Monday, May 14, 2012

Lesson 21 - Enduring Difficult Times

Lesson 21 - Enduring Difficult Times

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?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. - Jeremiah 29:11

God Has a Plan for You
Read Jeremiah: 29:1-11.

            According to verse 4, who caused the captivity of the Israelites?

            What advice does God give the exiles in verses 5-7 for how to live in a strange land?

            What words of hope does God speak in verses 10-14?

What circumstances in your life does God seem to be asking you to live with and endure?

How does the knowledge of God’s plan and purpose for you encourage you?

A - Acknowledge God’s Hand
First we must recognize God’s hand in whatever has happened.

Look at Jeremiah 29, verses 4, 7, 14, and 20.  Who does God say was instrumental in the Israelites’ captivity?

What differences does acknowledging God’s hand in your situation make?

Our life is not out of control!  Nothing has just randomly happened to put us where we are.  God has allowed us to be here. 

We can better endure difficult times when we acknowledge that God is indeed in full control of not only the universe but of our circumstances as well. 

Thinking about the truth will help to eliminate insecurity, bewilderment, blaming, and bitterness.

B - Bloom Where You Are Planted
What do I mean by blooming where we are planted? 

We are to go on loving the Lord with our whole being – heart, soul, strength, and mind.
We are to go on fulfilling His purposes for us wherever we find ourselves – no matter how undesirable or unexpected our circumstances may be.

Read Jeremiah 29:5-7.  What did God say to His people about putting down roots and getting busy in their captivity?
List the involvement He expected.  Build houses – dwell in them, plant gardens – eat their fruit, take wives for sons and give daughters to husbands – so they may bear children.

What difference do you think such activities make in difficult times?  Focus on priorities of building solid, long-lasting, and ongoing marriages rather than their pains.

Where has God “planted” you?  How have you acknowledged His hand, and what are you doing to “bloom” there?

God wants us to continue building where we are and blooming where we’re planted – this is how we endure difficult times.

Our plan of action for difficult times is simple:  “Keep on keeping on!”

Keep on building, functioning, planting!  Live! Bloom! Grow!
Don’t sit around being sad or depressed, waiting for things to change or get better…MAKE THINGS BETTER!

C - Count on God’s Promises
What was God’s promise to Israel in Jeremiah 29:10 and 14?  Promise of a return to their homeland.

What are just a few of God’s promises to you?

            John 10:27 - 29                          John 14: 1 - 3                            Philippians 1:6

            1 Thessalonians 4:16 - 17

Where do you tend to focus your attention when things fall apart?  Concentrate on God’s promises!

They assure you over and over again of the bright and glorious hope we have even when life looks hopeless.

D - Do Something Useful
While you are in your difficult times you can do something useful!  You can serve God, your family, and His people!

What is Matthew 20:26-28 calling us to do?  What guidelines does God give for serving…
            As a wife in Genesis 2:18?                     As a mother in Titus 2:4?

            As an employee in 1 Peter 2:18?                        As a member of the body of Christ in Galatians 6:10?

            As a witness to Him in the world in 1 Peter 3:15?

Ok. So roll up your sleeves and serve God and others in the present, even in your hard times.

If we are married, God calls us to serve our spouses,
If we are parents, we are to nurture and love our children,
Each of us – married or single – is called to serve the body of Christ, His church (1 Cor. 12:7).

No matter where we are or what our circumstances, we are to serve God.

These roles require energy, self-sacrifice, and strength, but God graciously provides everything we need to do something useful…even in the midst of suffering.

We are going to talk about some of God’s people who, when they found themselves in hard and difficult places – places they didn’t choose and places they didn’t want to be in – followed God’s plan for enduring difficult times.

As you review these four ABC’s, what message is God sending to you in your difficult situation?

Acknowledge God’s hand
Bloom where you are planted
Concentrate on God’s promises
Do something useful

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 count on God’s goodness?  …to remember God’s power at work in your life? …to love God with all your mind?

We know that in everything God works for good.

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