Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit: Day 4: Joy


Rejoicing is a common theme in the Bible. Joy is in God’s nature. He delights in the world he has made (Genesis 1, Proverbs 8.31). In the Psalms often the natural world itself rejoices. People too are often pictured rejoicing, usually for obvious reasons. They have been rescued from danger (Exodus 15.20) or restored to their own land (Isaiah 65.18). But we also find people rejoicing when, objectively, there seems to be nothing to rejoice about. Mary “rejoices in God” (Luke 1.46) when she hears she is to bear the Messiah, despite the fact that, as an unmarried woman, she faces social disapproval and rejection because of it, and knows that her son’s life will never be plain sailing.  Paul and Silas sing hymns of praise in chains in a Roman prison (Acts 16.25) “Rejoice in the Lord always,” he later writes, again from prison (Philippians 4.4) on another occasion.

There is, or should be, nothing dour or cheerless about our faith, even when things are not going smoothly. That doesn’t mean that we have to go around with a grin plastered on our faces when we don’t feel like it. The joy that God gives isn’t superficial happiness, which is dependent on things going well, but a deep knowledge that we are held securely in his hands whatever happens to us.

·         When did you last feel real joy, and why?
·         When did you last feel joyless, and why?
·         “Cheer up, it may never happen?” How does it feel when people try to cheer you up like this? Why is it such an irritating and unhelpful thing to hear?
·         Pray: for God to reveal his joy to you today, and enable you to bring genuine joy to someone else.

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