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. 

Galatians: Boasting in the Cross

I am writing today from beautiful Collegedale Tennessee, where I am celebrating Christmas with my family. Merry Christmas!

 Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS lesson. For the phone app of the SS lessons click here.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal. 6:14

 

Several years ago, when I first became an Adventist Book Salesman, I was attending an awards banquet for the best sales persons in the south west. I was awe struck by the nice shiny plaques and trophies the winners were receiving for leading the region in sales, hours worked, and other categories. I was so impressed that I decided right then and there that I was going to be number one next year so that I could receive such a reward at the next awards banquet.

 

So the next year I went out and worked from early morning until as late at night as I could. After all, if I couldn’t lead the region in sales, I could at least lead in hours worked by just working all the time. Sure enough by the end of the year I had lead my region in hours worked and in sales! I could not wait to receive that award I had been fantasizing about all year! Only one problem: due to finances there was no awards banquet that year. Nothing for me! No recognition! I was angry and upset. I had been slighted. I felt insulted by my leaders.

 

Soon after that, I was on my way to an appointment to show the Christian books to a family in Grove Oklahoma. As I was driving down an old dirt road, I ran across an old historic church and a very old cemetery next to it. Being the history buff that I am, I decided to take a few minutes and look around. It was interesting! Many of the people had died in the 1800s. I saw many graves for children and little babies. One family had lost four babies over the course of a few years, and I was amazed at the faith of this family as they had a Scripture promise engraved on each grave marker.

 

As I was contemplating the suffering this family must have endured, it dawned on me that many of these people had died at ages a lot younger than I was. Soon I was contemplating the fact that I had outlived many of these people and of course was the only one alive right now. Soon a voice inside my mind started asking me the questions, “Why have you out lived these people and why are you alive right now?” As I pondered the suffering and heartache of the families represented in the cemetery and in the world today, it hit me like a bolt of lightening! I am not alive today to win trophies and awards.  Those trophies cannot heal broken hearts, they cannot forgive sins and they cannot give people hope for tomorrow. Suddenly I realized how selfish and silly I had been. I decided to minister to save People’s souls and give them hope and not to win awards. I then realized the meaning of the words in an old classic hymn, “When my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.”  I realized my trophies were my works, what I had earned. Of course nothing that I had earned, could ever heal a broken heart, forgive a single sin, or save my soul, let alone someone else’s!

 

Finally, the regional director felt sorry for me and sent me a very nice plaque. Several years after that, I was asked to have a vespers service for a church youth group campout. I asked them to have a bonfire going as I gave my talk. I showed the kids my nice shiny plaque and let them admire it as I talked about how hard I had worked for it. Then I told them how that plaque could do nothing to save me or anyone else. I then took the trophy and threw it into the fire. As the trophy melted in the fire and the kids looked at me with shocked expressions, I told them that “My trophies I lay down and now cling to the old rugged cross.” I don’t need the trophy, I need the cross, for it can accomplish so much more for a hurting, dying world!  Now, instead of being motivated by awards and trophies to save  souls, I now am motivated by the cross of Christ. “The love of Christ constrains me.”

 

I told you about my trophy. Now what about yours? Are you holding onto a trophy in your life today? Ask yourself if that trophy can heal a broken heart, or forgive sins, or give people hope. I encourage you to lay down your trophy and join me as we all cling to the old rugged cross.  Never again do I want to live to draw People’s attention to my trophies. I am alive today for one reason and one reason only: to draw people’s attention to the Cross of Christ. Why are you alive today?