August 26 Esight, 2007

You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD Your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments—Exodus 20:5-6I have come across countless souls who have shared this verse with me as one that causes them much frustration in trying to view God as a God of love. I would remind you that every action, whether good or bad, has an intrinsic result, for good or for ill. What God seems to be saying here is that if the Israelites chase after other gods, that decision would not only hurt them, but also adversely affect their children. The question lies in whether these adverse results are inherent to the worship of idols or whether they are artificially imposed by God. To be honest, the scope of this devotional does not permit us to answer this question adequately. However, I would like to share a thought that may shed light on this issue. Whether or not there are inherently negative consequences to chasing after other gods is obvious to me. There are. What God seems to be saying indirectly is that although these adverse results will be passed down, He will only permit them to be passed down as far as third and in some instances fourth generations. He, in His mercy, limits the damage our ancestors have done to us as well as the damage we can do to our descendants.

What is truly amazing is what He states next: “But [I will] show[-] loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” What makes this statement jump out is captured in the following passage:

“There is in the Hebrew text of this passage no word indicating ‘generation,’ which is supplied by the translators. It is most evident, however, that it is the word required by the sense, and attention is called to it only to point out the fact that the construction is the same as in the next clause, where the word ‘generation’ is not expressed, but where it belongs as surely as in the first. Some have hastily supposed that the ‘thousands’ refers only to individuals, and so have erroneously concluded that God’s chastisements outlast His mercy. Not so. He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him, but shows mercy unto unnumbered thousands of generations of them that love Him and keep His commandments. His wrath is soon appeased, while His mercy flows on to eternity. Other versions than the English state it very plainly.” (E.J.Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant p.310)

Therefore, the decisions we make today will impact those who come after us just as surely as we are bearing the results of the decisions made by those who have come before us. This is unfair I will agree, but the Bible never states that what free moral agents do to one other is always fair. It only states that what God does will always be fair. Nonetheless, praise God, for He will not let those unfair negative results run on endlessly. He will only permit them to run to the third or fourth generation. Notice the alternative. If we, today, allow His love for us to awaken, in our hearts, love for Him and if we follow the principles of His love in all our dealings, the inherent positive results of that kind of life will not only affect the third and fourth generations, but also set in motion blessings upon blessings to the thousand thousandth generation that come afterward. Of course, time will not last that long, but the point seems to be that the positive inherent chain of events we set in motion by submitting to God’s principles of love will continue throughout eternity, positively affecting those who enter the scene after us.

“We are not to regard God as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin. The sinner brings the punishment upon himself. His own actions start a train of circumstances that bring the sure result. Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner . . . and the sure result is ruin and death” (Ellen White, Selected Messages Vol. 1 p. 235).

“For whoever desires to love life and see good days. . .let him turn away from evil and do good” (1 Peter 3:10-11).

This week, thank God that His mercy covers our mistakes. Beyond that, why not set in motion a chain of blessings to the countless generations that come after you by living a life of other-centered love?

August 19 Esight, 2007

By the opening of your hand, every living thing has its desire in full measure.—Psalms 145:16C.S. Lewis is reported to have said, “If I find in myself longings and desire for which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only probable explanation is that I must have been made for a different world.” Have you ever felt a vague longing for something more than you were presently experiencing, but then found yourself at a loss to put your finger on exactly what it was you wanted? You are not alone.

What we are truly longing for is not more of this world’s wares, but to drink deeply of the soul-quenching love we were created for. (For more on this topic, please download To Love and Be Loved from https://renewedheartministries.com/resources.asp?t=sermons.)

Haggai describes God and His love for us as the “desired of all nations.” “‘ …the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:7). David said that from God’s hand every one of us finds every one of our desires fully satisfied.

Yet, there must be a word of caution. An encounter with God, as the majority of Christianity portrays Him today, will not accomplish this satisfaction of the soul. On the contrary, we must experience God as Jesus came to reveal Him. It is only in experiencing the truth of what He really is that we stand in awe. To experience God as He is in Christ leaves us standing in the presence of love beyond description. In each of us, there will begin to be an awakening of deep resonance. Something inside us will begin to whisper, “This, this is what I’ve always been searching for.” We will begin to sense that this encounter, this love, is what we were made for. We will collapse into the embrace of His perfect love, while every fiber of our being says in harmony, “He truly is beautiful if we can just see Him as He truly is.”

Is your heart thirsty for more than this world can give, dear friend? Would you like to experience this deep, soul-quenching love? Embark on a quest of discovery. Make the goal of discovering the truth of God’s character, as seen through Jesus, your paramount goal in life. Then, and only then, will everything else pale in comparison.

“You who in heart long for something better than this world can give, recognize this longing as the voice of God to your soul.” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 28)

“Through influences seen and unseen, our Saviour is constantly at work to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of sin to the infinite blessings that may be theirs in Him. To all these souls, who are vainly seeking to drink from the broken cisterns of this world, the divine message is addressed, ‘Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ Revelations 22:17.” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 28)

August 5 Esight, 2007

. . . where sin abounds, Grace much more abounds.—Romans 5:20Jesus stated that when He, the Comforter, would come, the first thing He would do is convict the world of sin (John 16:8). I don’t know whether this has ever struck any of you as a contradiction. As for me, I used to wonder how He can be convicting us of sin at the same time as He is the comforter. I believe the key to the secret lies in the story of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4.

Jesus offered her living water. Elsewhere we have shown in the Scriptures that this living water is the heart-quenching unconditional love of God that, once received, becomes a well, springing up inside us toward others. But before she could receive this living water, she first had to come to a realization of her own past mistakes while simultaneously realizing God’s unchanging, noncondemning love for her in spite of her past mistakes (for more on this topic, download Windows to His Soul, coming soon to the sermons/downloads page at www.renewedheartministries.com)

You see, in order for one to experience just how unconditional God’s love is, one must first realize his or her own sinfulness. Let me explain further.

The Bible never uses the phrase “unconditional love,” yet the concept is everywhere in the Scriptures. Instead of the phrase unconditional love, the Bible uses the word Grace. You see, Grace (or unmerited favor, as some define it) is still love, but it’s love when that love is not deserved. When humanity sinned, God’s love for us did not change. It simply became unmerited or undeserved. God continued to love us, but now it was in spite of our sin. His affection toward us never lessened along with His continued desire to help, bless, and save us. The angels are not the recipients of God’s grace, for they have never sinned. God simply loves them. God loves we who have sinned just as much as He does the angels, but we call the love He shows us Grace, because by our actions we should have forfeited His love, yet He loves us still the same. Paul tried to communicate this in his famous statement to the believers in Rome:

“… where sin abounds Grace does much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

John sought to communicate this truth in I John 2:1: “If any man sin we have a [comforter] along side the Father.”

Some will say, “Wait, the verse states that Jesus is our advocate, not our comforter.” Yet the word translated as “advocate” is parakletos. It is used five times in the New Testament and only in this verse was it translated as advocate. Everywhere else it was translated as comforter (AV). Jesus hints at this when He says to His disciples that when He departs, He will ask “the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16, emphasis added). This brings us back to our original question. How is it that when the Holy Spirit comes as a comforter, His first job will be to “convict the world concerning sin”? (John 16:8). Ask yourself, why is He doing this? The Holy Spirit was given to usher in the fullness of our encounter with God and His love that Jesus began. Thus, as Jesus sought to have the woman at the well encounter God’s much more abounding grace in spite of her sin, the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish this encounter for every person in the world! In order for the world to see God’s much more abounding grace, it must also see its sin along side God’s amazing grace which undeservedly much more abounds.

“No matter how greatly sin abounds, in that very place grace superabounds . . . the greater and more hideous and deadly sin is seen to be, the more is God’s superabounding grace magnified.” (E.J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant p. 290)

“In the matchless gift of his Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace, as real as the air which circulates around the globe” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 72).

The question for you this week is, will you choose to breathe it?