Fruit 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

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

Renewed Day By Day

Just wanted to share some thoughts with you.

This summer has been a rewarding, yet challenging season in my life. Some new things have happened. Some old things remain. But most of all, I’m trying my best to learn, grow, and live for Christ more and more each day.

Sometimes, a slow season is needed, so you can reset certain things or areas in your life. You get to take time to reflect on your life: what’s going right, and what needs to change.

Change can be good. It can also be scary. But I’m learning to start thinking about change as an adventure. This is just a new journey and a new adventure about to happen.

I’m not a perfect person. Not even close to it. There are many days when I feel so unworthy of God’s love for me. I’ve always tried to do the right thing in life. However, I have not always made the right decisions. I fall short.

But, God is so beautiful and lovely. He gives us this amazing thing called grace. He loves us even when we are broken, hurt, tired, weak, and unloveable. He still wants you. He’s still waiting to hear from you.

I’ve learn that many things in life are not certain. Almost everything. You don’t know how long you have to live on this Earth. Life may not turn out the way you thought. But in everything, there is a season and God is always there.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The Bible tells us that our inner self is being renewed day by day. Even if you cannot see the progress you are making, you are being renewed every day. What a beautiful thing. Every day is a new day to refresh and start again. God knows that we are not perfect. But it’s because of our brokenness that we need a Savior to save us. And He does just that.

Don’t ponder too much on your past and the mistakes you’ve made. Don’t worry too much about the future and where life is going to take you. Instead, focus on the present. The right now. Focus on the beauty of just living in the moment full of gratitude.

To anyone reading this, I pray that whatever stage of life you are in right now, whatever seems frustrating or uncertain, that you can remember it will get better. God is renewing us day by day. We are continuing to grow more and more and what a beautiful way to do so. With Him.

Life is really beautiful, even when our earthly world is broken and evil. Sometimes, we have to do a little more than just seeing with our physical eyes to really see the beauty of God and His creation.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau

With love,

Claire

Power of the Holy Spirit

This morning, I woke up feeling like I needed to just go get some fresh air and read a good book. So, I grabbed a book, got some coffee, and went to a nice grassy area by the reservoir. I laid out a blanket on the ground, took my chacos off, and thought to myself “wow, this is so nice and calm”. Barely anyone was there.

I opened my book and read about a page and a half when I heard a loud tractor near me. I thought to myself “hmm that sounds pretty close”. I stood up, and the tractor was about 8 feet away from me and moving right towards me.

Quickly, I grabbed my things and headed back to the car, trying not to get run over or cause a scene with the tractor man. I got in my car and immediately, I was a little annoyed. I thought “man, no one is even here. it’s so nice and peaceful here. I just want to read my book and get a change of scenery.”

After a few seconds, I looked down at the tractor man, and I just started laughing in my car. I wasn’t exactly sure why at that moment I was laughing, but I think I just thought the whole situation was funny. I felt like everything was nice, peaceful, and chill when I was laying down. Then, a tractor comes along and for a hot minute, he “ruined” the moment. I say “ruined” because the tractor man didn’t really ruin anything.

I still had my book and was able to read it in my car. I still got a change of scenery and some fresh air, while sitting in the back of my car with the hatchback open. Life was still peaceful, nice, and chill. It was just different than what I expected.

I think that’s what is kind of humorous about life. We go through it with all these expectations and plans. Sometimes, those plans can get canceled or delayed, which can be really upsetting.

But sometimes, they can still happen, and you can find some joy in those moments.

A good chunk of the time, we can be tempted to fall into a mood when things don’t go the way we plan. But, I think it’s important to realize that even when the circumstances look different than you planned, you are still able to have joy and gratitude in your heart. You are still able to focus on the good.

Why is that? Because if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you.

I think in the world, we tend to forget about the power of the Holy Spirit, that literally lives INSIDE of you. It’s always there.

In Max Lucado’s book, Unshakable Hope, he focuses on the power of the Holy Spirit in a few chapters. He made this one statement that still blows my mind every time I read it:

“The Holy Spirit is central to the life of the Christian. Everything that happens from the book of Acts to the end of the book of Revelation is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ.”

How cool is that? From Acts to Revelation. That’s a good chunk of the Bible (and most of the New Testament).

The Spirit lived in the disciples and gave them the strength to do more work for God’s kingdom during that time. The Spirit also allowed them to not only think the way that God thinks but also love others the way God loves. And the Spirit can do the same for you and me.

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

The Spirit is also able to give us fruits and gifts. Since we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, we are able to be joyful, patient, kind, and faithful. We are able to love like Jesus and see things the way He sees things. Jesus tells us to ask and we will receive it.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

Now, just like fruit on a tree, it takes time for it to grow. But while growing with the Lord, you’re able to not only receive theses fruits but also learn so much more about your worth and purpose in life. You’re able to come to an understanding that no matter what circumstances are around you, you are in Christ and the Holy Spirit lives in you. And that’s a POWERFUL thing right there.

So, the next time something doesn’t go exactly the way you plan, focus on the good in the situation and laugh it off. Ask God to give you an understanding of the situation and a sense of joy. Try to make the most of the situation and remember the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you, friend.

With love,

Claire