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Sabbath School Lessons on Fruit of the Spirit
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy *
Introduction: Is life a little bit discouraging? You get up each day
and go through the same routine. Then you go to bed. The next day
you do it all over again. Sort of like a rat on a treadmill. Would
you like a little more joy? Our lesson this week reveals how a
Christian can have joy not only in everyday life, but also in
difficult times. Let's jump right into our study and discover the
Bible's secret to joy!
- Joy in Conflict?
- Read Philippians 4:2-3. What does this suggest is going
on between these two women? Are they good people?(These
are good Christians who simply disagree with each other.
Paul wants them to stop the fight.)
- Read Philippians 4:4-5. Is there a connection between the
dispute and Paul's next statement about rejoicing?
- If you say "yes," how can a person be in a dispute
and still rejoice? (Some people have an evil
attitude that enjoys conflict, but normal people do
not like to be in a dispute. Something different is
going on here.)
- If you say, "no," does this dispute at least
illustrate that you cannot "always" rejoice? Is Paul
suggesting the impossible?
- Last week we studied love and decided that we needed
a lot of help to love certain people the way God
suggests we should. Is joy or rejoicing all the
time just like that - we need a lot of help with it?
- What does Paul's direction to rejoice "in the Lord"
mean? What does it suggest for our discussion about
rejoicing in difficult circumstances? (When our joy
depends on humans, we have the problem of changes in
their mood. When our joy comes from God, we have an
unchanging Father who continually loves and cares
for us. These two women had a common reason to
rejoice - their relationship with God. So do we.)
- Sheep Joy
- Read Luke 15:3-6. Is the shepherd calling for a party?
- Read Luke 15:7. The picture is that God and His angels
experience joy when we accept Jesus. If you were the lost
sheep, how would you feel about being found?
- Compare the happiness of the sheep with the
happiness of the shepherd? Who should be
happier?(The shepherd has 99 other sheep. For him,
that lost sheep is one percent of his concern. For
the sheep itself, its own welfare is 100% of its
concern. The sheep should be one hundred times
happier than the shepherd.)
- How should that thought play into our joy in the
Lord? (The mere fact that God saved us from eternal
death and forgave our ugly sins should be a source
for great joy!)
- Obedience Joy
- Read John 15:9-10. If we disobey God, does He stop loving
- If you say, "God always loves us regardless of our
actions," what does He mean when He says "If" you
obey, you will remain in my love? Isn't that clearly
- Read Matthew 7:21. Is obedience the key not only to God's
love, but the key to the kingdom of heaven?
- Read Psalms 19:8. Do God's precepts (His rules) give joy
to us even when we do not obey them?
- If not, does that mean that joy, like God's love, is
conditional on obedience?
- Let's go back to John 15. Read John 15:10-11. It seems
that God takes joy in our obedience to Him. How do we
have complete joy in obedience? What about obedience
gives us joy? (I'm coming to believe that the Bible is
not so much a book about rewards for obedience, as it is
a book revealing the secret laws of the universe. When
Psalms 19:8 refers to "giving light to the eyes," it
means we see something about the way the universe
operates that we did not see before. God loves us even
when we are sinners ( Romans 5:8). But, in His great love,
God revealed to us the rules for better living. If we
obey those rules we benefit from God's wisdom. Living
better gives us joy. If we stray from the rules we suffer
and that takes away our joy.)
- Let's continue reading what Jesus says about the
relationship between obedience and heaven. Read Matthew
7:21-23. When I added the next two verses, it sounds like
the people who are lost also had works. If obedience and
works are not the key to the kingdom of heaven, what is?
- Let's continue with Jesus' essay by reading Matthew 7:24-27. What relationship do we find between obedience and
better living? (This is another example of my secret rule
book theory. If works can save us, those who performed
miracles and drove out demons should have been saved.
Instead, the person who survived and thrived is the one
who understands the principle of building on a proper
foundation. The person who knew that secret, and used
that knowledge, was able to withstand the storms of
- Destination Joy
- Read John 16:16-18. Do you understand what Jesus'
disciples did not understand? (That Jesus was going to
leave them, but that He would come back to see them after
- Read John 16:19-24. Jesus mentions joy several times in
these verses. As you consider the context, what is a
source of joy for you today? (Just as the disciples would
have joy in Jesus' resurrection, so we can have joy in
the fact that Jesus has overcome sin on our behalf.)
- Read John 16:33. In the prior section, I suggested that
obedience to God's secret rule book gives us a better
life. Does this text show that I am wrong? (The disciples
were heading for unavoidable trouble and we will have
trouble in our life. Following God's rules not only
helps to keep us out of unnecessary trouble, but when we
get into necessary trouble, the knowledge that Jesus has
defeated sin is the source of both joy and hope.)
- Spirit Joy
- Our series is about the Fruit of the Spirit. We have not
said a word about the relationship of the Holy Spirit to
joy. Let's explore that. Read Galatians 5:22-25. Is the
sinful nature opposed to joy? How does the Holy Spirit
help us to have joy? (The suggestion is that sinful
passions and desires are contrary to a Spirit led life.
They lead to trouble.)
- Is that how we experience joy in the Holy Spirit -
because we are released from sinful passions and
- Read Acts 2:28. We have a reference here to God's secret
rule book of life, but we also are told that God's
presence brings us joy. How can we come into the presence
of God? (This is the Holy Spirit. God's spirit can be
everywhere - which allows you to live in the presence of
God. This text (quoting David) links God's presence and
knowing and following "the paths of light" - God's secret
- Read Acts 8:6-8. By whose power were the people healed?
How is this joy connected with the presence of God?
(Philip healed through the power of the Holy Spirit. The
power of the Spirit to help us with the problems of life
- Read Acts 13:49-52. Have you ever been asked to leave?
Have you ever been tossed out of a city, church or home?
- Would you say that you were happy about it?
- The text says the disciples were filled with joy
"and" with the Holy Spirit. Why are they joyful
about getting booted out? What has that to do with
the Holy Spirit? (Normally, we do not take joy in
rejection. However, the presence of God reassured
the disciples that they were doing the right thing.
That gave them joy.)
- Friend, would you like more joy in your life? I'm sure
you would. Why not increase your joy by asking the Holy
Spirit to come into your life and lead your thoughts and
actions into obedience to God?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.