We all know it is the easiest to have joy on a perfect day. On those days when the sun is shining bright, the house is clean, there’s money in the bank, a vacation is coming, relationships are steady and fun, and the world is as it should be, joy flows easily. It would be no surprise to find someone delighting in God on a perfect day, but what about the not-so-perfect days? Have you ever delighted in God when the world is falling apart around you? If so, people probably noticed and wondered where that joy was coming from.
JOY: Delighting in God in all circumstances
MEMORY VERSE: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
This Week’s Finish Line: Because Jesus paid it all, I can be a joyful example for others!
Paul is a key player in the New Testament, and he even wrote most of it. In Acts 16:22-34, we see Paul and his friend Silas live out true joy in the midst of a truly terrible day. We talked this week about the example Paul and Silas set for others (believers and non-believers alike), and how we can live in joy too, because Jesus has gone before us. Paul and Silas were so confident in who God is, that they continued to praise God (out loud!) through songs and hymns even when they were beaten and put into prison. God didn’t promise to rescue them from the prison, but He did. In the meantime, the jailer and his whole family came to know Christ because they were attracted to the steadfast joy of Christ’s followers! Amazing!
- Read Acts 16:22-34. If you were the jailer or one of the other prisoners, what would you have thought of Paul and Silas and how they were acting?
- What happened in the middle of the night?
- God used Paul and Silas to save the jailer twice. What were the 2 ways?
- How can you tell the jailer had real joy from the Lord? What did he do for Paul and Silas?
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TEACHER: Shining Bright
At dinner this week, read Philippians 2:14-18 (also written by Paul) together. Light a candle in the middle of the table, and notice how brightly it shines- especially in the dark. Re-read verse 15, and discuss ways you can shine as a light in the world by being a joyful example to others.
FRIEND: Practice Joy
While driving in the car this week, have everyone list something that brings them joy! It can be as simple as a pretty day to play outside, or spending time with a best friend, singing a fun song, or riding a bike. God is joyful, and we can delight in Him! Find some fun songs to sing to in the car together, and make it extra silly. Add accents and voices to get everyone laughing.
COUNSELOR: Deep Joy
During bedtime this week, ask your child what some hard circumstances are that they might be facing. Can they have joy even now? Give some examples from your own life when being a joyful example seemed impossible. (These can be simple or complex, depending on your child’s age). Pray together for the joy of the Lord to be your strength, even in circumstances faced today.
COACH: Follow the Leader
One night this week, play a good old-fashioned game of follow the leader! Be sure everyone in the family (no matter how old or young!) gets to be the leader. Make it fun and silly. Discuss how important it is to pay attention to whose example we are following in life, and to be a joyful leader for others to follow!
Joy is both a gift from God and a response to the gifts of God. Thank God for being the ultimate source of your joy. Ask Him to help you remember who He is in the midst of even the most trying circumstances so that others can see His joy in you.
Next week we will start a new month and a new character trait: Love! We will look at Psalm 136 and how God loves us.
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