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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It Is Finished

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. —John 19:28-30

It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

That the law which was spoken by God’s own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward. It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world. He needs not to assail the whole law; if he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained. For “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” James 2:10. By consenting to break one precept, men are brought under Satan’s power. By substituting human law for God’s law, Satan will seek to control the world. This work is foretold in prophecy. Of the great apostate power which is the representative of Satan, it is declared, “He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand” Daniel 7:25.

Men will surely set up their laws to counterwork the laws of God. They will seek to compel the consciences of others, and in their zeal to enforce these laws they will oppress their fellow men.

The warfare against God’s law, which was begun in heaven, will be continued until the end of time. Every man will be tested. Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Here the dividing line will be drawn. There will be but two classes. Every character will be fully developed; and all will show whether they have chosen the side of loyalty or that of rebellion.

Then the end will come. God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch, (Malachi 4:1),—Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, “Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” Then “the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;” “they shall be as though they had not been.” Ezekiel 28:6-19; Psalm 37:10; Obadiah 16.

At the beginning of the great controversy, the angels did not understand this. Had Satan and his host then been left to reap the full result of their sin, they would have perished; but it would not have been apparent to heavenly beings that this was the inevitable result of sin. A doubt of God’s goodness would have remained in their minds as evil seed, to produce its deadly fruit of sin and woe.

But not so when the great controversy shall be ended. Then, the plan of redemption having been completed, the character of God is revealed to all created intelligences. The precepts of His law are seen to be perfect and immutable. Then sin has made manifest its nature, Satan his character. Then the extermination of sin will vindicate God’s love and establish His honor before a universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law.

Well, then, might the angels rejoice as they looked upon the Savior’s cross; for though they did not then understand all, they knew that the destruction of sin and Satan was forever made certain, that the redemption of man was assured, and that the universe was made eternally secure. Christ Himself fully comprehended the results of the sacrifice made upon Calvary. To all these He looked forward when upon the cross He cried out, “It is finished.”



This article is part of our 2018 May / June 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/onlineboks.




How low can you go?

Greatness. In the world in which we live, it seems as though everyone is after his or her own piece of greatness. Greatness at work. Greatness in family.  Greatness in finances, and most of all greatness in the eyes of others. There is an innate yearning to be highly regarded in the minds of other people, yet, when I read the Bible, Jesus operated without regard for that kind of regard! The question is now, “How low can you go?”

1) Read John 13:1-5

You don’t have to know anything about the Bible, God, or Jesus to realize that something crazy is going on here. After reading that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power” (NIV), we see Him stoop to serve, like a slave. When you envision God, do you perceive Him as a slave? As a janitor? How does this imagery make you feel about God? Let us know on social media using the #MessageMag. We’d love to hear your thoughts. .

2) Read Philippians 2:5-11;Colossians 1:16; John 13:6-8

Peter reacted in a way that many of us might:  “Umm, God? You don’t have to do that.” Jesus knew and knows more than we can ever think. What is crazy is that Jesus didn’t mind getting on the floor and cleaning off the disciples’ feet—the feet of the humanity that He made eons before. What is humility? Tell us your personal definition on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read John 13:8

There had to be a level of discomfort in what the disciples were experiencing. Someone they had seen perform miracles is getting the dirt from between their toes. When challenged, Jesus says “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” It’s almost as if this uncomfortable situation is supposed to bring them comfort. Jesus is trying to help them experience peace. Has peace ever come to you out of distress? If you are willing to share, we are willing to listen. Share with the #MessageMag on social media and tell us your experience.

4) Read John 14:27

Here Jesus speaks strongly about His personal brand of peace. This peace is one that is experienced when you allow Jesus to love and serve you. He lovingly sacrificed His life to give us a real option of salvation, and He wants, yes, He desires that we serve others in His name. His expectations of us come after He offers us His peace. Does this makes sense to you? If so, share something with us about the peace He has given you. If it does not make sense, we would love to help you understand His offer and how to get it. Reach out to us using #MessageMag.

5) Read Luke 22:14-20

Jesus breaks bread and shares drink with the disciples after washing their feet. Nothing is His own. He has given His time, His service, and His effort. He doesn’t stop there. He concludes with giving a representation of His body and His blood. What more can Jesus give? Well, He would eventually give His life. Since Jesus has given everything, what should we hold back from giving? What do you have that is hard to sacrifice? Tell us using the #MessageMag.

6) Read Luke 22:21-24 John 13:21-23

While Jesus is serving, giving peace, and displaying love, there is someone at the table who has decided to betray Him. If that’s not bad enough, the next conversation the disciples decide to have focuses on which among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet, Jesus knowing all that was in their hearts decided to not only eat with them, but wash their feet. Could you do it? Could you sit at the table and show exceptional hospitality to people who are going to betray you and undermine your mission? What about take your life?

7) Read Luke 22:25-27

Jesus ruins what everyone believed to be greatness. He shoots down the idea of yearning to build a reputation for yourself. He destroys the pursuit of promotion by pulling others down. He says, in essence, if you want to be high in the Kingdom of Heaven, find out in your actions how low you can go.   



This article is part of our 2018 March / April Issue
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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.




Until That Day

One last meal. So much love, grace, and peace left unsaid, but here demonstrated by Christ.

Matt. 26:20-29 Mark 14:17-25 Luke 22:14-23 John 13:18-30 John 6:54, 56, 57

In partaking with His disciples of the bread and wine, Christ pledged Himself to them as their Redeemer. He committed to them the new covenant, by which all who receive Him become children of God, and joint heirs with Christ. By this covenant every blessing that heaven could bestow for this life and the life to come was theirs. This covenant deed was to be ratified with the blood of Christ. And the administration of the Sacrament was to keep before the disciples the infinite sacrifice made for each of them individually as a part of the great whole of fallen humanity.

But the Communion service was not to be a season of sorrowing. This was not its purpose. As the Lord’s disciples gather about His table, they are not to remember and lament their shortcomings. They are not to dwell upon their past religious experience, whether that experience has been elevating or depressing. They are not to recall the differences between them and their brethren. The preparatory service has embraced all this. The self-examination, the confession of sin, the reconciling of differences, has all been done. Now they come to meet with Christ. They are not to stand in the shadow of the cross, but in its saving light. They are to open the soul to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. With hearts cleansed by Christ’s most precious blood, in full consciousness of His presence, although unseen, they are to hear His words, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” John 14:27.

Our Lord says, [when] under conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for My sake and the gospel’s, remember My love, so great that for you I gave My life. When your duties appear stern and severe, and your burdens too heavy to bear, remember that for your sake I endured the cross, despising the shame. When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you.

The Communion service points to Christ’s second coming. It was designed to keep this hope vivid in the minds of the disciples. Whenever they met together to commemorate His death, they recounted how “He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” In their tribulation they found comfort in the hope of their Lord’s return. Unspeakably precious to them was the thought, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” 1 Cor. 11:26.

These are the things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power, is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. There can be no union between our souls and God except through Christ. The union and love between brother and brother must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. And nothing less than the death of Christ could make His love efficacious for us. It is only because of His death that we can look with joy to His second coming. His sacrifice is the center of our hope. Upon this we must fix our faith.



This article is part of our 2018 March / April 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/onlineboks.




Lost & Found

remember when I was in Kindergarten, in the principal’s office there was a box. In this box was a collection of some of the most random objects you could imagine. Everyone in the school knew about this box and what its purpose was. It was the lost and found box. It was the place where hope was realized and disappointment turned to joy. Things that were misplaced or forgotten were often reunited with their owner. It seemed like the more valuable the item that was in the box, the more the owner appreciated having it back. Join us as we explore what it was like to lose and find that which is most valuable.

1) Read Luke 2:41-43, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2

Imagine you’ve been waiting for something your whole life. You’ve consistently lived in such a way that showed you were waiting for something to happen that would alter history. Then imagine what you’ve been waiting for shows up and you have no idea. Jesus the One the Jews had been waiting for shows up as a 12-year-old boy and no one knows! Is it possible that He has given us exactly what we most deeply desire and we don’t realize it? Are you willing to give God a chance to do it?  Share it with us here using #MessageMag

2) Read Luke 2:44, Matthew 13:45-46, Mark 10:17-27

How crazy is it to think that a child who was born of immaculate conception, had shepherds worship Him at birth, and Magi brought Him gifts as a toddler, is allowed out of his parents’ sight for around 24 hours? Imagine the panic that overcame Mary and Joseph. Have you ever lost something valuable? How did you deal with it? Share your experience with us using #MessageMag on Social media. 

3) Read Luke 2:45-46, Luke 15:1-10

They lost Jesus for about three days! If we take the words of the text for what they are it suggests that they were so sure that Jesus was close that they ruled out that He could have been left behind. What a sobering challenge to having relationship with the Lord. I invite you the pray with us as we dismiss the temptation to assume Jesus is always with us. We would love to read your prayers on social media. If you share, use #MessageMag.

4) Read Luke 2:44-45, Joel 2:25

Sometimes we’re tempted to think our best days are behind us. If you think this is true for you, why not go back and get them? Impossible, you say? Nothing is impossible for and with God. Mary and Joseph had to go back to where they came from to get the greatness they left behind. Maybe we have to resolve to do the same from time to time. Is there anything in your past you desire God to give you strength to get back? We want to pray for those things with you. Give us your prayer request on Social Media using #MessageMag.

5) Luke 2:47-49, Proverbs 3:5,6 Romans 8:28

No matter your spiritual preference, trust is an indispensable ingredient in growth. Here a young Jesus is found doing what He would be doing the rest of His life. Do we trust that how things go are the way they are meant to go? What does it mean to trust? Tell us on Social media using #MessageMag.

6) Read Luke 2:50

It wasn’t only Jesus who was lost in this story, but His parents also. They didn’t understand that Jesus couldn’t be lost because He was the one throughout human history who searched out those without direction. While we search for Jesus He’s always where He needs to be. Has He ever been in an unexpected place for you at just the right time? Tell us about it using #MessageMag.

7) Read Luke 2:51-52, Psalm 139:7-12

Jesus was lost and then found. He has forever specialized in seeking the lost and redeeming the found. I pray that you never leave Him behind but if you do, remember when He found you in the box with all the other trinkets and was overjoyed for you to be back with whom you belong. 



This article is part of our January/February 2018 Issue
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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.




My Father’s Business

BASED ON Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, in the chapter “The Passover Visit”

Ithe school of the rabbis they found Jesus. Rejoiced as they were, they could not forget their grief and anxiety. When He was with them again, the mother said, in words that implied reproof, “Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”

“How is it that ye sought Me?” answered Jesus. “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” And as they seemed not to understand His words, He pointed upward. On His face was a light at which they wondered. Divinity was flashing through humanity. On finding Him in the temple, they had listened to what was passing between Him and the rabbis, and they were astonished at His questions and answers. His words started a train of thought that would never be forgotten.

And His question to them had a lesson. “Wist ye not,” He said, “that I must be about My Father’s business?” Jesus was engaged in the work that He had come into the world to do; but Joseph and Mary had neglected theirs. God had shown them high honor in committing to them His Son. Holy angels had directed the course of Joseph in order to preserve the life of Jesus. But for an entire day they had lost sight of Him whom they should not have forgotten for a moment. And when their anxiety was relieved, they had not censured themselves, but had cast the blame upon Him.

It was natural for the parents of Jesus to look upon Him as their own child. He was daily with them, His life in many respects was like that of other children, and it was difficult for them to realize that He was the Son of God. They were in danger of failing to appreciate the blessing granted them in the presence of the world’s Redeemer. The grief of their separation from Him, and the gentle reproof which His words conveyed, were designed to impress them with the sacredness of their trust.

In the answer to His mother, Jesus showed for the first time that He understood His relation to God. Before His birth the angel had said to Mary, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.” Luke 1:32, 33. These words Mary had pondered in her heart; yet while she believed that her child was to be Israel’s Messiah, she did not comprehend His mission. Now she did not understand His words; but she knew that He had disclaimed kinship to Joseph, and had declared His Sonship to God.

Jesus did not ignore His relation to His earthly parents. From Jerusalem He returned home with them, and aided them in their life of toil. He hid in His own heart the mystery of His mission, waiting submissively for the appointed time for Him to enter upon His work. For eighteen years after He had recognized that He was the Son of God, He acknowledged the tie that bound Him to the home at Nazareth, and performed the duties of a son, a brother, a friend, and a citizen.

As His mission had opened to Jesus in the temple, He shrank from contact with the multitude. He wished to return from Jerusalem in quietness, with those who knew the secret of His life. By the paschal service, God was seeking to call His people away from their worldly cares, and to remind them of His wonderful work in their deliverance from Egypt. In this work He desired them to see a promise of deliverance from sin. As the blood of the slain lamb sheltered the homes of Israel, so the blood of Christ was to save their souls; but they could be saved through Christ only as by faith they should make His life their own. There was virtue in the symbolic service only as it directed the worshipers to Christ as their personal Saviour. God desired that they should be led to prayerful study and meditation in regard to Christ’s mission. But as the multitudes left Jerusalem, the excitement of travel and social intercourse too often absorbed their attention, and the service they had witnessed was forgotten. The Saviour was not attracted to their company.

     As Joseph and Mary should return from Jerusalem alone with Jesus, He hoped to direct their minds to the prophecies of the suffering Saviour. Upon Calvary He sought to lighten His mother’s grief. He was thinking of her now. Mary was to witness His last agony, and Jesus desired her to understand His mission, that she might be strengthened to endure, when the sword should pierce through her soul. As Jesus had been separated from her, and she had sought Him sorrowing three days, so when He should be offered up for the sins of the world, He would again be lost to her for three days. And as He should come forth from the tomb, her sorrow would again be turned to joy. But how much better she could have borne the anguish of His death if she had understood the Scriptures to which He was now trying to turn her thoughts! 



This article is part of our January/February 2018 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/onlineboks.




Liberty and Justice for All

Many people know and believe that Jesus came to set us free. What He sets us free from can vary from person to person. One will say He came to set us free from ourselves. Another will say He came to release us from the bondage of sin. Yet another will assert that He frees us from our personal vices. These all are true in their own right, but I wonder if while Jesus walked this earth He had some other liberties he wished to relay to humanity? Join us as we see if Jesus truly wanted Liberty and Justice for All.

1) Read Luke 5:1-14

I don’t see it as coincidence that Jesus goes back into Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” after having gone through what He just did. I hope you don’t get offended, but when was the last time you fasted so that you would be able to live in the power of the Spirit? When was the last time you fasted for anything? Maybe it was recently, but maybe it wasn’t. I invite you to fast from what God puts on your mind to do. If you would like someone to pray with you during this time feel free to call me at 614-266-9568.

2) Read Luke 5:16-19, Isaiah 61:1-3

You just read the scripture that Jesus read from so that you can see the cliff Jesus left those in the synagogue on. Did you notice where Jesus stopped reading? What was left out of his reading that Sabbath? Let us know using #MessageMag on social media. We would love to here from you. 

3) Read Luke 5:20-22

Jesus rolls up the scroll at what many believe is an intentional place. But, instead of just receiving His gracious words, the people cannot believe this is Someone they know, or at least, someone with whom they are familiar. Have you ever seen this happen? The very fact that everybody knew them blocked their progression or a positive reception. This community, like many today, had a problem with someone elevating in influence and authority. Tell us if this is familiar to you and how, by using the #MessageMag on social media.

4) Read Luke 5:23-27

Jesus went too far. Or at least those in church that day thought so. He had the audacity to say God blesses those who are not the “remnant.” He implied that God sends his favor to those who have wandered away from the truth, and even are against God’s chosen people. Is Jesus in left field or have you personally seen Him do things in a way you would never expect? Share your experience on Social Media using #MessageMag.

5) Read Luke 5:28

Why would it make people so mad that Jesus was saying God cared about more than just those who went to church? I submit that if you or I were to make a public stand or take a knee to suggest that there are those who have been marginalized, profiled, and systematically deprived of privileges, that we would receive a similar response. It is hard to be aware, vocal, and active in a community where many have been programmed to focus on self-preservation. Any message of liberation that is not focused on them is infuriating, especially from one of their own. Have you seen this? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know using #MessageMag on social media.

6) Read Isaiah 61:3

Jesus was talking to a people who were in bondage themselves. The Jews were currently under Roman occupation and had to answer to Pilate, and ultimately Caesar. When He stopped reading at verse 2 of Isaiah 61, and then proceeded to talk about how God goes to others, it was a slap in the face because everyone wanted the glory of verse 3 without the true responsibility that preceded it. God is looking for the chosen to be more then hopeful. He is looking for them to be conscious. Has He led you to this mindset? If so, tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

7) Read Luke 5:29-30

Jesus spoke up about people in distress and it almost got Him killed. There is no logic to what Jesus did when the people went to throw him off the cliff. I just see that Jesus stated that a major part of his mission was to bring liberty and justice to all and His work wasn’t done. Our work isn’t done, and I’m convinced that whatever opposition is met, God will give power to go through. 

 


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




Pushed to the Brink

Excerpted from Ellen G. White’s

Jesus stood before the people as a living expositor of the prophecies concerning Himself. Explaining the words He had read, He spoke of the Messiah as a reliever of the oppressed, a liberator of captives, a healer of the afflicted, restoring sight to the blind, and revealing to the world the light of truth. His impressive manner and the wonderful import of His words thrilled the hearers with a power they had never felt before. The tide of divine influence broke every barrier down; like Moses, they beheld the Invisible. As their hearts were moved upon by the Holy Spirit, they responded with fervent amens and praises to the Lord.

But when Jesus announced, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” they were suddenly recalled to think of themselves, and of the claims of Him who had been addressing them. They, Israelites, children of Abraham, had been represented as in bondage. They had been addressed as prisoners to be delivered from the power of evil; as in darkness, and needing the light of truth. Their pride was offended, and their fears were roused. The words of Jesus indicated that His work for them was to be altogether different from what they desired. Their deeds might be investigated too closely. Notwithstanding their exactness in outward ceremonies, they shrank from inspection by those clear, searching eyes.

Who is this Jesus? they questioned. He who had claimed for Himself the glory of the Messiah was the son of a carpenter, and had worked at His trade with His father Joseph. They had seen Him toiling up and down the hills, they were acquainted with His brothers and sisters, and knew His life and labors. They had seen Him develop from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood. Although His life had been spotless, they would not believe that He was the Promised One.

What a contrast between His teaching in regard to the new kingdom and that which they had heard from their elder! Jesus had said nothing of delivering them from the Romans. They had heard of His miracles, and had hoped that His power would be exercised for their advantage, but they had seen no indication of such purpose.

Our standing before God depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have.

As they opened the door to doubt, their hearts became so much the harder for having been momentarily softened. Satan was determined that blind eyes should not that day be opened, nor souls bound in slavery be set at liberty. With intense energy, he worked to fasten them in unbelief. They made no account of the sign already given, when they had been stirred by the conviction that it was their Redeemer who addressed them.

But Jesus now gave them an evidence of His divinity by revealing their secret thoughts. “He said unto them, Doubtless ye will say unto Me this parable, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in Thine own country. And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own country. But of a truth I say unto you, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman, the Syrian” (Luke 4:23-27).

By this relation of events in the lives of the prophets, Jesus met the questionings of His hearers. The servants whom God had chosen for a special work were not allowed to labor for a hardhearted and unbelieving people. But those who had hearts to feel and faith to believe were especially favored with evidences of His power through the prophets. In the days of Elijah, Israel had departed from God. They clung to their sins, and rejected the warnings of the Spirit through the Lord’s messengers. Thus, they cut themselves off from the channel by which God’s blessing could come to them. The Lord passed by the homes of Israel, and found a refuge for His servant in a heathen land, with a woman who did not belong to the chosen people. But this woman was favored because she had followed the light she had received, and her heart was open to the greater light that God sent her through His prophet.

Our standing before God depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have. Thus even the heathen who choose the right as far as they can distinguish it are in a more favorable condition than are those who have had great light, and profess to serve God, but who disregard the light, and by their daily life contradict their profession.

The words of Jesus to His hearers in the synagogue struck at the root of their self-righteousness, pressing home upon them the bitter truth that they had departed from God and forfeited their claim to be His people. Every word cut like a knife as their real condition was set before them. They now scorned the faith with which Jesus had at first inspired them. They would not admit that He who had sprung from poverty and lowliness was other than a common man.

Their unbelief bred malice. Satan controlled them, and in wrath they cried out against the Saviour. They had turned from Him whose mission it was to heal and restore; now they manifested the attributes of the destroyer.

When Jesus referred to the blessings given to the Gentiles, the fierce national pride of His hearers was aroused, and His words were drowned in a tumult of voices. These people had prided themselves on keeping the law; but now that their prejudices were offended, they were ready to commit murder. The assembly broke up, and laying hands upon Jesus, they thrust Him from the synagogue, and out of the city. All seemed eager for His destruction. They hurried Him to the brow of a precipice, intending to cast Him down headlong. Shouts and maledictions filled the air. Some were casting stones at Him, when suddenly He disappeared from among them. The heavenly messengers who had been by His side in the synagogue were with Him in the midst of that maddened throng. They shut Him in from His enemies, and conducted Him to a place of safety..

 

 


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.




He is Not Done with Me Yet

How much happens in a day? How much happened in your life over the last year? How much have you experienced in your life? What if I told you that there is not one detail about which God is not unaware? He is able to have everyone in the whole world in His hands, and still focus on the specifics of your life. Join me in this experience that shows us how focused a Lord and Savior we have.

1) Read John 6:1-4
Jesus is popular. He has done things people had never seen and it caused them to want to go wherever He went. You would think that this would be a completely positive thing, and it mostly is, but what if Jesus was looking for some time alone? Have you ever seen in your life that responsibility is a byproduct of blessing? Tell us about a time that you received favor but also took on duty using the #MessageMag on social media.

2) Read John 6:5-7
It’s easy to be hard on Philip. All he was doing was what many of us do on a regular basis. He was focusing on the tangible. He was crunching the numbers and counting the cost. The only thing was that Jesus “already had in mind what He was going to do.” Has this ever been the case for you? You thought you knew best, but God had other plans? Tell us about it here at Message using the #MessageMag on social media.

3) Read John 6:8, 9
Take some time today to slow down and meditate on the words of this refrain and allow God to show you times in your life where He has shown them to be true.
“Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.”
(Kittie L. Suffield, 1924)

4) Read John 6:10, 11
I personally appreciate the details given here by John. He says that after Jesus had His disciples sit down, “he took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed…” Isn’t it curious that He gave thanks before the multiplication of the food? Jesus gave appreciation before the manifestation of what was hoped for. How challenging is it to truly be thankful before you get what you desire? Take some time to consider James 1:2; Philippians 4:4, and Philippians 4:19, and tell us why Jesus would give thanks at the time He did. Share it with us on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read John 6:12, 13
There are a lot of things for which we can be thankful. More than I can list, and more than would come to someone’s mind. If you are reading these words, more than likely you are in a situation where you have been shown favor to have some level of comfort. It may not be what you want, but at least you have something. There are people in this world who don’t have a roof over their head, and barely any food to eat; yet, God has allowed others to have more than enough. Take time to pray about having God open your eyes to see what you do have and how you can help others, rather than what you don’t have.

6) Read John 6:14, 15
The people were so in awe of what they saw and had experienced that they began to plot the next move without consulting Jesus. After literally tasting and seeing how good the Lord had been, they wanted to put Him in the place they thought He should be. There was only one problem; Jesus was nowhere to be found. It may seem like a crude question, but has it ever seemed like God has walked out on you when you were expecting Him to be there? Tell us about it here at Message using the #MessageMag.

7) Read John 6:15
The Bible tells us that the reason Jesus was missing was because He knew that they were going to attempt to make Him king. Wasn’t He supposed to be king? Wasn’t He already King? I want to encourage you in times when it seems like God isn’t doing what you want Him to do, just know He is simply on a different schedule. It doesn’t mean He’s not loving, compassionate, or able. It could be that He is tending to something that will maximize the moment when everything comes together. It wasn’t time for Him to be crowned King because He wasn’t done yet.


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




Feeding the Five Thousand

Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13

Christ never worked a miracle except to supply a genuine necessity, and every miracle was of a character to lead the people to the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. The simple food passed round by the hands of the disciples contained a whole treasure of lessons.

It was humble fare that had been provided; the fishes and barley loaves were the daily food of the fisher folk about the Sea of Galilee. Christ could have spread before the people a rich repast, but food prepared merely for the gratification of appetite would have conveyed no lesson for their good. Christ taught them in this lesson that the natural provisions of God for man had been perverted. And never did people enjoy the luxurious feasts prepared for the gratification of perverted taste as this people enjoyed the rest and the simple food which Christ provided so far from human habitations.

In the production of earth’s harvests God is working a miracle every day.

If men today were simple in their habits, living in harmony with nature’s laws, as did Adam and Eve in the beginning, there would be an abundant supply for the needs of the human family. There would be fewer imaginary wants, and more opportunities to work in God’s ways. But selfishness and the indulgence of unnatural taste have brought sin and misery into the world, from excess on the one hand, and from want on the other.
Jesus did not seek to attract the people to Him by gratifying the desire for luxury. To that great throng, weary and hungry after the long, exciting day, the simple fare was an assurance not only of His power, but of His tender care for them in the common needs of life. The Savior has not promised His followers the luxuries of the world; their fare may be plain, and even scanty; their lot may be shut in by poverty; but His word is pledged that their need shall be supplied, and He has promised that which is far better than worldly good—the abiding comfort of His own presence.

In feeding the five thousand, Jesus lifts the veil from the world of nature, and reveals the power that is constantly exercised for our good. In the production of earth’s harvests God is working a miracle every day. Through natural agencies the same work is accomplished that was wrought in the feeding of the multitude. Men prepare the soil and sow the seed, but it is the life from God that causes the seed to germinate. It is God’s rain and air and sunshine that cause it to put forth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” Mark 4:28. It is God who is every day feeding millions from earth’s harvest fields. Men are called upon to co-operate with God in the care of the grain and the preparation of the loaf, and because of this they lose sight of the divine agency. They do not give God the glory due unto His holy name. The working of His power is ascribed to natural causes or to human instrumentality. Man is glorified in place of God, and His gracious gifts are perverted to selfish uses, and made a curse instead of a blessing. God is seeking to change all this. He desires that our dull senses shall be quickened to discern His merciful kindness and to glorify Him for the working of His power. He desires us to recognize Him in His gifts, that they may be, as He intended, a blessing to us. It was to accomplish this purpose that the miracles of Christ were performed.

 


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.