What’s the most surprising gift you’ve ever been given — good or bad?
Once for Christmas, my wife got me these special lenses that go over an iPhone’s camera lens. They allow you to take different kinds of photos, like fisheye views or slight magnifications. They were cool, but I could never really use them well.
Have you ever been more excited about giving someone a gift than you were about receiving a gift from someone else?
When you hear the word rejoice, what comes to mind? When might you see someone rejoicing?
The Bible tells us that the people of Jesus’ day rejoiced when he came. Why do you think that is? What was so surprising about Him?
Have you ever seen Jesus change someone’s life? What happened?
One of the most encouraging passages about rejoicing is found in Philippians 4:4-7:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
What do you think it means to “always be full of joy”?
In other passages in the New Testament, Paul writes about unfortunate things that happened to him— he was beaten, put in jail, and even survived a shipwreck! He was driven out of town several times. He was bitten by a viper— and simply shook the snake off into a campfire! Paul endured many terrible things in his life.
In spite of everything that Paul endured, he still wrote that we should “rejoice always.”
Rejoicing is more than just being happy, just like there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Rejoicing has all to do with your internal perspective, your heart’s attitude— about life, your relationships, and even about God. Rejoicing means looking higher than your circumstances to God, who can give us joy and peace in the midst of difficult situations.
If everything went absolutely wrong today, you probably wouldn’t be very happy about it. But even if everything went wrong, you could still rejoice because your internal perspective is focused on something higher than yourself or your situations.
If joy has to do with rising above our circumstances, do you think rejoicing is connected to worry and stress? How?
How do you think rejoicing could help us combat worry and stress?
Research has shown that joy has many effects on your brain, body, and overall health. Joy promotes a healthier lifestyle, boosts the immune system, fights stress and pain, and supports longevity.
So leading a life of joy is possible, regardless of our varied circumstances. If Paul can rejoice in his harsh situations, we can also rise above our situations. We can fix our eyes on Jesus, asking him to change the attitude of our hearts to one of joy. And as we practice joy, our overall health will improve too!
We might be surprised at how much joy and peace God is willing to give when we choose to live as a joy-filled people!