Friday, August 30, 2019


AUGUST 31, 2019
Our lesson this week, covers the ministry of people in the New Testament with whom we are very familiar, Peter, James, John, the Apostle Paul, all whose stories have blessed us. The lesson draws our attention to two passages in Acts 2 and 4 which describe uncommon and unusual behaviour.

The two passages were Acts 2:40-47 and Acts 4:32-37. The passage in Acts 2 reads, "42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

The second, Acts 4: 32-37 says, "32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet."

My first thought was "Isn't that amazing!!!" But this was followed very quickly with a thought. "Oh no. This is a hard saying" Imagine working hard to secure your future retirement and then giving it all away or saving for a fabulous trip or home, only to realize, "the Lord has need of them". 32 "…Neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common."  This begs the question, what was it that brought about this response in their thinking and experience? What is it that made them tick?

Context is important. At first glance these accounts seem to support communism or socialism. Certainly, in our current political climate, we hear these terms tossed about. "In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal") is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state." Socialism: "Originating within the socialist movement, social democracy has embraced a mixed economy with a market that includes substantial state intervention in the form of income redistribution, regulation, and a welfare state." But are either of these what we see going on in Acts 2 and 4. Was there some sort of mandate in the book of Acts, that they sell all and equalize society? I think not.

Our lesson looked at these two passages in isolation and the fallen side of us wants to say, yes, we need and must do this and more of that. However, Acts 2 and 4 have a context and the context is found in Acts 1: 13,14 where it says "13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." Acts 2:1 Continues: "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  The chosen passages in Acts 2 and 4 follow the account of the upper room, Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Something happened in their thinking, their minds and hearts that caused them to, of one accord, give of themselves and their possessions.

As Ellen White put it, "The Spirit came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that reached every heart. The Infinite One revealed Himself in power to His church. It was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint, and now Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the riches of the Spirit's grace. And under the influence of the Spirit, words of penitence and confession mingled with songs of praise for sins forgiven. Words of thanksgiving and of prophecy were heard. All heaven bent low to behold and to adore the wisdom of matchless, incomprehensible love. Lost in wonder, the apostles exclaimed, "Herein is love." They grasped the imparted gift. And what followed? The sword of the Spirit, newly edged with power and bathed in the lightnings of heaven, cut its way through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day."  {AA 38.1}

So, when Peter got up to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified in Acts 2:14-41, he preached out of an experience with Jesus Christ that evoked a response in all who heard it. Space does not allow a rehearsing of that sermon here. But certainly verses 36-39 bare reproducing. 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." Peter was bold because he had been with Jesus and had finally come to know and understand what His mission and ministry were about. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:3 3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."  It is important to note the elements in Peter's sermon in Acts 2:38,39, the preaching of the cross, a call to repentance (which was heeded), and a message for all people ("all who are afar off" is a reference to the Gentiles). So, Pentecost came and 3000 plus "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

How about Paul? Two days are devoted to him in this week's lesson. The lesson points us to Romans 12. In the first two verses of Romans 12, we find these words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which I is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." How are our minds renewed? Paul says in verse 1 that it is by dwelling on the mercies of God. This is what brings about the resetting or renewing of our minds that causes us not only to share but to look forward to sharing all we have with others, esteeming others more worthy. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:9, "9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." This defines the difference between what is happening in Acts 2 and 4, and communism and socialism. Titus also helps us: "4 when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." He was motivated by a self-emptying love. This is what motivates us and shows our grateful response of service in contradistinction to communism and socialism.

So, what about us as the Seventh-day Adventist church, those who "love His appearing", who are "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God", who are longing for the outpouring of the latter rain? I will let the servant of the Lord, Ellen White speak, "More than eighteen centuries have passed since the apostles rested from their labors, but the history of their toils and sacrifices for Christ's sake is still among the most precious treasures of the church. This history, written under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was recorded in order that by it the followers of Christ in every age might be impelled to greater zeal and earnestness in the cause of the Saviour."  {AA 593.1}

     "The commission that Christ gave to the disciples, they fulfilled. As these messengers of the cross went forth to proclaim the gospel, there was such a revelation of the glory of God as had never before been witnessed by mortal man. By the co-operation of the divine Spirit, the apostles did a work that shook the world. To every nation was the gospel carried in a single generation."  {AA 593.2}

     "Glorious were the results that attended the ministry of the chosen apostles of Christ. At the beginning of their ministry some of them were unlearned men, but their consecration to the cause of their Master was unreserved, and under His instruction they gained a preparation for the great work committed to them. Grace and truth reigned in their hearts, inspiring their motives and controlling their actions. Their lives were hid with Christ in God, and self was lost sight of, submerged in the depths of infinite love."  {AA 593.3}

"What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, "He that is feeble. . . shall be as David; and the house of David . . . as the angel of the Lord." Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his brother a revelation of divine love and benevolence. One interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's character and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom."  {AA 48.1}

     "With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33. Under their labors were added to the church chosen men, who, receiving the word of truth, consecrated their lives to the work of giving to others the hope that filled their hearts with peace and joy. They could not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through them, and as they went from place to place, the poor had the gospel preached to them, and miracles of divine grace were wrought." {AA 48.2}

Neither communism nor socialism are operative in Acts 2: 42-47 and 4: 32-37. The love of Christ constrained them. Love was the motivating force. In closing, these two quotes from Ellen White, sum up these verses and likely what God is hoping for in our church so that He can return to claim His likeminded children, "All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world's need. Self-love, self-interest, must perish. And the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation. The husbandman preserves his grain by casting it away. So in human life. To give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man. Those who for Christ's sake sacrifice their life in this world will keep it unto life eternal."  {DA 623.5}

"Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service--service to God and to their fellow men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men."  {COL 326.3}

I look forward to the day when we as a people fulfilling the will of our Father in heaven, "continue daily with one accord in the temple, breaking bread from house to house, eating food with gladness and simplicity of heart." Acts 2:46


~Andi Hunsaker

Thursday, August 22, 2019




Our topic for this week coincides with our topic for this quarter, "The least of these." Since Jesus in Matthew 25 uses our treatment of "the least of these" as the basis for separating His flock, the sheep, from the those in the world, the goats, our focus this week will be on "the least of these", who they are, and why they are important to us both individually, and as a church.

As individuals, it is often easier for us to consider helping people that we know and are familiar with and/or comfortable with such as family, friends, and church family. I know I can relate to this myself and I suspect others can too. However, Jesus looks at those in need from a much broader perspective with His infinite agape love as we see in the following EGW quote:


"But not to any class is Christ's love restricted. He identifies Himself with every child of humanity. That we might become members of the heavenly family, He became a member of the earthly family. He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam. His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them. They are a part of the great web of humanity; and Heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints. The fallen, the erring, and the sinful, Christ's love embraces; and every deed of kindness done to uplift a fallen soul, every act of mercy, is accepted as done to Him. DA 638.4


The angels of heaven are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. We know not now who they are; it is not yet made manifest who shall overcome, and share the inheritance of the saints in light; but angels of heaven are passing throughout the length and breadth of the earth, seeking to comfort the sorrowing, to protect the imperiled, to win the hearts of men to Christ. Not one is neglected or passed by. God is no respecter of persons, and He has an equal care for all the souls He has created." DA 639.1


As we become more aware that He loves us all equally, we may also start to see that from Christ's perspective all of us are in need as well—it may be physical, spiritual, mental or all of the above as mind, body and spirit go together. This is indeed a humbling thought, especially for His last day church as in Revelation 3, our Laodicean condition is described as being "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." (physical or spiritual). Jesus is looking to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to our true condition that "thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, blind, and naked."  He wants to take us to the point where all we can do is look up to Him as our Saviour and High Priest so that He can use us through the power of the Holy Spirit to help others with their needs—physical, spiritual and mental. Thus, He deserves all the credit, not us.


This creates a beautiful scene which EGW describes as follows:

"As you open your door to Christ's needy and suffering ones, you are welcoming unseen angels. You invite the companionship of heavenly beings. They bring a sacred atmosphere of joy and peace. They come with praises upon their lips, and an answering strain is heard in heaven. Every deed of mercy makes music there. The Father from His throne numbers the unselfish workers among His most precious treasures." DA 639.2


Everything we do is a response to God's infinite agape love for us. As we begin to see more of His love and His incredible sacrifice for each of us and all of us, lives and hearts are changed.  The following EGW quote describes the impact on us individually and as His last day church as well:


"The Saviour has given His precious life in order to establish a church capable of caring for sorrowful, tempted souls. A company of believers may be poor, uneducated, and unknown; yet in Christ they may do a work in the home, the neighborhood, the church, and even in "the regions beyond," whose results shall be as far-reaching as eternity. DA 640.4


It is because this work is neglected that so many young disciples never advance beyond the mere alphabet of Christian experience. The light which was glowing in their own hearts when Jesus spoke to them, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," they might have kept alive by helping those in need. The restless energy that is so often a source of danger to the young might be directed into channels through which it would flow out in streams of blessing. Self would be forgotten in earnest work to do others good. DA 640.5


Those who minister to others will be ministered unto by the Chief Shepherd. They themselves will drink of the living water, and will be satisfied. They will not be longing for exciting amusements, or for some change in their lives. The great topic of interest will be, how to save the souls that are ready to perish. Social intercourse will be profitable. The love of the Redeemer will draw hearts together in unity." DA 641.1


As stated above, 'the love of the Redeemer will draw hearts together in unity.' It is God's unselfish, unending, infinite agape love and His gift to us of everything He had when He gave us His Son to die the eternal death for all mankind --- God is love!  When we come to appreciate and believe what He has already done for us, this is what draws us to Him and changes hearts so we desire nothing more than to abide (remain) in Him to fulfil His promise to abide (remain) in us (John 15).


This is what the "most precious message" given to us through Elders Waggoner and Jones is all about—to bring to the world the uplifted Saviour, to direct all to His Divine Person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. (TM 91/92). Here are a few quotes you may enjoy that deal with this in the context of our lesson study on "the least of these".


1. "In this lesson Jesus fully identifies Himself with suffering humanity. He says: "Iwas hungered," "I was thirsty," "I was a stranger," "I was sick," "I was in prison." "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." So completely is it that "the Word became flesh." Furthermore, it is "the Son of Man" before whom "shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another." And the Father "hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man." Thus, the case of every member of the human family is committed to Him who was in all things "made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." How wonderfully are the love and mercy of God revealed in His dealings with His erring children!" PTUK May 12, 1898, p. 295.1 EJW


2. "Christ has passed through lower depths and darker trials than any that ever have been or can be experienced by His earthly children. He did this that He might "save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him." He descended to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might reach and save those who were sunken therein, as well as those who had fallen less low. PTUK December 14, 1893, p. 578.6


And not only has the Son of God beenthrough all these dark places, but He is in each one of them with you. When you feel, He feels. He identifies Himself with you in all your trials and sufferings. And thus it is that He will say to those who have clothed the naked, and visited the sick, fed the hungry, and in other ways ministered to the necessities of the needy, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me." PTUK December 14, 1893, p. 578.7 EJW

3. "This truth draws us to the point where we shall always be doing everything possible to put forth the attractions of Christ, the graces of Christ and the goodness of Christ to men who know Him not but in whom He has invested all so that they may be drawn to where they, too, will respect the goodness of Christ and the wondrous investment that He has made in them. GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 310.3


If you are doing it for the man's sake or for your own credit, you may be taken in, of course. But if you do it as unto Christ and because of Christ's interest in the man, it is literally impossible for you ever to be taken in, for Christ ever liveth and doth not forget. "Give to Him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 310.4


Here is the principle: It is to Christ that we are doing it. And as stated in the previous lesson, though the man may despise Christ and never believe on Him as long as the world lasts and may sink into perdition at the last, Christ in that great day when I stand on His right hand yonder will not have forgotten it. And in remembrance of it He will then say: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 310.5 ATJ


4. "Christ has allied Himself with every human being, on His own part; and if every human being in the world tonight should drop everything and say, "Yes, that is a fact; He and I are one, and He is the one," every soul would be saved tonight, and Christ would appear in every soul tomorrow. GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 303.8


Now brethren there is another thing that comes in here in our own practical experience. Christ has allied Himself to every human being. Then when He said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it [or not done it] unto one of the least of these my brethren; ye have done it [or not done it] unto me," how widespread is that truth? Suppose one comes to my door as a tramp; suppose he be ill dressed and perhaps has not had a good chance to wash himself as clean as he ought to be. Who is allied to him? Jesus. Who has invested His all in that man? The Lord Jesus. Then as I treat that man, who is affected? The Lord Jesus, to be sure. GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 303.9


Shall I treat that man according to the estimate of Christ's investment or according to my opinions, as the world looks upon the man? That is the question." GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 303.10 ATJ


The common thread that we have seen in the quotes above and in our study is God's infinite and unending love for every human soul or as it says above, "Christ has allied Himself to every human being and He has invested His all in that man." "That man" is us and it is our response to His love that in turn will affect how we respond to "the least of these" in Christ and through Christ.


There is a thought provoking quote in Friday's lesson by EGW (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pg.42):

"Christ tears away the wall of partition, the self-love, the dividing prejudice of nationality, and teaches a love for all the human family. He lifts men from the narrow circle that their selfishness prescribes; He abolishes all territorial lines and artificial distinctions of society. He makes no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies. He teaches to look upon every needy soul as our neighbor and the world as our field."

As we close our study this week, let me leave you with one more EGW quote:

"Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family that the King of glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, "Love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts. DA 641.3

As we abide in Him and He promises to abide in us, may we indeed have "heaven in our hearts" as we go forward for Him!


Blessings, John and Monica


Lesson 8: "The Least of These"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Least of These:
Ministering to Those in Need

Lesson 8: "The Least of These"


The 1888 message was a discovery of a new kind of love which proclaimed and lived and turned the world upside-down. God's unconditional agapefor the world is demonstrated in the life of Jesus.

Considering that much of Jesus' teaching was addressed to crowds of mostly poor, rural peasants, fishermen, and farm workers who were regularly exploited by their political and religious leaders and oppressed and brutalized by their Roman occupiers, it is hardly surprising that He privileged the underprivileged, offering a different way to be in the world and a distinct method to resist those who would abuse and exploit them. What might seem surprising is that He would command them to do this with agape.

Jesus' kingdom of heaven was markedly different from those proclaimed and sought by so many would-be revolutionaries and messiahs of His time and throughout history. For one, it was resolutely nonviolent, championing humility, kindness, and peacemaking. But this was not a recipe for passivity. Resistance would come in the form of integrity, determination, creativity, and sacrifice.

Living righteously by following Jesus in the ways He taught and lived would be countercultural in the truest and best sense. The kingdom of heaven was introduced by Jesus as a contrast to (and was sometimes in conflict with) the way the kingdoms of our world exercise power. By resisting the many forces, temptations, and ideas that default to the status quo, His followers were to live by different priorities and measure worth and goodness in transformative ways.

Coupled with the reality and power of Jesus Himself, his countercultural life also catalyzes our resistance to the injustice and oppression we see around us. People who believe that God will turn the world upside down with agape--people like Mary with her Magnificat, pulling down the mighty from their thrones and exalting the humble and meek (Luke 1:46-55)--are not going to be backward in getting on with some world-changing activities in the present. The kingdom of heaven is a revolutionary and present reality.

The word "beatitude" is a big word which in the Bible is rendered as "blessed," and that simply means "happy." It means that certain people enjoy a happiness that is the natural result of their faith and obedience; it can also mean that God in a supernatural way gives His love and happiness to such people. But we hasten to add that He does not show respect of persons, favoring one person over another (James 2:1).

Don't let Satan discourage you with his suggestion that you are not one of God's favored ones. You may feel that way, but that doesn't mean that his suggestion is true. Even Jesus as He hung on His cross cried out, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" No, because of Christ's sacrifice, you must believe that the Lord lovesyou and has chosen you to be His child. That's what the "believing" in John 3:16 means.

So, who are the "blessed" ones in the Bible? The answer has to be: those who believe God's gracious Good News. Their faith works, and that is why they obey, and the natural result is "blessedness."

There are well over 100 "beatitudes" in the Bible. But when Jesus came, He surprised the Jews of His day with "blessings" that seemed directly the opposite of their ideas: "Blessed are the poor in spirit," "Blessed are they that mourn," "Blessed are the meek," "Blessed are they who are hungry and thirsty," "Blessed are they which are persecuted," "Blessed are you when people revile you and say all manner of evil against you falsely," etc., etc.

Stunning! Those words awoke a class of people who had been educated to feel left out of the kingdom of God! Surely Jesus must have been impressed by that "beatitude" in Psalm 94:12 which says: "Blessed is the person whom you chasten, O Lord, and teach him out of Your law; that You may give him rest from the days of adversity." A happiness to be found in the most unexpected place! And Paul adds, "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son [daughter] whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:6). Do you really want some evidence that He loves and receives you?

The Lord Jesus Christ is generous in His thanks and even generous in His praise to those who have wanted to serve Him, but have felt very unworthy.

To some He says with great enthusiasm, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

But they are surprised; they turn around to see if He is not talking past them to other people behind them; they themselves feel very unworthy of such genuine thanks and praise. He responds, No, it's you I mean.

They remonstrate with Him, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?" There must be some mistake here; we are not worthy!

Then they hear the sweetest words anyone can ever hear from the lips of the world's Savior, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Matt. 25:35-40).

The generosity of the Lord Jesus shines brightly through all eternity. He speaks to us a positive word through a double negative: "God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love(yes, the word is agape, not phileo) which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Heb. 6:10, New King James Version).

He remembers every effort you have made to reflect His agapeto others, weak and tremulous as it may be. That double negative is His assurance to you that He welcomes you as His co-laborer with Himself in His work for the world.

--Paul E. Penno

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:


Thursday, August 15, 2019

1888 Message Study : Jesus And Those In Need



Are you going through a challenging time right now? I am sure we all are.  My family is off in another country for the next three weeks taking care of my ailing mother in-law who has broken her hip, two of my closest mentors are facing terminal diseases, financial constraints have arisen that were unexpected—and yet I have comfort. I have a Savior nigh at hand. Psalms 34:17-19 says "The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of ALL their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken spirit; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them ALL.

Let me relate a personal experience. I fell from a rope-swing ten years ago this month and have sustained long-term residual deficits that have been unimproved by dietary, lifestyle, or ANY OTHER intervention—I have tried MOST of them. It is in the darkest moments of these ten years that I have found a true Friend in Jesus, ALL my sins and griefs to bear. His Word has sustained me….literally. When all feelings of worth and meaning were removed it was only His promises that bore me up. Promises like "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7. Trials are the Lord's designed means of saving us from heartless indifference. I needed Jesus and He draws close to me.

It is in this context that I read Jesus' 'Mission Statement' and our memory text for this week ""The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19. Here is the rub. It is only to the extent that I see or regard myself as poor that I can appreciate that unending riches and resources of selfless King Jesus and direct others to Him. It is only as I have been healed and restored by the tenderly applied balm from doctor Jesus Himself that I have undeniable confidence in His healing touch through me. I know the hold that jailer 'Fear' had on me, but praise God that Jesus unlocks me from that grip too. It is only since visiting Ophthalmologist Jesus that I realized he has restored my vision and helps me to see the needs of others. It is exciting when we see Jesus' mission statement as our mission statement. It is in brokenness that we are called and that we shine.

Over the last two years God has placed a lady in my path who was an Adventist in her past and who has fallen on hard times. She had lost all her children through illnesses and is now alone. We met telephonically after she learned that I was the last friend at the bedside of her only remaining son as he died. I cared for him as a nurse for three years to that point.

Her son had bequeathed to her his collection of rare books—many of them Adventist—with the request that they be used to be displayed in a museum to encourage others. Having limited means she insisted on a hefty amount for them—not even knowing the contents and therefore the value of the collection.

Knowing that I was an Adventist she placed the collection in my keeping eighteen months after his death with the task of finding a buyer who could meet both stipulations—price and purpose. A friend and I who were praying for her eternal welfare were amazed when an unsolicited offer was made which not only met her asking price, but also had the mutual desire of displaying the unique collection with the goal of impacting a new generation. At the conclusion of the experience this lady and I praised God for His providence in supplying her financial need and also that of the new owner. If this is what it means to reach out to those in need—the widow and orphan?

The lesson points us to Isaiah 53:1-6 regarding the Cross and cries of the poor, but an interesting perspective on God's provision for the rich is infused in verse nine of the same chapter. "And He made his grave with the wicked, And with the rich in His death;" This prophecy was fulfilled in the time between Jesus being removed from the Cross and the Resurrection—less than thirty-six precious hours in Joseph's tomb. In Matthew 27:57-58 it states "There came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered."

To this point Jesus' body would be taken from the Cross and clumsily lumped on the burning ash-heap of Gehenna—the place where the fires never go out, but Joseph could not see this happen. Joseph, the ultra-rich Sanhedrin, had a need—the body of Jesus. What he was formerly coy to acknowledge he now boldly appealed to the top authority, Pilate, to "beg" for it. What a sight—a rich man begging a ruler for his Master's body. Touchingly he took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. Jesus would be placed in Joseph's newly hewn tomb; He would actually take Joseph's place in death. Additionally, God would be honoring His Son by having Him be covered with clean linen cloth—blotting the naked and violent preceding hours. God answers the cry of the rich.

I see myself as wrecked and poor and blind and naked. It is Jesus that is my health, my wealth, my sight and my righteousness. As He has met all my needs as my Life-source I am able to direct others to Him as theirs—receiving to give.

Thus, in the night of spiritual darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn. All around us are heard the wails of a world's sorrow. On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to aid in relieving and softening life's hardships and misery. Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed. Christ Object Lessons. p. 417

~Richard Kearns

Thursday, August 08, 2019


The definition of correlation, according to one dictionary, is "the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together." In other words, where there is correlation, there is a mutual relationship or parallelism. Despite this, one attribute, measurement, or element does not cause the other, instead, they vary together. A simple example would be, developmentally as our hands grow, our feet grow as well.  Our hands do not make our feet grow; neither do our feet make our hands grow.  The cause of simultaneous growth is the same for each.


Let's look at another example. In most large cities, crime increases in the summer as does the number of ice-cream sales. One could erroneously deduce that ice-cream causes crime to increase, or vice versa. However, we know that is not true. In simplistic terms what happens instead, is that hot weather, along with other activities and inclinations encourages people to go outside. Among those that go out, many will buy ice cream, as it's considered refreshing in the summer heat.  And among those that go out, are would-be perpetrators, assailants, and their victims.  This makes it easier to find a target and or become one.  


Upon a cursory reading of the Bible, we see God rebuking the Israelites for idolatry, immorality and unethical behavior. We could easily assume that either idolatry caused these ungodly behaviors or vice versa.  But that would be incorrect. These practices are correlated not causal. Therefore, you can predict that when you see the one behavior, you will also see the other. The common factor which originates both, is the turning of our hearts from God.  We see this in Micah 6:6-8.


"Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed 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?"


The Lord had told the people what pleased him—what was in line with his character of love, which was to walk humbly in communion with him. This and this alone would bring about the living justly and loving mercy he desired. However, the people had yet to comprehend this even by the time of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. In his mercy, the Lord gave them a similar diagnosis and prescription as can be viewed in both in Isaiah 1: 11 – 17; 58: 4-7 and in Jeremiah 7: 3-- 10.  As we can see in these texts, where there was idol worship, there was oppression and abuse of their fellow countrymen. Clearly, where the one was visible, the other was present. These attributes are correlated, because the same factor caused both. Per Ellen White,


"In Isaiah's day the spiritual understanding of mankind was dark through misapprehension of God. Long had Satan sought to lead men to look upon their Creator as the author of sin and suffering and death. Those, whom he had thus deceived, imagined that God was hard and exacting. They regarded Him as watching to denounce and condemn, unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there was a legal excuse for not helping him. The law of love by which heaven is ruled had been misrepresented by the archdeceiver as a restriction upon men's happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they should be glad to escape. He declared that its precepts could not be obeyed and that the penalties of transgression were bestowed arbitrarily.


In losing sight of the true character of Jehovah, the Israelites were without excuse. Often had God revealed Himself to them as one "full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:15. "When Israel was a child," He testified, "then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt."" Hosea 11:1. (PK 311 – 312)


Now, if the same factor caused both, then the cure was the same: turning of hearts and minds toward God--repenting. God not only wanted his people to believe that He was indeed a loving God who had their best interests at heart, but that he also desired their fellowship. Through the prophet Isaiah he told them,


"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).


God's intention with them was for good, not evil.  He wanted to take all selfishness, uncleanliness of mind, and impurity of heart motive from them.  He said through Ezekiel,


"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:25-27).


Just as it was with the Israelites, so it is with us. When oppression and abuse are present among us, there is also idolatry. When there is immorality and unethical behavior among us, there is also idolatry. Many believe that as long as you are "nice," it does not matter how you "worship." Others think that if you "worship" God in the right way, it does not matter how you "behave" (worship in this context is seen as a task). Yet, God is saying that both issues are a problem. And, where one is evidenced, the other will also be visible. Both issues co-exist and arise from the same cause. Therefore, both have the same cure. What was prescribed for the Israelites has been prescribed for us. The question is, will we respond positively by receiving the cure of a clean heart and a new mind from Him?