How To Be Happy

In Spite Of Yourself


David A. Beck


"Don't Worry, Be Happy"

1. Read Luke 2:10. What did the angels who appeared to announce the birth of Christ say they brought?

A. What was the emphasis of the message?

B. Do you have joy filling your heart?

We will be studying this week how to have that peace & joy in our lives. You might say, "I don't need it..." or "If you only knew my life...."

2. Too many Christians suffer from anxiety in one form or another. How does this affect our ability to convert others to Christ?

3. What are some circumstances of life that cause depression and anxiety?

4. What are the reasons in our own lives that we are unhappy?

A. What do you tell your friends and family about why you are unhappy?

B. What do you tell yourself is the reasons you are unhappy?

5. What do we ask God to do to help us be happy?

The Cause of Our Unhappiness

The Bible offers evidence that self-pity, rather than circumstances, produces most of our anxieties.

1. Consider the experience of Moses. Read Numbers 11:10-15.

2. What problems did Moses face?

3. What caused Moses to be depressed and have anxiety?

A. Was it his circumstances?

B. The people he was leading?

C. Was it God?

D. Was it his attitude in the circumstance caused his depression.

4. Was Moses indulging in self-pity, anger, and bitterness?

5. What attitude should he have had?

6. Look at the experience of Elijah as recorded in 1 Kings 19:1-10.

A. What had he just accomplished prior to this?

B. What caused his deep anxiety?

C. How many did he say stood with him? Was this true?

D. Where did he go?

E. What did he ask the Lord to do?

F. Was Elijah's anxiety caused by his particular circumstance?

7. Job knew the experience of depression. What did he lose?

A. What did Job cry out in his desperation? (Job 3:3, 11)

B. Put yourself in Job's place. Would our response to circumstances have been any different?

C. Was it his circumstances, or his attitude that brought him to the dismal pit of despair?

8. Read Jer. 20:14-18, What caused this great prophet to despair? Why was he so deeply depressed?

A. What was the cause of Jeremiah's depression?

B. Was it his circumstances ..... or his mental attitude?

A Cure for Anxiety

Anxiety is a universal problem, and its cause is usually rooted in self-pity. The Bible offers a cure for anxiety.

1. What does Paul tells us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18?

A. Does this mean in times of adversity? (see also Eph. 5:20)

B. Can you be in a prayer of thanksgiving and pity yourself at the same time?

C. How will this attitude of thanksgiving affect us?

2. Did Paul practice the Holy Spirit's teaching on this subject? (read Acts 16:22-25)

A. What were these men doing?

B. What had Paul and Silas learned that Moses, Elijah, Job, and Jeremiah had failed to recognize?

C. What did Paul affirm in Romans 8:28?

D. Notice carefully that the prisoners heard Paul and Silas singing praises to God (Acts 16:25). How do you think they were affected by this?

E. What is expressed to God, and others, in our being able to truly thank God in adverse circumstances?

Seven Basic Guidelines for a Happy, fulfilling, and meaningful life

1. Commit your life daily to the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ.

Phil. 4:6, 13; 1 Thess. 5:16-18

2. Spend some time each day meditating on God's Word and applying it to your life.

1 Tim. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:15; Rom. 12:2; Jer. 10:23

3. Get rid of grudges daily. Eph. 4:26-27; Matt. 6:12

4. Spend a little time every day considering how to get more intimate with your mate and children. Parents, brothers, sisters, and other close relatives should also have a high priority. Do all you can to resolve family conflicts.

Eph. 5:22-33; Eph. 6:1-4; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:33

5. Spend some time each week having fun and fellowship with at least one or two committed Christians. If you are married, you and your mate should socially interact with other faithful Christian couples.

Prov. 13:20; 17:22; 27:17; 1 Cor. 15:33

6. Be involved in a daily routine (including work, play, projects) that brings personal satisfaction to you. Be convinced that this routine is God's will and purpose, not just self-indulgent. Eccl. 9:18; Acts 9:36

7. Do at least one nice thing for someone each day. (Phone calls, notes, etc.)

Do at least one sacrificial deed for someone each week. (Cook a meal, clean house, etc.) Matthew 7:12; Luke 10:30-37


A. What habits must we adopt to accomplish this?

B. What habits must I break to accomplish this?

C. Are you able to accomplish this?


God never intended for us to dwell in the house called anxiety. He wants us to believe "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Our confidence in that Bible truth is demonstrated when we "in every thing give thanks." Can you accept the challenge to start thanking God in all things? Acceptance has nothing to do with feelings; it is a matter of faith. You cannot wait until you feel like it to thank God. Do not live by your feelings; instead, live by faith and defeat self-pity and anxiety.


Here's Mud in Your Eye!

1. What is the difference between having FAITH and having an ATTITUDE OF FAITH?

A. How is the attitude of FAITH expressed.

B. How will a person with this ATTITUDE OF FAITH live his/her life?

C. How does this kind of attitude affect depression and despair?

Remember from our last lesson: Circumstances are not the keys to a happy life. If you are waiting for a certain set of circumstances to occur before you experience happiness, you will never have happiness. Your attitude determines whether or not you are victorious in life. Man's greatest need is not a new set of circumstances his greatest need is a new attitude ------ a new way of thinking.

If your life is controlled by worry, failure, fear, anger, self-pity, bitterness, and resentment, life will be difficult for you. If any of these traits are in your thinking pattern you will spend most of your time as a depressed, defeated and unhappy person. Anger, self-pity, fear, and resentment are certainly the ingredients for a miserable life. If you allow these negative attitudes to control your mind, you will be like a sinking ship in a bottomless ocean.

2. When you first heard that attitude, not circumstance, is the key to mature living, how did that make you feel?

A. What did Solomon say to us in Proverbs 23:7a?

B. What does your thinking say about you? What kind of person are you?

C. Read what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. How did he display an attitude of faith?

D. From this text, what does the Bible teach is the key to leading a joyful life?

E. What does 2 Timothy 3:12 and John 15:18-19 teach us to expect out of life?

I remember, while I was in the Army, a day which began around 4 A.M. It was raining. We ran in the rain to a place way out into the woods where we practiced "war games." At the end of the day I was lying down, exhausted, outside my tent; dreading even getting up to clean the mud off of myself before dinner. All that I could see was mud. We had destroyed all sign of grass and the rain caused us to be ankle deep in mud. We were each covered, head to toe, in mud. I was miserable. One of my friends sat next to me and pointed out how this would be a day worth remembering. He was excited about having lived a day so foreign to the rest of his life. I thought he was nuts!! But, you know what, I cherish those days. They are fond memories. He had the ability to see that; and appreciate it. All I could see was MUD!!

Paul spent much of his ministry in the mud. In fact, some of his enemies saw to it that his nose was literally kept in the mud. Most of the time Paul lived in most difficult circumstances, but he refused to see the mud. He always looked to the stars because his attitude was that of faith and hope.

F. What did Paul say in Rom. 8:36-37?

Paul refused to allow self-pity, worry, anger, bitterness, and resentment to dominate his life. He never fell victim to his circumstances because he had an ATTITUDE of faith. To the apostle every difficult and tragic circumstance was a trial whereby God would be glorified and his own faith would be made stronger. Paul was victorious in life, not because of his circumstances but because of his attitude.

What is your attitude? What fills your mind? If you will share your attitude, I can tell you how you are getting along in life.

I have an aunt who just can't be happy. I remember one day when my aunt and uncle were staying with my family while on vacation in Florida. Of course, the bed gave her a back-ache, the food wasn't to her liking, and we didn't go anywhere that she wanted to go. My uncle on the other hand was a calm, and considerate man. When she demanded to go to one of those "shell factories" (where they take advantage of tourists) my uncle kept trying to talk her out of it. He laughed and offered to take her to the ball park where there were plenty of shells (peanut, of course). She saw no humor in it. She ranted & raved until finally he gave her her wish. When she got there she complained about the prices, the sales clerk, and everything else. The clerk, chit-chatting with my uncle while my aunt was shopping, asked what business they were in. My uncle said he was a Communications Consultant but his wife was a "Spreader." The clerk looked puzzled & asked what a "Spreader" was. He responded she spreads misery wherever she goes.

G. What are you "spreading" if your attitude is that of self-pity, anxiety, anger, bitterness, or failure?

Do not blame your attitude on your circumstance. Do not allow your particular circumstance to become a catalyst for the self-pity attitude. Allow faith, forgiveness, and love to fill your mind.

H. What can you do to create an ATTITUDE of faith?

Do you remember the occasion where the N. Koreans captured the Pueblo and accused the men of being spies? I don't remember how long exactly they were held captive, but I think it was about 18 months. Some of them died after only a few months, not because of the difficult living conditions and inhumane treatment, but because of their negative attitudes. The soldiers who saw only the horror around them and were filled with self-pity and despair; these men literally wasted away. The other prisoners, though, were filled with faith and hope; they chose to see the "stars." The difference in the two groups was not the circumstance (they all had the same circumstance); the difference was in attitude. The survivors found ways of even communicating to their families back home via the propaganda tapes the N. Koreans made of them & distributed. They looked for the humor in their captors, gave them each a name, etc.

3. Earlier we studied Paul's personal testimony concerning the difficult and tragic circumstances he had faced as an apostle (2 Cor. 11:23-29). I believe Paul's attitude toward such circumstances is best described in Romans 8:31-37. What are the promises that God gives us in this passage?

4. What three people does Jesus tell us we are to love in Mark 12:28-33?

5. If we are anxious about our lives; depressed about our situation in life; or burdened about our past; how have we failed the Lord's command in this passage?

6. Which (being anxious about our lives; depressed about our situation in life; or burdened about our past) is controlled by our own choice (of our own will)?

7. Faith in Christ starts with a choice of the will. Consider the following passages:

A. Luke 7:50. What choice did the woman make?

B. John 1:12. What choice were they being asked to make?

C. John 3:16. What choice are we given?

D. Acts 16:30-31. What choice was the jailor given?

E. Rom. 10:13. What choice are men given?

F. Acts 2:38. What choice were those Jews given?

G. Mark 16:15-16. What choice were the apostles to give the world?

5. What choices are we given in our text (Mark 12:28-33)?


Paul's ministry is a continuous echo of the fact that attitude, not circumstance, is the key to joyful living. We are challenged through the power of God's Spirit to exchange the self-pity attitude for the faith attitude. Choose today to ignore the mud and see the stars. You will never regret such an exchange.

1 Pet 1:3-9, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."

Do You Grieve the Holy Spirit?

1. Read Ephesians 4:29-32. How can you "grieve the Holy Spirit?"

2. What does this passage tell us that the Holy Spirit has done for us? (Explain what that means.)

3. What can you do that will take the bitterness away after you have been wronged?

4. Can you forgive the unrepentant? (Consider Jesus' and Stephen's last requests)

5. What does Matthew 18:15-17 teach that we should do if a brother sins against us?

6. Read Matthew 18:21-35. What are we to do if a brother sins against us the 491st time? (70x7=490)

7. Read Matthew 5:3-16; 38-48. What does Jesus teach our attitude should be toward the non-Christian?

8. What is our attitude to be toward those who take advantage of us?

9. What did Jesus mean that the one who fails to repent (Matt. 18) should be to us "like a Gentile and a tax-gatherer?"

When Jesus said that we were to forgive seventy times seven, he gave us good spiritual advice; he also gave us good medical advice. The JAMA came up with some "startling news." People who live like Christians live much longer than those who don't. They said that it was the "peace of mind that prayer gives." They also said it had to do with forgiveness and how our body reacts to the freedom that comes from this act. Of course they gave all the medical reasons. But God gives us "eternal" reasons. When we replace anger with forgiveness, we are saving our bodies from ulcers, heart attacks, colitis, toxic goiters, high blood pressure, and numerous other diseases. Anger leads to despair as well as physical destruction. Anger not only puts us into a state of depression and shortens our lives, but it can also cost us our eternal salvation. Can you think of any good reason to cling to our anger as many do?

As we consider the anger attitude, look at this negative attitude in three ways: the definition of anger, the destructive nature of anger, and the deliverance from anger.

The Definition of Anger

In Ephesians 4:30-32 the Bible states, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

In the statement found in Ephesians 4:30-32, we have five words that embrace the concept of anger. Paul gave us several definitions or expressions of the attitude that hurts God, the Holy Spirit.

A. bitterness..... The Greek word is "piknia," which means resentfulness or harshness.

B. wrath..... The Greek word is "thumos," and it brings to mind a sudden burst of anger. This is the type of anger that just as quickly subsides.

C. anger..... The Greek word is "arge." This word describes "anger that contin- ually boils and has its end in revenge."

D. clamor..... The Greek word is "Krauge." This word indicates an expression used by Paul in this context as speaking evil.

E. slander..... The Greek word "blasphemica" refers to slanderous speech that has as its purpose personal injury.

1. What does Paul say that we should do with these same attitudes in Colossians 3:8?

"Be put away from you" refers to the taking off of old clothes that need to be discarded. Anger is like old clothes that must be thrown into the garbage dumped in the incinerator and burned. If we cling to them, they can choak us to death.

2. Read Ephesians 4:32. What is the "road map" that Paul; gives us that will deliver us from anger?

Ephesians 4:32 contains the key to deliverance because God has forgiven us of all our sins, and he gives us the strength to forgive those who have wronged us.

We are keenly aware of personal insults and injury. Every time we are insulted or persecuted, we should view the experience in two ways. First, we should see the experience as a means to grow in God's grace.

3. What does James 1 tell us about this?

How can we grow in love and forgiveness if our lives are not put to the test?

4. What opportunities do we find in being insulted? (Yep, OPPORTUNITIES)

5. When we counter an insult with anger and resentment, what passages of scripture are we violating?

6. If we respond in anger what are we telling the world?

7. Read Luke 9:52-56. What were James and John so angry about?

A. What did Jesus say about their anger?

B. What can we learn about the attitude we should have in similar situations?

8. In Acts 7 we meet a unique personality called Stephen. The Bible tells us that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. God was in control of his life, and he demonstrated the reality of God's fullness. Because of his beliefs, Stephen was taken outside the city gates and stoned to death.

A. What did he do in retaliation?

B. Do you think that this event had anything to do with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus? Explain your answer

What is your attitude? Are you angry, bitter, resentful? If you are, then we both know that you are defeated and having a difficult time in life. How tragic it is that we justify our anger by calling it righteous indignation. Ninety-nine percent of the time, righteous indignation is nothing more than sinful anger. Anger will only make us sick in every area of our lives. We must confess our anger to God, repent of this sin, and ask God to forgive us. We should also ask Him to help us overcome this fault and to put in its place the attitude of forgiveness. This is the only way to live healthfully, successfully, and righteously.

Why Do We Get Angry?

1. What would you say is the chief cause of anger?

2. Are we able to control anger, or is it a reflex action?

3. What about protecting our rights? Are we to give up our rights?

4. If you choose to NOT GET ANGRY, what do you gain? What do you lose?


What Do Anger and Bitterness Cost You?

Anxiety, anger, and depression defeats the Christian. Anxiety, anger, and depression may be brought on by events, but our attitude will determine whether or not we remain that way. Those who live anxious, angry, and depressed will die that way. Those whose lives are filled with resentments will live lives where joy is absent and Satan is able to keep his foot on the necks of those persons. Dr. S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, points out that our attitude can be the greatest enemy of our health that we face. Smoking, obesity, and heart disease certainly play a role; but our attitude can eat away the lining to our stomachs and other vital organs until there is nothing left to do but die.

Someone says, "I'll get even with him if it's the last thing I do!"

It just might be!

1. How do you feel (physically) when you are angry or bitter about something?

2. When we see another person angry or bitter, we may not know what is wrong, but we usually say of that person, "He is not himself." What do you notice about them that would cause us to notice that something is wrong?

3. How do you feel about being around the bitter, angry person?

4. What can you find, to share with the class, about the physical cost of anger?

5. When you are angry and bitter, what affect do you suppose you attitude has on

your mortality?

6. Would it be sin to be in the habit of being bitter and angry?

7. Who is to blame when sickness invades your life?

8. What is the spiritual cost to anger and bitterness? (1 John 4:20-21; Matthew


So How Do We Cure Anger and Bitterness?

1. What does Ephesians 4:31 tell us to do with bitterness?

2. Is harboring anger a sin?

3. How do we get rid of sin? (1 John 1:9)

4. When we look at the immediate, physical picture when wronged, what do we see and how do we react?

5. When we look at the eternal, spiritual picture when we have been wronged, what do we see and how do we react? (Eph. 4:32; Matthew 18:21-35)

6. Whose problem is it when you are wronged or insulted? (Romans 12:17-19)

7. Read 1 Thess. 5:18. What do you have to be thankful for when you have been insulted or wronged?

8. Tell about what all happened to Joseph and how his attitude (Genesis 45:5, 8) is an example to us.

9. A Christian's spiritual maturity is determined by which of the following:

A. How many people he does not offend.

B. How many times he is/is not offended.

C. How he responds when offended.


"What, Me Worry?"

Read Matthew 6:25-34

1. What does it mean to "be anxious" about the necessities of life?

2. What does Jesus mean when He asks, "Is not life more" than any of these things?

3. What does 1 Peter 5:7 tell us to do with all of our worries and anxiety? Why?

4. What does that tell you about the kind of life Jesus wants us to have?

Most of the time we refuse the wisdom of God and simply worry about things that we cannot control. Worry is an attitude of the mind; it is a way of thinking about life. It is negative thinking that adversely affects the emotions of each of us. Jesus understood the destructive power of worry, and he knew that this negative mental attitude was detrimental to man's health, both spiritual and physical. He commanded men not to worry and offered an alternative attitude.

Look again at Matthew 6:25-34 (re-read as you meditate on Jesus' desire for our lives - and His love for each of His brethren)

The Greek word for worry, merimnan - merimnan, literally means "to divide, part, rip, or tear apart." Some scholars translate this word as to divide the mind or to go to pieces. It is certainly an accurate description of worry. When a man goes to pieces, he is never involved in creative action and purpose; instead, he simply divides his mind and puts ulcers on the lining of his stomach.

Worry has to be stopped - RIGHT NOW! If you are a habitual worrier, if your mind is divided, three truths are paramount in your life. First, you are sinning against God because worry is a sin. If Jesus said not to worry, and we worry, then we are sinning against God. Second, if your habit is to worry, your life is filled with depression and fearfulness. You are draining yourself of energy and time in which you should be serving God. Third, when you are worrying, your health is in serious jeopardy. The stress and anxiety produce negative physical changes in your body. When worrying, you are becoming everything that a child of God should not be.

Thank goodness, Jesus told us how to deal with worry. In these verses of Matthew 6, Christ told us to exchange worry for faith. He calls us to change our thinking. Jesus calls us to see three truths as we break the worry habit: (1) the worth of our lives, (2) the waste of worry, and (3) the way of God.

The Worth of Your Life

1. When we worry, what are we saying about God's attitude toward our needs?

2. Is worry an act of faithfulness or faithlessness?

3. What does Jesus tell us about God's interest in our needs?

4. Does God really understand our needs? Why?

5. Does God love us?

6. What is the point that Jesus is making about the birds and the grass?

The Waste of Worry

1. Name as many examples as you can where worrying is helpful.

2. Now name as many examples as you can where worrying is hurtful.

3. Does worrying increase or decrease your "life's span?" How?

4. How does Jesus describe the faith of those who worry?

5. What affect do you think worrying Christians have on those of the world?

6. What does Jesus say is the cure for worry?

7. When is it easy to trust in the Lord? When is it hard?

8. What did Paul say about what he could accomplish through the strength that Jesus supplied? (Phil 4:13)

9. If the Christ could do that for Paul, can He do it for us?

Whatever problem you have, in faith turn it over to the Lord. Begin first by thanking God for the problem. Does that shock you?

10. What did Paul say in 1 Thess. 5:18?

11. What did the Holy Spirit give him to write in Ephesians 5:20?

12. Why is it that giving thanks in all things is so important?

13. What does Romans 8:28 teach us about God's providence?

14. What is the promise to us in Philippians 4:6-7?

Worry is a sin that always leads to unhappiness. The Lord is calling us to trust him in every circumstance. Long ago the prophet Isaiah said, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace. whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. 26:3).

In whom do you trust?

Philippians 4 Prescription: 10 WAYS TO OVERCOME ANXIETY

1. Determine to obey God. God commands us not to be anxious (Phil. 4:5).

2. Pray (Phil. 4:6). God told Daniel not to fear; He had heard his prayer from the time he first started praying and He would answer (Daniel 10:12).

3. Realize that God can keep our mind safe as we obey Him. (Philippians 4:7).

4. Meditate on positive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8). When you catch yourself worrying say, "Stop, relax; anxiety is a signal to relax, so relax." Then go over and over a verse like Phil. 4:8. Anxiety is usually a signal to become more anxious, but by a simple modification of our thinking the brain can be conditioned to use anxiety as a signal to relax. There is no better place to find positive things to meditate on than the Scriptures. (Look at Psalm 34:4; 86:15; Proverbs 1:33; 3:25-26; Isaiah 40.28-31, Matthew 6:33-34; 11:28-30; John 10:27-28; 14:27; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:20; 4:10).

5. Focus on godly behavior (Philippians 4:9). Avoid sin (Proverbs 4:15), and to take advantage of outside Bible Classes (consider how Hebrews 10:24-25 might apply.).

6. Divert attention from self to others (Philippians 4:10; see also Philippians 2:3-4). As an individual gets his mind off his own problems by helping others, his anxiety often decreases.

7. Work on being content (Philippians 4:11; see also 1 Timothy 6:6).

8. Realize there is a twofold responsibility (yours and Christ's) in doing anything. "I can do all things through Christ. . ." (Philippians 4:13). An individual can overcome anxiety through Christ.

9. Eliminate the fear of poverty (Philippians 4:19). God promises to supply all our needs (not all our wants).

10. Realize that the grace of God is with you (Philippians 4:23; see also 2 Cor. 9:8).

How Do I (Can I) Forget??

1. Did the apostle Paul ever do anything that he later regretted? What things?

2. Have you ever done things that you wished you hadn't done? What things?

3. When you think back on your past mistakes, does it make you:

Happy ..... or unhappy?

Inspire confidence ..... or lack of confidence in your abilities?

Make you anxious to work ..... or feel defeated?

4. How does focusing on our past mistakes and failures hinder us from accomplishing what we can today?

5. What did Paul tell the Philippians he did about his past mistakes? (Phil. 3:13)

6. What should we do with our regrets over our past?

In order to serve God effectively we must be able to put our past mistakes behind us as Paul did. We must not constantly lament our past sins and failures.

Sins are to be confessed. When they are confessed to God He forgives and forgets. He does not hold our past failure before our faces. Let us learn the lesson that Paul discovered two thousand years ago: Past mistakes must not be allowed to overshadow the present. As a Christian, what is your mental attitude toward your past failures and mistakes? Are you dwelling on the past, or are you seeking God's grace? Happiness and purpose are found in the latter.

7. What did God tell us through John in 1 John 1:9?

8. Who gets the victory if we continue to look at our past mistakes?

But Never Again!

1. Have you ever used language like that expressed in the title to this section?

2. Should we .... can we "forgive and forget?"

3. Though we forgive the person who hurt us .... what kind of "baggage" do we carry because of that hurt?

4. What does it mean to be "gun shy?"

5. When we are rejected by one we love .... how are we "gun shy?"

6. When we are persecuted for doing what is right, how does that make us "gun shy?"

7. When the door "slams in our face" when we are trying to teach the gospel, how does that make us "gun shy?"

8. What are some of the things that happened to Paul that should have made him "gun shy?"

Acts 14:19 -

Acts 16:22-24 -

Acts 21:30-32 -

9. Why didn't Paul get "gun shy?"

10. In order to get over the effect of past hurts on our lives, what must we do?

11. How can we accomplish this hard task? What steps must we take?

12. How will that change our present lives?

It's Just Not Fair!!

1. What has life given to you that is worse than (or less than) what others have received? (i.e. bad parents, illness, money problems, husband/wife/children problems, etc.)

2. Is life always fair?

3. Do you suppose Paul had any physical problems?

(read Gal. 4:14-15; 2 Cor. 12:7-10)

4. What did Jesus tell Paul when Paul asked Him to relieve him of his problem?

5. Where is our "power" to come from?

6. Read Phil. 4:10-20. What does Paul say about his life?

7. Read Phil. 3:8-16. What does Paul tell us to do?


"It Ain't Over 'til It's Over!"

Don't Get Trampled Down!

In the book of Genesis, beginning in chapter 37, we read of Joseph. Joseph was a real success story - God placed him in the greatest management job in the world at that time - buying and selling the entire food supply for the nation of Egypt, which was the most powerful nation of that day. But Joseph didn't just "happen" into that job. God prepared him for it, and led him through a long chain of circumstances, training, and difficulty. Let's look at some of the ways God used to train him and get him into position for this job.

In Genesis 37:5 and 9 we read of Joseph as a dreamer. At the age of seventeen it appeared that he wasn't going to amount to much. He had dreamed that he was placed in authority over his older brothers. He had dreamed that his brothers would bow down to him, and he was so immature, with so little tact, that he told his brothers about it, kindling their anger.

Another problem Joseph faced as a youth was the fact that he was his father's favorite son. Joseph was spoiled - the son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rebekah, he was the subject of many favors, including the coat of many colors. His brothers envied him and hated him because of this.

1. Why did Joseph go out looking for his brothers? Had they obeyed their father? Do you suppose they thought he was spying on them?

2. What action did his older brothers take against him?

3. Can you relate to Joseph's position - innocent of wrongdoing, but the victim of hatred and envy of sinners?

4. How did Joseph react to his brothers' treachery - self-pity? Blame God? Quit serving God faithfully?

5. How was Joseph rewarded for his faithfulness?

6. What temptation was thrown in Joseph's path by Potiphar's wife? How did he react?

7. Have you ever stood up for the Lord - done the right thing, and suffered for it? What did this persecution do to your faith, and what did it do to Joseph's faith?

8. Don't you suppose Joseph prayed about this situation? Did God's decision to NOT rescue Joseph indicate God's displeasure? What can we learn from Joseph's story...when we are faced with difficulties and trampled by Satan?

Joseph became the second most powerful man in all Egypt. He had great wealth, fame, and honor. There were many times he could have given up. Many times he could have said, "It's too much!" But Joseph remained faithful to the Lord. His trials helped him grow into a man capable of leading a great nation. God prepared him for this place of honor and respect. He was where God wanted him to be and he continued faithful to the Lord regardless of the circumstances he faced.

If you tend to become discouraged easily, if you feel that things have not been going quite right for you, and you are concerned as to where you should turn, or what you should do next, you may feel that God has forgotten you, even though you have tried to be faithful to him. If you feel that way, remember Joseph. Remember how he stuck to the job God had given him and was content in the places God put him. Apply Romans 8:28.

Dealing With Failure

1. Have you ever failed? What do you consider your biggest failure?

2. How did Peter fail Jesus? Compare your failures to each of the following:

A. Matthew 16:21-23 (Peter was SELF-assured & arrogant)

B. Matthew 18:21-22 (Peter failed to understand the nature of forgiveness)

C. Matthew 26:31-35 (Peter failed to understand the purpose of Jesus' work)

D. Matthew 26:37-45 (Peter failed in prayer - and standing guard)

E. Matthew 26:69-75 (Peter denies Jesus)

3. How did Paul tell us to deal with failure? (Phil. 3:13)

4. Read and discuss the dialogue between Peter and Jesus in John 21:15-18.

5. How did this help Peter to put his mistakes in the past?

6. What does that mean to us today?

7. What was the outcome of Peter's dialogue with Jesus?

(consider Matt. 16:18, Acts 2, Acts 4, Acts 5:17ff, and Acts 10)

8. Did Jesus forgive Peter? How does John 21:15-18 reflect that forgiveness?

A Second Chance?

1. Read John 8:1-11 and discuss the meaning this account has in our lives.

2. Had this woman failed? Was she a "failure?" (consider Isa. 53:6)

3. What do we know about her accusers?

A. Their purpose?

B. Concerned about Jewish law? (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22)

C. How did they think they could accuse Jesus in this event?

4. What do we know about the accused?

A. A housewife rebelling against God?

From a broken home & didn't know better?

A frustrated wife abused by a mean husband?

B. How much concern did the mob have for her?

C. How does her need, at this moment in her history, differ from yours? when you have sinned

5. What about her Advocate? Though Jesus was not an advocate as in 1 John 2:1-2,

He was interest her

A. Was He a just "lawyer" to listen to her case?

B. Did He have the right to plead her case before the "judge?" (Matt. 28:18)

C. What did he say to the mob? to the woman?

D. What was His attitude toward her? her sin?

E. How do we apply this information to our own lives? (Remember the change in law that has taken place at the cross. Col. 2:14)

6. How were people saved under the Old Testament Law? Today? (Eph. 2:8)

7. Does this mean God's attitude has changed? If so, in what way?

8. What is implied by Jesus' response to her sin..................? (Answer the following)

A. Did He want her to put her failure in the past, present, or future?

B. Was she to continue like she was or start all over again?

C. Did he require her to continue to bathe herself in guilt?

D. What did He expect of her as, by His grace, He gives her another chance?

E. Was SHE a failure? Why/why not??

F. Apply these attitudes to yourself when you sin.

And in Conclusion.....

True or False?

1. When we sin, we must repent and ask God to forgive us.

2. If we refuse to accept that forgiveness we are more prone to sin again.

3. Sin, continued in and unforgiven, separates us from God.

4. There are no sins that are too big for God to forgive and forget.

5. God wants me to enjoy a clear conscience.

6. I can have a clear conscience.

The following is copied.......I don't know the author.

Failure doesn't mean you are a failure............................

....................................... It does mean you haven't succeeded yet.

Failure doesn't mean you have accomplished nothing.....

....................................... It does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn't mean you have been a fool......................

....................................... It does mean you had a lot of faith.

Failure doesn't mean you've been disgraced.....................

....................................... It does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn't mean you don't have it..............................

....................................... It does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn't mean you are inferior.................................

....................................... It does mean you are not perfect.

Failure doesn't mean you've wasted your life.....................

....................................... It does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

Failure doesn't mean you'll never make it............................

....................................... It does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn't mean God has abandoned you......................

....................................... It does mean God has another way!

Let me add....

Failure doesn't mean you can't do it.......................................

....................................... It does mean you must try harder.

Failure doesn't mean that people are looking down at you......

....................................... It does mean God is, and He cares.

Failure doesn't mean you have an excuse to quit...............................

....................................... It does mean you have more reason to go on.