The Journal of the Prodigal Son’s Father



Sivan 30,

I am so grieved I can barely write. My younger son asked for his inheritance, and has taken it and left home. I thought he loved me, but he only loved the things I gave him, and apparently wants nothing to do with me personally. My only solace is in my oldest son, who is still by my side and there whenever I need him. At least one of my sons loves me.

Av 29,

It has been two months since my youngest son walked out of my life. Oh how I long to have my son back! My servants have been filling in, doing all the tasks that he used to do, and even my oldest son has pitched in after all of his work but they can’t take the place in my heart that only he can fill. It’s not the work he did that concerns me. I miss our walks together. I miss our conversations at the dinner table. Now I am so sad I can’t even eat. Many nights I find myself skipping dinner and just sitting on the front porch staring out over the hills. Sometimes the children will be playing on the hills, and it reminds me of when my son was young and would play on those hills. He would see me from a distance, when I stepped out onto the porch, and he would know dinner was ready and would come running to the house. Many nights I dream of him running home to me again. While my older son can never fill the void in my heart that my younger son has created, I cherish my time with my older son even more. Now I know how precious those moments are. I am so glad my older son loves me!

Kislev 12,

It’s my older son’s birthday today. Oh what a joy and comfort he is to me! He is always there for me. I treasure every moment we spend together. I had planned to prepare a goat for his birthday celebration but then I thought better of it. I am sure my son is grieved that his brother is still missing, and would not feel like celebrating while his brother is gone. After all, he can have a goat any time he wants. Besides, I would rather eat soup with both my sons than to have a feast without them. I am sure my older son feels the same way. I sure do love him and am so glad he loves me and has not run away too.

Nissan 1,

I am so excited I can hardly write! Tonight I was standing on my porch staring off into the hills, and at first I thought I was dreaming when I saw my son coming home. Next thing I knew I was running out to meet him. I kept hugging and kissing him making sure it was really him and not just a re-occurring dream I have been having over and over ever since he left. It was really him! He is home! All my dreams have come true! He is home! Tomorrow my older son returns from his business trip. I will have both my sons home! I am going to kill the fatted calf and celebrate having both my sons under the same roof again! I am so happy we will all be together again I won’t be able to tell if I am eating streak or eating soup, but what better way to celebrate than having both my sons together under the same roof again!

Nissan 2,

I am heartbroken again! This time it was my oldest son who tore my heart apart. When he got home and saw the celebration he refused to come inside. Then he tells me, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!”

How those words tore my heart apart! All this time I comforted myself with the thought that my older son stayed with me because he loved me as much as I loved him, only to find out he did not love me at all. He was trying to earn something instead. A silly goat! A calf? We could have had either one of those on his last birthday, but I thought the important thing was that we were together. That we loved one another. All these years he served under my house I never cared what we were eating so long as we were together and had each other. Tonight I found out he was not serving me because he loved me like I love him. He was hoping to get some kind of reward out of it instead. I found comfort in my older son when the younger son took his inheritance and left me, showing he only cared about my possessions and not our time together. Well tonight I found out my older son feels the same way towards me. All this time he never cared about our precious moments together. All those years I thought he was serving me because he loved me, when in reality it wasn’t about me at all. It was about some silly calf!

It’s like my oldest son was never even here. His heart was never with me. It was with all my possessions. he was sleeping right under my roof while his heart was as far away from me as his brother was.

Do any of my children truly love me? Can any of them look past the inheritance and my goats and calves, and love their father who loves them more than anything he owns?

Share Button

Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer – Hit the Mark

She seems an unlikely character for this week’s discussion on Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer. Throughout her story, as recorded in the Gospel of John, prayer is not once mentioned. She is not one of the many who came seeking Jesus for miraculous healing from some incurable illness. As a matter of fact, she didn’t initially recognize Jesus as they conversed together. Yet, her brief interaction with Him speaks volumes about our experience with God as it relates to prayer.


Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

While her entire story from beginning to end is full of valuable lessons for many aspects of life, we will listen to just a small part of her discourse with Divinity. Jesus, in his humanity, sits at Jacob’s well in Sychar. Unable to draw the water himself he asked this woman of Samaria for a drink. In her shock that a Jew would dialogue with a Samaritan, she sought an answer from Him about this break from tradition. It is here where the lesson of prayer begins.

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

If you only knew who you were talking to…

What would life for us be if we really appreciated who we were conversing with in prayer? Sure, we all readily agree that prayer is talking to God one on one. But the evidence shows that we often pray in a spirit of lowered expectations.

This is not a problem exclusive to our generation. In the days when Jesus walked this earth as man, He addressed this issue in a way to show the higher priorities of life.

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:27-31

Today, we are reminded that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20. We hear Jesus saying to us as He did to the woman of Samaria, “I that speak unto thee am he.”

Our operating in a spirit of low expectations must be replaced with a deeper belief that comprehends the priceless offer of heavenly resources.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

We must no longer limit our prayers to primarily seeking relief from financial necessities or other common life trials. Realizing more fully Who it is we are speaking to, let’s ask Him to do what no other can do – make an entire change in our hearts and lives. Whether rich or poor let us be content, but let us ask Him to free us from the sins that do so easily overwhelm. Our expectations must be higher.

Whether we’re free or bound, give us excellence in our service to the Kingdom of God. Help us to rise above selfish goals of success that feed our egos and allow us to be those at the end of time who hear the pronouncement from the King,

“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:34-26, 40.

Our expectations must be higher.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does prayer mean to you? (Don’t use the answer “speaking to God”)
  • What, if any, is the difference in the life of someone who spends time in prayer compared to someone who rarely does?
  • Is it possible to be a faithful Christian without spending much time in prayer? Why yes or no? (Personal reflection question) Are you a faithful Christian?
  • What does it mean in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to “pray without ceasing” and why should we do that?
  • If you agree that there is such a thing as selfish prayers, how would you describe an unselfish prayer?
  • Is it true that the “better” we are as Christians the more likely our prayers will be answered? Why yes or no?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: I should do all in my power to answer my own prayers. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the words of Jesus which speak of the foundation and life transformative power of prayer:

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” John 15:5-8 The Message

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

Share Button

Male and Female – In His Image

On that first morning, sweeter than a tree-ripened peach, more beautiful than a flowering valley, God felt a void. There amidst the verdure, the teeming animal life, the crystal, rushing water, something was missing. That something was us.

Image © Justinen Creative from GoodSalt.com

“And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” Genesis 1:27.

God wanted more than beauty and perfection, more than artistic satisfaction. He longed for face time with beings He could understand—beings who could understand Him.

He craved us before He made us.

Allow this single fact to sink down into your soul: You were meant to be. Let this truth refute any doubts of your value. Step back from the pressures of family, society and church—pressures that sometimes reduce our value to our appearance, our performance, or our achievements—and let God whisper to you the message of Eden. “I made you in my image. I needed someone like me. You are the outflowing of a beautiful plan, put in place from the beginning of time. I have great dreams for you, but even before you fulfill them, I value you just for being a human, made in my image.”

With that awareness in place, let’s walk through the crowning act of the Genesis story and witness God’s artistry.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” Genesis 2:7.

God bent down to the loose dirt and sculpted a man—that word “formed” is yatsar and refers to squeezing something into shape like a potter. Noble head, broad chest, powerful arms, washboard abs, firm, strong legs and feet, all squared off and angled in that man-way. Then performing something like our CPR, God breathed into the man and his inanimate form hummed into life.

It’s okay to admit he was gorgeous. A hunk.

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads,” Genesis 2:8-10.

The Bible says God made a garden for Adam, placing him in the midst. The ground pumped out fruit-laden trees, watered by a coursing river branching out into four heads, forming new rivers which swirled by lands enriched with clusters of gold and precious stones. “Dress and keep this garden,” God instructed His new man-child, who must have thrilled with pleasure at the prospect. All was beauty and delight. The cosmic King and his regent prince of earth, walked, talked, and laughed together those first hours in Eden.

And still, something was missing. That something was again, us. But this time I mean us women.

Pause again, please. Of men and women, women are overall more likely to doubt their value. Why? Perhaps it’s the delicacy of our emotions. Then again, perhaps it’s that men tend to acquire more compliments. Regardless, we must realize that God could have stopped the creation process with Adam. After all, Adam was amazing! But He wasn’t amazing enough. To fulfill His plan, to reveal His love, God needed more. He needed the second half of the human race, woman.

“It is not good that man should be alone,” God said, “I will make him a helper comparable to him,” Genesis 2:18.

Designed with unalterable bonding features, we suffer in isolation. And we thrive when in relationship. In particular, married men have better health, fewer addictions, and longer lives. God knew Eve would raise the quality of Adam’s life by leaps and bounds.

What does “helper” mean? The Hebrew word, ezer, evokes images of someone surrounding and protecting another. Ezer lies about as far linguistically from “doormat” as one can get. An ezer is really a kind of hero. God planned to make Adam a heroine-counterpart.

They’d be quite the power couple.

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman,” Genesis 2:21 and 22.

He took a rib; He made a woman. The rib provided the raw materials, and God’s own hand powered and guided the process of “making” the woman. The verb itself, banah, contrasts with Adam’s yatsar. Did you get that? The Bible uses a different verb to describe the creation of Adam and of Eve! Banah alludes to building, as in a house. The word “architecture” applies. God sculpted Adam, but architected Eve. Different formation processes mean different outcomes. God made us differently and we turned out differently. How about that?

The reason for this difference emerges when we sink our hearts into the fact that we were made, male and female, in God’s image, or tselem. Tselem means “represent.” Here’s a paraphrase of Genesis 1:27: “God created people to represent Him; to represent Him God created people; male and female were made.”

Let’s break this down into a simple equation: Male + female = A representation of God. Our differences blend to form a picture of God.

If two things together create a representation, subtracting one results in a misrepresentation. Think of the color purple, comprised of blue and red. Say you’d just been healed of blindness, and for the first time in your life you’d see purple. If I showed you blue, would that be sufficient to represent purple? No. How about red? No. Neither red nor blue would give you an adequate idea of the character of purple.

In the same way, neither male nor female alone give an adequate idea of the character of God. The electricity, the synergy, the mystical (and sometimes mystifying!) blending of the genders in marriage and in the church reveals God’s character of love.

Richard Davidson points out that in the original language, the creation of man at the beginning of the passage, and the creation of woman at the end, have the same number of words. Through this, he says, “The narrator underscores their equal importance.”[i]

Woman and man. Equal importance. I like the sound of that, how about you? Do most women want to be more important than men? I don’t. But less important? I don’t want that either.

Sinless and unselfish, Adam and Eve needed no hierarchy. Their relationship was one of utter horizontality. Author Ellen White comments: “She was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him.”[ii] Peter Lombard echoes: “Eve was not taken from the feet of Adam to be his slave, nor from his head to be his ruler, but from his side to be his beloved partner.”[iii]

True, Adam served as head of the human race, even in that unfallen state. Being the firstborn of all creation, he stood as humanity’s representative. Yet his headship didn’t equate to being the “boss” of Eve. Because they had no taint of selfishness, Adam and Eve moved together like a well-choreographed dance. No missteps, no tension. Just fluid, flawless love.

“. . .and He brought her to the man,” Genesis 2:22.

But even as equals, individuality needed protection. The Bible clearly says that God “brought” the woman to Adam. In this simple statement we see a fact implied: Eve connected to God before connecting to Adam. She enjoyed her vertical relationship before attempting a horizontal relationship. This speaks loudly to our need to put God first. Women so often get lost in their relationships, especially their marriages. We so often sacrifice that which should never be sacrificed—our integrity and God-given selfhood—to hang onto a relationship. Yet individuality and intimacy form a tension that must be balanced, lest both be lost. When we lose individuality, we lose intimacy, because a healthy bond requires two mature individuals. The secret of preserving individuality lies in staying connected to God, the Creator of our individuality. God knew this, so He set aside face time with Eve. And He wants that same face time with you, for He claims the first and best of your affections.

Imagine her. Beautiful beyond words, shapely, blushed, and bathed in light, shining hair framing a feminine face, Eve turns her newly created eyes to her Maker and adores Him. Then after untold hours, He whispers, “There’s someone I want you to meet . . .”

So for the first time, the two halves of a whole join together. Breath catching in their throats, hearts fluttering, they inspect each other’s different-but-similar bodies. Eyes, nose, mouth, arms, legs . . . but what’s this? You’re soft here and I’m firm. You’re round where I’m straight. Awe and comfort mingle. They fit each other in more ways than they know.

And God rejoices. His plan bursts to life, like springtime.

[i] Women in Ministry, p. 261

[ii] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46

[iii] See Jewett, Paul. Man as Male and female. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 120.

Share Button

Mentoring Youth on Common Ground



Occasionally, the school where I teach a weekly Bible class will ask me to sub for the entire day. One day when I was assigned to teach for the entire day, a delightful but rambunctious boy, who had typical behavioral issues in the past, came up to me and promised he was not going to cause me any problems at all today. I believe he meant it with all his little heart, but before noon we were already making a trip to the principal’s office. The boy was in tears. His promise earlier that day was so sincere but how soon it was broken! The cause of his tears was not the trip to the office, but of a broken promise he made. He cried tears of shame, thinking because I was a teacher and he was a young boy that I would have no idea how he felt. But I did! I had to let him know I knew exactly how he felt. I know too well what its like to tell God how good I am going to be, only to let Him down by noon. The boy was surprised to learn I have cried the same tears he has. By sharing his common ground I was able to mentor him and share how I have accepted Jesus’ forgiveness and trusted in His promises to be a little less rambunctious.

Several years ago, a teenage girl who had several tragedies in her life, started visiting our church with her parents. She was still trying to figure out who God was and who she was. Other kids started making fun of her blue hair and strange wardrobe, so she declared she was not coming back to this church! She went to the atrium, where she sat on a bench. Soon an elderly traditional and conservative elder came and sat beside her. Now you wouldn’t think an old man in a traditionally stuffy suit would have a chance to reach the heart of a teenage girl with blue hair, now would you? But this old man was from Vietnam and came to the United States as a teenage boy. He too was made fun of because of his cultural differences and even because of his religion. He explained to this young girl that he did not let people making fun of him stop him from coming to church, and told her not to let people making fun of her stop her either. So on that bench you had an elderly Vietnamese man in a stuffy grey suit, sitting next to an American teenage girl with blue hair as they talked about all the things they had in common. It was at the elderly man’s funeral that the mother of this young girl shared with me the difference he made in her life.

In Luke 1:39-45 Mary, a young teenage girl is getting ready to have a baby, as promised by the angel. She visits her much older cousin Elizabeth, whose husband is a priest. So they are probably around retirement age. This was before the days of “youth church” and “grown up church” when families worshiped together on common ground. While there was a vast age difference, being with child was the common bond between the two. Elizabeth’s age and wisdom was a comfort to young Mary, while Mary’s youth and vigor strengthened and comforted aging Elizabeth.

So it is today. The young still need the “old” and the “old” still need the young. We all need each other to stay healthy, balanced and happy.

Share Button

HopeSS: Jesus, the Master Teacher

You can view an in-depth discussion of “Jesus, the Master Teacher” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.

Share Button

Thursday: Love Defined: The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Part 2

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29, NKJV).

An expert in the Jewish law, the lawyer must have known the answer to the question. Leviticus 19:18, where the second great commandment is spelled out, defines neighbors as children of your people. (NKJV). Hence, instead of providing an immediate answer to the lawyer’s question or getting into a theological dispute with him and those observing the episode, Jesus lifts the lawyer and His audience to a higher plane.

Religious Stock Image help hole hand

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

Read Luke 10:30-37. What are the key points to this story, and what do they reveal about how we are to treat others?

Notice that Jesus said that a certain man (vs. 30) fell among thieves. Why did Jesus not identify the man’s race or status? Given the whole purpose of the story, why did it matter?

The priest and the Levite saw the wounded man but passed him by. Whatever their reasons for not helping, for us the questions are: what is true religion, and how should it be expressed? Deut. 10:12-13; Mic. 6:8; James 1:27.

Hatred and animosity marked the relationship between Jews and the Samaritans, and by the time of Jesus the enmity between the two had only worsened (Luke 9:51-54, John 4:9). Hence, by making a Samaritan the hero of the story, Jesus brought home His point, in this case to the Jews, even stronger than it otherwise might have been.

Jesus described the Samaritan’s ministry in great detail: he took pity, he went to him, bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine, carried him to an inn, paid an advance for his stay, and promised to care for any balance on his way back. All these parts of the Samaritan’s ministry together define the limitlessness of true love. The fact, too, that he did all these to a man who was, possibly, a Jew, reveals that true love knows no frontier.

The priest and the Levite asked themselves the question: What would happen to us if we stopped and helped this man? The Samaritan asked: What would happen to this man if I didn’t help him? What is the difference between the two?

Share Button

09: Jesus, the Master Teacher – Thought Starters
Joyce Griffith

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

[Thought questions for Jesus, the Master Teacher May 26, 2015]

1. “And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” Luke 4:32. When did words spoken with authority last get your attention? Why were Jesus’ listeners so astonished? Can you and I also experience surprise as we absorb God’s Word? Where should that sense of surprise lead us? How does ignoring our Lord result in the following? “As they ceased to recognize the Divine, they ceased to regard the human.”

2. Jesus and His ultimate authority. What are some examples of Luke’s description of the authority of Jesus? “Jesus confronted everyone” your lesson points out. How could He ignore formal introductions or limit conversation to those already converted? Have you ever sold Christian books or gone door to door to strike up an interest in Bible studies? Can we borrow Jesus’ authority? How might the authority of Jesus help us make our relationships with others more uplifting?

3. Luke presents Christ’s greatest sermon. Not word for word the same as Matthew’s presentation, but thought for thought, as the Sermon on the Mount is intact in Luke? What is the “Christian Imperative” presented by Luke? How can we, in all honesty, think good thoughts or exercise good behavior toward those who show rude, pushy, or know-it-all traits of character? How much should you and I contemplate these essentials of living like a Christian in a rude and troublesome world? Or should we just let things happen?

4. A new family. If you grew up in a biologically intact family, you were probably very much like your mother and your father and any siblings. How is that different from the “family of God”? Is God’s “family” known for being alike? or being diverse? Can unity exist in a diverse family gathered in Christian love even with inherited differences? What sort of family bonds will we experience through eternity? As Christians, should we be known for breaking down differences or for protecting ourselves from those who are different from us?

5. Inheriting eternal life. Why did the attorney want to inherit rather than earn eternal life? Do you think that maybe he knew deep in his heart that eternal life is not something you can earn? Do we sometimes face the temptation to assume that wanting eternal life is all that matters? What else is needed? Was the attorney eager to demonstrate his faith? Why?

6. My neighbor? Is that tobacco-smoking, beer-drinking, foul-mouthed old man who lives three blocks down the street really my neighbor? How can that be? Well, what about that filthy man lying by the side of the road, obviously injured? Oh, it’s the same man. My neighbor. Here I’ll reach for my cell phone and call 911. Then I can forget about him.

Share Button

Wednesday: Love Defined: The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Part 1

Of the four Gospels, only Luke records the parables of the prodigal son and the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The first one illustrates the vertical dimension of love, the extraordinary love of the Father toward sinners; the second one shows us the horizontal dimension-the kind of love that should characterize human life, refusing to acknowledge any barrier between humans but living instead within Jesus’ definition of a neighbor:

Religious Stock Image Christ Pharisee healed

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

that all human beings are children of God, and deserve to be loved and treated equally.

Read Luke 10:25-28 and reflect on the two central questions raised. How is each question related to the main concerns of Christian faith and life?

1. Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (vs. 25, NKJV).

Note that the lawyer sought for a way to inherit eternal life. To be saved from sin and to enter into God’s kingdom is indeed the noblest of all aspirations one can have, but the lawyer, like so many, had grown up with the false notion that eternal life is something one can earn by good works. Evidently he had no knowledge that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23, NKJV).

2. What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? (vs. 26, NKJV).

During the time of Jesus, it was the custom of prominent Jews, such as this lawyer, to wear a phylactery on the wrist. It was a little leather pouch in which were written some great portions of the Torah, including the one that would answer Jesus’ question. Jesus directed the lawyer to what was written in Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:5) and Leviticus (Lev. 19:18)-the very thing that he might have been carrying in his phylactery. He had on his wrist, but not in his heart, the answer to His question. Jesus directed the lawyer to a great truth: eternal life is not a matter of keeping rules but calls for loving God absolutely and unreservedly and likewise all God’s creation-the neighbor, to be precise. However, either out of ignorance or out of arrogance, the lawyer pursued the dialogue with another query: Who is my neighbor?

What outward evidence reveals that you have truly been saved by grace? That is, what is it about your life that shows you are justified by faith?

Share Button

09: Jesus, The Master Teacher – Lesson Plan

Key Thought : Jesus was given to stand at the head of humanity, that by His example He might teach what it means to minister. His whole life was under a law of service. He served all and ministered to all.

2015Q2L9Sabb[Lesson plan for Jesus, the Master Teacher May 25, 2015]

1. Have a volunteer read Luke 6:20-26.

a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. Why is it wrong for people to speak ill of us? Aren’t we supposed to grow in favor with God and men?
c. Personal Application: How do we do good to those who hate us and bless those who curse us? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Is this saying that if you’re rich, you won’t go to heaven; but if you are poor, you will get to heaven?” How would you respond to your relative?

2. Have a volunteer read Luke 5:27-32.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. Why did people hate tax collectors so much?
c. Personal Application: How practical is loving others as yourself? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your friends states, “What does it mean that Jesus calls the sinner, not the righteous, to repentance? Doesn’t God forgive the good people, the pillars of society, as well as the poor?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

3. Have a volunteer read Luke 10:25-28.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why is it an important idea to answer questions people ask by asking what they think first?
c. Personal Application: When people ask you questions, do you tend to give answers before you find out where they are coming from? Share your thoughts..
d. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “I don’t need anyone to teach me. God speaks to me and tells me what to do and not to do.” How would you respond to your friend?

4. Have a volunteer read Luke 10:30-37.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why would the priest and the Levite walk by the wounded man on the other side of the road?
c. Personal Application: How can you create an atmosphere where everyone is loved and feels wanted? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Note : “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” MH p. 149.

Share Button

Tuesday: A New Family

Great teachers before and since Jesus have taught about unity and love, but usually it is about love within the parameters of a single group; a family defined by the exclusivity of caste, color, language, tribe, or religion. But Jesus broke down the barriers that divide humans and ushered in a new family, one that made no distinction between the usual things that divide people. Under the banner of agape love-unmerited, nonexclusive, universal, and sacrificial-Christ created a new family.

Light for Mankind

Image © Review & Herald Publishing from GoodSalt.com

This family reflects the original, universal, and ideal concept enshrined in the Genesis creation, which attests that every human being is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and, therefore, equal before Him.

Read Luke 8:19-21. Without in any way minimizing the ties and obligations that bind parents and children, brother and sisters, within a family, Jesus looked beyond flesh and blood and placed both of them at the altar of God as members of the whole family in heaven and earth (Eph. 3:15, NKJV). The family of Christian discipleship ought to be no less close and binding than the ties of having common parents. To Jesus the true test of family is not blood relationships but doing the will of God.

What do the following texts teach about the walls that Christ tore down in regard to the distinctions that so often divide humans (and often with bad results too)?

The mission and the ministry of Jesus, His forgiving heart and embracing grace, did not exclude anyone but included all who would accept His call. His everlasting love brought Him in touch with the entire spectrum of society.

What are ways that, as a church, we can better follow this crucial principle?

Share Button

Monday: Christ’s Greatest Sermon

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is often hailed in literature as the essence of Christianity. Luke provides selections of the sermon in Luke 6:20-49 and elsewhere. Because Luke placed the sermon immediately after the official choosing of the disciples (Luke 6:13), some scholars have called it the Ordination Charge to the Twelve.

From Old to New

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

As presented in Luke 6:20-49, the sermon begins with four blessings and four woes and outlines other essential characteristics of the Christian way.

Study the following sections of Luke 6:20-49 and ask yourself how closely your life embraces the principles expressed here.

  1. The Christian blessedness (Luke 6:20-22). How can poverty, hunger, weeping, and being hated lead to blessedness?
  2. The Christian’s reason for rejoicing in the midst of rejection (Luke 6:22-23).
  3. Woes to guard against (Luke 6:24-26). Review each of the four woes. Why should a Christian guard against these?
  4. The Christian imperative (Luke 6:27-31). No command of Jesus is more debated and is considered more difficult to keep than the golden rule of love. The Christian ethic is fundamentally positive not negative. It does not consist of what not to do but what to do. Instead of saying Don’t hate your enemy, it insists, Love your enemy. Instead of the law of reciprocity (tooth for a tooth), the golden rule demands the ethic of pure goodness (turn the other cheek also). Mahatma Gandhi developed out of the golden rule an entire political philosophy of resisting evil through good and eventually used this principle to win independence for India from British colonialism. Likewise, Martin Luther King, Jr. employed the ethic of the golden rule to break the evil of segregation in the United States. Where love reigns, blessedness ascends the throne.
  5. The Christian way (Luke 6:37-42). Note Christ’s insistence on forgiveness, liberal giving, exemplary living, and on tolerance.
  6. The Christian fruit-bearing (Luke 6:43-45).
  7. The Christian builder (Luke 6:48-49).
Share Button

Sunday: The Authority of Jesus

As a physician and scholar, Luke was acquainted with the role of authority. He was familiar with the authority of philosophy in Greek scholarship and education. He knew the authority of the Roman law in civil matters and government function. As Paul’s traveling companion he knew the ecclesiastic authority that the apostle commanded with the churches he founded.

The Coming King

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Thus, Luke understood that authority is at the core of a person’s position, an institution’s role, a state’s function, and a teacher’s relationship to his or her followers. Having rubbed shoulders with all kinds of authority at all levels of power, Luke shared with his readers that there was something matchless about Jesus and His authority. Born in a carpenter’s home, brought up for 30 years in the little Galilean town of Nazareth, known for nothing great by worldly standards, Jesus confronted everyone-Roman rulers, Jewish scholars, rabbis, ordinary people, secular and religious powers-with His teaching and ministry. His fellow townspeople marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth (Luke 4:22, NKJV). He once brought hope to a widow in Nain by raising her dead son to life (Luke 7:11-17). The entire town went into a shiver of fear, and exclaimed: God has visited His people. (vs. 16, NKJV). The authority of Jesus over life and death electrified not just Nain, but Judea and all the surrounding region (vss. 16-17, NKJV).

Read Luke 8:22-25, Luke 4:31-37, Luke 5:24-26Luke 7:49, Luke 12:8. What do these texts reveal about the kind of authority that Jesus wielded?

Luke took time to record, not only for his friend Theophilus but also for generations to come, that Jesus, through His ministry, had established the uniqueness of His authority. As God in the flesh, He indeed had authority as no one else ever did.

Lots of people do things in the name of God, which would then of course give their actions a lot of authority. How can we be sure that when we say, God led me to do this, He really did? Discuss answers in class on Sabbath.

Share Button

Sabbath: Jesus, the Master Teacher

Read for This Week’s Study: Luke 8:22-25Luke 4:31-37Luke 6:20-49Luke 8:19-21Luke 10:25-37, Deut. 6:5.

Memory Text: And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority (Luke 4:32, NKJV).

2015Q2L9SabbWhen Christ came to the earth, humanity seemed to be fast reaching its lowest point. The very foundations of society were undermined. Life had become false and artificial. . . . Disgusted with fable and falsehood, seeking to drown thought, men turned to infidelity and materialism. Leaving eternity out of their reckoning, they lived for the present.

“As they ceased to recognize the Divine, they ceased to regard the human. Truth, honor, integrity, confidence, compassion, were departing from the earth. Relentless greed and absorbing ambition gave birth to universal distrust. The idea of duty, of the obligation of strength to weakness, of human dignity and human rights, was cast aside as a dream or a fable. The common people were regarded as beasts of burden or as the tools and the steppingstones for ambition. Wealth and power, ease and self-indulgence, were sought as the highest good. Physical degeneracy, mental stupor, spiritual death, characterized the age.-Ellen G. White, Education, pp. 74,75.

Against such a background we can better understand why Jesus taught the things that He did.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 30.

Share Button

Inside Story: Food for the Soul

South Korea – Daesung Kim

When I started pastoring the Seoul Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, office buildings surrounded the church and it was very difficult to meet people in the surrounding vicinity. As I was thinking about how to make contact with the people who work nearby, I thought that it could be very practical if we operated a restaurant because most of the people would want to eat lunch.

Hands and Food

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

I was thinking that if we provide very fresh food, friendly food-like a family, the people would like it.

When I first approached the church about starting a vegetarian restaurant, most members were against it because they had already tried to operate a restaurant several times but had failed. I assured them that I wouldn’t use the church budget, and that many times Ellen White had said that if we established this kind of restaurant in the middle of the city, it would be very successful. At last the members agreed.

Legally as a church, we were not permitted to own a restaurant because the church is a non-profit organization, so I decided to organize a health association, and invite those working in the surrounding offices to join so that they could eat very fresh vegetarian food in our restaurant. During the next three months I visited office by office in the surrounding buildings, and invited each person to become a member of our health association. I explained that we would provide the freshest vegetarian food and that by becoming a member of the association that could eat this delicious vegetarian food every day, Monday through Friday. The membership fee was the equivalent of US$100 per month. There was a lot of interest and many people signed up.

In addition to personal office visits, the church members and I distributed between 500 and 600 free meal tickets to the surrounding businesses. Each recipient was entitled to one free meal on a certain day at our newly opened vegetarian restaurant. Thinking that perhaps only 300-400 would come, we were happily surprised when nearly 500 guests arrived.

As they were enjoying their free meal, I announced that if they became members of the health association, they could eat this kind of food every day. Many joined.

To operate this kind of restaurant is not easy. It is important to have a good building. The church pastor should have a good relationship with the community. But while starting this restaurant may be difficult, once started, it will be successful.

We also learned that the taste of the food is very important! If the taste is not so good, the guests will not continue coming. A few years after we started, we lost our cook, and her replacement wasn’t as skilled. As food quality went down, so did the number of guests. Once we replaced her, food quality improved and again membership in the health association rose.

We found that there are many benefits to the church for hosting a vegetarian restaurant. For example, in Korea, most of the other denominations believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is heretical-an unwanted sect, and because of this mindset, most were reluctant to visit the restaurant.

But as our vegetarian restaurant became more and more well-known, other Christian church pastors, monks, and priests decided to come too. After getting to know us, these people now have no prejudice for our church, and instead have only praise. Many of our guests have a high status in the community and they enjoy eating lunch here.

By God’s grace, our vegetarian restaurant at the Seoul Central church has been successfully operating for more than 12 years now. It is one of 117 centers of influence in South Korea.

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
Find more mission stories at www.adventistmission.org

Share Button

Friday: Further Study

Further Study: By the lost sheep Christ represents not only the individual sinner but the one world that has apostatized and has been ruined by sin.-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 190.

On the value of one soul: The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood.

Religious Stock Image wrongdoer remorseful remorse

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. . . . At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.Christ’s Object Lessons, page 196.

Discussion Questions:

  1. While all religions portray the human being in search for God, Christianity presents God as the seeker: Adam, where are you (Gen. 3:9)? Cain, where is your brother (Gen. 4:9)? Elijah, what are you doing here (1 Kings 19:9)? Zacchaeus, come down (Luke 19:5). What has been your own experience with God seeking you out?
  2. Look again at the final question at the end of Tuesday’s lesson. What was the fatal mistake that the older son made? What spiritual defects were revealed in his attitude? Why is it easier to have that same attitude than we might think? See also Matthew 20:1-16.
  3. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said that even if someone were to come back from the dead, there would be those who would not believe. In what ways did this parable foretell the reaction of some to the resurrection of Jesus, in which some still didn’t believe despite the powerful evidence for His resurrection?
  4. One of the most impressive aspects of Jesus’ saving ministry is the equality with which He treated all people, such as the blind beggar and Zacchaeus or Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. The Cross, more than anything else, shows the equality of all people before God. How should this crucial truth impact how we treat others, even those whom-because of politics, culture, ethnicity, whatever-we might have previously held ill feelings toward? Why is that attitude so anti-Jesus?
  5. Compare the story of the prodigal son with the story of the rich man and Lazarus. How do the two balance each other out?
Share Button

HopeSS: The Mission of Jesus

You can view an in-depth discussion of “The Mission of Jesus” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.

Share Button
Share Button