From the Well - August 3, 2015

For most Americans, life is about choice. During your senior year in high school you make choices about the trajectory of your life. Will it be college or work? Where you live and what you do with your life have a great deal to do with the choices you make. I’ve known people who have looked back on their lives and wished they had taken their choices a little more seriously.

When we make choices—to some degree—we are deciding what will control our lives. This is why we must be careful in our choices. There are some things that are hard to let go off once we have relinquished control. Ask an alcoholic or drug addict.

It’s like the hunter who observed an eagle alighting on an ice-crusted limb floating in a river that was rushing towards a waterfall. At any moment, the eagle could have turned loose of the icy perch and soared into the blue sky. But it did not turn loose. It remained too long, so that the eagle’s talons froze onto the limb. At a certain point it could not let go. At first the eagle had the limb, but now the limb had the eagle. The eagle’s choice led to its death.

Joshua reminds the people that they need to choose their god carefully. You just may be stuck to the god you choose for the rest of your life.

Questions for the Week

Consider journaling your responses to these questions:

What god’s do you need to give up in your life so that you can more perfectly follow the God of Scripture?

What did God call his people to do as they got ready to enter the Promised Land (Joshua 1:1-11 in The Story, p. 89-90)?

The first time spies were sent into the land, twelve of them went. Only two gave a good report; the other ten were so negative that they convinced the people of Israel the rewards weren’t worth the risk. Four decades later, Joshua sent a team of two into the land. What does this say about how we make decisions in the church? Are will willing to move forward with courage even when there is a group that objects or wants everything to remain the same? What do we do when there are those who would just as soon return to Egypt?

Just like the people of Israel, we are fearful of challenges and don’t want to deal with them. What challenge in your life have you put on the back burner? I now that time to deal with it?

How does consistent and faith-filled reading of the Bible (God’s Story) help you remain strong and courageous as struggle to make good choices?

What are your personal habits and commitments when it comes to Bible study? What do you need to do so you can continue to grow in your love of God’s Word?

Joshua read the words of God’s story to all the people: children, teens, and adults. What are ways we can help the children and young people in our lives grow in their knowledge of and love for the Bible? How can this be done in our homes and churches?

How can you be in constant conversation with God so that you don’t head off in the wrong direction (bad choices)? Why do you think it is important to pray, listen to God, and follow God’s leading when making decisions? What are some of the consequences when you forget to listen to God?

More and more we live in a world that flows against the heart of God. As Christians, we identify ourselves as such by how we live. What are some actions and attitudes that show the world that you are a Jesus follower?

Prayer Time

As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:

·         Pray for a renewed and deeper love for God’s Word and a commitment to read a study daily.

·         Ask God to help you communicate with Him.

·         Pray that God will help you make good choices.

·         Ask God to help you navigate the challenging landscape of the 21st century.

Between Sessions

Personal Reflection:

·         Ask yourself how you can go deeper in the Word and follow it with greater passion in your life?

·         What steps can you take to make more space for conversation with God in your daily life, especially when you are facing difficult choices?

·         When people look at you, can they discern that you are a follower of Jesus? What can you do to live and think in ways that will identify you more closely with Jesus?

Personal Action

During this week’s study, God may give you new direction. He may also provide some choices for you to make concerning your discipleship (Bible study, prayer life, worship, and service). Pray that God will give you the strength to make new a different choices in your life. Pray that He will give you the strength to live a life that is reflective of his presence and grace. 

Read for Next Session

Read Chapter 8 in The Story

Matthew