Chapter 12: The Temptation

January 31, 2007

This chapter is packed with both challenges and inspiration. I can’t cover it all, but may request a second day on Ch. 12. And I must be brief tonight as I am literally spent. So today, only inspiration:

“All who desired deliverance from his [Satan’s] power would be set free. The dominion that Adam had lost through sin would be recovered.” DA107

“Satan had hoped that God’s abhorrence of evil would bring an eternal separation between heaven and earth. But now it was manifest that the connection between God and man had been restored.” DA109

“Satan had pointed to Adam’s sin as proof that God’s law was unjust, and could not be obeyed. In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure.” DA109

“Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam’s position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict then had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all it’s liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.” DA110.

Last night, my sister had a baby girl named Lauren Elizabeth. And last night, my friend Marty died. My grief is not balanced by hope–as happy as I am to have a beautiful niece, I feel strongly that we were not designed to live here. And I’m even more amazed that God would send His only Son into the world to suffer all that we suffer; to live in pain, temptation, and oppression as we do. And to succeed where we never could. Jesus lived in our dirt and died so that we don’t have to ever be completely separated from our God of Love. What are we waiting for? It’s time to come close to Jesus and in these last days speak the Word of God in answer to Satan’s life robbing schemes. He knows that time is short.

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Chapter 11: The Baptism

January 29, 2007

Consider the implications of these three quotes building up to one idea:

“Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified Himself with sinners … ” DA102

“He pleads with the Father for power to overcome their unbelief, to break the fetters with which Satan has enthralled them, and in their behalf to conquer the destroyer. He asks for the witness that God accepts humanity in the person of His Son.” DA103

“Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal.” DA104

Did you catch the development here in these quotes? Jesus is baptised to identify himself with sinners. In essence He was trying on my robe of unrighteousness! My nature, the fallen sinful one, full of past guilt, weakness, and disheartening decisions he took. (Quote 1). Who’s humanity is Jesus asking God to accept in His very human person? (Quote 2). Surely it is my own human nature that Jesus is pleading with God to accept. I was laid upon him. My fallen nature with its humiliation, He took and plead for (Quote 3). And God answered, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” No wonder Satan hastened to tempt Jesus. If he could cause Jesus to fall, I would fall also, and forever. Essentially, the stakes were as high 2000 years ago for me as they were right then for Jesus. Because today I accept Christ as my Lord, 2000 years ago I was baptised and accepted into the life of Jesus. I was tempted 2000 years ago, and in Christ Satan was defeated. What a risk it was to take my very nature on. And yet, even God blasted from the heavens the response, “I am pleased to have you as my son.”

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18

This day has scared me. Besides my own heap of debts and dead-ends, a friend faces death tonight. It is a sorrowful world that Jesus aligned himself with; yet hope will not be cut down. Waiting for Him is sometimes very difficult, and pain so numbing, but the Word of God did become flesh. He speaks today with the same power, and claims the same as His sons. I want never to forget that because Christ took me on, I am His son and He is pleased with me.

Week 3

January 28, 2007

What to you think of the book so far? I especially appreciate how Ellen extracts and applies the lessons in vivid and practical language. She is honest–sometimes brutally honest–and then enchantingly inspirational. Do you think she actually saw scenes from the life of Jesus in vision?

This week:

The Baptism
The Temptation
The Victory
“We Have Found the Messias”
At the Marriage Feast

Thanks for reading along. If any of you find a chapter of special interest and want to write the daily on it, email me at wallygoots@yahoo.com

Have a great week,

Seth

This chapter was loaded with applications for our lives today, but I’ll hold back commentary for now and ask you: how do we apply these quotes to life today?

1. “The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness.” DA88

2. “In preparing the way for Christ’s first advent, he [John the Baptist] was a representative of those who are to prepare a people for our Lord’s second coming. The world is given to self-indulgence. … Self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word.” DA91

3. “God does not send messengers to flatter the sinner. He delivers no message of peace to lull the unsanctified into fatal security. … The ministering angels present to him the fearful judgments of God to deepen the sense of need and prompt the cry, “What must I do to be saved?” Then the hand that has humbled in the dust lifts up the penitent. The voice that has rebuked sin, and put to shame pride and ambition, inquires with tenderest sympathy, “What do you want Me to do for you?” DA94

4. “How often we misinterpret God’s blessings, and flatter ourselves that we are favored on account of some goodness in us! God cannot do for us that which He longs to do. His gifts are used to increase our self-satisfaction, and to harden our hearts in unbelief and sin.” DA96.

What are the practical applications of these pointed passages? Are they prophetic of our time?

Chapter 9: Days of Conflict

January 27, 2007

“The requirements of society and the requirements of god were in constant collision. Men were departing from the word of God, and exalting theories of their own invention.” DA77

“These walls of partition He overthrew. In His contact with men He did not ask, What is your creed? To what church to you belong? He exercised His helping power in behalf of all who needed help.” DA79

Essentially, Jesus continually bucked religious society in favor of Biblical truth, and He suffered pressure from His family and from religious leaders to conform to ideas they had made up. The Pharisees incited his mother and brothers to gang up on Him. What ideas have we made up as Adventists that Jesus would buck today? As Christians? As Americans? As a member of all three groups, I’m stunned to realize that I might resent Jesus as well if I had been His brother in today’s world. His goodness and my lack of goodness could have made a wedge between us. Or it may be bringing us together forever? Luckily, it is apparent that James and some of the other brothers did come around, so I think there is hope me thanks to the patience and unwavering love of Jesus.

So then, what ideas have we made up? I’m not talking about the 27 (or is it 28) fundamental beliefs? But a few ideas that come to mind that I would like to hold to the light shining from the Bible for examination are:

1. Only associating with people in “the church.”

2. Going to church for emotional self-satisfaction (feel good music/or a feel good messages indicate that the Holy Spirit is at work).

3. God loves us less when we sin and more when we are good. Worse yet, that we are lost when we sin and saved when we are good.

4. God will overlook sinning habits because of His grace, and that somehow we may achieve heaven without sacrificing self.

5. That God doesn’t have what it takes to do what he promises. Worse yet, that God chooses not to do as promised.

Pragmatism and Poor Parenting

I have realized more clearly this year that God is quite the pragmatist. What ever means are in keeping with his Character (which is more complex that we at first thought), and gets the job done, is what He will use for the salvation of men.

So here we have Jesus, partially feigning innocence to teach men who are too proud to listen. Of course, it’s the only way that would have worked at the time, and even then they were too proud to follow after the Holy Spirit’s pull on their hearts.

“The words of Jesus had moved their hearts as they had never before been moved by words from human lips. God was seeking to give light to those leaders in Israel, and He used the only means by which they could be reached. In their pride they would have scorned to admit that they could receive instruction from anyone. … They flattered themselves that they were teaching him.” DA70.

Few people, who write about Jesus, say what might have happened if…. (significant happenings here).  It’s one of many marvels when I read Ellen White–this attitude that human freedom changes history and effects the work of God in the world.  Here’s one:

“If followed, the lines of truth He pointed out would have worked a reformation in the religion of the day. A deep interest in spiritual things would have been awakened; and when Jesus began His ministry, many would have been prepared to recieve Him.” DA70.

At the end of this chapter, there are some blunt statments about Mary and Joseph’s parenting. This is a bid deal, especially considering how persausivly Catholics believe that Mary was sinless and divine. Even amoung protestant groups, I have never heard Mary or Joseph censured, but Ellen White’s comments show that they were human, erring, and in need of Jesus as much as I need Him. At some points they fell, and Jesus still turned out all right.  (Comments based on pp. 72-74).

Chapter 7: As A Child

January 25, 2007

Have you wondered when Jesus realized He was different from other kids? We know he knew to some extent at age 12 what His mission would be, but kids don’t generally think about their thinking (meta cognate). In light of such curiosities, I found this chapter to be quite mysterious. Today I will pick some gems from the chapter and respond to each with one question.

1. “He manifested a patience that nothing could disturb.” DA59

Are children or adults more patient?

2. “That which was regarded as superior education was the greatest hindrance to real development. Under the training of the rabbis the powers of the youth were repressed.” DA60

Is Montessori the solution?

3. “Continually He was seeking to draw from things seen illustrations by which to present the living oracles of God.” DA61

Can you think of physical objects or events in our modern society which could be powerful illustrations for spiritual truth?

4. “Temptation, poverty, adversity, is the very discipline needed to develop purity and firmness.” DA62

Do you think our core American Christian belief that adversity is bad or evil has obstructed our development of virtue?

5. “The more quiet and simple the life of the child,–the more free from artificial excitement, and the more in harmony with nature,–the more favorable is it to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength.” DA65.

So which do you think should go first: TV, computer games, the Internet, or the iPod?

And finally, you’ve got to read the section on page 64 of how the songs of Jesus were to his co-workers like therapy and the sweet smell of incense. Don’t forget to sing to your coworkers today.

Just like the Jews, the philosophers who followed the star of Jesus expected royalty. Riding into Jerusalem, they highly expected the new born king to be the main event and story on every tongue. They expected to add their royal gifts to already royal treatment from his own people, but no one seemed to know that Jesus had been born.

“Beneath the lowly guise of Jesus, they recognized the presence of Divinity. They gave their hearts to Him as their Saviour, and then poured out their gifts–‘gold, frankincense, and myrrh.’ What a faith was theirs!” DA53.

Not every wise man can recalibrate wisdom after expectations have been downgraded. These men traveled beyond esoteric philosophical thought, and recognized a God who could be born poor. Might they have felt foolish knocking at the door to the low place where Mary and Joseph were camped in Bethlehem, and at what point did their humility win over pride when they considered the riches they carried? Though upright men, they were pagan men likely believing in many gods, and yet here we see them giving their hearts to Jesus, and their gifts to a poor seemingly uninfluential family.

Do you want mature faith like the Magi demonstrated? How does one find such faith? I think there are clues.

“As these magi studied the starry heavens, … they beheld the glory of the Creator. Seeking clearer knowledge, they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures. …In the Old Testament the Saviour’s advent was more clearly revealed.” DA49

“The travelers beguiled the hours by repeating traditional sayings and prophetic utterances concerning the One they sought. At every pause for rest they searched the prophecies; and the conviction deepened that they were divinely guided.” DA50

Faith and the word of God have always been inextricably linked. Truly, “Man does not live on bread alone.” Neither does his faith.

Week 2

January 21, 2007

I’ve very much enjoyed blogging the Desire of Ages this week. We had three snow days, which afforded extra time, but Calculus sections will have to be mashed into coming weeks, which will be killer.

Feedback on the blog is always fun, but I would most love each of my friends in Christ to be blessed as much as I have in route to a better connection with Jesus. One of the goals is to rope you in to reading also, and if you desire, writing with me. If ideas are planted for how this could best serve the goal of knowing Jesus and what it means to be in Him, please let me know.

The chapters for this week:

We Have Seen His Star
As A Child
The Passover Visit
Days of Conflict
The Voice in the Wilderness.

Peace,

Seth

Chapter 5: The Dedication

January 21, 2007

“To the astonished priest, Simeon appears like a man enraptured. The child has been returned to Mary, and he takes it in his arms and presents it to God, while a joy that he has never before felt enters his soul.” DA44

Men dedicate many things. A few dedicate by the Holy Spirit as Simeon did; so enraptured by what God brings to consciousness that others get lost trying to understand. Such is the scene when the newly dedicated Jesus is lifted to God again by Simeon, confounding the priest who has just finished the ceremony. The first, was liturgically precise, and the second beautifully out of order. The difference was not of form but of depth, and Simeon simply knew what he was holding. Do you know what your holding? I think it’s our hearts he wants?

“So it is still. Events upon which the attention of all heaven is centered are undiscerned, their very occurrence is unnoticed, by religious leaders, and worshipers in the house of God. Men acknowledge Christ in history, while they turn away from the living Christ.” DA45

What are we missing? I can’t imaging that we have it all together compared with Ellen White’s day. The face of Christianity in this culture has had a nose job, cheeks lifted, and is cosmoed up in the latest fashion. I don’t trust it, and fear that I myself have many years of discipline before I will have the spiritual recognition of Simeon. How do we get there? I don’t believe it’s by regulation of our behaviors, nor by assent to emotional heights in worship. I do believe that it is the work of God and that all the components needed to be of such sensitivity to Him have already been gifted and are receivable in Christ:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.Eph. 1:3.

Every spiritual blessing is a lot of blessings. What are those things that can make us so sensitive that we see past religious form, the smell of poverty, and culture expectations? How do we come to dedicate our own hearts to God?