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The New Spiritual Journey

First of all, remember that you are not perfect?only Jesus is perfect. So after baptism, you will undoubtedly make mistakes, but the important thing is to grow closer to Jesus constantly. Some ways that are helpful in drawing closer to Jesus include spending time in prayer, studying the Bible, and going to church.  

Second, keep in mind that your local church is made up of imperfect people just like you. As Morton T. Kelsey wrote, ?The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners? (Caring: How Can We Love One Another? [Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1981], 53). As part of this ?hospital,? think of ways that you can be an instrument of grace and a blessing to others.

An excellent way to become better acquainted with your church family is to subscribe to denominational magazines. Most unions in the North American Division have a free union magazine that will alert you to news and events that are going on in your particular region. Similarly, church members receive a complimentary subscription to Adventist World, which is a monthly publication with uplifting articles about Adventist beliefs along with church news from around the world. A weekly version of this magazine, Adventist Review, is available for a nominal subscription fee.

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The Hoarded Love of Eternity

The works of Christ not only declared Him to be the Messiah, but showed in what manner His kingdom was to be established. . . . It comes through the gentleness of the inspiration of His word, through the inward working of His Spirit, the fellowship of the soul with Him who is its life. The greatest manifestation of its power is seen in human nature brought to the perfection of the character of Christ.

When God gave His Son to our world, He endowed human beings with imperishable riches--riches compared with which the treasured wealth of men since the world began is nothingness. Christ came to the earth and stood before the children of men with the hoarded love of eternity, and this is the treasure that, through our connection with Him, we are to receive, to reveal, and to impart.

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Love and Share

?Come to Me, . . . and I will give you rest.?

?Matthew 11:28, NKJV

In the world of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, we, as humans, compare and contrast our lives and decisions with others more and more. In reality, we need only to compare and contrast ourselves with Jesus. We need to simply love one another and remember that we are already loved by God.

What would the eternal ?selfie? of Jesus look like? I think it would be a smiling face with piercing eyes, arms stretched open inviting us all?with love for His children. The description would read: ?Come to Me, and I will give you rest.?

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The Hour of His Judgment

?For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?? (1 Peter 4:17, ESV).

?I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned? (Matthew 12:36, 37, ESV).

?Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead? (Acts 17:31, ESV).

We could go on and on: Bible text after Bible text about God as a God of judgment, and the certainty from heaven above that the injustice and evil on earth below will, one day, be accounted for, answered, and justly punished. The concept of God?s judgments permeates the Scriptures. There?s not one single overarching judgment that rights all wrongs, that punishes all evil, and that rewards all goodness. Instead, God?s judgments have been ongoing events depending upon the time and place and circumstances, and from His judgments in the past we can learn about the judgment now and to come.

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?Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.? ?1 Corinthians 2:9

Fresh wonders will be revealed to the mind the more closely we apply it to divine things. We lose much by not talking more of Jesus and of heaven, the saints? inheritance. The more we contemplate heavenly things, the more new delights we shall see and the more will our hearts be brim full of thanks to our beneficent Creator.

Consider the wonderful love of God in giving His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have everlasting life. Oh, why do the professed followers of Christ become charmed and all absorbed with human frail beings and set their affections upon them and bow to them as to a deity, while Jesus is seeking to win our love and engage our thoughts, to bind us to His own heart by the disclosures of the tenderest sympathy and inexpressible love?   

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Longing for More

Through nature, through types and symbols, through patriarchs and prophets, God had spoken to the world. Lessons must be given to humanity in the language of humanity. The Messenger of the covenant must speak. His voice must be heard in His own temple. Christ must come to utter words which should be clearly and defi­nitely understood. He, the author of truth, must separate truth from the chaff of man?s utterance, which had made it of no effect. The principles of God?s government and the plan of redemption must be clearly defined. The lessons of the Old Testament must be fully set before men.?The Desire of Ages, pp. 33, 34.

The Jewish economy, bearing the signature of Heaven, had been instituted by Christ Himself. In types and symbols the great truths of redemption were veiled. Yet when Christ came, the Jews did not recognize Him to whom all these symbols pointed. They had the word of God in their hands; but the traditions which had been handed down from generation to generation, and the human interpretation of the Scriptures, hid from them the truth as it is in Jesus. The spiritual import of the sacred writings was lost. The treasure house of all knowledge was open to them, but they knew it not.?Christ?s Object Lessons, p. 105.  

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Longing for More

Patterns abound all around us. We see them in nature. (Have you ever wondered about the pattern of sand dunes?) We hear patterns in music. We can watch them in sports. Patterns can also be found in Scripture. The study of types (called typology) is based on the fact that there is a pattern in God?s work throughout salvation history. ?God prefigured His redemptive work in the OT and fulfilled it in the NT,? writes New Testament scholar Tom Shepherd.

Typology helps us discern the deeper meaning of a biblical text as we are guided by the text itself. For example, the Passover lamb is a type of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 5:7). The bronze serpent raised on the pole in the wilderness is also a type of the crucified Christ (John 3:14). These connections are already implicit in the original context of a given Old Testament text. They are not an afterthought or the result of creative and inventive thinking. God uses patterns to help us understand complex issues.

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Grace Abounds

Through Christ's redeeming work the government of God stands justified. The Omnipotent One is made known as the God of love. Satan's charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can never again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal ages all are secure from apostasy. By love's self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union.

The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds. . . . And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift,? Immanuel, "God with us."

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Star Trek

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers?the moon and the stars you set in place?what are mere mortals that you should . . . care for them? Psalm 8:3, 4, NLT.

On September 8, 1966, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise took off on its first mission to ?boldly go? where no man had gone before. OK?they didn?t really launch a spaceship, but the premiere of Star Trek, the television series, did. That?s when the sci-fi space series began.

And it wasn?t that successful. It lasted only three years and never rated better than number 52 on the network. But it was a hit with its fan base, and down through the years, its popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series, had no idea what a gold mine he had, and no one would have predicted Star Trek?s rise to fame?not the writers, not the producers, not the television networks, not even the fans who were loyal from the start.

Unfortunately, Star Trek never left much room for God, the Creator of the universe. It fantasized more about the accomplishments of future humanity. God doesn?t want us to become obsessed with a time and space that isn?t reality. The far reaches of space should inspire us?but only because Jesus will someday take us there.

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Coming Prince

John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, and called the people to repentance. As a symbol of cleansing from sin, he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan. Thus by a significant object lesson he declared that those who claimed to be the chosen people of God were defiled by sin, and that without purification of heart and life they could have no part in the Messiah?s kingdom.

Many of the scribes and Pharisees came confessing their sins, and asking for baptism. They had exalted themselves as better than other people, and had led the people to entertain a high opinion of their piety; now the guilty secrets of their lives were unveiled. But John was impressed by the Holy Spirit that many of these people had no real conviction of sin. They were timeservers. As friends of the prophet, they hoped to find favor with the coming Prince. And by receiving baptism at the hands of this popular young teacher, they thought to strengthen their influence with the people.

John met them with the scathing inquiry, ?O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.? ?The Desire of Ages, pp. 104?106.

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Prayer impacts the rules of engagement

Faith and prayer are key in the battle between good and evil. On the days we don?t pray, the enemy advances. But on the days we do, Christ is armed with legal, moral rights to tell the adversary: ?Thus far shall you go and no further.? Such was the experience of Israel over its enemies when Moses prayed when his arms were not too tired to pray (Exodus 17:10, 11).

When we don?t pray, when we don?t go to God in faith, the activity of God is constricted, just like all world economies were diminished due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. God?s ability to do is not abated, but the moral reason for doing it is not supported. If God were to act unilaterally simply because He can, the devil would then say: ?Why are You trying to help these people? They?re not asking You to help them. They are distracted by what I?m giving them to do. They don?t really believe in You as much as they say they do. You said you would deal with integrity. Integrity demands that You refrain from aiding people who don?t seem too concerned that You do.? So while God remains all-powerful, ontologically, in terms of His nature, there may be things He cannot morally do that He would otherwise want to do.

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To Seek Jesus

In all our devotional experience the invitation is, the challenge is, to read for the purpose of communication, of fellowship, with Jesus. ?We would see Jesus? (John 12:21). Now if we accept that as truth, then this is going to have some influence on what we read.

There is a time and purpose for studying each book of the Bible, but if the primary purpose of the devotional life is to seek Jesus, where will I spend most of my time? Studying the last half of the book of Joshua, or studying the Sermon on the Mount? It is possible for the Ten Commandments to become nothing more than a lethal weapon in the hands of one who doesn?t know how to sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus and learn of His love and kindness. The law and the gospel must go together. It is as we seek Jesus where He is most clearly revealed that we find fellowship with Him and grow more and more into His likeness. The purpose of the devotional life is to learn to know Him and trust Him more fully.

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