February 24 Esight, 2010

Two days later there was a wedding at Cana-in-Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, as were Jesus and his disciples. They ran out of wine at the party following the wedding, so Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” He answered, “That is no concern of mine. My hour has not yet come.” His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby were six stone water-jars similar to those used for Jewish rites of purification; each could hold twenty to thirty gallons of liquid. Jesus said the servants to “fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. “Now draw some off,” he ordered, “and take it to the master of the feast”; and they did so. Oblivious to its source, the master tasted the water, which had now turned into wine. He hailed the bridegroom and said, “Everyone else serves the best wine first, and the poorer only when the guests have drunk freely; but you have kept the best wine till now.” – John 2.1-10Wow, water into fine wine…this miracle isn’t just about “chemistry”, though. I recently received a note from a friend expressing the difficulties in “showing” the Father’s character of love to those around us. And I, no doubt, will confess that to take a self-centered human being (And we are all self-centered; I am convinced that genuine other-centered love is truly beyond the capability of any of us without something greater than ourselves, outside of ourselves, awakening and enabling that love.) and turn them into a revelation, a conduit so to speak, of God’s other-centered love is no less a miracle than taking well water and turning it to wine.

But we continually need to be reminded:

“Love is the basis of godliness. Whatever the profession, no man has pure love to God unless he has unselfish love for his brother. 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”(Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 384).

Did you catch it? We can’t love by simply trying to love. Love comes from God (See I John 4.7 NASB and REB). Only by His love for us is love in us awakened. (The Desire of Ages p. 22) True love is as fundamentally different from our natural state as wine is from water. To restore us into the image of that love would, at least for me, be more like turning muddy water into fine wine. This miracle of unconditional love is indeed so beyond the possibility of human origin and rare that, when manifested, it makes even the most ardent Atheists stop and take note. True love is so far beyond any of our capability that John stated that everyone who does love, only does so because they have been born of God. We love only because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 and1 John 4.7)

So, it becomes obvious to the careful reader that what is needed is less “trying” to love on our part, and more “letting” ourselves be loved by Him who did not count heaven itself a place to be desired if we could not be with Him. Only by “believing” and personally “experiencing” His love for us can love spring up in us, like a fountain of living water, and flow out to those around us. He can do it, if we only let Him.

I wish you God’s best this week.

February 15 Esight, 2010

And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51).I have a quick thought for you this week.

I was reading last night the first chapter of John, in which Jesus uses the imagery of a great gulf fixed between us and God. A mystical ladder, upon which angels are descending and ascending, crosses that gulf, descending from God Himself to us; to our surprise, the ladder is God Himself. (See also Genesis 28:12)

I had to stop and ask, what really was this separation between humanity and God? I know that for our own preservation, there needed to be physical separation between us and God’s glory after sin. But relationally, I wonder how much of the separation is truly of God’s creation and how much is our own. I know that sin produces an intrinsic separation between us and the great Lover of our souls. But has God really ever pulled back? Relationally? I believe that our sin, rather than making Him pull back, implores Him from deep within His own heart to press in closer. The greater our need, the greater His desire to save us. He does not abandon us in our moment of need, but on the contrary, He empties Himself completely to meet our need. Sin created the separation and God threw Himself across the chasm to bridge it!

“Though sin had produced a gulf between man and his God, a divine benevolence provided a plan to bridge that gulf. And what material did He use? A part of Himself. The brightness of the Father’s glory came to a world all seared and marred with the curse, and in His own divine character, in His own divine body, bridged the gulf. . . The windows of heaven were opened and the showers of heavenly grace in healing streams came to our benighted world. . . Had God given us less we could not have been saved. But He gave to our world so abundantly that it could not be said that He could love us more . . . God has exhausted His benevolence . . . in pouring out all heaven to man in one great gift. Only in comprehending the value of this offering can we comprehend infinity. O the breadth and height and depth of the love of God! Who of finite beings can comprehend it?” (White, Our High Calling, p. 12).

“God’s love for the world was not manifest because He sent His Son, but because He loved the world He sent His Son into the world that divinity clothed with humanity might touch humanity, while divinity lays hold of divinity.” (Ibid.)

Think of the imagery the God (in human flesh) used. Himself, a latter, for us! When sin created a chasm, a separation between us and Him, He used Himself to bridge the gulf, and whispers to each one of us, “Here, take my hand; I will hold on to you, and I will bring you back home.” What an incredible God!!!

“Let earth be glad, let the inhabitants of the world rejoice, that Christ has bridged the gulf which sin had made, and has bound earth and heaven together. A highway has been cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. The weary and heavy laden may come unto Him and find rest to their souls. The pilgrim may journey toward the mansions that He has gone to prepare for those who love Him” (White, That I May Know Him, p. 82).

I wish you God’s best this week.

February 8 Esight, 2010

. . . And the one who comes to Me, I will certainly not cast out.—John 6:37Or as Peterson paraphrased it, “Once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go” (John 6:37, The Message).

I remember a sermon when I was just a kid in which a question was asked: Does our relationship with God depend on our holding onto Him or on our believing that He is still holding onto us?

My oldest daughter returned from a ski trip yesterday. I taught her how to ski when she was just a little girl, and she’s loved it ever since. But when she was very small, she once slipped off the ski lift. I think of that experience each time she and I hit the slopes. She had lifted the bar early, and then she forgot it was up; when she fell, I caught her by the hood of her ski coat. I was holding onto the back of the lift chair with one hand and her ski coat with the other. When the ground got close enough, we both counted to three and jumped. We landed, and there were no injuries. Today we laugh about it, but neither of us thought it was too funny then.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if her safety that day had depended on her holding onto me, rather than on my holding onto her. The story would not have ended the same, I’m quite sure. Yet how many believe that their eternity depends on their holding onto God. I don’t think that’s how it works at all. I think it’s dependent on our believing that He is still holding onto us.

It was taught by the Jews that before God’s love is extended to the sinner, he must first repent. In their view, repentance is a work by which men earn the favor of Heaven. And it was this thought that led the Pharisees to exclaim in astonishment and anger, “This man receiveth sinners.” According to their ideas He should permit none to approach Him but those who had repented. But in the parable of the lost sheep, Christ teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way.” Rom. 3:11, 12. We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent. (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 189)

Certainly I believe that we can take ourselves out of the hands of God. But if any are lost in the end, it will be their choice, not His. On that day, those who enter into life will look into the eyes of God and simply say, “Thy will be done.” But all who are lost will encounter God Himself, Who will look into their eyes and say to them, “Thy will be done,” even though it is against everything He desires for them.

The love of God still yearns over the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father’s house. The prodigal son in his wretchedness “came to himself.” The deceptive power that Satan had exercised over him was broken. He saw that his suffering was the result of his own folly, and he said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father.” Miserable as he was, the prodigal found hope in the conviction of his father’s love. It was that love which was drawing him toward home. So it is the assurance of God’s love that constrains the sinner to return to God. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Rom. 2:4. A golden chain, the mercy and compassion of divine love, is passed around every imperiled soul. The Lord declares, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Jer. 31:3. (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 202)

I wish you God’s best this week.

February 1 Esight, 2010

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins . . .”—John 3.5Just a short thought this week. John tells us repeatedly that one of the primary purposes for God appearing to us “in the flesh” was to take away our sins. Matthew (1:21) tells us that He came to “save” us “from” them. After all, the wage that “sin pays” is death (Romans 6:23), because when sin is “full grown” it “produces” death (James 1:15). Paul asks the question in his letter to the Romans: “Did that which is good produce death in me?” No, it was “sin producing death in me through what is good” (Romans 7:13). Sin carries death in it intrinsically.

Yet, the good news still remains:

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!“— John 1.29 (emphasis supplied)

And Paul tells us how he did it:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. — Colossians 2:13, 14

He forgave us for all of our sins. He canceled all we owed Him, “took it away” and nailed it to the cross.

There is not the slightest reason why every person on planet Earth should not be saved. Why anyone would choose death is a mystery even for God. If any person is lost at last, it will not be because they didn’t do enough for God to save them — it will be because they held onto the guilt of their sins, which, in God’s eyes, had already been taken away and cast into the depths of the sea.

Do you have something that plagues you today? Something hidden deep within your past but is still troubling you in the present? He loves you, you know? He took away whatever that was long, long ago on a hill far, far away. He bought you with a price, just the way you are. He LOVES you! Won’t you let Him have whatever it is that plagues you and finally stand in peace of His love? Why don’t you take a moment this week to tell Him about it.

I wish you His best this week.