Glimpses Of Grace; Controversy Between Good And Evil

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.  Exodus 25:8

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God…  Isaiah 59:2

I have often heard that the Great Controversy between God and Satan is about whether we can keep God’s law, and that God is wanting to produce a people who perfectly obey His law before He comes.  However, in my own personal study of God’s Word, and the Spirit of Prophecy, while I find promises galore about God’s promises help us obey His law, I do not find that is what the Great Controversy is all about. What I find, is that the Great Controversy, or the Conflict of the Ages, is about whether or not God is love. As a matter of fact, if you have ever read the 5 volume Conflict of the Ages, Series from the Spirit of Prophecy, have you noticed that the first line of the first book is “God is love”, and that the very last line of the last book is “God is Love” ? That is what the conflict is all about!

Many are familiar with this passage from Christ Object Lessons page 69. , “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  While nothing changes about the truth of that statement, I believe we need to change how we apply that truth. Have you ever heard the phrase, “trophy bride?” That is when a man who wants to impress his peers, shows up at a party with his beautiful, perfectly proportioned, flawless complexioned wife, to show off for all to see. There may be no depth to their relationship but he likes to show her off to everyone.

Friends, I don’t believe God is looking for a trophy bride. I don’t believe He wants a perfect church to show off to the universe. I believe He wants a deep and meaningful relationship with His bride, the church. By God’s grace we can live victorious overcoming lives, but that is not what it is all about. God wants to remove sin, not so that He can show us off as some sort of trophy bride, but so that He can restore His relationship and dwell right inside us. While God dwelling right inside us will solve the sin problem, more importantly to Christ it restores the relationship. Meanwhile, with the relationship restored, the perfection of love is seen between God and His church, thus letting the world see that God is love, so they too can make an intelligent decision to have or not to have a relationship with God.

Jesus didn’t die for a trophy bride. He died to show us He really loves us and  is dying to restore our relationship with Him.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, please come to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where you can meet and fall in love with God!

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Acts 16-20; Get your Own Relationship

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This morning, as I reading through Acts 16-20, I first noticed a trend, confirming that we each need to have our own relationship with Christ. In chapter 17 verse 11, it reads, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  I find so much in this one verse. 1. They did not take Pau’s word for anything, but checked out what the Scriptures said. 2. They did not casually read. They searched. 3. They did this every day. They were developing their own relationship with God.

Later, in chapter 19 verses 13-17 I read, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.  And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

These vagabond Jews, were not sincere. They were trying to use the power of God for magic, to make money for themselves. This is something I feel a lot of Christians even have trouble understanding. The power of God is not magic. It is not mystical. Magic requires no relationship, or connection. It is quite legalistic actually. All the wonderful and even miraculous things accomplished by Christ and His followers were done, not through magic, but through a relationship and process. The first clue that these vagabond Jews had no relationship with Jesus is seen in the fact that they mention Paul’s name right along with Jesus. They had no connection to Jesus themselves, so they mention the name of someone who did. That did not work. They needed their own relationship with Jesus. If they had known Jesus for themselves, they would have had no need to mention Paul. So today, when sharing Jesus, if we have a real relationship with Him, we need not mention what others know about Him, or what He has done for other people. We need only mention what great things He has done for us personally. Our relationship with Him should stand on its own merit.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 4

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS Lesson.

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3

 

Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.  Psalms 37:37

Real peace does not come from being right with the world. It comes from being right with God. Peace of mind is not knowing that you have money in the bank. It is knowing no matter what, God will take care of all your needs. Peace is not knowing that you will live through the storm. Peace is knowing even if you die in the storm, God has promised you eternal life. Peace is Ellen Harmon, an 18 year old girl explaining why she was not terrified during a storm at sea when she said, “If my work for God is over I might as well rest at the bottom of this sea as anywhere else, but if my work is not over, not all the water in all the sea will be able to drown me.” (Life Sketches, p. 240) Peace is Marion Fisher, a 13 year old Amish girl telling a deranged gunman “shoot me first” so that help would arrive in time for the other victims. Peace is an elderly man I was studying with this summer who laid on his deathbed with a smile on his face saying “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” Peace is my 100 year old grandmother’s last words to my mother, “I will see you in heaven.” Peace is Jesus sleeping in a boat during a storm at sea. (Matthew 8:25)

Peace is not the absence of the storm, it is the absence of the fear of the storm. Peace is not the absence of death, it the absence of the fear of death. Peace is not the absence of worldly turmoil, it is the presence of God in the turmoil. Peace is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is one of my favorite quotes on peace from the Spirit of Prophecy:

  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27. 

     Before our Lord went to His agony on the cross He made His will. He had no silver or gold or houses to leave His disciples. He was a poor man, as far as earthly possessions were concerned. Few in Jerusalem were so poor as He. But He left His disciples a richer gift than any earthly monarch could bestow on his subjects. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” He said. . . . He left them the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution, and which was to be with Him during His agony in Gethsemane and on the cruel cross. 

     The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace. . . . No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.” 

     Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).   It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart.

     When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. . . . The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around.  {Heavenly Places, p. 249} 

You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.