Saturday, March 22, 2014

Harmony Day

On Friday, the 21st of March, I was on my way to Aquinas College in Ringwood to tell stories at their Harmony Day festival when the most amazing thing happened. I was riding my motorcycle through the Mullum Mullum Tunnel when the tunnel came to life.

Do you ever sing in the shower? (You know you do!) Have you ever hit a particular note that caused something in the room (usually the walls, because there are so many tiles) to vibrate? If you have ever discovered the resonance frequency of a bathroom, you heard the pitch you we singing double, triple or even quadruple in volume as the room joined you in song. Everything has a natural frequency. Everything.

While travelling in the eastbound tunnel, the combination of vehicles joined together in a rumbling tone that, remarkably, matched the natural frequency of the tunnel. I say this because, wearing an open face helmet, I was there when it happened. The tunnel came to life and began to sing with the collective resonance of the engines around me. It was so loud I have nothing with which to compare it.

It was like being a flea inside the tailpipe of a Harley as the throttle opens.
It was like being a bird inside the largest flute of a massive pipe organ as its foot-petal is pressed.
It was like being a remora clinging to a whale as he breaks into courtship song.
It was, in a word, wonderful!

This blissful resonance frequency created by the collective vehicles in the tunnel, quickly formed itself into the perfect introduction to my story-set for Harmony Day. What is harmony if not the result of multiple things becoming one and achieving heights unreachable before their unity in diversity?

What worth does a tunnel coming to life, singing its guts out, have – if not told as story? Experience only becomes truly meaningful when it is formed into story. It’s meaning becomes full when attached to my story, shared into your story and owned as our story.

And so, I asked the year 10 kids, to imagine if the people of Ringwood said, “What is it about Aquinas College? When that school shows up, things are different – wonderful even. It’s not that they send us one or two students as exceptional examples but that they, as a school, make our community sing.”

Then I told them some stories that, I hope, gave them hooks to hang harmony on.
Story: Jimmy and the Black Dot
Activity: I See an Angel (Video)
Story: Brave Kwame 
Activity: Indoor Rain (Video)

I finished by explaining to the students that at Cultural Infusion we have Harmony Day every day. We empower Australian artists from cultures all around the world to come together in schools and resonate. And as those artists do their thing, one after the other, the students experience the diversity and beauty of the many World cultures represented in Australia. The sum total of the dance, the drums, the singing, the didgeridoo – all the stories told in so many ways – causes Australia to start to sing. It’s like a Harley, a pipe organ, a whale – like a tunnel filled with everything it needs to make a new, beautiful song. And that new song can only begin when we all sing, dance, play and perform in our own unique way.

May you go into the world and be your true self.
May you celebrate the diversity around you.
May you join in the song; and may it be ever so loud.

May you enjoy Harmony Day, every day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

28 Stories - Study 28: Tomorrow's Promise

Fundamental: Death and Resurrection

Bible Story  

“Well,” Moses said, “This is it. God has told me to look at the Promised Land from atop this mountain peak. I have seen it.”
Joshua’s eyebrows furrowed. “What you are hinting at?”
“Hinting?” Moses said. “It’s not a hint. I will obey God. He said to come to this place and look across to the Promised Land. He said this is as close to it as I will get.”
“But, you can barely see anything from here,” Joshua argued. “All I can make out is the outline of walls of a city in the distance.”
“Jericho,” Moses said. “And beyond the Jordan Valley with Jericho, I can see as far as Zoar. I can see from Gilead as far as Dan, and all the land of Naphtali.”
Joshua interrupted, “You can see all that?”
Moses nodded in silence.
Moses laughed. “Wait, I’m not done. My old eyes can see the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev, and more!”
“How?” Joshua asked again. “I mean, I know you’ve got great eyes for someone 120 years old, but what you are describing is impossible for human eyes!”
“I am a seer, Joshua. God shows me what he wants me to see,” Moses said. “Up until now, God has shown me things I will experience with His people. But this time...” Moses’ voice faded away.
Joshua had been suspicious of this journey to the mountain top. Over the past few days Moses had been blessing people left, right and center. He had blessed the people of Israel finishing with:  “How blessed you are, O Israel! Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your protecting shield and your triumphant sword! Your enemies will cringe before you, and you will stomp on their backs!”
The people had cheered at the finish. How could you do anything else? God was truly going to bless His people.
Then, in front of all Israel, Moses laid his hands on Joshua and ordained him as the new leader of God’s People. He blessed Joshua and handed leadership into his hands. Again the people cheered. It seems they had been expecting it as much as Joshua had been fearing it.
“This time,” Moses continued, “I have seen a vision of the future of God’s people without me. They are your people now, Joshua.”
“What are you saying?” Joshua asked, confused.
“You are going back down the mountain to the people, as their leader,” Moses explained. “I will head down the other side of the mountain into the valley of Beth-peor where I will die.”
Joshua stared at his mentor and friend. The words would not come. Finally he managed a squeak, “Die?”
“Yes,” Moses said, matter-of-factly, “God has made it very clear to me that I will not enter the Promised Land. That’s why He sent me up here to look into and throughout the land.”
Joshua folded his arms across his broad chest, “But, forty years ago you sent 12 spies into this very land,” Joshua waved one arm at the land beyond the Jordan. “Are you saying that God would have stopped you at that time?”
“Much has happened since that fateful day,” Moses said. “I have failed many times and I have learned many things.”
“As have we all,” Joshua retorted. He was getting angry. “What’s wrong with God? Why is He so mad at you that He is withholding the land which He promised?”
“It is right that it happens this way, Joshua.”
“How?” Joshua was pacing the mountaintop. “How could it possibly be right that you lead us through that despicable dessert and then, at the doorway of the Promised Land, you are denied entry? How is that right?”
Moses reached out and caught Joshua as he stomped past. He turned the younger man to face him and gripped both shoulders. “Because God has said it, Joshua!” Tears came to the old man’s eyes. “If there is anything you can learn from me, it is this: God alone is God and He is always right. Accept that and all will go well with you.”
Joshua studied the face of the man who had been his spiritual father for four decades. In that face he read so much. There was pain. There was trust. And, most evident of all, there was the presence of God.
“I wish to be as humble as you,” Joshua whispered. “How is it that you can be so at peace with God’s will when it is directed against you?”
“I choose to believe God has something better in mind for me,” Moses said.
“Better than the Promised Land?” Joshua explored Moses’ face.
“Yes,” Moses said. “Better than anything this dying world can offer an old man like me.”
“Have you been shown this?” Joshua leaned in, excited.
Moses shook his head from side to side, “No, not this time. The last thing I saw with a seer’s eyes was the land which you will now enter. But, I believe that God has a land awaiting us all where sin, sorrow and death are no longer at work.”
“A place like Eden?” Joshua asked, recalling the stories of their ancestors. “A place where the lamb nestles into the chest of the lion for a mid-day nap?”
Moses’ eyes filled with tears of joy, “Yes, my boy! A place where one’s lifetime makes my 120 years like a mere blink of an eye.”
“And this place comes after death?” Joshua asked.
Moses nodded and then gestured to the river. “Lead God’s people into the Promised land.” Then after a pause, he added, “I’ll see you on the other side.”
Joshua smiled at the thought.
The two men embraced and then walked down different sides of the same mountain.

My Reflection

Imagine being Moses and seeing the Promised Land but knowing that you would not be allowed to enter it. How would you feel? Could you be as humble as Moses?

Imagine being Joshua. What would it be like to lead people into the unknown after following a leader as great as Moses?

My Story

Have you ever spent time with someone as they neared the end of their life? What emotions did you go through during that time? What impact did their view of the afterlife have on them and on you? (If you have not had someone close to you die, try to imagine what it would be like).

Have you ever known someone who has a humble passionate faith in the goodness and righteousness of God? What was that person like? What impact did that person have on others?

How does the hope of life beyond the grave help you in your daily life?

My Assurance

Death is one of the unnerving certainties of life. What hope and comfort to these verses give you?

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 ~ The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.

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.

My Commitment

Ultimate trust should only be invested in someone who can always come through. Because Jesus has power over death, we can trust Him! What do these verses challenge you to consider?

Psalm 146:3-4 ~ Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ~ And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

John 5:28-29 ~ Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

My Outlook

It is hard to imagine a life beyond or without death. How do these verses help you to see God, life and your own future differently?

1 Timothy 6:15-16 ~ For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

Colossians 3:4 ~ And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

1 Corinthians 15:54 ~ 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 26th 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?

Death and Resurrection

The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.

Bible Story

The Stories of Moses’ death and Joshua’s empowerment are found in Deuteronomy 32-34 and Joshua 1.

Further Reading

John 11:11-14, Revelation 20:1-10

Friday, March 14, 2014

28 Stories - Study 27: Pillars of Presence

Fundamental: God the Holy Spirit

Bible Story 

Moses stood next to Joshua, looking into the Promised Land from their mountain-top vantage point. They had been through a lot together in the past 40 years. Now it was time to hand the leadership of this people -— God’s people -— to the man who God had chosen to lead them into their next phase of reality.
“Why can’t you come with us,” Joshua said, trying to understand the reason Moses had been given from the Lord.
“I’ve already told you, Joshua.” Moses turned and placed his age-spotted hands on the younger man’s shoulders. “I have run the race set before me. God has called you to lead the people into the land of promise. My steps end on this mountain.”
“How will I do it,” Joshua paused to regain his composure, “without you?”
Moses’ face smiled with wisdom, “God is always with us, Joshua, always has been, always will be.”
“You have always been with us,” Joshua said. “God speaks to you. All that we have done, all that we have become is because of your conversations with God. Without you...” a look of terror filled his eyes, “without you, we have no one to tell us God’s words!”
“I am not the only mouthpiece for the Lord!” Moses said. “I am barely worthy of such an honor. Another will be chosen, just as you have been chosen to lead.”
“How am I to lead?” Joshua asked. “How will I know which way to go, when to attack and when to run?”
“God will go with you,” Moses answered. “You have seen Him lead us through this barren desert. The Lord went ahead of us. He guided us during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed us to travel by day or by night. He will remain with the people when I am gone!”
“I remember the first time we saw the pillar of God’s presence,” Joshua said smiling at the memory.
“What is it that you remember?” Moses prodded.
“We were trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching armies of Egypt.”
“That seems like a lifetime ago,” Moses interjected.
“Yes,” Joshua continued, “and then a massive cloud appeared and blocked the view. We couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see us.”
“And then God opened the waters,” Moses closed his eyes visualizing the story he had told a thousand times to the children who were born afterward.
Joshua continued, “The cloud became fire on our side, providing light and cloud on the Egyptian side blocking their view of us. As the cloud moved along behind us, revealing the path we had taken, Pharaoh’s men rushed madly into the open sea corridor.”
Moses couldn’t help interrupting, “But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion.”
“That’s right,” Joshua said, rubbing his hands together. “Their axles bent, wheels came off, horses went crazy. And then the water closed over them.”
Silence overtook the two men as, lost in the memory of God’s leading in the past, they peered across the Jordan into the land God promised as their future.
“That same God,” Moses said seriously, “will be your guard and your guide in the new land. Just as he came to speak to me in the Sanctuary, so he will come to speak to you.”
“I am unworthy,” Joshua said.
“None are worthy but God himself,” Moses said.
“I remember the cloud hovering at the door of the sanctuary as God spoke to you,” Joshua said.
“So many conversations,” Moses remembered. “So much joy.”
“Your face would glow for days after each encounter!” Joshua said. “It was as if God lived within you.”
“I believe He does,” Moses said. “And within you. It is God’s desire to have His Spirit live within each of us. Just as the cloud of His presence would hover above the Sanctuary  -— as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night -— so God’s Holy Spirit wishes to hover above and within each of us.”
Joshua considered this thought for sometime before responding. “If that were the case, then we would know when to move and when to stand still.”
“How so?” Moses asked.
“The pillar that hovered above the Sanctuary in the heart of our camp stayed put when we were to stay in one place and it moved away from the Sanctuary when we were to follow it.”
“Keep going,” Moses invited.
“Well,” Joshua was getting excited, “If God’s Spirit lives within our heart, then we should be able to feel when it moves. If we are required to stay still, we should feel a sense of wellbeing in our resting. And if we are to move, we should do so because we feel the Spirit moving, thus tugging us along after it!”
“Sounds like you’ve got a plan,” Moses said. “Just make sure your relationship with God stays strong.”
“Do you think we could loose the connection?” Joshua wondered aloud.
“God has chosen us,” Moses said. “But He also allows us the freedom to choose Him.”
“Will the pillars of God’s presence always guide us, as they have these past forty years?” Joshua asked.
“I don’t know,” Moses said. “But what I do know is that God will always be with His people and He will always send His Spirit to lead them into His will.”
The silence returned and lingered as the two men peered longingly into the Promised Land, both lost in their pondering of God’s leading -— past, present and future.

My Reflection

What do you think Moses would have been thinking as he stared into the Promised Land?

What about Joshua, what might he have been thinking?

Imagine being God. Do you think the transitions from one leader to the next are difficult for God? Do you think He grows attached? Does He get excited about the relationship with the new leader? What might that be like?

My Story

Would you like a pillar of fire or cloud to lead you? Can you imagine a time when it would be a blessing? What about a time when it would be frustrating?

Have you had a time when you felt God leading in your life  — a time when the pillar of presence moved or stayed you —  and you followed that leading? Tell that story.

My Assurance

God has been present and leading His people since the beginning of time in the form of the Holy Spirit. How do these verses give you assurance that the same God who lead Moses through the desert will lead you in your life?

Genesis 1:1-2 ~ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

2 Peter 1:20-21 ~ Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

John 14:16-18 ~ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

John 14:26 ~ But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

My Commitment

When Jesus declared His mission on Earth he was very specific. Before returning to Heaven, he handed that mission on to His followers. What is that mission? How are we to fulfill it? By what power?

Luke 4:14-21 ~ Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Acts 1:8 ~ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

My Outlook

The same Holy Spirit which was present and active at Jesus’ birth and baptism is now active in our lives. What do these verses tell us about the impact the Holy Spirit should have on this world through us? What effect would a people “like Jesus” filled with the Holy Spirit have on planet Earth?

Luke 1:35 ~ The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Acts 10:38 ~ And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ~ So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

John 16:7-9, 13 ~ It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. ... “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

My Response

The following statement is the 5th 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?

God the Holy Spirit

God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.

Bible Story

The story of the Holy Spirit in the form of a pillar of cloud and fire is found in Exodus 13 and 14, Numbers 9, 12 and 14, Deuteronomy 1 and 31.

Further Reading

John 15:26-27

Friday, March 07, 2014

28 Stories - Study 26: 40 Years in the Desert

Fundamental: The Millennium and the End of Sin

Bible Story   

As Moses made his way back up the mountain, he rehearsed what he would say to God, “The people make me so angry! I didn’t mean to break the stone tablets you gave me. I am so sorry. Please forgive me!”
When he finally arrived at the place where they had met last time, he waited, hoping he was still acceptable to God.
Finally, a quiet voice came from all around Moses, “Welcome back.” It really sounded like the rock, the air, the sky and the ground were each responsible for the voice. It came from everywhere. It seemed as if even his own body was generating the sound. “You broke my law, Moses.”
“Yes, Lord. I am so-”
“I’ve heard it already,” God interrupted. “You’ve been apologising over and over the entire time you’ve been climbing the mountain!”
“You were listening?”
A deep rumble caused a few pebbles to vibrate off of a ledge above Moses. “Yes,” God was laughing. “Yes, of course I was listening! It is impossible for me not to hear the cries of my people—whether they come from the heart or the tongue. I hear everything! I am the Creator, after all.”
There was a long pause before Moses spoke. “They just make me so angry! Why did they make that calf? They knew I would come back from visiting you! Why would they worship a golden image from Egypt? What did Egypt ever do for them? Don’t they remember being slaves?”
“You have many questions, my child,” God said. “Know this, you are not alone in your anger. Their actions anger me, often. Even I, at times, need reminding of my own grace!”
Moses knew exactly what God was talking about, “Well, you did threaten to destroy every last one of them! I had to say something! I couldn’t believe that you would rescue us all from slavery and then, in a moment of explosive anger, obliterate us!”
“So you said,” God responded. “And I listened.”
“Were you really going to destroy them?”
“What do you think?”
“You promised to take us to a beautiful land,” Moses was thinking out loud, “and if you destroyed us, you would have broken your promise—or at least been unable to fulfill it.”
“It would seem you have answered your own question,” God replied, “and quieted your own doubting heart. Now, You need to chisel a couple of new tablets out of the rock wall next to you.”
“But,” Moses said, “Last time you-”
“Yes, but you broke those tablets,” God reminded. “We often value that which we create with our own hands and by the sweat of our own brow. So, this time, you will make them!”
Moses nodded his head in agreement. He turned to the wall and began working. As he chiseled away, he continued talking to God. “How can they be so forgetful?”
“How can the Israelites forget so easily?” Moses clarified. “You parted the waters of the Red Sea as Egypt’s armies were baring down on us. We ran headlong into that impossible corridor of wet-walled dry-grounded sea-that-was-no-more and out the other side!” A chip of stone flew over Moses’ head as he took his anger out on the cliff side. “How can they forget and go back to the useless God’s of their captors?”
“The Egyptian gods were all they knew,” God said. “Well, all they had been told of, anyway. I was with them through every brick, every whip and every generation.”
“What about the Manna? They even complained about food falling from the sky—in the desert, free food! Delicious food.”
Moses gently took one stone slab and set it on a large rock. “That’s one done,” he said and returned to the wall to claim another tablet from its stony flesh.
“Meat! They wanted meat.” Moses laughed. “That was hilarious. They asked for meat and when you gave it to them—or failed to stop giving it to them, to be more precise—They didn’t know what to do. They were knee high in quail until even the thought of meat made them sick!”
“You have a good memory,” God said.
“Lot’s of good memories,” Moses answered. “Great memories, because you were there with me. When they feel unsure or alone, why can’t the people look back and remember all you have done?” Moses worked in silence for a while and then turned, another tablet in his hands.
As he placed it on the rock next to the first one, God spoke, “The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”
Moses threw himself to the ground and worshiped. At hearing God declare his name and purpose, worship was the only response imaginable. As he worshiped, Moses prayed, “Oh Lord, if I have found favor with you, please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.”
 God replied, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you. I will perform miracles never performed anywhere on earth. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord—the awesome power I will display. But listen carefully to everything I command you today. Then I will go ahead of you and drive out every person who fails to believe in Me—the one true God.”
Then God wrote the terms of the covenant between Him and his people—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets Moses had prepared.

My Reflection

Why do you think it was so easy for the Israelites to forget the miracles that God had done for them?

How do you think Moses felt when he got so angry he broke the first tablets? Do you think that situation helped him understand God better? How?

If you were Moses on that mountaintop, and you could tell God anything or ask Him any question, what would you have said?

My Story

When we get to Heaven, God is going to let us explore the record books. We will be able to ask any question, explore any topic or person’s life we wish. Can you think of any time in your life that you would like to understand better? Is there a time when you wondered what God was doing?

God has done things that we do not understand and failed to do things we are sure he should have done. During the millennium (1,000 years in Heaven) we are going to be able to explore God’s actions and intentions. What situation from before you were born (as far back as you want to go) would you like to understand better and know how God was involved?

Moses discovered that, although he had experienced God’s tremendous anger, God was merciful and just. Do you think we will discover the same thing during our 1,000-year research project? Why do you think God gives us 1,000 years for this task?

My Assurance

The spiritual world, unseen to us right now, will go through extreme changes after Jesus’ second coming. What do these verses tell you about the changes that will take place during the millennium?

Revelation 20:1-3 ~ Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished.

Malachi 4:1 ~ The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.

My Commitment

Just as God has given us a part to play in sharing the Gospel with the world, we will also have responsibilities after His return. What do these verses tell you about our involvement during the 1000 years in heaven? How do they challenge you today?

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 ~ Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

Ezekiel 28:18-19 ~ You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.

My Outlook

During the thousand years while God’s people are in Heaven, this world will be a desolate heap of rubble. Then it will be made new. What do these verses tell you about the way the earth will look and feel during and after the millennium?

Jeremiah 4:23-26 ~ I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light. I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook. I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.

Revelation 21:1-5 ~ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

My Response

The following statement is the 27th 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 Millennium and the End of Sin

The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.

Bible Story

The story of Moses spending 40 days with God and receiving the second set of stone tablets is found in Exodus 34. The rest of the stories referred to are from various places in Exodus.

Further Reading

Revelation 20. 

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,...