Archive for the ‘Idol worship’ Category

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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Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

October 8, 2016

flattery

We are all aware of the fact that in our human relationships, we can sometimes use flattery as a way of showing our love and affection. We all can remember being flattered and how good it felt, our carnal nature uplifted. But in God’s word we find a very cautious warning concerning the use of flattery.

This week we were guided to read the following Inspiration —

“I lift my voice of warning against praising or flattering the ministers. I have seen the evil, the dreadful evil, of this. Never, never speak a word in praise of ministers to their faces. Exalt God. Ever respect a faithful minister, realize his burdens and lighten them if you can; but do not flatter him, for Satan stands ready at his watchtower to do that kind of work himself.” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p.475)

Take notice of the “Never, never…” part. Rarely in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy has It been so emphatic as this. This shows the Lord’s prophetess getting down to business and forcefully making an important point. There is no doubt that some of us are guilty of this mis-application of praise and flatter.

I can remember saying on a few occasions , to a pastor or even fellow brother or sister who has made a Bible study report or the like–“Wow, that was great, you really did a good job” or the like. This, as shown from Inspiration is a big-no no.

Now to be clear, there is certainly a time and place for this, for example our spouses. We know that for us husbands, our wives like to told they look nice , are smart, etc. (and vice versa). For a Biblical example of the man-woman praise and flatter read “Song of Solomon.” But this family situation is much different in our relations to those in the faith.

Let us examine this snare of Satan and how we can go about complimenting one another yet staying within the above counsel.

There is not only the clear counsel above, but also a warning to the everyday use of  flatter in our worldly relations–
“A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.”(Proverbs 29:5)

“Let me now be partial to no one, nor flatter any man. “For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away. ” (Job 32:21-22)

“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

But how do we handle this dilemma? How can we be verbally supportive of a brother or sister,  maybe even a pastor or elder?

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some are ; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”(Hebrews 10:25)

The word “exhorting” means to “strongly encourage” and to urge someone to do something. Let’s say you have read a report a brother has made. He has prepared something about Daniel 2, the vision of the stone (144,000) striking the world’s kingdoms. You want to let him know you were blessed by it.

How do we say something “strongly encouraging” yet not flattering? Below are some examples for your consideration.

“Brother, I want to thank you for the report. This Truth, was such a blessing.”

“Praise the Lord! The report opened my eyes to some prophecies I was not aware.”

“These reports are encouraging, may the Lord be praised and the people enlightened.”

Now let’s contrast this to a sinful flattering encouragement.

“Brother your report was great. You are really speaking the truth.”

“Wow, the report you did truly is fantastic and you are truly gifted.”

I am amazed at your written report! I am blessed because of you.”

Notice the stark differences. The top compliments aim to give the credit to the Lord and “His” Truth. Just as SOP counselled–“Exalt God.” The bottom compliments aim to center the praise on the person doing the report not on God.

The Scripture says–

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The “Truth” is Jesus and belongs to Jesus. We must remember that our work is simply spreading “His” truth. Therefore we should not take any credit for teaching, spreading and communicating His truths.

Someday the Lord will reveal the rewards to the rightful due parties. But now is not our time to collect any praise or flatter. The Lord Himself shall bestow that upon His faithful servants.

“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:23)

 

 

Insidious Idols

June 2, 2012

As the title of this post says, many of our idols today are so sneaky, that we are not even aware that they are indeed  —  idols. In this way they are insidious, just as the adversaries would have it. Let us look more deeply into this real trap. I dare say that today this is the biggest trap for us Christians, our biggest stumbling block to walking upright with our Lord.

Idolatry has been a big problem since the beginning of God’s people. In Ezekiel we read ” Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it (Ezekiel 36:17-18).

Many think of the term “Idol worship” as some old fashion form of actually bowing down to false gods and such. In reality it is completely different, especially in today’s world. In (Rev.22:14-15) we read the following  ” Blessed are those who do His Commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”

We see from the above that keeping the “Commandments” requires that we not be idolaters. Most of us know that having  promiscuous sex, practicing lying, murder, and practicing sorcery are clear cut and flat out wrong before the Lord. But that sneaky one- idolatry,  can stumble us in ways that we ourselves can be caught unaware. Idols can blind us so well, we are in many case not even aware of it!

As many of you who follow this blog are aware, the Lord is about to select His 144,000 servants to proclaim the final Loud Cry. The real difference , I believe,  is that His true servants realize perfectly the whole idol trap and keep themselves free from it. For they have made an effort to free themselves of his ( the devil’s) snares.

Let’s look at one of the most obvious idol traps — television.  Do you watch worldly television daily or several times each week day? Do you come home from work and mindlessly turn on the TV and watch for  hours every night?  If your answer is yes, then you have likely been snared by the TV idol trap.

Here’s a good way to know if something is an idol to you. How much time do you spend weekly in the Lord’s work? Study, sharing the Lord with friends or family, prayer, reading His holy word? Ok, if TV or anything else takes up more of your time than the Lord’s work, you have a more enjoyable god you serve. “For where your treasures lie, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Make no mistake,  our idol worship  is noticed by our Lord.

In my own life, TV was one of the last idols to leave. Growing up  as a typical TV and music idol worshiper(sports, entertainment shows, car radio on every day, etc.), I just couldn’t see it as “bad”.  “The Lord doesn’t really care if I practice TV watching or listen to worldly music, as long as I read the Bible now and then and show up for Sabbath services, I’ll be fine” was my deluded thinking.

 But you know what? If someone would have said  that I was a TV or music  idol worshiper, I would have said “yeah right, get real”. It was only until I started putting my time into the Lord’s work and forsaking worldly desires, by sincerely wanting to do the Lord’s will, that I could then see clearly that yes it was an idol!

Does this mean we should never watch  television? No, not necessarily. Certainly we can get  some good from TV. Inspirational, educating, news and such can be good. But as we pointed out, once it starts to fill a gap in your life that should be towards the Lord’s work, you’ve shown Him where your desires really are. With time being so short and His workers being in short supply, we cannot have any excuses.

One of the most important prayers we should do frequently, is to ask the Lord to help show us where we are wrong in  our walk.  I continue to do this, even though I have tossed much sin out of my life. We need to continue to look to Him for help and guidance.

Once you pray this prayer and do it will all your heart, He will be faithful to show you. You’ll start to feel more and more guilt on something that you are doing that is dis-pleasing to Him.

Think about it, with so many now in His church, about 16 million, how is it that He can only use 144,000 as His servants when the gospel message swells into a Loud Cry? I truly believe much of the blame can be traced to idol involvement. “Only those who have withstood and overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming this message when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry” (Review and Herald , Nov. 19, 1908).  If we don’t overcome our idols now, we shall not be around to partake of the Loud Cry message– straight and solemn indeed! Our Lord is not playing around my friends.

Again EGW points out how  serious the worldly treasures (idols) are to many. “I asked the angel why so few were interested in their eternal welfare, so few preparing for their last change. Said he ‘ Earth attracts them, it’s treasures seem of worth to them.’  They find enough to engross the mind, and have no time to prepare for heaven…such will have no excuse” (Test. for the Church, vol. 1,p.132)

Our Lord said we must be born again, and that means all things become new. When we make the effort to convert and live as He would have us, then we see clearly each and every stumbling block.

There can be other idols of course, such as music, hobbies, or even your job. Obsessing about making more money and attending to business too much can clearly snag us. Let me give another example of an  idol today that has come into people’s lives–the computer.

This snag certainly is insidious to God’s people today. Chatting away for hours on worldly matters, gossiping,  playing games, searching worldly desires and such on the computer has taken so much of our time each and every week, it has established itself as nearly as bad an idol as TV is.   Of course if we are on it  much of the time doing the Lord’s work, then it can serve His purpose. Paul says in first Corinthians ” All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor.6:12)  We do anything (apart from the Lord’s work) too much we can become enslaved.

One point that shows that our Lord doesn’t leave one thing untouched. Guess how many times the word “idol” is used in the whole Bible? 666 –according to this source- Answers.com* (-Note-  this number appears contradicted by other sources, but it’s safe to say it’s in the hundreds of times, indicating it’s supreme importance to us.)

In closing, our Lord said “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be His God and he shall be My son” (Rev. 21:7) One of the greatest obstacles we must over come is that one snare that can sneak up upon us  — the  insidious idols.


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