Proverbs in Light of The Cross; God’s Word Proves True Every Time

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Every word of God proves true…Proverbs 30:5 NLT

God’s Word said “if you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will die.” The serpent said, “No way! Look. I ate and not only did I not die but I can even talk now.”  Eve believed in what she heard and saw from the serpent instead of believing God’s Word. Turns out God’s Word was true. She died.

God told us through the prophet Daniel that Europe would never be reunited into a one world empire after Rome fell. In World War 2 Arthur Maxwell’s superiors were so afraid Hitler would take over Europe that they asked him not to publish his article claiming, according to Daniel 2, that there was no way Hitler could win and take over Europe. Maxwell published his article anyways. Good thing he did, because it turned out God’s Word was true. Hitler lost. Europe has never been reunited into a one world empire.

In the wilderness Satan wanted to tempt Jesus and make Him doubt He was the Son of God. After all He probably did not look the best after 40 days of fasting. Jesus said He did not need any signs, like turning stones to bread to prove He was God’s Son. He had already heard God call Him Son at His baptism. Jesus put His faith in God’s Word instead of appearances. Turns out God’s Word is true. Even the centurion knew Jesus was God’s Son.

A boy told a story about dying and going to heaven. The Bible says when you die you remain in your grave, unconscious until Jesus comes and resurrects us. Like Eve, many people put their faith in what they saw and heard instead of God’s Word. The boy later recanted his story. Turns out the Bible is true. Those who die sleep until Jesus comes. 

The moral of my story is, whenever appearances, sight, sound and feeling all contradict God’s Word, God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures will prove true every time. Trust God. Trust His Word above anything you see, feel, or hear.

Spiritualism and the Bible

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A Bible student was excitedly telling me about a movie he saw where someone died and went to heaven and saw his dead loved ones. When I confronted him about the state of the dead, he told me, well maybe they did not actually die. Maybe it was a dream. “But you said he saw his dead loved ones in heaven,” I said. My student suggested it was just a future vision then. He was quite emotional about the movie and told me it had strengthened his faith in God. What could be wrong with that? Several things are wrong, but for now lets just look at one. What if he saw another movie validating evolution? Do we put our faith in movies? Do movies validate or discredit the Word of God? No! If my student had read the Word of God but only believed because a movie said the Bible is true then we have a very serious fundamental problem. We don’t go by appearances. We go by the Bible.

I’m not sure if it was Halloween or not, but Satan dressed up as a serpent. He offered Eve a treat, but it turned out to be a trick. Eve heard the Word of God concerning the fruit from a certain tree,

“If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”  Genesis 2:17 NLT

Well sure that’s what God’s Word said, but now Eve sees this serpent who not only ate the fruit and did not die but can also talk now. Pretty convincing evidence if seeing is believing. It appears that not only can you disobey God and not die, but you actually get special powers and advantages you never had before. If the serpent could talk after disobeying God then what possibilities were there for Eve? Eve decided God’s Word was not true since it did not go along with what she saw and heard.

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. Genesis 3:4 NLT

The serpent appeared to be more credible than God’s Word since the proof was right there in front of her. You can’t disprove something you see and hear right? Wrong! Eve ate the fruit and she is now dead. That serpent Satan used is dead too, and one day Satan himself will die. It may have appeared God’s Word was not true but it was very true!

In Matthew 3 Jesus is baptized and God’s voice is heard from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.” In Matthew 4, after 40 days of fasting, Satan appears to Jesus as an angel of light. He tells Jesus there was an angel who was kicked out of heaven, and insinuates Jesus, in His humanity weakened by fasting sure looks like that fallen angel. “If” Said Satan, “You are the Son of God turn these stones into bread.” Jesus may not have felt like, nor in the wilderness appeared to be the Son of God, but He had heard God’s Word say, “This is my Son.” Jesus did not go by feelings or appearances. He told Satan He would live by God’s Word and God’s Word said “This is my Son.”

John the Baptist was there at the baptism and heard the Word of God too. However, John later found himself in prison, and while he wanted to believe God’s Word he struggled because it did not appear to be true, as he sat there staring at prison walls. He sent a message, asking Jesus if He was the Messiah. Why did he have to do that when He already heard God’s Word say “This is my Son?” John made the same mistake Eve and millions have made. They only believe God’s Word if it goes along with what they see. Eve and John the Baptist would have been kept safe if they would have trusted God’s Word instead of illusions.

During World War two, Arthur Maxwell wrote an article for Signs of the Times Magazine, assuring everyone Hitler would be defeated, as Daniel 2 says there will never be a one world empire in Europe again. His boss saw Hitler raging all over Europe invading one country after another, and told Maxwell to hold off on publishing the article as there was no way of knowing what Hitler might do. it appeared Hitler would indeed take over Europe. While Hitler was raging all over Europe setting up concentration camps and destroying his enemies, Maxwell knew it was impossible for Hitler’s army with all of their Flak Cannons to succeed. How did he know? Seven simple words in Maxwell’s Bible read,

they shall not cleave one to another Daniel 2:43

While Maxwell’s boss was joining Eve and John the Baptist at looking at appearances, Maxwell joined Jesus and trusted God’s Word. Maxwell published his article very confident that Hitler would fail in taking over all of Europe. Spoiler alert! Hitler lost the war. The Bible was right-again.

Jesus has warned us that in the last days that some..

shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

Spiritualism, insinuating that the dead are not really dead but can talk to us will be one of the greatest illusions. During the Religious Awakening, the Fox Sisters appeared to be communicating with the dead in their secret chambers, but Jesus warned in Matthew 24:26 that He would not be there. Even though it may appear that the dead can speak, just as it appeared a serpent can speak, the Scriptures will keep us from being deceived.

Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. Isaiah 8:19-20 NLT

A friend of mine was visiting some friends when their young son went missing. Tragically they found him face down in the pool. As they rushed him to the hospital, the mother was frantically praying to Mary to save her son. Mary could not save her son. She was dead. Sadly the boy died. In times of trouble shall we call upon the dead, or Jesus Who is alive and has conquered the grave? Shouldn’t we have a personal relationship with Jesus instead of dead people?

Saul lost his personal relationship with God and was so desperate he called upon Samuel who was dead. Saul seeks a medium and according to 1 Samuel 28:14“perceives” he is talking to Samuel. When I was 5 years old, I was at the mall with my parents, and went to one store with my dad while my mom went to another store. When my dad and I came out of our store I saw a woman with some bags who I “perceived” to be my mother. I ran up to her and hugged her, but as I looked up, instead of seeing my mother I saw a very surprised stranger. Hopefully she needed a hug that day, but she was not my mom even though I “perceived” her to be. Samuel was not talking to Saul just like the serpent wasn’t really talking to Eve. It was an illusion created by Satan. Further more, why would Saul be seeking comfort from a dead person instead of the living  God and the Scriptures?

 

Saul should have sought counsel from God’s Word instead of an illusion. Today we should seek counsel and courage from the Bible instead of movies based on spiritualism. Movies appearing to prove spiritualism to be true should not be our source of encouragement. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 Paul describes the second coming and resurrection. Then Paul says,

“Encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18

When we lose a loved one, our encouragement does not come from the words, “They’ve gone home to be with the Lord.” Those words are never insinuated in Scripture. Paul did not tell us to encourage each other with those words, or with exciting tales about after death or near death experiences. He described for us how those who are dead and sleeping in Christ will be raised at the resurrection at the second coming and will meet the living in the air to be with Jesus to live forever. He tells us, encourage each other with these words.

You may study this week’s SS lesson and more here.

Jesus Won’t Forget to Pick You up

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A family I had studied with called me late one afternoon, asking me to meet them ASAP at the hospital. Their mother was dying, and they wanted prayer. Now I believe that God can hear your prayers for your sick loved one, just as easily as He can hear an elder’s prayer. Nevertheless, I met the family in ICU. They told me they were praying for a miracle. One son told me they knew God was going to work a miracle for his mother. He explained that God was going to raise her up right now, or He would heal her, like He did Lazarus, by letting her sleep and then waking her up at the resurrection. Either way it would be a miracle.

We admire people who have the faith to heal a loved one, but what about having enough faith to just let them go to sleep? The son had faith in the miracle of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

A few days later his mother fell asleep in Jesus, and his family is encouraging each other with the promises of the greatest miracle yet to come.

There are more Bible prophecies about the Second Coming than any other event. While many prophecies have already been fulfilled, we are certain the prophecies pertaining to the second coming are just as sure.

I understand that while we sleep, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are actually very close to death. Yet each morning when we wake up, we don’t realize the miracle that has just taken place. I understand there are many mysteries about sleep that medical science is still researching. Could it be that sleep is just our “rehearsal” for the resurrection? That God is just getting us used to falling asleep and trusting Him to wake us up when it is time?

I walked into the church lobby after worship service to find a very distraught elderly lady. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and had forgotten who had driven her to church. She was afraid she was going to be left. I put my arm around her and assured her that even though she may have forgotten who had taken her to church, whoever they were, they had not forgotten her. I told her we all loved her and would not leave her alone. She began to cry like a little girl, as she told me “Thank you very much!” Sure enough her ride found her. She had forgotten them, but they remembered her.

This elderly lady felt like a little child left all alone. When we face the grave of a loved one, or even our own, do we feel like a little child left all alone? We needn’t be afraid. Our Ride to heaven will remember us even if in death we forget Him as we sleep. The same God who wakes you up every morning, the same God who remembered to create you and remembered to redeem you on the cross, is the same God responsible for waking you up when He comes again. Don’t worry, even when in death you forget Him, He won’t forget you!

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

Glimpeses of the Cross Day 14; A Tree Makes A Bitter Life Sweet Again

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they [were] bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,  And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I [am] the LORD that healeth thee.  Exodus 15:23-26

Why did God have Moses put a tree in the bitter water? How did a tree make the water sweet? In 1 peter 2:24, Peter refers to the cross as a tree. In a world of hate and bitterness, Jesus died on that tree to save us from a bitter world. Sin has caused suffering and bitterness but Jesus was lifted up on the cross to make our lives sweet again. I and many others believe this is why Moses used a tree to make bitter water sweet again.

If life has made you bitter, I would like to invite you to experience the grace that can make your life sweet again, by visiting the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Glimpses of the Cross Day 7; Crucified, Not Stoned

  I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And [Pilate] saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”   John 19:5-7      

The law the Jews were talking about is found in the verse below, but notice the law states that one who blasphemes (which Jesus did not do but was accused of doing), should be stoned, not crucified.

  “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the LORD], shall be put to death.”  Leviticus 24:16

Notice in the verse below, the Jews were not ignorant of this law.

 “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.”  John 10:30-31    

So why are the the Jews asking for Jesus to be crucified instead of stoned? I believe they have Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in mind.

 “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)” Deuteronomy 21:22-23    

If a man committed a crime worthy of death he could still ask forgiveness and have the hope of the resurrection, but if he was hung on a tree that meant he was accursed of God and it was good-bye to life forever. Remember Jesus was not dying the death of the righteous. The righteous still die that death themselves. He did not save us from that death. He was saving us from, and tasting the death of the wicked. So on the cross Jesus was not just tasting a six hour pain endurance marathon, where everything would be okay come Sunday morning. Thank God he was indeed resurrected, but on the  the cross He had to face the death of the wicked, which meant He was facing going into total oblivion, as though His existence would be blotted from the universe.

“…so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” Obadiah 1:16

This is what Jesus faced for you, so you could experience the acceptance of the Father.

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:6-7  

Glimpse of the Cross Day 6; The God-Abandoned God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring” Psalms 22:1 

Jesus had always called God His Father. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” “I always do those things that please my Father.” “I and my Father are one.” Yet when Jesus was on the cross, being treated as we deserve, He could not call God His Father, and so He cried out “My God,  Why has Thou forsaken me?”

Could this be what made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice? Many  think of the physical torture Jesus endured while on the cross, but many have suffered physically just as much. As a matter of fact, if you asked a cancer victim if they would like another year of chemo or six hours on a cross, they will choose the cross over chemo! What made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice goes a lot deeper than the physical pain. He died a death no one has ever died yet.  John Huss sang hymns of praise while he was burning at the stake. If Huss could sing as he died for his faith, why wasn’t Jesus singing songs as He died? Why was He instead crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Because Jesus died a totally different death than Huss or anyone else has ever died. Huss died knowing he was accepted of the Father, but Jesus suffered God-abandonment for us so we could be saved.

The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. -Desire of Ages, Page 753

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed.  -Desire of Ages, Page 25. 

Discipling the Nations, or Being Discipled by the Nations?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In the Old Testament God wanted to be Israel’s king, but in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 Israel rejected God as their king and said they wanted to have a king like all the other nations have. Centuries later, Pilate asks the Israelites,

Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.  John 19:15

So for centuries God’s own people were basically saying, “Give us any king but God!”  Instead of discipling the nations, they were discipled by the nations.

God’s own people wanted to be like the other nations so much so that they were willing to deny their Savior so they could fit in with the world. Much of their compromise with the world was to avoid being persecuted or even just laughed at. In John 11:50, Caiaphas suggests getting rid of Jesus so that the whole nation does not perish. What He was suggesting was, getting rid of Jesus’ teachings which, if not done away with would bring down the wrath of Rome. What Caiaphas was forgetting was, if they did away with Jesus then the nation had no reason to exist! What is the point of preserving something if it no longer serves a purpose? Why exist just to exist?

Do we find the same mentality in our day? For example–

Let’s water down our teachings lest someone ridicule us. No reason to invite persecution, we can preserve ourselves by making our teachings look as much like all the other churches as possible.

If we do that, we have defeated our entire purpose of existing as a church! After the reformation, during a religious awakening, God did not bring the Seventh-day Adventist Church forth to blend in and look like all the other churches. Think about it. There were already churches, even Sabbath-keeping churches, that looked like all the other churches. Why would God bring forth a church if it would be like what was already there?

Other churches have a gospel that will prepare you to die, and that is all well and good, but God has brought forth the Seventh-day Adventist Church with a sanctuary message and a gospel that will prepare you to never die! See Malachi 3:1-3. Should we be ashamed of this gospel? Should we try to water it down to look like all the other gospels out there?

Even now Rome is extending her hand to the Protestant churches, saying we all understand salvation by grace instead of works. We all get what Luther was saying now, so let’s all come together. However, you cannot say you understand salvation by grace while observing a man-made day of worship, one that man worked out on his own! When you understand salvation by grace, you rest from your works and man-made religion by resting your faith in the Creator on the day that He made holy.

Years ago I met with another Adventist family in my neighborhood for a Neighborhood Youth Bible Study on Sabbath afternoons. One Sabbath our church was having a “revival” with some Christian rock music. Someone from the church invited me and my youth study group to come. I thought, why not? Instead of a Bible study for this week, let’s just show the kids that we also have fun. After the concert, I asked a teenager in my group how they liked the concert. I was hoping they thought it was really cool. Instead, they looked at me disappointed, and said, “I wish we would have just had the Bible study instead.” Their statement hit me like a two-by-four right between the eyes! I realized then, what was being offered they could find anywhere, but we have a special message that is not just found anywhere.

Instead of blending in we need to stand out. In Samuel’s day Israel had a special message that would have saved the world, but instead of discipling the nations they were discipled by the nations. Likewise, we are told by Jesus to go and make disciples of other nations, not become disciples of other nations.  Caiaphas thought the best way to preserve the church of his day was to get rid of Jesus and His gospel.

The Lord directed Ezekiel in giving His message. And I believe it is still valid today:

“You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious!” Ezekiel 2:7 NLT

Today, companies will sometimes change their products to meet consumer demand, but we cannot do that, because the product (the message) is the Lord’s. However, we can learn something else from modern companies. More often they change the packaging of a product to make it more appealing to customers, and that’s what we can and should do in our culture. We need to communicate the same age-old truth in a way that our culture can understand.

I pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to present His unchanging truth in a way that this generation can understand.

You can study this week’s SS lesson here.