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Be Cheerful

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BE CHEERFUL 

Scripture; Nehemiah 8:10; Proverbs 15:13–15, 16:20, 17:22, 29:18; Acts 16:11–34

Memory verse: Proverbs 16:20
"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord."

Lead—In

You will need a clear glass or plastic container, a short candle, matches, and a bottle of soda water. This object lesson will show that one of the ways we can let our light shine for Jesus is by being cheerful.

Begin by lighting the candle. Tell the students that this candle represents a person who is happy. Ask the class for reasons why this person might be happy. Then explain that the major reason a person is truly happy is because he knows Jesus. Point out that when we know Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, there is a certain peace or brightness that others can see in us.

Set the candle inside the container. Begin pouring the soda water slowly into the container, not letting the liquid touch the flame. The students will notice that the flame is going out. The flame should go out before the liquid reaches the top of the candle. Explain that soda water produces carbon dioxide in the bubbles that fizz up. Carbon dioxide is the product that results from burning; it itself cannot burn. Therefore, when it settles around the flame, it pushes away the oxygen that is needed to keep the flame burning. That is why the flame goes out.

Relate this to disobedient or discouraged Christians. Explain that when we sin, we lose our joy and happiness. The sin makes our joy go out just like the carbon dioxide makes the flame go out. We can also lose our joy when we allow problems to discourage us. Our radiance will be affected and others will not be able to see the joy of the Lord in us. Ask the students how we could prevent that from happening. Then stress that we can keep that happiness only through trusting God, obeying His Word, and serving Him daily.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “What makes you really happy?” (Take time to let the students respond.)

Ask: “Do you think it is possible to always be happy?” (Allow responses.)

People respond to events in life in different ways. A person can seem to be happy when deep inside they may be hurting and miserable. On the other hand, a person may be in the midst of sad or sorrowful situations, but inside he has a deep peace and contentment. This inner strength is helping him overcome the hard situations.

Joy—A Response to Life

Whether or not we will be cheerful depends on us and our response to the situations we face. Have you ever met someone who seemed to always be gloomy and down on life? That kind of person has allowed problems to weigh him down until there is nothing to be happy about. Sadly, most people in that situation have never discovered the true source of joy and happiness—God’s love.

In Psalm 16:11, David wrote the beautiful words, “You will fill me with joy in your presence.” David was writing about God’s presence. When we have a growing relationship with God’s Son, Jesus, we too can know inner joy. We can have a cheerful attitude because we know God loves and cares for us.

Ask: “What is the second fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22?” (Allow responses.)

Joy is a characteristic every Christian should show. It is a result of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives after we accept Jesus as our Saviour. If a person who says he is a Christian does not show joy, his relationship with Christ is not growing as it should.

Joy is a Christian Characteristic

Joy should be a trait of Christians. Since Jesus gives us so many reasons to be happy, joy should be the natural result. Someone said, “If you are happy, notify your face.” Serving Jesus is an exciting way of life. His followers have every reason to look happy. Jesus will never leave us!

Solomon wrote, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (Proverbs 15:13.) That means if we are cheerful on the inside, it is going to show on the outside—or at least it should.

Ask: “Maybe you have seen a stranger in a store, restaurant, or on the street, and you were almost sure that person was a Christian. Why?” (Allow responses.)

Someone who has Jesus in his heart should reflect His presence. Jesus’ love will show in the way that person treats others and in the expression on his face.

Do you think a stranger would identify you as a Christian? Does the joy of Jesus shine through you? It is something to think about.

Joy is Healthy

Not only does a cheerful attitude show Jesus’ presence in our lives, it is also good for us physically and emotionally. Medical doctors will tell you that a cheerful, happy attitude is a good medicine. Our emotions play an important role in how we feel. Ulcers, skin problems, and headaches are often caused by stress and tension. Anger that is stored up inside us will display itself in ways that can be harmful to our bodies. A happy attitude is much healthier.

Think about this. Have you ever noticed that when you are unhappy and irritable, you seem to notice little aches and pains more? Because you feel worse, you will find yourself getting even more unhappy. The unhappier you feel, the worse your body feels. This vicious “cycle” can be damaging to you—both physically and mentally.

God has known about this problem all along. That is why He directed Solomon to write, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22.) A cheerful attitude will make you (and others) feel better.

Think about the person who is always complaining. He says his mother is making him work too hard; he is always bored; his friends always cheat when they play games. On and on he complains.

Ask: “What is your reaction to a person like that?” (Allow responses.)

Who wants to be around a constant complainer? But you do want to be around someone with a cheerful attitude. Their joy makes other people feel better and it seems to be contagious.

The Key to Joy

This week’s memory verse gives us the key to keeping a happy, cheerful attitude. (Repeat the memory verse with the students.) This verse gives us a double promise. If we obey God’s instructions, we will be successful. Then, as we trust God to guide us, we will be blessed. A dictionary definition for blessed is “Enjoying happiness.” Solomon gave us the key to a happy life. When we do our part by trusting God and living for Him, God will do His part by blessing our lives and filling us with joy. We will have a joyful attitude because we have the assurance that God is in control of everything that happens to us.

When it comes to having a positive, cheerful attitude, two men mentioned in the New Testament readily come to mind. (Have the students locate Acts 16:16–34 in their Bibles and scan it quickly. Let volunteers briefly recount the familiar events.)

Imagine Paul and Silas’ situation. Conditions were bad. They had been severely beaten. Then they were thrown into jail and their feet were fastened to stocks, which are wooden frames with holes where the hands and feet can be locked. They were bruised and bleeding from the beating and the stocks were uncomfortable. Add to that a dark, damp, filthy jail cell.

If anyone had a right to grumble and complain, it would have been Paul and Silas. Instead of having a normal reaction to this situation, Paul and Silas sang and praised God! How could anyone sing at a time like that? They could have easily spent the night groaning in pain or asking themselves why this had happened. Yet Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God. Their hearts were so full of joy because of their love for God, that even in a miserable jail cell they could sing.

Ask: “What does this event prove to us?” (Allow responses.)

With Jesus in our lives, we can be full of joy regardless of the problems we face. As long as are obeying and trusting God, we can have the assurance that He will guide us through any situation.

Accepting God's Word

Sometimes it is hard to be cheerful. Maybe problems at home cause us unhappiness. Maybe our family or friends have disappointed us and have dampened our joy. Outside pressures can certainly make it hard to be cheerful. But remember, we can have joy, happiness, and peace through Jesus. His presence in our lives makes everything different.

Tell the students that joy comes from a close, daily relationship with Jesus, being born again. The way to build our relationship with Him is to read the Bible and talk with Him every day. Attending church and obeying God’s commands are a result of loving Him. Sharing the joy of the Lord with others is an overflow of inner happiness. We want them to know the Giver of joy too.

Making a Living

The livelihood of the Fula Jalon is primarily based on farming and shepherding. Gathering forest produce, hunting, fishing, and trading are also part of their daily lives. Staple crops include millet, rice, and peanuts. Cattle herds, along with sheep and goats, are the primary livestock. The cattle are not the usual Fulani "humped" breed, but a native Fouta Djallon breed that is resistant to the disease-carrying tsetse fly.

Herding cattle is usually a male activity; however, the women milk and take care of the cattle. Women also care for the poultry and small livestock, as well as cultivate the gardens. Women often carry containers of milk and cheese to sell or trade in local markets. 

REMEMBER TO PRAY! 
God's Heart for the Fula Jalon

1. Open their minds to understand that God is like a shepherd,
2. Recognize they are like lambs whom God wants to gather in His arms,
3. Submitted to God, He will carry them as His very own, close to His heart.

Prayer Promise

"He carries them close to his heart" (Isaiah 40:11).

Remember: BE CHEERFUL

Memory verse: Proverbs 16:20
"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord."

1. True, constant joy comes from knowing Jesus as my Saviour.
2. Joy comes from knowing that God is in control of every aspect of my life.
3. My response to the circumstances of life determines the level of my joy.

Pray for God to gather the Fula Jalon into His arms of grace and mercy.

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Study 15 | Migrants—Proverbs | africaatts.org/go-teach

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