• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 3



When we Respond to anger, we are trusting God. When we React to anger, we are trusting Ourselves!


INTRODUCTION

What are the “go to” things in your life that cause you to react in anger.


Have you ever felt cheated out of something? If you have come to peace with it, what were some things that helped you overcome this feeling?


If you have a friend who feels cheated, how would you try to help them?


Feeling cheated can easily lead to us feeling miserable and embittered. If we hold onto this feeling, it will soon begin tainting all of our thoughts and make us very cynical. Being bitter is not a good place to be!

Joseph had plenty of opportunities to be embittered. His brothers hated him, he was sold into slavery, he wound up losing a great job because someone lied, and he languished in prison because of a lie. In this lesson, we will look at Joseph’s remarkable perseverance and see how he kept from becoming bitter from what happened to him.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 14:16

The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.

Genesis 37:2-11

This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Genesis 39,50


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Genesis 37:2-11.

What caused Joseph’s brothers to become embittered towards him? Were any of these things really Joseph’s fault? What can we learn from Joseph’s brothers in this matter?


Joseph’s brothers had to contend with the fact that their father favored and loved him more than the rest of them. Though this wasn’t Joseph’s fault, it still caused a great deal of animosity towards him personally. The other thing that upset his brothers were the dreams that the Lord gave him regarding the future. Once again, this was not Joseph’s fault. Perhaps Joseph wasn’t tactful in his relation of these dreams, but he cannot be blamed for the things the Lord showed him.

We have to be careful that when we are upset at others that we aren’t blaming them for things that aren’t their fault. Jealousy is very dangerous, and if we don’t repent of it, we can get to a place where we can bring ourselves to speak peaceably to others. Many of the problems the Lord Jesus had with the religious leaders were born out of this kind of jealousy towards Him.


Read Genesis 39:7-20

How often do people in the Scripture suffer harm because of their righteousness?


How do you think Joseph kept these events from making him bitter?


We know that many of the heroes of the faith suffered because they were righteous. Joseph is hated by Potiphar’s wife because of his integrity. Moses is reviled by the Israelites at times for doing what the Lord told him. David was nearly killed by Saul on several occasions because of his righteousness. Of course, Jesus Christ is the best example of someone suffering for righteousness sake. Jesus was crucified for telling the truth about sin and repentance. Jesus’ righteousness and character and teaching provoked the rulers to jealousy, and they killed him for it.

Joseph probably avoided the trap of bitterness by putting his faith in the Lord. Surely Joseph had bad days, but the fact that he maintained his integrity is a great indication that he continued to put his trust in the Lord. It would have been easy to give up after these events and think that trying to do right doesn’t matter.


Read Genesis 50:15-21.

How was Joseph able to forgive his brothers for all that they had done to him?


Did God plan the evil that happened to Joseph? Why would God do that?


Joseph endured the jealousy of his brothers, being sold into slavery, being falsely accused, being forgotten by a man who promised to help him, and many years of prison. Finally, by God’s providence, Joseph was exalted to the most powerful position in Egypt under Pharaoh, and because of this position, he saved all of Egypt and his family from starving in the famine.

Though much of his life was painful, Joseph saw the hand of God guiding every aspect of his life. God’s sovereignty in all of these events does not negate the sins committed against him. Potiphar’s wife and Joseph’s brothers would answer for their sins to God if they did not have grace and forgiveness from God. But because Joseph saw that God was with him whatever happened, and because Joseph saw throughout his life that all of these things happened to him to prepare him for the responsibilities he had, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers and even care for them despite their sins against him.

Joseph shows us the same kind of forgiveness that Jesus Christ demonstrated at His betrayal. All of the disciples forsook Jesus on the night He was betrayed, and even as He was being nailed to the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The Father sent the Son to die for us, and though this came as a great cost, the evil that happened to Jesus was planned by the Father for our good” (cf. John 3:16).


MOVING FORWARD

  • What can you do this week to help control your anger?

  • Is there an area of your life that needs more work to help you respond instead of react?


COMMENTARY

Genesis 37-50

Israel’s role as the people of promise was being jeopardized by their acceptance of the loose moral standards of the native Canaanites. The incest between Reuben and his father’s servant-wife (35:22) hints at that moral compromise. Judah’s marriage to the Canaanite Shua and his later affair with his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, makes the danger clear. To preserve His people, Yahweh removed them from that sinful environment to Egypt, where they could mature into the covenant nation that He was preparing them to be.

This explains the Joseph story. His brothers sold him to Egypt to be rid of their brother the dreamer. God, however, used their act of hate as an opportunity to save Israel from both physical famine and spiritual extinction. The rise of Joseph to a position of authority in Egypt in fulfillment of his God-given dreams illustrates the Lord’s blessing upon His people. Joseph’s wisdom in administering the agricultural affairs of Egypt again fulfilled God’s promise that “I will bless him who blesses you.” What appeared to be a series of blunders and injustices in Joseph’s early experiences proved to be God at work in unseen ways to demonstrate His sovereign, kingdom work among the nations.

No one was more aware of this than Joseph, at least in later years. After he had revealed himself to his brothers, he said, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Years later after Jacob’s death, when Joseph’s brothers feared his revenge, he reminded them that they had intended to harm him, “but God intended it for good to accomplish … the saving of many lives.” Human tragedy had become the occasion of divine triumph. Joseph’s dying wish—to be buried in the land of promise—looks past the future tragedy of Israel’s experience of slavery and anticipates God’s triumph in the exodus.


PRAY TOGETHER

In a time of group prayer, ask the Father to help those of us who are suffering. Pray that they will have the faith to draw closer to Him through it, and ask that they will have the grace to be forgiving of those who have harmed them. Finally, ask that the Lord will keep us all from bitterness.




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

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

Proverbs 29:11

The question of how to deal with anger in a biblical way is an important one. But it’s certainly not the cookie-cutter answer many of us have heard. Have you ever had a moment where you said something in red-hot anger? Only to ask yourself moments later: “How could I say that?” Sadly, I’ve had far too many of these moments. And today’s devotional verse calls me out as acting like a “fool” who let anger control my words and actions. However, I don’t think the heart of this passage is to simply suppress anger or other negative emotions. It’s not about pretending like anger isn’t there. After all, psychologically speaking, shoving emotions aside doesn’t make them go away. Instead, it creates a tangled pile that will surface and need dealt with later.

So, what does the Bible teach us? He taught that everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to the same kind of judgment as a murderer (Matthew 5:20–21). And yet, he also chased predatory business people out of the synagogue with a whip (Matthew 21:12)!

HERE ARE THREE WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANGER BIBLICALLY:

1. Ask for the Holy Spirit to increase the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22–23). When we’re angry, it’s actually the quickest path to being pruned and prepared for incredible growth. And understand that we absolutely need the Holy Spirit’s power to mature us here!

2. Address the anger head on by making peace with the person or situation you’re angry with. Jesus teaches us that conflict is actually the path to peace (Matthew 18:15–17; Matthew 5:23–24). Lashing out and attacking is not the way Christians do conflict. But avoiding it altogether and seething in anger is unbiblical as well.

3. Ask if your anger is righteous and justified—which is sometimes the case. And if so, does it require action? Is there evil or injustice to confront? Someone who is weak to defend? If so, act! But don’t do so to give “vent to your spirit” just to make yourself feel better. Be angry, but do not sin (Psalm 4:4). Righteous anger is aligned with God. It’s being angry at what makes God angry.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Proverbs 22:24-25

Most of us are well aware that “bad company corrupts good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33) and we become who we are consistently with. When we come across verses such as these in Scripture, people’s faces flash through our mind’s eye. A name pops into our head, or we recall and replay a situation where we were wronged. However, the person’s face that rarely comes to mind is our own! Are you that man or woman “given to anger”? When you’ve had a bad day at the office, is it your spouse or kids who share in the day’s suffering because you lash out at them?

Don’t be fooled, being “given to anger” is undoubtedly a snare, but so too is constantly seeing others as the ones who need the fixing or the change. Don’t be a hypocrite, judge yourself by the same standard with which you judge others. It is easy to put the blame on others, when you might be the one with the short fuse. Don’t be known as another angry Christian to the world around you.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Hebrews 3:12-19

God speaks to all of us, but how we respond depends on the condition of our heart. Upon hearing the Lord’s voice, some believers are motivated to pursue a deeper and more obedient relationship with their Father. Others, however, resist or refuse Him because their heart has become less responsive.

A change in receptiveness may be difficult to recognize because it happens slowly and is often rationalized or excused. How do you respond when the Holy Spirit speaks to you through Scripture or some other means? Carefully consider the following characteristics of a developing callousness:

Insensitivity to what God says

Resistance to His authority

Disobedience to what the Lord is instructing you to do

Justification of sinful conduct

Rejection of reproof by others

Preoccupation with worldly things

Little interest in spiritual matters

Absence of private devotion (Bible reading and prayer)

Avoidance of gathering to worship with other believers

If you’ve discovered any of the above traits in your life, it’s not too late. Ask the Lord to mold your heart (Isa. 64:8; Jer. 24:7). Remember, He specializes in making all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17) and delights in our turning to Him.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans 14:7-12

In the New Testament, Lord is a commonly used title for Jesus Christ. Although it is rare to hear this term used in our daily life, there’s a similar word with which we are all quite familiar: boss. That’s basically what Lord means—one possessing authority. In the Word of God, Jesus is described as the head of the church, the ruler over all creation, and the Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Col. 1:15-18; Revelation 17:14).

Christ’s reign covers everything that happens in heaven and on the earth. No one—not even someone who denies His existence—is free of His rule or outside His authority. Although Satan tries to convince us that freedom is found in doing what we want, the only way to be truly free is through submission to Jesus Christ.

Have you submitted to His rule over your life? Jesus’ authority might cause anger or fear in those who haven’t yielded to Him. But we who have trusted in His goodness, surrendered to His authority, and experienced His lovingkindness take great comfort in knowing Him as the Lord of our life.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:46-49

Many churchgoers will be disheartened to learn that ministry work doesn’t reserve them a place in heaven. Good deeds mean nothing to God unless they are the outgrowth of a relationship with Him. It doesn’t matter how many acts of kindness or service a person has performed—only those who have received Jesus Christ will enter heaven.

The definition of believe often confuses church members who lack genuine faith. They believe in God, Jesus, and heaven. But there’s a difference between giving intellectual assent to an idea and spiritually acknowledging Christ as Savior. What we see in the Bible is that when someone truly comes to faith in Jesus, he or she changes. It’s impossible to remain the same after realizing one’s desperate need for Him. (See John 4:39.)

A desire for salvation begins with the recognition that we’ve sinned against God and there is no hope of salvation apart from Jesus. When we trust in His sacrifice for the payment of our sin debt, God promises to respond. If you desire to be in heaven with Him for eternity, ask yourself, Have I been saved? If not, now is the time.

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…


The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.

Proverbs 14:16

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