When Robert Moffat left home at the age of eighteen, his godly mother, apprehensive about her son’s unconverted heart, asked him to read a chapter of God’s Word every morning and night. He recounted that one evening not many months later, as he read, a “renovation of light entered my darkened soul” and he became a child of God. Robert had his life mapped out, but God had other plans. One day about a year after his conversion, as Robert walked toward a neighboring town to make a few purchases, he contemplated his future. He thought with pleasure of a prestigious position which had recently
been offered him and pictured himself climbing to a place of wealth and renown. Suddenly, his attention was arrested by a poster advertising a missionary meeting. The date was passed, but Robert’s mind went back to his mother’s stories of missionaries who had taken the Gospel to remote areas of the world. Then, in the quietness of his soul, a Voice spoke: “Will you give up your plans for My plans? Are you willing to suffer that the heathen may be saved?” “Yes, Lord,” he said aloud, and from that day on, he had one passion—to take the Gospel to souls without God. Sometime later Robert took a position as gardener and there he met Mary, the love of his life. She, too, was a dedicated Christian with a zeal for foreign missions, and it did not take the two long to discover that they had much in common. When Robert was accepted by the London Missionary Society and his departure was imminent, he asked Mary if she would be willing to go with him.
Mary agreed with joy, but when Robert broached the matter to her parents, her father said, “My wife and I have no objection to your marriage, if you will stay in this country; but we will never agree to our only daughter going to some uncivilized land where she would suffer many hardships and, more likely than not, die an early death.” What a test of will! There were many tears as the two said goodbye; for, although their hearts were anguished, they were agreed that Robert must go to his God-given work while she remained at home.
The weeks and months that went by tested that consecration to the limit. The
young missionary rejoiced in the progress being made among the African people, but in his heart was a secret sorrow. He was lonely. Still deeply in love, he wrote to Mary and waited anxiously for a response. But when her letter came, it clearly had been written in agony of heart. It told him that further hope was useless, for her parents seemed more opposed than ever to her going to Africa. With tears rolling down his cheeks, Robert wrote, “In my suffering I am cheered with this one recollection—that it is for Jesus’ sake and the salvation of the heathen.”
Then, miraculously, God intervened. Robert received the astounding news that
Mary’s parents had suddenly relented and Mary was expecting to arrive in Cape Town the following December. On the 27th of that month, the two consecrated Christians were married.
God blessed Robert and Mary Moffat with more than fifty years together. They opened mission stations in the interior, translated the Bible into the language of the Bechuanas, wrote missionary books, and together did all in their power to win souls in their beloved Africa. Their consecration to give of themselves no matter what the personal cost was richly rewarded!
Lesson Key: If we truly wish to consecrate our wills to God and be fully devoted to Him, then we must trust that God’s view of life is higher than our own. Rather than using circumstances as the “lens” through which we view life and making our own judgments and decisions, we surrender our limited view and seek to be led by the One who governs and directs the events of time, and has a specific plan and purpose for our lives.
1. Our key verse, Romans 12:1, tells us that we are to present our bodies a “living sacrifice” What does this mean, and why is it to be considered a “reasonable service”?
2. We consecrate our lives to God as we seek and receive the experiences of salvation, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Why, then, is it necessary to continue to consecrate on a daily basis? James 4:7; Revelation 22:14
3. Jesus is our Perfect Example of consecration of the will (see Matthew 26:39). What does it take to be able to say, “Thy will be done,” as Jesus did?
Word Search: In Greek, the meaning of the word Lord is “one with authority; an owner.”
In order for us to rightly call Jesus the “One with authority” in our lives, we must have submitted ourselves to Him. In order for us to call Jesus the “One who owns” our lives, we
must have placed our lives in His hands. Some people attempt to “rent” themselves to Jesus Christ. When they need help, they want to be able to look to God. They want to enjoy His blessings on their lives. However, they still want to retain control in a portion of their lives, so
they do not make a full surrender to God. We do not want to rent ourselves to Jesus; we need to let Him own us. When He owns us, we let go of our own plans, wishes, and ambitions, and we seek for the sovereign will of our Lord. – From a sermon by Duane Ross
The will is like a wise mother in a nursery; the feelings are like a set of clamoring, crying children. The mother makes up her mind to a certain course of action which she believes to be right and best. The children clamor against it and declare it shall not be. But the mother, knowing that she is the mistress and not they, pursues her course calmly in spite of all their clamors, and the result is that the children are sooner or later won over to the mother’s way, and fall in with her decisions, and all is harmonious and happy.
But if for a moment that mother were to let in the thought that the children were the masters instead of herself, confusion would reign unchecked. And in how many souls at this very moment is there nothing but confusion, simply because feelings are allowed to govern, instead of the will. Remember then, that the real thing in your experience is what your will decides, and not the verdict of your emotions. – Excerpt from “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” by Hannah Whitall Smith
Quote: “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way! Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see, Christ only, always, living in me.“ – Last verse of the hymn, “Have Thine Own Way,“ by Adelaide Pollard
Melted and Poured Out
Consider the refining and casting of steel. The similarities to a Christian’s will under God’s control are apparent. Most steel processed for casting is recycled scrap. It has a shape, so we might say that it has a “will” of its own. But it is the wrong shape—not at all what the designer wants. It has potential, but it is quiteuseless in this form. Scrap has to be melted to be made usable. We, too, must be “melted” by God’s Spirit before the refining process begins. The major difference is that the steel has no choice, but we must come willingly to God.
Once the steel is melted, the refining process is the next step. In the molten state, impurities are driven off, and alloys and other elements are added to make the steel stronger. So it is with us. God will put the heat on our lives to remove things not needed and will add things that make us stronger. At this point, the steel is exactly what the metallurgist wants, but it is still of no use, because if it were poured out, it would just form a puddle. It must go into a mold. In the mold, the molten steel takes on the “will” of the design engineer as it becomes solid. As we allow ourselves to be poured into God’s mold, we take on the form that God has designed for us. Will we be unusable scrap or a prized “casting” in God’s kingdom? The choice is ours. Spiritual usability comes down to having a will that is shaped by God. Is yours? – From a sermon by Howard Wilson
Consecration: The Key to Receiving from God
Consecration demands our all. A consecration with reservation is no consecration at all. Why not go all out for God today? Tear down every reservation that might be in your life, put them all on the altar before God. Say, “God, everything, every motive, every hope, every plan, every object in my life, every bit of my will, every bit of my affection, every bit of my devotion, are all Yours.” When you have said that, and you do not know anything more to consecrate, then continue to pray and ask God how to consecrate even further. There is no limit to consecration. When you have given all you know how to give, then sometimes God will come down and, with
a little touch of His hand, show you something that is not on the altar. You thought it was there, you intended it to be there, but maybe it was not there. Thank God for His faithfulness.
We do not mean to say that when God requires a consecration, it will not hurt, or that it might not cause us suffering. But it is the willingness we want to emphasize. It is the surrender of our will that God is reaching for. – From a sermon by George Hughes
The Apostle Paul said “I die daily“ (1 Corinthians 15:31). Paul had surrendered his life to Jesus Christ on the Damascus road, and at that point, he died to sin. But surrendering is not just a one-time event. There is a moment of surrender, and there is the practice of surrender which takes place on a moment-by-moment basis and should be a lifelong occurrence.
In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul’s daily surrender was dying to self and the real possibility that the
events that came his way would indeed take his life. Jesus was submitted to His Father, yet He practiced daily self-surrender. He voluntarily subjected His will to the Father, saying, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.
4. What are some areas of our lives where the surrender of our wills might be difficult?
5. Might the devil tempt us to consecrate something foolish or detrimental? How can we discern if it is God or the devil talking to us?
6. What are the benefits of having a life and will completely consecrated to God? See Psalm 40:8; James 1:25; Revelation 22:14
Guidelines for Sexual Purity
Sex is good. God created it, and it existed before there was any sin in the world. Sex was not created by Satan, Playboy, Hollywood, HBO, rock musicians, or the internet. Sex was created by the holy God of Heaven, where purity reigns. God made sex physically desirable by creating us with sex drives, without which sex would not exist and neither would people. When it takes place in its proper context, God is definitely pro-sex. Like all good gifts from God, sex can be misused and perverted. Water is a gift of God, without which we couldn’t survive. But floods and tidal waves are water out of control, and the effects are devastating. Likewise, God designed sex to exist within certain boundaries. When exercised in line with God’s intended purpose, it is beautiful and constructive. When out of control, violating God’s intended purpose, it becomes ugly and destructive. The boundaries of sex are the boundaries of marriage. Sexual union is intended as an expression of a lifelong commitment, a symbol of the spiritual union that exists only within the unconditional commitment of marriage. Apart from marriage, the lasting commitment is absent and the sex act becomes a false expression, a lie. Sex is a privilege inseparable from the responsibilities of the sacred marriage covenant. To exercise the privilege apart from the responsibility perverts God’s intention for sex.
Lesson Key: God’s intention for His children is that they walk in sexual purity and victory. As holy people who have dedicated ourselves completely to God, we follow the directives of Scripture to flee temptation. We ask the Spirit of God to help us establish appropriate boundaries and guidelines for behavior, knowing that in Christ and through Christ, we have all we need to maintain moral purity.
Your sexual purity is essential to your walk with God. Sexual purity is not an option for an obedient Christian, it is a requirement. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication [sexual immorality]” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). There is no sense seeking God’s will in other areas when you are choosing to live in sexual impurity in your mind or body. If you are not living in sexual purity, God will not hear your other prayers until you offer the prayer of confession and repentance and commit yourself to a life of holiness (1 John 1:9).
Your body belongs to God, not you. When you came to Christ, you surrendered your entire self, including your body, to God. The title to your life was transferred from you to God. Christ owns you and your body. “Your body” is really His body. He paid the ultimate price for it. God has every right to tell you what to do with your mind and body. Sexual purity begins in the mind, not the body. You will inevitably adopt the morality of the programs, movies, books, magazines, music, Internet sites, and conversations you participate in. Your future can be accurately predicted by what you allow your mind to dwell on. Sinful actions don’t come out of nowhere—they are the cumulative product of little moral compromises made over time, which ultimately culminate in ungodly behavior. Therefore we should take extreme care about what we feed our minds. God has your best interests in mind when he tells you not to have premarital sex. What’s right is always smart, and always for your good. Sex is linked to the welfare of your whole person. Having sex outside of marriage is self-destructive in every sense. Sexual purity is always for the best—not only for God and others, but for you. The lifelong consequences of sexual impurity are worse than we can imagine. The lifelong rewards of sexual purity are greater than we can imagine. Permission for use granted by Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055.
The question we must ask in a serious pursuit of holiness is this: ’Am I willing to develop convictions from the Scriptures, and to live by these convictions?’ This is often where the rub comes. We hesitate to face up to God’s standard of holiness in a specific area of life. We know that to do so will require obedience that we are unwilling to give. – Andrew Murray, noted missionary leader and Christian author
In 1 Corinthians 6:18, we are told to “flee [run from, or shun] fornication [sexual union outside of marriage].” This directive is not hard to understand. It literally means to get away from it as fast as we can. Avoiding the very appearance of evil is the basic principle, but if it appears, to run from it becomes the next step. The only sure way to guarantee refraining from immorality is to immediately and decisively remove ourselves from the possibility of it.
1. In the light of contemporary society’s sexual permissiveness, what are some steps we can take to maintain moral purity? 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 2 Timothy 2:22
2. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13), indicating that temptation will come our way. Why is it important to set boundaries or establish guidelines for our behavior before we find ourselves in a tempting situation?
3. What are some specific ways we can follow the admonition in our key verse, Romans 13:14? In a society where divorce rates are climbing, what can we do to preserve and safeguard our marriages?
Keeping Your Marriage in Order
The first step is to clearly understand that God intended marriage to be for life. Only one thing dissolves a marriage in the sight of God, and that is death. The marriage vow is not, “I will live with this companion until we are no longer compatible, or have outgrown this relationship.“ The Bible says, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother; and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder“ (Mark 10:7-9).
Next, we must recognize that the health of our marriage is very closely tied to our personal spiritual well-being. As both parties in the marriage draw close to God, submitting to Him and striving to live holy lives, they will inevitably be drawn closer to each other. The formula for a successful marriage is found in Biblical words of instruction to both wives and husbands. We read, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it“ (Ephesians 5:25).
Christ’s example was the ultimate expression of love: He gave His life for the Church. Husbands are to love their wives with the same passion and devotion as Christ has for His Church—those who have committed their lives to Him. What woman would not appreciate being cherished in this manner?
The second part of the formula is, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord“ (Ephesians 5:22). A marriage is successful when the wife helps her husband be the leader in the home, and both of them follow the Lord together. God designed for woman to be a companion and helpmeet to man (see Genesis 2:18). This is not a demeaning position; rather, it is a position of honor and blessing. Saying “I do” does not make a successful marriage an accomplished fact, no matter how fervently we say it. Those words are merely the beginning of a new phase of life—and the start of a committed union that must be honored, safeguarded, and nurtured if it is to grow and develop through the years.
A boundary can be as simple as avoid- ing certain sections of the magazine rack or blocking certain channels on the TV. Boundaries are designed to keep us from getting near temptation. If, on a scale of one to ten, fornication or adultery is a ten, then we should determine what are the one’s, two’s, and three’s that would take us in that direction. Putting a boundary in place will be a protection.
Specific boundaries will differ from person to person, from culture to culture, and from age to age. But the principle of avoiding temptation is ageless. If we avoid stepping onto a slippery slope, we avoid an accelerating downward slide!
When we think of setting limits, we are establishing something called “boundaries.”
Basically, a boundary is a property line. It defines where one person’s property ends and another person’s begins. If you own the property, then you are the one who has control over it. You are the one who will be held responsible for what takes place on your side of the line.
Your neighbor cannot look over the fence and tell you that he does not like where you planted your tulips, and instruct you to replant them in a different spot. He can give an opinion, but the decision about the tulip location is yours. However, just as you have control over your own property, you also have responsibility for it. Mowing the lawn and keeping weeds out of the flowerbeds is your job, not your neighbor’s. Responsibility, ownership, and control go together. Many people say they have a right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. However, we read in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost and we are not our own. Not only did God create us, but we have been bought with a price. Christ’s death freed us from sin, but it also transfers the responsibility and control that goes with ownership to Him. Because our bodies belong to God, we must honor the boundaries He has established, and not violate His moral standards.
Two theological students were walking in a district of London where old and used clothing is sold. “What a fitting illustration all this makes!” said one of the students as he pointed to a suit hanging on a rack by a window. A sign on it read: SLIGHTLY SOILED— GREATLY REDUCED IN PRICE.
“That’s it exactly,” he continued. “We get soiled by gazing at a vulgar picture, reading a coarse book, or allowing ourselves a little indulgence in lustful thoughts; and so when the time comes for our character to be appraised, we are greatly reduced in value. Our purity, our strength is gone. We are just part and parcel of the general, shopworn stock of the world.”
In fact, these little secret indiscretions can weaken our character so that when we face a moral crisis, we cannot stand the test. As a result, we go down in spiritual defeat because we have been careless about “little” things. – Author Unknown
4. In Proverbs 6:27-28, we find the question “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” What point is made by these verses with regard to purity?
5. God told the children of Israel to put a blue ribbon in the hems of their clothes to remind them of His commandments and to help them obey those commandments (Numbers 15:37-40). What can we do today to remind us to be holy when we make decisions about boundaries in our relationships?
6. What impact will our moral boundaries have upon our Christian testimony? Philippians 2:15
When our children were young, one of their favorite books was, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” They were endlessly entertained by the
trials and tribulations of the irascible Alexander, who faced a barrage of bummers worthy of a country-western song: getting smushed in the middle seat of the car, a
dessert-less sack lunch, a cavity at the dentist’s office, being forced to sleep in pajamas
with railroad trains on them, and more. Actually, the poor boy’s difficulties caused him
to resolve several times to move to Australia!
While we can chuckle over Alexander’s testy commentary, it actually does illustrate an important truth: our attitude matters! How would we feel if someone gave us advice on how to have a terrible day? They might begin by telling us to not have faith that God will help us during difficult situations, to remember everything that has gone wrong in the past, and to brood over the things we have no power to change. Perhaps they would suggest that we wish for what we may never obtain, dwell on every- one else’s shortcomings, and criticize the various people we encounter. We should refuse to be cheered up, and of course, we would be told to complain about the weather, not forgetting to throw in a few grumbles about potholes, the government, our fellow workers, and other drivers. If we heeded this advice, we certainly would have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that would rival Alexander’s!
In contrast, what if we were given the opposite kind of advice? We would be reminded that God has always been faithful, and we can trust Him to guide us in every circumstance. We would recognize that nothing good comes by brooding over
wrongs in the past and choose instead to think of times others have helped or befriended us. We would count our blessings, instead of continually yearning for more.
Rather than criticizing those around us, we would look for commendable traits to
focus upon. Our thoughts would dwell on uplifting and inspirational topics, instead of
The Apostle Paul knew the value of this approach. He spelled out in detail the things
Christians ought to think about, when he instructed the believers at Philippi, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of
good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”
(Philippians 4:8). Paul meant they were to meditate on them with careful reflection, not just give them casual or superficial consideration. He recognized that holy thinking
produces holy living. Let us challenge ourselves to focus daily on God’s good gifts to us—His forgiveness and fellowship, the treasures found in the Bible, the beauty of this world, the love of family, the friendship of other Christians, and material goods we are privileged to have. When we keep our minds and thoughts centered on good instead of bad, and positive rather than negative, the beauty of Jesus shines out through us and uplifts others too. – From a Daybreak devotional
Lesson Key: The key endeavor of a holy Christian is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. As individuals who have been set apart and devoted to God, we want the mind of Christ to be in us (see Philippians 2:5), so we carefully guard against anything that would contaminate our thoughts or distract us from our primary purpose of glorifying and serving God.
Quote: “We cannot put dirt into a well and produce clean water.“ – Unknown
Food for Thought: “As a young child, I loved to read, and that pattern continued after I
married. For most people, reading is not a bad thing, but it kept me from cleaning my
house and taking care of my husband and children. With my nose in a book, I would
ignore my family’s needs. I would read up to two books a day. “One camp meeting at a Bible teaching, the minister spoke about reading edifying materials. My little daughter, who was sitting next to me, said in a loud voice, ’Mommy, you read all those crummy romance books!’ It was as though a knife went through my heart.
“Through much prayer, the Lord helped me give those books to Him. These days,
I am very careful about what I read, and I limit myself to just a short period of time, or
when I am on vacation.” – From a testimony by Linda Zetter
Romans 12:2 declares, “And be not conformed to [pressed into the mold of] this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The Greek word translated transformed is metamorphosis, and is used today to describe the amazing change that takes place when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
In the original language, the verb tenses of the words translated conformed, transformed, and prove indicate continuous action. Thus, the Christian mind should be
characterized by continuous development toward maturity.
For Personal Study
1. What principles regarding the Christian mind are outlined in the following verses?
Mark 12:30 John 8:31-32; 1 Timothy 4:15; Titus 1:15
2. Why is it so important to discipline our thoughts? Proverbs 4:23-27
3. What should you do if Satan runs a negative thought through your mind?
Battlefield of the Mind
The Apostle Paul defined his goal as a minister of the Gospel in terms of spiritual warfare. He saw the “fight of faith” as a contest against ideas, philosophies, and
general thought patterns that are opposed to God’s Word.
Note the military imagery in his words found in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God
to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and
bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Clearly, Paul recognized that the battle facing Christians will often take place in the territory of the mind. With vivid word pictures, he described the “pulling down of strongholds,” or entrenched fortifications, in a battle for truth. Any ideas that were not consistent with divine revelation were identified as “imaginations” that must be cast down.
Paul’s goal was not to present the Gospel as one among many valid philosophies of life. Rather, he was determined to abolish every school of thought that did not align with the truth and bring “every thought” into captivity—under the control of Jesus Christ. He recognized the grave danger of adopting the world’s values, courting the world’s approval, or pursuing the world’s symbols of status.
As Christians, we are called to battle with our “loins girt about with truth” (see
Ephesians 6:14). As we look to God, He will help us distinguish between the world’s philosophies and Christ’s truth, and to maintain pure and holy minds in an ungodly world.
Steps to Guarding Your Mind
Did you know that someone is trying to get control of your mind? When we turn our lives over to God, Satan is dethroned from our hearts, but that does not mean he gives upon us! He almost certainly will attack us through our minds. To counter this force, we must be extremely alert and careful to guard against the inroads he will try to make. Here are some helpful steps.
• Yield your mind to God at the start of each day. We can do much to prevent wrong thoughts from occurring by cultivating the presence of the Holy Spirit. The best way to do this is to begin the day by communicating with God.
• Let the Holy Spirit renew your mind through His Word. Daily systematic Bible reading will feed our hearts and revitalize our minds, providing us with spiritual strength to withstand the attempts of Satan to make inroads into our minds.
• “Mind your mind” throughout the day. Be purposeful and aware of what you are thinking about. If your mind begins to drift into negative channels, replace those thoughts with something pure and positive. We cannot always choose what we see or hear, but we can choose what we will dwell upon.
• Guard the entrance to your mind. The mind is the gate to the soul, and the three spiritual enemies listed in 1 John 2:16—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—must be resisted consciously in order to escape the traps of Satan.
4. We are admonished, “Whatsoever things are pure . . . think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Name some things that fit into that category.
5. On several occasions, the Bible instructs the saints to be of “one mind” (see Romans 15:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 1:27). Why is being of one mind necessary, and how can it be achieved?
6. While God is the one who purifies our hearts, we have a responsibility to guard it. What did Paul say in 2 Corinthians 10:5 regarding this? Why do you think Paul phrased this responsibility in terms of a warfare?
Paul challenged the believers in Philippi with the words, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus“ (Philippians 2:5). This phrase could be translated, “Think [phroneite] this in yourselves.“ The admonition referred to more than mere thought patterns, but actually pointed to disposition and attitudes of the heart.
The Apostle was exhorting the saints to allow Christ’s attitude of lowliness of mind and unselfish consideration of others to dominate their lives. When this is done, there will
be an absence of self-assertion, no insistence on personal rights, no determination to promote self-interests, and no living solely for oneself.
Life Application: Behaving ourselves in a manner that reflects our
commitment to be separate from the world and
dedicated to God for His purposes.
Recently I finished reading Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps, a book that traces the experiences
of a handful of Christians who made a promise not to do anything without first asking themselves, “What would Jesus do?” I began to wonder what would happen in my life if I tried to walk in Jesus’ steps without reservation. Would my life be any different?
Secretly, I hoped it would not. After all, I gave my life to God at a young age, and have been sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost. I go to church several times a week, teach Sunday
school, and play in the orchestra at church. I like to think that I’m a devout Christian.
However, I began to go mentally through my average day. First, I considered how Jesus would have me treat my family. I was quite sure that Jesus treated His family with the utmost respect. Although at times the human part of Him might have felt frustrated, He would never have taken His frustrations out on His family. What would Jesus watch, read, and listen to? I was certain He would be very careful about what He allowed to enter His mind. I remembered reading in Isaiah 33:15 how we are to shut our eyes from see- ing evil, and I was sure that verse could be applied to these areas of my life.
Next, my mind went to my neighbor, Wayne, who is eighty years old, almost deaf, and lonely. What would Jesus do for him? I believe God will ask me about him one day. But about the only thing I could say right now is, “Well, Lord, I took him a piece of pie once.” I have not shared the Lord with him . . . yet. I have to admit, I cringed a few times as these thoughts came to my mind. Every area seemed to need a little improvement. As I continued my inward examination, I began to think about the impact if I lived by the question, “What would Jesus do?” at church. “Surely,” I thought, “nothing would change there!” My strength comes from walking with the Lord and worshiping with
His people. However, as I took a closer look, I realized that changes would need to happen in this area, too, if I were to pledge to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?”
First, I considered the prayer room in our church. There we have the opportunity to gather before each service and ask for His blessing on the coming meeting. How would
Jesus regards the prayer room? Knowing His great love for you and me, I could only
imagine Him faithfully availing Himself of the chance to pray before meeting.
How would Jesus go about preparing His Sunday school lesson, or selecting a piece of music for a church service? For an instant, it seemed that I caught a glimpse of the Lord’s burden for souls, and I knew at once that He would make each effort a matter of prayer. Anything in His Father’s
service would be a privilege not to be taken lightly.
The next point on my inward checklist was the church service itself. I wondered, What would Jesus think about during church? It would probably not be where He was going to eat after church, or how sleepy He was. In fact, I’m sure He wouldn’t entertain any thought the devil might slyly
slip into His mind. Jesus would be focused. He would be intent on the message.
Finally, I contemplated the altar in the front of our church sanctuary, where we
gather to pray after our services. How would Jesus pray there, during that most important time in the meeting? When I thought of the love, perseverance, and earnestness He would demonstrate, the answer was obvious. The more I meditated about these things, the more I realized that my life would not and could not remain the same if I began to seriously ask and live by the phrase, “What
would Jesus do?” Making such a commitment, even for a short time, would require
sacrifice. It was tempting to brush all of these thoughts aside, and convince myself that there really was nothing wrong with the way I was living. However, as I thought and prayed, it became clear in my heart that I needed to do this in order to draw closer to God and truly be what He wanted me to
be. So it really is not a choice. I know the end result will help me to be more Christlike, and that is my heart’s desire. May I ask you, How much more could the Lord accomplish through you if you
made a promise to do this? What would be different in your life and in the lives of
others around you? I believe that the possibilities as well as the benefits are limitless.
By His grace, each of us can purpose in our hearts to walk closer to Him by asking
“What would Jesus do?” . . . and then doing it. – From a Higher Way article by Lori Arechy
Lesson Key: Living a holy life in terms of our conduct is not based on a list of “don’ts.” The admonition, “Be ye holy; for I am holy,” is positive. Also, note that the verb be is reflected in
specifications. (For example, we know God is holy because of His actions which reflect His nature.) However, we cannot just do holy things; holy actions must flow from our innermost
being, which has been transformed and made pure.
In Ephesians 5:11, Paul admonished the Early Church, “Have no fellow-ship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” The word translated fellowship means “to share in company with; to participate in.” If we are to maintain a pure and holy life, one that is set apart
and devoted to God, we must refrain from giving consent, approbation, or assistance to any who do wrong, and we must have no part in their deeds. Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918) put it this way: “Anything that dims my vision for Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps me in my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me; and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.”
1. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:17 that we are to “come out from among them” and be separate. Since we live in this world and must interact with unbelievers on a daily basis, how is it possible to follow this instruction?
2. How can we determine whether a specific action is appropriate for one who is trying to live a holy life? See Romans 12:9; 14:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 6:14; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
3. How should the concept of separation (2 Corinthians 6:17) and dedication to God (Romans 12:1) impact our conduct and actions?
“It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. Lighthouses do
not ring bells and fire cannons to call attention to their shine—they just shine.“
– Dwight L. Moody, American evangelist and founder of Moody Bible Institute
Whatever Happened to Worldliness?
Worldliness is something that Christians of a few decades back were warned to scrupulously avoid. Christian parents, pastors, and religious publications used
this term and its companion, “the world,” with great frequency. However, those terms
have become increasingly unfamiliar in our day.
Worldliness refers to following the example of unbelievers in activities, associations, attire, and thinking which do not align with the teachings of Christ. Some argue that outward appearance and behavior are not important because God looks at the heart. While it is true that God’s focus is on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7),
His Word also points out that the “fruit” of a person’s life—what others see—is
how those looking on will determine our spiritual condition (Matthew 7:17-20).
If our Christian testimonies are to have the desired effect on others, everything about our lives must back them up. When contemplating an action or activity that might be deemed worldly, it would be good to ask ourselves, “Can I do this to the glory of God? Is my whole aim to please Him?” Remember, God wants a clean line of demarcation between His children and the world. What we say, how we look, where we go, and what we do form the basis of other people’s opinions as to who we really are. If we look like the world, talk like the world, and act like the world, it should not surprise us if people assume that we are “of the world,” and not of Christ. Conversely, if we consistently live a clean, holy life before our associates, the reality of what God has done in our lives will be an unmistakable witness to others. It is time to insert “worldliness” back into our vocabulary. It’s a danger we must carefully avoid!
Standing Out from the Crowd
Many professing Christians have tried to hold the Lord with one hand and the world with the other, but that just will not work. God’s Word instructs us, “Wherefore come out from among them,
and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). You cannot act like the world, talk like the world, and do everything the world does and still be a true Christian. No, to be a follower of Jesus Christ is a revolutionary way of living totally opposed to the wickedness that surrounds you.
If you are thinking that this doesn’t sound easy, you’re right. While the Lord will give you the power to live a holy life in this world, you have to guard against the temptation to compromise. You have
to decide that your priority is to fit into Heaven’s society. When people fault you or pressure you to loosen up and do what everyone else is doing, remember the Christian way is nothing to be ashamed of. You have chosen the high road of holiness, integrity, selflessness, virtue, love, and peace. So even if it isn’t always easy, at least you know you are on the right road.
As you stand out from the crowd, there will be two positive results. You will be a light to the lost who are looking for a better way, and you will be pleasing to God! – Excerpt from “Thirty Days
on the Road to Eternity“
When Paul told the younger man, Timothy, that he was to be an example of the believers “in conversation” (1 Timothy 4:12), he was not referring to verbal discourse.
The word translated conversation means “behavior.” Paul gave a similar exhortation to the believers at Philippi, when he instructed them, “Only let your conversation [behavior] be as it becometh [is worthy of] the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). The Apostle Peter sounded
the same refrain when he said, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).
4. How should we respond if God reveals to us that some action of ours is not pleasing to Him? Hebrews 12:9-11
5. Christ commanded His followers to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), and at times, the phrases “Christian perfection” and “perfect love” are used in connection with sanctification or holiness. How can a person really be perfect in this world?
6. What behaviors would you expect to see in the life of a person who is truly dedicated to God? What behaviors would you expect not to see?
Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd offered himself for missionary service with the China Inland Mission, leaving England for China in February of 1885 and forsaking a promising career as a cricket player. From his early days on the mission field, C.T. emphasized the life of faith, believing that God would provide for a Christian’s needs.
Shortly after arriving in China, this son of a wealthy retired planter learned that he was to inherit a large sum of money from his father’s estate. Through reading God’s Word and much prayer, C.T. realized that he was only a steward of his resources, and felt led to give back his entire fortune to Christ. “This was not a fool’s plunge on his part,” recounted his son-in-law, Norman Grubb. “It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God’s Word to be the surest thing on earth, and that the hundred-fold interest which God has promised in this life, not to speak of the next, is an actual reality for those who believe it and act on it.”
Before he was aware of the exact amount of his inheritance, C.T. sent £5,000 to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, another £5,000 to George Müller who was sponsoring a work of faith among the orphans of England, £5,000 to George Holland’s work with England’s poor in Whitechapel, and £5,000 to Commissioner Booth Tucker for the Salvation Army in India. In a few months, after he was able to discover the exact amount of his inheritance, he gave some additional thousands
away, leaving about £3,400 in his possession. C.T. married a young Irish missionary named Priscilla Livingstone Stewart three years after arriving in China. Just before the wedding, he presented his bride with the remaining money from his inheritance.
She, having the same heart of giving as her husband-to-be, said, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?” He responded, “Why, to sell all.” Her reply was, “Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.” And they proceeded to give the rest of the money away for the
Lord’s work. C.T. and Priscilla served the Lord together in China through many hardships until ill health forced them to return to England.
There they turned their personal property over to the China Inland Mission. Later, they served together in India as missionaries. C.T. ended his life working for the Lord in the heart of Africa.
Norman Grubb noted, “C.T.’s life stands as some rugged Gibraltar—a sign to all succeeding generations that it is worthwhile to lose all this world can offer and stake everything on the world to come. His life will be an eternal rebuke to easygoing Christianity. He has demonstrated what it means to follow Christ without counting the cost and without looking back.”
Lesson Key: Godly financial stewardship is the use of God-given resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals. It is not based on a set of rules or formulas, but rather on the principle that, as holy and set-apart believers, we count following Jesus worth more than our possessions. If we love God first, we will follow that by consecrating ourselves and our possessions to Him. In turn, He will provide for our physical needs, and will help us know how we are to honor Him through our material blessings.
“Aim after the right state of heart; begin inwardly instead of outwardly. If joy in God
leads us to any little act of self-denial, how gladly we do it then! How much does
the heart then long to be able to do more for Him who has done so much for us!“
– George Mueller, evangelist and orphanage director in England during the 1800s
For Personal Study
1. What would you say are the primary elements of Biblical financial stewardship?
Malachi 3:10; Romans 13:8; Luke 6:38
2. Why do you think material possessions can so easily draw our attention away from God? Psalm 52:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17; Mark 4:19; 10:24
3. Give two illustrations or examples of how God could be glorified by the use of your financial resources. Psalm 41:1; Matthew 28:19-20
The Greek word pleonexias comes from two root words meaning “eager to have more, either in quantity or quality.” It is translated into English as greed or covetousness. The Bible warns against an inner discontent that tells us we simply do not have enough. In Luke 12:15, Jesus warned His listeners to “beware of covetousness,” for the good life has nothing to do with being wealthy.
In today’s society, we are bombarded with persuasive sales pitches urging us to buy, tempting us
with the thought that we will be happier, more comfortable, and better off in every way if we will purchase the product being promoted. However, God’s Word lists greed among behaviors and attitudes that have no place in the lives of God’s holy people. We must learn to tune out expensive enticements and concentrate on the truly good life—living in a close relationship with God and doing His work.
A Joyful Priviledge
The cornerstone of God’s plan for financing His work is tithing—the returning to God of ten percent of our increase. We first read about tithing in the Book of Genesis, where we find Abram paying tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20), and Jacob vowing to give a tenth to God (Genesis 28:22). Malachi indicated that failure to pay tithes was comparable to robbing God (Malachi 3:8). In the New Testament, Matthew 23:23 shows us that the tithing principle was approved of and supported by Jesus.
But does faithfully giving ten percent of our income back to God fulfill our financial
responsibility toward Him and His work? No, for offerings given in addition to the tithe are
also commanded in both the Old and New Testaments.
The Lord told Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering:
of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” (Exodus 25:2).
The word terumah, translated offering, actually means a “freewill offering.” Three times
a year, the men of Israel were to come before the Lord. We read, “They shall not appear before the LORD empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). The writer of Proverbs says, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Proverbs 3:9), and this specifically referred to the minchah, or gratitude offering, commanded under the Law.
The theme of freewill offering is restated in the New Testament. Jesus told the people, “When thou doest thine alms . . .” Note that He said “when,” not “if.” In Luke 11:41 we read Christ’s words, “Give alms of such things as ye have.” This clearly was in addition to tithes, for He goes on to say, “Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs . . .” Paul taught the principle of freewill giving to the
Early Church, instructing them, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let
him give” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Is it sufficient to just give what we can comfortably offer from our monthly income? The answer to this question is found in Luke 21:1-4, the familiar story of “the rich men” and the “poor widow” putting their gifts into the treasury. Jesus said though the widow gave only two mites, she put in “more than they all” because she gave from her poverty, while they gave from their abundance. Jesus commends giving that affects our lifestyles, no matter what the amount.
Acts 2:44-47 tells us that the early Christians who gave of their substance to God enjoyed gladness, singleness of heart, and favor with all the people. Is that what we are experiencing in our lives? Let’s regard our giving as a joyful privilege, not a joyless “have to”!
Keys to Godly Financial Stewardship
• Acknowledge that God owns your “stuff.” Thank Him for allowing you to “use” your car, your clothes, your computer, your coffeepot . . . and everything else! Let Him know that it is all available to be put into service for His kingdom.
• Study your checkbook. What does your check register say about your spending habits? Would a stranger looking through it see clear evidence that your life—including your finances—are all under God’s control?
• Give things away. All of us have things around that we rarely, if ever, use . . . but hang onto because we “might need them someday.” Ask yourself, “Is there someone, somewhere that could use this item? Why am I hanging on to it?”
• Buy carefully and conservatively. Ask God about your major purchases, and make sure that your expenditures reflect the fact that you have set apart yourself and all you have for His use. Is this what He wants you to spend your money on?
• Make what you have available to others as God directs. Ask God to show you how your belongings could benefit others in your community and church.
• Learn about the needs in your world and church. Get a feel for how much you have compared to
most people around the globe. Pay close attention to information about where God’s people are serving Him in much less affluent or convenient circumstances. Be alert to the places and ways God would have you help out.
• View your resources from an eternal perspective. You cannot take your assets with you. Are you making the most of the resources God has put into your hands on this earth? What can you invest in God’s Kingdom over the course of your lifetime?
4. An Old Testament guideline for the giving of offerings is found in Deuteronomy 16:17 and repeated in 2 Corinthians 8:3-4 of the New Testament. What is that guideline and how does it apply to our giving today?
5. If God is the real “owner” of your financial assets, how will that fact be evidenced in the way you manage them?
6. Why do you think the handling of money is so frequently mentioned in Scripture? Deuteronomy 8:10-14, 17-18
Secular music is the only worldly area that I had any curiosity to explore. Looking back, I recall that I always felt guilty for listening to it, but the thrill far outweighed any sensitivity. There was pride involved because the music would make me feel “lifted up” and self-satisfied. My mind would drift to worldly things like possessions or fame—things that would cause people to be impressed by me, maybe even look up to me. I am ashamed when I realize how the music I listened to grieved God’s Spirit in my life. I had decided that I was different than other Christians and that it did not affect me spiritually.
Holiness in Entertainment Choices to listen to the wrong kind of music. At times I would try for a while not to listen to anything but Christian music, but eventually my taste for worldly music would win out. There was a period in my teens when I drew especially close to the Lord and during that time, I craved Christian music. This was a very sweet time of closeness to the Lord, and once I had drifted away from it, I would think with sadness that I didn’t have it anymore. I could cry and pray by the hour, wanting to give God everything, but I was afraid to commit my music to Him or promise that I would give it up, for fear of taking it back. The devil told me I couldn’t live without my worldly music, and I believed him!
One day I got news that someone I looked up to very much had backslidden. As I tried to understand how that had happened, God spoke to my heart and told me clearly that if I did not give up my secular music, I could not stay saved. I had never wanted to sin, but He let me know that without Him in my life, I would be totally unrecognizable, the opposite of who I was with Him living in me. The person I saw shocked me. How could music do that to me? Somehow it was tied up in pride and idolatry. With a broken heart, I told God how sorry I was to have grieved Him in this. If He hated what I was doing, I wanted to hate it too. I asked Him to change my taste in music and help me to feel like He felt. I committed to never again choose to feed my spirit with the world, to never again choose to grieve His Holy Spirit living inside of me.
The Scripture, “Come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) became very real to me. I noticed after a while that if a secular song I used to like would come over the speakers while I was in the grocery store, it made me feel kind of sick in my spirit. God had truly answered my prayer—He changed my
desires. Now I understand how music feeds the spirit. Secular music made me feel lifted up, whereas Christian music lifts up the Lord. Secular music caused me to look at temporal things but Christian music causes me to focus on eternal things. I thank God for the change He made in me! – Rosie Lambert
“If one’s favorite activity would be measured by what he does voluntarily by choice, and by length of time involved, watching television would be the clear winner.“ – Ronald Williams, pastor and director of a home for trouble teens
For Personal Study:
1. Jesus prayed that His followers would be kept from the evil of the world, even though
they were in the world (see John 17:15-16). How will a purpose to keep ourselves separate from the world affect our entertainment choices?
2. What guidelines should we develop and apply as we make those choices? See Psalm 101:3; Proverbs 14:16;
Isaiah 30:21 and Philippians 4:8.
3. How does the use of our time relate to media? See Ephesians 5:15-16.
Since its introduction into American homes in the late 1920s, television has played an increasingly signifi cant role in shaping the lives of its viewers. Usage has steadily increased; children aged 2-18 spend a daily average of 5.29 hours in media usage. Countless studies have implicated TV viewing as a factor in aggressive or violent behavior, declining academic scores, early sexual activity, a rise in obesity, and increased substance abuse.
As Christians, how should we control our TV viewing?
Focus on the Family offers the following suggestions:
• Schedule viewing rather than watching whatever is on.
• Set defi ned limits on TV viewing.
• Watch TV with your children.
• Talk back to the TV; point out wrong messages.
• Plan weekly family nights without TV.
• Use your VCR or DVR liberally; you have more control.
• Be a good example in your media usage habits.
Concepts taken from “Directing TV’s Role in Your Home” at the
Focus on the Family website, www.fotf.org
Perhaps one of the most succinct statements of Christian ethical principles is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Can you think of any words more encompassing than “whatsoever” and “all”? These words should be the measure for every aspect of our lives, including our entertainment choices.
Hows your e-Life
If you are anything like me, many of your everyday activities have some connection to the internet. I read the newspaper online, pay my bills, shop, e-mail family, talk to friends, look at pictures, and send work documents to my colleagues. Clearly, the internet affects the way most of us live our lives!
So, what does the internet have to do with our spiritual walk? I am thankful for a relationship with God that is relevant to every area of my life. Philippians 1:27 says, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” The word conversation refers to our conduct or way of living. Paul said that if we have committed our lives to Christ, we should live in ways that are worthy of Him.
What does it mean to conduct ourselves worthy of the Gospel of Christ in connection with the internet? Here are some points to consider:
o Does the content of what we put on the web draw people toward Christ or push them away? Do the pictures we post and the music we link to line up with our testimonies? Is what we choose to view edifying, or does it distract us from our purpose to lead holy, committed lives?
o Does the time we spend online distract us from our responsibilities to God and others? There are certainly many ways of finding entertainment on the internet—videos, games, music downloading, instant messaging, and social networking options are unlimited. It is easy to get sucked into something online and suddenly realize that hours have disappeared!
o Are we online to satisfy selfish desires? The internet certainly offers that— we are constantly bombarded with promotional, suggestive, and pornographic materials, and the latest get-rich-quick schemes.
o Does our internet use glorify God? We can look for opportunities to build rich and meaningful relationships with friends who will encourage us to draw closer to God. We can reach out to those who are hurting or looking for God.
We can spend our time on sites that are uplifting and help us to grow in our walks with Christ. Do we?
Every day we are given new and exciting ways to reflect Christ and what He has done in our lives, and the online world is one of the great mission fields for our generation. I am confident that God will strengthen us, enabling us to conduct ourselves online in a manner worthy of Him. – Adapted from a Higher Way article by Tricia Downey
Watch Out For The Garbage Truck
If you looked out your window and saw a garbage truck about to empty its load on your front lawn, you would
be out your door in a hurry. You would make it abundantly clear to the driver that his garbage was not welcome in your yard!
Satan has acres of garbage he wants to bury you with. If he can get you to accept a load, he knows that he will
have gained a foothold in your life. Since his goal is your spiritual overthrow, you must move decisively when his truck comes around.
What are we talking about? Your eyes, ears, and thoughts are Satan’s targets. He will daily tempt you to look at or read things that are at odds with holiness. He will try to pour music or conversations into your ears that will draw you away from God and toward the world. He will attempt to direct your thoughts to any number of subjects that will grieve the Holy Spirit and please the flesh.
Determine that you are not going to be defiled by the devil’s garbage. Purpose, like the Psalmist, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Psalm 101:3). If you have some doubt as to whether something is garbage or not, do not take a chance—stay away from it. Pray that you will be sensitive to what is good and what is
Be aware that it is all too easy to get desensitized to a little fi lth, and before long you will be taking in more and more. Draw the line for holiness in your life and maintain it! – From “Thirty Days on the Road to Eternity”
Our focus verses, 1 John 2:15-16, warn against having a love of the world. Worldliness is internal, for it originates in the heart. It is revealed by three attitudes: the “lust of the flesh“ (preoccupation with that which pampers the appetites), the “lust of the eyes“ (craving and inordinate acquiring of things), and the “pride of life“ (focus on one’s self or importance). These attitudes in the heart will be refl ected in choices that do not align with a standard of holiness. That may well include our choices of entertainment.
Today, what captures your attention? What do you spend your time thinking about? Do your choices refect the world’s values or God’s values?
4. Paul said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will
not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). How might a form of media usage become something that is not spiritually expedient?
5. How can we maintain holiness and grow even closer to God despite the infl uences of an unholy society? See
Mark 12:30 and 1 Timothy 6:11.
6. What might be some warning signs that we are having problems with Satan’s attempt to regain control of our
hearts and minds through lawful activities?
Life Application: Maintaining our moral principles, values,
and integrity in an ungodly environment.
Lesson Key: As holy people, we have devoted ourselves to
God and have been consecrated or set apart for His use.
Because we have been separated unto Him, we are called to
be people of spiritual integrity—to hold true to godly beliefs,
moral values, and standards of ethical behavior—regardless
Holiness in Belie of the ungodly environment we live in.
The Danger of Small Deviations
Scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic. The opulent, nine-hundred-foot cruise ship went down in 1912 on its first voyage from England to New York. Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time.
The most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner. However, an international team of divers and scientists recently used sound waves to probe the wreckage, buried in the mud under two-and-a-half miles of water. Their discovery? The damage was surprisingly small. Instead of the huge gash, they found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds.
Small damage, invisible to most, can sink a great ship. And “small” deviations from the moral principles of God’s Word are even more dangerous, for they carry eternal consequences. We live in a world where corruption, dishonesty, and im- morality are increasingly commonplace. However, God’s Word establishes certain lasting principles that are fundamental and universal. For instance, the Ten Commandments give us some moral absolutes. These principles do not change with circum- stances, cultures, or eras in history, and they are the foundation on which the Christian life must be lived.
Maintaining our integrity in an ungodly environment is closely related to the experience of sanctification. When we have devoted ourselves to God and set ourselves apart for His purpose and glory, we have a deep desire to please Him in every aspect of life. Our consciences become geared by the righteousness of God. We are not merely conforming to a set of rules, but we behave with integrity through the transforming power of God who enables us to live free from sin and be obedient to His purpose in our lives. We have a desire to receive instruction, a readiness to obey God’s Word,
and a motivation to please Him. Paul counseled the Ephesians to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1). Our values, our worldview, our ethical behavior must reflect our commitment to Christ. How do we make sure this is the case?
We begin by grounding ourselves in the Word of God. When we face an ethical question, we should search the Bible
for what it says on that particular subject. We must maintain a close walk with God, making sure nothing hinders us in receiving guidance from Him. We should listen carefully to our consciences and to the Spirit of God as He speaks to us. Finally, we must obey what we know, responding to what God asks us to do.
Remember, integrity is built and maintained as we diligently apply God’s principles to our choices in life. We must guard against the small “slits” in our integrity that would imperil our Christian testimony. As we live each day as sanctified people who are controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit, we can depend on the power of God to direct our responses to each situation that comes our way.
“No nation has ever made any progress in a downward direction. No people ever
became great by lowering their standards. No people ever became good by adopting
a looser morality. It does not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was.” – Peter
Marshall, a Scottish-born minister and Chaplain of the United States Senate
The world Needs Men
Josiah Gilbert Holland was a doctor, teacher, editor, and author. Though he lived more than a century ago, the need he saw in his time is far more evident today. In a piece titled “The World Needs Men“ he penned these memorable words which speak eloquently to the subject of integrity: “The world needs men who cannot be bought, whose word is
their bond, who put character above wealth, who possess opinions and the will, who are larger than their vocations, who do not hesitate to take chances. “The world needs men who will not lose their individuality in a crowd, who will be as honest in small things as in great things, who will make no compromise with wrong, whose ambitions are not
confined to their own selfish desires. “The world needs men who will not say they do it because everybody else does it, who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity, who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hard-headedness are the best qualities for winning, who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular. “The world needs men who say no with emphasis, though all the
rest of the world says yes.“
The word integrity comes from the same Latin root as integer, which means “a whole number.” It appears twenty-two
times in the Old Testament. Just as we would talk about a whole number, so also we can talk about a whole person, or one who is undivided. A person of integrity is the same person in private that he or she is in public.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about the “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), indicating an undividedness in following God’s commands. Integrity not only implies an undividedness but moral purity as well.
1. Relativists assert that it does not matter what we believe, as long as we believe something. They tell us truth is whatever we perceive it to be; we are on our own to discern
what is right or wrong for us. How does Proverbs 14:12 refute that position?
2. How would you summarize the ethical standard outlined in 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23?
Rick Husband was just four years old when the future NASA Space Shuttle Commander first determined that someday he would explore the far reaches of space. Rick pursued his dream relentlessly through years of college, grueling training as a fi ghter pilot, and three failed attempts to become a NASA pilot.
Then something changed in Rick: he put God at the center of his life. Over the months that followed, Rick realized that if God wanted him to become an astronaut, it had to be done in God’s time and way.
On his first three applications to become part of the NASA team, Rick had come to one question he knew could change his future: whether he had ever worn hard contacts. (NASA does not allow them.) Rick had done so for a brief time, but he knew that answer would disqualify him, so each time he wrote no. He reasoned that since he was not currently wearing them, his answer was acceptable. Years later, he wrote in his journal, “My selfish desire to be an astronaut overrode my integrity and I lied on my NASA application.”1
After submitting his life to God, the day came when Rick decided to make a fourth application to NASA. This time, he answered the question yes. He knew he was likely removing any possibility of being selected by NASA, but he felt as if God were saying, “Trust Me. Do it My way this time.” The enemy stepped in right away to let him know that by honoring God and telling the truth, he would amount to nothing, but Rick took that chance because he had to do what was right in the eyes of God. Dropping his application into the mailbox was one of the hardest things Rick had ever done, but he left the matter in God’s hands. God honored his step of faith and his determination to be a man of integrity. In December of 1994, the call he had longed for came at last. He had been chosen to be an astronaut!
On February 1, 2003, Rick Husband was commander of the Space Shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated in a flash of light in the Texas sky upon re-entry. But by then, Rick’s faith and testimony had impacted countless numbers of his friends and co-workers in NASA. Today, through the biography his wife wrote about his spiritual journey, his testimony lives on, transforming what would have been a heartbreaking loss into a record of courage, faith—and ultimate triumph. 1 Husband, Evelyn. ”High Calling,” 41-43. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2003.
—The truths of God’s Word which are adhered to by believers.
Daniel was a shining example of one who lived by his beliefs. When
presented with a situation that contradicted his principles, he “purposed
in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the
king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8), choosing
instead to eat food that agreed with his conscience.
—The concept of what is right, worthwhile, or desirable.
The word values brings Job to mind. He said in Job 23:12, “Neither
have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of
his mouth more than my necessary food.” He was setting his affections on things
above (see Colossians 3:2).
Morality—Conformity to the rules of right conduct based on godly principles.
Morality was scarce in Noah’s day. Genesis 6:5 states: “And God saw that the
wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” However, “Noah was a just man
and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).
—The set of moral principles or values by which one’s life is conducted.
Samuel asked the Israelites to point out any wrongs he had committed during his
time as Israel’s judge. The people responded, “Thou hast not defrauded us, nor
oppressed us, neither hast thou taken aught of any man’s hand” (1 Samuel 12:4).
Samuel’s actions backed up his commitment to God.
In God’s Hands Word Search “No nation has ever made any progress in a downward direction. No people ever
became great by lowering their standards. No people ever became good by adopting a looser morality. It does not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was.” – Peter
Marshall, a Scottish-born minister and Chaplain of the United States Senate
For Personal Study
3. The world around us constantly seeks to conform us to its value system. We are pressured on every hand, both
subtly and openly, to adapt to its way of thinking. What instruction do we find in Romans 12:2 regarding this?
4. What do the following verses tell us about integrity?
1 Chronicles 29:17
5. What are some ways we can develop Biblical convictions and values?
6. As Christians, we are called to be people of spiritual integrity. How can we be sure we are measuring up to
God’s standards in every area? Psalm 139:23-24
Life Application: Recognizing that if we are walking in purity and humility
before God, the inevitable result will be spiritual attractiveness and a
modest, discreet, and wholesome outward appearance.
A Beauty Awakening
Several years ago, in my husband’s native country in the South Pacific, I experienced a kind of “beauty awakening” which provoked some thought and a new appreciation for the subject.
When I first arrived, I wanted to make a good impression, so I reluctantly put away my Western clothing and donned the local attire. Immediately I realized that my hair-styling routine also had to change due to the intense heat and humidity and the lack of regular electricity. The hairdryer and curling iron I had brought were completely useless. I found this to be Holiness in Appearance a bit humbling and felt that what little sense of style I might have had by United States standards had suddenly taken a serious nosedive. While I was struggling to adapt to these changes, I asked my husband just what was considered beautiful in his islands. He thought for a moment, grinned, and explained that in order to be beautiful, you needed to have smooth, light brown skin, eyebrows that were dark and prominent, and hair that reached past your waist. Having some gold teeth was also helpful, and being overweight was considered healthy and attractive. Since I had reddish, shorter hair, freckles, almost non-existent eyebrows, no gold teeth, and a thinner build, I knew he definitely did not marry me for my looks!
One day we were visiting a different village and some children asked me with concern, “What happened to your skin?” I
was baffled at first, but then observed that they were looking at my freckled arms. “Oh.” I said with a smile, “These are kisses from the sun.” I could see by the expression on their faces that I had not convinced them that I was okay. One girl pityingly asked me, “Will they go away?” “No.” I replied, “It’s okay! That’s the way God made me.”
Then I went ahead and told them about Him. Hopefully, they will always remember the day a lady with strange skin told them about Jesus!
While pondering my beauty predicament, I decided to look more closely at what really constitutes attractiveness. It came to me that there are characteristics found in both cultures which any one—man or woman—can possess if we choose to. These begin on the inside and radiate outward, resulting in a sincere and ready smile, a warmth of expression, a joyful countenance, and above all, an aura of peace. These attributes create an irresistible attractiveness—
no matter where we live on the globe! This beauty can be found on the face of a brand-new child of God the moment
he joins our heavenly family. It also can be found on the face of the aged Gospel veteran who has triumphed in many a spiritual battle. If God shines brightly enough on the inside, outward imperfections are of little consequence.
When people see me, I want them to see real beauty—beauty that is apparent in any culture—the beauty of Jesus. — From a Higher Way article by Lori Arechy
For Personal Study
1. In 2 Corinthians 6:17, Paul challenged believers in the Early Church to “come out from
among them [those of the world], and be ye separate.“ How should a Christian differ in
appearance from a non-Christian?
2. Whether we are aware of it or not, our appearance conveys messages to those around us. If our ultimate goal
is to win souls, what can we do to make sure we are sending positive messages?
3. In Proverbs 11:22, what does God say about being indiscreet—whether by words, actions, or dress?
The Clothing of a Christian
The clothing of a Christian is beautifully described for us in Isaiah 61:10. “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he
hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” In the New Testament, we find this admonition: “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter
5:5). The main clothing of the Christian is the clothing of the heart and the soul. And it relates strongly to the rest of the clothing of a Christian. Individuals with the right “clothing” on their hearts and souls will want to make sure that the clothing of their physical bodies is pleasing to God. If the heart is pure, teachable, and dedicated to God—clothed in humility and righteousness—that person is going to be concerned about what God thinks.
Disposition relates to dress. Attitude is key in relation to attire. Character has everything to do with clothing. Modesty relates to morality. People who are resistant to truth in the area of clothing for the body not only have a problem with outward attire, but they also have a problem with the clothing of the heart and soul. If a person has his
heart right, he wants to know what God has to say. He has a sweet attitude; he is humble, teachable, and eager to do what God wants. — Adapted from “The Clothing of a Christian“ by S.M. Davis
Lesson Key: Outward appearance reflects one’s inward condition. For that reason, as holy and devoted people of
God, we take care that our appearance, dress, and demeanor speak of Christ and are appropriate for one who
We read in Deuteronomy 22:5, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”
This verse commands men and women not to switch sexual roles. The practice of one gender wearing clothing peculiar to the other is forbidden, as it is a blurring of the distinction between male and female. In pagan practice, this led to gross moral improprieties.
The Hebrew word kaeliy used for “that which pertaineth unto a man” specifically refers to armor, while the word similar translated as “woman’s garment” refers to any type of women’s clothing. Distinctions in dress do more than reveal gender; they also indicate our God-ordained roles. So we must take care that our clothing is a
correct portrayal of who we are—whether male or female.
Today, role reversals are common. There are men who want to become women
and women who want to become men. However, the word abomination is unequivocal. It means “disgusting” or “abhorred.” In other words, God hates it when
men and women use their mode of dress to act out a different sex role. He had a
purpose in making us uniquely male and female, and we want to be sure our dress
as Christians portray our commitment to God’s values.
“Above all, desire to please Christ; dread his disapproval above everything else.
– Rowland Croucher, Australian pastor, counselor, and author
There is no question about it: the decision to live your life as a pure, holy follower of God will bring critical choices into your life.
Some of those choices will revolve around your attire. You cannot separate what is on the inside from what is on the outside. The external is a reflection of the heart.
Do you want your appearance to reveal a modest, godly heart? If so, here are some guidelines that will help you.
• Recognize that your body belongs to God—you have dedicated yourself to Him. It is His right to determine what you should wear.
• Resolve that you want to be modest, discreet, and unpretentious in your attire because you know that will please God.
Ask Him to help you choose clothing that honors Him.
• Realize that maintaining purity, inwardly and outwardly, will involve ongoing and consistent care about what you wear.
• Determine never to dress in a way that will attract improper attention to your body.
• Be willing to stand out in the matter of dress, rather than to fit in. That will be necessary in the ungodly, sexually permissive society in which we live.
• Ask God to give you a humble, teachable, receptive heart when it comes to matters of appropriate clothing.
Concepts taken from “The Look” by Nancy Leigh Demoss
Philippians 4:5 gives the
instruction to “let your moderation be known unto all men.” The word moderation not only means “temperate,” but also “appropriate.” The same thought is expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” The admonition to be “temperate in all things” would include being temperate in our external appearance and attire. Based on these verses, it is clear that extreme, ostentatious, or gaudy clothing, hairstyles, accessories, and body markings are not appropriate.
4. In what way is beauty an attitude? 1 Peter 3:3-4
5. How does dressing modestly show concern for the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters in the Lord? See
Romans 14:13 and Philippians 2:4.
6. In 1 Timothy 2:9-10, Paul said that women were to “adorn themselves in modest apparel.” How would you
defi ne “modest dress”? How would you defi ne “immodest dress”?
Life Application: Understanding the nature of holiness
and why it is vital in the Christian life.
Called to be Holy
In the Book of 1 Peter, we find an awesome command: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all
manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are called to be holy
as God is holy!
Often in Scripture, the words sanctified and holy are synonymous. When the Bible refers to sanctification,
it is speaking of one of two aspects. First, it can indicate being set apart—being consecrated or dedicated to God for
His use. Secondly, it can mean to be cleansed—to be made holy, to have the inherited sin nature eradicated.
The sanctuary where we worship to what is Holiness? gether has been sanctified in the first sense. It has been dedicated to God. The altar benches at the front of our sanctuary are holy. The pews where the congregation sits are holy; they have all been consecrated to God and His service. When the Tabernacle in the wilderness was to be dedicated, God commanded Moses to anoint the altar and all its vessels. We read, “And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy” (Exodus 30:29). Moses did according to God’s instructions—he sanctified them. He set them apart. God was conveying a lesson through the dedication of objects. If God can sanctify an object, God can sanctify us. And He wants to do so!
Lesson Key: While the experience of sanctification is definite and instantaneous, the sanctified believer continues to grow as a Christian. A sanctified heart has a desire to be instructed, to learn, to mature. A sanctified heart asks: What does living holy look like? How should holiness and separation unto God govern my words, my thoughts, and my actions? The answers to these questions were what Paul and the other Apostles sought to teach the early believers.
The Greek word translated common in Acts 10:14 and 28 means “unholy.” Thus,
the word holy could also be translated as uncommon. God’s Word draws a clear
difference between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean (see Leviticus 10:10). Sanctified objects are not to be
used in a common manner; they are to be used for the glory of God.
That principle extends to followers of Christ as well. The Apostle Peter said, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). As Christians, we are not to be “common” people because we have devoted ourselves to God; we have set ourselves apart for Him.
The second aspect of sanctification—that of cleansing—is an act of God that brings about a change in the inner person. After our sins have been forgiven, we come to Him with a recognition of needing more. We long to fully conform to the image and nature of Christ, so we present our lives in total submission to Him. As we look to God to accomplish the purifying work in us, He sanctifies our hearts and makes them holy in a second, definite, and instantaneous work
of grace. The carnal nature with which we were born is destroyed. God wants every individual who has been saved to be entirely sanctified. When we pray and consecrate to God, we have separated ourselves for His use. But then we must let His Blood be applied again to our hearts to make us clean and pure and holy in the sight of the Lord.
Even after we have received the experience of sanctification, we are still subject to human limitations such as flawed reasoning and imperfect judgment, which can cause us to make less than perfect decisions.
However, holiness will keep our hearts pure and motivate us to always want to do the right thing. We want to receive instruction from God. We listen, we obey when that instruction comes, and we continue to grow in Him. We mature as Christians. Holiness must permeate every aspect of our lives. Our lives should reflect that we are consecrated to God. The decisions we make should be based on the fact that we have separated ourselves to live for the Lord. Our speech should reflect our commitment to belong to Him. Our actions, the places we go, the music we listen to, the way we look—all of it should reflect the fact that we have set ourselves apart for God. Living holy lives is a tremendous privilege, and it is what God desires for each of His children! – From a sermon by Darrel Lee
“If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with
Christ, you have made a great mistake. If you would be holy, you must live close to
Jesus.” – Charles H. Spurgeon, English evangelist
My cousin was recuperating in the hospital after a near-fatal accident on his job. Because of the nature of his injury and to prevent the possibility of infection,
scrupulous care was taken to prevent his visitors from contaminating the surroundings.
Before we entered his room, we had to put on surgical gowns and gloves. We
were not allowed to touch him or his bed, and every nurse who entered scrubbed
thoroughly before assisting him in any way. It was clear that every effort was being made to maintain a sterile environment.
There are many ungodly influences in our world today. As God’s people, we
must be willing to separate ourselves from anything that would defile or contaminate the purity God has given us. This does not mean that we become hermits.
Rather, it means that we carefully avoid anything that would influence us toward
sinful practices. In a world filled with evil, we must resist the sin around us, instead of
partaking in it. – From a Daybreak devotional
For Personal Study
1. Why must Christians be holy? Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:13-16
2. Read 2 Corinthians 6:17 and Ephesians 5:11. What does it mean to be separated from the world?
3. Even though the experience of sanctification is instantaneous, we need to “perfect holiness” (see 2 Corinthians
7:1). How can we keep our hearts as “good ground”?
He Purified My Heart!
When I was saved, I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world, and I basked in the wonder of spiritual new birth. However, before too
long, a brother in the church said to me, “You know, you cannot live on that experience alone forever. You need to pray that the Lord will sanctify you.” I found out that was absolutely the truth.
My job was with the post office, and the Christmas rush came shortly after I
was saved. For about six weeks we worked twelve or more hours a day, seven days a week. There was almost no opportunity for me to go to church, and I was in the same environment as before I was saved. Working with me were people with whom I had drunk alcohol, smoked, and partied. God gave me the strength
to stand, but because of the battles that came my way, I began to understand the importance of sanctification.
God gave me such a hunger that I could hardly sleep or keep focused on my job or my daily routine. Sanctification became the most important thing in my life.
Even though I did not really understand the experience, I was desperately hungry for God. During church services, I sat and wept.
Then one day, as I prayed and consecrated myself to God, the Lord opened
the heavens and gave me the wonderful experience of sanctification. He really did something for me. It seemed even better than salvation, which I did not think anything could top.
When God sanctified me, He purified my heart and gave me the very thing that has kept me steady through the years. I found myself of one heart and one mind with the saints of God. Being in unity with my brothers and sisters in the
faith was a tremendous and beautiful experience that nothing else could ever produce.
How I thank Him for that wonderful experience! – Gary Bertram
In the Book of 1 Peter, we find an awesome command: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all
manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15- 16). We are called to be holy
as God is holy!
Often in Scripture, the words sanctified and holy are synonymous. When the Bible refers to sanctification, it is speaking of one of two aspects. First, it can indicate being set apart—being consecrated or dedicated to God for His use. Secondly, it can mean to be cleansed—to be made holy, to have the inherited sin nature eradicated.
The sanctuary where we worship to what is Holiness? gether has been sanctified in the first sense. It has been dedicated to God. The altar benches at the front of our sanctuary are holy. The pews where the congregation sits are holy; they have all been consecrated to God and His service. When the Tabernacle in the wilderness was to be dedicated, God commanded Moses to anoint the altar and all its vessels. We read, “And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy” (Exodus 30:29). Moses did according to God’s instructions—he sanctified them. He set them apart. God was conveying a lesson through the dedication of objects. If God can sanctify an object, God can sanctify us. And He wants to do so!
A farmer plows, plants, and cultivates his crop, all the while knowing that his efforts will
pay off only if the weather and other external factors are positive. For a successful harvest, he
is ultimately dependent on things only God can provide: sunshine, adequate rainfall, protection from insect infestations or natural disasters that might affect crops, etc.
Even though the farmer cannot control his environment, he continues to diligently attend to his responsibilities of plowing, planting, cultivating, weeding, fertilizing, and tending to his crop. The farmer cannot do what God must do to make the crops grow, and God will not do what the farmer should do. It is the same way in our lives as sanctified believers. Paul told the believers in Corinth, “Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
When we have been saved from our sins, God will wonderfully sanctify us and eradicate our sinful natures. However, we still have a responsibility: even though the experience of sanctification is instantaneous, we must continue to keep the ground in our hearts watered through prayer, and nourished by intake of the Word of God. Any “weeds” that might hinder our spiritual growth must be removed quickly, and we need to keep a watchful eye out for any “insects” or undesirable elements that would damage or destroy the spiritual fruit we are to produce.
In short, there is an on-going requirement to exercise diligence to keep ourselves uncontaminated from the world’s influence and to grow in our relationship with God
4. Romans 12:1-2 has three directives that will help us maintain and grow spiritually once we have been
sanctified. What are these three instructions?
5. How does a holy lifestyle impact our Christian witness? See Philippians 2:15.
6. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, we belong to God. How might be set apart for God’s use affect our view
Most people spend a good share of their time caring for themselves. How much time have you spent today thinking about how you feel physically? How much time wondering about your financial condition? Your burden for your family? Your spiritual battles? The list of potential concerns goes on and on. Now, consider how much time you spent today thinking about the physical condition of someone else. How much time did you think about the financial problems, loneliness, spiritual battles, and family burdens of others? If we could keep track of the minutes, we might be embarrassed to see the results. May God help us to be more concerned about the needs of others! 1. Unless we reach out to others, we will never enjoy the feeling of a full existence. Noticing the needs of people in our church or among our acquaintances doesn’t happen by accident. It takes conscious effort. We must ask God to help us to be aware of others’ concerns. It is not difficult to be aware of our own needs because they are before us continually, constant reminders. However, the verse suggested for memorization brings out that we should think on the things of others. How can we become more aware of the concerns of those around us?
2. Dwight L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” Reaching out to someone in need is one way to exemplify the true spirit of Christ in our lives. It is important to remember that whatever God has given us is not only for our own benefit, but also for us to share with others. It is His purpose that we become His channels to minister to others. As we try to fulfill this calling faithfully, we will find that it is an effective witness tounbelievers with whom we come into contact. In addition, it will help us have closer relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, real caring cannot take place until we see and understand the other person’s needs. Unless we deliberately seek to get close enough to a person to make a real offer of help, our attempts may amount to little more than mouthing words. As Christians, with possibly a number of years of trusting God behind us, we know by experience that God meets our every need. But we want to be willing to translate this spiritual knowledge into practical reality. Look around and take mental inventory. What are some of the definite needs (besides the basics of food, clothing and shelter) that those around you face?
3. Even after we recognize a need, it might be easy to respond as James describes by saying, “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,” yet not giving those things which are needful. However, if we truly care for others, action will follow our concerns. See James 2:14-18. What does the word caring mean to you? What are some specific ways you can show you care in responding to the needs brought up in response to the second question?
4. Successfully reaching out to others starts with prayer. A caring ministry begins in prayer, is sustained by prayer, and succeeds by prayer. Any other approach is doomed to failure because it soon becomes only an exercise. When we pray for someone, how much easier it is to remember them throughout the day, and to keep their possible needs in mind. Three aspects of prayer in relation to helping meet the needs of others are: the prayer of preparation, the prayer for direction, and the prayer of intercession. Briefly describe what you think each of these means.
5. When Jesus was on earth He taught the people to love their neighbors as themselves, and gave the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate what He was teaching (Luke 10:30-37). The Apostle Paul emphasizes the care God intends for us to show toward our fellow saints. He compares this with the care we show toward different parts of our physical body. Bring out that our body is composed of many members and every member is vitally important. When an injury occurs to one part, it usually has an effect on our whole body. How should it affect us when one of the body of Christ stands in need? See 1 Corinthians 12:26.
6. Scripture lets us know that there are things for us to do while we wait for Jesus to come. Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that a final day of separation between saints and sinners is coming. The events of that day are compared to a shepherd’s dividing his sheep from the goats. As you study these verses, what is the difference between those at the King’s right hand and those at His left hand? Compare the deeds that those at His right hand did, with opportunities we have today to show care for others.
7. The principle of reciprocal blessing is always at work when we give ourselves in ministering to others. A true servant finds satisfaction in every step of obedience to God. The joy we receive in giving to others can far outweigh any sacrifices we may have to make on our part. What are some of the personal benefits that await us as we share and care for others? How does Luke 6:38 apply here?
Scriptures used in this session: Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 6:38; 10:30-37; 1 Corinthians 12:26; James 2:14-18
Supplemental Scriptures: Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 10:42; Galatians 6:2
Suggested verse for memorization: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. – Philippians 2:4
If asked for one word expressing what is wanted most from life, many people would say, “contentment” or some synonym with much the same meaning. There is a tendency to look ahead to the next phase of life and hope that in it, contentment will be found. But unless we know the Lord, we will find that is not the answer. How sad that so often we see people seeking in every avenue except the right one to find the satisfaction for which they are looking. If we submit our lives to the will of God, He has promised to give us peace. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We can be assured that the individual who truly seeks the Kingdom of God and His righteousness will find contentment. 1. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He indicated that laying up treasures on earth would not bring contentment. In the Sermon on the Mount He told His listeners to lay up treasures in Heaven. Many people seem to think that accumulating the things of this world will bring satisfaction. But even when they gain these things, they find that contentment is as far off as ever. Others strive to find satisfaction in power, prestige, education, sports, or various amusements. They may attain a measure of fulfillment from these, but they still do not find complete contentment. Why do you think the advice given in the Sermon on the Mount is still applicable?
2. Matthew 6:31 tells us to take no thought of what we shall eat or drink or how we shall be clothed, even though these are very important necessities of daily living. Most people give a great deal of thought to them! Does this verse mean that we should sit at home and let the Lord provide us with food as He did the Children of Israel or Elijah? Explain. 3. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the court of Pharaoh. He undoubtedly had the finest luxuries obtainable in that age. Without question he had prestige, education, and honor, and was possibly in line for the throne. He had to flee from Egypt because he slew one of the Egyptian taskmasters who was mistreating an Israelite, and so he went to the land of Midian. We are told that he was content to live with the priest of Midian (Exodus 2:21) and spent many years tending sheep. Then God called him to lead the Israelites from the land of Egypt. If God should call us to do some seemingly impossible task, it will bring real satisfaction if we trust God and do it. What do you think was the source of Moses’ contentment as he made the transition from prince to shepherd, and then from shepherd to leader of God’s people?
4. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 the Apostle Paul tells of some of the things he endured for the cause of Christ. In spite of the challenges he faced, we see no diminishing of his optimism or enthusiasm for the Gospel. We may never have to endure what Paul did, but we will face trials along our Christian pathway. In writing to Timothy, Paul says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Read 2 Corinthians 4:17 and explain what Paul had to say about the trials and persecutions that he suffered. How does this verse and other statements of Paul’s show that he was truly content in whatever state he found himself?
5. In writing to Timothy, Paul says, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Most of us have a great many more material blessings beyond basic necessities. In view of this verse, how should we regard these extra blessings that the Lord has allowed us to have?
6. It is a real blessing to be content. We see by studying the history of the Children of Israel that God severely punished them because they became discontented. No doubt they felt justified for their complaints, because they faced many situations that were impossible from man’s viewpoint. But they seemed to forget the great things that God had done for them. See Numbers 11:1; 14:27; 16:31-35,49; 21:5,6, and note how God reacted to their complaints and discontent. What lesson can we learn from these examples?
7. Our key verse instructs us to be content with such things as we have. Whether we have little or much in the way of material things, as children of God we have peace and contentment that the world cannot provide. Why is this the case? See 2 Corinthians 5:17.
8. Often Satan will do his utmost to tempt us to murmur and complain about our challenges. At some point we may face afflictions, employment issues, financial pressure, relationship concerns, and the list could go on. At such times, if we don’t overcome Satan, we could become discontented, irritable, touchy, and grumpy— not at all evidencing the sweet and gentle disposition the Lord is looking for. Read Jude 3 and describe how following the admonition in this verse could help as a defense against Satan.
Scriptures used in this session: Exodus 2:21; Numbers 11:1; 14:27; 16:31-35,49; 21:5,6; Matthew 6:32; Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 5:17; 11:23-27; 2 Timothy 3:12; Jude 3
Supplemental Scriptures: Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 5:22,23; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 5:8; 6:6; Hebrews 11:26
Suggested verse for memorization: Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. – Hebrews 13:5
Grief is a universal reality. Whatever causes it—the
death of a loved one, terminal illness, accidents, wayward children, or other traumatic events, grief inevitably
comes to some degree to every person who lives. Have
you ever wondered what Adam said to comfort Eve
after Abel’s funeral? What did Job say to his wife as he
buried his seven sons and three daughters? How did
King David work through his grief over his wayward
son, Absalom? How did Mary cope when her beloved
Son, Jesus, was crucified? In some way, each of these individuals coped. In fact, mortals have been coping with
grief through all generations.
1. Baca means “weeping” which is generally associated
with sorrow. Psalm 84:6 refers to the valley of Baca.
This verse may or may not have referred to a geographical location, but certainly sorrow is a part of life. A time
of grief is not a pleasant experience and we would not
choose to walk this way. However, we are not exempt
simply because we serve Christ. We will have sorrows,
but God moves in the shadows as well as the bright
spots of our lives. And because He is there, we can go
through the darkest valleys.
God permits sorrow for a purpose. Even as we mourn,
we can have faith because we are one with a God who
feels our sorrow with us. The Bible indicates that if we
allow God to teach us and help us through our grief,
then a spiritual purpose can and will be found (1 Peter
5:10). Why does God permit us to go through sorrow?
Explain some of the things we might learn through the
experience of grief.
2. In the beginning, Job was unable to see a divine purpose for his suffering. Yet God was working out a plan.
Job’s tears were blinding (Job 16:20) and he seemingly
felt abandoned as he searched for God (Job 23:8-10).
Still, he was able to cope. In today’s terms, Job suffered
from the “normal grieving process.” Does a Christian
experience this, as well as an unbeliever? Job’s response
to his circumstances gives us biblical evidence that
individuals with faith in God go through the grieving
Those who have made a study of the natural reactions
to grief tell us that the process includes the emotions of
shock, bewilderment or confusion, questions, guilt, and
depression. A grieving person may not feel all of the
emotions at once, but they will certainly feel some of
them. Using the following Scriptures, identify the emotions that Job went through. Job 1:20; 7:4; 9:17; 10:15;
13:24; 23:10; 29:2-5
3. Job did not know the reason for his afflictions since
he was unaware of the conversation between God and
Satan. God told Satan that His servant Job was upright
and there was none like him in the earth. But even
though Job was not aware of God’s commendation, his
faith remained in God. He did not know what the end
would be, or that he would get back what he had lost.
He was shocked by his friends’ accusations that he had
sinned and that this was why he was suffering. Job was a
believer. There are differences between the grief of an
unbeliever and a believer. The unbeliever has no hope
of the hereafter, but Job had hope and was able to come
through as gold (Job 23:10). How did Job cope with the
sorrow and grief he felt? See Job 19:25-26; 27:5-6; 33:28.
Week 6: Walking Through the Valley
4. We read in Ecclesiastes 3:4,7 that there is a time for
mourning and a time to keep silent. When the patriarch
Jacob died, his family and friends mourned for him for
seventy days. When Naomi lost her husband and two
sons, she spoke of feeling desolate and empty. A professor of English, writing about a tragedy in her life
told how after six months of grief she was still feeling
physical effects from her sorrow. Each grief is different.
Each person is different. The timing of the recovery
process depends on the individual spirit as well as various external factors. The healing process may seem slow,
but there are actions which will help hasten the healing.
What are they?
5. In much of today’s society, it seems there is a degree
of impatience with continuing grief. Some are inclined
merely to send a sympathy card and then hope that
comfort will be supplied somehow. But as Christians we
should actively minister to the grief of others. The Bible
tells us to weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
It also instructs us to bear one another’s burdens, and
so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). To support
means to hold up and sustain the one who is suffering.
What are some specific actions that we can take to help
bear the load and assist the one who has a terminal illness, is bereaved, or is suffering from some other cause
6. Some people believe that any display of grief or tears
is a sign of weakness. As a result, they stifle the feelings
and bottle up unshed tears inside. This repression is not
emotionally healthy, because severe problems can arise
as a result of denying one’s true feelings. Jesus wept at
Lazarus’ death (John 11:35). His heart was touched by
the sight of the grieving sisters, Martha and Mary, when
their brother died. He didn’t keep His feelings all inside.
Some other Scriptures that indicate Jesus’ sympathy are
when He wept over Jerusalem, and His suffering in the
Garden concerning the sins of the world. Isaiah 63:9
tells us, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the
angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his
pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried
them all the days of old.” How does Christ’s experience
and compassion for our troubles help us in our suffering?
7. No matter what depth of sorrow we are feeling, nor
how long it may linger, sorrow is temporary. The worst
of the pain will pass even in this life. For the Christian,
there is always the assurance of God’s continued hand
over his life. Jesus told His disciples, “Ye shall weep and
lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John
16:20). What are some of the other promises in the
Scriptures which offer strength and hope to the one who
is experiencing a difficult place?
Scriptures used in this session:
Job 1:20; 7:4; 9:17; 10:15; 13:24; 16:20; 19:25-26; 23:10;
27:5-6; 29:2-5; 33:28; Psalm 84:6; Ecclesiastes 3:4,7;
Isaiah 63:9; John 11:35; 16:20; Romans 12:15; Galatians
6:2; 1 Peter 5:10
At some time or another, everyone faces discouragement, despondency, or depression. Then the problem arises—how to cope. For some, these are just occasional feelings; for others, these feelings come far too frequently or are of long duration. The grim facts are: depression is the nation’s number one emotional illness, and it is on the increase. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9 per cent of adults in the United States, from all walks of life, suffer from some form of depression. Thousands who fail to cope turn to suicide, thinking that is the only way out. But those who face depression should turn to the Bible for the solution.
1. When feeling discouraged, Christians may face an additional problem. They may feel there is some stigma attached to Christians’ being despondent, thinking they aren’t where they should be spiritually. In reality, no one is free from the attacks of Satan. These attacks may be physical, spiritual, or mental, but Christians can take the problem to the Lord and receive help. What are some examples in the Bible of children of God who faced such attacks? How were they brought through?
2. Those who have suffered extreme discouragement and depression know how quickly Satan charges one with being out of the will of God. The Christian, of course, will do some heart searching. But it is helpful to remember that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He tried to accuse Job before God, but the Word says that Job was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Why then was Job tested so severely? What might be the reasons for suffering in the lives of those who are truly living close to God? Refer to 1 Peter 5:10.
3. One feeling common to all who go through periods of discouragement is that of being all alone—forsaken, abandoned—and that no one really cares or understands. Many of the psalms reflect David’s periods of discouragement: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me … I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (Psalm 22:1,6). How desperately, then, do we need the hope offered in the Scriptures, the reminder that God is there whether or not we can see Him or feel His presence. What particular Scripture has God used to bring you hope and comfort in time of testing or discouragement?
4. Satan’s business is to rob the child of God of his rest and peace in Christ. Often there is only a short step from being slightly discouraged to the deep gloom of depression, from the “blues” to being on the edge of despair. Many of life’s circumstances can lead to despondency: ill health, loneliness, unemployment, death of a loved one. These problems are common to all. How can the Christian gird himself for the battle and prepare to fight this foe when it strikes?
5. It is possible that discouragement comes as a result of our own doings. The enemy of our souls is constantly alert to ways and means of enticing us to yield to the desires of the flesh or the carnal nature. We must be careful what we do, where we go, whom we choose as associates, what we talk about, what we establish as goals. It is easy to strive for the things of this life to the neglect of the spiritual. For example, going into debt could be a trick of the devil. The Bible admonishes us to take heed to ourselves, and if we fail to do so, we may find ourselves in trouble. It is important to identify the source of our trouble and then take steps to correct the problem. How might Matthew 18:8,9 relate to the solution of such problems?
6. Some may say, “I’ve searched my heart and life for anything I need to do and the Lord has shown me nothing. Yet my prayers don’t seem to go through, and I can’t help feeling discouraged and depressed.” What encouragement can we offer such a one?
7. The battle against depression may not be won in a skirmish or two, but be persistent: victory is assured! Ephesians 6:12 spells out who the enemy is. What has God provided for our use against the enemy that assures his defeat? Ephesians 6:13
8. We have studied various aspects of depression and possible causes and cures. We have read biblical references to believers who endured periods of discouragement amounting to despair in some cases. God brought them through, and He will bring those through today who look to Him in times of discouragement. Every trial He allows to come our way is for our profit, “that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Read the eleventh verse and then summarize in a few words how God can “turn your troubles into treasure.”
Scriptures used in this session:
Psalm 22:1,6; Matthew 18:8,9; Ephesians 6:12,13; Hebrews 12:10,11; 1 Peter 5:10
Numbers 11:15; Joshua 7:7,8,10; 1 Kings 19:4; Isaiah 46:4; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 4:8; 1Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:10
Suggested verse for memorization:
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not: I will help thee.—Isaiah 41:13
Have you ever searched frantically for lost eyeglasses or a set of keys, only to find that all the time you were hunting, the missing item was right close by? As Christians, it may be that we have experienced a parallel in our spiritual lives when it comes to living a fuller and more fruitful Christian life. We may have searched earnestly in many directions for the abundant life, only to realise later that the answer was right there all the time. Many overlook the answer because it is so basic. It is simply using the prayer of faith. Prayer is the key element of the powerful Christian life, it is especially important that we be a good example in our prayer lives.
- The term “prayer warrior” is one we often hear used among Christians. The word warrior implies “battle,” and experience proves that prevailing in prayer is certainly a battle at times. The Bible speaks much about being persistent in prayer. God honours determination in seeking His blessing. The Lord delights to answer the prayers of people who make sure the blessing they seek is the will of God, and then present their petition with purpose, enthusiasm, and perseverance. God answers prayers prayed in this way! Look up the following Scriptures and note what type of prayer was prayed in each of these examples.
1 Kings 18:22-39
- New Christians often look to mature believers as a pattern and a support for their own growing spiritual maturity. Is your prayer life such that others look to you for prayer? Many of us can remember someone we considered to be a prayer warrior. It may have been an older minister, an elderly saint who possibly never said much in a public service, or our own parents. If you were not raised in a Christian home, it may have been a godly grandparent, or an aunt or uncle. What impression did this leave with you?
- Anna, the prophetess, was one who made special effort in regard to her prayer life. We read in Luke 2:37 that she “departed not from the temple [the place of prayer], but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” No doubt there were other duties with which Anna could have occupied her time, but she chose to spend much of her time in prayer. What specific steps can you take to make sure that prayer is a top priority in your life?
- It is natural, to a degree, to be concerned with our own family, friends, and activities. However, Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). In turning our eyes to the needs of others, many times we can see how blessed we really are. If we importune before God for the needs and concerns of others and thank Him for our blessings, many times our spirits will be refreshed and our own concerns diminished. James admonishes us to “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). If we follow this admonition, what effect will it have when we feel inclined to indulge in spending an undue amount of time focused on our own concerns?
- When is a good time to pray? Paul wrote, “Praying always” (Ephesians 6:18); “Continue in prayer” (Colossians 4:2); “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians
5: 17). At a very advanced age, Daniel “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed … as he did afore- time” (Daniel 6:10). Though we cannot always be on our knees, we can be in an attitude of prayer. Where is a good place to pray? Jesus said, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet and … pray to thy Father” (Matthew 6:6). But Jesus also said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). Peter and John “went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1). We can see from this that we are to pray at home, and we are to pray at church, or wherever we may be. Besides praying often, and praying wherever we are, what are some other characteristics of a well-balanced, consistent prayer life?
- A veteran minister once said that when he went to prayer he never asked God for anything until he first thanked Him for His wonderful plan of salvation. Certainly thanksgiving is a primary aspect of effective prayer. The psalms are the primary source of praise in the Scriptures. David prayed many times to the Lord for deliverance, but many other times he gave Him praise and thanks for His blessings. See Psalms 146 through 150. Moses, Deborah, Daniel, Mary, and Zacharias were among other Biblical examples of men and women who praised God’s character and intervention on their behalf. What are some steps we could take to be sure that true and heartfelt praise is a part of our prayer life?
- A true burden for lost souls cannot come until we truly realise the hatred God has for sin, and the consequences His justice demands as a penalty for sins that are not repented of. Moses had a great burden for his people who had sinned (Exodus 32:30-32). Paul had a similar burden (Romans 9:2-3). Both would have given up their salvation if this could have saved their lost loved ones, but only Jesus’ Blood can do that. Can you look into your prayer life and find this kind of burden? What is the major hindrance to this type of prayer?
- We live in a fast-paced society, but as Christians in today’s world, we must find times of rest in the Spirit and quietness. In these times we can turn our thoughts to contemplation of God and His mighty power. We are commanded to meditate in God’s Word day and night if we are to be prosperous, successful Christians (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). Meditation is deep reflection, giving serious thought to things that are spiritual, and is a necessary ingredient of our prayer lives. What are some good ways we can be sure to incorporate times of meditation into our worship?
Scriptures used in this session:
1 Kings 18:22-39;
Psalms 1:2; 146-150;
Matthew 6:6; 21:13;
Mark 5:1-20; 7:25-30;
Luke 2:37; 11:5-8;
1 Thessalonians 5:17;
1 Samuel 30:24;
Acts 16:25, 26, 34;
Suggested verse for memorisation:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16