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Please chose articles on the right. They are in order. The latest is always on the top.
It was a Tuesday night and it was arranged that we go to the movies and see ‘Noah’. Nothing wrong with that! Biblical movie? Can’t be any harm in going to see a ‘religious’ movie, can there? Never mind this statement… “Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theatre! Testimonies Vol 4, p.652
Or this one, “…and attending theatres, all of which have a tendency to evil…and are directly contrary to the teachings of Christ…” Testimonies Vol 1, p.490
What about this? “The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theatre or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come.” Messages to Young People p.398
Still not convinced? “…the frequenters of the theatre…put eternity out of their reckoning.” Testimonies Vol 6, p.406
Still not convinced? “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31
How about this statement… “(Satan) does not wish people to have a knowledge of their Maker, and he is well pleased if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the youth (and older ones) that God and heaven will be forgotten.” Messages to Young People p.213
My dear friends, please think and act upon these warnings, because your eternal life is at stake.
So what did I learn from disregarding the counsels and warnings, and attending a place God did not want me to be in? Well, to begin with, I learnt not to disobey him again. I learnt this too: “I saw that Satan is a vigilant foe intent upon his purpose of leading the youth to a course of action entirely contrary to that which God would approve.” Testimonies Vol 1, p.511
I could fill pages and pages with statements like these.
But let me tell you what I got out of the movie ‘Noah’. Noah’s name comes from two Hebrew words ‘Noach’, which means ‘rest,’ and ‘Nacham,’ which means ‘comfort’. I can assure you that the Noah portrayed in the film did not portray any of these attributes. I will not go into detail of the movie, as it would take too long, as there is so much error. Suffice to say that as I departed out of the theatre, I felt an overwhelming feeling that I had let God down. That is a terrible feeling. As I reflected on what I had just seen, I realised that if I was weak in my beliefs, they had just been weakened more; if I was in any doubt about the flood, I had more doubts; and if I was an atheist, I would be a stronger one now!
Our loving heavenly Father was portrayed as a vindictive, people-hating tyrant who took delight in punishing people. Noah was portrayed as a weak, mentally challenged, heartless being who constantly accused God of murdering millions of ‘innocent’ people. He also suggested that God hated humans and built the ark for the saving of the animals! Methuselah was a cave-dwelling spiritualist, whose whole aim in life was the foraging all day long for a ‘berry’ which he desired to eat. Sorry to have to tell you this, but according to the movie, there were only 6 people on board the ark, except when Tubal-Cain managed to break in to escape the flood. Not to mention the rock people built the ark. Who were the rock people? They were the fallen angels that God turned into rock people. So according to the film, fallen angels built Noah’s ark. These are just a few of the disgusting lies that Satan has produced to destroy the faith of people everywhere. “Be not deceived.” Think about the words Jesus spoke to His disciples when asked what would be the signs of his return. The warning Jesus gave them was “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4
We are living in the last seconds of this world’s history. Now is when we need to show our faith by obedience to God’s commands. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 Now you have been warned; stay away from the theatre, especially so-called ‘Christian movies.’ Don’t keep this to yourself; warn also others who might be deceived by any form of theatrical performances such as you can find, not only at the movies but also on the internet. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” says the Psalmist. Will you be at the movies when Jesus’ returns? You better not be! Oh, and another thing you might like to think about… what about the movie screen in your lounge room or bedroom at home? What’s the difference?
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
My young friends in Christ, think on these words: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” James 1:27
May God bless you in your decision making.
Br Trevor Holmes.
The box turtle, like others of it’s kind, lacks teeth. It’s jaws, though, are covered with a horny sheath equipped with a sharp cutting edge.
The turtle is one of the unclean creatures mentioned in Leviticus 11:29, which the Israelites were not to eat. The Moorish tortoise is common through Palestine, and it’s flesh is enjoyed by the ossifrage. In order to reach the flesh, these birds carry the tortoise high into the air and drop it to the ground until the shell shatters.
The Hebrew word for tortoise means “canopy”.
The average life expectancy of a turtle is about 40 years, but some have lived to be 138.
Although the meat of the box turtle might be eaten, it is not generally used for that purpose. Years ago, miners in need of food caught and ate these turtles. Many of them became sick. It is believed that the flesh of the reptiles may have become temporarily poisonous because of the turtle’s diet of poisonous toadstools. The turtle is very fond of the toadstools and their poison does not seem to affect it.
Growing up in the church, as a young child I would watch my parents stand up for the Lord’s Supper. Many times I and the other kids at the time, would watch in envy, as they were able to eat and drink, we couldn’t. On the hot days they had their feet washed to cool down, on cold days they used warm water to warm up, we didn’t. Not until we were a little older did we completely understand the true importance and sacredness of the Lord’s Supper.
During the years of growing up in the church, many times I thought ‘Yes, one day that will be me standing, partaking in the ordinance service’. As we mature and leave school behind, work and money becomes a main focus of our attention, our social circles change, time seems short as we run to and fro trying to achieve great things. Many times worship is forgotten, sleep seems too important.
Work opportunities drew me away from home to an environment that seemed exciting and new, which it was, but on the other hand it was pulling me backwards. Further and further away the thought of baptism went. Why would I tie myself down to rules and regulations – there are far more exciting things happening in the outside world.
Finally the time came when I had to make a decision. Anyone who knows me well enough would understand when I say that I can’t make up my mind to save myself. Decisions are the one of many things I just can not do. In the back of my mind there were always questions, concerns… what ifs. For instance:
Time and time again these thoughts would enter my mind. Over and over, what if? I didn’t want to let myself down, I didn’t want to let my parents down, but mostly I didn’t want to let the Lord down.
Finally the time came to make a stand, either I fall away completely or step up to the mark. To be baptised or not. Even after I decided to be baptised, I still had concerns and thoughts of what if, but the difference this time was direction. For once in a long time I had direction and a purpose. As I went through the studies with Bro. Peter L., Bro. Geoff M. and others, I started to have a clearer understanding and knowledge of the truth and our Heavenly Father. Yes there were tears along the way, times when I considered stopping, but I persevered – trust me it was worth it.
With one phone call, when all the studies were complete, the date was set for my baptism. Seeing that our little church group has few members, most of them were due to be away for the weekend but thankfully their plans were changed and most of my family and friends were able to witness this special day.
Yes, the water was cold, but as Bro. Peter assured me, once entering the watery grave, on my return from it I was filled with a warm glow and feeling that overwhelmed me. In that instance I had left my old life behind and had a new life ahead of me.
Right there on the banks of the little river, dripping wet, my “what ifs” melted away. My mind was clearer and I had a greater understanding of the little errors I had been making.
No longer do I wait to make a choice when it comes to a matter of faith. My little concerns about the future have left me. I have faith and trust in the Lord that He will direct me along whatever path I should take. My greatest feeling now is this – I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I don’t know who I will meet tomorrow. I don’t know where or what I will be doing in the future, but what I do now know is this – on the 25th October 2008 I took a stand for my faith. I put away concerns and made a decision. I don’t know what the future holds, but at least I have a direction, by laying my life in God’s hands to do with it what He will.
No longer does religion come across as rules and regulations, but instead it brings life and structure, purpose.
It is my prayer that more of the youth, adults, mothers, fathers, children etc. will take a stand for the Lord and profess their faith. Don’t put it off or delay such a wonderful feeling of fulfilment. Worry about tomorrow when it comes. Trust that the Lord will lead each one of us down our paths in this world of uncertainty.
When you are next asked about baptism, I pray that you will give it much thought and be standing at the next Lord’s Supper along with your family, friends and Brothers and Sisters in our Lord’s family, receiving energy and much needed fire to burn in our hearts.
Don’t be afraid of where the Lord sends you for “Wherever in His providence God has placed you, He will keep you. ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ Deuteronomy 33:25.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 258
“All that will come are to be brought into the fold. In their lives there is to take place a reformation that will constitute them members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. By hearing the message of truth, men and women are led to accept the Sabbath and to unite with the church by baptism. They are to bear God’s sign by observing the Sabbath of creation. They are to know for themselves that obedience to God’s commandments means eternal life.” Counsels on Health, p. 355-356
The reason I was baptized is because I wanted to follow Jesus. By the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ, I have known the power to overcome sin – especially those ‘pet’ sins. But just because I’m baptized, it doesn’t mean I don’t get tempted anymore. I just know that through the power of Jesus Christ, I am able to come off more than conqueror!
The Christian life has been a great blessing to me and I would say to all who are reading this – of course it has its ups and downs, but that’s life, and we can’t do much to fix that. “All trials that are received as educators will produce joy” God’s Amazing Grace p. 76
One of the methods I use to combat sin is memorized Scripture. It is especially effective on those besetting sins. One of the main scripture sections I use is Romans chapter 6 (the entire chapter). When I am tempted, I pray for victory, and then repeat the chapter to my self, naming the sin that I am being tempted with, and I always have the victory when I completely yield myself to God. Romans chapter 8 is also good to use in combating temptation.
Being baptized is a wonderful event, and so far, I have never regretted it. One thing that I often think about and which is a great source of comfort is the thought that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit pledge themselves to help us in our Christian walk, and that our names will be written in letters of gold in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I enjoyed studying the Bible with Br. Gerson because I found it interesting. My favourite subjects were of Jesus’ soon coming. While Satan often made it difficult to study by side-tracking my mind, I tried to remember to choose not to be side-tracked, and prayed to God to send the devil and his tricks away. It always worked, praise the Lord.
I would strongly recommend to any one who is thinking about studying for baptism to do so. It may look hard; we may have little ‘pet’ sins that we don’t want to deal with, but are ‘pet’ sins worth missing out on heaven, eternal life and happiness? I don’t think so! Don’t fear about being bombarded with temptations that are greater than you can bear, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear .” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Being baptised doesn’t mean that it is all rosy and happy afterwards. Because when you are baptised, you change from civilian clothing and are called to wear a soldier’s armour. That is when Satan will attack you the most. But if we claim the promises in the Bible and pray, we shall not fall, unless we choose purposefully to do it, then it is a different matter.
So in closing, “Don’t wait till you have tasted the world, because, ‘tomorrow will never arrive, but is like a mirage in a hot and dry desert.’ Today is the day to choose, and I beseech you, choose life today, because tomorrow will never come.” Pilgrims Progress.
Memorising scripture is engrafting God’s word in our minds. If we don’t memorize scripture, we won’t be able to fight off temptation, we won’t be able to encourage others, or even ourselves, during times of spiritual warfare. Being able to recall promises through the aid of God’s Spirit in times of temptation is crucial in our Christian life.
Memorizing is committing something to memory, like a wise saying, or a famous date in history. The dictionary defines the word memorize as learning something well enough to recite it by only using your memory. Memory and memorize, do you see the resemblance in the words? It must be about brain power!
Memorization is to our mind what exercise is to our muscles. The more you memorize, the more you will increase your capacity to memorize.
Because memorization requires effort and time, you could be tempted to think that Scripture reading and studying is enough, but this assumption will rob you of a rich experience in overcoming sin and living a faith-filled life.
“If ye abide in me, and my Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7
“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
The huge giants, formidable strongholds and persistent enemies which the nation of Israel faced in ancient times are symbols of the continual spiritual warfare that we face in our daily Christian lives. Like Joshua of old, we are guaranteed success only if we meditate upon God’s Word day and night.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8
Memorizing Scripture helps with meditation, which is essential to fight the battles of the Lord.
“We are to study the Bible, that we may know how to meet the assaults of the enemy. When Christ was tempted, how did he overcome? He met the tempter with, It is Written. He used the words of God….This is the way that we are to overcome.” Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889
Jesus would have memorized scripture at His mother’s knee as a child and young person. Thus He was able to quote it back as He needed.
One of the most common stories of Jesus using memorized scripture was when He was tempted in the wilderness. He used memorized scripture to ‘fight’ off Satan’s temptations.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:3, 4
It is important to memorize scripture accurately and in context. When Satan tempted Jesus the second time, he quoted the Scripture out of context.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
Satan omitted the words, ‘to keep Thee in all Thy ways’ as found in Psalms 91:11, but Jesus knew His Bible and wasn’t deceived.
We can see from this story that it is vitally important that we memorize scripture to help overcome the Devil and his tricks.
Now that we have learnt how important it is to memorize, let’s put it into practise. As the saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat,” so it is with memorizing. Here are a few different methods to internalize Scripture.
The above methods are really good, but this next method is what worked for me the best.
First, read through the verse, then repeat while emphasizing the first word. Continue reading the verse, and emphasize the second word then the third word and so on, each time you repeat the verse until the end.
Here is an example of memorizing Daniel 8:14 using this method.
Some of the best chapters to memorize in Scripture are; 1 Corinthians 12 & 13, Exodus 20 and Isaiah 53. Why not start here to begin with? Do it with a friend! It is easier if you have someone who can encourage you and hold you accountable for your efforts.
So now we have learnt how important memorizing is in our spiritual walk. Jesus gave us not only His instruction but example as well. True Christians in the past, used memorizing as a key to their spiritual survival. We need God’s Word in our life every moment of the day, especially to call upon during temptation. By using these various methods, we will indeed keep God’s word in our heart, that we might not sin against Him!
On the 1st of September, 2008 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water published the following on its website:
“The Red Fox was introduced into Australia in the 1870’s for recreational hunting. Their subsequent spread was rapid and they are now responsible for environmental and agricultural impacts valued at over $200 million per annum.
“Horticultural enterprises, such as vineyards and orchards, may experience losses of fruit to foxes, either from fruit eaten directly, or through damage to, for example, grape bunches, which are then unsaleable. Foxes also have an unusual habit of chewing on irrigation emitters such as plastic drippers, and can destroy thousands of dollars of irrigation infrastructure in this manner.”
Foxes haven’t changed much since Bible times. There’s an interesting verse found in Song of Solomon 2:15, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
It seems these little foxes were creating havoc in King Solomon’s vineyard. If you were a journalist living in that time, you might think this could be news worthy. Perhaps your story would read something like this:
The king and his bride are not leaving anything to chance today after it was discovered that their world-renowned vineyard was under threat.
The royal vineyard, famous for its quality of fruit around the world, is not under threat for lack of water or sunshine, but from a pesky little fox known to cause injury to crops wherever it is introduced.
The little foxes are nocturnal which means they sleep during the day. They dig holes for themselves under the earth, often around a place abounding with its favourite food. Hence, they have made themselves right at home at the royal vineyard this spring.
With these little foxes prying around, the vineyard’s tender grapes are in danger of being eaten—thus destroying the whole crop this season.
Experts believe the whole vineyard is in danger from these foxes, pointing out that the foxes’ burrows under the root system of the vine are making the whole vine weak—the tender grapes failing to get the required nourishment at the most critical stage of growth.
These dangers have caused Solomon’s bride to declare, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15
Search the Bible everywhere and you won’t find a single favourable reference to foxes. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word shual (a name derived from its digging or burrowing under-ground) rendered fox in our King James Version undoubtedly includes the jackal.
There’s the story of Samson capturing 300 foxes (jackals) and letting them loose in the crops and vineyards of the Philistines with fire brands tied to their tails. I doubt that Samson was too concerned about the fate of these foxes though, as they were detested pests.
Today, some people admire their fur and bushy tails, but these animals can still become pests and have some rather nasty habits.
Some of their characteristics include:
Isaiah tells us, “the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant…” Isaiah 5:7.
He goes on describing how God cared for His vineyard – “He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein.” Isaiah 5:2. Then God asks the question, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4
When Christ came to earth, He also used the familiar vineyard as an illustration of the vital connection we are to have with Him, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” John 15:5. He also said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” John 15:8
The genuineness of our commitment to Christ is determined by the character and quality of the fruit we bear. Isn’t it vital then that we carefully watch out for little foxes that destroy the tender Christian fruit?
The other day, I was driving next to a train along the highway. While the train tracks were parallel to the highway we were both doing 100kph and I enjoyed seeing how long a distance we could keep next to each other. Soon we reached a section where the train tracks deviated just a little to the right and 10km down the road, that train was nowhere to be seen.
The same thing happens in our lives. It is always little things that make up larger ones. Little departures from truth and honesty may seem little today but the harvest is sure to be reaped. They are doing their silent work on the character and the longer they are allowed to exist, the longer they have to erode, undermine and enfeeble your Christian vine.
Watch out for the little foxes, the little mistakes, the little sins. You may not be guilty of tremendous sins, but are you allowing numerous little inconsistencies to ruin the stability of your character?
On Friday, 27th July 2008, a crazy yet fascinating story hit news headlines around the world. A 24-year-old young man from Wanganui, New Zealand, had sold his soul for $5001 to the fast food chain Hell Pizza. His reason for selling it was that “…I can’t see it, touch it, or feel it, but I can sell it.” Hell Pizza was delighted at the purchase, saying “The soul belongs to Hell; there is simply no better place for it. We’d love to get his soul in the virtual world—to keep it immortal.” Hell Pizza received a contract outlining details of ownership and a signed certificate.
This may seem like a silly story, but it didn’t stop there. Hell Pizza then used this to create a new marketing campaign, with disgusting and horrifying results. The next month, August 2008, Hell Pizza offered an easy and simple way to sell them your soul. Their logic seemed simple enough: “Your soul is something that sits there and doesn’t do a thing. You can’t see it. You can’t feel it. It can’t keep you warm at night, and when you’re out of milk, it won’t run down to the dairy and grab you more. Souls are pretty much useless, so let us take yours off your hands.” So far, over 7,000 people have responded.
You may ask: why is this such a concern to me? Why should it shock me the way it did? Because I believe that God has a design for your soul. Let me share what I have come to understand about God’s design for your soul.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a soul as: “…the moral and emotional nature of human beings; spiritual and moral force.”
Hell Pizza would like us to think that “…your soul is pointless. No one knows what it’s supposed to do and frankly, no one cares.”
Is your soul pointless? Does no one know what it’s supposed to do? Does no one care? Thankfully I can answer all these questions with a resounding “NO!” There is Someone who knows and cares. Let us go to the Bible to see Who this is.
In the very beginning of the Bible, it tells us what the soul is, and how it came into existence. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” 1
Dust (body) + breath (spirit) = soul. Basically put, a soul is you in entirety; not a ghost, not something that can be sold. What happens if you take one of these elements away? Psalms 104:29 tells us: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” If you take away one element of this equation, the soul no longer exists.
Walter Scott, the young man who sold his soul, thought that his soul was worth at least the $5001 that Hell Pizza gave him. Is that really all your soul is worth? You can search selling your soul on the internet, and each site will give you a different value, but is that the value that God puts on your soul? The psalmist David tells us “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.” Psa 71:23 Your soul is worth so much that God has redeemed it, with the blood of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 reminds us that “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Don’t you think that is a very high price to pay; a life for a life? “The soul is of infinite value. Its worth can be estimated only by the price paid to ransom it. Calvary! Calvary! Calvary! will explain the true value of the soul.”2 God regards the soul as more precious than gold.
How much would you sell your soul for? Do you know someone who has sold their soul, not necessarily for money, but for some pleasure of this world; smoking, drinking, taking drugs, going out with worldly friends, disobeying their parents? The Bible is full of stories of people who sold their souls for something they thought was worthwhile. Let us consider a few of these stories, and ask ourselves whether they really got the good end of the bargain.
“Very precious to Jesus are the souls for whom He has given His life. Jesus knows the value of the human soul…When the soul is lost through sin, the most valuable object in the world is lost.”8 Did you get that: these souls that were lost were the most valuable objects in the world. Did you think that your soul was the most valuable object in the world? Well, now you know that it is. If it is the most valuable object, more valuable than gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, even platinum, what do we need to do to keep this soul safe?
There are a few things that we can do to work together with God for the saving of our souls. Moses instructed the children of Israel to take heed to themselves, and keep their souls diligently.9 In Matthew, Jesus is recorded having a conversation with His disciples, and He told them that if any man wanted to come after Him, he should deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”10 “The soul is of more value than the whole world. Jesus has said: ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’“ 11
Is your soul for sale? What price are you expecting to get for it? A little worldly pleasure, a good time, some fun, riches, fame, a few luxuries, the whole world? Or do you want the highest price that has ever been paid? The life of Jesus is offered as your purchase price, eternal life is promised. Which will you choose? I ask you to consider today. What value is it to you to gain the world, but lose your soul and eternal life? I am asking you this question, but ultimately, Jesus is asking you this question. He wants to buy your soul. Are you willing to give it to him?
I love stories of adventure, stories that bring challenges. My favourite story in the Bible is about a pearl. I will tell you the story.
Once upon a time there was a rich merchant or trader who was looking for a beautiful pearl. He went into a far away country looking here and there until finally one day he found it; it was very expensive. He went home as fast as he could and sold everything he had. Then, with the money he gained, he went and bought just that pearl. (Matthew 13:45, 46)
The pearl is Jesus and His kingdom. The Bible says that in the heavenly city there are twelve gates, and each one is a great pearl. But what are we going to exchange for this treasure? The only way we can have the pearl of great price is by giving up every idol or anything we love more than God. These idols will prevent Jesus from living in our hearts.
Jesus is standing at the door of our heart knocking and always waiting. But how can you open that door for Him if there are things behind the door? You can’t open it at all. You must, with the help of God, take away those things that prevent us from opening the door to Jesus – the Pearl of great price.
This is a real adventure, a challenge and we get real treasure – it isn’t just a story. It is our choice if we want our pearl or not.
I want my pearl; I hope you do too. Let’s all go on this adventure like brave soldiers with God’s armour. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:14-18)
I hope to see you with Jesus next to those pearly gates.
“Gossip, noun: Hearing something you like about someone you don’t .” (Earl Wilson). Well, perhaps that is not the conventional definition of gossip or slander (to give it it’s more loathsome name). But gossip is so much nastier than just “casual conversation or unsubstantiated reports about other people,” as my Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines it. That definition would cover inquiring about how people are doing and finding out the latest in regards to births, deaths, and marriages. Real gossip is backbiting—malicious talk about an absent person. It is also taking up a reproach (an expression of disapproval or disappointment) against our neighbour. See Psalms 15:1-3.
Yes, we have all done it. If you are anything like me, you blush with shame when you remember times that you have participated in vilifying the character of an absent person. What makes us do it? I hope you are prepared for the answer, because it is not at all complementary. “…he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” Proverbs 10:18 “An ungodly man diggeth up evil…” Proverbs 16:27. “Impress upon the students the fact that this habit reveals a lack of culture and refinement and of true goodness of heart; it unfits one both for the society of the truly cultured and refined in this world and for association with the holy ones of heaven. A noble nature does not exult in causing others pain, or delight in discovering their deficiencies.” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 56) When we really think about it, we discover that we gossip because it feeds our pride and makes us feel superior. Making someone else appear bad makes us feel virtuous in comparison. But comparing ourselves with others only does more to show our foolishness. “…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” 2 Corinthians 10:12.
We all know that gossip is wrong, but we often like to think that as long as the victim doesn’t find out about a damaging story, it doesn’t hurt anybody. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. In reality, gossip hurts you, no matter whether you are involved as the gossiper, the listener, or the (hopefully) oblivious victim. Gossiping crushes kindness in your heart and hurts your reputation. An Irish proverb says that “Who brings a tale takes two away.” Your friends will find out eventually that if you gossip to them you will gossip about them. Gossip also has a habit of travelling. The possibility is very high that your victim will find out about the story eventually.
Just listening to gossip hurts you. Even if the harmful story is later discounted, it is very difficult to get it out of your head. “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” Proverbs 18:8. Furthermore, when you listen to gossip, you sin yourself. “The ears must not be defiled by listening to any gossip that faultfinding ones would have us hear, for I not only cause them to sin in allowing them to talk of others’ faults, but I sin myself in listening to them.” The Upword Look, p. 237
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, gossip hurts your victim. You assassinate his character without giving him the opportunity to defend himself by explaining his actions. “ are often the result of envy or misunderstanding, or they may proceed from exaggeration or a partial disclosure of facts.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5 p. 58) “Satan exults when he can defame or wound a follower of Christ. He is ‘the accuser of our brethren.’ Shall Christians aid him in his work?” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5 p. 95)
We all need to take action against gossip, so how do we do it? The battle begins with ourselves; against our own character faults. Psalm 15:2 gives us a description of a person who will not gossip. “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” When we surrender ourselves to God we will learn to think pure thoughts. Paul tells us to think of things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. “If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. If we have trained our thoughts toward the good and beautiful, we can then follow Paul’s advice to “speak evil of no man” (Titus 3:2). If we don’t think evil, we won’t speak it.
Secondly, make a decision to think the best of people instead of believing everything bad that we hear. “We should endeavour to think well of all men…until compelled to think otherwise….You may be just as severe and critical with your own defective character as you please; but be kind, pitiful, and courteous toward others.”
Thirdly, learn to hold your tongue. “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3. The old-fashioned virtue of keeping a confidence (or secret, in modern terms), and protecting the reputation of your friends, is most important. “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” Proverbs 11:13. “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Proverbs 17:9. Of course, there are occasions when you may need to help your friend avoid injury or trouble by informing someone more experienced or in a more responsible position than you, like a parent or guardian. If you see sin in a church member, Matthew 18:15-17 lists the correct procedure to follow. Whatever the situation, if you see the need to divulge information about somebody, there is a principle to stick to. If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends, you’re safe in doing it: but if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue. “To the Christian every act of faultfinding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful.” Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 95
What can we do in social situations if the conversation turns to malicious reports about an absent person? Fortunately, there are some very simple ways to stop gossip in it’s tracks, besides refusing to tell it yourself.
1. Walk away. This is the easiest way to avoid gossip, especially if you are weak in that area. By removing yourself from the vicinity, you refuse to participate in gossip.
2. Change the topic. This is another quite simple tactic. Whether you manage it in an obvious or a subtle way, the important thing is that the discussion moves away from character dissection to something more constructive.
3. Defend the person gossiped about. The victim of gossip is not there, and so can’t defend herself. The kindest thing you can do for the victim is to say something nice about her, or give a sympathetic explanation for the action in question. You could introduce into the conversation the virtues of the victim, or tell a good story about her. You will probably be surprised at how quickly the tone of the discussion changes.
4. Get aggressive. No, not in a bad way. Just tackle the gossiper head-on with what he should be doing. “When anyone comes to you with a tale about your neighbour, you should refuse to hear it. You should say to him, ‘Have you spoken of this matter to the individual concerned?’ …Tell him he should obey the Bible rule, and go first to his brother, and tell him his fault privately, and in love. If the directions of God were carried out, the floodgates of gossip would be closed.” Our High Calling, p. 293
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.” This is a valuable resolution for all of us to adopt as our own.
Faith, what is it? Where do we get it from? What can it do for us? Everybody is faced with these questions, for humans are very much alike. These are important questions and they rightly deserve an answer. Through studying God’s Word, through prayer and the experiences of life we learn that faith becomes more than just a concept or a theory; to me personally, faith is an experience—a lifetime journey.
What is faith? No better definition is given than that found in God’s Word, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1 So faith is composed of substance and evidence —what do these terms mean?
Rephrasing the verse it would read, “Faith is the real, tangible, and solid presence of what you hope for, based on the available body of facts or information which prove this thing is real, though it cannot be seen.” Does that shed more light on the subject? We believe and hope that something is real, though we cannot see it, but we base this belief on the evidence that has been provided until we are sure that it is not just a myth, but a reality!
Let me illustrate. The story is told of a man, a famous lecturer, who ridiculed Christianity, the existence of God and the absurdity of faith. One day he lectured from the podium of a prestigious university. In the presence of all the audience, he defied God and challenged anyone to refute his arguments. At this, a gentlemen rose from the crowd and said to him “Sir, do you have a brain?” The atheist retorted, “What do you mean man? Of course I have a brain!”
“But have you ever seen it?”
“Uh… no” stuttered the atheist.
“But you are sure you have one?”
“Yes” was the hesitant answer of the atheist.
“How do you know you have a brain without ever seeing it? It is because you believe; you have faith because you see the evidence of your brain at work. The fact that you can talk, hear, see and reason, this gives you the faith that you have a brain which God gave you!” The atheist man was speechless. “So it is with God…” continued the Christian gentlemen “We cannot see Him, but His works testify of His great Existence.”
Faith is also a set of beliefs that define what you should and shouldn’t do in life. The daily acts, by repetition form habits, and the various habits of your life form character. Can we now see how important it is to have correct beliefs? It moulds our character, or who we are – it moulds us in the various spheres of society and ultimately will determine whether we will attain eternal life.
Is getting faith as simple as going to the local corner store and buying 3 kilos of flour? How do you get faith? The word of God has a very simple answer to this important question, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”3 As we study the wonderful stories of the Bible and what salvation means to us personally, God will give us faith in Him!
The Bible also tells us that God has given to every person a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). Everyone has a degree of faith, we just need to make use of it! And the way we make use of it is by claiming God’s promises. We need to look to ‘Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’.5 Jesus is the Author of faith! He is the one that created it! The fact is that we need faith, and it is part of our existence. Napoleon once said, “Take away a man’s faith, and you have destroyed the man!”
If you want strong muscles you need to work hard. It’s the same with faith, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…”4 So how will our faith be strengthened? With DILIGENCE! What is diligence? Careful and persistent work and effort. But just as when building strong muscles, you don’t get them overnight—it’s a process that takes persistent effort and daily practice. That’s why the Bible says that the just will live by faith.
So what can God do for us through faith? I remember it was the spring of 2002; we were in the process of buying a house. We had until then been living in rented properties for a bit over a year. We were moving from house to house and by then it was our fourth move, all our belongings and possessions were packed in boxes and we were living out of suitcases.
One day, my parents decided to buy a house. Finances were tight but we needed to find a place that we could call ‘home!’ We searched and searched for a property that suited our needs and wants. I remember we were in deep prayer and much anxiety. Nothing seemed to match what we were looking for. Finally my family decided that we were going to leave it in the hands of the Lord. We had done our fair share of worrying, and we decided to leave the matter in the Lord’s hands. We had confidence that He would find us a place to live.
One night, we all knelt down in prayer. With a great burden weighing us down, we sent our petitions up to our Lord. We expressed our desires to Him; a house with three bedrooms, a bit of land to cultivate, and ready established fruit trees, polished floors (as I have an allergy to certain carpets!) and the girls wanted a cubby house! This was our humble desire and we left it in the hands of the Lord.
Next day we were driving with the real estate agent around the outskirts of the town of Childers in Queensland. She had a few places to show us, and up to this point we had not seen what we were after. Suddenly we drove past a property that had a “for sale” sign up. We asked the agent if we could see this particular property and so she made arrangements and took us in for an inspection. We were thrilled; this place had everything that we had prayed for! The house had three bedrooms and polished floors, 20 acres of land which could all be cultivated, a few hundred fruit trees, and even a cubby house for the girls! It seemed too good to be true! So negotiations began and the Lord provided a new place we could call ‘home’.
We entrusted the Lord with our needs and desires, and He did not disappoint us. We had faith that God would provide, and it surely came to pass. The word of God says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”6
May the Lord help us as we search for a greater faith, that through searching God’s word we may have eternal life! God bless you all, and may the Lord give you a greater measure of faith.
What is life? I had to get some help from the dictionary to answer this question; these are some of the definitions I found:
Right, so that’s what life is – or is it? The definitions given point more to what we can see, the effects of life, and not life itself. We are not life, nature is not life; what we see is life at work. Life is not a physical thing or being. Life is something hard to define because there is only One Who can give it. The God of heaven, through Christ created everything we see around us today. When you look at a tree or shrub what do you see? Well, I guess you see a living plant, true? But is that tree or shrub life in itself? Of course not, it has life in it but in itself it is not life. The life you see in that plant was given to it by our Father in heaven.
I’m glad that we were created by God and are not just an evolutionary mistake. According to evolution we are something that, after millions of years, just happened. To give you an example, I was reading a book the other day and it gave the simplest of explanations of evolution that you could really ask for. According to evolution, the way to produce a universe is as follows: Nothing + nothing = two elements + time = 92 natural elements + time = all physical laws and a completely structured universe of galaxies, systems, stars, planets, and moons orbiting in perfect balance and order.
That really is quite an achievement! I wonder how they calculate the fact that if you’ve got nothing + nothing it equals something. I always thought that nothing and nothing equalled nothing, but maybe if we change the order around we’ll get a different result. Nothing + nothing = nothing, so let’s change it to nothing + nothing, and that equals nothing. Oh no, we have run into a problem now, how can we get something out of nothing? I think that theory has just been thrown out the window. Would something different happen with the theory of making life according to evolution?
The way to make life according to evolution is: dirt + water + time = living creatures. Unfortunately for the scientists, I have proved that wrong long ago. I’m sure many of you have at least once in your childhood made mud pies. Now what is the best recipe for mud pie? I’m sure it is just dirt and water, and then you leave it out so it sets hard. The evolutionist universe is looking better all the time: now we have nothing and nothing in there somewhere, and if you want to add life, it means we have mud pies floating around in nothing. Is that the kind of universe we live in? I think not!
Personally I’m very thankful for the way we were really created, by the power of God that made every single bit of matter that is in existence. Where do I get the proof that we were created by God? From the Bible, the only accurate account of the earth’s beginning. And how do we know that it is so accurate? Because God states in His word that He is a God of truth and that He “cannot lie”. In the Bible it states that the earth was created in 6 literal days, and that it did not take millions of years before our great ancestors crawled out of some swampy bog.
There are so many examples of creation, and they are really awesome. How did all of the 30 odd pieces of even the smallest organisms evolve if they are all needed at exactly the same time to perform the actions required to keep the organism moving and thus keep it alive? If it wasn’t moving it would sink and die in a very short amount of time.
What about the birds that roost at night? What keeps them from falling off in the middle of the night? God created the bird, and He also created tendons in its feet so that when they land on a branch their feet lock on and they cannot fall off because they need to make a conscious decision to unlock their feet from the branch before they fly away.
All these wonderful, living creatures point to intelligent design, which in turn points us to our great heavenly Father who created each and every one of us, the animals we see, the plants, the universe and everything in it.
In Job chapter 12:7-9 it says “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?”
Although the world was created without sin, man fell and became separated from God. Since then sin has wreaked havoc through every generation, but it isn’t all over, there is a way to be saved! John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Imagine the amount of love the Father must have had to send His only begotten Son to suffer death, to take our place so we do not have to die for our own sins. Jesus suffered pain, humiliation, and real agony just so He could save you and me, so what are we going to do? Are we going to make it so He ended up having suffered for nothing, or so that we will go to heaven? The choice is yours.
King David summed everything up when he said “O LORD, how great are thy works!” Maybe it’s time for you to stop for a moment to consider all that God has done, everything He has created, and more importantly, for the love he has towards this fallen people. Words cannot express the love He has for us, and what a day it will be when we finally get to meet Jesus and walk the streets of heaven. Will I see you there?
Imagine having a life completely hidden in the mystery of godliness. A life richly blessed and nourished day after day with the Living Water and the true Bread of Life. Imagine how glorious it is to have so close a communion with God that, when praying, the entire being is renewed with divine power and the assurance that all sins are covered by Jesus’ blood; and that one moves towards the condition “Be ye holy; for I am Holy”. This is perfectly possible and is what our Master pleads for. Anyone who is willing to enlist in this high calling receives immediately all needed strength, encouragement and support from heaven.
A powerful style of life like this is certainly a shut door for Satan and his evil angels. He is very well aware of it and has been working even harder these days in order to find a way to enter in our lives, for he knows that he has but a very short time to exert his power and that the end of all things is at hand. Every endeavour, every advantage and possibility, is being carefully taken into consideration by this deceitful agent. He will do everything to draw the sincere Christian away from the Divine presence; away from Divine favour and protection. However, there is only one way he can achieve this: it is when we allow our attention to be diverted from holy things to things not approved by heaven. By doing so we, the servants of the true God, open the only door through which Satan has total and free access to our mind —through our five senses.
Behind the scenes of television and movies—in the initial stages of production —there is a silent work being done with all effort and mastery. There is a blending of the holy with the filthy, and the innocent and useful with the perverted. It is all diligently designed by evil powers to deceive as many as possible. ‘Acting’ has been Satan’s most powerful tool since his war in heaven, and this he performs with brilliant perfection and grace. Through a display of apparent sophistication, knowledge and progress many believe their eyes and ears are upon healthy and worthy things, while they walk the paths of death with quick steps towards perdition.
There are many important points to be analysed about the influence of television upon the Christian life, but before we go any further in this discussion it is worthy to consider what the Spirit of Prophecy says about the origin of television – the theatre.
“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theatre. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theatre, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” (Adventist Home, p. 516)
Without acting, there would be no theatre—this is common sense. Acting is the base of drama, cartoons, puppet shows, movies, soap operas, comedy shows, opera, etc., consequently we can safely consider ‘television’ as an extension of the list, for it is no less poisoned than the theatre stage performances described by the Spirit of Prophecy. Acting is best defined as the art of copying in the most precise and amazing way. It is counterfeiting—a way of presenting the closest form, image, sound and appearance of something but not the real thing; an imitation but not the original. In principle it has nothing to do with godliness, which calls upon us to think of that which is “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8)
Many religious people consider employing such ‘art’ in the service of God as of great value, but we are clearly warned that such a course of action is rejected by heaven: “There should be in the meetings nothing of a theatrical nature.” (Counsels on Health, p. 481). “Wrecks of character have been made by these fashionable church festivals and theatrical performances, and thousands more will be destroyed; yet people will not be aware of the danger, nor of the fearful influences exerted. Many young men and women have lost their souls through these corrupting influences.” (Counsels on Stewardship, p. 202)
Beloved youth, ‘acting’ is not a gift from God. Remember that God is true and has nothing to do with what is counterfeited, pretended or imitated; this is Satan’s work. He is the king of lies and counterfeits. It is his speciality to appear as a lamb on the outside, while being a murderous wolf underneath the white wool, and this is exactly his counsel for man: to act as acceptable and lovely on the outside while the reality is a life of sin and reprobated character. Here is included flattery, fake smiling, gossip, competition, envy and other curses based on acting.
God’s character is pure and confusion is not His name. Our Redeemer did not employ deception or pretension in order to accomplish His plans to save us. Our Holy Father rejoices in everything which is genuine, pure, lovely and real. Even our words must be, “Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:37)
Let our mind rest upon the work of Jesus our Lord for a moment. Our Faithful Pattern never used pretension in His teachings. Christ’s parables are examples of effective methods our Lord used to help us understand divine lessons. They are not pretensions, or an act; rather, they are enlightening symbols.
What a wonderful revelation is the parable of the ten virgins! Have you read it? It’s found in Matthew 25. Through it, Jesus revealed the mystery of the opening of the door to the Most Holy place in heaven, and that His people should keep their Christian life filled with prayer and God’s Spirit lest they were caught ‘sleeping’ (wavering or destitute of faith) and left outside (without knowledge and salvation). They are true warnings, given for our correction and salvation.
Knowing the hardness of the human heart, Jesus, through the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, showed the disciples that the only chance of being delivered from destruction was by following the counsels recorded in His word. Even the act of Christ raising someone from the dead would not have power to soften the heart hardened by sin (Luke 16:23-31). Again, there is no deception here, it is not an act. The characters employed by Jesus illustrate the work of the Father and heavenly beings in the salvation of the human race.
These parables were used to illustrate important truths. We may apply the same analysis to the earthly sanctuary which was an “example and shadow of heavenly things” and made “according to the pattern showed” (Hebrew 8:2-5), and also to the visions of Daniel and Revelation. All these are great object lessons that shed light on the real plan of redemption. Symbols employed in instruction are approved by heaven and confirmed in the works of Jesus Christ. Does this mean then, that all cartoons, fairy tales and puppet shows are harmless?
These are one of the cruelest forms of education given to children. Without knowing the fantastic nature of these stories and plays, children with fragile minds develop false expectations in the real world. When they try to apply any of the false lessons they’ve learned, they suffer the terrible consequences of the false teaching upon their characters and have to face the sad reality that they have been deceived.
Such waste of energy is a sin against God and against our children. All this effort could be employed in learning the truth. Learning the sweetest stories ever told, as found in the Bible and in the book of nature; stories about our Saviour, His love, lessons of kindness, obedience and forgiveness. The great stories of the Old Testament would inspire these children to trust in God when in difficulties and increase in love for their parents and God.
Learning the secrets of nature would tell them of the great power of God in creating all those wonderful and amazing creatures, plants, the human being and the eco-systems with all their diversity and complexity. How much more would children profit from simple explanations and displays of how these mechanisms work and how God keeps them living. Children would certainly be far more blessed with the truth instead of being taught to give animals and other inanimate and non-existent things voices or human-like attributes, thus following Satan in his work when he gave a voice to the serpent, to deceive Eve. The same enchantment experienced by Eve in Eden controls the poor little ones who are exposed to such idolatry. The truth, presented in simple and refreshing ways will prove infinitely more beneficial to young brains than all the fabricated lies and excitement of theatrical teaching methods.
These are one of the most powerful methods used by Satan to deceive and pervert the principles and behaviour of youth.
Mothers who spend most of their time at home are also targets of Satan. If their lives are not filled with useful and rewarding labour, they are made an easy prey to this type of moral pollution. As they are daily fed on such poisonous food, they become weak and discontented with their own life and completely forget the blessings and provisions of God. Many marriage disasters and discordances between husband and wife have their origin in the debasing content of soap operas.
Immorality and unfaithfulness in marriage are not the only things taught in soap operas. Worldly fashions and spiritualism in its most developed and deceiving form are also upheld and promoted. Everyone who has not become intimately acquainted with the Word of God will fall prey to such terrible and satanic teachings. May the Lord touch every heart lest their faith be completely destroyed!
Think for a moment of the solemn service that our precious Saviour is executing in the Most Holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Are you aware of His work? Can you bear the thought that your name might be in review right now? God has covered all our repented of and confessed sins that we may be rescued from eternal death! Before such a solemn and wonderful scene, can we question whether unholy laughs, jests, jokes, mockery, swearing, making fun of others, and even mockery of divine themes are welcome before the throne of God? Beloved youth, the angels weep at such behaviour, for all who practise this will suffer God’s consuming fire.
On the same scale as soap operas are movies, which instigate the desire for the unreal, and excite evil passions, anger, hate, revenge, violence and other lusts. Apart from this, they tend to substitute the genuine with the false, and here it’s satanic stamp is found. When a story is told through a movie, a lot of its usefulness and real information is lost. The ‘flickering of the screen’ prevents the brain from creating images about what is being said. Once ‘everything’ is shown, the mind has no chance of properly reviewing and processing everything. The result is a ridiculous passiveness, and the brain succumbs to an involuntary acceptance of whatever is presented, without restriction or choice as to what it accepts.
Christian movies are a snare the deceiver has created to reach those who seek to substitute the fire from the altar with strange fire. Many think that they are very well equipped with such movies and that they can even dismiss the study of the Bible, just so long as they get fed by a ‘Bible film’. They do not know how Satan works greatly with these movies, filling them with lies and false conceptions based just on emotions which prevent the spectator from receiving lessons of reproof and warning so essential to character building; lessons that are found in every page of the Sacred Book.
Some Christian movies which seem to be perfect, omit important passages of the Bible and pass by precious pearls which are recorded for our instruction and correction. The wisdom of man cannot be compared with God’s. When we go through the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, God Himself will speak to us, and while we are attentive to His voice, nothing that concerns the work of our salvation will be lost. This is the methodology that God’s providence has prepared. Anything that prevents this miracle from happening in human hearts does not come from the throne of grace. Besides, we have been clearly warned against the use of such art in the work of enlightening the world with the gospel:
“I have a message for those in charge of our work . Do not encourage the men who are to engage in this work to think that they must proclaim the solemn, sacred message in a theatrical style. Not one jot or tittle of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work. God’s cause is to have a sacred, heavenly mould. Let everything connected with the giving of the message for this time bear the divine impress. Let nothing of a theatrical nature be permitted, for this would spoil the sacredness of the work.” (Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, p.125)
Documentaries which do not include theatrics as well as filmed sermons and filmed teachings are examples of the use of technology for the glory of God. In them Jesus is pleased and honoured.
We all love music, right? It’s a language that anyone and everyone can understand. It doesn’t matter if you’re German, French, Spanish, Chinese or Italian, it is all the same. Music is also very powerful. Certain sounds, melodies, words, even pitch can affect us.
Everyone I believe has the gift to make music. It doesn’t matter even if it is just “…A joyful noise unto the Lord,” if it is for the Lord, and the music is godly, it is all sweet and beautiful to Him.
They say experience is the best teacher so one day, my sister and I set out to try busking – that’s when you perform in a public place for donations of money. Now, playing music, especially out in an open place such as Main Street in Bundaberg can be pretty daunting, but trusting in the Lord that He would reward our efforts we bravely went ahead. The results were amazing. We began by playing classical musical pieces and gradually moved on to Christian ones. Some people would stop to listen and then would smile and pass on. Others would begin singing and one even tried conducting and still others would go off humming one of the songs that they happened to hear. But when we played songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘La Via Dolorosa’, the people were really touched.
A lot of people brightened up, some even cried. It was such a rewarding experience. When we finished playing we felt that even though only one person smiled and thanked you for it you know that all your hard work was not in vain. But my point here isn’t “Go out and do busking” but really that music is a gift from God, and we should use it for His glory.
In heaven there is always music of praise, and since the “ancient” Bible days it has been a most essential part of worship. On the other hand, if music can work on your mind with such a powerful effect we must also be extremely careful of the kind of music we listen to. The music we listen to will help shape our character, either for the better or for the worse.
Music isn’t the only talent God has given us. It’s as if God tipped out a treasure chest full of talents on the world. By giving we are enriched and when we use those talents, the talents that we might not know we had, will be brought to light and God will give us even more talents if we use them for His cause. But giving what we have to give is what God wants.
So, how about it? Let’s dig out those rusty talents and let God give them a polish and with Him leading the way we can be sure of success.
Does everyone on earth tell lies? If you don’t think so just look at some research performed by the University of Vienna, Austria. The researchers have estimated that the average man and woman tells an average of 200 lies per day just to cope with reality.
The opposite of lies is honesty. Does God want us to be absolutely honest even in the very small and insignificant areas of our lives? First of all I would like to share with you a tiny quote that I read. It goes like this – “Nothing but goodness and purity, honesty and holiness, can enter heaven.”
But surely there are exceptions! Maybe the Bible can shed some light on the subject.
1 Peter 2:12 instructs us in this way: “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” So God wants our speech and our outward actions to be true and honest.
This may be easy to accomplish, however, the Bible also goes deeper than just the outside actions. Here is a verse I found in Psalm 51:6, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” And also Psalm 15:1,2, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”
But, you say, I don’t tell lies – but do you? What about those little “white lies” that are told every day in order to be socially acceptable?
I used to work in a busy law office in Perth with an advocate who was a true gentleman. He would always say the nicest things to everybody, remarking on how well they were doing at a job, complementing people on their appearance or thanking them for work they did in a way that made them feel very valuable. As a consequence he was a very nice person to be around. However, in a short time I figured out that he wouldn’t only act in this manner to people he appreciated but also to people he did not think much of or didn’t like. His words were always very nice but he did not necessarily mean them. It was just to make you feel good. The early Christians avoided this type of deceit as identified in 1 Thessalonians 2:3–5, “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness.”
Lies of Convenience
I am sure every employer has experienced the typical “sick day” excuse. Many employers now require you to produce a medical certificate to prove that you actually were sick. Why? They cannot trust that employees won’t lie if it is convenient for them. Proverbs 19:1 says, “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”
Proverbs 20:17 tells us in a very graphic way that the “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” This has often been my own experience when asked to do a favour for somebody. Inside I would resent being asked, as I was busy and did not have the time. I would be boiling inside but on the outside would come a very sweet smile and the most gracious answer. “Of course I don’t mind doing this for you, don’t worry about it!”
The fact was I did mind and I did not want to do the favour. I only did it because I felt obliged to. There was no love involved. My exterior did not mirror my interior.
When this kind of deceit is used for those asking a favour or maybe for guests overstaying their welcome the result can often feel like your mouth being filled with gravel. You can either have an unpleasant job on your hands or have to entertain guests who are blissfully unaware that they are being a burden on you, not to mention the hurt feelings it could cause if those people actually found out that you were being dishonest and deceitful.
How to Build Habits of Honesty
So how can we truly build habits of honesty in a world where 200 lies per person per day is the international average? If the Lord wants us to be completely truthful in all situations then incredible wisdom and love from God is needed in order to remain socially acceptable.
We never know when our honesty will be tested. Your friend may ask you a difficult question one day like, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Or a young teenager might come and ask your opinion on his newly dyed pink hair. How does one be tactful and yet truthful without hurting feelings?
Jesus gives us a hint in Matthew 10:16, “…be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Most people would appreciate it more if the truth was spoken even though it may hurt them a little in which case we would do well to heed Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Sometimes it would be tactful to suggest another style of dress to the young girl whose clothing does not suit her or point her to the principles of true beauty which can only come from within. With all situations it would also do well to consider the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” How would we like to be addressed? What answer would we like to hear?
God does require honesty in every aspect of our lives. Practising it is in a true sense living the words of Ephesians 4:25 “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”
“God wants men in His service, under His banner, to be strictly honest, unimpeachable in character, that their tongues shall not utter a semblance of untruth. The tongue must be true, the eyes must be true, the actions wholly and entirely such as God can commend.” Child Guidance, p. 152
For more than 20 years I have been watching people of different ages. I have seen some starting their life, some living in their middle age, some approaching the last years of their life. I observed that the majority of people had a positive approach to life when they were younger.
I watched young people as they planned families, careers, bought houses, started businesses and hoped for some great success. They were making plans for long years ahead. Some of them were even including their future children and grand children in their plans. But as they grew older slowly their goals, their dreams faded away.
Those people who just started their life 20 years ago and were making great plans, now make less and less plans and their plans are only for a few years ahead. Then I have also watched those who were in their midyears when I was a young boy, as now they are passing their dreams and goals and businesses to the next generation, their children. They slowly pulled out from all their responsibilities in their businesses and life and their children took over.
Then I realized that life is so short. Most of the plans that are made when a person is young can never be finished or accomplished. Only a few years and the driving power slowly decreases until the person becomes dependent on others to help, and decide or plan instead. And when they are in this stage, most of the time their greatest plan is, to see another day.
I watched my own two grandfathers, how from strong men, full of plans and dreams they soon became powerless children again. The Apostle John wrote to us these words as an encouragement; “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (1 John 2:14) Just imagine what could be accomplished if we would only use half of the talents the Lord has given us. Remember the courage of Daniel and his friends when they stood in front of the whole nation of Babylon witnessing for the King of Kings. You and I could do the same if we would only choose to serve the Lord while we have the power, the courage, the vigor, and the zeal.
“He (God) has chosen the youth to aid in the advancement of His cause. To plan with clear mind and execute with courageous hand demands fresh, uncrippled energies. Young men and women are invited to give God the strength of their youth, that through the exercise of their powers, through keen thought and vigorous action, they may bring glory to Him and salvation to their fellow men.” Evangelism, p. 478
Dear friend, the Lord has chosen you to work for Him. He has given you wonderful talents to use for His glory. You are very precious. He purchased you with His own blood. He died a terrible death just to save you, so you could work for Him and have eternal life. Will you give your heart to the Lord? Will you say “Here am I; send me,” as did Isaiah? Will you let the Lord use the best of your life? May God bless you my dear friend, to have the courage to make that decision.
“I know the most Bible verses in my class,” said Betty. Then, after thinking a bit, she asked, “Mother, does that make me the best Christian in my class?”
Mother sat down with Betty. “Darling,” she said, “I hope all the boys and girls in your class are very, very good, and that you are the best Christian of them all. But knowing some Bible verses may not even make a person a Christian at all, let alone a good Christian.”
“But I learned them to please Jesus,” said Betty.
“Then they show that you love Jesus and that you want to be a good Christian,” said her mother. “But there’s a big difference between knowing and doing. Which Bible verses do you know?”
Betty said, “I know, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart’ and ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ and a lot more.”
“Well,” said her mother, “do you always believe that the Lord Jesus loves you and is with you all the time, and do you trust that He can and will take care of you?”
“N-no, not always,” Betty admitted; “I still worry a lot, don’t I?”
“I’m afraid so,” said her mother with a smile. “What other verses do you know?”
“’This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you.’ Jesus said that,” Betty told her mother.
“I’m glad you know that verse,” said her mother. “But how about the doing? Do you always love Tom the way Jesus loves you?” Betty often quarrelled with her brother Tom.
“No, Mother,” said Betty. “I guess just knowing Bible verses doesn’t make me a good Christian. But if I’ll remember to do them, I’ll be a better Christian, won’t I?”
“Yes,” said her mother, “and Jesus said, ‘If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.’ The more you really do whatever the Bible tells you, the happier you will be.”
I asked God to give me a new heart, and he gave me two. I was baptised on 5th March 2011, and 6 days later underwent major open-heart surgery, and praise God, He was with me on both occasions, and both were a success.
My experience starts from when I was born, so dad helped compile part of this article.
I was born on an autumn day, 11th April 1989, to a lovely young couple, Danny and Suzi Boje. Along with my older brother Adam, we had great fun, troubles, and more on the farm. As I was growing, I discovered that my body couldn’t always do as much as I wanted to do. During a physical exercise (exhaustion) session at school, our sport instructor advised me to see a doctor about it, and my parents finally convinced me to go.
After a few doctors’ trips and check-ups, they discovered that the heart murmur I’d been born with had worsened, and my bicuspid valve was causing problems. Surgery to repair it took place in November 2004, but it still required a follow-up surgery to fix the leaking valve. Later this also included the need to replace a section of the aorta with a Dacron tube, and the date was set for March 11, 2011.
In the weeks leading up to surgery, I was very busy renovating my house, and enjoyed jet-skiing and other recreations, and thus was too busy to worry about the operation soon to take place.
On the day prior to surgery I had my final check-up to ensure that I was healthy for the operation, and met with the surgeon and his assistant for the final time before the ‘big day’. Literally it was a big day, and in the weeks prior the nurse-coordinator advised me that my surgeon would need ‘all day to work on you’ due to how major this particular surgery is, and what they intended to do. It was only during this final meeting that I realised that my body would be cooled to 15-18 degrees for 15-20 minutes to perform the first part of the operation; replacing the aorta up to the arch, then connecting it to the heart/lung bypass machine. I got a bit concerned, but knew that I would only need to trust in God even more.
The big day arrived. I woke up (got awoken) and was ready for the day. I said goodbye to my best friend, Johnny, and we embraced for a short while.
Dad drove me to the hospital, and Adam K, who wished to be there for the day, accompanied us.
We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 am, and made our way to level two – the heart level. After final confirmations to ensure I was getting the correct procedure done, I was given two gowns, and instructed to wear them (and nothing else). It is then that I realise what Job meant when he said, “naked I came into this world, and naked I return”…(Job 1:21)
After saying goodbye, I was wheeled on the bed to the pre-op room; I felt fine, and I talked with the nurses as they came by. I was soon taken to theatre, and transferred to the operating table, where I was to spend the next 7 hours. After an IV line was put in my arm, then a larger one in my neck, I was still very much awake and alert. I could have wondered, “Could this be it for me?” But I didn’t worry or stress because I knew my life was in God’s hands.
When it was my time to go under the anaesthetic, I fully relied on God to guide the surgeon’s hands, and to be with me. I wasn’t certain how the operation would go, or even if they’d do the procedure that was best suited, but I trusted in Him who knows even the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). I prayed that His will would be done, and trusted Him.
The drugs to put me to sleep were administered, and I was then unconscious, while the surgeons and the rest of the team performed the operation. I knew nothing, which probably was a good thing.
I was asleep the whole day (thanks to the anaesthetist), and unaware of how the operation was progressing. Before I had woken, I was transferred to the ICU in the Private Department of the hospital. My closest family members came and saw me; however, I was still asleep.
When I awoke late in the evening, I was first glad and relieved that I had awoken; but at the same time I was quite uncomfortable. I had a restrictive tube (for assisting breathing) down my throat and couldn’t talk. I don’t remember seeing properly, and after trying to talk (and failing miserably), I tried to write something in the air. My wonderful nurse understood, and quickly brought some paper with a pen.
I was happy; now I could ‘talk’! I asked if I could have visitors, and the answer was ‘no’. I asked if I could make a phone call, and the answer was again ‘no’. I then asked if the tube down my throat could be removed, and I received the same answer, ‘no’.
At the time, all these responses were quite discouraging, but now I know the nurse was doing what was best for me; it was late at night, and I NEEDED the tube to assist my breathing. Eventually, somehow, I managed to doze off to sleep.
In the morning I awoke, and after some time, overheard a nurse asking a fellow patient if he knew where he was. He replied he was in the ‘Royal Melbourne Hospital, Private Division’. I knew he was mistaken, and wished to correct him, but held my peace. Later on my nurse advised me that I TOO was in fact in the ‘Private Division’ due to a lack of beds in the public ICU the previous evening. I learnt NOT to be too confident and sure of myself, even if I knew I was right. As the Apostle Paul brings out in Romans 12:3, a man is “Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think”. So I was still learning valuable lessons on relying on God and not on myself.
Soon I spoke with some family members on the phone. A little while later, I spoke with the nurse, and she told me what procedure had been performed. Until then I knew the surgery was a success (as I was alive), but I didn’t know if the operation was a success, and which procedure was performed. She explained that they’d done the Ross Procedure, with the Dacron aorta replacement. This was what I had been hoping for, and was the best possible outcome for my situation. I was overjoyed, and didn’t feel pain for the next few minutes due to being so happy. God truly does work miracles, even today, and after the long operation the surgeon told my father that “It was a pleasure to work on him”.
The hardest part of the surgery, for me at least, was ‘letting go’. I knew what I was about to go through, and yet having no power or control over the situation was the most difficult part. But once I relied on Jesus as my personal Saviour, and trusted my life to Him, it was easy. I went into the theatre confident, somehow knowing that I would be ‘ok’. It was so much easier relying on “the rock of our Salvation.”(Psalms 95:1) Later I found out about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Japan at the very time I was in surgery. So many people died due to the earthquakes and tsunami, and yet God and His angels were watching over me. I’m so glad to be a child of God!
After spending one week in hospital, I was due to be released. But God had other plans. Early on the morning of my ‘release’, I developed fever-like symptoms. I felt extremely unwell, and phoned some friends by 6am.
I explained to them how I felt, and asked for some ‘natural remedies’ as I knew I was unwell, and I also wished to leave the hospital ASAP. The sisters that I called both advised doing a hot & cold footbath, and as I had been feeling extremely cold, I sat on the shower bench and ‘self-treated’ myself with hot water/cold water showers on my feet.
It made me feel better and I managed to rest a little. When the doctors came to do their morning rounds, my surgeon joined them, to check that I was fine, and then release me. I didn’t mention that just a few hours ago I had been extremely unwell, but they knew, as something in my latest blood test showed that my white blood-cell count had risen dramatically.
Then I admitted to how I had been feeling, and the surgeon advised that I would need to stay until they ‘cleared up this issue’. A few days later, on Sunday, they advised me that I had acquired a serious infection whilst recovering in the ward.
That afternoon, when I realised that I needed to stay in hospital, I decided to take action. I knew about the ‘Eight laws of health’, and decided that my body needed fresh air and sunshine. I had just been put into a separate room, in isolation from the other patients (due to my infection), and wasn’t too impressed with the idea.
So I sent a quick prayer up to Heaven, as Nehemiah did before he answered the king (Nehemiah 2:4), and asked that the nurses/doctors would not stop me. I took decisive action and went for a proper walk. I knew the importance of exercise, but hadn’t gotten any proper ‘exercise’ in the previous week. So I walked to the end of the hall, and then down the stairs to ground level, then finally out the exit. I decided to walk ‘around the block’, and did so. Yes, I was tired by the end of the walk, and it was quite probably against the doctors’ orders, but I knew it was for my best, especially if I was to leave hospital soon. I arrived back and felt much better. God’s natural remedies DO work!
The following week was spent in an isolated room, not knowing when I would be released, or how serious the infection really was. But praise the Lord, I had quite a few visitors who kept me occupied, and a continuous stream of healthy food!
Once I was finally ‘released’ it was a great feeling. Not only that so many friends had visited and encouraged me, but that I was finally out and ‘on the way home’.
Praise God that there was only one complication following the hospital release, when I was taken by ambulance to clear up a possible blood clot, and only spent three more nights at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In total I spent 17 nights in hospital, had my ascending aorta replaced with Dacron, my aortic valve replaced with my pulmonary valve, and received a homograft valve to function for the pulmonary valve.
I’m really grateful and thankful for everyone who fasted and prayed for me, and especially for those who visited me and encouraged me through this time. It means so much to me to have so many people supporting me, and I know that they surely helped my recovery.
Now it’s been a couple of months since the surgery, and praise God, I’m doing very well. God really helped me recover, and I now know, through experience,(two major operations), that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). And I strongly encourage other believers, especially the youth, to FULLY rely on Christ, because He can and WILL help those who ask and believe in Him, as brought out in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
I’m really glad that things worked out for the best, and the praise all goes to God, for “All things work together for good to them that love God”(Romans 8:28).
We are truly to appreciate life and the opportunities that we have, and to make the most of them. And as 2 Timothy 1:7 brings out, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear…”, so we are not to fear when we are walking with Him.
My friend and I decided to go on a trip up the coast recently. We packed our bags, put everything in the car and were about to leave. Just before we pulled out of the driveway we said a quick prayer, for protection and safe travel.
The drive up there was going excellently, and we had nearly reached our destination. We began to come down the last mountain, which is well-known for its windy road, and as it was late at night, we took extra care approaching the last two bends.
Because of the late hour, it was near impossible to see that there was water from a driveway flowing across the road, only visible halfway through the bend.
As soon as the car hit the water, we lost control. The car spun out, rolled off the side of the road and down the mountain. The car landed facing the opposite direction to which we were driving. It was passenger side down, with the wheels of the car against a set of trees that stopped us from rolling further down the mountain.
It all happened very quickly, and as soon as the car had stopped we said a prayer again, so thankful that our lives had been spared.
The windows were shattered, the roof was scratched, and the sides of the car were completely smashed in, yet despite these things, my friend and I were able to walk away unhurt.
I couldn’t even begin to explain how we were alive, completely unscathed. It’s so difficult to remember all the details, but looking down the mountain at the car, I knew that angels had been looking after us.
God has amazing plans for the youth of today. I know now that God has big plans for my life, and I hope to never forget that.
I want to appeal to all youth who are struggling with the decision to serve God, and those who have already decided, to continue, because God is real. He does listen, He does want us to be happy, and He will help us; all we need to do is ask.
An excellent start is a simple prayer, asking God to come into your life. He will hear you, and He will answer your prayer.
Lately, I’m sure that we’ve all been pointing to this calamity and to that disaster and have been exclaiming “Look, another flood, another earthquake! It’s another sign that we are living in the last days!”
The apostle Paul also mentioned some of the signs of the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Let’s read together what Paul has to say. ”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, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are 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.”
“In these last days children are so noted for their disobedience and disrespect that God has especially noticed it, and it constitutes a sign that the end is near. It shows that Satan has almost complete control of the minds of the young.” 1
The apostle Paul describes the “wicked” as being disobedient to their parents in Romans 1:29-30. However, from the context in 2 Timothy 3:3-5 it is clear that Paul is not referring to the wicked but to professed Christians as being disobedient to their parents when he says “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”. (2 Timothy 3:5)
“There are many children who profess to know the truth who do not render to their parents the honor and affection that are due to them, who manifest but little love to father and mother, and fail to honor them in deferring to their wishes or in seeking to relieve them of anxiety.” 2
Could someone honestly point to you and exclaim “Look so and so is being disobedient, and disrespectful to his/her parents! It’s another sign that we are living in the last days!”
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the new earth.’ ‘Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.’ Children who dishonor and disobey their parents, and disregard their advice and instructions, can have no part in the earth made new.” 3
“If you have become estranged and have failed to be Bible Christians, be converted; for the character you bear in probationary time will be the character you will have at the coming of Christ. If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth. The traits of character you cherish in life will not be changed by death or by the resurrection. You will come up from the grave with the same disposition you manifested in your home and in society. Jesus does not change the character at His coming. The work of transformation must be done now. Our daily lives are determining our destiny.”4
“God cannot prosper those who go directly contrary to the plainest duty specified in His word, the duty of children to their parents. . . . If they disrespect and dishonor their earthly parents, they will not respect and love their Creator.” 5
1 John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
“Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God.”6
John 13:20 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.”
Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”
Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
“When children have unbelieving parents, and their commands contradict the requirements of Christ, then, painful though it may be, they must obey God and trust the consequences with Him.” 7
“The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age.” 8
“Each member of the family should understand just the part he is expected to act in union with the others. All, from the child six years old and upward, should understand that it is required of them to bear their share of life’s burdens.” 9
“When a little girl is nine or ten years old, she should be required to take her regular share in household duties, as she is able, and should be held responsible for the manner in which she does her work. That was a wise father who, when asked what he intended to do with his daughters, replied, ‘I intend to apprentice them to their excellent mother, that they may learn the art of improving time, and be fitted to become wives and mothers, heads of families, and useful members of society.’” 10
“The mother is the queen of the home, and the children are her subjects. She is to rule her household wisely, in the dignity of her motherhood. Her influence in the home is to be paramount; her word, law. If she is a Christian, under God’s control, she will command the respect of her children.” 11
“The children are to be taught to regard their mother, not as a slave whose work it is to wait on them, but as a queen who is to guide and direct them, teaching them line upon line, precept upon precept.” 12
“The education of the child for good or for evil begins in its earliest years. . . . As the older children grow up, they should help to care for the younger members of the family. The mother should not wear herself out by doing work that her children might do and should do.” 13
”’Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ This is the first commandment with promise. It is binding upon childhood and youth, upon the middle-aged and the aged. There is no period in life when children are excused from honoring their parents. This solemn obligation is binding upon every son and daughter and is one of the conditions to their prolonging their lives upon the land which the Lord will give the faithful.” 14
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
“In these last days children are so noted for their disobedience and disrespect that God has especially noticed it, and it constitutes a sign that the end is near. It shows that Satan has almost complete control of the minds of the young.” 15
“Many children go about their home duties as though they were disagreeable tasks, and their faces plainly show the disagreeable. They find fault and murmur, and nothing is done willingly. This is not Christlike; it is the spirit of Satan, and if you cherish it, you will be like him. You will be miserable yourselves and will make all about you miserable.” 16
“The Saviour’s early years were useful years. He was His mother’s helper in the home; and He was just as verily fulfilling His commission when performing the duties of the home and working at the carpenter’s bench as when He engaged in His public work of ministry.” 17
“The approval of God rests with loving assurance upon children and youth who cheerfully take their part in the duties of the household, sharing the burdens of father and mother. Such children will go out from the home to be useful members of society.“ 18
“The youth are now deciding their own eternal destiny, and I would appeal to you to consider the commandment to which God has annexed such a promise, “That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Children, do you desire eternal life? Then respect and honor your parents. Do not wound and grieve their hearts and cause them to spend sleepless nights in anxiety and distress over your case. If you have sinned in not rendering love and obedience to them, begin now to redeem the past. You cannot afford to take any other course; for it means to you the loss of eternal life.” 19
Philippians 2:12-15 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.“
Is the answer, no Jezebels and all Abigails?
I pray that this is the answer that we, as a Christian organisation who believe in upholding ALL the standards of God, should be able to give to such a question.
By the way, who were Abigail and Jezebel? Well, Abigail was a woman who lived in the time of David and who was the ultimate example of a Christian woman. Wise, understanding, humble, godly, meek and respectful, Abigail was truly an incredible woman.
Jezebel, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab in the time of Elijah the prophet of God.
Jezebel was cruel, wicked, evil, hated the followers of God and was completely ungodly. She was the ultimate example of a woman who refused to accept God.
You can read all about her and her wicked deeds and acts in the Bible 1 and 2 Kings and also in the book Prophets and Kings, starting in chapter 8.
To be like Jezebel is definitely not desirable; yet without knowing it we can be like her.
Do we say, “We are not like Jezebel. We don’t commit murder. We don’t openly defy God and try to kill His leaders and the ministers of the church or worship idols.”
Ah! But let us look at what happens when we turn our eyes and mind away from God. Who is the first person we look at when we turn away from God?
That’s right. We begin to look at and study ourselves.
We look in the mirror and this is what we say:“Ugh! I have a few freckles on my skin.”
“Oh no! I am getting grey/white hairs in my hair and I’m only 28!”
“My eyelashes are too light.”
“My eyes are pale and don’t stand out.”
A cosmetic catalogue is put into our letter boxes and we flick through it “just to have a look.” We see beautiful women posing attractively, advertising make-up, hair dye and jewellery.
“Oh look at the girl’s skin,” we say. “Maybe I’ll just buy one of those foundation creams and if I just put it on lightly to cover my freckles, no one will notice.”
“Ooh look at that woman’s hair! Maybe if I buy just one packet to dye my grey hairs because I am SO young, and it’s not fair that I should look old when I am not.”
Ladies, do you know who we are imitating when we succumb to these temptations? Is it Abigail? Truthfully?
No, of course not. Do you honestly think that Abigail, who trusted in God and lived a godly life would have needed to wear all this?
If you have a look in the book SDA Bible Comments, Vol. 2 you will find that Abigail was a woman after the order of Christ. She didn’t need to wear all this “goo.” Her face radiated the love of Jesus which would have given her a much more attractive appearance than artificial make-up.
Just imagine that being said of us. “We are women after the order of Christ.” What an honour! But instead, sad to say, we have to admit the awful truth that we are actually imitating that horrible woman, Jezebel. Do you know that she is the first and only woman mentioned in the Bible who wore make-up. When we put this stuff on our faces, change the colour of our hair or our nails, we are being exactly like Jezebel and we are actually telling God that we are dissatisfied with His creation, and are defying Him by trying to change the way He made us. Isn’t that just awful? It makes me shudder to think what God must be thinking of our poor little efforts to “improve” His wonderful creation.
Wearing make-up does not just consist of wearing foundation, eyeliner or eye lash tint. Make-up includes everything that you put on yourself to cover up what you don’t like about yourself. Yes it includes dying of the hair (even if it is “natural” dye), eye enhancer, creams to cover freckles (even if it is so called “natural”), lipstick, nail polish and jewellery.
Let’s face it. Do we really want to imitate Jezebel? Do we really want to copy someone who is known as a murderess, a woman who defied God?
Do you know that in Revelation 2:20, God is speaking a message to the church of Thyatira and He had something against that church. Do you know what it was?
It was because in that church they allowed women like Jezebel to be a part of their congregation. It seemed that these women were not just lay members, they actually had positions in the church. These women worked for the church and were given positions and instead of being a good example such as Abigail was, these women were influencing the younger girls in the wrong way as well as setting stumbling blocks in the paths of new comers.
The sad fact is, that message is for our church today — the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement! Isn’t it shameful to think that in our organisation we need to have a message like that given to us? But God never writes or gives us messages just for the sake of it.
You don’t realise how much of an influence you exert over the younger ones. Even though it may not seem like it, unfortunately, they do watch and imitate everything you do. If they see you dying your hair or wearing make-up, even though it might only be a tiny bit and hardly noticeable and you get away with it, your girls are watching you. And do you know that when there is no difference between you and other mums in the world soon there will be no difference between your girls and the girls of the world. But, just remember, GOD KNOWS.
So now, let us imagine something really wonderful. Let us imagine that we are all Abigails. Our eyes are continually looking upward to God and away from ourselves. When we look in the mirror in the morning, instead of saying, “Oh no, my hair is grey; I look so old,” we will smile and say, “Today I am going to put on meekness. Maybe I’ll add to it a calm and quiet spirit, and I think I’ll mix a little wisdom in along with some kind words and actions. Today my make-up artist is going to be Christ.”
And just imagine that when we walk into church and greet ALL the women, their faces are clean and natural, their hair its natural colour, their nails free from colour and polish.
“Whose adorning is that which Is the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit” just like the holy women of old. And do you know what? We women can be like that. Because Christ promised us that with His help we can do, how much? Just a little bit? He actually promises us that with His help we can do anything! How wonderful is that.
So women, young ladies and girls, let us take our banner which is sagging heavily and hold it straight and high for the Lord. It takes two hands to hold it high and it is impossible to hold it with one hand while the other is weighed down carrying all our cosmetics.
Remember that no sacrifice is too great for Jesus and that we want it to be said of us, we are women after the order of Christ, not of the world.
Just think how much better it would be for the ministers and Bible workers to be able to concentrate on saving souls from perishing in the world, and bringing them into the safety of His church, instead of having to spend precious time keeping worldliness out of the church.
It is interesting to note what the end results were for these two women.
Abigail ended up becoming the wife of one of the most famous kings of Israel, a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 25:39-42).
Jezebel ended up becoming food for some dogs. (2 Kings 9:30, 35-37).
Abigail’s story had a happy ending.
Jezebel’s story had a dreadful ending.
Which ending do we want?
I encourage each and every woman, young lady and girl, to search their heart; ask Jesus to come in and clean every bit of Jezebel out and help us to be more like the truly beautiful woman as was Abigail of old.
Then when Jesus comes He will find in our churches no Jezebels.
May God bless you all.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30
Have you ever thought about how many hairs you have on your head? What about how many hairs you lose each day?
There is an interesting article that was published in the Sunday Times, Jan 30, 2011 on how many hairs you lose on an average each day.
“100 is the number of hair strands we lose per day” according to this article.
It goes on to say the following:
“Excessive hair loss can be caused by sudden physical or emotional stress such as childbirth, illness, crash dieting or stress. These nutrients can improve your hair health:
Knowledge is power. The more we know of what it takes to look after our hair the better we can take care of it.
“The LORD is my rock. and my fortress, and my deliverer.” 2 Samuel 22:2
In the Bible God is sometimes called, “The Rock” — in other words, our help, our shield, our strength, our deliverer, our stronghold, and our Saviour. He will help us and will be our rock if we trust in Him, and do whatever He asks us to do.
Working with rocks is one of my passions. When I find the right sort of stone, I’ll cut it on the diamond saw and most of the time the results are outstanding, and bring me great satisfaction. I also enjoy learning about stones, where they came from, how they were formed and so-forth. I’m always looking for more things to learn about rocks.
What spiritual lessons can we learn from rocks? Well, Christianity and God are just like stones. When you are trying to tell someone about Jesus and they are not interested, they are looking on the outside of the stone. They see Christianity and God as a dirty, uninteresting stone. People need to be shown the inside of the stone, the wonderful things God has done, the things that He will do, and the provision of eternal life. Then, with God’s help, they will be fascinated and will want to find out as much as they can about Him.
Stones have taught me both physical and spiritual lessons. All we need to do is trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and do what He wants us to do, and NOT what WE think is best. In the Bible it says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”Proverbs 14:12
May God be our Rock. “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!” 2 Samuel 22:47 NKJV
Watermelon, which is also known as Citrullus lanatus, in the Cucurbitaceae family, is a plant with a unique fruit, that comes from the southern part of Africa.
The watermelon plant is especially known since it creates a fruit botanists call a pepo. This is a unique berry that features a thick rind and a strong centre. This type of berry is created through an inferior ovary.
An interesting thing about a watermelon is that it can be a male or female. A female watermelon is larger and sweeter while having fewer seeds. A male watermelon is smaller.
The gender of the fruit can be found by taking a look at the bottom side of the watermelon and looking at the ring that is in the opposite direction of the other circles. A male watermelon will have a small 19mm ring while a female watermelon will have a larger ring, about 25mm. This is important since females are sweeter and with less seeds.
Watermelons can grow to a variety of sizes. The 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records says that the largest watermelon grown weighed 262 pounds (119 kilograms).
There are many health benefits found in watermelon. Watermelon has no cholesterol or fat and contains vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as fibre and potassium. The potassium and vitamin C alongside lycopene and iron in the watermelon can all work to fight off fatigue.
This fruit may also assist in alleviating various conditions created by a number of health ailments. These include such common ailments as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, colon cancer and atherosclerosis.
Electrolytes that are lost in physical activities can be replaced through a watermelon. It can also maintain proper water balances in the cells and improve the metabolism in the cells. Watermelon is also great for sunburn and some women use it by applying the red fleshy part on their face. This replenishes and lightens the complexion.
The best thing about a watermelon is that all parts of the fruit can be eaten. This includes the rind and seeds. The largest watermelon producer today is China. The Chinese even fry the rind of the watermelon. It is amazing how many ways you can use the watermelon!
One Saturday in early spring Donny and Matthew were exploring in the woods near their home. They were looking for skunk cabbage plants … not for skunks.
Following the creek, they came across a skunk caught in a steel trap by its front foot. The two boys figured the trap had probably been set for muskrats, but it had caught a skunk instead. The skunk must have been searching for something to eat in the winter’s litter that had washed up along the water’s edge when it stumbled upon the trap.
Donny decided he’d try to free the skunk, but Matthew wasn’t too sure he wanted to get involved. As Donny slowly inched his way toward the skunk, Matthew stayed up on the bank, well out of the way … and held his breath.
“Watch out,” Matthew warned, barely talking out loud. “You’re going to be sorry, Donny.”
But Donny kept right on talking gently to the skunk. He finally got close enough to reach forward and close his hand around the trap. Meanwhile, the skunk had pulled as far away from Donny as the chain would allow, never taking its little black eyes off him. The trap had caught the skunk’s front paw just above the wrist, but the bones didn’t seem to be broken.
Moving very slowly, Donny grasped both sides of the trap. The skunk stayed perfectly still, but its black eyes watched every move. Now Donny was holding his breath, too. Slowly he pressed down with both hands until the spring catch released.
Suddenly the skunk’s leg came free and it tumbled backward because it had been pulling away the whole time. It quickly got back on its feet, but just stood there holding up its injured leg. It looked at Donny for a long time and then finally turned and hobbled away. In talking it over later, Donny and Matthew both felt this was the skunk’s way of saying, “Thank you.”
A skunk might be one of the last animals anyone would want to release from a trap. In fact, most people would leave it alone. But Donny was determined to free that trapped skunk. Some people might think that they are too bad for the Lord Jesus to save — that He would rather not bother with them. But that is not the case at all. Everyone is a sinner, and it doesn’t make any difference if you are a big sinner or a little sinner. The Bible tells us, “For there is no man that sinneth not” (1 Kings 8:46). The good news is that Jesus loves each one of us so much that He died on the cross, bearing the punishment for sin. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No matter how bad a person you might be, Jesus loves you and will save you from sin’s deadly trap. Will you let Him save you?
The skunk seemed to show its thanks to Donny. After you are saved, it will be such a relief to have your sins forgiven and you will have such peace that you will thank the Lord Jesus for the rest of your life.
As a teenager I used to really enjoy reading novels. These weren’t just any novels, but were so-called ‘good’ novels—the kind of ones that you buy from Bible book shops and that do have some Christian themes running through them. After a while I stopped reading novels as much and started watching more movies. Then I happened to stumble across some quotes from Sr White that made me think a little. I would like to share them with you. Many of you have probably already read them, but it doesn’t hurt to re-read them every now and then. Also maybe in this day and age, we should also apply these principles to ‘movies’? After all, back in Sr White’s day they didn’t have movies, DVD’S, TV, video games and computer games. What would she write today about these things?
“I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God, especially the young. In one scale were the thoughts and interest tending heavenward; in the other were the thoughts and interest tending to earth. And in this scale were thrown all the reading of storybooks, thoughts of dress and show, vanity, pride, etc. Oh, what a solemn moment! the angels of God standing with scales, weighing the thoughts of His professed children–those who claim to be dead to the world and alive to God.” 1
What a solemn thought that the angels are weighing up my thoughts. Am I alive to God?
“Parents would better burn the idle tales of the day and the novels as they come into their houses. It would be a mercy to the children. Encourage the reading of these storybooks, (or watching of movies?) and it is like enchantment. It bewilders and poisons the mind. Parents, I saw that unless you awake to the eternal interest of your children, they will surely be lost through your neglect. And the possibility that unfaithful parents will be saved themselves is very small.” 2
“Parents should endeavor to keep out of the home every influence that is not productive of good. In this matter some parents have much to learn. To those who feel free to read story magazines and novels I would say: You are sowing seed the harvest of which you will not care to garner. From such reading there is no spiritual strength to be gained. Rather it destroys love for the pure truth of the word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines, Satan is working to fill with unreal and trivial thoughts minds that should be diligently studying the word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.” 3
Note the quote below. Even books with religious sentiments and moral lessons are dangerous!
“Could a large share of the books published be consumed, a plague would be stayed that is doing a fearful work upon mind and heart. Love stories, frivolous and exciting tales, and even that class of books (or movies) called religious novels—books in which the author attaches to his story a moral lesson—are a curse to the readers. Religious sentiments may be woven all through a story-book, but, in most cases, Satan is but clothed in angel-robes, the more effectively to deceive and allure. None are so confirmed in right principles, none so secure from temptation, that they are safe in reading these stories.” 4
“The young are in great danger. Great evil results from their light reading. Much time is lost which should be spent in useful employment. Some would even deprive themselves of sleep to finish some ridiculous love story. (or watch a movie?) The world is flooded with novels (and movies?) of every description. Some are not of as dangerous a character as others. Some are immoral, low, and vulgar; others are clothed with more refinement; but all are pernicious in their influence. Oh, that the young would reflect upon the influence which exciting stories have upon the mind! Can you, after such reading, open the word of God and read the words of life with interest? Do you not find the book of God uninteresting? The charm of that love story is upon the mind, destroying its healthy tone, and making it impossible for you to fix your mind upon the important, solemn truths which concern your eternal interest. You sin against your parents in devoting to such a poor purpose the time which belongs to them, and you sin against God in thus using the time which should be spent in devotion to Him.” 5
“Christians are those who follow Christ. ‘Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you.’ Tenderness of conscience in regard to these amusements should never be called precision and narrowness of mind. How can Christians call that innocent which is a snare to the soul, which has led thousands in the road to certain ruin? I cannot believe a true follower of Christ will touch a card for amusement, nor read novels, nor attend balls and theaters. If they have learned of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, they will have disrelish for former pleasures and amusements. There will be possessed by the devoted Christian, a living principle in the soul, influencing the mind, employing the affections, and guiding the will, which will give force to the whole character. Their efforts will be to lead souls away from sinful pleasures to the path of holiness, by the bright reflection of their exemplary, blameless lives.” 6
“Men who are under the power of the evil one, are inspired by him to write overwrought fictitious stories, with which our world is flooded. In this they are fulfilling Satan’s own plan; for if left to itself, the mind naturally chooses such food, to the neglect of the important saving truths of God’s word. Our youth and children, and even those of mature age, should firmly pledge themselves to abstain from indulgence in reading the fascinating novels and sensational literature of the day. They delude the imagination, and fill the mind with such an amount of trash that there is no room for storing the sacred utterances of the prophets and apostles, who wrote as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit.” 7
“The press is now sending out books in great numbers, that teach the ignorant and unsuspecting how they may serve Satan. There are works breathing the poison of skepticism and infidelity. There are treatises on money-making, that fill thousands of minds with fancies and follies, that fire thousands with an insane desire to amass wealth. There are fascinating volumes, that portray with all the power of human eloquence the lives of those who have made fame their god. And outnumbering all other productions of the press, like the swarms of locusts that darkened the whole land, comes the flood of novels and romances, to cultivate in the youth a love-sick sentimentalism, to teach them that courtship and marriage are the great object of their existence, and to unfit them for the practical duties of a useful life.” 8
“In the Pacific Press an objectionable class of work has been taken in—novels and story books, which absorbed the minds of those who handled them, diverting their attention from the word of God. Some of the workers have become so infatuated by this cheap literature that they are mentally inebriated. The introduction of this class of matter destroys the spirituality of the office. The Lord has instructed me that the practice of reading many story-books (or watching movies?) means death to spirituality.” 9
“Years ago, reproof was given our editors in regard to advocating the reading of even such books as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Aesop’s Fables,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” Those who begin to read such works usually desire to continue to read novels. Through the reading of enticing stories they rapidly lose their spirituality. This is one of the principal causes of the weak, uncertain spirituality of many of our youth.”10
“I saw that young and old neglect the Bible. They do not make that book their study and their rule of life as they should. Especially are the young guilty of this neglect. Most of them are ready, and find plenty of time, to read almost any other book. But the word that points to life, eternal life, is not perused and daily studied. That precious, important book that is to judge them in the last day is scarcely studied at all. Idle stories have been attentively read, while the Bible has been passed by neglected.”11
“How are you to know that you are accepted of God? Study His word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This Book convinces of sin. It plainly reveals the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through His boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation.” 12
Below is an appeal from Sis White to stop spending time doing things that will give no mental or moral strength.
“Young friends, a knowledge of the Bible will help you to resist temptation. If you have been in the habit of reading storybooks, (or watching movies/tv) will you consider whether it is right to spend your time with these books, which merely occupy your time and amuse you, but give you no mental or moral strength? If you are reading them, and find that they create a morbid craving for exciting novels, if they lead you to dislike the Bible, and cast it aside, if they involve you in darkness and backsliding from God—if this is the influence they have over you, stop right where you are. Do not pursue this course of reading until your imagination is fired, and you become unfitted for the study of the Bible, and the practical duties of real life.” 13
After watching a movie, is it easy to sit down and focus and enjoy listening to a sermon, or study the Bible? Or does it seem too boring?
“Do not spend your time reading magazines and novels. (or watching movies/tv) Read your Bible. You have many temptations to meet and overcome. You have a great truth to proclaim. Only by a constant study of the word of God can you gain the strength needed for this work. Put novel-reading out of your lives. Let not the novels (or movies) appear upon your table or in your bookcase. You have none too much time in which to gain an understanding of what saith the Scriptures. The Lord wants the young men in His cause to stand where they are worthy of being trusted with sacred responsibilities.” 14
“Study the Word. Keep out of your house the miserable magazines; keep out of your house the novels. Take every penny that you would pay for these things to get the truth before the people. . . .” 15
How much does society today spend on media? How much money is wasted on movies, magazines, computer games and books? Not only is our time important, but what have we spent our money on?
“The Lord has shown me the danger of letting our minds be filled with worldly thoughts and cares. I saw that some minds are led away from present truth and a love of the Holy Bible by reading other exciting books; others are filled with perplexity and care for what they shall eat, drink, and wear. Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth, out after the world. In these things I saw great danger; for if the mind is filled with other things, present truth is shut out, and there is no place in our foreheads for the seal of the living God. I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that time can last but a very little longer. What leisure time we have should be spent in searching the Bible, which is to judge us in the last day. “ 16
I truly believe that it is Satan’s plan to keep our mind so full of things that are not important, that we do not even realise how soon Jesus is coming. What are we doing to prepare ourselves? Who gets our thoughts? Can we think of heavenly things while watching / reading things that are only entertaining? Are we thinking of heaven when we are playing computer games? Even Children’s cartoons are dangerous. What morals are they teaching the children? How many children love to sit there and read the Bible after watching a cartoon?
Speaking from experience, I know that it can be hard to give up these things. But I found that when I decided to get rid of all my novels and movies, I actually had to make an effort and throw them out. Then I prayed to God to help me overcome the desire to read and watch things that I shouldn’t. This also applies to music as well. I thank the Lord because He has truly been helping me these past couple of years. I no longer have the desire to watch all the things that I used to. Yes, occasionally, the desire does come back and Satan tries to tempt me, but God is faithful in that when I turn to Him and ask for help, He hears me. And I can honestly say that now I love to study the Bible, read Sis. White’s writings and even watch sermons, which I never used to like before. We, as Christians, need to encourage each other more. I am so thankful because I have a caring husband who is always very encouraging. No one is perfect, and this is just one thing that the Lord has been teaching me.
It is a rule that we become like what we behold. Are we beholding immorality, bad language, violence etc? I pray that we may begin to behold Christ instead, that by beholding Him we will be changed into his image.
Jesus is coming soon. Let’s encourage each other to get ready for His coming. If you really desire help from Him to put away things that are hindering your Christian experience claim the following verse.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 17
I believe that He will help you if you ask Him. Because He has promised it!!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”18
1 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 124.2
2 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 135.1
3 Adventist Home, pp 411.1
4 Messages to Young People, pp 272.1
5 Testimonies vol. 2, pp 236.1
6 Review and Herald Feb. 20, 1866 p22
7 Review and Herald Nov. 9, 1886 p12
8 Signs of the Times May 18, 1882 p25
9 Manuscript Releases vol. 6, pp 276.2
10 Manuscript Releases vol. 6, pp 280.2
11 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 134.3
12 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 163.2
13 Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp 92.2
14 Manuscript Releases, pp 282.3
15 Manuscript Releases, pp 283.2
16 Early Writings, pp 58.1
17 1 John 5:14,15
18 Philippians 4:8
Prayer is related to study. How? Well firstly, Jesus = Bread of Life = Bible. This means we are studying Jesus, in the form of a Book. He, in turn, transmits our prayers to the Father.
We speak to God through prayer; He speaks to us through the Bible. If we pray and don’t study, it’s as if we’re having a one-way conversation – we don’t get a response.
Before: we don’t know that we need God, so we search the Word.
Prayer: the Holy Spirit shows us God´s will and we realize we need Him.
After: our prayers are answered through more study of the Word.
To eat or chew is a physical action. In spiritual terms, physical action is to live what I study/believe. The thing is that while I chew it’s in my power to reject it and spit it out – therefore, if I want to eat Christ´s words I must swallow them, digest them and distribute them throughout my body so they become part of me.
NOTE: I must make the effort – no-one will come and feed me. I may chew and reject the food 100 times and then I’ll starve.
To live what we believe we must work, spread the gospel. This work brings us closer to Christ because we begin to understand His ministry.
When we teach others, we must study for ourselves and them, and so we stay spiritually alive. Sharing (especially the gospel message) makes us humble, which is another character trait of Jesus.
Prayer and study give us the power, the resources and the crucial information we need to teach others. If we want to give water we must get it from somewhere…
“…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14.
Keep studying, and remember to acknowledge your need. This tiny action – it doesn’t take long – may lead you to a perfect harmony with God. In this way you will live what you believe, and it will become easier for you to share the message.
It’s working for me; I know it can work for you.
What does this expression mean?
It is a common expression meaning “undecided;” neither for or against something.
How is it that people sit on the fence? Why is it that many people are undecided about whether or not to give their hearts to the Lord?
Personal reason: I thought that I would be restricted if I gave my heart to God – that while I was in the world I was free.
Perhaps others feel they will lose wealth, influence, friends, opportunities, etc. But they don’t go to the point of total rejection of God for fear of losing heaven.
But we need to understand something. THERE IS NO FENCE! Either you belong to one or the other.
“We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defence against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end.” The Desire of Ages, 324.1
Young people, I hope that by reading these articles on the Youth Challenger website you will be inspired to make your decision for Christ. As you read the testimonies of others may the Lord speak to your heart personally. There is no fence for you to sit on, so make sure you belong to Christ today!
Human beings have an extraordinary ability to influence each other. We are social creatures and we all want to be liked and accepted by each other. None of us wants to be thought of as queer or different from other people. So we have a tendency to change our habits and ideas to match the habits and ideas of our equals, or peers. That way we won’t stand out from the crowd. This tendency is perfectly natural for us, but is it good or bad? Well, that depends on whether the “crowd” is doing the right or the wrong thing.
Peer pressure is really the power of influence. Influence can greatly intensify the temptation to do the wrong thing, but it can also be a tremendous force for good. If our peers are influencing us to do the right thing, then we can gratefully accept their help. We need lots of friends like that. In fact, Jesus used the power of good influence when He sent His disciples out two by two. However, if our peers are trying to make us do something wrong, then there is only one way for a Christian to react. “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Proverbs 1:10
That is easier said than done. We all struggle with peer pressure, and some youth are more vulnerable than others. Researchers have designed many studies to find out exactly what makes children and youth bend to peer pressure, and why some are more resistant than others. The results of one study showed that the young people who have a better resistance to peer pressure are those who were given love and attention by their parents and who were taught to think for themselves. That is not much help, though, because we have no control over how our parents bring us up. But there is good news. Anyone can develop the skills to withstand peer pressure to do the wrong thing, whether our parents taught them to us or not. Researchers and educators call these “competence skills”.
Competence skills are really character skills. They include:
The first place to go is to God Himself. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether something is right or wrong. But if your heart belongs to God, and you are familiar with what the Bible says, you can immediately spot the difference. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11. The word of God can be like a light in your life, distinctly showing up the right and wrong, so you never need to be in doubt.
The only real self-worth comes from God. We can only have a real knowledge of the worth of our souls when we realise that Jesus thinks so much of us that He gave up heaven to die for us. On the other hand, we can forget our Creator and adopt the popular self-esteem idea from the world. It comes from confidence in our own abilities and in the strength of our character. But this is like leaning on a broken wall. Sooner or later, Satan tempts you in your weakest spot and you give into something you know is wrong. You then find out that you are not as strong as you thought you were, and your self-esteem breaks into a thousand pieces. In contrast, the self-worth that comes from God lasts forever and it works just as well when we are weak and faulty as it does when we are strong. It is not based on how strong we are, but on how strong Jesus is. He was once a youth, and He can give us the strength to resist the wrong and to do the right.
Self-management is the skill of self-control. It is the ability to make a decision based on principle rather than whether or not it suits us. The principle motivating most youth is, “If it feels good, do it!”. Secular life itself cannot be governed by this idea, let alone moral decisions. If you owned a tomato farm worth 5 million dollars a year, who would you employ to pick your tomatoes; people that came to work when they felt like it? Or would you employ pickers who moved from principle, who were ready to pick through hot or cold weather, rain or shine? If it is so important to make decisions based on principle in the working world, how much more important is it when your decisions involve your character and destiny?
We need to be able to manage ourselves, and this is something that takes a lot of practice. Every day we make many small decisions. If we determine to always choose the right, regardless of our feelings, even in little things, then we are forming habits of uncompromising obedience to God. This practice will prepare us to make the right decision then we are under pressure to do wrong.
Assertiveness in refusing to do something wrong or harmful comes from three things; a knowledge of right and wrong; a healthy, God-given self-worth; and the ability to make the right decision – even when people around us are making the wrong decision. If we know we are worth something, even if our friends sneer at us; if we have confidence in our beliefs and know that God is at our side with as much strength for us as we will ever need; then we can be assertive and tactfully refuse to do the wrong.
When you are older and you look back on your youth, do you think you will ever regret the times you stood firm and did the right thing, whatever your friends thought at the time? And don’t you think you will remember with remorse the times when you have been weak and given in? The best time to learn habits of strength and virtue is right now in your youth. My prayer is for you to resolve right now that from this time forward, you will never make decisions of which to be ashamed. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing or your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
“In ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ there is a character called Pliable. Youth, shun this character. Those represented by it are very accommodating, but they are as a reed shaken by the wind. They possess no will power. Every youth needs to cultivate decision. A divided state of the will is a snare, and will be the ruin of many youth. Be firm, else you will be left with your house, or character, built upon a sandy foundation…. Manifest decision at any cost…. Those who would walk in the path cast up for the chosen of the Lord, must not be swayed in matters of conscience by men who have often been zealous for the wrong. They must show moral independence, and must not be afraid to be singular….
“We must free ourselves from the customs and bondage of society, that when the principles of our faith are at stake, we shall not hesitate to show our colours, even though we are called singular for so doing. Keep the conscience tender, that you may hear the faintest whisper of the voice that spoke as never man spoke. Let all who would wear the yoke of Christ show an inflexible purpose to do the right because it is right. Keep the eye fixed on Jesus, inquiring at every step, Is this the way of the Lord? The Lord will not leave any one who does this, to become the sport of Satan’s temptation… “Do not imitate men. Study your Bibles, and imitate Christ.” Our High Calling, p. 341.
The youth from Auckland, New Zealand had discussions on peer pressure during one of their Young People’s Meetings. The following points are the combined thoughts of the three groups that took part. The questions that prompted these thoughts were based on What, When, Where, Why, and How.
By putting the two together, what do you get?
What sort of pressure could you get from your peers?
How could your peers pressure you?
Why would your peers want to pressure you?
What are some situations in which peer pressure could happen to you or your friends?
How should you respond to peer pressure and what would you do when you have to deal with it?
“Weak, pliable, easily led,many men and women fail utterly of becoming whatGod desires them to be.Those who are destitute of decision of character cannot make a success of the daily work of overcoming.”Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 165
On the 27th of January, 2008, the Lord, by His infinite love and grace, presented me with the most wonderful blessing from Heaven upon human beings. It was a nice and calm day. The river seemed to be still. The fowls swimming on its waters seemed to be announcing the great event to come some hours later. Within my heart was this assurance: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus was there to bury the old me and raise me to a new life. What a wonderful miracle it is for him who surrenders all to the King of Life! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). I am sure you guessed what I am talking about. You’re right, that was the day in which I was baptised. Let me tell you how everything happened.
I was brought up in a religious environment. Throughout the years I followed my parents in Pentecostal churches. The Lord was so merciful to me that since a very young age, about seven or eight years old, I knew, somehow, that there was something so special in Jesus that I really wanted to find out what it was. Later I came to discover that it was the love of our Master for a fallen race that was drawing me to His caring arms.
Thirsty still, a bit confused and not very happy with the religious teachings presented to me so far, I started praying to the Lord to show me if I really was walking in the right path under His approval. I was sure I was though, even amid doubts and disappointments. Even without being conscious of it, I was searching for the living waters that would quench my thirst forever. It was in this scenario that my mother talked to me about a little group of people who had recently visited her. I became interested in talking to them, for I thought mum was at risk of being deceived by some false messengers. That was the first answer to my prayers and the beginning of a mysterious work. Mum had gotten in touch with a group of colporteurs from the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement church in a small town in Brazil.
I learned almost all the basic doctrines of the Adventist faith and soon became a member of the church. My immature faith and age, as well as a very self-confident style of life, led me to trust in my own competence and intelligence to deal with trials and temptations. What I didn’t know was that only a supernatural power from Heaven would protect me from the surprises of adolescence and transition to the adult age. That was a lesson that Providence was about to teach me, even through bitter trials and hard experience. After some time I was no longer a member of the church and was uniting myself with my lovely wife—though out of the church.
The beginning of this new life was marked by a mixture of care, something that we used to call ‘love’, and a lack of patience and understanding untold. Many times I thought that I couldn’t handle the situation anymore. One thing was very clear: my wife loved me, not my religion. By that time I was trying to come back to the way of the Lord and expected that she would follow me. Both of us were very confused about our own feelings toward each other and a future for a healthy relationship was very obscure. I knew what I had to do to fix it; I had to run quickly to Jesus and beg His pardon, mercy and a miracle to take me away from that tempestuous sea and darkness I was living in, to His glorious light and resting peace. I was in need of Jesus more than ever, even though I was not so aware of it.
In order to accomplish His mysterious plan for me, God was straightening my ways by permitting me to go through trials, difficulties and bitter disappointments, with my self nourished by a life of cherished sins. Many times I heard the merciful and loving voice of the Master calling loud and distinctly: “Come My son while time worketh on thy behalf”. This was very clear to me when I had a horrible car crash and only got some little scratches out of it, among many other situations. The Lord was treating me patiently and with great love. “Come my son”, was the most wonderful message that Providence whispered in my ears every now and then. These warnings led me to seek God’s protection and forgiveness. At that time I started attending the Sabbath meetings again, and gradually more frequently. Soon my wife and I left our home country to live in Japan.
What a holy and caring Father we have! The future ahead was full of promises of a very successful new era in my life. But it was in that far and strange nation that our loving Master and friend taught me the most wonderful and merciful lessons of His love. I had already got in touch with our church in Japan and was attending the meetings regularly, but my wife was not. She still opposed my religious beliefs.
However, with very basic knowledge of the new culture and language, and oppressed by ungodly people who made very plain my reality as a ‘foreigner’ in their country, there was no room for my pride, self-confidence or vain self-gratification. The bitter experience had already started to take place. Disappointment after disappointment with myself were now so frequent—part of my daily life. Amid tears I met my misery and dependence on Jesus in turning my useless life into something acceptable and in clearing my sins away. In that time I realised that there was nothing that I could do to present myself holy before the Father, nothing in myself could recommend me to heaven. All I could see was a wasted life without satisfaction and with no salvation. What a sad reality! What needless pain I bore!
In such despair I requested a rebaptism in the church in Japan and started having Bible studies with our brethren there. Notwithstanding, precious lessons I was not acquainted with were still to be taught. Even though I was living an apparently holy life and judged to possess enough knowledge of the sacred truths, God knew my heart and my ways far better than I and made me realise I was not ready. After nearly three years living in Japan I had plans to go to England to finish my studies. By that time, bitter experiences had shown me that I must trust in God thoroughly, surrender all my life into God’s hands and accept everything that the wisdom of Providence had prepared for me. I prayed earnestly that the will of God would be done. On the 1st of December 2006 I flew to Perth, Australia, instead.
The church received me with gladness and brotherly love. Several months after my arrival in Perth, my wife also came to Australia, and to my surprise, joined me in the battle for the crown of glory. That was God’s promise that the time of bitter trials had been abbreviated, for the Lord knew I could no longer bear such a depressing life. Joyfully I attended the meetings every week, and with great pleasure I continued the Bible studies with the responsible Bible worker. The miraculous revelation of God’s will for my life and His holy providence appeared as the greatest demonstration of love for a sinful soul. The walk in God’s path was not an easy task though; tears did not cease in crying for deliverance and guidance. By an act of love and mercy, through clear messages of salvation and pity, our Master led me to the baptismal waters on the on the 27th of January, 2008.
Jessica was in her mid teens when she heard about courtship. It sounded good after what she’d just been through. She had just broken up with someone who appeared to be a real loser. Then she found a book, all about courtship and letting God run your love life. At first she had been sceptical, but the more she read, the more she wanted to give it a chance. She hadn’t planned on the friendship going anywhere, but things had just happened. She had felt that she was being a good Christian witness to this unbelieving guy.
The fact that Jessica was such a nice, innocent Christian girl had made her more exciting for him to keep chasing. Before Jess had known it, she was emotionally involved. When she finally called it off, she had been shocked as she watched the guy she had fallen for go from one girl to another just to use them. Not long after, there had been another guy that asked Jess out. This guy was different. He was of a similar faith to Jess—although not of the same church, but pretty similar. He seemed to have a fair bit going for him.
Things had started out well, but it soon became evident that he didn’t have the same ideas she did. Even though they were of a similar faith, the few differences had become points of tension. He had also tried every opportunity to wear her down on her ideas of what was proper in a relationship.
Within a short time this relationship had broken up as well. Jess wondered what was going wrong. Why this heartbreak? She dreamed of meeting prince charming, but it seemed like it would stay at that—just a dream! That’s when she read the book on courtship. Maybe God really is interested in this part of my life, she thought.
Around this time life got more busy, and Jess started thinking more about where she was going. She decided that she had better do something about a decision she had put off for a long time. She hadn’t yet made a public commitment to God by baptism.
Jess had put this off for so long because, well—wouldn’t life be boring once you made that kind of stand? She thought she would have to be re- ally good after that and wouldn’t be able to have much fun.
The decision had been put off for a couple of years. Time went by. Finally Jess felt so convicted she needed to be baptised, that she decided to risk having a boring life. She would commit her life to God. Little did she know what was ahead. The real fun was about to begin.
Not long after making her big decision, Jess met some new friends. One of them was a cute guy named David. At first she didn’t think much about him, but as time went on, her appreciation of him grew. It didn’t take long for her to realize that Dave was all she had ever dreamed of, and more.
Jess didn’t dare even think that this would be more than just a friendship. It was all too good to ever happen to her. So she decided to pray and leave it at that.
Unbeknown to Jess, Dave was thinking the same thing about her. He started pray- ing too, and getting to know her family. They spent about a year getting to know each other in normal life settings. Neither one really knew what the other was think- ing. Neither did the rest of the world, because they still treated each other just like they did any of their other friends.
Dave asked his family what they thought of Jess. He asked his minister. Meanwhile, Jess was getting input from her family too. Dave and Jess wrote to each other, chatted occasionally and the more they got to know each other the more they seemed to get on.
It was one evening after dinner that Dave said he wanted to talk to Jess alone. Her heart fluttered, as this was really unusual! He told her he had talked with her dad and wanted to know how things stood with her. This meeting ended up being the beginning of a close and special time of courtship.
The months that followed were ones of happiness for Jess and Dave. They shared and learned lots about each other. They both continued to pray and ask God to guide them.
The special day came as a surprise to Jess, and she joyfully responded with a defi- nite “yes” when he asked the big question. Then they knelt down and asked God to bless them and to help them honour Him.
Things that helped make this relationship different were the principles they followed. They decided to keep themselves for each other for they were married.
This meant “hands off.” They protected each other by not allowing themselves to be in any compromising situations. On their wedding day they kissed—for the first time. They kept God at the centre of their relationship, by learning about His principles for courtship and marriage. They read through the book Adventist Home and then shared together what they were learning and how they wanted to implement this in their lives. David and Jessica have been happily married for years. If you ask them today what has been their secret of happiness, they’ll tell you it was putting God first.
They also believe they have the best marriage on the planet. But there are many more just like them, all of whom have learned that the One who made marriage gives the best directions on how to get off to a good start.
I’m sure that everyone reading this likes getting gifts. It’s almost as much fun to give gifts. Have you ever thought of friendship as being a gift that you can give to someone? In the following story, Jason learned that age doesn’t affect the giving of this gift.
“Upon arriving in our new home in Kentucky, my seven-year-old son Jason decided to explore the neighbourhood. He was back within the hour proclaiming that he had made some new friends.
‘Good. Are they boys or girls?’ I asked ‘One is a boy and one is a girl,’ he replied.
‘That’s great,’ I said. ‘How old are they?’ ‘Mom,’ my son replied, almost shocked.
‘That would be very rude to ask.’
I was puzzled at his response. About an hour later, he was back.
‘Mom!’ my son shouted through the screen door. ‘I found out how old my new friends are. The girl is 65 and the boy is 70.’1 Many has to be experienced to be understood. Friendship is a gift, one that is tied with heartstrings. It defies age, time, and distance. It conquers social status and family feuds. It is two hearts with one pulse.
We have been given many examples of friendship in the Bible. You may be able to think of some right now.
For example, think of David and Jonathan. David had been anointed as the next king of Israel because of Saul’s sins. Then David came to the palace, and met the king’s son, Jonathan. How would you feel seeing the rival to your throne in front of you? How did Jonathan react? It is written that “…Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”2 Not only did they make a covenant, but Jonathan also gave David a gift, his robe, sword, bow, and girdle. At this time, this was a very expensive gift, as only kings’ sons had swords.
The Bible goes on to tell us that Jonathan delighted in David, and warned him of his father’s threats to his life. Unfortunately this story ends sadly, as Jonathan was killed in battle with the Philistines. When David was told of Jonathan’s death, he wept bitterly. The Bible says that he fasted and wept a whole day for him. And David wrote a song about him: “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleas- ant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”3 “…the name of Jonathan is treasured in heaven, and it stands on earth a witness to the existence and the power of unselfish love.”4
You may say, how can I have friends?
The Bible gives us a very simple but profound solution to this question. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”5 For a few years I found it very hard to get friends, mostly because I was shy, and thought that people thought I was stupid. But when I tried being friendly to them, I found that most people were willing to be friends with me. Wanting to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit. It takes work to be friends with someone, taking time to be with them, talking to them, giving little gifts, etc. But be sure that you will have friends. “Everyone will find companions or make them. And just in proportion to the strength of the friendship will be the amount of influence which friends will exert over one another for good or for evil. All will have associates and will influence and be influenced in their turn.”6
Our Parents – Do you think it is possible to be friends with your parents? Parents, do you want to be friends with your children? As I grew up, I lived in an isolated area, and it was difficult for me to have friends, so of necessity I turned to my parents for friendship. Even to this day, I am not sorry for that time. I learned to be friends with my parents before anybody could make me think they were stupid or old-fashioned. I told them what bothered me, what I needed help with, and what I enjoyed. I believe this was the original intention of God, when the instruction was given to the Hebrews that they were to teach their children at all times (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). I am also very thankful that I had parents who were willing to be friends with me; they were not too busy to listen to what I needed to say.
Parents, you would save yourselves years of heart-ache, if you would only take the time now to be friends with your children. “Teach them to make you their confidant. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys.” 7 “Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship.” 8 You might be surprised to realise just how much your children want you to be friends with them. And if you think that you don’t have time for this sort of thing, then you should never have taken that responsibility upon yourself.
Brothers/Sisters – As children growing up, my sister and I had a very interesting friendship. Most of the time we were quite happy to play and do our schoolwork together. But sometimes a very perverse spirit got into both of us, and because we knew our mum hated us arguing, we would find anything and everything to argue about. Sometimes we fought just for the sake of fighting. I must say that with most brothers and sisters, this verse is quite true, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”9 But it doesn’t need to be the case. Now my sister and I get along a lot better, but that may be because I don’t live at home any more. We look back at those times and think how stupid we were to act like that.
Husband/Wife – In the very beginning, God saw that it was not good for a man to be alone, therefore He gave him a person that could be his closest friend. God designed that this friendship would be the closest that human beings can experience. “Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true looking for someone who could be this kind of friend to me. Through a friend, the Lord gave me Csongi. We started writing to each other, and our friendship grew. Now that we are married, this friendship is stronger than ever.
It is especially important that nothing be allowed to weaken or break this friendship. Never dwell on the things that your wife/husband may have done that hurt you, and never tell these things to others. The devil could one day use this to convince you that you made a mistake in marrying this person.
Talk to each other about everything. Be prepared to listen to what the other has to say. These little things can keep the love and friendship strong for a lifetime.
Friendship with people who don’t believe the way you do could cause you to give up everything you believe in. The Bible tells us “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”11
Is a friendship with someone who doesn’t care what God thinks really so important to us that we would be willing to risk our friendship with God? When they want you to do something you know is wrong, to which friendship do you keep allegiance? It’s easy to do what earthly friends want, because we can see them.
If you want to keep your friendship with God strong, you are better off having friends who also want to be friends with
God. “Better than all the friendship of the world is the friendship of Christ’s redeemed.”12
“The best friend to have is Jesus…” the hymn tells us, and how true this is. Who can understand everything that you are going through better than the One who came to this earth to save you. He has overcome all things so that you can have the same victory.
“…we need to learn the art of trusting our very best Friend. …Begin now to fix your minds more firmly upon Jesus…”13
“…why not choose Him now as our most loved and trusted friend, our best and wisest counselor.”14 He is waiting for you, He wants to call you His friend, He wants to be as an elder brother to you.
Friendship is a gift, a gift that both people in this world and Jesus want to give to you. It is also a gift that you can give to someone else. Here are some friendship gifts that you can give to your friends.
May each one of us tie our gift of friendship with heartstrings.
I opened my eyes, took a deep breath and stretched. It’s an interesting feeling, waking up. For a few moments, it feels like your mind is blank—like a baby’s mind ready to be filled with knowledge. Anyhow, there I was lying on my bed adjusting my thoughts to a fresh new day. I turned my head towards the window. It was still dark. The clock on my bedside flashed 4:55am. Suddenly, my pleasant experience turned sour.
Those brief moments of peace were abruptly disturbed by memories of the previous night. I had skipped my evening worship and sat up late watching a movie on television. By the time it finished I was exhausted and I went to bed with a heavy heart, troubled with guilt. Upon wak- ing up the next morning, my fresh new thoughts were spoiled by flash- backs of violence and immorality. The clock hit 5:00am and the alarm went off, making me jump. Now I was facing my TO DO list for the day—I had to be at work by 6:00am.
It was a bad start to the day but I deter- mined not to be late so I quickly hopped out of bed, threw on some clothes and walked out to my car. The sun was rising and I watched as it turned the morning dew to ice on my windscreen. The icy breeze made me shiver. My thin jacket wasn’t warm enough on this winter morning. But I didn’t care so much about freez- ing. I felt that my heart was colder than the ice on my car. Sin had chilled my faith; my mind was numb with guilt. I tried vainly to comfort myself with thoughts of the peace I enjoyed when Christ was near.
I reproached myself on the way to work. “Why did you have to watch that movie? You fool! You big fool! Why couldn’t you resist?” No answer came. I felt I was the weakest fool on the planet. Then I consoled myself with thoughts like, “You only watched one movie. People watch them everyday. There are worse people in this planet than movie watchers!” I felt better—but it didn’t last long. I knew better.
It was this high and low experience that marked my early walk with the Lord. Iwould be near to the Lord one day but a couple of days later I would, sadly, fall under temptation. Sabbaths were a high time. It was easy for me to be a Christian on Sabbath. I was fed spiritually most of the day, and it was refreshing. I remember thinking, after hearing a great sermon, “Wow, this will keep me now for a few days”. The same thing happened when we had a really good Sabbath School. I would often ponder about the possibility of having victory after victory. How attractive it seemed to me—but how to get it? That was the question. This continued for a number of months, but thankfully, things were about to change.
My church was putting on a missionary training program in the new year, so I decided to go. One day, while I was at missionary college, another student and I were digging a hole in search of a leaking water pipe. As we dug, the conversation turned to the subject of personal worship. He mentioned something that stunned me. It was good though; like finding the missing piece in a thousand piece puzzle. It just made so much sense. He spoke of the importance of personal morning and evening worship as though his whole life depended on it—a new concept for me.
I wasn’t totally ignorant about personal devotion. I normally knelt next to my bed and ‘said my prayers’ before going to sleep. It was usually part of the daily routine. My evening prayers were often very brief, however, and as for my morning prayers, they weren’t much longer. We dug and talked that day, dug and talked, and the more we dug and talked the more I understood the value of personal devotion. My friend asked, “Do you realize that personal worship will prepare you to face the day? Do you have personal worship before we worship together?” I had to admit that I didn’t. God was doing some digging of His own in my heart that day.
I decided to try out my friend’s advice. Next morning I woke up half an hour earlier, hard though it was, and asked the Lord for His presence, being determined that He would hear my prayer in Christ. During this time, I felt a new and living power come to me through the study of the Word of God. I knew the Lord was near, giving me life.
Soon it was 7am, time for our morning worship. I walked out of my dorm feeling at peace with God. I was looking forward to facing the day. I walked towards our meeting place with something to share—the joy of an abiding Saviour.
That night I communed with my own heart upon my bed and was still, just like David wrote in Psalms 4:4. Many things happened that day and I briefly thought about them. Did I do the best for God? Was there anything I could have done better? Did I offend anyone? Could I have said anything to help someone? I talked with God as to a friend and listened to His voice speaking to my soul. Confessing my sins, I went to sleep, sure of the pardoning grace of Christ.
When morning came, I opened my eyes. To my surprise I woke up singing a hymn! Not out loud, but I could hear the song in my heart. I was singing the hymn, “Nearer my God to Thee”. I smiled with joy and thanked the Lord for such a pleasant rest and His wake up call. I knew what had happened; I fell asleep in my Saviour’s hands and I woke up in His arms.
I have since then woken up many times praising the Lord with hymns. It’s like the Lord is saying to me, “I have cared for you during the night, and now I have prepared your heart to worship Me”. Your soul wants nothing else but to spend that quality time with Him first thing in the morning. Com
During this time, the question that concerned me most was, “what makes a season of worship successful?” I began to realize that it’s really quite simple. By the end of my time spent with God, I had to be certain of four things, as found in God’s Word:
Today, I know that living for Christ is a daily process of surrender. But this yielding to Christ should not only happen in the morning and evening—when Christ is first and last; it should happen throughout the day, that He may be best in everything. It is a moment by moment surrender. This places us under the care of God. When in danger of forgetting Him, His Spirit never fails to remind us of the choice we made to serve Him, assuring us that His grace is sufficient. His grace received today assures us of more abundant grace tomorrow, but it all depends on something.
Read carefully these next few words, especially the underlined ones, “…the gifts of Jesus are ever fresh and new. The feast that He provides for the soul never fails to give satisfaction and joy. Each new gift increases the capacity of the receiver to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of the Lord. He gives grace for grace. There can be no failure of supply. If you abide in Him, the fact that you receive a rich gift today insures the reception of a richer gift tomorrow.” (Desire of Ages p. 148)
Tomorrow morning, will you open your eyes with a song in your heart? Will you say with David, “The LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life?” (Psalms 42:8)