Glimpses of Grace; What If Moses Took A Spiritual Gifts Test?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.        And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand[of him whom thou wilt send.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. Exodus 4:10-14

Often we are prone to looking at our talents or spiritual gifts to figure out what we may do for the Lord. However, if Moses had taken a spiritual gifts test, he never would have found his calling. God called Moses and then qualified him. This is something important that we as individuals and a corporate church must be aware of. As individuals we are tempted to look at our talents and means and ask God for a work assignment which may accomplish based on already given resources. As a church we too often look at our budget and then organize an evangelism mission based on what we have in the bank. What we need to do is ask God for our task first! He will supply the resources.

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.- Great Controversy, p. 623

When God gives us a mission He does not expect us to use our strength, wisdom and merits, but by His grace we are to use His own strength, wisdom and merits.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would like to invite you to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we rely greatly upon the grace of God. If you are not in the area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Glimpses of Grace; Standing for What’s Right

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see [them] upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.  And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.  Exodus 1:16-21

Even in a godless country, where the king knew not God, God still had a people who feared Him. I could be wrong, but I doubt the midwives knew all about God, but they still followed their conscience as far as they knew right from wrong. They feared God more than they feared the king. God rewarded them for standing for what was right the best way they knew how. They could have just resigned their positions, but instead they stayed and stood for what they knew what right. They could have followed the kings orders to protect themselves, but they would not do this. They did what God would have them to do and God was graceful with them. This should be an encouragement to us, to stand for the right no matter what.

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.–Education, p. 57.

Glimpses of Our God; The Bible And History

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away a couple years ago at the ripe age of 100. A person with so many years is quite a treasure to have, with so many stories about the old days. However, old stories of days gone by is not what I remember about my grandmother. When I was little I remember playing  the rummy game with her. But as I got older, even up until the end, I would go to see her and ask if she wanted to play a game of rummy like we used to. Every time her answer was, “No, I have learned a new game. Let’s play it instead.” I got tired of having to learn the rules to new games all the time, but every time I turned around she had learned a new game. She loved talking about current events. She was always open to trying new restaurants. While she was a centenarian, she simply did not live in the past. You had to probe her to talk about the past. Oh, she did not mind talking about the olden days once you asked her about them, she was so caught up in the here and now that those things did not come to mind unless you asked. She was not a has been. She was always living in the present.

This is how I picture God when I read this week’s SS lesson key verse, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 God is not a has been either. Sure the Bible is full of rich history which our lesson brings out, but the Bible and God are also very much in the present and future.

When the Israelites entered Canaan they were to take all of the land. However Judges 1 tells us, “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Really? Those chariots of iron were just too much for God huh? I don’t think so. That was no excuse and God knew it. Earlier in Joshua 17:8 God Commanded, “for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” So what was the problem? Zephaniah talking about the church says, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees.” Those who are settled on their lees are riding on their past reputation. They have a lot of accomplishments under their belts and they are content to relax with that and be satisfied with past successes. I imagine this was true of the Israelites when they entered Canaan. They had crossed through the Red Sea and the Jordan River. God had seen them through a lot. Let’s stop now and just rest. Why go further? The iron chariots was just the excuse they used to stop where they were, and become a bunch of has beens, content to rest on past accomplishments. That is not my God! That is not the God of the Bible. God is not a has been. God is not just a historical Figure. He is in the here and now! Instead of sitting in His rocking chair talking about what He did in the past He is planning His next great accomplishment in the future!

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us.- Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 31.

There are many valuable lessons in Bible history to strengthen our faith in a lot of areas. As we learn those lessons, we can relax like the tribe of Judah did in Canaan, and rock back and forth in our old rocker thinking wow that was great, or we can be like my grandmother who even at a hundred years was ready for the next new thing. I have to believe some of the greatest stories of victory and triumph in the Christian era have yet to be written. I don’t believe God wants a church that sits around and talks about the great days gone by when our sanctuary used to be filled and our programs used to be strong. I think God is well capable of driving out the iron chariots and making it so that each new day we can say “We have never tasted success as wonderful as the success God had given us today!”

My grandmother could tell you a lot of wonderful stories about how God  led her in the past, yet she was always excited about the present. Even in the nursing home where she stayed briefly, before coming back to my aunt’s home where she died, she was making new friends that she dearly loved. She never compared her current friends with her friends from years gone by. She was happy where she was and with who she was with. She loved life to the very end. Well it hasn’t ended yet. My grandmother has fallen asleep. She needs her rest, because when she wakes up, she has a big day ahead of her! That’s how my God and my Grandmother are. Always ready for the next big thing!

You may download the SS Lesson Guides to your cell phone or Ipod here.

Glimpses of Grace; Grace and Providence

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In my work as a Bible Instructor, I find many people who have a chip on their shoulder, and harbor a grudge. They blame others for their own unhappiness. I do not see that with Joseph. Joseph takes control of his own happiness.  Once reunited with his brothers who sold him into Egypt he tells them, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years [hath] the famine [been] in the land: and yet [there are] five years, in the which [there shall] neither [be] earing nor harvest.  And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “Genesis 45:5-7

Did you catch that? God sent me here not you! Seriously, we give people too much credit sometimes. People cannot control our lives and emotions. God can!

While writing to the Ephesians from a Roman prison, Paul calls himself “the prisoner of the Lord.” Ephesians 4:1 Paul would not call himself a prisoner of Rome.  Paul was not about to give mere mortal man the credit for a master plan that only a God of infinite wisdom could come up with. Neither Joseph or Paul, would credit mere mortals with the power to control their lives. Both Joseph and Paul were exactly where they needed to be when God needed them to be there. What more could you ask for?

Even in prison Joseph and Paul both knew God had a wonderful plan for them that man could not detour.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God had a purpose for Joseph. Everything worked out for him to deliver many from the famine. For Paul, he was able to write much of the New Testament while in prison. If he had been free to speak face to face back then, he would not have needed to write the letters that have been preserved to inspire us today.

You too are destined for God’s grace! “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. “ Ephesians 1:5-6

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I would like to invite you to experience this grace at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you are not in the area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world by clicking here.

Glimpses of Grace; Joseph in Egypt

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.  Genesis 39:1-2

As I was reading this tonight, I thought of something I never had before. Up until Joseph’s promotion by the pharaoh, I pretty much considered Joseph a good natured victim. But now I wonder if he actually enjoyed living in Egypt even before the promotion. Let’s face it, I bet he enjoyed the distance from his brothers as much as they did. God is with Joseph and prospering him so why wouldn’t he be happy even as a slave? Even after Potiphar’s wife frames Joseph and sends him to prison God is still with him. “But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that [were] in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer [of it]. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing [that was] under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and [that] which he did, the LORD made [it] to prosper.” Genesis 39:21-23

Seems to me, Joseph was a lot like his dad. In Genesis 31 his dad talked about how his boss had cheated him and changed his wages but was never able to hurt him. Doesn’t look like anything is really able to hurt Joseph either.  The move to Egypt, even though it may have been caused by his brother’s mean spirit, turned out to be a good move for Joseph.  Even when he was framed and put into prison things still continue to go well for him. I always pictured Joseph as being discouraged up until his promotion but maybe he was enjoying the whole ride! Looks like Joseph was able to bloom wherever he was planted or even re-planted. This is seen in the name Joseph gives his second son. “And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:52 Joseph was not one of those who say, “If only things were different. If only this or that had not have happened I could have prospered and been happy.” Joseph found joy and prosperity right in the land of his affliction.

 

While Jacob’s struggles with his boss were a reality, and Joseph’s clashes with his brothers and even Potiphar’s wife were real, both of them could claim true what Isaiah said years later, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”  Isaiah 54:17

God’s grace was always with Jacob and Joseph and God wants His grace to follow you too. If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I would like to invite you to a grace filled church at Tampa First. If you are not in the area , you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Glimpses of Our God; Creation Care

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As you can see by this picture, I enjoy the great outdoors. I appreciate the environment. I don’t know that I can really call myself an environmentalist though. It’s not really a soap box issue for me. I do like to recycle. I hate picking up a napkin while at Taco Bell and using it one time and then throwing it away. It is such a waste. And while I don’t make it my soap box, personally I do like to recycle and not waste things. I am aware I am a steward of this earth, and if I am faithful in small things God will give me an even greater world to inhabit.

However, while studying this week’s SS lesson, I have to be honest. I did not have any real inspirations to write about this week’s topic. However, I have read a couple of amazing posts on the Sabbath School Network website. Apparently somebody was inspired and I would like to share their posts here.

Lillianne lopez writes, A Thin Green Line – Christian Environmentalism

Cindy Tutsch writes, Was Ellen White Green?

Click here for the SS Lesson phone app.

Enjoy!

Glimpses of Grace; No Harm Done

I am writing tonight from the Tampa Bay area.

After serving Laben14 years, Jacob tells his daughter’s:

“And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.” Genesis 31:7

I too can testify that over the years, everytime someone has tried to cheat me or hurt me, that God has more than blessed me, and has kept them from hurting me.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would like to invite you to visit our grace filled church at Tampa First.  You can find a grace filled church anywhere in the world by clicking here.

Glimpses of Grace; Hagar

In Genesis 16, Hagar, Sarai’s maid runs away because of Sarai’s jelousy that she is with Abraham’s child. An angel of the Lord goes out to find Hagar and tells her to return and promises to bless her. So, an angel of the Lord goes searching not for a prophet or some great man, but a wayward and sinful maid and promises to bless her. Don’t tell me you can’t find grace in the Old Testament! Grace is all over the Old Testament. God doesn’t just talk to prophets and kings, He also talks to maidens.

Glimpses of Grace; Abraham

Reading through the book of Genesis, I found Abraham showing great faith in chapter 12 when he up and departed to a land God would later show him. But in chapter 13 Abraham shows a great lack of faith when he lies to Pharoah about Sarai. What I found out about God is that he rewarded Abraham when he exercised faith, and was merciful to him when he had a lack of faith. I have found in my own life, a God who is merciful when I am less than I should be.

 

Glimpses of Grace; The Tower of Babel and the Ark

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area

While studying Genesis 6-11, a thought occurred to me. The tower of Babel was a futile attempt of man to save himself from calamity by his own works. However, while the ark, a symbol of grace and God’s salvation was a success, man still participated in working and building it. So while man can’t save himself, he can still cooperate with God and work where God is working and not on his own.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalms 127:1

The laborers work and build either way. Question is, are you working on your own or are you working with God?