Times of Loss

Scripture: Philippians 3:8, Mark 5:22-24, 1 Peter 5:6-7
Date: 06/01/2019 
Lesson: 9
"This week, as we continue to look at family life, we will look at it in the context of the various times of loss."
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Doug Batchelor: Every now and then, in the panorama of history, we hear about individuals that go from the lowest depths to the highest pinnacles. They emerge from the shackles of prison to lead and inspire a nation. Take Joseph for instance. He's sold by his brothers as a slave, then falsely accused and thrust into the prison. Yet, through a series of divine circumstances, he miraculously goes from the prison to the palace, ruling the ones who once imprisoned him. Sound farfetched? It's happened in history more than you think.

South Africa is the home of just such a leader. Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly to establish peace and freedom in his country, and his influence was felt around the world. Before freedom, there must be forgiveness. Like Joseph, who was unjustly accused for a crime he did not commit, Nelson Mandela was accused of terrorism and sentenced to life in prison on Robin Island. He was often exposed to cruel punishment and abuse, but even in the midst of apparent failure and discouragement, he never lost heart, he never gave up. After years in prison, a growing number of supporters rallied for his release, and eventually it took place. And God used him so that he was instrumental in helping to abolish racial segregation in the country of South Africa. Incredibly, he now was virtually the absolute leader in the country that had imprisoned him. He had all of the tools and the power at his disposal to get even with the prison guards and others that had mistreated him. Instead, Mandela chose forgiveness.

It reminds me of that verse in the Bible in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 32: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you." I'm so thankful that Nelson Mandela, like Joseph, chose to forgive those who were once his enemies and to serve his nation with love and courage. You can find a number of examples of this happening in the Bible. You have Daniel, who was a captive from the land of Judah, and yet God arranged things where he becomes a prime minister in the kingdom of Babylon. You have Esther, who was a poor orphan girl in Persia, and yet God worked things out where she becomes the queen of that country. The book of Jeremiah ends with an incredible story of a young king named Jehoiachin, who was in a Babylonian dungeon for 37 years and then, King Evil-Merodach has mercy on him, and he has a new status, going from the prison to the palace. This is what the Lord wants to do for you and me, friends. He gives you the bread of life. He gives you the robe of Jesus's righteousness. He gives you a seat at his table. If you accept his forgiveness and you're willing to pass it on, you and I can live and reign with Christ. Wouldn't you like that experience?

Jean Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. It's part of what we call, "Sabbath School," and I'd like to welcome our online members, our friends who are joining us across the country and around the world, our extended study class, as well as our regular members and visitors. We're glad that you are with us today, ready to study the next lesson in our series talking about the family. For the last few weeks, the last nine weeks, we've been talking about "Family Seasons." That's our lesson quarterly. Today we find ourselves on lesson number nine, entitled "Times of Loss," something that, you know, all families go through at one point or another, and we'll be getting into our study in just a few moments.

We do have a free offer we'd like to let our friends know about, a book that goes along with the theme of our study this morning. It's entitled "When the Brook Dries Up, Why do Christians Suffer?" This free offer, if you'd like to receive this book, all you'll need to do is give us a call. The number is 866-788-3966, and ask for offer number 171 or you can send us a text and we'll be able to send you a digital copy of the book. If you could text the code "SH074" to the number 40544, and then you'll be able to get a download of the book "When the Brook Dries Up." And I think you'll find this encouraging. I know every person, every family goes through times of loss, and that's a great encouragement. Well, before we get to our study this morning, we'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward, and they'll be leading us in our worship music today.

Female: You at home, I invite you to pull out your hymnals, and we are gonna sing hymn 474, "Take the Name of Jesus With You." We're gonna sing all four verses. And I hope that that's what you are doing every single day, is taking the name of Jesus to a dying world.

♪♪♪ ♪ Take the name of Jesus with you,

♪ ♪ child of sorrow and of woe,

♪ ♪ it will joy and comfort give you,

♪ ♪ take it then where'er you go.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, O how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Take the name of Jesus ever,

♪ ♪ as a shield from every snare.

♪ ♪ If temptations round you gather,

♪ ♪ breathe that holy name in prayer.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, O how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Oh the precious name of Jesus,

♪ ♪ how it thrills our souls with joy.

♪ ♪ When his loving arms receive us,

♪ ♪ and his songs our tongues employ.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, O how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ At the name of Jesus bowing,

♪ ♪ falling prostrate at his feet.

♪ ♪ King of kings in heav'n we'll crown him,

♪ ♪ when our journey is complete.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, O how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

♪ ♪ Precious name, precious name,

♪ ♪ O how sweet, how sweet.

♪ ♪ Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

Jean: Amen, thank you, song leader, for opening our time of study with song. Let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father, once again, we are grateful that we have this opportunity to gather together in your house, open up your Word, and study a topic that, Father, we know you're familiar with, that of loss, for you gave your only begotten Son. And as we talk about different experiences that families go through, that individuals go through, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and guide us. Thank you that you've promised to be our Comforter in whatever trial a person might be going through, and we ask this all in Jesus's name, amen.

As mentioned a little earlier before our song, our topic today is dealing with loss, when families go through loss, and Pastor Doug will be joining me. I guess we're gonna be doing this together, Pastor Doug, studying together.

Doug: Morning, everyone, how are you? Happy Sabbath, you mentioned the offer already.

Jean: I did.

Doug: You did? Okay, I guess I wasn't payin' attention. Well, good to see each of you. We're dealing with lesson number nine in our study on "Family Seasons," and it's talking about when you have times of loss in the family. We have a memory verse that comes to us from Philippians chapter 3, verse 8, and this is in the New King James Version if you wanna locate that. You can either read it right there out of your quarterly or in your Bibles, Philippians 3, verse 8. Are you ready? I'd like you to say it with me: "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ." You know, if you live long enough, you are going to experience some element of suffering or loss in your family. And the Bible gives us some guidance on how we can cope with those times. Some of you, chances are, many who are listening now, if not here, certainly those who are joining us online, have experienced different elements of loss. Now, I'm actually gonna start with a verse you might be surprised, in Matthew 25, verse 35. This isn't in the lesson, but it kinda gives a backdrop. Matthew 25:35, Christ says on the great judgment day he'll separate the sheep from the goats, and he'll say, in essence: "'I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.'" And in all of these passages, he's basically describing some form of suffering. And then he says, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." God wants us to care for those who are suffering around us. And in those six categories that are mentioned, you can sort of define all the suffering of life. If you live long enough, at some point you'll get sick. I remember meeting one or two people in my life that said, "I have never been sick a day in my life. I never missed a day of school. I never missed a day of work because of sickness," and I just really was angry with them that they never had that. But in most people's lives, there's gonna be some sickness that will come. There will be loss. You know, unfortunately, in the course of life, as time goes by, you may have to bury your parents. You may have to stand by the grave of a sibling. You may have to, God forbid, stand by the grave of a child, a spouse. And it's sort of in the course of events that these things happen. There's accidents, there's sickness. How do we, as Christians, in our families, deal with these different kinds of loss?

Jean: Well, you know, the Bible begins by describing a beautiful paradise. God created the world. It was perfect. He created a beautiful garden, created Adam and Eve. The garden was their home. And then, after sin comes to the picture, suddenly we begin to see loss. Adam and Eve lost access to the tree of life. They lost their robes of light. They ended up losing the garden. They ended up losing a son as a result of murder, and then eventually, as time went on, we don't know who died first, but whether it was Adam or Eve we're not sure, but they lost their spouse. And so the Bible begins by revealing to us the consequences of sin. One of those consequences is that we live in a world where there is loss, where there is sorrow. And yet, at the very beginning, when we begin to read about loss, we also read about hope and the promise of a Redeemer, and the promise that one day, God is gonna make all things new.

Doug: Yeah, when man was evicted from the garden, he lost access to the tree of life, and then he lost his vitality and began to die. I'm sure there are some herbalists out there that would live to find out what was that essence in the tree of life, bottle it, and sell it. You'll make a lot of money. And a lot of people claim they've found it, but I've not really found any of 'em to be telling the truth. But the Bible then tells us in the first three chapters, they lose the tree of life, they lose their life, their vitality. The last three chapters of the Bible, that tree is restored, and eternity and paradise are restored. So, the Bible talks about tremendous loss, and then it ends with tremendous restoration, which is the good news. And then we have some example. Maybe Pastor Ross will read the first one, loss of health. You have some examples, and it takes one story from Mark 5. Why don't you read 22 to 24?

Jean: Mark chapter 5, starting in verse 22, it's a familiar story, it says: "Behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw him," that's Jesus, "he fell at his feet and he begged him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay your hand on her, that she might be healed, and she shall live.' So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed him and thronged him."

Doug: Yeah, that's about the hardest thing that anyone could experience, is to watch your children suffer, and especially suffer at the point of breath, you're wondering if one of those breaths is gonna be their last. You know, Ellen White had four boys. Two did not survive to adulthood, and she describes the incredible suffering. I mean, here's a believer. I thought that believers, you're not supposed to have those kind of experiences. But God is gonna set angels about your children, and they'll never get sick, and they'll never have an accident, but the Bible doesn't teach that. This is a leader of the synagogue, and he seems to be a good man, and he's got a daughter at the point of death. And then, on the way to resurrect--or on the way to heal her daughter, Jesus is stopped because he's being thronged by this crowd. And very quickly, I'll throw in this story, and then I'll have you read the remaining verses there. You remember, this woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, she came and she stopped him and she touched him. And Jesus paused and he explained that "your faith has made you whole." And she rehearses the story, and it's, you know, a wonderful example of healing. But right after he heals that woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, someone then comes to Jarius--Jarius, Jairus, it's said both ways. And says, "Don't trouble the Master anymore. Your daughter's dead." So you can imagine his devastation. And matter of fact, I'm jumpin' into those verses. I'll let you read 'em.

Jean: Yes, it starts in verse 35, still in Mark chapter 5. It says: "While he was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house and said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not be afraid; only believe.' And he permitted no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. Then he came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and he saw a tumult and these were those who wept and wailed loudly. Then he came in, and he said to them, 'Why make you this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.' And they ridiculed him. But when he had put them all outside, he took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with him, he entered into where the child was lying. Then he took the child by the hand, and said to her, 'Talitha, cumi,' which translated means, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.' Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. But he commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given to her to eat."

Doug: Now, I have to guard myself here that I just don't launch off into a sermon 'cause this is a sermon right here waiting to be preached. But I should probably just say, what does sleep represent biblically? Jesus said, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps." And what did he mean by that? "He's dead." So this girl was dead. Jesus called it, "Asleep." Now, if you are a believer and you lose a child, especially if they die before the age of accountability, how should you look upon that child's death? Are they dead, or are they sleeping until the resurrection? So that's one lesson we could learn, and Jesus can raise those who are sleeping. The other thing is that he was tempted to be discouraged by the friends and family at the funeral. Have you ever noticed, sometimes friends at the funeral don't always say the most sensitive things, and even family members? And Jesus put 'em all out. He said, "Look, you need to look to me in this time of grieving and have faith that I am still with you." And, of course, he works a miracle and he raises this little girl. I also think it's interesting that you have a woman who is bleeding for 12 years, and she is embedded in the story of a young girl who is 12 years old. And I've always seen in that story you've kind of got an overview of the plan of salvation, the Old Testament. You've got God's church with a continual flow of sacrificial blood, but they're not healed by the blood of animals. And then you've got this girl who's 12 years old. Twelve is the number for the church. Revelation 12, not that the chapter means anything, you've got a woman with 12 stars above her head, and she's a symbol for God's church. New Jerusalem, 12 foundations, 12 gates, tree of life, 12 times of fruit, 12 times a year. That's the church. And so here you've got, like, the New Testament church is that girl. He resurrects her, gives her something to eat. The New Testament church is born with the Resurrection of Christ, and then he opens the Word, gives her something to eat. And so, this story has got a much deeper meaning. But I think it's also there just to tell us that Jesus is there with us to comfort us. He says, "Do not weep." He's trying to comfort them during this time of tremendous loss. Now, we've got another story. I don't know if you wanna read this one.

Jean: We do, another one also related to Jesus performing a miracle, this time healing. And this is not occurring with a Jew, but it's rather interesting, a woman that Jesus encounters when he leaves the territory that was occupied by the Jews. And as far as we know, he went up into this area and performed this one miracle and then returned back home. It's the only thing that we know of that Jesus did when he went up there. And you'll find the story in Matthew chapter 15, and it starts in verse 21. I'll just read a few of these verses, and then, Pastor Doug, you can expound on that a little it. It says: " Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon," or Sidon. "And behold, a woman of Cana came from the region and cried unto him, saying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.' But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she cries out after us.' But Jesus answered and said, 'I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' Then she came and worshiped him, saying, "'Yes, Lord,'" but she said, "'Even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the masters' table.' Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

Doug: Yeah, now, that's a difficult story because, you know, most of the time, when someone asked Jesus for help, he helps 'em. Here this woman is pleading on behalf of her daughter, who's terribly harassed by a devil, and he said, "It's not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." Have you ever wondered sometimes why the Lord doesn't seem to answer your prayer right away? Why did he give such a harsh answer to her? First of all, I think that he's trying to teach the disciples a lesson because the disciples believed the Gentiles were dogs. You remember that the poor man was at the rich man's door, begging to be fed with the crumbs that fell from his table, and the dogs came and licked his sores. And in New Jerusalem, it says, "Outside of the dogs--" They always thought that the unbelievers, the pagans, the Gentiles were the dogs. And so Jesus is giving her an answer the way the religious leaders would have answered her, and he wanted to show the disciples--for one thing, he's testing her faith. He's also wanting to show the disciples how harsh their view is. And he said, "No, it's not appropriate to take the children's food and give it to the dogs. I'm only sent to the house of Israel." But one more thing I just gotta interject here. Jesus, like Elijah--do you know, Elijah went and stayed with a widow in Tyre and Sidon, and he worked a miracle of a resurrection? Here, Jesus makes this one trip outside of the territory of Israel, and he performs a miracle for this woman for her child as well. So he's doing kinda the work Elijah did, showing that his ministry also is gonna go to the Gentiles. But does the Lord always answer our prayers the first prayer? He gave her an answer. She could have thrown up her hands and said, "I'm going home." But she persisted. When you're interceding for your loved ones, don't be discouraged. Don't lose faith. You're praying for your children, you may have to pray for years. Praying for a spouse or a parent or a sibling or somebody that doesn't know the Lord. They seem to be spiritually harassed, or maybe they're struggling, persistent prayer, plead after Jesus. She would not be discouraged by his answer. She said, "Yes, Lord, but even the little dogs," here she says, "Puppies," "eat the crumbs. Give us some crumbs." And Jesus said, "O woman, great is your faith!" You know, a couple of times, Christ commends people for their great faith, and they're Gentiles. You remember the centurion? Said, "You don't even need to come to my house." He said, he paused, he marveled, "What great faith!" And this woman said, "Yeah, but you could at least give us some crumbs." He says, "What great faith!" So, sometimes the Lord tests us because he's looking for what? Strength in our faith by delay. Don't be discouraged if your prayers are not answered right away. Sometimes your faith grows. Muscles don't grow overnight. It usually takes time. You have anything to add to that?

Jean: I was just gonna say that it's interesting that you find in these examples is that you have the parent interceding on behalf of their child. Well, how true that is in a spiritual sense. I'm sure there's many times where parents intercede for the health of their children. But how much more is it where parents are interceding for the spiritual health of their children? And the lesson is, we are not to give up, right? We are to be persistent in bringing our prayer requests before the Lord. Not that God is unwilling to answer it, but our faith needs to grow. We need to grasp ahold of that wonderful promise and cling to it. So, some important lessons there. Well, we have another story dealing with the subject of sickness and family loss, and a miracle that Jesus performed. This is in Luke chapter 4, verse 38. It say: "Now he arose from the synagogue and he entered into Simon's house. But Simon's wife's mother was sick with a fever, and they made the request of him concerning her. So he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them." You know, I find it interesting. In this story, we have Jesus calling the first disciples. This is right at the beginning of Christ's public ministry, and here Peter is, and Christ has called him to give up his fishing for fish and come be a fisher of men. And Peter might have thought, "Well, Lord, what about my family? How am I gonna provide for those who are dependent upon him?" And I think in this miracle where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, Christ is illustrating the truth that if God calls us to a special work or service for him, he's very aware of the needs of our family and those who are dependent upon us, and he will provide for the needs--not only for our needs, but also for our loved ones. And so there's comfort and encouragement, I think, in that story.

Doug: Yeah, this also is as reminder. Peter had invited Jesus to stay in his house. If Jesus is in your house, it's to Jesus's advantage to heal the people in the house. Why did he heal her? I shouldn't say just why he healed her, but you notice after he healed her, she served him. It says, "Soon as she was healed, she got up and served." Why does God heal us? So we can serve him. And so, if you want healing, then invite the Lord into your house and into your heart. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And then be willing to use your healing to serve him. Some people say, "Lord, heal me, heal me, heal me. I can't enjoy my sin anymore, I'm sick." I mean, really, that's--you know a lot of people that are out there and when they're sick--they're not servin' the Lord. They're sick and they want healing, but why do they want healing? So they can enjoy sin again. And that's not why we should pray for healing. We should say, "Lord, I wanna be healed so I can serve you." Now, here's something tough. Would you ask the Lord to make you sick if it would glorify him? Some people glorify God through their health. Some people glorify God through their sickness. God told Paul when he prayed, said, "I've got this thorn that's tormenting me. Lord, please heal me." I mean, here Paul prayed, and other people were healed, but he had something. And three times God said, "No, my strength is made perfect in weakness. You're gonna glorify me better through your sickness or through your malady," whatever it was.

Jean: And before we move on to the next section, which is Monday's lesson, talking about "Loss of Trust," just one additional point. We need to keep in perspective the suffering that we go through. I know it's difficult when we go through suffering, but we wanna keep that in perspective. I remember my father, a number of years ago, had a very serious illness, and at the time it didn't look very promising. We had a special anointing service for him, and during this time, we were praying, and our church was praying, and he had a dream. And in the dream, he saw himself standing on the seashore, and he was holding in his hand a glass, and it was filled with water. But then he noticed a crack down the side of the glass, and some of the water was coming out of the crack. And in his mind, he felt as though the water was his life, and the crack was there and the water was running out as if his life is just, you know, going away. And he's trying to stop somehow the water from coming from the glass. And then he had an impression in his dream to look up. And he looked up, and he saw the ocean spread out before him. And the conviction came to him, "You are so worried about this little bit of life that you have right here, trying to protect it, but God has an eternity in store for you." And it brought a degree of peace, knowing that, yes, God does have things in control. This world and this life is not all we have, but if our faith is in Jesus, there is hope for something much better. Now, I think, as Christians, we need to keep that in mind. It gives us perspective.

Doug: Amen, good point. Next section is "Loss of Trust," and this is difficult, but does the Bible tell us that sometimes there's loss in trust in families, a sense of betrayal? Yeah, you can look at a number of examples about this. Matter of fact, you've got "Loss of Trust Part 1" and "Loss of Trust Part Two." I almost feel like I need to go to "Loss of Trust Part 2," start with that, and then go back to the solutions, which are in part 1. What happened to Joseph? Not Joseph the mother--or the father of Jesus. I'm talking about Joseph the son of Jacob. Was he betrayed by his family? Was there a loss of trust? And can that be difficult? You can read here in Genesis chapter 37. You wanna read that, Pastor Ross?

Jean: Genesis chapter 37, starting in verse 27. It says: "'Come and let us sell him,'" this is the brothers of Joseph. "'Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.' And his brothers listened. Then the Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him up out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twelve shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt." What an experience, being, first of all, grabbed by your brothers, thrown in the point. You hear them conspiring to put you death, and then you get dragged out and get sold as a slave from your brothers. Talk about betrayal.

Doug: Yeah, and they took the money and probably wasted it, spent it on something foolish. And he lost his freedom. Not only did he end up becoming a slave, he spent years in prison. Now, how would you be feeling during those times? Would you be brooding over how to get even with your brothers? Would you be wishing bad things and wrath to come down upon them? Well, how did Joseph end up responding? Well, he kinda tested his brothers, but did he forgive them? Yeah, Matthew chapter 6. Now I'm going back to "Loss of Trust Part 1." Matthew 6:14: "'If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.'" So one of the keys is we've gotta practice forgiveness. Now, this can be tough. When Jacob stole his brother's birthright--we've just talkin' about these in our prayer meeting during the week. What was Esau's initial reaction?

Jean: He was ready to take his brother's life.

Doug: Wanted to kill him at first, and he probably thought that for years. But finally, when Jacob came home, and Jacob was wrestling with the angel and praying, I think some angels went and talked to Esau. And then Jacob sent all of these gifts to show he was sorry, that he wasn't coming to take his father's inheritance, he had plenty. And finally softened Esau's heart, and they embraced each other.

Jean: You know, Pastor Doug, I like the response with--and this, I think, is just so powerful to give us a perspective of a person that has hope and faith in Christ. After the death of Joseph's father Jacob, the brothers, this is still in Egypt, they began to think about what they had done, and they got a little nervous, thinking, "Now that Jacob is gone, probably if Joseph's gonna take revenge on us, it's gonna be now." So they came very humbly before Joseph, bowing before him, and basically asking for mercy. And Joseph says--you know, they say, "Please don't take revenge." I'm paraphrasing. And I like the response of Joseph. He says, "You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good," to save life. And of course, it was through Joseph that his family's life was spared. And that's Joseph's perspective. He had given his life to God. He trusted in God and that God would work things out. And at the end, there's no hostility between Joseph and his brothers, but he genuinely forgives them. I think that can only really happen if we genuinely understand God's forgiveness of us that we're able to forgive others.

Doug: Yeah, Joseph even wept when they came to him. He wept that they thought that he would do something like that. And that leads us to James 5, verse 16: "Confess your trespasses one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." And the word "effective, fervent" is talking about ongoing prayer, persistent prayer. I won't ask you to raise your hands, but have you known a family where people in the family don't talk to each other? It's kinda sad, isn't it? My mother--I can talk about them, I guess, respectfully now. My mother and my grandmother did not talk for nine years. They had an argument. It was difficult too 'cause my mom would send my brother and I to California from New York City to visit Grandma and back again, but she'd never communicate with her. They had some argument about somethin'. I don't even know what it was. I really don't. Finally, one day my brother got on the phone with Grandma and he said, "Here, talk to Mom." And he was just, he was like 11 years old, and he thrusts the phone over to my mother. And she took the phone, and they said a couple of grudging words. And then, all of a sudden, it broke the ice. They became good friends again. But, yeah, you've probably known that. Family members, they just can't forgive, or, "You betrayed me," or siblings, they don't talk for years. And now there may be cases--let's suppose you're a believer and you got a family member that's not a believer, and whenever you're with them, they just ridicule your faith and it's just almost impossible. I've known cases where people have told me what the situation was. I said, "You may need to just pray for them and decide that you've gotta live a life without bein' involved in their life." There are cases where it's just really hard to reconcile, but you don't wanna harbor any bitterness in your heart. As far as possible, especially if you're Christians, you should try to be able to communicate and love each other.

Jean: You know, Pastor Doug, I remember we did a series of meetings, I think it was Romania, and you spoke on the subject of forgiveness, if you'll remember that. And afterwards, somebody related a story that there was two brothers, if I understand it correctly, and a dad there, and the father and one of the sons had not spoken for a very long time. They all claimed to be Christians, hadn't spoken for years.

Doug: Went to the same church.

Jean: Went to the same church. You wonder how you could even do that. But during this sermon on forgiveness that Pastor Doug was preaching, somewhere along the line, one of the brothers motioned to his brother and he said, and he pointed to his father, "Can you call dad?" And I guess--I don't know if he did the same thing to his dad—

Doug: And they called after the service, yeah.

Jean: They called, and there was an opportunity for 'em.

Doug: I don't know how it worked out, but I guess they finally decided to communicate.

Jean: Finally, yes, and these are Christians. So, I mean, talk about Christians and being loving and forgiving, that's something that I think especially needs to begin with families. We need to be able to forgive and love our family.

Doug: What's the number-one attribute of God? "God is love." And we should have that love. You look in 1 John 4:18. It says: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." When you look in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 32, and Pastor Ross, I'll have you read in a moment Colossians 3, verse 12 and 13 because they're similar. Ephesians 4, verse 32: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." [whistling] How do we forgive each other the way God forgives us? That's pretty complete forgiveness. But he's sayin' that "how merciful has God been with you? Pass it on. If you wanna keep his forgiveness, you gotta pass it on."

Jean: We find something similar in Colossians chapter 3, verse 12 and 13: "Therefore, as the elect of God," he's talking to the church, "holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." Of course, that can be a tall order, especially if you've been deeply hurt by a family member or a close friend. And it does require prayer and a time of healing. But that's what God wants us to do. He wants to give us the grace and the ability to forgive. Now, when we talk about forgiving someone, it doesn't mean that--you've heard the saying, "Forgive and forget." Well, that's not always the case. I mean, sometimes things have been done that you just can't forgive, but in forgiving someone, you're letting it go. You're not brooding. You're not thinking on it. You're not allowing it to eat you up in the inside. You've turned it over to the Lord, and you've forgiven them. And then, if they don't respond, if they don't give back that forgiveness, you leave it with the Lord. As far as you're concerned, you wanna have peace as far as possible.

Doug: Yeah, you're doing your part. Part of the reason you forgive them is not just for them. It's for you because the bitterness hurts you. He who practices vengeance digs two graves, you know, one for your enemy and one for yourself. And so, can you think of some examples in the Bible of family feuds? Who was the man after God's own heart in the Bible? David, did he have any problems in the family? Did he have a son that wanted to kill him? What was the final attitude of David towards Absalom who wanted to kill him? He said, "Deal gently with the young man Absalom," and when he died, he wept for him. He didn't say, "Good riddance." And so he had that love. Look at that, that patient love of a father for a son that wants to kill you. I mean, that's pretty--it tells us something about the love of God. Go ahead.

Jean: Yeah, just to kinda add to that, even though we find in the Bible some terrible accounts of family feuds, we can also see in the Bible opportunities of restoration and healing, even through some very difficult experiences and times. The one that I like particularly is the one we already referenced, with reference to Joseph forgiving his brothers. I think that's a beautiful demonstration of God's love and his ability to restore and make whole. And we have many other examples where, yes, relationships were strained, but God was still able to work through that experience.

Doug: Yeah, and then you've got another example going back to where it says, "Lost of Trust continued." One of David's sons, Amnon, abused his half-sister Tamar, which was the full sister of Absalom. And that caused all kinds of problems. And eventually, Absalom killed Amnon. And you just look at some of the--yeah, I mean, it doesn't get any more serious than that. Just some of the terrible things that you saw happen in families. And I've had people, I've preached on sermons--the sermon I've got on forgiveness I preach frequently if I go to a new place and do a revival 'cause I find it's just, it's such a sensitive and a necessary subject. But then people come to me afterward and they say, "Well, Pastor Doug, surely God doesn't expect me to forgive. If you knew what my father or my mother did to me," and then I'll hear these horrific stories and I'll say, "Well, look at Manasseh." I don't know, is Manasseh in our lesson? Yeah, yeah, you can read about Manasseh. It says in 2 Kings chapter 21, "He made his son pass through the fire. He practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, consulted spiritualists and mediums, did much evil in the sight of the Lord to anger." Sacrificed his children to pagan gods. I mean, that would be the unpardonable sin, you'd think. But was Manasseh forgiven? That's inconceivable, you and I, we could never do that. That doesn't mean you need to ever submit to--you know, if you've got a parent or somebody that was abusive, you don't have to put yourself under that abuse anymore, but you must say, "Lord, I'm gonna let it go." I mean, didn't Jesus say, "Father, forgive them," when they were nailing him? That's hard. Stephen said, "Lord, don't lay this sin to their charge," when they were stoning him.

Jean: You know, I remember there was a story when I was just a kid and it made an impression upon my mind. There was an old man that was getting baptized one Sabbath in church, and just before the pastor did the baptism, he said, "Pastor, could I just say something to the congregation?" And the pastor said, "Yes." And I remember, he looked out, and his wife was sitting in the front, and he said, "Brethren, I want you to know the reason I'm getting baptized today is because of the godly example of my wife." He said, "For all these years, I have been such--just a terror to live with." He says, "I mocked her. I made fun of her. I verbally abused her. But her devotion, her faith, her prayers the Lord got through to me and changed my heart." And of course she's sitting there, and tears are running down her face. He said, "The reason I am getting baptized is because of what my wife has done, her godly example. So, I was impressed with that power of forgiveness. Even though it took a long time, her faithful example and her prayers, the Holy Spirit is able to change this hardened man's heart, and there was a remarkable change that he went through and he was just a kind, loving person after that. So, yes, God can change the hearts. So we wanna be faithful in demonstrating his love and grace.

Doug: That's right, it says, I think it's 1 Peter chapter 3, that "the unbelieving husband can be converted by the consistent Christian behavior of the wife." That's a paraphrase, and it works both ways, by the way. All right, we're gonna jump down to the section under "Loss of Freedom." You know, I started out sayin', "I was in prison and you visited me." Some people, you've got family members, and there's those who are imprisoned by habits and addiction. And what if you've got someone in the family that struggles with an addiction? 2 Peter chapter 2, verse 19: "While they promised them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage." I don't know if you wanna read the next verse, Pastor Ross.

Jean: Yes, Luke chapter 16, verse 13, Jesus puts it this way. He says: " No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.'"

Doug: All right, well, some people are addicted to money. Some are addicted to drugs. You can't have two masters. The story you just told a minute ago about that husband and wife made me think of one. There was a woman--this is years ago in the Midwest somewhere, and she had a husband with a terrible drinking problem. And he would frequently come home drunk. He'd bring his friends over. He'd say, "Woman, make us some food." And she'd get up and she'd cook for 'em, and she was very kind, very patient, very loving, and she put up with this behavior that, you know, nobody would expect a wife to put up with. And he would always wake her up and bring his friends home when he was drunk and he was yelling. And one day, after his friends left, and she was cleaning up because he had woken her up in the middle of the night to fix him something to eat, he started crying. And she said, "Why are you--?" Or she said to her husband, "Why are you crying?" And he said, "Why are you so good to me?" He says, "I'm so mean to you. I'm so bad. I make fun of your religion. I come over with my friends. They make a mess of the place. You clean it up. You never complain." And she put her hand on her husband's shoulder and she said, "Look," she says, "I'm a Christian, I have eternal life." She says, "You're not, you don't." She says, "The only happiness you're gonna have is in this life. I'm tryin' to make you as happy as I can for the little time you've got." And he was so moved by that that he gave up his drinking and became a Christian.

Jean: You know, there's hope even if you are in a situation where maybe there is a family member that is struggling with some kind of addiction, whether it's alcohol or whatever it might be. The Bible does promise that in Christ we can have freedom. Of course, there's a choice involved. We have to choose. Romans chapter 6, starting in verse 16 says: "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" And then verse 17 goes like this: "But God be thanked that though you were the slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you. And having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of righteousness." So here Paul is speaking to believers and he says, "You were slaves to sin, but by faith you received the doctrine, the truth, the gospel. Now you have become slaves of righteousness. God has given you the victory." And of course, that verse which is so precious, Jesus says, "If the Son sets you free, you shall be," what? "Free indeed." "In Christ we are a new creation." And I think, for family members that might have somebody else in their family struggling with addiction, let's never give up, right? Let's keep praying. Let's be the best example we can be because, "God's arm is not shortened that he cannot save," as the Bible says.

Doug: Amen, on that same theme, Romans 6 said, "For he who has died has been freed from sin." In other words, when we are crucified with Christ, he breaks the chains of slavery. You've never seen a dead person be offended. So many of the things that cause problems and offense in a family--if we are crucified with Christ, if you're dead, you're freed. Then we're gonna--we just got a few minutes. We wanna jump into the last section here, "Loss of Life," and this is really a big thing that people struggle with. You know, I know in our midst today, you know, in the church family, a lot of people here have lost loved ones. Some have lost, of course, siblings. Parents, spouses, and how do we deal with loss? And, you know, that's especially painful when there's loss like this in a family. And in John chapter 11, we read about Jesus had some dear friends, a brother and two sisters, Lazarus, Mary, Martha. And it tells us that "they sent to Jesus, said, 'Come, our brother is sick, heal him.'" And Jesus got there too late, and he died. And they said, "Lord, why did you let this happen?" You read where Mary's asking in verse 32: "She came to where Jesus was, and she saw him, and fell down at his feet, and said, 'Lord, if you'd been here, my brother would not have died.'" Sometimes it's not, you know, the natural course. Maybe there's an accident or some unexpected sickness, and you think, "Why me? Why my family member? Why did this have to happen?" And we think, "Does God still love us?" And it wounds our faith. But how did Jesus restore the faith of Mary and Martha? He performed a miracle and there's a resurrection. You know, the Bible says, "As Christians we do not sorrow as those that have no hope." But what do you do--? I'm gonna ask something very difficult. What do you do if you have loss of a family member and you question whether they were a believer? Or maybe they said they weren't. How do you cope with that? You know, I think the only way you can is you identify with God, who loves 'em even more than you do, who is experiencing that loss with you, and then you focus your attention on those who are saved, who can be saved. King David lost a son. You know, when Absalom, I mentioned earlier, killed Amnon, David grieved for Amnon. I mean, here's he got this son that died at a feast, drinking. He had abused his sister. Amnon did not die with a lot of promise that he would have eternal life. And David wept and he wept, and then finally, he got up and he dusted himself off and he said he realized that Amnon was gone. He decided to focus his attention on the ones who were alive. And, you know, that's really the only thing you can do is just say, "This is a terrible loss. Will I grieve forever? Or am I now gonna do what God does and direct my attention on reaching the ones who are alive?" Now, nobody knows another person's fate. Only God knows their heart, right? So there's that promise there that says, "We have this hope." "We hope as others--" Or, "We have a hope unlike others." The Bible says there's this blessed hope. We may be surprised. So, when you don't know, you just have to put it in God's hands and say that, you know, there's a day coming when God's gonna dry the tears. In the meantime, we've got a work to do.

Jean: The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 26 that: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is that of death." Death, of course, was never part of God's plan. It's the consequences of sin. Yet we do have a promise that, one day, when Jesus comes, there'll be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death. He'll make all things new. Often at a funeral, at a graveside service, we're standing there in the cemetery and we're laying a loved one to rest, and the family are weeping, and, yes, that it's a place of sadness without a doubt. But I try to encourage believers that even though the cemetery is a place of sadness today, one day when Jesus comes it's probably gonna be one of the happiest places around because the dead in Christ will rise first and we get to meet them in the air. So even though there is sorrow and pain and death, the Bible gives us hope and comfort. And that, of course, is found in Jesus.

Doug: Amen, there's a good quote in the lesson. It's from "The Desire of Ages" page 787: "To the believer death is but a small matter. To the Christian, death is but a sleep, in a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." So, I tell our friends that if they lose a loved one that's a believer, you just have to look up on it as you've gone on a trip and you're gonna be reunited. It's just longer than you had hoped. But you will meet again, and you'll meet again in much better circumstances. And so that, of course, is that great blessed hope. Well, I think we're about out of time, Pastor Ross. You wanna mention the--?

Jean: Yes, we've got a great offer, especially for those who are facing grief. And all of us, at some point, go through loss or sorrow. It is a book entitled "When the Brook Dried Up," and the question is, "Why Do Christians Suffer?" This is gonna be our free gift to anyone who will call and ask. The number is 866-788-3966, and you can ask for offer number 171, or you can send us a text. You can text the code SH074 to the number 40544 and we'll be able to send you a link as to where you can download the book, "When the Brook Dries Up, Why Do Christians Suffer?"

Doug: Amen, thank you very much, friends. We're glad you joined us. Those who are watching online, God bless you. We look forward to studying his Word together again next week.

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Announcer: "Amazing Facts" changed lives:

Justin: Growing up as a kid, my mother was, like, on drugs and alcohol. Lots of fighting in the home. My mom would be abused mentally, verbally, physically. Went from California to Oregon. Spent some time in Oregon and it was just the same cycle of drugs, alcohol, violence. My mom's boyfriend would go to jail at times. She would wait until he would, you know, get out of jail, and then it was back to square one. The drugs and alcohol escalated to a lot harder drugs, crystal meth, cocaine, and lots and lots of alcohol. So I started using the alcohol as a medication. It was like the misery and the fear that I had, I wanted to drown all that misery. At times I would just grab, you know, a bottle of beer and go out into the desert and just drink until sometimes I'd just pass out in the desert somewhere and wake up the next morning, you know? And I just couldn't find rest. And my stepdad had gotten me a motorcycle and so I started riding motorcycles. I'd drink a lot of beer, get on the motorcycle, ride into the desert, do donuts, and just, you know, just ride on private property. People would chase me off, and I was just causin', stirrin' up dust and rocks and just causin' chaos. And the adrenaline rush that I had was so exciting, and the feeling of it was so intense that I loved it, and I forgot about all my problems, you know, at the moment, and I thought that material things would make me feel so good, you know?

And so I started workin', started makin' money, had a responsibility, but as time went by, I had more money. So I would, you know use my money that I made to buy drugs and alcohol. Got pulled over drinkin' and driving, ended up going to jail for a couple days. I lost my job because I missed work for a few days, lost my girlfriend, lost all the money that I had. So, once again, I was empty, no money, no drugs, no alcohol, and that was a turning point in my life. At this time, I was living with my grandfather, and as I was flipping through the channels on the satellite system, I found "Amazing Facts," and Pastor Doug Batchelor was sharing his testimony about how he was living in a cave and he struggled the same struggles of alcohol and drugs. And I continued to read the book, "The Richest Caveman," and it really impacted my life and really related to the things he was struggling with, and all of the events that took place in his life. And when I started reading the Bible, Philippians 4:13 says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I recognized that I had no strength. I was weak, and I was wretched, and I needed help. So I just asked the Lord, I said, "Just help me, Lord." And the Holy Spirit convicted me and I decided to be baptized and to give my life to Jesus Christ.

A few years after the Lord took the temptation of drinking and doing drugs, he gave me a beautiful wife I met at church. Now I have a beautiful baby boy, two-year-old baby boy. It's just exciting to see, you know, what God is doing through my life and my family. I met with some friends from my local church that I was attending and they had told me about Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism Training Seminar. The AFCOE to go program really inspired me and motivated me to tell young people about, you know, the same struggles that I was struggling with, to help these kids give their life to Jesus Christ, and there's nothin' else that you could ask for. I'm Justin, and God used you to change my life. ♪♪♪

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