Experiencing Discipleship

Experiencing Discipleship

Scripture: Mark 8:34, John 6:43-58, Matthew 17:1-13
Date: 02/24/2008  Lesson: 8
The gospels describe different groups of people and their experiences with discipleship to demonstrate the experience for us.
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Good morning. Happy Sabbath and welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church for another "central study hour." We're so glad that you're joining us from across the country, around the world, whether you're watching 3 weeks delayed on the various television networks, listening on the radio, or watching live this morning on our website at saccentral.org. We welcome you and we're so glad that you are a part of our family this morning. And we're gonna sing some of your favorite songs, the ones that you have written in with. And the first one is, "my shepherd will supply my need.

" This was a new one for us. We're excited to learn new songs, 'cause there's what? Six hundred songs in the hymnal and we don't sing all of them. So we're going to learn 104. We're gonna do all three verses of this one. And this is from laurel underwood in dundee, florida and travis fry in edmonton, alberta, Canada.

, All 3 verses. [Music] My shepherd will supply my need: jehovah is his name; in pastures fresh he makes me feed, beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake his ways, and leads me, for his mercy's sake, in paths of truth and grace. When I walk through the shades of death thy presence is my stay; with one word of his supporting grace drives all my fears away. His hand, in sight of all my foes, doth still my table spread; my cup with blessings overflows, thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days; o may thy house be my abode, and all my work be praise. There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come; no more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home. Thank you for that request. That was a beautiful song, wasn't it? It's always nice to learn new songs. If you have a favorite that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, go to our website, saccentral.

org, click on the music link and send in your requests. And we will sing those with you. The next request we have is, "face to face." And this is from doreen in new zealand; John in new zealand; Paul and thambony in south africa; katchanogo in algeria; rodnito in papua, new guinea; zarusha in china; sydney in bracknell, berkshire, england. And that is where I was born, so I was very excited this morning to have a song all the way from bracknell, england. Elaine in Ohio; marjorie in Georgia; maxon in Kansas; leo and dorothy in Michigan; roxanne in California; and malela in Maryland.

, "Face-to-face." And we will do verses 1, 2, and 4. [Music] face-to-face with Christ my Savior, face-to-face, what will it be, when with rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ, who died for me? Face-to-face shall I behold him, far beyond the starry sky; face-to-face in all his glory I shall see him by and by! Only faintly now I see him, with the darkening veil between, but a blessed day is coming, when his glory shall be seen. Face-to-face shall I behold him, far beyond the starry sky; face-to-face in all his glory I shall see him by and by! Face-to-face! Oh, blissful moment! Face-to-face to see and know; face-to-face with my redeemer, Jesus Christ, who loves me so. Face-to-face shall I behold him, far beyond the starry sky; face-to-face in all his glory I shall see him by and by! Aren't you looking forward to that day? This morning, I was reading about all the different worlds that are out there. And when we get to heaven, we'll be able to travel and visit with the people that have never sinned, but have been very interested on what we've been doing down here.

And we'll get to meet them and share with them what it was like to be down here on this earth, but most importantly, we'll get to all be together for one big family reunion in heaven. Aren't you looking forward to that? Let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, we thank you so much this morning for bringing us together here that we can worship you on another Sabbath day. We thank you so much for being our father, being our friend, and wanting to meet with us face-to-face. We're sinful people.

We live here on this little world that you created. And you have a special interest in us. And we are so thankful for that. And we want to spend eternity with you in heaven where we can just talk to you face-to-face. We look forward to that day.

And I just pray that we will all be ready. We thank you so much for Pastor Doug and the ministry that he has here at our church and around the world. And I pray that you'll be with him as he brings us the lesson study this morning. And also our extended family who are not here, that you will be with them as we study together. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning. Thank you very much, debbie, jessica, arlene, our musicians, our singers. Appreciate that. And welcome here, Sacramento central.

Those who are watching on tv, what you're doing is you're joining our weekly Bible study that we have on Sabbath morning before we have our regular worship service. And we're glad that we can broadcast and share this with you. Every quarter we go through a study guide, a quarterly. And right now we're about eight lessons into our quarterly dealing with the subject of Christian discipleship. And if you have been tuning in for some time and you think, "well, you know, I'd like to study along," if you just visit your Seventh-day Adventist Church and ask them, I'm sure they'll be happy to give you a copy of this.

And you can study with 'em. It's the study guide on discipleship. We always have a free offer also that we make available. Some people are in remote areas and they're watching on tv or listening on the radio or satellite. And you can mail in or call in for this.

And it's a study guide that will help strengthen some of the points in our lesson, talking about, "alone in the crowd," how to stand up for Jesus when you feel like you're alone in the crowd. This is a great Bible study, written by Joe Crews. Just send and ask for that. The number on your screen, which is 866-788-3966. Or that's an acronym for -study-more.

And ask for number 714. We'll be happy to send that to you. Today we are in our lesson number 8 on the subject of discipleship, more specifically experiencing discipleship. It's one thing for us to talk about being disciples. Is it required to be a disciple to go to heaven? Yeah, because a disciple really is a follower of Jesus.

You know I'm sure there's going to be those, a few, who will be saved in the 11th hour of their life, like the thief on the cross who maybe didn't get the time that he wanted to really walk with Jesus and to learn to be a disciple. But for most of us we are given that opportunity. We're invited to follow him, to learn to be disciples. And it's part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian, to learn to walk with Jesus, and to learn from the experiences. Two reasons: one is that we can learn about God and love for him; second reason is then in that walk, we can share with others.

And we got a couple of stories today that really help to illustrate that truth. We have a memory verse. It's from Mark 8:34. I always like to have our local class say that out loud with me if you will. If you just even read it right out of your lesson if you haven't got time to find that verse in your Bible.

Once again Mark 8:34. You ready? "And when he had called the people unto him, with his disciples also, he said to them, 'whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'" The Christian life is a life of self-denial and following Christ. Now before we go any farther, I want to try to clarify misconception. Self-denial does not mean self-happiness illumination. People think, "well, if I'm gonna deny myself, what it really means is take up my cross and follow Jesus and be miserable, because self-denial you can't be happy.

" That is the great myth. When Jesus calls us to self-denial, he's calling us to happiness. If you live for yourself, you cannot be happy. And so I used to think--pardon me--i said, "alright Lord, I'm gonna follow you and deny my happiness. Take up my cross--" pardon me.

And that, you know, following Jesus really means that you gotta just say, "no," to happiness, "yes," to misery and be a Christian. Take up your cross. It doesn't really mean that. Real happiness, real joy comes from self-denial. Let me ask you.

The majority of the people in the world, are they genuinely happy or not? Not. Are they seeking after selfishness? Yeah. So they are not denying self, and they are not happy. The rich, young ruler--Jesus said, "deny yourself. Give what you have to the poor.

Take up your cross. Follow me." He went away. He would not deny himself, miserable and rich. Those who forsook everything, like blind bartimaeus, he cast aside his filthy rags. His eyes were opened.

He followed Jesus with nothing but rejoicing. Isn't that right? And so when you really deny yourself, you're not denying happiness. Selfishness is what destroys our happiness. So I just wanted to clarify that. Now, we've got--oh, we got so much to share today that I've just got pages of notes.

And there's--again, it's so frustrating sometimes because there's so much to cover in the lesson. We're not gonna get it all. Let's just start with the first section here dealing with the subject of the bread of life. And I think we've distributed a few verses you're gonna help me read on the different high points of our days' studies. On the bread of life, I've given someone John 6:48-50.

"I am the bread of life. Your father ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die." That's the one. Thank you. Why are we using this passage where Jesus talks about himself being the bread of life in connection with discipleship? When you pray the Lord's prayer, does the word "bread" appear in there? What does it say? "Give us this day our--" "daily bread.

" Is that only a prayer for daily nourishment, or is there something deeper there? Jesus said what regarding himself? "I am the--" "bread." So when you pray, "give us this day our daily bread," what are you really also praying for? Daily input from Jesus, daily nourishment from Christ, Christ within daily, daily devotions. Part of discipleship is partaking of Jesus daily. Receiving him on a regular basis. You know most people--i have met people that get so involved in what they're doing they forget to eat. You know there's some eccentric people through history.

Thomas edison was just such a focused man that he had to be told to eat or he'd forget. He didn't even sleep. He'd finally get to the point of exhaustion, he'd lay down, he'd take a cat nap, get up and start working. Just--but he's a little eccentric. Most of us, we have an inner mechanism that reminds us to eat.

Right? Some of us it goes off, we have a lot of false alarms. We don't really need to eat, but we think we do. Wouldn't it be good if we all had such a dependable mechanism to hunger after Christ and thirst after Christ? And so following Jesus as a disciple means a regular partaking of him. And Jesus compares himself to something as basic as bread. Now there's a message I periodically share.

It's one of my favorites. I'll tell you right now. Three favorite things I like to talk about is, it's the devotional life, namely: reading the Bible-- bread--prayer, witnessing. And that's the key of discipleship. In the holy place of the sanctuary, you had bread, Jesus.

Bread was in the sanctuary. It's a basic. You had light. That's witnessing. "Let your light shine.

" And there was incense. That's prayer. And those are the key ingredients to a healthy Christian life. Regularity and personal devotions is gonna be synonymous. Your discipleship will almost always be in proportion to what are you doing about those three things? Are you eating bread every day? Are you praying? And then that will usually lead to the third: do you share your faith? Are you sensitive to that? Are you looking for opportunities to share your faith? And bread is a basic in life, the staff of life.

Jesus said, "I am the bread." He picked something that is just so basic. You know, sometimes you'll say, "come on over. We'll break bread together." And you may not just eat bread. You may not even have bread, probably will have some. But bread is just become synonymous with food, the rudimentaries of food.

And I thought it was interesting that it really doesn't matter if you're eating in a palace or if you're at the peasant's table. One ingredient that you'll find at almost any meal is what? Bread. Matter of fact, even when it comes to fast food, if you get pizza, what's also there? Bread. What good is the pizza without the bread? Well, do you got a glob of tomato sauce and cheese. It's the bread that gives it the essence.

Taco bell: do they have bread? Mcdonalds and burger king. I mean, you know, they didn't make a commercial that said, "where's the bread?" The commercial was, "where's the beef?" There was always bread. Matter of fact, they complained there was too much bread. Subway: what would you have without the bread? You'd have a lot of innards. That's right.

It'd be a salad bar or a delicatessen or something. I don't know. Even baskin robbins: they got a cone, which is made out of bread, right? I mean you think about it and you can scarcely name any kind of--you go to a chinese restaurant now and they've even got these little wheat things that you dip in the sweet and sour. There's bread somewhere. Noodles, spaghetti is bread.

Italian restaurant: bread. It's a basic of life. And so when Jesus--you notice Jesus didn't say, "I am the apple a la mode." He didn't spice it up. He just said, "bread." It's basic. And so reading the Word of God and having a daily relationship with Jesus in the context of the bread, it needs to be part of our everyday life.

When Jesus said, "I am the bread of life," he illustrated this to the disciples with a miracle. You remember the story. And you find this in Mark 6. He had been teaching all day long. He'd then connected a miracle with his teaching the word.

The miracle was that the people were hungry. And the disciples came to Jesus, and they said, "look, you need to send the crowd away. They've gone all day long listening to you. And they haven't even stopped to eat." Now that tells us something about Jesus. What he fed them was so compelling, they would forget their physical nourishment in preference for hearing him.

I've always thought how wonderful it would be if I could have the gift of preaching where people would not look at their watches at 11:45. And then they would not tell their watches to beep at noon. I know some people just forget to turn it off, but I think some set them to give me a subliminal signal. "Pastor, we're going a little long now. We've gotta eat our food.

" But Jesus, he could go all day long. And they just sat enwrapped, listening to his profound truth coming from his mouth. They didn't even think about eating. So they said, "Lord, you need to send the disciples away, so they can get something to eat." And he said, "you give them something to eat. Don't send them away.

" "Oh, well, how are we gonna feed a crowd like this?" He says, "well, what do you have?" Well they did an inventory. And they said, "we've got one boy here who didn't even eat his lunch yet." I mean Jesus was so good, even the kids forgot to eat. And then they took his lunch and brought it to Jesus: five loaves, two fish. He blessed it. They brought what little they had to Jesus.

He blessed it. He then gives it to the disciples, the apostles. They then distribute it to others. And, you know, it's hard to know exactly how it worked. Some have argued what happened is as Jesus broke it and put it in the hands of the disciples; it multiplied in Jesus' hands.

I don't think so. I think he broke it, put it in their hands and, you know, you could divide five loaves among twelve disciples. But then as they broke it and gave it to the people who are sitting in companies, it multiplied in their hands. Somehow, just like the bin of flour in Elijah's story with the widow's house, as they kept tearing it off, it just kept growing like an eternal pizza in their hands, or you know a loaf or somethin'. And as it just, you know, maybe it was like a big subway loaf.

And as they kept tearing it off, it just kept multiplying in their hands. And in giving it away, it grew. Now the reason I'm sharing this is one of the keys to discipleship, if you want to be a disciple, you bring your crumbs to Jesus. Meaning you study the Bible, you get some nourishment. And you know, when I study I pray.

Before I read the Bible this morning, I get on my knees by myself in the office and I pray real hard. 'Cause I had a busy week, didn't have as much time to study as I needed. I said, "Lord, you're gonna have to bless my crumbs. All I've got is crumbs." But you bring 'em to Jesus, he works a miracle, he gives it to you, it multiplies as you give it away, and you end up with more than you started with. They had 12 baskets leftover.

How many apostles were there? Twelve. Twelve baskets leftover. Who got to eat the most? They might have thought, "Lord, I'm hungry too. Do I have to give it all away?" But in giving it away, you get more. And matter of fact, the best way for you to remember what Jesus shows you is to share it with somebody else.

The best way for you to keep what Jesus gives you-- cast your what on the water? Bread. It's pretty basic stuff. "Cast your bread on the water, it will come back to you." And it multiplied in their hands. And so Jesus said that he is the bread of life; and to be a disciple, you've gotta know how to deal with the bread. Receiving it from the Lord, bringing your crumbs to him, asking him to bless it, and then you give it away.

Now having said that, does the Bible foretell that there'll be a famine in the last days? I didn't warn anybody. Someone go to the book of Amos, Amos 8:11, Amos 8:11. When you find that, raise your hand. We'll bring ya a microphone. I got a hand here.

Kwamboka, you got that? "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." So the Lord tells us that there's a day coming there'll be a famine. It is a famine for bread, but he says, not physical bread. It's a different kinds of bread. What kind of bread? Hearing the word of the Lord, a famine. Is it possible to have that kind of famine in the church? Is it possible to have multiple Bibles in our homes and on our bookshelves and still have a famine? Can people starve to death with a refrigerator and a pantry full? They can if they don't eat it.

You can die of malnutrition. Matter of fact, I've heard of a couple places in the world that people eat food that is non-nutritive. And because they're eating this food that doesn't have the appropriate vitamins and nutrition, they could be eating, but they're starving while they eat. I had a friend that was--he was only about full grown, foot 11, a little bow-legged, and he said as a child all his child gave him during the formative years was oatmeal. And he developed rickets.

Now oatmeal is good. It's got some nutrition in it, but it doesn't have everything you need. You can get scurvy eating oatmeal if that's all you eat. And so if people are not getting a balanced diet, they can starve while they're eating. You know, I understand that they've got this pyramid of nutrition that's put out by some government agency, food and agriculture.

And they talk about--you know what I'm talking about. At the pyramid, you've got your basic foods you should have an abundance of. And there you've got your grains, your legumes, and then it moves up and you've got your vegetables and your fruits. And then they say you've got your dairy and your milk. That should be the smaller part of the pyramid.

The very top of the pyramid you've got your soda and your candy, 'kay? Bottom of the pyramid you've got the most important things, the fundamentals, the grains and the breads and the beans. And then it moves up to, you know, the vegetables and the fruits. I'm not endorsing this. I just want to tell you fact. Fact is 90% of advertising dollars in North America go to promote the top of the pyramid, which is the most useless food.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread? You know most of the mental input that people get during the week is not spiritual food; it's worldly entertainment. And they're starving, diet of malnutrition, while they're eating. And then sometimes, you know, they come to church and they just get foam and no substance. There's a famine. We need bread.

Give us bread. What did they say to Joseph? "Give us bread. We're gonna die." And this is what we should say to Jesus, "give us that bread." So Jesus is the bread of life. Part of being a disciple is making sure you get that nutrition. Now, you know, in Monday's section, it talks about Jesus and the children.

I'd like someone to look up for me Matthew 18--i think I gave this out--Matthew 18:3-5. "Surely I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me." Very good, thank you. Being the disciple means being childlike in some ways.

Now is Jesus saying, "unless you become converted and act immature, you're not gonna enter the Kingdom of heaven?" I mean, you know, sometimes children do some childish things. Is the Lord telling us--what part of being childlike is he asking us to do? Does he want us to be loud at inappropriate moments? Does he want us to act irresponsible and reckless as children sometimes do and be immature? No, that's not the part of being like a child the Lord is endorsing. For one thing, children have an innocent faith. the Lord wants us to have that purity and that innocence that children have where they don't go around looking way down with a guilt of their life of sin. Christ wants us to have that lightness of heart and that hopefulness and that cheerfulness that children have.

Children live as though they've got eternity before them. You know the older you get, the more you become aware you've got limited time. When you're a child, you don't think about that. 'Cause God didn't make us to think about death. He made us to think about life.

We learn as we go on. So they've got this purity, this innocence. They've got a faith where they'll believe something simple that they hear. I remember a little girl that told me that her father used to tease her. She'd be walking around after a rainy day, she'd look in the puddle and see the reflection of the sky.

And The Father said, "don't step in that puddle," 'cause you know kids love to step in puddles and get their shoes all wet and muddy. He said, "don't step in that, you'll fall into the sky." And when she was real little, she heard that and she believed it, because innocent faith. And you know, how many fathers haven't teased their kids sometimes telling them something outlandish just because they knew they'd believe it? And what you do is you teach 'em to be cynical and jaded after awhile, because we normally have this faith where you believe. You know I think one reason the devil was able to deceive eve is because up until that point they had this childlike faith. Had she ever heard a lie before? So you believe what you hear.

When it comes to God's Word, the Lord wants us to have that childlike faith. He wants us to have hearts that are receptive. You know it's probably not too early--let me share something with you that we're really excited about. I don't know if any of you saw the broadcast on 3abn Thursday night. We were sharing some things there, but since the cat's out of the bag, I guess I can mention it here.

We are so excited about something that we're gonna be doing soon focused on children. We being Amazing Facts is doing this program in cooperation with 3abn. Let me tell you what happened. We were doing our radio program Sunday night and one of our members here, kristine brunkow, who leads out our Sabbath school department was talking about family Sabbath school--or vacation Bible school, sorry. And she said, "Pastor Doug, what if we did an evangelistic series just for kids during this vbs season?" And the more we talked about it, the more I thought about it, I got really excited.

And I thought, "boy, that is the time of life. We always do the evangelism; we focus on the adults. And statistically, you know what time of a person's life they're the most fertile, most likely to accept Christ? It's during those years between like 8 and 12, 13 years of age. That's when they are most inclined to say, "yes," to Jesus, 'cause their hearts, they got this innocent, they got this longing for God. And the want him, the Holy Spirit, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them is so unencumbered during that time.

Their hearts are just really fertile for Gospel seed. And I thought, "that's a great idea. Why don't we do an evangelistic series just for kids?" And the more I thought about it, I said, "this is a great idea. Why just do it here at central church? Why not do it and put it on satellite?" And you know, normally in the fall, Amazing Facts plans a revival or something that's really inreach for the church. And we thought, "let's do a -day series just for kids and a satellite evangelistic series.

And we're gonna do a new set of lessons just for kids during that age range. Kids can come and accept the Lord. Kids raised in the church, they can bring their friends. And make it interesting, you know, reverent, you cover the Gospel, but interesting. We got so excited about that.

And you know, i--of course nathan is still in that age group. And so I'm very sensitive to that. And so anyway, so we started thinking a lot about that. And you know, Jesus said to Peter, he said, "feed my sheep. Feed my sheep.

" Before he said that, he said, "feed my lambs." Jesus has a real interest in children, doesn't he? Those who are converted later in life are much fewer. But it does happen. Sometimes people go through a great conversion and they're , 60, 70 years of age. It happens. But so often the concrete sets and it's a little harder.

But I think what happens is sometimes along the way, God, the Holy Spirit works on them and he gives them a childlike faith once again. And if anyone is converted later in life, it's because they have a second childhood. They develop this childlike faith again and they believe the Word of God. Something has to happen, so that that shell is broken. And they believe the simple promises, like they're hearing them for the first time.

Jesus said, Mark 10:13, "let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Now who did he say this to? He's telling his disciples. We're studying discipleship. In learning to be a disciple of Jesus, they had to learn something about how Jesus felt about children. You remember the story.

The mothers bring their children to Jesus. And Jesus might touch them and bless them. And you and i, you know, that's not as common in our culture. When you go overseas, you see more of that. When I was especially in india, oh, lots and lots of people, they bring their children.

And they want you to touch 'em and bless 'em. Ladies bring their babies, and they're holding their babies. They say, "pastor--" you know, you don't even understand the language, but they use sign language. They tell you, you know, they take your hand. They put it on the baby, "bless the baby.

Pray for the baby." And they want you to touch them. They--and you know it is a Bible doctrine. It's not just cultural. Does the Bible talk about laying on of hands. Matter of fact, there's even a doctrine.

It talks in Hebrews about laying aside the rudimentaries of the faith like talking about baptism and the laying on of hands. They had a doctrine called the laying on of hands. And when someone was ordained, when someone was blessed, they put their hands on them. We don't do that much in our culture. You know we're kind of a little bit of a standoffish culture.

You go overseas, men walk hand-in-hand and it doesn't mean what it means here. It's just, it's a lot more common. And so you know they said, you know, "bless the children." Very rarely do I have people stop at the door--there's probably gonna be a rush today now that I've made this announcement--with their kids saying, "pastor, touch and bless our children." But they believe that the men of God, we're somehow vehicles through which God would communicate these blessings. And it came by touch. You know there's something to be said for--something happens when people touch each other.

And you know my heart goes out sometimes especially to those who are the widows and the widowers in the church, because you're married for many years and all of a sudden your spouse is gone. And you're used to a certain amount of touch and affection. Then all of a sudden months could go by with, you know, without maybe shaking hands with somebody. And you know some of the saints in our church--i won't name 'em--but they deliberately linger on their way out of church trying to soak up a few hugs, just because it means something to get that from people. Some people are a little more kinesthetic when they communicate.

Now, I think I've told you before, I don't like it when people poke you in the chest when they talk to you. I've, you know, I've got a few friends--well they're not even friends, because they, you know, they talk to ya and they're going like this when they talk to you. And I'm just--i gotta put my hands behind my back lest I swing at 'em. But you know, that's not the kind of touch we're talking about. But then you got some people that, you know, they'll put their hand on your shoulder or your side, or they'll, you know, want to take their hand--and they just, they let you know they care, touch.

And so when these mothers brought their children to Jesus--that was a long way of getting to my point--when these mothers brought their children to Jesus, they wanted him to convey this blessing through touch. And the disciples said, "oh yeah, their kids. He's busy. He hasn't got time for this. They're just kids.

What do they know?" And Jesus said, "oh no, no, no. This is the most important group." And that's why I told you, I got so excited about doing this satellite evangelism for kids. I thought, "what's taken us so long to figure this out? This is the most important group to reach when they're the most ripe to be reached." Oh, you know, by the way, if you want to know more about that, just go to the Amazing Facts website, click where it says, "contact us," and we'll send you information. I didn't mean for this to turn into a commercial, but this is so important. Anyway, so blessing the children.

Discipleship represents that priority. And it also--it represents having a childlike faith where you trust God. Christ would send them out. When children are going on a trip with their parents, do the children worry about packing or do the parents worry about it? Parents usually worry. Kids just, "get in the car? Okay, I got a bag back there.

I don't know who packed it. I don't know what's in it." But mom knows, right? Jesus sent out the disciples. How did he send them out? He said, "don't take extra sandals. Don't take an extra staff or script," at least the first time he sent 'em. He said, "I'll provide for you.

Trust me." So being a disciple means having a childlike faith. Now I'm not suggesting that you go on a mission trip and just take your passport. But you know what? I've seen a lot of miracles where people lost everything in a foreign land, 'cause their bags didn't make it and God did provide for 'em. Miracles of how he provides. So Jesus wants us to have that childlike faith.

I'm looking at the clock and I've got so much more to say. The transfiguration--we're on Tuesday now--the transfiguration and the failure. And we probably will not get a lot further than this. Did somebody have--i was gonna have somebody read Matthew 17, just verses 1 to 3. "And after 6 days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart; and was transfigured before them.

And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and elias, talking with him." Part of discipleship is the Lord wants us to experience glory. He wants us to see God. And in following Jesus, we get a picture of God. Christ said, "if you've seen me, you've seen The Father.

" In this experience that day, he handpicked three of his disciples. And he gave them a Revelation. Jesus reveals the divine to his disciples. How did it come? You follow him. Follow him where? Up the mountain.

Now when you think about mountains in the Bible, you've got--did God reveal himself on Mount Carmel to Elijah? Who was on that mountain that day? Moses and Elijah. Did the Lord reveal himself to Moses on a mountain? God--did Jesus reveal on mount calvary the love of God? So you follow him up a mountain for one thing. Who were the two people, let's just repeat that, that he saw on the mountain? Oh, by the way, if you read this story--oh, it's a great story. I've got just--matter of fact, I wrote a little booklet about this called "the glorious mount." It talks about the two witnesses. Moses are a type of the two witnesses.

The Word of God: Moses represents the law; Elijah represents the prophets. When Jesus went up the mountain that day and there were Moses and Elijah talking with him, that represented for the Jewish people the ultimate endorsement. Matter of fact, this story, I'm so surprised you hear so little about it in Christian churches. It is one of the high points in the Bible, because all through the old testament you've got the law and the prophets foretelling the coming of the Messiah, right? The pivotal introduction that Jesus was the Messiah happened before the cross. It's when Jesus went up the mountain with three witnesses--in the mouth of two or three witnesses, everything's established.

Peter, James, and John, he says, "all right get ready for this. You're wondering if I'm the one." Moses appears. Elijah appears. Moses died. In the book of Jude, verse 9, says that, "Michael resurrected him.

" And Elijah of course went to heaven in a fiery chariot. Moses and Elijah represent--Moses is the law. Elijah the greatest of the prophets. Even John the baptist came in the Spirit of Elijah. And so you've got Moses, the law and the prophets.

That's another term for the Word of God. You remember Jesus said, "beginning in Moses and all of the prophets, he expounded unto them, and all the Scriptures the things concerning himself," Luke 24. Moses and the prophets, or Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. It was saying the Word of God was endorsing that Jesus is the one. We're in the midst of a very interesting political season right now.

And as things are shaking down, both on the republic and the democratic and maybe even the independent side, everyone is vying for endorsements. Used to be that they would try to get the endorsements of, you know, the people of the greatest integrity in a culture. Because America's changed, now they want the endorsements of movie stars. I read something in, oh "newsweek" or "reader's digest." I was on the airplane yesterday. And some rock singer said, "who you gonna endorse?" Or someone asked this rock singer.

He said, "do you really care what endorsement the member of a rock band gives?" I mean should that be-- and I thought that was very perceptive. This member of a rock band said, "why do you care who--i mean, do we look like we got our act together?" That's what he was really saying. Is that how you're gonna chose who you're gonna vote for? These guys jumping around on stage all painted up with studs and snakes. And that's who--I'm gonna find out who he's voting for and that's who I'm gonna vote for. So everyone wants these endorsements.

And I shared this I think before, but the first book I wrote, other than the testimony book, still you know, nobody had ever heard of Doug Batchelor. It was a book on salvation. And george vandeman was alive and well back then. And he had come to our camp meeting. And I knew him a little bit.

And he later invited Karen and I to do some programs with him. And so I sent the manuscript to him. I thought, "man, if I can get george vandeman to endorse my book." And I was so thrilled he actually read it and wrote a little endorsement for me. Wow, now people will read it, 'cause it's got george vandeman's name on it. And that was very valuable to me.

Then I wrote this "mary" book a few years later and brother george had passed away. So when I sent it to "review and herald," I sent the manuscript, and the beginning of the manuscript it said, "this book is one of the most wonderful manifests of the Christian faith we've ever read," billy graham. So they e-mailed me back right away. And they said, "wow, how in the world did you get billy graham's endorsement." And I knew the editor there, and I said, "well, I haven't gotten it yet, but I know this is what he's gonna say." See I knew that they were gonna write me back on that one. And so it was just a little joke between me and them.

But you know, everybody wants these endorsements. Now if you're a jew, if you want to get someone to endorse the Messiah, can you name anybody that would give a better endorsement than Moses and Elijah? I suppose you could have added Abraham. That would be the only one I could think of. But the endorsement of Moses and Elijah is basically saying the Word of God was saying that Jesus is the Messiah. So as disciples, they follow Jesus up on the mountain.

And they have this Revelation of God. And Moses and Elijah are talking. By the way, do you know what they were talking about? You don't find that in Matthew and Mark, but Luke says, "they spoke with him regarding his sacrifice he was about to make, his sufferings." Moses and Elijah are encouraging Jesus to go forward with his great mission. And you can understand why. Think about this for a second.

Is anybody in heaven--can anyone be saved aside from Jesus? Come on! That should be a real quick, that's you know Christianity 101. Is anybody going to heaven because of their works? No. Is anybody gonna be there because of anything other than the blood of Jesus? Had Jesus died yet when this vision happened on the mountain? But are Moses and Elijah in heaven? So Moses and Elijah, is it safe to say are in heaven by virtue of an advance payment on the blood of Jesus? So you're Moses and you're Elijah and you're in heaven--Moses for oh 1,400 years and Elijah for 500 years--and you've been enjoying heaven, but Jesus hasn't died yet. Now what if Jesus changes his mind? Can you imagine sending anybody more motivated than Moses and Elijah to encourage Jesus to go through with his sacrifice? "Lord, we really like it up here. We'd like to say, but if you don't go through with this--" so who knows what they said, but I mean those were two really good emissaries to send to represent this.

Then after this experience, up on the mountain--the disciples when they go up the mountain, what are they doing at first? Again, only in Luke it says they climbed the mountain. They're tired. Peter, James, and John, they stretched out. They laid down to take a little siesta from this climb. Maybe they had a little lunch up there.

And they went to sleep. Well Jesus is praying. And he's praying--and you can read about this in the book, "Desire of Ages." He's praying and asking that God will give them a Revelation of his glory that will sustain them when he's on the next mountain. See this is just before the cross. They believe he's The Son of God now, but would they still believe it when they see him on the other mountain? And he says, "Lord, give them a Revelation that will bolster their faith.

" You know sometimes God gives us mountaintop experiences to sustain us when you go through the valleys. And that's one reason that God appears and Moses appears and Elijah appears. And God The Father says, "this is my beloved son. Hear him." I always thought this was a great story, because you've got the ultimate endorsement. You've got the endorsement of Moses, Elijah, and who else? The Father speaking.

There are really seven involved in this experience on the mountain. Three on earth: Peter, James, John. Three in heaven: Moses, Elijah, The Father. And one who transferred from human to divine and back to human that day. So when Jacob dreamed about a bridge reaching from earth to heaven, and Jesus later said to nathaniel, "I am that ladder on which you will see the angels of God ascending and descending.

" Jesus, on that mountain that day really was the link. You ever seen when you get two electric objects close together, there's an arc of light that goes between them. It's like heaven came down. the Spirit world came down and earth. And they got close enough.

And Jesus all of the sudden was the glorious ark between the two, the power transferred from heaven to earth through Christ that day. And it happened on the mountain. Seven all involved, three in heaven, three on earth, and Jesus, the seventh who gives us rest. That's a wonderful, wonderful study. So after this experience, they're coming down the mountain.

And then Jesus said something I really think must have been hard for the disciples. I don't think we're going to get to any of the other days here yet in our lesson. He said, "don't say anything about what you've seen until The Son of man be risen from the dead." Can you imagine how hard it would be for those fisherman not to tell that story. I mean fishermen like to tell stories whether they're true or not and especially if they're true and they have a--and boy, if they have an adventure, they want everyone to know about their adventure. Now, Peter, James and John have just seen Moses and Elijah.

And you might say, "well, how did they know it was Moses and Elijah? Well, they had no video or photographs. Probably because Jesus addressed them as such, they knew. They've seen Moses and Elijah and they're not supposed to tell anybody. That must have been really hard for them not to tell about that experience. So they've got this great knowledge that they can't share right away 'til Jesus has risen from the dead.

And what happens when they get to the valley? The disciples, while they've been up on the mountain with God, the disciples have been in the valley with the devils. The disciples go from the mountain with Jesus where he's glorified, and now they come down to the valley and they're met by a father who's got a boy who has been possessed with a devil that sometimes throws him in the fire. And it sometimes throws him in the water to destroy him. You remember the story? And while Jesus is up the mountain with Peter, James, and John, this father says to the boy--the disciples that are there, the other nine, "can you do anything to help my boy?" And they try and they can't cast out the devil. And the scribes and pharisees say, "oh, see you don't have any power.

You can't do it." And they're mocking 'em. And Jesus comes to this scene, an incurable, evidently demon-possessed boy. By the way, I think it's interesting that the devil tried to destroy that boy with two extremes. You're gonna probably talk about this in the sermon in a few minutes. Fire and water are opposites, aren't they? the Lord doesn't--the devil doesn't care, I should say, whether or not you're destroyed through legalism or liberalism.

There are two extremes. He doesn't care whether you're a sadducee or a pharisee, as long as you're not on the middle of the road. And whether it's the fire or whether it's the water. Now fire and water are good. Controlled, we're all thankful for them.

Most of you came to church today and you had fire and water circulating in your car, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Your body is constantly circulating and burning at the same time. And they're not bad, controlled. Uncontrolled, they can kill you. This boy was being thrown in the fire and the water.

And Jesus cast him out. And later the disciples came to him. They said, "Lord, how come we couldn't cast him out? He said, "this kind cometh not forth except by prayer and fasting." So the Lord was saying, "you can, but you need a deeper experience for these bigger problems." Now, isn't it interesting? You think anything that the Lord did was by accident? In following Jesus that day, Peter, James, and John went up a mountain with Jesus. Part of their discipleship was following Jesus through these Revelations of glory where they were speechless. And they said, "oh man, now we understand," hearing-- "we've the word of Moses.

We've heard the word of Elijah. The word has come alive for us with Jesus." By the way, it's through Christ the word comes alive, right? And they go from that. They come down the mountain. You read, "Desire of Ages," it says, "they were glowing," like Moses when he came down the mountain. They'd wondered what they'd seen, where they'd been.

The disciples picked up some of that radiating glow from Jesus. They come down a mountain. Their faces are glowing. And what do they see? That the jealousy and the fighting and the devils and the valley, the disciples say, "oh man, we can't cast a defeat in the--" victory on the mountain, defeat in the valley. Isn't that interesting? You know why Jesus uses that? The Christian life has mountains and valleys.

Just a minute left. There's a story in the Bible where God gave the children of Israel victory over the syrians in the mountains. The syrians came back to the King, and they said that the reason that they won is 'cause their God is a God of the mountains. Our Gods are Gods of the valleys. If we fight them next time, let's fight them in the valley and we'll win.

God then came to king ahab, wasn't even a good king. He says, "look, I'm gonna give you victory again, not because you deserve it, but I'll tell you why. They think I'm only God of the mountains. I want them to know I'm God of the mountains and I'm God of the valleys." And so he gives ahab victory in the valley too. Did Jesus cast out the devil in the valley? Only after apparent defeat.

So Christian discipleship is a life of ups and downs. Don't get discouraged. You know, you never stay on the mountain very long. And some of you may think you've been in the valley a long time, but you keep following Jesus he'll take you back up a mountain. He'll give you fresh Revelations.

And if you're working for the Lord, it's gonna be like this. Was Jesus with them on the mountaintop? Was Jesus with them in the valley? You're gonna have Revelations of glory. And you're gonna have battles with demons. As long as Jesus is with you, you can make it. Amen? So that's what discipleship is.

It's following him and learning from experience how do you relate? The high points. The low points. The good the bad. And I know I didn't get to everything. I wasn't even gonna try to go through Matthew 24 in this short time.

For our friends, I want to remind you there's a free offer if you did not hear. Just call 866-788-3966, ask for offer number 714. We'll be happy to send that to you. In the meantime, keep studying the word. And be ready for lesson number 9 next Sabbath as we continue here at Sabbath school central church.

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