Study 10: Facing the future

A crossroads presents us with a difficult choice. Do we turn to the right or to the left, move straight on or do we retrace our steps?
earth handsSpiritually speaking we will arrive at the crossroads from time   to time - perhaps more frequently than we might be prepared to admit. If our faith is dynamic, growing and reflective we should expect those "stop, look, listen and move on" moments: we might even come to welcome them.

Stopping causes us to re-evaluate our priorities and to (perhaps) re-orientate our direction of travel. It's an opportunity to renew our communication with God if it's been a bit fitful, as well as to reconsider and even restate our key goals and purposes.  God is always doing a new work in the lives of those who commit to following Him but He delivers that in the tried and trusted ways and with the everlasting love that reflects His true nature.

Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world. (John Piper

Vision is the bridge between the present and the future. Without it we perish or go “unrestrained,” as the New American Standard Bible puts it. Vision gives pain a purpose. Those without vision spend their lives taking the path of least resistance … avoiding discomfort. The level of sacrifice that a vision requires will determine the size of people who follow. Sacrifice separates the small from the great. (

Please read Jeremiah 6 verses 1 to 17. What point is God making in this passage? What aspect of God’s word stands out to you?

To think about:

  1. What things have to be in place for us to move on (practically and/or spiritually)?
  2. How do the two quotes (from John Piper and Jesus Culture) help you to understand the nature of vision?
  3. Why is it tempting to look for the path of least resistance?

Israel in Jeremiah’s time was at a crossroads. They were disobedient: they were now on the receiving end of judgement and would remain in exile for a lifetime – 70 years.  As can so easily happen today, they found it hard to see things from God’s perspective, seeing His reaction to their disobedience as being less than fair. Although God had made it perfectly clear in ways they could easily understand, they just wouldn’t listen (verse 17). This is common to everyone who sins.

Sticking to the tried and tested

  1. What picture do verses 1 to 8 paint of God’s attitude to Jerusalem? How does this reflect His rejection of sin and the consequences of selfish behaviour?
  2. “Peace … when there is no peace.” Why is peace so essential to the life of a nation and the outlook of an individual?
  3. Verse 16 outlines what a sinful nation/people have to do to return to God. There are 4 actions here – Stand, look, ask, walk:’ which of these is hardest for us to do? Why is that?
  4. What are the ancient paths referred to in verse 16? How might we walk in those ways?
  5. How might we use this passage to challenge culture and/or to support an individual who wants to deal with their sin?

Israel would ultimately return to their own land and rebuild Jerusalem, the Holy City. It would, however, be a lifetime in exile where they would grow up (and even die) under secular Babylonian rule. In such circumstances it can be very hard to keep your faith alive, reflecting both what you believe in and how you behave as a result.

Please read Ezekiel 36 verses 24 to 38.

Ezekiel’s prophecies overlap with Jeremiah’s ministry (593 -573 BC [E] as opposed to 640- 586 BC [J]). In Ezekiel’s later prophecies there are the green shots of hope through revival yet the need to remain faithful to God (especially national leaders see chapter 34), remains a strong theme.

Spiritual heart transplants

  1. How do these verses describe the restoration of Israel?
  2. What will this say to the surrounding nations (verse 36)?
  3. What vital transformation does God bring about in the personal life of his people? (verses 25 to 27)
  4. Where will we find (do we find) that transformation in the lives of Christian believers today?
  5. How would you describe the person and work of God’s Spirit to someone who is a new believer and keen to work out what their faith means and involves?