Wednesday, August 31, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #10, September 3, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Won Their Confidence
September 3, 2016

Praise God for this quarter's Sabbath School lessons on reaching the poor, the wealthy, the disadvantaged, homeless, outcasts and otherwise who must be allured with "this most precious message." It is a given that we can never reach them unless God fills our hearts with His unconditional, changeless, self-denying, self-sacrificing love (Agape).

You and I are the church.  Jesus and the Father, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in latter rain power, can only lighten the world with His glory as you and I minister to individuals in our circle of influence with the good news. Then together, as a church, we will reach the world for Jesus. He said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14)

Ellen White comments, "The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of the ministry". (Christian Service p. 68)

Jesus will still win the confidence of sinners, "When we love the world as He loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven, for we have heaven in our hearts" (DA 641). (I highly recommend reading the whole chapter: "The Least of These My Brethren"). If each of us wins one to Christ each year and those win one each year, the work will soon be finished.

~Jesus through Lloyd Knecht (Edited)

Friday, August 26, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 August 27, 2016

INSIGHT #9 AUGUST 27, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Ministered to Their Needs
August 27, 2016

Do you have needs right now? Sure you do; we all do. Our family serendipitously encountered a bird caught in what appeared to be a thin fish-line enmeshing its foot and entangling it in a bush where feral cats could have easily made a meal of it. Its struggle was its greatest argument to corral help from us. Freeing it was an exercise in triage, negotiation, and teamwork. We delicately approached it and it submitted to our advances. It was with glee that it left it's nestled cocoon of our daughter's hand and flew off into the olive tree towards the sunset.

God is wanting to do that for each of us. Every challenge that you face has been triaged by Him. (1 Cor 10:13) Jairus was with Jesus when his daughter died. He came to Jesus and instructed Him as to how to heal his daughter. Jesus did not chide him with a theological treaty on healing. Rather, He allowed a woman with an issue of blood to demonstrate His power. As Pastor Henry Wright once said: "Jairus wanted healing for his daughter when Jesus had a resurrection in mind".

Many times our needs intensify even in the presence of Jesus; they go from bad to worst. Don't give up. Join your weakness to His strength. It takes nothing less than resurrection power for Jesus to deliver us from any trial or situation; believing in His Word.
Here is what Elder Waggoner says: "The raising of the son of the widow of Nain, and of the daughter of Jairus, are instances of the lifegiving power of the Word of Christ. To the first, Jesus said, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." (Luke 7:15) To the other, He said, "Maid, Arise." (Luke 8:54) In both instances life was instantaneous. The signs were done that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing we might have life through His name. (John 20:31) They were done that we might see how easily Jesus can raise us from the deadness of sin to the life of righteousness."

"But some will say that theirs is no ordinary case. They are worse than others, and while they can believe that Jesus might save others who are not so sinful, they think that He cannot save them. They forget that sin is death, whether it be great or small, and that to raise one dead person is just the same as to raise another. In every case it is by the giving of His own life. It is no more difficult for the Lord to give His life to a very wicked person than it is to give it to one who has not sinned so greatly. But He has given us proof of this as well. "We have seen how easily Jesus raised the ruler's daughter and the son of the widow of Nain. They had been dead but a short time. The ruler's daughter died while Jesus was on the way to heal her and could have been dead but a few moments when He arrived. The breath had but just left the body. But now look at the case of Lazarus. He had been dead for days, and had begun to decay. Yet it took no more words from the Lord to bring him from the tomb than it did to raise the others. Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth," and instantly Lazarus came forth alive. So there is no opportunity for one to say that God cannot save any sinner." "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, because He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25) His life is everlasting and without limit. It is a light, which is not diminished by shining. He can give life to the whole world, and still have as much left as at the first."

"The knowledge and the actual appropriation of this is the hope of the resurrection. In that day those who have been dead for thousands of years will hear the voice of the Son of God, and will come forth. But the power that will bring them forth is the very same power that now saves men from the corruption of sin. Thus His Divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and Godliness." Present Truth UK December 29, 1892, p. 402-3

Sometimes resurrections are pleaded for and they don't come. Still don't give up. This week we remember our brother Will Pergerson with somber respect. One year ago the unwanted and unwelcome news arrived by text-message that he had died. What a year it has been with the calm assurance that Jesus is still with us--experiencing what we are feeling. It will be the same power that is saving us from our sin that will resurrect our dear brother and the redeemed of the Ages. Submit to His advances; allow him to untangle you from the web of your seemingly threatening circumstances by relying on His Word and his tender watch-care.

"Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole." Luke 8:50

~Richard Kearns

Friday, August 19, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #8 August 20, 2016

INSIGHT #8 AUGUST 20, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Showed Sympathy
August 20, 2016

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God."

The 1888 message produces obedience, obedience to all the commandments of God. Typically when we think of obedience, we limit our thinking to what we don't do as outlined in the 10 Commandments. But, that is not ALL the commandments of God. In fact, when we limit our thinking to only the external behavior of the 10 Commandments, we are missing what Jesus called the greatest commandment.

"35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt.22:35-40).

So if we are truly experiencing the power of the 1888 message, we will receive the righteousness of Christ, which will manifest itself in obedience to ALL the commandments of God, the greatest of which are Love to God, and Love to Man! This was meant to be the product or result of the preaching and believing the 1888 message. The message of Jones and Waggoner was not meant by God to merely introduce new doctrinal factors into the Seventh-day Adventist fundamental beliefs. The message was meant to produce in us a supreme love for God and a horizontal love for others.

In the life of Jesus, we have the forerunner going before us to show us the way to love God and love others. Jesus "kept the commandments" in, "showing sympathy". This is the practical manifestation of commandment-keeping. If we are not showing sympathy, we are not commandment keepers, and are not recipients of what the 1888 message was and is meant to accomplish.

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27). We frequently focus on "keeping ourselves unspotted from the world", and interpret that as keeping ourselves separate from those in the world. But James is actually giving us a definition of keeping oneself unspotted from the world, and that definition is to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble. The philosophy of the world is to look out for number one – maybe donate to the United Way for a few dollars, or maybe give to the Salvation Army at the mall at Christmas, or maybe even donate online a few hundred dollars when there is a major natural disaster.

But James definition of "showing sympathy", of loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, of keeping oneself unspotted from the influence and attitude of the world, of "obedience to all the commandments of God", is to give priority to the needs of the less fortunate in their individual circumstances by personal visitation and assistance – this is "showing sympathy". That is the fruit of the 1888 message. Anything less than this doesn't do justice to what the result of ATJones and EJ Waggoner's message was meant to accomplish.

"Obedience to all the commandments of God" is showing sympathy to the needs of others in step with Jesus. This will never ever occur by merely greater personal will power or effort. This will only occur as the love of Christ, manifested throughout His life and at Calvary, is discerned and understood and appreciated from the heart. Every other method is self-motivated.

May we appreciate that "obedience to all the commandments of God" is not constituted merely in NOT doing the behaviors listed in the 10 Commandments merely, but in living out the ministry of showing sympathy to others as Christ did. This is and will be the result of truly appreciating and believing the 1888 message.

EJ Waggoner: "A question concerning religious liberty is one that pertains to religion; and where should we go for information concerning religion, except to the Bible? There we learn that "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27.

How can one keep himself "unspotted from the world"? Again we read the answer, in the statement that the Lord Jesus Christ "gave Himself for us, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." Gal. 1:4. Therefore true religion is a religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 12, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 August 13, 2016

INSIGHT #7 AUGUST 13, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Desired Their Good
August 13, 2016

The title of our lesson this week is, "Jesus Desired Their Good".  This statement is true for all people, for all time, in all circumstances, in all the universe.  Jesus is the "exact representation" of the Father, and thus we can know that for all people, for all time, in all circumstances, in all the universe, God desires only good for us, and for everyone – angel, saint, or sinner. 

This is one manifestation of agape.  Agape desire only the good for others.  1Cor.13 tells us that agape hopes all and only good things.  It believes all and only good things.  It keeps no account of wrongs.  Since God is love, we know that this is a revelation of the truth about God – and we see this clearly and definitively lived out in Jesus life.  Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit desire only good for us, and only good for every human being, whether they profess belief in God or not.

"The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses" (Rom.8:26) – so we know that the Holy Spirit is on our side.  "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom.8:31-32) – so we know that God the Father is on our side.  "Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." (Jn.13:1) – so we know that Jesus, God the Son, loves us and is on our side.  So – the whole Godhead is on our side, and desires only our good.

Now perhaps someone may read this who is not a Christian, or not religious, or perhaps an atheist, and agree that God's desiring only their good may be true for the Christian or for the religious person, but certainly not true for an atheist!  But, the Bible tells us that God is, "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34), and that "God shows personal favoritism to no man" (Gal.2:6).  So with this, any man, believer or unbeliever, atheist or agnostic, saint or sinner, save or lost, can have assurance that God desires only their good.

Take courage, it is the love of God, the goodness of God, that convinces us of the opportunity to spend eternity with a God who relates to His creation like this.  The life of Jesus demonstrates that to all people in all places and circumstances, Jesus (God) desires only our good.  This is love.  This is agape.  This is the heart of the 1888 message that God sent to the Seventh-day Adventist church over 100 years ago.  It was not an  abstract argument about the 10 horns in the book of Daniel.  It wasn't an esoteric argument about the law in Galatians.  It was, fundamentally, a presentation of the love and beauty of character that resides in the heart of God and was manifested in the life of Jesus.

If God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, what more could He do to convince us that He desires only and always our good.  Paul recognized this idea that God desires only our good, and articulated it in Rom.8, in terms of agape:
"35 Who shall ever separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . .  37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. 38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

As you try and take in truth that God always and only desires our good – even at the end of the millennium – be blessed by this closing  quote of A.T.Jones about the love of God.

"The power (of love) is the greatest power in the universe. It is the power of God; for "God is love." And being the greatest power in the universe, it is the power bequeathed to the Christian Church for the accomplishment of her mission in the world.

It is the power of love that is represented by the cross of Calvary. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son." And the Son of God so loved the lost human family that he voluntarily descended from his throne of glory to hang as a malefactor upon the instrument of torture and death.

The channel of this power—the channel of love—is self-sacrifice. By self-sacrifice, therefore, the Christian Church is to accomplish her appointed work for mankind. In nothing is self to be exalted or ministered unto. There can be no seeking after earthly power, no grasping for worldly honor or position. The Head of the Church renounced the power, the honor and glory that he had in heaven, and sought none of these upon the earth; and so long as she is directed by her Head, the church will manifest only His spirit and character to the world.

The power of love is the opposite of the love of power. This reversal of the divine principle came about in the early history of the church, and there was a strife in the church as to which should be the greatest. And after many years of this strife, the bishop of Rome—the pope—was elevated to the seat of supreme authority and power, —the power not of love and self-sacrifice, but of authority over men, and of worldly honor. The pope became—what he has ever since continued to be—a mighty factor in politics. And when the church engages now in political strife, she is moved by the same spirit which led the church into politics in the early centuries.

As much of political power as was possessed by the dying Son of God upon the cross, as much of worldly honor and preeminence as was then his, so much and only that may properly be held and exercised by the Christian Church to-day." {September 29, 1898 ATJ, AMS 598}

Friday, August 05, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #6 August 6, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Mingled With The People
August 6, 2016

     This was an interesting week in many respects.  I was privileged to have my food that I bring to work analyzed and inspected by a colleague who first saw the book on my work-space "How Not To Die".  She has subsequently revealed to me that she is facing nodules on her thyroid that is bearing closer inspection and is determined to reason from cause to effect in dealing with this new diagnosis.  
     Mine was also the privilege to spend some pool time with a courteous, yet avowed atheist who happened to arrive just as I was planning to leave the hot-springs that were my retreat for twenty-four hours.  That he initiated and deposited his address and other contact information in my hand before I left is testimony from the Lord's Spirit that we will be mingling again—Lord willing.
     Before leaving the haven of mineral water and largely undisturbed nature I had the unexpected 'intervention' of a brother in Christ who lovingly pointing out a 'kink in my armor' that he had observed over the course of three years.  We prayed and cried together before we parting—thanking God that He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.
      I came to a new appreciation on the humanity of Christ.  He knows what I am going through.  He feels it with me and sends others whom He has healed in the areas that I need healing to chaperone us through our trials. 
The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man; He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man. Yet He was God in the flesh. When we approach this subject, we would do well to heed the words spoken by Christ to Moses at the burning bush, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). We should come to this study with the humility of a learner, with a contrite heart. And the study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field, which will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth. {1SM 244.1}
      Jesus mingled with people.  Ever consider who these people were? There is much encouragement when there are patterns identified in the Bible. It is not by coincidence that Jesus surrounded himself with twelve disciples. They were the same offspring of the motley crew that Moses was instructed to build a Sanctuary in the midst of.  It was for one purpose— "that I may dwell among them"; in other words, "I want to mingle with them on an ongoing basis" But who are the 'them'?  It is the same dysfunctional bunch of Jacob's children as outlined in Genesis 49.
     To go back to Jacob, we find that before he was converted he had a most unlovely disposition, selfish, crafty, deceitful. His sons partook of the same nature, and Pharez, one of the ancestors of Christ (Matthew 1:3; Genesis 38), was born of a harlot. Rahab, an unenlightened heathen, became an ancestor of Christ. The weakness and idolatry of Solomon are proverbial. Of Rehoboam, Ahijah, Jehoram, Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, and other kings of Judah, the record is about the same. They sinned and made the people sin. Some of them had not one redeeming trait in their characters, being worse than the heathen around them. It was from such an ancestry that Christ came. Although his mother was a pure and godly woman, as could but be expected, no one can doubt that the human nature of Christ must have been more subject to the infirmities of the flesh than it would have been if he had been born before the race had so greatly deteriorated physically and morally. This was not accidental, but was a necessary part of the great plan of human redemption, as the following will show:

"For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. [The Syriac version has it, "For he did not assume a nature from angels, but he assumed a nature from the seed of Abraham."] Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:16-18 E.J Waggoner Signs of the Times January 21, 1889 p39.
     Glory to God for such a Redeemer as ours.  Do you have any of the traits that Jacob had before his conversion?  Don't give up.  Have you, like Solomon, turned to frank heathenism after being privy to building the most majestic structure that man has ever laid his eyes on?  Don't give up--hang in there.  God did not give up on Solomon and he has not given up on you and me. When the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law to Redeem those who were under the law. Gal 2:4
     In addition to motive 'mingling' includes method; the 'how' is equally important as the 'why' Jesus mingled. Truth be told, to love those that we mingle with the way Jesus loves them requires 'no common love'. It is easy to love those who think as we do. Who subscribe to a biblical framework that largely has the theological outline of our own. But it takes an extraordinary love, as Arthur Spaulding points out, to transform sons on thunder John and James into winsome sages with applets "the disciple who Jesus loved". It is hardly easy to love selfish, crafty, and deceitful as it is to love the lovable. But here is sage advice that comes from elder Spaulding:

It is the work of the church and of every member of the church to help every other member to increase in goodness and to decrease in badness. The only way in which that can be done is by following the "new commandment" that Jesus gave. 'That you love one another; as I have loved you."
We cannot improve any faulty character by finding fault with it, but we can improve it by giving loving service. We can never criticize anyone into heaven, but we can love one into heaven. It is by love, and not by faultfinding, that Jesus wins. The same means must be used by His disciples to win and up build others. Arthur Spaulding, Brothers of the King p.4
Christ did not banish doubt from Thomas by doubting. He did not thunder at John when John wanted to bring down fire from heaven when insulted. Ours is a Savior who was constantly in contact with His Father in meeting the needs of His erring disciples; just like the father who knew how to win his prodigal son as well as appeal to his compliant rebel.

Oh how we need heavenly wisdom.

      We need this heavenly wisdom in navigating in this 'all or nothing thinking' political season.  How would Jesus relate to those on both sides of the political isle? I believe he would remind us that His kingdom is not of this world. He wants to mingle in such a way that His kingdom will be seen in juxtaposition to the kingdom of this world. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  
       It matters not if you eat or drink--whatever you do to the Glory of God.  I praise the Lord for his leading this past week. I thank him for his sustaining power. I rejoice in His restoring power and delight that mingles with me in my humanity and has not given up on me. I thank Him for the weakness that He has given me to be joined to His strength.   The just shall live by faith.
      For more on how Jesus treated people I highly recommend Arthur Spaulding's Brothers of the King that can be downloaded here for free:

~Ricky Kearns