On Thursdays I am a part of a Bible study at my church, where we are studying Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself, which is about the fruit of the Spirit. Wow, I have learned so much in the past four weeks, and I am excited about what God is going to continue to teach me during the rest of the study. We have learned about the Holy Spirit and His role in creation, Christ's life and what His role is supposed to be in our lives as believers. We have begun to study the fruit of the Spirit and we have covered love and this week dove into joy. I thought I would share what stuck out to me, from today's lesson, with you!
Joy, JOY, joy....no matter how you write it, that little word can mean so much and have so much impact on you and others. Something Beth Moore said on the weekly video watched was this..."Every other world religion is void of joy." Reflect on that for a minute... Christianity is the only "religion"(and I really dislike that word, because of the bad taste it leaves in most people's mouths, but I think you know what I mean here.) that has joy. The ONLY one that has joy. Can you imagine being a part of a belief system that was VOID of joy and rejoicing?
So, you may be asking what is joy? Well....Beth Moore explains it much more eloquently than I, but let me hit on a few things about joy to help you understand it better. Joy is happiness, excitement, gladness, enjoyment, bliss....Beth Moore says that "in many ways joy means to celebrate." Can you get a picture of joy in your mind when using those synonyms? It helps me to do so, but the best description she gave of joy was this...and she talks about this as the fullness or overtaking of joy in our lives. Isaiah 60:4-5 "Then you will look and be radiant, you heart will throb and swell with joy." To me, you cannot explain what joy feels like any better than that scripture does. Isn't that what your heart feels like when you feel true, Spirit given joy?
Now I am not talking about love or happiness, but joy. Joy is something that is deeper and often not understood by even the person feeling it. Of course we feel joy in a lot of circumstances in life, the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, when we celebrate big things in life, like weddings and births, when we see another soul accept Christ and that life changed, etc. But joy can also be felt and experienced in the events of our lives that we often wouldn't think it could be. Death, loss, trials, illness, and even the small things, lost keys, flat tire, forgetfulness, simple conversations, etc. When joy is experienced in the latter things listed, often the world does not understand how we as Christians can feel that way, they question it. Sometimes, we as Christians question it too. True joy from the Spirit is just that, something that passes our worldly understanding. We cannot know and understand how God is working, but we can trust Him in everything and find joy in everything. Why do I say that?
Christ died on the cross for our sins and He did that with joy. Think about that, He came to bring us to glory with Him in heaven, that was His entire purpose, right? So, when He was facing the one thing that we all find unimaginable, He had joy, why? Because He knew what the future held and He knew that His father, the King, would fulfill His promises!
So we should have joy in every situation and we can have, through the Holy Spirit and His full indwelling in us. Why? Because, Luke 10:20 says: "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven." We are the children of God and if we believe in Him, have a relationship and follow Him and His son, and we allow His Holy Spirit to completely fill our lives, then we will be in heaven with Him. NO MATTER WHAT happens on this earth, no matter what mistakes we make, what sins we commit, challenges we face, your name, my name, everyone's names are written in the book of life! How awesome is that. It is only by the choice to not believe, not follow, not be spirit filled, that erases our name from that book.
Joy---how beautiful a characteristic of the Spirit, that we can have in our lives, that we can display for others! Choose Joy!(Hmmm....wasn't that another blog post....missed it, check it out!! No Twit, Just Joy!)
Something else she talked about, which relates to the title of this post, was royalty. Remember, God is the one and only King and He promises us a kingdom. In that kingdom out joy will be made complete and we will understand things that we cannot here on earth. One thing that Beth Moore wants us to understand here on earth is this....we are royalty and we need to feel that way!
I know, it has been a long time since most of us have played dress up or pretend, unless it is now with our children. Think back to pretending to be a princess or a knight and how awesome it felt. In fact, some might say that they really were a princess or knight, not in that conceded, snotty way, but you really truly felt and believed that you were just that, a princess, prince, knight, king, queen, etc. You were special, royal.
Beth Moore said this(my paraphrase, she said it much better!!), "Royalty knows it is royalty because the King has told it so and it believes the King. If we are children of the King, we are royalty, because we wear Christ from head to toe, we have royal blood, we need to feel that way." Well, when we think of royalty, we often think of someone who sits on a big chair and dresses fancy and gets waited on, while bossing others around(thanks to Disney!). However, Christ was royalty, and that is not at all a description of Him. In fact, He was a servant, and that is what we are called to be. Matthew 22: 24-30 tells us just this. I am going to quote vs. 26-27 "Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? It is not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." That is Jesus, speaking to the twelve, who were trying to figure out who among them was the greatest. So, even though we are royal, because we are the children of God, we must serve just as Christ did, and not worry over whether the world things we are servants or royalty, because God, THE KING, has told us who we are, and He says we are royal! Awesome!
Beth said, "I was made for the kingdom, but I receive citizenship in that kingdom only one way...through a relationship with the King!" I love that!
One last thought that ties joy and royalty together...
Isaiah 35: 8-10 "And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in the Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of The Lord will return. They will enter Zion singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
She talked about the crown that we will wear in heaven, and how it will be this crown of joy. Now who knows, that may be a physical crown or it may just be a symbolic reference. I can say, I cannot wait to find out!! But I had this thought while she was speaking about that(and I am sure that there is a Biblical answer, I have just not had time to research, and I kind of like my idea, so I am going to keep it for a while), and so I will leave you with that thought and you can let me know what you think...
We see pictures of angels in heaven and they are often depicted with a halo around their heads. Is that halo around the angels head everlasting joy, the crown of everlasting joy? Remember that our heart will throb and swell with joy, which makes me think of a halo for some reason...so I just wonder, is that what a crown of everlasting joy will look like? A halo...