THE NINE-FLAVORED FRUIT DEVOTIONAL SERIES
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
Paul wrote to the Believers in Galatia, now in modern day Turkey, about the dangers of legalism. He warned them that the gospel, plus works, was no gospel at all! We are also instructed that growing in the Christian life is not a matter of human strength, but of supernatural empowerment. As we ‘branches’ draw our daily life from Jesus, the Vine, the Spirit of God will produce in our lives the nine-flavored Fruit of the Spirit, one of the ‘flavors’ being JOY.
This delicious flavor, craved by any who have ever tasted sadness, hopelessness or sorrow, is often disguised and served up as ‘happiness,’ These two flavors, while similar in appearance, can be worlds apart. Just bite into a grapefruit when you are expecting an orange! Remember, “grin and bare it” is not Joy...it is a sham. True Joy is experienced when we see things God’s way. The letter of Paul to the Believers in Philippi mentions the word, form or root of the word “JOY” fourteen times. To measure our understanding of, commitment to and whether Spirit-produced Joy is present in our lives, let’s look at it in “3-D”!
1st “D” - DEMANDED
In Philippians 4:4, Paul tells the believers, “Rejoice in the Lord, always; again I will say, rejoice!” Paul does not ask, or suggest that we rejoice. He demands it! Who does he think he is, telling people to be happy?! Wait, he is not telling them to be happy. He tells them to rejoice. Paul was under house arrest, chained to a rotating group of assigned palace guards, and robbed of his freedom. When he was in prison, probably in stocks sitting in his own excrement, what did he do? He burst into song, singing songs of praise to God. He didn’t do this because he was happy, but because his JOY was greater. Happiness is based on our circumstances, on happenstance, on what is happening to us. JOY is based on Who we know. If we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) then we no longer need to be “under these circumstances,” but instead we can live with God’s perspective of our lives...from above, with JOY!
2nd “D” - DELAYED
In Philippians 2:16, Paul says how glad and grateful he is the Philippian Christians are clinging to and being faithful to the Word of God, to the end that, in the future, when the Day of Christ comes, that Paul’s JOY will be full, seeing that his life and labor and investing in them was not in vain, and that it mattered! Have you ever wondered if living the life you are called to in Christ is worth it? Thinking no one cares about your faithfulness to Jesus?! Dear brother and sister, Jesus said in Matthew 25:23 that one day, as you have been a faithful servant, He will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the JOY of your Lord!” Even Jesus endured the infinite agony of the cross for future JOY; “for the JOY that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“Runner when the road is long
Feel like giving in, but you're hanging on
Oh runner, when the race is won
You will run into His arms”
-Runner by Twila Paris
3rd “D” - DELIGHT
True JOY must be expressed. Over and over in the Word we see that JOY is uncontainable! Praise, singing, dancing, shouting and even silence in the face of “indescribable joy”! As we are able to express the JOY that is ours in Christ. In spite of our circumstances, our happiness that has been missing has a chance to rise and join with the JOY that is greater. It will bring a personal reality and gladness that warms the soul! Is there anything more joyous than a wedding? It is comparable to the delight the bride experiences as she unites with her long awaited groom. “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” (Song of Solomon 2:3) This is the Fruit called JOY.
Happiness is wonderful! Joy is greater!
“Lord, help me to find my JOY in living my life in Your Word, in my life in light of the soon return of your Son, and in the delight that comes from pleasing you, my Father!”
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