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The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness filled their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved Him by their slowness of comprehension, their failure to understand the lessons that, for their good, He was trying to teach them. 

These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.

NOTE: October is Spirit of Prophecy Month at AdventistBookCenter.com. Most EGW titles over $5 will be 25% off! Check the website for the included titles; prices will reflect the discount beginning Oct. 1.

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Applying Ellen White's Counsel to Others

According to the Sermon on the Mount, there does come a time for helping others to see truth in a fuller way, but that time arrives only after our own hearts have been softened by insights into our own weakness and by our gratitude to God for rescuing us from the pit of despair.

One of the great problems facing the church down through history, however, has been those who have never been to the pit of despair. Such "saints" generally think quite highly of their spiritual accomplishments and feel justified in condemning others who have no reached their "high" level. They have a pedigree of long standing?they partake of the spirit of the Pharisees. 

Ellen White spent her entire life fighting that spirit. She even refused to publish "some things which are all truth . . . because I fear some would take advantage of them to hurt others."

Satan has had those who have agitated extremism to the point of fanaticism in many areas in Adventism. But perhaps no area has found so many enthusiasts for extremism as health reform. "My brother," Ellen White penned to one advocate, "you are not to make a test for the people of God, upon the question of diet; for they will lose confidence in teachings that are strained to the farthest point of extension. The Lord desires His people to be sound on every point in health reform, but we must not go to extremes."

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A Step in Faith

As with Peter, our love for Christ will grow in service to others. The more we love Jesus, the more we desire to share that love with the people around us. The more we share His love with the people around us, the more our love for Jesus will grow. Ellen White shares this eternal truth in her classic volume Steps to Christ: ?The spirit of unselfish labor for others gives depth, stability, and Christlike loveliness to the character, and brings peace and happiness to its possessor.?5 When we take a leap of faith and become actively involved in witnessing, we grow spiritually. Life?s greatest joys come from sharing the love of God with others. As we daily seek opportunities to share what Christ means to us, we will see providential opportunities. The Holy Spirit will lead people who are seeking into our lives.

Many people fail to witness because they are unsure of what to say. Others are fearful of rejection or embarrassment. Witnessing is not out-arguing others. It is sharing what Christ has done for us. We make friends, then we make Christian friends, then we make Adventist Christian friends.

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Preparing for the Heavenly Home

The Sabbath should be made so interesting to our families that its weekly return will be hailed with joy.

The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours.

In the minds of the children the very thought of the Sabbath should be bound up with the beauty of natural things.... Happy the father and mother who can teach their children God?s written word with illustrations from the open pages of the book of nature; who can gather under the green trees, in the fresh, pure air, to study the Word and to sing the praise of the Father above.

In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God?s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator.... Show that it was sin which marred God?s perfect work; that thorns and thistles, sorrow and pain and death, are all the result of disobedience to God. Bid them see how the earth, though marred with the curse of sin, still reveals God?s goodness.

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Virtuous Living through Suffering

Suffering is perhaps one of the most acute temptations of faith. The pain of suffering raises tenacious and troubling questions about GOd that are difficult to answer. The doubt that suffering initiates has a strong poential to destroy our faith. All of a sudden, traditional explanations and answers to suffering no longer make sense. Instead, we are confronted with haunting "why" questions. 

I am familiar with these questions. Loss feels so senseless that it's only natural to ask why: Why us? Why her? Why now? In order to copy with this, we decided to raise an alternate set of "why" questions: Why should sickness, suffering, and death affect others, but not us? we asked. After all, we live in a sinful and imperfect world. Christians are promised eternal life but are not exempt from sickness and death on this side of eternity.

If we follow God only to be spared from suffering and death, we follow Him for the wrong reasons! As virtuous children of God, we can live our lives in such a way that others will not doubt God's goodness to us, but instead, see it revealed through our faith.

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The Word of God

God has been pleased to communicate His truth to the world by human agencies, and He Himself, by His Holy Spirit, qualified men and enabled them to do this work. He guided the mind in the selection of what to speak and what to write. The treasure was entrusted to earthen vessels, yet it is, nonetheless, from Heaven. The testimony is conveyed through the imperfect expression of human language, yet it is the testimony of God; and the obedient, believing child of God beholds in it the glory of a divine power, full of grace and truth. 

In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience. ?Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.? 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, R.V.

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How Majestic

God speaks to me through creation and plants poetry under my tongue. He speaks when I look up at the stars on crispy nights and stroll through my wildflower garden under the September sun. In no better place do I find the fingerprints of God as clearly as in the natural world. 

The more I take pleasure in the wonder of creation, the more I am convinced of God's sovereignty. God doesn't just speak through the order and design we find in creation but also through the outstanding beauty that surrounds us. Nature doesn't just corroborate God's existence; it also proves that our Creator is indeed an artist without peer. It is no wonder the beloved nature-lover king of Israel, David, was able to write such inspiring compositions (Psalm 19:1):

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

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His Warning

Legalistic religious beliefs have frequently gotten in the way of the spreading of the gospel, especially when one group feels superior to another. Jesus was often involved in controversies with the Pharisees and scribes due to their religious traditions and interpretations, which they placed above the commandments of God. Even now, some choose purity over mercy, denying access to God for those who don?t seem to qualify. Jesus often denounced those who were tithing the mint and dill and yet neglected mercy, exposing the burden of a pharisaical religion (see Matthew 23). If you have felt the pain of pharisaical oppression, may God grant you His healing. Jesus condemned lack of mercy (Matthew 12:7). He even said that publicans and prostitutes were getting into the kingdom of God ahead of those who were not aware of their own need for a Savior (see Matthew 21:31).

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The Literal Week

Today geologists claim to find evidence in the earth that it is much older than the Bible says and that people were much larger and more powerful than we think. It is true that in the days of Noah, people, animals, and trees were much larger. God intended that this evidence would be uncovered to confirm the faith of those who believe the Bible.

Some suggest that creation was the result of natural causes and that the planet and the human race evolved from nothing; even some Christians believe this. This approach makes the Bible seem unreliable and contradicts Scripture. Others go a step further and deny the existence of God and become atheists or agnostics. They believe there are fixed laws of nature that even God can?t interfere with.

However, God created everything, and true science will eventually be in harmony with what the Bible says. No matter how intelligent men are, they are unable to solve all the mysteries of nature, and they certainly cannot understand everything that God does. The intricacies of nature testify that things did not just happen by chance but that God created everything.

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A Message Worth Sharing

The Sabbath speaks of a Creator?s care and a Redeemer?s love. It reminds us that we are not cosmic orphans on this spinning globe of rock. It points us to a Creator who created us with a purpose and loved us too much to abandon us when we drifted from that purpose. The Sabbath reminds us of the One who has provided all the good things of life. Sabbath is an eternal symbol of our rest in Him.

True Sabbath rest is the rest of grace in the loving arms of the One who created us, the One who redeemed us, and the One who is coming again for us. It is the eternal link between the perfection of Eden in the past and the glory of the new heavens and the new earth in the future. The three angels? messages present the gospel in an end-time setting that meets the heart needs of a postmodern generation, desperate for belonging, identity, community, purpose, fairness, justice, and compassion.

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Why Was Sin Permitted?

The Bible says that God is love, yet history is full of good and evil. How can these two things coexist? It began in heaven when Lucifer, the leading angel, wanted to be like God. Lucifer rebelled against God and Christ, the Son of God. God the Father and His Son had created all beings in the universe, including us.

Lucifer was especially jealous of the Son of God and was determined to take His place. It wasn?t enough that God had given Lucifer a high position in charge of all the other angels. There was no sense of gratitude in his heart. He thought himself the smartest, most beautiful, most important being in heaven. He began to plant seeds of discord among the angels. Some of them believed his lies, and they were ready to accept Lucifer as their leader instead of God.

As a result, God the Father had to remind them about Christ?s true position, which had always been by God?s side. He was one with God before anything was created. The Father was very patient with Lucifer and his bad attitude; if he had humbled himself and apologized, the Father would have given him back his position, but since he refused, he had to be sent out of heaven.

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Sharing the Story of Jesus

Make-believe Christians will never change the world. When Christ dwells in our hearts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, our lives are changed. It is out of the context of a changed life that authentic witness flows.

Witnessing is a task if it is merely a duty or religious obligation. It is delightful if it comes from a heart overflowing with love for Christ, the Redeemer. When we are in love, we enjoy talking about the one we love. This is true of human love and undoubtedly true of divine love. The power of New Testament witnessing was precisely this?believers spontaneously shared a Christ they loved. Witnessing was not a legalistic requirement; it was the heart?s response to Christ?s sacrifice on the cross.

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