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Thursday: Sharing our Lives — 17 Comments

  1. I live in an area where there are more Seventh-day Adventists than you can count. There are five churches and you can take your pick from "conservative" to "youthful". For the most part we get on pretty well and often join forces for combined efforts such as pathfinders, school support and so on. Like any community with this type of demographic, we have our detractors who see Seventh-day Adventists as Bible-bashing fun spoilers. However, on the whole, the community has respect for Adventists. This is largely due to church members participating in community programs. The Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and other volunteer organisations that operate in the area are well supported by Adventists, and their efforts are appreciated. I have mentioned at times my own involvement in the U3A program - a movement designed to keep older people socially, physically and mentally active.

    Today's lesson is about sharing; not only with one another, but with the community as well. The Gospel is not meant to be lived in a vacuum, nor is it an academic pursuit of interpretation and thought. Rather, it is something to be shared by osmosis. For those of you who have never heard of osmosis: the biological description is probably appropriate. It is the passage of nutrient salts from the soil into the roots of a plant, feeding it and helping it to grow. Sharing the gospel is an osmosis process and relies on us working together as a community irrespective of our religious affiliation.

    Paul's advice is relevant:

    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:2 KJV

    • Hi Maurice,
      Community service is what we have; soup kitchen, Pathfinder activities, clean the street, fruit basket giveaways, food distribution, visit homeless shelters, youth homes, back to school gift giving, christmas gift giving, at one point a prison ministry, participated in interdisciplinary community church activities, community health fairs, honor community citizens, adopted the community police station to pray for the officers, and honor fire fighters. Yes, the church does that community thing well. What makes my heart beats fast, is when a new member comes into our churches, this is where they see the true SDAs. I will tell you a story; I had a colleague who got baptized, I gave her the speech, 'look to Jesus, He is our example, etc, etc. She was on fire, eager, had a joy, would start telling people about the gospel right there at work every chance she got, active in the church.There was a women's ministry conference coming up, she was so excited! I started fretting, I know how our people are, I know of the classism in our church and how unkind we can be, so I started praying. As the time drew near, she got more and more excited, I prayed harder. She went to the conference a happy woman. When she returned to work, I could see the change instantly, the light had dimmed in her eyes, she never shared her experience with me, I was expecting to hear about the different seminars, what she had learned, the sermons...nothing, refused to even speak about the experience. After a while I noticed that she had stopped speaking about the gospel, and was no longer inviting people to church. Her joy had diminished, eventually, she just stopped going to church. She became ill with a brain tumor and I lost contact with her when she changed her telephone number or something else happened.
      Sharing our lives, being kind, non judgemental, and loving each and every member, is one of the biggest problems in our neck of the woods. Our 'airs' classism, judgemental behavior and lack of love turns many people away from our churches. We use our education and material positions to create divisions in the church. We do the community work well but tend to not continue the work within the church.

      • I have had similar experiences Paulette, and to be fair I don't think it is all the church's fault. I am not excusing our bad behaviour, but sometimes people are in the continual search mode, always seeking some new thing. They are satisfied for the moment but then they get bored and want something new.

        The problem, at least partly, is that they confuse the two ideas of growth and change. They think that by changing to something else they are growing, when often they are simply repeating the same experience in a different environment. Not sure how to approach that issue but I see it all too often.

      • Paulette, thank you for sharing this heart-breaking story.

        It should serve to remind us to treat each other respectfully and gently - especially the newer converts. We know that people who abandon our fellowship do not generally do so for doctrinal (teaching)reasons, but for lack of fellowship.

  2. I am encouraged and persuaded by Paul's testimony in 1Thess 2:7-12 and the words in today's guide and Maurice's comment to continue being an active Caring Lightbearer.
    Paul said I share the Good News and my life with you, read the passage to find what that meant for Paul.
    Object lesson: I use my money to buy bird seed and I give some to my two budgies in their cage and also some to wild birds - sparrows, doves & pigeons - who come to my door step.
    Application - I use my time and spiritual gift to share seeds or gems I discover in the Word of the LORD with those who are already believers to nurture them on their journey. Then I plant seeds in the minds of the secular people who cross my path by being helpful, considerate and respectful while dropping tiny hints of my beliefs.

  3. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care!

    Our brothers in the Catholic Church do a lot to help the community here in Kenya.

    They have the best schools, hospitals and well built churches.

    They offer free medical camps, free water and many other free things.

    When disaster strikes,they are the first to reach the area with food,water,tents,nets and medicine.

    In time of war, they offer their churches as cities of refuge.

    These people don't use millions to organize gospel campaigns. They just share what they have.

    Have a sharing day!

  4. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thess 5:11

    Sharing our Lives
    The beginning of the Christian church in the bible began as small cells/groups. The disciples and apostles moved from place to place teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ, people believed and were baptized and gathered together in homes because no buildings were available as a church.
    One phase keep coming back to me was-'one accord'. The people who were gathered together in homes were in 'one accord.' Acts 2:1. Acts 4:19-24.
    There mindset were different to some of us. Even before the pandemic you weren't invited to some members home, you didn't even knew where they lived, and their phone numbers were private.
    How can one share their lives when we are not in one accord? Which one comes first- sharing lives or one accord?

    • Hi Lyn,
      Do we attend the same church? 😂😕☹️😭I know exactly what you are talking about. You have to belong to a certain 'clique' to have access to certain members. Been going to this church since the eighties, all I get is 'hi Paulette' from some members of this 'elite class', their Christian duty was done. Well, seeing that salvation is an individual thing, I would intentionally speak to everyone, especially visitors ( my first visit to this church was so bad that I did not return for a year, then I asked myself the reason for attending church, went back, and tried to make a difference for visitors ) My group of 'commoners' had an open lunch table for anyone to come to, did not matter who you were. If it was a 'commoner' who visited church, they were sent to our table, the 'elite' would somehow be steered to the 'elite's' table. A remark was made by one of the 'elite' that our table was not worthy to sit and eat at, so the food was taken and eaten at another table ( our food was really good, had a lot of love in it)
      Each man will have to give an account for him/herself; yes, every tub has to sit on its own bottom, therefore try not to let this behavior of classism in the church bother you. You do what you can to be welcoming and Christian to everyone. Open YOUR home to others, pray for the church, love on them if they will allow you (most times this elite class wants nothing from you. Help us Holy Ghost ) and be reminded that only a remnant will be saved. To your question of what comes first, for me the answer is definitely sharing lives. If you are in the USA, happy Thanksgiving.

      • Paulette (and Lyn),
        It is a sad day when our own church family holds prejudice. At my church, there has been a huge prayerful shift to become a loving church family and pre-pandemic, implemented an open visitor meal each Sabbath. It was a wonderful way to connect with visitors and also other church members who needed a meal that Sabbath, no one was turned away and many Sabbaths the meal spilled out into the hallway!
        You would be welcomed with open arms and open hearts in my church- consider this an invitation!
        Bless you, for sticking with your church and being a positive influence for change; hold fast, people will see what is true and lovely... and they will be drawn to you! What a great Jesus effect you will have!

    • Lyn, Paulette provided a good answer to your final question:

      You do what you can to be welcoming and Christian to everyone. Open YOUR home to others, pray for the church, love on them if they will allow you (most times this elite class wants nothing from you

      Changing a church environment starts with just *one* person, and the influence spreads like ripples in a pond. If some want to keep themselves separate, that is their choice, but newcomers will not even notice if there is a core of believers who are welcoming and friendly.

  5. 1Thes 2:8 "So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."
    I was particularly impacted by this verse. Paul clearly stated his feelings to his dear church family and thus an example for us today. I know I have the gospel truth when my actions in the home and outside the home reflect kindness, respect, humor, love, hope, faith... And, at the end of the day, when I pause to reflect, have my behaviors indicated to others that I am a friend of Jesus or would He be ashamed of my actions? Thank God for the gift of forgiveness and the ability to start fresh tomorrow.

  6. It is interesting to find the lesson writer interpret Rom.12:2KJV to “suggest that the church take this work of education most seriously”. Is not the renewing of the mind only and always done by the Holy Spirit and the follow-up by the organized church? Understanding the role of Christian 'education' in the right way is very important – what is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit and what is the responsibility of the organized church or formal institutions of Christian education to lead us to effectively share our lives in the Spirit of our heavenly Father?

    Ever since I started participating in Bible study, I have held that it is the Holy Spirit revealing God’s Truth to me; that spiritual Truth is not taught but revealed! So what then is taught in the churches and schools? Would the teaching not have to differ based on whether a student has accepted to live by the Gospel Truth already or if he is still seeking to confirm for himself the Truth?
    Could it be that students of the Bible do not learn how to apply the Gospel Truth, but mostly what doctrinal aspects to believe in? Throughout my Bible student experience, the most appreciated classes where always ‘practical application of the Truth' classes.

    The renewing of the mind is essential because - Rom.12:1KJV – “I BESEECH (this word is actually written in capital letters in the KJV) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” - this will prepare the faithful believer to realize the importance of that - - we should not be conformed to THIS world!
    How can we assure that we do not conform to this world but live our life by the inspiration of the Father'sSpirit? We do this by dedicating all that we are to God and using our, by the Holy Spirit renewed mind, to guide our daily living which proves/demonstrates (v.2)“what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” and to share it's effect with others.

    • Brigitte, I think you raise dichotomies where there is no need. As a person who has worked in Church education at both the secondary and tertiary level, I see Education as something that is spread across the home, church, school and community of believers, not competing, but collaborating with one another. I taught computer programming, a subject that is more technical than spiritual, yet in my classes I felt the responsibility of working with my students for their spiritual growth.

      In that sense I do not see the need to demarcate the work of the Holy Spirit and the Educator, Church, Parents, Community. Rather, I see us all working together to teach, nurture and foster the renewal of minds. In that respect I see the Holy Spirit working in and through us, not doing one part while we do another. Our prayer should be that the Holy Spirit can use us.

      • Maurice – thank you for sharing your thoughts; I believe that you might have misunderstood my comment's reasoning. Let me explain: As I understand inspiration and revelation, they are the means by which the Father through the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind of His children. The Holy Spirit was poured out to the whole world at Pentecost. It is not any longer the privileged communication between God and His Prophets, Judges and Priests.

        The renewing of the believer’s mind depends on accepting the inspired, revealed, scripturally based Truth in their heart first. Any person who accepts God’s inspired Truth in their heart is spiritually empowered to use this information when making choices to resist the pressure to stay conformed to this world and can, with the increasing ability of the transformed mind and heart, live “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Rom.12:1,2KJV
        The person which receives this spiritually based information only as a second-hand directive or command and the heart is not inspired by it, would need to find the strength to maintain its separation from the world through the will only, having to do so without the help of the inspiring conviction through the Holy Spirit.

        I believe there is a dichotomy in that the origin of spiritually discerned Truth is sourced in the heavenly Father and vested in the Holy Spirit, whereas the follow-up, lesson based teaching/instructing is done through the earthly mediums of education, as you say: ‘parents, church, school and the community of believers’. In this forum, spiritual conviction is also the work of the Holy Spirit.
        I agree, inspiration/revelation and instructing/teaching for the practical application of the Truth through education do not compete and certainly need to collaborate because the second depends on the first - the first is given as the original source of Truth and inspiration/revelation to all, the second depends on the original source to successfully educate and ‘train’ how to apply the inspired/revealed Truth. John6:44KJV; Prov.22:6KJV

        • I don't think it is intentional Brigitte but some of what you are saying sounds like a modern version of Gnosticism - special spiritual knowledge.

          I also find this statement unsupported in Scripture:

          The Holy Spirit was poured out to the whole world at Pentecost. It is not any longer the privileged communication between God and His Prophets, Judges and Priests.

          The Holy Spirit was/is always at work, available to everyone. The Pentecost event drew attention to the work of the Holy Spirit but there are passages in the Old Testament that attribute to the Holy Spirit too.

  7. the problem is that, some of our church members are not mature enough in this gospel, instead of caring and serve others, we are busy labeling them , place brand name , looking down upon others , segregation etc , maybe thinking that the paper in which our name are written is full . lets share this gospel, God is for us all. don't ever think of going to heaven alone.

    • I agree that some of us are not mature in the Gospel. However, seeing we are on a journey to that maturity, how do we help one another towards that goal? Seeing the faults in others is the easy bit; doing something about it in our own lives is the tough bit. Are we leading by example.


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