Bible Study Guides – A Type of Christ

June 19, 2016 – June 25, 2016

Key Text

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 2, 200–215.


“The life of Joseph illustrates the life of Christ.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 239.


  • How did Jacob’s sons’ betrayal of Joseph compare to Christ’s betrayal? Genesis 37:18; John 1:11; Matthew 21:37–39.

Note: “The life of Joseph illustrates the life of Christ. It was envy that moved the brothers of Joseph to sell him as a slave; they hoped to prevent him from becoming greater than themselves. And when he was carried to Egypt, they flattered themselves that they were to be no more troubled with his dreams, that they had removed all possibility of their fulfillment. But their own course was overruled by God to bring about the very event that they designed to hinder. So the Jewish priests and elders were jealous of Christ, fearing that He would attract the attention of the people from them. They put Him to death, to prevent Him from becoming king, but they were thus bringing about this very result.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 239.

  • In what way was the selling of Joseph likened to Judas selling Christ? Genesis 37:28; Matthew 26:14–16.

Note: “Joseph was sold to his enemies by his own brethren for a small sum of money. The Son of God was sold to His bitterest enemies by one of His own disciples. Jesus was meek and holy. His was a life of unexampled self-denial, goodness, and holiness. He was not guilty of any wrong. Yet false witnesses were hired to testify against Him. He was hated because He had been a faithful reprover of sin and corruption.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1096.


  • What happened to the garments of Joseph and Christ? Genesis 37:23, 31; Matthew 27:28, 35.

Note: “Joseph’s brethren stripped him of his coat of many colors. The executioners of Jesus cast lots for His seamless coat.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1096.

  • How did the actions of those who opposed Joseph and Christ bring about their very own salvation? Genesis 50:20, 21; Acts 2:36–38.

Note: “Joseph, by being sold by his brethren into Egypt, became a saviour to his father’s family. Yet this fact did not lessen the guilt of his brethren. The crucifixion of Christ by His enemies made Him the Redeemer of mankind, the Saviour of the fallen race, and ruler over the whole world. But the crime of his enemies was just as heinous as though God’s providential hand had not controlled events for His own glory and the good of man.” The Signs of the Times, February 5, 1880.

  • How did Joseph’s attitude in suffering typify Christ’s sufferings? Genesis 39:19, 20; Isaiah 53:6–8.

Note: “Joseph walked with God. And when he was imprisoned, and suffered because of his innocence, he meekly bore it without murmuring. His self-control, his patience in adversity, and his unwavering fidelity are left on record for the benefit of all who should afterward live on the earth.” The Signs of the Times, February, 5, 1880.

“Close to the cross are the blind, bigoted, faithless priests and elders, taunting, mocking, and jeering: ‘Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself’ (Matthew 27:40). …

“Not one word did Jesus answer to all this. While the nails were being driven through His hands, and the sweat drops of agony were forced from His pores, from the pale, quivering lips of the innocent Sufferer a prayer of pardoning love was breathed for His murderers: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ (Luke 23:34).” Testimonies, vol. 2, 208, 209.


  • After being freed from prison, Joseph was made second ruler; he was given a new name; and everyone was to bow to him. How does this compare to Christ, after He was freed from the prison of death? Genesis 41:41–45; Hebrews 10:12, 13; 1:3, 4; Philippians 2:9–11.

Note: “When man rebelled, Christ became his surety and substitute. He undertook the combat with the powers of darkness; and when through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, the highest honors were bestowed upon Him. He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and sat down at the right hand of God—the very Jesus who had borne the curse of sin for us. And there was given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. To Him God has delegated His power; He has the keys of death and the grave.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 15, 1889.

  • What similarities can be found in the life mission of both Joseph and Christ? How did God use each of them to save life? Genesis 45:5–8; John 3:16, 17; 6:53, 63; 5:24.

Note: “The story of a crucified and risen Saviour is the great central theme of the word of God. In the psalms, in the prophecies, in the gospels, and in the epistles, God has by revelation made prominent the vital truths concerning the agreement between the Father and the Son in providing for the salvation of a lost race.

“Christ was crucified to save the world. For His enemies, for a race in rebellion against God, our Saviour suffered the most excruciating agonies that human flesh could endure. He has made ample provision for sinners, that they need not perish. In the light of His death-agony on the cross, we may know that whosoever will truly repent and receive Him as a personal Saviour will receive everlasting life.” The Review and Herald, September 24, 1908.

“The gospel invitation is to be given to all the world. …

“The world is perishing for want of the gospel. There is a famine for the word of God. There are few who preach the word unmixed with human tradition. Though men have the Bible in their hands, they do not receive the blessing that God has placed in it for them. The Lord calls upon His servants to carry His message to the people. The word of everlasting life must be given to those who are perishing in their sins.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 228, 229.


  • In what way does the carrying of Joseph’s body to Canaan symbolize the hope of the heavenly Canaan? Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:18, 19; Hebrews 11:22, 39, 40.

Note: “Through the centuries of toil which followed, the coffin, a reminder of the dying words of Joseph, testified to Israel that they were only sojourners in Egypt, and bade them keep their hopes fixed upon the Land of Promise, for the time of deliverance would surely come.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 240.

“The only hope for the Jewish nation was in their acceptance of Christ, in forsaking their sins, and being reconciled to God. United to Christ, they would indeed become a great nation. He would work for them as He had worked for them in the past. If they were obedient, He would lead them to the heavenly Canaan as He had planted them in the earthly Canaan.” The Signs of the Times, July 21, 1898.

  • What is our hope as we journey through this world? I Thessalonians 4:13–18; John 14:1–3.

Note: “We are indeed strangers here, and pilgrims to a better country. Our prospective home is the heavenly Canaan, where we shall drink of the ‘pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb’ (Revelation 22:1).” The Review and Herald, November 17, 1885.

“I am bidden to say to you that you know not how soon the crisis will come. It is stealing gradually upon us, as a thief. The sun shines in the heavens, passing over its usual round, and the heavens still declare the glory of God; men are pursuing their usual course of eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage; merchants are still engaged in buying and selling; publications are still issuing one upon another; men are jostling one against another, seeking to get the highest place; pleasure lovers are still attending theaters, horse races, gambling hells, and the highest excitement prevails; but probation’s hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided. There are few who believe with heart and soul that we have a heaven to win and a hell to shun; but these show their faith by their works.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 413, 414.


  • What is the only way we can become as faithful to God as Joseph was? Philippians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 12:2.

Note: “Precious are the privileges accorded him who abides in Christ. … The mind of Christ dwells in His faithful followers; their desires are in accordance with His will; their petitions are indited by His Spirit. They obtain answers to their prayers; for they ask for such blessings as He delights to bestow.” Our High Calling, 147.

  • In these last days of prevailing wickedness, what should we desire above everything else? I John 3:2, 3; I Peter 2:21–23; 5:10.

Note: “When man is in fellowship with God, that unswerving purpose which preserved Joseph and Daniel amidst the corruption of heathen courts will make his a life of unsullied purity. His robes of character will be spotless. In his life the light of Christ will be undimmed. The bright and morning Star will appear shining steadfastly above him in changeless glory.

“Such a life will be an element of strength in the community. It will be a barrier against evil, a safeguard to the tempted, a guiding light to those who, amidst difficulties and discouragements, are seeking the right way.” The Ministry of Healing, 136.

“We shall pass through this world but once. Shall we not strive to leave on those with whom we associate the impress of the character of Christ?” Testimonies, vol. 9, 193.


1 Who are often the worst enemies of the faithful?

2 What should our attitude be when persecuted for the truth’s sake?

3 For what is the world starving today, and how can we help to bring relief?

4 Why are the faithful regarded as pilgrims and strangers in this world?

5 What stands out the most when you consider the life of Joseph?

Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.


Bible Study Guides – The Family Reunion

June 12, 2016 – June 18, 2016

Key Text

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Study Help: The Signs of the Times, February 5, 1880.


“All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us. Let us look at the light behind the cloud.” My Life Today, 185.


  • How did Joseph reveal to his brothers that everything which had happened before came as a result of God’s providence and not by human will? Genesis 45:5–13.
  • As Christians, what should we always seek and acknowledge? James 4:13–15; Proverbs 16:9; Matthew 26:39.

Note: “Many are still tested. … They do not hear the voice of God speaking directly from the heavens, but He calls them by the teachings of His word and the events of His providence. They may be required to abandon a career that promises wealth and honor, to leave congenial and profitable associations and separate from kindred, to enter upon what appears to be only a path of self-denial, hardship, and sacrifice. God has a work for them to do; but a life of ease and the influence of friends and kindred would hinder the development of the very traits essential for its accomplishment. He calls them away from human influences and aid, and leads them to feel the need of His help, and to depend upon Him alone, that He may reveal Himself to them. Who is ready at the call of Providence to renounce cherished plans and familiar associations? Who will accept new duties and enter untried fields, doing God’s work with firm and willing heart, for Christ’s sake counting his losses gain?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 126, 127.


  • How sweet are God’s ways if we only wait for them? Genesis 45:14, 15. What did Joseph’s brethren have to confess?

Note: “They [Joseph’s brethren] humbly confessed their wrongs which they had committed against Joseph, and entreated his forgiveness, and were greatly rejoiced to find that he was alive; for they had suffered remorse and great distress of mind since their cruelty toward him. And now as they knew that they were not guilty of his blood, their troubled minds were relieved.

“Joseph gladly forgave his brethren, and sent them away abundantly provided with provisions, and carriages, and everything necessary for the removal of their father’s family, and their own, to Egypt.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 151.

  • What event reveals Joseph’s great love for his younger brother? Genesis 45:16–23. Why did Joseph offer a caution as his brothers departed? Verse 24.

Note: “He [Joseph] was afraid that they [his brothers] might enter into a dispute, and charge upon one another the cause of their guilt in regard to their cruel treatment of himself.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 151, 152.

  • How did Jacob react to the news that Joseph was still alive, and what grievous sin did the brothers have to confess after all those years? Genesis 45:25–28.

Note: “The sons of Jacob returned to their father with the joyful tidings, ‘Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ At first the aged man was overwhelmed; he could not believe what he heard; but when he saw the long train of wagons and loaded animals, and when Benjamin was with him once more, he was convinced, and in the fullness of his joy exclaimed, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die’ (Genesis 45:26, 28).

“Another act of humiliation remained for the ten brothers. They now confessed to their father the deceit and cruelty that for so many years had embittered his life and theirs. Jacob had not suspected them of so base a sin, but he saw that all had been overruled for good, and he forgave and blessed his erring children.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 231, 232.


  • What should we learn from the way Jacob wanted to be sure of God’s blessing before leaving the promised land of Canaan? Genesis 46:1–7.

Note: “He [Jacob] commenced his journey with gladness of heart, and when he came to Beersheba he offered grateful sacrifices, and entreated God to bless him, and make known to him if He was pleased with their moving into Egypt. Jacob wanted an evidence from God that He would go with them. [Genesis 46:2–4 quoted.]” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 152.

“We are to come to the Lord with all our burdens, seeking wisdom from above to guide us at every step.” The Signs of the Times, August 15, 1892.

  • Why did God desire His people to move to Egypt? Genesis 46:3; 12:1, 2; Psalm 105:17, 20–24.

Note: “The promise had been given to Abraham of a posterity numberless as the stars, but as yet the chosen people had increased but slowly. And the land of Canaan now offered no field for the development of such a nation as had been foretold. It was in the possession of powerful heathen tribes, that were not to be dispossessed until ‘the fourth generation’ (Genesis 15:16). If the descendants of Israel were here to become a numerous people, they must either drive out the inhabitants of the land or disperse themselves among them. .… Egypt, however, offered the conditions necessary to the fulfillment of the divine purpose. A section of country well-watered and fertile was open to them there, affording every advantage for their speedy increase.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 232.

  • How was Jacob’s dying wish granted? Genesis 46:29, 30.

Note: “Thither [to the land of Goshen] came Joseph in his chariot of state, attended by a princely retinue. The splendor of his surroundings and the dignity of his position were alike forgotten; one thought alone filled his mind, one longing thrilled his heart. As he beheld the travelers approaching, the love whose yearnings had for so many long years been repressed, would no longer be controlled. He sprang from his chariot and hastened forward to bid his father welcome.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 233.


  • Why did Jacob make Joseph swear to carry his body back to the land of Canaan? Genesis 47:27–31; 17:8.
  • What did Joseph’s brothers fear when Jacob died—and why? Genesis 50:14–18.

Note: “After the burial of Jacob fear again filled the hearts of Joseph’s brothers. Notwithstanding his kindness toward them, conscious guilt made them distrustful and suspicious. It might be that he had but delayed his revenge, out of regard to their father, and that he would now visit upon them the long-deferred punishment for their crime. They dared not appear before him in person, but sent a message: ‘Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin.’ … This message affected Joseph to tears, and, encouraged by this, his brothers came and fell down before him, with the words, ‘Behold, we be thy servants.’ Joseph’s love for his brothers was deep and unselfish, and he was pained at the thought that they could regard him as cherishing a spirit of revenge toward them. ‘Fear not,’ he said; ‘for am I in the place of God?’ (Genesis 50:16–19).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 239.

  • Explain why Joseph was not resentful nor revengeful. Genesis 50:19–21; Romans 12:17–21.

Note: “When Joseph’s brethren acknowledged their sin before him, he freely forgave them, and showed by his acts of benevolence and love that he harbored no resentful feelings for their former cruel conduct toward him.” The Signs of the Times, February 5, 1880.

“One of the most common sins, and one that is attended with most pernicious results, is the indulgence of an unforgiving spirit. How many will cherish animosity or revenge and then bow before God and ask to be forgiven as they forgive. Surely they can have no true sense of the import of this prayer or they would not dare to take it upon their lips. … If, in all their daily intercourse, Christians would carry out the principles of this prayer, what a blessed change would be wrought in the church and in the world! This would be the most convincing testimony that could be given to the reality of Bible religion.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 170, 171.


  • What prophetic promise did Joseph give to his loved ones just before he died, and who was called to fulfill that promise? Genesis 50:22–26; Exodus 3:1–10.

Note: “[Exodus 3:2–10 quoted.]

“The time had fully come when God would have Moses exchange the shepherd’s staff, for the rod of God, which he would make powerful in accomplishing signs and wonders, in delivering His people from oppression, and in preserving them when pursued by their enemies.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 188.

  • Why was this promise so important to Joseph and his descendants? Genesis 17:7, 8; Hebrews 11:13–16.

Note: “God gave to Abraham a view of this immortal inheritance, and with this hope he was content. ‘By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrews 11:9, 10).

“Of the posterity of Abraham it is written, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ (verse 13). We must dwell as pilgrims and strangers here if we would gain ‘a better country, that is, an heavenly’ (verse 16). Those who are children of Abraham will be seeking the city which he looked for, ‘whose builder and maker is God.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 170.


1 How can believing in God’s providence change our attitude in life?

2 Why is it far better to confess our sins earlier rather than later?

3 List the reasons why God led His people to Egypt.

4 What sin too often destroys the love and peace between siblings?

5 Where was the faith of the patriarchs focused?

Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Second Encounter

June 5, 2016 – June 11, 2016

Key Text

“This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12, 13).

Study Help: The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1880.


“There is greater power in love than was ever found in censure. Love will melt its way through barriers, while censure will close up every avenue of the soul.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 93.


  • As Joseph prepared a banquet for his brothers, what was foremost in their minds? Genesis 43:16–22.

Note: “Upon being conducted to the governor’s palace, the brothers were greatly alarmed, fearing that they were to be called to account for the money found in their sacks. They thought that it might have been intentionally placed there, to furnish occasion for making them slaves. In their distress they consulted with the steward of the house, relating to him the circumstances of their visit to Egypt; and in proof of their innocence informed him that they had brought back the money found in their sacks, also other money to buy food; and they added, ‘We cannot tell who put our money in our sacks’ (Genesis 43:22).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 228.

  • How does the servant’s reaction tell that Joseph was indeed a missionary in Egypt? Genesis 43:23; Romans 10:13–15.

Note: “Through Joseph the attention of the king and great men of Egypt was directed to the true God; and though they adhered to their idolatry, they learned to respect the principles revealed in the life and character of the worshiper of Jehovah.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 222.


  • How did Joseph feel when he saw his younger brother for the first time in twenty years? Genesis 43:24–30.

Note: “When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he could scarcely restrain his brotherly feelings of love. He gave direction to make preparation for his brethren to dine with him. …

“When Joseph came home, his brethren gave him the present in the name of their father, and they bowed themselves to him to the earth.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 145, 146.

“Again his [Joseph’s] dreams came to his mind, and after saluting his guests he hastened to ask, ‘Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?’ ‘Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive,’ was the answer, as they again made obeisance. Then his eye rested upon Benjamin, and he said, ‘Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me?’ ‘God be gracious unto thee, my son;’ but, overpowered by feelings of tenderness, he could say no more. ‘He entered into his chamber, and wept there’ (Genesis 43:27–30).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 228.

  • What were the brothers of Joseph marveling among themselves, as they dined with Joseph? Genesis 43:31–33.

Note: “Joseph placed his brethren at the table, as was customary when their ages were known, commencing with the eldest, according to his birthright, arranging them in order down to the youngest, as though he perfectly knew their ages. His brethren were astonished at this act of Joseph, who they thought could have no knowledge of their ages.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 146, 147.

  • Why did Joseph seek to pamper Benjamin in front of his brothers? Genesis 43:34.

Note: “As he [Joseph] sent a portion of food to each of his brethren, he sent Benjamin five times as much as the others. He did this not only to show his particular regard for his brother Benjamin, but to prove them, and see if they regarded Benjamin with the same envious feelings they had him. They thought that Joseph did not understand their language, and were free to converse with one another in his presence; therefore Joseph had a good opportunity to learn the true state of their feelings without their knowledge.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 147.


  • Why did Joseph make a point by placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack? Genesis 44:1– 6.

Note: “Still he [Joseph] desired to test them [his brothers] further, and before their departure he ordered that his own drinking cup of silver should be concealed in the sack of the youngest.

“Joyfully they set out on their return. Simeon and Benjamin were with them, their animals were laden with grain, and all felt that they had safely escaped the perils that had seemed to surround them. But they had only reached the outskirts of the city when they were overtaken by the governor’s steward, who uttered the scathing inquiry, ‘Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good’ (Genesis 44:4)?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 229.

  • How did the brothers react when they saw the cup inside Benjamin’s sack? Genesis 44:11–13. Why did the servant begin with the eldest brother?

Note: “Kings and rulers had a cup from which they drank, which was considered a sure detective if any poisonous substance was placed in their drink. … ‘Then they [Jacob’s sons] speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. And he [Joseph’s steward] searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack’ (Genesis 44:11, 12).

“At this discovery all were greatly surprised; and, to express their great distress, they rent their garments, which was the custom when in great affliction. Benjamin was more amazed and confounded than his brethren. They returned into the city sorrowful and afraid. They thought that the hand of God was against them for their past wickedness.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 147, 148.

  • Why is it important to select our words carefully, even when we feel confident? Genesis 44:7–10; Matthew 12:36, 37.

Note: “By their own promise, Benjamin was appointed to a life of slavery. And the fears of their father they thought would be fully realized. Mischief had befallen his much-loved Benjamin.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 148.


  • What act of Judah shows that the brothers had fully repented of their treacherous sin committed twenty years before? Genesis 44:14–34; John 15:12, 13.

Note: “Judah told his brethren that God had found out their iniquity for selling their brother in Egypt, and was now returning upon them their transgressions, by permitting them to become slaves also.

“Joseph refused to accept them all, according to the word of Judah, as bondmen. … Judah spoke with Joseph aside from the rest, and related to him the reluctance of his father to let Benjamin come with them to Egypt, and that he pledged himself to become surety for Benjamin, that if he brought him not to his father, he would bear the blame forever. He eloquently plead in behalf of his father, relating his great grief at the loss of Joseph, and that Benjamin was all that was left of the mother which his father loved, and that if Benjamin should be separated from his father, he would die; for his life was bound up in the lad’s life. Judah then nobly offered to become a slave instead of his brother; for he could not meet his father without Benjamin.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 148, 149.

  • After Judah’s plea to spare Benjamin and to save his father from grief, what was Joseph compelled to do? Genesis 45:1, 2.

Note: “Joseph was satisfied. He had proved his brethren, and had seen in them the fruits of true repentance for their sins; and he was so deeply affected that he could no longer conceal his feelings, and requested to be left alone with his brethren. He then gave vent to his long-suppressed feelings and wept aloud.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 149.

  • Why were Joseph’s brothers troubled at his revelation? Genesis 45:3, 4.

Note: “His [Joseph’s] brothers stood motionless, dumb with fear and amazement. The ruler of Egypt their brother Joseph, whom they had envied and would have murdered, and finally sold as a slave! All their ill treatment of him passed before them. They remembered how they had despised his dreams and had labored to prevent their fulfillment. Yet they had acted their part in fulfilling these dreams; and now that they were completely in his power he would, no doubt, avenge the wrong that he had suffered.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 230.


  • How did Joseph show his care for his brothers’ feelings and his forgiveness towards them? Genesis 45:5.

Note: “As Joseph saw the confusion of his brethren, he said to them, ‘Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt’ (Genesis 45:4). He nobly sought to make this occasion as easy for his brethren as possible. He had no desire to increase their embarrassment by censuring them. He felt that they had suffered enough for their cruelty to him, and he endeavored to comfort them.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 150.

  • What is the only way any relationship can be healed and restored? Matthew 18:21, 22; Colossians 3:12, 13. What is the biggest stumbling block to restoration? Proverbs 13:10.

Note: “It is always humiliating to have one’s errors pointed out. None should make the experience more bitter by needless censure. No one was ever reclaimed by reproach; but many have thus been repelled and have been led to steel their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins.” The Ministry of Healing, 166.

“If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties. Angels have been grieved and God displeased by the hours which have been spent in justifying self.” Early Writings, 119.


1 What will happen to those around us if we let our light shine as Joseph did?

2 Explain why Joseph was still wary of trusting his brothers.

3 Why did Joseph order the cup to be placed in Benjamin’s sack?

4 How did Joseph know his brothers had changed?

5 What or who is the greatest stumbling block to reconciliation?

Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The First Encounter

May 29, 2016 – June 4, 2016

The Life of Joseph

Key Text

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (I Peter 4:12).

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 224–227.


“We are standing before God on test and trial to see if we can individually be trusted to be of the number of the family who shall compose the redeemed in heaven.” Christian Education, 145.


  • What hidden purpose did God have in allowing the famine to reach Canaan? Genesis 42:1, 2; 46:3. When we can’t see God’s purpose in our trials, what should we do? Proverbs 3:5, 6; Hebrews 11:6. Why?

Note: “We all desire immediate and direct answers to our prayers, and are tempted to become discouraged when the answer is delayed or comes in an unlooked-for form. But God is too wise and good to answer our prayers always at just the time and in just the manner we desire. He will do more and better for us than to accomplish all our wishes. And because we can trust His wisdom and love, we should not ask Him to concede to our will, but should seek to enter into and accomplish His purpose. Our desires and interests should be lost in His will.

“These experiences that test faith are for our benefit. By them it is made manifest whether our faith is true and sincere, resting on the word of God alone, or whether, depending on circumstances, it is uncertain and changeable. Faith is strengthened by exercise. We must let patience have its perfect work, remembering that there are precious promises in the Scriptures for those who wait upon the Lord.” Gospel Workers, 219.

  • Why did Jacob send only ten sons to Egypt; what was he scared of? Genesis 42:3, 4.


  • What did Joseph immediately think of when he recognized his brothers bowing down to him when they came for food? Genesis 42:5–9; 37:5–8.

Note: “As Joseph saw his brothers stooping and making obeisance, his dreams came to his mind, and the scenes of the past rose vividly before him. His keen eye, surveying the group, discovered that Benjamin was not among them. Had he also fallen a victim to the treacherous cruelty of those savage men? He determined to learn the truth.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 224, 225.

  • Why did his brothers fail to recognize Joseph? Genesis 42:8, 23; 41:42, 43, 45.

Note: “His [Joseph’s] Hebrew name had been exchanged for the one bestowed upon him by the king, and there was little resemblance between the prime minister of Egypt and the stripling whom they had sold to the Ishmaelites.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 224.

  • Why did Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days, and what would have been on their minds during this time? Genesis 42:9–17.

Note: “He [Joseph] wished to learn if they [his brothers] possessed the same haughty spirit they had when he was with them. …

“The three days of confinement were days of bitter sorrow with Jacob’s sons. They reflected upon their past wrong course, especially their cruelty to Joseph. They knew if they were convicted of being spies, and they could not bring evidence to clear themselves, they would all have to die, or become slaves. They doubted whether any effort any one of them might make would cause their father to consent to have Benjamin go from him, after the cruel death, as he thought, Joseph had suffered.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 140–142.

“God … brings us into trying positions to see if we will trust in a power out of and above ourselves. Everyone has undiscovered traits of character that must come to light through trial. God allows those who are self-sufficient to be sorely tempted that they may understand their helplessness.” In Heavenly Places, 279.


  • Who was Joseph truly concerned for, and why? Genesis 42:18–20; 35:16–19.

Note: “He [Joseph] was anxious to draw from them [his brothers] some information in regard to his father and Benjamin. … His father and Benjamin are the very ones Joseph wishes to learn in regard to.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 140, 141.

  • Why did Joseph’s brothers think this calamity had come upon them? Genesis 42:21, 22. What effect did this conversation have on Joseph? Verses 23, 24, first part.

Note: “They [Jacob’s sons] sold Joseph as a slave, and they were fearful that God designed to punish them by suffering them to become slaves.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 142.

“They accused themselves in regard to their treatment of Joseph: ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.’ Reuben, who had formed the plan for delivering him at Dothan, added, ‘Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required’ (Genesis 42:21, 22). Joseph, listening, could not control his emotions, and he went out and wept.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 226.

  • When things go wrong in our lives, whom are we tempted to blame? Genesis 42:24–28. Who was actually the real cause of their troubles? Galatians 6:7, 8; Numbers 32:23.

Note: “Oh, that a right impression might be made upon the minds of young and old in regard to the exceeding sinfulness of sin! Oh, that all might have a just realization of its offensiveness to God, and its injury to mankind! The word of truth declares, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23). The real character of every act of your life will be made known. It may be even in this life that through the providence of God, some unexpected circumstance will uncover your secret deeds of evil; but should you succeed in hiding your real character from the eyes of men, there is an inevitable day of exposure reserved for every soul who does not repent of his sins and forsake all evil through the strength of Christ, Who has died that we might live.” The Review and Herald, March 27, 1888.


  • Why was Simeon left in prison? Genesis 42:24. What was Jacob’s reaction when he was told the news? Verses 29–36.

Note: “On his return he [Joseph] commanded that Simeon be bound before them and again committed to prison. In the cruel treatment of their brother, Simeon had been the instigator and chief actor, and it was for this reason that the choice fell upon him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 226.

“Jacob’s affections cling to Benjamin with all the strength of a mother’s love. He shows how deeply he has felt the loss of Joseph. But want presses upon Jacob and his children, and their households are calling for food.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 158, 159.

  • Explain why the declarations of Reuben and Judah reveal how the brothers’ affection for their father and for one another had deepened since their betrayal of Joseph? Genesis 42:37; 43:8, 9.

Note: “During the years since Joseph had been separated from his brothers, these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 225.

  • What tendency do we often manifest in our families when things go wrong? Genesis 43:1–7. Where did this weakness originate? Genesis 3:12, 13; Revelation 12:10.

Note: “Let every family seek the Lord in earnest prayer for help to do the work of God. Let them overcome the habits of hasty speech and the desire to blame others. Let them study to be kind and courteous in the home, to form habits of thoughtfulness and care.

“What harm is wrought in the family circle by the utterance of impatient words, for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck; for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul.” The Adventist Home, 438, 439.


  • When Jacob felt cornered, into whose hands was he compelled to surrender? Genesis 42:19, 20; 43:8–14; Psalm 33:18–22.

Note: “Jacob feels compelled to permit his son Benjamin to go with his brethren. He also sent a present to the ruler, hoping therewith to obtain his favor. He also directed his sons to take double money, and return the money found in their sacks; for it might have been placed there by mistake. He says to them, ‘Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man’ (Genesis 43:13).

“As his sons were about to leave him to go on their doubtful journey, their aged father arose, and, while standing in their midst, raised his hands to heaven, and entreated the Lord to go with them, and pronounced upon them a gracious benediction. ‘And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved’ (verse 14).” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 159, 160.

  • When we are faced with overwhelming circumstances, upon Whom can we always rely? Lamentations 3:22, 23; Psalm 103:13–17.

Note: “If we cling to Him [the Captain of our salvation] by living faith, saying with Jacob, ‘I will not let Thee go’ (Genesis 32:26); if we entreat, ‘Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me’ (Psalm 51:11), the promise is to us, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ (Hebrews 13:5).” Our High Calling, 22.


1 Explain how negative circumstances can benefit us in the long run.

2 How much faith can we put in God’s prophecies?

3 What should we always remember when tempted to conceal a sin?

4 How does a family crisis often reveal true character?

5 What is mercy, and why do we depend upon it so much?

Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Recipe – Creamy Baby Red Potato and Kale Soup

Creamy Baby Red Potato and Kale Soup
3 cups water 1 cup onions, chopped
4 cups baby red potatoes, cubed 2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups kale, julienne sliced or chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed
3 cups almond milk salt, to taste
Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add in the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Bring the temperature down a bit and add in the kale, onions, garlic. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Last, add in the olive oil, almond milk, and salt.

Food – The Potato

There are many varieties of potatoes. Each of these varieties fits into one of seven potato type categories: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. Let’s look at a few:

Russet Potatoes: dry, light and fluffy; hearty skin that is chewy when cooked and are preferred for baking, frying, mashing, roasting. Russets are ideal for light and fluffy mashed potatoes. They also fry up crisp and golden brown, and they are the potato of choice for baking.

Red Potatoes: smooth with thin red skin and white flesh. These are preferred for roasting, mashing, salads, soups/stews. The flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad or add pizazz to soups and stews, as well as being served baked or mashed.

White Potatoes: white or tan skin with white flesh and are preferred for mashing, salads, steaming/boiling, frying. They hold their shape well after cooking. Their thin skins add just the right amount of texture to a velvety mashed potato dish without the need for peeling.

Yellow Potatoes: light tan to golden skin and are preferred for grilling, roasting, mashing, and salads. The creamy texture and golden color of yellow potatoes mean you can use less or no butter/oil for lighter, healthier dishes.

Purple/Blue Potatoes: deep purple, blue or slightly red skin; blue, purple lavender, pink or white flesh and are used for roasting, grilling, salads, baking. Because of their mild yet distinctly nutty flavor, blue/purple potatoes naturally complement green salad flavors. Red, White and Blues—Combine blue potatoes with whites and reds in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors.

Fingerling Potatoes: red, orange, purple or white skin; red orange, purple, yellow or white flesh–sometimes streaked with veins of color and are used for pan-frying, roasting, salads. Split fingerlings lengthwise and oven-roast to serve as a small-plate or side-dish alternative to fries, with a flavor dipping sauce.

Petite Potatoes: small, bite-sized potatoes and are often referred to as pearls and are great for salads, roasting, frying. Roast a combination of colors for an eye-catching side dish. Their concentrated flavors and quicker cooking time makes petites a good choice for potato salads. Simply toss petites in olive oil, rosemary and salt to make colorful, delicious and fun roasted potatoes. They save you prep time, because they can be prepared and served whole, without slicing or chopping.

For more detail see:

Creamy Baby Red Potato and Kale Soup
3 cups water 1 cup onions, chopped
4 cups baby red potatoes, cubed 2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups kale, julienne sliced or chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed
3 cups almond milk salt, to taste
Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add in the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Bring the temperature down a bit and add in the kale, onions, garlic. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Last, add in the olive oil, almond milk, and salt.


Sermon on the Mount Series – To Satisfy the Hungry

It is a wonderful feeling to be satisfied. Unfortunately, in this world, this is not the experience of many people. Many having obtained riches have confessed that they are not satisfied and still others who have obtained fame or pleasure are still dissatisfied. Thus one wonders what is it that can produce perfect and lasting mental and spiritual satisfaction.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who were hungry. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). The hunger and thirst after righteousness is the result of the spiritual experience of the three things Jesus had before mentioned. First there must be a recognition of spiritual poverty. He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (verse 3). That leads to heart sorrow because of the sins that have been committed, which in turn leads to an experience of meekness or humbleness. The leanness and nakedness of soul causes a crying out after God and His righteousness. This soul hunger, Jesus said, is going to be satisfied. A good appetite is a sign of life and health. It is a very common experience for a person who is dying to lose his/her appetite and have no desire for food during the last few days of his/her life.

Only people who are alive hunger and thirst, while lack of appetite is generally a sign of failing health. Hunger and thirst lessen as life is diminished, but increase as life increases.

When a person dies, his or her emotions and passion for hunger and thirst cease altogether, while a healthy baby will have an appetite that seems never to fail. In fact, it often seems to be insatiable. This is not a bad thing; a good appetite is a great blessing, giving evidence of a normal, healthy body. Those who enjoy their meals have a much more satisfying life than those who eat only because they have to. A healthy baby is continually hungry and thirsty because it is growing.

Hunger and thirst are evidence of growth and development. No person can grow and increase in stature without food and water. Now this is true not only in the physical realm, but also in the intellectual realm. It is only those who hunger and thirst for knowledge who continue to grow in wisdom and develop in intellectual power. We owe a great deal in our world today to those people who have had an insatiable appetite for wisdom and knowledge. They have sought knowledge and invented and discovered things that have changed our world. But many people, if not most, lose their mental appetite early in life and then for the rest of their lives coast on what they have learned in their younger years, ceasing to seek to increase their knowledge.

Unfortunately, this is even true of many professional people—ministers, lawyers, teachers, physicians—people who you would expect above all others to be growing intellectually as long as life would last. But many die mentally long before they die physically. This is a great tragedy, but we live in a tragic world. Matthew 5:6 has a special reference to a person’s spiritual life and appetite but the same principles that exist in the physical also apply to the intellect. Hunger and thirst are absolutely essential to spiritual life and growth. The person who has no appetite for spiritual things is spiritually dead. The person with a poor spiritual appetite is spiritually sick. It is only the person who has a ravenous appetite for the bread of life and the waters of salvation and who greatly enjoys his spiritual food and drink who is a normal, healthy Christian.

Unfortunately, most professed Christians today are subnormal; suffering from spiritual malnutrition, they are spiritually weak and anemic. It takes but little spiritual food to satisfy them. They are particular and very picky about what they eat, when they eat, and who feeds them. Many are kept alive only because they are being spoon-fed, for they do not have appetite and energy enough to feed themselves. This is a pathetic situation, especially when there is a great spiritual banquet spread for all. This is not a problem only occurring in our time. The apostle Paul addressed this same situation to the Jews. He said, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12–14.

Those who are spiritually proud do not hunger and thirst for spiritual food, for they are already perfectly satisfied. They feel full and therefore have no appetite for more. This was true concerning the Pharisees in the time of Christ. They felt no need and did not receive any benefit from the bread and water of life that Jesus freely offered to anyone who hungered and thirsted for it. Before Jesus was born, the virgin Mary spoke about this very thing. She said, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53).

When Jesus referred to Himself as the bread of life and that only those who would eat His flesh and drink His blood would have eternal life, many were offended. It says in John 6:66 KJV that “they walked no more with Him.” It is for this reason that the first blessing pronounced in Jesus’ sermon is upon those who are poor in spirit, the ones who feel their need. They mourn over their spiritual condition. They are meek, hungering and thirsting for something they don’t have. Jesus said that their need will be fulfilled.

The condition of the Christian church today was predicted almost 2,000 years ago. The angel said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16). The church does not recognize its spiritual poverty; it does not mourn over its sins. It is not meek or humble, but proud and boasts of its spiritual wealth, even claiming to be rich and increased in goods and having need of nothing (verse 17). It is in a similar spiritual condition to the Pharisees in Jesus’ time.

Jesus Christ, the dispenser of the bread of life, is unable to feed the modern church because she has no appetite. Though she does not realize her condition, she is spiritually sick. Her condition is similar to that of the Jews in the days of Christ. He came to give them spiritual food and drink but found only a few who were hungry and thirsty. The spirit of the Laodicean church, Revelation 3:14–22, is the same spirit as that of Phariseeism. There is an abundance of food, but the church feels well-filled and already satisfied. So Christ knocks at the door of this church-temple in vain. He is not in the church; He is standing on the outside trying to get in. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Can you hear the Lord’s knocking at the door of your heart? He describes His people in the last days as being naked, yet at the same time going about as if on a dress parade. How can that be? The church has no divine covering for her sins, but she has provided for herself a garment made up of religious rituals. The Lord calls these garments “filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6, 7 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You.”

It could only be a person who is mentally unbalanced or who is drunk that could ever go about naked and not know it. But the Laodicean church thinks it is clothed. However, the filthy garments are unacceptable. Jesus says, “Come and buy from Me, white raiment that you may be truly clothed” (see Revelation 3:18). If they could only be awakened and be clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness, the wedding garment that prepares them to go to heaven, then they would be in a different condition. In the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, the guilty pair were ashamed of their nakedness because their garment of light had left them. Because they did not want to appear in front of the Lord naked, they sewed garments of fig leaves to clothe themselves, but the Lord did not accept those garments. Though Adam was wearing his fig leaf garment, he told the Lord that he was naked. The Lord then provided them with garments only made possible by the death of a symbolic lamb.

The Lord wants to do the same for the modern church as He did for our first parents. He wants us to realize our spiritual nakedness and then He wants to provide us with the righteousness of Christ that will cover us so that the shame of our nakedness does not appear (see Revelation 16:15).

Of all human cravings, there are none that are more powerful than hunger and thirst. Any person or animal who is hungry or thirsty will make every effort to obtain food and drink. Sometimes when people are thirsty and are lost in the desert they see what they think is water only to find it is just a mirage. But the water of life that Jesus offers is not a mirage. It is a well of living water as Jesus described in John 4:14. This is our great need in this modern generation—the water of life. We need a soul-hunger for the bread of life and thirst for the water of life, which is Christ and His righteousness because it is only the hungry and the thirsty that are promised to be satisfied.

If the modern church could be given a good spiritual appetite, she would not long remain in her present condition. The promise of Jesus is that if you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, you will be filled and completely satisfied. The Bible records the story of Jesus Who spoke to a woman at a well in Sychar. He said, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.’ … Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water [this physical water] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’ ” (John 4:10, 11, 13, 14).

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’ ” (John 6:35). But after He said this to them, He spoke the following mournful words, “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe” (verse 36). How is it with you? Do you want something you don’t have or are you like the spiritually proud people of all ages, perfectly satisfied just the way you are? There are millions of people that will never have eternal life because they’re satisfied just the way they are. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Complete satisfaction is promised only to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The Lord makes the following invitation: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:1–3).

Complete satisfaction is still available; it is still waiting in our modern, wretched, poverty-stricken, naked church as soon as we awaken and develop an appetite to be revived and as soon as we want something better than what we have. Remember, the blessing is pronounced on the hungry: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). They will be completely satisfied. If you feel perfectly satisfied right now, it is time for you to pray and ask the Lord for a hunger and thirst like never before for something that you don’t have, something that will bring perfect and lasting satisfaction, spiritually, intellectually, and that will eventually result in eternal life. Jesus is standing at the door of the heart. He is knocking at the door of the modern church. He calls to the lukewarm, self-satisfied church, Come and get something from Me.

Revelation 3:18 says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” How is it with your life? Are you a Laodicean Christian and just lukewarm? Are you satisfied with your condition like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day? They refused His teachings; they refused His salvation, being satisfied with their own perverted religious system.

Jesus said, Obtain gold from Me. He’s talking, of course, about spiritual gold, not literal gold. With gold being so valuable, having it enables you to get anything you need in this world. Spiritual gold represents faith. Jesus said that if you have faith and believe in Him and trust in Him, everything is possible (Matthew 17:20). Also, if you have gold, you already have wealth. Gold equals wealth. Spiritual gold is spiritual wealth – the bond of perfection which the apostle Paul said is charity or love (Colossians 3:14). So spiritual gold is faith and love. Jesus says that is what is needed so you will not be so poor. The white raiment, which is the righteousness of Christ, is righteousness that no human being can generate. However, it is the righteousness required for entry into the kingdom of heaven, and, it is a free gift.

The eye salve is the spiritual anointing, the discernment that enables a person to see the wiles and deceptions of Satan and the ability to shun them, to detect sin and to abhor it, to see the truth and obey it. Do you have the eye salve? Can you actually see what’s happening in the spiritual world today? This is the great need of present-day Christianity. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” Christ is our righteousness. He says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37 KJV).

There is no other source of supply, friend. Jesus is the bread and the water of life. He is the only One Who can satisfy the deepest spiritual need of your soul, and He will, if you’ll open the door and let Him in.

(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 of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Health – Conquering Stress

Riots and trouble, depression and guilt, hatred and violence, anxiety and anger. We live in a world turbulent with stress. How significant is this to our health, happiness, and success? It is a recognized cause of high blood pressure and of dysfunction in the immune system. Difficulties in any part of the body can be caused or aggravated by stress.

What is Stress?

Stress in the sum total of pressure converging on a person.

How Does Stress Work?

Stress works through the nervous system. There is an intricate electrical and chemical network providing communication within the different parts of the brain, between the brain and the rest of the nervous system, and between these and all parts of the body. For this reason, a great deal of good or harm can be produced by stress signals going around and around in circuits inside of the brain, the capital of the body. Because nerves go to each of the organs and all major blood vessels, stress can derange the circulation of any part of the body, producing a spectrum of problems from headaches to spasms.

As nerves communicate with the tiny endocrine glands, they can increase or decrease the production of hormones that circulate in the blood to reach and affect specific targets or all parts of the body. This “mass communication system” can affect all tissues of the body, with their 120 trillion cells!

Control Systems

There are three major ways to control stress. One of the finest ways of controlling stress is to reduce the input of stressful stimuli, pressures, and forces impinging on you. Many people could markedly reduce the effects of internal violence in the nervous system by not seeing, hearing, feeling, or vicariously experiencing the violence via the mass media, particularly by television, DVDs, movies, radio, magazines, and stress-producing books.

Another way to reduce stress is to focus the imagination and mind on today’s opportunities and duties, instead of worrying about tomorrow’s synthetic potential problems. Stress input can be markedly reduced by solving the problems of the past. From people we have injured we can seek forgiveness for violating principles of human behavior. After we have asked forgiveness we can go to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to forgive us. When this is done, the stress of the past can be buried in the deepest ocean of history. This will make it very much easier for us to have poise and concentration on the day-to-day living, for the Great Physician has counselled us, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).

Another way to reduce stressful input is by developing sensible mental and emotional hygiene. Instead of dwelling on the negatives of life and experience in our families, in our communities, or in our world, thinking and focusing on the positive developments in our lives will greatly reduce our internal stress.

A very potent method for stress control is to increase the coping power that we have available. This can be done in many ways. The finest, most economical, most available, and most powerful way to increase coping power is complete cooperation with Divine Power. United States president George Washington, president Abraham Lincoln, and many other great people of history have found prayer to be indispensable in increasing their power to cope with the pressures, problems, burdens, worries, and anxieties of life.

Reading biographies of great people who have dealt with similar problems and succeeded in life in spite of them is very helpful. Some of the finest of these practical experiences and case records of successful stress control are found in the Bible itself. There are such famous cases as Daniel, surrounded in a foreign culture in Babylon, David, chased from one cave to another by an insane king, and Paul, in and out of prisons for sharing the truth with a secular society. Mention could be made of many others. As we identify our situations with those of other people, and as we see how they made it in spite of everything, this will give us more faith, more courage, more toughness of spirit and mind, more resiliency of soul to stand up and go forward in spite of appearances. We too can learn to live by faith instead of by sight.

Many stress control methods that have some utility neglect the highest region of the brain, namely, the frontal lobe. The major portion of the brain, this is where such great forces as faith, hope, and love are centered. By building up this highest region of the brain, we become men and women of grit, gumption, and tenacity. These approaches transcend shallow quick fixes, and tend to produce more character than depression.

Support Groups

Support groups are very useful and valuable in coping with stress, particularly if the support group socially reinforces the truth. Placebos or shallow pseudo-solutions that do not deal with the root causes of our problems will fail in the end.

Often neglected in stress control is another major portion of the brain, the regions on the right side, dealing with the big picture, with music, and with art. Although singing does not seem to be very potent, in reality it is. When Martin Luther sang with lusty courage, “A mighty fortress is our God” (Martin Luther, 1529), he marched—with his whole brain engaged—with the Leader of the universe and the needs of humanity. Every step he took toward Worms echoed for centuries thereafter. This is stress control at its finest.

One time there was a dear friend of the Great Physician named Martha. She came under considerable stress because of her natural tendency to collect and try to assume more and more duties. A noble person of considerable talent, she neglected the finer dimensions of life and found herself in intolerable stress. Her sister Mary chose rather to spend more time listening to Jesus. This better way relieved her of unnecessary stress and sweetened her life with heavenly music—it will for you too.

Delegation of responsibility, appropriate time management, and other divide-and-conquer methods have their place in stress control.

From one point of view, the main difference between carbon—black, dingy, dirty carbon—and the pristine elegance of a diamond, is stress. The convergence of heat and pressure on carbon can produce the glories of diamonds. This is the finest outcome of stress. When we understand and grasp that the crucible of stress can produce the very finest of personality and character development, instead of fighting the process, we will cooperate with the great Designer, relax in trustful submission, and go forward in spite of feelings.

In this way, common people of common talents can become excellent masters of stress control. To participate in this process will require some real study, faith, and maturity. If we feel like orphans, slaves, or ciphers in the universe, the circumstances of life may appear unfair, unjust, and fatalistic, whereas if we discover by careful study of the Bible that we are sons and daughters of the King of the universe and that He loves us steadily, tenderly, eternally, then our outlook on the universe and on the world—on all of life—will be entirely transformed. The spiritual dimension of stress control is indeed ultimate.

In this, the age of computers, we know that the excellence of modern software is essential for the efficiency of good computer operation. The human brain is the greatest computer in the world, and its excellence, too, depends on its software. The software in our living computers will be the best if, in our life experience and in our study of the Bible, when we come across a promise that rings a golden bell in our lives, we will write it down, keep it, and refresh it in our minds and experience. We can become stronger, more flexible, more resilient, tougher if you please, to the buffeting stresses of life’s turbulence. For instance, the Great Physician promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). A very good, and useful promise.

And again, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace” (John 16:33). These great promises are great pillars of stress control, and when we take hold of them, and understand them, believe them, and trust the Author of all good, beauty, and strength, our lives can reflect more and more that quality and serenity of peace that passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

“Peace I leave with you.”

Bernell E. Baldwin, The Journal of Health and Healing, vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 4, 5.

Question & Answer – Explain “first love” and “first works” in Revelation 2:4, 5.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works …” (Revelation 2:4, 5). [Emphasis added.]

“Thine is a decay, a declension in holy zeal—not forsaken is the object of it, but lost is the fervor. The first affection of the convert to Christ is deep, full, and ardent. It is not necessary that this love should become less as knowledge increases, as the more and increased light shines upon him. That love should become more fervent as he becomes better acquainted with his Lord.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 956.

“The first experience of the Ephesus church led to good works. God took delight in the fact that His church reflected the light of heaven by revealing the spirit of Christ in tenderness and compassion. The love that dwelt in the heart of Christ; the love that caused Him to give Himself a sacrifice for humanity, and to suffer with forbearance the reproach of men, even to the extent of being called a devil; the love that prompted Him to perform mighty works of healing during His ministry—this was the love that was to be revealed in the lives of His disciples.

“But they neglected to cherish Christ’s compassion and tenderness. Self, as manifested in hereditary traits of character, spoiled the principles of the grand, good works that identified the members of the Ephesus church as Christians. … The love that constrained the Saviour to die for us, was not revealed in its fullness in their lives; and hence they were unable to bring honor to the name of the Redeemer. …” Ibid., 956.

“The losing of the first love is specified as a moral fall. The loss of this love is represented as something that will affect the entire religious life. Of those who have lost this love, God says that unless they repent, He will come to them, and remove their candlestick out of its place.” Ibid., 957.

“It is our work to know our special failings and sins, which cause darkness and spiritual feebleness, and quenched our first love.” Ibid., 957.

“The loss of the first love has opened the door to a great amount of selfishness, evil surmising, evil speaking, envy, jealousy, hard-heartedness. This is the fruit borne when the fervor of the first love has grown cold. There has been but little restraint upon the tongue, for prayer has been neglected. A Pharisaical righteousness has been cherished; there is deadness of spirituality, and a lack of spiritual eye-sight is the result.” Special Testimony to our Ministers, 2a, 27.

“With the loss of love for God there has come the loss of love for the brethren. The church may meet all the description that is given of the Ephesian church, and yet fail in vital godliness.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 387.

Children’s Story – The Little Girl and the Prisoner

A gentleman and his five-year-old daughter were walking hand in hand up and down the room at a railway station in England while waiting for a train. As they were waiting, two policemen came in, bringing with them a prisoner in chains. He was a very wicked man. He had just been sentenced to prison for twenty years. The policemen were taking him to the prison. They gave him a seat in a corner of the room. He was a mean-looking man, and everyone stayed away from him.

As the gentleman and his little girl walked up and down the room, the little girl could not keep her eyes off the prisoner. At first she was afraid of him, but when they reached the part of the room where he sat, she let go of her father’s hand and went to the prisoner. In a gentle voice, and with her eyes full of tears, she said to him, “I feel sorry for you.”

The prisoner frowned at her fiercely, and she ran back to her father’s side. They continued their walk, and when they came near him again, she let go of her father’s hand again, and spoke to the prisoner in the same tender tones, “The Lord Jesus is sorry for you, too.”

Then the train came, and the girl and her father climbed aboard. The policemen and the prisoner boarded a different car, and the little girl never saw the prisoner again.

When the policemen reached the end of their journey, they delivered the prisoner to the keeper of the prison. “We are sorry to have to tell you this,” said one of the policemen, “but this prisoner is ill-tempered and disobedient. He is very hard to manage and we are afraid he will give you great trouble.”

The keeper of the prison was worried. He had so many troublesome cases already, and he did not like having another one. He took extra precautions, making sure the prisoner could not escape and that he was never with any other prisoners.

But to the keeper’s surprise, he had no trouble with this man. The prisoner did whatever he was told to do, and was always respectful and pleasant in his manner. The keeper did not know what to make of it. So, after a while he spoke to the prisoner and asked him how it was that he was so different from what he had been reported to be.

“Sir,” answered the prisoner, “the report was true. I used to be as bad as possible but now I am a changed man.”

He went on to tell about what that dear child had said to him while waiting in the railway station. “Her sweet words melted my hard heart,” he said. “They reminded me of my godly mother … Her words led me to see what a sinner I was, and I turned in repentance to God. He heard my prayers. He gave me His pardon and peace in Christ. Now I am a new man and serve Jesus Christ.”

The keeper was amazed. After some months, when he was convinced the prisoner had told him the truth, he allowed him to speak to the other prisoners. He proved to be a great blessing in that prison. The prisoner never forgot the little girl whose words were used to prick his conscience and bring him to Jesus.

How God sent a Dog to Save a Family and Other Devotional Stories, by Joel Beeke and Diana Kleyn, published by Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapid, MI, 95–97.