Christian Bible Lesson 155: Importance of friends

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:10

“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” – Job 6:14

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” – Job 42-10

“8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – I Peter 4:8-10

The Bible tells us that friendship can be the greatest source of joy, healing, love, and encouragement.  “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity” – Proverbs 17:17. 

Supporting friends can be challenging at times, but other times friendships can help us face major challenges and hardships.  If we expect our friends to support us during times of need, we must support those same friends when they need our support.  It is important to not judge whether a friend deserves your support, but to make sure you give needed support to all your friends, whether that support is your time, some of your possessions, or your finances.  When you set the example regarding how to support friends, treating people properly will spread to other people.  We can all contribute to making the world a better place.

Joan with her father

Joan is in her third year of high school.  She is working hard to be accepted by a major university.  Her family is a solid Christian family who attends church regularly.  Joan has many friends, mostly from her classes in high school.  Joan wants to be an engineer after she graduates college.  She is close to her family members, but even closer to a few of her friends. 

Halfway through her junior year, her best friend, Sarah, became very sick and missed one week of classes at a very bad time.  The mid-term exams were in five days, and she needed Joan’s help to prepare for them.  Joan had prepared for the exams early because she wanted to attend a rock concert.  Joan told Sarah that she was very sorry, but she pre-paid for the tickets and planned for that concert for a long time.  Joan told Sarah that she would try to find someone else to help her.  However, Joan did not take the time to find someone else and Sarah worked very hard but only did average on the exam. 

Joan felt bad for Sarah for a day or two, but she did not feel it was her responsibility to prepare Sarah.  A year later during Joan’s senior year, she needed a strong recommendation from a prominent engineer to help her get accepted to a top university that had engineering degrees.  She asked her friend Bob to help her.  Bob’s father was a very successful engineer and knew people who could recommend Joan. 

Bob kept telling Joan that his father was checking for her, but he never scheduled a call with anyone.  Joan was so upset.  She really wanted to attend that university.  She complained to her friends.  One of her friends, Bill, told her that she was in the same position as Bob a year ago.  He told her she could have helped Sarah, but she chose to go to a concert instead. 

Joan learned an important lesson about friendships.  Friendships are very important, and they should be given priority.  When Joan talked with mother about the two situations, her mother told her that it is important to be there for your friends, but not because you will need them someday, but because you care about them.  Joan thought about what her mother said and realized that she should have helped Sarah because Sarah needed her.  Sarah had to choose another university, but she was there for her friends every time could be the rest of her life.

Christian Bible Lesson Summary

Friends are very important.  We need to make a strong effort to support them when they need our help.  The reason we help our friends is because they need us, not because we wish to gain something. 

Christian Bible Lesson 154: Being Humble

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” – 1 Peter 5:6

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” – James 4:10

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. “ – Proverbs 11:2

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men ….” – Philippians 2:3-11

The Bible tells us that we should be humble and acknowledge the accomplishments of other people.  When we glorify the deeds of other people, we are advancing ourselves by doing what is right rather than what makes us look better.

When you focus on the good deeds of other people, you will gain the respect of other people over time.  People will notice your contributions and acknowledge those contributions without any effort from you.  Respect generated by other people is much more valuable than self-bragging regardless of the accomplishment. 

Focus on making other people look good and do not worry about your standing.  If you are doing right by other people, you will always gain the respect of other people without making a special effort.

Brady calling his brother

Brady is on the debating team for his college.  The team includes thirty-four college students who work together to support the entire group.  The team does individual debates with other colleges, and they enter regional contests that include many other colleges.  Brady wants to be a lawyer.  He was told by his high school teachers that participating on the debating team would help him develop the skills he needed to be a good lawyer.

Brady wanted as much acknowledgment as possible to help him when he applied for admission to law school.  When the debating team had meetings with the teachers who managed the team, Brady would always bring up points that he made during the previous debate.  He never acknowledged the strong points made by his teammates. 

When the time came to elect leaders of the group, Brady was not nominated for any of the leadership positions.  He did not understand why he was not acknowledged when he had contributed so much. 

He talked with his older brother about his status with the debating team.  After a long discussion, both boys agreed that Brady was not going to achieve his objectives with this debating group.  Brady’s brother made the point that Brady needed to do more than change colleges, he needed to change his approach to developing his skills.  He was only a freshman in college, so after switching colleges, he would have three years to make a new impression.

After Brady selected a new college and made the move during the summer, he began to think about his approach to the new opportunity.  The night before his first debating team meeting with the new college, he had a dream.  He did not remember the details of the dream, but he remembered the theme of the dream.  “Play for the team”  was the theme of his dream.  He thought about that theme for a couple of days and began to see the point.  He knew he needed to make a major change in his approach to the debating team.  He decided to focus his efforts on communicating the contributions of the other students and not mention his own accomplishments. 

Within a few weeks, Brady was very popular on the debating team, and he received more praise than he ever did at his previous college.   He was amazed at the difference in the way his fellow students treated him.  He applied this concept to the rest of his life.  He learned that by acknowledging other people and helping them, he would receive enough status without any bragging.

It is much better to be humble and allow other people to acknowledge our accomplishments than to brag.  When you do your best to help people, you are increasing your own value. Play for the team, not for yourself.

When we all work to help other people, we all benefit.

Christian Bible Lesson 153: Power of Unity

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:16-18

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:1-3

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12-14

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. “ – Ephesians 4:31-32

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:14

The Bible tells us that we are to live in harmony with each other even when others treat us poorly.  When someone mistreats you, that does not mean you should retaliate.  Do not lower yourself to the level of the person attacking you.  Instead, let them know you are sorry they are upset with you, and you will try to avoid causing them to be angry in the future. 

On some occasions, the other person will respond positively to your effort to reconcile with them.  If the other person continues to attack you, that is their problem; you should not lower yourself to respond to that person.

It is not easy to maintain your dignity and avoid striking back at those who wish you harm.  It takes strong self-control and the belief that God will always be with you.  After you experience the benefits of not responding negatively to other people, you will understand the power of unity and experience how God responds to you when you support him even when it is so challenging.

One of the parables from Jesus explains this concept.  The parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matthew 18:23-35:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had to be sold to repay the debt.

“At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he could pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

It is important that we always maintain unity with God, even when it is difficult for us.  We must be humble with our superiors and with those who serve us.  It is critical to always have unity before God.

Greg after dropping to the second string.

Greg played on his high school football team.  He was the quarterback and co-captain of the football team.  He worked hard at practices and during the games to stand out as a key player. He always wanted to earn a football scholarship to a major university and felt he needed as much credit for playing well as he could earn. 

During a key game, Greg threw a pass too quickly, and the other team intercepted the pass and won the game.  The coach had a talk with Greg after the game and let Greg know that he was considering putting him on the bench the next game because he was so careless.  Greg was very upset.  He told the coach that he would not let that happen again and he learned from his mistake.  The coach decided to give Greg another chance.

Then during the next game, Greg faced a key part of the game.  It was a key third down and the team needed a first down to maintain a chance to win the game.  Greg called a passing play to his tight end.  The tight end turned in the wrong direction and the pass just hit the ground.  The tight end accused Greg of calling the wrong play.  Greg was so angry at the tight end. In the huddle, Greg told the tight end that he would not pass to him again.   The tight end was upset and complained to the other players. 

The coach learned about the incident and immediately reduced Greg to second string because of the way Greg treated the other player.  The coach told Greg that he just gave him a second chance and then he would not help his own player after a mistake.  The coach told Greg that Greg wanted help from the coach, but Greg would not help another player.

Greg thought about the incident and realized that he was wrong and deserved to lose his position as the starting quarterback on the team.  Fortunately for Greg, he applied this experience to the rest of his life, and he made sure he treated everyone respectfully regardless of how they treated him.  He made sure he acted appropriately regardless of how others treated him.  

Greg did not earn a scholarship, but he worked his way through college and learned an important lesson that helped him for the rest of his life.

It is important to maintain your unity with God regardless of how other people treat you.  Sometimes people will take advantage of you and other times you will improve the situation by being respectful of someone who tried to hurt you.  Either way, it is important for you to maintain unity and not compromise yourself.  Always try to help other people.

Christian Bible Lesson 152: Integrity

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:3

“Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.” – Proverbs 28:6

“keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” – 1 Peter 3:16

“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” – Proverbs 12:22

“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” – 2 Corinthians 8:21

“Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” – Hebrews 13:18

It is important to maintain your integrity regardless of whether you are affecting others or not.  Sometimes after committing a dishonest act significant time passes without consequences, but then you are aware of your own behavior and sometimes the delayed effect is quite severe.

It is always better to suffer the immediate consequences of telling the truth rather than to worry about the later discovery of your behavior.  It is very painful to face your own deceit when presented by someone close to you.  It takes strength and character to admit to making a mistake or doing something that is wrong.  However, the act of taking responsibility for your actions builds strength in your character and helps others trust you more.

Christian Bible Lesson for Today

John calling his friends.

John is the middle-aged child of three children in his family.  He is a sophomore in high school.  He is a member of his high school football team.  Right now, it is the football season.  John has practices after school on Monday through Friday for three hours and then he has games on Saturday. 

John’s football team had a by-week on the third week of the season, so they did not have practice on Friday that week.  John went with a few of his friends to the beach that Friday.  He took his family’s CD player so his friends could listen to music at the beach.  John did not tell his parents that he took the CD player.  He knew his parents would not allow him to go to the beach without adult supervision.  While he was at the beach, the CD player blew over and was filled with sand.  John could not get the CD player to work.  He finally put the CD player in the trash and did not tell his family what happened.  He knew they would think he was at football practice. 

That weekend, John’s mother could not find the CD player.  She asked all three of the children if they knew what happened to the CD player.  They all said that they did not know.  John did not wish to let his mother know that he went to the beach without adult supervision.  Since his mother knew he had football practice on Fridays, she did not suspect him. 

John was very stressed from worrying about his parents discovering that he did not tell the truth.  He knew they would ground him and probably give him a spanking.  He was worried the entire next week. 

Then his parents went to his next football game.  They sat with other parents.  During the game, they learned that the football team did not practice the Friday that the CD player was lost.  His parents knew John lied to them. When everyone was home, his mother confronted him in front of the entire family.  She told him that she knew he lied about being at the practice and that he was with his friends at the beach.  She told him that when his father arrived home he would be punished. 

His mother told him that if he had told her that he wanted to go to the beach with his friends, he should have asked her, and she may have thought of an adult going as well.  Now he is humiliated, and he will suffer punishment. 

John regretted his actions.  He wished he had talked with his parents as soon as he knew he did not have practice that Friday.  Even if he did not go to the beach that Friday, it would have been much better than suffering the humiliation of lying to his family.  John understood his lack of judgment and committed to working hard not to make the same mistake in the future.

Christian Bible Lesson Summary

It takes strength and courage to have integrity during stressful times, but the result of not having to worry about the consequences of lying makes life much less stressful and allows you to focus on improving your life and helping others.   

Christian Bible Lesson 151: Beware of Money

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” – Ecclesiastes 5:10

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13-8

“Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.” – Psalms 37:16-17

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” – Proverbs 13:11

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

There is nothing wrong with working to achieve goals in life.  Working to earn an income to support your family and live comfortably is a noteworthy objective.  It is when accumulating large sums of money is the primary goal that people lose their way and live a life of greed and domination rather than a life of helping others and supporting a family beyond money.

Once money becomes the objective rather than meeting life’s challenges, a person loses their Christian Values of helping others and making the world a better place to live for everyone. 

It is noble to work hard and become successful, but when the accumulation of wealth is the objective rather than providing for your family and helping others, the effort becomes wicked.  In some cases, other people will suffer due to one person’s greed.

We must not make money our objective in life.  We must understand that money is just a part of our base to create a full life that generates support for our own family and other people.

Christian Bible Lesson for Today

Jack helping Sarah manage his company

Jack works hard to support his family. He earned his master’s degree in chemical engineering, and he started a successful business.  He came from a family that lived in a poor neighborhood and struggled to meet general family needs.

Jack was focused on making sure that his family never worried about basic needs and always had resources to travel and have a secure future.  Therefore, Jack worked many hours and did everything he could to make sure his customers were supported.  Jack spent nights and weekends making sure all his customers were supported. 

Jack focused on his investment accounts, making sure he was continuing to grow his net worth.  Jack had three children.  He had little time to spend with them because he was working so hard to provide for them.  Jack learned that his oldest son Bill was going to drop out of graduate school.  Jack asked Bill why he was leaving school.  Bill told his father that he did not wish to be like him.  In church, he learned that there was much more to life than earning money.   Bill told his father that he wanted to pursue a different life where he would think about his family and all the people around him.  Earning money would be part of what he did, but not the entire objective.  He did not want years to go by and not have anything but money to show for it.  Bill said he can make a good living with his undergraduate degree and have time to help his family members and friends enrich their lives.  Bill did not want a career that dominated life like the career his father had.

Jack was devastated by what his oldest son told him.  He never realized how much he missed by not participating with his family and friends.  Now he had a high balance in his bank account, but he missed being part of his children’s lives when they were growing.   He thought about all the times he told his family or friends that he could not participate in an activity because he had a chance to make more money with his business. 

Jack was devastated.  He promoted one of his staff members, Sarah, to take on some of his responsibilities with his company.  He immediately began spending more time with his family and he tried to develop friendships.   

Although he missed most of his family time, he was committed to doing everything he could with his time remaining to focus on his family and friends and not on his bank account.

Christian Bible Lesson Summary

We must focus on all our life, and not allow money to dominate our efforts.  Of course, it is important to earn enough money to support life for your family.  However, if you are not careful, it is possible to focus too much energy on earning money and not realize when you are losing important parts of your life.   If you are not committed to supporting your family, friends, and other people; you will have money and nothing else.

Christian Bible Lesson 150: Be Strong

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11

“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” – 2 Chronicles 15:7

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”– Psalm 27:14

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” – Proverbs 4:25-26

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

It is important for us to maintain our faith in God and be strong.  Sometimes we face situations that seem unmanageable, but we must control our emotions and apply our efforts toward addressing our challenges, not thinking about all the circumstances we cannot face. 

Regardless of how impossible some situations seem, when we face challenges that threaten ourselves or others, we must concentrate our minds on solutions, not on things out of our control.  Worrying about things out of our control will take energy from focusing on the work that we can do. 

It is very difficult to avoid focusing significant time on disasters instead of maintaining a focus on potential solutions.  It takes faith in God to trust that situations out of your control will be resolved, so you can focus on improving your situation and the disasters facing other people.

Brenda in her high school class.

Brenda is part of a strong Christian family.  She has a sister and a brother.  Her family lives in a middle-class home in the state of Kansas.  Brenda is a junior in high school.  She works very hard studying for her classes.  She wants to study at a good university and prepare for a career as a successful businessperson.  She is near the top of her class in school and has evaluated several universities that could help her prepare for her plan to be a high-level businessperson. 

Then suddenly, in late 2019, she was faced with the pandemic.  Her in-person classes stopped meeting.  Everyone seemed to be in a panic.  She had major challenges studying online with no in-person interaction.  She started getting depressed from not spending time with her friends and fellow students.  It was difficult for her to be motivated to prepare for her future study at the university.  Very quickly she fell behind in her studies and her depression began to control her. 

Brenda’s sister, Elaina, began to worry about her.  Elaina talked with Brenda about Brienda’s mood and how it was affecting her working toward future goals.  Elaina told Brenda that without question the pandemic caused major challenges and we all must learn to operate differently due to so many restrictions.  But she told Brenda that it does not help her to focus energy on all the restrictions and thoughts about how things were before the pandemic.  Elaina told Brenda that she must focus on her goals immediately.  Elaina told Brenda that she has a lot of talent that is still valuable, and Brenda must focus on the things she can do and not allow depression about what she can no longer do to control her productivity.   Elaina told her that being strong means continuing to pursue things that advance her toward her goals and working to help others find their way.  She reminded Brenda that we studied several lessons in Church that taught everyone to focus on the work they could do and trust God to help with the things they could not do. 

Brenda thought about what her sister told her.  She began to see her situation from a different view.  She realized that it did her no good to spend her time thinking about the things she could not control.  It was impossible to avoid those things completely, but if she focused her attention on the things she could address, not only would she make progress toward a workable situation, but she would feel much better about herself. 

Eventually, Brenda was able to study and develop her skills without being in a classroom.  She realized that adapting to new environments is part of growing and making her a better person.  She had so much more confidence in herself because she learned to be strong when things looked so desperate. 

During the times when we are the most desperate, is when we must be the strongest.  If we can be strong when we feel the most threatened, we will build a stable life that will endure.

Being strong will allow us to be helpful to so many other people.  All of us will benefit from the strength of one person.

Christian Bible Lesson 149: Control Emotions

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” – Proverbs 16:32

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”– Romans 8:6

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

It is easy to allow yourself to exaggerate the severity of challenges as you face them.  When you face unexpected hardships, pain, or suffering; the immediate reaction is to lose control of your emotions and feel fear due to your immediate thoughts.  Regardless of how severe the situation seems; it is always better to control your emotions and think clearly about your situation.  Frequently, the challenges we face seem much more severe initially than they do after we have time to review the entire situation.

Even when we do face frightening challenges, it is better to not allow our emotions to control our ability to think so we can properly address the situation.  It does not help the situation to ignore all our other priorities because the immediate challenge feels so disastrous.  It is important to maintain our train of thought regarding all important responsibilities while analyzing the current challenge. 

Of course, when faced with an immediate major challenge we must not ignore it, but we must not allow the situation to control our mood, our ability to address other challenges, and our reaction to other people.  In the end, we will have to address the challenge, but many factors may change which will cause us to have a different response. 

We must control our emotions when we face a major challenge and give ourselves the opportunity to evaluate options that address our entire situation. 

Christian Bible Lesson for Today

Greg with his wife Connie and her brother, Tom

Greg owns a large company that develops and supports software that supports companies that sell both through their website and at local stores.  When he started his business almost ten years ago, he worked hard to develop a strong base of customers that provided a stable income for his company.  He maintained a close relationship with those companies that purchased his software during the first two years of his company. 

Greg received a notice from two of his original customers that they were moving their software to a new software company.  Greg was devastated.  He could not think of anything else.  He began to think about his other customers and worry about them changing software companies.  Greg was not able to sleep at night.  He continued to think about his company going bankrupt. 

His wife, Connie, was very concerned about Greg.  She called her brother, Tom, and asked him to talk with Greg. 

Tom called Greg and arranged for them to meet for lunch.  During lunch, Tom immediately understood why his sister, Connie, was so concerned.  Greg was so depressed that he was unable to function normally.   

Tom and Greg attend the same church.  Tom told Greg to think about a church lesson from a few weeks earlier that talked about trusting God and continuing to work through major challenges.  Tom told Greg that he was doing exactly what the Church Lesson told him not to do.  He was so focused on the worst-case outcome that he did not take the time to do what needed to be done. 

Tom told Greg that he needed to focus on the success of his business and what he needed to do to maintain that success.  Then he needed to review how he was supporting his current customers and make any needed improvements.  Tom told Greg to make sure all his current customers are aware of how important they are.  Then he needs to talk with two customers who left his business.  He must make sure that he lets them know that he does not have any bad feelings for them, and he wants to make sure they know they can always call him if they need anything.   

Tom told Greg to focus on the things that will help his company, and not allow his depression about two companies to take all his time. 

Greg thought about everything Tom told him.  He did remember the Church Lesson and saw the wisdom in that lesson.  He realized Tom had some good points.  He immediately called all his good customers and identified several ways he could help them.  Then he talked with the two customers who started doing business with a competitor.  It turned out that the reason each left was because their business changed.  They both do much more manufacturing and Greg’s software only supported direct sales and web sales.  Greg was so relieved when he learned that the two companies did not go to another company because they did not like his company, they left because the requirements of their business changed.   Greg felt so much better.

After Greg thought about the entire situation, he realized that he should have taken the advice from the Church Lesson from the beginning.  He should not allow himself to be depressed about a situation and ignore it for the rest of his life.

Christian Bible Lesson Summary

It is important to not allow individual events to control your emotions.  Trust God to be there for you.  We will encounter major negative events in our lives, but we must continue to stay calm and support the rest of our lives while evaluating the major challenges. 

It does not help you to become so depressed that you are not able to address all parts of your life.  Control depression and work on the best solution.  You will help your own well-being and you will be available to support those people who need you.

Christian Bible Lesson 148: Gifts From God

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – 1 Peter 4:10

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;” – Romans 12:6

“ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”– Ephesians 2:8

“For this reason, I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” –  2 Timothy 1:6

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” – Ephesians 4:7

It is easy for us to stress about our life challenges and not be grateful for all the wonderful gifts we received from God at birth.  Sometimes we need to pause our concerns about our current challenges and be grateful that we are alive and have resources to pursue happiness for our family, friends, and fellow workers. 

Sometimes we are so focused on our current challenges that we do not take the time to reflect on how wonderful our life is.  Of course, it is challenging to experience temporary pain, financial challenges, or even the health of a loved one.  However, it is also important to reflect on the positive parts of your life.  Possibly you can think about your relationship with your spouse, brother or sister, and close friends.  If you live in a nice home located in a good neighborhood, that is something to make you happy. 

There are endless parts of your life that are positive and should help relieve the stress when you face major challenges that affect you or your family members or friends. 

Christian Bible Lesson for Today

John checking his company accounting.

John has a wife and two children.  He lives in a nice neighborhood.  He owns a company that provides a solid income for his family.  His life has been stable for the past few years. 

Then starting this year, he experienced a sequence of challenges.  First, in January his car stopped running in the Church Parking lot.  He called for a towing service, and it took several hours for him to get the car towed to a repair facility.  The repair facility let him know that his transmission needed to be replaced.  The cost was several thousand dollars. 

The next month, he lost two of his best customers.  The customers lost a lot of business from the pandemic and had to terminate their companies. 

Then he tripped on a sidewalk while he was doing his morning run and damaged his shoulder. 

His business started losing more money.  John became very depressed.  He could not believe everything had gone wrong in just a few months.  He prayed for help and pleaded to relieve his pain.  He felt like the world was against him.

Then John received a call from one of his best friends, Bill.  Bill was in the hospital with major heart failure.  Bill’s wife told John that Bill may not survive his surgery.  John went to the hospital to be with Bill’s wife during her time of crisis. 

Bill did recover from heart surgery, but his life will not be the same.  He will have to sell his company and he will not be able to do any physical work. 

John spent a lot of time thinking about his friend Bill.  John realized that he should not have been so depressed about his challenges this year.  During his prayer that night he thanked God for taking care of him and he committed not to allow himself to be so depressed over things that were not important to his overall life.  Her thanked God for all the good things in his life and mainly he thanked God for the talent God gave him.  He is committed not to allow temporary challenges to cause him to despair. 

Christian Bible Lesson Summary

It is so easy to be consumed with temporary challenges that are not major factors in your long-term life.  It is important to face challenges and do what is required to alleviate them, but not to allow temporary challenges to impact your overall life.

Be grateful for all that you have.  Appreciate all the gifts God gave you for as long as you live.  Help other people to appreciate the wonderful things about their lives.  We all received great gifts from God.

Christian Bible Lesson 147: Encourage Others

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” – Romans 15:2

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”– 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” –  Romans 15:5

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Of course, it is critical for us to always encourage ourselves to achieve those things that are important to us.  It is also important to encourage other people.  It is amazing how effective supporting other people can be.  Sometimes, an initial act of encouragement leads to life changes for people experiencing major challenges.  Frequently life changes lead to happiness for them and other people.

Also, it is important for us to encourage people we only know causally.  The long-term effect of helping people improve their lives adds value for all of us.

Rose with her professor

Rose studied very hard in high school to earn top grades and prepare for the SAT exams to enter a top university.  She always wanted to study journalism and become a leader in the news industry.

After gaining acceptance to one of the top universities in the country, Rose felt very good about her opportunities.  After she completed the first semester at the university, she realized that college required significantly more work than she had experienced.   She was determined to finish at the top of her class or near the top.  She did her best to look better than everyone else, especially to the professors.  She avoided the study groups because those groups helped the other students do well. 

When she responded to professors during a class session, she would make sure she did not share credit for any of her ideas with any of the other students.  When she observed traits from the professors, she would not share that information with any of the other students. 

During the first semester, her plan worked for her.  At the end of the semester, she finished near the top of her class.  However, during the second semester, she was not as successful.  The courses required more work creating documents and providing different views of specific news events.  The students that worked in groups were producing more comprehensive documents.  Rose quickly fell to the middle of the class because she did not have the variety in her documents that many of the other students had.  Rose realized that she was falling short of her life goals.  She became depressed. 

When she went home for a weekend, she spent time with her mother.  Rose explained the situation to her mother.  Her mother listened and then gave her strong feedback.  Her mother told her that she was raised as a strong Christian who believed in helping other people.  Her mother told her that her goal in excelling in journalism was to help other people learn the truth so they could apply that truth to their own lives.  Her mother told her that by deliberately trying to make herself look better than everyone else, she was defeating her own goals.  Her mother told her that she should help other people and not worry about her class standing if she wanted to be successful.  God’s plan is for us to help everyone be successful.  Her mother told her to join study groups and do everything she could to help the other students do well. 

Rose thought about her mother’s advice.  She did not like it at first, but then she thought about changing her goal from doing better than everyone else, to helping the other classmates.  She realized that she was not supporting her Christian ideals when she worked to make herself look better than others. 

Rose did not finish at the top of her class at the university, but she felt so good about helping so many other students achieve their goals.  As she worked through the university program, she began to do better and help other students at the same time.  She realized that the same concept of helping other people applied to everything in life, not just university. 

It is important for us to understand that we should encourage other people to be successful.  There will be times when other people will encourage us.  More importantly, we will all benefit from encouraging other people. 

When we encourage other people, we help everyone, including ourselves.

Christian Bible Lesson 146: Do not lose hope

“For surely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” – Romans 8:25

“ You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”– Psalm 119:114

“The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” –  Psalm 147:11

“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18

It is critical that we always maintain hope.  Sometimes situations seem impossible, but we must have the discipline to not allow our emotions to dictate our behavior.   We must use all the skills given to us and avoid fear, disappointment, or worry to control our behavior. 

When you are experiencing the most desperate of times, you need to focus on the good things in your life.  Understand how blessed you are just to be alive with resources that help you experience achievement, pleasure, and understanding. 

During those times when you feel the most desperate, helping someone else face the challenges in their life will help you feel better about your situation. 

Of course, you must address any immediate challenges that could cause you harm, but, when you have a moment to reflect on your entire life, think about all the good things in your life.  Be grateful that you are alive and have opportunities to grow and help other people.

Denise with her professor

Denise is a student at Michigan State University.  She will earn her undergraduate degree at the end of this term.  She worked very hard in high school and college.  Her goal is to become a scientist. She has always wanted to study the universe and how the Earth fits into God’s plan.  She is a strong Christian but believes she can learn about God’s plan by learning about the mysteries of the universe.  She worked hard her entire life to attend graduate school at Harvard University.  That was her plan since she was a sophomore in high school.  

She was accepted to Harvard Graduate School earlier this year.  She has been planning her move to Massachusetts for the past few months.  That is all she can think about. 

Then just a few months before she completed her work for her undergraduate degree at Michigan State, her father’s company lost a major lawsuit that caused his company to go bankrupt.  Their family lost everything including their house.  Her father did not have the funds to send her to Harvard.  She was devastated. 

Denise tried to apply for financial aid, but it was too late for the coming year.  She felt horrible for her father, but she could not stop feeling depressed about working so hard to go to Harvard, get accepted, and not being about to attend. 

Denise became so depressed that she was not able to focus on anything.  She continued to attend school during her last semester, but she was not motivated to do good work.  As a result, her grade point average dropped half a point. 

Denise had a close friend, Clara, who was very worried about her.  Clara talked with Denise.  She told Denise that there were so many good things about her life and that going to Harvard was not the only thing of value.  She had so many friends, and she graduated from Michigan State with honors.  She can apply to other graduate schools that offer financial support.  Clara told her that she needed to focus on the good things in her life. Clara told her to pray and ask for guidance.  She told her to be open and consider other opportunities. 

Denise thought about what Clara told her.  She decided to talk with one of her professors, George.  George was her favorite professor in college.  George told her that he had close friends at Stanford University.  He offered to contact them and see how they could help her financially. 

Denise began to feel better.  Although her number one goal in life was to attend Harvard Graduate School, she realized that her life was worth more than one goal.  The more she read about Stanford University, the more she wanted to learn.  She made a trip to California and visited the campus at Stanford.  She was able to meet with several professors from the Astronomy Department. 

A combination of her college documentation and the recommendations from her favorite professors combined with the fact that her family had no income because of the business failure, led to Stanford University offering Denise financial support.

The more Denise thought about Stanford, the more she realized that she was wrong to focus on one goal.  Life had so many opportunities and she needed to work hard and trust God to be there for her.  She should not allow one goal to derail her life.

We all think we know what we want to achieve in life.  Sometimes unexpected events cause us to fall short of those expectations.  It is important to continue to focus on improving your life and helping other people. Understand that your life has much more to offer than achieving one specific goal. 

Never lose hope.  When one opportunity fails to be there for you, immediately look for new opportunities.  You are never limited to one pursuit.  God is with you.