28 Stories - Study 21: A Dragon's View

Fundamental: Great Controversy

Bible Story   

An ear-piercing scream erupted from the surface of the moon and tearing through time and space, demanded the attention of the universe.
Flapping huge sinewy wings, the unearthly demon propelled itself toward the moon—and the source of the scream. It was huge—a red dragon with seven angry heads-—a hideous beast.
On the surface of the moon, a woman clothed in the light of the sun and wearing a crown of twelve stars, screamed again in childbirth.
The dragon flapped its wings and opened its seven mouths, the sun glistening off razor-sharp teeth. A mighty bellow burst from the dragon in a dissonant chord of seven demonic voices. Landing on the moon, the dragon ran toward the woman. Its seven mouths gaped, each intent on being the first to devour the new baby.
The woman, standing in a crouched position, released a final scream of desperation and the baby fell onto the hard surface of the moon.
The dragon, running at top speed, lowered its heads to catch the baby. It began to rumble in a cross between a laugh and a growl. Fourteen rows of razor-sharp teeth snarled. Talons clawed at the ground—propelling the red demon faster and faster.
The woman, still in pain, reached toward her baby. The dragon’s heads each swiveled in to catch the child before the woman. Then a huge hand came out of nowhere and snatched the baby.
The seven dragonheads flung skyward as the hand—and the baby—shot into the stars. The woman’s gaze went to the same point in the sky. The surface of the moon began to shake as the dragon worked up enough speed to launch itself into the sky. With two great flaps of its leathery crimson wings the dragon left the surface of the moon in hot pursuit of the hand—and the baby.
Heaven, in all its glory, grew in size as the hand and the dragon approached. As the hand arrived in Heaven, Michael stood in the palm—a grown man—holding a sword. Raising the sword above his head, he shouted, “Come to arms, children of the light!”
The Dragon flapped its wings with new resolve. It too could see the kingdom of gold. There was a reflection in the dragon’s eye—himself, sitting on a golden throne.
Michael was now standing in front of the glorious city—his huge sword radiating hot-white light. Lined up on both sides of Him, thousands of angels—covered in light—held swords of their own.
The dragon was about to land when a wooshing noise shot past—then another and another. Woosh. Woosh. Woosh. They were hard to see—woosh—only visible against the shining light of the city—woosh, woosh—dark beings, angels in black. The dragon and its evil minions landed together as a mighty army of darkness—at once beginning to fight against Michael and His angels. And there was war in Heaven.
The dark army was largely out numbered—three to one. The battle raged for a very long time. Finally, all but one of the dark beings had been pushed out of Heaven.
Michael faced the dragon with new resolve. The dragon lunged and attacked with seven heads at once. Michael stepped under the heads and drove his sword into the heavily plated chest of the dragon. The force of the blow propelled the beast backward a few steps.
The dragon teetered at the edge of Heaven. Its taloned feet clawed the ground trying to regain a foothold. Seven sets of draconic eyes fixed on Michael who stood, breathing heavily, leaning on His sword as if it were a walking stick. He watched as the dragon struggled to get a grip on Heaven. But, it was not to be. The dragon fell.
Like a lead weight dropped from the top of a building, the dragon plummeted toward the Earth. Stars rushed past like well-lit windows on a midnight expressway. The moon approached and rushed past.
The dragon wasn’t flying. It was more like it had been thrown at great speed. It’s wings flailed as it tried to right itself—too late. With a bone shattering, wing-snapping, teeth-grinding thud the dragon smashed into the dessert.
The Earthbound dragon climbed out of the crater created by the impact, only to see the woman walking away from him. He erupted with a thunderous roar that shook the desert.
The woman ran. She didn’t stand a chance. The dragon clawed the ground as he ran after her. As he gained on the woman, she leapt into the air, two huge wings sprouting from her back. The dragon leapt up, flying behind her.
Taking seven huge breaths at once, the dragon released a torrent of water from each mouth. The streams joined together to make a tsunami in the desert. The huge wave rushed toward the woman, dwarfing her in its impressive shadow.
A tremendous earthquake shook the desert floor creating a massive network of cracks and chasms. The water plummeted into the thirsty ground and gurgled into silence.
The woman had vanished—hidden by the same hand that protected the baby. The dragon landed and searched the chasm that had inhaled the tidal wave. In frustrated anger one of the dragon’s heads bit another. That head took a bite back. Soon the dragon was engaged in all out war on itself, necks intertwining, razor sharp teeth snapping.
Finally the dragon stilled and quizzically stared into the distance, beyond the desert, through time itself. Taking a couple of unsure steps in our direction, all seven heads scanned the ground, confident there was something in the desert dust not far away. The heads rose as one, with new resolve. This old Earth wasn’t barren after all.
The great red dragon-—focusing on your scent and mine—charged, it’s huge claws indiscriminately throwing clouds of sand to the left and the right.

My Reflection

What happened to your attention level when you read that the dragon smelled you and is running toward you? Did the story take on new importance? Why?

What do you think it would be like if we could physically see all the spiritual warfare that is going on around us between good and evil?

My Story

Have you had an experience where something that you thought was only affecting other people started to affect you? How did it change your interest and involvement in the situation?

On TV we see things like starving children, earthquakes, murders and more. What does it take to make those things “out there” become things “in here” in your heart?


My Assurance

For thousands of years the battle between good and evil, God and Satan, has raged on our little planet and the core concept from day one has been choice. God always gives the freedom of choice to His creatures. What do these verses tell us about the choices made by humanity and God?

Genesis 3:6-7 ~ The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.

Romans 1:20 ~ ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Romans 5:15 ~ There is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

My Commitment

When humanity chooses to go it’s own way, things come undone. What do these verses tell us about the results of ignoring God and His leadership? What commitment does it cause you to want to make in your life?

Ezekiel 28:17 ~ Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.

Romans 1:28-32 ~ Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 5:17-18 ~ For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

My Outlook

We can see a lot of good and a lot of evil happening around us every day, but there is much more happening at a spiritual level. How do these verses help you to see the cosmic conflict going on behind the scenes of our world?

Revelation 12: 7-9 ~ Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

Romans 1:25 ~ They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!

Romans 5:20-21 ~ God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My Response

The following statement is the 8th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Great Controversy

All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the worldwide flood. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation.

Bible Story

The story of the Great Controversy between Michael and the Dragon can be found in Revelation 12.

Further Reading

Revelation 12, Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:12-18, Genesis 3, Romans 8:19-22, Genesis 6-8, 2 Peter 3:6, Hebrews 1:14, 1 Corinthians 4:9.

Restory Life

It has been said that we each have a book inside us.
Many of us have short stories busting out of the seams of our lives.
This section is for my friends, those of you who are restorying life.


Lonely and Misunderstood by Janet
An Everyday Miracle by Grace


If you've got a short story busting to get out, send it to me. I'd be glad to edit it and pop it up on the "Restory Life" section of my blog.
The only criteria is that it needs to make me want to live a better life.
Subjective? Yup. But it's my blog! Lol
I would also like a pic of you, to put a story to the face.
If you are under 18,  we will need to arrange permission from your parents.
That's about all the rulish mumbo-jumbo!

Restory life! (you know you want to)

An Everyday Miracle

by Grace
a "Restory Life" post

“It’s a boy!” The doctor cried. Darren wiped the sweat gently off Lindsay’s forehead and looked into her deep brown eyes.

“We have a son! A baby boy!” Darren exclaimed. The doctor placed the tiny bundle of joy in Darren’s arms. He squeezed Lindsay’s hand and crouched down so that she could see her baby. The tiny little human was wrapped in a soft blue blanket. Tears rolled down Lindsay’s shiny, sweaty cheeks.

“What are we going to call him? Joshua or David?” Darren asked. Lindsay put her finger in the baby’s hand and his tiny fingers wrapped around it.

“Joshua.” Lindsay said smiling.

“Hey Joshua…hey buddy.” Darren said as he cradled the tiny baby. Joshua’s eyes were tightly shut and his skin was covered in blood and fluid. The tiny thing had barely any hair. Joshua’s nose was very small and round and his mouth was slightly open.

Darren couldn’t believe it. His own tiny human to raise into a man. Now he knew what his father felt like when he and his sisters were born. He thought of all the things he and Joshua could do together when Joshua was a bit older; build tree houses, play tag, teach him to ride a bike, play sports with him. Darren smiled. It was a new adventure; raising a tiny human. It was something he’d never done before. He was afraid. Afraid to get things wrong. Darren had no idea how to change nappies and feed a baby, but he knew that before long, he would become an expert.

Darren cradled Joshua for a while longer before he passed the baby to Lindsay. Lindsay reached out and gingerly took her newborn son from Darren. Lindsay smiled and stroked Joshua’s soft cheeks. He was so small. His head fit easily in the palm of her hand and the rest of his body layed gently on top of her forearm. She looked at Joshua, the tiny boy, the small bundle of giggles, gurgles and happiness. Lindsay couldn’t believe that she was his mother. Everything felt so surreal to Lindsay. She’d never been a mother before. What if she wasn’t good enough? What if she couldn’t bring up Joshua right and he ended up hating her.

Lindsay shook her head. ‘No.’ she thought. She wouldn’t let that happen to her and her son. Lindsay was very nervous and scared about bringing her first baby home. She didn’t know how to breast feed, she didn’t know how to understand what her baby was crying about; Lindsay didn’t even know how to change a nappy properly. She sighed. She knew she’d work it out, there was still that doubt but she knew she could bring up her baby with the help of Darren. It was the best job in the world to share.
Parenthood. The start of something new. Something wonderful. A new life to share between the three of them. Darren and Lindsay were both excited and yet terrified.

Over the years Joshua grew. He had his first teeth and he started to walk. He learnt to ride a bike and he started to go to school. Darren and Lindsay worked hard and cared for Joshua as best they could.
When Joshua was 8 years old and in the second grade, Lindsay had her second child. A girl. Her name was Jemima. Jemima was very different to Joshua. Darren and Lindsay found it a lot easier to care for her because they’d been through it once before with Joshua. Joshua brought Jemima to school for show and tell. All of his classmates ‘Ohhhhed’ and ‘Ahhhhhed’ and the girls played with Jemima until Lindsay had to take her home for a nap. Joshua felt great being the centre of attention in his class because at home, Jemima was all anyone made a fuss about.

One day when Jemima was only a week old, the doorbell rang. Joshua tore towards the door. He always tried to beat his daddy to the door. It had become so much easier to beet daddy ever since he was so busy playing with Jemima. Joshua opened the door and his grandparents were there.

“Where is our new family member?” Granny asked as the two of them walked straight through the door, right past Joshua. Joshua felt very left out but his Grandpa made an effort to cheer him up by taking him out to play baseball.

Joshua got more upset as the years passed. Jemima was always the centre of attention because she was cute and little. Lindsay and Darren had no idea that they were half ignoring Joshua because between looking after Jemima and work, they were both so tired and slept a lot instead of playing with Joshua like they used to.

Joshua was 15 and things hadn’t changed much. He would always get in trouble when Jemima did something wrong. Jemima was 7. She understood a lot more now. She was scared of Joshua though. He never played with her, he was always angry and he never wanted to speak to her. Jemima wondered what she had done wrong.

Lindsay and Darren called Joshua into his room one day that year. They could both see that he was growing bitter, angry and arrogant. Darren tried to understand what Joshua was going through but he was the youngest child in his family, so he didn’t really know how Joshua felt. Lindsay on the other hand thought that it was just a phase that Joshua was going through and she decided to just wait for the time when it passed.

Joshua felt like no one was on his side. His parents never listened to him, he thought. They never gave him recognition when he got good grades in school, but when Jemima got a B+ or something, they would praise her more and more. Joshua knew that Jemima loved the praise, but he needed praise and love from his parents too.

A week later Joshua was teased at school when he accidentally mixed up his books and brought a fairy book of Jemima’s to school. Joshua went home very angry that day. Lindsay and Darren tried to find out what was wrong but it only turned into a fight and Joshua felt terrible.

That night Joshua packed a back pack with all his favourite things; his card collection, some of his clothes, a blanket and some food and water. Joshua climbed out his window and ran off into the darkness.

“Lindsay! Joshua ran away!” Darren called in the morning as he rushed down the stairs with a handwritten note from Joshua.

I hate it here.
You never pay attention to me.
I just want to be left alone now.
Goodbye.

Lindsay cried and Jemima gulped. She was scared for her brother. They were ALL scared for Joshua. He was all alone out in the big wide world. Lindsay and Darren were mad at themselves for being so focussed on Jemima that they forgot that they had two children, not just the one.

Lindsay and Jemima waited at home while Darren went out with the police looking for his boy. Lindsay cried in her bed for a long time. She went over everything that she could have possibly done to prevent this from happening. Jemima played with her dolls for most of the day. Every game ended up with one of her dollies getting angry and running away.

“DING DONG!” Jemima jumped up from the table when she heard the doorbell ring. Lindsay walked over and was greeted by the sight of her son. He was home safe and sound. He was dirty and sweaty but he looked perfectly fine.

Joshua was surprised when his mother ran towards him with open arms and squeezed the life out of him. He felt loved for once.

Joshua grew up more as time went on. Lindsay and Darren got much better at showing they loved him and Joshua became happier and calmer. They still had their ups and downs, arguments and celebrations but things ran more smoothly.

Joshua fell in love when he was 23 years old. Georgia Hawking was a pretty girl with dark hair and fair skin but she had a lovely personality. Joshua was only seven months older than Georgia but Georgia was very mature. She was a medical trainee and Joshua was studying to be a doctor. The two of them attended a number of classes together and spent a lot of time studying together. Joshua and Georgia started a relationship together later on that year. On Georgia’s 24th birthday Joshua gave her the gift of an engagement ring and she happily said yes.

Joshua looked at himself in the full length mirror and adjusted his tie. He had to admit that he looked pretty good in his wedding suit. Joshua felt like the luckiest man on earth. He wondered what Georgia looked like. She always looked beautiful but he felt like she was going to look extra specially gorgeous today.

“Josh,” Darren passed through the room beaming, “It’s time.”

Joshua stood at the end of the aisle smiling. The music played. The sun was streaming in through the windows. The light glinted off his father’s glasses and his mother’s tears that streamed down her face from the front row.

Georgia’s sisters and Jemima were the maids and flower girls. They slowly walked down the aisle. Joshua soaked in the stunning sight as Georgia appeared down the end of the hall. Her hair was curled down the side of her face. She had very natural makeup on and her dress shone like the sun. Her eyes sparkled and her smile lit up her face.

The wedding went very fast for Joshua and before he knew it they were married and off on their honeymoon. Ten months later, Joshua and Georgia were in the same hospital that Joshua’s parents were twenty seven years earlier. Except this time, Georgia was having twins.


Both survived. Two tiny baby girls. Joshua finally felt like a man. He knew what his father felt like when he and Jemima were born. He had his own tiny humans to raise and bring up right. He and Georgia both knew it wouldn’t be easy. It never is. The vomit, the nappy changing, the tears, the long nights with no sleep, always being worried that your child is in some kind of danger. Parenthood is hard; but it is the most rewarding job anyone will ever undertake. Raising tiny humans to have manners, to be kind to one another, to work hard and to learn the meaning of life is never easy. Those who choose to take this mission, this adventure, this new way of life, these people are courageous, brave, patient and strong. They are our everyday miracle in the world.


--------


My name is Grace. I am sixteen years old and I wrote my first short story in year two. I love school, especially English and when I finish school I want to be so many things. I want to be a teacher, a singer, a writer, a journalist, an artist, a fire fighter and a detective. I know I can't be all of those all at once so I use my imagination in my stories to dream and take me to places I have never been. You can be anything you want if you only use your imagination.


28 Stories - Study 20: Granting Forgiveness

Fundamental: The Second Coming of Christ

Bible Story 

News of Joseph’s joy soon reached the ears of Pharaoh. Everyone who knew Joseph was thrilled at his good fortune. Pharaoh sent a message, “Tell your brothers, ‘This is what you must do: Load your pack animals, and hurry back to the land of Canaan. Then get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces.”
It was more than Joseph or his brothers could have ever dreamed. “Go tell Father,” Joseph said, “God has made me Lord of all Egypt! Please bring Father here, quickly!”
Joseph spoke to his brothers into the wee hours of the night, recounting the things that had happened to him since he was sold into slavery. Some of the stories were difficult to tell, and brought tears to every eye in the room, as they all recognised how involved God had been in each step of the journey. Many of the stories Joseph had previously told as tales of woe were now tales of wonder at the awesome power and foresight of their mighty God.
While telling his own story, Joseph would interrupt himself asking his brothers to tell of their lives and the land he so fondly remembered. Every so often, the conversation would stop and the brothers would just stare at each other. Is this really happening? The famine ravaging the land had dominated their every thought over the last couple of years. And yet now, it was hardly even present in their thinking. They were moving to Egypt where they would be treated like kings—or the brothers of one, anyway!
The next morning, Joseph sent his brothers on their way in new wagons with enough provisions for the journey home and the return trip. He personally gave each brother a new set of clothes. When he came to Benjamin, he couldn’t help himself, and gave him five sets of clothes and 300 pieces of silver.
Usually when you are thinking special thoughts of someone, you send a gift basket. But Joseph had bigger and better things in mind for his father. He sent 10 male donkeys loaded with Egypt’s finest products and 10 female donkeys loaded with grain and bread.
As he farewelled the eleven, he couldn’t hold in a little brotherly jibe, “Hey guys, don’t slow yourselves too much by fighting on the way home!” He wanted them to get there quickly and in good spirits. More than anything, he wanted to see his father again.
When they arrived home, the eleven brothers were surrounded by their wives and children. Everyone was so excited to have their dads and husbands home. And everyone was hungry! When they could finally tear themselves away from their loved ones, the brothers regrouped and headed to their father’s tent. Jacob knew they were home but he knew they would seek him out once they had embraced their families.
As the brothers approached, Jacob visibly relaxed when he saw Benjamin. A smile spread across his face, “Ah, a safe and successful trip! You have all returned to me. Did all go well with the purchase of food?”
The brothers looked at Simeon, the eldest, to allow him the pleasure of telling the good news. He had been playing the conversation over and over in his mind. How would he tell Father they had tricked him all those years ago—lied to him. Joseph hadn’t been killed by wild animals. Joseph’s own brothers had hated him so much they had sold him to slavers. The bloodied coat was just a cover-up. The strategy Simeon decided for telling the news to his father was to get right to the point—jump over the history and the hardships—and tell the good news first!
“Joseph is still alive!” Simeon said, beaming from ear to ear.
Jacob slumped, his knees had lost their strength. Two of the brothers rushed to him and lifted him before he fell.
Benjamin blurted, “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!”
Jacob’s eyes went as big as dinner plates. For his son to be alive was hard enough to believe. But now he knew it was a joke. It was impossible. He accused them of lying but when they repeated everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived and he began to believe them.
For the next few days, as his eleven sons, their wives and his many grand children packed the tents and prepared to move to Egypt, Jacob wandered from one person to the next. No matter who they were or if he had told them before, he repeated, “My son Joseph is still alive! I am going to see him before I die.”
The return journey to Egypt took a lot longer with all the livestock being herded alongside the wagons. Finally they were near enough that Jacob sent Judah ahead to find Joseph and get directions to Goshen.
After sending Judah back to his father with directions, Joseph got in his own chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father. Could it be true? Was he really alive? Was God really this good?
Finally Joseph arrived in Goshen and found his family in the place he had chosen for them. The moment he saw Jacob, Joseph leapt off his chariot and ran to his father. He threw his arms around Jacob and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.”
“Enough of this death talk, father,” Joseph laughed. “There is someone who wants to meet you!” Joseph helped his father into the chariot and they raced back to Egypt.
Joseph gave his father a tour of the great city. The crowds parted and bowed as the chariot worked it’s way through the streets. Eventually, they arrived at Pharaoh’s palace. Joseph introduced his father to Egypt’s monarch. Jacob began and finished the conversation by thanking Pharaoh for his generosity. The short conversation was marked with a deep mutual respect.
Pharaoh watched with wonder as Joseph and Jacob, father and son, walked arm in arm out of his palace.

My Reflection

Imagine you were Joseph. What would it have been like to see your father after all those years? What would you say?

What would it have been like to be Jacob and discover that your son was alive, you were going to meet him and he was in a position powerful enough to provide all the needs of your starving family?

Everyone in this story, upon reflection, would have realised that God had been working behind the scenes the entire time. Would it be easy to reframe the story in your mind from negative to positive? Describe the emotional and spiritual transitions the following people would have gone through: Joseph, Jacob, the brothers.

My Story

Consider a time when you felt forgotten or abandoned. Is it possible that God could have been shaping you for something in the future?

Imagine you discover you are related to someone extremely rich and powerful and they want to give you a new life. What positive and negative things can you imagine in this scenario?

Imagine that today a finely dressed man came to your house and said, “I’m your long-lost brother, here to take you all to a new life. Hop in the Hummer!” What would you do?

My Assurance

Like Joseph with his brothers, Jesus knows our past and chooses to forgive us for those wrongs. Joseph provided his loved ones with food and a place to live. Jesus has provided us with so much more! What do these verses reveal about the presence, power and promise of Jesus in our lives?

Hebrews 9:28 ~ Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

John 14:1-3 ~ Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ~ But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

My Commitment

While Jesus is in Heaven preparing a place for us and is planning to return to claim us, he has a role for us to play. What commitment and action do these texts call us to be involved in?

Matthew 24:14 ~ The good news about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Matthew 24: 43-44 ~ If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ~ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ~ In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

My Outlook

Every day we hear about the failings of planet Earth and her people. The world seems to be unraveling at the seams. Without an understanding of God’s plan and purpose, life can be hopeless. How do the following verses give us a clearer understanding of what is really going on around us and what will soon take place?

Titus 2:13 ~ We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

Mark 13:5-8 ~ Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 ~ For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

My Response

The following statement is the 25th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Second Coming of Christ

The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfilment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Revelation 14:14-20, Revelations 19:11-21, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21

28 Stories - Study 19: Saving Lives

Fundamental: Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary

Bible Story  

Joseph trembled as Pharaoh used his limitless power to transform a slave into a prince. A few snaps of the royal fingers and the interpreter of dreams was living a dream beyond imagination.
Pharaoh spoke loud enough for everyone to hear, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
While only moments before he had been dressed for a dungeon, Joseph now stood attired in Egypt finest-—a silk robe, a gold chain around his neck and the Pharaoh’s own ring of power on his finger.
Pharaoh said, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt. I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.” Just 30 years of age, Joseph was second in command of the most powerful nation on Earth.
Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, a beautiful wife, chariots and servants. Wherever Joseph went, men ran ahead of his chariot shouting, “Make way! Bow down!” Anyone who didn’t know Joseph would have said his rise to power was meteoric and undeserved. And Joseph would have agreed with them. But God knew differently. He had been shaping Joseph for this role since he was a boy. Each step along the way—every dream, every pit, every choice—as painful as it may have been, would now reveal itself as truly necessary and perfectly planned.
Joseph began implementing his taxation strategy throughout Egypt. Storehouses were built in all the cities. The people, enjoying seven years of bumper crops, were required to bring one fifth of every harvest to the storehouses. This was not easy, and the farming people, who lived only thinking of today, complained.
But Joseph, remembering the faith of his ancestors, knew that a double tithe—20 per cent—was the fitting response when a time of blessing was upon you. So, he applied an ancient Hebrew truth to his leadership in Egypt and the storehouses filled.
When the seven years of plenty came to an end, Egypt was ready for what was to come. And it came with a vengeance. The land dried up. The fields stopped growing and the desert took over the lush valleys. The Egyptian people came to the Pharaoh and begged for help. “Go to Joseph,” Pharaoh told them. “Do whatever he tells you to do.”
Joseph’s role as stockpiler of crops now changed to distributor of grace. Any animosity in the hearts of the people from the time of overtaxing was replaced by appreciation as they received their crops back, when they needed them most.
The famine spread beyond the borders of Egypt. Surrounding nations ran out of food and hearing of the storehouses in Egypt, they came. Joseph knew if he gave grain to everyone who needed it there would soon be none left. So, he charged a hefty price for foreign sales. And he put the purchasers through a careful process of scrutiny to ensure they weren’t spies or dishonest business men looking to profit from Egypt’s wise planning.
A group of 10 men arrived one miserably hot afternoon, to buy grain. From a distance Joseph recognised them as Hebrews, his people. And when they drew nearer, Joseph recognised each of the ten travel-weary faces. They were his brothers. The brothers who had mocked him and tore off his special coat. The brothers who had thrown him in a pit. The brothers who had sold him to slavers. The cause of all his suffering. And, he realised with a sudden jolt of astonishment, the reason for every morsel of grain in the storehouses of Egypt.
A desperate struggle began between the heart and head of Joseph. His heart wanted to run to his brothers and embrace them—to tell them how their amazing God had provided this blessing for their family. But his head remembered the selfish nature of these men. Would they try to use and abuse Joseph’s place of power in Egypt? Would they take more grain than they needed and sell it to benefit their own pockets? Were they good men or had their nature worsened with the passage of time?
Joseph decided to test them, just as he would anyone else he suspected of foul play. He knew, dressed in his royal finery, and speaking Egyptian, his brothers would never recognise him.
He called them spies. Oh, how it hurt to accuse his own flesh and blood of evil. He yelled at them in Egyptian. He put Simeon in prison while the others went home to get the youngest brother, to prove they were not spies. And when they returned with Benjamin, it was all he could do to control himself. Benjamin! My little brother! He fed them a banquet because of Benjamin. He couldn’t help himself. He amazed them by seating them by age and then gave Benjamin 5 times as much food as the others. Finally, he arranged one last test, this time setting Benjamin up as a thief. How would they respond? Would they throw Benjamin away like they had Joseph all those years before?
The brothers wept and begged Joseph not to imprison Benjamin. They spoke to each other in Hebrew, “What has God done to us? We are being punished for what we did to Joseph!” Judah told Joseph a story. It was about their father and how much he loved Benjamin. He finished, saying, “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”
Joseph made every Egyptian leave the room. Then, in Hebrew, he cried, “I am Joseph, your brother! Is my father really still alive?” His brothers were unable to take it in. What did this Egyptian lord just say? Our brother? Joseph? Impossible!
Joseph ran to Benjamin and hugged him. Then he turned to his brothers and repeated, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! Do not be angry at yourselves, I forgive you! It was not you who sent me here, but God. God sent me, to prepare for the famine and to preserve a remnant of our people on earth!”

My Reflection

Imagine you were one of the brothers at the moment of Joseph revealing his true identity. What would it have been like to be Simeon, the oldest brother (who had failed to protect the young Joseph in the pit)?

What would it have been like to be Judah, who was now expecting to be a prisoner in Egypt for the rest of his life?

What would it have been like to be Benjamin?

For a very long time, Joseph believed he was a prisoner in Egypt for one reason—because his brothers were mean. What would have been going through Joseph’s heart and mind when he realised that God had sent him to Egypt as a saviour for his people?

My Story

Can you remember a time when you were forgotten or left behind? Tell the story. What happened? How did you feel? What was it like when you were found or reclaimed?

Do you like surprise parties? Have you ever been truly surprised when someone threw one? Have you ever thrown one for someone else?

To the person being celebrated, a surprise party seems sudden and unexpected. To the person throwing the party, there is a lot of planning and preparation involved. The rest of this study is about the longest preparation and best planned party in the universe. Can you guess what it is? (Hint: the preparation is still going on, right now!)

The party is for you! God has spent over 6000 years getting it “just right.” How does that make you feel?

My Assurance

God has a plan for the salvation of humanity. Jesus’ first coming was part of that plan. Jesus’ second coming is also part of that epic plan. What assurance do you gain from these verses about what Jesus did, is doing and will do for the people of Earth?

Hebrews 1:3 ~ The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

Hebrews 9:11, 14, 27-28 ~ So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven . . . Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. . . . And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Revelation 22:12 ~ Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.

My Commitment

Jesus has seen this world and experienced the worst it has to offer. And He has conquered it! He calls us to follow Him and His ways. What do these verses teach us about the nature of God’s people in the days prior to Jesus’ second coming? How are you challenged to live?

Hebrews 4:14-16 ~ So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Revelation 14:6-7 ~ And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

Revelation 14:!2 ~ God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.

My Outlook
God does not want His people to live powerless and broken lives. He offers us access to His great power through the presence of Jesus as our High Priest. This is huge! How do these verses impact the way you see yourself and your place in God’s plan today?

Hebrews 8:1-2 ~ Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

Hebrews 10:19-22 ~ And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.

My Response

The following statement is the 24th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Hebrews 9:11-28, Hebrews 2:16-17, Daniel 7:9-27, Daniel 8:13-14, Daniel 9:24-27, Leviticus 16, Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6, Revelation 20:12

28 Stories - Study 18: Dungeon to Kingdom

Fundamental: Stewardship

Bible Story   

Joseph inserted a key into the door of the jail cell of the King’s cupbearer and baker. The two men had been in prison for quite some time and the three had become close friends.
“Time for breakfast, gentlemen,” Joseph said as he took the plates from the servants behind him and set them on a worn wooden table in the middle of the small cell.
The two men nodded their thanks and came to the table. As Joseph reached the cell door, about to leave, he realised something was making him uncomfortable. Something wasn’t right. Neither of the two men, usually quite friendly, had said a word. He turned around slowly and studied their silent faces as they ate. They seemed somber and perhaps even depressed.
“Why do you look so worried this morning?” Joseph asked, closing the door behind him.
The two men looked up at Joseph then at each other and finally back at their plates, in silence. After some time, the cupbearer spoke, still staring into his plate as if searching for a sign among the scraps of prison food.
“We both had strange dreams last night.”
“Dreaming is not unusual,” Joseph said. “We all have them.”
“Yes,” the cupbearer continued, “we weren't concerned until we realised we had both dreamed much the same thing on the same night. Such dreams are to be feared!”
The baker cut in, “We’ve talked to some of the other prisoners and no-one has a clue what our dreams mean.”
“God alone can interpret dreams,” Joseph said matter-of-factly. “Tell your dreams to me.”
“You start,” the baker said.
“In my dream,” The cupbearer recounted, “I was standing before a fruitless grapevine holding Pharaoh’s empty goblet in my hand. Before my very eyes, grapes grew on three branches of the vine—fat juicy grapes. I picked them, squeezed them into the goblet, walked to Pharaoh and gave him the full goblet.”
Joseph smiled and, in amazement, said, “I understand it!”
“You do?” The two men said in unison.
“Yes,” Joseph said rubbing his hands together excitedly.
The cupbearer rose to his feet. “Well, tell me!"
“The three branches are three days,” Joseph said. “And the rest is your old job, back in action. So,” Joseph paused to get his thoughts and words right, “in three days, you will be restored to your position as Pharaoh’s cupbearer!”
The cupbearer clapped his hands twice and then clasped them to his cheeks as tears of joy ran from his eyes. “Can it be true?” he asked in wonder.
“If it is,” Joseph said seriously, “Please tell my story to Pharaoh. I have been unjustly condemned to a life of imprisonment. Even though I was captured from my homeland and brought here as a slave, I have not been bitter or disobedient. I have served both Potiphar and the jailer with a good nature. And, yet, I am in prison for something of which I am innocent.”
The cupbearer nodded expressively, “I will never forget you, Joseph. I will tell of your honesty, integrity and that you are faithful in both big and small things.”
The baker was standing now, excited about the meaning of his dream. It was so similar to the cupbearers; surely his freedom must be approaching as well. “What about my dream?” he asked. “Listen to mine!”
Joseph turned to the baker and smiled, “Of course! Tell it, and perhaps God will again grace me with understanding.”
“It’s so much like his dream,” the baker said gesturing at the cupbearer, “it must mean the same thing! Ok, here it is: There were three baskets of delicious pastries stacked on my head, the top one was for Pharaoh. As I walked toward the palace, birds dive-bombed me and ate the bread before I could stop them!”
The colour faded from Joseph’s face. He stumbled to the wall and collapsed against it, sliding down it’s cold surface until he sat on the ground.
The cupbearer and baker rushed to his side. They knelt in front him. “Are you alright?” they asked.
Recovering his composure, Joseph looked with anguish at the baker. “It’s not good,” he said. “Not good at all. The three baskets are three days. But that’s where the similarity ends.” Joseph went silent.
“And?” the baker asked. “Will I get out of this jail?”
“Yes,” Joseph said and then in a whisper he added, “Pharaoh will have you impaled on a pole and birds will swoop at you and rip your flesh from your body!”
And it was so. Three days later, on Pharaoh’s birthday, he called for the two men, impaling one and empowering the other.

***

Two long years later the cupbearer remembered Joseph when the Pharaoh needed an interpreter of dreams. Joseph was summoned and listened to the King’s dreams.
“My God has made the meaning of your dreams clear to me,” Joseph said. “Seven years of prosperity approach. Seven years of desperate times—famine in Egypt and beyond—will follow. My advice, great King, is that you employ a wise manager to prepare for the seven lean years by making the most of the seven years of plenty. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land!”
Pharaoh studied the faces of the wise men and officials around his throne room, all of whom had been unable to interpret his dream, “Who is as wise as this man, Joseph?” Pharaoh asked. Then he turned to Joseph, “Through you, the unseen God has revealed our future. For years, you have served faithfully where no one sees. Now, I place all of Egypt in your worthy hands.”

My Reflection

Imagine you were Joseph in prison after the baker and cupbearer were released. The cupbearer promised to tell your story to the most important man in the country! How long would it be before you stopped expecting to be released? How would you have felt?

Imagine the day that the message came: “Pharaoh needs you to interpret a dream for him.” What would you be feeling?

My Story

Have you ever been wrongly accused of something? What happened? How long did it take before your story was heard? How did it end?

Is it easy to do the right thing when you are living in an unjust situation? How do you keep from getting bitter and spiteful? What did Joseph do to keep his attention away from dwelling on the unjust things he couldn’t control?

My Assurance

God has given us all that we need to live. From necessities as basic as air to privileges such as wealth and wisdom. What blessings and promises do these verses reveal?

Genesis 1:26 ~ Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

1 Chronicles 29:14 ~ But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!

Malachi 3:10 ~ Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

My Commitment

In all of life, God expects His blessings to result in a response from us. What commitments do the following verses call from us?

Genesis 2:15 ~ The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

Matthew 23:23 ~ What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

2 Corinthians 8:7 ~ Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.

My Outlook

The interaction between God and His people causes them to see everything with God-tinted lenses. How do these verses help you see your place in this world differently?

Romans 15:26-27 ~ For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially.

Malachi 3:8 ~ “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.”


My Response

The following statement is the 21st of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Stewardship

We are God’s stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God’s ownership by faithful service to Him and our fellow men, and by returning tithes and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victory over selfishness and covetousness. The steward rejoices in the blessings that come to others as a result of his faithfulness.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Genesis 1:26-28, Haggai 1:3-11, 1 Corinthians 9:9-14, 2 Corinthians 8

28 Stories - Study 17: Remember your Roots

Fundamental: Christian Behaviour

Bible Story

The burly soldier shoved two finely dressed men down the cold stone steps into the catacombs beneath Egypt’s busy streets. As he came to the iron gate that locked the world out, he shouted, “Two prisoners, by order of Pharaoh.”
Moments later, a door in the darkness beyond the gate creaked open and quick footsteps advanced up the long corridor. A gust of icy wind blasting from below was followed by a young man dressed in a simple robe.
The soldier shivered as the key went into the lock from inside. The gate swung open. “Two more fine visitors,” the young jail-hand said with a friendly smile.
The soldier grunted, handing over the chain binding the two men. “They disappointed Pharaoh himself,” the soldier said as he braced himself against the chill. “Aren’t you cold, man? You should be wearing a cloak!”
“Cloaks have a tendency to tell lies about me,” the young man said with a laugh. “And the fresh air keeps me awake and busy enough to stay warm.”
“Whatever get’s the job done, eh?” The soldier guffawed.
“Indeed,” the jail-hand replied. “Fare thee well.”
“And you,” the soldier said as the huge gate swung shut, it’s latch clicking loudly. His task complete, the soldier turned and headed up the stairs, back to the free world.
The jail-hand led the two men into the depths of the prison to an office where he unlocked their shackles and gestured for them to sit on a bench. The men, wealthily dressed, certainly weren’t common criminals.
“For the records,” the jail-hand said as he sat behind a small desk facing the two men and unfurled a scroll, “please state your positions in Egypt.”
“I am the King’s baker.”
“And I am the King’s cupbearer.”
The jail-hand scribbled on the scroll and then looked at the men. “I am Joseph. I am a prisoner, just like you.”
The two men exchanged confused glances. The cupbearer spoke, “But you have the keys. You could leave at any time!”
Joseph laughed, “They would catch me and throw me back down here. And then, I’d be here as a criminal. Right now, I'm innocent. I’m as free as I can be without breaking the laws of Egypt or disappointing my God who seems to bless me at every turn.”
“Bless you?” the baker cut in, “But you are a prisoner!”
“Yes I am!” Joseph said. “And even so, the God of my fathers is with me. He blessed me when I served in the house of Potiphar so that I was made manager of the estate.”
The two men, again looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Potiphar was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. To serve as head of his house would be a great honour.
Joseph continued, “And now God has blessed me in this prison causing me to be put in charge of the entire dungeon. I serve the God of my ancestors with humility. Likewise, I serve each earthly master with respect and integrity.”
“I wish we had been so wise,” the cupbearer said. “We let our positions go to our heads and ended up offending Pharaoh. A bit of respect and integrity would have kept us out of this pit.”
Joseph took a slow breath, placed his palms on the desk and leaned toward the two men, “To climb to the top of a mountain, you must start in the valley. This moment may be the lowest you have fallen but it can be the first step of the greatest achievement of your life.”
“Where do you learn such wisdom?” the baker asked.
“My great-grandfather heard the voice of God,” Joseph said. “God found him in the land of Ur and invited him, ‘Abram, walk with me.’ And what a journey they undertook! I don’t hear His voice like my great-grandfather did, but I do my best to walk with God each day by reflecting on the stories of God’s leading in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — my father.”
“You are a Hebrew?” the cupbearer said, tilting his head back.
“Yes,” Joseph said.
“And yet you speak and write Egyptian.”
“One step at a time, my friend,” Joseph said quietly. “This is not the first pit I have been in. I have started many new things. And God has been with me every step of the journey.”
The cupbearer nodded. “You will surely rise to great heights.”
“To rise up, one must be cast down,” Joseph stated. “To be great, one must serve. And to be free, one must obey.”

My Reflection

What would it be like to have such confidence in God?

Imagine the stories you would tell if your grandfather had talked with God. What would it be like to have such a heritage? What other situations can you imagine where you would tell the story?

My Story

Reflect on a time when you hit rock bottom. What was the difference between you and Joseph? Where did Joseph get his strength? Where did you get yours?

Imagine you met someone today who was considering giving up on life. What advice could you give them from your experience? What advise could you offer from the lives of others?

My Assurance

When we accept our identity in Christ, His Spirit moves in our heart and begins working His good will and purpose in our lives. How do the promises in these verses encourage you?

Ephesians 5:8-9 ~ For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

2 Corinthians 6: 16 ~ And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

My Commitment

Amazingly, God chooses to make Himself evident to the World through His disciples. What challenges do these verses present to you?

Romans 12:1-2 ~ And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Ephesians 5:15-17 ~ So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

1 Corinthians 10:31 ~ So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

My Outlook

The way we see our place and purpose in the World directly affects the impact we have. How do the following verses empower you to see yourself as God’s ambassador to the World?

1 John 2:6 ~ Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Ephesians 5:1-2 ~ Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Philippians 4:8 ~ And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

My Response

The following statement is the 22nd of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Christian Behavior

We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Ephesians 5, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 1 Peter 3:1-4, Leviticus 11.

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...