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The Eyes of the Lord

It should be a pleasure to worship the Lord and to take part in His work. God would not have His children, for whom so great salvation has been provided, act as if He were a hard, exacting taskmaster. He is their best friend; and when they worship Him, He expects to be with them, to bless and comfort them, filling their hearts with joy and love. The Lord desires His children to take comfort in His ser­vice and to find more pleasure than hardship in His work. He desires that those who come to worship Him shall carry away with them precious thoughts of His care and love, that they may be cheered in all the employments of daily life, that they may have grace to deal honestly and faithfully in all things.

We must gather about the cross. Christ and Him crucified should be the theme of contemplation, of conversation, and of our most joyful emotion. We should keep in our thoughts every blessing we receive from God, and when we realize His great love we should be willing to trust everything to the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.

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The Eyes of the Lord

In the early 1960s, some claimed ?on biblical authority? that humans would never land on the moon. They fell into the trap of asking more of the Bible than is required. It is not necessary to say that Adam was created at 9:00 a.m. on October 23, 4004 bc, as does Archbishop Usher. The Bible does not demand that. You cannot date Creation by adding up biblical genealogies. Nor does the Bible demand fixity of species. One of the reasons Darwin developed the idea of evolution was that the church at the time took Scripture to mean that species were fixed. They based it on the Genesis phrase ?after its kind.? Darwin went out into the field and simply found that it was not true. We must be careful not to make the Bible say more than it says.

Having a biblical worldview is not incompatible with the scientific method. The Bible is not a piece of scientific literature, but that does not mean it is incompatible with true science. It does mean that we should not require too much of a book that was written in a different era in a different language for a differ­ent purpose. The message we get from the Bible is not primarily scientific but salvific. Its focus is the salvation story.  

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Called to a Higher Standard

Paul tried to impress the believers with the importance of spiritual self-discipline and used an example from the athletic competitions in Corinth. The most popular sport was foot racing. Young men from all ranks of society took part. Contestants disciplined themselves and trained hard to win. Commoners, nobility, and public officials all followed the races.

The rules for the competition were strict and judges? decisions were final. If a runner broke the rules, even if he came in first, he did not receive a trophy. However, if he did everything right and won, he won the trophy and the applause of the people, which was so loud that it echoed back from the surrounding hills.

Paul used these games as an example of the spiritual race for Christians. We also must employ self-discipline and strength, focus on Christ, and follow God?s rules without collapsing or quitting. The trophy is eternal life.

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Faith and Acceptance

Some people feel that they are on trial and must prove to the Lord that they have changed before they can receive His blessing. But they may receive the blessing right now. They must have His grace, the Spirit of Christ, to help them overcome their weaknesses. Without it they can­not fight against sin.

Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are, sinful, helpless, and needy. We may come, foolish and weak as we are, and fall at His feet in sorrow for sin. It is His glory to put His arms of love around us, heal our wounds, and make us clean.

Thousands believe that Jesus pardons other people, but not them. They do not believe what God says. But every person who truly repents can know for himself that God freely pardons every one of his sins.

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Why are we here?

Instead of connecting people to God through evangelism and worship, connecting people through community and discipleship, connecting people to the city through mercy and justice, and connecting people to the culture through the integration of faith and work, sometimes the church wants to be in control and dominate the religious agenda, policies, or operational procedures . . . just like the Pharisees. Where is our compassion to end poverty? Where is our vision to stop world hunger? Where is our dream to stop human trafficking? Where is our desire to build a happy home? Where is our commitment for a life of integrity and humility and peace? We are evangelists and disciples who love making disciples.

If we are not growing, equipping, developing, educating, and enlightening our church members to be a light to their family, neighborhood, community, society, the world, then what are we doing? Why do we exist? We should not be striving for material possessions and social status. We should not crave only financial success, external beauty, or career advancements. Daniel Joseph and Toby McKeehan said, ?The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.?

Every Adventist must be a faithful servant of God, for His mission. We must reach out to everyone?sharing, caring, and proclaiming the good news of God?s redemptive work, so that people can see us as a recognizable, tangible, and visible sign of the kingdom of God on earth. It is not about being the best church in the community; it is about being the best church for the community.

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To Be Like Jesus

When Jesus called the disciples, He said, ?Follow Me??not merely ?Follow My teachings,? but ?Follow Me.? We cannot truly follow His instruction apart from Him. A review of the earthly ministry of Jesus reveals that His disciples were with Him nearly everywhere He went. They learned to pray by listening to Jesus pray. They learned the importance of Scripture by seeing how Jesus depended on the Scriptures. They learned to love by seeing love in action in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus said, ?By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another? (John 13:35). In other words: ?When people see you acting like Me, they will know you are My disciples.?

Discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus by spending time with Jesus. Discipleship classes alone won?t do it. Religious forms won?t do it. The personal relationship between disciple and Teacher is the heart of discipleship.

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We don?t even know the name of a widow that Jesus referenced in a parable. This woman was in trouble, and the judge who could help her did not fear God or care about the problems of others. ?Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ?Get justice for me from my adversary? ? (Luke 18:3, NKJV). However, Jesus said, the widow was so persistent that the judge rushed to try her case and obtain justice for her.

Then there was the Canaanite woman. She was a desperate mother seeking Jesus? help for her demon-possessed daughter. At first, He seemed not to hear her. His apparent attitude of not caring made her persist even more in her search for a miracle. Her persistence overcame the hostilities, fears, and suspicions that had beclouded her mind. When the ethnic barriers were overcome, the woman declared before all present that she believed in the power of Christ to heal her daughter. Jesus revived her faith and set her troubled heart free.

Dear friends, in the face of this divine reality, let us raise our heads and?like the Canaanite woman, the widow, and many others?persist toward our goals. We need justice for our causes, freedom from our fears; we must believe that we have not been forgotten and that we are loved. God is for us in our internal and external struggles. He is for our families, our work, our friends, and especially our faith. We do not have to be discouraged by the ?giants? ahead of us because there is a great God to fight our battles?with Him, we are more than conquerors!

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The Law as Teacher

?If any man will come after me,? Christ said, ?let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me? (Luke 9:23). This is the proof of discipleship. If church members would be doers of the Word, as they solemnly pledged themselves to be when they received baptism, they would love their brethren, and would be con­stantly seeking for unity and harmony.

Those who believe in Christ and walk humbly with Him, . . .who watch to see what they can do to help and bless and strengthen the souls of others, cooperate with the angels who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus gives them grace, and wisdom, and righteousness, making them a blessing to all with whom they are brought in contact. The more humble they are in their own estimation, the more blessings they receive from God, because receiving does not exalt them. They make a right use of their blessings, for they receive to impart. ?This Day With God, p. 356.

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The Law as Teacher

Teaching the law without knowing the Lawgiver is dangerous. Even knowledge about the Bible without the love of God results in pride and legalism. The most significant danger of legalism is that no one sees themselves as a legalist; they may believe they are zealous Christians. The Pharisees claimed to be elevating the law, but they were debasing it because they took the commandments without knowing the Commander. The law can be dangerous in the hands of someone who does not know the Lawgiver, as dangerous as a scalpel would be in the hands of someone who has never studied surgery.

The Pharisees were not convicted of sin, for they separated the law from the author of the law. When Jesus, the author of the law, came to them, they crucified Him. Legalism is a Satan-designed trap to make people think that they are honoring the law when they are destroying it.

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The Tree of Life

?Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.? And Jesus said to him, ?Today salvation has come to this house.? ?Luke 19:8, 9. 

The day that Zacchaeus saw Jesus?the day salvation that came to his house?was the greatest day of his life. He would never forget that day. A beautiful legend is told about Zacchaeus in his old age. They say that he continued to live in Jericho and was a very humble and godly man. Every morning at sunrise he would leave his house and go for a walk. When he returned, his face was always radiant and his heart was filled with joy and peace. His wife often wondered where he went and what he did on these morning walks, but he never told her. So one morning out of curiosity she followed him. Down the main road he went till he came to the sycamore tree into which he had climbed that day when he first saw Jesus. He picked up a water pot that he kept there, went to the nearby spring, filled it with water, then brought it back and watered the tree. He didn?t want that tree ever to die. He pulled the weeds from around the foot of the tree, then looked up into the branches where he had sat on that wonderful day. And as he looked he relived that wonderful experience. He remembered the great joy that filled his heart as he saw his blessed Savior and heard those wonderful words, ?Today salvation has come to this house.? He wanted to remember that happy day always; and he did. And that is why he was so humble and godly.

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One Wiser Than Solomon

?But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.? ?1 Corinthians 1:24

The wonderful personage whom John had announced had been among them for more than thirty years, and they had not really known Him as the One sent from God. Remorse took hold of the disciples because they had allowed the prevailing unbelief to leaven their opinions and becloud their understanding. The Light of this dark world had been shining amid its gloom, and they had failed to comprehend whence were its beams. They asked themselves why they had pursued a course that made it necessary for Christ to reprove them. They often repeated His conversations, and said, ?Why did we allow earthly considerations and the opposition of priests and rabbis to confuse our senses, so that we did not comprehend that a greater than Moses was among us, that One wiser than Solomon was instructing us? How dull were our ears! how feeble was our understanding!?

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Caesar's Household

As a general rule, the gospel spread faster among the lower class than among the upper class. However, even while Paul was a prisoner, the news of the gospel reached people of all classes, all the way to Caesar?s palace. Members of the emperor?s household became Christians and were living out their faith boldly, even though they were surrounded by many temptations.

Those who have given their hearts to Christ will always find opportunities to say a word for Jesus. They don?t let circumstances keep them from sharing their faith. They are able to resist temptations and criticism because of the power they receive through prayer and studying Scripture. Meeting life?s challenges with the Holy Spirit?s power develops the Christian character.

A Brief History of God's Love is the October book of the month at AdventistBookCenter.com and is 25% off ($14.99; reg. $19.99).

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