A World Without Sacrifice?

I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.

I am writing today from the beautiful Sandusky area on Lake Erie.

Has modern technology removed the need for sacrifice? Now everyone can have their own way. When I was growing up back in the  20th century, my family had one black and white TV. On Monday nights, at our house we had to make compromises.

My dad and me missed the first hour of Monday Night Football so that my mom and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie. Now everyone can record their favorite show while watching another one, or just go watch the TV in their bedroom, so that there is no need for compromise, much less actual sacrifice.

When we went out to eat, someone had to choose where to go. Sometimes we wanted pizza, sometimes Mexican. Well, I always wanted Mexican, but that did not mean I always got it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That is until food courts arrived at the malls. Now everyone can eat at the same food court but still choose their own genre of food, while their friends choose theirs. No one has to compromise or sacrifice. Oh, and I almost forgot about waiting for my sister to get off the phone so I could call my friends! We only had, <gasp!> one phone line. We also had one bathroom for the whole family! Even so, in the thirteen years we lived in that house, I only remember twice having to run to the McDonald’s restroom four blocks away.  One of those times was a Thanksgiving with the house filled with guests.

Today we have our own cell phones. No one has to share. We have multiple bathrooms in our homes so no one has to wait. We have multiple restaurants to choose from at the food court so that everyone gets their own way. We have several TV’s in the home with recording devices so that no one has to compromise, and so that there will never again be an adolescent boy who has never seen a kickoff on Monday night.

So does this make the world a better place? A world without sacrifice? A world where your friends get what they want, but you always get what you want too? It may sound like Utopia. But wait a minute – we are talking about a world without love. That’s right. Love is the principal of putting others first. The law of love tells us in the first four commandments how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put others first. This is what love is, and if we don’t have to put anyone else first, then that means we don’t have to love. What kind of a world is that?

Think about this: Jesus in Gethsemane asks His Father if there was another way to save the world besides the awful sacrifice He was facing.

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”Matthew 26:39 NLT

Now you would think, if mankind has come up with enough technology so that we don’t have to compromise, share or put others first, much less have to sacrifice, that heaven could have come up with a better solution, than for God Himself to have to make a sacrifice! Yet heaven, with all of its infinite wisdom and resources only found one way to save the world. Sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of God’s own son!

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NLT

While we dream of a world without sacrifice, we had better remember that a world without sacrifice would be a world without love. Heaven was filled with love, and heaven itself could provide no other solution for mankind other than sacrifice. Heaven is a place where people have to share, compromise, put others first and at times sacrifice. That is what makes it heaven! That is what makes it a world of love!

For our world to be a world of love, it must include sacrifices. It must include putting others first instead of making sure everyone gets exactly what they want when they want it. God has given us the Sabbath as a systematic way to put God and others first with our time. God has also given us the tithe and offering system so that we can systematically put God and others first with our possessions. Without a systematic way to always put others first, our world would have no way of exercising love.

Even in today’s hi-tech society, the need for sacrifice has not been totally removed. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a kidney from his wife so that he could live. Now here is a way technology has created a way that we can sacrifice to save others! What a beautiful love story: Is there a more beautiful way to say you love someone than to give an organ that you may need later to save your own life? My friend Plessie, gave her kidney and maybe even later her own life to save her husband Jim.

I love the world I live in, not because it is filled with cell phones, DVR’s and a multiple selection of restaurants. Having more than one phone in the house or multiple restrooms in the house does not make this world paradise to me. It’s people like Plessie who make this world worth living in! It’s people like Plessie, who are not afraid of the word “sacrifice,” that make my world paradise on earth!

All the modern technology can’t make this world a paradise or heaven on earth. It can only make us self-centered, which is what caused Lucifer to fall from paradise. I can still remember seeing Jim and Plessie lying in their hospital beds after the transplant. I see the smile on Plessie’s face, satisfied that her sacrifice has saved her husband’s life, and that is when I see heaven on earth.

Jim and his wife Plessie, who knew you can’t have paradise without sacrifice.

You may study this week’s SS Lesson here.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 7

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14

In Ephesisans 5 Paul tells husbands to love their wives even as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church so much He gave His life for it. That is what love is-others first, and on the cross Jesus put others first and sacrificed His own life. In Paul’s time many marriages were pre-arranged. Regardless if there was any passion or butterflies in their stomachs when they looked at their wives, they could love them by simply putting their wife’s interest and welfare above their own.

Did you know you can commit adultery without there even being a third party? If you put your own interest or welfare before your spouse you have just committed adultery by loving someone more than your spouse, when you love yourself more than them by putting your interest and welfare above theirs.

Jesus said,  “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 Did you know you can lust after your own wife and commit adultery with your own wife? How so? Lust is Satan’s lousy counterfeit for love, but it is actually hate.  When we lust after something or someone we are thinking of what they can do for us instead of what we can do for them. In 2 Samuel 13 it says that Amnon lusted after and hated a woman. He lusted after the woman but was putting his feelings above her feelings. There for since love is others first, and Amnon’s lust had him putting himself first, his lust was actually hate. From time to time I have had married couples ask me if it is okay to have sex on the Sabbath. I tell them that if they are doing it please the other person than it is quite appropriate as the Sabbath is a day to think of others and not seek our own pleasure, but if they are doing it for their own pleasure than it is wrong any day of week, as love does not seek its own pleasure. Lust seeks its own pleasure, love seeks for the good of others. See 1 Corinthians 13.

When we trust God’s love, and that He gives us everything we need for our happiness, we will not be lusting after a spouse that is not our own.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 5

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth theeExodus 20:12

Why should we honor our parents? The same reason we love, respect and honor God. Not because He is bigger and stronger than us but because He loved us enough to die for us. This is the same reason we honor our parents. If you were taken to the hospital today and the doctors told your parents you needed a kidney or liver transplant in order to live, you parents only question would be “how soon can you take mine?” Your parents would gladly give their life for you! Even though we may or may not always agree with their decisions they deserve our respect and honor just because they love us.

It breaks my heart to see children talk back and sass their parents, not just because it is rude and disrespectful though that would be reason enough to break my heart, but even more so because I know those parents love their children enough they would die for them. So please, always remember when talking to your parents always be respectful if for no other reason than they love you enough to die for you. And really, that is reason enough.

What Romance Means to Me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may not think that a man who has been single all his life would know about love and romance, but I do. After growing up in the church and over 20 years of ministry I have seen a lot. What I have seen causes me to take love, romantic love more seriously. The media today shows you a shallow love, consisting of  plastic faces, plastic breasts and plastic hearts. I have seen way more than that.

I have stood in the hospital hallway with an 87 year old man, who was crying like a little boy because his wife of 67 years lay sick in the room nearby, close to death. She was his life. They never went anywhere without each other. They washed the dishes together every night because whatever the other was doing, the other wanted to be there. Neither of them ever ran to the post office alone. They went together because they loved being together. I ask myself, am I ready for that kind of love? By the way, the wife did not die. She is still alive, but her husband died a few months ago. She still talks about him all the time.

Marriage is for life. If I fall in love like that, will I one day have to mourn the death of my spouse? Or will she mourn my death? I remember a story about an old man standing at the fresh grave of his wife of many decades. As he stood there, he was overheard saying, “It ended  exactly how I wanted it to. She died first.” Let that sink in. It may not mean what you think. If I fall in love and get married I will not want to lose my wife and hopefully she would not want to lose me. Selfishness would make me want to die first so that I can get out of grieving her death when she goes. A lot of selfless love was behind the old man’s words when he said he was glad she died first so that she would not have to grieve. He grieved instead. That’s love. I believe that’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13.

I have seen a wife taking care of her sick husband day after day year after year. Because of his sickness it has been years since he was capable of doing anything for her. Even when he was well he was not the most faithful. Still she cares for him night and day year after year. Why? Because she made a vow 35 years ago. In her eyes, his lack of integrity on his vow did not loosen her from her vow. She still makes good on that vow every day. Wow! That’s love. That’s romance.

Being single is such a convenient way to be selfish. I am single so I can say that. I am not saying I am selfish, or all single people are selfish. I have heard it said that God gave us the Sabbath and tithing plan to help us systematically overcome selfishness. The Sabbath helps us overcome selfishness with our time, and tithe, the same with our money. Well I believe you can add marriage as another way to systematically overcome selfishness with both time and money.

I see married men and women spending their time and money unselfishly and making sacrifices every day. I may have never married yet, but I know what real love is. I have seen it, not on the silver screen, but in the daily lives of ordinary people.  Well, ordinary people to Hollywood maybe, but they are heroes to me. Heroes not because of a one-time heroic effort, but life long day after day heroes.

I am sorry if this post appears morbid or depressing. I just want people to know how I think. In my ministry I see things others may or may not see. When I think about romance, and believe it or not I do think about it, I don’t think about William and Kate in a fancy carriage. I think about the man who spends his last dime to keep his wife alive from some rare disease. I don’t think about the rich doctor who shows up at ritzy parties with his cute little perfectly proportioned nurse. I think about the man who works two jobs and comes home every night to care for his wife who is recovering from a mastectomy. That’s the world that I live in and see every day. That’s what love and romance means to me.

Acts 4-5; A Warning Against Hypocrisy

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 7

While Ananias and Sapphira practiced hypocrisy by claiming to be more giving than they were, many were sacrificing dearly for the sake of the gospel.

As the disciples proclaimed the truths of the gospel in Jerusalem, God bore witness to their word, and a multitude believed. Many of these early believers were immediately cut off from family and friends by the zealous bigotry of the Jews, and it was necessary to provide them with food and shelter.  {AA 70.1}
     The record declares, “Neither was there any among them that lacked,” and it tells how the need was filled. Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed them to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or their lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet, “and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”  {AA 70.2} 
     This liberality on the part of the believers was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit. The converts to the gospel were “of one heart and of one soul.” One common interest controlled them–the success of the mission entrusted to 
 them; and covetousness had no place in their lives. Their love for their brethren and the cause they had espoused, was greater than their love of money and possessions. Their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of higher value then earthly wealth.  {AA 70.3} 
     Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Money, time, influence–all the gifts they have received from God’s hand, they will value only as a means of advancing the work of the gospel. Thus it was in the early church; and when in the church of today it is seen that by the power of the Spirit the members have taken their affections from the things of the world, and that they are willing to make sacrifices in order that their fellow men may hear the gospel, the truths proclaimed will have a powerful influence upon the hearers. {AA 71.1}

I am currently working on my sixth year as a Bible Worker/Lay Pastor for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

It has been a sacred honor and privilege to serve my Lord, His church, and community. Being in the ministry as a Bible Worker, one thing is certain. Most churches will not support a full time Bible Worker for six years! Maybe a year or two, but not six years and not full time. In Texas I was fortunate to have three churches, sometimes four, support me part time for almost five years. I want to thank my pastor, and the whole Tampa First Church family for willfully putting up with me for six years. I know it has taken a lot of sacrificial giving not just for a while but systematically for six years to put a full time Bible worker into our church and community. I pray that you are as glad to have me as I am to have you. I realize also that my church has not been sacrificing and giving just to see me write this. They have given from the heart because they love Jesus and they love the souls of our community and want to see them saved. When I got real sick last fall I saw that many of you were concerned, not for me alone but for the sake of the gospel in our community. It was a sobering experience for me. Thank you not only for loving and supporting me, but even more so for loving Jesus and the world He died to save!

I would like to dedicate this song, “Thank you”, by Ray Boltz, to my Tampa First Church family and all those who support the gospel work all over the world! Thank You!

John 10; The Good Shepherd

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I love the commentary on John 10 in the Desire of Ages in the chapter, The Divine Shepherd. I especially like this part:

   As an earthly shepherd knows his sheep, so does the divine Shepherd know His flock that are scattered throughout the world. “Ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.” Jesus says, “I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.” “I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.” Ezekiel 34:31; Isaiah 43:1; 49:16

     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.  {DA 479-80}

Luke 7; A Sinful Woman Represents The Remnant Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 7:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 

 7:37       And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 

 7:38       And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment. 

This woman represents the church of Laodicia after it repents. She is the same woman who they wanted to stone for adultery in John 8. Jesus saved her life, but she still realized that the law said that one who commits adultery should be stoned. This woman realized that Jesus was going to die her death. In true repentance for what her sinned has caused the Son of God she comes to anoint him in pouring out the alabaster box of ointment, she is pouring out all she had and is for Jesus, because on the cross, Jesus was going to be pouring all of himself out for her. She has headed the call to be zealous and to repent. Sure she has many sins, but she has turned from them all because she does not want to hurt the God who loves her anymore. In Genesis we read the story of the sons of Israel who represented the remnant church of their time. They had sold  their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Long story short, he becomes ruler in Egypt when his brothers come looking for food. Joseph tests them to see if they are really repentant by attempting to detain the youngest, Benjiman in prison. Reuben, one of the older brothers, tells Joseph not let Benjiman free and he will go to prison instead. He said that their father had already lost one son, and that ifBenjiman does not return, then their father will go to the grave in sorrow. Reuben has shown his repentance, in saying, we have broken our father’s heart before and we are not going to break it again. This is what true repentance is, and this woman’s heart has been broken open because she has broken the heart of God.  

 7:39       Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 

This Pharisee, names Simon, represents Laodicia before it repents. Notice his arrogance in expecting God to see that the woman is a sinner, but does not expect God to also notice, he too is a sinner, a big sinner!

 7:40       And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 

 7:41       There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 

 7:42       And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 

 7:43       Simon answered and said, I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 

I wonder if Simon really got it? Did he see himself as the one who owed only the fifty? If so then he was still in a Laodicia state of mind. Fact is, according to the Desire of Ages, he was the reason this woman had become a prostitute! He is the one who owed five hundred and Mary only owed fifty! Simon is showing how rich he thinks he is in spiritual things, not knowing he is poor, miserable, blind and naked! His sin and hypocrisy lies naked and open before God and man, because he has not repented and asked God to cover his nakedness. He does not realize his true spiritual state, just like unrepentant Laodicia.

 7:44       And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head. 

 7:45       Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 

 7:46       My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 

 7:47       Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. 

Jesus does not call her a tramp, whore or slut. He calls her a woman, a sign of great respect in the Orient. This is the same way he addressed His mother. He points out to Simon that she has great appreciation for her Savior while Simon is showing no appreciation at all. He does not see himself as a sinner therefore he has no need to appreciate a Savior. Laodicia must realize its true condition before it can repent. Yet it will repent! Joseph’s brothers repented and this woman repented, and Laodicia repents too, because there is no 8th church in Revelation. Laodica will repent once it realizes it’s true condition and need of a Savior. It will trade its self-righteousness for Jesus’ real righteousness.

This woman also represents all those who will repent and be saved. This ointment and perfume was powerful stuff! The aroma was made to last for days, as they did not take regular baths in those days. The fact that the whole box was poured out on Jesus tells me it was very potent and lasted for many days. Just a week later Jesus is on the cross. Most everyone is taunting Him and making fun of him. He is tempted to believe that His sacrifice will be futile. However, when he pushes his feet against the cruel spikes, and lifts up his body to gasp for air, he breathed in the aroma from the perfume that was poured out on him just a few days before, and is thus reminded that His sacrifice will not be futile. This woman represents a repentant church that appreciates its Savior!

 7:48       And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 

 7:49       And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 

 7:50       And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. 

Her faith was her appreciation and thankfulness for His great sacrifice. Faith takes place not just in the mind but in the heart. Many will miss heaven by about 18 inches, the distance between the brain and the heart. Laodicia may “know it all” but not appreciate it all. Heaven will be filled with people with muddled minds and theology, but none with bitter hearts. It is not enough for the mind to know that Jesus died. The heart must say “Thank you!” A self righteous Laodician heart will never say “thank you” to Jesus. I pray that Jesus breaks my heart the way this woman’s heart was broken so I can appreciate the great love and sacrifice of Jesus!