Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building Character: Joyfulness

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit.
We are just getting started, so up until now, we have only talked about Love.
If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week, we are talking about JOYFULNESS.  I especially like the operational definition of this one because it focuses on our spiritual state rather than circumstances in life that are out of our control.  Even when we are experiencing sorrow in our lives, we can have inner joy knowing that God has given us the gift of salvation.

JOYFULNESS vs. self-pity or sorrow -
Pouring out a happy spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord.

The corresponding Bible passage we used is Psalm 16:11 - "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

I chose the Bible story of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to the tabernacle in Jerusalem, where it was once again in its rightful place in 2 Samuel 6.  We talked about how the Philistines, enemies of God had stolen it (1 Samuel 4), but with God's help David was able to defeat the Philistine army (2 Samuel 5).  Now David wanted to bring glory to the Lord by bringing the ark back to Jerusalem.

The only problem was that David and the priests did not obey God's commands about how to handle the ark the first time.  They put the ark on a new cart pulled by oxen and when the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark.  God was angry that Uzzah would disobey the command to never touch the ark and struck Uzzah dead for his disobedience.  David went from being joyful, to being sober-minded as he realized his terrible mistake.  The ark stayed in a nearby house for three months while David learned what to do.

Finally, David was ready to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and he was prepared to do it in the way God commanded, with the priests carrying it by the poles.  Along the way, David made many animal sacrifices to the Lord and David was so filled with joy that the Bible says that he came into the city dancing and leaping with all his might before the Lord.  There were trumpets sounding and shouts of joy, cymbals, harps and stringed instruments playing, and when the ark was set in its place in the tabernacle, David offered more animal sacrifices and peace offerings to the Lord.  Then David joyfully blessed the people of Israel and shared a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins with each person. 

David also wrote this Psalm to express his joy that day:  1 Chronicles 16:8-36
I suggest reading the first and the last part at the very least.  If the Littles are getting restless, this can be saved for a reading at another time of the day or for another day's Bible time.

Discussion:  Why did David want to bring the ark back to Jerusalem?  (Selfish reasons or for the glory of God?)  Discuss the difference between the first time David tried to bring back the ark when it was not done according to God's commands and the second time when it was done in obedience.  Which gave true joy?  Talk about the outward ways David poured out a happy spirit in this story - what things did he do to show his joy?

Joyfulness is discussed throughout the Bible and I'll be honest and say that I struggle with outwardly showing my joy.  This verse is one of my very favorites, and I try to keep it posted prominently to help me remember to keep a joyful heart no matter what my outside circumstances:

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