Do you know how people who are living in the ways of the world lament and panic while those who are faithful rejoice! This is because most people seek only self-gratification and pleasure without accepting cares or responsibilities, and thus are not concerned with God or His Way and Love-even some who are in the Church. They would rather die hopeless than be filled with love and be saved for eternity! But God has a better way!
The question is "What lures you away from faith and what replaces faith?" What prevents you from being discipled? We have to be on guard against sin and its allure. The ways of the world are tantalizing and seductive and will cater to Christians, seeking to entice them away from God and/or compromise their faith-and be gleeful about it (Jer. 50:8; 51:6; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 John 2:15-17)!
Do you know that God hates compromise and lack of faith! He loves us and wants us, as committed Christians, to place Him first and be proactive-to be on the offense, not just the defensive with our faith. He is greatly saddened when we seek to be one with or identified with the world and its ways. This behavior results in the compromising of our faith! This means our spiritual formation becomes a pathetic, weakening of our character and the absence of Fruit, making us neutral, or apathetic, or insulting to God and others as Christians. When we mold ourselves or the church after the world, we create selfishness, pride, and thus discounted and disgruntled Christian lives without purpose or meaning. When we allow Christ to mold us and our church through His Word and Spirit, then we can be change agents to the world, effectively used by God, and pointing others to Him.
At the same time, God does not want us so isolated from the world that we cannot influence it; rather, He wants us insulated from its evils so we can influence it for His Glory. We can be a voice that says "seek Him first" in the midst of evils and not be touched by its evils. The key is where our eyes and trust lie; is it with luxury or with Him? So, who is your Babylon? What entices you, and how can you be on guard? Remember, accountability is key! Do not live for what is fleeting and temporary; rather, seek what is real, effectual, and eternal: Christ as LORD!Go over the "The Three Essentials of Discipleship" that will endure, "faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13 (NLT)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
We are called to learn and develop faith because faith is essential and of the utmost importance for every aspect of the Christian life. God's desire is for all Christians to have and practice great faith! He tells us that faith is to be planted, grown, and cultivated, as one does a seed (Matt. 17:20). So, it is something we are initially given, but it is up to us to make it grow. We cannot sit around, put it under the couch, and expect great things to happen. Faith requires our action (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:17; Heb. 11:6)!
Without faith, we can do nothing! Yet, we did not earn our faith; hence, grace is the ultimate free gift. Our Faith is based on knowledge given by God. It is not just simple trust; faith is not blind trust either, because we know the One who is leading! Our faith is based on historical evidence, logical reasoning, and valid testimonies. Our life must be dictated and expressed by what Christ has done for us. Thus, Faith is still trusting what is not seen and believing our God (Rom. 1:16-32; 5:1-11; 10:14-17; Gal. 3:1-4; Eph. 2:8-9; James 2:14-26)!
Faith is paramount. It is the most important possession you have and the most important thing you do. Faith is what we take for granted. We assume that all Christians have it, although the Bible says no, not all do have it (Mark 4:40). Some have just a little (Matthew 6:30), while, for others, we do not observe them having great faith, as is so in this passage (vs. 8:10 and Matt. 15:28).
Christ is who we love, what we hope for; our faith in Christ is what is to be seen! Faith is the promise of God that gives us the hope and confidence so we can receive, act on, obey, and trust God's promises, because God is sovereign and trustworthy. We can trust God for the future because we can see what He has done in the past-from creation, to testimonies, to His infallible Word. Faith reassures us of God's love and grace and gives us direction and motivation for the Christian life. Faith looks to and is fueled by hope, it gives us optimism, builds our confidence, helps us be bold, to remain faithful, and persevere in the faith-all for the glory of the risen Lord and the building of His Kingdom!
Hope is our forward outlook to be in Christ forever. This produces Joy. Heb. 11:1, "the substance of things hoped for". Hope is our future in Christ in glory, in Heaven. When we keep focused on our circumstances, we will see little to no hope. We can only attain it by being in Christ, with our eyes focused upon Him. Thus with hope, Christ is to our anchor, our hope (Luke 12:15-21; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; I Cor. 4:8-13; II Cor. 4:7-18; 5:6-8; Rom. 15:13; Phil. 1:21-24; I Tim. 1:1; II Tim. 4:7-8; Heb. 6:18-19). Hope calls us to patience and confidence for service in adversity, to endure suffering, and to continue in His call (Rom. 5:1-5; 8: 18; 25). Hope must be our focus to our self, and to others, it must never be faked, or depressed (I John 3:3; 4:18)! Hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18.) If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, no trust in the One who Loves you.
Keep in Mind that Christ is our Living hope is one of the main, running themes of Peter's epistles. It does not indicate wishing or thinking positively; rather, it refers to the confidence and conviction we have that our living God keeps His promises and secures us in Him. It is the assurance-and fact-that God has redeemed us, will bless us, and will care for us (1 Peter 1:13, 21; 3:15).
The practice of Love will enable us to appreciate our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and, of course, our family and others around us. Love is taking the initiative to build up and meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. It also runs the full spectrum from romanticism and the quest for personal satisfaction, to God, and the meaning of life. And, when you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those areas in your life. What love is not is as important as what love is (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John)!
Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on. In our human mind, we may see it as magical, as if it "just happened," but, without pursuing its true meaning and character, it will dispel and waste away. God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return flow out from us to those around us. God's love is the ultimate power for the Christian. We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs to self-concerns, and facing our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. Because, if love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then what we have is lust, not love! As the passage of 1 Corinthians 13:3 would say, we become just a noise that has no reason or purpose. Out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, and the Son gave His life in replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to save us, and we should be literally overwhelmed-consumed--with extreme joy and gratitude for what God has done for us.
Remember; "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant." (NAS) What love is not is as important as what love is! Be aware that we will be held accountable and even judged on what we do not do or refuse to see when sin and pride are in the way (Matt. 23:27; Luke 19:42)!
Faith…Hope…Love, are central and crucial gifts of God, such aspects of the resulting new life we have in Christ. These gifts turn into virtues by our application of them. If these are not being produced, then there is a real critical problem (Rom. 5:2-5; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Gal. 5:5-6, 22-23; Col. 1; 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:8; Heb. 10:22-24). These three essentials help us bringing forth fruit; the central feature of our faith development is whether the work of the Spirit and God's love is being exhibited in us. We are the "vine" He is the "root" and trunk (Gen. 1:28; Hos. 10:1; 14:7-8; Luke 8:11; John 14-15). What are you bearing for God?
To make this work we rely on the Holy Spirit, learn all we can from God's Word and from godly others, and then it comes down to our Obedience! Obedience means our continual acts of trusting in God and obeying His precepts (John 6:28-29; Eph. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:9). We are chosen for obedience! This is not initiated by us, only a response by us. This is our part-our result, answer, and responsibility to His election and sanctification. This leads us to the Will of God, which is God's sovereignty and control, and He places us where we need to be for His glory (2 Cor. 1:1-3).
1. Read I Cor. 13 and Col. 1 and discus this curriculum, take your time it may take 4 sessions, 1. An introduction, then, 2. Faith. 3. Hope and 4. Love:
2. Then ASK:
· Faith is our?
· Hope is our?
· Love is our?
Read I Cor. 13:12 and Col. 1:3-8 and Heb. 12:1-2a
Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36 NLT)
Committing to a Plan of Growth:
Ask what do we need to do with Faith, Hope, and Love?
1. What do we need to "FIND" ____________________________
"We all have some people around whose lives tell us what faith means, so seek them out!"
2. What do we need to "REMOVE" ____________________________
"We must remove from our lives anything that would get in the way of our Lord, including the sin that holds us back..."
3. What do we need to "FOCUS" ____________________________
"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, as a racehorse has blinders on from keeping it from being distracted, so must we."
The more you find God in the midst of your problems, the more your problems will disappear or seem irrelevant (Col. 3:2). The key is Obedience and the willingness to go all out in faith, having Hope, practicing Love and being in prayer, this shows God and others persistence and learning! How can you speak and model this to others so they might be inclined to accept the authority of Jesus Christ?
Bible, Prayer and Accountability
4. What do we need to "DON'T" ____________________________
"So let us run the race with our focus on the Lord and blinders to everything else and never give up.
Remember this is all about putting and practicing our faith in Christ. Trusting in His life-changing power of the Word of God-the Gospel-and of the Spirit to totally transform us as He did with Paul. Only this power can remove our stubborn nature that bonds us to sin and that refuses His grace. We cannot receive His grace without the Power that intervenes and removes our bond of sin. (Rom. 5:6; 8:5-9). Power is Salvation; it is by the work of Christ alone, through the Holy Sprit!
(The two options can be combined as the main lesson and do the rest the following week as a break.)
1. What lures you away from being proactive with your faith? What things can replace your faith? How is sin "at home where it is welcomed?"
2. How are the ways of the world tantalizing and seductive to you or to Christians in general?
3. Why would someone who claims Christ seek to be enticed away from God and/or compromise his or her faith?
4. How would you contrast trusting in wealth and possessions to trusting Christ and having faith?
5. Do you think the greatest fear of the wealthy is that they might lose their wealth?
6. How and why can arrogance never give anyone true security? Why would someone seek to be arrogant? (Keep in mind that when Christ walked this earth, He was fully God, fully man, and humble!)
7. Have you ever thought that the gossip, power plays, and manipulations in the local church can be evil? Don't think so? Look up gossip/tongue in a concordance! How does gossip create bad character?
8. How do the misplaced agendas of Christians, such as gossip, show that they really seek to follow the world, not the Word? What can your church do to solve and prevent gossip?
9. Knowing that God hates compromise and the lack of faith, what can you do to be on guard? What can you do to be on guard against sin and its allure?
A. Spend the remaining time in small group prayer for individual needs and how they can apply what they are learning.
B. Or Meditate (have students read slowly several times quietly with a sense of being surrendered to Christ, and not full of the noise of your thoughts and plans) on Hebrews 12:1-2a:
We have around us many people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. (Heb. 12:1-2a)
Have you made a response to the Kingdom of God? If not, what is holding you back? Check out the words of Jesus to Nicodemus (John 3:3-5). Where has your birth been made real? Just out of the womb, or also in the Spirit of Grace (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)?
© 1989 Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/