I thought this little Mary Englebreit drawing was a good one for the what I wanted to share today. Last time I shared about peace and that Romans 15:13 mentioned in believing and trusting God we would have joy and peace, and could count on the Holy Spirit to fill us with a bold hope. God is a God of unity. There is so much in scripture that talks about the body of Christ walking in unity and the power of it in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is singular. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 The word is “fruit”, not “fruits”. Just like the ingredients in those cookies the adorable red haired girl in this drawing is baking, we can not separate the nine fruit of the Spirit. (Please notice the ingredients in her little jars :-) When we are born again the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and all of the character and nature of God comes in with the Holy Spirit. Our spirit now has life in it, the life of God. To walk in the life God has for us we need to understand how each of the nine fruit of the Spirit are developed in us, and how they look when they are manifested. God intends for His people to walk in His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self control ~ all of them, together. Those are His nature and they are foreign to the world. When the world sees those characteristics in us, they see God. Therein is true evangelism. The world can argue our words, but not our actions. To be able to develop the fruit, or the character and nature of God in our life we must know God. We must spend time seeking Him.We must spend time reading His Word and make it the final authority in our lives. We must spend time quietly before Him just listening to what He wants to show us. Have you ever noticed how when people spend a lot of time around someone they begin to talk, sound and act like them? You can especially see that in children. Well, if we are spending quality time with God, we will imitate Him. Since God is love, what we do will be motivated by love. At that point we will truly be ambassadors for Christ.
So let’s take a look at that fruit of joy that was mentioned with peace earlier. Since we just talked about spending time with God, this fruit has a special significance here.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Joy is not just a feel good fruit that has a status slightly more elevated than being happy. Joy is the strength of the Christian, and a very powerful force. W. Phillip Keller wrote, “Joy is a divine dimension of living not shacked by circumstances. This joy springs from the presence of God in a person’s life.” Happiness is contingent on that which is happening around us. Happiness has to do with what others do and those things that we experience, it is all circumstance. Happiness is about the world around you and can change drastically and quickly. Joy on the other hand is on the inside of us and if we develop it, it will be the constant, unchanging force that causes us to be more than conquerors, overcomers!
Deuteronomy 28:47-48 tells us that since the Israelites did not serve the Lord with joy they did not enjoy the abundance he had for them. They experienced lack and wanting for all things including food and water, they had to serve the enemy and were in bondage to him. 2 Peter 2:19 tells us that those without the strength of joy in their life will serve whomever or that which overcomes them. The joy of the Lord that we develop in our time spent with him will prevent that. Joy has several roles, but its greatest is to give strength to us to overcome ~ anything.
Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. Remember how Jesus did nothing and said nothing but what His Father told him to do? How did Jesus know what the Father wanted Him to do? The same reason He had the joy to endure the cross! He spent time with Him.
...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
I have had a number of things in my life that sent me running for time in the throne room of God. I have found though, the best thing to do is be there everyday getting to know Him and just soaking in His love and giving Him praise for it.
Is there something in your life you need to be strengthened for? Or, do you just feel you aren’t living quite the quality of life God has for you, maybe just weary? Spend quality time with Him everyday and see how that love~joy connection will strengthen you. I would love to hear about how God met you in that time!