The closer I get to You

If you are reading this there is a good chance that you want to get closer to God. The question is how do you do that? Should you wake up before the sun comes up everyday? Maybe going to the book store to buy the latest devotional will kick start your spiritual life? No matter what you’ve tried, you have tried to get closer to God. What if I told you that the way you get closer to God has been right in front your face. Join us as we seek to redefine our devotional lives and see what happens the closer we get to God.


1 Read Exodus 3:1-3

Moses has run away to the desert so that Pharaoh wouldn’t kill him. He has gone from the palace to the prairie. He has no human companion with him as he watches the flock of his father in-law Jethro. Little did he know that where he is currently is the exact place that he would spend a significant portion of his life. I don’t believe it was coincidence that Moses spent time in the place that God would eventually use him. Are you in a place in your life where you’re not sure if God is with you? Read Deuteronomy 31:1-6 and see what God said to the man who would take over after Moses.

2 Read 1 Samuel 16:7-11

David is watching his father’s sheep and has no idea that the prophet Samuel is in his home. David is a writer, musician, and warrior. For some reason when we are first introduced to him, he is simply watching sheep. This doesn’t seem like the place that a writer, musician, and warrior should be. Have you ever felt that you are not in a place that is utilizing what you are gifted to do? Have you considered there is a reason you are there that is beyond your understanding? Read about Joseph in Genesis 39:20-23 and let us know what you think about his situation on social media using #MessageMag

3 Read Luke 5:14-16

Jesus has called his disciples to follow him and change the world. He is healing people left and right. His ministry is growing in popularity so much so that crowds of people show up wherever He goes. Why then, did Jesus intentionally withdraw to lonely places? Isn’t lonely one of the things that everyone tries to avoid? There must have been a reason that Jesus would try to get alone. Do you ever try to get alone? Why? Do you hate being alone? Why? Take some time to think and maybe even write down your thoughts.

4

Moses found himself in a desert before he led the people of God through the wilderness. David tended to sheep before he put the crown on his head as king of Israel. Jesus who is the king of the universe that calls His creation to loving relationship, secluded himself purposely on a regular basis. These people got something special from their time of seclusion that you can learn from. Take some time to contemplate this question: In your youth, where were you when God did the most life changing work on you?

5

I wish to challenge you to change how you think about having devotional time with God. Have you tried a Bible reading plan and struggled to stick to it? Have you tried to pray at a certain time each day, and found it more of a burden than a blessing? There is nothing wrong with either of these things but maybe they are not for you. Maybe the way everyone else does devotion isn’t the way God has cultivated you to experience Him to the fullest. How did you grow in God when no one told you how?

6 Read Exodus 33:7; Psalm 124

It isn’t random that Moses decided to walk away from the camp where all the people were to set up his own tent to meet with God. God had forged the core of who Moses was in a place where he was often alone. Moses was conditioned to meet God in a far-off place. When David became king, he continued writing, singing, and dancing as he had done when he watched sheep. Many of us may be trying to meet with God in a way that has worked for someone else but isn’t authentic to our experience with Him. Are you meeting with God in the best way possible? Is your devotional life thriving? Tell us about it on Social Media using #MessageMag

7 Read Matthew 7:7

Meeting God in a way that is authentic to your experience with him will make devotion natural. There may be those who meet with God alone on a basketball court. Others may have their most edifying times with God while they are helping or serving people. There may be those who need to read to get their minds pointed towards the Most High. Don’t allow what has worked for someone else be the barrier between you and God getting closer. Remember where and how He’s worked on you and be authentic with yourself, so that you can be authentic in His presence. I believe it is then that we will be able to be changed as we get closer to Him.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 November / December Issue
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“The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.”

Mark 6:30-32*

Believe: He Will Come Back

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “To My Father, and Your Father.”*

Christ’s words of compassion are spoken to His workers today just as surely as they were spoken to His disciples. “Come ye yourselves apart, … and rest awhile,” He says to those who are worn and weary. It is not wise to be always under the strain of work and excitement, even in ministering to men’s spiritual needs; for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and soul and body are overtaxed. Self-denial is required of the disciples of Christ, and sacrifices must be made; but care must also be exercised lest through their overzeal Satan take advantage of the weakness of humanity, and the work of God be marred.

In the estimation of the rabbis it was the sum of religion to be always in a bustle of activity. They depended upon some outward performance to show their superior piety. Thus they separated their souls from God, and built themselves up in self-sufficiency. The same dangers still exist. As activity increases and men become successful in doing any work for God, there is danger of trusting to human plans and methods. There is a tendency to pray less, and to have less faith. Like the disciples, we are in danger of losing sight of our dependence on God, and seeking to make a savior of our activity. We need to look constantly to Jesus, realizing that it is His power which does the work. While we are to labor earnestly for the salvation of the lost, we must also take time for meditation, for prayer, and for the study of the word of God. Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good.

In a life wholly devoted to the good of others, the Saviour found it necessary to withdraw from the thoroughfares of travel and from the throng that followed Him day after day. He must turn aside from a life of ceaseless activity and contact with human needs, to seek retirement and unbroken communion with His Father. As one with us, a sharer in our needs and weaknesses, He was wholly dependent upon God, and in the secret place of prayer He sought divine strength, that He might go forth braced for duty and trial. In a world of sin Jesus endured struggles and torture of soul. In communion with God He could unburden the sorrows that were crushing Him. Here He found comfort and joy.

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This article is part of our 2019 November / December Issue
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.





Breaking Bread

Jesus is coming again. Your parents said it. Their parents said it. I’m sure the parents before them said the same thing. For what seems like ages we’ve been told, and talked about the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Living in a time when so much takes up the space in our minds how often do we think about this life we’re living being only a portion of what God has for us? Join us as we take on the challenge of being ready for the return of Jesus.


1) Read Acts 1:4-11; Isaiah 40:31

They had to have been astonished. The disciples just saw their teacher, leader, and friend float into the sky and then vanish from sight. To make matters more challenging, they had just been told to wait for the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t it seem like a lot of your relationship with God involves waiting? What have you had to wait on in your walk with Him? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

2) Read Acts 1:4-11; John 14:1-3

While the disciples are standing there staring into the nothingness, two men in white appear and tell them that the same way they saw Jesus go, is the same way He will return. Maybe you think it would have been easier to believe that He was coming back a few days, months, or years later. What about a couple thousand years? Is it harder for you to believe living in 2019? Is it harder to be ready in 2019? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

3) Read Acts 2:1-4, 22-24

After the disciples waited as instructed, they receive the Holy Spirit. Eventually Peter begins to preach about who Jesus was and what He did. That is what each of them did for the rest of their lives. Is that true for each follower of Jesus? Sharing the gospel and living in compromising situations? Is “fun” out of the question? What about the dreams I’m perusing? How can I be ready for Jesus while still dealing with the life in front of me? Have you ever asked any of these questions? Do you have any answers? Please Share on Social Media using #MessageMag

4) Read 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Romans 14:17-19

Chronologically speaking, Thessalonians is Paul’s first letter, and Romans is his last. Isn’t it interesting that the tone with which Paul talks about the life of a follower of Jesus changes from “get ready” to “do your best to be at peace with those around you”? The way the Apostle Paul talks about the second coming transitions from how soon Jesus is coming to how sure Jesus’ coming is. Maybe there is a difference in how one lives when something is “soon” in comparison to when it’s “sure.”  Tell us what you think on Social Media using #MessageMag 

5) Read Acts 2:40-42; Matt. Chapters 5-7

The Holy Spirit enabled Peter to preach and thousands of people were baptized. Thousands of people now looked forward to the return of Jesus. As the story goes, they didn’t just sit around, but they learned from the apostles. The apostles did the best they could to pass on what Jesus had passed to them. He taught them who they were and how they were to live the life God gave them. Can we be ready for his return by simply showing people a better way to live life? Is that enough? Share your thoughts with us using #MessageMag on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter. 

6) Read Acts 2:40-42

It is interesting that Luke decided to include the fact that a part of the initiation into the faith was breaking bread, or eating together on a regular basis, with familiar and new faces. When we think about being ready for the coming of Jesus does being surrounded by strangers register as a prerequisite? It makes sense though because the same Jesus they saw ascend into heaven was always surrounded by strangers, doing the best He could to improve their lives.

7)

It has been said, “don’t be so heavenly minded, that you are of no earthly good.” In being ready for the second coming of Jesus we must be heavenly minded and earthly good. God pours into your life and simply desires you to do the same for the rest of His children. He knows that care for others will whittle away the hard parts of your heart and strengthen your faith. Nothing causes more friction than our interaction with people who are different than we are. God knew, to get to the welcome table in Heaven, He had to call us to break bread at tables down here. 

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October
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“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” 

Acts 1:9-11.

Believe: He Will Come Back

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “To My Father, and Your Father.”*

“C

hrist had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet,—the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne. And the angels had assured them that the very One whom they had seen go up into heaven, would come again even as He had ascended.

He will come “with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise.” “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.” Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 25:31. Thus will be fulfilled the Lord’s own promise to His disciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord’s return.

When the disciples went back to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of Christ, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with a happiness not born of earth. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God. With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ’s resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many.

The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that Jesus was in heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a friend at the throne of God, and they were eager to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23, 24. They extended the hand of faith higher and higher, with the mighty argument, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. And Pentecost brought them fullness of joy in the presence of the Comforter, even as Christ had promised.”

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This article is part of our 2019 September / October
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.





Wrong Place. Wrong Time. Wrong People.


When I read the gospels, I see Jesus doing the opposite of what the religious of the day thought He should. Join us as we watch Jesus move in the “wrong” place and time, for the “wrong” people.

1) Read Matthew 15:1-2, Matthew 21-22

We see Jesus in two interesting predicaments. In one He’s challenged about what His disciples are doing, and in the other He’s confronted by a woman in whose company He probably should not have been seen. This is Jesus we’re talking about! Why has He allowed himself to be in a place of the appearance of evil? Is it all a misunderstanding? Have your intentions ever been misjudged? Have things ever looked different from how they really were? Tell us about it using #MessageMag

2) Read Matthew 15:23

The disciples and Jesus were Jewish. It was a cultural and traditional taboo for Jews to be seen interacting with women from Syro-Phonecia. On top of her being someone they didn’t want to be seen with, she was loud and belligerent in trying to get Jesus’ attention. The disciples had a traditional response. Jesus was going to use this situation to teach them how nontraditional faith is. Is your faith nontraditional? Tell us how it is, or is not, on social media using #MessageMag

3) Read Matthew 15:16-20

Jesus has offended the Pharisees. He did so by pointing out the vanity in their rules. The fact that they focused more on protocol than people was a gross representation of God. They cared more about whether you washed your hands, than if you took care of your parents. It seems as if the traditions of the day had drained the church people of what it means to be loving. Have you ever encountered a tradition that didn’t seem to help in loving people? Tell us about it using #MessageMag on social media.

4) Matthew 15:16-20, Ephesian 5:1-5

We see that the writers of the Bible took some time to write out some lists. Look at these lists, and notice how all of the acts that children of God are to stay away from are ones that harm other people. Is it possible that traditions go too far when they disregard the people that are to be God’s children? Take some time to evaluate the traditions to which you adhere. Do you know the difference between the Biblical directives and traditions? Pray about it. Study and ask the Spirit for guidance.

5) Read Matthew 15:24-27

Jesus says He “was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” implying He was sent for people just like this woman. He’s in a place He shouldn’t be, and with a person to whom He should not be talking. It is no coincidence that immediately after it’s recorded that Jesus has a dispute about tradition, He does something untraditional. Take some time to meditate on the actions of Jesus.

6) Read Matthew 15:28

Jesus had this woman teach the disciples what faith looks like. He also stepped out of the traditional way of doing things for the sake of a daughter of God. Traditions in and of themselves are not bad, by any means. But the moment the tradition gets in the way of loving someone, that’s when you must evaluate the root of the tradition. Have you ever been inspired to step out of the normal and do something extraordinary for God? Was it uncomfortable? Was it rewarding? Tell us your testimony. #MessageMag

7) Read Romans 8:35-39

Love is what puts tradition in check. God’s love for us made sure that nothing separated us from Him. We should make sure that nothing separates us from sharing God’s love with others. That means that we will find ourselves in non-traditional places, with a non-traditional crowd, doing non-traditional things. It is then that you will find out that some of the things you weren’t “supposed” to do, are exactly what needed to be done for the Kingdom of Heaven.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 July / August
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Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.”

And her daughter was instantly healed”

(Matthew 15:21-28, NLT)

How Jesus Respected and Responded to People Who Were Not in His Circle

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Barriers Broken Down.”*

“Jesus longed to unfold the deep mysteries of the truth which had been hid for ages, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs with the Jews, and “partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel” Ephesians 3:6. This truth the disciples were slow to learn, and the divine Teacher gave them lesson upon lesson. In rewarding the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, and preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of Sychar, He had already given evidence that He did not share the intolerance of the Jews. But the Samaritans had some knowledge of God; and the centurion had shown kindness to Israel. Now Jesus brought the disciples in contact with a heathen, whom they regarded as having no reason above any of her people, to expect favor from Him. He would give an example of how such a one should be treated. The disciples had thought that He dispensed too freely the gifts of His grace. He would show that His love was not to be circumscribed to race or nation.

When He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He stated the truth, and in His work for the Canaanite woman He was fulfilling His commission. This woman was one of the lost sheep that Israel should have rescued. It was their appointed work, the work which they had neglected, that Christ was doing.

This act opened the minds of the disciples more fully to the labor that lay before them among the Gentiles. They saw a wide field of usefulness outside of Judea. They saw souls bearing sorrows unknown to those more highly favored. Among those whom they had been taught to despise were souls longing for help from the mighty Healer, hungering for the light of truth, which had been so abundantly given to the Jews.…

The spirit which built up the partition wall between Jew and Gentile is still active. Pride and prejudice have built strong walls of separation between different classes of men. Christ and His mission have been misrepresented, and multitudes feel that they are virtually shut away from the ministry of the gospel. But let them not feel that they are shut away from Christ. There are no barriers which man or Satan can erect but that faith can penetrate.”

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This article is part of our 2019 July / August
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.





Better Than God


How good is good? How great is great? How much better is better? Many people strive to be the best version of their selves? For some, going to church or reading the Bible is a way they try to do so. In the Bible Jesus says a lot about what believing in Him and His Father can do for people. In 2019, what do people really believe God is capable of? Do you still believe in Jesus and the Father? Join us as we explore the challenge of belief in this study entitled “Better Than God.”

Read John 14:5-8

The disciples have some questions for Jesus. I believe one of the best ways to study is to ask questions. I believe your belief can be strengthened by strong questions. Write out some questions you want to ask Jesus. 

Read John 14:8; Read John 6:5-7

One of the disciples that is asking questions is Philip. Philip seems to be very concerned about the tangible. Philip was the one who—upon facing more than five thousand hungry people—basically said:  “we don’t have enough money.” It is hard to believe when you cannot see how something can be done. Have you ever been in a situation where you could not see how it would work out? Tell us about it here at Message using #MessageMag on social media.

Read John 14:9, and 1 Peter 5:7

Jesus seems to be a little taken aback by Philip’s question. You would think that walking side by side with Jesus would be enough for anyone to believe and know God. By the same token, people go to churches week after week, read their Bible’s, and say their prayers, and still want to see proof. Are there any people’s lives you want to see proof of God in? Write out the list and pray for them as you continue this study. 

Read John 14:10-11

When we look at other people throughout the day do we ever consider that God could be living inside of them? It’s so easy to get stuck on the physical that we become ignorant of the spiritual. Isn’t that part of what makes believing in Jesus so challenging? He’s out of sight and therefore out of mind. What would happen if we looked and dealt with everyone as if they had God  living in them? How do you think that would play out in real life? Tell us your opinion on social media using #MessageMag.

Read John 14:12; Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:28

These words of Jesus may drill to the root of why believing is so daunting. He says that if we believe in Him we will be doing the things He’s been doing. For the record, Jesus had already done numerous miracles, yet He says we are able to do what He did. To up that ante, He then proclaims that we “will do greater things.” Does it sometimes seem the promises and words of the Bible are too good to be true? Has there been times when your experience didn’t seem to match up with what you read?

Read John 14:12-14

There is a difference between being better, and doing better. Jesus does not suggest here that you will be better in behavior and character, but rather that you are enabled to do more miraculous things than He did. Sometimes we downplay our potential because of things in our past. God wants you to know He still desires to use you if you are willing to believe in Him. I challenge you to write out a prayer that thanks God for power that supersedes your personality and His benevolence that outshines your behavior. Honestly, write it out and pray it out loud. 

Read John 15:1-4

Believing can be challenging when you don’t see results. That is why I’m thankful that right after John tells about Jesus saying we can do better than He, he tells us about how the results of our actions are not our responsibility. Our focus as believers is to stay connected to the true vine, and I know that as we see the fruit our belief will show that there is none better than God.  

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 May / June
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Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” John 14:8,9.

Think and Grow

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of The Ages, the chapter entitled “He Ordained Twelve.”

At the head of one of the groups into which the apostles are divided stands the name of Philip. He was the first disciple to whom Jesus addressed the distinct command, “Follow Me.” Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. He had listened to the teaching of John the Baptist, and had heard his announcement of Christ as the Lamb of God.

Philip was a sincere seeker for truth, but he was slow of heart to believe. Although he had joined himself to Christ, yet his announcement of Him to Nathanael shows that he was not fully convinced of the divinity of Jesus. Though Christ had been proclaimed by the voice from heaven as the Son of God, to Philip He was “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” John 1:45.

Again, when the five thousand were fed, Philip’s lack of faith was shown. It was to test him that Jesus questioned, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Philip’s answer was on the side of unbelief: “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” John 6:5, 7.

Jesus was grieved. Although Philip had seen His works and felt His power, yet he had not faith. When the Greeks inquired of Philip concerning Jesus, he did not seize upon the opportunity of introducing them to the Savior, but he went to tell Andrew. Again, in those last hours before the crucifixion, the words of Philip were such as to discourage faith. When Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?” the Savior answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.” From Philip came the response of unbelief: “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” John 14:5-8. So slow of heart, so weak in faith, was that disciple who for three years had been with Jesus.

As

His representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took upon Himself humanity, that He might reach humanity. Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world. Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. So with the servants and messengers of Christ. Man needs a power outside of and beyond himself, to restore him to the likeness of God, and enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power, Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through cooperation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good.

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This article is part of our 2019 May / June
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.





The Extra Mile


The Extra Mile

Helping people the way they need to be helped can be challenging. Many know what it feels like to try to help someone and realize later on that you were only enabling them. Some have put effort into assisting others only to end up feeling used and abused. How did Jesus do so much for so many when He knew there would be those who wouldn’t do for others? Join us as we are challenged like Jesus to go The Extra Mile.

Read Luke 18:35, Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1

Jesus is walking with a group toward Jericho and there was blind man begging. Have you ever asked the question as to why the blind man was sitting there?  Someone, more than likely, had to bring him to that place. Have you ever wondered who it was? Do you ever look around and wonder about the stories of the people around you? Take some time today to say a short prayer for those that catch your attention. 

Read Luke 18:35-38

This man obviously needs help. Good thing for him that on this day that Jesus was walking by. But what about all the other days that he was dropped off in this spot to beg? How many weeks, months, or years had he been brought to the same spot with little progress in his life? What if the people who brought him could have done more? Can we do more? Do we have to do more? Let us know what you think about these questions on social media using  #MessageMag.

Read Luke 18:39; 1 Corinthians 9:19

Can you imagine being this man? He’s dropped off daily by people who, though they are doing him a service, could do more. Do we do the same? Maybe we have weakened what it means to be a servant. Maybe we’re more like the people who try to silence those who could use a little more assistance. Have we gotten to the point like Paul that we are willing to sacrifice our freedom for the lives of others? I haven’t. What about you? Talk to us using #MessageMag on Social Media.

Read Luke 18:39-40; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 34:19

The Bible promises that God will deliver. When I survey the stories and happenings of Biblical History I see that, more often than not, God uses people to carry out His deliverance. Jesus has the same people who were hushing the man to carry him over. The grace in this is that even if you haven’t been bringing people to Jesus, it’s never too late to start. Maybe God wants you to carry someone to Him. It’s a big responsibility, but I know that if God asked you, He’ll empower you to do so. Is there someone for whom God wants you to be responsible? If so I’d love to personally call their name out with you in prayer. You can call and pray with me at 614-266-9568.

Read Luke 18:41-42; Isaiah 59:1-2

This man could have asked for anything. He wasn’t going to waste being in the presence of Jesus with a misguided request. I expect he had been through enough for him to realize that his problem had nothing to do with anyone other than himself. That is the challenge of serving people—being able to stick with them until they realize their issues, and we see ours. When problems arise, do you check yourself before assigning blame on others? Is that hard or easy? Why? Share on Social Media using #MessageMag.

Luke 18:43; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 1 Corinthains 3:6-9

When the blind man receives his sight he immediately follows Jesus. Shouldn’t our servanthood cause us to lead people to the place where they no longer need our service, but are able to stop worrying about themselves and focus on others? It takes time, patience, and sacrifice for many. Some don’t get to that point in our time with them. The cost doesn’t exempt us.

Luke 18:31-43

Jesus had just told His disciples for the third time that He must die for the world to be saved. Immediately, He goes towards Jerusalem by way of Jericho. He did’t have to go this way because there was an alternate route, but He did because there was someone that God wanted for Him to serve. In other words, Jesus went the extra mile for one person. Are we willing to do the same?  

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 March / April
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Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God, Luke 18:35-39.

Think and Grow

“Go Teach All Nations,” p. 823, 824, The Desire of Ages,* by Ellen G. White

Christ feels the woes of every sufferer. When evil spirits rend a human frame, Christ feels the curse. When fever is burning up the life current, He feels the agony. And He is just as willing to heal the sick now as when He was personally on earth. Christ’s servants are His representatives, the channels for His working. He desires through them to exercise His healing power.

These lessons are for us. There are conditions to be observed by all who would preserve health. All should learn what these conditions are. The Lord is not pleased with ignorance in regard to His laws, either natural or spiritual. We are to be workers together with God for the restoration of health to the body as well as to the soul.

And we should teach others how to preserve and to recover health. For the sick we should use the remedies which God has provided in nature, and we should point them to Him who alone can restore. It is our work to present the sick and suffering to Christ in the arms of our faith. We should teach them to believe in the Great Healer. We should lay hold on His promise, and pray for the manifestation of His power. The very essence of the gospel is restoration, and the Saviour would have us bid the sick, the hopeless, and the afflicted take hold upon His strength.

The power of love was in all Christ’s healing, and only by partaking of that love, through faith, can we be instruments for His work. If we neglect to link ourselves in divine connection with Christ, the current of life-giving energy cannot flow in rich streams from us to the people. There were places where the Saviour Himself could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. So now unbelief separates the church from her divine Helper. Her hold upon eternal realities is weak. By her lack of faith, God is disappointed, and robbed of His glory.

It is in doing Christ’s work that the church has the promise of His presence. Go teach all nations, He said; “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” To take His yoke is one of the first conditions of receiving His power. The very life of the church depends upon her faithfulness in fulfilling the Lord’s commission. To neglect this work is surely to invite spiritual feebleness and decay. Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim.

 

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This article is part of our 2019 March / April
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlineboks.





A Real Rest

No matter how much sleep you try to get, there seems to be chasm that cannot be filled. Weary is an understatement in comparison to feeling that resonates in your soul. Let’s try something. Let’s confront Jesus about this need for restoration we need and ask Him for “A Real Rest”

1) Read Luke 6:6-11; Matthew 6:6-13; Luke 7:11-15

As we attempt to confront Jesus, we find him confronting others. Not only is He confronting people, He’s doing it on the Sabbath in the synagogue. There seems to be no place that Jesus isn’t willing to be confrontational. Do you remember a time when Jesus called you out? Pointed out something at an inopportune time? Tell us about is here at Message on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Luke 6:6-11

This confrontation seems to be rooted in what can and can’t be done on the Sabbath. Jesus makes it a one-sided affair in posing a rhetorical question. Why was it such a big deal to help or heal someone on the Sabbath? Jesus could have avoided the situation by walking out or holding His peace, but obviously there was a point God wanted to show that day. Jesus shows doing good is keeping the Sabbath. How can doing anything for anyone else be a way to rest? Tell us your thoughts using #MessageMag.

3) Read Luke 6:6-11; Leviticus 25:1-7; Genesis 2:1-3

We know that the Creator finished His work, then rested on and blessed the seventh-day, making it holy. As such, this Sabbath thing is so much bigger than a day of the week. If we read Leviticus there is an element of trust that is necessary to keep the Sabbath. The people were asked to go a whole year of their life without putting any effort into providing for themselves. It’s comparable to God asking you to quit your job at the end of every sixth year and not worry about rent, food, or utilities. Is it possible that you can “break” the Sabbath by not trusting God to take care of you? What do you think? Share using #MessageMag.

4) Read Deuteronomy 15:1-11

If you’ve never read this before, or don’t remember it don’t feel bad. This relatively obscure passage is striking in comparison to today’s prevailing mindset, and gives an inkling of God’s practicality, and concern with the total person. No one who was His could be in debt for an extended amount of time. What if I told you that one of the best ways to keep the Sabbath—a profound rest in Him—is by making sure that none of your family is in debt? What if I told you that you honor the Sabbath by letting go of that debt they owe you? How does this make you look at Sabbath-keeping? I would love to hear from you personally if this resonates with you. Send me an e-mail at pastorrburden@icloud.com

5) Read Luke 5:16; Luke 6:1-5

From the passages we’ve read, you may be beginning to realize that the Sabbath is also a lifestyle in that you recognize you are God’s steward. Therefore you rest so that you can be the best version of yourself for others. Therefore, I challenge anyone’s spirituality that doesn’t take some form of a vacation on a regular basis. Everything in this world that God has made has an ebb and flow. What is yours? Do you have a God given self-care plan? What do you do to make sure you’re fit for heavenly use? Share using #MessageMag.

6) Sabbath-keeping is personified in this moment of Jesus bringing the rest He is to someone who’s been restless. You can’t just sleep and experience Sabbath in its fullness. You can’t just have a self-care plan, devotion schedule, and attend church regularly. You must get what God has given you (Trust, Peace, Vigor, etc.) to someone who’s been kept from resting. How will you do this? Pray about it and let us know what the Spirit brings to your mind. #MessageMag.

7) How do you know you’ve entered into “A Real Rest” that God has for you? Look at Chapter 26 of Leviticus. What you put into life you will get more out of it. Though calamity be all around you, it doesn’t touch your family. Whatever you’re inspired to do, prospers when you strike out and do it. You will defy the odds in many facets of your life. You’ll have good health and God will walk with you.

Let this confrontation with Jesus inspire you to trust irrationally, give liberally, and believe vehemently. Why? Because that’s what Sabbath keepers do.

Call us if you find you have questions, want to talk, or want to pray with someone: 1-855-463-2273, or, 1-855-God Cares.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2019 January / February Issue
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Never alone

“You are not alone, I am here with you. Though you’re far away, I am here to stay.” Touching are the words sang by Michael Jackson years ago. They could almost be mistaken for verses picked out of the Psalms or Isaiah. I believe that is because there is a recurring theme in the Bible of God wanting to be close to his children. One of God’s highest values is communion. Can He make good on His promise to never leave us alone? Join us as we explore and experience the promise of being “Never Alone.”

1) Read Matthew 28:16-20

Did you see what I saw? We are in the last chapter of Matthew. Jesus is saying His goodbyes, and the Bible tells us that “some doubted.” They have seen miracle after miracle yet they doubted. Jesus still finds it within His heart to say “I am with you.” Have you ever felt God with you, even while you doubted Him? Tell us about it here at Message using #MessageMag on Social Media. 

2) Read Joshua 1:1-9

The disciples were not the first to doubt. Can you imagine becoming the CEO of a company that has been in turmoil for more than 400 years, and the previous CEO turned things around only to be forced to pass it to you. Can you feel the pressure? Do you think you can do it? What would God’s words have meant to you in a time like that? Tell us about it here at Message using #MessageMag.

3) Read Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Zephaniah 3:17

The most common command in the Bible is some form of “do not be afraid.” Without fail this command is accompanied by the assurance that God will be with you. Have you finally come to the place in your relationship with God that His presence is enough to get rid of stress and anxiety? To what can God’s presence give peace in your life? Share it with us here at #MessageMag so we can pray for and with you.   

4) If you have children, you may know that getting them to sleep in their own bed when they are young can be a struggle. I believe it is because they sense the security of being in close proximity to their parents. It’s natural. We are God’s children, and I want you to take a moment, wherever you are to close your eyes and imagine being in the presence of God. Little do you know, you are!

5) May I give you a homework assignment? When was the last time you had a memory verse? We at Message would love to see a video of you reciting Romans 8:38-39. It’s fitting to know that nothing keep you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Post it to Social Media and tag  #MessageMag.

6) Matthew 28:16-20; John 14:18;
John 20:17; Romans 8:34

Yes, the disciples doubted, but that didn’t stop Jesus from letting them know that they wouldn’t be alone. Jesus was going to the Father on our behalf, and He ensured that God would not just be with us, but in us. The disciples would face much but they would face it all with God. Do you really believe that you face every day with God? Don’t share. Just meditate on the promise that you can face the world with The Most High on your side.

7) The disciples would set off a chain reaction that resulted in countless people over the next 2000 years believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amid the peaks and valleys, suffering or success, for those who chose to follow Christ, one thing always rang through and true. It was the promise that His children were never alone. 

Call us if you find you have questions, want to talk, or want to pray with someone: 1-855-463-2273, or, 1-855-God Cares.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2018 November/December Issue
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Here and Now

William Miller, Harold Camping, James Harmston. What do all of these men have in common? They all thought they knew the exact day that Jesus coming back. Many of us grew up hearing that Jesus was coming “soon,” yet here we are, living life. So what was it that Jesus meant when he said that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand?”

1) Read Matthew 4:17

Jesus makes a bold claim and command: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17, NLT). I wonder if the people of that time had heard that before as we have? If you knew that Jesus was coming to tomorrow would there be anything you would do differently? What would it be? Let us know here at Message on Social Media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 4:17, 1 John 1:9

Why would Jesus begin this statement with a call to repent? I’ve made some mistakes in my life but I’m not a bad person and I bet you feel the same, right? If the Kingdom is at hand, does that really mean I have to say sorry for all I’ve done? What do you think? Let us know online using #MessageMag.

3) Read Matthew 4:17, Matthew 6:33

Not long after He declared that “the kingdom of God is at hand,” (KJV), Jesus went up on a mountain and preached a sermon. In the midst of that sermon He elaborated on the concept of His “Kingdom.” He also said that His Kingdom and “His” righteousness should be the priority in our searching and seeking. Why would He call a place a “he”? Give us your thoughts online using #MessageMag.

4) Read Matthew 4:17, Luke 2:36-38

Is it possible that the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of wasn’t a place, but rather a Person? Even before Jesus started His ministry and preached about the Kingdom the Holy Spirit led several seekers to the Kingdom and the grace for which they had been waiting. What could this mean? How could people look at a child and see the Kingdom of God? Share with us your opinions using #MessageMag on Social Media.

5) Read Matthew 4:17, Matthew 2:1-5

How sad it would be for the Kingdom to have shown up and yet the people who were waiting for it, miss it. It seems that’s what happened when Magi came to Herod. They were looking for a King and Kingdom but no one else was. The King had come and no one knew but a select few. How could this happen? Is it possible it could happen again? What do you think? Let us know using #MessageMag.

6) Read Matthew 4:17, Luke 17:20-21

Jesus implied  several times that the Kingdom of Heaven is not just on its way, but rather it is already here. He said this in or around AD 30. It is now 2018. What is going on? Did we miss it? Were we not ready? Has God forgotten about us? What answers can you give us? Share using #MessageMag.

7) Read Matthew 3:1-2, Mark 1:14-15, Mark 14:25, John 14:1-3

The Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus. Yes, there will be a place where that He has prepared for us, and will take us, but His Kingdom is available to us now, in Him. Let us not be like the people of old who were so focused on the Kingdom coming that we miss out on the Jesus that is right in front of us here and now. 

Call us if you find you have questions, want to talk, or want to pray with someone: 1-855-463-2273, or, 1-855-God Cares.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2018 September/October Issue
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It’s Going to be Alright

When it rains, it pours. Whatever can happen, will happen. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes the unexplainable happens and these are some of the phrases we use to assure ourselves things aren’t as bad as they seem. You ever had a day in which everything went wrong? Some might feel they have had a life where everything went left. You are not alone in this feeling. Journey with us as we find out if “It’s going to be alright”.

1) Read John 20:19; John 14:1-3; Luke 4:28-30

Shock is what I can imagine the disciples are experiencing. Jesus had been crucified. How could He have allowed that to happen to Him? People had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. What made this time different? Why did He let them do it? Why does God let the things happen that He does? Have you ever wondered that? What has happened in your life that has made you question God? Tell us using #MessageMag.

2) Read John 20:19; John 14:27; Mark 4:35-41

I’m sure the disciples were gripped by fear. If the Jewish leaders did what they did to Jesus, what was going to happen to them? Gone were the days of jubilee, entering into Jerusalem amid praise and adoration as Jesus had done only about a week earlier. Now the door was locked so that no one could barge in and drag them to their doom. I wonder if they began to reflect on other times when their lives were on the line because of Jesus. Has there been a time that your following Jesus has put you in a compromising position? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read John 20:19; Mark 9:26-29; Jeremiah 10:6-10; John 20:11-18

With the emotions already running high there are those among them who are claiming that Jesus isn’t actually dead! Can you imagine the awe? The disciples and others had seen the impossible become possible for more than three years, but this? Could Jesus actually have done it again? When you’ve had God work in your life He will challenge you to believe in His infinite ability. Has He ever had you in awe because He has done something beyond what you could imagine? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

4) Read John 20:19; Philippians 4:19; 1 Samuel 16:7

Jesus appears to them, and fittingly His first words to them are “Peace be unto you.” It is worth taking time out to meditate on the fact that God knows exactly what you need. He could have just said “I’m alive!” Or, “You’re not going to die!” Instead, Jesus goes to the root of their hearts’ longing, and says “Peace be unto you.” Has God ever given you what you need when you didn’t know you needed it? Was He able to see through your problem and analyze your heart and give like no one else? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read John 20:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Proverbs 3:12

The comfort given is interesting to say the least. Jesus doesn’t perform a miracle, but shows the disciples the holes in his hands and wound on his side. It is almost as if what He had been through was proof of who He was. We can tell that this was enough because the disciples were overjoyed. We are children of God and I want you to consider the possibility that what you’ve been through wasn’t meant to destroy you, but rather to prove who you are. If you are able, find and listen to a song called “Pure Gold” by the Clark sisters on YouTube.

6) Read John 20:21

Honestly, this would have disturbed me. Maybe that is why Jesus had to reiterate the peace He had just imparted. Jesus had been through a lot! Now He says the same God that sent Me is sending you. The assurance is this: a Man who was dead is now standing in front of you, alive! Do you want peace as you’re moving from this side to that side? We at Message want to support you in your experience with Jesus. Give me a call at 614-266-9568 and I would love to pray with you.

7) Read John 20:22

This is epic. When Jesus stepped into the emotional storm the disciples were in, He called for peace, changing their sorrow into joy. Peace is what they needed. And, they will need a lot of it because they are being sent out, just as Jesus was sent by the Father. The next action is mind-blowing (no pun intended). Jesus breathes on them and they received the Holy Spirit. They weren’t going to be doing this by themselves, God was going to be with them. Do you want God to be with you as He sends and uses you where you are? Just ask Him, and it is done. I assure you the Holy Spirit will. Jesus said, “Peace be unto you.” You have to know, it’s going to be alright.

Call us if you find you have questions, want to talk, or want to pray with someone: 1-855-463-2273, or, 1-855-God Cares.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2018 July / Augudt Issue
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Is it Really Done?

Past, present, and future. We all know that they have influence and matter. We learn from our past so that we can do better in the present, to hopefully enjoy a better future. So how can the death of a Jewish man over a thousand years ago impact us now? Christian churches make so much of this Man from a place called Galilee having died on a piece of wood. When He (Jesus) was about to die, He uttered these words, “It is finished.”

I invite you to investigate for yourself whether it is really done?

1) Read Isaiah 53:7-10; Psalm 22:15;
John 19:1-28

What did Jesus know? How could He be thinking about anything other than the pain that He’s currently dealing with? Why not think about the betrayal or abandonment He’s experienced? For some reason Jesus insists on remembering that He is on a mission and there are still prophetic passages in the Bible He has to listen to. Have you ever read a text that came to your mind in a rough time and you knew you had to obey? Tell us what it was on social media using the #MessageMag.

2) Read John 19:28

The humanity of God in this moment is striking. Jesus the one who fed the five thousand with barely a basket of fish and chips, needed a drink. The same One who spoke to drink and made the composition of drink change dramatically, now needs drink. It is worth noting that it is ok to need in life. If Jesus needed from time to time, how much will we need? Take time to define what is a need for you. Then evaluate if you are ok asking for what you need and what stops you from doing so.

3) Read John 19:28-29; Psalm 69:21

It turns out that this cry for His thirst to be quenched was not just out of bodily necessity, but of divine mission. Jesus was so in-tune with His Father and the Word that He knew that there was something that needed to be handled. A distant whisper from a king long ago who held a special place in His heart. Have the old stories with old words in this old book we call the Bible ever whispered to you in hard times? Do you believe the Bible still matters in 2018?

Let us know what you think on social media using #MessageMag.

4) Read John 19:30

Before we dive into anything remotely deep, let me just pass on to you a thought worth pondering. Is it possible that the reason Jesus asked for drink wasn’t just because He was thirsty or wanted to fulfill the words of His friend David from years ago, but rather He had something important to say and wanted to clear his throat so he could say it clearly? Just a thought.

5) Read John 19:30; Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-38

The words that are spoken are an interesting choice. The writer, John, was himself at the cross. So, to read what he heard, and then see that other writers were only able to record that Jesus made a loud cry, makes the words even more compelling. Jesus said “It is Finished” and hung his head and died. If that’s all that happened, maybe we could say it wasn’t that significant. We find that there was a ripping of a veil that wasn’t even near the site of Jesus’ death, an earthquake, and the splitting of rocks. It is as if the very earth knew something had happened. What do you make of this? Let us know on social media using #MessageMag.

6) Read John 19:30; Matthew 27:27-31; Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22:16; Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 50:3-6

This moment was the culmination of years of preparation, prophecy, and providence. Jesus, the Son of God was on a tree dying for the sins of the world and cries out “It is finished!”  We must continually absorb the fact that what was finished, what was laid to rest, what was settled was the question: Is God really love? Could He, can He, truly love an un-loving people? Now the conversation was rendered mute, the disagreement became null and void. It was finished. Jesus’ cry wasn’t one of desperation, but rather of firm declaration. It is finished.

7) Read John 3:16-17

Is it really done? Well, what that means for you is that you can be done wondering if your addiction has more power than God in your life. It is finished. The guilt of the bad decision you made all that time ago that still weighs you down? It is finished. The anger that fills your thoughts because of what that person did? It is finished. The stress that greets you in the morning before you even show up at your job? In Jesus, it is finished. All of this was handled once and for all on the cross for those that believe. So the question now is are you really done trying to do it yourself? 

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2018 May / June Issue
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