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Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers : Page 305

15. Means and Methods

A Faithful Tithe

Cooranbong, Australia, September 10, 1896.

Many presidents of state conferences do not attend to that which is their work--to see that the elders and deacons of the churches do their work in the churches, by seeing that a faithful tithe is brought into the treasury. Malachi has specified that the condition of prosperity depends upon bringing to God's treasury that which is His own. This principle needs to be often brought before the men who are lax in their duty to God, and who are neglectful and careless in bringing in their tithes, gifts, and offerings to God. "Will a man rob God?" "Wherein have we robbed Thee?" is the question asked by the unfaithful stewards. The answer comes plain and positive: "In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Please read this whole chapter, and see if words could be spoken that would be more plain and positive than these. They are so positive that no one who desires to understand his whole duty to God needs to make any mistake in the matter. If men offer any excuse as to why they do not perform this duty, it is because they are selfish, and have not the love and fear of God in their hearts.

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No Excuse for Neglect in Payment

of Tithes

The Lord has always required this response to His arrangements in carrying forward His work in our world. He has never changed His own devised plan. He lays claim to all as His own, and of that entrusted to man, He claims His portion. "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts."

Those who plead that they cannot understand this plain and decisive statement--which, if they are obedient, means so much to them in blessings which will be received, when even the windows of heaven will be opened and blessings poured out to overflowing--are not honest before God. Their excuse that they did not know the will of God will be of no avail for them in the great day of judgment.

All to Do Their Duty

Let the neglected tithes be now brought in. Let the new year open upon you as men honest in their deal with God. Let those that have withheld their tithes send them in before the year 1896 shall close, that they may be right with God, and never, never again run any risk of being cursed of God. Presidents of our conferences, do your duty; speak not your words, but a plain "Thus saith the Lord." Elders of churches, do your duty. Labor from home to home, that the flock of God shall not be remiss in this great matter, which involves such a blessing or such a curse.

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Let all who fear God come up to the help of the Lord, and show themselves faithful stewards. The truth must go to all parts of the world. I have been shown that many in our churches are robbing God in tithes and offerings. God will execute upon them just that which He has declared. To the obedient, He will give rich blessings; to the transgressor, a curse. Every man who bears the message of truth to our churches must do his duty by warning, educating, rebuking. Any neglect of duty which is a robbery toward God means a curse upon the delinquent.

The Lord will not hold guiltless those who are deficient in doing the work that He requires at their hands--in seeing that the church is kept wholesome and healthy spiritually, and doing all their duty in allowing no neglect which will bring the threatened curse upon His people. A curse is pronounced upon all who withhold their tithe from God. He says: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house."

This is not a request of man; it is one of God's ordinances, whereby His work may be sustained and carried on in the world. God help us to repent. "Return unto Me," He says, "and I will return unto you." Men who have a desire to do their duty have it laid down in clear lines in this chapter. No one can excuse himself from paying his tithes and offerings to the Lord.

The Lord bestows His gifts abundantly upon us. He "so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Every blessing we have

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comes through Jesus Christ. Then shall we not arouse, and do our duty toward God, upon whom we are dependent for life and health, for His blessing upon our crops and fields, our cattle, our herds, and our vineyards? We are assured if we give to the Lord's treasury, we shall receive of Him again; but if we withhold of our means, He will withhold His blessing from us, and send a curse upon the unfaithful.

God has said, "Prove Me now herewith, . . . if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." What a wonderful presentation in promised blessings is He giving us! Who can venture to rob God in tithes and offerings with such a promise as this! "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."

Another year has nearly passed into eternity, with its burden of record. Let us look over the past year, and if we have not done our full duty willingly, heartily unto the Lord, let us come up to the new year making a faithful record to our God.

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Last Friday night I was conversing with you, telling you something with reference to your methods of labor. The heavenly Watcher stood beside us, and I wish I could write every word He uttered; but I fear that I cannot. You said: "I wish I knew in regard to my duty. In some way I do not feel satisfied with the result of my labor." The voice of the One beside us was then heard, saying: "Have faith in God; learn of Christ Jesus. When you handle the sacred truths of God's word, keep Christ uplifted. Your great need is to learn Christ's manner of teaching. When you are teaching the people, present only a few vital points, and keep your mind concentrated on these points. You bring unimportant ideas into your discourses. These are not always a 'savor of life unto life,' and have no real connection with your text. By wandering from straight lines, and bringing in that which calls the minds off the subject, you weaken all that you have previously said."

God would not have you think that you are impressed by His Spirit when you fly from your subject, bringing in foreign matters which are designed as a reproof, and which should not be named in connection with the words of solemn and sacred truth. By doing this, you lose your bearings, and weaken the effect of that which is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. You have made of none effect many precious ideas, by mixing them with other thoughts which have come to your mind but

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which had no bearing upon the subject. That which is far from the subject under consideration should find no place in your discourses.

There are in this world hearts that are crying aloud for the living God. But helpless human nature has been fed with distasteful food; discourses dissatisfying to hungry, starving souls have been given in the churches. In these discourses there is not that divine manifestation that touches the mind and creates a glow in the soul; the hearers cannot say, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" An abundance of chaff is given to the people, but this will not awaken the transgressor or convict souls of sin. The souls who come to hear need a plain, straightforward presentation of truth. Those who have tasted of the word of God have dwelt long in an atmosphere where there is no God, and they long for the divine presence.

Gird up the loins of your mind, that you may present the truth of God acceptably. Preach the truth in its simplicity, but let your discourses be short. Dwell decidedly on a few important points. Realize every moment that you must have the presence of the Holy Spirit; for it can do a work that you cannot do of yourself. If you have any burden of a disagreeable character on your mind, get rid of it by personal labor or earnest prayer before you come before the people. Plead earnestly with God to remove that burden from your mind. Keep decidedly to a few points. Give the people pure wheat thoroughly winnowed from all chaff. Do not let your discourses embrace so much that weakness shall be seen in the place of solid argument. Present the truth as it is in Jesus, that those who hear may receive the very best impression.

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Evils of Long Sermons

Speak short. Your discourses are generally double the length they should be. It is possible to handle a good thing in such a manner that it loses its flavor. When a discourse is too long, the last part of the preaching detracts from the force and interest of that which has preceded it. Do not wander, but come right to the point. Give the people the very manna from heaven, and the Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that it is not you that speaks, but the Holy Spirit speaking through you. The teacher of the word of God must first talk with God, and then he can stand before the people with the Holy Spirit working upon his mind. If he faithfully cooperates with Christ, the promise will be fulfilled, "Lo, I am with you alway."

Be careful never to lose a sense of the presence of the divine Watcher. Remember that you are speaking not only to an unenlightened assembly, but to One whom you should ever recognize. Speak as though the whole universe of heaven were before you, as well as the hungry, starving company of God's sheep and lambs, which must be fed.

Preach the Word

Those who claim to preach the word should preach the word, ever remembering that they are laborers together with God. He is their efficiency, and if He is given opportunity He will work for them. If they are humble, if they do not rely upon their own supposed wisdom and ability, God will place arguments in their mind and speak through their lips. He will also impress the minds of the hearers, preparing their hearts to receive the seed which is sown.

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My brother, a daily work must be done for you by the power of God, or else, instead of the Holy Spirit, the enemy of God and man will stand by your side. Under his influence, weakness will appear in your work. The most precious points of faith relative to the salvation of the soul will be marred and mutilated in your hands.

Unless you change your manner of labor, you will give a faulty education to those connected with you in the work. Let your heart struggle and break for the longing it has for God, the living God. Let nothing divert your mind from the work of God to unimportant matters. With all your God-given energies work earnestly and prayerfully, calling upon the church to cooperate with you. Put no trust in yourself, but rest in the assurance that God is the chief Worker. You are only His servant; and your work is to voice His words, "We are laborers together with God."

Denying of Self

Take no glory whatever to yourself. Do not work with a divided mind, trying to serve self and God at the same time. Keep self out of sight. Let your words lead the weary and heavy-laden to carry their burdens to Jesus. Work as seeing Him who is at your right hand, ready to give you His efficiency and omnipotent power in any emergency.

The Lord is your Counselor, your Guide, the Captain of your salvation. He goes before your face, conquering and to conquer. Dedicate yourself, soul and body, to Him, banishing all self-indulgence. Deny self; take up your cross, and work earnestly for the Master. Do not needlessly expend your strength by giving long

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discourses. This uses up the vitality, so that insufficient strength is left to devote to the most important part of the work--house-to-house ministry.

The Work of an Evangelist

Teaching the Scriptures, praying in families--this is the work of an evangelist, and this work is to be mingled with your preaching. If it is omitted, preaching will be, to a great extent, a failure. You need to be jealous of yourself. You and your wife need to come close to the people by personal effort. Teach them that the love of God must come into the inner sanctuary of the homelife. If you so desire, you may have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to help in your work.

We are carrying the last message of mercy to a perishing world, and God calls upon us to bring freshness and power into our work. We can do this only by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Hereditary tendencies and wrong habits must be disciplined and oft crucified. Humble yourself under the hand of God; for your ways are not God's ways, and you both have much to learn in the school of Christ.

Last night these words of instruction were spoken to you: "Counsel with your brethren. Your plans need the careful consideration of other minds." Warnings have been given in regard to depending upon men and trusting in their wisdom. The tempter aims to lead men astray by persuading them to cease looking to Jesus for strength and efficiency, and to make flesh their arm. This has been done in many cases. Satan has laid his trap to catch men and win them to his side by trying to prevail upon them to depend upon their finite, erring fellowmen.

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A Special Danger of Extremes

But when a reproof is given upon this point, the enemy takes the counsel given, and presents it in such a perverted light that those who desire to follow their own judgment feel at liberty to plan and devise important measures without counseling with their brethren. Thus another error strives for recognition. Men go to an extreme in one direction, and if corrected, go to an extreme in the opposite direction.

You will be in danger of making mistakes if you move out in your own supposed wisdom. You need counsel. You have not the efficiency for all classes of labor, and you should not commence work in important places if there is danger that you will lay a foundation which you cannot complete. Light must be expressly given by God, and duty must be clear and unmistakable before one or two men enter new and important fields. You need to counsel with your brethren; for there is danger that you will run too fast in devising plans and methods.

Words which never should have been uttered have been spoken to you with reference to your brethren. The misconceptions existing in other minds have been communicated to you, and your mind has been led in a train of speculative thought that is not safe or correct. Keep watch over your thoughts. Guard closely the impulses of your mind and heart. Words have been spoken that have led you to place more confidence in your own plans and methods than is right. Words slip from your lips, unbidden and unsanctioned by God. Take heed lest, when the time comes that you can prove yourself a friend and fill a friend's place by giving sound counsel, you are unprepared.

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You must not walk independently of all counsel. It is your duty to counsel with your brethren. This may touch your pride, but the humility of a mind taught by the Holy Spirit will listen to counsel, and will banish all self-confidence. When counsel is given that conflicts with your personal wishes, you are not to think that your own wisdom is sufficient for you to give counsel to others, or that you can afford to neglect the counsel given.

Wherever you may labor, there is need that you blend your efforts with those of other efficient laborers. You are not a complete whole; you cannot successfully complete a series of meetings by yourself, but you can do your part with other laborers. This may be humiliating to you; but it should not be, for God has given a variety of gifts, and He desires that these gifts blend in perfect harmony.

You need to realize the danger of viewing matters from your own standpoint and with your own eyes or discernment. It would be well for you frankly to state your plans to your brethren, that you may know how they appear to them when seen from their standpoint; for circumstances may be so vividly impressed upon your mind, that it is impossible for you to give an all-sided judgment. Let your plans be closely investigated; and with earnest prayer commit your case to Him who knoweth all things. Counsel together. Let not the whisperings of your own mind or of other minds close the door of your heart against the counsel of the Lord's servants.

August 9, 1896. I have written this to you because it is a serious matter, involving serious consequences,

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which will affect future work in other localities. Brother ----- needs no flattering words from you; for he has a full estimation of his own abilities and makes them appear by demeriting others. He does not realize that he is seeking to be first. He is not prepared to take upon himself the responsibilities of a minister of the gospel; for he needs a humble and a contrite spirit. He needs to continue to give Bible readings, and when his brethren see that he is fitted to become a preacher of the gospel, this will be made manifest. You need caution.

The Canvassing Work

I cannot see why the canvassing work is not as good and successful a work as can be done for the Lord. Canvassers can become acquainted with the people, they can pray with them, and can understand their true necessities. From the light which God has given me, there is much responsibility resting upon the canvassers. They should go to their work prepared to explain the Scriptures, and nothing should be said or done to bind their hands. If they put their trust in the Lord as they travel from place to place, the angels of God will be round about them, giving them words to speak which will bring light and hope and courage to many souls. Were it not for the work of the canvasser, many would never hear the truth.

The canvasser should carry with him books and pamphlets and tracts to give away to those who cannot buy books from him. In this way the truth can be introduced into many homes.

Of all the gifts which God has given to man, none is more noble or a greater blessing than the gift of speech, if it is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It is with the tongue we convince and persuade; with it we offer prayer and

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praise to God; and with it we convey rich thoughts of the Redeemer's love. By this work, the canvasser can scatter the seeds of truth, causing the light from the word of God to shine into many minds.

I sincerely hope that no mind will receive the impression that it belittles a minister of the gospel to canvass. Hear the apostle Paul's testimony: "Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." The eloquent Paul, to whom God manifested Himself in a wonderful manner, went from house to house, with all humility of mind and with many tears and temptations.

A Most Precious Ministry

I have been shown that the most precious ministry can be done by canvassing, and that by ministers. By doing this work, they will obtain a varied experience and will be doing the very work that the apostle Paul did. I copy an extract from an appeal made to our brethren in regard to canvassing for our periodicals and books: "The canvassing work is an important field for labor: and the intelligent, God-fearing, truth-loving canvasser occupies a position equal to that of the gospel minister. Then should the canvasser feel at liberty, any more than the ordained minister, to act from selfish

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motives? Should he be unfaithful to all the principles of missionary work, and sell only those books that are cheapest and easiest to handle, neglecting to place before the people the books which will give most light, because by so doing he can earn more money for himself? The canvassing work is a missionary work, and the field must be worked from a missionary standpoint. Selfish principles, love of dignity and position, should not be once named among us. The thought of seeking to become the greatest should never come into our minds."

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Neither is it the object of preaching to amuse. Some ministers have adopted a style of preaching that has not the best influence. It has become a habit with them to weave anecdotes into their discourses. The impression thus made upon the hearers is not a savor of life unto life. Ministers should not bring amusing stories into their preaching. The people need pure provender, thoroughly winnowed from the chaff. "Preach the word," was the charge that Paul gave to Timothy, and this is our commission also. The minister who mixes story-telling with his discourses is using strange fire. God is offended, and the cause of truth is dishonored, when His representatives descend to the use of cheap, trifling words.-- Review and Herald, Dec. 22, 1904.