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  • Writer's pictureVickie Sargent-Kler

Where Should We Be Going?

A Prayer to Open Our Study

Heavenly Father, I pray You will help us change the things in our lives that keep us attached to the world. I pray for change because we do not want to be conformed to this world, instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that by testing us, we may discern what is Your will, what is good and acceptable and perfect. I pray for change/renewal so we may see a manifestation of a change in our lives,

In Jesus' name, Amen.


Lesson Five Part One: Four Corrections Compelled by Adversity

Once again Mr. Stanley starts us off with two questions:

Learning: How can I know if I am walking in God’s will?

Growing: What happens if I get off course?

Mr. Stanley said that God wants us to change four areas of our lives and He uses adversity to help move us into these “course corrections.” He said God insists that we conquer pride and humble ourselves to His will. That we hate sin and purge ourselves of evil. Sift our friendships so they are in keeping with His plan for our lives. And adjust our priorities so we place the highest value on the things of God and adopt new habits of behavior. God wants us to be disciplined and mature adults in the faith so we can experience inner peace and harmony, enjoy relationships with other believers, and receive the blessings that God desires to give to us through other people. On our own we can’t always make the course corrections we need to get us to these better choices, and that is why God steps in to correct us.

Mr. Stanley continues to remind us that “God prunes us so that everything in our lives bears fruit.” God does not prune us because He is angry with us. God does not prune us to discourage us. God does this because He loves us, we are His branches and, He is the gardener, and He will prune the dead wood out of our lives. John 15:2 tells us, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

1. Mr. Stanley asks us, When has God “pruned” your life? What did He cut away?

Sometimes it is our Possessions: sometimes our “stuff” (whether it’s our homes, cars, boats or electronics) can impede us having a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.

Sometimes it is our Processes: Certain activities and practices can lead us into error. The easiest example of this is food and drink; too much of either can lead to our demise. But this is also true for other processes such as hobbies, sports amateur or professional, addictions to pornography, television, etc. These endeavors if done in excess or without consideration can interrupt our fellowship with God.

Sometimes it is our People: There are times when our relationships with our friends and family as influencers can take our focus off God or make us feel bad about ourselves for our past sins. They can also lead us to sin.

Read John 15:1-8

2. Mr. Stanley asks us to analyze how we felt during the pruning process, and what do you feel has grown in place of what was cut off?

Take a few minutes and think of the things that God cut out of your life. Write them down and then add to your list the things that God gave you to replace them. How did it make you feel, was it anger, confusion?

I felt like it was unjustified. Did I really have to lose my business and my home? Why did my best friend and I need to have a falling out? There have been many more things He has cut out, but the more He has cut the more I have grown. When I discipline my children, I am sure they don’t like it either, but as their mother it’s my responsibility to protect them, even if it is from themselves. My discipline is how they can be sure that I love them. Our heavenly Father loves us too, and He prunes us in order to assure us that we are truly saved. It’s also important to remember that God does not prune unbelievers in order that they may become more fruitful, for their fruits would simply consist of more dead works. His pruning proves to us that we are His children.

Mr. Stanley listed four areas that God expects us to be constantly improving, they are Pride, Sin, Associations, and Priorities. We will spend the rest of our time breaking each of these apart.

Correcting Our Attitude of Pride

My mother always warned me when I was feeling prideful, of the old adage that “pride comes before a fall.” I knew when she said that to me, I needed to check myself. She was right and that correction comes to us straight from the Bible in the book of Provers chapter 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Her version was a bit condensed, but the implication was the same. When we get too full of ourselves thinking that we are more than others, we are heading down a rough road that frequently leads us into trouble. Mr. Stanley reminds us that we usually lose the things we are the most proud about having achieved, earned, owned or accomplished. God has allowed the loss of these things to encourage us to humble ourselves before Him, and to submit to His will.

Read James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5 and Proverbs 13:10

3. Mr. Stanley asked us after reading Proverbs 13:10, to wonder has your pride caused you strife, and would humility have changed things?

When we allow ourselves to become embroiled in strife, we have said “No” to love. Strife is the opposite of love, and it destroys unity. Unity based on the truth of God is so important to Jesus that, in His longest recorded prayer in John 17:22, He asked the Father that His followers would “be one as you and I are one.” Anything that shatters that unity is an enemy of the church and an enemy of God. Strife distracts us from our ultimate purpose of making disciples. Fulfillment of that command is Satan’s biggest fear, so he keeps us tangled in our own petty disagreements, disappointments, and disputes so that we limit our impact on the lost world.

Now that we know the dangers of strife running rampant in our lives, what can we do about it? Scientific studies have shown that adopting a more humble mindset increases our overall psychological wellbeing and ensures our social functioning. Humility is a perfect antidote to the self-fixated spirit of our age and will combat strife. One of these studies reported that humility as made up of three parts:

Now that we know the dangers of strife running rampant in our lives, what can we do about it? Scientific studies have shown that adopting a more humble mindset increases our overall psychological wellbeing and ensures our social functioning. Humility is a perfect antidote to the self-fixated spirit of our age and will combat strife. One of these studies reported that humility as made up of three parts:

Accurate self-perception: A willingness to see ourselves truthfully, when we can look at all our gifts and failures, we get an accurate perception of our place in the world. Which in turn will give us a modest self-portrayal. When we own our imperfections, we no longer have to waste our energy hiding them from others but can instead seek to learn to live with them productively or even to overcome them.

Accurate relationships: Humility in relationships can be transformational when we move beyond our selfish preferences and consider not just our partner’s wellbeing, but the wellbeing of the partnership. It requires being sympathetic to the other person in the relationship and seeking to consider his or her fundamental needs, as well as shaping our behavior to elevate the other person’s agenda. valuing the social good over the satisfaction of our individual aspirations. As our ability and capacity to prioritize the needs of the relationship over our own we will see that humility builds trust, commitment, and persistence in our relationships.

Accurate appreciation of the value of all things: Nature has curative powers. It can put us back in our place. We can experience a powerfully self-importance-correcting sense of amazement by looking out to sea, peering down the edges of dramatic cliffs, touching the ancient trunks of towering trees, and viewing waterfalls, fast-flowing rivers, and still, deep ponds. These awe-inspiring forces remind us to keep our minds on the Creator not ourselves. And reminds us of our relative insignificance in the greater scheme of things.

Read Ephesians 4:2, Proverbs 11:2, Philippians 2:3-4

4. In Proverbs 13:10 it says with the well-advised, Mr. Stanley wants us to answer what does it mean to be “well-advised” and how does good advice lead to wisdom rather than to adversity?

When I think of good counsel I think of my father. He didn’t give out advice like water but was sparing with it. He believed ‘A wise man doesn’t need advice and a fool won’t take it’, so when he shared advice, I knew it was important. My husband and I want our children to have a practical knowledge of life lessons. Therefore, we have started reading Proverbs with them. I think the most important life lesson to gain from King Solomon is that when God asked him what he would like, Solomon asked for: an understanding heart, discernment, and wisdom. Would we make that same choice? I highly doubt it. The best part was that by choosing correctly the Lord was pleased and gave Solomon wisdom, but He also gave him what he didn’t ask for: long life, riches, and success in battle. No one before or after has been as wise as Solomon was. To answer Mr. Stanley’s question, I went to King Solomon and this is what he said in Proverbs 12:15 “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” It is important for us to seek out not only good but wise counsel.

Read Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 27:2

More to come…

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