WHEN THE DEVIL SMILES:

WHEN THE DEVIL SMILES:
THE CASE FOR SABBATH SCHOOL
BY KEITH L MAJOR

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Introduction
We live in a time when humanity seems to be fast reaching its lowest point. Spirituality is declining significantly. The number of Atheists in the world has doubled, and there is a marked increase in the number of people not associating themselves with a denomination. The Seventh- day Adventist Church has not been unaffected by this. There is a marked decline in spirituality in the church. Some have proffered that institutions like the Sabbath School and its companion the Sabbath School lessons have become outdated, and the program needs to be revamped. We are not meeting the needs of the millennials of this generation. “We need to change to meet their needs,” they say. It is statements like the above that led me to write this article and its topic: “WHEN THE DEVIL SMILES.”
 
KNOWLEDGE OF BIBLE STORIES
Think of it: all the stories you learned in the Bible inclusive of Creation, Peter Rescued from Prison, The Strength of Samson, Elijah at Mount Carmel, Jonah in the Belly of the Fish, Moses, Jesus, Paul and his exploits, to name a few, were learned in Sabbath School at an early age. These are some of the most exciting stories that teachers fed to you. As you got older, you studied more of the details of these stories. This led to your broad knowledge of the stories and memorizing numerous Bible texts that still stick with you. Take away Sabbath School, and it doesn't happen. Therefore, the belief about bringing back spirituality to the church through adjusting the Sabbath School and revamping to meet the needs of the millennials is a treacherous thought.
Before I give you twelve things the Sabbath School does, let me cite a personal experience.
 
MY EXPERIENCE
I resolved to study my Bible every day. I wanted a track to run on- a disciplined way, if you please, to systematically do this. I decided that the study of the Sabbath School lesson, in addition to reading the stated texts, involved much of the texts before and after any subsequent readings. I found I gained energy and excitement; I also found that I wanted to share in the Sabbath School class. I began to share more than anyone else. This led to the leader letting me teach the lesson for a few years without being appointed teacher. I found that my enthusiasm for study spread among the class, as they wanted to know where I got such insight from. Gradually, more and more of the class began to study until one day the entire class of 18 had studied.
The Sabbath School leaders decided to put me in a new smaller class. Soon that class became the biggest class, as others wanted the excitement and power and information that came from this group. The Sabbath School leaders began complaining that my class was too big and was “drowning out” the other classes. For me truly, the Sabbath School is my temperature of spirituality.
 
12 BENEFITS OF STUDYING THE SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
1.     An excitement grows within you for the Word of God.
2.     You find answers to everyday problems within the Word.
3.     You look for spiritual solutions to all of your concerns.
4.     You find that the readings for each day help you to deal with a specific problem of that day.
5.     Your review on Sabbath morning is more than a review of the lesson but a reminder of how each text helped you overcome the challenges of the week. Emphasizing the power and triumph of Scripture in everyday life.
6.     You get to feel the power from Scripture more than other readings, and you truly see the Word as an answer to daily survival.
7.     Others look up to you as a source of spiritual help and guidance, and they begin to study.
8.     You begin to develop sermons from your knowledge of the Word.
9.     A peace develops in you regardless of whatever happens in the society during the week. You feel you have the answer or know where to get it.
10.  The excitement that you generate spreads, and others seek to copy your attitude.
11.  Bonus: There is excitement in the church. 
12.  Sabbath School attendance improves greatly; it's contagious.
 
Take away those twelve things and the devil smiles. The Book is not being read. Secularism and materialism creep in. Yes, the Bible may be the most sold book on earth in the most languages, but it may be bordering on being the least read. The 66 books and thousands of chapters and verses can make it an intimidating force to the new reader. The Sabbath School and the lessons provide an inroad into charting the course of reading this large tome (book).
 
Every week when the attendance is sparse,
The devil smiles.
When hands don't go up for the study of the lesson plan,
The devil smiles.
When children come to church and know not their memory verse,
The devil smiles.
When you encounter problems and frustrations and haven't read the Word in a week and you come to church frustrated or stay away...the devil smiles.
When the attendance at Divine hour far outweighs the attendance in Sabbath School,
The devil smiles.
When your faith weakens because the hearing of the Word produces faith and we’re not studying, The devil smiles.