Design for Living

A sermon presented by Elder Theodore Lucas at a large youth gathering.

THEODORE LUCAS, Secretary, General Conference Missionary Volunteer Department

We are met here today to give counsel and guidance to our young people. They are standing on the threshold of life poised for service. The future opens before them like a rough uncharted sea of confusion, economic upsets, and religious indifference.

God never intended that we live in a strange and troubled world. In the begin­ning He created everything beautiful and peaceful. Ellen G. White describes the first home and its environment in the following words:

The blue heavens were its dome; the earth, with its delicate flowers and carpet of living green, was its floor; and the leafy branches of the goodly trees were its canopy. Its walls were hung with the most magnificent adornings,—the handiwork of the great Master-artist.—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 49.

But man wrought havoc with God's Eden, and today we face a crisis. We face it to­gether. We are a part of it. The storm beats its fury upon our heads, and even though we find shelter for a time, it will not be permanent. The issues before the world are on a huge, unprecedented scale, and we are moving toward the great and terrible day of the Lord.

This is a thumbnail picture of our heri­tage. However, we are not to let this picture discourage us. We must prepare for it as we would for a great contest. Our opponent is well able to overcome us unless we stretch our muscles to the limit of great living. So let the opposition be keen; then the at­tainment of our goal will be the more glo­rious.

Young people have a right to expect great things from life. They want their totals to mount high in the estimation of others. They want to participate in worthy endeavors. They want recognition, security, affection, and new experiences. These are the natural desires of youth and they are right, but youth must know that to attain these pinnacles they must have a plan, a pattern, a design for living.

Youth is synonymous with strength, cour­age, ambition, success, and conquest. Youth delights in difficulties. Youth rushes to aid a noble cause. Youth solves baffling problems. Youth fights battles. Youth reaches goals. Youth breaks records.

Great issues always produce great leaders among youth. So in this greatest of all crises, young people, recognizing the solemnity of the times, will dedicate their lives and will sacrifice to finish the work of the gospel in the world. What a rare opportunity is ours in witnessing the culmination of God's pur­poses in the earth!

It is inspiring to read of the youth of the Bible and of their witness. The trials and persecutions to which they were subjected brought them to triumph with the church. It is a tribute indeed to the church of apostolic times that young people were in­cluded in its planning and its future. The courage, enthusiasm, and freshness of youth were recognized. They became a part of the movement of their day.

It is just so in the Advent Movement today. There are young people who will be thrust into the midst of danger and suf­fering, and it is there that they will strike the heaviest blows for God. Results of over­whelming importance will depend upon their alertness in the cause of God.

Youth's Need of Power and Principle

This is a day when "power" is a popular word. This is a power age. We hear of power, we read of it, and we see demonstra­tions of it everywhere. Our ears have been pricked by words such as "atomic," "jet propulsion," and "radar." But the kind of power we are discussing today is the power of God unto salvation.

No one can be successful in any endeavor unless the power intake is greater than the power output. The longer a machine runs the more service it requires. The harder an individual works the more food his body must have. We would challenge the young people to avail themselves of Bible power; all other literature is secondary. If the world's best Man fed upon the Scriptures, so must we. We will find it inviting, reveal­ing, inspiring, appealing, exciting, and also reproaching. Search as for a treasure, for in it are the gems of great and successful living. From the Bible we can obtain the power of principle that comes to one whose con­science is as "true to duty as the needle to the pole." Daniel and Joseph and Esther proved themselves true to the principles of their early training. These young people were honored as they yielded themselves to God and helped fulfill His purpose.

Paul accepted the challenge of the cross as a principle in his life. He determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He accepted his share of responsi­bility and suffering. He admonished young Timothy to do likewise, and this admoni­tion reaches down through the ages to the young people of today.

Paul found "the way" on the road leading to Damascus. Luther found his Lord while studying the book of Romans. James White caught the vision under the Advent preach­ing of William Miller.

How is it with you, young man, young woman? Set your mark high and step by step, by self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole ladder of Christian progress. Let nothing hinder you. Opposing circum­stances should create a more firm determi­nation to overcome them. "Press in the right direction.. .. Then circumstances will be your helpers and not your hindrances." —Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 145. Be determined to live for Christ. Let this be your motivat­ing principle.

Making Decisions

Jesus decided His own course and it led Him straight to Golgotha's hill. Paul re­versed his ideas and determinedly followed his Lord in service to mankind. Your strict adherence to moral principle, your un­flinching stand for what you know to be right, your steady resolve to be true to high standards—all these entitle you to be sons and daughters of the heavenly King.

Young companions in the faith, decision is power. Can you make a decision and stand by it, or do you weaken when the going is hard? Can you make up your mind and line up? There are some decisions that you may delay. There are some that are unimportant. But there is one that you must not neglect, and that is your response to your Saviour's invitation to "Come, fol­low Me." On this you must act quickly, no matter what consequences may follow. All your decisions in the future must be in accordance with the great decision to follow Christ. Choose today whom you will serve.

Genesis 24 holds a beautiful story of decision. Abraham had sent his servant in search of a wife for the son of his old age. The servant had just finished a prayer in behalf of his mission when his eyes fell upon Rebekah. She measured to the stand­ard. The faithful old servant saw that she was not only beautiful outwardly but beau­tiful within—beautifully generous and kind. After he had given her gifts he ap­proached her family as to the possibility of her becoming the wife of Isaac. The family wisely left the decision with Rebekah, and she said, "I will go." Rebekah was not only a kind and generous young woman but she was also a woman of principle, courage, and decision.

In Messages to Young People, pages 151 and 152, we read:

Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the decid­ing power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience....

You will be in constant peril until you under­stand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises or your faith are of no value until you put your will on the side of faith and action. If you fight the fight of faith with all your will-power, you will conquer. Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable, especially with your perverted ideas; and the knowledge of your broken promises and your forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in yourself, and the faith of others in you.

Youth's Cross-bearing

To be a Christian is to take up the cross, and this is not as simple as it may seem. To carry the cross of Christ means service, giving, and sacrifice. But these give "depth, stability, and Christlike loveliness to the character," and bring "peace and happi­ness" to the possessor (Steps to Christ, p. 80). Many refuse to take up their cross. They lack the grit that is needed for such a venture. They want to take the way of least resistance and when they do, the telling numbers on the scoreboard of life add up to nothing. To such, life is merely arithmetic instead of the painting of a picture. One is a duty and the other a Christian skill.

A commanding officer was asked to choose a certain number of men to serve overseas. The officer knew that all his men would be anxious to go. He wanted to be fair and impartial, and therefore decided upon the following plan. He took pieces of paper equal to the number of men under his command. He marked a cross on some which, when chosen, would indicate to the soldier that he had been selected for over­seas service. The slips of paper were then put into a container and passed among the boys. One of the men wrote home, "I prayed earnestly that I might draw a cross."

Have we prayed this significant prayer, or are we dodging the experience for which the cross stands?

Simon, the Cyrenian, was willing to help Jesus carry His cross and thereby gained a blessing.

He hears the taunts and ribaldry of the crowd; he hears the words contemptuously repeated, Make way for the King of the Jews! He stops in astonish­ment at the scene; and as he expresses his compas­sion, they seize him and place the cross upon his shoulders.

Simon had heard of Jesus. His sons were believers in the Saviour, but he himself was not a disciple. The bearing of the cross to Calvary was a blessing to Simon, and he was ever after grateful for this providence. It led him to take upon himself the cross of Christ from choice, and ever cheerfully stand beneath its burden.—The Desire of Ages, p. 742.

The best way to ease one's burdens is to lighten those of another. The best way to find comfort and peace is to sense the companionship of Jesus in cross sharing. "The cross is an emblem of suffering for the sake of Christ and His cause. It involves a willingness to follow where He leads."— MINNIE E. DAUPHINEE, Drawing Nigh to God, p. 202.

A little fellow and his father were sight­seeing in the city of New York. They en­tered one of the city's great churches and saw a beautiful cross on the altar. Having been recently introduced to arithmetic the young son inquired of his father, "Daddy, what is that big plus sign?" How significant an observation. To those who bear it grace­fully the cross of Christ is a great plus sign. It adds to the life, never subtracts. By it, new and beautiful attributes are added to the character—kindness, sympathy, unself­ishness, love, and courage.

Dear young people, God is calling you to more intense devotion. Are you ready to abandon yourself to His mission? Are you willing to let the cross of Jesus become the dynamic principle of your life—your de­sign for living? If you are, it will become a mighty power unto salvation—your salva­tion, and the salvation of many whom you will be able to influence. As you place your will power on the side of Jesus, continually making clear decisions for truth and right­eousness, your youthful life will be a life of power. In this wonderful hour of earth's history, the Advent cause is presenting the challenge of full surrender to the service of Christ. What is your decision?

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THEODORE LUCAS, Secretary, General Conference Missionary Volunteer Department

March 1959

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