The Fruit of Joy

“I have drunken deep of joy,
And I will taste no other wine tonight.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

What is joy? One definition says it is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”, and that may be true, but perhaps this definition more closely defines happiness. Happiness and joy are both feelings and are often confused for each other. But they are two quite different feelings. To define joy and happiness, it is best to look at what causes them. Happiness is the result of externals, circumstances, events, people, places, and things. These things make us happy. But what causes joy? The source of joy is also external, but it resides deep within us. When we have joy, it springs from the core of our being, our soul.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

What is the Source of Joy?

Theopedia states joy is “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment and confidence and hope.” This sounds more like a spiritual quality rather than something we acquire from external entities or situations. It also sounds like it is long-lasting if not eternal. It is not a happy marriage, the birth of a child, a good job – those things make us happy, not necessarily joyful. There are people who have all these things and have no joy.

So where does joy come from? Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

The source of joy is rooted in the vine. Joy is abiding in the vine. When we are rooted to the vine, we are confident that life will be fine regardless of circumstances. We can even have joy amid struggles and troubles because we know that God is in control, everything about our lives is derived from the vine. Jesus is the “the real joy-giver”.

How Do I Get Joy?

How do we get to know someone? We spend time with them, talk to them. Communication is so important in building relationships, getting to know the other person. So, if joy comes from knowing Jesus who is the joy-giver, then we need to spend time getting to know him. That means reading the Bible, pouring over the Gospels. It means praying to the Father and it means meditating, spending quiet times with God.

Joy comes from a right relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. It is Jesus that gives us the right to be called children of God. Joy comes from believing that Jesus came to this earth to live and die and rise again for the forgiveness of sins. If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us and that is what makes for a close relationship with the Father and living in joy.

What Does the Fruit of Joy Look Like?

Love is an action word. I can say I love you, but I can’t say I joy you. Joy is a state of being. It is something we have or don’t have. But joy has its expression in how we live our lives before God and before men.

Rick Warren described joy thus, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in ever situation.”

Have you ever met one of these joyful people? This is that someone who can look into the face of adversity and say, “I know God is in control and whatever happens, he cares for me.” That’s what joy looks like.

The joyful person isn’t always happy, they might even have moments of despair and depression. David certainly had his moments, but he often rebounded from the depths with an “I praise God” ending to his Psalm.

Joy finds its expression in love – to live for others rather than self. Joy says, “I will do my best under ever circumstance.” Joy gives occasion for generosity.

Joy can look like thankfulness, confidence, assurance, generosity, love for others and doing the best we know how.

How does the Fruit of Joy look to you?

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Featured Character in Shrouds Over Eden: Salome by Helen Khan

We were able to connect with featured character, Salome in her home in Sardarpur. She graciously agreed to talk to us about her life. If you have read Shrouds Over Eden, then you would have first met her there. I’m looking forward to hearing from her.

Assisting me today is Alizeh Rasheed who is fluent in both Urdu and Punjabi, plus, she tells me, she also speaks several local dialects as well. She is my translator.


Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you and where do you live? Do you own your own home or rent?


I’m 27 years old and live at home with my parents in a small town called Sardarpur. I have a brother and two sisters. I used to be married but not anymore and I don’t have any children.


Are you divorced or did your husband pass away?


I am separated from my husband. It is not easy for a woman to get divorced here, especially a Christian woman. My father asked his friend who is a lawyer about getting a divorce for me. He said, at one time that would have been possible, but one of our former presidents changed the Christian Divorce Act. The government is currently changing the act to include violence but it will be a long time before it happens. Besides, maybe my husband will change some day and I can go back to him.


Who is the most important person in your life? And why?


The most important person in my life is my father. He has been my biggest support through all my difficulties, with my ex-husband and with my illness.


What is your greatest fear?


I’m afraid to eat. Eating is very painful for me as my esophagus is damaged.


What happened to you?


I don’t like to talk much about it, but I did it to myself. I was so depressed about my mom and sisters calling me names because I am not with my abusive husband. My mother is ashamed of me and couldn’t face people in the community, so she started to verbally abuse me, as did my sisters. All of this made me depressed so one day I drank Sweep. The acid burned my esophagus and stomach. But my father found me and rushed me to the hospital and now I am alive.


Who is the person you respect the most, and why?


My father, because he loves me and he has supported me through everything. He is a very special father, especially in my culture where fathers don’t love their daughters the way my father does. Most men want sons, not daughters, so my father is an exception.


How do you measure success?


Success would be having enough money to pay off all our debt.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?


Perfect happiness would be to be married to a good man and to have sons.


Do you work outside the home? What is your occupation?


I work in people’s homes, cleaning and doing laundry and other chores. I am not educated so the only job I can get is cleaning.


What quality do you like most in a man?


Kindness in a man. And hard working. I wish all men were like my father.


What or who is your greatest love of your life?


God is my greatest love. I spend a lot of time reading his Word. I wanted to know so much about him that I learned to read by myself, even though I am not educated. Not everyone in my family believes the way I do. Black magic is commonly practiced here among women. They feel it gives them power. I get my power from God. He saved me from trying to kill myself.


And my last question, is a fun question. What is your favourite colour?


I like red colours, bright reds.

Thank you, Salome, for the wonderful interview. I know you were nervous at first because your interview will go all over the world. But you did very well, and I am so delighted to have been able to interview you today. If any of you readers would like to read Salome’s story, click here to preview and purchase Helen Khan’s book Shrouds Over Eden.

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The Wholeness Of God by Michael Furlonger

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With this coronavirus outbreak, most churches have been closed down. Fortunately, thanks to technology, we are still able to chat and share scripture. Last Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing with my small church group. The topic that I chose to share on, which I feel is very neglected, is the wholeness of God.

The reason this topic is so important is that we don’t know God. And what’s worse, I fear that we don’t want God. So I shared how there is one God of three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And when we make little of one, often the (angry) Father God of the Old Testament, we make little of all.

First off, Who Is God?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (Deut. 6:4-6)

“I (Jesus Christ) and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…” (John 14:26)

I’ve just connected the three persons of the God-head. God says, “I am one God” in Deuteronomy (Law). Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” in the gospels. And the Holy Spirit is a promise, Jesus says, that cannot work apart from God the Father or God the Son.

Early on, my faith was wrong.
Growing up, I was given this very inaccurate view of God. The mean God of the Old Testament with all of his rules and punishment. Jesus Christ says, “NO!!” and comes to earth to satisfy this big meany. And the Holy Spirit is kind of this random guy who helps us do party tricks.

For nearly a decade, I went to a church where your “spirituality” was all about emotions. People standing up to say, “I felt God say to me…” or “I felt the Holy Spirit…” And it left me as a spiritual orphan because I didn’t get these great emotional reactions.

If you have spiritual gifts, such as tongues or prophetics, I’m not criticizing. What I am saying is that if your “gifts” are contrary to the Word of God, you are in error.

If I pray, “God, I really want to cheat on my wife with my hair dresser,” I am in error. Imagine the next day, my wife gets informed that she has to leave for work for a month. Should I take this as a sign from above that God approves? No. This IS NOT God giving me permission. God’s Word is sovereign over all. God’s Word says, “You shall not commit adultery.” It’s confirmed.

The Father

Now, we are called to love God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. So I must mention another part of the wholeness of God. That is that God is Just. As opposed to modern day’s perversion of justice in our courts and politics who show favouritism as they deem worthy, God does not. So, we too, must love justice.

Deuteronomy 16:19-20 says, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Psalm 50:6 reads, “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.”

This, my friend, is very good news. God will not change his rules in the middle of the game. So if God told the Israelites in the desert not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to covet and not to steal then…

Than we are commanded not to do such things now.

As God is leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses warns them in Deuteronomy 9:4, “After the Lord your God has driven the people out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.”

So, we are seeing how God is calling on the people Israel, through the law, to be different than the other nations. And we are called to be different as well. Let us not be deceived by saying, “This doesn’t apply to us under the new covenant.” When tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus quoted law.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:143-16)

I’m sharing all of this with you because I want us to know God. I asked a men’s group a couple weeks ago that if we didn’t have God to answer our prayers, would we want him at all? What I meant was that, so often, we fill our prayers with petitions and supplications: “Lord, I need this job, this car, this house, strengthen my marriage, strengthen my friendship, health, wealth, happiness, etc.” But if we only had God as our righteousness and eternal life, for which we were created, would we want him at all? Sadly, I fear the answer for far too many is no.

I feel like this question went right over people’s heads. So let me tell you a story.

You know, my dad wasn’t around very much growing up. It’s wasn’t like he was an absent father, it’s just that he would leave for work early in the morning and get home from work after I was asleep. I would try to stay awake to see him, but I couldn’t.

We didn’t have a whole lot of “extra” things. One year, he bought my brother, sister and I suitcases. No vacation. Just used suitcases from a swap-meet in town. Now, albeit, the small green suitcase was perfect for taking my Super Nintendo to friends’ houses. But that was by chance, not design.

Do you think that my dad didn’t love me? Of course, he did. We always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our back.

This is what I meant. If God didn’t give you every whim and desire, would you still want him. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul…”

The fact is that we are imperfect, and we do sin. In God’s holiness, he cannot allow us in his presence as we are. God’s holy law demanded a sacrifice. However, the Israelites thought it was them making the sacrifice, when, in fact, it was God making the sacrifice. Ever since the Garden of Eden, it has been a holy and loving God making the sacrifice to cover our shame and forgiving us our sins.

The Son

Hebrews 1:3 reads, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

As we know, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins. His death on the cross satisfied the law, the justice of God. However, sadly, I fear that the grace shown to us on the cross has been used as a liberty to sin. My friends, until we know the true freedom from sin, we may never know the true beauty of God.

Jesus is the “Exact representation of his being.” 

John 1:1 & 14 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

I’m trying to point out that God loves us. He always has loved us, always will love us but remember that God is also filled with justice. And he gave us law. Imagine if there were no speed limits on the side of the road, and everyday a police officer pulled you over for speeding. You would say, “This is unfair.”

  • First John 2:1 reads, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
  • First John 3:4 reads, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
  • Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.”

Jude 1:4 reads that there are “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

Remember that Jesus Christ brings us back to union with God the Father. Perhaps the greatest sermon of all time, The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5-7, covers the entirety of the law in 21 minutes. And, in John 17:3, while Jesus is praying says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

The Holy Spirit

Now, the Holy Spirit, I believe has been completely disrepected. A lot of people want and do express external gifts of the Spirit, which I’m not discrediting. What I want to discuss is what Jesus warned about false prophets in Matthew 7:15-16, he says, “By their fruits you will recognize them.”

In John 16:8-11 Jesus said, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

Galatians 5:22-25 gives a further understanding of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galations 5:22-25)

Galatians 5:23 says, “Against such things there is no law.”

Do you see what Apostle Paul just did? He took us back to Moses in Deuteronomy. He is saying that there is no law telling us not to be loving, not to be joyful, not to be kind, to be good, gentle and so on. People love to say that they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but if you are purposefully living in sin, you are living in contradiction to the Spirit.

When King David was confronted by Nathan the prophet for sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband to hide his disgrace, he wrote Psalm 51. In verse 11, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” He recognizes that something was missing because he didn’t recognize his sin. He was missing the discernment of the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 14:17, it says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”

I’m not trying to disregard any of the spiritual gifts that people have. I just want to encourage us to seek out the holiness of God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” They will testify to the great things they have done in the name of Jesus, but in the end, Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”

Be encouraged

I encourage us to seek out God through His Word. Let’s not feel condemned because we lack a constant emotional reaction. Let’s pray for a filling of the Holy Spirit to give us knowledge to read the law.

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Runaway by Helen Khan

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139: 7

As a child, most of us have, at least, threatened to run away from home. Things don’t go right; either Mom or Dad says you can’t do this or that; or you got disciplined for something that you did wrong. At the not-so-mature age of eight, you make the big announcement, “I’m going to run away from home.” You expect Mom and Dad to crumble and beg you to stay but they don’t. You pack a little bag, make it as far as the end of the yard and head back home. Going out on our own can be a scary thing.

Now I just described a rather normal, mild case of running away. But for some, they wish they could really run away, or maybe they do because life at home is painful. Maybe parents are abusive, neglectful or dysfunctional. Maybe your spouse is violent, controlling and jealously watches your every move. Life is volatile and you just want to escape a harsh dominating overseer. So, you run away, or try to run away. But where do you go? Life gives no easy roads for you.

So when you read the verse above; if you have been watched, dominated and controlled at every moment of your life, the idea of a God that watches over you where you cannot escape his presence, might not fill you with joy. It might even be an unbearable idea.

So when you read the verse above; if you have been watched, dominated and controlled at every moment of your life, the idea of a God that watches over you where you cannot escape his presence, might not fill you with joy. It might even be an unbearable idea.

God is not man. He doesn’t think like man, there is no comparison. A harsh earthly father doesn’t equate to God. A violent controlling husband is not the bridegroom of heaven. They don’t compare.

I would like to share an image from a book in the Bible called Hosea. This image of God embraces me and quietens my heart. God says that even though his child Israel went away from him, he loved him, he called him. It was God that taught him how to walk, took him in his arms and healed him. He gives us an image of a father lifting his child to his cheek and then bending down to feed him. He looked after him with cords of human kindness. All this to a son who wasn’t perfect! Unconditional love. All of us could do with a bit more of that kind of love!

For me, I don’t want to run away from this kind of Spirit. And even if I could, the Psalmist says I can’t flee from it, because it is always present. He knows where I am all the time. Furthermore, if the God that is described in Hosea exists and I believe he does; I want that kind of God with me all the time. I don’t want to go from his Spirit. In fact, I want more of it.

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