Lesson 11 September 7-13
Read for This Week’s Study: Col. 3:1-4; 2 Cor. 3:17-18; 10:3-5; Rom. 12:2-3; John 10:10; Matt. 5:13-15.
Memory Text: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2, NKJV).
Isaac Watts is credited with over seven hundred fifty hymns, many of which are sung by thousands of Christians today. On one occasion, a parade was held in London in Watts’ honor. People thronged the streets to get a glimpse of this famous man. As his carriage passed under a balcony filled with spectators, one lady was astonished that this short, elderly man now hunched over in old age had written such mighty hymns. She shrieked, “What, you are Isaac Watts?” Watts motioned for the carriage to stop. He stretched himself up to his full frame and exclaimed, “Madame, could I in fancy grasp the poles or hold creation in my span, I would still be measured by my mind, for the mind is the measure of a man.”
Isaac Watts was right. The mind is the measure of a man, and reformation is about our minds. If we have a reformation in our thinking, we will have a reformation in our actions. Reformation occurs as the Holy Spirit brings our thoughts into harmony with Christ’s thoughts. When that happens, our actions will follow.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 14.
SUNDAY September 8
Our thoughts will ultimately dictate our behavior. The way that we think influences the way that we act. The converse is also true. Repeated actions influence our thoughts. The Christian is a “new creation.” Old thinking patterns have been replaced by new ones (2 Cor. 5:17).
When a sailboat embarks on its seaward journey, the sails are set. The set sails give the boat its direction. Throughout the journey, the sails need to be reset in order to maintain the correct course. If the sails are neglected, the boat will veer off course very quickly. Like those sails, our thoughts give direction to our spiritual lives. When the apostle Paul admonishes Christians to “set your mind on things above” (Col. 3:2, NKJV), he is urging us to focus our thoughts heavenward. Our minds are shaped by what we put into them. Our thoughts are molded by what we spend our time dwelling upon.
What miracle of grace takes place in our own lives as we behold God’s glory in His Word? 2 Cor. 3:17-18.
As we behold Jesus in His Word, we are changed. New thoughts replace old ones. By beholding Him, we become more like Him. “It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence. Man will never rise higher than his standard of purity or goodness or truth. If self is his loftiest ideal, he will never attain to anything more exalted. Rather, he will constantly sink lower and lower. The grace of God alone has power to exalt man. Left to himself, his course must inevitably be downward.”-Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 555.
Reformation is all about looking to Jesus. It is about Jesus filling our minds. It is about Jesus shaping our thoughts. It is about Jesus guiding our actions. When we behold Jesus, He will lead us to higher standards than mere rigidity to rules. We cannot really look to Jesus and remain the same. When we think His thoughts, we have only one desire, and that is, to do His will.
What counsel would you give to a person struggling to make Jesus a priority in his or her thinking process? What does the Bible mean when it talks about “beholding” or “looking to Jesus”?
MONDAY September 9
There are some parents who are so concerned about their children’s Internet viewing habits that they have installed filters to block out certain sites. Others have done something similar with television. The purpose of these “electronic filters” is to let some things in while keeping others out. God has provided a “spiritual filter” for our minds. It has been carefully crafted to allow only those things into our minds that will build our spiritual experience with Jesus.
What practical instruction does Paul give to his fellow Christians as a filter designed to guard their minds from the intoxicating influences of evil? How does this counsel apply today to our viewing habits on television, the Internet, and DVDs? Phil. 4:7-8; Rom. 12:2.
Here is one simple reality. It is not possible to develop deeply spiritual thoughts if we feed our minds on violence, immorality, greed, and materialism. Our senses are the gateway to our minds. If our minds are bombarded with the stimulating scenes of Hollywood’s entertainment, they will be molded by these sensual experiences rather than by the principles of God’s Word. Multiple millions of dollars are spent by media producers to manipulate our emotions, condition our thinking, and shape our values. We can be assured that the basic question that these entertainment gurus ask is not, “How can these productions prepare people for the soon return of Jesus?” The bottom line that motivates them the most is money. Seventh-day Adventist Christians preparing for the Second Coming of Christ should reflect carefully before sacrificing their souls on the altar of the world’s entertainment.
There is a great cathedral in Milan, Italy, with three large wooden entrance doors. Etched above the left-hand door are these words: “All that pleases is for a moment.” Over the right-hand door, these words stand out in bold relief: “All that troubles is but for a moment.” And emblazoned in bold letters over the center door is this poignant phrase: “That alone endures which is eternal.” Ask yourself: How often do you think about what’s eternal? How do your choices reflect those thoughts?
TUESDAY September 10
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7, NIV). This is a wonderful promise but one that we have to actively seek in order to make it real in our lives.
There are many ways in which we can let down our guard. We can let in the cesspool of this world’s entertainment. Our minds might be overcome by anger, bitterness, and resentment. They may be submerged in an ocean of intoxicating pleasure or addictive habits. The good news is that Jesus has promised to safeguard our minds-if we let Him.
Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. When Paul says that the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (NKJV) but spiritual, what does he mean? What are carnal weapons? What are spiritual weapons? The apostle also talks about “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5, NKJV). What does he mean, and how can it be accomplished?
Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “You cannot stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair.” In other words, thoughts will rush into our minds. There are varying sights, sounds, and smells that stimulate certain thoughts. Different experiences evoke different emotions. We cannot always choose the thoughts which race through our minds. We can choose whether we will dwell upon them and allow them to dominate our thinking. To bring each thought into obedience to Christ is to surrender our minds to Jesus. Carnal thoughts are not banished by merely wishing them away. They are driven out as the mind is filled with something else. The mind focused on the positive principles of God’s Word is the mind “safeguarded” and “kept” by God’s grace from the wiles of the evil one.
When Paul says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5, NKJV), what specifically does he mean? How is it possible for us to have the mind of Christ? Where do the words let or allow in the text place responsibility for change?
WEDNESDAY September 11
The ancient Greeks taught a form of dualism; that is, they believed that there was a great distinction between our bodies and our souls. In contrast, Scripture teaches that human beings are an integrated unit of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Whatever affects one part of the human frame affects all parts. The disciples taught that physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health were interconnected and could not be separated.
How is this idea reflected in 1 Thessalonians 5:23?
For the New Testament believers, physical, mental and emotional well-being is indissolubly linked to spiritual well-being. The apostle Paul appealed to believers to “glorify God in their bodies.” He believed that all humanity was bought with a price and we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Caring for our bodies by adopting a more healthful lifestyle does much more than add a few more years to our lives; done with the right motives, it can be an act of worship itself.
How do Romans 12:2-3; John 10:10; and 1 Corinthians 10:31 show the intimate relationship between our physical and spiritual health?
The Holy Spirit does not limit Himself to one aspect of our lives when He convicts us of our need for growth. Reformation is not one-dimensional. The Spirit longs to bring our lives into total conformity to the will of Christ in every area. If there are physical lifestyle practices not in harmony with His will, God invites us to surrender them for His glory. Satan wants to control our minds through our bodies; Jesus longs to control our bodies through our minds. Our bodies are a temple, not a funhouse. By following heaven’s principles we can live more joy-filled, productive, abundant, healthy lives.
What are the personal experiences that have shown you just how inseparable the link is between our physical and spiritual natures? What choices can you make to help to bring them into more beneficial harmony?
THURSDAY September 12
There are numerous images that Jesus uses to describe Himself and His church. One is “light.” He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). He is also the “true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9, NKJV). He encourages us to “walk while you have the light” and “believe in the light” (John 12:35-36, NKJV).
Compare Matthew 5:13-15 with Philippians 2:14-16. What is our Lord’s goal for His people in this world? What does that mean in practical terms? How can we be what we are called to be?
The goal of all revival and reformation is to allow the light of Christ’s love, grace, and truth to shine through our lives. Light shines in contrast to darkness. Jesus has called His people to live a lifestyle distinctly different from that which is lived in the world in order to demonstrate the superiority of His way of life. He calls us to be compassionate, caring, and concerned in a world of selfishness, greed, and egotism . He calls us to uphold high standards in entertainment in a society intoxicated with pleasure (Col. 3:1-2). He calls us to healthful living at a time when millions are dying too young from self-inflicted degenerative diseases (John 10:10). In the midst of an immodest, sex-centered, thrill-jaded generation, Jesus calls us to something different. He calls us to modesty, propriety, and moral purity (1 Pet. 3:3-4).
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah gave a clarion call to Israel for reformation about seven hundred years before Christ. His words speak with relevance to a church waiting for the return of our Lord. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9, NKJV). God’s ideal for His church and for us as individuals is higher than we can imagine. All of heaven longs to reveal His character of love through His people.
Look at the standards that mark your lifestyle. In what ways (if any) do they reveal that you are a follower of Jesus and that your life is set on something other than this fading world?
FRIDAY September 13
Further Study: “Many profess to be on the Lord’s side, but they are not; the weight of all their actions is on Satan’s side. By what means shall we determine whose side we are on? Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Upon whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are on the Lord’s side, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. We have no friendship with the world; we have consecrated all that we have and are to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things.” -Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p 262.
“It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. There is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Savior’s love. All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts.”-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 419.
Twelve-year-old Yvette walked along the dusty path, carefully balancing the plastic water jug on her head. She didn’t want to spill even a drop of water. She passed children walking toward a nearby school. They were dressed in dark skirts or trousers and white shirts. Yvette’s steps slowed as she thought about the children learning to read and write and do math. Sometimes she could hear them reciting their lessons aloud in the little school. She sighed heavily and walked faster. Her mother was waiting at home. There were meals to prepare, a garden to water, and clothes to wash.
Jean [John] Claude walked along the narrow path gently prodding the family’s cow with a large twig. He tapped her away from a neighbor’s property as she searched for fresh grass to eat. His stick kept her safely away from the nearby road where cars and trucks whizzed past.
Jean Claude paused and looked up at the green patchwork gardens on the hills that surrounded his home. The honk of a large truck stirred the boy from his thoughts, and he hurried to catch up with the cow.
The happy voices of children floated on the warm afternoon breeze. Jean Claude used his branch to nudge the cow off the pathway so the children could pass without getting dirty. He watched them pass and wondered if he would ever go to school. His father explained that they couldn’t afford to buy him a school uniform or school supplies. But in his heart Jean Claude continued to hope that someday he could join the children in the school.
Schools in Rwanda no longer charge tuition, but many children, such as Yvette and Jean Claude, still can’t study because they don’t have a school uniform or supplies. Without an education, these children will continue living in the cycle of poverty into which they were born.
A school uniform is such a little thing. But it makes a big difference to a child who can’t go to school without one. Recently Adventist children around the world helped provide school uniforms through the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering. Because of their gifts, children such as Jean Claude and Yvette can now attend an Adventist school.
Our mission offerings and our Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings help make a world of difference to people we may never meet by providing schools, clinics, evangelistic opportunities-and even school uniforms-to reach them for Christ. Thank you for faithful support of mission through your offerings.