The second fruit of the Spirit is joy.
Ah, joy. Such a blessing from the Lord. A dictionary definition for joy is "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation." This definition is great on the one hand and not so great on the other.
The definition says that joy is a great delight based on something "exceptionally good." Too true. As Christians, our joy comes from our eternal hope in Christ Jesus ... indeed, that is "exceptionally good." :) On the flip side, though, there is a huge difference between joy and happiness. Joy is something that can last forever if we keep the right perspective; whereas, happiness is based on our circumstances alone. If we can keep our mind and eyes and heart fixed on the promise we have in Christ, that we are co-heirs with Him of the Kingdom of God, that we will live forever if we put our trust in Him, that we have purpose if we live for Him, then we can live in joy, year after year, day by day, moment by moment - no matter what is going on around us. But if we focus on our circumstances, then we'll only be "happy" when are circumstances are "exceptionally good." And how many of us know that our circumstances are not always "exceptionally good?" ... Exactly. I think we all know that! Sheesh ... this earthly existence is crazy!
So to live in joy, I must simply keep my focus on Jesus. Not always a simple thing to do ... but simple in and of itself.
Colossians 3:2 is one of my all-time favorite verses in Scripture. It says, "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." THAT'S where joy comes from ... seeing the world and the people in this world and our circumstances through the eyes of Jesus!
Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice!" We can rejoice no matter what happens in this life if we are rejoicing (finding joy in) the Lord and His purpose for our lives.
The second half of Nehemiah 8:10 says, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Our circumstances don't have to keep us down because God's joy, alive in our hearts, gives us strength to overcome anything!
So today, God, help me think of You and Your joy. Help joy fill my every thought, every breath, every word. Make me wholly Yours, and be the joy that exudes from my heart and life so that others can see You in me. Help me grow in this fruit of the Spirit. And thank you so much that Your joy is not based on my circumstances that change more often than I can count; but instead, my joy is based on YOU, and You NEVER change. Thank you for that promise and that security, God. Be glorified in and through my life and in and through my joy. I love you, Lord! :)