Glimpses Of Our God; God As Redeemer

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As a Bible Worker I work on the front lines of the battle between good and evil. Many times I have seen families and individuals appear to be overcome by Satan, and it has brought me to tears on many occasions, but then I pray and then remember the power of my Redeemer.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  1 John 3:8

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,  Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. Luke 22:41-43

The worlds unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close. Satan and his confederacy of evil, the legions of apostasy, watched intently this great crisis in the work of redemption. The powers of good and evil waited to see what answer would come to Christ’s thrice-repeated prayer. Angels had longed to bring relief to the divine sufferer, but this might not be. No way of escape was found for the Son of God. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the sufferer, the heavens opened, a light shone forth amid the stormy darkness of the crisis hour, and the mighty angel who stands in God’s presence, occupying the position from which Satan fell, came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved.Desire of Ages, p. 693

I still remember one night in Texas, when I was alone in my home praying for a family that was slipping away from God. I opened my book Desire of Ages to the passage above in the chapter titled Gethsemane. I still remember the chills that went down my spine as I rejoiced to read those last words, “He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved.” I was so thrilled to read those words! I have never forgotten them. Since then I have clung to those words as over the years I have watched families and individuals triumph over drugs and alcohol, hurt and bitterness, sexual immorality and more. Meanwhile, that family that I was praying and crying for that night? Over the years now the parents have returned to God and are in church every week. The children who seemed so distant from God have grown up. They are in church now and their children are in church.

Sometimes it appears Satan is getting all the victories, but I know: Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.  –Desire of Ages, p.  679 

Sometimes the success of the gospel appears small, but even in my little world over time I have seen tremendous victories. I have seen a lady joyfully singing in church who years before told me bitterly she would never step foot in church again. I have seen families laughing and playing together who a while before seemed divided forever. I have seen enough to know the victories are not small and scarce. Multitudes are being redeemed. Eternally redeemed!

Here is one of many testimonies on why I never give up.

To study this week’s SS lesson online click here. To download the SS lesson guide app. to your cell phone click here.

Glimpses of Grace; Victory in Jesus

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. This is my view of Tampa, from a bench in Ballast Point Park, where I often go to pray at night after a full day of Bible ministry. I love to look out over the city that I am praying for as I pray. I do not only pray for the city. I pray also for myself, that God will give me the skills and opportunity to share His grace amongst great obstacles. When I pray for God’s help in my ministry I am often encouraged by the passages below. Thanks to my friend Adam, who took this picture with his camera, as my camera doesn’t do too well at night.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us Ephesians 3:20

I wanted to share a passage from The Desire of Ages, page 679 that has always brought me hope and encouragement in my ministry.

Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. 

  “These things I have spoken unto you,” He said, “that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame. 

Glimpses of Grace; Closer Than Before We Fell

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  Matthew 1:23

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. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the “Son of man” who shares the throne of the universe. It is the “Son of man” whose name shall be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. The I AM is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” is not ashamed to call us brethren. Hebrews 7:26;  2:11. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love. –Desire of Ages, p. 25

Glimpses of Grace; Oblivian

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, [so] shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.  Obadiah 1:16 

On the cross, Jesus loved you so much, that He faced going into total oblivion to save you. To save the wicked He must die the death of the wicked. He did not die the death that the righteous die, which has a hope of a resurrection, as the righteous still  die that death themselves.  Jesus calls the death with a hope of a resurrection “sleep.” See John 11:11-14. The death with no hope of a resurrection is called “death” indeed. See Hebrews 2:9.  In order for Jesus to save the wicked He must face the death of the wicked. 

When Jesus cried out, “My God My God, Why hast Thou Forsaken me” He was not asking why God had forsaken Him till Sunday morning. If that were the case Jesus would not have felt forsaken. He would have felt secure knowing the Father would resurrect Him on the first day of the week. You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. You forsake them when you leave them forever.  

“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.” {Desire of Ages, p 753} 

There was no sense of self preservation when Jesus went to the cross for you. Tonight, January 6, at 7pm we will be having a special agape feast and communion service, led by Pastor Brad Cassell, to celebrate this agape love at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. I would like to invite you if you are in the area. If not, here you can find a church in your area of the world to celebrate God’s great grace.

Glimpses Of Grace; Forgive Our Enemies

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  {Desire of Ages 25

What I need to remember, is not only did Christ become sin for me, He also became sin for those who have hurt me. Not only was Christ treated the way I deserved to be treated, so that I can be treated the way He deserves to be treated, but He was also treated the way my enemy deserved to be treated, so I can now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.

If the cross is good enough to cover my enemy’s sin, it will also be good enough to cover my sin. If all the terrible things that happened to Jesus on the Christ are not enough to cover my enemy’s sin, then it won’t be enough to cover my sin either.  Forgiving my enemy is not saying what they did was okay. When I forgive my enemy, I am saying that I recognize Jesus’ sacrifice as a suitable payment for sin. When I refuse to forgive my enemy, I am insulting Jesus and telling Him His sacrifice meant nothing to me and is not a valid payment for sin.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area this Friday, January 6, at 7pm, I would like to personally invite you to an agape feast and communion service, at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we will be celebrating God’s agape love.

If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, then please click here to discover God’s agape live near you, anywhere in the world.

Revelation 15; It’s Not A Salvation Issue

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

 

Today, in the church we hear people refer to certain church standards

as not being a “salvation issue”, and they may be right, certain

standards may not directly affect our salvation. However, wouldn’t

it make us a rather selfish lot of people if the only issues and

standards we concern ourselves with are the ones that affect our

personal salvation? Instead of limiting our concern with “salvation

issues” shouldn’t we be more concerned with “glorifying God issues”?

 

When the Children of Israel worshiped the golden calf, God told Moses

He would destroy them right there in the wilderness and create a new

people after Moses’ name. That would have been a great deal for

Moses as these people had caused him nothing but trouble. But Moses

was more concerned about God’s reputation. He told the Lord,

“Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he

bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them

from the face of the earth.” Exodus 32:12 Moses was so concerned about

what the other nations thought of his God that it became much more

than a salvation issue. As a matter of fact Moses said in vs. 32

“Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me,

I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” To Moses,

God’s honor and reputation was more important than his own salvation!

Moses was not worried about “salvation issues” but rather

“glorifying God issues.”

 

Revelation 15 speaks of an entire multitude on the Sea of Glass,

singing the song of “Moses and the Lamb.” What song or experience,

do Moses and the Lamb have that this multitude shares as well? In

Gethsemane, Jesus, the Lamb was willing to die forever if that’s what

it took to do His Father’s will. “. The Saviour could not see

through the portals of the tomb.” (Desire of Ages p.753) For Jesus,

just like Moses, His concern was glorifying God over His own

salvation. In Revelation 15, John speaks of an entire multitude of people who see

beyond their own “salvation issues” and focus on “glorifying God

issues” when it comes to standards and commandment keeping. Our

obedience and standards are not so much about our salvation, as they

are about honoring and loving Jesus.

Revelation 3; Why Are We Lukewarm?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.     Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  Revelation 3:14-21

This is the last of the seven churches, and represents the last church of the Christian era. In every letter to every church, Jesus asks them to overcome, but in His letter to His last day church, He asks them to overcome, “even as also I overcame.” He is asking His last day church to do something beyond what He has ever asked any church to do before. He is asking them to perfectly reflect His character to a world dying for the hope only He can bring. This can only be done by casting away our so called righteousness for His true righteousness. That is what makes us so lukewarm, we are trying to be like God while still trying to be filled with self. We buy God’s gold and white raiment, by trading in our pride and self-righteousness.

We see in this letter, that there is hope! While Jesus does not paint a pretty picture of our condition, He implies that through His grace He expects to see us overcome! I remember when working at UPS once as a part time supervisor, my full time supervisor was rebuking me for a mistake I made. He seemed to be a little rough on me, but he ended the conversation by saying, “When you become a full time supervisor you will understand what I am talking about.” So while my boss did not paint a pretty picture of my current situation, he also implied he expected me to perform better and get promoted! If we study this letter to Laodicea carefully, we can see all the things Jesus can do for  and through us once we put self away.

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.  {Desire of Ages, p. 311}