Saturday, March 03, 2018

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 March 3, 2018

MARCH 3, 2018
As we study our lesson this week it is important to note that an offering is typically made on a voluntary basis.  However, there can still be a variety of motivations for providing an offering.  These could include such reasons as: 1) because it's expected 2) others are doing it 3) it's the "right thing to do"4) a future benefit is expected and so on.  Our focus, however is on offerings motivated by gratitude.
This now raises up another question.  Our gratitude suggests that there is, in fact, something and/or someone that we are grateful for.  Thus, an offering of gratitude is made as a response to that action or person.  It could be something as simple as a tip provided for a decent haircut.  Here, however, our offerings of gratitude should be a response to God's love.
It follows, therefore, that the size of our offerings, whether it is our resources, time, or anything else that we possess will be in direct proportion to the extent of our gratefulness. It will be our picture of God's love and His impact on our lives that will make all the difference!
God's word has been given to us so that we can truly have a more complete understanding of who God is, His character and the infinite unselfish love and complete sacrifice He has made for the entire human race as exemplified in the birth, life, death and resurrection of His Son, our Savior.
As we look at scripture, we see God's love revealed to us everywhere we look and the more we study, the more we see of the depth and breadth of this incredible, undeserved agape love for you and for me.
While we study this week's lesson, now would be a good time to go back and revisit some of your favorite scripture texts revealing God's love in both the Old and New Testaments.  Here are just a few of our favorites:
1 John 4:8-10; "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
God's love is not just an attribute of His character, it is who and what He is, and His very existence is based upon His love!  All other aspects of His character flow from that undying love—His mercy, forgiveness, justice, compassion, kindness, unselfishness, patience, longsuffering, etc. It was His infinite love that resulted in the infinite sacrifice of His son that brought the free gift of salvation to our lost human race!
Jeremiah 31:3-4:  "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with everlasting kindness, I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt,"
Think about it!  These verses tell us that God has loved you and me from the very beginning, before we were conceived, and will always love us—forever, whether or not we choose to be with Him for eternity.  They also contain His promise of our re-creation in His image—we will be rebuilt!
Of course, there are many others:  John 3:16-17; Gal. 2:20; Romans 5: 5,8; the list goes on so please add your own. It can be a list that is always there for you as a reminder of God's love and sacrifice.
God's love was a predominant theme of Ellen White's writings as well, so here are some favorite quotes that we hope you enjoy:
"For the world Christ's sacrifice was made. 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son' John 3:16.  It is through that one gift that every other is imparted to men.  Daily the whole world receives blessings from God.  Every drop of rain, every ray of light shed on our unthankful race, every leaf and flower and fruit, testifies to God's long forbearance and His great love." (COL 301,302).
"But not to any class is Christ's love restricted.  He identifies Himself with every child of humanity.  That we might become members of the heavenly family, He became a member of the earthly family.  He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam.  His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them.  They are a part of the great web of humanity; and Heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints.  The fallen, the erring, and the sinful, Christ's love embraces; and every deed of kindness done to uplift a fallen soul, every act of mercy, is accepted as done to Him." (DA 638)
As we continue to look at our gratitude in response to God's love, we are reminded that God's love, as reflected in His character and His infinite sacrifice is a central theme of the most precious message given to us through Elders Waggoner and Jones.  It is the message that God's last day church is to share with the world…the everlasting gospel in it's fullness!  EGW brings this to our attention in the following statement (TM: pgs.91/92):
"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 Savior, 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.  Many had lost sight of Jesus.  They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family….. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world.  It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."
A.T. Jones, for example, has blessed us with the following quote:
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." The kingdom is not to be gained by our efforts. It is to be given to them that "fear not." Let your mind dwell in prayerful meditation upon the infinite love of God toward you in Christ Jesus. Think of the exceeding great and precious promises, of the Holy Spirit, which dwells in you, of the holy angels that are encamped about you; think of all these blessings and "fear not." Fear not the want of temporal good. He who feeds the ravens, the sparrows, and the beasts, will feed you. "The Lord will provide," is a motto which you may write on every necessary want in life. Fear not the power of Satan. Greater is He that is for you than all that are against you. The mighty God fights our battles; then why should we fear? Fear not that the Lord will forsake you. His love is an everlasting love. He is married to you in Christ. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Having loved you, He will love you "to the end." {August 16, 1898 ATJ, ARSH 524.24}
E.J. Waggoner also points us to God's incredible love as a central theme.  The following statement is one example:
"The fact is that nothing but the love of God can turn a man away from sin. The world was in sin, and God manifested to them His infinite love, in order that they might be able to cease from sin. The fact that some will despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, does not cause Him to withdraw His love, and should not prevent us from dwelling upon it, for the encouragement of any who may want to do God's will. {July 27, 1893 EJW, PTUK 258.6}
But it is not alone by what God requires of us that we may learn what He is anxious to do for us. The death of the Son of God is the pledge of God's infinite love for us, and of His inconceivable desire to cleanse us from sin by the application of His healing forgiveness. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Rom. 8:32. The gift of Christ comprises everything. And trusting in that unspeakable gift, the humblest and most debased sinner may look up from the midst of his sore temptations, and confidently say: - {July 27, 1893 EJW,PTUK 258.7}
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:37-39. {July 27, 1893 EJW, PTUK 258.8}
God's love is surely the reason for our gratitude.  It changes hearts, it changes lives, and it brings with it the free gift of eternal salvation.  As we look at Tuesday's lesson, we see the story of Mary Magdalene, one whose life was truly changed by God's love to the point that Christ Himself says: "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman did will also be spoken as a memorial to her." Mark 14: 9.
Mary had been a woman with no hope, dragged down to the depths of despair by a life of sin and exploitation, possessed by seven demons, and in need of a Savior as we all are.  In Christ, she saw hope, His infinite agape love and finally His forgiveness!  Her faith in her Redeemer was a genuine faith that changed her heart and her life and Jesus, Himself, said to her: "Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace."  Luke: 7:50.
Mary's story is particularly important to us in these last days. Mary followed Jesus wherever He went, her "new" life in Christ reflected His character, and as Jesus said "she did all that she could."  Mary was "all in" for Christ and her belief and faith was an encouragement to Jesus as He was dying for all of us on the cross.
Similarly, in the last days, there will be a group of people, the ''144,000", that "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth .…..In their mouth is found no guile: for they are without fault" Rev. 14: 4,5. Also, "they keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus" Rev. 14:12.
Mary's story is there to inspire us that as we respond to God's infinite agape love and sacrifice, and allow Him to change our hearts and lives, we too may have a genuine faith.  Then, in Christ, and covered by His Righteousness, He will provide us with the strength and power we need for whatever may await us in the troubled times ahead.  Now, there is a reason for gratitude.
Mary Magdalene felt hopeless and useless until Jesus helped her to see how much she was loved by God.  She was important to Jesus and as a lesson for us today.  You and I are just as important to Him today, as He waits for His bride to be ready for the Second Coming.  May we look forward to His soon return with eager anticipation with an attitude of gratitude for what He has already done for us through His love and sacrifice.
Blessings, as you study the lesson this week.
~John and Monica Campbell