I have been working on lesson 2 about the Fruit of the Spirit, the series that I am teaching this summer during our children’s church, called theROC. I wanted to share the lesson here so that I can think through it myself and share the truths with others. I hope that it will be helpful. The previous lesson was on the overview of the fruit of the Spirit.
We are all born with a sin nature that manifests itself on a daily basis. We live by that sin nature until God sets us free by causing us to be born again through faith in Jesus Christ. The Gospel made it all possible, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. When we are born again from above, God gives us a new Spirit, His Spirit, which now manifests love in us and through us. The rest of the characteristics in Galatians 5 teach us what love looks like and how it is manifested. Today, we are going to focus on 2 aspects of love; joy and peace.
According to the Word of God, joy is not an absence of pain. This joy that God gives to us, it overcomes our pain and circumstances. Most people’s idea of joy is connected to their circumstances. If the sun is shinning and everything is going their way, they are happy or have joy. If the clouds move in and things do not go your way, you no longer have a good day and there is no joy, until the circumstances change. This is not God’s idea of what joy is. Let’s take a look at what stimulates this joy, no matter the circumstances of life. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the message of the Gospel stirs up this joy. In Matthew 2:10, the birth of Jesus Christ brings this joy to us because He is this joy and is able to give it to us. According to Matthew 28:8, the Gospel is also the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This brings us great joy and stirs up great joy because it is the sign that death has been defeated and our sin nature can be overcome. The final reference to the Gospel that brings us great joy and stirs up this joy in us is found in Matthew 25:21. There are eternal rewards for faithful serve to our Lord during the lifetime that He gives to us. Are you in the Gospel and is the Gospel in you so that you can experience the joy of the Lord in every circumstance of life?
According to John’s Gospel, chapter 15 and verse 11, the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, stirs up this joy in us. If we are in the Word of God daily, this joy is stimulated, no matter what is going on around us. Are you spending valuable time in the Word of God daily so that this joy can be stimulated in you? When you do not spend valuable time in the Word, do you notice that your joy suffers and you are more dependent upon circumstances? In John 16:24, prayer stirs up this joy in us. As we spend time hearing from God in His Word, we are motivated to communicate back with Him in prayer. How much time do you spend in prayer, talking to God, based on what you learned in His Word?
In the Gospel of Luke, Dr. Luke reveals that worshiping the Lord stimulates this joy in us. Walking with the Lord in obedience is what worship is. When we have a personal relationship with Him and walk with Him in obedience, we experience what the Bible calls worship. When we worship the Lord, that joy is stimulated in us, no matter what our circumstances are. Paul worshiped the Lord and experienced this joy even while in prison after being beaten for his faithfulness to Christ. In Luke 10:17, the outflow of worship is service. When you serve the Lord by serving the people around you, the joy of the Lord that is in you is stirred up and you experience the joy of the Lord to the max. As you serve the Lord by serving the people around you, if you are intentional about this, you will make disciples (a command from God to us, not a suggestion). These disciples will also stir up the Lord’s joy in you, according to the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:1. Do you worship the Lord moment by moment, day by day? How are you serving the Lord by serving the people around you? Do you have disciples? Are you experiencing the joy of the Lord daily, even when you are having a bad day?
Peace, according to God’s Word, is not the absence of conflict. It is possible to have peace, even when your world is falling apart. This kind of peace only comes from God. It is not inner peace that we must discover. We do not have this peace apart from God. In fact, that is part of our problem. Before we come to faith in Christ and are reconciled with God, we are enemies with God. He wants to be reconciled with us but we have declared ourselves as His enemies. As His selfish enemies, He demonstrates selflessness by sending Christ to die and resurrect so that we can be reconciled with Him. Once we enter into a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ, we experience this peace that surpasses all understanding. Now, we manifest this peace to the people around us. If they have not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, then they are enemies of God and selfish like we once were. Our calling is to demonstrate selflessness to them the way that the Lord did for us. We reach out to them and extend God’s peace in the form of Jesus Christ. They may respond positively. If they do, praise the Lord. They may also respond negatively. If they do, we still do not lose this peace that God has given to us. This actually stimulates God’s peace in us and we are able to endure all things as we trust in the Lord. This is all explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1,8,10 and Romans 12:18.
Have you received God’s love? Is it being manifested in you and through you in the form of the joy of the Lord and the peace of Christ? Are you doing the necessary things to feed that joy to stimulate it? Do you live by the peace of the Lord no matter what your circumstances? Have you been reconciled to God through Christ? Are you reaching out to the people around you so that they can experience the peace of the Lord too? May the Lord help us experience His joy and peace on a daily basis, doing what He has told us to do in order to stimulate His joy and peace!