Urgency of the Times

Oh Lord, wake us up. I think of the verse, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. Where is our faith? Do you know what faith is? “Faith is not the ground of our salvation, but it is the great blessing—the eye that sees, the ear that hears, the feet that run, the hand that grasps. It is the means, not the end.” In Heavenly Places, 104.

I Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” The trial of my faith—the trial of my eyes seeing, my ears hearing, my feet running, my hand grasping, be found unto praise and honor and glory, that all I do be found to give glory to God.

Trial means the conflict between truth and error. This is the foundation of trials. That everything I do—everything I see, everything I hear, everything my hand grasps is on trial. It is choosing between truth and error, choosing between the God of heaven or the god of this earth. And the path that my feet run either gives glory to God or it gives glory to the devil. In other words, are the things you are doing reflecting Christ’s character or Satan’s character. There is always one statement that sticks in my mind every time I talk about character. Let’s read it:

“The greatest insult we can inflict upon Him, is to pretend to be His disciples while manifesting the spirit of Satan in our words, our dispositions and our actions.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1160.

I remember learning a few years ago that it is the thoughts and the feelings which make up the moral character. After learning that, I began to be very careful about what I was thinking and what feelings my thoughts were generating. I even scared myself sometimes when my thoughts and feelings were not Christlike. We all know that all of our actions begin with the thoughts first. So I started training myself to think on heavenly things. It is world amazing how many worldly thoughts and feelings we can bypass if we learn to redirect our thoughts in the right away. The devil just hates that too. I came to understand more and more Philippians 2:12 which tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. To me it meant to watch my every thought and action. If it did not reflect Christ, I would immediately redirect my thoughts heavenward. Philippians 4:8 is an excellent guideline on what things to think on.

We need to pray daily for God’s grace—the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life. God’s grace makes all things possible. God’s grace lifts our hearts heavenward.

“The greatest insult we can inflict upon Christ is to pretend to be His disciples while manifesting the spirit of Satan in our words, our dispositions, and our actions.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 3, 1160.

Faith is the eye that sees, the ear that hears, the feet that run, the hand that grasps. What is your eye seeing? What is your ear listening to? What path are your feet running on? What is your hand doing? Are all of these senses reflecting your Lord or His enemy, Satan?

“Satan, who was once an honored angel in heaven, had been ambitious for the more exalted honors which God had bestowed upon His Son. He became envious of Christ, and represented to the angels, who honored him as covering cherub, that he had not the honor conferred upon him which his position demanded. He asserted that he should be exalted equal in honor with Christ. Satan obtained sympathizers. Angels in heaven joined him in his rebellion, and fell with their leader from their high and holy estate, and were therefore expelled from heaven with him.” Confrontation, 9.

This world is made up of competition. People are happy as long as things go their way, but get angry and resentful when things do not. This is not a desirable characteristic.

Our faith includes our character and whomever that character reflects. If we are representing the god of this world, Satan, then we will be smooth sailing for a little while right here because we will just blend in with everybody else and all will seem well.

Have you had any trials lately? Are you so like the world that there is no more peculiarity in you that shows that your citizenship is in heaven? Do we so blend in that nobody can tell the difference? Are we really Protestants (protestors)? Are you protesting in your own heart the devil’s way and his character? That is where everything begins. Jesus says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19. All these have to do with our characters. The greatest insult is to “pretend to be His disciples while manifesting the spirit of Satan in our words, our dispositions and our actions.” This is talking about character. He wants you and me to reflect His character in our life. That is, to reflect Him in everything our eyes see, our ears hear, where our feet run, and everything our hands grasp. That is living faith.

This is a wonderful thought! What a fellowship with our Lord and with each other when we all reflect that same wonderful heavenly character. But we must begin cultivating that character right here and right now. This is done by spending time in the school of Christ, by cultivating the soil that is in our hearts, one day at a time. We are told: “By taking one step after another, the highest ascent may be climbed and the summit of the mount may be reached at last. Do not become overwhelmed with the great amount of work you must do in your lifetime, for you are not required to do it all at once. Let every power of your being go to each day’s work, improve each precious opportunity, appreciate the helps that God gives you, and make advancement up the ladder of progress step by step. Remember that you are to live but one day at a time, that God has given you one day, and heavenly records will show how you have valued its privileges and opportunities. May you so improve every day given you of God that at last you may hear the Master say, ‘Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant.’ Matthew 25:21.” Mind, Character, and Personality, Book 2, 554.

If you try to walk on the middle of the fence, imitating the character of the god of this world and the character of Christ simultaneously, you will be most miserable. That is being double-minded. “While professing to be Christians, many have the mold of the world upon them and their affections are not set upon God.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 8, 1894. Either you are Christlike, or you are not.

Studying to prepare your character to reflect Christ’s character leads right into the Three Angels’ Messages. Revelation 14:7 says, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” We give glory to God by reflecting His character in all areas of our lives. It goes right back to faith, what our eyes see, what our ears hear, where our feet run, what our hand grasps. It is either for good or evil. It is our lives, our living from moment to moment, what we see, or choose to see, what we hear, or choose to hear, the feet that run, the hand that grasps, and to do all to the glory of God.

Have you taken the time to review and study Revelation 14 lately? How long has it been? Yes, we all think we know it all and have heard it all, but have we? Have you read or studied Matthew 22 or Matthew 25 lately? Did you know there is a relationship between Matthew 22:11 and Matthew 25:3? Have you read the chapter in Christ’s Object Lessons which will help you to understand Matthew 22:1–14? Identify the character traits in each of these studies and then you will understand why our character preparation is so important and what it has to do with our faith. Let the Holy Spirit guide you through these most wonderful studies and you will be led to the book of Revelation and to The Great Controversy. Our Lord is waiting to pour His Spirit upon you but you must come into His presence. Take time to receive the blessings. Take time to learn in the school of Christ and to cultivate Christlike characters.

The apostle says that “in the last days perilous times shall come.” II Timothy 3:1. Paul then gives a startling list of sins that will be found among those who have a form of godliness. There is need for self-examination as we may be startled at what is truly in our hearts. It is time to cultivate good habits now.

“As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 103. What are we doing with our time? Amusements, movies, and cares of this world are closing our eyes to what is coming upon this earth. We are getting drowsy.

“Christ specified the things that are dangerous to the soul. As recorded by Mark, He mentions the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things. Luke specifies the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life. These are what choke the word, the growing spiritual seed. The soul ceases to draw nourishment from Christ, and spirituality dies out of the heart.

“ ‘The cares of this world.’ No class is free from the temptation to worldly care.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 51.

It is the worldly cares that draw us away from the school of Christ where we find peace. It is only in His presence can we be saved from the whirlwind blowing around us.

Open your Bible right now and read about the sower and the seed. You will find the story in Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23; Mark 4:1–20, and Luke 8:4–15. Also read the chapter in Christ’s Object Lessons beginning at page 33. Did you know that the seed which fell on stony places was scorched when the sun came up and withered away because there was no deepness of earth and it had no root. This parable fits in with the foolish virgins in Matthew 25 and with the persons who built their house on the sand, as Jesus shared with us in Matthew 7:24–27. “Each Gospel is a supplement to the others, every prophecy an explanation of another, every truth a development of some other truth.” Education 123, 124.

There is so much that the Lord wants to show us if we will just take the time in His school. Move away from the television movies and all of the cares of this world, sit at the feet of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit guide you into all truth. Let your heart burn within you and let new life flow into those dried bones as spoken about in Ezekiel 37. Let Christ’s character flow out and influence others around you. Don’t allow the devil, the god of this world, to drown you in the cares of this world or the sleep of amusements and television. Wake up! Everybody is invited to attend the school of Christ, but only a few attend.

“The power of godliness has almost ceased to be in our churches. And why is this? The Lord is still waiting to be gracious; He has not closed the windows of heaven. We have separated ourselves from Him.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 167.

Which school are you attending? Which character are you building? Send up the prayer in Psalm 139:23, 24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Judy Hallingstad is part of our LandMarks team. She can be contacted by email at: landmarks@stepstolife.org.