Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 14, No. 2 Straight and Narrow February 2005
By David Clayton
(The following article is an edited version of a message David recently preached in Jamaica. I was very impressed that it would perfectly fit into the revival series we are currently printing. Editor)
There are some thoughts that stirred my heart recently while I was reading, both in the Bible and in the book Prophets and Kings by Ellen White. I would like to attempt to pass on the blessing. We are going to examine some Bible texts first and then turn to certain highlights of a chapter in Prophets and Kings that really stirred me up and rebuked me, and I thought it would be helpful to us to consider these thoughts.
I would like to read first of all from Isaiah 62. In a way these verses seem disconnected from Chapter 3 in Prophets and Kings, like two different sides of a coin, but I hope that we can see the connection. Isaiah 62 begins with a promise that God makes. As I was reading this promise, I was moved to pray, because a question was asked in Sabbath School if there is enough evidence to support our belief. I would say that there is, but sometimes the evidences don’t go deep enough into our hearts; in fact, most of the time the evidences don’t go deep enough to bring corresponding action.
God’s Glorious Destiny
Here is a promise God makes. He says, For Zions sake will I not hold my peace. (Isaiah 62:1) Now, this is God speaking. What is Zion? It is the church. It is His people. He says, For Zions sake will I not hold my peace. Now when we say somebody will not hold his peace, we mean that the person will not keep quiet. He will not rest. For the sake of Zion, God says, I will not rest. He also says, and for Jerusalems sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. (Ibid.) This is God’s promise and commitment. While reading it, I was thinking, “God, I wonder if you meant this promise. I wonder if in heaven there is no rest for You. I wonder if in heaven there is no cessation.” He promises He is not going to rest until righteousness goes forth as brightness and salvation as a burning lamp. If you can demonstrate to me where this has ever happened, I would appreciate it, because this is something I tried to find. I went back through my mind and I thought, “Well, Jesus came, and when Jesus came there was a light that shone in the darkness, but can we ever say that the righteousness of Zion was shining like a lamp that burns?”
Isaiah continues, “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, [delight—marginal reference]and thy land Beulah [married—marginal reference]: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” (Isaiah 62:2-4)
This is clearly talking about an experience that God’s people have not yet seen and have not yet attained unto. God’s promise is that He will not rest until it happens, but another side of the story is found in verses six and seven, which also stirred me up a little bit. It says, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” That is God’s command.
Generally speaking, I don’t like to nag people. I don’t like to keep on the same story time after time after time. I ask, and then I leave the person alone, but here is God’s command to us. He says for those who make mention of the LORD, to not give Him any rest. Don’t ease up from Him. Don’t slack or grow tired. Give Him no rest until He make and establish Jerusalem a praise and a rejoicing in the earth. Furthermore He says He has set watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, and these watchmen are never to hold their peace day nor night. He says we who make mention of the LORD are to keep no silence.
You know, when I read this I feel such a sense of condemnation. Is that my duty? Am I one of the watchmen that God has set on the walls of Jerusalem? Am I one of the people who are supposed to be concerned about the business of God, and have I really been concerned about it the way that it is described here? I see God having a certain perspective. His attention has been focused continually since sin began, because there has been one thing on the mind of God and that is to see His people established, a praise and a rejoicing in the earth, and to see His glory shining through His people. He says He is not going to rest, and He says that we who are His people are not to give Him any rest but we are to cry unto Him night and day until this is fulfilled. You have to ask the question, “Which one of us has taken this really seriously?”
The theme of Isaiah chapters 58 through 62 can be summed up in Isaiah 60:1, 2: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth….” When I was reading that, I wondered what it meant to “cover the earth.” It says at this time, and I believe Isaiah 60 is talking about the time in which we live, an envelope of darkness shall completely cover the earth. I looked around and I thought, “Is that an exaggeration? Is God overstating the case? How much darkness is in this world, and how much light is there really?” He says darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness—not just darkness but a certain kind of darkness—covers the people. Now the word gross means extreme or intense. Isaiah says, “…but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” (v.2) He makes a promise and He says when this happens, Gentiles shall come to the light. God says there shall be a glorious destiny. You see a wonderful promise and you see a terrible inadequacy and terrible failure on our side, and it troubles me. I am stirred up inside and I wonder, “When, O Lord; why, O Lord; how, O Lord?” I want to be and I want to do what He wants me to be and to do, but I see that His expectations are very high and our fulfillment of those expectations is very low.
Lessons from Solomon
With that in mind, I was reading a little bit from the life of King Solomon in Prophets and Kings. There are some thoughts here that I want to share with you. Now, you know the Bible says that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. That is such a striking thing, because nobody here can compare to Solomon in wisdom. After reading this, the the things we are examining were more forcefully impressed on my mind. Wisdom and intelligence do not get us there. Money is not getting us there. Ability to understand and to comprehend is not getting us there. If I have certain advantages over you or you have an advantage over me, that is not getting us there. I realize only one thing makes a person secure in this world, only one thing, and I see the vital importance of never, ever letting that go. We are tempted to depend upon so many other things.
We Need the Word of God Each Day
Id like to read from the life of Solomon, in Chapter 3 of Prophets and Kings, entitled, “Pride of Prosperity.” God is giving instruction about how the king of Israel should behave, and the first thing that struck my mind is a Bible reference on page 52, where God said He had given a book and “It shall be with him…and he shall read therein all the days of his life that he may learn to fear the Lord his God.” (Deuteronomy17:19) You might say this was only the law, but I am going to ask you, “If the kings of Israel had taken the book of the law as God had said and read from it all the days of their lives, would they have learned to fear the Lord their God?” The Word of God says it would have been so! If they had taken the Word of God and read from it all the days of their lives, those kings of Israel would have been different. They would have gained a knowledge of God. They would have known who God was. They would have come to know God, in spite of the fact that the Old Testament was limited in its description of God. Yet, even in reading in that book of the law, they would have come to know God. I marked this section, because I said to myself, “Where is your safety today, David? Where is your safety?” Am I reading in the Word of God every day of my life, or am I like those kings of Israel—arrogant and feeling like I am God’s child and I know it all, and so I neglect the reading of the Word and expect to remain strong. If you are doing this, you are a fool. If you attend services every Sabbath and neglect the Word of God otherwise, you are a fool. You cannot be a Christian, live a Christian life, and overcome the world if you are failing to read the Word of God every day. The problem is that Solomon allowed himself to forget this fact!
Satan Works Insidiously Against Us
Now, it says that Satan knew the results that would come from obedience, and so here is what he did, he sought to bring in influences that would insidiously undermine Solomons loyalty to principle and cause him to separate from God. (Prophets and Kings, p. 53) To work insidiously means to work in a sneaking or underhanded manner. Satan sought to bring in influences that would undermine Solomon’s loyalty to principle and cause him to separate from God. Now, when something works insidiously, you may not catch it at first. It works underhandedly. It works cunningly and secretly, so that you don’t see it coming. It works its way into your character and whole lifestyle until it begins to do its work. What is the result? It says it would undermine his loyalty to principle. Principle is a commitment to what is right, just and true. It is integrity! It is an unbending inflexibility when it comes to matters of conscience and right. Often it is best demonstrated in little thing,s such as how we treat the Sabbath, how we treat our Friday evening. It is demonstrated in the kind of clothes we wear. It is demonstrated in how we relate to even a little penny or ten cents that might be overcharged to somebody or giving somebody less than his money is worth. Principle, or lack of it, is shown in how a man deals with a woman. He might make a little subtle suggestion, a little dishonest smile. True principle has integrity and is unshakable.
I was reading a book, A Stone Made Smooth, and read of somebody admiring a Chinese man who was converted to Christianity. It, paraphrased, went something like this:
Oh, that Mr. Pong (I think it was), how he walks. Since he became a Christian, he holds his head up and he doesn’t look to the left or right. He walks and holds his head up and looks straight.
They were commenting on it even though it is a minor thing because it is an example of how the Holy Bible says a Christian should walk—on the straight and narrow. You don’t look aside for the temptation to catch you. Maybe he was literalistic, but that is not the point. The point is, in character and in integrity, this is the kind of thing that a Christian should be—unmoving, unbending. Satan insidiously works his way into our lives and begins to bend us.
How does he work? Sometimes he works through a friend or a brother, who we see bending his principles, and we think in our minds that because this brother does it, it isn’t so abhorrent, and we start to do it. Maybe through a partner, a husband or a wife, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or an acquaintance, whose principles are lower, and we become adjusted to the level of the person because we are associating with the person. Their attitude is affecting us and we are changing. Satan is working to undermine our loyalty to principle and to cause us to separate from God.
I know why we find it hard to pray and study the Word of God. I know why we only pray five minutes and we only study ten minutes, and then we have got to go. I know why. Satan has undermined our loyalty to principle and has broken us and has caused us to separate from God! When we are separated from God, prayer is wearisome and study is tedious, and everything else is more interesting. You know from experience that when a person who watches, sometimes even a little television, goes to pray, which will he find more exciting? Your mind feeds upon the exciting things. The first thing you know is that what you are watching is most likely displeasing to God, but you do it anyway, and so what have you done to yourself? You have killed your faith a little bit. You have damaged your faith. Then when you go to pray, you have that battle to overcome. “Is God really with me? If God is with me, why was I watching this TV?” And the conflict is there in your mind and it damages your faith, so that your prayer is very difficult, and sometimes God in His mercy makes you break through and you find peace, and then you go back and do it again, or something of a similar nature happens. Satan works in this way to bring in influences that insidiously undermine our loyalty to principle, the end point being separation from God.
We Must not Depend on Ourselves
One of the things Solomon did was to marry Pharaohs daughter. From a human point of view, this marriage, though contrary to the teachings of Gods law, seemed to prove a blessing; (Ibid.) How many times do we look at the appearances of what we are gaining? How many times do we say that what I have done or what I am doing is beneficial? From a human point of view, when he married Pharaoh’s daughter it looked like his kingdom was strengthened. He had obtained a powerful father-in-law who could back him up and defend him. The wealth of Egypt would flow to Israel. From a human point of view, it seemed to be a beneficial thing. But beloved, how dare we look from a human point of view? How dare we trust in human wisdom if the Word of God says this is not best? The Word of God does not see for just this week, or next week, or next month, or even next year. It sees for eternity. The Word of God takes in eternal consequences, and God tells us what is best in the long run.
Solomon’s alliance with this heathen king, from a human point of view, at first seemed to prove a blessing, because outwardly Solomon’s heathen wife was converted and she united with him in the worship of the true God. It seemed this way outwardly, but I am going to tell you that when you marry someone who is not a Christian, and then the person is converted because of you, you have a fight on your hands all the days of your life, because the person will go through the nominal motions of Christianity, but on the little points that are critical, the person is a stumbling block in your life. Instead of you lifting the person up, he or she will drag you down to the dust. You have seen it, right? The Word of God cannot be wrong. The person might not have a desire for worship and you have to fight for worship in the home all the days of your life, because the person just doesn’t have any zeal for worship, or the person doesn’t see anything wrong in this, when you wish it wasn’t so, but nominally the person is converted, and that is what happened with Solomon and his Egyptian wife.
Pharaoh rendered signal service to Israel by taking Gezer, slaying the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and giving it for a present unto his daughter, Solomons heathen wife. But in forming an alliance with a heathen nation, and sealing the compact by marriage with an idolatrous princess, Solomon rashly disregarded the wise provision that God had made for maintaining the purity of His people. The hope that his Egyptian wife might be converted was but a feeble excuse for the sin. (Ibid.)
When I was reading this, I said to myself, “Can anybody tell me this is not inspired?” You know, one thing I appreciate about Ellen White is that every time I read a page, it cuts me to the bone. It makes me want to serve God and be a better person. If the devil can do that, then he is on God’s side.
Solomon Lost Sight of his Source of Strength
For a while God overruled, but see what happened next as recorded on page 54. “But Solomon had begun to lose sight of the Source of his power and glory.” What do you do when you disobey God, when you choose your path contrary to God? Do you know what you are saying? Do you know what you are doing? You have lost sight of the Source of your power, the One who made you what you are. Maybe you say you are nothing, but who made you what you are? Who brought you here? Who gave you salvation? If you now can begin to choose your own course, do you know what it means? It means you have begun to lose your dependence on God. You are now beginning to chart your own course. That is what was happening to Solomon, the wisest man upon earth, and it happened little by little, step by step, insidiously. You might not even realize when it begins to happen in your life, but look into your life and see what principles are governing and see whose word has the mastery in your life. Know if it is happening. Solomon had begun to lose sight of the Source of his glory.
As inclination gained the ascendancy over reason, self-confidence increased, ... (Ibid.) I tell you, this is a deep, deep understanding of human nature. Look what happens. Inclination gains the ascendancy over reason. What does that mean? You do what you feel like doing instead of doing what principle tells you is right to do. Sometimes you dont want to talk about little things because eating food, for example, is nothing, but, you know, it is just an illustration of how we behave in bigger things. We follow our inclination and eat what we feel like instead of what reason tells us is best. This is just a microcosm of how we behave in bigger things in life. We follow inclination. We follow our feelings and what we want instead of what reason tells us is best and what the Word of God tells us is best. What is the result? Self-confidence increases. and he sought to carry out the Lords purpose in his own way. (Ibid.)
You know, when fire fails to come down from heaven, men resort to matches. You start lighting matches and you start trusting in your own matches because you begin to depend upon self. Why do you depend upon self? You depend upon self because God is no longer with you. The reason that God is no longer with you is because you are following inclination instead of reason. You cannot give up Christianity. You have got to hang onto it, but what do you do? You are going to carry out Christianity in your way, in the confidence of your own strength, following your own inclination, doing things in your way because you can’t let go of Christianity, but you dare not walk in God’s way, because God’s way is the way of principle, self-denial, and sacrifice, so you have to walk in your way. Self-sufficiency begins to take over. You know, when I read this, I was cut to the bone.
Solomon reasoned that political and commercial alliances with the surrounding nations would bring these nations to a knowledge of the true God; and he entered into unholy alliance with nation after nation. Often these alliances were sealed by marriages with heathen princesses. The commands of Jehovah were set aside for the customs of surrounding peoples. (Ibid.)
Why does anybody in this world do things like that when Gods command forbids it? Why? Because you tell yourself you are different from other people. You tell yourself you can do it and get away with it. Why do you deny the counsel of God and eat certain things? Why do you deny the counsel of God and do certain things on the Sabbath? I am talking about little things now, because it is not the big things that we are doing. Why do we deny the counsel of God and wear certain things or keep certain friends? Why do you deny it? Because in your mind, this may have caused the downfall of other people, but you think you are a little different. What are you depending upon? You have become self-sufficient. The same thing happened to Solomon. You are becoming self-sufficient. You are beginning to believe in your power to do and to get away with it. You are losing touch with reality, because compromise has been doing its insidious work in your life and you are not seeing from God’s perspective any more. You are now seeing with warped vision and that is what was happening to Solomon. He felt that he was getting somewhere. He was building up Israel, which was God’s plan, right? He was making these alliances and Israel was becoming a great nation. He made gold to be like stones in Jerusalem and he was doing this for the glory of God, but he was doing it in Solomon’s way!
So, one of the first things we lose is our perspective and we think that progress is pleasing to God because we view progress in the worldly sense and we cannot see that God’s measure of progress is a pure character, and that is all. That is the only thing He is after in this life: pure characters. And those of us who have forgotten this and have stepped out of the path, we know that we are suffering bitterly for it. We are suffering, and if we are not suffering, it is because we have no kind of contact with God.
Solomon flattered himself that his wisdom and the power of his example would lead his wives from idolatry to the worship of the true God .(Ibid., p. 54) Don’t you think that is what he must have done? He thought he was so wise, and he was such a strong person, that he would be able to lead these women to the worship of the true God. When you look at Solomon marrying several hundred heathen women, you ask how could a wise man do this? But here we get some insight into how he was thinking. He thought his wisdom and his strength of character would bring these women to the worship of Jehovah. Fool! You cannot disobey God with impunity. You can’t get away with it. God knows better than you. He knows what we need and He gives us the right instructions to take us through, and the only safety in this world, or any world, is obeying what God says.
Continuing on page 54, Vain hope! Solomons mistake in regarding himself as strong enough to resist the influence of heathen associates was fatal. And fatal, too, the deception that led him to hope that notwithstanding a disregard of Gods law on his part, others might be led to revere and obey its sacred precepts. (Ibid.)
Here you find the wonderful irony you sometimes find jumping out in Sister Whites writings. She says Solomon thought that in spite of disobeying Gods law, he could get others to respect Gods law. Think about that. He was disobeying that law and trying to get other people to respect it. What about you and me in our lives? You might say, “Oh, it is only a small matter. I don’t break the Sabbath too much. I don’t tell lies, well not openly.” You think you don’t do these things, but really, if you disobey in a minor thing, is not the principle the same? Your principle is: “I rule and not God!” How can you conscientiously, positively and powerfully persuade others of the immutability, the perfection, and the inflexibility of the Word of God, when you know in your heart that you are not being faithful to that Word? It kills our conviction. It kills our zeal. It kills our fire. It kills our determination to labor for the Lord when we are disobedient, because our conscience condemns us and weakens our hands. The Bible says it, and like I said, when Ellen White writes something, sometimes it cuts a hard to the bone!
Wealth, with all it attendant temptations, came in Solomons day to an increasingly large number of people; but the fine gold of character was dimmed and marred. (Ibid., pp. 54, 55) Wealth brings temptations. Sister White says it came to an increasingly large number of people. I have heard it repeatedly said that there was a time when the only vehicle in this local group was a motorcycle, and maybe a couple of bicycles, and how much different was the attitude of most people compared to now when everybody basically has a home, a car or cars, but the fine gold of character has been dimmed and marred.
Here is the crux of it, So gradual was Solomons apostasy (Ibid., p. 55) Now, gradual means by degrees. You watch the hands of a clock and you dont see them move, but before you recognize it, they have moved around an hour, gradually. It is like trying to catch a bird. I have seen a boy actually sneak up so slowly on a bird that the bird didnt move until it was too late. You have seen lizards catch flies or moths. You dont see the movement, it is so slow, and because it is so slow, the victim doesnt realize the danger until it is too late. Inspiration is saying that is the way Satan works. So gradual was Solomons apostasy that before he was aware of it, he had wandered far from God. (Ibid.) One day you wake up like out of a dream and say, “When did I reach here? I used to be against this and I used to be so strong here and there. When did I get to this place that it has become commonplace, natural, second nature for me?” So gradually does apostasy come.
Remember when we were little children and the first time we ever saw a cowboy movie was at a church social? In those days, Adventists didn’t watch shows. It was such a big thing that they had it at a social. We didn’t watch shows because they were destructive to our character. They showed murder and killing and they built characteristics that were unlike heaven. Then came the days of television and all of a sudden the reason you don’t watch shows is different. Now you don’t watch shows because of the influence in the theater, because of the bad company that you find in the theater. So, if you watch it at home, there is no problem. And gradually the principles deteriorate so that you can watch the vilest things without batting an eyelid because it came upon you gradually, step by step, piece by piece, until it no longer matters that murder, idolatry, adultery, fornication, vile language, blasphemy, disrespect of God, happen right before your eyes in the living room and you don’t think anything about it because it happened gradually. Then when we get a twinge of conscience, a stab of a desire for something better, we find compromise has woven such a web around us that it almost impossible to break free.
Sister White says on page 55 that it was so gradual with Solomon, that before he was aware of it, he had wandered far from God. Almost imperceptibly he began to trust less and less in divine guidance and blessing, and to put confidence in his own strength. Little by little he withheld from God that unswerving obedience which was to make Israel a peculiar people,... (Ibid.) What kind of obedience did Solomon withhold? Unswerving! That means you don’t move from the pathway. You don’t move from the bump. You are going straight and nothing is going to make you swerve, unswerving obedience. If God says so, that is it. Period! Full stop! End of the story! Nothing is going to make you bend!
...he withheld from God that unswerving obedience which was to make Israel a peculiar people, and he conformed more and more closely to the customs of the surrounding nations. Yielding to the temptations incident to his success and his honored position, he forgot the Source of his prosperity. (Ibid.) When he got into this position, there were certain temptations that came and he began to yield to these temptations and he forgot the Source of his prosperity. He began to depend more and more on Solomon.
We Need to Examine our Lives
I want us to look into our lives, because even though we are not put in Solomon’s position where our influences can affect so many millions, we are placed in a position where our lives can affect other people. I want us to look at ourselves and I want to ask you, “What is it that you depend upon?” In the decisions that we make every day, in the habits that we form, who do we depend upon? You know, I have always used this one standard. I have used it as a hallmark for myself, and to be honest, when I use this standard, sometimes I get more than a little worried. It is this, “How much time do I spend with God every day?” Just use that one thing.
I am going to tell you, if I go to a place where there is danger on every side, for example, if I were to go to certain parts of Kingston, and a man from the area says “I will take you through,” for they know him well but they don’t know me, let me tell you something, I am not losing sight of him. In certain parts of Kingston they will shoot you because you look different. If you intend to preserve your life, you stick with this man. You make sure that he is there. If you are going through a jungle where there is a man-eating tiger and you have an expert hunter with you, don’t leave him. You can tell how much you depend on this person by how closely you tag onto the person, right? If you say you depend on God and not on yourself but you barely pray, and if you have so many problems in your life and so many things that you have to deal with day-by-day but you don’t even talk to Him about them, how can you honestly say that He is the One you depend upon? The people who depend upon God the most, pray the most and study His Word the most because they dare not live without Him. They cannot get along without Him and they know it, and so they are always seeking Him most earnestly.
Even this morning when I went to pray, these thoughts were on my mind, because the devil has been working to get me away from this as well, and I am looking at myself and saying, “Normally, how do I spend my day? Why do I sometimes allow my prayer time to get shorter?” I am seeing that it is because other things are calling for my attention. I get up in the morning and I pray. I used to spend a lot of time in reading the Bible and writing notes. This used to be my pleasure and when I would have to stop, I would regret it. These days, I try hard to read a couple of chapters. Sometimes it is such a trial to get through the chapters and when I ask myself why, I recognize it is because something is calling for my attention, I have other things to do that are drawing me. Why should those things mean more to me than time with the Lord? I asked myself that question, and I didn’t like the fact that it seemed to say that I was depending upon myself more than upon God. Are you jumping onto the day’s work and enjoying the day’s work so much that you are neglecting God? Is God’s life your life or are you living a life separate from God so that you can manage without Him? I believe this will help us to see our perspective a little more clearly.
If I have any sense at all, the only thing I can do is determine to spend two or three hours with the Lord and let nothing move me from it. You can determine to do this, or you can decide to live the way you are living and lose your soul. If God is our life and is the most important thing in the universe, how can we neglect Him? He is the reality of the universe. How can we neglect the time with Him? How can we let other things take the precedence and believe that we really are Christians? We can see the atheists do this. We can see how the worldly men, the non-Christian men do this, but we who call ourselves by His Name, can we feel justified in living this kind of way? What can be more important than fellowship with the Lord? We say, “Well, Lord, we don’t have the time. Well, Lord, this is to be done. Well, Lord, I have this to do.” Don’t you see that this is human wisdom above God’s wisdom? We are trusting in appearances. We are trusting in our perceptions rather than the Word of God. The Lord says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
What does it mean to search with all your heart? Who is searching with all his heart? Who here is seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Who? Really, in most cases, the kingdom of God and His righteousness are being put last in the spare time that we have.
An ambition to excel all other nations in power and grandeur led him to pervert for selfish purposes the heavenly gifts hitherto employed for the glory of God. The money which should have been held in sacred trust for the benefit of the worthy poor and for the extension of principles of holy living throughout the world, was selfishly absorbed in ambitious projects. (Prophets and Kings, p. 55)
Well, we are not in Solomon’s place, but it makes me think, and the thing is, I am grateful to God that most of the time, in terms of faults, my thoughts run on myself first, and I have to ask myself the question, “If Jesus were in my position, would He really spend time the way I spend time and on the things I spend”? Are we making ourselves first? Are we thinking like the world and seeking for self-advancement instead of being so totally committed to the cause that that is what we care about primarily and principally. This was the consequence of Solomon’s apostasy. He began to use God’s means to glorify himself, to big-up himself, to advance his cause.
“In seeking to glorify himself before the world, he sold his honor and his integrity. …”
More and more the king came to regard luxury, self-indulgence, and the favor of the world as indications of greatness. (Ibid., p. 56)
Luxury, an easy life, self-indulgence, having what I want, the favor of the world, friendship with people, and a good name among people were thought to be indications of greatness and blessing. In other words, what happened to Solomon is that his perception of reality became perverted. This compromise worked so gradually in his life that before he knew it, he was thinking like the world. He was admiring like the world. He was understanding and measuring things by the standards of the world and he did not recognize it because it happened insidiously. It crept upon him by first of all making little compromises until he moved to huge compromises and didn’t even recognize the difference.
As he cast off his allegiance to God, he lost the mastery of himself. (Ibid., p. 57) Do you see that happening sometimes? You dont control yourself anymore, sometimes not even your temper and the things you say to your wife or your husband or to your children. You lose the control of yourself. You cant even control how you behave and what you do. You lose the mastery of yourself because you have cast off your allegiance to God. His moral efficiency was gone. (Ibid.) His strength to determine right and wrong and to stick with the right was gone. His fine sensibilities became blunted, his conscience seared. He who in his early reign had displayed so much wisdom and sympathy in restoring a helpless babe to its unfortunate mother (see 1 Kings 3:16-28), fell so low as to consent to the erection of an idol to whom living children were offered as sacrifices. (Ibid.) Can you imagine? In his early reign he saved one baby’s life and restored it to its mother, and later on he raised up an idol where they sacrificed living babies. This is an example of how far we go when we make the first departure in beginning to compromise in little things.
The Tragic Results of Solomon’s Fall
From being one of the greatest kings that ever wielded a scepter, Solomon became a profligate, the tool and slave of others. His character, once noble and manly, became enervated and effeminate. (Ibid., p. 58) How could he become effeminate? I tell you, when you get weak, you turn effeminate. When you don’t have strength of character, somebody can take you and bend you any way. Sometimes women have this effect on men. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! They bent him and twisted him. Either he stood up for principle or they would bend him. When they began to bend him, he became effeminate. He lost his manly strength. He couldn’t stand up anymore and the women bent him. It was only natural that he became effeminate.
His faith in the living God was supplanted by atheistic doubts. (Ibid.) Solomon began to question God’s existence! Let me tell you something. I hope none of us come to the place where those doubts begin to reach us, but I am going to tell you it is a logical conclusion of disobedience. God knows our minds. Our minds cannot deal with two conflicting things. If God is real and we are serving Him, faith grows. If God is real and we are being disobedient, after awhile our mind begins the talk, “Is there really a God?” Because you cannot escape disobedience, your mind begins to question if there really is a God.
You wonder why Christians turn to the path of atheism. It is a logical product of disobedience. And those of us, who continually disobey in small things and move on to bigger things, will find the time when we are plagued by atheistic doubts. We are questioning. I am not surprised that Ellen White says that first of all you question the testimonies, then you question the points of our faith, then you question the Bible, and then you go down the long road to perdition. I am not surprised when I think of a brother who turned away from the message, then turned away from the faith, then turned away from the Bible and finally turned back to the world. When you do not have the power of God in your life causing you to obey, you are going to end in atheism. And even if you don’t end up there outwardly and you continue to maintain the profession of religion, when a crisis strikes, you will find that you don’t really believe. That is the time you will find that you have been building on a false foundation. You don’t have the strength and faith needed for the crises. We need to challenge ourselves. For example, when we are sick and we can’t even pray and say, “Lord, do this,” and expect that our Father hears. We can’t even do that. I mean, most of the time we pray and we don’t even know if we have been heard. Most of our problems we deal with practically because we just don’t know how to make prayer to God work. We deal with our problems in a practical way when they come up because that is what we know. We don’t know to live in dependence upon God. That is the reality. It is frightening to live in this condition when you consider what the Word of God says. It is frightening, and that is not how our Father wants us to live. But you see, living in closeness to God requires so much sacrifice, self-denial, and turning around from our present ways of life, that we postpone it and wish and hope without ever doing anything positive. I know that God wants us to do something positive.
His faith in the living God was supplanted by atheistic doubts. Unbelief marred his happiness, weakened his principles, and degraded his life. (Ibid.) Let me tell you, unbelief does it all the time. You might say you believe, but you are just weak. Anybody who has these problems, you or me, it is due to our unbelief. It weakens our principles, it mars our happiness, it degrades our life. It carries us down below that pure, holy standard. It is unbelief, plain and simple.
God can do little for men who lose their sense of dependence on Him. (Ibid.) And that is the bottom line. God can do much for us, but He can do little for those who lose their sense of dependence upon Him. So if God is doing little in your life, you know the reason. You don’t depend on Him. It is impossible for our Father to let go of His child who is saying, “Father, I can’t mind. Help me.” It is impossible. If we have that attitude toward our Father, in truth, He can do great things for us.
It came to be a common practice to intermarry with idolaters, and the Israelites rapidly lost their abhorrence of idol worship. (Ibid., p. 59) They mingled, and because they mingled, their standards went down, and what used to be wrong became right. And maybe it is not so glaring, but think about the principle. By mingling, by beholding, we are changed, and what we once abhorred becomes acceptable and even beautiful, and a common lifestyle, because of mingling.
Polygamy was countenanced. Idolatrous mothers brought their children up to observe heathen rites. In the lives of some, the pure religious service instituted by God was replaced by idolatry of the darkest hue. (Ibid.)
God is fully able to keep us in the world, but we are not to be of the world. His love is not uncertain and fluctuating. Ever He watches over His children with a care that is measureless. But He requires undivided allegiance. (Ibid.) That is it: God will make us the precious things of His heart, but we have got to make Him number one. No compromise on this. God cannot rule in a life, He cannot bless or bring happiness to the life that has a divided loyalty. That is a plain, straight bottom line, and if you want a reason for every spiritual problem and for unhappiness in your life, that is the bottom-line reason.
Wisdom will not Save Us
Solomon was endued with wonderful wisdom, but the world drew him away from God. (Ibid.) No matter how wise you are, the world will draw you away from God, if you allow it. Men today are no stronger than he; they are as prone to yield to the influences that caused his downfall. As God warned Solomon of his danger, so today He warns His children not to imperil their souls by affinity with the world. Come out from among them, He pleads, and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. (Ibid.)
In the midst of prosperity lurks danger. Throughout the ages, riches and honor have ever been attended with peril to humility and spirituality. (Ibid.)
And you might say, “I am not rich and I don’t have honor,” but every bit of worldly goods that you possess is a bit of danger, and the more you have, the greater the danger.
The Hardest Cup to Bear
It is not the empty cup that we have difficulty in carrying; is the cup full to the brim that must be carefully balanced. Affliction and adversity may cause sorrow, but it is prosperity that is most dangerous to spiritual life. (Ibid., pp. 59, 60) And I tell you, we never had as many spiritual problems when we had nothing as we do now. Speaking for myself, when I had nothing, I had more peace in my mind. Speaking for myself, when I had nothing, my conscience was cleaner. I know we can argue it is not the things that cause this. No, it is not the things. It is the temptations that come with things that imperceptibly and unnoticed begin to mold and to change your life.
Affliction and adversity may cause sorrow, but it is prosperity that is most dangerous to spiritual life. Unless the human subject is in constant submission to the will of God, unless he is sanctified by the truth, prosperity will surely arouse the natural inclination to presumption. In the valley of humiliation, where men depend on God to teach them and to guide their every step, there is comparative safety. (Ibid., p. 60) Where is there safety? In the valley of humiliation! But the men who stand, as it were, on a lofty pinnacle, and who, because of their position, are supposed to possess great wisdomthese are in gravest peril. Unless such men make God their dependence, they will surely fall. (Ibid.)
I have been challenged when I read this, and I thought, “What shall I do then, Lord?” Well, you know what Ellen White says? She says that Solomon’s downward course began first of all in allying himself with the heathen, but it continued by losing the spirit of sacrifice. Instead of thinking of how he could bless others with what God had put into his hand, what did he begin to think? How can I keep it? How can I enhance myself? How can I glorify myself? He began to think of the ways that he could benefit himself with what God had put in his hand. This has always been one of the big things that God has said to His people. There is nothing wrong with having something, but there are dangers attendant to it. What is the best way do deal with those dangers? I think the Bible says the best way is that we don’t let it stay in our hand. That is the best way. That is not the only thing that I have been reading about today, but it is one of the things I just mention because it seemed to me to be a significant point. The full cup is the one we have to be afraid of, not the empty cup. If you have nothing and you have God, you have everything. If you have everything and you have a little of God or none of God, you have nothing. So let us make sure we have Him, and are living in perfect obedience to Him, and if that obedience takes us to the place where we have nothing, where we have to lose everything, then that is where we ought to be, at whatever cost.
Let us learn from Solomon’s Life
Brothers and sisters, let us not allow Satan to have the mastery in our lives as he did in Solomon’s. We have been set as a light to the world, and as we read in Isaiah, God is waiting for us to fulfill the command to give Him no rest day nor night. But, I tell you, we cannot pray like that unless our lives are in harmony with our prayer. If you are living for this world and this life, are you going to pray night and day for God to set up His kingdom? Are you going to pray night and day for the people who are in darkness? Are you going to pray night and day for the glory of God and for the advancement of His kingdom when your heart and life are involved in this world and this life? It is not going to happen.
Let Us Make a Covenant with God
So I will say finally, let us make a covenant with God that we are going to spend time with Him, because that is the bottom line. Let us make a covenant that we are going to spend two hours, three hours, with Him before we face the day. One hour at night, two hours in the morning, how about that? Fifteen minutes at lunchtime, how about that? Can we make an agreement with God and consider Him so important that nothing will cause us to break that appointment? Can we do this, between us and our God? It is just a suggestion. Is God really worth it? Is He important enough?
While I was praying this morning, I was thinking, this is my Friend. This is my Lord and my God. He is my life. What is more important—to go eat my breakfast, to go do something on the computer or whatever it is that I would do, or to just sit here and reason and fellowship with the One who is my Life. Which is more important? My mind says this is more important, but practically, what am I going to do? You know, I will do what I believe, and I made up my mind, by God’s grace, that I want to do what the Lord wants of me. I want to make Him my best Friend. I want to be restored to that love for Him where He is a passion burning in my heart continually, where my day is not right until I have looked into His face and spent time with Him, where He is my reason for my existence, where sin loses its power to sway me into the broad way.
(David Clayton ministers in Jamaica. You may contact him by writing to: Restoration Ministries, PO Box 23, Knockpatrick, Manchester, Jamaica. His email address is:David@restorationministry.com)
Surely all of our readers have heard of the disastrous tsunami that struck the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean on December 26. The wake of destruction may never be fully measured. The death count has leveled off near 155,000 dead, depending on whose report you read. Millions are displaced and many new orphans now exist.
Scientists at NASA believe that the earthquake, one of the strongest ever recorded, which caused this terrible event, actually changed the shape of the earth very slightly, causing the North Pole to be moved by about one inch (2.54 cm), and even decreased the length of the day since, due to the change in the shape of the earth, it is now spinning faster than before.
It would be hard to learn of the scope of the devastation and not be moved with some degree of compassion. While we may not be able to travel to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, or one of the other hard hit areas to help, we can and must pray for these people. We can also do all in our power to see our prayers answered. We can ask God to feed the hungry and to provide them with shelter and care all we may, but if God has put it in our power to help to provide the food, clothing, or shelter the people need, then we should and must do so. As I write this I am very sorry to report that we do not have any contacts directly in these areas who are working to relieve those in need. We have sent funds to different relief agencies to help with expenses and we want to encourage our readers to help as well.
Some are debating as to who is responsible for the tsunami. Some have suggested it is a judgment of God upon the mainly non-Christian people (Muslin, Hindu, Buddhist) living in the area. Some believe that it is the work of Satan. Some see it as merely a natural disaster, and some have intermixing views. The real truth, outside of a direct revelation, cannot be objectively known; we can only conjecture or guess,which is never a safe pathway. What we can know is that the Bible says that God loves those people whom He sent His Son to die for. True, at times things happen that will awaken the sinful out of their stupor if they will but listen, but we cannot be specific about this disaster. However, Jesus did say that as we approach the end of time we can expect to see more and more disasters and problems upon the earth. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matthew 24:7) However, right after this Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:8) That’s right. This is just the beginning of more and more disasters that will greatly tax the world and its people of their resources.
Yet while the quake and the resulting tsunami have made the daily news each day since the 26th of December, the sad fact is that there is a tremendous amount of suffering going on in this world on a daily basis and much of it goes unnoticed to those not directly afflicted. Did you know that there are more deaths every two months from malaria than died from the Asian tsunami? Each year malaria claims over one million people, mostly children under five and pregnant women! Did you know that there are over 3/4 of a million children killed by abortion each year in the United States alone? Did you know that AIDS claimed over three million this last year, with one-half million of those children under 15? We could go on and on.
Surely, beloved, we need to pray for these matters and we need to pray for the establishing of God’s kingdom in our hearts, for the giving of the message so that Jesus will come soon and we can go home!
Do People Hate Righteousness?
By Brandon Knight
Wrong doing has been exercised for so many years—even decades, that it has now become the customary lifestyle of millions of people in the world. It’s now at the point where most people don’t even want to know the right way of living. They get upset if you try to show them the correct manner of living. No matter how sincere you try to explain or correct their error, they immediately get offended and tell you to back off. They even accuse you of judging them, just for showing them the right way or telling them they may be doing something wrong.
Many practicing Christians have a tough job when it comes to presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in the present day. Based on my own personal experiences, with literally hundreds of people, the majority don’t want you telling them anything about Jesus, or anything else for that matter. It’s to the point where they can be pronouncing your own name wrongly, and you try to tell them how to say it and they reply “whatever.” It seems that people are comfortable with where they are and don’t want to advance, whether it be for learning life skills, the Gospel, or bettering their health, etc.
I know a man, by the name of Bill, who loves to chew tobacco. He told me his grandfather got cancer of the mouth from it, and it’s given his dad a mouth disease. I said, “Don’t you think you should quit because of that?” He said, “Don’t preach to me, I’m gonna die of something someday anyway.” The Bible says, “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” (Proverbs 12:1) “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:1) “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.” (Proverbs 8:10)
Do Christians Hate Righteousness?
Now, it’s understandable that the world itself hates righteousness; but there is a vast majority of people who claim to be Christians who also hate righteousness. I have spoken to many people who profess Christianity, but don’t feel that all of the Bible should be followed or even read. Some, whom I’ve spoken to, say that it’s even all right to go to bars and clubs and have a drink. I’ve even spoken to married men that say it’s okay to look upon other women and lust, as long as you don’t touch. Are these true Christians? Is this the way of Christ? Do you feel the same way? What does the Bible say about these things? “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16)
Christ says, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28) It’s obvious that God does not approve of lust and worldliness, but what about believing the whole Bible? should we? and why? Well, for one thing, if people don’t speak according to the Word of God, there is no light in them. (See Isaiah 8:20) And, furthermore, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16; See also verses 14, 15, and 17.) Notice that in verse 16 it says, “All scripture.” That, inevitably, means the whole Bible, and not just a verse here and there. And this is more than enough reason to believe the Word of God, because it is “instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
Praise God for giving us the Holy Scriptures. There was a period of time, known as the Dark Ages, when people weren’t allowed to have a Bible. You could have been burned at the stake for having a Bible in your home. Many Christians died for the Word back in those days; when the Papal Roman Empire ruled the world from 538 AD – 1798 AD. God-fearing men like Jerome, Huss and Martin Luther protested against the false ways of the “Mother Church” and started the Reformation.
But, many people don’t appreciate the painstaking efforts of those who paved the way for us to freely own and read Bibles today. Shameful to say, we are a spoiled people who have taken for granted the ability to access the Word of God freely. Just as Israel in the days of old, we are not heeding the signs and the warnings that God, in His mercy, has given. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” (Isaiah 1:2-4)
Sad to say, the Lord is saying this very same thing to us today, and we are in a worse state now than back then. Notice in these verses of Isaiah that the children of Israel were compared to an ox and ass (cow and donkey), saying that even the dumb animals know who their master is and where their master is, but God’s very own children (Christians) don’t even consider Him. Our Lord is grieved at the heart because we, or most of Christendom, is wrapped up in worldly lust; self pleasure; and the cares of this world, to the point where righteousness is of none effect, and even hated in the lives of men and women.
Satan’s Work to Destroy Righteousness
Satan has been very successful in removing the hope of men and women, and virtually destroying souls. Where there is no hope, there is no faith, and where there is no faith, there is no possibility of pleasing God, and where there is no possibility of pleasing God, there is no righteousness, and where there is no righteousness there is Satan, and where there is Satan there is sin, and “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) Could it be that people hate righteousness because they love sin? “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,… despisers of those that are good,… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
Our enemy has virtually made the example of Christ’s life of none effect and, in many denominations, has succeeded in making void the law of God, and has destroyed the hope of obtaining perfection in our lives on this earth. How can Satan get away with such lies, and the children of God believe every word? Many Christians believe that God can do all things except save them from sin and help them to overcome. One of the most important reasons that Christ came to this earth was to give man power to overcome, to save him from his sins, and to show us how to obtain perfection in character. Let’s prove this with some scriptures of hope.
In the book of Matthew it says, And she (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Notice that it says from their sins not in their sins.” Isn’t that wonderful? Those who don’t believe are usually those who have a form of godliness but they deny the power of God. But, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16)
“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.… But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:18, 22, 23) Now how can any sound human being think that they can continue to sin, when their paycheck is a death voucher? And why would Christ want us to continue in sin, when He showed us how to overcome it? It’s amazing, because we, as people, are always looking for ways to look better, and to make extra money, or to perfect a product, and if an experiment doesn’t go right the first time, we try again until we master it. But when it comes to the product of the soul (figuratively speaking) we don’t give it half the effort; to perfect and master the character. If we don’t get it right the first time, we’re quick to give up and agree with Satan who claims that man cannot be perfect and stop sinning.
Are you a copout? I’m not and I don’t believe that you are. I pray that you truly love God and want to be righteous, but sometimes the people we associate with and listen to (including many pastors) don’t believe that it can be done, which causes it not to be preached in the churches, which, in the end, leaves the act and thought of righteousness unto perfection far from the mind.
God’s Word Regarding Pastors
Is it okay to trust in the word of a man, who is fallible (able to make mistakes)? What does God say about leaders of the church and the world? “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.… Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” (Jeremiah 17:5, 7)
“For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.” (Jeremiah 10:21)
“Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.” (Jeremiah 12:10)
“The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isaiah 9:15, 16)
My dear friend, we must study the Scriptures and know the truth for ourselves. Righteousness by faith is obtainable through Christ. Accept these words for yourself: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13) Dont let anything hinder you from obtaining righteousness and perfection of character. We must do whatever it takes to get it, to the extent of giving up the world and personal pleasures. It is truly worth it. For the Time is Short, and the great day of Christ is near. Are you ready?
May God bless you and keep you.
(Brandon is very interested in tract distribution and has had this study printed in tract form by Smyrna. You may contact Brandon by writing to P.O. Box 248066, Columbus, OH 43224)
A Report from Poland
By Slawomir Platek
Blessings, I would like to share with you the good news about the message entering into Ukraine and the work going on in Poland.
Some Ukrainian Adventists recently received books concerning the truth about God from someone in Germany, which had been written in Polish! Some brethren of the Adventist Reform Movement Church in Krim, Ukraine, were told by their leaders that nobody believed the non-Trinitarian message. These brethren were happy to learn, by the books, that there were others who did believe! These brethren have invite Jacek Poreda to visit and share more of the message. Krim is in the southern part of Ukraine about 1000 miles from Poland. By the time this is published, Jacek should have made this visit (middle of January).
These brethren already have someone who is able and willing to translate books from Polish to Ukrainian. Jacek has already sent some books for translation.
Jacek continues the work of translation here in Poland. Allen Stumps book, The Foundation of Our Faith should be ready by the time you read this. Jacek is also preparing a book about Daniel and the judgment, and another one especially for non-Adventist on the truth about God.
I hitchhiked from my home town, Radom, to the south of Poland where Jacek lives with his family, close by the city of Tychy. On Thursday evening one new brother, Marek, came who I saw for the first time. He was just disfellowshiped from the Jednota Braci Polskich (Unity of Polish Brethren, a non- Trinitarian, Sabbath- keeping group) Jacek is visiting Sabbath keepers and non Sabbath keepers, Protestants and others alike.
Friday morning we traveled in Jacek’s very small car, to a place near Lodz, near the center of Poland, where we visited a young couple connected to the Unity of Polish Brethren. We spent some time with them sharing the message. We then traveled near to Ciechocinek where Piotr (Peter) Maciejewski is living with his family. Piotr is faithfully helping with the publishing work here in Poland.
We spent a night at Piotr’s place and in the morning we went to Gdansk, in the north part of Poland. There we kept the Sabbath with a group of about thirty people. There was a lot of singing, praying, and studying. It was a blessed time! The flat where we met belongs to the brother who helps lead out in these meeting,s and preaches. We stayed at this home during our visit.
On the next day (second of January) we came back close to Ciechocinek, but by a different way, so we could visit another brother who is living not far from Piotr. This brother is still a member of the SDA Church, but this last year he and his wife attended the camp meeting we had in Poland.
Jacek is visiting different parts of Poland and most of the people he meets with are not Adventist people. The number of the subscribers for Present Truth in Polish is growing. We are now printing 150 copies. Please pray for the people of Poland and Eastern Europe that they may hear and respond to the three angels’messages. Slawomir (Slawek) Platek
A Lesson From One of God’s Prophets
The birth of John the Baptist had been foretold by prophets, and an angel was sent to notify Zacharias of the event. The heavenly messenger expressly enjoined upon the father to bring up the child with strictly temperate habits. Some may inquire why the Lord should be thus particular; but God, who made man, knew that Satan’s most powerful temptations would be on the point of appetite. Through the indulgence of appetite, the physical, mental, and moral strength becomes enfeebled; and lest Zacharias should follow the prevailing custom, God sent an angel from the courts of heaven with directions for the training of this child of promise. It was necessary for him to have a simple, unstimulating diet, in order to prepare him to accomplish his sacred mission. And it is said of him: “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel.”
John did not feel strong enough to stand the great pressure of temptation he would meet in mingling with society. He feared his character would be molded according to the prevailing customs of the Jews; and he chose to separate himself from the world, and make the wilderness his home. He denied himself the ordinary comforts of life; his food was simple; his clothing, a garment made of camel’s hair, and confined about the waist by a leathern girdle. But although John passed his childhood and youth in the desert, he was not unreconciled to his life of hardship and seclusion. So far from being lonely, gloomy, or morose, he enjoyed his life of simplicity and retirement, and his temperate habits kept all his senses unperverted.
And John was not indolent. He was thus secluded from the world that he might secure a sound education from God’s written word and the great book of nature. The mountains and perpetual hills, the ever-flowing brooks, were company for him. Through them he communed with God. Everything that surrounded him in his mountain home was to him a book of instruction, containing lessons of deepest importance in regard to the character, the benevolence, and the love of God.
John had a special work to do for God. He was to deal with the sins and follies of the people. In order to be fitted for this important public work, he must qualify himself in private by seeking heavenly knowledge. He must meditate and pray, and by studying become acquainted with the prophecies and the will of God. Away from the busy world, whose cares and alluring pleasures would divert his mind and pervert his thoughts and imaginings, he was shut up with God and nature. Here he would not be influenced by evil surroundings, his understanding would not be blinded, nor his spirit become familiar with wickedness. In the calm retirement of the wilderness, John became strong in spirit. By his strictly temperate habits he secured to himself physical, mental, and moral health. His discernment was clear, his judgment correct.
John accustomed himself to privations and hardships, that he might be able to stand among the people as unmoved by circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness that had surrounded him for thirty years. A great work was before him; and it was necessary that he should form a character that would not be swerved from right and duty by any surrounding influence. He was to lead out as a reformer, and by his abstemious life and plain dress rebuke the intemperate habits and sinful extravagance prevailing among the people. The indulgence of appetite, especially in the use of wine, was destroying the health and weakening the intellect, so that the people did not regard sin as offensive to God. His work required firmness and integrity; for he would have opposition to meet from those whose hearts were given to pleasure and the gratification of appetite. He was to reprove the wrong and vindicate the right. He was fitting himself to understand the peculiarities of human minds, and learning how to move hearts.
John was an example to the young people in these last days, to whom have been committed important and solemn truths. God would have them temperate in all things. He would have them see the necessity for the denial of appetite, for keeping their passions under the control of reason. This is necessary that they may have mental strength and clearness to discern between right and wrong, between truth and error. There is work for every one of them to do in the vineyard of the Lord, and he would have them fit themselves to act a useful part. (Mrs. E. G. White.Youths Instructor, January 7, 1897)
A Letter from India
By Pastor Paul
Dear Beloved Howard Williams (of Restoration Ministries who visited India in 2003),
Greetings and salutations to you in our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We’re all here safe by His grace, because of your fervent and valuable prayers., We’re always grateful to our God that he has given us a great chance to pray for you and for your family and all of your people in our daily devotions.
Dear brother, we are thankful for your kind love, tender mercies, prayerful encouragement, and support which you sent for me. We are all very happy and thankful to know of your ministry, prayers, and especially for the Bible truths.
According to your instructions, Brothers D. Suresh Kumar, Deva Kumar, and Charles, of Tamil Nadu State (India) visited our area and spent three days with us (December 21-23, 2004). They also are pleased to see our sincere work in promoting God’s kingdom, and they shared with me that they will definitely bring to your notice my gospel ministries and sincere efforts for His kingdom.
In this letter I’m submitting the details of our ministry for your kind consideration. For several years my father and I have both been doing the Lord’s work independently without any denominational tie-ups. By the grace of God we received your address about two years ago. My father and I are sincerely and faithfully doing the Lord’s work in our area with the truth of God’s Word. We are inspired with your faithful and dynamic principles and especially the present truth about God and His only Begotten Son that we have learned through your website, tracts, and newsletter messages. These have encouraged us to share the present truth in Andhra Pradesh. So we’re glad in this regard, and grateful to you so much forever, that you have given my father and I the opportunity to share the present truth of 1 Peter 1:12. So daily my father and I go visiting by walking to one village per day where we meet people house to house and personally, on the streets, preach the gospel and share photocopies of your tracts and newsletters, which we translated into the Telugu language. The truth about God has never been proclaimed in these areas of Andhra Pradesh and we thank God for the chance to do this work.
We are sharing the tracts with church members, other Christian church members, church pastors, and even idol worshipers in our area. And through this work new people are being blessed and accepting the truth that there is one God who has given His only begotten Son to die for our sins according to the Scriptures. Praise the Lord!
But we need to print many more tracts in Telugu to distribute to the people of Andhra Pradesh. Our church offerings are very little. Due to the lack of finances, we have not been able to produce enough tracts to share with all the people God wishes for us to visit. But many people are asking for these tracts, and the messages of these tracts are touching the hearts of many Christians and non-Christians alike, who are giving their hearts to Christ through the reading of the tracts. We have translated six of the tracks and would like to have at least 5,000 of each printed for a total of 30,000 tracts. If you would be pleased to help in this regard, it will make it possible for us to distribute these in the surrounding villages of our area. So we’re all praying to our God to provide sufficient funds to meet this need. We believe that our God is our providing source and He will definitely provide all our needs to our sincere prayers. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) We humbly, prayerfully request that you consider this in your fervent prayers.
I’m here with enclosing some pictures of our ministry work and also of the special meetings held by our ministry where our three brothers from Tamil Nadu attended and encouraged our gospel work on your behalf. Thanks a lot for this.
God’s work is going on well here, we’re successfully preaching, teaching God’s Word, and touching the lives of people in every nook and corner, even to the very remote places of our area where we need to preach the present truth of God’s Word. I’m very enthusiastic to spread His truth in many places and decided to dedicate my life to His service. In this regard I’m very much in need of prayerful encouragement and support.
Please convey a hearty thanks and greetings to Sister Esther McDaniel, Bother Lynnford Beachy, and the rest of our brethren at Restoration Ministries and Smyrna Gospel Ministries. We pray that you all will have a happy and prosperous new year in 2005. May God be with you from the beginning to the end of this year and may He give you success and a cheerful life to all your efforts.
“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is…. a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
Once again, thank you very much for your kind love and tender mercies toward me along with my family members. We are indebted to you for your kind support of $200.00 which you sent to me. We shall never forget this kind benevolence. We keep you in our prayers. Kindly remember us in your holy prayers.
Your obedient Brother in Him,
WV Camp Meeting Date Finalized
We wish to announce that the dates for the WV camp meeting have been finalized. We have chosen June 21-25, in part, to help accommodate those traveling from overseas who would like to attend the General Conference Session to be held June 30–July 9 in St. Louis, Missouri. We realize that no one date for the camp meeting can meet everyone’s schedule but we tried to pick a date that could accommodate as many as possible.
As always, we eagerly look forward to this special time of study, prayer, and fellowship. As in the past, the meetings will be held at Smyrna and camping is free to all. Each camper will be responsible for their own meals. Kitchen facilities will not be available but camp stoves are welcome in the camping area.
This is a camp meeting. You need to bring a tent or make other arrangements. We do not have cabins or rooms available. Smyrna will have a few tents and camping supplies for those who do not have their own, and cannot afford to purchase them. The supply is limited, so if you need to use a tent, camp stove, etc., please request early. We have four showers with hot and cold water available and a new walkway around them that has greatly improved their entrance. Don’t forget items such as tents, bedding, flashlights, food, toiletries, insect repellent, and modest casual and Sabbath clothes.
We plan to have some meetings for all age groups except children under 4. Weather permitting , nightly bonfires with singing will be open to the young and young at heart.
The day after camp meeting last year we had a white-water rafting trip on the lower part of the New River. I am considering a trip on the upper section of the New River. The upper New River is much milder than its lower counterpart. This trip could incorporate both rafts and inflatable kayaks called duckies. Duckies are stable and easy-to-use boats that allow the river runner to get a personal, close-up feel of the water. A trip on the upper New in a duckie is just as nice, to many people, as a trip on the lower New in a large raft. If you are interested in a possible trip, please let me know soon so I can be making plans.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Associate Editor: Lynnford Beachy - E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also visit our Present Truth Website!
This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013