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Practice Tests for the Final Exam

Skip Dodson

Description

This message proposes that God gives His people smaller tests on which they must stand firm before He commits to them the larger, more momentous work to which He has ultimately called them. Examples of this from Scripture are considered, and exhortations for the present situation are given.

Presenter

Skip Dodson embraced the Advent message as a 25 year old aerospace engineering graduatestudent. Over the past three decades he has served as a Bible worker, a district pastor, anadministrator, and as a college dean and religion chair. He is currently serving as a self-supporting missionary based in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Skip has been united in ministry for25+ years with his wife Renee. The couple have two young adult children, both of whom are partners with them in mission.

Recorded

  • March 6, 2021
    11:00 AM
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Father in heaven we thank you for the opportunity we have again to study your words together we're grateful for the privilege of prayer. Oh Lord May your purpose people feel in this meeting today please send your Holy Spirit to work in my life and in the lives of each member of this congregation. Father we desperately need your discernment and your wisdom here tactfulness and your her. Losses with these things as we consider the Bible. For we ask is in Jesus' name. Can a man out run horse that's the question. And the thought seems ridiculous doesn't it. In preparation for the servant I actually watched a video from the 1973 Belmont Stakes just to refresh my memory on how fast horses can run. Now I'm not going to horse racing or gambling but there is something beautiful to see horses do what they love to do which is right. And. You may recall if you're a student of history that that was the year that secretarial in the Belmont Stakes by that tremendous slowly. As far as I can tell watching the video is jockey never touched him with a crop one time throughout the race. In fact it was what the jockey did it was what he didn't do. He just didn't hold the horse back. He just let Secretariat run as fast as he wanted to run and it was really amazing about that horse's neck race is that each It was a mile and a half reverse each successive quarter mile the horse ran faster than the previous quarter mile just think about that from home so we ran the 1st quarter mile in the 2nd quarter miles faster than the 1st one the 3rd quarter mile was faster than the 2nd one and the fastest quarter mile was the last quarter mile. 2 minutes and 24 seconds to run one and a half miles that's more than twice as fast as a world class runner can run. So is it possible for a man down horse. Well the answer surprisingly is yes. You because you see as fast as horses are for short distances people can actually outrun them in a marathon 26.2 miles it's been done numerous times. Especially in warm or hot weather a man cannot run horse. In a long distance race. So the secret to keeping up with the horses is to go for the distance and not to be afraid he. A Christian life is very much a distance run isn't it. The prophet Jeremiah found that out he was discouraged but stubbornness of the professed people of God and in our scripture reading this morning we find him gently exhorting the prophet to encouraging him to step up his game and not to be afraid he. Please take your Bible and navigate to Jeremiah Chapter 12 verse 5 and we'll start there but we have another text or 2 to look at this morning as well but I want to start with our scripture reading from Jeremiah Chapter 12 verse 5 and read it one more time thanks Wayne for reading her earlier Jeremiah Chapter 12 verse 5. If you have run with the footman and they have your review then how can you contend with horses and if in the land of peace in which you trust that they were you. Then how do you do in the flood plain of the Jordan of course this latter part is a metaphor for the invasion of Palestine by the Babylonians. In today's message I want to point out 3 central things so if you're taking notes to be a good time to write something then. 3 sensual elements number one I want to point out that God's message for any generation and especially for the last generation is going to run counter to culture how many of you would agree with that today. Number 2 God often calls his messengers to tests of faithfulness and initial tests of faithfulness before he commits to them the great work of their life and the great that they have to face. And then number 3 with those 2 principles in mind I want to point out 2 areas and there are others where I believe God is calling his people today to take a very public stand in preparation for the great contest of the future. So let's start with Jeremiah. He prophesied a time of great peril for the nation of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel as you may remember as had already been long since overrun by the Assyrian Empire having turned away from God stubbornly and persistently God given them up to be conquered but instead of learning the lessons from this tragic course of events Judah the sudden Kingdom was repeating the process. You can imagine how Jeremiah must have felt under these circumstances his message was unpopular surrender to the Babylonians he said Do not fight against them and boy was that not a very popular thing to say. And not only was his message unpopular but his every word was diced and twisted He would himself was mocked and derided. And in the beginning of Chapter 12 he asks questions of God about the situation and God in His loving way responds to him in verse 5 so I want to make a couple of general observations about Jeremiah 12 verse 5 1st of all note that God is forecasting here even greater difficulties for Jeremiah and his ministry in the future isn't this true. What he tells Jeremiah it is this. Things are only going to get worse and more difficult from here so be prepared if you want with the foot and you're worn out by that accident exertion How are you going to deal with the horses that you're going to have to run with in the future. This certainly proved to be a true prophecy in Jeremiah's case. As I mentioned earlier he was hated he was derided he was mocked that he was even in prison. His words were taken by the king of Juda and set on fire his his his book was heard. If if his book of been on Amazon today would have been taken off right. Oh because of his faithful proclamation of the message that God had given to a people who were bent on apostasy and so God born is going to be a worse. Step up your game don't become complacent don't feel sorry for yourself now the 2nd thing that we should see about this text is this. God in His mercy. Does not let go of the winds of strife whether it's in an individual's life or in the life of the church all at once otherwise we would be completely overwhelmed Instead he gives us an opportunity to prepare for or to get in shape for the trouble to come this is true if we look back over our lives and we see those difficult moments where it seemed like everything was breaking in upon us it wants I'm sure if we look back prior to that we can see how God has given us opportunities to toughen up in order so that we wouldn't be able to bear things that come upon us. Running with the footman gets us ready for the horses so to speak. And I say this with the assumption that we are paying attention to and cooperating with what God is doing in our church and in our personal lives if we're ignoring his work and hell then of course the final crisis will come upon us as an overwhelming surprise and will be unprepared to face. But if we are taking this stance that we ought to take on the issues as they arise if we are addressing this since of our own lives and of the church as God reveals them to us. Then these being the footman then we will be prepared to stand for the right when the great final test comes and there is plenty of evidence for the history of the Bible I could point out numerous stories we could speak of Daniel we could speak of Joseph we could speak of many of the major characters of scripture with through which God brought. That many of whom God brought them through this process but I want to focus of this morning for just a few minutes on the story of getting. So I want you to turn with me now to judge us to our 6. Gideon is an interesting character as it relates to the end times I don't know if you've thought about this but I think so many of the stories in the Bible have eschatological overtones can can I say a phrase like that you understand what I mean write another words their stories are portraits of the end our friend Tim Rose he has a podcast called Pictures of the end and he talks about this on many of the episodes of his pockets. Get in was called to take a stand on the commandments of God which were being violated daily in his real before he was empowered to go out and do battle with the media it's you remember the story let's look at it for a moment. You're go all the story began it may be a nice for the regulators a coalition of people that were allowed by God to harass Israel because Israel according to Judge is Chapter 6 1st one you can read it right there Israel has done what everyone. Evil in the side of war. They were not walking in the way that he would have them all and versus 3 for 6 give the description of the problems they came about because of this now I want to go into detail on all of that but I will say this it sounds a lot like they were having a crisis of the border and they were dealing with the equivalent of high taxes this is make sense to everybody over everybody's away today. They had over borders and they had high taxes in some sense Israel was being impoverished and their safe you was being compromised by the Midianites you remember I'm sure that the angel of the Lord came and where the following getting. Your member. It was threshing wheat where was the threshing when. A very odd place. In the wine press. Looking for the text actually yeah that's right I thought it was verse 11 so yeah here's judges Chapter 6 verse 11 and the angel of the Lord came and sat down with a terrible tree that was it was an Oprah which belonged to Joe I watched the abuser right. While his son Gideon threshed wheat in the wind brought us in order to hide from the Midianites nobody threshed we in a whining press in a time of peace bought off since the wine press was kind of a place that was dug out a little bit he was down there I didn't threshing we and trying to keep it hidden away from the Midianites. So the question that we need to ask here is what did the angel of the Lord save it in under those circumstances well he said to get in that he was a what a mighty man of valor. And here he was threshing we in a wine press trying to hide it away he didn't look very brave at that moment did. And give you and said to him Oh my lord was this verse 120 my lord if the Lord is with us Why then has all this happened to us and where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying Did not the war bring us up from Egypt but now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the maybe you know it's well here's a perfect opportunity for the Angel of the Lord to instruct getting a little. Burst he says to him verse 14. Go in this mite of yours and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites have I not sent you. So he said to him. Well or how can I save Israel indeed my client is the weakest in Manesar and I in the least and my father stops you think anything any of that matters. Now I want to stop here and this is not my main descriptor. But I'm going to say it in a way. There are too many of God's people today who think that they must have some impressive credential in order to witness and be effective in the ministry of God This is true. It's not true at all. Gideon was offering up what maybe we would consider to be an excuse Look I can't do that I don't have any degrees I've never been to seminary. And never even finished college whatever it is for you. And that doesn't matter and then to the job of the Lord this is true. I'm not saying you should take advantage of opportunities to get training if you if the work presents them to force but the Lord is never depended upon institutions of human learning or any other type of thing. Because the Lord says to get in here in the 1st 16. Surely that's an important word which you agree surely I will be with you and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man. I mean how many didn't many nights where there are over 100000 when you get get over to the story of the battle and yet it is told here you will defeat them as one man and. Then. Getting says to him. If you now have found favor in your sight then show me a sign that it is you who talk with me do not depart from here I pray until I come to you and bring up my offering and said it before and he said I will wait until you can back and so Gideon goes and repairs a sacrificial offering in all of them and brings it what was he doing by saying that he was confessing his faith in Christ who was going to come. Now after this episode. The angel of the Lord reveals himself for who he is stretches out his staff and touches the rock and flame comes up out of the rock and consumes the sacrifice. Gideon perceives who he's been speaking with. Then after that verse $25.00. It came to pass when when did it happen the same time he came to pass the same night not 6 months from that time not 3 years later it came to pass that same night that the Lord said to him. Take your father's young goal the 2nd goal of 7 years old and do what with it everybody. Tear down the altar of bale that your father has and cut down the woman would in image that is beside it and build the altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement with a loaded phrase and we don't have time to deal with it today but there's a proper way to worship God there's a new problem why isn't there. Continuing to go and take the 2nd ball and offer burnt sacrifice with it would of the image which you shall cut. Now I want to pause here for a moment and just ask this question. What in the world was the significance of doing this when Gideon had already been given a mission can you imagine some people today if they had been approached like this they would have said wait a minute Lord you've already told me what my mission this I'm just going to wait until it's time to do that I don't need to get a public valving or broader than this. You know dealing with idolatry here that's not my out that's not my fight. You told me I was supposed to go out to feed the Midianites. But God has waited before you do that. You've got to practice taking some stands for things do you see what I mean. And that same night after he had visited been visited by the angel of the Lord. And the Lord told him what to do. He went out and destroyed the altar of Bale now I want to think about for a moment what this in detail because if you have searched high and alone because the spring is today I doubt that you will find any altars to bail and you probably won't find any wooden images you may find one or 2. But I don't think you will find very many that would be exactly like what Gideon was called Deal. But the worship at this altar and the image that stood beside what did all this entails Well it entailed the direct violation of God's commands a number of them actually. Did this involve the violation of the 1st command. You shall have no other gods before me yes it did did involve the violation of the 2nd command you should not make and the any graven image you better believe it well that what about the 3rd command. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Well some people think it is only broken when you swear or use God's name in a flippant way that's not the only way to break the command these people were call. By the name of God. Were they not they were God's people. And they professed to worship the God of heaven and yet here was this altar of bail and this wooden image in their midst do you think that that's taking the name of the Lord in vain being call Christian but not living like a Christian yes it is so they were definitely breaking that commandment as well I don't know if they were breaking the 4th commandment in this context but it's possible that they were and the 5th Commandment What's the principle there gone are your father and your mother wasn't God their Father where they are married to him. The 6th commandment was often broken in the worship of the pagan worship of that age human sacrifices child sacrifices and so on the 7th commandment was also often violated in the context of pagan worship and those in those those days and I could go on and on all the way through but you see the point don't you. The violation of the commandments of God. Was to be rebuked and Gideon was call by tearing the altar down and building a new altar to Jehovah he was called to take a bold stand for the commandments of God and not only the commandments of God but by offering the bull on the altar What was he doing there what was he preaching there he was preaching the gospel he was preaching Christ who was to come and become the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world so Gideon was called to take a bold stand for the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus before he got to his ultimate mission. Of defeating the Midianites. Now lest we think that the people of that generation were any less attached to their idols than are the people of the present time no the response of the men of the city when the discoveries made that the altar bail had been destroyed. Judges Chapter 6 1st 30 gives it to us what happened what did they say. Bring out your son that he may guy they said Joe Ashe Gideon's father now I think Joe ashes response is a great response Joe asked said no way if bail was a God let him plead for himself if it's all true has been destroyed. And he gets a good response. And you get in got a new name that day is name became Gerald Bale which means you got bail will contend. Now this was intended to be a forecast of Gideon's cancellation However as the Bible story points out given refused to be cancelled he took the heat God sustained it and the next thing we read of good in verse 34 is this but. That's an important word of don't visit in contrast to that forecast that bedo will contend with him oh no bail wasn't going to contend with anybody because the spirit of the Lord came upon it it seems that that experience was instrumental in preparing him to do the ultimate work he was called to do and without that experience he would never have been prepared to take on the Midianites that we did. So Gideon by taking that stand against the prevailing since of his age was prepared for the greater task of defeating the Midianites and had he refused to speak up and take action in this local context it is doubtful that he ever would have ventured on the larger battlefield. So here's the question that we come to at this point in the message. All of this all of this up to this point has been historical But you know what they say about history. It tends to repeat itself are we dealing with anything different today. And what these gentlemen Jeremiah and Gideon dealt with in their time you know nothing different in principle of least. And I fear that there are many 7th Day Adventists listening to this message who have a misunderstanding of our prophetic role they are failing to see the practice tests that God is presenting before us if we will take hold of them will prepare us for our ultimate great work of standing up for his only day. Yes they rightly see that the great final test will have to do with the record recognition of God as the creator redeemer of Earth by honoring the day which he set aside from the rest of the week to commemorate that work the 7th day sabbath of the 4th Commandment. They believe that when the keeping of the commandment is infringed upon by civil government under the influence of an apostate church that then it will be time to take a stand. I agree that this will be the great final test of loyalty to God. But the question that I want to ask is this Has God called us to sit idly by while the other 9 commandments are mot ridiculed vilified and generally disobeyed or is he calling us to say something about that and take a stand. Listen to these words written over a century ago but still very relevant today. The writer says in every generation God has sent his servants to rebuke sin both in the world and in the church but the people desire smooth things folk into them and their pure unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers in entering upon their work determined to show great to boast scuse me to exercise great prudes in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped by the example of a pure Christian life to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. Course that's very important is to have a pure Christian life to have a pure church very important. But evidently that's not all there is to it because Notice how the paragraph continues but the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon the lodge and moving him to rebuke the sins of the wicked king in an apostate people they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible doctrines which they have been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare their truth and danger which threatened souls the words which the Lord gave them they utter fearless of consequences and people were compelled to hear the warning. You think those words are still relevant today Yeah they sure are. But friends it seems that many of us are acting as if the only command we cared about was the 4th. Branch as I mentioned earlier the last time I checked there are 9 others that are just as important. And are we being faithful to our commission as a prophetic movement if we call out the transgression if we fail to call off the transgression of the other night Commandments that is being either mandated or encouraged by both our government our culture and in the past a church. Listen to what Isaiah says about that kind of thing I say a 56 verse 10 Isaiah said in his time. Is watchman are blind they are all ignorant they are all dumb dogs they cannot bark sleeping lying down. Loving to slumber. What an indictment of the people and especially of the leaders of the people who are supposed to serve as the guardians of truth. God forbid that these words should apply to us. But I want to consider 2 examples of areas where I think that God's people individually and corporately ought to be speaking out in this generation. The 1st. Is the whole phenomena of the l g b t movement. Now I want to state up front that we should be kind to everyone regardless of their choices loving our neighbor means that we speak to others and of others in a way that is calculated to redeem we're not talking about scorching in scathing words that are only calculated to stir animosity. But on the other hand to say nothing when souls are in danger. Is not a loving thing to do. And so we must speak out. And it's true that 7th Day Adventists published statements in the past regarding these issues and of course there's nothing wrong with that but surely that's not all there is to it after all who would say we had fulfilled our mission of as a church if all we did to spread the very dangerous message was to publish the book 7th Day Adventists believe and call that good. Are we not also call to proclaim the message publicly and from house to house course we are. Therefore I'm not convinced that we have fully done our duty if all we do is publish some general position statements once in a while as accurate as those statements may be. The reality is friends and you know this to be true most people are never going to read those states they need to hear the truth from a warm body. This is true. We need live creatures and live people who will do to face Love the sinner on the one hand and that's ultimate of all the matter importance but of those same importance on the other hand is to hate the sin and call it by its right name would you agree with me on those 2 issues. And the truth is that the o.t. p.t. phenomena violates the 7th commandment of the deck of love because it adulterated relationship with God designed to be pure holy just and good. It introduces confusion into an area of life which God designed to be beautiful and fulfilling in its simplicity. In addition the l z b t movement also violates the created order of which the 4th Commandment is a commemoration do we recognize that for. The reality is that our culture today is in this in this area especially at war with nature and with the God who created the natural world. Friends How can I be more plain than to say this God created gender it is not a social or emotional construct God created male and he created female and though the 2 are equal they are not changeable or are interchangeable are we all clear on that. Now I can tell you that a good surgeon could probably alter my face to look like that of a monkey maybe one have to do a lot of work. But would that make me a monkey friends. Would. Some people have pig valves surgically installed in their hearts to replace a diseased or defective human heart behalf our friend Ermine has a mechanical valve and a cow fell off both in her art that doesn't make her a robot and it doesn't make her a cow. Or a clear nor does it make people pigs who have big valves. Like why is just because I'm a man just because a man willingly allows his genitalia to be mutilated and transformed and takes certain hormones and has mother surgery to produce a feminine look not of that makes him a woman at least in God's eyes. What is so soonest are about all of this and you probably heard about this in recent days in the news there are forces at work among our elected officials to make this despicable work something which children can embark on without the consent or even the knowledge of their parents. It's a sad thing in a sin for an adult man or woman to take such a step to encourage impressionable children to do it while denying their parents the opportunity to give them counsel is a high crime against heaven and should be called out as such which are great. And I want to make another analogy on the same coin. I mentioned a moment ago that God created 2 genders. Now yes I'm aware of gender disorders that exist in a very tiny minority of people those cases should be addressed in a way that doesn't of violence to nature. But I want to assert that it's always a bad idea to make a rule based on the exceptions this is true. But the broader question is this. What does it mean spirited when people decide they want to change the gender the God through His Providence gave them through their birth. Well let me ask another question and see if you get the point what did it mean when the church decided that it was not happy with the sabbath of the Bible and wanted to exchange it for the 1st day of the week are the 7th day and the 1st 1st day interchangeable the reality is that they are not and the effort to trans Furrer amusing that emphasizing that syllable and for our own purpose you probably pick that up but the effort to transfer or the solemnity from God's day to another day is invalid and will ultimately fail you can make the 1st day of the week look like the Sabbath. You can make try it you can try to make it feel like the Sabbath you can hold church services on the 1st day of the week to make people think it's the South but facts are facts Sunday is not the Sabbath and can never be changed into the Sabbath and if you're listening to this message today maybe you're already convinced of that but is it any different in principle friends to propose to change one's gender my answer to that is under no circumstances. The 2 issues that I brought up to you are part of the same platform of up position against the career the proposal to change one's gender and the proposal to change the day of rest from the 7th day to the 1st if that's true and I believe it is how is it possible for any Christian this truly stands for the internal validity of the 7th day sabbath and to remain silent on the validity immutability and specificity of gender no friends it is impossible for both the so-called sex change and the so-called Sabbath change to be valid they are parts of the same war against God's authority in both must be opposed. Now I know I'm short on time oh my goodness I am short on time all right bear with me we're almost done. I want to mention one other area where I believe we should be speaking out and this is in the area of cancelled culture and free speech Oh I know what some of you might say all those are political issues no friends they are not. They are moral issues that some politicians are discussing but those discussions do not make the an issue the issues inherently political Let me ask you this question What exactly is council culture all about isn't it about depriving someone of their livelihood because you disagree with their opinions is that what it is you all agree with that right Ok so what does the word livelihood mean Anyway well I looked up the definition. It is defined as a person's means of maintaining life. So if you seek to deprive someone of their means of maintaining life what are you leaving them with. Up def You got it but so what is the spirit behind this effort to deprive people of their means of maintaining life it is the spirit of hatred it is the spirit of murder it is the spirit of persecution and intolerance. Is not just a pollution no no it's a moral issue. And God help us here for afraid to say anything about moral issues I mean the Bible is full of that stuff. If the Bible condemns anything it condemns this Abel was the 1st person in the Bible to be cancer his brother Cain cancelled him quite completely why because he didn't appreciate evel expressed expressing his religious views which were different to those that came and so he killed the deprived him of his means of maintaining life very completely Pharaoh sought to cancel Moses and Aaron so that their message would not influence the Hebrews to break free from his totalitarian yoke he called their message lying words and he tried to censor them so that the children of Israel were not going to hear these lie words nowadays Moses and Aaron Smith 6 would be called harmful disinformation. They would have their Twitter accounts. Revoked. Pharaoh also made it much more difficult for the Hebrews to her in their living you remember what he did he told them that they had to go get their own straw or make brick wall that imposed unthinkable burden upon those people. And were it not for the intervals ition of God Pharaoh would have rounded Israel to nothing by his dreadful an act once. But God pronounce judgment against Pharaoh and then he executed France I could go on and on but you get the point I hold up we do remain silent as we see people being canceled whether we agree with them or not politically spiritually or on any other level should we not defend every person's right to speak freely without the fear of persecution. I assure you that the time will come when we will all wish that we had more of this liberty. Of we not to defend it now not as a political football but as a god given right. So let me close with this call decision almost 40 years ago believe it or not I was a distance runner. At the college I attended I ran cross-country. The goats used to send us out to a little hill near campus we would run that hill sometimes for the whole practice I'm sure you can imagine how much fun that was. I didn't like that hill at the time none of my teammates did either. But when it came time for me a meet and we had to run our hilly little 5 mile course we saw the value of our time spent on that other hill. Other teams that came from flatter parts of the country were not used to hills. And even though I was not a particularly fast runner us I would often glide up the hills past the other team because of the time that I spent on the little hill side campus. Our mission friends is turning out to be a distance race and not a sprint are we willing to be trained on the hills of difficulty that are present with us now. In order that we might be ready to ultimately stand up for the truth of God's word. In the final grade test. If we fail to take notice and take stands on these smaller issues I wonder how it will be when the real tests the bigger tests go. Who is willing to day to say I want to take advantage of these practice tests for the final exam I want to train on the little hills so that when the big race comes I'm ready to run a triumph of how many of you would like to take a stand today and say yes I want to take stands now so that I am ready to stand in the future may God help us to do so. This media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons leave a visit w w w dot audio verse or.

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