November 28 - December 4
My Father and My God
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Deut. 7:6-8; Ps. 34:8-10; 91:2; 145:18; Mal. 3:16, 17; Rom. 8:38, 39.
MEMORY TEXT: "'You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation'" (Psalm 89:26, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The God of all creation awaits our invitation for Him to be our dearest Friend and closest Companion, so that we may be His special people.
GOD WAS VERY REAL TO DAVID. He knew from personal experience that the Lord guided the meek and taught them His ways (Ps. 25:9). He had learned that God gave strength to His people and blessed them with peace (Ps. 29:11). He had the assurance that the Lord encamped about those who feared Him and that He delivered them (Ps. 34:7). To David that person was a fool who said, "There is no God" (Ps. 53:1).
Because the lovingkindness of God was better than life to David, he praised God with joyful lips. Because the Lord had been his help, David rejoiced in the shadow of the heavenly wings (Ps. 63:3-7). The purpose of the lesson this week is to see how the God of heaven is the personal God of His children on earth. From the time of Adam to the present, there have always been people who knew God as their Saviour from sin, their Deliverer from evil, and their Guide and Companion in daily life. There is nothing more important in life than to become acquainted with God as a personal Friend. As you study this lesson, ask yourself, How personal is God to me?
List at least three ways the Lord relates to those who love Him.
Mal. 3:16, 17.
The first few lessons this quarter revealed the great and magnifi cent qualities of God. Succeeding lessons have introduced His more endearing qualities-His interest in us, His redeeming love, and His thoughts of peace, This week we will see this divine Being through the eyes of Bible writers who were particularly conscious of Him as a personal Friend. We will invite Him into our hearts and homes and share with Him our loftiest joys, as well as our most deeply rooted sorrows. We will have the opportunity to begin a lasting friendship (if we have not formed one already) with the One who created us and understands us perfectly.
Because of how God relates to us, how should we relate to one another? Heb. 10:24, 25.
If any people on earth deserve to associate themselves closely together in meaningful fellowship, it is the saints of God. They did so in Old Testament times and also after the Saviour came to earth. God watches over them in this fellowship and blesses them in it. But the saints are not to fix their eyes on themselves and their own affairs. They are to look at the needs of those around them and encourage everyone to be more loving and more active in good deeds. Saints are not to be concerned only with personal salvation but also with the salvation of others. This means faithful attendance at meet ings where they can encourage one another and give public testimony to their unity and common faith. This becomes more important in Christian life as the Second Advent approaches.
|Because Janene is shy, she seldom speaks to people first. When she attended church, she grew tired of people speaking only to her husband and not her. So she quit attending. What are some other reasons people might not attend these services? What can you do to improve things for them? Think of someone you have not seen in church for quite a while. Write them a friendly note or give them a cheery call to tell them you have missed them.|
Why and for what purpose did God choose Israel? Deut. 7:6-8.
For what purpose ____________________________________________________
What qualities of Abraham showed him to be one of God's people? Gen. 12:1-4, 7, 8; 14:20; 15:6; 18:17-19.
In Isaiah 41:8, God speaks of Abraham as "my friend." How did this friendship come to be? It appears that God made the first move. He came to Abraham (Gen. 12:1) and commanded him to move out of Ur and into a "land that I will show you" (RSV). The story suggests that God and Abraham entered into a gentleman's agreement for the purpose of establishing a great nation that would bring blessing to the whole world. Abraham's side of the friendship occasionally left much to be desired. He sometimes acted out of fear rather than principle. Yet his Friend did not forsake him.
To become a friend of God requires a response to His friendship. That involves accepting His protection, His wisdom, His guidance, and His friendship. "[God] watches over us with more tenderness than does a mother over an afflicted child.... God is a friend in perplexity and affliction, a protector in distress, a preserver in the thousand dangers that are unseen to us."Sons and Daughters of God, p. 16.
The psalmist spoke of meditating on the law of the Lord and on His works. God was his delight. His mind frequently turned to the goodness of his Maker and to the marvelous provisions He has made for the happiness of all His creatures. This kind of thought life leads to trust. Can there be a meaningful friendship without trust? To lift one's thoughts to heaven, to appreciate the tiny blessings of life as well as the dramatic providences, to contemplate the majesty of forests and mountains, to see beauty in a leaf-these are some of the ways we draw near to God. The Bible directs us toward our Creator and enhances our ability to see God at work. Reading the sacred pages in personal devotion brings us close to our Friend. The promise then is ours: "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8, RSV).
|In what ways does God give us assurance that He will help us as His people? Isa. 41:8-10; 43:5-7, 10. What impact does such assurance have on your life today? In what ways does such a life of assurance in God affect our witness to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues who are experiencing heartache and trials?|
Describe the psalmist's personal relationship to God. Ps. 91:2.
"Those who surrender their lives to His guidance and to His service will never be placed in a position for which He has not made provision. Whatever our situation, if we are doers of His word, we have a Guide to direct our way; whatever our perplexity, we have a sure Counselor; whatever our sorrow, bereavement, or loneliness, we have a sympathizing Friend."The Ministry of Healing, pp. 248, 249.
"If we have fellowship with Him, we must ever set the Lord before us, and treat Him as an honored Friend, giving Him the first place in our affections. "Sons and Daughters of God, p. 27.
What words or phrases in the following passages indicate a personal relationship with God?
Job 19:25-27 ______________________________________________________
Luke 1:28 ________________________________________________________
2 Tim. 4:8 ________________________________________________________
What words or phrases in the following texts indicate we can all have a personal relationship with God?
Rev. 3:20-22 ______________________________________________________
John 1:9 __________________________________________________________
Rom. 1:16 ________________________________________________________
Explain the three things that should happen to a person when she or he personally encounters God. Isa. 6:1-13.
All the wonderful things God has done for others He desires and has promised to do for each one of us. What we must do is allow the eyes of our spiritual vision to be opened and to respond to God when He addresses us.
|What is the secret of experiencing the reality of God's presence? Jer. 29:13. What are the things that keep you from enjoying a personal experience with God? What can you do about them, with God's help?|
If Christians view God as a chief accountant, they will not want Him too near. The account book, with its debits and credits, may have too exact a record. It would be better if God were not too close. However, if Christians view God as their Friend and themselves as His special possessions, the thought of God's presence will bring vigor and delight to each hour.
Describe the people who find that God is near to them.
The expression "to call upon" the Lord means to worship Him, to recognize His strength and our dependence. We are always in need of help. To whom shall we turn in our need? We may be tempted to turn to other people or even to one who holds a high station in life. But the psalmist warns against this. (See Ps. 118:8, 9.) There is only One to whom we can turn to supply our deepest needs.
Our challenge is that our worship shall be "in truth"-in sincerity and singleness of heart. We must never divide our loyalty or fail in trust and confidence. Sometimes we are tempted to put our trust in a bank balance, in friends, in our skill, or cleverness. It seems easier to have confidence in what we can see and feel rather than in God who is invisible and apparently intangible. But a faith that is the "evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1) must motivate us in all our dealings with God. Then we can be sure He will never let us down as we let Him have His way in our lives.
Under what circumstance did Jesus say He and the Father would make Their abode with us? John 14:23.
"Our heart the home of God! The door into which Christ turns with the restful feeling that he is in his own place, where love will meet him and surround him, where he is at home. So much do these broken bits of faith and affection which we are half ashamed to offer him mean to our Lord. For it is still true that he comes unto his own, and they receive him not....
"And if remembering our many failures and disloyalties, our hearts misgive us, Zacchaeus also had a sorry record. Yet Christ asked for his hospitality. Our home, says Christ, speaking of himself and God. Our Home!"The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, pp. 710, 711.
|What is the difference between feeling the nearness of God and having faith in His nearness? When have you experienced both?|
What invitation does God extend to us? Ps. 34:8-10.
The goodness of God is revealed in that He provides us with everything we really need. We are to experience God's abundant provision. Nothing is more convincing than experience-being in that situation where only God can be the source of our supplies. We always are afraid of being without our daily needs. But when circumstances take away every visible means of support and we find that God has supplied every need, then we are tasting how good God is. Happy is that person whose trust in God has not been in vain. The imagery of the lion going hungry is very striking. Can the king of beasts with all its strength go hungry? Yes, it can, says the psalmist. But those who trust in God will never find themselves without necessities. Their lot is better than that of the most naturally privileged.
In view of God's goodness, how should we respond? Ps. 107:8, 9; 105:1, 2.
"Appreciate the goodness of God. Count your blessings. Learn not to take natural benefits, endowments, and pleasures for granted; learn to thank God for them all. Do not slight the Bible, or the gospel of Jesus Christ, by an attitude of casualness towards either.... Ask yourself the psalmist's question-'What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? Seek grace to give his answer-'I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.... O LORD, truly I am thy servant.... I will pay my vows unto the LORD now' (Psalm 116:12). "Knowing God, p. 150.
We also will respond to God's goodness by becoming a channel of blessing to the world. One of God's laws of giving and receiving is that those who share with others the blessings they have received soon receive added blessings from the Giver of every good and perfect gift. If the church as a body would bend its energies to bringing God's limitless blessings to the world, its own state would be greatly elevated and its progress toward the kingdom markedly advanced.
"Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Creator. "Steps to Christ, p. 79.
|Think of a time when things were going badly for you. What evidence existed even then of God's goodness? How did He still supply everything you needed?|
FURTHER STUDY: This week we have learned about God's relationship with His people, God's relationship with the individual, God's nearness, and His goodness. To learn about His invincible love for us, read Romans 8:38, 39 and Matthew 23:37. What comparison does Paul make between human love and God's love in Romans 5:6-8? What illustration does Isaiah 49:15 use to indicate that God cannot forget His people? Also read "God's Love for Man," pp. 9-15, in Steps to Christ.
"When through poverty a Hebrew had been forced to part with his patrimony [inheritance], and to sell himself as a bondservant, the duty of redeeming him and his inheritance fell to the one who was nearest of kin. See Lev. 25:25, 47-49; Ruth 2:20. So the work of redeeming us and our inheritance, lost through sin, fell upon Him who is 'near of kin' unto us. It was to redeem us that He became our kinsman. Closer than father, mother, brother, friend, or lover is the Lord our Saviour. 'Fear not,' He says, 'for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.' . . .
"Christ loves the heavenly beings that surround His throne; but what shall account for the great love wherewith He has loved us? We cannot understand it, but we can know it true in our own experience. And if we do hold the relation of kinship to Him, with what tenderness should we regard those who are brethren and sisters of our Lord!"The Desire of Ages, p. 327.
SUMMARY: In light of God's magnificent qualities, we are totally unworthy. Yet this great God invites us to experience personally His presence, love, and goodness. If we will rely upon Him in patience, He will bring us through distressing experiences as more than conquerors.
As told by Deep Thapa
The majestic Himalayas towered brilliantly in the blue sky outside the shop window. But the tailor inside hardly noticed. His skillful fingers guided needle and thread through cloth as he listened to the message coming from his shortwave radio. Through the speaker's words, a seed of hope had been planted that began to grow in his heart, a hope that would change his life. The program was the Voice of Hope, heard over Adventist World Radio.
Some weeks later a friend came to the tailor's shop and noticed a new sign above the door. "What does it mean, 'The Shop of the Jesus Tailor'? What is Jesus?" he asked.
The tailor told him the wonderful news he was learning on the radio, that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived, died, and was resurrected from the dead. And all who believe in Him do not have to worry about the future. "Since Jesus has done all that for me, I put His name on my shop sign."
The tailor's friend wanted to know more, so the two men began to study the Bible together. One day the friend said, "I am almost convinced that this Jesus is God, but I want to see if prayer really works." He thought for a while then posed a test. "Your cow does not give milk." The tailor nodded. "If you ask Jesus to make that cow give milk and if she does give milk, then I will be convinced! The tailor agreed. After all, if Jesus had the power to save him, surely He could make his cow give milk.
After his friend left, the tailor went to the shed, laid his hands on the cow, and began to pray. Then he wondered, Would God think this was a silly request, not worthy of His attention? He dismissed the thought, finished his prayer, and returned to work.
A little later he returned to the cow shed. He stood looking at his cow for a minute, then took a pail, pulled up a stool, and began to milk his cow. Milk flowed in a steady stream.
The tailor jumped up and ran to get his friend. "You must, come!" he said. "Come, see for yourself." The two men returned to the cow shed, and the tailor's friend watched in wonder as his friend milked his cow.
High on the slopes of the Himalayas stands the Shop of the Jesus Tailor. And behind the shop lives the Jesus cow, a testimony to one man's faith the God who listens to prayers.
Pray that the message of salvation will spread throughout Nepal.
Deep Thapa is president of the Himalayan Region of Seventh-day Adventists.
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