Monday, June 2, 2014

Jesus Wants Us to Have Joy by Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)

Jesus Wants Us to Have Joy
Scripture Reference: Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
Related Scripture References: Matthew 6:25-34; I Peter 1:8; Acts 3:1-10
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To teach children that Jesus wants them to be happy, that they can be happy even when bad things are happening, and that the only real way to have joy is to have Jesus. 

Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It”


If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet.
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet.
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

If you're happy and you know it, say Amen.
If you're happy and you know it, say Amen.
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, say Amen.

If you're happy and you know it, do all three.
If you're happy and you know it, do all three.
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, do all three.

Icebreaker:

Say: Remember during the months of January and February, we are studying about fruit but not the kind that grows on trees. 

Ask: 
If you travel to North Carolina in the fall, you will see apple stands along the roadside. What kind of trees do you think these apples grow on? 
How would you feel if you planted an apple tree because you wanted apples but it didn’t produce any? 
What would you think if you saw a fruit tree that didn’t have fruit?

Say: God wants fruit to hang from our lives just as it does from real trees. Let’s read our verses for January and February. (Have children begin memorizing these verses. You may want to use a modern day translation such as The Message. It would also be helpful to have these verses displayed where the children can see them regularly.) Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (NLT)

Transition into letting the children know God wants them to be happy not sad. Let children give some examples of things that make them unhappy. After they have finished, talk about things that can make children sad. Possible things might include: someone they love dying, a pet dying, having to move to another town, having to change schools, not being able to do something they really want to do (perhaps because of money or physical limitations).

Have children talk about things that make them happy. Then suggest some or all of the following if they didn’t mention them: starting school, a new baby brother or sister, getting that toy or electronic device they really want for Christmas or their birthday, a new pet, making new friends. 

Activity Break:
Give children a blank sheet of paper and tell them to draw a picture representing “Joy.” Then ask them to tell what the picture is showing. 

Reinforcement Segment: 
(Being accepted and cared for by parents or significant others are two basic life needs. Be sensitive to the fact that some of the children may come from families where unfortunate conditions exist. Even at young ages, children can worry about things they shouldn’t.) Be prepared to tell the children the following story from Matthew 6:25-34 of how Jesus says we shouldn’t be sad because God will take care of our needs. 

One time Jesus told a story about birds, flowers, and the wild grass growing in a field. As he looked up into the sky, he saw birds flying about. He told the people to look at the birds and then told them how they don’t have to plant crops in the field or harvest those crops. God takes care of them. Then he told them to look at the wild flowers and grass growing in the fields and beside the roads. Nobody planted them or waters them. God takes care of them and makes them beautiful. When he had finished talking about the birds, flowers, and grass, he told the people not to worry about what they would eat, drink, or wear. His Father in heaven would always provide those things for his children.    

Ask: What does this story teach us regarding how Jesus feels about his children? Should you ever be sad wondering whether you will have a place to stay, enough food to eat, or sufficient clothes to wear?  Can you trust God to take care of you? Your family? Be prepared to answer children’s questions about why some people don’t have enough of the above. 

Take Away Story: Acts 3:1-10. Teacher should read this story ahead of time to familiarize themselves with the elements. At this point, emphasize that real joy has nothing to do with what we have or don’t have. True happiness is believing in Jesus and doing the things he wants us to do.

One day two of Jesus’ followers, Peter and John, were going to the church house to pray. Lying outside the church door was a man who couldn’t walk. He was begging for money to get something to eat. Peter and John didn’t have any money to give him. They were poor themselves. But they did have one thing they could give him that would change his life. God had given them the power to perform miracles. Peter looked at the man and told him to get up and walk. All of sudden, the man felt something different than he ever had before. He felt like his legs would work and that he could stand up on his feet. Peter took him by the hand and told him to stand up. When he tried, he could. He could even walk, jump, and run. He thanked God for healing him, and he was happy because he could now walk and take care of himself. More importantly, he had Jesus in his heart. 

Wrap Up: Read I Peter 1:8, You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. (The Message). God loves us. When we love him in return, we can have joy in our life.

Take Away Questions:
What can you do to bring joy into someone’s life who might be sad?
What can you tell others about where to find real joy?