Twice His

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

I can imagine God walking Adam and Eve through the garden that very first Sabbath. Having been created the day before, Adam and Eve didn’t have a long week where they needed a physical rest. As God showed them all His works, that first Sabbath, they rested in the fact that it was God who made them and not they themselves. See Psalms 100:3

“It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. John 19:30 NLT

When God had finished our creation He rested and gave us the Sabbath as a sign that He created us. We mark a year by the sun. We mark a month by the moon. We mark a day by the earth’s rotation. What do we have to mark a week? The Sabbath, which takes us to creation and reminds us that we have a Creator.

When Jesus finished the work of our redemption He again rested on the Sabbath, this time in a tomb. The Sabbath is not only a sign of God’s power to create, but also a sign of His power to redeem and make us holy.

Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Exodus 31:13 NLT

The story* goes of a little boy who had built a wooden sailboat and took it down to a creek by his home. He had tied a string to it so he could watch it float, and then reel it back in, but the string broke. His boat went sailing down the rapids and out of sight.
After doing several chores the boy earned the money to buy his boat back. He walked out of the story, clutching the boat to his heart, and was overheard saying, “Little boat you are twice mine. First I made you. Then I bought you.”A few days later the boy went window shopping with his father downtown, and he saw his boat in a toy store window. “That’s my boat!” The boy exclaimed. He went inside and told the store keeper, who informed him, that since he had no way to verify the boy’s story, if the boy wanted the boat back, he would have to buy it.

Today the Sabbath is a sign from God that we are twice His. Once, at creation He made us, then on the cross He bought us.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

You can study more about the Sabbath here.

Triniti and Destini’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

There was much rejoicing in heaven and at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church today when Triniti and Destini both gave their entire lives to Jesus. Instead of waiting till they got old, and just give Jesus what is left of their lives, both Triniti and Destini have been taught in their home and church about Jesus giving all of Himself for them, and so they chose to give all of themselves to Him.

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Rachelle, was the Bible Worker who studied with Triniti and Destini’s mother, Gail, when she got baptized, and so it was a wonderful privilege for Rachelle to also get to study with Triniti and Destini as they prepared for their baptism.

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Pastor Brad went over the baptismal vows with Tiniti and Destini, as well as with Alexander who was already baptized at the pathfinder camp in Oshkosh, but was welcomed into membership today with the girls.

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Triniti writes: The main reason why I want to get baptized is that I finally came to realize,  I don’t live forever. Also it’s not guaranteed I’m going to wake up tomorrow. It’s a gift. So I want to live my life in honor of the man who died for me and helps me wake up every morning. I’m glad I’m getting baptized. I know it’s time. I also know it is the kingdom of the bronze and clay and when the boulder strikes the statue I want to go with God to heaven.

Right before Triniti’s baptism we prayed a special prayer for her, and asked God to baptize her with the Holy Spirit as I baptized her with water. 

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.  I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:32-34 NLT 

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Destini writes: I wanna get baptized because I want to start a fresh new life. I want to start a new life with my Savior so when He comes He’ll take me with Him. 

Right before Destini’s baptism we prayed that God would always be with her, drawing her close to Him each and every day. Today Destini chose to follow Jesus, but God never turns us into a robot, so every day we are free to choose who we want to serve. Our prayer is that Destini will always choose to follow Jesus, just like she did today, and every day while preparing for this moment. 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT 

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We had a special fellowship lunch today, where we prayed for those being baptized and awarded them with their baptism certificates. Liam, who was baptized in Camp Kulaqua, received his certificate as well today.

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Please don’t let the sun set on you today before you too make your decision to follow the only One who died to save you. Maybe you chose a long time ago to follow Jesus but have not been making that choice lately. I invite you to make that choice again today. Maybe you have never made that choice but would like to make it now, or would like to learn more about Jesus before you make that choice. I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

If You Love Me…

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.  So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said,  “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”  Luke 7:2-5 NLT

 

This story illustrates the difference between the gospel and legalism. Legalism tells us the officer has given so much that he deserves special treatment from Jesus. Meanwhile the gospel teaches us that Jesus helps those who need His help, regardless of who they are.

 

 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. Luke 7:6 NLT

 

While the Jewish elders thought the officer had earned special favors, the officer himself understood the gospel. The officer had no sense of entitlement because of his works. You may read on how Jesus heals his servant, but my point is that the officer was not giving for the sake of a reward or special treatment, but out of love.

Jesus says, 

 

 If you love me, obey my commandments.John 14:15

 

Notice Jesus does not say, “If you don’t want to go to hell, keep my commandments!” or “If you want to go to heaven, keep my commandments.” He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Keeping God’s commandments to get a reward does not make you a good person. Many people disobey God’s commands to get rewards. They cheat on their income tax reports to get a larger refund. They lie about achievements they have never attained to get praise from man. People who obey God for the sake of a reward will also just as easily disobey God if they could achieve a greater reward. Being motivated by the hope of a reward does not make you a good person fitted for the unselfish society of heaven.

 

Keeping God’s commandments out of fear of punishment does not make you a good person either. Remember in Daniel 3 the three Hebrew children were threatened with punishment if they did obey God! While they told the king that God would protect them, they also made it clear that was not the point.

 

He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

 

The Hebrew children were obeying God out of love, no matter what. They were not motivated by hope of reward or fear of punishment. In the same way,

 

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NKJV

 

Love to God is the very foundation of religion. To engage in His service merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment would avail nothing. -Ellen White, Patriarch and Prophets, Page 523.

 

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. -Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 480.

 

Once, I was in a literature evangelist meeting with our conference president. We were discussing which book to promote. The Great Controversy or the Desire of Ages? Some people said the Great Controversy because it warns us about last-day events. I suggested the Desire of Ages because it helps us fall in love with Jesus, so that when last-day events occur, we will make the right choices for the right reasons – because we love Jesus. Unless we are in love with Jesus, knowledge about last-day events will avail nothing.

 

Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 NKJV

 

All those who have faith in Jesus’ love keep His commandments.

What is the Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of conducting my “In Light of the Cross” gospel seminar in New England. While there, a kind and gracious member of the Adventist Church I was speaking in, gave me a tour of the region and several old New England churches. Being a history buff, and realizing that the religious awakening, which spawned the Advent movement began in New England, created in my heart a deep appreciation for these old churches, some built in the early 1700′s or before.

New England Churches 100

I walked into one sanctuary, built in 1732,and sat on a pew deep in thought, contemplating the hundreds of people who had sat in that sanctuary over the last 280 years! I admired the pulpit from where the gospel was preached to weary sinners for centuries. Yes, I realize these churches were not Adventist churches, but they still preached the cross to sinners, and I imagine over the centuries many a sin weary pilgrim has laid his burden down on the altar and taken up the cross of Jesus. For that I am very thankful for these churches of various denominations. Each of these churches of various denominations were fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus that,

  ..this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, in [into] witnessing to all folks; and then the end shall come.Matthew 24:14 WYC (In my previous posts I often used the NLT Bible translation. However, writing about old churches and the religious awakening has me in a Wycliffe version frame of mind.)

When we think of the gospel we think of “good news.” Paul defines the gospel more specifically as the good news of the cross. The gospel is the cross.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in wisdom of word, that the cross of Christ be not voided away. 1 Corinthians 1:17 WYC

Protestant churches rose out of the dark ages with the light of the gospel. John Wycliffe is remembered as “the morning star of the reformation.” If the sun rose up all at once it would blind us. God first sends the morning star to pierce the darkness so we become accustomed to a little light, and the sun gradually rises until noonday when the  darkness is gone and

the earth was lightened of his glory. Revelation 18:1 WYC

So while many think there are many different church denominations because everyone interprets the Bible differently, truth is, each Protestant church has discovered different points of light about the gospel, leading us gradually out of the Dark Ages. It is not so much about interpreting things differently as  it is about progressing as we have more light, with each ray of light leading us farther and farther out of darkness into the full light of the cross.

God has always had a people in every church, and the Protestant reformers were a light in the their time, leading to the Protestant Reformation, which brought us to the religious awakening and Advent Movement.

So the question is, what new light has the Advent Movement shined on the gospel of the cross?

1. The Gospel saves us from death instead of eternal torment.

 For the wages of sin is death.. Romans 6:23 WYC

The wages of sin is death and not eternal torment. As we study the doctrine ofthe punishment of the wicked, in the light of the cross, we get new light not only on doctrine but more importantly on the character of God. God is not a psychopath wanting to torture people because they did not love Him, and make them wish they had. He is a God of love. The purpose of hell is not to torment sinners (Though there will be torment and weeping and gnashing of teeth for a time) but rather to put sinners out of their misery.

For God loved so the world [Forsooth God so loved the world], that he gave his one begotten Son, that each man that believeth in him perish not, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 WYC

The most popular verse of the Gospel tells us Jesus saves us from perishing and not eternal torment in hell.

2. Jesus really died for us.

The Biblical teaching of the state of the dead changes how we view the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If we believe in the immortality of the soul, and that one does not really die, then Jesus never died and we are still without a Savior. However, the Bible teaches us that Jesus did not only truly die, but He died the second death for us. He faced not only death but the death of the wicked, which meant He loved us so much He was willing to go into total oblivion and be totally separated from God. He did not save us from the death of the righteous. He experienced and saved us from the death of the wicked – being totally separated from God, which has the effect of eternal oblivion.

..all the heathen shall busily drink, and they shall drink, and they shall swallow it all down; and then they shall be as if they had never been. Obadiah 1:16 WYC

3. Jesus saves us from our sin, not in our sin.

I once heard a Protestant preacher on the radio say, “In order for you to be able to call Jesus your Savior He has to actually save you from something.” The preacher went on to talk about how Jesus saves us from sinful addictions. Seventh-day Adventists understand that on the cross Jesus freed us from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin.

God the Father made him sin for us, which knew not sin, that we should be made [the] rightwiseness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 WYC

And he himself bare our sins in his body on a tree [Which he himself suffered, or bare, our sins in his body on the tree], that we be dead to sins, and live to rightwiseness, by whose wan wound ye be healed. 1 peter 2:24 WYC

Okay I think that last one needs a little help from the NLT!

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NLT

The gospel that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is taking into all the world not only gives us a clearer vision of the cross, but an even clearer vision of the the character of God.

God is a loving God who is not going to torment the wicked for all eternity because they did not love Him. He is a God of love who does not wish for us to perish. By understanding the Bible truth about death we understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice and what great depths he was willing to go to in order to save us. We understand that He saves us from the penalty of sin, and from the power of sin, so that we don’t have to be slaves to the sinful addictions that hurt us over and over.

This is the gospel that pierced the dark ages until it will one day be preached all over the world and then the world will be lightened with His glory. May we engage in the work of spreading this Good News!

You may study this week’s Sabbath School less here. 

Alexander’s Baptism Pictures and Testimony

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This is a picture of Alexander several years ago in our neighborhood Bible study group. Alexander and his family have always been very active in sharing Jesus with their friends and neighbors. Several years ago, while we were all studying the Bible, Alexander told me he wanted to be baptized one day.

Now, several years later,  his parents were using the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides, to help prepare him for his baptism.  Years before, Alexander was already in love with God. One day when he was little the family had been saving up their spare coins in a huge jar. As the jar got full the family realized they now had quite a bit of money in there. One night at dinner they started discussing ideas of how they could spend their hard earned and saved money. Disney World? A vacation to the beach? An expensive video game? As they sat at the table discussing ideas, Alexander and his sister Ailyn came up with an idea. “Let’s give it all to the church to help others learn about Jesus” they said. And that is just what they did! Alexander knew that God had given everything He had when He gave us Jesus, so Alexander wanted to give God everything that he had!

Last Week at Oshkosh Pathfinders camp in Wisconsin, Alexander once again gave all of himself to Jesus because Jesus had given all of Himself for Alexander.

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Pastor Brad, our senior pastor at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church was on hand to baptize Alexander at Oshkosh.

Alexander writes: “The reason I wanted to get baptized was because at Oshkosh the preacher on the third night said something very powerful that moved me. Near the end he said, “If you would like to give your life to God, tell your director and come to the front at the end. We did but nobody was there, so we prayed with this kind guy that was standing there.

After that everyone went back to camp. Everyone was tired but I was excited to give my life to God! So I went to the charging station to charge my I-pod so I could get pictures for the baptism that started at 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning. So we woke up  I was excited. We all left we got there and there were so many people giving their life to God I was surprised we went in line again when you get up there they ask where you’re from and your name and I go into the water feeling and thinking of all the wrong things I have done in my life, and thinking that God gave His life for me that we would one day see Him that one day He will come to pick His children and I want to go with God. I want to live an eternal life with Him that I want to go to heaven. Then I go to the pastor, look around , and there under the water I saw the sun shining  directly on top of me and I heard that God said, “Welcome my son I have been waiting.” 

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

God’s love is shining on you just like it is shining on Alexander! If you too, would like to give all of yourself to Jesus, because He has given all of Himself to you, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

Tampa Police Catch William Earnhardt “Allegedly” Fleeing ALS Challenge

Fort Worth Police
Fort Worth Texas, where the police pursuit began.

Last Saturday night, while in Fort Worth Texas, holding my “In Light Of The Cross” Seminar at the Northwest Fort Worth SDA Church, I received the ALS ice bucket challenge to help find a cure for ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease. I was unable to do the challenge then and thought I had plenty of time. I thought wrong! My police capture is caught on video here.

 http://youtu.be/ANBu1m1hESk

Here is where you can make a donation. http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

The Be-Attitudes of Jesus

I am writing today from the beautiful Dallas/Fort Worth area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Dallas/Fort Worth area.

 

The beatitudes, sometimes referred to as be-”attitudes,” are building blocks to a complete conversion. Each be-”attitude” gives us a glimpse of Christ, and what we may become when our attitude is converted to His attitude.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 NKJV

The poor in spirit have no pride in themselves. They know they need to depend on God for help. Did Jesus, in His humanity feel dependent upon the Father?

Then Jesus answered and said to them,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do;
for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:19 NKJV

Jesus had no magical powers to live the way He did. Magic is a tool of legalism which focuses on what to do, which is Satan’s counterfeit for a relationship. Jesus had no magic. He had a saving relationship with the Father, and was always dependent upon the Father from start to finish. Likewise as we complete the conversion process, we will forever feel poor in spirit, and depend on our relationship with God to do good.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NKJV

In His humanity, did Jesus mourn the effect sin had on the human race?

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” Mark 14:34 NKJV

As our attitude becomes like that of Jesus, we will mourn for how our sin has affected our relationship with God, and we will find comfort in the forgiveness of sins, not just so we get to live forever, but get to live forever with God, with sin no longer coming between us and Him.

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 NKJV

Was Jesus meek?

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29

If Jesus was meek, his servants will be meek too. A servant is not greater than His master. How could we be proud of ourselves when our Master is meek?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 NKJV

Did Jesus hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34 NKJV

The only things that satisfied Jesus was knowing He was doing His Father’s will. His followers will have the same attitude.

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7 NKJ

No one was every as righteous as Jesus, and no one was ever as merciful as Jesus.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17 NKJV

The more our attitude becomes like that of Jesus, the less self-righteous and condemning we become. We become merciful.

Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 NKJV

Was Jesus pure in heart?

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. John 14:30 NKJV

“There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan’s sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 123

Blessed are the peacemakers,For they shall be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9 NKJV

Jesus was a peacemaker and we can be peacemakers also,

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NKJV

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 NKJV

Jesus was persecuted as He saved others, and sometimes we will be persecuted as well as we help Jesus save others.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV

“Let not the follower of Christ think, when he is no longer able to labor openly and actively for God and His truth, that he has no service to render, no reward to secure. Christ’s true witnesses are never laid aside. In health and sickness, in life and death, God uses them still. When through Satan’s malice the servants of Christ have been persecuted, their active labors hindered, when they have been cast into prison, or dragged to the scaffold or to the stake, it was that truth might gain a greater triumph. As these faithful ones sealed their testimony with their blood, souls hitherto in doubt and uncertainty were convinced of the faith of Christ and took their stand courageously for Him. From the ashes of the martyrs has sprung an abundant harvest for God.” -Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, Page 465

The climax of the conversion process is to be like Jesus. When we are like Jesus, we will be soul winners. Our attitude will be the same as His in that we will gladly suffer persecution if it will help save some one else.

You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

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