Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lent Day 2; Joy

I am trying to write prayers and devotions based on the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22 for Lent. Today's Fruit: JOY

What exactly is Joy? and how can we nurture it as one of the fruit of the Spirit that we want to have as part of our character?

It must not be merely a feeling or emotion if God considers it something that a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Christ-like life produces, right?

I would say that hppiness and contentedness are moods, but Joy is something different. For one thing, Joy is what puts a sparkle in your eye- it's being glad to see and be with someone you love. See my Advent Devotion on Joy When the Aronic blessing in Numbers says "May the Lord's countenence fall upon you, may His face shine upon you, may He look upon you with His favor..." I think it's saying "May God be glad to see you and enjoy being with you."

But the older I get, the more I think that it's even something more as well. Joy is celebration! Maybe that opinion is influenced by the birth of my third daughter this past week. We're not just glad that she's here, we want to share our exciting news and want people to share our happiness.

One of my favorite scenes in any book was in a Frank Peretti novel. I think it was 'Piercing the Darkness,' when one of the human characters gets down on their knees in prayer and invited God into their life, the finally accept Jesus and ask for His help. The demons scurry away and the angels EXPLODE with celebration, praise, thanksgiving and energy. I wish I could do Peretti's prose justice, but my point is- that there is more celebration in Heaven for any one lost sheep than we can possibly imagine. And I can imagine a lot of excitement, I just experienced it when I wittnessed my baby being born.

No wonder "the Joy of the Lord is my strength." I for one wish that I wasn't at the mercy of the emotional roller coster of life, moods, anxiety, depression, stress, hormones & chemistry etc. I think that the only way to escape or transend those things might be to live a life of celebration.

Look, geese flying North, what a blessing! Look, a new baby, what a miracle! Look, deer leaping a fence, how majestic- thank God it's a quarter mile away and not right in front of my vehicle!

It is easier to say than to do, but here's a way to try, focus on what Paul encourages us to focus on in Philippians 4:4-8:


Dear Jesus,

Help me to stop looking down
Help me to stop focusing on the negative
Help me stop being critical and judgemental

Holy Spirit, produce the fruit of Joy in me
in my heart and in my life

Help me to live a life of celebration
Help me to "practice Your presence"
and enjoy every minute with you

Help me to focus on what is true;
on what is noble;
on what is just;
what is pure;
what is lovely;
what is of good report;
on anything of any virtue;
on what is worthy of praise,
Help me to especially focus on You.

In Jesus' name,

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