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FROM THE WORD

Beyond Orion

It was sometime back in the late 1980s. I had spent several hours flying from New York to London. As I neared my destination it was early morning and still dark. A rush of excitement and nostalgia hit me as I caught sight of my old homeland. Seated partly over the wing, I still glimpsed the lights of towns and freeways as we slowly began our descent toward London. I could hardly wait to set foot again on the little isle that figured so largely in my earlier years. "This will always be my real home!” I silently declared within my heart. Moments later I took my words back as the plane banked and began to turn. Suddenly the lights below my window vanished as the right wing came up, directing my gaze heavenward, far higher and far beyond the distractions of earth below. As though reading my mind and correcting my definition of "home," the huge wing of that 747 pointed me directly to the constellation of Orion as it rose into view before my eyes. Instinctively I sought the three faint lights that comprise Orion's sword; the middle one being a distant nebula, barely visible to the human eye.

"Yes, that's it!" I silently whispered, gazing intently at the faint distant blur of celestial light. "Yes, that's the way to my one true home in heaven!" That was not a general, but a very specific statement about the direction to my future abode. But how could I possibly say such a thing? How could I be so sure that the Orion Nebula is a star-studded compass that literally points to heaven?

On December 16, 1848, Ellen G. White was given a vision about the "Shaking of the Powers of Heaven." In what is clearly a reference to the second coming of Christ she wrote the following: "Dark heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God. The Holy City will come down through that open space." Early Writings, page 41. 

For close to 47 years I have been privilege to acquaint myself with the writings of Ellen G. White. The passing of time has only served to deepen my understanding and conviction that she was truly inspired by God. In this humble Christian woman was made manifest the gift of prophecy to the Remnant Church. Without a shadow of doubt I can joyfully believe that the Orion Nebula is a significant way mark to the City of God.

On a starry night, gazing up into the cosmos I instinctively look for Orion. That middle blur of light in his sword is close to 1,500 light years distant, and 25 light years across. Powerful telescopes have been developed since Ellen White spoke of "the open space in Orion" many years ago. The glorious and breathtaking beauty of this heavenly phenomenon was but dimly seen in her day. Now we can readily access picture archives from the Hubble telescope and gaze with wonder at this radiant portal in the sky; a grand and iridescent gateway through which the New Jerusalem will one day descend to earth.

How far beyond Orion's Nebula is the precise location of heaven we cannot tell, but one thing is certain - it is real. The Patriarchs and Prophets of old saw it by faith. We read of Abraham who “looked for a city ... who's builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:10. May we also look by faith and behold the home of the redeemed as did Abraham. While lost in vision, the apostle John also saw the City of God descending to earth in all its transcendent glory. "And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:2.

The second coming of Christ is almost here! He will soon return, take us to Himself, and then ascend back to glory with the trophies of His love. Are you ready to go home with Jesus? Whatever the hardships of this life, heaven will prove cheap at any price. But the sacrifice of every idol and filthy practice is also crucial if we desire such a celestial home. "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of Life." Revelation 21:27. In ourselves we possess no righteous power to cleanse and separate ourselves from sin. In ourselves we can do nothing to secure a residency in the City of God; however, through faith in Jesus, we can be transformed into His own righteous image and qualify for heaven. He is the Savior who has pledged to write His law upon the tables of our hearts. He will empower us for obedience and victory as we trust In His abounding grace. Every faithful child of God will soon secure their home beyond Orion. And soon the joyous benediction will be pronounced over everyone as they pass triumphant through heaven's pearly gates: "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the City." Revelation 22:14.

Pastor Michael Thompson

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CENTRAL CORNER

This Week (April 4 to 9): 

• Monday @ 7:00 PM – Optimize Your Brain Seminar

• Tuesday @ 10:00 AM – Women’s Bible Study

• Tuesday @ 7:00 PM – Prayer Meeting with Pastor Fred Dana (John 15)

• Wednesday @ 7:00 PM - Spanish Group Prayer Meeting

• Various L.I.F.E. groups (in-home small group Bible studies) take place across Sacramento. To locate one near you contact our small groups’ coordinator, Richard Anger @ (916) 681-3990

• Friday @ 7:00 PM – Youth & Family Life Vespers

• Sabbath @ 9:00 AM - Morning Manna – Silvia Ballesteros

• Sabbath @ 9:30 AM - Central Study Hour with Pastor Fred Dana + Children/Youth/Adult Sabbath School Classes

• Sabbath @ 10:50 AM - Worship Service with Pastor Michael Butler – Youth Sabbath!

• Sabbath @ 1:00 PM – Men & Women Ministry Luncheon

Upcoming Events

Optimize Your Brain: Central’s Health Ministries is teaming up with Dr. Neil Nedley to host this all-important seminar on improving brain function – an especially relevant topic today. Come (with a family member or friend) to the free introductory session on Monday, April 4 at 7 PM to learn more. Dr. Neil Nedley will be with us opening night!

Audio Training: Our next audio training is scheduled Tuesday, April 5 @ 6:30 PM in the sanctuary. For more information, please contact Pastor Chris Buttery at (717) 250-8116. We look forward to seeing you there!

Youth & Family Life Vespers continues Friday, April 8 at 7 PM (and every second and fourth Friday in the Family Life Room). And on April 22 at 7 PM Armona Union Academy Choir will be sharing their music and other gifts with us. It will be an exciting and powerful beginning to the Sabbath. Mark your calendars!

Youth Sabbath: We’re looking forward to having our dedicated young people lead out in our church service April 9. Pastor Michael will be sharing a powerful message on that day. Keep them in prayer as they prepare and thank you for showing your support for them by your presence.

Elder Dennis Priebe will be here all day on April 16. He will be giving the sermon, in addition to two afternoon presentations: “How Inspired Was Ellen White?” and “What Is the Final Atonement?” followed by a light supper and a special vespers by Matthew Priebe, Little Known Miracles of God’s Creation. Plan to attend and hear these inspired messages. Be sure to invite your friends and family. You will be blessed.

Family Matters

Vegetarian Foods @ Central: We have FriChik, Tender Bits, Linketts, and Little Links vegetarian canned foods available at the church office. All items are 50% off for a suggested donation that goes toward our thrift store ministry. To pick yours up, stop by the church office during office hours.

Watch Us on Television! Enjoy viewing Central’s flagship programs, Central Study Hour, every Friday night at 8 PM and Sabbath morning at 6 AM (PST) on 3ABN Proclaim! Also enjoy our Receiving the Word, 30-minute programs weekly on Sunday at 11 AM, Tuesday at 11:30 AM (NEW TIME), Wednesday at 8:30 PM, and Thursday at 9 PM (NEW TIME) on Sacramento Faith TV (Comcast – 20; CCI – 19; AT&T – 14). These can also be viewed on our website (www.saccentral.org) and our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/thecentralconnection). Let everyone know where they can receive timely Bible messages!

Podcasts Available! If you didn't know, every Central Study Hour and worship service can be viewed and downloaded by going to our website (https://zqh.orf.mybluehost.me/saccentral/sermons). This is an easy way for you to invite friends and family to listen to important Bible messages coming from Central church. The podcasts are uploaded a week after the live presentation.

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NEWS HEIGHTS

Resources

2016 Sharing Book – Winds of Revelation: You can’t turn on your TV or open your Internet browser without the next catastrophe hitting you in the face. The toll taken by natural disasters—flooding, fires, drought, tornadoes, and more—grows worse each year. The world is coming apart at the seams. More than 2,000 years ago the Bible predicted that all of this would happen!  If the Bible was right about this, then what did it say would happen next? In Four Winds of Revelation, Pastor Kenneth Cox examines what the Bible says about the crises that we are facing and shares what it tells us about the future. Should you be afraid?  The Bible offers hope—Jesus is coming soon! Click here to order your copies to share!

Revelation Today – The Mysteries Revealed is a comprehensive 19-DVD study series that focuses on the prophecies of the Bible. Based entirely on the Word of God, Revelation Today lets the Bible speak for itself! Presented by It Is Written Speaker/Director John Bradshaw. Learn more here.

Be Inspired 

An Amazing Fact of Faith: Go deeper in your faith and prayer life with Pastor Doug Batchelor as he explores the incredible sights and wonders made possible only by SCUBA—Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

If you want others to enjoy receiving this e-newsletter as much as you do, please invite them to sign up by going to www.saccentral.org/central-happenings

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