The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy
(Philippians 4, Luke 15, John 15 & 16)
Introduction: Is life a little bit discouraging? You get up each day and go through the same routine. Then you go to bed. The next day you do it all over again. Sort of like a rat on a treadmill. Would you like a little more joy? Our lesson this week reveals how a Christian can have joy not only in everyday life, but also in difficult times. Let's jump right into our study and discover the Bible's secret to joy!
- Joy in Conflict?
- Read Philippians 4:2-3. What does this suggest is going on between these two women? Are they good people?(These are good Christians who simply disagree with each other. Paul wants them to stop the fight.)
- Read Philippians 4:4-5. Is there a connection between the dispute and Paul's next statement about rejoicing?
- If you say "yes," how can a person be in a dispute and still rejoice? (Some people have an evil attitude that enjoys conflict, but normal people do not like to be in a dispute. Something different is going on here.)
- If you say, "no," does this dispute at least illustrate that you cannot "always" rejoice? Is Paul suggesting the impossible?
- Last week we studied love and decided that we needed a lot of help to love certain people the way God suggests we should. Is joy or rejoicing all the time just like that - we need a lot of help with it?
- What does Paul's direction to rejoice "in the Lord" mean? What does it suggest for our discussion about rejoicing in difficult circumstances? (When our joy depends on humans, we have the problem of changes in their mood. When our joy comes from God, we have an unchanging Father who continually loves and cares for us. These two women had a common reason to rejoice - their relationship with God. So do we.)
- Sheep Joy
- Read Luke 15:3-6. Is the shepherd calling for a party?
- Read Luke 15:7. The picture is that God and His angels experience joy when we accept Jesus. If you were the lost sheep, how would you feel about being found?
- Compare the happiness of the sheep with the happiness of the shepherd? Who should be happier?(The shepherd has 99 other sheep. For him, that lost sheep is one percent of his concern. For the sheep itself, its own welfare is 100% of its concern. The sheep should be one hundred times happier than the shepherd.)
- How should that thought play into our joy in the Lord? (The mere fact that God saved us from eternal death and forgave our ugly sins should be a source for great joy!)
- Obedience Joy
- Read John 15:9-10. If we disobey God, does He stop loving us?
- If you say, "God always loves us regardless of our actions," what does He mean when He says "If" you obey, you will remain in my love? Isn't that clearly conditional?
- Read Matthew 7:21. Is obedience the key not only to God's love, but the key to the kingdom of heaven?
- Read Psalms 19:8. Do God's precepts (His rules) give joy to us even when we do not obey them?
- If not, does that mean that joy, like God's love, is conditional on obedience?
- Let's go back to John 15. Read John 15:10-11. It seems that God takes joy in our obedience to Him. How do we have complete joy in obedience? What about obedience gives us joy? (I'm coming to believe that the Bible is not so much a book about rewards for obedience, as it is a book revealing the secret laws of the universe. When Psalms 19:8 refers to "giving light to the eyes," it means we see something about the way the universe operates that we did not see before. God loves us even when we are sinners ( Romans 5:8). But, in His great love, God revealed to us the rules for better living. If we obey those rules we benefit from God's wisdom. Living better gives us joy. If we stray from the rules we suffer and that takes away our joy.)
- Let's continue reading what Jesus says about the relationship between obedience and heaven. Read Matthew 7:21-23. When I added the next two verses, it sounds like the people who are lost also had works. If obedience and works are not the key to the kingdom of heaven, what is?
- Let's continue with Jesus' essay by reading Matthew 7:24-27. What relationship do we find between obedience and better living? (This is another example of my secret rule book theory. If works can save us, those who performed miracles and drove out demons should have been saved. Instead, the person who survived and thrived is the one who understands the principle of building on a proper foundation. The person who knew that secret, and used that knowledge, was able to withstand the storms of life.)
- Destination Joy
- Read John 16:16-18. Do you understand what Jesus' disciples did not understand? (That Jesus was going to leave them, but that He would come back to see them after His crucifixion.)
- Read John 16:19-24. Jesus mentions joy several times in these verses. As you consider the context, what is a source of joy for you today? (Just as the disciples would have joy in Jesus' resurrection, so we can have joy in the fact that Jesus has overcome sin on our behalf.)
- Read John 16:33. In the prior section, I suggested that obedience to God's secret rule book gives us a better life. Does this text show that I am wrong? (The disciples were heading for unavoidable trouble and we will have trouble in our life. Following God's rules not only helps to keep us out of unnecessary trouble, but when we get into necessary trouble, the knowledge that Jesus has defeated sin is the source of both joy and hope.)
- Spirit Joy
- Our series is about the Fruit of the Spirit. We have not said a word about the relationship of the Holy Spirit to joy. Let's explore that. Read Galatians 5:22-25. Is the sinful nature opposed to joy? How does the Holy Spirit help us to have joy? (The suggestion is that sinful passions and desires are contrary to a Spirit led life. They lead to trouble.)
- Is that how we experience joy in the Holy Spirit - because we are released from sinful passions and desires?
- Read Acts 2:28. We have a reference here to God's secret rule book of life, but we also are told that God's presence brings us joy. How can we come into the presence of God? (This is the Holy Spirit. God's spirit can be everywhere - which allows you to live in the presence of God. This text (quoting David) links God's presence and knowing and following "the paths of light" - God's secret rule book.)
- Read Acts 8:6-8. By whose power were the people healed? How is this joy connected with the presence of God? (Philip healed through the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit to help us with the problems of life brings joy.)
- Read Acts 13:49-52. Have you ever been asked to leave? Have you ever been tossed out of a city, church or home?
- Would you say that you were happy about it?
- The text says the disciples were filled with joy "and" with the Holy Spirit. Why are they joyful about getting booted out? What has that to do with the Holy Spirit? (Normally, we do not take joy in rejection. However, the presence of God reassured the disciples that they were doing the right thing. That gave them joy.)
- Friend, would you like more joy in your life? I'm sure you would. Why not increase your joy by asking the Holy Spirit to come into your life and lead your thoughts and actions into obedience to God?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace.