“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” — 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (ESV)
Relationship with the Holy Spirit empowers us to live a lifestyle of consistent joy. It’s only by the filling of the Spirit that we have access to the deep reservoirs of joy found in the heart of our Heavenly Father. Galatians 5:22 is clear that the fruit of the Spirit for believers is to be joy, so as temples of the Holy Spirit we need to search out what it looks like to allow the fruit of joy to be evident in our hearts and lives.
Scripture is filled with direct connections between the filling of the Holy Spirit and joy. Romans 14:17 (ESV) says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 (ESV) says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” First Thessalonians 1:6-7 (ESV) says, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
We are not designed to have joy in ourselves. Rather, such joy comes by the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within us. As the disciples began to be filled with the Holy Spirit, their lives changed dramatically. They went from fearful, fair-weathered followers of Jesus to joy-filled, sacrificial and empowered world changers. They had joy in the midst of intense persecution because they had the Holy Spirit filling them with the fruits of His indwelling.
We have the same Holy Spirit the disciples had, and He longs to do the same kind of works in you and me today as He did in them thousands of years ago. He longs to fill us with joy in the midst of any trial or pain. He longs to heal and transform our hearts into greater reflections of God’s goodness. He longs to make us a people so joyful that there is no other explanation for our joy other than God is with us.
So, how do we allow the Spirit to bear the fruit of joy in our lives? How do we grow in our relationship with this mysterious part of the Godhead? It all starts with a posture of humility and prayer. The Holy Spirit never forces us into deeper relationship with Him. He is peaceful, powerful, loving and patient. You must make time to respond to His small tugs on your heart in order to walk in greater relationship with Him. You must humble yourself and ask for more of Him, whatever that looks like. Allow the truth of God’s love and faithfulness to cast out any fear or reservation about a lifestyle of total connection with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill you to overflowing today and guide you to a lifestyle of bearing the fruit of intimate relationship with Him.
The Spirit knows how to guide our hearts. He knows if we were made more introverted or extroverted. He knows if we were made more intuitive, pragmatic or logical. And He knows the perfect ways to guide us into deeper, more fruitful lives. Spend time allowing the Spirit to lead you into a life filled with more joy. Allow Him to speak to you and lead you in whatever ways He desires. And rest in His loving presence as you learn what it is to reach greater depths of relationship with Him.
— Craig Denison, First 15
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