Nightmare on the Golf Course

 

 

 

Tom and I golfing in Chattanooga. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I so wanted everything to be perfect. That is the golf match last week between me and an ole college buddy. Last time we played together was Christmas Eve on a course in the Chattanooga Mountains. I scored a 137 in the mountains that day and we did not even have time to finish all 18 holes! But now, five months later, I have been practicing every week on my day off as well as golfing with my church’s small golf group. I have been going online and reading tips and watching instructional videos. I have paid for private lessons and those are not cheap! After five months of practice, effort and dedication I thought I was beginning to get my game under control. I was excited about meeting my friend Tom for a re-match in Chattanooga. I felt confident, as I was more experienced now, and we would be on a course this time that was not in the mountains. I was looking forward to impressing my friend on the golf course.

 

Imagine how my confidence went up a notch when Tom told me he had not played since our last meeting five months ago. I thought surely my five months of hard work would pay off. The rest of this story is a total nightmare. The first hole was a par 4 and I made it in 8. Not exactly what I had planned. Even though I get an 8 every now and then, I was sure I had gotten my “bad hole” out of the way, and I would sail through the rest of the course. Wrong! That day I scored an 8 seven times! On a par 5 I scored a 10! What I had been looking forward to on the entire 9 hour trip up was now turning ugly for me! Meanwhile my friend Tom who had not even played or practiced all year was cruising along just fine.

 

The worse I play the more frustrated I get and then I play even worse. I would get frustrated every time I had a bad hit and would yell at myself, “William!” I then realized I did not need to broadcast my name to the entire golf course while playing so badly. We decided that we could do no more than double par. So on one hole that was par 4, 8 would be the maximum number of strokes I could take to make it. I was at stroke number 8 while still in the middle of the fairway, nowhere close to the green yet! I yelled out to Tom across the fairway, “I am in the middle of the fairway and already have 8 strokes!” Once again I realized I did not need to be broadcasting my misfortune to the entire golf world.

 

On the next fairway I had a great start! I was on track to make par when I hit into a sand trap next to the green. If I could just hit out of the trap onto the green I could still make par. That never happened as my next 4 strokes never left the sand trap. I was so frustrated I did something I have never done before. I threw my golf club into the sand in disgust! I had just planned a vacation and traveled 9 hours just to make a fool out of myself! At least I was gentleman enough to sincerely congratulate Tom, who easily made par on the same hole. He even mentioned how amazingly easy all of his shots just fell perfectly into place. Hhhmmpphh!! Why me Lord? Why can’t I be like Tom? I try so hard! The whole day was not a complete disaster. Besides enjoying a beautiful day with a long time friend, I did get par on the last hole which was a par 5. In the end though, my friend who has not even been practicing beat me by 16 strokes! I practiced hard for 5 months only to get beat by 16 strokes by someone who has not practiced at all!

 

I hid my frustration well, (besides throwing my golf club into the sand) but was very disappointed that I had nothing to show for all my hard work. Then I remembered reading something in the Spirit of Prophecy years ago. It was to the effect that while some people may have a lot of flaws in their characters, some of them are trying harder to live a Christian life than some of the so called polished Christians. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me; “William you are frustrated that Tom saw no evidence of your hard work and effort on the golf course. Meanwhile you are studying and associating with people all around you who are really trying hard to be better Christians, even though it may not look like it to you. Some of the people you get discouraged with are actually putting more effort into their Christian walk than you are putting into yours.” Then I remembered how easily Tom’s par came to him on the same fairway that I failed on, even though I was trying very hard. I realized what I had experienced on the golf course, many struggling Christians are experiencing in real life. Just like I would try my best to do everything right and make the perfect shot, I was missing the mark by a mile. Likewise, just because people miss the mark in the Christian life does not mean God does not know they are trying, maybe even trying harder than the polished Christians.

 

I got the message. I decided instead of being discouraged over my nightmare on the golf course, that I would use this experience as a reminder to be patient with others who are making all kinds of mistakes in the game of life. Just like I wished my golf buddy could have looked past my three digit score, and seen into my heart, and known what I was actually trying to accomplish, I will assume that those around me are trying harder to be a Christian than it may appear to me.

 

When I got home I looked for and found the quote I was thinking about earlier. Here it is from Testimonies Volume 2 page 74 in the chapter called, “Love for the erring.” I recomend reading the entire chapter! “While some are continually harassed, afflicted, and in trouble because of their unhappy traits of character, having to war with internal foes and the corruption of their nature, others have not half so much to battle against. They pass along almost free from the difficulties which their brethren and sisters who are not so favorably organized are laboring under. In very many cases they do not labor half so hard to overcome and live the life of a Christian as do some of those unfortunate ones I have mentioned.”

 

 

 

 

For more studies and pictures please visit my personal website.

 

Check out my friend’s sports blog. http://bulldogsportsblog.blogspot.com/

The Beatitudes

Here are a few of my thoughts on the Beatitudes as we study our SS lesson this week on “The Wisdom of His Teachings.”

 

 

 

Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

 

Here Jesus is talking about a people who have no pride in spirit, but instead sense their need of a Savior. Notice it is at that time that we receive eternal life. Sure the conversion is still to be completed and spiritual victories are yet to be won. Yet Jesus clearly says that for the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Not will be but is, now.

 

Throughout the conversion process and even when it is completed we are poor in spirit. We realized our righteousness is not our own, it is God’s. Our good deeds are actually the fruits of the spirit, not our works of the flesh.

 

For example, several years ago I was watching the Cosby Show. Vanessa was complaining to her dad, Bill Cosby that kids were calling her a snob because they had so much money. “Dad”, she sighed, ‘Why do we have to be so rich?” Bill Cosby replied as only he can, “Wait a minute Vanessa, your mother and I are rich. You have nothing!” Good point. The nice fancy home Vanessa lived in was her parents not hers. The healthy food she ate came from her folks. The expensive clothes she wore had been all paid by her mother and father as well. Her parents were rich. She had nothing. At least on her own she had nothing but by being in a relationship with her parents she was made rich. Likewise on our own we are spiritually broke. Everything good about us comes from the goodness of God living in us.

 

 

Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

 

The second step to a complete conversion is a true sorrow for sin. A truly converted person does not brag about all the money she swindled or men that she has been with. A truly converted person mourns because of what their sin has done to Christ and His cause and not what the sin had done to them personally. In Psalms 51 David says, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” What David is saying, is I have hurt You God. That is why I am sorry.

 

Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5

 

Meek people are teachable. Jesus does not require us to be perfect on day one of our conversion. Jesus accepts us just the way we are. If we are poor in spirit and mourn for our sins, then Jesus finds us teachable. Jesus spent His time on earth with druggies and perverts. They seemed to be losers in society except for one attribute which kept them from maturing into complete losers. They were teachable.

 

 Jesus was a patient teacher. Jesus did not try to be patient nor did he pretend to be patient. He was patient.  Jesus did not use the failures of others as opportunities to censor. He used them for an opportunity for Him to teach. He taught by example and often the same lesson over and over. He never censored the publicans and prostitutes as long as they were teachable. He did censor the self righteous Pharisees for not being teachable.

 

Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6

 

Converted people don’t reach for the lowest standards. They reach for the righteousness of Christ. While many debate as to just how far sanctification can take us, Jesus promises to fill us with His righteousness. Ephesians 3:19 tells us we can be filled with all the fullness of God. Romans 8:4 tells us the righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us, not just for us. For that to happen we must sense our need for it. We must hunger and thirst for the living water. Poor people in third world countries are not the only ones starving to death. Millionaires in California and Texas have starved to death as well, because some of them had a disease that took away their appetite and they didn’t eat. They ended up starving to death simply because they were not hungry. God can save us if we will just allow Him to make us hungry enough to eat the living bread.

 

So far as the conversion has progressed, God has not asked us to be self righteous, He has asked us to be poor in spirit. He has not asked us to be perfect but teachable. He has not demanded for us to know it all but to hunger and thirst for it all. He will teach. He will fill us. He will make us righteous. Jesus is truly patient because all He is truly wanting are opportunities to teach people who really want to learn. Patient is the teacher who sees the best in the student while seeking better ways and opportunities to teach.

 

Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  Matthew5:7

 

Notice after being filled with righteousness, the next step is not self righteousness but being merciful. A converted person always expects less from others and more from himself. A converted person knows that not only was Jesus treated the way I should be treated so I can be treated the way Jesus should be treated, but I can also treat my enemy just like I would treat Christ Himself, because Christ was treated just like my enemy should have been treated.

 

 

 

 

Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Matthew 5:8

 

The purity in heart is the purity of our heavenly Teacher. Look at this passage in Ezekiel 36: 24-29 and see how it is accomplished in the student not just for the student. At the same time it is all accomplished by the Teacher not the student. “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.  I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” 

 

 

Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  Matthew 5:9

 

Jesus’ conversion process has us ending up with His character. He is the great Prince of Peace and He will teach us to be peacemakers. Converted people don’t break up families and homes or churches.

 

Peace does not mean calm and quiet. Peace means unity. Peace does not mean there is no storm. It just means there is a unity with God in the storm. Peace does not come from being proud and self righteous but by being poor in spirit, knowing you need to be in unity with God. Peace does not come from knowing it all but by being teachable. Peace comes from hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness instead of hungering and thirsting for worldly accomplishments and worldly greatness.

 

True peace and contentment does not come from unity with your spouse. It comes from being in unity with God.

 

Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12

 

Notice that now that the conversion is complete, now the persecution has come. Why? Because we have raised the standard. When I was in 9th grade algebra our teacher graded on the curve and counted the highest score as 100%. So if the highest grade was 85 and mine was 60 then my percentage was 60 out of 85 instead of 60 out of 100. We only had one problem. A girl in our class kept getting 100 out of 100 and so the standard was never lowered. She was not popular on the days we got out tests back because she would not lower the standard for the rest of us. Likewise when we have been converted and we raise the standard above the worldly standard the world will persecute us. The church will never see persecution as long as it watches the same movies the world watches, dresses the same way the world dresses and eats the same way the world eats. Persecution will never come as long as we don’t make the world look any less holy than it is. In the book of Revelation the persecution comes after God’s people have been sealed with His character. A character far above the world. The same is seen here in the Beatitudes. Once the conversion is complete, here comes the persecution. And Jesus says “Rejoice!” The kingdom is at hand and it is yours!

 

Check out more studies on my personal website at http://www.InLightOfTheCross.com

 

The Reality of His Humanity

thur-nov-13-08-001I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Since this week’s SS lesson takes a look at Christ’s human nature, I thought I would share a Desire of Ages study on this topic that is also posted on my personal website. I have shared this more than once over the years, but every time I do, people tell me they have found it to be very helpful and inspiring, so here it is on my blog.

 

When thinking of Christ and Him being 100% God and still 100% man, I am reminded of a country gospel song I heard a while back. In the song Jesus is 12 years old in the temple and the teachers ask Him how old He is. In the song he answers, “On my mother’s side I am 12. On my Father’s side I am the alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” I always thought that was pretty neat.

 

                                      The Likeness of Men

 

Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.” Heb. 10:5-7. In these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our world, and to become incarnate. He says, “A body hast Thou prepared Me.” Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,–the invisible glory in the visible human form.  {DA 23.2}

                         

                                       Jesus Took Our Nature

 

Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience. For this He took upon Himself our nature, and passed through our experiences. “In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” Heb. 2:17. If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Ps. 40:8. As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the character of God’s law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the law of God.  {DA 24.2}

 

By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature.{DA  25.3}

 

            After 4,000 Years of Sin. Subject to the Law of Heredity

 

It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.  {DA 49.1}

 

                               He Gained Knowledge as we May do

 

 

The question asked during the Saviour’s ministry, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” does not indicate that Jesus was unable to read, but merely that He had not received a rabbinical education. John 7:15. Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word. And spread out before Him was the great library of God’s created works. He who had made all things studied the lessons which His own hand had written in earth and sea and sky. Apart from the unholy ways of the world, He gathered stores of scientific knowledge from nature. He studied the life of plants and animals, and the life of man. From His earliest years He was possessed of one purpose; He lived to bless others. For this He found resources in nature; new ideas of ways and means flashed into His mind as He studied plant life and animal life. Continually He was seeking to draw from things seen illustrations by which to present the living oracles of God. The parables by which, during His ministry, He loved to teach His lessons of truth show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature, and how He had gathered the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of His daily life.  {DA 70.2}

 

                        

                                         Our Fallen Nature                  

 

These words of confirmation were given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to strengthen the Saviour for His mission. Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal. {112.3}

 

 

                                         Likeness of Sinful Flesh

 

 At the Saviour’s baptism, Satan was among the witnesses. He saw the Father’s glory overshadowing His Son. He heard the voice of Jehovah testifying to the divinity of Jesus. Ever since Adam’s sin, the human race had been cut off from direct communion with God; the intercourse between heaven and earth had been through Christ; but now that Jesus had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), the Father Himself spoke. He had before communicated with humanity through Christ; now He communicated with humanity in Christ. Satan had hoped that God’s abhorrence of evil would bring an eternal separation between heaven and earth. But now it was manifest that the connection between God and man had been restored.  {DA 116.2}

 

 

                                       Effected by 4,000 Years of Sin               

 

Satan had pointed to Adam’s sin as proof that God’s law was unjust, and could not be obeyed. In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure. But when Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden, and was in daily communion with heavenly beings. It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.  {DA 117.1}

  

                                 Unites  Interests With Fallen Mankind                              

 

  Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam’s position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.

 

The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us. In taking upon Himself humanity, our Saviour unites His interests with those of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, while through His divinity He grasps the throne of God. And thus Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men.  {DA 143.1}

 

                                Dependent Upon His Father’s Power                   

 

Jesus repelled the charge of blasphemy. My authority, He said, for doing the work of which you accuse Me, is that I am the Son of God, one with Him in nature, in will, and in purpose. In all His works of creation and providence, I co-operate with God. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.” The priests and rabbis were taking the Son of God to task for the very work He had been sent into the world to do. By their sins they had separated themselves from God, and in their pride were moving independently of Him. They felt sufficient in themselves for all things, and realized no need of a higher wisdom to direct their acts. But the Son of God was surrendered to the Father’s will, and dependent upon His power. So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will.  {DA 208.2}

 

                                            He Took Our nature                     

 

Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  {DA 311.5}

 

             Laid Down Almighty Power And Trusted in Father’s Might

 

When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the “Master of earth and sea and sky” that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” John 5:30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith–faith in God’s love and care–that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God.  {DA 336.1}

 

               

                                          His Experience is to be Ours

 

In Christ the cry of humanity reached the Father of infinite pity. As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours.  {DA 363.1}

 

                                   Lived by Faith in The Father

 

But even these figures fail to present the privilege of the believer’s relation to Christ. Jesus said, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” As the Son of God lived by faith in the Father, so are we to live by faith in Christ. So fully was Jesus surrendered to the will of God that the Father alone appeared in His life. Although tempted in all points like as we are, He stood before the world untainted by the evil that surrounded Him. Thus we also are to overcome as Christ overcame.  {DA 389.4}

 

                                        Prayed For Strength

 

Presently Christ tells them that they are now to go no farther. Stepping a little aside from them, the Man of Sorrows pours out His supplications with strong crying and tears. He prays for strength to endure the test in behalf of humanity. He must Himself gain a fresh hold on Omnipotence, for only thus can He contemplate the future. And He pours out His heart longings for His disciples, that in the hour of the power of darkness their faith may not fail. The dew is heavy upon His bowed form, but He heeds it not. The shadows of night gather thickly about Him, but He regards not their gloom. So the hours pass slowly by. At first the disciples unite their prayers with His in sincere devotion; but after a time they are overcome with weariness, and, even while trying to retain their interest in the scene, they fall asleep. Jesus has told them of His sufferings; He has taken them with Him that they might unite with Him in prayer; even now He is praying for them. The Saviour has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an assurance that their faith has not been in vain. Not all, even of the twelve, can receive the revelation He desires to give. Only the three who are to witness His anguish in Gethsemane have been chosen to be with Him on the mount. Now the burden of His prayer is that they may be given a manifestation  of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be strengthened to behold it. He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.  {DA 419.4}

 

 

                            Miracles Done by Faith and Prayer

 

In all that He did, Christ was co-operating with His Father. Ever He had been careful to make it evident that He did not work independently; it was by faith and prayer that He wrought His miracles. Christ desired all to know His relationship with His Father. “Father,” He said, “I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” Here the disciples and the people were to be given the most convincing evidence in regard to the relationship existing between Christ and God. They were to be shown that Christ’s claim was not a deception.  {DA 536.1}

 

 

                     Never Ceased to Be God While Taking Fallen Nature                 

 

Amazed at his dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained surprise, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?” Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? “How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.  {DA 663.5}

 

 

                                  Had no Power That we May Not have

 

“Verily, verily, I say unto you,” Christ continued, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.” The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.  {DA 664.4}

 

 

                           He Was Dependent Upon Father’s Power

 

“I am the true Vine,” He says. Instead of choosing the graceful palm, the lofty cedar, or the strong oak, Jesus takes the vine with its clinging tendrils to represent Himself. The palm tree, the cedar, and the oak stand alone. They require no support. But the vine entwines about the trellis, and thus climbs heavenward. So Christ in His humanity was dependent upon divine power. “I can of Mine own self do nothing,” He declared. John 5:30.  {DA 674.3}

 

 

                             He Could Not See Beyond The Tomb

 

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.  {DA 753.2}

 

 

                                              Overcame by Faith

 

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.  {DA 756.3}

The Messiah

As we contemplate in this week’s SS Lesson about who Jesus really is, here is a helpful study.

This study will take the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and

show the New Testament fulfillment of these in the life and death of

Jesus.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Play It Where It Lies

 I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. 

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7 

 

 I have a confession to make. Often when I play golf I don’t play by the rules, if my opponent will allow me not to. For example, if I hit into the woods or a bunker, I will find my golf ball and throw it out onto the fairway instead of having to hit my way out. After all, all fairways are different and if I had been on another fairway I probably would not have hit into the woods or bunker anyway, so it’s just not fair. Why should I have to deal with something that could have been avoided by just playing on a different course? It’s not fair for other people to compare my score to theirs if they have not played on the same course.  

At least that’s how I used to play but not anymore. In a Bible study I was giving tonight somebody said something that totally changed how I look at my golf game as well as life. We were talking about the trials God sees us through and talking about how those trials make us stronger. We mentioned the Andre Crouch song called “Through It All.” In that song Andre asks the question, “If I didn’t have any problems how could I know my God could solve them?” 

 That is when it hit me. Back in early February I was watching the AT&T Pebble Beach PGA classic on TV. I remembered when Steve Lowry who later won the classic, was hitting out of a sand trap in the middle of the fairway. I marveled when he hit out of the sand trap and onto the green some 150 or 200 yards away just a few feet from the hole! What a beautiful shot! I am lucky if I can just get out of the trap. No way could I ever get up onto the green from a trap that far away. Tonight it hit me that I never will be able to do that if I keep throwing my ball into a more favorable position instead of just playing it where it lies, like Steve Lowry did. God will never be able to show me and the world what He can do for and through me unless I learn in golf and life to just play the ball wherever it lies. I can make excuses that I am just on a tough fairway and should be excused from the trial. I can just pick up my ball and drop it in a more favorable spot and just hit from there. Or I can just call upon the really great God that I have to help me right where I am. I can go play on an easier course or I can let God develop the skills I need to win right where I am.

From now on, I will play my way out of the woods and out of the sand traps and bunkers, so I can develop myself into the type player who, will one day hit out of a difficult place right onto the green next to the hole. I won’t be just dropping the ball out of the woods and traps to a more favorable spot. I will be facing my trials head on. I won’t be blaming my problems on the particular fairway I am on. I will accept my lot in life and just play the ball where it lies. I will allow God to use these trials to make me a better person not just on the golf course but in life. 

 Who knows? Maybe one day my most beautiful shot in golf or life may come while I am in the woods or a sand trap.

Check out my friend’s sports blog. http://bulldogsportsblog.blogspot.com/

My Personal Saturday Night Ritual

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Okay I want to share something personal on my blog tonight. I mean what’s the point of having a personal blog if you don’t write personal things.  It’s not a big deal, but I want to share with you a personal ritual that I have. I share this because I wonder if anyone else does this or if they themselves have any personal rituals that no one else knows about or may be unique.

 

 

Here is what I have been doing for a long time now. My ritual is the way I wind down on Saturday nights, not just from the day but kind of from the whole week. I love it when my Sabbaths are full and busy. Often at the end of a very full and busy Sabbath Saturday night will find me with a group somewhere or maybe two or three friends having a quiet dinner at a restaurant. To me that is a very relaxing way to end the day. But then I do something else that I am not sure if anyone else ever does or not. Here goes:

 

 

After I leave my friends at the end of the night and everyone else goes home to bed I go to a convenience store and buy my favorite cherry Soda. I then get in my car, put in my favorite CDs and cruise Tampa Bay, especially Bayshore as I just relax, cruise and think about what a wonderful life I have and what a wonderful week it has been. I relive in my mind the highlights of the week. I think about my friends and the nice things they said and did that week. I think about the answers to prayers and little miracles I saw that week. It could be anything from someone we anointed at church surviving a risky surgery or it could be something simple but just as inspiring, like someone showing up at church after getting upset and saying they would never come back. I may contemplate something I said or did that was rude and then contemplate how forgiving the person was who I said that to, and how quickly they forgot what I did. I will then ask myself to be just as loving and forgiving, and ask God to help me be nicer.

 

 

Any way I just drive around for a few minutes all by myself contemplating what a beautiful place I live in, what good friends I have, and how lucky I am. I love being with friends, but I also really love my time alone with just God and my thoughts. I love reflecting on life and even analyzing it a little bit. Sometimes when I think of getting married I fear that I will not have any time to myself anymore. I think I may be different in the fact that I love both being with friends and being all alone. As a single person I get to be in control of when I am with people and when I am alone.

 

 

I love my Sabbaths. I love them full and busy and with friends. Then at the end of the night I love ending it with just God and me and a nice cruise, relaxing to my favorite drink and CDs as I reflect on the day and previous week. I love driving along the shore. I love driving through the old neighborhoods on Davis Island. I love driving by the old churches we used to meet in over on Nebraska Avenue and Florida Avenue and just wondering what a Sabbath looked like there 50 or so years ago.  Wierd I know. I reflect on all my blessings and thank God for my life and for everyone and everything He has brought into it. Then I go home to bed with warm fuzzies in my heart. Sound like a strange ritual? I have never shared this with anyone before. If you have any personal rituals please share them with me. Sharing is fun.

Is The Sabbath Keeping You Holy?

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Is the Sabbath Keeping you Holy?

Many times we ask ourselves if we are keeping the Sabbath Holy. Or at least I hope we ask that. However, when we look at what the Sabbath really means we see that instead of us just keeping it holy, the real purpose is for it to keep us holy.

“Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it [is] a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that [ye] may know that I [am] the LORD that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13 

We cannot sanctify ourselves or make ourselves holy. Only God can do that. The Sabbath is a sign of rest. We rest our faith in God who alone can sanctify us. Sanctify means to purify and set apart. The Sabbath is a sign that God is purifying us and setting us apart. So Seventh-day Adventism is not so much about a day being holy but more so about a people being holy. The Sabbath could not make itself holy. God made it holy. We cannot make ourselves holy but as we put away our works of the flesh and rest in God He will make us holy.

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 

Jesus makes it plain that man does not serve the Sabbath but the Sabbath serves man. In it we put away our works and rest in God’s grace. We do not make the Sabbath stand apart from all other days as much as it sets us apart from all other people. But how can it set us apart if we observe it like all other days?

For the Sabbath to keep us holy and set us apart we must let it be all that the Bible makes it to be. Satan has many false religions where you worship other gods. The Sabbath sets us apart from the world by not worshiping the gods of this world. Fact is you can keep the other nine commandments and worship the gods of this world. The Sabbath commandment is the only commandment that tells you who God is. “The seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God……For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  You can worship money and have no other god than money and go right down the line and keep all the commandments except the fourth which tells you money is not God and that your Creator is God. So the Sabbath not only sets us apart from the world it also sets God apart from all other gods.

The world has its own Sabbath and holidays and ways of observing them. In order for the Sabbath to purify us and set us apart from the world we must observe it the way the Bible teaches us. Putting away all work. Not even letting other people work for us. Refrain from buying and selling on the Sabbath. Doing good for others and not thinking of ourselves. Exodus 20:8-11 Nehemiah 13:15-18 Isaiah 58. Luke 6:9

Many people think keeping the Sabbath holy is being legalistic but in talking with them I find that the real issue is that they don’t think God calls upon them to do anything that would cause them any inconvenience or cause them to make a sacrifice. God does call upon us to make sacrifices. Luke 9:23 tells us to take up our cross daily to follow Him. Revelation 2:10 tells us to be faithful unto death, not just till it gets inconvenient.

This Sabbath, March 1, at the Tampa First SDA Church we will be exploring how the Bible teaches us to observe the Sabbath so that the Sabbath can keep us Holy. We will see how the Sabbath is not about works but is a sign of God’s amazing grace, a grace that we can rest in and be purified and set apart from the world.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area this Sabbath, March 1 please join us at the Tampa First SDA Church as we explore further “Is the Sabbath Keeping you Holy?”

You can find a Bible Study on the Bible Sabbath which Jesus kept, on my personal website.