The Gift of Prophecy in the Last Days

Ciera 006

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.

What’s the Difference Between Appearing as Evil and Just Being Misjudged?

20150730_113027

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV

A misunderstanding of this verse has crippled the success of many missionaries. A young student loses his parents, and his teacher is afraid to put her arm around his shoulder and comfort him for fear she might be accused of evil. A pastor is having studies with a bar tender in his home and needs to swing by the bar to pick up his umbrella he left, at the bar tender’s home. What will people think if they see him walk into a bar? Is that giving the appearance of evil? No! It is just giving the appearance of walking into a bar!

My purpose here is not to lessen the accountability of Gospel workers. My point is to help us, as missionaries, be healthy and balanced. Yes we must be careful not to put ourselves in compromising positions, but at the same time we must realize, there are some unbalanced people out there who will misconstrue and misrepresent just about everything, and we can’t allow them to cripple our ministry. It reminds me of when, after 9-11, President George Bush told his fellow citizens to go on with their daily lives, regardless of terrorist threats, otherwise the terrorists win. Likewise, if Satan can cripple our ministry by making us over-analyze and stretch our imagination to see how each action and motive can be misconstrued into something evil, then Satan wins.

The truly converted soul is illuminated from on high, and Christ is in that soul “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” His words, his motives, his actions, may be misinterpreted and falsified; but he does not mind it because he has greater interests at stake. –Ellen White, Testimonies, Vol. 5, Page 569

There is a line between giving “the appearance of evil” and someone else judging us.
I have seen other gospel workers’ ministries become totally paralyzed by their understanding of what Paul said about not appearing evil. The NLT version of Paul’s earlier quote simply says,

Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT

Just because someone else judges us does not automatically mean we have given the appearance of evil. And by the way, just because someone claims to have the gift of discerning spirits does not mean they really have that gift. They may just have the gift of judging and causing dissension. Jesus’ own disciples were surprised when they saw Him talking to a woman at the well. The Pharisees judged Jesus for hanging out with prostitutes and publicans, but He never gave “the appearance of evil”! They were judging.

A teacher can put her arms around a hurting child and still stay far from evil.  A pastor can walk into a bar without it appearing to be evil, so long as he does not walk like he is drunk or make jokes about drinking. Joking about drinking oractually insinuating you are doing something evil is when you give the appearance of evil. Just because something can be misconstrued by someone with a dirty mind does not mean it is giving the appearance of evil. It simply means someone has a dirty mind.

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15 NLT

Satan will use unhealthy, unstable people to misconstrue and misjudge our every move. We cannot let God’s work be paralyzed by people with wild and dirty imaginations. The key, I believe, is to have a healthy understanding of where the line is between giving the appearance of actual evil, and someone else just judging according to their unhealthy imagination. We can’t let unhealthy imaginations dictate our mission. It’s a matter of healthy boundaries – knowing where our responsibility ends and others’ responsibility begins.

Joseph had his motives and actions misjudged and misconstrued but in the end Pharaoh himself said,

“Can we find anyone else like this man [Joseph] so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38 NLT

Obviously the prior accusations against Joseph did not mean anything to Pharaoh. He could see right through the false accusations and see Joseph’s mission was filled with the spirit of God. So long as our mission is filled with the Spirit of God, balanced healthy people will see through any false insinuations and God will make our mission successful just like He did for Joseph.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on Biblical Missionaries here.

Abel, Ely, Janice and Ryan’s Profession of Faith

Yesterday was a special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church, as we welcomed four new members into church fellowship by profession of faith. Often our baptized Christian brothers and sister’s who discover the Bible truths taught by the Seventh-day Adventist church,  choose to join by profession of faith, since they have already been baptized into Christ. Please see page 51 of the Adventist church manual.  Please enjoy the pictures and testimonies of yesterday’s wonderful celebration.

Abel and Ely Study

I have had the pleasure of studying with Abel and Ely for the last several months. There home sits near a small lake, and we often enjoyed studying on the balcony overlooking the lake. They love God and His church family with all their hearts, and have already been very active in the church in many different ways, including attending my class on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Christ.

Ely Writes:

“My reconciliation with God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church

After been born and raised in an Adventist family, at the age of 17, decided to take my own path and make my own decisions as an “adult” in spite of my young age.  After such strong determination, left my parent’s coverage facing a new life filled with challenges and lessons which marked me for the rest of my life.   During those years away from the gospel, had intervals and a huge need to return to the ways of the Lord; but the distractions of the world kept me busy, maybe to the point of feeling “attached” which broke my first marriage and each us and our family.  At that very moment, it’s when and where I’d reached bottom and realized that my life had to change once and for all.

Is in the summer of 2010 when my children were with their father for vacation when I’d found myself completely alone and broken; cried out to my God, and asked for his favor to please get me out of the abyss I was in at the time. In a conversation with a former classmate at the seventh-day Adventist Academy, mentioned a book called ‘Knowing Jesus is everything’ (author Alejandro Bullón) and I said: “Let me see, I think I have it in my mini-library” when I go and look for it effectively there it was, still a ‘practically brand new book’.  This book was given to me in the year 2000 during my son’s presentation at church; also traveling to all the sites that I’ve lived; from Puerto Rico to Georgia, Georgia to Germany and Germany to Florida where I currently live.  The year 2010, was the one where the total transformation in my life started, after reading the book. Afterwards, I’d started to attend a non-denominational church where I was baptized in 2011 by both the pastor of the Church and the man who became my husband.  Only God knew what he was doing in my life.   I had no idea that God had that gift of a man, a true man of God and also that he will forgive me for all my sins and loved me and saved me and my children.

After my baptism, one of my former classmates of the Academy says “Ely, you know the truth” and I said “I won’t return to the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, I have a relationship with God and it is all that I need ‘. Looking here and there for churches, one morning passed through the Avenue in front of this church and I saw the sign that says” Seventh Day Adventist Church”. I remember a day like it was yesterday, it was the beginning of 2012 when I decided to take the step and stop by the church.  I got ready and drove to church; when I got there, Sister Isoline and the teacher Millie Mojica welcomed me and my family with such love and for the glory of God it remind me of my school days in the seventh-day Adventist Academy in Caguas, PR. At that moment, the promise of God that says: Stay faithful and I will give you the desires of your heart! Amen! I decided to establish myself in this church and told my husband “I’m not sure which church you want to belong to, but I am staying here” hoping that he was feeling the same way and to my surprise, he was. The Adventist Church is more than a church or organization, is a difference, in love and dedication all around the world. Even in Germany I found the ‘Pathfinders’ without looking for them and it brought back many memories.

My fellow brothers and sisters, the bible verse who says “Instruct the child in its way and even if it will be old will not separate of it” it became true testimony in my life. I felt as the bountiful son who was lost and returned. After trying to fill the emptiness in my life on my own, God filled me completely with the truth of the Adventism for his glory and honor. During all this process in my life my children, clearly, also were marked. To feel the voice of my son saying to me ‘Mami thanks for changing and being at home, you stopped going to clubs and now we have you here at home and in the church’. You will not know, how my son broke my heart with these words, but only it was looking at God and was giving him the glory and honor because it protected me and received me once again with open arms at home.

This is just a short part of my testimony, which I just shared with you, it’s meant for those parents who pray for  their children for them not to get tired or give up on them and for them not to stop doing it.   Also it’s intended for those children who have been feeling “aggravated” because of their parent’s ways of caring, to please  love them and forgive them because they are not perfect in any way, and for them to understand that we enter entire perfection when we turn to the arms of our Creator. These last months with the Pastor William in our house, God’s plan refreshed our beliefs and what we learned in previous years and now comprehend as adults for our lives under the coverage of the Adventism.”

Ely also supplied me with some pictures of her baptism in the same Word document she sent with her testimony. I could not get the pictures to transfer from Word to this post, but the entire testimony in Spanish with pictures are provided by just clicking on the word “Ely” on the line below.

El testimonio de Ely con fotos Ely

923281_10151619600709882_1677775585_n

Several Sundays ago we had a work bee at the church and Abel and Ely faithfully participated along with several other church family members. Abel is on far right. Ely is behind the camera.

DSC_0811[1]

Pastor Brad, Center, prepared Ryan (on Pastor Brad’s left with his wife Erika)  and Janice (on Pastor Brad’s right with her boyfriend David)  to join by profession of faith.

Janice writes:

“I would like to start by thanking the congregation. I feel blessed to become a member of the church. I’ve been searching for God’s truth and The Lord led me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Looking forward to continuance growth spiritually through the church.”

DSC_0807[1]

While we presented the candidates to the church family, Abel thanks the church congregation for being family, and commended the church leadership for encouraging us all to grow together in Christ.Davis Island Dusk

Please don’t allow the sun to go down on you before you give your heart to the One who gave His life for you! I would love to talk to you about giving your heart to Jesus and becoming a part of His body which is His church. If you are not int he Tampa Bay area, you can still contact me and I will be happy to help you find a Grace filled Bible based church in your corner of the world. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

The Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness

Clear Water 7

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Many Adventists and former Adventists either have the Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness. Where does the bitterness come from?

This week’s SS lesson focuses on the book of Joel, which speaks about the Holy Spirit and gift of prophecy being poured out in the latter days. See Joel 2:28-29. Paul reminds us again that the gift of prophecy will endure as long as God has a church. Ephesians 4:11-13. Still, with all the false prophets today, people are skeptical of anybody being a true prophet. That is nothing new. What prophet has ever been accepted in his or her own time or place?

A few days ago someone shared a website with me that bashed Seventh-day Adventists and Ellen White. This site said Adventists were a cult because we are trying to be saved by keeping the commandments. That is not true. We keep*, (treasure* or cherish* is the literal translation in the Hebrew) the commandments because we love Jesus. John 14:15. This site also said we are trying to work our way to heaven by keeping the Sabbath. I don’t know how they came up with that one. We don’t rest on Sabbath so we can be saved by working. That accusation, like most accusations you find on anti-Adventist or anti-Ellen White websites do not even make any sense if you just stop to honestly think about it. The Sabbath is not a sign of works. It is a sign of rest. The Sabbath is a sign we are NOT saved by works.

I have to wonder what spirit is behind their accusations. After all, I am not a Mormon, but I respect them and have no reason or desire to run an anti-Mormon website.  I don’t accept their prophet Joseph Smith, but again I have no desire to run an anti-Joseph Smith website. Each to their own, I say. So I wonder why some people have the obsession to bitterly bash Ellen White and Adventists. The point I am trying to make is, while I do not believe in Joseph Smith, I am still not angry and bitter about it. The anti-Ellen White and anti-Adventist websites often have a bitterness that you cannot ignore.

Problem is, Adventists have also been misrepresented by their own people, and Ellen White has been misrepresented by her own fans. Please keep in mind, if I wear my Tampa Bay Rays baseball jersey into Yankee stadium and start throwing my nachos at the Yankee fans, that I am not properly representing the Tampa Bay Rays. Just because a Tampa Bay Rays fan does something does not mean the Tampa Bay Rays did it. They would be appalled by it. Same with the Adventist Church and Ellen White. They do not condone the action of all of their fans.

I do not know if Ellen White would approve of a compilation book called Messages to Young People, where everything she wrote was literally and blatantly taken out of context and then placed in a book to beat young people over the head.

There is much counsel, which was written to specific people, and what God leads me to see in her writings may not be what He is needing everyone to see. What I read I need to pray and apply to myself instead of hitting my neighbor over the head with it. In a church district where I served years ago, we had a lady who read Ellen White all the time. I mean all the time. So much so, that she never had time to help with Vacation Bible School when we needed her, or to help with Community Services when a tornado struck. She could never help. She was too busy reading Ellen White books.

Ellen White was balanced. Not all of her fans are though. The Adventist Church is balanced but not all of its members are. Hopefully we balance each other out. That being said, I guess I do understand where some of the bitterness can come from. But please do not become bitter of Ellen White or anyone else for that matter, because of someone else’s misrepresentation of her. Please don’t judge a sports team by its fans.The team may be nothing like their fans.

Let me just come right out and say here, the point of my post is not so much addressing whether or not Ellen White is still relevant to today’s church or not, but regardless of what people believe, why do some need to be so bitter about it? That being said, I believe if the Adventist Church and Ellen White had been properly represented, regardless if people believe in them or not, at least they would not be so bitter towards them.

Could the spirit behind their attacks be found in Revelation 12:17?

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.”

Keeping the commandments is not a sign we are a cult. It is a sign we are God’s children!

None of us likes it when other people put words in our mouths. If you have visited a website bashing Seventh-day Adventists, I would like to invite you to a website where you can find the truth about Adventists. Even if you do not want to be one, its only fair that Adventists are rightfully understood. No one likes to be misunderstood.

Every month someone sends me a magazine which bitterly bashes Seventh-day Adventists. Again, I find this very strange that someone wants to spend their time, energy and money bitterly lashing out at any Christian denomination. Bitterly bashing people is just not in my psyche I guess.

While I have made a habit of tossing this magazine into the trashcan next to my mailbox every month, this time I did happen to open a couple pages. One page was an article saying that the Spirit of Prophecy is about the Holy Spirit and not Ellen White. Well of course it is. 2 Peter 1:21 tells us all the prophets wrote or spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So when a prophet has the Spirit of Prophecy it is from the Holy Spirit and not from him or herself.  In other words, the Holy Spirit gives His own prophecies to men to share with us. The fact that Ellen White’s writings are from the Holy Spirit and not herself, gives it even more merit.

Some like to point out supposed contradictions in her writings. Bible skeptics use the same logic to discount the Bible that Spirit of Prophecy skeptics use to discount Ellen White. People can find things in the Bible to look like a contradiction, but once you study it out and think about it you realize it is not a contradiction. It’s the same with Ellen White. I have seen a handful of people myself, who have stopped believing in Ellen White’s writings, and then stopped believing in the Bible and God all together. Christians need to be aware, that the same supposed logic that will lead you not to believe in the writings of Ellen White will also lead you to stop believing in the Bible and God.

I hear people say Ellen White is too legalistic and conservative. This year I have been reading through the Testimonies to the Church, by Ellen White, and what I have been finding over and over is that she actually attacks legalism. She is far from conservative, and being legalistic and works orientated. In her writings I find grace and mercy. I find her to be very balanced, and if she has to go to either extreme she goes to the side of mercy. A lot of anti-Ellen White people have never read her for themselves. I invite you to do so. After all, you would not want someone telling people about you. If you are like me, you want people to get to know you personally instead of just going by what they hear. I invite you to get know Ellen White for yourself.

Here is a link where you can explore the writings of Ellen White and find the treasures of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Also if you have been to any of the anti-Ellen White websites, the links below may help you find factual and logical answers to some of her critics.

http://www.ellenwhite.info/ 

http://www.ellenwhiteanswers.org/

http://www.ellengwhitetruth.com/

Here is a link where you can find out how to tell from the Bible if someone really has the gift of prophecy or not.

I hope you find it to be as great a blessing as I have. If you decide not to accept her as a prophet I hope we can still be friends. There is no reason to be bitter either way. The Spirit of Bitterness, accusations, and finding fault with other peoples religions comes from Satan, not from God.

And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. Revelation 12:17 NLT