Galatians; Promises

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS lesson. You may also download the lessons to your cell phone.

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. Galatians 4:22-24

At Sinai, instead of relying upon God’s promises, they made their own promise. “Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear [it], and do [it]. “ Deuteronomy 5:27

Paul makes the contrast between the two covenants. Both involve obedience and the law. One is man promising God, and the other, the one that actually works, is God promising man.  Ishmael was born when Abraham tried to carry out God’s promise instead of letting God make things happen.  This incidentally was why Abraham had to be circumcised. He had to cast away the confidence he had in his body and trust in God. Isaac represents what happens when we trust God and believe in His promises.

Here is another helpful allegory from the Desire of Ages about trusting God’s promises instead of our own works.

The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child
of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth
that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of
doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power
of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the
child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is
begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness.  {Desire of Ages, p 98.3} 

Here are some more precious Bible promises about what can be
accomplished through trusting God’s grace instead of our own strength.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which
[was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than
they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me 1 Corinthians 15:10 Notice when we trust in God’s grace we actually labor more abundantly than when we trust in our own strength!

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father
in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father
that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.Believe me that I [am] in the Father,
and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily,
verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he
do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my
Father.  John 14:10-12Notice by believing Jesus’ promises we do greater works than we do when trusting our own strength and works.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious
promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  2 Peter 1:4

We overcome, not by making promises to God but by trusting
His promises! Also while many argue over exactly what type of human nature
Jesus had, we receive an invitation to experience and participate in His divine
nature!

One last awesome promise from the Spirit of Prophecy. “Just
before us is the “hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world,
to try them that dwell upon the earth.” [Revelation 3:10.] All whose faith
is not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome.
But to those who earnestly seek a knowledge of the truth, thus doing what they
can to prepare for the conflict, the God of truth will be a sure defense.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep
thee,” is the Saviour’s promise. He would sooner send every angel out of
Heaven to protect his people, than leave one soul that trusts in him to be
overcome by Satan.”  {Great Controversy, p.560}

Galatians; Old Testament Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts about this week’s SS lesson about Old Testament faith. You can also download the SS lessons to your cell phone.

In Genesis 15:6 God calls Abraham righteous, because He believed God’s promise. In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, and thus tested and proved Abraham’s faith to be a real faith, and not just a pretend or fairy tale faith. Real faith leads to real obedience. Earlier in Genesis 12, Abraham showed lack of faith when he asked Sarai to lie about their relationship in Egypt.” God tested Abraham again, even more severely, to demonstrate before the universe, why He was able to call Abraham righteous.  “It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued until they bear the test, or, if they are rebellious, God withdraws His light from them and leaves them in darkness. “ {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 437

I had not been back home from college, too long, when I started working for a business forms company. I falling behind on some of my bills. I had been promised a raise which I had yet to receive, so I decided to “work out” my own salvation from these late bills. I was not going to stop paying tithe, but I decided to use my tithe to pay my bills. I recorded how much tithe I owed so I could pay it all back when I got my raise. Weeks later, what I owed on tithe was adding up and I still had no raise. Feeling guilty, I confessed to a friend that I owed tithe, but would pay it later when I got my raise. My friend told me what I already knew. I would not get my raise until I paid my tithe.

We got our pay checks every Friday, but this Friday I did not go into work or pick up check since I had the day off. Still, I went ahead and stepped out in faith and obedience and prepared my tithe check to turn in on Sabbath, which I did. Monday I went into work and picked up my paycheck that had been sitting there since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! I will never forget how God tested my faith and I proved Him to be faithful! When God tests our faith He is really asking us to test His faithfulness to us!

This same faith in the Old Testament is seen again in the New Testament, when Jesus tests Philip’s faith in feeding an entire multitude in John 6.

Deena’s Baptism Today

When I first moved to Tampa, in the spring of 2004, Deena was one
of the first people I got to meet. She was the secretary of the church, and made
me feel right at home, and helped me learn my way around the church. Several
times I would start to make a copy or print something out, and she would tell,
me, “let me do that for you. That’s my job.” Being in a new and strange place,
she made me feel right at home.

Not long after, Deena quit being the secretary to move on
somewhere else. By default, I became the secretary for a while until we found a
new one. Deena trained me in, and after trying to fill her shoes for a while my
respect for her grew even more.

Just a few months ago Deena came to me and told me she wanted to
re-baptized and a member of the Tampa First church family, even though she has always been family. She wanted a new start, and today she showed the church and the universe that she is giving all of herself to the One who gave all of Himself for her!

Here Deena and I are finishing up our series of Bible studies at a Greek restaurant. Deena was very faithful in completing all of her study guides. I often tell my Bible students to do two or three lesson a week in hope that they will at least do one. Deena is the only student I have ever had who actually did two or three a week every week!

While we were in the back preparing for baptism, Dan and Pat’s daughter Patty and son-in-law Travis, gave a wonderful testimony about their daughter Jeslyn. Jesylyn was born 18 months ago with the cancer neuroblastoma. After much prayer and medical procedures, Jesyln has now been declared cancer free! Praise God!

Family and friends came from far and near to help Deena celebrate.

I always like to have a prayer right before I baptize someone. I pray that God will make their lives like Jesus’ life, a series of uninterrupted victories! See Desire of Ages p 679-80

“The week before my baptism, William asked me to write an article for his blog on why I was getting rebaptized. I didn’t expect this and really didn’t know where to begin. That was four weeks ago.
I thought about it a lot in the days leading up to my rebaptism and haven’t stopped thinking about what it is I want to say, what it is I could say since.
Then tonight, while studying the Sabbath School Lesson, I read Romans 6:4: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
There it was!
Many things, good and bad, have happened in my life since I first choose to be baptized as a teenager. In many ways, I had no idea the things the devil would send my way just because I made that choice. My rebaptism was symbolic of my decision to live a new life in Christ—to die to sin past and present and claim victory over temptations yet to come. Rather than wallow in regret over things I cannot change, I want to rejoice for all the blessings God has given me, gifts I do not deserve, and vow to live each moment going forward in his grace.” -Deena

Many greeted and congratulated Deena, but I think one of her favorites was her mother.

Don’t let the sun set on you today before you give your heart to Jesus! I would love to talk to you! Laypastor@tampaadventist.net

Galatians; Justified by Faith Alone

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks the question, “Read Galatians 2:15–17. What is Paul saying to you here, and how can you apply these wordsto your own Christian experience?”

Galatians 2:15-17

New International Version (NIV)

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our
faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

Obeying the commandments will not get me justified, but being justified by faith alone will get me to obeying the commandments.

“We must center our hopes of heaven upon Christ alone, because He is our
Substitute and Surety. We have transgressed the law of God, and by the deeds of
the law shall no flesh be justified. The best efforts that man in his own
strength can make are valueless to meet the holy and just law that he has
transgressed; but through faith in Christ he may claim the righteousness of the
Son of God as all-sufficient. Christ satisfied the demands of the law in His
human nature. He bore the curse of the law for the sinner, made an atonement
for him, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life.” Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ,
and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of
the divine nature, and thus divinity and humanity are combined.”  {Faith and Works 93-94} 

Justification by faith does not mean that Jesus pretends I am an overcomer. Faith makes my justification a reality. The victories are real. By the grace of God I am now partaking and experiencing the divine nature as Jesus lives in my heart. I am, as it says in Ephesians 3:19, “filled with all the fulness of God.”

Galatians; The Unity in the Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson speaks about unity in the gospel, two quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy come to mind. (Download SS Lesson App to your cell phone.)

Jesus prayed that His followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people.  {Our High Calling 329.3} 

When seeking unity we must use Jesus as the compass and not popular opinion. As we all draw closer to Jesus we will be drawn closer to each other as well. And besides, what is the point of unity if it does not involve Jesus Who is the truth? The Jews were united in crucifying Jesus, but that unity did not profit them. Lets pray we never make the same mistake of denying or Crucifying Truth and Jesus in order to preserve unity. Such unity is self defeating.

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, men of different gifts performed their appointed work. They did not harmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by the Spirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ. {The Great Controversy p. 257}

What this passage tells me is that unity comes, not from trying to win people to my point of view, but by pointing people to Christ. In the first district I ever worked in as a gospel evangelist, in northern Oklahoma, we had a lady who was very conservative and had strong views. One day she was telling me about a man in her church, and his liberal views, which she did not agree with. She was speaking very seriously about how wrong she thought he was. She told me she was very worried about the man. Then she paused and smiled, and told me, with a laugh in her voice, “And I know he is very worried about me!” This told me, that while she “knew” this man was wrong, she did understand that this man was just as sure of his opinions as she was of hers, and that her way was not the only way of looking at things.

When we hear different opinions, let’s not be afraid of being wrong or corrected. Let’s study it out in the Word of God. I once heard of a Sabbath School class, where a visitor expressed a different opinion about the Sabbath and he was quickly told by the teacher to be quiet. I have often wondered why the teacher did that. Was the teacher  afraid of being wrong? Was he afraid of being corrected if he was wrong? There is nothing wrong with expressing opposing views as long as we let God’s Word have the final say.

Galatians; Study Aids

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we study this quarter’s SS lesson, I thought it would be a good idea to share a book a friend of mine, Pastor Joe Gresham, has provided as a study aid. It is called, “The Good News in Galatians.” Enjoy and I hope you are blessed! Just click here!

Joe W. Gresham is an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister, evangelist, author, radio and TV speaker. His ministry has taken him throughout North America, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and much of Europe. His books have been translated into several languages and are now available on four continents. “Let not your heart be troubled… In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 3:16)



Joe W. Gresham
JOE GRESHAM

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