“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:6, 7, NKJV).
[Thought questions for Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change September 4, 2013]
1. The gift of grace. Without grace, could we ever experience the joy of eternity with God? Why is that? Is spiritual revival a one-time event in the Christian’s life? Or can we be transplanted by grace into the heart of God more than once? Is it fair to say that reformation is based on revival? Or that revival becomes reformation? Why doesn’t God accept us as we are without requiring a reformation? Or does He?
2. Change of character. Would the New Testament story be as rich as it is without describing the total surrender to God of James and John as told in Scripture? Have you ever set forth to eliminate certain faults you feel you have only to find them back in full force a little later? Is God still willing to save us even when we slip and let one or more of our faults take over? How can we be sure?
3. Power to choose. Think about the last time you were faced with a choice between good and evil. Was it easy to make the choice? What do you need in you in order for a choice for the right to be a natural choice for you? Or is that possible this side of heaven? Wouldn’t it be better if God would give us an electronic signal of some kind telling us when we should go this way or that? Instead of electrons, what power does God give us to make the right decision?
4. Confidence versus doubt. Do you ever get a sick feeling when you read the story of Peter denying His Lord? How could he do that? Didn’t he love Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus his best friend? What brought him back to his Lord? How was it possible for Peter to persuade 3,000 people to be baptized after his sermon on Pentecost? Can you or I deny Jesus by careless words? by unhealthful habits? by losing our temper? What is the solution?
5. The prodigal returns. What did using up all of his money and other possessions have to do with the prodigal son’s decision to go back to his father? Why did the father embrace his son as if he had done no wrong? Why didn’t he give his son a one-two lecture about behaving properly? Didn’t the son deserve a rich scolding? Will God give us the punishment we deserve for disobeying Him? Are you sure?
6. Faith to act. Do you ever ask someone a question when you know the answer? Give an example. What question did Jesus ask when He came to the man in pain at the pool of Bethesda? Why did Jesus take the time to ask a question with an obvious answer? Why do you think the discussion ended there? What did Jesus tell the man to do? Could the sick man have obeyed God’s command if he hadn’t been healed? How do we know he believed God’s word? Does God ever deal with us this way?
7. Do we save ourselves? What do you and I need to do to obtain salvation? How much work must we do? If we give ourselves totally to God, what will our new attitude be towards His works and His words? How can we love God so much that when we obey Him we are merely carrying out our own wishes? Have you reached that point in your spiritual life?
8. Unfulfilled promises. Think about the last time you promised God a change in your behavior and it didn’t happen. Or a promise you made to someone you love indicating you were changing your ways but you stayed the same. Have you ever felt like Peter after making such promises? Does God hold the door open for you even so? Is His invitation still current? Even after you have sinned? Knowingly so? Think about this.