Our subject this morning is “Realizing Our Need”. You know, thinking about this, I’m smiling because my son loves trees. Those of you who know him know that he loves trees. Well, recently we’ve been up in the bush, of course, and the trees have all experienced fire and so they’re all covered with charcoal. Right? But he still loves trees. So coming back from walks very often, because he loves trees, on his hands they’re all full of charcoal because he likes to touch the trees. And very often his face will have a smudge on it because he just loves those trees, and then he gets the charcoal on him. And so I’ll often say to him, oh son, we need to wash your face, and he’ll just smile back at me. But it also reminds me that at least once it’s happened, that when I’ve gone to wash his face, my wife will look at me and say, you know, darling, do you need to wash your face too.
And it’s interesting that we can see in others that which we cannot see in ourselves. Do you know I can see what’s on your face, and you can see what’s on my face? But we have a situation where spiritually, we may not see our need. And this is the situation, this is the case, with the church of Laodicea. In the church of Laodicea, they have a problem because they have a need, yet they do not know their need.
It says in Revelation 3:14-19, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” That’s the problem with Laodicea, Laodicea has this condition that’s described as lukewarm, saying they’re rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing but yet they’re wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. But the worst part about this is they don’t know, ‘thou knowest not’.
And of course, He goes on, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” This is the counsel, the message to Laodicea.
Well, who is this for? This message to Laodicea, that you have need of everything, who is this for? This message that you have need of everything and yet you don’t know, you think you need nothing. This was the experience of the Seventh Day Adventist people in the 1840’s, their interpretation of prophecy was, Revelation chapter 3, was that Laodicea refers to those other Adventists and we, we’re Philadelphia. We’re the ones that have brotherly love, we have need of nothing and all of that does not apply to us. It applies to them. And at some point, they realized, ‘Oh wait, the message of Laodicea actually applies to us.’ But you know, that’s interesting, because that’s prophetic. It’s in the prophecy that ‘thou knowest not’. And so at some point, they had to come to realize that we need to apply this message to ourselves.
Testimonies, Volume 3, (p. 252) says that, “The message to the church of the Laodiceans is a startling denunciation and is applicable to the people of God at the present time.” Now, we might think that, well that was at the present time when that was written. But today, we’re much better of course, you see. But in fact, the message to Laodicea applies to the church from the beginning of the third angel’s message, all the way to the close of probation. That’s the timeframe that we’re talking about here, for the seventh church. And so this is the situation of the church through the whole period of time, not just at one part of the period of time. That means it applies to you and me today. And I really think that that’s an interesting temptation to apply this to someone else and not to me.
Sister Weymark was telling me, she said, you know, she had heard in years, generations past or decades past, that there was actually a preacher who was doing the same thing. He was saying, ‘Oh, no, that doesn’t apply to us, that’s some other, these other people, it applies to them. We’re not Laodicea, we’re Philadelphia.’ She said, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard that too.’ She tells about the emphasis her husband used to make about the love of the Lord and our need of His grace. He was certainly preaching that message, as applying to himself and to his congregation. And so it’s applicable to God’s people at the present time.
We had a discussion about this at the General Conference in 2015. I was privileged to be there. And this was a question that came up, which to some of us seemed, or to many it probably seemed, a very simple question. ‘Does the message to Laodicea apply to us as a church?’ Well, we must apply it to ourselves as a people. However, there’s another thing about this that we need to recognize. Owning being Laodicea is not enough, because some people are proud to be Laodicean. You know, Laodicea, yes, that’s me, that’s me.
The worst part about this condition though is, the worst part, is 1 Corinthians 8:2, it says, “And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet, as he ought to know.” And so we could even recognize, yes, message to Laodicea applies to me. However, we need to understand something. That’s just a theory. Do I really understand that it applies to me? The apostle Paul says, if we think we know something, and we don’t know it yet, as we should, as we ought to know.
Volume 3, Testimonies again, “What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right when they are all wrong. The message of the true witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception, they know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God.” So they’re actually honest in their deception. They’re deceived, but they’re honest in that. Well, being honest, doesn’t make you correct, doesn’t make you right. And that’s the thing, they do not know that their condition is deplorable. That’s what greater deception can there be.
And so then, what is it that we want to know? In fact, one of the first blessings that Jesus gives on the Sermon on the Mount, the mount of blessing, the first blessings that Jesus actually mentions in Matthew 5:3-4, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed, are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” So Jesus gave the very first blessings to the people who could recognize their need, they could see they have a need.
Back to Volume 3, “But the message of the True Witness, this reveals the fact that a terrible deception is upon our people, which makes it necessary to come to them with warnings to break their spiritual slumber and arouse them to decided action.” So now Jesus has a blessing for those who recognize, who are poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They mourn, and then they shall be comforted. And so it’s necessary then to come with warnings to help people to realize their need and to wake them up.
I’ll never forget that early morning in around 2002, I think it was 2002, we were at Elim Heights Youth Camp, having a seminar there and there was a fire coming from the distance you know. And I’ll never forget that early on, about five o’clock in the morning, there was a knocking on the door, but it wasn’t a knocking on the door sort of ‘Excuse me, Hello, anybody there’. It was a banging, it was, it was there, and you open the door and there’s someone dressed in yellow clothes saying, ‘you need to get out now and evacuate, get out of here’. It was a warning. I’ve never been warned like that. Never been yelled at, like it, like that before. It’s ‘once you get out of here, get your things, go, get in the car, get out, go’, Well, were they being nasty? No, they’re being loving, because if you’re in danger, you need to be warned. And so Jesus loves us and so He’s trying to warn us, trying to wake us up.
Another quote in the same chapter, Volume 3 (p. 252), “The people of God are represented in a message to the Laodiceans as in a position of carnal security. They are at ease, believing themselves to be in an exalted condition of spiritual attainment.” So our problem is, in this timeframe, time period of church history, is that we have a temptation to feel like everything’s okay. We have no need, we have look, we have the truth. Look, we have all the teachings, we have the biblical doctrines, we have all the explanations of everything. And so we are in need of nothing, everything is fine, we’re here, we’re the ones that are correct, everyone else needs to come up to the truth and yet we could be in a situation where we are in carnal security, with a false sense of security. But there’s something that is not right. And so we need to realize our need.
That thing that we’re dealing with here is the human heart. What is the situation with the human heart? Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The heart is deceitful, it’s wicked and if you don’t think so, if I don’t think so, then we don’t realize the truth, that our hearts are deceitful and wicked. And so it’s with a deceitful heart. It’s a difficult thing to listen to, to hear about your faults. I mean, raise your hand if you’d like to be told your faults. I mean, definitely not me. It’s never fun to find out that I am wrong about something, that I’m mistaken, that I’ve been committed an error that I need to improve. Right? It’s never gratifying to the carnal nature.
Volume 3 (p. 253) says, “It is difficult for those who feel secure in their attainments, and who believe themselves to be rich in spiritual knowledge, to receive the message which declares that they are deceived and in need of every spiritual grace.” That’s not easy to handle, to swallow. But it’s true. It goes on to say, “The unsanctified heart is ‘deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.’ I was shown that many are flattering themselves that they are good Christians, who have not a ray of light from Jesus.”
Do you know that’s why we started this conference with the topic, ‘Our Need of Righteousness’, because we are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. We need rays of light from Jesus. We have a great need. It should be obvious to us because God has given a specific mission to His people. The question is have we fulfilled that mission? And if the mission has not been fulfilled, if the angels are holding the four winds, you know, from Revelation 7, holding back the four winds. If God is still doing that, and Jesus is still saying, ‘wait’, then there’s a reason for that. And He’s actually waiting for you and me. What is it that He wants to do? Why is He being merciful? Why is He giving time and waiting? Is it not because there’s still something that needs to be done for His people? Meanwhile, we feel as if we have no need.
Volume 3 (p. 253) again, “Sin prevails among the people of God. The plain message of rebuke to the Laodiceans is not received. Many cling to their doubts and their darling sins, while they’re in so great a deception as to talk and feel that they are in need of nothing.” There are sins among God’s people, and some may come to our attention. But there are many more that we do not know. Each person can know that, what’s in their own heart, in their own life. But what we need is, we need righteousness, we need repentance, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit to produce the fruits of the Spirit. But if we don’t realize that, what hope do we have?
Now this is not unique to us today, it’s been a part of human nature all the way along. Jeremiah 7:28 says, “But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, no receiveth correction: truth is perished and is cut off from their mouth.” This is a nation, it says, ‘who don’t obey the voice of God’ and says, ‘do not receive correction’. And poor Jeremiah got thrown into the jail because they didn’t want to hear what he had to say. It was not pleasing to their carnal nature to hear the messages that he brought. First they needed to repent, if they weren’t going to repent, God was going to have to allow foreign armies to come in. And neither of those messages were welcome. They wanted to live the way they wanted, and yet claim God’s blessing because we’re God’s people. And that was the problem. We can’t be God’s people, if we’re not God’s people. If we want to be God’s people, then we have to surrender to Him and to be completely His.
Back to Volume 3 (p. 255), “I’ve been shown that the greatest reason why the people of God are now found in this state of spiritual blindness is that they will not receive correction. Many have despised the reproofs and warnings given them. The True Witness condemns the lukewarm condition of the people of God, which gives Satan great power over them in this waiting, watching time.” Now what it’s talking about here, and I’ll invite you to read that section. It’s all about this theme that we’re talking about in Testimonies Volume 3. What it actually goes on to say is that the Testimonies are neglected. Listen to the things that God has written in those books.
And you know, we’re no different today. How many of us know what’s contained in the Testimonies? How many of us order our lives according to their counsels? How many of us are referring to them in our church business meetings and board meetings and how we run the business of God? How many of us know what’s in there? And are following that? We want to be the remnant, have the testimony of Jesus. Have got to be familiar with those things and particularly, the corrections that are given for us and our own personal life.
Times of stress like we’re living in, remind us of these things. Are we following the counsel that God has given us? Do we understand the health reform? Are we following country living? Are we following those things which will help us to prepare for the times ahead? Are we following those counsels and how we manage our affairs? Are we laying up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven? What’s our situation? So the Testimonies are given for that, and they’re gifts or they’re given to help us to understand our need. And our number one need, of course, is our need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How is it that we can realize our need? If we have this message, this warning is coming, hey, you’re in trouble and you don’t know what kind of trouble you’re in, then how can we realize our need?
Jesus gave a parable in Luke 18:9-14, about two worshipers who came to church. Two people came to church and they came to church and they prayed to the Lord, but they were different. “And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into a temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
There’s a contrast here. And Jesus said that one of them went home with a blessing and the other one went home with nothing. Do you know what, if we come to the Lord and we bring to Him our own self-justification like the Pharisee did, then there’s nothing we need from Him. There’s nothing we ask from Him. Yet the Pharisee needed justification more than the publican, but let’s put them on an even and let’s just say they needed justification the same, even though I would venture to say the Pharisee had more need. And yet, let’s just say they’re even, they both need the same justification and one goes home without it and one goes home with it. What was the difference? One saw their need, the other one didn’t see his need.
And you know, there’s a key thing that he did there, at the beginning in verse nine, it says that Jesus spoke to those who ‘trusted in themselves, that they were righteous and despised others’. So there’s two things that happens there. One is self-confidence, trusting in self, and the other one is comparing myself with somebody else because you look at someone else and you think, ‘Well, I’m not as bad as that’. And you can always find someone who’s got some element of their life and character that’s worse than yours, and so you can always find a way to feel good about yourself, if you compare yourself to other poor erring mortals. But if we compare ourselves to Jesus, or to the standard, then we will see the truth.
Who can Jesus actually help? He says in the same book, chapter 5 (Luke 5:31), “And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are a whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Of course, Jesus was talking to people who didn’t realize that they were sick. People don’t go to the doctor, because they don’t want to go to the doctor. I’m fine, doesn’t matter, I don’t have anything wrong. And they might have something wrong, but they don’t want to go to the doctor because I don’t want to know that, I’m going to be okay. Oh, it’s only the ones who are sick and we could add who realize they’re sick, who are going to go and seek for help.
Christ Object Lessons (p.158) says, “But we must have a knowledge of ourselves, a knowledge that will result in contrition before we can find pardon and peace. The Pharisee felt no conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit could not work with him.” His soul loves, notice this, because I always think, well, God can help them and God could help them. But do you know God couldn’t help this man, it says “His soul was encased in a self-righteous armour which the arrows of God, barbed and true-aimed by angel hands failed to penetrate.” The arrows of God, to convict him, could not penetrate his self-righteousness. He barricaded himself. “It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner, that Christ can save.” Please, if we feel, if we realize this, then let’s put our armour down and allow the convicting arrows of God to stick where they need to stick. “We must know our real condition, or we shall not feel our need of Christ’s help. We must understand our danger, or we shall not flee to the refuge. We must feel the pain of our wounds, or we should not desire healing.”
If we don’t know we have a problem, we won’t desire the cure. Even though we don’t know, who does know? We mentioned that the heart is deceitful and wicked in Jeremiah 17:9, but verse 10 says, “I the Lord, search the heart, I try the reigns, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” The Lord tries the heart. He knows, He knows. Psalm 19:12, 13 says, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” We should pray this, ask the Lord, to cleanse us from secret faults, to show us our errors. It says, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” What’s the great transgression? Sin against the Holy Spirit. Why, what is it? It’s when we presumed to sin, we presume on God’s mercy and silence the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He said keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, this is what we should pray.
Christ’s Object Lessons (p. 159) says, “In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ.” And so now here’s the key to know myself, I need to see Christ. “It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness.” So I’m ignorant of Jesus, I imagine that I’m okay. When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. Next to Jesus, I can clearly see my defects. So what’s the key here? To see our need is not to spend time focusing on ourselves and lamenting our needs and trying to really dig them up. All we need to do is we need to start focusing on Jesus and that’ll do two things. Number one, it will actually it will show us our own defects but it will also, when we focus on Jesus, see it has a transforming power as well. It uplifts us away from earthly humanity, up to heaven into heavenly influence, when we focus on Jesus. And so it’s good all around. “We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace.” And so as we see Jesus, it brings us to that experience of desiring and obtaining righteousness as we studied in the first session.
Christ’s Object Lessons p. 160, “The nearer we come to Jesus”, okay, so now coming close to Christ helps me see my need. What happens as I come closer to Him? “The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and less we shall feel like exalting ourselves.” Isn’t that interesting? The closer we come to Jesus, the more we will feel our sinfulness and the less we will feel like exalting ourselves. But you know what that says about the Laodiceans, where are they? How close are they to Jesus? If they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked and they don’t know it, how close are they to Jesus? Well actually if you read on there in Revelation 3, you’ll find that He’s actually outside the door, knocking on the door of their heart. Is Jesus knocking on your door today? Let us open the door and let Him in.
And what should we keep in mind? As we come closer to Jesus, we do feel our need, and we do ask Him daily for His grace and strength. 1 Corinthians 10:12, says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.” So we need to recognize our need, but then, we need to pray the Lord will show us our need. We need to cling to Him and come close to Him. And we should pray that we never come to a point where we think we stand, I’m good, because, take heed lest you fall.
Christ’s Object Lessons (p. 341, 342) says, “If we realize our helplessness and our need of divine power, we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results a day, an hour, or a moment may determine, and never should we begin the day without committing our ways to our Heavenly Father.” You’ve probably experienced this, you know what it’s like. What difference does it make in the day? A day started with God, and a day started without Him, and they go completely in opposite directions, don’t they? I know sometimes when I have something important coming up, I feel that, okay, now I really got to make sure that I have a connection with heaven. But you don’t know, we don’t know. We can’t see the future. You don’t know what happens in the next five minutes. And so, there’s no way we can go without the Lord. That’s got to be our first priority. “Never should we begin the day without committing our ways to our Heavenly Father” because we need Him. We need Him constantly. Which I want to talk a little more about, how not to forget. We started on this subject, but I want to actually address that a little bit more.
How not to forget.
Do you know there’s something that’s part of the Christian armour? The children in their Sabbath school classes often make up the soldiers with the armour and the different things, you know, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. There’s the shield and the helmet but in that same passage, he mentions all these things. In the very next verse of Ephesians 6:18 says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplications for all things.” An element here of the Christian armour, is not just to have your armour on but then he says, you need to pray and you need to watch. So you put on your armour, but now you’ve got to exercise this, you’ve got to be looking, you’ve got to be watching, praying. That’s as much as a part of the Christian armour, praying always.
Education (p. 260, 261) says, “Many even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel.” Ever done that? That’s a temptation too isn’t it? Rush in the Lord’s presence, that’s how we come in prayer, ‘O Lord, bless me today and help us and we’ll see You later on’, you know and rush out. Is that a way to be connected with heaven? I like how it says here “with hurried steps, they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing, perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel.” Goes on, “They have no time to remain with a divine teacher.” Which you can understand, people are busy. But we are weighed down, we have things to do. We need to get moving, come on, not too long. But what happens if we do this? If we have no time to spend with Jesus? Says, “with their burdens they return to their work.” Now what did Jesus say, ‘come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ He invites us to cast our burdens on Him. But if we rush into His presence and we don’t stay long enough to do that, we don’t stay long enough to be emptied of our burdens and have peace of mind. Then when we leave and we go back, we take our burdens with us.
It goes on to say, “These workers can never attain the highest success until they learn the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental and spiritual power.” We actually have to take time. And I wonder, because we get busy, we don’t have time but I wonder if it’s actually the enemy. I suppose I shouldn’t say, I wonder, it’s true. It’s the enemy of our souls convinces our minds that we don’t have time, to take time to spend with Jesus. Do you remember Martha and Mary? You know, Mary just wanted to sit there with Jesus. Martha’s says, Lord get her to help me. I mean, Martha was doing good things, she was not doing bad things, too. She was doing things that needed to be done. Can’t argue with that. Many of us are so work oriented, that we just know there’s things that need to get done, we’re focused on that. But there is one thing that is more important. And so, Jesus said, Mary has chosen the better part. He didn’t say that Martha was doing useless things. He appreciated her hospitality. But Mary has chosen the better part. “The secret of strength, they must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God”, because we need it. Then it says, “Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ to sit down in companionship with Him – this is our need.”
We need to take time to connect with heaven. And you know, I think about this, I remember, I remember the time and place. I was in the Midwest plains of the United States. It was 1993. And I just remember, I was at a conference there. And I remember the thought came to my mind, see it’s like, the Lord was calling to me and saying, I want to spend time with you. And every time I have that memory, I think about how many times over the course of my life since then that God has come back and said, I want to spend time with you. How many times I rushed through His presence. And I wonder, I wonder how many blessings I’ve never known for not taking that time. That’s really all He wants from His people. He wants us to spend time with Him. Not a pause for a moment, not a formal prayer, God bless me today and I’ll see you tonight at the next prayer, but a personal contact, sitting down with Him in companionship. And so that doesn’t always mean kneeling in prayer somewhere. But wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you have a relationship, a connection with heaven. This is what we lack. This is our need. And this is what Laodicea need so desperately. And the thing we’re the most devoid of – a connection with God. Because if we were connected, and we were fully surrendered to His Spirit, guess what? As we studied on Sabbath, for the divine service, the Holy Spirit could come into us, that’s our greatest need of the Holy Spirit in our heart, and the Latter Rain could come and things would be different. The work could be finished. The Lord could finish His work in our hearts.
It’s our need to spend time with Him. And what should we pray for, as we do? As we do spend time with Him? You know, Psalm 51 is a wonderful prayer (Psalm 51:10-11), “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from my presence; and take not the Holy Spirit from me.” We should plead and beg of Him, not to take His Holy Spirit, not to cast us away from His presence, and to create in us a clean heart. This should be our prayer. Because we should remember from Faith and Works p. 38 that, “Repentance, as well as forgiveness, is the gift of God through Christ.” Repentance is also a gift. God is leading us to repentance. It goes on, “It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of God that makes the heart penitent. He is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities, and He will help us.” Let’s pray for His Spirit. He’s leading us to repentance by His Spirit, the voice of that Spirit calls us and so we want to pay attention to that voice. We want to listen to that voice that’s calling us to repent.
Now why, sometimes when we pray, are some of our prayers not answered like we could hope? God doesn’t answer every prayer straightaway. Why is that? These are hard verses to read. 2 Corinthians 12, he says,” For this thing, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” So that was something that he asked the Lord three times to take away. Lord, please take this away, three times he begged of God. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” What was the answer, did God answered that prayer in the way that he wanted? No, he didn’t. But he said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” So what was the apostle’s response? He says, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Whatever it was, it was something that afflicted him, an infirmity, a sickness of some type, something that he is begging God to take away and God says no, but I will give you grace. So he says in verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in prosecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:” But why, but why, why should I be happy about that, all this trouble? What is positive about trouble? He says, “For me when I am weak, then am I strong.” Why? Why are we strong when we’re weak? Do you know because we realize our need. We realize our need when we’re persecuted, when we’re reproached, when we have necessity, when there’s things that we’re out of, we need, when we’re in distress, when we’re sick, when we’re infirm as it says, because when we’re weak, then we’re strong. So you know, we should thank God for trouble. We should thank God for trials, for difficulties, for stress. We should thank God for that because you know what? It causes us to feel our weakness. When we don’t feel our need, we don’t want help but when we can feel our need, then we can ask Him for His help.
Review and Herald (June 9, 1891) says, “God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon Him; for should He do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favours He bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we would become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help.” He does not always answer the first time we call because then we might not realize our need, so don’t give up. If you’re distressed, if you have trouble, if prayers are not answered the first time, do not give up, but continue asking, continue praying for His Spirit, continue praying for Him to open your heart, to reveal your weakness, so you may confess and receive righteousness.
Don’t be discouraged. In fact, it says in Isaiah 27:5, is one of my favourites in this context, that says, “Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.” God is inviting us to wrestle with Him like Jacob did, to wrestle with Him, to say, I won’t let You go until You bless me. He says, Take hold of My strength, take hold of Me like that. Beg with Me like that. Why? Because He wants us to recognize our need, because when we do, we find the solution. So take hold of the strength of the Lord, and He will give you peace. You know, if when you come in front of the Lord, every morning to start your day, if you refuse to leave His presence until He gives you peace, do you know what will happen? You know, He’ll give it to you. If you don’t leave till He takes all your burdens, you know, He will, He’ll do it. He’ll take your burden.
And then from then on, guess what? He’s the boss, I’m the labourer. I don’t have to worry about anything. That’s what we need. Laodicea doesn’t have that experience, Laodicea is in a time when we’re so busy, we’re so overburdened, we’re so stressed, we have less time. It’s funny, because the day’s the same length of day that it has been for the history of the world. And yet we have less time now than ever before. How’s that work? Well, we need God’s peace. We need to spend time with Him. And that’s a symptom. The overburdened, stressful life is a symptom of a disconnection from heaven, that Jesus is still on the outside, knocking. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask. It says in James 1:5, that “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.” God will give wisdom to those who ask. Why? Because we need it. That’s the only reason that we need, is that we lack to come to the Lord and ask Him.
Historical Sketches (p. 134) says, “It may seem at times that when we pray the most and try the hardest to do right, we have the greatest temptations.” Have you ever felt that? When we pray the most and put in the most effort, that’s when we’re the most tempted? What’s the point? Well, you know what? There’s a reason. “This is because Satan is perfectly satisfied with our condition when we are clothed with self-righteousness and do not realize our need of divine aid.” When we remain in the Laodicean condition, that’s exactly where our enemy would like to keep us, so no opposition there. When you start waking up, when you start praying, when you start making efforts to overcome, that’s when you’re opposed. And that’s the time not to give up but to press through, to battle through not to give up. Do not be discouraged, because you have an enemy that doesn’t want to let you go. Well, that’s the time not to give up, pray even more.
Historical Sketches (p. 134) says, “but when we see our great need of help, and begin to draw near to God, he knows that God will draw near to us.” See, he knows that he knows we’re almost ready to venture beyond his grasp. As we unite with God and God draws near to us, he knows that God will draw near to us. “Therefore, he places every possible obstruction in the way so that we shall not come into close connection with the Source of our strength.” First, he doesn’t want us to wake up and see our need. And when we do, when we start moving toward the Lord, start taking a step, the Lord will come to us and draw us into close connection. And we’ll be able to overcome and will be out of reach of the snares of the enemy. At that moment, he wants to put a roadblock in your way to keep you from doing it. So don’t stop, don’t stop. We need to wake up and feel our need. We need to take hold of the Lord and spend time with Him. And don’t be discouraged when you receive opposition.
Remember that blessing in Matthew chapter 5, on the Sermon on the Mount, there’s another one there’s a number of blessings. Not only those are poor in spirit and those that mourn, but Jesus says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Have you ever been hungry and thirsty? Have you been hungry and thirsty for righteousness? Jesus said, Blessed are they who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness because they will be filled, they’ll be made full, the promise will be answered to them. Step to Christ (p.95) says, “There are certain conditions upon which we may expect that God will hear and answer our prayers. One of the first of these is that we feel our need of help from Him. …Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God, may be sure that they will be filled.”
I pray that we will recognize our need that if there’s a smudge on our cheek, that we can’t see, that God will show us, that He will help us to understand, help us to, not to trust in ourselves, but to realize the great need that we have to hear His voice, to hear the knock on the door, to wake up, and to be in the place that He wants us to be, to accept His Holy Spirit, to accept His grace and His righteousness. So that then, folks, we can go home, because we want to be there. So let us not remain a minute longer away from Christ but let us come to Him. Let us take hold of Him and make peace with Him. And as we realize our need, as we hunger and we thirst, we shall be filled. May that be our experience, Amen. Let us pray.
Our Father which art in heaven, we thank you for helping us by these messages of reproof and rebuke and encouragement. To come to a place where we can recognize our need. We realize that our hearts are deceitful and that we are in danger of being Laodicean, being lukewarm and being satisfied with our condition. Help us to be dissatisfied but don’t leave us in a condition of despair. Lift us up. Help us to trust and depend on You, despite our weaknesses and failures and faults. Let us take hold of your strength and make peace with You. Let us hunger and thirst after righteousness so that we may be filled. This is our prayer in Jesus name. Amen.