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Thursday: Pure Religion Before God — 10 Comments

  1. Hopefully, when we truly understand what God did for us we can also do something back for Him. Perhaps we became cold because there is so much poverty in the world, thus we chose to become unsensible! But we must let ourselves go with the flow of the Spirit, and deliver ourselves completely to the will of God. It is time for us to pray, with all our strenght, for the Holy Spirit's rain! Jesus return has to be more present in our thoughts, because He is near! Even scientists are seing and claiming the Earth has achieved a no return point! Big changes are coming! Shall we delay much longer? Are we prepared?

  2. Today's lesson asks the following questions:

    "Why must we as Seventh-day Adventists, who take keeping the law seriously, make sure we are as serious about the words of James and Deuteronomy? Given what we read in James, why should our belief in the keeping of the law only strengthen our resolve to help the poor and needy among us?"

    The fact that the lesson asks these questions would suggest there is potentially an issue within Seventh-day Adventism - otherwise there would be no need to raise these questions. So what might the issue/s be? I would propose one facet is that the law is too frequently considered as 'the 10 commandments'. What difference might it make if we automatically (because it has become habitual through practice) thought of undivided devotion to God and to benefiting others when we heard the words "keeping the law"? Might that lead to us to also automatically (again because it has become habitual by practice) living this way to the point that it becomes our very breath and heartbeat? Might this be what 'pure religion' actually is?

    Ellen White makes an interesting claim in relation to what is outlined in today's lesson and its accompanying scriptural passages:

    "To the rich no less than to the poor are the words of the Holy Spirit spoken, “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. When men believe this, their possessions will be held as a trust, to be used as God shall direct, for the saving of the lost, and the comfort of the suffering and the poor. With man this is impossible, for the heart clings to its earthly treasure. The soul that is bound in service to mammon is deaf to the cry of human need. But with God all things are possible. By beholding the matchless love of Christ, the selfish heart will be melted and subdued..." (Christ's Object Lessons 394.4).

    Might this "beholding" be just a 'one-off' exercise, or might it too involve repetition?

  3. When I was doing research on the use of ADRA and World Vision a major earthquake occurred in Haiti. Estimates varied on how many people were killed but in anybodies language it was a very large number. It was a very useful event for my research and I learned a lot about response times and public reaction. It was early days for the ADRA facebook site so it was interesting to see the conversations as they occurred. I was rather surprised to see a number of comments expressing the notion that ADRA should be helping the Seventh-day Adventists first and not providing any help for Catholics and Voodoo adherents. To their credit, the person responding on behalf of ADRA reminded these commenters that the only requirement for help from ADRA was need. Nobody was refused help on the basis of creed or colour. And that is how it should be.

    We must remember that for many people, the only picture they will get of Jesus is from their interaction with us. No wonder James said:

    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 KJV

    Its about sharing with others without fear or favour, not about us exercising control!

  4. I believe in a very marked way, unfortunately or maybe not unfortunately, the pandemic has shown that many Christians (in particular also Adventists) are really only concerned about themselves and their "freedom" whether it hurts others or not. Our witness is pretty poor.

    • God has given freedom to every human. If we lose that we don't have much and are in big trouble. I'm sure there were those in Babylon who expressed the same thing when Daniel and his friends said "our bodies are the temple of God and we will not defile them." I don't want to judge my brothers and sisters who don't see things the same way I do. Rather I will extend some grace.

      • “God has given freedom”. However, his people have not and is still fighting against that true freedom as they see it infringing upon their privileges.

  5. I love the illustration picture because it’s a reminder that Christ’s supreme love must fill our hearts in order to have any hope of loving others with pure motives.

    A good motive turns bad on the hinge of selfishness. I heard a story about a Good Samaritan turned Bad Samaritan … He rescued a woman who was going to jump from a bridge. When he pulled her back she hit her head on the concrete and became unconscious. Then he stole her purse and ran away. We can reach out to others with an honest desire to help them, yet underneath we may be more interested and concerned about our own welfare than theirs. And that will shine through. The condition of the heart always shines through.

    Another metaphor of this from my life… When I lived in a small apartment with no dishwasher or storage space, and somebody stopped by unannounced, I quickly put all my dirty dishes into the shower stall and pulled the curtain, crossing my fingers that if they used the bathroom they wouldn’t have the urge to peek behind the shower curtain. I want to be there for others without that feeling that there is a pile of dirty dishes hiding. I don’t want to use good deeds as a cover-up for a dirty heart. Thank you, Jesus, I can confess any sin as soon as the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention (1 John 1:9) and ask You to clean house (Titus 3:3-6).

    Contemplating this lesson’s final question, Scripture tells me that God’s priorities will always be “camel issues” and not “gnat issues”(Matthew 23:23-24). The Pharisees were tithing their spices and ignoring bigger issues of justice, mercy, love, trust in Divine Power. Their hearts were full of selfishness (Matthew 23:25). Sincere law-keepers can especially get caught up in small matters and lose sight of the bigger situations that matter to God. Does God want us to leave the sanctuary when someone is singing a special music with a drumbeat in it because we think that beat is harmful to our ears? Does God want us to tell our kids to refuse the cookie offered to them because it has pig fat in it? These are conversations to have with God and to ask for humility and wisdom.

    True religion is to know the love that Christ imparts,
    True religion is to show this love to burdened hearts.

  6. Maurice, when Australia had those terrible forest fires several years back, my heart went out to the people in the cities and rural areas. But I couldn't get any information about impacts upon Aboriginal communities. No word, no update, no mention. It was like they were invisible. Compassion,love, justice...Thank God we serve a God who sits high and looks low .

    • Hi Marie. The situation regarding the Aboriginal people is complex but I will make two comments.

      While we have had incredibly bad drought conditions leading up to the fires, one of the big factors was the lack of controlled burning. The Aborignal people have lived in Australia for a very long time and had a system of using controlled burning to help manage their environment. The local flora and fauna can handle the small burnoff fires quite well. I'n fact some plants will only flower in the wake of such fires. With a lot of people now living in semi-forested and open-plains areas (tree-change people) burnoffs became less frequent and the dead sticks and leaves built up so that when they did catch fire they burned much hotter and for much longer. One think that has come out of the whole saga is that the aboriginal people essentially got it right and knew how to manage the environment. It is very noticeable that during the last winter and spring a whole lot more burnoffs have been done. Its not all that good on the nose, but it is comforting to know that aboriginal knowledge is contributing to a safer summer.

      Aboriginals nowadays tend to live in cities and country towns or in the arid desert areas of outback Australia. Consequently, most of them were not directly affected by the fires. Having said that, Aboriginals have not adapted well to modern civilisation. My sister in law and her husband have spent about 25 years as teachers in Aboriginal communities in central Australia. They have been seeing at first hand the clash of cultures. Gunga Marijuana, petrol and glue sniffing, domestic violence, school truancy, a violent payback system, all contribute to a very dysfunctional society. Many efforts to try and help them are patronising and demeaning. There are some good initiatives that work well but most of them fold simply because of lack of succession.

  7. In my opinion, the lesson writer in his first sentence points our Savior's *core interest*: "the Lord's concern for basic human dignity". Though it does not stop there, since our Creator offers 'Eternal Life' as the end-result. 
    Elevating human 'dignity' is only the gateway through which the living soul enters the pathway to Eternal Life. Is there anyone who, accepting the elevation of one's dignity, discounts or shuns its true goal - Eternal Life? Though, some believers might be short-sighted and do not value it enough; considering the Light given to them to benefit their life for the 'here and now' more than the offer of 'Eternal Life'.

    Life offers every second of every day opportunities to express God's Love - whenever, whatever the Holy Spirit communicates to the heart and from there to the 'senses/body', the believer can engage in it and so live his/her life! 
    Being aware of the promptings of the Holy Spirit might be already well developed or might not yet be fully understood, but this communication has to take place - it is vital for the born-again soul to grow and mature in Christ Jesus. 
    "When we become Christians, we enter into a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that will cause us to grow." [quoted from 'Plus'] The natural, spiritual expression of the saved, living soul is to be loving and kind:
    1Cor.3:2-8; Col.1:9-10; Col.2:6-7; Luke 8:14-15; 2Peter1:5-8; Eph.4:13-16; 2Cor.9:6-10;


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