Archive for December, 2018

Understanding the Christmas Holiday through Present Truth

December 8, 2018

Image result for picture of Jesus in manger

As the Christmas holiday is fast approaching, it behooves us to correctly understand this long-held tradition. There is much we can filter through once we stay abreast of God’s advancing scroll of Truth. To be sure, if one does not look at this in a more full perspective, one may be caught up in being an extremist and steering from the “middle of the road” as the Lord’s Elijah message counsels.

For example, one “present truth” believer condemns those who even mouth the word “Christmas”. Yet Inspiration has never said such things. Many SDA think nothing of lighting their home Christmas tree and outside house lights during this season. Both positions are wrong and not in the counsel  of the Lord’s word.

Let us read —

“There is but one way of knowing that we are being led, by Christ our Lord, in the straight path to the pearly gates, and that is, by neither adding to nor taking from the Word of Truth, but by carefully following in the way of light, going not a step ahead of it, lingering not a step behind it, nor walking along its side-edges, but by following right in the middle of the road.

Hence, let not your zeal for progress drive you ahead of the light and make you to walk in the darkness; neither let your caution against running too far ahead cause you to drop back and lag behind; nor yet let carelessness verge you toward the edges.

Stay in the center of the road, where the light shines the brightest. Do not follow ideas, which stand upon implications, upon enlargements, upon diminishings,of the meaning of authoritative statements. Says Christ: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life.” (Rev. 22:18, 19.)

“But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18:20.) “Extremists never walk in the blaze of the light, but are always found ahead of it, and those who are passive invariably walk far behind it, while the careless and the indifferent stray to the edges.But those who are the true children of light never vary a step left or right, front or back from the brightest spot of the Christian’s narrow road”.”—3 SC 3-4:13

December 25th as Christ’s birthday —

There is no doubt that the “wide awake” Christians believe that Jesus was not born on Dec, 25. Further, we have Inspiration which also makes this case–

“The twenty-fifth of December is supposed to be the day of the birth of Jesus Christ, and its observance has become customary and popular. But yet there is no certainty that we are keeping the veritable day of our Saviour’s birth.

History gives us no certain assurance of this. The Bible does not give us the precise time. Had the Lord deemed this knowledge essential to our salvation, He would have spoken through His prophets and apostles, that we might know all about the matter. But the silence of the Scriptures upon this point evidences to us that it is hidden from us for the wisest purposes.

In His wisdom the Lord concealed the place where He buried Moses. God buried him, and God resurrected him and took him to heaven. This secrecy was to prevent idolatry. He against whom they rebelled while he was in active service, whom they provoked almost beyond human endurance, was almost worshiped as God after his separation from them by death.

For the very same purpose He has concealed the precise day of Christ’s birth, that the day should not receive the honor that should be given to Christ as the Redeemer of the world—one to be received, to be trusted, to be relied on as He who could save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. The soul’s adoration should be given to Jesus as the Son of the infinite God.” (Adventist Home, p. 477 )

“For over nineteen centuries the institution of Christmas, the popular gift-exchanging day, has been acclaimed throughout Christendom as one of God’s good and perfect gifts.  And this sentiment has been glorified and perpetuated in the face of the widely-known facts that Christmas is not the birthday of Christ, that He was not, in truth, born in December at all, that the observance of the day is simply a Christianized heathen custom perpetuated in charming Christian guise, and that it is not a gift from God.” (Tract 13, p.5)

The Christmas Tree —

The Scriptures and His Rod both are in agreement here. But regarding the Spirit of Prophecy (SOP) writings we see a little different angle.

“Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

   “They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.  They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go.  Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” (Jer. 10:2-5.)

 

“…Christmas is not, in reality, observed to the honor of the Saviour, but to the glorification of a heathen custom and to the gratification of the carnal heart.  Consequently, “altogether-Christians” cannot therefore consistently participate in celebrating the Christmas myth.  Indeed, to do so is openly to set at naught the Word of God, for “thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.” (Tract 13, p.6-7)

“Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches, but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree…. Let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath school scholars is a sin, for it may be made a great blessing.

Keep before their minds benevolent objects. In no case should mere amusement be the object of these gatherings. While there may be some who will turn these occasions into seasons of careless levity, and whose minds will not receive the divine impress, to other minds and characters these seasons will be highly beneficial. I am fully satisfied that innocent substitutes can be devised for many gatherings that demoralize.” (The Adventist Home, p.482)

How can this be assessed?  We think this is key, we go with “our present truth” , the current message from the Lord via His Rod is–do not “consistently participate” in this custom with its heathen practices. That’s what we are counselled and what we should do.Apparently those of Ellen White’s time we under different instructions on the “church” tree. Nowhere is SOP speaking of a “home tree” as is the heathen custom today.

Gift Giving —

“..the traditional gift-exchanging which is part and parcel of the spirit of Christmas observance, is a jealousy-breeding custom, all too often only cankering the receiver’s heart and emptying the buyer’s pocketbook.  Thus while it goads one multitude to display of pride, even luring them into revelry, debauchery, and immorality, it drives another, the multitude of poor, either to envy or discouragement, or to both, also not infrequently to despair, and sometimes to  insanity — even to committing murder and suicide.

The whole Christmas institution consequently being but a species of heathen worship that is demoralizing the nations, the Lord’s servants will invariably shun the exchanging of Christmas gifts, shun the evil attendant upon the occasion’s pretentious spirit and spurious humanitarianism.  Christians cannot, indeed, take part in its unholy  traffic of gift-trading and reveling, and at the same time be “altogether-Christians.” (Tract 13, p.7-8)
“The holiday season is fast approaching with its interchange of gifts, and old and young are intently studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of affectionate remembrance. It is pleasant to receive a gift, however small, from those we love. It is an assurance that we are not forgotten, and seems to bind us to them a little closer…. 

It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best friend. We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the word of God or that will increase our love for its precepts. Provide something to be read during these long winter evenings….

Thousands of dollars will be worse than thrown away upon the coming Christmas and New Year’s in needless indulgences. But it is our privilege to depart from the customs and practices of this degenerate age; and instead of expending means merely for the gratification of the appetite or for needless ornaments or articles of clothing, we may make the coming holidays an occasion in which to honor and glorify God.

Like the wise men of old, you may offer to God your best gifts and show by your offerings to Him that you appreciate His Gift to a sinful world. Set your children’s thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of His only-begotten So.” (AH, p.478-480)

Another seemingly diametrically opposing counsel yes? Well, upon close examination maybe not. SOP says we can bring gifts that honor God. For example a Tithe offering to one of God’s “true” storehouses or maybe a present truth Tract or book to someone. In other words, gifts glorifying God and His cause.

Sadly, as of today, there is not any Children’s books on the Lord’s Elijah message. But we are working on that. For it would be a great gift for the Children. Notice that we can set our “..children’s thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of His only-begotten Son.”

The Christmas purpose —

“While to a multitude of Christmas-observers, Christ means scarcely more than any ordinary man of fame, to an even greater Christmas-observing multitude of “not-at-all-Christians,” He is but a storied figure by which to conjure holiday revelry; although they meaninglessly lip His name in conventional acknowledgment of the supposed origin of the religious occasion of the season!  Thus to many, like a light in the darkness, stands out the fact that Christmas is not, in reality, observed to the honor of the Saviour, but to the glorification of a heathen custom and to the gratification of the carnal heart.  Consequently, “altogether-Christians” cannot therefore consistently participate in celebrating the Christmas myth.” (Tract 13, p.6-7)

“As the twenty-fifth of December is observed to commemorate the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed by precept and example that this was indeed a day of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can be made to serve a very good purpose. 

The youth should be treated very carefully. They should not be left on Christmas to find their own amusement in vanity and pleasure seeking, in amusements which will be detrimental to their spirituality. Parents can control this matter by turning the minds and the offerings of their children to God and His cause and the salvation of souls….Let there be recorded in the heavenly books such a Christmas as has never yet been seen because of the donations which shall be given for the sustaining of the work of God and the upbuilding of His kingdom.” (AH, p.478, 482)

Summary —

As we mentioned in the top of the post we must strive toStay in the center of the road, where the light shines the brightest.” Thus, when we look at God’s word as said in the above references, we can see an underlining harmony.

The Christmas season is nearly all encompassing of heathen worship and customs. Yet we can turn it around by doing what God’s Spirit of Prophecy says. Gifts such as offerings to His storehouses, present truth literature to those we think may be enlightened, and teaching our children about Christ and focusing on HIM that day. It can indeed be  a day of — sustaining of the work of God and the upbuilding of His kingdom.”

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Faith in Action

December 1, 2018

Image result for picture of jesus with the centurion

We have heard the well-known following words from our Lord —

“Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” (Matt. 17:17)

Our Lord was exasperated with the lack of faith around him. But how about those who show great faith and put it in practice?

We remember one of the greatest examples of pure unadulterated faith exhibited by the Centurion.

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west,and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.” (Matt.8:5-13)

Today when we hear of such strong faith , it really encourages us. It motivates us to do likewise remembering that faith is so important in our Christian walk. This week we’d like to tell you about “Brother R”. We heard about this story this week and was led to share it. The following is what he wrote on FB —

Blessed by the goodness of God!

I lost my wallet today on a bike ride to the store. When I got home I immediately knew that it was not in my pocket. I got on my bike and followed the way back to the store. No wallet. I went inside the store and asked customer service. No wallet. I left my name and tele # with them. Then I rode back the same way. No wallet.

When I got home, Elba and I had prayer that it might be returned. I then cancelled my debit card which thankfully was the only card that I had. We both had faith that it would be found and returned. Later on I called the store to check in and see. No wallet.

We had some family over for Thanksgiving dinner this evening. My faith was still encouraged, even though it had been several hours by now. After the family time was over and everybody went home, I had began to think that it was not going to be found. I wrote down on my desk that I needed to contact the DMV, bus pass, and store discount card. Then we sat down to watch a movie. It was 9 pm.

Shortly thereafter…….
The doorbell rings. There stands two guys and a lady. I immediately knew what it was all about. They brought my wallet to the door. A mom and her two sons who were older. Wow! The mom’s husband found it on the sidewalk about a block away. He was unable to come. I didn’t hesitate to offer them a check. They all absolutely refused. I offered a couple of times, still they said no way. We praised God for them and gave them many thanks. We said, “God answers prayer”. They agreed.

What a God! God’s faithfulness was shown even when I had pretty much given up on the tail end. Bless His name! (This was the third time in recent years that my wallet was lost. Each time they were returned, nothing was missing.)

Although tempted to forego his faith, he still had faith in the power of the Lord to answer prayer, for he had lost his wallet two other times and each time, prayed and it has been done unto him. We notice that he and his wife did the most important thing, they took the matter to the Lord in prayer right away. So often we sadly forget to call upon the Lord in these situations, whether big or small, important or not so important.

But here is what really made us think. Brother R, his wife and myself all think it was no ordinary humans who found and then delivered this wallet, we believe it was–angels! Brother R relayed to me when we discussed this situation that there was something unique and wonderful about the “mom and her two sons”. For they smiled very warmly and presented themselves in, well let’s just say an “angelic way”.

God’s word says —

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”(Hebrews 13:2)

We also had the same unique and wonderful experience, which we related in the following post done back on Dec. 11, 2009 —

https://godsloveandlaw.com/2009/12/11/gods-sings-give-us-renewed-faith/

The above link post experience reminded me of a prior similar experience. Looking back, I truly believe it was angels who sat down with me for that dinner. Angels probably take a much more active role in the Christian experience than we realize. We remember Lot having that memorable meeting with the two men who were angels.

Some may say. “Yeah but I pray often for things but I don’t get much from it.” The Scriptures answers that —

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)

In closing, our walk is built upon “the basics” and those are –love, faith, and obedience. When we learn to trust the Lord, He will certainly reward our faith if it is according to His purpose.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”(Matt.21:21)


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