Spiritual Fruit I’ve been thinking more and more about growth, growing in Christ as a believer and looking at the fruits of the Spirit that we believers have been given:“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit of in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and  self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)One of those fruits is joy. I’ve been thinking of what it means to be a joyful believer to live and exist in joy on a daily basis absent of sorrow, worry and anxiety. As we go through our daily routines and stop and give God thanks and praise, we experience His joy, we forget about our worries and cares in the natural world and focus on God and our spiritual side. This is closer to our perfect state of being as we are spiritual creations who exist on earth for a short time. The Chief Shepherd We are coming off our recent celebration of the birth of Jesus, an event heralded by an angel bringing tiding of great joy to shepherds. This we read in Luke 2:10, “…but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said, ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.’” We know the story, wise men travelled far to see Him. He was born in a manger in the humblest of surroundings. The Creator of the Universe took on the most vulnerable of roles to serve His creation. The announcement of His birth was not told to kings and rulers in authority, but to shepherds. There was not made a huge deal about the birth of the Chief Shepherd who would lead His sheep back to the Father. The Master made Himself a servant. The selfless sacrifice of the Creator is cause for joy in believers on its own. As the song by Beverly Crawford (He’s Done Enough) goes, “If the Lord never does anything else for me, He’s done enough.” Again, I Say, Rejoice Throughout the Bible there is something like 187 mentions of the word joy. It shows up, a lot. We find out in starting in Nehemiah 8:10, that the joy of the lord is your strength. Joy makes us strong, so when we feel weak, let us seek out the things that Jesus speaks about in John 15:11 that will make our joy full and that His joy will remain in us. Here is a list of examples where we are counseled to rejoice:“Rejoice evermore.” I Thessalonians 5:16 (KJV)Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Romans 12:12a, “Rejoice is our confident hope.” (NLT)Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4, “Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again – rejoice!” (NLT)There is Joy after Trials In the Book of Psalms we are told that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). After pain (Psalms 126:5), after trials, after sorrow, after heartache, after whatever ails you, joy is coming. After 2020, here comes joy. After COVID-19, here comes joy. After discord, disunity, protests, partisanship, here comes joy. After weakness, sin, falling short, anxiety, temptations (James 1:2), natural disasters, here comes joy. Definitely something to look forward to. Cast all our cares on God for He cares for us, and once we relieve ourselves of those burdens, here comes joy (1 Peter 5:7). Benefits of this Fruit In the natural world when we eat fruit we get certain benefits from them whether it is a vitamin, mineral or other positive benefit that enables our bodies to continue to function well. In much the same way, when we experience this fruit of the Spirit – Joy, we get certain benefits from living in joy. Some of these are: Strength – Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (NLT)Hope – Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (NLT)Faith – Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (NLT)Finally, referring back to Galatians 5:22-23, when we experience His joy, we are more in tune with what God expects of us and we are more likely to show more love, be at peace, become long-suffering, be more gentle, show goodness, have faith, be meek, and become temperate. Let us continue to press toward that mark that Christ has set for us to achieve. He has given us joy and we should continue to share with others and live every moment of every day in His joy. CT