To Love Mercy

To Love Mercy

Scripture: Psalms 112:4-5, Matthew 6:25-33, James 1:5-8
Date: 09/21/2019  Lesson: 12
'If it is real, our faith will cause us to die to self and live more for others. Our faith helps us imagine the world and its people as God sees them, in both their goodness and their brokenness, and it impels us to seek to help those in need, to whatever degree possible.'

Riches of Grace - Paperback or Digital PDF

Riches of Grace - Paperback or Digital PDF
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Luccas Rodor: Hi friends, welcome to our Sabbath School study hour here in Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, also in partnership with Amazing Facts Ministries. I'd like to welcome our local church, so good to have you all here this morning. And also you watching from around the world, we'd like to welcome you and hope you have a great time here with us. Today we have a very beautiful lesson to be studied, and it's lesson number 12 To Love Mercy, and Pastor Shawn Brummund will be teaching us this morning.

But before that, I have a free offer for you this morning. Now, this offer is written by Joe Crews, and the name of the booklet is "Riches of Grace." And if you would like to receive this offer, receive this free gift, all you have to do is call the number 866-788-3966 for a mail out, or if you want a digital copy, and this is in North America, you have to text the code SH056 to the number 40544, and then you'll get a digital copy for this. If you're outside of North America, then you can go online at amazingfacts.org and you can look for this digital copy. This morning before we go into the study, we have some beautiful worship and I'd like to call our praise team to come out so they can begin praising the Lord here for our Sabbath School. May God bless you.

Female: Today we're going to be singing hymn 286, Wonderful Words Of Life.

♪ ♪ Sing them over again to me,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ let me more of their beauty see,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

♪ ♪ Christ, the blessed one,

♪ ♪ gives to all wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ sinner, list to the loving call,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ all so freely given, wooing us to heaven.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

♪ ♪ Sweetly echo the gospel call,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ offer pardon and peace to all,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life;

♪ ♪ Jesus, only Savior,

♪ ♪ sanctify forever.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

♪ ♪ Beautiful words, wonderful words,

♪ ♪ wonderful words of life.

Shawn Brummund: Well, thank you for that, ladies. Wasn't that beautiful? It's good to be able to be here. It's beautiful Sabbath. It's sunny where we are. We're trusting that if it's not sunny, that you are sunny in your heart. If you're watching online here this morning live or maybe you're watching it on archive and or if you're watching later on satellite TV, we want to just give you a special welcome, all our online members as well that are watching. We are glad to have each and every person, both friend and member watch us here today, and so it's good to be able to study a very important subject. We're almost wrapped it up. Time flies, doesn't it? It seems like every time we start a new quarter before we know it, we blink a couple of times and we're wrapping that quarter up. And, of course, the older we get, the more fast time goes. So, maybe that's just a sign of my aging.

To Love Mercy, lesson 11 the second last lesson of this quarter, which is the least of these, ministering to those in need. Now, I would like to do something different and read a quote from Friday. But before we do that, we want to make sure that we asked for the Holy Spirit and Lord to be with us here in prayer. Father in heaven, we stop for a moment and we thank You for this opportunity to be able to worship You, to be able to learn from Your Word, Lord, what You would require and desire to do through us in our lives in regards to those in need. Father in heaven, want to pray that today we'll add to the study that we've had in past weeks and over the last two or three months to be able to understand Your plan for us and for Your church, also, to be able to see Your love as well. God, we want to pray for Your Holy Spirit to guide us and to lead us. In Jesus's name, we pray these things, God, amen.

Yes, I'm going to go to Friday and so if you have your lesson study or, of course, more than welcome to come with me there, but there's just a powerful quote there. And so, we're going to do, again, something different. We're going to start with the last day, and I think it just makes a great introduction. It kind of sets the tone of the theme for this week's lesson study. And so, we are going to page 102, page 102 and it says this, and this comes from the "Thoughts From The Mount Of Blessing," page 137. By the way, if you've never read that book, I just strongly highly recommend it, "Thoughts From The Mount Of Blessing." And basically this is a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest sermon ever preached in all history, as far as I'm concerned. And, of course, it comes from the lips of Jesus. And so, this is the quote it says, "Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is manifest in the works of mercy to those need--to those who need our sympathy and aid." That means our help. "This is the truth as it is in Jesus. When those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule, the same power will attend the gospel as in our apostolic times."

Did you hear that, friends? Now, I've heard other conditions that are also revealed, both through the spiritual gift of prophecy, as well as through the Holy Scriptures, that tell us other important elements that we have to make sure that we're at the center of. If we want to be part of that last power, that latter rain where we reflect the Apostolic Church in its fullness and power, even perhaps a little bit more, as God wraps things up on this earth just before Jesus comes. But one of the things that it tells us here is something that was new to me until I read this, that it's only those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule. What is the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So, in other words, treat others in the way that you would like to be treated. And so, that's the golden rule that Jesus gave to us. "Love others, even as you love yourself," is another way that He had put it as the second greatest commandment in all of the Bible. And when we do that, and the more we do that, the more we'll experience the power that was experienced by the apostles and the early Christian Church in those powerful first years.

Well, then we come to the very first day. Now we're going to back up and go to the Sabbath day and on the Sabbath day, of course, the main key text that we find there is a coming from the Old Testament book of Micah chapter 6 and verse 8. It's one that many of us heard before, perhaps some of us have even memorized it. And it says this, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you." What does the Lord what? Require of you. So, is this a suggestion? No, not at all. This is what the Lord requires of us. "To do justly, to love mercy." Well, there's the title of our week study, and that's where they got it from. "To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." And so, this is a very famous, very well-known verse. And why is that? Because it's one of those verses that kind of encapsulate pure religion in the way that God has seen it and sees it today, the way that he wants it in our life. He said, if you want to just kind of boil it down again, as he does in different ways, of course, one of those boiled down ways is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. And how much do we want that in our lives?

Now, one of the things that I want to cover as we reflect this important topic, mercy and helping those in need and such, is that we live in a fallen and evil world. Have you noticed that? It's a very fallen and evil world. We just have to watch the news for the first three minutes each evening and we're reminded again how fallen and evil our world really is, and it's becoming more and more. And because we live in a fallen and evil world, there will always be victims of circumstances. Now, these are circumstances that those people did not choose. There will always be those who are born with the cards stacked against them. You know, Jesus said the sad truth best when He was talking to His disciples toward the end of His earthly ministry in Matthew 26, and verse 11. And he says, "For you have the poor with you always."

And so, Jesus says, "Listen, one of the harsh realities of this whole sin lesson, this great controversy between good and evil, of living in a fallen world in which the prince of darkness is the prince of this world because of the choice of the vast majority of those around us, is that there will always be those who are poor, those who are struggling to put food on their table, struggling to pay the rent, struggling to put a roof over their head or the roof over the heads of their children and families. And so, this is one of those sad realities.

Now, it can be tempting for us to say, "Well, that is a reality you just stated. You know, Pastor Shawn just said it and, so why try to solve something that's never going to be solved?" Well, we have to be careful with that too, right? Even though it is true that this world will never alleviate all of its suffering, will never alleviate all of its poverty or all of its social injustice, it's important for us to understand that God has always intended for His people, for His believers on earth, to help stem the tide of that poverty, to help stem the tide of suffering and social injustice, and so on. God wants us to reflect the heart of Him and God has a heart for the poor. Do I hear an amen out there? He does. He has a heart for the suffering. He has a heart for the discouraged.

My heart goes out when I see these different news stories and such of children that have been depraved because of the evil choices of their parents. You know, some are--some parents are drug addicted and are selling their souls in different ways. And the children are finding themselves, from birth on, in circumstances that really have all the cards stacked against them. Now friends, did those children choose that circumstance? No, not at all. Friends, you and I could be in that circumstance just as easily if we were born to that family, and so we have to be very careful.

So, why am I sharing this? Well, one of the greatest dangers that I've come to observe in life amongst Christians, amongst myself, is one of the greatest dangers of those of us who have perhaps been born with advantage. Some of us have been born into fortunes. Some of us have never even come close to know what it's like not to be able to put a meal on your table. Some of us have never been close to knowing what it's like to have one set or two sets of clothes, you know, or the struggle to pay the rent, or, you know, all these essentials just to have been assumed since our birth. And perhaps some of us have had to work for it at first, but now it's been so long that we just kind of assume it and, and one of the, one of the dangerous byproducts of that is that we can become very easily calloused, and even worse, judgmental upon those who are less advantaged than we are. We can start to look down our noses at them and say, "Well, what's their problem?" This is one of the dangers that we have as Christians and as human beings that kind of just assume all these things because we've had either all our life, or for so long.

I want to share a case in point, prostitutes. Now, prostitutes is not a very popular industry, at least among the Christian church, and among believers and upright citizens, and so on. The vast majority of prostitutes, we have to understand, by far the vast majority of prostitutes, did not choose that industry because they were raised in a privileged, loving, well-educated home. You'd be hard pressed to find one that came from that background. Most of them are finding themselves in that industry because as a young age, they were sold or kidnapped into the sex slave trade. This is a growing industry that is taking place right here in America, and don't think this is a problem that's overseas.

You know, we have, in fact, Sacramento is one of the hubs. It's, in fact, I've been told it may be the biggest hub, the most active hub and all of America in regards to the sex slave trade. And that's why we find massage, massage parlors on every second mile of our streets. You don't have to look far to see a massage parlor, and these are not licensed therapists. And so, this trade is something that many young women, and sadly some boys as well, are sold into, are kidnapped and forced into. Some of those who are finding themselves as in the prostitute industry were raised with drug addict addicted parents. They were raised in a home in which their parents were addicted to drugs in a very serious way. And so, they saw no other way to be able to be able to feed themselves and put a roof over their heads than to sell their bodies. Abject poverty, childhood sexual abuse is one of the most common backgrounds of different women that have found--are finding themselves right now active in the prostitution industry. And did these women that are active in the industry today, did they choose those circumstances as they grew up, as they entered into adulthood? No, these were all circumstances that were forced upon them by the sinful choices of those who were supposed to be responsible for their well being. And so, it's very easy and tempting for us to be able to look down our noses at different women that are in the prostitution industry. One of the great books that we give away to our visitors every Sabbath morning is called "At Jesus's Feet" written by our senior Pastor Doug Batchelor. And it just paints a wonderful story and offers us a study in the Scriptures and such of the life of Mary Magdalene.

Now, many of us, not all of us here today, understand that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute for many years. In fact, when she came to the Lord, she was an active prostitute. Did she have a background that was similar to the circumstances that I just shared? Was she abused? Was she brought up in circumstances that pushed her in that direction? Well, as it turns out, the answer is yes. Now, it's not crystal clear in the Scriptures. But if you go to the book "Desire of Ages," page 566 and this is written by an author that I believe it was given the genuine spirit of prophecy. And God had given some more details in the windows of the lives of some of these different characters, and one of them is Mary Magdalene.

On page 566, it talks about a feast and everybody's acquainted with this scenario. Simon, who is referred to sometimes as Simon the leper, because he was a leper before Jesus touched him with his supernatural hand and healed Simon of that leprosy. And Simon is a well-to-do man. He is not one that worries about whether he's going to get food on his table or he's going to pay the rent. His house was probably paid off in full. He wasn't worried about these type different types of things. He was worried about the leprosy, but the Lord had mercy on him and healed him of his leprosy. He has a big feast in Jerusalem in his home. He wants to be able to treat Jesus in a special way.

And so, he invites Jesus in his inner circle into his house and they have a special feast. And while they're having that feast, Mary Magdalene, the delivered one now, she comes into the room and this is just hours before Jesus is about to be arrested, and or a day or two. And, Jesus, you know, she comes in and she pours the alabaster jar of this expensive perfume, frankincense, myrrh, some of the most expensive elements that you can find in their day, probably in our day would cost, you know, in the hundreds. And she pours it over the feet of Jesus and then she's weeping tears, and then she wipes his feet with her hair. And she's just pouring out her worship upon the Lord. And everybody in the room is getting very uncomfortable because these are well-to-do citizens, and Simon is the host and he's embarrassed about whatever is going on. And so, he says to himself, "If Jesus were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is that is doing this to his feet and he would stop it immediately."

Page 566, this statement, these two very revealing sentences are revealed. It says, "Simon had led into sin the woman he now despised." Who led her into sin? The one that is hosting this feast. "Simon had led into sin the woman he now despised. She had been deeply wronged by him." Now, that's as far as the author is inspired to go. And I believe that even that was an act of mercy. God didn't want to reveal the gory details of this deep sin of Simon that had led and pointed Mary Magdalene down a pathway that was an industry that is very despised by, even us in society today. Now, we can only guess and, of course, the most likelihood is, you know, some kind of sexual systematic sexual abuse that she was, you know, exposed to by Simon. And if not then she was raped at least once at some point by him in the past.

Second case in point, the homeless. Now this is a real common one first to look down our noses very easy at, isn't it? "What's their problem? Why can't they get a job? Why can't they can put a roof over their head like I do? I have to go to work every day from Monday to Friday, and I don't particularly like my work. And why don't they get--" Well, sometimes that is true. You know, there are such things as genuine bums, okay? And, some of them, some of them are choosing that lifestyle. And so, they choose to be a homeless person. And certainly, we need to be able to help and encourage them to make better choices. So, even they need help, they just need to be pointed in a better direction and maybe convinced, prayed over and such because the devil has them in his hand, you know, big time.

And so, even then. 2008 during the crash, approximately ten million Americans lost their home in that year alone. Ten million homes were lost by Americans in America in 2008. That's not a small number, is it? And for the years that followed, I remember even in Canada where I was living at the time, you know, there's a lot of media coverage on different people that were living out of their cars because that's what their lives were reduced to. Now, these were good, hardworking Americans, okay? These were people that had a Monday to Friday job. They were, you know, they had a house, and a mortgage, and a family and, and now they're trying to feed their kids out of their car. They're homeless. Did they choose that circumstance? No, sometimes circumstances are thrown on us even in adulthood that bring us into a place that suddenly we are despised by the same society that we used to be a part of. And so, we need to be very, very careful on that.

And so, my conclusion is always to err on the side of, of not judging that person and saying, "Well, this guy just wants a dollar so he can go get another beer." Well, that might be the case, but it might be that he just desperately needs a sandwich, and he was--had circumstances thrown on him or her that they did not ask for, would never have chosen. And so, it's part of our job as Christians to help them in whatever little way or big way, if the opportunity presents itself, to help that person get back on their feet again. And so, what's the bottom line? The bottom line is that I'm spending a good portion of our time here today talking about this because I think it's important for us, any of us that were born or thrown into the same circumstances, would be no different, okay? Any one of us could find ourselves in the prostitution industry if we were born in the same circumstances.

You know, I wasn't born with a knowledge of God. I didn't have any advantage religiously, or faith wise, or spiritually. You know, it wasn't until 20 when I went to church on my own and I started discovering the Lord that he began to start to change me and brought me on to a much higher plain, a much higher ground, because I didn't know any better. I was brought up in circumstances that weren't to my advantage spiritually. Some of us are brought up in circumstances that aren't to our advantage spiritually, but also physically and emotionally. Now, fortunately, my parents were still loving people. They weren't--they were very loving parents. We had a very tight, loving family. And so, emotionally I was stable, and physically I was well cared for, even though sometimes times were tight, you know, we had that love in our family.

But some don't have any of the above. They don't have the spiritual advantage. They're born with a physical disadvantage, and they're born with emotional disadvantage. And so, every single one of us are potential prostitutes. Now, that might be a little bit hard to swallow, but that's true. That's true. So, circumstances make a big difference in concern to where our life path goes. Now, God doesn't leave us there, he chases us. He runs for us, even as he did for Mary Magdalene. And Jesus poured out his great mercy upon Mary, didn't he? Jesus knew that she didn't choose that industry. It wasn't an industry--she grew up in a loving, well-educated, privileged home and thought, "You know, I'm kind of bored with life. I'm going to go work the streets." No, not at all. No, not at all. It's because she was a victim. And when she had the opportunity, when somebody came along, in this case, Jesus Himself, He offered her to come to a higher place. And she accepted the invitation, didn't she? And then she became an ex-prostitute, why? Because the Holy Spirit filled her, she started to have the true, she started to have the forgiveness, and the and the power of Christ in her heart in her life. And she was demon possessed. She was freed from that, and now she was a free, born-again believer of Jesus Christ. This world simply is an evil and perverse place where it is anything but fair, and we need to be able to remember that.

God calls us to be able to see it in this perspective, even in the way as God sees it. And God forbid that we should ever look down our noses at those who are less advantaged than we are, that are even at a lower moral stance than we are. Friends, if you would have met me on the street, or in the store, at the theater, wherever, you know, at the club when I was 19 years old, you would have found a much different person, a totally different person, totally different person. You know, my mouth was so full, you know, I used to be as God's name in vain on a regular basis. I thought it was cool. I thought that was--that's what the world taught me. So, I was just running with the flesh and with the world, that's all I knew, why? Because I was spiritually, morally disadvantaged. I didn't know any better. I didn't even have an opportunity to know. I didn't even know there was a choice. So, there it goes.

Now, of course, God calls us to be able to, just like Jesus with Mary Magdalene, to help people on to their feet. That's important for us to be able to understand. You know, God calls us, not to make people eternal victims, but to understand that some of us are victims, but we need to be able to help them to understand that they can put that victimization behind them. They can make it history and God can bring them on to higher ground, amen, that God can do something special in their life. And, you know, it reminds me of this whole subject when I used to hear my wife Denise's Opa as they call it in Germany, call your grandpa Opa. And so, Opa's passed away now and waiting for the resurrection of the Lord. But, you know, he used to talk about when he was in Germany and, of course, Denise's parents immigrated to Canada when they were in their teens from Germany.

So, we have all these German war stories of World War II and how Denise's Opa and Oma, and their family had escaped just by the skin of their teeth. They made it across the border from East Berlin to West Berlin, you know, when it was still possible to escape. They were already shutting down the bridge and so on, and the border but they just managed to barely get into West Berlin. And it was very unpopular to be an Eastern German in western Berlin with the kids, with the population. And they were very wealthy, extremely wealthy. They had, you know, Opa had a clothing factory. They had maids. They had cooks. They had a big mansion. They had had everything, and they had to leave it all behind. And so, when they got to East Berlin, all they had was the food or the clothes on their back, that was it. I forget if the currency was the same or not, but yeah, they barely--I'm not even sure if they had a penny to their name.

And so, they had to start from ground zero again. And so Opa, he would go over and he would buy some tomatoes somewhere from the farm. He'd go outside of the city and buy some farm, and then he'd come into the city with a little cart and he'd start to sell those one tomato at a time. You know, he always just to say to me, "Shawn, as long as I have these two hands, that's all I need. As long as my two hands work, that's all I need," and such. But there was different Western Berlin Germans that had mercy, that loved mercy, and they had mercy on him and his family. And they gave him some different advantages and help that they needed to help them get back on their feet again. And so, beautiful story. And from there, he'd be able to eventually start his own store, and then move to Canada and start a hairdressing shop there. So, so, yeah, so yes, we need to be able to help people understand that God wants us to be able to help them to come on to higher ground and stay there. But sometimes we can't make it there unless we have the mercy and the compassion of those around us that are more advantaged than we are at the moment. And so, it is in this light, that we who are more advantaged and have a saving faith in Christ are told by God to serve the poor, to serve the uneducated, to serve the destitute in whatever ways we can.

In James chapter, chapter 1, and verse 27, it's one of my favorite verses on this subject and it, again, one of those ones that encapsulates true religion. James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." And so again, we find here that God calls us not only to a purity and obedience in Christ as He works through us and in us, but He also calls us to visit the orphans, to visit the widows, those who are more disadvantaged than ourselves. Well, we have a volunteer. We're going to go to, I think what is it Monday's kingdom priorities? And so, one of the key texts there is Matthew chapter 6. It's one of my favorite Scriptures, Matthew chapter 6, verse 25 to 33, and so we'll invite our volunteer to read it for us here this morning.

Female: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

Shawn: Thank you. So, the punch line is really the last verse that she just read, wasn't it? And seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these other things will be added unto you. And so, Jesus gives us Kingdom priorities as Sunday's lesson entitles it. And so, before that though, Jesus goes to quite a great extent to be able to give us the assurance that hey, listen, don't worry about prioritizing because if you do prioritize My righteousness in doing what's right first, okay, and all these things will be added unto you, then all these things will be added unto you. And so again, He says over and over, don't worry, don't worry, don't worry. He says, "Listen, if He clothes the sparrow of the field, and the grass, and the flowers of the field, will He not clothe you? O, you of little faith. And so, God gives us that reassurance and in extension to that reassurance, He tells us to prioritize.

Now, I have to confess every time I've come to that, that really helped me as a new Sabbath keeper because what I discovered the Sabbath truth, the seventh day Sabbath is the fourth commandment in which many of us, as Christians, have lost over the centuries, and many are coming back to. And so, that was a big step for me to move to keeping Sabbath holy from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, and that was a whole new concept. And it comes with some very practical challenges at work, in the home, in the families, you know, looking at you sideways, and friends, and so on. And so, it comes with a lot of strain, a lot of stress to take that stand. And so, I used to lean upon that verse, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." And I lost my job, you know, because of the stand for the Sabbath. And so, when you start losing your job, you know, you have to lean upon these things and know that God will provide and such. And so, you know, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, obey your Ten Commandments. Obey the Ten Commandments of the Lord, and He will add all these things unto you.

Now, does that apply to that? Sure certainly does. But there's an interesting twist. The lesson study and the authors here are pointing to this, not in regards to obeying the Ten Commandments as applying to looking out for the poor and the disadvantaged of God. It also has required of us and so, that also is a priority that God tells us that He requires of us. And so, interesting twist, he kind of takes the Ten Commandments but expands it to other commands and requirements that the Lord has given to us. By the way, did the life of a ministry of Christ reflect a burden for people's physical and emotional needs?

Did Jesus only focus on the spiritual needs of people? No, not at all. Okay, it's very important for us as we look at the, at the ultimate model of life, which is the life of Christ, amen. We find here that Christ, you know, first and foremost, His theme was the gospel and salvation through Him. You know, when you talk to Pontius Pilate at the end of his ministry, he said, "I have come to testify of the truth." And so, Jesus certainly made a great, prominent theme in the words that He spoke, which was to restore truth and to proclaim salvation through himself as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And so, spiritual message was certainly first and foremost. The very first words that He spoke when he began his public ministry was "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." And, of course, He's talking about the spiritual kingdom of God, salvation through Jesus.

But at the same time, He also spent tremendous time and tremendous effort healing the sick, visiting and feeding the poor, and also encouraging the discouraged. And so, if Jesus did that, does He want us to do it? Sure. 1 John says make sure you walk even as He walked. Okay, so God tells us to walk even as the Lord Jesus walked. And so, we, as individuals and as a church, need to be able to make sure that God is able to lead us into those things. You know, there's two branches in the Seventh Day Adventist Church that I really, really have come to appreciate and respect greatly in the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Now, I know it's not the first denomination to do that because God was working through the Baptist movement into the Methodist movement. And because of that, we have hospitals that are that are spotted and riddled across this nation, as Christians obey the requirement that God has called us to heal the sick, to help those who are physically disadvantaged, and then to be able to package that with the spiritual message and love of Jesus. And so, medical services Seventh-day Adventist Church by God's grace, we have 175 hospitals operating around the world. We have 450 medical clinics that are meeting people's physical needs and giving them a helping hand in regards to those physical needs around the world today.

Second thing is ADRA. Now, ADRA is an acronym and it stands for Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Adventist Development and Relief Agency. Why? Because it's a organization, it's the humanitarian organization and arm of the Adventist church that is designed to be able to help develop projects, help different peoples in need develop projects, development, and relief, to be able to give immediate relief as well. And so, it specializes in development projects like digging wells and bringing clean running water to different villages and towns for the first time. It specializes in educating women where women are not being educated and girls are not being educated, business loans to different women to be able to help them and their families get on their feet financially. Again, giving a helping hand to help people come to higher ground. And so, I thank God for ADRA. It also feeds and clothes the poor. It's there for emergency response when we have an earthquake or hurricane, not only in America, but internationally.

We have one of the most renowned and respected teams that show up through ADRA, and there are many countries, many governments, that will look first or will be on the top five, you know, charity organizations that they'll look for because they can trust us. They know that we'll actually come through with what we say. And so, I thank God for ADRA. By the way, if you're not, if you're not donating to ADRA, start today, okay? You know, I'm kind of biased towards that but, you know, if you're not giving to humanitarian aid, an organization that you know is doing a really good job, then you need to start that today. We're going to talk about that in a little bit if we have time.

Well, what about compassion fatigue? That's Monday's lesson, compassion fatigue. What does that mean? Well, compassion fatigue is kind of talking about getting kind of worn out having compassion. You know, you're pouring out all this compassion on people, you're loving mercy on people, and you start to get tired. Fatigue means being tired. There's even a term that came out, you know, in the last ten years, have you noticed how many more natural disasters have come upon the planet? You know, there used to be a time when you had a big earthquake somewhere and it would be, you know, somewhere we'd pour our energies and our funds into and such, and then it would be three, five years before another one takes place. Well, we were just, recently we've just been boom, boom, you know, and so they called it giving fatigue. The media even had that term giving fatigue. People getting worn out because it's like, "Another one, I just gave $100 to this, you know, in Haiti, and then over in China, and Mexico City." And it's like, you know, it's just coming at us so fast that people are getting fatigued from giving, and so on.

So, Monday's lesson goes into a number of different good counsels on how to help people in a good, educated, prayerful, compassionate way. And so, I encourage you to read that if you haven't. What about prayer? What about prayer? Is prayer helpful? Sure, it is, isn't it? If you believe in intercession, if you believe in the power and the moving hand of God, then you want to pray for those in need as well. And so, sometimes we can say, "Well, prayer, that's, you know, I would rather get out there and roll up my sleeves." Well, yes, rolling up your sleeves is important too, but prayer also is just as important. And so, the work won't get done and the help won't get done if you only pray. But it also won't get it done in the measure that it could be in should be if you're not praying, so you need to combine them both. And so, that's important for us to understand. So yes, do it make sure that you're praying for those in need.

What does James tell us in James chapter 2, verses 15 and 16. You can turn your Bibles there, James chapter 2, verses 15 and 16. And we have another volunteer. Alberto, if you could kindly read that for us.

Alberto: James 2:15, 16. "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"

Shawn: Thank you. By the way, this is a couple that read the last two Scriptures here. I know that we know that locally, but we have so many friends that watch Granite Bay on a regular basis and such. And we just appreciate Alberto and Haffdis so much as a married couple here in this church.

Okay, so what does James tell us? What does James tell us? Okay, does it help just to say, "You know, I'm going to pray for you"? He doesn't say that, but he's kind of implying it. You know, I'm going to pray for you. Be warned, be fed, and so on and then we keep walking down. No, no, not at all. And so, James says, "Listen, you know, we want to be able to ask God how can we be a part of answering that prayer as well? You know, sometimes prayer is all that we can offer, so we shouldn't feel guilty at times when we can't offer anything more than prayer. Prayer makes a difference. But if you have an opportunity, and you have the resources to be able to help, and the time and the energy, then God is calling you. He requires of it of us.

Then we come to Tuesday. What about generosity? Is generosity a trade of God? Is God generous? Sure He is. Does He give us more than we need quite often in life, even in our fallen world, okay, even where we're disappointed in Him in different ways? Yeah, He does, doesn't He, okay? God is a gracious generous God. You know, even when you read about the holy New Jerusalem, you know, He says, "Listen, I'm going to make a holy--" What kind, what are you going to make it? It's going to be beautiful wood, beautiful stained wood. Is that what it's made of? No, God says, "No way, I'm going to--we're--every gate is going to be a gigantic pearl. There's going to be 12 huge gates into the city." And these are big gates, friends. This is 375 miles wide on one side of the city. And He says, "Listen, these huge gates are going to be one gigantic pearl."

We must have some really smooth pavement, you know, not like some of those pavement, you know, the closer you get downtown to Sacramento, the more you're four by fouring, you know, on the pavement. It must be just premium payment that He's going to have. Yeah, He says, "In fact, it's going to be gold." You know, God is generous. He's--He wants to give us the best, especially once we get through this whole sin problem. And so, it's a trait therefore that we should reflect in our life as well. And Psalm 112, verse 5, we find that at the top of lesson number, or day Tuesday. And so I'm going to read a quote from the middle of that page. It says, "Generosity is an attitude toward life that is large, bold, and embracing. So much in our individual lives, societies, and cultures prompts us to focus on ourselves, to keep as much as we can for ourselves. And let's face it, for most of us, the default mode is always self, self, self anyway." Have you noticed that?

You know, Ellen White made a statement she said, "The greatest battle that we face when we become a Christian and daily, on a daily basis, is a battle with ourself." Why? Because our default mode is selfishness. Okay, so we're always trying to take care of ourselves, and feed ourselves, and get things for ourselves. And so, by God's grace, we need to pray that God helps us to win that battle more and more every day.

Acts chapter 20, and verse 35. That's not in the lesson study, but this is a key statement that Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to? To receive. Now, friends, that's a short statement, isn't it? It's a powerful, huge statement that we find in the life and teachings of Christ. It's humongous, and it is one of the most difficult ones for us to wrap our minds around and actually live by. Have you noticed that? Why is that verse one of the hardest verses to actually live by? Because we're selfish, right? And it's the--it's the, the complete opposite of selfishness. It is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Now, how many here actually believe that? Okay, I see a number of hand goes up. My hand goes up sincerely too. I believe it, but it's hard to practice. It's hard to take Him at His Word on it, isn't it? Okay, because I like getting stuff. Do you like getting stuff?

Now, we have to remember that Jesus doesn't say that it's not a blessing to receive it, He said it's more blessed to give than to receive. And so, Jesus wants us to be able to receive the blessing of receiving stuff. Now, if none of us wanted to receive stuff, and all we wanted to do is give, who's going to receive it, right? Okay, so obviously God wants us to be able to experience the blessing of receiving as well. And He says, but He said, when you look at the two blessings, the greatest and the most fulfilling and the most joyous one is actually giving.

What, giving? I like getting. That's what I like about Christmas. You know, what presents am I going to get, right? No, you know, if we have the mind of Christ. It says, mine be in you as it is also in Christ Jesus. So, Christ, when He looked forward to Christmas, or different festivals, or birthdays, or whatever it is, He would look forward to what He can give. He liked other people's birthdays more than His because then He had the opportunity to give because it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. And, so that's a reflection of generosity, the great trait of God. But we have one more text that a volunteer is going to read for us in 1 John chapter 3, and verse 16 to 18. Now, that's not the gospel of John 3:16, but this is 1 John chapter 3, and verses 16 to 18. Thank you.

Male: "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

Shawn: Thank you. All right, so it's important for us to be able to give as Jesus gave. Jesus gave to the point where He said, "Listen, I'll even give My life," and it wasn't just, you know, a quick electric chair or, you know, He said, "I'll give my life with intense, the most intense suffering than any human being has ever experienced."

Now, there's been some really horrendous, torturous deaths that have taken place, so the physical death of Jesus died was not greater than some other human beings that have died and found their death. But He died with the most intense suffering because He took the guilt of our sin upon Himself, and He felt that utter separation from His Father, as He took that sin upon Himself. And so, Jesus gave everything for us, and so he calls us also to give.

So, is it important to give alms? Anybody familiar with the term alm? I see a few hands go up. It's not a term that we use in our modern vernacular English today, is it, alms? You know, and sometimes when I think of alms, oh, that's a that's a teaching practice of our Islam friends and so on because they teach and talk about it more often. They use that term, but it's actually found several times in the Bible. And God tells us several times that giving alms is important to God, it's not an option. He requires us to give alms. That's what I'm saying, if you're not giving to ADRA or some humanitarian charity on a regular basis, then you need to start doing that now because God's asking you to. He wants you to be able to live for more than yourself. He wants you to spend your money on more than yourself, or of your family, and friends. He wants you to spend it on strangers that are in need.

Did Jesus help strangers that He had never met before? Yes, and He would give the shirt off His back, literally, if it made a difference with somebody else that He had never met before, but was an obvious need, much more need than Himself. And so, that's the kind of Christians God calls us to be. I want to read a passage here as we're coming to the end of our study here today. It's in Acts chapter 10, and verses 1 to 3, and it's about a individual by the name of Cornelius. Now, he lives in Jerusalem, not in Jerusalem, but in Israel, but he's not an Israelite. He's not a Jew. He's an Italian. He's a Roman citizen. It says, "There was a certain man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously," there's that term again, generous. "Who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, 'Cornelius!' And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, 'What is it, lord?'" He was overwhelmed by this angelic being. "So he said to him, 'Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.'"

And so, there are two things here that Cornelius had caught the attention of the Lord. All of heaven was focusing on this particular individual, a key individual that played a key individual in the plan of the gospel proclamation of salvation. And he said, "Listen, the reason that we have chosen you to be able to receive, be the first Gentiles to receive this direct preaching of the gospel in your house by Jewish apostle is because you have been noted for your prayers and your alms, your generous giving to those in need."

Now, the majority of those recipients were Jews. What did you think of Cornelius? Well, most religious Jews looked down their nose at Cornelius and said, "Well, that's just a dog over there. They're, you know, that's an unclean animal. You know, that's the one that if I brush up against it at the market, oh, great, now I gotta go through the ceremonial washing and undefile myself." And so, they come up with all kinds of terrible theology and views of Cornelius and those in his population. But here was God, one that God didn't care. He knew that he was one of the most exalted in all of heaven because he was a man of true faith, regular prayer, and he gave alms on a regular basis.

Are you giving alms on a regular basis? If heaven looked down today and said this is an individual that cares and gives on a regular basis to those that they don't know that are in need? Well, we come to the end of our lesson study here today. And so, don't forget, if you haven't read through the lesson study, there's peacemaking, there's a voice for the voiceless. As usual, you know, it's just impossible for us to be able to look in any depth at all the material each week. But again, please take advantage of that if you haven't read the study.

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Doug Batchelor: Friends, if you're scared of snakes, this may not be for you. I'm here at a Reptile Park outside of Durban South Africa, and I'm holding my friend here who's a Red-Tail Boa. Snakes are found all over the world, and they come in all sizes. Snakes can be found through the trees, they crawl on the ground, they live under the ground, and they swim in the water. Very interesting creatures. Some snakes are venomous, not my friend here, but the Black Mamba, very poisonous. Matter of fact, their bite is often referred to as the kiss of death. They can grow 15 feet long and can travel up to seven miles an hour. They don't call them Black Mambas because of the color of their skin, but the interior of their mouth is black.

Snakes also come in all sizes, like this Boa or Python, they can grow to great sizes. Matter of fact, in South America, they found some fossils of a snake that they call Titano Boa. They believe it was as big as 50 feet long and weighed as much as a car. Say, "cheese." A lot of people are scared of snakes. I used to live in a mountain in a cave, and I ran into snakes frequently. They never bothered me unless I was bothering them. In the Bible, the snake is often a symbol of the devil. In reality, it's just a symbol. They're animals like other animals, but it says they were cursed to go upon their belly because they were the first medium that the devil used to tempt Adam and Eve.

In the Book of Numbers chapter 21, it tells the story of how when the children of Israel were going through the wilderness, they began to complain about God's manna. And it says the Lord allowed these fiery serpents to go among the people and many were bitten, and the venomous deadly. I should probably mention at this point, that bread they were complaining about is a symbol for the Word of God. As many of the people were dying from this plague of serpents, they went on to Moses and they said, "What shall we do?" God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and lift it up, that whoever looked upon the serpent, they would be healed of their venom.

This is why it's so important because Jesus says in the gospel of John chapter 3, verse 14 and 15, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life." They needed to look and to live. You see, those ancient shepherds when they would kill a venomous snake, they would carry it off on their staff and bury it. So, a serpent on a pole represented a defeated snake. It's talking about defeating the devil, friends. Have you been bitten by the serpent? We all have. The only cure for the venom of Satan is to look in faith at Jesus. He then defeated the devil. He took the venom of sin in his body to provide the antidote in his blood. So friends, I encourage you to look today and live.

Doug: Wish you could get a new start. I'd like to live my life over knowing what I know now. I don't want to start over just make the same mistakes. I want to have my memories so I don't make the same mistakes, but you do get a new beginning. You become a new creature. That feeling of all your sins being washed away because God promises it, isn't that a wonderful concept, friends? Jesus: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink. Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me.

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