Welcome to week four of our Renew Your Mind Challenge! I am so glad you have joined us! In this 13-week challenge, I am sharing with you the single most life-changing truth I have personally discovered.
I will update the links below as I post them.
1. Back to the Beginning
2. Fix Your Mind
3. Accepting His Love
4. Love Into Joy
5. Joy Into Peace
6. Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness
9. Overcome Evil With Good
I used to be depressed, needy, easily offended, anxious, stressed – the list goes on. Now I am happy, fulfilled, and at peace. I discovered the answer at 29 years of age. The secret to happiness lies in your inner response to life: perceptions, intentions, feelings, thought patterns, beliefs. Come along with me and let your faith come alive to you in a new way – a way that will change everything. Each week, we will focus on one small yet powerful action we can take to change our inner life, and renew ourselves into the love of God.
Last week we focused on “finding ourselves,” as they say, in the love of God. We focused on learning to see ourselves as one with this love, even in situations where our self-image is challenged.
The Bible says “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” The fruits of the Spirit are a description of what we look like when God is inside us.
There is a reason that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. Everything begins with love. The Bible says that God IS love. Let that sink in. To be “saved,” “born again,” “sanctified,” IS to become one with GOD who is LOVE.
Everything – absolutely everything in life – must flow out of love. That’s why we have spent the last two weeks thinking and speaking thoughts of love. We have received God’s love, and learned to be one with it, to respond out of it.
I believe that each gift of the Spirit flows out of the one before it. Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit, and it flows naturally out of love. Every person’s deepest need is for love. When that need is met, the result is that we are happy, content, fulfilled, and satisfied.
In John 15:9-12 Jesus says:
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. [there’s that one-ness we’ve been talking about and practicing.] 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. [Italics mine]
We see here the connection between “remaining,” or as other translations say, “abiding” in God’s love, and being filled with joy. We are told that the joy of those who obey Jesus’s commandment will overflow. And what is his commandment? To love each other in the same way he loved us – that means complete and total love and forgiveness, in every situation, in every circumstance. The connection between love and joy could not be more obvious.
This, right here, is the truth that changed my life. This is the answer to depression that the world is so desperately speaking. Speaking as someone who spent half my life depressed – as someone who came close to suicide and who dealt with suicidal thoughts both as a teenager and later as a young mom with children, I can honestly say that this is the answer that set me free. Depression can’t hold a candle to the love of God. The problem is that most people don’t truly believe, or feel, or grasp the love of God, even if they say they do. When you really get ahold of this – when your life becomes one with this reality – that you are loved….I mean You. Are. LOVED. LOVED! – Joy floods in and the darkness doesn’t stand a chance.
The challenge this week is to let your love flow into joy. Continue thinking thoughts of the love of God. When you feel depressed and discouraged, overwhelmed, stressed, or fearful, first do what we’ve already learned. It’s the most important step. Say to yourself “I’m loved with an everlasting love.” “God loves me with an infinite ocean of love.” “I AM LOVED more than I can begin to comprehend.” “God’s love is in me. I am one with his love.”
Let that love overflow into joy. First feel that satisfaction in the ocean of God’s love inside your heart. Then, let it make you happy. Let it make you happy until you’re giddy, until you feel like you’re going to burst, until you’re crying happy tears. Tell yourself “I’m full of the joy!” “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” “I’m overflowing with joy!” “I am loved and that makes me deeply happy!” Say it a thousand times a day, in every situation that comes your way. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Say it until you believe it; say it until it’s real. Say it until you can’t contain it. Say it until your normal pattern of thoughts change and joy becomes your natural heart response.
Week Four Challenge: Let your one-ness with the love of God fill you up and make you deeply happy. Think thoughts of joy all day long, but especially in life’s challenging situations.