Happy Sunday everyone!

Here is Day 4’s Devotional from our Italy retreat last month.


Day 4

I want to talk about the Holy Spirit and Joy.  Most of this devotional is adapted from John Piper’s devotional entitled “How do you define joy?”  He explains it like this… “Christian joy is a good feeling. By that, I mean it is not an idea. It is not a conviction. It is not a persuasion or a decision. It is a feeling… Or an emotion. One of the marks of the difference between an idea and an emotion or feeling is that you don’t have immediate control over your feelings or your emotions. You can’t snap your fingers and decide to feel something.”  The Bible shows us that there are things required of us that in our own power we cannot immediately produce ourselves. We are fallen and sinful. And yet we know we should be feeling the emotions the Bible expects us to feel. Saint Augustine said it like this, “Father, command what you will  and grant what you command.” He knew God commanded certain emotions of him that he couldn’t make happen on his own. So he prayed, Oh God, if you are going to command me these things, grant that you would give them when you command them. I love this. Doesn’t this give us such HOPE?!

Joy is a feeling “in the soul”…  John Piper is drawing attention to the fact that it is not in the body. The soul, the immaterial part of my personhood, experiences joy. The body may feel the effects of that. I may get butterflies in the stomach. I may have a spring in my step. There may be tears of joy rolling down my face. None of those effects in my body, though, is itself joy. They are all distinct from joy. The feelings are movement OF the soul.  These movements of the soul are produced by the Holy Spirit, which is clear because I cannot make these things happen. They are called the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23 says: “The fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Therefore, the joy in our souls overflowing towards God is coming from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Holy Spirit does this work, not magically without our minds being engaged, but by causing us to see the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:1 says “Rejoice in the Lord.” How do you rejoice in the Lord if you don’t know anything about the Lord? How do you rejoice in the Lord if you are not seeing things about the Lord that cause joy to rise up in your heart? That is the work of the Holy Spirit! Thank you Jesus!  He doesn’t just flip a switch, and you rejoice with no mental content whatsoever. The Holy Spirit is given, according to John 16:14, to glorify Jesus Christ, which means the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to see the beauty of Christ.   When we see Christ in all that He is doing, and all that He is, then our hearts are drawn out in JOY towards Him.

The last piece is that we see Him in His Word and in the world. It is obvious that the most authoritative and clearest place where we see the beauty of Christ is in His Word, the Bible. That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Word, so that we could read the Word and know Christ. The Spirit gives us eyes to see the beauties of Jesus that call joy up out of our hearts.  It is not just in the Word that we see Christ though. We see him in His gifts and in His people. We see Him in His gifts of nature. We see Him in His gifts of food, and in all of the good things that our Father in heaven gives to us. Every gift of Christ to us is intended to be a communication of something of Himself. So we see Christ not only — we taste Christ not only — in his Word, but also in His works.  

Inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives is something we should do each day.  

Through prayer, praise & worship, or calling out His name, the Holy Spirit is there for us and will keep us focused on the path God has for us. I pray you will ask the Holy Spirit to direct your path today and we’ve learned His important role in our lives.

Here are some things to think about today and write in your journal:

  1. Think about the beauty of Jesus Christ as you look out at the beauty of His creation here in Italy today. (Or wherever you may be)

  2. Sketch what you see and thank Him for His revelation of the Holy Spirit in your life today.

Have a BLESSED day!