What sets us apart as Christians? There are many things but there has been one thing on the front burner of my mind lately. It’s a simple question I pose to myself and maybe you will want to consider posing it to yourself:

Regardless of circumstances, whether things are going right or wrong in my life, am I the same person?

*Joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit, is what we should experience as believers no matter our current situation. Scripture teaches that we live “in” the world but we are not “of” the world. Our response to the good and bad of life should look different from the world’s response. We have a true hope that the world does not have!

A take away from the world we are living in is that we hear people say all the time, “I just want to be happy.” Or, in referencing our children or a friend or a family member, we hear, “I just want them to be happy.”

When we read about the fruits of the Spirit….that is, the fruit that is manifested in us because we have invited Jesus into our hearts and we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us…..we see in Scripture that these fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

There is no mention of “happiness” as a fruit.

Many people, especially non-Christians and Christians who are not yet spiritually mature, do not realize that joy and happiness are not the same. Joy is a fruit that we experience from a “relationship with Christ,” no matter our worldly circumstances. Happiness is a “fleeting feeling” that comes and goes based on…

….what we have,
….what we want and don’t get,
….who we want to be and maybe don’t become,
….a kind word or an unkind word or action by others.

Feelings come and go. They are always changing, but J*O*Y that comes from the Lord can be a constant. It outranks the feeling of “happiness;” it doesn’t even come close.

If we look in Scripture to the book of Philippians, a small book of only four chapters, we read about the circumstances of Paul, the author. He penned these words from a Roman prison where he was naked and chained to a prison guard. Every time I read this book I often think about the tremendous witness Paul was to the guards to whom he was continually chained. NO where do you read in these chapters words of complaint. But we do see the word joy or reJOIce over and over again.

In this short book of the Bible, Paul writes of:
learning to be content with much or little,
about running your race with perseverance,
forgetting what lies behind,
and pressing forward to what lies ahead.

He says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you and that God will meet all your needs in Christ Jesus. This, my friends, is why Paul experienced such JOY even though his circumstances were that of a cold, cruel prison.

God has a “Best life” for us to live. It doesn’t mean that we will be “happy” all the time but it does mean we can experience and have JOY…that is a fruit of His Holy Spirit. Allow God to be all that He needs to be in your life and when you do…Joy will be an abundant fruit you can feast on!

Romans 15:13, “13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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