Friday, June 29, 2012

To my class: Class of 2012

So, we have graduated from Fountainview Academy. Life is taking a new turn. College. There are new challenges, new stresses, new problems, but through it all, I know that Jesus Christ is by my side even if I can't feel it. And He is by your side as well...Last night, I was looking for a verse to encourage a friend of mine, and I came across a verse that I know I have read before, but it didn't mean as much to me when I read it before as when I read it last night. Gen 49:24 and 25, "But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above." I thought it was a pretty neat verse! God has promised to place His hands on us and our hands to give us strength, and many blessings! What a great promise to carry with us as we enter into a new phase of struggles! God is still there!! And I'm praying for each one of you!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thief on the Cross

So all of us have experienced those little convictions. You know, the ones like, “Kalyse, you should bring an extra jacket with you to school today.” “but I'm not cold?” “Just bring it Kalyse.” and when I get to school, there is someone else who is cold, and didn't bring a jacket, so I can give them mine. Those are little convictions that we all have. But there are also big convictions, ones about our character, and who we are becoming. How often do we push these convictions, big or little, aside? These convictions are evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It's easy to push those aside when we get busy and we can't hear the Holy Spirit's voice as well. While I was home at the end of May, I had the time to sit and really listen for the Holy Spirit. And God showed me a lot of things. I want to share with you some of the things that I learned, and I want you to focus on listening to the Holy Spirit speak to your heart.  
Read Luke 23:39-43

Here we read about these two malefactors, is what my Bible reads, which means someone who committed a crime. Earlier, it mentions these two men, and calls them thieves. So, on either side of Jesus, there is a thief. One is calling him names, and joining in the crowd in mocking Jesus. But the other? After joining in with the mocking and jeering, he stops, and begins to think, and then he can't just listen any longer. He says to the other thief, “What do you think your doing? This is the Son of God, who has done nothing wrong! You deserve to be on that cross. This Man doesn't.” You know, something that seemed interesting to me, was that this story is only mentioned in Luke. Out of the four gospels, Luke is the only one who wrote down what the thief said. It makes this guy seem kinda insignificant doesn't it? But really, we have a lot to learn from him. I'm going to read to you what Ellen White had to say about him in Desire of Ages.

To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. Both the men who were crucified with Jesus had at first railed upon Him; and one under his suffering only became more desperate and defiant. But not so with his companion. This man was not a hardened criminal; he had been led astray by evil associations, but he was less guilty then many of those who stood beside the cross reviling the Saviour. (deep down in his heart, he knew what was right, he just wasn't able to find the strength to do it.) He had seen and heard Jesus, and had been convicted by His teaching, but he had been turned away from Him by the priests and rulers. Seeking to stifle conviction, he had plunged deeper and deeper into sin, until he was arrested, tried as a criminal, and condemned to die on the cross. (This is huge. Here were the rulers and the leaders of the nation, and they were leading the people astray. This man may have looked up to the priest and rulers, then in their contempt or Jesus, persuaded him that Jesus was a fake. Friends, each of us have an influence. You as a student, have people that look up to you. Someone that you may not even be aware of, looks up to you. Are you going to lead them astray by your words and actions? Or are you going to lead them to Christ? In the end of time, at the judgment, will there be someone who might have been in heaven if you had led them to Christ instead of away from Him? We must be so careful that our example is one that is worth people looking up to. Not because they are seeing us, abut because they are seeing Christ.) In the judgment hall and on the way to Calvary he had been in company with Jesus. He had heard Pilate declare, “I find no fault in Him." (It is interesting, because we don't often think that this thief saw so much of Christ's life. He was there in the judgment hall, he heard Pilate's words.) He had marked His godlike bearing, and His pitying forgiveness of His tormentors. On the cross he sees the many great religionists shoot out the tongue with scorn, and ridicule the Lord Jesus. He sees the wagging heads. He hears the upbraiding speeches taken up by his companion in guilt: “If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us." (Little did they know, that Jesus was indeed saving them, and Himself by not coming down off the cross.) Among the passers-by he hears many defending Jesus. He hears them repeat His words, and tell of His works. The conviction comes back to him that this is the Christ. (The Holy Spirit was at work in this mans heart big time. The Holy spirit had been trying to work on his heart all his life, but it wasn't until this moment, when he was in such pain, that he followed the conviction, and choose to believe in this Man who was dieing beside him.) Turning to his fellow criminal he says, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" (This thief was calling Jesus, God. "Look, don't you fear this Man? This isn't your everyday Man, there is something special about Him, can't you see it?" Here this man was in so much pain, yet he was still thinking clearly.) The dying thieves have no longer anything to fear from man. (He was saying, "This Guy couldn't hurt you any more then you already have been, if He were a mere Man. But He's not.) But upon one of them presses the conviction that there is a God to fear, a future to cause him to tremble. And now, all sin-polluted as it is, his life history is about to close. “And we indeed justly,” he moans; “for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss.” There is no question now. There are no doubts, no reproaches. When condemned for his crime, the thief had become hopeless and despairing; but strange, tender thoughts now spring up. He calls to mind all he has heard of Jesus, how He has healed the sick and pardoned sin. He has heard the words of those who believed in Jesus and followed Him weeping. He has seen and read the title above the Savior’s head. He has heard the passers-by repeat if, some with grieved, quivering lips, other with jesting and mockery. The Holy Spirit illuminates his mind, and little by little the chain of evidence is joined together. In Jesus bruised, mocked, and hanging upon the cross, he sees the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Hope is mingled with anguish in his voice as the helpless, dying soul casts himself upon a dying Saviour. “Lord, remember me,” he cries, “when thou comest into Thy kingdom.” Quickly the answer came. Soft and melodious the tone, full of love, compassion, and power the words: Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise. (In that short sentance, the thief on the cross who deserved to be there, was given pardon, and everlasting life.)

A thought that I find very encouraging, is this: turn with me to Gal 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” Christ is to be formed in us right? ok...turn with me to 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” So every morning, when you look at yourself in the mirror you need to see Christ. Not yourself. This is kind of along the lines of what Scott Morr was sharing with us Monday night at FVA. But when we look into the mirror, and we behold the glory of the Lord, what does that mean? It means, that we have every virtue and quality of Christ in us. All we need to do is focus on developing those qualities. Yet even that isn't a job that we an accomplish on our own. We are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. The Holy Spirit changes us. He develops those positive character traits in us. But we still have a part to share in that changing process. We need to wake up and look in the mirror, and be like...ok...this is something that I appreciate about Jesus, and He is in me, that must mean, that I can be like that too. So today, I'm going to work on being more patient.....or something like that. Not...ugh...this is what I hate about myself and I need to change it. Big difference. When we focus on the sin, we are acctually making it a much bigger deal then it needs to be. But when we focus on the positive traits that we want to develop, we become a better person, and often those bad traits dissapear. We need to daily follow the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and change. This is something that doesn't happen over night. We have to invest time and energy into this process. And this is something the devil knows. So he fills our lives with so much business that we don't have the time to focus on changing and becoming more like Christ. So when you guys are home this summer. You are going to have lots of time. Don't waste it. And when you go back to school next year. Make the time to focus on the person that you want to be, and then make it reality. Don't just live your life and take the bumps and twists that come in the road. Take action. Friends, there is one thing that make us different from the thief on the cross. He had to just accept Christ's victory for him. Which is something we must do as well, but this thief was dieing. He didn't have a chance to live it out in his life. We still have our lives to live. We must accept Christ’s victory, and then we can change, and live the life which God desires us to live. We have that chance. Praise the Lord! Don't let it slip by because you didn't take the time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Psalm 73:24, 26, 28

Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Thy works.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Peter- The Hour Before

Note: To the music office workers and studio workers, this is the long version of what I shared for church at Seton. It has more content then what I shared, so please keep reading! :)

A few mornings ago, I was reading in Matthew 26. I was reading about Christ's last few days on earth, the passover, and then Gethsemane. As I was reading, something that really caught my attention was verse 45. "Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." This was after Christ had prayed three times, and He had tried to get the disciples to pray with him as well. But every time He came back to them, they were asleep. Ok, so lets start reading a few verses back.

Verse 36: "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, 'Sit here, while I go and pray yonder.' And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.' (In Luke 22:40 "And when He was at the place, He said unto them, 'Pray that ye enter not into temptation'.") And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.' And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, (NOTICE: it says that Jesus saith unto Peter. It said the same thing in Mark.) 'What could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, thy will be done.' And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh He to His disciples, and saith unto them, 'Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners'." that is a lot in one mouth full! Lets take it apart bit by bit. The first thing to notice is that when Jesus came back from praying the first time and he found the disciples asleep, He spoke to Peter. Now why would He specifically address His words to Peter? Well, if you remember a few verses back during the passover supper, Peter had just told Christ that He would die with Him if need be, and that he would NEVER deny Christ. Yet Jesus knew something that Peter didn't, and He tried to get Peter to understand. Peter's spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak. Peter needed to pray before the hour of temptation so that he wouldn't fall. This is what Christ was doing. In Luke 22:43 it says, " And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." In answer to Christ's prayer, God sent an angel to give Him strength for his coming hardship. Look at the difference between what happened to Christ after praying and Peter after sleeping. Peter fell and Christ was victorious. In Luke once again, it says in verse 31 and 32, "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.'" Satan desires to have each one of us, that he may sift us as wheat. Yet, just as Christ prayed for Peter, He is praying for us as well. His prayer is in John 17 and I encourage you to read it, because it is so encouraging to know that Christ is praying for us. But notice, Christ is praying that we are not taken out of the world, but that we are kept from temptation in the world. Yet even though Christ was praying for Peter, he still fell. Why? Because He didn't set aside that time to pray for himself. That hour before he was tempted was when he needed to have prayed the most. That is why when we come to Matt verse 36 Jesus said, "Sleep on..." Peter had slept through the time when he should have been praying, and now that the hour of temptation had come he might as well be sleeping. When we pray earnestly before the hour of temptation, for Christ to help keep us from falling when we are tempted, then the very exact moment that we are tempted we instantly have extra strength from God to resist. For me, it is so much harder to stay strong through temptation if previously I haven't asked God to keep me from falling. My spirit is willing, I want to stay strong and do what Jesus has asked me to do, but my flesh is weak unless I pray for strength. That hour before we are tempted is so important. If every morning, we make it a habit to beg the Lord for strength to resist temptation for that day, then He will send us an angel to strengthen us just like He did for Christ. And just as Christ was, we can be victorious through His strength.