Saturday, December 16, 2023

JOY: The Second Fruit of the Spirit


Each day, I start off with, "Lord, please let me embrace positivity, joy, & happiness today.  And please manifest in me the Fruits of the Spirit."

I have never been too good at memorizing the list of the Fruits of the Spirit, but at 57 years old, I am still learning new things.  And in this time of "growth opportunity," as Lysa Terkeurst likes to say, I am working through the list of fruits and trying to apply them to my life.

This morning, I woke up from a "nightmare," so to speak.  I could see me sitting at a dinner table across from a woman that is not fond of me.  She was saying some things that were not complimentary or nice.  It was so vivid and real.  Her image; her voice.

I laid in bed and prayed, "Oh Lord, please remove this dream and thought from my head.  Why did you allow that dream to come through?"

As I prayed that prayer, God gave me a simple message.  "Write her.  Wish her JOY and happiness."

Um, what?  I don't think so Lord.  Not a chance.

Again, "Write everyone in that circle and wish them JOY."

So, I did.

At 57 years old, I have learned not to argue with the Lord and His Spirit when they talk.

I quickly deleted the text thread after the message was sent, so it would not be a distraction or temptation to look for replies.  That was not my mission.  My mission was to simply, "...wish JOY."

This morning, my heart is tender.  There are four women in my life who are struggling with life right now.  Hurts so much bigger than my own.  There are also some issues within my family circle that are bigger than my hurt.  My heart is tender.

As I clicked to read today's devotion on JOY, I said to myself, "I'm just not getting anything out of this study like I did from the study on LOVE. Sigh..."

And then.

I read today's devotion; I just broke down into tears.  I'm not even going to try and summarize it here today.  I'm just going to copy and paste.

FOR ME, this lesson on JOY was so powerful.  It doesn't matter if one family out of the entire world doesn't like me.  Jesus does.  It doesn't matter if I spend Christmas day alone. Jesus will always be here beside me - holding me up, loving me unconditionally.

As Paul writes in Philippians 3, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Having true JOY comes from Jesus and possessing the Fruits of the Spirit.  It doesn't come from who likes you or who doesn't.  It doesn't come from days filled with people or days spent alone.  It doesn't come from all the things you surround yourself with.  True JOY comes from knowing Jesus personally, accepting His gift of salvation, and manifesting the Holy Spirit.

Here is what I read today.  I pray it has the same impact on you as it did for me.  I am so thankful for all the GIFTS God gives us as fruit of His Holy Spirit.  I choose JOY, positivity, and happiness daily - minute by minute; hour by hour.  All the rest, as Paul said, is garbage.

Happy Saturday my friends.  May your season be filled with Jesus, all the magic of the holidays, and above all else - JOY.

"Everything in this life and world is meaningless and worthless apart from a relationship with Jesus. I cannot stress these words enough. Let me show you . . .

In the above passage, Paul explains when he came to Christ, the things he saw as valuable were worthless. Everything he once put his security in, everything he believed would bring him fulfillment, everything he found himself striving so hard to achieve and have and be, all the accolades, accomplishments, possessions, morality, and religion, were empty and meaningless.

Even deeper, Paul says, “I consider them garbage.” The English translators were being a little soft when they translated this word. The word for garbage actually translated as refuse or dung. In the most basic of modern translations, Paul is saying, “I consider everything in this world as a poop emoji” in comparison to the surpassing, superior, excellent worth of knowing Jesus.

Consider the things we so highly value on a daily basis. For some, it’s our appearance: our physique, muscles, hair, clothes, or shoes. For some, it’s money. What’s my portfolio looking like? What’s my net worth? What does my reputation, job, grades, family, friends, possessions, and pleasures look like?

Now, are all these things bad? No, of course not! But consider the wisdom found in the Book of Ecclesiastes for a second: “Meaningless! Meaningless . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV).

Wisdom? Pleasures? Work? Advancement? Riches? Meaningless. King Solomon comes to the conclusion that without God, there is no meaning to life.

Friends, I pray you walk away from today’s devotion knowing that Jesus is everything! There is no greater joy in this life and nothing more valuable than knowing and living in relationship with Jesus, and everything in life is greater and full of joy in light of a relationship with Jesus!

Wisdom finds true meaning in light of knowing Jesus. Pleasures such as food, nature, and art become more vibrant and beautiful in Jesus and cause us to give thanks to God for making beautiful things. Work, advancement, and riches find purpose and calling in Jesus. Our relationships, families, marriages, etc. are all made richer and more fulfilling in Jesus and draw us deeper into relationship with Him.

Everything we could ever hope to have, do, enjoy, or gain in this world falls short of and is made better by the eternal, priceless, immeasurable gain of knowing Jesus.

Look at what the psalmist declares in Psalm 16:11 (ESV): “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Friends, everything we’re looking for and longing for in this life can be found in Christ. If you seek to find joy in the things of this world, it will always be elusive, just out of reach, and unattainable. But when you press into the grace of God in Christ and put your hope, security, and purpose in Him, you’ll find true joy, you’ll see those things for what they truly are, and you’ll actually enjoy them in light of knowing Jesus!"


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