Thursday, June 30, 2011

The 9 Gifts Compared to the 9 Fruits

So many today seek the Gifts without first acquiring the Fruit in their life. We must have the Fruit of the Spirit at work, if we want God to entrust us with the Gifts of the Spirit.

Gifts of the Spirit 1 Corinthians 12

1. Word of Wisdom
2. Word of Knowledge
3. Faith
4. Healings
5. Working of Miracles
6. Prophecy
7. Discerning of Spirits
8. Different Kinds of Tongues
9. Interpretation of Tongues

Fruits of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Longsuffering
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self Control

1. The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation. If we have the Wisdom of God, then we must have Love, for God is Love. If you search for the first gift of the Spirit, you must possess the first fruit of the Spirit.

2. The Word of Knowledge is a supernatural revelation of information about a specific thing and has to do with an immediate need. Jesus gave instruction to His disciples so His Joy would remain in them and be full. A Word of Knowledge will always be received with Joy from His disciples, so we must first strive to have the fruit of Joy in our lives.

3. Faith is a special outpouring of supernatural Faith for release of a miracle. Even a small amount of Faith in our Father will bring Peace into our lives. If we have the Peace that passes all understanding then we will be ready for the Gift of Faith when the need arises. So seek first to have the fruit of the Spirit: Peace.

4. Healings are those Healings that God performs supernaturally. If we are Longsuffering, then we have learned to be content in any situation as Paul was. He learned that in his weakness, Jesus strength was made perfect. So if we can learn to be Longsuffering in all, then we will be able to accept the supernatural Healing God has for us. Faith produces miracles, but miracles do not necessarily produce faith, unless we know how to rejoice in any situation. That we do not look for the Healing, but for the relationship with God that will bring about the Healing.

5. Working of Miracles is a manifestation of Divine power to perform something that could not be done naturally. Jesus performed many Miracles because He had compassion on the crowds and acted with Kindness. Without the Fruit of Kindness, we would not be able to use the Gift how God would want us to.

6. Prophecy is a supernatural disclosure, a sudden Spirit inspired insight that brings exhortation to the body of Christ. Goodness means to have decency, generosity, righteousness. To exhort and edify the body of Christ we must first possess the virtues and values which are synonymous with Goodness.

7. Discerning of Spirits is to detect the true spirit behind the acts and manifestations taking place around us. It is used to further build Faithfulness on our Lord and Savior. The fruit of Faithfulness is the foundation for being true only to our Lord, and the acts of the Holy Spirit. We may then seek the gift of Discerning of Spirits to further our perception of the workings of the true Spirit of God.

8. Different kinds of Tongues is praying or singing in a supernatural or heavenly language which has a specific message associated with it. James tells us about the things from above, that they are pure, peaceful, and Gentle. How can we seek the Gift which will deliver a message to God’s people if we first do not seek fruit of His likeness.

9. Interpretation of tongues is translating the message of tongues so that the heavenly message may be given. Would you trust someone translating for you that put their own thoughts and words into your message. You would want someone of great Self Control to be true and accurate. How much more would our Father want someone of Self Control to translate His holy message to His people.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit # 5 Biting into the Fruit of Kindness

2 Samuel 9


1. Read 2 Samuel 9. What characteristics of David stand out?


2. What steps did David have to take to find his friend Jonathan’s son?


3. If David’s kindness to Mephibosheth was not due to personal affection, what was it based on (1 Samuel 20:13-15)?


4. In what specific ways did David show kindness to Mephibosheth?


5. When Mephibosheth was brought before the King how do you think he might have felt? How about after he heard the words of verse 7?


6. Read Titus 3:4-5 and Ephesians 2:6-7. How has God treated us like David treated Mephibosheth?


7. What can we learn from:

a. Proverbs 11:16-17 __________________________________________

b. Jeremiah 9:23-24 __________________________________________

Fruit of the Spirit # 9 Biting into the Fruit of Self-Control

1 Samuel 26

Saul was anointed king over Israel. But because he was disobedient, God took the kingdom from him and gave it to David. As a result, Saul’s anger and jealously were kindled toward David and he tried to kill him several times. In 1 Samuel 26 David faces the powerful temptation of choosing between self gratification and self control.

1. What do you learn about the character of each person in this story?
David ____________________________________________________________
Saul _____________________________________________________________
Abishi ____________________________________________________________

2. If you were David how would you feel toward someone who had tried to kill you (v 1-4)?

3. Why does David resist the temptation to take matters into his own hands (v9-11)?

4. How does God help David in verse 12?

5. If we know God is present to help us in our struggle, how can it be easier to exercise self-control?

6. What was Saul’s response to David’s actions (v 17-25)?

7. What does this story teach about how God regards human life (v 21-24)?

8. What can we learn from the Lord Jesus in connection with self control (Luke 22:41-42, 1 Peter 2:23)?

9. How is a person who has no self control described in Proverbs 25:28?

10. How is a person who demonstrates self control described in Proverbs 29:11?

11. What can we learn from:
Titus 2:11-12 ______________________________________________________
1 Peter 4:7 ________________________________________________________

Fruit of the Spirit # 8 Biting into the Fruit of Gentleness

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12


1. According to Paul, what are some wrong ways to share Christ with others (v3-6)?


2. In contrast, what were Paul’s motives for sharing Christ with them? Why are pure motives so important?


3. How was Paul like a mother to them (v 7-9)?


4. How was he also like a father to tem (v10-12)?


5. Why is it important for gentleness (v 7) to be combined with the qualities and goals mentioned in verse 12?


6. How does 1 Peter 3:15-16 apply?


7. According to Matthew 11:28-30 and 21:5 who is the perfect picture of gentleness?


8. What kind of speech should we have toward one another (Proverbs 15:1)?


9. What example did Paul give in 1 Corinthians 4:21?


10. What should we display all the time (Philippians 4:4-5)?

Fruit of the Spirit # 7 Biting into the Fruit of Faithfulness

2 Chronicles 20:1-30

1. King Jehoshaphat learned about faithfulness the hard way. He began hi reign by faithfully obeying God (2 Chronicles 17:3-9). But soon he stopped being faithful by trusting others to protect Him instead of depend on His God (2 Chronicles 18). But God remained faithful to him. What can we learn from 2 Timothy 2 :13 in this connection?

2. How do you think the King and his people felt when they saw the enemy approaching (v 1-4)?

3. Examine Jehoshaphat’s prayer (v 6-12). On what basis does he appeal to God for help?

4. How would his view of God encourage him and the people to trust God in this crisis?

5. Consider God’s response to his prayer (v 14-17). How would the prophet’s words have required faith from the people?

6. What evidence is there that the people believed his message (v 18-21)?

7. Describe the affects God’s faithfulness had on the people (v 25-30).

8. What can we learn about God’s faithfulness in this story?

9. Read the following verses how is the Lord Jesus referred to:

Isaiah 11:5 ________________________________________________________
Revelation 19:11a __________________________________________________
Hebrews 3:6 _______________________________________________________

10. What can we learn from these verses:
Proverbs 11:3 ______________________________________________________
Matthew 23:23 _____________________________________________________
Revelation 2:10 ____________________________________________________

Fruit of the Spirit # 6 Biting into the Fruit of Goodness

Psalm 107

1. As you read the Psalm count how many time the word good or goodness appears.

2. How do verses 1-3 introduce the major themes of this Psalm?

3. The psalmist gives four illustrations of God’s goodness in v4-9, 10-16, 17-22 and 23-32. What do each of these illustration have in common?

4. What needs do the people have in each section?

5. Notice in each situation the people call out to God for help. Is this usually your first reaction when you find yourself in distress? If not, what is?

6. Repeatedly the psalmist urges those who have been delivered to give thanks to the Lord. Why do we need to be reminded of this?

7. According to the psalmist what are some ways we should give thanks to God for His goodness and love (v 22, 32)?

8. What do verses 33-42 reveal about the ups and downs of life?

9. What things should we heed (v43)?

10. How does Titus 3:4-7 connect to this subject?

11. What promise is given for those who follow the Lord in Psalm 23:6?

12. What challenges are given in Ephesians 5:8-10 and Galatians 6:9-10?

Fruit of the Spirit # 4 Biting into the Fruit of Patience

Matthew 18:21-35

1. Looking through the passage, what contrast do you find?

2. The teachers of the day taught that a repeated sin should be forgiven three times. But what was the Lord’s rely?

3. Have you ever been really hurt by someone? Is what the Lord answer easy?

4. Jesus’ reply to Peter is enlarged by the parable in verses23-35. What is the first servant’s problem in this parable?

5. How was his problem solved beyond anything he could have hoped for?

6. How does the master illustrate God’s patience and forgiveness toward us in verse 27?

7. How does the way the first servant was treated, contrast with the way he treats his fellow servant (v28-30)?

8. Why do you think he failed to be patient or forgiving after having been forgiven so much?

9. How can a deep appreciation for God’s patience and forgiveness help you to be patient with a difficult person?

10. How had Paul learned this in his life (1 Timothy 1:15-17)?

11. What do the follow verses challenge us to do:
a. Proverbs 14:29


b. Proverbs 15:18


c. 1 Thessalonians 5:14


d. James 5:8-9

Fruit of the Spirit #3 Biting into the Fruit of Peace

Isaiah 43:1-7

1. Read John 14:25-27. What did Jesus promise those who follow Him?

2. According to Romans 5:1-2 how and when was this accomplished?

3. Looking at Isaiah 9:6, what is one of the names that the Lord Jesus is called?

4. Israel had sinned greatly by following other gods and running with those against God. But in Isaiah 43:1-7 we see pictured for us God’s love and care. What words and phrases indicate God’s special relationship with them?

5. Twice God tells His people not to be afraid (v1, 5). What dangers might they face (v2)?

6. How do you deal with the fears you face?

7. If the peace of God does not depend on freedom from adversity (v2), what does it depend on?

8. How does looking back at what God has done for us in the past help us face the present (v3-4)?

9. Look at verses 5-7. What would it be like to have God act on your behalf this way?

10. What instruction do you find in Philippians 4:6-9 that will help lead to enjoying peace instead of worrying?

11. What instruction do we find in Romans 12:18 and 14:19 that connect peace with the way you treat other people?

12. Where does this type of peace come from according to James 3:17?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Short Thought on Prayer

“But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him.” Psalm 4:3

If ever there were a reason for you and I to pray, it would be that Jesus told us to pray (see Luke 18:1b). Yet you may wonder why you need to talk to God about your needs since “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness. It is part of God’s grand scheme that we have been given the privilege to cooperate with God in prayer.

Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray “in the Spirit.” Any prayer that the Holy Spirit lays upon your heart will be answered, because the prayer that gets to heaven is the prayer that starts in heaven. We just close the circuit.

Fruit of the Spirit # 2 Joy Luke 24:33-54

1. Before His death what did the Lord Jesus desire for His followers (John 15:11 16:24, 17:13)?

2. After His death, burial and resurrection, what progression do His followers make in our verses in Luke?

3. When the Lord Jesus suddenly appeared in the room, how did it help the disciples to see His hands and feet (v39-40)?

4. How would it have helped their faith to see Him eat (v41-43)?

5. What filled their hearts (v41)?

6. Why were these activities-showing them His hands and feet and eating-necessary before He could open their minds to understand the Scriptures (v45)?

7. They thought Jesus would become King with power and force. How does Jesus change their vision and understanding at this point (v46-47)?

8. What the Father promised (v49) is the Holy Spirit who would be sent to the disciples in the near future. In light of what Jesus has just been saying (v46-48), why is the Spirit’s presence so important?

9. How do we see the Lord Jesus today (John 14:15-17, 26, 15:26, 16:13-15)?

10. We may not see the Lord with our physical eyes, but we see Him by faith. What does 1 Peter 1:8-9 say about seeing the Lord Jesus by faith?

11. In verses 52-53 the disciples have changed from wondering and disbelieving to having “great joy.” How does Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of the Holy Spirit help you to define joy?

12. How is Christian joy different from the happiness we get from the special events in our lives?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Galatians 5:16-23 - Fruit of the Spirit

1. What two forces are constantly fighting in your life?

2. Why does Paul say that if you follow the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to Moses' law? (Verse 5:18)

3. How do you behave when you follow your own (selfish, sinful) desires?

4. Why do you follow your own desires when you "know" that you should not?

5. What is the ultimate consequence of following your own desires? (Verse 5:2 1)

6. Rate yourself honestly on the fruits of the Spirit in your own life on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 means this is the way I act today, 1 means I have a long way to go on this item.

____ LOVE. Love is pre-eminent in my life. I see all people through the eyes of Christ. I have a deep compassi6n for the lost, the lonely, the weak and the poor. I am magnanimous towards those who "get in my hair." I keep no record of wrongs. I give selflessly, sometimes till it hurts. I go the extra mile. I would rather forgive 20 injuries than avenge one. God always comes first.
____ JOY. People know me for my joyful disposition even when there is a cause to grieve. There is a contagious radiance about me because "the joy of the Lord is my strength." I remain strong and positive when things go wrong because I trust in God. I am quick to see the brighter side of things. I know that for my shattered plans, God has better plans. My contentment springs from the knowledge that God is sovereign and Jesus is coming, again.
____ PEACE. The peace of God rules my heart and mind. I stay calm in disturbing situations because my eyes are fixed on Jesus. With few exceptions (and I'm working on these) I enjoy wholesome and beautiful relationships all round. Whenever relationships are strained or fractured I take the initiative in moving toward healing and restoration. I can see the dark spots in my own life and am quick to confess them. I am willing always to pay the price of being a peace-maker in a world of bruised relationships.
____ PATIENCE. I never make hasty judgements or speak hasty words. I am not quick at jumping to conclusions. I am patient with people when they fail or fall. I face opposition and discouragement with composure. I never give up. I keep cool while others are hot. I am not irritable or easily angered. My "tolerance level" is extremely high. I can put up with a lot. I accept people for who they are and not for how they perform. When I confront others, they feel I do so because I care!
____ KINDNESS. People feel "love's touch" when they're around me. I am blessed with a M-I-L-D disposition (though, occasionally, I do turn that "M" upside down). I let God deal with the bitterness, anger and malice in my heart. A deep respect and consideration for others, coupled with a forgiving spirit, makes relating to people such a pleasure! The kindness of Jesus is seen in me.
____ GOODNESS. The goodness of God touches my life and then overflows into the lives of others. I am a caring person, a friend and neighbor to many. A genuine benevolence characterizes my life. When I see a need, I respond to it in the compassion of Christ. I am sensitive to the evil and suffering around, and seek to be an instrument of God's liberating touch. Uplifting the quality of people's lives is a major concern to me.
____ FAITHFULNESS. I make promises and keep them. I am a man of my word. People can count on me. There is no gap in what I say and what I do. Fidelity is the hallmark of my marriage and other commitments. I do not flirt with the world or with anyone. I am true to the Lord, to my spouse, to people, and to causes that God entrusts to me. They are all sacred to me!
____ MEEKNESS. I am willing "to go under" any yoke that God wants me to to be SUBMISSIVE to God and to one another out of our mutual reverence for Christ. I freely and willingly accept all that God, in His providence, gives or withholds from me. I am willing to step "under the yoke" with Christ and my co-workers in kingdom service. I am willing to step aside when it is time to do so. I bring myself under the authority of Christ and His Church. I can "glory in my infirmities so that the power of God may be made manifest in me." I bear provocation without being inflamed by it. I give a soft answer when angry words are spoken. I respect my own rights and the rights of others, willing to give up mine if the Lord so guides me. I am a pro-actor not a reactor. I relate to others as one among sinners never arrogantly.
____ SELF-CONTROL. The key to my life is self-mastery. I am temperate in my thoughts, words, and actions. I live a disciplined life-in private and in public. I have complete mastery of my body, my mind, my emotions and will, my time, my possessions, my desires and appetites. I never lose control. I don't eat too much, drink too much, work too much, play too much, or sleep too much: no excesses whatever! Jesus is Lord over every area of my life!

Fruit of the Spirit #1 Love (1 John 4:7-16)

1. According to verse 7-8, where does love come from?

2. Verses 9-10 say that Christ’s incarnation and death show us God’s love. How do these two events help you to understand God’s love?

3. How does God’s love motivate you to love others (v11-12)?

4. What basis do we have for the assurance of love (v13-16)?

5. How would you define love according to what you have learned?

6. How have you seen God’s love demonstrated through other Christians?

7. Because God is love, what do we know about those whose lives are full of love (v16)?

8. No one has ever seen wind, energy or electrons. We see only the effects of what they do. Likewise, no one has ever seen the love of God. As you look again at this whole passage, in what ways can you see the effects of God’s love?

9. Think of someone you find it especially hard to feel close to. Why is it difficult for you to love that person?

10. Recognizing that love is not based on feeling, what are some ways you can show the fruit of love to that person?

11. Carefully read 1 Corinthians 13. What can you learn about love there and how does that speak to you?
a. Love ___________________________________________________________
b. Love ___________________________________________________________
c. Love ___________________________________________________________
d. Love ___________________________________________________________
e. Love ______________________________________________________¬_____
f. Love ___________________________________________________________
g. Love ___________________________________________________________
h. Love ___________________________________________________________
i. Love ___________________________________________________________
j. Love ______________________________________________________¬_____
k. Love ___________________________________________________________
l. Love ___________________________________________________________
m. Love ___________________________________________________________
n. Love ___________________________________________________________
o. Love ______________________________________________________¬_____

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Word of God

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21

The Word of God is indispensable for salvation. We are conceived by it. 1 Peter 1:23 says that we are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

The Word of God is indispensable for sanctification. We are cleansed by it. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren.”

The Word of God is indispensable for sustenance. We are completed by it. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Do you want to grow? Then you’d better get into the Word of God.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

God’s Unique Plan for You

Romans 12

Because each of us is different, God’s plan for each of us is also different. If we are to know that plan, we must know ourselves-pour gift, talents, strengths and weaknesses. In the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans, Paul tells about the facts of the gospel. Beginning at chapter12, he speaks of the practical implications of the gospel for our behavior. His words have much to say about God’s plans and direction for our lives.

1. After reading this chapter, how would you define a “living sacrifice”?

2. Verse 2 says that being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” will allow us to test and approve what God’s will is.” What is a renewed mind?

3. How does is it different from a mind that has been conformed “conformed to the pattern of this world?

4. How do our minds become either conformed or renewed?

5. What are some ways you can train your mind to be renewed?

6. What responsibility do you have to test and to prove what God’s will is?

7. How will this renewing, test and proving help you make wise choices?

8. What do verses 3-8 teach us about God’s plan for the Christian community or local assembly?

9. What is meant by “thinking soberly” about yourself (v3)?

10. How will failure to do this lead you off tract in understanding God’s will and making wise choices?

11. As you look “soberly” at yourself what do you believe to be your function and gifts in the body?

12. How will understanding your gifts help you prove what God’s will is, so that you can make good decisions?

13. How do verses 9-21 tell us that we should be treating other people? What impact will this have on the choices that I make personally?

Worry Free Decisions

Luke 12:13-34

When this man came to the Lord Jesus upset about an inheritance, the Lord Jesus took the opportunity to talk with his disciples about making decisions that please God instead of worrying about self.

1. Describe the man in verse 13. What were his worries?

2. What do people worry about today? What do you worry about?

3. What impact do our worries have on our decisions?

4. Why wouldn’t the Lord Jesus help the man in this story (v14-15)?

5. To what extent has or should “abundance” have on your decision making process?

6. The rich man thought he had made a worry-free decision (v19). Why was he called a fool (v20)?

7. The rich man did have a problem that needed to be solved (v17). What decisions could he have made that the Lord would have found pleasing?

8. Why are the ravens and lilies so carefree (v22-28)?

9. What would be different about making a decision from a raven or lily’s point of view?

10. How does worry and independent action dishonor God (v28-30)?

11. What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God (v31) and a treasure in heaven (v33)?

12. How can you seek God’s kingdom as you make decisions?

13. Look at James 1:2-8. Doubt can often be the same as worry. According to these verses why are some people confused?

14. Why is a wave a good description of a doubter (v6)? How will that affect your decision making?

15. What advice does James gives us for dealing with doubt and worry (v5-6)?

Making Wise Decisions

You are confronted with the need to make decisions each day of your life. Some of these will only be matters of personal preference that will not impact your life in any significant way—matters such as “What clothes will I wear today?” or “What will I eat for lunch?”

However, other decisions have long-term ramifications that will affect your happiness and overall well-being. For example, should you attend college or further your education through other options? What career path should you pursue? What kind of person do you want to marry? Where will you live? Because these and other decisions we face can affect us for the rest of our lives, they require proper consideration, in addition to seeking wise counsel.

Life requires that we make wise decisions, to ensure that our lives are happier and that we can have peace of mind. But making the right decisions is not a matter of luck or chance. It’s not a coin toss. Remember, you may have to live with the effects of a wrong decision for a long time—and, in some cases, a lifetime! Making sound choices is a matter of knowing and applying certain keys.

There is an Instruction Manual that contains those keys, inspired by One who is the Source of right knowledge and wisdom. No doubt, that manual is already in your possession; it is called the Holy Bible. Few realize that God’s Word contains the all-important guidelines needed to make truly wise decisions!

So let’s look into this manual to learn these guidelines. Before beginning, get your Bible, a pen or a pencil, and some paper. Writing out the verses that answer the questions will help you remember the priceless principles you will be learning.

(1) Who was the wisest of all men? 1 Kings 4:30-34. How did he obtain that wisdom? 1 Kings 4:29. Also read 1 Kings 3:5-13.

(2) Did Solomon write the book of Proverbs? Proverbs 1:1. What is one of the key principles it gives for making wise decisions? Proverbs 3:5-6.

(3) Will God grant His wisdom, knowledge and understanding to those who seek it? Proverbs 2:1-6

God will direct your ways and give you wisdom, if you are striving to please Him. The vehicle He uses to dispense wisdom is the Bible. God inspired its words for our edification, so that we might benefit from His instructions (II Timothy 3:16-17).

(4) Can God’s Word act as a spotlight to point out the path we should take? Psalm 119:105.

Notice the comparison God makes between the vital knowledge, guidance and wisdom contained in His word to a chest full of precious treasure (Proverbs 8:10-11). Further, notice God’s description of its value in Proverbs 3:13-18.

As you can see, the instruction contained in God’s Word is far more valuable than silver, gold or any other precious commodity of this world. These principles will help you to make wise judgments in all areas of life.
There exists a virtual gold mine of wisdom and understanding in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Proverbs. Its priceless wisdom will guide anyone, old and young alike, in making decisions that lead to lifelong success and happiness. Among the benefits to be enjoyed are good health, a successful career, a happy marriage, happy children and lasting friendships.

(5) How did King David refer to God’s Word? Psalm 119:72, 162. Was he able to obtain understanding and wisdom by following God’s instructions? Psalm 119:97-100, 104. From his youth, David learned through practical experience that God’s Word is a warehouse of wisdom, understanding and knowledge! He diligently studied all of the scriptures that were available to him in his day. David meditated on God’s Law and thought about how to apply it in making wise decisions. By doing so, he was abundantly blessed. He became wiser than his enemies and had more understanding than even his teachers.

(6) Has God recorded the lives of those in the Old and New Testaments so we can learn from these accounts—both their successes and failures? Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:6, 11.

In reading about the lives of the great figures of the Bible—men such as Abraham, Moses and David, and women such as Ruth, Hannah and Sarah—you can learn from their experiences. Applying these valuable lessons and principles will help you make wise decisions.

Let’s look at some additional keys for wise decision making. We must understand how important it is to avoid making rash or hasty decisions. Notice the principles in Proverbs 21:5, 4:26 and 14:15.

As we can see, a cardinal rule to good decision making is to avoid jumping to conclusions. A hasty decision can end up causing you unnecessary grief and regret, because you did not fully understand the facts before making it. You need to take sufficient time to carefully analyze the situation and consider all the facts. Think it through, and consider what the end results of the various alternatives would be—or could be. In addition, don’t allow others to pressure or rush you to make hasty decisions. They may not have your best interests in mind.

(7) Is it wise to seek advice and counsel from those who have knowledge and experience before making important decisions? Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20.

Consider this old saying: “Two heads are better than one.” It is prudent to seek advice and assistance from others, perhaps someone older with more experience, such as your parents, teachers or experts in a particular field. Often, they can advise or steer you in the right direction to making a wise decision or solving a problem. Their valuable advice could bring up ideas or considerations of which you may not have thought.
Sometimes, what you might think to be a good course of action is not necessarily the best. That is why it is important to seek the advice of your parents, teachers and elders. They may have gone through similar experiences, and therefore know the consequences of making a foolish decision. They want to provide guidance to help you avoid mistakes that could prove costly and cause much grief. But remember, any counsel you act upon must be within the framework of God’s Law.

(8) What benefits are there in getting to know and associate with those who are wise? Proverbs 13:20; 27:17.
Associate with friends who are known for their wisdom and good judgment. Such friendships will have a tendency to sharpen your wits, and can aid you in making wise decisions. Spending time with people who have immoral values may seem like harmless fun—but it will only lead to compromising the values you have learned in God’s Church (I Cor. 15:33).
Read autobiographies and biographies of successful men and women known for their wisdom, balance, understanding and common sense. From their experiences, you can glean important character traits and certain ways of doing things that you can apply in your own life.

(9) Should a person take the time to carefully “count the cost” of a decision to be certain he is able to see it through to completion? Luke 14:28-30.

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but many neglect this important step to making wise decisions. This may result from being caught up in the moment and not thinking through the long-term effects of certain judgments, such as whether to buy a new car with all the desired options versus a used car in excellent condition with lower payments; what career to pursue, and where to go for the necessary training; whether to move out on your own, and whether you will be able to afford rent, utilities and associated living expenses, etc.

When pondering such decisions, you must take time to count the cost. You have to consider if your plans might be premature, financially inadvisable or unrealistic.

(10) How do you begin to apply all these principles in wise decision making? Where is the starting point of understanding? Proverbs 9:10; 10:13.

(11) Has God promised to give us the needed wisdom to make wise decisions if we ask Him for it? James 1:5-6.

We need to go directly to the source of right knowledge and wisdom. God, the SUPREME SOURCE of wisdom and sound judgment, will guide you as you strive to apply these biblical principles, if you consult Him. But in order to reap the benefits of His guidance, you must be willing to OBEY Him.

Also, be aware that even in your diligence to apply these key principles, you will occasionally make a bad decision. It may be due to unknown factors or circumstances beyond your control; but in any case, it should be the exception, rather than the norm. When this happens, do not be discouraged, but learn whatever you can from the experience.

Let’s briefly summarize the principles we have learned in this Bible study:
1. Avoid making hasty decisions.
2. Gather all the information and facts you can.
3. Seek counsel and advice from qualified individuals with proven experience.
4. Study God’s Word to benefit from His wisdom.
5. Most importantly, ask God for guidance in applying wisdom in your life.
If you diligently apply these important principles, you will experience the happy, abundant and successful life that God wishes every one of us to enjoy!

LOT: A SAVED SOUL - A LOST LIFE

(Genesis 12:1-5; 13:1-13; 14:1-16; and 19:1-38)
There is no better way to encourage ourselves and one another than by studying the lives of men and women who have served God in the past – look up Romans 15:4. But this line of study will also bring us solemn warnings about the dangers and pitfalls which confront us – look up
1 Corinthians 10:11-12. We begin with a word of warning, as we read and study the character of Lot. The scripture references above make very sad reading. They tell us about a man who was saved, as is made clear when he is referred to as "that righteous man" in 2 Peter 2:6 – 9. In New Testament language, Lot was a saved man, but he was only just saved; he was a worldly Christian who had a saved soul but a lost life, because he lived for self and was in bondage to the things of time and sense, and he became engulfed in and succumbed to the evils of his time. Notice the following main lines of teaching which we extract from the sad story of Lot.

1. Lot walked by sight and not by faith.
The true hallmark of the believer is that he walks by faith and not by sight – look up 2 Corinthians 5:7; but the worldly believer reverses the order – look up Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. Lot lived by sight, and this is most of all apparent in the selfish, carnal choice he made – read about it in Genesis 13:1-11, and compare 2 Corinthians 4: 18. The worldly Christian lays up treasure on earth and has little or no treasure in Heaven – look up Matthew 6:19-20; and the worldly Christian, walking by sight, is governed by the world's wisdom and standards – look up 1 Corinthians 2:2-7 and 1 John 2:15-17.

2. Lot made his home and reared his children in wicked Sodom.
He deliberately chose to do so, as we learn from Genesis 13:12-13. At first, Lot only pitched his tent towards Sodom, but later we find him living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12), a prosperous citizen of Sodom and holding a high position in the civic and social life of the city. Lot was a V.I.P. in Sodom – but how sad for a child of God! He called the wicked men of Sodom "friends" (Genesis 19:7) – so he was one of them. Probably he never intended to drift into the worldly, sensual, God-dishonouring life of Sodom, but what Christian ever intends to get away from God and to dishonour Him? Before long, his wife and children were thoroughly imbued with the worldliness of Sodom. This picture is surely up-to-date, though it happened with Lot and his family 4000 years ago! But God's call is to separation – look up 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 and also 2 Peter 2:20.

3. Lot was out of touch with God.
• He lost the consciousness of the presence of God Look up Genesis 13:14, and notice the word "after". How solemn! – look up Job 23: 3.
• He lost the experience of the peace of God In 2 Peter 2:6–9 we are told that the wickedness of the Sodomites "distressed" the soul of Lot. Yes, his conscience was troubled and it "stung" him – look up Isaiah 57:20-21. How could he know peace in his heart when he was enmeshed by the world and by worldly people?
• He lost the power of God – if he had ever had it! Instead of being a power for God he had become a weak, worldly, failing, disobedient man. His case was rather like that of Samson – look up Judges 16: 4-20.

4. Lot had no influence for God.
He did not look, walk or act like a man of God, and nobody ever dreamed that he was one. As a believer he should have exerted a powerful influence for the Lord, but because he was so weak and so worldly his influence for God counted for nothing at all.
• He had no influence with the men of Sodom. We learn this from Genesis 19:1-ll, and particularly notice in verses 7–9 that they laughed him to scorn. The men of Sodom must have despised Lot – and the world despises a worldly, "make-believe" Christian.
• He had no influence with his children. We learn this from Genesis 19:8; this is a verse to make us shudder, but is there a sadder verse in the whole Bible than Genesis 19:14?
• He had no influence with his own wife. We learn this from Genesis 19:26, which tells the solemn story of her disobedience and her tragic end.


5. Lot went from bad to worse and he became hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
In Genesis 19:15-16, we read that Lot "hesitated" – which tells us that his conscience was seared (1 Timothy 4:2). How slow he was to obey God, even when God had warned him of impending judgment! – look up 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9. These are some of the most solemn words in the Bible.

6. Lot lost his honour and was involved in shame with his own daughters.
The awful story of debauchery, weakness, deceit, drunkenness and incest is told in Genesis 19:30-38. Scripture does not gloss over men's sins. Let us be warned and take heed as we read this sad, sad story. The result was that two illegitimate children were born – Moab and Ammon – from whom came the bitterest enemies of ancient Israel – the Moabites and the Ammonites. Sin, if it is harboured, goes on working in the heart and in the life, and eventually it leads to shame and tragedy – even to members of one's own family.

7. Finally, Lot was literally "saved; yet so as by fire."
He was "plucked out of the fire" – look up Zechariah 3:2, and compare 1 Corinthians 3:15 and Jude 23. Every believer will have to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ – look up Romans 14:10. There, we shall either be rewarded for faithfulness, or we shall suffer loss because, like Lot, we have lived an easy-going, careless, worldly life. All believers will be saved, but some will be saved "yet so as by fire" – look up and seriously consider
1 Corinthians 3:11-15.