TEXT FOR PRAYER
Live Not Unto Self
I shall read from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 67, the first and second paragraphs–
“The wheat develops, ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.’ The object of the husbandman in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the growing plant is the production of grain. He desires bread for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine Husbandman looks for a harvest as the reward of His labor and sacrifice. Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit-bearing, — the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others. The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit for itself, but to ‘give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.’ So no man is to live unto himself. The Christian is inthe world as a representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls.”
We shall now pray that we let Christ reproduce Himself in us, and that through us He may work to reproduce Himself in others; that we live not unto ourselves; that we remember that the Christian is to be a representative of Christ in all things.
“THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”
Our text is found in Jeremiah 23, beginning with the fifth verse down to the eighth, inclusive.
Jer. 23:5 — “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”
Here is a prophecy of the first advent of Jesus, the Righteous Branch, Who is to execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Jer. 23:6 — “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
“In his days;” that is in the days the Righteous Branch is raised, in the days of Jesus, in the Christian era. Plainly, then, some day in the Christian period, Inspiration makes known, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely on the earth. This promise, therefore, is made, not to unbelieving Jews, but to believing Christians, to those who have made the Lord’s righteousness their own.
Nevertheless these Christians, we are here told, are the descendants of both Judah and Israel who as a result of the dispersion, and also in joining the Christian church, have through the centuries lost their racial identity. The Christian church, therefore, according to the Scriptures is in the main made up of the descendants of Jacob, whose seed was to be as the sand of the sea for multitude.
They are to call Jesus THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS: They will clearly see that their own righteousness is but filthy rags, and will fully make Christ’s righteousness their own. Otherwise they could not rightfully call Him “the Lord our Righteousness.”
Jer. 23:7, 8 — “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”
Having come to the great gathering day in the Christian period, — to their deliverance from all countries, to the second and antitypical Exodus (Isa. 11:11), — naturally they will not say, “The Lord liveth that brought us up out of Egypt,” or “out of Babylon,” but “the Lord liveth that brought us up out of all the countries whither He had driven us.” They give Him the credit for their dispersion, and for their gathering, and also for dwelling safely in their own land. These, you see, are not unbelieving Jews, but thoroughly converted Christians. They shall inhabit the land.
Moreover, when this takes place there will be no fear and no killing among God’s people, — no guns fired and no bombs dropped on them. The people shall dwell safely. “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” Isa. 33:24.
“For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her…. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be My people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent Me unto thee.” Zech. 2:5, 10, 11.
The important thing right now is to find out what the Lord’s righteousness is and how to make it our own righteousness so that we may have the right to His Kingdom.
The Lord, however, first desires to know what we have against Him:
Mic. 6:3-5 — “O My people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against Me. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.”
Since we cannot think of anything that we might have against the Lord, we had better find out what Balaam’s answer unto Balak was, so that we learn what the Righteousness of the Lord is, and how to make it our own. Let us therefore turn to the book of Numbers–
Num. 23:16, 17 — “And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus. And when he came to him, [when he came to Balak] behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the Lord spoken?”
Now let us hear Balaam’s answer:
Num. 23:18, 19 — “And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor: God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”
God’s Righteousness, you see, is His integrity, His sure promises, His might to perform. He guarantees His promises; they never fail. To have the Righteousness of the Lord, therefore, is to have His integrity and faithfulness, and these we can never have so long as we mistrust Him. Never so long as we doubt His Word, for to doubt is nothing short of calling Him a liar! To doubt is the greatest offense one can commit! No one can doubt God and still receive His blessings and promises. To have the Righteousness of the Lord, therefore, is to implicitly trust Him without reservation. And where does He expect us to begin? — He wants us to begin with the thing that troubles us most — the temporal things of tomorrow. He wants us to learn that we cannot serve self and God, too:
Matt. 6:24-26 — “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
These three verses plainly say that to live to make a living, and to worry how you are to fare tomorrow, is nothing less than serving mammon (self); that you cannot serve self and God at the save time; that if you serve God you should be as free from worry of the future as are the birds. Yes, you should be even more confident of His care, for you are worth more than are the birds. You are whole-heartedly to know that so long as you serve Him, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Isa. 41:17 — “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.”
Isa. 49:15 — “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”
Matt. 6:27-34 — “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Take no thought for the morrow, for it will take care of itself — why cross bridges before you come to them? Why worry how you are to fill up your stomachs and with what you are to cover your bodies tomorrow if they are cared for this day? Why worry about your own needs, why not worry how to advance the Kingdom of God? Putting in overtime to make tents or cobble shoes for a living is all right if you do not say, “I will do this and the other and get money to buy and build this or that.” You should instead say, “If God permits, I will do this or that, so that I may get here or get there, do this and the other for the advancement of His cause.” Whatever the aim behind your act it must be for the advancement of His Kingdom.
Why not make your chief interest His business? Why not the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, so that “all these things be added unto you”? Why work to feed yourself? Why not work for God and let Him feed and clothe you? He is far more capable of providing for you than you will ever be. Why not let Him take charge of your work, of your home, of your body?
While you do His bidding, He will never fail you. Why not do this and be an altogether Christian? Why be a Christian in name, but a Gentile in heart and faith? Work no longer for self, work for God and be free of worry, free of having to make your own living in your own way. The fishermen of Galilee while fishing in their own way failed, but when they cast the net where Jesus said they should cast it, it was instantly filled with fish.
Know first that God is not interested in your selfish business, but in you and His saving business. There is therefore no need of you serving mammon (self), and at the same time expecting His blessing on mammon’s interests. No man even in the world can work for his own interest and still expect his firm to promote him, or keep him at any post of duty. No employer hires persons because he wants his employee to make a living, but only because he wants his own business cared for. Know that God’s business is of greater importance and of further-reaching consequences than any man’s business, and that God is more particular than any man ever was or ever will be.
Matt. 11:28-30 — “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Always remember that God has not called you to your post of duty in order to feed you or to make you rich, but to save you and to save others through you. Therefore, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Then and then only will He provide “all these things,” the things God sees fit to give. He will see that you earn your needs one way or another. Nothing less than the faith of Noah, of Job, and of Daniel will pay the bill, Brother, Sister, because anything short of this is an insult to God. It is the same as to call Him a deceiver. Doubt in the promises of God completely robs the doubter of all God’s blessings and promises. Only when you learn to trust Him will He be to you “as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isa. 32:2.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This promise held good in David’s time, and it will hold good now:
Ps. 4:5 — “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”
By personal experience David knew God’s faithfulness: Having done all that was to be done in serving God, he was confident that when the bear and the lion came to devour his lambs, God would deliver him if he did all he could to spare them.
Moreover, believing that God had promised the kingdom to him, and having been anointed to be king over God’s people, David doubted nothing. Recognizing his duty, he fearlessly went after the giant Goliath who was defying God and His Kingdom, and he was confident that the giant could not harm him. By faith he freed his people from the power of the giant. By faith he overcame the lion and the bear, and saved the lambs. By faith he knew that Saul could not take his life, nor deprive him of the throne.
No, there is neither beast nor man that can take your life or cheat you of promotion if you do God’s bidding, if you know that He Who keepeth Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers (Ps. 121:3, 4); that He knows all about you, my friends, every moment of the day and of the night; that He takes notice even of the hairs that fall from your heads; that whatever befalls you is but God’s own will for your own good. I say, if you know and believe that He is God and the Keeper of your bodies and souls, then regardless what befalls you, you will be happy in it and give God the credit for it, not murmuring, but glorying even in your trials and afflictions.
Isa. 26:4 — “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.”
If you wholeheartedly trust in God, and if the world should fall into space and collide with the stars, you shall happily fly along with God.
Let us now turn to 2 Corinthians, the first chapter, and see what Paul knew by experience about God’s care over him:
2 Cor. 1:8, 9 — “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
Paul learned by personal experience that it is futile to trust in man and self, but that it pays high to trust in God, that He alone is able to protect and keep both body and soul.
Psa. 127:1 — “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
Many of God’s faithful people had the same experience as Paul. Time, however, will not permit me to speak of more than a few. When we enter into the belief which the Bible recommends, then we are ready to enter into the experience which God wants us personally to be in, which after all counts most to us. Let me first give you my own as a concrete example of what God does when we let Him.
While running a small hotel in the middle west back in 1919, I became intensely interested in religion, and providentially joined the Seventh-day Adventists. They were at the time meeting in a rented hall, not too attractive for a church. The people appeared to be very poor. Aside from the preacher I was the only one that was driving a car, and he had a worn out Ford that I would not have given a dollar for it if I had to drive it.
Imagine now what went through my mind, and you may know that I joined the church only for Truth’s sake. Indeed, I had no other encouragement. My hopes of getting rich someday became a nightmare of getting poorer. Yes, the Devil gave me as good a picture of poverty as he gave the Lord a picture of the glory of the kingdoms. I nevertheless resolved to stay by the Truth I had learned regardless what happened.
Then the time came that I sold the hotel and accidentally got into a grocery business. But after a time I found that I did not want to be in it, and I sold it at a loss. Then that dark and gloomy picture of coming poverty enlarged itself a hundred-fold, but I did my best to keep happy in the Lord.
Some time after I had disposed of the grocery store, I left the city, and six months later I landed in California. There I took sick, and after doing all I knew what to do, one of the retired Seventh-day Adventist ministers that lived in the same place where I was living, said, “Let me take you to the Glendale Sanitarium, and I will recommend you as of good and regular standing with the church, and they will give you good service and a lower rate, too.”
When we got to the desk, and after the minister told him all he had to say, the sanitarium clerk asked me what kind of a deposit I could leave for admission. I said, “A check.” (It somewhat surprised me, for I had been in a hospital before but was never asked to pay anything in advance, — no, not even when I was dismissed. They sent me the bill by mail.) When he saw that the check was drawn on an Illinois bank, I had to explain that I was somewhat new in the west and had not yet transferred my bank account. The clerk reluctantly took the check, and I was assigned to a room, and politely told that I had to wait for the doctor until he should come around.
Well, I waited all that day, but not a soul came in! In the evening, as sick as I was, I put on my clothes and went for supper into the dining room. Then I was told that the doctor was away, but he would see me just as soon as he came back. For four days this went on, and not a soul came into my room! I could have died and no one would have known it until perhaps days after. I suppose they had to get the money from the bank and find out if my credit was good before they would give me service!
Finally on the fourth day, the Sanitarium chaplain came with apologies for his delay to see me. “If I had known that you were a Seventh-day Adventist,” he explained, “I would have seen you sooner.” I was not expecting him, though, and it did not make much difference with me. But I said to myself, “If you did not know what I was, you should have come sooner.”
At last the doctor came and after a thorough examination, I was told that I was a very sick man and had to have a special day and night nurse to look after me and to give me the hydrotherapy treatments. With my consent a student nurse came in. But when the shadows of evening stretched over the sky, the nurse told me that they were short of special nurses, and so he himself was to wait on me all through the night if I let him move his cot into my room. All the time I was there, though, he never once got up at night to wait on me.
And thus I had a private day and night nurse, and in the end I was charged 50 cents an hour — six dollars daily for him to wait on me during the day time, and six dollars nightly for sleeping with me in the room! This along with the additional charges was a heavy drain on my already dwindling savings. And the picture of growing broke and of staying poor grew larger and larger in my own mind, but I recovered from my illness, and was thankful.
This Sanitarium incident, though, produced another disappointing picture in my mind. Is that Sanitarium God’s place for His sick people? I asked myself. Is this people really God’s people? The answer that came to these question was this: the Sanitarium is God’s, and the church is God’s, but the people that are running them are reactionaries, they are the modern priests, scribes and Pharisees, that there is a need for more Samaritans among them. This is where God’s Truth is, though, and God helping me, I said, I shall stay with it. Yes, God did help me, I kept the faith, complained about nothing and stayed in the church with as good record as any.
After I left the hospital, however, I was weak and my bank account was almost depleted. It appeared to me, too, that there was nothing that I could get into with the Sabbath off, that I would fall to the mercy of some charity, or else starve. Moreover, for several months I had sent neither tithes nor my pledges of offerings to the church in the middle west, consequently I owed something like $75. I thought then that if I should fail to pay this debt now while I had enough to pay it, I could never again get that much money together and it would have to stay unpaid forever. Better get broke now, I said, and be free of debt than to get broke later and to be a debtor forever.
My bank account, I figured, was just a little over my debt. When I wrote a check for the whole balance and sent it to the church in the middle west, I was left with $3.50 in my pocket, and with no prospect of a job. Then I wrote to the bank in the middle west that I was closing my account and that they should send the cancelled checks and other papers to my address in California.
At this point of my life, though, the table turned around as much as it turned with Abraham after he had done all but slay his son Isaac on the altar of God. Just a few days after I had written to the bank I heard from them, and to my great surprise they had inclosed a check for about $350 as my final balance! I never discovered how it happened.
In the meantime I got a job in a washing machine agency, and just then the Seventh-day Adventists were having their 1923 camp meeting in Los Angeles. And so I decided to attend and between meetings to try to sell Maytag washers in the neighborhood. And what do you suppose? I sold a washer a day and a few vacuum cleaners on the side. This went on all the while the camp lasted, and my first check from the company was about $425. But this was not all, just then another surprise overtook me. Some years before, I had bought stock which I had made up my mind was worthless, but to my surprise I received a letter in which the corporation inquired if I would like to sell it back to them, and the price they offered was more than double the price which I had paid! Here I had a real experience all of my own as promised in Malachi 3:10.
Moreover, this Maytag agency was new, and when I went to work for them, they had but a small place. All the while I worked for them, though, they prospered and grew as did Laban while Jacob worked for him. In three years’ time they opened branch offices all over the vicinity of Los Angeles, and then erected a building of their own which looked like a bank inside and out, one block deep and something like sixty feet wide. As to how their prosperity ended I will tell you a little later.
My unexpected success in selling washing machines, of course, was used as a boost pump to the other salesmen, and the sales manager became very inquisitive about my religion. The last I talked with him he said to me: “Houteff, it must be wonderful to believe as you do, but you know I could never be a Seventh-day Adventist.” I then asked why could he not be, and he replied: “Because if I begin to keep the Sabbath as you do, I will lose my job.”
I said, “It is better to lose your job than to lose your life.” And the conversation ended. But the next time I went into the office I saw a wreath hanging on the door, and everything seemed to be upset. Then I was told that Mr. Harney, the sales manager, had suddenly taken sick the night before and died early that morning.
About that time the head bookkeeper, too, became interested in discussing religion with me. As time went on, I discussed the same I had discussed with Mr. Harney, and at last he, too, said, “Houteff, it must be wonderful to feel as you do, but I could never be a Seventh-day Adventist.”
I said, “Why?”
“Oh, I could not keep the Sabbath and my job, too,” he replied.
“Well,” I said, “it is better to lose your job than to lose your life, Mr. Barber.”
And surely enough, the next time I went into the office, I found everybody talking instead of working! Then I was told that Mr. Barber, the head bookkeeper, was found dead that morning in his room! Believe it or not, but this is what happened with both men after they sold their convictions for the price of a job!
A little later, I thought that I should have something of my own instead of continuing to work for Mr. Sleuter. So I was spending most of my time with experiments on health sweets, and as I then sold a washer only now and then, I was not too popular with the company. And as the company owed me some commissions, I decided to find out why were they held back. After discussing the matter several times with the sales manager he put me off each time with a promise to “see to it.” But one day I pressed the matter harder, and as a result he said, “Houteff, I am tired with this and I don’t care, you can quit.” Next time I went in, I learned that Mr. Lisco, the sales manager, was discharged and that Mr. Foster had taken his post! Mr. Lisco, you see, was the one who had to quit, not I!
I then went to see the new manager about my commissions. He promised to investigate the matter and to let me know the next time I came in. He, though, did the same thing Mr. Lisco did. And when I pressed the matter as hard as I did with Mr. Lisco, he, too, said, “Houteff, I am tired with the thing, and do not care if you quit.” Peculiarly enough, though, the next time I went in, I was told that Mr. Foster, the sales manager, was discharged and was no longer with the company! I still was.
By this time I had created enough business with my health sweets to keep busy and was about to quit altogether. I then went to see Mr. Sleuter himself about the aforementioned commissions, but he received me very coldly, and plainly told me that I had nothing coming! I quit. But in the space of less than about six months, I think it was, he lost the agency and another man took over the company! This is the way his prosperity ended.
Not long after I had gone to work for this company and while canvassing, I met a woman whose husband was of Jewish descent, but she was Scandinavian, and a Seventh-day Adventist. She told me that her husband was terribly opposed to her religion and at one time he threw her Bible into the stove. She wished I could in some way help her husband change his attitude. I asked her to tell him that I would like to see him in his home the following night. She promised to try it and then to let me know.
He sat down to several studies with me in his home with the family present. I was surprised, though, to find him very agreeable to what was presented, altogether contrary to what his wife had told me! After I had given him three studies he called me aside, pulled his pants-pockets inside out and said to me, “You see, I have a big family to feed and only three cents in my pocket. Before you came to me,” he explained, “I did everything to get a job but failed. In my distress,” he continued, “I prayed for the first time in my life. I asked the Lord to send someone to show me what to do. When I heard you were coming,” he added, “I thought it was in answer to my prayer, and I was anxious to meet you. And that is why you found me so open-minded to your religion. But now,” he said, “I know that God sent you.”
I asked him if he would like to sell washing machines, and he replied, “I am ready to do anything you suggest.” I took him to the company I was working for, and he went to work immediately, trucking with his own pickup. His wages, and a few sales occasionally brought him over $200 monthly.
He owned the house he was living in, and as living was not so high in those days, he was able to save a good share of his wages. After a time he sold his house, bought a five-acre plot and built a new house and a good poultry shed on the plot. Then he told me that he intended to work for the company about 18 months longer, and by that time he would have his house and land all clear, or somewhat clear, and then he could make a good living on his five-acre plot.
Well, it all looked fine. But one Sabbath morning he met me in church and told me that the company was to be taken over that day. He wanted to know if I would go with him and listen to the speeches while the transfer was being made. I reasoned with him that it was not the place to spend the Sabbath in, but he argued that if he were not present they might hire another man in his place, and he could not afford to lose his job. He therefore attended the business meeting. Shortly after, though, the new company discharged him. Consequently he could not keep the payments on the property and the trust company foreclosed on it! Then his wife died!
Anyone can see that all these sequential events of the day, closely tied one to another with nothing else in between, could not possibly have been accidental, but strictly Providential.
Now let me relate to you another miracle that took place about that time. One Wednesday I drove to the business section of Los Angeles. Having finished my business quite late in the afternoon, and while walking across a street, I saw a woman driving toward me. But as I was almost to the middle of the street, I saw no danger for there was plenty of room for her to drive by. She nevertheless turned her car right square into me. Yes, she struck me from my left, and being overly excited she could not stop her car before she reached the middle of the block. And so she kept on going from the corner of the street to the middle of the alley. What happened to me when the car struck me? Did it lay me flat on the street, and did it run over me? No, this did not happen because something greater took place:
An unseen hand carried me on ahead of the car, lightly sliding my feet on the pavement with my right side ahead, and my left side against the car’s radiator! After having made about half the distance before the car stopped, something seated me on the bumper of the car, and I put my left arm around the car’s left headlight! Then I said to myself, “Now lady you can keep on going if that is the best you can do.” When she stopped, I put my feet on the ground and stepped away from the car.
Just then I discovered that the pencil I had in my coat pocket had broken into half a dozen pieces from the impact, but my ribs were untouched! By that time the car and I were surrounded with people, and three policemen searching for the man that got run over. But as they found no one lying on the street, or pinned under the car, I told them that it was I who had been run over! They wanted to take me to the hospital, and when I told them that I was not hurt, I heard one say, “He must be hurt but is too excited and does not know his condition.”
Then they made me raise my legs and arms up and down, several times, after which one shouted, “He is made out of rubber!” The woman was accused of driving at 30 miles per hour. Then I walked three blocks to my car, and drove to prayer meeting in Exposition Park church, where in our season of testimonies I told them of the accident and the results. We are still living in the days of miracles, you see.
After all these and other experiences, then came the message which we are now endeavoring to take to the Laodiceans. The enemies of the message then left nothing unturned in their search for something against me, rather than to make sure that they were not turning down Truth. They tried every hook and crook to pin something on me and to stop my activities, but found nothing and as a rule about 30 members of the church stayed in my special meetings each Sabbath afternoon. Then came the time that the elders of the church refused to let us use the church for our meetings, and they made us all get out. But one of the sisters who was living in a big house right across from the church offered her place for the meetings, and there was a great uproar among the people around the church premises. Some were for us and some were against us. So it was that the house across from the church was filled that afternoon and many listened from the outside through the windows. The enemies failed to break up our meetings, and the victory was ours.
Next they forbade us to attend their church services, and they began to disfellowship those who still wanted to attend our meetings. They tried to deport me, too, but failed. Then they endeavored to get a court order against any of us going to the church on Sabbath, but lost out. Once they called the police to have me arrested on false charges that I was disturbing the meetings, but after the officers in the police station heard my story and the deacon’s charges against me, he commanded the two policemen who brought us to the station to put us in their car again, and to take us right back to the church where they picked me up!
After this the elders endeavored to put me in an insane asylum. The “city manager” of Glendale himself (a Seventh-day Adventist) had come to this church that Sabbath morning to lay down the charges and to see me carried away and locked in the asylum. After talking with me for a few minutes, though, the officer did nothing but to tell me that he would not bother me again! Then the 200 lb. city manager felt smaller than my 135 lb. weight.
They did all these unbecoming things and many others; besides, they talked and preached against me. And though I had no one but the Lord to defend me at any time, yet in all these the victory was mine!
When we moved our office from California to Texas, where we had neither friend nor believer in the message, the church elders were glad, and thought our work would then die out for sure. It nevertheless grew more than before, although this took place in the midst of the depression, in 1935, while hundreds and thousands of businesses were going bankrupt, and while well-to-do men were becoming poor. Yet we who started out with nothing, grew and prospered. We, moreover, never took collections in any of our meetings anywhere and never made any calls for money. This holds good still. Then, too, our free literature that goes out week by week amounts to hundreds and thousands of dollars week after week, and year after year, besides the cost of building the Institution.
And today after going through the nightmare of supposing I might live a life of poverty, as I explained before, my credit is unlimited, and the checks I write amount to thousands of dollars week after week, and year after year, although I am not bonded, own no property, and have no personal bank account! Furthermore, I pay my secretaries as much as I pay myself and some of my workmen I pay twice as much. Yes, there are as great miracles today as there ever were.
Jacob, too, had no righteousness of his own but he had a great zeal and respect for the righteousness of the Lord. Esau, though, who had no regard for the righteousness of the Lord sold his birthright only for a mess of pottage. What a bargain was Jacob’s! As a result, though, Jacob became a fugitive. The first night away from home, however, God met him, and having given him a vision, Jacob put his whole trust in God and pledged to be faithful in all his duties.
To start with in Padan-Aram, Jacob had nothing but faith and zeal. He was only a good workman, that is all. These qualities Laban immediately recognized in Jacob, and as a result Laban not only offered to give Jacob his daughter Rachel for a wife, but even devised a scheme by which to force him to take both daughters — Rachel and Leah — the only girls in the family! Moreover, although Jacob dearly paid for them with fourteen solid years of hard faithful labor, he in the next six years became rich! Then on returning home, he whole heartedly, honestly, and with free conscience said to Laban:
“This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.” Gen. 31:38.
Still further, when he was asked what he wanted for his work after the fourteen years were over, he chose the wages God would pay, not Laban. For he said to Laban:
Thou shalt not give me anything, but let me pass through all thy flock today, and remove from thence all the speckled, spotted, and brown cattle, sheep and goats, and take them three days journey apart from the rest so that there be no chance for them getting mixed. To date, all the sheep and cattle, speckled or unspeckled are to be yours, but hereafter all the speckled that shall be born from among the unspeckled (the apparently impossible) shall be mine for serving thee!
Laban was well pleased with the contract and Jacob went to work. God blessed Jacob’s labors in spite of natural impossibility, and within six years he became rich! Why? — Because Jacob served God wholeheartedly, and implicitly trusted in Him for his living. He wanted nothing but what God would let him have. He knew that so long as he worked for the Lord, the Lord would leave him neither hungry nor naked. He knew that if God so clothed the grass of the field, He would clothe and feed him in His vineyard.
Since Jacob was getting rich so fast, and since his father-in-law wanted him to stay longer, and also since Jacob still feared Esau, why did he leave Laban, and why did he start for home? — The answer is simple, Because God asked him to, saying:
Gen. 31:13 — “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto Me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”
From this record, you see, Jacob was faithful at his post of duty, and always mindful of God’s command. Are we like Jacob? or are we like Judas Iscariot? Jacob, now you know, took perfect care of Laban’s business, and followed God’s direction all the way. But Judas Iscariot took perfect care of his own selfish interest at the expense of God’s Gift, and rather than following the Lord’s directions, he followed his own. Now, though, compare Jacob’s end with that of Judas’. One’s work ended in glory and the other’s work ended in shame and disaster.
For whom are you working, Brother, Sister? for yourselves or for God? — You say, “For God,” and I hope you are right, but remember, as I said before, that no business firm will promote a workman that is not interested at least as much in the prosperity of his firm as he is in the size of his wages. Moreover, no firm is interested in the workman’s private business. It is interested in its own business. God’s business, though, is far more important, and of far greater consequence than the business of any man. He, too, is not at all interested in your selfish business, He is interested in His business of saving souls. You cannot, therefore, make your own interests of first importance and His of second, and at the same time expect to reap His promises, and expect Him to answer your prayers. If such be the case, then you are even falsely calling yourself a Christian. According to Matthew 6:32, you are still a deluded Gentile.
To be a Christian in God’s sight you must never praise yourself, but praise God and His goodness. Never boast of your own interests and achievements, but boast of God’s. Never try to promote your business, but always try to promote God’s. Never pray for light to know what to do, and where to go in order that your business, your interests prosper, but rather pray for light that God help you do the thing or go to the place where you would best serve His cause, that He lead you and teach you how to advance His kingdom. Then, and then only, will you find that you never go wrong! Any motive other than this will take you where God does not want you, and where you will have to carry your own burden independent of Him.
I have seen a number of individuals swear by heaven and earth that God has led them here or there, into this or into the other. But when things did no please them, then they packed away swearing just as hard that God had not led them into the thing! And again swear just as hard as before that God is taking them out of it, and into something better! They again felt just as positive that God was leading in their move, though it was the opposite of what they thought He had led them in before!
Others have felt that God had opened the way for them to do this or the other by the fact that they had been able to get the money for the trip, or to get a buyer for one thing or another, to have this and to have that. Still others told me that they opened the Bible at random, and that their eyes dropped on a verse which indicated God’s approval of their move. One brother told me that he had flipped a coin and another had found an Indian arrow pointing in the direction he should go! All these I have seen come to naught although these indications were held as positive evidences of God’s will in the matters under question.
Let me now tell you that these indications in themselves are but presumption of the highest form, hallucination and gambling, not God’s signs at all. Moreover, anyone’s plans which are based on purely selfish interests, based purely on where and how one may better his private profit-making projects while he professes to be a Christian, — I tell you that all these are schemes, not God’s plans at all, regardless how the way opens, or what happens. The fact is that God is never given the opportunity to direct in these things, for to give Him the opportunity, He says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When you therefore make the Kingdom of God your chief interest, then you will most surely find yourself in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing and reaping God’s richest blessing. You can then rest assured that He will open the way and take you where you need to be even if He has to lift you out of the well, and to tell the Ishmaelites to carry you into Egypt and to put you working in Potiphar’s house. He may even have to take you into prison before He seats you with Pharaoh on the throne. Or He may cause you to run away from Egypt and have you keep sheep around Mt. Horeb. He may bring you against the Red Sea while the Egyptians are pursuing you. He may bring you into the desert where there is neither water nor food. The lion and the bear may come to take your lambs, Goliath to kill your people, and the king may cast you in the fiery furnace, or in the lions’ den.
Yes, hundreds and thousands of things may happen, but he that trusts in God and does His work well shall find all these so-called hindrances or mishaps wonderful deliverances, and avenues to success, all carrying out God’s marvelous plans, and God’s way toward your promotion from one great thing to another. When you are in God’s care and in His control never say the Devil did this or that regardless what it be, for he can do nothing except he is allowed to do it. Always give God the credit.
I came to America, not because I wanted to, but because God wanted me to. And since I knew not my future work, and as God could then no more make me understand than He could at first make Joseph understand his trip to Egypt, I was therefore driven out of the country at the point of a gun as was Moses driven out of Egypt, although I had done nothing to bring trouble upon myself. And who do you suppose led the rebels to storm me out of the country? None other but the Greek Orthodox bishop of the province! And where do you suppose he sponsored his pursuing campaign? In the church on Sunday morning while in his full regalia and about twenty feet from where I stood!
At that time I knew not what my going away from home to such a distant land was about, but now I know as well as Joseph knew that his brethren’s hope to defeat God’s plan for him was but God’s plan to get him down into Egypt. And so rather than to thwart the plan, they really caused the plan to be carried out!
When things go contrary to one’s will and way today, most Christians give credit to the Devil. Only when things go according to their liking do they give credit to God! Balaam, too, was happy when the way opened for him to go to Balak, but when the angel of the Lord blocked the road he was traveling on, then Balaam, became as mad as a dog and smote the ass.
No, nothing but you yourself can defeat God’s plans for you. Be it your friends or your enemies, be it beasts or kings, you will find them all unwittingly or wittingly working for your good rather than for your harm if you are doing God’s bidding. What a rich resource Heaven is! And who knows it!
Remember now, that whatever may stand in your way, be it the Red Sea or the River Jordan, be it a mountain or be it a desert, it shall become your very stepping stone.
Such as this is the righteousness of the Lord, and you can have it at the cost of your own righteousness. Then you will find the Lord’s ways as much higher than yours as the Heaven is higher than the earth. When this happens, then only you will understandingly say, “The Lord our Righteousness.”
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: for He bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, He layeth it low; He layeth it low, even to the ground; He bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.” Isa. 26:3-6.
Timely Greetings Volume 2, No. 35
By V.T. Houteff