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Bible Study Notes 2/22/22

Word Alive! ©2022 Winter Series Finding God’s Purpose Forward! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor Tuesday, 22 February 2022, Lesson 6, Part 1 Dr. David Jeremiah, Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and Purpose For Tomorrow Devotional Time: Chapter 4 (pp. 61-77) Finding Your Focus – The instructions we receive as infants and young children, set the tone for a life-long journey of seeking answers and directions in how to manage and navigate life. The behaviors we develop are learned; but they can and often do change as we interact with our environment. From the first to the last pages of the Holy Scripture we observe and read “instructions” that are given to us from God. These instructions were mediated through God’s servants, and often came during great transition moments in the human journey. Before the Israelites possessed the Promised Land, God told Joshua, that the success of the people, and his own as leader, was contingent upon their following the sacred laws that were given to Moses. Joshua, as leader was promised success provided, he followed the instructions which would give him focus. They were not to deviate from the single commitment, to possess the land and build a nation. They would obey God’s instructions (cf. Joshua 1:7-8, NLT). One of the great impediments to finding our focus, is a failure to understand how God has chosen to use us for His glory. We can only properly understand God’s purpose, when we engage in personal fellowship with Him. We must seek to quiet ourselves to a place, where distractions will not be a hindrance in listening to God. David said of all his pursuits and achievements, nothing compared to his consuming “desire” to be present before the Lord (cf. Psalm 27:4, NLT). David went through a period of self-examination and soul-searching to discern what was it, that he most desired in life. In ascertaining knowledge of that specific focus, he felt His whole pursuit should be centered around establishing and cultivating fellowship with God. We must believe in God’s divine integrity, justice, and compassion for us as we seek to focus on what God is calling us to presently, and in the journey forward. The scriptures assure us that God would never mislead us, nor would He endorse our efforts to go in a direction that would irrevocably harm us (cf. Psalm 25:8-10, NLT). We often make decisions that are contrary to God’s plan; the consequences are the result of our doing, and not God’s. When we trust and obey God, He leads us. His mercy and love sustain us when we stumble (cf. Psalm 37:23-24, NLT). In the helpful book Forward, pastor and author David Jeremiah says when we feel we’ve lost our focus we should pray: “Lord help me focus on your will for my life so I won’t be distracted, destroyed, discouraged, disappointed or defeated.” The scripture says, “The Lord holds [the godly] by the hand.” He cares for us even when we make mistakes and tenderly leads us on. He can bring our lives in focus! Focusing – Our inability to focus often is our dependence on human wisdom alone. Our thoughts, perceptions, and biases are the result of what we are exposed to. This is not to suggest that all knowledge or perceptions are evil. But it does mean we need to evaluate what we hear by the standard of God’s truth. The Apostle Paul, even quoted a secular poet to emphasize the fact that Christians should seek God’s wisdom in developing healthy friendships. Paul used the quote of a long-established poet (Meander) who said, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Paul had taught previously that spiritual discernment, which helps us focus and make the right decisions, can only be obtained through the Spirt, and not merely through human thinking alone. Paul said: “But it was to us that God revealed these things to us by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets (cf. I Corinthians 2:10, NLT).” Paul was expressing the same teaching of the wisdom writer, who said seeking focus from God helps us understand. Embracing God’s wisdom above our own also induces health benefits (cf. Proverbs 3:5-8, NLT). Similar to Paul’s admonition to avoid unhealthy relationships, is the warning in the wisdom literature to “avoid” toxic relationships. Such relationships could cause a person to internalize and exhibit the unhealthy behavior of others (cf. Proverbs 22:24-25, NLT). Where human reasoning alone, and unhealthy relationships, could eclipse our focus on God’s plan, being faithful to God first and foremost will help us attain the right focus. Jesus said we must first seek His reign in our lives, and live according to His principles, then our focus will assure us that all of our needs will be met (cf. Matthew 6:33, NLT). We will set the right priorities, have a healthy/godly behavior, and we will be able to better discern God’s will. Dr. David Jeremiah said his cure for feelings and emotions that become frayed is this: “When I start feeling these emotions, I have to shut down and get away some place with my Bible, my notebook, and my journal. I have to back away from all the pressure and say, “Lord, I’m starting to feel things I shouldn’t feel. Now help me to get focused again.” When we’re unfocused we often feel vulnerable. We should always remember we matter much to God (cf. Matthew 10:29b-31, NLT). To move forward, we must learn what to dispossess ourselves of, and to seek God’s wisdom in finding that single focus that will sustain us and direct us in the season ahead. The Apostle Paul did this, and so can we (cf. Phil. 3:7;8a;13b-14, NLT). Focusing – Our inability to focus often is our dependence on human wisdom alone. Our thoughts, perceptions, and biases are the result of what we are exposed to. This is not to suggest that all knowledge or perceptions are evil. But it does mean we need to evaluate what we hear by the standard of God’s truth. The Apostle Paul, even quoted a secular poet to emphasize the fact that Christians should seek God’s wisdom in developing healthy friendships. Paul used the quote of a long-established poet (Meander) who said, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Paul had taught previously that spiritual discernment, which helps us focus and make the right decisions, can only be obtained through the Spirt, and not merely through human thinking alone. Paul said: “But it was to us that God revealed these things to us by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets (cf. I Corinthians 2:10, NLT).” Paul was expressing the same teaching of the wisdom writer, who said seeking focus from God helps us understand. Embracing God’s wisdom above our own also induces health benefits (cf. Proverbs 3:5-8, NLT). Similar to Paul’s admonition to avoid unhealthy relationships, is the warning in the wisdom literature to “avoid” toxic relationships. Such relationships could cause a person to internalize and exhibit the unhealthy behavior of others (cf. Proverbs 22:24-25, NLT). Where human reasoning alone, and unhealthy relationships, could eclipse our focus on God’s plan, being faithful to God first and foremost will help us attain the right focus. Jesus said we must first seek His reign in our lives, and live according to His principles, then our focus will assure us that all of our needs will be met (cf. Matthew 6:33, NLT). We will set the right priorities, have a healthy/godly behavior, and we will be able to better discern God’s will. Dr. David Jeremiah said his cure for feelings and emotions that become frayed is this: “When I start feeling these emotions, I have to shut down and get away some place with my Bible, my notebook, and my journal. I have to back away from all the pressure and say, “Lord, I’m starting to feel things I shouldn’t feel. Now help me to get focused again.” When we’re unfocused we often feel vulnerable. We should always remember we matter much to God (cf. Matthew 10:29b-31, NLT). To move forward, we must learn what to dispossess ourselves of, and to seek God’s wisdom in finding that single focus that will sustain us and direct us in the season ahead. The Apostle Paul did this, and so can we (cf. Phil. 3:7;8a;13b-14, NLT). __________________________________KEY IDEA_____________________________ What We Believe! Finding our life-focus, is to discover how God is acting on our behalf. 1. When we listen intently to God, He shows us the way forward. ________________________________KEY VERSES____________________________ Joshua 1:7-8 NLT “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Psalm 27:4 NLT “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most –is 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.” Psalm 25:8-10, NLT “The Lord is good and does what is right: He shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faith-fulness all who keep His covenant and obey His commands.” Psalm 37:23-24, NLT “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Proverbs 3:5-8, NLT “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 22:24-25, NLT “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them.” Matthew 6:33, NLT “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matthew 10:29b-31, NLT “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Phil. 3:7; 8a;13b-14, NLT “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. No brothers and sisters I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”

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