Sabbath School Lesson for January 20-26, 2018

Many times we feel that we are called to sacrifice by giving up the world and its frills and follies. But as our title this week reminds us, it is more of an escape than a sacrifice when we turn from the world and turn our lives over to God.

The world wears a mask, and when our eyes are focused on God and His will for our life, this mask is torn off. We see clearly that our temporary pleasures are nothing compared to the spiritual blessings God has waiting for us. Christ becomes our reason for living. We have freedom through Him to pull ourselves away from the things of the world that are designed to do us eventual harm.

We will see this week, not only what some of those spiritual blessings are, but we’ll discover that these blessings are the very instruments God uses to help us escape our rebellious planet and all Satan has done to keep us tied here.

Remember this: “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death…He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Proverbs 11:4, 28 NKJV

The Hebrew word for riches in verse 4 can also be translated substance. In other words, no matter what we have in the way of worldly goods, they will not survive when the final punishment of the wicked occurs, the day of God’s wrath against sin. Our righteousness, characters that have been polished by accepting Christ’s righteousness, will be the only thing of this world that remains when the final destruction of the earth is over.

At that time we will see the fall of those who trusted in their wealth. Those who have been declared righteous are the ones who will flourish and continue to grow into fruitful followers of God, a process that begins the moment they chose to become His.

Sunday: A Relationship With Christ

Almost all, at least those living in prosperous countries, can relate to the tendency for us to own too much “stuff”. There’s now a movement that strives to correct this by what has been called minimizing, or reducing the amount of “stuff”, and living with less material distractions around us. A few decades ago, this tendency to live with less was called getting “back to the basics”.

This pattern of loving and hating our stuff indicates that God has created within us a spiritual void. Of course, He wants to be the one to fill that void. But when we drift from Him, we find ourselves filling it with more and more material possessions, sometimes to the point that our possessions begin to possess us.

It’s not worldly possessions that cause us to wander from God, however, but our love for them. Of course, just having them does tend to foster that love. But even the poor may find themselves obsessed with wishlists, feeding their fantasies of having more wealth. Theirs too is a love of riches, riches that are beyond their reach.

The only cure for this kind of worldliness is having an ongoing relationship with Christ. Hebrews 11:26 describes the decision Moses made when he fled the palace in Egypt. He esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt…” NKJV

We too must make Christ our first priority, our main focus, and our only choice, even when it means temporary suffering. Nothing else is worth God’s promise of a future reward in heaven. We MUST get to know Jesus better, so our love for “things” doesn’t consume us. Remember, they don’t call us “consumers” for nothing.

Discussion Questions:

Read Hebrews 11:13-16, 24-27 and Luke 9:62. How were Moses, Abraham, and others in this “faith chapter” able to follow God without looking back, as Jesus warns us not to do?

Read Psalm 119:11, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:8, and Psalm 34:1. How do these verses show us what we need to do in order to have the faith needed to follow Jesus?

Read Colossians 3:1-3. How are we able to set our minds on things above? Why is it necessary to “look to the reward” as Moses did (Hebrews 11:26)? But also to look to the past, and the sin we’ve been rescued from?

Monday: In the Word

The Bible can be thought of as our road map, when it comes to reaching our heavenly destination. It not only reveals the best routes to get there, but it actually sets our compass (our conscience) in ways that make our navigation through this world of spiritual confusion possible.

The love we find portrayed in scripture, especially in the life and death of Jesus, illustrates to us the kind of sacrificial giving it takes to conquer all the unlovely and negative things in our life. We must shift our focus to giving, instead of getting, in order to escape the world’s madness and mayhem. Only by clinging to God, and letting go of the world, are we able to build that relationship with Jesus that is so vital to our salvation.

Perhaps the reason the Bible is so important is that the words there encompass Jesus Himself. John tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). When we engage in Bible study, we are partaking of Christ. The story of salvation in its pages are necessary for us to have a relationship with Him. It embodies the major way God communicates to us.

Discussion Questions:

Read Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17. What makes the Word of God sharper than a real sword?

Read John 5:39, 14:6, and 20:31. Who do we learn most about when we read the Bible, and why is our reading so important to our salvation?

Read Romans 8:5, 6. How does Bible study help us keep our minds on spiritual things? And how can this lead us to love the things of the world less?

Tuesday: The Life of Prayer

In order for a relationship to survive, there must be two-way communication, and that is why prayer is considered so essential in knowing God. He may speak to us through His word, the Bible, but unless we express our thoughts and desires to Him through prayer, the relationship will never grow to what it can be.

Praying for the Holy Spirit to understand the scriptures is only part of it, albeit a very important part. Our prayers are helpful in so many ways. Prayer helps us…

  1. endure suffering,
  2. guides us in our life choices, and
  3. transforms our selfish natures, in addition to
  4. fostering other noble character traits.

Our prayers must evolve into more than asking for a blessing at each meal and perhaps at bedtime though. We should ideally be in a prayerful mindset throughout the day. God is always available for this kind of intimate fellowship. We should not be timid in using the instrument of prayer for making us faithful stewards. God is anxious and willing for these heart conversations to take place, anytime, anywhere. This is what it means to have a life of prayer.

Discussion Questions:

Read John 17:3. Is reading the Bible to know about Jesus enough? How deep should our relationship be, and why must it include both God the Father and His Son? What does eternal life have to do with knowing Jesus?

Read Hebrews 11:6. When we pray, doesn’t it automatically mean we have faith? Is it possible to come to Him (in prayer even) without having faith?

Read Mark 11:24 and Matthew 7:11. Does God give us everything we ask, or only “good things”?  If we have given ourselves to God, then who should benefit most from our answered prayers–us or God? What does it mean when we prayer, “Thy will to be done”?

Wednesday: The Life of Wisdom

One has only to look at King Solomon’s life to realize the value of true wisdom. True wisdom is knowledge combined with discernment and understanding. Solomon prayed for this kind of wisdom early in his reign, so that he might more effectively rule the kingdom.

But when Solomon lost touch with God, the wisdom with which God had blessed him not only disappeared, but he became a wealth-grabbing, proud, greedy, and unhappy ruler. We’re not sure if he forsook God after he started to love his riches, or if he started to love his riches after he forsook God. It could be they occurred almost simultaneously. In any case, it gives us a reason to beware of becoming too attached to our material possessions, even those that have come as part of God’s blessing. Keep in mind, it wasn’t Solomon’s riches that made him fall, but his love of them.

Wisdom can help us stay close to God and avoid what happened to Solomon. When we attempt to apply our knowledge of finance with a discernment in how to spend our incomes, we must never forget our most important financial adviser…namely, God.

The biblical principle of tithing one-tenth of our incomes to God becomes a valuable tool in reminding us that our financial adviser is also our business partner. Our “investments” won’t fail, our provisions will never run out, when we allow God to be our C.E.O. and run the life of our “company”. That’s the beauty of tithing, pure and simple. It’s all about partnering with God.

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 Kings 3:14 and 1 John 5:3. Why are keeping God’s commandments necessary if we are to receive God’s blessings? What were some of the commandments that Solomon broke, as his spiritual life spiraled downward?

Read Proverbs 8:11. What makes wisdom such a valuable thing to have, even when you aren’t a king?

Read 1 Corinthians 3:18-20. How is the wisdom of the world different from the wisdom we receive from God?

Thursday: The Holy Spirit

All of the blessings mentioned so far:

  • Bible study,
  • prayer, and
  • wisdom in all our human dealings

…are only possible when we allow the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts. When received, the Holy Spirit guides us into areas of service that will most glorify God and build His Kingdom.

Jesus prayed for the Holy Spirit to come and be with His disciples after He was gone. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–“ John 14:16 NKJV

The Holy Spirit seems to embody the Spirit of Jesus, as verse 28 reveals: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” NKJV But we are told that He operates in opposition to the world. “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him or knows Him…” John 14:17 NKJV

If we don’t seek the Holy Spirit’s strength and guidance, we are left at the mercy of the world, with Satan pulling us ever closer to him. But by remembering to give praise to God through the Holy Spirit, we invite His presence into our lives.

Just as fellowship with other Christian believers helps us grow closer to each other, praising God is the avenue for helping us grow closer to Him. And the Holy Spirit is needed to accomplish it all!

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 John 2:15-17. What is wrong with loving the world?

Read Ezekiel 36:26, 27, John 14:26, and Ephesians 3:16, 17. What does the Holy Spirit do for us, and how does this make us more faithful in our stewardship?

Read Matthew 22:29. How does the Holy Spirit help us know the scriptures and God’s power?


The Holy Spirit guides us into paths that help us avoid the dangerous pitfalls of worldliness, which lead to covetousness. Some of the ways we are guided are through…

  • having a relationship with Jesus (becoming Christ-centered instead of stuff-centered)–Sun.
  • studying the Bible (our road map for daily living)–Mon.
  • praying (seeking God’s will, not our own)–Tue.
  • being wise in our interactions with others (true wisdom=applying knowledge and understanding, which only comes from God)–Wed.
  • asking for the Holy Spirit to make us His faithful stewards (gives us power to avoid the lure of the world)–Thu.

Final Words

By dwelling on Christ’s sacrifice, we are able to muster the love needed to perform our stewardship duties. What was accomplished for our salvation at Calvary must be ever on our minds when we make choices about how we are to live on this earth. Asking ourselves if Jesus and His Father would be glorified must be the litmus test for our behavior and actions. 

The Holy Spirit is always available so we can communicate to God through Bible study (Him speaking to us) and prayer (we speaking to Him). In addition, the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, which allows us to interact with God and with others here on earth.

The key figures here are

  1. God–remembering that He is our Creator
  2. Jesus–remembering that He is our Savior
  3. Holy Spirit–remembering that He is our Intercessor

Next Week’s Lesson: Stewards After Eden

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