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Lesson 2: The Choices We Make *

Introduction: Many years ago, a distant relative was having a serious conversation with me. I hardly knew him, but he was reviewing his life and sharing with me that he had made many bad choices. He wanted to know if I had the same experience. When I thought about it, I could not think of a single major decision that I regretted. He could not believe it. He was annoyed, and doubted my honesty. Friend, having no regrets about major life decisions is a life goal. While I am no longer as annoying as I used to be, I believe our lesson will help us to reach the goal of making right choices in life. Let's dive into our study of the Bible!

  1. Storm Choices


    1. Read Matthew 7:21-23. This is difficult to understand. Jesus first says those who "do the will of my Father" will enter heaven. It sounds like Jesus says we can work our way into salvation. But, when followers list the most remarkable set of works a Christian can do, Jesus calls them "evildoers" and says that He "never knew" them. How would you resolve this conflict?


      1. If doing the will of the Father is not prophesying, driving out demons, and performing many miracles, what is it? (My solution to this is to conclude that "doing the will of my Father" is reliance on God. Someone who relied on the Holy Spirit for those great deeds would not claim credit for them.)


    2. Read Matthew 7:24. What does the "therefore" mean? (Jesus says, "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine ..." What Jesus says next follows logically from what He just taught about who enters the kingdom of heaven.)


    3. Read Matthew 7:24-25. What does this "house" symbolize? (I think it symbolizes our life.)


      1. How do we have a strong house in life? (If we put all of these verses together as a single teaching, Jesus tells us that listening to the Bible, listening to the Holy Spirit, and then making choices consistent with that guidance gives us a "strong house.")


    4. Read Matthew 7:26-27. What happens to those who only listen to the words of God? (Their "house" collapses.)


    5. Are we talking about salvation? Is Jesus teaching us about salvation? (Let's look at the context.)


      1. Read Matthew 7:13-14. Is this teaching about salvation? (Yes, because it refers to "life" and "destruction" as opposite choices.)


      2. Read Matthew 7:15-19. Is this teaching about salvation? (Indirectly. It tells us that a "good" person can be recognized based on his "good" actions.)


      3. How would you summarize Jesus overall teaching in the verses we have studied? (Jesus doesn't know those who do great works on their own. However, He does know (and saves) those who listen to Him and who then act consistently with His words.)


        1. Is this salvation by works? (I don't think so. But, it is a check on whether you mean what you say. It is a check on whether you are honest when you accept what Jesus has done on your behalf.)


    6. Let's consider more context. Read Matthew 7:7-8. Is Jesus talking about salvation here? (This sounds like our life on earth.)


      1. Is Jesus suggesting a two-way conversation with us? (Previously we learned that we should listen to God and do what He says. This tells us that we can speak to God and He will respond with an open door.)


    7. Read Matthew 7:9-11. How confident can we be that Jesus will give us "good gifts?" (Would you give good gifts to your children? Of course! God loves us and wants the best for us.)


      1. Did you always give your children what they requested when they asked?


    8. Read Matthew 7:12. Jesus tells us that this guidance on our choices "sums up" the law. Why would you not want to obey the law? Why would this be "heavy lifting?" (The next two verses, Matthew 7:13-14, tell us that "few" are willing to live a life that reflects this basic principle.)


      1. Why do you think that is true?


  2. Friend Choices


    1. Read Proverbs 12:26 and Proverbs 22:24-25. Why do our friends make a difference in the quality of our life? (Have you found yourself using expressions that you hear from your friends? Everyone has an influence on those around them. Your friends change you.)


      1. If your friends change you, do you change your friends?


        1. If the answer is "yes," do you have a responsibility for the nature of your influence?


      2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:33. Should you choose bad friends in order to have a positive influence on them? (This tells us that just the reverse will happen. We will be corrupted.)


      3. Read Proverbs 22:11. Have you heard someone say that a certain church is "not friendly?" Or, someone report that they are having trouble finding friends? What does this verse suggest is the key to having friends, even friends in high places? (Having a "pure heart" and "gracious" speech.)


        1. What do you think it means, in the context of finding friends, to have a pure heart and gracious speech?


      4. Read Ephesians 5:28-32. How many times do you see married couples and one complains that they work more than their spouse? Or, complains that something else about their spouse is deficient?


        1. If your answer is "yes, I hear that," what is the problem in those marriages? (These couples do not understand that they are no longer two, but one. They still look at their marriage as if two rivals were in it.)


        2. How do you fix this? (The statement "he who loves his wife loves himself" is key to this. Loving your wife is the best thing for loving yourself. This helps to renew the "one flesh" idea.)


        3. Why does Ephesians 5:33 talk about a husband loving his wife, but a wife respecting her husband? Do we have different obligations? If so, why?


  3. Career Choices


    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-3. I hear young people who say that they should be able to "retire" when they are young, and work when they are older. Or, the goal is to retire as soon as possible. What does this text say about making retirement a priority? (It tells us that pleasure and laughter are not the ultimate goal in life. I think they are the "vacations" in life.)


    2. Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-9. What is Solomon's goal in all of this? (To become the greatest.)


    3. Read Ecclesiastes 2:11. Does this conclusion make sense to you? (Striving to become the greatest, is "chasing after the wind.")


    4. Read Ecclesiastes 2:21-22. Is this view consistent with the rest of the Bible? (No. The Bible teaches eternal life. It teaches that we should bless others. In all of the work that Solomon described, much of it was a blessing to others.)


    5. Read Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. Solomon seems to be talking through all of these issues, and this is his conclusion. Do you think it accords with the rest of the Bible? (Yes, we find satisfaction in work. We should enjoy eating and drinking. We should strive to please God. If we reject God, then we are faced with no future, and giving our "stuff" to those who survive us.)


    6. Friend, would you like a "strong house?" Would you like to live a life of no regrets for past decisions? Why not decide right now to live in accord with the teachings of the Bible, to strive to please God?


  4. Next week: Preparing For Change.
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2019 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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