Neither the Old nor the New Testament predicts that the world will be converted in the last days. In fact, it predicts just the opposite, that almost all the world will worship the antichrist. Only a small group of people, a remnant in comparison to the world’s population, will keep God’s commandments in the last days.

Jesus said the last days would be like it was in the days of Noah. He gave Noah a message and 120 years to declare it. Some believed, but were laid to rest before the Flood came. But of all the people still alive on the day the Flood came, only eight people believed enough to be on that ark.

Imagine, eight inside the ark and something north of a billion outside. If you were one of the eight, would you have been thinking “I could be outside with so many more people”?

Almost the whole world right now thinks that way—billions of people, all dashing rapidly to destruction. But a few people still listen to the three angels’ messages, and only this remnant will be saved from the destruction that is coming.

Let’s look at three scriptures that all speak about a similar subject. These scriptures are Zechariah 4:7, first part, Isaiah 40:3, 4, and Matthew 21:18–22:

“ ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!’ ”

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.’ ”

“Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither away so soon?’ So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.’ ”

So what are we to learn from these three scriptures?

Zechariah says that a great mountain will be turned into a plain. Is he talking about a literal mountain? Skeptics will say that they have never heard of such a thing. The Rocky Mountains, Mount Everest, the Himalayan Mountains, the Andes, they all are still where they have been. So these skeptics do not believe that this has happened or will happen. But this scripture isn’t about a literal mountain.

Isaiah 40 sounds like the construction of an interstate highway, where you smooth out the mountains and the valleys, so the road is straight and level. But this isn’t about the literal removal of a mountain and making rough terrain smooth to travel on. We know that Isaiah is predicting the work of John the Baptist, 700 years before he was born, as the one who would come to prepare the way for the Messiah.

And if Jesus’ purpose in Matthew 21 isn’t to simply curse a literal, unproductive tree, what is He talking about?

Obstacles, friends, are the difficulties and trials that are in front of us that seem as big as a mountain, too big to go around and too high to climb over. We have all been confronted at some point in our lives with something that seems completely insurmountable—no way through, no way around, no way over and hedged about on every side. Jesus is talking about a spiritual mountain or obstacle in our lives that we do not know how to overcome. So Jesus says in Matthew 21:22, “[W]hatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Simply believe, ask for guidance and assistance, and these apparent impossibilities can be removed.

The Christian is faced with both external and internal obstacles. Let’s look at some of the external obstacles first since they are the easier ones. The internal obstacles are harder.

In the New Testament, external obstacles are referred to as the world. First John 2:15–17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust (craving) of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” These are the same three temptations that the devil brought to Jesus in Matthew 4.

The lust of the flesh consists of sensual temptations that include sexual passions and the appetite for food and drink and other harmful substances that are sinful. It is not a sin to eat and drink, but we can sin by what and how we eat and drink. This temptation is very successful for the devil.

The devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said, “Throw yourself down. For it is written that the Lord will send His angels to protect you.” This temptation is known as presumption. Presumption is when someone claims the promises of God and believes that they will be saved, all while breaking His commandments (see Matthew 7:21–23). It is one of the most common sins in the Christian world today, so much so, that Mrs. White says that the devil is successful nine times out of ten with this temptation (Lift Him Up, 80). We don’t have a very good average when dealing with temptations of presumption.

It is often beyond comprehension just how easy it is to fall in love with the world. The devil promised Jesus the whole world. He didn’t take it, but there are people that will yield to temptation for just a little piece of worldly real estate; they are willing to give up eternal life for just a little something on this earth. But Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36

The external temptations that every Christian faces—every man, woman, boy, and girl—are present in any one of a variety of ways that will result in breaking the law of God and make the lawbreaker a member of the devil’s ranks. “He who sins is of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

So, if the devil can entice us, seduce us, terrify us into sinning, desiring the world, with its sensuality, presumption, and love for things and possessions, then we have switched to his side of the great controversy; and unless we repent, we lose our souls, and that is his ultimate goal.

No matter how difficult facing these external temptations can be, it is the internal obstacles that are the most difficult for a Christian to overcome.

As Christians, we are to surrender to Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as our Saviour from sin and the Lord of our lives. The entire purpose of the Christian life is to become like Jesus, to be Christlike. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Becoming Christlike is hearing and doing what God says.

But many Christians who claim the name of Jesus too often forget the hearing and doing part. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. We cannot call Him Lord and not obey His commands if we are to be true Christians.

So let’s consider this: if a person wishes to be made Christlike, but there is something inside him or her that is not Christlike, what is the problem? There is an obstacle that must be overcome so that there is nothing left inside but the character of Christ. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3

God is able to remove even the most difficult obstacles outside, but it won’t matter if the internal obstacles are not removed first. It is only when the devil’s power over a person’s nature has been replaced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that his power to cause difficulties in a person’s life can be overcome.

Individual Christians are not the only ones who experience obstacles; Christians as a church group also must meet obstacles. One of the greatest obstacles for a church is that of false teaching, or heretical doctrines. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 24, as well as other places in the Bible. He said that many false prophets would arise and deceive many (verse 24). When revival and reformation is happening in a church, then all kinds of heretical and fanatical doctrines will be seen, instigated by Satan to counteract that revival.

However, a much bigger obstacle for the church is found in Last Day Events, 156: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. … [H]ow often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement!”

“If we hope to wear the crown, we must expect to bear the cross. Our greatest trials will come from those who profess godliness. … The opposition which Christ received came from His own nation, who would have been greatly blessed had they accepted Him. In like manner the remnant church receive opposition from those who profess to be their brethren.” The Review and Herald, August 28, 1883

Another obstacle, particularly for new Christians, is similar to something that the children of Israel said while wandering in the wilderness. They had given their lives to God, had chosen to follow and obey all that He said, but now they were experiencing more trouble in their lives than they had ever experienced before. People are tempted to think that if God is all powerful, and if He is really leading them, then they should be having an easy life, but they aren’t. Why?

“Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of success.” Reflecting Christ, 362

Trials and obstacles are the appointed conditions to successfully take us from where we are to where we need to be if we would spend eternity with God. God never sends a trial that we do not need.

“God’s care for his heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon His children but such as is essential for their present and eternal good. He will purify His church, even as Christ purified the temple during His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon His people in test and trial comes that they may gain deeper piety and greater strength to carry forward the triumphs of the cross.” Ibid.

Trials and obstacles are God’s chosen methods of discipline and the appointed conditions of success, meaning God has something wonderful in store for us. Let’s look in the Bible for some examples of great men who suffered great obstacles.

Joseph’s life was one of severe trial—sold as a slave at a young age, forced to learn a new language, culture and customs, falsely accused and imprisoned. But the greater the future and destiny that God has for a person, the greater the trials He may allow. Because of his obedience and loyalty to God, Joseph ultimately, according to God’s plan, was exalted to a high position in Egypt, enabling him to save his father and his entire people from famine.

God made David perhaps the greatest king of Israel, but David made many very serious mistakes—a fugitive, an adulterer, a conspirator, a murderer. But when he repented and committed his life to obeying God, he was once again restored to God’s favor.

Daniel was taken captive to Babylon at a young age, but he remained committed to following the things he had been taught regarding obedience to God, specifically how he should eat and drink. While this was a hard trial for him to endure, his most difficult trial came when he was an old man. He had become the prime minister of Persia, but was hated by the other government officials. They conspired together to create a law that they knew Daniel would break because obeying it would mean disobeying God. The law required that all men would worship only King Darius for 30 days. If anyone failed to do so, they would be thrown into the lions’ den. We are all familiar with the story. Rather than attempting to hide his prayers, Daniel chose to continue to pray to God three times a day—as was his custom—with his face set toward Jerusalem. He was thrown into the lions’ den, but God sent His angel to save his life.

Friends, God knows how to deliver us from the obstacles that stand in our way, but He delivers us because we are faithful to Him, as were Joseph, David, and Daniel.

There are many reactions when obstacles come. For instance, someone might say, “Well, my spouse won’t accept the truth” or “I love my son/daughter so much that if he/she doesn’t go to heaven, I don’t want to go either.” Revelation 21:8 tells us, “But the cowardly [fearful] … shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” When the obstacle came, they gave up.

Another common reaction is unbelief. This is what the children of Israel did. Their unbelief was so bad that the Lord must have thought, “I can’t lead these people into the land of Canaan, because they are not ready. They don’t even believe in Me or that I am able to bring them into the promised land.” God could not do for them what He wanted to do because they did not believe.

A third common reaction is discouragement. Someone might say, “But you just don’t know how bad my situation is.” And they would be right. But God does know and He knows how to remove that obstacle or how to get the person through it. However, we will never get through the obstacles that come to us if we have a halting, unbelieving spirit.

Some people in the world today, think that the Christian religion isn’t true because they have encountered an obstacle that they didn’t overcome. They either gave up, experienced unbelief, or became discouraged and did nothing. However, the Christian religion does work because many people have overcome all kinds of apparently insurmountable obstacles when united with the power of God’s grace.

The children of Israel thought their trek through the wilderness to the promised land would be obstacle free because God was leading the way, but God allowed trials and troubles to help perfect their characters, and He does the same for us.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christian churches in Acts 14:22, “[S]trengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’ ” In John’s vision recorded in Revelation 7:13 and 14, we are told that those who will be in God’s kingdom will be those “who come out of the great tribulation.”

The most serious obstacles that we must conquer are not external ones, but rather those that are internal such as pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world. So how do we face them?

There are four necessary steps to successfully meeting our obstacles:

  1. Persistent prayer

“Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

“ ‘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 18:2–8

What is the lesson found in this parable? Be persistent in prayer. As we fulfill the conditions of the promises that the Lord has made, we can believe that He will not go back on His word. When the insurmountable obstacle comes, we are to go to God in prayer and He will deliver us.

  1. Faith like Caleb

In Numbers 13, the children of Israel were camped at the border of the promised land. Twelve spies had been secretly sent to spy out the conditions and people there. Ten of the spies were afraid and expressed their fear openly, telling them that there were mighty giants in the land, and the people then took up the cry of fear and complaining, as they most typically did. But two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Verse 30, last part.

Instead of exercising faith in the One who had brought them through the wilderness and the Red Sea, they refused to believe Caleb and, as a result, they were left in the wilderness to wander another 40 years before finally being permitted to enter the promised land. Even after 40 additional years of wandering, Caleb’s faith was strong and he prayed that the Lord would cleanse his inside obstacles away—any pride, selfishness, covetousness—so that he would have the power to overcome the outside obstacles and defeat the giants. He was 85 years old and yet, by the power of the Lord, he conquered the giants in the land.

  1. Action

We must pray and exercise faith, but we must also act. We must press against the obstacle.

“You will have obstacles and difficulties to encounter at every turn and you must, with firm purpose decide to conquer them, or they will conquer you.” Gospel Workers, 133

“Success will come to them as they struggle against difficulties.” Prophets and Kings, 595

We have to do something, press against the obstacle, ask for God’s help, and keep going.

“The obstacles they encounter, instead of leading them to seek help from God, the only Source of strength, separate them from Him, because they awaken unrest and repining.

“Do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare; and our anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We should not indulge in a solicitude that only frets and wears us but does not help us to bear trials. … It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with cares.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 293, 294

There are so many people who have a trial or difficulty in their lives, and they try so hard to overcome it, but fail, and since they failed, they just stop trying. What would have happened to the widow in Luke 18 if she had given up after the first try? Not a thing. But she was persistent and, in the end, the judge granted her request.

“There are strong and subtle influences to bind them to the ways of the world; but the power of the Lord can break these chains. He will remove every obstacle from before the feet of His faithful ones or give them strength and courage [faith] to conquer every difficulty, if they earnestly beseech His help. All hindrances will vanish before an earnest desire and persistent effort to do the will of God at any cost to self, even if life itself is sacrificed.” Testimonies, Vol. 4, 147

  1. Correct physical habits.

These habits are very important and have a great deal to do with our state of mind and whether or not we will have the determination to attack and solve the problem with the help of God.

For example, if a person is using alcoholic beverages, the very first drink has an anesthetizing effect on the frontal lobe of the brain. This anesthetizing effect weakens the willpower. The devil takes advantage of that weakened state and sends the imbiber strong, sinful temptations. He may tempt them to try drugs or to smoke while he or she continues drinking. When we do things that weaken our bodies and minds or fail to do the things that strengthen them, the door is opened wide for the devil to work his will against us.

It is important for us to remember that when meeting an obstacle or trial, we should do so in accordance with a way that aligns with God’s direction. When we do this, He promises that mountains of difficulty will be removed. We must pray for strength in meeting them, but our obstacles will not be moved while we sit and expect God to do all the work. We must work with Him.

Christian men and women who meet their obstacles in the way the Lord directs—with prayer, faith, persistent action and following the right physical habits—will overcome them, one after another. It is God’s purpose in allowing obstacles and trials, so that we might become men and women of power who will not be moved.

“When hedged about on every side, this is the time above all others to trust in God and in the power of His Holy Spirit. We are not to walk in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord God of Israel. It is folly to trust in man or to make flesh our arm. We must trust in Jehovah; for in Him is everlasting strength.” The Review and Herald, January 16, 1908

We are in a battle against the devil, against the world, but most importantly we are in a battle against our own sinful, carnal nature. The internal enemy is the most dangerous of all, but we can overcome this enemy if we are willing to fight.

“There are few who are really consecrated, few who have fought and conquered in the battle with self.” The Watchman, June 12, 1906

The Bible teaches that from the beginning to the end, if we want to inherit eternal life, we must fight this battle with self.

“Let the tempted soul remember … it is only by coming in contact with obstacles and difficulties and overcoming them that we become strong. Our necessity is God’s opportunity. If we will hold fast to Christ, every trial will work out for our good.” The Signs of the Times, October 17, 1900

“Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-around character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 331

This process does not happen in a day, but every one of us can be certain that we can become like Jesus Christ. We can surmount these internal obstacles in the character that are unchristlike. Then by facing our obstacles and trials head on with prayer, faith, persistent action, having the right physical habits, and following God’s direction, we will become just like Him.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Bible Study Guides – At Home with Our Deliverer

June 21 – 27, 2020

Key Text

“Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise” (Isaiah 60:18).

Study Help: God’s Amazing Grace, 351–363.


“The day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. The will of God is to be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. Then the nations will own no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving—the robe of Christ’s righteousness.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 42.



  • What attitude does God want us to have when things go wrong? Habakkuk 3:17, 18; Philippians 4:4.

Note: “The children of God may rejoice in all things and at all times. When troubles and difficulties come, believing in the wise providence of God, you may rejoice. You need not wait for a happy flight of feeling, but by faith you may lay hold of the promises and lift up a hymn of thanksgiving to God.” In Heavenly Places, 123.

“The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. Whatever comes to him comes from the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Nothing can touch him except by the Lord’s permission. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us.” The Ministry of Healing, 488, 489.



  • What attitude did David have when he was in trouble? How did God deliver him? Psalm 40:1–3, 5.

Note: “The mercies of God surround you every moment; and it would be profitable for you to consider how and whence your blessings come every day. Let the precious blessings of God awaken gratitude in you. You cannot number the blessings of God, the constant loving-kindness expressed to you, for they are as numerous as the refreshing drops of rain. Clouds of mercy are hanging over you, and ready to drop upon you. If you will appreciate the valuable gift of salvation, you will be sensible of daily refreshment, of the protection and love of Jesus; you will be guided in the way of peace.” Messages to Young People, 409, 410.

“As we behold the beauty and grandeur in the works of nature, our affections go out after God; and though our souls are awed and our spirit subdued, our souls are invigorated by coming in contact with the Infinite through His marvelous works. Communion with God, through humble prayer, develops and strengthens the mental and moral faculties, and spiritual powers increase by cultivating thoughts upon spiritual things.” The Youth’s Instructor, July 13, 1893.

  • What does God give to those who make Him their hiding place? Psalm 32:7.
  • What spiritual covering does God provide His children? Isaiah 61:10.

Note: “The Lord Jesus Christ has prepared a covering—the robe of His own righteousness—that He will put on every repenting, believing soul who by faith will receive it.” The Upward Look, 378.

“If we constantly seek to follow Jesus, the blessed hope is ours of standing before the throne of God without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, complete in Christ, robed in His righteousness and perfection.” That I May Know Him, 361.



  • How did Moses and the children of Israel express their gratitude to God for delivering them at the Red Sea? Exodus 15:1, 21.

Note: “This song and the great deliverance which it commemorates, made an impression never to be effaced from the memory of the Hebrew people. From age to age it was echoed by the prophets and singers of Israel, testifying that Jehovah is the strength and deliverance of those who trust in Him. That song does not belong to the Jewish people alone. It points forward to the destruction of all the foes of righteousness, and the final victory of the Israel of God. …

“In freeing our souls from the bondage of sin, God has wrought for us a deliverance greater than that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea. … The daily blessings that we receive from the hand of God, and above all else the death of Jesus to bring happiness and heaven within our reach, should be a theme for constant gratitude.” God’s Amazing Grace, 352.

  • What does God want us to do today when He gives us victory? Psalms 98:1; 146:2.

Note: “By beginning to sing songs of triumph and thanksgiving now, we may prepare ourselves to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb when we meet on the sea of glass.” The Upward Look, 306.

  • What song will the special class of the redeemed sing in heaven? What will this class have gotten the victory over? Revelation 15:2–4; 14:1–5.

Note: “It is the song of Moses and the Lamb—a song of deliverance. None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience—an experience such as no other company have ever had. … They have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob’s trouble; they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God’s judgments. But they have been delivered, for they have ‘washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:14).” The Great Controversy, 649.



  • What is one thing God gives deliverance from? Psalm 34:4–7. How? 1 John 4:18.

Note: “The Lord frequently permits His people to be brought into strait places, that they may turn to Him, their protector and deliverer, as a child would turn to his parents when in trouble and fear. It is no evidence that God is against us, because we are afflicted. … It is true that pain and death are the consequence of sin. But the Lord permits those He loves to be brought into trial, that they may learn the precious lessons of trust and faith. If trials are received aright, they will prove of the highest value to us in our religious experience. As they lead us to put our trust more firmly in God, we become better acquainted with His character.

“When the Lord has answered our prayers, and proved Himself better to us than our fears, we should not fail to express our gratitude for His mercies. Like the Hebrew host, we should praise Him for His wonderful works. Here many fail to glorify God. They do not tell of His goodness, making known to all around them that the Lord is to them a present help in every time of need.” The Signs of the Times, March 10, 1881.

  • Whom does the Lord look after? How will He protect His people in the last days? Psalm 33:18, 19.

Note: “From His resources He [God] can spread a table in the wilderness. By the touch of His hand He can increase the scanty provision and make it sufficient for all.” Conflict and Courage, 226.

  • How does God provide final victory to His people? Isaiah 25:8; 1Corinthians 15:57.

Note: “When Christ shall come the second time, to be ‘admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thessalonians 1:10), death shall be swallowed up in victory, and there shall be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more death!” That I May Know Him, 362.



  • What future does God promise to His people? Isaiah 32:18; Revelation 21:4.

Note: “There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God’s people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home.” The Great Controversy, 675.

  • What has God promised us today in preparation for a glorious future? 1 Chronicles 29:11.

Note: “Instead of mourning, weeping, and despairing, when troubles gather about us like a flood and threaten to overwhelm us, if we would not only pray for help from God, but would praise Him for so many blessings left—praise Him that He is able to help us—our course would be more pleasing to Him, and we would see more of His salvation.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 258.

“Eternal realities must be kept before the mind’s eye, and the attractions of the world will appear as they are—altogether profitless.” That I May Know Him, 357.



1    How should I view the difficulties and trials that come my way?

2    How can I grow both spiritually and mentally?

3    What significance does the song of Moses and the Lamb have for me today? To whom will this song have special significance in the future?

4    How do we often fail to glorify God?

5    As we focus our eyes upon Christ and His mission to save us, what will we discover?

Copyright 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

How to Prepare

Paul tells us in Romans 15 verse 4: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

The story of Joseph that is found in Genesis 40 and 41 has always been a great blessing to me. I remember when I was just a little fellow, we were poor but Mother had a little book with a gray cover with red letters on that front cover that read, “The Story of Joseph.” And there was a time in my life when every Sabbath afternoon that particular story was read. I’ve always loved to hear about the experiences of Joseph.

This 41st chapter presents Joseph as he stands before Pharaoh. You remember the background, his years in Potiphar’s house as a slave, then his years in jail under false accusation, and now suddenly in the providence of God he’s called from the prison to interpret the king’s dreams. With humility and confidence he tells Pharaoh, “The answer is not in me but God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16).

You remember the dreams about the cows, the skinny ones eating up the fat ones, and so the grain, the number seven in each dream. Pharaoh did not know what it meant at all. None of his counselors did either, but the Lord gave Joseph the answer. He said, Pharaoh, the two dreams mean the same thing. There are going to be seven years of plenty, and then there are going to be seven years of famine – those were the fat cows and the skinny cows, and the good grain and the blasted ears. Now he said, My advice is, you had better get to storing up grain during those seven good years so that you will have something when the seven years of famine come. (See Genesis 41.)

This is exactly what Pharaoh did and when he and his counselors had thought the thing through and looked over the kingdom, they couldn’t think of a man to head up that food conservation program better than Joseph. So the slave became the ruler of Egypt under the Pharaoh and carried through that great conservation program.

“Every institution established by Seventh-day Adventists is to be to the world what Joseph was in Egypt.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 219. In our homes, in our sanitariums, in our schools, whatever we are a part of in God’s great program, you and I, dear friends, are to be to the world today what Joseph was in Egypt.

Joseph foretold a coming time of trouble. We also have a coming time of trouble to foretell. Divine prophecy has warned us and told us to warn others. But Joseph’s message was more than a warning of trouble. Its focus was on what to do to get ready. That also should be our focus today.

Amos describes a famine bigger than the famine of Egypt and far more serious. Thank God we are told ahead of time how to get ready. We read: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).

What a day that will be—when men are traveling, some on foot, some in automobiles, some in jet planes, all over this planet, hunting for somebody to declare to them the word of God, to make plain the way of salvation. But no, it is too late, for probation has closed. The great time of trouble has come and the plagues are falling. Memory awakens and men who have derided and scorned the messengers of God, multitudes who have neglected the offers of salvation, long now for the message to which they previously paid no attention. It was so in Noah’s day. When the rain began to fall and the rivers rose, O how many there were who started pounding on that ark, but it was too late and the door was shut. And this in Noah’s time and this in the coming time of trouble was no arbitrary action on the part of God. Even when conscience awakens and memory stirs there is no deep-seated purpose to turn from sin. Men merely want to escape the results of sin and that is not true repentance.

Had those sinners in Antediluvia managed to get in the ark and ride through the flood they would have returned to their idolatry, their lust, and their murder as soon as they hit land again. Confirmed sinners are impossible to change and this is what the text in Amos is talking about – a famine in the land. When God’s message is no longer preached and God’s word is no longer heard, mercy’s day has ended; the day of wrath and justice has come.

If that famine is ahead, as our text says, “A famine of hearing the words of the Lord,” we are in the years of plenty. We are in the years of the fat cows and the well filled out ears of grain. And O if we believe the message of Joseph, if we believe the message of God in this momentous hour, we will be gathering up the grain and storing it to use in the time of famine, for all we will have then will be what we store up now.

It is a shame, friends, that some people are filling their storehouses with chaff. Everybody is putting away something. In these billions of brain cells everybody is storing something. But through Jeremiah God asks, “What is the chaff to the wheat” (Jeremiah 23:28, last part)?

In the book The Ministry of Healing, page 441, the servant of the Lord says, “As I see libraries filled with ponderous volumes of historical and theological lore, I think, Why spend money for that which is not bread?” And then the word is added, “The sixth chapter of John tells us more than can be found in such works.” What is the chaff to the wheat? Consider what you are putting in your storehouse because something is going in.

“The Great Teacher who came down from heaven has not directed teachers to study any of the reputedly great authors. He says: ‘Come unto Me … Learn of Me; … and ye shall find rest unto your souls’ (Matthew 11:28, 29). Christ has promised, and in learning lessons of Him we shall find rest.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 159, 160.

Men’s books with worthless chaff are stored,

God’s Book does priceless wealth afford.

Then leave the chaff and spend your pains,

In gathering up the golden grains.

Nay, were the seas one chrysolite,

The earth a golden ball,

And diamonds all the stars of night,

This Book were worth them all.

Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 21, 1863.

O what golden grain we can store in these granaries of our minds. How we shall appreciate living on this food we have stored away during that time of famine in Jacob’s trouble. How much these promises will mean to us! Again and again my heart is burdened to encourage all whom I can encourage, young and old, to memorize the Bible.

I was reading about the Waldenses, those witnesses for God that through the Dark Ages kept the torch of truth burning. There in the valleys of the Alps surrounded by those mighty mountains, often enduring persecution, they trained their children in the Bible. In The Great Controversy, page 65, we read, “The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated.”

“From earliest childhood the youth were instructed in the Scriptures and taught to regard sacredly the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Bible were rare; therefore its precious words were committed to memory. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament.” Ibid., 67. Wonderful thought; children, youth, some of them repeating large portions of the Old and the New Testaments.

Speaking of the young men who accepted God’s call to be ministers, “While attention was given to branches of general learning, the Bible was made the chief study.” Ibid., 68. This situation was not like a popular theological seminary I heard about where a student went clear through and graduated without ever even owning a Bible. No, the chief study of the Waldensian youth was the Bible, the word of God. “The Gospels of Matthew and John were committed to memory, with many of the Epistles.” Ibid. Just fill the mind with chapter after chapter, book after book. You see, we are in Joseph’s time of plenty but the famine is coming, and coming soon. Thank God there are storehouses in which we can store the grain. Let’s not leave room for any chaff.

In thinking of this coming time of trouble I would have us ponder not merely on memorizing the Bible but there are other things we need to do in a practical way in getting ready for that time. The 91st Psalm pictures God’s people being protected from the plagues. “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (verses 10, 7). God is going to protect His people during that awful time of trouble from great epidemics that sweep over this world, slaughtering millions.

Now this will be without question by the special protecting power of God, but in all God’s plans for men He gives them a part to act. He protected Noah and his family from the flood but there was something Noah had to do in a practical way to get ready for it. Every day as he preached he practiced. And friends, if you and I believe that the health problems of this world are going to get so terrible that millions will die from various diseases, our faith, if it is a true faith, will find expression in two very important activities. One is learning and practicing the laws of health in our own experience. The other is reaching out to learn how to help others with their health problems.

Inspiration has told us that there will be a time when no work will be done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work and there will be suffering ones, plenty of them, and we will have opportunity to help people. We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work.

It would be better like Joseph to be called from the prison to solve problems than to languish in the dungeon because we know nothing practical to do. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to learn simple treatments. Now is the time to learn simple cooking. Now is the time to learn simple agriculture. Now is the time to learn physiology and hygiene and health education and be sharing these things with our friends and neighbors. We are in the years of the fat cows now and the years of the skinny cows are just ahead. We are in the time now when we can store up the information and the experience that will enable us to go through this time of trouble ahead, triumphant in our own experience and helping others. What a destiny, friends. What an opportunity. What an hour to be living in.

We want to get ready not only by committing the Scriptures to memory and by entering into the health principles and practice, but we want an experience with God in our own lives. Someone was telling me about an inmate of a state penitentiary who is serving a life term. He had committed murder and been there for many years. As a pastime he has taken to committing verses to memory and he has memorized the entire Bible, but it hasn’t saved his soul at all. He is still just as much of a sinner as when he entered the penitentiary. My point is, is it possible to fill the mind with truth and yet it not reach the heart?

Jesus told a story in Matthew 25:1–10 about the ten young women who were waiting for the bridegroom to come. And as the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept and at midnight the cry came that the bridegroom was coming! Go out to meet him! All ten woke up; all ten trimmed their lamps, but then the difference showed up. Five of the young women, along with the oil that was in their lamps, had provided some extra oil that was poured into the lamps which were about to go out. In the story there were five of those young women who had neglected to provide for that contingency. They were left without in the blackness of the night and only five went in to the marriage supper.

When the great time of trouble comes, it will be too late to get the oil. When that crisis hour strikes it will be apparent who has stored up extra oil in advance. So, whether we use the figure of storing up the grain in the storehouse or of storing up extra oil in anticipation of the tarrying, the lesson is clear in either case—we must get ready before the crisis comes. The ark must be built before it starts raining. O I thank God that He is giving us the opportunity day by day of developing not only in our knowledge of truth but in an experience of personal fellowship with Christ.

One of the great aids in this comes in a box labeled trials. Did you ever get a package in the mail, or perhaps by special delivery? Usually we don’t say thank you when we get one of those boxes, but it is through trials and difficulties and problems that Jesus is developing an experience of fellowship with Him in those who permit Him thus to work. Trials themselves do not automatically thus develop us. Trials make some people bitter instead of sweet. Trials leave some people weak instead of strong. Trials fill some minds with doubt instead of faith, but it need not be so. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and if we will take these promises that abound in the Scripture and read them and claim them as we enter these trials from day to day we can develop an experience which will fit us to go through this coming time of trouble.

Jesus gives some very practical counsel from the Sermon on the Mount. He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

In the coming time of trouble, the wealth of this world will be of no value. But there is opportunity now to transfer our wealth, whether it be little or great, to a bank where there is no discount, no inflation and no recession, where our wealth can be eternally secure and where we can draw compound interest on the investment through all eternity.

We can actually turn money that we have in our possession into something that will be of enduring worth all through eternity. Thank God that He doesn’t take these tiny little bits that used to be gold and silver but now are paper and cheap metal. We don’t have to think of transferring these paltry little sums into a tiny corner of one of those golden streets up there. Heaven does not value gold that way; that is why gold is used to pave streets.

The unit of value in heaven is a soul. We call it the dollar. Heaven calls it a soul. What is the rate of exchange? “One soul is of more value to heaven than a whole world of property, houses, lands, money.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 21, 22. If you could take all the money in this world and all the houses in this world, and all the jewels in this world, the diamonds and the rubies, and all the rest, every bit of value that people list on the stock exchange or in banks or the CPAs work over in their records, take it all and pile it up all together in one pile—one soul is of more value to heaven than all that pile.

We have a tremendous opportunity as we think about the coming famine, the coming time of trouble, to get our assets transferred from the shrinking experiences that money is going through now into assets that will be of eternal worth and eternal value forever and forever. It is too bad that Wall Street cannot hear of this. God has made it possible for the poor to get in on this deal. Even our tiny offerings, if they are given from hearts of love, are in the providence of God translated into souls that will shine as the stars forever and ever.

As we think of Joseph’s dream and His counsel to get ready now for what is ahead, we are thinking, first of all, of storing up the word of God in our minds. Then we are thinking of building better health and equipping ourselves more and more to minister to the physical needs of others in anticipation of the awful sicknesses ahead. We are thinking of entering into an experience of fellowship with God so that no matter what trial comes, our anchor will hold because we know His promises are sure. And we are thinking of so relating ourselves to Him in a practical way with our material wealth, whether it be little or great, so that under the leading of His Spirit we can transfer our assets from earth to heaven, from money and property to human souls saved in the kingdom of God, and thus we can enter into the riches of Jesus’ rewards to those who share with Him in the work of soul-winning.

Let us fill our granary with golden grain.

Elder W.D. Frazee studied the Medical Missionary Course at the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, California. He was called to Utah as a gospel medical evangelist. During the Great Depression, when the church could not afford to hire any assistants, Elder Frazee began inviting professionals to join him as volunteers. Thus began a faith ministry that would become the foundation for the establishment of the Wildwood Medical Missionary Institute in 1942. He believed that each person is unique, specially designed by the Lord, of infinite value, and has a special place and mission in this world which only he can fill. His life followed this principle and he encouraged others to do the same.

Bible Study Guides – Conquering the Conflict

June 2 – 8, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15.

INTRODUCTION: “The directions laid down in the Word of God leave no room for compromise with evil. The Son of God was manifested that He might draw all men unto Himself. He came not to lull the world to sleep, but to point out the narrow path in which all must travel who reach at last the gates of the City of God. His children must follow where He has led the way; at whatever sacrifice of ease or selfish indulgence, at whatever cost of labor or suffering, they must maintain a constant battle with self. The greatest praise that men can bring to God is to become consecrated channels through whom He can work.” The Acts of the Apostles, 565, 566.

  1. When Christ came to earth, what was He to do for man? Matthew 1:21; Acts 5:31.

NOTE: “We should meditate upon the Scriptures, thinking soberly and candidly upon the things that pertain to our eternal salvation. The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the sacrifice made in our behalf, call for most serious and solemn reflection. We should dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should seek to comprehend the meaning of the plan of salvation. We should meditate upon the mission of Him who came to save His people from their sins. By constantly contemplating heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger. Our prayers will be more and more acceptable to God, because they will be more and more mixed with faith and love. They will be more intelligent and fervent. There will be more constant confidence in Jesus, and you will have a daily, living experience in the willingness and power of Christ to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.” God’s Amazing Grace, 34.

  1. What kind of an example did Jesus leave? 1 Peter 2:21–24.

NOTE: “In our behalf Christ has made a tremendous sacrifice. He laid aside His royal crown, He laid aside His royal robe, and came to this world, born of humble parentage. Many were not attracted by the humility of His life, and He was despised and rejected of men. He suffered persecution, until at length He was crucified and died a shameful death. What does this mean to us? He came as the Saviour of every sinner that will accept of the divine sacrifice. He united in Himself divinity and humanity, that He might be the connecting link between fallen man and the Father. But will men accept of the conditions? Who of you will become partakers of the divine nature? There should be no delay in accepting Christ.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 10, 11.

  1. What should be our reaction to the provision Christ made for us? Philippians 3:12–14.

NOTE: “The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness. . . .” God’s Amazing Grace, 313.

  1. What power is at the root of our trials and persecutions? Ephesians 6:12; Job 1:6–12.

NOTE: “In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous.

“The power and malice of Satan and his host might justly alarm us, were it not that we may find shelter and deliverance in the superior power of our Redeemer. . . . Those who follow Christ are ever safe under His watchcare. Angels that excel in strength are sent from heaven to protect them. The wicked one cannot break through the guard which God has stationed about His people.” The Faith I Live By, 328.

  1. In trials and tribulations, how are Christians to reveal God’s power in their lives? Matthew 5:10–12; Luke 6:22, 23.

NOTE: “Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576.

  1. From where may we look for persecutions to come? Acts 20:29, 30; Luke 21:16.

NOTE: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.

“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the Third Angel’s Message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position, and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.” The Great Controversy, 608.

  1. For what purpose does God allow persecutions? Hebrews 12:5–8, 11.

NOTE: “In the experience of the apostle John under persecution, there is a lesson of wonderful strength and comfort for the Christian. God does not prevent the plottings of wicked men, but He causes their devices to work for good to those who in trial and conflict maintain their faith and loyalty. Often the gospel laborer carries on his work amid storms of persecution, bitter opposition, and unjust reproach. At such times let him remember that the experience to be gained in the furnace of trial and affliction is worth all the pain it costs. Thus God brings His children near to Him, that He may show them their weakness and His strength.” The Acts of the Apostles, 574, 575.

  1. How long will the saved be faithful? Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Revelation 2:10.

NOTE: “The enemy can never take out of the hand of Christ the one who is simply trusting in His promises. If the soul is trusting and working obediently, the mind is susceptible to divine impressions, and the light of God shines in, enlightening the understanding. What privileges we have in Christ Jesus! We are to watch vigilantly for the coming of the Lord. . . . Every moment is to be faithfully employed. ‘He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’” Sons and Daughters of God, 351.

  1. What will the saints be doing who are preparing to spend Eternity with Jesus? Romans 12:2, 21; 1 John 4:4.

NOTE: “Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience.” The Acts of the Apostles, 560, 561.

  1. What kind of church will God have when Jesus comes? Ephesians 5:25–27; Colossians 1:22, 28.

NOTE: “The church of God, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. They walk in narrow paths on earth; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial, and experience bitter disappointments; but their painful experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they are destined to be partakers of His glory. In holy vision the prophet saw the triumph of the people of God. He says: ‘I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that had gotten the victory . . . stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.’” Sons and Daughters of God, 74.

  1. How does Scripture compare life on earth with the eternal inheritance? 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4.

NOTE: “Paul had a view of heaven, and in discoursing on the glories there, the very best thing he could do was to not try to describe them. He tells us that eye had not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for those that love Him. So you may put your imagination to the stretch, you may try to the very best of your abilities to take in and consider the eternal weight of glory, and yet your finite senses, faint and weary with the effort, cannot grasp it, for there is an infinity beyond. It takes all of eternity to unfold the glories and bring out the precious treasures of the Word of God (Manuscript 13, 1888).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1107.

  1. What do we need to do in order to receive the reward? Hebrews 10:23, 35–37.

NOTE: “Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life; but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is a part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all dross may be purged away. The servant of God must endure with fortitude the attacks of the enemy, his grievous taunts, and must overcome the obstacles which Satan will place in his way.” Messages to Young People, 63.

By Ruth Grosboll

Learning to Walk With God, Part I

In this age of increased crime, infidelity, and disaster, many people are bombarded with trials and hardships. In the face of these challenges of life some feel that they are alone and need help in addressing their different tests, fears, guilt, sorrows, griefs, disappointments, and cares. Unfortunately, in most cases they know not what to do. Many desire to be true to God and to their high and holy calling, but fall short of victory because they fail to learn how to walk with God.

Enoch Walked With God

Thus, in this day of great peril, Christians lack the experience that Enoch had anciently. Of him it is recorded: “And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.” Genesis 5:24.

The time has come for Christians who are preparing for translation in these last days to take the time to study and appreciate the life of Enoch. The Word of God reveals that this servant of the Most High walked with God for 365 years. Yes, this mere human being like ourselves remained faithful and true to his high and holy calling for nearly four centuries. Yet we as professed Christians today struggle to remain upright during our short lifetimes (usually less than one century). Surely, Enoch knew something that we need to know; he knew exactly how to walk with God.

Communion With God

“In the midst of a life of active labor, Enoch steadfastly maintained his communion with God. The greater and more pressing his labors, the more constant and earnest were his prayers. He continued to exclude himself at certain periods from all society. After remaining for a time among the people, laboring to benefit them by instruction and example, he would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart.

“Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communings, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance.

“His faith waxed stronger, his love became more ardent, with the lapse of centuries. To him prayer was as the breath of the soul. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven.” Gospel Workers, 52.

You Can Choose

The busy rounds of life’s daily activities did not deter Enoch from keeping in tune with God. Yet today, so many are quick to make excuses for neglecting to think of, talk to, or even trust our loving Father. If it is not because they have too much to do and they just cannot find the time, it is because they see themselves too unworthy due to their sins. One excuse always seems to follow another. But these individuals need to realize that their failure to abide in the Lord’s presence and trust in Him as they should are the main reasons they sometimes find themselves failing, worrying, and unstable.

Therefore, the longer they continue to listen or respond to the enemy’s distractions (which are geared to keep them from the safety of abiding in God’s holy presence and doing His divine will), the longer it will take before they can get back to the straight and narrow path that leads to life eternal. Unfortunately, these persons often continue to tread on this dangerous ground until it is too late.

Our lives, however, do not have to remain in such peril. If we would only behold the Lord in His beauty and continually abide in His lovely presence, we would then seek more of His grace to obey His will. Then our service and relationship with God would greatly improve, and the grip of sin and Satan on our lives would be broken. The Spirit of Prophecy sheds light on how this relationship was attained by Enoch:

“Enoch continued to grow more heavenly while communing with God. His face was radiant with a holy light which would remain upon his countenance while instructing those who would hear his words of wisdom. His heavenly and dignified appearance struck the people with awe. The Lord loved Enoch because he steadfastly followed Him and abhorred iniquity and earnestly sought heavenly knowledge, that he might do His will perfectly. He yearned to unite himself still more closely to God, whom he feared, reverenced, and adored. God would not permit Enoch to die as other men, but sent His angels to take him to heaven without seeing death. In the presence of the righteous and the wicked, Enoch was removed from them. Those who loved him thought that God might have left him in some of his places of retirement, but after seeking him diligently, and being unable to find him, reported that he was not, for God took him.” The Story of Redemption, 59.

Like Enoch, we too can walk with God, if we will follow his example.

Impact of Fear

“True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every heart should be deeply impressed.” Prophets and Kings, 48.

What we keep in our mind’s eye and whom we constantly commune with affects our actions. If we go to a place filled with dangers and we believe we are alone, the chance of our running out of that place because of fear is quite great due to our thoughts. For example, if you go to visit a friend and there is an aggressive dog, such as a pit bull, in the yard, you will most likely find yourself hastening out of the yard or picking up a stick or stone to protect yourself. Most likely you will do everything necessary to ensure that nothing bad hap­pens to you. This is man’s normal reaction when he faces such danger alone. But, on the other hand, if someone else is with you, you will most probably pretend to be much braver than you really are. This is human nature.

Sometimes we think that fear is our worst enemy. But, in reality, God sometimes uses fear to make sure that man does not always live on the platform of pride. Man needs support; and if he feels that he can make it all alone, he will do away with God. Therefore, fear, griefs, trials, and disappointments are permitted by God in order to save us from our­selves. He permits such, even though He does not really want them to exist. He wants us to real­ize that we need Him, and therefore sometimes He allows circumstances to arise whereby we are forced to seek some kind of support and help. But the help that God wants us to seek is His own. He does not want us to depend upon ourselves or oth­ers who cannot do much for us; neither does He want us to depend upon physical props, drugs, or weapons as our source of protection or comfort. Yet God’s children have not yet learned to believe that God is truly there for them and wants to always be with them and bless them.

It is important for us as God’s people today to believe with all our hearts that we are not alone when we constantly commune with and trust in God. If this concept can be deeply imbedded within us, we will be con­querors on this earth. Nothing that comes in our way will be able to defeat us, not even the so-called problems and difficulties of life, much less the enemies of truth. Nothing will defeat us because nothing can withstand or overthrow a child of prayer and faith.

“A man whose heart is stayed upon God is just the same in the hour of his most afflicting trials and most discouraging surroundings as when he was in prosperity, when the light and favor of God seemed to be upon him. His words, his motives, his actions, may be misrepresented and falsified, but he does not mind it, because he has greater interests at stake. Like Moses, he endures as ‘seeing Him who is invisible’ (Hebrews 11:27); looking ‘not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen’ (11 Corinthians 4:18).” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 32.

If we keep the Lord in our daily lives, talk often with Him, and keep a sense of His holy presence ever before us, nothing will cause us to lose our hold on the truth and eternal life. Then it can be said of our personal Christian experience and relationship with God: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17.

Now, and in future articles, we will consider a few historical records of individuals who, like faithful Enoch, learned the value of walking with God through constant prayer and believing that they were not alone. This lesson the adults have to learn before it is too late, and it is their responsibility to pass it on to the younger ones. Parents and teachers can achieve much good by inspiring the minds of the children and young people with these examples of the importance of constantly praying and trusting in God. All must learn to rest in the assurance that the Lord is willing and able to be with us and help us under any and all circumstances. This is the outlook or mindset of all true champions involved in the Christian warfare.

Elijah Knew He Was Not Alone

Many incidents and experiences recorded in God’s Word show that holy men of God understood the concept of constantly praying, trusting, and keeping a sense of God’s presence ever before them. Take for example the prophet Elijah. During his experience on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal, he manifested the greatest amount of confidence that he was not alone. While the priests of Baal were jumping around, shouting, screaming, and clamoring for their gods to bring down fire upon their altar of sacrifice, Elijah stood a distance away and watched them and even mocked them, telling them to shout a little louder because their gods may be sleeping.

Elijah would not have done that if he did not believe he would do better when his turn came. In other words, you do not take the chance of challenging anyone unless you are sure that you will not face the very same embarrassment when your chance to act arrives. Since Elijah was in constant contact with God, he believed God was with him. Thus he fearlessly acted the way he did.

Elijah was a friend of God; he knew God. He was absolutely certain that when he called on God for help amidst all of backslidden Israel, he would not be disappointed. So when his turn came, Elijah calmly looked up to heaven and called upon God to send fire to light up his sacrifice. Immediately, fire came down from heaven. Not only did it burn up the sacrifice, but it also burned up the stones of the altar and drank up all the water that was in the trough around it. Elijah had the confidence that even though he did not see God with his physical eyes, yet he was not alone.

Total Dependence

This prophet of God, like many other servants of the Most High before and after him, placed his total dependence upon God. By the time this major contest with the false prophets of Baal arrived, Elijah, like Enoch of old, had the sweet experience of walking with God. This he acquired on a day-to-day basis and in the very same way that Enoch obtained his experience.

“Enoch ‘walked with God;’ but how did he gain this sweet intimacy? It was by having thoughts of God continually before him. As he went out and as he came in, his meditations were upon the goodness, the perfection, and the loveliness of the divine character. And as he was thus engaged, he became changed into the glorious image of his Lord; for it is by beholding that we become changed.” The Signs of the Times, August 18, 1887.

“To him [Enoch] prayer was as the breath of the soul. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 330.

Not All Were Consistent

We learn, however, that not all God’s servants were as consistent in their walk with their Maker as they should have been. Not all were as steadfast in this regard as was Enoch. Hence, all did not qualify to escape death. History reveals that this same Elijah, after he had performed such a magnificent feat on Mount Carmel, heard that Queen Jezebel was coming after him, and he quickly lost his hold on God. Note what happened:

“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do [to me], and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And when he saw [that], he [Elijah] arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which [belongeth] to Ju­dah, and left his servant there.” 1 Kings 19:1–3.

In other words, Elijah ran for his life. This same man who shortly before believed that he was not alone against the thousands of people surrounding him on Mount Carmel, is now seen running from danger. In the face of Jezebel’s threat, Elijah lost sight of the fact that he had a divine Companion, a sure Guide and Shepherd. Even this prophet of God forgot to maintain his communion and trust in his Maker, and the result was fear and flight. Such an unholy reaction, of course, can only bring shame and disgrace to God’s cause.

After Elijah stopped fleeing, the Lord came to him, “And he [Elijah] said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, [even] I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael [to be] king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint [to be] king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint [to be] prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, [that] him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left [Me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:14–18.

An Only Target

The Lord revealed to Elijah something that was comforting to him in his great fear. Contrary to his exalted spiritual experience on Mt. Carmel, Elijah was thinking that he was alone; he had let go of his hold on Infinite Strength. He depended upon himself and con­cluded that he was the only one in all of Israel who was serving God. But the Lord made it clear to Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not yet bowed their knees to Baal. Surely, this was comforting and reassuring to Elijah. His faith and confidence in God was again restored, and his spirit regained peace and assurance.

This happens to all of us at times. Sometimes we feel that we are the only ones that the devil is targeting; but we are not, even though the devil himself may make us believe so. When we cut back on our communion and trust in God, the more alone we think we are and the more discouraged we be­come. Then it is easier for us to fall under the control of the enemy. In order to escape this dilemma, we have to go right back to the source. We must not think or believe that we need to face the challenges of life by ourselves. We have to learn to eradicate that thought from our minds. God wants to abide with and in us at all times; hence, we must learn to pray more and believe in God’s love for us more. We can then truly focus on the thought, “We are not alone.” Like the Psalmist David, we too will be able to declare: “I will fear no evil: for Thou [art] with me.” Psalm 23:4.

Elisha and His Servant Secured

The lesson of faith or fear arising from whether or not we view ourselves secured by the mighty presence of God is a very important lesson to learn and understand. This is especially so as we approach the great and dreadful day of the Lord. As we have already seen, Elijah was a mighty man only when he believed that he was not alone—that is, when he believed the Lord was with him and he maintained constant communion and trust in God. But the moment he lost sight of God, he ran for his life.

When Elijah fulfilled his mission on earth, the Lord instructed him to anoint someone to take his place. This was Elisha. He had been Elijah’s servant over a period of time. When Elijah was translated to heaven without seeing death, Elisha was given Elijah’s mantle, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon Elisha and anointed him to be God’s prophet to minister unto the people in the place of Elijah.

Faith Tested

Elisha had his faith tested just as Elijah’s faith was tested. Elisha and his servant were staying in a city, and their enemies came and surrounded it. These enemies were many, and any possibility of escape was blocked off. The servant saw this and feared for his life. He went to Elisha to tell him about the great ordeal they were in:

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us are more than they that [be] with them.” 11 Kings 6:15, 16.

The servant was fearful, but Elisha was not. This is because the prophet had learned to pray more and trust in God more. Elisha did not have to see with his physical eyes the things of which he spoke unto his servant. Over the years he came to believe in divine help from within the invisible realm. Thus Elisha believed he was not alone. Likewise, although we may not presently see with our physical eyes the Lord and divine beings near us, nevertheless, by faith we too should “see” what is happening in the invisible world and trust in the goodness and presence of the Lord and His holy angels. We too must believe God’s Word which says: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7.

Elisha believed God’s promises with all his heart. Therefore, under such trying circumstances he was able to boldly and fearlessly express unto his servant, “Fear not: for they that [be] with us are more than they that [be] with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” 11 Kings 6:16, 17.

Lesson for Us

This is a lesson for us, and a very important one, too. Here were two men with two different outlooks. One believed in the power of prayer combined with faith in God, and the other believed he was alone. The difference between the two is quite evident. When Elisha faced this terrible ordeal, there was no fear, no feeling of defeat; instead there was confidence and boldness because he knew he was not alone. Thus he stood fearlessly in the face of danger. Like Enoch, Elisha walked with God.

“Enoch represents those who shall remain upon the earth and be translated to Heaven without seeing death. He represents that company that are to live amid the perils of the last days, and withstand all the corruption, vileness, sin, and iniquity, and yet be unsullied by it all. We can stand as did Enoch. There has been provision made for us. Help has been laid upon One that is mighty; and we all can take hold upon His mighty strength. Angels of God that excel in strength are sent to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. These angels, when they see that we are doing the very utmost on our part to be overcomers, will do their part, and their light will shine around about us, and sway back the influence of the evil angels that are around us, and will make a fortification around us as a wall of fire. Ample provisions have been made for us when we are burdened, and weary, and cast down, and in distress.” Review and Herald, April 19, 1870.

Eyes Opened

The Bible shows that the reaction of Elisha’s servant to the danger that beset him and his master was opposite to that of God’s prophet. The servant was fearful, scared, hopeless. He thought that this was the end. But the Lord blessed him. Elisha asked the Lord to open the spiritual eyes of his servant, and immediately the servant’s eyes were opened and he was allowed to look within the invisible realm—he saw that he and Elisha were surrounded by heavenly angels in chariots. Surely, Elisha would not have been able to ask God to answer such a prayer unless he, like Enoch, had a true experience with God.

Thus angels of God protected the Prophet Elisha and his servant. As a result of being shown the angelic protection surrounding them, Elisha’s servant became peaceful and calm. Though his faith should have grasped the vision initially, but did not, in God’s mercy and love, Elisha’s servant finally understood and believed what was happening in the spiritual world. This is important to know because we, too, are confronted and will continue to be faced with challenges again and again in our lives.

Whatever may be the circumstance, the attitudes and reactions of people (whether positive or negative) are usually based upon what they believe. Should tragedy befall us and we believe that we are or are not alone, we will react accordingly. It is imperative, therefore, that we, like Enoch, learn to walk with God. Not until we learn to commune more often with our Master, and trust in His love and power, can we rest assured that our experiences will always be positive and within God’s perfect will.

“Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a science that everyone who would make his lifework a success must understand.” Education, 257.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32:17.

[All emphasis added.]

To be continued . . .

Pastor Patrick Herbert is the senior pastor of the Tucker-Norcross Adventist Church and Director of the Gilead Institute of America, a medical missionary evangelistic training institution located in Norcross, Georgia. He holds a Doctorate in religion and speaks and writes on a wide range of religious and health topics. He may be contacted by e-mail at: gilead.net@usa.net.

One Day at a Time, Part I

God made man to be happy, did He not? He created because He loved mankind. He created everything to make mankind happy.

Sin has come into the world now, which has ruined relationships, health, longevity, peace, and the other things that make for happiness. But God sent His Son to redeem us, and if we are willing, He has promised to save us and to give us that joyous life that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

Desires Fulfilled

Even here, God’s desire is that we might have joy and happiness. I like this passage: “The Lord upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:14–16.

Have you ever fallen? The Bible says that the Lord upholds those who fall, and raises up those who are bowed down. Have you ever felt like you were burdened down with some weight? It may be a misunderstanding. It may be duties that overwhelm you. It may be the lack of friendship or poverty. God’s purpose is to satisfy everyone’s desires completely.

There are those who have developed desires that are not holy, and those desires need to be changed, refined, and purified. God’s purpose is to fulfill every pure and true desire. Often God wants to fulfill as many of those desires as He can right here on earth. However, He will not be able to fulfill some desires until eternity. For example, a person who is born blind may have a great desire to have sight—to see colors, to see people, to see things—something that we take for granted. We wake up each morning and open our eyes, and we go about our day’s activities. Most of us do not bother to thank the Lord for eyesight. It is just something that we have. But many of the individuals who are born blind have a great longing for something that they do not have.

Sometimes God has fulfilled such desires here on earth. Jesus healed the man who had been blind from birth (John 9), and other blind and suffering individuals also received healing (Matthew 15:31; Luke 7:22).

God is the same Healer today, and sometimes He heals people here too, but those longings cannot always be fulfilled here. Paul had an infirmity in the flesh, which seemed to involve his eyesight. He prayed three times for God to heal him, which He could have done, but God saw that it was best for His cause and for Paul’s character development to allow that infirmity to remain. He said instead, “My grace is sufficient for you. It will be fulfilled in its time, but not right now.” Paul had to endure the affliction of the flesh. (11 Corinthians 12:7–9.) But, nevertheless, God is going to answer that prayer. In fact, James 5 tells us that everyone who comes to the Lord for healing, confessing their sins, will be healed. Not all of them will be healed immediately; not all of them will even be healed in this life, but everyone will be healed.

Completely Satisfied

The Bible says that God satisfies the desires of every living thing. Whatever true and holy desires we have, God intends for the desires to be completely fulfilled far beyond anything we can imagine. Whatever we can ask or think, God desires to fulfill it. (See John 14:13, 14; 15:16.) “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children.” Education, 18.

A text that applies to heaven as well as to this life is 1 Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” That is supposed to be realized right here on earth. More than we can think or imagine God desires to give to us, even here. This does not necessarily mean finances—that is the first thing a lot of people think of—but the real things of life, the things that make us happy, joyful, and peaceful; the things that make us truly successful.

God intends for us to be able to develop talents beyond what we can imagine. God intends for us to have success and joy in the real things of life beyond what we could ever hope. And then, in the life beyond, when He comes again, there are things prepared that will satisfy us throughout eternity, things into which we will be growing in more knowledge and joy throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. There will be friendships there that we cannot imagine. There will be activities there that go beyond anything we have ever imagined for enjoyment and pleasure. We will experience real friends, real joy, real activities.

Before we can enjoy the pleasures of God in heaven, we must first learn to enjoy the pleasures of God here. We must first develop a little heaven within our hearts for us to take to heaven and enjoy there. It is here that we must develop those characters and habits that prepare us to fit into the society in heaven.

Biddings are Enablings

Our characters are not changed when Jesus comes. They remain exactly the same. This is why God’s ideal for us here is higher than we can imagine, because what we are there, in heaven, is what we become here, and that is beyond what most of us can imagine.

Now, when we consider this, some of us may say, “Well, that is just far beyond anything that I could ever achieve. I mean, I have so many faults in my heart and in my life and character that I could never get to the place where I could really fit into the society of heaven. I could never accomplish it here. If every thought that I think and every sentence that I speak has to fit into the society of heaven, I just do not see how I could ever achieve such a thing. It is beyond the realm of possibility.”

Have you ever thought that? I have wondered how I could ever achieve such a thing, but God has promised it. Remember, all of God’s biddings are enablings. What God has asked us to do He is able to accomplish. “As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 333. If He is able to accomplish it tomorrow, He is able to accomplish it today; at least it begins today. In fact, today is the only day we have to accomplish it! This is the reason God has given us a life of existence here on this earth. Why, when we come to the Lord and confess Him, does He not just take us to heaven at that moment? Because we have to develop our characters.

Some people have the idea that God should just come down to earth and ask people where they want to go. If they choose heaven, He can take them to heaven. If they do not choose heaven, then they do not need to go to heaven. If God did that, everyone would choose to go to heaven, would they not? Of course, some people think that would be wonderful. Would it? The only trouble is they would not be prepared for heaven, because we do not change when we go to heaven. We change here. That is why, throughout the ages, God has always given people a space of time in which it seems as though nothing is happening; it seems like things are sort of in neutral, but that is where the things are really happening. That is when God is really developing the character.

Old Testament Examples

Think of Moses who was ready to lead the children of Israel out from Egypt. He went out and herded sheep, day after day after day, doing nothing. At least that is what he thought he was doing, but that is from where his real preparation was coming—from herding sheep, taking care of the sick sheep, taking care of the orphans who had no parents, the ones who were wayward and unruly and independent, searching after that lost sheep that had gone off by itself, and instead of letting it suffer the consequences, going out and searching and bringing it back. That was where his character was being developed.

Think back to Noah’s day. We are told that in Noah’s day, when he began to build the ark, there was a great number of people helping him. If the flood had come quickly, within just a matter of a few months or maybe even a few years, there would have been many who would have gone into the ark. They believed Noah. He was a prophet of God; he was a great-grandson of Enoch, who had been translated to heaven.

Noah was in the line of holy men, and people knew at the beginning that he was a prophet called of God. Perhaps God gave signs, as He usually does when there is a prophet, in order to show people. Maybe Noah had some open visions where people could test the gift of prophecy, and there may have been some other prophecies that he gave that people could test. God never leaves us without evidence upon which to base our faith. Whatever evidences God gave, the people could test them and know that Noah was true. So there was a great number who followed and helped to build the ark.

But no one ever figured it would take 120 years to finish the ark. That was a long delay, year after year after year, decade after decade, and still doing the same thing—sawing wood and pounding nails. That got old after awhile! The people surely began to wonder when the ark would be finished. They became weary.

People lived hundreds of years at that time. Most of the people who were there and helping with the ark when it was first begun were still living. They perhaps were still active in some religious activity, but where were they? There was no one left to help with the ark. Noah stood all alone as far as all those who had begun. He had only his own children who had been born 20 years after the project was started.

Egypt to Canaan

Think of the children of Israel who left Egypt. They all intended and hoped and thought and believed that within a short period of time—just a few months’ journey—they would be into the Promised Land. God led them out of Egypt and gave them the manna to sustain them in the wilderness. He gave them the water that flowed from the rock, and then they had the cloud to give them cooling shade by day and the fire to give them warmth and protection by night. They could march right across that desert and soon be in the Promised Land. Wonderful! They had all chosen to leave Egypt; they had all chosen to go to the Promised Land. There were approximately 600,000 men, plus women and children.

Of all those men who left Egypt, only 2 out of 600,000 entered into the Promised Land. We are told that this is an example for us today as God’s remnant people. “I [Ellen White] was pointed back to ancient Israel. But two of the adults of the vast army that left Egypt entered the land of Canaan. Their dead bodies were strewn in the wilderness because of their transgressions. Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers. God especially charged His ancient people to guard against idolatry, for if they should be led away from serving the living God, His curse would rest upon them, while if they would love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might, He would abundantly bless them in basket and in store, and would remove sickness from the midst of them.

“A blessing or a curse is now before the people of God—a blessing if they come out from the world and are separate, and walk in the path of humble obedience; and a curse if they unite with the idolatrous, who trample upon the high claims of heaven. The sins and iniquities of rebellious Israel are recorded and the picture presented before us as a warning that if we imitate their example of transgression and depart from God we shall fall as surely as did they.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 609.

Only a few of those who leave Egypt—the sins of the world—actually end up entering Canaan. Do you know why? because God gives them time for their characters to be developed. While many responded to the altar call, while many answered the initial invitation to join the happy band going to heaven, only a few are willing to go through the character development it takes to enter in.

Many Are Called

What does the Bible say? There are many who are called and who respond to the call, but there are only a few who develop a character that allows them to be chosen to go in. “Many are called,” Jesus said, “but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.

1 Corinthians 10:1–12 refers to this experience of the children of Israel. It says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Verses 1–4.

God gave them all the same opportunities. They all had the same food; they all had the same drink; they all heard the same sermons from Moses; they were all delivered from Egypt; they had all seen the miracles, but what happened?

“But with most of them God was not well pleased, for [their bodies] were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ ” Verses 5–7.

What was happening back then? They were involved, as were the people before the flood, in eating and drinking and playing. I am afraid that is what is happening to most of our young people today. They are involved in sports and eating and drinking and these kinds of things. If somebody goes out on a date, they know nothing else to do but to go to some activity or to some restaurant. That is what most people do when they want to have a night out or to do something.

Eating and drinking and playing—that is what happened to the children of Israel. There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking the right things. There is nothing wrong with exercise and some recreation, but somehow these were the things that absorbed their attention right there below Mt. Sinai, when they should have been dedicating and purifying their hearts for the manifestation of God. It was the wrong time. They did not know when to play and when not to play. They did not know when to eat and when to fast. Their day of opportunity came and they let it pass by.

“Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted . . .” by murmuring and complaining and questioning Providence, wondering, “Lord, are You really leading us? I do not like this that You are doing.” They tempted the Lord, and they “were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Verses 10–12.

Failing Trials

As we look at the children of Israel, we shake our heads and wonder at their unbelievable shortcomings. I mean, they left Egypt and lived their whole lives in the wilderness. They never got to enjoy the final reward for all their work. But then we stop and consider their trials. They were specifically tried ten different times. The sad thing is that they failed every time they were tried. They did not pass a single trial. These trials began while they were still in Egypt. You see, God was—and is—a God of love, and when the children of Israel failed once, He was loving enough to give them another opportunity. Trials are the opportunities God gives us to develop our characters. Obstacles and trials and temptations are the opportunities God gives us to reveal what is inside and to develop that character which will fit us for heaven.

We are not developed except when the trials come. That is what we are told in Hebrews 5:8, 9 where it says that Jesus was perfected by sufferings: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

To be continued . . .

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.

Learning to Walk With God, Part III

The Word of God tells us what kind of mental outlook the saints must have. God wants us to be happy, and it is important for us to recognize that such a state really begins in our minds. If our thoughts are uplifting and encouraging (instead of sad and discouraging), then our feelings and attitudes will take on the same pattern. Therefore, the Word of God gives us the following advice to help us experience happiness and fearlessness in the midst of bad and unfavorable circumstances: “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11.

Many who encounter such quotations as these find it difficult to see how it is possible to fulfill the instructions given in them. For example, some inquire concerning the practicality of a person praying “without ceasing.”

Such statements do not mean that God’s people have to be thinking only about Him every second of every minute of every day. In all of these quotations, God is showing us the need of always keeping our minds and hearts in a heavenly state, a state of purity, holiness, and righteousness—a prayerful state. In the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy we read, “. . . the life of Jesus was a life of constant trust, sustained by continual communion; and [as a result] His service for heaven and earth was without failure or faltering.” Education, 80. Christ was indeed a true champion—even the Champion of all champions. Like Enoch and the others we have considered in this series, Christ too prayed often and maintained a fervent faith in God. Hence the Scriptures encourage us: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.

Like Christ, therefore, we should endeavor to keep ourselves unspotted from the world by striving to always be in a prayerful, heavenly, and righteous frame of mind. This we can do by constantly seeking God and trusting in His grace to enable us to do all things. We must always be thinking and working in harmony with the principles of God’s kingdom, and we must often be found communing with our Maker. Only in this way can we have the same experience that Enoch had anciently.

To truly be prepared for Christ’s second advent, His faithful followers today must learn by daily experience how to walk with God: “He who is a citizen of the heavenly kingdom will be constantly looking at things not seen. The power of earth over the mind and character is broken. He has the abiding presence of the heavenly Guest, in accordance with the promise, ‘I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.’ He walks with God as did Enoch, in constant communion.” Review and Herald, November 10, 1910.

“The doctrine of Christ’s coming was made known at this early date to the man [Enoch] who walked with God in continual communion. The godly character of this prophet is to represent the state of holiness to which the people of God must attain who expect to be translated to heaven.” That I May Know Him, 348.

Whatever may be our duty, responsibility, interest, or activity, God desires us to always keep our hearts in tune with Him. Therefore, we need to focus on heavenly things much more than we presently do. As Christians, we need to often talk with God (pray unceasingly) during the day. Also, we need to monitor all our thoughts, words, and deeds at all times in order to ensure they are in harmony with our Master’s holy will. As we do this, like Enoch, we will begin to walk with God.

“If we would but think of God as often as we have evidence of His care for us we should keep Him ever in our thoughts and should delight to talk of Him and to praise Him. We talk of temporal things because we have an interest in them. We talk of our friends because we love them; our joys and our sorrows are bound up with them. Yet we have infinitely greater reason to love God than to love our earthly friends; it should be the most natural thing in the world to make Him first in all our thoughts, to talk of His goodness and tell of His power.” Steps to Christ, 102.


On some occasions God’s people had to even physically move to better locations in order to keep themselves unspotted from the world. Abraham had to leave his father’s home in order to do his Master’s will. Also, Lot and his two daughters had to leave Sodom in order to escape the environment of sin and God’s judgments. Enoch, too, saw the necessity of relocating to more suitable surroundings to truly walk with God. Therefore, for God’s people to truly serve Him faithfully today, amidst the evils of our age, this too is fast becoming a necessity.

“Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in the midst of any city, polluted with every kind of violence and wickedness, as did Lot in Sodom.” Evangelism, 78.

“More and more, as wickedness increases in the great cities, we shall have to work them from outpost centers. This is the way Enoch labored in the days before the flood, when wickedness was rife in every populous community, and when violence was in the land.” Review and Herald, September 27, 1906.

Secular Matters

We will always have need of attending to secular matters and, thus, our minds will need to be channeled in such areas at times, if we are to be successful in all our various pursuits. However, this does not mean that we cannot maintain a sense of God’s presence with us wherever we go and in whatever we do. It does not mean that we cannot often make time to commune with God in prayer, for this is the means whereby we come into contact with God Himself. He alone is capable of granting us success in all our pursuits and enabling us to keep our minds and hearts uplifted to heavenly things.

“Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven.” Steps to Christ, 99.

Stay Focused

Furthermore, to truly “abide” in Christ, we must regularly focus our minds on the truths of God’s Word. This we must do whenever the opportunity or need arises during the day. Experience shows that too often we, as Christians, may take the time to study God’s truths, but fail to utilize them (focus on them) in times of need. We fail to “hide” (secure) them carefully in our “hearts” (minds) in such a manner that we can quickly use them as a shield against temptation and sin. (John 15:4.) “Thy word,” said the psalmist David, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11.

David, like other men of God, knew the value of putting his mind on truth in the hour of temptation and test. But we who fail to use the strength of truth in times of need often end up falling into temptation and yielding to sin. Like any other instrument, truth is beneficial to us only when we use it. Therefore, while we are away from temptation we should fortify our minds with the truth so that when we are buffeted by such things as sickness, sorrow, addiction, fears, lust, guilt, and anger, we can repulse or replace the enemy’s darts, which are his evil thoughts, with God’s thoughts, His truths. For example, even when Satan seeks to tempt us by putting a guilt trip on us by telling us that God will not accept us or our prayers because of our sins, we should quickly refocus our minds on God’s views (truths) versus Satan’s views (lies). This is the science of overcoming with the truth that has been practiced by God’s true servants over the years. Such are the thoughts that are found in the minds of true champions.

Hence, “When Satan comes to tell you that you are a great sinner, look up to your Redeemer and talk of His merits. That which will help you is to look to His light. Acknowledge your sin, but tell the enemy that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ and that you may be saved by His matchless love.” Ibid., 36.

New Outlook

Believers today need a new outlook on how to successfully live the Christian life, and more and more I am becoming convicted that Enoch’s experience must be ours. Also, it seems as though the Lord has been doing His best to convince me that this is the answer. Interestingly enough, about the time I was writing this, I came across a message board outside of a church on which was posted the following words: “Exercise Every Day, Walk With God.”

Obviously these words caught my attention. Not only was the message in direct harmony with the truth being advocated in this series, but also the advice actually makes a lot of sense. Anyone interested in health will agree that exercise is extremely important to good health, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Therefore, the application of this truth in the spiritual realm surely must also hold true. If we want to gain the benefits of true spiritual rejuvenation and growth, we must engage in the act of exercising spiritually or “walking with God.” Hence, like Enoch, we, too, must learn to walk with God on a daily basis in order to be spiritually healthy.

A Shield

In growing up, many people have experiences that cause certain character and personality defects to develop. Inherited and cultivated traits of character often linger. Some of these traits are difficult to deal with in adulthood, and sometimes even hinder our service to God. One of these traits is a fearful spirit. As we grow into adulthood, we often find that little things which caused us to fear and tremble as children may still affect us as adults. Yes, we may have outgrown some of them, but others hang on like pieces of iron filings attracted to a magnet.

If, as children, we were taught to pray and think of God often, and always believe that we were not alone, many of the wrong things we did and many of the temptations we yielded to would not have conquered us. Also, many of the things we feared, such as being alone in a dark room, or hearing strange sounds, may not have affected us. If we were taught and encouraged as children to believe that we are not alone, that God is with us, we may have overcome many fears early in life. Unfortunately, however, this has not been the experience in most cases. Many still need this outlook in their adulthood, when it should have been developed already.

Challenges of Life

All of us are confronted with problems, difficulties, trials, and tests. Some of these various challenges may be in the form of the demands of life that the world places upon us. For example, some people are afraid of losing their jobs. They are scared that if they lose their jobs now, in a time when they are in debt, they will lose everything. They see no hope for themselves and are usually overcome by discouragement and stress. Such fearful and negative thinking was developed early in life. Many adults simply bring it over from their childhood.

However, if we can learn to pray more often and to believe that we are not alone—that God is with us, that angels are with us—many things we fear, as well as many things we do that are wrong, we would not yield to, because we believe that there is an all-seeing eye beholding our every move, ready to supply grace. But for convenience sake we often let go of this thought. We act as though to keep a sense of God’s presence puts us in a straight jacket. Hence, this is a major reason why Enoch’s experience is not as common as it ought to be. But, say the Scriptures, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.

Independent Spirit

Most of us want to do our own thing. We want to be too independent. We want to rule and run our own lives in a manner that pleases us, even if it is contrary to the will of our all-knowing Creator. But we are warned: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd [strive] with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” Isaiah 45:9.

Too often many fool themselves into believing that they are wise enough to solve all their problems and to provide for their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Yet, such pride and stubbornness has brought them trouble and disappointment time and time again.

In the hearts of such persons, “self” or “mammon” still reigns. Christ is not yet permitted to take full control of their lives. He is left out of major decisions. He is still kept at the door of their hearts. However, most of these individuals are fully aware that all wisdom and power is found in Christ, and in man is found weakness and failure. Thus we are wisely admonished: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.

Evidence of Love

Over the years, the devil has created such a bad concept of God in the minds of some that they believe God is a hard, harsh judge. They believe that God is watching down from heaven ready to “zap” anyone who makes a wrong move. But we know better. We know that the opposite is true; God is love. 1 John 4:8. We know this, not only because the holy Bible tells us so, but also because the evidences of the Creator’s great and overwhelming love can be clearly seen all around us if we look for them. Yes, we can believe that God is love, and benefit from the thought that He is indeed watching over us to help us.

This belief will help us to walk right with God at all times. It will also help us to represent the truth under all circumstances fearlessly and boldly. It will even help us to face the difficulties of life, whether bills, people, loneliness, sorrows, unfavorable circumstances, persecution, or even a consciousness of our sinful traits of character. We will face every challenge and difficulty of life with boldness and fearlessness. We will also be prepared to stand up, like Luther, against the enemies of truth. This we will gladly do because we know that we are not standing by ourselves: Somebody bigger than you or me is at our sides. Someone who is more powerful than anyone else is present to help us along the way. If we can believe this, we too will be champions of truth.

Teach the Children

We need to teach our children these things because what we ourselves may not have gained during childhood, hopefully we can impart to them and to others right now, before it is too late: “Only the sense of God’s presence can banish the fear that, for the timid child, would make life a burden. Let him fix in his memory [memorize] the promise, ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.’ Psalm 34:7. Let him read that wonderful story of Elisha in the mountain city, and, between him and the hosts of armed foemen, a mighty encircling band of heavenly angels. Let him read how to Peter, in prison and condemned to death, God’s angel appeared; how, past the armed guards, the massive doors and great iron gateway with their bolts and bars, the angel led God’s servant forth in safety. Let him read of that scene on the sea, when to the tempest-tossed soldiers and seamen, worn with labor and watching and long fasting, Paul the prisoner, on his way to trial and execution, spoke those grand words of courage and hope: ‘Be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you. . . . For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.’ In the faith of this promise Paul assured his companions, ‘There shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.’ So it came to pass. Because there was in that ship one man through whom God could work, the whole shipload of heathen soldiers and sailors was preserved. ‘They escaped all safe to land.’ Acts 27:22–24, 34, 44.

Given for a Purpose

“These things were not written merely that we might read and wonder, but that the same faith which wrought in God’s servants of old might work in us. In no less marked a manner than He wrought then will He work now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His power.

“Let the self-distrustful, whose lack of self-reliance leads them to shrink from care and responsibility, be taught reliance upon God. Thus many a one who other¬wise would be but a cipher in the world, perhaps only a helpless burden, will be able to say with the apostle Paul, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’ Philippians 4:13.” Education, 255, 256.

Promise of Angels

Many people are scared or afraid of everything. Afraid to speak, afraid to get involved in any activity, afraid to do something by themselves that they may be sent to do, afraid to venture out and take chances, afraid to do a particular chore because they do not believe they could ever do it right. Not only afraid to do anything, but also afraid of anything that could possibly happen. There is only one remedy for such victims of fear, be they children, youth, or adults. Remember the inspired promise uttered by the psalmist David: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7.

Yes, we are promised that the angel of the Lord encampeth around those who fear Him. Therefore, let us believe it and “see” in our mind’s eye that we are not alone. It will make a difference in our lives. If we believe this, we will fear no evil. We can then say like David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” Psalm 23:4.

The Spirit of Prophecy says: “As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth, no other influence can equal the sense of God’s presence. ‘All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’ He is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.’ Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was Joseph’s shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt.” Education, 255.

This was the mind of Joseph, another hero for God. God has given us glimpses into the thoughts of some of His heroes, and in every case when they did great things, they believed that they were not alone. In these victorious experiences, they believed that they had a Companion with them, protecting and helping them. Even when Joseph refused to fall into sin, it was not because he was just seeing Potiphar’s wife; he saw God. Therefore, “To the allurements of temptation his [Joseph’s] answer was steadfast: ‘How . . . can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Genesis 39:9. Such a shield, faith, if cherished, will bring to every soul.” Ibid.

[All emphasis added.]

To be continued . . .

Pastor Patrick Herbert is the senior pastor of the Tucker-Norcross Adventist Church and Director of the Gilead Institute of America, a medical missionary evangelistic training institution located in Norcross, Georgia. He holds a Doctorate in religion and speaks and writes on a wide range of religious and health topics. He may be contacted by e-mail at: gilead.net@usa.net.

One Day at a Time, Part II

From Hebrews 2:18 we know that sufferings are the sufferings of temptation: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” That was how Jesus’ character was developed. It was there in the wilderness of temptation where the Holy Spirit led Him, out with the wild beasts and without food or drink or shelter. He was left there where Satan was able to meet Him face to face, tempting Him with misquoted Scripture, testing His faith, and testing His desires for the things of the world. (See Mark 1:13–15; The Desire of Ages, 114–131.) That is where Jesus’ character was developed. Then, throughout the rest of His life, as the devil met Him step-by-step, He conquered every trial and was a little stronger. Conversely, every time we fail, we are a little weaker.

The children of Israel failed their very first test. They hardly even knew it was a test. So many times our great tests we do not recognize as tests, like the people who were following Gideon. When they came up to the river and lapped the water, they did not realize they were being tested. But God was testing their hearts and testing their fidelity. (See Judges 7:4–7.)

So many times it is the little things of life that test the real character. Thus, it was that way back when Moses was called to lead out the children of Israel. God had revealed to the leaders of Israel that Moses was the man whom He had called. He had put him there in Pharaoh’s household to give him an education. Moses was not quite ready spiritually, but neither were the children of Israel. God tested them, and Moses went out and did the best he could. He was not perfect, of course.

When Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, his heart went out for the Israelites. As their defender and protector under God, he put his job and his career on the line, trusting everything to the children of Israel. He slew that Egyptian and delivered his people from the tyranny that this Egyptian was inflicting upon them. (See Exodus 2:11, 12.) Moses was not satisfied to just protect the Israelites; he wanted to help them to help themselves. The next day he went back to the slave people, one of whom he was choosing to become. “And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ Then he said, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ ” Exodus 2:13, 14. They were tested. They were expressing the thoughts of the whole congregation of Israel, and they failed their first test. God did not leave them, although He left them for a while because they had rejected His leadership.

He led Moses out and developed his character for 40 years, but 40 years later Moses returned. He came back a little older and wiser. No longer did he have the kingly robes; no longer did he have all of his youth. He was older; he had less riches; he had less prestige; he was less recognized now than he had once been, but he was the same man.

God Does Not Change

God did not change His plan simply because the people did not like it at first. He gave them another opportunity. Moses returned, and this time he came not with a sword, but with a shepherd’s staff. Shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Moses first called the leaders of Israel and said, “God is going to redeem you,” and they told the people so they all knew God’s plans. (See Exodus 4:28–31.)

Then Moses, with Aaron his brother, went and performed some signs in front of Pharaoh. Pharaoh became upset, and he commanded, “The people are lazy. Give them more work to do.” And so he made them work with hardship. He did not provide their straw. (Exodus 5:1–19.)

The people got upset again. They came to Moses and said, “Moses, what are you doing to us? You came to free us, but you are giving us more work. Now look at the mess we are in.” (Verses 20–23.) They were not able to go through a little trial, trusting in the Lord to bring them through. They failed their second test.

Every test they failed led them to fail the next test, but God kept coming back, giving them opportunity after opportunity. When you fail the Lord, the most wonderful thing in the world is to have another opportunity to succeed.

Are you glad the Lord does not leave you when you fail? How wonderful that is! It gives you another opportunity to succeed, but the next opportunity is just a little different, a little harder many times. It comes in a little different way, but there it is, all unexpected; while you are going about your daily activities, there is the opportunity.

Count It A Joy

In James 1:2–4, we know, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” This is God’s great purpose for every one of us. “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children.” Education, 18.

As it was with the people of Noah’s day and with the children of Israel, so God is doing today. He is coming soon, much sooner than any of us can imagine. We are going to awaken one day to the startling realization that all the days of peace and prosperity are behind us, and we are in the time of final events. Then we are going to question whether or not our characters are ready. It will be too late then. The character takes a process of time to develop. Today is the day that we have to develop character, not tomorrow. Today Jesus is testing us to see if we will stand. He is giving us opportunity to develop our characters, and today is the only day we will ever have.

Jesus said that many people believe that they are His disciples—those who have eaten and drunk in His presence, partaken of the Lord’s Supper and listened to the words of God being spoken week by week, day by day—and that they are saved because they have followed all the rituals. In Luke 13:23, someone came to Jesus asking, “Lord, are there only going to be a few people saved? Certainly God’s grace is sufficient for all. Are there only going to be a few people saved?” He had been listening to Jesus’ sermons, and the more he listened, the more he became concerned. It sounded like there were not going to be a lot of people saved, so he had to know the answer to this question.

Jesus said, “Strive to enter in through the narrow gate, for many, I say, will seek to enter but will not be able to. When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence.’ ” Verses 24–26. What do You mean You do not know us? We partook of the Lord’s Supper. We read the Bible and drank of the spiritual drink just like the children of Israel did there in the wilderness. You taught in our streets. We heard Your representatives speak week after week.

“But He will say unto you, ‘I tell you I do not know who you are. I do not know where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” Verses 27–30.

How many today, like the Hebrews who left Egypt and the workers in Noah’s day, are professing to be followers of God, professing to be His people, professing a religious experience, but they are not going through the character development necessary for heaven; they are not conquering day by day each and every trial that God allows to come upon them? In heaven there will not be one jarring word spoken. There will not be one unkind remark, not one proud thought.

One Day

As I look at myself, I have to ask again, “How will I ever make it?” But I have learned the answer. God asks me to simply live one day at a time. Just today. Every day He gives me a clean sheet, and He says, “This is your opportunity. This day is your opportunity.” He gives me that one day to work on my character. That is all I need to do. I do not have to take care of tomorrow’s problems or the next day’s problems or next week’s problems.

Some people say, “I do not think I can live a life like this. I cannot do it. I just do not know how long I can last. I do not know how much more of this I can take.”

And God says, “Just try to take what there is today. Just try to last today. Survive today. That is all that is required of you.”

God is the One who will renew our strength each day. We will never run out of strength as long as we live one day at a time. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the promise is given, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it].” God has promised to renew our strength day by day. 11 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Ellen White gave much counsel regarding this:

“We need to trust in Jesus daily, hourly. He has promised that as our day is, our strength shall be. By His grace we may bear all the burdens of the present and perform its duties. But many are weighed down by the anticipation of future troubles. They are constantly seeking to bring tomorrow’s burdens into today. Thus a large share of all their trials are imaginary. For these, Jesus has made no provision. He promises grace only for the day. He bids us not to burden ourselves with the cares and troubles of tomorrow.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 200.

“The Christian life is a battle and a march. It is to work for today and not for tomorrow. It is to do the duties of today; it is, when you rise in the morning, to think, now I am wholly dependent upon God, and I will ask him to take care of me; and when I ask him to take care of me today, I believe that he will do so. I will lay my burden of care, and my troubles at the feet of Jesus, and he will gather them up. You must trust in his love; and if he has given you a small work, take that up, and do it today; and if you have been faithful in doing that little work today, tomorrow you will be capable of bearing a greater responsibility, and of doing a greater work; and he will give you a greater work and responsibility to bear on the morrow.” The Signs of the Times, January 31, 1878.

“We have only to live one day at a time, and if we get acquainted with God, he will give us strength for what is coming tomorrow, grace sufficient for each day, and every day will find its own victories, just as it finds its trials. We shall have the power of the Highest with us; for we shall be clad with the armor of Christ’s righteousness. We have the same God that has worked for his people in ages past. Jesus stands by our side, and shall we falter?—No, as the trials come, the power of God will come with them. God will help us to stand in faith on his word, and when we are united, he will work with special power in our behalf.” Review and Herald, April 29, 1890.

“We are to live only one day at a time. We do not have to do the work of a life-time in a few hours. We need not look into the future with anxiety; for God has made it possible for us to be overcomers every day, and he will give needed grace, that we may be conquerors. I am glad we have only a day at a time in which to work. We should not undervalue its responsibilities, and devote it to the service of the enemy.” Ibid., March 26, 1889.

You see, the children of Israel were always looking to the future, but the little trials that came each day they did not even recognize as great tests of their lives. Sometimes the greatest tests of our lives come in so subtly and so quietly we do not recognize them. We just slip into some transgression, some hasty speech, some impatience, and we have failed the test of that day. We do not recognize it.

Do you know what the great test was for the children of Israel when Jesus came? The great test was when those lowly shepherds came and announced the Messiah. They did not recognize it. It was just a baby there in Bethlehem, and these were some ignorant, uneducated shepherds that were coming with the message. Who were they? If God really had a message, certainly it would come through the leaders. But that was their test. That was the great test of the children of Israel. Because they failed that test, they were given another test, which they later failed with Anna and Simeon in the temple. And then, a year or two later, they failed the test when the wise men came. After failing the third test, they were ready to fail the next one when John the Baptist came. Every test failed led them to fail the next one. `

God has a test for you and me today. We may not recognize it, but I guarantee that there is some test for us today. That is the test of eternity. It is the daily tests that come today that develop our characters for all eternity. “We should not spend it [the day] in arraying ourselves in fashionable attire, in decorating our homes as if we were to be permanent dwellers upon the earth. We should employ its moments in trading with our intrusted [sic] talents, in using our ability to glorify God, instead of glorifying ourselves. Our whole study should be how we may win the approbation of God. If we are doing His will, with an eye single to His glory, we shall be able to say, ‘ “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” [Job 19:25.] Though heart and flesh should fail, Jesus lives to be my strength and my portion forever.’ One who is ever faithful and true among those who are changeable and false, will be our stay, and will prosper us in all we undertake. We shall find, as we seek to please God, that there is One who is working for us, even He whose name is ‘Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.’ [Isaiah 9:6.]” Ibid.

“The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to co-operate with Him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication. Our Saviour is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to His faithful ones. Gladly He grants them the blessings they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.” The Acts of the Apostles, 532.

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.

Learning to Walk With God, Part IV

Remember that obedience to all of God’s holy laws and adherence to His divine will in all things must be combined with our faith; for, say the Scriptures, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:20. Therefore, besides trusting in God’s mercy, love, and divine presence, we also need to follow Christ by constantly communing with God and decisively obeying His holy Word. Only thus can we truly become heroes for God. Then God will walk and talk with us as He did with Enoch. Hence, we are told: “Enoch’s walk with God was not in a trance or a vision, but in all the duties of his daily life.” Gospel Workers, 51.

If we, like Enoch, are prayerful and faithful in all our duties of life, the Lord will work for us much more than we have ever seen Him work for us in the past. We need to believe that we are not alone, that Christ is at our side through every trial, every test, every challenge, every duty, and every circumstance in life. We must see Him with us at all times by utilizing our spiritual eyes or the eyes of faith. This makes communing with Him easier.

But, like Enoch, we, too, must faithfully do all our duties and strive to obey God’s will. Otherwise, keeping a vision of the Lord’s presence with us would be useless. If we, however, visualize the Lord with us and endeavor to use this vision to help us to constantly commune with Him and trust in Him, we will quickly learn that a sense of God’s presence will actually strengthen and encourage us to make firm decisions and earnest efforts to obey God.


The children of God have often gained victories simply because they envisioned something in their mind’s eye that others did not see. Therefore, we need to use our imaginations. God has given them to us for a good purpose. The imagination can help, as well as it can hinder. But we must believe that no matter what problem we face, it is never too big for God. The reason the Lord destroyed the antediluvians was because “Every imagination of the thoughts of [their] heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. They used their imaginations for the wrong reason. However, if God’s Word is telling us what is happening around us, that we are not alone, then we have to see this truth in our mind’s eye or in our imaginations, and make it a part of our lives. This will make a big difference in how we face life. We must now teach ourselves and our children to use our imaginations wisely before the end-time crisis comes. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18.

Doing Away with Worry and Sin

Sometimes we wonder what lessons can be taught to our children when we share different Bible stories with them. One of the best lessons we can impart to the minds of children, and even imprint upon our own minds, is the lesson that they (and we) are not alone. This lesson will affect every phase of their (and our) lives thereafter.

When we consider different incidents in the Bible where men of God gained victories because they believed that God was with them, we usually find that our faith is strengthened. We begin to believe that we, too, can become conquerors and champions for God. We begin to realize that many who went before us also encountered problems and temptations, and through much prayer and faith they overcame. Let us remember that frustration and worry are supposed to be strange and foreign for true children of God, and sinning is supposed to be a dying habit or a passing experience for all Christians.

“Many who profess to be Christ’s followers have an anxious, troubled heart because they are afraid to trust themselves with God. They do not make a complete surrender to Him, for they shrink from the consequences that such a surrender may involve. Unless they do make this surrender they cannot find peace.” The Ministry of Healing, 480, 481.

Sometimes we do not want to remember that God is watching us all the time. Usually the reason is because we want more freedom to do our own thing. We want to be free from God. So our imaginations are filled with the thought that we are alone; we are free—free from God. But when we come up against a real challenge and we need the Good Shepherd to be with us, we then have problems remembering Him and trusting in Him. That is why we often see our challenges so huge in front of us. This, of course, is our fault. We have left God out of our thoughts too much. This we have done for our own selfish reasons, and now when we are confronted with trials and tests, we lack confidence in the thought that God is with us. We believe that we are alone. Thus, we find no peace. None can deny that this defeating and self-destroying practice needs to be changed.

We must know what we really want: do we really want to serve God, or are we trying to serve God and mammon? We have to decide! If we decide we want to serve God and to be all for Him, there can be no room for conveniently leaving God out of anything in our lives. We must ever keep God in our thoughts. Thus, when faced with challenges, we will pray and have one thought standing out boldly, clearly, firmly, and strongly, and that is, “I am not alone.” Such a person cannot fail.

Jesus did not say or do anything He did not want His Father to hear or to see. As a result, He constantly communed with God and trusted Him. Thus, when up against challenges, He was assured of His Father’s help. His heart was fixed on the thought that He was not alone, that His Father was with Him. Likewise, all God’s children need to have the mind of Christ: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.

God Will Provide

“There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world’s standard. They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs. Thus their character is marred and their life made a weariness. The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ Worry is blind and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way pre¬pared to bring relief. ‘No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ Matthew 11:30; Psalm 84:11.

“Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.

“The faithful discharge of today’s duties is the best preparation for tomorrow’s trials. Do not gather together all tomorrow’s liabilities and cares and add them to the burden of today. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ Matthew 6:34.

“Let us be hopeful and courageous. Despondency in God’s service is sinful and unreasonable. He knows our every necessity. To the omnipotence of the King of kings our covenant-keeping God unites the gentleness and care of the tender shepherd. His power is absolute, and it is the pledge of the sure fulfillment of His promises to all who trust in Him. He has means for the removal of every difficulty, that those who serve Him and respect the means He employs may be sustained. His love is as far above all other love as the heavens are above the earth. He watches over His children with a love that is measureless and everlasting.

“In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, have faith in God. He is working out His will, doing all things well in behalf of His people. The strength of those who love and serve Him will be renewed day by day.” Ibid., 481, 482. [Emphasis added.]

We must learn what it means to have faith in God. Despite our circumstances, we must believe that when we are striving to do God’s will, He is on our side to protect and defend us, and to grant us the victory over all things. We must realize that everything that comes our way is carefully scrutinized by the Lord ahead of time, and that He does not permit anything (good or evil) to come our way unless He Himself is near and available to provide His strength and support. Thus, difficulties, including those that threaten our happiness or even our lives, are seen as blessings by the true and mature saints of God, those who, like Enoch, learn to walk with God.

For Our Good

“Each fiery trial is God’s agent for their [Christ’s followers] refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided.” The Desire of Ages, 306.

Like the three Hebrew youth who were placed in the fiery furnace in Babylon (Daniel 3:19–27), we, too, must learn to accept that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. That is, we must learn to believe that “all things” (whether positive or negative) are really for our good and will always turn out in our favor in the end. Like these three champions of God, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, we, too, must become fully conscious of the fact that we have at our side “the form” of One “like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25.

Indeed, the experience of all true Christians is that we are not alone. Like the psalmist David, we, too, can bravely say: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1, 4.

There is no need for us to worry about anything; instead there is a great need for us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10. We must always remember that “without faith it is impossible to please [God].” Hebrews 11:6. Therefore, we must trust in God and believe that He will always bless us in the end as we strive to do His will; we must believe that all our prayers will eventually be answered. Remember that worry and sin will surely deny us of the presence and blessings that only God can give. Surely, none of us can afford to be without divine help and strength or any of God’s appointed privileges and gifts. Therefore, no true Christian today should fail to learn exactly what it means to walk with God, as did faithful Enoch.

Our Source of Wisdom and Peace

Many feel that they are not equipped to do the Master’s bidding. Many times we hear of individuals saying that they just do not have what it takes to minister unto others. We also hear of those who claim that they do not know what to do when faced with different tasks and of those who say that they do not know how to carry out the will of God. Yet we are told that wisdom is a virtue that none should lack. The Scriptures say: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5–8.

Wisdom (which comes from God) provides us with a sense of confidence, assurance, and peace. Such beautiful benefits can only come from God. Our heavenly Father has designed different means whereby His children can acquire this virtuous gift: a true and accurate knowledge of God’s Word, divinely-appointed experience, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Since “wisdom is the principal thing” and “happy is the man that findeth wisdom,” it is the Master’s will that all His children be wise. Proverbs 4:7; 3:13. Thus, we read: “He is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the help they need. He will give them the wisdom which their varied necessities demand.

“Said the tried apostle Paul: ‘He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take plea¬sure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’ 11 Corinthians 12:9, 10.” Ibid., 482. [Emphasis added.]

God’s grace is sufficient for us; however, to really benefit from such abundant grace, we must constantly commune with God and ever keep Him close to us. We must, like Enoch, walk with God. Thus, we can be assured, not only of perfect wisdom, but also of perfect peace. Note: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3. [Emphasis added.]

Let us take the time to memorize this verse. It has become very important to me. I have found in my own experience that this verse is quite beneficial and encouraging from day to day. Furthermore, since I know that this verse was not recorded in God’s Word just for me, I believe that many others can benefit from it today and in the future, if they, too, will recall it to mind frequently.

Perfect Peace

Let us consider the words, “perfect peace.” Do you know what is perfect peace? It is peace without flaw or reservation. This, of course, seems foreign to the inhabitants of this sinful, violent world. Unfortunately, it also is foreign to some professed Christians. Yes, we may feel somewhat okay, but a little anxiety is still present, a little bit of fear. We are not too sure of ourselves or of our situation, yet we may say that we are okay. God, however, is saying that He wants to give all of us “perfect peace.” He wants to give us this gift in this life, and not just in the life to come.

Perfect peace means no uncertainty at all; it is a state of perfect assurance. This blessing is available and possible to all who keep their minds “stayed” on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3); that is, to all who maintain within their minds a sense of God’s presence, those who constantly talk to God and trust in Him. Even though such individuals may be confronted with trials and tests, instead of seeing the problem by itself, they see the Lord either in front of it, behind it, at the side of it, or surrounding it. In other words, they truly believe that God is in control. Such persons do not see things just isolated or by themselves, for they strongly believe that they are not alone and that they never have to handle anything by themselves. It is not just they and the problem anymore; it is they and the Lord, plus the problem, which they talk to God about as soon as it arises. Such Christians have learned how to truly walk with God!

Furthermore, these children of perfect peace are doers of God’s Word. In the strength of the Lord they struggle to gain the victory over sin and Satan. They see that God’s presence in their lives is for a purpose. He is there to help them in their battle to overcome sin and sinfulness in every form, be it in the form of the devil, the world, or the flesh.

This is the kind of outlook God is trying to get us to develop by allowing us to have problems. If we do not have difficulties and challenges, we will not learn how to include this new thought in our carnal minds. We were born with a mind devoid of God; it does not think about God; it does not know God; it is separated from Him; and it must learn to include Him. So the challenges in life are for us to learn and to practice putting Him into every picture we see in our minds.

Minds on the Lord

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Isaiah 26:3. [Emphasis added.]

According to this verse, this experience of “perfect peace” is obtained only if our minds are “stayed” on the Lord. This view of abiding in Christ, or allowing our minds to dwell on heavenly and holy things, must not be allowed to die out for convenience sake, but we must strive to keep these things within our hearts at all times and under all circumstances of life, good and bad alike.

Joseph’s mind stayed on God, even when the carnal nature may have wanted to say, “Let me forget God for now; I can bring Him back in my thoughts afterwards.” Instead, his mind was stayed on the Lord even when his emotions or passions were under attack, whether from the wickedness of his brothers or from the seductive attempts of Potiphar’s wife. Said he while under the test of the latter circumstance, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9.

Enoch, Elijah, Moses, Luther, Joseph, Peter, Paul, and many others continually communed with God and maintained a sense of His presence. This protected them from sinning and kept them steadfast in the Lord during their trials. These men of God not only pictured the Lord in their minds and trusted in His mighty power, they also prayed continually for help and cooperated with Him in resisting sin. In return for their prayerfulness, faith, and efforts, God gave them the victory over every temptation and sin.
These men believed that this Almighty Being they saw in their mind’s eye or thoughts was going to help them, and give them wisdom and victory. In this way, God was not just a notion or a fantasy to them; He was a real person with character and purpose.
To all His children He is there to help. He loves us with an everlasting love; He cares for us; He is all powerful, and nothing can withstand Him. This is He with whom we must commune, trust, and see in our mind’s eye.

It is my prayer that we will truly experience what it means to walk with God. Let us therefore develop the mind of Christ, the mind of patri¬archs, prophets, apostles, reformers, and the saints of old. It is a mind of truth and trust that qualifies men of ancient and modern times to be described as champions of truth. May we, too, see and believe with all our hearts that the Lord is with us, morning, noon, and night—every second, every minute, every hour of every day.

We need to encourage continual prayerfulness, trust, and the precious thought that God is with us. May we implement this practice in our lives from this day forward. Then more and more we will see how God makes every problem diminish or disappear when we place it in the Master’s hands. Yes, may we truly believe with all our hearts that because of God’s abundant grace and love for us, we are not alone. Like Enoch, we, too, must not see ourselves alone amidst the duties and challenges of life, but instead we must always walk with God.

Fellow Christians, let us walk with God by praying constantly and resting in the sure promise of our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ: “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:20.

Pastor Patrick Herbert is the senior pastor of the Tucker-Norcross Adventist Church and Director of the Gilead Institute of America, a medical missionary evangelistic training institution located in Norcross, Georgia. He holds a Doctorate in religion and speaks and writes on a wide range of religious and health topics. He may be contacted by e-mail at: gilead.net@usa.net.

Obstacles, Pt. I

In Zechariah 4:7, it was predicted that a great mountain was going to become a plain: “Who [art] thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel [thou shalt become] a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [thereof with] shoutings, [crying], Grace, grace unto it.” Read the following two Scriptures and then see if you can figure out to what all three of these Scriptures are referring, because they are actually all talking about a very similar subject that we will study in this article.

Read next about a prediction of the work of John the Baptist who was to come to prepare the way for the Messiah. This passage was written 700 years before the time of John the Baptist. The New Testament says, and John the Baptist himself says, that he came to fulfill this prophecy: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of Jehovah; make straight a way in the desert, a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill shall be brought low.” Isaiah 40:3, 4. Now, about what is that talking? Then verse 4 continues: “And it shall be the steep ground for a level place, and the rough places shall become a plain.”

This almost sounds like the construction of an interstate highway, where the mountains and the valleys are smoothed out so the road is straight and level, and travelers may drive their vehicles over 70 miles per hour on it.

Jesus talked about this very same principle in Matthew 21. Skeptics and non-believers, to criticize Christians and to try to prove that the Bible is not true, have used this passage. All they have proved, though, is that they do not know what the Bible is saying. “And early in the morning, He returned to the city, and He was hungry. And seeing one fig tree in the way, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves. And He said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you from now on forever.’ And immediately the fig tree was withered away. And the disciples, seeing, were astonished, saying, ‘How quickly the fig tree has dried up!’ And Jesus, answering, said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only what is done to the fig tree shall you do, but also if to this mountain you shall say, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” it shall be done. And all things whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.’ ” Matthew 21:18–21.

Spiritual Mountains

Skeptics and scoffers have said to Christians that they have never seen or heard of any mountains being cast into the sea. They will argue that the Rocky Mountains are still where they were, and the Sierras are still where they were. Mount Everest and the Himalayan Mountains are still where they were. The Andes are still where they were. They say that even though Jesus said that if we believe and pray, then the mountains are going to be cast into the sea, they do not believe, because the mountains are all still there, and they have never seen this happen. The problem is, they do not know what the Bible is really saying.

Jesus was not talking about literal mountains, just as Zechariah 4:7 was not talking about a literal mountain. Isaiah 40 was not talking about a literal road; John the Baptist never built highways.

Well, then, what are these texts talking about? They are talking about the obstacles—the difficulties, the trials that are in front of you that are like a mountain. You cannot get over it or around it or through it, and you are stuck. So, what are you going to do? The Bible is full of stories where God has illustrated the experience of His children in past ages who were hemmed in with all kinds of obstacles, trials, and troubles.

Jesus was talking about a spiritual mountain or difficulty or obstacle in your life. He was not talking about the Rocky Mountains or the Andes Mountains. He was talking about the spiritual obstacles in front of you that you do not know how you will get around. You do not know how you are going to overcome them. He said, “If you will pray and believe, these apparent impossibilities that are in front of you can be removed.”

Obstacles of the Christian

What are the obstacles that face the Christian? The Christian is faced with both external and internal obstacles. We will first look at the external obstacles. They are the easiest ones. The internal obstacles are the harder ones.

The external obstacles that the Christian faces are first of all what the Bible calls “the world.” The New Testament has a lot of discussion about this. 1 John 2:15–17 gives the obstacle that the Christian has in the world: “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Because everything that is in the world—the lust (that is, the craving) of the flesh and the craving of the eyes and the ostentatiousness (or the pride of life)—is not from the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away and the craving of it, but the one doing the will of God remains forever.”

So, the external obstacle is of the world, and what is in the world? It is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Incidentally, these three temptations are the three temptations that the devil brought to Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 4.

The lust of the flesh is the sensual temptation, temptations in regard to sexual passions and appetites for food and drink and other substances that are sinful. Now, it is not a sin to eat and drink, but you can sin eating and drinking.


Then the second temptation, the lust of the eyes, is the desire to make a display. Remember what the devil did to Jesus? He told Him, “Come up here on the temple and cast Yourself down. The Lord will protect You. He has announced Your Messiahship. Everybody will believe You, because You will be known all over the world as the One who jumped off the temple and did not get killed.” That is the temptation to presumption.

Sensual temptation is the first temptation; the devil comes to everyone with that. It is usually successful, but if the devil does not succeed in getting you to fall for sensual temptations, then he is going to come to you with the second temptation of presumption.

Ellen White wrote that when the devil comes to people with the temptation of presumption, he is successful nine times out of ten! (See Testimonies, vol. 4, 44.) We do not have a very good average when we are dealing with temptations of presumption.

Presumption is when people claim the promises of God, but they do not fulfill the conditions. It is one of the most common sins in the Christian world today. There are millions of Christians who claim God as their Father; who claim Jesus as their Saviour; but they are not doing the will of God. They say, “We are going to heaven,” but the Bible says that they are not.

Jesus said, “Not everyone that says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ is going to enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will come to Me in that day and they will say, ‘Lord, Lord, You have made a mistake! We know that we are saved, because we have cast out demons in Your name. We have prophesied in Your name. We have performed many miracles in Your name.’ Then I will say unto them, ‘I never knew you.’ ” (Matthew 7:21–23.)

Can you imagine what a shock that will be? to be a Christian, to go to church every week, to come right up to the day of judgment, and say, “Lord, I know I am saved,” and have Him respond, “No, I never knew you.” “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Verse 23, last part.

This is the besetting sin of the Christian world today. People think they can be saved while they are breaking God’s Law. The Bible does not teach that.

So, the temptations from the world are lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (that is, the love of the world). I am always amazed at how easy it is for us to fall on the temptation of love of the world. The devil promised Jesus the whole world. He would not take it. But there are people that will fall for just a little piece of real estate—not a piece the size of Wichita or the size of Kansas. If the devil offered you all of the city of Wichita, Kansas, would you be willing to give up eternal life to get the whole city? If he offered you all of Kansas, would you be willing to give up eternal life to get the whole state?

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36. A lot of people are falling for that one today, just as in Jesus’ day. So, the world is the first external temptation.

The Devil

The second external temptation that Christians face is the same one that Jesus faced, and that is the devil. The devil comes to every Christian, every man and every woman, every boy and every girl. The devil comes with various temptations to get you in some way to break the Law of God, because he knows that if you do that, you are on his side. The Bible says, in 1 John 3:8, that everyone who sins is of the devil. And sin is defined in 1 John 3:4: “Sin is the transgression of the law.”

So, if the devil can entice you, seduce you, terrify you, some way get you to sin, you are on his side of the great controversy. That is his whole goal. You are going to lose your soul if you stay there on his side.

Those are the external temptations: the world, with sensuality, presumption, and the love of things, and, then, the devil.

Internal Obstacles

Next we must consider the really bad obstacles that the Christian has to face, and those are the internal obstacles.

If you are not a Christian, you can become a Christian today. In a Christian religion, you do not have to do penance; you do not have to do all kinds of things like that to become part of the body of Christ. You become a Christian by surrendering your will, your mind, to Jesus Christ. If you surrender to Him, and acknowledge Him as your Saviour from sin and as the Lord of your life, then you become a Christian, even if you have not yet been baptized. You can choose to do that right now.

Jesus said, in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you do not do what I say?” So, you cannot call Him Lord and not obey, but if you are a Christian, you have a goal. What is your goal? In 1 John 3:2, we read, “Beloved, now are we the children of God; and it is not yet apparent what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; we shall see Him as He is.” When Jesus appears, we are going to be like Him, so what is your goal, if you are a Christian? Your goal is to be Christlike. Jesus called it the narrow way that leads to eternal life. (See Matthew 7:14.)


Let us think this through. If your goal is to be Christlike but there is something inside of you that is not Christlike, what is your problem? You have an obstacle. Your goal is to go to heaven and have eternal life, but you are not there yet. You have an obstacle that you have to overcome to get there.

You see, anything in your character that is not Christlike is an internal obstacle that you must overcome if you are going to be ready for Jesus to come. Do you understand that concept? It is discussed in 1 John 3:1–3, and it says, in verse 3, “Every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.”

If there is something in your character that is not Christlike, that is an internal obstacle that you have to overcome if you are going to be ready for Jesus to come. And those, of course, are the far more serious obstacles that the Christian has to meet. The internal obstacles are far more difficult and far more serious than the external obstacles.

You see, God has the ability to remove obstacles. God has the ability to take away the devil’s power on the outside, but it would not do any good to take away the external obstacles if the internal obstacles were not removed first. Just think that one through. That is why, before God removes the devil’s power over you on the outside, which will happen when you are taken to heaven, He must first remove the devil’s power over you on the inside.

Those are the obstacles that the Christian has to overcome. Incidentally, not only are there obstacles for individual Christians, but there are obstacles for groups of Christians, for churches. Churches have obstacles to meet too.

Church Obstacles

One of the great obstacles for the church is the obstacle of false teaching, or heretical doctrines. Jesus talked about this a great deal, including in Matthew 24. He said that many false prophets were going to arise, and they were going to deceive many. Whenever you see revival or reformation happening in any church, you will find the devil trying to push off onto that church all kinds of heretical and fanatical doctrines. It never fails.

Do you know from where the greatest obstacles for the church come? Ellen White wrote, “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 122. From where is our greatest danger, our greatest opposition, going to come? It is going to come from professed believers, from other Christians. “How often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement!” Ibid.

“If we hope to wear the crown, we must expect to bear the cross. Our greatest trials will come from those who profess godliness. It was so with the world’s Redeemer; it will be so with his followers. . . . The opposition which Christ received came from his own nation, who would have been greatly blessed had they accepted him. In like manner the remnant church receive opposition from those who profess to be their brethren.” Review and Herald, August 28, 1883.

Does the greatest opposition come from your enemies? No, it comes from the people whom you think are your friends. That is where it is the most dangerous too.

More Trouble

One other question that needs to be addressed before we look at how to deal with these obstacles is a question that many people have in their minds, especially people who have newly become Christians. This is a very perplexing question to many new Christians. Have you ever thought, or heard someone say, “I have given my life to Christ. I have chosen to follow Him, and now I am in more trouble than I have ever been before in my life. When I was out in the world and I was practicing all the sins of the world, I was not having a tenth of the trouble I am having now that I have decided to follow the Lord. What is this?” People are tempted to think that if God is all-powerful, and if He is really leading them, then why are they experiencing so much trouble?

There is a reason for it, and it really is true. When you decide to follow the Lord, you do have more trouble than you had before. Let me explain how that happens and why that happens.

“Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of success.” The Acts of the Apostles, 524.

So, what are the appointed conditions of success? They are trials and obstacles, because there is no other way that God can get you from where you are now to where you need to be. Did you know that God never sends to us a trial that we do not need? Now, that is a hard statement. People can hardly believe that. They can hardly believe that God does not allow trials to come to us that we do not need. They say, “Lord, something is wrong here. Preacher, I do not have enough faith to believe this.” Maybe some of you do not have enough faith to believe it, but that is what inspiration says.

“God’s care for His heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon His children but such as is essential for their present and eternal good. He will purify His church, even as Christ purified the temple during His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon His people in test and trial comes that they may gain deeper piety and greater strength to carry forward the triumphs of the cross.” Ibid., 524, 525.

Trials and obstacles are God’s chosen methods of discipline and the appointed conditions of success, and if you are going through severe trials and obstacles, that means that God has something wonderful in store for you when you get past them. Study your Bible; study the great men of the Bible. I will give you a few examples, which you can study on your own.


The man Joseph is one of the greatest men ever written about in the Bible. He became the Prime Minister of the strongest nation in the world, and he became known worldwide as the savior of the people. Before God exalted him to that high position, did he have to go through some trials, some really severe trials?

Yes, first of all he was sold as a slave, and was taken away from his family when he was about 17 years of age. He was taken to a foreign land where he had to learn a new language, new culture, and new customs. Then, when he became successful, his master’s wife accused him to his master. She first tried to commit adultery with him. He would not do it, so then she accused him to his master, and he was wrongly thrown in jail. As a slave, he had no way to get out of jail, and he spent years there. He would have been in that jail for the rest of his life if the Lord had not delivered him.

Does that sound like a pretty hard trial? That is perhaps a harder trial than some of us have been through. You see, the greater the future and the destiny that God has for you, the greater the trial that He may allow you to go through to get there.


Consider the man David. David is one of the greatest men in the Bible, even though he made some very serious mistakes. Did God allow David to go through a period of trial before He allowed him to become the king of Israel, probably the greatest king that Israel ever had? Yes, David was on the run for his life for about ten years. He was a fugitive, running from here to there, always in danger of being killed. You can read the story in the books of Samuel.


Daniel, also one of the greatest men ever to be recorded in Holy Scripture, was taken captive when he was around 17 years of age too. He was taken to a foreign country where he decided that he was not going to drink alcoholic beverages or eat unclean foods. He risked his life for his convictions when he was just a young man. Read the story in Daniel 1.

But that was just the beginning of the trials and tribulations that Daniel had. Some of the hardest trials he had came when he was an elderly man. He was the Prime Minister of the greatest nation in the world, and the other officials of the government became jealous of him. They decided they would get rid of Daniel, and they determined that the only way to get rid of him, because they could not find any fault in him, was through his religion. So they had a law made that if an individual worshiped anybody other than the king for 30 days, he would be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel had to make a decision. He had always worshiped God publicly in the window of his house, three times a day, and he was tempted to say, “Well, I will close the window today when I pray, and they will not be able to see me.” That was the temptation the devil brought to him. “I will go to my closet, and I will still pray three times a day to the God of heaven, but I will close and lock the door and nobody will hear me. Nobody will be able to arrest me, because they will not know.” But that had not been his practice, and he knew that that would give the impression that he was being obedient. He was not willing to even give the impression that he would worship anybody but the God of heaven, even if it meant being thrown into the lions’ den. God had not told him that He would deliver him! But He did.

God has not told you in advance what He is going to deliver you from either. When you see the obstacle, all you can see is the obstacle. It looms before you just like the lions’ den. Oh, friend, whatever the obstacle, God knows how to deliver you at the right time. But God could never have delivered Daniel from the lions’ den if Daniel had not been faithful, and God cannot deliver you when you meet an obstacle unless you are faithful.

To be continued . . .

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559