The Good Life Wk 3 // Joy, Prayer, and Peace
- What's making you happy this week?
- What are the things in your life that bring you the most joy?
- What, in your own words, is the difference between joy and happiness?
- Why is it important to recognize the difference?
Most everyone in the world believes living the good life is about seeking happiness in one way or another. The problem with happiness though is that it’s built on circumstance. And all circumstances are just a moment from changing. We have an enemy that wants to steel our joy and miss the better life God has in store forus. But God has something far deeper in mind for us as Christians. When we look to God rather than to our circumstances for our joy, we will not only find what true joy is, but also peace that surpasses understanding.
"The devil is real, and he wants you to miss a better life than you ever dreamed of with God."
Ask a volunteer to read Philippians 1:12-17.
- What do these verses tell you about Paul’s circumstances when he wrote the Book of Philippians?
- Why is it important to understand those circumstances?
- Given those circumstances, what are some of the things that must be true about Paul’s own source of joy?
Paul was under house arrest when he wrote these words. He had been arrested because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. Even knowing that he would likely never be free again, Paul told the Philippians who were also undergoing persecution that they should rejoice.
"Everything great starts with prayer. Prayer is the first step to a better life than you ever dreamed of and victory over the devil."
Ask a volunteer to read Philippians 4:4-7.
- Why is it important to see that “rejoicing” is a command? Does it mean that you have to be happy about whatever is happening in your life?
- What’s the difference between seeing rejoicing as a command and seeing it as an emotion? Why is that difference significant?
- Is there any circumstance in your life right now in which it is difficult to rejoice?
It’s important to see that Paul didn’t just tell the Philippians to rejoice; he told them to rejoice in the Lord. While most of the world looks to their circumstances for the source of their happiness, Christians look to what is absolutely unchanging—the Lord. In case we missed it the first time, Paul said it to us again.
"This week, get started praying at a whole other level."
- What do we demonstrate about Jesus when we rejoice in Him even when our circumstances are going badly?
- What role does prayer play in our ability to rejoice in the Lord?
- Why is it essential that we both give thanks and let our requests be made known to God?
It’s essential that we pray during times that threaten our joy. When we pray, we not only must make the choice to give thanks; we should also tell God what we need. Many times, though, there is a deeper need behind what we think we need. We might, for example, pray for a job, but the deeper need is security. We might pray for a relationship but our deeper need is about our loneliness. As we pray, we should look behind our requests to see the true desires of our heart.
- What do you think is the true desire of your heart that’s behind your requests?
- How does it change your relationship with the Lord to know and admit what’s truly in your heart?
- Do you think it’s hard to be truly honest and transparent in prayer to God? Why or why not? Why do you think God wants you to do so?
God already knows what we need; the question is whether we know what we really need. It’s at this deep, heart level where God meets us, and it’s at this level that we find true peace.
- Why is the kind of peace described here beyond understanding?
- Does that mean everything is comfortable in your circumstances?
When God meets us in our true need, we find the peace that only He can give. This kind of peace is bigger than our understanding. In fact, when we have this peace from God that comes even when our circumstances aren’t perfect, we become a powerful testimony to those around us that Jesus is enough.
"If you're going to pray, you're going to need to do the work and remember growth and change are a process."
What are you anxious about right now? What in your life is trying to steal your joy? What is the true need behind that worry?
What steps are you asking God to take in this situation? What steps are you taking yourself?
How might God be growing your trust right now? How can you embrace what He’s trying to do in your life?
Pray and thank God that He already knows what you truly need. Pray that you and your group would be truly honest with Him and would find the peace that can only come from Him which surpasses understanding.