The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being the importance of love, peace, and joy.
The answer to why love, peace, and joy are so important to God is the eternity He is offering to those of us who willingly choose to be part of His family. He has planned heaven to be a place where everyone will be joyful for all eternity. This is only possible if everyone there is living the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." anything short of that would not be heaven. When we finally understand God's love, it brings us His peace, allowing us to experience His joy. This process leads us to live the fruit of the Spirit, every minute of every day. And, this is what He means when He tells us to abide, Jn 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." for without Him we can do nothing meaningful and are destined to be tossed to-and-fro by the sea of this unfaithful world, Eph 4:14, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
Before we can believe in Jesus, we must understand His love is unconditional, which He proved to us by willingly dying on a cross before we repented from our sins before we even knew He existed, Rom 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Since, He told us that no man can have greater love than to die for his friend, Jn 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." we learn He wants to be our friend, in addition to already loving us, and this leads us to love Him, 1 Jn 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us." Our love for Him leads us to accept Him as our Lord, not just our savior. He is all-powerful, loves us, and wants to be our friend. Where would we find a better Lord? This is why we believe in Him and how we can to keep His commandments, Rev 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Resting in His love and peace brings us the fulness of His joy, a joy that is not dependent on our circumstances, 1 Thes 5:18, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Here is an analogy to help us better understand the difference between God's peace and His joy. Picture yourself sitting around peacefully with your children. There are no arguments or strife to disturb this peace. If someone spills a drink on the carpet, no one is upset. Everyone does their part in cleaning it up, without incriminations, or even being asked, Matt 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Suddenly, you announce, "I got us tickets to Disneyland," and the calm, peaceful moment explodes into a jubilant celebration. It is a different kind of peace, a joyful peace; the announcement has changed everyone's focus from the calm of the evening to the trip's joy. Heaven will not only be a peaceful place; it will be an ever-increasingly joyful one. It is our focus that decides our experience, in this life and the next, and when we keep our eyes on Jesus, amazing things happen, Matt 14:29, "And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus." We can be peaceful and joyful in this life, even in prison, as Paul and Silas demonstrated, Acts 16:25, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." However, it is not what is happening in this life, but rather Jesus' resurrection, which guarantees the hope we will live joyfully with Him for all eternity, 1 Pet 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
As our belief in God builds, it will one day burst forth as thankfulness; demolishing our reluctance and demonstrating the joy of the Salvation He offers, 2 Thes 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” Once we stop believing the lies this world promulgates and learn that joy does not come from riches, power, sex, drugs, or rock'n'roll; but rather through His peace to His promise, Rom 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” we begin to live it.
Understanding what love is and finally believing He loves us unconditionally frees us from the lies that bind us. He calls us to love everyone, Matt 5:44, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" because there is no reward for loving only those who love us, Matt 5:46, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" This love He offers leads us to an eternity filled with an ever-increasing joy. Love without limits, a love without end.
What are we supposed to do with the concept of the eternity He has promised? What will we do with time without end? Won't the routine of it eventually turn to boredom? God has given us answers to all of our questions in the Bible, 2 Tim 3:16-17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." We just have to care enough to read and reason with it. For me, inertia was the biggest problem. The Bible is so big. However, when I decided to read 15 minutes a day, I finished it in one year. Of course, 30 years later, I am still reading and learning. I have come to understand this is how eternity works. First, we take it one day at a time, and eventually, we discover it is not meant to end. It is meant to be an ever-increasingly joyful experience. This is the gift He is offering, something our limited imaginations find difficult to grasp. An ever-increasing joy without end. Can we possibly deserve it? No, and that is the point. That is what makes it an ever-increasing joy. It is not about us earning or even receiving. It is about Him giving, Acts 20:35, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." When we get it, we begin to give to everyone we meet, an ever-increasing family, all in love with each other. This is God's love; selfless and eternal.
His joy is the full expression of His love. Once we feel His love, abide in it, surrender to it, we become peaceful, and it leads us to experience His joy, uninterrupted. This makes me think of something I have told many people. When my wife is in the room, I feel more peaceful and happier no matter what I am doing. Even when we are not talking. Even when we are doing our own activities. Just being in her presence is enough! That is what Jesus asks us to do, Jn 15:10-11, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." abide in Him and His love, with all of our soul, and with all of our mind, Matt 22:37, 39, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." And, for those of us who need it, Mk 10:21, "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." He gives us the advice we need to hear because we will not be able to follow Him without it, Jn 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
His peace is unique, Jn 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." He knows many of us will refuse His offer of peace, Lk 12:51, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:" He came to show us the path to His kingdom, and we are in the process of dividing ourselves into two groups, those who are with Him and those who are against Him, Matt 12:30, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." He has named these two groups, the sheep and the goats, Matt 25:32, "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:" In this life, we will choose which group we want to be in. However, He will eventually separate these groups, and only the sheep will live with Him for eternity, Matt 25:33-34, "And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" He asks us to open the door to our minds, Rev 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." so we can learn of His joy, Jn 17:13, "And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." I am praying for you!
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