Bible Study Guides – Specific Deceptions

February 20, 2011 – February 26, 2011

Key Text

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8.

Study Help: The Adventist Home, 407, 408; Messages to Young People, 273, 274.


“Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be heard.” The Adventist Home, 401.

1 Against what specific snare does Paul warn us in II Corinthians 6:14–18?

Note: “The apostle Paul declares that it is impossible for the children of God to unite with worldlings: ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ [II Corinthians 6:14]. This does not refer to marriage alone; any intimate relation of confidence and copartnership with those who have no love for God or the truth is a snare.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 13.

2 What is written about believers who expose themselves to this snare? Proverbs 13:20. What is the only safe course in regard to worldly associations? Psalm 1:1.

Note: “Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ. Familiarity with sin will inevitably cause it to appear less repulsive. He who chooses to associate with the servants of Satan will soon cease to fear their master. When in the way of duty we are brought into trial, as was Daniel in the king’s court, we may be sure that God will protect us; but if we place ourselves under temptation we shall fall sooner or later.” The Great Controversy, 509.

3 What is the role of Christian mothers to protect their young from Satan’s temptations? II Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15.

Note: “Satan is ready to do his work; he will not neglect to present allurements which the children have no will or moral power to resist. I saw that, through his temptations, he is instituting ever-changing fashions, and attractive parties and amusements, that mothers may be led to devote their time to frivolous matters, instead of to the education and training of their children. Our youth need mothers who will teach them from the cradle, to control passion, to deny appetite, and to overcome selfishness.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 141.

4 What should those know who participate in frivolous parties? Ephesians 2:1, 2 (see also Job 1:4, 5); Ecclesiastes 11:9.

Note: “The low, common pleasure parties, gatherings for eating and drinking, singing and playing on instruments of music, are inspired by a spirit that is from beneath. They are an oblation unto Satan.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 367.

5 While we have many beautiful examples of music (e.g., in the book of Psalms), how does Satan use music?

Note: “Music is the idol which many professed Sabbath-keeping Christians worship. Satan has no objection to music if he can make that a channel through which to gain access to the minds of the youth. Anything will suit his purpose that will divert the mind from God and engage the time which should be devoted to His service. He works through the means which will exert the strongest influence to hold the largest numbers in a pleasing infatuation, while they are paralyzed by his power. When turned to good account, music is a blessing; but it is often made one of Satan’s most attractive agencies to ensnare souls. When abused, it leads the unconsecrated to pride, vanity, and folly. When allowed to take the place of devotion and prayer, it is a terrible curse. Young persons assemble to sing, and, although professed Christians, frequently dishonor God and their faith by their frivolous conversation and their choice of music.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 506.

6 What distinction do many fail to make in their reading material? Jeremiah 23:28, last part; Philippians 4:8.

Note: “The many books which education is thought to embrace, are misleading, a deception and a delusion. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ Satan is now stirring up the minds of men to furnish to the world literature which is of a cheap, superficial order, but which fascinates the mind, and fastens it in a network of Satan’s contrivance. After reading these books, the mind lives in an unreal world, and the life, so far as usefulness is concerned, is as barren as a fruitless tree. The brain is intoxicated, making it impossible for the eternal realities, which are essential for the present and the future, to be pressed home. A mind educated to feed upon trash is unable to see in the word of God the beauty that is there. … By feeding the mind upon exciting stories of fiction, man is bringing to the foundation ‘wood, hay, stubble’ [I Corinthians 3:12, last part]. He loses all taste for the divine Guidebook.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 451, 452.

7 What did the Ephesian converts do with their worldly books when they learned of the Saviour? Acts 19:18, 19.

Note: “When the Ephesians were converted, they changed their habits and practices. Under the conviction of the Spirit of God, they acted with promptness, and laid bare all the mysteries of their witchcraft. They came and confessed, and showed their deeds, and their souls were filled with holy indignation because they had given such devotion to magic, and had so highly prized the books in which the rules of Satan’s devising had laid down the methods whereby they might practice witchcraft. They were determined to turn from the service of the evil one, and they brought their costly volumes and publicly burned them. …

“What about the magical books? What have you been reading? How have you been employing your time? Have you been seeking to study the sacred oracles in order that you may hear the voice of God speaking to you out of His word? The world is deluged with books which sow the seeds of skepticism, infidelity, and atheism, and to a larger or less degree you have been learning your lessons from these books, and they are magical books. They put God out of the mind, and separate the soul from the true Shepherd.” Messages to Young People, 275, 276.

8 Keeping in mind I Corinthians 15:33, what do we know of the effect of theatrical performances?

Note: “Satan’s work is to lead men to ignore God, to so engross and absorb the mind that God will not be in their thoughts. The education they have received has been of a character to confuse the mind and eclipse the true light. Satan does not wish the people to have a knowledge of God; and if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the young that human beings will perish in darkness while light shines all about them, he is well pleased.” The Adventist Home, 401, 402.

9 What warnings include movies and television? Proverbs 4:23; Psalm 101:3, first part; Isaiah 33:15–17.

Note: “All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul.

“You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work.

“Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be heard; or, if heard, that they shall not take effect upon the heart and reform the life.” The Adventist Home, 401.

“In Christian homes a bulwark should be built against temptation. Satan is using every means to make crime and degrading vice popular. We cannot walk the streets of our cities without encountering flaring notices of crime presented in some novel or to be acted at some theater. The mind is educated to familiarity with sin. The course pursued by the base and vile is kept before the people in the periodicals of the day, and everything that can arouse passion is brought before them in exciting stories.” Ibid., 406.

“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments.” Ibid., 516.

10 What does the Bible say about the spirit of criticism? James 4:11; I Corinthians 5:11. How does Satan instruct his angels in this vice?

Note: “[Says Satan,] ‘We must cause distraction and division. We must destroy their anxiety for their own souls, and lead them to criticize, to judge, and to accuse and condemn one another, and to cherish selfishness and enmity. For these sins, God banished us from His presence; and all who follow our example will meet a similar fate.’ ” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 475.

11 Why is the indulgence of appetite so prevalent today? Galatians 6:8; I Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:19.

Note: “The apostle Peter understood the relation between the mind and the body, and raised his voice in warning to his brethren: ‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul’ [1 Peter 2:11]. Many regard this text as a warning against licentiousness only; but it has a broader meaning. It forbids every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. Every perverted appetite becomes a warring lust. Appetite was given us for a good purpose, not to become the minister of death by being perverted, and thus degenerating into ‘lusts which war against the soul.’ …

“Through appetite, Satan controls the mind and the whole being. Thousands who might have lived, have passed into the grave, physical, mental, and moral wrecks, because they sacrificed all their powers to the indulgence of appetite.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 166, 167.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 Why should we shun worldly associations?

2 What does God consider as an oblation offered to Satan?

3 How can music and literature become a snare?

4 What effect do movies, music, fiction and television have on the moral senses?

5 How can Satan control the whole mind and body?

6 From where does the spirit of criticism, accusation and condemnation originate?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Common Individual Dangers

February 13, 2011 – February 19, 2011

Key Text

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12.

Study Help: Early Writings, 266–269; Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 72.


“Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience.” The Desire of Ages, 126.

1 What does God’s Word declare concerning pride and love of the world? Isaiah 3:16; I John 2:15–17.

Note: “Pride and the love of the world are the snares which are so great a hindrance to spirituality and a growth in grace.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 187.

“In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.” The Adventist Home, 515.

2 What directions has Satan given to his angels about pride?

Note: “[Says Satan,] ‘We must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall.’” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 473.

3 What should we realize about the peril of being slaves of this world through pride? Malachi 4:1.

Note: “The third angel’s message must yet work like leaven upon many hearts that profess to believe it, and purge away their pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 132, 133.

4 What snare is Satan laying especially for the remnant people of God? Matthew 13:22; I Timothy 6:10.

Note: “Satan told his angels that the churches were asleep. He would increase his power and lying wonders, and he could hold them. ‘But,’ he said, ‘the sect of Sabbathkeepers we hate; they are continually working against us, and taking from us our subjects, to keep the hated law of God. Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with cares. If you can make them place their affections upon these things, we shall have them yet. They may profess what they please, only make them care more for money than for the success of Christ’s kingdom or the spread of the truths we hate. Present the world before them in the most attractive light, that they may love and idolize it.’ ” Early Writings, 266.

“Christ bids them seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; but Satan walks by their side and says: Whatever may be true in regard to life eternal, in order to make a success in this world you must serve me. I hold your welfare in my hands. I can give you riches, pleasures, honor, and happiness. Hearken to my counsel. Do not allow yourselves to be carried away with whimsical notions of honesty or self-sacrifice. I will prepare the way before you. Thus multitudes are deceived.” The Desire of Ages, 130.

5 What should we consider if tempted to excuse wrong acts or neglected duties through family pressure? Matthew 10:37.

Note: “Those who have possessions have been too willing to excuse themselves on account of wife and children. But I saw that God would not be trifled with. When He speaks, He must be obeyed. If wife or children stand in the way and hold back, they should say as Jesus said to Peter: ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan’ [Matthew 16:23]. Why tempt ye me to withhold from God what justly belongs to Him, and ruin my own soul?” Testimonies, vol. 1, 152.

6 Though he failed with Christ, how does Satan conquer man?

Note: “He [Satan] does not come to man directly and demand homage by outward worship. He simply asks men to place their affections upon the good things of this world.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 480.

7 How does Satan make men inclined to shun duty and live for ease? Proverbs 5:22, 23. What thought can deliver us?

Note: “The pains of duty and the pleasures of sin are the cords with which Satan binds men in his snares. Those who would rather die than perform a wrong act are the only ones who will be found faithful.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 53.

8 What distinction do we often overlook between true Christianity and simple church-going? Matthew 15:8.

Note: “Those who love society frequently indulge this trait until it becomes an overruling passion. To dress, to visit places of amusement, to laugh and chat upon subjects altogether lighter than vanity—this is the object of their lives. … They are miserable unless there is something to excite. They have not within them the power to be happy, but they depend for happiness upon the company of other youth as thoughtless and reckless as themselves.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 624.

“A profession of faith and the possession of truth in the soul are two different things. The mere knowledge of truth is not enough. We may possess this, but the tenor of our thoughts may not be changed. The heart must be converted and sanctified.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97.

9 How does dissipation (wasteful pleasure-seeking) too often afflict our youth—and perhaps us also? Ecclesiastes 11:9.

Note: “There are many things which are right in themselves, but which, perverted by Satan, prove a snare to the unwary.

“As ordinarily conducted, parties of pleasure … are a hindrance to real growth, either of mind or of character. Frivolous associations, habits of extravagance, of pleasure seeking, and too often of dissipation are formed that shape the whole life for evil. In place of such amusements parents and teachers can do much to supply diversions wholesome and life giving.” The Adventist Home, 514.

“Parents flock with their families to the cities because they fancy it easier to obtain a livelihood there than in the country. The children, having nothing to do when not in school, obtain a street education. From evil associates they acquire habits of vice and dissipation.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 232.

10 How does God describe the indifference that controls many professed Christians? Ezekiel 33:31, 32. How can we overcome?

Note: “There are some who profess to be Christ’s followers, yet put forth no effort in spiritual things. In any worldly enterprise they put forth effort, and manifest ambition to accomplish their object, and bring about the desired end; but in the enterprise of everlasting life, where all is at stake, and their eternal happiness depends upon their success, they act as indifferent as though they were not moral agents, as though another were playing the game of life for them, and they had nothing to do but wait the result. Oh, what folly! what madness! If all will only manifest that degree of ambition, zeal, and earnestness for everlasting life that they manifest in their worldly pursuits, they will be victorious overcomers.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 407.

11 How are weak souls often prevented from receiving strength and help from God? Luke 14:18–20; Ephesians 6:11, 12.

Note: “As he [Satan] 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.

“Again, 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.” The Great Controversy, 518, 519.

12 How does Satan succeed in holding a good number of believers in the snare of presumption? Matthew 24:48–51.

Note: “That evil servant who said in his heart, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming’ [Matthew 24:48], professed to be waiting for Christ. He was a ‘servant,’ outwardly devoted to the service of God while at heart he had yielded to Satan. He does not, like the scoffer, openly deny the truth, but reveals in his life the sentiment of the heart—that the Lord’s coming is delayed. Presumption renders him careless of eternal interests. He accepts the world’s maxims and conforms to its customs and practices. Selfishness, worldly pride, and ambitions predominate. Fearing that his brethren may stand higher than himself, he begins to disparage their efforts and impugn their motives. Thus he smites his fellow servants.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 101, 102.

13 What is the difference between faith and presumption? James 2:14–20.

Note: “Faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression. Faith would have led our first parents to trust the love of God, and to obey His commands. Presumption led them to transgress His law, believing that His great love would save them from the consequence of their sin. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.” The Desire of Ages, 126.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 How does Satan control many church-goers who find no pleasure in the Bible and meditation on heavenly things?

2 What class is represented by an evil servant, and why?

3 What will be the end of all who love this world?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Unbalanced Minds

February 6, 2011 – February 12, 2011

Key Text

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 511–517; The Desire of Ages, 631.


“It was Satan’s purpose to mingle truth with error, that through these deceptive exercises he might make of none effect the genuine work of God.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 77, 78.

1 Why are the warnings given in Matthew 24:4 and Isaiah 8:20 so important for our time?

Note: “I would say to our dear brethren who have been so eager to accept everything that came in the form of visions and dreams, Beware that you be not ensnared. Read the warnings that have been given by the world’s Redeemer to His disciples to be given again by them to the world. The Word of God is solid rock, and we may plant our feet securely upon it. Every soul must needs be tested, every faith and doctrine must needs be tried by the law and the testimony. Take heed that no man deceive you. The warnings of Christ on this matter are needed at this time; for delusions and deceptions will come in among us, and will multiply as we near the end.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 952.

2 How were dreams and visions used to deceive Israel, and what should we learn from this? Jeremiah 23:25–27.

Note: “There will be false dreams and false visions, which have some truth, but lead away from the original faith. The Lord has given men a rule by which to detect them: [Isaiah 8:20 quoted]. If they belittle the law of God, if they pay no heed to His will as revealed in the testimonies of His Spirit, they are deceivers.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 98.

3 How has God warned His people about false dreams and visions, and why does Satan use them? Jeremiah 29:8, 9.

Note: “After a very solemn meeting with these deceived ones [who claimed to have from God messages of reproof to others], confessions were made that they threw themselves into attitudes resembling Sister White, as nearly as they could. It was all a farce, a deception. Yet many things they told came to pass as they predicted.

“I was asked how this could be if the visions were all false. I told them that it was Satan’s purpose to mingle truth with error, that through these deceptive exercises he might make of none effect the genuine work of God. From that time all their many visions ceased. What has become of those who had the visions, and those who encouraged them? Several now living are skeptics, have no belief in the gifts of the church, no faith in the truth, no religion at all. Such, I have been shown, is the sure result of spurious visions.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 77, 78.

4 What do we know about the different categories of dreams mentioned in the Word of God? Ecclesiastes 5:3; Jeremiah 23:32; I Kings 3:5.

Note: “There are many dreams arising from the common things of life with which the Spirit of God has nothing to do. ‘There are also false dreams, as well as false visions, which are inspired by the spirit of Satan. But dreams from the Lord are classed in the word of God with visions and are as truly the fruits of the spirit of prophecy as visions. Such dreams, taking into the account the persons who have them, and the circumstances under which they are given, contain their own proofs of their genuineness.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 5, 658.

5 What were true prophets called in old times, and why? I Samuel 9:9; Numbers 12:6; 24:16, 17.

Note: “To Christ ‘give all the prophets witness.’ Acts 10:43. From the promise given to Adam, down through the patriarchal line and the legal economy, heaven’s glorious light made plain the footsteps of the Redeemer. Seers beheld the Star of Bethlehem, the Shiloh to come, as future things swept before them in mysterious procession.” The Desire of Ages, 211, 212.

6 What will some hold as revelations from God? Ezekiel 13:7, 8.

Note: “Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 146.

“They [who are deceivers that belittle the law of God] are controlled by impulse and impressions, which they believe to be from the Holy Spirit, and consider more reliable than the Inspired Word. They claim that every thought and feeling is an impression of the Spirit; and when they are reasoned with out of the Scriptures, they declare that they have something more reliable. But while they think that they are led by the Spirit of God, they are in reality following an imagination wrought upon by Satan.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 98, 99.

7 With what presumptuous claim will many try to justify their course of action in the last days? Acts 8:9, 10.

8 What consequences result from the influence of those refusing to accept the counsel of godly brethren? Isaiah 50:11.

Note: “I have been shown many who will claim to be especially taught of God, and will attempt to lead others, and from mistaken ideas of duty they will undertake a work that God has never laid upon them. Confusion will be the result. Let everyone seek God most earnestly for himself that he may individually understand His will.

“There will be those who will claim to have visions. When God gives you clear evidence that the vision is from Him, you may accept it, but do not accept it on any other evidence.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 72.

“These teachers follow the sparks of their own kindling, move according to their own independent judgment, and cumber the truth with false notions and theories. They refuse the counsel of their brethren, and press on in their own way until they become just what Satan would desire to have them—unbalanced in mind. …

“The great adversary of God and man [Satan] is exulting today that he has succeeded in deceiving souls, and in diverting their means and ability into harmful channels.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 56.

9 What contrast can be seen between the words of Paul in Philippians 3:12–14 and some professed Christians today?

Note: “The apostle Paul had been caught up to the third heaven and had seen and heard things that could not be uttered, and yet his unassuming statement is: ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after.’ Philippians 3:12. Let the angels of heaven write of Paul’s victories in fighting the good fight of faith. Let heaven rejoice in his steadfast tread heavenward, and that, keeping the prize in view, he counts every other consideration dross. Angels rejoice to tell his triumphs, but Paul makes no boast of his attainments. The attitude of Paul is the attitude that every follower of Christ should take as he urges his way onward in the strife for the immortal crown.” The Acts of the Apostles, 562.

“None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God had honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their own nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with all who behold Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 160.

10 What do we know about anyone who claims sanctification above the possibility of committing sin? I John 1:8–10.

Note: “Let the recording angels write the history of the holy struggles and conflicts of the people of God; let them record their prayers and tears; but let not God be dishonored by the declaration from human lips, ‘I am sinless; I am holy.’ Sanctified lips will never give utterance to such presumptuous words. …

“Let those who feel inclined to make a high profession of holiness look into the mirror of God’s law. As they see its far-reaching claims, and understand its work as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, they will not boast of sinlessness. ‘If we,’ says John, not separating himself from his brethren, ‘say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.’ I John 1:8, 10.” The Acts of the Apostles, 561, 562.

11 Explain one major contrast to help us discern between the Spirit of God and Satan’s counterfeit. I Kings 19:12, 13; 18:26, 28; I Corinthians 14:33, 40.

Note: “Mere noise and shouting are no evidence of sanctification, or of the descent of the Holy Spirit. …

“The Lord desires to have in His service order and discipline, not excitement and confusion.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 35.

“The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time.” Ibid., 36.

12 How can we distinguish between the true gift of tongues and the false one? Acts 2:6–8; I Corinthians 14:9; Isaiah 8:19.

Note: “Some of these persons [a certain class of Sabbathkeepers] have exercises which they call gifts and say that the Lord has placed them in the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 412.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 How can we stand firm against all of Satan’s delusions?

2 For what purpose does Satan mingle truth with error?

3 What boastful claims are made by professed believers controlled by feelings, impressions and imaginations?

4 If order and discipline in a meeting are replaced by excitement and confusion, what spirit is leading?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.


Bible Study Guides – The Influence of the World

January 30, 2011 – February 5, 2011

The Church Militant

Key Text

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 331–342; Gospel Workers, 391–396.


“Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness.” The Great Controversy, 378.

1 What led to past apostasy in the church, and how did it reveal her condition? Revelation 18:3; James 4:4.

Note: “When the church begins to seek for the support of secular power, it is evident that she is devoid of the power of Christ—the constraint of divine love.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 127.

“As the Christian religion secured the favor and support of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes.” The Great Controversy, 385.

2 What are the consequences of seeking forbidden support? II Chronicles 15:2, last part; Hosea 4:17.

Note: “The union of the church with the state, be the degree never so slight, while it may appear to bring the world nearer to the church, does in reality but bring the church nearer to the world.” The Great Controversy, 297.

“This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God’s forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 51.

3 What should be our role with regard to the politics of the land in which we live? II Corinthians 6:17; I Timothy 5:22; Acts 5:29.

Note: “His [God’s] children are to separate themselves from politics, from any alliance with unbelievers. They are not to link their interests with the interests of the world. ‘Give proof of your allegiance to Me’ He says, ‘by standing as My chosen heritage, as a people zealous of good works’ [Titus 2:14]. Do not take part in political strife.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 483.

4 What will be the end of those who ignore the call to separate from worldly politics? II Thessalonians 1:7–9.

Note: “The Lord desires all who bear the message for these last days to understand that there is a great difference between professors of religion who are not doers of the word, and the children of God, who are sanctified through the truth, who have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The Lord speaks of those who claim to believe the truth for this time, yet see nothing inconsistent in their taking part in politics, mingling with the contending elements of these last days, as the circumcised who mingle with the uncircumcised, and He declares that He will destroy both classes together without distinction. They are doing a work that God has not set them to do. They dishonor God by their party spirit and contention, and He will condemn both alike.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 482.

“What are we to do, then?—Let political questions alone. [II Corinthians 6:14 quoted.] ‘And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel’ [II Corinthians 6:15]? What can there be in common between these parties? There can be no fellowship, no communion. The word fellowship means participation, partnership. God employs the strongest figures to show that there should be no union between worldly parties and those who are seeking the righteousness of Christ. What communion can there be between light and darkness, truth and unrighteousness?—None whatever. Light represents righteousness; darkness, error, sin, unrighteousness. Christians have come out of darkness into the light. They have put on Christ, and they wear the badge of truth and obedience. They are governed by the elevated and holy principles which Christ expressed in His life. But the world is governed by principles of dishonesty and injustice.” Ibid., 476.

5 What warning comes to the church with regard to the adopting of worldly policies? Proverbs 4:14, 15.

Note: “The religion of Jesus is endangered. It is being mingled with worldliness. Worldly policy is taking the place of the true piety and wisdom that comes from above, and God will remove His prospering hand from the conference. Shall the ark of the covenant be removed from this people? Shall idols be smuggled in? Shall false principles and false precepts be brought into the sanctuary? Shall antichrist be respected? Shall the true doctrines and principles given us by God, which have made us what we are, be ignored? Shall God’s instrumentality, the publishing house, become a mere political, worldly institution? This is directly where the enemy, through blinded, unconsecrated men, is leading us.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 95, 96.

6 What does the Lord expect of His faithful servants? Ezekiel 3:17.

7 How does a lowering of God’s standards by men affect their qualifications to perform His work today? I Corinthians 14:8.

Note: “Men will employ every means to make less prominent the difference between Seventh-day Adventists and observers of the first day of the week. A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner, or sign, which makes us a distinct people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed that this was not the best policy in order to secure success to our institutions. But this is not a time to haul down our colors, to be ashamed of our faith. This distinctive banner, described in the words, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ [Revelation 14:12], is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. While efforts should be increased to advance in different localities, there must be no cloaking of our faith to secure patronage. Truth must come to souls ready to perish; and if it is in any way hidden, God is dishonored, and the blood of souls will be upon our garments.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 144.

8 What effect will modern worldly philosophies have if heeded? Colossians 2:8.

Note: “There are men among us in responsible positions who hold that the opinions of a few conceited philosophers, so called, are more to be trusted than the truth of the Bible, or the testimonies of the Holy Spirit. Such a faith as that of Paul, Peter, or John is considered old-fashioned and insufferable at the present day. It is pronounced absurd, mystical, and unworthy of an intelligent mind.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.

9 What role does the ministry have in protecting the church from ungodly philosophies? I Timothy 6:20; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2, 3.

Note: “There is a spirit of opposition to the plain word of God and to the testimony of His Spirit. There is a spirit of idolatrous exaltation of mere human reason above the revealed wisdom of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.

“There are those who know the truth but do not practice it. These greatly long for some new, strange thing to present. In their great zeal to become original some will bring in fanciful ideas which are but chaff. Even now there is a descending from the sublime and living issues for this time to the ridiculous and fanciful, and sensational minds stand ready to catch up suppositions and guesses and human theories and false science as truth to be accepted and taught.

“These put the test of salvation on speculation without one plain, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ They thus bring in a mass of rubbish, wood, hay, and stubble, as precious material to be laid upon the foundation stone. This will not stand the test of fire, but will be consumed, and if the ones who have made themselves believe these theories are so self-deceived and know not the truth yet are converted, their life is saved as by fire through repentance and humiliation before God. They have been dealing in common things in place of the sacred. Many catch up ideas which are of no consequence and place them before the flock of God as food, when they are only chaff which will never benefit or strengthen the flock of God, but will keep them in the lowlands, because they are feeding upon that which contains not the least virtue or nourishment.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1157.

10 How does Satan boast of his ability to deceive people concerning the message of reformation? I Kings 22:21, 22.

Note: “ ‘I [Satan] will also have unbelieving ones present who will express doubts in regard to the Lord’s messages of warning to His church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last.’ ” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 475.

“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God.” Ibid., 411.

11 What will happen to a church that rejects the Lord’s message? Matthew 6:23.

Note: “Let all who read these lines, take heed. Satan has made his boast of what he can do. He thinks to dissolve the unity which Christ prayed might exist in His church. He says, ‘I will go forth and be a lying spirit to deceive those that I can, to criticize, and condemn, and falsify.’ Let the son of deceit and false witness be entertained by a church that has had great light, great evidence, and that church will discard the message the Lord has sent, and receive the most unreasonable assertions and false suppositions and false theories.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 409.

“Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness.” The Great Controversy, 378.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 What results from a union between church and state?

2 What must the Christian realize about politics?

3 What is the result of lowered standards?

4 While Satan is working to prevent the spreading of the truth, what should the little remnant be doing?

5 What is Satan’s plan to lead the church into apostasy?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Recipe – Frozen Berry-Nut Parfait

12 oz. Mori-Nu tofu

¾ cup fresh blueberries

½ cup diced fresh or frozen strawberries

2-3 Tbsp natural sweetener or to taste

3 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the nuts, and process until smooth. Stir in the nuts. Transfer to a pint container, cover and freeze for about 30 minutes, or until cold and frosty. Serve immediately. This can be served later, but it will form ice crystals if frozen longer than directed, and is not as creamy.

Food – Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?

Once you decide to quit smoking, the first thing to work on is a game plan. The most successful place to start is with a realization that it is not the Lord’s will that any should damage their body and mind with this habit nor be enslaved by it. God has given great and precious promises to help those who have made a decision to change bad and addicting habits. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:23, 24. It is important that the smoker believes he/she can quit smoking and give any remaining doubt to the Lord—help my unbelief! Fear of failure is also common, and a great text to help with this is Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Lastly, it is critical for the smoker to realize that he/she is not strong enough on his/her own to do this, but with Christ as the Helper success is guaranteed: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. With this dependence on God, the smoker is ready to develop the game plan.

Any plan must be initiated, so it is important to set a date to stop smoking. Remember, procrastination is the enemy of accomplishing anything worthwhile, so the sooner the better. It is important to prepare your home and surroundings to eliminate all roadblocks to success. Totally rid your house, vehicle, and work area of all cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. As quickly as possible, wash your clothes, including dry cleaning winter coats or suits, bedding, and things that carry the odor of cigarette smoke. Vacuum your house, furniture, and vehicle thoroughly. Wash or dry clean your curtains, as these hold the smell of cigarettes and can hinder your quitting efforts.

Many people just do not know what to do with their hands or mouths when they stop smoking, so be sure to have carrot or celery sticks to chew on. Others have found that flavored toothpicks help. Have a calming, soothing, decaffeinated herbal tea available to drink. If you enjoy crafts, woodworking, mechanics, etc., plan to have a project that you can begin on your quitting day. It is also helpful to pick a day that you will remember, your birthday, the birthday of a loved one, just something to know that from this day forward, you are a non-smoker, and finally, begin to tell everyone you know that with the Lord’s help you are going to be a non-smoker.

It is also important to identify why you smoke. This varies and will affect the game plan. If someone smokes because of stress, then the plan must include some stress reduction modalities. Make a list of reasons why you smoke and then tailor part of your plan to address these reasons.

Health – Slippery Elm

Superior Demulcent

Dr. John R. Christopher, founder of The School of Natural Healing, classed Slippery Elm among the demulcent and emollient herbs, soothing substances with much mucilage that soothe tissues and help remove inflammation and mucous wherever they are used. Slippery Elm is particularly useful because its abundant mucilage soothes, disperses inflammation, draws out impurities, heals rapidly and greatly strengthens as it heals. It is especially good for irritated or inflamed surfaces. One of the foremost uses of the herb is for internal irritation, especially of the digestive tract.

Slippery Elm is usually retained and digested when no other food or liquid is tolerated. It normalizes bowel functions very quickly, either stopping diarrhea or helping bring about a bowel movement. It is one of the mildest of laxatives and can be taken by anyone, children or pregnant women alike, as it is absolutely harmless. If the mucous membrane of the stomach or intestines is irritated, Slippery Elm will speedily restore it to its proper function.

Many preparations of Slippery Elm are sold on the market as bland and nutritious foods. In some cases, the powdered bark is added to a base of barley malt and pre-cooked wheat flour. The malted barley helps convert cereal starches into digestible carbohydrates.

Because coughs are often associated with digestive disruption, particularly of the eliminative tract, Slippery Elm is wonderful in the correcting of coughs. It soothes the mucous membranes directly. Many people make lozenges of the herb, mixing it with maple syrup or honey until a stiff paste forms, and then chilling it until quite firm and then cutting it into pieces. It is a harmless confection to give children and will help roll down the mucous out of the system as it soothes the cough. It also reduces the inflammation of the surfaces.

Slippery Elm has often been used for external problems. Mixed with an herb tea appropriate to an external problem, it provides an excellent herbal poultice bandage for external use, put onto a clean linen or cotton bandage and bound upon the place. Dr. Christopher said it is excellent when applied to sores, wounds, gangrene, burns, tumors and infected areas.

He also says that for abscesses and boils and gangrenous wounds, nothing can surpass it used either with a mixture of Wormwood or very fine charcoal. Slippery Elm bark will also preserve fatty substances from becoming rancid. If a hollow tooth aches and it is not possible to see a dentist, a pinch of slippery elm powder will ease the pain and arrest decay temporarily, although it is in no sense a drug.

The powdered bark is often recommended for so many problems that it is hard to enumerate them all. In addition to what has been mentioned, it has been used for croup, pneumonia, internal ulcers, skin eruptions of many kinds, poison ivy, and tumors.

The doctrine of signatures (a doctrine that states that, by observation, one can determine from the color of the flowers or roots, the shape of the leaves, the place of growing, or other signatures, what the plant’s purpose was in God’s plan) states that the mucilaginous nature of the bark makes it good to treat all catarrhal (inflammation of the mucous membranes, especially the respiratory tract) disturbances and irritations of the bronchial and alimentary systems. It is especially indicated in cough remedies to facilitate the removal of phlegm. It is good to facilitate any kind of removal from the system, as some doctors say that an expectant mother should drink about a half pint of the tea in the last couple of months to facilitate the easy removal of the baby from her body.

Historical Uses

This herb has been used for bedsores, dehydration and malnutrition, vaginal problems, rectal problems, wounds, burns, gangrene, fevers, diarrhea, inflamed eyes, ulcers, swelling, consumption, rheumatism, dysentery, toothache, boils and carbuncles, sore throat, bleeding of lungs, chapped hands and face, nourishment for the sickly, poison ivy, broken bones, appendicitis, whooping cough, leprosy, suppressed urine, dropsy, hard tumors, bladder inflammation, to procure easy labor, to accelerate healing, as a laxative, to neutralize stomach acid, to absorb foul gases, for coughs, chest troubles, tuberculosis, the great white plague, dyspnea, urinary tract problems, hemorrhoids, baldness, sciatica, as a lubricant in labor, to provoke abortion, purulent opthalmia, chilblains, croup, pneumonia, calculi, burning urine, all catarrhal disturbances, bronchitis, and to remove phlegm.


Slippery Elm Delight can be made by mixing a handful of agar-agar in about 3 cups of water, heating until melted. Add 2 tablespoons of Slippery Elm powder, 4 tablespoons of Chia seeds, 4 tablespoons of flax seeds, 1 mashed ripe banana, a handful of raisins, cinnamon (or substitute) and carob powder (to taste). Mix together well and let gel into a pudding in the refrigerator. This should tone up sluggish intestines.

In Ten Talents, (Rosalie Hurd, B.S., Frank J. Hurd, D.C., M.D., College Press, Collegedale, Tennessee, 2008), a superior vegan cookbook, it is suggested that Slippery Elm be added to ice cream recipes for smoothness and creaminess. Here is one of the excellent recipes:

In a blender, blend till smooth:

1 cup cashews

3 cups water

1 tsp. Slippery Elm powder

½ cup raw honey

1–2 Tbsp. soy milk powder

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

When smooth, add slowly 1/3 cup coconut or soy oil. Blend well and freeze. Whip again and return to freezer. Serve before it gets too hard. Carob powder or fresh fruit may be added.

You can make a healthy confection that is also good for the bowels by grinding dried fruits and nuts together, sweetening with honey and adding Slippery Elm to help bind it. Roll into balls and coat with equal amounts of carob powder and Slippery Elm mixture. Refrigerate if desired. This is delicious and a great substitute for other candies.

The inner bark, which has had the outer bark carefully scraped off, is the part commonly used. Most people do not grow Slippery Elm for their home use, as the ten-year-old trees are considered minimally mature for use. Elm trees do not flourish everywhere and grow only in certain parts of the United States of America. Large quantities of the bark are collected in spring from the bole and larger branches of trees, especially in the lower part of the state of Michigan, and are then dried. As the wood has no commercial value, the tree is fully stripped, consequently killing the whole tree. This is considered a shame, and it is wondered whether wild collectors might take less of each tree (usually the large roots can be collected) and preserve the tree above, as a small amount taken from each tree might not kill the entire specimen. The bark is allowed to air dry before packaging. Slippery Elm is very inexpensive and retains its quality well in storage.

Chemical Compositions

The principal constituent of the bark is the mucilage which is very similar to that found in flaxseed. Starch, calcium oxalate and acid sodium phosphate are also present.

Excerpts of this article are from, October 2010.

Questions and Answers – Time Set Aside for God

How important is it to set apart daily time with God? How will this help me in developing Christian character?

Each morning, a great while before daybreak, Jesus rose and prayed to His Father (Mark 1:35). If Jesus was so serious about reserving time for His Father, we should also realize the importance of personal time with God.

First, we should desire to be with the Lord simply because we love Him. Those who allow their personal worship time to be crowded out by late sleeping or the activities of daily life show a lack of friendship with God.

Second, time with God enriches us personally. Bible reading familiarizes the reader with the teachings, guidelines, and promises of God. A willful neglect of these will leave us unprepared when temptations arise. Adequate time for personal prayer lays the foundation for a day of communion with God.

Third, making regular time for devotions demonstrates our earnestness to receive God’s help. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. These were Jesus’ words to His disciples, just prior to events that would bring them into great trial. But, their eyes were heavy and sleep took the place of prayer. Jesus had asked, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” Verse 40. More than one hour would have been better, but they could not devote even one. They showed that preparing to remain faithful in the trials ahead was not their first priority. When we neglect prayer and study, or shirk the faithful hour and content ourselves with a few random minutes, we evidence to God and angels that we have higher priorities than establishing a walk with God.

So what should you do? Decide that personal time with God each morning will be a serious priority from now on. Make time for it at the beginning of your day, when the house is quiet and distractions are not pressing in to steal your attention. Allow adequate time. Jesus recommends at least one hour. Do not be tempted to omit or shorten this time or to put it off until later in the day. If one day you make a mistake and are not consistent, do not give up; have your worship that evening, if necessary, and then pray for help to become more consistent.

Morning worship is not a guarantee that we will be faithful throughout the day, for victory lies in continuing and maintaining the union with God formed in the morning. If we leave our devotional hour and forget to pray, we are likely to fall into some temptation. If this happens, do not become discouraged about the value of morning devotions. Rather, pray for help to continue your communion with God, instead of breaking it off at the end of your devotional time.

Merely reading and saying a perfunctory prayer will be of little help if we fail to fully surrender the will to Christ. Complete submission, seeking God’s will, and communion with Him must take place. If these things are continued through the following hours, we will be prepared to stay strong in the Lord through the whole day.

If you have a Bible question you wish to have answered, please write to Steps to Life or e-mail it to:

Keys to the Storehouse – The Atmosphere of Heaven

Just think about what the atmosphere of heaven is really like—where agape love is part of the heart and is lived out in everything. In just a casual reading of I Corinthians 13:4–8, we do not see or realize the positive impact this would make in our lives and the lives of those around us, if our hearts were truly full of love and it flowed out through our influence and actions and not merely just words. Would you not like to walk in the atmosphere of heaven right here and now? I surely would!

When each has an understanding of the real meaning of the words in I Corinthians 13:4–8 and the Holy Spirit works a miracle transformation in the heart and life, a heavenly influence would be felt that would impact everything and everyone around us. What does it really mean?

  • Love suffers long (patient)—agape love drives away all impatience
  • Love is kind (friendly)—agape love leaves room for no unkindness
  • Love envies not (jealous)—agape love banishes all jealousy
  • Love vaunts not itself (boasts)—with agape love, boasting and self-assertion disappear
  • Love is not puffed up (pride)—agape love makes no place in the heart for pride
  • Love does not behave itself unseemly—agape love makes no room for recklessness, foolishness and rashness
  • Love seeks not its own—with agape love, self is dead, selfishness is unknown
  • Love is not provoked—agape love banishes anger and wrath
  • Love takes no account of evil—brooding over so-called wrongs will be no more. Bitterness will not be found with agape love in the heart
  • Love beareth all things—complaining will never be heard
  • Love believeth all things—mistrust will not destroy fellowship
  • Love hopeth all things—despair, anxiety, despondency go

Whenever impatience and unkindness dwell in your life, it is evident that God’s agape love, which comes from God, is absent from your heart. There is such a need to really understand and to allow that heavenly atmosphere, that agape love into our very hearts—into our very lives.

Why are we in this world? In Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 171, it says, “Believers in Christ are, in this world, to bring into action the principles of heaven.” Now is the time to bring into action in our personal lives these most wonderful principles of heaven so others may receive the blessings from God through us. God is waiting for you and me to represent His kingdom right here and right now.

There is no impatience, unkindness, rashness, bitterness, anger, complaining or brooding over so-called wrongs in God’s kingdom. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17. What a most wonderful atmosphere that could begin in our hearts right now and flow forth to others.

Oh Heavenly Father, I want more than anything to walk in the midst of that heavenly atmosphere so that others will receive a little sampling of heaven right here and now through me. Please fill me with Your agape love and let it so transform me as to bring into action the principles of heaven that all will be blessed. Amen.

Turn this key to the Storehouse to receive your heavenly sample right now.

Children’s Story – Hands

An old man, probably some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the park bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence, and the longer I sat I wondered if he was okay.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him, but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was all right. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you, sir, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were okay,” I explained to him.

“Have you ever looked at your hands?” he asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Then he smiled and related this story: “Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life. They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.

“They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle. Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off my best friend’s foot. They have held children, consoled neighbors and shook in anger as fists when I didn’t understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life.

“But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and touch. And He won’t care about where these hands have been or what they have done. What He will care about is to whom these hands belong and how much He loves these hands that have been dedicated to Him. And with these hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”

No doubt, I will never look at my hands the same again. I never saw the old man again after I left the park that day, but I will never forget him and the words he spoke. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife, I think of the man in the park. I have a feeling that his life was touched by the hand of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

Thank you, God, for hands!