Definition: kingdom of God is not about rules and regulations and rituals; it’s about joy in the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 51:12 : “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
John 15:5-17 NLT—The vine and the branches
(Read the passage slowly a couple of times, taking note of parts that stand out to you personally, and re-read these parts again prayerfully, asking God to speak to you. With whom do you identify in this passage and what message do you sense God has for you? Take time to pray and then re-read the passage, repeating this pattern over and over thoughtfully. Take these thoughts with you throughout the day(s) and look for God at work in you. A more detailed description of this is provided in the introduction of this journal.)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”
Consider the Text
(You don’t have to do all the questions. Pick what resonates with you.)
- What part of this passage speaks to you?
- When you hear Jesus say, “Remain in Me,” what does that mean to you?
- How does being connected to Christ bring joy?
- What does Jesus mean when He says, “Remain in my love”?
- Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” How does the preceding description of the relationship between the vine and the branches impact your joy?
- What does it mean to have branches cut off that bear no fruit?
- What is the difference between learning about the vine and the branches as a concept versus learning about it as a way of life?
- What is the difference between feelings and faith regarding joy?
- How do joy and faith connect?
- What is the difference between joy that comes from letting Christ live through you and working hard to live the Christian life on your own?
- How does joy help you “love one another”?
- How does obedience result in joy?
Journal My Response
- How does gratitude (from last week’s theme) influence my joy?
- What are the benefits of having joy in my life?
- A childhood memory that I associate with joy is …
- When have I felt connected to Christ and His life-giving energy?
- When have I felt disconnected from Christ and noticed the lack of His strength in my life?
- What hinders me from being joyful, such as guilt and shame?
- Some specific times I would like to rely more on the joy of Christ within me are…
- Some people that come to mind as examples of living joyfully connected to Christ are…
- Who could I ask for support and encouragement to help me become a more joyful person?
- Today, I sensed God’s joy in me when…
- Ways I can have Christ’s words remain in me …
- Ways I can love others today as Christ loves me …
- How does my joy effect the view others have of God?
John 16:16-33; Romans 14:17; Philippians 1:25; Philippians 4:4
- Book: The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud
- Book: Outrageous Joy, by Patsy Clairmont, Barbara Johnson, et al (Call No. 242)
- Book: Splashes of Joy in the Cesspools of Life, by Barbara Johnson (Call No. 248.43)
- Book: Laugh Again – Experience Outrageous Joy, by Charles R. Swindoll (Call No. 248.46)
- Song: Joyful (The One Who Saves), by Brenton Brown (see video on our blog)
- Song: Joy Is In This Place, by Tim Hughes (see video on our blog)
Joy and My Bedroom Floor
My mom often teases me that she doesn’t believe my bedroom has a floor because it is covered with so much stuff. In all honesty, she’s right – sometimes, it can be very hard to see my bedroom floor. I think joy can be a lot like my bedroom floor. The Bible tells us that because of God’s promise that we will remain in His love if we follow His commands (to love God and love others), we will have complete joy in our lives – check out John 15:5-17, especially verses 9-11. However, our lives can often get crowded with rules, responsibilities, relationships or so many other things that we think will make us happy. Then just like the stuff in my bedroom makes it hard to find the floor, the things in our lives that are supposed to make us happy make it hard to find our joy.
When those things cover up the joy in our lives, we might think that we have no joy at all, but that’s not true. When my mom tells me that she doesn’t think I have a bedroom floor, I tell her to trust me, it’s there; and now I want to tell you that even if you don’t think there is joy in your life, if you have Christ in your life, trust me, it’s there! Maybe in order to find that joy you need to clean out your life (like I need to clean up my room), or maybe you just need to be reminded that you always have a reason to be joyful. The Bible promises that even if life is hard or sad, it won’t stay that way forever and we will still have joy in our lives – “Those who sow tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” Psalms 126:5-6.
There is one main difference between joy and my bedroom floor though. If I clean my bedroom so that you can see my floor, that doesn’t mean that it will spread to the rest of my house. If you walk down the hall to my brother’s bedroom you probably won’t be able to see his floor even if mine’s clean. However, joy is contagious. Have you ever tried to be sad around someone who is full of joy? It’s really hard to do. So I want to challenge you to find that joy in your life, hold onto it, and let it spread from you to others!
1) Take a piece of paper and hold it so it’s longer than it is tall. Fold it into four sections like the diagram provided, and then fold the outside two sections, so that they meet in the middle creating a door-like effect. Work together as a family to create a collage of all the things that make you happy on the outside of those doors (the last two panels folded together). Then open it and, in the inside, write out a bible verse or some sort of reminder for your family that no matter whether the things that make you happy are there or not, you will always have joy because of Christ’s presence in your life.
2) Have everyone in your family bring something to your kitchen table that makes them happy, and have them share why that thing makes them happy. After everyone has shared, ask them what it would feel like if they didn’t have that anymore (sad, angry, lonely, etc.). Then have everyone who can look up a Bible verse about joy (i.e. Psalms 97:11-12, 1 Peter 1:8, Psalm 68:3, John 16:22 or Romans 14:17) and talk about how you can always have joy in your life even if you lose the things that make you happy.
3) (For older kids) Go out as a family or one-on-one (parent with child/youth) and do something that makes the child/youth happy (e.g. swimming, shopping, movies, hockey game, etc.). If possible let the child/youth pick the activity. On the way home have a discussion about what gives each other joy and what it means to get our joy from Christ.
Family Challenge: SPREAD THE JOY
See if you can find ways to let joy become contagious in your house. You could write joy-filled notes and leave them in unusual places for your family members to find (e.g. notes in lunch boxes, messages written in lipstick on mirrors, sticky notes in closets). Try to include bible verses about joy and personal messages of encouragement. You could also try to do something for one another to spread joy. For example, I will be bringing joy to my mom by cleaning my room :). If you want an extreme challenge try to spread that same joy in your neighbourhood or community.