WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

Jesus loves children. He did when He walked those dusty streets when He was here on earth, and He still does now. Sometimes children, at a young age, can seem uninterested in the things of God. This should not be used to conclude that God is uninterested in them. I believe the Old and New Testaments are riddled with proof that God is intentional about caring for the precious young ones in our lives. Join us as we explore when God answers the question, “What About the Children?”

1) Read Matthew 19:14
Jesus lets his disciples know to simply not get in the way of children coming close to Him. It may seem elementary, but how often do we get in the way of children, either literally, or spiritually, getting close to Jesus? Do you remember being a child in the faith? Had you ever experienced anyone hindering you from getting closer to God? Let us know on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Joshua 3:15-17
Is it just me or do the most hindering things in life seem to always come when we’re close to what God has in store? It’s the stress before peace, trouble before blessing, Jordan River before the Promised Land. Have you known you were close to what God promised, but there was something you still had to overcome? Let us know using #MessageMag.

3) Read Joshua 3:17
See it with me. The priests step into the Jordan River and the water doesn’t even touch their ankles before the miraculous begins. The water curls up onto itself in the direction it was coming from. It begins to empty in the direction it was going until there is nothing but riverbed in sight. I can only imagine the awe the Israelites had. Has God ever shown you something that is literally awesome? Let us know and use #MessageMag.

4) Read Joshua 3:1-4
Can you still see the scene? For some reason people were told to stand at a distance from the Ark of God. Through their eyes, on one side, there was no river where there was supposed to be a river. They were walking on dry ground. Then on the other side they could look and see the Ark, but if they looked passed the Ark they could see the river piling up on itself ready to wash them away. How many times has God stood in the gap and stopped what was supposed to wash us away? Has he done it for you? Let us know using #MessageMag.

5)
Some people may wonder if God still does amazing things like this in this day and age. I know that the answer is a resounding yes! Is there a miracle that God has worked in your life or the life of someone around you? Let us know here at message on social media using #MessageMag. I’m sure someone will be encouraged and inspired by your experience.

6) Read Joshua 4:1-7
God gave an interesting directive after the people had crossed over the Jordan. He said get 12 stones and when you camp, set them up. They were to remind the people of what He had done, not only at the Jordan but also at the Red Sea. Finally God said to let the children know, when they asked, what that meant. Do we pass down the testimony of how we made it over? I wonder if our youth are at a distance because we haven’t shared how God has come close in our situations? I invite you to pray for God to give you an opportunity to share with a young person what He brought you through.

7) Read Joshua 4:20-24
I truly believe that our young people need to know what God has brought us through. They need to be able to ask questions about why things are the way they are. We should all have our own personal Gilgal where all will know that God has been powerful in that place. We need to be open with our youth that God has to take us through some things that were the results of our bad decisions. I think this will help keep us from having to ask, “What About the Children?”

 


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




A SLAVE IN FREEDOM

Trapped. Stuck. Imprisoned. I don’t know too many people who are comfortable in those circumstances. No one likes the feeling of his or her freedom being limited. That is just what sin does to us though. It corners us in a cell of selfishness that seems impossible to escape. That is why what Jesus did for us on the cross is so amazing! Because of His life, death, resurrection, and glorification we have been liberated. Even so, I’m convinced that the enemy still wishes to keep us captive. Let us eavesdrop on what Jesus does when He meets a slave in freedom.

1) Read Matthew 8:28, Mark 5:1, 2
Here we see that the two authors have two different accounts of the same incident. Don’t be distracted by the differences, but rather focus in on the similarities. Does it strike you as odd that someone who is demon-possessed runs toward Jesus rather than away from Him? Isn’t the grace of God amazing in that when you think you’re far, He’s so close? Tell us about a time when you ran into God in an unexpected place. We would love to hear about it here at Message on Social Media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 8:29, Mark 5:7, 8
Do you see the ownership that the demons proclaim over the ones they possess? I can’t sugar-coat the reality that evil is contagious. It spreads without permission. I once heard a preacher address how one could possibly get thousands of demons in them. His answer was simple. “One at a time.” Maybe demon possession is more extreme than your current predicament. We all can admit that doing wrong has a tendency to get out of control quickly. Is there a song, scripture, poem, or anything that you refer to when it seems life is getting out of control? Tell us about it using #MessageMag on Social Media.

3) Read Mark 5:3, 4
I want you to take your time reading and meditating on this particular portion of the story. Take some time to ask God for His Spirit’s guidance in seeing yourself in this man. Pray. If you want someone to pray with you e-mail me at pastor.rashad.burden@gmail.com.

4) Read Mark 5:3, 4
This man is not just demon-possessed, but it seems that people have tried to either help him or themselves by putting chains on him. We see that he hurts other people and himself, and someone thought the solution was chains. Clearly, though, external boundaries proved insufficient. Don’t we have a tendency to do the same thing? We sometimes think that if we put enough rules, laws, and constraints into place that we can change people and maybe ourselves. Have you ever tried to use rules to change who you are to no avail? Share your experience with us using #MessageMag.

5) Read Psalm 51
David knew something that we need to know. Our actions are more about the internal than the external. Read his words and think about how people tried to handle the man who was demon possessed.

6) Read Mark 5:3, 4
I want to bring your attention to the fact that though the man was chained, he exercised supernatural strength to break the chains, yet he was still demon-possessed. He was able to get an appearance of freedom, but at the end of the day, the devil was still guiding his life. I wonder if Satan allows us to get victories from time to time as long as we let him keep his hand on the controls? It’s a humbling thought that you can have chains broken but still be stuck.

7) Read Matthew 8:32, Mark 5:18-20
Jesus didn’t speak to the chains; He spoke to the evil within. We all are susceptible to being a slave in our freedom, if we don’t allow Jesus to have a conversation with the worst parts of us. I’m convinced that if we do, our response will be much like that of the demoniac in that we are begging Jesus to go wherever He goes.


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




Surrounded

Miraculous healing. How much does it happen nowadays? When was the last time you went to church or were walking the streets and saw someone who was blind receive their sight or an individual who was deaf have their hearing restored? It doesn’t seem to be happening much in our time. I wonder if it has something to do with not only our inward condition, but possibly our outward reality. Little do we know that what we are surrounded by could be affecting what God wants to surround us with.


Read John 5:1-4

The blind, lame, and paralyzed were around the pool of Bethesda for the same reason. They hoped that their situation could be fixed. Have you ever hoped God would do something about something that you did not have the power to do yourself? Have you ever felt motivated by hope? What about stagnated by hope? Tell us about it using the #MessageMag on social media. We would love to hear from you.

Read John 5:5

This man is beyond hopeful. He was stuck. The Bible says that he has been in this condition for 38 years! Maybe you have not dealt with something for four decades, but maybe there is something in which you hoped God would intervene, and it is taking longer than you expected. We would love to join you in praying about that particular circumstance. Reach us at pastorrburden@icloud.com or to (editor@messagemagazine.com), and we’d love to pray with you.

Read John 5:6

Jesus asks this man: “Do you want to get well?” If I were to put myself in those shoes I think I may have been a little irritated by the Lord. How can you ask me if I want to be well when I obviously am trying to position myself to be healed but cannot help myself? Have you ever been irritated with how it seemed God was dealing with your problems? Vent on social media using the #MessageMag

Read John 5:6

Now that we’ve gotten that off of our chest, look at the question one more time. “Do you want to get well?” Is it possible that Jesus asked the question because there was something about the context that suggested he did not have a legitimate desire to be well? Picture it: a man who cannot help himself has surrounded himself with people who cannot help themselves. So let me ask you a different question. With what kind of people have you surrounded yourself? Don’t share. Take some time and silence your phone and the television. Find silence to think about those that are in your circle that influence you and that you influence.

Read John 5:7

In response to Jesus’ question, this man said he had no one to help him into the pool. I do not believe we are to surround ourselves with people from whom we leech, but those with whom we associate have lasting effects on our direction and destination in life. That is both practically and spiritually. Are we in community with people who thirst for a more intimate relationship with Jesus? Are our friends people who have aspirations, goals, and are actively pursuing them? Read Paul’s sharp council in 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Read John 5:8

Curious, Jesus did not touch the man, nor did He make some sort of proclamation of his healing. Instead, Jesus just gave a directive. He told him to do what he waited for God to do for almost 40 years! Suddenly, with no fireworks or fanfare, this man stood up. Jesus did not take him by the hand or lift him. The man immediately had the strength to do what he wanted someone else to help him do. Yes, this was a miraculous healing, yet I wonder, if we want someone else to do what God has given us power to do ourselves in our own lives?

John 5:9-10

The man immediately picked up his mat and began to walk. He now carries as a trophy the mat that once carried him. As it may sadly be even in our times, he is not met with amazement and praise, but criticism and negativity. I would like to point out, though, that those who surround him now have changed drastically. He is no longer in the throng of people who cannot help themselves, but thronged by people who are wondering who helped him. I pray that as we move forward with our testimonies held high that we are wise about our surroundings. I pray we never forget the time that we rubbed shoulders with Jesus and He told us what we can do. 

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.




Can You See?

Miracles are supposed to be unexplainable. It’s like when a family member’s terminal illness suddenly turns into a clean bill of health. It’s when you are behind on the bills and someone randomly decides to repay you, or give you a gift. Or, what about the person who you thought would always oppose you ends up being a great friend? You know miracles, unexplainable, unexpected, undeserved miracles.

That still doesn’t keep me from wanting to ask God when I get to heaven: “how did you give sight to the blind?”

I wonder if He is still restoring sight in 2017? Join me as we explore how a no-name, and a big name received their sight.


Read John 9:1-3

This seems a bit harsh to me. How is it that God can just decide to have someone be blind for a major portion of their life? Then Jesus declared that the reason for the blindness was so that “the works of God might be displayed in him.” Have you ever had to deal with something for an extended amount of time only to see God work through it in the end? If so, share it with us here at Message on social media using #MessageMag.

Read Exodus 2:11

God cares about timing and His plans are divinely time-sensitive. We see here that Moses went out and discovered that his own people were in hard labor only after he had grown up. Do you think that was by happenstance? Have you ever been exposed to something before you think you should have been? What effect did it have? Would you share it with us here at Message on social media using #MessageMag?

Read Romans 5:6

I know many people have been exposed to many things that they think their lives could have done without. Implicit in this verse is the promise that Jesus is right on time. I challenge you to call a friend or family member and let them know how you experienced a powerless moment in your life and Jesus showed up right on time. Go ahead. Make that phone call. Send that text message. It may be right on time.

Read John 9:5-7

Did the reality of this passage hit you? For a moment, close your eyes and imagine only being able to hear. Then imagine hearing a stranger forming spit in their mouth, and you hear them actually spit. Next thing you experience is a moist substance on your face. That would be the end for most of us! This young man decides to stick around long enough to get instructions to walk around in public with mud on his face. My question is this: What are you willing to go through for your deliverance? Share it with us on social media using #MessageMag.

Read Exodus 2:12

What a savage scene. Moses, fresh from the royal presence, empowered by his awareness, connection, and relation to his people decides to murder an Egyptian. How should we respond when we see our fellow brothers and sisters being oppressed? Rather than thinking about whether what Moses did was right or wrong, ask yourself whether you are doing anything right for those that are being wronged around you? Is what’s in front of you disturbing enough to take action? What are you willing to go through for someone else’s deliverance? Share it with us on social media using #MessageMag.

Read John 9:13-34, Exodus 2:13-15

How can experiencing deliverance or seeking to deliver someone cause more persecution? This man’s eyes were opened and those around him didn’t want to believe their eyes because of the how, who, and when of this man’s experience. Moses gets put on front street by the same people he fought for. Is this how it’s supposed to be? Has this ever happened to you? If so, share it with us on social media using #MessageMag.

Read John 9:35-39, Exodus 3:1-4

God had to come back around to both of these men, and I believe He does the same for us. When we think we see, we’re blind. When we’re blind is when it seems like things become clear. Sometimes God has to blot out our eyesight to illuminate our insight. For some of us our deliverance won’t come until we’re willing to look foolish for Jesus. Others of us are called to take a risk so that God can put us on a path of freeing the oppressed in times like these. The question is, can you see?

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.




NONSENSE ?- Luke 24

Following Jesus can seem foolish. You talk into nothing and expect something. You read the same words in scripture for years, yet look for different and fresh meaning. You show up—where people may or may not get along—weekly hoping to find inspiration and edification. From the outside looking in, following Jesus can be perceived as nonsense. I invite you to explore how this nonsense can make sense of senseless lives.

Jesus has died but for some reason the women in this story still hold their loyalty and allegiances to him. I wonder why? Have you ever questioned why you go to the church you do? Or, have you questioned why you believe what you do? What kept you? Tell us about it here at Message using the hashtag #MessageMag on social media.

Read Luke 24:3

These women were fully devoted to Jesus, but when they arrived to pay Him respect, He wasn’t there. They had pulled together their resources only to meet disappointment. Have you ever had that experience? Have you done your best to be pleasing in the sight of God but you still ended up disappointed? If you are willing, tell us about it using the hashtag #MessageMag on social media.

Luke 24:4-6

Angels showed up! I don’t know about you but I may have had the same reaction as these women, but it would be mostly shaped in fear! There is something to be said about the presence of the supernatural in times of disappointment. Glorious relief cheered their hearts upon seeing the angel. You may have experienced something that you’ve kept to yourself because it seems too amazing to be true. Why don’t you tell us about using the hashtag #MessageMag on social media?

Read Luke 24:7, 8

Isn’t it amazing how much God has taught us that we have forgotten? Just like these women, you and I have had Jesus tell us some things that if only we would keep them at the front of our minds, maybe we wouldn’t experience so much disappointment. I challenge you to either re-read all those highlights in your Bible or review a book of the Bible that you have not explored in a while.

Read Luke 24:9-11

We are slow to believe that God still moves in miraculous ways. Even the disciples who had seen Him raise people from the dead were apprehensive. Have you ever been told something you didn’t believe but God had to show you that it and He is real? Think and tell us about it, using the hashtag #MessageMag on social media.

I find it interesting that God pre-destined the news of the resurrection to be communicated by women in a male-dominated society. God employs the smallest voices (at least, then) and grants them the loudest messages. No need to share; I just invite you to pray about the “small voices” that may be trying to guide you in your life.

Read Luke 24:12

Peter listened, even if just out of curiosity. He then went to the tomb and confirmed for himself that something indeed had happened to Jesus! He couldn’t make sense of it, but at least he now knew that Jesus was no longer in the grave. He was a witness. The “nonsense” of a few women led this man who walked side by side with Jesus for years, to see something he otherwise would not have. They caused him to think about things he might have never pondered. I pray that you keep up with the “nonsense” that Jesus has for you so that someone may come closer to seeing how alive He is.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.




Where’s My Spotter?

Life can be heavy. Family, bills, children, work, church, money, illness and pain are some of the things that can make life heavy. Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders? Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Have you wondered whether Jesus felt like it was too much and was willing to receive help? He did, and I invite you to prayerfully think about the time when an “extra” took center stage in the plan of salvation.


Lesson 1 Read Luke 23:26

There is something to be said about being in the right place at the right time. The Bible says that Simone of Cyrene was “coming in from the country.” Have you ever been minding your own business, and God decides to just drop a ministry opportunity in your lap? Maybe you have felt that tug on your heart to be exceptionally kind to someone you don’t even know. If so, let us know at Message on social media using the hashtag #messagemag.

Lesson 2

We see people every day, but do we actually love these people? We can speculate that Simon had heard of Jesus. Maybe he witnessed one of the many miracles Jesus performed. What we do know is that this man was called to help someone with whom he didn’t necessarily have an intimate relationship, And he didn’t refuse.

Lesson 3

We have altered and distorted our concept of love to require public exaltation. Jesus, however, did everything He could to make sure no one knew many of the great things He did. He constantly told those He healed to tell no one. Often when throngs of people would follow Him, He would find a way to make them want to leave. What Simon did here was the opposite. His good deed was out in the open. He was willing to bear a shameful symbol for a Man being shamed. Are you willing to love God and the people around you, even if it means you’ll be looked down upon? Pray about it. Journal about it.

Lesson 4 Read Matthew 27:32

Though Simon didn’t refuse the cross, he didn’t volunteer either. I don’t believe God takes away the gift of choice from anyone. It seems to me that there are people for whom God orchestrates unique circumstances for unforgettable experiences. Have you ever felt like God has cornered you? Has he put you in position in which you almost had no other option but to do the right thing? If so, share it with us here at Message using #messagemag on social media.

Lesson 5 Read Mark 15:21

I noticed that when the cross was given to Simon, he walked behind Jesus. This is after Jesus carried the cross on His own, and He had been beaten and bloodied. His pace would have been slow. Simon had to walk at the same pace as Jesus. I have a question for you: Do you ever feel like Jesus is moving too slowly while you have weight on your back? Have you ever felt like God wasn’t an “on-time God?” Be honest with us and share on social media using the #messagemag.

Lesson 6 Read Luke 23:26

I have a younger, bigger brother. He is a physique competitor. He recently placed second in a field of over 100 competitors to obtain his pro card from the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation. He is the real deal. I work out with him sometimes, and he always wants me to try an exercise I’ve never done. Or he wants me to try lifting weight that’s almost too much for me. Whenever he does, though, he always does it first. When I attempt it, he always stands behind me to make sure nothing goes wrong. Consider that Jesus carried the cross before Simon did. Tell us what comes to your mind on social media using the hashtag #messagemag.

Lesson 7

Seeing my brother lift the weight before I do lets me know that he can spot whatever weight I attempt. Jesus bearing the cross shows us that there is no weight on us that He hasn’t carried already. Simon’s encounter with Jesus shows us that the best of us need someone to spot us. Pray to God to bring you into true friendship with people who will spot you when life gets heavy. Ask Him to provide people who’ll be willing to walk your journey with you—no matter what twists and turns it takes.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.




Can you hear me? Lesson 2

Lesson 2 – Read John 18:28

Just a surface reading of this raises some questions. Why would Jewish leaders think that if they led the Romans to kill Jesus, it would not implicate them? Were they really prioritizing their own ceremonial cleanliness over the life of someone else? Does this resonate with you? If so, tell us how on social media using #messagemag.




Can you hear me? Lesson 1

Yes, action speaks louder than words. Who you are is defined less by what you say and more by what you do. Jesus said a lot of things that many church people can rattle off on command. The question is: Was it what He did or who He was that validated what He said? I believe it’s both. His true character and resolve appeared in His journey to the cross. He said a lot without uttering many words. His question to us is: Can you hear Me?

Read John 18:19-26

Sometimes we forget that Jesus was a Jew, born and raised. Can you imagine growing up in a religion, your parents being in the religion, only to have the religious people turn on you? Maybe you’ve had this experience. I’m praying healing over you as I write these words. We at Message would love to hear your testimony. Share with us via social media using #messagemag.