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“The Past with A Future---Looking Back to Move Forward Led by God”

2018 Annual Council Sermon

Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

What an enormous privilege to be in Battle Creek, Michigan, as we focus on “The Past with A Future-----Looking Back to Move Forward Led by God.”  The Lord has been leading His people and is about to accomplish His final work through them to proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18 calling people to come out of confusion and into full Bible truth.  The three angels’ messages have at their core the righteousness of Jesus Christ and turning people back to the true worship of God in preparation for Christ’s soon coming. 

As we meet in Battle Creek, many are paying tribute to our pioneers today by wearing 19thcentury-looking clothing— ladies in long dresses and shawls and men in old-fashioned ties and interesting beards. We do this not as an attempt to turn the clock back more than a century, but rather to remember how God led this movement in the past, and to gain confidence that He will continue to do so now and in the future. We are reminded of a powerful promise, found in the book, Life Sketches, page 196, written by Ellen White as she remembered how God led in the early days of this movement. She wrote:  “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, ‘Praise God!  As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader.  We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”

This is one of the primary reasons we are meeting for the 2018 Annual Council in Battle Creek where our church was nurtured and had so many evidences of God’s leading during the formative years of the Advent movement.  We thank Jim Nix, GT Ng, Magdiel Perez Schulz, George Egwakhe, Sheri Clemmer, our GC IT Department, Secretariat, Treasury, many Adventist Heritage Ministry volunteers, and the special LEAD Conference committee that planned the powerful seminars, fascinating tours, interesting presentations, communion services, and the strong mission focus of the last two days. Today will be no different as we emphasize God’s worldwide mission ahead of us and as we review His leading in the past.  

Contemporary society is full of influences that seek to derail and destabilize God’s church from its heaven-entrusted mission of proclaiming prophetic truth in anticipation of Christ’s return.  My message today is for every local church member around the world ……including us here in Battle Creek since we are all local members somewhere.  Let us hold fast the confession of our faith as the pioneers did.  They faced many obstacles and antagonism just as we do.  But let us hold fast our belief in God’s Truth, His Word, and His love for His church.  This church will not fail… and will not fall apart. Your church, God’s church, will go through to the end through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I urge you as local church members wherever you are to plead for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit as we see the world around us disintegrating. God will pour out His Spirit on all who humble themselves and conform their lives to His will as expressed in His Holy Word and His instructions in the Spirit of Prophecy.

1. My fellow church members, stand firm for the biblical truth that the Godhead is constituted by three divine and  equal persons from eternity to eternity.  There are those who may proclaim some aberrant and confusing anti-trinitarian heresy. Our pioneers faced this and were led to a right understanding by the Scripture and the guidance of Ellen White’s writings.  Brothers and sisters around the world, ……hold fast and stand firm for God’s truth!  He is with you. 

2. Fellow church members, there may be some who introduce and flaunt worldliness in personal dress, lifestyle, and conduct in church life and activities.  Brothers and sisters around the world, …….stand firm for God’s simple truth and lifestyle! 

3.  There may be those who overemphasize social issues while downplaying or neglecting biblical truth and its relevance for today’s society.  Yes, there are appropriate social issues we need to address, but always within the context of God’s last-day warning and never at the expense of the larger mission of proclaiming the three angels’ messages and Christ’s righteousness.  Do not allow anything to overshadow God’s last-day message we have been commanded to proclaim.  Brothers and sisters around the world, …….stand firm for God’s truth!….God is with you! Jesus exclaims in Revelation 3:11, “Behold, I am coming quickly!  Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

4. Friends, you may also face those who attempt to neutralize Sabbath-observance and biblical creation.  Brothers and sisters around the world, ……stand firm for God’s Word and His truth that this earth was created in six literal days recently with the Sabbath as God’s creation memorial! Let us “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy!”

5.  Or, some of you may encounter those who show contempt for anyone wanting to live a simple, healthy plant-based lifestyle according to biblical and Spirit of Prophecy counsel.  Brothers and sisters around the world, ……stand firm for God’s truth!

6. Fellow brothers and sisters, some in your local church may manifest a strange independence of spirit leading to disunity……. But there are many in God’s church around the world resisting these attempts and the Lord will prevail! The pioneers faced similar situations, but the same God who guided them is still leading us today.  Cling to God’s Word!  In Revelation 2:25 Christ Himself charges you, “hold fast what you have till I come.”

7. There are influences outside and within the church attempting to change God’s institution of biblical marriage between one man and one woman.  Brothers and sisters around the world, ………stand firm for God’s Word as it confirms biblical marriage, biblical human sexuality, and the biblical family as instituted by God Himself.

8. Friends, there may be those in your local church who show a lack of spiritual respect for church authority.  My brothers and sisters around the world, be of good courage and stand firm for God’s truth! 

9. You may meet some who share disparaging remarks and a disinterest in the Spirit of Prophecy.  Friends, the Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to His last-day remnant church.  Continue to stand firm for God’s Spirit of Prophecy truth!  

10. There may be those who promote unscriptural and unsound methods of church growth revealing a distrust for God’s Word and the inspired counsel………keep resisting these attempts.  The pioneers faced strange challenges, but they were not and you are not alone….God is with you…..hold fast to God’s Word. I Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

11. Brothers and sisters, some discard the unique role of God’s Advent movement in favor of ecumenical influences.  Avoid ecumenical compromises and stand firm for God’s truth!  

12. In some regions of the world, many of you face intense persecution for your biblical faith.  Brothers and sisters, do not feel alone……stand firm for God’s truth!

13. Some in our church attempt to downplay, distort, or even destroy Christ’s provision of righteousness by faith---by denying His justifying and sanctifying power.  However, God’s instruction in Philippians 2:12 and 13 remains relevant to this day……”Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  It is Christ’s righteousness, both justifying and sanctifying righteousness, that works in us as we humbly submit to Him in daily prayer and Bible study.  We are saved by God’s grace through faith alone. Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69, says, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  Christ will reproduce in us His character as we daily surrender our will to Him.  God intends for His remnant people to rely completely on Christ, His righteousness, and His ability to save to the uttermost through His justifying and sanctifying process……all through His righteousness and not ours.  Ellen White indicated in Review and Herald, March 10, 1903, “Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without.  He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory.  The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted.  The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.”    What a privilege to have the assurance of God’s power in our lives! Brothers and sisters around the world, you are not alone……stand firm for God’s truth and His righteousness!

14. There may be others who de-emphasize the distinctive Christ-centered doctrines of the Bible, criticizing God’s prophetic timetable including the pivotal ending of the 2300 day prophecy in 1844…….however, there are many of you in the church who are resisting these attempts…..and you are not alone.  The pioneers faced these issues, but just as He was with them God is with you today.  II Timothy 1:13-14 says, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

15. Faithful brothers and sisters around the world, there are those who collapse under the complications of daily life without allowing God to lead.  They are turned away from our final mission by the distractions of the world.  Do not feel alone……stand firm for God’s truth and look to Jesus in your daily lives as did our pioneers!

16. There may be those in your local church or elsewhere who introduce worldly music and unbiblical worship styles into our churches or spiritual meetings………….however, there are many in the church who are resisting these attempts as did our pioneers in times gone by…..do not feel alone, God is with you.  Hebrews 3:6 says, “…..hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

17. Brothers and sisters, there are those who discourage and….in some instances even forbid…. the wide-circulation and distribution of heaven-inspired books like The Great Controversy.  Ellen White, however, declared her wishes that The Great Controversybe distributed more than any other book she ever produced.  Brothers and sisters around the world, ……stand firm for God’s truth!

18. Church family, there are those in our ranks who disparage our hopeful expectation to be the last generation before Christ’s soon coming.  I ask, “Who would not want to be part of the last generation and see Jesus come in their lifetime?”  What a privilege to realize that Christ wants to come back as soon as possible and we can be ready for His coming and share this hope through complete dependence on Christ……our works will not save us……but dependence on Christ and His justifying and sanctifying righteousness will save us and make us more and more like Him each day.  Brothers and sisters around the world, we are united in our hope of Christ’s soon coming……stand firm for God’s truth!

We have been called to a unique place in history as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  God intends that His church move forward on the pathway to the eternal city led by Christ Himself.  Difficult days lie ahead for God’s remnant as the devil throws everything he can against the forward advance of God’s Advent movement.   We know that the omega is coming which will test all church members to rely completely on God to avoid great and overwhelming deception. 

In the Ellen G White Estate offices at the General Conference headquarters, a large painting called “Christ of the Narrow Way” portrays God’s people moving along a pathway with treacherous surroundings.  Many of you have seen it and have been impressed by how veteran Seventh-day Adventist artist Elfred Lee depicts Ellen White’s vision showing the tribulations and triumphs of God’s last-day remnant church as it moves along the ever-narrowing pathway.  As long as God’s people—both individually and as a united body—keep their eyes fixed on Christ at the front of the pathway, they are safe.  Let us stop looking to each other, stop looking to so-called outside “experts,” stop looking to worldly influences and contemporary business practices, stop looking to errant theological thinking, stop looking to humanly devised church growth methods, and turn your eyes upon Jesus. Jesus Christ is the True Leader of this church and He is the only One who can guide us safely to our heavenly home. 

One of our themes for this 2018 Annual Council is: “Reach the World----Faithfulness to His Prophets.” We can reach the world as we remember how God has worked through His prophets of the Bible and through the work of Ellen G White.  What a time here in Battle Creek to be reminded of those biblical texts which affirm God’s working through His prophets!

II Chronicles 20:20---"….Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established, believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Amos 3:7---"Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”

Today, we remember the biblical landmarks God has left for us all along the way and we determine to take strong courage for the future as He opens the way for His church to fulfill its prophetic mission.  God wants us to “hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering.”  This ongoing Seventh-day Adventist movement has a glorious destiny ahead. In Christ’s name and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we move confidently ahead with our mission -----to announce the second coming of Christ in the context of the three angels’ messages. Hold fast that which you have been given!

God’s evident dealing with the Seventh-day Adventist Church down through history reminds us of His everlasting love and His desire that His people maintain their complete dependence on Him and accomplish what He has asked them to do.  We have much to learn from God’s leading not only in our own church’s history but in God’s leading of His people down through the centuries including the Israelites.  Two familiar Bible stories illustrate the thrilling way God leads His chosen people: 

Joshua 3 indicates that the children of Israel were approaching the Jordan River after wandering in the Sinai Desert for forty years as a judgment against those who had not truly believed God’s Word nor leaned on His power.  It had been a miraculous journey during those years of wandering. 

Patriarchs and Prophets, page 483 reports, “……the host descended to the border of the Jordan. All knew, however, that without divine aid they could not hope to make the passage.  At this time of the year----in the spring season---melting snows of the mountains had so raised the Jordan that the river overflowed its banks, making it impossible to cross at the usual fording places.  God willed that the passage of Israel over the Jordan should be miraculous.”

At times God leads us into difficult or even impossible situations—personally or as a church family—to build our character and inspire faith when we see how He arranges our progress through those difficulties.  God wants us to remember His interventions in our lives, like the children of Israel after the Jordan crossing, to set up landmark memorials to bring glory to Him and not ourselves.  

The priests who carried the ark into the middle of the Jordan stayed there until all had crossed the river. Before the priests left the middle of the river, Joshua called for a representative from each of the twelve tribes to take a large rock from the riverbed to represent their tribe in setting up a memorial.  Joshua 4:6-7 says, “….that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” 

God is calling us to remember what He has done in the past in Battle Creek and throughout the world so that we will have no fear for the future.   We do not make an idol of Battle Creek or other Adventist Heritage Ministry sites, but we give God the glory for His leading and……we remember! It was the purpose of the stone landmark of the Israelites’ crossing to remind them what God had done for His people. This is what we have been doing in Battle Creek since Thursday evening----remembering God’s all-powerful leading!  

However, God intends for us to not only look back but to look forward to what He will do for His remnant church in every local church and community as we hold fast our faith and engage in Revival and Reformation, Mission to the Cities, Comprehensive Health Ministry, Total Member Involvement, and many more mission initiatives as we look forward to and hasten Christ’s soon return. 

In Krasnodar, Russia, last month, I had the privilege of meeting Lyudmila Verlan who runs a Special Needs Ministries outreach called, “Rostok” which means “Tender Plant” in Russian. Lyudmila and her associates are providing a wonderful ministry to those with cerebral palsy, autism, and other special needs.  The Christ-like manner in which Lyudmila approaches the young people is amazing using music, art, exercise, and special educational therapy.  The results are inspiring and blessed by God as Christ’s footsteps are followed!  Support your Special Needs Ministries outreach in your church and territory as part of Total Member Involvement.

Another evidence of God’s leading came this August, in Puebla, Mexico, when I attended a dynamic “small group” evangelism rally for almost 5,000 small group leaders in the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union.  This huge Total Member Involvement rally was marked by the incredible enthusiasm of women and men, young people and older ones all focused on our mission.  They are not distracted by mundane things or side issues, but are fully engaged in soulwinning.  The Holy Spirit’s power is unmistakable.  In 2017, the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union recorded over 15,000 joining the church.  For 2018, they already have about 14,000 baptisms likely increasing to 20,000 by the end of the year.  This is Holy Spirit power….this is Total Member Involvement! This union, like many others around the world, has a focus on the mission of the church. Their theme in Puebla, Mexico, was “Primero la Mision!”  It was thrilling to witness this mission focus as members hold fast their beliefs in God’s Word.  Those precious church members are inspired by God’s leading in the past and what He will do for them in the future.

So, how will our review of the past inspire you for the future?  When you leave here next week, what kind of report will you take back home to the front lines around the globe?  Will you bring a good report or a bad report?  Will you highlight some negative item that may be discussed or will you carry with you the heavenly mission entrusted to each of us as Seventh-day Adventists?  Will you maintain our unique end-time perspective as you make outreach plans for the future?  What kind of a report will you take back from the 2018 Annual Council to inspire God’s people around the world?

It all depends on your outlook.  Since we are today’s spiritual Israel on our journey to heaven along that narrow way with Christ at the head, let’s go back to the Children of Israel and their journey towards the Promised Land.  Forty years before that profound event of crossing the Jordan River into Canaan and setting up the landmark memorial, Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to find out all they could about the land that God had promised to them.  What kind of a report would they bring back?

Turn with me to Numbers 13. In the last part of verse 20, Moses urged them to “Be of good courage.  And bring some of the fruit of the land.”  After forty days, the twelve spies brought back a report.

Verse 23 says they cut a branch of grapes so big it took two of them to carry it in addition to pomegranates and figs.

They reported in verse 27, “…..It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”  It was a good report.  However, as with many reports, there is a negative qualifier that leads to the rest of the story tending to be negative.  In verse 28, ten of the spies reported, “Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…..”  They brought back a bad report.

Then Caleb stepped in and quieted the people, saying in verse 30, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”  However, the ten other spies countered in verse 31 with a bad report saying, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”  They falsely reported that the land devours its inhabitants, which was a lie since they had just said it flowed with milk and honey.  They reported seeing men of great stature and in verse 33 said “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight…..”  They had the “grasshopper complex.”  As you look at your local church, your local conference, field, union, and division, rid yourself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, of the “grasshopper complex.”  Refuse to utter the words, “Oh, it’s so hard to introduce the Bible and spiritual things to people here in our secular, pagan, or non-Christian region.  Our church is so small that no one pays any attention to us.  We’re just like little grasshoppers and why should we try to do anything?”  When you think that way, you bring back a bad report.

Brothers and sisters worldwide, we are not grasshoppers, we are “Seventh-day Adventists” led by Jesus Christ Himself.  

Let’s bring back a good report!  We are God’s remnant people with a distinctive message, mission and name that would identify us as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus”.  Little did the early pioneers who walked the streets of Battle Creek imagine that this movement would grow to encompass the world with almost 21 million members in about 215 countries of this globe.  

As we are led by Christ on the narrow way, we should remember that in those early days of the church, when Bible study was the central feature of the movement, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was primarily led by young people.  I implore our Seventh-day Adventist young people today to stand up for Bible truth and reclaim that great spiritual legacy. Get involved in your local church, in mission outreach and in the strong proclamation of truth through personal and public witness.  Older ones, know your young people.  Encourage them. Train them.  Give the youth work to do and send them into the towns and villages of your territories with programs like “One Year in Mission” and other programs of service and mission.  It was a privilege to be part of the recent July 2018 Global Youth Leaders Congress in Kassel, Germany, organized by our General Conference Youth Ministries Department and division leaders.  It was thrilling to see such committed young spiritual leaders from around the globe filled with a sense of mission and willing to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit in finishing God’s work.  Encourage our young people to have a deep relationship with God through Bible study and prayer…….and then to be completely involved in outreach and service. Avoid the temptation to merely entertain young people, but instead teach them and all members how to be active in service to others.  Don’t succumb to worldly and charismatic influences that seem to be infiltrating our church services by filling people’s minds with music that glorifies self rather than God.  Let’s encourage our spiritual lives by keeping a song of praise to God in our hearts and singing strong hymns and other appropriate songs that lift us to heaven. Help fellow travelers on the narrow way to resist the urge to fasten faith onto the shifting sands of emotional confusion which lead away from solid, Bible truth. Instead, encourage church members to build a foundation upon the solid rock of God’s Word and establish ourselves on a clear “thus saith the Lord” and to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.”

What a privilege it was in September to visit a small evangelistic training center in Mysen, Norway. We had a wonderful experience visiting the staff and students at the Matteson Mission School, a supporting ministry in the Norwegian Union and the Trans-European Division.  Every year this soulwinning center accepts twelve students, training them to be soulwinners for Christ in mission activities.  I was so impressed by their dedication and love for Jesus……their simple, sweet, and humble approach to life…..you could see that Christ ruled their hearts.  I’m proud of our committed young people who focus on the Word and give all for the Lord as they bring back a good report.  

Our early Seventh-day Adventist Church developed out of intense Bible study and earnest prayer for truth.  They were led by the Holy Spirit and discovered the biblical beliefs and pillars of our faith that we hold dear. These dedicated pioneers in Battle Creek and elsewhere, in simple faith, took the Bible as it reads even when it led them away from some of the most widely accepted errors popular in the churches of that day.  In Christ’s Object Lessons, page 79, we read “As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned or too wise to believe the word of God.” We describe these precious truths as fundamental beliefs-----they are the “landmarks” and pillars of our faith developed by humble, dedicated pioneers…..those pillars must not be moved!   You and I are inheritors of the biblical heritage of the pioneers.   Don’t ever say that doctrines are dry, legalistic, and worthless…….every one of them is alive and dynamic because Christ is the basis and center of all our beliefs.

Don’t be a grasshopper! Take back a good report from the 2018 Annual Council!  Never be ashamed to be a Seventh-day Adventist or to share our name with a bright smile. That precious name, Seventh-day Adventist, tells us where we came from with God as our Creator who created this earth in six, literal days recently and rested on the seventh-day Sabbath.  Our precious name chosen by our pioneers focuses not only on where we have come from but also on where we are going as “Adventists” who believe in the soon, literal, audible, visible, return of Jesus Christ.  What a marvelous heritage received from heaven by our pioneers and now passed on to us so that we can truly understand that we have a past with a future! 

What kind of report will you bring back from this 2018 Annual Council?----A report of retreat away from the distinctive Seventh-day Adventist message that has made the church such a strong beacon of light to the world or will you rally under God’s guidance as we move forward in mission towards the Promised Land!  

In the book, Evangelism, page 696, we read, “For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan.  In neither case were the promises of God at fault.  It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years……By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return.”

God is counting on all of us to bring back a good report!  The proclamation of the three angels’ messages is to go like wildfire throughout every part of this world by the Holy Spirit’s power…..Total Member Involvement…..everyone doing something for Jesus.  Evangelism, page 699, says, “When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.”

There are many soulwinning stories around the world about how the Lord is turning people’s hearts to Him and Bible truth.  In January of this year, senior General Conference leadership met near Cancun, Mexico, for an annual planning meeting in a location often used by the Inter-American Division for various meetings.  The event coordinator for many of these programs is Jorge Molina who owns his own event planning company.  Over the years, Jorge has been working with the Seventh-day Adventist Church……..and watching and listening.  He has been impressed by the meetings, the people, and Bible truth.  The Holy Spirit has been quietly working on Jorge’s heart.  

After arriving at the Cancun Airport, Jorge told me quietly, “Pastor, during your stay I want to talk to you about something important.”  I told him that certainly we would find the time.  Later, we had a good talk as Jorge explained that after watching and listening to Seventh-day Adventists during these years, he had decided to be baptized. What joyous news!  We arranged for Jorge to receive Bible studies by Pastor Presen Delgadillo of the Guadalajara Church.  Today, Jorge will be baptized………welcome Jorge!! And welcome to your son, Derek, who is witnessing your baptism.  Jorge is a wonderful example of the results of Total Member Involvement…….many church members, pastors, and administrators involved in helping Jorge know Jesus as His personal Savior.  Jorge, it is a privilege to have you as one of the newest “pioneers” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church……we have been looking back on how God has led His church and now we see how He is leading in your life!  How exciting!  Based on your powerful, personal witness, we know that God will lead us in the future……..for we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how God has led in the past.  Jorge, it is now our privilege to witness your baptism by Pastor Israel Leito, recently retired president of the Inter-American Division assisted by Pastor Delgadillo….………...Pastor Leito, please. 

This is what Total Member Involvement is all about---proclaiming the three angels’ messages!  This is our mission!  Christ is coming soon!  Jorge is now part of our family having been already voted and accepted in membership by the Guadalajara Seventh-day Adventist Church subject to his baptism today!  Let’s welcome, Jorge, by singing “We Have this Hope.” (Prayer for Jorge).

Today, as we draw inspiration from the past and we figuratively set up landmark stones as a memorial to God, let us move forward on that narrow pathway towards heaven led by Christ Himself. From now until the Lord returns, let’s answer the question “what do these stones mean” by bringing back a good report!  That good report is that He is coming soon!  Christ’s return will be the culmination of all He has done for us in the past as we lean on Him for a finished work!  One day soon, we will see in the eastern sky a small, dark cloud about half the size of a man’s hand……it will get larger and larger and brighter and brighter……all of heaven poured out for the climax of earth’s history.  Everyone will see Him at the same time through a miracle of heaven. And there seated in the middle of millions of angels will be the One we have been waiting for.…not the humble broken Lamb, not the High Priest, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ our Redeemer!  We will look up and say, “This is the God we have waited for and He will save us.” Christ will look down and say, “Well done good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord” and we will rise to meet the Lord in the air to go home to be with Him forever!

Let’s dedicate our lives, talents, resources, and time to finishing God’s work as we look back to move forward!   God has promised to give us His power to finish His work—He will pour out the latter rain to proclaim the three angels’ messages by a united church. 

Are you ready for mission and to proclaim God’s last-day message to those in your community and the millions in your cities and rural areas? Are you ready to participate in comprehensive health ministry—helping people to live life to the fullest here and for eternity?  Are you ready to plead with the Lord for revival, reformation, and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit as we proclaim Bible truth? Are you ready to march forward in God’s mission looking towards Christ’s soon coming?

If so, I invite you to quietly stand in commitment to the Lord as we all join in singing that wonderful hymn of commitment, #573---“I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go.”