Readings for the Week of Prayer 2014
To be read from Friday, December 5, through Sabbath, December 13, 2014
Looking Back –Looking Forward
1. Prophetic Foundation of the Reformation
2. Christ Our Righteousness–Basis of All Reformation
3. Historical Evidence of the Reform Movement’s Existence Since 1914
4. The Ten Commandments and Military Service
5. The Health Reform Message in the Reformation
Roland De La Paz
6. Pacifism, Nonviolence, and Conscientious Objection
Woonsan Kang/Antonino Di Franca
7. The Final Triumph of the Third Angel’s Message
Idel Suarez, Jr.
General Conference International Missionary Society Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement
625 West Ave. • Cedartown, GA 30125 • Phone 770-748-0077 • Fax 770-748-0095
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Internet: www.sda1844.org
As we close the year 2014, this Week of Prayer is the final event of the year commemorating 100 years since the events of World War I propelled the International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement, into existence.
While it is true that the war created very difficult situations and God’s church faced a serious test, it is equally true that it was not its first test. There were opposing views and strong debates on various issues prior to this, especially in 1888. The Lord used Elders A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner to present the much-needed message of Christ Our Righteousness; but a large proportion of the delegates viewed things differently, leading to opposition and division in thinking and acting. The message of 1888 become a crisis because people thought in different ways and there was a lack of spirituality. In 191418, the test came from the outside, but that became a crisis for the same reason as before–because the church was divided and not spiritually prepared to face the emergency. These points and many others have been presented in different ways around the world in this commemorative year. They are also spelled out in the articles to be read this week.
Often people–and especially young people–ask why we talk so much about history. “What matters is now,” they say. But now is the summation of all that has gone before, and that is particularly true in religious matters. If we don’t know where God’s church has come from, we won’t know how to assess where we are today. And if we are unable to assess what is happening today and make necessary corrections, we will never reach the destination. It isn’t so difficult to look back and see where others made mistakes; it is much harder to see our own mistakes and even harder to correct them within the culture.
But there are red flags going up that should at least pull us up short and make us take a closer look at ourselves– at how we do things, at how we think, at how we handle the sacred oracles, and at what decisions we are making. And “we” are the individuals, church- es, leaders, and governing committees within the church organization. The leaders are especially accountable–and need to be held to account–as is seen in the events reviewed during this year. God’s people are sheep; Jesus Him- self said so. He made people as social beings, so that is not a bad thing. But Je- sus also said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leav- eth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:12-15. Leaders may safely be followed when they follow the Good Shepherd. They should not be fol- lowed when they do not.
Events that happened before will happen again. Or, better said, the tests will come around again, only they will look different. Knowing what hap pened in the past is extremely impor tant, but so is the faithful performance of today’s responsibilities. “As each day comes we must in the strength of Jesus meet its trials and temptations. If we fail one day we add to the burdens of the next, and have less strength. We should not cloud the future by our carelessness in the present, but by thoughtful and careful performance of today’s duties be preparing to meet the emergencies of tomorrow.” –(Review and Herald, Febru ary 3, 1885) Our Father Cares, p. 130. How are we facing our daily chal lenges? What is our spiritual condition? Are we as faithful and determined as were Daniel and his friends in Babylon, or are we compromising with the world and lacking a clear vision of the future? How are we preparing for the upcom ing crises? Are we united in one spirit of love, faithfulness, and consecration? Are we making experiences with the Lord every day? Only if we are engaged in the battles of the Lord will we make spiritual progress, gain victories, and be prepared for the great tests ahead as well as for the greatest event in earth’s history.
In Reading 7, Brother Idel Suarez, Jr., tells of a conversation that he had with an Adventist professor on May 15, during the Symposium held by the Seventh-day Adventists in Friedensau concerning the church’s actions in World War I. He writes: “During a recess on the last day, an Adventist scholar presented some troubling predictions that, according to the Post-Modern Adventist philosophy, the Sunday law may never come and prophecy may fail. I asked another attending professor, ‘Do you also believe at your American Adventist University that the Sunday law may never come?’ He replied that the problem was that fourth generation Adventists were having trouble, since the second coming of Christ has not yet occurred.”
So, here we are. Now the task is twofold. First, church members, young people, and the whole world need to be warned against becoming like the evil servant who says “in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken.” Matthew 24:48. The gospel is about being the light of the world and the salt of the earth. While we wait for Jesus to come and establish His kingdom of peace in the place of a world headed for environmental ruin, filled with violence, and teetering on the brink of chaos, we are to live and teach the principles of holiness and righteousness portrayed in the Scriptures, which are life and blessing.
Secondly, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19. Let us encourage the investigation of the prophetic scriptures by everyone in the light of past and current events, particularly those in Daniel and the Revelation which have received little attention. We have a responsibility to teach the solid hermeneutic principles that give every searching soul the tools needed to put together the pieces of prophecy and to grasp its spiritual significance in the plan of divine providence. To leave out either of these is to mishandle the sacred word. May these Readings for the Week of Prayer serve to clarify our focus on where we have come from and where we are going. More than ever, we need to take extra special care of what we are supposed to do–whether it is considered small or large–and take our hands off of those things that are God’s responsibil- ity, cherishing the experiences He has given us and encouraging everyone in our circle of influence to make his or her own personal experiences with Him. We urge the leaders and members to be in attendance at your meeting placefor every Reading this week, except asyou have the opportunity to go and share the messages and pray with those who would otherwise be alone because of sickness or incapacity. The last day of the Week of Prayer, Sabbath, December 13, will be a day of fasting and prayer all around the world. Also, the annual Week of Prayer offerings, which are so critically important in supporting the General Conference’s operations in new fields and dependent countries, will be gathered at the end of the last reading. The needs are particularly urgent, and the means God has given are not only limited, but also threatened.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
“Let none entertain the thought, however, that we can dispense with organization. It has cost us much study, and many prayers for wisdom that we know God has answered, to erect this structure. It has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict. Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of.
“In the name of the Lord, I declare to you that it is to stand, strengthened, established, and settled. At God’s command, ‘Go forward,’ we advanced when the difficulties to be surmounted made the advance seem impossible. We know how much it has cost to work out God’s plans in the past, which has made us as a people what we are. Then let every one be exceedingly careful not to unsettle minds in regard to those things that God has ordained for our prosperity and success.
“You must never, never seek to lift one pin, remove one landmark, that the Lord has given to His people as truth.
“There is to be no change in the features of our work. It is to stand as clear and distinct as prophecy has made it. We are to enter into no confederacy with the world, supposing that by so doing we could do more work. “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. We are now a strong people, if we will put our trust in the Lord; for we are handling the mighty truths of the word of God. We have everything to be thankful for. If we walk in the light as it shines upon us from the living oracles of God, we shall have large responsibilities, corresponding to the great light given us of God. We have many duties to perform, because we have been made the depositaries of sacred truth to be given to the world in all its beauty and glory. We are debtors to God to use every advantage he has entrusted to us to beautify the truth of holiness of character, and to send the message of warning and of comfort, of hope and of love, to those who are in the darkness of error and sin.” –General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 20, 1899.