Summer is a great time to focus on helping our children build godly character since we have more free time. Why not use that free time to focus on something that will benefit you year round? You’ll see your children making effort to be a blessing to each other as you focus on godly character in a fun and engaging way.
I’m super excited to share some lessons on building godly character that were written by my dear friend, Kris Hage. I’ll be sharing one of her character building articles each week through the summer with fun activities to incorporate into your week.
With the pandemic and all the stress and loss that happened along with it, it’s not been an easy year to find joy. As believers, God says that His Spirit will give us joy. That is true even in difficult times. What a great truth to teach our children! I’m excited to share this next post in the Fruit of the Spirit Series on Joy and pray it will be an encouragement to you and your family.
This article on joy is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators. It originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org.
Character Corner ~ JOY
Welcome back to our exploration of the Fruit of the Spirit! Number two is JOY!
Summertime in Minnesota is probably the easiest season in which to be joyful. But what about those long, gray, yucky, wet days in late March when all the kids have cabin fever and the parents are going crazy? Of course, the weather is not all that can get us down. Trials and difficulties come in all shapes and sizes. To carry us through, we need the joy that can only come from God’s Holy Spirit, not our circumstances.
Paul prayed for the Colossians that they might be “strengthened with all might, according to his (God’s) glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). How is that possible? Be joyful through our suffering? Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). The Lord Jesus himself is our joy!
Here’s a beautiful prayer we can pray to him each morning for the filling of all the Fruit of the Spirit:
“Empower us by Your Spirit to be people who are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-restrained. Since we live by the Spirit—our spiritual life comes from Him—we beg You to help us walk daily in His strength. Anything less is neither worthy of You nor consistent with our new nature as Christians.”
Exploring God’s Word
Since we grow to know and love Jesus Christ through reading his amazing letter to us—the Bible—here are some JOYFUL verses to share with your family. As in each of our character studies together, I am giving you the references with a summary. You will reap the most wonderful harvest by reading and discussing them together as a family.
Paul’s letter to the Philippian church has been called “the joy epistle” because he tells them about his joy in the Lord and exhorts them to “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I will say, rejoice!” He was practicing what he prayed for the Colossians because he was rejoicing even while in prison—talk about suffering! But notice the key: his JOY was in the LORD. Take time to read through this brief letter together as a family, perhaps some night right after dinner.
The Thessalonian church received the same exhortation to be joyful in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The other apostles had the same message of joy: James said to count it all joy when you encounter various trials (James 1:2-4) and Peter told the Christians that when they believe in Jesus, even though they cannot see him now, they “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
The Old Testament is filled with joyful verses as well, especially in the Psalms (the Hebrew songbook), since we sing for joy in the salvation God has given us. Psalm 16:11 reminds us that fullness of joy is in the presence of the LORD and Psalm 118:24 exhorts us to remember that each day is from the LORD and we should rejoice and be glad in it. The best medicine is given in Proverbs 17:22—a joyful heart! Nehemiah 8:9-11 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength and there was great rejoicing among the people when they understood God’s Word. Lastly, one of my favorites (there are so many, it is hard to choose) is Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…”
Putting It Into Practice
Play the classic Bible game Sword Drill with JOY verses. Using the list below, have each child hold a closed Bible above his or her head. Dad or Mom calls out the first reference, says, “Swords ready…Go!” and the children try to be the first one to find and read the verse out loud. (If you have an only child, make the clock the thing to beat.) You may give a prize to the winner, if you wish, but everyone gets the benefit of knowing his or her way around the Bible better and of hearing God’s Word. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
Sword Drill Verses
1 Peter 1:8
3 John verse 4
(Hint: the most helpful tool to learn the order of our Bible is to sing “The Books of the Old and New Testament”—see Wee Sing Bible Songs below.)
My Heart is Full of Joy
It’s amazing how a song will lift a discouraged heart!Singing brings joy even to the most depressing, discouraging, demanding day. Teach your children songs of joy, especially scripture verses set to music. Choose the style your family enjoys from websites like these:
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. (Psalm 5:11 KJV)
Joy is often a natural by-product of homeschooling since we have more time than families whose children are away all day to take advantage of the things we like to do together: arts-n-crafts, sports, time with extended family, park excursions, beach days, field trips, church activities, homeschool group outings, etc. Be purposeful about making time to build lasting relationships with your children.
Make a Joyful Noise unto the LORD
Birds of all kinds bring joy to us with the melodies God has given them, so much so that many nursing homes have installed aviaries to entertain and encourage the elderly. You may bring added joy to their days if you take your children with their heartfelt songs to visit some elderly people and enjoy the amazing birds in the aviary at the same time. There are few places you can observe birds so up close and personal.
 John MacArthur, At the Throne of Grace (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011) 172.
 1Peter 2:2-3
 Philippians 4:4
 Based on Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12.
Interested in learning more on Growing the Fruit of the Spirit?
Please share any ways that your family has found to help develop the fruit of JOY below!