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I Saw A Man Die


Free online articles from the Magazine.

FEATURES

28 ARE WE THERE YET?
by G. Russel Seay /
The destiny of your choosing awaits.

FAVORITES

5 EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
I Dream a World Where We Can Make It Stop

23 FUTURECAST
by Carlton P. Byrd /
SO MANY CHURCHES, HOW DO I PICK ONE?

24 THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
GET JUSTICE FOR ME

25 THE EXPERIENCE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
SAVING LIFE




Saving Life

What is Love? Who is love? How do you love? Maybe you’ve asked one of those questions. At least, you have heard them asked at some point or another. What if I told you that justice and love in the Bible are the same? Would you believe me? Let us journey through this experience as we find out how God’s love in you can bring justice and save life.


(1) Read Mark 3:1; Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8

We are introduced to a man in Mark 3 who has a visible difference that alienates and marginalizes him in society. In his time, he had no business being in the synagogue, and his exclusion stemmed not from his actions, but because of something over which he had no control. Can you imagine being pushed to the sidelines of society because of some outward thing that you can’t help? Talk to us about it on Social Media using  #MessageMag.

(2) Read Mark 3:2; Mark 2:23-27; Psalm 37:27-29

While this man with a withered hand stands there, others in the synagogue are wondering if Jesus will heal him on the Sabbath. What they don’t realize is that Jesus uses the Sabbath to give people who are weary, rest. Who is more weary than individuals like this marginalized man? Do you know of any? How do they fall into this category?

(3) Read Mark 3:3; Prov. 28:5; Psalm 33:5

Jesus then does the unthinkable. He asks the man who isn’t even supposed to be in the room to stand up, front and center. How loving it is to give attention to the ignored, a voice to the silenced, and a platform to the underserved. Jesus empowering someone to stand in a place he should be, but policy forbids, is justice.

(4)

I must say that it intrigues me to no end that this man had his life changed by following the simple directions of Jesus. It wasn’t a series of positive actions. It wasn’t a history of good behavior. It wasn’t credit for some good deed. It was simply doing what Jesus told him to do. Be like this man. Don’t let your condition dictate your actions. Jesus is a professional at looking beyond our faults and seeing our needs. #RighteousnessByFaith

(5) Read Mark 3:4; Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 22:3

Jesus then asks them about justice. They have no reply. If Jesus asked you about justice would you have a response? What would it be? Share what you would tell Jesus about love on Social Media using #MessageMag. We’d love to hear from you!

(6) Read Mark 3:5; Job 12:22; Psalm 140:12

The passion of Christ reaches a fever pitch, and the Bible describes Him as distressed and angry! Why? Because these church people refuse to acknowledge that this alienated and marginalized individual is the one who has been excluded from the privilege of accessing a good life like everyone else. There is no way this still happens in 2020, is there? If so, how? Share your thoughts with us on Social Media using #MessageMag

(7) Read Mark 3:5-6; Isaiah 61:8-9; Zechariah 7:9-10

Jesus empowers this man to lift his hand and be healed. The saving of this man’s life put Jesus’ life in danger. The same can happen for those who wish to love as Jesus did. When your love steps out in public and is exposed as justice, know that you need not worry about your life because Jesus is saving for you.

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

2020 July August cover
This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue
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“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying:

“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,  ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” 

Luke 18:1-8

Get Justice for Me – When Heaven Has Enough

A Reflection

Selected from Christ’s Object Lessons, by Ellen G. White, “Shall Not God Avenge His Own?”

The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. James the apostle pictures the greed and oppression that will prevail. He says, “Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you” James 5:1-6. This is a picture of what exists today. By every species of oppression and extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are coming up before God” (p. 170).

The world has become bold in transgression of God’s law. Because of His long forbearance, men have trampled upon His authority. They have strengthened one another in oppression and cruelty toward His heritage, saying, “How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” Psalm 73:11. But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. The time is near when they will have reached the prescribed limit. Even now they have almost exceeded the bounds of the long-suffering of God, the limits of His grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will interpose to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to repress the swellings of unrighteousness” (p. 177).

They “shall have judgment without mercy” that have “showed no mercy” (James 2:13.) Not long hence they will stand before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and souls of His heritage. They may now indulge in false accusations, they may deride those whom God has appointed to do His work, they may consign His believing ones to prison, to the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. God will reward them double for their sins” ( p. 179).

From India, from Africa, from China, from the islands of the sea, from the downtrodden millions of so-called Christian lands, the cry of human woe is ascending to God. That cry will not long be unanswered. God will cleanse the earth from it moral corruption, not by a sea of water as in Noah’s day, but by a sea of fire that cannot be quenched by any human devising”  (p. 179).

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2020 July August cover
This article is part of our 2020 July / August 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.





2020 May / June Issue

The Testimony Issue


Free online articles from the Magazine.

FEATURES

28 LAST-MINUTE MINISTRY
by Donald L. McPhaull /
If anything, COVID-19 teaches us to plan ahead.

FAVORITES

5 EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
Bucket List for the Saved

23 FUTURECAST
by Carlton P. Byrd /
DON’T MISS THE MIRACLE

24 THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
SOCIAL DISTANCE

25 THE EXPERIENCE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
WHITE AS SNOW




BUCKET LIST FOR THE SAVED

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW

I praise God that even though it looks like we may have to slog through months of economic challenge, health threats, global movements and machinations, He is still in control. We don’t know what’s on the horizon, and truthfully, stock analysts, political pundits, policy makers, and executives don’t either, yet God knows. I praise Him that even now, as the earth experiences a new quiet God’s Spirit speaks to our hearts, and agitates the subconsciousness.

IN MY HEAD. IN MY FEELINGS.

Confession truth: we have nagging questions and unfinished business, made real by the realization that we, too, could contract this virus that could wipe us out in a matter of weeks. As we grieve in acute sadness and isolation the passing of our loved ones, we, too, realize this thing could come for us. There would be no time to say good-bye, no time for getting things in order if they have not already been. Answers to those nagging questions can surely be found in the Word, in prayer and through providence. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:13.

The midnight madness, the 2 a.m. sleeplessness, and the 4 a.m., listlessness, are all opportunities to seek peace and alignment with the Almighty God.

And, if we don’t let them, there’s not one thing that will take us away from God’s loving care. (Romans 8:38, 39)

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM

Expectancy, is a state of joy, not dread. The joys and sorrows here and now, will be completely eclipsed upon the return of Jesus. Even so, come Lord, Jesus! It helps to imagine that moment. What’s on your bucket list? Here’s mine:

5. I want to reunite with loved ones. I imagine my father clasping the hands of the angel sent to wake him up and bursting forth from that box we laid him in. That “twinkling” moment to come (1 Corinthians 15:51) reminds us that whether your heart disappeared into a hospital, never to be seen again, or whether it visits the graveside every month for decades, this is a season. Like the fragrant cherry blossoms of spring, our friends and family members, asleep in their graves spring up when the light of the Son breaks forth upon the earth.

4. I want to experience the power to sustain. Don’t get me wrong. I have experienced, and am experiencing God’s day-to-day grace. Like David, I have been young, and now I’m old, and I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). The Mighty Rock flowed twice for Israel when they were thirsty; manna appeared every morning in the wilderness; ravens visited the refugee prophet Elijah; and, a poor widow’s meal and oil just would not run out as long as it was needed. I wouldn’t mind seeing what God cooks up this time.

3. I want to see the rescue of the saved. I often think of the story of how Jesus was taken to the temple as a baby (Luke 2:22-38). Levitical law required parents to present their son and an offering before the Lord. Can you imagine the scene when Joseph and Mary walked in and when the priest asked the baby’s name, they said Jesus? (Matthew 1:21). That day, the Holy Ghost revealed to two onlookers that this is it. This is Whom you’ve been waiting for, the consolation of Israel. Likewise, I wouldn’t mind seeing the plans for destruction against God’s people fail. I wouldn’t mind seeing the weapons falter, and, after all, the clear indication of God’s favor. I wouldn’t mind seeing the spine-tingling sight of a little cloud, the size of a man’s hand in the distance.

2. I want to fly away. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Thessalonians 5 says whether we wake or sleep, the saved are going to be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. Richard Branson, Elon Musk, space travel is in my future. Star Trek, Star Wars, no need for a time warp technology, because what is time in infinity?

1. I want to see Jesus. This theme of scripture, hymns, poems, and gospel songs fills the number one spot. Ironically, perhaps our wishes are moot, because the Bible already says of the return of Jesus: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen,” Revelation 1:7. But, as many songwriter’s have mused, I want to see Him.

Don’t despair now. Our ancestors used to sing,

I open my mouth unto the Lord, and I won’t turn back. I will go. I shall go, to see what the end’s going to be.




Last-Minute Ministry

The last day of 2019 was much more than the end of the year. As things have turned out, for me, it also marked the start of a countdown to my being sidelined in self-quarantine. On December 31, 2019, physicians in Wuhan, China, announced discovery of a perplexing new strain of pneumonia afflicting 41 patients with flu-like symptoms. Half listening to the news report, I worked the math out in my head. Forty-one people, in a city of 11 million, located in a nation populated by 1.4 billion. To my way of thinking, it was an unfortunate situation—overseas. So, no need to view that “breaking news” in a personal way.

However, the “Novel Coronavirus 2019” took only two months to transform my perspective. Following my trip home to Omaha for my eldest brother’s hip replacement surgery, that virus struck personally. Tommy came through surgery seemingly none the worse for wear. My three other siblings and I visited daily, submitting to screening each time. “Have you visited China recently?” “Have you been out of the country?”

Back in Southern California, I began hearing increasingly grim reports of sickness and death associated with COVID 19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Still, it wasn’t a personal issue, until my phone rang, three days later.

“Your brother, Thomas, has pneumonia and has tested positive for the coronavirus,” reported the Nebraska public health official. Suddenly, the coronavirus was very personal.

“How are you feeling? Have you had any symptoms? Fever? Cough? Shortness of breath?”

By then, the World Health Organization had made official what many had already suspected: planet earth was in the throes of a coronavirus pandemic. After talking with my own doctor, and with a packed freezer and pantry, I quarantined myself. What is happening?

Scenarios to Consider

As usual, social media tried to make sense of it all, and two religious sounding propositions stood out to me: 1. Coronavirus is one of the seven last plagues. And, 2. this COVID 19 pandemic is the “big one,” ushering in the end of the world.

Could the coronavirus be one of the seven last plagues? Of the two threads, this one seemed the easiest to address. As the first quarter of the 2020 calendar year drew to a close, the financial web site, Business Insider, reported hospitals in 200 countries were scrambling to treat 784,000 patients, while the death toll climbed past 38,000. The casualty rate was staggering. Furthermore, the pandemic’s growth rate gave every impression that a plague had been loosed on the earth.

We found our answer, but not in human theories. Our primary source was God’s Word.

Possible Plague?

The first question takes us to Revelation 16, where the seven last plagues are introduced. Revelation’s plagues remind us of the plagues immediately preceding the exodus, and a critical fact that there were two classes of people: those who chose obedience and worship of God, and those who rejected Him.

So, a question in response to the first question: When the ten plagues struck in Egypt, were they harmful to God’s people? Exodus 7-12 remind us that none of the plagues harmed God’s people. Why not? Exodus 12:13 provides insight: “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses …I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you….”

Protected by the blood of the lamb, the people of God suffered no harm. So, too, in the last days. The last plagues will not touch the people of God, because we are protected by the blood of the Lamb. Paul declared in Ephesians 1:7, “ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…”

Since, believers have fallen victim to the coronavirus, too, we may be certain that it is not one of the last plagues.

Portentous Potential

Nonetheless, that leaves question #2, is Novel Coronavirus 2019 the “big one,” that portends the imminent arrival of the end of the world?

Have we reason to believe that we are nearing that point in time, that the Bible refers to as the last days? Absolutely! Luke 17:26-30 indicates that just as it was (sinful) business-as-usual when Noah climbed onboard the ark, and when Lot followed angels out of Sodom, before the Lord returns, those same conditions will be replicated. Paul also profiles the character of those living in the last days, who will reject God’s grace and be lost (in 2 Timothy 3:1-5), and it sounds very familiar. Jesus warned of false christs, wars and rumors of wars in Matthew 24. Then, He adds the caveat, when those events take place, don’t alarm yourself, because the time of the end has not yet arrived. He goes on to point out that nations will battle, kingdoms will grapple and famines, pestilences and earthquakes will take place. Still, these are not the final events. The point is, a careful reading of God’s Word, especially Matthew chapter 24, reveals what the last days will be like.

Missing Piece of the Puzzle

We know for a certainty the last days will take place. However, don’t you find it a little curious that God offers no specificity regarding the exact date of the last days? He informs us there will be last days; but, He never says when they will be. Could it be that God withholds that information because He knows how we love to put things off? And, that being prone to last-minute ministries, thinking we still had plenty of time, we might not get to the assignment He has given us. So, we don’t have all the facts regarding the “last days.”

Instead, Jesus pointed out that neither men, nor angels know the exact time of the Lord’s return and of the last days, (Matthew 24:36). Paul echoed that the end shall arrive unannounced (1 Thessalonians 5:2). 2 Peter 3:10 is where we learn that the Lord’s promised return will take all of us by surprise, as does a thief who robs by night. And, Revelation 3:3 makes it plain that we will not know the hour our Lord comes for us.

Rather than give us the exact time of the end, because He knows how deadly our procrastination can be, God gives us our exact role in His plan of salvation. Preach the gospel, Matthew 24:14. Find the lost where they are and compel them to come to the Lord, Luke 14:23. Teach and baptize, Matthew 28:19, 20.

Personal Assignment

In verses 39, 40, 44, and 54 the promise from Jesus is that He will raise us up at the “last day.” It doesn’t get much more personal than that.

The personal nature of the coronavirus experience for me found my brother’s fever breaking at last, so that he could be discharged from the hospital. As for me, I remain symptom free, and long released from my self-quarantine. Now, it’s a matter of living, worshiping and serving until the “Last Day” arrives.

@020 May June cover of Message Magazine
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
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Don’t Miss the Miracle

It was Bryan Stevenson who said, “There is power in proximity. We have to get close to people and the communities who are at risk—and stay close.” When I reflect upon this statement and consider the current challenges our society faces, I surmise that our inability to solve problems is not because we don’t have good ideas, but rather because we don’t get close enough to them to engage in a way that makes a meaningful and lasting impact.

The Bible records in Matthew 14 that Jesus had just received the terrible news of the untimely death of his cousin and forerunner, John the Baptist. Our Savior wanted to spend some time alone to contemplate and grieve the loss of his fellow minister of the Gospel. He boarded a boat, likely on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and sailed away from the shore. Because the people heard that He was leaving, they tracked His course, and by the time He reached the other side of the lake, they had already assembled en masse to have Him speak to them, care for them and heal their sick loved ones.

Jesus wasted no time and busied Himself in the work of healing and nurturing the people. And sure enough, Jesus, the Great Physician, spoke with each one and healed them all.

By the time Jesus had finished caring for all of the people, no one wanted to leave. After all, it was a perfect day already and there was no other place they’d rather be. Moreover, the time had simply drifted away, and no one had thought about food. They were either waiting or working in Jesus’ one-day “pop-up” clinic. The disciples came to Him and urged Him to send the people away so they could purchase meals in the neighboring towns. Yet, Jesus would hear none of it, and responded with a simple challenge, “No, give them something to eat,” (See Matthew 14:16).

This challenge was incredibly impractical and totally implausible, given their location, the size of the crowd, and the resources on hand. “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish,” they replied. Jesus must have thought to Himself, “Well then, that will have to do.”

He petitioned His Heavenly Father, likely with a prayer of supplication for provision and exponential favor, and no sooner than He prayed, His request was answered and granted. The disciples watched in amazement as Jesus seemed to be breaking bread over and over again in His Hands. As He began to divide the fish and the loaves, His hands were becoming more and more full until they were overflowing.

The disciples stood in astonishment, but there was no time for spectating. They needed to shift from being caregivers, grab some aprons, and become servers. They scurried quickly to gather baskets to catch the food that fell from the Master’s overflowing hands. Requiring the people to sit down in groups of fifty, the disciples delivered this miraculous makeshift meal to the grateful throng. When the disciples finished serving, everyone had eaten until they were satisfied, but there were still twelve extra baskets of food left!

After the disciples had finished serving, they tallied the number of individuals served, and to their surprise, they counted “about 5,000 men, plus women and children,” Matthew 14:21. But that’s not the greatest miracle here!

The greatest miracle was that in the mind-blowing moment, the disciples are once again being transformed into a faith-filled mission task-force! They go from expecting that they would bear no responsibility in the feeding of the multitude to engaging and participating in the act of the miracle themselves! When God works a miracle through you, you will never be the same again!

God wants to work a miracle through us today. He’s not expecting that someone else will take on the impossible mission. He has said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26. Nothing is impossible with God. He wants to use you to do the impossible. He wants to use you to carry out His mission. He wants to use you to be His hands and feet. He wants to use you to change the world. Don’t miss the miracle! He’s going to perform it through you!

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

_________________


This article is part of our 2020 May / June  Issue
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Social Distance – Who dares to cross the line?

“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 

Matthew 8:1-4 (NLT)


A Reflection

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Thou Canst Make Me Clean”, p. 262*

Away from his friends and his kindred, the leper must bear the curse of his malady. He was obliged to publish his own calamity, to rend his garments, and sound the alarm, warning all to flee from his contaminating presence. The cry, “Unclean! unclean!” coming in mournful tones from the lonely exile, was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.

In the region of Christ’s ministry, there were many of these sufferers, and the news of His work reached them, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha the prophet, such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. They dared not expect Jesus to do for them what He had never done for any man. There was one, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet the man knew not how to reach Jesus. Debarred as he was from contact with his fellow men, how could he present himself to the Healer?

And he questioned if Christ would heal him. Would He stoop to notice one believed to be suffering under the judgment of God? Would He not, like the Pharisees, and even the physicians, pronounce a curse upon him, and warn him to flee from the haunts of men?

He thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. Though shut out from the cities, it might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads, or find Him as He was teaching outside the towns. The difficulties were great, but this was his only hope.”

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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.

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
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When you finally decide to give your life to Jesus it is a beautiful thing: the hope of things finally changing for the good. It’s an opportunity to become a new creature; the ability to say goodbye to the old you, and hello to the new you. What a wonderful experience, and what if Jesus wants to do more than clean up your life? Does making us “white as snow” mean what we think it means to God?

 

1) Read Matthew 8:1; James 1:22;
James 2:26

In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus recaps in practical terms what the law is about and how to live a godly life. Some consider it the greatest sermon ever recorded. After He concludes His sermon Jesus then comes down from the mountain and encounters someone in need. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve done or experienced something amazing about God that a test challenges? If so, share your experience with us on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 8:1-2; James 1:3-4

The person that Jesus encounters isn’t given a name. His condition names him and frames him. As a leper, his condition weighed on his life like death sentence. Leprosy relegated people to the outskirts of society. Hypothetically speaking, Jesus left church and runs into someone whose physical problems distance him—emotionally and socially—from society. Often, following Jesus puts His followers in community with people whose lives are in shambles. Is this your experience? Is your life in shambles and surrounded by people just like you? Share if you would on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read Matthew 8:2-3

The request the man has is to be made clean. He is also wondering if Jesus is willing. Why is he questioning Jesus’ willingness? Maybe he thinks that what is wrong with him somehow affects Jesus’ willingness. Do you find it difficult to believe that God will do good things for you when there is still bad in your life? Take some time to pray and meditate on this.

4) Read Matthew 8:2-3

What the man with leprosy asked for is worth looking at also. Notice that he didn’t ask to be healed. He asked to be made clean. This suggests that he was Jewish and wasn’t just looking for just the leprosy to be removed, but he wanted to return to society. He was tired of his outward challenges affecting his inward desires. Can you relate to this? Have you ever wanted to get back to who you once were? What is it that you desire to get back to? Share with us here on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read Matthew 8:3; Psalm 34:1

Jesus is willing. Take a moment and get a pen and paper. At the top of the paper write “What God was willing to do.” Then write a list of experiences where you now know that God was willing to do something on your behalf. Mine would start off with something like “God was willing to protect my family when I wasn’t around.” This is a list praises of what God was willing to do.

6) Read Matthew 8:3-4; Philippians 4:6

Jesus doesn’t ask for the Father to heal this man. Instead He commands the man to “be clean.” The Bible says that the man was cleansed at that moment. We live in world of people that often don’t allow for others to grow beyond their challenges or mistakes of yesterday. Jesus on the other hand, specializes in instantaneous transformation. The struggle is often accepting the change that He has promised in His word.

7) Read Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:9;
Psalm 103:12

The man is able to go and be declared clean. All because he ran into Jesus. People can talk about what he once was, but when they look at him, he is his own testimony of change. When Jesus washes you white as snow you can live a life where you don’t have to defend your past because God has mapped out your future.   

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
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White as Snow

When you finally decide to give your life to Jesus it is a beautiful thing: the hope of things finally changing for the good. It’s an opportunity to become a new creature; the ability to say goodbye to the old you, and hello to the new you. What a wonderful experience, and what if Jesus wants to do more than clean up your life? Does making us “white as snow” mean what we think it means to God?


1) Read Matthew 8:1; James 1:22; James 2:26

In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus recaps in practical terms what the law is about and how to live a godly life. Some consider it the greatest sermon ever recorded. After He concludes His sermon Jesus then comes down from the mountain and encounters someone in need. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve done or experienced something amazing about God that a test challenges? If so, share your experience with us on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 8:1-2; James 1:3-4

The person that Jesus encounters isn’t given a name. His condition names him and frames him. As a leper, his condition weighed on his life like death sentence. Leprosy relegated people to the outskirts of society. Hypothetically speaking, Jesus left church and runs into someone whose physical problems distance him—emotionally and socially—from society. Often, following Jesus puts His followers in community with people whose lives are in shambles. Is this your experience? Is your life in shambles and surrounded by people just like you? Share if you would on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read Matthew 8:2-3

The request the man has is to be made clean. He is also wondering if Jesus is willing. Why is he questioning Jesus’ willingness? Maybe he thinks that what is wrong with him somehow affects Jesus’ willingness. Do you find it difficult to believe that God will do good things for you when there is still bad in your life? Take some time to pray and meditate on this.

4) Read Matthew 8:2-3

What the man with leprosy asked for is worth looking at also. Notice that he didn’t ask to be healed. He asked to be made clean. This suggests that he was Jewish and wasn’t just looking for just the leprosy to be removed, but he wanted to return to society. He was tired of his outward challenges affecting his inward desires. Can you relate to this? Have you ever wanted to get back to who you once were? What is it that you desire to get back to? Share with us here on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read Matthew 8:3; Psalm 34:1

Jesus is willing. Take a moment and get a pen and paper. At the top of the paper write “What God was willing to do.” Then write a list of experiences where you now know that God was willing to do something on your behalf. Mine would start off with something like “God was willing to protect my family when I wasn’t around.” This is a list praises of what God was willing to do.

6) Read Matthew 8:3-4; Philippians 4:6

Jesus doesn’t ask for the Father to heal this man. Instead He commands the man to “be clean.” The Bible says that the man was cleansed at that moment. We live in world of people that often don’t allow for others to grow beyond their challenges or mistakes of yesterday. Jesus on the other hand, specializes in instantaneous transformation. The struggle is often accepting the change that He has promised in His word.

7) Read Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12

The man is able to go and be declared clean. All because he ran into Jesus. People can talk about what he once was, but when they look at him, he is his own testimony of change. When Jesus washes you white as snow you can live a life where you don’t have to defend your past because God has mapped out your future.

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

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“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 

Matthew 8:1-4 (NLT)

Social Distance – Who dares to cross the line?

A Reflection

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Thou Canst Make Me Clean”, p. 262*

Away from his friends and his kindred, the leper must bear the curse of his malady. He was obliged to publish his own calamity, to rend his garments, and sound the alarm, warning all to flee from his contaminating presence. The cry, “Unclean! unclean!” coming in mournful tones from the lonely exile, was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.

In the region of Christ’s ministry, there were many of these sufferers, and the news of His work reached them, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha the prophet, such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. They dared not expect Jesus to do for them what He had never done for any man. There was one, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet the man knew not how to reach Jesus. Debarred as he was from contact with his fellow men, how could he present himself to the Healer?

And he questioned if Christ would heal him. Would He stoop to notice one believed to be suffering under the judgment of God? Would He not, like the Pharisees, and even the physicians, pronounce a curse upon him, and warn him to flee from the haunts of men?

He thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. Though shut out from the cities, it might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads, or find Him as He was teaching outside the towns. The difficulties were great, but this was his only hope.”

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2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 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/onlinebooks.