Some of the most challenging times of our lives occur when we lose something precious to us—health, a loved one, the trust and intimacy of a close relationship, or freedom. This week we will investigate the Bible’s advice and counsel to us for remaining faithful to God even in these difficult times. Hebrews 12:3 encourages us to “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be wearied and faint in your minds.” We will start these lessons by looking at the things Christ voluntarly “lost” or gave up in order to save humanity.
Look up the following verses and identify something that Christ voluntarily surrendered for our sakes:
John 5:30. (Omnipotence.)
Luke 2:52. (Omniscience.)
Isaiah 53:2. (Divine glory.)
1 Timothy 1:17. (Immunity from death.)
James 1:13 and Hebrews 4:15. (Immunity from temptation.)
What do each of these sacrifices on Christ’s part mean to you, and how do they communicate God’s love toward humanity, and you personally? (Answers will vary.)
God is interested in our physical, as well as our spiritual, health. John began his third epistle by stating, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). The connection between our physical and spiritual health is a close one, and when praying for physical healing we should not forget to continue praying, as well, for any spiritual healing that may be needed.
Read Luke 5:17-19. What were the palsied man’s friends seeking Jesus for? (The physical healing of their friend.) How badly did they appear to want the Savior’s help? (Very badly, for they went to great lengths to set him before Jesus.) What lesson(s) can we learn from these devoted friends? (Sometimes it is up to us to help lead our friends to Jesus, whether the healing needed is physical or spiritual.)
Read Luke 5:20 and Matthew 9:2. What does Jesus first say to the sick man? (He forgives his sins.) Does this seem strange to you? (Jesus knew his deepest need: “Yet it was not physical restoration he desired so much as relief from the burden of sin” [DA 267].) When we suffer a loss of health, what should (still) be our greatest concern? (Our spiritual standing with God.)
Read Luke 24:24. Why did Jesus heal the sick man? (To bring glory and honor to God for His forgiveness of sins.) What, therefore, should be our motivation in asking for physical healing? (God’s glory should be our motivating factor.)
Read Luke 24:25,26. How does the formerly crippled man respond? (He glorifies God.) How do the on looking people respond? (They, too, glorify God.)
The loss of trust in an intimate relationship—such as the betrayal of a spouse—can be particularly devastating. Those that have suffered this kind of loss know how deep these wounds can be, and how long they can last. In Monday and Tuesday’s lesson this week we will look at the Bible’s counsel on how to move forward through these most difficult times.
Read Psalm 51:1. After his sin with Bathsheba, what does David ask God for? (David prays for forgiveness.)
Read Psalm 51:2,7. How would you characterize David’s confession? Is it shallow, seeking only to avoid consequences, or is he truly sorry for his sin? (He is truly sorry for his sin.) What does he ask for as a result of this deep confession? (David asks to be washed and cleansed of his sin.) What is David’s great hope? (That he can be “whiter than snow.”) Why is it so important to desire both forgiveness for, and cleansing from, sin? (Answers will vary.)
Read 2 Samuel 12:19-23. After his child dies as a penalty for his sin, how does David respond? (Although David prayed for the life of the child, when the baby died he accepted the consequences of his sin.) Why is it so important to accept the consequences of our sins, even after we have been forgiven? (Answers will vary.)
Read 1 Samuel 25:14-19. In this story, Abigail is married to a selfish and (probably) abusive man named Nabal. It is likely that the trust in their marriage had long since vanished. How does Abigail respond to the threat of David’s approaching army? (She prepares a gift of food and secretly goes to give it to David.) What is a lesson in this story for those who, like Abigail, are in a relationship where trust has been lost? (Sometimes the person who has been wronged, in this case Abigail, must make the first move in resolving the conflict.)
Read 1 Samuel 25:32,33. What does Abigail’s prompt action result in? (David changes his mind and decides not to attack Nabal’s household. Abigail saves her husband’s life.) Can lives, or relationships, be saved today by similar wise, and prompt, action? (Yes.)
Read 1 Samuel 25:36-38. What lesson can we learn from Nabal’s death? (Abigail did her duty to do what was within her power to safeguard her marriage and her family, and left the results to God.) This kind of trust can be difficult to exercise, especially at those times when trust has been lost. What lessons have you learned in your own life, from this kind of situation or other situations, that have helped you learn how to trust God more completely? (Answers will vary.)
Various kinds of addictions trap millions of people in our world today. All addictions, whether they be expressed in physical, sexual, emotional, or other ways, represent a loss of freedom for the person controlled by it. In this lesson we will look at a few biblical principles for understanding and overcoming addictions.
Read Galatians 5:1 and John 10:10. For what reason did Jesus come, and what does He promise to give those who follow Him? (Jesus came to give us freedom. This includes freedom from sin and freedom from the addictions that can so easily control us.)
Read James 4:7,8. What is the key to experiencing freedom in Christ? (Submission to God. Frequently we want the liberty and freedom that the gospel offers, without having to surrender our lives to God. It is foolish and dangerous to assume that we can resist the devil without having first surrendered to God.)
Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. This passage lists a wide range of things that can control people, including sexual, spiritual, social, and physical addictions. What is the great promise contained in this passage? (The church in Corinth was made up of people who had been controlled by these things, but they had been forgiven and transformed by Christ.) Why is it so important to believe that freedom and restoration from addictions is possible? (If we don’t believe that freedom is possible, we will not be able to trust in God’s promises or in His strength to overcome.)
Read Luke 11:24-26 and Romans 12:21. What important principle is brought out here in regards to overcoming addictions? (Evil, including addictions, cannot be overcome simply by focusing on not doing what is bad. Instead, God’s power to heal comes when by faith we claim His promises and then focus on what is good. Bad habits must be replaced with good habits, or we will fall back into the same addictive patterns.)
Read Philippians 4:8. What key is revealed in this passage that can help us live in freedom? (Focus on things that are true and good.) Practically speaking, what might this look like for someone struggling with chemical substance abuse? Pornography? Gambling? Gossip? (Answers will vary.)
The death of a loved one can be one of the darkest periods in a person’s life. Again, the Bible provides guidance and counsel about healthy ways to deal and cope with death.
Read John 20:9 and Mark 16:14. What warning should we take from the mistake the disciples made following Christ’s death? (The disciples allowed fear, grief, and unbelief to engulf them when Jesus died.) What had Jesus done prior to His death to try and prepare them for this trying ordeal? (He had told them numerous times that He would die and then rise again the third day.) Why do you think the disciples forgot Christ’s promises about His resurrection? Do we make the same mistake today? (Answers will vary.)
Read John 11:20-22. How did Martha respond to Jesus when her brother Lazarus died? (She expressed faith in His power and compassion.) Why is it so important to verbalize our faith in God, especially when suffering under extreme tests like the death of a loved one? (Answers will vary.)
Read John 11:32-35. What reassurance can we draw from Christ’s response to Mary. (Jesus was touched by her sorrow and cried too.)
Read John 11:11,25,26. What does Jesus want us to remember about His power over death? (Death is just a sleep, and God has power to raise up the righteous dead at the second coming.) Have you found this promise to be comforting in your life? (Answers will vary.)
Read 2 Samuel 1:17-27. How did David respond when Saul and Jonathan died? (David wrote a song to express his grief.) What are other positive outlets for grief that have helped you through times of loss? (Answers will vary.)
Perhaps no person in the Bible, other than Christ, suffered more from loss than did Job. We, of course, can read his complete story in the Bible and can understand the larger issues in the great controversy that were part of Job’s story. Job, however, didn’t know all of this. What he did know is that he suddenly lost all of his possessions, then his children, and finally his health, all within a short period of time.
Read Job 13:15. What did Job believe about God, at least for a time, during his trials? (It seemed to Job that God had turned against him.) What choice did Job make even believing that God had turned against him? (He chose to trust in God.)
Read Job 1:20-22 and 2:10. What did Job accept regarding God’s authority in his life that enabled him to remain faithful? (Job realized that all he had came from God, and he accepted God’s right to take those things away, or at least allow the devil to attack those things.) Is this an easy thing to do? (Not for most of us!) What do you think enabled Job to trust God in this way? (Answers will vary. See next question for a possible answer from the Bible.)
Read Job 1:1 and Hebrews 1:9. What was Job’s character like? (He loved God and eschewed, or avoided, evil.) According to Hebrews 1:9, what is God’s character like? (He loves righteousness and hates iniquity.) Would you say that Job’s character reflected God’s character? (It seems to be so.) How does this help explain why Job was able to accept both good and evil from God’s hand? (Job trusted in the character of God, and he loved and served Him because he had found God’s character to be good and trustworthy. Job’s service to God was not based on the blessings God gave, but on an appreciation of His character.)
Read Job 1:8-11. What accusation against God and Job did Satan make? (That it is impossible to serve God out of love, and that Job only served God because of the blessings.)
Read Job 1:12. How did God respond to Satan? (He allowed Satan to attack Job, and therefore gave Job an opportunity to show the universe that it is possible, even for a sinful human being, to serve God out of love.)
Read the following statement from the book The Desire of Ages: “In the last great conflict in the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers they will be forbidden to buy or sell” (DA 121,122). What courage can we take from Job’s story as we prepare to stand for God? (Like Job, God’s faithful people will one day be attacked by the devil and it may even appear to them that God has turned against them. However, we can take courage from Job’s story that even in this kind of trial, it is possible to remain faithful to God and trust in His goodness and love.)
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