God Still Needs Older People

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT

Several years ago now, my friend Jean passed away at the age of 94. She lost her husband a couple years earlier and then became ill with cancer. She was telling her daughter she did not even know why she was still living. She felt old and useless. But one day her

young health care nurse came for a routine visit. She told Jean about her own mother who had Alzheimer’s and would cry and shake constantly. Jean suggested buying a doll for her to hold. The young nurse did so and came back to tell Jean that it worked! No more shaking and crying. Jean was still helping people even though she was widowed, old and sick.

When Daniel was young he purposed in his heart to be true to God. Daniel 1:8 specifically mentions being true to God regarding his diet and health. We are not only stewards of God’s money but also time. The longer we can hold onto our health and strength, the longer we can serve God with all of our heart and strength. Daniel served God faithfully in his younger years, but as Daniel became old God was not finished using him. In Daniel 5 Daniel appears to have been overlooked by the current king, but just as God reminded the butler about Joseph at just the right moment, the queen remembered Daniel at just the right time. Daniel may have been brought out of retirement, so to speak, for that one night. Even so, God was not finished with Daniel even then. Daniel had a future with the next empire. A future in which the king who overlooked him had no share. Just like He used my friend Jean and just like He used Daniel, God will continue using us as long as we keep serving him with whatever heart and strength we have.

Remember Psalms 23:6, God’s goodness and mercy shall be with me all the days of my life! And that was definitely true in Daniel’s case..

David also has a promise for the elderly who remain godly.

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.  Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Psalm 92:12-14 NLT

A few years ago I was visiting an elderly shut-in from my church one morning. As I got ready to go I asked him to pray with me. He prayed that God would use both of us to share the Gospel that day. I thought to myself, he must be talking about me, because he will be here in his home alone all day. There is nothing he can do. I was so wrong! That evening when I got home from my last Bible study he called. He was so happy and excited. The cable repairman had come by the house, and while working on his TV he saw some Christian literature my elderly friend had on an end table. The repairman started asking questions about God, and my friend invited him to church. As I hung up I was reminded about his prayer and how I thought there was nothing he could do. God sure showed me! God showed me He will always use whatever health and strength we have to bear fruit even in our older years. When we love God with all of our health and strength He increases our health and strength even in old age.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Every Word of God Proves True

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Every word of God proves true…Proverbs 30:5 NLT

God’s Word said “if you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will die.” The serpent said, “You won’t die!” insinuating God is a liar. The serpent was talking so it appeared defiance to God actually gave him special powers. Eve believed in what she heard and saw from the serpent instead of believing God’s Word. Turns out God’s Word was true. She died.

God told us through the prophet Daniel that Europe would never be reunited into a one-world empire after Rome fell. In World War 2 Arthur Maxwell’s superiors were so afraid Hitler would take over Europe that they asked him not to publish his article claiming, according to Daniel 2, that there was no way Hitler could win and take over Europe. Maxwell published his article anyways. Good thing he did, because it turned out God’s Word was true. Hitler lost. Europe has never been reunited into a one-world empire.

In the wilderness Satan wanted to tempt Jesus and make Him doubt He was the Son of God. After all He probably did not look the best after 40 days of fasting. Jesus said He did not need any signs, like turning stones to bread to prove He was God’s Son. He had already heard God call Him “Son” at His baptism. Jesus put His faith in God’s Word instead of appearances. Turns out God’s Word is true. Even the centurion knew Jesus was God’s Son.

A boy told a story about dying and going to heaven. The Bible says when you die you remain in your grave, unconscious until Jesus comes and resurrects us. Like Eve, many people put their faith in what they saw and heard instead of God’s Word. The boy later recanted his story. Turns out the Bible is true. Those who die sleep until Jesus comes.

The moral of my story is, whenever appearances, sight, sound and feeling all contradict God’s Word, God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures will prove true every time. Trust God. Trust His Word above anything you see, feel, or hear.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Living Like Jesus in the Middle of Babylon

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I am writing today from my beautiful hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

We as Adventists believe that in the last days there will be a showdown between spiritual Babylon and those who have the seal of God, who reflect the character of Jesus. While Daniel had his haters, it amazes me how he seemed to thrive and even found favor among the leaders of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was not one to compromise his standards. The life of Daniel shows us that it is possible to live a life of uncompromising integrity and still get along with those of different beliefs and lifestyles. Years later Paul wrote,

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, Titus 2:11-12 NLT

We can’t wait for heaven to live a righteous life. God’s grace empowers us to reflect Christ’s character in this evil world. Daniel is an example of how we can be like Jesus in the midst of corruption. Let’s take a look.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

When Daniel received the vision the king had dreamed his first thought was to save the lives of the wicked wise men. Jesus always put the salvation of others first. The wise men in Daniel’s day were preserved by the integrity of Daniel. In Genesis 12;3 God said all the families of the earth (not just believers) would be blessed by the Messiah. Likewise even the unbelievers of Daniel’s day were blessed by Daniel’s integrity. In the last days I believe men and women of God will be a blessing to the evil world around them.

I marvel at Daniel’s humility.  In Daniel 1:20 Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times wiser than the other wise men, but look at what Daniel says when he tells the king his dream.

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

Daniel did not claim to have any special wisdom and neither did Jesus. Jesus always pointed the people to the Scriptures instead of spouting off like a know-it-all. Daniel did not claim to have any special abilities and neither did Jesus. Look at what Jesus says about Himself,

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. John 5:19 NLT

Look at what Jesus says about others who believe.

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the midst of Babylon and Persia. Amidst his haters he more than survived, he thrived and found favor even among wicked rulers. Some blame corruption in the workplace for being passed over for promotions, but God promoted Daniel right in the heart of all the corruption. God can promote you too anytime anywhere. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the heart of the Roman Empire and may I also say a corrupt religious system.  He too had His haters but He too found favor “with both God and man” and was able to tell His Father,

I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived among all the corruption of Babylon. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived amid pagan Rome and a religious system that left a lot to be desired. So today, in the midst of spiritual Babylon by God’s grace we can live a life of uncompromising integrity and make friends along the way.

You may study the Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel here. 

Pray For Our Leaders

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: Daniel 4:34 NKJV

I don’t know how it is around the world, but here in the last days in the United States, we are becoming very polarized politically. I am afraid it is even affecting the church. A while back a young person in the church shared a meme on Facbeook, bashing a political figure with lies. I messaged my young friend and shared the documentation with her that the cruel meme was making a false accusation. She replied back that she did not need me telling her the meme was false because she already knew it was a lie. I asked her why she was spreading lies. She replied back, “They make the point I am wanting to make.” I replied back, “so your point is a lie?” She replied back that she had an agenda and did not need me judging her integrity. If it took a lie to promote her political agenda then so be it!

Sadly that is not an isolated case. Professed Adventist Christians are spreading lies and fake news about political figures to suit their political preferences. It is being done on both sides. What really saddens me is that many professed Adventist Christians are using social media to promote earthly politics instead of sharing the gospel. Not only are they being worldly focused but they are not even using integrity even by worldly standards. They are using lies, fake news and gossip.

In Daniel 4 we see a pagan king who repents and is saved. The first six chapters of Daniel are filled with stories that will be repeated as the prophecies in the last six chapters unfold. The image in Daniel 3 is similar to the mark of the beast. I believe if Daniel 3 repeats itself then Daniel 4 will repeat itself as well. I believe ruthless pagan political leaders will be converted int he last days. Why else would Daniel 4 be in the middle of other stories that are to be repeated in the last days?

As we prepare for the end time, instead of means that even the world recognizes as immoral, such as fake news, lies and gossip to bash political leaders who we think are pagan, lets instead pray for their conversion.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV

May I also suggest that instead of hiding behind an electronic device on social media, to hurl insults at others, that sensitive issues are better discussed face to face in real life? I have yet to see social media solve a social issue yet. Social issues are better solved in social real life discussions. It also helps us to be more responsible and Christlike with our comments.

You may read this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Two Things I Love About Daniel

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we take a look at Daniel in this week’s lesson there are a couple of things I love about Daniel, that sometimes get overlooked. When his neck was on the line, I like how Daniel responded when God revealed to him the king’s dream.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

Daniel’s relationship with God did not only save his life. It saved the lives of all the wise men, even the fake ones. Daniel’s first thoughts were of others, not just himself. So it is today. The entire world benefits from the Christian influences around them. Like when the disciples asked Jesus to calm the sea, it was not just calm for their little boat. All the boats on the sea benefited. Daniel wanted to save others. Later when the Persian leaders conspired against Daniel, it did not bother him that others did not have his back the way that he had theirs. Daniel knew God had his back and that’s all that mattered.

I also marvel at Daniel’s humility. Daniel 1:20 says Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times wiser. Yet when Daniel tells the king’s dream look what he says,

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

Nothing is more annoying than a wise guy telling you how wise he is. Daniel realized smart people don’t tell you how smart they are. Daniel did not credit his wisdom. He credited God’s grace in wanting to reach the king’s heart. Daniel had more thank just Scriptural knowledge and prophetic understanding. He had people skills! So much so he flourished in the heart of Babylon without ever compromising his faith!

As we prepare for the end times, let’s not only pursue Daniel’s prophetic abilities. Let’s pursue his people skills.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Growth Group Lesson Plan #17 – Decisions

DIALOGUE # 17 – DECISIONS
by Pr Denis Sand – sanddenis@gmail.com

Objective of today’s dialogue: challenge people to consider the consequences of their decisions and to choose to live by God’s principles.

Additional resources: Read and study the material in the following pages.

Welcome (15) – Fellowship
• What was your favorite food your mom prepared you?
• How easy is it for you to decide what to eat when you go out?

Worship (15) – Worship
• Read Psalms 34.1-5
Shout to the Lord
Come
• What are some of the decisions that God has helped you to make for which you are thankful to God tonight?
• Pray in groups of three

Word (30) – Discipleship
• Read Daniel 1:1-20
• Place yourself in Daniel’s shoes and consider, how would you feel about God if you were only 17 and taken away from your country, family, and friends into captivity to a foreign land?
• Why do you think Daniel took the decision not to “defile himself”? v8
• When your loyalty to God is tested, how do you react?
• What is the relationship between what we eat and drink with the God we serve?
• How prone are you to remain faithful when no one is watching you? Why?
• What should we do with our principles when we face challenges? Explain. v8,12
• What do you think prepared Daniel and his friends to face this challenge?
• Consider the consequences/end results of the decision Daniel took in facing the test of loyalty. Why do you think it was all worth it or not? v8,12,15,17-20
• What principles should we take into consideration when making everyday decisions?
• What has the Lord taught you tonight?
• How would you apply it this week?
• To do: Challenge the group to repeat together and to store in their minds Daniel 1:8

Works – Witness (15) – Ministry & Evangelism
• Allow one of the co-leaders or apprentices to share the vision God has given for the group.
• Invite people to study the Bible in order to have the right principles in making choices.
• Who do you know that needs help in making wise decisions and being loyal to God?
• Plan a social activity as a group: let members chose the what, when, how and who will be invited. Have some ideas ready. Remember visitors should be invited to this social/evangelistic activity.
• Finalize asking: How can we pray for you tonight?

Refreshments– Fellowship
• Informally as you eat something, ask your group members the names of the people they will be inviting to the social the group is planning.

Additional Resources: Prophets and kings, Chapter 39 – In the Court of Babylon, 379-390

Luke 8; Asking With Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 8:22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 

 8:23       But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled [with water], and were in jeopardy. 

 8:24       And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 

 8:25       And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. 

First of all I notice in this story that Jesus rebukes them while they came and ask him to do something about the storm. What more could they do? How was that a lack of faith? Aren’t we to come to Jesus with our problems? Is that not a sign of faith? Yes, the Bible says we are to come to Jesus with our problems, but it also tells us how, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6 Funny James even references waves tossed with the winds. Maybe the disciples should have said, “Lord help us overcome this storm” instead of implying that they were going to perish. We must have faith and remember too, in times of storms, that sometimes Jesus calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child, and lets the storm rage on. Peace does not mean there is no storm. Peace just means you are with Jesus in the storm.

Of course when Jesus calmed the storm, it did not just settle down for the little boat the disciples were on. The waters were calmed for everyone on the waters, believer and unbeliever alike. This is how it is, the blessings we ask and receive from God are to flow over and bless the rest of the world. We should ask nothing for ourselves, but for the whole world. Jesus never prayed “Give me my daily bread”, but rather, “Give us our daily bread.” In Daniel 2, Daniel asks God to tell him what the king dreamed so that he and the other non-believing wise men would be saved. As soon as God revealed the dream to Daniel, the first thing Daniel says to the King’s men was “Destroy not the wise men of Babylon.” So by Daniel’s prayer being answered the wise men of Babylon were saved as well. The world will never know or appreciate how many of its blessings it owes to the prayers of the believer.