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SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« on: January 12, 2018, 03:58:35 PM »
Lesson 3 January 13-19

God or Mammon?

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 01:56:28 PM »
Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Ps. 33:6-9; Matt. 19:16-22; 1 Pet. 1:18; Heb. 2:14, 15; Exod. 9:14; Ps. 50:10.

Memory Text: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

God does not waste words explaining His perspective on excessive obsession with money and material things. Christ’s words to the greedy rich man who, though blessed by the Lord, hoarded and hoarded what he had, should put the fear of God in us all:  "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:20, 21.

Serving God and serving money are mutually exclusive actions. It’s one or the other, God or mammon. It is a fantasy to think we can have it both ways because living a double life will sooner or later catch up to us. We might fool others, maybe even ourselves, but not God, to whom we will one day have to give an account.

We have to make a choice, and the longer we hesitate, make excuses, or procrastinate, the stronger the hold that money and the love of money will exert on our soul. Faith requires a decision.

What should make our decision so much easier is focusing on who God is, what He has done for us, and what we owe Him.

Amen. If we do this, then it is called living for Christ, or in other words, having made a full surrender to Him who gave all for us. Thus, we come face to face with the great deception Satan has brought into God's church. We think we have life when we sin, when we do not. Let's look at the issue brought forward in the last statement in our lesson.

"We have to make a choice, and the longer we hesitate, make excuses, or procrastinate, the stronger the hold that money and the love of money will exert on our soul. Faith requires a decision."

Amen!  But, the decision is not what to do with our resources God has entrusted to us, but we have a decision to make each day. In the morning when we wake up, what decision must we make? Let's say that we really were converted when we went to bed. Now, when we awake, are we going to decide properly what to do with our "money"?  Maybe, but probably not. Why not? Because we are selfish by nature, why would we give up what we worked hard to get? Then, what is the answer? What must I do when I wake up?

This is Bible 101. But, sadly, many don't know the answer, and if they do, many do not do it. What is the answer, and why is it so much a secret in the church? Give our Sabbagth School readers a Bible text or as many as you want that answers the question what must I do when I awake in the morning if I want to make an uselfish decistion as to what to do with my money, car, and home? More important that all that, what will I do this day with my time?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 01:57:34 PM »

Sunday January 14

Christ, the Creator

Read Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6-9; Isaiah 45:11, 12; Jeremiah 51:15; and John 1:3.

 1:1   In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 

 33:6   By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 
 33:7   He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. 
 33:8   Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 
 33:9   For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast. 

 45:11   Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. 
 45:12   I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, [even] my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. 

 51:15   He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. 

1:3   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

What do these texts tell us about the goodness of the material world?

These verses surely tell us who made the Earth, but we miss the vereses that tell us His work was good, even though we know all God does is Good! Genesis 1:10,12,18,21 and 25 tell us His work was good. Verse 31 tells us His work was very good.

“It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. ‘His strength setteth fast the mountains.’ ‘The sea is His, and He made it.’ Ps. 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.” - Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 20.

Material things, in and of themselves, are not evil. Unlike some religions, which teach that the material world and matter itself are bad or evil and that only spiritual things are good, the Bible values the material world.

At least things God has made. Some things that man makes are not good. Even though God sends the rain and sun down to bless man, he then makes beer and wine which is not good. We are given the Sabbath, not to admire the things man has made, but the things God has made.

After all, Jesus Himself created it. How, then, could it be evil? It can, unfortunately, as with all of God’s gifts, be perverted and used for evil, but that does not make the original gift evil. The Bible warns against abuse and perversion of the things that God has created in this world, but not against the things themselves.

On the contrary, God created the material world, and He wanted His people to enjoy the fruit and benefits of this world as well: “And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you” (Deut. 26:11; see also Deut. 14:26).

Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-3), and the earth is a mere sample of what He has made. His creative ability gives Him a unique perspective on life itself and those who live on it. He knows the value of material things, and knows that He gave them to us for our benefit, and even for our enjoyment. He knows, too, what happens when humanity perverts those gifts, or even makes the gifts an end in themselves, when, as with all things, they were meant to be used to glorify God.

Look around at the incredible bounties of the created world. Even after the ravages of sin, we can still see the inherent goodness in so much of it. What does the created world, in its goodness, tell us about the goodness of its Maker?

It reveals His love for us and His creative power for good. Both are more important for us than for Adam in holy flesh. Why?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 01:59:13 PM »
Monday January 15

Son of God/Son of Man

As Christians, we believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human. This union of the Divine and humanity makes His perspective unique as to what is important on earth and important for eternity. That we can’t understand how He could have a divine/human nature doesn’t nullify this truth any more than someone’s lack of understanding about aerodynamics could cause an airplane not to fly.

While we cannot be God, we can become a partaker of God's divine nature. How can that happen? Does it then give us a unique perspective on what is really important? Why can we see more clearly when we have the Holy Spirit indwelling the heart?

“Here are two mysteries for the price of one - the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.” - J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1973), p. 53.

Well.....I would tend to disagree. There is nothing so revealing of God's character as this, allowing His innocent Son to come to this dark spot in the universe, a helpless babe subject the weakness of humanity, and having to fight the battle of life at the risk of failure and eternal loss. J.I. Packer misses the greatest miracle of all, that God could create man from the dust of the ground is amazing, but how about recreating sinful man into His image (character)? The union of God and man does not only exist in Christ, but in all who will submit the whole heart to Christ. Jesus will abide in humanity, in you, and in me. Why would J.I. leave this unsaid? Is it not the greatest miracle of all? We do not find it strange that our God would sacrifice His Son, not after we know Him. But, that He could transform me, a great sinner into His image is rather unbelievable. But, I see it in others, and the Bible tells me so. I believe it. Miracle of all miracles, Christ in you the hope of glory!

One reason Jesus came to this world was to show us just how loving and caring God is and how much He cares for each of us. Far from being some cold and distant deity, as some believed, Jesus revealed our heavenly Father’s true character.

Satan, however, has tried to separate humans from God.

He did separate humans from God in the Garden. And, when we come into this world, we come in separated from God unless our parents are truly converted. And, even then we must still  be converted when we are able to understand. We must be reconciled to God through conversion. We have no power to do good until we are converted.

He has tried to depersonalize Him, characterizing Him as someone who doesn’t care about us. He does all that he can, through whatever means possible, to keep us away from knowing and experiencing the reality of God’s goodness and grace. An inordinate love of material things works well as one of Satan’s ploys to achieve this end.

But, we must understand why it works. If we do not know God, then who can feed us, who can clothe us, who can protect us? How can we do as Jesus did, living for others, when we do not know God and His promises. This is how Satan keeps man in the dark. He attempts to pervert the character of our God. Such as bringing into the church that during man's life of 70 years, if he does not accept Christ, he will burn for eternity in hell.

He also brings decoys into the church to misrepresent God and His truth. He brings into the church false teachers who pervert the gospel. Look at Israel, and how successful he was in perverting he truth. He has not been resting for the last 2,000 years. His deceptions are even more successful today.

Read Matthew 19:16-22.

19:16   And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 
 19:17   And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 
 19:18   He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 
 19:19   Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
 19:20   The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 
 19:21   Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. 
 19:22   But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 

What does this story tell about how Satan can use our love of material things to keep us distant from the Lord?

What if the young man had been converted as a child, and he maintained his connection with God, would he then value his possessions greater than God? Of course not. He would have been living for God not for himself. We are dependent upon that connection with Christ in order to be protected from sin and selfishness. Is there a Bible verse to support this thought?

Imagine Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, speaking to this young man who obviously knew Jesus was somebody special. And yet what happened? He allowed his great wealth, his love of material things, to separate him from the very person of God Himself.

No, he was already separated from God. If he had been connected with Christ, he would have sold all he had.

The love of the world and of material things so blinded him that even though he was sad, that sadness wasn’t enough to make him do the right thing. He wasn’t sad because he was losing his possessions (he wasn’t). He was sad because he was losing his soul over those things.

Whether we are rich or poor, how can we make sure we keep the right relationship to the things of this world?

The answer is always the same. I wish that the lesson instead of leaving the questions unanswered, they would teach the truth as to our continual need of Jesus in order to do any good thing. And, how it is that we are converted and how it is that we can maintain that connection with Christ. It is not good enough to tell Nicodemus he needed to be converted, but Jesus told him how to be converted. What must Nicodemus have done, and what is it that we must do in order to have a right relationship to the things in this world?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 08:13:43 AM »
Tuesday January 16

Christ, the Redeemer

Debt is not a principle of heaven. But Adam and Eve sinned, and a broken law meant death. Thus, humanity became debtors to divine justice. We were bankrupt, spiritually insolvent from a debt that we could never repay.

Amen. Worse than that, the sin which caused death, continued on. Man had no power to resist sin apart from God. Sinful man, Adam and his posterity, were and are aligned with sin and Satan. What hope is there even if forgiven, we continue to sin? The wages of one known sin is death. O wretched are we, what can save us from our wicked bodies of sin? That is not the correct question. It ought to be "who can save us from our sinful flesh?" See Romans 7:24.

Of course Saul (Paul) thought he was already keeping the commandments and saved in God's kingdom. But, we know that the good Pharisee that he was, he was only a "whited sepulcher," shiny white and clean on the outside, but putrid and rotting on the inside. He was a Laodicean. He thought he was rich and increased with goods because he was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a leader in Israel, God's chosen people, entrusted with the sacred oracles of God. But, he knew not that he was miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked. When he discovered he was sin itself, he attempted to do what was right, but in and of himself, he came to understand he could not do that which he ought to do, and did that which he ought not do. He discovered a law working in his flesh, warring against the law of his mind, which wanted to do good, bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his flesh. See Romans 7:23.

So, the debt we owe for past sins continues on and on and on, unless we quit sinning. O what a problem!! What can I do? I am evil by nature and captive to sin in my flesh. I am in bondage to sin. Even if I repent, I will sin again and will be condemned again. O wretched man that I am. Who can save me, Who can deliver me from my evil body of flesh?

God’s love for us set in motion the plan of redemption. Jesus became a “surety” for us (Heb. 7:22). It is Christ’s identity as the Redeemer that reveals the most important transaction ever made. Only the sacrifice of His life could accomplish the required payment of divine justice. Jesus paid the debt of sin that we owed as justice and mercy embraced at the cross. The universe had never seen or witnessed the display of such wealth as was used in the payment for the redemption of humankind (Eph. 5:2).

“By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being.” - Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 326.

Read each text and list what Christ has saved us from: Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:18; Heb. 2:14, 15; Gal. 3:13; Rev. 1:5.

 1:13   Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: 
 1:10   And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 
 1:18   Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 
 2:14   Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 
 2:15   And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 
 3:13   Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: 
 1:5   And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 

The Greek word tetelestai in John 19:30 has been called the most important word ever spoken. It means “It is finished,” and is the last utterance Jesus made on the cross. His final declaration meant that His mission was accomplished and our debt was “paid in full.” He did not utter it as one with no hope but as one who succeeded in the redemption of a lost world. Looking at the cross of redemption reveals a past event with a present effect and a future hope. Jesus gave His life to destroy sin, death, and the works of the devil once and for all. This means that although undeserving, we are redeemed (Eph. 1:7). To glimpse the wonders of salvation is to tread holy ground.

Christ as the Redeemer is the most sublime image of God. His supreme interest is to redeem us. This reveals His perspective toward humanity and especially how He values a relationship with us. With justice satisfied, Christ turns His attention to our response to His sacrifice.

Think about it: Christ paid the debt, fully and completely, for all the evil you have ever done. What must your response be? (See Job 42:5, 6.)

 42:5   I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 
 42:6   Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes. 

I like these two verses in todays lesson. But, we have two problems in the church in making a correct application with them.

First, we read and hear for years that Job never sinned. If he never sinned after Satan touched his flesh, then why repent? If self righteousness is not sin, then we who believe this are in deep trouble.

Secondly, even if Job did repent, what do we understand repentance to be? What is true repentance? Is there a radical transformation in the life when one truly repents? Or does the repentant sinner go on sinning?

The author of our lesson is going to have to overcome years of false gospels being taught in the church if he wants church members to be unselfish and put their money where their hearts are supposed to be. Many do not know they have not given the whole heart to Christ. They believe they are rich and increased with goods, but know not they are condemned by having not repented of their last sin. Or if they have repented, as many believe, their repentance often has to be repented of. That is to say there are two repentances. "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." 2 Cor. 7:9,10.

How can we tell the difference? What caused the repentance is probably the best way. Was the motive because you hurt Jesus? Was it godly sorrow over having crucified Him afresh? If not, then you need to repent of a false repentance. Another way to tell, is if you continue to sin the same sin. True repentance brings forth a reformation in the life. It does not mean we never repeat the sin, but that when we maintain our surrender of the whole heart to Christ, we do not sin. Just after true conversion, it can be very rocky, since many know not that they need to continue their faith in Jesus. If we let the mind wander away from Jesus, we end up in the water just as Peter did when he took his eyes off of Jesus. We cannot resist the smallest temptation to sin if we are not vitally connected with Christ, any more than a light can shine when disconnected from the power supply.

If we are truly forgiven, because we are truly repentant, then the heart has been cleansed also. Then the repentant sinner will live for Christ, not for self, as long as that full heart surrender is maintained.

If the author is attempting to get us to be good stewards, then he is going to have to preach the gospel of grace. For it is only grace that can transform a sinner into a saint (one who puts his money in heaven). The heart must first be purified (converted) if all of the Christian's possessions are going to be placed on the altar. A Laodicean is not going to sacrifice everything for God.

Then, it is incumbent upon the teacher to reveal how it is that the Laodicean can come to the point of full surrender. Since it is the message Jesus has for our church, we ought to know it. In that message we are told what we must do in order to saved.
And, we might mention that in the message to the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14-22) Jesus tells us as a people to "repent".

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 3--1st Quarter 2018--God or Mammon?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 08:45:29 AM »
Wednesday January 17

A Jealous God

In His confrontation with Pharaoh, God declared, “For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that [there is] none like me in all the earth.” Exod. 9:14.

What did the Lord mean when He said that “there is none like Me in all the earth”?

“It is impossible for the finite minds of men to fully comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One. To the keenest intellect, to the most powerful and highly educated mind, that holy Being must ever remain clothed in mystery.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 698, 699.

God has no equal (1 Kings 8:60). He thinks, remembers, and acts in ways we do not comprehend. No matter what attempts we try to make Him into our own image, God remains God. He is the One who made every snowflake, brain, face, and individual characteristic unique, and “there is none else” (1 Kings 8:60). After all, He is the Creator, and as Creator He is certainly distinct from His creation.

What do these texts tell us about how different God is from His creation? 1 Sam. 2:2; Ps. 86:8; Isa. 55:8, 9; Jer. 10:10; Titus 1:2.

When we look at all that God is, all that He possesses, and all that He does, it’s remarkable that He could have competitors. And yet He does, in the sense He has to “compete” for human love and affection. Maybe that’s why He says that He is a “jealous” God (Exod. 34:14). God created humans to be free, which means we have the option to serve Him or to serve anything else. That has been, in many ways, the essential human problem: choosing to serve other gods, regardless of what form they come in, as opposed to serving the only God worth serving, the One who created and possesses all the universe. That’s why then that He is indeed a jealous God.

"The essential human problem." What is the essential human problem? We need to spell it out so that we understand our need, our continual need. It is very sad to think that we do not understand, but look at Israel when their Messiah came to them, and they knew Him not. So it is today. It would be well to understand "the essential human problem" because there are now teachings in God's church that have redefined the truth on this subject. The essential human problem is that while we have free choice, we are in bondage to sin that is within us when we come into this world. If we do not understand this, then it will do little good to talk about stewardship or salvation.

We have a fallen nature which means when we come into the world, we are in need of a Savior. Why? Because we must be transformed from sinner into saint. Unless we are born again of the Spirit, we "cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3. These are the Words that came forth from the mouth of Jesus when speaking to a Laodicean leader in Israel. Jesus told him to "repent". Jesus continues talk with Nicodemus so that today none will be able to deceive the very elect: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:6,7. In order to do any good thing, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must become partakers of
God's divine nature.

What, if anything, in your life is competing with God for your affections?

How can we make sure nothing gets between us and our Savior? What must I do in order to be saved? How often must I do it?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
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Thursday January 18

True Ownership

We belong to God, both by creation and by redemption. And not only do we belong to God, but all our possessions do as well. We, of ourselves, own nothing other than our own choices.

In contrast, a central tenet of worldliness is the idea that we are owners of our possessions. Yet this is deception. For Christians to think they are the ultimate owners of their possessions is to think something contrary to what the Word of God teaches.

God, not us, owns everything (Job 38:4-11). We are merely aliens and tenants (Lev. 25:23), just as the Israelites were in the Promised Land. We are even dependent on God for our next breath (Acts 17:25). What we think we own, He owns. We are but His stewards, and as such we are to manage tangible and even intangible possessions to the glory of God.

List the things from the following verses that God owns: Deut. 10:14; Ps. 50:10; 104:16; Ezek. 18:4; Hag. 2:8; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20. What do these texts tell us about how we should view the material things that we have in our possession?

“All things belong to God. Men may ignore His claims. While He bountifully bestows His blessings upon them, they may use His gifts for their own selfish gratification; but they will be called to give an account for their stewardship.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 246.

God’s ownership and our stewardship mandate a relationship, one through which He may use us in ways that will prepare us for heaven and that will benefit and bless others. But unfaithful stewards can restrict the Owner’s access to His own possessions. As we saw yesterday, God does not force His will upon us. He created us, and gave us possessions in this world to manage for Him until He returns. What we do with them reflects the kind of relationship that we have with Him.

Amen. This is truth. We may know who has the heart by what we do with our time and our possessions. Those who love God supremely, who have given Him the whole heart, will live to bless others and to glorify God. Gold will be used to glorify God, not for ourselves. This is not an easy thing to judge when looking at others, for we do not know motive. But, we can understand our own motives. What are we doing with our time and material possessions? Why did we buy an expensive home or car? Only we and God know the motive.

Think through what it means that, in reality, you don’t own any of the things that you possess but that they belong to God. What should that tell you about how you should relate to the things in your possession?

This makes little difference or sense to those who are not converted. It is like saying you should love your enemy who raped your daughter. The reality is that if you love God supremely, you will use your possessions to bless others. You will use your time to bless others. But, do not judge others who do not do as you do. We do not know motive.

It is helpful to understand that God is in control of this Earth, nothing happens that He does not allow to happen. Therefore, He is in control even if He does not cause everything to happen. He is the Creator of all, and He can do with it as He pleases. But, He cannot force us to love Him. He cannot recreate us in His image if we do not work with Him. If we will not learn of Him, then how can we love and trust Him? We cannot. So, if we want others to give of their means to the church, then we need to present the gospel of grace so their is understanding of our continual need of Jesus in order to do any good thing. Until we understand who we are apart from God, we will not see our continual need of an abiding Savior.

It is true that if we do not live to bless others, we will not be in heaven. But, the threat of hell will not change the heart, that is the domain of grace. We can only be transformed by beholding grace and allowing it into our heart. Then we will live for the One we love supremely and those He came to save.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Friday January 19

Further Thought: Stewardship, as we understand it, started with God placing Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden home that they were to care for and manage (Gen. 2:15). In this perfect environment they were to make the garden livable, a task that could not have been that hard. God authorized their new role and taught them about their responsibility. Taking care of Eden would give meaning and bring happiness to the new family.

The Hebrew verb for “dominion” (Gen. 1:26, 28) means “to bring under control and rule.” This was, given the context, not a harsh dominion but a benevolent rule in caring for God’s creation. This responsibility has not stopped. In this environment Adam and Eve were to learn that God was the Owner, and they were His managers, or stewards. From the start God intended that Adam and Eve have positions of responsibility and trust but not as owners. They were to demonstrate to God that they were faithful to their tasks.   

They were not faithful. What was God's response to their sin? He cursed the ground for our sake. And, if we pay attention to the lesson, we notice that we still sweat and there are still thorns and thistles. And, we still are dying. In other words, the lesson for us that there are consequences to not doing as God has made plain. Even when converted, the curses still apply.
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return."  Genesis 3:16-19.

And yes, we also notice that there was a consequence for women also. Has it disappeared as many church leaders teach today? We like the lesson on dominion as applied to rulership over the Earth. Shall we change the meaning of "rule over" ion order to escape the consequence God has placed women? And for unconverted men who "rule over" women, let us take note that God does not countenance such rule. As the lesson stated, Adam and Even were to have a "benevolent rule" over the Earth. So it is with man and his rule of the woman, it is to be a "benevolent rule."
This is why God cares very much about who we marry. If we marry someone who is not a true Christian, then there be no benevolence, but selfishness in the marriage.

“Adam and Eve were given the garden of Eden to care for. They were ‘to dress it and to keep it.’ They were happy in their work. Mind, heart, and will acted in perfect harmony. In their labor they found no weariness, no toil. Their hours were filled with useful work and communion with each other. Their occupation was pleasant. God and Christ visited them and talked with them. They were given perfect freedom.  . . .  God was the owner of their Eden home. They held it under Him.” - Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 327.

Discussion Questions:

    What does the fact that God owns the world teach us about our basic responsibility when it comes to the environment? While we have to avoid the political fanaticism of some environmentalists who all but worship the creation itself, what should our attitude, as Christians, be toward taking care of the environment?

We are to be good stewards of the Earth. What that means is a study in and of itself. How do we look at Carbon Credits? How about global warming? And, our use of cars instead of bicycles? If we grow a garden, then it seems we have studied some and are on the right track. If we do not grow a garden, why not? If we still live in the big city, why? God has given us great light on the subject, but to answer the question in any meaningful way requires more space and time than we have today. Suffice it to say that if we love God supremely (if we are in a converted state), then we will seek to care for the world in which we and others live.

    Dwell more on the idea of God as a “jealous” God. It’s not always an easy concept to grasp, especially because in human terms we look at jealousy as something bad, as something to be avoided. How, though, can we understand this idea as it is applied to God without any of the negative baggage the word usually carries?

God loves little innocent children. He is jealous for their safety and upbringing. What will happen to those who injure these "little ones"? I believe this is why Paul wrote "accursed be the man that brings another gospel into the church." God cares about the flock that is being misled. He is jealous for their sake. The church is the "apple of His eye."

    How can we learn to distinguish between the proper use and enjoyment of the physical things that God has created and the abuse of those things? Why is making this distinction so important?

The answer is always the same. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If we want to understand truth, then we need to be born of the Spirit. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit if we want to understand the proper use of what God has entrusted to us and have the power to do it. Otherwise we remain what we are apart from God, selfish.

To those who want to know, and who love God supremely, it is the motive that God cares most about. What are we doing with our time and our money? Why are we doing this? Even if it is not the best use, if we believe it is for God and others, then the heart is right with God and He will continue to bless us. As for knowing what is the best use, we can ask Him and in His time, He will make it known to us.

We have much light on how we are to live. Desire of Ages reveals an awful lot, as to the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church. There is great detail. For those who do not have this source of truth, the Bible is sufficient along with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our every day behavior. But, it is all dependent upon us giving the whole heart to Christ, otherwise our motive will be selfish.

Today, if we spend a thoughtful hour contemplating the life of Christ, we will by  beholding His grace, be transformed into His image (character) day by day. Let us put the cart in back of the horse. Then we shall be living for God because He is the focus of our attention.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.