Title: Sharing with Joy
The Point: I can share Christ with joy no matter what.
Get Into the Study
As New Year’s celebrations settle down and before the red hearts of Valentine’s Day can hit the stores there is another holiday to get kicked off—Mardi Gras. This is the time of year for a great celebration from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana. One of the best parts of Mardi Gras is King Cake! The tradition around the King Cake is for friends, family, and neighbors to come together for a sweet treat that includes a plastic baby hidden inside the cake. Whoever gets the plastic baby in their piece of cake buys the next King Cake so everyone can gather again.
Here’s the thing, King Cake season doesn’t begin until Twelfth Night which is the official day the Mardi Gras season beings. In New Orleans, everyone has their favorite bakery and flavor and some people literally camp outside the bakery doors to get their top choice. King Cakes are celebrated in New Orleans! It may sound silly that some people count down the days until they can stand outside a bakery at 5am just to get a King Cake, but it’s a moment of celebration shared with friends and strangers.
As your group beings their time together, see if there is something that happens annually, like King Cakes, that people in your group celebrate by sharing the experience with others. This could be birthdays, adoption anniversaries, the remembrance of a loved one, the marker of God providing unexpectedly, or anything of that sort.
Ask: How do you typically share your moments of celebration? How do we as a group share moments of celebration?
Allow time for group members to respond, then shift the conversation to sharing Christ with the same joy. Wrap up this introduction to the session by explaining that when we share Christ with others, we can do so with confident joy because we know firsthand Jesus is our greatest treasure.
http://www.mardigrasday.com/king-cakes/history-of-king-cakes/ accessed January 9, 2017.
—Dr. Beth Masters works with college students at Mississippi College where she is the Director of Christian Life and Ministries. She has a PhD in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Beth loves young adults, baking, and coffee.
Use the following illustration to conclude this session by challenging your group members to live each day this week in a way the reflects the joy of Christ.
Recently, a 59-year- old mail carrier named Rudy Alex Loosa, from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, passed away on the job. That isn’t unusual in and of itself. We hear about death all the time. It’s on our Facebook trends, it’s in the lives of our closest friends, and it happens in our own families.
But Mr. Loosa’s death was so widely noted, so grieved, and so felt by the neighborhood where he delivered mail that they wrote a full-page article about him in the Chicago Tribune.
You see, Mr. Loosa wasn’t just a mailman — he was a man filled with the joy of Christ. One of the residents on his mail route explained, “He really had a genuine excitement and interest in what you were doing, the same way a parent would have enthusiasm for what a child had done.” Mr. Loosa’s daughter shared with the Tribune that her father’s friendliness was founded “in his great love for Jesus Christ,” which fostered a love for the people around him. Mr. Loosa used his time to pray for the neighborhoods where he delivered mail. Upon hearing of his death, those neighbors have started putting red ribbons on their mailboxes in his honor.
It doesn’t really matter what we do — what are jobs might be or where we spend our time. When we live our lives with Christ as the foundation of our joy, it naturally outpours into the rest of our lives. Rudy Alex Loosa was a great man because he loved the Lord, and he let that love transform his life. And now, because of him, major newspapers are willingly sharing the gospel.
— Ashley Emmert wrote this Leader Extra. She is a freelance writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her sweet Southern husband and their small scrappy dogs. Find her at ashleygraceemmert.com or on Twitter @ashgemmert.
- What experience taught you how to share?
- When have you seen God bring about radical change in someone’s life?
- Who do you know who has experienced dramatic life changes, spiritual or otherwise?
- What’s something you love to share?
- What difference did Paul’s imprisonment make to others?
- Why do our problems get in the way of sharing the gospel?
- Why is divine perspective so important – especially in tough times?
- How does our view of human ministries change if we focus on the Savior instead of on the speakers?
- Given Paul’s response in this section, how would he likely respond to our celebrity culture?
- How do you usually react to criticism?
- “For to me to live is ___________?” What would your closest friends, spouse, children, family members, and co-workers say is most important in your life?
- How would you fill in that blank? “For me to live is _____?”
- How can we daily live in such a way that shows Christ as our greatest treasure?
- How does vs.21 shape the way we view life decisions, goals, and values?
Share the following with your group members as either a devotional before the group study or as a follow-up devotional:
Here’s a brief five-minute teaching video about this session: Thrive, Session 2