Small Group Questions

Stress: Under New Management: How to have joy no matter what happens 

Introduction:

Pain, pressure, people, and problems can kill your joy, but when you approach every situation with faith and not fear, God will be the ultimate source of your joy. In this message, we share four principles for being happy no matter what happens in your life. Learn how God can bring good out of anything, and how to stay focused on your purpose, and not problems.

Bottom Line: Joy is a choice. 

Something To Talk About: 

In seasons where dark clouds seem to loom, one of the last thoughts we would have would be to choose joy. Often when things are difficult, our focus is on the problems, the anxieties of what could happen, and the fear that things will never change. Each day we have the choice to feed our fears, or to feed our joy.

  1. Choose joy: remembering God can bring good out of anything: When bad things happen, we tend to wonder where God is, or why He allowed the bad thing to happen. But God uses all things for good. You may not believe it at this present moment, especially if you’re stuck in whatever you’re going through, but it’s true.  It seems amazing, doesn’t it? That God would choose to transform something that was really bad into a good thing. Yet He can. This truth should give us joy. No one longs to wade through deep rivers of hurt, rejection, and pain, or to try to find your way out of the darkness of confusion and doubt. Maybe that’s why God reminds us over and over in His word that trials are a part of our journey. It’s what makes us stronger, gives us endurance, builds our faith. He tells us not to be surprised at the troubles we face, but to “keep on rejoicing.” “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
  2. Choose joy: never letting others control my attitude: Have you ever found yourself with a bad attitude. Then you remember James 1:2 which says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” The last thing I felt like doing was considering all of my troubles “an opportunity for great joy.” If we read this verse as a stand-alone suggestion, it seems impossible to realistically put into practice. James wanted people to understand the inner joy could still be theirs, if they deliberately chose to take control of their thinking and change their attitude. He encouraged them to pause and refocus on their faith. Although enduring problems with a smile and pure joy in our hearts can be difficult, doing so not only helps us become stronger believers, it opens the door for an attitude transformation. Our attitudes are an outward display of what’s taking place in our hearts. When our hearts focus in the right place, our attitudes will, too. The only thing we have to lose by choosing a positive attitude is a negative one.
  3. Choose joy: trusting God to always work things out: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28) Life often brings moments that are difficult, yet we know God is up to something good in your life, even if you can’t see it. God also doesn’t say that everything works together like we want it to or that every story will have a happy ending. Instead, this verse reminds us that we can have absolute confidence that the Master Designer of the universe causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God. We know with absolute confidence that every part of our life ultimately makes sense, even when it looks like a mess at times. But God’s view from heaven isn’t the same as ours. You can’t even imagine the good that God has in store for your future. You can trust Him with your present circumstances and your future, because He is always working for your good.
  4. Choose joy: stay focused on my purpose not my problem: When you stay focused on your purpose instead of your problem, you can be happy even when life seems to be falling apart. Paul was an old man when he was in prison in Rome, awaiting execution. Everything had been taken from him—his friends, his freedom, his ministry, even his privacy, with a guard chained to him 24 hours a day.  But there was one thing they could not take away from Paul: his purpose. Paul made the choice to stay focused on his purpose, even when he had lost everything else. What was his purpose? Serving God by serving others. Paul says in Philippians 1:22-25 (GNT) “If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and your joy in the faith”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you tend to focus on your circumstances? Explain. How would you fill-in-the-blank? I’d be happy if ______ occurs? 
  2. Happiness is what happens to you; joy is what is produced in you. Agree or disagree and why? 
  3. Happiness is insecure; joy is confident. Agree or disagree and why? 
  4. Do you find it easy to be full of joy? Why or why not?
  5. Happiness is dictated by the facts; joy is defined by the truth. Are you in the habit of counting your blessings when things get tough?
  6. Can you think of an occasion when you were encouraged by watching the faith of another believer in action as they trusted the outcome of their current circumstances to God?  Talk about what you learned as you watched.
  7. Do you believe that God can use the bad experiences of your life for good? If so, how is that revealed in the way you talk with others about what you are experiencing?
  8. In which experience from your life do you have the most difficult time seeing the good that God will bring?
  9. What do you believe is your purpose in life?
  10. Once you realize that how you respond is your choice, how does that change your perspective on a difficult situation?
  11. What distractions or influences can keep you focused on your problem and not your purpose?
  12. What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?

Take one thing home with you:

Good and bad happen in everyone’s life. Why would God want to use a crisis in our lives? Crises tend to be bad, but God often does some very good things through these bad experiences. There are things that God teaches in a crisis that is much harder for us to learn at other times. For instance, in a crisis, we begin to discover just how little control we really have over our lives. Humbled, we begin to pray more sincerely and worship more deeply.

We may also begin to realize what really matters most to us. God can take the worst life brings and turn it into something good if you’ll put your trust in Him. He’s in the business of turning chaos into a masterpiece when we turn our life over to Him