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Sunday: Unlikely Witnesses — 17 Comments

  1. Tell your own story? Well, it's pretty ordinary really. I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist and was baptised at the tender age of 13. I was a fourth-generation Adventist and did not really seriously question my family's belief. So I can never claim to have had an epiphany that changed my mental state. And nobody knocked my off my donkey with a bright light. It could be said that I took the easy route and was too lazy to make the mental effort required to jump out of Adventism.

    My journey was marked by many people who took time to live their Christianity consistently and graciously. The pastor who taught me about photography; the science lecturer who used to have these amazing conversations that started with, "Have you ever thought about this?"; The theology lecturer who encouraged us to ask the hard questions. It wasn't the doctrines that I was taught that encouraged me to stay a Christian. It was the witness of those who interacted with me on my journey.

    It is not indoctrination in the sense of people telling me what to believe and how I should believe it that has influenced me. It has been the consistent witness of lives lived in harmony with Jesus by teachers, colleagues, friends, relatives and acquaintances that have seen my Christian experience grow. They too did not have a dramatic conversion story to tell. They just lived what they believed.

    Did I ever think of leaving my faith or the church? Yes, when I saw hypocritical inconsistency applied by those who should have known better.

    And that is my story in a nutshell. Belief and faith are complicated because they have to survive and develop in a web of human relationships.

    • If you are asking if we have the facility for you to add your own notes and store them with the lesson study, the answer is no. It may be a feature worth considering though and I will get our volunteers to check if it can be added and what the implications are.

  2. The lesson writer uses the term 'transformed' in reference to the demoniac. What can be a better testimony than to show that one has been transformed from being the product of this world to now being the Child of God. In the demoniac's example - the difference is stark, showing clearly the spiritual warfare we are engaged in.

    His bondage to the forces of darkness has been transformed to become the bonds to connect him to God's Love.

    Lately, my comments have been about the 'preparing' taking place before one witnesses, and it is no different today.
    The lesson writer focuses on the 'unlikely witness' today. As I see it, we are all in this same category of 'unlikely witnesses'; if not for the Grace and Mercy of God and His protective providence, this could have been us.

    I believe that the focus of our testimony needs to be the honor, Grace and Mercy of our heavenly Father who has called all of us out of this world's spiritual darkness into His marvelous, heavenly light.
    Spiritually speaking, our salvation is directly linked to/with restoring and manifesting the Honor of the Name of God through faith in action, demonstrated with our life.

    Spiritual darkness is: being unaware that one is in darkness and causing one to think that one's own light is sufficient light to live by.
    And this is my testimony: that my heavenly Father faithfully kept His watch-care over me whiles He guided me through the darkness of this world into His Heavenly Light. The evidence is numerous, but this is not my focus at this moment.

    It is the vitally important, crucial need for all of us to spiritually comprehend the depth and vastness of this spiritual darkness and the lostness we were in before we were 'found'.

    Now, being motivated/inspired through Faith in God sets us apart from the motivational forces which guide this world. This world has also a faith that it believes and lives by: the faith of, by and in 'Self'!
    Why would the unenlightened be persuaded to accept God when seeing our works if our works are just like theirs? Why should they 'change' if they think that they are already 'good enough' sufficient for this world by engaging in their 'good works'?

    Those that engage in good works and do not have their motivational Faith in God, will always seek and find themselves to be the recipient of their good work's returns.. Their act cannot be truely altruistic.
    Altruistic: showing a disinterst and selfless concern for the well-being of others, unselfish.

    Heb.12:2 - 'Jesus is the author(beginner) and finisher of our faith'. It is He why we have faith - the reason for our faith - and it is because of Him that we maintain our faith whiles expressing it with 'good' works.

    Eph.2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained(prepared) that we should walk in them.

    Everything in our new life is the result of the faith of Jesus when He was willing to take up His cross. Whiles we take up our cross on our walk of Faith, we give Honor, Glory and Praise to God who led us out of this present world of darkness into His glorious, heavenly Light.

  3. Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
    Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

    Unlikely Witnesses- What’s your own story?? Hymn # 462 Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!! The refrain says- This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long x2.
    I told my story over and over again. What else can I say?

    I grew up in a third world country. Some people grew up in third world countries and they are rich. Not all people are poor, but I was born into a poor family. Life was not easy growing up. Now, unlike others, every so often I pray and talk to God and ask him to keep reminding me where he bought me from and where I could have been. I asked him to keep me lest my feet slip on slippery grounds.

    We grew up fetching water from pipes a couple of blocks down the road. Earlier we had no electricity in the house, we used lamps to see at night, or candles when there was no oil available to put in our lamps. We moved from place to place. But my mother always believes in God. She sent us to Sunday school. After a while, we were sent to Sabbath school. Things people take for granted were cherished by us.

    I was an adult and did not have a TV of my own. I was in my 30+ when I learned how to use a computer.
    In all my sinfulness and leaving the church for a short time, I never forgot God, he always convinced and convicted me.

    I always used every opportunity to witness for Jesus.
    Now I have seen him worked miracles for me, moving me from country to country. He gave me a talent/s and as the bible says, I went and developed it/them. Now I do not need anything, he gave me all I needed to be happy. I have more than I expected in life by his grace. He is my guide and stay. He is my buckler and shield, my Rock. All I need is the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in me. I tried telling everyone I meet about the God I serve.

  4. Growing up in this community of faith and listening or reading about dramatic conversions I wished I had such a story to tell.
    In conversation with a friend who was converted in his 20's I mentioned this desire and he said he wished he had the benefit of growing up in the knowledge of the LORD.
    The story of the prodigal son was brought to mind. If given the choice which would I prefer to experience:
    the self indulgent life but then hitting rock bottom in the pig pen
    or, growing up and living in my Father's house?

    What is my personal witness to someone as to the benefit I receive from knowing Jesus?
    There are so many, so which I share depends on the person's situation.
    In these troubling times I could share the assurance I have of Jesus' soon coming and promise of a new world free from troubles.
    Or the fact that I know where I come from, my reason for living, my divine purpose in life and my assurance of eternal life.
    Or the understanding why there is so much wickedness in this world.

    I would like to be a Caring Lightbearer for the LORD of heaven and earth.

  5. My own story was just and ordinary one but that ordinary experience changed the rest of my life.
    I was in Manila that time, I was riding a bus on my own and I don't know much of that place since I came from Mindanao. I was praying to God that he will sent me angels to guide and protect me until I can go back in my place. Manila is the capital Of the Philippines and you can see all sorts of unlawful actions that is happening there so you can imagine how scared I am that time not knowing what will happen next. God asnwered my prayers and thankfully one guy happens to be on the same direction as mine and I just followed him, I did not even know his name nor he asked my name, we just walk quickly then parted ways after he pointed out the airport across the street.
    I thought that guy is Jesus, just like the Bible story where there was one lamb who was lost but the Shepherd did not forget that there is one that is missing.
    I will never forget that experience and will always thanking God for not forgetting about me.

  6. I grew up as a Christian. Every Sunday we attended church but there was no real committment. There would be no difference between Sunday or any other day except going to church on Sunday. Then came a simple invitation from a friend to listen an Amazing Facts seminar. The simple invitation turned my world upside down. I am thankful to those who invited me to attend the seminar.

  7. Hello everyone. I read all your comments and it so inspiring and help me with the challenges in life. I started a Bible study using our Sabbath School Lesson,with a friend of mine. We do it every morning at 6 or 7. Sharing my faith and the Word of God gives me a huge blessing in my daily life. It makes me grow spiritually and not stagnate like the Dead Sea. It gives me happiness and joy that God is filling me with the Holy Spirit to use my humble knowledge. Please help me pray for my friends and family members so they will receive the Truth and accept Christ as their redeemer and Savior.

  8. The symbolism in this story is rich. Every detail concerning the demoniac before and after meeting Jesus is worthy of close study. With this situation, the contrast is stark and cannot be denied. It should be no surprise that so many of those who witnessed his story were ready to welcome Jesus when He returned weeks later.

  9. Maurice, I’m sure, you as with all of us, have faced temptation. This struggle is the lot of each human being in the daily spiritual battle “against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Eph 6:12. And of course, there’s the example of Satan’s temptations of Jesus. However, the unique story of Joseph is of one who is raised in the church, yet remains unmoved and faithful to his Godly upbringing. What a testimony, whether we were brought up in the faith or not, the common experience of facing down temptation can and does impart, and to which all can relate.

  10. Mine is a story that spans nearly 50 years. My Story began when I was 8 years old and my parents had a born again conversion experience. We were relatively poor and they had previously been part of the party scene of the late sixties and early seventies. They began seeking a church and searching for truth. There were many miraculous events during that year and my parents began studying with an Adventist Doctor in our area and attending the growing Adventist Church in our community, and everything in my world changed for the better. I loved Jesus because He had changed my world and I committed my life to Him in baptism at 10 years old. However, in my teen years I rebelliously turned away, as did my father. My parents were divorced when I was 18 and my world fell apart again. It was not until my own bad marriage fell apart in my 20's that I returned to the church which I loved and was deep within my heart.
    I always knew there was no other church for me. However, after my separation and before returning to the church I returned to a previous relationship with another non-Adventist man. I had a 2 1/2 year old son from my previous marriage and my son and I began attending my old church. I was broken and in desperate need of God's love through His church. I made many new friends and the Lord was so gentle with me and led me step by step back to my faith and into a deeper experience with Him.
    I did remarry, had 2 more children and we homeschooled all 3 and raised them in the church. My oldest attended Adventist Schools from 8th grade through High School. Now I teach Preschool and Kindergarten in an Adventist School and I am completing my Bachelors in Elementary Education as an older adult. None of the good that has happened in my life would have happened without Jesus. So many of those in my family who rejected the truth have lived tragic lives ravaged by drugs, alcohol, and the deceitfulness of riches. But for the grace of God, there go I.
    This is a truly condensed story of a life that has been filled with twists and turns, and touched by God's grace every step of the way. I do not share it often enough, because so many parts of it seem so overwhelming and unbelievable even to me, and I lived it!
    I have shared parts of it here and there, but to share my entire story feels very overwhelming. Again, God is good and gives me only what I can handle. As I share bits and pieces He helps me to heal from the power that sin had over my life and to touch the lives of others and I think that is the true power of our testimony. I have experienced so many things that like Paul I can share many experiences with many different people. To Him goes all the glory for a transformed life that could only have been changed and continues to be changed by Him. I owe Him a debt of gratitude that I can never repay, no matter how much I witness for Him.

  11. The lesson writer says: "The essence of the gospel is to restore people broken by sin to the wholeness Christ has created them for".
    Quoting from Ellen White's comment: 'something to tell concerning the way in which He has led us' - 'how we tested His promises and found the promise true - we can bear witness to what we have known of the grace of Christ'.

    The first statement does not mention the Gospel's essence pointing to God and Jesus, it mentions to restore the sinner's 'wholeness that Christ has created them for'.
    The second statement focuses our witness on 'what we have known of the Grace of Christ, 'and for want of which the world is perishing'.
    We would be falling far short of the true goal of our testimony should we stop with 'what God has done for me' and not focus on that it took God's Mercy and Grace to do it.

    What is the Grace of Christ? - I know of the Grace of God the Father!? God's Grace was expressed when He allowed/gave us Jesus to do the work needed to restore us to Himself. Our Lord Jesus was faithful to the end and fulfilled His Father's wishes - 2Peter3:8-10.
    All Scripture points to the God who has the power and is motivated by love to promise a new life, beginning at conversion for those that love Him and repent of their self-seeking ways. John6:44; Rom.8:28.

    Certainly, our testimony will also point out that God now guides us by our trust/faith in His faithfulness to keep His promises; but He has not promised that the new life is always a bed of roses.
    Matt.16:24-26 - He has asked us to 'take up your cross and follow me'; Matt.11:29 - 'to take my yoke upon you' so that we can live the promised life after finishing the race successfully. 1Cor.9:24-27

    I have observed witnesses that show no humbleness, no contrite heart when they share their testimony. It almost appears as if they exhibit a certain 'boasting' whiles airing their 'dirty laundry' in public. Their focus is on themselves and not on the Mercy and Grace of the God who saved them from this darkness.

    The lesson writer askes: "What can you offer someone unconverted, who could benefit from the experience you shared"? There is no doubt in my mind that we can confidently offer the Grace of God, His Mercy and Goodness. Who can benefit? - Anyone!

    John6:44-48 Our 'walking in the newness of life/light' and verbally sharing our testimony will encourage the Seeker of Truth to stay hopeful; that he too, will be guided to the Bread of Life that we currently enjoy as we sit at the table of our Lord and Savior.

    Sharing our testimony with anyone under any circumstances should be a solemn - 'characterized by deep sincerity' - event. We make sure for it to be prompted by the Holy Spirit, prayerfully asking for introspection to reveal to us our motives and to give us the words to express His Truth - making sure that God is the recipient of all Glory!
    Mark13:9-11; Luke12:11,12

  12. Whether we realize it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, the account of the lifestyle of the manic individual in Sunday's lesson is a metaphor of the normal, sane, ordinary lives of ALL humans--mine, and all of yours. Because most of our living isn't spent like his, we may not initially see our likeness in him.
    Since Adam's fall, the natal state of ALL men IS the state of that "demoniac" (Rm 5:12; 1 Cor 2:14). Like him we all find ourselves in possession of "unclean spirit(s)" (Mk 5:2->Rm 8:7-8 NKJV->Rm 7:21,23-24). Like the "demoniac", Jesus can no more use us as His witnesses in our natal, carnal state (Rm 8:8 NKJV), than He could use the "demoniac" in his manic state (Mk 5:3-5). Like David smitten with the prophet's parable (2 Sam 12:1-6), he failed to see himself within the portrayal (2 Sam 12:7-10 compare Rev 3:17).
    God's people must necessarily understand that there is a seduction to focus on manic behavior(s), but misunderstand or ignore the greater danger of our "unclean spirit(s)" that PRODUCES behaviors unacceptable to God--including "good" ones. When behaviors becomes our focus and standard, it WILL BE possible to dishonor our Head even while "witnessing" (Mk 1:40-*45->Mt 7:21-23). Yes, the head-spinning truth is that we CAN dishonor God while maintaining a humanly unimpugnable lifestyle.
    So, what's a good, sane, normal, ordinary Christian supposed to do now that he/she can't be "manic" OR "be with" Jesus (Mk 5:18)? Well, finding oneself gifted with a "right mind" (Mk 5:15) by Christ, one may live on in the submission of faith (Mk 5:19-20), precipitated by a pure love for one's Healer (Mt 22:37-38). For the true Christian, the standard is NOT our behavior or conduct, but to be found with a "right mind"--the "mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16)--a mind that consistently produces a God-honoring witness (Jn 8:28-29).

    • Lynrol - Thank you for your comment. Your comment describes an, oh so vital area of our Christian life still waiting to be correctly understood. To shed light on this has been a burden of mine for a long time.
      Yes, Christ needs us to be in the 'right mind and heart' - His mind and heart - to be effective witnesses, otherwise we would possibly produce 'fruit' unacceptable to God.
      Matt 7:21-23 - we need to know the Will of God. Rom 12:1-3 - '..that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God'.

      • Brigitte, thanks for including Rm 12:1-3 in your response to my post. It is encouraging to hear from others who share Christ's concern for the complete transformation of our fallen humanity into a Christ-formed one (Php 2:5).
        I found it interesting as I studied the lesson, that the person to whom Christ appears first (Mk 16:9) is a woman who bears a striking spiritual resemblance to the manic man in Mark's gospel. Mary Magdalene receives the honor of the first appearance of the risen Christ. She, like the "demoniac" had the experience of Jesus' expulsion of multiple demons from her mind. It is reasonable to conclude that she, like the former "demoniac", was now operating in her "right mind" (Mk 5:15). She, like the ex-demoniac, is tasked with going back to her community as a witness (Mk 16:10). However, the response of those to whom each witnessed diverged...his (Mk 5:20)...hers (Mk 16:11).
        It appeared that Jesus needed to perform one final act of "demon expulsion" (Mk 16:14). He needed to also restore "the eleven" to a "right mind"--a mind like His--before He departed and left them to be His witnesses (Act 1:4,8).

        • Lynrol - it is a pleasure to read the bible references in suggession and to see the threat of the Truth being developed through them. Thank you for providing this blessing! I hope that you will be staying in our little band of contributors and look forward to reading your contributions. God bless you and yours!


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