Luke 19; Jesus Does Not Overlook Anybody!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 19:2 And, behold, [there was] a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 

 19:3    And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 

 19:4    And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that [way]. 

 19:5    And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 

 19:6    And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 

 19:7    And when they saw [it], they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 

 19:8    And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore [him] fourfold. 

 19:9    And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 

 19:10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

What I love about this story is how it reminds us that Jesus does not overlook anyone, no matter how small, no matter how sinful. Contemplate for a moment the perception of Jesus. He saw the widow secretly putting in her two mites. He saw Nathaniel simply praying under a tree. In a huge crowd he felt a woman brush his shoulder. He saw Zacchaeus hiding in a tree.

  Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep. 

     Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, “Follow Me,” and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care. He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.  {Desire of Ages, p. 480}

Health and Healing, Part 2

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we contemplate this week’s SS lesson on the power of  choice we also find something that Christ accomplished for everyone, believer and non-believer alike on the cross.

David says of God in Psalms 145:16, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Really? God satisfies the desire of every living thing? Even those who do not love or serve Him?  Yes! How so? Hebrews 2:14-15 says “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” When we submitted to the devil he then took away our power of choice and made us subject to bondage. On the cross Christ freed the entire world from Satan’s bondage and gave us all our freedom of choice back. You see, I can go into a convenience store and buy a bottle of water or soda or beer. I can buy whatever I want. But the alcoholic has no choice. He has to buy the beer. He has chosen to remain in bondage.

Consider this passage from Steps to Christ page 47: “Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.  Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.”

The drunkard may want to be alcohol free, but has he chosen to be free? I can go to a restaurant and see a lot of things on the menu that I want but the waiter will only bring me what I choose. Several years ago I was living in the Dallas area when Michael Jordan was supposedly retiring and making his last appearance with the Bulls against the Dallas Mavericks. I wanted to go see him before he retired. The radio announced when tickets would go on sale and I told myself I wanted to get the tickets when they went on sale. That time came and went and the game sold out and I did not get a ticket. I got mad at myself for forgetting to get the tickets. Then I realized if I had really wanted to see Jordan I would not have forgotten when the tickets would be on sale. While thinking I wanted the tickets I never chose to go get the tickets. That is the difference between wanting and choosing, and the power of the will and choice.

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.—Steps to Christ, P. 17

If it is not an arbitrary decree then that means both parties must have chosen that solution. Through brainwashing, addictions, etc. Satan has worked to take man’s choice away. In destroying the works of the devil God has not forced man to be saved, but He has given every living creature the choice to have what they desire.

 You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

The Divinity and Humanity of Christ

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here is the study for Tuesday’s Group Bible Study. At the request of one of our students we are exploring the humanity and divinity of Christ. Many find I a mystery how Jesus could be 100% man and 100% God all at the same time. The math seems a little fuzzy there. A country gospel song I heard a while back explains it best I think. In the song Jesus in the temple visiting the teachers, who ask Him how old He is. In the song he answers, “On my mother’s side I am 12 years old. On my Father’s side I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

 

 

The Human Nature of Jesus

 

John 1:1-3, 14 —————————- Did Jesus really become flesh?

Hebrews 2:14-17 ——————————— Who was He made like?

Romans 1:1-3 —————— Who was one of His earthly ancestors?

Romans 8:3, 4 ——– What type of flesh did He take upon Himself?

1 John 4:3 ——————— What does the spirit of antichrist deny?

NOTE: The word flesh here always refers to fallen flesh. Never once

is it used in reference to unfallen, sinless flesh.

Philippians 2:5-7 ————- Who was Jesus made in the likeness of?

NOTE: The phrase “made Himself of no reputation” means literally

“emptied Himself.” When He became man, He emptied Himself of

His Godly powers to meet the Devil on the same ground we must meet

him on. These three powers were His omniscience (all knowing),

omnipotence (all powerful), and omnipresence (all present).

Mark 13:32 – Did Jesus still know all things while in His human form?

John 5:19, 30 ——— How only was He able to do the things He did?

John 8:28 ——————- How much was He able to do on His own?

Matthew 26:39, 42 – To Whom did He always keep His will submitted?

Revelation 3:21 ——————————– How are we to overcome?

James 4:7 ——————————– What are we called upon to do?

Here is a parting thought: On the cross Christ was completely man and completely God. While everyone was mocking and crucifying Him one man turned to Him and repented. Christ then used his divine right to forgive sin. He never used His divinity to save Himself, only to save others. He gave up all divine rights on the cross, save the right to forgive sinners.

Please click here for a Desire of Ages study on the divinity and humanity of Christ.

You may find more studies and devotionals at http://www.InLightOfTheCross.com

Keep Your Own Score

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Here I am putting for my par after barely missing a birdie shot.

Keep Your Own Score

 

Golf is a gentleman’s game and as I continually learn the game of golf I continually learn to become more of a gentleman. Golf will test your etiquette skills as much as your athletic skills. In football the opposing team’s crowd will make as much noise as possible to distract the other team’s offense. In golf you must be quiet and considerate of your opponent when he is swinging. In baseball a pitcher will throw at a batter’s head. In golf you must yell “fore!”* if your ball is sailing close to someone else. In football you cheer when the opposing kicker misses a field goal. In golf you keep a straight face or give a sympathetic word when your opponent misses a putt. The list goes on. Golf is a game that will test your manners as well as your skills.

 

I have learned something important this year about golf and about life. I love to keep score. I love to win but more than just wanting to win I am a statistics freak. I have to know all the numbers and I have to know what the score is. As a matter of fact I have logged into my computer every game I have played this year, where I have played it and what the scores were.

 

However I have learned that some do not like to keep score. A while back I was golfing with my older friend Ron who has been teaching me how to golf but more importantly has been teaching me how to be a better gentleman. The two of us set out to start the first hole when a man golfing alone came up behind us. Being the gentlemen that we are we invited him to join us which he did. After each hole I would ask him what his score was so I could write it down with ours. After a couple holes Ron told me not to ask his score. If he wanted me to know he would tell me. The fact that I had to keep asking was a sign he really did not want to give it. I should have known that.

 

Since then I have run into other people who don’t like to keep score. As a statistics freak I have a hard time dealing with that. But here is what I have learned. It should not matter what the other people’s scores are. There is a par for the course which is the standard for the course. Instead of comparing myself to others I should just focus on reaching the standard. I should be matching my performance against the standard and not against my fellow man. Once again the game of golf has taught me something no other sport will. I once saw a t-shirt on a teenager that read, “Inspiration is not when you outdo your opponent. It is when you outdo yourself.” How true!

 

In life Jesus does not inspire us to compare ourselves to others or be like them. Christ inspires us to compare ourselves to Him and become like Him. He is the par for the course and we will never make par while comparing ourselves to anyone else but the Standard Himself. It does not matter what anyone else’s score is in golf or in life. There is a standard to be reached.

 

Like a wise sea captain once said years ago, “we must set our course by the stars and not by every passing ship.”

 

* When someone yells “fore!” most people look around to see where the ball is coming from. The correct response is to quickly cover your head with your arms.

 

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

The Two Mysteries of the Sanctuary Revealed

 

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

 

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson says, “Think about the fact that Lucifer was a “perfect” being and yet iniquity was found in him.” This is a mind boggling thought. How could someone so perfect become so sinful? This is the mystery of iniquity, and here is what Ellen White has to say in the book Great Controversy p. 493, “Sin is an intruder, for whose presence no reason can be given. It is mysterious, unaccountable; to excuse it, is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.”

 

This brings up the two mysteries in the Great Controversy between God and Satan. The first is the mystery of iniquity. How could someone so perfect become so sinful? Is it God’s fault for making us with a free will or is Lucifer to blame?

 

The question is answered and the controversy is settled with another mystery. The cleansing of the sanctuary will place the blame for sin upon Satan and will also present a mystery of its own. Speaking of the sanctuary service in Revelation 10, verse seven tells us “the mystery of God should be finished” The mystery of God is the exact opposite of the mystery of iniquity. First lets see what the mystery of God is. Colossians 1:27-28 reads, “To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” So while the mystery of iniquity asks, how could someone so perfect become so sinful, the mystery of Godliness will counteract that by taking a sinful people and making them perfect in Christ. Revelation 7 tells us about people from every tribe and walk of life, who will be sealed with the Character of God before Christ returns. Sound impossible? Remember that sin seemed as impossible in heaven as perfection seems here on earth. Both are mysteries.

 

As we continue to explore the atonement this quarter the sanctuary will reveal to us the true character of God and the true character of Satan. The lies will all be washed away. Satan’s only power over Eve was his power to lie. Without lies Satan is totally powerless. He has no power. All he has are lies. The cleansing of the sanctuary will wash away all of Satan’s lies leaving him powerless. With a lie Satan gained control of Eve and the human race. The truth found in the sanctuary will free us from those lies and from Satan’s control and thus will begin the mystery of Godliness, and a race of people from all different backgrounds being sealed with God’s character. All the blame for sin, suffering, and rebellion will be placed on Satan; the scapegoat. No one will blame God for the sin problem anymore and we will be reconciled to Him. Thus the mystery of godliness will overtake the mystery of iniquity.

 

Someone asked me just this week, “If Satan who was so perfect became so sinful, how do I know I will not sin in heaven?” The answer has nothing to do with our natures. Satan sinned with a perfect nature. Jesus perfectly obeyed in a human nature. Jesus obeyed because He knew something we did not, the truth about Satan’s lies. The cleansing of the sanctuary washes away Satan’s lies thus cleansing us from all unrighteousness both now and forever!

 

check out the Bible Studies at In Light of the Cross.