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Scripture Story: Luke 8:26-39.

Commentary: The Desire of Ages, chapters 34, 35.

“used-to-be’s” and “has-beens”

Photo by Terrill Thomas

keytext

“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:38, 39, NIV)

flashlight

“With authority He bade the unclean spirits come out of them. His words penetrated the darkened minds of the unfortunate men. They realized dimly that One was near who could save them from the tormenting demons. They fell at the Savior’s feet to worship Him; but when their lips opened to entreat His mercy, the demons spoke through them” (The Desire of Ages, pp. 337, 338).

what do you think?

Read Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:6-11, 28. List the spiritual gifts that God has given His people. Then circle the gifts that you think you have.

did you know?

Ellen G. White (1827-1915) had her first vision while visiting a friend in Portland, Maine. This vision from God was the first of many that would mark her calling as a prophet of God. But despite the important messages she had to share with God’s end-time people, she always turned people’s attention back to the Bible and to Him. She called herself a “messenger of God” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 439). Her goal was to turn people’s attention to Scripture. Her messages were not given “for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth” (Early Writings, p. 78). Like John the Baptist and other prophets before her, Ellen White did not make her work about herself. It was about God (see Herbert Douglass, http://www. whiteestate.org/books/mol/Chapt13. html#Delivering God’s Message).

INTO THE STORY

“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’

“John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bride-groom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

“He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

(John 3:22-36, NKJV)

OUT OF THE STORY

What spiritual gift did God give John the Baptist? How did he use this to draw people’s attention to God?

What do you think was the real reason behind John the Baptist’s disciples complaining about more people listening to Jesus than to John?

How did John see himself in relation to the Messiah?

What is the main point John is trying to make?

How does this message impact how I am to live?

How can I testify to what I “have seen and heard”?

punch lines

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:5-9, NKJV).

“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11, 12, NKJV).

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19, 20, NKJV).

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18, NKJV).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45, NKJV).

further insight

“The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. The heavenly intelligences can cooperate with him who is seeking, not to exalt self, but to save souls.” —Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 436.

“We can receive heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 181.

connectingtoLIFE

Sabbath

Read Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:6- 11, 28.

What spiritual gifts has God given to members of His church? According to 1 Corinthians 12:12, why do we need so many spiritual gifts?

“God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity” (Fundamental Belief 17, Spiritual Gifts and Ministries).

Have you discovered your spiritual gift? If not, pray earnestly and ask God to reveal it to you.

Sunday

Read James 4:6.

Look back through the Into the Story and Out of the Story sections. As John’s disciples complained to him about the popularity of Jesus and baptism, John had a choice to make: be jealous and angry or be humble. John chose the latter because he knew that anger and jealousy were not the answer. Jealousy and anger are contrary to humility. When was the last time you got angry, when humility would have been a better option? What can you do not to let anger overtake you the next time, and let humility be the answer? What encouragement can you get from James 4:6?

Monday

In this week’s Key Text, John the Baptist says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Read the surrounding verses in John 3 to understand the context of his statement. What did John mean? Too often people don’t do the decreasing part. We want to stand out and be applauded for what we have done—that’s human nature. Even those who stand in the background want to be recognized for their contribution. In fact, we are taught to give recognition to work done well—we even expect it. But what does “I must decrease” really mean? When are times that you need to “decrease”? Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you those times and that you will have the desire to obey Him.

Tuesday

Read Isaiah 6:8.

In the Flashlight section we see that John’s task was to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. That was the only task that God called John to do. John delighted in the task and was a witness to its success as people flocked to Jesus. John understood his part in God’s work. He knew that it was time for his job of preparing the way for Jesus to be over. Instead of letting his disciples pull him in to hindering Jesus’ work, he expressed his joy at Jesus’ ministry. How willing are you to be used by God for the building of His kingdom? How willing should we be? See Isaiah 6:8. Pray that God will show you clearly the work He has for you and that He will help you accomplish it.

Wednesday

Read Isaiah 43:7.

Read Isaiah 43:7 to learn what God says about why He created us. Write down your schedule for tomorrow. In what ways can you give God glory throughout the day through your actions, interactions with friends, responsibilities, and thoughts?

Thursday

Read Isaiah 14:12-14.

This is a passage that describes how Lucifer fell from heaven. He became proud and wanted to take God’s position and glory for himself. God made Lucifer a beautiful angel and gave him wonderful talents and a high position in heaven. But he turned his attention to himself instead of using his beauty and privileges to give glory to God. In contrast, what is the mark of true nobility and greatness in God’s sight? What are some ways you can overcome pride and selfishness in your life? See Micah 6:8 and Matthew 11:29.

Friday

Read Proverbs 15:33.

It is not wrong to seek to achieve great things for God. This Bible passage does not tell us that honor is bad. But humility needs to come first. Think about how you’d like to be serving God with your talents and gifts in 10 years. Write down two goals you have. Then ask God for the humility you need as you achieve them.

Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

this week’s reading*

The Desire of Ages (or Humble Hero), chapters 34, 35.

A special adaptation of The Desire of Ages, entitled Humble Hero, has been created just for you by the White Estate and the Pacific Press Publishing Association. Get more info about it at: www.cornerstoneconnections.net. By following this plan you will read at least one book of the Conflict of the Ages Series each year.