We heard a sermon today on the spiritual fruit of joy, linked to the Christmas story and season. Pastor Tom walked us through Mary’s experience as the chosen vessel of God to be Jesus’s mother.
I too was reading Mary’s story lately, in the beginning chapters of Luke. Zacharias’ heart was hardened from years of unanswered prayers. His wife was barren, and both of them were getting on in age. His response to Gabriel as the angel brought glad tidings was one of bitterness, like “do you expect me to believe this?”
Let’s talk about the pathways to joy.
But Mary’s was “How can this be?” She didn’t understand but she didn’t reject the good news either. And because she trusted God, she would see her needs met, her promises from God fulfilled, her joy complete.
An unhardened heart can receive the good news so much more easily than a bitter one. There’s no room for joy in a cold heart.
The other “pathway” to joy, besides trusting God is that of thankfulness.
Next time your joy meter is low, try this: make a mental list of seven things you’re thankful for, and dig deep. Don’t just settle on the obvious ones. If you say “family,” let a picture of your family’s love come to mind. Go beyond the obvious. By the time you’ve finished, you’ll not only see how God has been faithful to you and your family, but joy will sneak up on you.
Deep and sincere gratitude leads to joy.
COMMUNION WITH GOD
One more “pathway” is that of communion with God. Nothing lifts burdens (that crowd out joy) like chatting with God, giving Him our burdens, getting His perspective, hearing from Him, recalling His promises.
So, this season, make room for joy. Let God fill you up.
Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net Christmas Tree by Keattikorn