Fruits of the Spirit: JOY

There are many people I know who always seem to be so joyful in life. They are the kind of people that you look at, and you just feel better after seeing them. However, most people struggle with living a life full of joy because of the challenges and hardships they might face.

Joy is a difficult topic for me to write about, honestly. Mostly because I struggle to live joyfully every day, and I am still in the process of trying to figure out how to do so. However, I think it is important to know what joy is and how we can find joy.

WHAT IS JOY:

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. – John 16:22-24

Joy is a fruit that is given by God to us through the Holy Spirit. It is one in which we might often have to ask God for. Just as we might struggle to love others and have patience with others, we can struggle to have joy in our lives. But our joy cannot be centered on the circumstances we are in because our life circumstances are not always happy ones. Instead, our joy must be centered on the One who gives us joy.

Joy is more of an outlook on life rather than a feeling. Joy typically comes from us trusting God’s will and being contempt with where He has placed us right now in our life. However, we have to realize that the devil can try and take away our joy from us as well.

HOW CAN OUR JOY BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

The devil does not want us to be contempt in this life. He doesn’t want us to trust God so easily and because of that, the devil will try and steal our joy from us in life. He uses different tricks and tools so that we do not live a life full of joy, one of those being comparison.

Each one should test his own work. Then he will have reason to boast in himself alone, and not in someone else. For each one should carry his own load. – Galatians 6:4-5

When we start to compare ourselves to those around us, whether that is through comparing our timelines, our accomplishments, or our outside appearance, we start to forget WHO God created each of us to be and WHAT plan God has for each of us.

When we come across those thoughts of comparison, we have to switch our mindset quickly. We have to stop with the comparison and instead, go back to the truth that God has given us. If we start to get into these tracks of comparison often and struggle with changing our mindset, it is important to acknowledge what is triggering you to do so. Maybe, it’s spending too much time on social media or watching movies that make your life look less than what it truly is. Sometimes, we have to limit our eyes and ears to those things of this world and take the time to refocus our attention back to Christ.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

HOW DO WE CHOOSE TO LIVE WITH JOY:

As I stated previously, joy is a fruit that is given by God through the Holy Spirit. And many times in our life, we have to pray to God and ask Him to give us joy in those difficult seasons where it is hard to find it. We have to also acknowledge that joy and sorrow can coexist in our lives.

In the book of Psalm, David prays to God about the challenges he was facing during his life. While much of Psalm talks about the character and the goodness of God, that doesn’t mean David did not face trials or struggles, like you and me. However, in his struggles, David was able to speak with God about them and continued to praise God for His power and His glory.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:9-11

David knew that his joy could only come from God. He knew that nothing on this earth would fill his soul the way God could. And even when he was facing difficult seasons of his life, David kept focusing his heart and his eyes on God. He was able to be in the presence of God and find joy right there.

Jesus also focused His heart on the presence of God when He faced times of sorry. Jesus was a man full of joy and peace, but He also experienced sadness and pain in His life.

Jesus not only endured the cross for us so that we could experience joy in this life, but He also showed us what it is like to live with joy and sorrow at the same time.

There were times where He knew His friends would betray Him, and people would mock Him, but He continued to live a joyful life. He wept with people, and He felt many feelings that we feel. Yet, He was able to still find joy by spending time with God and spending time with a community of believers around Him. Jesus also allows us to experience that joy as well.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus endured the cross so that our sin would be defeated and that we could eventually spend eternal life joyfully with Him. But we are still able to find joy in this lifetime too. When we start looking to Jesus and putting our trust in Him, we can experience joy during the difficult circumstances we might face. We can continue to be grateful for all the many blessings God has given us, no matter how big or how small.

There will be seasons where it is difficult to find joy in your everyday life. But by remembering that God loves us, gives us everything we need, and has a greater plan for our lives than we could ever imagine, we can continue to experience joy through Him wherever we are.

With love,

Claire

Fruits Of The Spirit: LOVE

I have recently been learning more about the fruits of the spirit, individually and collectively. What each one means, what it really looks like to bear each of them, and what the Bible says about each of them. So, I decided I would start a blog series on them! I’ll be highlighting one of the fruits every week and sharing some concepts that I have learned about them. To start us off, today we are going to focus on LOVE.


The Bible is full of verses about love: how God loves us, how God’s people love Him, and how we are to love each other. But, before we talk about how to love others, I think we need to understand what exactly love is.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

WHAT IS LOVE:

  1. Love is patient and kind – We’ll focus a lot more on patience in the upcoming weeks, but here we understand that when we love others, we are patient with them. We do not rush their actions or their words, and we are kind to them, as we hope they will be kind to us too.
  2. Love does not envy or boast – Love is not prideful. Love is humbling ourselves and boasting in the love of God, not the love of ourselves.
  3. Love is not arrogant or rude – Love has much to do with our actions but it also has to do with the words we use. In order to love ourselves and others, we have to use gentle and kind words, as well as loving others with our actions too.
  4. Love does not insist on its own way – Love is not selfish. It’s actually the complete opposite, selfless. When we look at Jesus, we can start to see how He loved. A major way He loved others was by helping and serving others.
  5. Love is not irritable or resentful – Love is not frustrated, annoyed, or irritated. Are we allowed to be upset about a situation? Yes. But we still have to respond in a loving manner and forgive those around us.
  6. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing and rejoices with the truth- Love does not like anything evil or wicked. Love is a way of obeying God and respecting those around us.
  7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things – Love is having faith and hope that God is working everything out for our good. It is carrying each other’s burdens and riding the rollercoaster of life with others.

HOW DOES GOD LOVE US:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17

In the first two chapters of Genesis, it talks about a time before sin came into the world. How everything was good and perfect. However, once Adam and Eve ate the fruit that they were told not to, sin came into the world. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God, God still loved His people that He created. He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He gave us the gift of salvation. He even gave us free will to make our own choices. God shows His love for us in the Bible multiple times. 

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8

HOW ARE WE CALLED TO LOVE OTHERS:

The Bible talks much about how we are to love others, but I want to focus on two different stories that capture the way we are to love.

In the book of Genesis, we are told that God created man in His own image. He placed Adam in the garden, and God provided Adam with everything he needed including food and water. Even with all that God had given Adam, God still said “it is not good for man to be alone”. So, God took a rib from Adam and formed it into a woman.

And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed. – Genesis 2:25

Adam and Eve stood together not ashamed of one another and completely accepting of each another. To God, they were perfect because they had no sin in them. There was no evil and it was good. However, once they ate from the fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and covered themselves with fig leaves.

Here’s the thing though. Adam and Eve accepted one another for who they truly were in the beginning. They were totally vulnerable with each other, yet they did not ask God “can you give me someone else to be with?” No, they stood together as one flesh and truly accepted each other for who God created them to be.

We also can see how to love others based on how Jesus loved the people around Him. Jesus served people. He healed people. He chose to fellowship with those around Him. He was fully accepting of the people He met and came to die for sinners, not for perfect and polished people.

I think in life we want loving people to be easy. We have expectations of people, and we want them to cooperate with us so that we don’t have to worry about love. We don’t have to add that to the stress list. I think when we have issues loving others, we have issues with accepting others as they truly are.

God loves us exactly the way we are. He just does not love our sin. We have to do the same for those we come in contact with. 

There are totally going to be times in your life where you will not get along with others. But it’s not that you hate the person. You just hate their sin. You hate the cruel thing they did to you. You hate the gossip that they shared about you. You hate their sin. God tells us to love people, and we can still love people while hating their sin.

Jesus came to show us how to restore not only our relationship with God but also how to restore our relationships with each other. We are still able to fully know and deeply love each other. But, that starts with being vulnerable and accepting one another for who they truly are. Who God made them to be. We also have to stop hiding who we truly are and stop being ashamed of the body, the mind, and the personality that God gave each of us.

God perfectly designed you to be you. He loves you exactly the way you are. We are all messy people. We all sin and fall short, but let’s start loving each other and accepting each other for who God created us to be, inside and out. 

With love,

Claire Reed

Purposefully Equipped

In our culture, I think we have a lot of ways to compare ourselves to one another. We have magazines, tv shows, social media, books, etc. to where comparison can come in and steal our joy. This comparison can cause us to question our physical appearance, our unique personalities, our strengths, and our skills.

I think it can be easy as Christians to fall into this thinking of “God’s going to pick someone else to do this task because they will be more obedient and more skillful than me”. Comparison can come in and not only steal our confidence, but it can also slowly destroy our perspective of God’s character and power.

I was reading about Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis. Normally, when I think of Abraham, I think of how God used him in amazing ways. Abraham was obedient towards God when asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God also used him to be a father of many nations and be a leader to the people.

But, I want to focus on Abraham’s life before all of these things happened. Specifically, I want to focus on Abram and Sarai’s story.

Before the Lord changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, they were called Abram and Sarai.

The Lord promised Abram that he would have a son. However, Sarai, Abram’s wife had not borne any children so far after God spoke with Abram. Sarai wanted Abram to be able to have a son and decided on a plan of doing so. She asked Abram to take her servant, Hagar so that she could give Abram a son and fulfill God’s covenant. Abram did exactly what Sarai had asked of him.

After Hagar bore a son, the Lord spoke to Abram again. The Lord explained that Sarai would bear a child. (The Lord also gave Abram and Sarai new names at this point.) This time, Abraham doubted God because he did not believe Sarah would be able to bear a child at her age. However, the Lord confirmed to him again that she would bear a child and they were to name him Isaac.

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” – Genesis 15:4

After Sarah overheard the Lord speaking to Abraham, she laughed and doubted God’s power. God then reminded both of them of His power and His promise that He would make. After this reminder, Abraham and Sarah decided to have full faith in God and as always, God kept His promise.

Sarah and Abraham doubted the Lord at first. Because of how old Sarah was at the time, it scientifically would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Sarah to be able to have a child. However, the Lord promised He would make a way.

By not trusting in the Lord’s plan, Abraham decided to take control of the situation to have a son with Hagar. However, even though Abraham and Sarah doubted the Lord, God still appointed this family to make nations of the world. They both went on to fully trusting and having faith in God because they knew how great and mighty He truly is.

God chooses people for a purpose. He equips the called. If God wants to use you in some way, He is going to do just so. He will forgive you when you doubt Him and still work in you to fulfill His great plan.

You are on this earth for a reason. God has called you and chose you to fulfill a unique purpose.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. – John 15:16

With love,

Claire

Be Still

I think a lot of us probably struggle with contentment in some areas of our lives. We always want more than what we already have. We want to have all these things that we think will make us happy: good grades, a fancy car, a fancy house, a perfect partner, etc.

But God has us where we are for a purpose and a plan. He wants us to be content with where we are and just be still.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

See, this verse can sometimes be taken in the context of “oh, I just need to wait on God and not do anything.” But when we aren’t growing closer to God, we are moving farther away. We live in a broken sinful world, and even if we aren’t intentionally thinking about it, the more we stray away from God, the more we are moving closer to sin.

To be still means to make the most of where you are, whether that’s physically where you are located in the world, or just the people you hang around with.

Think about Paul. When he was sitting in prison for two years, he wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He was stuck in a jail cell, yet he made the most of his time by writing these books that give us so much wisdom of how to live a Christ-like life.

It’s easy for us to fall into issues with contentment. I mean we are human and we’ve lived in this world for so long now, a world that tells us that we need all the new and best things to be happy. However, Solomon would totally disagree with that. King Solomon was a man that had everything he ever wanted, but he still was not completely satisfied by any of it. It still wasn’t enough for him.

So what is enough for us? Does the cycle of wanting more and more ever come to an end?

We have to realize that Christ is our completer, and no one else is. But when it comes to contentment, we normally are wanting things to temporarily feel us up. We are like Solomon, wanting all the things this earth can give us, yet when we have them, we still aren’t full.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

However, we also have to be mindful of Christ and where he fits on our priority list. As much as I wish that Christ was at the top of my priority list, I prioritize my time with friends and school much more than I do spending time with Christ. However, even spending all that time with friends and trying to do incredible in my classes are just temporary things that will make me feel great. But I’ll always want more.

Jesus completes us. These other things are great and all but they are just temporary things at the end of the day. What matters is how we spend our time on this Earth because our time here is just a tiny dot on a line that goes on forever. It’s important to make the most of it by being intentional with others and having a kingdom mindset in whatever situation you are in. And sharing that wisdom with friends, family, and strangers.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

It’s not an overnight ordeal, but I believe we can eventually come to the point where we are so content in our relationship with Christ and His plan for us, that no earthly things will matter to us as much as He does.

I pray whatever you are facing today that God will give you a sense of peace and strength to help you through this season of life. Be still and know that our God is powerful and faithful.

With love,

Claire