Tuesday, February 5, 2013

JOY -- Pearce Doesn't Like My Cheering for Him -- Go BOOO!!!!

Have you ever been blessed with your own cheerleader? I was a cheerleader in elementary, middle school and high school. As a matter of fact, my base is now my doctor. I was a flyer because I was a rail! I had tons of energy as you can imagine. I bounced up and down the sidelines. I yelled my head off, and after the game, I still had energy to spare. I was cheering for my team. I couldn’t just turn it off after we won or loss. If we won there was the afterglow of victory. If we loss then there were players to encourage. But as I grew older, I stopped cheering. I mean I don’t walk around in a cheerleading uniform around my home. That would just be ridiculous…funny, but ridiculous. I didn’t think I’d ever cheer again, but I was wrong. When my three year old daughter stepped onto the soccer field for the first time to play the first game, I was on my feet cheering, and she was grinning. I mortify Pearce, but Erin loved it. I think Pearce is mortified because I sometimes yell out his pet name that I’ve been told is so uncool. I love cheering for my kids. I love to encourage them. Get out there and mix it up, girl! What does that mean, momma? Just do your best. Go Erin!

There’s a lady in my life who has been a constant source of encouragement. She not only encourages me, but she also encourages those who cross her path, her life and her heart. Mrs. Lavahn’s spiritual gift is encouragement, and what I’ve learned by watching her over the years is that she exercises her gift from a great source of joy. She loves encouraging others and cheering them on and cheering them up. Have you ever seen anyone try to give a pep talk or encourage someone else when they didn’t have joy themselves? In order to effectively encourage others there has to be a source of joy. Can you imagine Eeyore the down-trodden, sad little donkey from Winnie the Pooh trying to encourage someone?

Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

When I started studying the fruit of the Spirit in order to discuss it with my Bible study group, I sort of got disinterested. I told I God I really needed to study this material, but it just wasn’t holding my interest. I needed help in studying it. I needed God to show me a way to study the fruit of the Spirit that would keep my ADHD self interested. Y’all, I try to be as transparent and real as I can, and that’s the way it was. You know what’s good about God, He knows our hearts (and sometimes that's the bad thing about God – I’d like to keep the bad stuff hidden). He knew the intent of my heart. He knew the desire of my heart, so God blessed me. He led me to read Acts. I wasn’t really sure how the two fit together, but they fit together like a GLOVE! How cool is that?! As I started studying Acts, I saw the early Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit. Who gives the fruit? The Holy Spirit. As I weaved my way through history and through the characters in this book, God showed me how these early-Christians, full of the Holy Spirit, had the fruit, the good stuff. Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as others. I had to dig, but I’m not afraid to dig. Today’s fruit is joy, and I knew immediately which Christian would represent joy but wasn’t sure how, and that’s when God led me to the very last verse in Acts 13…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Barnabas’ given name was Joseph, but the early Christians changed his name to Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.” He is the son of a heavenly Father who is filled with the Holy Spirit who is brimming over with joy and encouragement. He didn’t cheer on a team at a time. Barnabas encouraged small groups through teaching or prophesying, and Barnabas encouraged individuals one at a time as they had need. His joy and encouragement helped to bring healing and restoration to relationships.

For example, after Saul was blinded, confronted by Jesus, healed and then converted to become a Christian, the Christians were reticent to accept him and with good reason. I mean this guy is the one who tortured Christians. He watched Stephen be stoned and approved it! Barnabas was the one who came on Saul’s behalf, and because of his willingness to encourage his brothers in Christ to accept Saul, Saul was able to receive much needed instruction into the occurrences of Jesus’ life and what Jesus had told the disciples. Another time in Acts, John Mark was traveling with Barnabas and Saul, and for some unknown reason, John called it quits and left. He went back home. When Barnabas and Saul left to go on another mission trip, Barnabas wanted to include John, but Paul said no. Later on in Paul’s writing he writes that John Mark’s ministry in the church was good. Somewhere along the way, there was reconciliation. This is the Spirit of Joy. Barnabas didn’t give up.

Then in Acts 13:52, And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost (KJV). In order to encourage another person it comes from a source of joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is different from happy. Joy comes from a source that never runs dry. Joy can be found in the most difficult of times and in the most difficult of situations. Joy is not dependent on what you have or don’t have. Joy doesn’t depend on who is or is not in your life. Joy is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit. Get you some joy today!

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