Name in a Bowl
Each player is given five small pieces of paper. On each piece the player writes a name of a celebrity or person that the group will know. Fold the paper and place in the bowl (or whatever you have available!) Each player
takes a turn to pull out a piece of paper and describe the person on it, without saying their name. Each player is given 30 seconds to do this before moving on to the next player. When all the names are taken out of the bowl, count up and see who has won! Hopefully there will be smiles all round!
No need to share this but: if you were to score yourself on a ‘joy index’ where would you be?
0 = Completely miserable
10 = Absolutely joyful
This is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible often being quoted as ‘restore unto me the joy of my salvation’. While it may seem like a small difference, it is nevertheless profound. Joy is not simply a feeling of happiness that washes over us when we think of something nice, any more than peace is the absence of strife. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit and like all fruit it needs to be cultivated and nurtured, therefore it is about creating the right growing environment.
The starting point for true joy comes in recognising our salvation. We need to rejoice in what God has done for us (thy salvation) rather than in what we have done for ourselves (my salvation). Salvation is the free gift of grace of eternal life given to us from start to finish by a loving and extravagant God, unmerited and unearned. If that is not a reason to rejoice then what is? In a very real sense if we are able to leave the ownership of our salvation with a faithful God, it enables us to live lives of freedom and joy because we know that in our own strength we fail, but that God, all-powerful (omnipotent), is able to accomplish his purposes.
There are other things that we can intentionally do to create the right growing environment for joy which rebalances our attitudes.
Delight in the love and ongoing protection of God – Read Psalm 5:11.
The world can seem a very inhospitable and foreboding place and there is a temptation to worry about things and fret about situations that are beyond our control. Jesus himself said,
Delighting in the loving nature of God very naturally leads us to praise which has been described as the language of faith. Faith says – I trust in God, whatever comes my way I have faith that He will hold me safe.
Consider the words of Song 531
Live Life in the Present
It is very easy to look back to former days and long for a return to the good old days. There is nothing wrong in remembering the past and recognising
what has been, but it can become unhealthy when it leads to a resentful spirit or stunts our own personal development. I am sure we have all talked with someone who holds on to something from the past and seems unable to move forward or someone who constantly regrets relationships, abilities or things that were lost and as a result seems to live a diminished life.
There were many times when the Children of Israel lamented in the loss of what had once been. In Psalm 137, the Exiles were so busy lamenting what was lost that they were unable to be a witness of joy to their present. They were asked to sing the songs of faith and they cried ‘how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’
When the Temple at Jerusalem was being rebuilt following the return from the Babylonian exile we see a clear example of a group of people longing for the glory of the former days.
Read Ezra 3:10-12
At that epoch-making event there were those who wailed because of the loss of what had been rather than recognise what had been accomplished. In 1979 Lena Martell got to 2nd place in the UK charts with the song ‘One Day at a Time’. In much the same way as being disgruntled by the past robs us of joy, so does an over-concentration with the future. Having our minds
filled with the myriad of things we want to do in the days ahead brings unnecessary stress and strain. Or when we fill our heads with fanciful dreams of what might be that are not grounded in a reliance on God we
become disillusioned when things do not happen the way we expect. Taking today, and living each moment as given by God, looking for and receiving his blessings and experiencing his salvation as a reality of each moment by moment will restore our joy and make us a witness of joy to those around us.
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do every day what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.