November 27 - December 3
Christ, the Center of Our Homes
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: John 2:1-11; Eph. 5:21-31; 1 Cor. 7:2-6; Exod. 12:3, 5-7,13, 26-28; Luke 10:38-42; 19:1-10.
MEMORY TEXT: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Psalm 127:1, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: With so many opposing forces at work in our lives, how is it possible to establish a Christian home? How do such homes benefit society and the church?
A CHRISTIAN HOME IS GOD'S WORK. With a divorce rate of nearly 50 per cent in some countries, perhaps the time is long overdue to reevaluate the blessings of a Christian home. In previous lessons this quarter, we have studied the differences between many contrasting entities:
1. The world and the church
2. The old person and the new
3. Selfishness and love
4. Dissension and unity
5. Sin and holiness
6. Darkness and light
7. The devil's work and God's
In this week's lesson, we will study yet another two contrasting entitiesa secular family and a Christian home. In fact, marriage is one of the two institutions that remain from Eden.
According to this week's Memory Text, how can we successfully build a Christian home? Ps. 127:1.
Only the One who created the first home can help us build a blessed Christian home today. To forget this fact would be to "labor in vain." "The first work to be done in a Christian home is to see that the Spirit of Christ abides there, that every member of the household may be able to take his cross and follow where Jesus leads the way."The Adventist Home, p. 20. "Angels delight in a home where God reigns supreme and the children are taught to reverence religion, the Bible, and their Creator."The Adventist Home, p. 28.
What spiritual lessons about the home can we draw from some of the important facts regarding the miracle Jesus performed in Cana? John 2:1-10.
Spiritual Lesson About the Home
When Christ becomes the center of the family, parents and children experience true love, joy, harmony, and a high level of spirituality. With Christ as their center, when problems or temptations come to them, they can claim the promise of protection: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (Isa. 59:19).
|Consider the decisions and activities your family, church family, or friends took part in recently. How was Christ the focus of the decisions taken or the activities participated in?|
Although it might seem unnecessary to talk about love and faithfulness in a Christian home, it is sad to realize that even among God's children, selfishness and infidelity are common sins.
Selfishness appears as indifference, coldness, rudeness, even physical aggression. And infidelity includes more than adultery. It also is an impure, lustful imagination (Matt. 5:27, 28).
What does Paul say about the loving relation between husband and wife? Eph. 5:21-31 (compare 1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Paul describes a superior, pure love, such as the love Christ manifested toward the church to sanctify and redeem it. It is a love of generosity, self-denial, and fidelity; a love that "never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8, NIV), if it is fed with respect, courtesy, and prayer. How much did Christ love the church? Enough to die for it!
"Love should be revealed in action. It should flow out in all home intercourse [communication], showing itself in thoughtful kindness, in gentle, unselfish courtesy. There are homes where His principle is carried out-homes where God is worshiped and truest love reigns."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 144.
How does the apostle express the mutual obligation of love in marriage? 1 Cor. 7:2-6.
These verses point out the need to demonstrate love in a marriage. Following the counsel in these verses would help to prevent adultery. The physical expression of love between husband and wife is a part of God's plan for their happiness and unity (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31). Nevertheless, this intimate relation is not just the union of two bodies, but of two hearts. It is not merely a pleasant physical activity, but a deep joy to be so loved. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled" (Heb. 13:4). How does our focus on and trust in Christ keep us undefiled? Remember, "one steadfast look to the Saviour uplifted upon the cross will do more to purify the mind and heart from every defilement than will all the scientific explanations by the ablest tongue. "Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, p. 108.
|How can loyalty (both sexual and otherwise) between spouses translate into more stable societies and churches?|
"The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences."The Ministry of Healing, p. 349.
It is a shame Hezekiah did not realize the truth in the above quote when representatives of the Babylonian king delivered a letter to him upon hearing that he had been sick (see 2 Kings 20:1-11). As you read verses 12-15, decide what Hezekiah should have done.
Despite the fact that Hezekiah was giving the Babylonians a grand tour of his palace, Isaiah's keen question, "What have they seen in your house?" is a thought-provoking question for us. Which of God's blessings do we most appreciate? Our house with all its treasures, or the godly love, loyalty, and fidelity that reside in our Christian home? When people visit our home, are they more impressed with the things we own, or with our Christian demeanor?
Isaiah warned Hezekiah that a day would come "'when all that is in your house ... shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left"' (2 Kings 20:17, NKJV). The only thing that would serve Hezekiah well would be his faith in God. Yet God was not what the Babylonians saw during their guided tour.
In principle, Isaiah's warning is for us also. There will come a time when all that we own will be worthless. In light of the last days and Christ's second coming, the only thing that will serve us well will be our faith in Him.
How strong can the influence of a Christian home be? Zech. 8:23.
Speaking of the spiritual recovery and the future of His ancient people, the Lord foretold the day when people of other nations would be greatly attracted to them.
In our "personal lives ... [we] are to make the religion of Jesus Christ so attractive that others will be drawn to surrender their lives to the Saviour, God's church is now to be a blessing to the world."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1104.
|Whom are you influencing? What type of influence are you? Think of at least two things you and your family can do to witness to your neighbors and friends this week.|
How did the Israelites preserve their families during the last plague? Exod. 12:3, 5-7, 13, 26-28. What did the lamb symbolize? 1 Cor. 5:7. What application can you make of the first Passover to your family?
What does an incident in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus teach us about communion with Christ? Luke 10:38-42.
Jesus was a friend of all three siblings. His presence blessed their home. But in a special way, Mary appreciated that Friend for His wisdom, forgiveness, and salvation. Consider the words Jesus spoke to Martha about her and Mary. There was no condemnation in His choice of words or voice, but rather a clear emphasis on spiritual values (vs. 41, 42).
What kind of communion do we have with Christ? Although we might be extremely busy, do we dedicate time for Him in our homes?
Imagine Christ visiting your home. If He came to spend a couple of days with you, what would you do? Certainly you would give Him your best room and serve Him your best food. But would you have to change the course of your conversations, turn off your favorite TV programs, or hide your favorite books? Would your family be able to continue with the same types of activity in which you have always been engaged? Or would you have to adopt a lifestyle artificial to your normal routine?
In one sense, these verses are really dealing with life goals. "What has our attention most of the time? Martha is focused on her own goals. She is so busy being gracious and polite and a good hostess that she has no time to be with the Lord. We may say that all we havetime, life, moneyis the Lord's, but does He have our attention? Martha's social proprieties kept her from focusing her attention on Jesus and His agenda for her life.
"You and I can lose sight of who we are and whose we are very easily. The good things in life ... can begin to choke out God's life in us. As we make God and His presence in our lives our primary focus, we find He is the key to everything. "Bruce Larson, The Communicator's Commentary: Luke, Lloyd J. Ogilvie, gen. ed. (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1983), p. 186.
|What has your family been focusing on during the past month? Do your family priorities prevent you from focusing on Christ?|
What did Jesus say about Zacchaeus's home? Luke 19:1-10.
Zacchaeus was a sincere man. He wanted to have an encounter with Jesus because he was not satisfied with himself He was looking for a better life that no material gain or riches in this world could ever provide.
"No sooner did Zacchaeus yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit than he cast aside every practice contrary to integrity. "The Desire of Ages, p. 555.
Like Zacchaeus's home, many families today could find salvation if they only had the desire to change and turn their lives over to Christ. When we seek and find the Lord, old things will pass away, and all things will become new (see 2 Cor. 5:17).
"Today salvation has come to this house," said Jesus. His divine presence performed yet another miracle. "Salvation has not come just to Zacchaeus, but to his entire household. When the head of the household commits his or her life to the Lord, the whole house is blessed. Salvation had come that very moment to Zacchaeus's house."Larson, The Communicator's Commentary: Luke, p. 271.
How is your home? A great number of Christian homes suffer the typical problems associated with secular influences: a lack of spirituality; disregard for the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy; marital infidelity; rudeness, aggression, and disharmony; lack of discipline in rearing children and keeping the house in order.
These and many other problems undermine Christian values in the home. However, God can make profound changes in our homes just as he did in Zacchaeus's.
Difficulties, however, will still haunt your doorstep. But when they find their way inside the four walls of your house, bringing sorrow and discouragement to your family, the divine Helper, the Holy Spirit, will give you strength, hope, wisdom, and support, When Christ is the center of our homes, we can draw love, wisdom, and support from Him to fulfill our needs and resolve our seemingly impossible problems.
|What activities are you involved in that influence your family members (or church family members) for or against Christ? Recall a time when focusing on Christ helped you resolve a difficult problem in your home. In what ways can you depend on Christ from now on to be the constant Helper in any family problem you may face?|
FURTHER STUDY: What does the Bible teach us about the Christian's relationship toward children? Exod. 20:12; Deut. 30:1, 2; 1 Sam. 1:11, 24; Ps. 127:3-5; Prov. 29:15; Matt. 18:4, 5, 10; Mark 9:36, 37; 10:13-15; Eph. 6:1-4.
What responsibilities do parents have toward their children? What responsibilities does the church have toward children both within and without its walls?
Read Seventh-day Adventists Believe .... chapter 22. Also read the first three chapters of The Adventist Home.
SUMMARY: In this sinful world, it is possible to establish a family with Christ as the center. Such homes are a blessing to both society and the church. Plus they are the best school to prepare ourselves for the heavenly home.
Gary Bauer,* a self-supporting missionary in a Middle-Eastern country, grabbed his surfboard and jumped overboard. After the jolt of hitting the water, his fear was replaced by a sense of adventure, and he paddled toward the shore.
As he spread his wet clothes out on the sandy beach to dry, he noticed two boys watching him from one of the houses farther up the beach. Bauer grabbed his surfboard, turned toward the surf, and paddled out beyond the breakers. He found a wave and steadied himself on the board, letting the wave carry him toward shore. He had no time to notice the growing crowd of children gathering on the beach to watch him. They had never seen a surfer before.
As his wave died, Bauer paddled to shore. He waved at the children and greeted them in Arabic. Two of the children turned and ran toward home but soon returned with their parents. A crowd gathered, and Bauer decided to try his Arabic, a few words at a time.
He noticed that the people called him by a name he had never heard before. (Later he learned that it means "man from the sea.")
Bauer continued surfing all morning, and the crowd on the beach shouted and clapped when he successfully rode the big waves in to shore. While he rested, he let some of the boys paddle around on his surfboard. They loved it!
Someone invited Bauer home for a meal, and he gladly accepted. After dark he built a fire on the beach and invited the villagers to gather around and tell stories. He had studied the Koran and knew that it taught that Isa, Jesus, was a prophet, a kind and loving miracle worker. But the Koran did not say that Isa is the Son of God or that He came to die to redeem humanity from sin. Bauer told the villagers the rest of the story, including what Isa had done for him.
Bauer made friends during his short surfing vacation. When the time came to leave, he gave his surfboard to the village children who had admired it. He said farewell to his new friends and caught a ride back to the city with a truck driver.
No one was baptized during Bauer's surfing vacation, but he had introduced the people to his close friend, Isa, and had planted seeds of truth for a later harvest.
Lynn Rose is an accounting clerk at the General Conference. *Gary Bauer is a pseudonym; for security reasons his exact location is not identified.
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