Week #2: Joy
This Sunday is week 2 of our Advent series. Pastor Brian will lead us as we contemplate “Joy”. As we come to our study of joy during this season of Advent, it’s important to be reminded about the difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness is found in what we can experience or what we can get that we have not yet had. It’s always just around the corner. It is very circumstantial. It is affected by our perception of our place in life – what we have or what we are going through.
Joy is different. Joy is found in the presence of Christ. It is above circumstances. It can’t be bought. It comes from one source, Jesus. It can be found in the belief that Jesus is the King, the Savior, the great Promise Keeper who is restoring all things, shepherding us throughout the day. It comes from walking with Him daily. Hearing Him. Obeying Him. It comes from His presence.
Matthew tells us: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” (2:10) What was it about the star that brought them this great joy? The star pointed to the place where humans could be in the physical presence of Immanuel, God with us. In His presence, great joy can be found.
FOUR OBSERVATIONS ABOUT JESUS, JOY, AND ME AND YOU:
- We can see stars too.
- Signs Given (Numbers 24:17-18)
- Prophecy Fulfilled (Micah 5:2)
- Promises Yet to be Fulfilled (Revelation 22:16)
- We see stars by reading and studying the Bible.
- We can experience joy from being with Jesus.
- We should recognize Satan as a joy stealer. (John 10:10)
- Joy struggles are overcome in the presence of Immanuel.
Maybe we need to quit chasing the “presents” of happiness that always seem elusive and just around the corner, and trade our pursuit for the “presence” of joy that comes from Jesus.
Advent joy is about waiting for the exceedingly great joy only experienced in the person of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.
This Christmas and holiday season is going to be a little different for many people. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges.
Q: How has COVID-19 made this holiday season different for you? How will things maybe look different as you celebrate?
Q: How are you working to make the best of these current challenges and differences?
Q: What new opportunities or creative ways of celebrating has this season of COVID-19 brought to you and your family?
Q: What is one positive that you’ve experienced during this season?
For many, COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges. In this time, it could be easy to become unhappy. But that is why it’s even more important that we choose and pursue joy during this season. Joy can be found even in the midst of a pandemic. It can be found in having to celebrate differently. It can be found in the struggle, because it is found in Jesus! Let’s talk more about how we can pursue and find joy this Advent and Christmas season!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask and discuss the following questions.
Q: In your own words, how would you explain the difference between happiness and joy? What is the danger in confusing the two?
Q: How are we tempted to put the pursuit of happiness over our pursuit of joy? Why is this such a powerful temptation?
Q: What do people pursue that, while may bring them happiness, can never truly bring them great joy? What about us? What do we pursue?
Q: Read Matthew 2:10. Why was seeing the star such a moment of joy for the wise men?
Q: How can we “see stars too” in our lives? What does looking for the starts look like in your daily life?
Q: In what ways has your relationship with Jesus brought joy into your life? How is He currently bringing you joy this Christmas season?
Q: Read John 10:10. How does Satan try a rob our joy? What can we do to combat these schemes?
Q: Has there been a time in your life where you experienced a “joy struggle”? Are you in that season currently? How did Jesus or is Jesus helping you find joy in the midst of that time?
Q: What is your personal “take-away” from this week’s message? What is one specific thing the Lord spoke to you this week?
Q: What is one specific “action step” you are going to take this week to apply what Jesus has taught you today?
As you end your group time, encourage your members to reflect on the following questions:
Q: When I look at my life today, am I pursuing happiness more than joy?
Q: What things or experiences am I pursuing that can never truly bring me the deep joy I am seeking?
Q: How can I choose to pursue joy this week?
Conclude your gathering by praying for your group. Ask the Lord to help each person choose to pursue joy this week. Ask Him to give them the strength to lay down whatever they are putting in the place of Jesus this holiday season. Thank God for the joy that can be found in Jesus.
SCRIPTURES FROM THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:
- Matthew 2:10-11, Numbers 24:17-18, Micah 5:2, Revelation 22:16,
12/13/20 Advent: Joy Matthew 2:10-11
12/20/20 Advent: Peace John 14:27
12/24/20 Advent: Love John 1:14, 1 John 4:10, John 3:16-19