• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 2



Faith starts the race. Diligence keeps the pace!


INTRODUCTION

How would you define Diligence? Do you consider yourself an industrious person, even if the boss is not around?


What are the things that cause you not to work as hard as you are called?


Diligence allows us to operate with our best for His highest with excitement and passion in order to complete our work and call from the Lord. It is practical obedience in action, which is the loving of our call and the pursuing of our work so we are doing our best for His glory. Diligence also helps facilitate us to develop a good attitude as well as confidence, patience, forgiveness, values, loyalty, integrity, and be in a place to build and develop a positive and attractive disposition to those with whom we work.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 24:30-34

I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 34 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

Hebrews 11:6-8

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly (diligently) seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Hebrews 11:17-18

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

Hebrews 11:20-25

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. 23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Hebrews 11:27a

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger

Hebrews 11:29-31

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Hebrews 12:1-2a

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

How does being careless counteract Diligence?


How can you be a person who sees the value and importance of work, regardless of what the task is?


What happens to our relationships with God and others when we refuse to work our best and/or complain about what we do?


When have you been filled with Diligence the most?


If Plan + Diligence = Success, Then…Faith + Diligence = Spiritual Success

How have you seen this truth in your life?


MOVING FORWARD

  • What issue is in your life that would improve with more Diligence?

  • Think through the steps you need to take to put Diligence into action in a specific instance, such as allowing yourself to be accountable to someone to help keep you on track and motivate you to be more responsible.


PRAY TOGETHER

God, help me to be diligent in my life and in my faith. Let me show others your love through my diligence in this life daily.




DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 24:30-34

I’ve always thought about today’s passage in an external sense, rather than about the spiritual life. After all, that’s how it presents itself. The lazy person reaps ruin while the diligent can expect a healthy harvest. Simple. Makes sense. It’s a good challenge to keep me working hard and ensure I don’t let myself slack off. But what if we consider this sowing-and-reaping principle in terms of our spiritual life? Specifically in our relationship with God. We might not all live in castles or own vineyards, but we do all have the most valuable possession in the world: a human heart, soul, and spiritual life that needs tending.

Which scene resembles your inner quality of life in the following ways: Your spiritual life and relationship with the Lord, and your relationship with yourself? If you’re like me, it’s probably a mix of the two.

TENDING TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE- There are places in my relationship with the Lord I can honestly say are well-cultivated. For me, being in the Bible and in prayer are two places I’ve experienced incredible life. I have also put myself on the line in order to be obedient to his direction—even though it’s been scary and uncomfortable. It’s a mainstay of my personal relationship with Jesus. I may not have a heart populated by colonnades and cascading fountains, but there is life there for both myself and for others.

But if I dig deeper:

What about pride and my desire for recognition and praise?

What about envy?

What about my greed?

What about mean-spiritedness and incessant judgment of other people based on appearances?

What about how I deal with anger?

And the list goes on…

You see, the further I look past the well-tended fixtures of my inner life, I notice neglected places and crumbling walls. I see nettles intruding on flower beds, choking the life out of what is good.

TENDING TO YOUR PERSONAL INNER LIFE- The same goes for my relationship with myself.

Do I hold myself accountable for my attitudes?

Do I deal with anger before it blossoms into resentment?

Am I the same man in private as I am in public?

Am I cultivating habits that, while not comfortable, will produce life?

And again, the list goes on…

I encourage you to survey your spiritual life in the same way. Find both areas that are flourishing and those that are crumbling. How can you be diligent to tend to both? How will you increase fruitful areas while tilling up the weed-infested ones and starting over? For me, it all starts with a willingness to see reality. So, are you willing to see the real problems that exist in your heart? Are you willing to admit that there are cycles of trouble in your life that don’t stem from everyone else’s actions, but are caused by your own attitudes and dispositions? Here’s the deal. Until you own the entirety your inner life—the fruit trees and the weeds—you’ll never have the power or clarity to nurture it to its full potential. So, if you find yourself in a spiritual draught, be diligent in cultivating the places where life can be found.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, o“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Exodus 3:10-11

Why did God choose Moses when he was eighty-years old? He could have used him, say, 40 years back when he was still in Egypt and was brave and confident. But at 80 years, he had none of his earlier capabilities; in fact he had a feeling of inadequacy. How could he impact the mighty Pharaoh?

Let’s look at some qualities Moses possessed at 80 that he didn’t have in his youth:

1. He knew how to handle sheep. Moses tended to his flock diligently, and after so many years he knew everything there was to know about shepherding. If he was going to be the leader, he needed to have good shepherding skills.

2. He knew the deserts inside out. In order to lead the Israelites out into the wilderness, he needed to know basics of desert life.

God had been perfecting Moses for 40 years, and now he had good leadership skills. Many times we think that we are too old, or not strong enough for God’s purpose. Sometimes we feel frustrated, and often we feel inadequate. However, God is perfecting us. He does not look at our age or how strong we are. He is not bothered about whether we are able, capable, suitable or notable. He only wants us to be available when He calls us and speaks to us, He wants us to fulfill His plan and purpose in our life.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not? How could God have such an unrealistic expectation of us? It’s easy for Him to say. After all, He is God. He dwells in heaven. He must not be aware of all that we’re dealing with down here. We’re faced with everything from nations plunging over fiscal cliffs, to violence against the innocent, to natural disasters. Not to mention the everyday issues of life. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be afraid? Who wouldn’t have some anxiety? God’s children needn’t fear.

The Lord never makes a promise He can’t keep. He commands us to neither fear nor be dismayed for two reasons: He is with us. He is our God.

Because the Lord is with us we need not fear. His presence guarantees strength to endure every trial, to bear up courageously under all suffering, persecution and affliction. God with us assures that we are never without help. The God of no limits is ever present to help when we have reached the end of our proverbial ropes.

Finally, God upholds us with His mighty power. When our own strength is small and spent, when we fall and have no might to raise ourselves up, the loving Lord reaches down His powerful right hand and lifts us. As long as we confidently know that God is with us, child of God, we can boldly proclaim, “I am not afraid; my God is ever with me! I am anxious for nothing; the Lord is my God!”

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6-11

If you’ve ever battled ants in your kitchen, you might describe them as stubborn. But to someone struggling to stay on course, these tiny creatures seem determined, or even inspiring. In fact, ants have several characteristics people admire, including preparation, cooperation, perseverance, diligence, and unity.

Ants are but one example of how much we can learn from the world God created—it contains bountiful evidence of His character and values. Knowing this, Jesus directed His followers’ attention to the birds so that they might consider the folly of anxiety (Matt. 6:25-26). Birds do not reap or gather grain but instead assume their food will be supplied as it always has been. This observation of nature demonstrates that the Lord who provides for birds can be trusted to meet His people’s needs as well.

While godly wisdom is rooted in Scripture and sought through prayer, we shouldn’t overlook the lessons unfolding right outside the front door. Ask God for eyes to see His principles in the natural world. Then take every chance to grow in understanding, both inside and outside your house.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

In everyone’s life, there tends to be one central issue around which all else revolves. Perhaps it is family, financial security, or a career. In a believer’s life, however, the first priority should be to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33). People sometimes say, “I’ve made Jesus a part of my life,” but that is not enough. Jesus is life for His followers. Without Him, the believer’s life has no purpose or meaning.

Our top priority is where we invest our time, effort, and money. Therefore, to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness means we make the pursuit of Christlikeness our primary goal. Obedience is a sure indication that we are growing in an intimate relationship with the Lord.

Seeking God’s will requires perseverance. Rather than simply taking life as it comes and reacting to each situation, we must make our decisions according to the principles of Scripture. In personal prayer and Bible study, we learn to discern God’s will as we become more familiar with what He desires. If we find ourselves veering away from the Lord, we quickly get back on track through confession and repentance.

When you honestly think about your priorities, you may discover that you’ve been distracted or sidetracked by lesser pursuits. Although Scripture tell us to care for our families and work diligently, putting those things ahead of God is idolatry. Look at your calendar and ask yourself, What is my priority in life? If the answer is Jesus, it will be evident because everything else will take a back seat.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly (diligently) seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

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