For That ONE Person

If you could sacrifice yourself, give every drop of your life’s blood, and every ounce of your flesh in the fire for the sake of saving all your family–would you?

How about for that one member of your family who is rebellious, who has decided to cut all ties with mum and dad, who curses at you when you approach them, and just wants to be on their own doing their own thing–even if it means that they are rushing headlong to an early and violent death? Would you?

If your answer is yes, then you are a better person than most. There’s a bunch of people out there who claim they would, but if I (and you) think about that person who I’m still struggling to forgive because of all the hurt they have caused back in my childhood– sometimes the answer is an uncertain “yes” at best.

The universal family includes all of us here on earth, the angelic beings in heaven, and the other beings we don’t really know about from other worlds God has created. Of the untold billions of members in that family, our little world is but a mere speck. A black speck. A smudge in the perfection of God’s kingdom.

Jesus could have been asked the same question by wonder-filled cherubim who couldn’t understand his choice.

“Are you willing to die for that black speck? By the people who run away from you when you approach them, and who will curse you, torture you, tear you apart, and nail you on a cross? Will you continue to love them knowing they might not love you back?”

We know the answer.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

By his life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen….Through the eternal ages He is linked with us….By love’s self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union….The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted. Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, when he shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, “and he will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” – E. G. White, Desire of Ages “God With Us”

If we are Christians, we follow and do and say what Christ would do and say too.

Would I be willing to seek others? Willing to sacrifice the comfortable habits of my life for the sake of ONE person who needs to be reached?

Or has the miracle of self-sacrificing love not become a reality in my life?

How to Find Treasure

When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight (Jer 15:16)

Shortly after Jack Thomas graduated from college as a Mining Engineer, gold was discovered at Devil’s Head Lake, Montana. So Jack headed West.

Three years later the death of his father left him with $20,000 in cash to which he added another $20,000 collected from relatives and friends. With the $40,000 he headed back to Devil’s Head Lake and staked out his claim on a formation he had been studying and was convinced gave promise.

With machinery bought, a crew hired, he started to drill. But at the end of two years he was worn out . . .  discouraged . . . and broke. All he had left was the battered drilling machinery and an assortment of tools and supplies. Utterly disillusioned and disgusted, he sold the entire outfit to a junk man for $1,500.

But before carting the machinery away the junk man looked over the ground. He had a hunch that Jack’s mining knowledge might have been good . . . but that he might have been a bit short on grit and determination.

So, instead of dismantling the machinery, he decided to do a little drilling on his own.

Thirty days later . . . exactly two feet below where Jack [had] stopped . . . the junk man hit one of the most valuable gold streaks in the region. [1]

“As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the word of God as for hid treasure find truths of the greatest value, which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker.” [2]

* * *

Oftentimes I find that it is all too-easy to miss out on God’s message to me because I don’t focus on what I am reading. I read a Psalm, or a chapter of Proverbs and I consider that as enough, when that is barely scratching the surface of a treasure mine.

Sometimes I am too busy to dwell on what I read, to seek out more information, or to pray about it. I suspect most of us are like that. But how great would it be if we daily devoted an hour just to seek God’s messages for us in the Bible?

– – –

[1] Spangler, W. M.Trigonometry and Graphs, (Scranton: International Textbook Company, 1954) Jacket

[2] White, E. G. Steps to Christ, “A Knowledge of God”

INRI

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. (John 19: 17-20 NKJV)

* * *

IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM

“The superscription written above the cross was arranged by the Lord. Written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, it is a call for all, Jew and Gentile, barbarian and Scythian, bond and free, hopeless, helpless, and perishing, to come. Christ has made of none effect the power fo Satan. He laid hold of the pillars of Satan’s kingdom, and passed through the conflict, destroying him that had the power of death. A way was now opened whereby mercy and truth could meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

–E. G. White, Manuscript 111, 1897

* * *

Even in the most shameful of deaths, God was at work presenting evidence to all the people about the nature of Jesus’ mission on this earth. Even the superscription placed over the cross–meant to make a mockery of Jesus’ claims–proclaimed the truth to all. And so, in the untold agony of the cross and through the sacrament of sorrow, the most precious promises can become a reality for mankind:

Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 85:10 NKJV)

You and I have been set free.

Holiness to the Lord

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9)

We are to remember that God has the ownership of all, and that our pursuits are invested with a sacredness that they did not possess before we enlisted in the army of the Lord. Every action is to be a consecrated action, for it occupies God’s entrusted talent of time.

Holiness unto the Lord is inscribed on all our actions, because our whole being is brought under subjection to God.

–E. G. White (Manuscript 49, 1898)

My first job after graduating from university was at a law firm. It was an experience I’ll never forget, particularly because the nature of the work required that I grow up. I had to step outside of my comfort zone and do things that I had never done before. Serve unlawful detainers? Check. Serve subpoenas and deal with uncooperative receptionists and door men to get it done? Check. Receive all manner of people in the office and call all manner of agencies to get the information I needed (a real challenge for someone as introverted and timid as I was then)? Check.

The legal environment was something I had never experienced before. It’s a fast-paced and demanding line of work. You also encounter in each case so much drama, tragedies, suffering and loss that it seemed to me that one got used to it–nothing was shocking anymore. Maybe only stupid. Oh, they laughed a lot at the stupidity of some of the people who came to us. I think that is why it seemed that the people I worked with seemed to me to be rather cynical.

It was not just that. I’d been a “good” girl all the time, so the environment was rather a shock to me. People swore liberally in their conversations, and as to their–ahem–morals, they didn’t really let them get in the way of doing things that are better not shared here. It was odd to them when I did not laugh at a witty joke full of innuendo, too. In time, however, my boss refrained from saying some types of jokes in my presence because my ears were “virgin” (as he called it), and some coworkers apologized to me whenever the swearing got really bad.

Where did that come from? I wondered. I never preached to them, saying–what you are doing is bad. What you are saying should fill you with shame. Nope. I just did my job–and I did it well, too. And it wasn’t that I was so unapproachable or timid and was living in a silent and isolated little bubble of my own. Nope. After getting the hang of the job I was energetic and friendly with everybody in the office.

* * *

I think that if we are Christians, we must live up to our namesake. Not just in church, or during church activities. Not just among our Christian friends and brethren, but among the people we work and live with. We are instruments, and once committed to God, we are to do God’s work even as we do our everyday labor.

People are not reached by the bullhorn guy who is preaching fire and damnation. People are reached by the Christian friend or the Christian coworker. People like you, and people like me, who live up to their Savior’s name.

Should We Lose Sight of Him…

Devotion: Fidelity. Religious fervor. The state of being ardently dedicated and loyal.

 Is it a characteristic you have? Is it a characteristic I have?

Well, it is hard to admit it to myself—let alone here. But here it is: It’s obvious that I lack devotion in my life—I don’t practice my violin, I’ve gotten shamefully slack on my exercise routine, I’m rather sporadic when it comes to updating my blog. Shame shame.

Why am I bringing this up?

Well, dear reader, I had to return this week to one of the earliest lessons I learned when I began my walk with the Lord. You see, I lost sight of Him. Oh, it was only for a while, maybe a day, but that was enough. A single break in my devotion had me struggling to regain my footing.

* * *

Remember the story of Jesus when he was 12 years old and he went to the temple during Passover with Joseph and Mary? After the festivities, his parents went on their merry way back home assuming Jesus was with the other or with a friend and would join them when they made camp at night.

But Jesus had stayed back in Jerusalem at the temple. “By one day’s neglect [Mary and Joseph] lost the Savior; but it cost them three days of anxious search to find Him. So with us; by idle talk, evilspeaking, or neglect of prayer, we may in one day lose the Savior’s presence, and it may take many days of sorrowful search to find Him, and regain the peace that we have lost….

As we associate together, we may be a blessing to one another. If we are Christ’s, our sweetest thoughts will be of Him. We shall love to talk of Him; and as we speak to one another of His love, our hearts will be softened by divine influences. Beholding the beauty of His character, we shall be ‘changed into the same image from glory to glory’ 2 Corinthians 3:18.” [1]

* * *

While trying to find my way back to him, I thought he had gone away from me. But all the time he was the one by my side reminding me that I was missing out on great blessings that were mine for the taking.

If your devotion is not what it should be, don’t lose heart. Because . . .

You will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul…you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)


[1] E. G. White Desire of Ages “The Passover Visit”

The Promise: While you are Tried

The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee (Isaiah 54:10)

Through all our trials, we have a never-failing Helper. He does not leave us alone to struggle with temptation, to battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. Though now He is hidden from mortal sight, the ear of faith can hear His voice saying, Fear not; I am with you…I have endured your sorrows, experienced your struggles, encountered your temptations. I know your tears; I have also wept. The griefs that lie too deep to be breathed into human ear, I know. Think not that you are desolate and forsaken. Though your pain touch no responsive chord in any heart on earth, look to me and live.

 

–E. G. White, Desire of Ages “The Divine Shepherd”

 

The Power

There is something incredibly romantic about Elijah the Tishbite.

He was the fearless, brazen, wild man of God who, jealous for the honor of His cause, “did not hesitate to obey the divine summons by proclaiming the judgment of God in the form of a national drought, though to obey seemed to invite swift destruction at the hand of a wicked king”[1]. A solitary man, he stirred the fears of the royal house and the hearts of a nation in his appeals to return to God. An audacious man, who dared to taunt the gods in a public showdown on Mount Carmel. A man of prayer who called fire down from heaven and afterwards, and afterwards had no room for pity in his ruthless slaughter of hundreds of false prophets in a move to initiate reform.

This same Elijah, for all that he seems to us as such a legendary character today, was a “man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). So then what was his secret? What did he have that we need in order to work for God on earth in a manner that will be as effective and as stirring?

He was a man of prayer, and his life he had dedicated to the purpose of bringing about reform. But all his deeds were driven by a deep and abiding faith in God. And this is what is needed in the world today. “Faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. Through faith God’s children have ‘subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the strangers.’ (Hebrews 11:33,34) and through faith we are today to reach the heights of God’s purpose for us. Faith is an essential element of prevailing prayer. ‘He that cometh to god must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’ (Heb 11:6)”[2]

As we begin our week, let’s remember that God, the source of power that was available to Elijah, is still ours for the claiming.

Have a blessed week.


[1] E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, Elijah the Tishbite

[2] E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, From Jezreel to Horeb

Gift Wrap

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

I’m going to a birthday party this afternoon. I don’t really like going to parties, but it’s for someone I really love, so I am going to gather my energies on this sunny day and go. I am determined to enjoy myself.

I have just finished preparing a gift. It was rather troublesome when it came to finding the perfect gift and wrapping it up nicely. And once you have the gift, how can you wrap it up nicely and in inside it include your heart and sincere wishes?

Gift giving seems like a fairly straight-forward thing, right. Buy it, wrap it, give it.

Sometimes, it is not as simple as we think. Take for example the following gift-giving traditions from Japan, Brazil, Egypt and Russia:

japanIn Japan, you are expected to bring a gift for your host. However, be prepared to have it politely refused. Insist nicely but firmly, if necessary several times, until they accept it. Oh, and another thing, the recipient of the gift will not open the gift in front of you. It is a very discreet business, and as such will only be opened once everyone goes away.

brazilIn Brazil DO NOT wrap a gift in purple. It is a color associated with death! Also, if you’re going to give flowers, make sure you give an odd number of stalks, because even numbers are reserved for funerary purposes.

egypt In Egypt, double-wrap your presents. The first wrap is a simple paper, not too attractive. The inner paper is the showy, nicer one with bright colors.

russia Finally, in Russia, it is acceptable to give your gifts late. And don’t try to send your gift early either!! Russians consider an early gift a thing of bad luck (figures). And the wrapping? Strangely, even an unwrapped gift with its original store packaging falls within acceptable gift-giving etiquette.

* * *

Funny isn’t it? Sometimes the manner of giving a gift matters so very much, that the gift inside can be overlooked in some instances, and other times the wrapping of the gift is so very deceptive as to the content inside–as I have learned to my chagrin in White Elephant gift exchanges.

Jokes aside, have you noticed how often we humans lose the greater picture of THE gift?

The Lord God of heaven collected all the riches of the universe, and laid them down in order to purchase the pearl of lost humanity. The Father gave all His divine resources into the hands of Christ in order that the richest blessings of heaven might be poured out upon a fallen race. God could not express greater love than He has expressed in giving the Son of His bosom to this world. This gift was given to man to convince him that God had left nothing undone that He could do, that there is nothing held in reserve, but that all heaven has been poured out in one vast gift. E. G. White, Youth’s Instructor

Think of Jesus. The savior of this world came in humble packaging. He didn’t come wrapped in glory and thunder, or in power and might. He came as a defenseless babe, and the wrapping on such marvelous gift was the swaddling cloth Mary put on him. That was how the shepherds met the savior of the world. As time went on, most people overlooked the savior because of the simple wrapping. What I’m trying to say is don’t overlook the greatest gift you have ever received because of the way it was presented to you. The more you look into the gift you received, the more amazing, wonderful and real it will become in your life.

Have a great week.

Sources:
Images by Shaw Nielsen

Polishing the Jewel

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee,…and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23)

 

We are Christ’s jewels. We are to shine brightly for Him, shedding forth the light of His loveliness. The luster of a Christian depends on the polishing they receive. They may choose to be polished or to remain unpolished. But every one who is pronounced worthy of a place in the Lord’s temple must submit to the polishing process. Without it, they can’t reflect more light than a common pebble.

Christ says to man. “You are mine. I have bought you. You are now only a rough stone, but if you will place yourself in my hands, I will polish you, and the luster with which you shall shine will bring honor to My name. No man shall pluck you out of my hand. I will make you My treasure. On my coronation day, you will be a jewel in My crown of rejoicing.”

This polishing process, however, is severe and trying; it hurts human pride.

Christ cuts deep into the experience that man in his self-sufficiency has regarded as complete, and takes away self-uplifting from the character. He cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing wheel, presses it close, that all roughness may be worn away. Then, holding the jewel up to the light the Master sees in it a reflection of Himself, and He pronounces it worthy of a place in His casket.

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee,…and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23)

Blessed be the experience, however severe, that gives new value to the stone, and causes it to shine with living brightness.

 

E. G. White, The Review and Herald, December 19, 1907

 

Unpardonable Sin

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden our hearts as in the rebellion. (Hebrews 3:15)

What is the unpardonable sin? The sin against the Holy Spirit. It consists in willfully attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit.

Sounds rather preposterous, doesn’t it? But it’s very possible for alleged Christians to commit this sin and not know it.

Suppose that in your life you observe the workings of the Holy Spirit. It convicts you of your sin, and shows you the truth. Were there had been darkness in your life there is now light. This is the special work of the Spirit of God, as it is written

And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.(John 16:8,13 ESV)

“The Holy Spirit witnesses in you that the work being done is of God. Afterward, however, you fall under temptation: pride, self-sufficiency, or some other evil trait, controls you; and rejecting all the evidence that you had had before of the convicting power being of divine character, you declare that that which you had before acknowledged to be the power of the Holy Spirit was not real after all [You, in short, deny the evidence which God had shown you, and attribute it to something—anything—else]. You shut out the light which had been shining in your heart leaving you in darkness.”[1] And so you continue in your sin, stifling the still small voice inside you.

Why is this unpardonable? Is it that God is especially appalled at us when we deny his work or ignore his advice? No. God isn’t petty. The problem lies in us.

“It is through the medium of His Spirit that God works upon the human heart; and when men and women willfully reject the Spirit they cut off the channel by which God can communicate with them.”[2] If you reject the Holy Spirit, will you be able to repent of your sin? How is God to continue to work in your life?

 

The Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time

While the life of Jesus and his mission to save us is depicted with vivid clarity in the Bible, a dark story line threads throughout the gospels: the story of a group of people who willfully rejected their savior. The Pharisees and the other religious leaders of the Jewish nation rejected Jesus even after he performed miracle after miracle. Where common uneducated folk acknowledged his divinity, the Jewish leaders could not accept that the savior would come in such humble guise, and that the promised one would find fault with them. They could not accept his claim to divinity, and willfully thrust aside the convicting evidence aside as the work of Satan (Matthew 9:34).

“Jesus, who was touched by human woe, who healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the dumb, who fed the hungry and comforted the sorrowful, was driven from those he had labored to save. He who walked upon the heaving billows, and by a word silenced their angry roaring, who cast out devils that in departing acknowledged Him to be the Son of God, who broke the slumbers of the dead, who held thousands entranced by His words of wisdom, was unable to reach the hearts of those who were blinded by prejudice and hatred, and who stubbornly rejected the light.”[3]

As for us, let us not harden our hearts against the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, but ask day by day for the strength that is needed to resist the enemy. If we do, God—though the Holy Spirit—will work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:3).

 


[1] E.G. White, Counsels for the Church: “Christians to Represent God”

[2] Ibid.

[3] E. G. White, Desire of Ages: “Priestly Plottings”