But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23 (TLB)
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:16-18
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:11
Your attitude should be the same that Jesus Christ had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the JOY He knew would be His afterward. – Hebrews 12:1-2
As you reflect on the sermon on the Fruit of the Spirit, Joy, what are a couple key points that hit home with you? What new thoughts or convictions were triggered for you?
GROUP INTERACTION – INVITE
How did you practically put love into action since we last met? Does practically and intentionally loving others help you experience God’s love in a deeper way? How?
What are some relationships, hobbies, events, activities, etc. that bring you happiness?
TEXT – OBSERVE
While joy and happiness are fundamentally connected, they are not the same thing. Happiness, by definition, is a feeling of wellbeing. Joy is that same feeling of wellbeing regardless of what we’re going through. You could say joy contains happiness, but is bigger than that. Joy is rooted to eternal truths and promises of Christ, not restricted, or constrained, by our circumstances.
Read Philippians 4:4-20
(Note: The text for this passage is printed below, however, as a practice, bring your Bible to your meeting. You’ll want to mark it up with notes, highlighting, underlining, and make it a useful resource.)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
Joy Changes Our Perspective
Joy has a powerful ability to shape how we think.
Gratitude. Being thankful opens our eyes to joy. When we are intentional about gratitude, we receive the gift of “eyes to see” beneath the surface to what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Philippians 4:8)
Think about the Biblical principle of reaping and sowing. If we sow critical and negative thoughts, foster bitterness, find things wrong instead of finding things right, brush off the little graces or fail to celebrate successes, then guess what kind of person we become? We either get bitter or we get better as we go through life. Gratitude helps us get better. Sow thoughts and words of gratitude and find yourself delighted by the smallest things and never taking the important things for granted.
Suffering. Louisa May Alcott said, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” None of us take the step from happiness to joy without a trial. To “take heart” is to strengthen our soul with the unchanging truth that joy is not found in the lack of bad situations, but in how God redeems them.
In prison, Paul found his identity, his sense of peace,
his purpose, and his future tied up in what Christ had accomplished for him on the cross. The only thing he wanted for was the resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). He even mentioned in Philippians 4:12 that, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Paul’s strength was in the joy he found in knowing Christ.
He ultimately understood God was doing something more meaningful in his life than his personal safety or comfort. He saw his time in jail as an opportunity to share Christ and a chance to write his friends in Philippi – the very reason we have this letter today!
Have you ever been through a season where joy was difficult? What helped you find joy during that time?
Does joy come easily or with difficulty for you?
Has joy ever changed your perspective on a situation? How so?
Recall a time when you had the joy of the Lord. How did it come about?
Is there a situation in your life where you need to take heart? Describe.
Pick a couple of these to live out being on mission every day:
- Start a gratitude list. See if you can get to 100 things. Choose to notice the little things.
- Find reasons to celebrate. Gather friends or family around the table.
- Visit a nursing home, or under-resourced school (check with our Outreach Ministries for partnerships available) and bring joy to the residents/students. Consider doing this with others from your group.