Monday, March 5, 2012

Lesson 14 - Focusing Forward...and Sailing On!

Focusing Forward…And Sailing On!

What meant the most to you from this chapter or helped you think more accurately about God’s character and the truth of His Word?

What offered you the greatest challenge or blessing, and why?

Pursuing Excellence
Read again the brief summary of Joseph’s life in your book. (Even better, if you have the time, read Genesis 39-45.)  Note how Joseph accepted and handled each of these difficult instances:
  •   Sold into slavery by envious borthers (Genesis 39:1-6).
 Joseph chose to serve God by doing the best he could wherever he was and whatever the circumstances of his life.

He chose to forget his past in Israel and “go on…to where he became the best slave and amanager of Potiphar’s household…until he was unjustly imprisoned.

  • Unjustly accused by Ptiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-23).
 To go on… to where he became the best prisoner in the dungeon, and later, the best manager of the prisoners.

  • Forgotten in prison (Genesis 4:1-41:1)
 To go on…to where he soon became the best in a government position, a priviledged position that enable him to feed his father, brothers, and their families when they arrived in Egypt in search of food from famine-struck Israel.

Joseph shows us excellence every step of the way…through the good and the bad.  Mark this lesson well!

What adversities or difficulties are you presently facing?  How can you follow Joseph’s example and “turn adversity into opportunity”?

Like Joseph successfully move on from the past, but don’t forget the instances of God’s goodness!

Bearing Fruit in the Land of Your Affliction
Where has God placed -- or “planted” -- you, and how does Joseph’s story inspire you to “bloom where you are planted”?

Maybe you find yourself living where you don’t want to be or working where you don’t want to be.

Many times, like Joseph, we are not where we used to be and not where we want to be…and not where we’re going to be!

And many times, like Joseph, we find ourselves holding positions or having responsibilities we did not choose for ourselves. 

In these times, follow Joseph’s example…

          --forget the past,
          --forgive those who have caused us pain,
          --focus on the present time and place, and
          --follow after excellence

While expecting God to work His goodness and purpose in the circumstances.  Whatever your situation, it is an opportunity to “go on” and bear fruit for His kingdom.

Remember, however difficult the circumstances, He will enable you to accomplish something for Him as you look to Him and focus on being useful to Him and to others.

Existing…or Serving?
What model did Jesus set for us in Matthew 20:28?  How far did He go to live out His purpose?  Do you think Jesus was existing…or serving?  Please explain your answer.

It is easy for circumstances to make it difficult for us to pursue excellence as we serve God; we can become people who merely exist rather than ones who actively serve God.

If we become content with where we are, we can fail to press forward toward Christ-like maturity.

And how about you?  Are you existing…or serving?  Are you a Joseph, or would you be more like “the lady by the lake”?  Please explain.

How would fresh goals focused on serving others help you be more active and productive in reaching and pressing for the prize found in Philippians 3:14?  Can you name one new goal?

Whether we find ourselves in difficult circumstances or enjoying a life of comfort, we must resolve to focus on God’s purpose for us and press for it…for the prize!

Choose to pursue God’s will for yourself.
Fixing Your Heart and Mind on God
The author of our book tells of how when she sits down for her bible time, her mind begins racing towards her list of things that need to be done for the day and becomes a struggle for her to focus and fight the urge to jump up and start on her daily tasks.  We probably can all relate to this to some degree.

Ask God to clear your mind of all that interferes with your time together.

How do these scriptures help you fix your heart and mind on God?

          Isaiah 26:3
          Philippians 4:6-7

Keeping a Vigilant, Steady Focus
Throughout our busy days, whatever situations come our way, God will help us keep our focus on Him and on what lies in our path.

How has learning about forgetting, reaching, and pressing forward prepared you for handling stressful situations?  Share a time when you chose to go on in spite of a stressful situation.

Hearing God’s Voice
As we run the Christian race, many voices call us to abandon the effort…The world woos us away from following Christ and offers tempting rewards for choosing it way to what it deems “success.”

We feel pressure to be like people in the neighborhood or at the office, and we aren’t always affirmed in our efforts toward excellence.

The world doesn’t acknowledge the cause of Christ or value the commitment His cause requires.

Despite all of this…the Christian who is looking ahead and reaching forward has ears for only one voice…God’s voice.

God’s strong voice urges us to “go on, go on, go on, go on” and offers us the encouragement we need as we serve Him.

Colossians 3:2 calls us to look ahead, to determine our God-given purpose, and to direct our focus forward.

God’s Word reassures us that He is with us as we run this race, offering guidance and strength each step of the way.
List a few reasons you think Christians fail to press for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.  What is the greatest roadblock to your continuing efforts to press forward, and how can you overcome it?

Loving God…Even More

Read this section in your book again.  As you consider the contents of this chapter and God’s amazing love for you, what can you do this week, in obedience to Christ…
          …to press for the prize?
          …to remember to forget?
          …to love God with all your mind?

With the goal in view, I press on..

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