Read: Galatians 5: 9-15 (for the sake of completing Galatians) 16-26 (our focus today)
Remember: The joy of Christ becomes our joy.
Reflect: Our reading today includes the list of the fruits of the Spirit , joy being the second one listed. The" fruit of the Spirit" is what happens when the Holy Spirit indwells a believer. The "fruit" is the product of the Holy Spirit's cultivation of character in a heart (Yes, I googled that). Therefore, it's not up to us or our circumstances to attain joy on our own. Try as we may, we cannot get joy or any of the other fruits of the Spirit without His help. They are GIFTS and If we want these fruits to grow in us, we must JOIN our lives to Him. We must get to KNOW Him and LOVE Him.
We all have struggles, disappointments, and heartbreaks that seem to suck the life out of our joy. This is why it's crucial we ground our joy in Christ and not relationships, jobs, health, achievements, or life circumstances . All of those things are fluid- they seem fluctuate sometimes even moment by moment. The good news is Christ is permanent. He is our Rock. He is the same each and every moment. I read the following in a devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministry and love how it explains joy. "Holy joy can give us the courage to smile when our hearts are broken, pushes us to persevere when we feel like quitting, fuels us to stand strong in faith when hope wavers, and equips us to trust He can always bring beauty from brokenness. Joy from Christ is life giving.
Rest: Paul said, "the flesh sets it's desires against the Spirit." Ladies, don't you believe the Spirit desires for us to live with joy on a daily basis? Isn't there an abundance of reasons to celebrate in each and every one of the days God has given us? The deeds of the flesh were identified clearly in our Galatians reading. Any and all of them will choke out our joy. But, my flesh can lead me to justify other negative aspects of my character that also cause me NOT to do the things that I want to do...like celebrate with true joy each day. Before going any further in this week's study, let's name the areas of life where joy is not flowing freely. Is is work? Marriage? Mothering? Is it stress? Anxiety? Unforgiveness? Like Mother Teresa said, "When I see someone sad, I always thinks she is refusing something to Jesus." Ouch! What are we refusing to Jesus today? Let's name it and ask Him to help us release our grip.
Heavenly Father, We desperately seek joy but are so easily swayed by the worldly places to find it. Give us eyes to see the difference in joy found in You and fleeting happiness we find in people and things . Lord, some of us have serious struggles right now that have stolen our joy right out from underneath us . Help each one of us to identify where joy is not freely flowing in our lives. Please do not let the sadness or hardships take over our lives. Let us see Your available joy for each new day .We pray our struggles will lead directly to You who heals and fills us. We pray for these fruits of the Spirit to be cultivated in our character. May the fragrance of these fruits permeate our beings and be a testimony to You for all to see. Amen.