By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)
Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”
The word “Joy” in the Bible is a unique and special word, in that it transcends mere happiness or pleasure, ignores temporary circumstances, and stays anchored to the solid reality of The Divine Joy giver! Again, as we look at the “fruit of the Spirit” we must understand that these life ‘fruits’ only come as a direct result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
“Joy” in Galatians 5:22 is the Greek word ‘chara’ and it is derived from both the words ‘charis’ meaning “grace” or “gift” as well as the word ‘charos’ which means “rejoice” or “to express joy”. So, what that means is that Biblical “joy” is defined as the “natural response to a grace gift!”
Put simply, it means that there can never be true “joy” without the presence of Grace. And the only source of pure, untainted, and complete “grace” is The One and Only True and Living God! That is why in modern society and culture there is a desperate need to redefine the word “joy” and ascribe to it a false and shallow definition; because to acknowledge the true definition of joy is to acknowledge the need for Saving Grace, and therefore a Savior. Salvation is a “joyful” experience precisely because it is a “grace gift.” The arrival of Messiah was obviously a “joy gift” occasion. (“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14) As was His resurrection, His ascension, and will be His return!!
The world teaches a false joy that comes from possessions, prestige, power, popularity, or even a perceived great purpose. BUT joy comes ONLY from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 15:11). Try this exercise today: rather than focus on the circumstance of life (whether deemed good or bad), focus on the many evidences of the Grace of God in your life. Ask Him to fill you with recognition of Him and Who He is in your life. When we do that, I believe we will truly have, enjoy and minister through the fruit of the Spirit – JOY.
By Danielle Harmon
At the beginning of each New Year, we are inundated with encouragement to set New Year’s Resolutions. Lose weight, save more money, read the Bible in a year – the ideas are endless. But what if we spent more time asking God to reveal His goals for this year instead of our own?
The problem with our goals is that, although well-intentioned, they are not complete without God’s input. Maybe we want to lose 30 pounds or start running every morning, but what if God has a better idea of what perfect health can be for each one of us? Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that His thoughts are higher than ours:
“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’”
Our ways are not His ways, just as our goals for our lives are not necessarily His goals for our lives. But by spending more time in close relationship with Him, we can begin to think more like Him. As we learn to think more like Him, we also learn to hear and implement His ideas for our lives instead of our own.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 serves as a great reminder that God has ideas and purposes for our lives that we could never dream of on our own:
“This is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”
God has incredible things planned for us, not just in eternity, but here on earth as well. God desires to share with us His divine purposes for our lives. So as we start this New Year, let’s extend an invitation to allow God to help us set those resolutions.
Are we truly aware of the impact our beliefs have on our life and our relationship with God?
She believes she is worthy.
She believes she is loved.
She believes she is accepted.
She believes she is victorious.
She believes she is powerful.
She believes she is righteous.
She believes she is significant.
She believes she has purpose.
She believes she can have hope in Christ.
She believes she is forgiven.
She believes God can heal her.
She believes God will heal her.
She believes she is full of the Holy Spirit.
She believes God makes His home in her.
She believes God works mightily through her.
She believes she can have a meaningful impact on others.
She believes God wants her to show His love to others.
She believes the joy of the Lord is her strength.
She believes she is courageous.
She believes God knows her by name.
She believes God will remove any chains that hold her down.
She believes she doesn’t have to live an unfulfilled life.
By Danielle Harmon
For the longest time, I was worried that I was going to miss God when He was speaking to me. I was constantly concerned, afraid, full of guilt and condemnation and felt that I would make a wrong turn and not hear Him. At times, I lacked confidence in my decisions because I was constantly afraid they were wrong. I was aware of the verse from John 10:27, which reads, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”. However, I was afraid that somehow I would miss Him. An understanding of the Father’s love for me has been essential in learning to hear His voice more clearly.
Through His Holy Spirit, God has been teaching me that any fear, worry, condemnation, anxiety or depression that I hear or sense is not the voice of the Father. Whenever I have these feelings, they’re directly from the enemy. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Therefore, if God is guiding me in His perfect love, He will not use fear to accomplish His purpose. Being fearful is not walking in the Spirit. Instead of fearing misdirection, I can remember Psalms 91:14-16 which speaks of the Lord’s protection, deliverance and guidance.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:14-16
Whenever feelings of doubt or fear creep into my mind disguised as “wisdom”, I can defeat them because of my understanding of God’s love. Meaning, I can recognize these thoughts and feelings as the voice of the enemy and extinguish them. Then, I replace them with the Truth of God’s Word. As Christians, we are instructed to do this in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Learning to do this is essential to hearing the voice of God. It is the revelation of His love for me which has enabled me to have confidence in my right to use and apply His Truth to my life.
Now that I’m learning to hear God’s voice more clearly, the verse from John 10:27 has taken on new meaning. I have come to understand that the deeper my relationship with Him, the more clearly I hear Him. Continued learning and revelation of His character leads to greater ability to hear his guidance. As I grow in my understanding of Him, I have found that He will direct me so I can follow His will. The Bible tells us this in Proverbs 3:6: “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” I have confidence in knowing that the Father will tell me when to turn right or turn left. He will not lead me astray. He created me for His designed purpose and He is faithful to see it to completion by showing me the correct path. Just as a parent would not watch a child wander off in the wrong direction without speaking up, God will let me know when I start to roam so that I can make a change and turn back.
Through the revelation of the Father’s love for me, I have traded fear and anxiety for love and confidence in Him. I am no longer afraid of “missing God.” I know that He cares for me. As a result of the relationship that I have with Him, He will let me know when I start to get off-course. As I am consumed by His love, I find my refuge and peace in Him instead of being tossed around by worry and fear. I can rest in the knowledge that God truly loves and cares for me (See Psalms 23).
By Danielle Harmon
Surrender your life to me. I surrendered it all for you. I came directly from my Heavenly Father to the earth and I came empty-handed. I temporarily surrendered my place in Heaven so I could be reconnected to you. I came to serve you so that we could have a relationship. Won’t you follow my lead and surrender too? I want a relationship with you. But a relationship cannot happen without mutual surrender. Surrender your life and your desires and replace them with my desires. My ways are higher than your ways. My purposes are greater than your purposes. Your life is not your own. Surrender to me & to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and you will find purpose and receive divine inspiration. A surrendered heart and life are how I move on the earth. Allow me to move in and through you.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
By Danielle Harmon