Friday, December 28, 2007

The Most Important Choice

According to the Bible the decision to save man was done long before we ever existed. Three passages come to mind on this topic: Ephesians 1:3,4; 2 Timothy 1:8,9; Titus 1:2. Let us read all three verses.

Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Ephesians 1: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

2 Timothy 1: 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
2 Timothy 1: 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

These verses all say that the plan of salvation was in existence before the world began. In other words, before this planet existed as man’s home, Christ made a choice that He would die for anyone who would sin. Knowing how God works all the particulars of the plan had been designed and decided long before. It was a contingency plan that was put in effect once man sinned. Christ would come as a baby in the likeness of Sinful flesh. Not only would He have to suffer Satan’s persecution and punishment, Christ also had to endure God’s wrath against Sin. The wages of Sin is eternal death, which meant eternal separation from God; hence the prayer, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

Being that God is omniscient, Christ knew what He was getting into. However, in Gethsemane, we find Christ as if trying to find a way out. It is as if the sacrifice was unbearable. Mark describes it in these words,

Mark 14: 33And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
Mark 14: 34And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
Mark 14: 35And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
Mark 14: 36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Christ, in fact, prayed this three times. The Father seemed to be silent. It seems that although He made the decision to die for fallen man as God, now he had to make it as a man, because to save man he had to endure the wrath of God against transgression as a man (Desire of Ages p. 686). Sister White adds later in the same chapter

Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world's Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: "If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Desire of Ages p. 692-3

This should not discourage us. Christ, as a man, made the choice to finish the work. Christ successfully and effectively paid the penalty for Sin. Also, no one can say Christ cannot sympathize with suffering and feeling tempted. This makes Him a better High Priest, intercessor and helper.

What kind of a high priest was Jesus? One who was made like the ones he intercedes for, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was One which was tempted in all things as we are, yet never Sinned. He was One who suffered as we suffer - and perhaps even more. Because of this, He can make reconciliation for the Sins of people and is able to succor those who are also tempted. Because of this He can sympathize with us, save us to the uttermost when we come to Him, and live to make intercession for us (Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:15; 7:25).

Christ made His choice; because of this we are able to make our choice. The choice is very simple; accept His work of intercession and help for you or reject it. I pray that you make the right choice.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Meekness Is A Sign Of Godliness

If there is one thing we are invaded with in the USA is advertising and marketing. It is the preferred way of companies and businesses letting you know they exist. They want to let you know that their products and services are available to you. Anywhere you look and anywhere you listen someone is promoting themselves and what they offer. TV, printed and radio ads dominate the time and space of your favorite shows or publications. Ads are all over the internet. Billboards dominate the sky scene of our streets, roads and express ways.

As if this were not enough, much of the advertising is not so much about, “I am here,” but about, “I am the best.” Since companies and businesses compete for market share, they often advertise about how they are better than their competition and why. There is a lot of bragging and self-exaltation in advertising. Phrases such as - “We are the leading…,” “We are the first…,” “We are the fastest…” and “We are the biggest…” – are very common. Have we not heard these phrases elsewhere? If we stop to think about it these are the same phrases are commonly used by people like you and I. Companies and Businesses reflect the same identity of those who run them. When the people running these entities are proud, conceited and arrogant so are the entities they run. These attributes, however, are a lot more common than we think. Even people who do not run businesses use them to describe themselves. And, those who listen often cheer them on. “Flaunt it if you have it,” and “Toot your own horn” is what you hear them say. It is the nature of unconverted man.

But, pride, conceit and arrogance are the opposite of meekness. No wonder sinful men hate it. Men and women who are meek are considered weak, mocked, misjudged and misrepresented. True meekness stands against the principles of this world. True meekness is a gift given by the Holy Spirit to those who allow Him to dwell in them. As opposed to those who reject the Holy Spirit who are following their master, who said,

Isaiah 14: 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isaiah 14: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

In contrast, Christ calls Himself meek Matthew 11:29 and says that He favors the meek (Matthew 5: 5). In 2 Corinthians 10:1 Paul talks of meekness as an attribute of Christ. In fact, Paul advises us Philippians 2: 5-8,

Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Humble yourself and submit to the Holy Spirit. Paul also describes agape as not being the opposite of meekness: “…love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (1 Corinthians 13: 4). For his part, John says that meekness is part of the fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:23).

The World hates God. The World hates meekness because it is one of the characteristics of the character of God. Therefore, anyone who is meek will be hated because they remind the World of Christ. In remembering Christ they realize how sinful they are. Which is not something that anyone likes to be reminded of; it shatters their pride, as it shows how vain and empty they truly are. The meek accept their vanity and emptiness, plus they let God fill them with His righteousness and glory. Will you do likewise?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Praising God Is Reflecting His Character

Many Christian churches have been incorporating in their worship service a style of singing that some call praise and worship. Some of the songs are based on scripture, many of these on Psalms. David as we know praised God in the psalms for God’s goodness and mercy toward him. David was grateful to God. However, many of the other songs are repetitive and limited to phrases, such as: “we worship you,” “we adore you,” and “you are worthy of my praise.” These songs are accompanied by shouts of “Hallelujah,” “Praise Him,” and “Glory to God.” The congregation stands to sing, while their eyes are closed, and their arms and hands are raised in the air. Caught up in the enthusiasm they seem to reach a stage of euphoria and ecstasy; as if they were in drugs. This practice gives them a rush or high, when they finish singing the ecstasy is gone, and they return to the sadness of their existence. The singing, it turns out is a mere form of escape from their empty realities; a life devoid of God. This is ironic; because the God they claim to sing to is the God they do not have in their hearts. It is nothing but lip service. (Careful when you judge the people doing this. Many are sincere brethren who do not know any better.)

We would all agree that Praising God is giving him glory. But, what glory can we give Him. It is sinful, at its best. The Worship He would accept from us is nothing more than us returning from He what gives to us. So, the glory we offer Him comes from the Glory that is His to begin with. What is His glory? Let us read from Exodus 33:18 – 23,

Exodus 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

Exodus 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

Exodus 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

When Moses asked to see the great I Am, God replied that he would pass all His glory before Him. Then God proceeded to tell Moses what His glory is. As we read we realize that it was the attributes of God’s character. The Glory of God is His character. And, His name proclaims this glory or character.

In our sinful condition none of us have His character. This is something the Holy Spirit produces in us, as He converts our hearts from “hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.” He converts our hearts from selfish and sinful to righteous and Christ like. He purges our hearts from Sin and turns it into a heart that is Holy. So, only Humans with converted and grateful hearts can truly praise God; because, they reflect His character, which is His glory. A Godly character is true praise toward and to God.

For what are these converted men and women grateful? They are grateful for what God has done, is doing and will do: Salvation. They are grateful for the conversion that is taking place in their hearts. A person that is grateful rejoices. As God is always working, and in all things He works, they give thanks in all things and always. Because they are always grateful, they can always rejoice.

Imagine these people singing to God. There is a difference. It is not lip service. You can tell it comes from the heart – a converted heart. It moves you to know the God they serve. The difference in their singing is consistent with the difference in their life. It is this difference that makes their singing so inspiring and powerful.

Such was the case of Paul and Silas in the prison dungeon. Their singing - praises to God - influenced the jailer to give his heart to Christ. While in Philippi Paul and Silas were imprisoned for preaching the truth. Then, “…at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts16:25). And, so it seems did the jailer. After an earthquake opened the cell gates the jailer presumed all the prisoners gone. He took his sword to commit suicide, but Paul detained him, by assuring that none had left the prison. The jailer and his family gave their life to Christ that night.

Was it the singing that made a difference? The Bible does not say so. But as Paul and Silas were men who reflected the character of Christ it must have. Despite the persecution, beating and imprisonment they seemed to be grateful God. They were full of the Holy Spirit, so they were rejoicing in the Lord. And, their singing must have reflected Jesus in them. Remember, Paul considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. He counted all for joy. His singing was no lip service. It projected what was in His heart already, a crucified and resurrected Christ. Is Paul’s experience ours.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When His Answer Is Imperceptible To Our Eyes

Similes are very effective ways of describing something in a visual way. When something is slow it means that it takes more time than what we expect to go from point A to point B. But, that definition does not mean much, unless you can visualize it. This is why simile’s are effective. A simile shows to us what slow means. With expressions like “as slow as a turtle or molasses,” give us an idea of how slow something is.

Some things are so slow they do not seem to move at all. It seems that nothing happens for a long time. We stop looking and when we look back we find it has moved along considerably. Take for example the leaves on trees in areas with cold winters. They start growing in the spring. We may see at first some flower buds on the tree. And, that is all we see for awhile. So we stop looking. Then a few weeks later we happen to look and we see that leaves are starting to grow. For a dew days that is all we see. A few weeks later we happen to look, and the tree is full of leaves. We ask ourselves when did this happen? It seems imperceptible to our eyes.

The moon is very similar. When we look at it every night we do not see much change in its size and shape. But, if we look at it every 8 to 10 days, we will find it is in a different phase altogether. Its movement is not perceptible to our eyes.

Expressions like, “it is so slow it is like watching paint dry, or “it is like watching water boil,” are very common. The more we look the longer it seems to take. Nothing seems to be happening so when we see the final result, we believe it was sudden. These processes are imperceptible to our eyes.

God’s answers to some prayers are similar. Nothing seems to happen; sometimes for days, and sometimes for years. But, God is always working. Sometimes God’s answer to prayer is obvious, as when Jesus calmed the sea. But, sometimes it is not obvious, even unnoticed, as when God’s power sustained Jesus in Gethsemane. The same power is used for both occasions, but in different ways. Just because something dramatic may not happen, it does not mean that God is not at work.

Creation was a dramatic event. God’s Word took a place that was “without form, and void” (Genesis 1:2) and in six days He converted it into a living paradise. It was so perfect that God “saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God spoke and the thing happened, immediately. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells the woman of ill reputation which anoints Him, “Thy sins are forgiven” Luke 7:48. Now, Jesus is God. Therefore, His word has power. We read in Colossians 1:16

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

When He spoke to the woman it was no exception. When He spoke the thing happened. Her sins were forgiven, immediately. Yes, she probably got up and looked around. To her and to everyone else in the house nothing seemed to change. It was imperceptible to their eyes. However, something changed in her heart. She believed the words of Jesus. She suddenly had a “Philippians 4:7” type of peace,

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

Her faith, “…hath saved thee” Luke 7:50. Do we have that kind of faith? The kind of faith that believes that when God speaks the thing happens, even if we do not see it. The Bible says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. So we first must hear God’s Word then believe it. But, believe it how? Someone defined faith as “…the expecting the word of God to do what it says and the depending upon that word to do what it says” (Review and Herald, Dec. 27, 1898). This is how we must believe if we truly have faith. Even when His word seems not to accomplish anything, we believe that it has, it is and it will because God said so. We believe His word to be true, even when the results of His Word’s seem imperceptible to our eyes. You can only have this kind of faith when you receive it from God Himself.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Word Picture

A few years back, Dr. Gary Smalley published a book called, The Language of Love. The premise of Mr. Smalley’s book is that when communicating with someone we love we should do it in such a way that they not only here the words, but feel the emotions we want to share. He suggests using what he calls word-pictures. Mr. Smalley advises his readers to use similes, metaphors, allegories or parables. In other words, use a little story or vignette that will get the message you want to send across to the person listening.

Such was the method that the prophet Nathan with David (2 Samuel 12: 1 - 15). It was effective, because David convicted himself. You could say that the parables of Jesus were also word-pictures. Paul also used word pictures with the metaphor of the church being a body and Christ the head (1 Corinthians 12:12). We all have different functions in the church, but when we communicate with the Head – Jesus Christ - we work in unity.

The author of the lesson presented a very effective word picture in the last paragraph of Tuesday’s lesson. Let us read it,

“Imagine walking along a narrow path to the Shepherd's home. Along the way there are many paths leading in different directions. Some of these paths go to places that we would not want to visit. Others look tempting; they appeal to our feelings, our emotions, our desires. If, though, we take any one of them, we get off the right path and go in a way that might be exceedingly difficult to get off” (The Refiner’s Fire. Tuesday, November 6, 2007).

It requires discipline to not stray from the road that will take us to the Shepherd’s home. The road to the Shepherd’s home may not seem as exciting as other roads. But, the other roads may take us far away, and we may not want to get off the road that is taking us away from the Shepherd’s home. Besides, getting back to the Shepherd’s road may be dangerous and may require many sacrifices. For many it is hard to make that choice. And that is all that we need to do. Make a choice to not leave the road, or make a choice to return if we have not left. Or, make a choice to go back, if we leave the road.

Why is it so hard? Because, it goes against our selfish sinful nature. Without the power of Christ it is not only hard, but it is impossible. The roads to this world appeal to our senses and reasoning. Even when our hearts may tell us the other roads are the right way, we should not trust our heart, for “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Many of them have things that appeal to our eyes, but it is pure lust and covetousness. Yes, they take us far away from God. We must choose to let God keep us in the road. Sister White puts it this way,

“God has given us the power of choice; it is ours to exercise. We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, our affections. We cannot make ourselves pure, fit for God's service. But we can choose to serve God, we can give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christ.

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in the life. By yielding up the will to Christ, we ally ourselves with divine power. We receive strength from above to hold us steadfast. A pure and noble life, a life of victory over appetite and lust, is possible to everyone who will unite his weak, wavering human will to the omnipotent, unwavering will of God” (Ministry of Healing, p. 176.)

There is no panoramic or scenic route, there is no shortcut. Don’t let yourself be deceived with shuttle services or 10 lane highways. There is only one way to the Shepherd’s home, and that is the Shepherd’s road. It is the path that Christ our Good Shepherd followed. It is the path that those mentioned in Hebrews 11 followed. Those who love God will also follow this path. It is in His strength that they will follow the Shepherd’s road.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Learning of God in Hardship

The parable of the prodigal son tells of a wayward spindrift son of a farmer, who after spending his inheritance in licentious living ends up working for someone else taking care of animals’ that were an abomination to him. Where once he was favored now he was the least, even less the animals he cared for. The Prodigal Son remembered how well he had it home. He remembered how much his father loved him. He remembered that the servants in his father’s home were better off than he was there. He now missed it. He desired those things he used to have. He thought to himself, “I will go back home, and ask for my father’s forgiveness. Perhaps he has mercy on me, and let me be as one of the servants.” Without the hardship the prodigal child would have never learned his lesson. He learned to appreciate what he had before: his father’s love and care. He learned first hand the old adage that goes, “No one knows what they have until they lose it.” Ultimately, The Prodigal Child learned he could trust and depend on his father.

It seems that God put Gomer in a similar situation. We know that after marrying Hosea she went back to her sinful life. And, it seemed that at first she profited immensely. But, God had plans to bring her back. Let us read in Hosea chapter two what God did. In verse three God says he would, “strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.” God adds in verse 6 and 7, “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them…” God continues with His plan on verses 8 through 12,

Hosea 2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.
Hosea 2:9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
Hosea 2:10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
Hosea 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
Hosea 2:12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

In the end “shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” Hosea 2:7. God made it hard for her to succeed in her life of harlotry. She had to admit that she was better off with Hosea. She recognized Hosea truly loved her, since after all she did to him, Hosea bought her back and brought her back to him. Word is she stayed with him for the rest of her life. She learned she could trust and depend on her God given husband. Furthermore, she learned could trust and depend on God.

Just as the prodigal son, without the hardship she would have never recognized how good she had it before. She knew not what she had until she lost it. Just like the prodigal child, she learned that her own efforts were not enough to give her what only God could.
The Apostle Paul learned this lesson well. He believed it is better to be with God regardless of the tribulation than, not be with God at all. He knew that without the hardship, He would have never experienced God’s goodness. Yes, it would have been easy for Paul to doubt God’s providence when trials and persecution continued after His conversion. But, Paul understood that God had a purpose for the trial. As we read in 2 Corinthians 8-9,

2 Corinthians 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Paul still saw God’s love and mercy in all things he went through. It seems he could not fathom not having that in his life.

Can the same be said of us? Without the hardship God puts us through we will not know and experience the goodness and mercy of God. The heat of trials and tribulation is God’s way of showing He cares for us. It is His way of disciplining us. We may not understand His providences now, but as Paul says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God…”” For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 13:12). In time we will see that the hardship God put us through was the best that could ever happen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why does God permit trials?

Sister Grant was distraught and frustrated. She could not understand why her life seemed to be a never ending drama. It seemed like one crisis engendered another. She asked herself, “Why would God do this to me?” Her Pastor said that, “those who are faithful to God will not see so many trials in their life. In fact,” he added, “trials are a sign that God is not favoring you; which means that you are living in Sin.” She met with some co-workers for support and prayer, and told them about her dilemma. Surprisingly, most of them agreed to be in a similar situation. However, not one of them could find what was wrong. They did all the things that their pastor’s said they should do. They were faithful attending church. They tithed and gave offering. And, they were active in church programs. Why was God not rewarding them?

The youngest in the group, Ms. Bradley, waited until all the other ladies finished talking. She asked them a question, “What do Job, most prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, and most Apostles have in common?” They all were silent looking at Ms. Bradley, suspecting she had an answer. Sister Bradley understood their silence so she continued, “Were they not faithful?” They all looked in tpward each other murmuring possible answers to the question. After, a few moments, they all agreed and said, “Yes they were faithful.” Sister Bradley, then said, “Then, why did God allow them to suffer? And, many of them died horrendous deaths. Could it be that we have it all wrong? Why would God treat us any differently?”

Good question! Why would God treat us any differently? Job never understood why he suffered. His cry to God was, “Why?” However, Job never stopped trusting God. In the middle of his crisis, Job cried out, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” Job13:15. Daniel’s friends were faithful in all things, yet under threat of being burned they declared, “… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Dan3:17, 18.

In contrast we have the people of Israel. God was with the people of Israel. The people of Israel saw how God delivered them from the Egyptians. God accompanied them in the day with a cloud, and at night with a pillar of fire. The pillar probably gave them not only light, but also warmth. With all this the people disbelieved that God would have them drink the waters of Marah. But, did God not sweeten the water when Moses put a tree in the well (Exodus 15: 22-27).

After all this when they reached Rephidim they disbelieved God again. In Exodus 17:1-7 we read how they threatened Moses life accusing him of bringing them out of Egypt to die in the desert. How soon they forgot about God being able to provide for them any and every need they had, including water to quench their thirst. The cried out, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Sister White says of this experience,

It was by the express command of God that the children of Israel encamped at Rephidim. He knew of its lack of water, and he brought his people hither to test their faith. But how poorly they proved themselves to be a people whom he could trust! Again and again he had manifested himself to them. With a high hand he had brought them out of the land of their captivity, slaying the first-born of all the families of Egypt to accomplish the deliverance of his people. He had fed them with angels' food, and had covenanted to bring them into the promised land. Now, when brought into difficulty, they broke into rebellion, distrusted God, and complained that Moses had brought them and their children out of Egypt only that they might die of thirst in the wilderness.

The lesson is for us. Many think that in the Christian life they will find freedom from all difficulty. But every one who takes up the cross to follow Jesus comes to a Rephidim in his experience. Life is not all made up of pleasant pastures and cooling streams. Trial and disappointment overtake us; privation comes; we are brought into trying places. Conscience-stricken, we reason that we must have walked far away from God, that if we had walked with him, we should not have suffered so. Doubt and despondency crowd into our hearts, and we say, The Lord has failed us, and we are ill-used. Why does he permit us to suffer thus? He can not love us; if he did, he would remove the difficulties from our path. Is the Lord with us, or not? {RH, April 7, 1903 par. 2 - 3}

Perhaps this is why Peter admonishes us 1 Peter 1:6-7,

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

This verse tells us that trials are neither random nor chaotic. Trials have a purpose. One of them is to produce genuine faith in those who will persevere through all kinds of trials. In other words, trials teach us to depend on God to overcome temptation and to endure the pain and suffering that Sin brings to us, until we either die or are translated. We can trust that God’s promises to us will be fulfilled. We may not see it now. Only in retrospect, God may allow us to see a glimpse of the purpose of trials. For many of us, it will be until we reach eternity before we see clearly God’s purpose in letting us suffer. We will also see that God was in it with us all the way. We were not alone. And, in fact, our faith grew stronger and our character became more Christ like because of the suffering God put us through.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Distilled Characters

When I read Sabbath’s reading for the Quarterly, I remembered my days as a college student working in the Chemistry Lab. While the memories were still fresh, I read the information on a bottle of bottled water. The company said that they follow nature’s water purification’s system - distillation. In nature water evaporates and as it goes up it forms clouds, that later condense and fall as rain to the ground. I remembered that in the laboratory, we heated the water until it evaporated; we made the vapor go through a pipe that was colder than the original reservoir, and the vapor would condense into water again. But, this time the water would not have the impurities it originally had.

You see this process is possible because each substance has a particular boiling point. This is the temperature in which any substance turns from liquid to gas - evaporates. If the water is mixed with substances has a lower boiling point than water, then when you apply heat to the water these substances will evaporate before water does. The opposite is also true.

Let us use an example of water mixed with alcohol and salt. When we apply heat to this impure water, the temperature will raise until it reaches the boiling point of alcohol, which is 77C, and will stay there until all alcohol evaporates. After this the temperature will rise up to the boiling point of water, which is 100C, and will stay there until all water evaporates. Since salt’s is not even liquid at 100C, it will remain in the container, probably stuck to the edges. The water in vapor form that rises from the container is pure, to covert it back to liquid we must condense it and collect in liquid form on the other side. This water would be pure or distilled water.

It should go without saying that the container, in which the water is heated, should withstand heat of more than 100C (212°F). Otherwise the container would crack and everything in it would be spilled. In my days in college, only one brand of glass containers, called flasks, could do this: Pyrex. Pyrex guaranteed that their glass could withstand heat above 100C.

You are probably asking, what is the spiritual application of this information? I am glad you asked. In this analogy, we are the water. Sin is the impurities in the water. Christ is the Pyrex flask. Heat is the trials. As long as we are in Christ we are guaranteed that all trials will do is purge Sin away from us. Until we learn to trust and depend on God with that trial, and the Sin that was impeding this evaporates, the temperature will not rise. As long as we are in Christ, we are guaranteed that if the trial evaporates us, Christ can condense us into distilled purified people. This may apply to resurrection and translation. Any aspect of Sin that trials could not evaporate will not evaporate with us. We will be freed from Sin and all its implications.

You may ask, why would allow trials to come to us? Why will a loving God allow the heat of trials to make us suffer? The answer is that He does it because He loves us. Just as you rebuke and spank your child because you love them; God sends trials to rebuke us. He says so in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” In Jeremiah 9:7 God says that He allows trials to “refine us.” He allows trials to bring us closer to Him. He allows trials so that we learn to totally trust and depend on Him. So, trials, as hard as they, are in the end blessings. Yes, blessings, because they teach us to love Him above all things and to become one with Him. Are you paying attention?

The Apostle Peter says that in trials God is glorified, let us read 1 Peter 4:12-14,

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.

Trials are not a necessary evil or something we bear just because. The pros of trials outweigh the cons. They are beneficial. We should be thankful for them. While it may not be wise to pray for them, it is neither wise that you are spared from them. Just pray to God that He helps you through them. This in the end is the goal of the trial: that you learn to think of God first and foremost; that you yield to Him the reigns of your life. Will you do this?

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Good Shepherd

Adjectives are type of words that describe nouns. We use them to paint a verbal picture of objects, animals or persons. Among different things that can be described are: color, texture, firmness, position, placement, shape, size, quantity and/or quality. These descriptions can be absolute or relative. For example, we say that bananas are yellow. This is pretty much an absolute description. However, if we ask how yellow banana are, it becomes a more relative description, because some things may be yellower than others. So, we see that to describe something as being more of the one adjective than the other we add “er” to the adjective. We add “est” when we want to say something is so yellow, nothing can compare. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. One example of this is the adjective, “good.” “Good” is the basic adjective, “better” is one step up, and “best” is the highest step.

However, for God there is nothing that is a step above good. Through out Genesis God calls His creation good, including man. In fact, Jesus told the young rich ruler, “No one is good but God.” So God is good, and so is His creation. But, as man insists in trying to be higher than the Almighty God, he calls himself better and best, and also calls his creation better and best. Only to find out that there is always some defect in him or his creation. So man stands in contrast to God. When God says something is good, it is perfect, but when man says something is better or best, it has defects and imperfections.

Christ calls Himself the Good Shepherd; which means that despite what men may think, there is no better Shepherd than He. In man’s terms Jesus is the best Shepherd. In John 10, Jesus says why He is the good Shepherd: he enters through the door, His sheep know His voice and He calls them by name, the follow Him, He gives His life for the sheep. In contrast to Jesus are the thieves who do not enter through the door, they come to steal the sheep; sheep that do not follow them for they know not their voice. The thieves come to steal, kill and destroy. Also, in contrast to Jesus are the hirelings, who run away in time of danger, the flock is not their priority, their life is. Because, of them the flock is scattered. In Luke 15, Jesus describes the good Shepherd as someone that willingly puts His life in jeopardy for just one sheep of the flock. The author of Psalms 23 was a Shepherd himself, he knew of the dangers of being a shepherd. David convinces Saul of his qualifications to fight Goliath because of His Shepherd experience. He said,

1 Samuel 17
34And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
35And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
36Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
37David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine

David put his life in harms way for the sheep. Christ, also, put His life in harms way for us, because He agapes us. A good under shepherd will also go to the lengths David and Jesus went. They can do it because God’s unconditional love (agape) has filled their hearts. They received the Holy Spirit who in turn brings this love of God, so they can love as God loves. It is a gift from God to all those who allow the indwelling Spirit of God to do His work in and through them. A good under shepherd then cares, tends, and feeds God’s sheep, as Christ does.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Are we affair proof?

Jeroboam was the first king of Israel, after the nation divided in two kingdoms. Fearing the people of his new kingdom would ally themselves with Judah when they went to worship there, he decided to create a worship system just for his new kingdoms. As we read in 1 Kings 12: 28-30.

1 Kings 12: 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
1 Kings 12: 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
1 Kings 12: 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

He built two golden calves so people would worship them in Israel. He then proceeded to elect new priests for his new religion. This was a hindrance to Israel of course. In 2 Chronicles 11:13-16 we read what happened to the priests that lived in Israel.

2 Chronicles 11:13And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
2 Chronicles 11:14For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:
2 Chronicles 11:15And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.
2 Chronicles 11:16And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.

As we Jerobaoam’s choosing of new priests, meant that the Levitical priests of Israel in were virtually ostracized. Because of this they migrated to Judah, to worship Jehovah.

Hundreds of years later, the priests were far from there predecessors. While they continued to work in the temple services, their hearts were far from God. No longer tempted with pagan God’s, they now worshiped money and reason. You see, a great number of them were Sadducees. They did not believe in resurrections or miracles, and probably did not believe that God speaks to man; hence, their skeptical stance toward Jesus - a miracle worker who preached resurrection and claimed that God spoke to Him (Desire of Ages 603-604). This would explain Zechariah’s – John the Baptist’s father – doubting the angel. Yes, he was a man that feared God; however it is possible that Zechariah had adopted some of the Sadducees’ beliefs.

How could a group of people that were once so faithful to God, generations later, while still claiming to love God, kill his Son? The answer is that they switched their loyalty from God to self. While they did not play the harlot with pagan Gods, they played the harlot with gods of their own creation. They flirted with Greek philosophy and thinking. They found themselves liking the company of the Greek theories, and chose to spend more time with them than with God. The Greek system was more pleasing to their senses than was having faith in God. After a while, God’s system of delayed gratification did not please the flesh as did the world’s system of gratifying the flesh here and now. So much that eventually they started to believe it was impossible to deny the flesh its wants. In other words, they believed a life without Sin is impossible, and thus the sacrificial system was needed to cover for man’s inability of keeping God’s Law. While they were not as strict as the Pharisees, they created another form of legalism, albeit subtle. You were OK with God as long as you sacrificed an animal.

Jesus stood against all of the Sadducees beliefs. A Man in every way as they were that lived without sinning, and performing miracles they claimed could not happen (Hebrews 4:15; Desire of Ages, 537-538).

If this sounds vaguely familiar it is because it is very near to our modern belief. We do not sacrifice animals. But, we have created other requirements to support our theistic and almost existentialist form of Christianity. As the wise man said, “There is no new thing under the Sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Likewise Jesus still stands against us and our beliefs. A Man in every way as we are that lived without sinning, and performing miracles we claim cannot happen. We may not see Jesus in person, but we see how the hearts of men are miraculously transformed after they give their lives to Jesus. They are converted through the work of the Holy Spirit. From proud and arrogant, they become humble and sensitive. From uncouth they become refined. From selfish, braggarts, and self–centered they become God praising and generous. Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 5, let us read

Galatians 5: 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Galatians 5: 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Galatians 5: 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Galatians 5: 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The Holy Spirit transforms you into a new creature, if you allow Him. The transformation will be evident to many others. Yes, many will still question your genuineness’. Rejecting the proof and going against their conviction. However, the question still remains, will you allow Him?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Should David had been stoned?

In the 1980s, there was a TV show in the United States called “Night Court.” As the name suggests it was set in a Court Room that held its proceedings at night. In one of the episodes, a handsome young janitor started to work in the court building. A female bailiff and the young janitor hit it off, and decided to go on a date after the work is over. Soon after that a marshal walked in, saying he was looking for a fugitive that reportedly was hiding in the court building. He wanted the judge to order a line up to see if the fugitive was there. After much deliberation, the judge conceded, however, the janitor was not in the line, which raised every one’s suspicions. The female bailiff caught up with the janitor and convinced the janitor to give himself up. The janitor agreed only if she took him to the Marshall.

The story ends with the Marshall saying that the fugitive janitor will be tried the fullest extent of the Law. Everyone laughed thinking he was joking. But, the Marshall insisted he was serious, as he ate donuts from a bag he found in the court room. All in the room start pleading with him, but the Marshall would not give in. Finally, the judge ordered the bailiff to arrest the Marshall for theft. The Bailiff grabbed the Marshall’s arm. The Marshall tried to force his arm away demanding an explanation. The Judge answered, “That bag of donuts is mine; you took them without my consent, which means you stole it. Put him away, bailiff, until his time for trial, when we will try him to the fullest extent of the Law.” Every one except for the Marshall cheered. The Marshall then spoke, “Ok, Ok, I get it; you let me go, if I am lenient with my fugitive.” The judge answered, “Do we have a deal?” The Marshall agreed and the bailiff let him go. After this, the Marshall left with his fugitive.
This story showed what most of us believe, that when a law is broken, the breaker of the law, should pay the maximum given penalty, unless it is one of us breaking the law. We suddenly have reasons why clemency should apply to us, but not to others. We are no different than the group who wanted the adulteress woman stoned. They said to Jesus, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act, Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:5, 6). The Law of Moses did say that, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). But, Jesus was not interested in killing the woman. If He wanted any death for her, it was death to self. Yes, the law condemns the woman. But Jesus paid the wages of Sin, and we all die in Him (Romans 6:4). So, our debt to the law – and the woman’s - is paid in full. Jesus, tried to the fullest extent of the Law - was found guilty, and the sentence was death, the second or eternal death. He died that death – as one forsaken of God or totally separated from God; which is how this woman felt, until Christ gave her the good news, “I do not condemn you.”
David lies with a woman that is married to someone else. This is adultery. The Law says he should have been put to death. Why was he not put to death? Some may say, “Who would dare go against the King?” This is a good point. Many prophets died in the hands of the Kings they rebuked, John the Baptist is one example. However, I believe God was not interested in killing David. He was interested in David’s repentance, again death to self. And, David repented after he realized what he had done, not only to himself and the woman, but also to his soon to be born dead child, his family, her husband and those implicated in his death, the whole nation, and most importantly to God. Hence his words, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). David felt forsaken of God and received gratefully the news from Nathan the Prophet, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).
This is the Gospel. The good news of Salvation is that God has put away our Sin in Christ – we will not die. God does not want to kill us; He wants us to die to self – to repent. He wants us to turn around toward Him, and receive from Him freedom from guilt and eternal life. Many reject this message, some believe they do not need to repent and others believe God will never accept them. A few believe the message and continually believe. Each group will receive their just reward. Do you believe David should have been stoned? Perhaps how you answer this question reveals which group are you in?

Friday, August 24, 2007


Elkanah, was a Levite, who dwelt at Ramah, in Mount Ephraim. He was a person of wealth and influence, a kind husband, and a man who feared and reverenced God. He was the father of Samuel. Due to irregularities in the Sanctuary services at Shiloh, his services were not required at the sanctuary, yet, like many another Levite during the period of the Judges (Judges 17:8, 9), Elkanah went up as a common Israelite with his own sacrifices to encourage his neighbors and set them a good example. Although he lived in the midst of an evil environment, his spirituality was evidently at a high level. Elkanah was faithful in his worship and in the offering of his sacrifices (The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 455).

Hannah was Elkanah's first wife. Elkanah's love for Hannah was deep and unchanging, yet a cloud shadowed their domestic happiness. The home was not made joyful by the voice of childhood. At length the strong desire to perpetuate his name led the husband, as it had led many others, to adopt a course which God did not sanction--that of introducing into the family a second wife, to be subordinate to the first. In short, when she didn't produce offspring, he took another wife. This move did not bring happiness expected. This act was prompted by a lack of faith in God, and was attended with evil results. The peace of the hitherto united and harmonious family was broken. Sons and daughters were added to the household; but the joy and beauty of God's sacred institution had been marred and the peace of the family was broken. Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded, and she bore herself with pride and insolence. Upon Hannah the blow fell with crushing weight, and hope seemed crushed and life a weary burden. All happiness seemed forever swept away from her life. She bore her trials uncomplainingly, yet her grief was none the less keen and bitter (ST, October 27, 1881 par. 2; Ellen G. White, Daughters of God, p. 39).

Just because something is common or accepted it does not make it right. Bigamy was a common practice in Elkana’s time. However, it was a practice that God forbade (Genesis 2:18 – 24; Mal 2:14, 15). Something Elkanah should have known. While God did not strike Elkanah with a lightning when he took Penninah as wife, He did allow Elkanah to suffer the consequences of His Sin, and see how it also affected others in His circle. Elkanah’s bigamy tarnished his record and blighted the happiness of everyone in his household.

Bigamy – or polygamy – is not commonly accepted in Western society. In fact, in many Western countries it is against the Law. But that has not stopped men – and women – from pursuing illicit relations outside of marriage. Many of these are professed Christians who, as Elkanah, go to church every Sabbath (or Sunday). They are faithful in their tithes and offerings. And, they participate faithfully in the church programs. Their reasons may vary, but normally they are selfishly satisfying sinful desires that their spouse cannot or will not satisfy. The consequences are disastrous. Trusts are betrayed, relationships broken, families split apart; friends and associates are forced to take sides. This in turn weakens our institutions. Most importantly, this practice – as all Sin - drives those who practice it and those who are affected by it from God.

Faithfulness in some aspects of life does not atone for departure from God’s instruction in other particulars. Christianity is not a point system. It is not about a tally of your deeds at the end of your life, and if the good outweighs the bad then you are saved. Christ said it Himself, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Paul said it in these words, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Christianity is a daily moment by moment walk with Christ. Christianity is a constant and increasing yielded walk with the indwelling Spirit of God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” John 14:16. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). While true Christianity is enmity with the world, compromising does not bring the peace temptation promises. Christianity requires letting go of my will, and upholding God’s. And, we do this not to please God, but out of gratitude for all He has done for us. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Repeating For Emphasis

What do you do when you want to stress something? What do you do when you want to make sure that others know that you consider that what you are saying is important? There are various techniques. If you are speaking, you can change the tone of voice, or the speed of your words. If you are writing you can modify the letters. One other way for both speakers and writers is to repeat things. This happens often in the Bible. Things are repeated to bring them to our attention. Sometimes what’s repeated for emphasis is a word, phrase, or a sentence. Sometimes what’s repeated for emphasis is a motif or theme. This week study highlights one of those motifs in the Bible: God brings the bride to the groom.

In the first lesson we saw how God brought Eve to Adam. We see this pattern repeated with Rebekah and Isaac. We could also argue that this was the case with Leah and Jacob. This week we see this same pattern repeated in Ruth and Boaz.

What is impressive is how God did it. According to the lesson God made or allowed at least 7 events to happen for Boaz to meet Ruth. The odds of they meeting were miniscule. But, to God nothing is impossible. Let us read the lesson’s suggestions.

“In the beginning of the story, the odds of Ruth ending up marrying Boaz were indeed minuscule. Many "circumstantial" events were necessary to lead to their eventual meeting and marriage. (1) There had to be a famine in Judah, else the family of Elimelech would not have left Bethlehem. (2) They had to choose Moab rather than some other country for refuge, such as Egypt or Edom, in order to come in contact with Ruth. (3) There had to be eligible bachelors in Naomi's family to marry Ruth. (4) The male had to die in order for Ruth to be eligible for a second marriage. (5) The famine in Judah had to end so that Naomi could consider going back. (6) Ruth had to decide to accompany Naomi. (7) Ruth had to happen to glean in the field of Boaz.” (Friday, August 17, 2007)

So, what seems circumstantial, accidental, or coincidental is really providential. This marriage was years in the making –long before Ruth and Boaz even met - and everything had to be right for it to happen. Most importantly, the hearts of those involved had to be right with God. In the fullness of time, God brought Ruth to Boaz. Boaz, like Ruth, was a Godly man. He treated his servants well. He was available for marriage. It seems that although he was not married, he was not a womanizer. We do not know if he was never married or a widow. We can only speculate that he was waiting on the Lord to provide for him. Boaz respected Ruth; he did not take advantage of her. They did not have sex before marriage.

If Boaz was waiting on the Lord, he was following the Word of God. Let us read the following verses on waiting on the Lord.

Isaiah 40: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

It seems this is another recurring motif. Isaiah, Paul, and David lived in different times. However, all three repeated the same concept. The emphasis is clear. Waiting on the Lord has benefits. It requires hope, trust, belief …in fact: Faith. Waiting on the Lord shows patience. Faith and Patience are both part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). From this we may understand that those who take matters in their own hand are sinning. Not only that, but by taking things in their own handed they also get in the way of God’s providence. God’s work of probably many years is wasted because we want our way instead of God’s.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Samson vis a vis Christ

Today we learn a new expression. Today’s expression is “vis a vis.” It is a word that originates from the French language. It literally means face to face. But other uses include: in relation to or compared with, and as opposed to. Let us aplly it to this week’s lesson. Let us put Samson face to face with Christ, to see how they compare and how they contrast, or oppose each other.

Let us look first at the similarities, or how they compare.
1. In both cases the parents were visited by angels before baby’s birth. Also, in both cases the angel spoke first to the mother, and afterwards to the father. And, in both cases the angel gave information as to what the babies’ mission would be. (Judges 13: 3-14; Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18 – 25).
2. Both Samson and Christ performed supernatural things because they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Judges 14:6, 19; Luke 4:1, 14).
3. Both were persecuted by their enemies (Judges 16:2; Matthew 26:4; John 7:1).
4. Both are betrayed for money (judges 16:5; Matthew 26:15).
5. Both are asked to perform for mockery (Judges 26:15; Luke 23:8).
6. Both die for the sake of others (Judges 13:5, 16: 28 -31; Romans 5:6, 8; 14:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3).

Now let us look at the contrasts or they oppose each other.
1. Where Samson was indulgent, Christ was the epitome of temperance. Not that Christ was as strict as John the Baptist was in eating. However, Christ knew no woman. Samson fornicated or slept around.
2. Samson was presumptuous, Christ never dared to presume (Judges 16:20; Mat 4: 6, 7).
3. Samson gave himself the glory for his strength, Christ always gave the glory to the Father (Judges 16:16, 17; John 8: 28, 10: 25).
4. Samson’s good deeds including his death could not save humanity from Sin; Christ’s death did save humanity, including Samson.

Yes, Samson left a lot to be desired. He was indulgent, presumptuous, and a seeker of pleasure. However, God never gave up on him. And, neither does God give up on us. After all, we are no better than Samson. It would be easy for us to look back at Samson and say “Samson should have known better.” Samson knew and it was not enough. We, too, can know also and it will be not enough. I remember the old expression, “There go I, but for the grace of God.” And, yes maybe you will not sleep around, but the Devil has plenty of other temptations in his arsenal for us. The bottom line is that only Christ can deliver us. We have this promise “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). And another one, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God answers Samson’s prayer to destroy the temple and kill everyone in it. Not once is God heard saying, “Why do you come to me now? Did I not warn you enough? You are on your own, buddy.” No. God stays true to His love for us, as Paul says in Hebrews 7: 25,

Hebrews 7: 25 Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Samson repented and turned to God, and God was waiting. Will we repent and turn to Him? He is also waiting for us.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Only a Warning

A man, best known as Mr. X, received a small manila envelope. He was a sniper for hire. In the envelope there was a picture of the man who was to be his target, Mr. Waters. Also in the envelope, were papers detailing information about Mr. Waters, including his itinerary. At the bottom of the itinerary, there is a suggested time and place for the hit. A smaller envelope had a sum of money, and a card with a sentence written on it. It read, “Do not shoot to kill.” Mr. X thought it was unusual, but welcomed the challenge. At the accorded time and place Mr. X shot at Mr. Waters. The bullet did not hit Mr. Waters, but hit so close that there was no misunderstanding it was an attempt to Mr. Waters’s life. After the incident, Mr. Waters was shaking, and looking toward any sound he heard. With a shaky voice, he told some of his associates how his life was spared, because the shooter but missed. Suddenly, the phone rang and a grave voice was heard saying, “The sniper missed on purpose. Next time he won’t. This time was only a warning.” While God never forces us to do anything, He does warn us when we are straying from His will.

When we read Exodus 4: 24-26 we realize that the Lord wanted to warn Moses. Let us read the passage,

Exodus 4: 24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
Exodus 4: 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
Exodus 4: 26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

In the book Patriarchs and Prophets, Sister White expounds on this incident. She calls it “a startling and terrible warning.” Let us read what she said,

“On the way from Midian, Moses received a startling and terrible warning of the Lord's displeasure. An angel appeared to him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy him. No explanation was given; but Moses remembered that he had disregarded one of God's requirements; yielding to the persuasion of his wife, he had neglected to perform the rite of circumcision upon their youngest son. He had failed to comply with the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings of God's covenant with Israel … Zipporah, fearing that her husband would be slain, performed the rite herself, and the angel then permitted Moses to pursue his journey. In his mission to Pharaoh, Moses was to be placed in a position of great peril; his life could be preserved only through the protection of holy angels. But while living in neglect of a known duty, he would not be secure; for he could not be shielded by the angels of God. In the time of trouble just before the coming of Christ, the righteous will be preserved through the ministration of heavenly angels; but there will be no security for the transgressor of God's law. Angels cannot then protect those who are disregarding one of the divine precepts.” PP 255 - 256

So, the Lord in his mercy decided to warn Moses, not destroy him. The angel could have killed Moses if that was truly God’s will. But, God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He wants us to repent. God wants us to turn around toward Him and to give ourselves entirely to Him. He wants us to be wedded to Him. There is a relationship between weddings and circumcision.

According to this week’s lesson,

“Several peoples of the ancient Near East practiced circumcision. So it was not a new custom that God invented for His people. He just gave it new meaning. For many it was a sign of marriage, performed when a man was wedded, but God used it as a sign of His special link with His chosen people.”

Let us consider this practice a little closer. A man removes the foreskin from penis when he is getting married to a woman. When they have sex and become one, his penis will be covered by His wife’s vagina. When our hearts are circumcised the foreskin of self-righteousness is removed, and God covers it with His own righteousness. At this point we are one with God and married to Christ.

This story lets us know that God is particular about details. What we often consider trivial and meaningless, God may consider the greatest offense. Many times is not the action, but the spirit in which we do what we do. It may be rebelliousness or presumption. He loves us, and because He does He often warns us with rebukes. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” There are no exceptions. God loves us all, and we are all His children. All of us go through trials and tribulations. God allows them for His purpose: to bring us so close to Him, we become (and remain) one with Him. The more we heed to God and His warnings the more our hearts are circumcised and covered with his Righteousness. However, it is important to note, 1) it is God Who sends or allows the warnings, it is also God Who circumcises our hearts, and lastly, it is God Who covers our hearts with His righteousness. Resisting God’s work in us can come in two ways: 1) “I do not want it,” or 2) “I want it, but I want to do it myself.” Either way ends up with the same results: a heart that is covered with self–righteousness. Without the Righteousness of Christ covering our hearts we shut ourselves out of heaven and eternal life.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Leah: The Appointed One Of God

God always looks for ways that His will may be fulfilled. Some Bible scholars say that the will of God is expressed in three different ways. The three ways in which God’s will is expressed are: His ultimate will, His intentional will, and His circumstantial will. The ultimate will is what God ultimately wants, for example: the salvation of the man. The intentional will is what God wants that happens so that His ultimate will is fulfilled, for example: the death of Jesus to save the world, according to some experts, it should have been on an altar as the “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29. His circumstantial will was what He had to do instead of His intentional, because we caused His intentional will to fail, for example: as the Jews did not accept Jesus, He had to die on the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Let us take another example: Abraham and Isaac. The ultimate will of God was to save Abraham. The intentional will of God was to make him understand the gospel through an only son: Isaac. But Abraham had another son whom He should have not had. So God had to look for a way to teach the gospel to Abraham with two children: Ishmael and Isaac. This last one was the Circumstantial Will of God.

Another example is Jacob and Esau. The ultimate will of God could be that there is someone in every generation bearing the responsibility and the privilege to live and preach the Gospel. This is what all who are in the lineage of Christ would do. This person would communicate the promise of the Messiah to the world. The intentional will of God is that this person would be Jacob. Abraham would teach Isaac, and Isaac in turn would teach Jacob. But the circumstantial will of God, made God move heaven and earth to remove Jacob from his native land, thus saving the lineage of Christ. Sister White says that Isaac felt Divinity in the words that he spoke to Jacob when Jacob disguised himself to deceive its father. God intervened to assure that Jacob received the blessing and not Esau. Esau sold his right to it for a “pot of lentils.”

The next example is Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Was it the will of God that Jacob had two spouses and their servants as concubines? Could one of them have been God’s will? If this is true then it should have been Leah. Leah was brought to Jacob, just as Eve was to Adam and Rebekah was to Isaac. (Rebekah was chosen by God to be Wife of Isaac). Leah was the only one that gave Glory to God for procreating (Genesis 29:35). In fact, it was when she gave birth to Judah that she gave Glory to God. Judah, her fourth son, originates the tribe of Judah and continues the lineage of Jesus. It seems to me that Leah had been the intentional will of God, if only Jacob had been a praying man. How different would it had been if Jacob had prayed to God having requested to him wisdom as far as choosing a life companion, instead of making God promises He could not fulfill. How different would it have been if Jacob would have waited, as his father Isaac waited for God to bring the woman to him, instead of Jacob choosing himself? As Abraham, he should have listened to the voice of God, and believe God’s Word to him.

The promise that God gave to Jacob was, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”” Genesis 28:15. If Jacob had believed this promise - and had continued believing – and had understood everything covered in the promise, it would had been sufficient for him to hope that God could provide all his needs - including a wife - instead of working to provide them for himself. This does not mean that Jacob would have not worked for Laban, but that perhaps on different terms.

This promise also is also for us. Christ said to his apostles, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Since He is with us always He can still provide for all of our needs if we allow him – yes, even a spouse. His will will be done, if we respond, “let thy will be done.”

Friday, July 20, 2007

When Everyone Is Wrong

They seemed like a normal home. People arose from their sleep and went on to their normal affairs and chores. It was not a prefect family, but which family is? What separated this family from others, was daily family devotions, and lots of prayer. Even though, as of late, the oldest son seemed a bit rebellious, all things seem pretty well. Then one day, the mother was heard screaming with anguish. Those close by, heard the father say to the youngest son, “I am sorry it has to be this way. It is better this way. Here is a little something, it should hold you for a few days. Go with my blessings. You just do as I told you and things will work fine. Do not worry about us, we’ll be fine.” The young man – the younger of the two - just looked back nodding. He slowly walked away with a puzzled look. He ran when his father told him, “Go quickly, before your brother knows what happened.” Shortly after, the older brother showed up, angry and spouting curse words against his younger brother, “Where is he? I am going to kill him.” The father, stood by his wife, just looked sternly at him. “What is done is done,” said the father. “Your brother is gone,” the father added. The brother stood still with a face of disbelief. “Why?” he asked, “You let it happen, it is your fault.” The father answered with pain in his voice, yet firmly, “Yes, it is. I am sorry.” The son then replied angrily, “I don’t care if you’re sorry. It is not over for me.” After this, he slammed the door as he walked away.

The story does not say what happened. But, the fact is you probably already have created a situation in your mind that would fit this scenario. Probably, you have also assigned blame to the parties you think are guilty and have absolved those whom you think innocent. But, you still want to know from the writer what could happen to split a family in such way? Could it have been prevented? Can it be solved or fixed? Who is to blame? Someone messed up. And, this started a chain reaction that ended in one sibling hating the other, and the other fearing the one. And, this event robbed the parents of the joy of having their two children around them. The guilty party should pay. Most of us would say, “Amen!” The truth is they were all guilty. They all –parents and children - had their own agendas and interests, moved forward to fulfill them, without caring about the other persons involved. They were all wrong. All needed to repent.

The story is a paraphrase of what happened in Isaac’s home as written in Genesis 27. A closer look at the characters involved – from the book Patriarchs and Prophets - will show that they all had a part to play in this crisis. Let us start with Isaac. Although Isaac knew about the angel’s word to Rebekah – the oldest would serve the younger – he still favored Esau. Esau’s stories of hunting adventures thrilled Isaac. And, Isaac thought that as the elder Esau should receive the inheritance, which would include the spiritual legacy. Isaac, although a Godly man, held on to the value of passing on the legacy to the oldest. All this on top of the fact, that Isaac enjoyed the game hunted and cooked by Esau. Isaac was preparing for death; however it took more than 20 years to die. Normally God instructed these men about their death. No instruction had come from God.

Esau was a hunter. He was a man of adventure. He lived for the moment. He had no regard for the future, and much less for spiritual things. He sold his birthright and every rights to it to please his appetite. But, he was no ‘dummy.’ He knew a good opportunity when he found one. The thought of inheriting material goods was of interest to him. He probably, thought of how he could use it to enjoy his life more.

Rebekah hastened in her move without praying to God to intervene. She believed, years before, that she was to leave her home and go to a strange land to marry a man she never met. She also believed what the angel said to her about her children. However, just as Isaac had his favorite in Esau, she had her favorite on Jacob. Jacob’s temperament and disposition appealed to her more. She tried to reason with Isaac about Jacob being the rightful heir, but Isaac would not listen. When Isaac arranged with Esau to hand the blessing to him, Rebekah took matters in her own hand. She plotted a deceptive scheme to secure the blessing for her favorite. In short, Rebekah disbelieved that the One who made the promise – God - could fulfill it in His own way. The plot worked, but at a cost.

Jacob longed for the blessing of the inheritance. He learned from his mother what the angel had told her, and he treasured it in his heart. He esteemed the eternal over the temporal; however he did not have an experimental knowledge of the God whom he revered. As such, he did not trust God to give it to him. His heart had not been renewed by divine grace. He believed that the promise concerning himself could not be fulfilled so long as Esau retained the rights of the first-born, and he constantly studied to devise some way whereby he might secure the blessings which he held so precious, but his brother held so lightly. Jacob at first resisted his mother’s plans. He thought nothing good could come out of it, but was eventually overcome by her insistence. From the hour when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong repentance. This scene was vivid before him in afteryears, when the wicked course of his sons oppressed his soul.

All but Esau repented. However, they all suffered the consequences of their Sin. This is more evident in Jacob and Rebekah, they never saw each other again. We are no better then these four. We can all identify with these four. Some of us are as Isaac, stubborn in our ways, even when knowing our ways are not God’s will. We find reasons to excuse our attitudes, just as Isaac did. Some of us are as Rebekah, although we once believe and trusted, we become as foolish Galatians allowing ourselves to be bewitched by disbelief and trying in our own efforts instead of depending on the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1: 1-3). How easy it would be if like Mary –the mother of Jesus – we just said, “Behold the handmaid (or handyman) of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” Luke 1:38. Some of us are as Jacob, wanting Godly things, but resisting the heart transformation from an experimental knowledge of God. This leads to not having the courage to say “No,” when temptation assails us. Some of us are As Esau, living for the moment. Our motto is "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" 1 Corinthians 15:32. Hopefully, we are as the first three, in that we repent and allow God to do His work in us and through us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Those Who Hear Are Friends of God

In order to teach how gossip works, one teacher gathered his students in a circle. He gave the first student a piece of paper with a phrase written on it. The student was to read it softly to the next student. This process was repeated student by student, until the paper reached the last student, whom then would read the phrase out loud. The students all said, but of course, all we did was read it from the paper. “The Teacher then said, “Well let’s do it without the written paper.” The Teacher spoke a phrase to the first student, who proceeded to repeat it to the next student, until it reached the last student whom would say out loud what he heard. All the students laughed out loud. They all said “It is not even close to what I heard.” Why the difference in outcome between the two exercises? The answer is that one was written and the other was not. Oral transmission of information is bound to be transformed as people do not hear well and/or reinterpret what is said.

Abraham lived long before the Bible was written. In fact the first writer in the Bible descended from Him. Moses was a Levite from the Tribe of Levi, one of Jacob’s sons. Jacob was Abraham’s grandchild. Abraham learned all things pertaining to salvation, from God’s mouth. God spoke to Abraham face to face. Abraham spoke directly to God. Abraham heard God’s audible voice, and kept it in his heart, as a treasure. The Bible says that “… Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

So, Abraham becomes the Father of the Faithful more than 400 years before there is a written record of the Word of God. If God and His salvation is the same today as yesterday, then, Abraham was saved without the Bible. So we must ask ourselves, why do we need the Bible? One thing to consider is that although Abraham did not have the Bible, he did have the Word of God. Now, if we disagree so much with something in writing, imagine then, how would it be with out any written record? The written word is something that we can refer back to, and confirm that what we thought it said was what was indeed said.

However, the Bible is more than just a confirmation tool. The Bible is the inspired - “Breathed” - Word of God. It is as if it came from His mouth. And, Jesus said, that we are ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4.). God exhales His word, we in turn inhale. The Bible is an extension of God’s mouth, an interface. The Bible does not replace God. On the contrary it brings God closer to us.

Sister White addresses this issue, let us read

The Scriptures are to be received as God's word to us, not written merely, but spoken. … In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice … Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. {Ministry of Healing 122 - 3}

It is no wonder that Paul says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). As we read the Word, it is as if we are Abraham, and what we read are the Words of God spoken to us. If as Abraham we believed the Words and treasure them in our hearts, our “belief” – just as Abraham’s - would be accounted for Righteousness. Also, we would be one of Abraham’s children of faith and one of God’s friends. There is no greater honor than that.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


The lesson quotes Sister White on the topic of growth.

“The work of educating the mind and manners may be carried forward to perfection."—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 358, 359.

Notice her reference to manners in this sentence. This is something that has been lost in the last few years. Many have lowered their standards. It is not unusual to hear slang in the church aisles and platforms. Brethren are rude to one another in the name of truth and frankness. Many do it in the hopes of being relevant, but it always backfires. The importance of proper attire has also been relaxed. Why? Is it because people are more evil now than before or more liberal? Not really. Is it because there is no sense of decorum or respect anymore? Not really. These are just signs of a deeper issue.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: 3 that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asked how this can happen and Christ replied,

John 3: 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3: 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3: 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

To be born again requires two things, dying to the old ways (repentance), and resuscitating to the newness of Christ. Something only God can do. Amen! Babies are born then they must grow. If God does the birthing, then it would make sense that God also does the growing. A continued yielding to, trusting in and depending on the Holy Spirit is needed to grow into the likeness of Christ. What will this look like? In the following article by Sister White you may find the answer. Let us read,

October 13, 1890 Result of Genuine Conversion.
By Mrs. E. G. White.

Genuine conversion brings the soul into living connection with Christ, and makes the person who has this experience a channel of light to the world. We have all had objectionable traits of character transmitted to us, and many have cultivated these until wrong habits of thought and action have taken deep hold on the nature; but when the truth of heavenly origin finds a place in the heart, a new, divine power begins to fashion the character after the divine Pattern. In the soul consecrated to the service of Christ will be a growing distaste for coarse thought, rough manners, and unseemly language, for it is all in opposition to the chaste, pure Spirit of Christ, which dwells within. How necessary that everyone who professes to be a follower of Christ should be so indeed, and practice the truth he professes!
Among the youth there are many whose names are on the church record, but who fail to bring themselves under discipline that they may improve in thought, speech, and manners. They persist in carrying with them their objectionable traits of character. They have vulgar sentiments, coarse manners, low habits. They carry these to others through their school association, and through life they sow tares instead of precious wheat. If low, common ways are indulged in childhood and youth, in the forming period of life, the future will be marred by blemishes; and even in manhood, many will fail to see the necessity of overcoming these defects, and of rectifying their hateful malformations of character. Temptation will overcome them, because they are weak in moral power.
Those who have divine enlightenment will see the necessity of overcoming, for they will realize something of the purpose of Heaven in regard to the influence they are to exert upon others for their salvation. If those who have serious faults to overcome, would rely on God with earnest faith, he would work for them; and the more diligently they devoted themselves to the cultivation of virtue and the discharge of duty, the more grace would they receive to become like the Pattern. With the experience of conversion to Christ, a new life begins. The apostle says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Whoever accepts Jesus will make determined efforts to overcome through the strength imparted to him from Heaven; his whole character must and will be transformed. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he will go on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, and power will be given him to uproot every evil. He will turn from the service of Satan to the service of God. Faith, living, active faith, works by love and purifies the soul; it becomes an abiding principle in the life. Everyone who has accepted the righteousness of Christ is placed on high vantage-ground. His conversation, his habits, will be of a high, refined character, after the example of his Lord, and then he will not lie against the truth. He will rise above all baser things into the pure atmosphere of heaven.
Every soul who is drawn to Christ is to be a co-laborer with him. The apostle writes, "Ye are laborers together with God." But to be laborers together with God necessitates some high qualifications. The Lord requires those who would labor with him to be refined in language, to be polished in manner, and he is ready to bestow the grace of Christ on every earnest seeker. Through the help that Christ can give, the laborer with God may cultivate habits of neatness, of thoroughness, and present to the world an example which will in all things be worthy of imitation; for he may grow up unto the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus.
Those who have a careless, clownish manner, either in the family or in society, dishonor their divine Lord. Even ministers have thus misrepresented Christ, when in the pulpit they have made a display of theatrical actions and eccentric manners. This is not of God. Eccentricities are sometimes looked upon as virtues by men, but they do not aid in representing Christ. Careless attitudes and irreverent expressions may serve to please men of unrefined tastes, anecdotes may amuse, but the minister who seeks to cater to such tastes has a meager appreciation of the dignity, simplicity, goodness, and loveliness of the character of the divine Lord.

These individuals need our prayers and loving correction, not our criticism. Part of good manners is not criticizing and gossiping. Pray, and ask other to pray, that the Holy Spirit may take away your bad manners and give you good ones. Sometimes asking the Holy Spirit to remind you to stop before or during your involvement is very effective. He will remind you. You just respond by yielding.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Blotting Away

Blotting Away

Over the years I have collected dozens of pencils. Some I have
bought, others I have received as gifts, and others I have obtained in
exhibitions. The idea was not to create collection, but to have
pencils available for my writing. As time passed, I found that I
prefer using certain pencils over others. I wondered why? Then one
day I caught myself testing erasers. I touched them to find which of
them have a particular feel. I know according to how the eraser feels
that they will erase the lead on the paper, without leaving blotches
of lead on the paper or destroying the paper. I wanted as little as
possible eraser marks where I had erased. I wanted the paper to look
as if nothing had been written on it after I erased what I had written
on it. All erasers may erase, but the question is to what extent?

A perusal of the verses cited in Monday's lesson - Act 26:18,
Ephesians 1:7, 4:32, Colossians 1:14, 2:13, and 1 John 1:9, 2:12 -
leave with no doubt that God has forgiven us in Jesus; but, to what
extent? He forgives us in such a way, that it is as if we had never
sinned before.

Let us read the next set of verses quoted in Monday's lesson,

Psalms 51:1 NKJV 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your
lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.

Psalms 51:9 NKJV 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.

Isaiah 43:25 NKJV 25 "I, even I, am He who blots out your
transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Isaiah 44:22 NKJV 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your
transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have
redeemed you."

Jeremiah 31:34 NKJV 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor,
and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall
know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the
LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember
no more."

Romans 3:25 NIV 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,
through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice,
because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand

Romans 3:25 NKJV 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood,
through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His
forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously

From all these verses we can understand that God forgiveness is total.
Our iniquity and transgressions are blotted out. In the biblical
Hebrew language the verb to blot means to wipe out, obliterate or

In the biblical Hebrew language the verb to blot means to wipe out,
obliterate or exterminate. In other words to make it disappear. This
meaning is still in our modern use of the verb. Some of the
definitions of the verb to blot are:

1. To spot or stain, as with a discoloring substance.
2. To obliterate (writing, for example).
3. To make obscure; hide: clouds blotting out the moon.
4. To destroy utterly; annihilate: War blotted out their
traditional way of life.
5. To soak up or dry with absorbent material.

All these definitions paint a picture of what God achieved in Jesus.
Definition 1 gives a connotation of bleaching away. Numbers two and
four give a connotation of wiping out, eliminating or reducing to
nothing. Definition number three is used in Isaiah. Definition
number 5 may speak to Christ taking our Sin unto Himself. This
explains how Christ on the Cross justifies us. However, Christ
intention is that this blotting out of Sin becomes a reality in us.
The Holy Spirit – if we allow Him – blots all known and unknown Sin
from us. This is a purging or cleansing from Sin in us. So we choose
the Righteousness of Christ instead of our own Righteousness. The
Holy Spirit erases, bleaches away, wipes out, eliminates, or reduces
to nothing the Sin that exists in us. And, in it stead it replaces
the Sin with the perfect character of Jesus.
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