This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.
By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
When we hear the word joy, a few things may pop up in our minds. We may think about the character from the Pixar movie “Inside Out.” Joy’s goal has always been to make sure Riley stays joyful. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation. As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy. “Inside Out” defines joy as a feeling that is tied to happiness or being optimistic.
You may even think of joy as being lighthearted or upbeat after watching this movie. Even the Bible agrees with these definitions.
Yet, the Bible has a different take on the word joy.
- It’s more than a feeling
- It’s more than something we can create or make happen.
- It’s not dependent upon circumstance.
- It is the triumph of faith, love, and hope in sad times, hard times, or challenging situations.
- Hard times, sad times, and challenges can actually enhance joy.
We can look at God and the Bible through the lens of Jesus’ life, and we can do the same with joy. He is the prime example of joy. It didn’t matter whether things were going well or tough. His joy didn’t depend on the people around him. Even if he wasn’t feeling well or had pain, Jesus still had joy.
He may not have been making jokes or acting silly when filled with joy during those hard days, but he was confident that he was loved by God, important to God, and that better days were coming. He had love, faith, and hope.
He had confidence that God loved him, was always with him, celebrated his victories and comforted him in his loses, as well as knowing that the outcome didn’t diminish God’s love. His faith and hope and God’s love within the framework of their relationship created a way for joy to flourish in his life. Jesus also saw challenges as opportunities.
Children are often filled with joy. It is an extension of their childlike faith. When kids are confident of being loved and valued, they strum with joy. Like Joy in the movie, they are excited, optimistic, and lighthearted. What if we tied that to the joy, which comes from the unchanging love of God?
- He will never let them down
- He is always with them
- He provides guidance in the form of the Holy Spirit
- He desires to be as close to them as parents
- He is bigger than any challenge, sadness, or pain.
When we are filled with a Biblical Joy, our lives point out God’s fingerprint in our life during the good moments and the tough moments. When things are rough, it is important to remember how God is with us, think about the things that are going well or have gone well in our life, and how God is there to help and comfort us through sorrow, pain, and even suffering.
When I spent several months in the hospital recovering after an accident which left me paralyzed, God used a verse found in Zephaniah to remind me of this, and the Holy Spirit used it to reinforce a sense of joy even when I struggled.
Zephaniah 3:17, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
What a great picture of a God that is with us, is capable of standing up for us, enjoys us, comforts us, and is excited when things are going well. This is joy in my mind and you see it often in the life of Jesus.
This past Sunday, the kids in Heroes Gate learned about Joy as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5. When we spend time in the presence of Jesus, we are filled with joy.
You will find below some activities for the kids: coloring pages, a word find, and Fruits of the Spirit coloring page.
We hope you find these helpful.