Motives

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson is on motives, and there is nothing more frustrating and isolating than having your motives misunderstood. However, it is not an isolating occurrence. It happens to everyone. It happened to David. When he saw Goliath making fun of Israel’s God, he wanted to stand up for God, but his own brother misconstrued his motives and said, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV What hurts more than strangers misjudging us is family misjudging us. Hurt for David too, I am sure.

Question is, how can we know other people’s motives when we don’t even know our own hearts?

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

 “I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV

“Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.” –C.S. Lewis

I am glad David did not let his family get in his way of doing what needed to be done. Even though his motives were misconstrued he continued to do what was right, which just validated the fact even more, that he was doing right for the right reasons and not to get the praise of his family, because there was no praise from his family! Likewise when people misconstrue our motives, let that be a comfort instead of a curse. We can know that we are doing right because it is right, and not for our egos, when everyone accuses us of having bad motives, but we do the right thing anyway.

Everyone loves an inside joke. When nobody else gets the joke, but you and your friend, it makes your friendship more intimate, having something between you two that nobody else understands. When you are doing right because it is right, and nobody else understands that, just consider it an inside joke between you and Jesus, and it will make your relationship with Him just that more intimate. The two of you are the only ones who need to know your motives. Its nobody else’s business!

Ruin Satan’s Day

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Has Satan ever tried to ruin your day? Well let me tell you about when I ruined his day. Years ago, I was driving in the middle of the night across country to see my sister, and see about a job. I had just quit a job that was not working out, and had no idea what the future held. I had no job, no money no future as far as I could see, and then to make matters worse I looked in my rear view mirror and see lights flashing! Just what I needed, a speeding ticket while I was broke without a job.  I honestly had no idea I was speeding (enough to warrant a ticket), but the officer was not the least bit sympathetic.

Needles to say I was very frustrated. I was already feeling down before I got the ticket. Now I was in despair and gloom, as I asked God how He was going to take care of this ticket for me, since He knew I had no money when He allowed this to happen. ( Never mind the fact that it was my foot and not His on the gas pedal!)

As I was complaining to God about the situation He had just placed me in ( Never my fault you know) and asking Him in despair and not faith  how in the world He was going to provide the money for  the ticket, I suddenly realized the obvious. God does not have to provide for this ticket.  God does not have to do anything for me! God does not owe me anything!  Then it hit me what I was doing. After creating me and dying for me, I was withholding my praise from Jesus until He took care of this ticket for me. All at once it dawned on me, if God never provided the money for this ticket, and stopped giving me any more blessings from this day forward, He still has already given me way more than I deserve! As a matter of fact, Calvary alone warrants all of my thankfulness, praise and devotion, without God ever giving me anything else.

There in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, I changed my attitude from gloom and despair to joy and praise. I decided not to ask God to help me pay for the ticket, but instead just thank Him and praise Him for everything else He has already done for me. I then remembered reading a passage from inspiration about how Satan cannot stand to be in our presence when we praise God,  “When the evil one begins to settle his gloom about you, sing praise to God. … strike up a song about the matchless charms of the Son of God, and I tell you, when you touch this strain, Satan will leave you. You can drive out the enemy with his gloom; . . . and you can see, oh, so much clearer, the love and compassion of your heavenly Father.  –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 95.

Considering the above passage, I thought to myself, “ Hey if Satan is going to try to ruin my day by giving me this ticket (Remember it’s never my fault when I get a ticket) then I am going to ruin his day by singing praises to my God. I started singing praises at the top of my lungs. I was traveling in the middle of the night hundreds of miles away from my friends or family but I felt the presence of angels as they sang with me. I wasn’t worried about the ticket anymore. I was worried about making sure God knew I appreciated His sacrifice at Calvary. By the way, God did take care of the ticket for me. My sister also happens to be an angel. But even more impressive were the two lessons I learned that night. One: God owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. After Calvary if He never gave me another gift, I still have cause to praise him for the rest of my life! Lesson number two: If Satan tries to ruin your day, instead of murmuring and complaining, start singing songs of praise and ruin his day instead!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

1st and 2nd Thessalonians: The Messiah Part 2

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I  went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.

The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we want to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand, that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom. The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read  prophecies,  such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. The prophecy in Daniel 2, and rock carved out without man’s hands, should have made clear to them, what Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they wanted to hear as well. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell  books to were all just like us. We hear what we want to hear. Crucifixion weekend was not the last time God’s church would endure a great disappointment. In 1844 another group of people, misunderstood Daniel. Daniel was right on. Again God’s Church just heard what it wanted to hear, this time regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14. They thought the sanctuary was the world and Jesus was coming back to cleanse the earth with fire and create the New Earth. Nowhere in the Bible does it call the sanctuary the earth. Also we know Jesus said nobody would know the day nor the hour when He returns. Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make the same mistakes? For example, When asked for a sign from the Jews, Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah. Jesus said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40 For years now, people have been trying to fit Jesus in the tomb for three nights. To do this some have even backed up the crucifixion to Wednesday while others explain that part of a day counts as the whole day, but that still does not put Jesus in the tomb for three nights. The confusion is quite simple. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the tomb is the heart of the earth. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world,” He wasn’t talking about the dirt. He was talking about the people. When Jesus said the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, He was not talking about the dirt, He was talking about the people. Take a day for a year in Bible Prophecy and for three days you have Jesus ministering in the heart of the earth, where the population was, not in the dirt. The sign of Jonah, was simply that while Gentiles, publicans, and sinners were believing in Jesus, the Jews who should have believed were not. Just like the story of Jonah where a wicked city like Nineveh believes, but the prophet Jonah who should have believed and obeyed did not want to.

The sign of Jonah is just one example of how today, we may get the time right but the place wrong. In 1844 they had the time right but the place wrong, and in Jesus’ time, many had the time of the Messiah right  from the book of Daniel, but they had the place wrong. Jesus’ kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. We look forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  . This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people.  It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says,” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we are still just being materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.   Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?

When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him.

Just a side note before I go. Last year many people were making fun of and ridiculing a famous pastor in the United States for saying that Jesus was coming in April of 2011. I heard many Adventists making fun of him. Seeing how we make mistakes too, in our understanding, and how we have had great disappointments ourselves, should we be making fun of people when they make mistakes? I don’t think so. At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. In 1844 God’s people were devastated and hurting. God looked past the mistakes of His people and saw the pain. We should be just as sympathetic. Whether it is towards the Jews 2,000 years ago, or a mistaken preacher today, let’s all take heed lest we fall.

Check out the current Sabbath School study guide here.

1st and 2nd Thessalonians: The Messiah

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The Messiah

This week’s SS lesson talks about Paul approaching the Jews concerning the Messiah. This study will take the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and show the New Testament fulfillment of these in the life and death of Jesus. When Paul approached the Jews about the Messiah, these were probably some of the scriptures He used from the Old Testament.

The place of His birth ————————— Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-7

His virgin birth ——————————- Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-31

               

You know, Joseph thought he had the facts he needed to prove that  Mary had been unfaithful. Still he was wrong. If Joseph could be wrong even with the outstanding evidence he had, is it also possible that we sometimes jump to conclusions and misjudge people also?

The slaughter of the children —– Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18

His flight into Egypt ——————– Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14, 15

The time of His baptism ————- Daniel 9:24, 25; Luke 3:1, 21, 22              

His rejection by the people ———————- Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11

His entrance into Jerusalem ———- Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:29-38

His betrayal by a friend ——————- Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:47, 48

The price of His betrayal ———– Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15

Spat upon and beaten ——————— Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67

Crucified between two thieves ———- Isaiah 53:12; Mark 15:27, 28

The wounds in His body ——— Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; 20:27

His words on the cross ———————— Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34

Given vinegar and gall to drink ——– Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34

Gambling for His clothes ——- Psalm 22:17, 18; Matthew 27:35, 36

None of His bones were to be broken — Psalm 34:20; John 19:32, 33

To be buried with the rich ———— Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60

His resurrection ——————————- Psalm 16:10; Luke 24:1-7

Seeing how Jesus met all the Old Testament predictions affirms our faith that He is indeed the Messiah. It also affirms our faith in the Bible. Greater yet, it affirms our faith that He will come the second time, just as the Bible promised He would come the first time. There are actually twice as many Bible promises about His second coming than there are about His first.

Check out the current Sabbath School Lesson guide here.