Although we differ greatly in just about every way imaginable, we would all choose joy over sorrow. So, if we all want joy, why are there so many joyless people and why is joy so illusive? Our thoughts generally lead us to believe that certain things in life bring joy. For example, you might think if you were famous, or had a prominent business position, or if you were married to someone powerful, then you’d have joy. Some think that joy comes from wealth and having allot of stuff…homes, cars, designer clothes, and so on. Others pursue health and fitness, workouts, diets and Botox in an effort to stay forever young and vibrant, thinking joy has to do with how they look and feel about themselves. These things may bring some momentary happiness, but not lasting joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness implies luck or good fortune; it is based on external happenings or circumstances. However, joy comes from within. It pervades even the most dire circumstance and defies natural inclinations. It is a fruit of the spirit; a fruit that the Holy Spirit wants to produce in each and every believer. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us we reap the benefits and others are also blessed. When we quench the Spirit we struggle through life without the joy and blessings God intended and do not produce the joy that will bless the lives of those around us.

Scripture
Jn 14:27, 15:8; Acts 20:35; Ro 8:28; Ga 5:22-23; Phil 4:4, 12; Col 3:13; He 12:15; Js 3:16; Ps 30:5, 62:8

Verse
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…. (Gal 5:22-23) My father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (Jn 15:8) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Phil 4:4) ….One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning. (Ps 30:5)

Thought
Some things will keep joy from growing and thriving. Selfishness is a real joy killer. When the focus is on “me,” envy and jealousy uproot joy. Looking only to one’s own interest works against the fruit God wants to produce. When our focus is outward toward others, they are blessed and we are blessed. Giving brings joy into our lives. Finding contentment in what God has given us and counting our blessings keeps us from divisive comparisons. Joy is the produce! Bitterness also kills joy. When we harbor resentment and hurt, it grows a root of bitterness. The world tells us to get even, but God tells us to forgive. Only by forgiving and letting go of bitterness can joy flourish in our lives. Fear will also overcome joy. There are so many things that can bring fear into our lives. We fear the loss of relationships, jobs, finances, health, safety, security, autonomy, and the list is literally endless. Only by trusting in God’s power can we look beyond our fear and focus on Him. God is in control, and if you believe that He works all things together for good (Phil 4:4), then rest in Him. Life will be plagued with troubles, sorrows and more, but the joy that the Spirit produces isn’t based on the external; it comes from His power within us. Let joy grow and flourish in your life.

Questions
Do you tend to compare what others have with what you have? If so, how does that affect your joy? Do you have trouble forgiving? How do you go about forgiving when someone has hurt you? Is there a fear that steals your joy? If so, what is it? What most often robs you of your joy? How do you get your joy back? How long does it usually take? How is someone a joy killer to those around them? Who is the most joyful person you know? On a scale of 1-10 how joyful overall do you think you are? If you want to get real…you could ask others to rate you… but don’t let that cause bitterness!! Do you want more joy in your life? What can you do to cultivate joy?

Response
Count your blessings; make a list. Thank God for all he’s done for you. Let others know that you are blessed and thankful for God’s work in your life. When selfishness, bitterness and fear rise up; end them quickly.

Prayer
Dear Lord, help me to focus on thankfulness and forgiveness and to trust your almighty power that reigns over all in my life. Allow my heart and spirit to be fertile ground for producing joy. In Jesus Name, Amen.