Fruit Of The Spirit: Joy

Joy sign

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

After setting the base of love, Paul mentions joy as the second fruit of the Spirit. Joyo is something that people sing about during the Christmas season–Joy to the World. Yet, joy is something that appears to escape or evade many people.

Walking around and looking at the faces of people, very few show any signs of any type of joy in their lives. Often all that is seen is hurt, pain, suffering, and depression, anything but joy.

Suffering man

What is joy?

Often people will think of joy as happiness, but it is much more. Throughout the bible joy is often mentioned.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing (joy) in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7

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Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles, 16: 32-34 

Psalm 16_11

There are also many other verses that talk about joy. Joy is found in heaven and on this earth. We are to be filled with joy.

So what is joy? It is more than just happiness, it is extreme happiness. It is happiness in spite of what is going on around you. Being filled with God’s joy is being filled with His extreme happiness and pleasure.

You may now be asking how can I be filled with joy when this world is filled with such hate, destruction, pain and suffering. My life is full of hurt and pain. I am struggling to survive, so where can I find joy in all of this?

Elephan struggling

Joy can be found in the Lord and in the salvation that He provides. Take a moment to look at and read 1 Peter 1. After talking about salvation, Peter says that in all this you greatly rejoice, even though you may be going through many trials.

Think about how exciting salvation is. All of your sins have been removed forever! You get to live forever! You have a day that is coming in which there will never be any more sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or death! Jesus is preparing a place for you in heaven so that you may be with Him and the Father for all eternity!

Man with joy

All of these things are wrapped up in salvation, what Jesus did for you on the cross. And one of the greatest things is that this salvation is free. All you have to do is accept it, deny self and follow Jesus. What better news could you ever receive than this?

While the world has no hope and is seeing only death and destruction, you can see life beginning and spreading around the world. God is a God who brings life to people, not death. He wants all to be successful in Jesus and building His kingdom. This is a great joy to have.

Along with what God is providing for you, you can also see when God moves in the hearts of other people and they begin to follow Jesus. All of heaven is rejoicing over the new salvation. You can also rejoice with great joy.

Now as a believer and follower of Jesus, you are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. You have His Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you. If you have His Holy spirit living in you, then there should be some sign of His presence in your life. This is where the fruit of the Spirit comes in.

Cluster of grapes

You should be bearing fruit as to what is inside of you. Your life should be one that is bearing and showing love (self-sacrificing love) and joy. Do not be like many in the church walking around with a serious frown on their face and no joy in life at all.

Allow joy to overflow in your life so much that those around you cannot help but see it and get a taste of it in their own lives. Live in the positive mindset that God has saved you, given you a new life and He is in control. This will show joy to this world.

Thank you for stopping by and reading this. Next week I will be looking at the fruit of the Spirit–peace. Until then, may your life be filled with God’s love and joy.

Danger Of Past Hurt

People get hurt by other people on a regular basis. This is more true with the more friends and family that you have. If you only have a few friends or very little to no family, the chance of getting hurt drops dramatically, but you also have a lot less chance of being loved and loving someone.

In today’s society, many people are blaming their actions on someone else. They look back to a time when they were a child and got hurt by a parent, a sibling, a relative or some other friend. Usually this hurt was something that occurred over and over again, over a longer period of time.

Being hurt by someone is something that will happen. If it has not happened recently, just wait it is coming. The difference is how much that hurt really hurts.

When an enemy does something against a person, most people just accept it, because they half expected it to happen. Very few people expect to be treated nicely by someone who is an enemy. In fact, with most of the world, if they are being treated nicely, chances are they are friends and not enemies.

Treating the enemy nicely is something that God talks about and even commands.

Luke 6:27-36 New International Version (NIV)
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

However, what I want to look at is past hurts and the dangers of those hurts. As I stated above, the cases where someone gets hurt the worst is with a loved one, usually a family member. The one you love is the one that can and usually will hurt you the most. When they do something that hurts, it goes deep into the heart and soul of a person, because they lost trust and love that should have been there.

Many people grow up mad at their parents because of something that they had done wrong to them when they were a young child. Some of those things are very wrong, in both the eyes of the law and the eyes of God. Some of those things were done on purpose, with the purpose to hurt or take advantage of.

Other things were done by mistake and not knowing the best way to do things. Every person has things that they need to learn. In the process of learning those things, often there are many mistakes made. Many parents discipline in a way that was too harsh, causing pain and anger for many years to come. This is part of the learning process. Some parents learn over time how to do things better, while some never seem to learn to do it the best way.

The danger of being hurt comes in how that hurt is held on to. Thousands of family members are fighting with each other their entire lives, because they refuse to forgive each other. I have seen parents go to their death-bed refusing to forgive a child of some wrong done to them many years before. I have also seen children watch their parent die and refusing to forgive that parent of a wrong done when they were young.

Bitterness sets into the heart of a person that has been done wrong to, and he refuses to forgive and move on. Children refuse to talk to parents. Parents refuse to talk to children. Siblings refuse to talk to other siblings. All these things because of a past hurt and the bitterness that has set in.

With bitterness, there is no real joy in life. People look to things or other people to try to bring that joy. Always looking for the next thrill or person to love. All the while refusing to look to God.

Ephesians 4:31 New International Version (NIV)

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

God wants a person to get rid of all bitterness. Many, however, will say that they are not bitter. They say that they just cannot forgive the person and will not deal with them anymore. That is a sign of bitterness and not love.

We are told to forgive:

Ephesians 4:32 New International Version (NIV)

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

God had forgiven you of all the wrongs you have done to Him. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for your sins, so that you could be forgiven. Think about how many times you have hurt God with a sin, both small and large. Yet, God loved you enough to forgive, rather than holding a grudge against you and being bitter.

Hebrews 12:15-17 New International Version (NIV)

15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Do not allow the root of bitterness to grow and manifest itself in your life. Just like a little cancer cell in the body grows to the point of killing a person, so a little bitterness can grow and kill you. It can kill you and others around you. It sets a pattern in your life and the lives you touch, to where others catch that bitter root.

God does not want to see you ate up by bitterness and anger, because of a past hurt. He wants you to work at forgiving and showing His love to the person who has hurt you in the past.

If you have been hurt in the past by someone, give it to God. Ask Him to show you His love for you and His great love for the other person who hurt you.

Ask God to show you how much He has forgiven you, so that you can work at forgiving the other person. Ask God for strength to forgive and move on, getting rid of all bitterness.

The hurt and pain may always be there, but love can override those things. Relationships can be rebuilt in God. As long as you and the other person are alive it is still possible to mend that relationship. There is always a chance to forgive. God will make a way for it to happen if you allow Him to do so.

Psalm 141:5 A Rebuke is…Good

Let a righteous man strike me–that is kindness; let him rebuke me–that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. Psalm 141:5

Very few people like to be criticized or rebuked. Most do not like to be told that they are doing something wrong.

When a person is told that he is doing something wrong, usually he will rise up in defense of himself and fight back. People will go to extreme lengths to justify what they said or did in order to look good. No one wants to look bad or be cut down.

This type of problem even occurs inside the church. Over the years many people have left a church because of a rebuke the pastor or someone else in the church has made. They do not like the rebuke and refuse to stand there and listen to it, so they leave.

David would not run away from a rebuke, especially if it came from a righteous person. At one point some men were cursing David and his men wanted to kill them. David said not to, because maybe God told them to curse him. He accepted the curse.

When a person, who is righteous and living for God, makes a rebuke to you, it can be a good thing. God could be using that person to get your focus back on Him. God will go to extreme measures to bring you closer to Him.

It is easy to allow yourself to slip into some type of sinful habit and not realize the damage it is doing to you and others. When you are in the situation up close, it is difficult to see what is happening. Someone on the outside may be able to see it and should say something.

As a believer, listen to what the other believer has to say. Then seek God about it. If it is true, then seek God’s help to change. If it is not true, ignore it and pray blessings on the other person.

Look at the rebuke from believers as a kind act to attempt to get you closer to God. Do not look at it as an attack on you. God uses others to get your attention.

Do not allow yourself to overcome with sin, because you did not listen to a rebuke from a righteous person.

I pray today that you will hear God speak to you; that God will speak to you through other people; that God will help you know when He is speaking to you through others; and that you will seek to always get closer to God.

Psalm 141:3 Guarding The Mouth

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Most people love to talk, some more than others. With a lot of talking, things can be said that should not be said. Often it is words said in the heat of the moment that people regret or hurt others with. Other times it is planned words that are spoken that can do a lot of damage.

Words of condemnation, hatred, jealousy, and ridicule come out of many mouths. They lash out in order to hurt or damage someone’s reputation. At times they are true statements, while other times they are exaggerated or false. It is often seen in the news of a person who has been falsely accused of some crime, only to learn later that he was innocent. Once the accusation has been started, there is no turning back. His reputation and credibility is destroyed.

Children often grow up with extreme pain in their hearts and minds from words said by parents in anger. It is difficult for people to get past the spoken word.

The mouth is one of the most powerful parts of a person. With the mouth a person can be raised up, and with the mouth a person can be destroyed.

David knew the power of his mouth and words. He also knew that, alone, he could not control his mouth. He needed God’s strength and guard to keep his words right.

Think about the words that have been spoken to or about you that have hurt. Now think about the times you have made statements to someone or about someone that you regretted afterwards.

Allow God to place a guard over your mouth to keep you from saying the wrong things. Fill your heart and life with the things of God. Keep praise and worship in your heart and on your lips at all times. Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth will speak. This will keep the wrong things from coming out of your mouth.

What words are building up in your heart?

What will you allow your mouth to say?

I pray today that you will allow God to guard your mouth; that your heart will be filled with God; that your words will be the words of God; and that you will use your words to build others up and bring them to God, rather than destroy them.

Luke 17:3-4 A Hard Requirement

“So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-4

Jesus knew that at some point someone will do something bad against you. It will be wrong and it will hurt. With that in mind, He set up two requirements in dealing with it.

The first is to rebuke the person. This is just a simple letting them know that they did something wrong against you. It is not bringing down curses upon them or condemning them.

There are many times a person can hurt someone without even realizing they did so. You have a choice, you can ignore it and forgive them without ever saying anything; or you can let them know what happened.

Once you have let them know the problem, if they are sorry for what they did, Jesus had the second requirement–to forgive them. This is to put the sin and hurt into the past.

Not only are you to forgive that person that time, but even if he sins against you seven times in a day and each time repents, you must still forgive him.

For many people, this is the hardest part. Most people want revenge against the person. They want the person to be in trouble and pay for what he did.

You must remember what Jesus has done for you. How many times have you sinned against God? How many times have you repented of a sin? How many times have you repeated that sin and then repented again? Each time you repented, God has forgiven you.

Your sins deserved the death sentence on your life. Yet, God in His great love and mercy has forgiven you through Jesus. You need to be willing to pass this love and mercy on to others when they repent. You must be willing to forgive others when they sin against you.

You are not above God, so if God can forgive you, you must forgive others. It will not always be easy, but with God’s Spirit and strength, you can do it.

I pray today that God will help you to love others; that God will help you to forgive those who harm you; that you will realize what Jesus has done for you; and that you will represent Jesus to others.