This week's fruit is joy. I've been thinking about the topic all week and I want to say joy is deep and wide and I am only going to skim the surface of it with what I've been thinking about.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The Bible makes it pretty clear that joy is an essential to a successful walk in faith. People want to know what God's will is it's pretty simple: be joyful ALWAYS, pray continually, always give thanks! Yikes, not so easy is it? That is where the Holy Spirit comes in again. As I said last week, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to do what He is more than willing to do. Our flesh, as I experienced last week, wants nothing to do with God's way. It wants to rebel and say no. Joy in whatever circumstance you face I would surmise is impossible if you are not receiving it through the Holy Spirit. We don't have to be joyful at the circumstance, but joy is what gets us through the circumstance. Perhaps joy is the light that bring us through the darkness. My former Pastor Shane Holden said, "No matter how bad things get in this life, you always know that when this life is over we are going to heaven and then things don't look so bad." James said consider is pure joy because of what it will produce. Jesus, "endured the cross because of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2)." He is our example of how to be joyful and we can only learn this kind of joy by fixing our eyes in Him.
The world views faith as a crutch for weak-minded people. They just don't see or understand, how tough it actually is to walk in God's way. He asks us to do some pretty hard things but guess what, He doesn't expect or ask us to do it on our own. Instead, He asks us to surrender to Him and allow Him to work and move through us to do the impossible. So this week work on inviting the Holy Spirit to bring joy into your life ~ no matter what circumstance you find yourself in at this moment in time.
Okay, so I said joy is complicated and deep. This is just one tiny facet of joy. I am passing along a sermon which hits it from a completely different angle but I personally found it very informative in understanding what joy actually is:
"Advent Joy" by Elliot Pollasch 11/30/08
In addition I blogged about this topic a couple weeks back: Joy
Finally, John Eldredge addresses joy a lot in his book Walking with God, so that's another place to begin diving deeper.
Oh, and you can always read the Bible: there are 248 verses containing the word joy!
So don't forget to write in your journal about where you are with the concept of joy, so you can look back over the upcoming weeks to see what you've learned.