I know little about guns, but I remember that, as a child at home, we would occasionally shoot a BB gun. My brother, Ronnie, was the best BB shooter, probably because he practiced more. In using some of the guns that are available today, a person has to learn to aim a little higher to hit the intended target, because of the way they project.
So often, in this life, we aim low. We are afraid, by faith, to aim high. We may ask God, every day, “Lord, send me one soul to whom I may witness.” This is a wonderful prayer, and we should continue praying it, but friends, why not say, “God, I want more than one today; let me be Your witness for dozens or maybe for hundreds”? Why not aim high? If you ask Him for one, He can give you ten. If you ask for ten, He can give you even more! Do not aim so low. Aim high, because there is something better. The Bible says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18.) Without hope, we are a most miserable people.
If I did not have the hope of tomorrow, of spending eternity with the Lord, I would feel like giving up, at times. How about you? There are times when feelings and emotions flood in and circumstances overwhelm—circumstances that may make me say, “Why continue on?” But, you know, there is a hope instilled within my heart that keeps me keeping on. Then is when I know that I need to take aim, a higher aim, because that is what God wants for my life today.
In Adventism, today, it seems that we are perishing a little bit. I know there is good here and there, and I am convinced that, to the very end of time, the Holy Spirit is promised to God’s last day church. Now, think about that. The Holy Spirit is promised to the true church until the end of time. Where the Holy Spirit is, there things will be happening. There cannot be a lifeless church, if the Holy Spirit is there. There cannot be a church in existence that could be doing what God would have it do, without the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it alone. Men can work hard; they can have meetings, but without the Spirit, their works have no effect. Their efforts are not lasting; they will not take hold.
The True Church
It is easy for us to identify the true church of today. I do not say this boastingly, because God’s Word identifies it, for anyone who wants to open His Book and read about it in Revelation 12:17: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
It is easy to identify God’s last day, true church. Will it have a name written on the outside? I doubt it. But God’s last day people will be known by specific, identifying marks, and it is much more than mere lip service. If you have been raised in Adventism, you know that it is easy to have lip service, because you continually hear the gospel, if you are consistent in your churchgoing. But it is not until it is heartfelt and the born again experience is realized that it really takes root and holds real meaning for you.
To identify, in a very real way, God’s last day church, look at those around you who are on fire for the Lord. Look at those with whom the devil is angry.
In verse 9, it says, “The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” When reading verse 17, where it says that the “dragon was wroth,” or angry, we know, from verse 9, that the dragon refers to the devil. So, the devil is angry. He is furious. It is important to understand why he is furious. The devil does not really care whether or not you pay tithe. He does not care whether or not you attend church every week. He does not care whether or not you claim, “I am a Christian.” He does not care whether or not you witness. But he really becomes angry when you get on fire—when you want to talk about Jesus, when you want to tell others, “This is what Jesus has done for me . . . .”
If a church is working, the devil will be present to disrupt it. Where there is unity, he will cause disunity. He will use whatever means he can to upset the members. He will use little things, little differences of opinion that, I say, do not amount to a hill of beans.
Where do you think the dragon wants to work, and where does he work the hardest? He works among those of whom he is afraid, those who will rightly represent Jesus Christ, not just in word but in deed.
Woman Represents Church
So, “the dragon was wroth with the woman.” Some may wonder whom the woman represents. In the Old Testament, God compares the church to a woman. “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate [woman].” Jeremiah 6:2. (See also Isaiah 54:5, 6.)
There will be only two churches at the end of time. In Revelation 12, Christ speaks of the pure woman, the pure church, the one that is like Jesus, the one without spot and wrinkle. Then, in Revelation 17, the harlot is described.
When Scripture says, “The devil was angry with the woman,” to which woman is this text referring? It would have to be God’s true church, if the devil is angry with the church. God’s true church is not a building; it is not a ministry; it is not a conference church; it is not an independent church. The woman in Revelation 12:17 represents God’s people—we say God’s church—His true and faithful people.
God talks about the pure woman; then He talks about the harlot. He talks about His people when they are serving Him, and He talks about His people when they are in apostasy. He refers to those things.
The Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God.” 11 Timothy 2:15. So, to help get this straight in your mind, read 11 Corinthians 11:2: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.” The word jealousy may denote the feeling that is felt by an apprehension of departure from fidelity on the part of those whom we love; or it may denote a fervid and glowing attachment. Paul loved the Corinthians, and he feared that they were in danger of being seduced from the simplicity of the gospel.
Do you realize that there is a difference between human jealousy and godly jealousy? Godly jealousy is a jealousy that has God’s honor at heart. (For example, see 1 Kings 19:10.) Our human jealousy is of the devil. “All selfishness comes from Satan.” Lift Him Up, 292. We must be careful to guard ourselves from such jealousy. Self is the greatest enemy any of us will ever have, because selfishness affects the choices we make.
If you ask someone, “Why did you do this?” he or she may respond, “Because I wanted to.”
“Why did you eat this?”
“Because it is what I like to eat,” he or she tells you.
It all has to do with self—even becoming jealous of someone.
Two Identifying Marks
11 Corinthians 11:2 continues: “For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.” Once again, Christ refers to His church as His people. The devil is angry at the true church, and he has gone to make war with the remnant. The remnant refers to those few who are standing for truth just before Jesus comes, those few that are faithful to the end. Inspiration is quite clear that a very small number are going to stand the test. (See Last Day Events, 180.) A lot of people will profess Christ, but when the going gets tough, most of them will get going.
With whom is Satan angry? He is angry with those who keep the Commandments of God. You may hear churches or people say, “Let us not worry about keeping God’s Ten Commandments,” or “Yes, we believe in all of the Ten Commandments, except for the fourth one.” Dear friends, we must remove that kind of thinking from our minds. The Bible is very clear that the devil is angry with those who keep all of the Commandments of God. That is why the majority of the world does not keep them.
Do you see why the majority of the world today is living by situational ethics, in which absolute standards are considered less important than the requirements of a particular situation? The standards used may vary from one situation to another, and may even contradict one another. People think that in a given situation, something is all right to do, if they need or want to do it, even though it may not normally be okay.
Satan is mad at those who keep the Commandments of God. He likes for us to profess to be commandment keepers while breaking them in thought or action, because that is damaging to the cause of Christ.
Satan is also angry with those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ. What is the testimony of Jesus Christ? Revelation 19:10 tells us very plainly that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
If a group states, “We go to church on Sabbath,” that is wonderful, but they are still missing one of the identifying marks. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, if you hear a preacher say, “Yes, we keep the commandments,” but you see him and his congregation take their Spirit of Prophecy books and throw them into the trash can, would you think they are God’s last-day, remnant church? How may I be so bold? Because the Bible is so bold as to say that the remnant has these two identifying marks. That is clear for us today. It is easy to identify the true church.
What Motivates You?
What are some of the things that motivate you in this life? What, day by day, are some of the things that motivate you to do what you do? What are some of the things that motivate you to be a Christian? There are many Christians who are not motivated. There are many people who are not motivated to do anything. They just want to sit and do nothing or fill their minds with rubbish. A born again Christian will be a motivated individual. If we are not motivated, someone needs to encourage us to become motivated.
Grandpa Shelton wanted to know how motivated my brothers and I were when he gave us two shovels, on a day when we would rather have been out in the pond swimming, and put us in the grain bin to shovel corn. We were not too motivated, young as we were, to be in that old, windowless, hot barn, shoveling corn. But as Christians, we have to be motivated, no matter what tasks we are given.
One Step at a Time
One time, I was clearing glass and tin cans from under a house. In earlier years, someone must have used that spot as his or her trash disposal dump. As I shoveled and removed the trash, it was not long before I could almost stand up underneath the floor joists. But I began to get discouraged, because it seemed that the more I shoveled, the more trash there was. I knew, when I filled the five-gallon bucket and emptied it, that I was removing something, but there seemed to be more trash there. I said, “Something has got to motivate me here. I am getting a little discouraged.” Then a simple thought came to me: “If I take this one piece of glass, shovel it into the bucket, and then go empty the bucket, that piece of glass will not be here when I return.” When I dumped it out onto the trash pile, it was not coming back to be cleared again. I needed to realize that every time I removed a bucketful, it was one less bucketful I would have to take, and eventually the job would be completed. It would be done right.
That is the way it is in everything we do. We need to take each job, each challenge, one step at a time. It is that way even in our Christian growth. It is one step at a time, not a dozen steps at a time.
What motivates us in the spiritual realm of things? Maybe some of you are thinking that you do not really need to be motivated. But there is not a single person who, at times, does not need to be motivated. You will have a dirty house if you are not motivated, but perhaps your motivation to clean your house comes from knowing that you may at any time have unexpected guests. Most of you keep your house clean and your dishes washed, because you are motivated. No one has to tell you to do that. But when children are young, a lot of times the parents have to motivate them to complete their chores.
The success in this life and in the life to come depends on being motivated, with a definite aim in mind. Friends, where do you want to spend eternity? What, in this life, would you like to see accomplished for God while you are here? Are you aiming low when you should be aiming high? When you are aiming low, friend, you are aiming for hell. You have to aim high, because God is high and uplifting. He wants to do great things for you and for me.
Another question to consider is, What is the drawing power that has brought you to the present point in your life? Something has worked in every one of our lives to bring us to where we are today, but we are not to stay where we are now. God does not want us to become stale and stagnant, because then we are not motivated to go on or to go higher or to exercise more faith. God has another purpose in mind for each of us.
What is the drawing power in our lives? The power we each need in our lives is described in 11 Timothy 3:10: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.”
Do you fully know the doctrine? Perhaps you have been cautioned to avoid attending a certain church or listening to a certain speaker, because all they teach is doctrine. We need doctrine! Doctrine is simply a teaching. If we did not have teaching, everyone would believe whatever they wished. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and we all need that spiritual discernment, that doctrine. Those who do not have spiritual discernment easily fall for erroneous teachings, simply because they do not compare “line upon line.” (Isaiah 28:10.)
God wants us to have good, sound doctrine, because there is truth. There is a truth about heaven and hell. There is a truth about which day should be held sacred and upon which we are to worship. There is a truth about the sanctuary. There is a truth about what happens when we die. There is a truth about whether or not there is a rapture. It makes a difference. There is a truth about whether or not the plagues are going to fall. There is a truth about probation, which is soon to close . . . and then what? These are truths that God has put in His Word. There is a truth that there is an enemy and that he is alive and well, working among the last day people who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.
If you wonder why people treat you like they sometimes do and why it seems as though everything you do goes wrong, maybe it is because the enemy has targeted you as someone he must discourage and try to destroy. He has realized that you love Jesus, and he is attempting to stop your witness. What is your manner of life, your purpose? We each have a purpose.
I keep a quote from Ellen White’s writings in my Bible, and I read it often; I am trying to learn from it. You may wonder why I have not yet learned it, if I read it often. Our problem is that we read something once, and we think we have learned it. But have we experienced it? Has it made a difference in our lives? We can read our Bibles from Genesis to Revelation, but what is the purpose? Are the truths we read changing our lives? We have to read with a purpose in mind.
The quote from which I am trying to learn is this:
“There is a counterfeit Christianity in the world as well as a genuine Christianity. The true spirit of the man is manifested by the way in which he deals with his fellow man.” The Upward Look, 66.
There is a true Christianity and there is a false Christianity, and we can tell them apart by how we treat our fellow man. Why? Because the motives are different.
Do our motives play a part? “Every action derives its quality from the motive which prompts it, and if the motives are not high, and pure, and unselfish, the mind and character will never become well balanced.” The Youth’s Instructor, April 7, 1898. Motives. Why do you do what you do?
Work From Principle
Sometimes, when you do not feel like doing what you know to be right, what do you do? Do you remember the motto, “Work from principle”? If you do not feel spiritual in the morning when you wake up, let principle motivate you; get your Bible and read it. If you do not really feel like praying, let principle motivate you, and begin praying. If you are tempted to skip church on Sabbath morning, let principle motivate you. I tell you, it works for hundreds and thousands.
Everything we do must be supported by high, pure, and unselfish motives. Do not do something just because your best friend wants you to do it, or your family pressures you to do it. Do it because, from the time you have devoted to Bible study and prayer, you really feel motivated to action. You really desire to do it.
If you want to be like Jesus, you need to daily behold the Lamb of God. Counterfeit Christians will not answer God’s call, when He calls them into action. I challenge you to remember that the true spirit of man is manifested by the way in which he treats his fellow man. What will you see in every person you meet in the coming days? Are you going to see the color of the skin? Are you going to muse whether they are wealthy or poor? Will you see a soul for whom Christ died—one whom He loves just as much as He loves you?
When we see each person as an individual whom Jesus loves, that person becomes valuable to us. That is what He requires of us. Unless we have the same kind of love for others that Jesus has in His heart for each of us, heaven will never be our home. Remember, every person you see is a person for whom Christ died; they are valuable. The world may not value them, but you and I should, as a child of God. If we do this, we will be motivated to labor and help where we can in times of need. We need to come to a point in our lives where we never meet a person whom we do not want to see in heaven.
May God help us to aim high—higher than we have ever before imagined!
Pastor Kenny Shelton is speaker for the television ministry of Behold the Lamb in Herrin, Illinois. He may be contacted by e-mail at: BTLM@GTE.net, or by telephone at: 1-800-238-2856.