A Call to Stand Apart: Day #9

My Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, I feel like this is such a weird time in my life…transition periods are always that way.  I know that within the next few months a lot of things will be changing in my life.  Almost all for the good, but that doesn’t make them any less difficult.  I pray that you will give me the strength, the knowledge, and the wisdom to help me and everyone involved to make it through this time successfully and in a way that will keep me walking in Your will and the path that you have set for me.  I claim that you will as long as I allow you too.  In Jesus name I pray… -Amen

What Blessed Me From Chapter 9:

This chapter focuses on the way that Jesus got Himself prepared to face the sacrifice that he was preparing to make on the cross…preparing to die.

– “Every human being desires sympathy in times of suffering. Jesus longed for sympathy too. In His time of ultimate agony, He came to His disciples for their comfort. He had always supported them in their troubles, and He longed to know they were praying for Him. He staggered over to the place where He had left them, only to find all three of them asleep […] Sorrowfully, Jesus turned aside to struggle on alone, and there He sweat drops of blood that fell to the ground to mingle with the dew (ACS, p. 47).” ~~ How disheartening this must have been in the midst of this literal life or death struggle!  To not even have some kind of support system when you’re going through your darkest hour can be devastating…even for the One who was both human and divine at once…

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Next Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 10 – “Cruel Crucifixion” (p. 50-56)

Love and God Bless,

– T

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A Call to Stand Apart: Day #8

My Prayer: Lord, I am so grateful that You know my heart and everything that is in it.  It makes it easier to be honest with you and harder to hide things.  But I am forever grateful that with you transparency isn’t just an option…but it’s inevitable. And despite that, you are a loving and forgiving God, as long as we are willing to accept our wrongs and work to change them.  Thank you for your mercy and your grace… -Amen

What Blessed Me From Chapter 8:

Faith like a mustard seed…this issue of faith, believing in what isn’t tangible, is a big struggle for lots of people, myself included.  It’s not easy at all.

– “We can’t change our hearts or make ourselves in the least good. But God promises to do it for us through Jesus. All He asks is that we believe His promise, ask forgiveness for our sins, and commit ourselves to Him. In other words, we make a decision; we use our will. […] Don’t wait to feel good about your decision. Say to yourself, “I believe it; it’s so, because God promised.” Then never turn back (ACS, p. 44)!”

Very short post for a very short chapter…

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Next Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 9 – “Preparing to Die” (p. 46-49)

Love and God Bless,

– T

A Call to Stand Apart: Day #7

My Prayer:  God, thank you so much for speaking through those closest to me.  I appreciate all of the people that You have placed in my life who care enough to support me when I need them, uplift me when I’m down, encourage me when I’m weary, and even lovingly chastise me when I stray from the path to happiness in You.  I pray that You will continue to use them and bless them, and help me to listen. -Amen

What Blessed Me From Chapter 7:

– “Prayer is opening our hearts to God just as we do with a friend. Prayer doesn’t bring God down to us; it lifts us up to Him (ACS, p. 39).”  ~~ When I started thinking about prayer in this way a long time ago, it made it so much easier to do.  Prayer doesn’t have to be formal and rigid.  Yes…God is holy and we are to respect and revere Him as such, but He also calls us His friend and wants us to communicate openly and honestly through prayer.  It’s not like He doesn’t already know all, but I think of it as a kind of therapy.  It helps us a lot more than it does anything for Him.  It gives us the opportunity to share with Him and release exactly what is it we’re thinking and feeling, to make our requests known to God, to ask for forgiveness for those things we have done wrong… In short, it gives us the privilege to communicate to Him about everything and anything whenever we want.

– “Never be reluctant to pray, for prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s treasure house. Without regular prayer we are in danger of growing careless and losing our way (ACS, p. 40).”

CONDITIONS FOR GOD TO HEAR AND ANSWER OUR PRAYERS

1. Feel the Need for His Help – “Unless our hearts are open to the Spirit’s influence we can’t receive God’s blessing (ACS, p. 40).”

2. Have Faith – “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ Mark 11:24, NIV. Even when we do not receive the exact things we pray for, we need to believe; we need to have faith[…]God is too wise to make a mistake and too good to keep from us anything that is for our best good (ACS, p. 40).”

3. Have a Spirit of Forgiveness – “If we expect our prayers to be heard, we must forgive others in the same way and to the same extent as we hope to be forgiven (ACS, p. 40).”

– “[…] take time for personal, private prayer, for it is the very lifeblood of your soul (ACS, p. 41).

– “What will you talk to God about in your personal prayers? Everything! Your wants and needs, your happiness and sadness, your problems and fears, tell it all to God. He will never consider a single word or request a burden, no matter how long or how much you pray […] Nothing is too small for His interest and desire to help you. If it’s something of concern to you, it’s a concern to Him, too. (ACS, p. 41).” ~~ Isn’t this amazingly comforting???  To know that you can talk to to God about ANYTHING and He is willing to listen, even when nobody else is…for that I am FOREVER and ALWAYS grateful and try to never take for granted…

What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? ~~ “To pray in the name of Jesus means more than merely mentioning His name at the beginning or end of a prayer. It means praying in the spirit of Jesus, believing His promises, relying upon His grace, and acting as He would have us act (ACS, p. 41).”

Even with prayer, as with everything else in life, there should be a balance. ~~ “A person who does nothing but pray will soon stop praying meaningfully (ACS, p. 41).”

– “[…] we have an infinitely greater reason to love God than to love our friends, so it should be the most natural thing in the world to make Him first in our thoughts, to talk of His goodness, and to share with others His power in our lives (ACS, p. 41).”

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Next Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 8 – “How to Have Faith” (p. 43-45)

Love and God Bless,

– T

A Call to Stand Apart: Day #6

My Prayer:  God, thank you for allowing me to hear Your voice loud and clear.  You speak words of encouragement when I need them most.  You give correction and chastisement when I know that I’ve done wrong and even sometimes when I don’t.  No matter what You say, Your words are always on time.  And for that…I am grateful. -Amen

What Blessed Me From Chapter 6:

Oh the parable of the sower, found in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.  I love the title of this chapter in the book “The Answer Lies in the Soil”.  The parable and that title honestly speaks for itself easily.  I just love how Jesus used what the people knew and could relate to in order to better understand the gospel that He came to share with them.

– “The Jews of that day were fixated on a Messiah who would reestablish their earthly kingdom. But Jesus explained that the kingdom would not be established by force, violence, or weapons of war. It would come only when a startling new principle found fertile soil in human minds […] He taught them that the same laws that control planting, growth, and harvesting on a farm also apply to the development of our spiritual lives (ACS, p. 33).~~ I really like that metaphor for the mind…”fertile soil”.  Only in fertile soil can their be potential for growth…How fertile is your soil?

What does the seed represent?  “In the story, the seed represents the word of God. Every seed contains life. And every word from God contains life. Jesus said, ‘Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.’ John 5:24 (ACS, p. 34).”

– When a seed is planted in fertile soil, it can only develop into the fruit from whence it came.  It’s impossible for it to do otherwise.  (See ACS, p. 34)

A seed’s environment plays a tremendous role in whether or not it is able to grow. “If you plant seeds under receptive conditions, then the specific life in that seed will grow. In the same way, if you plant the words of God in your life under receptive conditions, they will grow a life and character like the life and character of God (ACS, p. 34).”

The only way we can be effective preachers of the gospel, sowers of the seed that is God’s Word, is if we have a personal experience with Him. “We can teach effectively only what we have experienced. So before we share the good news, we must make it our own by personal experience (ACS, p. 34)

THE FOUR TYPES OF SOIL & THEIR RESULTS FOR THE SEED

1.  The Beaten Path – “The seed that falls on the beaten path is a symbol of God’s Word that comes to an35unresponsive heart. There is much traffic on this path—sinful types of pleasure, selfish career goals, worldly indulgences. Time and attention are completely absorbed, and no attention is given to the words that bring life […] soon our heart becomes like that hard path where the seeds of the gospel were scattered. It is unreceptive and calloused (ACS, p. 34-35).

2. Rocky Ground with Little Soil – “[…] if plants have no root system and can’t access the nutrients and moisture of the soil, they quickly wither. This is a symbol of the reaction of some to receiving God’s Word. There is a profession of interest, an external reaching out to God but, like the rich young ruler, they trust in their own good works instead of the strength and power of the Lord. Self interest continues to remain the active principle of life. There can be intellectual conviction, superficiality of action, but no true heart conviction, which means it soon comes to nothing.  the seed that falls in “rocky places” represents those who act rashly. They don’t count the cost; they act impulsively.  They don’t make a full commitment to the Lord Jesus or to living the life He offers.  Some people accept the gospel as a way out of personal difficulties rather than as a deliverance from sin. They’re happy for a time thinking that religion will solve their problems. And as long as life moves along smoothly, they appear to be consistent Christians. But they faint when confronted by the first fiery temptation (ACS, p. 35-36).”

3.  Soil filled with Thorns & Weeds – “[…] the seeds of God’s love can thrive only when what otherwise “grows naturally” is rooted out, allowing God’s grace to be the active principle in your life. As long as the Holy Spirit is allowed to work, our characters will be refined, and we will find the strength to weed out the habits that are in opposition to God’s will (ACS, p. 36).”
Weeds that can choke our growth:  The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
“[…] we can become so absorbed in secular pursuits that we squeeze out of our lives those essentials for the growth of the seed of God’s Word—time to meditate about God and heaven, time to pray, time to study Scripture, time to seek and serve God. The noise of the world overpowers the voice of the Spirit of God (ACS, p. 37).

{Sidenote:  Wanted to mention this point that EGW made in this chapter concerning the “pleasures of life” that I think is very important to note.  “Jesus talked about “the pleasures of life.” He didn’t mean we were not to have a good time. (After all, He began His ministry in Palestine at a wedding celebration and didn’t hesitate to attend social gatherings such as Matthew’s and Simon’s.) Rather, here Jesus discusses the danger of those kinds of amusements that draw our affections away from Him. He’s condemning indulgences that diminish our physical strength, dull our minds, and numb our spiritual perceptions—all of which stifle spiritual growth (ACS, p. 37).”

4.  Good Ground – “This doesn’t refer to a heart without sin, because the Gospel is to be preached to the lost. Rather, the honest heart refers to one who yields to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confessing guilt, feeling the need of the mercy and love of God. The person who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God is the true learner.  If our hearts become the “good ground,” we will choose38to fill our minds with great thoughts, pure thoughts. Jesus will live in us, producing the good fruit of obedience and good works (ACS, p. 37-38).

– “In each case the farmer is the same, and the seed is the same. So if the Word of God fails to prosper in our lives, the problem lies in ourselves. The results are in our control. It’s true that we can’t change ourselves; but we do have the power of choice, so we determine what we will become. If your experience has been that of a beaten pathway or stony ground, thorns, and weeds, it doesn’t have to continue that way. God’s Spirit is ready to break the old patterns and to give you a new life if you will allow your heart to be “good soil,” a hearer and a doer of His Word (ACS, p. 38).

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Next Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 7 – “How to Pray” (p. 39-42)

Love and God Bless,

– T

A Call to Stand Apart: Day #5

My Prayer:  Lord, please help me to not only want to follow you, but to actually but those wants into action.  I want people to look at me and see a Christian ALL of the time…not just some of the time. -Amen

What Blessed Me From Chapter 5:

Honestly…whenever I read the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22, I get really sad.  Not just because he “went away sorrowfully”, but because the story convicts me, also a young person.  How many of us have spent our entire lives just trying to do the right thing (sometimes just to have it blow up in our faces…but I digress…), trying to be the “best Christian” we can be as far as going by the letter.  But God is telling us…we lack one thing.  And I believe it’s more than just about selling and giving to the poor.  Way more.  I think the underlying issue here…is SACRIFICE.  How much are we willing to give up to follow God and help win souls for Him?

– “If the ruler had joined Jesus, he would have been a great power for good. If he’d made the choice to be a disciple, how different his life would have been.  His life could have become all he wanted it to be. But one thing was missing, just one! To sell and distribute his great wealth and join Jesus would have corrected that one weakness. That action would have emptied self-interest from his life and filled it instead with the love of God. Jesus asked him to make a choice between worldly wealth and heavenly worth (ACS, p. 27).”  ~~ That’s the AMAZING thing about God’s love for us…He never leaves any sacrifice, or anything done for Him, unrewarded.

– ” To join Jesus meant that this young man had to accept a life of self-denial[…] If he had sensed what he would gain in the gift Jesus offered, he would.   Instead, he reflected on what he would lose[…] Yes, he desired eternal life. But he didn’t want all that sacrifice. Finally, having thought it through, he walked away in great sadness. The cost of eternal life seemed too high (ACS, p. 27, 28)” ~~ But seriously…what greater cost could there be than the one that Jesus came to pay?  Is there any greater sacrifice than the laying down of one’s life?

– “Many today face the same choice. They weigh the competing claims of the spiritual world and the material world. And like the young ruler, they turn away from Jesus and say, ‘I can’t serve this Man (ACS, p. 28).‘” ~~ Sound familiar?  Maybe not in so many words but…it sadly definitely rings true.

– “The ruler had been given much so he could demonstrate generosity. It’s the same today. God gives us talents and opportunities to work with Him in helping the poor and suffering. Whenever we use our gifts this way, we partner with God to win others for Christ. Those who enjoy positions of great influence and financial security may think the cost to follow Jesus is too great. But self-surrender is at the very heart of what it means to be His follower.  Often this reality is expressed in language that sounds demanding, but God has no other way to save us except to separate us from whatever will ultimately destroy us (ACS, p. 28).” ~~ !!!! That last sentence right THERE! Mercy!  Smh…I may have to do a separate blog post on that altogether because if that isn’t the truth in its purest form…smh.  But even then…you have to allow Him to do that separation and be willing to accept it…I’ll wait.  Another story for another time…

When looking at the story of the rich young ruler in contrast to that of Matthew the tax collector…we see one who made the sacrifice for the One who could give him what he could never buy…

– “Sitting at his tax desk one day, Matthew saw Jesus approaching. Moments later he was astonished to hear Jesus say, “Follow Me.” Matthew stood up from his desk, left everything as it was, turned away, and followed Jesus. He didn’t hesitate, didn’t question, didn’t give a moment’s thought to his lucrative business or the poverty he was about to receive in exchange. For Matthew, it was enough to be with Jesus, to listen to His words, and to work with Him (ACS, p. 29).”

– “[…] it is only when we renounce our31self-interest that we can become a believer, a follower, a disciple of Jesus. The rich young ruler couldn’t bring himself to do it. Matthew did. One made the right choice; the other didn’t. Matthew was converted and entered a life of joyfilled service. The other continued a life of human prestige, wealth—and emptiness. One found eternal life; the other missed it. When we renounce self-interest, the Lord animates us with new life. Only “new bottles” can contain the “new wine” of a life renewed in Christ (ACS, p. 31).”

– I feel like I definitely just copied and pasted the entire chapter but it was REALLY good and I couldn’t expound upon it anymore than was already said.  This has definitely been my favorite chapter of the book so far.

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Tonight’s Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 6 – “The Answer Lies in the Soil” (p. 32-38)

Love and God Bless,

– T

A Call to Stand Apart: Day #4

My Prayer: Lord, please help me never to stray from Your will. But because You have given me freedom of choice, if I do choose to stray, please give me the conscience and the desire to return to the path that You have set in place for me. -Amen

What Blessed Me from Chapter 4:

– “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…. (ACS, p. 12)”

It’s truly amazing to know that even when we purposefully and spitefully walk away from what we know is right, and the One who loves us most, when we sin, and even in those moments where we make mistakes without being spiteful, I find comfort in knowing that even then, my God will never leave me nor forsake me. As long as I continue to pay attention and listen to still small voice of the Holy Spirit, God’s arms are open and willing to receive me when I repent and return to Him.

– Near the conclusion of the story of the prodigal son (found in Luke 15: 11-24), we see that the prideful son now becomes extremely humbled by his circumstances. It’s also enlightening to see that much like ourselves, when we realize our wrongs, we are much more harsh on ourselves than our Heavenly Father wants to be with us. The prodigal son already had his speech prepared. He knew what he wanted to say, how he wanted to say it. He just wanted to make it back into his father’s house, even if it meant being a lowly servant. He knew that anyway back into his father’s house was better than what he was going through out in the world, and he was willing to do whatever it took.

– “But while he is yet “a great way off” the father discerns his form. Love is of quick sight. Not even the degradation of the years of sin can conceal the son from the father’s eyes. He “had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck” in a long, clinging, tender embrace. The father will permit no contemptuous eye to mock at his son’s misery and tatters. He takes from his own shoulders the broad, rich mantle, and wraps it around the son’s wasted form (ACS, p. 13).”

– In his restless youth the prodigal looked upon his father as stern and severe. How different his conception of him now! So those who are deceived by Satan look upon God as hard and exacting. They regard Him as watching to denounce and condemn, as unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there is a legal excuse for not helping him. His law they regard as a restriction upon men’s happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they are glad to escape. But he whose eyes have been opened by the love of Christ will behold God as full of compassion. He does not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son (ACS, p. 13).

But never let us take advantage of that love He has for us…

Tonight’s Reading: Section 1, Chapter 5 – “When Doing Everything Right Isn’t Enough” (p. 14-17)

Love and God Bless,

– T

A Call to Stand Apart: Day #3

My Prayer:  Lord, please help me to stay focused on you.  There are sooo many distractions around me that I keep allowing to steal the time that I need to build up my relationship with you.  Please, just help me to stay focused… -Amen

What Blessed Me from Chapter 3:

– LOL, you know, it always slightly amuses me that Jesus first big miracle…was turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). Why was THAT His first big shabang? Why didn’t he heal someone? Raise someone from the dead? Nah…he turned water into wine for a lacking wedding reception.  It’s funny because, this miracle in itself says a lot about Jesus’ character.  He’s the one that will provide all your needs.  As simple as that need may have seemed, it was a big deal to the wedding party I’m sure and Jesus wanted them to be happy.  And His presence there made all the difference… “Jesus showed from the start that He wanted people to be happy (ACS, p. 19)”

 “The ‘wine’ of the partying that you and I do ultimately turns sour. But the gifts of Jesus are always fresh. What He provides for us always satisfies and brings us happiness. Each new gift we receive increases our capacity to receive more and enjoy more from Him. He gives grace and still more grace and, unlike the wine at Cana, His supply of blessings never runs short and is never exhausted. Actually, the gift of Jesus to the marriage party is a wonderful symbol. The water in the jars represents His “baptism into death,” and the wine represents His blood spilled for us to cleanse us from sin (ACS, p. 21).” ~~ I honestly think that speaks for itself…

*Feel free to leave your thoughts below*

Tonight’s Reading:  Section 1, Chapter 4 – “You Can Come Home Anytime” (p. 22-25)

Love and God Bless,

– T