A Christ Centered Life

We Christians live our lives in this world. Christ, in His prayer to the Father in John 17:9-18, states that we are living here and that our task is to remain apart from the evil one—by the power of God. He also mentions that our sanctification is in being set apart by the word of Truth. 

Christ lived His life with God at the center. Nothing He did or said or thought was in opposition to God. NOTHING! Multiple times He stated that He didn’t speak on His own authority but on the Father’s. Notice John 12:44-50: “Then Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

The only way for Christ to have lived His life perfectly in this world is by doing exactly what He said He did—never once taking His eyes off of God or the task for which He was sent.

We have the same opportunity that Christ had. We have been called to be here at this point in time, living our lives and accomplishing those things that God has set in motion for us. There is a purpose for us to be here now. We need to understand and keep that in mind at all times—like Christ did (compare 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).

How many times have we read Matthew 6:33—and yet I wonder how many of us truly understand what is being asked of us? Notice: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” 

Our righteousness is useless! It is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)! It is not our righteousness that we need to seek—it’s God’s! 

Seeking God first takes an enormous amount of letting go—letting go of one’s own desires and outcomes and turning everything over to God. We want to remain in control (or at least think we have control), but the Truth is that without Christ leading in our lives—showing us the way, leading, guiding and directing, we will inevitably end up following our own wants and desires and serving that which is NOT useful or good. 

Can we trust Christ to lead us? That is a question that is being asked of each of us. The answer lies in how we live our lives, in how we think, what we say, and our actions or reactions. 

We can trust Christ to lead us in good directions (Colossians 1:9-29). We can trust Him to show us how to live this life because He has already done so (Hebrews 4:14-16). We can also have faith that Christ is faithful even when we are not (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5). 

There is something truly remarkable that should come with a life that is centered around Christ. Christ mentions it in John 14:27 where He tells us: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

There are so many things in this life that we can be worried about. Stress is growing in the world all around us! Christ stated that the world would be in upheaval before His return. This cannot cause us to stumble. We have to be rooted in our Way of Life and lean on Christ, so we can stand and not be afraid—no matter WHAT happens to us. 

Philippians 4:6-7 states: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This can only truly happen when we allow Christ to lead us. The challenge for us daily is to figure out and understand if we are allowing Christ to lead in our lives! Note Ephesians 5:15-17: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Faith Is the Key

Over fifty years ago, I read a book entitled “Fear is the Key,” written by Scotsman Alister Maclean. The end of the book explained how, when a murderer could only see death ahead of him, he was willing to admit to his crime to a relative of the victim. The relative had used fear as the key to obtaining the confession. Of course, this situation was staged in an undersea vehicle with no apparent means of escape for this very purpose and was successful. After that time, I forgot about this book until recently.

Over about the last four years, fear has been the key used to influence the actions of much of the world. In fact, a new expression has been invented, that being “fear porn”. So, what is “fear porn”? It does not appear in the Oxford English dictionary or the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but the Collins dictionary defines it as, “Media content that deliberately and enticingly plays on people’s fears about disaster, disease and death. Currently used in relation to some Covid reporting.”

“Fear porn” is used like pornographic images to stimulate an emotional response and ultimately control another person’s behavior.

We hear ideas like “If you don’t get vaccinated, you could kill grandma.” Or, “No one is safe until everyone is safe.” All of this is playing on people’s emotions to increase their level of fear and get them to comply with government requirements.

Unfortunately, “fear porn” is used as a weapon against anyone, especially any professional person, who speaks against the government’s official narrative. So, as well as Covid, it also includes man-made climate change and the possibility of President Putin causing Russia to invade Europe. For example, doctors who use or recommend alternate medicine, or older inexpensive drugs, to deal with Covid are fearing losing their medical license. Scientists who provide data refuting man-made global warming fear losing research grants and their standing in scientific circles.

Currently in Europe, the citizens are constantly being made aware that Russia is going to invade Europe in the next few years. This is to increase their level of fear and their willingness to increase defence expenditure even at the cost of increased taxation.

We, as God’s people, know we are living in Satan’s world. 1 John 5:19 informs us that, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” He is the ruler of this world, a liar, a murderer and a destroyer. In fact, much of this “fear porn” consists of lies and is used to destroy.

We are told to watch as well as pray to understand the present situation. So how do we avoid being influenced by deliberately induced fear into unquestioning compliance? And how do we avoid being complacent? The key is not fear, but faith, faith in God’s promises and prophecies.

One promise we have is that although we will have trials and temptations because we live in this evil world, we will not be tempted beyond what we are able and that God will provide a way of escape that we may be able to bear it. Refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13.

We certainly may have anxieties but 1 Peter 5:6-7 encourages us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” In the English Standard Version, casting all your care is translated as casting all your anxieties. There are many other verses reminding us that God cares for us.

Regarding prophecies, some are that God will change the climate of the earth because of man’s sins. One of these prophecies concerning the people of Israel is in Deuteronomy 28:23-24. “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.”

Another prophecy in Revelation 16:8-9 gives us further information on extreme global warming that will be caused by God, not by man, but because of man’s sins. “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”

These curses and punishments will not come on these people because they do not drive electric cars or eat too much meat as these suggestions are vigorously being forced upon us. They will come upon them because of their sins. In fact, there are many scientists who believe that the current narrative on man-made global warming is a total hoax. They are the ones who are currently suppressed.

We are also made aware that the future war between the king of the North and the kings of the East will not be started by Russia and their allies invading Europe. We read in Daniel 11:44-45 that the king of the North will make a pre-emptive strike on the nations to the East and the North of him. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”

So, we see that in this world, governments and organizations use fear as a key to get people to comply with their directives without questioning; whereas we are to use faith as a key to remember God’s promises and prophecies to enable us to understand what is happening and trust God to encourage and strengthen us as we live through difficult times.

Remember the wonderful promise in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

From Dark to Light

In a world ruled by Satan, the contrast between dark and light is quite evident.  We experience this every year during God’s Spring and Fall Holy Days. God expects us to observe these Days as commanded in the Bible, while the world celebrates its man-made pagan holidays. Insofar as these holidays in the spring are concerned, the world keeps them around the same time we keep God’s Spring Holy Days – a contrast between dark and light.  

The world just celebrated Easter, erroneously believing that this has to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where “Good Friday” is claimed to be the day that Christ was crucified and Easter Sunday the day that Christ was resurrected.   The Bible says nothing of the kind. There is nothing “good” about this and Isaiah 5:20 even points this out, saying, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”  

The Bible and historical records prove, instead, that Christ was crucified and buried late on Wednesday and that He was resurrected late on Saturday, just before sunset.  Had this not been the case, Christ would not have fulfilled the only sign that He gave the Pharisees for His Messiahship — that is, to be dead and buried in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:38-40).

Modern Christianity has done exactly what God forbids by incorporating pagan aspects into the worship of God. But God says, “You shall NOT worship the LORD your God in that way!” (Deuteronomy 12:31). Our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days,” goes into this in much more detail. 

We know what the Truth is.  And even though we have to face this test every year since we live in this world, having to go through the distractions of pagan worship, we must remain attentive to God and His righteousness.  The darkness of Easter has just passed, and we look forward to the light just ahead of us in the observance and celebration of the Passover, symbolizing the remembrance of Christ’s death, and the Days of Unleavened Bread, symbolizing our commitment to live a sinless life.  

This is our focus and God called us to this understanding and for a purpose.  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Let us continue to be the lights that God expects of us as we shift our attention to what is just ahead of us – the correct observance of His Holy Days. 

Do We Really Need to Know Every Last Detail?

Last Friday evening, March 22, 2024, my wife and I sat down to watch the 6 o’clock BBC News where we were told that there was to be an announcement from the Princess of Wales about her health concerns following mountains of “trolling” in social media.

It was said that she had come to the decision around the time she was facing intense social media speculation after the Photoshop editing of a family photo released on Mother’s Day.  We further learned that she was always intent on waiting until her children’s school broke up for Easter on Friday to go public about her health.  The princess revealed in this video announcement that she was diagnosed with cancer last month, having spent a fortnight in the private London Clinic for abdominal surgery in January.

In an editorial on January 12 this year in our weekly Update #1098, entitled “Never Complain, Never Explain,” mention was made as follows: “Those of us who have been called at this time can learn from biblical examples, and those who set high standards in public life, like the late Queen who, being a God-fearing woman, implemented standards expected of someone in her position.   And the result was, that as the reigning monarch in the UK for over 70 years, no one could ever point an accusing finger in her direction about her life style and behaviour.  She put up and shut up and she never complained and never explained if adverse publicity arose about the Royal Family.”

That approach has stood the Royal Family in good stead.   Because of the unkindness, speculation and outright lies being peddled on social media platforms, the Princess took the unprecedented step to make this public announcement.

The Sun editor Victoria Newton said: ‘It was actually, I understand, that the princess made the decision two weeks ago that she was going to do this public statement.  The key thing for her as a mother, the priority was protecting those three children. She didn’t want them going to school, being asked even more than they already were.  They were already being affected at school, so it was always her plan that she would wait until the last day of term.  Obviously, they’ve endured an incredible amount of social media speculation which has been really hard for them to handle, but the priority for her was always those children.”

When any of us have serious problems, we may not want to let the “world and his wife” [a British expression, meaning, “a great many people”] have all of the intimate details.  Much of this is private and we should give others the time and space to work through any problems they may have with their family and close friends.   The world does not need to know every jot and tittle about every issue.

Social media has brought about an intrusiveness never experienced before.   Facebook seems to be the instigator of the fashion that everyone in our circle needs to know everything that is going on in our lives.   Other platforms have reinforced this narrative and so many just seemed to have accepted this without really thinking it through.   

Let us think about this.   If the Princess of Wales had listed all of the problems she had had, the media would have had a field day and the questions wouldn’t stop there.   There is an insatiable desire in this world of 24-hour rolling news to fill the airwaves with continuous and even more graphic announcements if possible, and it then takes on a life of its own.   For news reporting and social media today, enough is never enough!

The Princess told us as much as we needed to know and asked for privacy as both she and her family work their way through it all.   Maybe all of that evil online trolling can now die down; human nature being what it is, it is highly unlikely that it will all stop.  An expert on cyber extremism said “the inhumanity” of social media led the royal to make her statement.

The London Standard wrote the following: “There we have it: an answer that finally puts an end to the cruel internet frenzy that became known as Katespiracy and a tragic one: Kate, the Princess of Wales has not been abducted by aliens, selected to appear on The Masked Singer [a reality singing competition TV series] or whatever other outlandish, baseless or distasteful rumours various conspiracy theorists wanted us to believe over the two months since her last public appearance. She has cancer. She was diagnosed with it in February after her abdominal surgery, and is currently in the early stages of preventative chemotherapy.”   And truly, we need to know no more than that.

However, there is some good news about this whole episode in that it has been reported that “visits to the NHS website’s cancer page rose by nearly five-fold following the announcement, while Cancer Research UK and Macmillan also reported a surge in clicks.”   

There was much unkindness in so many of the online comments on this issue.   Kindness is something our world is desperate for and is often in short supply.   But after Jesus Christ’s return to this earth, online trolling will not be allowed and, in the meantime, we can practice the instruction of Proverbs 21:21 (even if others don’t) which states “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

Let us follow these simple admonitions for our own benefit and the benefit of others.

Seek First the Kingdom

Christ’s admonition to seek the kingdom of God is found in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

In the dialogue leading up to this verse are a lot of examples as to what people focus their lives on.  In verses 19-32, Christ focuses on the verse which sums it all up, verse 33, as quoted above.

The analysis deals with where your treasure is; not to serve two masters; and not to worry about the physical things of this life, because if you have your priorities straight, God will supply your physical needs.

If we are to seek first the kingdom, we have to have a clear picture in our mind as to what the kingdom of God is. Even though the definition is broad, it can be narrowed down, in part, to the understanding that God is a Family, consisting of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ who work in harmony to achieve what God wants, while Christ is subject to God the Father, the Most High God.

It also includes our potential to become full-fledged sons and daughters of God; and that God will establish the Government of God on this earth at the return of Jesus Christ; and the world structure will eventually be changed by the implementation of the laws of God, summarized by the Ten Commandments which show us that we demonstrate our love for God by keeping the first four commandments and our love for fellow man by keeping the last six commandments.

Then there are many statutes and judgments which explain the Ten Commandments further and show how to apply them specifically. The sooner mankind keeps these eternal laws, the sooner they can reap the benefits and blessings attached to keeping them.

The kingdom of God involves other aspects as well, but for the context of this editorial, it is being narrowed down to a few.

“Seeking” the kingdom involves doing some analysis and getting our priorities straight and not getting sidetracked by the things of this world like food, clothing and physical aspects which God will provide if we stay the course; and if we remain focused on the admonition to seek the kingdom first in our lives, the rest will follow.

The other aspect of this verse is to seek “His righteousness.” Since the Father and Christ—the Kingdom of God—are one in approach and righteousness, we have the example of Christ that we should follow. Christ’s life was pleasing to God since on more than one occasion, it was stated that Christ was the Father’s beloved Son in whom He was well pleased (compare, for example, Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22).

Let us look at the admonition in Proverbs 3:1: “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands.”

So, seeking God’s righteousness involves obeying and keeping His commandments which in this day and age are rejected by man, and yet, they are not that complicated.

The definition of seeking includes, “to attempt to find (something).” For instance, note this example: “They came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds.”

“Seeking” can also mean, “to attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something).” Examples could be: “The new regime sought his extradition,” or, “Her parents had never sought to interfere with her freedom.”

In addition, “seeking” can be defined as “asking for (something) from someone.” Here is one example: “He sought help from the police.”

Finally, “seeking” can be understood as “seeking someone/something out” and “searching for and finding someone or something,” like in this example, “It’s his job to seek out new customers.” 

So, we can see that seeking involves some effort on our part, and we have to be continually seeking the kingdom of God which will be established when Christ returns, and which ultimately is the only hope for mankind, and we need to seek the righteousness of God which involves keeping the commandments. All the other physical things we may wish and desire will be given to us in due time; and at the end, the best gift of all will be eternal life. Let’s never forget the words of Christ in Luke 12:32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Where Is the Positive Story?

Recently, someone suggested that I write about something which is good and positive, as we are experiencing and are confronted with so much which is bad and negative. When I thought about this, I was reminded of a poem by famous German author, writer and poet Erich Kästner (1899-1974). Kästner is well-known as an author of books for children and young adults, but he was also a very deep thinker and “moralist.” The German poem was written in 1930, with the title, “Und wo bleibt das Positive, Herr Kästner?” In English, we might say, “Where is the positive story, Mr. Kästner?”

Especially two stanzas of the poem are quite telling and relate to the subject of this Editorial. I have tried to translate them into English, as close to the literal German as I could, but with special focus on the gist and substance of his message:

“And you keep sending me many letters,

in which you write, underlined in bold:

‘Mr. Kästner, where is the positive story?’

The devil may tell you, it’s hot when it’s cold.

“You want me to put it nicely together,

and think that it will then stick and hold?

I don’t want to cheat. I will not betray you.

The time is black, the truth must be told.”

And so, we must tell the Truth today as well and warn the people what is about to happen (which will be much more horrible than when Kästner wrote his poem in 1930, anticipating the growth of the Nazi Party, the rise of Adolf Hitler and even the outbreak of World War 2). We must never ignore or whitewash the black or dark times in which we live—times which will become much darker. We must never cheat and betray the people by claiming that everything is alright, and that with the right political leadership, things will get much better and America will become great again. But as Kästner wrote books for children and young adults to give them hope and fun and enjoyment and a focus on the “positive” side of life, so must we today… and even more so.

We are to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness. The word gospel means “good news” or “glad tidings.” Certainly, it must include a warning message of things to come, and we must cry aloud like a trumpet (a soft and uncertain sound wakes no one up), but even that message is good and positive, as at least some might listen, consider and repent.  But in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, we announce to this world the best and most positive message there could ever be: The return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s righteous rule here on earth. And it includes the announcement that man can become a member of the Kingdom of God—the Family of God.

In this evil world, filled with suffering and pain, we can have joy—and as parents, we can and should communicate this joy to our children, by how we live, what we say and what we do. We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ who “for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2), endured all adversity, even “the cross,” while despising “the shame.” We should likewise focus on the joy which is set before us—the joy of becoming God beings within a few years from now; the joy of helping to eradicate all evil and to help mankind to live in peace and freedom—and when we do that, we will also be able, with God’s help, to cope with the challenges of life.

In transcending the present and visualizing the future, we embrace hope, trust, confidence and the conviction that within a few short years, we will have reached our incredible human potential and our ultimate destiny—by becoming God, because He IS our destiny! And that is the positive story!

Ultimate Faith

There came a time when Jesus Christ, knowing that He was about to face His greatest challenge, yielded to the Father, saying, “‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done’” (Matthew 26:42).

Jesus was able to look to the incomparable future of the glorious Kingdom of God with ultimate faith, “… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus was sent by the Father to pay the price for our sins, and He died on our behalf (Romans 5:6), so that we could have “‘everlasting life’” (John 3:14-18). Jesus continues to work with us to lead us to salvation. The Apostle Paul writes:

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).

What exactly does that mean? How are we being saved by His life? Jesus, now “‘alive forevermore’” (Revelation 1:18), defends and helps us:

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:33-34).

Jesus Christ is our living High Priest:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

You see, we will all face times of need when we will require great faith, and through God’s Holy Spirit we can find that help. Paul stated:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, King James Version).

We are saved by Christ’s life, because He lives in us through His Holy Spirit, giving us strength, comfort, assurance and conviction that everything will work out for good. Remember, we must have faith to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and we can ask God to increase our faith—as the apostles asked of Christ (Luke 17:5).

Lead the Way

In my work life, I am confronted with quite a lot of statistical information concerning the market that my company serves. I operate a non-profit transit company that provides para transit services along with a host of municipal buses, shuttles, and other specialized transport. This is challenging as inflationary pressures continue to impact all of us. Fuel costs, labor rates, insurance: all these things challenge any company, and the result can be reducing services to live within a budget.

This is just reality. However, here in Colorado, we are facing a unique problem. For the first time in our state’s history, the number of people over 65 years of age far exceeds those under 18. Of course, this sets up significant economic challenges for a growing state. Income tax revenue will decline while demand for elder services is increasing at a dramatic pace. There simply will not be enough money to provide care for our seniors.

In my job, we provide transportation for many seniors in an 8-county region here along the Front Range of Colorado. Trips for seniors include the obvious medical appointments, but also include grocery shopping, trips to senior centers and social events. Unfortunately, government funding for such needs has been declining due to shrinking revenues.

Our state government is focused on building a railroad from Fort Collins to Pueblo along Interstate 25. At the same time, state officials are discussing other very costly capital plans. These are not inherently negative projects to focus on, however, they will come as a tradeoff to needs like the senior services I’ve mentioned.

I write all of this as a prelude to stating that it occurred to me that in my line of work, as a leader in this industry, I need to do more to influence this issue. This means, speaking for those who cannot do so.

Millions of dollars are being programmed on visionary projects but sadly, seniors will be unable to get to dialysis and chemotherapy appointments. When I speak on this matter, I may not make those in power pleased.  However, we who are called by God to follow Him understand that there will be moments when we must calmly and appropriately stand up for that which we know to be right and moral. We must never do so with our own ambition or a self-righteous attitude. When we consider our actions, we should be guided by Scripture. Proverbs 3:5-6, provides excellent guidance: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

This must guide our actions as we interact with the structures of this world. As we know, they are not godly entities, yet they are allowed to exist by God, and we are required by Him to submit to these authorities unless this would compromise our obedience to God.

Our approach must be to focus on prayer and on the problem, and not the people we are interacting with. Titus gives us good guidance in relation to submitting to the ministry of the Church, and the same guidance is beneficial in our dealings at work. Titus 1:7-9 states: “For a bishop (other translations use the word elder or overseer, instead of bishop) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,  but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” This is fundamentally a description of leadership, and if we wish to make progress in our efforts, accepting this advice is paramount.

In the example I began with, I know that the State’s leaders are eagerly working on their priorities. However, I also know that they care about the elders in our state who are in a troubling situation. There simply is not enough money or resources to achieve all the priorities. This is a common dilemma, and for true Christians, we can rely on God to show us the path we must follow to do His will. We see this illustrated in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

In our interactions at work and in our communities, if we live by this direction, we are more likely to influence those around us. Not by self-righteousness, but by living as God intends, having our mind renewed by the commandments, and serving as an example to those we encounter. If helping our elders can be properly elevated by the example of our actions and priorities, we can raise the issue more effectively.

Jesus Christ provided the very best example of how we who are called by God must live. In John 13:12-15, we have the record of Jesus as our servant leader, and we read: “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’”

As humans, we can never match the example that Jesus established for us—however, we can strive for this.

In Galatians 6:9, we see the admonition of continuing to work for good and being the example that God intends: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

I am thinking about the task ahead of me, and I know that if I follow God’s commandments, I will have done my job.

Continued Growth by Application

As we live our lives in this world, we are often bombarded by the realities of life. We read in 2 Peter 2:7-8 that God “…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).” Lot was called righteous, even though some of his deeds were unrighteous. God deemed him worthy to be saved from the destruction of the society in which he lived.

We are finding ourselves living in times similar to that of Lot. So much is going wrong around us. It can be easy to be influenced by the “pleasures” in this world. We have to make sure that our moral compasses are being influenced by God and not being sucked into this world in our thoughts and our ways.

There are so many things that we can pay attention to in this life; but really, it comes down to the question if we will pay the most attention to God’s Words which should guide and direct us. God shows us in the Bible those actions that we are to take in our lives. We need to be asking ourselves if we are learning how to accomplish them by living them.

In Micah 6:8, we are shown a few examples of how we should be operating: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy (or lovingkindness), And to walk humbly with your God.”

We have to learn HOW to accomplish these things. It doesn’t come automatically. It requires us to spend time learning to do and develop them in our lives. We have to be paying attention and figuring out how to make them happen in our dealings. When we learn this, it should produce within us the love (agape) for God’s ways as we see how this helps others and benefits all. We have to understand what each of these words mean in the context of being a Christian.

Acting justly requires us to be impartial and knowledgeable, and to act lawfully and to know how to use righteousness (compare James 2:1-8; Proverbs 11:9; Romans 7:7-12; Isaiah 26:9-10).

To love mercy includes, to love the ability to forgive. God forgives abundantly! We also must learn how to forgive; otherwise, we are in jeopardy of not receiving God’s continued mercy in our lives. Mercy is not always easy to show. But it is required. We have to come to realize that all of us are guilty before God and each other (compare Ephesians 2:4-5; Isaiah 55:7; Lamentations 3:22-23; Luke 6:36; James 2:13; Matthew 5:7).

Finally, to walk humbly with God means, to be seeking Him in everything we do. We are seeking to be in alignment with Him. Our thoughts, our actions, our very being need to be in harmony with Him. This takes an immense amount of humility because it shows God we are willing to lay aside our own ways, our own thoughts, and seek and accept what He will show us (compare Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 28:26; Isaiah 55:8-9; Philippians 2:3).

As with so much of God’s laws, each of these characteristics and actions layer on top of each other. They are all required. This means then that we are to be learning how to develop and use all of them in partnership. If we miss out on growing in any of the areas, the other areas will not work properly. We have to continue to grow in righteousness, mercy and humility so that we can become the type of people that God is looking for. Our journey into the Family of God will require these attributes (and more)—therefore, we cannot neglect them! 

How Can We Tell if We Have Been Deceived?

Every now and then, we come across people whose behavior leaves us speechless. There is so much madness happening all over the world that I sometimes ask myself: “Is this the character of the person or is he completely deceived by Satan?” Many people around the world seem to shut their eyes to the absurdity of what is happening around us and simply accept what is about to happen even if they could change it.

We as Christians know what is coming to the world at large, and to us as well, and that Satan is the deceiver of this world. Revelation 12:9 says: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

We have been teaching time and again that it is very dangerous to become lazy, overconfident, selfish, or even arrogant, and that a person will never find their way out of the mire of self-deception on their own. We also have been explaining repeatedly that a deceived person does not know that he is deceived.

However, we are obligated to make sure that we recognize Satan’s tactics of deception, and we know that we can counter them with the power of God. We must ensure that Satan’s deception does not take hold of our hearts and trick us into believing that the wrong way is righteous and good. 

Solomon warns us firmly against this in Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

So, what would be a good remedy to get to the bottom of Satan’s deception, even if we do not know whether we are deceived?

One of the best remedies is “Humility and the Fear of the LORD.”

In the fifth book of Psalms, we read in chapter 111 and verse 10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Solomon had the same insight in Proverbs 1:7, where he wrote: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”

It is through the power of God, through our humility and through the fear of the LORD that God will help us to obtain the possibility of understanding and open our eyes to whether there is something wrong in our hearts and whether something can or should be improved.

If we neither have nor desire this humility and the fear of the LORD in us, there is a terrible answer: “Because they hated knowledge And did not choose to fear the LORD, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies” (Proverbs 1:29-31).

Another method to recognize possible deception is “Self-Examination.”

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

James also explains to us in James 1:22-25 that we must be on our guard against precisely this kind of self-deception:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

We should always keep in mind that love is the supreme characteristic of God’s perfect law.

It is therefore crucial that we all examine ourselves again and again. Let’s try to have a genuine look in the mirror and take a close look at ourselves and ask ourselves: “Am I pleasing God and Jesus Christ with my lifestyle? Is everything really okay, or am I doing something wrong? Should I change something about myself?”

If we ask God for His help, we might easily come to a new realization. There is always something to do within and about us!

I truly wish all of us the strength and courage to take a good look at our mirror image and gain new insights.

Initial Translation from the German: Daniel Blasinger

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