Feast 2002 in Pendicton

Penticton is a medium size city, by Canadian standards, of less than 30,000 nestled between two mountains and two lakes — Okanagan Lake to the north and Skaha Lake to the south. It is a semi arid fruit-growing region. There are orchards of apples, peaches, pears, apricots, and cherries. Scattered throughout the region within half an hour from town, there are nine wineries, some offering tours. The weather in late September should be in the seventies.

The town has three shopping malls plus the downtown center. There are plenty of good restaurants from fast food to four course meals at a few selective restaurants either in town or within thirty minutes drive. There is an airport at the south end of town for those flying. There are places to walk, bike and drive if one wishes. There are three golf courses within 30 minutes, one right in town. Horseback riding within 30 minutes and an amusement park, I hope, will still be open.

The current exchange rate is 1.56, which means for every $100.00 US you get $156.00 Canadian. You are better off waiting to get here and exchange your money at a local bank. There are several pubs that offer good menus, two bowling alleys and a theatre. God’s people have used Penticton as a Feast site for some 34 years and we are confident you will really enjoy Penticton.

We are planning a bike trip from Summerland to Penticton on the Kettle Valley right of way, coming back along Hwy 97. This should take about two and a half hours. For those not so inclined there is a tour on a steam locomotive in Summerland that should take about two hours. After this, there will be a barbecue and talent night at my house in Summerland. All of these activities will occur on Monday, Sept.23rd. The train ride costs $17.00; bikes can be rented for $20.00.

On Wednesday, Sept 25th, from 4-6 PM, we are planning a dinner boat cruise on Okanagan Lake. Included in the price of $27.00 per person will be a chicken dinner meal with bar service. Since the boat has capacity of only 48, we must operate on a first come first serve basis. Tickets will be sold at the information booth starting on Sunday, Sept. 22nd. On Thursday, Sept. 26th, we will have a dinner dance. Music will be supplied from our personal selection. The meal will be served with a choice of meat (beef) or fish (salmon) with all the trimmings, and will include tea, coffee and desert. Wine is available but is extra. The cost is $22.00, which includes taxes and tip. We will need those attending the dinner dance to sign up on Sunday for this also. Senior luncheon will be on Friday the 27th at 1:30, people, age 60 or over, are free. Those wishing to attend the senior luncheon, who are under the age of 60, are welcome for a price just under $11.00. Please sign up for the senior luncheon on Sunday also, as we need to get the numbers to the caterers for the meal preparation. There will be a farewell luncheon provided at 2:00 PM on the Last Great Day, Sept. 28th. There will be no cost to the brethren for this meal, but we do need to know how many will be attending, so please sign up for this also.

We will have sign up lists at the information booth and tickets available for all activities, beginning September 22nd.

Please plan to attend as many activities as possible, and as fits your budget. We would like to ask you to sign up as early as possible at the information booth for the activities, which you plan to participate in, so we can properly prepare for each activity. Thanks for your co-operation and we are looking forward to seeing you in Penticton.

The Mission of the End-Time Elijah

(Editor’s Note: This editorial is written in response to questions and comments we have received in recent weeks. We feel this information is vital and timely and are providing our answer in this week’s Editorial Section of the Update).

Sometimes, we are asked whether we believe that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was an apostle and the “Elijah to come,” who “restored all things.”

We clearly believe that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. We also believe that Mr. Armstrong was the late leader of the Church of God, to which God gave the commission to fulfill the role of the end-time Elijah. We therefore continue in the preaching and teaching of the doctrines, which we all learned under Mr. Armstrong.

We differ, however, from those who state that nothing can be changed since the death of Mr. Armstrong in 1986, as God revealed all of His knowledge to Mr. Armstrong and the Church at that time, and everything had been restored by the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death.

Our Statement of Beliefs addresses this question in the following way:

“The major doctrines of the Church are those, which were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong, derived from the biblical teachings as followed by God’s faithful servants, and originally established by Jesus Christ through the founding of His Church in the time of His chosen early apostles. Since we are to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are committed to review and alter any of our teachings, if and when proven to be wrong by the Bible.”

Our position is exactly the same, as taught by Mr. Armstrong. He admonished us to follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ. He said time and time again, “Don’t believe me. Believe the Bible.” He also admonished us to change, when proven wrong by the bible.

Please note the following excerpts from a member letter, written by Mr. Armstrong on August 24, 1982 (emphasis in the original and added):

“What about the prophet Elijah? The original Scriptures, prior to Christ’s first coming, close with these words: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come [second coming] and smite the earth with a curse [total destruction]’ (Mal.4:5-6).

“Was John the Baptist the Elijah that was to come? When asked that question he said, ‘No.’ Jesus explained that John had come ‘in the power and spirit of Elijah’ – a different man, but carrying out the mission preparing for Jesus’ first coming…

“Now why, then, was Elijah YET, in the future, to come – just before the ‘day of the Lord?’ Verse 11 [of Matthew 17], Jesus said ‘to restore all things.’ John the Baptist DID NOT do that! Even Jesus did not come the first time to ‘restore all things.’ He came over 1,900 years ago to announce the KINGDOM OF GOD, which will restore all things. He came to set up his CHURCH – but not then to set up the KINGDOM. The Church was merely the embryo that shall BECOME the Kingdom of God WHEN RESURRECTED – when changed to immortal SPIRIT – at Christ’s second coming.

“Now notice where Jesus is NOW! He (God) ‘shall send Jesus Christ…’ back to earth, ‘whom the heaven must receive UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION [RESTORATION] OF ALL THINGS…’ (Acts 3:20-21).

“Jesus shall come, SOON NOW, to RESTORE ALL THINGS. He did NOT restore all things when he first came. John the Baptist did not ‘restore all things.’ But the one who was to ‘restore all things’ just before the ‘day of the Lord’ and preparing the way for Christ’s second coming, was YET to come, in the future, as Jesus said.

“Now what are the ‘all things’ to be RESTORED? ‘Restitution’ means restore to a former state or condition…

“Jesus QUALIFIED to restore God’s government – to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling over the earth, administered by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Jesus’ Gospel Message was the GOOD NEWS that he would (at his second coming) RESTORE the government of God through the KINGDOM OF GOD…

“Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRST! Through us, JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken away the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!

“NONE OTHER has RESTORED the knowledge of the fact GOD’S GOVERNMENT was established on earth, and then DESTROYED and taken away by the Cherub Lucifer (Satan) and his demons….

“[Christ has been] OUR HIGH PRIEST, preparing us to RULE in his KINGDOM when he comes to RESTORE ALL THINGS!

“It is the living JESUS CHRIST who had been ACTUALLY DOING the Work. He has used YOU and me as his INSTRUMENTS!

“Do we realize HOW NEAR we now are to Christ’s coming and the final restoration of all things…?”

Mr. Armstrong emphasized time and time again that Christ gave His Church (of which Mr. Armstrong was the human leader until his death in 1986) the end-time Elijah commission of preparing the world for Christ’s Second Coming, and of turning the heart of the fathers to their children, and vice versa. This commission did not stop when Mr. Armstrong died. It has to continue, and it is the purpose of the Church of the Eternal God to do so.

We read in Isaiah 49:8 that it is Jesus Christ who will restore the earth. But the Church (as the Kingdom of God in embryo) has the commission to prepare for, and announce that restoration, and (as born-again members in the Kingdom or Family of God) to rule and serve with and under Christ to bring about the restoration of all things.

Please note, too, that Jesus said, in Matthew 17:11, that Elijah “is coming.” This correct translation indicates the continuing coming of Elijah – i.e., of the end-time Church, which is in the process of helping to restore all things. Mr. Armstrong certainly BEGAN this process. But, the task of the Church, under Christ, did not stop, when Mr. Armstrong died.

Please consider that even the original Elijah did not personally carry out and finish all of the aspects of the commission given to him by God. He was commissioned to anoint Jehu as king over Israel (1 Kings 19:16), but he did not do that. Rather, Elisha did carry out that aspect of Elijah’s commission, through one of the prophets, after Elijah had been taken away by God (2 Kings 9:1-10). We see, then, the continuing commission of the original Elijah, which did not stop, when God took him away. The same is true today.

"Endure To The End"

This week we all had something to be thankful for. A seemingly hopeless mining disaster in the State of Pennsylvania turned out really well — first for the nine miners, their families and friends; and then for the rescuers and those of us who watched this heroic rescue.

The nine men trapped in darkness some 240 feet underground prepared themselves to die. Yet, they, too, (as did all of us) hoped for the best — even with the looming reality of the possibility that this could be the end of their lives.

Notable examples in the Bible relate similar stories: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego along with Daniel faced the end of their lives. The reason they did is because they obeyed God. Against all odds and even human ability, they were delivered alive. Important to note in their experiences is the fact that they were reconciled to undergo this fate regardless of whether they were delivered at that time.

Peter, Paul and many of the original Apostles ultimately came to the end of their lives because of their obedience to God — they died at the hands of those who despised and hated the truth they proclaimed. Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins, declares that at the end of this age, Christians will be killed for their belief in and obedience to God.

Undoubtedly, there will be miraculous deliverance for some — just as those remarkable nine miners experienced. Yet, Matthew 24:9 plainly reveals that some will be tortured and killed. As we consider the truth of this warning, let us also remember that our deliverance is also certain.

Matthew 24:13 explains what we must do in order to be saved — whether we live or whether we die! Regardless of what we ultimately face, we are told that we must endure. Exactly how long we endure until our rescue occurs is much like that of the miners. We won’t know exactly, but this we do know — we must be prepared to endure just as Jesus Christ admonished us — to the end!

Does God Require Tithes and Offerings, Today?

(Editors Note – This editorial is written in response to questions and comments we have received in recent weeks. We feel this information is vital and timely and are providing a summary of our answers in this week’s Editorial Section of the Update).

With the apostasy which has come upon the Church, many of God’s People have turned to false teachings, as Paul clearly stated would happen in 2 Tim. 4:3-4. Many have changed their whole approach in dealing with God’s Truths, which they had learned, including those relative to their own financial obligations to God and His Church. They have become “very sensitive” when it comes to the subject of “giving” to God’s Church.

Yet, there are numerous examples in scripture where God shows He requires tithes and offerings from His People. We see such an example in Exodus 25, where God required offerings from the children of Israel for the building of the Tabernacle of God. Note God’s instructions to Moses, as he was the one responsible to convey to God’s People what God required relative to this offering.

God’s requirement was “… that they bring an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering” (Exodus 25:2). Two things should be noted here:

First – the offering does not belong to the person contributing the offering. It is not his! The offering belongs to God! That is true, even before the offering is given.

Second – God accepts the offering under a specific condition. That is, it is only an acceptable offering to God if it is from one who gives it willingly, as the scripture points out – “From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” The Apostle Paul also boldly proclaims this same principle in 2 Corinthians 9:7, where he states, “…for God loves a cheerful giver.”

There is concern that this may be one area where many in the Church of God, today, have let down in their relationship with God. It is true, that God owns all wealth. He can see that the finances needed by the Church are provided, whatever the need may be. However, the method of financing His end-time Work – God has chosen. It is, for each of us, our responsibility – individually and collectively – to be faithful in our financial obligations – so that the commission of preaching and publishing the gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom to the world as a witness, and the feeding of God’s sheep will be accomplished.

This requirement of God is a “test” command for all of God’s People, including those in positions of leadership – the ministry of God. Notice this clear admonition found in Malachi, chapter 3. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And prove me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

Moses, by the way, did not hesitate to institute the exhortation of God, which He asked of the people, as you can read in Exodus 35:5, 29.

There are a number of such financial requirements, which God placed on His People and administered through those He had put in positions of service to those whom He is calling. The tithe, however, has always belonged to Him (Leviticus 27:30). It is Holy to Him! He did give the tithe, for a period of time, to the sons of Levi “…as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform(ed), the work of the tabernacle of meeting” (Numbers 18:21).

Yet we see in Hebrews 7:9, that the law of tithing existed long before God made an agreement with the sons of Levi, which agreement gave them the right to collect tithes for a certain time. As we read verses 15-28 of Hebrews 7, we see that this right to receive tithes later reverted back to Jesus Christ, whose right it was from the beginning. Today, Christ collects tithes through His Body, the Church, to be used to carry out the end-time Work of God.

Christ showed that this system of financing the Work of God is definitely applicable, today (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42, Luke 18:12). And of course, God shows in Malachi 3:8-9 that one thing He is angry about at the time of the end is that His People are failing Him in this requirement!

So much confusion exists today, especially since the apostasy has set in, indicating that many of God’s People do not know what to do. There must be a clear voice that is showing that correct way, else we will all be held accountable for the error that exists in the Church now, and that will exist at the time of Christ’s return.

We are told in Isaiah 58:1 to… “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.” We must not be fearful in doing this! We point out these truths as a reminder to those God has called and given understanding, and yet now appear to be holding back because they are uncertain where God’s Work is being done. They must not continue to hold back, but must come to the realization that they have an obligation to determine where that Work is being done, based upon the clear evidence they see and the clear word they hear. Once having proven this, they have a responsibility to carry out God’s command and to support His Work where they see it being faithfully carried out – just as the people of Israel willingly and with a joyful heart contributed to the construction of the Tabernacle.

Remember, the tithe belongs to God! It is His! To hold on to His tithe, God says, is stealing from Him! God requires that His tithe be paid, so that His Work will be done (Mal 3:10).

We would add, here, that we in CEG stand ready to engage and answer questions concerning the Work of God. It is our full intention to back up all our actions with biblical evidence and proofs! As Mr. Armstrong correctly stated so many times, it is our purpose to follow what is written in the Holy Scriptures. When we are wrong we will willingly change, but we will absolutely present the Truth of God to the best of our abilities, based upon the knowledge and understanding granted to us by the Eternal God through His Holy Spirit, regardless of any criticism or sensitivities people may have toward the issues presented.

"Watching The News–Why?"

For many years, the Church has admonished our members to watch the news. One reason for doing so is obvious – so that we are not caught unawares when Christ’s return is near. When He was here on earth, Jesus proclaimed in advance the good news of the coming kingdom of God. Before God’s kingdom can be established on this earth, certain prophetic events will have to occur first.

Jesus told His disciples, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors.” (Matthew 24:32-33). Although we don’t know the exact day or the hour of Christ’s return and of the establishment of His kingdom (Matthew 25:13), we are supposed to know the approximate time – by discerning the times and seasons (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

But, as we have pointed out so many times, God gives us special understanding and knowledge for a reason. We are not to hide what we have been given, but we are to share it with others.

God wants the truth of the coming establishment of His kingdom – as well as the events leading up to that establishment — proclaimed in all of the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14). And many scriptures show that this proclamation is to be done through His end-time Church, which is called “a watchman.” Notice these biblical examples:

“So you, son of man [ancient Ezekiel, but this is a prophecy for our day and age]: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.” (Ezekiel 33:7).

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent.” (Isaiah 62:6).

“Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, That watchers come from a far country And raise their voice against the cities of Judah.” (Jeremiah 4:16).

We ourselves are to watch the events around us (Matthew 24:42), discerning the times, so that we can be effective watchmen in God’s service, warning others of what will surely come to pass. Notice Hosea 5:9: “Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.” Notice, too, Hosea 7:12, “I will chastise them [Ephraim] According to what their congregation has heard.”

And WHY are we to proclaim God’s warning to His peoples and around the world? The answer is given in Ezekiel 33:2-6:

“When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet…[and] takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hands.”

God wants His Church to preach the establishment of God’s kingdom here on earth. This includes, blowing the trumpet and warning of impending disaster. Some will listen and change their ways so that they, too, may enter the Kingdom. Many others, though, might not heed the message. Still, if we shrink back from our God-given responsibility, He will have no pleasure in us (Hebrews 10:37-39).

The Church of the Eternal God is publishing in these updates many important aspects of world news, which should help us to discern the times better, in light of biblical prophecy, so that all of us can become more effective watchmen. God will continue to give to His faithful servants great understanding of the future (Amos 3:7). It is our responsibility to use this understanding granted to us from God for the benefit of a world held captive by Satan – and in so doing, we shall fulfill the work of watchmen proclaiming the good news of the approaching kingdom of God.

"Be Comforted"

When you go through a trial, test or a death of a friend or a family member like we just have, people send you cards of condolences and sympathy. Others phone to express their condolences and you take comfort and strength knowing that your friends and family care about the trial, test or loss of a family member that you are going through. We in the Church must never forget that God has also provided for us a Comforter and that is the Holy Spirit, which comes from God. In John 14: 26, Christ states that the Comforter will teach us all things and help us to remember the things, which were taught to us by Christ.

God’s Spirit in us not only comforts us but gives us hope by giving us an understanding that the world does not have — especially as it relates to the loss of a loved one. We know that there is a better world coming, one of peace and harmony. Rev. 21:3-4 tells us that God will dwell with us, that He will wipe away ALL tears, and that the former things will pass away. What former things? Death, suffering, funerals, famine, pestilence and every evil brought upon man by rebellion against God — all that will be vanished. The only tears will be tears of joy. We can take comfort in knowing that Christ, as our High Priest and Elder Brother, learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb.5: 8). No matter what the trial or suffering we go through, we can rest assured that we have the love and empathy from our Savior Jesus Christ. Having lived in the flesh, He understands our infirmities and weaknesses. He is an advocate for us before God the Father.

Understanding this helps us to better understand why James says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2). Let us not be discouraged by trials, test or loss of a loved one, but let us take comfort in the fact that Christ, through the Spirit, is there to comfort us, and that God will NEVER leave or forsake us. This is especially true when we face trials — with this knowledge, we can BE COMFORTED.

"Ever Learning"

Do YOU really know the truth?

The Apostle Paul in powerful and ominous warnings spoke of those who would be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

In 2 Timothy, chapter 4, Paul charges Timothy to “…Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (verse 2). Why? Paul continues, in verses 3 and 4, with this further warning: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned to fables.”

In these days-which Paul calls the “latter times”-a frightening warning is emblazoned that “…some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). He goes on to differentiate between those who enter into apostasy and “…those who BELIEVE and KNOW the truth” (Verse 3).

Earlier in his ministry, Paul had confronted the philosophers of Athens. Note carefully the underlying issue he faced in presenting the truth of God: “For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” (Acts 17:21).

Yet, in Ephesians 4: 11-16, Paul reveals that the whole purpose for Christ establishing a ministry was to edify the body of Christ, bringing it into unity, such that “…we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” (Verse 14)

Have we mistakenly fallen into this mindset-we who have been called to understand and live in the truth of God? Do we read every new slant and accept any opposing argument, or do we really KNOW and BELIEVE the truth? Are we anchored with the sure foundation of truth, and are we unshakable and un- compromising in our adherence to what God has revealed to us?

Jesus Christ succinctly outlines the unyielding definition for those who walk as He walked and call themselves Christians: ” ‘If you ABIDE in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.’ ” (John 8:31-32).

Do you really KNOW the truth?

"Your Covenant With God"

One of the most important doctrines of the Church of God is one, which has to do with the covenants God has made with His people down through the ages. God has made covenants (agreements) with different people at different times as He chose to deal with them.

He made a covenant with Adam, which covenant Adam failed to keep. (While the Bible does not specifically refer to God’s Words in Gen. 2:16-17 as a covenant, God did make a binding commitment, here, with Adam, that if the man failed in this requirement God placed upon him, the penalty for disobedience was death.) Adam, rather, chose to walk in Satan’s ways instead of God’s righteous Way and, thus, all of mankind has been made subject to death.

God made a covenant with Noah, and the sign of that covenant is still with us, today, available for all to see, as a witness of the agreement God made with Noah and of Noah’s obedience to God. (Gen. 8:16, 9:8-17)

We are all cognizant of the covenants God made with Abraham and his seed and of Abraham’s obedience and the fact that the world today is still being blessed because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were faithful to God in the keeping of these covenants. Of course, there is the special Sabbath covenant which we find in Exodus 31:12-18, and the covenant God made with His servant, David. (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

Abraham’s descendants, the Children of Israel, entered into numerous covenants with God, but like Adam, they failed to keep their part in these agreements. In these covenants, Israel agreed to be obedient to God’s Sabbath, to His Laws, and to His Way of life. God, in turn, promised to Israel, material and national blessings and a superior position in the earth, if they would be faithful to these agreements. (The gift of God’s Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life were not made a part of these agreements with Israel.) Israel failed in keeping their part in these agreements.

Jesus Christ came to this earth to establish a special covenant between God and those He would call during this lifetime. God would give them His Spirit as a help, for them to be able to fulfill their part of the agreement, which He would be making with them. Additionally, He would allow Jesus Christ to offer Himself as a living sacrifice such that a means for forgiveness of sin was available for them, upon repentance, when they failed in their part of the agreement.

The question for God’s chosen people, today, is … how are we doing in our resolve to keep the covenant we made with Him at the time of our baptism?

We saw how God blessed His Church during that period of Church history we have all come to know as the Philadelphia era of God’s Church (Revelation 3:7-13). But, now, we have seen the end of that era and the onset of a new era … Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). We have seen the beginning of the apostasy, as it has encompassed God’s people. And we have seen the scattering of the sheep and the offense that has been caused by this momentous event.

Today, the Church is much smaller than during the latter years of the Philadelphia era! How should God’s people be relating, today, in light of all the events, which have taken place?

Our admonition is, first, to hold fast to those things, which we first learned. (2 Timothy 1:13-14; Revelation 3:11). We must persevere. If this requires further separation, God will see that it happens. Second, our admonition is to watch, always, and to pray that we be accounted worthy, when Christ comes to establish His Father’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:42-47). Third, our admonition is to endure. (Matthew 24:13). We must not waver, brethren, in our dealings with the Almighty. (James 1:6-8).

God, the Father has allowed the Church to be scattered at this time (Daniel 12:7), yet, it is He Who will gather them at the appropriate time. (John 11:51-52).

But we, brethren, must remain faithful to God’s Truth, never wavering, never losing faith that our elder brother will keep His promise as quoted by Paul in Hebrews 13:5, where He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If we remain faithful to Jesus Christ and to the Father, they will certainly remain faithful to us.

In Malachi 3:16, we read that “…those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, (if we fear Him, we will obey Him), And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.”

Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong admonished us to “prove all things.” He taught us to believe him only if what he taught was provable by scripture. We must not change from that approach. We must not follow any man, except as he follows Christ. Only then can we demonstrate true loyalty to the Almighty. He tells us in His Word, “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6 – KJV).

"How Convicted Are We?"

We are living in perilous times. We hear of suicide bombings in Israel on a weekly basis. We hear of wars and rumors of wars at the India-Pakistani border. In following the news carefully, we realize that the relationship between the United States and Europe is steadily deteriorating. We recognize the grim reality — for example, that large arsenals of nuclear weapons are stored, many of them undetected, around the world. We hear of increasing earthquakes, wild fires, hurricanes and tornados. Understanding prophecy, we know that all of these, however, are just the beginning of sorrows.

What is our responsibility in the face of coming disaster? Since God showed us what is to come, He wants us to respond! We are to warn our fellow man of the evil times ahead of us. But, in order to do so effectively, we ourselves must be convinced and convicted that God does in fact mean what He says.

Notice Abraham’s conviction! He is the father of the faithful — one whose faith we are to imitate. We read in Romans 4:21 that Abraham was “fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

Sometimes, we may want to give up. We may think that we have done all that we can do, and that it does not really make a difference. But it does. God would not give us a job to do, if it were hopeless. At least at one time in his life, Paul was ready to die. But, he realized that it was needful for the brethren that he stay alive and continue to do his job. He explains in Philippians 1:21-25 (NIV):

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith…”

And so, we, too, must be “fully convinced” in our own minds (Romans 14:5) that God still wants us to preach the gospel and to feed the flock, and that we have a part in this commission. And while doing God’s will, let us, too, be convinced that our labor is not in vain and that we, with God’s help, will succeed. Notice these encouraging words of Paul, a deeply convicted apostle:

— “For this reason I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Paul knew that he would succeed — because he knew something about God, which kept him going. Paul wants all of us to come to that same conviction and persuasion:

— “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28, 38-39)

The righteous men and women of old had strong convictions. These convictions motivated and inspired them to accomplish mighty deeds. They knew that God’s word was true. They had no doubt about that:

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…” (Hebrews 11:13).

God gave all of us very powerful and encouraging promises. They should motivate us to actively respond to God’s love. But they only will, if we are convicted that those promises are for real.

"Measuring UP"

The department of the company I work for is called “Measurement Technologies.” Part of what we do is involved in the measurement aspect of both electrical and natural gas usage. Thus, being involved relative to measurement in the electrical and gas business in Canada, we must follow specific standards, which are laid down by Measurement Canada, a department of the Federal Government. Measurement Canada also checks scales in stores and pumps at gas stations, all to ensure that the customers are getting what they pay for. The test results are compared to the standards set by the government.

Our God has established standards, which His people must be measured against. In Rev. 11:1, John is told not only to measure the temple, but also those who worship there. Since we have been called of God to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23), that measurement is on us, today. We need to ask ourselves, how are we measuring up?

In Eph. 4: 11-13, we find the reasons why God gave different offices or positions in the Church. Notice the reasons in verse 13, “…till we come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the MEASURE of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

What we are to measure up to is Christ. He is the standard against which we are measured. Now it’s obvious that without God’s help and power through the Holy Spirit we would fail in this endeavor, but we have Christ in our corner to help us achieve that goal. God also gave us His laws as a guide or rulebook to follow in our task of measuring up to the stature of Christ.

We can be grateful to God for not only setting the goal for us, but also for giving us the tools to achieve that goal.

Let’s ensure we stay close to God and keep our eyes on the goal. If we do so, we shall succeed. The promise in Heb. 13:5 is that we will not be left or forsaken, so let us in all things pertaining to our Christian lives make sure that we are “Measuring Up.”

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