Saturday, March 22, 2014

Harmony Day

On Friday, the 21st of March, I was on my way to Aquinas College in Ringwood to tell stories at their Harmony Day festival when the most amazing thing happened. I was riding my motorcycle through the Mullum Mullum Tunnel when the tunnel came to life.

Do you ever sing in the shower? (You know you do!) Have you ever hit a particular note that caused something in the room (usually the walls, because there are so many tiles) to vibrate? If you have ever discovered the resonance frequency of a bathroom, you heard the pitch you we singing double, triple or even quadruple in volume as the room joined you in song. Everything has a natural frequency. Everything.

While travelling in the eastbound tunnel, the combination of vehicles joined together in a rumbling tone that, remarkably, matched the natural frequency of the tunnel. I say this because, wearing an open face helmet, I was there when it happened. The tunnel came to life and began to sing with the collective resonance of the engines around me. It was so loud I have nothing with which to compare it.

It was like being a flea inside the tailpipe of a Harley as the throttle opens.
It was like being a bird inside the largest flute of a massive pipe organ as its foot-petal is pressed.
It was like being a remora clinging to a whale as he breaks into courtship song.
It was, in a word, wonderful!

This blissful resonance frequency created by the collective vehicles in the tunnel, quickly formed itself into the perfect introduction to my story-set for Harmony Day. What is harmony if not the result of multiple things becoming one and achieving heights unreachable before their unity in diversity?

What worth does a tunnel coming to life, singing its guts out, have – if not told as story? Experience only becomes truly meaningful when it is formed into story. It’s meaning becomes full when attached to my story, shared into your story and owned as our story.

And so, I asked the year 10 kids, to imagine if the people of Ringwood said, “What is it about Aquinas College? When that school shows up, things are different – wonderful even. It’s not that they send us one or two students as exceptional examples but that they, as a school, make our community sing.”

Then I told them some stories that, I hope, gave them hooks to hang harmony on.
Story: Jimmy and the Black Dot
Activity: I See an Angel (Video)
Story: Brave Kwame 
Activity: Indoor Rain (Video)

I finished by explaining to the students that at Cultural Infusion we have Harmony Day every day. We empower Australian artists from cultures all around the world to come together in schools and resonate. And as those artists do their thing, one after the other, the students experience the diversity and beauty of the many World cultures represented in Australia. The sum total of the dance, the drums, the singing, the didgeridoo – all the stories told in so many ways – causes Australia to start to sing. It’s like a Harley, a pipe organ, a whale – like a tunnel filled with everything it needs to make a new, beautiful song. And that new song can only begin when we all sing, dance, play and perform in our own unique way.

May you go into the world and be your true self.
May you celebrate the diversity around you.
May you join in the song; and may it be ever so loud.

May you enjoy Harmony Day, every day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

28 Stories - Study 28: Tomorrow's Promise

Fundamental: Death and Resurrection

Bible Story  

“Well,” Moses said, “This is it. God has told me to look at the Promised Land from atop this mountain peak. I have seen it.”
Joshua’s eyebrows furrowed. “What you are hinting at?”
“Hinting?” Moses said. “It’s not a hint. I will obey God. He said to come to this place and look across to the Promised Land. He said this is as close to it as I will get.”
“But, you can barely see anything from here,” Joshua argued. “All I can make out is the outline of walls of a city in the distance.”
“Jericho,” Moses said. “And beyond the Jordan Valley with Jericho, I can see as far as Zoar. I can see from Gilead as far as Dan, and all the land of Naphtali.”
Joshua interrupted, “You can see all that?”
Moses nodded in silence.
Moses laughed. “Wait, I’m not done. My old eyes can see the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev, and more!”
“How?” Joshua asked again. “I mean, I know you’ve got great eyes for someone 120 years old, but what you are describing is impossible for human eyes!”
“I am a seer, Joshua. God shows me what he wants me to see,” Moses said. “Up until now, God has shown me things I will experience with His people. But this time...” Moses’ voice faded away.
Joshua had been suspicious of this journey to the mountain top. Over the past few days Moses had been blessing people left, right and center. He had blessed the people of Israel finishing with:  “How blessed you are, O Israel! Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your protecting shield and your triumphant sword! Your enemies will cringe before you, and you will stomp on their backs!”
The people had cheered at the finish. How could you do anything else? God was truly going to bless His people.
Then, in front of all Israel, Moses laid his hands on Joshua and ordained him as the new leader of God’s People. He blessed Joshua and handed leadership into his hands. Again the people cheered. It seems they had been expecting it as much as Joshua had been fearing it.
“This time,” Moses continued, “I have seen a vision of the future of God’s people without me. They are your people now, Joshua.”
“What are you saying?” Joshua asked, confused.
“You are going back down the mountain to the people, as their leader,” Moses explained. “I will head down the other side of the mountain into the valley of Beth-peor where I will die.”
Joshua stared at his mentor and friend. The words would not come. Finally he managed a squeak, “Die?”
“Yes,” Moses said, matter-of-factly, “God has made it very clear to me that I will not enter the Promised Land. That’s why He sent me up here to look into and throughout the land.”
Joshua folded his arms across his broad chest, “But, forty years ago you sent 12 spies into this very land,” Joshua waved one arm at the land beyond the Jordan. “Are you saying that God would have stopped you at that time?”
“Much has happened since that fateful day,” Moses said. “I have failed many times and I have learned many things.”
“As have we all,” Joshua retorted. He was getting angry. “What’s wrong with God? Why is He so mad at you that He is withholding the land which He promised?”
“It is right that it happens this way, Joshua.”
“How?” Joshua was pacing the mountaintop. “How could it possibly be right that you lead us through that despicable dessert and then, at the doorway of the Promised Land, you are denied entry? How is that right?”
Moses reached out and caught Joshua as he stomped past. He turned the younger man to face him and gripped both shoulders. “Because God has said it, Joshua!” Tears came to the old man’s eyes. “If there is anything you can learn from me, it is this: God alone is God and He is always right. Accept that and all will go well with you.”
Joshua studied the face of the man who had been his spiritual father for four decades. In that face he read so much. There was pain. There was trust. And, most evident of all, there was the presence of God.
“I wish to be as humble as you,” Joshua whispered. “How is it that you can be so at peace with God’s will when it is directed against you?”
“I choose to believe God has something better in mind for me,” Moses said.
“Better than the Promised Land?” Joshua explored Moses’ face.
“Yes,” Moses said. “Better than anything this dying world can offer an old man like me.”
“Have you been shown this?” Joshua leaned in, excited.
Moses shook his head from side to side, “No, not this time. The last thing I saw with a seer’s eyes was the land which you will now enter. But, I believe that God has a land awaiting us all where sin, sorrow and death are no longer at work.”
“A place like Eden?” Joshua asked, recalling the stories of their ancestors. “A place where the lamb nestles into the chest of the lion for a mid-day nap?”
Moses’ eyes filled with tears of joy, “Yes, my boy! A place where one’s lifetime makes my 120 years like a mere blink of an eye.”
“And this place comes after death?” Joshua asked.
Moses nodded and then gestured to the river. “Lead God’s people into the Promised land.” Then after a pause, he added, “I’ll see you on the other side.”
Joshua smiled at the thought.
The two men embraced and then walked down different sides of the same mountain.

My Reflection

Imagine being Moses and seeing the Promised Land but knowing that you would not be allowed to enter it. How would you feel? Could you be as humble as Moses?

Imagine being Joshua. What would it be like to lead people into the unknown after following a leader as great as Moses?

My Story

Have you ever spent time with someone as they neared the end of their life? What emotions did you go through during that time? What impact did their view of the afterlife have on them and on you? (If you have not had someone close to you die, try to imagine what it would be like).

Have you ever known someone who has a humble passionate faith in the goodness and righteousness of God? What was that person like? What impact did that person have on others?

How does the hope of life beyond the grave help you in your daily life?

My Assurance

Death is one of the unnerving certainties of life. What hope and comfort to these verses give you?

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 ~ The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ~ But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.

My Commitment

Ultimate trust should only be invested in someone who can always come through. Because Jesus has power over death, we can trust Him! What do these verses challenge you to consider?

Psalm 146:3-4 ~ Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ~ And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

John 5:28-29 ~ Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

My Outlook

It is hard to imagine a life beyond or without death. How do these verses help you to see God, life and your own future differently?

1 Timothy 6:15-16 ~ For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

Colossians 3:4 ~ And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

1 Corinthians 15:54 ~ Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

My Response

The following statement is the 26th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Death and Resurrection

The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.

Bible Story

The Stories of Moses’ death and Joshua’s empowerment are found in Deuteronomy 32-34 and Joshua 1.

Further Reading

John 11:11-14, Revelation 20:1-10

Friday, March 14, 2014

28 Stories - Study 27: Pillars of Presence

Fundamental: God the Holy Spirit

Bible Story 

Moses stood next to Joshua, looking into the Promised Land from their mountain-top vantage point. They had been through a lot together in the past 40 years. Now it was time to hand the leadership of this people -— God’s people -— to the man who God had chosen to lead them into their next phase of reality.
“Why can’t you come with us,” Joshua said, trying to understand the reason Moses had been given from the Lord.
“I’ve already told you, Joshua.” Moses turned and placed his age-spotted hands on the younger man’s shoulders. “I have run the race set before me. God has called you to lead the people into the land of promise. My steps end on this mountain.”
“How will I do it,” Joshua paused to regain his composure, “without you?”
Moses’ face smiled with wisdom, “God is always with us, Joshua, always has been, always will be.”
“You have always been with us,” Joshua said. “God speaks to you. All that we have done, all that we have become is because of your conversations with God. Without you...” a look of terror filled his eyes, “without you, we have no one to tell us God’s words!”
“I am not the only mouthpiece for the Lord!” Moses said. “I am barely worthy of such an honor. Another will be chosen, just as you have been chosen to lead.”
“How am I to lead?” Joshua asked. “How will I know which way to go, when to attack and when to run?”
“God will go with you,” Moses answered. “You have seen Him lead us through this barren desert. The Lord went ahead of us. He guided us during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed us to travel by day or by night. He will remain with the people when I am gone!”
“I remember the first time we saw the pillar of God’s presence,” Joshua said smiling at the memory.
“What is it that you remember?” Moses prodded.
“We were trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching armies of Egypt.”
“That seems like a lifetime ago,” Moses interjected.
“Yes,” Joshua continued, “and then a massive cloud appeared and blocked the view. We couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see us.”
“And then God opened the waters,” Moses closed his eyes visualizing the story he had told a thousand times to the children who were born afterward.
Joshua continued, “The cloud became fire on our side, providing light and cloud on the Egyptian side blocking their view of us. As the cloud moved along behind us, revealing the path we had taken, Pharaoh’s men rushed madly into the open sea corridor.”
Moses couldn’t help interrupting, “But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion.”
“That’s right,” Joshua said, rubbing his hands together. “Their axles bent, wheels came off, horses went crazy. And then the water closed over them.”
Silence overtook the two men as, lost in the memory of God’s leading in the past, they peered across the Jordan into the land God promised as their future.
“That same God,” Moses said seriously, “will be your guard and your guide in the new land. Just as he came to speak to me in the Sanctuary, so he will come to speak to you.”
“I am unworthy,” Joshua said.
“None are worthy but God himself,” Moses said.
“I remember the cloud hovering at the door of the sanctuary as God spoke to you,” Joshua said.
“So many conversations,” Moses remembered. “So much joy.”
“Your face would glow for days after each encounter!” Joshua said. “It was as if God lived within you.”
“I believe He does,” Moses said. “And within you. It is God’s desire to have His Spirit live within each of us. Just as the cloud of His presence would hover above the Sanctuary  -— as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night -— so God’s Holy Spirit wishes to hover above and within each of us.”
Joshua considered this thought for sometime before responding. “If that were the case, then we would know when to move and when to stand still.”
“How so?” Moses asked.
“The pillar that hovered above the Sanctuary in the heart of our camp stayed put when we were to stay in one place and it moved away from the Sanctuary when we were to follow it.”
“Keep going,” Moses invited.
“Well,” Joshua was getting excited, “If God’s Spirit lives within our heart, then we should be able to feel when it moves. If we are required to stay still, we should feel a sense of wellbeing in our resting. And if we are to move, we should do so because we feel the Spirit moving, thus tugging us along after it!”
“Sounds like you’ve got a plan,” Moses said. “Just make sure your relationship with God stays strong.”
“Do you think we could loose the connection?” Joshua wondered aloud.
“God has chosen us,” Moses said. “But He also allows us the freedom to choose Him.”
“Will the pillars of God’s presence always guide us, as they have these past forty years?” Joshua asked.
“I don’t know,” Moses said. “But what I do know is that God will always be with His people and He will always send His Spirit to lead them into His will.”
The silence returned and lingered as the two men peered longingly into the Promised Land, both lost in their pondering of God’s leading -— past, present and future.

My Reflection

What do you think Moses would have been thinking as he stared into the Promised Land?

What about Joshua, what might he have been thinking?

Imagine being God. Do you think the transitions from one leader to the next are difficult for God? Do you think He grows attached? Does He get excited about the relationship with the new leader? What might that be like?

My Story

Would you like a pillar of fire or cloud to lead you? Can you imagine a time when it would be a blessing? What about a time when it would be frustrating?

Have you had a time when you felt God leading in your life  — a time when the pillar of presence moved or stayed you —  and you followed that leading? Tell that story.

My Assurance

God has been present and leading His people since the beginning of time in the form of the Holy Spirit. How do these verses give you assurance that the same God who lead Moses through the desert will lead you in your life?

Genesis 1:1-2 ~ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

2 Peter 1:20-21 ~ Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

John 14:16-18 ~ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

John 14:26 ~ But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

My Commitment

When Jesus declared His mission on Earth he was very specific. Before returning to Heaven, he handed that mission on to His followers. What is that mission? How are we to fulfill it? By what power?

Luke 4:14-21 ~ Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Acts 1:8 ~ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

My Outlook

The same Holy Spirit which was present and active at Jesus’ birth and baptism is now active in our lives. What do these verses tell us about the impact the Holy Spirit should have on this world through us? What effect would a people “like Jesus” filled with the Holy Spirit have on planet Earth?

Luke 1:35 ~ The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Acts 10:38 ~ And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ~ So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

John 16:7-9, 13 ~ It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. ... “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

My Response

The following statement is the 5th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

God the Holy Spirit

God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.

Bible Story

The story of the Holy Spirit in the form of a pillar of cloud and fire is found in Exodus 13 and 14, Numbers 9, 12 and 14, Deuteronomy 1 and 31.

Further Reading

John 15:26-27

Friday, March 07, 2014

28 Stories - Study 26: 40 Years in the Desert

Fundamental: The Millennium and the End of Sin

Bible Story   

As Moses made his way back up the mountain, he rehearsed what he would say to God, “The people make me so angry! I didn’t mean to break the stone tablets you gave me. I am so sorry. Please forgive me!”
When he finally arrived at the place where they had met last time, he waited, hoping he was still acceptable to God.
Finally, a quiet voice came from all around Moses, “Welcome back.” It really sounded like the rock, the air, the sky and the ground were each responsible for the voice. It came from everywhere. It seemed as if even his own body was generating the sound. “You broke my law, Moses.”
“Yes, Lord. I am so-”
“I’ve heard it already,” God interrupted. “You’ve been apologising over and over the entire time you’ve been climbing the mountain!”
“You were listening?”
A deep rumble caused a few pebbles to vibrate off of a ledge above Moses. “Yes,” God was laughing. “Yes, of course I was listening! It is impossible for me not to hear the cries of my people—whether they come from the heart or the tongue. I hear everything! I am the Creator, after all.”
There was a long pause before Moses spoke. “They just make me so angry! Why did they make that calf? They knew I would come back from visiting you! Why would they worship a golden image from Egypt? What did Egypt ever do for them? Don’t they remember being slaves?”
“You have many questions, my child,” God said. “Know this, you are not alone in your anger. Their actions anger me, often. Even I, at times, need reminding of my own grace!”
Moses knew exactly what God was talking about, “Well, you did threaten to destroy every last one of them! I had to say something! I couldn’t believe that you would rescue us all from slavery and then, in a moment of explosive anger, obliterate us!”
“So you said,” God responded. “And I listened.”
“Were you really going to destroy them?”
“What do you think?”
“You promised to take us to a beautiful land,” Moses was thinking out loud, “and if you destroyed us, you would have broken your promise—or at least been unable to fulfill it.”
“It would seem you have answered your own question,” God replied, “and quieted your own doubting heart. Now, You need to chisel a couple of new tablets out of the rock wall next to you.”
“But,” Moses said, “Last time you-”
“Yes, but you broke those tablets,” God reminded. “We often value that which we create with our own hands and by the sweat of our own brow. So, this time, you will make them!”
Moses nodded his head in agreement. He turned to the wall and began working. As he chiseled away, he continued talking to God. “How can they be so forgetful?”
“How can the Israelites forget so easily?” Moses clarified. “You parted the waters of the Red Sea as Egypt’s armies were baring down on us. We ran headlong into that impossible corridor of wet-walled dry-grounded sea-that-was-no-more and out the other side!” A chip of stone flew over Moses’ head as he took his anger out on the cliff side. “How can they forget and go back to the useless God’s of their captors?”
“The Egyptian gods were all they knew,” God said. “Well, all they had been told of, anyway. I was with them through every brick, every whip and every generation.”
“What about the Manna? They even complained about food falling from the sky—in the desert, free food! Delicious food.”
Moses gently took one stone slab and set it on a large rock. “That’s one done,” he said and returned to the wall to claim another tablet from its stony flesh.
“Meat! They wanted meat.” Moses laughed. “That was hilarious. They asked for meat and when you gave it to them—or failed to stop giving it to them, to be more precise—They didn’t know what to do. They were knee high in quail until even the thought of meat made them sick!”
“You have a good memory,” God said.
“Lot’s of good memories,” Moses answered. “Great memories, because you were there with me. When they feel unsure or alone, why can’t the people look back and remember all you have done?” Moses worked in silence for a while and then turned, another tablet in his hands.
As he placed it on the rock next to the first one, God spoke, “The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”
Moses threw himself to the ground and worshiped. At hearing God declare his name and purpose, worship was the only response imaginable. As he worshiped, Moses prayed, “Oh Lord, if I have found favor with you, please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.”
 God replied, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you. I will perform miracles never performed anywhere on earth. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord—the awesome power I will display. But listen carefully to everything I command you today. Then I will go ahead of you and drive out every person who fails to believe in Me—the one true God.”
Then God wrote the terms of the covenant between Him and his people—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets Moses had prepared.

My Reflection

Why do you think it was so easy for the Israelites to forget the miracles that God had done for them?

How do you think Moses felt when he got so angry he broke the first tablets? Do you think that situation helped him understand God better? How?

If you were Moses on that mountaintop, and you could tell God anything or ask Him any question, what would you have said?

My Story

When we get to Heaven, God is going to let us explore the record books. We will be able to ask any question, explore any topic or person’s life we wish. Can you think of any time in your life that you would like to understand better? Is there a time when you wondered what God was doing?

God has done things that we do not understand and failed to do things we are sure he should have done. During the millennium (1,000 years in Heaven) we are going to be able to explore God’s actions and intentions. What situation from before you were born (as far back as you want to go) would you like to understand better and know how God was involved?

Moses discovered that, although he had experienced God’s tremendous anger, God was merciful and just. Do you think we will discover the same thing during our 1,000-year research project? Why do you think God gives us 1,000 years for this task?

My Assurance

The spiritual world, unseen to us right now, will go through extreme changes after Jesus’ second coming. What do these verses tell you about the changes that will take place during the millennium?

Revelation 20:1-3 ~ Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished.

Malachi 4:1 ~ The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.

My Commitment

Just as God has given us a part to play in sharing the Gospel with the world, we will also have responsibilities after His return. What do these verses tell you about our involvement during the 1000 years in heaven? How do they challenge you today?

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 ~ Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

Ezekiel 28:18-19 ~ You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.

My Outlook

During the thousand years while God’s people are in Heaven, this world will be a desolate heap of rubble. Then it will be made new. What do these verses tell you about the way the earth will look and feel during and after the millennium?

Jeremiah 4:23-26 ~ I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light. I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook. I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.

Revelation 21:1-5 ~ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

My Response

The following statement is the 27th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Millennium and the End of Sin

The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.

Bible Story

The story of Moses spending 40 days with God and receiving the second set of stone tablets is found in Exodus 34. The rest of the stories referred to are from various places in Exodus.

Further Reading

Revelation 20. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

28 Stories - Study 25: Promised Land

Fundamental: The New Earth

Bible Story 

Joshua and Caleb headed to the rendezvous point at the edge of the Jordan River. They walked at a fast pace, talking as they went.
“I can’t believe we were both selected!” Joshua said.
“I know,” Caleb answered, “all of our hint dropping must have worked!” Both young men laughed.
They had been chosen to represent their tribe on a special mission. The people of Israel were just a stone’s throw away from Canaan and the elders had decided to send a party of fit men to spy out the land. Each of Israel’s 12 tribes provided one man for the mission.
“It’s going to be so much fun!” Caleb continued.
“Yeah,” Joshua replied, “but it will be dangerous, too. We are going to need to be very careful.”
“To be honest,” Caleb’s voice quieted to a whisper as they walked through the rows of tents, “I don’t really understand why this mission is happening.”
Joshua glanced over at his friend to see if he was serious. “Because the elders want to know the strengths and weaknesses of the land before we go in. It’s a smart military move. Know your enemy!” Joshua answered, studying the face of his friend, intrigued. “You don’t want to take our wives and children across the river if there’s a huge army just inside the walls of Jericho, do you?”
“Well,” Caleb chose his words carefully, “God led us here from Egypt. And Moses keeps calling the land across the Jordan “the promised land” because God has promised to give it to us. Why are we questioning what God has promised?”
Joshua stopped walking. Caleb slowed to a stand still and then turned to face his friend. The look on Joshua’s face was a combination of respect and wonder. “You are amazing, Caleb,” Joshua said. “Your faith is unlike anyone I have ever met. And, I think you make a very good point! Do you think we should talk to the elders and ask them to reconsider the mission?”
“No,” Caleb shook his head seriously, “They are God’s chosen leaders and this mission is where their prayers and planning have led them. Let’s go on the mission with the intention of finding every blessing the land has to offer. Let the other 10 worry about the power of the enemy. We’ll focus on the promise and power of God!”
“Genius!” Joshua laughed and playfully punched Caleb in the shoulder. “You’ve got a sanctified devious streak, my friend. That will make the entire mission great fun! God is good!”
“All the time!” Caleb continued the familiar phrase loved by the children and then added, “All the time!”
“God is good!” Joshua finished.

40 years later

Joshua and Caleb stood together on the shore of the Jordan River peering across to Promised Land. The silence deepened as they both remembered the unfortunate result all those years ago.
They had spied out the land. They had brought back a glowing report. They carried back samples of the land’s bounty to win the hearts of the people of Israel. But, the other 10 spies had nothing good to say about Canaan. The Giants were too big. The walls were too strong. The land God had promised was a horrible land, they said.
And God had become enraged. He threatened to destroy every last one of the Israelites. It was only the brave heart and words of Moses that saved them. He reminded God of how much He loved the people he had called out of Egypt. He had set them free not because they were worthy but because He was gracious. God listened to Moses. And forgave the people.
But they didn’t go into the Promised Land. God let them wander throughout the desert on the wrong side of Jordan for 40 more years. He allowed Israel time to recognise their mistake.
God’s promise to give His people the land “flowing with milk and honey” still stood. And now, all these years later, they had returned to the Jordan River, this time fully intending on taking the land promised to them.
They were not the same people they had been 40 years before. As a nation, they were older and wiser. And a new crop of young families now lived among them that did not remember Egypt -— they only knew what they heard in the stories told by parents and grandparents. All, old and young alike, were tired of the desert and ready to accept God’s promise.
“It seems like a lifetime ago,” Joshua said peering across the river.
“Yes,” Caleb replied. “But I’m still excited about it! It really is a glorious land.”
“True,” Joshua said. “Do you realise, of the twelve who spied out the land, we are the only two who will enter it?”
“Oh my,” Caleb said, “Have they all died? All ten of them?”
Joshua nodded his head, “Living with such bitterness and negativity clearly shortens one’s lifespan.”
Caleb gave a little laugh in response. “Indeed. And a complainer’s life is not much of a life, anyway.”
Joshua nodded. “I’m not sorry for them. They were nothing but trouble since that trip into Canaan. But I am sorry for Moses. He would have crossed over with us.”
Caleb placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder, “He is at peace now. No more leadership stresses for him. They are all yours now!”
“Oh thanks,” Joshua said, turning to look at Caleb. “And just like always, you will be my right-hand man!”
“Lead on, fearless leader!” Caleb said with a smile. “Take us into the promised land!”

My Reflection

Imagine the different emotions that would have gone through the minds of people as they re-approached the Jordan River — 40 years after their first visit. Consider what thoughts and emotions would have been going through the mind of:

Moses (standing on a high mountain looking into the promised land, realising this is as close as he will ever get):

Joshua (the new leader after Moses):

Caleb (having stood beside Joshua since they were children):

The people of Israel (knowing they had rejected God’s leading last time they reached this place):
My Story
Consider the response of your heart when you consider this statement: “Jesus is coming soon to take us to Heaven. This earth will be changed. Our lives will never be the same again.”

How would you encourage someone (maybe yourself?) who says, “There is so much I still want to do before Jesus comes”?

It is easy to think, “What was wrong with those Israelites? They were in a barren desert and thought the Promised Land wasn’t worth the effort!” How are we like them in our thoughts about the land God has promised us?

My Assurance

The eternal Kingdom God has planned for his people is similar and yet different to the world in which we now live. How do the following verses give you confidence in God’s plan and purpose?

2 Peter 3:13 ~ But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

Revelation 22:4-5 ~ No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 11:15 ~ Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”

My Commitment

There are very few verses which tell us what we “must” do once we are in the new Earth. What do you notice in these verses about the actions that we are called to participate in? How would it impact others if we did them now?

Isaiah 65:17-18 ~ “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.

Matthew 5:5 ~ God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

Isaiah 35:4 ~ Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

My Outlook

If you could imagine a perfect world, what would it look like? How do the following verses reveal the future existence God has planned for His people?

Revelation 21:1-5 ~ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

Isaiah 35:8-10 ~ And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. . . . Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

My Response

The following statement is the 28th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The New Earth

On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen.

Bible Story

The Bible story of the 12 spies going into Canaan is in Numbers 13 and 14.

Further Reading

 Isaiah 35, Isaiah 65:17-25, Revelation 21 and 22.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Story of Wyang Kancil

Adapted into English for kindergarten children by David Edgren
This is one of the many stories told by Indonesian Shadow Puppeteers when performing to children. I rewrote this story for Kindergarten teachers who are hosting Sumardi and Gamelan in the next few months. 

Little Kancil: Lesser Mouse deer – A mouse-deer is a small deer-like creature that lives mostly in Asia. The Lesser Mouse Deer is the smallest of the species and adults grow only to 45cm tall and weighs 2kg. They eat plants. In this story Little Kancil’s smallness is characterised by cunning and naughtiness.
The Farmer: Farmers plant and protect their crops. This farmer has a healthy crop of cucumbers, until our cheeky antagonist comes along to nibble them in the night. The farmer comes up with an ingenious way of catching the small but wily thief.
 The Farm Dog: Every good farmer needs a great farm dog. 

The Story:
One day as Little Kancil explores the land near a village he discovered a field full of his favourite food – cucumbers! He looks to the left and the right and sees cucumbers as far as his little eyes can see. In the middle of the field, Little Kancil sees the farmer working hard – caring for his cucumbers. Not wanting to get caught, Little Kancil creeps back into the forest and plans to come back in the darkness of night.
That night, after sunset, Little Kancil quietly tip-toes into the far corner of the cucumber field and eats until he can’t eat any more. His little tummy is the fattest little mouse-deer tummy you’ve ever seen. Satisfied, he wanders back into the forest.
The next morning, the farmer comes to look after his cucumbers and is upset to find one corner of the field is destroyed. Studying the ground, the farmer sees tiny hoof-prints and knows exactly who ate his cucumbers.
That afternoon, Little Kancil is hungry again. He remembers the field of cucumbers with such happiness and bounds out of the forest and into the delicious field. In his excitement, he forgets to look left and right and suddenly realises he is being watched. There standing not a meter away is the farmer! Little Kancil jumps backward in fear and bounds toward the forest. Looking over his shoulder, he realises the farmer is not chasing him. Little Kancil stops and turns around to look at the man who is still standing in the same place and the same pose as before.
Little Kancil realises the farmer is not real! It is just the farmers clothes, somehow propped up in the middle of the field. Bravely, Little Kancil tests the fake farmer and approaches carefully. He gets close enough to see the straw poking out of the farmer’s clothes and knows he was tricked. This is not the farmer but just a silly scarecrow. In his new found bravery, little Kancil kicks the scarecrow.
His leg sticks fast to the scarecrow. Little Kancil tries to pull his leg back but it is stuck. The farmer knew that a deer-mouse was a cunning and brave little creature and would not be scared away by a scarecrow. So, the farmer covered the scarecrow’s pants with glue. The trap worked and Little Kancil was stuck with no hope of escape.
The farmer sees the scarecrow jiggling in the field and knows he has caught the little cucumber thief. When he gets to the scarecrow, the farmer wraps his big hands around Little Kancil and pulls him free from the scarecrow. Then, the farmer puts Little Kancil into a cage for the night.
In the dark of night, Little Kancil is startled by a big farm dog who comes to visit the cage. The big dog looks at Little Kancil and begins to laugh. He says, “You thought you were so smart! Eating cucumbers in the farmer’s field! Look at you now! Tomorrow my master is going to have deer-mouse stew for lunch!”
The dog expects his words to upset the deer-mouse and is frustrated when nothing he says seems to work. Little Kancil just shakes his head and says, “You are wrong.”
“Wrong?” the dog laughs. “We will see about that!” But, in time the relaxed nature of the little deer-mouse really starts to bother the dog. Finally, the dog asks, “Ok, why? Why don’t you believe the farmer will eat you?”
“Because,” the deer-mouse says with a sigh, “I am going to become a prince. Don’t you know what this cage does? It turns you into a prince overnight! Tomorrow I will be a prince and I will marry the farmer’s daughter! Now, go away and let me get some sleep.”
The dog is not happy about this new information. “How do you know this?” he asks the little deer-mouse.
“Everyone knows,” Little Kancil says, “that a farmer’s cage makes you into a prince overnight! All this time, you’ve been the farmer’s faithful helper and he’s never let you sleep in the cage. He doesn’t want you to become a prince! He wants you to be his hard working farm dog! But a cute little deer-mouse, well, that’s a perfect prince to be!” Little Kancil turns around three times and lays down to go to sleep.
The dog thinks about the cage late into the night. Finally, he lifts the latch with his nose, opens the door and wakes Little Kancil. When the little deer-mouse sees the huge dog’s teeth so close to him he jumps in fright and runs for his life! Out of the cage and into the night.
The dog laughs at the deer-mouse’s misfortune, curls up inside the cage and pulls the door closed with his paw. Tomorrow he will be a prince.
In the morning, when the farmer comes to the cage, he is confused to find his dog trapped in the cage and no deer-mouse. His dog’s tail wags expectantly. The farmer shakes his head with wonder at the way life always seems to surprise him, and let’s his dog out of the cage.

Friday, February 21, 2014

28 Stories - Study 24: 300 Men and God's Help

Fundamental: The Remnant and its Mission

Bible Story  

Gideon and his 32,000 men moved toward the enemy. Although greatly outnumbered, they knew God was with them.
“If God is for us, who can stand against us?” the men said to each other. As they marched toward the inevitable battle, encouraging comments moved from one soldier to the next. God was surely with them. He called Gideon. He formed them into an army. And He would help them defeat their enemy.
What happened the next morning came as a huge surprise to the men of Israel. Gideon came out of his tent looking ashen faced and bewildered. He called the men to assemble. When they had done so, he shouted, “God spoke to me last night.”
Murmurs rippled through the crowd. Every time God spoke to Gideon, something big happened. What would it be this time?
“God told me...” Gideon chewed his lip for a long moment scanning the masses of men. “Well, God told me our army is too big.”
A few men laughed. It couldn’t be true. God wouldn’t say such a ridiculous thing. There were 10 times as many well-armed men in the Midianite army. 32,000 was a big number, but not when compared to the sand on the seashore—and that’s what it looked like when you saw the camels of the Midianite forces.
Gideon continued, “I argued with Him. We are outnumbered as it is!” Men nodded and murmured their agreement. “But God assured me, there are too many men in this army—His army. He said this battle would be won by the Lord’s power not the power of men. If we have too many men, we will claim success for ourselves—as if we had won the battle by our own strength.”
Gideon paused, willing himself to say what God required, “So, God wants all the men who are afraid for any reason to go home.”
In the hearts of many of the men, where yesterday there had been only bravado and cheer, now a wave of panic pounded from inside their chests and butterflies were loosed in their bellies. A sudden cacophony filled the camp as 22,000 men dropped their swords and shields and fled for home. Only 10,000 men remained.
Gideon shook his head sadly and looked up at the sky. Is this what God had expected? Only one third of the army remained. Surely God knew the beginning from the end but this made no sense. What kind of army sent perfectly healthy men home?
Gideon consulted God and was dumbfounded when God repeated His message from the night before, “You still have too many men.” Then God devised a test—a way to reduce the army that would show it had nothing to do with the strength of the men.
They walked to a stream and as they crossed, God told Gideon to separate them into two groups—those who drank using their hand as a scoop and those who knelt to drink. Gideon watched as every man drank. When the two groups were finalised, God told Gideon, “Keep the ones who drank out of their hands.”
To Gideon’s dismay, only 300 men had used their hands to drink. The other 9,700 were sent home. All that remained was a ragtag band of 300 men. But it was as God had commanded.
That night, camped just over the mountain from the enemy, Gideon tossed and turned in his sleep. It made no sense. Surely God needed some help! He couldn’t win the battle without at least a small army. But 300 men was nothing. Fitfully, Gideon woke every few minutes to find that it was not a bad dream—this was reality. He was about to face an army of hundreds of thousands with just 300 men.
In the middle of the night, God spoke to Gideon yet again, “Are you scared, Gideon?”
“More scared than I have ever been!” Gideon cried.
“If you truly are afraid,” God said, “Take your servant Purah and sneak over the mountain into the camp of Midian. Listen to the first voices you hear. You will be given courage!”
Gideon reached over and shook his servant. Purah sat up quickly and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Yes, master?”
“Come with me,” Gideon said. “God has told me to sneak into the enemy camp.”
When they reached the camp of Midian, they heard a man wake with a scream. Another man in the same tent asked, “What is it? You nearly scared me to death!”
“I just dreamed that a huge loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and flattened all of our tents!”
The second man, in a moment of inspiration, answered, “Surely the army of Gideon will sweep in and destroy every last one of us!”
Gideon punched Purah in the shoulder with joy. When they arrived back at their camp Gideon shouted, “Get up! Tonight God has given us victory over the Midianite hordes!”
He gave each man a trumpet and a torch with a jug over it, so it’s light could be seen only at the feet of the man carrying it.
“Do we need our swords?” one of the men asked.
“Yes,” Gideon laughed, “You best bring those too.”
Gideon divided the army into three groups of 100 men. “Each group will go to a different part of the mountain surrounding the Midianite camp,” Gideon said. “And when you see me and my 100 break our jars and hear us blow our trumpets, you do the same. Now move out!”
In the cover of darkness, Gideon’s 300 surrounded the camp of Midian. They watched quietly for the signal. Gideon broke his jar and blew his trumpet followed immediately by the men with him. The other two groups saw and heard the signal and did likewise.
The camp below came to life. Men rushed from their tents still caught in sleep’s stupor. Seeing soldiers running out of every tent, they assumed Gideon’s army was upon them, and they ran their swords through each other. In only a few short minutes nearly all of the Midianite army lay dead in the valley—felled by their own swords.
From the mountainside all around, accompanied by torchlight, a shout rang out, “For the Lord and for Gideon!” And Gideon’s 300 men rushed in to finish what God had started.

My Reflection

What emotions do you think went through Gideon’s heart and mind when there were only 32,000 men and God told him there were too many men?

Then, when there were only 10,000 men God said, “There are still to many men!” How do you think Gideon felt now?

What about when he stood with just 300 men?

Why do you think Gideon did what God said, even when it seemed impossible that God’s plan would work?

Why did the dream of the Midianite give Gideon such courage?

Imagine watching a massive army destroy itself without an enemy fighting it. What must that have been like? What do you think the 300 men thought of God during and after that amazing “battle”?

My Story

Tell of a time when you felt like you were on a spiritual roller coaster—not sure what God was doing as things went from good to bad to good to wherever next. Tell the story. When did you know God was truly with you?

When you look back over your life, can you see God’s leading? Are their times when you felt alone or forgotten by God that you now recognise as God’s strategy for focusing your life?

My Assurance

Although at times it is hard to comprehend God’s leading, He has a plan. Sometimes His plan seems to make no earthly sense. When we are at our weakest, He is strongest among us. How do these verses give you courage to follow Jesus even when things seem impossibly hard?

1 Peter 1:18-19 ~ For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

Revelation 21:5-7 ~ And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

My Commitment

As the second coming of Jesus draws closer, God’s people will stand out more starkly from the rest of the world — His remnant of believers will become clearly visible. How do these verses challenge you to be bold in your faith?

Revelation 18:1, 4 ~ After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor. He gave a mighty shout: “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons.” . . . Then I heard another voice calling from heaven,    “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”

1 Peter 1:16-17 ~ For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”

Jude 1:3 ~ Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.

My Outlook

When we look around us we see only what is taking place in the physical world. The Bible tells us there is a great spiritual war raging behind the scenes with eternal realities that we will see clearly. The unseen will become seen! How do these verses challenge you to see life through spiritual lenses rather than just physical ones?

Revelation 12:17 ~ And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.

2 Peter 3:10-14 ~ But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

Revelation 21:1-5 ~ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

My Response

The following statement is the 13th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Remnant and its Mission

The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness.

Bible Story

The Bible story of Gideon can be found in Judges 6-8.

Further Reading

Revelation 14:6-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Jude 1:14, Revelation 21:1-14.