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Friday: Further Thought ~ A Moment of Destiny — 8 Comments

  1. We spend a lot of time in cerebral Christianity. We love discussing the deep issues of sin and salvation, the mechanism and purpose of the judgment, the ultimate resolution of the conflict, and all the other bits and pieces that go to make up our lesson discussions. This discussion has to be matched by a practical day-to-day ordinary Christianity that is understandable, even by atheists.

    One of the questions the author asks above is:

    Discuss the elements necessary for the growth of plants and compare that to our spiritual growth. What are the similarities? That is, what can we learn from how plants grow that we can apply to our own lives?

    I could give quite a good science-based answer on this. I could talk about nutrients, water, sunshine, oxygen, and so on. And I could draw parallels with our spiritual lives. However, I want to tell you about my Mum, the gardener. She did not spend a lot of time reading books on gardening. She bought (or saved) seed and poked them into the soil and let them grow. She weeded them and chased the blackbirds and quails away when they came to eat them. She staked them up if they needed support, and she ultimately harvested the fruit of those plants for us to eat.

    The key ingredient of plant growth as far as Mum was concerned was nurture by the gardener. And the plants thrived on it. She let the science look after itself. She was a very practical gardener.

    The key ingredient of spiritual growth, both personal and collective, is nurture. Christianity is not just about getting the theology right. It is about nurture in the form of caring for one another. Take away the personal involvement and you have a sterile theological framework where nothing will grow.

    God chose to be personally involved in the process of salvation and in doing so emphasized the importance of nurture. The big takeaway message should be that the judgment is really about nurture. And I have purposely not identified which judgment, because I don't think it matters which one you have in mind.

  2. One thing is to be free to choose; another is the action of choosing. We were created all free to choose and think about anything we wanted. But the pounding question is, "Are my thoughts elevating or making me drown?"

    A focused effort in contemplating what is good can allow us to choose the right. So, where do we find proper knowledge to reflect?

    Having a God Who became like His own creation (to lead it back to Himself) is the only way to reconnect ourselves to our origin; Jesus is the way to get us back to eternity, from where we should never have chosen to leave! And thank God He died for us, and for us, now, He lives!

  3. It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. The Great Controversy, page 555

    We are transformed by beholding. We are changed by what we look at. As the apostles walked with Jesus through those years and they beheld Him day by day, it changed them so that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They were able to receive God the Spirit, which is the love of God. They received the power of God, the love of God, and the world was changed by that power of love when they preached because, if they were preaching without the love of God, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. The people saw that that love was there. We’re changed by what we behold.

    As a matter of fact, John, who was the apostle of love, in 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” “Behold.” He can’t find words to describe it, so he just says, “Look at it.” What did John the Baptist say when Christ was anointed with the Spirit? “Behold the Lamb of God.” What did Jesus say is going to lead to our being transformed? “If I am lifted up”—His being lifted up means a position of visibility so we can look at Him.

    “Look unto Me all ye ends of the earth and be saved.” (Isa. 45:22)

    What brought about the conversion of the thief on the cross? He saw Jesus lifted up. What brought about the conversion of Paul, who was Saul back then? He saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. What brought about the conversion of Zacchaeus? He wanted to see the Lord. We are changed by beholding. We are transformed into what we look at. Our souls are something like the old photographic plates. I guess they still work in digital cameras where you expose it to light and it captures the light that it sees. Our souls are that way. That’s why it’s very important for us to choose and discriminate what you look at, because you become like what you worship. We are to worship Him in spirit and truth. Behold Him. Fix your eyes upon Him. That's His invitation for us.

    • Thank you, Tammy. The insights in that series of articles are especially enlightening when I think of self-control as fruit of the Spirit, and its purpose being to better live for Jesus.

      I am fascinated by the fact that self-control can wear people out when they exercise it out of obligation, but not so badly when we have our own powerful motives for self-restraint. There is no greater power than love, is there?

  4. As I see it, the call of God, our heavenly Father, for man to follow His Son’s Way is the highest calling we could possibly answer to. What is so unique about His call is that it is universal, does not respect age, gender, status, culture, ethnicity, or religion - all are called! Who is willing to follow the call and enter the kingdom of God here on earth, to live according to our heavenly Father’s Will? Matt.22:14.

    Not only do our character and personalities change when we sincerely respond to the call to follow Jesus; our heavenly Father will also place into our way many opportunities to which we now can respond in the ‘Father and Son’s way’. “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” because God is my shepherd. God’s spirit is ever present in us, waiting to be expressed - we live the life of the redeemed believer - Psalm 23.

    How much more clearly can we be shown the ‘time of waiting’, its exposure to the lulling ebb and flow of the sameness of a well established life? Nothing is more important for the waiting Christian then to make sure that the holy 'oil' always fills the lamp, that the Holy Spirit is filling us - the vessel dedicated to Him.

    We need to live in the kingdom of God here on earth, first, before being translated when the bridegroom comes to invite us into the banquet hall. Let us make sure that the waiting time is spent wisely.
    Matt. 25:1-13

  5. The first question in today's lesson led me to think about the harvest principle and what that means. I know the harvest principle has been connected to perfection of believers before the Second Coming. However, Revelation 14:14-20 really speaks of the harvest in a collective sense. I think there will be a collective perfection of God's people (not in sinlessness, necessarily, but in conformity to the principles of God's love), but I don't think that means everyone will be absolutely perfect in terms of character. Someone who accepts Jesus just before probation closes will not have the same character development that someone who knew Jesus for many years will have. But as a whole, I feel there can be a settling in the truth that collectively will happen.

  6. We are studying the 3 Angels' Messages this quarter. But it's not only the angels' messages. It's our human truth too. Maybe especially. We have a unique human testimony of Jesus. We are told in 1 Peter 1:12 that angels are intensely interested in the ongoing revelations of God's character as He works for the salvation of mankind. There were things the faithful angels didn't understand on the day Satan fell from heaven; they're learning too, like us (1 Peter 1:13-16). Can't you see the holy angels all reassembled back in heaven after a long "workday", sincerely studying together and discussing the unfolding plan of salvation, eagerly looking forward to peace everywhere once more.

    So the angels and we humans share a message. We share the truth. We are destined to be coworkers together to spread Jesus' final message of mercy. I guess I hadn't thought of it this way before, that the angels need us. I don't think of angels much because I don't want to worship them, and I always want my focus on Jesus. And yet I came across this quote that leads me to see angels as helpers we can call to our side (Matt. 26:53-54), and as beings to whom God has granted leadership powers to help guide us...even to the point of also influencing our thoughts and choosing whom of us to work with, and how.

    "Angels are working upon human minds just as these minds are given to their charge; they bring precious remembrances fresh before the mind as they did to the women about the sepulcher. A created instrumentality is used in heaven's organized plan for the renewing of our nature, working in the children of disobedience, obedience unto God. The guardianship of the heavenly host is granted to all who will work in God's ways and follow His plans. We may in earnest, contrite prayer call the heavenly helpers to our side. Invisible armies of light and power will work with the humble, meek, and lowly one.... the angels of God are searching for human agents through whom they may cooperate to save the tempted ones. Angels are looking for those who will work in Christ's lines, who will be moved by the realization that they belong to Christ. They are looking for those who will feel that those who fall under temptation, whether high or low, are the ones who need their special labors, and that Christ looks on those who are passed by, neglected, wounded, and bruised by the enemy, and ready to die, and is grieved at the hardness of men, who refuse to exercise the faith that works by love, which will purify the soul. Angels of God will work with, and through, and by those who will cooperate with the heavenly agencies for the saving of a soul from death, and the hiding of a multitude of sins, that will lead them to consider themselves, lest they also be tempted." Ellen White, Selected Messages, pp.96-97.


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