The Fruit of the Spirit Series: The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

In verse 25, Paul adds If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. The way we handle ourselves should be in line with these attributes of the Holy Spirit. The second of these is joy.

By my count, the Bible has the word ‘joy’ translated into it 171* times.  The literal translation of the Greek word xapa is simply joy or gladness.  Joy is defined as great delight or elation. I know it’s easy for us to feel joy when life is great. I think we can all say we feel joy in the good times. But where does this joy come from if it disappears when challenges arise?

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The Christmas Story – Disappointment with a Purpose – A Mother’s Perspective

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Since I’ve become a mother, my perspective on our Savior’s birth has completely changed.  Prior to motherhood, I saw Jesus’ birth as purely beautiful. As I’ve grown and had children of my own, I can’t help but think, how would I have handled being in Mary’s situation?

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Mary has been estimated by historians to have been between 12 and 14 when the angel came to her and told her she would be impregnated by God. 12-14?! Let’s just take a moment here and really imagine. What would you have done if someone said that to you? First of all, she was a virgin; how could she conceive? Secondly, she was unmarried. How scandalous would that have been? Finally, she was just a normal girl with no special stature or title. Yet, because of her faith, she was chosen by God. And what was her response? She questioned it! We find the details in Luke 1:28-38.

In verse 28, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” And verse 29 shows Mary’s initial reaction.

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. She was troubled! I imagine Mary was thinking, O favored one? I am just a servant of God. What is this angel talking about? Then in verses 30-33, Gabriel goes on, And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Accepting the Task

Now what would you say to that? She was a humble girl and I am sure she was thinking, Who am I? Who am I to be charged with such a great task? And she did question Gabriel, wondering how she could conceive being a virgin in verse 34: And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Gabriel goes on to explain in the following verses. And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.  And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

I would like to think I would have been so full of grace in my response to Gabriel if I had been chosen by God as she was. But part of me can’t help but wonder what strength and faith she had to accept this task, merely responding that she was a servant of the Lord, so let it be. I’m sure she knew what she was signing up for. Her fiance, Joseph, may not stay with her. She could be mocked and scorned by the people for calling herself a virgin and being pregnant out of wedlock. I’m sure the unknowns were plentiful. But she had faith. Incredible faith.

I can’t help but think of some of the challenges I face and how much less difficult they would be if my faith was so unwavering. I think this can serve as a reminder to us that God has a plan, and though the road may be messy, there is always a purpose to our suffering.

Joseph’s Perspective

In Matthew 1:19-21, we find that Joseph did, in fact, intend of leaving Mary. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  Joseph was a man willing to do what God had told him.  Even though I’m sure he knew how scandalous his marriage to Mary may be, with her first child not being his, he accepted God’s instruction to stay with Mary.  You can imagine the disappointment he probably felt, as a man.  His wife would be giving birth first to a baby who isn’t his. 

To me, this is a great reflection on how so many men accept children that are not their own in today’s society. With broken homes and second marriages becoming more and more common, there are many men who don’t get to feel that joy of sharing a first pregnancy with their wives. And I think this is a great lesson to us. Disappointment is real. But God’s plan is greater. If we do as He says, great things will come of it.

The Importance of Family

If we look back to when Gabriel first came to Mary, in Luke 1:36, he mentions Mary’s relative Elizabeth also being pregnant. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  Why would he mention this at such a crucial moment? Elizabeth’s pregnancy is also very important in this story. First, because Mary went to visit Elizabeth for three months.  I can imagine,  being young and pregnant under such incredible circumstances, Mary wanted to be with family. And not just any family, but family who understood some of what she was going through and Elizabeth was well into her pregnancy at this point. Also, Elizabeth was barren and an old age, so her pregnancy was pretty unexpected as well. We can see further into our reading that God had a plan for Elizabeth’s pregnancy as well. Read more about Mary’s visit with Elizabeth in Luke 1:39-56.

We will focus on verses 41-45: And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,  and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

I get a few different things from this passage. First of all, I can assume an angel has also visited Elizabeth to inform her of Mary’s pregnancy and the Savior she is carrying. Also, her child leaped in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice at the door. I think it’s very important here to note that the baby Elizabeth is carrying is John the Baptist. John the Baptist kind of “paved the way” for Jesus’ ministry. John went before Jesus and prepared the hearts of so many to be ready for the coming of the Savior. Again, we are reminded how intricate God’s plan is.

The Unimpressive labor

I used to think, Oh, how wonderful it must have been to have given birth to Jesus. Now, I have given birth twice and I know it’s no picnic! Of course there are many major differences in my births and Mary’s experience.  First of all, I was in a temperature-controlled hospital, modern medicine at my disposal, a somewhat comfortable bed, a hot bath to relax in, an entire medical team and my family with me.

When Mary was giving birth, she was away from home, away from all family, and in a barn full of animals.  I can’t help but picture myself, barking demands because I’m in pain and I just want this to be over. Oh, but Mary full of grace…She was surrounded by the odor of farm animals, laying in hay or straw, and certainly didn’t have any ice chips handy or a fluffy pillow. She was torn away from her home and family because of the census. A woman didn’t give birth with a man present back then. They had a woman beside them who had been through it themselves.

Can you imagine Joseph? I know how helpless my husband felt when I was in labor. I can only imagine how Joseph must have felt, back before it was standard for a man to be present.  He must have been terrified he would mess something up! We imagine all our hopes and dreams for our first baby and just think of how shattered those were for Mary. Nothing was going according to plan. Disappointment.

Blessings in the Disappointment

But, again, how incredible God made this unimpressive experience! The labor certainly was nothing to write home about, but the end result…miraculous.  When she first held baby Jesus, she knew she was looking at God’s Son. She knew her Son would save the entire world. Okay, so the disappointments we face on a daily basis could never bring forth such a miracle as the Son of God. But we do have blessings in our disappointments.  Sometimes the best thing that can happen is for our plans to be completely blown. Being completely honest with you, sometimes I get so mad my plans don’t turn out, I almost turn my brain off to seeing any blessing in it. But, when I look back on my plans that didn’t come to pass, I can see where God’s plan did. And it’s so hard to remember that in the moment surrounded by disappointment, isn’t it? But we KNOW God works for the good of those who love Him and for His Kingdom. (Romans 8:28)

There are so many things we have to live through in this world. With a lot of the struggles, we won’t know why they’ve happen until we are called to Heaven. But we have to believe that what we go through will expand God’s Kingdom and has a higher purpose. And believing that in the midst of the struggle; that’s faith. And Mary, my friend, had some incredible, unwavering faith.

But, let’s be careful not to worship Mary. Mary was a vessel. A vessel chosen by God because of her faith. So let’s not worship her, but model her faith. On this day, and every day, let us remember that God is using our current situation to bring forth great things. No matter the struggle, let’s walk through the situations He has put us in with faith like Mary’s. A disappointed mother, as we often are; but one with a great, great purpose.

God bless you all this Christmas.

Love in Christ,

Stephanie

You’re a New Christian: What Now?

Romans 10:9-10 …because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

You’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. That’s incredible! Congratulations! So, what are the next steps? What should you expect in the near future?

There are many ways to grow your faith, but the first and foremost is being in God’s word. The Bible is the word of God (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17), given to us to fulfill all our needs.

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Forgiveness: What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?

Matthew 6:14-15  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The basic point of this post is that if you want forgiveness from our Father, you’re going to have to give it to others; whether you think they deserve it or not.  This is a truly difficult concept and I’ve recently had my eyes opened into what forgiveness actually is and I’d like to share that with you.

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Accept the Gift of Salvation


Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

This is a verse I see a lot of people struggle with.  The thought that there is nothing we can do to ensure our salvation is a scary one.  But it also can be a very humbling and comforting thought.

If we dissect this verse a bit, we find that through our faith we are saved by God’s grace.  Paul tells us this grace comes to us, not because of anything we did or didn’t do, but it is a gift from God.  Have you ever thought that you don’t deserve this gift?  I struggled with this for a long time.

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Why is God Making Me Wait?

Micah 7:7  But as for me, I will look to the Lord;  I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for God to hear us, to give us some sort of sign or guidance.  Maybe you’re going through this right now.  This has to be one of the most difficult things for me as a Christian.  I think this is mostly because of how incredibly close I feel to God when I do get an answer right away.  When I don’t get an answer, I start to feel forgotten or rejected.  Have you felt this separation and perhaps even frustration?

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My Husband Isn’t Making Me Happy

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I’ve heard so many women say this to me. ‘He just doesn’t make me happy anymore’.  Know first that I sympathize with you, and I have felt this way on several occasions. And it’s a devastating feeling.  But also know, that it is not your husband’s job to make you happy.

Happiness comes from within you. It is not something someone else is required to give you on a daily basis. I am here to tell you, true happiness can only be found in a strong relationship with the Father.

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What is an Idol?



Isaiah 2:8 Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.

Do you know what idols are? Many people think they are statues that ancient religions worshipped. However, idols can be many many things. An idol is anything you put ahead of God in level of importance.

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Handling Distractions


1 Corinthians 7:35

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

This life sure gets busy, doesn’t it?  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all our obligations and get distracted from our relationship with God.  If this happens to you, I assure you that you are not alone!

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This One’s For the Moms!


Proverbs 31:25-30  Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I could have put all of Proverbs 31 in this post, but that would get a bit lengthy.  But, if you get a chance, please head to your Bible and read it in its entirety.  It’s truly worth it.  Do you ever feel like you work so hard to take care of your family and no one even notices?  When you feel that way, remember God sees all you are doing.

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