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sabbath JUNE 23

Matt. 26:64;

Rev. 1:7

Introduction Spiritual 20/20 Vision



The Christian walk is a peculiar thing to most unbelievers. Christians “live by faith, not by sight,” but in a world that maintains the notion that “seeing is believing,” faith in God—an unseen and, therefore, unbelievable being according to the world’s standards—can come across as, well, ridiculous. To most people, sight means confirmation. In any court of law, an eyewitness or a physical piece of evidence aids an argument more than any attorney’s reasoning. Given that sight is so essential to living in this physical world, why is the Christian often denied this privilege?

Hold the hand of the One who promises to guide you.

When our Creator formed the earth, He bestowed Adam and Eve with perfect sight. Unfortunately, sin has marred our sight, not only in a physical way but also, more significantly, in a spiritual way. This impairs our ability to have faith in Christ. However, the Bible urges us to continue our journey in faith, and Jesus promises us that our faith will be rewarded with clear spiritual sight.

Matthew 26:64 states that we “ ‘will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the clouds of heaven’ ” (NIV, emphasis added), and Revelation 1:7 stresses that He “ ‘is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see [H]im, even those who pierced [H]im’ ” (NIV, emphasis added). Both of these verses introduce a completely new perspective into the Christian walk. All of a sudden, the Savior that we know as our Creator is visible as our Redeemer. Whether sight means salvation or destruction, the Lord Jesus, on His return, gives all people the evidence, the proof, the final confirmation that He has come to take His faithful people home. From the beginning, Jesus has been guiding us, and in the end, He will be physically visible and will heal our spiritual blindness.

Oftentimes, we get discouraged in our everyday walk with Christ because we cannot physically see Him. However, our Creator acts as a Guide for the spiritually blind in a world of darkness. We are given divine encounters; still, small voices; Bible-inspired personal convictions; little and big miracles; and, most important, God’s Word. With this guidance from God, denying faith its place in our lives would be irresponsible.

Walking by faith may be considered silly in the world’s eyes, but when Christians attempt to stumble through a dark, sinful world themselves and fail, they realize that faith is a necessity. One day soon, our faithfulness will be confirmed, and Christ’s promise of being visible to the world will finally be fulfilled.

Every bit of doubt will be dispelled, and our living by faith will be rewarded with renewed 20/20 spiritual sight. Until then, daily hold the hand of the One who promises to guide you. He alone can provide the necessary vision to journey through a dark world to a land of eternal light.

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Lauren Waegele, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

sunday JUNE 24

Daniel 2;

Matt. 7:21–23; 24; 25:13;

John 14:1–3;

Luke 21:34–36;

Rom. 12:1, 2;

Titus 1:16; 2:12, 13;

2 Peter 3;

Rev. 1:7; 14:12; 22:12

Logos Are You Ready?



The Promise (Dan. 2:35, 44, 45; Matthew 24; John 14:1–3; Rev. 1:7; 14:12; 22:12)

The hearts of the disciples must have quickened when Jesus said, “I go,” even though He also said, “ ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ ” (John 14:3, 1, NIV). The time had come for Jesus to return to His Father, and He prepared them for this separation with His promise to return for them at a later time. He had given them the assurance: I will come again. He had given them signs: wars, famines, earthquakes, signs in the heavens, persecution, disloyalty, deception. Jesus’ promise to return became more precious to His followers when they experienced the upheavals He had forewarned. “ ‘See, I have told you ahead of time’ ” (Matt. 24:25, NIV). Jesus let them know what would happen so that in the midst of their trials, they could continue to trust in Him.

Watch and pray.

The Delay (Daniel 2; 2 Peter 3)

The early disciples must have believed that they were living in the toenails of time as described by Daniel. Yet the mysterious stone has yet to strike the earth, and believers across two millennia have had to grapple with this long delay in Jesus’ promised return. Peter explains the delay by pointing out God’s different reckoning of time and His extensive patience (2 Pet. 3:8, 9). Ellen White says, “If the Master should come, so many would be found unready. God’s unwillingness to have His people perish has been the reason for so long delay.”*

Preparation Needed (Matt. 7:21–23; 25:13; Luke 21:34–36; Rom. 12:1, 2; Titus 1:16; 2:12, 13; Rev. 14:12)

Jesus did not give the signs of His coming to keep His followers in a state of anxiety. Rather, He gave the signs to strengthen our faith in Him and motivate us to prepare. Some Adventists think they are preparing by becoming fixated on the signs themselves. It is possible to be so focused on the events leading up to Jesus’ coming—natural disasters and political events—that we neglect to prepare to meet the Jesus who is coming by building our relationship with Him.

Other Adventists try to prepare by focusing on obedience—the characteristic of those who keep the commandments of Jesus—while they neglect the other descriptor in Revelation 14:12—keeping the faith of Jesus. This faith is developed through a study of His Word put into experiential practice in daily living.

Jesus gave us a formula to prepare for His coming: watch and pray. Yet, what are we watching? Never in history have people had so many distractions, so many demands on our time and attention. With computers in our hands and on our wrists, we have access to information, entertainment, and instant communication in a continuous stream around the clock. We need to evaluate the impact this has on our preparedness for meeting our Lord.

It is impossible to develop an authentic and deep relationship with Jesus without an intentional, continuous connection to Him through prayer, a daily surrender of self to His direction. This connection develops our faith in Him rather than reinforcing faith in ourselves or in possessions or other people. Such a connection hones our ability to hear His still, small Voice, who guides us into right living and self-sacrificing service. It develops our passion for Jesus and for lost people. It helps us not only to know Jesus but also to become more like Him. It prepares us for the end-time events.

A most frightening warning is found in Matthew 7. A group of people are deluded into thinking they are followers of Jesus. They claim the right to enter the kingdom of heaven based upon their performance of “good works,” implying that it is God who has given them the power to do supernatural things—pretty strong evidence. Yet Jesus refuses them admittance. He calls them lawbreakers, and, most significantly, Jesus says, “ ‘ “I never knew you.” ’ ” Further, in writing to Titus, Paul describes fake believers who deny through their actions the God they claim to know (Titus 1:16). He also describes the genuine believer who says no to what the world has to offer and practices self-control while waiting for Jesus to appear (Titus 2:12, 13).

It is time to take our spiritual temperature and then to invite Jesus to transform us through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). This way, He can prepare us to meet Him when He fulfills that promise given so long ago but still burning in our hearts today.

REACT

1. Reflect upon what you watch. Are the things that you give your attention and time to helping you know the Jesus who is coming soon?

2. What do you need to do or stop doing in order to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus?

3. Do you know Jesus well enough to trust Him no matter what happens in your life or in world events?

* Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 194.

Kathy Goddard, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USAS

monday JUNE 25

2 Tim. 4:6–8

Testimony Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize



“Through his long term of service, Paul had never faltered in his allegiance to his Saviour. Wherever he was . . . he had never been ashamed of the cause he was advocating. The one great purpose of his Christian life had been to serve Him whose name had once filled him with contempt; and from this purpose no opposition or persecution had been able to turn him aside. His faith, made strong by effort and pure by sacrifice, upheld and strengthened him.”1

In spite of the trials, Paul kept his mind and heart focused on his Savior. Earthly troubles were worth enduring because of the heavenly promises from Christ. Those who profess obedience to Christ will be tested as Paul was, but we will have the same blessed assurances that guided Paul.

“Summon all your powers to look up.”

“In the religious life of every soul who is finally victorious there will be scenes of terrible perplexity and trial; but his knowledge of the Scriptures will enable him to bring to mind the encouraging promises of God, which will comfort his heart and strengthen his faith in the power of the Mighty One. He reads: . . . ‘that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. . . .’ The trial of faith is more precious than gold.”2

Many falsely believe that troubling times are a sign of God’s faithlessness. However, we must remember that Christ warned His followers that they would suffer for His name’s sake, yet that suffering was to be a badge of honor.

“Summon all your powers to look up, not down at your difficulties; then you will never faint by the way. You will soon see Jesus behind the cloud, reaching out His hand to help you; and all you have to do is to give Him your hand in simple faith and let Him lead you. . . . God gives you intelligence and a reasoning mind, whereby you may grasp His promises; and Jesus is ready to help you in forming a strong, symmetrical character.”3

REACT

1. Is a lack of trials a blessing or a sign that we are living too comfortably?

2. How can we keep our eyes on Jesus in our hectic, fast-paced world?

1. Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 500.

2. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 578.

3. Ibid., pp. 578, 579.

Brandon Beneche, Collegedale, Tennessee, USA

tuesday JUNE 26

Deut. 29:29;

Rom. 1:17; 8:22;

Heb. 10:35, 36

Evidence Why Did Jesus Leave?



It’s one of the most emotionally pressing questions in the hearts of Jesus’ followers. Seventh-day Adventists have a good theological narrative that accounts for why He left and what He has been up to in the last two millennia since He made His cameo on this planet. But still, when I am alone and weary, it seems the metanarratives are not enough.

They will not draw back.

Why has He been gone for so long? Is He ever coming back, or are we all like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot?1 Sure, it’s been great to exist, but I would much rather have had the Lord return a thousand years ago.

The answer to our hearts’ question begins with the primary Old Testament motif of the coming day of the Lord; this day was going to be a day of rescue and destruction,2 and just being a member of the covenant community didn’t entitle you to rescue. Israelites had to live a life of constant attentive engagement with the covenant of God—or as the Bible states: to have lived by faith.3

Further, in Hebrews 10, Paul speaks bluntly to his audience, which is wavering in the faith. He reminds them that the day of the Lord is a fury of fire for those who disdain the blood of the Son and encourages them to remember their earlier days when they suffered gladly because they knew they had a better and enduring possession (verses 35, 36). He then quotes the famous Habakkuk passage—the just shall live by faith—quoted also in Romans 1:17.

Only this time he lengthens the quotation to emphasize that the Coming One will come in a little while and not delay.

The Hebrew student will remember that the conjunctive waw translated as “but” is a fluid conjunction—able to be translated in multiple ways—and in this passage, it serves as a logical connection. Thus, the quoted text pushes that the Lord is coming without delay and because He comes, the righteous will live by faith: They will not draw back. They will live by faith and obtain life.

So yes, we do know why Jesus left, yet, we don’t know why Jesus has been gone for what seems like forever. Yet, we are certain that He will come without delay, and because of that—we live by faith.

REACT

1. Have you ever struggled to believe that Jesus was still returning? If so, what was that like, and what did you find comfort in?

2. When was the last time you felt zeal and joy for suffering for Christ?

1. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts.

2. Walter Brueggemann, Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), p. 46.

3. Ibid., p. 78.

Bryant Rodriguez, Collegedale, Tennessee, USA

wednesday JUNE 27

1 Chron. 16:8–12;

Ps. 19:1;

Matt. 28:16–20;

Mark 10:45;

Luke 6:38;

Rom. 6:5; 12:2;

Phil. 3:20, 21;

1 Thess. 5:17

How-to God’s Transforming Work



In the beginning, God created us in His image. We were perfect in Him. Once Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, however, we could no longer be perfect—our bodies and minds started to decay. Disease and death, once unknown to humanity, became commonplace.

God promised to send His Son so that He could one day transform all who love Him back into the creations that we were meant to be. God is already working to transform our hearts to prepare us for His return. In order to prepare for His coming, we must continually submit ourselves to God so that He can do this transforming work in us.

Share God with others.

Step 1: Communicate with God. To have a relationship with God, we need to communicate with Him the way we would communicate with anyone else we care about. One way to do this is to pray constantly. God is always there, and He always wants to hear from us, even if we have only a moment to talk.

Another way to commune with God is by studying the Bible. God inspired the Bible so that we have a way to understand His character. The more we study, the more we know and the closer our relationship with God becomes. Just like prayer, Bible study can be done at many times and locations. Mor ning worship is one good option because by focusing on God at the beginning of the day, we can reflect on Him and our study throughout our work and activities. Another good way to commune with God is to go out into nature. God’s creation is one of the best reminders of His glory, and studying His Word while experiencing all He made for us draws us closer to Him.

Step 2: Share Him with others. We have been given the call to spread the good news of the Second Coming with the world. We can share our faith with unbelievers, serve the homeless, go on mission trips, or even give someone a simple smile. Even the smallest kind act can have a big impact on a person’s life and our own lives as well. Every time we share God with others, we are growing closer to Him so that He may transform us into His image.

REACT

1. How can you find ways to be a more effective witness to others in your daily life?

2. What ways can you think of to keep yourself accountable for daily Bible reading and prayer?

3. How can sharing God with others prepare you for His coming?

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Hannah Jobe, Collegedale, Tennessee, USA

thursday JUNE 28

Matt. 24:6, 7;

John 14:2;

Phil. 1:6;

2 Tim. 4:6–8;

Titus 2:13

Opinion Cleaning the Cobwebs



Hospitality was a common occurrence in our household. Whenever my grandmother was planning to have guests over, we all pitched in to help prepare to recieve the guests into our home. As a small child, my job was to dust all of the furniture. Because I wanted to impress our guests, I performed my job with the greatest care. When the guests arrived at our home, I would smile with pride at the work I had done and hoped the guests also appreciated it. Jesus is much more than a guest coming into our homes.

Jesus is much more than a guest coming into our homes.

Many of us have heard for our entire lives that Jesus Christ is soon returning. With the current events and the turmoil within society, it is easy to see that Jesus’ words are coming to fruition (Matt. 24:7, 8). In such tumultuous times, it is important that we are preparing our hearts and our minds not only to be able to withstand the difficulties of the last days but also to choose to live in a Christ-centered way.

So what does this look like? Often we feel the need to impress others with our accomplishments, our status, or even the way we dress. Social media has created an even greater facade. If there are imperfections, a few quick filters and edits will make us look incredible. We spend our time counting the comments and likes on our photos and posts, and we allow these to determine our identities. Meanwhile, the heart is sick and the spirit sicker. We pay no heed to our souls or to the state of our hearts. Cobwebs litter us internally; while God is preparing a place for us, we are not dusting our inner selves.

As we wait for the hope of Jesus’ return, He calls us to prepare ourselves by casting aside the things that hinder us from growing closer to God. We must be honest with ourselves about the things that clutter our lives. We must prepare our hearts as we would prepare our homes for a guest—wiping down and sweeping out the things that do not belong there. Let us cast those things aside, so that we can boldly go forward in faith. And God is faithful—He promises to free us from those habits and sins that bind us. If you are struggling to get rid of some cobwebs in your life, ask Him to help you.

REACT

1. What struggles in your life would you consider to be spiritual cobwebs?

2. What has been your main focus in life? Have your goals been focused on daily living or your eternal life?

3. What changes do you need to make to refocus your life on heaven?

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Alexis Christine Hartline, Collegedale, Tennessee, USA

friday JUNE 29

1 Thessalonians 1–5

Exploration “Let Them See You”



CONCLUDE

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he commends their dedication to Christ. The people of Thessalonica were Christians who dealt with suffering and persecution at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles, along with the dominating presence of false prophets. Despite many obstacles, they refused to compromise their established commitment to Christ. They disregarded the teachings of false prophets and remained faithful to Paul’s teachings as God’s word. But their faith exceeded mere words. Their lifestyles were clear examples of God’s love, with a message that stretched as far as Macedonia and Achaia. But in chapters 4 and 5 Paul is moved to remind the people that they must continue to live life in the present while keeping their eyes on Christ’s soon return.

We can learn a lot from the lives of the Thessalonians. We, too, live in a time of suffering and false prophets, awaiting persecution; but like the Thessalonians, our commitment to Christ should enable us to be examples of love, steadfastness, and faith to surrounding nations. Our faith should amount to more than mere words; we must exercise faith in our daily routines so that our lifestyles may represent what Christ has done for us and the future we look forward to at His second coming. In preparation for the Second Coming, though, we must not lose interest in our lives on earth.

CONSIDER

CONNECT

Matthew 5:16; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:15.

Ellen G. White, To Be Like Jesus, pp. 9, 18.

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Sierra Kristine Emilaire, Collegedale, Tennessee, USA