Archive for September, 2012

Tithes and Offerings (Part 2 of 2)

September 29, 2012

In continuing our study on the very important subject of  tithes and offerings, we shall address question 2 and 3. “What amount does the Lord require?” and “When are we to pay it?”.  But before we discuss this, I wanted to share with you two very important quotes I found from our prophetess.

In speaking of the importance of tithing, she says “As the Giver of every blessing, God claims a certain portion of all we possess.This is His provision to sustain the preaching of the gospel. And by making this return to God, we are to show our appreciation of His gifts. But if we withhold from Him that which is His own, how can we claim His blessing?  If we are unfaithful stewards of earthly things, how can we expect Him to entrust us with the things of heaven? It may be that here is the secret of unanswered prayer.(Christ Object Lessons, p.144)

Wow, can we  fully comprehend that? So important is this subject that inspiration dares even bring up this point!  How many times have we all wondered — why hasn’t God answered my prayers? As we continue on in this study, let’s keep that powerful statement in mind. Not only are we to be blessed in material ways but spiritual – the answering of prayer!

 In order to keep and have God’s blessings He has always held certain conditions for us to obey.  “All who obey Him may with confidence claim the fulfillment of His promises.”(COL.p.145)

The other quote is “Those who are ready and willing to invest in the cause of God, will be blessed in their efforts to acquire money.” (Review and Herald, Sept 18, 1888). So we see that  God will provide a financial reward to those who step out in faith and “invest” in God’s work .

In answering question number 2,  “What amount does the Lord require?”, we should first look at the following Scriptures , to see that our attitude is important in giving. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver…Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” (2 Cor.9:6-7,10)

So we approach our duty to repay God with a smile and a joyful heart. Knowing and claiming His promise.

Due to the depth of this subject in Scripture, we can’t go into all the Scripture to back up the support of 10% of our income (increase) is to go toward tithing,  but suffice to say it has been 10 % since Abraham (see Gen.14:20 and Heb.7:2) and Jacob ( Gen 28:22). The word “tithe” actually means one tenth. We do have a quote from EGW concerning this — 

“A tithe of all our income is the Lord’s. He lays His hand upon that portion which He has specified that we shall return to Him, and says, I allow you to use My bounties after you have laid aside the tenth, and have come before Me with gifts and offerings.” (Review and Herald, Dec. 1, 1896).

Also you can read (Lev.27:32) (Deut. 14:22-29 and 10:8-9) and (Numbers 18:23-24).

But there is also Scripture to indicate that offerings above and beyond the 10% should be made (Deut 12:6-14). However upon the research I’ve done, it appears that the “offerings” are left to the giver’s heart and disposition.But it is important to note that the Lord does want offerings. In the (Mal. 3:8) we saw where the Lord said He was being robbed of tithes and offerings.

 To learn more on “Tithes and offerings”   see sister White’s book “The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets”. Chapter 50 is dedicated to this subject.  Below we see  the issue  of amounts paid in tithing was addressed by bro. Houteff in  “The Answerer” publication.

WHAT IS SUBJECT TO TITHING?

Question No. 99:

   Deuteronomy 14:22 says: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.” How shall I tithe my crop?

Answer:

   To facilitate answering this question, let us consider for example the case of a potato grower. Say that he is without expense for hired labor, irrigation, rent, etc. If free from such overhead and if his gross returns are $50 an acre, then the whole amount would be subject to tithe, which of course would be $5 an acre. If, however, he must operate with an overhead expense to produce his crop, then obviously such expense should be  deducted from the gross value of the produce, and only the remainder tithed. For instance, if the gross value of the crop be $50 an acre, and the overhead expense $10 an acre, then the net increase, the amount subject to tithe,

Answerer Book 4                                  47

would be $40 an acre, and the tithe only $4 instead of $5 an acre.

   If, on the other hand, one is a wage earner, sustaining  the expense of social security, transportation to and from work, etc., then he deducts the amount of such expenses from his wages before tithing them. For example, if he receives $100 a month wages, and if he must spend 10 cents a day, or about $2.60 a month, for transportation, he then deducts $2.60 from $100, which leaves $97.40 to tithe.

   If one’s income is from rentals, then he deducts the amount spent on upkeep of the property from his untithed gross income. Thus figuring one’s income, one tithes all his increase.

In answering our final question, “When are we to pay it?”  We shall see a BIG mistake in how we as a general body in the church are hood winked by the evil one in this issue. Scripture, sister White, and brother Houteff are unanimous in “when” we should pay our tithes.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned that new light had just came into my path. The following inspired words I read from sister White. “The directions given by the Holy Spirit through Paul in regards to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” … And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God?” (Counsels on Stewardship, P.80)

“Some Documentation on Systematic Benevolence and the Tithe as Launched in 1859. The following plan was recommended at the January 1859 meeting in Battle Creek:

“1. Let each brother from 18 to 60 years of age lay by him in store on the first day of each week from five to 25 cents.“2. Each sister from 18 to 60 years of age lay by her in store on the first day of each week from two to ten cents.“3. Also, let each brother and sister lay by him or her in store on the first day of each week from one to five cents on each and every $100 of property they possess .“The lowest sums stated are so very small that those in the poorest circumstances (with very few exceptions of some widows, infirm, and aged) can act upon this plan; while those in better circumstances are left to act in the fear of God in the performance of their stewardship,to give all the way up to the highest sums stated, or even more, as they see it their duty to do.” —RH,February 3, 1859, p.84. With only slight modification, this plan was adopted at the General Conference session, June 4, 1859. Reported in RH June 9, 1859, p. 20. (Source – Biblical research.gc.Adventist.org)

To see that the above plan was the very first plan of paying Tithes  within the SDA church and endorsed by the founding members,  see this extensive researched article — http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/Tithe-H&U.html#Some

In the above article compiled by Arthur White, he confirms, “Ellen G. White early linked the tithe with “Systematic Benevolence.” First, she assured the church in June 1859: “The plan of systematic benevolence is pleasing to God” (1T 190).  This is solid and confirmed evidence of “first day” paying of tithes NOT Sabbath paying.

As can be seen from above, this custom was practiced by the early SDA church, but as time went on, we as a church body, steadily retreated toward Egypt. A new abomination crept in, right beneath our noses! This custom (Sabbath plate passing) was brought over from the heathen churches. Absolutely no doubt about it.

Brother Houteff also confirms this. “In order to eliminate money changing for tithe and offering, paying for books, etc. on the Sabbath, a Laodicean practice which the word of God condemns, let us carefully attend to all such matters on the first day of the week (1 Cor.16:2) by placing all monies in envelopes.” (Vol. 1 Symbolic news code, no.9, p.11)

So let us recap what we have learned. First, we saw that the tithes should go to the ministers and preachers of the present truth. This is VERY important. We must be sure we are paying God’s faithful servants who are supplying the flock with truth for today, not yesterday.

Second, we confirmed the custom of a tenth of our income (increase) is to go to the Lord’s storehouse. Offerings should be made and can only result in corresponding blessings. For a list of this author’s  researched true storehouses see our post at this link –https://godsloveandlaw.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/gods-storehouse-blessings/

Lastly, we saw that the first day of the week (Sunday)is the true day to pay the tithes and offerings.This may be done by mailing it in or if your church happens to be open on that day–drop it off. Also you notice that not once in all of Scripture do we ever find someone paying or handling money inside the temple or sanctuary. Infact to the contrary, we saw our Lord whip the money changers out of the temple courts (matt.21:12). So today we are actually doing a double abomination! Paying it on the Sabbath and in the Sanctuary!

In closing, as we have learned,  our Lord will bless us and give us rewards that each of us will be thrilled about. But they come with conditions. If we study to show ourselves approved, we shall indeed claim His great promise here. The Lord has built in a kind of circular method. We return to Him His own, and He returns even more to us, so that we can increase more back to Him to win more souls to the Truth. A Win-Win-Win situation!

Advertisements

Tithes and Offerings (Part 1 of 2)

September 22, 2012

When we continue on our walk with the Lord, new light will continue to shine in our path. We see things or are revealed things that make us say “Wow, I didn’t know that, thank you Lord!”. Such may be the case with tithes and offerings for many of us. What you will see based on the inspired writings of God’s prophets will likely surprise you. Why? Because the master deceiver himself has done an effective job in hiding this information from us, just one of many deceptions he has planted in God’s remnant church. Not the least of which is passing the offering basket/bag around on the Sabbath!

The truth of this will  make us stop and think , and hopefully start doing the right thing in regards to paying what belongs to God and on the right day.

Most of us are familiar with the frequently used quote regarding tithes. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”(Mal 3:8-10)

The above words of the Lord have a rebuke,  an instruction and a promise. It’s also interesting to note that these words come in His “sign off” letter, His last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. His summation of some very important issues for us to understand.

In my own example, I was a happy giver into the offering bag every Sabbath up until about 1 month ago ( to help our local church’s utilities and upkeep). Little did I know that this was indeed a serious wrong before the Lord. Don’t get the wrong idea, I am not advocating to stop paying tithes, only that we do it the Lord’s way.  If we do, we are promised great blessings.

We must remember that a certain portion of our money is His and we must return it to God. Ellen White explains “God says that there should be meat in His house, and if the money in the treasury is tampered with, if it is regarded as right for individuals to make what they please of the tithe, the Lord cannot bless. He cannot sustain those who think that they can do as they please with that which is His.” (Counsels on Stewardship, p.106)

How many of us can use the Lord’s blessings? Absolutely we can. The great Giver of all good things can bring each of us a blessing we can be thrilled about. But in order to receive it we must do as He has asked and instructed. Let’s look at His plan in this regard as spoken through His prophets.

On this subject of tithes and offerings we will look at the following  1) Where and who do we pay are tithes and offering’s to?  2) What amount does the Lord require?  3) When are we to pay it? Each of these 3 are very important rules required by the Lord, and if we disobey in any of the 3 , we cannot expect His blessings. Let’s look at number 1.

We shall see that the money is to go to those who are His “shepherds”, ministers who are “feeding ” His flock, ie.the truth for this time, his current message (see the below link).  “God’s ministers are His shepherds, appointed by Him to feed His flock. The tithe is His provision for their maintenance, and He designs that it shall be held sacred for this purpose.” (Phamplets, Vol.1, p.40)

“..a great mistake is made when the tithes is drawn from the object for which it is to be used,–the support of the ministers.” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol.9, p.248)

There are many other quotes from EGW that support the general idea that those who teach the true word of God as their profession, explaining the Scriptures, going door to door, or spreading the truth of the Lord in other endeavors, are to be paid from the tithes. However, what do we do when we clearly see that the local pastor isn’t teaching present truth? For information explaining more on present truth see this post https://godsloveandlaw.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/what-is-present-truth/

“There are many precious truths contained in the word of God, but it is “present truth” that the flock needs now.” (Early Writings, p.63)

Note: As we are told to always do the right thing when possible, I believe that when we go to our local church and cannot in good conscience pay our tithes to it , for it’s lack of teaching the Lord’s present truth, we should at least help  in regards to it’s upkeep (utilites, maintenance, etc.). We go every week there and use their water, lights, pews,  take part in their lunchs, etc.

Another good way to know if the pastor is preaching present truth is to ask these questions. Is the pastor teaching ways your church can stay on the straight and narrow path? Is he frequently looking for ways to improve the worship service? Is he admonishing the church at times as necessary.  Or is he teaching peace and safety week after week? Smooth sermons of safety, implying that each and every one who shows up to church needn’t worry, we’re all saved, converted or not.

This is one of the BIG differences between the DSDA and the SDA. The DSDA cannot in good conscience support those who fail to preach the present truth. Time is too short for this dereliction of duty. As we have learned, present truth specifically is the Elijah message, just as our Lord said. One prophet and one only would come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord,  Elijah (Mal. 4:5).

During his ministry bro. Houteff was asked several questions (in his publication called The Answerer) about tithes. Here is a response concerning whether we ourselves can be a “storehouse” and keep the tithes for God’s work.

CANNOT MY HOME BE HIS “STOREHOUSE”?

Question No. 97:

   Is it Scriptural for one to retain and personally use his tithe and offerings in order to carry on the gospel work in his own community, according to his own plans?

Answer:

   Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find permission to use the Lord’s money at our

Answerer Book 4                                  44

own discretion. The only justification for so doing would be sheer inability, for some reason to send it to the Lord’s “storehouse.” Should one voluntarily, though, engage in such a practice then he would set the wrong example before others. And if following in his lead, others assume  the same right, their course must inevitably  result in seriously handicapping the Lord’s work, bleeding and subverting His treasury, and thus disorganizing His work and reducing the church to a mere shell, while her members are hiring themselves as laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, helping themselves to the Lord’s money, and running without having been sent! What a Babylon that would be!

   Though the Lord commands, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” (Mal. 3: 10), He does not say to bring all the offerings. Thus, He shows that if we would engage in some personal charity or missionary activity, we should sustain it from offerings, not from the tithe.

   “Angels keep a faithful record of every man’s work, and as judgment passes upon the house of God, the sentence of each is recorded by his name, and the angel is commissioned to spare not the unfaithful servants, but to cut them down at the time of slaughter….And the crowns they might have worn, had they been faithful, are put upon the heads of those saved by the faithful servants….”Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 198

In the above we see an interesting point. He points out that the tithes go to the storehouse, but if we engage in some type of personal ministry, we can use this from the offerings.

Then we see bro. Houteff address a direct question “To whom should my tithe go?”

” Since I am responsible for the light which is now shining upon my pathway, and since I must help give it to my brethren, should I pay my tithe to the Denomination(SDA) so that the ministry may have money with which to fight both the message and my personal endeavors to reach the people with it, and thereby, working at cross-purposes, only help to keep them in darkness?

Or, should I pay it to the Davidians, the “storehouse” of Present Truth, where it naturally should go to promote the advancement of a heart-searching reformation and to rescue my Seventh-day Adventist brethren from eternal ruin? And as they themselves  are not prepared to meet the Lord (Testimonies,  Vol. 6, p. 371), then how can they adequately prepare the heathen?

In view of all these facts, shall my tithe go to the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in behalf of the heathen or to the sealing message in behalf of the brethren?  If I dare not place my tithe to the support of what I believe to be Present Truth, then how will it be supported, and where else can I conscientiously place my tithe?

   Furthermore, if I place it in the Denomination(SDA) to be used largely for the evangelizing of worldlings, rather than in the storehouse of Present Truth to be used for the benefit of my brethren, then am I not doing so to the neglect of my own brethren, and thus denying that I am my brother’s keeper?

   And ought I, moreover, obey the ministers’ order to go in search of sheep in the house of Baal, instead of heeding the Lord’s express command to take the heaven-sent remedy to the sin-sick sheep in the house of Israel  (Matt. 10:6)? Which of these two endeavors would be the more sure to gain for me the commendation,  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? Matt. 25:21.

   “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.” Matt. 24:45, 46. (parenthesis added) (Answer Book, vol. 4, 42-43)

In our last quote for the answers to where/who should we pay tithes to, EGW says ” The tithe is to be used for one purpose,–to sustain the ministers whom the Lord has appointed to do His work. It is to be used to support those who speak the words of life to the people, and carry the burden of the flock of God.” (Manuscript 82, 1904).

So we see that the tithes should go to the present truth ministers, who actively “speak the words of life” and who “carry the burden of the flock of God” in other words–present truth. The offerings are directed to the same unless you have an active personal ministry of some type, in which case you can provide the offering to this cause. Today’s present truth is one of revival and reformation, is that what is being taught in your church?

Next week we’ll look at answering questions 2 and 3. May the Lord’s light shine upon you concerning this important requirement of God’s. Get ready to discover that the Lord is ready to keep His promise to bless you abundantly.

Church Membership

September 15, 2012

The advice from inspiration is very clear to our SDA church concerning new membership.  Our outlook is — the more we add to the church rolls, the happier is our Lord.  Let’s look into this situation and see how God’s remnant church should work today in this regard.

“Only when the Church is composed of pure, unselfish members, can it fulfill God’s purpose. Too much hasty work is done in adding names to the church roll. Serious defects are seen in the characters of some who join the church. Those who admit them say, We will first get them into the church, and then reform them. But this is a mistake. The very first work to be done is the work of reform. Pray with them,  talk with them, but no do allow them to unite with God’s people in church relationship until they give decided evidence that the Spirit of God is working on their hearts.”  (Review and Herald, May 21, 1901)

“To have your name on the church book does not make you a Christian” (Counsels on Stewardship. p.84).

Before I became aware of the Lord’s last message (Elijah message), I too, was guilty of this error. I had the mindset that we should make a big effort to “bring em in”. I went out in afternoons and went door to door putting church and 3 abn flyers on the doors and gates on neighborhood homes. I had good intentions but the wrong approach.

As we read from the above EGW words, we and especially the pastors and leaders, should get to know the people who request church membership first before inviting them to become a church member. Let me tell you about a  personal example.

I remember after being a member for only a few months, I attended  the early Sabbath school meetings, which were held in the pastors office (usually 10 to 15 members showed up). I notice new people coming in occasionally that were not familiar to me. I struck up a conversation one Sabbath morning with a man named “Gary”. The pastor had not yet arrived and we chatted for a bit. We enjoyed talking and we exchanged phone numbers. He said he had decided to come to the church after watching 3abn and being convicted on the Sabbath truth (I don’t believe he became an official member).

As the weeks went by he would sometimes show up and sometimes not. Our pastor at the time knew him also, even on a first name basis. But I decided to call him after not seeing him for 3 or 4 weeks. We talked at length and I discovered some things I was not aware of. He was a serious chain smoker who just couldn’t quit, he told me. I had compassion, having a  former chewing tobacco habit.  I told him how I overcame it by the “quoting scripture plan”. He liked that idea.

Just a quick note about that plan. As we are well aware, Jesus was our example in all things, and so if we look how Jesus overcame temptation we find He used Scripture. He also used “specific” Scripture for the specific temptation. For instance on the Satan temptation to turn the rock into bread He used Scripture saying we don’t live by bread alone. So if you have a specific sin such as alcohol, tobacco, fornification, etc. then you can find a Scripture that addresses that and quote it out loud to the devil every time he tempts you. I used Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (as in wanting tobacco). Then you can forcefully say “be gone from me devil in the name of Jesus!”  after you quote Scripture. It’s powerful, but you must mean it and believe it.  It sure worked for me as I kicked the chewing tobacco habit of 15  years!

Back to Gary, he continued to be sporadic in attendance after that. But I called him again later and asked him why we hadn’t seen him for close to a month. He had issues with his rental unit and the landlord, he said. But I asked him an important question, “Has the pastor or any of the church leaders contacted you since you started coming to church?”  His answer was a flat “No”. Wow, that really threw me for a loop!  He was a new member, who had a serious idol (cigarettes)  and other challenges, yet no one from the church even cared or wanted to get to know him! I wondered how many other “Gary’s” came into the church.

If this situation had been handled by the divine method as given above, Gary as a potential new member of God’s church , would have been visited, talked to, prayed with and even studied with as he was beginning his church relationship. Instead he was on his own to sink or swim as it were. He ended up deserting the church.

Did the leadership care that Gary left? No, they did not. In the book of Ezekiel, the Lord tells us what He will do about these “shepherds” who are neglecting the flock, feeding themselves as it were. Brother Houteff quotes and explains the following Scriptures concerning this.

Ezek. 34:6-10 — “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.  Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock; therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”

   Let us not fool ourselves any longer.  God cannot be mocked.  He will not for ever forsake His sheep, neither will He for ever retain untrustworthy shepherds herding His sheep.  He will soon discharge them, and will demand that they give an account for their unfaithfulness.  So it is that what a multitude of shepherds have failed to do, one shepherd, even David, will, in God’s hands, get done.

Ezek. 34:13 — “And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

   In the days of this antitypical David God gathers

Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 2 17

His flock from all the countries where they have been scattered, and brings them into their own land.  God will no longer leave them in the mountains and the hills of the Gentiles.  “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.  Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” Hos. 1:11; 3:5.

Ezek. 34:11-16 — “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out.  As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.  And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.  I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.  I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.  I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.”

   “…God has promised that where the shepherds are not true he will take charge of the flock himself.  God has never made the flock wholly dependent upon human instrumentalities.  But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace.  God will

Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 2 18

have a people pure and true.  In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel.  The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor.” — “Testimonies”, Vol. 5, pg. 80.

You see the Elijah message tells us to look inward now (to God’s household), instead of outward (trying to save the world). That is why our Lord said about the Elijah  “And  he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse “.  We are directed to look to helping our own now, lest we as His remnant church suffer His curse.

We  have so much work to do right now within our own churches to occupy most of our efforts. Sure, there will come a time very shortly when we’ll go out into Babylon (the people of the world) and call in the great multitude. But our own ship (church) is sinking fast and our efforts must be to save ourselves from ruin. Those of us who are studying our current church leadership have seen subtle infiltrations coming in and it’s rapidly growing! What are we doing holding hands with the other world churches in the World Council of Churches?    http://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches.html

 Again EGW advises. “While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into it’s fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.” ( Testimonies  for Ministers, p.46)

And also “After admonition, after time for Bible study and reflection, those who are walking contrary to the Scriptures, and will not reform, should be suspended from the church” (Review and Herald, June 2, 1891)

He must and will come and take the reins. Only those who overcome their cherished sins will be permitted to play a part in the Loud Cry when it swells worldwide. “Only those who have withstood and overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming this message when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry” (Review and Herald, Nov. 19, 1908).

 How patient has the Lord been now? It’s been 124 years since the second to last message came to the church(1888 message of righteousness by faith) and it was rejected. It’s been 82 years since the last and final message came to the church (The Elijah message by bro. Houteff in 1930)  and for the most part is rejected (although thank the Lord it is getting out there now and growing).

 ” But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi,and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering of righteousness.” (Mal. 3:2-3)

 Will you and I be one of those who remain standing after the purification? We can be! All it takes is a true committment and a firm determination to overcome.

So let us look to our own right there in the church  and partake in the work of Elijah, started by bro. Houteff, as a messenger  in calling our people to reform.  The clock is at 5 minutes to 12 so to speak.  We know the devils have sowed  many tares in our church, but as a light bearer, we can shine as a good example of a converted Christian life. A tare can change, by God’s grace.

A portrait of Courage

September 8, 2012

The man slowly and deliberately walked onto the dusty road. His eyes fixed straight ahead on his target. Just minutes before there had been mayhem and upheaval. A sheriff lay shot dead at the hands of a cold blooded killer. The town had been shot up (aka hurrahed) by the trouble making cowboys. Many had “liquored” themselves  up pretty good. What was about to happened was indeed a –portrait of courage. Let’s look into the true scene of a man possessed of  heroic courage that few men have ever possessed.

Four years ago the Lord in his infinite wisdom had drawn me to learn of this man for one main reason– courage. He wanted me learn of his real life story in order to prepare for a work that must be done, which must also involve courage. The books I read concerning this man were numerous, as I couldn’t put them down. The Lord’s objective was accomplished, my interest was keen  and the lessons they taught me fully registered. Let’s examine more of courage in action.

We need to back up the story a bit. The towns had many saloons in those days and in this particular town, at that time, there was a huge high stakes poker game. But as the game got bigger, two well known “bad apples” with notorious reputations came into town, Ben Thompson and his brother Bill, and sat in on the game. Ben Thompson in particular was “the” bad guy who reputation was far and wide. Soon enough, the liquor got the tempers flying. A fight broke out between on Bill Thompson and one of the other players, with Bill being socked to the ground from his chair.

The two brothers got up and cussed their way to the saloon door. The sheriff, C.B Whitney, soon heard about the ruckus and came to the scene. He tried to play the peace maker but shortly after, Bill Thompson, no doubt still high on alcohol and with adrenalin cruising through his veins, said “I’ll get a sheriff if I don’t get anybody else”. Just then he turned to see the sheriff and blasted him at point blank in the sheriff’s breast.

Our young courageous man (hereafter referred as CM) was close near by and held the sheriff in his arms as the dying sheriff said  “I’m done, get me home.” As the commotion started to build, Bill Thompson beelined out of Ellsworth but his brother Ben still hung around. He saddled up and gathered in the streets with his guns yelling at the town. Many bad men from Texas, some witnesses say in excess of 100,  were in the town and joined Ben in his tirade. Now it  seemed the evil men were taunting the “good” men up and down the town, shooting off their guns in defiance, asking if anyone wanted any more trouble, just come outside and get it.

In those days the  “western towns”  were fast and loose. If the sheriff didn’t lay down the law , the law layed down for the bad players. CM was a bystander and observer to all the action. He saw the good intentions of the sheriff but he also saw  serious cowardness follow. Two other law makers, the Marshall and the deputy Marshall, both were called upon by the mayor to take charge of the situation. Both declined. Such great odds against them, they thought twice of risking their lives for peace and justice. CM had also be close enough to hear their excuses spoken to the mayor.

CM, moved by the total failed justice, said to the mayor “Nice police force you got”. The mayor responded, “Who are you??”  “Just a looker on” CM replied. Incensed, the mayor said “Well, don’t talk so much, you haven’t even got a gun”. Then perhaps the most life changing words were spoken by CM. He was to begin a career of one of the most fearless and feared lawman in the old west. CM responded ” it’s none of my business but if it was, I’d get me a gun and arrest Ben Thompson or kill him.”

The coward Marshall was close by and said to the mayor “Don’t pay any attention to that kid , Jim.” Now the mayor was even more incensed and responded to the Marshall ” You’re fired Norton” and he looked over at the deputy Marshall and said “You too , Morco”.He grabbed the Marshall’s badge from his shirt and turned to CM and said “I’ll make this your business. You’re Marshall of Ellsworth. Here’s your badge. Go into Bebee’s and get some guns. I order you to arrest Ben Thompson.”

CM turned and walked into the gun store and picked up a pair of “used”  second hand 45’s. The Bebee clerk recalled how the three (mayor and the two marshalls) stood huddled together on the walkway as CM walked out of the gun shop and passed by them alone and onto the street. Not one of them offered to help the young man, not that he wanted any anyway.

Let’s pick up with the story again. CM now was out in the middle of the street walking  deliberately towards the many, many bad men still on their horses. CM continued on until he came to about 50 yards from their ring leader, Ben Thompson. As mentioned, some witnesses claimed that over 100 bad men were on horses or standing round in the town as CM approached alone. His gun belts at his side clearly visible to all. One false or hesitant move by him could start an avalanche of bullets flying towards him.

CM recalls the moments “I knew what I would do before the mayor pinned Brocky Jack’s badge on my shirt.”  Continuing, “In the first place, I knew better than to walk out of Bebee’s with a gun in my hand. If I had, I would have been filled with lead before I reached the road. But I also knew that, as long as I did not draw, the Texas men would leave it to Ben to make  the play; he would have turned and shot down anyone who dared to cut loose before he opened the ball. Whatever happened must first be between him and me.”

When CM was about 40 yards, Ben called out to the approaching man “What do you want CM?” Apparently Ben was acquainted with him, though not closely. CM  spoke “I want you Ben” as he walked forward. Keep in mind the backup Ben had at that moment, watching for their leader to start the action. Ben kept watching as CM walked closer still. At about thirty yards, many witnesses claim something strange happened. The lone act of courage froze the bad guys (or was it the Lord’s direct hand in observing this young man’s desire for justice?)

The notorious outlaw became submissive to the approaching newly badged young sheriff . He said “I rather talk than fight”. The Texas bad man were no doubt shocked by this turn of events and his words spoken. Afterall it was at least 100 to 1 and none of them want to go to jail. CM  not wanting to lose his edge responded ” I’ll get you either way Ben”. “Wait a minute” said Thompson, “what do you want me to do?”  “Throw your shotgun into the road and put up your hands, and tell your friends to stay out of this play” CM responded.

Finally the overpowering act of courage caused Ben Thompson to say ” Will you stop and let me talk to you?” CM halted. He now knew he could take Thompson, alive or dead. Let’s stop here and note what happened. CM did not love his life more than to see justice and peace be established. Our Lord said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called son’s of God” (Matt.5:9) Here is a powerful lesson that this one man who courageously dared to do the “right thing” against evil adversaries, had the Lord’s direct undivided attention and therefore His divine help.

CM took hold of the notorious bad man and walked him straight into jail, right in front of all his friends! What a sight. No wonder after this one episode CM’s reputation of a fearless lawman went through out the country. This is just one of dozens of documented (eye witnesses, newspaper accts. etc.) episodes of CM’s courage to do the right thing and enforce justice and the law against the majority. The real man’s name, as many of you no doubt guessed, was Wyatt Earp.

The above description is based from Stuart Lake’s book ” Wyatt Earp-Frontier Marshall”.

Down through history we have seen that our Lord has mostly used men with a particular characteristic in common –courage. All the prophets had it, the three young men had it (saved from the fire), Daniel, David and others. It’s almost like the Lord saying ” step up to the plate and I’ll back you up completely”.  (Isaiah 58:8) “..And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say “here I am.”

In today’s church situation we are facing a small crisis, soon to get bigger. It will require courage, the ability to stand up for the Lord’s truth and His last tough solemn message. The people who will decide to stand on the Lord’s side will be the minority. The general leadership has rejected for the most part the Elijah message, just like it also rejected the Lord’s previous message in 1888 (Righteousness by Faith). Do we stand with the “popular” crowd, the majority? Or do we stand with the few, the minority.

In closing, we must learn to stand for righteousness and justice just like Wyatt Earp did. Our church standing will be shown clearly to the Lord–do we stand on his word as spoken through his prophets, especially His last prophet(to get His seal)?

 We don’t know much about Wyatt’s spiritual convictions(whether he came to know the Lord before his death at 80), but the one thing we do know, was that in each and every situation where the odds were stacked highly against him–he came through for law and order, and it prevailed. Standing firm for the right thing in the right situation. And the Lord was his “rear guard” every time, because he took a courageous stand for right doing (righteousness).

The Book Of Amos

September 1, 2012

The book of Amos has some timely and prophetic words that are not as generally read or understood as some of the  major prophets. While it has much solemn warnings  from the Lord it ends happily with a  description of the righteous church kingdom prevailing upon the earth.  

Amos was a farmer who turned prophet. His name Amos means “to lift a burden” or “burden-bearer”. In our short study of him, he was like many of our prophets,  a courageous man , willing to speak out against the prevailing sins of his people. Obviously he cared deeply about their spiritual welfare, unlike the vast majority who swept the sins under the rug.

 Our prophetess declared these words  “Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours, so that their prophesying is in force for us.” (3 Selected Messages, p.338) So let us look at what Amos has in store for us today.

God declared that a “prophet” is the revealer of His secrets. So we must be sure that we hear and act upon the words of His anointed prophets. They and only they can accurately predict what God has in store for us. “Surely the Lord God doeth nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7).

 Amos, being a prophet, was divinely given some of God’s secrets, and has some clear words for us about what will soon take place in our church. In the first 5 chapters of Amos we read of judgements and also pleadings from the Lord for His people such as, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joesph.”(Amos 5.14-15).

But as we proceed on we see that  their/our  ways do not reform to His pleadings. The people mostly ignored and disliked his straight testimony.  Those who truly have love in their hearts for their brethren will  tell  the straight truth, desiring that all should be saved and not one perish, just like our Master’s desire (2 Peter 3:9).

As we read on in Amos, we read this contemporary prophesy,the Lord says,  “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.” (Amos 5:21). Just as in Amos’ day these words are true today.   A while back we made the post called “The church of the routine”, listed under Church. We pointed out how the Holy Spirit is mostly muzzled in our church services today. Kneel at this exact time, stand at this exact time, do this routine at this exact time, time the service to the exact time,  and so on. The Holy Spirit’s spontaneous movements are rarely seen. We need to react more to the Holy Spirit. A brother or sister may receive a vision  right there in the church, and no one knows about it.

Then we get to the last chapter 9. In verse 8 we read, “Behold the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the Lord.”   These words are very applicable for today. He is indeed watching His  “kingdom”.  Through out history there has only been one kingdom He has constantly had His eyes on–His church kingdom.

We see that He will destroy it but not entirely. “For surely I will command, and sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”(Amos 9:9) This appears to be when He goes through His kingdom and “sifts” or judges among His people.  Not one of the righteous will fall , “Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

Let’s summarize verse 8 and 9. First we see that God has His eyes carefully on His church kingdom today and He is not pleased with the “sinful” kingdom. He then must purify His church, but He spares His righteous. The church becomes much smaller, yet pure. This is indeed describing the judgment for the living in His church. The 144,000 are those who are sifted out and remain.(For more information on the 144,000 see our posts listed under “Who are the 144K?”)

Ellen White further confirms this, “In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and saved.” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol 1, p.608)

The next verse is very important. It describes  the ones proclaiming peace and safety, saying in effect the Lord will not bring destruction to His people(church). “All sinners of My people shall die by the sword, who say “The calamity shall not overtake us nor confront us.” (Amos 9:10). These do not believe the Lord will do what He says.

Here is where we need to zoom in closely. The Elijah message is going out right now to us, His people. It proclaims the startling truth that the Lord is soon to secretly come into His churches to begin the beginning phase of the “judgment for the living”. But as this goes out,  it is being fought by many,  particularly the leaders. The sheep, the laity blindly follow along. They are indeed telling people Ezek.9 will not happen or that it happens at the end, in the plaques. Please my brethren be one of those who trust in His word as it states, not in the false peace and safety message.

“The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus “peace and saftey” is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trunpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p.211)

As we read the final words of Amos we see peace and glory come from the Lord. Our Lord declares  righteousness upon the land. Let’s read verse 11 and 12. “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair it’s damages; I will raise up it’s ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess  the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the Lord who does this thing.”

The above is describing  the time of the loud cry. The 144,000 servants of God go to work during the loud cry and bring in the Gentiles. Verses 13-15 says “Behold, the days are coming,” say the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it”

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.”

Lastly,  Amos shows a beautiful peaceful time where the people are in  “their land” and enjoying the fruit of the land. There is only one place in all the whole world the Lord has ever called His people to -the land of Israel. Here we see that soon our Lord will bring back His people Israel to His (our) land. And no one will  uproot them from there. So as not to have any confusion Ellen White clearly says that we, the SDA church, are the Israel of today (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 164).

In closing, let us be faithful like Amos was, desiring to stand strong and for God’s upright plans, though unpopular at times. If we remain true to the end, a glorious promise is made for us. Amen.

For some interesting information about Amos, this article is helpful.

Amos, The Prophet
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Those who critically examine the Bible unanimously agree that Amos wrote the book that bears his name. Some researchers feel that some minor material may have been inserted later by an editor, but few doubt that a Jewish man named Amos was the author.The prophet hailed from Tekoa, a small town about thirteen miles south of Jerusalem in the Wilderness of Judah. Since he was not from a large cosmopolitan city like Jerusalem or Samaria, Amos, shaped by his rural experiences, had a clearer perspective of the evils that he saw as he walked through the cities of Israel. While the Israelites accepted their lifestyle as normal, the prophet recognized it as a perversion and an abomination to God. Amosmeans “burden-bearer,” and his message to Israel, one of continuous judgment and denunciation, was indeed a heavy burden.Because of the distrust between the two peoples, it is ironic that God sent a Jew to warn the Israelites of their impending judgment. God obviously sent the best man available to do the job, though he was not a formally trained prophet. “I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet,” he explains, “but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel'” (Amos 7:14-15).Amos was more than “just a shepherd.” In Amos 1:1 the Hebrew word noqed indicates a keeper or raiser of sheep or goats (see II Kings 3:4), though it is often rendered as “shepherd.” In Amos 7:14 “herdsman” (bowker) refers to large cattle. God inspired two different words to show that he was a breeder of sheep (and maybe of cattle), supplying others with stock, and possibly developing and refining the breeds. Some of Amos’ land may have also been set aside as a sycamore-fig orchard. His ranch seems to have been small enough that he was personally involved in its operation, though he also seems to have been successful enough to take time off to preach in Israel.Judging from the book’s language and style, Amos was also well educated. Scholars judge his use of language as particularly expressive, vivid, and forceful. Far from being an illiterate shepherd, the prophet was a man of refinement and substance, aware of past events and current conditions in Israel and Judah, as well as in the surrounding nations.

Amos wrote at a very significant time in Israel’s history (Amos 1:1). Both kings Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 BC) and Uzziah of Judah (791-739 BC) enjoyed long and prosperous reigns. His prophecy can be dated before 750 BC, since Uzziah’s son, Jotham (750-731 BC), who reigned as co-regent with his father for eleven years, is not mentioned.

The phrase “two years before the earthquake” helps to narrow the book’s date. Archeological findings unearthed at Hazor in northern Palestine show that an unusually strong earthquake occurred about 760 BC. If so, Amos prophesied in about 762 BC. The phrase seems to limit his prophesying to this particular year, suggesting that his prophetic activity was very short.

Many historians have concluded that 722 BC—forty years later—was when Assyria marched on Israel. Beginning with Amos’ warning message, God in His mercy provided His people with a forty-year period of trial and testing during which they could repent. History records, however, that Samaria fell and her survivors were dragged into captivity in 718 BC.

Tradition holds that Amos died a violent death at the hands of Jeroboam II, but no historical records have confirmed this claim. However, the prophet left a powerful message of warning and urgency that still rings with truth and fervor.  (from www.bibletools.org)


%d bloggers like this: