Bible Study Guides – Many Called—but Few Chosen

February 21, 2010 – February 27, 2010

Key Text

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” II Peter 1:10.

Study Help: Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 445–456, especially 450–456.


“Man is elected to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected to put on the armor, to fight the good fight of faith.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 454.

1 To what are we told to give diligence, daily diligence, and why? II Peter 1:10.

Note. “If we comply with the conditions the Lord has made, we shall secure our election to salvation. Perfect obedience to His commandments is the evidence that we love God, and are not hardened in sin.

“Christ has a church in every age. There are in the church those who are not made any better by their connection with it. They themselves break the terms of their election. Obedience to the commandments of God gives us a right to the privileges of His church.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1079.

2 Knowing that our salvation is an issue in making our election sure, what are we told to do? Philippians 2:12.

Note. “Every soul is elected who will work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected who will put on the armor and fight the good fight of faith. He is elected who will watch unto prayer, who will search the Scriptures, and flee from temptation. He is elected who will have faith continually, and who will be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The provisions of redemption are free to all; the results of redemption will be enjoyed by those who have complied with the conditions.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 208.

“Genuine faith always works by love. When you look to Calvary it is not to quiet your soul in the non-performance of duty, not to compose yourself to sleep, but to create faith in Jesus, faith that will work, purifying the soul from the slime of selfishness. When we lay hold of Christ by faith, our work has just begun. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits that must be overcome by vigorous warfare. Every soul is required to fight the fight of faith. If one is a follower of Christ, he cannot be sharp in deal, he cannot be hardhearted, devoid of sympathy. He cannot be coarse in his speech. He cannot be full of pomposity and self-esteem. He cannot be overbearing, nor can he use harsh words, and censure and condemn.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1111.

3 To lay hold on eternal life, to what kind of fight are we called? I Timothy 6:12.

Note. “When we lay hold of Christ by faith, our work has just begun. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits that must be overcome by vigorous warfare. Every soul is required to fight the fight of faith.” Ibid., 1111.

4 The testing or trial of our faith is more precious than what? How are we to be found when Jesus comes? I Peter 1:7.

Note. “Many poor souls are groping in darkness, looking for the feelings which others say they have had in their experience. They overlook the fact that the believer in Christ must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. The convicted sinner has something to do. He must repent and show true faith.

“When Jesus speaks of the new heart, He means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a change of heart is to withdraw the affections from the world, and fasten them upon Christ. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. What is the sign of a new heart?—A changed life. There is a daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride.” Messages to Young People, 71, 72.

5 Since faith is based upon a moral conviction, how is it made perfect? James 2:22. Can faith be dead; if so, how? James 2:17.

Note. “While we must often impress the mind with the fact that the Christian life is a life of warfare, that we must watch and pray and toil, that there is peril to the soul in relaxing the spiritual vigilance for one moment, the completeness of the salvation proffered us from Jesus who loves us and gave Himself that we should not perish but have everlasting life, is to be the theme.

“Day by day we may walk with God, day by day following on to know the Lord, entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, laying hold on the hope set before us. If we reach heaven it must be by binding the soul to the Mediator, becoming partakers of the divine nature. Leaning on Christ, your life being hid with Christ in God and led by His Spirit, you have the genuine faith.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 182.

6 Name some works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19–21.

Note. “That which Satan plants in the heart—envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil speaking, impatience, prejudice, selfishness, covetousness, and vanity—must be uprooted. If these evil things are allowed to remain in the soul, they will bear fruit by which many shall be defiled. Oh, how many cultivate the poisonous plants, that kill out the precious fruits of love and defile the soul!” My Life Today, 179.

7 To overcome corrupt and sinful habits by vigorous warfare is a battle. What does I Timothy 6:12 say?

Note. “Man, fallen man, may be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that he can ‘prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God’ [Romans 12:2]. How does he prove this? By the Holy Spirit taking possession of his mind, spirit, heart, and character. Where does the proving come in? ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men’ [I Corinthians 4:9]. A real work is wrought by the Holy Spirit upon the human character, and its fruits are seen.

“Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, so will the tree that is actually planted in the Lord’s garden produce good fruit unto eternal life. Besetting sins are overcome; evil thoughts are not allowed in the mind; evil habits are purged from the soul temple. The tendencies which have been biased in a wrong direction are turned in a right direction. Wrong dispositions and feelings are changed, new principles of action supplied, and there is a new standard of character. Holy tempers and sanctified emotions are now the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. An entire transformation has taken place. This is the work to be wrought.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1080.

8 What is brought into the life of every true believer? I Corinthians 13:4–8.

Note. “Only the love that flows from the heart of Christ can heal. Only He in whom that love flows, even as the sap in the tree or the blood in the body, can restore the wounded soul.

“Love’s agencies have wonderful power, for they are divine. The soft answer that ‘turneth away wrath’ [Proverbs 15:1], the love that ‘suffereth long, and is kind’ [I Corinthians 13:4], the charity that ‘covereth a multitude of sins’ [I Peter 4:8]—would we learn the lesson, with what power for healing would our lives be gifted! How life would be transformed, and the earth become a very likeness and foretaste of heaven!” My Life Today, 179.

9 What character traits should no longer be found in the life of every true believer? Ephesians 4:31, 32.

Note. “We individually have a case pending in the court of heaven. Character is being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and it should be the earnest desire of all to walk humbly and carefully, lest, neglecting to let their light shine forth to the world, they fail of the grace of God and lose everything that is valuable. All dissension, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 279.

“I have this message for you from the Lord: Be kind in speech, gentle in action. Guard yourself carefully, for you are inclined to be severe and dictatorial, and to say rash things. The Lord speaks to you, saying, Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Harsh expressions grieve the Lord; unwise words do harm. I am charged to say to you, Be gentle in your speech; watch well your words; let no harshness come into your utterances or into your gestures. Bring into all you do and say the fragrance of Christlikeness. Let not natural traits of character mar and spoil your work. You are to help and strengthen the tempted. Let not self appear in rash words. Christ has given His life for the flock, and for all for whom you labor. Let no word of yours balance souls in the wrong direction. In the minister of Christ there must be revealed Christlikeness of character.” Gospel Workers, 163.

10 What promise is given to him that overcomes? Revelation 3:21.

Note. “Here is the beginning of our confidence which we must hold steadfast unto the end. If Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations, He will help us to resist. He came to bring divine power to combine with human effort.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 929.

Additional Reading

“But those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters without determined effort on their part to overcome sin, will be disappointed. We have no reason to fear while looking to Jesus, no reason to doubt but that He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto Him; but we may constantly fear lest our old nature will again obtain the supremacy, that the enemy shall devise some snare whereby we shall again become his captives. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. With our limited powers we are to be as holy in our sphere as God is holy in His sphere. To the extent of our ability, we are to make manifest the truth and love and excellence of the divine character. As wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God and retain the image of Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 336, 337.

“There is an election of individuals and a people, the only election found in the word of God, where man is elected to be saved. Many have looked at the end, thinking they were surely elected to have heavenly bliss; but this is not the election the Bible reveals. Man is elected to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected to put on the armor, to fight the good fight of faith. He is elected to use the means God has placed within his reach to war against every unholy lust, while Satan is playing the game of life for his soul. He is elected to watch unto prayer, to search the Scriptures, and to avoid entering into temptation. He is elected to have faith continually. He is elected to be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and that he may be, not a hearer only, but a doer of the word. This is Bible election.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 453, 454.

“God has appointed means, if we will use them diligently and prayerfully, that no vessel shall be shipwrecked, but outride the tempest and storm, and anchor in the haven of bliss at last. But if we despise and neglect these appointments and privileges, God will not work a miracle to save any of us, and we will be lost as were Judas and Satan.

“Do not think that God will work a miracle to save those weak souls who cherish evil, who practice sin; or that some supernatural element will be brought into their lives, lifting them out of self into a higher sphere, where it will be comparatively easy work, without any special effort, any special fighting, without any crucifixion of self; because all who dally on Satan’s ground for this to be done will perish with the evildoers. They will be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy.” Ibid., 453.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at .

Bible Study Guides – Unconditional?

February 14, 2010 – February 20, 2010

Key Text

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.

Study Help: Ephesians 2; “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 943, 944.


“There is no such thing in the Word of God as unconditional election—once in grace, always in grace. In the second chapter of Second Peter the subject is made plain and distinct. After a history of some who followed an evil course, the explanation is given: ‘Which have forsaken the right way … following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness’ [II Peter 2:15].” The Faith I Live By, 157.

1 When we walk, or live, in the way of this world, we are made a part of what group? Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 2:9, last part.

Note. “Christ speaks of the church over which Satan presides as the synagogue of Satan. Its members are the children of disobedience. They are those who choose to sin, who labor to make void the holy law of God. It is Satan’s work to mingle evil with good, and to remove the distinction between good and evil. Christ would have a church that labors to separate the evil from the good, whose members will not willingly tolerate wrong-doing, but will expel it from the heart and life.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 958.

2 One meaning of trespass is to deviate or turn aside from the straight road. Understanding that meaning, which leader do we turn to when we trespass? Ephesians 2:1–3.

Note. “The same spirit that prompted rebellion in Heaven still inspires rebellion on earth. Satan has continued with men the same policy which he pursued with the angels. His spirit now reigns in the children of disobedience. Like him they seek to break down the restraints of the law of God, and promise men liberty through transgression of its precepts.” The Great Controversy, 500.

3 Some say once saved, always saved or once on the right way, always on the right way. Is this true according to what the word of God says? Can we deviate from or forsake the right way? II Peter 2:15; Ezekiel 18:21; 33:13.

Note. “Balaam was once a good man and a prophet of God; but he had apostatized, and had given himself up to covetousness; yet he still professed to be a servant of the Most High.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 439.

“How many who have in adversity remained true to God, have fallen under the glittering allurements of prosperity. With the possession of wealth, the ruling passion of a selfish nature is revealed. The world is cursed today by the miserly greed and the self-indulgent vices of the worshipers of mammon.” Counsels on Stewardship, 139.

4 What is it better for a person to have not known than to know and turn away? II Peter 2:20, 21.

Note. “In spite of all their display, their garnished habitation, Satan comes in with a troop of evil angels and takes his place in the soul, to help in the deception. The apostle writes, ‘If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them’ [II Peter 2:20, 21].” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1093.

5 The word elect in 1 Peter 1:2 has the same meaning as chosen in Matthew 20:16. Knowing this, what are the characteristics of the elect in 1 Peter 1:2?

Note. “If we comply with the conditions the Lord has made, we shall secure our election to salvation. Perfect obedience to His commandments is the evidence that we love God, and are not hardened in sin.

“Christ has a church in every age. There are in the church those who are not made any better by their connection with it. They themselves break the terms of their election. Obedience to the commandments of God gives us a right to the privileges of His church.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, vol. 6, 1079.

“Our Saviour claims all there is of us; He asks our first and holiest thoughts, our purest and most intense affection. If we are indeed partakers of the divine nature, His praise will be continually in our hearts and upon our lips. Our only safety is to surrender our all to Him and to be constantly growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.” The Sanctified Life, 95.

6 Even though many are called, how many did Jesus say were chosen? Matthew 20:16; Revelation 17:14, last part.

Note. “The Father sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1114.

7 To predestinate means to predetermine or to reach a definite purpose. What is God’s purpose for you and me? Romans 8:29, 30; Ephesians 1:4, 5.

Note. “Now here are the most precious jewels of truth for every individual soul of us. Here is the only election in the Bible, and you can prove yourself elected of Christ by being faithful; you can prove yourself the chosen of Christ by abiding in the vine.” Ibid., 1079.

“It will require a sacrifice to give yourself to God; but it is a sacrifice of the lower for the higher, the earthly for the spiritual, the perishable for the eternal. God does not design that our will should be destroyed, for it is only through its exercise that we can accomplish what He would have us do. Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. However bitter and painful this surrender may appear to the willful, wayward heart, yet ‘it is profitable for thee’ [Matthew 5:29, 30].” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 62.

8 By faithful obedience to the truth, what do we make sure? II Peter 1:10.

Note. “Here is the condition of the only saving election in the Word of God. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to add grace to grace, and the promise is, ‘If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ [II Peter 1:10, 11].” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1114.

9 When we no longer walk in the way of this world and become strangers and foreigners of this country, who then are we fellow citizens with? Ephesians 2:12–19.

Note. “Our work is to attract minds away from earth to heaven; to take others with us as companions, to walk the path that is cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. The children of the Heavenly King are to move among men, not as citizens of the world, but as citizens of the kingdom above. We are pilgrims and strangers in this world, seeking a better country, even a heavenly.” The Signs of the Times, August 17, 1891.

10 What is our foundation built upon and who is the cornerstone? Ephesians 2:20.

Note. “The preparations made for the building of this house for the Lord, must be in accordance with the instructions He had given. No pains must be spared in its erection; for in it God was to meet with His people. The building must show forth to the nations of the earth the greatness of Israel’s God. In every part it must represent the perfection of Him whom the Israelites were called upon to honor before all the world.

“The specifications regarding the building were often repeated. In all the work done, these specifications were to be followed with the utmost exactness. Believers and unbelievers were to learn of the importance of the work from the care shown in its performance.

“The care shown in the building of the temple is a lesson to us regarding the care that we are to show in our character-building. No cheap material was to be used. No haphazard work was to be done in matching the different parts. Piece must fit piece perfectly. Just as God’s temple was, so must His church be. Into their character-building His people are to bring no worthless timbers, no careless, indifferent work.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1029, 1030.

Additional Reading

“There could be no such thing as one not prepared for heaven entering heaven. There is no such thing as a human being sanctified and fitted for the heavenly kingdom not having an election to that kingdom. God elects those who have been working on the plan of addition. The explanation is given in the first chapter of Second Peter. For every human being, Christ has paid the election price. No one need be lost. All have been redeemed. To those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour will be given power to become the sons and daughters of God. An eternal life insurance policy has been provided for all.

“Whom God elects, Christ redeems. The Saviour has paid the redemption price for every soul. We are not our own; for we are bought with a price. From the Redeemer, who from the foundation of the world has chosen us, we receive the insurance policy that entitles us to eternal life.

“There is the election of God on the condition of practice, and there is no other election in the Bible. Election is within our reach. ‘If ye do these things, ye shall never fall’ [II Peter 1:10].” Ibid., vol. 7, 944.

“Here is the condition of the only saving election in the Word of God. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to add grace to grace, and the promise is, ‘If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ [II Peter 1:10, 11].

“There is no such thing in the Word of God as unconditional election—once in grace, always in grace. In the second chapter of Second Peter the subject is made plain and distinct. After a history of some who followed an evil course, the explanation is given: ‘which have forsaken the right way … following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.’… [II Peter 2:15–20 quoted.] Here is a class of whom the apostle warns, ‘For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them’ [verse 21].

“There is truth to be received if souls are saved. The keeping of the commandments of God is life eternal to the receiver. But the Scriptures make it plain that those who once knew the way of life and rejoiced in the truth are in danger of falling through apostasy, and being lost. Therefore there is need of a decided, daily conversion to God.

“All who seek to sustain the doctrine of election, once in grace, always in grace, do this against a plain, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ [Eze. 18:21; 33:13 quoted.]

“Those who have been truly converted have been buried with Christ in the likeness of His death, and raised from the watery grave in the likeness of His resurrection, to walk in newness of life. By faithful obedience to the truth they are to make their calling and election sure.” Ibid., vol. 6, 1114, 1115.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at .

Bible Study Guides – Dry Brittle Skins

February 7, 2010 – February 13, 2010

Key Text

“Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17.

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 278, 279; Lift Him Up, 259; The Signs of the Times, September 19, 1892.


“The effort to unite the teachings of Jesus with the established religion would be vain. The vital truth of God, like fermenting wine, would burst the old, decaying bottles of the Pharisaical tradition.” The Desire of Ages, 279.

1 What does the hope of glory mean to us? Colossians 1:27.

Note. “When God’s people are one in the unity of the Spirit, all of Phariseeism, all of self-righteousness, which was the sin of the Jewish nation, will be expelled from all hearts. The mold of Christ will be upon each individual member of His body, and His people will be new bottles into which He can pour His new wine, and the new wine will not break the bottles. God will make known the mystery which hath been hidden for ages. He will make known what are the ‘riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27).” Selected Messages, Book 1, 386.

2 To be a real Christian is to have Christ in us; where then is self? Galatians 2:20.

Note. “This is the most perfect interpretation in a few words, in all the Scriptures, of what it means to be a Christian. This is the whole truth of the gospel. Paul understood what many seem unable to comprehend. How intensely in earnest he was! His words show that his mind was centered in Christ, that his whole life was bound up with his Lord. Christ was the author, the support, and the source of his life.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 903.

3 What takes the place of cherished ideas and/or traditions of men? Galatians 5:6.

Note. “God’s people must go on from light to a greater light, or they will become, as did the Pharisees, unwilling to receive additional light. They will find themselves in the condition represented by withered, dried-up bottles.” The Signs of the Times, September 19, 1892.

“In the scribes, Pharisees, and rulers, Jesus found not the bottles for his new wine. He was obliged to turn from them to humble men, whose hearts were not filled with envy, covetousness, and self-righteousness. The lowly fishermen obeyed the call of the divine Teacher, while the scribes and Pharisees refused to become converted.” The Signs of the Times, December 11, 1893.

4 Since self is filled with ceremonies and traditions, what does God want to give to us? Ezekiel 36:26.

Note. “He must find men who were willing to have regeneration of heart. He came to give to men new hearts. He said, ‘A new heart also will I give you’ [Ezekiel 36:26]. But the self-righteous of that day and of this day feel no need of having a new heart. Jesus passed by the scribes and the Pharisees, for they felt no need of a Saviour. They were wedded to forms and ceremonies. These services had been instituted by Christ; they had been full of vitality and spiritual beauty; but the Jews had lost the spiritual life from their ceremonies, and clung to the dead forms after spiritual life was extinct among them.” The Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.

5 If we do not receive that new heart, our old heart, those old decaying bottles of Pharisaical tradition, dry and brittle, will perish. Why? Matthew 9:17.

Note. “The skin bottles which were used as vessels to contain the new wine, after a time became dry and brittle, and were then worthless to serve the same purpose again. In this familiar illustration Jesus presented the condition of the Jewish leaders. Priests and scribes and rulers were fixed in a rut of ceremonies and traditions. Their hearts had become contracted, like the dried-up wine skins to which He had compared them. While they remained satisfied with a legal religion, it was impossible for them to become the depositaries of the living truth of heaven. They thought their own righteousness all-sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion.” The Desire of Ages, 278, 279.

6 Knowing that the new bottle is the new heart, what happens when the new wine, Christ’s teachings, is poured in? Matthew 9:17.

Note. “The mold of Christ will be upon each individual member of His body, and His people will be new bottles into which He can pour His new wine, and the new wine will not break the bottles. God will make known the mystery which hath been hidden for ages. He will make known what are the ‘riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27–29).” Selected Messages, Book 1, 386.

7 The Pharisee claimed to be whole and had no need. What was his real need? Luke 5:31, 32.

Note. “The Pharisees claimed to be spiritually whole, and therefore in no need of a physician, while they regarded the publicans and Gentiles as perishing from diseases of the soul. Then was it not His work, as a physician, to go to the very class that needed His help?

“But although the Pharisees thought so highly of themselves, they were really in a worse condition than the ones they despised. The publicans were less bigoted and self-sufficient, and thus were more open to the influence of truth.” The Desire of Ages, 275.

“Man must be emptied of self before he can be in the fullest sense a believer in Jesus; and when self is subdued, then the Lord can make of man a new creature. New bottles can contain new wine. Truth will be received into the heart, the character will be transformed into the likeness of Christ; the Son of God will be revealed to the world by his followers, as the Father was revealed to the world by the Son. And all who reveal Christ, are revealing the Father also.” The Signs of the Times, November 16, 1891.

8 Is this same message repeated to the Laodicean church? How does it parallel to the Pharisees? Revelation 3:17.

Note. “It is a fact that we have the truth, and we must hold with tenacity to the positions that cannot be shaken; but we must not look with suspicion upon any new light which God may send, and say, Really, we cannot see that we need any more light than the old truth which we have hitherto received, and in which we are settled. While we hold to this position, the testimony of the True Witness applies to our cases its rebuke, ‘And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ [Revelation 3:17]. Those who feel rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, are in a condition of blindness as to their true condition before God, and they know it not.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 33.

9 What is the counsel to us when our hearts become dried up wine skins of ceremonies and traditions? Revelation 3:18, 19.

Note. “In the days of Christ the religious leaders of the people felt that they were rich in spiritual treasure. The prayer of the Pharisee, ‘God, I thank Thee, that I am not as the rest of men’ (Luke 18:11, R.V.), expressed the feeling of his class and, to a great degree, of the whole nation. But in the throng that surrounded Jesus there were some who had a sense of their spiritual poverty.

“Jesus had presented the cup of blessing to those who felt that they were ‘rich, and increased with goods’ (Revelation 3:17), and had need of nothing, and they had turned with scorn from the gracious gift. He who feels whole, who thinks that he is reasonably good, and is contented with his condition, does not seek to become a partaker of the grace and righteousness of Christ. Pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give. There is no room for Jesus in the heart of such a person. Those who are rich and honorable in their own eyes do not ask in faith, and receive the blessing of God. They feel that they are full, therefore they go away empty.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 7.

10 Jesus turned from the Pharisees to find new bottles, new hearts, to the publican and the woman of Samaria so He could pour in the new wine. Where should our affections be set and where should our lives be hid? Colossians 3:2–4.

Note. “The Pharisees thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Saviour turned away from them to find others who would receive the message of heaven. In the untutored fishermen, in the publican at the market place, in the woman of Samaria, in the common people who heard Him gladly, He found His new bottles for the new wine. The instrumentalities to be used in the gospel work are those souls who gladly receive the light which God sends them. These are His agencies for imparting the knowledge of truth to the world. If through the grace of Christ His people will become new bottles, He will fill them with new wine.” The Desire of Ages, 279.

“We need to be constantly filling the mind with Christ, and emptying it of selfishness and sin.” The Review and Herald, March 15, 1892.

Additional Reading

“When God’s people are one in the unity of the Spirit, all of Phariseeism, all of self-righteousness, which was the sin of the Jewish nation, will be expelled from all hearts. The mold of Christ will be upon each individual member of his body, and his people will be new bottles into which he can pour his new wine, and the new wine will not break the bottles. God will make known the mystery which hath been hidden for ages. He will make known what are the ‘riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily’ [Colossians 1:27–29].” Ibid., March 20, 1894.

“The scribes and the Pharisees appeared to be very punctilious in living out the letter of the law; but Christ said to his disciples, ‘Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [Matthew 5:20]. What a startling declaration was this! It made manifest the insufficiency of legal or natural religion, and showed the need of moral renovation and the necessity of divine enlightenment. The Jewish nation had occupied the highest position; they had built walls great and high to inclose themselves from association with the heathen world; they had represented themselves as the special, loyal people who were favored of God. But Christ presented their religion as devoid of saving faith. It was a combination of dry, hard doctrines, intermingled with sacrifices and offerings. They were very particular to practice circumcision, but they did not teach the necessity of having a pure heart. They exalted the commandments of God in words, but refused to exalt them in practice; and their religion was only a stumbling-block to men. The old bottles were found unfit to contain the new wine, and new bottles must be provided for the new wine. Thus it was with priests and rabbis, scribes and Pharisees; they were as old bottles that could not contain the new wine of the kingdom of Christ. Although they had hitherto held undisputed authority in religious matters, they must now give place to the great Teacher, and to a religion which knew no bounds and made no distinction of caste or position in society, or of race among nations. But the truth taught by Christ was designed for the whole human family; the only true faith is that which works by love and purifies the soul. It is as leaven that transforms human character. The truth brought into the soul temple cleanses it of moral defilement; but where there is no change in the characters of those who profess to believe it, it is evident that it is not taken into the soul temple, and is simply no truth to those who advocate it. Such are under a deception.” Ibid., April 30, 1895.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at .

Bible Study Guides – Son-Shine in This World

January 31, 2010 – February 6, 2010

Key Text

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18.

Study Help: Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 38–44.


“The piety of the Christian constitutes the standard by which worldlings judge the gospel. Trials patiently borne, blessings gratefully received, meekness, kindness, mercy, and love, habitually exhibited, are the lights that shine forth in the character before the world, revealing the contrast with the darkness that comes of the selfishness of the natural heart.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 134.

1 What is it that is stealing away our vital powers and chilling us to death in this dark, cold world? Isaiah 58:7–11.

Note. “I have read of a man who, journeying on a winter’s day through the deep, drifted snow, became benumbed by the cold which was almost imperceptibly stealing away his vital powers. And as he was nearly chilled to death by the embrace of the frost king, and about to give up the struggle for life, he heard the moans of a brother traveler, who was perishing with cold as he was about to perish. His humility was aroused to rescue him. He chafed the ice-clad limbs of the unfortunate man, and, after considerable effort, raised him to his feet; and as he could not stand, he bore him in sympathizing arms through the very drifts he had thought he could never succeed in getting through alone. And when he had borne his fellow traveler to a place of safety, the truth flashed home to him that in saving his neighbor he had saved himself also. His earnest efforts to save another quickened the blood which was freezing in his own veins, and created a healthful warmth in the extremities of the body.” Christian Service, 92, 93.

2 What belongs to the whole world that we should never hoard or keep to ourselves? Matthew 5:14.

Note. “Christ does not bid His followers strive to shine. He says, Let your light shine. If you have received the grace of God, the light is in you. Remove the obstructions, and the Lord’s glory will be revealed. The light will shine forth to penetrate and dispel the darkness. You cannot help shining within the range of your influence.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 420.

3 Those who come out of the world in spirit will seek to answer what prayer? Matthew 6:10.

Note. “Those who come out of the world in spirit and in all practice may regard themselves as sons and daughters of God. … Those who seek to answer the prayer, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ [Matthew 6:10], will seek by living pure, sanctified lives to show to the world how the will of God is done in heaven.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1102.

4 To arise means to accept it and act upon it; to shine means to impart or communicate to others. Darkness is covering the world; what are we to do? Isaiah 60:1.

Note. “While our Saviour is the great source of illumination, forget not, O Christian, that He is revealed through humanity. God’s blessings are bestowed through human instrumentality. Christ Himself came to the world as the Son of man. Humanity, united to the divine nature, must touch humanity. The church of Christ, every individual disciple of the Master, is heaven’s appointed channel for the revelation of God to men. Angels of glory wait to communicate through you heaven’s light and power to souls that are ready to perish. Shall the human agent fail of accomplishing his appointed work? Oh, then to that degree is the world robbed of the promised influence of the Holy Spirit!” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 40.

5 To shine means to radiate or to reflect light. Who is it that is to radiate and reflect? Matthew 5:14; Proverbs 4:18. If we do not radiate, what kind of iceberg are we? See Note.

Note. “A soul filled with the love of Jesus lends to the words, the manners, the looks, hope, courage and serenity. It reveals the spirit of Christ. It breathes a love which will be reflected. It awakens a desire for a better life; souls ready to faint are strengthened; those struggling against temptation will be fortified and comforted. The words, the expression, the manners throw out a bright ray of sunshine, and leave behind them a clear path toward heaven, the source of all light. Every one of us has opportunities of helping others. We are constantly making impressions upon the youth about us. The expression of the countenance is itself a mirror of the life within. Jesus desires that we shall become like Himself, filled with tender sympathy, exerting a ministry of love in the small duties of life. …

“The light of many does not burn or shine. They are moral icebergs.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1156, 1157.

“Paul carried with him through his life on earth the very atmosphere of heaven. All who associated with him felt the influence of his connection with Christ and companionship with angels. Here lies the power of the truth.” The Story of Redemption, 318.

6 Knowing that we are to be channels through whom light from heaven flows, should we be blocking the light from flowing? Luke 19:21, 22.

Note. “Their words and works are the channel through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. They are the salt of the earth and the light thereof.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 262.

“From the beginning God has wrought through His people to bring blessing to the world. To the ancient Egyptian nation God made Joseph a fountain of life. Through the integrity of Joseph the life of that whole people was preserved. Through Daniel God saved the life of all the wise men of Babylon. And these deliverances are as object lessons; they illustrate the spiritual blessings offered to the world through connection with the God whom Joseph and Daniel worshiped. Everyone in whose heart Christ abides, everyone who will show forth His love to the world, is a worker together with God for the blessing of humanity. As he receives from the Saviour grace to impart to others, from his whole being flows forth the tide of spiritual life.” The Acts of the Apostles, 13.

“The Jews thought to confine the benefits of salvation to their own nation; but Christ showed them that salvation is like the sunshine. It belongs to the whole world. The religion of the Bible is not to be confined between the covers of a book, nor within the walls of a church. It is not to be brought out occasionally for our own benefit, and then to be carefully laid aside again. It is to sanctify the daily life, to manifest itself in every business transaction and in all our social relations.” The Desire of Ages, 306, 307.

7 Should we allow our light to fail? The Great Teacher shares with us how not to let that light fail. John 8:12.

Note. “The only light that can illuminate the darkness of a world lying in sin must come from Christ, and this light is granted to all who will receive it. ‘For,’ said the great Teacher, ‘he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life’ [John 8:12].

“ ‘Shall Christians, shining for tempted sinners, allow their light to fail?’

“Think of this, professed Christians! A failure to let your light shine, a neglect to obtain heavenly wisdom that you may have light from God, may cause the loss of a soul! What is the life lost at sea, in comparison with the eternal life which may be lost through your unfaithfulness? Can you endure the thought?” The Review and Herald, January 24, 1882.

8 If a life does not reflect the principles of the truth, what has happened? Matthew 5:15.

Note. “The man or woman who has a knowledge of the truth, but whose life does not express its principles, is hiding his light. My brethren, let the light be brought from under the bushel, that it may make known the truths of the gospel.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 398.

9 As the branch is grafted into the vine, the nourishment flows into the branch and fruits come forth. What are these fruits and how does that relate to what we have been studying? John 15:1–5; Galatians 5:22, 23.

Note. “What is it to bear fruit? It is not all comprised in coming to meeting once a week, and bearing our testimony in prayer or social meeting. We are to be found day by day abiding in the Vine, and bringing forth fruit, with patience, at our home, in our business; and in every relation in life manifesting the Spirit of Christ. There are many who act as though they thought an occasional connection with Christ was all that was necessary, and that they can be accounted living branches because at times they make confession of Christ. But this is a fallacy. The branch is to be grafted into the Vine, and to abide there, uniting itself to the Vine fiber by fiber, drawing its daily supply of sap and nourishment from the root and fatness of the Vine, until it becomes one with the parent stock. The sap that nourishes the Vine must nourish the branch and this will be evident in the life of him who is abiding in Christ; for the joy of Christ will be fulfilled in him who walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1144.

10 What makes our professions worthless? John 15:6.

Note. “Our professions are worthless unless we abide in Christ; for we cannot be living branches unless the vital qualities of the Vine abound in us. In the genuine Christian the characteristics of his Master will appear, and when we reflect the graces of Christ in our lives and characters, the Father loves us as He loves His Son. When this condition is fulfilled in those who profess to believe the present truth, we shall see a prosperous church; for its members will not live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and they will be flourishing branches of the living Vine.” Ibid.

Additional Reading

“The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour.

“ ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.’ Isaiah 60:1. To those who go out to meet the Bridegroom is this message given. Christ is coming with power and great glory. He is coming with His own glory and with the glory of the Father. He is coming with all the holy angels with Him. While all the world is plunged in darkness, there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of His second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served Him. While the wicked flee from His presence, Christ’s followers will rejoice. The patriarch Job, looking down to the time of Christ’s second advent, said, ‘Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not a stranger.’ Job 19:27, margin. To His faithful followers Christ has been a daily companion and familiar friend. They have lived in close contact, in constant communion with God. Upon them the glory of the Lord has risen. In them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has been reflected. Now they rejoice in the undimmed rays of the brightness and glory of the King in His majesty. They are prepared for the communion of heaven; for they have heaven in their hearts.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 419–421.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at .

Recipe – Basic Corn Bread or Cornmeal Muffins

1 cup flour (whole wheat pastry)

1 cup cornmeal (combination of corn flour and cornmeal)

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp Featherweight Baking Powder

¾ tsp. salt

¼ cup oil

1-2 cups soy milk (typically 1 ½ cups)

1 Tbsp honey, (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. In another container, thoroughly mix soy milk, oil and honey. Spray muffin tins (makes 8-10 muffins depending on size) or 8” x 8” baking dish. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Stir just enough to moisten. Put into muffin tins or baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Recipe is from Blythe Hoppe who works with the Ministerial Training Course and helps with many other projects at Steps to Life.

Food – Water

Working Water into Our Life

Previously we have looked at the critical need of the body to take water internally, and have identified many ways in which the body uses water. Also, we have looked at the formula by which to determine the amount of water needed each day—body weight in pounds, divided by two and then divided by eight, gives the number of glasses. This amount can be greatly increased in the presence of heavy work or exercise, warm temperatures, and in the presence of illnesses such as those that involve high fever or vomiting and diarrhea. Let us look today at how we incorporate this water into our life.

Many people are amazed when they learn how much water they need to drink. Often it is heard, “I don’t drink that much water and I never feel thirsty.” The first thing we need to understand is that thirst is a protective mechanism to warn of danger—a shortage of water in the body. When feeling thirsty the body is already 1–4 glasses short of the water needed for optimal body function. The time to drink water is before the feeling of thirst to prevent the stress on the body due to a shortage of water or dehydration.

When do you drink all of this water? Upon rising in the morning, in between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and supper, and between supper and bedtime water should be taken, guarding against drinking water with meals, as this dilutes the digestive juices, interferes with the digestion of food, and prolongs the time that food is in the stomach. It is very acceptable to drink water on an empty stomach about 15 to 30 minutes before the meal and then resume drinking one to two hours after meals.

A common problem with those who have not accustomed themselves to drinking the required amount of water is that they dislike the taste. Adding a small amount of fresh lemon juice in the water will give it a fresh taste, making it more palatable. Those having trouble drinking the amount of water should develop a schedule that says when and how much to drink. This gives several mini goals throughout the day, giving encouragement to reach the next goal. Achieving the daily requirement will soon become a habit and not such a challenge.

Finally, the most important strategy to help drink more water is to ask God for the power to accomplish what is good for your health. With God as our helper, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.

So, here is to your health as you develop a plan to drink all of the life-giving water that your body needs.


Children’s Story – Do You Trust Jesus?

John and Charles Wesley were brothers and both, after being ordained to the ministry, were sent on a mission to America. On board the ship was a company of Moravians. A violent storm was encountered on the passage one day which threatened the ship. Worship was being conducted at the time and John Wesley was brought face to face with death. He was afraid, and felt that he had not the assurance of peace with God. The Germans, on the contrary, manifested a calmness and trust to which he was a stranger.

“ ‘I had long before,’ he says, ‘observed the great seriousness of their behavior. Of their humility they had given continual proof, by performing those servile offices for the other passengers which none of the English would undertake; for which they desired and would receive no pay, saying, it was good for their proud hearts, and their loving Saviour had done more for them. And every day had given them occasion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger, and revenge. In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the deck as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterward, ‘Were you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied mildly, ‘No; our women and children are not afraid to die.’ ” The Great Controversy, 255.

The Moravian pastor asked John Wesley, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” John replied, “I know that He is the Saviour of the world.” At that time Wesley did not have as strong a faith in Jesus as the Moravians did. They stayed calm, trusting in Jesus through the storm. John Wesley wanted this same kind of faith that kept the Moravians calm through the storm so he decided to spend a short time with them and was deeply impressed with their Christlike behavior.

Mark 4:37–40 tells the story of Jesus and His disciples while in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was so tired that he fell asleep on a pillow. A great storm came up and the terrified disciples, forgetting Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, were afraid. They feared they would sink because of the water overflowing the sides of the boat. In their distress they woke Him and asked if He really cared whether or not they perished, a question reflecting their lack of faith at that time. Jesus was not afraid. He trusted in His Father for the outcome. Jesus told the storm to “be still,” and the sea became very still. He then asked the disciples why they had no faith, why they did not trust Him.

With similar faith, the Moravians continued their singing through the storm because of their trust. At times we all have storms in our lives. A small boy, struggling with the new experience of his first day at school, called home to talk with his mother. He was angry and afraid and was too upset to speak when his mother answered the call. Not hearing anything from the other end of the line, his mother said, “Hello, who is this?” The little boy burst into tears as he said, “Mom, this is Timmy. Have you forgotten me already?”

As time moved on John Wesley’s faith grew. “Again and again did John Wesley escape death by a miracle of God’s mercy. When the rage of the mob was excited against him, and there seemed no way of escape, an angel in human form came to his side, the mob fell back, and the servant of Christ passed in safety from the place of danger.

“Of his deliverance from the enraged mob upon one of these occasions, Wesley said: ‘Many endeavored to throw me down while we were going downhill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging that if I were once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip, till I was entirely out of their hands. Although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all; only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank-note, was torn but half off. A lusty man just behind, struck at me several times, with a large oaken stick; with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him further trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move the right hand nor the left. Another came rushing through the press, and raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop, and only stroked my head, saying, ‘What soft hair he has.’ . . . The very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prize fighter at the bear garden.’ ” Ibid., 258, 259.

Timmy’s mother did not forget her little boy, just like Jesus never forgot His disciples during the storm or John Wesley and all of the people on that boat in the middle of the storm. Jesus said, “I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).” Just believe and trust Him.

Health – Rescue Your Eyes

I went to have my eyes checked recently and when the tests had been run on my eyes, the optometrist informed me that my eyes had not really changed much but still decided to prescribe slightly stronger lenses. At the time I did not think anything about it. However as my eyes were adjusting to the new lenses, I found that the more I used my glasses, the more dependent I became on wearing them and the less I could see when taking them off. I then realized that my eyes were depending on these crutches to see.

When a muscle is being supported and not being used like an arm that is in a sling for a period of time, and because it is not being used, the muscle wastes and becomes weak. The same is true when eyes are looking through glasses continually; the eye muscles have no need to strengthen and after awhile you find you are totally dependent on the glasses. Since they do not have to work on their own, the eye muscles get weaker and weaker and eventually there is a need for the lenses to get stronger and stronger.

Eyes need to be exercised. Many people spend many hours each day in front of a computer staring with little or no eye movement. If the eyes are not in front of a computer staring, they are often in front of the television or some other technological apparatus, staring. Are you staring and causing your eye muscles to become weak and useless? We may exercise our bodies regularly, but the majority of people don’t even think about exercising their eyes. Eyesight is generally taken for granted until one day things look a little blurry or foggy, and then we run to the optometrist to get some crutches for our eyes, which in the long run do not help. We make them worse because we do nothing to improve them. We just continue to stare.

Our eyes were made for motion, just as our bodies were. The muscles of the eyes need to be exercised. You have heard the saying, “What you don’t use, you lose.” This is also true with the eye muscles. Like any neglected muscle, eye muscles that do not have to work because of crutches (glasses) weaken over time. As a result, you become dependent on glasses which need to become increasingly stronger.

When did you last let your eyes just relax and gaze out over the ocean, or even a forest or beautiful shrubbery or some other beautiful scenery to appreciate God’s creation? We drive to work, staring all the way. We stare at a monitor all day, and then drive home. Along with all of the stress to our bodies, we now have stress to our eyes. Stress puts pressure on the eyes, which finally results in visual problems. The eyeballs cannot hold clear, distinct images. The eye muscles that would otherwise get naturally balanced exercise from the natural light and eye activity of the outdoors become weak and slack. Eyes also need to be nourished with a healthy diet, and when the body is toxic so are the eyes. The percentage of people wearing glasses is increasing, and more and more people have problems with their eyes.

Strengthening your weak eye muscles and improving your vision is possible, but it takes time. Your eyes are worth that time!

Under normal conditions it is an automatic response requiring no effort to see, but as soon as any effort is needed to see, strain is produced. The words on a page should come into a relaxed eye and not the eye reaching out or straining after the words. Strain is evidenced by a general fatigue, headache, itching of the eyes, inflammation of the eyes or eyelids or in blurring or reduced vision. Each of us needs to learn how to relax the eyes so we can do away with the strain and to help improve the sight.

Some people think that all they need to do to rest the eyes is not use them. That is not true. Anything that rests the mind will also rest the eyes. Eyes tire less quickly when reading an interesting book than when reading something that is not interesting.

You might want to start with some good common sense eye exercises. Here are a few ideas and suggestions to get you started. If you will begin doing these right now, the muscles in your eyes will begin to strengthen and you may be surprised at the improvements that are possible.

One of the first things you need to do is remove your glasses for at least an hour a day or longer. During this time your eye muscles will have a chance to adjust themselves.

Your eyes need to learn how to relax. So often we strain to see when seeing should come naturally. If you are wearing glasses, remove them during these exercises.

Blink your eyes! The older a person gets, the less they blink, and our lifestyle activities and jobs do not promote blinking. Blinking the eyes keeps them moist, and the moistness is very necessary to keep your eyes comfortable and relaxed. Do not force your eyes to blink; blink them naturally. In fact, to get into the habit of blinking, try blinking after each line you read. Blink while driving. When you catch yourself staring, blink! You will be amazed at how good your eyes feel after a while by just training them to blink, because this is very relaxing to them, as it helps remove the stress.

Relax your eyes! Lack of relaxation not only tenses the muscles, but pulls the eyes out of perfect focus. Here is one simple exercise to relax your eyes on and off throughout the day: Sit facing a picture or calendar, etc. Look at that picture. Close your eyes gently, cover them with the palms of your hands. Do not press on your eyes. Rest your elbows on the table or knees, etc., because you want to be relaxed. Relax, move your head a little from side to side. After a minute or so, open your eyes and blink. That picture will look much brighter and clearer because your eyes were able to relax for a moment.

An exercise to do each evening: Sit in a comfortable chair, get a little timer and set your timer for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. You will probably start out with 5 minutes because that will seem like a long time if you are not used to relaxing. Close your eyes and cover them with both hands to keep out all light. Do not press on your eyes. Do not think of anything emotional. Relax and let your mind think of relaxing things for the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, uncover your eyes, open and blink several times. The eyes really feel good after being relaxed. This exercise alone will bring much healing to the eyes. This is a natural treatment for vision problems and is really great to relieve eye strain.

Strengthen your eye muscles. Many eye muscles will be stiff and not very flexible because of wearing glasses and/or lack of movement because of staring most of the time. Do not over exercise your eyes to the point of soreness, and if you do, skip a couple of days of exercises and then begin again. Increase the exercises gradually. You will be able to feel the muscles gaining strength as you use them more and they will feel much better, and in most cases healing will take place. Here are six simple exercises to begin with. Remember to remove your glasses.

While keeping your head very still, look up as far as you can (do not strain) and then look down as far as you can. Keep head still. Repeat 12 times or less if muscles are sore. Then relax. Blink rapidly several times.

Continue to hold head very still. Move your eyes from left to right 12 times. Relax and blink rapidly several times.

Continue to hold head still. Look down at your right side; then up towards your left eyebrow 12 times. Relax the eye and blink.

Look down at your left side; then up towards your right eyebrow 12 times. Again, relax and blink.

Combine the last two exercises, i.e. hold head still and look down at your right side, up towards your left eyebrow; then down to your left side and up towards your right eyebrow. Do this 12 times without moving head. Relax and blink.

Move your eyes gently around in a circle, 6 times from right to left and 6 times from left to right. Relax and blink.

Hold the index finger of your right hand about 8 inches in front of the eye, and look from the finger to any larger object at least 10 feet away. Look from one to the other 10 times, rest for a second and repeat the 10 times two or three times. Do the exercise fairly rapidly.

Remember, if your eyes get sore, discontinue these exercises for a few days, because your eyes are not used to exercising. Give them a rest for a few days and then continue when soreness has disappeared. It is like your body. When you are not used to exercising and start new exercises, the body muscles get sore and you need to stop until they feel better and then begin again.

You will really be amazed how these few exercises will increase the mobility of your eyes and make them less susceptible to strain. Exercise them daily.

Remember, the eyes muscles will not work or exercise themselves and if not used tend to become even weaker, so if you do not need to wear your glasses, don’t. Glasses are “crutches” for the eyes. Also, do not stare; keep your eyes moving and blinking so they are not strained. Our eyes need plenty of light, so reading in a dark room is hard on the eyes. Get out-of-doors and enjoy God’s creation. Let your eyes bathe in the beautiful natural colors that He has painted in nature for our delight. Wearing glasses continually keeps the sunshine filtered out of the eyes which is a great loss, because sunshine is a great doctor. However, never look directly at the sun, which can be damaging to the eyes. Glasses should be used only when absolutely needed, and the rest of the time, go without them.

Another way to keep your eyes moving is for every 15 minutes that you are reading or staring at a computer, etc., look away from whatever you are doing and look at something at least 15 feet away for 15 seconds to relax the eyes and remove the strain. Eyes need action. You might think of 15 (minutes for reading)–15 (look 15 feet away)–15 (for 15 seconds) or 20–20–20 to remind you to do this. But integrate something that is easy for you to do in your schedule.

God has given us only two eyes and we need to take care of those eyes. Good healthy habits for your eyes must be learned and practiced and become part of your life.

Other suggestions: The herb Bilberry helps improve the flow of blood through the capillaries in the eyes and also helps improve sharpness of vision. Eyebright is great for bathing the eye or using it as a compress (damp cloth over the eye). It has an anti-inflammatory action and is very soothing.

If you have a juicer, drink at least one glass of carrot juice each day. Put a slice of cucumber over your eyes for about 15 minutes, which is very cooling and refreshing to the eyes and helps remove eye strain. Eat plenty of vegetables like carrots, spinach and broccoli, which are great sources of Vitamin A. Eat dark green vegetables, nuts, avocados and bananas for your Vitamin B complex. Carotene helps improve weak eyes, and some good sources for that are carrots, broccoli, cabbage and peas. These are just a few to get you started!

Take care of your eyes. If you can, do your own research for your own eye health at the library or other sources that are available to you. May God bless you as you decide today to take care of your eyes as they are a most precious gift from Him.

Q & A – Is the 144,000 mentioned in Scripture a Literal or Symbolic Number?

There is much speculation on this question. It is never wise to express one’s own opinion on any Bible subject but search to see what the Bible and then the Spirit of Prophecy have to say about the subject. Human reasoning often distorts the spiritual impact that the inspired word has for the reader. It is always best, without trying to reason as to what it might mean, to simply accept what is says.

I have found no place in the inspired writings that tells us if “144,000” is a symbolic or actual accounting number, but I believe if we are faithful, someday we will find out. The important thing to know about the 144,000 is not the meaning of the number, but what makes this group of people different from all of the other redeemed.

They are first mentioned in Revelation 7:3, 4. It says that they are going to be sealed in their foreheads. To be sealed means to be sealed shut. There is nothing more that can be done about it; the work has been finished. You could say, “the dye is cast”; whatever decisions have been made are there to stay. Their minds have been made up and no one can change them.

Revelation 14 gives a little more description of the 144,000. It says that they have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.” They are “redeemed from the earth” and then it goes on further to say that they are “not defiled with women” and also they are “redeemed from among men.” “They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” and in their “mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Verses 1, 3, 4, 5.

We know from these texts that these people are humans and are redeemed from this earth so they come from among us. It would be well for us to examine our characters because, even if we are not one of the 144,000, we want to be among the saved in the kingdom of heaven, and we know that all who enter there must have on the robe of Christ’s righteousness which is without any spot of sin or stain.

Christ has completed His work in these people and what a character they have developed! Some say that is impossible but Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.

“All things” means also perfecting a character like the one which is ascribed to the 144.000. We must remember it is only through Christ. We cannot do it by ourselves, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. God said to Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14. Since the Lord said there are going to be “144,000 living saints” (Testimonies, vol. 1, 59), He is able to produce them, and if we wish to be among them we need to be working on our characters now.

We are told in the Spirit of Prophecy,

“Heaven is to begin on this earth. When the Lord’s people are filled with meekness and tenderness, they will realize that His banner over them is love, and His fruit will be sweet to their taste. They will make a heaven below in which to prepare for heaven above. …

“If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth.” Sons and Daughters of God, 112.

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Pen of Inspiration – Snares of Satan

The great controversy between Christ and Satan, that has been carried forward for nearly six thousand years, is soon to close; and the wicked one redoubles his efforts to defeat the work of Christ in man’s behalf and to fasten souls in his snares. To hold the people in darkness and impenitence till the Saviour’s mediation is ended, and there is no longer a sacrifice for sin, is the object which he seeks to accomplish.

When there is no special effort made to resist his power, when indifference prevails in the church and the world, Satan is not concerned; for he is in no danger of losing those whom he is leading captive at his will. But when the attention is called to eternal things, and souls are inquiring, “What must I do to be saved?” he is on the ground, seeking to match his power against the power of Christ and to counteract the influence of the Holy Spirit.

He is in attendance when men assemble for the worship of God. Though hidden from sight, he is working with all diligence to control the minds of the worshipers. Like a skillful general he lays his plans beforehand. As he sees the messenger of God searching the Scriptures, he takes note of the subject to be presented to the people. Then he employs all his cunning and shrewdness so to control circumstances that the message may not reach those whom he is deceiving on that very point. The one who most needs the warning will be urged into some business transaction which requires his presence, or will by some other means be prevented from hearing the words that might prove to him a savor of life unto life.

Satan sees the Lord’s servants burdened because of the spiritual darkness that enshrouds the people. He hears their earnest prayers for divine grace and power to break the spell of indifference, carelessness, and indolence. Then with renewed zeal he plies his arts. He tempts men to the indulgence of appetite or to some other form of self-gratification, and thus benumbs their sensibilities so that they fail to hear the very things which they most need to learn.

Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind. There has ever been a class professing godliness, who, instead of following on to know the truth, make it their religion to seek some fault of character or error of faith in those with whom they do not agree. Such are Satan’s right-hand helpers. Accusers of the brethren are not few, and they are always active when God is at work and His servants are rendering Him true homage. They will put a false coloring upon the words and acts of those who love and obey the truth. They will represent the most earnest, zealous, self-denying servants of Christ as deceived or deceivers. It is their work to misrepresent the motives of every true and noble deed, to circulate insinuations, and arouse suspicion in the minds of the inexperienced. In every conceivable manner they will seek to cause that which is pure and righteous to be regarded as foul and deceptive.

But none need be deceived concerning them. It may be readily seen whose children they are, whose example they follow, and whose work they do. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16. Their course resembles that of Satan, the envenomed slanderer, “the accuser of our brethren.” Revelation 12:10.

In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context, perhaps quoting half of a single verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion would show the meaning to be quite the opposite. With the cunning of the serpent they entrench themselves behind disconnected utterances construed to suit their carnal desires. Thus do many willfully pervert the word of God. Others, who have an active imagination, seize upon the figures and symbols of Holy Writ, interpret them to suit their fancy, with little regard to the testimony of Scripture as its own interpreter, and then they present their vagaries as the teachings of the Bible.

Whenever the study of the Scriptures is entered upon without a prayerful, humble, teachable spirit, the plainest and simplest as well as the most difficult passages will be wrested from their true meaning. The papal leaders select such portions of Scripture as best serve their purpose, interpret to suit themselves, and then present these to the people, while they deny them the privilege of studying the Bible and understanding its sacred truths for themselves. The whole Bible should be given to the people just as it reads. It would be better for them not to have Bible instruction at all than to have the teaching of the Scriptures thus grossly misrepresented.

It is a masterpiece of Satan’s deceptions to keep the minds of men searching and conjecturing in regard to that which God has not made known and which He does not intend that we shall understand. It was thus that Lucifer lost his place in heaven. He became dissatisfied because all the secrets of God’s purposes were not confided to him, and he entirely disregarded that which was revealed concerning his own work in the lofty position assigned him. By arousing the same discontent in the angels under his command, he caused their fall. Now he seeks to imbue the minds of men with the same spirit and to lead them also to disregard the direct commands of God.

The teaching so widely echoed from popular pulpits, that the second advent of Christ is His coming to each individual at death, is a device to divert the minds of men from His personal coming in the clouds of heaven. For years Satan has thus been saying, “Behold, He is in the secret chambers” (Matthew 24:23-26); and many souls have been lost by accepting this deception.

God has given in His word sufficient evidence of its divine character. The great truths which concern our redemption are clearly presented. By the aid of the Holy Spirit, which is promised to all who seek it in sincerity, every man may understand these truths for himself. God has granted to men a strong foundation upon which to rest their faith.

While God has given ample evidence for faith, He will never remove all excuse for unbelief. All who look for hooks to hang their doubts upon will find them. And those who refuse to accept and obey God’s word until every objection has been removed, and there is no longer an opportunity for doubt, will never come to the light.

Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those who are willing to be deceived, who desire to shun the self-denial and sacrifice demanded by the truth; but it is impossible for him to hold under his power one soul who honestly desires, at whatever cost, to know the truth. Christ is the truth and the “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. The Spirit of truth has been sent to guide men into all truth. And upon the authority of the Son of God it is declared: “Seek, and ye shall find.” “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Matthew 7:7; John 7:17.

Satan is well aware that the weakest soul who abides in Christ is more than a match for the hosts of darkness, and that, should he reveal himself openly, he would be met and resisted. Therefore he seeks to draw away the soldiers of the cross from their strong fortification, while he lies in ambush with his forces, ready to destroy all who venture upon his ground. Only in humble reliance upon God, and obedience to all His commandments, can we be secure.

No man is safe for a day or an hour without prayer. Especially should we entreat the Lord for wisdom to understand His word. Here are revealed the wiles of the tempter and the means by which he may be successfully resisted. Satan is an expert in quoting Scripture, placing his own interpretation upon passages, by which he hopes to cause us to stumble. We should study the Bible with humility of heart, never losing sight of our dependence upon God. While we must constantly guard against the devices of Satan, we should pray in faith continually: “Lead us not into temptation.” [Matthew 6:13.]

Excerpts from The Great Controversy, 518–530.