Beulah Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Children's Day Sermon
The children presented the program to the church on May 8, 2010. The sermon presented is as follows:
The earliteen class act out the story of the six blind men and the elephant
Different people, different opinions. How does this story relate to people’s perception about God? Have you ever stop to wonder why there are so many different Christian denominations? What is interesting is that they all read the same Bible. Like the six blind men many Christians only experience part of the truth and believe that they have the whole truth. How would they come to see and understand “the whole picture about God?” The devil tries to blind people to the whole truth about God. We can come to see the whole picture through God’s word, the works of His Spirit, and the life of His Son.
The main reason people stay away from Christianity is that they have a hard time with what other people say about God and what they think they see God doing or not doing in our world. Here are three questions that young and old have shared as to why they don’t believe or choose to follow God:
1.      If God is good, then why do evil and bad seem to reign in the world?
2.      If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He do something about pain and suffering?
3.      If God is supposed to be so close, why do I feel His absence?
People asked these questions because they only have a snapshot view about God and not the whole picture. Remember the word of God can give us the whole picture.
Snapshot 1: Why a good God is allowing evil to reign?
Let us read Rev. 12: 7-11. You’ve got the picture; evil and bad seem to reign in the world because the devil and his angels are seeking to take control of people’s heart and mind. On the other hand God is working on saving us. He has sent His son to die to save us. We can overcome the evil in this world through the blood of Jesus. Do you get the picture? There is a battle for the control of our minds which is referred to as “The Great Controversy”. Because of God’s love for us he has given us freedom of choice. He does not force us to follow Him. 1 Kings 18: 20, 21. Joshua 24:15.
Snapshot 2: Why an all-powerful God doesn’t do something about pain and suffering?
Let us read Genesis 3: 15-19. Pain and suffering are natural consequences or resulted from sin. However, what is God doing about it? Rev. 21: 1, 4. God has a plan to take those who accept Him as Lord and Savoir to a new earth where there will be no more sorrow and pain. If God uses His power to stop pain and suffering now, how would you know what the devil is capable of doing? When God finally destroy the devil and his angels He wants to prove to the universe that He has a just cause to destroy him. While we are citizens in this world we will experience pain and suffering as we prepare to become citizens of God’s Kingdom. Are you getting the whole picture? While we experience pain and hardship in this world the heavenly hosts are readily available to strengthen and comfort us.
Snapshot 3: Why am I feeling God’s absence when He is suppose to be close?
Let us examine a few passages of scripture to get the whole picture Isaiah 59: 1-2. ‘Today if you hear His voice hardened not your heart.” “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”. You may now turn your Bible to  Isaiah 41:10, 43:1-3. John 16: 7-8. I am sure you now have a full view of God’s presence. God is always present with us through the Holy Spirit but if we do not respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading, we feel as if God is absent. Keep this picture ever before you, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
As we move away from the snapshot views about God and take a step back and look at the whole picture we will see that we are caught in a cross fire in a cosmic spiritual battle and we will also see how we can safe guard our hearts and minds for eternal victory. The fight is about character- God’s character. God’s character is in question. The Desire of Ages p.22 says “The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force…. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan.”  
We have looked at how God has manifested his character through His Word and we know that His son Jesus came to this earth to give us a clearer picture of who God really is. In Jesus’ departure He has left the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to manifest the character of God. How well are you doing? If you have already accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior when others look at your character, what picture of God are they seeing? People often say, “I don’t care what people think of me. If they don’t like me for who I am, then forget them.” Although you may choose to live as if people’s opinion of you don’t affect you, you must be careful about misrepresenting the character of God. God cares about what people think about Him. Why do you think God has stepped into our world to communicate to us what He is like and what His thoughts about us are? What about the times when God has spoken- at the Red Sea? In the fire from Mount Carmel? Through David and Goliath? During Gideon’s miraculous victory? With Daniel in the lion’s den? At the feeding of the 5000? The healing of the leper? The calming of the sea? What about Calvary?
 You may not know but your loyalty to God depends upon what you think about Him. Imagine if the day before the Super Bowl or the World Cup you could speed forward in time and know the outcome of the game. If you knew who the winner was going to be, you could side with the winning team. Knowing the winner is a kind of strange luxury, but what we know from Scripture, God has already won the great controversy between good and evil. God has conquered sin, He has made provision for salvation, He died and paid the debt for humanity’s sin, and rose from the grave victorious. In a way the game is over and in a way it is not. Even though God has conquered sin and death, He is fighting to capture our heart. If you think God is the winner you will certainly side with the winner.
As you look at the picture of God you need to know that as you choose the winning side you will become under attack from the devil Rev.12:17. The devil attacks us from inside and outside. Let’s find and read Ephesians 6: 10-18, Romans 7: 21-25. We are attacked within by our sinful nature, which has been a part of our bloodline ever since Adam and Eve sinned. The internal war for your loyalty to God is like two lions living inside of you, the lion of good and the lion of evil. They fight. If you feed and strengthen the bad lion and strave the good lion, who wins the fight? If you feed both lions equally, what is the outcome? A nasty, exhausting brawl of wills to be loyal to God or be loyal to the self-centered kingdom of Satan. Of course, what happens if you feed the good lion and starve the bad lion? The bad lion loses his ability to conquer day in day out. You feed the  good lion through prayer, Bible study, service, and obedience. You feed the bad lion by giving in to selfishness, being disobedient, feeding our minds on impure thoughts etc. Many people are feeding both lions. You cannot be on both sides. 2 Kings 17:23 and Matthew 6:24.
It is clear that the great controversy isn’t really about Satan. It’s about God. We all know that Satan is wrong, evil and lost. But God’s reputation is on trial. When we see only a small portion of the picture, it is hard to choose to be in His kingdom. That is why we have the Scripture. God wants more than anything else for you to know the truth about Him. The Scripture is his way of letting you see who He really is. The only way to really know is to look at what He has already revealed and let Him prove His goodness to us in an abiding friendship. Most people would never sign up to be best friend with the devil. But in the middle is where many stay-not committing one way or the another. Now does that make much sense?. Again look at the short-term and long-term benefits of being in God’s Kingdom. Imagine a time when we will be able to see him for who He really is more than just snapshots.
If God is concern about what people say about His character and sent His Son into the world for us to have the true picture of God, then we as citizens of God’s Kingdom should be concerned about how we reflect the character of God. We are His image. When people look and interact with us, are they seeing the whole picture of God’s character or only snapshot views? If we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives we will certainly reflect the whole picture of God. The fruit of the Spirit is comprised of the character traits of the citizens of God’s Kingdom. It is one fruit and a snapshot of the fruit is not enough. As we put the whole picture together, reflect upon your personal life (do not think about anyone else) to see if you are portraying these character traits. Gal. 5: 22,23 NIV (see the insert in your bulletin) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness) and self-control
 (Eight children will hold up the word of each fruit of the Spirit as the text is read.)
The first snapshot of the fruit that is mentioned is love. Let us put love at the core of the fruit and look at the whole picture of love. What is interesting here is that the other snapshots of the fruit of the Spirit can be seem in the picture of love. Let us compare the two pictures. Read 1 Cor. 13:
4-7 (see insert in bulletin)
A fruit would be posted on the wall with characteristics of love. As the answers are given the eight children will place the corresponding fruit of the spirit on the fruit.
Looking at the picture of love, where can you see
Answers. Love:
Rejoices in the truth
Does not envy
Keeps no record of wrong
Does not delight in evil
Is patient
Is kind
Always protects
Trust always
Hope always
Does not boast
Is not proud
Is not self-seeking
Is not rude
Is not easily angered
We can safely say that the character traits of the citizens of God’s kingdom is love because love encompasses the entire fruit of the Spirit. To reinforce this point let us try a few counterexamples. Let us select another snapshot from the fruit of the Spirit and look at it to see if we can recognize the other fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness: 1 Cor. 13:2 … if I have faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing. Faithfulness as you can see is only part of the picture, not the whole. Goodness: 1 Cor. 13: 2 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I am nothing. A kind person maybe impatience and lack self-control. However, a person who has the love of Jesus in his/her heart has joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
To go a little further, what are the specific character traits of each part of the fruit? Character traits are identified by: 1. How someone acts. 2. What someone says. 3. Someone’s appearance. Let us use these pointers to picture specific character traits of someone who possesses the fruit of the Spirit or love:For example
 Joy- Someone who rejoices in the Lord always, reflects  joy despite their circumstances. We are not asked to rejoice in our circumstances because many times we are faced with unpleasant ones but we are asked to rejoice in the Lord always. He never fails. He is always good and He never changes. Regardless of how unpleasant our circumstances maybe we should not cease to praise God for who He is and for dying to save us and the blessed hope of His soon return.
Peace- Are you at peace with yourself, your family, your neighbor, your co-worker, your church, your family, with God? Are you hurting over circumstances in your life or other people? Then turn the camera on yourself. “It is the love of self that brings unrest…” The Desire of Ages p.330. The word of God is calling on us to release all our burdens at His feet and be at peace. Matt. 11: 28, 29; Heb.12:14; Rom. 12:18. Murmuring, bickering, fighting, and segregating are in contrast to the picture of God.
Try to picture the others: How would someone act if he or she is patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and have self-control? If you are not sure let us look to the Prime Example Jesus. If you are faced with a circumstance and you do not know how to respond then ask this popular question: “What would Jesus do?” It is abbreviated WWJD. We fail to reflect the character of God because our lives is preoccupied with our selfish agenda (fighting for want we want and what we think is right). Each of the blind men thought they were right about the elephant. Do not allow the devil to blind your eyes about the whole picture of God. Surrender your life to Him today. Allow Him to work out the agenda of your life. Stop fighting to vindicate your character. God will do that for you. Put God first. Before you act, think about the picture your actions and words are painting about God. Keep this slogan before you: WWJD “What Would Jesus Do?