Wisdom for Righteous Living

Lesson 8, 1st Quarter February 17-23, 2024.

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Sabbath Afternoon, February 17

Memory Text:

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” KJV — Psalm 90:12

“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time. FLB 158.2

“The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment. FLB 158.3

“The human family have scarcely begun to live when they begin to die.... The man who appreciates time as his working day will fit himself for a mansion and for a life that is immortal. It is well that he was born. We are admonished to redeem the time. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains, by being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption.... FLB 158.4

“Every moment is freighted with eternal consequences. We are to stand as minute men, ready for service at a moment's notice. The opportunity that is now ours to speak to some needy soul the word of life may never offer again. God may say to that one, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee,” and through our neglect he may not be ready. (Luke 12:20.) In the great judgment day, how shall we render our account to God?” 1 FLB 158.5

Sunday, February 18

Your Word I have hidden in my Heart.

Read Psalm 119:1-16, 161-168. How should we keep God’s commandments, and what are the blessings that from doing that?

“Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may suggest. “Girding up the loins of your mind,” says the apostle Peter, “Be sober, ... not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in ... your ignorance: but like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.” 1 Peter 1:13-15, R.V. Says Paul, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. This will require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things. And we must give diligent study to the word of God. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” “Thy word,” says the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:9, 11.” PP 460.2

“The less of the meekness and lowliness of Christ the human agent has in his spirit and character, the more he sees perfection in his own methods, and imperfection in the methods of others.—Testimonies to Ministers, 191. WGD 268.2

“There is nothing more needed in the work than the practical results of communion with God. We should show by our daily lives that we have peace and rest in God. His peace in the heart will shine forth in the countenance. It will give to the voice a persuasive power. Communion with God will impart a moral elevation to the character and to the entire course of action. Men will take knowledge of us, as of the first disciples, that we have been with Jesus.—Testimonies for the Church 6:47. WGD 268.3

“The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them.” Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;” and life’s desert “shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”—The Desire of Ages, 302-305.” WGD 268.4

Monday, February 19

Teach us to number our days

Read Psalm 90, Psalm 102:11, Psalm 103: 14-16. What is the human predicament?

“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.—Psalm 71:9. RY 186.2

“Forsake me not, o God, when I am old and gray; that I may tell the rising generation of thy strength and thy might.—Psalm 71:18, Moffatt. RY 186.3

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow....” RY 186.4

“Church membership will not guarantee us heaven. We must abide in Christ, and his love must abide in us. We must every day make advancement in the formation of symmetrical character. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] As God is perfect in his sphere, so are we required to be perfect in ours. There is a great work before us individually, to reach this high standard. Our attainments will be just in accordance with the effort we make, our character just what we choose to make it; for through the divine aid promised us, we can overcome. Jesus “knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” [Psalm 103:14.] In pitying tenderness he will give us the help and strength we need. GW92 446.3

“Let us diligently cultivate the pure principles of the gospel of Christ,—the religion, not of self-esteem, but of love, meekness, and lowliness of heart. Then we shall love our brethren, and esteem them better than ourselves. Our minds will not dwell on the dark side of their character; we shall not feast on scandal and flying reports. But “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,” we shall “think on these things.” [Philippians 4:8.]” GW92 447.1

Tuesday, February 20

The Lord’s Test

Read Psalm 81:7, 8; Psalm 95:7-11; and Psalm 105:17-22. What does divine testing involve in these texts?

“Aaron and Moses both sinned in not giving glory and honor to God at the waters of Meribah. They were both wearied and provoked with the continual complaining of Israel, and, at a time when God was to mercifully display His glory to the people, to soften and subdue their hearts and lead them to repentance, Moses and Aaron claimed the power of opening the rock for them. “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Here was a golden opportunity to sanctify the Lord in the midst of them, to show them the long-suffering of God and His tender pity for them. They had murmured against Moses and Aaron because they could not find water. Moses and Aaron took these murmurings as a great trial and dishonor to themselves, forgetting that it was God whom the people were grieving. It was God whom they were sinning against and dishonoring, not those who were appointed of God to carry out His purpose. They were insulting their best Friend in charging their calamities upon Moses and Aaron; they were murmuring at God's providence.”

The Hebrew host well knew that they were led to the sea by following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Yet none of these wonders seemed to have made any lasting impression on them. There is a danger that we, too, may forget the way the Lord has led us.

After Israel crossed the sea, and after the sea closed in on their enemies, they all sang and gave God the glory, but though Pharaoh’s army and the sea were no longer objects of fear but of interest, their trials, doubts, and fears were not yet at an end: Almost immediately after they saw the sea behind and the desert ahead they began to recriminate Moses for having brought them into the desert to starve there for want of water and food. It never entered their minds that if God can dry the sea, He can certainly flood the desert and make it blossom as a rose. Notwithstanding their doubts and their moanings God again performed an even greater miracle: He caused water to gush out of the rock and He brought manna from Heaven!

Today as in Moses’ day many are duplicating the sins of that people: Some are all on fire on day, and all on ice the next. Others praise God to the top of their voices while their ship is smoothly sailing, but when the sea becomes rough and the waves start beating against them, then they see only a man at the wheel and rather than expecting God to calm the sea they begin to hunt for a jumping off place. Still others are constantly trying to promote themselves by continual fault-finding against the ones that bear the whole burden of the load. So it is that there must be among us today – antitypical doubters, complainers office seekers and faultfinders, admitting one great truth one day and forgetting it the next day – yet expecting to be sealed with the seal of God and to stand with the Lamb on Mt. Zion! 

The troubles which came to Joseph in his life were actually for his good and prepared him to become an interpreter of dreams, a king, and doubtless the greatest economist the world has ever seen. God had observed that Joseph did everything as if it were his very own, and, moreover, he was constantly sensible to the fact that God was his Master and that nothing could be hidden from Him. It was this conviction that caused Joseph to understand that regardless what men did to him or said about him, God alone had charge of his life. Therefore, in prosperity and fame Joseph maintained his loyalty and integrity; and in adversity Joseph did not waste his time ascribing to others the cause of his troubles. Instead, he set about to behave in a way that would commend himself even to royalty, for it is not likely that the Ishmaelites would have been able to sell him to Potiphar had he not been a superior person.

"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.... And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured." Gen. 39:2-4, 6. But again it was his lot to suffer reversals over which he had no control, and he landed in prison where his excellent personality and faithfulness once again won him his freedom, and, moreover, he was promoted to the highest position of the land.

In the meantime Joseph's brothers kept coming down until finally they were reduced to such poverty that they had to leave their country and come to Joseph for their food and living. We should be able to see in this that although God's people may be disgracefully dealt with by jealous associates, still they will not suffer the wrong forever if God is with them. Joseph followed righteousness and no man could prevent God from blessing him with riches and honor. It matters not what men may say or do against you to put you down, if you have God with you will in the end be on top and they at the bottom. Jealousy may be as cruel as the grave, but sooner or later righteousness is rewarded.

Wednesday, February 21

Deceitfulness of the Wicked Way

Read Psalms 141. What does the psalmist pray for? How is the progressive and cunning character of temptation depicted here?

“The psalmist prayed: “Lord, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee. Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” 20MR 198.1

“We have every evidence that the humble, contrite prayer offered to God is regarded as precious in His sight. Not one is lost. The promise is: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened...” 20MR 198.2

“The Lord hears the prayers of all who come to him in their necessity, all who are humble and contrite in heart. The Lord hears, and He will manifest himself unto them, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the hearts of the contrite ones.” 20MR 198.5

“The Lord God of Israel has made himself a refuge for His people. All who will make Christ their dependence will know what it means in these last days to agonize to enter in at the strait gate. The foolish self-esteem and self-confidence which many possess will prove their eternal ruin. To them the narrow path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in seems altogether too restricted. But he who abides in Christ will understand what it means to be crucified to the world. The Lord has provided only one refuge for His people. The great apostle says, “Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” All who are overcomers will be highly exalted.” 20MR 199.3

“Shall we not draw near to the Lord, that He may save us from all intemperance in eating and drinking, from all unholy, lustful passion, all wickedness? Shall we not humble ourselves before God, putting away everything that corrupts the flesh and the spirit, that in His fear we may perfect holiness of character? 7T 258.3

“Let everyone who sits in council and committee meetings write in his heart the words: I am working for time and for eternity; and I am accountable to God for the motives that prompt me to action. Let this be his motto. Let the prayer of the psalmist be his prayer: 7T 258.4

“‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing.’” Psalm 141:3, 4. 7T 259.1

Thursday, February 22

Blessings of Righteous Living

Read Psalm 1: 1-3, Psalm 112:1-9, and 128. What blessings are promised for those who revere the Lord?

“‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.’ [Psalm 1:1, 2.] 16LtMs, Ms 111, 1901, par. 6

“‘We should become acquainted with the laws of Christ’s kingdom, which are God-given safeguards. ‘They are your life,’ He says. [Deuteronomy 32:47.] If we break through this wall of protection which has so mercifully been put around us, we expose ourselves to the attacks of Satan. By disobeying the laws of God, we co-operate with the enemy, placing ourselves where he can work through our minds.” 16LtMs, Ms 111, 1901, par. 7

“The spiritual darkness that covers the earth is the result of a separation from God. Christ is the light and life of the world. ‘Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness’ (Psalm 112:4). All sin in darkness. When Christ came to this world, the Jewish rulers refused to accept His words. Wise in their own conceit, they declared that they knew all about the law of God. But Christ said to them, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God’ (Matthew 22:29). Darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people. The human family, and even the Lord's chosen people, had to a large extent lost the knowledge of God. The Jewish priests were teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. God was misrepresented. False ideas prevailed in regard to His character and attributes. Christ came to this world, and the light shone forth into the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. 12MR 140.1

“Satan is the arch deceiver. The results to us of accepting his temptations are worse than any earthly loss that can be realized, yes, worse than death itself. Those who purchase success at the fearful cost of submission to the will and plans of Satan, will find that they have made a hard bargain. Everything in Satan's trade is secured at a high price. The advantages he presents are a mirage. The high hopes he holds out are secured at the loss of things that are good and holy and pure. Let Satan be always confounded by the word, ‘It is written.’ ‘Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.’” ST February 24, 1909, par. 7

Friday, February 23

Further Thought

“He who stands prepared to do the works of righteousness will not be deceived by the allurements of the enemy. His actions will be guided by an exalted sense of right, and he will be enabled to distinguish between right and wrong, between truth, exalted truth, and error. Those who enter the kingdom of heaven will be those who have reached the highest standard of moral obligation, those who have not sought to hide the truth or to deceive, those by whom God has been exalted and His word defended, those in whom principle has not been misapplied to vindicate the wiles of Satan. ST February 24, 1909, par. 8

“The path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord is far above all worldly schemes and practises. Those who walk in it are to show by their works the purity of their principles. They have a heaven to win, and by a well-ordered life and a godly conversation they are to show the genuineness of their profession. They are to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, fearing lest they shall not perfect a Christian character, yet striving to follow on in the footsteps of Christ, keeping His life and His teachings ever before them. As they do this, God will work in them, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” ST February 24, 1909, par. 9