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Love, Joy, Peace

August 9, 2017

Love, Joy, PeaceA few weeks ago, I began a new meditation series, hosted by Oprah and Deepak. In this series, a recent meditation focused on bliss, which included the Centering Thought, “Joy is my highest purpose.” As I allowed myself to sit still and be, with the mantra, “Sat Chit Ananda” (Existence, consciousness, bliss), I contemplated how we live out our purpose in God’s kingdom.

We are given life by the Spirit, with freedom found and reflected in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

But, where does bliss fit in? Bliss isn’t mentioned. Happiness isn’t mentioned.

What is bliss? I believe bliss, a state of perfect happiness, is best experienced when we are bearing the fruit of love, joy and peace.

The Bible doesn’t say much about happiness, with only a handful of references; the most meaningful of which are found in Ecclesiastes, and the bottom line there is that happiness is meaningless. God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but there will be times that are hard, and happiness won’t be easily found. Pursuit of happiness is as useful as chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

Frankly, happiness shouldn’t be the goal.

The NIV translation includes only 26 references to “happy” and “happiness” combined, but there are 686 references to “love,” 242 references to “joy” and 249 references to “peace.”

In a 52-week study (which is taking me ~3 times as long) called The Joshua Code, the first three fruit of the Spirit are described as “a countenance that is obvious,” and I totally get that. I am as transparent as they come, completely lacking in guile. Although my facial expressions might not always be correctly interpreted, no one misreads me when I’m feeling well-centered in love, joy and peace. At those times, I am closest to bliss, and it shows.

I’m embracing the thought that in each moment of our lives we enjoy the opportunity to be intentional about our attitude. Happiness might be hard to self-induce, but we can certainly bring ourselves into a spiritual place where we feel peace and love, and joy becomes a likely companion.

If lost in other emotions, it’s worth noting, the best way to find this space is to turn away from judgment. In Romans, Paul advises us to stop passing judgment, for the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (Romans 14:13,17-18)

I’ve been practicing this discipline while I’m in traffic, while waiting in line, while waiting for a webpage to load, while waiting for the children to take action, etc. It’s amazing that by simply reminding myself, internally whispering and visualizing and feeling “love, joy, peace”, I’m calmer, I’m less aggravated by inconveniences, and I’m happier.

Yes, I am happier.

Have you experienced happiness as a result of love, joy and peace?

LORD, bless us with good fruit, helping us bear love, joy and peace, in all circumstances. Amen. 

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