transformed by my choices


[PDF]transformed by my choices - Rackcdn.com8ef80b58c6ae6b008df1-036eaedec0108d35b1642758b831920a.r94.cf2.rackcdn.co...

0 downloads 161 Views 423KB Size

SESSION 6

TRANSFORMED BY MY CHOICES

What are some of the best choices you’ve made? QUESTION

#1

#BSFLtransformed BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

53

THE POINT

Choose to follow Jesus.

THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE If you’ve ever tried to add oil or transmission fluid to your car without a funnel, you know the value of this little utensil. Funnels have the unique ability to gather material from a wide space and condense them into a specific, narrow location. Life can be like a funnel at times, and not in a good way. Our culture offers a huge amount of choices and opportunities that seem to provide fulfillment. Yet when we follow that path, we quickly find ourselves squeezed into a narrow, unfulfilling existence. As we’ll see in Matthew 7, Jesus taught that the way to true fulfillment is like an upside-down funnel. If we begin on a narrow path—His path—we’ll soon discover a spacious life overflowing with joy, purpose, and peace.  ne path comes with many easy options, but it quickly closes on us. O The other path is narrow and well-defined, but it opens to a full and joyful life. The choice is ours.

54

SESSION 6

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? Matthew 7:13-27 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the

road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. 15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their

fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

That day (v. 22)—Refers to the day of judgment at the end of human history, also called “the Day of the Lord,” when God will intervene in our world to judge humanity. Lawbreakers (v. 23)—Those who have not experienced salvation through the forgiveness offered by Jesus will be judged according to God’s law.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the

kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ 24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

55

THE POINT

Choose to follow Jesus.

Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus used the word-picture of gates to describe the way we approach life and God. Research indicates that 45 percent of Americans believe there are many ways lead to God—that any gate will do.1 Yet the major religions of the world (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity) all teach something different, even contradictory, about the nature of God and the way to salvation. The law of contradiction clearly states that two opposing things cannot both be true. So, how can two opposing views of salvation both be correct and both lead to God? Jesus told us to “Enter through the narrow gate” (v. 13). Jesus Himself is that Gate, which He made clear in John’s Gospel: “I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:7-9). Just as importantly, Jesus isn’t one gate among many. He’s the only Gate: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The path that leads to God is narrow not because it’s difficult to become a Christian, but because you can get to Him only one way—through faith in Jesus. All other religious systems have at their core a works-based approach; meaning, you can only come to God by doing certain things. But the core of Christianity is the truth that Christ has done all the “doing.” Seeking this narrow gate—Jesus—is the most liberating choice we will ever make. The narrow gate opens wide to reveal a joyful and fulfilling life, but that gate won’t stay open forever. Elsewhere, Jesus said: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from’” (Luke 13:24-25). Each of us has a critical choice to make about our eternal future. And the time is now.

How have you experienced the truth of these verses?

QUESTION

56

SESSION 6

#2

THE NARROW GATE Which of the following images best illustrates your understanding of what it means to approach Jesus as the “narrow gate”? Use the space below the images to explain your selection.

Why do many in our culture find it difficult to believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation?

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

57

THE POINT

Choose to follow Jesus.

What is our role in producing fruit as we are transformed by God’s Spirit?

QUESTION

#3

Matthew 7:15-23 Warning His hearers about false prophets, Jesus said: “You’ll recognize them by their fruit” (v. 16). This “fruit” refers to a person’s actions and attitudes. It can either be good or bad. To bear good fruit can mean leading people to Jesus (see John 4:36), serving them in Jesus’ name (see Matt. 7:16-20), developing the character of Jesus internally (see Gal. 5:22-23), and more. We cannot experience salvation without being transformed—without becoming the kind of person who grows good fruit. So, how do we know … if a Bible teacher is the right one to sit under? if a certain person is the right person for marriage? if a person is the right partner for a business venture? The answer is simple: become a fruit inspector. We saw in the previous session that Jesus spoke against judging others in a condemning way. Even so, we need to make evaluations about people at times. And we’re wise to do so based on the fruit in their lives. It’s important that we take the right actions as followers of Christ: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (v. 21). But bearing fruit—real fruit for Christ and His kingdom—is impossible on our own. We need God’s help, as Jesus said later in His ministry: “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me” (John 15:4). The point is clear: Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We can’t produce a single act to bring about our salvation, nor can our lives produce one piece of good fruit in our own strength. Therefore, let’s position ourselves in Christ and bear His salvation and His fruit.

58

SESSION 6

Matthew 7:24-27 What are some difficult choices you are facing right now?

What is it about the beach that makes everyone an architect? It’s the sand. Building sand castles takes minimal effort and can quickly bring a sense of accomplishment. The problem with these sand structures is they quickly disappear with the next high tide. We’re good at building sand castles with our lives:

QUESTION

#4

Y our career is doing well, but you’ll need to cut a few corners if you’re going to achieve your goals. Y our child is a natural athlete, but if she’s going to get that scholarship, she’ll need to play travel games on Sunday rather than going to worship. Y our marriage isn’t going the way you hoped, but your computer offers an escape.

How can we help one another continue to build on the right foundation?

QUESTION

#5

Decisions such as these are like building a house that overlooks one important detail: a solid foundation. The American dream eventually turns into a nightmare. Even if life seems wonderful today, the rains will come and the winds will blow. Storms are as certain as the sunrise. And when sand castles and storm clouds collide, our houses—our lives—will crumble. Building on sand is easy. Building a life on the solid rock of Jesus and His teachings often calls for hard choices—but it’s worth it. Every time. When you’ve tasted the goodness of God (see Ps. 34:8), you’ll want to leave the beach and dig deep into the rock.

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

59

THE POINT

Choose to follow Jesus.

LIVE IT OUT How will your life reflect Jesus’ words in the days to come? Consider the following suggestions:  nter the narrow gate. If you haven’t experienced the E salvation offered by Jesus Christ, now is the time. Speak with your pastor or a fellow group member about what it means to choose the narrow path that opens up to a full and abundant life. (Note: See the inside cover of this study guide for more information about what it means to follow Christ.)  ove toward community. Take a step to become more M involved in your church community. This could include taking on a leadership role, volunteering for a new ministry, becoming more engaged in your group, and so on.  pread the Word. Sharing the message of the gospel S is an important part of following Jesus. This week, make a commitment to speak with at least one person about what God has done in your life. If you’re not careful, this world will funnel your days into a crass and cramped version of the American Dream. Don’t let it happen. Choose the narrow gate offered by Jesus, and find life.

1. http://www.lifewayresearch.com/2014/10/28/americans-believe-in-heaven-hell-and-a-little-bit-of-heresy/.

60

SESSION 6