Archive for the ‘Backsliding’ Category

A Look at Two Tithe Payers

August 31, 2019

Image result for Jesus watching the old lady two mites

In Mark 12:41-44 we read —

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

What a marvelous uplifting story of someone sold out to the Lord! Giving all she had to fulfill her duty. This story’s lesson is still applicable today. We shall look at two people who take two different directions in being faithful and unfaithful to the Lord. These examples are by no means unusual, but rather common today.

The first person we shall discuss is brother H.

He is from a very poor country in Africa. He currently is making just a few dollars a month (about the equivalent of 100.00 USA per month). He has been a present truth believer for 8 years. After studying the Scriptures and SOP message, he felt led by the Lord to continue studying, as the parable of the 10 virgins shows he needed “extra oil” to get to the kingdom.

But somewhere along the line brother H never took seriously the following SOP warning —

“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 that which was committed to their trust is taken from them. Their earthly treasure is then swept away, and they have lost all. And the crowns they might have worn, had they been faithful, are put upon the heads of those saved by the faithful servants whose means was constantly in use for God.” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p.198)

Week after week passed by yet he continued to ignore the Lord’s treasury. He justified the missing of paying tithes as “I am poor and barely make expenses to live on, the Lord understands.” This brother H continues on his merry way thinking all is right and that the Lord is winking at his duty and making him an exception to returning the Lord’s money.

Again the Word of the Lord counsels —

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat You?’ “You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me.”(Mal. 3:8)

Brother H is still struggling 8 years later after accepting present truth. Often getting temporary jobs and then being let go to start all over again looking for work. The Lord’s promise, His Word, has not applied to brother H. Why? Because he has not done his part to keep the bargain that the Lord proposed.

“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 not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

Let’s now look at brother T.

He also is very poor, he is also from a poor country in Africa. Brother T has likewise accepted the Lord’s Elijah message and has believed now for 7 years. But he, unlike brother H, read in the Scriptures (Malachi), SOP (many places) and the Rod (many places) that we must be faithful in returning the Lord’s money back to Him. He took this very seriously as he counted it a duty that must not be neglected, lest he is found a slothful and unfaithful servant.

Brother T makes about 180.00 monthly sweeping and cleaning the streets for some of the local business shops. Six days a week he works, and it is hard labor. But he decided long ago that he would make meticulous bookkeeping of his income and expenses. Every week he lists all his expenses for that week and deducts it from his income. The net balance (aka — net increase) is only about 18 dollars. So at the end of the week he sends off about 20%-25% of that to cover his first and second tithes = 3.60 to 4.50 a week. He also sends in free-will offerings as often as possible.

Brother T has been blessed, not only has he had a steady reliable job but the owners have paid him faithfully and he can count it like clockwork that he will get his money at the end of the week. This is the Lord’s hand at work. For the Lord has moved upon the heart of all who are connected with brother T to “treat him right” and they do this. Not only that but he has received three unsolicited raises during his five years on this job.

As to the motivation, brother T was inspired by the Lord’s counsel when he read the following —

 

“IS SMALL INCOME TITHE EXEMPT?

Question No. 158:

   As my income is very small, am I not exempt from paying tithe?

Answer:

   God designed the plan of systematic benevolence so as to make it as equitable to the poor as to the rich, no more a tax on the mite than on the million. And we know of no Scriptural authority for exempting from tithe any income, however small. All, poor as well as rich, are given the privilege of returning to the Lord His own. Many with a “mite” income are paying both first and second tithe, and in return are receiving a rich bestowal of blessing.

   Thus reason forces the conclusion that if one is not obliged to receive charity help in addition to his income (whatever its source) to cover his living expenses, then for him not to pay tithe is to cheat Himself of the abundant blessing which attends a faithful regard for the royal privilege of being one of God’s stewards.”  (Answerer, vol. 5, p.86-87)


To be sure Satan has found many ways to bring up excuses as to why we don’t need to bother with paying tithes. Here is a shortlist of some of the common ones —

1 —  Your income is too small and you just don’t have any extra to pay the tithes.

2 —  You live in a poor country and the mailing alone will cost more than the tithe.

3 —  You find much wrong with the current SRod associations, they do this or that wrong and therefore they are unworthy of your tithes.

4 —  You make your own home the storehouse and because of this, you are allowed to pocket His tithes and even ask for donations. You spread the message yourself and therefore are entitled to the Lord’s money.

Of course, there are more reasons to justify being a thief, but the above four are very prominent reasons today. We’ve shown you how number 1 reason is dealt with, now let’s look at number 2.

The Lord in His all-seeing vision saw that the poor countries would have that problem–too small tithe based on income that doesn’t even take care of the postage in some cases. In other words, how can one send in their 5.00 check or money order when postage is 5.00 ? Not to worry.

For the last several years both of the two large SRod organizations have online donation links, that process the money in seconds free of charge. The one thing that the sender has to have is a bank account. The sender simply gives his bank info to the organization’s process server (it is very secure) and it is done in minutes. 

This avenue has been so simple and seamless that yours truly has used it for years with good success.

Here are the two links to the Mt. Dale and Waco organizations for tithe processing–

http://www.shepherds-rod-message.org/giving/giving.html

https://davidiantoday.org/en/donation/

Now as to number 3, again the Lord counsel’s us —

IS IT MY DUTY TO SET RIGHT THE LORD’S TREASURY?

Question No. 98:

   Should we pay our tithe to the “storehouse” if we know that it is not used rightly?

Answer:

   Knowing that our tithe belongs to God’s storehouse, our greatest burden should be to see that it is faithfully paid there. Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the Lord has laid upon any tithe payer the policing of the channels through which these funds pass.

   The Lord’s treasury is under His control, and if He Himself should not see fit to correct an abuse in the handling of His money, certainly we could not correct it however hard we might try. If we guard carefully that part of His work which He entrusts to us, our only concern will be to find out where His “storehouse” is, and then faithfully to deposit His money there. He has not made us responsible for its use; that, He will personally take over–even as He is now “taking the reins in His own hands.”

   When the Promised Land was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi received no land for an inheritance, as did the eleven tribes. Instead, the Lord decreed that the tithes of the other tribes were to go to the Levites. This was their inheritance. It was actually their own. And just as they, as the tithe receivers, had no right to dictate to the others, the tithe payers, what to do with their own increase after it had been tithed, so the tithe payers had no right to dictate to the tithe receivers what to do with the tithe. Each tribe was itself to be accountable to the Lord for that which He had entrusted to it. Thus it must be today. (Answerer, vol. 4, p.46)

On number 4, we also have direct clear counsel that warns us of such terrible ideas–

 

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 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. (Answerer, vol. 4, p.44-45)


“The message invests no one with authority to solicit financial help to carry on either their work or that of the Shepherd’s Rod. ” (Sym. Code, vol. 8, no. 1-12)

Summary —

The privilege to return the Lord’s money back to him is indeed one of our most precious blessings the Lord bestows upon us. I have personally seen it working in my own life and can attest to the Lord keeping His Malachi 3:10 promise. It is up to each of us to look within and account for either our faithfulness or thievery. Now is the time for self-reflection and while we still can make our faithful duty a serious business.

 

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Worldly Entanglements

May 9, 2015

Mayweather-Paquiao

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

This week  boxing fans around the world watched one of the most anticipated boxing matches in decades. It’s been a while since I have brought up the subject of this brutal sport. As some of you who have read this blog for a few years know, I was a serious addicted boxing fan prior to my conversion.

Allow me to regress a little and go back into my history. Since a young teenager I found the sport of boxing fascinating. The one on one challenge, the pure exact and measured movements, the power, all this captivated me.

You could not get me away from a big fight. I don’t recall anything  that I would put before it, and yes that would include an important date. But as I posted a few years ago, when I decided to convert, the Lord sent me a dream to warn me about this idol. He saw I wanted the Lord and boxing too! Well, needless to say, this was cut out and I have not looked back since.

Our Lord warns, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).

When we turn from this idols, or habitual sins, we must walk away from them and not look back. This week, however the spirit of darkness did not stop from tempting me. I was strongly pulled to get a newspaper and read about the fight. I Thought, maybe it’s ok because I really don’t do that anymore, so it’s just a rare once in a while thing. Additionally during the fight, I was tempted to check the computer for round by round live updates.

However Scripture again was my strength.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11)

When I was tempted the Lord reminded me of not looking back. For I knew to do such a thing would indeed be seriously wrong. But the short see-saw battle gave rise to the idea for this post.

You see, we as God’s remnant are called to take the “higher road”. That means we are to walk the upright walk and focus on doing the right thing at the right time.

“It is the essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time.” (Testimonies, vol. 6, p.24)

Another reason I was guided to do this post was a short conversation I had with a church member this last Sabbath. As we were leaving the service I asked him if they would like to come over at 6 pm for a Bible study at my home. He said, “Would like to but we are going on a nature hike, then over to some friends to watch the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight”. I thought for a second then said, “The Lord told me to quit watching that.” He smiled and went his way.

But I thought how the many in our church really need guidance. Only a few really want to get that one foot out of the world. The wide road entangles them and they  carelessly proceed on.

Boxing is just one of Satan’s ploys. Today the youth are often trapped with the handhelds and the FB, tweets,YouTube, games, chat lines, etc. They spend most of their waking days slumped over wasting time with the multitude of electronic gadgets available to them. This is a serious idol , not only with the youth but adults as well! Don’t get me wrong the Lord has allowed this electronic explosion to further His message, and for that we are eternally grateful, but we should be careful that the worldly distractions do not infringe on the work.

“As a general thing, the young among us are allied to the world. But few maintain a special warfare against the internal foe, few have an earnest, anxious desire to know and do the will of God. But few hunger and thirst after righteousness, and few know anything of the Spirit of God as a reprover or comforter. Where are the missionaries? Where are the self-denying, self-sacrificing ones? Where are the cross bearers? Self and self-interest have swallowed up high and noble principles.

Things of eternal moment bear with no special weight upon the mind. God requires them individually to come up to the point to make an entire surrender. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” You cannot serve self and at the same time be servants of Christ. You must die to self, die to your love of pleasure, and learn to inquire: Will God be pleased with the objects for which I purpose to spend this means? Shall I glorify Him?” (Testimonies, vol. 2, p.127-128)

Let’s look around us at all times, watchful that Satan’s snares of worldly entrapment do not trip us up. Sure it’s a fleeting pleasure, but the looking back at sins we have forsaken may harm us for eternity.

“As Satan sees that his time is short, he leads men on to be more and more selfish and covetous, and then exults as he sees them wrapped up in themselves, close, penurious, and selfish. If the eyes of such could be opened, they would see Satan in hellish triumph, exulting over them and laughing at the folly of those who accept his suggestions and enter his snares.” (EW. p.268)

In these last days snares are all around us. We can only survive Satan’s traps if we cling to Jesus and keep our focus there. I would dare to say, it is better to be bored and stair at four walls than to enter one of his pleasure traps.

Let’s be clear, not all things are bad. For instance, watching TV for a insightful documentary, or some news, can be helpful. Recently the History channel had a series on the Shroud of Turin. Very fascinating. It’s just when we use the electronic device for our pleasure, beholding worldly fashions, foul language, worldly music (particularly drums, guitars, etc.), sit-coms, time wasting games, etc. In other words, time wasting is something we will be accountable , if we could have used that for studying, helping, spreading the message to help our brothers and sisters.
“..Satan’s supreme effort at this hour must be to cause the time to be wasted and the work undone.” (Answerer, vol. 1, p.6, Q-4)

In closing, as we have posted a few weeks back, the end time signs are all there, time is short. Let us not be found wasting time. Fleeting pleasures are not worth it. Eternity stands at our door.


 

Recovering from Backsliding

July 14, 2012

One of the most tragic and sad situations of our Christian walk, is that of –backsliding. A verse in Bible reminds me of this folly. “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Wikipedia describes backsliding as follows ” Backsliding, also know as falling away, is a term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to his pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin, when a person turns from God to pursue his own desire.”  Let’s look into this backsliding and how with God’s power we can recover from it.

Backsliding comes in basically three stages. 1) A temporary slip or fall. Meaning we make a spiritual mistake and fall into temptation but quickly realize our transgression and repent and turn from that sin(s). 2) We slip and fall often and repeatedly, off and on. Our walk is strong, then weak and we seem to have stages of success then just as sure stages of failure. 3)  We slip and stay fallen for extended periods.

The last stage (3) is most dire spiritually. We won’t dwell much on that,  as it really is a situation where one has made no real commitment and repeated prayer and fasting is a must!

As we are well aware, only those who “overcome” will be allowed to sit on the throne with our Lord in heaven(Rev. 3:21) That means that while we will have occasional slips and falls, we must in fact overcome them. Our cherished sins are to be no more.But what do we do when we slip and fall? Let’s look at the 2nd case scenario.

The 2nd case people are most likely to be the “grace abusers”. Definitely these would include the outlandish believing  “once saved always saved” crowd.  Grace abuse is described in (Romans 6:1) “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”  Those who repeatedly fall often think that grace will cover them, in effect they do not claim the Lord’s power to help them overcome sin.

I have often heard and read where people use the standard worn out line “Oh, we’ll never stop sinning and the Lord accepts us anyway.” If that’s the case why did He say –we must overcome? The ones who claim that their weaknesses are incurable, will never be able to say that they –overcame. So we see that those we repeatedly slip and fall, are in need of serious alignment of their spiritual values. Let us never forget the equally used quote, but this one is spot on– The Lord saves us from our sins, not in our sins.

Our prophetess made a clear statement in regards to overcoming. “Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life” (Christ’s object lessons, p.331).

These people need to “hit the books”,  start a serious undertaking in studying the Scriptures, Ellen White, and our last prophet–Victor Houteff. They need to receive the Spirit of Truth. As the parable teaches, they must be planted in “good ground” (ie. inspired truth) instead of walking halfway in their walk with the Lord. As we have learned from prior studies, our Lord will begin judgment for the living in his church soon(before the plaques come), we can’t afford to be found partly converted.

Let us now look at the most spiritually  “healthy” case,  the 1st case scenario. In ( 1 John 1:8) we read ” If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Our walk will never be perfect until our Lord comes and transforms us. For those of us who will remain alive in the very near future, we will see our Lord’s promise.  “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” (Ezekiel 36:24-25)

The implication from our Lord’s above words is that , though we think we are clean, we are not fully. It will only be once we arrive back in God’s kingdom, the holy land in Israel, that we will be made fully clean in God’s sight. For those of you who have missed the posts on the future kingdom to be set up, see “Thy Kingdom Come, part 1 and 2.

Please do not mis-interpret the Lord’s words above. When we are to be fully clean, that means we will be cleansed from sins we have even though we are not fully aware of them. We shouldn’t say ” I can have some idols and do a few sins here and there, because the Lord understands and will clean them in the future”. No, it does not mean that. This would be a contemptible attitude and calls upon our Lord to ever expand His grace. Again,  (Romans 6:1) applies.

The occasional slip or fall (into sin) must not degenerate into a often slip or fall. Our Lord made that clear in (John 5:14). “… See, you are well again, stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  The falls can become so frequent that things begin to unravel. The devils then influence us so thoroughly that we backslide into case number 3.

Speaking of the devil, let’s discuss his active role in backsliding. As we’ve mentioned in our post under God’s light, we showed that the ones who are actively walking daily in His Commandments and truth shine the brightest. As the Angels and devils see this, some are noticed more than others. The devils focus primarily on the bright shining ones, as these are the ones they despise and want to corrupt.

So it stands to reason that the cleaner and straighter your walk with the Lord, the more and harder will be the temptations. But this can be met fully with the Lord’s power. That is key.

Ellen White, in describing the “shaking”  of our church describes the devils and their dark influence on those staying true to the Lord. “I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle…Evil angels crowded around, pressing darkness upon them to shut Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and thus they be led to distrust God and murmur against Him.”(Early Writings, page 269)

In these very last days, the devils, at Satan’s command, want nothing more than to make those who are converted to backslide, the more the better is their goal. Recently I slipped and fell. I reverted back to an old cherished sin. I did it and quickly realized my mistake. I felt real bad. I knew better yet I submitted to stumbling.

But the next day, after coming clean and repenting of my sin, our merciful Lord gave me a vision. In it I saw myself laying on the ground looking up to the Lord who was standing above me. His arm was stretched out, to grasp my hand and raise me back up. It brought tears and I was so moved by this vision. Our Lord was letting me know, He forgave me.

This is the kind of merciful Lord we serve. A King who understands that the devils have put many stumbling rocks in our path and we may slip and fall occasionally. Our walk is precious to Him and He wants us to “overcome”. Are we going to get right back up after stumbling and steer away from that crooked path? Yes, we must.

In closing,  let us realize our dear Lord’s words when we stumble “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyones sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1-2)


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