When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Do you find it hard to find joy in transition? (Retirement, empty nesting, moving, family illness, kids becoming adolescents, job change, etc, etc.). Why or why not?
Last week Pastor Mark alluded to prayer and thanksgiving as possible places to find our joy. However, this week he pushes us further to consider “emptying” ourselves as the place where joy finds root in the midst of all the chaos of life. He counters that we, as humans, tend to hold on to things, that we are afraid to let go, or not have them in our lives, and/or not be defined by these things (fill in the blank on “things”). How would emptying yourself of the tight hold you have on “things” help you find joy? Do you agree or disagree with Mark and why?
We often have confidence in earthly things: retirement savings, 401K plan, the kids taking care of us when we are older, that we are still young and healthy and have “time”. What things do you have the most confidence in that have you planned for your future?
Pastor Mark states that we can find joy in emptying ourselves (not to say we should sell everything we have or not be financially prudent, Jesus does NOT tell us to stop working hard or not take care of ourselves or our family), but that nothing we surround ourselves with really matters unless it’s shared with the community we live in. What do you think he means by that?
What do you do when you find yourself in uncomfortable surroundings? Meaning - you’re around people less fortunate than yourself (money, finances, family, health). What goes through your mind when get your head up and look around?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Do you think there’s a difference between happiness and joy?
Pastor Mark alludes to happiness being a feeling, and that joy is more than just a feeling. That joy is a moment of gratitude, possibly even experiencing peace in the midst of all around us. Do you agree with this or not? Why?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul not only mentions joy 14 times, but he speaks to a practice of gratitude. Read the verses again - rejoice always, think about whatever is lovely, admirable, praiseworthy - put it into practice. Have you ever thought of gratitude as a practice or discipline, something to “get better at doing”? Why or why not?
Do you (or your family) have a practice of thanksgiving and gratitude that you do with any consistency? (Things like thanking God before meals, prayers before bedtime, a prayer or gratitude journal, etc.) Are there times when it’s easier to be more consistent?
Why do you think gratitude could be so linked to joy? What does gratitude actually do?