The Fruit of The Spirit, Lesson 6

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this Week’s SS lesson.

It must have been ten years ago. I was supervising the package car loaders at UPS. Occasionally one of the loaders would fail to show up and I would have to load their trucks for them. When this happened I would get an ice cold drink and granola bar from the break room to give me energy while I was working. One morning though we were short handed and I had to jump into a load area right away with no chance to get my usual snacks from the break room first. I was working away loading the trucks when before I even had a chance to ask, my boss came by with my usual drink and snack and placed it one of the trucks for me where I could get it. Wow! I did not even have a chance to tell my boss what was going on and she saw what was happening, and that I did not have my usual snack and took it upon herself to get it for me. So you just read this and thought to yourself, that’s nice, but it’s not that big of a deal why is William writing a blog about this simple little story? You’re right. What my boss did was no big deal. The big deal is, I remember it ten years later! Meanwhile I am sure my boss does not even remember it. Simple acts of kindness are not soon forgotten.

A few years later I was training a new package car loader and had laid my cell phone in the back of the brown package car while we were working. I forgot about it and the package car driver drove off for his route with my cell phone in his little brown truck. I asked his dispatcher to call the driver and ask him where I could meet him to get my phone. I drove to the meeting place and got my phone. A few minutes later, as I was driving on to my next job the dispatcher calls me to make sure I got my phone. This really impressed me because it was not the dispatcher’s responsibility. He was not even directly in my department and he was so busy with his own responsibilities I did not expect him to give me another thought that day. Again, years later it has still made a lasting impression on me, that simple act of kindness, a UPS dispatcher showing concern for someone they were not even responsible for.

Years later these two stories have impressed me. It was not what they said, it was how they made me feel that I remember. They made me feel special. People will not always remember what we said but they will always remember how we made them feel.

While we often think kind words and deeds are cute, we sometimes underestimate them in the grand scheme of the Great Controversy but consider this, we as Seventh-day Adventists realize that the law plays a pivotal role in the Great Controversy. Too often we just think of the Sabbath or Ten Commandments, but read what The Desire of Ages has to say about a good Samaritan who may not have had his theology straight. “The Samaritan had obeyed the dictates of a kind and loving heart, and in this had proved himself a doer of the law.” –Desire of Ages, p. 504. So being a doer of the law is so much more than just knowing the letter of the law. This Samaritan may have been ignorant of the written law but the spirit of the law was written, no, sealed in his heart. The good Samaritan bound up the wounds of the hurt man just as Jesus binds our wounds. The Samaritan gave him oil just as Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit which the oil in Zachariah represents. The Samaritan told the innkeeper he would pay for and be completely responsible for the man’s full recovery. Jesus made Himself responsible for our full recovery, out sanctification as well as justification. So while this good Samaritan may not have known as much about theology and the written law as the priest and Levite did, he was just like Jesus! Isn’t that the end of the law anyway?

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells about when the sheep and goats will be separated. He says to the sheep on His right, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” –Matthew 25:34-36  Again, those Jesus welcomes into His kingdom may not have been the most educated theologians but while Jesus does not welcome them because they kept the Sabbath or tithed, or did not eat pork look at how Christ like they were. They fed the hungry just like Jesus did to the multitude both temporal as well as spiritual. They gave water to a thirsty soul just as Jesus gave the living water to the woman at the well. They welcomed strangers just as Jesus’ love embraced the gentile world as much as His own people. They clothed the naked just as Jesus clothes us with His robe of righteousness. They visited the sick just like Jesus. They cared for those who were bound in prison just as Jesus came to set the captives free. These people are welcomed into the kingdom not just by justification but by sanctification as well. They are sanctified and fitted for the kingdom because they are like Jesus!

Many of them are asking Jesus when did we do these things? What are You talking about Jesus? They did not even know what they were doing, but they were sanctified and sealed with the law of God which is love. Consider the following passage from The Desire of Ages, page 608. “Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.” 

Heaven will be filled with people who have muddled minds and theology, but none with bitter hearts.

Being sanctified and having the seal of God in our foreheads means so much more than knowing which day is the Sabbath or that we are not suppose to eat pork. Those who are sanctified and have the law sealed in their hearts and written on their foreheads are kind.

You may find more studies and devotionals on my website In Light of The Cross.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 5

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson is about patience. Funny how we get impatient with other people, while wishing at times, that others were more patient with us. However I do know some very patient people. To explain what I am talking about I will have to make a very dark confession. A confession that you probably never thought you would have to hear a lay preacher make. But here goes…..I am 44 years old and am just now learning how to tie a tie! I have been wearing clip-ons for years! Embarrassing I know. I started wearing clip-ons when I was a kid and never really learned to tie a tie because I thought, why bother, just wear clip-ons. Also I never saw the importance of a tie, kind of like Adventist pioneer James White who never wore a tie because to him it was useless adornment. But it became very complicated. People would give me real ties for gifts and then I am sure would wonder why I never wore them.

In my late 30s I tried to turn this around as my friend Doug in Texas would try to teach me how to tie a tie. Problem is I would get frustrated and go back to wearing clip-ons and forget everything I learned and poor Doug would have to start all over teaching me again. He was so patient. So is my dad who recently helped me tie my tie in time to get to my grandmother’s funeral. Then there is my good friend Adam who has been secretly teaching me here in Tampa. Secretly because a lay preacher my age should already know how to tie a tie. Once I shocked a poor mother when she was telling her ten year old son in church that he needed to start wearing real ties instead of clip-ons because he was becoming a young man now. I unclipped my tie in front of them and said, “clip-ons like this?” She was shocked to see that I was not wearing a real tie. That’s when I decided I better get serious about learning to tie a real tie.

Adam has been helping me and I have been watching Youtube videos that have helped too. Now every Sabbath morning I get in front of the mirror to tie my tie and how well I do is about as unpredictable as my golf game. One week I get it on the third or fourth try and other weeks I have to give up and grab a clip-on so I can make it to church on time.

Point is that My dad, Doug and Adam have been very patient in teaching me. They don’t complain that they have already showed me a hundred times. They don’t call me stupid and remind me that a 7 year old could do this. They have shown me the best definition of patience and that is turning frustrating moments into opportunities to teach. Isn’t that what Jesus did over and over with the disciples? When they would not remember a lesson He would teach them over and over again. After all we do learn by repetition.

I have had to learn my own lessons on patience. A few weeks ago I was driving up to a light and got in the left turn lane. The light was green but the truck in front of me was just sitting there so I decided to go around him. As I swerved around him I found my self in the path of an oncoming ambulance with sirens blaring! Oh! That’s what the guy in the truck was waiting on!  A few weeks later I am at the bank in a lane with two of those vacuums so I pull up to the second one and another car pulls in behind me to the first one. He got his transaction completed before I did and started honking at me to move! I was still waiting on my money but I pulled out so he could go and he gave me this dirty look as he sped by. I backed back in to get my money. I thought, why couldn’t he understand that I was not through yet? He thought I was finished when I wasn’t and was just sitting there. Then I remembered the truck at the light and how I did not understand why he was just sitting there. So now I have learned to be as patient with others as I would have them to be with me.

One more illustration: Some things in the Bible seem very clear to me, for example, the Sabbath. I wonder why other people can’t see it. There it is right in the middle of the Ten Commandments. Well, when I first moved to Tampa I exited *Maple Avenue from I-275 and drove straight to my new apartment. For years I told everyone I lived off of Maple Avenue. However Tampa is one of those cities where the same street will change names several times as you drive across town. Well after three years I am sitting at the light by my house, looking at the street sign like I have done hundreds of times before, but this time I noticed something. The street sign says “Elm” not Maple. The street changed names and for three years I had not realized that and was telling everyone I lived somewhere else. Now it does not seem so silly to me how other people can see something in the Bible and not notice it just like for three years I had not noticed that I did not live on the street I thought I did. For three years I had been stopping at that light with the sign right in front of me and I never noticed it did not say what I thought it did. So now I understand how someone can read something in the Bible and still not “see” it. 

My prayer this year is that I will be as patient with people as I would like them to be with me! 

* I used fictitious street names to protect my privacy.

You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 4

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS Lesson.

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3

 

Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.  Psalms 37:37

Real peace does not come from being right with the world. It comes from being right with God. Peace of mind is not knowing that you have money in the bank. It is knowing no matter what, God will take care of all your needs. Peace is not knowing that you will live through the storm. Peace is knowing even if you die in the storm, God has promised you eternal life. Peace is Ellen Harmon, an 18 year old girl explaining why she was not terrified during a storm at sea when she said, “If my work for God is over I might as well rest at the bottom of this sea as anywhere else, but if my work is not over, not all the water in all the sea will be able to drown me.” (Life Sketches, p. 240) Peace is Marion Fisher, a 13 year old Amish girl telling a deranged gunman “shoot me first” so that help would arrive in time for the other victims. Peace is an elderly man I was studying with this summer who laid on his deathbed with a smile on his face saying “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” Peace is my 100 year old grandmother’s last words to my mother, “I will see you in heaven.” Peace is Jesus sleeping in a boat during a storm at sea. (Matthew 8:25)

Peace is not the absence of the storm, it is the absence of the fear of the storm. Peace is not the absence of death, it the absence of the fear of death. Peace is not the absence of worldly turmoil, it is the presence of God in the turmoil. Peace is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is one of my favorite quotes on peace from the Spirit of Prophecy:

  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27. 

     Before our Lord went to His agony on the cross He made His will. He had no silver or gold or houses to leave His disciples. He was a poor man, as far as earthly possessions were concerned. Few in Jerusalem were so poor as He. But He left His disciples a richer gift than any earthly monarch could bestow on his subjects. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” He said. . . . He left them the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution, and which was to be with Him during His agony in Gethsemane and on the cruel cross. 

     The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace. . . . No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.” 

     Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).   It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart.

     When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. . . . The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around.  {Heavenly Places, p. 249} 

You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 2

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Holding onto a grudge does not protect your rights. It denies your right to forgive and live a happy life.

This morning I was reading this passage in the Bible, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27. Suddenly, a random thought hit me. When we hang onto a grudge and refuse to forgive, we are giving the devil his “right” to have a place in our hearts. It is God’s place to tell us to forgive. It is the devil’s right to tell us we don’t have to forgive. When Christ resurrected Moses, the devil was right there to say Moses could not be forgiven and resurrected. When Christ forgave the paralytic, the devil was right amongst the priests and Pharisees claiming Christ had no right to forgive. 1 John 2:1 tells us Jesus is our advocate. Jesus gives us the right to be forgiven and to forgive. However when we hang onto a grudge, and refuse to forgive, then we have just fired Jesus as our advocate and put the devil, the accuser of the brethren in His place! Not a good move.

Do you really want the accuser of the brethren telling you what your rights are? Consider our high Priest as He hung upon the cross and forgave the repentant thief; “Men may exercise power over His human body. They may pierce the holy temples with the crown of thorns. They may strip from Him His raiment, and quarrel over its division. But they cannot rob Him of His power to forgive sins. In dying He bears testimony to His own divinity and to the glory of the Father. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, neither His arm shortened that it cannot save. It is His royal right to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.” – Desire of Ages, p. 751. It is God’s right to forgive sin and He has also given that right to you! Don’t let the devil take away your rights!

When the devil tells you that the person who has hurt you has taken away your right to happiness, turn the tables on him! Tell him you have the right to forgive them and be happy, instead of taking his poison by holding onto the grudge that he wants to give you, as your supposed “right”.  Instead of  letting the devil give you his fruit, let God give you the fruit of the Spirit which is love. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.  Holding onto a grudge is not a right, its a poison. Forgiveness is a divine right! Satan has no place or right in your relationships!

You may find more studies and devotionals on my website In Light Of The Cross.