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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Are you tired of being alone?


Ecclesiastes 4: 9 “Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.”
Who, here, at one time or another has not felt alone?  I can tell you I am definitely tired of feeling alone.  For anyone who has never experienced deep soul crushing loneliness I would ask that you still stay tuned in because chances are that you know someone or you will know someone who suffers silently from loneliness.  This loneliness can also be manifest as depression, but it can be manifest by the fake smile of the person sitting right next to you.  A person can feel lonely even if they are in a crowd of likeminded people such as a church or a big family with spouses and kids.  One does not have to be completely alone to feel lonely.  The converse is also true just because a person is all by themselves does not mean that they suffer from loneliness.  Loneliness can stem from a lack of physical, mental or spiritual connection or any combination of these.  For those that may be wondering how you can help someone like me the answer is not completely straight-forward.  Yes you can remind us that we are not alone. That you and God have our backs.  This may suffice for a little while, Hugs also help.  No I’m not asking for those things personally, but I rarely pass up a hug if offered!  The biggest problem is that this is a daily battle.  One that I must do the work of looking to Jesus, for myself.  It is when I take my eyes off of Jesus that the loneliness takes hold.  There are also varying degrees of loneliness; however self medicating with inappropriate physical closeness, drugs-legal or otherwise- or alcohol only masks the real deeper connection that is longed for.  Knowing this intellectually and remembering this in the moments of crisis are two completely different things.  So if you have suffered with feelings of loneliness you are in good company .J  Today I would like to explore through the Bible three of the central figures who experienced loneliness.  But I will not leave you there I will also share with you promises from God’s Word that you can cling to in times of great loneliness,
So let’s look at some Biblical examples.  Our first example is Moses.  Now Moses had his brother, sister, wife and kids but Numbers 11:14, says, “14 I am not able to carry all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.” Heavy is a good word to describe the sensation of loneliness.  Verse 15 goes on to say, “So if this is the way you are going to deal with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”  Just kill me…Moses would rather be dead that to be so alone. In verse 17 God gives help to Moses in the form of 70 men to help him with the load of work Moses was trying to do.  70 men!  To me this means two things; one, Moses was trying to do the work of 70+ men all alone. And two, 70 people is about the size of an average church.  Our little church group runs about 20-30 people a week approximately.  That means that we need all hands on deck to be doing God’s work.  Not one person should be doing the work or carrying the load all by themselves.  I think that our group does a pretty good job at working together.  Of course there will always be room to grow. 
                Another person in the Bible I would like to look at for a minute is Job.  Let’s look at a few texts in the book of Job. Job 1:15-19 Job 1:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 16While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, the fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 17While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.  18While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:  19And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.  We come to the next chapter and Job is stricken with boils.  His wife speaks in Job 2:9 “Then said his wife unto him; dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.  Verse 10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”  So Job had lost just about everything except four servants and his wife. He is in pain and alone.  I say alone because his wife doesn’t understand him and his servants that escaped to tell him the bad news seem to disappear from the story at this point.  His friends come to “help” him.  And we have all heard this story enough to know that their “help” was no help at all.  In fact in Job 7:16 Job says, “I loathe it;(speaking of his life) I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.”  Job would rather be alone than to have well meaning friends spouting well meaning words.  I take this story to mean that sometimes just being silent with someone who is hurting is better than all the platitudes in the world.  Yes, we all know that Jesus is the answer.  Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV) “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” ETC. Etc.  But sometimes the head knowledge is not what we need in the moment.
                The last person in the Bible that I would like to focus on is the person of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior Himself.  Jesus, we know was never married or had kids, so in that aspect he was alone.  His earthly father Joseph must have died some time during his 33 ½ years on this earth because he was not at the cross when Jesus died or Jesus would not have said to John in John 19: 26 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”  If Joseph were still alive this would not have been necessary as Joseph would have taken care of his wife himself.  Jesus siblings for the most part didn’t believe in Him. In Desire of Ages we read, “The sons of Joseph were far from being in sympathy with Jesus in His work. The reports that reached them in regard to His life and labors filled them with astonishment and dismay….His brothers heard of this, and also of the charge brought by the Pharisees that He cast out devils through the power of Satan. They felt keenly the reproach that came upon them through their relation to Jesus. They knew what a tumult His words and works created, and were not only alarmed at His bold statements, but indignant at His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees. They decided that He must be persuaded or constrained to cease this manner of labor, and they induced Mary to unite with them, thinking that through His love for her they might prevail upon Him to be more prudent.”DA Page 321 chapter 33. Entitled, “Who Are My Brethren?”  [This chapter is based on Matt. 12:22-50; Mark 3:20-35.]  Even in the end all of His disciples left Him alone. Mark 14:50 (KJV) “And they all forsook him, and fled.”  Yet Jesus was continually in a throng of people, everyone clamoring to touch him or to receive from some miracle or another.  Jesus had to make time for Himself to be alone with His Father.  Jesus is the one who gave us our example.  Matthew 14: 23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” Jesus even though He was alone in this world knew that in reality He was never truly alone. For He said in John 16: 32  Hebrews 4:15 (KJV) “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
           There are many other examples that I could share like the lepers had to live alone outside the camp and never have human touch again. Leviticus 13: 46All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”  Jesus reached even these men when He lived here on the earth.  Matthew 8:3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  Jesus touched Him!  We don’t know how long it had been since this man had been without another human touch, but can you imagine that the first human touch he had received was from the hand of Jesus?  David also wrestled with loneliness see Psalms 102:1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.  9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.  11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.”  Even Elijah, who was taken to heaven, felt alone." 1 Kings 19:14And he said, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” But God tells him in verse 18 “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
           Jesus has given us many, many promises of his love for us and His assurance that He will never leave us. From the very beginning the Godhead knew that it was not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2: 18And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”  God is in the business of helping us humans to not be alone. Psalms 147:3He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” My favorite promise from Jesus is found in John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  God will not leave us alone.Another one of my favorites is: Romans 8:15 (KJV) “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  When the Bible says Abba that is like saying  “Daddy”.  The connotation here is of a little child’s innocence and unconditional love for his/her dad.  I can picture myself curled up in my dad’s lap listening to him tell me a story.  This picture brings me great comfort when I can think of God like that instead of as a cruel judge. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  God does not promise that we will never be alone or lonely on this earth but He does promise that He will always be with us.

           God’s word is a living, breathing document that holds relevant content for each of us today.  Whether our issue is loneliness, or any particular specific sin God gives us plenty of evidences of His love and grace.  Hebrews 12: 1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
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Ecclesiastes 4:9

Friday, December 30, 2016

Swaddling Cloths

http://hethathasanear.com/Birth.html
     So I heard about this article on the radio one day and as I pondered it all of these other texts and thoughts rushed into my head so I thought I ought to write them down.  The article basically talks about how new born lambs, that were going to be the sheep meant for sacrifice, were wrapped up in these strips of cloths to protect them from getting hurt because the sacrifice had to be without blemish.  “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:” Exodus 12:5 KJV http://bible.com/1/exo.12.5.KJV Have you ever watched something, anything being born? It is a filthy bloody mess.  These cloths, I imagine, since they were used on newly born sheep, became blood stained, and were potentially still filthy.  Since Mary had baby Jesus in a barn and since they were poor it could be reasonable to assume that Mary and Joseph had found these cloths in that barn. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7 KJV http://bible.com/1/luk.2.7.KJV
     Two thoughts popped into my head at this thought.  The first, was that the shepherds would then know exactly what this “sign” was. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:8‭-‬12 KJV      http://bible.com/1/luk.2.8-12.KJV‬‬ Jesus had come as our sacrifice and would take away our filthy rags by taking them upon Himself!  The second thought then, was of course, about our sins being as those filthy, bloody rags. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Isaiah 64:6 KJV http://bible.com/1/isa.64.6.KJV
     So then I got to thinking about our filthy rags and God’s promises to give us His robe of righteousness  and more texts and stories from the Bible started coming into my mind.  Like this one in Ezekiel 16:3-10 “And say, Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.  And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.  None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.  And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.  I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.  Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God , and thou becamest mine.  Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.  I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.” Ezekiel 16:3‭-‬10 KJV ‬http://bible.com/1/ezk.16.3-10.KJV‬
     Then this story also came into my mind. “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:   And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.   Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.   For many are called, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:11‭-‬14 KJV  http://bible.com/1/mat.22.11-14.KJV ‬‬ “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”  Revelation 3:5 KJV  http://bible.com/1/rev.3.5.KJV
     But the stories just kept popping into my head; because not only did Jesus take our sinful rags and give us His righteousness but also when Jesus died something else amazing happened: “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:  He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.  And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,” Matthew 27:57‭-‬59 KJV  http://bible.com/1/mat.27.57-59.KJV‬‬  This verse took us all the way from our filthy rags, to Jesus robe of righteousness, to Jesus being able to be our high priest.  Jesus our sacrifice, His broken and bloodied body wrapped in fine linen!  “And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.  And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.  And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:  And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.”  Exodus 28:39‭, ‬41‭-‬43 KJV  http://bible.com/1/exo.28.39-43.KJV‬‬  “No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.”  Leviticus 21:21 KJV  http://bible.com/1/lev.21.21.KJV  “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:19 KJV http://bible.com/1/1pe.1.19.KJV
     So at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross His work as a sacrifice was over and He was wrapped in fine linen.  He became eligible to be our High Priest!  Now we could receive forgiveness for our sins.  Now we could freely receive Christ’s robe of righteousness!  “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8 KJV http://bible.com/1/rev.19.8.KJV   “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”  Revelation 7:9 KJV  http://bible.com/1/rev.7.9.KJV  “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:13‭-‬14 KJV  http://bible.com/1/rev.7.13-14.KJV‬‬
     One little verse in scripture, about the shepherds finding a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths gives us the entire story of redemption! “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 KJV http://bible.com/1/luk.2.12.KJV

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

tithe



            The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work. For a long time the Lord has been robbed because there are those who do not realize that the tithe is God’s reserved portion. {9T 249.1}
            Some have been dissatisfied and have said: “I will not longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.” But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right. {9T 249.2}
            Read carefully the third chapter of Malachi and see what God says about the tithe. If our churches will take their stand upon the Lord’s word and be faithful in paying their tithe into His treasury, more laborers will be encouraged to take up ministerial work. More men would give themselves to the ministry were they not told of the depleted treasury. There should be an abundant supply in the Lord’s treasury, and there would be if selfish hearts and hands had not withheld the tithes or made use of them to support other lines of work. {9T 249.3}
            God’s reserved resources are to be used in no such haphazard way. The tithe is the Lord’s, and those who, meddle with it will be punished with the loss of their heavenly treasure unless they repent. Let the work no longer be hedged up because the tithe has been diverted into various channels other than the one to which the Lord has said it should go. Provision is to be made for these other lines of work. They are to be sustained, but not from the tithe. God has not changed; the tithe is still to be used for the support of the ministry. The opening of new fields requires more ministerial efficiency than we now have, and there must be means in the treasury. {9T 249.4}
            Those who go forth as ministers have a solemn responsibility devolving upon them which is strangely neglected. Some enjoy preaching, but they do not give personal labor to the churches. There is great need of instruction concerning the obligations and duties to God, especially in regard to paying an honest tithe. Our ministers would feel sadly aggrieved if they were not promptly paid for their labor; but will they consider that there must be meat in the treasure house of God wherewith to sustain the laborers? If they fail to do their whole duty in educating the people to be faithful in paying to God His own, there will be a shortage of means in the treasury to carry forward the Lord’s work. {9T 250.1}
            The overseer of the flock of God should faithfully discharge his duty. If he takes the position that because this is not pleasant to him, he will leave it for someone else to do, he is not a faithful worker. Let him read in Malachi the words of the Lord charging the people with robbery toward God in withholding the tithes. The mighty God declares: “Ye are cursed with a curse.” Malachi 3:9. When the one who ministers in word and doctrine sees the people pursuing a course that will bring this curse upon them, how can he neglect his duty to give them, instruction and warning? Every church member should be taught to be faithful in paying an honest tithe. {9T 250.2}
            “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now here with, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Verse 10. {9T 251.1} “I understand that you are also proclaiming that we should not pay tithe. My brother, take off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place where on you are standing is holy ground. The Lord has spoken in regard to paying tithes. He has said, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house.’ ... {CS 83.3}
            “Very recently I have had direct light from the Lord upon this question, that many Seventh-day Adventists, were robbing God in tithes and offerings, and it was plainly revealed to me that Malachi has stated the case as it really is. Then how dare any man even think in his heart that a suggestion to withhold tithes and offerings is from the Lord? Where, my brother, have you stepped out of the path? O get your feet back in the straight path again.”—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 60. {CS 83.4}
            God Has Settled the Question of Wages—If women do the work that is not the most agreeable to many of those who labor in word and doctrine, and if their works testify that they are accomplishing a work that has been manifestly neglected, should not such labor be looked upon as being as rich in results as the work of the ordained ministers? Should it not command the hire of the laborer? ... {DG 105.1}
            This question is not for men to settle. The Lord has settled it. You are to do your duty to the women who labor in the gospel, whose work testifies that they are essential to carrying the truth into families. Their work is just the work that must be done, and should be encouraged. In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. The cause would suffer great loss without this kind of labor by women. Again and again the Lord has shown me that women teachers are just as greatly needed to do the work to, which He has appointed them as are men.—Evangelism, 493 (1903). {DG 105.2}
            Women to Receive Wages for Their Work—There are ministers’ wives—Sisters Starr, Haskell, Wilson, and Robinson—who have been devoted, earnest, whole-souled workers, giving Bible readings and praying with families, helping along by personal efforts just as successfully as their husbands. These women give their whole time, and are told that they receive nothing for their labors because their husbands receive wages. I tell them to go forward and all such decisions will be revised. The Word says, “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” Luke 10:7. When any such decision as this is made, I will, in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it my duty to create a fund from my tithe money to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls. {DG 106.1}
            I know that the faithful women should be paid wages as it is considered proportionate to the pay received by ministers. They carry the burden of souls and should not be treated unjustly. These sisters are giving their time to educating those newly come to the faith and hire their own work done and pay those who work for them. All these things must be adjusted and set in order and justice be done to all. Proofreaders in the office receive their wages; those who are working at housework receive their wages, two dollars and a half and three dollars a week. This I have had to pay and others have to pay. But ministers’ wives, who carry a tremendous responsibility, devoting their entire time, have nothing for their labor.—Manuscript Releases 12:160 (1898). {DG 106.2}