Transcription

Seeking FirstThe KingdomSTEWARDSHIP WEEK OF REVIVAL2021

Table of ContentsIntroduction. 2About the Author . 2ReadingsDay 1 From Sadness to Singing. 3Day 2 The Delight of Kindness in Real Life. 6Day 3 No Compromise in Babylon. 10Day 4 Missionary in Samaria . 14Day 5 Healing Time . 18Day 6 Back to Bethel. 22Day 7 The Gift of Love . 26Day 8 Steward for the End time . 29SEEKING FIRST THE KINGDOM1

IntroductionAs we approach the end of the year, we invite you topause and reflect on some major life issues. From a globalperspective, for many of us, 2020 will go down in history as aterrifying and disruptive year. The events took us by surprise,though we are attentive to the unfolding of biblical prophecies.A significant amount of energy was mobilised to adapt to newrealities and to shift into a protective mode. Too much for justone year! Going through such a whirlwind has the capacity todrift us away from our anchor points. A spiritual check-up isnecessary for our wellbeing.The Stewardship Revival Week, written by Pastor Ioan CâmpianTâtar, the Stewardship Ministries Director of the InterEuropean Division, serves as an instrument for a thoroughintrospection exercise. He probes into some Bible stories andleads his readers to ask the fundamental life question: Am Iseeking God first in the nitty-gritty of my existence?This year’s World Stewardship Emphasis Day will be heldin December. The week prior is recognised as StewardshipEmphasis Week, a time when Adventist stewardship leadersaround the world will lead out in the morning worship serviceand conduct afternoon seminars; encouraging members to putGod first in all aspects of their lives.We encourage each local church to plan and organise the“God First” week of prayer to nurture God’s stewards for theirjourney to eternity. The General Conference Stewardship teamprays that this program will serve as a refreshing and refillingstop for each of us.SeekingFirst TheKingdomSTEWARDSHIPWEEK OF REVIVALAuthor: Ioan Câmpian TâtarPastor Ioan Câmpian Tâtar (age 62) is currently director of thePublishing, Stewardship, and Spirit of Prophesy departments atthe Inter-European Division. He received a degree in Economy,a B.A. in Theology at the Babeș-Bolyai University, a Master’sin Management at University of Bucharest, and a Master’s inLeadership at Andrews University, Michigan, USA.2Pastor Tâtar initially served as pastor of several churches inthe Bacău Region. Since 1992, he has served in leadershippositions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania:first as Treasurer until 2009, and from 2009 to 2015 as GeneralSecretary. Pastor Tâtar is married to Aurora, who is working asa physician, and together they have a daughter, Lidia, 32, and agranddaughter, Nina, who is 2-years-old.STEWARDSHIP WEEK OF REVIVAL 2021

“For this child I prayed, andthe Lord has granted me mypetition which I asked of Him”(1 Samuel 1:27).Day1FromSadness toSingingWe all have an image of how a family ofbelievers, the local church, or even thechurch as a whole should look. We wantchurch members to be eager to study theWord of God, like those in Berea (Acts 17:11),with an active prayer life and involvementin mission. Of course, a living and spirituallypowerful church is made up of consecratedfamilies, families that study the Word ofGod and make a daily habit of praying toand praising Him. I invite you to go in yourmind to the time of the judges. It was one ofthe most troubling periods in the history ofthe people of Israel. The moral and spiritualdeterioration is obvious; this period can becalled the Dark Ages of the Old Testament.The first two chapters of the book of1 Samuel present the real life, withoutretouching, of a family of those times.Elkanah gathers all the members of hisfamily every year and goes to Shiloh, thespiritual and religious centre of Israel, “toworship and sacrifice to the Lord (1 Samuel1:3). Seeing the whole family heading to theplace of public worship was something to beappreciated in those days, as it is today.Instead, the reality beyond the appearancewas different. According to the customsthen, if a family did not have children,some would take a second wife. All suchexamples in the Bible speak of the negativeconsequences of such a wrong step, andElkanah’s case is no exception.SEEKING FIRST THE KINGDOMA Family and aNation in CrisisThe narrator presents the tenserelationships within this family. Exactlywhen they most needed a joyful attitudefor their worship to become a real heartfeltexperience, everything turned to bitterness,strife, and disappointment. Elkanah hadtwo wives—Peninnah and Hannah—andthere was much tension between the twoof them. Even at the place of worship,Peninnah continued to denigrate Hannahbecause Hannah was childless in words thathurt her soul (1 Samuel 1:6). The only thingHannah could do was to withdraw from thecelebration in tears. A family in spiritual andrelational crisis actually showed what washappening at that time on a different scale,at the level of the whole nation.Pilgrims from all over the country came toShiloh for one reason—to worship. Thosethere who should have led all the peoplein the holy act of worship “did not knowthe Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12). This is the mainreason for the moral and spiritual crisisthat the people of Israel were experiencing.Compromise led to conflict and chaos.External enemies attacked the nation (1Samuel 4-7), and corruption prevailedwithin. The sons of Eli, the high priest, wereguilty of a great sin because they “abhorredthe offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:17).From this sad story, we see that the devil’sstrategy is to ruin God’s children. Whenworship is absent or becomes a failure at apersonal, family, or church level, the devil’svictory is assured. For this reason, “the wordof the Lord was rare in those days; there wasno widespread revelation” (1 Samuel 3:1).Like Hannah, who could not have children,Israel had become a fruitless people, abarren and fruitless land.God Still WorksThe strongest proof that God does not giveup on us is the book of Judges, the books ofSamuel, the entire Bible, and especially thecross at Golgotha. God is working, but Hechooses people to carry out His plans.He chose Hannah, an ordinary woman whowas not a prophet like Deborah or Hulda,but who had a spiritual sensitivity and fear ofGod. Her name appears on the pages of theHoly Scriptures along with the great men offaith for the simple reason that she prayed.As a result of her prayer, the history of thepeople of Israel turned and took a newdirection. If she had not prayed, would webe talking today about Samuel, the prophetand judge, whose leadership resulted in realmoral and spiritual reform? He is the onewho ensured the transition from the periodof the judges to the monarchy. He wept forSaul, but he had the privilege of anointingDavid, a man “after His own heart” (1 Samuel13:14), as king.Hannah longed to become a mother, andthe lack of children was a shame in herculture, a sign of divine displeasure. Littleby little, however, this dream of hers diedand had become the object of Peninnah’smockery. This time, though, when Peninnahmocked her, Hannah did somethingcompletely unusual. She rose from the table,not to mourn in solitude, but to carry theburden of her soul before God in prayer. Theexpression repeated many times regarding3

this event is, “before the Lord” (1 Samuel1:12). “Before the Lord” she prays and cries;she makes a promise; here, she stays for along time, and maybe she would have stayedlonger if she had not been interrupted by Eli,the high priest.This expression is one consecrated in theOld Testament; the worship had to takeplace before the Lord. God and not manshould be in the centre of worship. What aneed we have today of such a worship, inwhich singing, praying, preaching, or anyother element of worship is done to the Lordand not for other people.Hannah asked God for a child, and thereason she asked for this was clearlyexpressed. It was not for the mockery tocease or to have the shame of infertilityremoved, but to give God a gift, the mostprecious gift, a child. Hannah knows thata true relationship with God, like anyrelationship, develops not only by askingbut also by giving. This is why her prayer isunique in the Bible and becomes a vow (1Samuel 1:11). Hannah’s gift, just like Mary’sgift (John 12:1-8), is so precious because it isa gift of sacrifice. She promises and fulfils itwith all her heart.A PromiseBefore OwningStaying “before the Lord,” Hannah makesa promise to God that she will return thechild even before having him. A vow is aninitiative of the worshipper it is an act ofworship. During the Old Testament period,most of the elements of public worship14were conditioned by the presence of priests.One could not offer a sacrifice without theintercession of the priests.But the promise, or the vow, was then andcontinues to be today something done indirect relationship with God, without theintercession of any person. True worshipcosts. It costs time, preparation, offerings,and tithe. David said he could not bring God“a sacrifice that would cost him nothing”(2 Samuel 24:24). But, most of all, worshipdoes not cost us, it costs God, by giving HisSon. The One who first promised an offeringis not us, but God Himself (Genesis 3:15).Worship without offering is not worship!Hannah’s promise is the promise of faithand love. Ellen White tells us that in thosetimes, “such a prayer could rarely be seen.Eli’s reaction is obvious in this regard” (1Samuel 1:14). I believe that on her behalf,God could say the words: “O woman, great isyour faith!” (Matthew 15:28).Hannah promised that the child would be“consecrated to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:11).In special words, Ellen White expressesHannah’s faith, love, and consistency:“When separated from her child, the faithfulmother’s solicitude did not cease. Every dayhe was the subject of her prayers. Every yearshe made, with her own hands, a robe ofservice for him; and as she went up with herhusband to worship at Shiloh, she gave thechild this reminder of her love.”1 Hannah notonly makes promises to God, but she alsokeeps her word! (1 Samuel 1:26, 27).Hope For Difficult TimesQuestions:There are many precious truths that we canlearn from Hannah’s example. We can seehow God can use the negative experiencesin our lives to create something great. Hecan use the most painful trials to teach uswhat trusting in Him means.1.If a single prayer could change thehistory of a nation through God’sintervention, what could happen todayif we pray?2.Standing “before the Lord,” what arethe things we promise, personally, inthe family or as a church?3.Are there ways through which we canalso express our hope and trust in Godtoday?4.Why do you think Hannah was able tofulfil her vow and bring her preciousoffering when she realised the corruptspiritual condition of religious leadersat that time?Hannah learned to trust God in all thosethings that were beyond her power tocontrol. Now, as I write down these thoughts(2 April, 2020), almost the whole world isin quarantine, worried about what couldcome next. The fear of contamination andof what will happen tomorrow has coveredall humanity. For Hannah, suffering andthe trial she was going through was a callto prayer and trust in God. She prayed, andwhen she left the place of prayer, “her facewas no longer sad” (1 Samuel 1:18). On herface there were no more tears, but a smileof joy. Through trust and hope before theLord at Shiloh, Hannah found peace evenbefore receiving an answer to her prayer.Imagine Elkanah’s home the day Hannahsaw the divine intervention and the answerto her prayer in her life—when Samuel wasborn!When we come “before the Lord” throughprayer, we recognise His sovereignty;nothing is out of His control. There is hopefor times of crisis in the family, in the church,and in the whole world. We have a God whotakes care of and wants to work for thosewho trust Him. Hannah’s song (1 Samuel2:1-11) talks about this. When you see God’sintervention, you cannot stop singing!I PromiseTo SET APART the firstmoments of each dayto commune with theLord through PRAYER,the STUDY of the Bible,Spirit of Prophecy andthe Sabbath Schoollesson, and in FAMILYWORSHIP.Ellen G. White, Christian Education, p. 214.STEWARDSHIP WEEK OF REVIVAL 2021

“And she said, Ohmy lord, as thy soulliveth, my lord, I amthe woman that stoodby thee here, prayingunto the Lord. For thischild I prayed; and theLord hath given me mypetition which I askedof him: Therefore alsoI have lent him to theLord; as long as heliveth he shall be lentto the Lord.”1 Samuel 1: 26-28SEEKING FIRST THE KINGDOMChildren’s Story:Johnny’s Faithful Prayer“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom ofGod as a little child, will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:15).Jesus loves children in a special way, andHe always likes to answer their simple,honest prayers. There is a true story abouta low-income family going through a seriousfinancial crisis and struggling for their dailyneeds. The father had lost his job shortlybefore winter, and he had no money tocover the needs of his family. His wife andtwo young children did not complain, evenas the amount of food became much lesseach day. The m