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April 2006 Table of Contents

 
    May 28, 2006 - June 3, 2006
 
 

Gratitude Appreciated, Part 1

 

Key Text

     “He hath showed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  Micah 6:8.

 

Study Help:  The Desire of Ages, 606–608.

 

Introduction

“Call to mind your former wretchedness, your spiritual blindness, and the darkness which enshrouded you before Christ, a tender, loving Saviour, came to your aid and reached you where you were.  If you let these seasons pass without giving tangible proofs of your gratitude for this wonderful and amazing love which a compassionate Saviour exercised toward you, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, there is reason to fear that still greater darkness and misery will come upon you.  Now is your sowing time.  You will reap that which you sow.  Avail yourselves while you may of every privilege of doing good.”  Testimonies, vol. 2, 330.

 

1    What does God require of us all?  Micah 6:8.

note:  “The words and law of God, written in the soul, and exhibited in a consecrated, holy life, have a powerful influence to convict the world.  Covetousness, which is idolatry, and envy, and love of the world, will be rooted from the hearts of those who are obedient to Christ, and it will be their pleasure to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God.  Oh, how much is comprised in this, walking humbly before God!  The law of God, if written in the heart, will bring the mind and will into subjection to the obedience of Christ.”  Testimonies, vol. 3, 201.

“[Isaiah 61:8; Deuteronomy 25:14–16; Micah 6:8 quoted.]  One of the very highest applications of these principles is found in the recognition of man’s right to himself, to the control of his own mind, to the stewardship of his talents, the right to receive and to impart the fruit of his own labor.  Strength and power will be in our institutions only as in all their connection with their fellow men they recognize these principles,—only as in their dealing they give heed to the instruction of the word of God.”  Ibid., vol. 7, 179, 180.

 

2    What is of more value than burnt offerings and sacrifices?  Mark 12:33.

note:  “It is a sacred duty that we owe to God to keep the spirit pure, as a temple for the Holy Ghost.  If the heart and mind are devoted to the service of God, obeying all His commandments, loving Him with all the heart, might, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, we shall be found loyal and true to the requirements of heaven.”  Testimonies, vol. 4, 33.

“Well may the question be asked with earnest, anxious heart, ‘Is envy cherished, is jealousy permitted to find a place in my heart?’  If so, Christ is not there.  ‘Do I love the law of God, is the love of Jesus Christ in my heart?’  If we love one another as Christ has loved us then we are getting ready for the blessed heaven of peace and rest.  There is no struggling there to be first, to have the supremacy; all will love their neighbor as themselves.  Oh, that God would open the understanding and speak to the hearts of our churches by arousing the individual members. . . .”  Selected Messages, Book 2, 382.

 

3    What called forth these words (Mark 12:33)?  Mark 12:28–31.

note:  “Wherever there is union with Christ there is love.  Whatever other fruits we may bear, if love be missing, they profit nothing.  Love to God and our neighbor is the very essence of our religion.  No one can love Christ and not love His children.  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.  We drink in the love of Christ, as the branch draws nourishment from the vine.  If we are grafted in Christ, if fiber by fiber we have been united with the Living Vine, we shall give evidence of the fact by bearing rich clusters of living fruit.  If we are connected with the Light, we shall be channels of light, and in our words and works we shall reflect light to the world.  Those who are truly Christians are bound with the chain of love which links earth to heaven, which binds finite man to the infinite God.  The light that shines in the face of Jesus Christ shines in the hearts of His followers, to the glory of God.”  Selected Messages, Book 1, 337, 338.

 

4    Because the scribe of Mark 12:28 discerned these principles, what did the Saviour say to him?  Mark 12:34.

note:  “The scribe was near to the kingdom of God, in that he recognized deeds of righteousness as more acceptable to God than burnt offerings and sacrifices.  But he needed to recognize the divine character of Christ, and through faith in Him receive power to do the works of righteousness.  The ritual service was of no value, unless connected with Christ by living faith.  Even the moral law fails of its purpose, unless it is understood in its relation to the Saviour.  Christ had repeatedly shown that His Father’s law contained something deeper than mere authoritative commands.  In the law is embodied the same principle that is revealed in the gospel.  The law points out man’s duty and shows him his guilt.  To Christ he must look for pardon and for power to do what the law enjoins.”  The Desire of Ages, 608.

 

5    What sacrifice must be the foundation of all other sacrifices?  Psalm 51:17.

note:  “The only reason that we have not remission of sin is that we have not acknowledged to Him [Jesus] whom we have wounded by our transgressions, whom we have pierced by our sins, that we are at fault, and in need of mercy.  The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul will find its way to the heart of infinite pity; for the Lord is nigh unto him that is of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”  Selected Messages, Book 1, 326.

 

6    In whose heart has God promised to dwell?  Isaiah 57:15.

note:  “The life in which the fear of the Lord is cherished will not be a life of sadness and gloom.  It is the absence of Christ that makes the countenance sad, and the life a pilgrimage of sighs.  Those who are filled with self-esteem and self-love do not feel the need of a living, personal union with Christ.  The heart that has not fallen on the Rock is proud of its wholeness.  Men want a dignified religion.  They desire to walk in a path wide enough to take in their own attributes.  Their self-love, their love of popularity and love of praise, exclude the Saviour from their hearts, and without Him there is gloom and sadness.  But Christ dwelling in the soul is a wellspring of joy.  For all who receive Him, the very keynote of the word of God is rejoicing.”  Christ’s Object Lessons, 162.

 

7    How will God’s Word affect a contrite and humble heart?  Isaiah 66:2.

note:   “To know ourselves is to be humble.  Self-knowledge will take away all disposition to entertain the Most High with a recital of our own excellent qualities.  Realizing our sins and imperfections, we shall come to the feet of Jesus with earnest supplication, and our petitions will not be passed by unheard.  Ezra had the true spirit of prayer.  Presenting his petition before God for Israel, when they had sinned grievously in the face of great light and privileges, he exclaimed, ‘I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.’  [Ezra 9:6.]  Ezra remembered the goodness of God in again giving his people a foothold in their native land, and he was overwhelmed with indignation and grief at the thought of their ingratitude in return for the divine favor.  His language is that of true humiliation of soul, the contrition that prevails with God in prayer.  Only the prayer of the humble enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”  The Signs of the Times, February 19, 1885.

 

8    How does the prophet speak of those who cannot discern the sacredness of divine things?  Isaiah 66:3, 4.

note:  “God has not changed toward His faithful servants who are keeping their garments spotless.  But many are crying, ‘Peace and safety,’ while sudden destruction is coming upon them.  Unless there is thorough repentance, unless men humble their hearts by confession and receive the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never enter heaven.  When purification shall take place in our ranks, we shall no longer rest at ease, boasting of being rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.”  Testimonies, vol. 8, 250.

 

9    Can these things (Isaiah 66:3, 4) be in the heart and not be seen in the life?  Matthew 7:16–20.

note:  “The good tree will produce good fruit.  If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil.  So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character.  Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul.  And though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ. 

“Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. . . .  It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words.  By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character.”  The Desire of Ages, 314.

 

10  What did David say when he saw the judgment of God upon the people on account of his sin of numbering Israel and proposing to increase the military?  What response did God make to his repentance?  11 Samuel 24:17, 18.

note:  “David, in his prosperity, did not preserve that humility of character and trust in God which characterized the earlier part of his life.  He looked upon the accession to the kingdom with pride, and contrasted their then prosperous condition with their few numbers and little strength when he ascended the throne, taking glory to himself. He gratified his ambitious feelings in yielding to the temptation of the devil to number Israel, that he might compare their former weakness with their then prosperous state under his rule.  This was displeasing to God, and contrary to his express command.  It would lead Israel to rely upon their strength of numbers, instead of the living God. 

     “The work of numbering Israel is not fully completed before David feels convicted that he has committed a great sin against God.  He sees his error, and humbles himself before God, confessing his great sin in foolishly numbering the people. But his repentance came too late.  The word had already gone forth from the Lord to his faithful prophet, to carry a message to David, and offer him his choice of punishments for his transgression.  David still shows that he has confidence in God.  He chooses to fall into the hands of a merciful God, rather than to be left to the cruel mercies of wicked men.

“Swift destruction followed.  Seventy thousand were destroyed by pestilence.  David and the elders of Israel were in the deepest humiliation, mourning before the Lord.  As the angel of the Lord was on his way to destroy Jerusalem, God bade him stay his work of death.  A pitiful God loves his people still, notwithstanding their rebellion.  The angel, clad in warlike garments, with a drawn sword in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem, is revealed to David, and to those who are with him.  David is terribly afraid, yet he cries out in his distress, and his compassion for Israel.  He begs of God to save the sheep.  In anguish he confesses, ‘I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done?  Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.’  [11 Samuel 24:17.]  God speaks to David, by his prophet, and bids him make atonement for his sin.  David’s heart was in the work, and his repentance was accepted.”  The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 385, 386.

   
   

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