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Tuesday: Practical Unity — 21 Comments

  1. Today's lesson paints a picture of what the reality of self-renouncing love looks like.

    How do we grow in self-renouncing love?
    * Start each and every day with a prayer of submission and surrender to God, asking for a fresh measure of the indwelling Holy Spirit for that day, expressing our desire to be grown in self-renouncing love, and asking God to search our heart and reveal to us anything that would be a barrier to all of this (as per Ps 139:23,24). This is an ongoing daily need - not because God needs to be begged or convinced, but because we need to develop a strong habit of seeking and submitting to God. This is why we need to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking (Luke 11:9-10). It is the retraining of us.

    * Place some sort of visual reminder within your environment that reminds you of self-renouncing love. This is another part of the retraining process. The more often you think about something, the more strongly it will become embedded within your subconscious. This is not doing your own work in place of God, this is co-operating with God in developing capacities He created us with and that the Holy Spirit uses to grow us.

    * At least once during or at the end of your day, take time out in prayer to review opportunities for expressing/practicing self-renouncing love that you were able to be involved in during the day - thanking, praising and giving glory to God for the opportunity to do so. Also review opportunities you may have missed - but don't beat yourself up about them (as per Phil 3:12-15). Instead, talk with God about them. Maybe some of these opportunities can be re-attempted and if so, ask God to help you to do this. If not, ask God to help your eyes be more open to opportunities next time.

    God well understands that we need to grow and that growing is a progressive process across time. That's why God is first and foremost compassionate (see Ex 34:6) - He knows how we 'tick'and, instead of condemning us for this, He works lovingly and patiently with us. This is not making excuses, this is acknowledging reality - like Paul did in the Phil 3 text above.

    • Phil: I don't understand what sort of visual reminder would remind one of self-renouncing love? I can think of reminders for events & people, but this puzzles me.

    • Phil: I don't understand what sort of visual reminder would remind one of self-renouncing love? I can think of reminders for events, people, and things, but this puzzles me.

      • Hi Leilani

        The aim is to have a visual 'cue' that reminds your mind to consciously think about self-renouncing love. Even just being reminded to say the words 'self-renouncing love' in your mind or out loud will do.

        That visual cue could simply be the word 'self-renouncing love' written on a piece of paper and placed in an appropriate place that is frequently seen (eg on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, on the back of a toilet door - at least that is a popular spot to place things here in Australia). You might write these words using calligraphy, or quilting, etc and hang it on a wall to remind.

        Or you might have/draw/paint/etc a picture that reminds you of the concept of self-renouncing love.

        You'd be surprised that if you consciously rehearse the words 'self-renouncing love' frequently throughout your day each day, pretty soon you will find yourself naturally becoming more (habitually) aware of the concept of 'self-renouncing love' throughout your day. In doing this, you will have trained yourself in a new habit of thinking about self-renouncing love more often as you go about your day, which will help increase your awareness of opportunities to demonstrate self-renouncing love.

        Are you still puzzled?

      • One of my visual reminders is a print of my favorite Bible verse "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" that hangs in my home. Everytime i walk passed it it reminds me that it is God's love

    • Thanks Phil, this lesson today, lays principalities of practical Christian living into perspective and if I have to pick on a "take-home-message" in your comment then this would be it:

      "This is an ongoing daily need - not because God needs to be begged or convinced, but because we need to develop a strong habit of seeking and submitting to God."

      We as Christians today, honestly need to pick a cue from the intense words layed out in Collisions 3:1-17, these are mainly areas we struggle with as Christians. What Phil lays forth is really achievable yet as much is not our own effort but God's Spirit working in us, we have to participate and purpose ourselves to focus on such virtues. It may seem impossible to achieve, but we are tasked to place reminders from the life of Jesus and keep trying to do good a step at a time.

      Another point from your comment that is very important, and maybe where I find myself so guilty at times is:

      "Also review opportunities you may have missed - but don't beat yourself up about them"

      It is good to see our mistakes but sometimes we take it overboard, and take penitence to an extreme level; such approaches many times become fanitical or even counterproductive. Granted! We should review our daily lives but Phil's caution in worth a thought, temperance in all we do should also apply.

      Today's lesson has reached out to the individual and if we meditate on such things we will find ourselves living as required of us by Christ - like Christ; as "Christians".

    • This is truly a practical lesson on how to live as Christian, to be Christ like, as I pray I realized that to follow the master is hard but doable. Jesus is truly humble patient and temperate. He is the the true royal, the creator of this world and yet when Pontious Pilate asked him to perform a miracle so he can release him although he can, he kept his peace and humbleness. He was jeered spitted at, taunted, thorns was placed on his head which caused the blood to trickle down his face but he utter no words of displeasure or curse.

      He knows that we cannot perform miracles. He shows us what manner we should be having when we are brought to situations of being questioned in front of authorities because of our faith. Jesus has self renouncing love. Because of his love for us, he disregarded the pain and humiliation being inflicted unto him. One slight error in Jesus' part, Satan can use that in his argument against God. In our own life unless we own the title “ follower of Jesus” it seems very hard to denounce oneself. In my daily life at work when others are obnoxious, unless I think that Jesus died for him/her too, it’s hard to be humble and consider others as important to be saved just like me. I need saving and annoying people need saving too. Jesus died for the thousand migrants at the borders too, I don’t know what outcome they’ll have but God knows. Love one another and follow the one with self renouncing love. Thank you for the concept of growing in self renouncing love.

      • "In my daily life at work when others are obnoxious, unless I think that Jesus died for him/her too, it’s hard to be humble and consider others as important to be saved just like me."

        This is a really good suggestion Maggie. I have been practicing thinking this thought when I come across people that really are behaving obnoxiously. It really does make a difference to my subsequent thought patterns when I do this.

    • Didn't God command us to not make "visual reminders" for devotion? He cannot be pictured by man made objects. Constantly thinking of "self-renouncing" may be counterproductive. Denying self is explained by the other biblical reference. Peter "denied" Christ. What did that consist of? He completely renounced and relationship with Christ, he disowned Him, "I do not know Him."
      Denying self is the same. I am dead, Jesus is living here now. Imagine Satan's shock trying to tempt a corpse and discovering Jesus in my place.

      • "Didn't God command us to not make "visual reminders" for devotion?"

        Only in regard to a very specific set of circumstances as per Ex 20:4. Beyond that, we find many, many, many examples of God's use of visual reminders: Deut 6:8; the rainbow; the sanctuary system; the pillar of fire/cloud; Jesus use of parables referring to visual reminders; etc. Most people learn, retain and recall better under visual reminders than auditory reminders alone.

  2. I'm not really sure about what sort of things make others look into my own life and see Jesus, I'd want that so. I do try my best to be an example, but I know that I am not! Jesus is the ultimate example! My attention must be turned to be as Him! Everything else should matter not!

    • I had to smile when I read that discussion question also at the end of Tuesday's lesson. No one can answer that question! It is a trick question. In the contemplation to answer it, the focus shifts from God and back onto ourselves.
      Exodus 34:29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. (NKJV)

      Even so, when I talk with God in the secret place of prayer, I only see my failures, my inadequacies, my glaring mistakes, my lack of faith, my own miserable backslidings, my helplessness, and weakness.

      If anyone sees anything in my life, it can only be God's grace that I am completely unaware of.

  3. 2 Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with uncovered face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.". We are admonished that by beholding we become changed. As you said, God must be our ultimate focus. Sometimes, it is difficult to separate surrendering and beholding God and the idea of "I do my part and God will do the rest." Isn't our part to keep our eyes on Jesus? Once one is more absorbed on what one has to do rather than turning thoughts and thinking over to God, isn't the focus now on self rather on God and His power to change us?

    • Yep. Sometimes I have the feeling that God does everything ahead of me. There is nothing really good that I can brag about and say "this was me!". It is subtle and almost imperceptible! At the same time, when I look back In see God guiding so many things in my life!

  4. Jesus was talking about the cross and they were wondering who is going to sit on the right side and left side.
    Self exalted can never bring about unity.
    What allowed the disciples to come in one accord in the upper room.
    “As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they HUMBLED their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they called to remembrance (REMEMBERED) the words that Christ had spoken to them before His death they understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one another. They REPROACHED themselves for their misapprehension of the Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of His wonderful life passed before them. As they MEDITATED upon His pure, holy life they felt that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great, if only they could bear witness in their lives to the loveliness of Christ’s character. Oh, if they could but have the past three years to live over, they thought, how differently they would act! If they could only see the Master again, how earnestly they would strive to show Him how deeply they loved Him, and how sincerely they sorrowed for having ever grieved Him by a word or an act of unbelief! But they were comforted by the thought that they were forgiven. And they determined that, so far as possible, they would atone for their unbelief by bravely confessing Him before the world. … Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship.” - Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 36, 37.

    The following words strike me at the core, as they meditated upon His pureness. What am I meditating on? Am I interested in the salvation of my brothers and sisters? Following is the posting by Maurice Ashton on Saturday November 24 2018 worth repeating here: https://ssnet.org/blog/sabbath-most-convincing-proof/#comment-102291 "Which should come first, agreement on doctrine, or love for one another? This question came to mind when I thought of a family member who left the Seventh-day Adventist Church and ultimately lost their faith, not through any doctrinal issue but simply because they had no friends in the church. It became easier to stay at home rather than to go to church." Doctrinal truth solidifies our faith. It is the love that sustains our faith. When we cling to the letter of the law and loose the principle of the law, we have lost the law giver

  5. I shared this today with my coworkers who are Christians of different faiths. Today’s lesson was humbling for me. The admonition, “be angry and do not sin;..’ Let no corrupting talk come out your mouths, but only such as is good for building up..” These words came across as a neon light reminder shining brightly in my mind.
    One of the most revealing and testing sites in our lives is at the workplace. Workplace annoyances can bring to surface ungodly tendencies and reactions. Although, there are many ‘Adventist’ behaviors that I will never do. There are some Christ like characteristics or responses missing from my life. Those reactions or responses may not be using foul language or telling lies, but lacking patience, finding it difficult to bear with one another fall under the same umbrella as not being Christ like. Today’s lesson focused on the most difficult yet, determining factor of a Christian, being like Christ. No matter how I dress it up or dissect what Paul wrote, it all comes back to the text, 2 Cor. 3:18. I am to live in the present transformation of my carnal nature to Godly characteristics by the Holy Spirit. This lesson, Practical Unity operated for me as a mirror, and what I saw brought me to the throne with a repented heart. Pray that I will reflect Christ my Lord.

  6. If yoked together with Jesus, our whole life, in every word and act, will reveal Christ, as we remain hid in Him(Gal 2:20).

    Public or private, our lives will reflect Christ always if He is abiding in our heart by faith, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit(Eph 3:16,17), who will never dwell where sin is invited to dwell.

    Even the most faithful and true witness of Christ will be hated, as He was hated, yet those looking for Life will find the faithful witness as an oasis in a dry, parched land. Those looking for Truth will be led to those who hold the truth in righteousness.

  7. There are three types of "love" in the Greek culture and language, 1.Phileos (Brotherly love,) 2. Agape (Self sacrificing love) and 3. Eros (Romantic love.) In Jesus we see all three types but mainly the Phileos and the Agape type. In the Agape type he took upon Himself Humanity as a human baby and then died on the cross for all the sins of every human that has ever lived. In the Phileos type Jesus showed a tenderness and closeness to each Apostle and especially to John where John himself said that he was "The Apostle that Jesus loved." And in the Eros type Jesus simply compared His Church to His Bride "Allegorically."


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