Sabbath School

Christ in the Crucible

The Lesson Study Guide presents this statement for Wednesday December 26:

Clearly, something much more was happening here than just the death, however unfairly, of an innocent man. According to Scripture, God's wrath against sin, our sin, was poured out upon Jesus. Jesus on the cross suffered not sinful humanity's unjust wrath but a righteous God's righteous indignation against sin, the sins of the whole world. As such, Jesus suffered something deeper, darker, and more painful than any human being could ever know or experience.

Living Sacrifices

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Christians often spend much of their time wishing and trying to manipulate God. We do not always do this in the most obvious of ways, but sometimes the less visible is the more insidious. Perhaps we believe that if we could sacrifice something dear to us, God might grant us God’s favor. Instead of treating the blessings that God has given us as blessings, we think that God wishes us to give up something in order to prove just how far we are willing to go in God’s service.

“But the Fruit of the Spirit Is . . . Patience”

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The Sabbath School Quarterly lesson for this week comments on the December 8 Saturday introductory commentary:

Scientists did an experiment with four-year-old children and marshmallows. Each child was told by a scientist that they could have a marshmallow; however, if the child waited until the scientist returned from an errand, they would be given two. Some of the children stuffed the marshmallow into their mouths the moment the scientist left; others waited. The differences were noted.

Meekness in the Crucible

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This past August, I left home. Actually, I left college, but it sure felt like leaving home. I went to Europe with the resolution not to return until I had found some new direction, had settled a theological quandary or two, and had found the courage to begin a new chapter in my life.

On the Legitimacy of Ascribing Certain Evils to God

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She sat there in her freshman Bible class and wept. The Bible teacher had just insisted that whatever occurs is God’s will. Glory comes to God through whatever happens, even evil. She wept because her mother had brain cancer. A world where God willed such things for his glory, for the purpose of exalting his own name, perplexed and eluded her. My daughter, a classmate, came home bewildered. This kind of a God troubled her as well. As she understood God, he does not act this way.

A Life of Praise

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“…[B]ut…we know that we’re not supposed to question God.” I’m surprised whenever someone turns from expressing anguish to attempting self-restraint by means of this platitude. As a rookie chaplain, I was surprised the first time I heard it, and I still am by how frequently it comes up.

Seeing the Invisible

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While I am writing this essay, I am still under the spell of last night’s magnificent performance of the Elijah in the Marktkirche, of Hanover, Germany. Listening to the choir brought memories of past days, when as a member of the Andrews University chorus, I, too, was singing Felix Mendelssohn’s famous oratorio in the Pioneer Memorial Church. “Blessed are the men who fear Him,” “Baal, we cry to thee,” and “Thanks be to God!” These were unforgettable moments in my life, and even more so in the history of God’s ancient people.

Lights Off, House Empty

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A thoughtful Adventist academic who might prefer to remain anonymous, once gave me this sobering definition of “hope”: “Hope is what you do when you don’t have enough evidence to be optimistic.”

Struggling With All Energy

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Fighting with God over a name? The actual outcome of the struggle between Jacob and God was a name change, from Jacob to Israel. Is this the expected outcome when we commit to struggle with God? A name, your name, particularly in Hebrew, ancient near eastern ways was a key thing (that is, it defined your history, your character). Jacob meant liar, cheater, usurper, the one who deceived his brother and father.

The God Who Risks Being Misunderstood

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My early life on a farm taught me that there is only one way to control a large bull. Even an animal that is quite feisty will follow submissively if you lead him around by clipping a rod to the ring in his nose. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. The trick, of course, is to remain safe while you’re getting close enough to clip onto the ring, let alone getting a ring into his nose in the first place!

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