woman brought to Jesus after she was caught in the act of adultery.  Without going through a verse-by-verse explanation, let me just tell you the principle taught here is neutrality.  In regards to the woman and what she had done, Jesus was neutral.  He neither judged nor excused what she had done, evidenced by His statement “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.

Jesus did not violate her right to privacy.  He did not judge her.  Nor did He feel the need to get personally involved, find out all the gory details and set Himself up as the expert ready and willing to give this poor woman all the counseling she would need to help her out of this mess.  Isn’t that amazing? He didn’t “minister” to her.  Instead, He stayed out of it and minded His own business.   In John 8 Jesus in His humanity was simply following this truth.  Did God have a plan and purpose for Jesus?  Certainly.  Did Jesus have to concentrate and keep Himself focused in order to understand and fulfill that plan?  Absolutely!  And regardless of what you think “church ministry” should look like, you find no evidence in the life of Jesus that the Father’s plan for Him included getting personally involved in the private affairs of others.  Yet this is a large part of what goes on today.

Who gave us the “Christian” responsibility to be moral policemen to those around them?  If the guilty one conforms they are only taught to yield to the interference of the one perceived to be above them. There is no spiritual value in the things we do because we were made to feel guilty through the judgment of others, manipulated by false authority, pressured into conforming to some religious standard, or counseled by men (or women) and guided into some kind of reformed behavior. 

It is the plan and purpose of God to  conform us from the inside out to the image of His Son.  But the only change God will recognize is that which comes as a result of our submission and obedience to Him.  Our own efforts to reform or forcing someone else into living according to my self-righteous standard is not acceptable to Him.

“He delivers us, not because of any self-righteous works that we have done, but because of His mercy.  And He does it through the cleansing of regeneration (change) by means of the renewing ministry of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

Why should we respect other’s rights to privacy?  It is because God is both the source and the agent for change.  Regardless of whether it is our religious training, our self-righteousness, deceitful perceptions of spiritual superiority or our genuine good intentions, any change that comes from our interference in the lives of others is merely the result of human effort and is worthless in the eyes of the God.

The Almighty God, The Great I AM



There are so many things that we don’t understand,  that we can’t understand. We question God on His ability. We question His motives. We say things like, if God is real why would this thing or that thing happen?

A few years back I receive some devastating news that one of my dearest friends, a very godly woman had pancreatic cancer. She told me that pancreatic cancer had a 3 percent chance of survival. We were positive that she would be one of those 3 percent. God surely would not take her from the earth knowing that she had an autistic child. We prayed, we believed and we absolutely new that the sovereign God of the universe would see things our way. He didn’t and I was devastated.

I buried some of my faith with my friend. It wouldn’t be long before my father was hospitalized in a coma. I didn’t  have the faith to pray. I wished but I did not pray. One evening I was allowed the rare opportunity to be alone with my father. The doctor walked in the room and he asked me a question.  He said, “Hope,  what do you think about this?” I thought for a moment and I remember the words coming out of my mouth but there was no thought behind it. I said, “I know that if my father were not to make it out of this,  he would not go to heaven.” When the doctor turned around and left the room I took my father’s hand and for the first time in a long time I began to pray. God gave me what I asked of Him. My father is alive today and it is a saved man. 

At that moment in my life I truly realized that God is sovereign; that God can do what He wants, when He wants and how He wants. He answers to no one; not out of the spirit of rudness but out of the spirit of knowledge. 

I believe it is wise not to question God. When we continue to ask why, to argue and to move in our own supremacy God may decide to sit us down and ask the questions that He asked Job.

Job 38:1-13 NKJV

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who  is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or  who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’ “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it?

I can’t answer these questions so I dare not ask simpler ones.

I do not wish for God to appear to me out of a whirlwind. I choose to trust God in His infinite wisdom even when I don’t understand for He is God and I am NOT. The Ancient of Days owes me no explanation. When He appears to me in all of His glory I will scarcely be able to take it all in. Until then Daniel 7 shares a glimpse. Enjoy

Daniel 7:9-10 NKJV

“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.

The Friends We Keep



My heart is sweetly broken.  From this women I learned about unconditional love, about serving,  about helping others, and about courage. She is a beautiful reflection of love… She is my friend.

We have been through a lot together. For 23 years we have done life.  Work,  fun,  family,  marriages, divorces, sickness, births and now death. And we wait.

Last evening my phone rang. I picked it up and answered with excitement! The caller ID said Marilyn,  it was my friend whom I love!
With joy in my voice I said “hey what’s going on”? And she responded “I’m dying.” I quickly brushed it off… we’re all dying right? Really what’s going on? To this she responded “Hope, I have cancer in both lungs. I’m going to see Jesus and I am not afraid. As my heart began to break I struggled to catch my breath. She responded “hello are you there? ”
We continue to talk for a moment and her positive attitude begin to show me true attributes of Jesus. Marilyn is love.. love without fear or anger.

Though my heart is breaking as we wait, I would not trade one moment of our friendship. You are truly beautiful to me. Never judging,  always loving,  Yes,  you are quite beautiful to me,  a Rose in a field full of daisies. I will carry you in my heart forever.

He Delights in You



Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

You precious reader are the one whom Jesus loves. He would have went to the cross if you were the only one. We are measured according to human standards from the very moment that were born by the Apgar scale. We somehow believe the lies,  that we don’t measure up, that one Christian is better than the other, that God couldn’t possibly love me. God is not comparing us one against the other. We must stop comparing ourselves.

God measures from the heart. He knows your heart; your deepest fears, your happiest moments, your questions, your struggles. He also knows every thought the crosses your mind. He loves you with the infinite love in spite of it all.

The hardest thing for a person to do is realize that you dont have to do anything to earn His love. His love is unconditional.  His is love is pure. His love is everlasting. Your sins, once you receive Jesus,  are as far as the east is from the west.

Stop measuring yourself by other people and measure yourself to Him, the lover of your soul. Abandoned yourself. Give yourself fully to Him. There is a  beautiful romance waiting to happen.




I remember a time when I was a young adult when my parents had gone to Colorado.  My mother had came back with a little figurine. It was called a Kokopelli. I thought Kokopelli was the cutest little thing.  I then began to put Kokopelli in my home as it was decorated in southwest as well.

I recall in my first home having lots of Southwest decorations.  I had the Suns,  wolves, cactuses… you name it I had it but Kokopelli remained my favorite.  He was a stick figure with a mohawk playing a flute.. he just seemed to be the epitome of joy and fun. Eventually on a night out with a girlfriend of mine I even had a Kokopelli tattooed on my ankle.

It didn’t take long before one of my clients,  you know a ‘concerned Christian’ made a comment about Kokopelli to me and told me that Kokopelli in fact was an ancient infertility god and that I should not worship him. I must tell you that I was stunned.  It had never crossed my mind to worship Kokopelli nor did I care that he was a fertility god because I did not put my trust in him.

Kokopelli was as much a part of my home as a lamp..not worship object. Funny thing about the story is that in the next couple years I would find out that I was unable to have children. I’m glad that I did not put my faith in the power of the little Indian fertility god spread around my house or I would have been sorely disappointed.

My love for Southwest art has aso landed a few dream catchers in my home. I do not believe that the dream catcher has any more power than what my mind will give it.  The only thing that has power to change a life or change your mind or change your circumstance is the Power of God.

These amongst other objects of our affection are distinctly planted in our Western civilization. They are as much a part of my life as Santa Clause, the Easter bunny and even the tooth fairy. I believe that I can speak for most Americans that we do not check the history behind these traditions. We enjoy them as families that come together in love and unity to be together over a meal and over a little bit of tradition.

Living in America, we are in the melting pot.  Most times we lose our traditions from our heritage in exchange for the American Way.

I am a Christian! I’ve been set free by the power of the living God through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit at age of 28. I love Santa Clause!  I love hiding Easter eggs! I love watching joy on children’s faces! I realize that by the time most children come to the age of accountability they usually are a the point of figuring out that some of these fairytales if not all are fake. 

I grew up loving these holidays and not understanding the meaning behind it or the true reason for it.  I was not scarred as an adult I can assure you. What has scarred me far worse, Christian people cramming their beliefs and doctrines down people’s throats.  If people in fact include Santa Claus in their Christmas celebration or include the Easter bunny or pagan Easter eggs in there Sunday afternoon get together with their families…They are doing it wrong. Well, I guess I did it wrong with my daughter because I thoroughly enjoyed every Santa Clause and every Easter was my delight!

I believe that if we would instead be the Christian people that God created us to be we would love everyone enough not to throw our family traditions under the bus. Or… just a thought..We could add to the  traditions by telling the story either the birth of Jesus Christ or his death burial and resurrection. Who knows we may have the awesome opportunity to lead someone to Christ. Or remind someone that is already assured of their salvation just how much Jesus loves them! I was able to do that yesterday!

In closing I would like to say back in the day that the concerned Christian explained to me what Kokopelli was  I wanted no part of her religion especially if it gave you the freedom to judge. I don’t believe anyone, religious or not, likes to be judged.  We must be careful as Christian people not to judge other people.  Sometimes we don’t think we’re judging but in fact it’s the other person’s perception that names your behavior and gives them an opinion about the god you serve. 

I understand more everyday why Gandhi said

“I like your Christ I do not like your Christians your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I Am Thirsty



Isaiah 44:1-4 NKJV

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, And Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring; They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’

I am NOT one that falls in and out of love with God. The blood Christ has me so free and I’ve seen  many miracles.   I want to spend every ounce of my life making sure that everybody else knows that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! I praise God for every ministry opportunity He has  given me and I’m so thankful for the relationship that I have with Jesus Christ.

But this morning I had to tell Him that I am so thirsty!  I am bored. I need to see His true revelation power in and around me. Satan has launched so many fiery darts at me that the rivers of water have almost  been depleted. Yesterday’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not enough for today. I am left longing for more. I do not want to be a kind of people that goes into captivity as Your word says. I am Your honorable people Lord! Come and fill me up!

Isaiah 5:13 NKJV

Therefore my people have gone into captivity, Because they  have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished, And their multitude dried up with thirst.

I am going to hold on to The Rock of my salvation.  I’m going to drink from it. I will not be left thirsty but I will be filled up. Come Lord Jesus, flood this dry ground. I believe in You!

John 7:37-38 NKJV

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”



Why do Christians sometimes treat each other so badly?

I’ll be honest, that’s a question I have struggled with for most of my Christian life. It’s been the only issue that has ever caused me to doubt or question my faith.


I am blessed to have a church family full of good-hearted people who are committed to loving others and displaying Jesus’ grace in their words, works and witness. However  I also regularly come into contact with professing Christians  whose consciences seem to remain untroubled by a critical spirit or even open resentment towards other believers.

I myself battle a critical spirit and resentment towards others. I pray about this constantly and enlist others to pray as well.  I want to see other people as God sees them.  I don’t feel this way because I’m good but because He is good.

So still the question remains!

Why is this?

How can those adopted into God’s family sometimes treat brothers and sisters like enemies?

How can those who have been reconciled with God fall out with each other?

How can those who pray together end up preying on each other?

These are questions most Christians ask at some point in their lives, usually when they witness – or worse experience – conflict in the church or with other Christians. These times often leave us with memories that trouble us and, if left unchecked, can  disillusion us.

Because behind these questions is a much deeper one: does being a Christian actually make any difference? Does Christianity ‘work’?

If God’s Spirit doesn’t transform my attitude towards those I disagree with; if being a new creation doesn’t give me a new approach to conflict; if being a child of God doesn’t affect my relationships with other members of God’s family… doesn’t that call into question the authenticity of the gospel?

Total Depravity explains why some Christians aren’t as good as they should be

Sin has affected every part of our being: our intellect, our emotions, our desires, our goals, our motives, our heart, even our physical bodies. While we are not as bad as we could be, by nature we have a tendency to veer towards sin.

Christians are born again by God’s Spirit. We are made new creatures by an act of regeneration in our hearts. However while this frees us from the power and penalty of sin, it doesn’t free us from sin’s presence. Sin no longer has authority over us, but that doesn’t mean we’re rid of it’s influence in our lives.

In Galatians 5, Paul says Christians therefore need to fight a daily battle against indwelling sin. We should no longer be controlled by our sinful natures, but by God’s Spirit (5:16). However, he also makes it clear that if we so choose, we can  indulge our sinful natures (5:13), gratify it’s desires (5:16), and sow to please it (6:8). While Jesus broke sin’s hold over us when he died and rose again, we can choose to let sin rule over us.

Which explains why some Christians are more ungracious, more intolerant and more unloving than many non-Christians.

Am I as good as I should be?

To a certain extent every growing Christian will feel they are not what they should be. Paul wouldn’t have had to tell the Galatians not to use their freedom to indulge their sinful natures if they were perfect.

Which is where this question comes home to roost.

Paul’s instructions in Galatians 5:13-18 get right to the heart of how we should treat other Christians – especially those we fall out with:
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:13-18)

Paul says  the opposite of indulging our sinful nature is serving one another in love.

The mark of a spirit-filled man or woman is therefore how they serve and love other believers, especially those they disagree with.

A believer who continues to live according to the sinful nature will live in conflict with other Christians. But a believer who lives by the Spirit, will show that by the way he serves and loves those Christians he struggles with. While our natural tendency is to avoid those we don’t get on with, a Spirit-filled man or woman will seek out those they don’t get on with in order to show them love.

Paul then goes on to list the acts of the sinful nature, many of which involve broken or distorted relationships: ‘hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy’ (5:20-21).

Whereas in contrast, the fruit of a Spirit-filled life are all characteristics that heal broken relationships: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (5:22-23).

The right question is therefore not  ‘Why do Christians sometimes treat each other so badly?’ – but rather ‘How can I treat my fellow Christians better?’

And the answer of the Apostle Paul is simple:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:24-25)

How can we do that in practice?

Let’s be clear: it is not a natural thing to love those who don’t like us – it’s a supernatural thing. That’s why we need the help of God’s Spirit!

Which is why prayer is a must!

It sounds so simple, but I’ve found the most helpful thing I can do when it comes to loving and serving those I struggle with, is to simply pray that God would bless them.

I pray that God would give them joy and delight in Him. I pray that God would prosper them in their families, workplaces, ministries and personal devotions. I pray that God would answer their prayers and help them to grow in their faith and that they would know His smile on their lives. I pray He would shower His blessings on them so that they are overwhelmed!

I pray that God will continue to help me see other people as He sees them.




Several years ago,while being interviewed by the head Chaplin of a women’s prison, I was asked the strangest question. She asked me what my platform was. I had been doing prison ministry for a little while. 
The only word that came to my mind when I thought about why I wanted to continue in prison ministry with brokenness. When I look out on a room full of women, all dressed in white I see hurt, shame and brokenness. 
I know that if God can fix me he can fix them.

Brokenness this is not the platform that I would have prayed for. Under the circumstances of my life, brokeness is something that I understand. 

As Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13   not that I speak in regard to need for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content . I know how to be abased and I know how to be abound. Everywhere and in all things I’ve learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

In spite of the brokeness of my past,  I have true joy. I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can move mountains. Because Christ has strengthened me, I am involved in healing ministries.  I mostly work inside of Texas womens Prisons, but I love to help women on the outside as well.  
I am the volunteer coordinator for Cross Prison Ministry. I am a trained leader in post abortive healing in the Restore ministry.  I have a certification in Christian counseling, specializing in addiction and recovery. I am presently in school for an undergraduate certification in Biblical Studies.

I do not tell you these things to brag about me, but to give you an insite of the mountains that I have seen God move. That being said,  I will tell you that I have not always been a Christian.  I was saved and baptized in the spring of 1998. Before that and until 2008. I was saved but God was not the Lord of my life. I had lots of things to work through.  There were a lot of things in my life that I didn’t want to give up to serve God. There were a lot of things in my past that I hadn’t dealt with yet. There was so much confusion about who I was let alone who I was in Christ.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that said “I need you to love me until I’m me again.” Christ does that for us. God has a plan for us before ever born but sin rail roads us in another direction.

In order to want someone else to be saved or to get back in their race you have to be thankful for what God has done for you. It’s not often that you want someone that you love to have something that you don’t even care about. I want people to have what I have in Christ. Healing.

Being grateful is a learned behavior. Baby’s are not grateful for their mothers milk they just expect it. We are not interested in the blood of Christ if we don’t know we need it. The adage is true.. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. 

During a word study in Luke 22:19  I came across the word “eucharisteo” it means to give thanks.  The root word in eucharisteo is charis, meaning grace. Another word derived in this word study is chara, meaning joy. 
If I have this right.. my joy is dependant on my thankfulness. I am thankful for God’s grace. It doesn’t really matter how I  feel, if I can find something to be thankful for, I can have joy.

I deserved eternal punishment, instead, I received grace. For this I am eternally grateful. In exchange for my gratefulness “The joy of the Lord is my strength. ” Nehemiah 8:10

We do have an adversary, who walks around like a roaring lion looking for that which he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

He hates sobriety and people of honor, he hates ministry and evangelism,
he hates churches and unity, he hates families and love, he hates grateful hearts and joy. He hates us, he wishes to destroy us.
If the adversary can steal our joy… He can trick is into dissension, self pity, judging others, unforgiveness, ect…we have to refuse to live in that bondage. We must be sober, be vigilant. We must have wisdom. We must love one another.

Ephesians 5:15, 17-21 NKJV

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.