Glimpses of Our God; The Bible And History

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away a couple years ago at the ripe age of 100. A person with so many years is quite a treasure to have, with so many stories about the old days. However, old stories of days gone by is not what I remember about my grandmother. When I was little I remember playing  the rummy game with her. But as I got older, even up until the end, I would go to see her and ask if she wanted to play a game of rummy like we used to. Every time her answer was, “No, I have learned a new game. Let’s play it instead.” I got tired of having to learn the rules to new games all the time, but every time I turned around she had learned a new game. She loved talking about current events. She was always open to trying new restaurants. While she was a centenarian, she simply did not live in the past. You had to probe her to talk about the past. Oh, she did not mind talking about the olden days once you asked her about them, she was so caught up in the here and now that those things did not come to mind unless you asked. She was not a has been. She was always living in the present.

This is how I picture God when I read this week’s SS lesson key verse, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 God is not a has been either. Sure the Bible is full of rich history which our lesson brings out, but the Bible and God are also very much in the present and future.

When the Israelites entered Canaan they were to take all of the land. However Judges 1 tells us, “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Really? Those chariots of iron were just too much for God huh? I don’t think so. That was no excuse and God knew it. Earlier in Joshua 17:8 God Commanded, “for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” So what was the problem? Zephaniah talking about the church says, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees.” Those who are settled on their lees are riding on their past reputation. They have a lot of accomplishments under their belts and they are content to relax with that and be satisfied with past successes. I imagine this was true of the Israelites when they entered Canaan. They had crossed through the Red Sea and the Jordan River. God had seen them through a lot. Let’s stop now and just rest. Why go further? The iron chariots was just the excuse they used to stop where they were, and become a bunch of has beens, content to rest on past accomplishments. That is not my God! That is not the God of the Bible. God is not a has been. God is not just a historical Figure. He is in the here and now! Instead of sitting in His rocking chair talking about what He did in the past He is planning His next great accomplishment in the future!

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us.- Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 31.

There are many valuable lessons in Bible history to strengthen our faith in a lot of areas. As we learn those lessons, we can relax like the tribe of Judah did in Canaan, and rock back and forth in our old rocker thinking wow that was great, or we can be like my grandmother who even at a hundred years was ready for the next new thing. I have to believe some of the greatest stories of victory and triumph in the Christian era have yet to be written. I don’t believe God wants a church that sits around and talks about the great days gone by when our sanctuary used to be filled and our programs used to be strong. I think God is well capable of driving out the iron chariots and making it so that each new day we can say “We have never tasted success as wonderful as the success God had given us today!”

My grandmother could tell you a lot of wonderful stories about how God  led her in the past, yet she was always excited about the present. Even in the nursing home where she stayed briefly, before coming back to my aunt’s home where she died, she was making new friends that she dearly loved. She never compared her current friends with her friends from years gone by. She was happy where she was and with who she was with. She loved life to the very end. Well it hasn’t ended yet. My grandmother has fallen asleep. She needs her rest, because when she wakes up, she has a big day ahead of her! That’s how my God and my Grandmother are. Always ready for the next big thing!

You may download the SS Lesson Guides to your cell phone or Ipod here.

Glimpses of Our God; The Holiness of God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.     And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.  Genesis 2:1-3

The Sabbath is an illustration on how the Lord makes us Holy. After all, Christianity and even more specifically, Seventh-day Adventism, is not so much about a day being holy as much as it is about a people being holy. The Sabbath did not makes itself holy. This seventh day was totally powerless and helpless. Yet God made the day holy. Likewise we can do nothing to make ourselves holy, yet God can make us holy just as He made the seventh day holy.  Thus, the Sabbath is all about grace. It is a sign that all of God’s work is complete and we can rest without trying to add anything to His work. No wonder Satan wants us to forget the Sabbath. The Sabbath points us to grace, the cross and the creating and re-creating power of God. If the Sabbath was about the law and works, Satan would care less if we kept it or not, as he is smart enough to know we are not saved by the law or works. Satan is at war with the Sabbath, because he knows it points to grace and the cross where we find salvation.

I can imagine what the first Sabbath may have been like.  Adam and Eve did not need a physical rest that first Sabbath. It’s not like they had a long week that week. But I can imagine God taking them through the garden, showing them all the wonderful things He had made, and the works He had done. On that first Sabbath, Adam and Eve realized, “It is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.” Four thousand years later, Jesus cries out on the cross, “It is finished” and completed all the work for our salvation. He rested in the grave on Sabbath. There was nothing mankind could add or needed to add to the works of Jesus. After the cross the Sabbath has double meaning. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves, and it is He who redeemed us and not we ourselves.

The works of Cain in his field could not add to the salvation God Himself worked out, by providing a Lamb. The builders at the Tower of Babel could not add to God’s salvation no matter how hard they worked. Thinking to change times and laws, and thinking to turning a work day into a Sabbath day will never add to salvation either. We cannot make ourselves holy, so how can we think we can make Sunday or any other day holy? Only God can make a day holy and only God can make a people holy. I find it odd that some have accused me of trying to be saved by my works by resting on the Sabbath. How can resting be considered work?

Every Sabbath I stand in awe of God’s works just like I imagine Adam and Eve did on that first Sabbath. I understand God made a day holy that was totally powerless to make itself holy. I understand that it is He who made me and not my own works or effort. I rest my faith in His amazing grace as He also redeemed me by His work on the cross and not by my works.  If God can make a day holy, He can make me holy too.

To study this week’s SS lesson click here.

To download the SS app to your phone click here.

For further study on the weekly Sabbath click here.

Glimpses Of Our God; The Triune God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area where the Bucs play.

Out of all the things I forgot while in school, sometimes I wonder what it was that made me remember the things that I do. I remember sitting in my 7th (or 8th?) grade English class at Tulsa Adventist Academy. The teacher, Miss Childers, asked if the word “crowd” was plural or singular. Since a crowd is a lot of people, I answered “plural”.  Miss Childers told me she understood why I said that, but she went on to explain that while there may be many people in the crowd, it is still just one crowd, and therefore is singular.

That was over thirty years ago, and if I posted all my memories from all my English classes onto Google, it may use up 1KB. So why do I still remember such a mundane conversation that took place over thirty years ago? Maybe because that simple explanation by Miss Childers helps me understand the Trinity. While I go to a football game with over 70,000 people (Okay a Tampa Bay Bucs game with only 56,000 people) we are still just one crowd. That helped me understand how God can be singular while still being three Beings. Just like over 500 members make up one congress, likewise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit make up One Godhead.

Gospel Workers, page 315, tells us that every truth from Genesis to Revelation needs to be presented in the light of the cross and God’s love. So how does the Trinity help us understand the cross and God’s love? 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. At the cross we see that love is putting other people first, when we think of their needs and wants instead of our own. Now I don’t know when it was or how long ago it was, but logic tells me there had to be a time when nothing else existed except God. Now if God had only been one Being, at that point in time, He could not have been love, because love is thinking of others instead of yourself, and if God had only been One Being, He would have had nobody else to think about besides Himself. God has always been love, because even before anything else existed at all, God was three beings, each One always thinking about the needs and wants of the Other.

By the way, the Godhead is the First Family of the universe. They are an example of what our families are to be. One family, with several members, each one always thinking about the needs and how to please the others in the family. Likewise, our families can be love just like the First Family is love.

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