The Fruit of The Spirit, Lesson 10

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson on self-control reminds me of a very humbling lesson I learned on the golf course last December. A lesson I should have already learned. I have preached several times on how we are own worse enemy. For example you have David, who the giant Goliath couldn’t hurt. King Saul with all of his power and men could not harm David. Even when the enemy was in his own home, Absalom could not hurt David. If you look at the life of David the only person who really hurt David was David. His lack of self control when he saw a woman bathing is the only thing that hurt him. If David could have conquered and controlled self he would have had a flawless administration.

Last December my friend Ron treated me to a game of golf. Amazingly I got my best score ever-an 86! This was playing from the middle tees with one mulligan per nine holes. I was so proud of myself. I thought I had arrived.

A couple weeks later my friend Wes, from New Port Richey treated me to a game out near where he lived. We were part of a foursome. I could not wait to show them how well I could play now. On the first hole I drove the ball down the middle of the fairway. I was sure I was on my way to another great game. In the middle of the fairway I grabbed my fairway wood and was ready to knock it up on the green on my second shot. I swung and got nothing but dirt! I swung again and nothing but dirt! Come on William! It’s not a 90 mph fastball. It’s just sitting there for crying out loud! My three partners who had heard me bragging about my 86 the week before were patiently waiting. I swung again and topped the ball and it skipped about five yards. I was beyond frustrated and embarrassed! Now I have read in golf instruction articles to never get frustrated. Too late! I have also read not to worry about your score. The only thing you need to think about is your next shot. Well I was already thinking about the fact that on the first fairway my game was already ruined! In order to match my score the week before every shot was critical and I had already ruined my chances. I swung again. I topped it again and it went about two feet! That does it! Right there in front of three gentlemen I threw my golf club in the air in frustration! Problem was it did not stay in the air. It came down and hit a tree and shattered!

Now I was not only a lousy golfer I was a lousy Christian! I was a lousy everything! Now I was more embarrassed about my behavior than my golf game! I have gone golfing with a lot of men who played worse than I did but were much better sports about it. I was appalled at myself.

Now I had to finish the other 17 holes without a fairway wood since mine was now shattered. Served me right. My score by the end of the day was a couple strokes over 100! Here is the thing though. At the end of the day I finished in second place behind the leader by only one stroke! I could have won! Why did I lose? Because I lost my self control which caused me to lose a very important golf club. No one beat me. I beat myself by losing my self-control.

The three gentlemen (of which I was not) shook my hand and congratulated me on my game. I did not deserve any congratulations. I was not in their league, not because of my score but because they were gentlemen and I was an idiot! I was dejected that day not because of my score but because of my attitude. I resolved that day to never lose my self-control like that again. I have resolved that by the end of the game if I have won nothing else, that I have won the victory over self. I will be a gentleman and a sportsman by the end of the day if nothing else. The men I play with may forget my score but they will always remember my attitude.

My friend Ron, has been my golf mentor. He has taught me how not only to play, but how to play like a gentleman. He has also taught me more than that. He has taught me how to be gentleman off the golf course as well as on the course. At the end of the day I know I have spent the day with a good man no matter how his golf game was that day. My goal in golf is to by the grace of God, play with skill, passion but most of all sportsmanship. The only thing I fear on the golf course is not losing the game but losing my self-control. Fact is, after we shake hands and walk off the 18th hole no one will remember my score, but they will remember my attitude. I can’t always control my golf score, but I can control my attitude.

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

Acts of The Apostles-In the Regions Beyond

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 21.

This chapter is based on Acts 16:7-40.

But while men were cruel and vindictive, or criminally negligent of the solemn responsibilities devolving upon them, God had not forgotten to be gracious to His servants. All heaven was interested in the men who were suffering for Christ’s sake, and angels were sent to visit the prison. At their tread the earth trembled. The heavily bolted prison doors were thrown open; the chains and fetters fell from the hands and feet of the prisoners; and a bright light flooded the prison.  {AA 215.1} 

This reminds me of a very simple lesson. In Ephesians 3:1 Paul writes; "I, Paul, 
the prisoner of Christ
Jesus.." and in Ephesians 4:1 Paul Writes; "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord.."
 Thus Paul did not 
recognize himself as a prisoner of the Romans or any man. Even though he was
 in prison he continued to serve the Lord, and understood that even in his 
chains he could do "all things
through Christ." So today, I often visit with those who are in less than 
ideal family or career situations or actually in prison, and I remind
them of what Paul wrote about being a prisoner of Christ and not of man. 
Just like Paul, regardless of whatever situation we are in, we can serve
Christ and do all things through Him. If we have truly given our lives to 
Jesus, we will not see ourselves as "prisoners" of any man, but rather as
prisoners of Jesus Christ. Like Paul, our lives are not in the hands of men,
 but in the hands that were nailed to the cross for our good.
 You may find for studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

The Acts of The Apostles-Exalting The Cross

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area, where the Yankees will soon be playing their Spring training games.

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 20.

This chapter is based on Acts 15:36-41; 16:1-6.

  If those who today are teaching the word of God, would uplift the cross of Christ higher and still higher, their ministry would be far more successful. If sinners can be led to give one earnest look at the cross, if they can obtain a full view of the crucified Saviour, they will realize the depth of God’s compassion and the sinfulness of sin.  {AA 209.2} 
     Christ’s death proves God’s great love for man. It is our pledge of salvation. To remove the cross from the Christian would be like blotting the sun from the sky. The cross brings us near to God, reconciling us to Him. With the relenting compassion of a father’s love, Jehovah looks upon the suffering that His Son endured in order to save the race from eternal death, and accepts us in the Beloved.  {AA 209.3} 
     Without the cross, man could have no union with the Father. On it depends our every hope. From it shines the light of the Saviour’s love, and when at the foot of the cross the sinner looks up to the One who died to save him, he   may rejoice with fullness of joy, for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling in faith at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain.  {AA 209.4} 
     Through the cross we learn that the heavenly Father loves us with a love that is infinite. Can we wonder that Paul exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”? Galatians 6:14. It is our privilege also to glory in the cross, our privilege to give ourselves wholly to Him who gave Himself for us. Then, with the light that streams from Calvary shining in our faces, we may go forth to reveal this light to those in darkness.  {AA 210.1} 

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. (1915)  {Ev 190.1} 

Search Church doctrines in the light of the cross here.

Video of a sermon presentation I did on the cross called “The God-forsaken God.”

Find more sermons on the cross here.

Acts of the Apostles-The Gospel Message in Antioch

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 16.

This chapter is based on Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3.

  It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. The name was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, their teaching, and their conversation. Continually they were recounting the incidents that had occurred during the days of His earthly ministry, when His disciples were blessed with His personal presence. Untiringly they dwelt upon His teachings and His miracles of healing. With quivering lips and tearful eyes they spoke of His agony in the garden, His betrayal, trial, and execution, the forbearance and humility with which He had endured the contumely and torture imposed upon Him by His enemies, and the Godlike pity with which He had prayed for those who persecuted Him. His resurrection and ascension, and His work in heaven as the Mediator for fallen man, were topics on which they rejoiced to dwell. Well might the heathen call them Christians, since they preached Christ and addressed their prayers to God through Him.  {AA 157.1} 

To me, the boldest claim anyone can make is that they are a Christian. When you call yourself an elder you are just saying that you are older. When you call yourself a preacher you are just saying that you speak in public. A theologian just claims to study the Bible, but a Christian claims to be like Christ! Wow! Christ wants to give us His name, but He does not want us to take His name in vain. In sign language the word “Christian” is made up of two signs. The “Christ” sign and the “person” sign. When you sign to a deaf person that you are a Christian what they literally see is that you are claiming to be a “Christ person” or a person like Christ. There is no higher title, label or honor that the Church can bestow than the name that Christ gave you when He calls you a Christian.

you may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.

Acts of the Apostles-Days of Preperation

 I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 13

This chapter is based on Acts 9:19-30.

What kind of an education did Paul have to prepare him for the ministry?

When the mind of man is brought into communion with the mind of God, the finite with the Infinite, the effect on body and mind and soul is beyond estimate. In such communion is found the highest education. It is God’s own method of development. “Acquaint now thyself with Him” (Job 22:21), is His message to mankind.  {AA 126.1} 

   As he pondered these things in his heart, Paul understood more and more clearly the meaning of his call “to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:1. His call had come, “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” Galatians 1:1. The greatness of the work before him led him to give much study to the Holy Scriptures, in order that he might preach the gospel “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect,” “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” that the faith of all who heard “should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:4, 5.  {AA 127.1}
     As Paul searched the Scriptures, he learned that throughout the ages “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. And so, viewing the wisdom of the world in the light of the cross, Paul “determined not to know anything, . . . save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.  {AA 127.2} 

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

Acts of The Apostles-Before The Sanhedrin

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 8

This chapter was based on Acts 5:12-42.

The priests and rulers saw that Christ was extolled above them. As the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection, heard the apostles declaring that Christ had risen from the dead, they were enraged, realizing that if the apostles were allowed to preach a risen Saviour, and to work miracles in His name, the doctrine that there would be no resurrection would be rejected by all, and the sect of the Sadducees would soon become extinct. The Pharisees were angry as they perceived that the tendency of the disciples’ teaching was to undermine the Jewish ceremonies, and make the sacrificial offerings of no effect.  {AA 78.1} 

Looks to me like the religous leader’s may have been victims of something I learned about in a college communications class, called “Group Think.” They were more interested in preserving their group than they were in preserving or finding truth. Self preservation was more important than doing the right thing or preaching the right thing. Here is what I learned in my class almost ten years ago now.

The greatest want of the world is the want of men– men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.  {Ed 57.3}

                                      Group Think

Group Think: 

Where being a part of the group is actually more important then the mission or beliefs and values of the group itself.

 When you do not want to disagree with the group for fear of being separated from the group.

Symptoms of group Think:

Group overestimates its power and authority. 

Group becomes closed minded.

Group members experience pressure to conform.

Membership in group becomes more important than solving problems.

Examples of Group Think:

 

Joab complies with King David and puts Uriah on the front line of battle even though he knew it was murder.

Jews all agree to crucify Jesus and release Barabbas because that’s what the leaders wanted. 

In Watergate all the President’s men agree to bug the democratic headquarters. Later many confessed they knew it was wrong but they complied for fear of no longer being able to work next to the President. 

In 1986 NASA sends up the Space Challenger even though they knew it was too cold. They did not want to delay it any longer as they wanted it to go up before the President’s State of the Union Address. Seven people were killed.

Cure for Group Think: 

Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.   Acts 5:29

  When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.   Ezekiel 3:18

 The greatest want of the world is the want of men– men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.  {Ed 57.3}

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 8

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson is about the fruit of the Spirit and faith. When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration, he was met by a man who begged Jesus to heal his son. He told Jesus his disciples could not do it. Later Jesus told them they could not do it because of their lack of faith. Lack of faith is seldom a lack of faith in God’s power. It is a lack of faith in God’s love. This is how sin started. The serpent did not make Eve doubt God’s power. He told her God did not want her to enjoy a higher existence and life and thus made Eve doubt God’s love. The disciples that were not invited to the top of the mountain with Jesus felt left out and doubted God’s love. That is why they could not heal the boy.

Faith is contagious and so is doubt. The disciples lack of faith then caused the father to doubt God too. He asked Jesus, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (See Mark 9) The father added a big “if” to his request. Since the disciples, who were to be like Jesus could not do it, how could he know if Jesus could do it? The father asked for help with his unbelief and Jesus healed his son. Did you catch that? Jesus even helped him to believe. With faith all things are possible but Jesus is the One who gives us the ability to have faith and believe. Surely we can do nothing without Him.

The disciples were to represent Christ to this father and they failed because of their lack of faith. Instead of feeling left out of getting to go to the mountain top, they should have been preparing for the task that was presented to them. If only they had not doubted Christ’s love they would have had a very exciting story to share with Jesus, James, John, and Peter when they returned!

Like the father, Let’s ask Jesus to help us with out unbelief. He will help us to believe and our faith will ignite faith in others. When we doubt we cause others to doubt too just like the disciples zapped the faith out of that father. (See Chapter 47 of The Desire of Ages)

By the way, God is not the only person we are to believe in. “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20. The same logic and arguments that people use to dismiss Ellen White as a prophet are the same logic and arguments others use to dismiss the Bible altogether. We are to believe in the Lord and His prophets. Let’s not lead others to doubt God’s love or the writing of His prophets. If you lead a friend to not believe in the Spirit of Prophecy don’t be surprised when they stop believing in the Bible and God too. That is where that logic leads to. Those writings are there to help us to overcome unbelief and have faith in God and His love.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.