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Monday: Lifting Up Faces — 15 Comments

  1. People are very good at sorting things. If you want to see an example of this go to the local fruit shop and watch people choosing bananas. The most perfect and biggest bananas go first. And finally, all you are left with the the spotted ones that look a bit ripe. (actually, if you are into making banana-based icecream they are the best ones to choose - but I digress). I am not saying its wrong to choose the best bananas, but do we carry that sorting process over to our interaction with people?

    When I was teaching maths, I would often teach a concept and then set the students to work on an exercise that would give them practice at using the concept. Then I would walk around the class giving help to those who needed it. It was easy to fall into the trap of spending most of my time helping the nice responsive students and giving the ratbag gum-chewing, cheek-giving students scant attention other than keeping them quiet. The fruit-sorting process had migrated from the shop to the classroom.

    Have you ever heard the expression, "They would make good Adventists!" The fruit-sorting mind at work.

    One of the most unusual stories I ever read was about a prostitute who served people that everyone shunned. The ugly, the released prisoners, the maimed, the social pariahs. The challenging thing about the book was here was a person involved in an activity that many of us regard as immoral; yet she was practising the Christian principle of caring for the needs of others. Not surprisingly the book was not about sex, but rather about giving something valuable to those we tend to shun in our society.

    The thread of treating people with equality goes right through the Bible. Today's lesson links back to Deuteronomy, as expected. However, it overlooks one very important aspect. Jesus went further than talk about it. He lived that equality. He ate with publicans and sinners as well as the rich and influential. He stood up for the rights of women. He spent time with fraudulent tax collectors. He chose a mixed bunch of disciples. And he played with little children.

    "By this shall all men know ..."

    • Hello Maurice:
      May Gods Blessings always give you solace and comfort. I wanted to send over a question-somewhat related to your post, though not in its entirety. Though it concerns equality, my question alludes to that, but more along the lines of pre-destination. I have been studying with Presbyterian Church, however, something is troubling me, and maybe you can help. However, I fall very much in line with SDA Church with most teachings, such as Sabbath Day and also Hell, life after death, etc. Is it possible that God foreknows those who may choose his son Christ, and chooses willingly, as opposed to those whom He has chosen? I do feel God knows everything, is omnipotent and knows all before it happens, he even knows the number of hairs on our head! My questionis this-"What is SDA Church position on pre-destination-and if different can you please explain it? I have grown to love teachings of SDA-but am still somewhat unsure, and wish to finally find a Church home,as I have been studying for many years...Thank you!

      • Hi John. I am glad to see that others struggle with some of the language used to describe certain ideas in the Bible. We are all fellow learners in our spiritual journey. I see that Inge has written an answer as well and I essentially agree with what she says.

        I would like to add a couple of things to think about though. We are all familiar with a six-sided dice. We know that when we through it, it will have an outcome of a number between 1 and 6 inclusive. However, we have no control over the outcome. It is not a particularly good example but it illustrates the difference between foreknowledge and control.

        Secondly, the Bible, particularly the KJV, uses the word "predestinate" a number of times. We need to understand that several of the translators of that period were Calvinists (but honest translators nonetheless). It makes as much sense to read "planned" in place of predestinate.

        For example: I plan/predestinate for all of my students to pass their maths examinations. The problem is that some of my students exercise their free choice and fail the examination anyhow. That wasn't my plan for them - it was their choice.

        • Thank you Maurice,
          Your gift of explanation is always appreciated. I am finding more and more how much I appreciate SDA Church.

      • Hello John,
        We are so happy to have you with us this past year and longer. We appreciate your thoughtful comments. Maurice provided a really good illustration to think about.

        The question of whether God predestinates some people to be lost and some people to be saved has plagued honest people at least since the Reformation. You write

        Is it possible that God foreknows those who may choose his son Christ, and chooses willingly, as opposed to those whom He has chosen?

        I believe that is the way it is, and that is what Seventh-day Adventists generally teach. Bible writers frequently show God as asking people to *choose* to follow Him. If He had already predestinated some to be lost and some to be saved, they would have to chance to *choose.* According to John 3:16, Jesus Himself says that

        For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

        Notice that "whosoever believes" is saved and does not perish. That certainly suggests choice to me. In 2 Thess. 2:10 Paul writes that some perish because they "received no the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (According to John 3:16, it also seems that "to perish" is the default state of humanity on this planet. Choosing to separate from the Life Giver results in "perishing" just like unplugging a lamp from an electrical socket causes its light to go out. We have no more power to live on our own than the light has power to produce light on its own.)

        Paul also seems to say that God wants *all* people to be saved. (See 1 Timothy 2:3-6)

        In the texts that use the word "predestinate" in the KJV, none refer to God "predestinating" people to be lost. They all seem to refer to those who choose to believe to be "predestinated" to be like Jesus and to be adopted into His family. (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:5, 11)

        It seems to me that all instances of "foreknew" fit your understanding of the word. Furthermore, it seems to me that without choice, there can be no genuine love, and God wants to have a love relationship with us. He has demonstrated over and over how much He loves us and has also invited us over and over to choose to love Him. Thus this question is not a mere side issue. It is all-important because it deals with the character of God. Either He loves us and wants us to choose to love Him, so we can be in relationship, or He arbitrarily chooses some to be lost and some to be saved.

        Would we really *want* to spend eternity with an arbitrary God? For that matter, why would Jesus come to this earth to live and die, if people were chosen to live or perish ahead of time?

        I am so glad that we serve a loving God who wants nothing more than to love Him back, so we can spend eternity in an atmosphere of love, joy and peace!

        May our loving Lord continue to lead you into all truth!

        • Inge:
          As your comments are always welcome and appreciated, I wish to say Thank you for your reply. There is a lot to "chew on" there and will be read over in detail. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, and may you have a Blessed Day.


  2. Yesterday I mentioned about our subconscious and the role it plays in propelling us through out daily life. The busier we are, the more we are likely to be personally operating from our subconscious - essentially being in 'autopilot' mode during our task-focussedness. In this state we are caught up in our daily lives and at risk of not really noticing or attending to seeking first God's Kingdom and His righteousness in terms of doing unto the least of these (Matthew 6:33; 25:42-45).

    If I consider Deuteronomy 10:17-19 carefully, it appears Moses was trying to get his listeners to ponder and reflect on how God had treated them, and from that awareness awaken a desire and intention to then treat others in the same way. Ellen White has reflected this essential dynamic when she said "Only by love is love awakened".

    Being on autopilot amid the busyness of our lives is going to get in the way of this pondering and reflecting upon how God treats us. And therefore our busyness is also at risk of getting in the way of that same compassion towards others being awakened within us and, in turn, given to others.

    To counter this risk, it is going to be essential that somewhere within our busy and overcrowded day that we take time to "be still and (more deeply) know God" (Psalm 46:10 principle) - to enter into pondering and reflecting upon His character and ways toward us. As we do this, our compassion towards others will begin to grow and, in turn, be expressed to others. This is more likely to result in us actually then taking the next step and being intentional about being kind and caring to the others we come across in the course of our daily lives - including those we might otherwise fail to really notice in our busyness and task-focussedness...

    • Dear Brother Phil,
      Please continue to share your knowledge and understanding with us. Let no one discourage you.

      I told you that many are not ready, or just do not want to, understand the deeper teachings of the Word of God. This kind of Learning and understanding required a gift that God is willing to give to all of us, the gift of "discernment", which is why I don't worry about the things that I read or hear, because I know that I have the gift of discernment. I have the ability to research, from the Word of God as the Bereans did, and from other sources, to found out if these things are true. If a person doesn't see the need to ask God for discernment, then he/she can't blame others for believing false doctrines. God's word says, 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. KJV"

      Only those that are too lazy, or don't want to know, don't want to study for themselves, can complain; which is why those who are teaching "Humanism" and other "New Age" philosophies have such a large audience in our day and time, because as I said before, people would rather someone tell them what to believe than to study God's word for themselves.

      Also, those "Humanism" and other "New Age" theologies never reference the Word of God, as you always do. I recently commented on a Facebook page, that a new age theologian was giving an quote about prayer and meditation without stating "Who" we are to pray and meditate to. I told that Facebook page that when in doubt, go to Isaiah 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."

      So, continue to write, as The Holy Spirit inspires you to do so.

      God's blessings to you all.

      • Thank you for your words of encouragement Toni. I give any and all praise to God and His Spirit for any benefit that someone might get from what I write.

        May God also bless you in the days ahead...

  3. "God no dey look face" as our Nigerian vernacular/pidgin English goes... It is the best way I can describe today's lesson. Irrespective of who you are, what you are, how you are, God does not care about those.

    We just had our camp meeting in church on Saturday more like a district combined service due to the insecurity Insurgency in the country. While everywhere was filled up, except a row in the front and the ushers were ushering people to those empty seats, there was one empty seat when 2 persons came in at the same time an affluent man and an average man, but the seat was given to the affluent man and the other left to find seat somewhere else. I felt very bad(but could not do anything) and thought what IF the average man was offered seat first and the other left?

    This we are all guilty when it comes to "Lifting of Faces" consciously or sub-consciously. God help us.

  4. Sometimes I probably (fall to) think that I am better than my neighbor! Because I try to do my best regarding the relationship with God, try to follow His Commandments, and search for Him everyday, I may think, perhaps even unconsciously, that I am better somehow! Poor sinner I am! Naive thought! God did die for everyone, regardless of (his or her) character! May I have patience and live humbly before God! He has been faithfull to me, always! And never abandoned me! May all the honor and glory be to Him!

  5. An example of choice: Invite everyone you are acquainted with to Sabbath School and Worship Service. It is up to each one to decide to honor your invitation. Do not try to make up reasons why you should not invite so and so; just do it and let them make up their own minds. This is not a one-time activity. Continue to extend invitations to them and their families and allow God to guide you and them into other church activities.

  6. What is the definition of a stranger in the context of Deuteronomy? It could mean one of the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan. It could mean one of the “mixed multitude” who left Egypt with the Israelites. It might mean a foreigner who has entered the land seeking safety or a livelihood. Sometimes the stranger is mentioned along with the poor; at others, with the widow and orphan. On several occasions we read: “You shall have the same law for the stranger as for the native-born” (Exod 12:49; Lev 24:22; Num 15:16, 29). Not only must the stranger not be wronged; he or she must be included in the positive welfare provisions of Israelite society

  7. God is self-sustaining, nothing can be added or taken away which would change His completeness. This is why God is fully fair and just, He does not need to take from others to add to Himself because He is complete within Himself.
    Man is incomplete by/within himself and wants to add something to his stature to make himself more complete. Christians know what it is that the living soul yearns for – oneness with its Maker -, so that we too can be complete.

    The world seeks favors of each other to establish their status/name. Christians do not seek favors from his fellow man for this purpose, we seek approval from our Maker to tell us that we are His and One with Him! He does not accept anything from us outside of our faith in Him, our love for Him, and our life's dedication to Him; our life is the testimony to our faith, love, and dedication of Him.


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