Sabbath, December 29, 2018

Lesson 13 – “What Will We Receive?”

“There are men and women who have left all for Christ’s sake. Their own temporal interests, their own enjoyment of society and of family and friends, are made of less importance than the interests of the kingdom of God. They have not made houses and lands, and relatives and friends however dear, first in their affections, and God’s cause second. And those who do this, who devote their lives to the advancement of the truth, to bringing many sons and daughters to God, have the promise that they shall have a hundredfold in this life and in the world to come life everlasting. Those who work from a noble standpoint and with unselfish motives will be consecrated to God, body, soul, and spirit.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 428.

Choosing between the Master and others
1. Whom did James, John, Andrew, and the other disciples have to put Jesus in front of when they became His disciples?
Matthew 10:37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Luke 14:26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

“Natural affection for relatives and friends should not lead any soul who sees the light to reject the light, to dishonor God the Father and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Every possible excuse for disobedience will be framed by men who choose, as many did in Christ’s day, the favor of men rather than the favor of God. If one chooses wife or children, father or mother, before Christ, that choice will stand through eternal ages, with all its weight of responsibility….” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 401.

2. When Jesus’ disciples went by faith to preach in villages, what did they leave behind? Do we also trust that our needs will be supplied? What was necessary to do a great work without even a little means?
Mark 6:7, 8; 9:23. 7And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse….23If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

“We have a great and sacred trust in the elevated truths committed to us. We are glad that there are men who will enter into our mission fields who are willing to work with small remuneration. Money does not weigh with them in the scale against the claims of conscience and duty, to open the truth to those who are in the darkness of error in far-off countries for the love of Christ and their fellow men.

“The men who will give themselves to the great work of teaching the truth are not the men who will be bribed with wealth or frightened by poverty. But God would have His delegated servants constantly improving.” –Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 302.

3. What did Peter ask after hearing what Jesus said? Was it easy for the disciples to leave everything, even their families, to do His work?
Mark 10:28. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
Matthew 19:27. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

“… Peter’s question, ‘What shall we have therefore?’ had revealed a spirit that uncorrected would unfit the disciples to be messengers for Christ; for it was the spirit of a hireling. While they had been attracted by the love of Jesus, the disciples were not wholly free from Pharisaism. They still worked with the thought of meriting a reward in proportion to their labor.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 396.

“The desire that some of our brethren possess to earn means fast, leads them to engage in a new enterprise and invest means, but often their expectations of making money are not realized. They sink that which they could have spent in God’s cause… If means is lost, the person looks upon it as a misfortune to himself–as his loss. But he must remember that it is the means of another which he is handling, that he is only a steward, and God is displeased with the unwise management of that means which could have been used to advance the cause of present truth. At the reckoning day the unfaithful steward must give an account of his stewardship.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 226.

He who sows will reap
4. Could one who had left his house, parents, and children for the sake of God’s kingdom of God expect to see them again? What was included in Jesus’ promise to those who were doing His service? How did that which the disciples left behind compare with what they would receive?
Luke 18:29, 30, first part. 29And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, 30Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time…,

“The greater man’s influence for good, under the control of the Spirit of God, the more determined will be the enemy to indulge his envy and jealousy toward him by religious persecution. But all heaven is on the side of Christ, not of antichrist. Those who love God and are willing to be partakers with Christ in His sufferings, God will honor.” –The Upward Look, p. 40.

“With God all things are possible. Truth, set home to the heart by the Spirit of God, will crowd out the love of riches. The love of Jesus and of riches cannot dwell in the same heart. The love of God so far surpasses the love of riches that the possessor breaks away from his riches and transfers his affections to God…. Love to God and his fellow men predominates, and he holds all that he has as not his own, and faithfully discharges his duty as God’s steward. Then can he keep both the great commandments of the law…. In this way it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God….

“Here is the reward for those who sacrifice for God. They receive a hundredfold in this life….” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 172, 173.

5. What is one great privilege that the faithful followers of Christ will enjoy in the future, after His return?
Matthew 19:28. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“‘Eat and drink at My table’–that is, be admitted to close communion with Me, as those who are placed in a position of honor near the king. Christ’s faithful ones are to minister, under His authority, the affairs of His spiritual kingdom. ‘Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall, inherit everlasting life.’ Matthew 19:28, 29.” –Australasian Union Conference Record, January 15, 1904.

6. In the future, what will be the reward of those who, in addition to leaving their homes and families, sacrifice their lives for the Master?
Mark 10:29, 30. 29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

“It is when we look upon every gift as the Lord’s, to be used in His service, that we secure the heavenly benediction. Give back to God your entrusted possessions, and more will be entrusted to you. Keep your possessions to yourself, and you will receive no reward in this life, and will lose the reward of the life to come.” –Our High Calling, p. 191.
“We should live for the next world. It is so wretched to live a haphazard, aimless life. We want an object in life–to live for a purpose. God help us all to be self-sacrificing, less self-caring, more forgetful of self and selfish interest; and to do good, not for the honor we expect to receive here, but because this is the object of our life and will answer the end of our existence. Let our daily prayer go up to God that He will divest us of selfishness….” –This Day with God, p. 280.

Wonderful gifts
7. What great glory is promised to all who love the Saviour and follow Him to the end?
Matthew 25:34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

“Through the gospel, souls that are degraded and enslaved by Satan are to be redeemed to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God. God’s purpose is not merely to deliver from the suffering that is the inevitable result of sin, but to save from sin itself. The soul, corrupted and deformed, is to be purified, transformed, that it may be clothed in ‘the beauty of the Lord our God,’ ‘conformed to the image of His Son.’ ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ Psalm 90:17; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 2:9. Eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which man, restored to God’s image, may attain.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 60, 61.

“God is infinite; in Him are ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ And to all eternity men may be ever searching, ever learning, and yet they can never exhaust the treasures of His wisdom, His goodness, and His power.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 703.

For additional study
“God is the fountain of life, and we can have life only as we are in communion with Him. Separated from God, existence may be ours for a little time, but we do not possess life. ‘She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.’ 1 Timothy 5:6. Only through the surrender of our will to God is it possible for Him to impart life to us.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 61.

“I have seen that those who live for a purpose, seeking to benefit and bless their fellow men and to honor and glorify their Redeemer, are the truly happy ones on the earth, while the man who is restless, discontented, and seeking this and testing that, hoping to find happiness, is always complaining of disappointment. He is always in want, never satisfied, because he lives for himself alone. Let it be your aim to do good, to act your part in life faithfully.” –This Day with God, p. 280.

of the General Conference Retirement Fund

To be read on Sabbath, December 29, 2018
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, January 5, 2019

The General Conference delegates in session in 2017 made the decision that the General Conference should provide retirement benefits to workers and missionaries who put their very lives and health on the line to serve in foreign countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where many governments do not provide social security benefits.

The word of God states that the elderly and the needy are to be taken care of. In the Old Testament, the Levites were released from their temple service at the age of 50, but they continued to receive the normal provisions of all who served in the temple. “And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.” Numbers 8:25, 26. Today, ministers and workers retire at whatever age is customary in the countries where they live. The average is 65 years of age.

We find pointed explanations concerning this subject in Gospel Workers, pp. 426, 427: “Some provision should be made for the care of ministers and others of God’s faithful servants who through exposure or overwork in His cause have become ill and need rest and restoration, or who through age or loss of health are no longer able to bear the burden and heat of the day. Ministers are often appointed to a field of labor that they know will be detrimental to their health; but, unwilling to shun trying places, they venture, hoping to be a help and blessing to the people. After a time they find their health failing. A change of climate and of work is tried, without bringing relief; and then what are they to do?

“These faithful laborers, who for Christ’s sake have given up worldly prospects, choosing poverty rather than pleasure or riches; who, forgetful of self, have labored earnestly to win souls to Christ; who have given liberally to advance various enterprises in the cause of God, and have then sunk down in the battle, wearied and ill, and with no means of support, must not be left to struggle on in poverty and suffering, or to feel that they are paupers. When sickness or infirmity comes upon them, let not our workers be burdened with the anxious query, ‘What will become of my wife and little ones, now that I can no longer labor and supply their necessities?’ It is but just that provision be made to meet the needs of these faithful laborers, and the needs of those who are dependent on them.…

“… The Lord is greatly displeased with this neglect of His faithful servants. Our people should be as willing to assist these persons when in adverse circumstances as they have been to accept their means and services when in health.”

During the last General Conference administrative term, the work of God was established in many new countries. We thank Him that there are now active workers in more than 130 countries. However, in many of these countries there are widespread poverty, a low standard of living, very low wages, and no social security benefits. Therefore, the General Conference Full Committee has resolved to create a Retirement Fund in the General Conference Treasury Department. The fund is to be increased by wise investment, deductions from workers’ salaries, and donations.
The administration of such a fund involves several challenges. For example, the different countries have different currencies that fluctuate constantly. This is connected to inflation, which constantly devaluates almost all currencies, making it impossible for deductions from workers’ salaries alone to cover such retirement benefits. Furthermore, sometimes a missionary works in one country but retires in a different one, where the living standard is different. Nevertheless, the church is responsible to see that the daily needs of the retired missionaries, pastors, and workers are met.

Your support is very important in this area. May God give you generous hearts. Remember the words of the Lord in Psalm 82:3: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” A special blessing is promised to all who respect and provide sustenance for the elderly and those in need.

May God bless every contributor and contribution and increase them with His bounties.

–Tzvetan Petkov
General Conference President