“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Welcome to week two! My prayer is that God blessed your family time in His Word seeking the truth about love last week.
So now we come to the second fruit of the Spirit: Joy.
One of the big focus points this week will be a quote I heard in a sermon recently:
“Happiness depends upon happenings, joy depends upon Jesus.”
The crux of this week will be teaching your children the difference between happiness and the abundant joy that Jesus offers us through The Holy Spirit.
- When things don’t go our way and we quickly resort to whining or complaining, then we aren’t fully grasping the joy available to us from the Holy Spirit.
- Kids struggle with this. Adults do too, for that matter! They want something now and if it isn’t given, they show you.
- How can we as parents guide our children into finding a deep abiding joy that is not changed by circumstances? It isn’t an overnight fix, but scripture is clear about how to address this heart condition.
- I will admit my youngest really struggles with this one. For several months now, we have been teaching her about how whining and complaining is sinful behavior and that it shows selfishness and a lack of thankfulness in our hearts. We have been consistent in discipline, but it is really taking time. This week, however, she made a profession of faith in Christ and decided to follow Him! She now has an opportunity not just to hear the truth about joy, but experience it! In fact, after she accepted Christ she could not contain her joy–the joy of her salvation!
PARENT OVERVIEW FOR THIS WEEK:
(Remember you can print these out by going here)
It is going to be really important that you read through each day’s lesson before going through it with your kids. This week, I tried to include verses that would speak to both younger and older kids. If you only have younger kids, read through them and discern which are best for their age and understanding. There are several verses this week that will be great discussion points for your pre-teens and teenagers. Make sure you prepare all the things needed for the activities before you begin them. It won’t take much work–I promise!
DAY ONE: Going on a Joy Hunt
- Cut out footprints from paper–big enough on which to write words and phrases. Need a stencil? Go here
- Make two 81/2 x 11 signs (see activity for specifics)
- Map out a way to make two paths in your home (see activity for specifics)
DAY TWO: Parable of the Hidden Treasure
- Make a sign with the word “chara” on one side and “charis” on the other side. You are going to show the similarity between Joy and Grace.
- Pick out an item that your kids REALLY love/want but belongs to you. You are going to hide it and they will have to find it.
DAY THREE: Matching Worksheet for Psalm 119 verses
- Print out a copy of the Psalm 119 matching worksheet for each child. You can get the worksheet here. It is included in the printout sheets for this week’s study.
DAY FOUR: Letters of Joy
- Write a letter to each child. You can divide and conquer–i.e. mom can write to one child and dad to another, etc. Tell your child why he/she brings you joy, giving praise to God as you write. Always acknowledge God’s involvement in the joy your child brings.
DAY FIVE: How Can God Use Me?
- Have several blank sheets of paper for your kids to either draw or write on and provide pens/crayons/markers.
DAY SIX: Refiners Fire OR When Life Gives you Lemons
- You will need several objects from around your house that are gold, silver, or glass. You must be able to see your reflection in one of the objects. You can use a small mirror!
- You will need all the fixins’ for lemonade. See link to recipe just below this sentence. (You can do this activity on a different day or do both activities on the same day).
FRUIT FOR THE WEEK: Either bananas or lemons. We are going to use lemons. I want to emphasize joy in the midst of our sour experiences in life. We are going to make lemonade, lemon bars, lemon poppyseed bread, etc.
Shape for the week: Circle (joy is eternal and unending. My oldest actually came up with that!
SEEDS THAT YOU WILL PLANT THIS WEEK:
- Lasting joy and satisfaction can not come from the things the world gives. God is our only true, lasting source of joy.
- When you experience happiness because of a yummy meal or a new car, etc. you can keep your heart focused on God by acknowledging Him and giving Him thanks.
- A thankful heart is a joyful heart.
- While we were sinners, Jesus took our punishment. We deserve separation from God, but God showed us favor we didn’t deserve because He loves us. That is the greatest reason for joy.
- The Bible is THE best written source for help when we need it, for comfort, for understanding God, for changing our lives, for giving us joy. It is God’s gift to us.
- We need to build solid friendships with other believers in Christ. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are very important to us. Their fellowship, help, encouragement, and shared experience will give even more joy on our journey with Christ.
- God has a purpose for you. Obey Him and watch what joy will come when He uses you for His Kingdom purpose.
- Christians suffer. The path we travel is not easy. But, as followers of Christ, we can have joy and hope in the midst of grief and suffering.
- Jesus suffered more than any of us will ever suffer. He knows our suffering. But he endured it for the joy of bringing us from death to life and having us with Him in heaven for eternity.
EVERY MORNING THIS WEEK GREET ONE ANOTHER BY SAYING:
Parent: “This is the Day the Lord has made”
Child: “I will rejoice and be glad in it”
DAY ONE: “What is Joy?” “Happiness vs. Joy”
Verse for the day: Psalm 28:7
Songs to Sing: “Rejoice in the Lord Always”, “This is the Day”
- Explain to your kids that the New Testament wasn’t originally written in English, but in a different language called Greek. (If you have older kids that already know this, ask them if they know the original language).
- The Greek word most commonly used for “joy” is “chara” (kahrah–with emphasis on the last syllable).
- Say “chara” together as a family.
- Chara translates: “joy, rejoicing, gladness, enjoyment, bliss”
- Have your kids create a hand motion or sign language that they think would represent joy. Do it together as a family and say the word “chara“.
- Use this motion everyday as you talk about joy.
- Who is the source of our joy? Where does joy come from?
SAY THESE TOGETHER AS A CHANT:
GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF JOY
JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF JOY
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE GIVER OF JOY
ACTIVITY: “Going on a Joy Hunt” (Pieces of paper cut into footprint shapes or rectangles in two different colors, two larger 8.5×11 signs, tape, Marker. Need a stencil for the footprints? You can find them here.)
You are going to make two pathways in your home. One set of colored footprints will lead to a sign that reads “TEMPORARY HAPPINESS“. This path will lead to a dead end so put the sign on a wall and have your footprint papers lead right up to the wall.
- The other set of colored footprints will lead to a different sign that reads “FOREVER JOY“. This path will make a circle or oval in your home–where there is no end. Hang the sign on a doorpost that you can walk through. This will allow your kids to experience what unending and everlasting means! At first, you will think of them as two different trails.
- On the first set of colored papers write down circumstances that make your kids feel happy. If you want, you can ask your kids the question : “What makes you feel happy?” and write down what they say. Older kids can write it themselves. These are just ideas, you can write whatever fits your kids’ ages the best: “Getting a new toy”, “Eating your favorite foods”, “Buying something with your saved money”, “Going to a friends house”, “Getting a good grade at school”, “Being liked by my friends”, “Watching TV”, “Playing a video game”, “Buying/getting a new outfit of clothes”.
- On the second set of colored papers write down these truths and their corresponding scriptures: “God loves me” (John 3:16), “God has a purpose for me” (Eph. 2:10), “God knows me personally (Psalm 139)” “Jesus took the punishment I deserve” (Is. 53:6) . If you have children who have accepted Christ include these: “God speaks well of me” (Eph 1:3) OR “I am blessed by God” (Eph 1:3), “I belong to a forever family”, “I can spend forever with God in heaven” (2 Peter 1:11), “I have an everlasting inheritance”(1 Peter 1:3-4), “I am forgiven” (1 John 2:12).
- Go down the “TEMPORARY HAPPINESS” path first. Talk about how with each of these, they maybe happy for awhile, but the happiness doesn’t stay. One thing we have pointed out before is how our girls wanted a certain toy so badly and when they finally got it they were happy, but a few months later they didn’t even play with the toy anymore. Instead, they wanted something new. You could also make the point that even if a friend is nice to you one day, they may not treat you well the next day and how happiness is affected by that.
- Next, go down the “FOREVER JOY” path. As you come to a paper read the verse that corresponds and expound on it a bit. For instance, when you come to the paper that reads, “God speaks well of me” you can read the scripture and then talk about how God always speaks blessings over us. Our friends may say a mean thing about us, but as believers, God never will.
- ****Finally*****, and this is the cool part, take some of footprints from the TEMPORARY HAPPINESS path and intersperse them with the footprints on the FOREVER JOY path. They are now a part of the eternal path.
- When you step on the footprint, “Getting a new toy” you can teach your child that even though it is temporary, you can still have a forever perspective about it. Say, “When you get a new toy, you can thank God for giving it to you.” Or, when you step on the footprint, “Eating my favorite food”, you can say, “God is the giver of all good things–even the food we eat. Next time you eat your favorite food, thank God for the food he gives to us.” Do this with as many of the footprints as you can.
- I think you will notice that JOY and THANKFULNESS are linked! It is THANKFULNESS that brings the temporary into the eternal!
- So tell your kids, “When you give God thanks and praise for the earthly things, you are tapping into your forever joy!”
- Take time to answer any questions that might arise from this activity.
- Finish by singing “Rejoice in the Lord Always”
DAY TWO: “Where does real joy come from?
*****A note to parents: Today, you will be sharing the Gospel with your kids. I strongly believe that we can’t truly have joy in our salvation until we understand what Jesus has saved us from. You may have really little ones that have not yet heard about hell and the final judgement. I know we didn’t talk about that with our girls when they were 2-3 yrs old. There is a portion of scripture that will talk about that today. Read through the whole lesson before you meet with your family.*****
Verse for the day: Psalm 95:1
Songs to sing: “Ive Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in My Heart” “There is Joy in the Lord”
- Ask your kids what they learned about joy yesterday.
- Emphasize that when we are thankful to God our hearts are ready for joy to take over!
- Say the chant together again:
GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF JOY
JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF JOY
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE GIVER OF JOY
- Use your sign language created yesterday and review the Greek word “chara“. You are going to show your kids a really cool thing about this word today!
Question for today: Why does our Joy come from God? What has He done for us that gives us joy?
- If you have older kids who read ask them to look up these verses and take turns reading them as a family. Otherwise, you can read them to your kids and then ask the question that follows:
- Luke 2: 8-11
- The angels said that Jesus’ coming to earth was a reason for great joy for all the people. Why is this such good news? (note that the angel calls Jesus the Savior.)
- What does a Savior do? (one who saves)
- Revelation 7:10
- Salvation belongs to _______________.
- What is salvation? (to be rescued, to be delivered from)
- What are we saved from?
- Matthew 1:21 (This is when the angel appeared to Joseph)
- What did the angel say that Jesus would save his people from?
- Revelation 20:11-15 (Emphasize that these events are yet to come and are for non believers)
- What else are believers saved from? (“being cast into the lake of fire, the second death, judgement according to our works” (Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself)
- Non-believers are referred to as not having their names in what book?
- Matthew 1:21 (This is when the angel appeared to Joseph)
- Luke 10:17-20
- Why were the 72 joyful?
- Jesus corrected them. What did he say should be the reason for their joy?
- What does it mean, “there names were written in heaven?” (Rev. 20:11-15 again!)
- Why were the 72 joyful?
- Romans 5:8 says that while we were sinners Christ died for us.
- We all deserve the punishment described in Revelation 20:11-15 because “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23) and the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).
- Luke 2: 8-11
This is why the angels said Jesus’ coming to earth was a reason for joy! Without him coming and dying and raising from the dead, we would all be in our sins and destined for death and separation from God forever!
God’s plan for Jesus to die and take the punishment instead of us is how he shows us GRACE! Grace means that God showed us favor and punished His own Son instead. When you believe in Jesus’ work on the cross, and believe that He rose again, you are accepting God’s GRACE plan.
- Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED through FAITH, and not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of GOD.”
Lets look at the Greek Language again:
Ask your kids: What is similar about these two words?
“If you only understand what grace means and what you have received by it, you would never cease to rejoice!”
This is where our joy comes from! God’s act of GRACE gives us the reason for JOY!
ACTIVITY: Act out the parable of the Hidden Treasure found in Matthew 13:44
- Earlier in the day, hide a special family treasure somewhere in your house. Or you can hide something that your kids have really been wanting that belongs to you but you haven’t let them touch it or have it. (I’m hiding our ipad).
- Tell your kids that you have that special item hidden in the house and they must find it.
- Give your kids clues about where it is hidden.
- When they find it and bring it to you ask them, “Would you buy this your allowance in order to keep it?” (Hopefully they would say yes! I know that my kids would like to call the ipad theirs instead of mom’s ipad!)
- Read Matthew 13:44-46.
- For those of us who desire to follow Jesus, we have the same joy as the people described in these parables!
- TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION–GIVE TESTIMONY!
Finish by reading Isaiah 51:11 and then turn it into a prayer that you pray over your family.
Other verses you can use:
Psalm 90:14 ” O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Psalm 92:4 “For you O LORD, have made me glad by what you have done!”
Psalm 126:2-3 “”Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting…The LORD has done great things for us; We are glad.”
1 Peter 1:8: Even though we don’t see God, we know Him and have great joy!
DAY THREE: “Finding Joy in God’s Word”
Verse for the day: Psalm 66:1
Song to sing: “The B-I-B-L-E”, “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee”, “All My Fountains are in You“
ACTIVITY: Discovering Joy with God’s Word
- Make sure each family member has a Bible (including Children Storybook Bibles!)
- Also give each child who can read the matching Worksheet On this worksheet they will match the meaning of each verse with the scripture reference.
- Say to them: “Remember how we found the treasure of salvation yesterday? Well God has given us another very special treasure. His Word. Did you know that God uses His Word to bring us joy?
- Say: “The longest Psalm in the Bible happens to be the one about God’s Word. Let’s look at some verses from Psalm 119“
- Take turns reading the verse and then filling in the blank on their worksheets:
YOU COULD SUMMARIZE EACH VERSE LIKE THIS:
Psalm 119:14 God’s Word and commands can bring us more joy than riches, money, or things. Though toys get broken and clothes get worn out, and money comes and goes, you can have joy from God’s commands and words EVERY DAY!
Psalm 119:16 God’s Word can bring us such joy that we want to read it everyday. We can delight in what the Bible teaches us.
Psalm 119:24 We can look to God’s Word for answers when we have questions. God uses the Bible to teach us.
Psalm 119:47 We delight in God’s Word because we love His commands and teachings.
Psalm 119:111 God’s Word has truths that can be the joy of our hearts.
Psalm 119:143 When hard and painful times come, the Bible can bring us joy and delight.
FINISH TODAY BY GOING AROUND THE CIRCLE AND HAVE EACH PERSON SHARE THEIR FAVORITE SCRIPTURE VERSE AND WHY IT BRINGS THEM JOY.
Then pray and thank God for his Word: use the verses above and PRAY THEM TO GOD as a prayer of thanks or petition. Example: “God, I thank you for your Word, please help me to love your Word more than the things I have. Help me to want to read the Bible as much as I want to play with my toys.”
DAY FOUR: “Finding Joy with Brothers and Sisters in Christ”
Verse for the day: Psalm 5:11
BEFORE YOU MEET TODAY, write a joy letter to your each of your children. Following the example of Philippians chapter 1, write how God has blessed you through them, and what you enjoy about your kids. Include some of the things you pray for each child–just as Paul does in this chapter.
START THE LESSON BY READING THE JOY LETTERS YOU WROTE TO YOUR KIDS.
SAY THE FOLLOWING TO YOUR KIDS:
“Does anyone know who Paul is? Can anyone remember His story? Paul traveled to many different cities to start churches. He met many people who became Christians because of his teaching. Did you know that he wrote several letters to different churches after he visited them? In many of these letters, Paul talks about how the Christians he met bring him joy. We learn from Paul that God can use our brothers and sisters in Christ to bring us joy.”
Have a child read Philippians 1: 1-8. Read the passage a second time with a different child or parent.
Ask your kids: What clues do we see that show us Paul loved the Christians in Philippi?
- Paul always prayed with JOY for the Philippian church…
- They have a SHARED experience. Did you know that all Christians share and experience many of the same things? You are not alone.
- Paul knew that God would finish the work He began in their hearts when they became Christians. Christians can GROW together.
- Paul really missed his Christian friends while he was in prison. He longed to see them and have fellowship with them.
So it is clear from these verses that OTHER CHRISTIANS CAN BRING US JOY:
- Because we SHARE in many things just like your family shares in many things.
- Talk about the things you have in common with each other as a biological family. Then give examples of what you share with brothers and sisters in Christ (the Holy Spirit, God’s power, God’s Word, etc., suffering for the gospel)
- Because we can LEARN and GROW from each other as we follow Christ.
- Talk about how older siblings can teach the younger and vice versa. Mention how your kids learn from you and you from them. Give examples of how you have learned from other Christians. Have your teens or older kids share too.
- Because we can PRAY for each other and share when God answers prayer.
- Share times that you have prayed for one another as a family and seen God at work.
- Because we have FRIENDSHIP and FELLOWSHIP.
- Christians can have fun together just like families do! Fellowship is an important part of our walk with Christ. We are supposed to enjoy one another. (If you have school aged children and teenagers, this might be a good opportunity to stress why having Christian friends is SO important. Though we may have some non-believing friends, we need friends that have a shared experience in Christ.)
IF YOUR CHILDREN ENJOY WRITING, have them write a short letter to a family member or Christian friend expressing the joy they find in their friendship/fellowship.
DAY FIVE: “Finding Joy in Your God-Given Purpose and Passions”
Verse for the day: Psalm 33:3
ASK YOUR KIDS:
- Did you know that God created you for a reason?
- Did you know that you have a special assignment for His Kingdom?
- He created you to find joy in Him but He also created you to give Him glory by fulfilling His call on your life.
- You don’t have to wait until you are a grown up to find God’s purpose for you! He can do great things through a person of any age!
HAVE EACH OF YOUR KIDS talk about what they really like to do–what they are passionate about and remind them that God can use their talents and their skills for His Kingdom purposes. Give an example from your own life if you have one.
You can experience godly joy when you are obeying God and using the gifts He has given you for His purposes.
(If you have older kids and teenagers, take some time to talk about this with them. At this point they may have certain career aspirations. Remind them that a job without a calling will leave them empty. Talk to them about the importance of looking for ways to reach others in their job/career path for Christ. Tell them about your own journey. Never pass up an opportunity to share your testimony.)
The Bible is full of scriptures that talk about the joy a person has when they obey God. Read these and talk about how God can bring joy through work and obedience.
- Deuteronomy 16:15
- Psalm 33:3 “Sing to him a new song, PLAY SKILLFULLY, and shout for joy”
- Eccl. 8:15 (For older kids/teens)
- Heb. 13:17 (This can be for obeying teachers too!)
ACTIVITY: How Can God Use Me?
- Have your younger kids draw a picture of what they would like to do when they grow up. Older kids/teens can help the others or write about their career aspirations.
- Then, go around the group and have each child talk about how God could use them to point people to Jesus in that job. (You are going to get better answers than you think–even from a 5 yr old! This is a great way to plant the seed in your child’s heart that their job is not to make money or make them well known.)
- Read Proverbs 15:23 and 15:30 What do these verses show us that we can do each day to bring joy to others?
CHALLENGE one another to find ways to be joy to others at school, at home, and in the workplace. Tell your kids to look for ways to help bring joy into another person’s life. Maybe as a family you could all share stories later this week.
CLOSE IN PRAYER
DAY SIX: “What About Pain and Suffering? Is Joy Possible?”
Verse for the day: Psalm 30:11
ASK YOUR KIDS:
- “Do Christians suffer and go through hard times?
- “Can we cry but still have a joy too?”
- “Does having joy in the middle of pain mean that we don’t cry?”
- “Remember what we talked about a few days ago…where does our joy come from? What is the reason for our joy?”
- “Do hard times erase that reason for joy? Does God’s grace come and go or is He with us through the tough times?”
THE BIBLE TALKS A WHOLE LOT ABOUT JOY WHILE SUFFERING: Divide up these verses, read them, and discuss them.
Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, Your comfort brought joy to my soul.”
Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow/plant in tears will reap with songs of joy. ” (You may plant tears for seeds, but you will harvest joy)
John 16:20-22 Jesus said, ” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (I’m sure there are plenty of mom’s out there who could relate the truth of this verse!)
2 Corinthians 8:2 “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (Can we have joy no matter how much or little we have? Yes!)
1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
ACTIVITY OPTION 1: Refiners Fire
- Gather objects of gold, silver, and glass (or have your kids each find an object of these materials). Make sure that you can see your reflection in at least one of the items.
- Talk with them about the refining process:
- The metal is stuck into the very hot fire
- The dross/impurities are burned off
- The refiner takes the metal out of the fire for awhile and checks the metal for more impurities
- The refiner sticks the metal back in to burn off more dross
- This process repeats until the metal or glass is pure.
- When the refiner takes it out the last time, he knows it is ready when he can see his reflection in it.
- Pass around an object where each family member can see their reflection.
- Our suffering on this earth is much like the refining process
- James 1:2-4
- “What develops when we have trials and suffering?” (perseverance)
- “When we learn to persevere what happens?” (we become mature and complete, not lacking anything)
- Romans 5:3-5
- “What does suffering produce in us?”
- James 1:2-4
- Take the object that shows a reflection and pass it around again.
- SAY THIS WHILE IT IS BEING PASSED: GOD IS THE REFINER, AND WHEN WE GO THROUGH SUFFERING HE IS MAKING US MORE LIKE HIM–SO HE CAN SEE HIS REFLECTION IN US. HE PROMISES THAT HE WILL WORK ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD.
ACTIVITY OPTION 2: When Life Gives You Lemons…
- As a family, make a pitcher of homemade lemonade. Here is a good recipe if you need one.
- Before you start, have your kids taste a raw lemon. Yep. Don’t skip this step!
- Talk about how many times in life, we go through sour times.
- Now make the lemonade. When you add the sugar say: “Think of the sugar like the joy of the LORD”
- When the recipe is made drink it together.
- Say: “The sourness of the lemon is still there–just like our hard times stick around and may go on for a long time, but if you let Him, the Holy Spirit will fill you with His sweet joy. You have a choice, to remain bitter or add the sugar.”
Close with Hebrews 12:2. Remember that Jesus has suffered much more than we ever will, and He endured the horrible pain and suffering of the cross because He knew there was joy on the other side! Remind your children about the joy that is ahead for believers in heaven.
As you close your family time, pray this scripture over each of your children by name. If you have older children or teens, have them pray the scripture over you as parents.:
” (Say child’s name), may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13.
“Lord, please remind us that the problems and pain we go through now is light and momentary. They won’t last forever, or for even an hour in some cases. Please help us to remember that the joy we will experience with you in heaven is far greater than the pain we go through now here on earth. And Lord, your Word says that ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength.’ Please fill us with your joy and give us the strength we need to face our difficult days.”
- Watch the Veggie Tales Episode “Madame Blueberry”. This cartoon has a great way of teaching kids that they can be joyful without all the “stuff” they think they want.
- Find a Video on You Tube about the refining process for silver, gold, or glass. This will give your kids a visual to relate to day six’s topic. I found this one that gives a little spiritual insight: Man teaches seminary students about refining