January 30 Esight, 2008

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.—Revelation 14:1Do you long to know God more deeply? Are you tired of all the voices in your head saying contradicting things about the character of our God? Does God’s love sometimes seem more confusing to you than simple? Please don’t despair. I have good news for you.

The book of Revelation speaks about a special work Jesus is going to do for you in regards to your desire to truly know His inmost thoughts and feelings for you. It’s called the sealing.

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads’” (Revelation 7:1-3).

But what is it that is being sealed? Look carefully at this week’s opening text (Revelation 14:1). What is being sealed is the name or character of our God in our innermost thoughts and feelings so that nothing can shake us in our understanding of what our God is truly like. Would you like this blessing, dear reader? The promise is sure.

“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3-4).

But we do not have to wait till the streets of gold to have this grand experience.

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved—just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming” (MS 173, 1902, emphasis added).

Did you catch that? We have been living in the time of the sealing for over 100 years. God is persistently but desperately trying to accomplish this in you right now. I meet so many people each weekend who are genuinely confused over what God thinks and feels toward them. And it’s no wonder when we stop to listen to all contradictory things we say about our God. We don’t yet truly see Him or His love as it really is. My desperate cry this week, my prayer, is that we will cease our cultural resistance and allow the settling into the truth of God’s character of love to reach its long-awaited, glorious, triumphant accomplishment in our hearts. That we will truly be the ones who “hasten” the fulfillment of His greatest desire. That His heart’s cry to be simply understood by us will finally find its fruition in the hearts of His people in this generation. Won’t you give Him, dear friend, opportunities, a little of your time? Open His Word this week, spend some time simply “with Him” this week, and let Him guide you more deeply into the most important experience of the ages? An encounter He calls “the sealing.”

January 20 Esight, 2008

“For Christ’s love compels us . . .”—2 Corinthians 5:14″It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan and men actuated by his spirit that seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederate with evil angels bring suffering upon their fellow men in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love. There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas” (The Desire of Ages, p. 487).

Christianity has a long history of tactics used to try to compel the consciences of others or to mandate group belief in a list of dogmas. What strikes me in the above statement is the method, by contrast, that Christ is “ever” using. He is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win our hearts by the silent yet powerful revealing of His everlasting, unchanging love. Yet what’s so bad about applying a little pressure or a little discomfort to try to move another into a belief system that harmonizes with one’s own? The result is dangerous, even satanic. Christianity’s history was outlined in advance in the book of Revelation.

I would like you, dear reader, to consider briefly this week the prophecy found in Revelation, Chapter 6. I would also like you to remember, as you read it, that the definition of “conquer” is to take control by force or authority. Watch the activity of the white horse and its rider and look for what results from its use of a different method other than our Savior’s.

“I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. [Emphasis supplied]

When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:2-8).

Did you catch the progression? When Christians use force, when we try and control what others believe, when we fail to simply be ever seeking to win through the revelation of love, the results, either in part or in whole, on a small scale or large, are always the same. When the white horse (God’s pure church) uses the principles of force and control (conquering and to conquer), it always leads to a red horse and bloodshed, which, in turn, leads to a black horse and famine for the pure truth of the gospel concerning God’s character, which, in turn, leads to a pale horse and spiritual death for all involved, both within the church and without.

Revelation Chapter 6 is given to us as a warning, dear fellow believer. It is a wake-up call, especially in today’s climate of Christian legislation, to remember that “It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Savior’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him” (The Desire of Ages p. 480).

This week, why don’t you choose to go against the grain? Regardless of what others around you are doing, won’t you let heaven reveal its LOVE through you, instead? Look for ways you might simply help and bless those whom God brings across your path. Give yourself to heaven to be a channel of its “disinterested benevolence.” You’ll be amazed at how many are won when Christians too are “ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love.”

January 13 Esight, 2008

“Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’”— Isaiah 40:9Cry out! Spare not! Sound it from the rooftops! Explain to those who will hear, “Behold your God!” This is to be our message! Everything we say and do is to be for the purpose of revealing the character of our God to the world.

This week I find myself seated on an airplane. I’m on my way to give more presentations, but today seems different. I’ve spent the day in airports, watching hundreds, if not thousands, of people as our lives intersect, our paths cross if only but for a moment. My heart goes out to them. How in the world are we going to tell them all? Some will say, “Well, we have modern media, technology, the internet.” But to all those well-meaning answers I say, “Stop.” What the world needs, especially in this “information” age, is more than simply the intellectual communication of Biblical facts broadcast over the technology of airwaves. What this world needs is not YouTube. What the world is in desperate need of is a living, breathing, personal demonstration. Not more religion, but an exhibition. The world doesn’t need to just hear more information, they need to see something. Something alive, something tangible, something they can reach out and touch. What the world needs is an encounter!

Could that be what God is whispering to His church in these last days? Yes, the information we have to share is important, but it wasn’t until the “Word” was made flesh long ago that we truly beheld the Glory of the Father. When that happened, it changed the world. It birthed a movement. It parted time. All events, from the dawn of time to the end of this age, are today referred to as either happening before or after that great cosmic event. Could God be wanting to reveal His love in human flesh again? What will it look like? What will be its focus? What will be its effect? We’ve been told it will take place. The only question is, will God have a people who so come to know Him and His love for them, that the very same love is awakened in their hearts toward those around them, as well?

“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain” (White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 69).

“Love is the basis of godliness . . . But we can never come into possession of this spirit by trying to love others. What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within — when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance” (Ibid., p.384).

“The one thing essential for us in order that we may receive and impart the forgiving love of God is to know and believe the love that He has to us” (White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 116).

Did you catch that? Maybe the hold-up is that we still don’t realize the “love that He has to us.” Could it be that simple? But, oh, how profound. The work that Jesus began of revealing the Father’s love will find its culmination and glorious triumph. My prayer is that it finds that fulfillment in our generation. If that is your desire, too, please join me in the following prayer.

“Dear Heavenly Father, please take my life today. Show me Your love in a depth I have yet to experience. Change my false pictures of You. May Your love awaken in my heart that same love for those around me. Use me, Father; I give myself to you whole-heartedly. May the impulse to help, bless, forgive, and love spring forth from my heart as a result of a deep heart encounter with Your love for me in these last days. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.”

And may it begin for you, dear reader, today.

January 7 Esight, 2008

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21).The tense of the Greek word for “raises,” in the above verse, is present active! It is not has raised or will raise at some point in the future (although this is true). This verse states that God is right now raising the dead, bringing them to life, causing them to move on.

In the beginning, God had warned, “In the day that you eat from [the tree] you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). On that day, they should have died. But, we have a Savior who is, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

“After the fall, Christ became Adam’s instructor. He acted in God’s stead toward humanity, saving the race from immediate death” (White, Signs of the Times, May 29, 1901).

“This was the position of the human race after man divorced himself from God by transgression. Then, he was no longer entitled to a breath of air, a ray of sunshine, or a particle of food. And the reason why man was not annihilated was because God so loved him that He made the gift of His dear Son . . .” (White, 1888 Materials, p. 814).

But this does not apply only to Adam and Eve. Have you sinned, dear reader? Then Christ has been saving you, too, every moment of your life, from “immediate death.” We should all be dead right now, but we serve a God who is “right now” raising you and causing you to live on. “As our Mediator, Christ works incessantly. Whether men receive or reject Him, He works earnestly for them. He grants them life and light, striving by His Spirit to win them from Satan’s service” (White, Review and Herald, March 12, 1901, par. 5).

God is giving you life, today, dear reader. Some theologians may ask, “Yes, but what type of life is it, eternal or temporary?” Listen carefully. God has given you life. Life! You determine, by your acceptance or rejection of this gift , whether it is eternal or temporary. Why don’t you take time this week to say, “Thank you,” and make His gift of life for keeps, eternal. Nothing would make Him happier than for you to decide to keep it forever.