Discipleship Under Pressure

Scripture: Jeremiah 12:5, John 6:1-15, Luke 9:51-56
Date: 03/09/2008 
Lesson: 10
Disciples of Christ often face trials, both from within themselves as well as from the world around them.
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Good morning. And welcome to "central study hour" this morning. Happy Sabbath. A very special welcome to you that are joining us here in the sanctuary, our regular members and our visitors. And a very special welcome to you, our extended family that are joining us from across the country and around the world this morning live on the internet feed, or through television, radio, however you're joining us, welcome.

Let's begin our song service this morning with hymn number 314, "just as I am." And we're gonna sing the verses , 3, and 6 from hymn 313. So, we will use the hymn melody on 314, verses on 313... That was a request from monica in australia, enye in malaysia, agnes in new zealand, raymond in the netherlands, Peter in madagascar, claudine in New York, molly in Iowa, tina in Montana, joyanne in New York, ferrell from florida, and cathy from Georgia. If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at www.saccentral.org. And there you can click on the music link.

And you can request any hymn out of this hymnal. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn we're gonna sing is hymn 462, "blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!" And this comes as a request from ali from malawi, nelly from uruguay, asof from south africa, ricardo from colombia, francis ben from saudi arabia, evita in the dominican republic, jenush in india, dorothy and Michael in jamaica, brad in California, Martha in Michigan, joyanne in New York, ian from Maryland, terry in Missouri, and patrick in California. Hymn 462, "blessed assurance." And we're gonna sing all three verses... Let's pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, you are our song. And we praise you this morning for the opportunity that we have to worship before you, to worship our creator, our Lord, our Savior. We thank you for the blessings of the weak. We thank you for bringing us here to worship and hear Your Word. And Lord, as we hear Your Words, help us to take them in our hearts and to share them with others around us, so that we can hasten your coming.

Please bless our study this morning. Be with our church family here and all around the world. We ask that you just impress upon our hearts the urgency to get Your Word out so that you can come soon. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen.

Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by pastor harold white, administrative pastor here at sac central. Good morning. Thank you, thank you. Happy Sabbath to you. And thank you to our musicians for bringing us that beautiful music this morning.

And a delight to hear how many people are listening from all over the world. Isn't that exciting? That we can study with an extended church family from many, many places. How wonderful that is. For those of you who follow the bulletins week by week and look a week in advance, you weren't expecting me to be here in this place teaching this lesson this morning. There's been a lot of flu going around in Sacramento area and other places across the United States actually.

And pastor mike's wife has really been battling it for a week or so. And about Wednesday when pastor mike--i saw him Wednesday evening. And I could tell right away this is not looking good. He was not feeling well. And he said--asked me if I would go ahead and take the lesson for this week.

And so of course I couldn't tell him no. But praise God he's here this morning and didn't really get the bad flu, so we're happy that pastor mike is doing okay. It's just that he was down for a couple days. And I'm happy to be with you. The free offer for today is number 173.

It's called "the armor of God." And you can get that by going to www.amazingfacts.org. Or use the telephone number, -788-3966. When you involve yourself in any kind of evangelism, you are going to enlist enemy power against you, aren't you? That's just a matter of fact. I don't care what you're gonna do, if you do a major campaign for God, or you're one-on-one with somebody sharing Jesus, you're going to encounter the enemy to try to hassle you and bring trouble to your life. It's just a matter of fact.

I've seen it over and over. We only have to think of our own beloved senior pastor here, probably one of the most tragic moments in his life when he was overseas holding a big series of meetings and got the word about his son who was in a terrible accident. And I remember myself living in New York, state of New York, elmira, we were planning the first net series. Remember the net series that came across the satellite, the first time 1995. We were so excited.

We were the only church in New York that was gonna do this. And we were all nervous. "Will it work? Will people come?" Well, the first thing people came. We had the sanctuary filled, at least a hundred visitors from the community. "Now, will this technology work?" And when we went on air, nothing was there.

It was blank. Oh, I was sweating bullets. And finally some of the technicians there got it to working. And we were just doing real well. And a few nights into the meetings, we got our call about our son in Texas who had a terrible accident and maybe wasn't expected to live.

So we were back and forth, especially me from New York to Texas. And this was very stressful time. Some people will say, "well, that's just coincidental. Those are just coincidences. Bad things happen when you go out to work for God.

" But I tell you, if we had a hundred ministers up here this morning, I bet you all hundred could give you a similar story of how they have been attacked by the enemy when they're doing something evangelistic for God. Discipleship under pressure. It's real, folks. We're in a battle against principalities and unseen hosts all over this world. Do you believe that? We are.

And it doesn't matter if you're a high-powered evangelist or minister. You've seen it on your level, haven't you? As soon as you come to Jesus Christ, some of you have experienced the worst trials of your life, even the very week after you got baptized. Some people have told me, "pastor white, that first week after I was baptized was miserable." The devil didn't like it. He didn't like to see you go down into the watery grave and come up to new life in Jesus. He doesn't like that kind of thing.

And so discipleship under pressure is a reality. There's stories, books and magazine articles. And everything is--i mean a lot of things are involved around this kind of thing. I remember even as a boy some of the television programs. And this of course it dates me, the lone ranger, superman, the cisco kid, and some of those, all around the good guy that was fighting for truth and justice.

And they was always encountered difficulties, right? Always encountered the enemy. If you become a disciple for truth and justice, you're going to encounter enemy problems. Well, especially as you fight for truth and justice of God's Word and God and his truth. So, there will be those kinds of pressures. And as I look at the lesson this week, I realized that there is that issue when it comes to this concept of this title, "discipleship under pressure.

" But the lesson kind of actually goes into other areas that I really hadn't thought about. And it's kind of interesting, so let's get into that this morning. Going to Sunday's lesson, talks about the power model. It talks about how governments have gotten into the field of religion. And some have gotten into the field of religion fighting against Christianity, opposing Christianity.

We think of communist countries for years and years would not allow Christian churches to flourish. And we would wonder how in the world will the Gospel ever go to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. And yet as we see in these last few years, the door is opening and Christianity is flourishing in some of these countries. Like russia, we send evangelists over there and they have thousands baptized in one meeting. Praise God.

So we see things changing. But we also see on the other hand where governments, people in high authority in different governments have used Christianity, religion, to their advantage. We only have to think of people like constantine who projected that he was a Christian. He was no more a Christian probably than the devil himself, but he used Christianity for his own political advantage. Now I would ask the question this morning, and I'm certainly not going to ask it of any particular party or people, but do politicians today use religion that way a little bit now and then.

We can't be the judge of who, but I'm sure it happens. Well, let's get into our lesson. The lesson refers to John 6. And we have somebody ready to read John 6:13-15. And this is the story of where Jesus fed the multitudes with five barley loaves and two small fish.

Remember? And it's interesting that the text itself points out that the two fish were small. That's very interesting to me. I don't know, it's just kind of an interesting little point. But then we'll have somebody read those texts that points out the reaction of the people that took place after this miracle. Okay, mike.

"Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, 'this is truly the prophet who is to come into the world.' Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone." Okay, so they were ready to enthrust him up on the throne, make him king right then and there. What were their motivations? Do you think they were pure and completely honest and true? They were--there was a lot of selfishness in their reasoning, wasn't it? "Put him on so that they could have a part in his kingdom." And so yes, every zealot has I suppose a thread of pure reasoning, but overwhelming temptation to acquire a top-level position, even in the church sometimes, happens due to selfish ambitions. Right now as I mentioned, we are up to our eyebrows in political candidates rhetoric for the highest office in the country, some people have argued the highest office in the world, the president of the United States. "I'm running for office, because I want your children to have a better world," and on and on and on.

And we hope that they're sincere in their rhetoric. I suppose they're probably as sincere perhaps as the disciples were when they were following Jesus and they wanted the top position in his kingdom. Does Jesus search hearts for the real truth? Absolutely. Did he know what the disciples were thinking about, who was going to be the most important one in the Kingdom? Yes, he knew. Does he know the deep-down reasons why you do things? Yes.

Can you fool the multitudes? Maybe. But can you fool God? Absolutely no. Is humanity fickle? Do we swing and sway with the wind? If we're not truly grounded in Jesus, we will sway with the wind. And the world has powerful influences. And I would guess that you would agree with me saying that money and power are two of the biggest influences in the world, right? Money and power.

Some people who have money, seems as though they want to crave power. Some people who have power, seems like it leads them into temptations to acquire money, sometimes even in a wrong manner, a dishonest way. I read an advertisement recently that made me kind of chuckle. It says, "now you too can own a genuine coin from the time of Jesus, 'the widow's mite.' It's a minor miracle that this coin has survived. And now people of faith can study, cherish and protect it for future generations.

It is yet another miracle that they are so affordable." Then the ad goes on to quote a Scripture and adds this, "while our limited supplies last, you may order the 2,000-year-old 'widow's mite' for only $39.95," plus shipping and handling of course. "Now remember this is a genuine coin mentioned in the holy Bible and makes a perfect gift for your child, your grandchild, or your favorite clergyman." So if any of you have ordered this, yeah, you might pass it on to your grandchildren. The advertisement makes it sound like this is the original coin that was dropped in the receptacle there at the temple. But of course it wasn't. It doesn't exist.

And you may not be swayed by such an advertisement as that, but are there many advertisements and many things in the world that do influence our lives? This power model that exists in the world is very influential. And we become almost oblivious to some of its impact on our life, this power model. And then on a more personal level, I like the question it talks about there on Sunday. It brings it out. It says, "what are ways even on a more personal level that we can abuse religion and co-opt it for our own selfish ends?" I hope you took some time this week to examine that question for yourself.

Can I share some thoughts with you about how I examined that question in one particular way this week? There might have been a time in my ministry when I probably would have jumped at the chance, at the opportunity that I had this week. It's something though I fought against all my ministerial career, because I didn't want to fall victim to this. But when pastor mike came to me Wednesday evening and asked me if I would teach this lesson, my first reaction was, "well, who can we get to do it?" Pastor bachelor's out of town. Pastor steve has a very special weekend with youth coming from all over the area here. So, he can't do it.

Pastor macintosh that sometimes does our lesson, he's going to be preaching today. Pastor John ross who also teaches once in a while, he's gonna be in Granite Bay. And so there really wasn't anybody left seemed to be. So I began studying the lesson with great diligence, a little bit harder than I was studying it before I can tell you. Now why do I bring this issue up? Teaching a Sabbath school lesson here at Sacramento central actually gives you exposure, as we just heard in our song service this morning, to people all over the world.

And some people would really covet that opportunity. I have to tell you, I absolutely don't covet that opportunity. I don't covet it. I will do it to the best of my ability. I will--whatever God asked me to do--if it's to dig a ditch or teach a Sabbath school, I'm going to give it my very best effort.

But I can honestly say--and I'm won't go out on a limb like roger clemens has done just recently. You been following that baseball, where he says, "I have never taken steroids," or whatever. I can't say that I have never been a little bit covetous of a position. I don't want to be. I never had wanted to be, but I probably have fallen into that pit a time or two.

But I think we need to examine ourselves on a very personal level when it comes to this power model. If things don't go as we'd like to see them go in a church sometime, are we able to say, "thy will be done, o Lord?" Or do we find ourselves bellyaching a little bit? You know, "oh, brother, I don't know why they're gonna do it that way. That's not the way they should do it. I don't know what they're thinking about." You know, that kind of thing. I think we need to be very careful.

Does the famous John f. Kennedy statement apply to churches? "Ask not what your church can do for you, but ask what you can do for your church." Right? We need to find out not what the church can do for us in a very selfish way, but what we can do to enhance this church, to be all that God wants it to be. Do you think that's true? I think so. Let's move on. And we need to move on in our lesson.

Let's see. Somebody else read Mark 9:33-37. Who has that for us? I know somebody. Right back there. Mark and that's the ninth chapter.

And we're going to be looking at verses 33 through 37, if you'd read that for us this morning. Thank you. "And he came to capernaum. And being in the house he asked them, 'what was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?' But they held their peace, for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and sayeth unto them, 'if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and the servant of all.

' And he took a child and set him in the midst of them. And when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 'whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me but him that sent me.'" Okay, thank you very much. All the sudden it was a very different mood for the disciples. Here they were disputing and arguing who was going to be in the top spot. No contending for the top spot now.

And when we think about this issue of the top spot, it goes back a long ways, doesn't it? Way back into the courts of heaven itself. As lucifer said, "I would like to be like the most high." It goes back a long way, this vying for the top position. Allow me to share a couple sentences from the classic book called "Desire of Ages" page 250, "before honor is humility. To fill a high place before men, heaven chooses a worker who, like John the baptist, takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God.

The heavenly intelligences can cooperate with him who is seeking not to exalt self, but to save souls." I can tell you what kind of leader has inspired me the most during my 31 years of ministry. In fact, I can tell you an individual. It was back when I was in the Indiana conference. It happened to be my conference president. Now I'm not embarrassed to share his name.

Maybe he's listening. I'm not even sure if he's still living. I hope he is. I know his son is living and last I heard was a conference president somewhere himself. But the conference president there was John lure.

And I was pastoring in Indianapolis. And he came out and wanted to do a series of evangelistic meetings in my church. Now John lure was the only person that's ever called me härold. And always would say, "härold, how you doin'?" Anyway, he was a nice fella. We came out and had meetings.

And I can tell you those were not just a series of meetings for show that he could go back to his field and say, "now, look fellas, if I can do it, you did it." He came out and he thrust himself full force into those meetings. And I mean he gave of himself entirely. He was tirelessly out there in the homes of the people visiting the interest, so much so that he tired me out. And I was younger than him. He was working with all of his heart for the salvation of souls.

That kind of leadership inspires me. Even though you have acquired the position of a conference president, you still have this craving to see souls won for the Kingdom. That I can appreciate. I've noticed sometimes in our church that sometimes the higher you get in this ladder supposedly of success, that sometimes you're involved in a little less way for the salvation of souls. And that should never be.

Well, how does a power model relate to this disciple under pressure? Does the enemy work within, without, and from every angle to thwart us when it comes to being true disciples for Jesus? Absolutely does. But let's move on to Monday's lesson and the greed model, g-r-e-e-d, greed model. The opening statement in the lesson is one to catch your attention. It says, "someone once asked, if you want to get rich, start a religion." Now of course, that is true in some ways. Some religious leaders are living more affluent lifestyles than the movie stars and celebrated athletes.

They live more luxuriously than some of those folks. Jesus didn't lack in the necessities of life. I don't believe he lacked in the necessities. But did he own his own home? Nope. He didn't even own--he had to borrow a donkey to ride into Jerusalem on.

And when you compare his lifestyle to some of the luxuriousness that we see in our world today, it is an incredible comparison. Let's turn to the lesson points out John 12. Somebody have John 12 for us? Right over here, elizabeth. And we'll want to read John 12. And we want to read verses 1 through 6 this morning.

John 12 and beginning with 1 and ending in 6, elizabeth. "Then, 6 days before the passover, Jesus came to bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Jesus. Then mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

But one of his disciples, Judas iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray him, said, 'why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?' This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had money in the box, and he used to take what was put in the box." Okay, thank you for sharing that. At first glance, the comments from Judas sound very practical. Why would mary spend so much money on perfume that would be wasted within a matter of minutes? But we know the rest of the story of course, that the aroma from that perfume is still having its affect on people's lives today as they read this story. And how she had really given her all for her Savior. Well, when is money spent on a church or in a church, when does it become extravagant.

I would imagine--i wasn't here, but I would imagine some people probably had the feeling that putting cameras here in the sanctuary was--"wow, that's an outlay of money I'm not sure we can afford." But of course we know the rest of the story, don't we? That God has blessed it amazingly. And what about church facilities? Is it important to keep church facilities up for this work of soul-winning? It is really. I mean it really is. I mean praise God that he helped us remodel our restrooms. And now we need to look at a kitchen some of us are saying.

I'm sure many of you would say "amen" to that. It matters. Let me take you back in my ministry to actually my first district back in the midwest. I had a very delightful church. It was a three-church district actually.

One of them was in the country, a beautiful little setting. It was a delightful place to go and worship. The people there were just down-to-earth, wonderful Christian people. But there was one situation. They didn't have indoor plumbing.

Yeah, still they didn't have--30 years ago. And I had a Bible study once in the neighborhood, one of the local towns there. And she finally got up the nerve to come to church. She had some little kids, but one trip to the restroom, which was outside in the middle of winter. And she never came back.

And you can't blame her. So facilities do make a difference, right? We need to do everything we can to keep our facilities looking nice and inviting. The greed model has affected many religious leaders to amass a fortune for themselves, but that rarely happens within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And I can tell you why, because the Seventh-day Adventist Church pays its ministers in a biblical, sound, stewardship way. A pastor of a church that has members receives same amount of money that a pastor of a 1500-membership church.

Therefore there is no competition to get that church with the most people in it, because then I'll make more money. And I say "praise God" that he has made the church follow that kind of a plan. So no, there won't be any massing fortunes in this church as ministry. It's a God-ordained method of ministry. Now of course we understand why Judas was upset with mary because he didn't get to make the decision.

And he wouldn't get any of the money, as elizabeth just read. He would put the money into the treasury for the disciples, but he would use much of it for himself. And I thought it was interesting also that the lesson points out that there was a special guest at that gathering. And his name was Lazarus. You go back a chapter or two and you'll find that Lazarus had just been raised from the dead.

And here is Judas, he's complaining about how a few shekels are being used, when the Lord of all shekels, the Lord of life and death itself is right there in their presence. And he was complaining about a few--the way a little money was being spent. Well the greed model can be blinding, blinds people in their sins. But let's move on to Tuesday and the thunder model. Who we talking about in the thunder model, The Sons of thunder? Yeah, this is James and John.

Would somebody read Luke 9 for us? Who has Luke 9? Luke 9:51-56. "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face. And they went, and entered into a village of the samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as elias did?' And he turned and rebuked them, and said, 'ye know not what manner of spirit you are of.

For The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.' And they went to another village." Thank you very much. Misdirected zeal can bring disaster to a church. It was very fortunate that Jesus was there to redirect their zealousness. He didn't want to change these men into religious wimps, of course. He was trying to redirect their zeal into a positive-- positive paths.

I was reading about a man named leo durocher. He used to be a manager in major league baseball. And he was asked who was the best, in his estimation, who was the best person he ever coached, the best baseball player he ever coached? And to their surprise, he mentioned the name of dusty rhodes. Dusty rhodes was a man that was--he wasn't really well known. He wasn't a big name for any--he was actually a--sat on the bench most the time, used as a pinch hitter.

So of course they asked him immediately, "why would you choose a man like dusty rhodes?" And durocher says, "well in a tight game, when I look down the bench for a pinch hitter, some players would avert their attention from me. They would not look me in the face. They would kind of squirm in the dugout there. But when I met the eyes of rusty, his eyes were fixed on me with a big smile on his face. And he was patting his bat like, 'let me get in there, coach.

'" And he was, as he said, he was always available and ready in a pinch. And I believe that that's what God wants from his disciples. Disciples who are always ready to fill in in a moment's notice, when you're asked to go and do something, somebody needs your attention, go. You're ready to go, because you're minutemen, minutewomen for Jesus. The cause of God needs disciples like that.

And Jesus could see in these men that rightly directed, they would be those type of individuals. But the thunder model, unsanctified works negatively in the church. It works against sinners rather than for them. And it points out, the lesson points out that they used the Elijah story as a model for their reasoning to go out there and slay these people. But what they didn't realize or stop to think about was Elijah called that gathering on Mount Carmel to help the people to see who was the true God.

And those who would see that the God of heaven was the one true God that would take their stand from them, that was the whole issue. And I believe probably even if the prophets of baal's would have prostrated themselves on the ground in repentance that God would have accepted their, you know, confessions and maybe even saved them. That was the purpose of the whole meeting. How do you relate to people who are not living the lifestyle that you deem correct? Maybe we pray for those who are not in the church and we labor for them, we earnest for them. But what about our fellow church members? When they're not living up to the lifestyle you think they should be living, what are your feelings toward them? That can be a different issue sometimes.

I recently had an experience that made me realize that a game of ping-pong can tell you a lot about yourself in these matters. As a boy I played a lot of ping-pong, especially with my older brother. And we would play into the hours of the morning, sometimes just hours upon hours. And we were pretty well matched. We would probably win 50% of the time, he would and I would.

And he was kind of a defensive style. And I was a slammer. I would slam the ball and he'd turn it back. He'd return it. Well, I was playing against an individual recently who has learned the art of being calm under fire.

I've seen him many times be extremely calm and patient under fire. Now as we were playing ping-pong, I realized he played the game of ping-pong the same way. He was not flashy in his ping-pong game, but everything I slammed over the net, he simply returned. And he just kept returning them until I slammed and missed the table, lost a point, and lost both games I played against him. And I came to realize that the thunder model of slamming the ball is not the way you are a leader in the church.

And I've had to learn that lesson the hard way, believe me. Sometimes my leadership abilities were a little bit too much like my ping-pong game. And I think that James and John had hard lessons to learn in this area of life too. The thunder model approach. If you have that approach to life, I would encourage you to do some praying about it, because it can bring more havoc than it can blessings to God's church.

Well, let's move on. We gotta move quickly to Wednesday's, the repentant Peter model. Nobody in the Bible has had more fun poked at them than Peter the apostle. Somebody read for us John 18. Somebody have that one? Right over here.

Okay, John 18. And verses 1 through 11, if you would. John 18:1-11, thank you. "When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples over the brook kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples.

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon him, went forward and said to them, 'whom are you seeking?' They answered him, 'Jesus of nazareth.' Jesus said to them, 'I am he.' And Judas, who betrayed him, also stood with them. Now when he said to them, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground. Then he asked them again, 'whom are you seeking?' And they said, 'Jesus of nazareth.' Jesus answered, 'I have told you that I am he. Therefore, if you seek me, let these go their way,' that the saying might be fulfilled which he spoke, 'of those whom you gave me I have lost none.

' Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, 'put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which my father has given me?'" Thank you very much. It's interesting really to me that Peter had a sword with him at all.

I don't believe you ever saw Jesus carry a sword, yet he hadn't picked up the concept from Jesus that his mission was not about weaponry, worldly weapons, but it was a totally different kind of mission. So Peter had his sword with him, whipped it out, and course that was not the way Christ wanted him to act. That's not the way Christ's mission was all about. Now think about it for just a moment. In the last days, will there be a time of trouble such as we've never seen? Does the Bible talk about that? Yes.

Will it be a time to bear arms to protect ourselves? Hardly. If nations are having a hard time to amass enough weaponry to protect themselves, how do we think as individuals we're gonna be able to protect ourselves in these final days with some flimsy little weapon of any kind, even a whole bunch of them. The Word of God is the weapon we need, right? And God's presence will be with us. Now the word, the sword, has been misused many times by people. I have probably done it.

Maybe you have done it. I was watching this terrible news report this week about the killing there in dekalb, Illinois. Actually, that's about 50 miles from where my daughter lives. Terrible thing. And they were interviewing some of the students.

And the interviewer asked this question to one of the girls. Said, "well, what would you want to say to," so-and-so, one of the ones that lost their lives, "if she's up in heaven looking down at you now?" Well, it kind of threw this girl off guard, but I've been thinking to myself. Now we who know the truth about what the Bible says, would that be a good time to whip out the Bible and say, "well, you know, she's not up in heaven anyway right now." Would that be a good time to use the word, the sword? Not a very tactful way, would it? There are times and tactful ways to use the word. And then there are times where we wield the sword, that it probably does more damage than good. We need to let the Lord--you know, we can share it kindly and lovingly in the right place at the right time.

But we need to be prayerfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do so. Well, Peter was humbled. It has been credited to Samuel Johnson for the saying that says, "nothing concentrates the mind quite like a hanging at dawn." And Peter had hung himself by his impetuous, yet weak, temperament. He was very temperament--we often use the word "impetuous" for Peter when we think of him. Alright, there's nothing like a crisis to get our attention.

It certainly took that for Peter. And there isn't probably a more emotional passage in all the Bible where it says, after he denied Jesus three times, that he went out and wept bitterly. Have you ever wept bitterly because you have disappointed your Lord? If you have, I bet it's made you a better disciple in the end, because it certainly did that for Peter. Emotions play a big part in our lives. How much of a part should it play in our attempt to win souls to Christ? That's the question.

Can it play too much of a role? Can it play not enough of a role? I believe the answer to both those questions is yes. And it certainly points out how much we are in need of the Holy Spirit to guide us in sharing the word with other people. Let's move on to Thursday's lesson, the flight model. Unfortunately, this is probably the most applicable to the laodicean church. It's easy--you know you have this concept of fight or flight.

God's people are called to fight the good fight of faith, to stand in their place and to work for the Lord. We are to be an army for God, right? But too many people are taking the flight method. And that's exactly what happened in the early church. As the lesson points out, the disciples had spent & 1/2 years. They hung with Christ.

They hung on every word that he said. They witnessed every miracle. They saw him praying through the night. They saw all of that. And then when the crisis moment came, they all scattered like cockroaches when the lights are turned on.

They were gone in an instant. They were not around. And so let's be honest with ourselves. Let us be frank. Can this be a problem with the Seventh-day Adventist Church? We know that we are Lukewarm.

I believe one of the most disappointing aspects of ministry that has been--that I've experienced is when you go through a whole process of a training seminar, even I've taken people out with me to people's homes and got Bible studies started. And alright, let's just keep this going now. You're trained. You're ready to give Bible studies. We're soul-winners.

And then it just kind of fades away. And people stop going out. They even stop in the middle of a Bible--I've had that happen. They stop going in the middle of a Bible study. Too many things in the world that just kind of let it all fizzle out.

Seminars have been given in churches all over this country to train people to go out and be living witnesses for Christ, to be a genuine disciple, but actually a small percentage follow through. Recently a small Sabbath school study, a group was studying a lesson on discipleship. And one of the class members was bringing out how a member in her family needed somebody in the church to take a special interest in this family member, take him under their wings. And the teacher of the class kind of responded to that and started going around the room, and say, "alright, who can we get? How about you?" And everybody had an excuse. After eloquently talking about discipleship for weeks and weeks and weeks, not one would choose to take one person under their wings.

And oh how sad that can be. Laodicea is real, but we cannot allow that to be a fact. We must apply the remedies of laodicea. There, yes, laodicea is a problem, but it's not the end of it. There are remedies for the problem.

You know, I've had a saying that I've lived by. I think I had to live by it because of the type of person I am. The saying is, "do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain." Can I say that again? "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain." By nature I'm very shy and quite an introvert. But I've chosen to believe that God will be with me wherever I go, whatever I do, whatever situation I find myself in I believe God's gonna be there. I mean face it, when we're out there on enemy territory, at times when we work for Christ, we are engaged in this great conflict for souls.

We must do all we can to rescue them from the clutches of the enemy. This work reminds me of a little incident that happened during civil war. Many soldiers were being held captive in nashville, tennessee. One day a lady appeared at the gate. And she said that she needed to speak to her son.

She had gotten permission from the commander, and he had agreed that he would release her son because she couldn't man the farm, do all the farm work of her big farm. And so she walks into the prison and she goes to where the prisoners are and she says, "I have some teenage clothes here. I do not have a son, but I can free one of you." And so the prisoners got together and they talked and they chose one. And he put those clothes on. They walked out of that prison.

And as they walked out, he says, "come, we've got some plowing to do." Discipleship is just like that, entering enemy territory, the place where the enemy has many held captives, prisoners. And we are to go out into that territory and we are to bring them one by one into a safe place. That's what we are called to do. We must not be laodicea. Now there's probably two things that cause people to be laodicea.

One is fear. Face it, it's not easy. "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain." You just do it and fear will go away. I just tell you it will. With God's help it will go away, so don't allow fear to keep you back from doing anything that God's placing on your heart.

The second thing, don't be lazy about it. It takes effort, it even takes money sometimes, but we must, we must do it. And well, I get a little excited. I'm sorry, but we need to realize where we're at in this world. And I think there's another--we're running out of time, but I want to share this also.

There's another important aspect. I believe God has you right where you are supposed to be. And he probably has you right where you're supposed to be for some individual. Now there's not a better story I could ever share on this concept than this one. Sir roger boulder visited and was traveling a fair at colchester.

He went around and saw all the stalls and the side shows and he was looking at everything over. And he stood there in the Market square and he heard the chimes go off. And kind of like a child, he started counting them in his head. And the chime rang the 13th time. And he thought to himself, "that can't be.

I must have miscounted." But there was a smaller fellow standing close by, and he said, "hey, that clock chimed times." So that evening roger wrote this incident, he recorded it in his diary. Two months later sir roger woke up and sensed a compelling inward voice saying, "go to york." Well, he wasn't a man that was much influenced by this kind of thing, but he was just compelled to get up and make this trip to york. When he arrived, he discovered that a large crowd gathered outside the courthouse. And this was the last day of a murder trial. He entered the courthouse.

And he sat in the public gallery from where he heard the guilty verdict pronounced. When the accused man was asked if he had anything to say, here's what he said. Here's what his reply was. He said, "I am innocent. I was more than 100 miles from the crime on the day it took place.

I was in colchester. Another man and myself heard a clock strike 13. If only I could find that man, he could vouch for my innocence." Immediately sir roger stood up and declared, "judge, judge, now I know why I was compelled to come to york today." He explained the whole story and he showed the judge his diary that he carried with him everywhere he went. The accused was declared innocent and set free on the basis of sir roger's testimony. As sir roger and this man left the courthouse, the man that was freed said, "you are the only man in all the world who could have saved me.

" And that's an amazing little story, but I believe that almost applies to everybody here. Now I don't know if there's somebody that only God wants to work through you to save. Maybe he could save him through somebody else, but I believe he wants to save somebody through you. He has you right where you are, working where you are, in the neighborhood you are to save somebody. I know it.

And you just need to begin praying that God would open the way to use you as a disciple for him in this most important work. That's what the church needs. If we all would come to that prayerful attitude, we wouldn't be called laodicea anymore, we'd be called the church on fire. And everybody would come to watch the fire burn, right? If you have a fire, everybody goes to see it burn. Wouldn't it be great to see this church on fire and everybody would come to say, "this church is on fire.

Everywhere you go in the world, this church is on fire because they've waken up from the laodicean message. They have applied the three remedies, the white raiment, the gold tried in the fire, and the eye salve. Praise God, discipleship under pressure. We must not allow ourselves to let the pressures of the world deter us from the work of discipleship. What do you say? Amen.

Well, let's see. We need to retell you about this special offer, "the armor of God." And it's number 173, "the armor of God." You get it by going to www.amazingfacts.org, or 866-788-3966. Thank you for allowing me to be your teacher today and last minute to step in. And so thankful that pastor mike is doing okay. Glad each one of you are here.

Thank you everybody for joining us from wherever you're joining us. Be back again next week. I'm almost positive Pastor Doug will be here next week, so be sure to join us then. Hello, friends. The program you're watching is the culmination of a dream and a mission.

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