If God Wasn’t Watching Would You Still be Good?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 NLT

When I was a little boy, way back in the nineteen hundreds, I remember singing the song in cradle roll, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. Oh be careful little eyes what you see.” You may remember the song then went on about ears being careful what they hear, and hands being careful what they do, since we all know God is watching us.

It is a sobering reality, that God is watching us.

Just a couple weeks ago, I read where a family going through the drive thru at a fast food restaurant, was accidentally given a sack with that day’s deposit money instead of their food! They realized later, when they opened their bag, that instead of it being filled with french fries and burgers, it was filled with over two thousand dollars in cash! The family returned the money, saying that they were Jehovah Witnesses and they knew God was watching them. They remind me of my Jehovah Witness friend in Texas, who is a very honest caring person. I applaud our Jehovah Witness friends for their integrity.

Even though they say the returned the money because they knew God was watching, I imagine, being the wonderful people that they are, that they would have returned the money even if He wasn’t. I mean, do we only do good because God is watching? If so isn’t that very legalistic and works orientated, to only do good so long as there is a God Who watching and waiting to reward our good behavior and punish our bad behavior?

Jesus is telling a story in Matthew 25:34-40 NLT.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

I am compelled to believe that not only did these people not have a clue they were helping Jesus, I also sense they were helping the needy with no clue that there would be any reward whatsoever. Their response tells me they were not expecting a reward of any kind. They seem to be surprised that Jesus even knew about any of this. Its not that they don’t know God sees everything, but while they were helping others, they had mercy on their mind and not a video recorder preserving their good deeds to be replayed and rewarded.

Jesus gives us this illustration to let us know, we should work for Him out of love for His great sacrifice, and not for a reward from God watching our every move.

When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’?  No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10 NLT

I believe those Jesus commends in Matthew 25 felt they were simply doing their duty out of love, and never considered themselves candidates for any type of reward in this life, or the hereafter.

Join millions in studying the book of Proverbs online here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; The Blessing of Blessing Others

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

He that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25. 
The teaching of Christ was the expression of an inwrought conviction and experience, and those who learn of Him become teachers after the divine order. The Word of God, spoken by one who is himself sanctified through it, has a life-giving power that makes it attractive to the hearers, and convicts them that it is a living reality. When one has received the truth in the love of it, he will make this manifest in the persuasion of his manner and the tones of his voice. He makes known that which he himself has heard, seen, and handled of the Word of life, that others may have fellowship with him through the knowledge of Christ. His testimony, from lips touched with a live coal from off the altar, is truth to the receptive heart, and works sanctification upon the character.
And he who seeks to give light to others will himself be blessed. “There shall be showers of blessing.” “He that watereth shall be watered also himself.” God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid; but in order for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work. In order to enter into His joy–the joy of seeing souls redeemed by His sacrifice–we must participate in His labors for their redemption.
Nathanael’s first expression of his faith, so full and earnest and sincere, fell like music on the ears of Jesus. And He “answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.” The Saviour looked forward with joy to His work in preaching good tidings to the meek, binding up the brokenhearted, and proclaiming liberty to the captives of Satan. At thought of the precious blessings He had brought to men, Jesus added, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Here Christ virtually says, On the bank of the Jordan the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Me. That scene was but a token that I am the Son of God. If you believe on Me as such, your faith shall be quickened. You shall see that the heavens are opened, and are never to be closed. I have opened them to you. The angels of God are ascending, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above, and descending, bringing blessing and hope, courage, help, and life, to the children of men.
The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. . . . And thus Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 142-143

Join millions this quarter who are studying the Proverbs Sabbath School lessons.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Winning Souls

I am writing tonight from  the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30.
Let those who have been trained for service now take their places quickly in the Lord’s work. House-to-house laborers are needed. The Lord calls for decided efforts to be put forth in places where the people know nothing of the truth. Singing and prayer and Bible readings are needed in the homes of the people. Now, just now, is the time to obey the commission, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Those who do this work must have a ready knowledge of the Scriptures. “It is written” is to be their weapon of defense.
God has given us light on His Word that we may give it to our fellow men. The truth spoken by Christ will reach hearts. A “Thus saith the Lord” will fall upon the ear with power, and fruit will appear wherever honest service is done.
The Lord calls for action. . . . Should we neglect to take advantage of this time, we should miss a great opportunity for letting light from God’s Word shine forth. The trumpet is to give a certain sound.
Say to the people: “Know for yourselves of the doctrine.” Let not your lips utter a sentence of doubt. Do not come before the people with an uncertain sound. Know what is truth and proclaim truth. Christ’s teaching was always positive in its nature. Never, never utter sentiments of doubt. Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ.
Christ’s divinity is to be steadfastly maintained. When the Saviour asked His disciples the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). Said Christ, “Upon this rock,” not on Peter, but on the Son of God, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (verse 18).
Great is the mystery of godliness. There are mysteries in the life of Christ that are to be believed, even though they cannot be explained.–Ellen White in a Letter 65, Feb. 13, 1905, to A. T. Jones, a prominent minister. 

You can study more about proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; God Has My Back

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:26 NLT

Years ago, I was buying a used car, and was about to drive it off the lot, when I realized I had not even looked in the trunk yet, to make sure it had a spare tire and jack. I mentioned it to the salesman, who promised me it was there, so took his word for it and did not check the trunk.

Not even a week later, I was driving down the highway when a tire blew out. I pulled over to the shoulder of the road, patting myself on the back for asking the salesman, and making sure I had a spare and jack, to change the tire.

I opened the trunk and found the salesman to be half right. There was a tire, but no jack. I was a little less than happy and was wondering what I would do, stranded with no way to change my flat tire. I did not have to wonder for long. In just a matter of moments, a friend passed by, and spotted me on the side of the road. He pulled over, and of course had a jack for me to change my tire. in just minutes I was on my way again, and stopped by the car dealership where I picked up a free tire jack.

The foolish information the salesman gave me, almost had me trapped by the side of the road, but God was my security, when He had my friend come along and save me. Even when people try to trap you, God has your back every time.

You can Continue studying Proverbs with millions by studying this quarter’s Sabbath School Lesson Guides. 

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Don’t Disconnect From Christ

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed. Proverbs 10:9 NLT

To me, walking with integrity means walking with Jesus. Before evil can take us down a crooked path, we must first disconnect from Jesus. I have learned not only to pray before reading my Bible, I have learned to pray before reading anything! Even when I read secular biographies and human interest stories I often find sermon illustrations or parables for myself. Also, if I feel uncomfortable praying about reading something, there is my first clue I should not read it! If we choose not to pray before a certain activity then we are consciously and intentionally choosing to disconnect from Christ.

That disconnect is where the crooked path begins. Jesus tells us in John 10:28 no one can snatch us away from Him. Yet, we are always free to leave Him by our own choice. Satan can’t force any of us to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us God can deliver us from every temptation. Yet if we choose not to pray and stay connected to Jesus, then we have chosen to disconnect and go our own crooked way.

Please remember we are not like golf carts that can charge their own batteries and then run all day on their own power. We are like trolley cars which must always be connected to the cable or they can’t move a single inch. So long as we stay connected Jesus, Who is our Cable, we will never get off track.

Join millions this quarter who are studying the Sabbath School lesson on Proverbs.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Can People Who Don’t Belong to My Church Denomination Be Wise Too?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. Proverbs 8:33 NLT

Is there a chance God tried to share His wisdom with us, be we rejected it because we didn’t like the Vessels He used?

Sure Isaiah 8:20 tells us if they speak not according to the law there is no light in them, but we need to be careful we don’t misunderstand and go overboard here. Isaiah was speaking specifically about spiritualism, and was making the point that when people contradict the Scripture there is no light in their contradiction.

Whatever men may speak that is not in harmony with that Word has “no light” in it. -Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002, S. 144

So Isaiah was not telling us that if someone was not a Jew that there was nothing that could be learned from them. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was born, gentile kings came looking for Him while the “church leaders” were ignorant of His advent. Here is what Ellen White, co-founder of the Adventist Church had to say.

These learned teachers would not stoop to be instructed by those whom they termed heathen. It could not be, they said, that God had passed them by, to communicate with ignorant shepherds or uncircumcised Gentiles. They determined to show their contempt for the reports that were exciting King Herod and all Jerusalem. They would not even go to Bethlehem to see whether these things were so. And they led the people to regard the interest in Jesus as a fanatical excitement. Here began the rejection of Christ by the priests and rabbis. From this point their pride and stubbornness grew into a settled hatred of the Saviour. While God was opening the door to the Gentiles, the Jewish leaders were closing the door to themselves. –Desire of Ages, Pages 62-63

Have we tuned out a message from God because we were prejudiced against the person God used, and felt our theology was superior to theirs?

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

In united States elections you can vote for different individuals on the ballot for each office, or you can just just check one box and vote straight Republican or straight Democrat. If you vote straight for one party you don’t have to do any research on the candidates. Do we do this in the church? Instead of searching the Bible for ourselves do we just subscribe to whatever church we belong to, or our local pastor? Instead of searching the Bible to see if what was said is true, do we just go by who said it? If my church said it then it must be right, and if another church said it, then it must be wrong? If we are we are making the same mistake the church leaders made in Christ’s day! The Jews were God’s chosen people, but the gentiles had a few things to teach them as well about Jesus. The Bereans did not accept or reject what Paul taught based on what they thought about him, but based on whether or not he agreed with Scripture.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. My church has a message about sanctification not found in many other churches. However, one day I went to a Methodist church to hear a friend of mine sing in her choir. After the choir sang, a black woman stood up to preach. She spoke on Ephesians, and how the first half of Ephesians is about justification and us in Christ. The second half of Ephesians, she explained is about sanctification and Christ in us. She went on to preach the most powerful sermon I have ever heard on sanctification. I have “borrowed” her sermon numerous times, and received comments about what a wonderful “Adventist” sermon it was. The people did not know, I got this wonderful “Adventist” sermon from a black Methodist woman! (I add the exclamation mark, not because it surprised me that God used a black Methodist woman, but it will surprise some who are prejudiced by either three adjectives.)

I sat there in that Methodist church Sunday, feasting on every word she spoke, not concerning myself with whether or not she was black or white, male or female, Adventist or Methodist, but like the Bearans I just checked if what she was saying was Biblical- and it was!

Only listening to certain people with “approved labels” is not wise. It is prejudiced. Wisdom is listening to what is being said instead of who is saying it.

Study the Sabbath School lesson guide on the book of Proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Instructing the Wise

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9. 
As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life.
The humble worker who obediently responds to the call of God may be sure of receiving divine assistance. To accept so great and holy a responsibility is itself elevating to the character. It calls into action the highest mental and spiritual powers, and strengthens and purifies the mind and heart. Through faith in the power of God, it is wonderful how strong a weak man may become, how decided his efforts, how prolific of great results.
He who begins with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking diligently for further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. The more one tries to explain the Word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself. The more we use our knowledge and exercise our powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have.
Every effort made for Christ will react in blessing upon ourselves. If we use our means for His glory, He will give us more. As we seek to win others to Christ, bearing the burden of souls in our prayers, our own hearts will throb with the quickening influence of God’s grace; our own affections will glow with more divine fervor; our whole Christian life will be more of a reality, more earnest, more prayerful.
The value of man is estimated in heaven according to the capacity of the heart to know God. This knowledge is the spring from which flows all power. God created man that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine mind; and He is ever seeking to bring the human mind into association with the divine. He offers us the privilege of cooperation with Christ in revealing His grace to the world, that we may receive increased knowledge of heavenly things.
Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity. —Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 354-355.