Scripture: Matthew 7:12, Ephesians 4:1-3, James 5:16
Date: 01/22/2011 
Lesson: 4
Relationships can make us joyful or miserable. The Bible offers guidelines to improve your relationships with other people.
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Good morning and happy, Happy Sabbath, to each and every one of you who are joining us this morning for Sacramento central's "central study hour." We welcome you from across the country and around the world, however you're joining us, whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website this morning at, or on the various television networks, welcome and happy, Happy Sabbath. Those of you who have sent in I think the most popular song request is "a child of the King." We're going to sing that this morning, 468 in your hymnals. And this is from aaron and gloria in australia, angel, jasmine, veronica and ralph and birdie in bahamas, valencia and abelino and Orlando and belize, fernando and farah in brazil, dorothy and ely in California, navarius in Canada, dawn and kaylia in england, stanley in tanzania, olive and cleavland in trinidad tobago, shirmay in turks and caicos, and marylou in Washington. Okay, there's not that many of us right here this morning, but there's many of you that are watching. And we want to hear you join us this morning as we sing 468.

We're going to do all four stanzas, "a child of the King." [Music] Aren't you glad you are a child of the King of the universe this morning. No matter what your situation--and I was just thinking, traveling around the world with maranatha volunteers international, I have seen a lot of abject poverty. And it's something that many of us don't see in this country. But most, a lot of the world I should say, is not as fortunate as we are here in the United States. This is a very, very blessed nation.

And it is so exciting that people that live in filth, but they love Jesus, one day they are going to, each and every one of us, have a mansion if we are in heaven and we make that a priority of our life to be there. Most important though, we are all going to see Jesus face-to-face and spend eternity on streets of gold with the person who gave his life because he loves us so much. And we have so much to be thankful for no matter where you are, what the situation is, we are all a child of the King. And that is very exciting and a wonderful privilege. Our next song, number 71, "come thou almighty king.

" This is a request from carol in belize, jenal in Georgia, maple in japan and vern and sandie in North Carolina. Number 71, we'll do the first, second and fourth stanza. [Music] Father in Heaven, may we always remember that we are your child. You are our loving Heavenly Father. And may we always praise you no matter what we're going through.

It's raining outside here this morning in Sacramento, but we know above the clouds it's sunny. And we know that our circumstances do not altar your love for us. And father we thank you for--for coming to this world, giving up the glories of heaven, having a cruel death so that we, each one here, and those that can hear my voice, would have the hope of everlasting life with you. And we know that that day is coming very soon. Please may each one of us be ready.

May we have a revival in our own lives, in our churches, in our families, in the world. We know that you cannot come until we're ready, but we can't keep putting off our salvation because you are going to have to come one day whether we're ready or not. And father I just pray that as many people as possible will meet you on that day, saying, "lo, this is our Lord, we have waited for him and he will save us." Thank you for this beautiful Sabbath that you have blessed us with. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our youth pastor, pastor steve allred.

Happy new year. So proud of all of you for coming out so early on a January 1st. But of course you weren't up all night celebrating, were you? I was sound asleep at midnight last night, but my wife said that the neighbors were, you know, doing all those fun explosives last night around midnight so it woke her up. But for some reason I slept right through it. But here we are.

What better day to begin a new year than a Sabbath day, January 1, 2011. I can't believe time has flown by. We are living in the 21st century, 11 years into it. Well, today we're delving into the fourth lesson of our Bible study quarterly series called, "Jesus wept: the Bible and human emotions." And we're talking about relationships today as we talk about our fourth Bible study. Now whether we like to admit it or not, relationships are just a part of life.

And more than that, they're a part of being a Christian. Back a few centuries ago, it seemed like the idea caught on among some Christians that in order to be a good Christian, you needed to go and recluse yourself from other people. Live in a cave or a monastery or someplace hidden away. And that was how you maintained your holiness as an individual. But of course the Bible doesn't paint that picture of Christianity at all.

In fact, in the book of 1 John chapter--well, the whole book actually, but chapter 3 talks about it especially. It talks about how if you want--if we want to have a relationship with God as individual Christians, that vertical relationship, that the horizontal relationship, the relationship with those around us is essential to having that relationship with God. And I don't know all the reasons why, but one of the reasons that's implied in the book of 1 John, the little epistle there is that if you can't love somebody that you see and feel and interact with on an earthly level, how can you love a God that you've never seen or touched or maybe even heard audibly? How can you love something that abstract if you haven't loved on the concrete level? So the Bible says relationships are a part of being a Christian. If we're going to figure out how to live in heaven someday, we've got to first of all understand how to have relationships, healthy ones, Godly ones in this life. So I'm really happy that the lesson here is talking about relationships, as we talk about emotions and what they have to do with the Christian life.

So today we're just going to jump right in, jump right into the lesson. Ephesians 4 is where we begin, incredible chapter in your Bible. I'll tell you, this chapter has some of the best practical advice for being a Christian of any chapter in the Bible, Ephesians 4, whole chapter. And we will read from some of these verses today, about six or eight of them. So let's start out with the first 3 verses in Ephesians, Ephesians 4, the first 3 verses.

Paul writing verse 1, "therefore, i, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk," Ephesians, he says, and of course this applies to us as well, "to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." And we'll stop right there. Humility, gentleness, patience, things that we're all born with a huge quantity of, right? Were you born with a lot of patience? You born with a lot of humility, gentleness? Well, you know, maybe little bits. Maybe some people have more than others naturally, but the Bible paints a picture here. Paul says, "listen, I want you ephesian church, church at ephesus," no, not just the ephesian church, but how about us today? You Christians living in the 21st century in 2011 to have humility, gentleness, patience. A lot of times we think of these things as kind of the soft side of Christianity.

We want to talk about the hard stuff. Come on, give me prophecy. Let's talk about Revelation 13 and the Mark of the beast. Let's talk about 6-6-6. And those things are important.

God gave us that message there, Revelation 13-14 to tell to the world, but we can't forget that while we're sharing the message, this is how we're supposed to do it. Right? Humility, gentleness, patience. So we're talking about relationships today. Paul writes to the ephesian church, he says, "listen, I want you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." So in other words this isn't just an elective thing, an optional matter. It's about walking worthy of your calling.

So if we're really going to be Christians, following Jesus, he says, "walk with humility, gentleness, and patience, showing tolerance for one another in love--" that last part is just dynamite. Look at this, "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit--" diligent to preserve the unity. I don't know about you, but I have not always been diligent in my Christian walk, even within the church to preserve unity. It's often times easier to kind of be a little bit divisive, isn't it? Unnecessarily so sometimes. So, why does Paul--the lesson asks this question, very good question, "why does Paul connect humility and gentleness and patience with good relationships and unity?" And I think the obvious answer is that if any of these elements are missing from a person who's trying to build a relationship with somebody else, the relationship probably is going to suffer in some way.

If you're not gentle, if you're harsh, will the relationship suffer? If you're impatient instead of being patient, will the relationship suffer? And we could go on, of course. And so these characteristics are so vital. And each of you can undoubtedly think of times when one of these characteristics, humility, gentleness, patience, has made the critical difference in a relationship, perhaps one that was in trouble. And you've said, "listen, I realize I haven't been patient. I haven't been gentle.

I need to be more humble in this relationship." So thank you, Paul, for starting us out there in Ephesians 4. Now the lesson takes us back. Let's go back to the book of 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel 25. And I trust that you have been studying your Sabbath school lesson and so you've already read this whole chapter. So we are not going to read through the, let's see, 44 verses of it here today.

Although we could if you like. Anybody want to? Okay, alright, so we're just going to go ahead and I'll summarize the story for you. And you probably heard it before anyway. Story goes like this; David, here he is. He's a fugitive running from Saul.

He's living out in the mountains with his few hundred men that have come to him and said, "hey, we want to be with you out here." And so he's living among the rocks and the caves, wherever they can find food and shelter. And he happens to be out by a certain very wealthy man's flocks and herds. And he provides protection from the wild animals and the thieves. You know, they had, instead of horse thieves back then it was sheep thieves I guess, right? So providing protection from the thieves that would steal this man's flocks. And so he hears that this man whose name is nabal is shearing his sheep.

It's that time of year when they count the sheep, they clean them up, they shear them, they you know--make sure every part of the flock is healthy. And so David says, "listen, I'm going to send a couple of my--my boys over there to get a little bit for what we've done, maybe just a little payback for all of that hard work of protecting this guy's flocks." And you know, this is kind of common thing that was done. It wasn't like he was asking for something extra special. So he sends some of his young men. And in verse 5 of 1 Samuel 25, David said, "go up to Carmel, visit nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, 'have a long life, and peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.

Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give us whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.'" So they go and they tell this message. But nabal answers them in verse 10, you can read it.

He said, "who are you? And who's David? I never heard of this guy. How do I know that you're not just some band of guys who's trying to, you know, dupe me into giving you something and it's going to go to somebody other than who you say it's going to. I don't even know who you are. Go back and tell your master that, you know, no, I'm not going to give him anything." So they come back to David with this message, and David is immediately-- what's his response? How would you--one word. He's offended.

He's upset. In fact, so much so in verse 13 that he says to all of his men, or at least a few of them here, 400 of them, yep, he says, "put your sword on. We are going to go and take this guy out, you know. This is ridiculous. We've been nice to him and now he's treating us like this.

And so they March toward nabal's home. And on their way, some of the servants of this man who had seen what had happened, went and reported to nabal's wife. Her name was abigail. The Bible says she was an intelligent person. She was very beautiful as well.

And they go to her and they say, "abigail, you know, your husband he is such a grump and such a jerk. Here's what happened..." And so she is just thinking, "oh no, this is terrible. Obviously that guy is going to be offended." She didn't know what was going to happen, but she knew something bad was going to come out of this. So she gets a bunch of food. And you can read through it there.

She takes like 500 cakes of figs and some bottles of grape juice and all sorts of other things. And she puts it on a bunch of donkeys and a bunch of servants and they head down the road towards David. And as they come upon David, David and his men, it says, are coming down a ravine with their swords on. They are, they're just hot. They're tempers are hot.

They're ready to go and take this guy nabal out. They're like, "this is it." And they look down. And here is a whole train of donkeys and people loaded with food coming towards them. And the story goes that as abigail gets nearer, she falls, she falls ahead, falls on her knees in front of David and says, let's read it on verse 24, she said, "she fell at his feet and said: 'on me alone, my Lord, be the blame! And please let your maidservant speak to you and listen to the words of your maidservant. Please, do not let my Lord pay attention to this worthless man nabal.

For as his name, so is he.'" By the way, the word, nabal, means fool. "Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But i, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my Lord who sent you. Now therefore, my Lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek evil against my Lord be as nabal." And then she goes on to say, "listen, I got a gift here I'm going to give you. Hopefully it will make you happy." Now, story goes of course that David accepts it. And he basically says, "you have saved me from doing something really foolish.

You were right. I was wrong." She goes back, tells her husband nabal about what almost happened to him. And he has some sort of a heart attack or stroke and dies a couple days later. So a lot of lessons in this story, right? A lot of lessons in this story. The lesson points this out.

It says, "this story provides an excEllent example of successful social interaction." And I would also add unsuccessful social interaction, because I don't think--there was also some examples of that, you know, with nabal and David's men of course. Then the lesson said this. They said, "results vary significantly depending on how individuals present themselves." That reminds me for one of those tv advertisements for a product. "Results may vary." And you're thinking yeah, yeah, they really do vary. Sometimes they vary so much that it only works on like 1% of the population.

But anyway, it reminds me, my wife is a little worried because my hairline is receding a little bit. And so she went online and ordered me some rogaine. You know what that is? If any of you are having hair loss problems, I suggest that you try it. It's--and I have no idea how well it works yet because I haven't noticed a difference. But again, it's the little product, you have to rub it in twice a day or something.

And supposedly it helps your hair to grow. And you're like--but of course, "results may vary." So if I don't put it on twice a day, or if I don't rub it in quite the right spot, it may not work. And it's the same with relationships, isn't it? Because as they say, results vary significantly depending on how we present ourselves as individuals. If we come off like nabal did, results vary, don't they? If we come off like abigail did, we can get that result, the results of someone saying, "listen, I was wrong. I apologize.

" And so these characteristics that Paul introduces us to in Ephesians 4 are so vital. And we see them exemplified here with abigail as she approaches David. Okay, so how did nabal respond to David's request for reward for his service? He was you could say very adversarial about it. He was not appreciative. And he sent them away and dismissed them.

What is his response as we read the story? What does it tell us about what kind of a person nabal was? Type of guy you'd want as your next-door neighbor? Type of person you'd be wanting to be best friends with? Probably not. He's not a very nice-sounding person. What was David's initial attitude like? Was it full of care and humility, his initial attitude? No. It was in fact very resentful. And he wanted to get back at nabal for what he had done to him, right? So how did abigail respond to the situation? Her servants told her about it.

Immediately she said, "listen, we got to do something about this." And I know that maybe if I come at this with a humble attitude, that will help the situation. Her response showed intelligence and wisdom, tact and humility on her part. Would you agree? She provided good food. A way to a man's stomach is-- or wait--to his stomach, to his heart is through his stomach, they say. I don't know if that's what she was thinking, but maybe.

Right? And by the way, I don't know that that's true anyway. But perhaps it was with these guys. She ran to bow down before David. It wasn't like she was, you know, trying to act proud in any sense of the word. She was very humble.

She addressed him as your servant. "I am your servant." And she addressed him as, my master." She asked for forgiveness, yes. And she also reminded David of his better nature, didn't she? She said, "listen, David, you don't need to do this. You're a better man than this. You don't have to shed innocent blood, David.

" And David said, "you're right. You have saved me from doing something that I did not want to do." So it brought about a complete turnaround in David's intentions and his actions. Didn't it? Completely helped turn that whole situation around. David of course praised God. And nabal, God took care of nabal in his own time.

Lesson we can learn there is that we don't have to worry about avenging ourselves, do we? God will take care of that for us. We don't even need to be resentful. We're going to talk about that in just a few minutes here. So one other story I wanted to just bring out to you, in the book of Daniel, the Bible gives us an example of someone who used these same characteristics, humility, gentleness, patience, to also do something for God, to stand up for God in a way that exemplified these characteristics. Daniel 1, the story of Daniel, you are undoubtedly familiar with it.

And the Bible says that as Daniel and his three friends were in captivity in Babylon, they were being commanded to be a part of the King's school, to eat his food. The food on the King's table unfortunately though was not healthy food. It was not food that God had-- it was food that actually God had forbidden. And so Daniel determined in his heart, first of all. He said, "listen, I'm going to do what's right.

" That was number one. So this is an important lesson on that front. God says, "I want people who will stand up for me." But there's a second lesson here as well. And that lesson is how Daniel stood up for what is right. It matters how we do it, doesn't it? And I'm still personally working on that.

And you probably are too. I want to stand up for God for what's right, but I also want to do it in a Christ-like manner. And so Daniel though-- look at what happens here. This is in verses 8 and 9. So he says, "listen, I'm not going to eat this food.

"But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the King's choice food or with the wine which he drank;" so listen to this. Listen to what happens next. "So he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself." So Daniel told off the chief of the officials and said, "I'm not going to eat your food!" Is that what he did? What does it say? "He sought permission," or he requested of. In other words in the original language and even as it's translated, it implies that Daniel came with a humble attitude to a superior and said, "would it be possible for you to give us something different to eat? Vegetables and water." Now what would have happened if the official had said, "no, I'm not going to." Well, then maybe Daniel would have had to take another stand and say, "but I'm really sorry to have to do this, but this is what's necessary because God comes before anything else." But regardless of what would have happened, Daniel's attitude here was an attitude of humility and respect, wasn't it? Which I think is important. Look what happens here in verse 9, it says, "now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander and the officials.

" Daniel here he's a prisoner of war. He's expendable. They don't care about him. He was risking his life by taking this stand. He has convictions.

He determines to do what's right. But he also realized that how he stood up for the truth and for God mattered. And so he sought permission. Daniel was respectful and humble as he made his requests. What would the world be like if Christians today were more like Daniel, if I were more like Daniel, if you were more like Daniel? Number one, they did what God asked them to do staunchly.

They stood up for the right. And number two, they did it in a Christ-like way. I think the world would be a--have a little bit different impression of Christians not being hypocrites, not being bullies. Maybe. And so there's a verse that I've been trying to lodge into my long-term memory.

It's in Philippians 2. And I should be able to tell it to you without even looking, but I'm going to look just in case I don't remember it all. Philippians 2:14-15, it says, "do all things without murmurings and disputings." By the way, murmurings meaning what? Complaining and disputing means arguing with people, I guess, and being disagreeable. Do all things without murmuring and disputings, "that you may be blameless and harmless, The Sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." And so God gives us this motto. I think that ought to be our motto as Christians.

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings." I want to be like that. I'm still not there yet. I'll be honest. I get a little upset sometimes when, you know, someone cuts me off on the road or, you know, someone's rude to me at the store. You know, I have those feelings.

But I don't want to be that way. I want to be more like that, like Jesus wants us to be right here. Do you want to be that way? You want to be like this? So someone out there has 1 Peter 3:8-12. Let's get the mic to them. And in a couple minutes here we're going to let them read.

1 Peter 3:8-12, raise your hand if you have that verse. So let's go to Monday's lesson. We're going to talk now about repaying evil with blessings. It's kind of just naturally leads us to this next topic here, repaying evil with blessings, 1 Peter 3:8-12, you can look it up. We have someone who would like to read that for us.

Who is that? "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing, but contrary-wise blessing, knowing that he thereunto called, that he should inherit the blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." Thank you for reading that. So this little passage is packed with all sorts of good advice, isn't it? It's packed with something that God is challenging us with. And as we note, all of God's biddings are enablings.

If God asks us to do something, God will give us the power to get there. And I want to be more like this too. "Harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, humble in spirit." These are words that jumped out at me as I read this passage here. Harmonious: what does that mean? I don't know how many of you play musical instruments. But if you play an instrument that has, for example, a stringed instrument, a guitar, a violin, a cello, a harp, even the piano actually has stings.

If one or two of the strings is out of tune with the other strings, how nicely does that instrument make music? It doesn't sound very good, does it? In fact, we would call it something that's disharmonious, right? It's not harmonious at all. And so in the church, as a body of believers, in the home as a family, God calls us to live in harmony as much as possible, to be in tune with what he wants and what--with what God has given us to be in harmony with. And as we are in harmony with God as believers, we are in harmony with each other then. And so that's something that God is calling us to to work towards, is to be in harmony with each other and with him. Sympathetic, that's a very-- I think we all know what that means.

And God calls us to exhibit sympathy. Brotherly, to have that sense of family within the church. He's writing to the church here, Peter is. Kind hearted, humble in spirit. Look at verse 9, boy this gets really practical, "not returning evil for evil.

" By the way, that's pretty natural for a lot of us. Or what else? "Insult for insult." Someone insults you, what do you want to do? Give it right back to them--do a little bit better actually, right? That's what we want to do naturally. But God says instead respond with a blessing. Now that, you know, on a surface level I can do that sometimes. You know, someone says something to you that's kind of mean and you can smile back.

But inside sometimes I'm feeling like, you know what? I'm hoping that smile just made you madder, you know? You know--you've felt that way I'm sure, right? You just kind of want to--but God's working on my heart, and I want to be more like him with my motives as well and saying, "God, I really want to not just act like I'm giving back a blessing, but also I want to really be blessing someone in my heart. Jesus said what? "Pray for those who despitefully use you," right? Pray for them. If we pray for our enemies, it helps us to love them. Okay, so look what it says. This is interesting.

Verse 10, "the one who desires life and wants to see good days should," do what? "Keep their tongue from evil and their lips from speaking guile," or the word guile just means lies, deceit. So this is very practical. Peter says, "listen, if you want to have a long life and enjoy it, put a lid on it." Don't be saying so many things about people that aren't true. Don't be gossiping. Be careful with Your Words.

And that's-- this is practical advice. Proverbs says, "in the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin." A lot of talking and a lot of gibber gabber about people and their lives and other stuff like that. Kind of like what cindy was talking about this morning, at least some of what she was talking about. It's going to lead us down the wrong path. And this is again something I naturally like to do.

But I want to learn to be more like Jesus. And God's been working with me. It's good when you see growth in your own life. That's like huge, isn't it? Because that's hard for us to do, but God's been helping me to grow in this area 'cause this is a problem I have. Now look what it says.

This is a real incentive. Verse 12, "for the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." And according to the context here, what does it mean to do evil? Gossiping about people, speaking lies about people. That's evil according to this context. So it's basically saying if we're doing that kind of stuff, God's not listening to our prayers. You have a problem getting your prayers answered? You're feeling like God's not listening to you? Stop gossiping.

Stop telling lies. Stop being so talkative. And say, "listen, I want to listen to you, God, and not be so involved in doing what this text here talks about." So what if Christians, even just adventists right here in Sacramento, decided to live like this a little bit more? What would happen again to our world? What would happen to our world if we decided to seek peace, to refrain our tongues from evil, to return a blessing, blessings for insults? What would the world do? I think they would roll over-- they would just be-- they'd be amazed. What's happened to you people? But instead, often times we as Christians, and I'm probably going to push a few buttons here, but don't get mad at me. Just try to see if you find any truth in this.

Often we are the ones on the front lines, whether in our own personal lives or even on a bigger, more corporate level, fighting for our rights. Aren't we? Aren't we sometimes involved with that? Making a scene because we want the power and the clout in the world. It really bothers me when I see this happening on a corporate Christian level. Oftentimes Christians are the ones saying that our enemies should get what they deserve. And believe me, I feel that way sometimes too.

But I think we as Christians need to move beyond the eye for the eye, the tooth for the tooth. "Jesus upgraded," the lesson said, I'm quoting here, "the eye-for-an-eye approach to turning the other cheek." That's the new approach for Christians. Can you say, "amen" to that? By the way, if you want a reference, Matthew 5:38-39. This was a revolutionary concept in Jesus' day, and it's still a revolutionary concept today, for many cultures and traditions, especially right here in the good old u-s of a. We don't like that whole turning-the-other-cheek thing very much.

Unfortunately even Christians rarely return good for evil. My neighbor puts his trash can on my property, I feel like pushing it off my property and putting my trashcan on his property. True story. But you know what? I decided that's not being like Jesus. So let's let him put his trashcan on my property.

It's okay. It's not hurting me. Right? I don't know. I don't know what the balance is. Something like that.

I'm not saying we should just let people walk all over us. But then again maybe there are times when we just let people walk all over us. I don't know. You need to pray about it. But Jesus says this.

He says, "learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart," Matthew 11:29. You know, I was reading a book. We took a little time off for Christmas and went and hung out with my wife's family. And so I had some time to do some reading. I love to read, and I love history and things like that.

So this is a book I picked up a while ago. It's taken me a while to get through it. And actually I had a couple books. This is one of them I was reading over vacation here, "American Gospel: God, the founding fathers and the making of a nation." This is by John meacham, the former editor of "newsweek" magazine. And so reading through this book, excEllent book by the way, very balanced approach, very historically documented approach.

In his book, there was a quotation I just reminded me of as I was studying this lesson here. Let me read this to you. Don't--it's a little bit long, but don't let me lose you here. "Why, some Christians ask, must the majority be silenced?" Now he's talking about culture wars within America, how Christians often times are the ones out there saying, "you know, these people over here, the secularists and the liberals are taking away our freedoms and making things happen in our world that we don't like." And so here is--he's now saying here is what some Christians are asking. "Why, some Christians ask, must the majority be silenced?" The majority being the Christians.

"Or made to feel as though their beliefs and customs are to go unremarked or uncelebrated," meaning in the government or in public life. "Simply because a minority, and probably a tiny minority at that believes something different." Very true, this is what Christians ask, and this is actually what happens, right? Sometimes. Then he says this, listen. "One religious reply is that a true Christian ought to be more interested in making the life of the world gentle for others than he should be in asserting the dominance of his own faith." True or false? I think it's true, isn't it? Listen to this. "The power of the story of Jesus' passion lies in its paradoxes.

" This is powerful, folks. "He confounded the world and the world's expectations by bringing light from darkness, strength from weakness, life from death." Jesus was this man of paradoxes. The sermon on the mount is about reversing the understood order of things. If the first shall be last and the last first, then who are Christians to exert power over others, by the sword," which Jesus of course explicitly forbade us to do, "or the purse, or the polling place." How well have we been as individual Christians in applying biblical principles that Jesus has given us like this in our own lives? Sometimes not very good, have we. And I don't know, again, all the answers or what all the balance is.

But I do believe that God is calling us as Christians to live more like Jesus. Would you agree with that? To live like Peter tells us here, to be people who are harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, not returning insult for insult, but blessing for insult, seeking peace and pursuing it and keeping our tongues from evil. Well, let's move on with our lesson here. The lesson actually takes us to 1 Samuel 24 now. So if you go back there to the old testament book of 1 Samuel where we were just at a few moments ago, 1 Samuel 24.

The lesson then takes us back to another story of David. Now David of course was being hounded by his archenemy, Saul the King. And what's interesting about this story is that--is that David had multiple opportunities to do away with his enemy, and yet he didn't. Not only did he not do it, but whenever his--his servants would suggest, "hey, this is an opportunity, just, you know, take this guy out right now," he would say, "you know what? I can't, because he is the Lord's anointed." Interesting. Not much respect anymore today for the Lord's anointed.

And however you apply that. But David had a real respect for something that God had set aside. Now keep in mind, not only did he have a respect for God's anointed, but David himself was also God's anointed, wasn't he? He had been anointed as king, and yet he said, "listen, even though I've been anointed as king, I can't go and take care of God's business for him. Leave it to God. I'll leave Saul in God's hands.

" For 1 Samuel 24:4-6, "the men of David said to him--" by the way, this is when, you know, Saul went into the cave to take a nap or whatever. And David's servant said, "hey, this is your opportunity. Get rid of him. "The men of David said to him, 'behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, 'behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, you shall do to him as it seems good to you.' Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. It came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe.

And so he said to his men, 'far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my Lord, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, because he is the Lord's anointed.'" David's conscience was bothering him. And of course you know eventually what happened as Saul left the cave. David went out and showed him the piece of garment and said, "I could have ended your life, but I didn't. I'm sorry I did even this." Right? What does this tell us about David's character? What kind of a guy was he? You know, I'd like to have known David. I mean he had some problems in his character too.

We find that out later on, right? But he was a man who-- who, he really listened to the Holy Spirit's voice. Even when he screwed up, he still went back and really repented. He had a really sensitive conscience. I think that is a--that is why God called him a man after his own heart. Sensitive conscience, meaning he listened to God's voice.

How might we need to apply this attitude in our own experience, especially when dealing with someone who might be anointed of the Lord. How could we apply this in our own lives? I'm going to leave that with you to think about. But I want to move on to Tuesday's lesson here, talking about forgiveness. Now in--we have someone with the verse Ephesians 4:32. Let's get the mic to that person, Ephesians 4:32.

And let's see here. This one is--we're moving on to Tuesday's lesson talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness, again, a natural attribute for all of us that we are born with, right? Wrong. Okay, but God says, "listen, if you don't have it, you're not born with it, I'll give it to you." Ephesians 4:32, who has that verse? Who will read for us? Okay, let's go for it. Ephesians 4:32, "and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

" Thank you, melissa. Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving. How well have you been at applying this principle in your life, this biblical principle of forgiveness? Whom do you need to forgive, and why is it important for your own good to forgive them? Is there someone you need to forgive in your life? Have you thought about it? Someone that's--you've been holding a grudge against. Sometimes it feels good. You feel justified in doing it.

And yet we're going to find out that the one who had the most justification for holding a grudge actually said to his father, "forgive them, the ones who just nailed me to this cross." We're going to read that verse in a minute. "Forgiveness," it says in the lesson, "counts among the most soothing strategies to emotional disturbances." This is answering the question, "why is it important for your own sake?" Even if the ability to truly forgive and be forgiven comes only from God through a God-transformed heart. So they're saying forgiveness is really something that's good for you. If you don't forgive, if you hold onto that grudge, if you're holding onto the bitterness, the anger, it will eventually-- it's going to hurt you. It's going to hurt you.

It's going to hurt me. And so it's better to say to God, "God, I can't forgive. I don't have it of myself to forgive, but please give me a transformed heart so that I can forgive." Easier said that done, but it's possible with God's help, isn't it? Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus gives us some real practical counsel here. Let's get someone who's gonna read that for us, let's get a mic to them, Matthew 5:23-24. Raise your hand, Matthew 5:23-24, okay.

This verse here is applying to our own relationship with God and how that relates to forgiveness. "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." This is, boy, revolutionary, isn't it? Think about it. We come to God. We're having our devotions. We're praying.

And God says, "listen, you've got a problem over here with somebody you need to resolve." Go work that out before we get together. Before we have our time together, God says, "go work that out with them." That's pretty--yeah. I've been convicted about this a couple times in my life. You know, I've got to--i need to talk to that person because I've done something that's hurt them or I've had bitterness against them. And you know, there are times when we have tried to reconcile or we've asked forgiveness to someone.

And either they don't want to forgive us or they want to continue in their hurtful ways that have brought about the situation. And I think, you know, so we have to pray and say, "okay, what do I do in that situation? Do I just let it go? Do I keep working at trying to reconcile?" That's between the Holy Spirit and your heart. But what God does tell us here is that we should not make excuses when there is something that we can make right with someone else. And God says, "listen, this is important," right? Matthew 5:23-24. One other verse out there that we passed out to someone, Luke 17:3-4.

"Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." Hmm. Boy. Tell you what, that's a challenge right there. Seven times in a day, maybe--let's say it's the same offense.

Have you ever done that by the way to someone? Have you ever said, "I'm sorry," and then gone right back and done the same thing again?" Come on, admit it. Of course you have. And--no you haven't, okay. Some of you are shaking your head. Well, then I'm impressed.

But we probably all have done that. And we've definitely done it to God. We really have. Think about it. We've offended over and over again, "God I'm so sorry I just messed up again, the very same thing I asked your forgiveness for.

Lord, help me." And of course God wants to get us off of the sin-and-repent cycle. You know, he wants to get us--like the Bible says in Proverbs 4:18, "the path of the just is like the shining light that shines more and more until the perfect day." He wants us to grow, not just be stagnant. But this is saying, "have mercy on others like God has had mercy on you." Good advice. Luke 23:34, the Bible says this. Jesus on the cross.

His hands have just been nailed to this wooden beam. His feet have been nailed to that cross. He's been beaten to a pulp. His head has been crushed with a crown of thorns, and he is bearing the sins of all the world on his shoulders. And yet as he's hanging on that cross, as they're nailing his hands and his feet to that cross, Jesus prays a prayer.

He says, "father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do." Wow. That is love, isn't it? That is love when God can look at those who are hurting him. And like it says in Romans 5, "while we were yet enemies of God," throwing it in his face, we're the ones nailing him to the cross. It says, "God gave his life for us." Forgiveness can be difficult, very difficult, especially when we have been very badly hurt. And I don't claim to be able to understand your situation that you may feel a resentment towards someone, or you feel like, "I can't forgive.

" I don't claim to understand that, but there is one who can understand that. And that is God. It's Jesus. And so if you're feeling like, "you know what, this offense is so great, this hurt is so great in my life, this pain is just too big for me to deal with," go to God. He'll help you with it, because he has been through greater pain than any of us will ever know.

How do you forgive? How do you learn to forgive those who don't ask for forgiveness, who don't care about your forgiveness and who might even scorn at your forgiveness like those of course who were doing that to Jesus? What is your responsibility in such cases? I'll leave that between you and God. But don't let that bitterness, that anger, that resentment eat away at you. Well, we're going to zip on here to Wednesday's lesson. Let's talk about confessing your faults or your sins to each other. James 5:16, here's what it says.

"Therefore confess your sins," or some Bibles say your faults, "to each other, and pray one for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Now the word in the Greek language there, translated faults or sins is the word that is actually used for sin in the previous verse. It's also the word that's used for sin in many other places in the Bible including James 4:17 where it says, "to him that knoweth do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Same Greek word. And so obviously this is not though promoting the idea of going to a human being, as some churches teach, to receive forgiveness or absolution for your sins. Because there's only one who can give us ultimate forgiveness, and that is who? Jesus.

And so in 1 John 1:9, the Bible says, "if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us." And so the Bible is very clear about that. However the Bible also tells us here that there is a place for sharing things that we have done, maybe against someone else with other people. And there's a balance here, because there are times when things that have been thought in our own hearts, we should not be sharing those with other people. Share it with God and leave it at that. There are things that people may have done that don't need to be shared with anyone else.

But there are also many reasons why sharing and confessing to other people can be something that will help us to grow closer to God. Here are some examples. First of all, securing forgiveness from someone can help restore a relationship. Isn't that true? It also shows that I am willing to take responsibility for my actions and say, "listen, I messed up. I'm sorry.

Please forgive me for this sin that I committed against you." There's also a place for restoration. Zacchaeus, Luke 19, he confessed, "listen, Lord, I have stolen from people. I'm going to give back four times what I have stolen." Okay, so there's a place for that. There's also another reason this can be healthy, and that is for accountability purposes. Confessing sins, errors and transgressions to someone you trust can bring about emotional healing.

And this can be taken too far of course, but when you do your appointed work without contention or criticism of others, God will bless you. And he'll bless what you're doing. You want to be blessed in your way? Do you want to know that God is shining through you to others? Do you want that in your life? I do too. So let go of the bitterness. Let go of the resentment.

Let go of things in your life that God is asking you to let go of. Now I say that almost a little bit just casually as though it's an easy thing. It's not always an easy thing; I recognize that. But God is someone who has gone through a lot more than any of us have and he can help us.

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