Joy: Week 5 Sermon Prep Zephaniah 3:14-17

This week, Dan intends to take a more devotional approach to the passage on Joy. To prepare for hearing this sermon, perhaps we should do the same.

Take time to read the passage each day. Journal about what sticks out to you. What troubles you? What encourages you? Do you see elements of these words coming alive in your own life or hopes? Note the mutual joy: instructed for the hearers and also promised from God. What does that say to you about Joy, God, and the nature of our relationship with Him? 

Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NASB)

Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
            Shout in triumph, O Israel!
            Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
            O daughter of Jerusalem!

      15The LORD has taken away His judgments against you,
            He has cleared away your enemies.
            The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
            You will fear disaster no more.

      16In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
            “Do not be afraid, O Zion;
            Do not let your hands fall limp.

      17“The LORD your God is in your midst,
            A victorious warrior.
            He will exult over you with joy,
            He will be quiet in His love,
            He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Joy: Week 4. Sermon Prep for October 23, 2016

Have you ever felt a surge of joy bubbling up inside you and then you catch it in your throat to keep from exploding with a shout or a song or exclamation? Maybe you tame it down to a slight smile. When it comes to Rejoicing in God, our passage this week says to let it all hang out!  


READ Philippians 4:4-9


What strikes you in these verses? What challenges you? What raises questions? What offers encouragement?


ReRead Verse 4:

Because at North Harbor, we’re about practicing elements of our spiritual life so that we can really see life transformation, try practicing what verse 4 talks about as many times as you can manage [shoot for at least 3 this week]: Rejoice in the Lord! When you get together with your group, share when and where and how you rejoiced. Say it outloud, sing it, write it down, do something to remove whatever inhibitions might typically hold you back, and when you feel love for God, joy in Him, let it out!


Note: this verse says “Rejoice in the Lord always.” What does this command say about God’s expectations around joy and how much He expects it to be dependent on our circumstances? Have you ever had joy in the Lord in an unlikely time?


ReRead Verses 6-7

I love how this verse is essentially acknowledging that things come up for us all the time that cause us concern AND it offers us something to do with this daily reality: talk to God about these things.

            Traditionally, Christians conclude prayers by saying, “Amen.”  This comes from the Hebrew word “aman” (ah-MAHN) and shows up in the bible for the first time in Genesis 15:6, where it is translated as “believed.” Feel free to check out the context and story around the word there to see if it offers additional insight on these Philippians passages. But the point is, as Peter Enns puts it, “Amen” isn’t just how we signal that prayers are concluded, it is a declaration of trust. We’re telling the Lord, “We’ve said our peace, gotten this stuff off our chests, and now we release this matter into your hands. Now we TRUST you with it.”  (See Peter Enns book: The Sin of Certainty, page 95)


What does it mean to you for the peace of God to be able to surpass every thought? Have you known that protection? What was or what would that be like?


ReRead Verses 8-9

These verses hit home with strong conviction for me right now. I’ve been having trouble pulling myself away from the news lately, and that lack of self-control works directly against the intent of these verses, and I am fully aware of the negative consequences. Many thoughts pass through our minds throughout the day (and night?), but what does your mind tend to dwell on? What is one thing that fits this prescription that your mind would delight to dwell on for the coming week?


Peace comes up a second time in this short passage here. What do you learn about who God is, and how His peace is related to our joy in these verses?


Read Psalm 23

If you hadn’t found something lovely for your mind to dwell on, this passage is never a bad idea! Do you see any connections between this chapter and the verses in Philippians? What do you come to know about God looking at them together? What are God’s desires for you as far as where and how you dwell? Where do you see joy in Psalm 23? 

Joy: Week 3. Sermon Prep for Oct. 16

READ Matthew 13:44-46

Note: translations vary, but in some, verse 44 says “in his joy, he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.”


What strikes you about this passage? What questions does it raise for you? Does anything resonate with you personally? Does anything make you uncomfortable or confused?


Consider the relationship between desire and delight. How does the Kingdom of God provide satisfaction of desire in this parable?


REVIEW Galatians 5:22-25 [the sermon theme for this year]


READ all of Matthew 13.

Note that in multiple illustrations to explain the Kingdom of God, this chapter uses imagery of good fruit. What does that ad to your understanding of the Kingdom of God, the Fruit of the Spirit, and in particular, what JOY has to do with these things?


There is a challenging complexity to the ownership involved in the work that brings about the Fruit of the Spirit. As much as might consider ourselves to have a responsibility to garden in such a way as to bring about fruit, passages like Dan has been preaching on [John 15] indicate God as the gardener doing the pruning. Joy too, is such an emotional thing, that it is hard to forcibly manufacture. Has true spiritual joy ever sprung up in your life? What do you think did contribute to that experience? Between your experiences and these passages, what does it look like to participate in God’s purposes and see fruit born in your own life?


READ Philippians 3:7-11

Describe how you see joy being illustrated in these verses. How do these verses illuminate a qualitative difference between that which holds joy and that, which does not?


For more study into this passage and theme, check out John Piper’s series: “Jesus and the Journey to Joy” [part 4 touches on these particular verses]


Apply Yourself to This Message:

Where have you discovered the Kingdom of God? How have you sacrificed to take hold of that treasure? How might you make this discovery or sacrifice?


How deep are your desires? For what do you settle that God wants to more deeply satisfy in another way? 

JOY week 1

Sermon Prep for October 2, 2016. Week 1 of Joy [Fruit of the Spirit]

note: feel free to take just one question grouping over ~5 days, one/day to allow yourself to be steeped in the scripture over a longer period of time, allowing it to sink deeply into your heart

READ John 15: Jesus as the True Vine

What strikes you? What encourages you? What challenges you? What questions does this passage raise for you?



Continuing in our series on the Fruit of the Spirit, this passage launches us into the topic of Joy. This may be somewhat surprising as the chapter begins with the challenging topic of pruning. What do you learn about Joy in this chapter? What does that teach you about pruning?



REVIEW Galatians 5:22-25

What do you learn by holding these two passages together?



Apply yourself to this message:

What would it look like for your joy to overflow?



Apply your group to this message:

Think back to last month’s topic: Love, which is so bound up in these verses with joy. What would your group look like if you followed Christ [were discipled!] in the way He calls you to in these verses? What would it look like for joy to overflow in your group context?