Study: What is different about the way people were created that sets us apart from the rest of creation? Why is this important?
Apply: What responsibility do we have to the rest of creation?
Share: A friend comments that while God created us in His image it seems that man has been trying to create God in man’s image. Is this true? If so how has man tried to create God in man’s image? What do you share with your friend?
Read Together Romans 6:1-7. Identify the main theme of this passage.
Study: What exactly are we saved from? The penalty of sin? The power of sin? Both?
Apply: How has God saved you from sin? How has your life changed after conversion?
Share: Your friend doesn’t think he will ever get complete victory over drugs in this lifetime. What words or more importantly Scripture can you share with your friend to encourage her? Hints: Ephesians 3:19-20, Titus 2:11-14.
Read TogetherExodus 31:13. Identify the main theme of this passage.
Study: What is the Sabbath a sign of? We are no more capable of making ourselves holy than we are making a day holy? What does this passage tell us about Who it is who makes us holy and sanctified?
Apply: How does observing the Sabbath demonstrate your total faith in God’s redeeming power?
Share: Your friend says the Sabbath was only given to the Jews. What do you share with your friend? Hint: Mark 2:27, Isaiah 56:5-6.
Apply: How can we delight in the Sabbath without doing our own pleasures? Could it be possible that even in church on Sabbath we are just doing our own pleasures? Especially if we are just debating theology with our best friends and ignoring visitors and strangers? What does the whole chapter of Isaiah 58 say about this?
Share: How can we share true meaning of Sabbath rest with unbelievers?
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
I have a friend I meet every week before prayer meeting at the Mexican restaurant in town. Sometimes I run a few minutes late and find her just sitting there waiting on me. I’ve suggested to her,
“Bring a book or read something on your cell phone, so you have something to do while you wait. I feel bad for wasting your time.”
She told me,
“I love to just sit and think.”
When she said that, I remembered reading a short note in a Reader’s Digest issue a few years ago. It was about how we always have our cell phones to entertain us while we stand in line at the store or wait for the doctor at his office. Because of this we no longer have time to just pause and think. The idea was that it is good to just pause, stop and think for a while. After all, before cell phones I had a brain. I guess it would be okay to turn everything else off for a while and just use my brain. My friend at the restaurant sure seems to enjoy it.
I guess I do too. Often when I go to bed I enjoy listening to my Bible app on audio. However something in the Scripture will get my attention and I have to make a choice. Keep marinating in that one thought, or keep up with the rest of the audio narration. I have learned to pause the audio and just think about a certain thought for a while. Same while I am searching Scripture for myself. I have learned not to measure the quality of my personal Bible study by minutes or chapters, but rather by new ideas and fresh revelations. Sometimes it may take an hour and other times just a second to gain a new idea or revelation. (That does not mean I stop studying after just one second!) I have learned to take a moment and meditate on a passage instead of feeling like I have to finish the rest of a section of Scripture.
Long before cell phones and Bible apps I was aware of a passage in the book, Steps to Christ, encouraging us to keep our Bible with us. Today I forget that we used to keep books with us before cell phones. So its not like we were totally without “data” before cell phones. Yet I just realized recently there was something I missed in this passage, when I read it back in the day,
Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90.
Silly me only picked up on the idea of always having your Bible handy so you could read whenever there is any “down time.” But that is not the actual counsel here. The passage also talks about meditating on Scripture. This resonates with my friend saying she does not always need a book or cell phone to read. She enjoys thinking. The passage is not telling us to read our Bible all the time whether in actual book form or tablet. Either way the message is, put your book or tablet down and think. As a matter of fact let’s read what was written just before the passage we just read,
But there is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90.
Even when reading the Bible it does well for us to stop and quietly think for a while. Now please check out this passage that was written long before cell phones and tablets. To me it just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. Same issues just different modes of the same old habits.
Even fiction which contains no suggestion of impurity, and which may be intended to teach excellent principles, is harmful. It encourages the habit of hasty and superficial reading, merely for the story. Thus it tends to destroy the power of connected and vigorous thought; it unfits the soul to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny. -Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, Page 383.
I remember reading an article in a business magazine telling bosses not to get onto their employees for just relaxing at their desks doing nothing for a while. They may be brainstorming and that may be when they get their best ideas. I can relate to that. I often get my best ideas for church ministry when I am driving down the road lost in thought or just relaxing on my day off. All this goes back to the brief thought in Reader’s Digest so long ago, or my friend at the restaurant. Its okay to put your book or tablet down and just think for a while. Its more than okay. Its crucial. Its not just okay, it is crucial to be still and know that I am God-Psalm 46:10.
Well I’m going to stop writing so you can…you know….just relax and think for a while. Enjoy!
Just a few months ago I shared a story about a plane crash where around 80 people were killed. The whole ordeal could have been avoided if only proper communication and understanding had taken place. Some say the cockpit should have communicated more clearly. Others agree the ATC should have listened better. I feel for both sides because I have been on both sides.
I rarely if ever get sick. Apparently God has blessed me with a good immune system. I am also a happy person. I rarely if ever get depressed. My friends talk about how happy I am all the time. A father once jokingly told his family that the reason I am always is happy is because I am single and have no kids. Or at least I hope the family took it as a joke. Having a family should make one happy not sad. Just the same it has occurred to me that God must have also provided me with an immunity to depression. I rarely ever get depressed and when I do it does not last long at all.
So how does that help me feel for both sides? Like the ATC, I don’t always detect depression in others, though I have gotten better over time. I am a very punctual and responsible person. So when others are late, or just flake out on a commitment, my first thought used to be that they were just undependable people. It never occurred to me until recently that they were fighting depression.
Years ago I was working with a very small church school that hired a new principal from out of state. He accepted the job but when it came time, he never showed up. He never responded to our calls until, finally, we had to scramble to replace him at the last minute, realizing he was not communicating any more. I was very offended that a professional would behave in that manner – not showing up for work or even communicating. Later we finally found out that he was going through a family crisis and was very depressed. Once he finally contacted us, he was very sorry for the situation. Of course we had replaced him by then, but I learned that depression can affect anyone. And not everyone who flakes out is a flake. Often they are depressed and don’t know what to do about it. I get that now.
Meanwhile I can also identify with the cockpit crew. Like I said, I rarely every get depressed and it has been over 20 years since my little outburst. I finally recently told you all about. I seem to have a good immunity against depression, and my friends, and even students at the school where I help, comment about how upbeat I seem to be all the time. I have never not shown up for work. I have never flaked out on a date, agreement or assignment. I have never failed to communicate if I am late or plans have changed. But rare as it may be, there have been times when I sure felt like it! Over the last 50 plus years, there have been times I wanted to jump in my car and just run away somewhere – anywhere! There have been times I wanted to dig a hole in the ground and crawl into it. There have been times I wanted to find a deserted island and move there. Now if you’ve known me for a long time, you are probably shocked reading this. That is because I never communicated it. You never saw it. I acted like everything was okay, and, within time, before I acted out the feeling passed over. Usually all it took for me was a good night’s rest or phone call with a trusted friend, and everything was right in the world again. My rare depressions were never chronic but they were enough to help me understand why people do the things that they do. In other words, while I have never accepted a new job and then never shown up, I do understand how that might happen. I understand that depression makes people do things no one understands.
Obviously my rare depressions were situational and temporary. I understand many people have chronic depression which takes place even on the most beautiful of days for no apparent reason. When chronically depressed people actually carry out irresponsible and foolish acts, I can still relate, because just because I have never carried out an irrational action does not mean I have have never felt like it. I have felt like it! The good news is that there is help for all of us. God understands even when no one else does. As a matter of fact there are some pretty pathetic psalms in the book of Psalms. Some of them make me wonder how they ever even made it into the Bible. Some of them seem to offer no solution as David just expresses his pathetic emotions. Then, again, maybe that is why they are in a collection of inspired writings – to let us know even inspired people sometimes have irrational feelings and emotions.
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Psalm 143:7 NLT
Of course we all know God is our number one source of joy and peace. However God said it was not good for people to be alone, which is why He created a community for Adam. We need community too. Sometimes we need to go ahead and call professionals in the community to help us with depression. Abide Counseling is a group of trained Adventist professionals who are trained to use Bible principles for dealing with and overcoming depression. They can even help you online in the privacy of your own home. They can work with your budget.
It has been a stressful and isolating last couple of years for most people, and does not seem to be getting better. Some of us have been isolated. Some of us are grieving the loss of a loved one(s) during isolation. Help is available, and Abide Counseling is a safe and biblically sound resource for finding hope, peace and meaning.
Study: How does 2 Kings 2:11 explain why God did not just let Elijah die back in 1 Kings 19? How does it explain why Elijah never should have let Jezebel destroy his rest and peace in God? Why should we never let the world destroy our peace?
Apply: Even when Elijah was discouraged God still gave him an assignment in 1 Kings 19:15-16. Does God give up on us when we show sings of fear or doubt or discouragement?
Share: Can you think of a friend or loved one who is suffering depression and could use an encouraging word? Could you pick up the phone and give them a call this week, or maybe even write a letter that they could read and re-read whenever they needed encouragement?
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV
In John 8:1-11 Some men with terrible motives and intentions seduced a woman and dragged her to Jesus to see if He would condemn her or even allow her to be stoned to death. As evil as their intentions were what they inadvertently did was they brought a woman to the feet of Jesus where she found salvation. As terrible as it was, and believe me it was not Jesus’ idea for them to do her that way, but in the end Jesus turned things around to work out in her favor and to God’s glory.
Terrible things happened to Jesus. Satan worked through evil men to make the Son of God a degraded spectacle on the cross. yet through it all Jesus became the Savior of the world. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that the one who was so despised, rejected and degraded is Lord. In the process a multitude that no one can number will be saved.
The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and “all things” that are permitted “work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28.- Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, Page 71.
What a wonderful promise that nothing can touch us but what infinite love permits, and all these things work together for our good if we love God. Without ever reading Romans 8;28 or this passage from Mount of Blessing I just shared, Joseph realized that all the bad breaks he endured worked out to develop his character so he could save lives. Instead of being bitter and resentful Joseph saw even the bad breaks and evil intentions of others were working to his advantage. Not only did Joseph forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery but instead of blaming them he said it was actually God who did it- and He did it for the good of others.
But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:5 NKJV
Not only did Joseph not blame his dysfunctional family for all the bad breaks in his life, but he refused to acknowledge them as bad breaks. Instead he realized through all of the evil intentions of his dysfunctional family and even Potipher’s wife’s terrible accusations God was working to refine his character in order to get him exactly where he needed to be in order to save many lives.
When bad breaks come our way instead of blaming others for our situation lets trust God the same way Jesus and Joseph did. Let’s share in their hope and encouragement. Surely God is working out something wonderful in our lives.
Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 679.
Instead of being resentful and bitter over supposedly bad breaks lets bask in the love of God! God’s great love is working through our tribulations and persecutions making us more than conquerors.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Main Theme: Forgiveness frees us from the bitterness that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Forgiveness opens the door all of God’s blessings.
Read Together Genesis 42:21-24. Discuss what happened in this passage.
Study: What did Joseph hear that helped him confirm his brothers were truly sorry for what they did to him?
Apply: Put yourself in the brother’s sandals. When they sensed their guilt how could they make things right? They had no clue there was still opportunity to make amends with Joseph but what about their father? For additional teacher’s resources see and read the 7 A’s of reconciliation.
Share: Ask the class if someone can share a testimony they experienced or witnessed first hand where forgiveness and reconciliation took place?
Study: Why did the master forgive the servant? Did the servant ask for forgiveness or more time to pay the debt? Why might it be important to note that the servant was not asking for forgiveness but only more time to pay the debt? For additional teacher’s resources see and read See and read Forgiveness in Light of the Cross.
Apply: How does Jesus dying on the cross help us to forgive?
Share: A friend shares with you that her ex-husband cheated on her and left her, and even after the divorce she feels hatred, resentment and bitterness that will not go away. How can you help your friend?
Brief Overview: The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. (Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2,3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19.)
Why it is important to know the truth about the millennium:
There are many erroneous teachings about the millennium, including the idea some will be given a second chance after the second coming. This is a false security leading many to disregard the exhortation of Paul, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.”Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT
Why it is important to understand the millennium in light of the cross:
Only when we get to heaven will we see and realize what Jesus left to come and die for us.
Further Study on the Millennium
What happens to the earth when Jesus comes?
Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people. Isaiah 24:1 NLT
What happens to all of the wicked?
In that day those the Lord has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure. Jeremiah 25:33 NLT
What happens to the righteousness?
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NLT
Note: When Jesus comes the wicked are all slain, the righteous are all
taken to heaven, and the earth is left in a desolate state (“without form and void” Jer. 4:23; as a “bottomless pit” Rev. 20:1).
How long is Satan bound to the earth?
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. Revelation 20:1-3 NLT
Note: Satan is chained up by circumstances. All the wicked are dead. The righteous are in heaven, and he has no one to tempt or torment. Before his expulsion from heaven he thought he would make a better ruler than God. SeeIsaiah 14:14. Satan now gets to roam the world for a thousand years and consider the fruits of his empire.
What will the righteous be doing?
Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 NLT
Whom shall they be judging?
Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT
Jesus spoke of two resurrections.
Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. John 5:28-29 NLT
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29 KJV
When are the wicked dead raised?
This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.Revelation 20:5-6 NLT
What does Satan do when they are raised?
When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. Revelation 20:7-8 NLT
What descends down from God?
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:2 NLT
What does Satan attempt and what happens?
And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Revelation 20:9 NLT
What is this fire called?
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT
What will God create from the ashes?
But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. 2 Peter 3:10-13 NLT
What will the new earth be like?
In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the Lord, and their children, too, will be blessed. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Isaiah 65:21-25 NLT
What promise of God does John see in vision?
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 NLT