Identity (2): Over Time
November 20, 2021
Since I fly enough to get sick of it but not enough to earn first-class upgrades, I find that jockeying for the exit row is an important part of ensuring a more comfortable flight. But recently I was shaken from my shortsighted approach to getting my seat assignments while sitting comfortably on the aisle of a luxuriously roomy exit row.
After carefully putting my carry-on bags away, I stretched my legs out fully in front of me like a cat on an old couch winding down for a lazy nap. There was so much room I could have easily practiced putting a golf ball on the carpet that spanned before me. Exit row, I thought to myself. This is good.
The normal routine ensued as unfortunate travelers stumbled over one another getting into their seats and trying to find space for the carry-on bags in the sparse room that remained around their feet. Then a flight attendant knelt down and looked me right in the face and asked, “Do you know you are sitting in an emergency exit row?“
Are you kidding? I thought to myself.
She continued patiently, “Are you willing and able to do the required things listed on the exit row card in the seat compartment in front of you?“ “Yes, of course,“ I said. It was clear to me that she took the exit row thing more seriously than I had anticipated. It was also clear that she saw through my purpose for being there. I was willing and able—but I thought that was a reference to having more room than everyone else and possibly taking a nap.
She asked me to read the card, and said she would return. I read the card. OK, I read some of the card. I mean, I looked at the pictures.
She returned and reminded me, “In case of an emergency I’ll be depending on you to open that door. Dozens of other people will also be relying on you.“
It was then that I realized that the exit row is a place of privilege. Not the kind of privilege in which you are the beneficiary, but the kind of privilege in which you experience the distinct Christlike honor of putting others before yourself. Those who sit in the exit row truly need to be willing and able to help others.
I still try to get the exit row seat, and for the most part it’s still because of the extra legroom. But when I sit down, I take a second or two to remind myself that if anything should happen, I need to be willing to let others get off the plane safely, before I do. I hope that never gets tested. But if it does, I want to be like Jesus, James, and John—I want to be willing and able.—Pastor Troy.
Memory Text: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:2, 3, NKJV).
Our Beliefs, no. 11, Growing in Christ: “We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 136, 137
Read James 1:5, 6.
Jeff’s brother Jim returned from military service for the holidays. He slept in Jeff’s room, and so they would talk at night. Jim was saying some things that caused Jeff to be concerned about his brother’s spiritual condition. Jim seems to be questioning whether God answers prayer or if going to church really matters. Jim is searching for answers.
Jeff is too young to know what it is like to have to be ready to go to war. He doesn’t have a lot to worry about except whether he will score points in the basketball game. He doesn’t feel he has a right to say anything to his brother, but wants to encourage him to keep talking to God. How do you think he should go about doing that? What kinds of things would you say to be encouraging? What would you avoid saying?
Read Matthew 20:25-28; Romans 8:38, 39; 2 Peter 2:9.
No matter where you are on your walk (beginning, middle, or end) with the Lord, he is there with you. There is nothing you will encounter that He has not conquered. In everything we can trust God to see us through.
Where are you on your walk with God?
In what ways do you serve the Lord, your family, and others each day?
Fill in the blanks.
“For we do not against and, but against, against, against the of the of this age, against hosts of in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the, that you may be to in the evil day, and having done all, to. Stand therefore, having with, having the of, and having with the preparation of the; above all, the with which will be able to the of the wicked one. And the, and the, which is the; with and in the Spirit, to this end with and for the” (Ephesians 6:12-18, NKJV).
Read Matthew 20:20-28.
A popular catchphrase today is “It’s a process.” When it comes to life in the kingdom of God, that’s not a bad way to look at it. For James and John to isolate one moment of greatness or failure to mark their lives as disciples would be ridiculous. Yet people often allow their own failures to be final or their success to carry them too far. The book The Desire of Ages describes beautifully how Jesus dealt with these two disciples and their determined quest for glory: “Jesus bears tenderly with them, not rebuking their selfishness in seeking preference above their brethren. He reads their hearts, He knows the depth of their attachment to Him” (p. 548).
Don’t you just love that about Jesus? Wherever you are in the journey, know that even when you don’t know what is going on, the Savior knows who you are and where you are—and He patiently guides you closer to Himself. On many occasions the choice to serve yourself will rise up in conflict with the choice to serve others. But those who have chosen to remain close to Christ get to know Him, and learn a few things about themselves “in the process.“
Find the verses that go with the reference and fill in the blanks.
1 Corinthians 4:1, 2, NIV
Proverbs 20:6, NIV
Proverbs 28:20, NIV
Revelation 14:12, NIV
Hebrews 12:2, 3, NIV
Philippians 1:6, NIV
A. “Fixing our on Jesus, the pioneer and of faith. For the joy set before him he the cross, scorning its, and sat down at the hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such from, so that you will not grow and lose.”
B. “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as of and as those with the mysteries has. Now it is that those who have been given a must prove.”
C. “This calls for endurance on the part of the of who his commandments and remain to Jesus.”
D. “A person will be richly, but one to get rich will not go.”
E. “Many to have love, but a person who can find?”
F. “Being confident of this, that he who began a in you will it on to until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Read Revelation 14:12.
Review the memory verse.
Every once in a while it is good for young people to wonder where the road ahead may lead them. It is equally important not to lock in too tightly on the picture either—ask James and John if they ended up where they envisioned, and they would say both “No“ and “Yes.“
“No.“ James was the first apostle to lose his life at the very beginning of the growth of the Christian church. His impact on the early church was huge, and the enemy of the church thought that putting him to death would stall the cause. Instead, the church grew. John was the last of Christ’s disciples to die. The Roman authorities tried to kill him by boiling him in oil, but they failed. Then John wrote some of the most powerful statements about Christ ever written. Instead of being on the left and the right, James and John were the first and the last. But their legacy of devotion continues.
“Yes.“ They would say “Yes“ because they ended up exactly where they always wanted to be—in close relationship to their Friend and Lord, Jesus. Throughout their journey their primary purpose was to be close to Him, and in being close to Him they found no better place to be. What about you? Success or failure, whether you know where you will end up or not, you can rest in the knowledge that Jesus will be right there. What else would you want? What else could you ask for?
Read Philippians 1:6.
(See your Bible Study Guide) The graphic below depicts the rings on a tree. Each ring is a season of growth. Indicate the seasons of your own growth in the Me box, marking pivotal moments of success and failure. One of the best ways to get started is to try to identify the five most significant events of your life. Some examples might be getting to know Christ, your baptism, sharing your conversion story, winning someone to the Lord, a friend’s moving away, a family member’s death, a disaster of some kind, or making a new friend at school. Try to include events that describe your relationship to God. You will complete the James and John box in class on Sabbath.