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Amen, Sister Dorine and Richard! We see in the faith of the centurion a clear revelation of the "faith of Jesus"--for Jesus simply trusted whatever His Father said, because He loved Him. The Centurion believed and trusted the word of Jesus. So we may trust Him for forgiveness, for power to live a holy life, and not fear that God's word cannot do what it says. God is faithful!

Jesus immediately set out for the officer's home; but, pressed by the multitude, He advanced slowly. The news of His coming preceded Him, and the centurion, in his self-distrust, sent Him the message, "Lord, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof." But the Saviour kept on His way, and the centurion, venturing at last to approach Him, completed the message, saying, "Neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee;" "but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." As I represent the power of Rome, and my soldiers recognize my authority as supreme, so dost Thou represent the power of the Infinite God, and all created things obey Thy word. Thou canst command the disease to depart, and it shall obey Thee. Thou canst summon Thy heavenly messengers, and they shall impart healing virtue. Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed.  {The Desire of Ages, page 316, paragraph 2}
Friday January 19

Further Thought: Stewardship, as we understand it, started with God placing Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden home that they were to care for and manage (Gen. 2:15). In this perfect environment they were to make the garden livable, a task that could not have been that hard. God authorized their new role and taught them about their responsibility. Taking care of Eden would give meaning and bring happiness to the new family.

The Hebrew verb for “dominion” (Gen. 1:26, 28) means “to bring under control and rule.” This was, given the context, not a harsh dominion but a benevolent rule in caring for God’s creation. This responsibility has not stopped. In this environment Adam and Eve were to learn that God was the Owner, and they were His managers, or stewards. From the start God intended that Adam and Eve have positions of responsibility and trust but not as owners. They were to demonstrate to God that they were faithful to their tasks.   

They were not faithful. What was God's response to their sin? He cursed the ground for our sake. And, if we pay attention to the lesson, we notice that we still sweat and there are still thorns and thistles. And, we still are dying. In other words, the lesson for us that there are consequences to not doing as God has made plain. Even when converted, the curses still apply.
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return."  Genesis 3:16-19.

And yes, we also notice that there was a consequence for women also. Has it disappeared as many church leaders teach today? We like the lesson on dominion as applied to rulership over the Earth. Shall we change the meaning of "rule over" ion order to escape the consequence God has placed women? And for unconverted men who "rule over" women, let us take note that God does not countenance such rule. As the lesson stated, Adam and Even were to have a "benevolent rule" over the Earth. So it is with man and his rule of the woman, it is to be a "benevolent rule."
This is why God cares very much about who we marry. If we marry someone who is not a true Christian, then there be no benevolence, but selfishness in the marriage.

“Adam and Eve were given the garden of Eden to care for. They were ‘to dress it and to keep it.’ They were happy in their work. Mind, heart, and will acted in perfect harmony. In their labor they found no weariness, no toil. Their hours were filled with useful work and communion with each other. Their occupation was pleasant. God and Christ visited them and talked with them. They were given perfect freedom.  . . .  God was the owner of their Eden home. They held it under Him.” - Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 327.

Discussion Questions:

    What does the fact that God owns the world teach us about our basic responsibility when it comes to the environment? While we have to avoid the political fanaticism of some environmentalists who all but worship the creation itself, what should our attitude, as Christians, be toward taking care of the environment?

We are to be good stewards of the Earth. What that means is a study in and of itself. How do we look at Carbon Credits? How about global warming? And, our use of cars instead of bicycles? If we grow a garden, then it seems we have studied some and are on the right track. If we do not grow a garden, why not? If we still live in the big city, why? God has given us great light on the subject, but to answer the question in any meaningful way requires more space and time than we have today. Suffice it to say that if we love God supremely (if we are in a converted state), then we will seek to care for the world in which we and others live.

    Dwell more on the idea of God as a “jealous” God. It’s not always an easy concept to grasp, especially because in human terms we look at jealousy as something bad, as something to be avoided. How, though, can we understand this idea as it is applied to God without any of the negative baggage the word usually carries?

God loves little innocent children. He is jealous for their safety and upbringing. What will happen to those who injure these "little ones"? I believe this is why Paul wrote "accursed be the man that brings another gospel into the church." God cares about the flock that is being misled. He is jealous for their sake. The church is the "apple of His eye."

    How can we learn to distinguish between the proper use and enjoyment of the physical things that God has created and the abuse of those things? Why is making this distinction so important?

The answer is always the same. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If we want to understand truth, then we need to be born of the Spirit. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit if we want to understand the proper use of what God has entrusted to us and have the power to do it. Otherwise we remain what we are apart from God, selfish.

To those who want to know, and who love God supremely, it is the motive that God cares most about. What are we doing with our time and our money? Why are we doing this? Even if it is not the best use, if we believe it is for God and others, then the heart is right with God and He will continue to bless us. As for knowing what is the best use, we can ask Him and in His time, He will make it known to us.

We have much light on how we are to live. Desire of Ages reveals an awful lot, as to the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church. There is great detail. For those who do not have this source of truth, the Bible is sufficient along with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our every day behavior. But, it is all dependent upon us giving the whole heart to Christ, otherwise our motive will be selfish.

Today, if we spend a thoughtful hour contemplating the life of Christ, we will by  beholding His grace, be transformed into His image (character) day by day. Let us put the cart in back of the horse. Then we shall be living for God because He is the focus of our attention.
Thursday January 18

True Ownership

We belong to God, both by creation and by redemption. And not only do we belong to God, but all our possessions do as well. We, of ourselves, own nothing other than our own choices.

In contrast, a central tenet of worldliness is the idea that we are owners of our possessions. Yet this is deception. For Christians to think they are the ultimate owners of their possessions is to think something contrary to what the Word of God teaches.

God, not us, owns everything (Job 38:4-11). We are merely aliens and tenants (Lev. 25:23), just as the Israelites were in the Promised Land. We are even dependent on God for our next breath (Acts 17:25). What we think we own, He owns. We are but His stewards, and as such we are to manage tangible and even intangible possessions to the glory of God.

List the things from the following verses that God owns: Deut. 10:14; Ps. 50:10; 104:16; Ezek. 18:4; Hag. 2:8; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20. What do these texts tell us about how we should view the material things that we have in our possession?

“All things belong to God. Men may ignore His claims. While He bountifully bestows His blessings upon them, they may use His gifts for their own selfish gratification; but they will be called to give an account for their stewardship.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 246.

God’s ownership and our stewardship mandate a relationship, one through which He may use us in ways that will prepare us for heaven and that will benefit and bless others. But unfaithful stewards can restrict the Owner’s access to His own possessions. As we saw yesterday, God does not force His will upon us. He created us, and gave us possessions in this world to manage for Him until He returns. What we do with them reflects the kind of relationship that we have with Him.

Amen. This is truth. We may know who has the heart by what we do with our time and our possessions. Those who love God supremely, who have given Him the whole heart, will live to bless others and to glorify God. Gold will be used to glorify God, not for ourselves. This is not an easy thing to judge when looking at others, for we do not know motive. But, we can understand our own motives. What are we doing with our time and material possessions? Why did we buy an expensive home or car? Only we and God know the motive.

Think through what it means that, in reality, you don’t own any of the things that you possess but that they belong to God. What should that tell you about how you should relate to the things in your possession?

This makes little difference or sense to those who are not converted. It is like saying you should love your enemy who raped your daughter. The reality is that if you love God supremely, you will use your possessions to bless others. You will use your time to bless others. But, do not judge others who do not do as you do. We do not know motive.

It is helpful to understand that God is in control of this Earth, nothing happens that He does not allow to happen. Therefore, He is in control even if He does not cause everything to happen. He is the Creator of all, and He can do with it as He pleases. But, He cannot force us to love Him. He cannot recreate us in His image if we do not work with Him. If we will not learn of Him, then how can we love and trust Him? We cannot. So, if we want others to give of their means to the church, then we need to present the gospel of grace so their is understanding of our continual need of Jesus in order to do any good thing. Until we understand who we are apart from God, we will not see our continual need of an abiding Savior.

It is true that if we do not live to bless others, we will not be in heaven. But, the threat of hell will not change the heart, that is the domain of grace. We can only be transformed by beholding grace and allowing it into our heart. Then we will live for the One we love supremely and those He came to save.

The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--32--The Centurion
« Last post by Richard Myers on Today at 07:46:12 AM »
Amen dear sister! What a joy it is to read such beautiful truth! We love the truth, as it is in Jesus. What A Savior! Many things went through my mind this morning as I studied this chapter. One was the parallel between Israel then, and modern Israel today, His church. Are we in the same condition Israel was back then? Sadly, the church remains a Laodicean condition. But, that is no excuse for any of us to not know God. It is our privilege to behold Jesus daily. What a privilege is hours to know Him who gave all for us, and then to find others who love him as we do.

Another truth that was impressed upon my mind this morning, was that the young man who was brought back to life, we were told would have to suffer death again. Not only suffer death again, but he was brought back into this wicked world! Oh, how backwards we sometimes have things. We remember that the Apostle Paul wanted to go home to be with the Lord. But, many professing Christians today don't want to go home to be with the Lord. Why not? Because this world still has a hold on them. Do we fear death, or do we long to be with Jesus?

I really enjoyed the ending of the chapter. It reminded me of Romans 8:9.

     And "if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Romans 8:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. This is the word of comfort wherewith He bids us comfort one another.   
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--32--The Centurion
« Last post by Dorine on Today at 06:34:17 AM »
I ask myself this morning...Do I have the kind of faith that this centurion manifested? Do I possess the same humble spirit? He did not believe in Jesus as merely the worker of miracles but as a friend and Saviour. It mattered not that the Jewish nation did not accept Jesus. He recognized the truth in Jesus. I hope he stayed faithful to Jesus because I want to meet him in heaven and have a chat and hear his story in detail.

"It is thus that every sinner may come to Christ, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." Titus 3:5. When Satan tells you that you are a sinner, and cannot hope to receive blessing from God, tell him that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We have nothing to recommend us to God; but the plea that we may urge now and ever is our utterly helpless condition that makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the cross of Calvary and say,..."In my hand no price I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling."

I once heard someone say; "When Satan torments you with your past; remind him of his future."

These are the kinds of stories and promises that plant my feet firmly grounded in truth; not wavering with every wind of doctrine or idea or theory that comes along. That is why it's so important to spend time each day in the bible and Spirit of Prophecy with an open heart hungering for truth though it may hurt.
Amen, Richard! As we receive the truth of Christ into the soul, it claims the homage of our will. Christ requires a full-heart surrender, as nothing less than this will enable us to become partakers of the divine nature. Without a vital connection with Christ a living-faith experience of complete dependence upon God and putting forth all our efforts that He has imbued our soul with, we will be lost. God works in us to will and to do, but this will never be independent of our effort. We are to behold the loveliness of Jesus and allow the principles of His life to become ours in actual practice.

"The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness." {The Desire of Ages, page 309, paragraph 2}

The fruits of righteousness are true repentance leading to all of the fruits of the Spirit being manifest in the life without one missing. An assent is not the same thing as surrender of all we have and are to Him who gave all for us. Let us glory in tribulation and thank God that the full surrender is what is best for us, even though it will mean denial of our fallen nature at every step toward heaven. As we abide in Christ, we are enabled to keep the fallen nature under, so that every thought, motive, and purpose may be under the control of the Holy Spirit who has possession of the new heart and new mind given us at conversion. Let us trust God fully!
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Last post by Richard Myers on January 18, 2018, 05:34:36 AM »
Amen, Pastor Sean. The gospel has great power. I love this chapter. Jesus is preaching to a Laodicean people. They thought themselves rich and increased with goods, but knew not they were lost. So, it is a great light to us today.

     The world loves sin, and hates righteousness, and this was the cause of its hostility to Jesus. All who refuse His infinite love will find Christianity a disturbing element. The light of Christ sweeps away the darkness that covers their sins, and the need of reform is made manifest. While those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives.

     Thus strife is created, and Christ’s followers are accused as troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God that brings them the world’s enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not with sorrow, but with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each fiery trial is God’s agent for their refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to fulfill their obligation to the world, fixing their desire upon the approval of God, His servants are to fulfill every duty, irrespective of the fear or the favor of men.

     “Ye are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. Do not withdraw yourselves from the world in order to escape persecution. You are to abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt to preserve the world from corruption.

We remember that it is the highest honor and the most weighty trust to partake in the sufferings of our Savior. Then let us today glory in our tribulation, that will come if we are colaborers with Him who gave all for us.
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--30--"He Ordained Twelve"
« Last post by Dorine on January 17, 2018, 09:36:38 AM »
     "He who called the fisherman of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God." {The Desire of Ages, page 297, paragraph 1} 

What an inspiring and humbling thought Pastor Sean, that Jesus wants to partner with each of us so that His works will be seen in us. I am continually awed at the depths of love that is shown to mankind even if we like Judas are working for the enemy. How Jesus' heart must have broke to see Judas harden his heart against Jesus and truth.

As I read once again this chapter pointing out all the serious defects of the men Jesus chose it is so encouraging to see how by spending time with Jesus He was able to miraculously change their characters. He will do the same for anyone who will come to Him with a childlike faith desiring to know His will for their lives.

So why didn't Judas have the same experience as the others? We are told....
"Instead of walking in the light, Judas chose to retain his defects. Evil desires, revengeful passions, dark and sullen thoughts, were cherished, until Satan had full control of the man."

How very sad.
Wednesday January 17

A Jealous God

In His confrontation with Pharaoh, God declared, “For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that [there is] none like me in all the earth.” Exod. 9:14.

What did the Lord mean when He said that “there is none like Me in all the earth”?

“It is impossible for the finite minds of men to fully comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One. To the keenest intellect, to the most powerful and highly educated mind, that holy Being must ever remain clothed in mystery.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 698, 699.

God has no equal (1 Kings 8:60). He thinks, remembers, and acts in ways we do not comprehend. No matter what attempts we try to make Him into our own image, God remains God. He is the One who made every snowflake, brain, face, and individual characteristic unique, and “there is none else” (1 Kings 8:60). After all, He is the Creator, and as Creator He is certainly distinct from His creation.

What do these texts tell us about how different God is from His creation? 1 Sam. 2:2; Ps. 86:8; Isa. 55:8, 9; Jer. 10:10; Titus 1:2.

When we look at all that God is, all that He possesses, and all that He does, it’s remarkable that He could have competitors. And yet He does, in the sense He has to “compete” for human love and affection. Maybe that’s why He says that He is a “jealous” God (Exod. 34:14). God created humans to be free, which means we have the option to serve Him or to serve anything else. That has been, in many ways, the essential human problem: choosing to serve other gods, regardless of what form they come in, as opposed to serving the only God worth serving, the One who created and possesses all the universe. That’s why then that He is indeed a jealous God.

"The essential human problem." What is the essential human problem? We need to spell it out so that we understand our need, our continual need. It is very sad to think that we do not understand, but look at Israel when their Messiah came to them, and they knew Him not. So it is today. It would be well to understand "the essential human problem" because there are now teachings in God's church that have redefined the truth on this subject. The essential human problem is that while we have free choice, we are in bondage to sin that is within us when we come into this world. If we do not understand this, then it will do little good to talk about stewardship or salvation.

We have a fallen nature which means when we come into the world, we are in need of a Savior. Why? Because we must be transformed from sinner into saint. Unless we are born again of the Spirit, we "cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3. These are the Words that came forth from the mouth of Jesus when speaking to a Laodicean leader in Israel. Jesus told him to "repent". Jesus continues talk with Nicodemus so that today none will be able to deceive the very elect: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:6,7. In order to do any good thing, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must become partakers of
God's divine nature.

What, if anything, in your life is competing with God for your affections?

How can we make sure nothing gets between us and our Savior? What must I do in order to be saved? How often must I do it?
The Desire of Ages / Re: The Desire of Ages--30--"He Ordained Twelve"
« Last post by Pastor Sean Brizendine on January 17, 2018, 08:30:01 AM »
Amen, Richard! Praise God for the patience of our Savior, who chooses us to be able to work with Him as He did for His disciples. We are not called because we are perfect, but because, by surrendering the whole heart to Christ, we may receive His perfection of character (a new heart and mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, bearing the ineffaceable marks of the divine nature, which is all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing). As long as this surrender is maintained by faith, the moral perfection of character that Christ imputes and imparts to us at conversion will be continued and matured. Every step in life we may be more like our Savior, but that does not mean that we need to separate from Him for a moment. Let us see our continual need of Jesus to do any good thing. Praise God for such a wonderful Savior as Jesus!!

"As His representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took upon Himself humanity, that He might reach humanity. Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world. Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. So with the servants and messengers of Christ. Man needs a power outside of and beyond himself, to restore him to the likeness of God, and enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power, Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through co-operation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good."  {The Desire of Ages, page 296, paragraph 4} 
     "He who called the fisherman of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God." {The Desire of Ages, page 297, paragraph 1} 
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