If we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, then one of the results is supposed to be joy (Galatians 5:22). So why don't all of us experience more of it, more consistently?
Before we can begin to cultivate more joy in our lives, we need to take a good look at what prevents this precious spiritual fruit from growing. Many different weeds can choke it. Neglect and inattention can stunt it. Carelessness can bust it before it has a chance to thrive. A healthy, happy soul doesn't grow without tender, diligent care.
In this lesson you'll unearth the various rocks and weeds that threaten your joy, and you'll help each other begin to find your way back to the Garden.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
A Moment for Quiet Reflection
1. How full is your cup: overflowing, empty as a dry riverbed, or something in between? Indicate below how much joy you have been experiencing in your life lately by filling in the cup to the appropriate level.
2. What do you think are the reasons for your current joy or lack of joy? List the first thing(s) that comes to mind.
3. If your cup isn't quite as full as you'd like it to be, think of a time in your life when it was brimming. What was different then-in your circumstances, your habits, and your attitude?
Knowing God's Heart
1. As a group, briefly share your answers to the personal reflection questions above. This will help you start getting to know where each of you is on your journey toward joy.
2. Take turns reading the following Scripture passages and discuss what they imply about the reasons people lose their joy. Try to identify one specific "joybuster" in each passage.
Psalm 55:4-5, 12-14
3. Which of the ten joybusters above is most interfering with your experience of joy today? Why? (If your personal joybuster isn't reflected in the verses you just read, name your own.) As you listen to each woman share, make note of her primary joybuster.
4. Think about the past few years of your life. Share with the group which joybusters seem to be chronic for you.
5. Brainstorm together some ways you can bust the threats to your joy before they bust you. Have one person keep a list of the ideas you come up with.
6. Reviewing the list, choose one specific thing you will do to combat your current personal joybuster in the week ahead-or whenever it tries to bust down your door again. Share your strategy with the group and write down each woman's strategy next to her joybuster.
7. No matter what your personal joybusters are, you need not be discouraged. What assurances does Psalm 62:5-8 give you as you continue your journey?
Life is simply full of curves-sometimes gentle, pleasant, and surprisingly gratifying and sometimes threatening to overwhelm me in their sharpness. The seat belt insuring my survival is that one profound and simple truth: Jesus loves me. Marilyn Meberg
1. Share one thing that brought you joy in the past week. Even the smallest incident or moment of insight is worth sharing a smile over.
2. Take time now to exchange addresses, phone numbers, and/or e-mail addresses. Consider dropping a funny card in the mail or sending an electronic message this week just to say hi. If you're really brave, contact someone you've just met for the first time or don't know very well. Your card or message might just give her a much-needed "joyboost"!
Just for Fun
A great way to cultivate joy and friendship is to have some fun! Keep your eyes peeled this week for something funny in a newspaper, book, or your life. When you find it, call another woman in the group and share a laugh. It may sound silly, but you'll be surprised at how good it will make both of you feel!
I think God has given women the power to move on in life through the contagion of laughter.... We laugh so we won't scream. Barbara Johnson
Referring to your notes of each other's personal joy-busters, pray together now for each woman's specific concerns. Ask God to help each of you use the simple strategy you've chosen to resist whatever threatens your joy.
Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise. Samuel Lover
MMaking It Real in Your Own Life
1. Between now and your next group meeting, pay attention to the situations and attitudes that threaten your joy. Make note of them as they come up, and start watching for patterns.
2. Think of someone you know who has a lot of joy in his or her life. If possible, call this person and ask what his or her "secrets" are. Be ready to share your findings with the group next week.