Imitation and the Salt Life

The Gospel According to Paul: Follow Me As I Imitate Christ. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, June 4, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 06.04.2018” on Spreaker.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God.

For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret” (Ephesians 5:1–12, NLT).

Explanation of Benefits

Yesterday, we discussed a special benefit of the gospel that had not been revealed in the fulness before the days of the apostles. We are now among those who accept the gospel, which was revealed in a special way never before seen in this world or by the heavenly intelligences. God’s character of love, mercy, and justice is finally being vindicated for the entire universe to see.

Today, we are having a brief look at another unique blessing the gospel brings. A friend of mine once said that to those who are lost, Jesus is their Savior. To those who are saved, Jesus is both Savior and Example. The truth is that nobody who has not yet been reborn through the power of the Holy Spirit can fully follow Jesus’ example of holiness, which is necessary to have eternal life.

The Salt Life

I count it an honor to be among those who are called and chosen to emulate the character of Jesus. Jesus said it this way: “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13–16, NLT).

Give thanks for the blessing of being called to be children of God and to become ambassadors of His love.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?

Channels of Light

The only safeguard against Satan’s power is found in the presence of Jesus.

In the early morning the Savior and His companions came to shore, and the light of the rising sun touched sea and land as with the benediction of peace. But no sooner had they stepped upon the beach than their eyes were greeted by a sight more terrible than the fury of the tempest. From some hiding place among the tombs, two madmen rushed upon them as if to tear them in pieces. Hanging about these men were parts of chains which they had broken in escaping from confinement. Their flesh was torn and bleeding where they had cut themselves with sharp stones. Their eyes glared out from their long and matted hair, the very likeness of humanity seemed to have been blotted out by the demons that possessed them, and they looked more like wild beasts than like men.

The disciples and their companions fled in terror; but presently they noticed that Jesus was not with them, and they turned to look for Him. He was standing where they had left Him. He who had stilled the tempest, who had before met Satan and conquered him, did not flee before these demons. When the men, gnashing their teeth, and foaming at the mouth, approached Him, Jesus raised that hand which had beckoned the waves to rest, and the men could come no nearer. They stood raging but helpless before Him.
With authority He bade the unclean spirits come out of them. His words penetrated the darkened minds of the unfortunate men. They realized dimly that One was near who could save them from the tormenting demons. They fell at the Savior’s feet to worship Him; but when their lips were opened to entreat His mercy, the demons spoke through them, crying vehemently, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most high? I beseech Thee, torment me not.”

demoniac healed
His words penetrated the darkened minds of the unfortunate men.

Jesus asked, “What is thy name?” And the answer was, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” Using the afflicted men as mediums of communication, they besought Jesus not to send them out of the country. Upon a mountainside not far distant a great herd of swine was feeding. Into these the demons asked to be allowed to enter, and Jesus suffered them. Immediately a panic seized the herd. They rushed madly down the cliff, and, unable to check themselves upon the shore, plunged into the lake, and perished.
Meanwhile a marvelous change had come over the demoniacs. Light had shone into their minds. Their eyes beamed with intelligence. The countenances, so long deformed into the image of Satan, became suddenly mild, the bloodstained hands were quiet, and with glad voices the men praised God for their deliverance.

The two restored demoniacs were the first missionaries whom Christ sent to preach the gospel in the region of Decapolis. For a few moments only these men had been privileged to hear the teachings of Christ. Not one sermon from His lips had ever fallen upon their ears. They could not instruct the people as the disciples who had been daily with Christ were able to do. But they bore in their own persons the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. They could tell what they knew; what they themselves had seen, and heard, and felt of the power of Christ.

This is what everyone can do whose heart has been touched by the grace of God. John, the beloved disciple, wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; . . . that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” 1 John 1:1-3. As witnesses for Christ, we are to tell what we know, what we ourselves have seen and heard and felt. If we have been following Jesus step by step, we shall have something right to the point to tell concerning the way in which He has led us. We can tell how we have tested His promise, and found the promise true. We can bear witness to what we have known of the grace of Christ. This is the witness for which our Lord calls, and for want of which the world is perishing.

The encounter with the demoniacs of Gergesa had a lesson for the disciples. It showed the depths of degradation to which Satan is seeking to drag the whole human race, and the mission of Christ to set men free from his power. Those wretched beings, dwelling in the place of graves, possessed by demons, in bondage to uncontrolled passions and loathsome lusts, represent what humanity would become if given up to satanic jurisdiction.
Satan’s influence is constantly exerted upon men to distract the senses, control the mind for evil, and incite to violence and crime. He weakens the body, darkens the intellect, and debases the soul. Whenever men reject the Savior’s invitation, they are yielding themselves to Satan. Multitudes in every department in life, in the home, in business, and even in the church, are doing this today. It is because of this that violence and crime have overspread the earth, and moral darkness, like the pall of death, enshrouds the habitations of men. Through his specious temptations Satan leads men to worse and worse evils, till utter depravity and ruin are the result.

The only safeguard against his power is found in the presence of Jesus. Before men and angels Satan has been revealed as man’s enemy and destroyer; Christ, as man’s friend and deliverer. His Spirit will develop in man all that will ennoble the character and dignify the nature. It will build man up for the glory of God in body and soul and spirit. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” 2 Timothy 1:7. He has called us “to the obtaining of the glory”—character—“of our Lord Jesus Christ; “has called us to be “conformed to the image of His Son” 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Romans 8:29.

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Light In–And At The End Of The Tunnel

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Based Upon Revelation 1:11, 19

“I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;”

Throughout history, the Lord has chosen how to reveal Himself to the world, and on what level. After sin, He revealed Himself to Adam and Eve as the promised seed that would crush the serpent’s head. To Abraham, He revealed Himself as the promised seed that would make faithful people heirs of the salvific promise. To Noah He revealed Himself as the ark of safety into which all who would live must flee. To the children of Israel, He revealed Himself as the heavenly sanctuary to which all of their ceremonies pointed. To Jeremiah, He revealed Himself as the ultimate covenant keeper. To John the Baptist He revealed Himself as Messiah and the light unto the Gentiles. To Martin Luther, He revealed Himself as Author and Finisher of our faith–the only way to salvation. To those living in the last days, He reveals Himself as the only true God, worthy of worship. He is the One who is jealous over His law, and reveals how a powerful God can separate for Himself, a people that will be faithful amidst the persecution of religio-political powers that work against God. He is the One who will soon burst the clouds to take His people to heaven. His progressive revelation can be considered as present truth. In every era, what He revealed of Himself was then a present understanding of God.

When Daniel the prophet was receiving greater light concerning God, there came a point when God restricted his permission to transmit what he had seen. It may be that He even limited his understanding of things to come on some level. “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end,” Daniel 12:8, 9. Only during the end times would God reveal the messages especially tailored for those living in that era.

There is a contrast of times. What God sealed up in Daniel’s time has been reserved for us. We are living in the last days. Thus, it is imperative for us to receive the truth that is present for our day. Truth, though never new, is progressive. As time progresses, so does God’s revelation of Himself. Daniel sealed up the vision, but John the revelator was commanded to write down what he was given by God and deliver it to His people (Revelation 1:11, 19).

It is a blessing to trust that God knows exactly how much and what particular light to give us. As we grow in Him, let us always be willing to understand and do what He reveals.