Church Life

Church Life

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
Date: 09/08/2012  Lesson: 10
"Paul gives these Thessalonians, both leaders and lay members, very practical, as well as spiritual, advice about how to relate to one another."
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Welcome to central study hour at Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in Sacramento, California in the United States of America. It is by no accident that you have joined us to open God's word and study with us - as you so faithfully do - either live on the internet streaming, through radio, television, however you're joining us. We are thrilled that you're open to God's Word and that you want to study along with us. God always has amazing new things to show us and to teach us about his love and his character. I'm so thankful this morning.

As we begin our program today, we are going to sing hymn #27 - 'rejoice ye pure in heart' - and this comes as a request from Mark in California, Daniel in colombia, bob and Paula in Idaho, dave in Indiana, stacy-ann in jamaica, howard and dian in Mississippi, marian in Oregon, dovie in qatar, grace, gracielle, and gwyne in republic of korea, and Esther in spain. Hymn #27 - 'rejoice ye pure in heart' - and we're going to sing stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 5. If you have a favorite hymn that you'd like to sing with us on a coming presentation, it's very simple. You just go to our website at 'saccentral.org', you click on the 'contact us' link, and there you can request any hymn in our hymnal. As you know, we're learning new hymns and so you are sending those in - any hymn in the hymnal that you'd like to sing with us we are willing to do with you on a coming presentation.

Hymn #20 - this is a new one this week - 'o praise ye the Lord' - hymn #20. We're going to sing all four verses and you know it's new because pedro said that he wanted to sing this and he is in barbados. So pedro, sing along. Hymn #20 - 'o praise ye the Lord'. You know, I'm really appreciating all these new hymns that we're learning.

There are some beautiful hymns - some beautiful words written by thankful and grateful hearts and I'm so appreciative of what we have right here. Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much that we can sing praises to you and that you listen because you have created us and that's what we're supposed to do so we come humbly before you, singing praises, listening to Your Word, longing to learn more about you and how much you love us and your character that you have that you want to place in us. So Lord, as we open Your Word with pastor white this morning, I ask that as each person is listening to you across the world, that they hear your voice speaking individually to them and that they feel you drawing them closer and closer into the saving relationship that you are coming soon and that you will take us to heaven. Lord, we are banking our lives that your promises are true and we pray these things and we just cannot wait until you burst through those clouds and take us home.

We praise these things in your precious and holy, holy name. Amen. Our study this morning will be brought to us by pastor harold white. He's the administrative pastor here at Sacramento central. Good morning.

You would never know that that's a new song to those ladies, would you? They do so well, it's just amazing. It seems like they've sung that song for all their lives. Welcome to you who are with us here in Sacramento and all of you who are joining us online, radio, live-streaming - wherever you're joining us - we're glad that you are involved in our Sabbath school class here week by week. Many of you who I've corresponded with on the internet I give you a special welcome this morning also. We have a free offer to mention this morning and it's related, of course, to our subject matter of the week - 'church life' is the name of the lesson - and this book was written by Pastor Doug Batchelor with Karen lifshay also helping and is entitled 'how to survive in church'.

So you can get this book if you just call for offer #787. Call 1-866-study-more or -788-3966. 'How to survive in church'. Wow, that's an interesting title, isn't it? Our lesson this week is 'church life' and I would invite you to take your quarterlies and read with me, if you would, the memory text there taken from Thessalonians 5, verses 20 and 21. These are very short verses, for the most part, this week.

Okay, are you ready? "Do not despise prophecies but test everything; hold fast what is good." Okay, that's exciting. 'Church life' - church life ought to be a little foretaste of heaven, would you agree to that? But unfortunately I hear stories every once in a while where some churches are going through some struggles where it's anything but heaven on earth. I am so thankful to be a part of the Sacramento central church. I enjoy coming to church every Sabbath. Now, we have our issues - as every church has issues to face every once in a while - but there is a spirit here that is just lovely and praise God for that.

It's just an exciting thing to get up on Sabbath morning and know that I'm going to come here and get to greet all you people and be with you. It's fun, exciting, and inspirational. The key thought for the week is that Paul is giving both leaders and lay members - and this is the issue - very practical as well as spiritual advice about how to relate to one another. Now I'm sure some people maybe think about that little concept there and say, 'well, you know, if we just - most important thing is to be connected with Christ then you wouldn't have all these problems. You wouldn't need practical advice.

' But no, that's not true. I mean that's the most important ingredient, of course, to have a relationship with God - the right kind of relationship, but then he's the one actually giving us practical advice - Paul he inspired to write some of this so practical advice is good. We are informed in the introduction that the next seven verses in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, will be eight brief admonitions - three of these admonitions give counsels on maintaining a positive Christian attitude and five on how to relate to new light in the form of prophecy, so that's what we're working with this week. I've handed out the first two verses. Somebody has 1 Thessalonians 5, verses 12 and 13.

We have that over on this side. That's the first two verses that we're going to be talking about this week and coming from this last part of the very first book to the Thessalonians and so, if we are ready we will read those verses - verse 12 and 13. "And we urge you brethren to recognize those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves." All right. Thank you very much.

In the world and in the church you - in general terms you kind of have two groups of people - you have followers and leaders, right? Now we all have - we all have some of both of those tendencies. We both are followers and we both are leaders. Sometimes the rub comes when you have a leader-type personality underneath another leader-type personality and, you know, you can say, 'I sure wish they would do it this way. They're not doing it the way I would do it.' And so sometimes you get into conflicts and those can be challenging sometimes, but I've often said - in fact, it's been quite a while ago, I guess, but I preached on it - and that is, 'in order to be a good #1 person - good #1 leader-type person - you have to know how to be a good #2 person.' That's probably the most dynamic example we have of that in the Bible is Moses and Joshua. Joshua was a good #2 man.

Moses couldn't have had a better #2 man. He was there for Moses all the time and when Moses passed on, it was just an automatic - almost an automatic thing that God would choose Joshua to become, then, the #1 man. Had Joshua not been a good #2 man I don't think he would have made a good #1 man. So we need to have - possess that willingness to follow - because we're all #2 on the totem pole when it comes to God at least - way down the line - so we're all followers in that respect. But church life is extremely interesting.

A pastor that I know - most of you all know - I've heard him say a few times, 'pastoring would be great if it wasn't for people.' Now, that kind of statement can probably be generated when there is some problem that is being faced within the church. You're facing this problem because people have maybe gotten a little bit out of touch with reality or something - something's going on. 'Pastoring would be great if it wasn't for people.' Well, church life is nothing without people because that's what the church is. We are the church, right? And so, yes, church life is a good place to be, a positive place to be, and people can bring that about by our relationships one with another. Unfortunately, sometimes it works the other way.

Sunday's lesson hits upon the concept of how people should relate to their leaders. Now a goodly number of people are very, very respectful to leadership and that's a good thing. There are some people that feel it is their mission in life to set leaders straight. I've known that kind of person before. And it's not that leaders don't need to be set straight sometimes, certainly we do.

None of us are - have arrived at perfection, it's just sometimes how they go about it can be a little bit challenging. I can assure you though, even though pastors of this church may need to be corrected, I assure you that when it comes to the big theological issues of God's Word, I don't believe you can find any of us going out in left field very far - that we are really concerned about sticking with the truth that has made this church what God wants it to be and we can be thankful for that. To say that life is getting interesting would be an understatement. There are some things happening in the church - as you are well aware of - that make us question some of the actions that are taken and some of the individuals and even in those leadership positions we have concerns. What are we to do? Well, we can all state our opinions, we can all voice our support to what we believe is truth and do that in as Christ-like a way as possible and stand for the truth though the heavens fall, but we must respect the fact that God is the one who has allowed certain people to be in leadership positions and probably the most important biblical example of that is king David before he was king.

He had a king over him who was king Saul and king Saul was not a good person. He was not a good king. He was not a good leader. But David treated him as the chosen of the Lord. Now, of course, he confronted him at times - respectfully.

Even though Saul sought to take his life, David had a couple of occasions where he could have taken his life or allowed somebody else to take the King's life and he said, 'no'. He would never do that of the chosen of the Lord. 'God placed him in that position, I didn't, and I am not the one who can take him out of that position.' Now, if we bring it down to our times, I was thinking about that. What if somebody, higher up in the church organization than myself, had it in for me? They just didn't like me. Maybe they thought I was trying to take their job or something, I don't know.

That would be far-fetched but I don't think it'd go as far as to seek to kill me. I doubt if they'd be like king Saul, but they could probably seek to kill my reputation. They'd probably be in a vantage point to do that, wouldn't they? So how would I relate to that? Well, I would hope and pray - I hope it never happens, first of all - secondly, I would hope and pray that I would take the example of David - that I would pray for that person and if I ever had the chance to reverse the tables on him - I could take him down and his reputation - I would hope I would choose not to do that. Not in a negative way for sure. David tried to reason with Saul and sometimes it temporarily helped.

We should do nothing less if ever placed in such situations. If people like David could respect his king, think what we could do in our day-to-day life. Now Sunday's lesson makes this statement towards the bottom: "above all else, leaders were expected to examine themselves before trying to correct others." Now this is an important issue and very practical, important advice. I will never forget a situation I had many years ago - early in my ministry in another place a long ways from here - of a couple in a church that were living way outside of the truths on some very important issues and they were involved in church in some leadership positions and I said, 'oh, I have to address this.' And so, actually it took five years to address it in a way that brought about the right results and part of the reason for that was because I was young and inexperienced and I didn't do everything exactly right, for sure, but it took five years to bring about the desired results. But one thing came out, though, during this process - and you can imagine there were some interesting times - one thing came out from a very wise person in our congregation.

He would often say things like this in our meetings, he says, 'when you consider going and talking to people and becoming involved in any kind of church discipline against somebody in the church, you better be willing to die for that person.' Wow, that made a big impact on me and I really prayed about that and came to the place where 'yes, you know, that's very true and I would be willing to die for these - this couple. I'm not out to just bring misery to them, I'm out to get them back into the church where they should be on a right platform in a right relationship with God.' We have to examine our motivations, do we not. Another concept talked about Sunday was the aspect of admonishing - used in this context it mentioned the word meaning 'to instruct, warn, or even to knock sense into' - did you read that? I thought, 'well, that's a little strong. Knock sense into?' Well, that may be a bit contentious if we tried to knock sense into somebody. Maybe - maybe tough love a certain way, perhaps, but to knock sense into? We better be very careful.

Admonishing people who need it can be a very delicate situation. I remember visiting several years ago - again, in another church, another place, another state, a long ways from here - visiting with a pastor's wife and she had taken upon a job in the community - a secular job - to help pay to get their kids through church school and Christian educated. And it was a time and in a place of the country that didn't take too kindly to that in some people at least - they thought a pastor's wife should be by her husband's side at all times just doing the work of a pastor's wife. Well, that's okay if you've got enough money to put your kids through school and so forth, but anyway, I'll never forget what she said. She said - they were having some problems in the church - a few little difficulties - and she said, 'I hate to say this and I hate the way it even sounds, but those people out there' - meaning those secular people she worked with - 'are more respectful and loving and kind to me than those people in there.

' - Talking about those people in the church. I thought, 'oh no! That can't be! If Christianity doesn't do anything for us, it should make us kind one to another.' Church life should be a positive place. Let's learn how to treat others with grace and love and kindness and that hits home, to me, very strongly, I have to tell you that because sometimes we can all get a little - our feathers ruffled - is that not right? She was one of the - very Godly lady, by the way - a good mother, a good wife, a good pastor's wife - one of the premier teachers in Sabbath school - even there she took some flack. I thought, 'here she's trying to do her best to help people and she's taking some of these problems.' Well, how does a pastor admonish in those kind of settings? Very delicately I imagine, wouldn't you say? Very delicate situation. Now, I have invited a friend this morning to come and join me.

Seymour morgan is - where is he at? Where did he go? Oh, he's right here. Okay. Seymour, he's such a blessing to our church. He's a counselor and he's done some counseling with people here and they have been so blessed. Just let me tell you, seymour, we really appreciate you and I've asked you if you could just come a share a few things this morning.

We have a - yeah, you have a microphone - conflict resolution in the families and how that might apply also to the church family and just wanted to have you give a few bullet points and share from your heart some of the things you know would help in conflict resolution. Thank you pastor. Good morning. Let me share with you for a few minutes about conflict resolution and - conflicts and conflict resolution in the family. Now - but let me first - let's talk about a piano.

Now a piano is a great instrument, in my opinion. It produces wonderful music. Now, despite the fact that there are different keys, each key - although different - provides a distinct sound when it is played. But when the sounds of those keys are combined, the result is a rich and harmonious blend of music, wouldn't you say? But if one or more keys are out of tune - think about this - the result is a dysfunctional sound that is unpleasant to the listener. Similarly, when we consider the family, each person in the family is different.

We may look different. We have different names. We think different and we may act different, but each member plays an important role in maintaining the harmonious function of the family system. So when there is a conflict in the family, of course the result is chaotic and it is unpleasant to all family members; however, conflict in a family can also be an opportunity in disguise. A conflict points out to the family that improvement is needed and that continued avoidance of the problem could lead to serious consequences.

So what are some practical steps that a family may take to resolve conflicts? The first thing is to recognize what the problem is. There's no way that you are going to be able to deal with the problem unless you can identify the problem and one way of doing this is to collaborate with each family member, you know, sit down and talk about the issue. What's going on here? And then write it down, because when you write the problem down, you are then able to identify what it is and then you can sit down and talk about it and resolve it. So that's the first step. The second step is practice what I call 'active listening'.

Now, active listening is very important. It is very reassuring to the family members - especially the children in this context. It says that they have your complete attention and that there's no deviation in your thinking. This technique demonstrates respect, love, and it increases mutual understanding in the family relationship. Another aspect is to be present in the moment.

Now what do I mean by that? It means that you're not thinking about something else while you're talking about the conflict. You're focusing on the issue, you want to get it resolved so, therefore, you're paying your full attention to what the issue is. Now, another aspect is use 'i' statement instead of 'you' statement. Typically when a problem arises we tend to point fingers and blame - 'you're the cause of this. You're the reason why this is happening.

If it weren't for you this would not be happening.' So, instead of pointing fingers you might ask questions such as, you know, 'what is the real issue? How can I or can we resolve the issue?' And some questions you may ask are 'how much does my behavior contribute to the problem? What do I need to do to change so that I can address conflict in a positive way?' So by focusing on your desire in what you want in a relationship, you began to gain insight instead of blaming and pointing fingers. Practice and demonstrate empathy - very important in the family relationship. Empathy - what is it? Well, it's the ability to validate the other person's feelings. You know when someone tells you about a problem, they may not be asking for your opinion, but what they need is validation that you accept who they are and that you're willing to work with them and to understand their feelings. Very important as well.

Then you also may want to maintain a sense of humor. Humor is important, but do so in a respective way. And when you use humor to solve a conflict, you know you can make yourself the object of the joke. So now that you have, you know, put together all the steps that you want to use to resolve the conflict, it is time to sit down and try to put together some attainable or reachable goals. Now, these goals are very important and it should be done in collaboration with all the family members.

Some goals may include breaking old habits and starting new ones that are healthy, changing your thought processes to focus on positive things, among others. And let me read for you, briefly here, a narrative by someone who decided to remain anonymous. He said, 'when you change your thinking, you change your beliefs. When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations. When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.

When you change your attitude, you change your behavior. When you change your behavior, you change your performance. And when you change your performance, you change your life.' So after you've gotten all your goals together and you said, 'okay, now we're going to work on resolving conflict.' A very important aspect is to have family devotion. There must be an unwavering commitment to maintain family devotion. Very important.

You know, I enjoy family devotion because I think it's a very, very strong way of meeting God and talking with him and asking him to help us resolve our issues. We must seek the Holy Spirit to intervene and help us to accomplish our goals, because if we don't, the adversary will come right back in and we're back to square one and nothing gets accomplished. In closing, you know, when I began this vignette, I compared the family to a piano and its many keys and its sounds. I also mentioned that if any keys are out of tune, the sound is unpleasant to the ears of the listener. Well, as Christians we have a master tuner, don't we? One who has never failed in his work as a tuner of our lives.

Jesus said, 'if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.' God bless you. Have a wonderful Sabbath. Amen. Thank you so much seymour. We can certainly see how these points are applicable not only to families, but church family life and I think we will - when we post the Sabbath school notes we will post those bullet points for you also.

Thank you so much for that - very practical - that's what this lesson is all about, practical advice and how to have this more reflective and wonderful family life together. We must go on to Monday. Somebody has verses 14 and 15 to read. "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.

Amen. Thank you so much. We're reflecting on how leaders should treat those under their care. Not always is there a need for tough love. We shouldn't always be preaching as though we're preaching to members who are just seriously, seriously flawed.

I mean, you are good people. We're here to admonish, yes - encourage one another - not to preach down to anybody. We must preach the truth, of course, but not always in a negative way. And we should remind ourselves of that because as leaders we're in the same boat. We're all in the same boat together.

I think this is a key point - a key principle that you see played out in so many different aspects of life. As you know, I often refer to baseball, but in baseball, when a team wins the world series, finally they win that last game, very often you will hear comments like, 'well, we won because we have such a good chemistry. Our team has such a good chemistry. We work together, we play together very well.' What do they mean by that? A good chemistry? Well, they work together for the common goal. It means they respect each other's abilities and their efforts.

They were cohesive in their efforts. They were on the same page. When one person made an error or struck out or made a bad play, nobody jumped on them, they all continued just to play with their best efforts. They rallied together to keep doing better and isn't that the way the church should be? We're all on the same team, aren't we? We're supposed to be. Sometimes it happens that it doesn't appear that we're all on the same team - this 'nyah, nyah, nyah' kind of thing, but we are.

We're on the same team. Let's work together. Leaders and their members - such as a pastor of a church and the members are on the same team. Commonality of goals and motives, that's what we share in common. And again you can see this type of thing played out in the military.

In 1965 I was drafted into the United States army. I wasn't a Christian at that time and so the whole world was different then than I see it now as a Christian, but I spent months in germany in the infantry, which was just a little step better than basic training - 18 months of almost basic training which none of us really enjoyed, but we lived in a barracks - 8, 10, 12 people to a room - three stories high - so it's not the most exciting type of living conditions, but there was a camaraderie and a unity there that I hadn't even thought about while I was in it. I thought about it many times since. Even though there was such a diversity - I mean a diversity of people from all parts of the United States in one room even, we really all got along quite well. In fact, one man in our particular room - we all found out - was a homosexual.

He knew where we were coming from and we knew where he was coming from so none of us ever had a problem with him on that issue, but he was an intelligent man - he actually had the highest iq of anybody in the battalion. So he was an interesting guy to visit with - very smart, very sharp - but one night he got into trouble with a fellow from another unit - he came back to our barracks and we woke up in the morning to the fact of him having tried to commit suicide. He had blood all over the room - he had tried to slit his - he slit his wrists - and he was still alive so they hauled him off real quick - and we all hoped that he'd be well. Even though he had his problems we hoped that he'd be well. And after a considerable amount of time he actually came back, finished his tour, and got an honorable discharge.

And we were all hoping he would and we were all happy he did. There was no animosity about his life choices and I think back on that - and now that I'm a Christian I wished I would have been a Christian then - maybe I could have witnessed to him some way, somehow along the Christian line, but that wasn't the case. I also think that sometimes that kind of person may not be treated too well in a church setting today - as well as we soldiers treated him. As leaders we need to look at people and see what they can become with Christ, not see what they are right now without him. All people can become different, right? All people can become new creatures in Christ - all people.

Yes, I know we must take a stand for the truth and we need to hate sin while still loving the sinner, and there does come a time when we do our very best mentoring and witnessing to a person and it doesn't have any effect on them and we kind of have to shake the dust off our shoes and go on and witness to somebody else, but we must always be open to the Spirit's leading on how we can mend people's lives and bring them to Jesus. Well on we move to Tuesday - somebody has verses through 18. Right over here. Verses 16 through 18. These are nice, short, crisp little texts in the Bible - advice from the apostle Paul to the people in thessalonica and we're ready for verse 16.

Go ahead. "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Okay, thank you very much. The first word there is rejoicing - it says to 'rejoice evermore' - in another place it says, 'rejoice in the Lord always and again I say 'rejoice''. I'm sure I've related this experience I've had to you before, but I'm going to share it again. One night I was praying for one of my grown children who was having some serious problems in his life and I was out probably - I was out walking around praying to God, probably more whining than anything, but I was praying to God and all of a sudden it was just like somebody was speaking to my mind - it wasn't an audible voice but it says, as clear as crystal, 'what does the Bible say about rejoicing?' And I said - immediately in my mind I thought, 'the Bible says, 'rejoice in the Lord always and again I say 'rejoice.

''' And immediately the thought came right behind that, 'do you think that only means when things are going well?' And I said, 'oh Lord, thank you for that message.' No. And I started rejoicing - I starting singing that little song to myself, 'rejoice in the Lord always' - well I won't do that for you - 'and again I say 'rejoice''. And I experienced a real change in a matter of moments, just by rejoicing. It didn't change a thing with my child immediately, but it sure changed things for me. Rejoicing - oh, very important, wouldn't you say? Rejoicing is a matter of faith.

You don't feel like rejoicing because the circumstances are this way. I don't feel like rejoicing but I'm going to because it's the right thing to do and it will pick your spirits up. If we waited for circumstances to be just what we thought they should be so that now we could rejoice, you'd probably be waiting a long time. Now Jesus was our example. When he went to the cross there were times he didn't feel like rejoicing, for sure.

He even cried out, 'father, father, why have you forsaken me?' But then, the thief - one of the thieves turned to him for salvation - acknowledging him to be the Savior and Jesus rejoiced to be able to tell that man 'you will be with me in paradise.' And that's the secret to rejoicing, isn't it? The secret to rejoicing is not your circumstances, but you have eternal life through Jesus Christ. That's always a reason to rejoice and Jesus, in the midst of that tremendous agony, rejoiced to be able to tell that young man he would be saved. That's the secret to rejoicing, but beyond that I do think we can rejoice in regards to our present discouraging experiences simply because we can begin to claim many promises. He will be a very present help in time of trouble, not from trouble, but he'll be there for us. I've often thought about what it must be like for God.

What would it be like to be God listening to our prayers? I don't know about you but sometimes when I listen to my prayers - like I said - I think sometimes they sound like more of a whining than a prayer. Do you think God gets tired of that? 'Why don't you just talk to me? Talk to me how you feel, yes, please do, but don't whine about it. Just talk to me.' And so, I think that's important. Then we must have the - then we must consider the concept of praying always. I know we've talked about this concept many times in Sabbath school classes - we all understand the importance of doing so, but I wonder how many of us actually stay in a spirit of prayer always.

That's a challenge, of course, but it is such a neat thing. And I know you've experienced it. It is a really neat thing that when all of a sudden something negative happens in your life and you have this discouraging situation, it's a neat thing when your first thought is, 'I've got to go to God.' Because you know how it is quite often, sometimes our first thought is 'what am I going to do about this? How am I going to do this? How am I going to fix this? Who's going to help me fix this?' Not 'how can you help me fix this God?' Sometimes it takes us a long time to get to that point. 'Oh yeah, I should have turned to God in the first place.' But it's a neat thing to be in that spirit of prayer and the very first thing you think of is 'God, I need your help.' Because I'm always in that attitude of prayer. Prayer without ceasing helps us to be in that zone where God is our first thought, our last thought, and our every thought.

Then, of course, the admonition about being thankful, again, is one of faith in today's lesson. If we begin praying and claiming promises in faith, our prayers will even take on the form of being thankful, right? We thank God for hearing our prayers and answering them in the very best way he knows. I think we need to dig deeper sometimes with our prayers of thankfulness. I venture to say many of us have kind of a set routine when it comes to thanking God. 'Thank you, Lord, for all of our blessings.

' Well that covers everything. You don't even have to say anything else, but it doesn't - there's no meaning to that hardly. Yes, 'thank you God for all your blessings' - but then I think he wants us to be more specific. I think God is happy to hear us specifically - what we are thankful for. And I think it's helpful to go through this process and even start writing down things that you're thankful for and listening to yourself what you're thankful for.

Sometimes you might take on the understanding and say, 'wow, did I just say that?' I kind of sound like the scribes and pharisees who were saying, 'oh, I thank you Lord I'm not like these people. I'm not like this publican.' And if you begin to hear yourself praying prayers like that, you need to take yourself to stock and say, 'wow, I'm glad I thought about that. I'm glad I wrote that down. I don't want to be like those scribes and pharisees.' Or sometimes you may hear yourself saying, 'man, that sounded very selfish that I'm thankful for such and such.' I think we might be surprised if we do that kind of a thing, where it would lead us. Now somebody else has verses through 22? Okay, we're moving on to Wednesdays lesson - and I was really pleased by some of the comments in Wednesday's lesson on this very serious issue, by the way.

Okay, verses 19 through 22. "Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil." Okay, thank you very much. I was pleased with the comments there in the lesson - perhaps the most pertinent is the little paragraph in the middle where it has this to say, "there are various ways to undermine the gift of prophecy. One of these is to quench the Spirit. We do this when we ignore or resist the work of a true prophet. Look at all the opposition - even from within our own ranks - to the prophetic gift we have been given in the life and ministry of Ellen white.

" I was happy to find that in our Sabbath school quarterly. Is there such opposition? There is, unfortunately, and it's becoming even a bigger opposition all the time. Some people say things like this - it wouldn't be such a bad situation if they really meant what they said, but most people who criticize the gift of the spirit of prophecy, they say things like, 'well, all we need is the Bible.' That's true. All we really need is the Bible - it gives us all the truth and she said that too. But if they only meant it in the way it should be meant.

Many times they mean 'we don't want to get zeroed in so definitively on some of the things she helps to bring out as to what the Bible actually means. We don't need to get that definitive. Let's just talk about grace and things like that and we'll be all right.' But the gift of prophecy is a gift that's been given to help the church understand the word more accurately. The gift is not something to be unexpected, it was prophesied that the remnant church - the remnant message - would have this wonderful special gift. And so every time I hear people complaining about it I say 'you're complaining about what the Bible teaches because the Bible said we would have this gift and it is something to be embraced.

' One of the greatest testimonies to this fact is how the devil has brought about counterfeits. You know every truth has a counterfeit, right? And he brought about counterfeits at the very exact time period that this gift was being manifested. And I hear people saying, 'well, you know, Joseph smith, he wrote a lot of things and they're just so contrary to the Word of God and Ellen g. White is so much like that.' No, no, no. That's not even close to being true.

Yes, a lot of things he said do not agree with the Bible, but you tell me where you find things that are different from what she says - from what the Bible says. I just have never seen it in 30 - 40-something years of reading. It's a compliment to what the Bible says and it's a gift. It is a gift we - and then there was a female version - mary baker eddy came about at the same time - the counterfeits - which gives rise to the fact there is the authentic. There is the authentic truth of God's Word saying this would be a manifestation in the very last days.

And even during that time period when God was raising up this church - would focus their attention on the three angels message - worship God our creator - he would raise up men like darwin and have a counterfeit against worshiping a creator - worship, you know, this idea of evolution. So at all times the truth has its counterfeits. And I can tell you, from being in the ministry now for 36 years, that there's - you can almost always - there's a really big difference that shows up sooner or later - between those who embrace this gift and those who despise it. It just becomes so evident - the difference that takes place in people's lives once they begin to despise this gift. Praise God, help us never to despise a good gift.

Those who despise it quite often don't realize it - they believe they're on good ground but it's sad to see how, firsthand, that isn't true. If you happen to be struggling with this any - at all - if you're struggling with whether this gift is really a gift, I encourage you to get the book 'Desire of Ages' and pick up - read starting from the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane and read there until he ascends to heaven and if you can come forth from those chapters saying that anything but 'praise God', then I will just pray for you, that's all. We must test everything to see whether the message is building up the church or only critical to it. The last point on Wednesday it makes there about a way to undermine the gift of prophecy is to give prophetic authority to a person or writings that have not received the gift from God. And how I've seen that happen with awful results too.

Some individual thinks or other people think, 'wow, this person has this kind of special gift' and pretty soon there's a little following and pretty soon this little group is leaving the church and they've become very critical and it's all downhill from there. We must test everything to make sure that it is of the truth. Constructive criticism is great as long as it is constructive, right? Let it be constructive. Okay, we have one more set of verses to read, verses 23 to 28 - who has that? Right back here. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 - 28, "and the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body will be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Amen." Thank you very much. We've just been introduced to one of the deepest subjects ever to be studied by a Christian. How perfect must we be? How do we achieve this perfection. I will not even begin to go into the depths of this subject but, when Paul says he desires the God of peace to sanctify them wholly, what can we know about this? One thing we can know about sanctification - that it is a must. Listen to this: 'steps to Christ' page 62.

"The condition of eternal life is now just what it has always been, just what it was in paradise before the fall of our first parents: perfect obedience to the law of God. Perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled." Whoa. So perfect righteousness is the requirement to be saved in God's everlasting kingdom. Well, secondly we know that just like justification, sanctification is a gift.

That God is the one who is the one who is going to give us this gift. He is the one who does the sanctifying. He is the one that does the justifying. He is the one that does the sanctifying. Where we get hung up on this is how do we get to that point and just what point is it that entitles us to eternal life? Now for the sake of simplicity, let's just consider this concept.

If you are surrendered to Christ right now and you have confessed every known sin that you can think of, and you, by faith, accept salvation as a gift that he gives to you - you accept that by faith - well, let me ask you, what is your standing before God? Is there any sin on your record? No. Is there a perfect robe of righteousness covering you? Yes. When God looks at you does he see your life or does he see the life of Christ - the perfect life? He sees the perfect life. So, are you standing in a state of perfection? Yes. But you say, 'well, when I leave today, maybe even on my way out, something happens and I get upset with somebody and I blow it and I get angry and I sin.

' Well, certainly you have a situation that needs to be dealt with. Where do you stand with God? How do you deal with it? First of all, confess your sin to God and make things right as far as you can with your fellow man and then, again, you will be in right standing with God. But what was your status while you sinned before you got to that point of confession? Are you imperfect? Yes you are imperfect because you just sinned. Well, are you unsavable at that moment? That's where we really get worried and concerned. That's the million-dollar question, right? I blew it - is that it for me? Am I in an unsaved condition again? My answer to that will be, no, we're not unsavable if indeed we come to our senses and at the very first opportunity we do confess our sins and so on.

Does God know the end from the beginning? Does he know who will repent? Sure he does. And there's a little statement again, from 'steps to Christ' that I think is very valuable when we consider these issues. Page 55 - it says "the character is revealed not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts." So yeah, I don't think we're unsavable when we fall short if it's our habitual act to come back and confess those sins and repent of those sins. But yes, the bottom line - sanctification is a must in order to be saved. The tricky part is that we all know that sanctification is the work of a lifetime whereas justification is that transaction of a moment.

So where do we stand in the process of this sanctification? We stand saved as long as we stay in that process. If we jump out of the process and give it up, then we're out of the loop - we're not going to be saved. But we will be saved if we stay in this process. Does that make any sense? That's right, we should know where we stand with Christ at all times. John 5:13 - one of the most potentially wonderful verses in all the Bible.

John 5:13, "these thing have I written unto you that believe on the name of The Son of God that ye may know that" - what? That you - "have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of The Son of God." We know we are not perfect but we know that he is perfect and if we submit to him we have his perfection - his perfect robe of righteousness covering us so, therefore, we stand perfect in the sight of God because of him, not us. That's good news, folks. That's the Gospel. That's why we're all here, so we can stay in this process of sanctification - being justified daily, being sanctified - on an on in our daily walk with God. Well, I'm here to remind you again of the special offer for the week, 'how to survive in church' by Pastor Doug Batchelor - also assisted with writing this is Karen lifshay and you get that by asking for offer #787.

Going to the telephone and dialing 1-866-study-more or -866-788-3966. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who is behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed.

Visit 'sabathtruth.com'. It's time to impact your life, your world for Jesus Christ. Get the new challenging brain-stimulating resource from dr. Neil nedley in the lost art of thinking or try the brand new prophecy foundations dvd featuring 50 hours of video teaching with Pastor Doug Batchelor, even more audio files, and 48 complete books. Save huge right now on life and world-impacting resources at 'store.

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