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Why does it sometimes seem that God is absent?
Psalm 10:1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most? The greater our troubles, the farther away God sometimes seems.
Psalm 139:2, 7 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought.... I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
Even though we may feel that God is far away, he is in fact very near to us at all times.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Listen? The Lord ... can hear you when you call. But there is a problemyour sins have cut you off from God.
Sin is a wall that separates us from God. Sometimes we miss the joy of fellowship with God because of our sin.
James 4:7-8 Humble yourselves before God.... Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
If we want to have restored fellowship with God, we need to have a humble attitude, confess our sins, and draw near to God. Humility puts us in sync with Jesus.
Why is it important for us not to be absent (from our families, from our jobs, from the church, etc.)?
Genesis 37:18-29 When Joseph's brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance and made plans to kill him.... "Come on, let's kilt him and throw him into a deep pit...." But Reuben came to Joseph's rescue.... Reuben was secretly planning to help Joseph escape.... When [a group of traders] came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him.... Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the pit. When he discovered that Joseph wasmissing, he tore his clothes in anguish and frustration.
When we are absent, we miss crucial events in the lives of others. We can do much good with our presence, but things can go very badly in our absence.
Matthew 25:10 While they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.
When we are absent, we miss important opportunities.
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
Neglecting church may cause us to neglect God.
Are there times when it is best for us to be absent?
Genesis 27:41-42 Esau hated Jacob ... and he said to himself, "My father will soon be dead and gone. Then I will kill Jacob." But ... Rebekah ... sent for Jacob and told him, "Esau is threatening to kill you.... Flee to your uncle Laban in Haran."
Sometimes discretion requires absence from an inflamed situation. (Also see 1 Sam. 19:11-12.)
2 Samuel 11:6-11 David ... told Uriah, "Go on home and relax." ... But Uriah wouldn't go home.... [He] replied, "The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and his officers are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I will never be guilty of acting like that."
There may be times in our lives that a higher duty calls for our absence from our families and homes.
What should we do when we cannot avoid our own or another's absence?
1 Samuel 13:8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn't come.... So he demanded, "Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!" And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.
When others are absent, we should still be obedient to God and trust.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again.
When we are away from our families, we should keep in touch with them as much as possible, praying for them along the way and looking forward to our reunion.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Matthew 28:20 Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
What is our greatest accomplishment? How do we achieve it?
Romans 1:17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."
Salvation, the greatest of accomplishments, is not the work of our hands, but the work of God in our hearts.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.
Obeying God is life's greatest accomplishment.
How can I do a better job of accomplishing things?
Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.
Accomplishments come with good planning. God planned before he accomplished, a good model for us to follow.
How can I get more done?
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.
Accomplishments are multiplied through teamwork. It is impossible for one person to play a duet or trio. It is hard to win a football or soccer game without a team. It is hard to have a happy marriage if only one mate works at it. How encouraging to note that two people can actually do more than twice as much as one, as long as they are pulling in the same direction.
Is it wrong to be proud of our accomplishments?
1 Corinthians 4:7 What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?
There is a healthy satisfaction of accomplishment that includes thanksgiving to God for what he has done through us. But it is arrogance to think the deed was done all by ourselves.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm 60:12 With God's help we will do mighty things.
How do I become more accountable?
Psalm 1:1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked.
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
To become more accountable, follow God's commands as outlined in his Word, the Bible. And choose wise friends to whom you can feel free to give an account of yourself.
What happens when there is no accountability?
Judges 17:6 The people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
1 Samuel 13:11-13 Saul replied, "... You didn't arrive when you said you would ... I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself."
Left unaccountable, we will always lean toward sin, and the consequences of those sins will hurt not only us but many others, including God.
How can I effectively hold someone else accountable?
Exodus 18:21-22 Find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.... They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.
Titus 1:6-8 He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered.... He must live wisely and be fair. He must live a devout and disciplined life.
If we are going to minister to others by holding them accountable, we must be wise, honest, godly, and trustworthy.
Is it really important for others to help us be accountable?
Proverbs 12:15 Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others.
Good advisers keep us from actions that can hurt US.
PROMISE FROM GOD: 1 John 2:3 How can we be sure we belong to him? By obeying his commandments.
What is God's definition of adultery?
Hebrews 13:4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
Adultery is being unfaithful to your mate. Normally, this involves forming a sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse. But even an intimate emotional relationship with another can become adulterous if it takes us away from our first love. Similarly, in the spiritual realm, we commit adultery against God when we are unfaithful to him by worshiping anything except him. (See IDOLATRY.)
Mark 10:11 He told them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her."
The commitment to remain faithful "until death do us part" is a serious commitment and should not be taken lightly.
Matthew 5:28 Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
When we look at another woman with lust, we are being unfaithful to our wives.
Why is it important for us not to get involved in adultery?
Exodus 20:14 Do not commit adultery.
God has commanded us to be faithful to our wives.
Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man's wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished.
A moment's pleasure in adultery just isn't worth the consequences that it bringsa lifetime of regret and pain.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Don't you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? ... Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are ... adulterers ... none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.
Even if we are not caught in our sin during our lifetime, we won't get away with it forever.
How do we protect ourselves from getting into an adulterous relationship?
Proverbs 2:16 Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the flattery of the adulterous woman.
God promises wisdom to those who ask him for it (James 1:5). When we have wisdom, we will know how to avoid getting into adultery.
Proverbs 4:25-27 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
If looking at other women can lead us into adultery, then keeping our eyes off of them will help us to stay away from it. It can be challenging to have "faithful eyes," but it is a key to our success in avoiding adultery.
Proverbs 5:3-9 The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword.... So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Run from her! Don't go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and hand over to merciless people everything you have achieved in life.
When faced with temptation, we might be tempted to think that we can "handle it," but the best course is to run away, like Joseph did, and not look back!
Proverbs 5:15, 18 Drink water from your own wellshare your love only with your wife.... Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Adultery is only possible if we allow discontentment to creep into our hearts. But we can be content and satisfied with our mate. Then we won't "shop around."
PROMISE FROM GOD: Proverbs 6:24 These commands and this teaching will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of an adulterous woman.
Matthew 5:8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
What kinds of ambitions does God want us to have?
Psalm 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lordthe thing I seek mostis to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple.
Having a relationship with God and fellowship with him should be the highest aspiration of our lives.
Matthew 5:6, 9 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.... God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Let love be your highest goal.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go and make disciples of all the nations.... Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
We should focus on achieving such things as justice, peace, and love in the world and on bringing people into fellowship with God.
What are the right ways for us to pursue our ambitions?
Isaiah 58:13 Honor the Lord in everything you do, and don't follow your own desires.
Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Honor God in your goals, and he will honor you in your accomplishments.
1 Corinthians 9:26 So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches.
Colossians 4:5 Make the most of every opportunity.
If we are going to achieve the ambitions that God has given us, we must be focused on our goal and take every opportunity.
What kinds of ambitions are harmful?
Matthew 4:8-10 "I will give it all to you," [Satan] said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me." "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, `You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.'"
Matthew 16:24 Jesus said to the disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me."
We must never sacrifice our faithfulness and devotion to God in order to pursue our ambitions.
Genesis 11:4 Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skiesa monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.
Working to glorify ourselves is an ambition that never pleases God.
Habakkuk 2:9, 12 How terrible it will be for you who get rich by unjust means! ... How terrible it will be for you who build cities with money gained by murder and corruption!
If we work for wealth at the expense of other people's welfare, we will experience God's judgment.
James 4:2 You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them.
Ambition that is fueled by discontent and a desire for more almost always results in our dishonoring God with our lives.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires.
Why do we usually get angry?
Numbers 22:29 "Because you have made me look like a fool!" Balaam shouted.
We get angry when our pride is hurt.
Genesis 4:4-5 The Lord accepted Abel's offering, but he did not accept Cain's. This made Cain very angry and dejected.
We get angry when someone else is acknowledged instead of us.
2 Chronicles 26:18-19 "Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned...." Uzziah was furious and refused to set down the incense burner he was holding.
Esther 3:2-5 Mordecai refused to bow down or show [Haman] respect.... [Haman] was filled with rage.
We get angry when we don't get our way.
1 Samuel 18:8 This made Saul very angry. "What's this?" he said. "They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands."
We get angry when we become jealous of what others have or have done.
1 Kings 22:18-27 "Didn't I tell you," the king of Israel said.... "He never prophesies anything but bad news for me.... Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water."
We get angry when we are confronted about our sinful actions.
When is it OK to be angry?
John 2:15-16 [Jesus] drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers' coins ... and ... told them, "Get these things out of here. Don't turn my Father's house into a marketplace!"
Numbers 25:10-11 Phinehas ... has turned my anger away from the Israelites by displaying passionate zeal among them on my behalf.
Anger at sin is not only appropriate but necessary.
When we are angry, what should we avoid?
James 3:5 The tongue is a small things, but what Enormous damage it can do.
Avoid speaking your mind when you are angry. You may say something you will regret.
1 Samuel 19:9-10 As David played his harp for the king, Saul hurled his spear at David in an attempt to kill him.
Avoid acting on impulse in the heat of anger. You may do something you will regret.
We all get angry at times, so what should we do about it?
Ephesians 4:26 "Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
Stay under the control of the Holy Spirit through prayer, and try to resolve your anger quickly.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm 103:8 The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.