“Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.” “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:159, 160, NKJV).
[Thought questions for Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival August 21, 2013]
1. The devil studies the Bible. Imagine going to a Bible study and finding out that our wily enemy, the devil, will be there, too. What if this evil being sets out to make members of the group feel good about themselves without even a trace of humility? What does the evil one have to gain by seeing us become excited and full of satisfaction over our own Christian experience even when it is hollow?
2. What’s wrong with experience? Did you notice that the writer of Sunday’s lesson comes down hard on any so-called revival that focuses on experience, saying it “misses the mark completely”? How did you feel when you saw that thought at the top of the lesson? I’m sure the writer wants us to have a rich experience in Jesus, so why the comment? Could it be that there is too much artificial feel-good religion that lures us from a strong commitment to Jesus? Is it easy to lose the way by focusing too much on how we feel?
3. What does obedience have to do with salvation? Will we be chosen to live with Christ forever on the basis of how faithful we have been in obeying His commandments? Does God keep a record of how often we fall short of total obedience, add up the points and use that to determine who will be saved? Can you imagine loving God with all your heart and yet turning away from a life of obedience to Him? Is that possible? Does obedience to God’s law bring joy?
4. Formalism, fanaticism, and faith. One person commented recently on the Web that “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject,” adding, “Stay away from Seventh-day Adventists.” Why do others consider us fanatics? Can we do anything to change that image? Should we even try? Were there fanatics in the early Christian church? Are there fanatics within our church today? What is the absolute cure for fanaticism or cold formalities?
5. Miracles are proof–or are they? Do you ever long for a series of genuine miracles to let the world know we are connected to the greatest Miracle Worker of all time? Have you ever overcome a harmful habit or helped someone do so? Was that a miracle? Why did Jesus heal so many people during his short stay on our planet? Have you ever watched a “faith-healing” program on TV? What did Jesus believe about the soul-winning power of a genuine miracle? Should we pray for miracles?
6. Fruits and gifts; qualities and callings. Why does God seem to bestow on certain members within our church special blessings and gifts? What is the main purpose of these gifts? Why do so many members seem to believe they don’t have any God-given gifts at all? Why is it so much more important to have the fruits of the Spirit than the gifts? Do you and I spend more time thinking about how our lives bear fruit? Or about how God has blessed us with so many gifts? Why?
7. Bringing them in. Is God working on the hearts of the young and the old who don’t know much about our church? How can we have the privilege of working under God to reach these people? Can you persuade someone who is not already your friend to accept all of the teachings Scripture? Is being free from delusions about God’s Word good enough to make us powerful witnesses of God’s love? What are the essential ingredients for a true revival today?