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Glimpes of the Cross Day 19; Why Jesus Lives

Dolphin Cruise Con Don Y Eva 065

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25 NLT

Charles Spurgeon was born to preach. Mother Teresa was born to care for the poor. Abraham Lincoln was born to break the bonds of slavery. Everyone was born for a reason. The verse above tells me Jesus was born with a purpose too. His eternal existence before birth also was not without purpose. It also tells us what His purpose for living and existing is. He does not live so He can be a tyrant and force people to worship Him. He does not live so He can hear angels sing His praises. He does not live so that He can sit on a throne in a golden castle in the sky. You can look as far back into eternity as eternity goes, and you can look as far into the future as eternity goes, and you will find that Jesus’ purpose for living is to be your eternal provider and Savior! “He lives forever to intercede with God on your behalf.” Not so much that He is trying to reconcile God to you as much as He works to reconcile you to God. God never ran from Adam. It was Adam who ran from God. Jesus never told the demoniacs He could not tolerate their presence. It was the demoniacs who could not tolerate His presence.

“It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.” – Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Pages 17-18.

Jesus’ passion is winning you back to God. Again, that is why He lives.

 ”So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

In the moment of temptation we can go to our High Priest, and find the grace to overcome the temptation.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

However if for whatever reason we do not ask for the grace to overcome, Jesus has made a fool proof way to sustain us still. We can come to the throne and ask for mercy and forgiveness.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

“How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father.

If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly.

The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him.” –Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49

“We may plead for our pardon, justification, and our sanctification.” Before I fall, I can go to Jesus, and find grace so I don’t have to fall. His grace sanctifies me and frees me from the power of sin.

“ For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14 NLT

Even though grace leaves me with no excuse to sin, Jesus still offers mercy and forgiveness!

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17

The question is not how long will God be willing to forgive me, but rather, will I ever ask for forgiveness? I can go to a home to give a Bible study, and knock on the door. As long as I can hear somebody inside making their way to the door, I will wait as long as it takes. However, if I realize I could wait forever and they will never open the door, then and only then do I walk away. It is the same with Jesus. Probation closes when the sanctuary is forced out of business, because it no longer has “customers” asking for mercy. Jesus has reconciled those who are willing, and sadly walks away from the heart’s door of those who will never accept His reconciling grace. The fact that they would never accept God’s grace is seen by the fact that no one repents during the last plagues and of course nobody repents at the end of the thousand years. The problem is not that they can’t but that they won’t. God did not send them to the point of no return. They reached that point by themselves.

When Jesus forgave the repentant thief, while hanging naked on the cross, he was sending out a message to men and to Satan. “You can take away my clothes and dignity. You can take away my crown and replace it with thorns. You can even take away my life, but you will never take away my power to forgive sin!” Imagine that! Jesus-King of the Universe let go of all of His divine rights, except for the right to forgive sin! Jesus would rather die than give up His right to be your sustain-er and Savior. Why? Because the only reason why He lives is so He can save you! His death was all about you. His life is all about you. He is in love with you!

 

Beyond Metaphors, The Real Reason why only Christ Could die for us.

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

In 2006, a gunman walked into an Amish school. The teacher ran for help, 13-year old Marian Fisher realized help would not arrive in time before the gunman started shooting. To buy time for the other students, this young girl told the gunman, “shoot me first.”  This young girl was prepared to make a sacrifice that a few older men on the Titanic shied away from. She made a great sacrifice as Jesus said,

                Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Yes, she did make that sacrifice, as the gunman obliged her request and shot and killed her first. I just can’t imagine! You would think the young girl’s willingness to sacrifice herself would have broken what little heart the gunman had left.

As great as this sacrifice was, notice I called it a great sacrifice, but not theultimate sacrifice. Her sacrifice is a metaphor of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, but Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice when He died the second death for us on the cross. Marian Fisher, the true men on the Titanic, John Huss and many other martyrs throughout history, have died valiant deaths, but none have ever tasted the death that Jesus died. They all died with the hope of eternal life. For a while, beginning at Gethsemane to the cross, Jesus was not able to imagine Himself living beyond the grave.

 Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 753

Jesus used Metaphors. We all enjoy using metaphors. They help us to illustrate our points in ways people can relate too. When we use metaphors and illustrations from everyday life, we show how practical Christianity is, and how it does not take us away from everyday life and hide us in a monastery, but rather changes our behavior in everyday life. Jesus did not call Peter to stop fishing altogether, but He changed the way Peter fished. His illustrations about the lost sheep may have changed the way some shepherds cared for their charges. I love golf and like to use golf illustrations, and make metaphors that other golfers can relate too, so they can understand the gospel. Occasionally I meet someone who has no interests or hobbies, and it greatly limits their sphere of influence, and ability to connect with others. Since I have begun golfing it has broadened my sphere of influence as I have met many people on the golf course that I never would have met any other way, and the game has given me many more practical illustrations of the Christian life so that I can relate the gospel to these people.

Still, as helpful as parables, metaphors and illustrations are, they still come short of the real thing. Jesus used metaphors, not as an end, but as an invitation to contemplate the reality of His love and sacrifice. I remember as a boy being told a story about a mother who had scarred hands. One day her daughter asked her why her hands were so ugly. The mother explained that when the girl was just a baby, their home caught fire, and the mother burned her hands saving her. The daughter then decides those are beautiful hands. The story ends with the comparison to Jesus’ hands being scarred when He died for us. Nice metaphor but it falls way short! Jesus did not just get His hands scarred when He saved us. He felt abandoned by His Father when He cried,

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Matthew 27:46

John the Baptist realized that metaphors fell short when He exclaimed,

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.John 1:29

Hundreds of years before, a young boy climbing a mountain with his father, said something similar.

Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Genesis 22:7

What he was beholding was a metaphor. His father, Abraham either wittingly or unwittingly referred beyond the metaphor when he replied,

My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:Genesis 22:8

God not only provide a lamb for the sacrifice He provided Himself to be that sacrifice!

In last quarter’s Sabbath School lessons, we talked about how only Jesus could be the sacrifice to atone for sin. Yes He had to be a perfect sacrifice without blemish, but it goes beyond that. The purpose of the cross is to heal us from sin. In order to heal us from sin God had to restore our faith in His love. Satan had been spreading terrible lies about God, from the Garden of Eden to the halls of the Pharisees and Sadducees, making God look stern, uncaring, and unloving.  The cross heals our rebellion and lack of faith in God’s love, as God symbolically cries out from the cross, “Would you believe I love you if I died for you?”  Friends this is why no angel could atone for our sin of unbelief and rebellious natures. If God had sent an angel to die for us, it would hardly heal our doubts about His love, if He said, “Would you believe I love you if I sent someone else to die for you?” That would not be love. That would just be throwing one of His created beings under the bus! The only way that God could cure our rebellion and sin of unbelief in His love, is if He died for us Himself! Saying I love you enough to die for you, means a lot more than saying I love you enough to send an angel to die for you. This is the sacrifice that heals our rebellious natures and makes us want to Be Christ’s disciples, when we see that He loves us enough to die for His own creation. See John 1:1-3.

Metaphors and illustrations are great in leading us to the cross, but nothing will heal our hearts and minds like beholding the real thing-the cross itself.

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.  –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 83. 

You may study the Sabbath School lesson on metaphors here.

Judged by our Works?

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

Since 1981, when I began preaching in high school, I have preached in many churches from Chiclayo, Peru, to Torrington, Connecticut.  I have spoken to large and small congregations with various needs.  I have illustrated to some conservative churches the need to be a little more liberal, and to liberal churches, how to be a little more conservative, as we all seek a Christ-like balance.

One Sabbath several years ago, I was preaching in one of the most conservative churches I have been in. No, “conservative” is not the word for it. Right-out legalistic is more like it! You’ll see why I say so in a moment.

I was preaching about how we are saved by grace – fairly fundamental Adventist Bible belief, so I thought. After the sermon I barely made it off the platform before I was greeted by a woman who had appointed herself to be the theology police for the church. She had a copy of The Great Controversy in her hand. Condescendingly she asked me if I had ever read The Great Controversy. I told her I had. She retorted, “How dare you then tell these people we are saved by grace when The Great Controversy clearly says we are saved by works! Your sermon today almost deceived even me. And if it almost deceived me I know you deceived everybody else!” (Did this woman maybe have a pride issue?)

Now let me stop before I go any further. If you have never read The Great Controversy, let me assure you that it does not say we are saved by our works. I have read the book several times cover to cover, and the theme I find over and over is that we are saved by grace and not by works, and that we should worship God according to our conscience and not according to man-made traditions and regulations. One of the star characters in the book is Martin Luther, who is applauded by the author for presenting salvation by grace and not works!

So, where was this lady coming from? Sure she was way off, but she had to get her idea from somewhere. She told me where it was. She told me to read the chapter, Facing Life’s Record, and I read:

The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 480

True. Deeds are mentioned here, but if I remember correctly from diagramming sentences in my third grade English class, which I thoroughly hated doing by the way, “books” is the subject of the sentence, and the books determine the decisions, not the deeds.

However the Apostle John mentions deeds or “works” as well:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  Revelation 20:12

So do we have a conflict here? Not at all. In any investigative judgment you need evidence to determine your verdict. Our works provide evidence of salvation, but grace is the source of our salvation.

Speaking of Abraham, Genesis 15:6 says:

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abraham’s belief or faith was counted as righteousness. God said it is enough that Abraham believes in my saving grace.

But when Abraham’s name comes up in the judgment what evidence will there be that he believed? Especially since he lied about his relationship with Sarah in order to save him from Egypt’s ruler. He trusted a lie to save him instead of trusting God to save him. No evidence of faith there.

However if we go to Genesis 22:1-24, we will see the evidence of Abraham’s faith, when he obeyed God and offered up his son on the altar. Now we have evidence that Abraham believed in God’s grace! Abraham will not be saved by his works, but his obedience of God’s soul-shattering command later in life – his “works” – demonstrates his faith in God. And God could count his faith as righteousness.

Just like smoke is evidence of fire, works are evidence of  God’s grace at work in the life. Where there is smoke there is fire, and where there is grace there are good works. Let’s do a little detective work ourselves here, and investigate three passages.

Let’s begin with Romans 1:5.

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.

Hhhmm … Seems to me here that Paul is telling the Romans that the grace they received was to lead to their obedience. Hence their works of obedience are evidence of grace at work.

Our next clue is found in Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Sure enough the passage tells us that we are saved by grace and not by works, but still we find God creating good works in us at the scene of grace. Let’s move on. We need more evidence.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  Titus 2:11-14

Just as you see smoke where there has been a fire, so we again see good works where there is grace. Just like smoke is evidence there has been a fire, likewise living soberly, righteously, godly lives zealous of good works, is evidence that grace has been here.

If we trust God we will obey Him. Our works of obedience are presented as evidence in the judgment that we trust God’s amazing grace.

Satan may still point at Abraham’s lie in Egypt, but,

The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 57.

When your name comes up in the judgment, will there be evidence that God’s grace was allowed to penetrate your heart?

Now there is also such a thing as false evidence. Legalistic works done for the glory of self would be false evidence that the Judge can see right through.

Yet a faith that works by love (See Galatians 5:6) is the exact evidence that will convince the Judge that we have received His amazing grace. I hope the lady who confronted me that day, with the Great Controversy, understands that doing works in order to be saved is just conjuring up false evidence. The faith that saves us is the faith that is motivated by love and grace and not a hope of reward and self-glory.

It’s just like the little girl standing by the side of the pool. She can’t swim, but her father promised to catch her if she jumps in. If she jumps we know she believes in her daddy. If she refuses to jump it is clearly evident she does not believe in her daddy.

Abraham showed a lack of faith in God’s love when he trusted a lie instead of God to protect him in Egypt. Yet when Abraham placed his son on the altar the whole universe saw the evidence that God’s grace was now in Abraham’s heart.

The Bible is clear. We are saved by grace and not by works. The Bible is also clear that where there is grace, there are good works.

A smoking gun is evidence that it has been put into action. Good works are evidence of grace put into action. Where you find smoke you find fire. Where you find grace you find good works.

Good works, done out of love, are evidence that we have been saved by amazing grace.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on the sanctuary here.

Understanding the Sanctuary

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

As we continue studying this quarter’s Sabbath School lessons, on the sanctuary, people are telling me that there is so much they don’t understand or even know yet about the sanctuary. I say, do not be discouraged. Remember the sanctuary is a model of the plan of salvation. This is something we will be studying and looking into for all eternity.

 You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never fully reveal it. Yet as we study the Bible and meditate upon the life of Christ and the plan of redemption, these great themes will open to our understanding more and more. -Ellen White, The Faith I Live By, Page 43.

I have to admit, I grew up Adventist never really understanding a lot of the themes of the sanctuary or cleansing of the sanctuary. Instead of my teachers teaching it to me, they just told me I knew it. Interesting teaching method there! So, in my early twenties I still had lots of questions but did not dare ask because I was already suppose to know it all. Well I realized I was not going to learn any younger so I started asking questions anyways and reading and studying the sanctuary and the plan of redemption. I would like to share some books that have really helped me. Just click on the title for a PDF format of the book online, or info on how to purchase the book.

1844 Made Simple 

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In his book 1844 Made Simple, Clifford Goldstein does a remarkable job of making the judgement and cleansing of the sanctuary so….well…simple! He also makes it very clear how Biblical this teaching is, though it is unique to Seventh-day Adventists.

The Cross and it’s Sadow

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Stephen N. Haskell brings alive all of the imagery of the sanctuary and brings understanding to their applications. The feast days are also clearly explained. While some wonder why many Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate the feast days, Elder Haskell helps us see that we are observing the literal feast days. For example, ever since 1844 we have been in the literal day of atonement.

The Sanctuary Service

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In M.L. Andreason’s book, The Sanctuary Service, he illustrates how the sanctuary service illuminates Christ as our High Priest, Sacrifice and Intercessor.

Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed 

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When I was in my early 20′s and began studying the sanctuary this book, by Donald Short, brought many things to life for me! it also helped me understand the work our High Priest is doing in the sanctuary of my heart.

Jack Sequeira also has some wonderful study guides illustrating the sanctuary message and the plan of salvation.

Joe Gresham has some studies on Daniel and the cleansing of the sanctuary where all your answers are found in the Bible.

Happy studying!

William

A World Without Sacrifice?

I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.
I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.

Has modern technology removed the need for sacrifice? Now everyone can have their own way. When I was growing up back in the  20th century, my family had one black and white TV. On Monday nights, at our house we had to make compromises.

My dad and me missed the first hour of Monday Night Football so that my mom and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie. Now everyone can record their favorite show while watching another one, or just go watch the TV in their bedroom, so that there is no need for compromise, much less actual sacrifice.

When we went out to eat, someone had to choose where to go. Sometimes we wanted pizza, sometimes Mexican. Well, I always wanted Mexican, but that did not mean I always got it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That is until food courts arrived at the malls. Now everyone can eat at the same food court but still choose their own genre of food, while their friends choose theirs. No one has to compromise or sacrifice. Oh, and I almost forgot about waiting for my sister to get off the phone so I could call my friends! We only had, <gasp!> one phone line. We also had one bathroom for the whole family! Even so, in the thirteen years we lived in that house, I only remember twice having to run to the McDonald’s restroom four blocks away.  One of those times was a Thanksgiving with the house filled with guests.

Today we have our own cell phones. No one has to share. We have multiple bathrooms in our homes so no one has to wait. We have multiple restaurants to choose from at the food court so that everyone gets their own way. We have several TV’s in the home with recording devices so that no one has to compromise, and so that there will never again be an adolescent boy who has never seen a kickoff on Monday night.

So does this make the world a better place? A world without sacrifice? A world where your friends get what they want, but you always get what you want too? It may sound like Utopia. But wait a minute – we are talking about a world without love. That’s right. Love is the principal of putting others first. The law of love tells us in the first four commandments how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put others first. This is what love is, and if we don’t have to put anyone else first, then that means we don’t have to love. What kind of a world is that?

Think about this: Jesus in Gethsemane asks His Father if there was another way to save the world besides the awful sacrifice He was facing.

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”Matthew 26:39 NLT

Now you would think, if mankind has come up with enough technology so that we don’t have to compromise, share or put others first, much less have to sacrifice, that heaven could have come up with a better solution, than for God Himself to have to make a sacrifice! Yet heaven, with all of its infinite wisdom and resources only found one way to save the world. Sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of God’s own son!

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NLT

While we dream of a world without sacrifice, we had better remember that a world without sacrifice would be a world without love. Heaven was filled with love, and heaven itself could provide no other solution for mankind other than sacrifice. Heaven is a place where people have to share, compromise, put others first and at times sacrifice. That is what makes it heaven! That is what makes it a world of love!

For our world to be a world of love, it must include sacrifices. It must include putting others first instead of making sure everyone gets exactly what they want when they want it. God has given us the Sabbath as a systematic way to put God and others first with our time. God has also given us the tithe and offering system so that we can systematically put God and others first with our possessions. Without a systematic way to always put others first, our world would have no way of exercising love.

Even in today’s hi-tech society, the need for sacrifice has not been totally removed. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a kidney from his wife so that he could live. Now here is a way technology has created a way that we can sacrifice to save others! What a beautiful love story: Is there a more beautiful way to say you love someone than to give an organ that you may need later to save your own life? My friend Plessie, gave her kidney and maybe even later her own life to save her husband Jim.

I love the world I live in, not because it is filled with cell phones, DVR’s and a multiple selection of restaurants. Having more than one phone in the house or multiple restrooms in the house does not make this world paradise to me. It’s people like Plessie who make this world worth living in! It’s people like Plessie, who are not afraid of the word “sacrifice,” that make my world paradise on earth!

All the modern technology can’t make this world a paradise or heaven on earth. It can only make us self-centered, which is what caused Lucifer to fall from paradise. I can still remember seeing Jim and Plessie lying in their hospital beds after the transplant. I see the smile on Plessie’s face, satisfied that her sacrifice has saved her husband’s life, and that is when I see heaven on earth.

Jim and his wife Plessie, who knew you can’t have paradise without sacrifice.

You may study this week’s SS Lesson here.

Meaningful Relationships or Time Wasting

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

In her post, Life-Changing or Time Wasting, Lillianne Lopez cites that only 31% of Americans believe the Bible is inspired. Why do you think that is? I received a clue while I enjoyed reading Lillianne’s post.

A lady friend of mine instant-messaged me, saying she was frustrated with the singles websites, because the men contacting her were only after one thing – sex. She was disappointed she could not find anyone interested in a genuine relationship. I am sure they are out there. God has wonderful people all over the world. Still the question crossed my mind, is that why so many people don’t accept the Bible? Because, like the men contacting my lady friend, 69% of Americans are just looking for ways to gratify themselves instead of giving what it takes to make a meaningful relationship?The Bible does not do much for the pleasure seeker.

Then he [Jesus] 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

The Bible does not do much for human pride.

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18 NLT

The Bible does not do much for those wanting to be in the elite social circles.

You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.Matthew 24:9 NLT

Hence, the temptation – since the Bible does not tickle our fancy we cast it aside as uninspired and navigate towards those who flatter our pride and cater to our whims. We flatter those who flatter us, calling them inspired and profound, while they flatter us by assuring us we are on the right track, or as Jesus puts it, the blind leading the blind. Many mega and not so mega churches, have dropped teachings about self-denial and commandment keeping from their teachings, because they learned they are just not good marketing tools. Some call this being “progressive,” while their strategy is really nothing new. It was used by the apostate church way back in the Dark Ages.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.  -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 49

What a clever marketing scheme! It really made the church grow by leaps and bounds. By worldly standards it was brilliant. Yet we cannot gauge the success of the church or our personal lives by worldly standards. I don’t think I told you earlier, that it was Christian websites and – may I dare say it – Adventist Singles websites my friend was visiting, while everyone was trying to get with her for their own sexual gratification, instead of a meaningful relationship with her.

God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. Ellen White, Evangelism page 320

See friends, God is a lot like my lady friend. He is looking for meaningful relationships, instead of a multitude of people seeking their own gratification. While I am happy being single, I think I could also be happy married. Meanwhile, I have my family, friends, church and people in all my study groups, to keep me so busy I don’t have time to be lonely. (I didn’t even tell anybody that last Thursday, on my day off, I actually sneaked down to the Florida Everglades for some alone time!) Meanwhile I meet single people who are lonely. They are not seeking sexual gratification. They are seeking meaningful relationships. One told me, “I know they say marriage takes a 50-50 effort on both sides to make it work, but I would be willing to give 90 and only take 10 if I could just share my life with someone.” My heart broke with sympathy when I heard that. I knew they were telling the truth.

Friends, if you are looking for self-gratification I can see why you would toss the Bible aside. Yet if you are looking for a meaningful relationship, let me share with you Someone who has already given, not 90% but 100%.

Since he [The Father] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:23 NLT

Are you still hesitant because of the verses I shared with you earlier?

But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction.  -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46

To all those who are looking for something beyond superficial self-gratifying relationships offered by the world, and would like a more meaningful and deeper relationship, may I introduce to you Someone Who is willing to give 100% to have a real relationship with you? May I introduce to you a God who loves you more than life itself? He has written a very eloquent and inspired love letter for you called the Bible. If you appreciate real love instead of superficial self-gratification, I know you will agree it is inspired.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Health In Light Of The Cross-With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable copy of In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides-NLT here.

Health and Temperance

 

Brief overview: God want us to be healthy and happy. See Leviticus 11, 1 Corinthians 10:31Proverbs 20:1

Why it is important to know the truth about health and temperance:

 

You don’t have to be a doctor to know how important, rest; exercise and diet are to healthy living. Seventh-day Adventists have been sharing a health message for many years now. The December 2005 issue of National Geographichad an article on the health lifestyles of Seventh-day Adventists and reports that they live an average of eight years longer than the general population.

Why it is important to understand health and temperance in the light of the cross:

While we all want to live as long as we can this is great news, but the health message Adventists find in the light of the Cross is not just about living longer, but living better. The health message in the light of the Cross teaches us that a healthier body leads to a healthier mind, which is able to appreciate spiritual themes and make morally sound choices. So while those following Biblical health principles live longer, more importantly they live closer to Jesus.

Further Study on Health and Temperance

 

 

What does God call us to do?

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NLT

Will this have an impact on what we eat?

 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

What warning does God give?

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives inyou?  God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT

Why is this subject so important?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

Note: In view of the above principles, one should refrain from the use of things which tend to harm, impede, or shorten one’s life; as well as those things which God has strictly forbidden.

 

What is God’s warning about alcohol?                                                                          

Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.   Proverbs 23:29-32 NLT

Who does the Bible say has woe and sorrow?

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.Isaiah 5:20-22 NLT

What should we not be deceived by?

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise. Proverbs 20:1 NLT

 Will drunkards be in heaven?

or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10 NLT

 

What does God desire for us?

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

 

Did Noah realize a distinction between the animals?

Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others.  Genesis 7:2 NLT

Note: When the animals entered the ark, there were no Jews. The same health laws and principles apply to all mankind and for all time, as we all have the same stomachs.

How can we tell the difference?                                                                                         

  Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.“Of all the land animals, these are the ones you may use for food. You may eat any animal that has completely split hooves and chews the cud. You may not, however, eat the following animals that have split hooves or that chew the cud, but not both. The camel chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. The hyrax chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The hare chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you. Leviticus 11:1-8 NLT

What must seafood have to be eaten?

Of all the marine animals, these are ones you may use for food. You may eat anything from the water if it has both fins and scales, whether taken from salt water or from streams.  But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales. They are detestable to you. This applies both to little creatures that live in shallow water and to all creatures that live in deep water.  They will always be detestable to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies.  Any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is detestable to you. Leviticus 11:9-12 NLT

Why did God give this list?

 “These are the instructions regarding land animals, birds, marine creatures, and animals that scurry along the ground. By these instructions you will know what is unclean and clean, and which animals may be eaten and which may not be eaten.”  Leviticus 11:46-47 NLT

 Who will be destroyed when Jesus returns?

“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 66:17 NLT

 

Of course there is more to health than just what we eat.

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power,–these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge.  –Counsels on Diets and Food, Page 301

What does God want you to do?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.  Romans 12:1NLT

The Second Coming In Light Of The Cross- With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable version of the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides -NLT here.

The Second Coming

 

Brief overview: The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Titus 2:13Heb. 9:28John 14:1-3Acts 1:9-11Matt. 24:14Rev. 1:7Matt. 24:43441 Thess. 4:13-181 Cor. 15:51-542 Thess. 1:7-102:8Rev. 14:14-2019:11-21; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1-51 Thess. 5:1-6.)

Why it is important to understand the truth about the second coming:

Jesus Himself says many will try to impersonate His coming, so He told us exactly how He would come so we will not be deceived. See Matthew 24.

 

Why it is important to understand the second coming in light of the cross:

 

There is a difference between believing He will come, and loving His appearing. Children who are misbehaving at home while mother is out running errands believe she is coming again but since they have misbehaved and made a mess out of the house they do not love her appearing. A true Adventist is one who not only believes in Jesus’ coming but is in love with Him and His appearing. They are like Paul in Galatians 6:14 and in love with the Cross and crucified to the world!

The Bible often refers to the church as a woman (Revelation 12). Revelation 19:7 mentions a bride who is ready for marriage with the Lamb. Who could the Lamb be but Jesus and who could this bride be but His church? Now when you go to a wedding you will notice a very pretty little flower girl all dressed up. She is prepared for the wedding. But the groom does not wish to marry the flower girl. Oh she is pretty all right, and she is prepared. But she has not come prepared for the groom. No, she has come prepared for the cake and punch after the service! The groom does not want to marry a flower girl and neither does Jesus. The groom, Jesus wants to marry the bride. You see the bride has come and is prepared for one thing and one thing only. It’s not the cake and punch, no all she cares about is the groom! You see Jesus is not returning for “flower girls” who just get all excited about the cake, punch, golden streets and mansions. Jesus is returning for a bride who cares about Him! Even Satan believes Jesus is returning, but that belief will not do him any good since he is not in love with Jesus.

At the cross we see how much Jesus loves and desires to be with us, and it inspires us to love Him and want to be with Him.

Further Study on the Second Coming

What did Jesus promise to do?

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3 NLT

How will He come?

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.  As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:9-11 NLT

Was He a real person?                                                                                                   

 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them.“Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!  “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?  Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”  As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.  Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.  Luke 24:36-43 NLT

 

To what does He liken His coming?

 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Mancomes.  Matthew 24:27

What type of glory accompanies Him?

And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30 NLT

 

Whose glory is it?

If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:26 NLT

 

What do the angels do?

And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. Matthew 24:31

 

What happens to the righteous dead?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16- 17 NLT

What happens to the island and mountains?                                                                 

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?”   Revelation 6:14-17 NLT

 

How many will see Him coming?

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—    even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! Revelation 1:7 NLT

Why is Jesus coming back?

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:1-3 NLT

The Millennium in Light Of The Cross -With New Living Translation

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You can download a printable version of the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides-NLT here.

The Millennium

 

 Brief Overview:  The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. (Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2,3Jer. 4:23-26Rev. 21:1-5Mal. 4:1Eze. 28:1819.)

 

Why it is important to know the truth about the millennium:

There are many erroneous teachings about the millennium, including the idea some will be given a second chance after the second coming. This is a false security leading many to disregard the exhortation of Paul, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you.  On the day of salvation, I helped you.”Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

Why it is important to understand the millennium in light of the cross:

Only when we get to heaven will we see and realize what Jesus left to come and die for us.

Further Study on the Millennium

 

What happens to the earth when Jesus comes?

Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people. Isaiah 24:1 NLT

What happens to all of the wicked?

In that day those the Lord has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure. Jeremiah 25:33 NLT

What happens to the righteousness?

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NLT

Note:  When Jesus comes the wicked are all slain, the righteous are all

taken to heaven, and the earth is left in a desolate state (“without form and void” Jer. 4:23; as a “bottomless pit” Rev. 20:1).

How long is Satan bound to the earth?

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years.  The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. Revelation 20:1-3 NLT

Note: Satan is chained up by circumstances. All the wicked are dead. The righteous are in heaven, and he has no one to tempt or torment. Before his expulsion from heaven he thought he would make a better ruler than God. SeeIsaiah 14:14. Satan now gets to roam the world for a thousand years and consider the fruits of his empire.

 

What will the righteous be doing?

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 NLT

Whom shall they be judging?

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT

 

Jesus spoke of two resurrections.

Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. John 5:28-29 NLT

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29 KJV

When are the wicked dead raised?

This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)  Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.Revelation 20:5-6 NLT

What does Satan do when they are raised?

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. Revelation 20:7-8 NLT

 

What descends down from God?

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:2 NLT

What does Satan attempt and what happens?

And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Revelation 20:9 NLT

What is this fire called?

Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT

What will God create from the ashes?                                                                       

   But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,  looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. 2 Peter 3:10-13 NLT

What will the new earth be like?                                                                                      

    In those days people will live in the houses they build   and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses   and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. They will not work in vain,  and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the Lord,   and their children, too, will be blessed. I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs,  I will go ahead and answer their prayers! The wolf and the lamb will feed together.   The lion will eat hay like a cow.   But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.  I, the Lord, have spoken!” Isaiah 65:21-25 NLT

What promise of God does John see in vision?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 NLT

Christian Living In Light Of The Cross -With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable version of the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides -NLT here.

Christian Living

 

Brief overview: We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. (Rom. 12:121 John 2:6Eph. 5:1-21Phil. 4:82 Cor. 10:56:14-7:11 Peter 3:1-4)

 

Why it is important to understand the truth about Christian living:

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…” 2 Corinthians 5:20.  We are to represent Christ to the world.

Why it is important to understand Christian living in light of the cross:

 

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. 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 14:1-3

Last year I went with a friend to The Tampa Bay Ray’s stadium, Tropicana Field, where we watched the first place Rays defeat the second place Red Sox 2-1.

While at the game I noticed several Red Sox fans. You could easily spot them with their Red Sox shirts, caps, and jackets. I even sat by one. He assured me that the long fly that Ortiz hit to deep right center for an out would have been a homerun at FenwayPark, where the Red Sox play their home games.

I noticed something about the Red Sox fans. They came into our home ball park but still dressed and acted like they would at Fenway. They did not buy the Tampa Bay Rays t-shirts and caps and try to blend in at all. While most of them were very polite and pleasant to be around they still made it clear that Tropicana Field was not their home and the Rays were not their team. They did not mind looking like visitors. They did not mind that they dressed and looked different. They were proud of their team and where they were from.

As Christians, let’s let the world know earth is not our home. While being as polite and pleasant to be around as possible, let’s still let it be known, our home is in heaven, not here. We do not blend in with the world because we are not a part of this world. Let’s not be afraid to look different and act different. Let’s be as proud of where we belong as the Red Sox fans were proud of where they belong.

Further Study on Christian Living

 

Christian living in the family

 

Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, marriage partners who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving disciplinarian, ever tender and caring, who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message. (Gen. 2:18-25Matt. 19:3-9;John 2:1-112 Cor. 6:14Eph. 5:21-33Matt. 5:3132Mark 10:1112Luke 16:181 Cor. 7:1011Ex. 20:12Eph. 6:1-4Deut. 6:5-9Prov. 22:6Mal. 4:5,6.)

Christian living in the church

 

The church is the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In continuity with the people of God in Old Testament times, we are called out from the world; and we join together for worship, for fellowship, for instruction in the Word, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, for service to all mankind, and for the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. The church derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word, and from the Scriptures, which are the written Word. The church is God’s family; adopted by Him as children, its members live on the basis of the new covenant. The church is the body of Christ, a community of faith of which Christ Himself is the Head. The 18.)church is the bride for whom Christ died that He might sanctify and cleanse her. At His return in triumph, He will present her to Himself a glorious church, the faithful of all the ages, the purchase of His blood, not having spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish. (Gen. 12:3Acts 7:38Eph. 4:11-153:8-11Matt. 28:192016:13-2018:18Eph. 2:19-221:22235:23-27Col. 1:17,

The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (Rev. 12:1714:6-1218:1-42 Cor. 5:10Jude 3141 Peter 1:16-192 Peter 3:10-14Rev. 21:1-14.)

The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. (Rom. 12:451 Cor. 12:12-14Matt. 28:1920Ps. 133:12 Cor. 5:1617Acts 17:2627Gal. 3:2729Col. 3:10-15Eph. 4:14-164:1-6John 17:20-23.)

The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians. (1 Cor. 10:161711:23-30Matt. 26:17-30Rev. 3:20John 6:48-6313:1-17.)

 

Christian Living and Entertainment

 

 

What should we avoid?

Stay away from every kind of evil.1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT

What should we not fall in love with?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 NLT

Note: No one in this world will love and care for us the way God does. God does not want us to let the gods of this earth to come before Him. Not because He is on an ego trip or being selfish but He is jealous for our welfare. He knows He is the only one who cares for us the way He does. No Hollywood celebrity, rock star, or athlete is willing to give their life for us the way Jesus did. Let’s give our live to the One who gave His life for us.

 

 

What is Paul’s counsel?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8 NLT

What is David’s resolution?

I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. Psalm 101:3 NLT

Christian Living and Dress

 

Can we make our own rules?

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course. Jeremiah 10:23 NLT

What happens when we make our own rules or follow our own inclinations or opinions?

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 16:25 NLT 

 

What should we set before the people?
Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. Isaiah 62:10 NLT

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.  Isaiah 62:10 KJV

 

Note: The NLT and KJV tell us to raise a flag or a standard, and also to remove stone or boulders, which could cause others to stumble. This effects the way we dress, as the way we dress could cause others to stumble spiritually.

What are we and what are we to do?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19- 20 NLT

What did God tell the people to take off?

For the Lord had told Moses to tell them, “You are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I were to travel with you for even a moment, I would destroy you. Remove your jewelry and fine clothes while I decide what to do with you.” So from the time they left Mount Sinai the Israelites wore no more jewelry or fine clothes. Exodus 33:5- 6 NLT

Note: When God’s people experience revival they remove their jewelry and “flashy” or “fine” clothes. They dress modestly.

 

How does god portray apostate Israel?

I will punish her for all those times  when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels  and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me,”  says the Lord. 

 Hosea 2:13 NLT

 

How is the corrupt church described?

So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality. A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.” Revelation 17:3-5 NLT

How should God’s people adorn themselves?

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.  1Timothy 2:9- 10 NLT

What should be the only ornament of a Christian?

 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.1 Peter 3:3-5 NLT

What kind of people are we to be?

 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 NLT