Thursday, May 27, 2010



Temperance has come to be associated with some sort of restraint or abstinence in the use of alcohol.

This association, taken alone greatly diminishes the original intent of the word. Temperance is defined by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary as “habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions.” Particularly interesting with regard to this study is Webster’s second definition of the word, temperance. Webster suggests “patience” as a definition for temperance.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter places the rung of temperance before patience in the ladder that leads towards charity (agape), which is the ultimate definition of the character of God (see 2 Peter 1). The importance of Peter’s sequence is reaffirmed when we read that “an intemperate man cannot be a patient man” (Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 50).

Saints – the people who are preparing to meet Jesus – are patient people (see Revelation 14:12). They are, therefore, temperate people. It seems, then, that we do well to understand and surrender fully to the principles of temperance if we would be ready to meet Jesus in peace.

This week’s memory verse (Philippians 4:5) speaks of moderation. This word has lost much of its original meaning in our minds because of society’s natural propensity for hedonism. The moderation of which Paul speaks is defined in Strong’s Concordance as, among other things, patient. Moderation is akin to that temperance without which there is no patience, and, by extension, no godliness; no agape.

The Biblical concept of temperance is exceedingly broad. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” This results in “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 10:31 and 10:5).

Even the bravest heart could faint before a standard as high as this one. Everything we eat, drink, do, and even think is, under the umbrella of temperance, submitted to “the obedience of Christ.” Well might we cry, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Praise the Lord, our ground for hope, our motivation to persist in the upward way, our expectation that the goal can be met – all are found at the beginning of Peter’s ladder: “Add to your faith…”

Faith – Your faith – The faith of Jesus. This faith already belongs to you. You don’t have to hunt for it.

You don’t have to try to produce it. The saints are commended for “keeping” the faith of Jesus

(Revelation 14:23). Ephesians 2:8 says that faith is “the gift of God.” Faith we have. And having that, we are empowered to add the rest of the things on the list if we will.

If our faith is weak, we are told what to feed it in order that it may grow stronger. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). In that Word, we find the “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

All that God requires, He supplies. Before He maps out the heights to which He expects us to climb, He shows us wherein lies our strength and the guidance for our journey. He supplies us with faith. That “faith is the expecting the word of God itself to do what that word says, and depending upon that word itself to do what the word says” (A. T. Jones, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 3, 1899).

Nothing short of this “faith of Jesus” could have empowered Noah to take on a task as preposterous as building a giant boat on dry land. Nothing less than the “faith of Jesus” can empower us to control our appetites, our passions, our thoughts, our feelings. But if we keep the faith He gives us, and feed it with the Word of God, we will discover that His “yoke is easy,” and His “burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Failing to walk by faith leads to disaster on all levels of human experience. Near the bottom of

Wednesday’s page, the Sabbath School Study Guide asks the following question: “Might you even now be suffering some negative effects from wrong practices?” I don’t know anyone who could honestly say that they have suffered no ill effects from wrongdoing. If, however, the ill effects of intemperance reach no farther than my own health and sense of well-being, then it would be easy to rationalize that a little vacation from strict temperance should not matter all that much since I, alone, suffer the consequences.

But this reasoning is false. There is an urgency about the temperance which precedes, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. That urgency has to do with God’s reputation. The urgency is about the shortness of time, and the small windows of opportunity during which souls around us are gaining, or failing to gain the information they need about the God we serve. Failing to walk by faith means failing to let God’s light shine through us into the life of some soul who needs to know Him now.

It is the very essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time. God is the great

Master Worker, and by His providence He prepares the way for His work to be accomplished. He provides opportunities, opens up lines of influence and channels of working. If His people are watching the indications of His providence, and stand ready to co-operate with Him, they will see a great work accomplished. Their efforts, rightly directed, will produce a hundredfold greater results than can be accomplished with the same means and facilities in another channel where God is not so manifestly working. Our work is reformative, and it is God's purpose that the excellence of the work in all lines shall be an object lesson to the people… In all our plans for missionary operations these principles should be kept in mind. (Ellen White, Testimonies volume 6, p. 24)

True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 562)

"To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts." Each morning as we arise set our faith anew upon Christ as our Saviour; then show the virtue, the worth of our faith by confessing him

before men, both in our words an our lives; then study the words of God for knowledge to guide us during the day; then practice the temperance—the self-control—that is enjoined everywhere and in all things in the word of God; then add patience in all the affairs of the day; add godliness by exemplifying the life of Christ among men by doing good; add brotherly kindness in all our associations with our neighbor; and all crowned by adding sweet charity, the bond of perfectness; the love of God shed abroad in the heart, loving him with all the heart, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, thus completing the day with a well-rounded Christian character. Can it not be done one day? Can it not be done to-day? That is all the Lord asks of us. Do "these things" to-day "while it is called to-day," and so to-day each day as God gives us opportunity to do. And we shall then never fall, but unto all such an abundant entrance will be ministered into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (A. T. Jones, Signs of the Times June 11, 1885)

--Hélène Thomas


Sabbath School Today: "Temperance"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“Atmosphere of Praise”

We live in a small, New Age town in Northern California. It's different here. As Bible-believing
Christians, we're in the minority. People here are into clean air, simple living, and preserving
nature. Many are vegetarian, if not vegan. The source of authority in their lives varies from spirit
guides to ascended masters to Buddha.

We share a common appreciation of being outdoors in nature with our new-age neighbors. On the
trail we have met strangers who say they like our aura. In conversations, people will sometimes
refer to someone as having "bad energy" – which would be someone to avoid.

When our dog got sick with cancer, our neighbor, desiring to be helpful, told us she had
performed Reiki massage over the tumor in hopes that it would reduce the tumor size. She told us
that since we have "good energy" in our family, that our dog would benefit from our massaging
him, even if we didn't understand Reiki. We could still "transfer the energy." As Christians, we
reject the notion that we have any power inherent in us to "transfer energy" or "heal." We have no
life or power apart from God, for "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
This week's Sabbath School lesson focuses on air: the air we breathe and the invisible atmosphere
that surrounds our persons.

Spiritually, our world is suffocating with the poison of sin that permeates our very
atmosphere. Consider these thoughts:

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us
diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the
fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are
perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other
the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (2
Corinthians 2:14-16).

“Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere, it may be,
charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the
fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and
selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin. By the atmosphere
surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or
unconsciously affected” (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 339).

There are things about ourselves that we can fix if we are sufficiently motivated. If our hair is
messed up, we can get it styled. If our clothing is shabby, we can put on new clothes. When we're
unhappy, we can still smile. We can "fix" our outward appearance. We can even wear deodorant,
but there's nothing we can "do" to fix the "fragrance" spoken of in 2 Corinthians 2, or the
"atmosphere" of the soul, as described in Christ's Object Lessons. This spiritual fragrance to
which Paul refers is something we often dismiss because it's invisible. But it is a quality our
highly-sensitive new age friends can sense, and it's something that, like it or not, we cannot hide.
What does all this have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the 1888 message?
Who we believe Jesus to be and how we understand His work on the hearts of others affects who
we are on the inside and emits an odor, or fragrance, on the outside that can't be seen with the
visible eye, but can certainly be felt. For example, when we meditate on the cross of Christ and
consider the infinite price He paid to save the lost, our view of the lost will be far different than
seeing them as potential persecutors during the time of trouble. Both may be true, but one view is
agape-centered, and the other is self-centered. We may still have a lot of self left in us, even while
claiming to believe the gospel. The 1888 message was sent specifically to take the spotlight off us
and focus it on Jesus, the light of the world! This message is the most powerful, life-changing
message ever given to the world.

The effect of this message on the heart is practical--as it was on the road to Emmaus. It will burn
within the heart of the believer and warm the atmosphere around him. Others feel this warmth and
are drawn to Christ through the human instrument. This is how it is that our lives can be such a
powerful witness for Christ, even when no words are spoken. Those who cherish sin may not
realize how their secret sin poisons the atmosphere around them, but it does, and "every person
with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected."
Our evangelistic efforts will achieve undreamed-of results when the atmosphere surrounding each
light-bearer is consistent with the life-saving message he shares.

"In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an
atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who
choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature
of men and women in Christ Jesus" (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, page 68).

--Patti Guthrie

Sabbath School Today

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rest and Restoration

“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Ex. 33:14).

The foundation of all true rest is the presence of God. In more personal terms, rest is a sense of

the presence of God, because God is, through His Spirit, everywhere present. As the Psalmist

sings: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence” (Ps. 139:7)?

The reason that Jews of old, and most humans today fail to enter into this rest is unbelief

(Hebrews 4:6). The source of this unbelief is the self-confidence and self-righteousness which

the Serpent introduced in the Garden of Eden. Following his plan led to a continual state of


Sin separates us from the source of life and rest. Christ was “made like unto his brethren” in

order to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”

(Hebrews 2:15). In order to be truly restored, we need a constant connection – a reconnection,

with God. Short of this, we will ever feel that death is coming, and we fear running out of time.

Believing in Him who “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through

the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10), we enter in to his rest. Like the weekly Sabbath rest, this rest from sin

has always been there, ready to be experienced. The Jews could have entered it. After Christ

became our Second Adam, and revealed the real consequences of separation from the Father’s

life-giving presence (as seen at the Cross), there is no excuse for us if we do not enter His rest.

The cross is but a dim reflection of the pain that sin has caused God’s heart from the beginning.

Wherever sin causes pain, there is God, bearing that pain on our behalf, giving us opportunity to

enter His rest. “Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).

Emmanuel, God with us, is already the I AM to all who will open their ears to the gospel call. In

Isaiah 43:5 and 6 we read: “Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and

gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring

my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.”

True evangelism is the good news that God has come near to every human being for salvation.

All are called to rest in His salvation as they learn of the Sabbath rest. To appreciate the weekly

rest, the daily rest, and the continual rest that God has in mind, we must unlearn our selfconfidence, and learn of the holiness and power of God by experiencing His presence in practical ways.

When the servants of Christ have a realizing sense of the presence of One who is mighty

to save, they will be filled with gratitude to God for the power of his grace, and they will

make advancement in the divine life. The worker with God will have humble views of

self as he thinks of the opportunities that have been wasted, and he will become more

devoted in his service to the Master. Those who dedicate their all to Christ will learn how

to win souls; for they will have a close connection with the Redeemer of the world

(EGW; RH, April 8, 1890 par. 2)

Having Him, we have everything. That is true enough, and no one will deny it; and yet

we very seldom act as though we believed it. And that shows how rare real Christianity

is; for the very fundamental principle of Christianity is the continual presence of the

Lord, and that He is everything. He who does not believe that God is always present,

always loving, and always all-powerful to carry out His loving designs, does not believe

in God. But whoever believes that must be content, because he knows that with the Lord

he has all things. Rom. viii. 32. It follows, therefore, that anxiety and worry are marks of

heathenism. "Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we

drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles

seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye

first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Matt. vi. 31-33. (November 16, 1899 EJW, PTUK 722.11)

Two powerful examples show us this principle in action. The first is the story of the Hebrew

worthies, who we see in an acute crisis:

Did you ever think that we hear nothing more about the form of the fourth after the three

men were taken from the furnace? He was clearly seen for a few moments, walking to

and fro with them in the flames; then the doors were opened and the men were called

forth, and their companion disappeared. Did He forsake them? Not at all; He was as near

them when they could not see Him as when He appeared. In fact, there is nothing to show

that the three men in the fire saw Him at all. His appearance was more for the benefit of

the king and his idolatrous court, then for the three men themselves. They knew that He

was present without seeing Him. It was the consciousness of His presence that made

them able to stand unmoved in the presence of the threatened punishment. God is

unchangeable. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and for ever; therefore He is as near

when unseen as He is when He is seen. They who believe and trust in His presence when

they cannot see Him will at the last have the privilege of seeing His face, and beholding

Him for evermore. (November 16, 1899 EJW, PTUK 723.2)

The second is the story of Joseph who must rest in a sense of God’s presence for a much longer


Perhaps the most instructive case of all, as illustrating the presence of God with a man, is

that of Joseph. "The patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt; but God was

with him, and delivered him out of all his affliction, and gave him favour and wisdom in

the sight of Pharaoh." Acts vii. 9, 10. Note this, that God was with him when he went

down to Egypt, although he went as a slave. It was not merely in the prosperity that God

was with him, but in his affliction. Indeed, it was God who sent Joseph into Egypt. When

Joseph arrived in Egypt, he was sold again, but the Lord did not forsake him. "The Lord

was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the

Egyptian." Gen. xxxix. 1, 2. But it was not all smooth before him, even though God was

with him. Joseph was falsely accused, and without being given any chance to clear

himself, he was cast into prison. Surely the Lord had forgotten him then. Not at all. "The

Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the

keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the

prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.

And the keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the

Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper." Gen. xxxix. 21-

23. The Lord is not afraid or ashamed to go to prison, so that the fact that a man is in

prison does not prove that the Lord has left him. Indeed, the Lord is often in prison. See

Matt. xxv. 36, 43.

After a long time, and much weary waiting, Joseph was taken from prison, and placed

over the land of Egypt. He became practically the king of Egypt. He was ruler over all the

land, and all that he lacked was a seat on the throne. Joseph did not know what he went to

prison for until Pharaoh sent for him; and then he found out that that was the way to the

place of power. But Joseph did not spend his time mourning, although he could not see

the way out of prison. We can look back to that time, and seeing the end at the same time

that we see the experience that he passed through, it seems to us a matter of course that

Joseph should do as he did. But we must remember that to Joseph things looked as black

and hopeless during those years in prison as they would to us. If we could see our way

clear, we should never murmur, nor doubt the presence and goodness of God. Joseph

could not see ahead, but he did not mind that; God was with him all the way, and that was

sufficient; he did not need to see ahead. If we would but remember that He knows the

way that we take, and can see the end from the beginning, it would save us much time

and useless despondency. God is with us in the dark as well as in the light, in fire, and

water, and prison, as well as in times of ease and prosperity. (November 16, 1899 EJW,

PTUK 724)

The final restoration of all things will require us to be a people who are continually resting in

Christ, trusting Him for all things, and living in his presence as He lives in us.

Sabbath School Today

Friday, May 07, 2010

Faith and Healing

As of this psoting there was no Sabbath School insight posted.  Here is This week's Sabbath School today.

Paul E. Penno Faith and Healing Sabbath School Today : May 4, 2010 1

Our Saviour has kindly warned us: “‘False christs and false prophets will arise and show
great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect’” (Matt. 24:24).

It is not beyond the power of the fallen Lucifer to work miracles. “No wonder! For Satan
himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Are we so sure that we
can unerringly distinguish from the genuine work of the Holy Spirit and the work of such
an “angel of light”? Answers to prayer can seem such bona fide evidence of God’s
special favor and activity on our behalf. Satan has the power to appear as an “angel of
light,” a “false christ” who “performs great signs.” Indeed, he seems to have a
connection with heaven, “so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the
earth in the sight of men.” But his real character lies concealed in these miracles. John
adds that he “deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was
granted to do in the sight of the beast” (Rev. 13:13, 14). Miracles are thus no test of
genuine Christian experience.

Satan is much more refined in his arts of spiritualism now than in past generations. [1]
He has cloaked the worship of self by disguising it as the worship of Christ. Faith
motivated by self-interest is rapidly uniting the religions of the world. However, religion
motivated by self-concern in the Day of Atonement has its source in Lucifer who chose
his ego over the self-denying character of God.

Will not God’s missionaries perform genuine miracles in the last days? Most certainly.
[2] When God’s people have learned what true faith is, their lives will demonstrate the
same self-denial as Christ gave on His Cross. The Holy Spirit will be able to manifest
miracles on a scale exceeding that of Pentecost. The Pharisaic spirit of rich and
increased with goods having need of nothing, will be gone. Thousands will be converted
in a day. The Lord will be able to entrust these newborns to the fellowship of a revived
and reformed church.

The Spirit of Prophecy points out that Pentecost came after the disciples realized the
significance of the Cross, and their own hearts were deeply humbled and broken by a
true understanding of the atonement, not as a doctrinal theory, but as an experience of
heart-broken love for the Lamb of God whom they themselves had so largely
misunderstood. It was a far deeper work that they experienced in their hearts than we
have heard.

Though it may seem shocking to say, we firmly believe that a second Pentecost will
come to this people when we realize what the early disciples did,—what we ourselves,
Seventh-day Adventists, as a people, have been just as stupid, just as blind, just as
unfeeling and unsympathetic toward the true Christ as those eleven men had been. The
Repentance will precede the “loud cry,” and in it is locked up a true understanding of
ourselves, which is revealed in the truth of Minneapolis and its aftermath.

But the impression given repeatedly to the church is that we will get this gift of the Holy
Ghost by believing that we have it, by making the experiment of “claiming that gift as
mine along with the forgiveness of sins.” Does not such a doctrine come perilously close
to our becoming holy by believing with a determined “experiment” or act of faith that we
are holy? Does not such a doctrine give the impression that the reception of the latter
rain depends, after all, in the final analysis, on our own act of appropriation, rather than
upon the true faith aroused by a contrite reconciliation to God?

We sincerely desire this long-promised outpouring of the Spirit, and we believe that it is
going to be poured out upon us, not so much when God gets ready to do it (for He is
ready now), as when we as a people get ready. We must make a closer investigation of
these matters, in what we are all agreed is the most serious, crisis hour to which the
Advent movement has ever come.

—Paul E. Penno

[1] “As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has
greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern
order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency
of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable
wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest
respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation
of divine power.

“The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly
distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with
them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause
by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p.

[2] “In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory
movement among God’s people. ... The sick were healed, and other miracles were
wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great
Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening
before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit,
and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open
to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly
influence” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 126).

Paul E. Penno Faith and Healing Sabbath School Today : May 4, 2010 3