The parables and teachings of Jesus, the stories of Bible characters, and the counsel of Ellen G. White all indicate clearly that there is no halfway commitment to Christ. Either we are or we are not on the Lord’s side.
When asked by a scribe which commandment was the greatest, Jesus answered, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NKJV). When we give all to Christ, there is nothing left for another master. That is the way it is. That is the way it must be.
Read Matthew 6:24. What has been your own experience with the truth of these words?
Notice, Jesus didn’t say that it was hard to serve God and money, or that you needed to be careful in how you served both. He said, instead, that it couldn’t be done. Period. This thought should put a bit of fear and trembling in our souls (Philippians 2:12).
Read 1 John 2:15-17. How are these three things manifested in our world, and why is the danger they present sometimes more subtle than we realize?
No wonder Paul wrote, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Of course, that’s easier said than done, because the things of the world are right here before us every day. The lure of “all that is in the world” is strong; the pull for immediate gratification is always there, whispering in our ears or pulling on our shirt sleeves, or both. Hasn’t even the most faithful Christian felt some love for “the things of the world”? Even with our knowledge that one day it will all end, we still feel the pull, don’t we? The good news, however, is that we don’t need to let it pull us away from the Lord.
|Read 2 Peter 3:10-14. How should what he says here impact how we live, including what we do with our resources?|
It is interesting that the illustration for today's lesson shows what appears to be a family with children sitting outside a mansion surrounded by tame animals with a distant vision of what could be construed as the throne of God. It is a sort of stylised picture of what we would imagine earth to be like minus cars and technology. Many of us have something similar in mind when we think of the Kingdom of Heaven.
As a little exercise this morning I looked up the phrase, "Kingdom of Heaven" in the Bible. It is used 32 times, all of them in Matthew. If we want to get a picture of what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about we need to read Matthew. It is the definitive textbook on the Kindom of Heaven.
Here are some quotes to think about:
... and so on.
There are two things that become very apparent from reading these verses:
1: The Kindom of Heaven is at hand. i.e. Now
2: The Kindom of Heaven talks about value and richness not in terms of possessions but of character.
Homework: read the rest of the quotes. How do they affect our perspective of value?
I like this. The very last text for today's lesson is perfect and verse 14 sums it up. Depending on the version you read it in, we are to make every effort to live peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight. In other words, develop a Christ-like character while we are waiting for the things to happen that are mentioned in the previous verses. That is to be our focus, not the things that will happen. 2 Peter 3:10-14.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."
1 John 2:15–17
Our definite world is not here. But if my focus is this, I'll probably die with it, eternally. I have (we all have) the opportunity to choose abundant life!
Today’s world is fashioned in such a way that it is constantly pulling us away from the Kingdom of Heaven. It is like a tug of war. It takes greater effort and determination to hold tightly onto our rope and pull towards the Kingdom. God is on our side and all we need to do is faithfully be on his side as well to win this tug of war.
2 Peter 3:14 encourages us to live in peace with others, both within and outside of our Christian community.
This would mean seeking to resolve conflicts, promoting understanding and reconciliation, and showing respect and kindness towards all people, regardless of their background, beliefs, or actions. It involves recognising the inherent dignity and worth of every human being as created in the image of God.
Jesus said, ”Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” ~Matthew 5:9. God’s chosen people will seek to build bridges rather than walls.
When Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, God’s chosen people will be living in peace with others. This will be a natural reflection of their love for God, and their desire to obey His command to love our neighbours as ourselves. ~Mark 12:31.