Sabbath School Lesson for March 30-April 5, 2019
This first week of the new quarter, we will become acquainted with the seasons of family life by looking at…
- how life was for families in the beginning–what has and what hasn’t changed since then (Sunday)
- what kind of life stages are common for all of us–but how and why do we still maintain our individuality (Monday)
- how an unexpected tragedy or loss can disrupt our life seasons, and either weaken or strengthen us (Tuesday)
- what and how we change when God comes into our lives (Wednesday)
- what are the best kinds of interactions to develop for healthy family relationships–and how do they impact our spirituality (Thursday)
Much of the Bible narrative involves family life in one way or another. The stories in Scripture center around the colorful seasons of life, exposing us to the good, as well as the bad, that comes during all our lifetimes.
King Solomon poetically recognized these seasons in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (our Memory Text), when he declared, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:” He then goes on to list those purposes, or seasons, that God assigns to us at various times, and that touch our families so much. “A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh;”…and on and on through verse 8.
These seasons provide a context for understanding our families, and can be seen as rhythms that impact us, for good or bad, as long as we live on this sin-filled planet.
Memory Text: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV
As we study the seasons of family life this quarter, let’s not forget that with every season, there is a purpose that reflects or directs us to the will of God. We will benefit most from our study when we include our Creator’s purpose in our search for answers to very perplexing situations that come to all of us during the span of a lifetime.
Sunday: In the Beginning
The smallest child seems to be interested in his own beginning and loves to hear the story from his parents about how he came to be a part of this world. God knew this about us, and inspired Moses to include “our beginning story” in the book of Genesis, one of the first books of the Bible to be written.
Describing in as much detail as our finite minds could grasp, Moses laid out the whole creation story, ending each day’s work by God with His declaration that it was “very good”. The orderly fashion with which our world came into being impresses us with the organizational skills of our Creator.
Even the powerful disruption caused by the entrance of sin could not erase totally our perfectly ordained planet Earth with its natural rhythms and seasons. There is still much to learn from the book of nature about the character of God, lessons that reveal much about the God we serve, if we will take time to study its pages.
Read Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 12, 14, 21, 25, 26, 31. Why didn’t God create everything all at once, instead of taking a whole week? What does His methodical planning tell us about God?
Read Genesis 8:21, 22. Why did Noah especially need this promise after the flood? Do natural disasters that occur in our world today mean that God is not keeping this promise?
Read Isaiah 66:22-24. Why will there still be rhythms, including the weekly Sabbath, even in the earth made new?
Monday: The Rhythms of Life
Most of us have heard of circadian rhythms, sometimes called our “body clocks”. These “clocks” within us are reminders of the time to eat, sleep, when to be active, etc. As humans, we do much to upset these hidden reminders, leading to all kinds of ill health and lost productivity.
Similar “clocks” (or seasons) actually exist outside our bodies. For instance, we have the dusk, just before nighttime. Falling leaves and colder temperatures, alerting us of the approach of winter. Our children, too, show signs of increased maturity and responsibility, as they get closer to adulthood.
Although we should pay attention to these different rhythms and stages of life, we must never forget that each person is an individual and will have differences in his or her ability to experience life in a predictable, or even acceptable, way. And this is true for the young and old.
Even the natural environment doesn’t always behave the way we might predict it would. Ask any meteorologist if he would support this observation. And scientists in other fields of natural study would certainly agree that individual patterns are capable of wide deviation from the normal.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:3, 4, 8. How would killing, weeping, mourning, hating, and war be part of God’s purpose for our world? What is King Solomon telling us by including them in this list of “times”?
Read Acts 17:26, 27. Why does God provide us with these boundaries and rhythms of life? What purpose do they serve?
Read Proverbs 16:31 and 20:29. What are the benefits of being young, and of being old? Why do people in some cultures try to hide their age as they grow older? What should be the correct attitude in celebrating our birthdays?
Tuesday: The Unexpected
Many times people in the Bible are confronted with unexpected tragedies, resulting in intense pain and suffering. Perhaps the first story of this nature that comes to mind for many of us is the story of Job.
In an instant, Job, described as upright and blameless, experienced the loss of his property, his servants, his children, his health, and the support of his friends and wife. Seldom do we suffer that much tragedy in such a short time. And yet, Job survived and saw it all replaced in his lifetime.
Abel, on the other hand, did not receive his reward in this life. His brother Cain ended his life in a rampage of jealous anger, and Abel is now resting in the grave until the Messiah raises him to eternal life and brings him to a glorious paradise, even more wonderful than what Job later enjoyed on earth.
We, too, can be assured that God will reward our sacrificial service, either now or in the earth made new. That knowledge empowers us to overcome our trials and to remain faithful despite enormous, unexpected challenges.
Read Job 1:1. Why does the Bible make it a plain that Job was a worthy follower of God, before his trials began? Why do we often see our tragedies as the result of our good or bad behavior?
Read Job 2:7-10, 1:5, and Exodus 20:7. Why was it foolish of Job’s wife to advise him to curse God, when it probably seemed like the right thing at the time? How would this be a breaking of the third commandment?
Read 1 Peter 4:12. When is the reward we really look forward to? And why will we continue to suffer adversity until then?
Humans are most often not as adaptable as one would think. We are creatures of habit, and we cling to our set ways. Interestingly, we see this pattern in very young children and then again in our senior years. This is understandable when you consider the rapid changes these stages in life demand of us.
One Bible character, who experienced an extreme turnaround (transition) though, was the apostle Paul. Once known as Saul, an avid persecutor of Christians, his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus totally changed his world and the way he interacted with it.
Yes, God is in the business of changing us. Our characters become transformed to some degree by every encounter we have with God. That’s why daily communion with Him is so important. Gradual improvements, or quite rapid ones, are guaranteed when we permit God to enter our hearts.
Each of us would do well to develop our “transition” story. Whether it’s as dramatic as that of Paul, or one that takes a lifetime to cultivate, like Abraham or Joseph. We all have a testimony of how God has changed us in very real and tangible ways.
Read Acts 8:1, 3 and 9:1-6. Why did Saul require such a sudden, miraculous appearance of God at this time? What did Saul’s first and second questions for Jesus tell us about Saul’s character, even before he met Jesus on this trip to Damascus?
Read Galatians 1:14-17. How did Saul/Paul ease into the transition that God laid out for him? What steps enabled him to make such a dramatic turn in his life?
Read Philippians 1:6 and Romans 8:1. Why is our conversion more likely to be of a progressive nature? What effect does our behavior have on our spirituality? And what effect does our spirituality have on our behavior? Why are both important?
Families, trials, transitional encounters with God, none of these factors would matter without the result of a changed character that interacts in a more positive way with those around us.
This is why the Bible stresses the need for us to be humble, gentle, kind, tender, forgiving, and loving, not just to those in our immediate family or circle of friends, but to everyone with whom we come in contact. This is not only a mandate from God, straight from His Ten Commandments, but it is a worthy goal to keep before us, because the more we are like God, the closer we are to Him.
Jesus changed people’s lives for the better while on earth, and we are given the same privilege of being agents for change. It’s up to us to cultivate these finer ways of interaction that the Holy Spirit is anxious to bestow upon us. How we treat others is directly associated with our character development, and is something we will struggle to improve all through our lifetimes on this earth.
Read Romans 15:5-7. Who are we like when we are patient and comforting to someone, and why is this important? How do our interactions affect the unity of our church? How, who, and why are we to receive people?
Read Ephesians 4:2, 32. Why are positive interactions always the best kind? What thought should make it easier to be kind and loving?
Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and James 5:16. Who helps us be loving and kind to others? What can be healed, besides physical ailments, when we pray for someone?
There are three important rhythms, or habits, that are vital to our Christian character development. In order to get the most out of life on this earth, we must…
- get into the habit (rhythm) of prayer (hourly–keeps us in touch with the Holy Spirit)
- get into the habit of Bible study (daily–helps us learn about Jesus)
- get into the habit of observing God’s rest day, the Sabbath (weekly–gives us an opportunity to show others that we worship our Father in heaven)
With these tools at our disposal, we can…
- enjoy more fully the plan God had for us in the beginning–Sunday’s lesson
- get the most out of each stage of life (infant through old age)–Monday’s lesson
- survive unexpected tragedies and losses with grace and dignity–Tuesday’s lesson
- experience transitions/changes that come to us with more success–Wednesday’s lesson
- learn to exhibit positive interactions with those in our sphere of influence, allowing us to be more like Jesus–Thursday’s lesson
Next week, we’ll discuss the topic of life choices. What is the most important choice we have to make?…
Next Week’s Lesson: The Choices We Make
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/