Archive for December, 2012

Traveling on the Sabbath

December 29, 2012

In today’s hustle and bustle world, many of us  are often found traveling. As Sabbath keepers we should always be prepared at home and away. Let’s look at ways which we can guard the Sabbath, to help us keep it “holy” while on the road.

In the fourth Commandment, it begins, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… (Exodus 20:8). This keeping it holy applies each and every Sabbath, whether we are at home or traveling. In (Isaiah 58:13) we read, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Also, “Thus says the Lord: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.”(Jer.17: 21-22)

 The above is packed with nuggets of gold (Truth). We see that our focus should be to guard against the ever tempting carnal nature of doing “our pleasure” on His holy day. This can be a big problem in situations where one is traveling and away from their routine and customs of the home life. However, as always the Lord has made a way out for us. It’s called preparation.

As  many of us Adventists know , we regard Friday as our “preparation day”. And rightly so. This day is obviously the day before His holy day, so we basically have this day to get things prepared and ready. So let’s look at some areas where we can prepare in traveling.

1) Meals.

This probably is one of the most troubling areas of trying to keep the Sabbath holy when we travel. Obviously we can’t cook most of the time, so we cut corners and eat out. But there again the preparations should be made. Almost every area we travel in, there is a market where we can buy food and snacks. So we can load up on the goodies to eat and drink on the next day -the holy Sabbath.

Sadly some fall into the devil’s trap and succumb to eating in a restaurant. This is  a real  “breaking” of the Sabbath. The most obvious reason is the buying and selling on the Sabbath. We are also encouraging and helping others to break it as well, though they may not be aware of it. In the 13th chapter of Nehemiah we can find specific warnings against buying and selling on the Sabbath.

We need only look back to the story in (Numbers 15:32-41). There you’ll recall the Lord ordered a man stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. How do you think our Lord looks upon us, as we are profaning  His holy Sabbath much more? We should not dare trespass in this way.

2) Planned travel.

Here is another area where we must put the Lord first. When we are to plan our travel, we should be most careful to arrange our flights, so as to not travel on the Sabbath. Long car traveling, which can be laborious should also be avoided also . Yes,  this could cause a delay or interruption, but are we going to risk breaking and trampling His Sabbath in this way? Again our planning and preparation is a must, in order to keep His holy day–holy.

A while back I was in church, in the restroom, and I overheard a conversation. One man was explaining how he was going out-of-town next “Saturday” and flying out. I was amazed!  This I’m afraid, is much more common than we want to believe. The lazy and careless approach to Sabbath keeping will one day cost us if we keep it up. If the Lord stoned that man in the Numbers story, and saves us, as we do much greater  willful transgressions on the Sabbath, will He not have to apologize to that man and his family? Let’s think that through. What makes  us think we now have more rights and liberty to transgress today?

Our two great duties are —Fear God, and keep His Commandments. ( Ecc.  12:13-14).

3) Buying and selling.

Here again is a great temptation. We find ourselves wanting to buy gas, food, general necessities. We rationalize,  “We’re on the road, the Lord understands the circumstances.” Again, Friday is the preparation day when we should get the gas and buy the goodies, etc. With careful planning and thought, we can load all we need by Friday sunset and be good to go for the Sabbath.

4) Places of worship

Sometimes  in our travels there are no close Sabbath churches around. What to do? In the book of Acts there is the example of Paul finding a “riverside” to go to, to pray and have fellowship (Acts 16:13). He was apparently not near a temple and found a quiet place by a river.  So we can also go to a quiet mountain area, beach, or other remote quiet area to pray and read the Scriptures and fellowship. Contemplate the beauty of our Lord’s  creation. We shouldn’t watch worldly TV in our hotel room, or be part of any other worldly endeavor that might keep us from keeping the Sabbath holy.If we know we’ll be staying in the room for the Sabbath, we can take those long overdue naps, or pray, study, or listen to beautiful Christian music. When we indulge in knowing and listening to the things of the Lord, time goes by much too fast!

Our Lord and His word will not change.  “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4). The continual willful sinning in transgressing His Sabbath will, according to His word, cost us a price–our life.

In closing let us be good preparers and planners, thinking of honoring our Lord on His holy Sabbath even while traveling. Traveling will bring us challenges, but we can view them as stepping-stones, to exercise our devotion to the Lord.  Our Lord said the following  “Whoever is faithful in very little, is faithful also in much..” (Luke 16:10).

An Inspiring Life

December 22, 2012

We are often inspired when reading of a man or woman who has lived a Godly life. Examples such as Apostle Paul and his complete turnaround. Job’s perseverance. Noah’s steadfastness and faith amid scorn and mocking.  In this post I would like to introduce a man who I have come to know and received true inspiration. Hopefully after reading about his life, you will as well.

Born in Bulgaria on March 2, 1885,  he and his brothers migrated to the US in 1907.  Arriving penniless, he sound found work as hotelier and grocer in the state of Illinois . While in the hotel business in 1919, he became “intensely interested in religion”.This led him to become a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church.

The church that he had become affiliated with was,  as he put it  “not too attractive for a church”. It was a rented hall that they had used for a church. He was , like many of us in those roaring youthful twenties, aspiring to become wealthy instead of poor. But  as time went on the Truth became dearer and dearer to his heart, steadily replacing those “get rich” aspirations, all too common among us mortals.

Soon he left for California but when he got there he became sick, an illness which required medical attention. His savings was not well either. The stay at the local sanitarium drained his account even more, so much so that the thought of “going broke and staying poor grew larger and larger.” But thankfully he did recover his health.

But after this episode, with no job prospects looming, he became worried for his financial future, yet remained upbeat about his faith in God. But during his California stay, he remembered that he had not paid his tithes or offerings to his church in the mid west, which he was still a part of. The amount  he reasoned was 75.00 due in back tithes. He was quoted as saying  “I thought then that if I should fail to pay this debt now while I had enough to pay it, I could never again get that much money together and it would have to stay unpaid forever. Better get broke now, and be free of debt, than to get broke later and be a debtor forever.”

” My account, I figured, was just a little over my debt. When I wrote a check for the whole balance, and sent it to the church in the middle west, I was left with 3.50 in my pocket.”

So we see from this example that this man went out on a limp, as they say, and gave nearly all he had, to get square with God. That leap of faithfulness got quickly rewarded. Shortly after paying almost all he had, he received a check from his bank that he had ordered closed. To his amazement a check for 350.00 was made out to him, as his final balance!

Things started to rebound, he found a good paying  job at a young fledgling company called Maytag. An old stock investment, that he thought was worthless, doubled in price from his purchase price. So the Lord was fulfilling His part of the promise –Mal. 3:10.

All the while during this time he faithfully did not work on the Sabbath. His manager at Maytag told him one day ” it must be wonderful to believe as you do, but you know I could never be a Seventh Day Adventist.” He responded back why not? “Because if I begin to keep the Sabbath as you do, I will lose my job.”

The man responded “Better to lose your job than to lose your life.” The sales manager should have taken the advice, he died very shortly after this conversation. Around that same time,  the bookkeeper discussed religion with the man, and also said that he could not keep the Sabbath and keep his job also. The man again said “Better to lose your job than to lose your life.” unbelievably, the bookkeeper died very shortly thereafter also.

Later on a Wednesday afternoon, he was walking in a business section of Los Angeles and happened to be in the middle of the road, when all of a sudden a woman came straight at him and hit him square on. Did he get run over? Splattered on the front end? No he didn’t , he explains ” No, this did not happen because something greater took place. An unseen hand carried me on ahead of the car, lightly sliding my feet on the pavement with my right side ahead, and my left side against the car’s radiator! After having made about half the distance before the car stopped, something seated me on the bumper of the car, and I put my left arm around the car’s left headlight….when she stopped, I put my feet on the ground and stepped away from the car.”

“.. by that time the car and I were surrounded by people, and three policemen looking for the man who got run over. But as they found no one lying on the street, or pinned under the car, I told them it was I who had been run over! They wanted to take me to the hospital, and when I told them I wasn’t hurt, I heard one say, “He must be hurt but is too excited and does not know his condition.”

Then they made me raise my legs and arms up and down, several times, after which one shouted , “He is made out of rubber!”

So miraculously the “rubber” man walked away from the head on impact,  3 blocks to his car that day, and proceeded to drive to a prayer  meeting and spoke about the incident to the amazement of the crowd.

In 1923 the man became a member of a Los Angeles area SDA church, and then later became one of the Sabbath school teachers in 1928-29. He became popular and his classes were growing larger and larger as word spread that his teachings were quite different from some of the standard taught teachings yet revealing to many. As the classes left many wanting more, he was requested to have afternoon classes as well.

However, soon the church leaders weren’t accommodating on the afternoon church classes. One of the members, who lived across the street, offered her home as a place for the studies. They remained popular  with some standing outside listening through the windows. But as the classes became the talk of the church, the leaders began to degrade both the teacher and the teachings.

He explained “Next, they forbade us to attend their church services, and they began to ex-communicate those who still wanted to attend our meetings. They tried to deport me too, but failed. Then they endeavoured to get a court order against any of us going to church on Sabbath, but lost out. Once they called the police to have me arrested on false charges that I was disturbing the meetings, but after the officers in the police station heard my story and the deacon’s charge against me, he commanded the two policeman who brought us to the station to put us in their car again, and to take us right back to the church where they picked me up.”

Despite the actions against him, he remained a member of the church. However the later actions were more abusive. He was to get “savagely kicked, knocked down in the rain and mud, jerked, bodily dragged, plumped in a heap on the outer sidewalk.” One thing we should note is that at no time did the man ever file charges against the abuse, he turned the other cheek.

Soon, the uproar came to a head, with the church disfellowshipping him. In a nutshell, the case against him was in effect-insubordination. In other words, who are you to teach the people new truths? There is no one to come after our prophetess Ellen White. The leaders would have nothing to do with this “new light” the man promoted. Many of the members were a different story.

In 1935, he moved to Waco, Texas and started a “training center” from which to publish and send to the SDA members around the world, his findings of some new prophetic interpretations. Most dealing with last day events.

On the large grounds, he oversaw a growing ministry worldwide. Soon up to 125 people resided on the roughly 389 acres. It published and dispensed millions of pieces of literature. While there,  some divine occurences worth sharing we share. The following  is told by an older woman who is still alive and was a member of the ministry and witness of them.

Miracle of the Kitchen

The Lord preserved this shack by a miracle one early morning.  Some dish towels that had been left hanging over the stove the night before to dry caught fire when the wood stove was started for the cook to prepare breakfast.   

The roof had been repaired many times with tar so it quickly became one big blaze. (The camp had just bought a 6 door refrigerator and a Holbert bread mixer, they had saved for years to be able to buy these.)  A bucket brigade was begun but it was quickly realized that there was nothing that man could do to stop the fire from burning.  So he* (Name removed for now) said, “Let us kneel down on these rocks and ask God to save our kitchen.”  When we open our eye after the prayer the fire was out, there was nothing left but smoke.  That was just one of our miracles.

Miracle of the dam

In April of 1943 the dam almost broke.  The City of Waco sent out 300 CC men to sandbag the breaking area.  They would not go out on the dam because of the danger.  So we fed them and sent them back.  

After they were gone, he* called all the heads of families to gather by the dam. They knelt in the mud to ask God’s protection while they sandbagged the breaking area. 

When the prayer was over he* said the  
dam would not break, that it was safe to sandbag the area.  They did so for about 36 hours without stopping. Our Miracle!! 

The Hill that Answered Their PrayersThey were looking at three sites in the state of Texas, the last one they went to was Waco. Brother Houteff, Elder E.T. Wilson, and M.L. Deiter were looking for the property.  When they got to Waco and were looking at the property they did not like it. It was much to rocky.

When they saw the woman who was selling the property she did not want to sell this particular hill, she wanted it to build her own home on. This was not acceptable because that would mean breaking up the property.  So they went back to the motel to petition the Lord for guidance, it was decided that if the woman would sell, without them asking her, the entire property for $8 dollars per acre, the amount she had originally asked for, that the Lord wanted them to buy this piece of land.

They met with her the next morning, before they were able to say anything she said, “Oh, I decided to sell the hill for the same price as the rest of the property.”  So they new that hill was their answer, that they should buy the Waco property.

The man we’re discussing is likened to a male version of Ellen White. He had a 4th grade education (EGW had a third grade). He published consistently for about 25 years up until he died, Feb. 5, 1955. At one time it was estimated that close 100,000 SDA people around the world were receiving his literature. This was at a time when the membership numbered about 800,000.

The man was known for his unique ability to interpret Scripture, with many believing it was a gift of God. However only those who have read his works can attest to it. For the SDA church leaders have figuratively condemned this man to this day, with nearly each and every one never reading his works.

Either God brought a most gifted man to fulfill a purpose,  to live with us for about 70 years, or he brought a deceived “offshoot” of a man, to cause trouble and confusion among the SDA church. Only you can decide. And that decision you make, will either lead you to study his message, or ignore it.

His name, as no doubt many of you guessed, was Victor T. Houteff.

“Prophecy must be fulfilled. The Lord says, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”  Somebody is to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and when he appears, men may say: You are too earnest, you do not interpret the Scriptures in the proper way. Let me tell you how to teach your message.” ( 1 Selected Messages. p.412)

Victor Houteff lived up to the revival and health, diet,dress, and life reform he taught. He practiced what he preached. Each of the 10 Commandments were his golden rules to live by. He was indeed — sold out to the Lord.

Notes- The older woman’s name is Bonnie Smith (approx. 84 yrs), who currently lives in South Carolina. Much of the brother Houteff’s history is in the Timely Greetings writings he did. Also here is a short description of his life as well

Photo Album  (At bottom of page, click right arrow to see more photo’s)

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

December 15, 2012

 Many of us have been sport fans during our lives. And often we have heard the interviews of the winning team’s members. One of the most relied statements has always been something like this,  “Well we won because we are very united, we stick together as a close team. Our teamwork is superb”. It’s no different in the Lord’s work, let us explain.

A while back we did a post called “Sowing Unity or Discord”, where we pointed out that a brother let his idea of the way another brother should proclaim the Elijah message, offend him and bring him to post against the other brother in public. We showed that such selfish actions really did nothing but hinder the message, and unfortunately sowed discord instead of unity.

But let us look at how the real culprit, pride, can cause us to lose track of the ultimate goal–win souls for Christ as we proclaim His last sealing message to His church. We’ll look at 4  important areas in relating to our brethren. 1) Respecting other views on non-salvational issues 2) Respecting different approaches and ideas in going about the Lord’s work  3) Reviewing how pride can cause us to be blinded and possibility a sower of discord 4) How humility and respect brings unity.

In Tract 10 called  “The Sign of Jonah”, brother Houteff dealt with the mysterious 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth issue. Many have diverse views on it. Did Jesus die on Weds. night, Thurs. night, Fri. night, or what? How could He have been in “the heart of the earth” for 3 days and nights if He died on Friday afternoon? And so on. Anyway,  as only he could do, he cleared the issue and explained the final days of Jesus’ life and how he fulfilled His promise to give the Jews the “sign of Jonah” and what “in the heart of the earth” really meant. (Matt. 12:39-41).

But I caught a real jewel of truth in this tract. In page 20  bro. Houteff writes,  “After one acquires all the knowledge necessary pertaining to the sign of Jonah, he is neither better nor worse off so far as his Christianity is concerned, without taking into effect the time wasted if his conclusions on the subject be wrong.

But what is still worse, should a group of people who are rightly proclaiming all the revealed doctrines, disagree with these zealous preachers of the sign of Jonah, as to what “the heart of the earth” may mean, the latter will in most instances not only forsake fellowshipping with their brethren, and cease helping to proclaim more important doctrines, but will also become so obsessed with their pet idea that their minds cannot comprehend much else.” (Tract 10, p. 20-21)

That is one packed statement! Let’s recap this. First we see that bro. Houteff is counselling us that certain non-salvational issues are just that -non-salvational issues. But when we differ  with someone else concerning these issues, we should let it go for the sake of unity. But as we read, the most often  case is that our pride of knowledge gets in the way and we cloud our true perspective and purpose! The unity fails due to the pride of one or both of the brothers, or sisters.

A while back we did the 2 part post on the “Special Resurrection” and I was careful to point out that there are many diverse views on this issue. But I also pointed out that this is what is termed “extra” knowledge, and specifically a non-salvational issue. But unfortunately, in times past,  even that issue has caused some to argue and break away from the fellowship and pridefully hold on to a “pet idea”.

In (1 Peter 5:5) we read”..God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  One of the prime reasons for a unrepetant heart is pride. We just don’t like to admit we are wrong many times. But this is where the “rubber meets the road” as they say. The essence of our Christian life is to show humility and love and understanding to our brothers and sisters. But that is hard to do in many cases if we have pride and  a uncompromising spirit. A “real” man or woman is one that can say ” Sorry bro (or sis) I was wrong about this, thanks for pointing that out to me”.

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will abide among the wise, if you reject instruction, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom, humility precedes honor.” (Proverbs 15:31-33).

Ellen White explains “There were others who had received the truth from Christ’s teachings…but who had lost their first love, and were without spiritual strength..they quibbled about matters of no special importance which were not given by the Lord as tests, and dwelt upon their differences of opinion, these differences became mountains, separating them from Christ and from one another, destroying unity and love.” (1888 Materials, p.1795)

The fact that a brother or sister sees things somewhat different from what we do on non-salvational issues should never cause us to abandon that person.

We need to point out that some may ask–How do we know what is salvational and what is not? The questions has many variables but it all comes down to this. If we have converted our lives to Christ and walking daily in His Commandments and obeying His last message and will  in order so we can be sealed and to stand when His church judgment comes – we will have the Spirit of Truth within us and He will guide us into ALL truth (John 16:13).

Ellen White expounds on this beautifully “God never honors unbelief and questioning and doubt. When He speaks, His word is to be recognized, and carried out in the daily actions. And if the heart of man is in living connection with God, the voice that cometh from above will be recognized….Those that do the will of God shall know of what doctrine whether it be of God, for no deception will cloud their minds.” (Test. on Sabbath School Work, p. 64,65).

So the short answer is that we will know if a doctrine is vital for our salvation or is extra learning (as in the case of the Jonah example). And the ONLY place we can safely go –is to His word as said by HIS prophets. And we are counselled by bro. Houteff to “Hold not to what fabricated ideas seem to make Scriptures say, but grip tenaciously to what the Word, in simplicity, plainly says.” (Tract 10, p.13)

As we pointed out in our post on sowing unity or discord, a brother accused another of posting brother Houteff’s writings and hiding the author’s name. But let us look at what transpired back in bro. Houteff’s day, and which was published by bro. Houteff.

In Symbolic Code News, January 15, 1935, a Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Wessel wrote “After hearing the tirade against the SRod at the Carolina Camp meeting last June, we returned home determined to fight it, and a little while later were glad to have the opportunity of voting to have 13 members disfellowshipped from the Charleston church. But now we can better appreciate their position, as we ourselves with another were cast out Dec. 19.

A short time ago we received from one of the SRod believers a letter containing many quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy which we never dreamed were there. They put us to studying and we soon clearly saw how unfair the denomination has dealt with the SRod teachings.

We thank God that He mercifully gave us willingness and courage to read and investigate for ourselves after we had set our hearts against the message. Praises be to Him for His goodness and for present truth. We expect to put ourselves and our all into this work.”   Signed– Mr. & Mrs. C.E. Wessel, Charleston, S. Carolina

In the above we notice how that certain brother reached out to the objectors, yet with tact and wisdom (they emphasised that which would not prejudice them -Ellen White writings). Look at the results. They won them to the Lord’s cause! Truth was revealed to them on  a basis of which they could relate to.  As bro. Houteff has pointed out, the Elijah message is largely based on Scripture and EGW.

So we see  two important areas that we should take close heed in relating to our brothers and sisters. Watch that we don’t get hung up on our “pet idea”, a doctrine or teaching that is non-salvational. And be careful and tactful in approaching a fellow bro or sis, that has a different, yet possibly successful way of  reaching out to the brethren. Unity should always be a foremost thought in our minds.

Ofcourse we can’t be so accommodating with salvational issues, such as keeping and waking daily in His Commandments (ie. compromise with Sunday keepers doctrine. Or debating whether the Lord’s last message of Elijah is important and needed (ie. SDA who claim no Elijah message is needed)

The  ultimate important focus should be that we want to stay united and that we want to win souls for Christ. With Satan and his devils fighting our Lord’s last message and messengers, can we afford to bicker and fight amongst ourselves?

If we take the counsel given from Paul we would solve many of our disagreements over the non essential issues. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3).

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are doing. And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.” (2 Thes. 5:11-13)

What work would that be? It cannot be the worldly work, so it is those who are active in the Lord’s work. Teaching, admonishing, spreading the Lord’s word and plans. So we must think very highly of each of our co-workers, minor disagreements and all.

We should point out that a good and in-depth discussion of certain non-salvational issues can be rewarding and be part of our “studying to show yourselves approved” (2 Tim. 2:15). However we must guard the ever tempting behavior to start lambasting the other one’s views as wrong or inferior to ours.

What I have found as a good way to gently leave the issue, if I  find that my view is not understood or coming across as I  intended, and is at odds with their different view,   is to say something like, “That’s an interesting view you have, we’ll just have to agree to disagree brother” (or sister). This way you let them know that their view is not “wrong” per se, but “interesting”. Who knows, they may have done lots of research to come to that view.

Conversely, there will definitely be times when the salvational issues come into discussion and we must hold firm (yet respectful) and give them our best viewpoints. But after trying to show the points and they mock or deride us about the issue, we must move on and at that point it is most likely left to the Holy Spirit to work on their hearts. Or there may be a situation that another brother or sister can reach them more effectively than we can.

Another example of all of the above, is concerning a well-known brother who teaches present truth. Recently I got his report on “The 144,000 and those with”,   again it’s another non-salvational issue. I studied it and then got an opposing report from another brother. I compared them both, with the Spirit of Truth guiding me on the latter’s report as truth. But the first brother was basically saying in his report that if one doesn’t believe in this issue exactly like he says–they are lost!  What a  selfish travesty of the work for the Lord! We see a selfish view is promulgated on a point,  that as brother Houteff says ” he is neither better nor worse off as far as his Christianity is concerned.”

We read counsel from James ” Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9). Is not what the brother , in the above example doing worse than grumbling? For he has mounted the judgment seat.

 Bro. Houteff  taught much about humility and that we should not seek to take credit for things we do for Christ. Speaking of those who desire the true Christian principles he states ” He is unselfish, he rejoices in the good fortune of others, and loves to have others receive credit for something he himself may have accomplished. He expects credit from the Lord only.”(Bro. Houteff’s Letter “To Any Seeking to be DSDA)

In closing, just as we made mention of what constitutes a winning team ,let us as team members of the Lord’s final team, also strive to be united. Let us not think of ways to divide but to unite. Yes, we must and will hold firm to the salvational issues, but the less important areas should not cause us to be a divided team.

In the 1970’s I remember a song that was famous around the country called “United We Stand”,  it had these words–  “For united we stand, divided we fall, and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together, together, you and I”.(The Brotherhood of Man, 1970)

Questions and Answers:

I understand how the doctrine of the 10 Commandments can be a salvation issue, but how does the Elijah message fit into that catagory?

That really is a great and timely question. We as SDA and DSDA, certainly understand that one of the main doctrines we believe is that in 1844, Christ went into the most holy part of the sanctuary to begin the judgment of the dead. But soon this will pass unto the existing living. The prophesised Elijah to come (Mal.4:5), many believe is he who is to forewarn the next coming of the Lord. Just as John the Baptist warned his “own” people of the coming of the Lord, so too this anti-type Elijah is to warn our own people, in the church,  of the coming of the Lord( not to warn the world).

However this coming, as one truly studies Scripture, Spirit of Prophecy, and the Rod message, shows that it is the beginning judgment for the living and is to be in God’s house (His church–sanctuaries). (See Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p.209-220.  Same book, vol.3, p.266-267, 1 Peter 4:17, Mal 3:1-5, and our post “Ezekiel 9”) Consequently, the soon to come solemn judgment and execution of judgment starts first among us,upon our Lord’s next “invisable” coming. This is more fully explained in the above references.

So the Elijah message is the last message to us to reform our lives and do right before the Lord, and gives us instructions on how we can escape the dreadful judgment that will soon come upon us, his church. It warns us to reform, in our work, dress, diet, worship and so forth.It asks us to truly care about the sins in our lives and in the church, so much so that we “sigh and cry” for these abominations. For those who have taken our Lord’s counsel in Rev. 3:18, and searched Scripture and anointed their eyes with eyesalve, they have been led to understand this last message clearly. So obviously this is a very real salvational issue. And as such we cannot compromise the teaching/spreading of this truth.

A New Sanctuary Experience

December 8, 2012

Have you dreamed of walking into the sanctuary on the Sabbath and becoming a part of a new service? One that is alive and has the Lord’s Spirit upon it. The holy Presence is felt all around. Let us pretend for now what our service would be like if we went back to the basics of the early Christian church.

In (Jeremiah 51:1) we read ” We are ashamed because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.”  Here we see that from way back, our church (sanctuary) has had a  problem. We have allowed the unconverted (strangers) into the LORD’S SANCTUARY. Let me repeat whose sanctuary it is –the LORD’s SANCTUARY. That’s right, we’ve lost site of this fact. Our behavior and service has mostly become self satisfying.

As we’ve mentioned many times before, we are now called on to validate our walk with Him, by signing and crying. Here in the sanctuary, is where, if we are showing the Lord we truly care, we are sighing and crying. The things we see EVERY Sabbath, should make us shake our head and cry out to the Lord “When  will we clean His sanctuary from the worldly customs, pagan customs, irreverent behavior, cold formalism, and so forth.

Isaiah also cries out about the defiling of His sanctuary,  “..Our adversaries have trodden down your sanctuary…Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That you would come down! That the mountains might shake at your presence.” (Isaiah 63:18, 64:1).

 How many of us today view the church sanctuary as –holy? Let’s think about that. When you walk into our Lord’s sanctuary, do you feel this holiness? If we are truly upfront and honest, we must say–no. Why is that? It can only be that we’ve stopped doing things that are pleasing to Him, both inside the sanctuary and out.

In many places throughout God’s word he makes references to the “shepherds”. We are well aware that this means God’s leaders, those who are in charge of the flock (church). The majority of the blame is placed upon them!”His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant;they are all dumb dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand;They all look to their own way, everyone for his own gain, from his own territory”(Isaiah 56:10).

“….Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezek.34:1)

It is indeed a solemn thing to be placed in the position of leadership, and of which being God’s watchmen for the people, is the most solemn. Let’s now look at a service that would be a changed one or new one, one that would be very conscientious of doing right within His house, careful in each and every matter.

It is early in the morning. The doors to the sanctuary have not yet opened. The first of the people to open up the building are arriving. The few people who open it up step into the foyer. Preparations are made. An Elder walks into the sanctuary to check that all is well and in order for the service (temperature, lighting etc.)

Just a few weeks ago the pastor had an epiphany at his home. He utterly broke down and prayed to our God, an all night session. He had seen that the Lord’s true plans are centered around the soon to come church purification among his own people, his church. He was convicted. He knew that his endless peace and safety messages from the pulpit was not the Lord’s will for him  today. His purpose was now changed. The seriousness of “sighing and crying” was upon him, and he knew much of these abominations were right in the church. And worse yet, he was the shepherd leading the people into it!

So for the last couple of weeks, he has told the straight testimony. He has warned the people to straighten up before God, honor Him truly, inside the sanctuary and out. So the people have been abuzz the last couple weeks. Had the pastor done a 180? This is not the same man as before they thought. They had now been counselled on how to behave in the sanctuary and how the service was changing.

The pastor knew well that his new-found faith and knowledge could very well head him into opposition from the luke warm head leaders, yet he knew that Christ was the one he must follow. As the shepherd of his flock, he was no longer to be “ignorant” or a “dumb dog”. He must be bold and not afraid to do the “right thing” before the Lord.

The people soon begin to file in and an elder greets them at the sanctuary door, and politely opens it for them. They begin to find their seats. As more and more come into the sanctuary, there is a quietness all around. No one is talking. You see one of the points that the pastor has made is that the sanctuary shall be a “house of prayer”.  “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matt.21:13). There has been clear instructions that prior to the service, the people may pray, meditate,or contemplate their past week with the Lord. But there is to be an honorable silence in His house, until the service starts.

The “Sabbath school lesson” has been moved to an adjacent building. Gone is the back and forth conversations of the people in His sanctuary.Also gone is the custom of swinging the sanctuary doors wide open to let all the foyer noise and distractions into the sanctuary, after the sanctuary Sabbath school class. Instead a beautiful silence is experienced, the Holy Spirit roams the place as silent thoughts and prayers go up before the Lord, who is in His sanctuary now.  “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Matt.18:20).

Also gone is all the cellphone ringing, handhelds on and being used. All the people have been instructed to dress as they would if they were going to have a private one on one meeting with the president of the USA. But in this case there is One much greater who they will stand before today. The women are counselled in modesty.

It is now close to the time of the church service, many have taken their seats. Yes amazingly there is a church wide silence. Gone is the laughter, loud speaking, and the standing in the isles idly chatting.  The Spirit of the Lord seems to be growing among the people. Some have been kneeling for quite a while, deep in thought and prayer, those prayers are indeed heard by the One who is in the sanctuary now.

The pastor enters the sanctuary and comes to the pulpit, he breaks the silence and says ” Greetings my beloved church members. Let us begin this service by kneeling and praying for the Lord’s guidance and Spirit to be upon us today.” So the whole congregation kneels in prayer, and it lasts a good 5 minutes. After prayer, he invites the congregation to sing a couple of songs of praise to the Lord. The people are joyous and the sound of all the voices is helped by some unseen Spirit, for it is now almost heavenly. The Lord has been pleased with the service so far and is blessing the people with the uncanny harmony and sounds.

After the singing, the head elder comes up and speaks a few words on the different church activities and prayer requests. The custom of the children’s story is next. However, the custom of having the little ones go around and take money is gone. You see  the pastor has decided to go back to the original early Christian and SDA church custom of collecting the tithes and money for the church on the “first day”  not Sabbath(1 Cor.16:2). He also is keenly aware that to handle money within the Lord’s sanctuary is truly an abomination. This custom was not practiced in the early SDA church. It crept in from the pagan church customs. (See our post )

So the children gather up front to hear a story of Jesus or some inspired Biblical story. After the story they head back to their seats but are counselled by their parents to keep quiet.

Now comes the part where the people become interactive in the service. The pastor announces that it is now time for the “personal testimonies” . He asks for the people to raise their hands if they have a personal testimony of what the Lord has done for them the past week. An elderly man raise his hand and tells of his dream he received of meeting an old school friend, and sure enough, he ran into him 2 days later in the supermarket! The people yell  ” Hallelujah!”  One man stands up and says “Praise the Lord!”

Next a young woman raises her hand and tells of  how her reading the Scriptures this week has brought her closer to God. And some yell  out–amen. You see in this part of the service the people enjoy listening to what the Lord and His Holy Spirit have done. For they have come to praise Him for not only what He has done do but what He is “doing”.The people see  that they are serving an alive and working Lord!  Many others tell of   “signs” they received of the Lord. This continues on for at least 15 to 20 minutes. It has become many of the church goers favorite part of the service. The testimonies speak volumes for the faith and confidence of the members.

Now it has come time for a couple more songs of praise. The people are loving it as they are inspired after hearing what the Lord has done this week among the members.

After the singing, the pastor is ready for the sermon. He has prepared a sermon concerning Revelation. He wants to enlighten his flock of some of the mysteries therein. The people are rapt in attention as  he devotes time about Rev. chapter 3, about his own Laodicean church. No more are the ones who are silently napping  or being distracted some way. The Spirit has awoken the church!  He speaks about how we are not to be lukewarm in our walk with the Lord, and if we do on a continual  basis, our Lord promises that He will “sprue us out”.

As the sermon goes on, a man stands up and says ” I have just received a vision!”  The pastor calms the congregation down and tells the man “Speak my brother, speak”. The man begins to tell it. ‘The Lord has shown me that some in our church are buying and selling on this , His holy Sabbath day. This is not right before the Lord, please stop it!” and then he sits down. The pastor immediately goes to Nehemiah chapter 13 and reads the whole chapter. For he knows that this was a direct sign from the Lord, and that some are in need of hearing this today.

So the people are witnessing the direct hand of God in moving the hearts of the people through the sermon. Our Lord has been pleased because He has witnessed the people’s honor and reverence to Him. The sermon finishes strongly as the people yell out “amen” after he is done. He reminds them that the church building will be open tomorrow for tithe donations, or if they prefer they can get an mailing envelope in the foyer and mail it in.

As he closes the service He once again asks the congregation to kneel and pray. He requests that the Lord watch over each and every member. He asks that the ones who are buying and selling come to repentance this week. The prayer finishes and he walks out of the sanctuary. The people silently get up and leave as well.

Outside there are people glowing with an inner contentment because they have just been a part of a holy affair. The Lord was in His sanctuary! It has affected them. They discuss how the pastor has really guided the church in the right way. They shake their heads as they talk about the prior days where nothing of the sort was experienced at all! This experience has motivated them to walk closer to the Lord this coming week.

My beloved brothers and sisters, what we have read here will very soon come, something very similar, after the Lord’s time for revival and reformation has come. This experience is not my idea  rather it is  guidance from the Lord to show that His sanctuary will indeed  once again  be  –holy. Let us get a jump-start by spreading this post to  your friends and relatives if you have been blessed. That they may see that there is indeed a better way to honor Him on His Sabbath. And it will lead to —  A New Sanctuary ExperiencePraise the Lord!

Note- For more reading on the “Behavior in the House of God” see Testimonies for the Church, Vol.5, p.491-501

A Heavenly Place For You

December 1, 2012

Some of us have made  big sacrifices  in our lives, we have greatly diminished our television watching or cut it out altogether, shunned worldly music listening, eliminated our prior daily cherished carnal sins, and just plain overcome the many snares, with the power of the Holy Spirit. But sometimes we get the urge to once again return to the “vomit”. “As a dog returnth to it’s vomit, so a fool returnth to his folly (Proverbs 26:11). But let’s keep a cheerful heart and remain steadfast in our walk for “great” is our reward(Matt.5:12).

Our Lord says in (John 14:2) ” In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” It is quite fitting that for the much of  His time spent on this earth, our Lord was a creator and builder(carpenter). We can only imagine the people in awe and wonderment as they beheld the fine craftsmanship that He showed in His work. His careful eye measuring exactly on each detail.

With no less perfection we can trust that He has built for each of us,  a place that will fit us in comfort and style and bliss. I mean even the street  will be breath-taking, as we step upon it, seeing gold as shiny as glass. “The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass” (Rev 21:21).Then how about those gorgeous ripe fruits! One bite and we will melt in joy and refreshment. And drinking the pure life-giving water!

 Before I became a Sabbath keeper, I  had seldom noticed the real beauty of His work. I mean the colorful flowers didn’t stand out to me, the clouds formed were not meaningful, the hummingbird or butterfly was a mere curiosity.  Instead there is now a  loving appreciation or even an understanding of a direct sign given from Him. In short His creation is now indeed –alive.

As I become more and more aware of where I am heading to, it makes me think of the following logic. While on this earth for such a short time , can we truly comprehend that a life here of pleasures and sin, is an equal and balanced trade-off against an eternal bliss with our Lord? Is a moment in time worth throwing away an everlasting  joyful and exciting existence , full of life and beauty? Ponder this carefully, think of the rewards and your future place in heaven. A never  ending existence with One who will forever be our joy.

But let us not deceive ourselves, our Lord has sent His last message to us that requires us to obey Him and follow His last instructions. He is throwing us His life jacket (His Elijah message), will we grab it and hold on? To sum it up, our life must be in compliance with daily obedience of His 10 Commandments, and we must sigh and cry for the abominations we see in our life and that of the church (Ezekiel 9). This is all backed up by Ellen White as well (Testimonies for the Church, Vol 3, p266-267).We must hear His messenger (Elijah) and follow His message sent through Him. As I have said many times, I for one, will not ignore His last messenger, will you?

 We will and do slip occasionally but as Scripture says “A righteous man falls seven times, he rises again..” (Proverbs 24:16). The key is to never stay down, but get up, continue on the straight and narrow.

We are told in (Ezekiel 18:32 ) “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! ”  We have a Lord who loves us greatly and wants us to “come home”, the real home built by Him. Let us determine to do what is required of us and then there will soon come a time when the Lord’s words will be fulfilled  “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you who are blessed of My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matt.5:34).

In order to gain this great paradise, we are counselled to “lose” our earthly carnal life . “For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses His life for Me and the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).

In closing, once we truly convert and become born again, all things become new(2 Cor. 5:17). We see sin for what it is –a terrible separation from our Lord. We can overcome only when we trust in His word and His/our Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Though you may sacrifice now, may you dwell on what will soon be ” A  Heavenly Place For You”.

%d bloggers like this: