Bible Study Guide – Parables from the Master Teacher – The Leaven of Truth

July 21, 2019 – July 27, 2019

Key Text

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33).

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 95–102.


“The leaven hidden in the flour works invisibly to bring the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 98.



  • What were some of the Bible meanings of leaven? Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:8.

 Note: “Among the Jews leaven was sometimes used as an emblem of sin. At the time of the Passover the people were directed to remove all the leaven from their houses as they were to put away sin from their hearts.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 95, 96.

  • What, however, was the application made by Jesus to the leaven used in His parable? Luke 13:20, 21.

Note: “In the Saviour’s parable, leaven is used to represent the kingdom of heaven. It illustrates the quickening, assimilating power of the grace of God.

“None are so vile, none have fallen so low, as to be beyond the working of this power. In all who will submit themselves to the Holy Spirit a new principle of life is to be implanted; the lost image of God is to be restored in humanity.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 96.



  • How does God want to transform our life and for what purpose? Romans 12:2; Philippians 2:5.

Note: “All true reformation begins with soul-cleansing. It is by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, that a change is wrought in the life. …

“If we would permit our minds to dwell more upon Christ and the heavenly world, we should find a powerful stimulus and support in fighting the battles of the Lord. Pride and love of the world will lose their power as we contemplate the glories of that better land so soon to be our home. Beside the loveliness of Christ, all earthly attractions will seem of little worth.” Sons and Daughters of God, 105.

“When we are united to Christ, we have the mind of Christ. Purity and love shine forth in the character, meekness and truth control the life. The very expression of the countenance is changed.

“Christ abiding in the soul exerts a transforming power, and the outward aspect bears witness to the peace and joy that reign within.” Reflecting Christ, 104.

  • How does God want to change our thoughts? 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:3, 4.

 Note: “By beholding Christ we become changed. If the mind dwells upon temporal things constantly, these things become all-absorbing, affecting the character, so that God’s glory is lost sight of and forgotten. The opportunities that are within reach for them to become conversant with heavenly things, are overlooked. Spiritual life dies.” Sons and Daughters of God, 105.

“By having a knowledge of Christ— His words, His habits, and His lessons of instruction—we borrow the virtues of the character we have so closely studied and become imbued with the spirit we have so much admired.” Ibid., 235.

“As we make Christ our daily companion we shall feel that the powers of an unseen world are all around us; and by looking unto Jesus we shall become assimilated to His image. By beholding we become changed. The character is softened, refined, and ennobled for the heavenly kingdom.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 85.



  • When does the leaven of truth begin to work? Jeremiah 29:13. Where does God start? Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 11:19.

Note: “As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97.

“The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness.” Steps to Christ, 43.

“Put your whole being into the Lord’s hands—soul, body, and spirit—and resolve to be His loving, consecrated agency, moved by His will, controlled by His mind, infused by His Spirit.” Sons and Daughters of God, 105.

  • Describe the process by which the leaven works from within the heart. John 3:3–5.

Note: “When truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is ‘born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever’ (1 Peter 1:23). This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the Word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to co-operate with God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 520.

“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. …

“In humble, grateful dependence he who has been given a new heart relies upon the help of Christ. He reveals in his life the fruit of righteousness. He once loved himself. Worldly pleasure was his delight. Now his idol is dethroned, and God reigns supreme. The sins he once loved he now hates. Firmly and resolutely he follows in the path of holiness.” Messages to Young People, 72, 74.



  • What is one of the means God uses to change the character? Romans 10:17; John 17:17.

Note: “The leaven of truth works a change in the whole man, making the coarse refined, the rough gentle, the selfish generous. By it the impure are cleansed, washed in the blood of the Lamb. Through its life-giving power it brings all there is of mind and soul and strength into harmony with the divine life. Man with his human nature becomes a partaker of divinity. Christ is honored in excellence and perfection of character. As these changes are effected, angels break forth in rapturous song, and God and Christ rejoice over souls fashioned after the divine similitude.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 102.

“If studied and obeyed, the word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us, body, soul, and spirit, to His will.” In Heavenly Places, 21.

  • How does the Holy Spirit work in the life to effect change? John 3:8. How does this compare with the work of the leaven in the flour?

Note: “The leaven hidden in the flour works invisibly to bring the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the soul. The natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. A new standard of character is set up—the life of Christ. The mind is changed; the faculties are roused to action in new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties, but the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is awakened. We are endowed with traits of character that enable us to do service for God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 98, 99.

  • What will guide our decisions in our changed life? John 8:29.

Note: “The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right—because right doing is pleasing to God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97, 98.



  • What is a basic attribute of God’s kingdom? 1 John 4:10; John 3:16.

 Note: “In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us. We consider His life on earth, His sacrifice for us, His work in heaven as our advocate, and the mansions He is preparing for those who love Him, and we can only exclaim, O the height and depth of the love of Christ!” The Acts of the Apostles, 333, 334.

  • How will this attribute be shown in our dealings with others? John 13:34; 1 John 4:11; Colossians 3:12.

 Note: “We should be self-forgetful, ever … watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies, that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle, help make up the sum of life’s happiness.” My Life Today, 192.

“During every hour of Christ’s sojourn upon the earth, the love of God was flowing from Him in irrepressible streams. All who are imbued with His Spirit will love as He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in all their dealing one with another.” The Desire of Ages, 678.

“If Christ dwells in us, we shall reveal His unselfish love toward all with whom we have to do.” The Ministry of Healing, 162.



1     What power is shown by the leaven in the Saviour’s parable?

2    If we fill our thoughts with Christ and heaven, what effect will this change have upon our spiritual experience?

3    Why does a genuine life change work like the leaven, from within outward?

4    What are some ways the leaven of truth change us? What happens to our natural inclinations? What does this transformation mean?

5    How can we show the love of Christ to others?


©2018, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guide – Parables from the Master Teacher – Tares Among the Wheat

July 14, 2019 – July 20, 2019

Key Text

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field” (Matthew 13:24).

Study Help:  Christ’s Object Lessons, 70–75.


“Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart. The tares and the wheat are to grow together until the harvest; and the harvest is the end of probationary time.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 72.



  • Where was the good seed sown? Matthew 13:24.

Note: “ ‘The field,’ Christ said, ‘is the world’ (Matthew 13:38). But we must understand this as signifying the church of Christ in the world. The parable is a description of that which pertains to the kingdom of God, His work of salvation of men; and this work is accomplished through the church. True, the Holy Spirit has gone out into all the world; everywhere it is moving upon the hearts of men; but it is in the church that we are to grow and ripen for the garner of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 70.

  • What is the object of God’s highest regard in this world? Zechariah 2:8, last part; Ephesians 5:25.

 Note: “I testify to my brethren and sisters that the church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 15.



  • Who else is engaged in sowing, and what does he sow? Matthew 13:38, 39.

Note: “The tares represent a class who are the fruit or embodiment of error, of false principles. ‘The enemy that sowed them is the devil’ (Matthew 13:39). Neither God nor His angels ever sowed a seed that would produce a tare. The tares are always sown by Satan, the enemy of God and man.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 71.

“While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 46.

  • In the parable, when did the enemy work? Matthew 13:25. What can we learn from this?

Note: “When the word is spoken, you should remember, brethren, that you are listening to the voice of God through His delegated servant. Listen attentively. Sleep not for one instant, because by this slumber you may lose the very words that you need most—the very words which, if heeded, would save your feet from straying into wrong paths. … Sometimes young men and women have so little reverence for the house and worship of God that they keep up a continual communication with each other during the sermon. Could these see the angels of God looking upon them and marking their doings, they would be filled with shame, with abhorrence of themselves. God wants attentive hearers. It was while men slept that Satan sowed his tares.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 493.

  • How could Satan’s work have been prevented? 1 Thessalonians 5:5–8.

 Note: “If faithfulness and vigilance had been preserved, if there had been no sleeping or negligence upon the part of any, the enemy would not have had so favorable an opportunity to sow tares among the wheat. Satan never sleeps. He is watching, and he improves every opportunity to set his agents to scatter error, which finds good soil in many unsanctified hearts.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 113.



  • What did the servants discern when the blade appeared? Matthew 13:26. What did they propose to do in order to preserve the purity of the crop? Verses 27, 28.

Note: “Christ’s servants are grieved as they see true and false believers mingled in the church. They long to do something to cleanse the church. Like the servants of the householder, they are ready to uproot the tares.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 71.

  • What was the directive of the Master concerning the tares? Why? Matthew 13:29, 30.

Note: “As the tares have their roots closely intertwined with those of the good grain, so false brethren in the church may be closely linked with true disciples. The real character of these pretended believers is not fully manifested. Were they to be separated from the church, others might be caused to stumble, who but for this would have remained steadfast.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 72.

“In His mercy and long-suffering, God bears patiently with the perverse and even the falsehearted. Among Christ’s chosen apostles was Judas the traitor. Should it then be a cause of surprise or discouragement that there are falsehearted ones among His workers today? If He who reads the heart could bear with him who He knew was to be His betrayer, with what patience should we bear with those at fault.” The Ministry of Healing, 493.

  • Why cannot the Master’s instruction be used to justify leaving open sinners in the church? Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11, 13.

Note: “As a people professing to be reformers, treasuring the most solemn, purifying truths of God’s word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at the present time. Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make more thorough work to cleanse the camp from Achans. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he must either put away his sins or be separated from the church.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 147.



  • How is the work of separating the wheat from the tares symbolized? Ezekiel 9:2–4. When does this work begin? Revelation 14:9–13.

Note: “I then saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.’ ” Early Writings, 118.

“The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 234.

“The angel is to place a mark upon the forehead of all who are separated from sin and sinners, and the destroying angel will follow, to slay utterly both old and young.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 505.

  • Why is God the only One capable of judging those who are not open sinners? Psalm 7:9, last part; 44:21; Proverbs 21:2.

 Note: “Should we try to uproot from the church those whom we suppose to be spurious Christians, we should be sure to make mistakes. Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 71, 72.

  • What evidence shows that the destiny of each class is fixed before the close of probation? Revelation 22:11.

Note: “There is no time when all the wicked will turn to God. The wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest. …

“When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and the destiny of each class is forever fixed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 123.



  • For what purpose will the wheat be in contact with the tares in the world until the very end? 1 Peter 2:9, last part.

 Note: “The day is just upon us when the righteous shall be bound like precious grain in bundles for the heavenly garner, while the wicked are, like the tares, gathered for the fires of the last great day. But the wheat and tares ‘grow together until the harvest’ (Matthew 13:30). In the discharge of life’s duties the righteous will to the last be brought in contact with the ungodly. The children of light are scattered among the children of darkness, that the contrast may be seen by all. Thus are the children of God to ‘show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).” Testimonies, vol. 5, 100.

  • What great separation will take place in the very end? Matthew 13:40–43; 15:13; 24:31. What Old Testament feast pointed to that time? Leviticus 23:34.

Note: “The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner. At that time the wicked will all be destroyed.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 541.



1     Where are we to grow in our faith, and how does God send help for us?

2    How can you prevent Satan from sowing tares in your heart while you are at church?

3    Why should we be long-suffering with our brethren and sisters?

4    Why can’t we uproot from the church those whom we think are tares?

5    What is the purpose of the children of light being scattered among the children of darkness? Do I blend in with the light or the darkness?

Bible Study Guide – Parables from the Master Teacher – Planting the Seed of Truth

July 7. 2019 – July 13, 2019

Key Text

“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 62–69, 76–89.


“While the human sower is planting the seed to sustain our earthly life, the Divine Sower will plant in the soul the seed that will bring forth fruit unto life everlasting.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 89.



  • To whom do we owe our existence? Acts 17:28; Isaiah 44:24.
  • What two things does God provide to all mankind in order to sustain life? Matthew 5:45. How does God’s power work in the spiritual realm? Isaiah 55:10, 11.

Note: “There is life in the seed, there is power in the soil; but unless an infinite power is exercised day and night, the seed will yield no returns. The showers of rain must be sent to give moisture to the thirsty fields, the sun must impart heat, electricity must be conveyed to the buried seed. The life which the Creator has implanted, He alone can call forth. Every seed grows, every plant develops, by the power of God. …

“As in the natural, so in the spiritual sowing; the teacher of truth must seek to prepare the soil of the heart; he must sow the seed; but the power that alone can produce life is from God. There is a point beyond which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the word, we can not impart the power that will quicken the soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In the preaching of the word there must be the working of an agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine Spirit will the word be living and powerful to renew the soul unto eternal life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 63, 64.



  • What is represented by the seed in the parables of Jesus? Luke 8:11.
  • Where should we sow this seed? Ecclesiastes 11:6; Isaiah 32:20.

Note: “To sow beside all waters means to give wherever our help is needed. This will not tend to poverty. ‘He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully’ (2 Corinthians 9:6). By casting it away the sower multiplies his seed. So by imparting we increase our blessings. God’s promise assures a sufficiency, that we may continue to give.

“More than this: as we impart the blessings of this life, gratitude in the recipient prepares the heart to receive spiritual truth, and a harvest is produced unto life everlasting. …

“The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man.” Education, 109, 110.

  • How should we sow the gospel seed, and why? 2 Corinthians 9:6.

Note: “We are to sow beside all waters, keeping our souls in the love of God, working while it is day, using the means entrusted to us in the Master’s service. Whatever our hands find to do, we are to do it with cheerfulness; whatever sacrifice we are called upon to make, we are to make it cheerfully. As we sow beside all waters, we shall realize the truth of the words, ‘He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully’ (2 Corinthians 9:6, last part).

“We owe everything to grace, sovereign grace. Grace ordained our redemption, our regeneration, and our adoption to heirship with Jesus Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.

“The Saviour takes those whom He finds will be molded, and uses them for His own name’s glory. He uses material that others would pass by, and works in all who will give themselves to Him. He delights to take apparently hopeless material, those whom Satan has debased, and through whom he has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from suffering, and from the wrath that is to fall upon the disobedient. He makes His children His agents in the accomplishment of this work, and in its success, even in this life, they find a precious reward.” Reflecting Christ, 256.



  • How does the good seed grow in the heart? Zechariah 4:6; Hosea 14:5, 7; Mark 4:26, 27.

Note: “The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots into the earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain. It receives the life-giving properties from the air. So the Christian is to grow by co-operating with the divine agencies. Feeling our helplessness, we are to improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 66, 67.

  • How do we know whether the seed growing in our heart is good or bad? Luke 6:45. What does God want us to do as the good seed grows within us? Verse 38.

Note: “Words and acts testify plainly what is in the heart. If vanity and pride, love of self and love of dress, fill the heart, the conversation will be upon the fashions, the dress, and the appearance, but not upon Christ or the kingdom of heaven. If envious feelings dwell in the heart, the same will be manifested in words and acts. …

“Some dwell upon what they shall eat and drink and wherewithal they shall be clothed. Their hearts are filled with these thoughts, and they flow out from the abundance of the heart, as though these things were their grand aim in life, their highest attainment.” Our High Calling, 283.

“The heart that has once tasted the love of Christ, cries out continually for a deeper draft, and as you impart you will receive in richer and more abundant measure. …To Jesus, who emptied Himself for the salvation of lost humanity, the Holy Spirit was given without measure. So it will be given to every follower of Christ when the whole heart is surrendered for His indwelling.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 20, 21.

  • In what areas of our experience does God especially want to see growth? 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:3.



  • What lessons can we learn from the mustard seed? Mark 4:30–32.

Note: “The seed from which sprang this giant [mustard] plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender shoot, but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it reached its present great size. So the kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ’s claim to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how widespread its influence! When Christ spoke this parable, there were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom. Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers, were urged over and over again as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus. But the mustard seed was to grow and spread forth its branches throughout the world. When the earthly kingdoms whose glory then filled the hearts of men should perish, the kingdom of Christ would remain, a mighty and far-reaching power.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 77, 78.

  • How important are the things in life which we consider just little things? Are they really little things? Song of Solomon 2:15.

Note: “A single grain of wheat, increased by repeated sowings, would cover a whole land with golden sheaves. So widespread may be the influence of a single life, of even a single act.” Education, 109.

  • What do we know about the development of a plant from a seed? Mark 4:26–29. How does this growth relate to our own development?

Note: “In the earliest years of the child’s life the soil of the heart should be carefully prepared for the showers of God’s grace. Then the seeds of truth are to be carefully sown and diligently tended. And God, who rewards every effort made in His name, will put life into the seed sown; and there will appear first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” The Adventist Home, 201.



  • What will determine what we reap in the harvest? Galatians 6:7, 8; Matthew 7:16, 17.

Note: “By the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unvarying certainty. The reaping testifies to the sowing. Here no pretense is tolerated. Men may deceive their fellow men and may receive praise and compensation for service which they have not rendered. But in nature there can be no deception. On the unfaithful husbandman the harvest passes sentence of condemnation. And in the highest sense this is true also in the spiritual realm. … the man in any business or profession who is untrue to his highest responsibilities, may flatter himself that, so long as the wrong is concealed, he is gaining an advantage. But not so; he is cheating himself. The harvest of life is character, and it is this that determines destiny, both for this life and for the life to come.

“The harvest is a reproduction of the seed sown. Every seed yields fruit after its kind. So it is with the traits of character we cherish. Selfishness, self-love, self-esteem, self-indulgence, reproduce themselves, and the end is wretchedness and ruin. … Love, sympathy, and kindness yield fruitage of blessing, a harvest that is imperishable.” Education, 108, 109.

  • What will we reap if we put God above every earthly consideration? Luke 18:29, 30.



1     Although the seed has life in itself, what is needed to make it grow? What is needed for growth in the spiritual realm?

2    What should be our attitude in sowing the gospel seed? How has the Saviour given us an example in this regard?

3    If we have good seed growing in our heart, what will our conversation be upon?

4    How does the mustard seed illustrate the growth of God’s kingdom?

5    What do we need to sow in order to reap an imperishable harvest?

Bible Study Guide – Parables from the Master Teacher – The Sower

June 30 – July 6, 2019

Key Text

“For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3).

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 33–61.


“The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin. Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in the name and strength of Jesus.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 56.



  • What circumstances existing among God’s professed people at the time of Christ’s ministry made the use of parables necessary? Matthew 13:10–13.

Note: “The gospel of Christ was a stumbling block to them [the Jewish people] because they demanded signs instead of a Saviour. They expected the Messiah to prove His claims by mighty deeds of conquest, to establish His empire on the ruins of earthly kingdoms. This expectation Christ answered in the parable of the sower. Not by force of arms, not by violent interpositions, was the kingdom of God to prevail, but by the implanting of a new principle in the hearts of men.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 35.

  • To what prophecy did Jesus relate His teaching in parables? Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:14, 15.

Note: “To minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour’s teaching unfolded more and more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 21.



  • What was the parable of the sower about? Matthew 13:3–8.

Note: “That with which the parable of the sower chiefly deals is the effect produced on the growth of the seed by the soil into which it is cast. … The question of greatest importance to you is, How do you treat My message? Upon your reception or rejection of it your eternal destiny depends.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 43, 44.

  • What is meant by the seed sown by the wayside? Matthew 13:19.

Note: “The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of an inattentive hearer. Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that becomes a highway for the world’s traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful indulgences, the soul is ‘hardened through the deceitfulness of sin’ (Hebrews 3:13). The spiritual faculties are paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves. They do not realize their need or their danger. They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by the message of His grace as something that does not concern them.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 44.

  • How does God consider those who sow discord in the church? Proverbs 6:16–19. How does this practice aid the devil in his work? Luke 8:11, 12.

Note: “Many who profess to be Christians are aiding the tempter to catch away the seeds of truth from other hearts. Many who listen to the preaching of the word of God make it the subject of criticism at home. … The message that should be regarded as the word of the Lord to them is dwelt upon with trifling or sarcastic comment. The minister’s character, motives, and actions, and the conduct of fellow members of the church, are freely discussed. Severe judgment is pronounced, gossip or slander repeated, and this in the hearing of the unconverted. Often these things are spoken by parents in the hearing of their own children. Thus are destroyed respect for God’s messengers, and reverence for their message. And many are taught to regard lightly God’s word itself.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 45, 46.



  • What happened to the seed which fell upon stony ground? Matthew 13:20, 21.

Note: “Many who make a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil of their good desires and aspirations. The love of self is not subdued. They have not seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the heart has not been humbled under a sense of its guilt. This class may be easily convinced, and appear to be bright converts, but they have only a superficial religion.

“It is not because men receive the word immediately, nor because they rejoice in it, that they fall away. … [They] do not count the cost. They do not consider what the word of God requires of them. They do not bring it face to face with all their habits of life, and yield themselves fully to its control.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 46, 47.

  • How did the rich young ruler show himself to be a stony-ground hearer? Matthew 19:22. How can we show the same attitude? John 6:60.

Note: “Many receive the gospel as a way of escape from suffering, rather than as a deliverance from sin. They rejoice for a season, for they think that religion will free them from difficulty and trial. While life moves smoothly with them, they may appear to be consistent Christians. But they faint beneath the fiery test of temptation. They cannot bear reproach for Christ’s sake. When the word of God points out some cherished sin, or requires self-denial or sacrifice, they are offended. It would cost them too much effort to make a radical change in their life. They look at the present inconvenience and trial, and forget the eternal realities.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 47, 48.

  • What does God require of us, and how did Jesus leave an example for us? Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1; 5:6–8.

Note: “Christ gave all for us, and those who receive Christ will be ready to sacrifice all for the sake of their Redeemer. The thought of His honor and glory will come before anything else.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 49.



  • What is meant by the thorns which choke the good seed? Mark 4:18, 19; Luke 8:14.
  • What should we remember in order to prevent the cares of this life from choking the good seed of truth? Matthew 6:25–32; Psalm 55:22.

Note: “Christians must work, they must engage in business, and they can do this without committing sin. But many become so absorbed in business that they have no time for prayer, no time for the study of the Bible, no time to seek and serve God. At times the longings of the soul go out for holiness and heaven; but there is no time to turn aside from the din of the world to listen to the majestic and authoritative utterances of the Spirit of God. The things of eternity are made subordinate, the things of the world supreme. It is impossible for the seed of the word to bring forth fruit; for the life of the soul is given to nourish the thorns of worldliness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 51, 52.

  • What attitude shows that the good seed is being choked by worldly riches? Deuteronomy 8:17.

Note: “The love of riches has an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those who possess worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them power to get wealth. … Instead of regarding wealth as a talent to be employed for the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity, they look upon it as a means of serving themselves.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 52.

  • How can we prevent “the lusts of other things” from choking the Word? Mark 4:19; Matthew 6:33, 34.

Note: “ ‘And the lusts of other things’ (Mark 4:19). These are not necessarily things sinful in themselves, but something that is made first instead of the kingdom of God. Whatever attracts the mind from God, whatever draws the affections away from Christ, is an enemy to the soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 53.



  • If our hearts are like the good ground, how will we receive the word of God? 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Jeremiah 15:16.

Note: “Only he who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God speaking to himself is a true learner. …

“The word of God often comes in collision with man’s hereditary and cultivated traits of character and his habits of life. But the good-ground hearer, in receiving the Word, accepts all its conditions and requirements. His habits, customs, and practices are brought into submission to God’s word. In his view the commands of finite, erring man sink into insignificance beside the word of the infinite God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 59, 60.

  • How important is the personal cultivation of the heart? Jeremiah 4:3, 4.

Note: “Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as depending upon the soil. In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in ourselves. But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground, the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable treasure.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 56.



1     Who only is able to understand Christ’s teachings?

2    How can we help the wayside hearer?

3    Some readily accept the truth and fail to count the cost. What is this cost?

4    How can something good choke the precious seeds of truth?

5    As we study the word of God, what will we notice about some of our habits and character traits? What should we do about these?

Recipe – Baked Onion Blossom


  • 2-4 medium red or sweet onions
  • 2-4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • dash salt
  • herbs/spices: dried rosemary, thyme, parsley, paprika, garlic granules or fresh minced, etc.


  • Slice onion ends; peel. Using a knife, make 4 vertical cuts in each onion; cut each quarter two more times, leaving root end intact. Gently pull onion “petals” down, separating segments.
  • Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Arrange onions root end down.
  • Drizzle oil into and around onion petals. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with herbs/spices.
  • Bake at 400˚ F for about 30-40 minutes or until onions are tender and edges are crispy.
  • Delectable served as a side dish with a green salad.


Food – Onions

Onions may make you cry, but they certainly don’t give you any reason to be sad. On the contrary, onions offer a bounty of health benefits along with the tears.

A member of the allium family—like garlic, leeks, and chives—the onion has been appreciated for thousands of years. Egyptian slaves building the pyramids were fed a diet that included onions, and onions were a prized food of the well-to-do in ancient China.

During the Civil War, Union general Ulysses S. Grant showed how essential onions were by sending a message to Washington that read, “I will not move my armies without onions.” He got the onions—and his side won the war.

Coincidence? Maybe not. Thanks to the powerful flavonoid quercetin and a host of sulfur compounds, onions can make anyone a winner. Onions, which also have some potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins, kill germs, help your heart, and fight cancer. Plus, they add great flavor and a pleasant aroma to almost any dish.

Even when applied to the skin, onions have healing powers. Onions have been used to kill funguses, yeasts, and parasites, soothe the sting of insect bites, and even to ward off infection from stingray wounds.

Why the tears? Crushing the cells of an onion releases a sulfur compound. When this compound reacts with the moisture in the eyes, it turns into sulfuric acid which irritates the eyes. The eyes then produce tears to flush the sulfuric acid out.

When you think of the onion’s delicious taste and mighty health powers, the only tears you’ll cry will be tears of joy.

Eat and Heal, © 2001, 266–269.


Baked Onion Blossom


  • 2-4 medium red or sweet onions
  • 2-4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • dash salt
  • herbs/spices: dried rosemary, thyme, parsley, paprika, garlic granules or fresh minced, etc.


  • Slice onion ends; peel. Using a knife, make 4 vertical cuts in each onion; cut each quarter two more times, leaving root end intact. Gently pull onion “petals” down, separating segments.
  • Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Arrange onions root end down.
  • Drizzle oil into and around onion petals. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with herbs/spices.
  • Bake at 400˚ F for about 30-40 minutes or until onions are tender and edges are crispy.
  • Delectable served as a side dish with a green salad.


Who is on the Lord’s Side?

Throughout his letters to the early churches, Paul taught that the whole world was under the jurisdiction of the law of God. He explained that the law was not only given for the Jews and abolished by Christ for Christians, but that all needed to keep it.

A misunderstanding arose within the church regarding the ceremonial laws. In Acts the 15th chapter, we read that there were some people who taught the Christians in Antioch that unless they were circumcised according to the manner of Moses, they could not be saved. It says, “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question” (verses 1, 2).  Verse 5 says, “Some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.’ ”

A council was held in Jerusalem amongst the church leaders and it was determined that it was not necessary to require the Christians to keep the law of Moses and to be circumcised. Paul then made some very strong statements concerning this in his letters, and as a result, some people have concluded that the apostle Paul taught that Christians no longer need to keep the law of God. The question is, however, which law was he referring to?

He wrote, “For He Himself [Christ] is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us [the Jews and the Gentiles], having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:14–17, literal translation).

Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances. From this statement, people have said that if Christ abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances, we do not need to keep the law of God.

However, in Colossians the 2nd chapter, it says, “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [that is, in the cross]. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in regarding a festival, or a new moon, or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations [or ordinances] —‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle’ ” (verses 14–21)? He goes on to say, “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (verse 23).

So, people have concluded that Paul taught that the law of God was not binding on Christians. Some people have qualified that a little bit and say that it is necessary to keep the seventh commandment because even though Christians were released from being circumcised and keeping the law of Moses, they required them to keep the commandment dealing with immorality. Acts 15:28, 29: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

None of the other commandments are mentioned. The nations of the ancient world knew that immorality was wrong. There were strict penalties against adultery, taking another’s wife, and all knew that was wrong, but many of them did not think that fornication was wrong. They thought there was nothing wrong in having sexual relations with somebody who wasn’t married. For that reason, the apostles pointed out to the Christians that the seventh commandment included all manner of sexual immorality.

(The apostles also prohibited the Christians from eating of blood. In fact, nowhere in the Bible is permission given to the follower of the Lord to eat blood, though millions of Christians throughout the world eat blood today when they are eating meat.)

Paul said it was the law contained of ordinances that was abolished, and not God’s commandments. He said, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

Think that through. Can you abolish a law and establish a law at the same time? Paul is talking about two laws. Paul says that there is a law of commandments contained in ordinances that is abolished (Ephesians 2:15) and a law that is established (Romans 3:31). Notice, this is not some new law that was given in New Testament times; it is a law from the times of the Old Testament that by faith in Christ is established. Paul says that “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). He also says that if the law wasn’t there he wouldn’t even know what sin was (Romans 7:7), because, as John says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV).

Notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3:  “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (literal translation). Why did Christ die? Christ died for our sins. What is sin? You would think that everybody in the world would know by now what sin is, but many do not. Sin, the Bible says, is breaking God’s law. If you don’t have a law, then there isn’t any sin. And if you don’t have a sin, you don’t need a sacrifice and there is no need for a gospel, for the gospel is to save men from sin. The gospel doesn’t save men in breaking God’s law; it saves men from breaking God’s law. Remember the words of the angel to Joseph before the birth of Jesus: “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 KJV).

So, there was a law that was abolished when Christ came, a law having to do with ordinances—concerning foods and drinks, feast days, and yearly ceremonies (Leviticus 23)—those things were done away at the cross of Jesus. Those were temporary laws that were given regarding things that would happen in the gospel dispensation in the future. But, the law of God, the Ten Commandment law, was not done away; in fact, Paul says, “It was established.”

Notice he says: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19 KJV). Or many translations add the words, “keeping the commandments of God is what matters,” or “is everything.”

Circumcision is not anything; whether you are circumcised or not circumcised is not the issue. The issue is, do you keep the commandments of God, for that is what matters. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1–4).

Paul said that the righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in those who walk according to the Spirit, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. So what about the person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit? Paul says that person is not going to keep the law. In fact, he says, a person who has a sinful nature, who has not been converted or received the Holy Spirit, cannot keep the law of God. He says, “For to be carnally minded is death, But to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:6, 7). Notice, he says, “the carnal mind,” the person who is not converted, that person is not subject to the law of God; in fact, it’s impossible, nor indeed, can that person be subject to the law of God. But then he goes on to say, that’s not your situation. You’ve chosen to follow Christ; you’re filled with the Holy Spirit. He said, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (verse 14).

Paul taught that there was coming a time in the future of the Christian church when multitudes of people considering themselves to be Christians would violate the law of God and still expect that they were going to go to heaven, regardless that they were living in deliberate violation of God’s holy law. Paul taught that an antichrist power would come that would enter the Christian church and cause Christians to break the law of God. He was not the first one who predicted this.

Daniel prophesied that this antichrist power “shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and laws. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church: “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition …” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3). Paul predicted that the Second Coming of Christ would not come in his day. He said that before that great event there would be a great apostasy, a falling away from the truth, and the antichrist would be revealed. He said that this “man of sin [or antichrist] … opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (verse 4).

In Ephesians 2, the church of God is likened to a temple. A temple is a building where a deity resides. The church is to be a temple for the indwelling of God, but the antichrist is going to sit in the temple; in other words, in the church. The antichrist is going to arise in the church and he is going to exalt himself above every god that is worshiped, and he is going to show himself that he himself is God. Paul says, “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed” (verses 5–8, first part).

Notice that the antichrist is described here as the lawless one. In Daniel the antichrist is described as a power that intends to change times and laws. Here it is described as a lawless power, a power that teaches people to break God’s law. This antichrist power is going to continue until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven and then it will be destroyed. Paul said, “Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (verse 8).

He says in verses 9, 10, “The coming of the lawless one [the antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

Friend, do you love the truth? Paul said that if you don’t receive the love of the truth, you are going to be deceived by miracles that will be performed by evil spirits and you will think that they are being performed by the Holy Spirit. “For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (verses 11, 12).

Those who believe the lie and have pleasure in unrighteousness will still lose their soul. They well may plead ignorance or that they were deceived, but they neglected to receive the love of the truth and had pleasure in unrighteousness. Having pleasure in unrighteousness is taking pleasure in sin, in breaking God’s law. Those people will all be condemned.

The book of Revelation reveals the startling fact that in the very last days almost the entire world will worship the antichrist power. This is a violation of the first commandment that forbids the worship of anyone except the God of heaven. The second commandment forbids a person to bow down to any image or idol but, “All the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3, last part). Then it says in verse 8, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

We are coming to a time when everybody in the world, except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, is going to worship the antichrist. Whom will you worship? In Revelation, it is pointed out that in the last days a line will divide the people of the world into two groups—on one side will be those who keep God’s commandments; on the other side will be those who worship the antichrist and the image of the antichrist (Revelation 13, 14).

Revelation 12:17 says that “The dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman [God’s people], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The devil is enraged with those who keep God’s commandments and he tries to destroy them. He causes a law to be passed that all who refuse to worship the antichrist and the image to the antichrist will be killed (Revelation 13). The devil is going to try to destroy every person who keeps God’s commandments. But God’s children will still be keeping His commandments. Revelation 14:12 says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

O, friend, we are headed toward a gigantic spiritual crisis that is going to divide the whole world into two camps—those who keep God’s commandments and those who do not keep God’s commandments. It is just that simple.

In the last chapters of the book of Revelation this warning is repeated. In fact, in the last two chapters it is repeated at least three times. Looking at one in Revelation 22:14 and 15, it says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral (7th commandment), and murderers (6th commandment), and idolaters (2nd commandment), and whoever loves and practices a lie” (9th commandment). You see, in the final analysis, whether you are on the inside or whether you are on the outside in the last generation depends on whether or not you are loyal to God’s law.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.


Health – Kids: Connection to Nature Lessens Distress, Hyperactivity, and Behavioral Problems

City lifestyle has been criticized for being an important reason for children being disconnected from nature. This has led to an unhealthy lifestyle in regard to active play and eating habits. Even worse, many young children do not feel well psychologically – they are often stressed and depressed. Sixteen percent of pre-schoolers in Hong Kong and up to 22% in China show signs of mental health problems.

Recent research shows that spending time in nature may bring many health benefits, and many environmental programs around the world are trying to decrease ‘nature-deficit’ and ‘child-nature disconnectedness’ in order to improve children’s health. For example, the World Health Organization, in order to monitor implementation of the Parma Declaration commitment to providing every child with access to “green spaces to play and undertake physical activity,” has set a 300-meter target. Interestingly, 90 per cent of the Hong Kong population lives within 400 metres of such areas. However, despite the extensive, adjacent greenness, families are not using these areas.

“We noticed a tendency where parents are avoiding nature. They perceive it as dirty and dangerous, and their children unfortunately pick up these attitudes. In addition, the green areas are often unwelcoming with signs like ‘Keep off the grass,’ ” said Dr. Tanja Sobko from the School of Biological Sciences of the University of Hong Kong. Until now, it has not been possible to measure connectedness to nature in preschool children, mostly due to the fact that they are too young to answer for themselves.

A new 16-item parent questionnaire to measure “connectedness to nature” in very young children has been developed by Dr. Sobko and her collaborator Prof. Gavin Brown, Director of the Quantitative Data Analysis and Research Unit at the University of Auckland. The questionnaire identified four areas that reflect the child-nature relationship: enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility towards nature, and awareness of nature.

The study consisted of two parts: the initial interviews with the families and the subsequent development of the questionnaire. Altogether, 493 families with children aged between 2 and 5 have participated in the study. Finally, the new questionnaire was tested against the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, a well-established measurement of psychological well-being and children’s behaviour problems. The results revealed that parents who ensured that their child had a closer connection with nature discovered that the child had less distress, less hyperactivity, and fewer behavioural and emotional difficulties, and improved pro-social behaviour. Interestingly, children who took greater responsibility towards their interaction with nature had fewer peer difficulties. The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children.

The study is part of Dr. Sobko’s research-based program “Play&Grow,” which is the first in Hong Kong to promote healthy eating and active playtime with preschool children by connecting them to nature. Launched 2016, it has so far included almost 1000 families from all over Hong Kong.

The findings have been published in the multidisciplinary Open Access journal, PLOS ONE. The new scale has already attracted international attention and is being adopted by universities worldwide including Western Australia and Deakin Universities. In addition, the HKU-developed “Play&Grow” program is also on track to be conducted in Australia. …

The next step is to further fine-tune future health promotion/disease prevention interventions, which Dr. Sobko and the team are committed to. … The new exciting extension of this work is to test the effect of exposing children to nature and then assessing for changes in their gut microbiota.

(Adapted from

For children, play is learning. There is no better space for kids to learn than the outdoors, and there is no better play resource than nature.

One of the best lessons children can be taught in their early years is to play outdoors. Children innately reap great benefits as they grow connection with and appreciation of the natural environment. In the structured, busy and technologically-advanced world we live in, the role of outdoor play that we experienced as children is being forgotten.

“Nature play” significantly improves all aspects of child development – physical, cognitive, social and emotional. …

There are many benefits to participating in nature play as a child, which also resonate into adulthood. Such outcomes from nature play include achievement, innovation, creativity, positive relationship development, skill development, self-awareness directly related to employability skills planning, organizing, decision making, innovation, problem solving, communication and working with others. The connection between these skills and the skills that will contribute to success later in life are clear to see.

Conversely, children who are not supported, encouraged, inspired or provided the opportunity to develop an intrinsic love of outdoor play are increasingly becoming disconnected from nature, to their detriment.

Children who don’t regularly participate in outdoor play lead sedentary lifestyles and are put at risk. Richard Louv, the American social commentator who wrote Last Child in the Woods, coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe as an illness afflicting children disconnected from nature. Symptoms of nature deficit disorder (as outlined by Louv, 2005) include depression, hyperactivity, boredom and loneliness. It may also manifest in reduced motor development and diminished mental and psychological health, including lack of attention, learning ability and creativity.

According to “Beyond Blue to Green,” a 2010 Australian report on the benefits of contact with nature for mental health and wellbeing, if we don’t take drastic changes to curb current sedentary indoor lifestyle trends, it is foreseeable that obesity, depression, stress, anxiety and mental health issues – which are all closely linked – will also continue to rapidly increase.

(Adapted from

“In early ages, with the people who were under God’s direction, life was simple. They lived close to the heart of nature. Their children shared in the labor of the parents and studied the beauties and mysteries of nature’s treasure house. And in the quiet of field and wood they pondered those mighty truths handed down as a sacred trust from generation to generation. Such training produced strong men.

“ … we may learn from them lessons that will make our seasons of recreation what the name implies—seasons of true upbuilding for body and mind and soul.” The Adventist Home, 501.

“For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. Even when the child is old enough to attend school, his health should be regarded as of greater importance than a knowledge of books. He should be surrounded with the conditions most favorable to both physical and mental growth.

“To the nervous child, who finds lessons from books exhausting and hard to remember, it [work in garden and field] will be especially valuable. There is health and happiness for him in the study of nature. …

“Working the soil is one of the best kinds of employment, calling the muscles into action and resting the mind.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 179.

“Little children should be permitted to run and play out of doors, enjoying the fresh, pure air, and the life-giving sunshine. Let the foundation of a strong constitution be laid in early life.” The Review and Herald, January 10, 1882.

“In order for children … to have health, cheerfulness, vivacity, and well-developed muscles and brains, they should be much in the open air … .” Counsels on Health, 177, 178.

Question and Answer – Why call the woman a dog?

“He [Jesus] answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs” (Matthew 15:26).

“The woman urged her case with increased earnestness, bowing at Christ’s feet, and crying, ‘Lord, help me’ (Matthew 15:25). Jesus, still apparently rejecting her entreaties, according to the unfeeling prejudice of the Jews, answered, ‘It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.’ This was virtually asserting that it was not just to lavish the blessings brought to the favored people of God upon strangers and aliens from Israel. This answer would have utterly discouraged a less earnest seeker. But the woman saw that her opportunity had come. Beneath the apparent refusal of Jesus, she saw a compassion that He could not hide. ‘Truth, Lord,’ she answered, ‘yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table’ (verse 27). While the children of the household eat at the father’s table, even the dogs are not left unfed. They have a right to the crumbs that fall from the table abundantly supplied. So while there were many blessings given to Israel, was there not also a blessing for her? She was looked upon as a dog, and had she not then a dog’s claim to a crumb from His bounty?

“Jesus had just departed from His field of labor because the scribes and Pharisees were seeking to take His life. They murmured and complained. They manifested unbelief and bitterness, and refused the salvation so freely offered them. Here Christ meets one of an unfortunate and despised race, that has not been favored with the light of God’s word; yet she yields at once to the divine influence of Christ, and has implicit faith in His ability to grant the favor she asks. She begs for the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table. If she may have the privilege of a dog, she is willing to be regarded as a dog. She has no national or religious prejudice or pride to influence her course, and she immediately acknowledges Jesus as the Redeemer, and as being able to do all that she asks of Him.

“The Saviour is satisfied. He has tested her faith in Him. By His dealings with her, He has shown that she who has been regarded as an outcast from Israel is no longer an alien, but a child in God’s household. As a child it is her privilege to share in the Father’s gifts. Christ now grants her request, and finishes the lesson to the disciples. Turning to her with a look of pity and love, He says, ‘O woman, great is thy faith’ (verse 28).” The Desire of Ages, 401.

Keys to the Storehouse – Work While You Wait

While meditating, a startling thought passed through my mind. What if I do not make it into eternity? Terrible loss! I found this quote that says, “Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.” (By Italo Calvino) Our future to achieve is eternity! I began to pray more for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I thought that all I needed was the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and I would be just fine. Wrong! There is much more.

“I was shown that if God’s people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 619.

Wow. That was quite a reading! My thinking was wrong—I was really in shock! I have to do something!

Neglecting the preparation? “I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter!

  • They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God.
  • Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building.

“But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. …

  • I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action.

“We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” Early Writings, 71.


Our Father! Give us the victory over pride, selfishness, love of the world that we may receive the latter rain—the refreshing of the Lord, and be ready to dwell in Thy presence. Please forgive us for “just waiting” when we truly have a work to do to prepare for the heavenly courts. Have mercy on us for our slothfulness and grant us of Thy grace continually to not just wait but to overcome this world. We do not want to be dead branches. Amen.