Friday, November 24, 2006

He Who Makes The Promise Fulfills It

He Who Makes The Promise Fulfills It

The poem "Footprints in the Sand" was allegedly written in 1963 by Carolyn Joyce Carty.  Many have read and have been inspired by the words of this poem.  Indeed, it brings a vivid picture of how our Christian walk should be.  In the poem, if you recall, a man dreams that he is walking along a beach with Christ.  At one point he looks back and notices that the prints in the sand go along with his life.  He also notices that at some points of his life there are two sets of footprints, and at others there is one set.  As he studies this pattern he discovers that it is at the most trying moments of his life that he sees only one set of footprints.  Disturbed by this discovery he asks Jesus about it, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.  But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"  Then the Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you."  Do we ever doubt that God will not fulfill what He promises to us?  In our human sinful condition it is nothing but natural to do so.  However, as we walk with the Lord, we should be increasingly finding out that He who makes the promise fulfills it.

This means that we do not have to help the Lord to fulfill His promise.  Consider Abram, when he and Sarai doubted the word of the Lord, they decided to take matters in their own hands by following the logic of the law of the land.  Hence, Abram sires Ishmael, and with it our current middle east problems.  It is true, that at first the promise seems to involve Abram only.  In Genesis 12:7 he says to Abram, "Unto thy seed will I give this land."  In Genesis 15:1-4 Abram meets the Lord again confirming what HE had to Abram in Genesis 12.  Let us read in Genesis 15,

Genesis 15: 1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Genesis 15: 2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Genesis 15: 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Genesis 15: 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

The promise again is directed to Abram.  But, was the law of God different in Abram's age than it is in our day.  Were Abram and Sarai ignorant of "thou shall not commit adultery?"  Sister White says of this in Patriarchs and Prophets,

Abraham had accepted without question the promise of a son, but he did not wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and way. A delay was permitted, to test his faith in the power of God; but he failed to endure the trial. Thinking it impossible that a child should be given her in her old age, Sarah suggested, as a plan by which the divine purpose might be fulfilled, that one of her handmaidens should be taken by Abraham as a secondary wife. Polygamy had become so widespread that it had ceased to be regarded as a sin, but it was no less a violation of the law of God, and was fatal to the sacredness and peace of the family relation. Abraham's marriage with Hagar resulted in evil, not only to his own household, but to future generations (Patriarchs and Prophets Page 145).

Perhaps, so that there were no more misunderstandings, the Lord decided to make it clear to Abraham that "…Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed…" (Genesis 17:19).  After this there is no more guess work from the newly called Abraham and Sarah.  They wait for the Lord to fulfill His promise.  What about you?  Are you waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise?  Are you still conjecturing or speculating about what God has promised you?  Are you still guessing, "Is this what God meant?"  Are you still offering God some help?  Let this Abraham and Sarah story be an example to you.  When God makes a promise, He fulfills it in His time and in His way.  When God starts something, He sees it through and finishes it.  Through Isaac, the Lord brought laughter to Abraham and Sarah.  I pray you allow the Lord do the same with you. 

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 17, 2006

Agape: A Love That Is Interested In Others

A ship wrecked in near the coast of an island. Only two men – Harold and Tom - survived. They were able to swim there way to a nearby desolate island. After negotiating what they would do, they decided they would split the island in half and each one would stay in their own half of the island. It was rough for them, so each decided to pray. Immediately, Harold started receiving answers to his prayers. He found food easily, but Tom did not. Harold was able to build a nice hut, Tom could not. Feeling lonely, Harold had prayed for a female companion. Soon, another shipwreck happened, a woman survived and swam to Harold's side of the island. Tom remained alone. Hoping to start a new life with his new companion Harold prayed for a way out of the Island. The next day a wandering boat showed off the coast of the island by Harold's side. Harold and his female companion swam to the boat and they sailed off. Tom was too tired to swim, and Harold offered him no help. As they sailed off, Harold offers thanks to God. Then God responded to Harold, "Why did you leave Tom?" Harold answered, "I do not want to be with Tom, you did not bless him and answered his prayers." God then told Harold, "Actually, I answered all his prayers. He prayed that all your prayers would be answered." Harold's only interest was himself. He only loved himself. Tom however, had interest in others. He loved with agape -God's unconditional love. It is a love that is interested in others.

The story of Abram and Lot is similar. We read in Genesis 13 that Abram and Lot had too many possessions to live together in the land. Not only did they have too many possessions, but also they had too many servants. Tension was mounting. Finally, the tension erupted into a fight (Genesis 13:7). Abram loved his nephew. He did not want any ill feelings between the two. He probably did not want to let his beloved nephew go, but it was evident that they had to part ways (Genesis 13:6). So he told Lot in Genesis 3: 8-9,

Genesis 3: 8 "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
Genesis 3: 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Lot revealed what was in his heart: himself. Abram thought about his nephew's well being. As Paul says in Philippians 2:4, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Lot thought of his own well-being. He chose what seemed to be the best land. We read in Genesis 13: 10 – 11:

10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

The author of the lesson states that Abram showed nobility of character in his dealings with Lot. From the heights of Bethel Lot saw the Jordan Valley, well watered and fertile like the Garden of Eden and the plains of Mesopotamia. Lot chose that which appealed to his sense of immediate gain; little did Lot realize what his choice would cost him. The decision was between "faith" and "sight," and the results demonstrate the wisdom of making the right choice. Abram's close relationship with the Lord and his determination to walk by faith enabled him to look beyond the immediate temporal advantages to eternal gain.

Abram's dealings also showed agape. By letting Lot choose first, Abram showed no ulterior motive. And, although Abram let Lot live with the consequences of his choice, he did not stop caring for his nephew. When Abram found out that those who attacked Sodom took Lot with them, he immediately, " armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. (Genesis 14: 14 – 16).

Many of us in that situation would have probably thought, "As much as it pains me, Lot got what he deserved." Then proceed to do nothing about it, justifying ourselves by thinking, "we should not put ourselves in harms way to rescue Lot." But, agape does not act in this selfish and self-interested manner. God did not spare His own Son (Romans 8:32), but delivered Him for all of us. And, He did so while we were yet His enemies. We read in Romans 5: 5 – 8,

Romans 5: 5 …the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5: 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5: 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
Romans 5: 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The problem is that we are incapable of loving as God loves, unless God sheds His Holy Spirit unto our hearts. Outside of this we will only care for ourselves and those that we like. It is only as we continually choose to let God's indwelling Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts that we will be able to agape. It is by this Godly love that the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:35). It is this love that will make us be willing to die even for those who we believe do not deserve mercy from us. It is this love that will make us able to truly have interest in others. This love is a gift. Will you be willing to accept it?

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Evolution versus Creation

Evolution versus Creation

Many soldiers that served in the Second World War (WW2) carried cameras.  Of course, they took pictures at every opportunity they had.  Perhaps what we can witness now of WW2 came out of the cameras of one of these soldiers. Many of the sad realities of war were printed on the film of who knows how many cameras.  After the war was over, it is said that a General approached some soldiers who were witnessing the bodies and corpses of Holocaust Jews, and allegedly said, "Boys, take pictures of what you see today.  Make sure that in the future no one will forget.  I believe in the future many will deny this ever happened.  Your pictures will speak out against them."  The General was right.  Many revisionists now claim that the Holocaust either never happened or was not as bad as it was reported.  Many claim the photos were fabrications for propaganda.  However, the pictures speak louder than their words.  (Not all revisionism is bad.  Some of it has brought truth to light.)

Years after the flood many doubted the account as truthful.  Sister White says that many of the dwellers of the pain of Shinar "denied the existence of God and attributed the Flood to the operation of natural causes. Others believed in a Supreme Being, and that it was He who had destroyed the antediluvian world…" (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 119).  These "revisionists" joined those who wanted to build the Tower of Babel.  Two of the reasons for building the Tower were, so that the "top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).  Indeed, "The whole undertaking was designed to exalt still further the pride of its projectors and to turn the minds of future generations away from God and lead them into idolatry"  (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 119). 

Our generation is no different.  Perhaps the author of the lesson describes our generation best,

"Science has proposed a geological interpretation that favors long ages, rather than a sudden catastrophe like the Flood, to account for the surface condition of the earth. In other words, things just keep on as they have before; many of the massive canyons and rock formations didn't come, we are told, by some sudden catastrophe but simply were the result of things continuing as they were from the beginning of creation; they're there only from a long uniform progression of events." 

Many disbelieve that anything can be created or "made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3).  The also believe that for creation to be true it must be immediate.  But, they do not believe in immediate creation, so therefore they do not believe in a God that can create things immediately and out of things not previously seen.  They decry the flood as a myth or fable.  Perhaps these are part of the people Peter talks about in 2 Peter 3: 4,

2 Peter 3: 4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

The evolutionists are akin the WW2 revisionists. The revisionists say, "The Holocaust did not happened," and the evolutionists say, "The Flood never happened."  Are you an evolutionist or a creationist?  A creationist believes that the Word of God has power to create.  A creationist believes Jesus is God and that when He spoke "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."  So, Christ was God in the flesh and His words had power to create.  When Christ spoke a miracle it happened, immediately.  When Christ said to anyone "your faith has saved you," this was true immediately.  When Christ said to anyone, "Your Sins are forgiven," it was true immediately.  This is what a Creationist believes. 

Are you a creationist?  Do you believe that the Word of God says to you that "your Sins are forgiven?"   You have read your Bible you are a Christian and a creationist your answer is, "Yes.  The Bible does say that."    Do you believe the Word of God speaks to you?  Again, you are a Christian and a Creationist, you say, "Yes, the Bible speaks to me."  Now, do you believe that if God in His Word tells you right now, "your Sins are forgiven," at this very moment you are forgiven?  Now watch it, you said that the Word of God is life, and when this Word is said it is true immediately.  An evolutionist does not believe the Word of God is true, let alone immediately. 

This is a matter to be considered prayerfully.  Many doubt the Word of God, while claiming to live by it.  Those that do are revisionists and evolutionists.  But, there is hope.  We all have been revisionists and evolutionists.  Consider the helpless and hopeless father of the demon possessed child in Mark 9.  He pleads with Jesus in verse 22, "if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us."  The "if" does not show much belief or faith.  Christ knowing this, answers to the man in verse 23, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."  The father realizing his weakness casts himself upon the mercy of Jesus and cries out to Him in verse 24, "… Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." 

Let this father be an example to all of us when we feel helpless and hopeless or when sorrow and guilt weight us down.  When it is hard to believe and easy to lack faith, let this father's story, help us all remember, that Jesus does not cast us away. That is, however, if we look at Jesus and not ourselves or those around us, if we cast ourselves at the mercy of Jesus, He will receive us as He received this father.  If only we, as this man, confess our weakness and our need, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 03, 2006

Walking with God

Walking with God

Every day hundreds of thousands of individuals leave their homes very early in the morning to rush to their places of employments.  Many drive, and others take public transportation.  Those taking public transportation may have to walk a certain distance from their bus stop, train stop or station to the actual place of employment.  You will see them walking along each other in the same direction and at the same speed.  Some will probably be going to the same office, store, restaurant, etc.  They will arrive at the same time for the same purpose – to work.  However, they were not walking together.  Unless, there was an agreement between the two or more parties that this would be there plan, they are just walking along each other, not together. 

When a visually impaired person walks with someone there is normally an understanding: the one that can see well will lead the other who cannot.  The one leading must be careful to not rush the follower: do not push or pull.  While holding the guide's arm, the blind person walks just a half step behind his guide.  The guide should describe the surroundings, and give instructions so the follower knows what to do beforehand.  For example: "We are stopping," "We are turning right," "There is a step ahead," etc.  The visually impaired person should trust whoever is guiding him.  In fact, the visually impaired person should only listen to and follow his guide, only.  If the visually impaired person lets go of his guides arm, he may get lost and not be close enough to hear his guide's voice. 

The Bible says that Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9).  How could Noah walk with someone He could not see?  This is simple, "We walk by faith and not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7.  In this case, Noah is the blind person who needs the help of the Holy Spirit to guide Him through the spiritual aspect of life because Noah cannot see beyond the physical realm.  In order for this to happen the Holy Spirit leads Noah – not push or rush.  Noah listens to and follows the Holy Spirit.  Noah goes at the same speed and in the same direction of the Spirit, just as any blind person being guided.  Noah is walking just half a step behind the Holy Spirit and holding His arm.   When Noah let go of the Holy Spirit's arm, he got lost, listened to other voices and got drunk (Genesis 9:21).  Thankfully, God in His mercy did not give up on Noah.  He continued to call on Noah and offering His arm so that Noah could follow Him again. 

The Apostle Paul admonishes to walk with God also, because, just as Noah, we are to walk by Faith and not be sight.  Paul says in Romans 10:17,

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We are to be close enough to hear the Word.  The Holy Spirit cannot be any closer to us than He ought to be for He dwell in us.  Paul again says in Romans,

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Romans 8:10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

If we allow the Indwelling Spirit of God dwell in us, then we will walk with God as Noah did.  However, if we reject His loving provision, we will again stumble in the darkness of this world.  Will you admit to your blindness and accept the Spirit's guidance, or will stay in denial and continue to stumble? 

Raul Diaz