Happiness. When was a time that the students in your ministry were truly happy? Do your students know what real & lasting happiness is, and do they know how to get it?
Jesus offers us a view of what it means to be happy (and the path to get there). This view is radically different from what your students might expect.
Jesus says that happiness comes in ways that we least expect it: through suffering, grief, loss, persecution, and poverty.
When we study “The Beatitudes”, we get the feeling that Jesus is saying something revolutionary here, yet, at the same time it feels like a brain twister or a riddle that is right out of our grasp.
I think that Jesus meant for his words to be this way, though.
He wanted us to scratch our heads and say “What”?
Because if you really think about what Jesus is saying in these few sentences, you begin to realize that he is turning everything we’ve ever believed about happiness upside down.
Happiness isn’t something that comes to us, rather, it seems to be who we are in the midst of whatever happens to us, even the hard stuff.
That is deep.
So, ask yourself as you prepare for this lesson: Are you truly happy and finding that happiness in the kingdom of God as Jesus describes it?
And maybe, just maybe, it comes when you let Jesus help you reframe the circumstances in your life that seem to be the hardest.
In the midst of THOSE times and experiences, you truly to find happiness.
And so will the students in your ministry.
Enjoy the lesson!
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
Youth Group Lesson on Happiness
Bible: Matthew 5:1-12 (Common English Bible translation)
Bottom Line: Jesus helps us to redefine what happiness looks like through His kingdom.
Encourage teens to bring cell phones to take photos
Either project photos or print off copies for the next week to view
Crowns – Cut out of paper for each student
OPENING ACTIVITY: HAPPINESS SELFIES
Divide the youth up into groups of 4 or 5, making sure that each group has at least one person with a cell phone camera.
Give the groups a way to share the photos with you to be projected or printed.
EXPLAIN THE ACTIVITY
Today, you are going to take “Happiness selfies”.
What is a happiness selfie you might ask?
Well, each group of you will get some words that Jesus said about happiness and your challenge is to take a group selfies which helps to illustrate the words Jesus said.
These words may seem like a riddle, and they kind of are, but try to figure out a creative way to maybe explain what Jesus was saying.
Read Matthew 5:1-12 to the group and either ask them to choose one of the sentences or assign them!
You will need a group for verse 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
Give the groups 15 minutes to take their selfies and to send them to you via text or other method.
Today, you all are going to teach us a thing or two about some pretty amazing words from Jesus.
If you are able to project the selfies that the groups have taken – that is awesome!
If not, have the group share verbally what their selfie was of the different sections.
Many people call these verses the “Beatitudes”, but today we are going to call them the Happiness Selfies because as you read them and really think on them, it seems like Jesus is trying to help us to look at happiness in different ways.
These Happiness Selfies, to the world, should and probably do look crazy.
So, let’s look at each of these words from Jesus.
Either show the selfie that the group took and have them explain, or if you don’t have a way to project the selfies, have each group explain their selfie.
Read Matthew 5:3 – “Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
Can you imagine being hopeless? Hope is knowing that the future will be ok….so imagine how it would sound to someone who is hopeless that Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is theirs?
Those are amazing words, right?
Maybe someone in this room is sitting here, and you wouldn’t ever want to really admit it, but you feel hopeless.
Then, these words are for you.
Jesus is saying that you have His Kingdom to look forward to. It is YOURS.
How does that make you feel?
Read Matthew 5:4 – “Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.”
Grief means that death has been there and nothing hurts quite like the pain of someone you love dying, right?
Maybe some of you in this room are grieving.
And Jesus says amazing words to someone who is grieving….you will be glad.
The tears will not only stop but you will smile.
Read Matthew 5:5 – “Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.”
Humility is a hard thing to find in our world today. It doesn’t mean that you let others walk all over you…but it does mean that you don’t run for the front of the line or think of yourself as better than everyone else.
Have you ever met someone who was truly humble?
What were they like?
And Jesus says, it’s that kind of person who will inherit the earth.
Read Matthew 5:6 – “Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.”
What is the longest amount of time that any of you have gone without food or water?
Being thirsty and hungry…many of us haven’t really experienced these at their worst, but can you imagine what it would feel like to not eat for days or to not have clean water?
So, what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?
And what does Jesus say will happen to someone who does?
They will be filled….filled with righteousness.
Wow, now that is quite the dinner, huh?
Read Matthew 5:7 – “Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.”
Has there ever been a time in your life when you really needed someone to show you mercy…to reach out to you in your greatest need?
How did that feel?
Now, imagine that you are the one giving mercy….Jesus says that when you give mercy, he will give you mercy.
How do you think it would feel for Jesus to reach out to you in your greatest moments of need?
Read Matthew 5:8 – “Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.”
What words come to your mind when we talk about purity?
Imagine having a heart that was pure……clean….innocent.
And then, what is the promise that Jesus gives here?
They will see God.
Wow, makes you really want to get to cleaning, right?
Read Matthew 5:9 – “Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.”
What do you think a peaceful world would look like?
How difficult is it to make peace when those around you want to fight and argue or prove others wrong?
Sometimes when we try to make peace, others will tell us that we “don’t’ belong” or that we are living in a dream world, but God says that we will be called his “children”.
When we bring peace…..we look like Him.
How could you make peace in the world around you? At your school? In your home?
Read Matthew 5:10 – “Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
Bullying is a big word these days.
Bullies harass people and do it over and over to try to break you down.
Have any of you been harassed or bullied?
What did it feel like?
Jesus says that when you are harassed that you are righteous and that you get what?
The kingdom of heaven.
Kind of tough to harass someone when they have a kingdom right?
And last, but not least:
Read Matthew 5:11-12 – “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.”
Can you name a time when people talked about you and said things about you that were hurtful and untrue?
How did that feel?
Yeah, well Jesus says that if people say bad things about you and lie about you BECAUSE OF HIM…you should be glad because you are getting rewarded.
Now, let me ask you: How do you think Jesus’ words here would sound to the world?
Do they make sense in the society that we live in?
Do they really make any sense?
That’s what’s so amazing about what Jesus is saying: He is turning everything upside down and saying “Happiness doesn’t look like what the world says it looks like.
Do this whole living my way thing… and you will be very surprised!”
Which of these words really stick out to you?
Maybe there is one that just doesn’t make any sense to you…..chew on that one and take it with you today.
Because Jesus didn’t make mistakes in saying these words.
He isn’t clueless or naïve…no, he just sees things in amazing ways
Around the room are cut out crowns
I want you to write the words of the Beatitudes that stick out to you on that crown.
Because Jesus is offering us a new way to live in his Kingdom.
And he wants to change things up.
He wants you to find happiness that this world can never give to you.
Happiness that isn’t based on what others think of you, or what you earn, or even whether you are healthy, wealthy or have a ton of friends.
It is a happiness that is found only in Him.
Give students a few minutes to write out their Beatitude on the crown and take them with them.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Which Beatitude did you write on the crown and why?
Which of Jesus’ words seem to not make sense to you?
What do you think it would look like if everyone lived by these words from Jesus?
Which of the Happiness Selfies did you connect with the most?
Close in prayer.
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