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Lesson 11 September 3-9
Read for This Week’s Study: Rom. 15:4, 5; Rom. 5:3-5; 1 Samuel 26; Ps. 37:1-11.
Memory Text: “But the fruit of the Spirit is … longsuffering” (Galatians 5:22, NKJV).
Scientists did an experiment with 4-year-old children and marshmallows. Each child was told by a scientist that they could have a marshmallow; however, if the child waited until the scientist returned from an errand, they would be given two. Some of the children stuffed the marshmallow into their mouths the moment the scientist left; others waited. The differences were noted.
The scientists then kept track of these children into their teenage years. The ones who had waited turned out to be better adjusted, better students, and more confident than those who didn’t. It seemed that patience was indicative of something greater, something important in the human character. It is no wonder, then, that the Lord tells us to cultivate it.
This week, we’ll look at what could be behind some of the most trying of all crucibles: the crucible of waiting.
The Week at a Glance: Why do we sometimes have to wait so long for things? What lessons can we learn about patience while in the crucible?
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 10.
Sunday ↥ September 4
Read Romans 15:4, 5. What is found in these verses for us?
We are normally impatient about things that we really want or have been promised but don’t have yet. We are often satisfied only when we get what we are longing for. And because we rarely get what we want when we want it, it means that we are often doomed to irritation and impatience. And when we are in this state, it is almost impossible to maintain a peace and trust in God.
Waiting is painful by definition. In Hebrew, one of the words for “wait patiently” (Ps. 37:7, NKJV) comes from a Hebrew word that can be translated “to be much pained,” “to shake,” “to tremble,” “to be wounded,” “to be sorrowful.” Learning patience is not easy; sometimes it’s the very essence of what it means to be in the crucible.
Read Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7, and Romans 5:3-5. What are these verses saying to us? What does patience lead to?
While we wait, we can concentrate on one of two things. We can focus on the things that we are waiting for, or we can focus on the One who holds those things in His hands. What makes such a difference when we wait for something isn’t so much how long we have to wait, but our attitude while we wait. If we trust the Lord, if we have placed our lives in His hands, if we have surrendered our wills to Him, then we can trust that He will do what’s best for us when it’s best for us, no matter how hard it is sometimes to believe it.
What things are you desperately waiting for? How can you learn to surrender everything to God and to His timing? Pray your way into an attitude of complete surrender and submission to the Lord.
Monday ↥ September 5
Read Romans 5:6 and Galatians 4:4. What do they tell us about God’s timing?
In these verses, Paul tells us that Jesus came to die for us at exactly the right time. But Paul does not tell us why it was the right time. It is very easy to read these verses and wonder, Why did Jesus wait for thousands of years until He came to the earth to deal with sin — didn’t the universe understand that sin was a very bad thing long before then? We may ask why Jesus is waiting to come the second time also. We may also ask, Why is the Lord waiting so long to answer my prayer?
Think about, for instance, the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, the prophecy that points to Jesus as the Messiah (review it if you need to). How long was this time period? What does this tell you about learning to wait for things in God’s time, even if it takes what seems to us a long time?
There are many important spiritual reasons why we will experience waiting times. First, waiting can refocus our attention away from “things” and back to God Himself. Second, waiting allows us to develop a clearer picture of our own motives and desires. Third, waiting builds perseverance — spiritual stamina. Fourth, waiting opens the door to developing many spiritual strengths, such as faith and trust. Fifth, waiting allows God to put down other pieces in the puzzle of the bigger picture. Sixth, we may never know the reason we have to wait; hence, we learn to live by faith. Can you think of any other reasons for waiting?
What examples can you find in the Bible of God’s doing things in His own time that can help you learn to trust that He will do for you what’s right in His own time, as well? (Think, for instance, about Abraham and Sarah and the promise of a son.) At the same time, ask yourself, “What might I be doing that could be delaying the answer to a prayer that could have been answered long ago?”
Tuesday ↥ September 6
In 1 Samuel 16:1-13, we see the young lad David anointed by Samuel as king. However, it was a long journey from the fields of his father, Jesse, to the throne in Jerusalem. No doubt, at times he felt in the midst of a crucible.
First, the lad is called to play music to soothe Saul’s troubled spirit (1 Samuel 16). Later, he becomes Israel’s hero as he kills Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Then there are many years during which David is running for his life. Both Saul and his son Jonathan know that David is destined to be the next king (1 Sam. 23:17, 1 Sam. 24:20). But David does nothing to advance his God-given destiny. In fact, he appears to do the opposite. Even when Saul tried to kill him and David snipped a piece of cloth off the king’s robe, he wished he had never done such a thing (1 Sam. 24:5-7). Again when Saul is trying to kill David, David refuses to kill Saul when the opportunity arises (1 Sam. 26:7-11).
Read 1 Samuel 26:1-11. Why does David refuse to kill Saul? What principles does this teach us about the way God brings about His plans for our lives?
Now read 1 Samuel 26:12-25. How does David’s refusal to kill Saul affect Saul? What does this teach us about the advantages of waiting for God?
Looking at the whole of David’s road to the throne, we could perhaps summarize it in a short sentence — don’t grab what God has not yet given. God’s gifts are always best received from His hand and in His time. This may require a very long time of waiting. Bean sprouts may literally grow up within hours, while an oak tree will take many years. But then when the strong winds come, the tree will not be uprooted.
Think how easily David could have justified killing Saul. (After all, David was told he’d have the throne, and Saul was so evil anyway.) Yet, his actions speak of true faith in God. What might you be able to draw from this example for yourself in whatever you might be waiting for?
Wednesday ↥ September 7
The showdown on top of Mount Carmel had ended (1 Kings 18). Fire had come out of heaven, all the people had acknowledged the true God, and the false prophets had been put to death. God had been vindicated. You would have thought that Elijah had been growing in spiritual strength as the day went on, but suddenly he heard something that terrified him so much that he wanted to die. Read the rest of the story in 1 Kings 19:1-9. The last words in the verses are worrisome: “And the word of the LORD came to him: ’What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:9, NIV). Evidently, Elijah’s fear caused him to run and find himself in the wrong place.
After such a powerful intervention by the Lord on Mount Carmel, Elijah should have been full of faith and trust; instead, he runs in fear for his life. What lesson can we learn from this bad example?
This story illustrates something important: when we rush, we can very easily find ourselves in the wrong place. In Elijah’s case, it was his fear that caused him to be overwhelmed and rush into the desert, wishing that he had never been born. But there are other things that cause us to rush outside of God’s plan for us.
Read the following verses. Gen. 16:1-3; Num. 20:10-12; Judg. 14:1-3; Matt. 20:20, 21; Luke 9:52-56; Acts 9:1. What things caused the characters depicted here to rush outside of God’s will?
How easy to let such things as ambition, anger, passion, lack of faith, or a supposed “zeal” for the Lord cause us to rush ahead to where we shouldn’t be. No one is immune to this danger. The key is to cultivate a trusting faith in the goodness and mercy of God, who we know loves us and wants what’s best for us. This doesn’t happen automatically. Faith might be a gift, but it’s a gift that needs to be cultivated, nurtured, and jealously guarded.
Thursday ↥ September 8
Psalm 37:4 is a wonderful promise. Imagine getting what you have always wanted. But getting the desires of our hearts hinges on having a heart that takes delight in the Lord. So what does it mean to “take delight in the LORD”?
Read Psalm 37:1-11. The context for Psalm 37:4 is perhaps a little surprising. David is writing about being surrounded by people who are working against God and against him. When people are working against us, the natural response is often to get angry or to set out to justify ourselves. But David advises something different.
In the following verses, what is David’s counsel to God’s people in this situation?
Read Psalm 37:4 again. In the context of the verses you have just made comments on, what does it mean to “take delight in the LORD”?
David is repeating again and again, in different ways, “Trust God.” Trust Him to act. Don’t get upset, because God is your God, and He is working for you — even right now. You don’t have to charge in and try to sort things out by yourself. Your Father in heaven is in charge. Trust Him. Trust Him completely.
It is in this context that David writes about taking delight in the Lord. To take delight in God means that we live in a state of perfect trust. Nothing can ruffle our peace, because God is here and at work. We can praise Him, we can even smile, because no one can outwit our God! When we can learn to do this, we really will receive what our hearts long for, because we will receive what our loving Father wants to give us, at the time that most benefits us and His kingdom.
How can you learn to “take delight in the LORD”? Spend some time in prayer, seeking God’s guidance in how this may become a reality in your life.
Friday ↥ September 9
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Anointing of David,” pp. 637-642, in Patriarchs and Prophets.
God’s plan for us may require that we do a lot of waiting, and this really can feel like a crucible. Learning patience during this time can happen as we focus on the person of God and trust that He is acting for us. There are many reasons for waiting, but all are concerned with the fulfillment of God’s plans for us and His kingdom. We can lose much if we rush ahead of God, but we can gain much by maintaining an attitude of trust and delight in Him.
The Lord weighs and measures every trial.
“I cannot read the purpose of God in my affliction, but He knows what is best, and I will commit my soul, body, and spirit to Him as unto my faithful Creator. ’For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day’ (2 Tim. 1:12). If we educated and trained our souls to have more faith, more love, greater patience, and a more perfect trust in our heavenly Father, I know we would have more peace and happiness day by day as we pass through the conflicts of this life.
The Lord is not pleased to have us fret and worry ourselves out of the arms of Jesus. More is needed of the quiet waiting and watching combined. We think unless we have feeling that we are not in the right track, and we keep looking within for some sign befitting the occasion; but the reckoning is not of feeling but of faith.” — Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2, p. 242.
Inside Story~ South American Division ↥
Two weeks before Father’s baptism, he inexplicably grew angry after guests left the house following a small group Bible study in Manaus, Brazil, on Friday evening. He announced that he would sleep in the living room.
The night was darker than usual. Electricity went out in the neighborhood, leaving the houses and streets in pitch blackness.
About 1 a.m., Junior woke up to the sound of a voice shrieking that Father was not going to be baptized.
Junior was scared and didn’t know what to do. He stayed in his room to see what would happen.
The voice screamed again, saying that Father was not going to be baptized.
He heard someone enter his room.
“Please, son, pray with me,” Father said. “The enemy is attacking again.”
Another voice spoke. “What are you doing?” It was Mother. When she heard the screams from the living room, she had sunk onto her knees and began to pray. Now she invited Father and Junior to join her in pleading for Jesus to chase away the evil spirits.
After some minutes of prayer, Mother suggested that they step outside the house where they would be able to see one another in the dim moonlight.
Outside, Father said he was thirsty. Junior volunteered to go back in and fetch a glass of water. In the kitchen, he spotted a mysterious dark spot on the floor. Calling for Mother, he pointed at the spot and asked, “What’s that?” Mother looked closely at the floor. “That’s hair!” she said.
Back outside, Junior and Mother took a closer look at Father. Big tufts of hair were missing from his head. It looked as if someone had taken a pair of scissors and chopped off his hair haphazardly.
Father put his hands to the top of his head and winced.
“I’ll have to shave my head,” he said. “I don’t care if I’m bald.”
When the sun rose on Sabbath morning, Father felt terribly tired. He was unusually weak after the nighttime attack by evil spirits, as if he had received a severe beating. He decided to pray at home instead of going to church.
After Mother and Junior left, he prayed, “Jesus, don’t let them take over my body. Please be close to me. I don’t want to be possessed anymore.”
Opening his Bible, he read in Psalms 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (NKJV).
Father understood that Jesus was telling him not to be afraid. Jesus would guide him to his baptism. Sure enough, evil spirits never possessed Father again after that Friday night. But he could still hear them.
Your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open eight churches in the South American Division, including four in Brazil, where Father (Eduardo Ferreira dos Santos) and his family live.
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