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Sunday: “Return, O Backsliding Children” — 22 Comments

  1. One day I hope that the Lesson Study Committee considers giving us a lesson series on the minor prophets. Their messages were a call to God's people to reform. Apart from the calls to make a break with idolatry they were also accused of neglecting the poor, the widows and the strangers. Perhaps we console ourselves by saying that we have ADRA but maybe that's the point. Are we hiding behind our corporate persona rather than showing compassion ourselves? I believe this is the message of Paul

    Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    Salvation is about individuals not corporate entities.

    [PS. I am in Broome for a couple more days due to a medical episode. Nothing to be concerned about. But it will give me the opportunity to write a few comments over this period.]

    • Praying for your health Maurice, it is so fragile... God bless. I find it's the regular members who remember the poor, widows and strangers. Sadly, I was a board member who saw ugliness in members when the needy asked for help. Did not want another church position after that if it meant I had to go to board meetings...

      • Thank you Paulette. I fainted in church and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance. We are in a very hot climate here (+105F) and I simply had not paid attention to how much water and salt I needed in these circumstances. The Broome congregation rallied around and supported us, There was a nurse in the congregation who knew Carmel from her teaching days. He put me in a recovery position and took control until the ambulance arrived. The scary bit was that it was so unexpected! Now we have about 7000km to drive before we get home so we are praying for no more episodes, and looking after our hydration and electrolyte balance.

    • Maurice, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is amazing how many times that one phrase, “care for the widows and orphans “ is used throughout all scripture, old and new. It is clear that this duty should be the central theme of every one of our individual churches.

  2. Deuteronomy 28:1
    if - God never ever removes the power choice from humanity

    God is sovereign yet he gives humanity the power of choice to turn our back on him.

    Deuteronomy 30
    See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
    Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    The choice is always ours.
    There is no freedom without choice.
    How is the power of choice is being exercised?

  3. Today's lesson explores obedience and disobedience.

    It is important to note that obedience and disobedience are not root causes - they are symptoms. Adam and Eve did not 'fall' because they were disobedient. They 'disobeyed' as a consequence of a deeper change that occurred within them.

    What do you think would be the underpinning causes that naturally result in 'obedience'?

    What do you think would be the underpinning causes that naturally result in 'disobedience'?

    • Hi Phil, you ask "what is the underpinning cause which result in obedience?"

      The underpinning cause is a heart & will surrendered to the LORD.
      See these quote from EGW:

      When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness CoL 312
      Here is the true test. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law. STC 61
      The righteousness of Christ ... is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven. DoA 555,556
      All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. DoA 668

  4. According to the LORD in Jer 3 Israel's real problem was they no longer loved Him, they were worshipping other 'alien deities'. Because they no longer loved Him, they no longer listen to His voice. Right from the beginning in Deut 6:5,6 the Lord said love me with all your heart, soul, strength and all my words will be in your heart. Always love me first then do what I say. Even in the 10 commandments Deut 5:10 love me and keep my commandments. When ever Israel or anyone puts commandments first that eventually leads to rebellion because it doesn't come from a changed heart.

  5. I would assert that the 4 commentary paragraphs in today's lesson are a very accurate description of the cause and effect links between living life a certain way and the inherent consequences of doing so - and that God is trying to save humanity from living this way because of what inherently results. This is why God tries so tirelessly to warn people of the dangers in living that way - because that way of living will destroy them.

    I then had a look into the Hebrew of Jeremiah 3:12 as the majority of translations portray/imply God's anger as the cause of what Israel was experiencing. In order to come to such a translation, you have to supply more inference than what the Hebrew text contains. Applying less inference, it would seem that you come up with a translation that reads more like this:

    Return wayward Israel, says Yahweh. My face will not be fallen/downcast on you. For I am merciful and faithful. I do not bear grudges.

    I believe that God is trying (yet again) to educate Israel that He does not operate the way the pagan gods (that Israel were very familiar with) were portrayed to operate: if you pleased them, good would happen. If you displeased them, bad would happen.

    This portrayal of how pagan gods operate was a projection of how humans operate. Pagan gods had therefore been constructed in man's image. But God's 'ways-of-being are less like ours rather than more (Isa 55:9).

    Consequently, I believe the actual Hebrew is more in keeping with the portrayal of how God actually is - as reflected in the 4 commentary paragraphs - than in the typical translations of, for example, Jer 3:12 (that imply that God is or will be angry with Israel, just not forever).

    If this is true, what implications would it hold for we view God's response to 'disobedience'? And what about how we interpret verses such as Jn 3:16,17 or 2 Pet 3:9?

    • Hi Phil,

      While I agree with most of what you say, when I read "living life a certain way and the inherent consequences of doing so ........to save humanity from living this way because of what inherently results" it creates a negative response in my mind.

      I believe God when he said:
      Exo 34:5-7  And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  6  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,  7  Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

      I believe what he said via Moses in Duet 28 & Lev 26 - God is love but He will also execute judgement. To say that a way is "inherently" good or bad to me seems to rob God of His power and authority, He decides which way is good or bad, if a way is in harmony with His Character it is good, if not it is bad.

      • Hi Shirley

        I can appreciate what you are saying and your concerns.

        Let me know what you think about this:

        Embedded in Satan's insinuations to Eve in Gen 3:4-5 in an inference that God is arbitrary - that He has decreed that Eve should live one way when in fact there is another viable way. If this allegation were true, this would mean that God would be deciding something is either be good or bad when it is not necessarily so. Hence the decision would be arbitrary because it is not tied to reality.

        Conversely, if God declares that something is good because it actually is and can only be good, or that something is bad because it actually is and can only be bad, that would not be an arbitrary choice. God would in essence be pronouncing a statement of fact/reality. Thus, the outcome of whether something is good or bad would be inherent. Does God have to arbitrarily decide something in order to be a powerful and Sovereign God - or is He an even more powerful and Sovereign God because He is not arbitrary, but all-wise and knowing in regard to all that will result in good and educating and empowering His creation to walk in good ways?

        And a further consideration. Yes, God will execute judgement. But not in the ways humans do (Isa 55:9). Have a look at 1 Cor 4:5 which outlines the kind of 'judgement' God will execute. I think you may resonate with what is being said there if you consider it carefully.

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts...

        I do appreciate your efforts to hilight the importance of the heart condition. It could perhaps be said that humanity has a terminal heart condition that is so terminal, it requires a new heart and right Spirit.

        I have come to believe that a person's heart (ie core) motive will be the distinction between those that are in heaven and those that are not. Those who are in heaven will have a renewed heart and right Spirit. Those who are not in heaven will have a hardened heart and an accompanying wrong spirit.

        • Hi Phil,
          I don't agree. God decides what is good and what is bad, they have no inherent value without Him.

          • Thanks Shirley for taking the time to consider and provide feedback.


  6. As in today's lesson, the difference between obedience and disobedience to me is life and death.To obey is to live and all these blessings shall come upon you.

  7. "Backsliding" "To Turn "Back or Away" "Spiritual Stubbornness" "To draw back on matters of spirituality"
    "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways"(Proverbs 14:14)
    To turn back from God. God does not condemn he/she who finds himself in such, instead his love is steadfast and sure to those who lose their way. This is proven by his everlasting love and grace for humankind, even when we are unlovable he continues opening his arms to us.
    (We see this in many stories in the bible to mention one the prodigal son)

    Even in our own lives,God's love continues to outweigh our sinful nature.

    • Some great thoughts Lihle.

      Something I wonder. Does a person ever reach a point where God no longer loves them - where they become unlovable? I hear Christians use this description quite a lot.


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