The following is an overview of a series of lessons Grace Baptist Church uses in the Ministry of Discipleship. Each lesson addresses a specific life "problem" facing mankind, and Godís specific remedy for each one.
LESSON 1 INTRODUCTION
I Corinthians 10:13
This series of lessons will be dealing with specific problems that are experienced by all of us at some point. The text points out that temptation (trails, problems) are "common to man."
Often, knowing that we are not alone in this matter of difficulties is a cause for encouragement. We note this in I Kings 19:14-18 where God pointed out that the prophet was not alone in having problems. We see this again brought to our attention in I Peter 4:12-14 where we are reminded that such problems qualify us to be "partakers of Christís sufferings." And again in I Peter 5:7-11 problems stemming from Satanic attack are common to Christians.
You wonít live long before you realize that things donít always happen as expected or planned. When that which is anticipated does not occur when or in the way we planned, we experience disappointment. Disappointment may not be avoided, but its affects on our lives can be if we have a proper understanding of it.
Consider: 1) Disappointment Defined 2) Disappointment Discussed 3) Disappointment Defeated
There is much said today about the problem of low self-image, or inferiority complex. The condition can be a serious impairment, especially when it limit a personís availability to God.
Consider: 1) The Condition 2) The Cause 3) The Cure
Pressure, according to experts (?), is one of the 20th Centuryís biggest problems. According to the text we read, it appears to take its toll. It would seem that with all of manís devices and supposed progress he would come up with a pressure-free society. Instead, the advancements of our age have only increased the pressures. Just the speed at which we travel today is producing things unheard of 100 years ago. We complain of "jet lag" because we just flew coast-to-coast in the time it took the pioneers to hitch up their teams. Life in the fast lane has its drawbacks.
Consider: 1) Pressure: A Problem 2) Pressure Producers 3) Positive Points 4) Prevention Plan
The subject of resentment is one that needs to be addressed frequently. Many of the problems we have are the direct result of resentment: depression, loneliness, hostility, and irritability.
The word resent means: "to hear again or resound." It is the reviewing, re-living, or re-feeling of an unpleasant or offensive experience. The results are often an angry, bitter spirit.
Consider: 1) The Principle of Resentment 2) The Principle of Reconciliation 3) The Principle of Responsibility
Jesus had much to say about materialism. He did not condemn material possessions, but He cautioned against a wrong relationship to them. Godís blessings upon His people are many times material. The great danger is in replacing God with that which He gives. It has been said, "It is not wrong for us to own things; but it is wrong for things to own us."
Consider: 1) Material Possessions are Trouble 2) Material Possessions are Temporary 3) Material Possessions are not Trustworthy
I Peter 4:12-19
The question is frequently asked, "Why do the righteous suffer?" The answer to this question is not a simple one. The reasons for suffering in a righteous manís life are manifold. In this study, we will consider a number of causes and effects that suffering has had in the lives of various individuals.
Consider: 1) Job 2) The Blind Man 3) The Apostle Paul
The will of GodÖa matter that most people consider to be clouded with such mystery that to truly know it is rare, if not impossible. For some, the will of God is determined by means of signs; for others it is by "chance" practices as pointing to a spot on a map while blindfolded.
Many books have been written about the will of God. These are often only an account of how someone else knew Godís will for their own life. To attempt to apply what was personally used of God in anotherís life is very unwise. It would seem that the God who has such precision and order in His creation and such clarity and minute detail in His written revelation would be capable of communicating clearly His will to His children. Such is the case as we consider knowing Godís will.
Consider: 1) General Will of God 2) Surrendered Will to God 3) Special Will of God
II Timothy 4:6-18
Loneliness is something everyone experiences at times in life. It may occur the first time an infant is left with someone other than parents. It may take the form of "homesickness" when a child goes away for the first time. It is often experienced when relocating in unfamiliar surroundings, and culture shock occurs. These are all real cases of loneliness. They are common to everyone. Most of these are brief and mild in nature. Our study is involved with the causes and cures for all kinds of loneliness.
Consider: 1) The Condition 2) The Causes 3) The Cure
The condemnation experienced in a personís life presents a very real and often perplexing problem. Condemnation is always destructive, whether real or imagined, justified or unjust. The subject is one with many aspects, a few of which will be considered in this lesson.
Consider: 1) The Subject 2) The Sources 3) The Solutions
The problem to be considered is that of Priorities Ė the ordering of our lives based upon the important coming before the less important. This would seem to be simple and pose little problem. In practice, however, we find that determining priorities and doing "first things first" is a very real problem. This is especially so in the spiritual dimension of life.
Consider: 1) Deciding 2) Devoting 3) Defending
I Corinthians 10:13
The problem of temptation is the subject of this lesson. Temptation is a universal problem. As long as man has a fallen nature, temptation will be a problem. For this reason we need to understand the operation of temptation and how to oppose it..
Consider: 1) Tempting or Testing 2) Self or Satan 3) Passing or Failing
God expects the believer to grow in the likeness of Christ. Growth, not perfection, is His expectation. Since we still have the old selfish thought patterns, as well as the new nature, we still sin. Every selfish attitude, thought, word, deed, and habit is sin. It is essential to our growth in Christ that we learn the way God has provided for us to clear our conscience, to stay in fellowship, and to continue to grow.
Our old way of treating sin must change. Like Adam and Eve, our Genesis Three way of dealing with guilt is ineffective. The Genesis Three kind of person hides, blameshifts, and tries to cover over sin so that God and others cannot see it. Godís way is to grow in transparency: to walk in the light of His Word and deal with sin properly.
Good relationships over any length of time do not come automatically!
All of the story plots patterned after Goldilocks and Prince Charming who "ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after" are purely fictional and absolutely unscriptural! Relationships simply never, ever, ever happen that way! They cannot! The reason is that all men are sinners, and sinners are selfish and finite. The fact that we are selfish and finite means that WE ARE GOING TO HAVE CONFLICTS!
However, you may cheer up! Good marriages and good relationships are not built upon an absence of problems. Problems CAN and MUST be solved! God commands it! And what He has commanded He always gives the means and the strength to carry out.
In Ephesians 4:22-32, Paul talks about putting off old ways and putting on Christís ways. In these verses he gives us FIVE RULES FOR COMMUNICATION to solve problems. These rules are to be used in all our relationships.
Consider: 1) Be Honest 2) Keep Current 3) Work to Meet the Need 4) Attack the Problem Ė Not the Person 5) Act; Donít React
Biblical love has four forms. We will primarily focus on one.
Christ told His disciples, "By this [your love for one another] shall all men know that you are my disciples" (John 13:34,35). In Ephesians 4:16 Paul describes a healthy church as one in which every member is meeting needs and, as a result, the body is not only healthy, but also increases. Hebrews 10:24 commands believers to influence and urge one another toward love and good works. There are numerous passages in the New Testament exhorting believers to love and care for "one another."
This love and care for one another is not to cease when a believer does wrong in a way that hinders growth and interpersonal relationships. Notice carefully that the unloving legalists in John 8:3-11 ignored the problem of the man taken in adultery and sought to cut off the woman involved. However, in the Book written to combat legalism, Paul tells the Spirit-controlled believer to set out to "restore" a believer who is "overtaken in a fault" (Galatians 6:1). Love is to motivate us! We cannot ignore or destroy as the legalists do; love cannot stop when conflicts arise; love must seek to restore. We are to care for one another when the need is greatest (Galatians 6:2).
However, we must be careful. The greater the problem, differences, or conflict; the greater the love which must be manifested and the greater the need to follow Christís principles. Letís study them.
When Paul said, "grieve not the Holy SpiritÖ" he was referring to the misuses of the tongue.
James said that oneís ability to "bridle" his tongue is a test of maturity.
Probably no time can be more rewarding than the time spent in prayerful planning and practice of the right words and speech. The tongue can either heal or bruise. It may give hope, or it may discourage. It can be directed toward God or away from Him. It can either make or break marriages and friendships. It can honor God or curse Him.
It is important to our Christian growth and ministry that we study and grow in the knowledge of Scriptural principles regarding the use of the tongue.