Category Archives: joy fruit

Patience

Joy to Peace

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

 Have you noticed as we have reflected on joy for the last forty days that the “joy”  that manifests itself as a fruit of the spirit is a kind of joy that differs from the world’s version of joy?

One interesting thing about scripture is that it always sets our expectations for what a word means in the world’s vernacular to the side and invites us to experience a newer and deeper meaning.

Just as many in the world derive great pleasure from eating and drinking, we see that this variety of “joy” in the world is really just self-indulgence and produces no real benefit to our lives or to the lives of others.  It’s taking pleasure where it can be found, acknowledging that tomorrow we may pay a price.

But when we pursue the fruits of the spirit and re-define what our lives should be focused on, we find ourselves making different choices and walking down paths that might not make sense to other people.  We may go against the grain and we might not always even know the reason why.  We may opt for the more difficult choice-one littered with obstacles-because we feel God’s leading.

Have you ever had a time when you KNEW for sure you were at the center of God’s will?  What joy did you possess at that moment?  Imagine having that joy daily.  It’s possible when we set aside the world’s definitions of success and happiness and inviite God into our daily choices.

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand.”

Psalm 84:10

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Joy In Experiencing Today

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord it shall rejoice in His salvation.  Psalm 35:9

 Have you smiled yet today?

Or are you a bit overwhelmed by everything you haven’t done yet?

Have you procrastinated away the day?

Or maybe it’s early in the morning when you are reading this.  Do you look forward to the rest of today with hopeful anticipation of both receiving and passing along God’s blessings?

Maybe it’s late at night when you are reading this and you are still awake because you are consumed with worry and anxiety.

Can you take a moment to rejoice in the now of your existence?

Can you appreciate the reality of your salvation this minute and consciously ask God to show you all the blessing you have?

Think of a “slide show” with pictures of everything that represents your blessings.  Run through the slide show in your mind.  Maybe you can reflect back on a time when He drew you out of a deep pit or elevated you beyond where you thought you “deserved” to be.

Focusing on current blessings and maximizing the “now” of what we can do to fully praise and serve Him will add to your spiritual joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

What’s Real Joy?

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Isaiah 9:2

This blog has shied away from my personal stories.  I have shared some minor details here and there, but I did not want this blog to become about “me” because I want it to be about “Him.”

However, yesterday was my birthday and I found myself writing this instead of my “usual” blog post here.

It reminds me of the transitory nature of human or experience-based joy.

The deeper we go with God, the nature of our joy changes.

So, here’s what I wrote yesterday!

About  fourteen-years ago tonight I turned thirty.

In Paris.

Mais oui.

This was the restaurant.  

Amazing time.

I have the little nosegay bouquet I got that night from the waiter in a vase on my fireplace along with other meaningful dried bouquets.

The vase they are in is one I got from my dad.

It’s one of the few gifts he ever actually shopped for himself so it’s meaningful.

Understanding the never-ending needs of daughters, no matter how old they get, he usually just gave me money or Ann Taylor gift certificates.  I was always appreciative.

Then one day, a few years after Paris, he helped me move as a newly single girl into the first house I ever owned by myself.  His job was to transport my CLOTHES from point A to point B.  He had a Ford Expedition at the time that was packed with nary an inch to spare with many a garment purchased with said gift certificates and at that time he said he was NEVER giving me another one.

The vase followed soon after as a sort of house warming gift.

More years passed and at one point the vase contained my dried bouquet from my second marriage, with the Paris nosegay added.

More years passed after Paris.

In 2010, I spent my birthday in Arcadia, Florida at a hospice house.

My dad was there after a long fight with cancer.

The sweet nurses had heard me say I liked red velvet cake a few days before and one of them baked one from scratch.  My dad had said he liked German Chocolate, so another nurse baked one from scratch. They brought them in with candles and sang to me.  So we ate homemade cake and watched videos he’d had made of slide photographs from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Just he and I and some cake and videos of him as young man with the world on a string.

And then I got a flower bouquet my husband had sent.

He’d remained at home to take care of my daughter.

I left the bouquet in my dad’s hospice room.

It was an amazingly hearty bouquet.

It was by his bed, still lovely,  when he passed away ten days later-March 31, 2010-Good Friday.

I took a flower from it when I left the hospice house for the last time with his things.

Today, my 30th in Paris seems like a lifetime ago.

A long way from Paris, but closer to home and wealthier in spiritual joy.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Diminished Joy: Your Life And People In It

…no one will take away your joy…

John 16:22 

No one can take your joy.

No circumstance can take your joy.

Through the Holy Spirit, we have a permanent source of joy rooted in our souls.

What can happen, however (and it often does) is something happens that interferes with our plans, expectations or desires.  And we respond to that by reaching down within our souls and pulling our joy fruit out of our souls by the roots and handing it to the person who has upset us.

So if you blast your horn and wave in a special way to the driver who cuts you off in traffic, you’ve given your joy to them.

If you seek to retaliate against the person at the office who is undermining your job security, you’ve given your joy to them.

If you yell and scream at your child, you’ve given your joy to them.

And the thing that makes this even more wasteful is that the people upsetting you have not asked for your joy.  They don’t really want it.  They are just behaving badly.

Likewise, if the pipe bursts and you have to pay the plumber weekend rates to fix it, neither the pipe nor the plumber have conspired to steal your joy.  Why would you hand it over?

Of course after any “melt-down” you may have, your supply of joy-fruit may be restored as you repent of the behavior, pray for more wisdom the next time and seek to repair any damage your lack of joy has caused to others.  But how much better to just retain your joy in the first place.

One thing that separates Christ’s people from others in how they respond to certain situations.  Whereas someone without Christ might respond with anger, hostility, or a “why me” Christians have the power to produce better responses that make difficulties more manageable.  If you demonstrate what spiritual joy looks like to the world, your life will be set apart and attractive to others.

You probably have many circumstances right now that you consider “problems.”  If you spend too long dwelling on them, your joy may diminish.  But recognize that for most people, your problems do not disappear overnight  Your life circumstances will never be perfect and you may find that as one problem is solved, another arises.

There will not be life-altering circumstances that will immediately fix all of our problems.

If we wait for perfect life circumstances to cultivate joy in our lives, we will most likely never find it.

 

peace

Joy in the Fortress

But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.

Psalm 5:11

The source of our joy is the Holy Spirit.

Le’s not fall into the trap of thinking that joy comes from any THING or any PERSON.

Things and people are CREATED!  Our joy comes from the creator!

When you feel as if things are closing in around you, or people are working against you, take active refuge in God.

By active refuge I mean imagining yourself as living behind a fortress where nothing can reach you.    Arrows and ammunition bounce off of the thick walls protecting you.

Within the fortress walls, you are safe and protected and joyful, even in the midst of attack.  You are conscious of the dangerous conditions outside of your fortress, but you are grateful to be safe inside.

Perhaps others are inside the fortress with you and are also safe and protected.  You can imagine celebrating with them inside, knowing you are impervious to harm.

Does this mean we hide from the reality of trouble in our own lives and imagine away our fears?

No.

But it does mean that we know that when we are attacked we have somewhere to go, and that inside our place of refuge is joy, no matter what happens!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Fruit of the Spirit

Stay Plugged In to the Source of Joy

One thing that happened during Tropical Storm Sandy was widespread power-outages.  We’ve become so dependent on our smart devices to communicate that people were desperately searching for functioning outlets so that they could plug in their phones and let their friends and family know that they were safe and sound.

Imagine the frustration of knowing that people were anxious to hear from you and worried about you and you are unable to contact them. Your communication channel was dead.

There were many examples of good Samaritans with power who stretched long extension cords out of their homes so that people could charge their phones and communicate.  But the batteries have limited life and whatever power they have is drained pretty rapidly.  There is always a need to charge them back up;

The same is true with our spiritual joy.

If we are spending time in God’s word and praying each day, our battery can stay charged.  Even if we miss a day or two, we have enough of a power reserve to keep going.  However, if we allow ourselves to become too depleted, when testing times come, we find ourselves running out of power and unable to tap into the source of joy.  This lack of joy actually makes us weaker during trials.

We are told in Nehemiah that “the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” (Neh. 8:10).  Have you ever thought of you joy in the Lord as a source of strength?  Perhaps you though the joy of the Lord produced contentment and patience, but did you ever think of it as something that strengthens us?

So consistently maintaining a live wire to God enables us to develop a deep sense of spiritual joy which strengthens us when we encounter problems and difficulties.

Stay plugged in!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

peace

The “Why” For Joy

 

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

Joy-Filled People See the Big Picture

If Christ had not had “the big picture” of what He was accomplishing for the world on the cross, would He have still gone?  The “big picture” was joy at the right hand of God!

When setting our vision on something we wish to develop in our lives, it helps to know the reason we want to develop it. If we don’t have a heart-felt motivation, we might flag and faint in our efforts, rather than derive joy from them.

If we want to develop a God-given talent in order to provide for our families, one of our “why’s” might be our children.  If we want to donate time to an organization, our “why” for wanting to do it might be what the organization provided to YOU in a time of need.

The “why” for our joy is in large part because God’s anger against us has been turned to loving acceptance through Christ’s death.  Christ is the source of our salvation.  Through our salvation we have cause for spiritual joy.

We witness to others through our joy in living and gratitude for our material and spiritual gifts.  If we are grumpy and mean-spirited, God is not glorified.

Visualize being part of a cycle that is plugged into a source for joy.  The source is salvation through faith in Christ.  The Holy Spirit gives us the soil, seeds and nutrients.  It’s up to us to tend to the fruit by pulling out the weeds of negativity and nourishing the fruit through applying the Word to our lives daily.  It’s also our responsibility to harvest the fruit.  If we make a practice of gratitude daily (especially when gratitude comes easy), we’ll find that there is a surplus of joy to draw from during difficulty-sort of like setting savings aside for a rainy day.

“With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation…”  Isaiah 12:4.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Forward Looking Statements Anticipating Joy

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

If you’ve ever read a company’s annual report, there is a probably a section in it about what the company intends to do in the future and the anticipated outcome of those actions.  If the company sells stock, it has to be careful about those kinds of statements regarding the future.  They can deceive people.

This is because companies operate in the real world, and although everyone has the best of intentions, things happen, including natural disasters, war, fraud, economic conditions and disrupted supply chains.

Anytime you see words such as anticipation, estimates, plans, predicts or believes, those are statements that look forward.   Usually, companies base projections about the future on what’s happened historically, however, history does not guarantee future results will be the same.  Obviously, companies want to convey the image of a future that looks hopeful and lucrative not shaky and uncertain.

Think about companies that have failed financially that were once giants in their industry.

We know that just because people predict growth and stability doesn’t in any way assure it.

When human beings make most statements about what will happen in the future, they may be wrong.

However, Jesus saw the future as He hung on the cross-and somewhere He saw joy.  It was just in front of Him.  He knew it was there.

As Christians, we can all make forward-looking statements about eternal outcomes because we know that the bible is true and can be counted on as our guide to life.

The Holy Spirit plants in all believers the seed of joy, and as you read right now it grows in you.  It becomes stronger every day, more deeply rooted, bright and brilliant.

You lack nothing that you need, now or for eternity.

Look forward to joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Consequences of a Bad Attitude

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you],
Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things; and He will put a yoke of iron upon your neck until He has destroyed you.

Deuteronomy 28: 47-48

Yesterday we looked at the importance of our attitude as we worship God, serve others and live our lives.

If we are serving with gratitude in our minds and hearts, out of gratitude for all God has done for us, we will develop abundant spiritual joy.

However, if we act in order to appear to be a “good person” or out of robotic habit, we risk not only a lack of spiritual joy, but also of falling into a cycle that enslaves us in negative consequences.

It’s sometimes a difficult thing to consider our true motivations for our actions.  It’s also intimidating to know that God truly sees into our HEARTS when we are carrying out our service to others, and, indeed, just living our lives.  Take a moment to contemplate this proverb:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Imagine all the time we spend cultivating outward appearance.  We want to present a positive picture in the world.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this.  However, I think of all the days when I have dressed nicely and put my best outward self forward when I’ve felt TERRIBLE on the inside.  Maybe no one saw or detected it.  Many of us are good at hiding things.

But we can’t hide from God how we are doing on the inside…in our HEARTS!  No amount of cosmetic, money or respect can cover our hearts.   They are BARE before Him.

Heart disease is often called a silent killer because we can’t see what’s going on within the human heart without medical testing.  The first indicator we often have that someone has heart problems is that they DIE!  Someone in my life who was extraordinarily physically fit, active and outwardly healthy was the victim of just such an outcome.

Applied to deepest reaches of our spiritual hearts, we may be fooling ourselves, thinking it’s OK because we “look good” and are doing all the “right” things.  We may not be doing anything the world can identify as sin.  But in our hearts we feel bitter, angry and ungrateful.

Do you feel that way right now?

Does this mean you are on the way to slavery and chains?

And it sounds like it requires superhuman effort to fix our heart problems!

It’s my belief that it doesn’t.

All it takes is honesty before God.  Tell Him you want your heart to be in your actions and trust Him to do it.

And it doesn’t mean that you STOP doing things like going to church, reading scripture, serving God and others until you “feel” like doing it again.  If we did that, many of us would never leave our beds, let alone our homes!

However, make it a practice to look at your heart’s motives as you live your life. Know why you are doing the things you are doing.  Motives make a difference.

God’s moving us to a place where our life is in harmony with carrying out His will.  As your heart beats in your chest, your SPIRIT prompts you to live with gratitude and in a way that glorifies God-with spiritual joy!

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:30

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Joy Through An Understanding Heart

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8

As we’ve walked through these verses in James and applied them to the concept of cultivating the fruit of spiritual joy, we’ve reached seen that trial should bring joy to the believer.

We’ve also seen how this is counter-intuitive to the word’s thinking about trials, and that in order for us to “bridge the gap” we need to ask God to transform our vision of trials so that we can use them to yield a harvest of spiritual joy.  To do this, we need wisdom.  The acquisition of this wisdom comes only comes through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit when we ask God for it, so that we receive spiritual joy in the trial.  We then must BELIEVE we will receive the wisdom to alter our perception and begin ACTING as though we have already received it!

So once you release the prayer for God to give you the wisdom to gain spiritual joy through a trial, know you’ve got it already!

Does this seem delusional?

Does this mean I plaster on a smile and “act happy?”

No.

But it does require an open mind and more importantly an open heart.

Our human brain generally wants logical proof, yet our heart yearns to overcome our brain and believe God’s promises.   If we cannot wrap our brain around the notion that God can bring deep and lasting joy through a difficult trial, we exhibit DOUBT and unbelief.  Doubt and unbelief block us from receiving the wisdom and spiritual joy.  James tells us in verses 6 and 7 that “when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

How much clearer can it be?

If you are not asking without the full expectation of receiving, you are asking in the wrong way!

Your unbelief and doubt put you in an inflatable inner tube in the midst of a stormy seas.  You stand no chance.

When you ask with certainty, you calm the waters and put yourself on the strongest of naval ships.

Imagine going up to a total stranger in a coffee shop and asking him or her to wire all their money into your bank account.  You’d probably never agree to do such a silly experiment, but if you did, you certainly would not ask the person with any expectation they’d do it.  Many of us (myself included) approach God with a similar attitude…with little or no expectation or faith.

Let your heart overcome your head when you ask God for His wisdom to be able to derive spiritual joy from your trial.

Ask with full confidence in the One you are asking.

 “they might…
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Isaiah 6:10

All the Best in 2013,

Julie