December 28, 2008 – January 3, 2009
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 5, 298–302; Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 32–35.
“It is through humble, diligent, faithful toilers that the welfare of Israel is promoted.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 266.
1 What should we realize about the lives of faithful men and women throughout the ages, especially those whom God has entrusted with the gift of prophecy? II Peter 1:21; James 5:10.
Note: “In every age God’s chosen messengers have been reviled and persecuted, yet through their affliction the knowledge of God has been spread abroad. Every disciple of Christ is to step into the ranks and carry forward the same work, knowing that its foes can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. God means that truth shall be brought to the front and become the subject of examination and discussion, even through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated; every controversy, every reproach, every effort to restrict liberty of conscience, is God’s means of awakening minds that otherwise might slumber.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 33.
2 As we consider the faithfulness of God’s servants depicted above, what should we do? I Corinthians 10:33; 11:1.
Note: “[In God’s word] is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets and other holy men of old. They were men ‘subject to like passions as we are.’ James 5:17. We see how they struggled through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God; and, beholding, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. As we read of the precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work they wrought through the grace given them, the spirit that inspired them kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts and a desire to be like them in character—like them to walk with God.” Steps to Christ, 87, 88.
3 How have the messengers of God and their messages been received down through the ages? John 5:43; Romans 10:16.
Note: “There is very little reverence for sacred things in some localities. The ordained instrumentalities of God are almost entirely lost sight of. God has instituted no new method of reaching the children of men. If they cut themselves off from Heaven’s appointed agencies to reprove their sins, correct their errors, and point out the path of duty, there is no way to reach them with any heavenly communication. They are left in darkness, and are ensnared and taken by the adversary.” The Review and Herald, April 7, 1885.
4 By what standard are we to test messengers and messages? Isaiah 8:20.
Note: “The man is to be regarded and honored only as God’s ambassador. To praise the man is not pleasing to God. The message he brings is to be brought to the test of the Bible. ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’ Isaiah 8:20. But the word of the Lord is not to be judged by a human standard. It will be seen that those whose minds have the mold of earthliness, those who have a limited Christian experience and know but little of the things of God, are the ones who have the least respect for God’s servants and the least reverence for the message He bids them bear. They listen to a searching discourse and go to their homes prepared to sit in judgment on it, and the impression disappears from their minds like the morning dew before the sun. If the preaching is of an emotional character, it will affect the feelings, but not the heart and conscience. Such preaching results in no lasting good, but it often wins the hearts of the people and calls out their affections for the man who pleases them.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 301.
5 What challenge comes to all faithful ministers? II Timothy 2:15. What attitude should we take toward them? Hebrews 13:17.
Note: “God always has men to whom He entrusts His message. His Spirit moves upon their hearts, and constrains them to speak. Stimulated by holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they enter upon the performance of their duty without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord has given them. But the servant of God is soon made aware that he has risked something. He finds himself and his message made the subject of criticism. His manners, his life, his property are all inspected and commented upon. His message is picked to pieces and rejected in the most illiberal and unsanctified spirit, as men in their finite judgment see fit. Has that message done the work God designed it should accomplish? No; it has signally failed, because the hearts of the hearers were unsanctified.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1034.
6 What must faithful leaders and lay people be ready to face? Luke 6:22; I Peter 4:12–14.
Note: “Jesus has not left you to be amazed at the trials and difficulties you meet. He has told you all about them, and He has told you also not to be cast down and oppressed when trials come. Look to Jesus, your Redeemer, and be cheerful and rejoice. The trials hardest to bear are those that come from our brethren, our own familiar friends; but even these trials may be borne with patience. Jesus is not lying in Joseph’s new tomb. He has risen and has ascended to heaven, there to intercede in our behalf. We have a Saviour who so loved us that He died for us, that through Him we might have hope and strength and courage, and a place with Him upon His throne. He is able and willing to help you whenever you call upon Him.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 128.
7 What does God declare of His faithful few who stand for truth and righteousness? Hebrews 11:32–38; Psalm 116:15.
Note: “True prophets will ever prefer reproach, and even death, rather than unfaithfulness to God. The Infinite Eye is upon the instruments of divine reproof, and they bear a heavy responsibility. But God regards the injury done to them through misrepresentation, falsehood, or abuse as though it were done unto Himself, and will punish accordingly.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 167.
“The season of distress before God’s people will call for a faith that will not falter. His children must make it manifest that He is the only object of their worship, and that no consideration, not even that of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to false worship. To the loyal heart the commands of sinful, finite men will sink into insignificance beside the word of the eternal God. Truth will be obeyed though the result be imprisonment or exile or death.” Prophets and Kings, 512, 513.
8 As we study the lives of patriarchs and prophets, what assurance is given us? Hebrews 11:39, 40.
Note: “Bible history stays the fainting heart with the hope of God’s mercy. We need not despair when we see that others have struggled through discouragements like our own, have fallen into temptations even as we have done, and yet have recovered their ground and been blessed of God. The words of inspiration comfort and cheer the erring soul. Although the patriarchs and apostles were subject to human frailties, yet through faith they obtained a good report, fought their battles in the strength of the Lord, and conquered gloriously. Thus may we trust in the virtue of the atoning sacrifice and be overcomers in the name of Jesus.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 15.
9 What choice is before every human being? Luke 9:23–26.
Note: “The cross stands as a pledge that not one need be lost, that abundant help is provided for every soul. We can conquer the satanic agencies, or we can join ourselves with the powers that seek to counterwork the work of God in our world.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 96.
“The yoke and the cross are symbols representing the same thing,—the giving up of the will to God. Wearing the yoke unites finite man in companionship with the dearly beloved Son of God. Lifting the cross cuts away self from the soul, and places man where he learns how to bear Christ’s burdens. We cannot follow Christ without wearing His yoke, without lifting the cross and bearing it after Him. If our will is not in accord with the divine requirements, we are to deny our inclinations, give up our darling desires, and step in Christ’s footsteps.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1090, 1091.
10 By what means can God’s faithful servants overcome? Revelation 12:10, 11; I Corinthians 15:57.
Note: “None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 911.
“All who will can be overcomers. Let us strive earnestly to reach the standard set before us. Christ knows our weakness, and to Him we can go daily for help. It is not necessary for us to gain strength a month ahead. We are to conquer from day to day.
“We become overcomers by helping others to overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. The keeping of the commandments of God will yield in us an obedient spirit, and the service that is the offspring of such a spirit, God can accept.” Ibid., 974.
“Christ has power from His Father to give His divine grace and strength to man, making it possible for him through His name to overcome. …
“All are personally exposed to the temptations that Christ overcame, but strength is provided for them in the all-powerful name of the great Conqueror. And all must, for themselves, individually overcome.
“He knows every trial and sorrow of childhood and youth. He was once just your age. The temptations and trials which come to you came also to Him. The sorrows which come to you came to Him. But He was never overcome by temptation. His life held nothing that was not pure and noble. He is your helper, your Redeemer.
“His heart of divine love and sympathy is drawn out most of all for the one who is the most hopelessly entangled in the snares of the enemy. With His own blood He has signed the emancipation papers of the race.
“Jesus does not desire those who have been purchased at such a cost to become the sport of the enemy’s temptations. He does not desire us to be overcome and perish. He who curbed the lions in their den and walked with His faithful witnesses amid the fiery flames is just as ready to work in our behalf, to subdue every evil in our nature. Today He is standing at the altar of mercy, presenting before God the prayers of those who desire His help. He turns no weeping, contrite one away … The souls that turn to Him for refuge, Jesus lifts above the accusing and the strife of tongues. No man or evil angel can impeach these souls. Christ unites them to His own divine-human nature. …
“There is nothing that can keep you away from God but a rebellious will.
“The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the being will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power, the kingly power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience.
“You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises and your faith are of no account until you put your will on the right side. If you will fight the fight of faith with your will power, there is no doubt that you will conquer.
“Your part is to put your will on the side of Christ. When you yield your will to His, He immediately takes possession of you, and works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your nature is brought under the control of His Spirit. Even your thoughts are subject to Him. If you cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, you can control the will, and thus an entire change will be wrought in your life.” My Life Today, 317, 318.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.