Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lesson 22 - Bearing Fruit During 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?

The bible instructs us to count our trials and difficult times as joy - James 1:2.
There are benefits to be gained, blessings to be enjoyed, and lessons to be learned in our trials.

“The testing of your faith produces patience - let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (verses 3-4)

Remember our A,B,C’s?  A - Acknowledge God and His sovereignty   B - bloom where you are planted and bear fruit       C - Concentrate on God’s powerful and reassuring promises        D - Do something useful

Learning from God’s Servants
What messages do these saints offer you as you consider their usefulness in spite of difficult times?

            Joseph (Genesis 39:4, 22; 41:56) - served as a slave, a prisoner, and finally as an elevated official in the                  Egyptian government.

            He suffered betrayal by his brothers, separation from his father and family, condemnation and imprisonment because of false accusation, and unjust treatment.

            Joseph served…no matter where he was, what his situation, or who needed his service.

            Paul (2 Corinthians 11:23-28) - endured beatings, stonings, death threats, imprisonments, and various other forms of suffering.

            He kept on preaching….verses 23 - 33)

            Paul focused on the object of his love -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- and kept on keeping on, even in pain.

            Remember Philippians 3:13-14.

            Paul desired to be useful to the Lord….wherever he was and whatever his condition.

What messages do these more modern-day saints offer you about bearing fruit during difficult times?

            Madame Guyon - imprisoned, in solitary confinement….wrote a 20 volume commentary on the Bible.

            When she was 16 years old, after turning down many other proposals, she married a wealthy gentleman of Montargis, Jacques Guyon, age thirty eight. During her twelve years of marriage, Guyon suffered terribly at the hands of her mother-in-law and maidservant. Adding to her misery were the deaths of her half sister, followed by her mother, her beloved son, and of her daughter and father who died within days of each other. Guyon continued belief in God's perfect plan and that she would be blessed in suffering. To this end she was, when she bore another son and daughter shortly before her husband's death. After twelve years of an unhappy marriage, Madame Guyon had become a widow at the age of 28.

            She believed that one should pray all the time, and that in whatever one does, one should be spending time with God. "Prayer is the key of perfection and of sovereign happiness; it is the efficacious means of getting rid of all vices and of acquiring all virtues; for the way to become perfect is to live in the presence of God. He tells us this Himself: "walk before me, and be thou perfect" Genesis 17:1. Prayer alone can bring you into His presence, and keep you there continually."

            As she wrote in one of her poems: "There was a period when I chose, A time and place for prayer ... But now I seek that constant prayer, In inward stillness known ..."

            In the Christian dispute regarding grace and works, she defended the belief that salvation is the result      of grace rather than works alone.

            Mrs. Studd - served her missionary husband as his wife and manager.  When she grew ill and became an invalid, she continued to serve from her bed and invalid couch she formed Prayer Centres, issued monthly pamphlets by the thousand, wrote 20 to 30 letters a day, and planned and edited the first issues of the Heart of Africa Mission Magazine.

            She served in sickness as well as in health.

            Hudson Taylor - a missions founder.  When illness forced him to leave the mission field in China he used his “downtime” to found the China Inland Mission and was supported by this mission when he was able to return to China as well as being able to recruit new missionaries to accompany him.
            He suffered physically from illness, was persecuted and attacked in China, had his house set on fire, lost his wife and two children on the mission field in a raging cholera epidemic.

            He kept on serving, laboring, and praying….and believing God was in control and all things would work      according to His plan.          

Doing God’s Will
“What is God’s will for my life?”  Read Psalm 37:4, and walk through these suggested steps for discovering God’s will.

God calls us to serve Him even when we’re not where we want to be and when life is not easy.

            1. Delight yourself in God - What does “delight yourself” mean with respect to your relationship with God?

                        Seek pleasure in Him, make Him your true joy….indulge yourself in the Lord!

                        What is God’s promise?

                        What is the condition for participating in this promise from God?

            2.  Indulge yourself in God’s Word - What image comes to your mind when you hear the word “indulge”?
                        Ever notice that the more you are around someone, the more you become like that person?

                        This holds true with God’s Word.  The more time you spend reading and studying the Bible, the more you resemble God.

                        How would you measure your interest in God’s Word at this time?  Do you need to make any changes?

            3. Committing yourself to the Lord - Read Psalm 37:5.  Commit yourself and your activities to the Lord.

                        This involves the complete commitment of your life.  Trust God to take over your career, home, work, all circumstances, aims, and ambitions of life, and He will so mould events that your deepest and purest  desires shall find unmeasured fulfillment and life will be filled with utter satisfaction.                     

                        What are you to commit to God?

                        What else does God ask of you?

                        What is God’s promise to those committed to His ways?

God declares that He has a plan for you.  List what you can do to help your plans match God’s plans as stated in…

                        Proverbs 3:5-6

                        Proverbs 16:3

Based on your list, what specific changes or activities will ensure that you further delight yourself in the Lord and commit yourself to Him?

Delighting in the Lord, knowing His Word, and committing yourself to the Lord are ways to ensure that your plans and desires for yourself match God’s plans.

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 live out God’s plan?            …to trust God’s promise?          …to love God with all your mind?

God has a destiny and a hope for you..

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