December 23 Esight, 2009

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.— Micah 5.2Part Two:

Last week we began by looking at the above verse. We began pondering how Love, which has no beginning and has no end, no reason for it’s existence, how it became Incarnate, took on itself a “beginning” that it might also find an “end” through which we might see with our eyes, understand with our hearts and be healed. (Isaiah 6.10, Matthew 13.15)

If we will simply pay attention to what the following passage is telling us, we will begin to see that this verse truly captures the core mission of why God Himself, in human flesh, would come to this lonely planet.

FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’- Matthew 13.15

Since writing to you last week, I have read (over and over again) the first chapter of one of my favorite books to read this time of year. I would like to simply share a selection with you and hope that between now and Christmas, if even only on Christmas day, you might take the time to go back and read the whole chapter with me. It has truly stirred my heart with the deepest resonating emotions. I am filled once again with deep heart gratitude and appreciation, “Awe“, for the type of being who has pursued me all my life, that I might simply see what was in His heart for me. Truly we are the offspring of an incredible God. And truly He is worthy of our deepest love in return.

“By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of God,–God’s thought made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, “I have declared unto them Thy name,”–“merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”–“that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” But not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which “angels desire to look,” and it will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God . . . In heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he deceived angels. Thus he deceived men. He led them to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world. {DA 21.3} . . . The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2. {DA 22.1} . . . The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God’s grace much more abounds. The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted. Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, where the Son of God tabernacled in humanity; where the King of glory lived and suffered and died,–here, when He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, “and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift, —God with us.” (White, The Desire of Ages, Chapter 1)

I wish you the merriest Christmas during this holiday season . . .

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2.11

December 14 Esight, 2009

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. —Micah 5.2, ASVFew things in this life are eternal. It is said all good things come to an end, but this is not altogether true. For there is one good thing that always has been and always will be—love.

The above verse from the prophet Micah reminds us of that. He who is love (I John 4:8), and has always been love, has also always been. He is from “everlasting” (see above). His love is eternal, everlasting, and unquenchable (Jeremiah 31:3, Song 8:6,7). We cannot change it (James 1:17), we cannot stop it (Psalms 100:5), and two thousand years ago, that same love became incarnate (John 1:14). That which knew no beginning nor no end “began,” for the very first time in universal history, in a small manger in Bethlehem so that it might also, for the very first time, find and “end” for you and me (Hebrews 2:9). He was the fullness of that love in “bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

“The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, ‘with healing in His wings’” Mal. 4:2 (White, The Desire of Ages p. 22).

These are thoughts, well worth dwelling on. We will continue next week, but until then, may these thoughts be present on your mind and in your heart, during this time of year especially.

Happy holidays.

December 8 Esight, 2009

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.—James 1.26,27Recently on Facebook, I posted the above verse on my personal page, and the question was raised, “What does it mean to keep oneself unstained by the world?” It produced a lot of responses, but as I’ve thought about it, I’m convinced that our definition of “worldliness” has too often been far too shallow.

You see, in this world, there are really only two principles striving for the mastery. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but it really is this simple: self-centeredness or other-centeredness. Each is awakened by its own demonstration. Each grows exponentially based on its own expression. They are both contagious and grow very rapidly once set in motion.

Anyone who has followed the messages of Renewed Heart Ministries closely is already familiar with the concept that “by Love is Love awakened” (Desire of Ages, p. 22). I’m reminded of the now-famous story of how a single customer at a Starbucks during a holiday season, early in the morning, paid for the coffee of the person in line behind him, and how that continued all day long until closing, each person paying for the next. Each was “paying it forward,” so to speak. (I know coffee isn’t good for you; don’t miss the point of the story, though!) Love awakens love. This is a small example of the universal principle that John the beloved shared with us in his letter: “We love, because He first loved us.” —1 John 4.19

However the opposite is also true: by selfishness is self-centeredness awakened . Out of self-preservation when we encounter selfishness in others, it is very easy for us then to protect and focus on ourselves.

To live “in the world” but not be “of the world” (John 17:14, 15) is quite possibly the greatest challenge for those who believe in Love. To remain a source of other-centered love in the world, to pass love along in the face of a world almost wholly “self” preoccupied is what it means to keep one’s self stained by the world. It means to refuse to allow self-centeredness to become our focus but to follow the Lamb, to embrace the principle of the Cross, to remain, in a world where iniquity (self) abounds, but to be instead, other-centered. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end [whose love endures to the end], he will be saved.” —Matthew 24.12, 13.

Now that we understand what it means to remain unstained by the world, how do we do it? Well, we really need to understand that we, alone, cannot do it. What we need is something outside of ourselves to accomplish it for us. We need something greater than ourselves. We need a love that so far eclipses this world’s selfishness that it continues to awaken and keep love alive in us. Thus, quite simply, we keep our eyes on the Great Lover of the Universe; we keep believing and focusing on how much He loves us, and His Love does the rest.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. —Ephesians 5.1, 2

I wish you God’s best during this holiday season.

Happy Holidays.