Eden Restored

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As a child on family vacations, I loved standing on the ocean’s shore, imagining what lay on the other side. I would watch the waves roll in from who knows how far away. I would see ships sailing for far-away lands that I could only dream about.

After I grew up and became very busy, I was looking at a picture of the ocean and sighed, realizing that I was much too poor and busy to ever see the ocean again. For a while, I was so busy working two jobs that I never even got to enjoy a sunset. I could not see out of the busy rut I was in. Finally one weekend, while living in North Texas, I sneaked down to Galveston for a weekend to see the ocean. It had literally been decades since I had seen the Gulf or ocean, and, for all I knew, it would be the last time. Little did I know, that the next year, God would be moving me to the Gulf coast of Florida!

I now have thousands of ocean sunset pictures that I thought I would never see again!

Have you ever lost something you thought was gone forever, only to find it again?

One of the most romantic things I ever saw my father do for my mother was when she accidentally dropped a beautiful precious collectible plate that shattered into hundreds of pieces. My mother was crying, she was so heartbroken. Dad swept up the hundreds of pieces and took the dustpan into the garage, but he did not throw them into the waste basket. He placed them on his work bench, and over the next few nights carefully glued all the pieces back together. He did a great job! When my dad presented the plate to her, all put back together again, my mother cried tears of joy!

When Adam sinned he lost his precious home. With bitter regret Adam had traded paradise for tears of sorrow. Instead of leisurely enjoying the fruit of the garden, with sweat he worked the cursed ground for his food. As sad as this story is, it has a happy ending!

In another garden, Jesus, the Second Adam, sweat drops of blood as He clung to the cursed ground. Jesus died on a tree if you will, so Adam could have the tree of life back again! Now that I have access to the ocean again, I treasure every moment I am on the beach. I am glad I have the memory of my dad making my mother so happy when he presented her with the once-shattered plate he made whole. But what really gives me Godbumps is realizing one day we will see this:

Transported with joy, he [Adam] beholds the trees that were once his delight–the very trees whose fruit he himself had gathered in the days of his innocence and joy. He sees the vines that his own hands have trained, the very flowers that he once loved to care for. His mind grasps the reality of the scene; he comprehends that this is indeed Eden restored, more lovely now than when he was banished from it. The Saviour leads him to the tree of life and plucks the glorious fruit and bids him eat. He looks about him and beholds a multitude of his family redeemed, standing in the Paradise of God. Then he casts his glittering crown at the feet of Jesus and, falling upon His breast, embraces the Redeemer. He touches the golden harp, and the vaults of heaven echo the triumphant song, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and lives again!” The family of Adam take up the strain and cast their crowns at the Saviour’s feet as they bow before Him in adoration. -Ellen White, Adventist Home, Page 541

Thanks to Jesus, our Second Adam, all the damage the first Adam caused has been totally undone! Adam’s dream, once shattered, will be handed back to him whole. Eden will be restored more lovely than it even was before!

You may study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here. 

He’s Not My Brother, You’re Not My Father

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You are looking at my favorite Florida sunset picture out of all the ones I have taken. While I love the beauty of Florida I have discovered as I travel around, that Florida is not the only beautiful place in the world. The sunsets on the sea are not the only way God expresses His beauty. He also expresses His beauty on snow capped mountains, lush valleys and meadows as well as majestic forests. God has too much glory and beauty for little Florida to contain, so He must spread it all over the world. It is the same with people. God is just too big and glorious for Him to portray Himself in one type of people. So He expresses His beauty in different types of people all over the world.

The spring of 2003 found me driving from Texas to Tennessee. I stopped for the night in Louisiana. The next morning I stopped at a doughnut shop in Mississippi. As I walked in, all eyes were glued to me, and were staring me down. I checked my zipper. Everything seemed to be okay. I walked up to the counter and smiled at the lady at the cash register, but she only glared back at me. I wiped my face. I must not have rinsed well after shaving. I cheerfully ordered my two chocolate cream filled doughnuts. My cheerful order was not met with a cheerful smile. The lady very curtly gave me my doughnuts, made change and glared at me as I smiled back and said “Thank you!”

As I turned around, I saw all the customers were still glaring at me. I smiled back at them and they only glared back at me. That is when I finally noticed something I hadn’t before. I was the only white person in the store. Everyone else was black. My first reaction to that realization was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! Your attitude towards me is so 1964! It’s 2003 people!” I came within an eyelash of making a grand speech, about how we are all friends back in Texas, but thought better of it. My church in Texas was a multi-cultural church with several different nationalities. (Notice I did not say races and I will tell you later why.) Not only at church, but also where I worked, I had black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends, and everything in between.

Later when I shared my experience with a friend, they reminded me that I was passing through an area where there was still anger over racist crimes. They reminded me about Emmett Till, the young black boy who was killed by some white men for no good reason and the jury let them go! That has created a lot of anger in the black people.

Well I want to share something with you. What happened to Emmett Till has created a lot of anger in me too! You see, I don’t think of Emmett as just black. I think of him as human. I like to think of myself as human as well. People call what happened to him a race crime, that pits blacks against whites. But here is the thing. I am the same race as Emmett Till! While he was black and I am white I am still the same race as him- the human race! What happened to Emmett was a crime against humanity-the same humanity I am a part of. I have just as much right to share the hurt and anger of this terrible crime, because as a human I can identify with him. You see, the Bible only acknowledges one race, the human race. We all have one Father. When Cain killed Abel, it was an attack on the human race and when those men killed poor Emmett, it was an attack on the human race as well- the entire human race, and it broke the heart of the same Father whose heart was broken when Cain killed Abel.

Even though I enjoy beautiful sunsets on the beach here in Florida, I am still concerned about how pollution affects beautiful places all over the world. You see I don’t just belong to Florida. I belong to the world. Emmett Till did not just belong to black people. He belonged to humanity.

When we become narrow-minded, thinking we only belong to people in our own area, color, or even church then we are denying how great and wonderful our God is. Even in the church we debate theology thinking our way of thinking has a corner on the market, forgetting that God is too great to pour all His theology into one simple narrow minded brain. I have said it before and will repeat it now, often our camp of thought is wrong, not by what it teaches, but by what it does not teach. Some people stress justification while others stress sanctification. Fact is you need both. So to get the big picture on theology we must put all our ideas together. I may love my beach sunset pictures, but we need beautiful mountains and valleys in there as well. While I see God’s glory in the sea, many see God’s glory in the desert. My sunset picture is not a complete comprehensive picture of God’s glory and beauty, and my theology is not complete either. When we put all our pictures together we get the big picture.

Luke 15:11-31 shares the story of the prodigal son, and in that story the older brother disowns his younger brother when he calls him “This son of yours”. He would not call him brother. Problem is we all have one Father. That makes us all family. God is the father of struggling sinners. If in my pride I claim the struggling sinner is not my brother, then I have also said God is not my Father! In the end of the story the older brother finds himself outside of his Father’s house, because he refused to accept his brother.

Quaid, an elderly man from Vietnam, whose family disowned him when He became a Seventh-day Adventist, was a member of a church I preach at here in Florida. Sadly, he has passed on. At his funeral, a mother of a struggling teen shared this story with me. Her daughter, we will call Shelby was dealing with some grief in her life and was acting out. She dressed differently and liked to dye her hair bright colors. One day at church people were talking about her and she was very hurt. She started telling everyone she was never coming back, because people were treating her like she was so different. Quaid, in his classic grey suit and tie sat down on a bench outside the church, with 15 year old Shelby, in her strange clothes and hair, and he told her how his family had thought he was strange for being Seventh-day Adventist, but it did not stop him from coming to church. He talked to her about how people thought he was strange because of some of his customs from his native country, but that did not stop him from loving them. This elderly man from Vietnam, sat on a bench with a rebellious 15 year old girl, and talked to her about all the things they had in common! He shared with her how, while being different, they both shared the same problems-rejection. He told her he was not giving up coming to church just because people thought he was different, and told her not to let them keep her from church either! Years later, Shelby attends church occasionally, but according to her mother, she would not be attending at all if it wasn’t for an elderly Vietnamese, traditional Adventist elder who saw himself in a 15 year old American rebellious teenage girl. Shelby attends that church occasionally and has friends from that church that she meets for socials outside of church, but Quaid will always have a special place in her heart.

Friends we share one Father. We are family. While I live in Florida I have an interest in the whole world because the lines between states and countries are only imaginary. I am not just a part of Florida. I am a part of this world. I am not just a Seventh-day Adventist. I am a Christian and therefore I have an interest in my Methodist and Baptist brothers as well. I don’t just belong to white people. I belong to people of every color and nationality because I am a part of the human race. I am a part of God’s great big family. I am not going to let narrow minded thinking force me outside my Father’s house.

You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Glimpses of the Cross Day 21; Victory in Jesus

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a pastor who was changing trains at a train station. While waiting on his train, a man approached him with some religious literature, trying to witness to him about God. The pastor could not help but smell the alcohol on his breath. He asked the man if he was drinking. The man confessed yes. The pastor asked him how he could be sharing Jesus while he was drinking. The man told the pastor, that Jesus overcame so that he did not have to overcome, and that Jesus also died for him so he does not have to die. The pastor responded, “So Jesus overcame do you don’t have to?” “That’s right” the man said. “He did it all for me so I don’t have to.” The pastor asked another question. “So Jesus died so you don’t have to die to self?” The man nodded yes. The pastor then replied, ” Well if Jesus overcame so you don’t have to overcome, and died so you don’t have to die, then He also rose again and went back to heaven so you don’t have to do that either!”

The Good news is Jesus overcame so we can experience victory in our lives too!

 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

Jesus died so that our sinful ways can be crucified with Him.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

Jesus rose again and is in heaven so we can rise from the dead and be in heaven too!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:5-6 NKJV

Jesus’ victory over sin is to be a reality in our lives. Jesus’ death to self is to be a reality in our lives, and Jesus’ victory over the death and the grave is to be a reality in our lives as well!

Because I live, you will live also. John 14:19 NKLJV

To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as if it were of little moment. “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death,” “he shall never taste of death.” To the Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” John 8:51, 52; Colossians 3:4. –Desire of Ages, Page 787 

Reflections on the Sea and Life in General

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sometimes we think something is over when it hasn’t even begun yet.

Texas has some beautiful sunsets. I don’t know why I didn’t get any pictures of them while I was living there. I wasn’t really a photographer back then, and didn’t realize how few pictures I had of my life in Texas until I got ready to move. I wanted pictures to take with me, so my good friend and photographer Danielba, started taking all kinds of pictures of my friends and myself so I could take the memories of Texas with me to Florida.

As a child we often took vacations to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, and also the Pacific and Atlantic. However as an adult I did not have much opportunity for travel. I remember living in North Texas, and seeing a picture book someone had of ships, and thought to myself that I probably won’t ever see any ships again like I did when I was a kid. Finally in the fall of 2003 I had a weekend where I was not scheduled to preach anywhere. I decided that was my chance, to finally see the Gulf of Mexico again, so I drove down to Galveston and spent the weekend. I thought I better take advantage of this opportunity because it had been so long since I had seen the gulf I did not know when and if I would get another chance. In the fall of 2003 I had no clue that the spring of 2004 would find me living in Tampa, Florida just minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and just over a couple hours from the Atlantic Ocean.

The last few years of my life in Texas I worked in the middle of the night to early morning at UPS and then went to my day job, where I got off work just in time to go home to bed and start all over again. Often I would get home from my day job late, and would hurry from my car to my apartment just so I could go to bed and get up at 2 AM to go to work again. As I walked briskly to my apartment I would pass my neighbors sitting on their patios barbecuing, or just enjoying a lemonade (yeah I’m sure that’s what it was) and a sunset. I thought to myself, that I am so busy working all the time I will never get a chance to just relax and see another sunset. I was too caught up in my daily routine to realize it was only temporary.

 After moving to Florida, while I still work hard and long hours for God, He blesses me with moments, when He calls me to relax with Him for a while and enjoy some sunsets, that at one time my overworked and fatigued mind thought I would never see again. 

Here are some of my favorite sunset pictures I have taken over the years here in Florida.

St. Pete Beach 2007

St. Pete Beach 2007

This picture is one of the first I ever took, and hundreds of pictures later, is about my favorite. I like the way the sun and colors reflect off the clouds. I love being on the beach at sunset, as an eerie calm, seems to quiet and still everyone on the beach as they watch the sunset. A timeless feeling creeps over everyone as the same sun that set over the waters six thousand years ago completes another circuit.

Fort Desoto 2010

Fort Desoto 2010

Panama City 2013

Panama City 2013

Key West 2010

Key West 2010

Daytona Beach 2006

Daytona Beach 2006

Daytona Beach is a sunrise picture of course. A few days after buying  my brand new 2007 Hyundai Accent, I woke up one morning at 3AM. As I laid in bed wide awake, it dawned (pun intended) on me that if I left right now I could get to Daytona in time to see the sunrise. So I did. Then I had breakfast at McDonald’s and drove back home and went to work.

Clearwater 2011

Clearwater 2011

Bradenton 2010

Bradenton 2010

St. Pete 2009. My mother's love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.

St. Pete 2009. My mother’s love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.

St. Pete 2009

St. Pete 2009

Tarpon Springs 2010

Tarpon Springs 2010

Bradenton 2010

Bradenton 2010

Near Sky Way Bridge 2012

Near Sky Way Bridge 2012

Fort Desoto 2012

Fort Desoto 2012

Naples 2010

Naples 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

Fort Desoto 2009

Fort Desoto 2009

I bet you’ve seen enough so I will stop there. Thanks for letting me share my pictures and memories with you. I know God has more wonderful memories and scenes of His majestic grandeur to come for both you and I!

So after working so many 16+ hour days, with no time to even pause to watch a sunset, God knew the desires of my heart, and has blessed me with many memorable sunsets. God knows the desires of your heart too and loves you just as much!

Acts of Humanity

Indian Rocks 5

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson talks about acts of inhumanity being sins against God, I would like to write about acts of humanity.

 

Taking a walk in Texas, I came across a beautiful patch of Texas Blue Bonnet flowers and Indian Paint Brushes. Among the flowers I saw some litter. I thought to myself, as ugly as sin has made this world, God still has His beautiful flowers for all to enjoy among the litter.

 

Not long after the New York World Trade Towers were hit by terrorists, New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said, “Evil manifested itself that day, with those who were willing to die if they could just kill someone else. Good was manifested that day by those rescue workers who were willing to die if they could just save someone else.” Crashing the planes into the towers was an act of inhumanity, but the rescue workers running into the disaster area while everyone else was running away were performing acts of humanity. As terrible as that day was, it was a defeat for Satan, as we actually saw more good than evil. We saw a handful of terrorists taking lives, but we saw hundreds of rescue workers saving lives. We saw planes being forced out of the sky and landing in places like Nova Scotia, where the townsfolk took some of these traveling strangers in and boarded and fed them. Acts of humanity were everywhere.

 

Last year I made two trips to Connecticut and Massachusetts, while doing evangelistic meetings. Never having been to New England, I was taken in by the beauty of the area. It seemed so peaceful. I loved visiting the pleasant little villages and old churches. The people were so kind and pleasant to be around. One evening I took the night off from meetings, and visited Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. They were playing my Tampa Bay Rays. Even though I was for the other team, everyone was very polite and helpful – from the people who helped me get on the right subway, to the Japanese  tourists, who sat next to me, asking me Red Sox trivia questions throughout the game, not realizing I was not a Red Sox fan. I surprised myself on how well I could answer their questions. On the train to my hotel, after the game I ran into nothing but the nicest people ever. Even traveling alone, I never felt alone.

 

Imagine my shock and horror when months later a crazed gunman walked into a Connecticut school and started committing one of the ugliest acts of inhumanity ever seen. When I thought of the wonderful people I met there, I could not imagine such a thing happening. Later I heard about something I could imagine. Victoria Soto, a young school teacher, died in the gunfire while unselfishly protecting the children. That was an act of humanity. After recently being in New England I found the gunman’s actions unbelievable for that area, but I found the action of Victoria Soto to be what I would expect from people in the area.

 

Last Monday Satan raised his ugly head again in Boston as people were innocently trying to finish a marathon. An act of inhumanity. But we see videos of people rushing to the aid of those who were hurting. That night I thought of Paul writing in 2 Timothy 4:7 NLT “I have finished the race” – the race of life and he would be receiving his prize at the Second Coming. I don’t think Satan is going to be as happy at the end of that race as he was at the end of the Boston Marathon.

 

A few weeks earlier, I had watched a documentary which left me upset. It was about a child who was abused and killed back in the 1960`s and the trial that brought justice. It was very disturbing, and I think I should have followed the counsel of Philippians 4:8 and skipped the documentary. Like the Boston Marathon bombing, the acts of inhumanity in this documentary were senseless. I was so angry with the evil people that I wanted them to suffer justice! It reminded me of a time many years ago when I was watching Roots, with my grandmother. As a child watching the movie, I was outraged by the cruelty many slave owners practiced towards their slaves. As I was watching, I thought in my ten- year old little mind, “I wish I could bring those slave owners back to life and beat them back to death again! They are so cruel!” I started to tell my grandmother how I felt, when she looked and saw how upset I was. She was upset too, but she said, “It makes you want to bring those poor slaves back to life and be good and nice to them, right?” I agreed with her and didn`t tell her what I was really thinking. My way of thinking, bring the slave owners back and beat them to death, would only continue the inhumanity.

 

My grandmother died decades later, never knowing what an important lesson she taught me that night. She does not even know she rebuked my attitude, when she said, “It makes you want to bring the slaves back to life and be good and nice to them, right?” I was plotting acts of inhumanity while she was plotting acts of humanity.

 

After watching the recent documentary about the child who was abused to death, I was thinking how senseless this crime was and I realized I could not bring that child back to life to demonstrate love. Jesus can and will bring people back to life and treat them with love, but in the meantime I`m thinking of what I can do. I can commit senseless acts of kindness in this child’s name.

 

The next day I found myself having lunch with a friend at one of our favorite restaurants. I saw a family eating together at a nearby table. I told the waitress, “Give me their check.” I did not know the family. They may have had more money than I did. There was no reason or motive for my actions. It may have been totally senseless for me to pay their bill, but that was the point. I decided if some people are going to be senselessly mean, then I am going to be senselessly nice!

 

I learned my lesson watching Roots with my grandmother that night long ago. I don’t want to continue with acts of inhumanity. Count me in with the millions who are committing acts of humanity!

 

God, I don’t want to be another piece of litter. Please make me a Blue Bonnet or an Indian Paint Brush. 

 

Will you join me in committing `senseless` acts of kindness to make this world a little better for some of the people in it?  Perhaps it will catch on.

 

The Sabbath in Light of The Cross

Williams picture

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption—the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.”- Ellen White, Gospel Workers, 315 (1915).

With this passage from Gospel Workers in mind, I have created a supplemental set of Bible study guides, called In Light of The Cross Bible Study Guides. I would like to share with you here, the lesson on the Sabbath. Many people have erroneous ideas about the Sabbath and its relation to salvation. We do not keep the Sabbath because we are saved by works. People have accused me of keeping the Sabbath in order to be saved by my works. I ask them how I can be trusting my works while I am resting?

Even some Seventh-day Adventists look at the third angel’s message in the light of legalism instead of righteousness by faith. Yet God’s messenger writes:

“Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message, in verity.”—Ellen White, The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.

The third angel’s message warns us against trusting in our works to save us. Those who trust their own works, take the mark of the beast so they can conduct business, buy and sell, and thus provide and save themselves by their own works. Instead of trusting in works, those who take the seal of God rest on the Sabbath, showing their faith is in God and not their own works.

Please take a look with me, at the Sabbath in light of the cross.

The Sabbath 

Brief overview: The Seventh-day Saturday is God’s holy Sabbath where we are to rest from all secular work and activity. God sanctified the Sabbath day and made it Holy.  See Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:13, John 14:15, Revelation 14:12

Why it is important to understand the truth about the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is the only commandment that begins with “remember” while it is also the one commandment man has forgotten. While many agnostics believe that God created us and then left us on our own, the Sabbath tells us that our Creator wants to have a relationship with us. The Sabbath also tells us who our God is. You can keep the other nine commandments and worship any god you choose. You can have no other gods before you besides television and not bow to any other god than television and so forth. The Sabbath commandment is the only commandment that tells us who the Lord is. This is why Satan wants us to forget this commandment. He wants us to forget God. He wants to be our god instead! The Sabbath is a sign that we belong to the true God, the one who died for us.

Why it is important to understand the Sabbath in light of the cross:

Satan does not want us to forget the Sabbath because he wants us to forget the law. Satan knows we are not saved by the works of the law but by grace. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work both at creation and the cross that sustain and save us. We rest on the Sabbath showing that we are resting our faith in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ. I can imagine God walking with Adam and Eve through the garden, as He showed them all He had made for them, and the wonders of not their works but His works. Adam and Eve realized that day with God, “it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalms 100:3) Before and after the Cross the Sabbath is a sign that it is God’s work that creates and sustains us.

The Sabbath Commandment reminds us that God is our creator and we refrain from work and worldly activities on the Sabbath day as we rest our faith in God’s power to save and provide for us, instead of our own works and ability to do business and make money.

The same principle is seen in the story of Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4 we read about Abel worshiping the way God had commanded in bringing a lamb as a sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice as the lamb God instructed him to bring pointed to Jesus: the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for our sins. Abel, more than just worshiping as God had instructed was saying he trusted in Jesus to save him and not his own works, he was looking to the Cross. Cain’s sacrifice was refused because he did not worship the way God had instructed, and he brought his own fruit, the work of his own hands. God cannot accept our works and could not accept Cain’s works either. Only the Cross can save us.

Today, many people like Cain, try to be saved by worshiping their own way. Jesus says about them, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Our own works and manmade ways of worship will never save us.

There is a story of a little boy years ago who had built his own wooden sailboat. Tied to a string he set the boat out to sail in a nearby creek and then would use the string to reel it back in. One day the string broke and the little boat fell victim to the rapids and sailed away. Several days later the boy is window shopping downtown when he sees his boat in a toy store window. He goes inside and tells the owner, “That’s my boat in the window.” The owner of the store not sure if he should believe the young lad tells the boy he will have to purchase the boat if he wants it back.

The boy does several chores around the home and neighborhood to get the few dollars the boat costs. He returns to the store and purchases his own boat. Walking home, holding his boat close to his chest he was overheard saying, “little boat you are twice mine. First I made you, and then I bought you.” That is what Jesus is telling us through the Sabbath today. As we rest from our works on the Sabbath and put our faith in Him, He tells us, “You are twice mine. First, at creation I made you, and then at the cross I bought you.”

Further study on the Sabbath:

Which day is the Sabbath?

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: 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. Exodus 20:10, 11

Who was the Sabbath made for?

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Mark 2:27

Whose day is the Sabbath?

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. Mark 2:28

What does God call the Sabbath?

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Isaiah 58:13

When is the Sabbath to be observed?

From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. Leviticus 23:32

What marks the beginning of a day?

And the evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1:5

What did Jesus do on the Sabbath?

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. Luke 4:16

What else should be done on the Sabbath?

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Matthew 12:10-12

What are we to “remember” to do?

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

What are we to refrain from on the Sabbath?

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: 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. Exodus 20:9-11

Why were the Jews carried into captivity?

In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. Nehemiah 13:15-18

What are we to learn from this?

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9-11

What does God want us to be?

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. Isaiah 58:12

How only is this possible?

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Isaiah 58:13

What is God’s promise?

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 58:14

Click here for more Bible Studies on the law, Sabbath, and love and obedience.

Click here to study this week’s Sabbath School lesson about the Sabbath.

Alyssa’s Baptism

This month is a special month at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church as we already have three different baptisms scheduled for February. This morning, was special as Alyssa was our first candidate to be baptized this month. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

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Alyssa, on my left, was one of the first to sign up for my baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. She faithfully completed her baptism workbook, and actively participated by asking thoughtful questions about how to please God with our lives, and she was very satisfied when we found the answers in the Bible.

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Alyssa read a short testimony on why she was being baptized and what it meant to her. She wrote:

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Alyssa baptism

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“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:3-4 NLT

One of the many things we learned in our baptism class, is what baptism means. When you go under the water you stop breathing for a second, since you don’t breathe water. This is symbolic of your  death. You are dying to self, and saying goodbye living life your own way. When you come up out of the water, you take a new breath, symbolizing the new life you are now living for Jesus.

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After church the church family congratulated and welcomed Alyssa to the church family.

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Here is Alyssa with her family. Alyssa was very happy about her Uncle Charlie (Top Center) coming all the way from California for her baptism. Charlie was a member at Tampa First before moving to California, and is very much in love with Jesus, and has encouraged others to make their decisions for Christ as well. In our baptism class, Alyssa was always talking about her Uncle Charlie and how she wanted to be baptized when he could be here. I can tell by the way Alyssa talks about him all the time, he is her hero and a very positive influence in her life. I am so happy when a young person has a real hero and role model to admire and emulate.

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All who follow Jesus will be fishers of men. Alyssa has the same passion for reaching others for Christ that her Uncle Charlie and the rest of her family have. Here she is being presented with her baptism certificate, which includes the fundamental beliefs of the seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life, before you give all of your life to Jesus. Alyssa did not want to wait till she got older and give to Jesus just whatever was left over of her life. She gave all of her life to Jesus because He gave all of His life to her. Jesus has given His life for you too! He loves you! If you are thinking about giving your life to Jesus I would love to talk with you and help you prepare for baptism. If you are on the other side of the world I would still love to hear from you, and help you find a Bible based church on your side of the world. You can reach me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net