Sabbath School Lesson for September 21-27, 2019
We finally see ourselves as a community of believers, with these noted aspects in mind…
- Sunday–As Christ’s ambassadors, we can be agents of change for those we serve.
- Monday–Being the remnant of God, we intercede for others who may not deserve it.
- Tuesday–By using both evangelism AND acts of mercy, we are to reach souls for Christ.
- Wednesday–Nurturing those in the church family is just as important as serving those in the community.
- Thursday–We must encourage each other to do good works together, especially as times get hard in the last days.
By working with Christian brothers and sisters in a collaborative way, much can be accomplished for God’s kingdom. Church organization, with humble leaders in place, who are first servants, will strengthen the family of God and enable the church’s mission to shine its brightest.
Preaching about God’s justice will be more effective when God’s people are actively demonstrating God’s character by their acts of kindness and mercy. And this is done most effectively when the church works together to benefit the commuity at large.
Once again, Jesus modelled perfectly the kind of servant leadership we must embrace, in order to reach the world with the gospel. Not only did His ministry consist mostly of providing comfort and help to suffering, needy people, but His final lesson for the disciples was to grab a towel and wash their feet. How perfectly selfless was that humble demonstration of love.
Memory Text: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Hebrews 10:23, 24 NKJV
Wavering is certainly a risk in the end times, when the whole world is on shaky ground when it comes to faith in God’s plan of salvation. Holding on to each other in a community of faith, however, can be a factor in keeping us doing God’s will and surviving these troubling times.
Our love must be stirred into action. Our sense of justice must be evident by our good works, the result of that love. We can do much to encourage each other by working together to carry out God’s will to save the earth. Good works must continue to the end.
Sunday: Agents of Change
The Bible uses many metaphors to describe who His people are. Jesus compared us to light and salt in the Sermon on the Mount, two items that can literally change our lives. The light brightens our environment, expelling the darkness without. Salt changes whatever it is mixed with, serving to preserve, but also to improve the taste of the food we eat.
Other metaphors of the “representatives” we are as Christians include being a sacrifice (Romans 12:1), ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), and even perfume (2 Corinthians 2:15). After all, wasn’t Christ all these things for us. He became the sacrificial Lamb on the altar, an Ambassador of God’s heavenly kingdom throughout His life on earth, and our Intercessor now, providing sweet-smelling perfume to cover our sinful condition.
These various comparisons become more useful when we recognize ourselves as the body of Christ. Paul described our positions in this body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-20. Each body part is needed for the body to function at the level God intended. Our spiritual gifts help determine which part of the body we become. We are to work together in representing the God we serve.
Read Matthew 5:13-14. How do these agents of change (light and salt) affect their environment? Why is nurturing those in church as important as reaching out to the community, perhaps explaining why Jesus used both metaphors to represent our mission?
Read Romans 12:1. What does sacrifice have to do with our service?
Read 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15 and 1 Corinthians 1:18. What specific knowledge about Christ makes it a sweet fragrance to those we share it with? How are both those who are saved and those who are perishing affected by this knowledge of Christ?
Monday: A Servant Remnant
Moses is best remembered as the one who delivered the Ten Commandments to us from Mt. Sinai. This very important document, which needed such a miraculous revealing after so many years of slavery, was needed to remind us that God is a God of justice.
The event of making the golden calf, on the other hand, with Moses interceding on the behalf of God’s remnant, shows us what the mercy of God looks like. Though undeserving as they were, Moses was willing to sacrifice his own salvation to save God’s people from extinction. He showed faith in the sacrifice of the future Messiah and His ability to save to the uttermost all those who accept Him as their Lord. See Exodus 32:7-14.
Thus Moses exemplified fully the description of God’s remnant as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Do we fully represent God’s remnant by showing by our words and actions that we have both mercy and a sense of justice in our hearts?
Read Exodus 32:13, 14. Why was it important for God to honor His promise to Abraham and His descendants? How was Moses actually trying to preserve God’s honor, as well as the lives of His remnant people?
Read Exodus 32:32. What motivated Moses to make such a statement about God’s remnant people? How does it exemplify how we should feel about those around us, even those who might seem undeserving at the time, such as Aaron was?
Read Revelation 14:12, 12:7, and 19:10. How are the testimony of Jesus, the faith of Jesus, and the spirit of prophecy related?
Tuesday: Reaching Souls
Many worry that we aren’t focusing on the right goals as we engage in the Lord’s service. Should our focus be on preaching the Word, or social work? Most of the time we become lopsided in our approach and emphasize one more than the other.
But God doesn’t want us to choose between these diverse strategies. Instead our focus should just be to reach souls. Both evangelism and community service are equal in importance and effectiveness. Therefore, the more balanced in these activities we can become, the more our efforts will reach those we intend to benefit from our influence.
Evangelism doesn’t have the same impact without the love and passion expressed through acts of mercy. And practical service must be accompanied with the gospel message, in order for it to win souls fully to the kingdom.
Both mercy and justice are evident in both charity and witnessing opportunities. Therefore, the best results will be in utilizing both when appropriate, dependent on the needs of the community we serve.
Read Matthew 10:5-8. What kind of work were the disciples instructed to do, even to “the lost sheep of the house or Israel”? How can works of charity be used to draw missing members back to our congregations?
Read 1 Peter 2:12 and Philippians 2:14-15. How is God glorified by our good works? What kinds of activities make us “lights in the world”?
Read 1 John 3:16-18 and James 2:16. Why is living out the gospel as important as preaching it?
Wednesday: Grace Within the Church
Just as important as community outreach is our service to those within God’s church family. No matter how generous we are when it comes to helping our neighbors, we can’t afford to ruin our reputation by bickering, fault-finding, and ignoring the poor in our own congregation. There must be grace within our ranks, as well as without.
We saw in the story of Job what a shining example we can be by living an exemplary life of purity in lifestyle and selfless service. In the case of Job, God was glorified, both on earth and as observed by the angels in heaven. Our influence is equally widespread, when we invite the Holy Spirit in our hearts and perform similar acts of goodness and mercy.
As John has expressed it, “…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV). When we are passionate about all people, both in the church and without, we can know that God’s justice and mercy are included in our witness, and our evangelism will be its finest.
Read Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Peter 1:12. Why are angels in heaven interested in our ministry, including how we treat one another in the church?
Read Ephesians 2:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:33. How does the household of God show itself to be peaceful, and not disorderly, to the world and the universe? What kind of steps must we take to ensure our peaceful nature as a church family?
Read John 13:34, 35 and 1 John 2:5. What does it mean to be “in Christ”, and how is that a part of being a disciple? Why did Jesus call this a “new” commandment? Shouldn’t they have been loving each other all along?
Thursday: Encourage Each Other to Good Works
The reason Jesus instructed His disciples to engage in ministry together was for the obvious reason of their need to support each other. During His time on earth, people were rarely directed to go out on their own; and even then, they were to reunite later and share their experiences.
People can achieve more when their efforts are united. Different personalities and talents complement each other, and results are magnified when combined in thoughtful, creative ways.
A third reason for united evangelism that applies to our day and age is the troubling times we live in. There is a profound lack of faith, which accounts for diminished results from our ministries. It’s easy to be pessimistic when little progress is the norm, rather than the exception.
Therefore, these last days require even more need for belonging to a faith community. We need support and encouragement from each other more, as faith declines. But also, the need for accomplishing more is best not be left to individuals, but to united service that increases results.
And there is the last point to consider. Working in ministry alone creates a tendency to take pride in our service that would not happen if efforts were combined with others.
Read Hebrews 10:23-25. What reasons are given here for assembling together?
Read Romans 12:3-6. Why is it easier to “think more highly” of ourselves when we engage in ministry alone, rather than as part of a group effort? Why is it beneficial to combine talents to achieve goals?
Read Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58. Why is it easy to grow weary while serving the Lord? How can we be reminded that our labor is not in vain?
There are many reasons people give for not being a part of a church family these days. Families, in general, are often not as nurturing as they once were. Many seem to prefer a larger church environment, so they can avoid the personal commitment to each other that smaller churches offer and encourage.
But no matter the size of the church, our commitment to God requires us to work together with our brothers and sisters, in order for God’s mission to go forward in the way He has prescribed.
He taught us, through words and practice, to be caring for and preaching to as many as we can reach. And, not only that, but to do it in a collaborative way, avoiding the potential of pride that is a hazard for individual ministries.
Through joint efforts, we can not only accomplish more, but can encourage each other along the way. And in these last days, we need all the encouragement we can get.
As we’ve seen, ministering to people in need encompasses many forms of service. We aren’t all experts in everything, but we most certainly are drawn to some area of interest and talent that God can use to grow His kingdom. A real church family is God’s chosen avenue for using our spiritual gifts.
Every church should be a community of servants. Serving God by serving others is not an option, but a proven means of true worship.
Next Week’s Lesson: New quarter–Ezra and Nehemiah!
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/