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A Trustworthy Life

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this Bible Study series we are continuing to look at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons run monthly  and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.

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Looking Inward

  • By Ruth Wood

    The wonderful thing about God’s unchanging nature means, for one thing, that He is consistent in his character. This stability results in perfect self-control and self-discipline—He is not fickle in His decisions or interactions with us. He does not give out on His commitments because of difficult circumstances or because the suffering “is too hard.” He does not struggle to follow through on His goals like we humans. He is not prone to falling into addictions or bad habits, for He cannot be tempted by evil. God always does the right thing the FIRST time and ALL the time. He does not need to change how He does things because He is perfect. Therefore, we see in scripture that:

  • God’s thoughts are trustworthy. Psalm 33:11 says, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” God is never confused, never disoriented, never deceived, and never capricious in His thinking.
  • God’s words are trustworthy. We can count on God to keep His word, for He commits to His promises and fulfills them. II Peter 3:9 says He does so in a timely manner, for “He is not slow in keeping his promises.” When you find yourself impatient with God’s timetable, doubting that his schedule is more accurate than yours, consider: God has access to ALL the relevant data. You and I do not. Perfect decisions can only be made in the context of perfect wisdom and knowledge, and God is perfect. You and I are not. This leaves us with a sobering question. Will we trust Him?
  • God’s actions are trustworthy. God is dependable in carrying out His responsibilities. For example, He keeps the stars and planets on course; He regulates the earth’s climate, her seasons, her ecosystems; He watches over our “coming and going” (Psalm 121:8); He secured our salvation through the completion of Jesus’ mission on earth.
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<h3><strong>Diving In</strong></h3>

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Diving In

In this lesson we will examine our lives in light of God’s reliable and consistent character. Our goal is not rigidity but to pursue change in order to “become like Him” (I John 3:2).

In Thoughts

1. James 1:6b-8 says, “. . . the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” The opposite of doubt is certainty, confidence, conviction, assurance. How does someone with an ingrained habit of doubt, skepticism, and suspicion transform into a person of confident faith?

2. A habit of worry also produces instability. Learning to trust God brings calm. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How does “giving thanks” combat worry? Imagine getting up tomorrow morning and going through the whole day without worrying. What would be different?

3. Pick a current concern and compile a list of things you are thankful for despite the problem.

4. Do you ever wonder where your blind spots are? Usually they are located in our thinking patterns where Satan’s subtle lies entrench themselves. Here’s a fun challenge. Print out and rate yourself on the ten most common thinking errors here: http://www.comfort-cafe.net/?p=8094

5. After rating yourself, write down the three you identify with most and how they cause you to stumble into sin. For example, let’s look at jumping to conclusions or mind reading, something most women are guilty of when it comes to their husbands! Making assumptions about what others are thinking may come out of a need for control rather than trusting God. Or, it may come from a place of arrogance (I KNOW I am right). Instead of mindreading, we need a teachable and humble heart willing to ask, rather than to assume. Okay, now your turn:

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(From Cognitive Behaviorists Aron Beck, theorist, and David Burns who popularized the concepts in The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: Plume, 1999. Print.)

It is a godly response to want to correct our errors. To learn some practical ways to combat ungodly thinking distortions, see: http://psychcentral.com/lib/fixing-cognitive-distortions/0002154

In Speech

6. Am I reliable in my speech? Do I keep my promises? Can others count on me? If I commit to volunteering at the school fundraiser, will I be there? If others were to rate me (100%=perfectly reliability), how would I score?

With my employer and co-workers? ________%

With my friends? ________%

With my extended family? ________%

With my parents? ________%

With my children? ________%

With my spouse? ________%

7. Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Also, consider subtle forms of lying such as exaggeration or convenient “words of omission” that mislead others. The reasons people lie are many—we may want to avoid shame, embarrassment or conflict; we may want to enhance our image; or we may lie to get what we want. Prayerfully reflect on the truthfulness of your words, and identify when dishonesty is most tempting for you.

8. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” We might never consider telling an out-and-out falsehood. However, might we have trouble recognizing when we speak falsehoods to cover for emotional dishonesty? For example, imagine that a friend said something that hurt you, and she notices that you are acting withdrawn, refusing to make eye contact. If she asked you what was wrong, would you tell her the truth? Or might you be so concerned about protecting her feelings that you would more likely give a false explanation for your behavior?

9. Another way of being dishonest in speech is through subtle or outright flattery. In Proverbs 28:23 we read, “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.” In what kinds of situations have you seen this to be true? Have you ever told someone a difficult truth? How did they respond?

In Actions

10. Colossians 3:17 says that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” How dependable are you?

  • In arriving to appointments on time or calling ahead when you’ll be late?
  • In finishing what you’ve started?
  • In being able to say no so that you can live within the limits of your energy and follow through on commitments?

11. Reflect on how learning to become reliable in thoughts, speech, and actions relate to loving God and others.

JOURNAL. Here you may wish to record new insights, praise, thanksgiving, or goals for change.

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