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The Issues of Life

Randy Skeete
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Presenter

Randy Skeete

Evangelist and revivalist from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Conference

Recorded

  • September 5, 2016
    10:00 AM

Series

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00:00 Father in Heaven, bless us quickly, dear God, grant us understanding, grant me simple language, dear God, let my purpose be to glorify Your name and to be a blessing to Your people. I pray in Jesus' name. Let God's people say amen and amen.

Our subject: the issues of life. Genesis 2:7 the Bible says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. 8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed.” Let’s read microscopically looking for geographical locations. There's much wisdom and much benefit to be gained by reading the Bible very, very closely and carefully. Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward”—where? the garden was in Eden; which means we have two areas: Eden and the garden. There was Eden, then in Eden God planted a garden. So God planted a garden eastward in Eden. In Eden we have two geographical locations. Genesis 4:16 the Bible says, “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Now we have a third graphical location. We have the garden; Eden; Cain lived in the land of Nod on the East of Eden. We have the large world which God made, then an area called Eden, then an area called the garden. The three geographical locations we have reasonably identified, let's start from small to large: the garden, Adam and Eve's home; the larger area Eden; and then the rest of the world which Nod was a part. Let's go back to Genesis 2:9, “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Where was the tree of life put by God? in the middle of the garden. Where was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? the verse tells us that the tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Genesis 3:1 the Bible says, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Where was the tree of life? (in the middle of the garden) Where was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? (in the middle of the garden) From which tree was Adam to eat and preserve his life? (tree of life) Where was that? (in the middle of the garden) Which one was forbidden? (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) Where was that? (in the middle of the garden). What’s our subject? (the issues of life) The major issues of life are not on the edges of our lives. We have to confront them every day because they are right in front of our eyes: the choice between right and wrong. What does the Bible say of the word of faith? Do you have to go to heaven to bring Christ down or go down to the dead, where is it? It is nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart [Deuteronomy 30:14]. That's the word of righteousness. But where is evil? sin lieth—God told Cain—at the door [Genesis 4:7]. Both are in the center of our lives but we have to make a choice. And so here's your I-Pad, the latest model, you can open it and go to 3ABN or you can open it and go to nasty websites. They're both right here. You have to choose. You go to your supermarket: there's the meat, there are the vegetables. You don't have to catch a bus to go get the meat, it's right next to the vegetables. You have to choose: the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God does not remove all temptations from our lives; He gives us the Word of power and so He said to Adam in Genesis 2:16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In that statement thou shalt surely die God is saying two things: if you disobey you die; flip that coin: if you obey you live. Two choices: the tree of Life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Let's look at two choices again. Genesis 2:17 God said, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In Genesis 3:4, “the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” We have two choices of authority either the Word of God or the word of everybody else combined under Satan. Let me say that again: if it's not the Word of God, it is not of God. No, I didn't say if it's not in the Bible it's not of God. There are truths not expressly stated in the Bible but they are of God because all truth is of God. So what I said was if it is not of God, it is of the devil. This goes back to Genesis 3:2 God said, if you eat you die. The devil said, if you eat you live. And Adam and Eve had to choose. Choice is the exercise of the will; that capacity of the mind that allows you to decide how you will act. Deuteronomy 30:19 the Bible says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life”—the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; life, death; heaven, hell; salvation, damnation; Jesus, Satan. And God says choose life that's a recommendation: choose life. The only way to choose life is to choose obedience. I'm often asked and there isn't a preacher on the face of the earth who has not been confronted with this question: if God is good why is there so much suffering? And I feel bad for God, as we say in our modern language He has gotten a bad rap. The Bible says, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” [Genesis 1:31] Again microscopically “And God saw everything that He had made”—Jesus doeth all things well; everything God does is well done. Then God brought Adam and Eve into this well made environment: no sickness, no disease, no sin, no crime, no Zika virus, no Ebola, no divorce, no genetic deformities, nothing of the kind, no hospitals, no prisons, no police, no soldiers, no bombs, no warplanes, no aircraft carriers, no condoms. And God said effectively to Adam, if you want this to continue, if you want to continue living in a perfect flawless sinless world obey Me. “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” [Genesis 1:31] And the one who made it was actually Christ; He's the creator at the will of the Father. Along came Adam and disobeyed; yet people blame God. Mankind chose sin. Mankind chose death but one of the ugly aspects of sin is that sin transfers blame. If you’re a therapist you are familiar with the term transference. You go see a therapist and you offer the therapist maybe a little carton of orange juice and he says no thanks and you immediately react because you feel rejected. Why? because your parents rejected you so you pass on your reaction to the therapist, transference. Because of sin when God said to Adam, what did you do? He said, the woman. The woman blamed the serpent. And so now that we're living in a world of sin, by our own choice, we transfer the blame to God for the choices we made. The issues of life are right before us. And God in His unlimited wisdom tells us choose life, choose obedience, choose righteousness—not only on Sabbath. As I said in one of the presentations we spend about three hours in church; there are 168 hours in a week. We spend approximately three hours in church and most churches no longer have A.Y. Very few people go to prayer meeting. Three hours and depending on the ethnic group your church is made up of it may be just two. 166 hours away from church we have decisions to make. God says to us choose life regardless of your age. My brothers and my sisters, this message will be brief but hopefully direct. Everyone who goes to hell will go by choice. Most of our suffering is by choice. God's desire is to bless His people so super abundantly that when the unbeliever sees the blessings upon God's people that becomes the most powerful advertisement for evangelism: the way God's people are blessed because everyone wants to be a part of a good thing. He wants to bless us. Why do we suffer so much? The Bible has one Job not two, one. Some of us live as if we are called to follow Christ in order that we might be Job. There's only one Job. We are called to live blessed lives! Yes, we are coming to the end of time, the time of trouble, yes, we know that but if God's people would choose righteousness His miraculous working in their lives would bring more people into the church than evangelistic crusades, if we would choose to obey God with microscopic fidelity. Why do I say microscopic fidelity? In Child Guidance, page 79, para. 5, Ellen White writes of the test God gave to Adam, “It was the least test that God could give the holy pair in Eden.” [CH 79.9:5] God could not think of a smaller test. So the test was microscopic. Adam needed a microscope to see and he failed but the ramifications and the results are macroscopic. For those of you who say what does he mean? Microscopic means small. Macroscopic means humungous. What causes muscular dystrophy? It is something going wrong at the microscopic level. What causes lactose intolerance? It is something going wrong at the microscopic level. The person does not produce the enzyme lactase. Have you ever seen an enzyme? What causes problems in the brain? the neurotransmitter acetylcholine does not cross that synaptic gap. Have you ever seen a neuron? Yet one of the most destructive teachings in the church is that there's something called a little sin. And so we disregard little things. We say well, it's only a little stud. You can hardly see it ‘till the sun shines and it glitters in the sun. It's a little stud. I have only painted one toe. The other nine are sanctified. Why would God condemn me? Adam's test was a little test. I only drink wine on my birthday and I have one a year. We have all these liberal approaches to what we call little things. Don’t you understand Jesus suffered on the cross for a little thing? Adam didn't commit murder. He didn't commit rape. It wasn’t carjacking. He bit into a fruit, a little thing, and it cost the life of the Son of God. The issues of life are both large and small. Anything that's wrong is dangerous. Jesus preaches the same thing: the Kingdom of Heaven is like mustard seed; which indeed is the smallest of all seeds but if you turn that coin: the kingdom of hell is also like a mustard seed. Take a little of Satan and do nothing about it, it will grow into a satanic tree. You take a little of Jesus and you water it, it grows into the tree of righteousness, little things have huge consequences. Where's my brother Peter? Peter how tall are you 6’3”? He did not begin at 6’4”. He began so small. A sperm from the father, an egg from the mother, they join, and then they began to divide; a microscope is needed to see them. Now we have 6’ 4”. The issues of life: are usually not big; they're small but the consequences are massive and most people who are lost will be lost for little things. In any country, most people are not in prison. United States has three hundred and ten million about two million are under the control of the penal system whether in prison, jail, probation, or parole. I was in Uganda, a few years ago, population is probably 25 to 30 million they had about 15,000 inmates. I went to pray for two men who were on death row and one of the officers told me that. In any country you visit most people are not criminals. But Jesus said, enter in at the strait gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are that go therein. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and few there are that find it—that is a statistical statement, for those of you who study statistics. You apply that to every church, what is Jesus saying? In every church most people will be lost; and most of them are law abiding citizens. What were they doing in the days of Lot and Noah? they did eat, they did drink, they married, they were giving in marriage, they planted, they built, they bought, they sold, which one of those is a crime? (none) What was the outcome? (lost) because Christ was not the focus. Listen to another group that is lost: Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name have cast out devils and in Thy name done many wonderful works. This is an impressive resume that should qualify anyone for a place in God's Kingdom. What does Jesus say? depart from me. I never knew you, ye that work iniquity. Let me close by reminding all of us, including me, the issues of life are central: right and wrong. God provides the power to choose right. We need no help to choose wrong because we are born with a nature that gravitates towards wrong. We need a power greater than sin to change our natural behavior that's why only God can save you because the power of sin is the power of Satan and the power of Satan is the second greatest power in the universe. Ellen White in Bible Commentary Volume 5, page 1083, para. 1, “Bear in mind that it is none but God who can hold an argument with Satan.” [Letter 206, 1906; 5BC 1083.3:1] Christ Triumphant page 190, para. 4 she writes, “Christ had been warned not to enter into argument with Satan.” [CTr 190.184:4] In His humanity, He couldn’t win. The power to choose right is guaranteed when we access it through faith in God's Word. If Adam had simply held on to God's Word he would not have fallen so catastrophically. Why catastrophically? because of the consequences that befell the earth; and we feel them today. Choose to do right. Choose to give your life to God the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Choose—that’s the will; choose to study God's Word; choose to read Messages to Young People; choose to read Adventist Home, if you're recently married you should have already read it. Before you have children choose to read Child Guidance; choose to read Counsels on Diets and Foods; choose to read The Conflict of the Ages series, in order: Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, The Acts of the Apostles, and The Great Controversy. Choose to read those books and give yourself a broad understanding of this church, this movement, and the Man that raised it up. We choose wrong so effortlessly; but through the indwelling power of God's Spirit we can choose right effortlessly. Those young boys said to Nebuchadnezzar, God can save us but if not, be it known unto thee, o king, that we will not serve thy gods. Those are not the words of a man who’s hesitating. We will not worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel was told for thirty days pray to Darius. He could simply have closed his window and pray to his god; he kept the window open, that was his witness, he chose to face ravenous lions. Those Christians in the early era of the church, all they had to do was sprinkle incense on an altar to show devotion to some Roman god and go back home and repent but they said, no and were eaten by lions in the coliseums. If they could make those choices, you and I can make a choice not to work on sabbath; you and I can make a choice not to engage in romantic relationships outside the church. Adventist Home, page 67, para. 1, Ellen White writes, “To connect with an unbeliever is to place yourself on Satan's ground.” [AH 67.9:1] You and I can choose to stop eating dead animals; you and I can choose to cut back our frenetic rush to climb the career ladder and take time to raise our children Biblically; you and I can choose to return a tithe and leave the consequences to God; you and I can choose to view this body as the temple of the Holy Ghost and not as a sexual playground for anyone. We can choose. And you and I can choose to love righteousness and to hate sin. How many of you will say with me Father, help me to choose right every time I'm confronted with a choice? May I see your right hand? Do you mean that? stand up with me. Having heard what I said this morning, how many of us have to make a change in some critical area of our lives? May I see your hand? either you need to start returning a tithe, stop working on sabbath, stop watching T.V. on Friday night, stop dating that non-Adventist man or woman; having heard this message, you need to make a change in a critical area. How many will say Father, help me make that change? May I see your hand? Keep your hand up.

Dear God, Your love for us will not save us if we don't respond. Ellen White writes, “God's grace will not supply the place of man's cooperation.” The Signs of the Times, December 28, 1891, para. 1. We must cooperate with You, dear God. The best known verse in the Bible says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth—that's our part. Those for whom Jesus shed His blood have raised their hands to say having heard this message on choice and making correct choices regarding the issues of life there is an area in my life I need to change and by the grace of God I choose to undertake that change beginning now. And so we've raised our hands to say that. Father in Heaven, every time a preacher makes a call the devil makes one, his call is do not respond; his call is you're fine; his call is you've got time; his call is what's the big thing? It's a big thing. Eating a food looks small; it was a big thing. Father, please, if You mean it when You said, You are not willing that any should perish in 2 Peter 3:9; if You mean it when You said, You will have all men to be saved in 1 Timothy 2:4; if You mean it when You said in Ezekiel 33:11, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; if You mean it, dear God, and we know You do because You don't lie, give us the grace to make that change while we have life. Now, God, bless every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, bless every family, a double blessing on the little children, dear God, who are quietly affected by the hypocrisy of their parents but they say nothing when they reach the age of accountability or independence they leave the church. Father, doubly bless them and shield them against the hypocrisy of adults because You love children in a very special way. As we leave this place, dear God, let us not engage in our usual habit of secular non-significant chat. Let us think of what we've heard. Let us choose to meditate on the words we heard; not only this morning but over the weekend, let us choose to do that. As we descend the winding road, dear God, with danger on one side or the other: just a slip of a tire and we can go rolling down the mountainside. As we descend, let’s not descend in laughter and jokes and video games; let’s descend in prayer and meditation. Father, when You come save every single person who attended this conference. O come before there's another conference, dear God, please, we pray from our hearts in Jesus’ name. Let all God's people say amen and amen. The Lord bless you, and bless you, and bless you right into His Kingdom. 

 

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