Words of Wisdom – Lesson 8

Psalms“Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” Proverbs 20:6

The answer? God can.

King Saul had forfeited his position as King of Israel. The esteemed prophet Samuel was sent on a mission to anoint Saul’s successor. He was directed to the house of Jesse and once there. he began the process that would lead to the anointing of the next ruler of Israel.Even the wisest among us can misjudge the character and potential of an individual. Although we are all equally loved with a love that spared nothing to redeem us, we each have our own paths to walk in life. And one thing the Bible teaches us and our own experience reminds us is that you cannot judge a person’s future by their present situation.

Looking upon the impressive form of Jesse’s oldest son Eliab, Samuel was certain he was gazing at the next king who would rule Israel. But then Samuel heard the famous words that give us some insight into the mind of God.

“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

If we can pause long enough to consider these divine words of wisdom we can gain much. It reminds us that what’s inside of an individual is more important than the outward appearance. It cautions us against two extremes. The first is the natural tendency to equate the favorable appearance of a person with equal virtue or at the least a specialness that warrants better treatment or reception.

King Saul, who I suspect was a strikingly impressive person to look at, failed in the area that counted most – his character. The nation in their desire to be like other nations, took pride in their representative. But all of this was folly and a valuable lesson to us today.

The second extreme we have to guard against is the natural tendency to look at the disadvantaged and uneducated or unrefined as less worthy of our interest. Jesus’ example as he walked this earth was to touch the untouchable and to love the seemingly unlovable. He saw the best in others and knew the potential they each possessed. Just ask the demoniac freed from a legion of devils. Or ask the woman trapped in adultery. Or talk to the man who after 38 years of helplessness became a vibrant witness to all of the goodness of God.

The prophet Samuel, after examining all of the other sons of Jesse who were present, knew that the Lord had chosen none of them. After calling the youngest son David to appear before him, Samuel hears the words that would mark the beginning of a new era for Israel.

“Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 1 Samuel 16:12

I cannot begin to know what must have been the feelings in that room that day. Nothing this big had ever happened to the household of Jesse, let alone the young boy David. He has been informed that he, a shepherd boy, would be the next king of the nation.

This week as we discuss Words of Wisdom, we find the example of David a helpful guide for the points we are discussing. When we talk about the Test of Life we see in David that during our young years we are determining our future destiny. Our fidelity, integrity and virtue are known to God. Each day we are fitting ourselves for further usefulness or sadly we are disqualifying ourselves. Everyday counts.

But if there is one area that we all struggle with from time to time it is waiting for the Lord. David had been anointed to be the next king of Israel, yet, the very next day he was back in the fields shepherding the sheep. There was no external sign that his life had changed. The menial tasks he performed the day before his anointing were the same menial tasks he performed after his anointing. David had to wait on the Lord.

Waiting for the Lord is an exercise of faith. To believe that what He said will come true even though what we see seems to indicate the opposite is the great test of faith. To be patient as providence opens doors that no man can shut and closes doors that no man can open will take a life of prayer and devotion.

David, through no maneuvers of his own, found himself a servant of Saul working in the actual palace that he would one day rule. Yet David still waited on the Lord. Even as he was hunted by the deranged King Saul, David had to hold onto the promise of God. He had to banish thoughts of revenge and subdue the inclination to take matters into his own hands. David had to wait on the Lord.

So today we are each faced with our unique callings by God. He has a plan for every life and to the contrite heart He makes His will known. He takes us on a faith walk that will deepen our trust of Him. He reminds us though His word that He has never failed nor can His plans be thwarted. But we must learn to wait on the Lord.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does “trusting God” mean to you?
  • What, if any, is the difference between believing in God and trusting God?
  • How can one know if they are taking matters into their hands and out of God’s hands?
  • Is it permissible to retaliate (verbally, physically, etc) against those who do us wrong? Why yes or no?
  • Does having the faith of a mustard seed mean it’s ok to have little faith? (if your answer is yes please explain why Christ would say, “O ye of little faith” to those who did not exhibit strong faith)
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The reason God allows all of us to go through difficult times is to increase our trust in Him. Explain your answer.

We close this week with a promise about the surety we can place in God. He’s given us all the evidence that heaven could offer.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:31-31

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

For online lessons please visit http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/15a/less08.html

Dealing With Fights – Lesson 7

FrustratedThis week’s lesson on Dealing With Fights describes why Sam no longer wants to attend organized church. It’s not that Sam is not interested in God, Jesus and heaven. Quite the contrary. However, in this age of hyper sensitivity and the “take-no-prisoners” approach to life Sam sees in church, he reads this week’s memory text and it speaks to his tenuous relationship with the church.

Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strifeProverbs 17:1

Yes, to Sam it may be better to be alone in peace than in a full church with strife. To understand the struggles Sam is facing we’ll use the headings of each day’s lesson. Each one speaks to issues that Sam and many like him are facing and that has the potential to discourage membership in the church body.

What You Get Is Not What You See – Lesson 6

Photo by Curtis Hall

Photo by Curtis Hall

Our lesson this week on What You Get Is Not What You See covers a lot of territory. Proverbs 14 and 15 contain so much valuable instruction that we could probably spend one week on each verse instead of this one week on all 68 verses.

Sound wisdom and instruction seem to be in short supply. Not just for practical everyday living but also our spiritual walk. One verse, in particular, in this week’s lesson sends a loud warning against false assumptions in life that lead to a disastrous ending. It’s one that we often quote yet often take for granted.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12

So simple yet so profound. Conviction in error is still error. Pursuing a direction in life with passion and commitment is not enough. Following your heart or your gut feelings is no guarantee that you are moving towards eternal life.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise. Proverbs 12:15

What is the solution, especially concerning our spiritual walk?

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
 O Lord, correct me, but with justice;
Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Jeremiah 10:23-24

Peace

Peace I leave with you

 

The Blessings of the Righteous – Lesson 5

Law (218x300)

The contrast could not have been greater. On one side stood revered religious leaders whose very presence enlisted admiration. In their regal robes denoting their exalted position, they represented the height of spiritual achievement. Known as sticklers for adherence to the minutest rules of the law, they now appeared in stark contrast to the One that stood before them.
He was dressed in ordinary clothing. There were no trappings of success to be seen. The commonly believed evidences of divine favor were absent from His life. He didn’t even have a home to call his own. Standing on the Mount of Blessings before the masses who had come to hear His words of instruction and hope, He made this declaration,

“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20

Was He serious? How could anyone hope to exceed the righteousness displayed by the scribes and Pharisees?  This week as we look into The Blessings of the Righteous, we’ll start with the repeating of the obvious – righteous living is a requirement of God.

Paths

A Matter of Life and Death – Lesson 3

What do you do?For the commandments are like a lamp, instruction is like a light, and rebukes of discipline are like the road leading to life Proverbs 6:23 NET

We have an unhealthy relationship with the word discipline. It connotes the worst in our emotions. Pain and some form of suffering are usually associated with this word. And sadly, many people today are damaged physically, mentally and spiritually by our often flawed ideas of what constitutes proper discipline. Simply put, we have merged the word discipline with punishment.

This week as we look at A Matter of Life and Death we will concentrate on discipline from the eyes of God. As the Bible states “his ways are not are ways’‘ and this is certainly true in the area of discipline.

My Simple Prayer (repost)

Simple Prayer

From Ears to Feet – Lesson 2

Cliff PathwayDon’t look down! Whenever a guide says those three words you can rest assured you are not walking on an ordinary path. It is to your advantage and safety that you keep your eyes focused on what’s before you and not what’s beneath you. Your target destination is your aim and your safe arrival is found in keeping the goal in view.

This week as we take up the subject From Ears to Feet, we hear the author of these chapters in Proverbs telling us to not look down. We are journeying to the City of God and dangers are all along the way.

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Proverbs 4:25

While there are numerous lessons to be gleaned from our study we’ll only have the luxury to consider a few.

Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.Proverbs 4:26

First, we are on a journey. We are not to be stagnant and resigned to stay where we are. Our religious experience should be growing and deepening as we walk this pathway to the City of God.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalms 92:12

It is not enough to say we no longer do the bad that we used to do. Our goal is Christlikeness, and that will take continuous effort on our part.

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Every week, in Sabbath school classes across the world, someone will be talking. It’s estimated that the normal pace for English speaking averages between 120 to 160 words per minute. That translates to 5400 – 7200 words for the typical 45 minute Sabbath school class.

How many of those words are being spoken by you the teacher? If your answer is that you are speaking the majority of those 5400 – 7200 words, you are more than likely missing the mark as an effective Sabbath school teacher.

Sabbath school teachers have to consciously fight the tendency to lecture and preach to the members of their classes. One of the 2 biggest complaints about Sabbath school teachers is that they do all or most of the talking and don’t involve the class members.

Although the information shared may be true and useful, we have to be wise in our manner of presentation. The evidence shows, without question, that members learn more and enjoy the process of learning even more when there is opportunity for meaningful interaction and dialogue.

Guiding a class that is consistently known for a great discussion takes a lot of preparation and forethought. Preparing your materials and talking points and devising stimulating questions is a process that demands time from the teacher. To simply lecture a class or read the lesson out loud not only short changes the members of the class but also stunts your growth as a teacher.

To give members “something to talk about” means that you have guided your class in a manner where they are actively participating and the learning is mutual and shared. Here are a few dos and don’ts to aid you in having great discussions:

Do prepare thought-provoking questions for each part of your theme
Do anticipate the probable answers you’ll receive and have follow-up questions ready
Do make your questions appropriate for visitors as well as long time members

Don’t answer your own questions. Let the class answer the questions.
Don’t limit the answer to the 1st response. Build on it and re-launch it
Don’t ignore raised hands in an effort to get to your points of interest

Following these simple guidelines can enhance any class for any teacher. When they come to your session this week, make sure that you give them “something to talk about.”