Faithfulness in Adversity

Openers

1)      DISCUSSION: Ask if anybody has had any pop quizzes lately. Talk about your hatred for pop quizzes—unless you really do love them! Depending on which main point you will emphasize, ask one of the following questions:

a)      Why do teachers give pop quizzes or tests? (Tests & quizzes are supposed to show us what we’ve learned & see if we are ready to move on.) [Transition to points two or three.]

b)      How do you prepare for POP QUIZZES? (Obviously you can’t without always being prepared.) [Transition to point 1.]

2)      MOVIE CLIP: (It’s perfect for point 3, but could work for all.) Show the scene from Titanic of the massive ship hitting the iceberg. The huge and unsinkable ship received five iceberg warnings that night. When the sixth message came in the middle of night, “Look out for icebergs,” the operator on the Titanic wired back, “Shut up! I’m busy.” Thirty minutes later the ship was sinking. They forgot the truth about icebergs. It’s what’s below the surface that sinks the ship.

a)      Transition to how the tough times in life reveal who we really are. (point 3)

3)      DISCUSSION: When you look in the Bible, who are some people that stood strong in the face of adversity. (Be prepared to offer some examples: Joseph in the Old Testament, Moses, the Apostle Paul imprisoned, Jesus to name a few)

 

Main Points (Choose ONE)

1)      Succeeding in the tests of life requires us to prepare our hearts.

2)      If we’re going to be promoted in life, we must pass a few tests.

3)      The tests of life reveal our true character.

 

Foundations

1)      Succeeding in the tests of life requires us to prepare our hearts. (Read Deuteronomy 8:1-3)

a)      In this Case God was doing the “testing” he says, “in order to know what was in your heart.”

b)      Like a pop quiz, you can’t always predict the next test or crisis in your life. The nation of Israel didn’t have a warning. God told them after the fact this was a test.

c)      We must assume that we will be tested and take the attitude of how can we pass each test.

d)      Have a daily heart check:

i)        Who do you trust/blame when life tests you?

ii)      Ask God to reveal attitudes in your heart that would lead you to disobedience or damage your relationships to others.

iii)    Review the “small things” you do in school, at church, with Chi Alpha, on your job. What is your attitude?

 

2)      If we’re going to be promoted in life, we must pass a few tests. (2 Kings 4:1-7)

a)      With every step forward comes some internal preparation that reveals your readiness. Read the story from 2 Kings 4:1-7

i)        No doubt the widow in the story was going through a crisis.

ii)      The prophet Elisha gave her some crazy instructions.

iii)    Because of who she already was, she obeyed and received the reward. (In this case, her debts were taken care of.)

(1)   Interesting note: Sometimes with adversity we have to react or respond the right way without knowing the reward. Do the right thing.

b)      James 1:2-3 gives us the order of character building:

i)        The testing leads to perseverance

ii)      We don’t just produce perseverance, the tests develop it.

iii)    Want to be great? Tests will show us where we’re good and also where we need some work.

 

3)      The tests of life reveal our true character. (Luke 6:46-49)

a)      Foundations matter.

i)        Good foundations – They withstand the ‘storms’ of life

(1)   v. 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.

(a)    Hear God’s word

(b)   Live your life accordingly

ii)      Bad/No foundations – Are washed away with the storms.

(1)   v. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.

(a)    Ignored God’s Word

(b)   Chose not to live by them.

b)      Build your foundation

i)        The Iceberg Principle – What we see above the water is what we want people to see. It’s what’s below is our true self, our character, that can sink us or make us stronger. Our character determines how we do in the tough times.

ii)      Align your attitude and character to God’s word (Luke 6:47-48)

(1)   How? Jesus said to hear it, then live it.

 

Human Struggles

Each test we face is preparation for new ones that lie ahead. If you want to be great, if you want to do great things, then who you are will be tested greatly. Here are some of the tests that author Tim Elmore says you will experience in life:

1)      The Test of Small Things – How do you do when asked to do something ‘beneath’ your talents? When you succeed here, you will be ready for greater things.

2)      The Motive Check Why we do something will determine what we do.

3)      The Stewardship Test – How wise and generous are you handling the resources you have been given, not what you wish you had?

4)      The Wilderness Test – It’s as if you’re in the desert. Are you ready for change? This test proves we are able to perform even when it isn’t fun.

5)      The Credibility Check – It matters not only if we get the job done, but how we get it done. Do you make compromises of ethics under pressure?

6)      The Authority Check – What are your attitudes toward leadership even when you disagree? Before we can be good leaders, we must learn to be good followers.

7)      The Offense Test – How do you act when you’ve been offended? How quickly can you forgive others?

8)      The Warfare Test – In spite of setbacks, how willing are you to continue pursuing your vision/career/etc. while experiencing adversity and opposition?

9)      The Lordship Test – This test reveals who has the final authority in our lives. Do we? Or does God? When life gets tough, whose voice determines what we will do?

 

Application Helps

1)      From the lists of tests above, have you experienced any of these lately? How did you do?

a)      Pass or fail?

b)      Did you do better or worse than before in similar test?

i)        Why?

ii)      What can you do or how can you react better next time?

2)      From some of your ‘life tests’ lately, what do you think God has been trying to teach you?

3)      Discuss in your group some practical things you can do to prepare your character and heart before your next ‘life test.’

4)      In the midst of adversity, what are some proper perspectives and attitudes to have?

a)      Are there some scriptures you can memorize to help you? As it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

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