In this kick-off craft, you’ll help your children make a joy seekers shadow box and an optional accompanying spyglass. The shadow box illustrates our tendency to look for joy in all the wrong places. Four small compartments in the shadow box will contain items illustrating wrong places to find joy. The largest compartment will house Jesus as a baby in a manger scene as a reminder that true joy can only be found in Jesus.
You will need the following supplies:
a craft knife or scissors
a shoebox (with a lid)
a cereal box (to make cardboard dividers)
a small carton or box (to serve as a “manger”)
four ice pop sticks
a glue gun or tape
a tiny doll or figure wrapped in white cloth or a napkin
some yellow construction paper and/or tissue paper
various trinkets from around your home
toilet paper tubes (optional).
Each day, read one of the verses from below that talk about experiencing joy in knowing God. Then have your children select one item to add to the manger scene that will remind them where they can find true joy.
We generally feel happy when things are going the way we want or when we are doing an enjoyable activity. When people say they are feeling happy they are often looking forward to having fun, or they have recently experienced something pleasurable like eating a treat, playing with friends or going somewhere exciting. Joy and happiness are not the same. Happiness is a feeling, but joy is a way of thinking or looking at life. Happiness is an emotion or something we experience; joy is an attitude or a mindset we choose to have in all circumstances, good or bad, because we trust that God loves us and is always with us.
Here’s an example of the difference between happiness and joy: We might feel happy heading out to spend a day at the beach with friends. If it unexpectedly begins to rain, the feelings of happiness would likely turn to disappointment. Imagine if the adults agreed to visit a museum and have an indoor picnic instead. A child who decides to make the best of the day and enjoy the exhibits is choosing to look beyond the circumstances and to be joyful. On the other hand, if a child pouts all day due to the change in plans, he or she is choosing to be dissatisfied.
It is easier to choose joy when our attitude is influenced by our relationship with Jesus. The Bible teaches us that joy is found in the forgiveness of our sin, obeying God’s Word, being in God’s presence and in knowing that we will be with Him in heaven someday. All these things are possible because of Jesus (Romans 5:10-11). The world teaches us that happiness is found in having lots of money or possessions, in being well liked by others, in doing fun and exciting things, and enjoying good food and entertainment. The Bible teaches us that a belief in God changes the way we look at everyday situations, because it helps us understand what is truly important in life.
Verses about finding joy in reading God’s Word and obeying it:
“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
“Light is shed on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”
“I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.”
“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ”
God’s promises that we will find joy in our relationship with Him:
“But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”
“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to Him in song.”
“But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, “Let God be exalted!”
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
1 Peter 1:8-9
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”