Monday, October 30, 2017

Dear Abby

Where do you go to for advice? A newspaper columnist, Oprah, social media, etc.? We all have decisions to make, some trivial, some life altering. Depending on where you go for advice, the counsel you receive may be wise or it may be just plain foolish.  Let’s look at Rehoboam, son of Solomon, to see how he handled his first major decision as a new king (and following in the footsteps of the world’s wisest man!) Solomon had taxed the people heavily to help pay for the building of the temple and his other public works projects.  When he died the people went to his son, Rehoboam, to beg for an easing of the taxes.  This is the question he put to the elders and then to the young men in his court. Long story short, he rejected the advice of the elders to create good will with the people and instead was greedy and egotistical and doubled down on the taxes.  This is what created the division within Israel and led to the civil war that ensued.

1 Kings 12:6-8
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

Things to think about:
·       Do you tend to ask for advice when faced with a decision?
o   If so, under what circumstances? If not, what holds you back?
o   If you do ask for advice, who do you go to?
§  Does who you go to change based on the context of the decision you are trying to make?
·      I believe God gives us several avenues to help us walk in His ways and make wise decisions:
o   Prayer
o   The Bible
o   Spouse
o   Friends
·      In James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to you
·      Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
o    Do you find it easy or hard to pray about decisions? Does it vary based on the decision you are trying to make?
o   Are there areas like work or relationships where prayer isn’t a reflexive action for you to take?
·      2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
·      Proverbs 2:6 - For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
o   What are some of your favorite Bible verses on wisdom?
o   How do you use the Bible shape your decision making process?

·      Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord
·      Proverbs 19:14 – Houses and wealth are inherited from parents but a prudent wife is from the Lord
o   Our spouses know us better than anyone, both our strengths and our flaws.
o   Oftentimes, they are our opposites.  This is helpful to have someone who knows us well that can complement our blind spots.
o   How does your spouse help you make wise, godly decisions?

·      Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity
·      Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one man another
·      Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed
o   Do you have a “go-to” friend when you need someone to listen and offer godly counsel?
o    When was a time when a friend really stepped up and helped you make the right call?

·      Can you think of a decision you have made where going to one or more of these resources may have led to a better outcome?
·      What decision are you trying to make now where one or more of these avenues needs to be pursued?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Body of Believers

Our American culture is a complicated lot.  One the one hand, we are the “melting pot” of the world where people from all manner of backgrounds come to be assimilated into our way of life.  On the other hand, a lot of the discord in our country is based on race, social causes, religion, or other things that highlight our incompatibility with one another.  I believe God has designed a third way where both differences and commonalities are celebrated.  We’ll look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 as our guide.

1 Corinthians 12:20
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Things to think about:
·       One aspect of our group that I love the most is the diversity. Everything from personality to politics, from temperament to talents, from color to career, we all bring dimensions that the others lack and need.
·       Think about someone in the group who is different from you and what you appreciate about the difference they make.
·       What are one or two characteristics you believe God has endowed you with to do His work?
·       And yet despite the differences, the Spirit knits us together to be one in Christ. This is a miracle only God can perform.  All other earthly cultures I can think of exist to promote what is the same about a group of people. Christianity celebrates what is unique, with God providing the connective tissue to make it all work.
·       Why do you think God would have designed it this way?
·       What are ways we can model unity in the body of believers?
·       What are one or two things that get in the way?
·       Starting in verse 15, Paul addresses people who feel inferior about their position in life. In verse 21, he tackles the other side and warns those who feel superior to be enlightened and understand their need for others.
·       Which group do you more closely relate to? Does that change on different days or in different contexts?
·       In God’s upside down economy, He actually gives greater honor to those parts that lack it, leveling the playing field for all.
·       Verse 26 emphasizes that we are in this together. When one suffers, we all suffer.
§  Whose pain are you feeling today?
·       Verse 27 concludes by saying that your true identity is found in the body of Christ, confirming for all that we are each a part of it. No one is on the outside looking in, there is no exclusivity for any believer, nor is there any exclusion.
·       How can you help someone feel more valued today?

Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!