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Amen! These most wonderful truths are presented in the most beautiful writing I've ever read. We are truly blessed to have inspired truth presented in such a beautiful manner! One can never tire readng this.
Amen, Dorine!

I love how we can follow the example of Mary surrounding the birth of Christ. When Christ is born in our hearts by faith, when He abides in us and sheds forth the light of His love in all of the fruits of the Spirit being seen, then indeed well would it be to contemplate and treasure all that Jesus is to us--so we can share Him with others!

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

And I also contemplate the incredible risk our Father took in sending Jesus to be born in this dark world, to come and share our experience in all things but in sin, and to give us power to overcome as we behold His matchless charms, the loveliness of His character, and surrender our hearts fully to Him:

"Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." {The Desire of Ages, page 49, paragraph 2}

What love! My heart responds with gratitude to our Father's incredible sacrifice in sending Jesus to save us! Praise God!!
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--4--Unto You a Saviour
« Last post by Dorine on Today at 05:57:26 AM »
As I read this once again I was overcome with a longing to have the privilege of Mary to hold the precious Son of God. To nurture Him, teach Him, protect Him. To me that is the most awesome, profound thought that heaven would stoop so low as to allow sinful humanity to have such an important part in the care of the One who would become our Saviour. I want to have a long chat with Mary some day.

 "The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life's peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan's power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk, God gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. "Herein is love." Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!"

I don't know that I will ever understand it but with grateful awe I accept it by faith. I can hold Him in my heart and mind and meditate on these things and be blessed all the day long.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--3--"The Fullness of the Time"
« Last post by Richard Myers on March 18, 2018, 10:00:47 AM »
Amen dear sister! What a joy it is to to know God, to know of his character of justice and mercy. The great controversy theme ought to be kept forever before our minds. It is an interesting and sad thought that Satan is so very clever. We see that when Jesus came to His own, His own knew Him not. They put their Messiah To death. But, as amazing as this is, it was not Satan's greatest victory. Let us not forget how close he came to destroying the whole world.

In Noah's day, man had become so wicked that God repented of having made man. He destroyed every living thing off the face of this Earth, except for 8 human beings. What is different today? Not much! Are we not told that just before the second coming of Jesus, that the world would be as it was in the days of Noah. So it is today, good is called evil, and evil is called good. God's chosen people today are is just as deceived as was Israel when Jesus walked on this Earth. What's the difference today? God has promised to bring revival and reformation to His people today.

Through the prophet Ezekiel we find:

 36:22  Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.

36:23  And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

36:24  For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

36:25  Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

36:26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

36:27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

God is pouring out His Spirit upon His church. The gospel message is being proclaimed. The Word of God will not return void. Clean water will cleanse a Laodicean church! The fullness of the time has come.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--3--"The Fullness of the Time"
« Last post by Dorine on March 18, 2018, 07:15:07 AM »
Thank you Pastor Sean. You present the solution to our condition in such a simple and beautiful way. No matter how often we read these chapters, we are given new insight into God's character. The following paragraph was highlighted in my book but I don't ever remember reading it before.

 "With intense interest the unfallen worlds had watched to see Jehovah arise, and sweep away the inhabitants of the earth. And if God should do this, Satan was ready to carry out his plan for securing to himself the allegiance of heavenly beings. He had declared that the principles of God's government make forgiveness impossible. Had the world been destroyed, he would have claimed that his accusations were proved true. He was ready to cast blame upon God, and to spread his rebellion to the worlds above. But instead of destroying the world, God sent His Son to save it. Though corruption and defiance might be seen in every part of the alien province, a way for its recovery was provided. At the very crisis, when Satan seemed about to triumph, the Son of God came with the embassage of divine grace. Through every age, through every hour, the love of God had been exercised toward the fallen race. Notwithstanding the perversity of men, the signals of mercy had been continually exhibited. And when the fullness of the time had come, the Deity was glorified by pouring upon the world a flood of healing grace that was never to be obstructed or withdrawn till the plan of salvation should be fulfilled."

No matter how perverse man became God was continually revealing His mercy and justice toward them. Jesus was about to come into the world at it's lowest state. What this paragraph pointed out to me was the fact that the only alternative would be the destruction of the world. This was part of the devils plan. He would then have another go at putting doubts into the minds of the inhabitants of heaven and unfallen worlds. It was this fact that startled me today.

But God's next move was the one that prevented Satan's plan to be realized and made a way of escape for us all so that sin will never raise it's ugly head again. He came to this sin sick world as our brother, friend and redeemer, proving to the universe that Satan's accusations were utterly false.

With all that God has revealed through His word and His life there will be no excuse to grab hold of if we are clinging to the false theories that pervade today. Especially the one that says we will be sinning until Jesus comes. Satan must really celebrate with that one. But God has a people that will not fall for that lie or any other that Satan is deceiving so many with.

I praise God for his love, mercy and long suffering. We are going to see Him very soon. What a joy that puts within my heart today.

"Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin." {The Desire of Ages, page 35, paragraph 2}

Why does a Laodicean church have no barrier against sin? Why do some teach that God's people will sin until Jesus comes again? Because excuses are made for sin, many false gospels are circulated, and many are taught that as long as they "believe" that they are saved, when such a belief is not the biblical kind of faith working by love to purify the soul. These deceptions are addressed here, as there is a striking parallel to the Jewish nation as Christ was coming on the scene of history, as the people were in a Laodicean (unconverted) state. They had great light available, but failing to walk in that light, it became darkness. The people trusted to man, and were not looking to the inspired well from which to draw water (the Scriptures). Such is the condition of many Seventh-day Adventists. Jesus weeps and pleads that we would repent, and turn fully to Him. Yet while we cannot save ourselves, we have a part--a small part--and that is that we must choose to behold Jesus in His infinite loveliness of character, and cooperate with the transformation that the Holy Spirit will work in us. This is a work of grace--it is an unmerited gift, something we do not earn, but it will cost us our sin and self-righteousness. What is that transformation the Holy Spirit effects? It is conversion, it is the reception of a new heart and a new mind that is imbued with all of the fruits of the Spirit so that not one is missing such that the converted child of God willingly obeys all the light of His law known at that point of experience. We know this to be true from the Bible, for love is God's character, and Jesus said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). As long as each ray of light is cherished, accepted, and practiced as the development of character continues, Jesus' promise remains true: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). This perfection of character, begun at conversion and signified by all of the fruits of the Spirit present in the life, will continue until full maturity, even the sealed experience of the 144,000. But mark this--all truly converted Christians were perfect at their stage of development, even though they did not live in the final scenes of earth's history when the 144,000 are sealed and translated as a corporate witness of Christ's power to fully mature His character in the lives of the most degenerate specimens of humanity. What grace! The universe marvels!!

But as the Jews departed from God, their faith grew dim, and the power of God's love that keeps changing us was kept out of their experience. The remedy to the deplorable condition of sin and self-righteousness is beholding Christ. That is why it would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day contemplating Jesus' life, especially the closing scenes, tracing His experience from the manger to Calvary. As I have been doing this, I have been so invigorated by His love, and inspired to realize the high calling God has for us in Christ Jesus.

Again the world has reached the fullness of time inasmuch as the sealing is taking place, and Jesus is about to return in power and glory. Let us learn of Him each day that we may receive from Christ fresh grace to impart the heavenly light and inspiration that will help others choose Christ today with a whole-heart surrender! I choose to surrender fully to Christ, how about you?   
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--2--The Chosen People
« Last post by Dorine on March 17, 2018, 07:08:48 AM »
Amen Pastor Sean. Beholding Jesus does change the motives of the heart and the behaviour. He is proving it in my own life. It's interesting how the closer you come to Jesus the more you see your own deficiencies and yet at the same time recognize that He is day by day changing your own desires. What a friend we have in Jesus!

"The people, in their darkness and oppression, and the rulers, thirsting for power, longed for the coming of One who would vanquish their enemies and restore the kingdom to Israel. They had studied the prophecies, but without spiritual insight. Thus they overlooked those scriptures that point to the humiliation of Christ's first advent, and misapplied those that speak of the glory of His second coming. Pride obscured their vision. They interpreted prophecy in accordance with their selfish desires."

As God's people look for the coming of our Saviour the second time, we too are in danger of studying God's word without spiritual insight?  May we daily surrender our hearts of pride and self importance so that we will study the scriptures with a pure heart and spiritual insight. We have no time to waste on our own intellectual ideas that prevent the Holy Spirit from teaching us the things we need to know and understand to be ready for Christ's second appearance.

Search my heart anew dear God and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--2--The Chosen People
« Last post by Pastor Sean Brizendine on March 17, 2018, 03:42:34 AM »
Jesus loves to bless His children. He loves to have us praising Him for His abundant mercies towards us, and to reveal in our lives the exceeding blessedness of righteousness by faith! When we have Jesus abiding in our hearts, we will long to impart to others what we have seen and heard and known of the loveliness of Jesus! I love His matchless charms and how when we are daily spending a "thoughtful hour" upon His life and lessons, communing with Him in prayer as we are brought into fellowship with the mind of the infinite, we are truly being transformed. Such transformed lives will be the blessing God desires this world to see--lives that reveal Christ to a world that is soon to perish. May we let His glory be our joy today!

"Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them 'high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.' 'All people of the earth,' said Moses, 'shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee." "The nations which shall hear all these statutes" shall say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' Deuteronomy 26:19;  28:10; Deuteronomy 4:6. But because of their unfaithfulness, God's purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation." {The Desire of Ages, page 28, paragraph 2}

God will fulfill His purpose. But are you willing to be humble and teachable so that He can reveal His character through your honor and exaltation (through abiding in Christ bearing all of the fruits of the Spirit)? The other choice is to be vacillating in unfaithfulness, which means that adversity and humiliation are necessary for God to fulfill His purpose through you. Let us learn the lesson Israel struggled to learn and failed to learn in putting Jesus to death. Let us learn to appreciate the infinite sacrifice made for us, surrender fully to Christ moment-by-moment, and allow God's grace and glory to bring praise to His name.

Abraham is mentioned in chapter 2 of the Desire of Ages. God wants to bless us like He did Abraham. But how did Abraham reveal faithfulness so God could bless him? It was in his home:

"A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion--an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that affects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Christians had a right religious mold, they would exert a mighty influence for good. They would indeed be the 'light of the world.' The God of heaven speaks to every faithful parent in the words addressed to Abraham: 'I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'" {Patriarchs and Prophets, page 144, paragraph 3}

May every home that names the name of Christ be such a powerful witness in these last days--a witness that God can bless so many thousands can be converted in a day--tracing their first convictions to literature, online ministries, or beholding the godly impress of a well-ordered family! Praise God!!
Friday March 16

Further Thought: Every natural ability, skill, or gift comes from God, whether we were genetically born with it, influenced and educated by our environment, or both. The important part of the equation is what we do with the abilities and skills we have. God expects stewards to learn to be masters of their skills and abilities through education and practical experience (Eccles. 10:10).

Bezalel was filled “with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship” (Exod. 35:31, NKJV). He and Aholiab (Exod. 35:34) had the ability to teach others their craft.

It is true they learned things, and developed character. So did Lucifer. But, when Lucifer turned from God, it made no difference what he learned. Separated from Christ, he was evil. So it is with us today. If we are not vitally connected with Christ daily, we cannot do what is right for the right reason.

We can learn to be better stewards and specifically to eliminate debt while living in a materialistic world. We should always be developing our skills through reading, seminars, formal education, (whenever possible), and ultimately practice what we have learned. Growing our skills enables us to give our best to God and to be good stewards.

Jesus grew. He learned obedience through what He suffered, so will we. It is the heart God wants, and it is character that He is developing in all who will come unto Jesus. The rest will fall into line when we love Jesus supremely.

The parable of the talents indicates that each servant received talents “according to his own ability” (Matt. 25:15, NKJV). Two servants doubled their amounts; the third hid his in the ground. We should always strive to improve what we have, but burying the talent did not show any ability or skill. Managing money, getting out of debt, cultivating discipline, and practical experience develop competencies that are blessed by God. To become successful and good at something, we must repeat it again and again.

Amen. When we continually repeat something, it becomes a habit, and habits form character. If we will repeatedly spend time each day beholding Jesus, all else will fall into order. The character will be a reflection of Christ, and we will turn to Him continually for wisdom and grace.

“As the lessons of the Bible are wrought into the daily life, they have a deep and lasting influence upon the character. These lessons Timothy learned and practiced. He had no specially brilliant talents, but his work was valuable because he used his God-given abilities in the Master’s service.” - Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 205.

Discussion Questions:

    Though self-control is always important for the Christian, it is especially important when a lack of self-control can lead to financial hardship or even ruin. What can we as a church do to help those who could be in danger of this problem?

The answer is always the same, we point them to Jesus. Why? Because when they yield self to Christ, the Holy Spirit takes possession of the heart and brings with Him every one of the fruits of the Spirit. One of them is temperance.

    Read Romans 13:7, 8.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

How can we apply these words to our daily lives and in all our interactions with others?

The answer is always the same. We need to love Jesus with the whole heart. Then we shall love others, even our enemies. We will be content in all situations, for is God be for us, who can be against us!

    Some argue that we shouldn’t worry about getting in debt, because Jesus is coming back soon. How would you respond to that assertion?

I would not. Why argue with someone who has such an attitude? Point them to Jesus and what we must do in order to be ready for His soon coming.
Thursday March 15

Saving and Investing

Ants labor to save provisions for the winter (Prov. 6:6-8). We are wise to consider their ways when we save money routinely for a specific purpose. The point in saving is to have resources available for our living expenses or needs as opposed to wasting or hoarding what we earn. Managing money requires wisdom, budgeting, and discipline. If all we do is save for ourselves, we are pilfering God’s possessions instead of stewarding them.

“Money needlessly spent is a double loss. Not only is it gone, but its potential for earnings is also gone. Had we set it aside, it could have been multiplying on earth through savings or in heaven through giving.  . . .  Saving is a discipline that develops authority over money. Instead of letting money take us wherever our whims incline, we take control.” - Randy C. Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity (Carol Stream: Illinois, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003), p. 328.

Better said, is we let God take control. Our wisdom is foolishness.

Read Proverbs 13:11, Proverbs 21:5, and Proverbs 13:18. What practical words are here for us that can help us deal better with financial issues?

Stewards save for family needs and invest in heaven when managing God’s assets. It is not about how much one possesses, but about having a biblical management plan in place, whatever your financial situation happens to be. Saving for family needs should be done wisely. To minimize any loss, spread out the risk (Eccles. 11:1, 2). Working at such minimization prior to your wants (Prov. 24:27) and then seeking qualified advice from others (Prov. 15:22) are two successful tools in this model. As needs are met and wealth grows, we must “remember the LORD your God, for it is [H]e who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:18, NIV).

The most secure investment model for God’s steward is to invest in “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:44). There are no recessions, risks, thieves, or market downturns. It’s like having a purse or wallet that will never wear out (Luke 12:33). Accepting Christ opens the account, and returning tithe and giving offerings are deposits. That is, however much we need to take care of our worldly and earthly things here, such as paying the bills, we must still always keep our focus on eternal truths.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:18. How can we keep this truth always before us while at the same time living as responsible stewards here?

When we awake in the morning, it would be well to spend a thoughtful hour with Jesus, beholding His Words and deeds, especially the closing scenes in His life on Earth. By beholding such glory (character) we shall be changed into His image (character) by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). Being a partaker of God's divine nature insures that we have power to do what is right.
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