Monday, December 17, 2018

Day 351 - The Little Town of Bethlehem... and Shepherds who were Watching!

Today's Reading: Micah 4-5 and Revelation 12

In today's reading of Micah, we see the birthplace of Christ foretold.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

Christ could have gone to the center stage broadway of the then-known world to make His entrance... He could have come with fireworks and flashes of lightning that would draw all the attention of the world to His entrance... But He chose to come to a little (among thousands) town called Bethlehem. He chose to share the news of His arrival not with the religious elite, or Biblical scholars of the day, for pride had blinded their eyes, but He chose to come to a stable, and to have his coming shared with humble shepherds. And the first that came and gave Christ honor were not the Jewish nation, they were wise man from the East... they were from a different denomination and sect of Christianity than the Jews. They were the ones studying prophecy, they were the ones watching for the signs when Jesus own people missed them...

Ellen White writes the following... This is a little bit long, but I was so fascinated as I was reading that I could not stop. 
At the time of Christ’s first advent the priests and scribes of the Holy City, to whom were entrusted the oracles of God, might have discerned the signs of the times and proclaimed the coming of the Promised One. The prophecy of Micah designated His birthplace; Daniel specified the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25. God committed these prophecies to the Jewish leaders; they were without excuse if they did not know and declare to the people that the Messiah’s coming was at hand. Their ignorance was the result of sinful neglect. The Jews were building monuments for the slain prophets of God, while by their deference to the great men of earth they were paying homage to the servants of Satan. Absorbed in their ambitious strife for place and power among men, they lost sight of the divine honors proffered them by the King of heaven.  
With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world’s history—the coming of the Son of God to accomplish the redemption of man. All the people should have been watching and waiting that they might be among the first to welcome the world’s Redeemer. But, lo, at Bethlehem two weary travelers from the hills of Nazareth traverse the whole length of the narrow street to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a place of rest and shelter for the night. No doors are open to receive them. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last find refuge, and there the Saviour of the world is born. 
Heavenly angels had seen the glory which the Son of God shared with the Father before the world was, and they had looked forward with intense interest to His appearing on earth as an event fraught with the greatest joy to all people. Angels were appointed to carry the glad tidings to those who were prepared to receive it and who would joyfully make it known to the inhabitants of the earth. Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man’s nature; He was to bear an infinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin; yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel’s capital to greet His coming? Would legions of angels present Him to the expectant company? 
An angel visits the earth to see who are prepared to welcome Jesus. But he can discern no tokens of expectancy. He hears no voice of praise and triumph that the period of Messiah’s coming is at hand. The angel hovers for a time over the chosen city and the temple where the divine presence has been manifested for ages; but even here is the same indifference. The priests, in their pomp and pride, are offering polluted sacrifices in the temple. The Pharisees are with loud voices addressing the people or making boastful prayers at the corners of the streets. In the palaces of kings, in the assemblies of philosophers, in the schools of the rabbis, all are alike unmindful of the wondrous fact which has filled all heaven with joy and praise—that the Redeemer of men is about to appear upon the earth. 
There is no evidence that Christ is expected, and no preparation for the Prince of life. In amazement the celestial messenger is about to return to heaven with the shameful tidings, when he discovers a group of shepherds who are watching their flocks by night, and, as they gaze into the starry heavens, are contemplating the prophecy of a Messiah to come to earth, and longing for the advent of the world’s Redeemer. Here is a company that is prepared to receive the heavenly message. And suddenly the angel of the Lord appears, declaring the good tidings of great joy. Celestial glory floods all the plain, an innumerable company of angels is revealed, and as if the joy were too great for one messenger to bring from heaven, a multitude of voices break forth in the anthem which all the nations of the saved shall one day sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. 
Oh, what a lesson is this wonderful story of Bethlehem! How it rebukes our unbelief, our pride and self-sufficiency. How it warns us to beware, lest by our criminal indifference we also fail to discern the signs of the times, and therefore know not the day of our visitation. (From The Great Controversy, p. 313-315)
So, are we watching for His return today? Are we waiting expectantly and hopefully, or are we continuing our religious traditions unmoved by the events taking shape around us for Christ's soon return?

Tomorrow's Reading: Micah 6-7 and Revelation 13 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Day 350 - Are you a Happy Christian?

Today's Reading: Micah 1-3 and Psalm 144

Today I want to focus on one verse. Psalm 144:15 says, "Happy is that people that is in such a case; yea, happy is the people, whose God is the Lord."

I love this verse... And it makes me ask myself, "Are we happy Christians?" If we truly understand that our God is Lord, our God is Lord above all... we have every reason to rejoice and praise His name. We have every reason to be happy.

That doesn't mean that hardships in life don't happen, that doesn't mean that we don't experience pain... but we can still have inner joy and happiness even in the midst of the hardships of life, BECAUSE our God is Lord. Not just any Lord, but Lord above all... Yet, I find it continually amazing how little people smile today, how few seem to possess true inner joy.

I work in a building full of church workers. And sometimes I see men and women (especially men) rushing by where I work with no signs of any smiles, no signs of any joy or happiness. I pass these same people in the hall, or in meetings, or in worships, and not a smile, but instead a very serious somber expression. I am puzzled over this, and I wonder a lot about it. We are working in ministry for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Yes, life is not easy, yes, ministry is not easy. I'm not naive to the realities and stresses and grueling difficulties of life and ministry. Yes, our church is having its struggles, but don't we have every reason to be bright happy friendly and loving Christians? Where's the joy? Where's the peace?

I can't judge hearts, I don't know what is going on inside the hearts of those specific people, but the Bible does tell us, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." (Luke 6:45) And I think out of the abundance of the heart, the face shows too. You can tell when people look at you, by the expression of their eyes, their genuine smile (or lack thereof) if there is true joy and peace...

Thankfully I also work with many people who possess this joy... who, although they experience great hardships and stress and trials, obviously have great inner peace and joy. What a blessing to know these people in the Lord.

We need more of this in our midst. We need more expression of God's goodness. We have every reason to rejoice, we can be happy because our God is Lord.

Tomorrow's Reading: Micah 4-5 and Revelation 12

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Day 349 - Angry at God's Mercy?

Today's Reading: Jonah 3-4 and Revelation 11

As we read in Jonah today, we find that God gives Jonah a second chance and calls him to go to Nineveh and preach that destruction is coming in 40 days. And what happened? Well, this time Jonah did as he was told. And guess what, when he preached the coming destruction, the people believed him! They ACTUALLY believed him... and they repented and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth and sought God. Even the king laid aside his royal robes and humbled himself, and plead with the people to turn from their wicked ways... and they did. And God heard, and He changed His mind and did not send the evil that had been prophesied. 

You would think that Jonah would be rejoicing, that the people actually listened to his words of warning and they repented. In fact I find it interesting that Israel often did not repent, when judgement and doom was predicted, but this heathen nation DID! What a miracle! Jonah should have been rejoicing. But what does Jonah do? He gets angry at God, because now he [Jonah] feels like he's been made to appear like a false prophet... 

EGW writes: "When Jonah learned of God’s purpose to spare the city that, notwithstanding its wickedness, had been led to repent in sackcloth and ashes, he should have been the first to rejoice because of God’s amazing grace; but instead he allowed his mind to dwell upon the possibility of his being regarded as a false prophet. Jealous of his reputation, he lost sight of the infinitely greater value of the souls in that wretched city." (Prophets and Kings, p. 271)

Jonah was angry, angry that God had mercy upon this heathen nation, angry that he felt like he was a fool...

Ellen White continues: "Once more he yielded to his inclination to question and doubt, and once more he was overwhelmed with discouragement. Losing sight of the interests of others, and feeling as if he would rather die than live to see the city spared, in his dissatisfaction he exclaimed, “Now, O Lord, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (PK 271)

We know what happened to the people in Nineveh... they were given a second chance. But what happened to the prophet Jonah? I find no more reference to Jonah in Scripture after this incident. God could have continued to use him mightily... but it appears the he may have turned inward, and selfishly turned away from the ministry  God had for him.

This reminds me of the quote:"The object of all ministry is to keep self out of sight, and to let Christ appear." (1st Selected Messages, p. 155)

When we work for God what is the true object of our ministry? Is it for self or for God? Is our greatest desire the salvation of souls? Or is our greatest desire to preserve and promote self?

Tomorrow's Reading: Micah 1-3 and Ps. 144

Friday, December 14, 2018

Day 348 - Life Lessons from Jonah

Today's Reading: Jonah 1-2 and Revelation 10

Some of the stories in the Bible are pretty downright crazy... and if it wasn't the Bible, how could you believe such a tale? Of Jonah being swallowed by a whale... living in a whale for 3 days in the ocean, and living to tell about it? I mean... think of the horror of that experience... It probably would be like swimming in a sewage tank... dank... foul... dark... with all kinds of dead fish and garbage that fish might eat... just staying afloat inside that fish and breathing seems like it would have been a chore. No light, no fresh air... no drinking water? I mean seriously... think about the logistics of this story... It's really unbelievable! And yet... IT REALLY HAPPENED! Jonah lived to tell the story... 

As I look at this story I'm reminded of this thought:

"Natural impossibilities do not prevent the working of Omnipotence!" 

So why did God go to such great lengths to save Nineveh... Here's some more words from Inspiration:
In the time of its temporal prosperity Nineveh was a center of crime and wickedness. Inspiration has characterized it as “the bloody city, ... full of lies and robbery.” In figurative language the prophet Nahum compared the Ninevites to a cruel, ravenous lion. “Upon whom,” he inquired, “hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” Nahum 3:1, 19.  
Yet Nineveh, wicked though it had become, was not wholly given over to evil. He who “beholdeth all the sons of men” (Psalm 33:13) and “seeth every precious thing” (Job 28:10) perceived in that city many who were reaching out after something better and higher, and who, if granted opportunity to learn of the living God, would put away their evil deeds and worship Him. And so in His wisdom God revealed Himself to them in an unmistakable manner, to lead them, if possible, to repentance. 
The instrument chosen for this work was the prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai. To him came the word of the Lord, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me.” Jonah 1:1, 2.  
As the prophet thought of the difficulties and seeming impossibilities of this commission, he was tempted to question the wisdom of the call. From a human viewpoint it seemed as if nothing could be gained by proclaiming such a message in that proud city. He forgot for the moment that the God whom he served was all-wise and all-powerful. While he hesitated, still doubting, Satan overwhelmed him with discouragement.
Had the prophet obeyed unquestioningly, he would have been spared many bitter experiences, and would have been blessed abundantly. Yet in the hour of Jonah’s despair the Lord did not desert him. Through a series of trials and strange providences, the prophet’s confidence in God and in His infinite power to save was to be revived. (Prophets and Kings, p. 265-266)
When God calls, it's wise we obey! And that's all the more I have to say...

Tomorrow's Reading: Jonah 3-4 and Revelation 11

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Day 347 - Deceived by Pride

Today's Reading: Obadiah and Ps. 142-143

I find this passage in Obadiah sobering: "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee..." vs. 3

So what is going on in this short book of Obadiah?

This book is a prophecy against the nation of Edom. Edom was a nation directly descended from Esau, brother of Jacob. In this short book, Obadiah references an incident where the Edomites not only refused to help their "brother" nation when a foreign nation invaded Jerusalem, but they also rejoiced at the disaster coming upon Jerusalem. In fact, they even aided the attackers. Because Edom opposed the descendants of Jacob, God sent Obadiah to proclaim their coming destruction with a promise that Israel would eventually posses the land of Edom. In Hebrews 12:16-17 we see Esau's inability to change his fate after trading his birthright for a meal. Here in Obadiah, we see the inability of Esau's descendants to change their fate after trading their brotherhood with Israel for the spoils of war.

So what God prophesied came true... what an unwise move to fight against the chosen people of God.  How could Esau have known that his rash move of giving up his birthright and despising the things of God. Esau was full of pride, he thought he was fine to gratify his flesh and give up his birthright. But this decision, as well as his decision to war against his brother, would affect his generations for centuries... until the end of time. No sin is of small consequence with God.

Tomorrow's Reading: Jonah 1-2 and Revelation 10

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Day 346 - No More Tears!

Today's Reading: Amos 9 and Revelation 9

The last few days we've been reading about the opening of the seals and the trumpets sounding in Revelation. And now we hear in Revelation 9 about the plagues coming upon those who have NOT the mark of God in their forehead. Revelation 9:6 says, "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."

And still, despite the plagues being poured out... there is no repentance... It's hard to imagine such a day, and yet that is the day we are preparing for even now. People are becoming so hardened in sin, so hardened in their vice, that their consciences have been seared with a hot iron, and despite the judgements of God falling upon them, there is no remorse for sin.

But I want to back up and comment on a verse that I missed in earlier chapters.

Revelation 7:14-17. Here we see described a people who have been through tribulation and suffering but have come out conquerors.

"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his templed: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more: neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

What comfort for us today!

I love the following passage from Inspiration:
In all ages the Saviour’s chosen have been educated and disciplined in the school of trial. They walked in narrow paths on earth; they were purified in the furnace of affliction. For Jesus’ sake they endured opposition, hatred, calumny. They followed Him through conflicts sore; they endured self-denial and experienced bitter disappointments. By their own painful experience they learned the evil of sin, its power, its guilt, its woe; and they look upon it with abhorrence. A sense of the infinite sacrifice made for its cure humbles them in their own sight and fills their hearts with gratitude and praise which those who have never fallen cannot appreciate. They love much because they have been forgiven much. Having been partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they are fitted to be partakers with Him of His glory. (Great Controversy, p. 649)
What a contrast! We suffer... but we are purified through suffering! And one day, all tears will be wiped away. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow's Reading: Obadiah, Ps. 142-143

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Day 345 - Broken

Today's Reading: Amos 7-8 and Revelation 8

Broken.... that's what I see in these chapters.... "And I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations..." (Amos 8:10)

God's people are broken, the wicked are broken... but it is in God's mercy that we are broken now so that we don't have to be broken at the end of time...

This post is late... almost a day late... because I too am broken. It's interesting that this weekend I preached a message on "Brokenness: Our Greatest Need." Because unless we are broken and recognize our desperate NEED of Christ, He cannot save us! However, these last several days I've been going through different phases of my own "broken."

For starters, I re-injured my back, and have been in severe pain since Monday morning, so much so that I could hardly walk and had to leave work (I shouldn't have gone in to work to start with, but I tried!) So once I got home, I spent the rest of Monday as well as much of Tuesday on an ICE pack in bed. I felt broken physically and incapacitated. I'm not sure if the back spasms and pain had anything to do with the big load of firewood I brought home this weekend. I wanted to do something special as a surprise for the family that I live with... and someone was giving away free firewood, so I went and loaded up the back of my van with firewood, and then came and unloaded it all--all alone! I didn't feel pain at the time... I thought I was strong enough. But I guess now I'm paying the price for that firewood.

Then as I was laying in bed Monday (yesterday) morning feeling like I have a knife in my back, my best friend calls me broken and weeping... her mother has just died. We all knew it was coming, but still... it's never easy when it happens. Our mothers were both diagnosed with cancer at the same time. We wept together and prayed together... While we have hope, it's still hard to say goodbye.

But that hasn't been the only death this week. On top of that, another friend died Sunday evening... from breast cancer. She put up a valiant fight, for almost three years. But cancer won! And I just found out this evening, Tuesday evening, that another long-term family friend died. That's three friends in three days that have gone to their rest. We are broken living in a broken world... we suffer the ravages of a world that is broken...  and we are broken as a result.

Needless to say, I feel broken... on multiple levels right now. Like the merriment of the holidays has been turned into mourning... and pain. But I praise the Lord for the promise that He will one day wipe away all tears from our eyes and all pain and suffering and death will be no more... Pain is a good thing. It reminds us that we are alive and we still feel... It protects us, it drives us to the cross. So this has been a difficult couple days, but it's okay to be broken. God mends broken bodies and broken hearts... and He will mend ours. And I'm okay... because I have Him! But if I'm running behind on my postings for a few days, you all will know why...

Tomorrow's Reading: Amos 9 and Revelation 9

Monday, December 10, 2018

Day 344 - It's all HIM!

Today's Reading: Amos 5-6 and Revelation 7: 

Today I was struck with several things from both Amos and Revelation. In Amos I was sobered by how God tells the children of Israel, "I despise your feast days. I will not accept your burnt offerings and sacrifices." And we find that it is because the people are living in hypocrisy. The sacrifices that they are making are more a hollow form, but there's no inner holiness, no living connection. Made me wonder how often we today offer sacrifices of form that God turns away from because of the hypocrisy of our lives. Very sobering thoughts...

But what I really loved today was in Revelation 7, where we see the Mark of God put upon His servants. And at long last they are all gathered around His throne, "A great multitude which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues and people."

Referencing this grand event when God's people are finally all together around the throne, Ellen White writes the following:
Nearest the throne are those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan, but who, plucked as brands from the burning, have followed their Saviour with deep, intense devotion. Next are those who perfected Christian characters in the midst of falsehood and infidelity, those who honored the law of God when the Christian world declared it void, and the millions, of all ages, who were martyred for their faith. And beyond is the “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, ... before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Revelation 7:9. Their warfare is ended, their victory won. They have run the race and reached the prize.

The redeemed raise a song of praise that echoes and re-echoes through the vaults of heaven: “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Verse 10. And angel and seraph unite their voices in adoration... In all that shining throng there are none to ascribe salvation to themselves, as if they had prevailed by their own power and goodness. Nothing is said of what they have done or suffered; but the burden of every song, the keynote of every anthem, is: Salvation to our God and unto the Lamb. (From the Great Controversy, p. 665)
I love that last couple sentences... NONE ascribe power to themselves, none mention what they have done or suffered, all glory all credit goes to the Lamb that was slain. When we finally get to heaven we will realize, we had nothing to do with getting there-- it's all about Him! Wow!! Praise the Lord! How I look forward to that grand gathering. How I long to be there...

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain...

Tomorrow's Reading: Amos 7-8 and Revelation 8

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Day 343 - Blessings Bestowed, Blessings Removed!

Today's Reading: Amos 3-4 and Ps. 140-141

In Amos 4 we see the Lord's judgements upon Samaria... and His repeated appeal for them to return unto Him. How does He try to get their attention so they will return? Unfortunately the only way it seems is by removing blessings. 

Ellen White explains it this way:

"God speaks to His people in blessings bestowed; and when these are not appreciated, He speaks to them in blessings removed, that they may be led to see their sins, and return to Him with their whole heart." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 470)

Here's His sad removal of blessings from Samaria!

  • I have given you famine of bread... yet you have not returned unto me, says the Lord.
  • I have held back the rain from you...yet you have not returned unto me...
  • I have smitten you with blasting and mildew and your gardens have dried up... yet you have not returned unto me...
  • I have sent pestilence and your young men I have killed... yet you have not returned to me
  • I have plucked some of you as a brand out of the fire... yet you have not returned to me...
Does God have to remove blessings to get our attention? Despite the removal of blessings the people of Samaria still do not return to Him... wow! Can our hearts become this hard? 
"No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven."  (Desire of Ages, p. 555)
Let us pray that we would have an ear that is soft to the promptings of His Spirit, that He will not have to take drastic measures in our life to get our attention... May our repentance work reformation, lasting reformation, for God's glory.

Tomorrow's Reading: Amos 5-6 and Revelation 7

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Day 342 - We all have a Work to do for God!

Today's Reading: Amos 1-2 and Revelation 6

Good morning and Happy Sabbath! As we start the book of Isaiah, we see more of God's judgements... God's judgements upon Damascus, upon Gaza, upon Tyre, upon Edom, upon Ammon, upon Moab, upon Judah, upon Israel...

But what I will focus on in my brief thoughts today is the spokesmen God uses this time. It's a man named Amos, who was a herdsmen of Tekoa. As we see, time and time again, God speaks thru many different people and many different types of characters.

Ellen White writes:
In giving light to His people anciently, God did not work exclusively through any one class. Daniel was a prince of Judah. Isaiah also was of the royal line. David was a shepherd boy, Amos a herdsman, Zechariah a captive from Babylon, Elisha a tiller of the soil. The Lord raised up as His representatives prophets and princes, the noble and the lowly, and taught them the truths to be given to the world. 
To everyone who becomes a partaker of His grace the Lord appoints a work for others. Individually we are to stand in our lot and place, saying, “Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8. Upon the minister of the word, the missionary nurse, the Christian physician, the individual Christian, whether he be merchant or farmer, professional man or mechanic—the responsibility rests upon all. It is our work to reveal to men the gospel of their salvation. Every enterprise in which we engage should be a means to this end. 
Those who take up their appointed work will not only be a blessing to others, but they will themselves be blessed. The consciousness of duty well done will have a reflex influence upon their own souls. The despondent will forget their despondency, the weak will become strong, the ignorant intelligent, and all will find an unfailing helper in Him who has called them. (Ministry of Healing, p. 148)
So we all have a work to do for the Lord. Each work may be different. But if we are willing, God can use us. Today He's given me the task to give the divine message to my local congregation here in Maryland. I don't relish preaching... never have... it's a struggle for me every time... but I know God has called me to speak and share my testimony and also call people to a higher standard. So please pray that God will speak thru my words today and that He will be glorified. Can't believe this Bible reading for the year is almost over... 

What a blessing these readings have been, although I'm already looking forward to taking more time to go back and do some deeper digging and study. 

Tomorrow's Reading: Amos 3-4 and Ps. 140-141

Friday, December 07, 2018

Day 341 - The Lion and the Lamb

Today's Reading: Joel 3 and Revelation 5

I like how the two readings compliment one another today... In Joel 3 we see the promise that the Lord will rescue His people. Joel 3:16 says, "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."

It's a scary time for the wicked... at this time, they are going to cry for the rocks to fall on them... but for the righteous and redeemed, the Lord will be their hope and safety. He will deliver! So beautiful!

Ellen White talks about this serious and dreadful day when all the earth will shake:
Never since man was created had there been witnessed such a manifestation of divine power as when the law was proclaimed from Sinai. “The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.” Psalm 68:8. Amid the most terrific convulsions of nature the voice of God, like a trumpet, was heard from the cloud. The mountain was shaken from base to summit, and the hosts of Israel, pale and trembling with terror, lay upon their faces upon the earth. He whose voice then shook the earth has declared, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” Hebrews 12:26. Says the Scripture, “The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation;” “and the heavens and the earth shall shake.” Jeremiah 25:30; Joel 3:16. In that great coming day, the heaven itself shall depart “as a scroll when it is rolled together.” Revelation 6:14. And every mountain and island shall be moved out of its place. “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” Isaiah 24:20. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 340)
Switching to Revelation 5, I was smiling as I read about the Lord being a Lion and a Lamb. Again, reading the words from Inspiration, helps bring this chapter to greater clarity. Regarding the lion and the lamb, she writes:
The Saviour is presented before John under the symbols of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and of “a Lamb as it had been slain.” Revelation 5:5, 6. These symbols represent the union of omnipotent power and self-sacrificing love. The Lion of Judah, so terrible to the rejectors of His grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of fire that speaks terror and wrath to the transgressor of God’s law is a token of light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept His commandments. The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Everyone who is faithful will be saved. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 589)
Praise the Lord for this encouragement. We should memorize these passages and these verses for the coming days of trouble...

Tomorrow's Reading: Amos 1-2 and Revelation 6

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Day 340 - Time to Rend our Hearts

Today's Reading: Joel 1-2 and Psalm 139

The chapters are whizzing by so quickly, I can hardly keep up... let alone get into them with much depth. However, I'm always convicted afresh as I read Joel 1-2 and Psalm 139.

In both places we see the call to serious heart searching...

"Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who fnoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" (Joel 2:12-17)

Ellen White writes:

"To prepare a people to stand in the day of God, a great work of reform was to be accomplished. God saw that many of His professed people were not building of re eternity, and in His mercy He was about to send a message of warning to arouse them from their stupor and lead them to make ready for the coming of the Lord." (Great Controversy, p. 311)

But the fast God is calling us to is not in order to afflict the body for the sin of the soul, but rather to aid us in perceiving the grievous character of sin, in humbling the heart before God and receiving His pardoning grace... I always find that when I fast, my mind is more clear, my thinking more clear and I am aware of things I wasn't noticing before... That's why we should fast... to retune our spiritual sensitivities to God.

Psalm 139:23,24 says: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (This is my prayer!)

Tomorrow's Reading: Joel 3 and Revelation 5

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Day 339 - And there was a Rainbow...

Today's Reading: Hosea 13-14 and Rev. 4

Today in Revelation 4, we see a description of God's throne... This verse really spoke to my heart today...

"And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." (Rev. 4:3)

And there was a rainbow...

Think about the RAINBOW... it was one of the first special signs that God gave Noah and his family after the flood... a reminder of His promise, of His covenant, that He would never again send a flood upon the earth. A promise of His mercy and love...

Let's look back at God's promise in Genesis briefly...

"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." (Gen. 9:13-16)

Did you notice, God isn't saying, "When you see the rainbow it will remind you..." No. He actually says, "When I look upon it (from heaven), I will remember my covenant with you..."

When I was a kid, I use to love rainbows... and things with rainbows on them. But now, because of the new stigma attached to rainbows, unless it's painted in the sky, I stay away from rainbows... Isn't it sad how the enemy has taken the "sign of God's covenant" and used it as motto to say: "We forget You God, we mock Your face, we don't care about You, about Your covenant or anything in Your Word...we will live life as we please..." And yet... even still... God keeps painting His more glorious rainbow in the sky and He continues to say, "You may have forgotten me, but I have not forgotten you. You may blaspheme my laws, my commandments, but my arm of mercy is stretched out still..." Wow! Almost just brings tears to my eyes just writing these thoughts. As long as we see the rainbow, His arm is stretched out still... There is still hope.

Ellen White writes the following about the rainbow:
The rainbow spanning the heavens with its arch of light is a token of “the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature.” Genesis 9:16. And the rainbow encircling the throne on high is also a token to God’s children of His covenant of peace.  
As the bow in the cloud results from the union of sunshine and shower, so the bow above God’s throne represents the union of His mercy and His justice. To the sinful but repentant soul God says, Live thou; “I have found a ransom.” Job 33:24.  (Education, p. 115)
Let us look to the rainbow of God's mercy and live!

Tomorrow's Reading: Joel 1-2 and Psalm 139

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Day 338 - Neither Hot nor Cold...

Today's Reading: Hosea 11-12 and Revelation 3

I'm always very sobered when I read again about the church of Laodicea... The Bible tells us, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knows not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" (Rev. 3:15-17)

What somber words... especially because this is the church of today...
The True Witness says of a cold, lifeless, Christless church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16). Mark the following words: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Here is represented a people who pride themselves in their possession of spiritual knowledge and advantages. But they have not responded to the unmerited blessings that God has bestowed upon them. They have been full of rebellion, ingratitude, and forgetfulness of God; and still He has dealt with them as a loving, forgiving father deals with an ungrateful, wayward son. They have resisted His grace, abused His privileges, slighted His opportunities, and have been satisfied to sink down in contentment, in lamentable ingratitude, hollow formalism, and hypocritical insincerity. With pharisaic pride they have vaunted themselves till it has been said of them, “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Verse 17). 
Has not the Lord Jesus sent message after message of rebuke, of warning, of entreaty, to these self-satisfied ones? Have not His counsels been despised and rejected? Have not His delegated messengers been treated with scorn, and their words been received as idle tales? Christ sees that which man does not see. He sees the sins which, if not repented of, will exhaust the patience of a long-suffering God. Christ cannot take up the names of those who are satisfied in their own self-sufficiency. He cannot importune in behalf of a people who feel no need of His help, who claim to know and possess everything. 
The great Redeemer represents Himself as a heavenly merchantman, laden with riches, calling from house to house, presenting His priceless goods, and saying, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:18-20). – (FW 83-84)
Oh that we would ask God to help us escape from Laodicean wilderness Christianity... that we would become either hot or cold... that we would put away all pretense and seek after HIM with all our hearts, that we would know Him that we can share Him. This is my prayer today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 13-14 and Revelation 4

Monday, December 03, 2018

Day 337 - Warnings from the church at Ephesus

Today's Reading: Hosea 9-10 and Revelation 2

In today's reading, I'm inspired afresh as I see God's letter to the churches. Today we see Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira being addressed. So much depth in each one...

I've studied this in the past in depth, but desire to do this again as I haven't looked at Revelation for awhile... And in this day and age, we really should be studying this book, the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" to the churches.

The Bible says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches..."

I believe these letters are quite significant for our life today... Just reading in Acts of the Apostles, let me share a few thoughts about the church of Ephesus that brings conviction to my heart today:
"At the first the experience of the church at Ephesus was marked with childlike simplicity and fervor. The believers sought earnestly to obey every word of God, and their lives revealed an earnest, sincere love for Christ. They rejoiced to do the will of God because the Saviour was in their hearts as an abiding presence. Filled with love for their Redeemer, their highest aim was to win souls to Him. They did not think of hoarding the precious treasure of the grace of Christ. They felt the importance of their calling; and, weighted with the message, “On earth peace, good will toward men,” they burned with desire to carry the glad tidings of salvation to earth’s remotest bounds. And the world took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Sinful men, repentant, pardoned, cleansed, and sanctified, were brought into partnership with God through His Son. 
"The members of the church were united in sentiment and action. Love for Christ was the golden chain that bound them together. They followed on to know the Lord more and still more perfectly, and in their lives were revealed the joy and peace of Christ. They visited the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and kept themselves unspotted from the world, realizing that a failure to do this would be a contradiction of their profession and a denial of their Redeemer.  
"In every city the work was carried forward. Souls were converted, who in their turn felt that they must tell of the inestimable treasure they had received. They could not rest till the light which had illumined their minds was shining upon others. Multitudes of unbelievers were made acquainted with the reasons of the Christian’s hope. Warm, inspired personal appeals were made to the erring, to the outcast, and to those who, while professing to know the truth, were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. 
"But after a time the zeal of the believers began to wane, and their love for God and for one another grew less. Coldness crept into the church. Some forgot the wonderful manner in which they had received the truth. One by one the old standard-bearers fell at their post. Some of the younger workers, who might have shared the burdens of these pioneers, and thus have been prepared for wise leadership, had become weary of oft-repeated truths. In their desire for something novel and startling they attempted to introduce new phases of doctrine, more pleasing to many minds, but not in harmony with the fundamental principles of the gospel. In their self-confidence and spiritual blindness they failed to discern that these sophistries would cause many to question the experiences of the past, and would thus lead to confusion and unbelief.  
"As these false doctrines were urged, differences sprang up, and the eyes of many were turned from beholding Jesus as the Author and Finisher of their faith. The discussion of unimportant points of doctrine, and the contemplation of pleasing fables of man’s invention, occupied time that should have been spent in proclaiming the gospel. The masses that might have been convicted and converted by a faithful presentation of the truth were left unwarned. Piety was rapidly waning, and Satan seemed about to gain the ascendancy over those who claimed to be followers of Christ. (pp. 578-580)
I've bolded the significant part of the reading above...

Let us take the warning of Ephesus to our own heart today.

Lord help us not to repeat the mistakes of Ephesus. Let us not grow cold and weary with the message, looking for some "new" pleasing doctrine...

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 11-12 and Revelation 3 

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Day 336 - Audience with Christ

Today's Reading: Hosea 7-8 and Ps. 137-138

I'm always inspired afresh of our need for greater humility when I read God's Word. Listen to today's encouragement:

"Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." (Ps. 138:6)

Who gains entrance to the heavenly courts? Who gains audience with the King of Kings? If you think you deserve God's blessing, if you think you deserve His ear, or if you've earned your right to be answered, that's scary business. But if you don't feel worthy, that means YOU have an audience and He bends low to hear you!

Ellen White writes:

"[Who] will gain a passport to the heavenly courts... the poor in spirit, who crave the presence of an abiding Christ, the humble in heart, whose highest ambition is to do God's will--these will gain an abundant entrance. They will be among that number who have washed their robes and made them white in the blog of the Lamb."(Desire of Ages, p. 301)

I guess we can't emphasize this topic enough... Oh Lord, forgive us for our proud spirit, for our false humility. Give us hearts after You. Give us true humility!

[Apologies for the late postings. It seems these last few weeks I've been struggling getting my Bible blogging posts up on time! This is the last month and I want to finish strong, so I'm sorry for dropping the ball on this... May God help us to finish strong!] 

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 9-10 and Revelation 2

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Day 335 - Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge

Today's Reading: Hosea 3-6 and Revelation 1

In today's reading, the life and drama of Hosea and his adulterous wife continues... so sad, and yet it is a picture of Israel, and it is a picture of much of the Christian world today. We profess to love the Lord, but we are living in love with the world. Lord have mercy.

Whenever I read Hosea 4:6, I am always sobered...

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children."

This caused me such pain as I think of those, even those I love, who are being destroyed today for lack of knowledge, especially lack of knowledge about God.  

What is the beginning of knowledge? Prov. 1:7 tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." 

Pride, stubbornness, spiritual apathy, complacency, and many other things close our eyes and ears from hearing the truth of God's Word. As one write once said, "Most people don't get much out of the Bible because they've already decided they aren't going to do what it says." 

That's why the appeal in Hosea 6 is so... appealing to my heart today...

"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." (vs. 1-3)

My prayer today: Oh Lord, open our hearts to You and remove the blinders of sin and spiritual compromise from our eyes. May we not reject knowledge, may we not reject You, but wholeheartedly embrace Your calling, Your Word, Your commands in our lives today. Dear Lord, change us. Make us like You! Heal us. Bing up our wounds, come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain upon the earth.

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 7-8 and Psalms 137-138

Friday, November 30, 2018

Day 334 - The Door of Hope

Today's Reading: Hosea 1-2 and Jude

In this morning's reading we begin the book of Hosea. Now I've already been studying Hosea with my Bible study group here in Maryland, and so far my honest estimations of this book are a bit depressing. I would hate to have been the prophet Hosea during this time period in Israel's history... but still, even in these difficult chapters, there are bright spots. And we know that God has the book of Hosea in His Word for a purpose... so it is our goal to discover that purpose.

In today's reading we see God calling Hosea to marry a prostitute, because Israel was committing whoredoms with the land. Israel is the Lord's unfaithful wife, and that's what Hosea is to show by his marriage to a prostitute, how the Lord deals with an unfaithful wife. So Hoseas marries Gomer. Each child that Gomer bares, God gives a specific name to, representing a curse that is to fall on Israel. (Like I said, how depressing)

However, even amidst the curses, there is also light at the end of the tunnel, for there is a promise of reconciliation. I love these verses from chapter 2.

"And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt... And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD... And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." (Hosea 2:15,19-20,23)

Even when it seems things could not get worse, and the curses of heaven are falling all around, I see that there is still hope. He is still a God of mercy. There is a door of hope for those who repent and believe.

Ellen White writes the following:
"In the last days of this earth’s history, God’s covenant with His commandment-keeping people is to be renewed... They will turn from every idol that binds them to earth, and will 'worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.' They will free themselves from every entanglement and will stand before the world as monuments of God’s mercy. Obedient to the divine requirements, they will be recognized by angels and by men as those that have kept 'the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.' Revelation 14:12."  (Prophets and Kings, p. 299)
The Lord is our door of Hope! Let's not hesitate. Let's turn from our sin, from our spiritual compromise and walk through that door of Hope today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 3-6 and Revelation 1

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Day 333 - Be Patient...He Hears our Prayers!

Today's Reading: Daniel 10-12 and Ps. 135-136

Well today's reading assignment was pretty hefty! And I'm not even going to try to delve into any of the deeper meanings or content of Daniel 10-12. The last time I looked in depth at Daniel 11 was probably in high school when we had to write a paper on it. To be honest, it's always seemed above my head... however I will be the first to admit that "it seeming over my head" is no excuse to ignore deeper study. I need to understand these chapters better. In fact, one of my desires and goals in the coming days is to study Daniel and Revelation together in more depth... but it's not going to happen at the moment when I'm on a marathon race through the Bible.

However, even in my superficial reading of these chapters this morning, I was really blessed. As I was reading Daniel 10 today, I was struck by the fact that Daniel prayed 21 days, and when Gabriel finally arrived at Daniel's side the angel told him the following about what had been taking place behind the scenes:

"Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia." (Daniel 10:12-13)

Sometimes we feel like it takes awhile for God to hear our prayers... there is a delay and we just don't know what is happening... we wonder if He is hearing. But in Daniel's story we see that God heard immediately... from the time Daniel set his heart to understand....before he even spoke the words, God heard. However, there is a supernatural battle going on behind the scenes. It's a real battle. We can't see it, but it's still real... and there was a wrestle between Gabriel and the kingdom of Persia (powers of Satan) before Michael (Christ) came to assist in the battle and before they broke through in victory...

So this story gives me great courage and hope when I'm praying for the salvation of loved ones or about the gospel going forward. There may be a delay in our receiving the answer to our prayers, but it's not because God's has not heard. He has heard and He is working now, behind the scenes even in ways that we cannot see. But there's a battle going on. That's why we should not give up until we see the answer come.

In Christ Object Lessons, Ellen White writes the following: "There is no danger that the Lord will neglect the prayers of His people. The danger is that in temptation and trial they will become discouraged, and fail to persevere in prayer." (p. 175)

Tomorrow's Reading: Hosea 1-2 and Jude

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Day 332 - But for Thy Great Mercies...

Today's Reading: Daniel 8-9 and 3 John

Well, in this morning's reading, we have Daniel 8:14, one of the most significant verses for Seventh-day Adventist. But my focus today is not going to be on the "cleansing of the sanctuary," nor on the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 (I'll save that commentary for the scholars) but rather my focus is going to be on Daniel's life and the heart of his prayers. 

Daniel was such an earnest and steadfast man of God... and in Daniel 9 we see a beautiful example of the heart of Daniel as he prayed. Here's just a brief glimpse of that prayer -- but I encourage you to read the whole chapter.

"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land...O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies."

Oh that we could pray like Daniel. We are not worthy, we do not present our supplications for our righteousness sake, but because of thy great mercies...

Interesting side note: If you take time to analyze the full prayer, we see all the components of "United Prayer" in Daniel's prayer: We see praise, worship, confession, supplication, and more praise... beautiful!

I love what Ellen White writes regarding Daniel's life: 
"The prophet Daniel was an example of true sanctification. His long life was filled up with noble service for his Master. He was a man “greatly beloved” (Daniel 10:11) of Heaven. Yet instead of claiming to be pure and holy, this honored prophet identified himself with the really sinful of Israel as he pleaded before God in behalf of his people: “We do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy great mercies.” “We have sinned, we have done wickedly.” He declares: “I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people.” And when at a later time the Son of God appeared, to give him instruction, Daniel says: “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” Daniel 9:18, 15, 20; 10:8. (Great Controversy, p. 470)
May we like Daniel, recognize our littleness and our utter desperate need of our Savior. May we cling to His mercies and claim His mercies. This is our only hope...

Tomorrow's Reading: Daniel 10-12 and Ps. 135-136

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Day 331 - The Danger of Heresies in the Church

Today's Reading: Daniel 6-7 and 2 John

Well, I'm skipping over all the beast stories from Daniel and looking again at 2 John.

As I read today's passages, I see so many similarities to things we face today. Listen to these verses:

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." (2 John 7-10)

Ellen White writes these sobering words:
"John was filled with sadness as he saw these poisonous errors creeping into the church. He saw the dangers to which the church was exposed, and he met the emergency with promptness and decision. The epistles of John breathe the spirit of love. It seems as if he wrote with a pen dipped in love. But when he came in contact with those who were breaking the law of God, yet claiming that they were living without sin, he did not hesitate to warn them of their fearful deception. 
Writing to a helper in the gospel work, a woman of good repute and wide influence, he said: “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: for he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 
We are authorized to hold in the same estimation as did the beloved disciple those who claim to abide in Christ while living in transgression of God’s law. There exist in these last days evils similar to those that threatened the prosperity of the early church; and the teachings of the apostle John on these points should be carefully heeded. “You must have charity,” is the cry heard everywhere, especially from those who profess sanctification. But true charity is too pure to cover an unconfessed sin. While we are to love the souls for whom Christ died, we are to make no compromise with evil. We are not to unite with the rebellious and call this charity. God requires His people in this age of the world to stand for the right as unflinchingly as did John in opposition to soul-destroying errors." (AA 554)
Let us love the souls for whom Christ died, but let us make no compromise with evil! Let us be "Beriens" studying the Word so we will not be deceived.

Tomorrow's Reading: Daniel 8-9 and 3 John

Monday, November 26, 2018

Day 330 - This is the confidence...

Today's Reading: Daniel 4-5 and 1 John 5

So much history and depth in these chapters... but I'm going to focus on one of my favorite passages from 1 John 5 today.

The Bible reads as follows: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hearth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14,15)

So there's a condition given in this verse... it doesn't say we get whatever we ask. It says if we ask anything "according to His Will." 

How do we know God's will?! I guess this is the million dollar question, everyone is asking. This is my thoughts as I study Scripture. 
  • We can know that anything that advances God's Kingdom is according to His will
  • We can know that our experiencing victory over sin is according to God's will
  • We can know that the salvation of souls is according to God's will (although He will not force!)
  • We can know that God being glorified in our lives and relationships is according to His will
  • We can know that anything we are encouraged to do in Scripture is according to His will
Really, the best way to know God's will is to immerse ourselves in His Word, for His Word shares His heart. And as we saturate our mind and our life in His Word, and apply His Word to our life, we will know what He's wanting to do. The Bible says, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it will be done unto you!" So as we abide in Him, and as His Word is internalized in our life... we will be praying prayers according to His will...

Can we know clearly if THIS JOB is the one that we should have? Can we know clearly if THIS MAN or WOMAN is the one we should marry? Can we know clearly if this LOCATION is the place we should live? Not necessarily... in fact I caution people against trying to force God's hand in these areas, or teaching people that if you just have enough faith, God will do it. That's presumption, not faith. But if we pray with open hands, willing for however God leads, praying that He will be glorified, praying that His kingdom will advance, than we can know safely that God will answer that prayer, because it is His will that He be glorified and His will be accomplished in our lives.  

So instead of trying to get God to answer our prayers the way we want, let's focus on getting to know more of God's heart... Then His desires become our desires and we become one with Him!

Tomorrow's Reading: Daniel 6-7 and 2 John

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Day 329 - But if Not... God is still Good!

Today's Reading: Daniel 1-3 and Ps. 132-134

I love the story from Daniel 3 in today's reading. We find Daniel's three friends facing a great dilemma. Nebuchadnezzar has built himself a huge golden image and has commanded that everyone bow down and worship at the sound of the music. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego seem to have missed the cue... They remain standing, and as a result, they should have instantly been killed, but King Nebuchadnezzar gives them another chance... perhaps maybe they did not understand the command or the consequences for disobedience.

So the king gives his directions to them clearly one more time: "Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" (Daniel 3:15)

Look at the challenge he has given to these three men, but especially to their God. I love their brave reply...

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, 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." (Daniel 3:16-18)

These three men, boldly let it be known that their God was able to deliver them from the burning fiery furnace... BUT EVEN IF HE DID NOT DELIVER, they still would not bow down. 

I love this story and it has encouraged me in my own faith in so many ways. In fact, I remember about 17 years ago when one of my closest friends came down with Colon cancer. The prognosis was dismal, and things did not look good. I was crying as I was driving to the hospital to see her. "Why God, did you allow this to happen to her? She doesn't deserve this! She's healthy... she's even vegan. She does everything right. Why does she have cancer? Why is she going to die?" I sobbed out to God that day. And I remember clearly God speaking to my heart, as if a person was right there in the car with me. "Melody, I'm able to deliver. I'm able to heal. I'm able to save her life, just like I saved the life of Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace. But even if I don't save her, will you still trust me?" 

More tears rushed down my face... as I cried out to God. "YES LORD! I will trust You! I know You are able to save her life. I know You can intervene, but even if You don't, I will trust You."

Well, thankfully God did intervene. She had surgery, but God blessed and today 17 years later she is still with us, healthy and strong. But I never forgot the lesson I learned that painful day. It's stuck with me through many years and came to me again 2 summers ago when my own mother was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I know God can spare her life, but even if He doesn't, I will still trust Him! 

So inspiring to read this story again today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Daniel 4-5 and 1 John 5

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Day 328 - A Shore of Inexhaustible Love

Today's Reading: Ezekiel 48 and 1 John 4

In 1 John 4, we are reminded of God's love for us, and the love that He wants us to have for each other. And if we have truly tasted His love, I think it will only be natural for us to reach out in love to others... the problem is, many are professing to be Christians, but I don't think they've truly tasted of His great love, they are not being refilled daily with His love, for there is very little love in their hearts for others. We can't give what we don't have. We must stay at Jesus feet, drink deeply of all that He has to give, and drink some more, for we are leaky vessels. If we walk apart from Him, we will run dry...

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that liveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that liveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:7-12)

I love the following thought, written in the margin of my Bible, from the pen of Inspiration:

"In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us. We consider His life on earth, His sacrifice for us, His work in heaven as our advocate, and the mansions He is preparing for those who love Him, and we can only exclaim, O the height and depth of the love of Christ! “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 4:10; 3:1. In every true disciple this love, like sacred fire, burns on the altar of the heart. It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. It is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives. Thus sinners will be led to the cross to behold the Lamb of God. (Acts of the Apostles, 334)

I love lingering of the shore of His inexhaustible love...

Tomorrow's Reading: Daniel 1-3 and Ps. 132-134

Friday, November 23, 2018

Day 327 - The River of Healing

Today's Reading: Ezekiel 46-47 and 1 John 3

In today's reading we learn about a river of healing that is to flow throughout the world. Listen to this vision of Ezekiel...

"Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh." (Ezekiel 47:8-9)

I didn't understand exactly what was happening here until I read the following from Ellen White. 
"Wonderful is the work which the Lord designs to accomplish through His church, that His name may be glorified. A picture of this work is given in Ezekiel’s vision of the river of healing: “These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live:... and by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Ezekiel 47:8-12.

From the beginning God has wrought through His people to bring blessing to the world. To the ancient Egyptian nation God made Joseph a fountain of life. Through the integrity of Joseph the life of that whole people was preserved. Through Daniel God saved the life of all the wise men of Babylon. And these deliverances are as object lessons; they illustrate the spiritual blessings offered to the world through connection with the God whom Joseph and Daniel worshiped. Everyone in whose heart Christ abides, everyone who will show forth His love to the world, is a worker together with God for the blessing of humanity. As he receives from the Savior grace to impart to others, from his whole being flows forth the tide of spiritual life." (Acts of the Apostles, p. 13)
 Beautiful! May we be a channel through which God's healing hand can touch those around us. May we, as we abide in Him, be that river of blessings to the world...

[No internet access, thus the late postings here! Enjoying some time this weekend with my family!]

Tomorrow's Reading: Ezekiel 48 and 1 John 4

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Day 326 - I am their Inheritance!

Today's Reading: Ezekiel 44-45 and Ps. 129-131

I love this simple thought in Ezekiel 44. And that is that God is our inheritance!

The context is that in Ezekiel 44, God is giving instructions to the Levites, as they are set apart:

"And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord GOD." (vs. 27)

And then God's Word gives this beautiful statement of promise for the Levites. 

"And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession." (vs. 28)

Now, I know that this is written to the Levites, but seriously... isn't this a beautiful gift God has given them. HE is their possession. He is their inheritance. How much better can it get for us today as Christians? 

There's a beautiful song by Fernando Ortega that I just love... "Give me Jesus." That is the cry of my heart today! 

Truly He is our inheritance and our possession. We can lose everything else... and many have already. But still in Him, we are blessed. So many many blessings! And our reward is coming! 

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Tomorrow's Reading: Ezekiel 46-47 and 1 John 3

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Day 325 - To Know means Obedience in Love!

Today's Reading: Ezek 42-43 and 1 John 2 

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." (1 John 2:3)

As I read today's passage in 1 John, I think of what it means to be in a love relationship with another. If we love them, we are going to naturally want to do what pleases them, what they ask us to do, what makes them happy... that's evidence of our love. And the same is with our relationship with God. If we truly love Him, we will follow what He asks us to do. We will keep His commandments...

Ellen White writes: "A mere profession of discipleship is of no value. The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” they say, “and you need not keep the law.” But a belief that does not lead to obedience is presumption. The apostle John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them." (Mount of Blessings, p. 146)

The Bible goes on:

"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." (1 John 2:5-6)

[Glad to finally be with my family again in Arkansas... Just flew home Monday, which means I kinda fell off the bandwagon this morning getting my blog posted... forgive me! But praise the Lord for a breath of fresh air in the Ozarks. I still am working during this time at home, but at least I can be with my family when I'm not working. God is good.]

Tomorrow's Reading: Ezekiel 44-45 and Ps. 129-131