Deployment had finally come to an end. We were standing with a large crowd at the local armory, waiting for the buses that would be bringing the soldiers home. The street in front of the armory was lined with school children and adults, all waving flags, flowers and shouting greetings. The wait seemed forever! We knew they were getting close to arriving when we could hear the first shouts from farther away, where the line began. Soon we could see them, and it was only a minute until the first busload pulled into the parking lot. Everyone surged forward, trying to see if their loved one was getting off. The happiness radiated from everyone. Daddy, husband, son, brother and uncle had finally come home.
The following Sunday everyone gathered at Mom and Dad’s house for dinner–the children were anxious to get the eating finished so they could play. We just wanted to revel in the joy of having our son home again. We got a chuckle from learning that the next to youngest, about a year and half, had kept looking at the computer screen and then back at her “Papa.” They realized she was trying to figure out how he could have come out of the computer and was in the room with her! It was heartfelt joy deep inside to have him home again.
Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is deep within you, something that cannot be taken away easily because it means you are part of something bigger than life: perhaps it’s your family, your school, a team, a marriage, becoming a parent, becoming a child of God. Joy is still there when happiness, which is often transient, comes and goes. We’re so happy with that new car–for awhile! Once the newness wears off (and we see one every block we travel, although we had never noticed them before), we’re ready for another “new” one. Money brings happiness for awhile, but it goes away once the money is gone.
This past Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, Pastor Jonathan Falwell preached on Making Room For Joy. Get your notebook, a friend or group (or family), or sit by yourself in comfort and watch the sermon by clicking on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and selecting the service for November 13, 2016. If you have time, join in the song service prior to the sermon. Have your notebook ready to take notes, and then do the sermon study below. Do it as fast or as slowly as you desire; make it last the week, or do it all in one sitting. However you choose, know that the time spent studying God’s word will enrich your life, and bring you more “joy” than you’ve had!
Joy is heart-felt, deep inside us, even though we may be in circumstances that seem to be overpowering us. Can you think of one thing that robbed your joy this week? Did you do one thing that brought you joy this week? Get your notebook and write down thoughts as they come to your mind.
This week we are going to look at what is takes to make room for joy. Joy does not happen by accident, but through actions. Neither is it “happiness,” since happiness is usually passing, and not eternal. Let’s look at what it looks like, and how we get it.
Focal Passage: Galatians 5:13-26
Think About or Discuss:
To Serve in love
- In verse 13, what admonition does Paul give the believers? You have freedom in Christ, but how are you to use that freedom? What does this mean to you personally?
- Read Philippians 2:3,4. What is Paul saying in this verse?
QUESTION: What can you do for someone today that will put a genuine smile on their face?
To Speak in love
- What are you warned of in verse 15? Do you remember the word picture Pastor Jonathan explained for “biting, devouring, and destroying”? (Hint: wild animals attacking; see end of “Close”).
- If you are saturated with concern about the world and its impact on you, what room will you have for joy? Why?
- Who was Paul writing to? Why did he need to warn believers to stop these practices (verse 15)?
QUESTION: What can you say to someone today that will encourage them, or lift their spirits?
To Act in love
- What are the fruits of the Spirit? How do you get these to grow in your life? How does that example apply to a tree that should bring forth fruit?
- How can you practice doing the right thing, even when your flesh desires to take over or get even? Why will this become easier each time you do this?
- Read verses 19-21. Do you want a life like that? Yet it is a perfect definition of today’s world. What does verse 24 tell you?
QUESTION: How can you change your actions today to show the fruits of the Spirit to others?
To Reflect Christ in love
- Read 1 Peter 2:21. Whose example are you to follow? Why is the saying “What would Jesus do?” still very pertinent?
It is incredibly difficult to put the trials and pressures of the world out of your mind so that they do not take away the joy you have. Think about, discuss, or write down one word examples of things the world cannot take from you (for instance, your salvation). The fruits of the Spirit are easy to quote, but very hard to put into practice, yet they should be something produced in you effortlessly as you become more like Christ. Real joy will come when your personal desires are at war with doing what is right, and you stop, take a breath, then do the right thing. Those small victories will come more often, and grow into habits. Pray that the joy of Christ would be abiding in you, and that you would be used to pass it on to others this week.
Memory Verse: Galatians 5:14: “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Focal Passages: Galatians 5:13-26; Phil. 2:3, 4; 1 Peter 2:21.
The word picture for “biting, devouring, and destroying” (verse 15) was the scenario of wild animals attacking each other until one was killed, then eating it. Another famous example of the original language used here was two snakes that fought until each had the other’s tail in its mouth, devouring each other until nothing was left except a “hoop.” They were eventually knocked loose by a stick, revived, and were killed. (Silas C. Turnbo, The Turnbo Manuscripts). No Christian should grieve the heart of God by acting in this manner!
Further study on Question 1: Romans 6.
Have a blessed week in Christ!