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10 Affectionate Sabbath-keeping

By John Thiel, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, mp3

Scripture reading: Isaiah 63:7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, [and] the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. … 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments, and because it is, it is often looked upon as a legal expectation, and people fall into the danger of coming to the Sabbath as to something which is expected of them, and they see it as a bit of a burden. So many long-time Seventh-day Adventists, people who have grown up in Adventism, look forward to the end of the Sabbath so that they can do what they want and what they like. This has been a burden in my heart over the years, because I was myself brought up in the Seventh-day Adventist church. I grew up with Sabbath-keeping and I saw this sad experience among Adventists as I grew up among them. When the Sabbath came to its end and Saturday night came it was just about a celebration that Sabbath was over – they could now go out and enjoy themselves. But for me Sabbath became an ever-developing and deeper joy, and I wondered what the problem was. Read the rest of this entry

The Afflictions of the Righteous

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Psalms 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD [are] upon the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their cry. 16 The face of the LORD [is] against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 [The righteous] cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” The righteous are afflicted, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. On this planet there are many different reasons for afflictions. It can be because the Lord is against people and He is letting afflictions come their way and destroy them; but there are also afflictions for the righteous. We want to assess the reasons for our sufferings and afflictions. Because afflictions and difficulties come people’s way, they sometimes judge, We must be very bad, we must be wicked. Someone has spoken to me not so long ago that because of a certain problem in somebody’s life they thought there must be a reason for that, that there must be an Achan in the camp.

This kind of thinking can be true, but it doesn’t have to be true. Sometimes things can go wrong for both the good and the bad. There is sometimes a long delay of afflictions, and no release, and people may think that the Lord is not favouring them. That was the case with Job. Therefore we have to be very clear in our mind in reference to the sufferings and afflictions that are upon the people of this planet, and we need to assess the reasons for our sufferings.

The wicked suffer, but so do the righteous. Those that suffer because they are righteous, who are they? They are those who are turning away from evil. These are the people that God’s face is toward, and He wants to help them. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, many, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all. Why can we be afflicted and have just as bad a time, if not sometimes worse a time, than the wicked? We can find two good reasons for that. One of the reasons why the righteous are afflicted is written of in Psalms.

Psalms 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now that I’m afflicted I have kept thy word. This is one reason for the afflictions. It is to stop us from going astray further, to wake us up, to help us understand that I am wrong and I must change my ways. We have that wonderful example in Jesus showing us the way. We are the sinners, He isn’t, but He came down to suffer affliction with us.

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

He was made perfect by the things which He suffered. The sufferings that come upon those that want to follow the Lord are the sufferings which are for purification and cleansing.

God has shown me that He gave His people a bitter cup to drink, to purify and cleanse them. It is a bitter draught, and they can make it still more bitter by murmuring, complaining, and repining. But those who receive it thus must have another draught, for the first does not have its designed effect upon the heart. {EW 47.1}

What we go through is to achieve this?

You notice how a person can go through long bitter experiences. Why? Because the first bitter experience hasn’t had its affect. If the second doesn’t have an affect then they must have another, and another, or they will be left filthy, impure in heart. This kind of affliction is not a punishment, or a judgment, it is something to affect us so that we will examine ourselves, so that through that suffering we will become softened and subdued and have a change of heart.

I saw that this bitter cup can be sweetened by patience, endurance, and prayer, and that it will have its designed effect upon the hearts of those who thus receive it, and God will be honored and glorified. It is no small thing to be a Christian and to be owned and approved of God. {EW 47.1}

As these afflictions take place, they are geared and designed by God. Jesus experienced sufferings that made Him perfect. Before I was afflicted, I went astray but now I will do His will and His words.

Then there is another reason for the righteous to be afflicted:

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

These are people who are righteous. They keep the commandments of God and they have been perfected by suffering. They keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus. Satan makes war with them. That is another reason for afflictions. Here is a comforting statement when we have been afflicted and we make a choice to turn away from our past life:

As soon as Satan sees one soul breaking away from his deceptive lies and coming to the light of truth, he is actively at work to place every conceivable obstacle in his path. {3MR 117.2}

How many obstacles? Every conceivable obstacle. The moment you choose to follow the Lord, Satan is on your track and he is going to give you a hard time.

Let a man or woman become interested in the truth and show respect and obedience to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, let him in good earnest set about the work of repentance and the saving of his soul, and he will assuredly draw upon himself the disfavor and opposition of the circle of his worldly acquaintances. If he is a member of any of the churches, the determined, active opposition of the church members will be set in operation. Every soul who has come to the point to accept advanced truth has realized this in every age of the world. {3MR 117.2}

Everyone who takes a step in the right direction discovers Satan on his track.

No man can serve God without enlisting against himself evil men and evil angels. Evil angels well know that one soul accepting the truth as it is in Jesus, will by precept and example weaken their hold upon other souls, for the truth is aggressive. Alarmed because he is losing his prey, Satan will first seek to deceive, next to oppress and persecute. {3MR 118.1}

It’s not just the truth, but as soon as you take hold of the truth as it is in Jesus then even church members will attack you who are not in favour of that message. Relatives will drag you down. Satan will throw everything across your path. If Satan can’t succeed on one point he will oppress by any conceivable means and persecute.

Evil men, rebuked by the precept and example of those who come to the light of Bible truth, will become agents of the great adversary of souls and will leave no means untried to draw them away from their allegiance to God and induce them to leave the narrow path of holiness. {3MR 118.1}

What path is it? A narrow path, and Satan and his evil angels will do anything to drag you back off that path. This is the reason, another reason for afflictions. It is important for us to know both of these reasons. One is to purify us, and the other one is that because I am deciding to follow Jesus I am having a hard time. I can be encouraged to think that, Alright, that is the reason why I’m having a hard time, because I’m seeking to follow Jesus and the truth as it is in Him. We are living today in a time where these things are more severe than at any other time.

In this time of trial we need to be encouraged and comforted by one another. The temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short, and that very soon every case will be decided, either for life or for death. {CET 103.1}

We need to come together regularly to be comforted and encouraged, because the temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short.

He knows that if he can keep you distracted while your name is coming up in the heavenly sanctuary, he has you. His distractions are greater now than ever before. It is no time now to sink beneath discouragement and trial. How does that reveal itself? It reveals itself in not being so careful anymore. It reveals itself when we remain absent. It reveals itself when we lose our spark of love. Because temptations are worse.

It is no time to sink down beneath discouragement, and trial now; but we must bear up under all our afflictions, and trust wholly in the mighty God of Jacob. {RH, September 1, 1849 par. 1}

I love these readings because they are such meat in due season. They challenge us to take the grit in difficult times.

The Lord has shown me that His grace is sufficient for all our trials; and although they are greater than ever before, yet if we trust wholly in God, we can overcome every temptation, and through His grace come off victorious. {CET 103.1}

If we overcome our trials, and get victory over the temptations of Satan, then we endure the trial of our faith, which is more precious than gold, and are stronger and better prepared to meet the next. But if we sink down and give way to the temptations of Satan, we shall grow weaker and get no reward for the trial, and shall not be so well prepared for the next. In this way we shall grow weaker and weaker, until we are led captive by Satan at his will. {CET 103.2}

When you read that, a spark comes up inside you, No, I will not become a toy in Satan’s hand. I’m going to let Jesus become partner with me and smile at my trials. We must have the whole armour of God and be ready at any moment.

When temptations and trials rush in upon us, let us go to God, and agonize with Him in prayer. He will not turn us away empty, but will give us grace and strength to overcome, and to break the power of the enemy. Oh, that all could see these things in their true light, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus! Then would Israel move forward, strong in God, and in the power of His might. {CET 103.3}

Here is the answer. How many times do we give up and grow weaker and weaker. How many times do we go to God in prayer and keep trying till the light shines thorough? Here is the inspiration. Satan is on our track.

But none need to be alarmed and afraid. God’s word is pledged that if they are true to principle, if they believe and obey all God’s requirements, they are members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. They are certain to have enlisted in their behalf the agencies of heaven and to come off victorious through the merits of Christ–more than conquerors through Him that loved them. {3MR 118.1}

Oh, if we could only see and understand that the repentance of one soul sends inexpressible joy through all the host of heaven. Melody is called forth from every harp and every voice in glorious anthems because another name is registered in the book of life, another light is kindled to shine amid the moral darkness of this corrupt world. The very same event spreads consternation among the fallen angels and humiliates the great leader in the rebellion against God’s holy law. The prince of darkness, seeing a soul whom he has counted his own escaping from under his control as a bird out of the snare of the fowler, and making Christ his refuge, works with hellish intensity to again entrap the one escaped. {3MR 118.2} 

There is more joy in heaven in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance. It is impossible to estimate what may be the work that these souls may accomplish if they go on gathering more and increased light from the Word of God and walk in the way of all His commandments. {3MR 119.1}

Angels rejoice the minute you make a decision to follow the Lord, and the evil angels have consternation. Do you want to humiliate the leader of rebellion? Do this work. As we embrace this reality, and so much the more now because it’s so much more intense than ever before, then we can, in gathering increased light from the word of God and by walking in His commandments, accomplish things that are impossible to estimate. These are words but also realities. How much this has affected my life. You want to keep on doing what is right to conquer the evil one.

If they become channels of light to this dark and irreligious city they will be indeed God’s witnesses and through their fervent piety and Christlike example may be the means of winning souls to the truth.– Ms 46a, 1886, pp. 1-3. (“The Battle Following Conversion,” Counsel to the church at Nimes, France. No date.) Released Oct. 1964. {3MR 119.1}

This is the thrill of persevering. We are living in days where all around us people are crumbling under the sophistries of Satan. If we stand faithful to the Lord in all respects, what a glory to the Lord and how many people out there who are floundering will see, Ah, there are a people here. That is what is written in reference to the latter rain and the call out of Babylon to all these people who are looking for the real thing; they see it, and they say, This is where I want to be, because these people are steadfast in a world that is corrupt. God grant us understanding of these sufferings and afflictions. One is to purify us, and one because Satan wants to crush us. Sorry Satan, you are not going to get me because I am going to flee to my stronghold. You know the love of God, we’ve experienced it. I’ve heard wonderful testimonies from young and old.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

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