restorying faith and values

Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Letter to Refugees: From Surviving to Thriving

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 13 - 24 June 2017

Introduction

Ringwood Adventist Church, where I attend with my family, is as close to the Kingdom of God as you can get before the return of Christ. Why do I say this? 
Reason 1. A few weeks ago, during luncheon I noticed something about the people with whom I was eating. I commented that the five of us were from five different families, five different nationalities and five different cultures! That's Kingdom growth if I ever saw it!
Reason 2. At least half of our weekly attendees are refugees. Hearing their stories of suffering from around the world, I have learned so much more about the power of Salvation. The Kingdom of God is ever present due to their presence.

Peter's first letter is written to Refugees. He wrote it to give them courage and confidence in their struggles. Let's take a look.


Read 1 Peter 1:1-9

What blessings are declared about refugees (exiles) in these verses? 1 Pet 1:1,2 (chosen by God for the activity of God to be revealed in their lives)

What impact might the following statements have on a refugee:
“God has chosen you and sent you out.”
“God knows your future and His Spirit is with you now, working in you and through you.”
“You are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus!”
“May God’s grace and peace be yours!”

Why does Salvation mean more to those who are suffering?

What has happened to the family inheritance of most refugees? 
What does 1 Pet 1:4 say about the inheritance received by those exiled for Christ?
What would it mean to a refugee to hear of their unending inheritance in Heaven?

What trials do refugees endure today?
How might salvation mean more to them than those who are not exiles? (1 Pet 1:5)

How is suffering improving the eternal character of a refugee? (1 Pet 1:6-7)

Why is it important to realise we are all exiles? (1 Pet 1:3)

How does a refugee state of mind benefit us all? (1 Pet 1:8-9)

What did Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) wonder about our salvation story?
“Shall we be witnesses for the Lord of grace to myriads of worlds which will be wonderstruck when they hear of the incarnate God? Shall we be surrounded by pure intelligences enquiring and searching into the mysteries of God manifest in the flesh? Will the unfallen worlds desire to be instructed in the glorious gospel of the blessed God? And will each one of us have his tale to tell of our experience of infinite love? I think so, since the Lord has saved us “to that intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church of the manifold wisdom of God” (Greatest Fight in the World, April, 1891).

What do you think it will be like, into eternity, to tell of Christ's gift of Salvation for you?


Read: 1 Peter 1:10-17

What did both the prophets and the angels want to understand? (Salvation)

How does being a refugee make a new King and new Kingdom so much more exciting?

Having God as your new King and Lord, how are you called to live until He returns? (sober minded, hope in Christ, obedient, transformed, holy)


Read 1 Peter 5:1-5

What does this type of person look like in today's world?

STORM Co – In Australia we have a movement of Seventh-day Adventist youth from many different conferences who go into various communities and show: “Service To Others Really Matters”. For a week, these young people do community service projects and run daily worship programs. STORM Co started in1992 and is a regular part of the Adventist culture in Australia. 

What does STORM Co teach our youth? 
What does it teach the children who look up to our youth? 
What does it teach the communities STORM Co serves? 
What does it teach the churches these STORM Co groups come from?

What happens to a family where service to others isn’t modelled?
What happens to a country where service to others isn’t valued?
What happens to a church where service to others isn’t organised?
What happens to a Christian who doesn’t serve others?

Is service to others the fullest revelation of Jesus' character to today's world?
Why or why not?

What character strength is required to truly serve others? 1 Pet 5:5


Conclusion

As you closing prayer, read 1 Peter 5:6-11


Friday, June 16, 2017

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 12 - 16 June 2017


Every TV show ends the season with a cliffhanger, making us wait until the next season for the resolution to some huge impending catastrophe. How is the Second Coming of Jesus similar? 

While you wait for the TV show to return, it slowly fades to the back of your mind. When the new season arrives, what do the show producers do to get you back into the story? How is our wait for the return of Jesus similar? 


Scoffer to Believer

Read 2 Peter 3:1-4

What does it mean to scoff at someone else?

How is being called a scoffer worse than being a person who scoffs? (Scoff refers to the nature of the act. Being called a scoffer refers to the nature of the person. A scoffer has made scoffing a way of life and is now defined by it.)

How do the scoffers in these verses reveal themselves? What do they say? (2 Peter 3:3,4)

What traits are evident in the personality and character of a scoffer? (following evil desires)

What is the opposite of scoff? (encourage, compliment, approve, admire, trust, praise)

What is the opposite of scoffer? (believer, optimist)

Do Christians, at times, scoff at unbelievers? How?

Is the Kingdom of God made up of scoffers or believers?

What actions can we take to ensure our temptation to scoff at others does not lead us to become scoffers? (2 Peter 3:1,2)


Wicked to Wise

Read Matthew 24:45-51

Compare/contrast the wise and wicked servant.

How were they the same? (Responsibilities - In charge of Master’s household. Waiting for Master’s return.)

How were they different? (Actions – Wise: feeding household faithfully. Wicked: Attacking household and eating/drinking elsewhere.)

What was the difference in character between the wise and wicked servant? (focus: others/self)

Do we see both wise and wicked servants in our local church today? Why?

In the parable, how did this difference develop? (Time / Delay. Wise: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wicked: Absence makes the heart go yonder. Until bit by bit they two servants become opposites.)

What can we do to ensure we fall deeper in love with Jesus as we wait?


Destruction to Salvation

Read 2 Peter 3:14-18

Why do you think Peter puts this challenge to grow in Christlike character at the end of this letter?

What encouragement do you gain from these verses?

What challenges you the most in these verses?

A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. (Maranatha, 224)

Read Hebrews 12:1-3

How can wicked scoffers be changed into wise believers and be taken from destruction to salvation? (only by fixing their eyes on Jesus)

How does looking at Jesus impact the person's character over time? (we become more like Him)

How long does this process take?


To be continued… 
(this is actually the end of this study, but your character development is never ending!)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 11 - June 10 2017

Introduction

It is said that 10,000 hours makes a master. What have you mastered in life? How has the process of mastering this craft, instrument, pursuit shaped you? (We are mastered by that which we master)


Lesson

Read: 2 Peter 2:19
What does this verse teach us about the impact your pursuits have upon you?

Read 2 Peter 2:1-22
What different communities are considered in this passage? (OT times, Early church, Heaven, Noah’s community, Lot’s community, wild animals, Balaam’s community, natural forces, sinful world, sacred community) … Why so many? Can we all find at least one to relate with? Which one speaks most clearly to you?

T/F: Those who formed the Early Church were both mastering and being mastered by the church they were forming. Support your answer.
While Creating Community (Planting a church, growing a church):
What positive personal values in individuals can be developed?
What positive organisational values can be developed?
What negative personal values can be developed?
What negative organisational values can be developed?
What makes the difference?
What steps can be taken to ensure we develop positives and squash negatives?

Read John 8:34-36
What is this verse saying to you?
Who among us has sinned? (all) So we are all slaves to what? (sin)
Who among us has been released? (all) So we are all what? (free)
Free indeed!
From what? (the obvious answer is ‘sin’ but this is due to taking this passage – far too often – out of context)


The Context
Read John 8:30-32
To whom is Jesus speaking? (Jews who believe Him – disciples!)

Read John 8:33
Who did they say they were? (Abraham’s sons)

After Jesus pushed them a bit more, who did they decide they were? John 8:41 (God’s sons)
Who did Jesus tell them their father was? John 8:44 (Satan)
Just reminding ourselves: To whom is Jesus speaking? John 8:31 (Believers – disciples)
Do you believe in Jesus? Are you a follower of Jesus?
Are you uncomfortable, yet?

What makes the difference? John 8:42 (love for Jesus)
How important is it that our church community is founded on love for Jesus and love for others?
How can we ensure ‘love for Jesus’ is the primary focus of our community?

Any time our community claims God as our Father but does not love, we become the children of Satan. While this may seem extremely harsh, it is exactly what the context of John 8 is teaching us about being ‘set free by the Son.’
If we are ‘free indeed’ – John 8:36 – what have we been set free from? (loveless entitlement, believing we are the sons of God, heirs of the Kingdom, or any other such title without first recognising our places as slaves in need of freedom. We are not natural sons – only freed slaves - but amazingly we are adopted as children of God! We best remember our 'lost' heritage and 'found' story.)
What steps can be taken to ensure we develop love and squash entitlement?
What does discipleship look like in a place set free by the Son?
What does evangelism look like in a place set free by the Son?


Conclusion

If Jesus is truly our master, we will be mastered by Him.
Personally, what might this look like today? Tomorrow? In 30 years?
As a church, what might this look like today? Tomorrow? In 30 years?


Friday, June 02, 2017

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 10 - June 3 2017

Icebreaker: Think back to the last time you spent time with a special friend. What was the situation? Why did you get together? What did you do? 

Lesson Discussion

Read the following bolded question and discuss briefly. Then read each of the three passages individually and ask some 5W & H questions (who, what, when, where, why, how) about each. Use the category (G-words) to wrap up each section before moving onto the next verse. 
Into what types of situations did Jesus take his “Inner circle” of three? 
His Grieving: Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)
His Giftedness: Jairus’ Daughter (Luke 8:49-56)
His Glory: The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6)

Grieving, Giftedness, Glory.
Which of these three situations are you most likely to take your friends? Why? 
Which of these three situations are you most likely to face alone? Why? 
Why do you think Jesus took his “inner circle” into all three settings? 
How did these three situations set them up as leaders in the Early Church?
How did these three situations set them up and disciple makers?
Do you think Peter, James and John made a conscious effort to teach and take their followers into their times of grieving, giftedness and glory? 

Read 2 Peter 1:16-20
What story is Peter referring to? 
Why is it important to Peter that his readers understand that this is not a myth but an actual occurrence?

Read 1 Peter 1:10-12
How does this passage reveal the way Jesus was involved past, present and future in revealing Himself to the people of Earth?
Where do you see grief, gifts and glory revealed in this passage? 
What does that tell you about the nature of the prophets and their message? 
What does it tell you about the messenger who gave the gospel to you? 
What does it tell you about yourself as a giver of the gospel to the next person? 
Are you the recipient of ‘cleverly contrived myths’ or something else? Is the salvation story of Jesus – past, present and future – a true occurrence? How do you know?

Read 2 Peter 1:19-21
How does this verse tie OT, NT and today together?
How does it make you feel to know the Morning Star (Jesus, Revelation 22:16) is shining in your heart?
What does it mean that the words of the prophets are ‘carried along by the Holy Spirit’? 
What does this look like in our day to day interpretation of the world?
Now that your heart is alight with Jesus’ shining nature, how are you seeing His light shining through you into the darkness of the world?

Read 2 Timothy 3:15-17
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in us? (2 Tim 3:15)
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in the church? (2 Tim 3:16)
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in the world? (2 Tim 3:17)

How to each of these settings reveal our need to share our grieving, giftedness and glory with others?

Closing Prayer: Sing Together

Into my heart
Into my heart
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus

Come in today
Come in always
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus

Out of my heart
Out of my heart
Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus

Shine out today
Shine out always
Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Christian Reconciliation – The process of ‘making things right’ before God


In the past few years,  I have been thinking, praying and studying a lot about reconciliation. And for good reason! I have received forgiveness beyond anything I deserve or can even understand. Every day for the past three and a half years I have been taken again to the foot of the cross - realising that in Jesus we have all been reconciled to the Father, our sin thrown into the deepest part of the sea.

God's gift of forgiveness has been truly opened up to each of us. This is reconciliation. And now, we have been given the work of reconciliation until Jesus returns to finalise the reconciliation of creation eternally.

Here's a brief outline of the process for participation in Godly reconciliation as demonstrated in the Bible. There is much much more that could be included.

Sinner: Confess (tell the whole truth), Repent (express sorrow for your sin), Ask forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). This is the process of reconciliation for the sinner who, having humbled himself, desires restitution of the relationship. If the sinner is not repentant, you'll need to turn to Matthew 18:15-20.

The Church: The system of response to a fallen believer is clearly laid out in scripture. Reconciliation is the primary work given to ‘anyone who is in Christ’ (2 Cor 5:16-21) and should therefore be something we are very good at as Christians. The process of reconciliation (Gal 6:1-5) is one of wariness toward sin, love toward the sinner and forgiveness as Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32).

The offended person: This is the hard part! Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us. I can’t count the number of women who have said to my wife and I that they would not be able to forgive their husbands – at least not until some dire consequences were dealt out. Rather than be seen to be speaking out of place, I offer a few texts: Eph 4:32, Heb 8:12, 2 Cor 5:18-19, 1 John 4:19-21, Ps 103:8-12.

One thing is very clear in scripture: God values reconciliation more than sacrifices and offerings. Why? Because God our Creator became our Re-creator through the ultimate act of Reconciliation on the Cross of Calvary. Every time followers of God participate in the reconciliation process it declares: The Lord He is good, His mercy endures forever.


The above assumes all parties are participating in the reconciliation process. On the cross, Jesus made forgiveness available to all. It is up to us to accept that gift. He forces forgiveness on no one. To do so would be unhealthy and ineffective. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Forgiving The Sinner - A Cultural Understanding

When the Prophet Nathan held King David to account for his actions before God (See 2 Samuel 12) he did it with a story about a father. The Prophet told the King a parable about a rich man who, to feed a visitor, took the only lamb of a poor man. The rich man had many animals but didn’t want to lessen his herd. The poor man raised the lamb inside his home. Nathan described the situation: “This lamb grew up with the man and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.” Nathan’s story focused on the relationship of the lamb to this poor family – a father and children – to show it was part of their community.

Nathan’s story pointed David to the impact of his actions on those around him rather than focusing on what his sin had done to his own character. Bathsheba was more than a sheep. She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife. She slept in someone’s arms.

In collectivist cultures, the community is the way people identify themselves. They don't even think "We before I" they just live it because this is their deeply embedded reality - their shared public, private and self-culture. The collectivist is, first, a community.

We live in an individualistic culture. We think of ourselves long before we consider others. "That's not fair!" is our cry because we are first. When someone wrongs us, we think (and even say) "I'm going to punish that person by kicking them out or kicking them to pieces. PROBABLY BOTH!" And those around us laugh because, of course, that person deserves it for hurting 'me'.

My selfish response to treatment from others is my individualistic culture coming out (As an American, the force is strong with me!). While there is much to be learned from valuing the self, God spoke His reality into a collectivist culture. He said, "I am we. I am three. I am one." This only makes sense in a collectivist culture. And it makes PERFECT sense in that context!

"Love covers over a multitude of sins" is a collectivist ministry model. This is how loving families care for the fallen: embrace the sinner tightly as they confess and heal so they know they are loved, needed and cherished; and so they don’t wander off into the stormy night of their distress where they may be swallowed eternally by their self-loathing. Forgiveness in a collectivist culture is given for the community. We need us. To lose one is to lose all. As a community, when one is lost the 99 are never the same. For we are one hundred.

Holding a leader to account, as Nathan did, is God's way of rebuilding His collectivist Kingdom. Nathan’s story showed David his actions had taken him out of the community. Realising his severed ties to the culture and practices learned in childhood (feeding the traveller, caring for the neighbour) David wept.

When a church organisation deals with a sin against the community they apply collectivist leadership strategies in hopes of reshaping that community. This is not easy to accept by individualistic individuals, especially if we do not recognise the culture clash. For the wellbeing of the community, it is necessary – and healthy – that the leader be held to account.

What happens at home and in the close community of the local church often looks very different to the reparations made by corporate leadership. This is a good thing. The fallen leader needs to be both held to account and embraced tenaciously. They need a safe place to weep, pray and heal after being shown a story greater than themselves.

To hold the tension between these two realities can be difficult unless we recognise the holistic nature of God’s Kingdom: how important the ‘whole one hundred’ and how desperately loved ‘each one’ by our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 9 - May 27 2017

This is a weird way to do this, but I'm short on time and y'all asked for it. So, here it is!

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Matthew Hunter I miss your one to two page sabbath school summaries. If you started doing them again I could put them to good use!!

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Dave Edgren Hmm. Second person to ask today! Was it the question based ones you found most useful or the more Devotional styled ones?

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Matthew Hunter Question based one as anyone could use it to lead an effective lesson study and the discussion it got going was great. It really helped to empower our Sabbath school classes to involve more people.

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Dave Edgren I'll see what I can do.

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Dave Edgren It won't be tonight. Lol

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Dave Edgren The Model I use is easy enough to follow to make your own questions. 
Head: Belief/doctrine based questions
Heart: Emotion/passion based questions
...See more

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Dave Edgren Always open ended. (not yes/no)

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Matthew Hunter But you are the zen master, we need more time learning at your feet!

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Dave Edgren Try to have questions with no right/wrong answers. Just open.

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Dave Edgren OK. Let's do four questions for tomorrow...

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Dave Edgren HEAD: Hope SS guide is good this week. Their opening question is a great Head question. 
2 Peter 1:1–4
What do you think Peter would have chosen as his most precious promise from God and why? (have a list of bible promises incase people dont have any)

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Dave Edgren HEART: (also from HopeSS) What promise from God’s Word has become particularly precious
to you on your Christian journey?

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Dave Edgren HANDS: Read the list presented in 2 Peter 1:5-7 
What's being listed here? What do each of these look like in action? How have you seen these things bless the church? The world?

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Dave Edgren Another HEART: Why is Love the punchline? Why is it the overarching reality of God's presence in the life of a believer? 
HANDS: What does God's love look like in action?

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Matthew Hunter This is great Dave, I'm loving the impromptu workshop on creating a simple one sheet sabbath school lesson.

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Dave Edgren HORIZON: Laying aside the tent?!?! What's that gonna be like? (2 Peter 1:14)... Can we live like it's laid aside already? Why? Why not? How? (Let's get to it!)

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Dave Edgren So, I would focus on those 14 verses.

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Dave Edgren Read the whole thing.

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Dave Edgren Then ask for "What stands out to you?" "What's the big idea?" Ask them to rephrase that big Idea as a question. Discuss the questions.

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Dave Edgren That can be a whole SS lesson on it's own if enough people put in

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Matthew Hunter Well I've been thoroughly blessed. Learning where to look for good helps (i.e. Hope SS) is awesome too. You have lots to offer my friend, appreciate it!

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Dave Edgren With the right group the :!?... model can fill an hour
: The Passage
! BIG Idea from each person
? Each person rephrases big idea as question (Write them on the board!)
. . . Three answers for each question (from the group)

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Dave Edgren That's all I have for you on this fine evening. It is now time to read a bit of theology before falling into a blissful sleep 

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