1. MARY, THE HANDMAID OF THE LORD
a. What was the attitude of Mary when God sent her a message? Luke 1:38.
“[Notice] the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 98.
b. Who also prophesied of Christ to strengthen Mary’s faith? Luke 1:41–43, 67–69; 2:25–32, 36–38. Who tried to destroy her faith in Jesus?
“Mary often remonstrated with Jesus and urged Him to conform to the usages of the rabbis. But He could not be persuaded to change His habits of contemplating the works of God and seeking to alleviate the suffering of men or even of dumb animals. When the priests and teachers required Mary’s aid in controlling Jesus, she was greatly troubled; but peace came to her heart as He presented the statements of Scripture upholding His practices.
“At times she wavered between Jesus and His brothers, who did not believe that He was the Sent of God; but evidence was abundant that His was a divine character. She saw Him sacrificing Himself for the good of others. His presence brought a purer atmosphere into the home, and His life was as leaven working amid the elements of society.”—Ibid., p.90.
2. SAMUEL, A SERVANT OF GOD
a. What experience should be our model every day? 1 Samuel 3:7–10.
“When you place yourselves where you should be in order to hear the voice of God, you will come before Him every day, saying, ‘Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.’ ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’
(1 Samuel 3:9; Acts 9:6).”—General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 20, 1891.
“We need now to humble our hearts before God. We need now not to wait in a careless attitude, but in an attentive, reverent attitude.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, p. 28.
b. How should we regard every talent, opportunity, and resource that we have? 1 Chronicles 29:12–14. What can destroy this attitude and ruin our spiritual experience?
“However large, however small, your talents, remember that what you have is yours only in trust. Thus God is testing you, giving you opportunity to prove yourself true. To Him you are indebted for all your capabilities. To Him belong your powers of body, mind, and soul, and for Him these powers are to be used. Your time, your influence, your capabilities, your skill—all must be accounted for to Him who gives all. He uses his gifts best who seeks by earnest endeavor to carry out the Lord’s great plan for the uplifting of humanity.
“Persevere in the work that you have begun, until you gain victory after victory. Educate yourselves for a purpose. Keep in view the highest standard that you may accomplish greater and still greater good, thus reflecting the glory of God.”—The Youth’s Instructor, January 25, 1910.
“Self has far more to do with our religious experience than we imagine. When self is crucified, when the stubborn will is subdued, then the language of the heart will be, ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done, O God, whose I am and whom I serve.’ ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.’ None will be as fixed stars, cold and immovable. This selfish, worldly dignity will no longer be maintained. There will be a beautiful blending of purity, elevation and nobility, which is wisdom from above and the meekness and lowliness of Jesus Christ. An innocent lamb was chosen as a representation of Christ.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 191.
3. Be Like Samuel
a. What is the source of success for every Christian? 1 Corinthians 15:10.
“The success of every work depends upon the blessing of God. If the Lord works with you, you will be able to do what He has appointed you to do. With God, one can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. But just as long as you maintain this spirit of Pharisaism, God’s spirit will not, cannot, work with you, because you do not feel your utter dependence upon Him. When you become learners in the school of Christ, you will have the simplicity and meekness of little children, and will be willing to counsel with your brethren and sisters, and will pray earnestly for help from God. Your ears will then be opened, and you will be enabled to say from the heart, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.’”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 410.
b. What is the source of failure for any Christian? Proverbs 12:15; Isaiah 5:20.
“God wants to put His spirit upon you; but He cannot do this while you are so full of self. When self dies, you will feel the quickening influence of the spirit of God. God’s people are enjoined to seek for unity. . . . This is no time for alienation and discord, for the indulgence of a selfish, perverse spirit. Will you take yourselves in hand, or will you be ready to regard your stubborn, unyielding disposition as an evidence of faithful integrity? God forbid that you should be blinded, as were the Pharisees, and place good for evil, and evil for good. You will never have any greater evidence than you have had as to where the spirit of God is working. The Lord never proposes to remove all occasion for men to doubt. He will give sufficient evidence to bring the candid mind to a right decision; but if you are determined to have your own way, if you are like Saul, unwilling to change your course because of pride and stubbornness of heart, because of ignorance of your own condition of spiritual destitution, you will not recognize the light. You will say with Saul, ‘I have done the commandment of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 15:13).”—Ibid., pp.410, 411.
4. AN ADMONITION
a. What will happen to those who rely on human reasoning instead of following the counsel from God? Proverbs 1:24–26.
“As we ponder the solemn words of warning addressed to Israel, we are in imagination brought before the great white throne, where in the presence of the assembled universe, every man will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. . . .
“None then to pity the folly of those who have despised and forsaken God. None to relieve their distress. They have forsaken their true and loving Friend, to follow the path of convenience and worldly pleasure. They intended at some time to return to God. But the world, with its follies and deceptions, absorbs the attention. Frivolous amusements, pride of dress, indulgence of appetite, harden the heart and benumb the conscience, so that the voice of truth is not heard. Duty is a despised word. Things of infinite value are lightly esteemed, until the heart loses all desire to sacrifice for Him who has given so much for man. But in the reaping time they must gather the crop sown. . . .
“ ‘Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices’ (Proverbs 1:28–31).”—The Signs of the Times, August 18, 1881.
b. What is the promise to those who listen to God? Proverbs 1:33.
“Can we ever find a surer guide than the Lord Jesus? True religion is embodied in the Word of God and consists in being under the guidance of the Holy One in thought, word, and deed. He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life takes the humble, earnest, wholehearted seeker, and says, Follow Me. He leads him in the narrow way to holiness and heaven. Christ has opened this path for us at great cost to Himself. We are not left to stumble our way along in darkness. Jesus is at our right hand, proclaiming, ‘I am the Way.’ And all who decide to follow the Lord fully will be led in the royal path, yea more, in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in.”—The Review and Herald, March 29, 1906.
5. AN APPEAL
a. What can we learn from David’s prayer? Psalm 119:33–38.
“The sinner who refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power, listening to another voice, whose suggestions are of an entirely different character. Passion controls him, his judgment is blinded, reason is dethroned, and impetuous desires sway him, now here, now there. The truth will have but little influence over him, for there is in human nature, when separated from the Source of truth, a continual opposition to God’s will and ways. The physical, mental, and moral being are all under the control of rash impulses. The affections are depraved, and every faculty entrusted to man for wise improvement is demoralized. The man is dead in trespasses and sins. Inclination moves, passion holds the control, and his appetites are under the sway of a power of which he is not aware. He talks of liberty, of freedom of action, while he is in most abject slavery.”—The Review and Herald, February 17, 1891.
b. Explain how we can avoid being overcome by the enemy. James 4:7–10; Philippians 4:13.
“Those who claim to be Christians are in continual need of a power outside of, and beyond, themselves. They need to watch unto prayer, and to place themselves under the guardianship of God, else they will be overcome by the enemy. The Christian must look to God, as a servant to his master, as a handmaid to her mistress, saying, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ (Acts 9:6).”—Ibid.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What can we learn from Mary?
2. What can we learn from Samuel’s experience as a young child?
3. How do we show that we are learners in the school of Christ?
4. How can we walk in the royal pathway?
5. How can we hear God and have His power in our life?