Friday, January 5, 2018

Sabbath School Insights: How Jesus Spent "His" Time

How Jesus Spent "His" Time

How Jesus Spent "His" Time 

Balance as an adjective is a state in which opposing tendencies are equal. To balance an object means to position it with its center of gravity above its supports in such a way that there is no tendency for it to topple over to one side rather than to another.  The forces of gravity are equal on each side.  

In acoustics, balance is the condition in a stereo system wherein both speakers produce the same average sound levels.   In aerospace engineering, it is the equilibrium attained by an aircraft, rocket, or the like when forces and moments are acting upon it to produce a steady flight, especially without rotation about its axes.  In chemistry, balance is to bring a chemical equation into a state wherewith conservation of mass and charge.   

We could say that balance in social terms is the point at which you can give time to all parties and activities, and they all are satisfied.  Something humanly impossible to do, but that we believe we should be able to do.  Because it is impossible, many experts say that we should learn to say, "No."  You cannot please everyone and do all things well at all times.   

From our human perspective, Christ lives an "unbalanced" life.  (He said, "No," sometimes.)  He "neglected" and "ignored" His family (Matthew 12: 46 – 50).  He did not eat at times (John 4: 31 – 33).  All so that He could do the things stated in the verses enumerated in our lesson  - Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:16, John 2:1-11, John 12:2.  These examples give us four different categories of work: preaching, teaching, healing, and feeding.  We should note that Jesus repeatedly said that it was not He that did the works, but His Father.  Let us read from John 8: 28, 29; 12: 49, 50; and 14:10,   

John8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
John8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. 
John12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
John12:50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. 
John14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 

Jesus spent the time given to Him doing the Father's will.  To be able to do this Jesus prayed - sometimes all night.  Here are a few verses talking about that,  

Mark1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 
Luke5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. 
Luke9:28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 
Luke6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 

The prayer enabled and empowered Him to lay aside His will so he could do His Father's will, which in His case was preaching, teaching, healing, and feeding.  Christ died to self daily.  He said, "No," to Himself to say, "Yes," to the Father.  To live as Jesus lived then is to live a life doing the Father's will.  What is the Father's will for us?  The following is an excerpt of a sermon by a prominent Pastor which answers this question from Romans 12: 1 - 2.

"The question I want to ask you is, "Are you willing to present your bodies a living sacrifice?"  Romans 12:1:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
In other words, for me now onward is not to live for myself but for Christ.  Because of this, Paul says in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In other words, "do not fit yourself into the world's mold."  This is one of the biggest problems we face here.

It wasn't long after coming to America I discovered this was one of the major problems that we face here in America.  I'll tell you why.  When I go and preach the gospel to the pagans in Africa, to the Animists, and they become Christians, they know that they are saying good-bye to paganism in exchange for Christianity.  So it is a common practice among Africans when they are baptized to actually change their names.  They actually change their names, just like Paul did when he was converted from Judaism.  He changed his name from Saul to Paul.  What does this signify?  It means that they are no longer belonging to the world.

But here is the problem in this country.  For years in school every morning, public or private school, we have to say, "This is one nation under God."  So it has caused a problem because we make no distinction between our culture and Christianity.  Because it's "one nation under God."  But let me ask you a question.  In practice, is this really one nation under God?  Because we have not made a distinction between the cultural patterns of our country and the Christian lifestyle, whatever the trend is of the culture, the church follows.  You look at the culture of the country and look at the direction of the church.  It doesn't take long for the church to change.  And we follow in the same footsteps, whether it's divorce, lifestyle, you name it, and this has caused a major problem.

I want to repeat there are two things of which you must be aware as a Christian.

You have died to the world.
You no longer belong to the world system.
You are living in the world, but you are not of the world.  When Jesus prayed, in John 17:15, He said:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Now what's the difference?  Is the difference only in outward acts?  No.  We need to go deeper than that.  I want to give you some texts.  First go to 1 John 2, where we see the difference between the world and the church.  I will expound on this in more detail as we go along but I'm just laying the foundation.  What's the foundation?  Every Christian must realize that when you is born in the kingdom of God, you are born crucified.  That's the title of this chapter.  I've taken it from a French theologian.  He said, "Every Christian is born crucified."  1 John 2:15,16:

Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.
Now, what did he mean by "Do not love the world"?  He did not mean not to love the people of the world.  We must love the people of the world because they are children of God at least by the cross, even though they don't recognize it.

You cannot belong to this worldly kingdom and the kingdom of heaven at the same time.  They are two opposite kingdoms.  What does he mean by "the world"?  Verse sixteen mentions the three driving forces that control the worldly person.

"The cravings of sinful man," in some translations called "the lust of the flesh."  What he feels he wants.  He wants everything.
"The lust of his eyes."  What he sees, he wants.  He's keeping up with the Joneses.
"The boasting of what he has and does," sometimes called "the pride of life."  He always wants to go up and up and up.  He's not willing to go down.  If you don't believe me, ask an eighth grader, "How would you like to go to seventh grade next year?"  I have yet to see a young pastor of a big church who voluntarily wants to go to a small church.  Even in the church, we want to go up and up and up.
We have three kinds of missionaries.  I worked 18 years in Africa and observed three kinds of missionaries.  One is the "tourist missionary."  They are always carrying their camera.  Africa has a lot of game to offer them.  The second kind I call "political missionaries," because you cannot rise to the General Conference unless you have mission service.  So some come there for one term to qualify for a promotion.  But there is a third group, "genuine missionaries" who come there to witness Christ and forget self.  That is the problem with the world.  It's looking for self.  Now turn in contrast to Galatians 5:24:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
That's the mentality of the Christian.  Please turn to chapter six of Galatians.  In Galatians 6:12 Paul says:

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly [legalists] are trying to compel you to be circumcised.  The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Do you know what Paul is saying here?  Those who are legalistic are following rules because they want to give glory to themselves.  The gospel, the cross gives glory to God and, therefore, it means swallowing your pride.  But now look at verse fourteen.  Verse twelve is dealing with the legalist, but verse fourteen is dealing with the true Christian.  Galatians 6:14:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
A Christian is born crucified.  Back to Romans 12:2-3:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Paul is saying, "Please, don't fit into the world's mold but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  What God wants to see in you and me is a transformation of the mind.  The performance will take care of itself.  There are too many Adventists who are trying to get perfection of performance in preparation for the second coming of Christ, or the time of trouble.

So one day I sat down, and I spent hours looking at every statement in the Spirit of Prophecy where the word "character" appears.  I discovered that what Ellen G.  White also teaches — which is in harmony with Paul — is the perfection of the human mind-character.  In other words, the mind set needs to be perfected, the performance God will take care of.  She calls it the cleansing of the soul temple.  Not the performance, but the soul temple.

In other words, we need to have a mind that is totally surrendered to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  The performance God will take care of.  So what Paul is saying here is, "Don't conform to the world but be transformed by renewing the mind."  Philippians 2:5:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
"Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus."  But also read verses one to four of Philippians 2:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the samve love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.
When you have the mind of Christ, God will reveal to you what is the good and acceptable service that He expects from you.  He doesn't expect the same thing from everybody.  Different people have a different measure of faith.  Therefore, he concludes (Romans 12:3):

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
What's the foundation of Christian living?  It's back to the formula, "Not I, but Christ."  That is what you need to remind yourself of daily.  A Christian is justified.  He stands perfect before God.  But when does he begin to live as a justified Christian?  Now!  Daily!  Renew your minds and pray to God, "Father, you have given me your Son.  I am crucified with Him, and now I want Him to live in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.""

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