God: You’re Not the Boss of Me

touch of God

Broaden your horizons. Actually trust God to do as He sees fit.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, November 13, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 12

People are funny sometimes. I don’t mean, like, “Ha-ha” funny. I mean we can be absurd at times. Can you imagine standing before the King of the universe and writing Him a prescription as though He’s ailing and in need of your expert advice?

Oftentimes, we tell God how things should run. We tell Him how the Sabbath should be kept (or not). We tell Him that we need a certain car, and in how many days. We tell Him we must have a spouse by the time we are age [fill-in the blank]. We tell Him that if He will perform this certain deed in our lives, then we will serve Him (as though we are being so gracious to honor Him with our worship). This is insane! He is so patient with us. I cannot imagine how He must view enfeebled, puny little humans who can barely decide what to eat in the morning, much less seek to offer Him our “brilliant” advice.

I’d like for you to try something today: Try to speak to God as though He is as worthy as He really is. Tell Him how much you love Him and realize that you have been missing the mark in certain areas of your life. Although it is perfectly fine to be specific in our praying, experiment with something like this: “Lord, I know you love it when we bring our petitions to you. I know you welcome our thoughts and specific requests, but today I’d like to ask you to do for me whatever you have in mind. I am curious to know what that is in every area of my life. I trust you, sir. I trust you to manifest your will for me, because you want me to seek your face. I really don’t even know what to expect here, Lord. But, please, will you let me know that you are answering this prayer today?” This is going to be difficult for some, because you may think I am writing you a prescription too. Really, I am simply encouraging all of us to broaden our horizons of trust. Become as little children and go out with this sort of prayer on your lips knowing that God will do everything He wants to do in your life today, whatever that is. Try it out in faith and see how the Holy Spirit impresses you. This should be fun.—




Drop the Heavy Load

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Don’t fret or lose hope, but continue in God’s strength.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 11

There are times when even the most faithful among us need a word of encouragement. When you really think about it, we have been through a lot. We were born in sin, and from the moment our little faces appeared from our mother’s womb, we have fought an uphill battle. We struggle against both inherited, and cultivated tendencies toward evil. Once we have been delivered from sin and have begun to experience the newness of life, our faith gets tested in the crucible. But, we are not alone. Our Savior remains ever close, as long as we wish to continue in His strength.

Yet, the years of intense struggle may cause us to temporarily lose focus. We may not entirely forget the goodness of God in our lives, but during the most difficult trials, we might entertain doubt. It is in those times that we must determine to cling to our God even more.

We must remember the times the Lord impressed us with His love.

We must remember the times our hearts burned within us as we heard His words. We must, in our darkest moments, open our eyes and see the ways in which God is continuing to be faithful in our lives. While it is natural for us to doubt, on occasion, we must not be satisfied to embrace those doubts. God has been too good to us. As we pass through those dark corridors, we can be of encouragement to others. They can see our troubles and note our resolve to follow the Lord without wavering. Yes, we can be witnesses, even when we feel that we cannot handle another moment of difficulty.

Let today be the best day of your life, friends. Renew your commitment to work with God in whatever way He decides. As we accept this calling, the calling of putting His will before our own, our burdens become lighter. Why? Our burdens will become lighter because it will be no more us who carry them, but God. He promises us an uneven exchange—our burdens for His. And we know, He is well able to bear our burdens. Things will not always be easy, but with God, all things (good and holy) are possible.




Out of Harm’s Way

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Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 10
If you were walking across the street while texting as so many do these days, and a large dump truck approached your intersection without your notice, would you want me to tell you about it, or keep it a secret? What if the text you were just about to send was of utmost importance to you? Would you see it as a disturbance or inconvenience if I ran toward you, shouting and flailing my arms to alert you to imminent danger? What if you still did not notice and I abruptly pulled you to safety, and your phone fell facedown into a puddle of water? Would you be angry with me as the speeding truck just barely missed you and we fell breathless to the ground?

Amazingly, there are many in our world who find it offensive when God’s people attempt to pull them to spiritual safety. They are so uptight that no matter the dangers being averted, or the noble intentions of the one who had their best interest at heart, they find fault with their rescuer. Whatever is so engrossing at the moment of their rescue attempt seems to be of much more importance than their own safety. Yet, God’s people are commissioned to be on the lookout for those facing looming danger. This is often a thankless work. Many times the only reward is the satisfaction of knowing God is pleased.

Whether you are among God’s rescuers or those whom they have helped, give thanks. Give thanks for the fact that God is willing to stop at nothing to provide a way of escape from eternal death.

 

 

Give thanks for the fact that Jesus’ life was not too precious to Him to give in place of yours. Give thanks that God does not see preserving your soul, at all cost, as an inconvenience.

 

The truth is, that all, at some point, need to be delivered. Therefore, all have good reason to give thanks. Whenever anyone reaches out to you with a hand of good will, give thanks to God and bless them with your utmost appreciation. Amen.




Jesus Specializes in Hopeless Cases

Live
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, November 10, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 9

Cheer up! There is no confessed sin for which we cannot be forgiven. There are no soul shackles Jesus cannot break if we submit our wills to Him.

Not even the half has been told of the number of people Jesus healed during His earthly ministry. Blind people received their sight. Paralyzed people were released and leaped with joy, praising God. Sick children were raised up to the vigor of life. And those with other debilitating conditions that destroyed their peace were completely made well. All of this was done so that the poor sufferers, along with generations of people would understand the power of God to heal our awful sin diseases.

Oftentimes, we just don’t get it. God wants to do marvelous things in our lives that would demonstrate to the world that “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25). As a result, some lay paralyzed on our beds of affliction or grope about in darkness, blinded to the blessing that stands directly before us.

Fortunately for us, Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18). If there ever was a time we could use an encouraging word, it is now. Jesus has never broken a promise! The same God who opened the blind eyes of a man, raised up a tragically sick child, and healed the hopelessly hemorrhaging woman, stands ready to obliterate any sin sickness that binds you. Jesus specializes in giving hope to the hopeless and mending the broken. We need simply to give Him our tiny little faith and He will do wondrous things in our lives to bring eternal lie.




Hands-on Jesus

touch of God

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, November 9, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 8

Jesus Needs No Hazmat Suit


Jesus never had a problem being hands-on! Were I ignorant of the power of God, I might have said that Jesus had no problem getting His hands dirty as He healed the brokenhearted and diseased. But, there is a crucial truth we must all consider when thinking of Jesus’ ministry to our deepest woes: Though He loves to come close and apply His healing touch, He ever remains clean and undefiled. We are the ones who change in the process, not Him. Jesus never had a problem being hands-on.

As you may have read before, lepers were among the greatest outcast in Jewish society. Not only were they a heinous sight to behold, they were also very contagious. As they moved from place-to-place, on their way to quarantine, the had to announce themselves by saying, “Unclean! Unclean!” They remained in quarantine with others so infected until they died. It was sort of like presenting at an airport with a fever of 105 degrees, arriving from a country purported to be experiencing an Ebola epidemic.

Nobody in their right minds would come near to a leper. But Jesus touched lepers with His bare hands and without a hazmat suit. He did not have to pass through a decontamination unit or destroy His clothing after coming into contact with these suffering ones. No! When He touched them, they were changed, not Him. When He commanded that they be healed, they were healed. When He spoke life into them, death had to flee. And to validate their absolute healing, the former lepers would present themselves to the same priests who declared them unclean.

What does that have to do with me—with you, today? Well, the Bible equates leprosy and disease with sin. All are deadly. Jesus has a habit and proven track record of delivering people from our infirmities. He has opened many blind eyes. He has delivered many from bondage to devils. He has relieved all sorts of suffering. And, He is still in the business of deliverance today. More than these maladies of the body and mind, Jesus heals our sin sicknesses. When we come into faith contact with Jesus, He tenderly looks into our lives and speaks healing. When He touches us, we are changed, not Him.

Do you feel unclean at times, dear friend? Do you feel unclean as you right now? Is there some habit that drives a wedge between you and eternal life? This is your day of blessing! Call on the Lord. Ask Him to have mercy upon you and give you the repentance of which you are so in need. Believe that you receive it, and it shall be done unto you. Amen.

I would like to give you a free 12-step Bible study based upon my early experiences with the book, Steps to Christ, by Ellen G. White. This simple study booklet will guide you through 12 basic spiritual principles that will change your life forever. Here is the link (it is free only until November 12, 2014): http://ow.ly/E1n8B —L. David Harris

Today’s Reading in Divers Tongues:
1.) Hindi – http://www.bible.is/HNDWTC/Matt/8/D
2.) Arabic – http://www.bible.is/SHUABT/Matt/8/D




A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

Thoughts in Worship
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, November 8, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 7

Upon close examination, fruit shows from what tree it comes. Obviously, apples are not products of mango trees. Cashews are not products of eggfruit trees. Cherries are not products of rambutan trees. When we see a fruit, we can become immediately aware of its origin. This message has been sponsored by…Nature.

I wonder why we are so keenly aware of the obvious in nature, but not as much in the things of the Spirit. Like, why are we sometimes confused about condemning people to hell for having babies out of wedlock, but give ourselves a free pass into heaven while cherishing pride? Or, why do we sometimes think that our love is not suspect when we do things to others that we would loathe to have done to us? This is curious, and hypocritical. But, then again, there are many among us who are false prophets. They look like gentle sheep on the outside, but their sharp teeth are secretly awaiting an opportunity to rip others limb-from-limb. By our fruits shall we all be known. If we live the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we have been born of the Spirit. However, if we live the rotting fruits of wickedness, well, you know…

There is great news! God loves us much more than even the most loving father. He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, than a great father is to give good gifts to his children. So, our encouragement for today is to keep asking; keep seeking; and keep knocking. Everyone who pursues after God’s heart, will find Him. And, in finding Him, we are “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” Philippians 1:11. That is a promise.

Happy Sabbath from all of us here at Message!




Intimate Partner Violence

Varied causes and the increasing gender equality in perpetrators may surprise you.

The elevator video was shocking: Janay Palmer, out cold, and her boyfriend, NFL running back Ray Rice, dragging her out like yesterday’s trash. How is it that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 24 people per minute—more than12 million per year—are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, and what can be done about it? Alabama therapist and counselor Kenny Tannehill has worked for 15 years with male perpetrators of domestic violence, and he says abusive behavior is learned.

“Male abusers tend to be individuals who have absorbed—either through media images or family history—an ideology of inequality. These men often believe that a man is superior to a woman, and that a man’s role in the relationship with his wife or significant other is asymmetrical—he is the authority over her. A problem arises, however, if she ever questions his authority, or if he perceives that she is doing so,” says Tannehill.

Yet, contrary to what we may think of the stereotypical “abuser,” even big, burly men like Ray Rice have feelings. Their violent behavior may not come from a love of conflict, but from a deep-seated fear that they’re really not powerful. It is then, in response to their own sense of weakness that they act out. Through mental and physical manipulation of their loved ones, they may attempt to balance out their own lack of emotional equilibrium.

Tannehill says that one prominent characteristic of male abusers is that they witnessed violence as a child. They learn how to handle conflict from their dysfunctional upbringing, which results in more dysfunction when the child becomes a man. Impressions made upon him when he is young become the abuser’s default mechanism when faced with a challenge or perceived threat—particularly in his personal relationships—as an adult. If he does not know what a healthy relationship looks like, he may be destined to repeat the bad behaviors that he witnessed growing up. Things aren’t always what they seem.

However, there’s yet another dimension to this problem of intimate partner violence, or IPV, that is far less apparent and not often discussed. Ray Rice was raised by a single mom, and from what we know of his story, he did not witness domestic violence in his home. It would be a mistake, then, to pretend that there are cookie-cutter causes of aggressive behavior. In the full video of Ray Rice and Janay Palmer, she is seen spitting at and hitting him before the infamous punch. How do we reconcile that with our ideas about victims and abusers? Certainly Rice had the strength advantage, and certainly what he did was wrong. What is not certain, however, is whether Palmer should be excused for her behavior.

Aggression does not come out of nowhere, says Tannehill. There are usually patterns of behavior that lead up to the actual display of violence. Thus, in the case of Ray Rice, Tannehill suspects that even if there was no physical violence between the couple before, there was likely some pattern of abuse prior to the elevator incident. Perhaps the way to reverse the escalating culture of violence is to have a more honest discussion of all of its causes. This consideration is not to excuse Rice’s violent act—we can all agree that because of his strength advantage, it was his job to show restraint. Furthermore, his cavalier attitude after the incident speaks volumes about his guilt, but that story has already been told.

The untold story tracks aggression from women to men, a dynamic that illuminates the complexity of intimate partner violence, and is difficult to discuss in light of the elevator video. A 2009 story in The Huffington Post reports that although “two thirds of domestic violence injuries were suffered by women,” multiple studies have found that women initiate violence against their partners more than men do. In certain cases of intimate partner violence, “a woman’s violence against her man was as predictive of his violence to her as his own history of violence.” *These studies also show that in these cases when a woman refrains from attack, no violence occurs.

“It starts with how we socialize our young men and young women” says clinical psychologist Danella Knight. “We typically don’t broach the issue [of violence] until it’s an issue.” We tell our boys to “suck it up” and be “men” without fully defining what that means. We laugh off boys’ bad behavior with pat clichés—“boys will be boys”—then wonder why they do not make better choices. We tell boys not to hit girls, but do we tell girls the same thing? These are not easy questions to answer with the amber glow of the television screen beaming down the horrid, endlessly looping elevator video. But now that Ray Rice’s story has raised the issue of domestic violence, it’s time we have some honest discussions about men and women’s complicity in this troublesome, trending culture of violence.

*www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-sacks/researcher-says-womens-in_b_222746.html

Signs of destructive domestic violence or intimate partner violence goes both ways:

• calls you names, insults you, or puts you down

• prevents you from going to work or school

• stops you from seeing family members or friends

• tries to control how you spend money, where you go, or what you wear

• acts jealous or possessive, or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful

• gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs

• threatens you with violence or a weapon

• hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes, or otherwise hurts you, your children, or your pets

• forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will

• blames you for his or her violent behavior, or tells you that you deserve it

www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence-against-men/art-20045149




Course Correction Now

Although it is set in hell, this tale is about the here and now.


Luke 16:19-31

The rich man and Lazarus is one of the most disturbing parables Jesus shares. Jesus does not mention hell very much, so when He mentions someone burning in hell for eternity, it merits our attention. And boy, does He have it! All we can think is I do not want that to be me. However, it is not this man’s situation, or his location, that Jesus intends to be our takeaway from this story. He has something greater in mind.

The Pharisees have been heckling Jesus for spending time with the sinners of society, namely tax collectors. So Jesus responds by making the case that children of God should, like the Father, have a heart for the lost, and that means using their resources to help them. He then mentions that money, to the unconverted, is like a taskmaster. God’s children must determine if they will serve it or God.  The Pharisees are incensed! They have a lot of money, and they love it dearly. But Jesus lets them know they need to choose. Luke 16:15: “Then he said to them, ‘You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God’ ” (NLT).* God will judge us, not by what we do or what we have, but by who we are.

Jesus illustrates it this way: A rich man, with fine clothing and a huge home, lived very well. Outside of his home was a beggar named Lazarus. He was so hungry that he would have gladly eaten with the dogs. Ironically, those dogs slowly ate him by licking his sores, a terrible picture.

But in Jesus’ story the wrong man has a name.

We use the phrase “making a name” to mean to develop a reputation for one’s self. The name a person makes may be good or bad, but it constitutes how that person is known. An affluent man would normally be the one who has made such a name. A poor beggar would likely be identified as nobody, if he were referred to at all. Surely the rich man’s neighbors were well acquainted with him and called his name often. They probably placed his name on invitations as well as awards and plaques. Yet Jesus does not mention his name.

As this rich and successful man goes nameless, the poor and homeless beggar is referred to by name. Jesus turns our human conventions on their heads. While the affluent and successful have a name many humans call, there is no such automatic recognition in heaven. In God’s eyes those obsessed with wealth and accomplishments have already made a name for themselves on the earth. However, those who belong to the kingdom of God have a name written in heaven.

The poor man’s name, Lazarus, means “God will help” or “assistance of God.” His only recourse is to depend upon the help of God. This is the reputation the poor man has made for himself in heaven. So God has a place of rest and comfort prepared for him.

The rich man spent his life depending on his own ingenuity and wealth. He had not thought to rely on God, because he was doing a great job on his own. So he became a servant of money, believing he could care for himself. While material wealth can help people establish cozy lives in the present, there is nothing money can do for us in the life to come. The poor man went to the place his “Help” prepared for him, and the rich man went to the place prepared for those who find their help elsewhere.

Jesus is not telling this parable in order to train our eyes on the hereafter, but to engage our hands and feet in the now. No doubt most of the Pharisees identified with the rich man in this parable, and saw themselves in the man doomed. Jesus’ intent is to invite them, and us, to abandon pride and the worship of wealth, and to love the people God loves. Rather than allow us to carry on with our lives in ignorance, Jesus shares this truth to offer us an opportunity for course correction.

While it is too late for the man in the story, the fact that we can hear and understand the parable means we still have a chance. Jesus wants to shed light on the true condition of our hearts so that we can depend on Him to make our poisonous hearts like His. The telling of this story is an act of grace. It means that God doesn’t want to see us experience the natural end that comes to those who do not depend on Him. He wants us to make a new start together. It is not too late.

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*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Lola RENEE MOORE is a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey. She is a lover of music and literature, and enjoys extreme sports. She resides in northwest Florida, where she pastors the Maranatha and Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist churches in Panama City and Greenwood, Florida, respectively.


They are everywhere. In the streets, buses, and gas stations. They frequent the highways and service streets. You can spot them among the crowds in a congested city. The churches are like magnets for them. Have you ever passed by someone who was homeless? I have. On my way to my climate-controlled, cushioned, comfortable accommodations I am guilty of not sparing much care for the needy. Maybe I have become numb to those who are in need of assistance or, specifically, I have been blinded by my own personal deposit of God’s blessings and have become oblivious. Is there any counsel on this? Let us look to a parable Jesus told about a man who needed help.


Day 1 -Read Luke 1:1-4

Read Luke 1:1-4.

We find this parable in the letter that Luke wrote to a man named Theophilus. Theophilus is believed to have been a wealthy ranking Roman official, and Luke is writing to him to show that Jesus is a friend to sinners and outcasts. If you were to skim the book/letter of Luke, you would notice that he, more than any other author, writes about Jesus’ interactions with women, Samaritans, and those who are unclean. Can you look at your life and honestly say that you are intentional about seeking out those who are categorized as outcasts? Do you see yourself as an outcast? We here at Message would like to hear your thoughts via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,  or
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.


Day 2 -Read Luke 16:19

Read Luke 16:19.

It had been awhile since I read this parable, and as soon as I read the first verse, my attention was arrested. In the time of Jesus, to get something such as purple clothes was a tall and expensive task. It continues by saying that he lived in luxury every day. He was not just getting by—he was living in grandeur. I was tempted to judge, but if we were to take an inventory of all that is around us, we might find that in reality we need for nothing. I challenge you to sit down and write out a list of all that you need at this very moment. After you’re finished, read Matthew 6:31-34 and see if you can identify what God’s absolute promise of provision is.


Day 3 -Read Luke 16:20

Read Luke 16:20.

While the rich man is in the midst of his plush lifestyle, Lazarus is outside suffering beyond belief. Not only is he poor, but he is in constant physical pain. I have had to ask myself a very specific question when I read this: Do I care about the pain of those who are poor? Many of us on many occasions have given change or food to those less fortunate. Have we been compassionate enough to inquire about the physical and emotional pains that they have gone through? This next directive is more involved than usual. Find another person who simply wants to help someone less fortunate and take them to get something to eat. Sit down and get to know them. I bet you’ll be amazed. We here at Message would like to hear about your experience via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, or
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.

Day 4 -Read Luke 16:21

Read Luke 16:21.

Did you know there is a high possibility you are living in excess? I do not know your personal situation, but I’ll bet there is some stuff that you do not use that someone would be ecstatic to have. Pray at this moment, and see if God leads you to give some of your possessions away. If so, we would like to hear about your experience via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, or
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.


Day 5 -Read Luke 16:22-25

Read Luke 16:22-25.

What catches God’s attention? What makes His heart flutter? We find that Lazarus is looking for relief, but Abraham says the rich man experienced his “good things” on earth. Is it possible that God is looking for people who are willing to forfeit their comfort now for an eternal comfort later? Read the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-30. Focus on verses 29 and 30. We would like to hear about your experience via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, or
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.


Day 6 -Read Luke 16:27-31

Read Luke 16:27-31.

When the rich man realizes that there is no hope for him, he thinks about his family. Many have traveled the way the world has taught us as the way to a “good life.” Went to school, got a good education in order to get a good job, in order to get a good house, and to support a good family. There is nothing wrong with this picture. It is a gift of God. But has His blessing of shelter and security forged a strand of uninterest in helping those less fortunate? If the culture of love is not engrained early, it will be too late to change. I challenge you to sit your family down and talk to them about serving those less fortunate together. If you want help praying for your family, contact us here at Message. We will pray with you through this.

Day 7 - Wrap Up

Go to YouTube and listen to the Erica Campbell song “Help,” featuring Lecrae


 

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*Scriptures quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Rashad Burden is an associate pastor for youth at the Buckhead Fellowship chruch in Buckhead, Georgia.

 


 




Christ’s True Bride

Almost everyone thinks about getting married at some point in time. The wedding may be simple, with just two people and a magistrate, or elaborate, with an entire village celebrating over several days. It may involve ancient customs or follow new fashions.  The couple may jump over a broom or wear “something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue.”  The couple may repeat vows suggested by the pastor or marriage officer, or recite vows unique and specific that they have composed themselves.

In the annals of biblical history, one of the most romantic and idyllic love stories captures the experience of Isaac and Rebekah.  In Genesis 24 we learn how Isaac obtained a wife.  Eliezer, Abraham’s intelligent, obedient, and praying servant, journeyed to find a wife for Abraham’s son. Eliezer sought a sign from God to direct his choice, and this signal was confirmed in Rebekah, who came to draw water, affording Eliezer with the answer to his prayer and request.

Genesis 24:16 describes Rebekah as “fair to look upon” (KJV).  There was no trace of depravity in her. Her best qualities came out in the simple yet heartwarming narrative describing her interaction with Eliezer, her service to him, and her willingness to believe and act upon all he had told her. She proved to be modest, meek, transparent, open, kind, energetic, faithful, gracious, and physically charming. When the gifts and the good things Eliezer said of his master secured the favor of Rebekah’s family, they gave their consent to the proposed marriage. And Rebekah responded to the question Christ's True Bride“Wilt thou go with this man?” with a firm and prompt “I will go” (Genesis 24:58, KJV).

Rebekah’s eager reply to meet her future bridegroom with “I will go” serves as a beneficial example for each of us today. When our Lord and Savior, Jesus, extends the invitation “Will you follow Me?” and when our hearts respond to such an appeal, “Yes, Lord I will go.  I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest,” we receive a rich blessing indeed.

God’s true church is described as a woman, a pure woman, the bride of Christ (see Jeremiah 6:2; Ephesians 5:22-35).  Just as Isaac desired to unite with his bride, Rebekah, God desires to unite with His bride, His true church.  Like Rebekah, our response should be “Yes, I will go.”

When you said “I do” to Him, Bride did you really mean it? Seven question s to ask yourself.

Yet with so many diverse churches and denominations today, who is God’s true bride (church) in these final days of earth’s history?  The Bible outlines seven characteristics of God’s true bride, His church, and they are as follows:

1. Its teachings are in full harmony with the Bible. (Isaiah 8:20).

2. It came into existence after 1798 and began to form in the early 1840s (Revelation 12:6, 14).

3. It keeps the Ten Commandments, including the fourth—God’s holy seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) (Revelation 12:17).

4. It has the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy  (Revelation 12:17; 19:10).

5. It is a worldwide missionary church, taking the gospel to the entire world  (Mark 16:15).

6. It teaches Jesus’ final three-point message of Revelation 14:6-12: (1) “fear God and worship Him”; (2) Babylon is fallen”; and (3) do not receive the mark of the beast.

7. It teaches that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ  (Acts 4:12).

With so many diverse churches and denominations today, who is God’s true bride (church) in these final days of earth’s history?

When the aforementioned characteristics are met in a church, Christ’s true followers should unite with Him through His church (bride).  We become a member of Christ’s true church (bride) through baptism.  “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13, KJV).

Ultimately, God desires to be in covenant relationship with His people here on earth, and in the coming “earth made new.”  In fact, God uses the model of a bride adorned for her husband to describe the beauty and joy of the imminent endless relationship between God and His people (Revelation 21:1-4).  May we all be a part of this grand union receiving abundant blessings throughout eternity. 




Are We to Pray Without Speaking?

Her counsel regarding prayer stands out as most curious. She offered her wisdom during her testimony at midweek prayer meeting: “But, when you pray, there are some prayer requests you should never speak out loud; that way the devil can’t counterfeit a blessing.”

It sounded like a defensive prayer system designed to frustrate Satan’s efforts, through counterfeit blessings, to overthrow God’s will to bless His people. As I listened, questions sprang to mind. Does the threat of demonic counterfeiting mean we should avoid praying aloud? Is God powerless to prevent Satan’s intrusive counterfeiting?  And is the only safe prayer a silent prayer?

We know that prayer is a vital component of our relationship with our heavenly Father. As He cleansed the Temple, Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer: “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). We know, too, that God does not need us to verbalize our petitions. He knows our thoughts, because He can read our hearts. Psalm 44:21 states, “For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Jesus proclaimed in Luke 16:15, “God knows your hearts.” Peter’s testimony in Acts 15:8 tells us, “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit.” 

But to keep the devil out of the Father’s business is it necessary to encrypt our prayers with silence? A relevant question, given Paul’s declaration in Romans 8:26: “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us.”

The thought of encrypting prayers to prevent demonic tampering brings to mind the scientific observations of Isaac Newton. Remember, Newton stated, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”newtons cradle Maybe this is why some “pray without speaking,” hoping to check Satan in his attempt to subvert of the will of God. However, for a believer, Newton’s third law of motion has no bearing on the nature of our prayers. In fact, although Mr. Newton’s findings are valid for the physical sciences, in the spiritual realm they have no value.

Imagine, if you will, a set of circumstances in which a child of God prays and Lucifer takes an action to counterfeit an answer to that prayer. God sees what the devil is doing, but He’s powerless to fully intervene. Indeed, the best God could offer would be an equal and opposite reaction. The prospects of such a scenario should chill the heart of every believer. Think about it. If the best our heavenly Father could do in the face of demonic forces would be to offer an equal and opposite reaction, there would be no prospects, ever, for us to achieve any victories in the battle with satanic forces. The best we could hope for would be a tie every time righteousness confronted wickedness.

Embracing the concept that we need to cloak our prayers in silence supports the devil’s efforts to reduce an all-powerfull God to being merely a satanic peer. 

There is a clear sanctified response to such teaching: Our God has no equals! He declares it in Isaiah 45:5: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” The Lord God has no colleagues, no contemporaries. He alone is God!

Questions of praying without speaking come down to power. Do we pray silently because the Lord is powerless to prevent the devil’s subversion of heaven’s blessings? Does God have the power to short-circuit the evil one’s efforts to bamboozle humanity with faux blessings? And if God is able to offer only an equal and opposite reaction, does He have to sit by helplessly as Satan abuses us?

Exposing the bogus nature of such Luciferian claims requires only that we look to Scripture. Job 5:9 tells us that “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” In 2 Chronicles 20:6 we read: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven . . . and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you?” The apostles also testify of God’s mighty power. In Ephesians 1:19 Paul writes: “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” And we see declared in Revelation 15:8: “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power.”

Finally, while encouraging prayer, Jesus never mentioned a need to pray without speaking. He does remind us in John 14:13 that “whatever you ask in My name, that I will do.” And in John 16:23 we find this precious promise: “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” Praying aloud becomes a concern only as we offer confessions of sin that might be overheard by family or friends. Otherwise, no one needs to fear praying aloud. We can pray in the name of Jesus with confidence, because we know that all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth (see Matthew 28:18).  Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing remains valid. We should pray early and often, without any fear of the devil and possible faux blessings. We simply need to pray. Whether you choose to pray aloud or only in your heart is up to you.