Good morning, Friends!
We have a new feature developing here at The Joy Project—it is my great privilege to introduce you to my friend, Jenny Smith! Jenny and I met through our involvement with the Proverbs 31 SheSpeaks event—she is a lover and studier of the Word, and she’s going to be taking us deeper into the “Surprise Gift” of Joy every first and third Friday!
Jenny is a wife to Chad and mom to three darling young women Meghan, Katie, and Lauren. She teaches at her local church, conferences, retreats, banquets or wherever women gather to hear hope from God’s Word for their lives. She is a graduate of She Speaks and can often be found surrounded by books, pen in hand, writing in her favorite notebook. She loves country life in Adairsville, Georgia. A country life, that if her husband gets his wish, will include chickens, very soon.
You can find her website at www.keepinginstride.com. You’ll also find additional resources available. You can also send her an email at Jenny@keepinginstride.com or you’ll find her frequently on FaceBook over at the Keeping In Stride page.
I’m so excited to join The Joy Project! My passion is the study of God’s Word. I pray as we look at Joy each month the Word of God comes alive in your heart in a fresh way. Are you ready to jump in?
In the Old Testament, there are fifteen different Hebrew words translated into some form of joy; in the New Testament there are eight Greek words for joy. One in particular caught my eye immediately. It occurs in fifty-seven verses, and two of the verses may be familiar to you in regards to joy (my emphasis added).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3 ESV
For those of us in search of joy this year, these verses will separate worldly joy or happiness from true Biblical joy. Our goal is to cultivate this type of joy enabling us to stand steadier regardless of what life throws our way. As we begin to cultivate joy in our hearts, we are going to have to dig and establish some roots. Truthfully, anytime I think of digging, it brings to mind memories of planting bulbs in my flower garden. It was such hard work, but now year after year, my flowers come back offering me a splash of joy when I see them. In fact, the weather has been so warm here in Georgia, my daffodils are blooming now!
Remember I told you, I had been looking at the words for joy in the Greek in the New Testament? Well, the word for joy is “chara”. I’m going to show you three words, all of which share a portion of the Greek word for joy, the brackets I’m adding to make it clearer.
All three of these words are dependent on Christ.
We start with grace, the unmerited favor of God—a gift to sinners who deserve wrath and instead receive blessings through Christ. Grace is the basis of this gift of joy in the life of a believer—without a relationship with Christ, we will never have true joy.
Then we move on to gift: charisma, meaning the ‘gift of divine grace’. The word for this type of ‘gift’ is only used seventeen times; two are listed below, emphasis added.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10
Our relationship with Jesus enables us to have joy regardless of the circumstances of our individual lives because it is based in the Holy Spirit, not in our feelings. I can’t explain how that one little fact affected my mind—my joy comes from the Holy Spirit, and my feelings do not get to determine my joy.
If we are trying to come up with a technical definition of Biblical Joy, we could say it’s the awareness of God’s grace, favor recognized by us in the midst of wherever our feet are planted.
A supernatural gift of the Spirit, arising out of a conscious relationship with God in the day to day life of a believer, has been offered. A gift extended to those of us willing to take it.
Our circumstances don’t dictate our joy, our willingness to grasp all the grace God is pouring out on us in the midst of life, determines our joy!
I hope seeing grace, gift and joy, connected resonated in your heart. Next time we’ll be looking at how we can start to grasp the grace being poured out even in the midst of hard times.
Lord—thank you for the insights that come from the study of your Word! Thank you for “connecting the dots” for us—showing us how joy and grace are intricately woven together through the life and death of Christ Jesus. Continue, as we go forward in our pursuit, to open your Word to us, that we may know you better and experience your grace—and JOY—more fully…