Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Matthew 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Every choice in life can yield eternal consequences, some vastly significant, some of lesser importance. No clearer demonstration exists than the many decisions surrounding Christ’s crucifixion. The Jews had unjustly delivered Jesus to the governor. As a gesture to the people at the Roman feast, Pilate frequently released to them a prisoner. In this instance, he gave the Jews a choice between two prisoners—a vile man or the innocent Son of God. Barabbas was justly imprisoned as a robber (John 18:40) and murderer (Mark 15:7). This simple decision turned quite complex for the Jews. The people rejected the sinless Son of God and chose to release a guilty man. With evil hearts and wicked intentions, they cried out for the release of Barabbas. Making matters worse, they demanded that Jesus be crucified though He had done nothing worthy of death. The people became pawns of Satan though they were unaware that Jesus was born to die. He was brought to this point to bear the very sin they just committed, along with the sins of the whole world.
- (For children): What is likely to happen when mom or dad ask you to pick up your toys and get ready for bed and you choose to keep on playing? How does the Lord feel about this kind of a decision?
- (For everyone): It is important to be a decision maker, but equally important to make the right decisions. What were the wrong decisions made by those in our passage?
- In this passage, the decisions made by the people showed that they rejected Jesus. Are there times when your decisions reflect the same type of behaviour? What can you do to avoid making these decisions?
- Ask the Lord to help you avoid making evil decisions. Ask Him to help you understand the consequences of these choices.
- Pray that the Lord will show you how your evil decisions have an affect on you, others around you, and God too.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Decision making is an important element of everyday life. The Bible has many clear guidelines in this area. Every Christian must learn how to make decisions and then trust God with the results. Some decisions involve life changing outcomes, yet every decision must be based on biblically sound principles. The book of James, when referring to prayer, warns the reader of the dangers of indecisive and faithless living. This particular prayer pertains to wisdom, but the principle involves a broader application. A man who struggles with indecisiveness is said to be “double minded” reflecting instability in all his ways (James 1:8). A few chapters later the Bible instructs the “double minded” believer to purify his heart (James 4:8). Believers must learn to make decisions with God’s help and stick with those decisions until the Lord directs otherwise.
- (For children): Imagine a stormy sea with a ship trying to remain afloat. What happens to the passengers and the ship’s contents when the waves get really rough? The Bible likens us to that ship when we fail to heed God’s instructions.
- (For everyone): How many decisions do you make on a daily basis? How important is it to make spiritually sound decisions? How many wrong decisions does it take to get you into trouble? Would it be better to never make a decision for fear of making the wrong one?
- People sometimes think they would rather avoid making any decision, but making no decision is a decision in itself. Do you find yourself erring in either direction? Are you quick to decide or do you waver with each new decision?
- Ask the Lord for help in making the right decisions, and then stick by those decisions trusting God’s help.
- Pray that God will give you wisdom and show you when you are becoming unstable in your decision making.
SONG: On Christ the Solid Rock
Week 7 Overview (Issue 007)
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Sunday, February 9, 2014—Church Day (no devotional)
Monday, February 10, 2014—Double Mind Double Heart
Tuesday, February 11, 2014—Evil Choices
Wednesday, February 12, 2014—Church Night (no devotional)
Thursday, February 13, 2014—The Foundation for Wise Choices
Friday, February 14, 2014—Difficult Decisions
Saturday, February 15, 2014—The Benefit of Wise Decisions
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The Devil loves to hinder the spiritual blessings that believers possess in Christ. His most effective means is by destroying the believer’s faith in God’s word and keeping the saint from laying up rewards in heaven. By destroying a believer’s courage, the Devil wins the battle. James 4:7-8 sketches a simple yet effective plan for victory in such times of attack. The believer must first submit to God and His word by submitting his will to the will of God. Next, the saint of God must resist the Devil. When the believer submits to God and resists the Devil, the Devil flees rather than sticking around to watch defeat. When the Devil returns later with renewed attempts to discourage, the believer need only repeat the same scriptural strategy.
- (For children): The Devil is our enemy. He lies to us and wants to create fear in our hearts. We must pray and do what God tells us to do. Remember the Bible stories in which God helped others—the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho, David and Goliath, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, etc.
- (For everyone): Do you feel like the Devil all too often keeps you from doing what you ought to do? Why do you think you fail? Is it your submission to God or your failure to resist the Devil? You must do both, but submitting to God comes first.
- Have you surrendered to do the Lord’s will in your life no matter the cost? If not, the Devil will continue to discourage you. Take courage now and trust God!
- Ask God to help you surrender to His known will for your life.
- Ask God to show you areas of your life in which you do not trust Him. Ask Him to give you victory in those areas.
Deuteronomy 1:19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
As Moses recounted Israel’s time in the wilderness, he reminded God’s people of the reasons for their failure to enter into the land of promise. He rehearsed how it was the people who approached him requesting that spies first be sent into the land to explore it. If the people had trusted God, surveying the land would have been unnecessary. Yet, the people doubted God’s provisions so Moses sent in the spies. When they returned, they expressed stories of giants and walled cities that made the people fear to carry out God’s will. The spies’ report “discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:28) the hearts of the people. This loss of courage yielded an unbelief in the people (Deuteronomy 1:32), greatly displeasing the Lord (Hebrews 3:17-19).
- (For children): God created the world and everything in it by simply speaking it into existence. Do you believe that He is powerful enough to help you do what He wants you to do?
- (For everyone): Do you struggle with being courageous? Do you wish you could better understand the reason for this weakness? Start by evaluating your faith in God’s word.
- Our passage shows that if Israel had trusted God, they would not have needed spies. Are there some things that you can recall that would be different in your life if you had simply trusted God? Has your lack of faith ever produced a lack of courage?
- Ask God to help you avoid the evil sin of unbelief.
- Ask God to surround you with people who believe and trust in His word. Pray that God will give you strength to believe even when others choose not to believe.
2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Fear and discouragement are effective weapons in Satan’s arsenal which he uses to discourage the people of God from fulfilling the will of God for their lives. Fear is not all bad. The fear of God is good and holy, but the fear of the world withstands faith and brings the believer into bondage (Proverbs 29:25). Fear and faith are foes as are fear and courage. In 2 Timothy 1:6-8, the Bible points out that the Lord is not the instigator of fear in the life of the believer. In the place of fear, God gives men power, love, and a sound mind. God wants men to be courageous and full of faith. Yet, the fear of man exhibits a lack of courage. It frequently hinders believers from doing the Lord’s work and gives the impression that believers are ashamed of the Lord and His people.
- (For children): Memorize Isaiah 41:10a, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee.” When God wants you to give someone a tract, invite him to attend church, or tell him what Jesus did for him, try to remember this promise from God.
- (For everyone): Do fears overcome you when trying to serve God? Do you fear telling others that you are a Christian? Who tries to keep you from doing these things for the Lord?
- Think for a moment: have you ever noticed how talking about the weather, sports, or work seems easier than talking about spiritual matters? Do you become scared when God impresses upon your heart to talk to someone about the Lord? Which of these subjects is most likely to help others? How do you think those other subjects can help you to talk to others about the Lord?
- What are some of your fears in serving the Lord? Ask Him to help you overcome those fears and take courage in doing His work.
- Ask the Lord to direct your path toward someone in need of hearing the gospel this week. Ask Him to give you the words to say. Pray that this person will have the courage to trust Christ as his or her Saviour.
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
Deuteronomy 3:21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest.
22 Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.
23 And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
24 O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?
25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
29 So we abode in the valley over against Bethpeor.
In Deuteronomy, Moses rehearsed the events that led up to God’s denying him entry into the promised land though he was Israel’s leader at the time. The Lord instructed Moses, as he stood upon Mt. Pisgah, to encourage and strengthen Joshua. Moses could have offered numerous excuses for not wanting to encourage Joshua. Instead, Moses determined to obey God by strengthening and encouraging his successor. He knew that Joshua as Moses’ replacement was about to face some of the greatest trials of his life. There would be times of fear along with battles and obstacles, small and great. The Lord knew Joshua desperately needed courage to make it through these trials. He, therefore, enlisted Moses and instructed His children to encourage the new leader during this difficult transition (Deuteronomy 1:38).
- (For children): Has someone you know been hurt or fallen sick? What could you do to help make them feel better (pray, send a card or visit)?
- (For everyone): Joshua needed encouragement because he was going to face some difficult times. Can you think of anyone who might be going through some difficult circumstances? What have you done to encourage them? Have you spoken encouraging words to them?
- The Lord expected Moses and the people to encourage Joshua. Moses could have responded, “I can’t because I’m about to die.” The people could have said, “We can’t because we too are afraid.” Yet, God expected obedience. Do you ever make excuses for not encouraging others? Do your excuses satisfy the Lord’s expectations of you?
- Ask God to help you see others who need encouragement.
- Ask the Lord to show you when your actions or words begin to discourage others.
1 Samuel 30:1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
God’s people have a solemn responsibility to encourage one another. Helping to build another’s godly courage remains one of the most effective ways to influence others. Unfortunately, far too many times, close acquaintances fail to encourage (and all too often discourage) one another. In these times, it is especially important that the individual learns to encourage himself in the Lord. In our passage, David returned to Ziklag only to find it burned with fire. The welfare of the women and children seemed hopeless as the Amalekites had taken them all captive. No doubt it was one of David’s most challenging times. David and his men were greatly distressed and in need of courage. Unfortunately, the men closest to David turned against him rather than supporting their leader during the most trying time. David’s only hope was to encourage “himself in the LORD his God.” Believers today need to follow David’s example. We cannot always depend upon others to receive courage, but we can always depend upon the Lord.
- (For Children): During times when you feel afraid or alone, remember God says He will always be with us and He loves us with an everlasting love. Will you sing “Jesus Loves Me” out loud to encourage yourself right now?
- (For Everyone): Are there times when you are discouraged? Are there times when there is nobody around offering words of encouragement? How do you react during those times? Who should you blame for remaining in a discouraged state of mind?
- How did David encourage himself? What are some ways that you could encourage yourself?
- Ask God to help you find ways to encourage yourself. Ask Him to teach you how to avoid the things that will bring heartache and discouragement so that you can learn to avoid them.
- Ask God to show you when your courage is growing weaker and help to make you a true encourager.