Sermon Based Curriculum
Sermon Date: June 6, 2010
Sermon Title: Unstoppable Joy
Sermon Text: John 15:11
Small Group Text: John 15:1-12
Ask people what they want out of life and ultimately it comes down to happiness. In fact, pursuing happiness seems to be the driving motivation for much of what people do. How would you counsel someone who admits to an absence of happiness in their lives? What would you suggest they do to experience more joy? Read the following statement and discuss whether or not you agree with the premise: If you want to be happy, stop trying to chase it down. True joy is simply the byproduct of staying closely connected to Jesus Christ and living in ways that please Him. Does this statement sound outlandish or does it sound credible? Why or why not? In this lesson, we’re going to discover a source of joy that is often overlooked in our culture because it is rooted in a close relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s see what we can discover about “joy.”
1. Happiness is what we think we’ll feel when we finally get what we want. It would seem to make sense then that happiness is attainable by acquiring more stuff, doing more fun things, or by eradicating stress from our lives. But why might these pursuits ultimately end up as disappointing or elusive quests? Because we can’t always have what we want. And even if we acquire our heart’s desire, we can still lose it. In the long run, we might tire of what we’ve acquired and find ourselves moving on to the next “latest, greatest flavor of the month” – just to fill our boredom.
2. Read John 15:1-12. Jesus is teaching that joy flows from an unexpected source (15:11). How would you summarize the key elements of Jesus’ secret to a life filled with joy? Abide in Him, remain close to Him, and draw energy for life and meaningful accomplishment from Him. There is no other alternative for living a meaningful life (review the first two chapter of Ecclesiastes). The alternative life is characterized by dead, useless wood. We remain in Him – in His love – as we obey His commandments – to love). Then, and only then, will our joy be complete!
The ideas of abiding and remaining in Christ sound religious enough. But from a practical standpoint, how would a person actually abide/remain in Christ. What would this level of commitment require from a believer who wanted to experience Christ’s “complete” joy? The “spiritual practices” would keep one close to Christ – e.g., 1) daily prayer moves us into the joy of His presence; 2) Bible reflection allows us to hear Him apply life-affirming truth to our circumstances; and 3) serving others is as good as serving Him directly (Matthew 25:40).
4. It has been said that joyless boredom can be correlated to one’s unfulfilled potential. Placed in the contemporary context of Miami, to what kinds of activities do you think Jesus is referring when he speaks of his followers bearing so much fruit that their joy overflows (15:5-11)?” Toss around ideas as to what this might look like as Christian churches in Miami lived this out consistently? 5. While the feeling of happiness seems keyed into the idea of acquiring something we want, joy, on the other hand, is more often the pleasure we feel when we’re in the presence of something or someone we love and cherish (see Luke 15). The joy of abiding or remaining in Christ would obviously have a practical expression. According to John 15:9-10, how does a Christian demonstrate love for Christ? Review John 15:9-11 and read Psalm 19:8. The common perception is that God’s commands result in a dull, boring, joyless life. How would keeping the commands of Christ (characterized here as “love” – vs. 12) actually result in a life full of joy? Share personal experiences.
1. Answer honestly: Is your life characterized more by the pursuit of happiness or by a joy resulting from abiding in Christ? 2. Someday, abiding and remaining in constant fellowship with Christ will be easy – in heaven (1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2). But what can you do now – in your everyday life – that would help you develop a more engaging and intimate relationship with Jesus? 3. In terms of your immediate, Miami context, what kinds of activities could you undertake – in the power of Christ – that would produce sufficient “fruit” for your joy to overflow (15:5-11)? 4. Jesus taught that God removes dead or useless wood from our lives to help us experience the ultimate joy of a fruitful life (John 151-2). What dead or useless wood has the Lord been pruning as of late? What other dead wood does he still need to prune in order to help you experience the fullness and joy of a fruit-bearing life in Christ? Would you dare invite him to start pruning in those areas?
Published on Jun 3, 2010