October 3 - 9
Our Lord Most High
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 18:25; Ps. 147:5; Jer. 31:34; Rom. 11:33; Eph. 1:19-21; Col. 1:16, 17; Rev. 5:13.
MEMORY TEXT: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust"' (Psalm 91:1, 2, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: As Creator, Judge, and Benefactor of His created beings, God is sovereign over all the universe.
THERE ARE MANY PHILOSOPHIES OF HISTORY. For some, history is a random occurrence of events, without meaning or purpose. For others, history can be explained in terms of economics and personal ambition. Still others think of history as cyclical, ever repeating itself like a wave. The Christian understands by revelation that above and through all history there is a God who began the process, sustains it, and ever works to accomplish His plans and purposes. We are not alone to fend for ourselves or determine our destiny.
"To understand these things, . . . to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation of His power who 'removeth kings, and setteth up kings' (Daniel 2:21),-this is to understand the philosophy of history.
"In the word of God only is this clearly set forth. Here it is shown that the strength of nations ... is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God's purpose. "Education, p. 175.
What portion of God's creation acknowledges God as ruler of all? Rev. 5:13.
The Bible makes it clear that God is the one Supreme Ruler of this world and all the universe. It is He who rules in the heavens. And it is He who is sovereign over the earth.
What position does David say is God's? What possessions? 1 Chron. 29:10, 11.
These words are part of a prayer David offered when he presented to his son Solomon the plans for a temple in Jerusalem. David had indicated what he had prepared for the temple and what he had given. He called upon the people also to be generous with their offerings. This they were. Everyone was happy with the results (verse 9). This prayer is one of the most beautiful in the Old Testament. It represents how devout people feel when they stand in the presence of God. Words are hardly adequate to express all the supreme qualities God possesses.
In contrast to God's position, David wrote that His people "are like a shadow" (verse 15, NIV).
We have nothing in ourselves. But in God we have everything! As we submit ourselves to Him, He gives us a loyal heart to keep His commandments and statutes (verse 19). Our Supreme Ruler becomes our Supreme Benefactor if we are faithful to Him.
"The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes" (Dan. 4:17, NIV). So Daniel implies that even though much of the world is in rebellion against God, the time is coming when the forces of evil will be overthrown and God will take complete control. (See Rev. 11:15.) This time is portrayed in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-34).
"The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by [man's] power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will. "Education, p. 173.
|Though God is the Supreme Ruler of the world, why does He permit so much misery and injustice? How do you deal with misery and injustice? Be prepared to share your answer with your class.|
According to Paul, how complete is God's creation? Col. 1:16,17.
Paul excludes nothing from God's creation. It includes heaven and earth. It may or may not be visible. It may be any order of supernatural being included under such terms as thrones or principalities. Then he points out that Creation was accomplished through Christ and for Him. That is, Christ is the agent of Creation and its goal. (See John 1:3.) Christ is the one in whom all things are held together. There could hardly be any stronger statement to indicate the comprehensive ness of Creation and its total dependence upon Christ. Here is a doctrine by which we can test all theories of origin, all philosophies of existence.
How does nature testify to its Creator? Ps. 19:1-6. What part of Creation speaks most eloquently to you about God? Why?
Only a Being of infinite wisdom, power, and love could have brought the world into being. In the sunset, the snowflake, the rose, we can see God's sense of beauty. In the mountains that tower above, the abyss that yawns beneath, the seas that circle the globe, and the stars in their paths through space, we can see something of God's infinite power.
We ourselves provide the most telling picture of the Creator. Our wisdom and love can reflect the wisdom and love of God. Our physical form in some small way reflects something of the form of God. Our sense of justice, mercy, and truth is a spark of God's matchless and holy character.
But also in us may be seen the evil image of the enemy who has sought to destroy in us the image of God. The greatest work of the Creator is that of restoring us to His own image. (See 1 John 3:2.) "Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and in character.... His nature was in harmony with the will of God.... He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God, and in perfect obedience to His will. "Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
|Some people express gratefulness to the Creator through mu sic, painting, prayer, poetry, service, etc. How can you express gratefulness to God? Determine to express your gratefulness to God in some way every day.|
In what respects may God be declared to be infinite? Ps. 147:5; Rom. 11:33,34.
Since we are finite, we cannot grasp the meaning of infinity. But we can begin to feel its magnitude when we think of all the knowledge in the world, both past and present, and recognize that God has comprehended it all. We bow today before the superior knowledge of authorities in fields of learning. But God is the authority. When we think of how narrow a field is included in the expertise of the expert and how vast the area of possible exploration, we begin to marvel at a God who has the expertise of innumerable experts. There is no area in which He is not an expert. God's knowledge is infinite. And we cannot but bow before Him in utter awe and humility.
How does this infinite God relate to you and me? Jer. 31:3.
"A minister remarked: When Mary and Martha sent to Jesus their message, it was not, "'Lord, he loveth Thee,"' but, "'Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick."' It is not our imperfect love to Him that comforts us, but His perfect love to us. "Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, ed. Paul Lee Tan (Rockville, Md.: Assurance Publishers, 1979), p. 496.
However complex your problem may be, God can unravel it. How ever difficult you may be to understand, God can enter into the deepest recesses of your mind and appreciate every aspect of your thinking and feeling. There is nothing too difficult for Him. We can commit our ways to Him with absolute confidence that He will work everything out for our best interests.
"If you come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as you really are, and in humble, trusting prayer make your wants known to Him whose knowledge is infinite, who sees everything in creation and who governs everything by His will and word, He can and will attend to your cry, and will let light shine into your heart and all around you; for through sincere prayer your soul is brought into connection with the mind of the Infinite. You may have no remarkable evidence at the time that the face of your Redeemer is bending over you in compassion and love, but this is even so."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 323.
|Why is the infinity of God important to you? What difference does this make in your everyday life?|
What evidence of God's power does Paul mention in Ephesians 1:19-21?
Note also that God manifests His power to "us-ward;" that is, in the direction of our interests. If our all-powerful God left us to our own devices, His power would mean nothing to us.
Contrast how people treated Jesus with the way God treated Him. Left to our own devices, we do not know what is for our best interest. Religious leaders rejected Christ (see John 1:11). But God has made Christ the means of our salvation.
Infinitely greater than any power on earth is the power of God. He is the Source of all power in the heavens or in the earth. The power of the mightiest sun or the power in the smallest atom has its origin in Him. The power in the minds and bodies of humans came from Him and is sustained by Him.
We witness further evidence of God's power in His Creation (Rom. 1:19, 20). As we meditate upon the infinite power of God, we stand before Him with awe and reverence. "By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens.... Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?" (Job 26:13, 14).
How can we receive power to accomplish our daily tasks? Isa. 40:29-31. What special power is available to us as Christians? Acts 1:8.
"Worry is blind and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief ...
"Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet."The Ministry of Healing, p. 481.
|If infinite power is available to us, why are we so slow to take possession of it? List at least one area of your life that could benefit from God's power. Then list two things you can do to accept and use His power to improve in that area.|
What did Abraham hint to God about His judgments? Gen. 18:25.
Abraham was concerned about the safety of Lot, his nephew, now living in Sodom. Would God destroy a righteous man and his family along with the wicked? It seemed unthinkable. What evidence was there that this would not happen? The story in Genesis 18 shows Abraham pleading with his heavenly Visitor-who was Christ-that God would not destroy a whole city for the sake of ten righteous ones. The heart of a person calls for justice to be done to all, to the righteous as well as the wicked. As it is right for the wicked to be condemned, so it is also right for the righteous to be freed from condemnation.
While the Bible teaches that God is the Creator and the Supreme Ruler of the universe, it also teaches that He is the Supreme Judge, who will exercise His saving grace in behalf of the salvation of the righteous and give final judgment to the wicked and rebellious.
Who will judge the world and how? Acts 17:29-31. On what basis will people be judged? Matt. 25:31-46.
"Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.
"How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Saviour, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me'!"The Desire of Ages, p. 638.
|What makes Christ supremely qualified to judge? Why are we not to worry about or fear His judgments?|
FURTHER STUDY: What condition does God say will eventually exist in the world? Jer. 31:34. Also read Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 33:8. The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 35-46, "Pentecost," provides a picture of how such a condition can be achieved.
God has made it clear that His efforts for the restoration of this earth from rebellion to loyalty will succeed. The iniquity of this world will ultimately destroy it, and this world of evil will be replaced by a new world of righteousness. Christ's sacrifice for sinners will not be in vain. This world created by God will be restored to its original purpose. Humankind, created in the image of God, will be morally recreated in that image.
"The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love."The Great Controversy, p. 678.
SUMMARY: God is not dependent upon any other being for permission or guidance in order to sustain what He has created or to conquer the terrible reign of sin. However, God chooses to use human agents such as kings, presidents, prime ministers, governors, and other individuals as instruments by which the purposes of His grace may be fulfilled in the earth. The Scriptures teach that both individuals and nations are exalted through their adherence to the principles of God's kingdom. These principles are but a natural outflowing of the nature of God, which is love. That love brings blessing to all who allow it to be a part of their lives, individuals and nations alike.
Baxstar Fanwar received an invitation to conduct evangelistic meetings in Shillong, a large city in northeast India. He yearned to minister in the land of his birth, where he had begun his career in teaching and evangelism. Years ago he had accepted a call to serve as a school principal on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada and later taught at Columbia Union College in Maryland.
Teaching was his career, but evangelism was his passion. Wherever he lived he conducted group Bible studies and successful evangelistic meetings. But the Adventist church in Shillong had never had notable success in evangelism; other Christian churches were too firmly entrenched. Would it be worth the expense to go?
As he prayed about the invitation, he gave God a list of requests: "Lord, if it is Your will that I go to India, I want former Adventists to return and believers to be stirred to evangelistic action. I want to reach the Khasi-speaking people for You. And, Lord, I want my brother back in the church!"
Fanwar had not seen his brother, Ulstar, in 20 years. Ulstar had drifted away from the church, traveled around the world as a merchant marine, and married a woman who belonged to a Sunday keeping denomination. Fanwar had heard that his brother had joined his wife's church. "If You will give me these souls, Lord, and take care of expenses, I will gladly go."
Almost immediately donations began arriving from unexpected sources. It was evident that God wanted Fanwar to go. He shared his goals with the church in Shillong.
"Enlarge your vision," he challenged. "Lift up Jesus Christ and let Him draw men and women to Himself. Expect God to do the impossible. I have asked God for 100 souls!" The church was hopeful but could not forget that up until then they had baptized only a few new believers a year. "God is going to move, and we must be prepared!" he urged. "Rent a tent-a big tent! Act in faith!" But as he prepared to return to India, Fanwar could not shake the feeling that God had His own plans for Shillong.
(continued next week)
K. Dkhar is the communication director of the Northeastern India Union. Baxstar Fanwar is a retired teacher living in Grenada, West Indies.
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