Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson

Esther and Mordecai

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Pope Calls for Sunday Rest

After the Vatican has called for national Sunday laws, the pope now calls it "freedom" to rest on the sun day.

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Nature Testifies of God

Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity

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Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of death."     Revelation 1:18.

Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven.

Justification by Faith

Signs of the Times

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Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars....For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

 

 

Christian History

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In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

A Faithful Record

Nature God's Second Book

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Nature is an open book which reveals God. All who are attracted to nature may behold in it the God that created them.

Book of Nature

 

Elder Wilson Addresses God's Church

Elder Ted N C Wilson addressed the World Church this Sabbath as the re-elected president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

 

 

 

Cross the Jordan, Don't Retreat

 

Good morning, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ! God has greatly blessed in allowing us the privilege to worship together in San Antonio on this last Sabbath morning of the 60th General Conference session. We come from all parts of the globe. People filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to proclaim the three angels’ messages with greater power as we learn from Jesus everyday what it means to be His followers united this morning as God’s great Advent movement and spiritual family. We thank the Lord for the ways He has led this General Conference Session during the last 10 days and we give Him all the glory for the unity and singleness of purpose in accomplishing His mission for this dying Earth.

As I stated five years ago, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s remnant movement made up of those who according to Revelation 12:17 keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and we are on a heaven-directed journey. We must go forward, not backward, because we are almost home! I am more convinced than ever that Jesus’ return is near, even at the door! Our session theme song that has served us well for so many years, “We Have this Hope,” proclaims the great expectation of Seventh-day Adventists all around the world — Jesus is coming soon!

[Wilson repeats this phrase in 10 other languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Tagalog]

And in so many other languages of the world we share those words of encouragement and hope. It’s the great theme of this 2015 General Conference session: ”Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!”

We long for Jesus’ return. But why are we still here? For some time, Jesus has longed to come back. We have no more time prophecies. Those ended in 1844 with the beginning of the investigative judgment. At this very moment, Christ is ministering for us in the most holy place of a real sanctuary in heaven. He wants to pour out the latter rain of the Holy Spirit upon His people to finish His work on this Earth. He longs for us to humble ourselves before Him and lean completely upon His everlasting arms. He wants us to share His good news of salvation that we are saved by grace and that not of ourselves lest we should boast, but it is a gift of God as we read in Ephesians 2:8-9. As we share His righteousness of justification and sanctification that works in us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” as Philippians 2:13 tells us. As we share that the work that He has begun He “will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” as Philippians 1:6 states. But we are Laodicean and need to humble ourselves before the Lord and buy of Him, as instructed in Revelation 3:18, “gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”

Yes, Lord. Take us, mold us, make us and fill us. Revive and reform us through your daily sanctifying power as we read your Holy Word, your Spirit of Prophecy and earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yes, Revival and Reformation for this new quinquennium and until the end of probation. “Revival and Reformation: You, Your Family, Your Church, Your Community.” We want this experience through the blood and grace of Jesus Christ and a daily walk with Him. We want to go home!

We know the signs of Matthew 24 and realize political challenges are now beyond the control of most governments today, economic conditions are fragile and untrustworthy, natural disasters are increasing in intensity and destruction, social changes are challenging the very Word of God, ecumenism is rapidly growing in its false, non-biblical and neutralizing influence on society and yet we are still here. But God says, “Arise! Shine!” He is telling us to be powerful testimonies of Christ’s marvelous message to this chaotic world indicating that the great controversy is about to close and Jesus will return for His people! Three times in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:7, 12 and 20, Jesus Himself says, “I am coming quickly.” Lord, we want to go home! We want to cross over the Jordan River to the Promised Land. Open the way before us. Take us through the water. We place our trust completely in you. Lead us through the raging Jordan to our everlasting home and don’t let us retreat. Help us to fully depend on you for every need in spite of the temptation to retreat. You are our Rock and Salvation. Help us to cross the Jordan and not retreat!

Turn with me to Deuteronomy 34:1-5. “Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land. Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.’ So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.”

Moses was so close and yet so far. The Bible indicates that when Moses died, God Himself buried him. We know that God raised Moses back to life and took him to heaven as an example of those who will die in Christ and be raised through His reviving power of His second coming trumpet sound.

About a year ago, it was a privilege to stand on Mount Nebo and look out at the vast plains below, north towards the Sea of Galilee, across the Jordan River to Jericho, southward to the Dead Sea. It was a thrilling experience to realize that God spoke to Moses there and let him see the future history of Israel’s ups and downs, their revived commitment to God, and their falling away back into self-centered and idolatrous practices. He saw their subjection to foreign powers. He saw Jesus coming as a baby and His wonderful, perfect life and ministry. He saw the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal, the beatings and the crucifixion. Patriarchs and Prophets, page 475-476, says, “His heart was wrung with anguish, and bitter tears fell from his eyes, in sympathy with the sorrow of the Son of God. Grief, indignation, and horror filled the heart of Moses as he viewed the hypocrisy and satanic hatred manifested by the Jewish nation against their Redeemer. He heard Christ’s agonizing cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ (Mark 15:34). But he looked again, and beheld Him coming forth a conqueror, and ascending to heaven escorted by adoring angels and leading a multitude of captives. He saw the shining gates open to receive Him, and the host of heaven with songs of triumph welcoming their Commander. And it was there revealed to him that he himself would be one who should attend the Saviour, and open to Him the everlasting gates.”

God revealed to Moses the history of the Christian church as the disciples preached the Gospel, how all those who accepted Christ’s message would become, by faith, part of Abraham’s seed making “to the world the law of God and the gospel of His Son” (PP 476). He saw the Christian world profess to accept Christ but deny God’s law. He saw the seventh-day Sabbath ignored and rejected by the majority but respected by a faithful few. Patriarchs and Prophets, page 477, says, “He saw the last great struggle of earthly powers to destroy those who keep God’s law. He heard God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law. He saw the second coming of Christ in glory.” Then he saw the New Earth, the Promised Land more beautiful than anything that was spread out before him. Patriarchs and Prophets, page 477, describes it this way, “With joy unutterable Moses looks upon the scene — the fulfillment of a more glorious deliverance than his brightest hopes have ever pictured. Their earthly wanderings forever past, the Israel of God have at last entered the goodly land.”

Let’s go to Mt. Nebo for a few moments where Moses viewed this prophetic vision of the future.

[Audience was shown a video clip of Wilson on Mt. Nebo]

What a privilege Moses had seeing what God was going to do for His people throughout history up until today. We will soon cross the figurative Jordan into that Promised Land and be welcomed by the Father, by Christ, by the Holy Spirit, by Moses, by Elijah, by Enoch and the angels.

But back to the Israelites, they were still on the east side of the Jordan after their 40 years in the wilderness. They had not crossed yet. They spent thirty days mourning the loss of Moses. Not until he had been taken from them did they fully understand his fatherly role in their lives, his wisdom and counsel. However they were not alone. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night over the sanctuary were constant reminders that the Mighty God was by their side. Brothers and sisters, the Almighty God is with us today in this dome and around the world as we prepare to cross the Jordan. Don’t retreat!

As Moses’ understudy, Joshua became the recognized leader of Israel. He was courageous, quiet, faithful, firm, caring, loyal and had complete faith in God. It was Joshua whom God chose to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land through God’s complete and supernatural power.

Our Scripture reading in Joshua 1:2 tells us God spoke directly to Joshua saying, “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan” GO OVER THIS JORDAN … DON’T RETREAT … CROSS THE JORDAN … ”you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them … every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you.” Joshua and the children of Israel were not to be discouraged or retreat. God continued in verses 6 and 7 with words for us today in San Antonio, “Be strong and of good courage. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Seventh-day Adventist believers, be of good courage in the Lord, ask Him to help us keep His moral law and make God’s Holy Word central in all we do. Don’t get stuck on one side or the other of the road. Stay in the middle of God’s will, cross the Jordan and don’t retreat!

God’s Holy Word — what a precious book this is! His law, His prophecies, His instructions, His gospel, His love letters to us. You can count on the Word of God!

I have three Bibles with me and they are precious. Two of them belonged to ordained ministers of the gospel who have died in Jesus. This first Bible was my grandfather’s, N.C. Wilson — the first N.C.

Grandpa was a wonderful student of the Word. He would write me letters of encouragement when I was a young pastor. I loved my Grandma and Grandpa Wilson. They both loved the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy.

This second Bible was my dear father’s, Neal C. Wilson — the second N.C. Dad taught me to revere and believe in God’s Holy Word. Dad loved to preach from the Word, an inexhaustible source of God’s instruction. Both my precious mother and dear father loved the Holy Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. They both bequeathed to me a complete trust in and love for a plain reading of the Word of God and a great appreciation for the Spirit of Prophecy. I never heard one disparaging remark from my parents about the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy, only great respect and acceptance.

I plead with you to have that same love and respect for this Book and the Spirit of Prophecy. If you haven’t read much from either one for a while, pick up the Bible and read it. Pick up Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, The Ministry of Healing, The Great Controversy, Patriarchs and Prophets, the Testimonies or any other Spirit of Prophecy book and read it. See what God will do for your heart and life. Participate with church members all over this globe as we begin this quinquennium by daily reading one chapter of the Bible and approximately two pages of the Conflict of the Ages series. Last quinquennium it was a joy to read the Bible through and this quinquennium will be the same. Of course, if you are on your own reading program, please move ahead, but let’s experience the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy in our lives everyday.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we fully accept the Bible as God’s inspired Word. We understand the Spirit of Prophecy to be the lesser light, inspired by that same heavenly inspiration that leads to the greater light, the Bible. At the last General Conference session that Ellen White attended, she delivered her message and left the platform. She stopped and returned taking the large pulpit Bible in her hands and proclaimed, “I commend to you this Book.” Brothers and sisters, if we wish to cross the Jordan, let’s seriously read God’s Word letting its instructions, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, change our lives. David said in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” You can count on God’s Word and His Spirit of Prophecy!

And here is my Bible. I’ve had it now for five years since at that time I lost another precious Bible on an airplane. I bought this one and have cherished it. However, since that time, I have lost THIS Bible two times, but both times the Lord has miraculously returned it to me. It is precious not only because it is my study and preaching Bible, but because it is the Word of God! Someone who retrieved this Bible the last time I lost it, gave me a special connection so I won’t lose it again. It is “Ted’s Bible’s Leash!” My friends, I may lose this actual Bible again, but I will not lose God’s Holy Word because it can never be lost! God’s Word is sure and foundational. It is everlasting and you can believe this Word — as it reads!

This precious Book, the Bible, is true and reliable. You can read it in the plain language of your choice and it rings true!

Yes, God actually created this world recently in six, literal, consecutive days and rested on the seventh-day Sabbath and asks us to do the same as an eternal sign of our allegiance to Him. The Israelites did miraculously cross the Red Sea! God did provide manna! The Ten Commandments were written with God’s own finger! The sanctuary service does show Christ’s salvation and ministry on earth and in heaven! Jesus did come as a babe, lived a perfect life, died for us, rose for us, went to heaven and will return in like manner! Christ is ministering for us as our High Priest and entered the most holy place in 1844 to complete His investigative judgment! Jesus is coming again! God’s Word is accurate and true and can be understood. Just. As. It. Reads.

Joshua 1:8-9 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have a good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage: do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This was God’s signal to the Israelites to cross the Jordan. Joshua commanded the crossing preparation.

Joshua 3:1 says Joshua rose early and all the Children of Israel lodged at the edge of the river. The test had come. It was again time to see God’s great miracles! Verse 3 says, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” Verse 5 instructed, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” As we humble ourselves before the Lord and each other, as we plead with God for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, as we allow the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit to make us more and more like Christ, we will see “wonders” among us as the Advent message goes like wildfire!

In verse 9, Joshua told the people, “Hear the words of the Lord your God.” God promised to drive out the inhabitants of the Promised Land.

The next developments are riveting! Joshua 3:14-16 records, “When the people set out from the camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still and rose in a heap very far away.”

It was the springtime and the water was very high. Patriarchs and Prophets, page 483 reports, “The host descended to the border of the Jordan. All knew, however, that without divine aid they could not hope to make the passage. At that time of the year — in the spring season — melting snows of the mountains had so raised the Jordan that the river overflowed its banks, making it impossible to cross at the usual fording places. God willed that the passage of Israel over the Jordan should be miraculous.”

Many times God leads us into difficult or impossible situations where we give Him the glory when we see how He arranges our progress through that difficulty. Brothers and sisters, cross the Jordan, don’t retreat! Do we react by giving God glory when He opens the way for us? That’s why God wants us to remember His interventions in our lives and set up landmark memorials to never forget to “Cross the Jordan and don’t retreat.”

Verse 17 says the priests who carried the ark into the middle of the Jordan stayed there until the people had crossed the river. Before the priests left, Joshua called for representatives from each of the twelve tribes to take a large rock from the riverbed to represent their tribe in setting up a memorial. Joshua 4:6-7 says, “That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

There has always been a need to remember, to establish something that will constantly remind you. That was the purpose of the stone landmark monument of the Israelites’ crossing, to remember what God had done. That’s exactly why He wants us to remember what is happening here in San Antonio, what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, that our mission is to proclaim “Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!” You are the “landmarks.” God has a special purpose for each of us who make up His remnant church to remember how He has led in the past.

In Life Sketches, page 196, we read, “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”

What a privilege to testify of God’s power in leading His Advent movement and what He will do during the final days of earth’s history! Of course, God does not only wish that we remember, He wants us to actively participate in the real mission of His church, the reason you and I are members of this precious Seventh-day Adventist Church. I call on all local church members everywhere to participate in a vibrant Revival and Reformation — You, Your Family, Your Church, Your Community! Lay members, I challenge you to become involved in the daily mission of the church far more than you ever have before. We are counting on you! God is counting on you! You are a “landmark,” a walking testimony and memorial for God’s truth. Become involved in the greatest evangelistic and mission outreach possible. Take time to read and pray about the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist strategic plan, “Reach the World.” It is your plan. It is our plan. It is God’s plan. Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. All of us are to be in involved in it — either through personal witnessing, small group evangelism or public evangelism in its various forms. Every time I preach a full evangelistic series like I did in May in Harare, Zimbabwe, I get spiritually re-energized and more grounded in the marvelous Biblical understanding that God has given to us as Seventh-day Adventists. I get so excited about God’s logical, solid precious Advent message. I appeal to all our administrators, pastors and lay people everywhere, become involved in personal and especially public evangelism even if you think it won’t work where you live. Adapt your methods, but reach out. Every effort, under God’s guidance, that you make in reaching the hearts of people will bear fruit. Evangelism is not dead! It is more alive than ever before! God is in it! It’s His plan. He will bless it!

We are in this together under the omnipotent hand of God, church leaders and church members working hand in hand for mission outreach. Watch Him work as we learn to lean completely on His power. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, page 117 says, “The work of God in this Earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those ministers and church officers.” God wants us to unite in the greatest mission outreach the world has ever seen. The latter rain of the Holy Spirit will fall and the work will be finished.

Church members, let the Holy Spirit revolutionize your thinking. Take the church’s mission of outreach into your hands on a daily basis working closely with church leaders and pastors. Let it be total participation. Don’t only get involved in the mechanics of the church. Yes, you do need to be involved in the inner working of the church to keep it moving ahead, but even more, we need a total empowerment of lay people in carrying the burden of the church’s evangelistic and mission outreach along with pastors and church workers. Tell someone else about your relationship with Christ! It’s time to go home! “Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!” Take up God’s command, “Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat!”

Young people of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this is your church. This is your Advent movement. This is your mission. Christ is your Master. Take advantage of every opportunity of service for others in Jesus’ name! Take up God’s command, “Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat.”

Pastors, health professionals and teachers, you are doing a wonderful work for the Lord. Stay strong in God’s Word. Remain grounded in the pillars of God’s Advent movement. Take up God’s command, “Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat.”

Husbands, wives and families, don’t allow anything to creep into your homes that will distract you from God’s plans for you and your children. Eliminate any television, social media, music, books and other influences that will distract you from Jesus and His biblical truth. Take up God’s command, “Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat.”

I appeal to all of us in the church to put away differences of opinion, to humble ourselves before God. Now is the time to unify under Christ, our Righteousness.

Counsels to Ministers, page 145, tells us that, “In loving sympathy and confidence God’s workers are to unite with one another. He who says or does anything that tends to separate the members of Christ’s church is counterworking the Lord’s purpose. Wrangling and dissension in the church, the encouragement of suspicion and unbelief, are dishonoring to Christ.” God spoke through Ellen White with a pleading entreaty to each of us in Testimonies, Vol. 9, page 219, “I pray that He will soften and subdue every heart. … Let there be no self-exaltation. If the workers will humble their hearts before God, the blessing will come.”

As we unite under God’s direction, He is leading His children toward the Jordan in so many ways around the world as heaven touches their lives and those with whom they come in contact. I think of Tihomir Min, a Bulgarian-Vietnamese young man I met last year in Hanoi who shared his personal testimony and ongoing journey towards God’s truth. Tihomir wondered about God and his roots while growing up in Bulgaria with a Bulgarian mother and Vietnamese father. When he was about ten, his parents divorced. Tihomir faced challenges in his search for God including attacks by evil spirits as he tried to find peace. He prayed that if there was a God, would He please help him. Suddenly, he began to find relief and encouragement. He finally found a Christian website which offered him encouragement, some CDs and the book The Great Controversy. He found out that the administrator of the website was a Seventh-day Adventist. Reading The Great Controversy led Tihomir to read the Bible, which excited him greatly and changed his life. He said, “My life changed when I opened my eyes for God.”

Tihomir felt compelled to travel to Vietnam. He found part of his family there, but he discovered a much larger and greater family, the family of God. While in Vietnam, Tihomir experienced some difficult challenges and looked for a church. He tried to find a Seventh-day Adventist Church but we do not own a single building and have only a small number of believers in that great city. The Southern Asia-Pacific Division, the Southeast Asia Union, the Vietnam Mission, the General Conference and others have plans to see God’s work established in a stronger way in that major capital city. If there is someone who would like to assist in some way, please contact the Southern Asia-Pacific Division or our office.

Tihomir searched the Internet to find the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hanoi. He finally found information and said he didn’t know what we really believed but wanted to visit to find out. He began meeting with our small Sabbath-keeping group that has primarily ADRA/Vietnam workers. Tihomir continued to attend because he found so many happy and encouraging people. Eventually, he became much more acquainted with Christ and our biblical beliefs. He was overjoyed to find peace at last. Tihomir was baptized and joined the small Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hanoi. He still has personal challenges and difficulties in his Christian journey but he is witnessing to so many people in high levels of society and is learning more about walking with God every step of the way. In spite of the problems he still faces, he says that finding God was the best thing that has ever happened in his life. Pray for Tihomir in his daily walk with the Lord as God leads him towards the crossing of the Jordan and the Promised Land.

I think of Dolores Slikkers, a wonderfully loving and generous church member, who, along with her devoted husband, Leon, helped so many students to find real meaning in life bringing glory to God in their professions. Last March at the Andrews University Board meeting, there was a vacant chair in front of Dolores’ nameplate and some lovely flowers placed there by Niels-Erik Andreasen, Andrews University president, as a token of respect and hope. You see, Dolores died last December in a car accident but awaits her coming King who will lead her across the Jordan to the Promised Land along with hundreds of students she helped.

I think of Ricky, a deaf-mute young man from Riveralta, Bolivia, whose prayers were answered after he began to study the Bible on his own. According to Winston Sarzuri, East Bolivia Mission Personal Ministries and Evangelism Director and Robert Costa, associate GC Ministerial secretary, Ricky came in contact with the church and its Biblical teachings through the Internet. In the public school where Ricky studied there are several other young deaf students. Among those students without disabilities, there was a faithful young Seventh-day Adventist girl who was asking God how to share with her classmates the love of Jesus, His saving power and the joyous hope it brings. When she realized that Ricky was really interested in studying the Bible, she pushed herself in record time to learn sign language in order to witness for Christ. As this faithful girl shared Jesus with Ricky through sign language, he accepted Christ and all our fundamental beliefs. He became a strong disciple and a Bible instructor who taught the Advent message to eight other deaf students. Last April, all the deaf students from that school attended an evangelistic series in Bolivia led by John Bradshaw of It Is Written. The local government leader in charge of the deaf attended the meetings to translate in sign language and was impressed that our church was interested in the deaf group and she is now interested in Seventh-day Adventist beliefs! She and her deaf husband are in contact with our local pastors to obtain Adventist materials for the deaf. Let’s always show interest in groups with special needs. Take time for those in special situations with whom you can share Christ and this precious Advent message. As a result, a new congregation is on the horizon with many potential deaf-mute as members in Santa Cruz, the largest city in Bolivia. Last April, Ricky was baptized. He came out of the water with glad sign language gestures, telling the world how happy he was to give his life to Jesus.

My fellow church members here in this dome and those watching worldwide, do not be discouraged as you march towards the crossing of the Jordan. We are nearing home! We are almost there! Do not be distracted or dismayed. Go forward with complete trust in the Creator, the Redeemer, the Lamb and the High Priest who tells us in Hebrews 4:16 to “come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” That time of need may be upon you now and it certainly is coming in the near future according to biblical prophecy when our only hope and salvation will be in totally leaning on Christ, the Rock. He is what we need right now in our worldwide work of proclaiming the three angels’ messages entrusted to us by heaven.

Jesus, with His grace, His strength, His matchless love and His righteousness, is the core of the three angels’ messages and is the only answer for making it across the Jordan. Let us claim the marvelously comforting and encouraging promises of Psalm 37:5-7, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”

God is calling you today to join in the final proclamation of Christ’s salvation, His good news and His soon coming!

Let’s believe God’s Word, believe the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation, believe the Spirit of Prophecy. Jesus is coming soon! What a day that will be! Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat into disbelief and cynicism.

We are saved through the justifying and sanctifying power of Jesus Christ and Him alone — saved through His righteousness. God’s sanctuary service points to Christ and His righteousness and should be thoroughly studied and shared. Dig deep in your understanding of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Stay away from superficiality and the suggestion to just say “Jesus” and ignore Christ’s doctrinal truths. My brothers and sisters, our biblical foundational beliefs and fundamental doctrines all have Christ at the center of each one. What a privilege to share this prophetic message and humbly ask God for revival and reformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat into legalism, mysticism, superficiality or meaningless emotionalism.

The three angels’ messages are to be proclaimed with Holy Spirit power by each of us. Live the truth through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and your diligent study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat toward worldly or unbiblical contemporary ideas about theology or carelessness in Christian practical living!

Accept and promote God’s complete health message that can bless us physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Use this right arm of comprehensive health ministry in reaching people in Mission to the Cities and in the rural areas. It is exciting to see how people are accepting the health emphasis with full commitment to allowing God to control their lives and their lifestyles. Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat into skepticism, higher criticism, fanaticism or formalism!

One of these days very soon, we will look up and see a small, dark cloud about half the size of a man’s hand. It will get larger and brighter. All of heaven poured out for this climactic event with millions of angels making up that marvelous cloud with a brilliant rainbow above and lightning beneath. Right in the middle of that incredible cloud will be the One we have waited for, the One who is altogether lovely, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, coming as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We will look up and say, “This is the God we have waited for” and Christ will look down and say, “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord.” At last we will be with Him and receive the reward of the righteous who have depended completely on Jesus. We will figuratively cross the Jordan to begin the final journey through space to enter the Promised Land in heaven. We will be with Him in a perfect setting never again to part as a fulfillment of His promises unfolded in Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible. In verses 3 to 7 we read that, “There shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. The he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’”

Those are God’s promises for you, for me and for this remnant church, His Advent movement. That wonderful Promised Land revealed in Revelation is where we will go as we rise to meet Him in the air. We will cross the Jordan and go to heaven to be with Him forever. What a day that will be! By the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ, I want to be there that day!

If that is your wish, as you humbly submit to Christ and sharing His love and prophetic messages with the world, would you join me in standing right now?

As we commit ourselves into the hands of Jesus, our Almighty Captain, He will lead us across the Jordan and into the Promised Land! Reach the World with the extraordinary Good News of ultimate victory through the blood and grace of our Creator, Redeemer, High Priest, Coming King and Best Friend, Jesus Christ! “Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!”

 

Election of Elder Wilson as GC President

Prior to the vote on women's ordination, I asked Pastor Kevin Paulson, a member of the study committee on women's ordination, to share with us his thoughts on the session beginning with the re-election of Elder Wilson as General Conference president.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church and UN Need to be More Concerned About Religious Liberty

 
Adventist leader calls for greater focus on those jailed for their faith

photo courtesy of Ganuone Diop

The plight of those imprisoned for their faith should be higher on the agenda of international watchdog agencies and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, says world church United Nations liaison, Ganoune Diop, PhD.

Diop made his comments on return from Geneva, Switzerland, where he represented the church at the United Nations Human Rights Council, which began a three-week session June 15 at the Palais des Nations. While there, Diop attended key meetings and discussion panels, and met with Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Diop, who regularly attends United Nations’ meetings in Geneva and New York, says that, in general, the issue of religious freedom tends to be treated as a less-important “younger sibling” in the pantheon of human rights.

“Yet, religious freedom is foundational and it’s interconnected with all other human rights,” says Diop. “A state that respects an individual’s right to hold, practice, or change their religious beliefs, is a state that most likely protects human dignity in other ways, as well. Human rights can’t be artificially separated out; they’re intertwined.”

Prisoners of conscience were the focus of one meeting Diop attended in Geneva. Apart from occasional high-profile cases, says Diop, the tragedy of men and women who are imprisoned for religious reasons is one that receives relatively little publicity.

“This needs to change,” Diop adds. “In many countries today—in the Middle East or central Asia, for instance—religious minorities face legal sanctions simply for practicing their faith, or sharing it with others. We must never forget our brothers and sisters who pay a terrible price for staying true to their conscience.”

Diop says the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the Adventist world church is looking for ways to establish a better tracking system for church members who suffer unjust imprisonment, and to coordinate an appropriate response. He points to the recent two-year ordeal of Antonio Monteiro, an Adventist pastor in Togo, as just one example of how religious biases can complicate legal proceedings. Monteiro was jailed under a spurious “conspiracy to murder” charge, but was ultimately acquitted.

The UN Human Rights Council continues its work until July 3. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, opened the session with an overview of current pressing issues. He named the plight of migrants attempting to escape poverty, war, or repression for a better life in Europe, South-East Asia, and Australia. He also spoke about the crisis in Syria, the rise of violent extremism around the globe, and the challenge of protecting and promoting the rights of women. According to High Commissioner, the basic message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that, “States owe their people justice, equality and dignity, under the rule of law.”

 

Health Expo in North Colombia

Adventists promote health and spread hope in North Colombia

 
Adventists promote health and spread hope in North Colombia

Seventh-day Adventists on the streets of Cúcuta      Photo: Shirley Rueda/IAD

Governor of North Santander state commends Church for its health impact

June 08, 2015 | Cúcuta, Colombia | Shirley Rueda/IAD

Governor of Colombia’s North Santander state Edgar Jesús Díaz, commended the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its health impact across the city of Cúcuta during a two-day impact earlier last month. During the event, more than 20,000 books on health and hope were distributed, a health expo on the eight natural remedies was held, dozens of disabled individuals raced on their wheelchairs and dozens of fruits and grain sacs were distributed on May 9-10, 2015.

“I want to thank you immensely,” said Governor Díaz. “What we seek is to take a solution to the most needy communities and today we have seen the hand of the Adventist Church taking hope and better health to the citizens of North Santander through exercise habits and healthy foods,” he added.

Governor Díaz said it was the second time the government joined the church’s initiatives to benefit communities across the state. “There are many people in jail who need psycho-social support, and health and physical activities, and we have been able to, with the Adventist church, aid the most needy in communities like single mothers and children.

The governor also invited other churches to join in these types of activities.

“We are calling all the churches, from whichever religious background, to support and be witnesses of the results of these actions expressed in the visible joy and gratitude of those benefitted,” said Governor Díaz.

Church members led creative activities like mime performances, a health train activity led by children, a drama performance of members carrying a coffin representing the short life of someone who does not take care of his/her health, held up positive health messages at traffic lights and more.

More than 200 people engaged in the health expo which featured eight main stations on the eight natural remedies “I Want to Be Healthy” initiative led by the church throughout the Inter-American Division territory.

The church joined the efforts with Jesus Romero, who is a Colombian Paralympic champion and former national gymnastic champion in the 1990s and early 2000s. Romero became wheelchair-bound after suffering an accident in 2002 and led dozens of people to race in their wheelchairs at Cucuta’s Patinodromo track.

Winners of the race received a medal, a cash bonus and a bag of goodies from the Adventist Church.
The health and hope impact in Cúcuta was an evangelistic one which falls under the world church’s evangelism during this year, said Pastor Joel Jaimes, president of the church in Northeast Conference, and organizer of the event.

“I am so glad because the church is understanding that we need to get out of our four walls and head to the streets to share the message of hope we have,” said Jaimes.

Church members went early to church and left their pews at 10 in the morning to distribute some 20,000 books featured this year across the Adventist world church called “Health and Wellness: Secrets that will change your life,” edited by Mark Finley and Peter Landless.

“Our fellow citizens are so happy because they have a program that helps them and fills their moral, physical and spiritual needs,” added Jaimes.

Manuel Hernan Cuevas, one who benefited from the health expo activities, said that more health activities need to take place in his city of Cucuta “so that we can be conscious of what health really means in our lives.”

Alexander Mendoza and Beatriz Silva also enjoyed a massage during the activity and said they would love to see more organized initiatives in the city. “Having more alternatives for a healthy lifestyle is exceptional, said Silva.

Church leaders said the activity was not only for the public but a valuable experience to church members as well.

“My heart is filled by helping people and teaching them about health,” said Sandra Ropero who joined the church a year ago and participated in the health impact activity for the first time.

Iris Maya, a church member, was also excited to take part in the activity. “The Lord really used us as instruments so that others could learn of the eight natural remedies and make the right changes and choices for a healthy lifestyle,” said Maya.

The activity in the city of Cúcuta, which borders Venezuela, becomes the fourth city-wide health impact to be organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Colombia during the past three years. The church has done impact in the cities of Bucaramanga and most recently in Medellin this year where thousands took to the streets to offer hope and a healthier lifestyle through a number of activities.

 

Selection of GC Delegates

 

GC Session 101: Discovering the Delegates

2010 General Conference Session Opening Meeting in the Georgia Dome [photo: Josef Kissinger]

Understanding how representatives are selected for the denomination's largest business meeting

The world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is abuzz with preparations for the upcoming General Conference Session. The 60th meeting of its kind in the 152-year history of the denomination will take place in San Antonio, Texas and will see as many as 60,000 people from more than 170 countries gather in the Alamodome

Although sometimes thought of as a kind of global camp-meeting for those who come to hear music and preaching from around the world while connecting with old friends and meeting new ones, the heart of this event is a business meeting in which world church leadership is elected, critical issues are discussed and decisions are made governing how the church will move forward in fulfilling its mission. 

The Business of Session

The very first official World Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a one-day meeting held on May 20, 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan with 20 delegates present. At the time the organizational structure of the Church was small and membership was only a few thousand, mostly from the United States of America. However, as the Seventh-day Adventist Church has developed in countries around the world, its membership has grown. 

The delegates, who are sent as official representatives of the church as it is constituted in their locale, conduct the business of General Conference Session. But just who are these delegates? How are they chosen? What are their responsibilities at a General Conference Session as they function in their role? 

The rules governing the selection of delegates are spelled out in the Constitution and Bylaws of the General Conference that define the purposes and operations of the global church and those that govern a General Conference Session.

In an attempt to divest the definition of a delegate and the description of their duties from the technical language found in what could be a rather complex narrative, this article will attempt to describe in broad strokes and approachable language what forms this functional body. 

In broad terms the structure of the Church can be understood by knowing that members belong to congregations. Congregations within a specific geographic territory are organized into a local conference/mission or in some cases, a union of churches. Defined groups of local conferences or local missions comprise a union conference or union mission. Unions are the building blocks of the General Conference. 

Terminologies like ‘mission’ when attached to conferences and unions usually indicate that they are in a stage of development that has not reached full financial viability and self-sustenance.

Unions and divisions of the General Conference select delegates in harmony with regular delegate quotas and selection processes outlined in the Bylaws.  Members of the General Conference Executive Committee are also delegates at a General Conference Session.

The total number of delegates from each division must include at least 50% of the group being lay members, pastors or other front line workers. A majority of that 50% must be laypersons.

There are two kinds of delegates: regular delegates and delegates-at-large. Regular delegates represent the General Conference member units as outlined in the bylaws. 

Delegates-at-large represent the General Conference and its institutions as well as divisions and their institutions.

The entire delegation for a General Conference Session is comprised of:

  1. Delegate quotas based on units of organizational structure
  2. Delegate quotas based on division membership as a percentage of total world membership, and
  3. Delegates representing the General Conference, its institutions plus divisions and their institutions. 

Who are these delegates?

Here are some interesting facts about the delegates at this GC Session:

Regular Delegates                 1559

Delegates-at-large               1007

Total delegates                       2566 

Age data                                

  • Under 30                   6%
  • 30-39                         10%
  • 40-49                         26%
  • 50-59                         35%
  • 60-69                         19%
  • Over 70                      3% 

Gender Data

  • Female                        17%
  • Male                            83%

How Delegates are selected

A question that is certain to be asked when reading statistics on gender representation is why is the percentage of female delegates so small when it is perceived that women are in the majority as pertains to Church membership?  The answer is simple. While efforts are continually made to ensure that the entire delegation shall be comprised of both genders, currently the positions from which these delegates are named and that generate the majority of delegates for the Session are held by males.  This will change over time as more women are elected to leadership positions and Conference or Union executive committee membership.

It is important to note that regular delegates to the General Conference Session are not selected by the General Conference itself, but are selected by Unions and Divisions around the world field.  The individuals selected are the representatives of their various organizations to the General Conference Session.

The executive committees of the unit that they represent select regular delegates. If the delegate represents a mission, the committee of the larger unit to which it is attached selects the delegate. They are a mix of lay people, pastors and teachers and church administrators. 

Their job is to report to the Session and be present during the business meetings to debate, discuss and vote on items that appear on the agenda. They must be members in regular standing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and they are often chosen because of their demonstrated interest and involvement in the church. 

In recent years the church has made special efforts to include young adults, women and frontline workers in the delegate mix.

Each delegate has voice - meaning that they can come to the microphone and speak to the business that is under discussion. They also have vote - meaning they are able to vote on the item that is under discussion.

One-third of the total number of delegates must be present for the Session to be able to declare a quorum and to conduct business. 

Shortly after the Session has officially begun, delegates will meet in groups or a “caucus,” one group for each division and attached union and one group for the General Conference and those delegates-at-large that it specifically names according to Bylaws and Executive Committee provisions. The purpose of these groups is to choose members from each group who will serve on the Nominating Committee. The number of Nominating Committee members from each group is specifically defined in the Bylaws.

Delegates, both regular and at-large, approve the agenda of the Session and they elect church leadership after receiving reports from the Nominating Committee.

In upcoming installments of the GC Session 101 Series we will discuss the policies that outline the formation of the nominating committee as well as their responsibilities. Future articles will also look inside the experience of being nominated by talking to a former nominee.

There are 2566 people as delegates designated to conduct the business of determining the leadership for the General Conference and its divisions, the fundamental beliefs of the Church, amendments to the Church Manual, and other matters that may be referred to the Session by the General Conference Executive Committee.  However, their most important business, and that of the church in general, will be focus on the plans and presentations sharing about the mission of the church in lifting up Christ, His righteousness, His three angels’ messages, His evangelistic mission to the world and His soon second coming.  The spiritual focus of the General Conference Session is the most important aspect of its work – unifying God’s people to accomplish the final mission entrusted into their hands.  

General Conference leadership has invited members around the world to participate in the 100 Days of Prayer campaign leading up to GC Session.  We are to pray for the falling of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit on the 2015 General Conference Session.  This is the greatest work of the Session – to humble ourselves before God and receive His unifying power to accomplish God’s mission for His church.

Please pray for the delegates as they gather to conduct this most important work. It is our hope that church business conducted faithfully, hearts that are open to the Holy Spirit earnestly, prayers that are ascending on behalf of God’s people ceaselessly, minds that search God’s word diligently and hands that act in God’s love endlessly will allow us to soon see His face. 

The 2015 General Conference Session theme says, “Arise!  Shine!  Jesus Is Coming!”  May this be the theme of Seventh-day Adventists meeting in San Antonio and around the world.

 

 

Warren Judd Dies

 

Warren Judd, visionary Adventist media leader, dies

[photo courtesy of North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists]

The former CEO of the Adventist Media Center succumbs to cancer.

Warren Judd, former CEO of the Adventist Media Center in California, died after a struggle with cancer on May 26.

Daniel R. Jackson, president of the North American Division, offered condolences on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“Warren was an accomplished media authority and talented musician. But most importantly, he was a devoted husband, father and a committed Christian,” Jackson said. “Warren helped significantly advance the use of audiovisual technology in the Adventist Church. He will be missed.”

Warren’s daughter-in-law, Andrea, expressed her gratitude to all those who have shown love and support for their family. She praised God for allowing her father to pass away peacefully, even though it was on her mother’s 70th birthday.

“Mum has been a rock through all of this. Certainly not without tears and great heartache, but with a greater faith!” Andrea said. “On top of it all, today is her 70th birthday. And she said, ‘I know many might feel differently and not understand, but I’m actually glad he died on my birthday. It makes it a very special and sacred day.’”

In addition to running the denominationally owned media center, Judd was responsible for the audiovisual operations of the last five General Conference Sessions, including San Antonio 2015, for which planning has been several years in the making, the North American Division said in a statement.

Judd was a native of Australia.

John Bradshaw, speaker and director of It Is Written, which was located for many years at the Adventist Media Center, praised Judd as a creative thinker who “was always kind in his dealings with others—even if they were not kind in their dealings with him.”

“We’re reminded yet again that life is precious, that life is fragile, that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that every day is a gift and that family and friends and faith in God are the truly important things in this world,” Bradshaw said on his blog.

 

'We Thanked God for His Mercy'

The North American Division shared the following post written by Warren Judd’s daughter-in-law, Andrea:

Dad went so peacefully at about 9:45 a.m. this morning, at home, family by his side. He must have been waiting for a clean shave, which precious Yonni was in the midst of doing when she noticed a sudden color change and a change in breathing.

Mum and Marc were each holding a hand of his as he breathed his last breath. We cried and we thanked God for His mercy in allowing Dad to breathe his last so peacefully. We praised God that Dad's breath is with Him. Only Dad's earthly body has died, and with that, the cancer is defeated and forever destroyed! Praise God!!

Mum has been a rock through all of this. Certainly not without tears and great heartache, but with a greater faith! On top of it all, today is her 70th birthday. And she said, ‘I know many might feel differently and not understand, but I'm actually glad he died on my birthday. It makes it a very special and sacred day.’ God is good.

Marc read God's Word to us all — the beautiful promises we cling to. I'll simply close by sharing just a few of those. Our love and thanks to all of you for such wonderful love and support!! We truly do not even have the words to express what it has meant and continues to mean to us.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will awarded to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more then conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

Amen!

 

Food For Life

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.       2 Corinthians 3:18

Tell of His Grace

Testimonies of the power of grace to change lives......

 

I was born into a non Adventist home, well that is an understatement really. My father was and still is a heavily practicing Satanist and as such, myself being a female, made me a target for ridicule and I was most certainly placed way below my brothers in the family......Tamara's Testimony

Country Living

Mar10 Demo Image Too late to move?

Moving to the country is becoming very hard in some locations. Selling a home and financing a new one is difficult. Some government agencies want to move everyone into the cities. God's people need to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of those who are opposed to the truth. Pray that God will open a way.

Religious Liberty

European Sunday Law?

The world will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God." But what has been the course of God's servants in ages past? When the disciples preached Christ and Him crucified, after His resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Today, our liberty is being threatened.

European Sunday Law

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