Do you know the difference between joy and happiness?
Joy comes from within, and happiness is from the outside. That sounds a little confusing, so let me explain it to you in a story. Written for children on my children's blog www.kidbiblelessons.com but I'm sure you will enjoy this devotion in story form.
There once was a family of four: a dad, mom, son, and daughter. Their last name was Nelson. They lived in a nice house in a small town in the mountains. The dad owned a gas station, and the mom worked as a librarian at the library. The boy’s name was Micah and the girl’s name was Molly. Micah was ten-years-old and Molly, seven-years-old.
Micah and Molly liked school and loved playing in the yard. Their yard was big and had a sandbox and a tree swing. They also liked to go to the library when their mom worked because they loved to read books. Once a week there was storytime at the library, and Micah and Molly loved to go to hear their mom read the story. All the children enjoyed listening to their mom read. She was a wonderful storyteller and made the stories come alive.
Everyone in town knew Mrs. Nelson, Micah and Molly's mom. Everyone loved her because she seems to be so pleasant all the time. Although she was a happy person, what people saw in her wasn’t happiness. It was a joy down deep in her being. Her happiness came from enjoying many things around her like family, home, playing, food, and so much more. But it wasn’t these outward things that made her full of joy. Her joy came from inside her. It came from the Holy Spirit who lived in her. When she was a little girl, she had accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior. At that moment, the Lord Jesus gave her the Holy Spirit to live in her. The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons in the Godhead. For more information on the Godhead, look at the lesson on faith in Faith 3.
Mrs. Nelson knew that the Lord would help her through anything that came her way. Years ago, when Mrs. Nelson’s mom got sick and died, it was terribly sad and difficult for her. She trusted the Lord to help her through it. She cried and she missed her mom. People were amazed she still smiled and even laughed during that time. That's because her joy did not depend on outward things to shine through and make her joyful. As a giving person, Mrs. Nelson made food and delivered it to people who were sick or injured. She gave Christmas presents to children who didn’t have much. She had a ready smile and an encouraging word.
A few years ago, a terrible snowstorm swirled through and knocked out power all over the mountain town. The snow fell all night long. When the people woke in the morning, they realized they were trapped in their homes. The snow piled to over ten feet deep and it took days to dig out and move the snow.
As soon as the Nelsons were able to get out of their home, Mrs. Nelson went to a neighbor’s house to check on them. They were elderly and she wanted to make sure they were unburied and had food. She helped some other people dig a tunnel to their front door. She gave these neighbors a hug and words to cheer them up along with the food she brought. As much as Mrs. Nelson overflowed with joy, Mr. Nelson didn't. Oh, he could get happy. He laughed at a good joke. He enjoyed playing softball. He liked owning his gas station. He loved his family. But still, something was missing in his heart. What do you think was missing? Joy and the Holy Spirit. He had never trusted the Lord as his Savior. How very sad!
When the storm came and buried the town in snow, he got angry. He couldn’t get out to open his gas station. He worried that they would lose too much money. He worried people would be mad because his station didn't open. Mrs. Nelson reminded him that no one could get to the station, so no one needed gas. She said they needed to be thankful for the time they had together. She said to be patient and enjoy this time of togetherness. Mrs. Nelson, Micah, and Molly played games by candlelight and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace while Mr. Nelson paced the floor wishing the snow would melt. Mr. Nelson asked Mrs. Nelson why she wasn’t upset. Mrs. Nelson said, "I can't do anything about it, so I'm going to enjoy the situation."
After two days, the power came on. They now had heat, light, and could cook food. This still did not make Mr. Nelson happy. He still worried.
He wouldn't leave the station because he thought he needed to be there to sell gas and fix cars. Two days went by, and he still had no customers. He was beside himself with worry. If people didn’t stop and buy gas or have their cars worked on, he wouldn't make any money. He started keeping the station open around the clock. He set up a cot there for him to sleep. He installed a bell system that alerted him if a car came into the lot, or someone opened the door. His worrying caused him to sleep and eat poorly. Soon he became sick. Mrs. Nelson brought him food and told him not to worry. She tried to get him to close the station and come home for a good night’s sleep, but he was afraid someone would need his service. Mrs. Nelson knew the Lord would take care of them but Mr. Nelson didn’t have faith.
Mr. Nelson got so sick he had to hire someone to run the station so he could go home and rest. He didn’t get well, he got worse. The doctor said he needed to go to the hospital! Mr. Nelson lay there very sick in the hospital. Micah and Molly came to visit him every day after school. They sang songs or told him about their day at school. Mrs. Nelson came as often as she could when she didn't work at the library. She came in with a big smile and a kiss. He loved her visits. The nurses also looked forward to her visits because she always had a kind word for them too, and she was so pleasant. They figured she'd never say a harsh word to anyone. When she was at the hospital, her children stayed with a neighbor. One day, Mr. Nelson took a turn for the worse. When she got the call from the head nurse, Mrs. Nelson rushed to her husband’s side. She smiled her big smile, hugged, and kissed him, but he was unconscious and unaware of her presence. That means he was in a deep sleep and could not be awakened. Mrs. Nelson sat with him and prayed all night. In the wee hours of the morning, she read aloud to him from her Bible. She continued to read to him until about 9:00 in the morning. She put her Bible down and rubbed her eyes. She got up, stretched, and drank the coffee the nurse had brought her. She was exhausted but didn’t want to leave his side. All of a sudden, Mr. Nelson’s right hand moved. His eyelids fluttered! Mrs. Nelson leaned over and said his name. His eyes did open that time. Excitement and happiness filled her.
Later that day, he said he had some questions for her. She wondered what he wanted, so she leaned closer to hear him. Weakly he asked, "How sick am I?"
She explained he had been asleep for over 18 hours. He asked her if she had been reading to him. He said he remembered hearing a voice. She told him she had been reading the Bible to him. Mr. Nelson smiled and said, “I’ve been watching you all these years and you have something I don’t have. You have a peace, a joy about you all the time. I want what you have.”
Mrs. Nelson was overjoyed! She said, “Honey, it is the Lord. As you know, I trusted the Lord as my Savior. The Holy Spirit lives in me. The Joy you see is Christ’s love. He gives me peace.
Then Mrs. Nelson opened her Bible again and shared verses. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
Mr. Nelson said, “I want to trust Jesus as my Savior. I think He has been trying to get my attention for a while now. I was just pig headed and would not listen. I guess it took getting so sick to get my attention.”
They both bowed their heads and Mr. Nelson prayed, admitting to Jesus he was a sinner and in need of a Savior. He asked Jesus to forgive his sin and to come into his life. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson were both crying, but they were tears of joy. Mr. Nelson now has the joyfulness down deep in his being just like Mrs. Nelson has. They both have Jesus as their Savior and the Holy Spirit living in them.
Boys and girls, aren’t you glad Mr. Nelson accepted Jesus as his Savior? I am too. Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? If not, please ask your parent, or Sunday School teacher, or your pastor to help you. I am praying for you.
Memorize: Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Verses in NKJ unless otherwise stated.
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