Seeking a Kingdom of Materials or Righteousness?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 NKJV

Driving along Bayshore Drive in Tampa, I noticed some huge houses. I wondered what it might be like to have a huge home. Then I asked myself, why would I need a house with 20 rooms that I am not in? I can only be in one room at a time. What difference would it make if there were 19 more empty rooms in my house?

Often people say they are happy to live in a little cottage on earth, knowing up in heaven they have a mansion. Do they really need a mansion in heaven? Is the goal of heaven to live in a mansion? If so, are we not just as materialistic as people who love things here on earth? What difference does it make where our things are? First of all there is nothing wrong in and of itself about having a huge house. Some people buy huge houses, not to show off, but because they have the spiritual gift of hospitality, and so they need a big house to meet the needs of their guests.

My point is simply, that if we are seeking mansions in heaven then we are just as materialistic as those seeking mansions on earth. The only difference is our materials are somewhere else, but they are all still materials just the same. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says to seek more than a material kingdom. He says to seek “His righteousness.” Whether I live in a cottage or mansion, what I really need is the righteousness of God. We are not to be looking for a kingdom of mansions, but a kingdom of righteousness.

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

Does the Sign of Jonah Really Mean Jesus Would be in the Grave Three Days and Nights?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.Matthew 12:40

This text has perplexed many people since Jesus was not in the grave for three nights. Some try to move His crucifixion back to Thursday so they can fit him into the grave for three nights. Remember when William Miller thought the earth was the sanctuary mentioned in the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14? He thought at the end of the 2300 days Jesus would return and cleanse the earth with fire. He had the time right but the place wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the earth is the sanctuary. Likewise in Matthew 12:40, many scholars have the time right but the place wrong. Now maybe we should not be so hard on William Miller for his mistake. Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does it refer to the grave as being the heart of the earth. After all Jesus was not even buried in the earth but placed in a small cave. This verse can also be translated “in the midst of the earth” or in the “middle of the earth.”

When Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” He was not referring to “in earth” as the grave but the midst of the earth where all the people are. If you take the day for a year in Bible prophecy mentioned in Ezekiel 4:6, you have Jesus preaching the gospel for three years in the midst of the earth where all the people are. Therefore, the sign of Jonah has nothing to do with a grave at all. The heart of the earth is not the grave, it is where the population is. When John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world” it is obviously the people that God loved. So the sign that Jesus would be in the heart of the earth, He was referring to His ministry among the people. He was not referring to a grave.

The sign of Jonah is not so much about a time period anyway. We miss what this verse is really saying when we get all wrapped up trying to explain what three days and three nights mean. The point is, the religious leaders were asking Jesus for a sign while sinners had already accepted Him, and the religious leaders refused to believe. In the story of Jonah the men who threw Jonah overboard prayed to God and believed. The wicked inhabitants of Nineveh believed. The only person who kept rejecting God in his life was the prophet Jonah! Everyone else believed. Jesus is simply making a parallel with Jonah’s day and His day. Sinners believe and accept Him but the religious leaders wont. It is just like it was in the story of Jonah. The irony of the story of Jonah was the irony of the Story of Jesus. Those in the most favorable circumstances rejected God’s Light, while those in less than favorable circumstances accepted Him. That is what the sign of Jonah is all about.

How sad that Satan has been able to distract so many people with the “three nights” when that simply has nothing to do with Jesus’ point in this verse. Let’s all take heed, lest we, like Jonah or the Pharisees have a heart of unbelief while those with less light than we have freely accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. You may find answers to other perplexing Bible texts here.

Satan’s Biggest, Fattest Lie Ever!

Tarpon Springs 001

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In the late 1860s in the United States, shortly after the Civil War, which abolished slavery, a former slave owner is loading sacks of vegetables onto his wagon near the town square. Across the street he sees his former slave and yells out to him, “Get over here and load these bags onto my wagon now, boy!”

The former slave, with flashbacks of being beaten and abused for disobeying orders in the past, runs over to the wagon and starts loading the bags.

The former slave master has no power over the slave now. Yet the freed slave has become a slave again, only because he believes a lie. There is no power or authority behind the former master’s threats or commands. Truth is, the slave is free now, if only he will stop believing in lies.

The former slave should not feel stupid. For 1260 years a religious organization manipulated and controlled most all of Europe, only because the ruling monarchs fell for the lies of this organization.

“If you do not give us your offerings you will burn in hell for all eternity.”

Lie!

“If you do not do what we tell you, you will not go to heaven.”

Lie!

Yes, this organization used force and it tortured and burned people at the stake, but it was only possible because the rulers fell for these lies! Fact is, they had no authority, and thanks to the Reformers, the truth set them free even amidst the torture racks and the stakes.

Satan had to lie to Eve because lies are all he has. He can’t force us to do anything. First he suggests that God has said they could not eat from any tree. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1 Even today, Satan always suggests that God is very strict and won’t let us do anything.

“You can’t have any fun” is what Satan likes to suggest. This is a lie.

Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Satan goes on to suggest that they will not really die for  eating the fruit. This is a twofold lie. Not only does his suggestion lead to spiritualism, it also suggests there are no real consequences for disobedience. Yet Satan’s biggest lie was when he told Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…” Genesis 3:5 Here Satan suggests that God is withholding something from them which would enhance their happiness. The lie implies that God does not really care for their welfare, and maybe Satan cares more about them than God does. That is why he is so “kindly” offering them this forbidden fruit.

If you think about it, most all of our sin and disobedience is motivated by this one lie, that God does not really care for us.

When you really believe God loves you, Satan’s lies have no power!

Let’s take a brief look at the Ten Commandments in the light of God’s love.

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Exodus 20:2

Fact is we are free. Just like the former slave who fell for the lies of his former master, we are free unless we believe Satan’s lies.

  1. When we believe God really loves us, we will have no need for any other god. We believe God loved us so much He gave us His only begotten son. No rock star, sports team, girlfriend or boyfriend has ever loved us as much as God does.
  2. When we really believe in God’s love we will worship Him. We don’t need to worship anyone or anything else. We don’t need to worship money or a PHD degree. My sense of significance does not come from worldly accomplishments or honors. I am significant because God loves me!
  3. When we really believe God loves us, we will not be Christians in name only, thus taking His name in vain. We will be true Christians.
  4. When we really believe God loves us, we will rest our faith in God’s love and not try to save ourselves by our own works. I don’t need to work on the Sabbath to put bread on my family’s table. God loves me and my family, and He will not let us go hungry.
  5. When we really believe God loves us we will love those who represent God to us. Once when I was ten I was at my grandmother’s house. While there I back talked to my mother. My grandmother told me never to talk that way to my mother, not because she was bigger than me, or the boss of me, but because she would die for me. My grandmother said, “you don’t talk that way to someone who would die for you.” I honor my parents because they love me. They may not always be right, but they always love me, so they always have my respect.
  6. When we really believe in God’s love we won’t be threatened by other people or feel the desire to eliminate them. Daniel did not need God to kill the lions or even remove them. He just needed God to close their mouths. God loves and protects us just like He did Daniel. There was no reason for Daniel to hate the lions or the men who threw him in the den, when he knew God loved him and protected him.
  7. When we believe in God’s love we will be happy with the family God gave us. Just because God gave my friend a beautiful wife does not mean He loves me any less. If God thought a beautiful wife would truly make me happy He will give me one. “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Psalms 84:11
  8. When we believe in God’s love, we won’t need what is not ours. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Psalms 23:1
  9. When we believe in God’s love we won’t be afraid of the truth. We won’t feel the need to live a lie, when we find that the truth is, God loves us unconditionally, and everyone who is of God loves us unconditionally. We won’t feel the need to be something we are not.
  10. When we believe in God’s love we won’t want what other people have. We will want other people to have what we have which is Jesus! When Paul stood in his chains and prisoner clothes, before King Agrippa, in all his worldly splendor, Paul told him I wish you could be like me, except for these chains. (see Acts 26:29) Paul did not need what the king had. The king needed what Paul had which was Jesus!

During the Dark Ages, a religious leader who claimed to represent God on earth made a German ruler stand out in the cold three days, begging his forgiveness before the religious leader finally forgave him. (See Great Controversy, pp. 57-58) This was a gross misrepresentation of God. In Luke 15:20 we see what God is really like, as represented by the father who runs out to greet the prodigal son, while the son is still far away. This religious leader’s claim to represent God, while making it hard for the German ruler to find forgiveness is the greatest of Satan’s lies during the Dark Ages.

Satan’s biggest lie is not about the immortality of the soul. It is not about the change of the Sabbath to Sunday. Satan’s biggest and deadliest lie is that God does not love you and will not forgive you. This is why the first angel takes the everlasting gospel into all the world, and breaks the spell of this terrible lie. Every lie of Satan is founded upon the foundation of the lie that God does not love you. Once this lie is exposed every other lie of Satan falls, which is seen in the second angel’s message “Babylon is fallen!” All of Satan’s other lies collapse when we realize we are loved.

After the three angels comes a fourth angel in Revelation 18:1. When this angel comes the whole earth is lightened with his glory. It is the light of God’s love. Satan’s lies which have caused the world to experience the Dark Ages, have been removed and the world is lightened with the truth that God is love.

 

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

John 6; Jesus Has a Solution Before We Have a Problem

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 6:5 When Jesus then lifted up [his] eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 

 6:6         And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do

Jesus already had a solution before Philip even knew there was a problem. Jesus was testing Philip to see if He would trust him. Jesus does the same with us. He already has the solutions before we even  see the problem.

“Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.”  {Desire of Ages, p. 330} 

 6:7         Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 

 6:8         One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, 

 6:9         There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 

Good thing there was a young boy there with a small lunch. Good thing Andrew did not tell him he was too young to help and to come back later when he grew up. Jesus could not wait for him to grow up. He needed the boy now. Jesus needs all of our young people today, not later.

 6:10       And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 

 6:11       And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 

 6:12       When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 

 6:13       Therefore they gathered [them] together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 

The young boy who gave all he had did not go hungry that day either. I am sure Jesus could have worked the same miracle with just one loaf of bread, but after hearing about Jesus and His love it wasn’t enough for the boy to give a little. He had to give all! Just like the widow had to give all when she gave her two mites, and the woman who washed Jesus feet with the perfume that cost all she had, when the boy heard of Jesus’ love He had to give all. It’s just a natural response from anyone who understands the gospel and the cross of Christ.