Study: How do we apply these principles to our own worship experience?
Apply: What is your experience with returning tithes and offerings as a part of worship? How does it impact your relationship with God?
Share: Your friend says, “God never said anything about offerings being required, but only as an expression of thanksgiving based on our increase. God doesn’t need my money. He can finish the work without all the expensive programs the church makes up to increase their income and finances.” How would you respond to your friend?
Study: What is the message of these stories, and how can we apply it to our own worship experience?
Apply: What action was noted in heaven by the Roman that prompted a visit from heaven? Share your thoughts.
Share: Your friend asks in what ways did the poor woman give more than they all? What do you tell your friend? Think about all the people who have given what little they can throughout the years, because of this woman’s story. Could all of that add up to more than the rich gave that day?
Read in Class:Mark 14:1-9. What is the main theme of this passage?
Study: Who were the main characters at Simon’s feast? What was the value of Mary’s gift? Why did she anoint Jesus at this time?
Apply: Why is sacrificial giving as important for the givers as for the recipients?
Share: Are there any specific needs in the church that your Sabbath school class could raise money to contribute towards?
Study: What was Abram’s response to meeting Melchizedek? What does this teach us about how far back in history the practice goes?
Apply: Why is it important to understand that tithing, like the Sabbath, was not something that originated in the ancient Israelite legal or even religious system? What message should we, who live after the cross, take from this truth?
Study: What was the widow’s situation before Elijah came to her? What did the prophet ask her to do first before taking care of herself and her son? What can we learn from thisabout putting God first in our giving?
Apply: Salvation is by faith and trusting in Jesus. How does returning tithes and offerings reveal how you trust Jesus?
Share: Your friend says he does not have the money to tithe now, but will later when he gets more money. What do you tell your friend?
Study: When are we called upon to give an account of our management of God’s funds? What is said to those who have been financially faithful?
Apply: How faithful have you been in your giving? Could Jesus say to you today, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”
Share: What other ways can you support pastors and Bible workers in your area besides making sure they have a decent salary? Can you reach out to your local pastors and Bible workers this week and let them know you appreciate them and are praying for them? Maybe even pray with them?
Read in Class:1 John 4:7-16. Discuss the main thought of this passage.
Study: What can the certainty that “God is love” tell us about the nature of His creative activities? What does this passage tell us about free will as a condition to cultivating love?
Apply: Free will, a gift from God, is sacred, but comes heavy laden with powerful consequences, not only for yourself but for others, as well. What important decisions are you, using this gift, about to make, and what will be the consequences of whatever choices you make?
Share: Your friend asks you why didn’t God only create people who would choose to serve Him? Wouldn’t that still be giving free choice to all his creation? Why would that be or not be free choice? Another friend claims that if we die for not choosing Jesus then Jesus is not really giving us free choice. He is intimidating and manipulating us. Is there a difference between free choices and consequences?
On this day in 2016 my mother died, and a few days later I wrote an article called, When Prayer Doesn’t Move Mountains. The comment section was filled with notes of sympathy and condolences which I greatly appreciated. I was amazed I could write an article right after my mother died. I always thought when my mother died I would just roll up into a little ball and lay there till Jesus came. But I didn’t. I did not become dysfunctional- or at least not anymore dysfunctional than I already was. I was amazed that I not only could exist and survive but I was actually productive and thriving. Sure there were a lot of tears and heartache. I remember wanting to tell my mother that my mother died. After all whenever something bad happened I would always share it with her. But I couldn’t share this with her. But I also remember driving between Bible studies soon after she died, and an almost euphoric feeling came over me when I realized my mother died and I was going to survive. I wasn’t going to roll up into a little ball and just lie there after all! Just days after returning from the funeral, I went out for pizza with some friends. I found myself laughing and enjoying myself. Then as I walked to my car a feeling came over me. Am I allowed to be having this much fun yet?
You may or may not be able to identify with my thoughts and feelings. I have found that we all grieve differently. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, at least within reason, I feel I need to share my experience, because I do not grieve the way so many other people say that we grieve. In recent conversations I have found I am not alone. I am not aiming to be judgmental or invalidate anyone’s grieving process. I just want to share my experience and why I have so much hope. Here are some ways I and many others do not grieve the way the popular society seems to think we all grieve.
“My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.”
When I read memes on Facebook about how that person would give anything to talk to their dead loved one, I cannot relate with that. Sure right after my mother died I wanted to tell my mom that my mom died, but that emotion did not stay with me. Why? I remember talking to a friend who’s mother died several years before mine. Back then I asked my friend how she found the strength to go on. While she loved her mother she said something I had never thought of before. She said, “My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.” At first it sounded kind of cold but it makes a lot of sense. My mother enjoyed her life before I was born because she had Jesus in her life. I soon realized after I lost my mother that as much as I loved my mother, I live for Jesus. My mother taught me to live for Jesus. While I loved my mother dearly and can’t wait to see her in the resurrection I can continue living a happy, fruitful and productive life because I live for Jesus. Hence, I don’t wish I could talk to my mother right now. I need to talk to Jesus, and I can!
During a Bible study last week I was talking to a much younger friend who already lost her mother a few years ago. I shared with her that I don’t constantly think, much less talk about my mother being gone all the time, even though many Facebook memes seem to imply we all do. She agreed with me that she does not think about her mother every day either. I don’t mourn her loss on Mother’s Day. I am too busy celebrating all the wonderful mothers in the world today. After my mom died my niece became a mother and she is one the best mothers I have ever seen, and I love her kids like crazy. I am too busy celebrating what I have instead of grieving what I don’t have.
I am enjoying my life while my mother rests, knowing that while she told me stories about people and things that happened before I was born, when Jesus wakes her up I can tell her stories about people and things that happened while she was sleeping. While we both spent a portion of our time on earth together and without each other, we will have all eternity in heaven to spend together!
I don’t need to wish my mother a happy heavenly birthday.
I am alarmed at how many of my friends, even Seventh-day Adventist friends wish their late mothers a happy heavenly birthday on social media. For some reason many think it sounds nice, but there is not one single passage of Scripture that even hints that our dead loved ones are already in heaven. I find comfort in the truth about what happens when you die. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Paul tells us to comfort each other with “these words” about the resurrection. Nowhere in Scripture does Paul, Jesus or anyone else tell us that our dead loved ones are in heaven, much less to comfort each other with such words. Again 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us to comfort each other with words about the resurrection. It sends chills of joy down my spine when I think about the fact that my mother’s very next thought will be Jesus is coming! My mother is resting and does not know anything. The next thing she knows Jesus will be coming! What a glorious thought! I don’t need to draw comfort from the lies and deceptions of spiritualism when the truth of God’s Word gives me comfort I can depend on.
Our grief is personal and private. I don’t mean to shame anyone for the way they grieve. We all grieve differently. Our relationships are unique and the way we grieve the loss of those relationships is unique. The way we cope and continue to function is unique. While I don’t really mark anniversaries of my mother’s passing, I thought this year it would be a good time to share some hope with others. Regardless what social media memes say, you don’t have to feel sad each and every day. Psalm 23:6 says goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and that includes the days after a loved one dies. We can live happy, productive lives while looking forward to the resurrection. Regardless what social media memes say, we don’t need to wish our dead loved ones a happy heavenly birthday. We can let our dead loved ones rest, while we comfort each other with words of hope that are actually in Scripture. The words About the resurrection that Paul told us to comfort each other with in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Meanwhile Jesus gives us strength and even joy as we live for Him.
Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?
My mother knew that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knew the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my would get on an airplane she sure didn’t feel that it was safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.
As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;
“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.
“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.
Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”
It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” “I always do those things that please my Father.” “I and my Father are one.”
But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.
Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.
Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.
Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.
Some say, how could Jesus have tasted the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!
Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.
Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.
Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.
There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.
Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!
Study: What does this tell us about Jesus’ human nature?
See Desire of Ages, Page 48. “It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.”
Share: Your friend says Jesus still does not know what its like to be tempted as a human, because while taking on human flesh He was still born of the Holy Spirit. What do you say to your friend? Hint: John 3:3, Ephesians 3:19-21, 2 Peter 1:4.
Read TogetherHebrews 5:1-4. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What did the High Priest do?
Apply: How is every believer a priest?
Share: A relative asks you if Jesus is our High Priest, why do we need earthly priests or pastors? How do you answer your relative?
As we consider the resurrection of Moses in this week’s Sabbath school lesson, lets take a look at the resurrection in general. In John 14 Jesus knows the disciples are going to miss Him when He goes away so he comforts them.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3 NKJV
Notice Jesus has to come again in order for His disciples to be with Him again. They do not die and go straight to heaven, otherwise Jesus would have comforted them by saying, “When you die you will go straight to heaven and see me.” He never even hinted at such a notion. Jesus makes it clear that they will only be reunited with Him when He comes again. He receives them unto Himself when He comes again, and not when they die. This is why the special resurrection of Moses was so important. Without it Moses would still be in his grave. If Moses died and went straight to heaven then his resurrection in Jude 9 would be meaningless. If we die and go straight to heaven then why is the resurrection be such a crucial theme of the New Testament? Let’s take a look at what the Bible really Says about death and the resurrection.
Why is it important to know the truth about death: The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal even if we have no relationship with God. This opens the door for spiritualism in which people may actually communicate with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones.
Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die,” not only was he lying, but he was also calling God a liar.
Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important: If you don’t really die, then Jesus did not really die for us, and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six-hour pain endurance marathon.
I remember sitting in a funeral for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew, sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.
For Further study on Death: What did Adam become? And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7
What returns to God? Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7
What is the spirit? All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; Job 27:3
What does God take that turns the body to dust? Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Psalm 104:29
What age-old question did Job ask? But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? Job 14:10
What is the Bible answer? So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12
Do the dead know what happens to the living? His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them. Job 14:21
How much do the dead know? For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5–6
What did Jesus call death? These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14
How long had Lazarus been dead? Then when Jesus came, he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already. John 11:17
Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven? Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24
What did Mary say? Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:32
Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave? And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11: 43-44
When are the dead raised? For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23
When do we receive immortality? Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Our hope and comfort: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
I love keeping score. I love statistics. I have entered on my computer every score of every match I have played and where I placed. I know I have annoyed a few of my golf buddies by adding up the score in the middle of a round. I learned early on some of my golf buddies don’t want their scores recorded, which as a statistics buff I found odd, but I learned to live with this uncanny fact. Granted I learned that there was more I needed to control on the golf course besides my swing. I needed to control my attitude. Your opponents, sand traps, water and woods can create some real challenges and obstacles, but all of those are beyond my control. I found there was an attitude inside my head that if I did not control it will surely do me in.
I tried not worrying about the score for the first several holes. I learned that most pro golfers do not even look at the leader board until they are over half way through the course.
I tried not worrying about the ball I just sent into the water or the other one that just now landed me in the woods. The only swing that matters is your next swing. The present is the only thing that matters. Do your best now. The past is gone.
I tell myself most of all enjoy a beautiful day on a beautiful golf course with your buddies. After all aren’t friends what life is all about. What golfer on his death bed wants to be surrounded by his trophies? None. They all want to be surrounded by their family and friends. I agree with this concept, yet I know after a super bowl victory Tom Brady does not text on Twitter, “Spent a fun evening with friends playing football.”
So what is it about the game of golf that makes it such a gentleman’s game (or ladies game just the same) to the point that score rarely matters when playing with friends if it matters at all?
Today while reading about Tiger Woods’ drama off and on the golf course over the years something just as profound as it is simple and obvious dawned on me. Fist of all I do not mean to single Tiger out as an example. Fact is we all have our struggles and demons. The pressure placed on him in childhood may have been less than ideal. His own expectations in adulthood may have been unreasonable. Like many of us he tried so hard to control all of the obstacles around him that he lost control of himself. While becoming a famous household name he was known by millions, but did he know himself anymore? Admittedly he did not. Relationships were unsatisfying. Instead of seeing people as friends he only saw them as obstacles in his way of greatness.
This is when the profound, simple and obvious dawned on me. I also Googled Arnold Palmer this afternoon, and found when Arnold Palmer was on his death bed in a Pittsburg hospital he was surrounded by family and friends. He was not surrounded by his trophies and awards. People were not obstacles in his way of greatness. People were what Palmer’s life was all about.
I realized why so many of my golf buddies don’t keep score or at least not as meticulously as I do. The happiest person on the golf course is not the one with the best score. It is not the one with the most money in their wallet. The happiest people on the golf course are the ones who are at peace with themselves. They control their own attitude instead of controlling the people around them. Their integrity buys them peace in the woods and sand traps as well as on the fairways and greens.
The greatest opponent is the one inside your head. The greatest achievement in golf is to walk off the 18th green at peace with yourself. And a score card wont ever reveal the peace in your heart.