Friday, April 20, 2018

“JESUS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION”

SECOND QUARTER 2018
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #3
APRIL 21, 2018
"JESUS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION"
 
            We are told that when we read the book of Revelation we will see something highly significant.  Notice, "The Lord will bless all who will seek humbly and meekly to understand that which is revealed in the Revelation. This book contains so much that is large with immortality and full of glory that all who read and search it earnestly receive the blessing to those "that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." One thing will certainly be understood from the study of Revelation--that the connection between God and His people is close and decided."  {FLB 345.3}
If I were writing a letter to encourage my Christian friends that in the "end-times" God would protect and sustain them, and if I was concerned about strengthening their confidence and faith in God, I would start by projecting an image of distinct power and authority and strength – so they could be sure they'd be safe!  What symbol might I use to project that strength – perhaps a lion, or tiger, or eagle, or elephant, or a bear.  Jesus chose none of those symbols to represent to His end-time people His faithfulness, and the security they can have in Him.
          Twenty-six times in the book of Revelation, John describes the hero on God's side of the great conflict between good and evil - as a lamb!  Why would that be?  And, at the end of the story, the lamb is victorious over the beast and the dragon, the false prophet, the land beast and the sea beast, and every other image of strength that represents Satan's side of the conflict!  Clearly we are meant to understand something relating to the dynamics of winning this conflict that has little if anything to do with physical might and power!
          God gives to Jesus who sends to His angel who reveals to John, a saga whereby victory is consistently on the side of the Lamb, although there are major setbacks throughout the story for the Lamb.  At its most basic level, the battle pits a nonviolent, self-giving Lamb, against a violent, coercive, oppressive superpower represented as a beast supported by the dragon – and the Lamb wins.
          And the decision about who is the winner is repeatedly decided not by a declaration from God by divine fiat or proclamation, but by the vote and testimony of the on-looking observers and participants.  The ultimate decision about the victor is made not by God, but by us, by angels – fallen and unfallen, by everyone on earth, above the earth, and under the earth!  Ultimately, everyone in the universe agrees that the humility, meekness, self-sacrifice, and beauty of the Lamb, represent the kind of ruler they all want at the head of the universe.
          The use of the lamb symbol throughout the book of Revelation – and hence throughout the history of the great controversy – tells us that from the beginning to the end of the controversy, God in His Son has been operating from the basis of self-sacrifice to win this conflict.  The lamb is chosen to represent the principle of the cross that has been in the heart of God forever.  And God is working to win this conflict by persistently and unchangingly maintaining the sacrifice of Himself for the uplifting of His creatures as His only method of operation.
          And, ultimately, as you and I, and all the angels and unfallen universe, and Satan and his angels, and all humanity, sinners and saints alike, discern how God has operated, and who has done what is right in this conflict, we will all agree that God's way, as revealed by His Son the Lamb, is "just and true" (Rev.15:3).  God in Christ the Lamb has been just (fair, impartial, even-handed) and true (honest, trustworthy, faithful) in all His ways and dealings with us, with the lost, and with Satan and his angels.
          Self-sacrificing love (the Lamb's method) will be seen to be the law of life for the universe, and the path that all of us will want to walk for eternity as that will lead to happiness and joy for all.  May we begin to walk on that path resolutely and unswervingly today.
 
~Bob Hunsaker

Friday, April 13, 2018

“DANIEL AND THE END TIME”

SECOND QUARTER 2018
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #2
APRIL 14, 2018
"DANIEL AND THE END TIME"
 
The opportunity to review the history of Daniel is a blessing! Chapter one sets the stage for what is to follow, and the first hurdle for Daniel and his three friends is upon appetite. The pressure brought to bear upon these four young men to eat food from the king's table was great. Captives in a land far from the familiar confines of home, church, and family, Daniel and his friends could easily have rationalized an eating scenario that would accommodate their situation as prisoners. Instead, Daniel "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank" (Daniel 1:8). This decision caused the steward to fear for his life should Daniel and his friends become emaciated. To address this concern, Daniel proposed the ten-day test, and the rest is history.
 
Daniel's choice to be faithful in that which is least enabled God to entrust him with weightier responsibilities, even the revealing of the secret of a pagan king's dream and its interpretation. Over and over again Daniel and his friends were tested. From worshiping the magnificent golden image on the plain of Dura to praying at the customary time, they had to decide: Would they continue to obey God or would they compromise their convictions on worship and prayer in order to avoid persecution? Had they not first surrendered their appetite to God's plan, they might well have failed the later tests.
 
We recently ran a smoking cessation program at our church for smokers. Now we are conducting a weekly weight loss support group. In both these programs we are lifting up Jesus and the promises in the Bible as the only hope for release from addiction. And for nearly all who are struggling to stop smoking or lose weight, the core issue revolves around appetite. For aid in overcoming we point them to Jesus Who in all things was "made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. . . . For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:17, 18).
 
We are living in the final day of atonement when God is seeking to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary and, correspondingly, our body temples from the record of sin and the practice of sin. The health message prepares people to receive other long-lost Bible truths. Without practicing it, people can struggle with doctrines or have difficulty grasping the gospel or the prophecies. Failure to practice these principles led to the resistance by some of the Minneapolis message in 1888.
 
In December of 1888, Sister White wrote: "I believe if our ministering brethren would only read the testimonies that the Lord has graciously given them, that they would reveal a different spirit. God will hold them accountable for neglect and disregard of the light which he has given them. My brother Butler, you have had too many burdens upon you, but I tell you in love that the Lord has not been pleased with the spirit of warfare you have had on health reform. Had you been a health reformer in deed and truth, you would have had much better health and escaped many perils. God has given light upon this subject, but you have worked away from the light, and your influence has been opposed to the work that the Lord would do for this people upon this point. You have stood directly in the way of the work of God in health reform. You have suffered sickness because your habits in eating and in labor have not been according to the light which God has given to His people. I am sorry that I have to write in reference to these things as I do. Had you appreciated and heeded the light which the Lord has given us, you would not now be confused in judgment, and so enfeebled in nerve and brain power. You attribute your sickness to erroneous causes. You put an incorrect interpretation upon many things. You are an erring man, defective in character, and need the grace of God at every step." {1888 192.3}
 
As earth's history draws to a close and Satan's temptations grow more fierce, we have no defense except to be hid in Christ. To accomplish the gospel commission, we must purpose in our hearts as did Daniel to keep our minds clear through observing the laws of health as directed by God. Daniel and his three friends did this, and the Lord preserved them as witnesses.
 
As in Daniel's day, so today a contest is developing between two forms of worship, either to God or self. Babylon's appeal at its core is self-worship. Conversely, in Revelation we read that the last message to be proclaimed to the world is to "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come, and worship Him Who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" Revelation 14: 6, 7.
 
In preparation for this high calling, may we purpose in our hearts as did Daniel not to defile ourselves through the indulgence of appetite.
 
~Patti Guthrie
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, April 06, 2018

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #1 April 7, 2018

SECOND QUARTER 2018
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #1
APRIL 7, 2018
"THE COSMIC CONTROVERSY"
 
The direction for our lessons this quarter – "Preparation for the End Time" – is presented in the quarterly on page 3, paragraph 3, which reads: "This quarter the focus is on the end time, but not totally. The real focus is on Jesus, but in the context of the last days and how to be prepared for them. Yes, we need to look at historical dates, at world events, at history itself, because the Bible talks about them in relation to the end. But even in this context, the Bible talks about Jesus—about who He is, what He has done for us, what He does for us, and what He will do when He does return. Christ and Him crucified must be the center of our faith; or as Paul said: "For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2, NKJV).

Getting to know Christ is preparing for the end time crisis. To know Christ is to receive Him and His righteousness. It is living by faith alone in His promises. The following from Mrs. White is right to the point: "If you would stand through the time of trouble, you must know Christ, and appropriate the gift of His righteousness, which He imputes to the repentant sinner" (RH Nov 22, 1892).

This week, in our first lesson, we observe the beginning of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. This Cosmic Conflict began in heaven by that Cosmic Maniac who attempted to unseat the Governor of the Universe. But he failed in his attempt. Instead he was expelled from his high position in the government of God and was thrown out of heaven. The conflict was relocated on earth after the representative of the promised race chose his wife, Eve who sinned against God, rather than Christ his Creator. Adam in his sin brought rebellion against God into the human race. That war started in heaven continues, without a break on earth, and will come to an end at the termination of the coming millennium when Satan and his combined forces of fallen followers – the untold millions both of angels and the resurrected wicked – will put forth their utmost effort to do on earth what Lucifer failed to accomplish in heaven. But their effort will be futile. The last battle of the war will be as physical as it was in heaven when Satan and those who followed him were physically driven out of Paradise. They did not leave voluntarily. They were thrown out.

We get insights into the Cosmic Controversy by considering the persons and works of Christ and Satan. The angel, Lucifer – the shining son of the dawn, later became ruler of darkness and named Satan the accuser. In the Old Testament book of Zechariah 3:1 we read of Satan bringing accusation against the high priest Joshua. Both the name "Satan" (a noun) and "accuse" (a verb) are from the same root word. Satan is the adversary who accuses mankind of the very evil he causes them to commit. By extension he accuses God who created man. These charges continue in the New Testament. Satan is called "the accuser of our brethren" (Revelation 12:10). The setting here was after Lucifer and those who followed him were compelled to leave heaven. They traveled to earth to do their nefarious work.
Both Jesus and Lucifer came from heaven to planet earth. Lucifer was thrown out; Jesus came voluntarily. And He did so in order to save us.

In Isaiah we get insights into the mind of the fallen Lucifer after being thrown out of heaven. No doubt this was his train of thought while still there. In Isaiah 14: 13-14 the personal pronoun "I" is used by Lucifer five times plus the adjective "my" once for a total of six times in relation to his selfish mind. Here is what he conceived in his corrupted mind:
 
13"For you have said in your heart:
'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.' "
 
In English (NKJV) there are 48 words recorded as used by Lucifer. In Greek (the Septuagint) there are 30 words by him and in the Hebrew language there are 24. In English, the use of personal pronouns is 1 out of 8 words; in Greek it is 1 out of 5 and in Hebrew 1 out of 4 words. Years ago I wrote in the margin of my Bible the following observation by someone writing about mental health (the source of which I neglected to record):

"The use of the terms 'I', 'me' and 'my' used once in 26 words is normal; used once in 12 words is considered abnormal; used once in 7 or 8 words is indicative of a mental problem." This being the case, we may conclude that Lucifer had and continues to have a severe mental problem. He became filled with himself and imagined he was equal with God.

On the other hand, Christ thought it not robbery to be equal with God. This is because He was and is God. Paul reveals this in his letter to the Philippian church. He wrote of the seven steps Christ took when he came to redeem us. These steps are found in chapter 2:6-8.
 
Jesus 6"who, being in the form of God,
did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant,
and coming in the likeness of men.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself
and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
 
Elder A. T. Jones, after presenting several translations of this passage, summarized it, then contrasted the mind of Christ with that of Satan as follows:

"The thought, then, which is expressed in the verses is this: 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be seized upon, to be violently striven for, and eagerly retained with solicitous desire, not a usurpation to be meditated, to be equal with God.' But he was already equal with God. He was already the one whose 'goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.' He was already the one who created all things 'that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.' He was indeed already God, equal with God. What, then, caused his mind to run in this channel, and to think it not a thing to be seized upon, striven for, and eagerly retained, to be equal with God,—in other words, to be that which, by eternal and inalienable right he truly was? Something caused it; and when we discover that, we have the key to the whole situation.

"From the nature of the case, it is evident that on the part of somebody there was a strife, a dispute, as to who ought to be equal with God. It is plain that on the part of someone there was manifested a mind, a disposition, earnestly to desire, to seize upon, and to meditate, a usurpation of such a position,—a position of equality with God. Who was that one? In whom did such a mind manifest itself? Not in Christ Jesus, for the mind that was in him thought no such thing. In whom was it, then? Ah! in that anointed cherub that covered, and who sinned; for the scripture says: 'Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.' Eze. 28:14-17." (A. T. Jones, "The Spirit of Christ as Manifested in His Work for the Salvation of Man," The Home Missionary Extra 3, November, 1891, pp. 7-8).

The devil has been defeated personally by Christ at every turn. After Christ ascended to heaven the devil turned his attention and energy to warring against God's people. This is revealed especially in the book of Revelation (see chapter 12 to 19 and in chapter 20 after the millennium when the devil will be loosed for a season and will think to take the City of God on earth by physical force. In chapters 12 and 13 we learn of apostasy in the Christian Church that will eventually swamp the world. The cruelty performed during the Dark Ages will be put into practice again. This will be generated from within the self-centered egotistical venal mind of Satan and imparted to those under his banner. However, the mind of Christ will again be triumphant over all the forces of evil as it is imparted to His followers. This will be accomplished during the time of the greatest proclamation of the everlasting gospel message of Revelation chapters 14 and 18 experienced and broadcasted by Christ's remnant church during the time when the latter rain will be poured out full strength as the faith of Jesus and the law of God are written so deeply within the minds of God's people "both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved" (MS 173, 1902, 4BC 1161).

In 1852 Mrs. White saw the explosive power of the proclamation of the message of righteousness by faith as it will be. It will be greater than the message of 1844 when, at that time, the everlasting gospel went to "every missionary station in the world" (GC 611). She "saw the latter rain … coming as [suddenly as] the midnight cry, and with ten times the power" (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 5).

So now the question for you and for me is, which side of the "Cosmic Controversy" will we be found? Which side are we on now? Are we letting "the mind" of Jesus into us? or is that self-exalting devilish mind allowed in? The mind of Christ is received through His word which is His thought: "For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought … [is] The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name" (Amos 4:13).
 
~Jerry Finneman

http://www.1888msc.org/article/548/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2018-quarter-2-apr-june/insight-1-april-7-2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #13 March 31, 2018

SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #13
MARCH 31, 2018
"THE RESULTS OF STEWARDSHIP"
 
 
          His words caught me off guard. I am not sure if it was the inflection in his voice or his honest surprise at such decadent wealth, but nonetheless, it caught me. I can still see his face contorted by the quandary before him, "You have two watches?!" In that split second of reactionary time, as soon as the simple Khmae sentence relayed its meaning to me, my American, collector mentality (you can never have enough for an unseen emergency) jumped up within me. As answer after answer exploded from my wounded conscience, vying for the chance to be blurted back, I knew that the still small voice was also whispering. Amidst the clamor of responses, its clarity was deafening. He was right: I had two watches. His temporary surprise became my ongoing uneasiness.

          Living in Cambodia after September 11, 2001, sent to love, serve and even share the gospel of Jesus Christ in a fully Muslim community, surrounded by abject poverty, I had two watches. What did he mean? Ahmad knew my life and my teachings as best as I could explain them at the time. He visited daily to see my family and the way that we lived our lives devoted to God. Together we had traveled to places and he heard me exclaim the need for a heart change in the lives of Christians and Muslims alike. He knew that my ultimate goal in life was to be fully submitted to my God and King. He had heard me SAY all the right things.

          How dare he ask that question about two watches? He didn't know how much we had given up to come here, all that we had turned our backs on to be in his village. Did he realize the income we walked away from? [My self was rising.] He hadn't heard the cries of my daughter before we left the USA as someone purchased her little used, plastic kitchen set and tossed it in their trunk like it was nothing of value. How could he imply that we had too much?

          Yet, that honest question still haunted me.

          Maybe Ahmad just wanted my watch because he didn't have one? Ah yes, my mind began to grasp at the chance of sidestepping conviction with the tried and true trick of comparative judgment. That's it! Was I to tell him about coveting? Oh yes! Defend my right for owning two watches. Easy enough, a guy needs to have one for daily use and then another for the occasional social event that "demands" more than a functional Casio to fit in. Right? Here was a teachable moment to strike deep at the heart and expose that covetousness cancer lurking there. Can you feel the Spirit leading my thoughts, as the missionary sent to teach Ahmad, giving me the discernment to help my brother from this sin? NO. That was not the sin needing to be unearthed.

          Mine went deeper.

          The conviction I felt was striking at the heart of my American culture of "stuff." How much is enough? What do I really "need?" Should the claims of the Bible make any impact on my spending and lifestyle? Now, I realize that lifestyle and wealth are definitely relative to your surroundings. But, the question and conviction remains. If I claim to be part of God's end time people, I must be willing to ask it and test my own culture by Scripture. There should be telltale results in our lives and habits.

          John the Baptist said if you had two coats and you meet a brother that has none, give him yours. Whoa! Do we think that was merely figurative and the principle being expressed is therefore conveniently locked into the time and space of his culture? Could it actually be meant to apply to our shoes, coats, clothes, food, or multiple television sets cluttering our homes!? The line between need and want gets blurred doesn't it?

          Scripture is full of counsel (commands) referencing how we should live our faith with our pocketbook, as we have studied this quarter. Have we forgotten that God wants our convictions to be evident in our lifestyle or have we merely relegated religion to a once or twice a week hobby in the corner of our lives? Stewardship is inclusive of every area of our existence. As the chariot wheel illustrated a few weeks ago in our studies stewardship is where the "rubber" meets the road. All of our claims of faith and end time living are eventually validated or invalidated by our visible life choices.

          Have we truly been changed by the realization that in Christ we have received all things necessary for Godly living (2 Peter 1:1-4)? In Christ we are now joint heirs with Him in the heavenly places (see Ephesians 2), are we living life that way? Has our faith in a loving and compassionate God led us into a settled rest in Him, whether in our worship or our lifestyle (Matt. 6:19-34)? Are we walking this world as children of God, now (1 John 3:1, Rom. 8:12-22)? Have we entered into a life of faith through Christ that literally begins the life eternal, here? Please consider reading chapter 34, the Invitation, in Desire of Ages and be amazed at the life we are invited to. What exceedingly precious promises and realities are available to us! By faith we can live as ambassadors of heaven stewarding the goodness and grace of God for this world.

          Years ago, I shared a thought with a friend that apparently touched her quite deeply; deeply enough that she wrote it in her Bible. I simply said, "I am completely His, not because of me but because of who He is. We are His executors (stewards in our context here) parceling out the Kingdom of God to the world, living it out and sharing heaven's blessings with the world around us." I completely believe that and I believe that has been the point of these studies.

          This quarter has revealed the bigger picture of being the stewards of God's wealth and gifts to humanity. We have now come full circle with the focus being on the results we will experience as we carry God's riches, even the intangible ones like the gospel, into the world to bless them. We are invited into a life of rest, godliness, contentment, and a peace that passes all understanding as we allow God's Spirit to bring us into this amazing life of trusting God in all things. We have all heard, repeatedly that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6), yet we also know that finding people with such true wealth is quite rare. Hypocrisy and show seem to mark most lives and erode them from the inside out. Yet we are called to a life so much better. Our studies have ranged from our finances to our health and abilities, even to the whole way we see the world and our part in it. As we close this quarter consider the personal implications before us.

          Ahmad's words continue to call to me, to us. If I claim to be working with Muslims as a person of the Book, they better be able to see evidence of the Book transforming me. Muslims expect Islam to be all or none – isn't that what Scripture teaches too? If we claim to believe that Jesus is coming soon and that in Him we have passed from death to life; then the world needs to see a change in our living and thinking. This salvation we hold dear needs to be worked out into every aspect of our lives. This is the ongoing life of stewardship, the result of a life hid in Christ.

          Later that day in Cambodia still talking to Ahmad, my conscience re-captured my heart. I then had the joy of teaching my friend how to read a nice, non digital, $30 Dakota Factory watch with a second hand. Watching him walk with a new spring in his step glancing repeatedly to his wrist to check how many seconds had elapsed I imagine he left thinking he had just received a great gift. But, in reality, if he could have heard the lessons that God was giving me, he would have known that I would remember this day far longer than that watch would run. Because that was the day that I became a one watch man.

          By the grace of God and a lot of other powerful lessons of learning to be content in God's guidance and provision, I am still a one watch manparceling out the gifts of heaven to the world around me. Join me in a never ending, glorious life!
 
~Bryan Gallant

http://www.1888msc.org/article/546/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2018-quarter-1-jan-mar/insight-13-march-31-2018