Growing up, “Joy to the World”, was my Christmas fave. Our family of eight always attended church, yet, my upbringing didn't include bible literacy. I headed off to college … and didn’t enter a church, crack a bible or say a prayer for 21 years. So, I first arrived into God’s Word at the age of 40.
Those next twelve years, I was far more interested in being an intellectual Christian than living Spirit-filled. I learned tons of scriptures, because I wanted to be the smartest believer around. Not the wisest. And, certainly not the most loving.
LOVE launches us into the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23! I believe they flow supernaturally sequential … because, right after LOVE … is JOY!!! Hallelujah! I pursued happiness with everything in me for 50 years. And, I hit peaks of happiness and valleys of happiness. Yet, as I got older, any worldly pursuit I thought would make me happy instead distracted me from the LOVE of Heaven. Thus, my valleys got deeper … and my peaks became rare.
Today, I know that JOY has nothing to do with happiness. True, deep, lasting JOY comes from having the Fruit of the Spirit manifest in me. When my intimacy with God is near, and I live my days dead to self, a sense of JOY I can’t muster up on my own invades me. And, just like with LOVE before it, JOY then leads to a PEACE which surpasses all understanding.
Going back to before, and the supernatural sequential order of the Fruit of the Spirit … it is LOVE that sets off the JOY … which sets off the PEACE … and so on. What is the LOVE? It is God’s agape LOVE to us, then through us. Once we finally receive that God LOVES us so much that He sacrificed His son so we could be reconciled to Him, the devil loses his foothold on our lives and the Holy Spirit begins unleashing the Fruit in us, on us and through us. Regardless of my worst circumstances, if I am strolling intimately with the Spirit, I experience all of these: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS & SELF-CONTROL.
Tony Green - Director of Development