God’s Answer for Your Fear

We know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love …. because God’s perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:16, 18 NCV).

I’ve talked to thousands of people about why they don’t fully trust God. Usually it’s one of three things: People are afraid that if they give their lives fully to God, they’ll lose their freedom, they’ll lose their fun, and God will turn them into some kind of religious fanatic.

None of that sounds inviting.

The bottom line is, people are afraid. Yet God has an answer for our fear of trusting him. The Bible says, “We know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love …. because God’s perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:16, 18 NCV).

God loves you. You were created as an act of God’s love. Over and over in the Bible, God makes this clear. God thought you up and created you to love you and to let you love him. The greatest expression of God’s love is Jesus. God came to Earth in the form of a human being to show us what he is really like. He then showed us how much he loved us by dying on the cross.

The cross tells us once and for all that we can fully trust God. We can trust him with our lives because he gave his Son’s life for us.

If God is telling the truth in his Word that he loves you, you know he won’t take away your freedom or your fun or turn you into a fanatic.

God isn’t a cosmic killjoy. He’s your heavenly Father.

The more you know God, the more you trust him — and the less you’re afraid of him.

Talk About It
What scares you the most about fully trusting God?
How have you seen fear get in the way of someone else’s faith in God?
Why do you think understanding the love of God helps you trust him more?

You Can Know Truth By Looking at God

I“[God] shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time” (Proverbs 2:9 TLB).

Like I mentioned yesterday, three philosophies — individualism, secularism, and relativism — have devastated our society’s moral thermometer over the past few decades. The consequences have been dramatic on society in general and on each of us individually. So what do we do about it? You have to start with God. He embodies truth. What is right and wrong gets its meaning in the character of God himself. Dishonesty is wrong because God is honest. Unfaithfulness is wrong because God is faithful. You can know truth by looking at how God interacts with us. The Bible says, “[God] shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time” (Proverbs 2:9 TLB). We can know the character of God through his Word. The Bible tells us what’s true, whether or not we like what it says. Once we encounter truth, God’s truth, we’ll recognize two key features of it every time we see it.
It’s universal. It applies to everyone. If it doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s not truth. It’s an opinion.
It’s unchanging. It won’t be moved by fads or fashions. Adultery was wrong 2,000 years ago, it’s wrong today, and it will be wrong 4,000 years from today.
The choice is yours. A few years back Newsweek summarized this question on the cover of their magazine. They asked, “Whose justice? Whose morality? Whose community? Whose family? Whose values?” That’s your choice each and every day. Our world today gives us three options for how to discover truth: We can choose to base our morality on what we think, on what other people think, or on what God thinks. We really have no other options. Our choice will dictate how we live, how we love, and, someday, how we die. But it’s our choice. What will you choose?

Talk It Over
How has our culture tried to convince us that truth changes?
Why do you have to make the choice every day to base your morals on God’s truth?
What do you need to do to better understand God’s character through his Word, the Bible?

God Designed Us for More Than This Earth

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV).

God created us to live in heaven with him for eternity. Heaven is our home, not Earth. That’s why we sometimes experience discontentment and dissatisfaction in life. We’re not completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be! Otherwise, we might think we can live without God. He created us to long for something much better — a home is heaven with him. A fish would never be happy living on land, because it was made for water. An eagle could never feel satisfied if it wasn’t allowed to fly. You will never feel completely satisfied on Earth, because you were made for more. You will have happy moments here, but nothing compared with what God has planned for you. This is also why some of God’s promises seem unfulfilled, some prayers seem unanswered, and some circumstances seem unfair. But this is not the end of the story. Realizing that life on Earth is just temporary should radically alter your values. Eternal values, not temporal ones, should be the deciding factor for your decisions. As C. S. Lewis observed, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” The Bible tells us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

Talk About It:

What are the things that will last in your life?
How does an eternal perspective change everyday aspects of life like goals and plans, schedules, and relationships?

God Blesses Those Who Are Put Down Because of Him

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT).

Taking a stand for God won’t just impact you and those you care about in this life. It’ll have an eternal impact. When you’re afraid to speak up for God in your everyday life, that’s natural and normal. But it’s also temporary. That fear will just stay with you for a few moments. The benefits to courageously speaking out for God will stay with you for trillions and trillions and trillions of years. Jesus says this in the Sermon on the Mount: “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT). Notice that these verses don’t say you’re blessed if people put you down because you’re being obnoxious. I hear many people who complain about being persecuted for being a Christian when actually they’re put down because they’re just not being nice to others. You get no credit for that. But if you’re persecuted for humbly speaking up for truth, Jesus says you can be happy. Why? God will reward you in heaven. When you get to heaven, I want you to have a lot of rewards. I want you to be rewarded because you had the courage to stand up at work and say, “I am a believer in Christ. I know not everybody agrees with this, but he’s changed my life and I’m so grateful. I don’t serve him out of duty; I serve him out of love. I’m just so grateful. My past has been forgiven, I have a purpose for living, I have a home in heaven.” When you get condemned, persecuted, and teased for doing that, Jesus says you’re in good company. People have done that to God’s witnesses and prophets for ages and ages. It’s part of the deal. Darkness can’t stand the light. Evil can’t stand goodness. But when that happens, Jesus says, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll be rewarded for your courage in heaven.

Talk About It:

How does it help you handle persecution knowing that God will reward you in eternity for your faithfulness?
How does the faithful witness of believers through the ages help you stand strong amid harassment by others for your faith?
What’s one way God is calling you to demonstrate courage and speak out for him despite inevitable criticism?

Summary Of Hosea

The book of Hosea is a Narrative History and Prophetic Oracle. Hosea is the first book in the sections of Minor Prophets. They are called Minor Prophets not because their material is less important or insignificant, but because of the size of the book they wrote was shorter in length. The prophet Hosea wrote it at approximately 715 B.C. It records the events from 753-715 B.C. including the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722. The key personalities are Hosea, Gomer, and their children.

Its purpose was to illustrate the spiritual adultery of Israel and God’s boundless love for His sinful people. Hosea brings God’s message to the wicked Northern Kingdom.

During this time, they are active in oppressing the poor in slavery and worshipping idols. God, because of His grace, sent another opportunity for Israel to repent and turn to Him. Shortly thereafter, the Northern Kingdom went into permanent captivity.

•    In chapters 1-3, God gives Hosea instructions to marry an unfaithful woman and he obeys. His unfaithful wife Gomer leaves him and finds another man. Hosea is faithful; he finds her, redeems her and brings her back home to him. “Then I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you” (3:3).

•    Chapters 4-14 Hosea describes how Israel has been unfaithful to God. God wants Israel to repent and turn from their wickedness. He wants to restore Israel however, they continue to disobey and follow their own ways, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6).

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