Knowing Jesus produces in us a joy that is greater than our immediate circumstances. Despite being persecuted, the disciples in Antioch were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit!
“ 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- Sliced oranges
- 2 Inflated orange balloons (one with half a cup of water in it)
- 2 Permanent markers (sharpie)
- A lighter
Hi Kids! Over the summer we’re learning about the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. What are the Fruit of the Spirit!? When we put our faith in Jesus, we receive an amazing gift from Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit leads us, we grow and start to bear fruit! It’s a way of saying that we become more like Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 says: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” Last week we spoke about love, and today we’re going to speak about what it means to have joy! We’re going to use a slice of orange to represent joy because it is shaped sort of like a smile!
Paul and Barnabas
The Bible gives us some good examples of people who were filled with joy as a fruit of the Spirit. We have a short Bible story today from the book of Acts that has something we can learn from. (You can read this directly from the Bible for the older children, or you can paraphrase it for the younger kids). In Acts 13.42-52 we see that Paul and Barnabas, were two friends who were going around teaching people about Jesus and how much God loves us. One day they were in a place called Antioch speaking about Jesus and the people were very interested in what they had to say. In fact, they invited them to come and speak at the Synagogue the following Sabbath! It says that almost the whole town arrived to hear what they had to say. Unfortunately some of the people there didn’t want to believe in Jesus and started insulting Paul and Barnabas and saying mean things to them. Other people did believe and they gave their lives to Jesus and started following him. The people who were against Jesus started to plan ways to hurt those who were following Jesus and eventually forced Paul and Barnabas to leave Antioch!
At the end of the story the Bible says a very interesting thing. It says: “And the disciples (those who were following Jesus) were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 13.52. Even though bad things had happened to them, they were still filled with Joy! What else were they filled with? (Let the children respond). Yes, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
True Joy (Object lesson)
Now, I need a volunteer to come up here and draw a happy face on this balloon. (Have one of the kids come up and draw a happy face on the balloon that doesn’t have water in it). At the same time I’m going to draw a joyful face on this other balloon and we’ll try to tell the difference. (Draw a very similarly happy face on the balloon with water in it). Now that we’re both finished drawing, do you see much of a difference between being happy and being joyful? At face value we don’t really think that there’s much of a difference between being happy and having joy.
Let me explain the difference. (Hold up the happy balloon) Typically, we feel happy when good things are happening to us and when things are going our way. For instance, you might get really happy if you hear that your mom is making your favorite dessert. Or, you might feel happy that your friend is coming over for a play date. Or, you might be happy when you get a really good grade on a quiz. Those are examples of things that might make us happy.
What happens though when things don’t go our way? For example, what if you find out you’re having your least favorite meal for dinner? Or, what if your friend can’t come over anymore? Or, even worse, what if your friend comes over but decides to rather play with your brother or sister? All of those things are examples of things that could happen in our lives that make us sad (hold up the lighter). Let’s say that this lighter represents some of the difficult things that might happen in our lives. When bad things happen it destroys our happiness (light the flame under the balloon and it will pop).
Here’s where joy is different. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and doesn’t go away when bad things happen (hold up the joy balloon and briefly light the flame under it being careful to keep the flame where the water is). Notice that this balloon has water in it. The water represents being filled with the Holy Spirit. Our joy comes from the fact that we know God and he is always with us. Even when difficult things happen, even if we’re feeling sad, we can still have joy deep inside!
For the older children (especially 9-11s) you can explore this idea further using Proverbs 10.28 “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing” or Hebrews 12.2b “For the joy set before him he endured the cross…”, explaining that our joy is tied to the gospel. When we put our faith in things of this world we will be disappointed but when we put our faith in Jesus, we have a hope that extends beyond current circumstances.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that our joy comes from knowing you and knowing that you’re greater than anything bad that might happen to us. Thank you that we can have your joy deep within us even when we might be sad. We lift up everyone out there who doesn’t know you and pray that they would discover how much you love us, so that they might experience true joy!
- Why were Paul and Barnabas in Antioch?
- Where were they invited to speak?
- What bad thing happened to them?
- What were the disciples filled with?
- How is that possible?
Image Credit: Still Life With Basket And Six Oranges, Vincent van Gogh 1888