GET ACQUAINTED - Ask for volunteers to explain an attitude they once had and how it has changed.

·        The Bible speaks of (1) beliefs (ideas taken into one’s heart that govern his perception), (2) actions (what we do or don't do), (3) motives (why we do or not, what governs our actions, moves us), and (4) attitudes (how or in what spirit we go about doing or not doing, the disposition of our mind and heart toward God).  The manner in which we do a thing indicates our attitude or spirit at the time.

Write a description of Dt.14:22-15:18 focusing on attitudes.

Dt.14:22-27, In anticipation of bringing Israel into the land God directs His people each year to travel to the place where He has chosen "to make His name abide" and present a tithe of their produce.  If it is too far to travel with the tithe, the people could exchange goods for money and buy "whatever your heart desires."  They were to "eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household."  The families were to celebrate in the presence of God by eating a portion of the tithe in happy fellowship with the priests, Levites, and the poor.

Dt.15:1-11, in anticipation of Israel's occupation of the land, speaks of the forgiveness of debts every 7th year.  "You shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his needs, whatever he needs.  Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year of release is at hand,' and your eye be evil [cold, unloving, harsh] against your poor brother and you give him nothing [warning against yielding to greed]...You shall surely give to him and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him...'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and needy, in your land."

Dt.15:12-18 continues the same call to generosity for bondservants due to be released after their service period of 6 years.  "You shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress."  Then the reason or ground supporting these attitudes is given, "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you..."

In Dt.27:11-13, the tribes of Israel are divided to pronounce blessings and curses.  During the curses for disobedience, comes a remarkable judgment upon Israel's attitude.  What is wrong with it?  (Dt.28:47-48)
"Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything..."

What is Num.14:1-4 an account of?
Israel’s refusal to enter Canaan.  It was typical of their response to difficulties that arose during their 2 year journey across the wilderness (see Ex.16:2; 17:3).

Describe what Dt.1:26-33 is about, noting the people's attitude and reasons for it.
Moses recounts the incident in Num.14:1-4 and speaks of the people’s contrary attitude by saying what was really in their heart, “because the Lord hates us, He brought us...[here] to destroy us” (v.27).  They construed God’s intent as evil.  In spite of all that God had done to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, they did not believe God (v.32).  To put it another way, they did not believe in or trust God so they construed their circumstances in a negative way.  Ps.106:24-25 comments, “They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word” (v.24).

What did Moses understand about the people’s reaction to him (Ex.17:2-3)?    Their complaints were really accusations against or challenges to God, “Why do you contend with me?  Why do you tempt the Lord"? (see Ps.78:5-12, 17-19, 22, 40-42, 56-59)

What do Heb.3 & 4 comment on and how does it relate to us?    The “rebellion,” “the day of trial” refers to the 40 years God was provoked as Israel wandered in the wilderness after being brought out of Egypt (3:16b-17).  They were not allowed to enter His rest (3:11).  Christ’s household are those who "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (3:6), speaking of our faith (4:1-3a).

Compare Dt.8:2-5, 14-17 with 1 Thes.2:2-4.
As it was with Israel (God tested them through difficulties, Dt.8:2-5, 14-17, so it is with us.  “It is God who tests our hearts” (1 Thes.2:2-4).

GO OVER >> Ps.119: “before I was afflicted,” v.67; “it is good that I have been afflicted,” v.71; “in faithfulness You have afflicted me,” v.75).

Fill in the passage references.    “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you ... but rejoice...that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Pt.4:12-13).  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (Jas.1:2).  “And you became followers of us and of the Lord having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thes.1:6).  Rejoice when you are mistreated for Jesus sake (Mt.5:12) as the apostles did (Acts 5:41).

Everything God does and allows has a good reason and a good purpose.  As we wait for the Lord and the completion of our redemption, we often “do not know what we should pray for as we ought” (Rom.8:26), but we do know that He works all things “together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v.28).

·        We know for sure two things about the events and circumstances of our lives: (1) the consequences of sin and the evil that is in the world will touch us all in various ways, “In the world you will have tribulation” (Jn.16:33a); but (2), nothing "has the power to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.8:31-39).  The whole picture liberates us to place a positive construction upon the events and circumstances of our lives (ie, to construe them in a positive way in favor of God's good intent as opposed to being angry with Him and imagining that He enjoys our suffering) because "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us," (8:37) “nevertheless be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn.16:33b)

What does Phil.2:1-18 confronts us with?    The spirit by which we are to approach all of life.

Comment on the following verses accordingly.    Our disposition is to be “like-minded” as Christ (v.2-3, 5) having a spirit of humility (v.3-8), the opposite of attitudes of pride and conceit (v.3).  Paul says that it is up to us to set our heart to live in the light of our redemption, “work out your own salvation,” v.12b [perseverance of the saints].

[“With fear and trembling” (12b) is a warning of the seriousness with which we are to work at this.  It is the equivalent to “beware” in the Old Testament.  “Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear1 Pt.1:17.]

God’s work in us, v.13 [preservation of the saints], is toward transforming us into (“that you may become,” v.14) people having the character of His children (v.15), from an old man with his sordid life (one of the “crooked and perverse generation,” see Rom.6:6) into a new man starting off clean as a young child (“blameless and innocent,” v.15).  And, what is it that characterizes us, noticeably sets us apart from our old life and the rest of humanity?  We have a different spirit.  We “do all things without grumbling and arguing” (v.14).  This is a way of stating in negative terms living and maintaining a grateful and hopeful disposition no matter what, founded upon our redemption (v.16).  I find it helpful to begin and end each day by giving thanks to God for His work and blessing Him (“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thes.5:16-18).  There is rejoicing and gladness (v.18).

Personal Illustration - Many years ago, my boss used a number of adjectives that exactly described my negative, sultry attitude at work.  It was obvious that he had rehearsed his comments and that he had been praying about it.  I realized that God had so blessed me in Christ that I had no reason to be negative, and from that day I decided to go to work each day with a grateful heart and maintain a joyful spirit.  And by God’s grace, I did.  We have a real foundation for optimism and cheerfulness.  Every once in a while the old discontent begins to surface, so I have a little talk with myself.  I remind myself of the huge thing God did for me in opening my eyes to the Gospel, of forgiveness and righteousness before Him.  My life changed and I bless God as a regular natural part of secret worship.

·         Though translations may vary, there are 3 concepts we can use to hang our “how to” on: KNOW; REMEMBER; UNDERSTAND.  The knowledge God gives us comes in the form of instruction and personal experience interpreted by propositional truth, revelation.  It is this knowledge that we are to learn, teach, and remember.  Remembering implies doing (obeying) and necessitates keeping the knowledge fresh in our thoughts.  This knowledge is intended to mature and lead to understanding.  Understanding means: making sense of the facts (knowledge); integrating facts so explanations and purposes are revealed (why); putting together what (and sometimes how) with why; making sense of the facts so we realize what they mean and how important they are.  The secret of “how to” is maintaining awareness of (remembering) my redemption in Christ by constantly living in light of it.

·        A true believer is deliberate in following Christ.

Further Study

KNOWING - 2 Pt.1:2-9; 2:20; 3:17-18  What does “life” in 1:3 refer to?    New nature

REMEMBERING - 2 Pt.1:12-18; 3:1-2, 8

UNDERSTANDING - 2 Pt.3:16b; Lk.24:45

[see Attitude, a Bible Study]