Friday, July 04, 2008

Are you truly happy?

This week my small group curriculum explores the topic of happiness as we study the "red letter" words of Jesus in the Beatitudes.

Big Idea:
Happiness in God’s economy is measured and acquired very differently than the happiness advanced by this world. The happiness of this world is achieved through self promotion and indulgence, while the blessings of God are the result of a surrendered life. The happiness of this world is fake and fleeting, while God’s prescription for happiness goes deep and lasts forever.

Jesus has reversed human values; He has turned this world inside-out and claims that happiness (true fulfillment and blessing) is not the result of fame, pleasure or money. Rather, happiness is the residue of a holy life that is submitted to God and His values. Here’s the worlds list of happy people: [1] the proud, [2] the boisterous, [3] the beautiful, [4] those who seek pleasure, [5] the rich and powerful, [6] the fun-loving and wild, [7] the bold, and [8] the popular. Now, let’s take a look at Jesus’ list of happy people: [1] the poor in spirit - someone that is spiritually humble; [2] those who mourn - grieve over their own sinfulness; Godly sorrow; [3] the meek - considerate, gentle, unassuming; [4] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness - desiring an obedient life. Jesus says, “ if you love me, you will obey me”; [5] the merciful - showing pity; [6] the pure in heart - personal purity, trying to live a life without sin; [7] the peacemakers - those who work toward friendly relations; [8] the persecuted - those who suffer for Christ’s sake.

So, which list best describes you – the worlds list or Jesus’ list? Which characteristics of happiness are you pursuing? (Feel free to stop and discuss in your group.)

Pursuing God’s definitions of happiness and blessing should not be intimidating, causing us to give up, or feeling that it is beyond our feeble efforts to achieve. God has given us all we need to be Beatitude happy – His powerful grace is enough. He is looking for our desire to strive for these characteristics and implant them in our daily lives. Remember, don’t worry, be HAPPY!

Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)

Matthew 5:1-12
Discuss why we experience true happiness and blessing when we live our lives like this. Which of these characteristics is hardest for you to exhibit? What can you do to make that characteristic part of your life? Discuss as a group.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
How does this passage depict a life lived purely for personal gain and the happiness promoted by the world? What kind of things do we pursue that will ultimately bring disappointment and emptiness rather than happiness?

2 Peter 1:3-4
What excuses do people give for not living-out the Beatitudes? How does this passage encourage you? Discuss why it is possible to be truly happy.

Taking Action: Begin each day next week by meditating on the Beatitudes. Ask God to reveal to you a practical action that you can take in order to grow in one or more of the Beatitude characteristics today. Go for it and become Beatitude happy.

Ministry Time

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