Fruits of the Spirit In-depth Study and Application “Joy”

“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 

O to have the joy of the Lord! The prophet Nehemiah declared the Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The word for joy here in Hebrew is “chedvah”( Lexicon :: Strong’s H2304), which also means gladness or rejoicing. In other words, the fruit of being connected and in constant communion with Christ, is having gladness. Being connected to Jesus is in itself reason enough to rejoice and be glad. 

The apostle Paul concludes that knowing Jesus is the very root of Joy in Philippians 3:7-9. Why? Consider what Jesus did for us. According to Ephesians, Chapter 2:4-9, God has: 

● Made us alive in Christ to sit in heavenly places 

● Given us access to immeasurable riches and kindness 

● Gifted us with salvation knowing that we could not earn or repay Him.

On top of that,verses 13-21 tell us that through the blood of Jesus: 

● We are in close fellowship with our Heavenly Father 

● We are made whole and reconciled to God 

● We are built together into a new family–the Household of God. Does this not make you want to rejoice? To make it simple, the fruit of Joy is birthed in our constant awareness of God’s love and Jesus’s sacrifice for us. How can one not rejoice in knowing that Jesus sacrificed his life not only for their sins but also for their right to an abundant life according to John 10:10? Even when facing grim circumstances, can you rejoice believing that the end result and outcome will be for your benefit and promotion? When you are connected to the true vine, Jesus Christ, this is your reality. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice (Philippians 4:4)!

Lets pray! Father, thank You for Your love. Thank you for accepting me into your family. I rejoice in you! I declare, in the name of Jesus, that I receive your joy unspeakable and full of glory according to 1 Peter 1:8. I declare my joy and gladness tank is full according to John 15:11. Thank you Lord for you Goodness and mercy always following me. I evict anxiety, sorrow, depression and fear from my life and I put a bloodline of Jesus between me and them. Replace them with the gifts and benefits of a child of God! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! I declare it is done in Jesus name! 

What is Praise & Worship?

Psalm 150: 1-6
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise Him in his mighty heavens! Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth! Psalm 96:9

The Bible is filled with accounts of persons magnifying the Lord, offering heartful praise and worship in response to His unequaled love, faithfulness and sovereignty! One of the most notable worshippers was David, who wrote most of the book of Psalms. He played the harp and was recognized as a man after God’s own heart!

With much thanksgiving and exhilaration, praise is usually expressed through singing, shouting, standing, the lifting of hands, clapping and dancing. It is an external form of adoration to God, declaring his Word, worthiness, and joyfully recounting and remembering His work in our lives. Praise is also a mighty weapon in spiritual warfare! The enemy is confused whenever we can still acknowledge God’s goodness in the midst of attack and circumstance! When Paul and Silas were falsely accused and imprisoned, instead of giving into despair, they praised God and experienced a remarkable miracle! Acts 16:26

Worship can have characteristics of praise, but in general, this is a time of deeper, more intimate fellowship and connection with the Lord. In the quieting of the mind and heart, we are met by the Holy Spirit who speaks to, comforts and convicts us. During this time, we may find ourselves kneeling or bowing down as a show of complete surrender and humility, inescapably aware of the Lord’s presence and glory!

Be encouraged to give your whole heart, mind, body and soul in reverence to God, knowing that He loves and delights in you! Even in the times where you may not feel like praising or worshipping, I pray that you would sacrificially do so, holding onto His Word and promises! We join in with all of heaven and confess: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!” Revelation 4:8

The Top Thing to Do When You Feel Forgotten

Written by Dr. Faith Pierce

“Do I matter? Has God forgotten me?”

Have these refrains been reverberating in your head?

Maybe you are used to shoving your needs aside to prioritize work, an aging parent, or a selfish spouse. But time continues to zoom by while your life is stuck on idling. 

Take your co-worker, for instance—former co-worker, that is. Now that the big boss has bestowed her a promotion, she saunters into the office with a new Prada purse and pinstripe suit.  

What about your raise? When is it coming?

At the end of another blurry week—when “desire fulfilled” (Proverbs 13:12) feels more foreign than a French menu—do you question whether God sees you? If He cares about what you are going through? Is the Lord too preoccupied to keep track of yourpuny plight?

Working at a ministry which features so many in need of so much, I never exhaust the list of hurting souls to attend to. Getting lost in their needs is easy as exhaling.

What is more, Does God care about me?—a taboo thought—strives to sneak in with every breath.

Straggling back to my office one Monday—muddled between miserable and morose—I barely notice the approaching man. 

The brisk bounce in his steps announces his tenacity to tackle the day with joyful eagerness. 

So contrary to my mood. 

As the guy passed, he tosses two infectious words my way. 

“Hi, Sister!” 

Brief, but bursting with meaning.

His chipper tone is not what perks me up. It is that he captures my core identity: a fellow Christian—a sister in the faith. A split second is all it takes for him to highlight the one thing that matters in the midst of my melancholy. I’m a daughter of the Most High! 

Reality is registering. Of coursethe Father has not forgotten me. As though building on the man’s words, God assures my heart. “I’ve seen what you’ve been through, dearest. You’re never alone.” 

That brief encounter was like a spritz of fresh oxygen to my spirit, I have to pass it on to you. This is how we are going to do it: read one line, then do accordingly.

  • Scrutinize your hands. (Yep, I am doing it now.)
  • Flip them palm-side up, and examine each hand. Do your palms look identical? (Mine do not, because of a couple of moles on my left hand.)
  • Aside from the meandering lines etched on each palm, what else is there? (I spot said moles on my left palm.) 
  • Rub your right palm with your other hand. Appreciate the texture of that palm. Then do the same with your left palm.

Why are we doing this, you ask? 

To imitate God. After all, He gazes at His palms—a lot—and for good reasons:

Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Your walls are always in my presence (Isaiah 49:15-16, GWT).

Next time doubts squawk, “God’s forgotten you!”, look down. 

Peer at your palms.

Remember that He will never forget you. 

Ever.

Since His palms bear a tattoo of your smiling face, why should you frown? 

Dr. Faith Pierce is a licensed psychologist in California. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and an MA in Theology.  Other than her name, which is a pseudonym, everything else about her is true.

Is it Bad to Compare Myself?

Do you sometimes feel like you are less than enough? My dear friend, I hope this resonates with you today. You are God’s creation; He made you exactly how He wanted to. You are not lacking. You were dreamed up and made uniquely with characteristics all your own.

We always hear “comparison is the thief of joy.” But what if our perspective of comparison is skewed? We try so hard not to compare ourselves to others because all we come up with are negative ways in which we are lacking. Stop hating what you are NOT, and start loving what you ARE!

As humans, comparison is a natural thought process. It is how we relate ourselves and things to reality. If done in a healthy way, it is essential to growth and maturity. Telling ourselves to stop thinking will just result in shame and guilt.

Abandoning comparison would be disregarding the desire to be more like God. We are told to renew our minds to be more Christ-like. We can rewire HOW we think!

Guide your thought process. Abandon envy, jealousy, pride, and self-pity. Call out the godliness others have applied in their lives with humility and grace. Build them up! Thank God for how He made your brother or sister in Christ.  Then pray and apply God’s characteristics in your own life.

Ask Him to shepherd you in those areas in need of maturing and ask for peace in the season of life you are in, with the knowledge that it may differ from someone else. Relate everything not to a person and their differences from you but to God’s character, the truth of His Word and the foundation of what it says about your identity.

We are all different. However, sometimes this knowledge drains us of joy and replaces it with insecurity. Instead, let us allow it to fuel our growth!  We are beautifully and wonderfully made.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 

Pray this prayer with me today: “Dear ABBA Father, thank You for how you lovingly and intricately pieced me together.  When I am feeling worthless and unloved, help me to stand on Your promise that I am beautifully and wonderfully made.  I destroy all lies from the enemy that make me compare and envy others.  I pray that I would be an encouragement and bolster to others that calls out the godliness and identity in them.  Help me to renew my mind constantly and be more like You every day.  Please be my Shepherd, Lord, and help me to grow and mature.  Help me to love You, love others, and love myself as Your creation. Amen. 

Keys to Your Divine Promotion

God’s plan for us is that we move from glory to glory, according to 2 Corinthians 3:18. As we grow and mature, God will move us into new assignments, or promote us. There are keys to divine promotion.

David is an example of a man who was promoted. David was the youngest child to Jesse, who tended the sheep for his family. His father did not even summon him when Samuel came looking for the son who would be king. David learned many lessons during his life. He learned to protect the sheep from wild animals. In his days of shepherding he learned how to abide in God’s presence. In time, he moved to the palace where he played his harp to soothe King Saul. He learned how to minister to the king even during fits of rage. When Goliath began to threaten the Israelites, David refused to listen to the taunts of the enemy and went out to defy him. David defeated Goliath with the 5 smooth stones and the power of God. He ended up in the wilderness running for his life as Saul tried to kill him. Even during this wilderness time, David refused to retaliate when he had the opportunity.

Eventually, David became King, just as Samuel prophesied. But in every season of his life, David overcame many obstacles and matured and grew in God. Even when David sinned against God, he repented and came back into right standing with God. God called David a man after His own heart. We can see from David’s life that as he overcame in each season, God promoted him to his next season.

Another key to promotion is humility. James 4:10 says that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will exalt us. That means that even as we have successes in life, it is important to stay humble and let God will promote us. Trying to promote ourselves is ineffective. If we manage to manipulate circumstances to promote ourselves, we will have to continue to use the same tactics to keep ourselves there. It is important to trust that God will promote us at the right time, when we’re ready. Proverbs 3:5,6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Promotion comes when God determines that we are ready. As we are faithful to do what He has given to us each day, He is ever molding and creating us into the image of Christ. It is our Christ-likeness that He is looking for in us. Psalms 1:1-3 illustrates this well. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Our prosperity and promotion are connected to the way we conduct our lives. When our hearts are pleasing to God, He can trust us with more. Psalm 20:4 says, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose.”  As we walk through his process of preparation, our hearts are changed and made ready for promotion. And as we wait upon Him, He promises to renew our strength so that we will be ready for the next season.

Are you ready to unlock your promotion? Check out Isik’s guide for additional scriptures and prayer points!

Is it possible to heal from childhood sexual abuse?

Today, people everywhere are struggling through life with damaged emotions and broken hearts. They’ve endured a lot of negative things, causing untold damage that needs to be dealt with. But too often, these hurts are simply swept under the rug in an attempt to make them go away.

Through my own life experiences, and from helping others through this process, I’ve discovered that although God wants to help those who really want emotional healing, there are some very important steps these individuals must take for themselves. If you want to receive emotional healing, one of the first steps you must take is to face the truth. You can’t be set free while living in denial. You can’t pretend that certain negative things didn’t happen to you.

I’ve come to realize that we’re experts at building walls and stuffing things into dark corners, pretending they never happened.

I was four years old when I was sexually abused from a fifteen year old boy. It was a dark memory that I kept suppressed for about twelve years, until I confronted the truth of what happened. For years I made myself believe that it must have been a bad dream or even something I saw on tv by accident as a kid. I finally made the decision to ask my mom about this memory that I couldn’t shake.

Why don’t we want to bring things like that into the open? We’re afraid of what people will think. We’re afraid of being rejected, misunderstood, or unloved by those we care about or that they might have a different opinion of us if they really knew all about us. The feeling of unworthiness and filth is overwhelming. That’s what the devil wants, he wants you to keep quiet. His goal is to make you feel alone and unloved. That is why it is vital for you to speak up and allow light into the darkness.

There’s something about verbalizing it to another person that does wonders for us, but use wisdom. Choose someone you know you can trust. Be sure that by sharing your story with someone else, you don’t simply put your burden on that individual’s shoulders. Also, don’t go trying to dig up old hurts and offenses that have been buried and forgotten.

When I finally worked up the courage to share with someone what had happened early in my life, I actually began shaking and crying in fear. It was an emotional reaction to the things I’d kept buried within me for so long. Now when I talk about my past, it’s as though I’m talking about somebody else’s problems. Because I’ve been healed and restored, my past doesn’t bother me anymore.

Nobody can be set free from a problem until they’re willing to admit they have one.

Do you want to be free of the shame and trauma of your past? Download our prayer guide from Dr. Frank Meadows here!

Even though our problems may have been brought upon us because of something done against our will, we have no excuse for allowing the problem to persist, grow and even take control over our entire life. Our past experiences may have made us the way we are, but we don’t have to stay that way. We can take the initiative by taking positive steps to change things, and most importantly we can ask for God’s help.

I encourage you today to get whatever hurt you have out in the open. Find someone to pray with. Don’t just let them pray, pray yourself for your own healing out loud. Remember the devil wants you to stay quiet. Fight it with God!

Face the truth—it can be the beginning of a happier life!

Shame and Self-Contempt: Embracing God’s View of Me Instead of the Lies

Shame is an insidious liar, hiding in memories and early foundational messages sent to us by our enemy even as children. Shame whispers to us that we are a mistake, without value, marred and damaged property. This message can derail us from reaching our fullest potential and from walking in true freedom.

God’s intent for us is that when we fail or sin, our heart will feel the guilt of unrighteous behavior, causing us to seek cleansing and giving us motivation to make things right. Jesus made a way for us to be cleansed by His blood, to receive His forgiveness, and to be restored into fellowship with Him. 

Shame however, causes us to hide. Shame makes us feel unworthy, without value and beyond the reach of love. But shame is a liar. This message that has been imprinted on our soul can be difficult to discern, but it is one of the biggest lies that the enemy sends us. Shame can come as a result of rejection and abandonment, especially when parents or persons of authority in our lives do not fulfill our greatest needs of nurture and bonding. It can come in upon abuse, neglect, or dysfunction.  When we experience severe trauma, especially at a young age, we may subconsciously come to the conclusion that the fault is ours, due to some flaw in us.

There is a way to be set free from shame. God always has a path to freedom. The way to freedom is to partner with Holy Spirit and the word of God to reveal where the lie became our reality. Holy Spirit can take us to a memory where we received that lie, and we can use the word of God to replace that lie with truth.  As we recall those painful moments, we can ask Him to reveal His truth. We must receive that truth and allow it to replace what the enemy planted in us. It is the truth that we receive and apply that will make us free. God desires that we live in the freedom for which He paid dearly. Cooperate with Holy Spirit and be set free!

 

Additional Resources on this topic:

Jesus, Healer of the Brokenhearted by Frank Meadows

Expressing Feelings and Emotions Appropriately

When we are born, we are “hard-wired” for basic emotions. These emotions include anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Adults learn to control these hard-wired emotions throughout life. However, children need help in learning to regulate these emotions, beginning in infancy.  You help by comforting your child when he/she is feeling overwhelmed by feelings.  When your infant is hungry, cold, fearful, lonely, or overstimulated, he/she can experience intense emotion and anxiety, resulting in stress.  Staying with your baby until he/she is calm is teaching your child how to manage his/her own emotions.

Other feelings, such as humility, forgiveness, hope, compassion, sympathy, patience, cooperation, and gratitude must be learned.  As your child gets older, you will need to teach him/her the words and meanings of these emotions.  In this way, your child will learn how to appropriately express emotions in adulthood and avoid becoming overwhelmed during stressful situations.

Generally, humans deal with emotions by suppressing them, verbalizing them, or acting out with inappropriate behaviors. Just like an overstuffed trash can, harmful emotions that are suppressed will eventually overflow, causing a person to express sudden anger or experience depression. Many illnesses can be attributed to suppressed emotions.

Expressing feelings through words is a positive way to share emotions.  Sometimes, a child does not have the words to describe his/her feelings.  As a parent,  you will need to teach your child the words to respectfully express an emotion or feeling.

Acting out through aggressive, angry behavior is never an appropriate way to express feelings.  Sometimes, there is an underlying problem that a child is unable to express in words, such as fear, worry or pain. Look for the child’s hidden messages.

Because anger is one of the most poorly handled emotions in society, we will take a closer look.  Helping your child handle anger is one of your most important jobs as a parent and one that requires your ability to manage your own anger.

Anger is a very intense emotion that is triggered by an event or interaction between people.  It’s a primitive emotion and is usually a response to pain or fear.

As we saw earlier,  we are hard-wired with this emotion at birth.  It’s a self-defense response and its purpose is to defend or protect us from danger.  If not handled properly, anger can result in broken relationships and guilt.  It is often the basis for depression and anxiety.  It can cause physical illness.  Anger can cause more heartache and destruction in families than any other emotion.

We see anger inappropriately expressed in several ways:

  • Through body reactions, such as facial expressions, sweating, tears, tantrums, or loss of self-control
  • Through verbal expression by means of screaming, cursing, or arguing
  • Through physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, or throwing things
  • Through passive aggressive behaviors, such as uncooperative behavior, procrastination, forgetfulness, and stubbornness
  • Through depression, resulting in feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and suicidal thoughts

Families have different ways of expressing anger.  How was anger expressed in your childhood family?

Holding anger inside, or pretending that something doesn’t bother you can be very dangerous, resulting in depression,  dependence on drugs and alcohol,  eating disorders and health problems.  Heart attack, stroke, lowered immunity, or suicide are often attributed to suppressed anger.  In many families, the expression of anger was considered to be unacceptable, but we now know, that acknowledging and working through anger in appropriate ways, is better than keeping it inside.

Children, just like adults, can experience anger.  Below is a partial list of common causes for anger in children.

  • Moving
  • Feelings of being misunderstood
  • An overloaded schedule
  • Feelings of being ignored or unappreciated
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Repeated abuse or unjust treatment
  • Being forced to takes sides in a parental conflict

How can you help your child manage anger in positive ways?

  • Be a role model by expressing your own feelings in healthy ways.
  • Help your child identify his/her own feelings and provide words to express those feelings.
  • Be emotionally available to your child by spending time, using good eye-contact, touching, and focusing on your child’s needs.
  • Listen to what your child is saying.

As you listen attentively to your child, avoid

Denying his/her feelings. Example: “You don’t hate your teacher.”

Minimizing his/her feelings. Example:  “You’ll forget about it tomorrow.”

Talking him/her out of a certain feeling. Example: “There’s no such thing as a monster.”

Ignoring your child’s  feelings.

Reassure your child that he/she can say anything to you, but that it must be said with respect. It’s never appropriate to say mean and ugly words to you.  Give your child time to process his/her feelings and offer your child words to express those feelings.

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

Use the words sad, disappointed, and frustrated in the sentences below to express feelings in healthy ways.  The first one is done for you.

“I feel sad that my friend is moving away.”

“I feel disappointed_____________________________.”

“I can’t_______________________________________.  I am so frustrated!”

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

By giving your child words to express angry feelings,  you are training him/her to respond to emotions in healthy ways as he/she matures.

Below are some additional ways to manage anger in your family.

  • Be watchful at the first signs of anger.  Don’t wait too long to address it.  If too much time is allowed to pass, a person loses the desire to work through a conflict.
  • Plan ahead. Anticipate things that could create a conflict between you and your child and find a creative way to avoid them.
  • Allow yourself and your child to calm down before addressing an issue.
  • Speak calmly.
  • Be willing to ask forgiveness if you were too angry in dealing with a conflict.  Ask yourself, “Did I contribute to the problem by reacting in anger?”
  • Breathe and count to 10.
  • Exercise.
  • Encourage your child to write his/her feelings in a journal or draw a picture. This strategy is good for parents too.
  • Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom.
  • Seek help from a professional, if necessary.

Try Something New

Be an observer of your emotions and those of your child. Try to respond during stressful situations in a way that is calm and logical, rather than reactive. Think ahead.  Plan how you will respond in certain situations.

Verses for Encouragement

Learn how to manage your own anger so you can live the kind of life that pleases God.

James 1:20

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Maintain a calm voice with your child during stressful situations.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Work through conflict as soon as possible.  Don’t allow anger to control your life.

Ephesians 4:26

And don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Signs of Toxic People

There are people who we know who might be labeled toxic. How do you know if someone is toxic? How can you identify toxic behavior?

Toxic people have many traits in common. Most toxic behavior is designed to fill an emotional need. Toxic people have usually been through some type of trauma or neglect, and spend their energy trying to fill this seemingly insatiable need. Toxic people will manipulate people and situations to make themselves the focus of attention. If they do not receive the attention they so desperately need, the may become angry, sullen, or passive-aggressive.

Toxic people struggle to let others receive attention or accolades. This may be subtle or overt. They may take credit for a job well done or they may always have to have the last word or story.

Toxic people are usually controlling. They try to control every situation in order to steer the outcome in their favor, or make themselves look good. They fear giving control to another, knowing that their deep-rooted needs will not get met. They will use many different behaviors to control and manipulate a situation, even to the detriment of those that should come first, like their children, for instance. Toxic parents may manipulate their children so that they appear to be better parents than they really may be. Romans 16:17-18 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.”

Identify the toxic people in your life and learn how to establish boundaries with Isik’s downloadable guide.

It is important to realize that toxic people do not want to resolve an argument. They feed off of drama. They maintain power by keeping you emotionally off balance. If you interact with someone who continually drains you without resolution, it may be that you are dealing with a toxic person. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

What is the best way to handle toxic people? Establishing healthy boundaries with toxic people is crucial. Boundaries let others know what is expected and what behaviors will not be tolerated. Toxic people will have difficulty with boundaries, and most likely they will not respect them at first.  If a toxic person will not respect your boundaries, it may be that you need to cut all ties with them. Once they respect your boundaries, they can be allowed to interact with you again.