forgive to live forgiveness

Walking with Jesus
Living Life God’s Way

What really
Matters

George Washington Carver was born a slave in Missouri around 1864. His parents had been bought in 1855 by Miles Carver, a German immigrant.

When George was a week old, he was captured along with his mother and sister by Confederate raiders from Arkansas, who sold them as slaves in Kentucky. Miles tracked George down and got him back, though not his mother or sister.

The Carvers decided to raise George as their own son, and “Aunt Susan” taught him to read. He was too sickly to work in the fields, so he began studying plants, developing natural pesticides and fungicides, and finding ways to improve the soil. He was so successful that local farmers began to call him “the plant doctor.”
George came to faith in Christ as a young boy. He described the event in a letter he wrote in 1931:

“I was just a mere boy when converted, hardly ten years old. There isn’t much of a story to it. God just came into my heart one afternoon while I was alone in the ‘loft’ of our big barn while I was shelling corn to carry to the mill to be ground into meal.

A dear little white boy, one of our neighbours, about my age came by one Saturday morning, and in talking and playing, he told me he was going to Sunday school tomorrow morning.

I was eager to know what a Sunday school was. He said they sang hymns and prayed. I asked him what prayer was and what they said.

I do not remember what he said; only remember that as soon as he left I climbed up into the loft, knelt down by the barrel of corn and prayed as best I could. I do not remember what I said. I only recall that I felt so good that I prayed several times before I quit. “My brother and myself were the only coloured children in that neighbourhood and of course, we could not go to church or Sunday school, or school of any kind.

“That was my simple conversion, and I have tried to keep the faith.”
Because he was not allowed in the schools in his hometown, George walked ten miles to a town where there was a school he could attend. He arrived after the school had closed and spent the night in a barn. The next day, he met Mariah Watkins from whom he rented a room.

After attending several other schools, he eventually got his high school diploma. In 1888 he got a loan to pay for education and went to Simpson College in Iowa to study art and piano.

His skill at drawing flowers and plants led his professors to encourage him to apply to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State). Carver was so successful that his professors talked him into staying for a master’s degree and becoming the college’s first black faculty member. He completed his degree in 1896. By this point, he had developed a national reputation as a botanist.

In 1896, Booker T. Washington recruited Carver to head the Agricultural Department at Tuskegee Institute, a position which he held for 47 years. In that position, he was as concerned about character development as he was in academics; he even began teaching a Bible study at the request of his students.

His agricultural research at Tuskegee led to a system of crop rotation to repair soils depleted by cotton cultivation. He discovered that alternating cotton with sweet potatoes or legumes such as peanuts not only increased the yield of cotton but also produced food and diversified the cash crops for the farmers.

Carver then began developing alternate uses for sweet potatoes and peanuts to increase the market for the new crops. He ultimately found 118 derivatives from sweet potatoes and 300 from peanuts.

All this brought him to the attention of important figures in government, including Theodore Roosevelt. He also became one of the very few Americans admitted to the Royal Society for the Arts in England (1916).

Carver used his fame to educate American farmers on best practices and to promote racial unity. All through his career he had sought out Christians for fellowship. He saw in the gospel the means to overcome racial and social divisions. Three American presidents consulted with him during this period, and he continued his agricultural research.

In January 1943 Carver fell down a flight of stairs at the Tuskegee Institute. He died of complications from the fall a few days later. His epitaph reads: “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honour in being helpful to the world.”

Carver’s early experiences and conversion would shape his life and work. The early challenges developed a deep inner character that shaped not only his own life, but those with whom he would meet over the course of his life.

A deep love for God will always have a profound impact on one’s life that will produce a selfless desire to serve others. (from Glenn Sunshine, https://breakpoint.org/george-washington- carver/)

HOW DO WE GROW?

When we surrender our hearts to God, we become His children. The Bible describes this process as being “born again”, where we are then accepted and incorporated into a “new tribe”—the family of God.

What will help us grow in our faith?

1 Peter 2:2

1 Peter 1:23 || Psalm 19:7 || 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 || Hebrews 5:12, 13

In the same way, when we start our journey with God, we learn like new babies and young children.

Every day, we mature in faith as our understanding of God deepens. God is our Creator and the giver of all life.

Just as God created our world and all the plants, animals and people within, He will also create new hearts that will transform every part of our life.

The Christian faith, simply stated, reminds us that our fundamental problem is not moral; rather, our fundamental problem is spiritual.

It is not just that we are immoral, but that a moral life alone cannot bridge what separates us from God. Herein lies the cardinal difference between the moralising religions and Jesus’ offer to us.

Jesus does not offer to make bad people good but to make dead people alive”

— The Grand Weaver—How God Shapes Us

CHILDREN OF GOD

Why do we need God’s help in order for us to grow spiritually?

1 Corinthians 2:14

1Corinthians 1:18,23,25,27
|| Matthew 13:11 || John 3:6 || Romans 8:5–8

GOD IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE

What symbols from nature does God use to represent how He will help us grow?

Psalm 84:11 || Hosea 14:5

Malachi 4:2 || Micah 5:7 || John 1:9–12; 8:12 || Revelation 21:23; 22:17

Just as living plants need the right conditions to grow—sunlight, soil and water—we also need to be aware of our surroundings and our connection to God, the source of all life.

“Apart from Him you have no life. You have no power to resist temptation or to grow in grace and holiness.
Abiding in Him, you may flourish.”
Ellen G. White

Why is it so important for us to stay close to Jesus?

John 15:5

John 15:4–7 || Colossians 2:6 || Romans 6:22 || Psalm 91:1 || John 14:16

No amount of worry, anxiety or effort on our part will grow our spiritual life—only God and His life-giving care will help us grow. That is why it is so important to remain connected to God.

“The plants and flowers grow not by their own
care or anxiety or effort, but by receiving that which God has furnished to minister to their life.
The child cannot, by any anxiety or power of its own, add to its stature. No more can you, by anxiety or effort of yourself,
secure spiritual growth.”

Ellen G. White

When a flower grows, it naturally turns itself towards the sun—locating the source will help find nourishment to grow strong and healthy.

In the same way, we should turn our focus toward Jesus, the Son of God, so that His light shines on us and is mirrored in our lives. The work of God produces in us a God-like character that aligns us to His will and purpose.

If you turn away from Jesus or distance yourself from Him, you will no longer grow spiritually, and be powerless to resist temptation.

We have a great need of Jesus. Just as the branches of a vine need to remain connected to the main vine in order to stay alive and produce fruit, we too need to be connected to Jesus to live a fulfilled life.

FINDING HOPE IN JESUS

Where does our hope come from?

Hebrews 12:2

Ephesians 2:8 || Luke 17:5 || Micah 7:7 || Hebrews 2:10 || Isaiah 8:17; 45:22

As we have trusted Jesus to forgive our sins, we can also trust Him to lead and guide us each day of our life.

“Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness—all depend upon our union with Christ. It is by communion with Him, daily, hourly— by abiding in Him that we are to grow in grace.”

— Ellen G. White

As we follow Jesus, our lives will be filled with meaning, purpose and a deep sense of joy as we experience His amazing grace.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “Author and the Finisher of our faith”—He has started something incredible in our lives, and He will stay with us every step of the way, creating a faith that He also makes perfect.

“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 16:8)
Ellen G. White

In Romans, Paul makes it clear, when God is for us, who can be against us! With this understanding, your life will change dramatically—your perspective, your understanding of self and others will be transformed.

How are we to walk with Jesus?

Colossians 2:6,7

Colossians 1:30 || 1 John 5:11, 12, 20 || John 14:6 || 2 Corinthians 5:7

When we make the decision to follow Jesus, it is not a one-off decision but a daily choice to continue our walk with Him. Christ must be first, last and always.

When you accepted Jesus, you recognised your need of a Saviour; you also recognised that by your own efforts, you could not make yourself right with God. Because of Jesus, you are able to come to God, and grow in your faith.

“If I am to wholly follow the Lord Jesus Christ, I must forsake everything that is contrary to Him.” (Psalm 16:8)
Aiden Wilson Tozer

Jesus promises us peace that we have never before experienced. It is not the type of temporary peace that we might be used to, which may be disrupted at any moment. The peace that Jesus offers is a peace that transcends all understanding.
Jesus invites us to put our faith and trust in Him because He will never let us down or disappoint. We can always be confident in His strength and His steadfast love.

STARTING EACH DAY WITH GOD

What will we find if we seek God?

Proverbs 8:17

Psalm 143:8–10; 91:14–16 || 2 Corinthians 3:18 || Matthew5:6; 6:33; 7:7–11

One of the best habits you can adopt is to start your day with God each morning. When you wake up, pray to God and ask Him to be with you and guide you through the day. Dedicate your plans for the day to God and ask Him to help you spend your day in a way that will honour Him.

“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly yours. I lay all my plans at your feet. Use me today in your service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in you.’ This is a daily matter. Surrender all your plans to Him.”

Ellen G. White

By doing this, you will remind yourself each day of the commitment you have made to live your life as a follower of Jesus and thus your life will be moulded more and more after the life of Christ.

What will we experience once we put our trust in God?

Isaiah 26:3,4

2 Corinthians 3:18 || Romans 5:1 || Isaiah 57:19–21
|| John 14:27; 17:3 || Ephesians 2:14–16

Jesus promises us peace that we have never before experienced. It is not the type of temporary peace that we might be used to, which may be disrupted at any moment. The peace that Jesus offers is a peace that transcends all understanding.

Jesus invites us to put our faith and trust in Him because He will never let us down or disappoint. We can always be confident in His strength and His steadfast love.

Your weakness is united to His strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty to His enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ.
Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon the beauty, the perfection of His character.”

Ellen G. White

How will Satan try to distract us to keep us from following Jesus?

Mark 4:19

1 Timothy 6:9, 10, 17|| 1 John 2:15–17 || Luke14:18-20; 21:34–36

If we are focused on ourselves, we won’t be focused on Jesus. Satan would like nothing more than for us to be distracted and grow distant from Jesus. Satan’s continued effort to keep our attention diverted away from Jesus towards self prevents us growing closer with God.

Satan will seek to distract you with either the temporary pleasures of this world or to discourage you with the faults of others or feelings of your own failures and inadequacies.

Do not be misled by his devices. Do not let Satan cause you to lose your focus on Jesus and the decision you’ve made to follow Him.

“If you only think about yourself —how much money can I make, what can I buy, how nice is my house, what kind of fancy car do I have—over the long term, I think, you get bored. I think your life becomes diminished.

The way to live a full life is to think: What can I do for others?”

— Barack Obama

TRUSTING JESUS

How can we be confident that we have eternal life?

1 John 5:12,13

John17:2;  3:16–18; 10:28 ,29;1:12;6:54-58; 15:4–6
|| 2 John 9 || Isaiah 41:10

Jesus has promised, that if we believe in Him and accept His gift of salvation, we will be saved. Do not doubt this promise. Once we have accepted Jesus, we don’t need to be anxious over whether or not we are saved. Trust in Jesus the same way you put your faith in Him when you first believed. The victory is already won: Jesus has fought our battle. Because of Jesus, sin has lost its hold on us and we no longer need to be held by its power.

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

C.S. Lewis

What will be the consequence if we turn away from God and return to sin?

Ezekiel 18:24

Ezekiel 18:20-23; 3:20, 21; 33:12–19 || 1 Samuel 15:11 || Hebrews 10:29, 38, 39; 6:4–6 ||Psalm 125:4, 5 || 2Peter2:20–22;1:10

Satan tempts us because he knows that once we have accepted Jesus, we will not be alone. Continue to fix your eyes upon Jesus and let Him be your source of strength. Talk often of Jesus and think always of Him.

Put away your doubts; dismiss your fears and rest in God; He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. When we leave ourselves in His hands, He promises to make us “more than conquerors” through His immense love for us (Romans 8:37).

When does God promise we will find Him?

Jeremiah 29:13

Jeremiah 29:11–14 || Isaiah 55:6, 7 || Deuteronomy 4:29-31;30:2–6

When Jesus was living on Earth, His followers were drawn to Him. They heard the words He spoke and saw the amazing things He did and they wanted to be with Him and to learn from Him. The plans they originally had for their lives paled in comparison with the glimpse they saw of Jesus. It was enough to make them want to leave their old lives behind and follow Him.

“When those disciples heard the words of Jesus, they felt their need of Him. They sought, they found, they followed Him.”

-— Ellen G. White

What will be a struggle for everyone who wants to follow God, and where should we look to for help and hope?

Romans 7:19

Galatians 5:17 || Psalms 119:5 || Philippians 2:13; 1:6

Our sinful nature wars with the new heart that God has given to us. Oswald Chamber wrote:

““It is only when God has transformed our nature and we have entered into the experience of sanctification that the fight begins.

The warfare is not against sin; we can never fight against sin—Jesus Christ conquered that in His redemption of us.

The conflict is waged over turning our natural life into a spiritual life. This is never done easily, nor does God intend that it be so.

It is accomplished only through a series of moral choices. God does not make us holy in the sense that He makes our character holy.

He makes us holy in the sense that He has made us innocent before Him. And then we have to turn that innocence into holy character through the moral choices we make.”
(My Utmost for His Highest)

Spiritual giants of the Bible—the prophets, kings, and even Jesus’ closest followers—all faced the same common struggles: the battle against self. We read of pride, selfishness, bitterness, anger, jealousy and doubt.

They broke promises and put themselves first, but they also humbled themselves when they realised their failures. When they repented and asked God for forgiveness, He forgave them and cast their sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

The power of the love of Jesus is what brings about this transformation of character. When Jesus abides in the heart, the whole nature is transformed.:

What will our lives look like when we are filled with the love of Jesus?

Ephesians 4:15

1 Peter 1:22; 2:2 || John 15:5 || 1 John 3:18, 19, 22 || Proverbs11:25

When we have Jesus in our hearts, He will work in us—in our thoughts, words and actions—and we will grow more like Him.

In this way, we will always be learning and the Holy Spirit will shape our character to become more like Jesus.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

(Romans 12:2)

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