Archive for the ‘Humility’ Category

The Depth of God’s Love

January 3, 2015

Satan before fall

We as finite human beings can image just  a sliver of the depth of God’s love. But when we take the time to dwell on it, we find it really baffles our mind. Let us look into this subject and hopefully gain another small sliver of its depth.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9, we read, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Our minds cannot truly envision the great things to come for those counted worthy to partake in eternity. We know that the streets shall be made up of gold, maybe similar as the below picture.

“And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”(Rev.21:21)

Gold street

In dwelling on this subject this week, I was guided to the subject of Satan. Why would Satan be connected to God’s great love? Let us look at this connection.

Ezekiel describes Satan’s beauty, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 

You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.

You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:13-15)

We see that God spared nothing in creating a most beautiful exalted creature. Satan was endowed with not only beauty but exceeding wisdom.

Ellen White describes more on Satan, “Lucifer in heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God’s dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels..” (The Story of Redemption, p.13)

So what connection is there? I believe the depth of God’s love is this– God made a being so beautiful, so powerful, so intelligent, that God was putting Himself on the line! By that I mean, He took a daring chance that He created a being  too beautiful, too powerful, too intelligent. God’s love went out on a  limb, because He envisioned a being that the heavenly host could admire and love as well. The generosity of His love truly was a marvel.

But, as well all know, God’s hope and dream was  not to be. Yet, what does this show us? That His love is truly deep and generous. Being God , He imparted those majestic qualities in Satan, along with Satan’s potentially dangerous freedom to exalt himself, which unfortunately he did.

In explaining what love truly is, apostle John, gives the straight answer, ” Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.(1 John 4:7-8)

So we see that  one of the greatest ingredients of God’s love is to make beings that have free choice, free will. But included in this great ingredient is God’s divine rules and regulations, in other words–structure.

Some of us remember the hippie days of the 60’s. The popular phrase was “Free Love”. They had these bumper stickers on the back of their vehicles, often the popular Volkswagen bus.But we remember that often their free love turned out to be disease, fighting, murder and general destruction in many cases.

One of the great misnomer  and false ideas is that of–unconditional love. There has never been nor never will be what is called unconditional love. All thinking and speaking beings are made to love, yet they always come with conditions. God for example cannot love in such a way to create a being that could destroy Him. Nor can He create a being and forever accept them, if they reject Him. He extends His love but His righteousness cannot disappear for the sake of “love”.

God has His supreme Law of the universe, called the 10 Commandments. One of His greatest acts of love for us, His human beings, is showing His great Law through His Son, our Lord, King and Savior–Jesus Christ.

Our King has clearly described in one place within the whole Bible that shows how we are to show we “love” Him.

“If you love Me, keep My Commandments.”(John 14:15)

Our prophetess speaks about His great love as our “first step”–

“The very first step in approaching God is to know and believe the love that He has for us; for it is through the drawing of His love that we are led to come to Him.” (M.B. p.155, 156)

When we really take the time to dwell upon how great and deep is His love, we cannot  help but come to the conclusion that we are so blessed, as to be awe-struck at who our God really is.

When we draw close to Him we start to envision more about Him. For instance I have found myself in tears just thinking about His long-suffering and patience, He has had for my worldly sinful ways. Decades of them!

In closing, as Human beings, we cannot fathom the depth of God’s love but we can use our finite minds to try to put together some pieces of its depth. Our most important duty right now is–obedience. In His great and merciful love He has sent His last message of hope and instruction. After this message reaches His beloved church within His allotted time, He can do no more.

Let us learn from Satan’s mistake. We can become obedient to His word as said through His Elijah prophet, if we humble ourselves. Satan’s downfall was his pride. God’s deep love reached out to him, but he would not. Will we submit and believe and obey His last message to us?

“.. Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:13)

Correction

September 6, 2014

corrections key

As we read the Scriptures we come to a sad fact, over and over again. God’s people have continually had one fatal flaw– unwilling to be corrected. This alone seems to be the very thing that erects a barrier that so many times, we as “Christians” fail to break down. Pride and stubbornness rears its ugly head and  keeps us “stuck” instead of going forward in our walk.

In Jeremiah  5:3 we read, “O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” (Jeremiah 5:3)

We remember the days of the Exodus movement, the Lord continually had to correct their ways and behavior, yet they soon abandoned His corrective instructions. It is no different today. We as a people are even more stiff-necked than they were.

As God’s Elijah messengers, our duty is often to  be our “brother’s keeper”. We should really care about our fellow believer and be faithful in dis-charging our duty of support and even warnings and rebukes, if necessary.

If we fail to warn our brethren we fall under the words as spoken by Ezekiel “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”(Ezek. 3:18-19)

We see here a two-fold promise. Give correction and spare your life, ignore your brethren and lose your life. We must be un-selfish and not have the attitude of “I’m going to heaven, I don’t know about you”.

One of God’s greatest correctors was Elijah the prophet.

“The benefits which God gave to this people called forth from them no gratitude to the Giver. All the bounties of heaven,–the running brooks, the streams of living waters, the gentle dew, the showers of rain which refreshed the earth and caused their fields to bring forth abundantly,–these they ascribed to the favor of their gods.

Elijah’s faithful soul was grieved. His indignation was aroused, and he was jealous for the glory of God. He saw that Israel was plunged into fearful apostasy. And when he called to mind the great things that God had wrought for them, he was overwhelmed with grief and amazement.

But all this was forgotten by the majority of the people. He went before the Lord, and, with his soul wrung with anguish, pleaded for Him to save His people if it must be by judgments. He pleaded with God to withhold from His ungrateful people dew and rain, the treasures of heaven, that apostate Israel might look in vain to their gods, their idols of gold, wood, and stone, the sun, moon, and stars, to water and enrich the earth, and cause it to bring forth plentifully. 

 The Lord told Elijah that He had heard his prayer and would withhold dew and rain from His people until they should turn unto Him with repentance.” (Testimonies, vol. 3, p.263) 

How great was this man’s love for his people! Sadly, the correction given, even coupled with great signs from the Lord, would not be long accepted.

Eternal life is so mind-boggling that we should do all we can to learn His word and that includes His instruction to correct and be corrected.

Refusing correction can be shown by either combative or polite refusal, silent ignoring, or empty promises of reform. All of them give the same results –a failure to turn around and walk uprightly before the Lord.

But as we study Scripture, the lessons are many of how we can allow ourselves to be corrected and it’s a key that unlocks a whole new purpose and desire to serve the Lord.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

As we let go of our pride, it’s much easier to listen to corrective instruction.

In the story of king David and being corrected by the prophet Nathan, we read from Spirit of Prophecy  —

“The prophet Nathan’s parable of the ewe lamb, given to King David, may be studied by all. The light was flashed sharply upon the king, while he was in utter darkness as to what was thought of his actions in regard to Uriah. While he was following his course of self-indulgence and commandment breaking, the parable of a rich man who took from a poor man his one ewe lamb, was presented before him.

But the king was so completely wrapped in his garments of sin, that he did not see that he was the sinner. He fell into the trap, and with great indignation, he passed his sentence upon another man, as he supposed, condemning him to death. When the application was made, and the facts brought home to him, when Nathan said, Thou art the man; unknowingly thou hast condemned thyself, David was overwhelmed. He had not one word to say in defence of his course of action. (2BC 1023.2)

This experience was most painful to David, but it was most beneficial. But for the mirror which Nathan held up before him, in which he so clearly recognized his own likeness, he would have gone on unconvicted of his heinous sin, and would have been ruined. The conviction of his guilt was the saving of his soul. He saw himself in another light, as the Lord saw him, and as long as he lived he repented of his sin.” (Letter 57, 1897).(2BC 1023.3)

What a great story and lesson! The mighty king David was thoroughly corrected and he accepted it deeply. As we see “as long as he lived repented of his sin.”

Spirit of Prophecy comments on our subject, “I have been shown that the greatest reason why the people of God are now found in this state of spiritual blindness is that they will not receive correction. Many have despised the reproofs and warnings given them.( Testimonies, vol. 3, p.255)

Are we willing to stand corrected? Or does our pride hinder us? Is it not worth our eternal salvation to admit our wrongs, whatever they may be? Eternity, wow, is this not worth fighting for? Is this not worth our every effort to “know the worst of our case”?

“Determine to know the worst of your case. Ascertain if you have an inheritance on high. Deal truly with your own soul.” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p.163)

True Repentance

June 15, 2013

repentance

As we profess to be a follower of Christ, we must make sure to get the simple basics cleared in our life. For what man goes to build a foundation on sand? Just as our Lord said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 7:24).  So it’s clear that we must lay the foundation upon solid “rock”. And one of the most basic solid aspects of our walk with the Lord is –repentance. Let us look at this most important spiritual  foundation, one of the pillars of our faith.

Before Christ’s first advent, John the Baptist was called to prepare the way as we know. And the primary command he issued was to–repent. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:1-2). He was letting the people know that the first step to coming clean before the Lord was to repent. It’s akin to the following analogy. Who, when they want to rebuild something (ie. their life) doesn’t start out first by cleaning up and clearing away? Repenting is the same thing spiritually.

Why is repenting so important and many times overlooked in our Christian walk today? We know that our Lord gave us specific instructions in His words to His last church (Rev. 3:19). Last week we spoke of “zealousness” but the next word He commanded was–repent. Why would He say it if we aren’t in need of it? Obviously He knew that we as Laodiceans would need this serious instruction.

So it is clear we must search ourselves closely to find if we have held on to an act or deed we haven’t come clean  to the Lord about.

Allow me to give some personal examples. A few years back, after I had become a serious follower of Christ, the Lord started to give me flashbacks of things I had done that were in  my past. Maybe I’d be driving and all of a sudden I’d remember something I did that wasn’t right before the Lord. For example, I remembered I had hired a man to do some remodel work for a property I was renovating. Long story short, I had run into some financial difficulty and told him I would have to pay him later. Later, I moved out of town and basically reneged on my pledge.

But as I was driving my heart soared as I immediately knew that the Lord had told me to get it right! Very soon after this, I found the man (thank God he had kept his number after 7 or 8 years). He was very happy to hear I would be sending him his money. In (Ezekiel 33:15) we read, “If the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statues of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”

The Lord calls us what we are when we steal–wicked. I had stolen his labor and practiced unrighteousness. But upon learning what I had to do, it was up to me to repent and then act. You see, repentance is much more than just words. Many times our words are only part of the true repentance. Our deeds fulfill the repentance.

Another time I recalled, was when I had hired a tree cutter. He had cut down the majority of the tree, yet he didn’t remove “all” of the stump as he said he would. It was too deep and he couldn’t do it he said. So, being the unrighteous man I was,  I figured I didn’t owe him anything because he didn’t finish the job. So he said he understood and left. But upon reflection in my new Christ centered  life,  I came to my senses and realized he did the best he could and did take down about 80% of it, so it was right to pay him something for what he did do. He was thrilled and even invited me into his home to sit and chat when I showed up to pay him.

So once we become serious in our walk, we must reflect upon things we have done and if it’s in our power to right them we should. This really constitutes true repentance. Some things may be out of our control. For example we may have lost touch with someone. The Lord knows what is doable and what is not. But again, if we start thinking “Oh the Lord will forgive me he knows I made a mistake.” And we presumptuously think we have His grace ,  yet we don’t make any effort to right it, we may seriously be considered neglecting to “restore the pledge”.

One of the most applicable quotes (and favorite of mine) from our prophetess is– 

“But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected.

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. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.(Christ Object Lessons, p.331).

One of those serious defects of character would be the refusal or neglect, to repent after we  “criticize ourselves closely”. As we mentioned earlier, our Christian walk must be a  renewed walk, with a rebuilding and removing of past wrongs, a repentance of wrong doing. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”(John 3:3).

Our new life of being ‘born again” certainly cannot exclude repentance. As we confess our sins and repent, we feel that special closeness to Him. This is one of the surest ways to “draw close to Him”. In (James 4:8) we read, “Draw close to Him , and He will draw close to you.”

I believe one of the most common errors we make as professed Christians is the error of presumptiousness. Many feel they areforgiven” without out even repenting. It’s kind of  like someone striking you then looking at you and saying, “I know you forgive me, thank you”. What?  The cart is before the horse. But if we come clean to the Lord and if need be, to those we have wronged, we can claim His faithful promise. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:19).

Is not that what the Pharisees tried to do in approaching John the Baptist? Their presumptioness was called out by John. They felt their wrongs were acceptable and no big deal, therefore they were not in need of repentance. If  we sin we have the Great Forgiver, but can He forgive without our sincere remorse and repentance? 

The reward of repentance is that we  have a “clear conscience”. “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Tim. 1:19)

You see brethren, even if we have all the knowledge of the prophecies, but don’t possess the simple important basics of the Christian walk, we deceive ourselves. Sanctification always begins on the first step–love and repentance.

Now how great is it before the Lord, if he sees us walking in obedience of the basics yet having a good clear understanding of the prophecies! Wow, now that appears the utmost Christian experience.

Last week something happened that was the motivating factor in making this week’s post.

I had been involved in some studies with a certain brother. We had several studies together, each Sabbath evening (Friday night). The studies were quite rewarding. But the last of the studies, we had a dispute of our beliefs. Things got a little testy. Emails followed and we shared why we thought the other was mistaken. He then made the statement which basically said that I was lost and needed to be born again.

I emailed him back and said that he was making a serious mistake in “mounting the judgment seat”. No one  has the right to declare someone lost and only our Lord is given that judgment to declare.

Then about  a week later, he called me. After small chit-chat he said, “You know brother, I’ve been thinking and I want to apologize for being rash and saying some things that were wrong.”  I was very, very impressed. Why? Because we just don’t hear this kind of humbleness and straightness from many of our brothers and sisters in the faith. I told him with a warm heart, that what he was doing was, “great before the Lord”. We left our conversation both feeling the Lord’s strength.

In closing, let us often remember that our Lord is “Mighty to save”(Zeph. 3:17) but we must do our part and build a solid foundation. And one of the most important requirements of us as “Christians”, is to be willing, able  and ready  to — repent. May the Lord be your strength!

 
 

 

 

Blinded By The Light

March 30, 2013

001-elijah-fed-by-ravens

Some of us may remember the 1976  top charting music song called ‘Blinded by the light” by a group called Manfred Mann. As I waited for the Lord to guide me in what to write this week, that title occurred to me. I knew it would be the perfect title for the message this week. What we’ll look at is the situations where some professed followers of Christ who have received great knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, even the Elijah message, yet have been “blinded by the light”. The light of the last present truth, the Elijah message, in particular,  can be a two-edged sword. We must be SO CAREFUL in remaining humble because as we’ll see the devils have a sneaky game plan for the ” light bearers”.

As we have learned, there is only one message that shakes Satan and the devils to the core now, it’s today’s Elijah message of warning to God’s remnant people. The message is sent to us to reform our lives, to stop the abominations going on in our own lives and the church and it sigh and cry about them. And as soon as the elect of God truly convert, then this  “small portion” as Ellen White said in (Test. to the Church, p.608-609) accept the warning and then it is that the final time clock starts and the 144,000 are sealed and the game changes. The power is upon the people of God and the great Loud Cry begins.

But what about sneaky attacks from the evil ones today? What is one of their most successful avenues to bring those who profess His last end time message, into a trap and snare? It is old tried and true–Pharisee plan! Allow me to explain.

We remember when our Lord walked this earth His number one enemy was those who had the greatest knowledge of the Scriptures and therefore were the ones who actively taught and promoted “their” understandings of God’s word and plans. As we know our Lord rebuked them time and again .

In (Matt.23:23) we read, “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Imagine an individual that would be  measuring the exact distance you could walk to come to the Temple on the Sabbath. The Pharisees did this, and many other restrictive measures because they perceived God as a merciless overbearing toe the line dictator. They had indeed lost tract of their whole purpose in serving Him.

As our Lord said, instead of being full of justice, mercy and faithfulness, they were full of selfishness, ambition and greed. So the evil ones became well aware that the people who became zealous to teach, the ones who actively promoted God’s word, were the prime candidates to influence to become focused on their “knowledge” instead of their walk. Oh, my brothers and sisters how successful this can become if we are not careful!  The greater the light given and understood the closer we must watch that the spirit of Pharisaism doesn’t overtake us and therefore blind us!

Brother Houteff saw this among some of those who professed the Elijah message. He explains ““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)

The above is very telling! Brother Houteff shows that some will cherish their knowledge and forsake the more important matters. Is this not what the Pharisees were known for?

  In Vol. 4   Symbolic News Code   Nos. 1-3. page 6. He said this, “Do not insist upon any one’s measuring up to your opinion of yourself; make not your business that of  finding fault with others, nor of advertising their sins; expect no one to confess to you any sins other than those committed against you personally; and never from any man demand an apology or confession.”

I bring those above quotes up because I’ve recently noticed that the evil ones have hoodwinked some of the true light bearers, the Davidians, the ones who are active in professing the Elijah message, into arguing over non-salvational issues.

Ellen White’s words ring powerfully upon those who become active in criticizing, “I shall tell the truth as God gives it to me, and I say now, If you continue to find fault, to have a spirit of variance, you will never know the truth.”(Testimonies to Ministers, p.476).

Just like the Pharisees, some have put their knowledge ahead of their heart. In other words, they have lost sight of the “old paths”. The Prophet Jeremiah said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”(Jer.6:16).

As I was driving this week I sensed a message from the Lord, it was  — The message should be taught in love. Meaning that although this message (the Elijah message aka the Shepherd’s Rod message) is solemn and straight, it needs to be spoken with compassion. We must humbly proclaim it. The Pharisee aloofness and pride cannot be allowed to be a part of our character.

I hate to say it but there are more than a few  light bearers (Davidians) who have been snared by a lack of love and compassion. Their knowledge has warped them. In fact we read in (Isaiah 47;10) this thought, “Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, I am, and there is no one else besides me.” (Isaiah 47:10).

So again we go back to the snares that the evil ones put up. One of the best, tried and true one, from since way back, is the inflated view of oneself. No longer do the self proud, all knowing ones have to promptly return emails, initiate correspondence with brothers and sisters, return phone calls, etc. The devils say , “you got the goods, let everyone come to you, no need to reach out.” Instead of being a servant they desire to be served. The Lord’s warning in Rev. 3:17 ” have become wealthy and have need of nothing” is even more true among some Davidians than SDA’s.

Peter also gives good counsel. In speaking of  faith, knowledge, self-control, perserverance, brotherly kindness, love,  he then says, “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)

Let’s not kid anyone. Just because we know a vast amount of present truth does not guarantee we’re saved. As Paul says, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”(1 Cor.13:2)

And our last quote from our beloved prophetess, “God will choose humble men, who are seeking to glorify His name and advance His cause rather than honor and advance themsleves.” (Test. for the Church, Vol.5, p.461)

In closing, let us remember to be humble in our walk, never forgeting the “old paths” . Yes, we need knowledge and advancing truth which is in His Elijah message, but this comes WITH our basics such as love, compassion, servitude, and such.  If we ignore the basics, the devils stand ready to  —  blind us with the light.

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”  http://www.shepherds-rod.org/Tracts/trac010.html, 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.

Christian Love (Gal. 6:10)

May 26, 2012

In (Gal.6:10) we read  “Therefore, whenever we have opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to those in the household of faith”.  Here we see two directives. One, do well to those outside the faith, secondly, do well especially to those among our household (church) of faith.” With this short paragraph of inspired words, we can gain volumes in instructions of  righteousness (right doing).

Within the last couple of weeks the Lord brought me two examples  on the first part of the above. I mention these not to infer you must do them, only as examples of the doing good to our people outside the faith.

In both instances they occurred at gas stations. The first, I pulled in  to get gas, I noticed this  long haired skinny unkept man looking through the trash can. Also immediately I felt the urge . “Invite this man into the Arco and buy him lunch” I thought. So I said “hey brother, follow me into the store, I’ll buy you lunch.” He looked at me with a surprised look, but quickly came along. I said upon entering  “go over there and get a sandwich and what ever else you want.”

So we checked out and he gave me a big “thank you”. I said “God be with you bro.”  No preaching, no words of advice, the actions had spoken instead. Just maybe this act will be remembered and the Lord will start to work on His heart in some way.

The second happened when I pulled up, again to an Arco. I get out and this man about 30 comes up and points to his truck with his wife and kid inside. “Hey bro, could I bum a few dollars from you, we need to go to Ontario and we’re out of money.”  I didn’t have any cash on hand and so I said “No, I don’t have cash”. And proceeded to walk in to the store  to purchase gas with my debit card. As I was in there, it occurred to me –how would I feel in that position stranded with my family? So after getting the gas, I walked out and yelled over to him “what pump you on?”  He told me and I went back in and purchased 25.00 gas for him. He was profusely thankful and I felt the Lord’s will had been done.

Did I have “opportunity” to do good to my brethren in the above examples? Yes, of course. Our Lord very well may have placed those in my path, knowing I had the means to help, to see my actions.

I have Steps to Christ books in the back of my truck, and when the opportunity arises I hand out to certain people. Yet, in both of these instances I felt the kind acts were sufficient to touch them and possibly lead them to think of “brotherly love” and thereby to their Maker. The old saying “action speaks louder than words” can be so true in many instances. “..Be ye doers of the word..” (James 1:22)

Christian love clearly is shown in our actions.  Our Lord said the following “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another ” (John 13:35). We should  remember the simple things of our Christian walk. The basics can sometimes be overlooked, as if we don’t need them. The common courtesies, the prompt return calls, emails, etc. can be very good habits showing our love and kindness.  We can become careless and neglect the plain simple truths and acts of love.

Can we imagine someone in the Lord’s circle asking Him a sincere question and the Lord just looking at Him then walking away? Our Lord  is our example in all things right? Look at His courtesy, He even wrapped and folded His own burial clothe upon His resurrection!

How important is love?  Perhaps no where in all of scripture can we find just how important it is as in these words  “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

The second part of (Gal.6:10) has much more ramifications. Our own brothers and sisters in the faith are the ones we especially do good to.

Recently I had a talk with a dear brother who has done some real solid works for the Lord for many years. He was upbeat despite the fact that he was sincerely struggling on the financial front. But I thought “how is it that none of the brothers and sisters knew about this, or if they did, how did they turn their backs?”  We all can face tough times but it is at those times when we as true  brothers and sisters should step up to the plate and do something if it is within our power.

We should  look out for our own,as our brother’s and sister’s keeper.  It can be like the old saying “too close to the forest to see the trees”. Again, it’s the basics of Christ’s love that we can sometimes overlook.

 Let’s look at some specific ways we can do good to our brethren.

1) When a brother or sister asks us a question or drops a line to say hello(via email, or voice message, or whatever)  we make a good effort to get back to them in a reasonable time. Again, our Lord said  “Do unto others whatever you would like them to do unto you”(Matt. 7:12)  If you want to be ignored, then  –ignore.  But we shouldn’t be a hypocrite and expect answers or responses  when we don’t give them.

2) Check in now and then with your brothers and sisters of the faith. We shouldn’t expect them to come to us always. Our own members of the faith are the ones who have at least made the profession of Christ, so we should hold them up in our remembrance  and reach out when possible.

3) If we know their profession, and we have a need of that service, let’s use them for it,as opposed to calling someone outside our faith. I sure wish our own churches would have a church directory showing the different occupations of the members.

4) Of utmost importance, let’s never forget that sharing of the word and bible study with our brethren is extremely important. Share the word when possible and learn together. We must have knowledge as we know our Lord said  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)  One of the most sad things to see, is when a bro or sis want’s to learn something from a fellow bro or sis in the faith, and they are ignored!  Oh what a true travesty! 

 The bible says “be angry and sin not”  (Eph 4:26) And this is describing me right now. I just can’t for the life of me, comprehend how someone would see that as acceptable to the Lord.  Our knowledge should be shared.  “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8)  Why should it be coveted by us? It’s like “I have my knowledge,  you go get your own, don’t bother me”. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I was ignoring  my brethren in the faith, who would inquire of me.

5)  As we are nearing the very last days. Our reach-outs to our brethren must be accelerated. As we have shown many times in this blog, our Lord pronounced that the Elijah message would be His last. Let’s get that out there to our people.

6) Be a “great” person to our brethren. What do I mean?  “But he that is greatest among you, will be your servant” (Matt.23:11)  We must have the mind set that we are to “serve” and not be aloof and have others serve us. Translated in practical advice, it means we look to help where we can.

7) Last and most importantly, we strive to show kindness and concern for our brethren in our correspondence. We show –Christian love.

May our ever seeing Lord guide you and keep you always, my beloved brethren(which always means sisters too).

Are you esteemed by God?

June 5, 2010

After searching the scriptures I discovered some qualifications for being “esteemed’ by God.  Can you imagine being highly thought of, by the creator of the universe? Wow!  It should send shivers up your spine! The amazing thing is that our great God DID give clues on what makes Him esteem us.

In (Isaiah 66:2) it reads “… This is the one I esteem, he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

What is interesting about the above verse, is that we see that humility is very important. What is being humble all about? Let’s look at it like this. Suppose I have a belief concerning God and a brother or sister tells me I’m wrong for such belief. How to I react? Do I say “oh, you are wrong!” Showing my exalted postition. Or do I say “ok, please show me in scripture my error, that I might see my mistake” My point being that I am humble and WILLING to learn. If I am shown, by reading the scripture, the error of my beliefs, do I then become “contrite”? Ofcourse I should. I am willing to summit to the truth of God’s word! This should also apply to those who I likewise show the truth, and error of their beliefs.

But how many times do we attempt to show God’s word in scripture, only to be ignored, or even rebuked? Can this be a real sign of humility before the Lord? Do they exalt their opinion above God’s word? Without humility it will be VERY hard for contriteness of spirit. My eyes and ears are ALWAYS open to learning, are yours?

Then we find another example of God showing His high esteem of someone. It is in (Daniel 9:4). Here Daniel begans his very long and contrite prayer. In the  beginning of his great prayer he says ” O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with ALL who love him and OBEY His Commandments. We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled, we have turned away from your Commandments and Laws.” As Daniel continued, the Angel Gabriel came in mid prayer and said ” Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for YOU ARE HIGLY ESTEEMED”

What can we learn for the above example of  Daniel? We can see he was humble and contrite, acknowledging his and his peoples sins.Then Daniel shows God just what He values greatly. It is the obeying of His Holy Commandments. After this righteous prayer God did not hesitate to let Daniel know he had spoken beautifully before the Lord! We can see that when we have an almost “trembling” fear and concern to obey His Commandments, we are looked on with high favor by our Lord.

To summarize, let us always strive to be humble. Ready to listen and learn, no matter how much we “think” we know. And if we are shown the REAL truth from scripture, let us not turn away.


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