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Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. James 5:1-4 NLT
King David heard a story about oppression and became very angry about it, until Nathan told him, “You are that man!” Like King David, I have to admit, for years whenever I read James 5:1-4, I thought I was among the poor that God’s justice would vindicate. I have lost money to dishonest and greedy people. I compared myself to those who had more. Then I realized there are many who consider me rich! With almost 7 billion people on the planet, there are only 1 billion cars.* This does not mean that 1 out of 7 people owns a car, because there are many people and companies who own many cars, meaning there are over 6 billion people who do not own a car. So if you own a car, even if its a 1980 Ford Pinto, you have something over 6 billion earthlings do not have. The other night when you got sick in the middle of the night and had to run to the toilet down the hall, you may not have realized what a luxury that midnight run was. Over two billion people don’t have a toilet to run to in the middle of the night. ** So their experience with sickness may be a little different than yours. The other night I got a headache and my bones became a little achy, so I took a hot bath and presto! Headache disappeared and my bones felt brand new. Again, a hot bath would not be an option for billions of people. What a luxury!
Now when I read James 5, I realize I am one of the rich people James is talking to. But how could I be holding back the wages of the workers in the field? I don’t even own a field. How about the gospel workers in God’s field? Do I return an honest tithe and offering? If not then I am cheating the field workers of their wages just like James says. Do I give an honest tip to the waitress, hairdresser or the boy who carried my grocery bags to the car? If not, I am the cheater James is talking to. I could go on but I think you get the point.
Withholding money which rightfully belongs to others is not the only form of oppression. How about when we snub someone from our social circle because they don’t conform to our beliefs or opinions? That is emotional oppression! How about when we sneer at the kid who just let the ball go in the other goal, costing our kid’s team the game? That’s emotional oppression. So you don’t have to be a millionaire to be oppressive.
No matter what my losses in life have been, I am still the rich person James is warning in James 5.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 NLT
If I give my bread to someone who never pays me back that is okay. My Father will give me all the bread I need. If I love someone who never loves me back that is okay. My Father gives me all the love I need. Whenever the Bible gives warnings to the rich, I know those warnings are for me personally. Nathan woke David up by saying, “you are that man!” When I read James 5 the Holy Spirit woke me up by saying, “You are that man!”
You may study this week’s SS lesson here.
Web Archives in Reverse Chronological Order, Beginning 1996
Most of our archived Adult Bible Study Guides include Scripture references linked to Bible Gateway so you can read the Word of God as you study the Sabbath School Bible lesson online wherever you may be. Currently we offer both Biblia.com and Bible Gateway versions. The default programming is currently the NKJV, but in previous years the default was the NIV Bible, but with one additional click, you can read the Bible verse in the language and version of your choice. Please remember that the internet is a medium of change, and some of the links in previous lessons may no longer work. Specifically, if you want to contact us, do so through the contact link on this page, not the link at the bottom of previous lessons.
- (2013 Q4) The Sanctuary
- (2013 Q3) Revival and Reformation
- (2013 Q2) Seek the Lord and Live – Major Lessons from Minor Prophets
- (2013 Q1) Origins
- (2012 Q4) Growing in Christ
- (2012 Q3) 1 and 2 Thessalonians
- (2012 Q2) Evangelism and Witnessing
- (2012 Q1) Glimpses of Our God
- (2011 Q4) The Gospel in Galatians
- (2011 Q3) Worship
- (2011 Q2) “Garments of Grace: Clothing Imagery in the Bible
- (2011 Q1) “Jesus Wept”: The Bible and Human Emotions
- (2010 Q4) Background Characters in the Old Testament
- (2010 Q3) Redemption in Romans
- (2010 Q2) Health and Healing
- (2010 Q1) The Fruit of the Spirit
- (2009 Q4) People on the Move: The Book of Numbers
- (2009 Q3) Loved and Loving: John’s Epistles
- (2009 Q2) Walking the Walk: The Christian Life
- (2009 Q1) The Prophetic Gift
- (2008 Q4) Atonement and the Cross of Christ
- (2008 Q3) Agents of Hope: God’s Great Missionaries
- (2008 Q2) The Wonder of Jesus
- (2008 Q1) Discipleship
- (2007 Q4) The Refiner’s Fire
- (2007 Q3) For Better or for Worse: Lessons From Old testament Couples
- (2007 Q2) Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet: The Bible for Today
- (2007 Q1) Ecclesiastes
- (2006 Q4) Beginnings and Belongings
- (2006 Q3) The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment
- (2006 Q2) The Holy Spirit
- (2006 Q1) Families in the Family of God
- (2005 Q4) Ephesians – The Gospel of Relationships
- (2005 Q3) The Spiritual Life – Experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord
- (2005 Q2) Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark
- (2005 Q1) His Wondrous Cross – The Story of Our Redemption
- (2004 Q4) Daniel
- (2004 Q3) Religion in Relationships
- (2004 Q2) Isaiah – “Comfort My People”
- (2004 Q1) The Gospel of John
- (2003 Q4) Jonah
- (2003 Q3) Sanctuary Themes – The Book of Hebrews
- (2003 Q2) The Forgiven
- (2003 Q1) The Promise – God’s Everlasting Covenant
- (2002 Q4) Living the Advent Hope
- (2002 Q3) Rebellion and Reformation: A History of the Divided Monarchy
- (2002 Q2) Great Apocalyptic Prophecies
- (2002 Q1) The Cosmic Conflict Between Christ & Satan
- (2001 Q4) Amos – Seek Me and Live
- (2001 Q3) Pillars of Our Faith
- (2001 Q2) Bible Biographies – Actors in the Drama Called Planet Earth
- (2001 Q1) Great Prayers & Pray-ers of the Bible
- (2000 Q4) Proverbs – Wisdom to Live By
- (2000 Q3) Witnessing: Turning the World Upside Down
- (2000 Q2) The Certainty of the Second Coming
- (2000 Q1) Our Assurance of Salvation
- (1999 Q4) The Church in Today’s World
- (1999 Q3) God’s Creation – Looking at the Biblical Account
- (1999 Q2) Nature of Man – Origin of Humankind, Fall and Restoration
- (1999 Q1) Studies on Revelation and Inspiration – God Shows and Tells
- (1998 Q4) Our Wonderful God – Understanding Him Better
- (1998 Q3) 2 Corinthians – A Call to Christian Ministry
- (1998 Q2) Happy Are You! Citizens of the Kingdom
- (1998 Q1) 1 Corinthians – The Gospel on the Street
- (1997 Q4) Healing and Restoration
- (1997 Q3) Parables of Jesus
- (1997 Q2) God Is Love
- (1997 Q1) Spiritual Gifts, Keys to Ministry
- (1996 Q4) God’s Family: The Church
- (1996 Q3) End-time Landmarks
- (1996 Q2) The Book of Judges
- (1996 Q1) How to Study Your Bible
Archives of Adult Bible Study Guides, 1863-2014 (new!)
What were the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers studying in Sabbath School in 1863… in 1888… in 1914? Our new archives now includes quarterly & weekly lesson titles, cover images and PDF download links for every lesson since the formal Sabbath School guide was established in 1888.
From 1863 to 1887 Sabbath School lessons appeared in the Review and Herald under the title of “Lessons for Bible Students”. This page is operational but currently under construction as we go through the old records.
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My parents tell me, when I was two years old, one Sabbath morning the elder kept praying and praying in church, and I got tired of kneeling on my two year old little knees, so I finally stood up on the pew and started shouting, “Amen! Amen! Amen!” Well let me tell you something, I have felt like doing it a few times since then. Even at two years old I must have realized that public prayers are suppose to be brief.
“Our prayers in public should be short…” –Ellen White, Prayer, Page 176
In recent years I have been kneeling in congregational prayer for what felt like an eternity, and have thought to myself during the long drawn out prayer, “Why doesn’t the elder praying just ask the pastor if he can preach sometime. I am sure he would let him, and then that way the elder wouldn’t have to use prayer time to preach a sermon.”
Jesus mentored His disciples to pray longer prayers in private, Or at least He tried to in Gethsemane the night of His arrest, in Matthew 26:36-46. Jesus led by example, in long personal prayers, even lasting all night (Luke 6:12). He also taught that prayers should be genuine and not rehearsed.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” Matthew 6:7 NLT
When we pray we are to talk to God as a friend. I even heard of an elderly Bible Worker, who when driving to Bible Studies, would make sure nothing was in the passenger car seat, because He pictured God sitting there, riding with Him to the Bible study as he prayed and drove. (I hope he kept his eyes opened as he prayed and drove!)
Many times in my Bible studies I ask people to have the opening prayer, and many are shy and say they don’t know how. I never pressure anyone to do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing, but several have been surprised how easy it is when I tell them. One man, who had already heard me pray many times, told me he wanted to pray but did not know what to say. I told him, “Just say “Dear heavenly Father, please send your Holy Spirit to be with us in this Bible study, in Jesus’ name amen.” His eyes opened wide and he smiled when he realized how easy it was.
God wants us to talk to Him as a friend. God also does not wanting us just babbling the same words over and over. He wants to have a real conversation with us. The psalmist talks about singing a new song (Psalms 40:3) and a song is like a prayer as songs and prayers are stories of our experiences. Just as God enjoys new songs He also enjoys new prayers.
While Jesus mentored His disciples to pray in private, He also mentored them to pray in public. He gave them a model prayer, not to be repeated over and over word for word necessarily, but a model for us to use to form our own prayer. God loves creativity. Not every song has to be sung the exact same way and by no means does every prayer have to be prayed the same way. While Jesus prayed long private prayers, notice how short His public prayer is.
Our Father in heaven,may your name be kept holy. Matthew 6:9 NLT
Jesus starts by addressing His Father and setting a tone for reverence and awe. Our prayers may also be prayed with confidence knowing our requests are reaching the throne of the universe.
May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 NLT
I have a friend who was taught long ago by his parents to always ask people how their day was, and listen to them, before going on about yourself and your day. You may think you had a tough day, but before you dive into your prayer, telling God all about your heartaches, have you ever asked God how His day went? God saw way more heartaches in one day than we will see in a lifetime. We want God’s will to be done and His kingdom to come soon, not just to end our suffering, but to end God’s suffering, as He suffers not just with you and me, but with everyone in the world who suffers.
Give us today the food we need, Matthew 6:11 NLT
When Daniel asked for God to reveal the kings dream to him, Daniel did not save himself only, he saved the lives of all the kings men (Daniel 2:24). InMark 4:39 Jesus calms the storm at the disciples request, but the sea was not only calmed for their tiny boat. Like wise, all the other boats on the water benefited from the calmness. Jesus does not pray for Himself alone to have food. He prays for everyone to have the food they need. There is no selfishness in Jesus’ prayer. There is no selfishness in any genuine prayer.
“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Matthew 6:12 NLT
Jesus could have prayed, “Father forgive everyone else for their sins, but as you know I have never sinned,” but again there is nor self or pride in Jesus’ prayer.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 NLT
Jesus overcame by asking for the Father’s help along with everyone else. We can ask for His help and overcome as well. Jesus ends His prayer the way He began, by exalting the Father, Who gives us the confidence we need in our personal lives and ministry when we worship and follow Him.
You can study this week’s SS lesson here.
I sat at a funeral dinner, with the grown children of the dear lady whose service I had just conducted. One of her sons was talking about adding a patio to the back of his house. Her daughter was talking about doing some work on her home too. I sat there listening, and thought to myself,“This lady has just died and her children are talking about everything but her! I don’t even have kids, just think how quickly I will be forgotten when I die!” I started getting depressed thinking about how quickly I will be forgotten. As the family talked on, not necessarily to me, I discreetly checked my Facebook on my phone beneath the table. I was stunned when I read one of the first status updates from a friend. It read, “Living my life so that people will remember me after I die is too small a cause to live for.” I felt like I had just been hit between the eyes with a 2 X 4! That day I realized, even though I had already been baptized long ago, I still needed to make a full surrender. Just because I told people I had surrendered all, and even sang the song with tears in my eyes, did not necessarily mean anything had actually been surrendered. Full surrender is an action not a profession.
Many times we think diet and dress reform and other topics are important issues, but what they all boil down to is one primary issue, the issue of a full surrender. I have met people who are proud of their extravagant wardrobe and I have met people who are proud of their simplicity. On both sides of the issue there is a pride problem! There is need for full surrender.
Jesus met and conquered the self and pride for us when He made a full surrender in Gethsemane. He cried out,
“If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.”Matthew 26:39 NLT
Here Jesus was praying in His humanity what all humanity has prayed. Is there a way for me to get around this issue other than a full surrender? Hebrews 5:8says Jesus learned obedience by suffering. His flesh, like ours, suffered when it did not get its own way. In describing the destruction of the wicked, Obadiah 1:16 NLT says they will “disappear from history.” That was my fear at the funeral dinner, and Jesus faced this fear for me and overcame, when He made a full surrender and prayed,
“Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT
Whatever issue we face, we can try to skirt around it with all kinds of human reasoning and logic as to why we don’t need to make a full surrender, but surrender is the only solution, no matter the issue.
Surrender is the key to being anointed when we are sick.
Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 NLT
The anointing is saying the sick person is the property of God. Their sickness is now God’s problem and not theirs. They have made a full surrender and have given everything to God including their sins and diseases. God may heal them by removing the sickness right then, or He may heal them through a recovery process that will reveal God’s love and power day by day. Still, God may heal them by letting them go to sleep. The KJV of James 5:15 reads,
“ And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up”
Jesus may raise the person up that very moment, or He may heal them by letting them sleep, and “raise him up” at the resurrection. The key to this passage of Scripture is that sins are forgiven and there is salvation when one has been anointed and become fully surrendered.
You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on discipling the sick here.
Last week I pulled up behind a stopped car at a red light. We both were waiting to make a left turn. The light turned green but the car in front of me just sat there. I politely honked my horn. The car continued to just sit there. Frustrated I decided to just go around the parked car and make my left turn! As I did I almost hit a fire truck with lights flashing and siren blaring! Suddenly I realized why the car in front of me was just sitting there during the green light. Apparently I had my Philips Craig and Dean Best Hits CD blaring so loudly, I could not hear the siren like the car in front of me could. I felt like a fool for honking at the car in front of me and then for trying to just go around it. I thought I knew what was going on but obviously did not really understand the situation.
A couple thousand years ago, Joseph thought he understood the situation when his fiancée Mary got pregnant. Even so, Joseph decided to keep quiet about his suspicions and divorce Mary quietly. Smart man! He did not go off spouting accusations publicly that he would have to retract later. And with the evidence, you couldn’t blame Joseph for thinking he understood the situation. Like Joseph, how slow we should be to judge even when we think we have all the evidence we need for a verdict.
Joseph was a man who loved truth so an angel comes to assure him that what is going on with Mary is nothing sinister, but on the contrary is of the Holy Spirit.
“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 NLT
How often have we been quick to judge something in the church and condemn it because it is not normal or strange to us? While we do not want to fall for a false revival, let’s also be aware that a genuine revival may not come just the way we expect it, just like Jesus did not come the way Joseph expected!
“Let every worker in the Master’s vineyard, study, plan, devise methods, to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. We must be deadly in earnest. We are on the very verge of times of trouble and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of.” –Ellen White, Evangelism pages 122-123
When it comes to revival for the church or evangelism for the community, let’s not put God in our traditional boxes and limit Him to work within our conventional imagination.
You say, “Oh but we must be so careful we don’t fall for a counterfeit revival!” I understand. So did the angel talking to Joseph. While the situation with Mary was very strange to say the least, the angel assured Joseph it was also Biblical!
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us.’”Isaiah 7:14 NLT
So just because something is strange to us does not mean it is not of the Holy Spirit or UN-Biblical! Mary’s situation was both strange and nontraditional while still being absolutely Biblical!
So if we see something new going on in the church let’s not condemn it just because it is strange or new to us. Like Joseph, let’s be slow to judge before we condemn something that may actually be of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray and be open to heavenly Beings leading us in accordance with Scripture.
You may study this week’s SS lesson on revival here.
I am writing today from the cloudy and rainy Tampa Bay area.
Wednesday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks the question,“What does Jesus’ miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes teach us about the sharing of our faith?”
One thing we learn is, the boy who gave his lunch, enabling Jesus to feed the multitude did not have to grow up before Jesus could use him in a great way.
My oldest niece is getting married next month, yet God used her years ago, when she was only 5 to teach me a very valuable lesson. My sister and her family and I were visiting my parents in Tulsa. We were all having lunch at home, after I had just preached in the church I grew up in. Someone’s name came up who we all remembered from a long time ago. I made a comment on how that person used to get on my nerves all the time. My little niece’s mouth flew open, and with a look of shock at what I just said, she exclaimed with her five year old wisdom, “You can’t be a good preacher and talk bad about people!” We all looked at her, surprised that those words flew out of her mouth. You know, if those words had flown out of anybody else’s mouth at that table 19 years ago, I would not be writing this, because I would not have remembered it. Those words were not from my niece, they were from God. God knew the only way I would remember those words, were if they came from a five year old. So while He could have spoken through anyone at the table that day, He spoke threw a five year old so I would have a true revival and reformation that day. Sure, I was speaking in the comfort of my own family, yet it was not just the way I spoke that needed to change. I needed to change the way I thought. You don’t have to worry about inappropriate words flying out of your mouth if you never think them in the first place.
The boy giving up all he had to revive a hungry multitude, and my 5 year old niece, inspiring a revival which led to a reformation in my way of thinking, are not to be isolated cases of God using young people, now and not just when they get older.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. Joel 2:28-29
By referring to servants and even handmaids, God is telling us He is going to use little children in His great last day revival. It should not be that big a deal if you think about. I mean, if God can use simple pieces of dust in the wind like you and I, it’s really not any kind of a stretch for God to use little children. Remember God spoke though a donkey when He spoke to Balaam, so God does not consider it a really big deal when He speaks through me anyway. He could use the dog next door to write this post if He wanted to!
In order to be humble teachers we must also remain humble students willing to be taught by anyone God wants to use to enlighten us. A true revival will never revive our pride. A true revival will lead us to realize God can use the most humble instruments to crucify our pride and experience a genuine revival of Godliness.
Folks give Eli a bad rap for not controlling his own sons better, but even with all of his faults Eli got something right. When Samuel was sleeping in the temple, he repeatedly thought Eli was calling him. Finally Eli realized God was calling little Samuel, and the humble priest instructed the young child what to say next time he heard the voice of God.
“Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” 1 Samuel 3:9
You know what I find remarkable in that simple story? In Eli’s day, as well as in our day, a lot of priests and religious leaders with fancy titles and letters behind their names, would have told themselves, “That couldn’t be God talking to little Samuel, because if it was God, He would be talking to someone important like me and not some little kid.”
With all his faults, Eli was humble enough to realize that being the high priest did not make him any more useful to God than a little boy. You can pick and find fault with Eli if you want to, but in the end, Samuel led a revival in his day because Eli was humble enough to step aside and let God work through whatever instrument He chose. Likewise God used a small child to work a revival and reformation in my heart at the lunch table one afternoon 19 years ago. And long before that a multitude was revived because a small little boy did not wait to grow up before he gave Jesus everything he had that day.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Diet is a very important part of weight control, but it is not the only thing. There is exercise, and I have also read that the right amount of sleep is a factor in weight control. Having said all this, weight control is not maintained by binge dieting, it is controlled by a healthy lifestyle.
Likewise when we talk about prayer and revival there is more to revival than prayer. In conversations about prayer and revival 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often mentioned. However, prayer is not the only remedy for revival mentioned in this quote. Furthermore, binge praying may lead to a temporary revival just as binge dieting leads to temporary weight control, yet temporary weight control is no weight control at all, and temporary revival is no revival at all. If a heart attack victim is revived in the ambulance only to die in the ER he is dead just the same.
So what besides prayer is suggested in the 2 Chronicles 7:14 recipe for revival?
The first ingredient is humbleness. God asks us to humble ourselves before we pray. This one is hard, because we often find pride in revival. We rebuild an old ’65 Ford Mustang, and once we have it looking shiny and new we are proud. Our teams revives itself and comes back to win late in the game, which makes us proud. The idea of humbleness being an ingredient to revival goes against human nature. It is also very deceiving. I once listened to a lady in Texas brag to me about how humble she was! No joke! Her exact words, which utter shock embedded into my brain forever, were, “I am the most humble person I know.” She was serious and sincere. Hence the utter shock on my part.
Once again in Texas, I was visiting with a family who was assuring me they realized nobody was perfect. One of the family members, as sincere as could be, said, “no family is perfect,” and then emphatically drove the point home by exclaiming, “not even us!” Say what? I did not bother assuring them I never thought that, and mused to myself where they got the idea that one would need to be assured their family was not perfect. They meant well. I don’t think theirs is the only family that does not sense its hidden pride.
I was amused a while back during volleyball season. The church school’s girl’s volleyball team was winless. That was not amusing. What was amusing were the three different team mothers who told me privately, one at a time, that their daughter is very skilled and talented, but the other girls just don’t know how to play. If those mothers had all been correct the team would not have been winless. I never told the mothers that the other mothers were saying the same thing. I just nodded and smiled.
An old friend once told me in reference to prayer, “We can be kneeling on our knees but still standing in our hearts.”
Wisdom and humility make a very winsome combination, while stupidity and arrogance combine for disgrace. Funny thing is, I have never seen wisdom and arrogance together at all! They just don’t combine with each other just as iron does not mix with clay.
There is one cure for pride and arrogance. Look to Jesus and the cross.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride. –Isaac Watts, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross.”
Going on a humble binge will not revive us anymore than binge dieting will lead us to health. It must be an everyday part of our life.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
And I cried
Who nailed Him there
This Child of peace and mercy
Who nailed Him there
Come and face me like a man
Who nailed Him there
And the crowd began to mock me
I cried Oh my God I just don’t understand
Then I turned and saw the hammer
In my hand! –Steve Milikan, “The Hammer”
That thought alone should keep us humble throughout our life here on earth, till the day we throw our crowns at the feet of Jesus! A binge humbleness will never do.
Any time self revives the revival dies.
You may study this week’s SS lesson on revival and reformation here.