Saturday, November 14, 2009

Touching Base! Part 61

Letters To The Next Generation -
Overcoming the “rust”!

On Oct 18th, we started a series entitled, “Letters to the Next Generation”. The series is based on the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses is reminding the next generation of the laws of God and challenging them to write a better story than the first generation. While God did many great things through that first generation (namely the big exodus from Egypt), they were predominantly remembered for wandering in the wilderness (in the Plains of Moab) for four decades. Imagine that, for forty years, they wandered and probably many wondered about all that went wrong. God called them to possess the Promised Land but instead they ended up falling short and in the wilderness, the Plains of Moab, for forty years. I want to encourage you to use this Touching Base in your small groups, and in your mentoring relationships to discuss what we talked about on Sunday. The following is a guide to help you go deeper based on Sunday’s (Nov8) message.

Big Idea: It’s after you have been most faithful that you may need to be the most careful.
Text: Deut 8:1-18 (There are many texts that deal with this similar theme in Deuteronomy.)

On week four of this series, we specifically talked about two issues (success and pride) that can trip us up in our walk with God. In Deuteronomy 4:25 Moses makes an interesting point. He says that it’s when you have been most faithful (in the land for a long time) that you may need to be most careful. It’s after you have some victories under your belt, after you have accomplished much, where you may feel like you are on top of the world - that’s when the “rust” can settle in.

In general, can you think of any examples of people who started off well but did not finish well? What was it that tripped them up in your opinion? Any personal examples?

On Sunday, we defined rust as any growth, habit, influence, or agency tending to injure, deteriorate, or impair the mind, character, abilities, usefulness, etc. Let’s examine the issues that can cause rust in our walk with God.

Cause #1: Success

Deut 8:1-18- What verse(s) indicate that success is a gift from God? What verses indicate the kind of success Moses is talking about?
The interesting thing about success is that Moses sees another side to it. Do you see the other side? Look at v.10 and v.11, v.13 and v.14, and v.16 and v.17. What is Moses warning them about? Finish this sentence,” The gift of success can become....”
On Sunday, we looked at how all the success that God would grant the second generation would bring a degree of satisfaction. The danger is that it can stifle our hunger and focus on God. Success can cause us to forget God, let Him slip from our view.
Discuss how this can happen?
How can you tell if success has become a trap?

Personal questions as you reflect on successes impact on your life.
Have I lost the vision that I once had?
Have I veered off the path I once was on?
Have I fallen prey to what I said I would never do, never become?

Cause #2: Pride
Deut 8:14 - Success is one cause of pride. Note the connection in the text. Obviously there are many other causes of pride. How can failure cause pride?
Note, the word as a verb means “to exalt, lift up on high”. We can either exalt God (Psalm18:47) or ourselves. On Sunday I said that when we become proud we can become weird. I illustrated this in three relationships. Discuss/reflect on this.

In our relationship with God
“It (pride) is the complete “anti-God” state of mind” (C.S. Lewis). Moses says that pride could lead to Israel forgetting God! What does pride do to a person’s relationship with God?

In our relationship with self
Deut 8:17 is an astounding verse on where pride can lead. How is this a distorted view of self?

In our relationship with others
Certainly Israel is a sad example of how pride distorts our relationship with others in community. What is it about proud people that make them difficult to work with, or even be with?
Discuss the following signs of pride. What signs can you identify with?

1. Insecurity.
2. The need to be right.
3. Being argumentative.
4. More invested in being heard than in hearing.
5. Anger.
6. Irritability and impatience.
7. Lack of submissive attitude.
8. Not easily corrected.
9. Receiving correction but not changing.
10. Needing others to take your advice.
11. Needing to proclaim your title or degrees.
12. Being stubborn.
13. Comparisons and competition.

To sum up the dialogue from your meeting/or personal reflection, how would you sum up the nugget that you would want to pass on to the next generation?


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