Bible Study Guides – Our Time and Talents Belong to God

January 22, 2006 – January 28, 2006

Key Text

“He asked life of thee, [and] thou gavest [it] him, [even] length of days for ever and ever.” Psalm 21:4.

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 325–350.


“All men have been bought with this infinite price. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord’s property. All are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 326.

1 How does the psalmist acknowledge our accountability for the use of our time? Psalm 90:12.

note: “Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342.

“Your time is God’s, and as Christians, we must use it to the glory of God. God has graciously entrusted us with twenty four hours in each day and night. This is a precious treasure by which much good can be accomplished. How are we using God’s golden opportunities? We must, as Christians, set the Lord always before us, if we would not lose precious hours in uselessness, and have nothing to show for our time. . . .

“Time is a talent committed to our trust that may be shamefully misused. Every child of God, man, woman, youth or child, should consider and appreciate the value of the moments of time.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 80.

2 Who is the giver of time to mankind? Psalms 91:16; 21:4.

note: “If they [the children of Israel] would keep His commandments, God promised to give them the finest of the wheat, and bring them honey out of the rock. With long life would He satisfy them, and show them His salvation.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 289.

“The Lord has precious promises in this life for those who keep His law. He says, ‘My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep My commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.’ Proverbs 3:1–4.

“But a better than earthly reward awaits those who, basing their work on the solid Rock, build up symmetrical characters, in accordance with the living word. For them is prepared ‘a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.’ Hebrews 11:10.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 63.

3 What recognition of His ownership of our time does the Lord require of all? Exodus 20:8–10. When did God set apart the day for rest and worship? Verse 11; Genesis 2:1–3.

note: “In Eden, God set up the memorial of His work of creation, in placing His blessing upon the seventh day. The Sabbath was committed to Adam, the father and representative of the whole human family. Its observance was to be an act of grateful acknowledgment, on the part of all who should dwell upon the earth, that God was their Creator and their rightful Sovereign; that they were the work of His hands and the subjects of His authority. Thus the institution was wholly commemorative, and given to all mankind.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 48.

4 What blessing comes to those who, by Sabbath observance, recognize God’s ownership of time? Exodus 31:13. What blessings are promised to those who acknowledge the Sabbath as belonging to the Lord? Isaiah 58:13, 14.

note: “The value of the Sabbath as a means of education is beyond estimate. Whatever of ours God claims from us, He returns again, enriched, transfigured, with His own glory. The tithe that He claimed from Israel was devoted to preserving among men, in its glorious beauty, the pattern of His temple in the heavens, the token of His presence on the earth. So the portion of our time which He claims is given again to us, bearing His name and seal. . . . The Sabbath is a sign of creative and redeeming power; it points to God as the source of life and knowledge; it recalls man’s primeval glory, and thus witnesses to God’s purpose to re-create us in His own image.” Education, 250.

“The Sabbath was made for man, to be a blessing to him by calling his mind from secular labor to contemplate the goodness and glory of God. It is necessary that the people of God assemble to talk of Him, to interchange thoughts and ideas in regard to the truths contained in His word, and to devote a portion of time to appropriate prayer. But these seasons, even upon the Sabbath, should not be made tedious by their length and lack of interest. . . .

“All who love God should do what they can to make the Sabbath a delight, holy and honorable. They cannot do this by seeking their own pleasure in sinful, forbidden amusements. Yet they can do much to exalt the Sabbath in their families and make it the most interesting day of the week. We should devote time to interesting our children. A change will have a happy influence upon them. We can walk out with them in the open air; we can sit with them in the groves and in the bright sunshine, and give their restless minds something to feed upon by conversing with them upon the works of God, and can inspire them with love and reverence by calling their attention to the beautiful objects in nature.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 584, 585.

5 What instruction is given concerning the general use of our time? Romans 12:11.

note: “The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. . . .

“Every moment is freighted with eternal consequences. We are to stand as minute men, ready for service at a moment’s notice. The opportunity that is now ours to speak to some needy soul the word of life may never offer again. God may say to that one, ‘This night thy soul shall be required of thee,’ and through our neglect he may not be ready. (Luke 12:20.) In the great judgment day, how shall we render our account to God?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342, 343.

“The preciousness of life is to be appreciated because this life belongs to the Master. . . . There are in the providence of God particular periods when we must arise in response to the call of God, and make use of our time, our intellect, our whole being, body, soul, and spirit, fulfilling to the utmost of our ability the requirements of God.” Pamphlet 135, 10.

6 What lesson did Christ seek to teach His friends in Bethany? Luke 10:38–42.

note: “Life is too solemn to be absorbed in temporal and earthly matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the things that are but an atom in comparison with the things of eternal interest. Yet God has called us to serve Him in the temporal affairs of life. Diligence in this work is as much a part of true religion as is devotion.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 343.

7 What admonition is especially given to the people of these last days? Ephesians 5:16.

note: “We are admonished to redeem the time. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains, by being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342.

8 By what parable does Jesus teach our accountability to God for every mental and physical attainment? Matthew 25:14, 15.

note: “The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. . . .

“The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow men.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327, 328.

9 What course did the three servants mentioned in Question 8 pursue? On the lord’s return, what accounting was required? What rewards were given to the faithful? What punishment to the negligent? Matthew 25:16–30.

note: “We shall individually be held responsible for doing one jot less than we have ability to do. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for service. The unused capabilities are as much brought into account as are those that are improved. For all that we might become through the right use of our talents God holds us responsible. We shall be judged according to what we ought to have done, but did not accomplish because we did not use our powers to glorify God. Even if we do not lose our souls, we shall realize in eternity the result of our unused talents. For all the knowledge and ability that we might have gained and did not, there will be an eternal loss.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 363.

10 How completely will true love to God absorb our faculties? How will this love be manifested? Mark 12:30.

note: “Every man is required to do the work assigned him of God. We should be willing to render small services, doing the things that are to be done, which someone must do, improving the little opportunities. If these are the only opportunities we should still work faithfully. He who wastes hours, days, and weeks, because he is unwilling to do the work that offers, humble though it may be, will be called to render an account to God for his misspent time. . . . He is the Lord’s servant. He is not to waste his time.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 181.

11 What reward awaits the loyal servant who consecrates all to his Lord? Matthew 25:31–34.

note: “Heaven is worth everything to us. We must not run any risk in this matter. We must take no venture here. We must know that our steps are ordered by the Lord. May God help us in the great work of overcoming. He has crowns for those that overcome. He has white robes for the righteous. He has an eternal world of glory for those who seek for glory, honor, and immortality. Everyone who enters the city of God will enter it as a conqueror. He will not enter it as a condemned criminal, but as a son of God. And the welcome given to everyone who enters there will be, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:34.” Temperance, 114.

“The atonement of Christ makes all who will be saved His own chosen. All that stand as Christ’s faithful soldiers will consecrate themselves and all their small and their large possessions to the Lord, to advance His work in this world. Their humble homes, and necessary equipments for business will be used as lent of God. Surplus property will be disposed of for Him.” The Gospel Herald, December 1, 1901.

12 By what service will this loyalty of God’s children have been shown? Matthew 25:35–40.

note: “His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them. They are a part of the great web of humanity, and heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints.” The Ministry of Healing, 104.

“He who becomes a child of God should henceforth look upon himself as a link in the chain let down to save the world, one with Christ in His plan of mercy, going forth with Him to seek and save the lost. . . .

“We need not go to Nazareth, to Capernaum, or to Bethany, in order to walk in the steps of Jesus. We shall find His footprints beside the sickbed, in the hovels of poverty, in the crowded alleys of the great cities, and in every place where there are human hearts in need of consolation.

“We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing, and to inspire hope in the hopeless.” Ibid., 105, 106.

Bible Study Guides – God’s Claims Forgotten—A Call to Repentance and Reformation

January 15, 2006 – January 21, 2006

Key Text

“For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 367–378; 618–627; 661–668.


“In his study of the causes leading to the Babylonish captivity, Ezra had learned that Israel’s apostasy was largely traceable to their mingling with heathen nations. He had seen that if they had obeyed God’s command to keep separate from the nations surrounding them, they would have been spared many sad and humiliating experiences. Now when he learned that notwithstanding the lessons of the past, men of prominence had dared transgress the laws given as a safeguard against apostasy, his heart was stirred within him. He thought of God’s goodness in again giving His people a foothold in their native land, and he was overwhelmed with righteous indignation and with grief at their ingratitude. . . .

“The sorrow of Ezra and his associates over the evils that had insidiously crept into the very heart of the Lord’s work, wrought repentance. Many of those who had sinned were deeply affected. ‘The people wept very sore.’ Ezra 10:1. In a limited degree they began to realize the heinousness of sin and the horror with which God regards it. They saw the sacredness of the law spoken at Sinai, and many trembled at the thought of their transgressions.” Prophets and Kings, 620, 622.

1 What did God say would result from His blessings upon ancient Israel if they would carry out His will? Deuteronomy 28:10–13.

note: “God surrounded Israel with every facility, gave them every privilege, that would make them an honor to His name and a blessing to surrounding nations. If they would walk in the ways of obedience, He promised to make them ‘high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.’ [Deuteronomy 26:19.]” Education, 40.

2 What illustration of the ingathering of the strangers came to Israel early in their conquest of Canaan? Joshua 2:3, 8–14; 6:25.

note: “The children of Israel were to occupy all the territory which God appointed them. Those nations that rejected the worship and service of the true God were to be dispossessed. But it was God’s purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. All who, like Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God, were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased they were to enlarge their borders, until their kingdom should embrace the world.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 290.

3 Because of their failure to be loyal, whom did God leave in the land to prove Israel? Judges 2:20–23.

note: “God had placed His people in Canaan as a mighty breastwork to stay the tide of moral evil, that it might not flood the world. If faithful to Him, God intended that Israel should go on conquering and to conquer. He would give into their hands nations greater and more powerful than the Canaanites. . . .

“But regardless of their high destiny, they chose the course of ease and self-indulgence; they let slip their opportunities for completing the conquest of the land; and for many generations they were afflicted by the remnant of these idolatrous peoples . . . .” Patriarchs and Prophets, 544.

4 When the service of God was established in the temple of Jerusalem, how did God signalize His acceptance of His sanctuary in Israel? 11 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1–3. In his prayer at the dedication of the temple, what petition did Solomon offer for the stranger? 1 Kings 8:41–43.

note: “In the prophetic prayer offered at the dedication of the temple whose services Hezekiah and his associates were now restoring, Solomon had prayed, [1 Kings 8:33, 34 quoted]. The seal of divine approval had been placed upon this prayer; for at its close fire had come down from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the temple.” Prophets and Kings, 335.

“One of the most touching portions of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer was his plea to God for the strangers that should come from countries afar to learn more of Him whose fame had been spread abroad among the nations.” Ibid., 66.

5 What experiences show that rulers and people forgot the evidences of divine leadership? 1 Kings 11:1–8. As a result of their departure from God, what conditions eventually prevailed in Israel and Judah? 1 Kings 14:21–24; 12:26–31.

note: “So gradual was Solomon’s apostasy that before he was aware of it, he had wandered far from God. Almost imperceptibly he began to trust less and less in divine guidance and blessing, and to put confidence in his own strength. Little by little he withheld from God that unswerving obedience which was to make Israel a peculiar people, and he conformed more and more closely to the customs of the surrounding nations. Yielding to the temptations incident to his success and his honored position, he forgot the Source of his prosperity. An ambition to excel all other nations in power and grandeur led him to pervert for selfish purposes the heavenly gifts hitherto employed for the glory of God. The money which should have been held in sacred trust for the benefit of the worthy poor and for the extension of principles of holy living throughout the world, was selfishly absorbed in ambitious projects.” Prophets and Kings, 55.

6 When God could no longer bear with Israel’s rebellions and apostasy, what came upon them? 11 Kings 17:5; Hosea 4:17; Amos 7:11.

note: The Lord permitted Samaria to be invaded “by the hosts of Assyria under Shalmaneser; and in the siege that followed, multitudes perished miserably of hunger and disease as well as by the sword. The city and nation fell, and the broken remnant of the ten tribes were carried away captive and scattered in the provinces of the Assyrian realm. . . .

“The Assyrians were merely the instruments that God used to carry out His purpose. . . .

“Not all who were carried captive were impenitent. Among them were some who had remained true to God, and others who had humbled themselves before Him. Through these, ‘the sons of the living God’ (Hosea 1:10), He would bring multitudes in the Assyrian realm to a knowledge of the attributes of His character and the beneficence of His law.” Prophets and Kings, 291, 292.

7 As Judah failed to learn from the experience of Israel, what fate eventually overtook them and the holy city? 11 Kings 24:10, 14; 25:8–11.

note: “The king was even too weak to be willing that his courtiers and people should know that he had held a conference with Jeremiah, so fully had the fear of man taken possession of his soul. If Zedekiah had stood up bravely and declared that he believed the words of the prophet, already half fulfilled, what desolation might have been averted! . . .

“The enemy swept down like a resistless avalanche and devastated the city. The Hebrew armies were beaten back in confusion. The nation was conquered. . . . The beautiful temple that for more than four centuries had crowned the summit of Mount Zion was not spared by the Chaldeans. . . .

“Zion was utterly destroyed; the people of God were in their captivity.” Prophets and Kings, 458, 459, 461.

8 What promise had been made concerning the duration of the captivity? Jeremiah 29:10; 11 Chronicles 36:21. In order that the prophecy might be fulfilled, whom did God influence in behalf of Israel? Ezra 1:1–4. Under what Persian King was the promise to Jeremiah definitely and finally fulfilled? Ezra 7:11, 21–26.

note: “Jeremiah declared that they were to wear the yoke of servitude for seventy years; and the captives that were already in the hands of the king of Babylon, and the vessels of the Lord’s house which had been taken, were also to remain in Babylon till that time had elapsed. But at the end of the seventy years God would deliver them from their captivity and would punish their oppressors and bring into subjection the proud king of Babylon.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 169.

“Just as long as we are in this world, and the Spirit of God is striving with the world, we are to receive as well as to impart favors. We are to give to the world the light of truth as presented in the Sacred Scriptures, and we are to receive from the world that which God moves upon them to do in behalf of His cause. The Lord still moves upon the hearts of kings and rulers in behalf of His people, and it becomes those who are so deeply interested in the religious liberty question not to cut off any favors, or withdraw themselves from the help that God has moved men to give, for the advancement of His cause.

“We find examples in the word of God concerning this very matter. Cyrus, king of Persia, made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it into writing, saying: [Ezra 1:2, 3 quoted]. A second commandment was issued by Darius for the building of the house of the Lord, and is recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 202, 203.

“The decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus for the restoring and building of Jerusalem, the third issued since the close of the seventy years’ captivity, is remarkable for its expressions regarding the God of heaven, for its recognition of the attainments of Ezra, and for the liberality of the grants made to the remnant people of God.” Prophets and Kings, 610.

9 Because of their past sins and their punishments, what did the people seek to learn when they were restored to their own land? Nehemiah 8:1–3, 8.

note: “Wherever Ezra labored, there sprang up a revival in the study of the Holy Scriptures. Teachers were appointed to instruct the people; the law of the Lord was exalted and made honorable. The books of the prophets were searched, and the passages foretelling the coming of the Messiah brought hope and comfort to many a sad and weary heart.” Prophets and Kings, 623.

10 What followed the people’s study of the Law of God? What was to be their attitude toward the Sabbath? What pledge of support did they make for the house and worship of God? Nehemiah 10:28–33.

note: “The people took a solemn oath ‘to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His judgments and His statutes.’ [Nehemiah 10:29.] The oath taken at this time included a promise not to intermarry with the people of the land. . . .

“The people still further manifested their determination to return to the Lord, by pledging themselves to cease from desecrating the Sabbath. . . .

“Provision was also made to support the public worship of God. In addition to the tithe the congregation pledged themselves to contribute yearly a stated sum for the service of the sanctuary.” Prophets and Kings, 667.

11 While binding themselves thus carefully by vows to prevent apostasy, what weighty obligations were eventually forgotten? Matthew 23:23, 25–28.

note: “The Pharisees were very exact in tithing garden herbs, such as mint, anise, and rue; this cost them little, and it gave them a reputation for exactness and sanctity. At the same time their useless restrictions oppressed the people and destroyed respect for the sacred system of God’s own appointing. They occupied men’s minds with trifling distinctions, and turned their attention from essential truths. The weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and truth, were neglected.” The Desire of Ages, 617.

12 What was the attitude of the later Jews toward the stranger in their midst? John 4:9; Acts 10:28.

note: “The Jews and the Samaritans were bitter enemies, and as far as possible avoided all dealing with each other. To trade with the Samaritans in case of necessity was indeed counted lawful by the rabbis; but all social intercourse with them was condemned. A Jew would not borrow from a Samaritan, nor receive a kindness, not even a morsel of bread or a cup of water. The disciples, in buying food, were acting in harmony with the custom of their nation. But beyond this they did not go. To ask a favor of the Samaritans, or in any way seek to benefit them, did not enter into the thought of even Christ’s disciples.” The Desire of Ages, 183.

“The people who had been given every opportunity to understand the truth were without a knowledge of the needs of those around them. No effort was made to help souls in darkness. The partition wall which Jewish pride had erected, shut even the disciples from sympathy with the heathen world. But these barriers were to be broken down.” Ibid., 400.

Bible Study Guides – The Call of Ancient Israel to the Service of God

January 8, 2006 – January 14, 2006

Key Text

“Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 63–73; Prophets and Kings, 367–378.


“God called Israel, and blessed and exalted them, not that by obedience to His law they alone might receive His favor and become the exclusive recipients of His blessings, but in order to reveal Himself through them to all the inhabitants of the earth. It was for the accomplishment of this very purpose that He commanded them to keep themselves distinct from the idolatrous nations around them. . . .

“But God did not intend that His people, in self-righteous exclusiveness, should shut themselves away from the world, so that they could have no influence upon it.

“Like their Master, the followers of Christ in every age were to be the light of the world.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 369.

1 Before God created the earth, what provision was made so that His purpose for man should not fail? 11 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4.

note: “The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of ‘the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.’ Romans 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

2 Whom did Adam and Eve obey instead of the Creator? Genesis 3:1–6. Having thus yielded, into what condition did they fall? 11 Peter 2:19, last part. How much did man lose by the fall? Romans 5:12; Genesis 3:17, 18.

note: “Not only man but the earth had by sin come under the power of the wicked one, and was to be restored by the plan of redemption. At his creation Adam was placed in dominion over the earth. But by yielding to temptation, he was brought under the power of Satan. [11 Peter 2:19 quoted.] When man became Satan’s captive, the dominion which he held, passed to his conqueror. Thus Satan became ‘the god of this world.’ 11 Corinthians 4:4. He had usurped that dominion over the earth which had been originally given to Adam. . . .

“Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 67.

3 Because of Adam’s transgression, what conditions developed among men before the Flood? Genesis 6:5–7. How had those who were loyal to God acknowledged His supreme power during these years? Genesis 4:3, 4.

note: “The sin of the antediluvians was in perverting that which in itself was lawful. They corrupted God’s gifts by using them to minister to their selfish desires. The indulgence of appetite and base passion made their imaginations altogether corrupt. The antediluvians were slaves of Satan, led and controlled by him (MS 24, 1891).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1090.

“They [Cain and Abel] knew that in these offerings they were to express faith in the Saviour whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge their total dependence on Him for pardon; and they knew that by thus conforming to the divine plan for their redemption, they were giving proof of their obedience to the will of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 71.

4 After the Flood, what acknowledgment did Noah make of God’s saving and keeping power? Genesis 8:20.

note: “In the joy of their release Noah did not forget Him by whose gracious care they had been preserved. His first act after leaving the ark was to build an altar and offer from every kind of clean beast and fowl a sacrifice, thus manifesting his gratitude to God for deliverance and his faith in Christ, the great sacrifice. This offering was pleasing to the Lord; and a blessing resulted, not only to the patriarch and his family, but to all who should live upon the earth. . . . Here was a lesson for all succeeding generations. Noah had come forth upon a desolate earth, but before preparing a house for himself he built an altar to God. His stock of cattle was small, and had been preserved at great expense; yet he cheerfully gave a part to the Lord as an acknowledgment that all was His.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 105, 106.

5 As men again departed from God, and forgot their Maker, what call was made to Abram? In calling him, what purpose did God have in mind for the world? Genesis 12:1–5. What evidences do we have that Abraham fully acknowledged God’s love and power, and His ownership of all things? Genesis 12:8; 14:17–20.

note: “God called Abraham, and prospered and honored him; and the patriarch’s fidelity was a light to the people in all the countries of his sojourn. Abraham did not shut himself away from the people around him. He maintained friendly relations with the kings of the surrounding nations, by some of whom he was treated with great respect; and his integrity and unselfishness, his valor and benevolence, were representing the character of God. In Mesopotamia, in Canaan, in Egypt, and even to the inhabitants of Sodom, the God of heaven was revealed through His representative.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 368.

“The tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as His, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God.” Ibid., 525.

6 What experience came to Jacob on his journey to Haran? What act of worship did he perform? What pledge did he make to God? Genesis 28:10–22.

note: “Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a wanderer, promised the Lord, ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ Genesis 28:22.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 525.

“Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and penniless wanderer, lay down at night, solitary and alone, with a rock for his pillow, and there promised the Lord: ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ [Genesis 28:22.] God does not compel men to give. All that they give must be voluntary. He will not have His treasury replenished with unwilling offerings.

“The Lord designed to bring man into close relationship with Himself and into sympathy and love with his fellow men by placing upon him responsibilities in deeds that would counteract selfishness and strengthen his love for God and man. The plan of system in benevolence God designed for the good of man, who is inclined to be selfish and to close his heart to generous deeds.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 393.

“Our business or calling is a part of God’s great plan, and, so long as it is conducted in accordance with His will, He Himself is responsible for the results. ‘Laborers together with God’ (1 Corinthians 3:9), our part is faithful compliance with His directions. Thus there is no place for anxious care. Diligence, fidelity, caretaking, thrift, and discretion are called for. Every faculty is to be exercised to its highest capacity. But the dependence will be, not on the successful outcome of our efforts, but on the promise of God. . . .

“He who gives men power to get wealth has with the gift bound up an obligation. Of all that we acquire He claims a specified portion. The tithe is the Lord’s.” Education, 138.

7 For what purpose did God call Israel and set them in Palestine at the crossroads of the nations? Isaiah 43:10–12; 44:8.

note: “Often the Israelites seemed unable or unwilling to understand God’s purpose for the heathen. Yet it was this very purpose that had made them a separate people and had established them as an independent nation among the nations of the earth. Abraham, their father, to whom the covenant promise was first given, had been called to go forth from his kindred, to the regions beyond, that he might be a light bearer to the heathen. Although the promise to him included a posterity as numerous as the sand by the sea, yet it was for no selfish purpose that he was to become the founder of a great nation in the land of Canaan. God’s covenant with him embraced all the nations of earth.” Prophets and Kings, 367, 368.

8 In order that Israel might truly represent God, what must they do? What did God promise to do for them? Deuteronomy 26:17–19.

note: “To this people were committed the oracles of God. They were hedged about by the precepts of His law, the everlasting principles of truth, justice, and purity. Obedience to these principles was to be their protection, for it would save them from destroying themselves by sinful practices. And as the tower in the vineyard, God placed in the midst of the land His holy temple.

“Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide.” Prophets and Kings, 18.

“God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.

“Their obedience to the laws of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 221, 222.

9 In what respect was Israel to be a separate and distinct people? Exodus 33:16.

note: “How frequently ancient Israel rebelled, and how often they were visited with judgments, and thousands slain, because they would not heed the commands of God who had chosen them! The Israel of God in these last days are in constant danger of mingling with the world and losing all signs of being the chosen people of God. Read again Titus 2:13–15. We are here brought down to the last days, when God is purifying unto Himself a peculiar people. Shall we provoke Him as did ancient Israel? Shall we bring His wrath upon us by departing from Him and mingling with the world, and following the abominations of the nations around us?

“The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself; this consecration to God and separation from the world is plainly and positively enjoined in both the Old and the New Testament. There is a wall of separation which the Lord Himself has established between the things of the world and the things He has chosen out of the world and sanctified unto Himself. The calling and character of God’s people are peculiar, their prospects are peculiar, and these peculiarities distinguish them from all other people.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 283.

10 What was to be Israel’s relation to the nations about them? Why? Deuteronomy 7:2–4.

note: “God called Israel, and blessed and exalted them, not that by obedience to His law they alone might receive His favor and become the exclusive recipients of His blessings, but in order to reveal Himself through them to all the inhabitants of the earth. It was for the accomplishment of this very purpose that He commanded them to keep themselves distinct from the idolatrous nations around them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 369.

11 How were the Lord’s people to relate themselves to the strangers who came and dwelt among them? Exodus 12:44–49; 20:10; Leviticus 19:34.

note: “God had made provision that all who would renounce heathenism, and connect themselves with Israel, should share the blessings of the covenant. They were included under the term, ‘the stranger that sojourneth among you’ [Leviticus 18:26], and with few exceptions this class were to enjoy equal favors and privileges with Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 507.

12 If Israel had followed God’s plan in relating themselves to the stranger and to the idolatrous nations, what would have been their relation to God? Exodus 19:5, 6.

note: “If obedient to His requirements, they were to be placed far in advance of other peoples in wisdom and understanding; but this supremacy was to be reached and maintained only in order that through them the purpose of God for ‘all nations of the earth’ might be fulfilled.” Prophets and Kings, 368, 369.

Bible Study Guides – The Creator and Upholder of All

January 1, 2006 – January 7, 2006

Key Text

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1–3.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 44–51.


“God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. . . .

“No finite mind can fully comprehend the existence, the power, the wisdom, or the works of the Infinite One. . . . The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning, and still there is an infinity beyond.

“Yet the works of creation testify of God’s power and greatness. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.’ Psalm 19:1. Those who take the written word as their counselor will find in science an aid to understand God. ‘The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.’ Romans 1:20.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 115, 116.

1 To whom does the earth belong? Whose also are we? Psalm 24:1.

note: “Who is it that owns our world? Who are the real owners of houses and lands? Is it not God? He has an abundance in our world which He has placed in the hands of men . . . .” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 197.

“The fields nigh and afar off belong to God; for the world is His.” Ibid., 218.

“The Majesty of heaven yielded up his high command, his glory with the Father, and even his own life, to save us. And now what will we do for him? God forbid that his professed children should live for themselves! There is work to be done for the Master, by our means and by our influence. God’s claim underlies every other. The first and best of everything rightfully belongs to him. When Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven, he will have no use for the money which he has intrusted to us. It is in this life that he requires all our talents to be put out to the exchangers.” Review and Herald, February 9, 1886.

2 On what basis does God claim the earth and its inhabitants? Psalm 24:2.

note: “Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity. Nature testifies of God. The susceptible mind, brought in contact with the miracle and mystery of the universe, cannot but recognize the working of infinite power. Not by its own inherent energy does the earth produce its bounties, and year by year continue its motion around the sun. An unseen hand guides the planets in their circuit of the heavens. A mysterious life pervades all nature—a life that sustains the unnumbered worlds throughout immensity, that lives in the insect atom which floats in the summer breeze, that wings the flight of the swallow and feeds the young ravens which cry, that brings the bud to blossom and the flower to fruit.

“The same power that upholds nature, is working also in man. The same great laws that guide alike the star and the atom control human life. The laws that govern the heart’s action, regulating the flow of the current of life to the body, are the laws of the mighty Intelligence that has the jurisdiction of the soul. From Him all life proceeds. Only in harmony with Him can be found its true sphere of action. For all the objects of His creation the condition is the same—a life sustained by receiving the life of God, a life exercised in harmony with the Creator’s will. To transgress His law, physical, mental, or moral, is to place one’s self out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin.” Education, 99.

3 By what means was the earth created? Psalm 33:6, 9.

note: “The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 258, 259.

4 By virtue of His creative power, how fully does God claim ownership of all? Psalm 50:10–12. What claim does He make upon the hidden treasures of the earth? Haggai 2:8.

note: “God has stamped his image upon every work of his hand. In every object in nature, we see evidences of his mighty power. The fields of waving grain bow their heads in acknowledgment of the God who gives to man his bread in due season. The trees, bending beneath their weight of precious fruit, bear unmistakable evidence of the love of a beneficent Creator. Every tree and shrub declares the work of infinite power. Upon every blade of grass God’s name is written. The opening buds and blooming flowers, with their varied tints, outvying even the glory of Solomon, show forth the skill of the divine Artist. The cattle upon a thousand hills, all with their distinctive characteristics, express the wonders of their Maker, and declare that he is God indeed.” The Youth’s Instructor, December 24, 1896.

“Every good thing of earth was placed here by the bountiful hand of God as an expression of His love to man. . . . The gold and the silver are the Lord’s, and He could rain them from heaven if He chose.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 255.

5 How does David beautifully acknowledge the ownership of God? 1 Chronicles 29:11–14.

note: “All that man receives of God’s bounty still belongs to God. Whatever God has bestowed in the valuable and beautiful things of earth is placed in the hands of men to test them—to sound the depths of their love for Him and their appreciation of His favors. Whether it be the treasures of wealth or of intellect, they are to be laid, a willing offering, at the feet of Jesus; the giver saying, meanwhile, with David, ‘All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.’ [1 Chronicles 29:14.]” Patriarchs and Prophets, 753.

6 Who are associated with God as the agent in creation? Colossians 1:12–17. How fully did Christ enter into the work of creation with the Father? John 1:1–3.

note: “In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. ‘His strength setteth fast the mountains.’ ‘The sea is His, and He made it.’ Psalms 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.” The Desire of Ages, 20.

“The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. [John 1:1, 2 quoted.] Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

7 What material witness is given to the power and majesty of God by His creation? Psalm 19:1–3.

note: “The beauty that clothes the earth is token of God’s love. We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God. The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids men open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom, the power, and the love of the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 48.

8 When man was created, over what did God give him dominion? Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:6–8.

note: “After the earth with its teeming animal and vegetable life had been called into existence, man, the crowning work of the Creator, and the one for whom the beautiful earth had been fitted up, was brought upon the stage of action. To him was given dominion over all that his eye could behold. . . .

“He was placed, as God’s representative, over the lower orders of being. They cannot understand or acknowledge the sovereignty of God, yet they were made capable of loving and serving man.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 44, 45.

9 What specific work did God give into the hands of Adam? Genesis 2:15.

note: “To the dwellers in Eden was committed the care of the garden . . . . Their occupation was not wearisome, but pleasant and invigorating. God appointed labor as a blessing to man, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop his faculties. In mental and physical activity Adam found one of the highest pleasures of his holy existence. And when, as a result of his disobedience, he was driven from his beautiful home, and forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread, that very labor, although widely different from his pleasant occupation in the garden, was a safeguard against temptation and a source of happiness.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 50.

10 What limitation was placed upon man’s control of the possessions entrusted to him? Genesis 2:16, 17.

note: “In the midst of the garden, near the tree of life, stood the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree was especially designed of God to be the pledge of their obedience, faith, and love to Him. Of this tree the Lord commanded our first parents not to eat, neither to touch it, lest they die. He told them that they might freely eat of all the trees in the garden except one, but if they ate of that tree they should surely die.” The Story of Redemption, 24.

“God had made them [Adam and Eve] the recipients of rich blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would forfeit His gifts and bring upon them misery and ruin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 53.

11 As the earth is the Lord’s, what, then, is man’s relationship to Him? Luke 19:12, 13. As a servant, or steward, of God, what is required of every man? 1 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 12:48, last half.

note: “God calls us servants, which implies that we are employed by Him to do a certain work and bear certain responsibilities. He has lent us capital for investment. It is not our property, and we displease God if we hoard up our Lord’s goods or spend them as we please. We are responsible for the use or abuse of that which God has thus lent us. If this capital which the Lord has placed in our hands lies dormant, or we bury it in the earth, even if it is only one talent, we shall be called to an account by the Master. He requires, not ours, but His own with usury.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 668.

“Every Christian is a steward of God, entrusted with His goods. Remember the words: ‘Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.’ 1 Corinthians 4:2. Let us be sure that we are not robbing God in any jots or tittles, for much is involved in this question.

“All things belong to God. Men may ignore His claims. While He bountifully bestows His blessings upon them, they may use His gifts for their own selfish gratification; but they will be called to give an account for their stewardship.

“A steward identifies himself with his master. He accepts the responsibilities of a steward, and he must act in his master’s stead, doing as his master would do were he presiding. His master’s interests become his. The position of a steward is one of dignity because his master trusts him. If in any wise he acts selfishly and turns the advantages gained by trading with his lord’s goods to his own advantage, he has perverted the trust reposed in him.” Ibid., vol. 9, 246.

12 In view of all that God has entrusted to mankind, what ought we to do? What should we constantly consider? 1 Samuel 12:24.

note: “It is God that speaks. He who understands the thoughts afar off, and places the right estimate upon men, says, ‘I know him.’ There will be . . . no betraying of the truth for selfish purposes. He will keep the law, and deal justly and righteously; for he knows that he must answer to God for his conduct. And he will not only fear the Lord himself, but he will cultivate religion in his home. He will instruct his family in righteousness; the law of his God will be the rule in his household. Would that this testimony could be borne of all who in this day have the knowledge of the way of the Lord, and profess to walk in it.” The Signs of the Times, April 22, 1886.

Food for Life – Raw Cabbage Salad

It is important that we eat whole raw fruits and vegetables. One study documented the blood sugar effects of eating an equal amount of calories from apples, applesauce, and apple juice. Blood sugar peaked at approximately the same time and level with each form of apple. Blood sugar then sharply decreased with all three types of apple consumption. This is where the similarities stopped. The group that consumed whole raw apples experienced less of a blood sugar fall and maintained a more normal blood sugar after the initial blood sugar drop.

This study documents that there are benefits in eating whole raw food. Eating whole fruits also dramatically reduces the risk of certain cancers.

A second food group that is especially beneficial to eat raw is the cruciferous vegetables. These members of the cabbage family are cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, bok choy, and collards. One study has shown that those who eat cabbage at least once per week have two-thirds less colon cancer than those who eat it once per month or less.

The prophet of the Lord makes the following statements:

“Families and institutions should learn to do more in the cultivation and improvement of land. If people only knew the value of the products of the ground, which the earth brings forth in their season, more diligent efforts would be made to cultivate the soil. All should be acquainted with the special value of fruits and vegetables fresh from the orchard and garden.” Child Guidance, 357.

“I [Ellen White] am so thankful to God that when Adam lost his Eden home, the Lord did not cut off the supply of fruit.

“The Lord desires those living in countries where fresh fruit can be obtained during a large part of the year, to awake to the blessing they have in this fruit. The more we depend upon the fresh fruit just as it is plucked from the tree, the greater will be the blessing.

“It would be well for us to do less cooking and to eat more fruit in its natural state. Let us teach the people to eat freely of the fresh grapes, apples, peaches, pears, berries, and all other kinds of fruit that can be obtained.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 309.

“The Lord intends to bring his people back to live upon simple fruits, vegetables, and grains.” The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 361.

Raw Cabbage Salad

1 medium head of cabbage, finely chopped

1 large onion

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon chicken-like seasoning

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 Tablespoons sweetener of choice

Blend seasonings, onion, and liquids in blender and stir into the cabbage.

Just before serving, add the following to the cabbage:

2/3 cup sunflower seeds

2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 package uncooked, broken up Ramen Noodles

In addition to her varied duties at Steps to Life, Evelyn Grosboll, a Registered Nurse, touches many lives through her work as a school nurse in Wichita, Kansas.

The Pen of Inspiration – The Story of Jesus

In the little town of Nazareth, nestled among the hills of Galilee, was the home of Joseph and Mary, who were after-ward known as the earthly parents of Jesus.

Journey to Bethlehem

Now Joseph was of the lineage, or family, of David; and so, when a decree was sent out for the people to be taxed, he had to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, to have his name enrolled. This was a toilsome journey, as people traveled in those times. Mary, who went with her husband, was very weary as she climbed the hill on which Bethlehem stands.

How she longed for a comfortable place in which to rest! But the inns were already full. The rich and proud were well cared for, while these humble travelers had to find rest in a rude building where cattle were sheltered.

Joseph and Mary possessed little of earth’s riches, but they had the love of God, and this made them rich in contentment and peace. They were children of the heavenly King, who was about to give them a wonderful honor.

Angels had been watching them while they were on their journey, and when night came on, and they went to rest, they were not left alone. Angels were still with them.

Jesus’ Birth

There, in that lowly shed, Jesus the Saviour was born and laid in a manger. In that rude cradle lay the Son of the Highest—He whose presence had filled the courts of Heaven with glory.

Before He came to the earth, Jesus was the Commander of the angel hosts. The brightest and most exalted of the sons of the morning heralded His glory at the creation. They veiled their faces before Him as He sat upon His throne. They cast their crowns at His feet, and sang His triumphs as they beheld His greatness.

Yet this glorious Being loved the poor sinner, and took upon Him the form of a servant, that He might suffer and die for us.

Jesus might have remained at the Father’s side, wearing the kingly crown and the royal robe; but for our sake He chose to exchange the riches of Heaven for the poverty of earth.

He chose to leave His station of high command, to leave the angels who loved Him. The adoration of the heavenly throng He chose to exchange for mockery and abuse by wicked men. From love to us, He accepted a life of hardship and a death of shame.

All this Christ did to show how much God loves us. He lived on earth to show how we may honor God by obedience to His will. He did this so that by following His example we may at last dwell with Him in His heavenly home.

The Welcome

The priests and rulers among the Jews were not ready to welcome Jesus. They knew that the Saviour was soon to come, but they expected Him to be a mighty king who would make them rich and great. They were too proud to think of the Messiah as being a helpless child.

So when Christ was born, God did not reveal it to them. He sent the glad news to some shepherds who kept their flocks on the hills around Bethlehem.

These were good men, and as they watched their sheep by night, they talked together about the promised Saviour, and prayed so earnestly for His coming that God sent bright messengers from His own throne of light to teach them.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:9–19.

Jesus Presented in the Temple

Joseph and Mary were Jews, and followed the customs of their nation. When Jesus was six weeks old, they brought Him to the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem.

This was according to the law which God had given to Israel, and Jesus was to be obedient in all things. So God’s own Son, the Prince of Heaven, by His example teaches that we should obey.

Only the first-born son of each family was thus presented at the temple. This ceremony was to keep in memory an event that had taken place long before.

Let My People Go

When the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt, the Lord sent Moses to set them free. He bade Moses go to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and say:

“Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” Exodus 4:22, 23.

Moses carried this message to the king. But Pharaoh’s answer was, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2.

The Passover

Then the Lord sent fearful plagues upon the Egyptians. The last of these plagues was the slaying of the first-born son of every family, from that of the king to the lowliest in the land.

The Lord told Moses that every family of the Israelites must kill a lamb, and put some of the blood upon the door-posts of their dwellings.

This was a sign, that the angel of death might pass over all the houses of the Israelites, and destroy none but the proud and cruel Egyptians.

This blood of the “Passover” represented to the Jews the blood of Christ. For in due time, God would give His dear Son to be slain as the lamb had been slain; so that all who should believe in Him might be saved from everlasting death. Christ is called our Passover. (1 Corinthians 5:7.) By His blood, through faith, we are redeemed. (Ephesians 1:7.)

Names Recorded

So as each family in Israel brought the eldest son to the temple, they were to remember how the children had been saved from the plague, and how all might be saved from sin and eternal death. The child presented at the temple was taken in the arms of the priest, and held up before the altar.

Thus it was solemnly dedicated to God. Then after it was given back to the mother, its name was written in the roll, or book, that contained the names of the first-born of Israel. So all who are saved by Christ’s blood will have their names written in the book of life.

Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the priest as the law required. Every day fathers and mothers were coming with their children, and in Joseph and Mary the priest saw nothing different from many others. They were simply working people.

In the child Jesus he saw only a helpless infant. Little did the priest think that he was then holding in his arms the Saviour of the world, the High Priest of the heavenly temple. But he might have known; for if he had been obedient to God’s Word, the Lord would have taught him these things.

Two True Servants

At this very time there were in the temple two of God’s true servants, Simeon and Anna. Both had grown old in His service, and He showed them things that could not be made known to the proud and selfish priests.

To Simeon had been given the promise that he should not die until he had seen the Saviour. As soon as he saw Jesus in the temple, he knew that this was the promised One.

Upon the face of Jesus there was a soft, heavenly light; and Simeon, taking the child in his arms, praised God, and said:

“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” Luke 2:29–32.

Anna, a prophetess, “coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Luke 2:38.

So it is that God chooses humble people to be His witnesses. Often those whom the world calls great are passed by. Many are like the Jewish priests and rulers.

Many are eager to serve and honor themselves, but think little about serving and honoring God. Therefore He cannot choose them to tell others of His love and mercy.

Prophecy of Isaiah

Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered the far-reaching prophecy of Simeon. As she looked upon the child in her arms, and recalled what the shepherds of Bethlehem had said, she was full of grateful joy and bright hope.

Simeon’s words called to her mind the prophecy of Isaiah. She knew that of Jesus were spoken these wonderful words:

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2, 6. . . .

Others Knew

God meant for others, as well as the Jews, to know that Christ had come. In a country far to the east were wise men who had studied the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and who believed that His coming was near.

The Jews called these men heathen; but they were not idolaters. They were honest men, who wanted to know the truth, and to do the will of God.

God looks upon the heart, and He knew that these men could be trusted. They were in a better condition to receive light from Heaven than were the Jewish priests, who were so full of selfishness and pride.

Study the Stars

These wise men were philosophers. They had studied the handiwork of God in nature, and had learned to love Him there. They had studied the stars, and knew their movements.

They loved to watch the heavenly bodies in their nightly march. If a new star should be seen, they would welcome its appearance as a great event.

On that night when the angels came to the shepherds of Bethlehem, the wise men had noticed a strange light in the sky. It was the glory which surrounded the angel host.

When this light faded away, they had seen in the heavens what looked like a new star. At once they thought of the prophecy which says, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17. Was this star a sign that the Messiah had come? They determined to follow it, and see where it would lead them. It led them into Judea. But when they came near to Jerusalem, the star grew so dim that they could not follow it.

Supposing that the Jews could at once guide them to the Saviour, the wise men went into Jerusalem, and said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet.” Matthew 2:2–5.

Herod did not like to hear of a king who might some day take his throne. So he took the wise men by themselves, and asked when they first saw the star. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying: “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When the wise men heard this, they started again on their journey. “And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

“When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshiped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:6–11.

Gifts for the King

The most precious things they had, the wise men brought to the Saviour. In this they set an example for us. Many give presents to their earthly friends, but have none for the heavenly Friend who has given them every blessing. We should not do this. To Christ we should bring the best of all we have—of our time, money, and our love.

We may give to Him by giving to comfort the poor, and to teach people about the Saviour. So we can help to save those for whom He died. Such gifts Jesus blesses.

Flight Into Egypt

Herod had not been honest in saying that he wanted to go and worship Jesus. He feared that the Saviour would grow up to be a king, and take his kingdom from him.

He wanted to find the child, that he might have Him put to death.

The wise men prepared to return and tell Herod. But the angel of the Lord appeared to them in a dream, and sent them home another way.

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13.

Joseph did not wait till morning; he rose at once, and with Mary and the child, started by night on the long journey.

The wise men had given costly presents to Jesus, and in this way God provided for the expenses of the journey and their stay in Egypt, until they should return to their own land.

Anger of Herod

Herod was very angry when he found that the wise men had gone home another way. He knew what God by His prophet had said about Christ’s coming.

He knew how the star had been sent as a guide to the wise men. Yet he was determined to destroy Jesus. In his wrath he sent soldiers to kill “all the children that were in Bethlehem, . . . from two years old and under.” Matthew 2:16.

How strange that a man should fight against God! What an awful scene this slaying of the innocent children must have been! Herod had before done many cruel things; but his wicked life was soon to end. He died a terrible death.

Joseph and Mary remained in Egypt till after the death of Herod. Then the angel appeared to Joseph, and said, “Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.” Matthew 2:20.

Joseph had hoped to make his home in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born; but on coming near to Judea, he learned that a son of Herod was reigning in place of his father.

This made Joseph afraid to go there, and he did not know what to do; so God sent an angel to instruct him. Following the directions of the angel, Joseph returned to his old home in Nazareth.

Child Life of Jesus

Jesus in His childhood lived in a little mountain village. He was the Son of God, and He might have had any place on earth for His home.

He would have been an honor to any place. But He did not go to the homes of rich men or the palaces of kings. He chose to dwell among the poor in Nazareth.

Jesus wants the poor to know that He understands their trials. He has borne all that they have to bear. He can sympathize with them and help them.

A Growing Child

Of Jesus in His early years the Bible says, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:40, 52.

His mind was bright and active. He was of quick understanding, and showed a thoughtfulness and wisdom beyond His years. Yet His ways were simple and childlike, and He grew in mind and body as other children grow.

Standing for Right

But Jesus was not in all things like other children. He always showed a sweet, unselfish spirit. His willing hands were always ready to serve others. He was patient and truthful.

Firm as a rock in standing for the right, He never failed to be gentle and courteous toward all. In His home, and wherever He might be, He was like a cheerful sunbeam.

He was thoughtful and kind toward the aged and the poor, and He showed kindness even to the dumb animals. He would care tenderly for a little wounded bird, and every living thing was happier when He was near.


In the days of Christ the Jews gave much care to the education of their children. Their schools were connected with the synagogues, or places of worship, and the teachers were called rabbis, men who were supposed to be very learned.

Jesus did not go to these schools, for they taught many things that were not true. Instead of God’s Word, the sayings of men were studied, and often these were contrary to that which God had taught through His prophets.

God Himself by His Holy Spirit instructed Mary how to bring up His Son. Mary taught Jesus from the Holy Scriptures, and He learned to read and study them for Himself.

Jesus also loved to study the wonderful things which God had made, in the earth and in the sky. In this book of nature He saw the trees and plants and animals, and the sun and the stars.

Day by day He watched them, and tried to learn lessons from them, and to understand the reason of things.

Knowledge and Wisdom

Holy angels were with Him, and helped Him to learn from these things about God. Thus, as He grew in height and strength, He grew also in knowledge and wisdom.

Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. We should spend our time in learning only that which is true. Falsehood and fables will do us no good.

Only the truth is of any value, and this we may learn from God’s Word and from His works. As we study these things the angels will help us to understand.

We shall see the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father. Our minds will be strengthened, our hearts will be made pure, and we shall be more like Christ.

The Story of Jesus (1896, 1900), [Adapted from Ellen G. White material], 13–31.

Restoring the Temple – Fruits, Cereals, Vegetables

The Lord intends to bring His people back to live upon simple fruits, vegetables, and grains.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 322.

“The Lord desires those living in countries where fresh fruit can be obtained during a large part of the year, to awake to the blessing they have in this fruit. The more we depend upon the fresh fruit just as it is plucked from the tree, the greater will be the blessing.

“It would be well for us to do less cooking and to eat more fruit in its natural state. . . . Eat freely of the fresh grapes, apples, peaches, pears, berries, and all other kinds of fruit that can be obtained.” Ibid., 309.

An Adequate Diet

“Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.” Ibid., 310.

“Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use!” Ibid., 313.

“It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood.” Ibid.

“We are built up from that which we eat. Shall we strengthen the animal passions by eating animal food? In the place of educating the taste to love this gross diet, it is high time that we were educating ourselves to subsist upon fruits, grains, and vegetables. . . . A variety of simple dishes, perfectly healthful and nourishing, may be provided, aside from meat. Hearty men must have plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grains.” Ibid., 322.

Temporary Fruit Diet

“Intemperate eating is often the cause of sickness, and what nature most needs is to be relieved of the undue burden that has been placed upon her. In many cases of sickness, the very best remedy is for the patient to fast for a meal or two, that the overworked organs of digestion may have an opportunity to rest. A fruit diet for a few days has often brought great relief to brain workers. Many times a short period of entire abstinence from food, followed by simple, moderate eating, has led to recovery through nature’s own recuperative effort. An abstemious diet for a month or two would convince many sufferers that the path of self-denial is the path to health.” Ibid., 310.

Abundantly Supplied

“Nature’s abundant supply of fruits, nuts, and grains is ample, and year by year the products of all lands are more generally distributed to all, by the increased facilities for transportation. As a result, many articles of food which a few years ago were regarded as expensive luxuries, are now within the reach of all as foods for everyday use.

“If we plan wisely, that which is most conducive to health can be secured in almost every land. The various preparations of rice, wheat, corn, and oats are sent abroad everywhere, also beans, peas, and lentils. These, with native or imported fruits, and the variety of vegetables that grow in each locality, give an opportunity to select a dietary that is complete without the use of flesh meats.” Ibid., 313, 314.


“Grains used for porridge or ‘mush’ should have several hours’ cooking. But soft or liquid foods are less wholesome than dry foods, which require thorough mastication.

“Some honestly think that a proper dietary consists chiefly of porridge. To eat largely of porridge would not ensure health to the digestive organs; for it is too much like liquid. Encourage the eating of fruit and vegetables and bread.” Ibid., 314, 315.

The Staff of Life

“Bread should be thoroughly baked, inside and out. The health of the stomach demands that it be light and dry. Bread is the real staff of life, and therefore every cook should excel in making it.

“Some do not feel it is a religious duty to prepare food properly; hence they do not try to learn how. They let the bread sour before baking, and the saleratus added to remedy the cook’s carelessness makes it totally unfit for the human stomach. It requires thought and care to make good bread. But there is more religion in a good loaf of bread than many think.” Ibid., 315, 316.

“Bread should be light and sweet. Not the least taint of sourness should be tolerated. The loaves should be small, and so thoroughly baked that, as far as possible, the yeast germs shall be destroyed. When hot, or new, raised bread of any kind is difficult of digestion. It should never appear on the table. This rule does not, however, apply to unleavened bread. Fresh rolls made of wheaten meal, without yeast or leaven, and baked in a well-heated oven, are both wholesome and palatable. . . .


“Zwieback, or twice-baked bread, is one of the most easily digested and most palatable of foods. Let ordinary raised bread be cut in slices and dried in a warm oven till the last trace of moisture disappears. Then let it be browned slightly all the way through. In a dry place this bread can be kept much longer than ordinary bread, and if reheated before using, it will be as fresh as when new.

“Bread which is two or three days old is more healthful than new bread. Bread dried in the oven is one of the most wholesome articles of diet.” Ibid., 316, 317.

Dangers of Sour Bread

“The stomach has not power to convert poor, heavy, sour bread into good food; but this poor bread will convert a healthy stomach into a diseased one. Those who eat such food know that they are failing in strength. Is there not a cause? Some of these persons call themselves health reformers, but they are not. They do not know how to cook. They prepare cakes, potatoes, and graham bread, but there is the same round, with scarcely a variation, and the system is not strengthened. They seem to think the time wasted which is devoted to obtaining a thorough experience in the preparation of healthful, palatable food. . . .

“Many have been brought to their death by eating heavy, sour bread. An instance was related to me of a hired girl who made a batch of sour, heavy bread. In order to get rid of it and conceal the matter, she threw it to a couple of very large hogs. Next morning the man of the house found his swine dead, and upon examining the trough, found pieces of this heavy bread. He made inquiries, and the girl acknowledged what she had done. She had not a thought of the effect of such bread upon the swine. If heavy, sour bread will kill swine, which can devour rattlesnakes, and almost every detestable thing, what effect will it have upon that tender organ, the human stomach?” Ibid., 317, 318.

“We have been going back to Egypt rather than on to Canaan. Shall we not reverse the order of things? Shall we not have plain, wholesome food on our tables?” Ibid., 319.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender.

Nature Nugget – The Pinyon Pines

The Pinyon Pines and their Avian Planters

There is a group of eight closely related species of pines growing in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico that are known as pinyon, or piñon, pines. They are short and scrubby trees, most commonly found growing in association with junipers. Pinyon pines generally grow at elevations between 4,500 and 6,500 feet above sea level. This elevation span is above the deserts, grasslands, and sagebrush, but below mountain forests, into which these trees merge. In the southern Rockies, they can sometimes be found growing as high as 9,300 feet above sea level on the warmer, south-facing slopes. Annual precipitation where the pinyon pine grows is 12 to 18 inches. Pinyon pines are rarely more than 20 to 30 feet tall and often much less. They are slow growing and may reach 100 years before producing cones. Their average lifespan is 350 to 450 years, with a few achieving 1,000 years!

Pinyon pines are most famous for their seeds or pine nuts, as they are called. Being 50 percent fat and 25 percent protein, a single pea-sized seed can yield as much as 20 calories. This is important to the wildlife that depends on them for survival through the winter. Many species of wildlife—such as black bears, mule deer, turkeys, porcupines, squirrels, chipmunks, wood rats (pack rats), mice, and many species of passerine birds—feed on the seeds.

The seeds are also important as a staple to many Native American tribes who extensively collect them throughout the pines’ range. The seeds are of immense cultural and economic importance to the tribes who often own the seed harvest rights in many areas. The seeds are sometimes robbed from pack rat nests where they have been stored up in large quantities.

There is a unique relationship between the pinyon pines and several species of jays. The whole pinyon pine ecosystem is dependent upon these relationships. These birds function as types of foresters or tree planters. The most famous of these birds is the pinyon jay. Not only do they love to eat the pinyon pine seeds, but they plant the seeds also.

The jays can carry up to 56 seeds in an expandable pouch in their throats. Pinyon jays occur in large flocks in the fall and winter. A flock of 200 jays can harvest, in minimal time, 10,000 or more seeds from a stand of pinyon pines, especially if the trees are producing a bumper crop of seeds, which they typically do about every six years. The jays quickly eat their fill and start burying seeds in the soil for future needs. They hide many more seeds than they will be able to refind and eat. These overlooked seeds sprout to produce the next generation of pinyon pines.

In one study done on pinyon jays, during a bumper crop year, it was estimated that one flock of 250 jays buried about 4.5 million seeds from September through January. In Arizona, a Clark’s Nutcracker, a close relative of the pinyon jay, was seen to carry 95 pinyon pine seeds in its cheek pouch for 14 miles. Approximately a ton, or four million seeds, can be cached by 150 nutcrackers!

Just as the jays and nutcrackers plant pinyon pine seeds abundantly, even carrying them to far away places, we are to be planting the seeds of truth. “You are to sow the seeds of truth in every place. Wherever you can gain access, hold forth the word of God. Sow beside all waters. You may not at once see the result of your labors, but be not discouraged. Speak the words that Christ gives you. Work in His lines. Go forth everywhere as He did during His ministry on the earth.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 36.

David Arbour writes from his home in DeQueen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:

Youth to Youth: Just Wait

Through our youth, we are faced with many different decisions—some with long-lasting effects and some with a lot less. The decision of a life partner is one of the biggest decisions we will ever make. This, sadly, may give us the most heartache we will ever experience. So what is the best way to sail around the rocks into the sunshine? I am certainly no expert in this, but I do have a few guidelines to offer.

Just wait!

When we are young, we always think that we are ready to make our own decisions, ready to go out into life, find our true love, and start things off. When I was 16, this is what I wanted to do, but I thank God He allowed things not to work out as I intended.

It is best to wait for God’s timing. But what is God’s timing? Obviously, this depends on the person, but we do have two areas of counsel to follow.

  1. Are we old enough? A decision as important as marriage should be postponed until we have fully developed both physically and mentally.

“A youth not out of his teens is a poor judge of the fitness of a person as young as himself to be his companion for life.” The Adventist Home, 79.

  1. Have we finished our education? This may be a weird question, but we do not want to divert brainpower from our studies for something that requires so much emotional and psychological energy.

“Young people are sent to school by their parents to obtain an education, not to flirt with the opposite sex. The good of society, as well as the highest interest of the students, demands that they shall not attempt to select a life partner while their own character is yet undeveloped, their judgment immature, and while they are at the same time deprived of parental care and guidance.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 62.

“Gather all the efficiency you can, making the most of your opportunities for the education and training of the character to fill any position which the Lord may assign you. You need so much a balance-wheel in judicious counsel. Do not despise advice. Bear in mind that the school is not a place to form attachments for courting or entering into marriage relations.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 74.

Even when we are old enough and out of our studies, we may want to rush on before God, but my first instruction is to wait. Consider whether the person with whom you want to unite your life has the traits that are worthy of your attention. Take time to analyze this person to see if he or she has what you really need in a life partner as per the instruction we have been given in The Adventist Home, 211–224 and 231–273. I would encourage you to read this first from the angle of how should I be, and then read it from the angle of for what should I be looking.

Ask yourself, Am I ready to play my part in the family role? Have I come close to God? Am I willing to take up my fair share of life’s burdens? Am I willing to be that perfect husband or wife? Am I willing to work at a relationship, accept someone for who they are, and, with God’s help, have a happy home? Or will I be the sort who will want everything my way? These are hard questions, if you answer them honestly.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to wait upon the Lord, but if we will trust God, then He will work things out for us—maybe not in the way we think we want them to be, but in the way that He knows is best for us. When we learn this lesson and let God rule supremely in our lives, then we are ready to progress in finding a life partner.

Let us make sure we wait for the right time in our lives and also that we do the preparation work before we enter into such a relationship.

Jeff Samuels is a pseudonym

Ask the Pastor – The Burning of Rome


I have heard that the city of Rome burned during the reign of Nero and that the Christians were blamed for it. Can you provide any information about this?


Although this is not a Biblical question, it does touch on history during Bible times.

On July 19, in the year a.d. 64, history records that a catastrophic fire broke out in Rome. Fanned by the wind, it swept through much of the city. When the fire started, the Emperor Nero fled to his villa in Antium, 33 miles away, to direct the fire fighting. But in spite of the efforts put forth, the fire continued to burn for nine days, destroying much of the city.

One of the rumors which spread was that Nero himself had ordered the fire set in order to provide space in Rome for some of his ambitious building projects. Indeed, after the fire, Nero began to build for himself a grandiose palace on some 200 acres of prime city land, much of it expropriated from the fire-devastated area. Nero’s notorious ambition, coupled with his monstrous cruelty, made such rumors credible.

We do know that Nero did make scapegoats of the Christians. When the first of the Christians were questioned, they, for fear, implicated other Christians. Many were put to death in bizarre ways. Some were dressed in animal skins, and savage dogs were set upon them; others were crucified; still others were made into human torches in Nero’s own garden. Some accounts have been passed down that it was during this period of time when Peter and Paul were put to death.

We do not know just how large the Christian community was at the time of Nero’s reign (a.d. 54–68), but some time after Nero became emperor, Paul wrote his letter to what was then a flourishing community of Christians in Rome.

Rome was not the only place where the early Christians were persecuted, nor was Nero the only public official who persecuted them. There is abundant evidence in the New Testament and other sources that Christians suffered for their faith throughout the Roman world. History has a nasty way of repeating itself when we do not learn the lessons the first time. We know from Scripture that, before Jesus comes again, a time of trouble such as never was will break out upon the Christian community. (Daniel 12:1.)

In the aftermath of the persecution under Nero that followed the burning of Rome, the Christian community was badly shaken. Scholars believe that some of the New Testament books were written to encourage and support the fledgling church. The stage was set for the more systematic and widespread persecution of Christians that followed in the next centuries as the church grew. If such an instance as the burning of Rome brought persecution and blame upon the Christians in Paul’s day, persecution could come in our day as the result of something again being blamed upon God’s people. Our only hope is to be firmly grounded in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Pastor Mike Baugher is a retired minister of the gospel. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.