Taking Shortcuts

Memory Verse

Proverb 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

Introduction

Have you ever tried to take a shortcut that turned out to be a wrong turn?  What about in real life?  Did you use Cliff’s notes to write a paper, only to discover that you missed out on an important detail only printed in the original book?  Did you tell a white lie in order to get out of trouble, and later have to face the full blown truth?  There are so many shortcuts we take in life that end up being bad decisions: Having an affair, instead of working on your marriage; Giving up on a faltering friendship; Yelling at your children instead of taking the time to address the issue; Speeding; Diet pills; Credit card debt.

They’re all shortcuts.

What about in your spiritual life?  God tells us what we need to do, but we often try to do it our own way, or we give up part way through.  When God tells to do something, he usually has in mind how he wants us to accomplish the task.

God has made it clear that I am to be reading his word every day.  On the days when I don’t, I find myself more irritable and less merciful toward my kids.  I need that time with God each day, and he knows this!  He wants me to be consistent.  It is for my own good, as well as for his glory, that he asks me to do this.

Discussion

What shortcuts have you taken in life?  How did they turn out?  Why is it tempting to take shortcuts?

Read

Numbers 20:2-13

Questions

What exactly did God command Moses to do?

What did Moses do?

How does this show a lack of faith?

We often get comfortable in our lifestyles.  We get in a rut.  We rely on our past experiences as predictors for the future, when that might not be the case.  Moses was obviously remembering an earlier time in Exodus 17 when God had asked him to hit the rock for water to come out.  This time, he hit the rock again, even though God asked him to simply speak to the rock.  Moses demonstrated his lack of faith by not trusting that God would bring water if he spoke to the rock.

What was the consequence of this action?

That seems like a severe consequence, doesn’t it?  According to Numbers 12:3, “…Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  I can imagine that the Israelites knew this, and were very watchful of his ways.  So when he disobeyed God, God needed to make sure that the people knew it was wrong.  He chose a consequence that nobody could forget:  Moses, the very person God had used to take them from Pharaoh’s hand, and to bring them all of his laws, decrees and rituals, and to lead them through the desert as they headed for the Promised Land—that very same Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Harsh.  But necessary.

What are some of God’s rules that seem the hardest to follow?

In what ways do people tend to cheat on these rules?

We’ve all heard a mother say, “Don’t touch that,” only to have the child reach out and put their finger just barely away from the forbidden object.  Or sometimes she will touch it just one more time before giggling and dashing out of the room.  Or, even more, she touches the object repeatedly until she gets into trouble, and then cries hysterically over the punishment.

Have you experienced this before?  What did your child do?

What do you really want your child to do?

What is something that you personally struggle with obeying completely?

What is one way you’ve tried to cheat on obeying this?

What is God asking you to do?

Write this in your journal to pray about it later.

Conclusion

Our memory verse is Proverb 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  We have the freedom to make plans in our lives.  Sometimes God will approve of our plan, and sometimes he will refuse the plan.  We may not know at first!  But if we obey God and allow him to determine each step we make, we can be sure that he will either take us through the plan (implying that it is a good one), or lead us away from it (if it is a bad plan).  In order to do this, we have to be in full obedience to what God is telling us on a daily basis.

When we don’t completely obey God, we disobey him.  Sometimes it causes us to miss out on a tremendous blessing, like Moses not being able to enter the Promised Land.  Other times it means we don’t see God’s direction as well in our lives.  Either way, we need trust that when God wants something from us that he wants it done his way.  We will find in every circumstance that God’s way is the best way and the right way.

Life Application

What is something that God is asking you to do, that you have been hesitant to obey?  Write it in your journal and pray over it.  Then take the next step of obedience, and know that God will provide for all of your needs.

Further Study

Deuteronomy 4:1-14  What is God warning them to do (v. 1 and 6)?  What else does he instruct them to do in the end of verse 9?

1 Samuel 15:22-23  What do you think these verses mean?  You could go to church and do bible studies, but then still disobey God.  What does the middle of verse 22 say?  The verses were being spoken to King Saul, who had disobeyed God.  What did God take away from him in verse 23?

To view a printable version of this document, click Taking Shortcuts PDF.

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