Describe a strong person. What do they look like? How do they act? What do they wear? You might have everyone draw and label a picture of a person who’s strong.
- What makes this person strong? Write a list of things that contribute to this person’s strength.
- If you hadn’t heard this week’s lesson would joy have been on your list? Does the person you drew (or described) look or seem joyful? If not, why do you think that is?
Last week we began a discussion of celebration as a spiritual discipline. Just to be clear, which kinds of parties are NOT spiritual exercises?
The kinds of parties and celebrations that “count” as spiritually filling, challenging, and shaping are celebrations of Who God is and what He’s done. They fundamentally glorify God. (Other parties are fun and totally worth doing, but not what we’re talking about in this series.)
What characterizes the kinds of celebrations we find in the Bible? What are they like? What do people do?
This week our sermon was rooted in Nehemiah chapter 8. If your group members mostly heard the sermon you can have a member summarize the text. If members didn’t hear the sermon, consider reading a portion of the text.
- Had you read this story before? If not, how did you feel reading it or hearing about it?
- What’s interesting to you about this passage?
- What’s challenging or compelling?
Our bottom line from Sunday was: If you want to be strong, you’ve got to cultivate joy, because “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- What does that mean? What does joy have to do with strength?
- Brainstorm ways that purposefully pursuing joy might strengthen you.
- When has the joy of the Lord been your strength?
Have you ever practiced feasting or celebration intentionally in order to help yourself stoke the fire of joy in your heart? When did a feast or celebration lead you into deeper, more stable joy?
Brainstorm some potential sorts of celebrations you might host for the purpose of growing and exercising joy.
In your experience, what are some other ways, in addition to feasting or celebrating, to cultivate joy on purpose?
Read the following passages. Have a member summarize each one in his or her own words. What does it mean and what does it mean to us?:
- I Chronicles 16:26-28
- Psalm 21:1
- Isaiah 58:14
Does anyone need strength? Pray for joy. Go around the room and have each member share one way in which he or she needs strength in the following week. After each person shares, pray these words together out loud: God, make Your joy our strength. It’ll be a blessing to say those words over and over.
Just checking in. Have you planned your feast? Be sure to make it special and God-focused.