The Gift of Prophecy in the Last Days

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Referring to the latter days, Jesus in Matthew 24:24 warns of false prophets. Of course you can’t impersonate someone who is not real, so obviously Jesus recognized that the gift of prophecy would still be given out in the latter days. Joel 2:28-31 also tells us there will be those with the gift of prophecy in the last days. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us the gift of prophecy is given to the church as long as we are growing up in Christ. So if we believe the Bible, we need to believe that there will be prophets after the Bible was written, because that’s what the Bible says.

A prophet doesn’t have to write in the Bible to be a prophet. John the Baptist, Miriam, Anna and several other prophets never wrote anything in the Bible.

Also, being a “lesser light” doesn’t mean one is not a prophet. In Daniel’s day, he was the lesser light, being compared to Moses who was the greater light of his day. Daniel had to pass the same test in his day, that every prophet has to pass in their day.

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20 NKJV

Following this same principle, In Acts 17:11 folks were searching their Bibles to see if what Paul said was so. Even though Paul wrote several books in the Bible, he was still the lesser light in his day pointing to the greater light, which in his day was the Old Testament. (Daniel was a lesser light in his day, but was found to be in perfect harmony with Moses and became a part of the greater light in Paul’s day.) In Acts 17:11. Paul was testifying about Jesus (Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 19:10 tell us prophecy is testifying about Jesus) and pointing people to the greater light, which was the Old Testament. So today someone with the gift of prophecy will testify of Jesus while pointing people to the greater light which is God’s Word.

While many today scoff at the idea of modern-day prophets, Paul warns,

Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 NKJV

Instead he tells us to

Test all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV

When a parent tells their youngest child, “Go tell your older brothers and sisters to come inside for dinner,” the older siblings can’t say, “We don’t have to obey you! Your’e our youngest sibling. You are nobody!” Even though they are the youngest, they have been sent by the parent. If the kids refuse to obey, they are not disobeying the youngest child. They are disobeying the parents. It is the same with prophets. If we reject a modern-day prophet just because they are just “one of us,” we are actually rejecting God and continuing the spirit of the Jews of whom Stephen asked, “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute! See Acts 7:52.

As Paul said, we need to test the prophets to see if they are in harmony with the greater light which is the law and established testimonies of Jesus, i.e. the Scriptures. See Isaiah 8:20. Prophets also need to be tested to see if their lifestyle is in harmony with Jesus. See Matthew 7:15-23. Predictions must pass with 100% accuracy. See Jeremiah 28:9. If we find a prophet who passes the test we can claim the promise,

Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper. 2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Can People Who Don’t Belong to My Church Denomination Be Wise Too?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. Proverbs 8:33 NLT

Is there a chance God tried to share His wisdom with us, be we rejected it because we didn’t like the Vessels He used?

Sure Isaiah 8:20 tells us if they speak not according to the law there is no light in them, but we need to be careful we don’t misunderstand and go overboard here. Isaiah was speaking specifically about spiritualism, and was making the point that when people contradict the Scripture there is no light in their contradiction.

Whatever men may speak that is not in harmony with that Word has “no light” in it. -Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002, S. 144

So Isaiah was not telling us that if someone was not a Jew that there was nothing that could be learned from them. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was born, gentile kings came looking for Him while the “church leaders” were ignorant of His advent. Here is what Ellen White, co-founder of the Adventist Church had to say.

These learned teachers would not stoop to be instructed by those whom they termed heathen. It could not be, they said, that God had passed them by, to communicate with ignorant shepherds or uncircumcised Gentiles. They determined to show their contempt for the reports that were exciting King Herod and all Jerusalem. They would not even go to Bethlehem to see whether these things were so. And they led the people to regard the interest in Jesus as a fanatical excitement. Here began the rejection of Christ by the priests and rabbis. From this point their pride and stubbornness grew into a settled hatred of the Saviour. While God was opening the door to the Gentiles, the Jewish leaders were closing the door to themselves. –Desire of Ages, Pages 62-63

Have we tuned out a message from God because we were prejudiced against the person God used, and felt our theology was superior to theirs?

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

In united States elections you can vote for different individuals on the ballot for each office, or you can just just check one box and vote straight Republican or straight Democrat. If you vote straight for one party you don’t have to do any research on the candidates. Do we do this in the church? Instead of searching the Bible for ourselves do we just subscribe to whatever church we belong to, or our local pastor? Instead of searching the Bible to see if what was said is true, do we just go by who said it? If my church said it then it must be right, and if another church said it, then it must be wrong? If we are we are making the same mistake the church leaders made in Christ’s day! The Jews were God’s chosen people, but the gentiles had a few things to teach them as well about Jesus. The Bereans did not accept or reject what Paul taught based on what they thought about him, but based on whether or not he agreed with Scripture.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. My church has a message about sanctification not found in many other churches. However, one day I went to a Methodist church to hear a friend of mine sing in her choir. After the choir sang, a black woman stood up to preach. She spoke on Ephesians, and how the first half of Ephesians is about justification and us in Christ. The second half of Ephesians, she explained is about sanctification and Christ in us. She went on to preach the most powerful sermon I have ever heard on sanctification. I have “borrowed” her sermon numerous times, and received comments about what a wonderful “Adventist” sermon it was. The people did not know, I got this wonderful “Adventist” sermon from a black Methodist woman! (I add the exclamation mark, not because it surprised me that God used a black Methodist woman, but it will surprise some who are prejudiced by either three adjectives.)

I sat there in that Methodist church Sunday, feasting on every word she spoke, not concerning myself with whether or not she was black or white, male or female, Adventist or Methodist, but like the Bearans I just checked if what she was saying was Biblical- and it was!

Only listening to certain people with “approved labels” is not wise. It is prejudiced. Wisdom is listening to what is being said instead of who is saying it.

Study the Sabbath School lesson guide on the book of Proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Instructing the Wise

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9. 
As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life.
The humble worker who obediently responds to the call of God may be sure of receiving divine assistance. To accept so great and holy a responsibility is itself elevating to the character. It calls into action the highest mental and spiritual powers, and strengthens and purifies the mind and heart. Through faith in the power of God, it is wonderful how strong a weak man may become, how decided his efforts, how prolific of great results.
He who begins with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking diligently for further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. The more one tries to explain the Word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself. The more we use our knowledge and exercise our powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have.
Every effort made for Christ will react in blessing upon ourselves. If we use our means for His glory, He will give us more. As we seek to win others to Christ, bearing the burden of souls in our prayers, our own hearts will throb with the quickening influence of God’s grace; our own affections will glow with more divine fervor; our whole Christian life will be more of a reality, more earnest, more prayerful.
The value of man is estimated in heaven according to the capacity of the heart to know God. This knowledge is the spring from which flows all power. God created man that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine mind; and He is ever seeking to bring the human mind into association with the divine. He offers us the privilege of cooperation with Christ in revealing His grace to the world, that we may receive increased knowledge of heavenly things.
Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity. —Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 354-355. 

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Its Your Own Choice

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. Proverbs 8:36 

Speaking of the destruction of the wicked, it is said,

This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is “alienated from the life of God.” Christ says, “All they that hate Me love death.” Ephesians 4:18; Proverbs 8:36. God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them.
At the beginning of the great controversy, the angels did not understand this. Had Satan and his host then been left to reap the full result of their sin, they would have perished; but it would not have been apparent to heavenly beings that this was the inevitable result of sin. A doubt of God’s goodness would have remained in their minds as evil seed, to produce its deadly fruit of sin and woe.
But not so when the great controversy shall be ended. Then, the plan of redemption having been completed, the character of God is revealed to all created intelligences. The precepts of His law are seen to be perfect and immutable. Then sin has made manifest its nature, Satan his character. Then the extermination of sin will vindicate God’s love and establish His honor before a universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law.
Well, then, might the angels rejoice as they looked upon the Saviour’s cross; for though they did not then understand all, they knew that the destruction of sin and Satan was forever made certain, that the redemption of man was assured, and that the universe was made eternally secure. Christ Himself fully comprehended the results of the sacrifice made upon Calvary. To all these He looked forward when upon the cross He cried out, “It is finished.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 764 

Christmas In Light of the Cross, Day 20 ( Jesus’ Childhood Beyond the Manger )

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.  Luke 2:40 

We talk about the birth of Jesus a lot but what about His childhood? Have you ever thought about the fact that God was a kid at one time? When Jesus came to live among men He had to grow up just like everyone else. Obeying was not necessarily any easier for Jesus than it was for any other kid. Paul shares with us that,

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;  Hebrews 5:8

In Hebrews, Paul spends a lot of time writing about the humanity of Jesus, and in this passage shows us that as Jesus constantly overcame His human flesh through the Spirit, that His humanity suffered when it did not get its own way. Jesus knows what it is like to deny the desires of the flesh and to have continual victory through the Spirit. He can help us do the same.

Below is a passage from the classic book on the life of Jesus called Desire of Ages.  It comes from pages 70-72 on Jesus’ life as a child. You will find as you read, Six keys that helped Jesus maintain a righteous character, and these six keys will help us too. Let’s take a look. They keys are highlighted in red.

Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour. And as we behold the beautiful and grand in nature, our affections go out after God. While the spirit is awed, the soul is invigorated by coming in contact with the Infinite through His works. Communion with God through prayer develops the mental and moral faculties, and the spiritual powers strengthen as we cultivate thoughts upon spiritual things  The life of Jesus was a life in harmony with God. While He was a child, He thought and spoke as a child; but no trace of sin marred the image of God within Him. Yet He was not exempt from temptation. The inhabitants of Nazareth were proverbial for their wickedness. The low estimate in which they were generally held is shown by Nathanael’s question, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46. Jesus was placed where His character would be tested. It was necessary for Him to be constantly on guard in order to preserve His purity. He was subject to all the conflicts which we have to meet, that He might be an example to us in childhood, youth, and manhood

Satan was unwearied in his efforts to overcome the Child of Nazareth. From His earliest years Jesus was guarded by heavenly angels, yet His life was one long struggle against the powers of darkness. That there should be upon the earth one life free from the defilement of evil was an offense and a perplexity to the prince of darkness. He left no means untried to ensnare Jesus. No child of humanity will ever be called to live a holy life amid so fierce a conflict with temptation as was our Saviour

The parents of Jesus were poor, and dependent upon their daily toil. He was familiar with poverty, self-denial, and privation. This experience was a safeguard to Him. In His industrious life there were no idle moments to invite temptation. No aimless hours opened the way for corrupting associations. So far as possible, He closed the door to the tempter. Neither gain nor pleasure, applause nor censure, could induce Him to consent to a wrong act. He was wise to discern evil, and strong to resist it.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, pages 70-72

Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 19 (Christmas Trees at Church)

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I was 17, I was attending Oklahoma Adventist Academy, a very conservative, self supporting school. While there, during my own Bible study time I ran across Jeremiah 10, which seemed to me, it was talking about how pagan Christmas trees are.  I asked my English teacher, Mrs. Stienkrause about it. Even though she and the school were very conservative, and even strict, she explained to me that Jeremiah 10 was not talking about Christmas trees, and that Jeremiah was talking about something much more sinister than simply placing a tree inside a house for decoration. After all, it would stand to reason that if we should not have a tree in our house or church for decoration, then we should have no plants at all! This simply is not the case.

You can click here and read and listen to Doug Bachelor, a very conservative Adventist evangelist with Amazing Facts explain the truth about Jeremiah 10 and what it is really talking about.

Below is a quote from Ellen White, on how we can use the Christmas tree to promote the spirit of giving, which is the Spirit of Jesus.

We are now nearing the close of another year, and shall we not make these festal days opportunities in which to bring to God our offerings? I cannot say sacrifices, for we shall only be rendering to God that which is his already, and which he has only intrusted to us till he shall call for it. God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen, and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action, and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.  -Ellen White, Review and Herald,  December 11, 1879 par. 15

Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 8

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, . . . to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5.
“The Saviour’s coming was foretold in Eden. When Adam and Eve first heard the promise, they looked for its speedy fulfillment. They joyfully welcomed their first-born son, hoping that he might be the Deliverer. But the fulfillment of the promise tarried. Those who first received it died without the sight. From the days of Enoch the promise was repeated through patriarchs and prophets, keeping alive the hope of His appearing, and yet He came not. The prophecy of Daniel revealed the time of His advent, but not all rightly interpreted the message. Century after century passed away; the voices of the prophets ceased. The hand of the oppressor was heavy upon Israel, and many were ready to exclaim, “The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth.” Ezekiel 12:22.
But like the stars in the vast circuit of their appointed path, God’s purposes know no haste and no delay. Through the symbols of the great darkness and the smoking furnace, God had revealed to Abraham the bondage of Israel in Egypt, and had declared that the time of their sojourning should be four hundred years. “Afterward,” He said, “shall they come out with great substance.” Genesis 15:14. Against that word, all the power of Pharaoh’s proud empire battled in vain. On “the self-same day” appointed in the divine promise, “it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:41. So in heaven’s council the hour for the coming of Christ had been determined. When the great clock of time pointed to that hour, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”  -Desire of Ages, Pages 31-32