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Lord of the Sabbath

Keeping the Sabbath is a cornerstone of Adventist faith and tradition. However, do you think we sometimes turn it into a day of dos and don?ts in order to please our own agenda of holiness? Think about why you choose to keep the Sabbath and why your parents have said they choose to keep the Sabbath. Do not let it be just another day for you, but rather, let it be a time of special communion with God. Rather than a day of dos and don?ts, view it as a day of worshiping and rejoicing!

Jesus flipped the Jewish view of the Sabbath completely upside down when He was on earth. The religious leaders had turned it into a day that had so many rules, people hardly knew what to do to keep it correctly! It was probably a very frustrating time to be one of God?s chosen people. Jesus viewed the Sabbath in a much more practical way, and He wanted it to be a day of experiencing time with God, not stifling it. So on the Sabbath, He let His disciples pick grain and eat it. When the Pharisees got upset about this, Jesus? response showed His place as the Son of God and His original intent for the Sabbath. He did not care about a tiny movement like picking grain that could be perceived as ?work.? He cared much more about spending time fellowshipping with His disciples! His proclamation ?The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath? showed His true purpose: to reclaim the day that belonged to Him and turn it from a day of rules and regulations to a day of joy and fellowship. Choose to spend this Sabbath with Jesus this week!

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From Dust to Stars

The book of Daniel concludes with the rise of Michael, the promise of resurrection, and significant references to ?time.? Daniel 12 mentions the time of the end and the prophetic periods of 1260, 1290, 1335 years, and it closes with the ?end of the days.? Such references to prophetic time indicate that God is the grand sovereign over the cosmos and our planet. And yet the resurrection promise also reveals that He cares for and guides our personal histories, with all their challenges, struggles, and victories. With the psalmist, we can confidently say, ?My times are in your hands? (Psalm 31:15, NIV). As the journey in this broken world continues, the worst of times may seem overwhelming, but we can carry on, knowing that the best of times is just around the corner.

Hope springs eternal in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth. On the cross, He ?disarmed principalities and powers? and ?made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them? (Colossians 2:15). He ascended to heaven to minister in our behalf and remains our hope, an anchor that ?enters the Presence behind the veil? (Hebrews 6:19). No matter the challenges ahead, look to Jesus and rest in the assurance that the best is yet to come.

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From Dust to Stars

In the darkest hours, under circumstances the most forbidding, the Christian believer may keep his soul stayed upon the source of all light and power. Day by day, through faith in God, his hope and courage may be renewed. ?The just shall live by his faith.? In the service of God there need be no despondency, no wavering, no fear. The Lord will more than fulfill the highest expectations of those who put their trust in Him. He will give them the wisdom their varied necessities demand. . . .

We must cherish and cultivate the faith of which prophets and apostles have testified?the faith that lays hold on the promises of God and waits for deliverance in His appointed time and way. The sure word of prophecy will meet its final fulfillment in the glorious advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords. The time of waiting may seem long, the soul may be oppressed by discouraging circumstances, many in whom confidence has been placed may fall by the way. . . . Let us ever hold in remembrance the cheering message, ?The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.? [Habakkuk 2:3].?Prophets and Kings, pp. 386?388.

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He Died for Me

Jesus Himself has told me this. He has put this assurance in my mind and heart; ?He loved me, and game Himself for me.?  My iniquity was laid upon him. He bore my sin. He died in my place. He laid down His life for me, as if I were the only one to be redeemed.

When I think of what He left for me, of how He lived for me, of how He was treated in the judgment hall for me, of what He suffered for me when He was mocked and spit upon, and when He finally poured out His soul upon, and when He finally poured out His soul unto death; then when He stretches out those hands that were pierced for me, and pleadingly says, ?Come unto Me,? in sorrow but yet in joy I answer, ?Yes, my Saviour, I come.? What less can I do?

The law pronounces me guilty, and I must own that the verdict is just. The penalty is death, and justice demands it. Every subject who in time of war betrays his sovereign ? and this is what I have done- is a traitor and worthy of death. But He died for me, and I accept His death as my death, and I say to the law, ?I paid the penalty on calvary when Jesus died in my stead,? and I am acquitted. And so I find peace and rest in Jesus.

I earnestly wish that every person in the world knew that Jesus died for him, and would accept Him in his life and in his death. What joy there would be in heaven, and what blessing on earth!

Jesus died for me, and I have accepted Him. Jesus died for you. Have you accepted Him?

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Faith and Calmness

I was shown that in case of sickness, where the way is clear for the offering up of prayer for the sick, the case should be committed to the Lord in calm faith, not with a storm of excitement. He alone is acquainted with the past life of the individual, and knows what his future will be. He who is acquainted with the hearts of all men, knows whether the person, if raised up, would glorify His name, or dishonor Him by backsliding and apostasy. All that we are required to do is to ask God to raise the sick up if in accordance with His will, believing that He hears the reasons which we present, and the fervent prayers offered. If the Lord sees it will best honor Him, He will answer our prayers. But to urge recovery without submission to His will, is not right.

What God promises, He is able at any time to perform, and the work which He gives His people to do He is able to accomplish by them. If they will live according to every word He has spoken, every good word and promise will be fulfilled unto them. But if they come short of perfect obedience, the great and precious promises are afar off, and they cannot reach the fulfillment.

All that can be done in praying for the sick is to earnestly importune God in their behalf, and in perfect confidence rest the matter in His hands. If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us. He can do what He will with His own. He will glorify Himself by working in and through them who wholly follow Him so that it shall be known that it is the Lord, and that their works are wrought in God.

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The Prophet

Prophet. What images that word instantly brings to the mind of someone familiar with those larger-than-life figures of sacred Scripture!

Almost instinctively we picture a lonely figure, perhaps like Elijah in the Old Testament, standing alone in defense of God. Elijah challenged more than four hundred priests of Baal and called down fire from heaven?a fire so hungry it consumed not only his sacrifice but also the water that drenched it and the stones of the altar that supported it (1 Kings 18).

Or perhaps we hear the distant echo of ?the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord? (Matthew 3:3, RSV; cf. Isaiah 40:3) coming from the lips of the austere John the Baptist. Clad in a robe of camel?s skins, John was not a self-indulgent man. His diet consisted chiefly of the Middle Eastern locust-bean pods and wild honey from the desert (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).

Indeed, it is utterly impossible to think about the Bible at all without immediately thinking of the approximately forty authors of its sixty-six books. We popularly call them ?prophets,? ?holy men of God [who] spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost? (2 Peter 1:21). And it all began with a man named Enoch. A mere seven generations from Adam, Enoch is the first recorded prophet in human history (Jude 14). The prophets from Enoch to Moses presented their messages orally. Moses marks the watershed in historical prophethood by using the written word to share prophetic communication.

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Striving for the Mastery

?Abide in Me, and I in you.? ?John 15:4, NKJV

Growth involves pain. Instead of complaining about trials in the Christian life, one person learned to pray, ?Lord, I thank You for the trials You have allowed. You are not an arsonist; You are a refiner.?

The story is told of a man who took home a cocoon so that he could watch the emperor moth emerge. But as the moth struggled to get through the tiny opening in the cocoon, the man felt sorry for the creature and enlarged the opening with a snip of his scissors. The moth emerged more easily, but its wings were shriveled. It was never able to fly and died shortly after. The struggle through the cocoon?s narrow opening was God?s purposeful way of forcing fluid from the moth?s body into its wings to ready them for flight. The man had not allowed that to happen.

Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as an effort that involves discipline, correction, and training in righteousness. Surely such an endeavor could not be completed without a holy striving against self and sin. Sometimes, the struggle is exactly what we need in order to be able to soar on spiritual wings. And there are rarely any shortcuts, as in the case of the moth. No, we must strive for mastery. For believers to grow spiritually, old habits, desires, and ways of thinking must die?making room for Jesus.

A little girl once listened to her preschool teacher tell of the two disciples walking to Emmaus as they lamented the death of Jesus. Then a stranger joined them. Later, they discovered the stranger was Christ Himself! Near the conclusion of the story, the excited little girl shouted, ?Jesus walks with me every day!?

?What do you do when Jesus walks with you?? the teacher asked.

?I just move over and make more room for Him to walk close beside me!? she replied.

My prayer is that we each ?move over? and make more room for Jesus to be close to us and empower us as we strive for the mastery in our Christian walk.

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Spirit in the Bones

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. ?Ecclesiastes 11:5

The miracle of life is an incredible thing. God gave earth a superpower the devil is incredibly jealous of: the ability to create life. Everything on this planet has the ability, from bugs to whales to humans! But even with our ability to create, God is still the one who gives us the ability. Like the verse says, it?s a miracle of the Holy Spirit that enters the bones of a little fetus and helps it grow! All of God?s creation was made with intense attention to detail.

King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes when he was an old man, reflecting back on his life and what he learned from it. At the beginning of the book he says, ?Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity? (Ecclesiastes 1:2). His major impression of life was its meaninglessness. In chapter 2, Solomon experienced every pleasure he ever wanted, gathering wealth, women, and everything his eyes desired (verse 10). But Solomon observed something God gave to humans also: ?He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man?s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end? (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

God gave us the ability to sense that there is something beyond this world, a heaven we were meant for. In everything, we have to trust that He is God, the ultimate Builder and Creator, who will make our meaninglessness meaningful through His power and significance.

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From North and South to the Beautiful Land

Daniel 11 is probably the longest, most detailed prophecy of the Bible. It mentions wars, persecution, and suffering in connection with alliances and conflicts. National politics, world governments, and power plays involving nations and ideological factions seem overwhelming. All of this can easily cause believers to retreat or, just as dangerously, to embrace worldly methods to advance God?s work. Many Christians have fallen into either of these extremes. Some have cowed before the challenge, while others have joined the world to advance God?s kingdom.

Beyond this important lesson, what else can we can learn from Daniel 11 that is relevant and meaningful to our lives? This complex chapter shows that the powers of the world by themselves can neither thwart nor advance God?s work. This truth is of great practical significance. In times of personal uncertainty, whether we face financial, health, or any other crisis, we can cling firmly God, knowing that everything is subject to His sovereignty. Even when evil is perpetrated against us, God can turn it into something good (Genesis 50:20).

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From North and South to the Beautiful Land

In Christ is our only hope. God has daily victories for His people to gain. . . . By His heavenly gifts the Lord has made ample provision for His people. An earthly parent cannot give his child a sanctified character. He cannot transfer his character to his child. God alone can transform us. Christ breathed on His disciples, and said, ?Receive ye the Holy Ghost.? This is the great gift of heaven. Christ imparted to them through the Spirit His own sanctification. He imbued them with His power, that they might win souls to the gospel. Henceforth Christ would live through their faculties, and speak through their words. They were privileged to know that hereafter He and they were to be one. They must cherish His principles and be controlled by His Spirit. They were no longer to follow their own way, to speak their own words. The words they spoke were to proceed from a sanctified heart, and fall from sanctified lips. No longer were they to live their own selfish life; Christ was to live in them. . . . He would give to them the glory that He had with the Father, that He and they might be one in God.?Sons and Daughters of God, p. 294.

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Who is Jesus?

But we need to ask, What does the Bible teach us about Jesus? One thing that it tells us is that Jesus is a unique individual and that there has been no one like Him in the history of the world.

How is that? you may be thinking. The Bible?s answer is that He is both divine and human. Thus the apostle John tells us that ?in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? (John 1:1). John continues on to tell us that ?the Word became flesh and dwelt among us? (verse 14). That Word is none other than Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew is even more specific about the person of Jesus. ? ?Behold,? ? we read, ? ?the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,? which is translated, ?God with us? ? (Matthew 1:23). That Son, of course, was Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit (verse 18).

In summary, Jesus is not only the center of the Bible and history, but He is also a bridge between God the Father and the human race. His unique divine-human nature did not come about by accident. That thought brings us to the question of why Jesus became human; a topic on which the Bible is very clear.

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What's a Covenant

How many covenants have you entered into so far in your life? If your response is something like, Covenants? you?re not alone. We don?t use this word much anymore, but nevertheless, we make covenants all the time. Student loans, car leases, and home mortgages are covenants. So are marriage licenses, wills, and business contracts. Even clicking the ?I agree? box when downloading an app is a covenant.

In the biblical context, covenant is an old word that has important meanings for understanding and building a personal relationship with God. A new understanding of covenants starts with the history of this old-fashioned word. Covenant finds its origins in four languages?Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Old French.1 Covenant simply means a ?mutual compact to do or not do something, a contract,? such as vows between a married couple or an agreement between a borrower and a lender. The word also means a ?contract, promise, pledge, solemn resolve, vow, testament, promise of legal validity,? such as student loan agreements, car leases, home mortgages, and marriage licenses. Covenant can also describe a personal relationship with God as a type of legal commitment: ?the promises of God as revealed in the Scriptures conditioned on certain terms on the part of humanity.?2 Although it is a spiritual commitment, the covenant of baptism can also be legally important, since in some instances a baptismal certificate can be legally admissible in the place of a birth certificate.

A covenant, such as marriage, is a two-sided promise; it is a commitment between two persons, not just a commitment to God. But more importantly, covenants are about God?s commitment to us. This book highlights God?s side of the covenant as the ?everlasting covenant,? or God?s unchanging commitment to us.

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