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Monday         September 21

Commitment’s Call

Imagine that you are Simon Peter and Andrew. The sun has just risen on a beautiful Galilean morning, chasing away the chill of the night air. Your thoughts are on one thing: catching fish, a lot of them. The fishing has been good recently, and you are looking forward to another day of great fishing. Then in the early morning light you see Him approaching, Jesus of Nazareth. Little do you know that in a few moments your whole life will change. You will never be the same again.

Read Matthew 4:18-20. Why do you think Simon Peter and Andrew were willing to make such a radical commitment to follow Christ? What in the text indicates that Jesus was calling them to a higher purpose than catching fish?

From the gospel of John we learn that these men already knew something about Jesus for more than a year, yet had not made a full commitment to Him. Still, there must have been a divine demeanor about Christ, something about His appearance, words, and actions that indicated to these Galilean fishermen that He was inviting them to a divine calling. The reason they left their boats, occupation, and familiar surroundings to follow Him was that they sensed the call to a higher purpose. These ordinary fishermen recognized that they were called for an extraordinary purpose. God may not be calling you to leave your profession today, but He is calling you to an extraordinary purpose-and that is, to share His love and to witness of His truth for the glory of His name.

Consider the call of Matthew, the tax collector, in Matthew 9:9. What do you see in this passage that is quite remarkable?

Tax collectors in the Roman world were often extortionists who used their official power to oppress the common people. They were some of the most hated and despised characters in all of Israel. Christ’s invitation, “Follow Me”, presupposes that Matthew had heard of Jesus and in his heart had a longing to follow Him. When the invitation came, he was ready. He was amazed that Christ would accept him and invite him to be one of His disciples.

Deep within all of our hearts there is a longing for something more in life. We, too, want to live for something worthwhile, for a grander, nobler purpose. Hence, Christ calls us, like Matthew, to follow Him.

Think about what people have had to give up to follow Jesus. Why, in the end, will it always be worth it?

If you are on your death bed, ready to die, what would you pay to have and extra year of life? Most would give all they have, would they not? Then what would you pay to live forever? How much more would you pay to live in a world without sin forever? What is that worth? I have come to the conclusion that to live in this world without the hope of everlasting life is worth all I have if I might have the love, joy, and peace Jesus offers today in this world. In other words, it is not just "in the end" but today it is worth it.

The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--50--Among Snares
« Last post by Dorine on September 19, 2020, 07:40:37 AM »
It is not Christ's follower that, with averted eyes, turns from the erring, leaving them unhindered to pursue their downward course. Those who are forward in accusing others, and zealous in bringing them to justice, are often in their own lives more guilty than they. Men hate the sinner, while they love the sin. Christ hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This will be the spirit of all who follow Him. Christian love is slow to censure, quick to discern penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of holiness, and to stay his feet therein.

The last paragraph summarizes the differences between one who knows Jesus and the one who doesn't. The more time spent in getting to know Jesus the quicker we are able to discern the difference between the actions and attitude of the two. May others see the spirit of God in us.
Sunday       September 20

Jesus’ Self-Sacrificing Love

The apostle Paul encourages us to “let” or “allow” or “permit” the mind of Christ to dwell in us. This leads us to some fascinating questions. What was the mind of Christ like? What governed His thought patterns? What was the essence of His thinking?

Read Philippians 2:5-11.

 2:5   Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 
 2:6   Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 
 2:7   But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 
 2:8   And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
 2:9   Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 
 2:10   That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; 
 2:11   And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

How do these verses reveal the heart of Christ’s thinking and the pattern that governed His entire life?

When Satan sinned, God had a problem. As we see, Satan infected not only heaven, but this Earth also. God put into motion a plan that would not only transform all who would accept His plan on this Earth, but would protect the universe for eternity from another Satan. He would put an end to sin while leaving all creation with free will. In order to do this, it would require Him taking a great risk. He allowed His innocent Son to step inbetween Adam and death, to take upon Himself the fallen nature of man and to come to this dark spot in the universe a helpless baby to fight the battle of life as we must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. Herein is love. Wonder O heavens and be astonished O Earth!!

When Adam sinned, Jesus went to the Father and asked Him if He could then pay the price for the sins of the world as they had agreed before the foundation of the Earth was laid. Three times He went to His Father before He agreed. It was not easy for our heavenly Father to let His Son become our Savior, but He did. For you and for me. Such love that God has for humanity!!

From all eternity Jesus was equal with God. Paul declares this eternal truth in these words, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6, NKJV). The word translated “form” is the Greek word morphe. It means the very essence of a thing. It links two things that are of equal value. The SDA Bible Commentary puts it this way: “This places Christ on an equality with the Father, and sets Him far above every other power. Paul stresses this in order to portray more vividly the depths of Christ’s voluntary humiliation”. — Volume 7, p. 154. Speaking of His eternal nature, Ellen G. White adds, “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived”. — The Desire of Ages, p. 530.

Jesus, who was equal with God from all eternity, “made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7, NKJV). This also is a fascinating Greek expression. It literally can be translated “emptied”. Jesus voluntarily “emptied Himself” of His privileges and prerogatives as God’s equal to take on the form of a man and become a humble servant of humanity. As a servant, He revealed heaven’s law of love to the entire universe and, eventually, performed the ultimate act of love on the cross. He gave His life to save ours, eternally.

The essence of Jesus’ thinking was self-sacrificial love. To follow Jesus means that we love as He loved, serve as He served, and minister as He ministered. Allowing Jesus through His Holy Spirit to empty us of selfish ambition will cost us something. It cost Jesus everything. But Scripture says of Jesus, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9, NKJV).

Heaven will be worth any sacrifice we make on earth. There will be sacrifices along the way, but the joys of service will outweigh them today, and the eternal joy of living with Christ throughout all eternity will make any sacrifice we make here seem insignificant.

When was the last time you truly had to die to self for Christ’s sake? What does your answer say to you about your Christian walk?

We do not believe in once saved always saved. We must die to self daily. We must maintain our connection with Christ moment by moment. If we allow our minds to wander away from Jesus, we have no power to resist the smallest temptation. We shall face trials daily, they are for our good and God's glory if we will abide in Jesus and He in us. God wants us to grow in our character. While our motives are pure and holy at conversion, we may possess a greater abundance of love, joy, and peace as we overcome self daily.

The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--51--The Light of Life
« Last post by Dorine on September 19, 2020, 07:15:40 AM »
"He whose heart has responded to the divine touch will be seeking for that which will increase his knowledge of God, and will refine and elevate the character. As a flower turns to the sun, that the bright rays may touch it with tints of beauty, so will the soul turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that heaven's light may beautify the character with the graces of the character of Christ."

Only those who are seeking for truth will find it. God does not reveal light to those whose hearts are stubborn and proud. I love to grow sunflowers because they remind me of this illustration. As the sun moves across the sky the face of each flower follows. May our lives show to others the truth of this illustration.
Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Phil. 2:5-11; Matt. 4:18-20; Acts 9:3-6, 10-20; John 21:15-19; 1 John 3:16-18.

Memory Text: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7

Leaving the glories of heaven, the worship of the angels, and the fellowship of the Father was an unimaginable sacrifice. Yet, Jesus came to this world of suffering and death in order to reveal the Father’s character of love, to win back the affection of the human race, and to redeem all humankind. “Never can the cost of our redemption be realized until the redeemed shall stand with the Redeemer before the throne of God. Then as the glories of the eternal home burst upon our enraptured senses we shall remember that Jesus left all this for us, that He not only became an exile from the heavenly courts, but for us took the risk of failure and eternal loss. Then we shall cast our crowns at His feet, and raise the song, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing’. Rev. 5:12”. — Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 131.

The sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation was incalculable. When we respond to His leading, accept His command, and unite with Him in reaching lost people for His kingdom, it calls for sacrifice. Although our sacrifices can never in any way compare to His, soul-winning ministry is for us, as well, a leap in faith. It leads us out of our comfort zones into uncharted waters. At times our Lord calls us to make sacrifices, but the joys He offers are far greater.

Our tribulation works for our good and God's glory if we will abide in Jesus, that is to say if we will surrender the whole heart to Christ. As we come to the end of this quarter's lessons, our memory verses for this week speak to our privilege of being partakers of God's divine nature. We may have the Holy Spirit take possession of the mind and heart. Then we will do His will and have love, joy, and peace that passes all understanding.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 26.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--52--The Divine Shepherd
« Last post by Beacon on September 19, 2020, 07:00:21 AM »
"Millions of human beings are bound down under false religions, in the bondage of slavish fear, of stolid indifference, toiling like beasts of burden, bereft of hope or joy or aspiration here, and with only a dull fear of the hereafter..

It is the gospel of the grace of God alone that can uplift the soul..

The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can..

Christ came that He might re-create the image of God in man;..

and,whoever turns men away from Christ is turning them away from the source of true development; he is defrauding them of the hope and purpose and glory of life. He is a thief and a robber."

John 10:10 Tell us "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

But how can they hear the Invitation without a faithful laborer for God who is standing tall at his/her post of duty wherever it may be ?

"Jesus said in Luke 10:2 "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."

I pray that we ALL will Renew Our Commitment to the Lord of the Harvest and become more strongly committed "Laboring Laborers for the Lord."
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--52--The Divine Shepherd
« Last post by Dorine on September 19, 2020, 06:54:09 AM »
"Because we are the gift of His Father, and the reward of His work, Jesus loves us. He loves us as His children. Reader, He loves you. Heaven itself can bestow nothing greater, nothing better. Therefore trust."

Amen! What reassuring words. To know He loves me as His child takes away all fear from my heart. That's what love does. Even when we are chastised we know it's because we are loved. We know we can fully trust Him.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--51--The Light of Life
« Last post by Richard Myers on September 19, 2020, 06:22:57 AM »
Amen Brother Beacon, by beholding Jesus we are filled with His love. We love Him because He first loved us. As Pastor Sean has shared, the gospel of grace leads sinners to oneness with God. When we behold His character we are transformed into His image (character). It is an intellectual and a spiritual truth that by beholding we become changed. The brain is plastic and can be changed by continually beholding something. It works both ways. We can become evil or righteous. Evey day we are forming a character that will become fixed.

It is the gospel of the grace of God alone that can uplift the soul. The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can. Christ came that He might re-create the image of God in man;

It is our privilege to share this truth with those in the church and in the world. Satan has blinded so very many that they do not understand the gospel message.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--52--The Divine Shepherd
« Last post by Pastor Sean Brizendine on September 19, 2020, 03:28:11 AM »
Happy Sabbath! Let us never forget the depth of love we see in Jesus coming to this earth to be our Savior! He left heaven to bring us into a union and communion with Himself that is likened to the oneness between Himself and our Heavenly Father! What wondrous love is this!

"However much a shepherd may love his sheep, he loves his sons and daughters more. Jesus is not only our shepherd; He is our 'everlasting Father.' And He says, 'I know Mine own, and Mine own know Me, even as the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father.' John 10:14, 15, R. V. What a statement is this!--the only-begotten Son, He who is in the bosom of the Father, He whom God has declared to be 'the Man that is My fellow' (Zechariah 13:7),--the communion between Him and the eternal God is taken to represent the communion between Christ and His children on the earth!" {The Desire of Ages, page 483, paragraph 2}     

When our hearts truly experience this love by yielding to Christ fully as we behold Him continually, we experience all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing! The blessing of intimacy with God far exceeds the temporary pleasures of sin for a season and become the lasting reason for us to abide in Christ in every experience of life, no matter how trying!
Friday        September 18

Further Thought:

“God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth — the messages of the first, second, and third angels — He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world.

The three angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God’s messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth. Christ declares to His followers: ‘Ye are the light of the world’. Matthew 5:14. To every soul that accepts Jesus the cross of Calvary speaks: ‘Behold the worth of the soul. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ Mark 16:15. Nothing is to be permitted to hinder this work. It is the all-important work for our time; it is to be far-reaching as eternity. The love that Jesus manifested for the souls of men in the sacrifice which He made for their redemption, will actuate all His followers.

Christ accepts, oh, so gladly! every human agency that is surrendered to Him. He brings the human into union with the divine, that He may communicate to the world the mysteries of incarnate love. Talk it, pray it, sing it, fill the world with the message of His truth, and keep pressing on into the regions beyond”. — Ellen G. White, Counsels for the Church, pp. 58, 59.

Amen, amen, and amen!! Prayerfully read what is written. Grace is at the center! "Incarnate love." Christ accepts who? "Every human agency that is surrendered to Him." When we do that, then He not only accepts us, but He "brings the human into union with the divine." If you understand this, then teach it and live it. If you don't understand, then prayerfully spend a thoughtful hour each day contemplating the life of Christ and you will understand. By beholding we become transformed into His image (character, 2 Cor. 3:18).

Discussion Questions:

    How do the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 identify the essence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

    Think about the Sabbath and the importance of what it represents. As we saw this week, the message it contains is so important that God commands that we set apart one-seventh of our lives in order to remember Him as our Creator and our Redeemer. Also, unlike a holy mountain or a holy city, we don’t have to go to it to worship. Every week, at about a thousand miles per hour (at least, near the equator), the Sabbath comes to us. How does this truth also help us understand the importance of the day and what it points to?

    How can we explain the idea of the fall of Babylon or the concept of the mark of the beast in the most winsome way? That is, how can we present these truths in the least offensive way possible, even though we must understand that despite our best efforts some people will be offended?

The very best way is to follow the light given. We are to give the messages in their order. Why give the third message before giving the first and second? That is not wise, nor winsome.  Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom after presenting the gospel message, then the fall of Babylon. If there is understanding and a desire to know more, then we are at liberty to present the mark of the beast. Do we reveal the love of our Savior? Do we strive to put Jesus at the center of our message?
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