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lesson five

JANUARY 2329

The Controversy

Continues
And I told them of the hand of my God which had been
good upon me, and also of the kings words that he had
spoken to me. So they said, Let us rise up and build. Then
they set their hands to this good work (Neh. 2:18, NKJV).

sabbath
JANUARY 23

Introduction

Matt. 10:33

Hows That Christian Life


Working Out for Ya?

Jesus statement, It is finished (John 19:30) can be confusing. Yet


even so, we can understand that it means the Lord did His part. Understanding what He did at the cross and the power that is available to us
as a result is pivotal to comprehending our role in salvation. When I think
about what Christ did for me, I think of three things: (1) He loved me so
much that He died on the cross, thus raising the value of my life to priceless; (2) when I accept Jesus as my Savior, Satan can no longer accuse
me and get away with it; (3) I have ready access to the power of the Holy
Spirit.

Our role in the great controversy is not a passive one.


Something amazing happens when we act upon what we believe. For
example, by believing in Gods power, David defeated Goliath, Esther
delivered the Jews, and Abraham became the father of many nations.
Standing up for ones beliefs must have been hard in the past. But what
about now? Now we are faced with deceptions so clever that if we are
not abiding in Christ, we will lose battle after battle. These battles have
much to do with the mind and the multitude of influences that daily bombard us. As a Christian parent, my role in the great controversy is not a
passive one. Im often concerned about television shows, school curriculums, staying at hotelswhat? Did I say staying at hotels? Yes, because
recently we returned from a resort for families with children where almost
all the children had a wand they waved to see how it would affect various
objects. I was grateful that our room wasnt situated near any of the talking
mirrors or paintings that would respond when a wand was fluttered at it.
On our last day there, I found a Bible far back on the second shelf of the
nightstand. When my husband saw it, he said, I wonder how long that will
last here. The reality of his words saddened me.
What used to be indisputably wrong is now right. Facts substantiated
by the Bible no longer influence the lives of many Christians. It seems
we dont want to offend anyone. These times call for courage, singlemindedness, and an unswerving faith in Christ. Yes, it is finished, but we
must believe that it is and live like it is. Our role in the great controversy is
not a passive one. We must unite our weakness to His strength. We must
allow Him to make us conquerors over evil. This week, we will look at how
the battle for our minds continues and how our daily choices can make a
difference in turning back the tide of evil.
Zelinda Sealy-Scavella, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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sunday
JANUARY 24

Logos

On the Winning Side

Genesis 3;
Josh. 24:15;
1 Kings 18:21;
2 Kings 1;
Esther 3, 4; 8:1114; 9;
Rev. 12:79, 1117

Overcome Evil With Good (Genesis 3; Rev. 12:79, 1117)


In the beginning, there existed harmony. Then one day, everything changed.
It started with an arrogant angel whose thoughts led him in the wrong direction.
Before anyone knew it, he had concocted a plan to fight the King of heaven.
This led to a cosmic battle between the good angels and the rebel angels,
which resulted in one-third of the angels being banished from heaven.1 It was
also the beginning of the great controversy between good and evil. Yet what
Satan intended for evil, God overturned for good through His chosen people.
What Joseph said to his brothers confirms that God can make good come of
evil: But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in
order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Gen. 50:20,
NKJV).

The choice ultimately lies with you and me.


Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought
he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without
cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by
humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacobs God.
. . . He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own
kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him
to render good for evil.2

Faith Under Fire (1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 1)


Because of sin, we have diseases, kidnappings, murders, genocides, and
other atrocities that occur daily. How easily we could despair! Yet history tells
us of people who stared evil in the eye and remained strong through the power
of God.
Elijah boldly faced a ruler who wanted him dead. He did not second-guess
himself when he told the king that it would surely rain. He did not mince words
when, with bold confidence, he proclaimed that he was a man of God and thus
could ask the Lord to send down fire from heaven. Likewise, each of us can
have the assurance that when the Holy Spirit guides us, all fears will disappear,
enabling us to stand boldly for truth.
When Gods people come to the place where they have the same spirit
as Elijah had, when they are as earnest, as active, as courageous, as willing
to persevere in prayer, as dauntless in the face of the Lord, and as eager to
answer the calls of the Lord, then Gods work will quickly be finished and Jesus
will return to receive His own.3
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Divine Providence (Esther 3, 4; 8:1114; 9)


When God calls His people, there is absolutely nothing that can stand in
their way. When He called Esther to stand up for her people, she may have felt
that it was a huge undertaking for her. Yet she did not panic. Instead, she took
immediate action. She instructed Mordecai: Go, gather all the Jews who are
present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night
or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is
against the law; and if I perish, I perish! (Esther 4:16, NKJV).
What would have been a tragedy for the Jewish nation became a victory
instead. Once Haman was out of power and Mordecai was reinstated, the royal
decree was accommodated to allow for the Jews to fight back under attack.
Thus, they became victors instead of victims (Esther 8:1114; 9). God used
one insignificant young woman to drastically alter events.

Choose Ye This Day . . . (Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21)


How will this story end? It is up to us to decide how the great controversy
will play out in our own lives. Will we, like Elijah and Esther, be able to stand for
the King of all kings even in the face of death? Or will we be like the Israelites,
who silently submitted to a heathen kings commandment instead of speaking
up for their Lord?
God wants to work mightily through us to overthrow Satans efforts to destroy us. He sent His Son, who chose to die on the cross in order to save us
from the utter destruction of sin. Yet we do have a role to play in the great controversy. We must decide what we will do with the freedom God has given us.
We do not have to fall subject to the devils wicked schemes. We can say No to
the devil and Yes to Jesus. Elijah posed a question, which is posed to us today:
How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him;
but if Baal then follow him (1 Kings 18:21, NKJV). The choice ultimately lies
with you and me. It is important to take a stand for the Lord. If we just drift along
with whatever is pleasant and easy, we will someday discover that we have
been worshiping a false godourselves.4

REACT
What can we learn from the lives of Joseph, Elijah, and Esther when it
comes to demonstrating faith in God when we have to take a stand for Him?
____________
1. See The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 2nd ed., vol. 7, p. 808.
2. Matthew Henrys Concise Commentary, s.v. Genesis 50:15-21, accessed December 23, 2104, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/mhc/genesis/50.htm.
3. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 821.
4. The Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, s.v. 1 Kings 18:21.

Alexandra Yeboah, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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monday
JANUARY 25

Testimony

Without Faith, It Is Impossible to Please God

1 Kings 19:918

Not until Elijah had learned to trust wholly in God could he complete his
work for those who had been seduced into Baal worship. The signal triumph
on the heights of Carmel had opened the way for still greater victories; yet from
the wonderful opportunities opening before him, Elijah had been turned away
by the threat of Jezebel. The man of God must be made to understand the
weakness of his present position as compared with the vantage ground the
Lord would have him occupy.1

God will watch over them for good.


I must hold on to God in absolute faith if I will stand where He would have
me. Self-effort alone will not sustain me. I need the faith of Jesus and faith in
Jesus.
All who in that evil day would fearlessly serve God according to the dictates
of conscience, will need courage, firmness, and a knowledge of God and His
word; for those who are true to God will be persecuted, their motives will be
impugned, their best efforts misinterpreted, and their names cast out as evil.
Satan will work with all his deceptive power to influence the heart and becloud
the understanding, to make evil appear good, and good evil. The stronger and
purer the faith of Gods people, and the firmer their determination to obey Him,
the more fiercely will Satan strive to stir up against them the rage of those who,
while claiming to be righteous, trample upon the law of God. It will require the
firmest trust, the most heroic purpose, to hold fast the faith once delivered to
the saints. . . .
God desires His people to prepare for the soon-coming crisis. Prepared or
unprepared, they must all meet it; and those only who have brought their lives
into conformity to the divine standard, will stand firm at that time of test and trial.
. . . When every other trust fails, then it will be seen who have an abiding trust in
Jehovah. And while the enemies of truth are on every side, watching the Lords
servants for evil, God will watch over them for good. He will be to them as the
shadow of a great rock in a weary land.2

REACT
1. Is the faith of Jesus and the faith in Jesus different? (see Rev. 14:912).
2. How do the quotes above magnify Hebrews 10:3239?
3. David and Elijah failed because they lost of sight of God. Find Bible promises that will sustain you in times of temptation and persecution.
____________
1. Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 167.
2. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 431.

Gabrielle A. Baker, Gassaway, West Virginia, U.S.A.


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tuesday
1 Cor. 1:27;
James 2:5

Evidence

JANUARY 26

A New Militia

One night in April 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school by an
extreme religious group. The girls were told that the kidnappers were members of the army, but they soon realized they had been misled. Some of the
girls made harrowing escapes to safety. One of them escaped by jumping
off the truck that was transporting them to the groups camp. Later, she recounted how disappointed she felt when one of her friends lied about being
a Christian. I was shocked and feeling so bad, Saa said. I was thinking, if
they killed us at that time, what would that girl say to the Lord in heaven?*

Evil spelled backwards is live.


Although books, such as Malcom Gladwells David and Goliath, attempt
to question whether or not certain biblical characters were as disadvantaged
as some Christians believe, we see throughout Scripture that God constantly
uses the humble to do great work for Him. David, Esther, Hezekiah, Elijah,
and Nehemiah are only a few examples. In addition to these biblical heroes,
there are also people like John Wycliffe, Hannah Whitall Smith, John Huss,
Lottie Moon, Martin Luther, and Ellen White. They all made great sacrifices
when it came to fighting the war between good and evil.
And yet, the controversy continues. There is still work to be done. We all
have a role to play. Let us not deny God in earths desperate time of need.
What will we say to our Lord in heaven if we do not participate in this great
controversy?
Interestingly enough, evil spelled backwards is live. Evil kills and destroys (1 Pet. 5:8). God is looking for His own militia, an army that will turn evil
on its head, defeat it once and for all, and allow Gods people to live in peace.
God can use us too, if we let Him. He doesnt call the qualified. Instead,
He qualifies the called. And if, as part of Gods army, we work hand in hand
with Him, we will shout Hallelujah in praise of a God who ultimately puts the
controversy to rest and offers His people life everlasting.

REACT
1. What is your role in the great controversy? What will you say to our Lord
in heaven when He returns?
2. What assurance do we have that we, like David, Esther, Hezekiah, Elijah, and Nehemiah, can overcome evil?
____________
* Howard LaFranchi, How a Nigerian School Girl Escaped Boko Haram: Is Washington Still Concerned? Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 2014, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/ForeignPolicy/2014/0920/How-a-Nigerian-school-girl-escaped-Boko-Haram-Is-Washington-still-concerned.

Simone Samuels, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


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wednesday
JANUARY 27

How-to

God Can Use Anyone

Neh. 2:18;
Eph. 6:7;
James 5:20

The Bible is filled with examples of how God can use anyone to conquer
the forces of evil. Consider Nehemiah. A lowly cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of
Babylon, he was an unlikely choice to restore Judah and its people after years
of Babylonian exile. But despite great opposition from enemies of other nations
and rebellion from among his own people, he and his countrymen successfully rebuilt the long-destroyed walls of Jerusalem in a record 52 days. Here are
some critical lessons we can learn from Nehemiah.

He did not hesitate, despite the risks involved.


Choose the winning side (Eph. 6:11). In the great controversy between
good and evil, there is only one such sideGods. Like Nehemiah, choosing
and remaining on the winning side is the only way to assure our success in
this life and in the life to come. This is a choice we must make every day. Our
allegiance to God will grow as we get to know Him through His Word.
Be a model worker (Eph. 6:7). Whatever your position, always remember
you are in service to God, not man. Nehemiahs excellent work earned him
favor with King Artaxerxes. Thus, when the king saw Nehemiahs distress over
Judah, he readily gave him his blessing to return to Judah for a time and pro
vided assistance in the gathering materials needed to rebuild Jerusalems
walls. Similarly, when we do our best at any task, we can earn the favor of
people in high places, making us more effective workers for God (Prov. 22:29).
Think beyond yourself (Neh. 2:1118). When God called Nehemiah to help
his people, he did not hesitate, despite the risks involved. Nehemiah was so
concerned for his people, whod forgotten God after years of oppression, that
he gave up years of his life (over a decade) to govern them and to restore their
strength as a nation. We also must be self-sacrificing if we want to fight against
evil in our lives and in the lives of others.
Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Through fervent prayer and fasting,
Nehemiah resolved to undertake the huge task of reestablishing Judah both
physically and politically. And when enemies conspired to attack Jerusalem,
Nehemiah turned to prayer as his first line of defense. When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, we also must surrender to the true Source of
our strength (2Chron. 20:12).

REACT
1. What steps can you take to strengthen your prayer life?
2. Has God been calling you to do something that you have been avoiding
because of fear? Seek the Lords guidance, and ponder your next move.
Christelle Agboka, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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thursday
Opinion

Isa. 53:4

JANUARY 28

Unknown Answer
Known Solution

While checking the student forum of my university, I came across a post


that rattled my peace. A young woman shared her story of being raped. I was
floored. I couldnt come to grips that in my perfect little world such events
could take place. I questioned God for days, shaking my head in disbelief
every time the thought resurfaced, cringing at the possibility that something
similar could happen to my friends, family, or even me!

I cannot bear the pain of another.


Ellen G. White said that no one can explain evil.* I agree with her. But what
do I, as a Christian, tell others? What am I to tell the young woman who was
raped and lived to tell the tale? How do I explain it to the man or child who
watched someone from a terrorist organization execute a family member?
Isaiah 53:4 says, [Jesus] took up our pain and bore our suffering (NIV).
Have you ever seen someone do something painful, like give someone a
shot at a doctors office? Or while someone took a hard fall, did you brace
yourself or close your eyes? Maybe youve told a friend who has lost a loved
one that you know how she or he feels. The truth is, though, we cannot truly
understand how someone feels. We can only comprehend the situation
based on our own experiences.
I cannot bear the pain of another. But Isaiah 53:4 says that Jesus did. He
took up our pain. When He hung on the cross, He felt everything. He knows
how I felt when I lost my grandparent and when I fell off my bike for the first
time. He felt the burning pain one gets when the most unexplainable grief hits
too close to home. He felt the fear of those trapped in gas chambers during
the Holocaust. He felt the pain of the victims and family members of those
who lost their lives on 9/11. Jesus felt the despair of the Israelites when they
were enslaved in Egypt. The Bible says that He took all of our pain: past,
present, and future. He felt it.
Jesus does not want to end sin to clear His name. He wants to end sin
so our pain will be no more. When I view the great controversy from that perspective, I can rest assured, knowing that Jesus wants to destroy evil once
and for all for my sake.

REACT
1. How can answering the mysterious question of evil take us off track?
2. How can we show the love of God to people who feel overcome by evil?

____________
* Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 493.

Brittany Hudson, Cocoyea Village, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago


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friday

JANUARY 29

Exploration

Standing Firm

1 Kings 18:21;
2 Kings 1;
Esther 3, 4;
Daniel 3

CONCLUDE
When we compare the lives of David, Elijah, Hezekiah, Esther, and Nehemiah, similar themes surface: God is able to use insignificant people to
turn back the tide of evil; and, despite tremendous obstacles, we dont need
to buckle under overwhelming evil. Instead, we can stand firm in the power
of God, who is faithful to His covenant promises that are fulfilled for us in
Jesus. When we endure in His might, we will see that the forces of evil are
not powerful enough to prevail. The focus, and the challenge, is for us to
rejoice in His deliverance.

CONSIDER
Taking a walk through a park or woods. Look for an old gnarled tree
that has seen a lot of years and bad weather. Stand or sit under it.
Lean against it. Feel its strength against your back and consider what
it means to stand firm in Gods power.
Reading about women and men in history who stood firm for what
they believed in at Biography Online, http://www.biographyonline.net
/humanitarian/anti-slavery-movement.html. How do they inspire you?
Interviewing someone in your church or community who, by standing
firm for God, has made a positive difference in specific ways (creating better housing for the poor; establishing food banks; etc.). Discover what motivates this person. Ask if you can work alongside him
or her for a day and ascertain how you can apply to your life what you
learned from this person.
Singing along to Dare to Be a Daniel at http://cyberhymnal.org/htm
/d/a/daretobe.htm.

CONNECT
Daniel 3.
Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 479490; 503513.
Elizabeth Fletcher, Clever Queen, Foolish King, Women in the Bible,
http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.14.Esther.htm.

Lyn Brewer, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.


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