Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE PROVING GROUND

This week my small group curriculum focuses on the importance of perseverance.

Big Idea:
Testing is a part of life and trials are inevitable. In fact, God uses trials in order to strengthen us, mature us, perfect our faith, and prepare us for His holy purposes.

Summary:
This life is a proving ground of sorts; a place where our faith is tested on a daily basis. How we respond to the trials and temptations of life will either strengthen our faith or destroy it. As Christians, we must realize that trials are still inevitable and actually necessary for us in order to develop perseverance. Perseverance is the act of bearing-up under trials and living for God every day, even when it is hard. Perseverance must finish its work so that we may be perfected and our faith may be proven genuine. This process is similar to the tempering of steel: the heat, rather than destroying the steel, actually makes it stronger and more useful.

The military demonstrates this principle as they take a new recruit and build them into a soldier. They put the recruit through a series of very difficult tests: physical, emotion, mental, and relational. If the recruit perseveres, rather than “washes out”, they are fashioned into a lean, mean, fighting machine. They become “one of the few” because they have completed the training now stronger and tougher - proven for the field of battle.

Trials are the essential means God uses to develop Christian character. And, perseverance through trials gives evidence of true saving faith. How does going through tough times strengthen and prove our faith? It requires us to trust in God. It requires sincere dependence on God that is made evident in self-control and godly action. What is the result? God uses those who stand, even when times are tough, and He promotes those who persevere.

Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss – use different translations)

James 1:2-4 & James 1:12
How does James say we should respond to the trials and temptations of life? Why is perseverance so important? What is the ultimate reward for those who persevere?

Hebrews 12:1-11
How does the writer of Hebrews say we should persevere (v.1-2)? Discuss how Christ’s perseverance should motivate us. Why does God discipline us and allow us to encounter trials? Share personal experiences of perseverance or discipline that resulted in maturity and growth.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
What does Paul say our current struggles and trials are actually achieving for us? How does the temporal aspect of this life help us endure tough times?

Taking Action:
Recognize the unique trials God brings into your life, consider why He may be bringing these times of testing, and ask Him for wisdom to face them in a way that will build perseverance and bring Him glory.

Click here for PRINTER-FRIENDLY copy of the curriculum

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