Lesson 9 | Sabbath, 26 August 2023
“It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” Mark 4:31, 32.
“The germ in the seed grows by the unfolding of the life principle which God has implanted. Its development depends upon no human power. So it is with the kingdom of Christ. It is a new creation. Its principles of development are the opposite of those that rule the kingdoms of this world.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 77.
PLANTING WITH WONDERFUL RESULTS
1.What characterizes God’s kingdom? Although it is very tiny, what does the seed possess for growth?
Matthew 13:31, 32. Another para- ble put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Luke 13:19. It is like a grain of mus- tard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
“As Jesus spoke this parable, the mustard plant could be seen far and near, lifting itself above the grass and grain, and waving its branches lightly in the air. Birds flitted from twig to twig, and sang amid the leafy foliage.
Yet the seed from which sprang this giant plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender shoot, but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it reached its present great size.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 77.
2.According to the parable, how is the mustard tree a blessing to everything around it? How did the psalmist tell about this in relation to the protective shadow of the most High?
Mark 4:32. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
Psalm 91:1, 4, 7. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…. 4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler…. 7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
“And in this last generation the parable of the mustard seed is to reach a signal and triumphant fulfillment. The little seed will become a tree. The last message of warning and mercy is to go to ‘every nation and kindred and tongue’ (Revelation 14:6-14),’to take out of them a people for His name.’ Acts 15:14; Revelation 18:1. And the earth shall be lightened with His glory.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 79.
3. As Jerubbaal, who was despised, from whom did the people seek support and protection?
Judges 9:16, 17. Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands; 17… For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian.
Jeremiah 16:11. Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law.
Judges 9:15. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
“After the death of Gideon ‘the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their en- emies on every side: neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel.’ Forgetful of all that they owed to Gideon, their judge and deliverer, the people of Israel accepted his baseborn son Abimelech as their king, who, to sustain his power, murdered all but one of Gideon’s lawful children. When men cast off the fear of God, they are not long in departing from honor and integrity.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 556.
THE MUSTARD SEED AND FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
4.To what fruit of the Spirit is the mustard seed compared, and how does it germinate in the heart? What will happen to it in the last time?
Luke 17:6. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
Romans 10:17. So then faith com- eth by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Luke 18:8. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
“Earthly governments prevail by physical force; they maintain their domin- ion by war; but the founder of the new kingdom is the Prince of Peace. The Holy Spirit represents worldly kingdoms under the symbol of fierce beasts of prey; but Christ is ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29. In His plan of government there is no employment of brute force to compel the conscience. The Jews looked for the kingdom of God to be established in the same way as the kingdoms of the world. To promote righteousness they resorted to external measures.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 77.
5.What counsel is given to those who live at the end of the Laodicean church period? With faith and love becoming scarcer than gold, what process will God put His end- time people through?
Revelation 3:18, 17. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see…. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
1 Peter 1:6, 7. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
“Oh, what can I say to open blind eyes, to enlighten the spiritual under- standing! Sin must be crucified. A complete moral renovation must be wrought by the Holy Spirit. We must have the love of God, with living, abiding faith. This is the gold tried in the fire. We can obtain it only of Christ. Every sincere and earnest seeker will become a partaker of the divine nature. His soul will be filled with intense longing to know the fullness of that love which passes knowledge;…” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 105.
THE VALUE OF TREES IS IN THEIR FRUIT
6.Why is patience especially necessary at the end of time? What is this fruit related to?
James 5:7, 8. Be patient there- fore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Hebrews 10:36. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Revelation 14:12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
“This is a distinct separating message, a message that is to give no un- certain sound. It is to lead the people away from the broken cisterns that contain no water, to the unfailing Fountain of the water of life.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 150.
7.In whom will the fruit of the Spirit be manifested? Where did Jesus see Zacchaeus, and why was he there?
Revelation 2:7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that over- cometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Luke 19:4-5, 9. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 9And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
“Those who experience the work of true conversion in their hearts will reveal the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. Oh, that those who have so little spiritual life would realize that eternal life can be granted only to those who become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust!” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 155.
For Additional Study
“So the kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ’s claim to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how widespread its influence! When Christ spoke this parable, there were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom.
“Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers, were urged over and over again as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus. But the mustard seed was to grow and spread forth its branches throughout the world.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 77.
MISSIONARY REPORT FROM SURINAME
To be read on Sabbath, August 26, 2023
The Special Sabbath School Offering
will be gathered on Sabbath, September 2, 2023
The church of Suriname greets the brethren around the world with the divine invitation of Revelation 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Suriname, formerly known as Dutch Guiana as part of the Netherlands until 1975, when it gained its independence, is a country in South America. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the north, French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, and Brazil to the south.
The capital city is Paramaribo, and its territory covers 163,820 square kilometers (101,793 square miles). The population is approximately 800,000; and although it is the smallest and least populated country in South America, it encompasses a wide variety of nationalities, cultures, languages, and dialects, while its official language is Dutch, which presents a great challenge to evangelistic outreach.
The country is made up of Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Protestant communities. Due to a large number of ethnic groups, there is no majority or dominant religion. According to the most recent data, 48.4 percent of the population belongs to the Christian faith, including Catholics and Protestant groups such as Moravians, Evangelicals, Methodists, and Lutherans, among others. Hindus number 22.3 percent and Muslims 13.9 percent, while the remaining 15.4 percent is composed of people who hold to indigenous religions and those who say that they do not belong to any religious faith.
In fulfillment of the mission given by the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to every nation, tribe, people, and language, and trusting in His promise that He would be with His people until the end of the world, the message of the Reform Movement reached Suriname for the first time through Sister Johana M. Vlijter, who rests in the grave until the resurrection, and Brother Ernest Huur, who currently resides in Holland and is an active church member. Subsequently and officially, the work of the Reform Movement began in 1999, when Brother Gabriel Porras, from Colombia, arrived in the country as the first missionary sent by the General Conference under the Foreign Missions Program. In 2000, the church was first registered under the name “Stichting Internationale Zending Van Zevende Dags Adventisten Reformatiebeweging, Suriname Veld.”
Since that time, the gospel has been proclaimed through canvassing, visits and Bible studies in homes, special programs for children, and Bible studies presented to other religious denominations that provided opportunities for the church to share the message. This is how a group of interested people arose who began to keep the Sabbath, resulting in the baptism of some of them, making it possible to organize a group.
In 2007, Brother Boris Acevedo came from Venezuela with his family, the work continued to advance, and new believers were baptized and added to the church. In 2009, a piece of property was purchased and con- struction of a church building and housing for the missionaries was begun with the support of the General Conference and the Dutch Field.
In 2014, Brother Edison Henriquez arrived with his wife and children from Venezuela; they continued to work together with the six members of the church. However, as written in Revelation 12:17, “… The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus. Christ.” The Spirit of prophecy says that prosperity contributes to the entry into the church of multitudes who merely profess religion. In 2015 and 2016, the church suffered a rebellion; five of the six members who made up the church group showed their true interests; and since their names were in the church records and that granted them authority over the properties, they took over and gave them to the nominal Adventist Church. Only one member remained faithful, and it was a very difficult time for the church, the missionary, and his family. Legal cases were opened before the state courts to obtain justice, while the rebels and the Adventist Church attacked continuously, since their purpose was for the Reform Movement to cease to exist here in Suriname. It was very hard to go through such things, to resist the rebellion, and to overcome the loss of property; however, in March 2021, by decision of the judge, the first record of the church was recovered and the rebels were suspended from the records.
The above situation had made it necessary to move forward and apply for a new registration in 2018 with the help of Elder George Gowie from Jamaica, under the name of “International Missionary and Health Society.” This allowed the organization to continue to work legally in the country and to protect the donations and assets that that were acquired afterward.
In December 2019, by court order, the old property was vacated; but miraculously God provided a new facility with housing and a chapel in a very good location. Although it was rented, it provided better facilities and opportunities for the preaching of the gospel. God strengthened the faith of the faithful, the missionary work continued, and new souls heard and embraced the message with joy and gladness and joined the church through baptism. Now there are both an organized church and an organized field. Today we can say to the brethren around the world that in Suriname there is a spiritual family.
With the collaboration of the new members and support of the North American/Caribbean Division, a new piece of land has been obtained in the country’s capital, and it is necessary and urgent to construct a church and housing facility. That is why through this report we turn to all of our brethren around the world to request your support in generous offerings. Your freewill donations will be used for the construction of the house of worship. The Lord bless and multiply your generosity. Jesus will return soon. He asks us to dedicate everything to Him that He has given to us. The Lord has done great things and will do many more as we trust Him and do His will. In the final lines of this report, we express our gratitude to the brethren of the General Conference for their continual encouragement, the brethren of the North American/Caribbean Division, and all who pray for the work in this country. We ask, again, for your prayers and support.
May the Lord help us to continue with the mission that He has given us of being the light of the world and a living reflection of Jesus. All honor and glory be to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!
–Elder Edison Henriquez Moreno
Suriname Field President