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Growing Strong with GodYou and God, You and Others, You and Your Kids
ZondervanCopyright © 2003 Jean Syswerda
All right reserved.
Chapter Onesession 1
growing strong without growing guilty
For You Alone
Let's begin this study with a little quiz. Simply check any statements that apply to you personally:
I should go to Bible study every single week.
I should help out in "children's church" every Sunday.
I should straighten up my house every night before I go to bed.
I should read my Bible at least an hour a day.
I should act happy all the time.
I should brush my teeth for at least three minutes each night.
I should brush my kids' teeth for at least three minutes each night.
I should pray once an hour for my kids.
I should sing in the choir.
I should always have all the laundry caught up.
I should give more of my income to my church.
I should make healthy meals every day.
I should help my little ones memorize at least one Bible verse a week.
I should help organize a women's ministry in my church.
I should play games with my kids.
The "I should's" of life are some of the most insidious barriers to spiritual growth for Christians. Instead of focusing on what Jesus Christ has done in your life, you focus on what you haven't done. The "I should's" are all the good things of life, all the activities that are positive and helpful and worthwhile. Every time one comes to mind, you think, "I could be doing that; I should be doing that." Maybe you feel a bit guilty because you aren't doing all these things. Yet, the truth is, maybe you shouldn't be doing all these good things. You can't do everything, especially while raising young children.
Go over the list again. Are there any activities that you truly should be doing? Concentrate then on these one or two things and forget about all the others.
For You and God's Word
Today, let's try to distinguish between false (bad) and real (good) guilt. False guilt is a feeling, a sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach that somehow you don't measure up. False guilt is something the devil delights in using to rob you of joy and the hope that your future can be different from your past. True guilt is a condition, a sinful position before God that can only be remedied by Jesus' work on the cross.
Look for solutions to the guilt dilemma in Psalm 51, where King David confesses his sexual sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Nothing false here about the guilt he was feeling-or about the cleansing and forgiveness he received.
1. Read Psalm 51:1-6.
Review especially verse 3. What sins are "staring [you] down" (THE MESSAGE)? What good thing does guilt accomplish? What negative things does false guilt achieve?
When you sin against yourself or against others, whom are you really sinning against, according to verse 4?
According to verse 6, what sort of truth could you gain regarding your guilt (false or real) if you sought the wisdom of God in your "inmost place"?
Now go back and read verses 1-2. What has God promised to do with your guilt and sin?
2. Read Psalm 51:7-9.
Spend time thanking God for the clean heart and the joy he'll give you through forgiveness. Thank him that he's willing to hide his face from your forgiven sins, and then ask him to help you do the same.
3. Read Psalm 51:10-12.
Where would false guilt fit into the "pure heart" and "steadfast spirit" of verse 10?
According to verse 11, where can you find these things?
Talk to God about verse 12 and your willingness to obey him. Ask him to reveal clearly the areas where false guilt has gained a foothold and to help you concentrate instead on the joy of your salvation.
For You and Others
Begin your time together talking about the false guilt revealed by the quiz from "For You Alone." Share with each other what actions you've found to be effective in conquering joy-robbing false guilt. Move on to talk about how false guilt makes you weak and getting rid of it makes you spiritually strong.
Read Hebrews 10:1-18 out loud together, then discuss the answers to the following questions:
1. According to verse 1, what was wrong with the old law-the sacrifices that were required in Old Testament worship?
You can refer to Leviticus 1, 3, and 4:1-6:7 for God's regulations about offerings for sin.
2. According to verses 1-2, why did these sacrifices have to be made over and over again? (Hebrews 9:9 also speaks to this point.)
3. According to verse 3, when these sacrifices were "repeated endlessly" (verse 1), what negative effect did they have?
4. Why couldn't the blood of animals take away sin (verse 4)? Why then did the Israelites bother with these sacrifices?
Excerpted from Growing Strong with God Copyright © 2003 by Jean Syswerda. Excerpted by permission.
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