‘Divine Appointments’ or Why Free Wifi at 10.000 m (30.000 feet) height are no temptation at all.

Today I traveled from Oslo, Norway to Vienna, Austria after I had been working up there for about a month. But the story from today starts already a few years ago.

At this time I had been slowly getting closer to God and His plan for my life. Until then I never really wanted to share my faith, mostly because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to defend it and be ridiculed. However God started to break down that barrier in my life and I found myself praying for a possibility to share my faith and witness. Obviously God didn’t lead me to a person on my daily 1 hours of bustravel to work. Why? I had my headphones on and didn’t want to be bothered. So much for that.

But my prayer would be answered sooner than I had expected!

One evening my neighbor, who happened to be an Adventist believer, came up to me and asked me to come to talk to a stranger she had picked up from the street and who was looking for a place to sleep. This was a very interesting, strange, but very positive encounter. That person had lots of questions about God and I believe for the first time I was witnessing and sharing God and what He had done in my life without being scared. It would take too long to tell the details of this story, but in short: God perfectly timed this – what I call – divine appointment. It was no accident that this guy and I had met. I hope I’ll see him in heaven one day.

Ok, now back to what happened earlier today.

Yesterday night I talked to God and asked Him to bless this trip I was taking back home and to plan divine appointments, if He wants to.

Beware! If you pray for mission-opportunities, your prayer will be heard. That just on a side-note.

So this morning I got on the bus to Oslo Airport. You have to know, I caught a bad cold the other day and basically I was constantly blowing my nose and having a hard time to stay focused because I felt like I had a waterfall coming out of my nose.
I’ll spare you the details on that.
In any case, I already had my doubts if God would want me to meet somebody with those ‘issues’ going on in my face.

I finally boarded the half-empty plane. While entering I was very surprised to see a “WiFi on board” sign at the entrance of the plane. First time I have seen that in an airplane and I was confused, since they always make sure your phone is turned off during flight.

So as I entered I was thinking “Oh, I might be able to message people who I appreciate and just let the time fly by through WiFi”. I found my seat. It was 15D. Emergency seat. Just like I ordered, with extra space for my long legs.

So as I was getting comfortable (as comfortable as one can be in a metal box that soon will be high up in the sky) my nose was being troubled by the cold air coming from the AC in the plane. So, being this, with a cold stricken wreck, constantly sneezing and with a nose in ‘river-mode’, I was probably the last person anybody on that flight would have wanted to have contact with for the upcoming 2 hours in the sky.

Nevertheless a guy sitting across from me, one row further up turned around and asked if I had an allergy. I told him that I didn’t but that I had a cold. He went on telling me about his weekend in Norway and we got into some small talk. Soon I realized that he was open for a longer-than-usual conversation. So I decided to seat myself next to him. I am sure his twisted neck was very happy about that too.
Inside I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide my words and the man’s thoughts.

After I answered his question on what I was studying in college (theology, in case you didn’t know) I found myself in a long conversation about theology, bible, church history and the reliability of God’s word. He was definitely better informed about religion than the average European these days and so we had discussions on various topics.
When I talked about the Sabbath, and my view on scripture, that I take it as what it claims to be, namely words inspired by God, he was very astonished. Here and there I was also able to share the truth about salvation. To him coming from a catholic background, he seemed not to fully have understood it yet. That salvation is free. A gift from God.We continued talking about a whole lot more. Hell, creation, God’s benevolence etc.

No, he didn’t want to be baptized after we landed. He didn’t ask where the next Seventh-Day Adventist Church is to be found either nor did he ask for bible-studies.

However I am convinced that God in His omniscience had carefully planned this divine appointment. Seeds of truth could be sown into this man’s heart, and the Holy Spirit will have more He can work with. All glory be to God!

The funniest thing about it is, that the conversation between Dennis (that’s his name by the way) and me started because of the very thing I was afraid would scare everyone away – my running nose!!

Truly our impossibilities are God’s opportunities!

I praise God for hearing my prayers and surprising me with His well arranged divine appointments.

It didn’t stop there. Later today I had another chance to talk to a young girl, while waiting for my train from Vienna to my hometown. She didn’t believe very much in God’s existence but I was able to share a few words on my faith and again I am sure God will go on working with these seeds that have been planted into her thinking.
If you want to, you are very much welcome to pray for both, Dennis and the girl. Pray that this encounter with God will not be destroyed by the enemy who is always very angry when we share our faith with people he claims to own.

So my appeal to you is the following:

Don’t’ be afraid of asking for mission-opportunities. Ask for divine appointments!

Sharing Jesus with others will actually strengthen your relationship with Jesus and at the same time you are taking part in saving souls for God! Isn’t that awesome?!

To be a tool in God’s hands is the best possible work one can ask for.

It makes faith real.

Why don’t you tell Him today that you are available for a divine appointment?!

You will not regret it.

“In His wisdom the Lord brings those who are seeking for truth into touch with fellow beings who know the truth. It is the plan of Heaven that those who have received light shall impart it to those in darkness. Humanity, drawing its efficiency from the great Source of wisdom, is made the instrumentality, the working agency, through which the gospel exercises its transforming power on mind and heart.” – Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p.134

“There are in our world many who are nearer the kingdom of God than we suppose. In this dark world of sin the Lord has many precious jewels, to whom He will guide His messengers.” – Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p.140

Why the Apostle Peter And I Can Shake Hands.

I recently finished reading the book ‘The Desire Of Ages’ by the inspired author Ellen G. White. I must say it has truly been a blessing to read this for my morning devotions. She gives us a wonderful insight into the life and work of Jesus, while He was here on Earth. If you want to know more about Jesus, this book is a must-read! And I can recommend to read it together with the account given in the gospels.

While I was reading about how Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God and how He tried to show them what his work on Earth really was all about, besides gaining lots of practical applications for my life, I also more and more identified myself with the disciple Peter.

He is the active one, the one who always opens his mouth, the one who is very eager to ‘do’ something. He is the sanguine leader-type-of guy.

We can see this clearly when he said to Jesus: Though they all [speaking of the other disciples] fall away because of you, I will never fall away … Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!“ – Matthew 26:33.35

Or later in the garden Gethsemane, where He was actually ready to kill for Jesus.
Mrs. White describes him like this:

“Peter was always speaking unadvisedly, from the impulse of the moment. He was always ready to correct others, and to express his mind, before he had a clear comprehension of himself or of what he had to say.” (DA, p.814)

This was the Peter before his fall. Before he betrayed his Master.

So, why can I identify with Peter so well?
The answer is easy. I am also a sanguine person.
I get ‘on-fire’ for things really fast, if they seem to be important and I speak up if necessary. So I can totally understand Peter’s enthusiasm. It’s not fake. He is not pretending to be enthusiastic. He really was convinced but also he really wasn’t converted.

And that is also why Peter’s story is so appealing and so full of hope for me.
I had to go through the same process as Peter. I always believed in God. I knew that the Adventist faith made sense and was the truth. I could have signed the 28 fundamental beliefs without a problem. But still, I wasn’t converted.

And this is a dangerous position to be in. Not only for the sake of your eternal life, but also because of the influence you have on the people around you.
You see, if you know the truth, but don’t live it motivated by the love to Jesus as God, you become a hypocrite.

And a sanguine hypocrite is even worse!

Eventually I ended up denying Jesus. Not in the same way as Peter did, but by constant, conscious turning away from Jesus. To God be the glory, He didn’t give up on me. Just like He didn’t give up on Peter.

I hit black-bottom. Myself disgusted me.
Writing about Peter, right after denying Christ, the prophetess says: “He reflected with horror upon his own ingratitude, his falsehood, his perjury” (DA, p.713)
This was the point when Jesus took over. This was the point when Peter and I finally gave in to Jesus and gave it all to Him. Repentance. Conversion.

Let’s read what happened to Peter afterwards:

“The converted Peter was very different. He retained his former fervor, but the grace of Christ regulated his zeal. He was no longer impetuous, self-confident, and self-exalted, but calm, self-possessed, and teachable.” (DA, p.814)

It is the grace of Christ, which changes a stubborn sinful person and makes him a teachable one.
Humbled, I praise God for doing the same work today still.

Later, after Jesus’ resurrection He and his disciples met at the Sea of Galilee. There Jesus asked Peter three times ‘Peter, do you love me?’
In the same way Jesus is asking every person that claims to be a follower of Him: “Do you love me?”
He is asking you and me now: “Do you love me?”.
Peter, with the fullness of his heart said ‘Yes!’.

But what was the difference? How was his verbalized faithfulness to Jesus different than to that one time when he claimed, that he would rather die with Jesus than to deny Him? This was the difference: Peter, now really knew who Jesus was.

Check this out:

“Heretofore Peter had known Christ after the flesh, as many know Him now; but he was no more to be thus limited. He knew Him no more as he had known Him in his association with Him in humanity. He had loved Him as a man, as a heaven-sent teacher; he now loved Him as God. He had been learning the lesson that to him Christ was all in all.” (DA, p.815)

Peter now knew Jesus as God.
And now he was finally ready to work in God’s mission field.
Peter and I, and I am sure many others, had to learn this the hard way.

It all comes down to knowing Jesus as God through repentance and conversion. Once this happens, you will gladly put self aside in order to let the Holy Spirit work on your heart. Then, there is no limit to the usefulness of you in the work of God for this lost planet.
Til this day I cannot see a better way of living life, than to live with God as the Leader.

Do you have a hardened heart?
A complicated personality?
A sinful character?

Give it to the Healer today and He will change you.
Maybe you are also a Peter, a John, a Paul or a Judas. Come to Jesus and accept His grace. It’s overflowing and waiting for you.

To be able to say “I love you” to Jesus because you know Him as God, is the most beautiful thing, because it reflects a life changed by God.

Don’t hesitate anymore.

Matter of Survival

Three questions.

At some point every mindful human being will ask him/herself these questions.
In some way or the other. Here they are:

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

Together with some good friends of mine I visited an old classmate of mine for the turn of the year last December in Budapest. Since I was the only theology student present I was asked to do a little “End of the Year” – devotional thought. With a “you-don’t-need-to-study-theology-to-give-a-devotion”-smile I gladly accepted to do it. I decided to answer those three vital questions by looking at the bible. I believe it is the Living Word of God and so it must also be able to answer them.

Let’s plunge right into the matter.

#1 – Who am I?
Well, I can not resist to bring up probably the most famous bible verse:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

What does the text say about me? It talks about the world. This world. The piece of rock you and I live on. It says God, the Eternal Father loved this world so much that He gave His Son, He gave everything (Romans 8:32) in order for us to be saved.
Ok. We know that.
We heard it a million times, but have we truly understood what kind of love that is?
Probably not.

And we probably never will fully understand. But isn’t that something?
I am loved by God. Let that sink in for a moment.

He. Loves. Me.
He doesn’t just accept me or like me. Nope, He loves me!

Check out what Isaiah has to say about this:

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:1-2

God obviously knows us. If He is the Creator that means He actually spent time to form you and He had to put His creativity into making you. He even went so far as to create you in His image (Genesis 1:28).

So God not only loved us, willing to give it all up for us, … no, He put time and effort into forming us and He wants to be close to us. We are of importance to Him.

So who am I?
I am a loved individual, made in the image of God.
This leads me to the next question.

#2 – Why am I here?

In the very beginning of the bible we’ll find an answer. According to Genesis 1:31 we were part of a “very good” creation. The logical conclusion is, that we were supposed to live a very good life. Actually, eternal life in happiness and joy. But we all know what happened:

Sin kicked in.

However! This did not stop God to offer a very good life for those who accept it. He says:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.“ – Jeremiah 29:11

He is offering forgiveness from sin, eternal life and a plan of hope for me in a sinful world. All we have to do is to accept all these gifts. They’re for free!

So, we were created for a joyful life, huh? Interesting. Isn’t that what everybody is looking for? Happiness? And if possible for a long time? … like forever?
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart“. We strive to stay forever young and happy. And that is totally ok! We are wired that way, by God.

The cool thing is, that God is offering us the quality of eternal life, which is to know Him, (John 17:3) already now. Yes. Today.

So this is the purpose of our life: To live happy, eternally, endlessly falling in love with our Creator.

Finally, the last question.

#3Where am I going?

I believe, that the journey is the destination.
The answer to question #2 is in a sense the answer to this last question.

I mean, yes, eventually we all want to go to heaven, right? So that could be an answer.
But I believe Jesus’ statement in John 17:3 is very powerful and adds another consideration to the wish to be in heaven.
Jesus claims, that eternal life is to know God. If that is true then ‘heaven’ can start already today, right now. On this rock we live on.

So, what’s the answer?
Where am I going, after knowing that I am loved by God and that He has true happiness and eternal life in store for me?

There is only one rational, emotional and logical way to go:

To Him. The One who first loved us (1John 4:19). And to stay with Him. Every day. Forever.