Small Things

When God intervenes in our lives, it is not always the opening of the Red Sea before us but mostly in small areas and at times totally unaware by us, at least at first.

I was in Penticton for a lung function test at the hospital and afterwards, I went to Walmart to pick up a few things.  As I entered the store, I thought, “I don’t need a basket with the wheels on them since I will only have a few items which I can carry in my arms,” thinking that the coffee I was intending to buy would not be on sale and I would just get a couple of jars, which would be easy to carry with the other few small items I needed. To my complete surprise the coffee was on sale—a savings of over two dollars a jar, so I quickly went and got a rolling basket and put quite a few jars of regular and also decaf coffee in the basket. I also picked up four other items, and as I was walking down the aisle, I thought, “I will not l be able to carry all this so I will have to purchase a bag with handles which are around two dollars to carry the goods to the van.”

As I turned on the passage way to the checkout, there was an employee with a shopping cart full of small boxes. I immediately asked if I could have one to carry my goods in, which she allowed.  At the self-checkout I was surprised that the width of the box was a perfect fit for six jars of coffee, and it was about 4 inches high and everything fit inside and it was easy to carry. When I got to the van, I thanked God for assisting me in getting a box for the goods and how perfectly the jars of coffee fit and even though I had not asked for His help, He provided for my needs and saved me two dollars. 

God knows our every need and is aware of our thoughts and nothing is hidden from Him. If He numbers the hairs of our heads, as Matthew 10:30 says, then He is aware of us in an intimate way, and I thanked Him for that.

Zechariah 4:10 tells us not to despise small things. The indication is to rejoice in them; especially, when He is intervening in those small areas of our lives.

I told the following story before, but it is worth repeating because of the lessons learned from God intervening for us in small areas. 

My son-in-law had been looking at houses in the area in the summer, and I wanted to look at a house myself, so I got on my scooter and went searching. I knew the general area but could not find the house. I thought to myself, “I need a map of Summerland.” Needing to go to the bank, I headed for town. The bank is at the corner of two streets so it offers six or more options as to where to park. As I approached it, I saw a spot alongside the bank, close to the front door. I pulled into the spot, pulled the scooter onto the kickstand and looked down to the ground. To my complete surprise, there was a map of Summerland, undamaged and in good shape. My immediate thought was, “Nice touch, Father.”

God supplied my needs without me asking.

The lesson in all this is that we are going into another calendar year very shortly.  We will face various trials and tests and there will be times when we need intervention. It’s really comforting to know that as God’s children, He cares for us, watches over us and at times fulfills our needs before we even ask.

Matthew 6:8 tells us:  “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”

We must never lose sight of this important fact because as a loving Father, He is looking after us, and also our needs, and even more. It says in Luke 12:32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

What more could we ask for?

“My People”

The Book of Revelation is written specifically to the Church of God (Revelation 1:1). Jesus Christ addresses the Church with messages that apply to seven distinct eras of the Church (Revelation 2 & 3). While much is historical, there are also key warnings for the Church of God during the time of the end of this age—both contemporary and prophetic.

The Book of Revelation also describes cataclysmic world events leading to God’s intervention and the return of Jesus Christ. Very few people truly understand the meaning of today’s news in the light of biblical prophecy. It seems that fewer yet are preparing for what is coming.

The Apostle Paul wrote to remind the Church of the example of those whom Moses led, but who refused to obey God and were destroyed:

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

Paul wrote this to the Church of God some two-thousand years ago. Was he wrong to warn Christians about events which still lay far into the future? Quite the contrary, for each one whom God has called must be found worthy to enter the Kingdom of God—regardless of when they live!

Paul writes about the role of love—putting it in the context of how to prepare for and be ready for the return of Jesus:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).

We need to understand who we are from God’s viewpoint:

“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; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Do we really believe that this is who we are? Do we really believe that we are living in the time of the end of the age? 

If we do, then let’s pay close attention to what God tells us about the time and the society in which we are living and what we should be doing:

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues’” (Revelation 18:4).

Pinecones and Faith

During the fall months of the year, my wife Shelly and I are tasked with collecting pinecones from the lawn. The cones can make mowing up the leaves more difficult, and so we get to work. The pinecone is a seed-bearing organ that is woody and has signature scales. These scales are arranged as a protective umbrella that close, when necessary, to protect the tender seeds, and open when the time comes for the seeds to take to the breeze to find hospitable soil. As children, my friends and I would pretend that the cones were mini-American-style footballs and play epic games.

Pinecones are yet another example of God’s perfect design. They have a purpose and are a beautiful reminder of the growth that occurs for all of God’s creations. God created trees of all kinds for their beauty, shade, and the wood as a resource for construction and for heating, and more. My point is that the pinecone nurtures the seeds, and, over time, enables them to mature.

When we moved to our town years ago, Shelly and I wanted to contribute to the community. We did not have a lot of money to donate, but we met with a colleague of mine who ran a community foundation. She described a fund that we could contribute to—we would give a specific amount each year for ten years and could then help guide the uses of the fund that grew with our contributions and the interest from investment earnings. The foundation referred to these as Pinecone Funds because they are protected and grow over time.

We appreciated the idea that something modest could be nurtured and become significant. Turning to Scripture for a powerful analogy, Philippians 1:9 reads: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Paul wrote this to the Church at Philippi, a former gold-mining area, to counter what he saw as a growing problem of disunity among Church members. He wanted the Church to continue to grow and the members to focus on the mind of Christ. Paul believed that this was the only way to address the divisive nature of humans and have the Church thrive. 

We know that Jesus Christ was and is not limited in any way. In Matthew 17, we read the account of Jesus, Peter, James, and John encountering a crowd. A man came to Jesus and fell to His knees and begged Him to heal his son and drive out the demon that possessed him. The three apostles were troubled that they had previously been unable to drive out the demon. They asked Jesus about this, and we see His response in Matthew 17:20: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Faith as small as a seed, and yet with the power to move a mountain. Imagine then what we can do when we focus on the mind of Christ and increasingly discern His power and majesty. As carnal beings, we cannot compel ourselves to follow God—we must first be drawn by Him and, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we, as true Christians, can begin to grow if we obey and follow His commandments.

The key therefore to growing in faith is to obey God and study the Bible to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God and His Son through the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11:1, we read: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Let’s continue reading in verses 2 and 3: “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

Let’s reinforce this and consider the following biblical examples of the power of faith as the enduring foundation of our lives. In Hebrews 11:7-12, we read:

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

Much like the pinecone releasing its charge to the soil, as true Christians, we must nurture our faith through our obedience to God and His Son, sincere prayer, and our study of the Scriptures.

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ who perfectly captured the importance of our working to perfect our faith. Let’s read John 20:29: “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” This is a glimpse into the mind of Jesus and the importance He places on faith.

To Have Fervent Love

In the New Testament, two of the Church leaders, Peter and Paul, spoke about the same attribute that Christians need in their lives. They encouraged everyone to have love for each other.  It is easy to say, “yes, I have love,” but do we really show love in our actions?

The first Scripture that I want to use is found in 1 Peter 4:7-9: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.“

Peter’s encouragement for us is to be aware that, as we draw closer to the end of this age, there are going to be more opportunities for each of us to show love for one another. But not just love, but fervent love! The word “fervent” can mean, “having or displaying a passionate intensity”—like a fire: hot and burning. Being on fire for showing love is a proper way to think about it. In the letter to Titus, Paul iterates it in a different way but with the same meaning, saying in Titus 2:14 about Christ “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

Our use of love in a Godly sense means that we need to be going above and beyond in our love for each other—in prayer, in deeds, in actions, and in our thoughts. We need to be thinking about HOW we can show love more fully. Christ’s warning in the book of Matthew comes to mind where we are warned that as this world grows darker, there is a real danger that the love of true Christians will grow cold; that it will no longer be fervent and zealous (Matthew 24:12).

In what ways can we allow this fervent love for each other to become manifest? We bring this love to fruition by looking for opportunities and then taking action. This is going to be different for each person—but make no mistake: when we take the opportunity to show this love, the immediate impact may be unknown; and yet, it will have lingering effects. In every relationship that we have in this life, the most powerful thing is love. With Godly agape love, we are fulfilling God’s law.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul writes under inspiration about how this love of God should be manifesting itself. This love is not for us—it is for the people around us. When I review these words from Paul, it becomes apparent how I fail in regard to having these actions show up in every situation. And yet, the opportunities to show and prove this Godly love are there, but we have to take advantage of these opportunities.

These actions of love encourage and help people to deal with life. The life that we each live now is not an easy life, and it will get harder. The challenge for each of us is to grasp that each person, Christian or not, is dealing with the effects of sin. This whole world is under the subjection of Satan and his demons.

We are truly living in the most challenging of times.

This is why I find the following Scriptures encouraging.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says in the New International Version: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

From our children to our elders, we are to be encouraging—and building one another up. It is so much more powerful to show encouragement and solidarity in love than it is in finding fault and tearing each other down. It is so easy to find fault and to tear into people for their wrong doings or failures—but in the long run, we ourselves have just as much failure. There is a common idiom: Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. This means, before judging someone, we must understand their experiences, challenges, thought processes, etc. It is no easy thing to do. Another idiom is: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

As we spend time and meditate on our opportunities for love, we should realize that God the Father and Jesus Christ show us the ultimate love. We are so blessed to have their example.

1 Peter 2:4-5 tells us: “Coming to Christ as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

This Scripture, paired with 1 Thessalonians 5:11, is very powerful: We are precious in God’s sight. We are worthy of love because He deems it so. And it is because of this knowledge that we can grow in our love for each other and for the God Family.

You Must Stay Strong…

These words, “You have to stay strong”, can easily be uttered by outsiders, when the affected person is clearly suffering under certain circumstances.

One might try to strengthen the other person with these words, but whether that alone will help is debatable. And sometimes, I come across people who simply ask, “How are you?” as they walk by, and without paying any attention to my response, they either do not reply at all or just say, “…then take care”.

The world has become very short-lived in its actions, and nobody seems to have any honest care for their neighbor. Society in my neighborhood has changed a lot for the worse, and I would even say that this applies to the whole world.

Not only have people become very superficial and almost everyone thinks only of themselves, but also antisemitism has returned in the most brutal way all over the world. I would argue that antisemitism never went away, it just, for a brief period, didn’t manifest itself to the outside world, and sadly, this condition only lasted for a generation. The words, “We must never forget,” are of no special value.

For true Christians, it is not difficult to recognize that this world is ruled by none other than Satan, who is also called the Devil, the dragon, and the old serpent.

Personally, I have never heard so many war reports in my entire life as these days, and I have to admit that it makes me, as well as certainly others, sad, angry and worried, when I think about it or see or hear about it in the media – but then again, I am also at the same time hopeful in anticipation of the coming of Christ, that it will happen soon after all. It’s all like a merry-go-round of emotions.

And then I ask myself: “Am I even ready for the coming of Christ? And how will I then stand before Him? Will I even be worthy before Him? Will I fail miserably by then or will I remain strong in this last dramatic time?”

We could very well face terrible wars, persecution, betrayal of our own brothers and sisters, and even persecution from our own family. And we must constantly remind ourselves that Jesus Christ pointed out the following to us in the Bible:

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).

These are precisely the times we are currently experiencing; nevertheless, it is not yet the end, but the beginning of sorrows. And then, Christ said:

“‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).

This message from Christ does not seem to point to a rosy future. One factor or another can cause somebody to lose their balance completely, so they may run out of inner strength and fail miserably. Many will have to go through a terrible and merciless tribulation after falling away from the Truth. Some will be able to come out of this tribulation, as Christ tells us; but others may indeed fail and even end up fighting a hateful and murderous battle against God until their ultimate bitter destruction.

We read in Revelation 7:4-9 that of all the tribes of Israel, 144,000 will come out of this tribulation and will be sealed, as well as a great multitude which no one could number. But then we also read in Revelation 16:9-11 about people filled with hate who blaspheme God despite great plagues and pain.

It must be absolutely clear to us: “But he who endures [and stays strong] to the end shall be saved.”

But we cannot do this by our own strength, as we have already learned from the Word of God. We need God’s power, His help and strength. This can only be achieved through prayer, Bible study and thinking about what we have read, occasional fasting and strong faith without any doubts. And we must be there with and for each other, for we all have one faith, one hope, one confidence, one love, one Lord, one God and one Spirit of power in us.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote the following words, which also have great significance for us today:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 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. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit [which] dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:7-14).

All in all, this means for each and every one of us: “You must stay strong!”

Initial translation: Daniel Blasinger

Arbitrary Ethics

I took an introductory course in Philosophy when I was in my first semester of college. While I don’t remember a lot of what I learned at that time, I do recall our discussions about various theories of morality. Utilitarianism is one such theory that measures whether an action is right or wrong on a continuum of how much happiness it would produce. According to this theory, the most virtuous actions are the ones that produce the most happiness and least unhappiness. In a purely carnal sense, it sounds appealing. But it is troublesome to consider that there is no standard by which an action could be viewed as being right in an absolute sense. Morality is judged purely based on the arbitrary whim of humanly defined happiness produced in the individuals affected. This bothered me then, and it bothers me now. I never cared to take any additional courses in the field of ethics because to me it seemed that it was all baseless rhetoric.

Today we see the dominant ethics in our society disturbingly driven by what man judges is right, without any regard to an authoritative standard. Modern society wants to do what it wants, and condemns anyone who says that an action is wrong. As such, abortion, stealing, lying, and perversions of all sorts are confoundingly celebrated by so many. The ethics of mankind today seem to be based only upon hedonistic, self-serving desire. I find this quite disturbing.

We know from the pages of the Bible that behaving without the guidance of God’s immutable standard of law will lead to a disastrous outcome. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). A sinful practice of life is one that ignores God’s commandments, choosing instead to be directed by personal desire. By way of contrast, living a righteous Way of Life requires learning and practicing obedience to God’s laws. But the carnal nature of people fights against this standard. Carnal desire is at enmity with God (compare Romans 8:7). Therefore, without God to set the standard of ethics, people are doomed to perish!

It’s unfortunate that such a simple Truth is so undesirable to man. Ironically, rates of depression and suicide are so high, yet people don’t consider whether their code of ethics based on maximizing carnal pleasure might be the root cause. The answer for how to make a correction is simple. God makes the path to joy, prosperity and success very clear: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Not only does obedience to God’s law lead to righteousness, it also leads to a truly happy life. Many of us who have decided to try this out have proven it to ourselves. God’s Way works.

We are privileged to know that God establishes the true standard by which we can discern between actions that are right and wrong. We don’t have to worry about figuring it out for ourselves or debating with our peers. We can be satisfied in knowing that the Truth was established long ago, and that it works then, now, and forever. “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth” (Psalm 119:142). The world around us might be lost, but we have a perfect standard to live by.

What Happened to Truth

This is an interesting question that has been answered in Isaiah 59:14-15. “…For truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” From this it seems that truth can be difficult to find.

We note that at this current time, three words that were used very rarely or even unknown previously have come into prominence. They are all concerned in some way with truth or lies, more often with lies and deception.

These words are “misinformation, disinformation and malinformation.” Misinformation has the meaning of false information, but the person using it believes it is true. In this case there is not necessarily any malice. Disinformation has the meaning of false information that the person using it knows it to be false. It is a deliberate lie, usually with malice. The third word, malinformation, is based on truth but can be used to inflict harm on a person, organisation or country. Malinformation can also apply to a truth that an organization or government does not want revealed.

Of these three words, the one that was used in the past was disinformation, especially in the Soviet Union, in order to discredit political opponents with the intended result of their ineffectiveness or destruction.

Of these three words, none are directly used in the Bible, but the actions they engender are used. The most prominent one being disinformation. We first encounter this when Satan deceived Eve by telling her that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would not surely die (Refer to Genesis 3:4). As we read about Satan in John 8:44, last part, “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God gives us warnings of false prophets. In the Old Testament, God’s warnings were so strong that a false prophet who turns people away from God was to be put to death. (Refer Deuteronomy to 13:5). In the New Testament, Christ warns us against false prophets in Matthew 7:15. These false prophets were and are using disinformation as an attempt to deceive God’s people. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 informs us that Satan’s ministers were and are transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness, and that they would receive the appropriate outcome. Their intention again was and is to deceive.

A very pertinent example of disinformation was when a lying spirit was put in the mouths of all of Ahab’s prophets, who encouraged him to go to battle so as to obtain victory. This lie resulted in the death of Ahab, the king of Israel. Refer to 2 Chronicles 18:19-34.

An example of malinformation happened when Satan tempted Christ. In Luke 4:9-11 we read, “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You,” and, ‘In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash your foot against a stone.”’” While the quote was accurate, its purpose was to cause Christ to sin. Hence it was malinformation.

As for misinformation, there are examples of probable misinformation in the epistles. In 1 Corinthians 15:12 we read, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?” This example shows that some members in the Church at Corinth were teaching that there was no resurrection. If they believed that then they were teaching misinformation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, we are warned, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” This would appear to be misinformation. However, if members were claiming that this information was from the true ministers of God, then this would be deliberate disinformation.

So, we have many warnings in the Bible about being deceived, either mistakenly or deliberately. We are also aware that Satan deceives the whole world (Refer to Revelation 12:9). So, we must be well aware of the contents, examples and warnings in the Bible and trust those who have proven to have been faithful in transmitting God’s truth to us over the years. In this way, we will not be deceived by misinformation, disinformation or malinformation. We will understand what truth is, and for us, it will be a part of our lives, remembering that Christ said, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

So, while truth has fallen in the street for the vast majority of people, it will not be so for us. We will know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32).

The Christian Attitude

Some people have the right attitude. These individuals are convinced that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

What kind of attitude do we bring to the table?

Paul wrote about attitude in his letter to the Philippians. Philippians 2:4-5 tells us, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”

I would assume that the people in Philippi had their own problems. They needed to grow in the Holy Spirit just like we do. It is a process.

Paul’s letter was intended to help them to grow in the Holy Spirit. One reason for us to study his letter would be, that we may have the same problems as they had.

We should ask ourselves: What is my attitude towards my brothers and sisters in the Church? Or towards my co-workers? Is it positive or negative? Is the Holy Spirit of God growing and firmly grounded in me? Am I helping others to grow?

Answering such questions can be difficult, but facing the facts and reflecting on them is a valuable exercise.

The motivation for our behavior could be pride. Our actions and views can be driven by personal ambition, greed, revenge, or other motives that are obviously wrong. These ungodly traits creep in slowly, and we need to be on guard against them.

For this reason, Paul admonishes us to engage in a certain amount of self-examination.

How can we know if we are on the narrow path that Christ has shown us? The answer lies in esteeming others higher than ourselves. Philippians 2:3 says: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better [higher] than himself.” The New Jerusalem Bible says: “… everyone should give preference to others…”

Paul does not mean that we should become inactive and disregard our own strengths and abilities. Now let’s read Philippians 2:4 again: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

His point is that we should not be busy exploring how great we are. We should also focus on others, not just on ourselves.

Such is the right attitude of a true Christian. It is not self-evident for us human beings. But it would be worth working on it, and with God’s Holy Spirit, it is achievable.

Our decisions are molded in our minds and hearts. In order to have the mind or attitude of Christ, we need to understand how Christ actually was, and how He sees things.

In the following verses, we find possible clues. Philippians 2:6-8 tells us, “[Christ] who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Do we follow the example and resemble the mindset of Christ? Because that is the kind of attitude we should have.

But as usual, it is easier said than done.

Is the well-being of others generally more important to us than our own?

Every day, we are faced with decisions. We shape our character through the choices we make every day. We can mold a good or a bad character.

We should follow the model of Christ. Through His Holy Spirit, He will help us to become more and more like Him.

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

In 1 Peter 3:8-9, we read: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

(Initial Translation: Daniel Blasinger)

When We Feel Like Giving Up

Life is indeed hard sometimes, and every day distractions can be a hindrance to what is most important.  How strongly are we committed to the Truth and God’s Way of Life?  We may sometimes have that feeling of quitting, having doubt or a lack of faith, and that kind of thinking could even bring us to the point of giving up.  We have to be careful that we don’t think that way. 

In the 13th chapter of Matthew, Christ talks about the parable of the sower.  In verse 19, He states, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”

We must be diligent in understanding the Truth, and we do that by studying God’s Word and asking God for His wisdom and understanding.  Satan the devil is very eager to draw us away from God’s Truth, and he loves it when we stumble. 

Instead, we are to be joyful when we hear God’s Word (verse 20).  The key is that we remain joyful and enthusiastic about God’s Way of Life, lest we drift away, due to various trials in our lives.  Verse 21 states, “… yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.  For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” 

Christ also describes a category of people who do know the Truth but are still attached to the world in some way:  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (verse 22).  We cannot serve God and mammon  (Matthew 6:24).  Being caught up in the world is a huge distraction from God’s Way of Life, and therefore, it is impossible to bear fruit.  In verse 23, Christ states: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” We must also remember the fact that we, as converted Christians, were predestined to be called, and we were chosen for this life, to know God’s Truth and His Law.  God has called us out of this world to a potentially better life that is to come in the near future.  With this understanding that we have, we must act on it, and whenever we may have that feeling of giving up, know that God is always there to help us and that we will be blessed far more than we can ever imagine. Keep going, and we will see what God promises the faithful.

It IS Worth Getting Out of Bed!

Very recently, I read a letter in a national newspaper which was in response to an earlier article that had been published, entitled “Why Do Older People Groan When They Get Up?”   As an “older” person myself, I was somewhat amused by the following printed response:

“As a retiree, I can suggest some reasons.   We have a government with no sense of purpose and a similar Opposition.   Common sense views are dismissed as not ‘woke’ and those who express them risk being ‘cancelled’.   Highly paid (health service) consultants endanger patients by going on strike.  The Government has spent billions on a rail link from Birmingham to the middle of nowhere.

“Electric cars are the future, if you can find a charging point.   The choice of candidates at the next U.S. election is between two old lunatics.

“Its creators have realised that AI is a threat to humanity but have no idea how to stop it.   Shoplifting is increasing and no one can stop that, either.  

“It’s not so much a case of groaning when we get up.   Some of us wonder if it’s worth getting out of bed!”

And, although that letter was probably somewhat tongue in cheek, many may sympathise with the state of the nation and the world at large.  Had we not been given a knowledge of the Truth through the Church of God, we may have felt the same.

Having just returned from the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, we will have heard messages about what is just ahead of us.   Sermons will have been given about how things will change and the return of Jesus Christ ushering in an entirely different Way of Life for those who survive the horrors of the Great Tribulation.   Things may be bad now, and they will get much worse, before mankind will, at long last, have decisive, honest, sympathetic and righteous rule over all the earth.

As a 12-year-old, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the annual Passover, and His parents were anxiously looking for Him.   After 3 days, He was found in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions (compare Luke 2:46). In verses 48-49 of Luke 2, we read: “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’   And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’”

In verse 50, we read that “…they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.”

Nearly 2,000 years later and with all the information contained in God’s Word, we can understand what Jesus was referring to.  It could be that some may wonder today if it really is worth getting out of bed.  But that must not be our approach and our Way of Life, and, like Jesus, we must be about our Father’s business.   Times may be difficult for many, but the recent Feast foreshadowed better times that are ahead of us, and we must get that message out to the world as much as possible.   

And that will be achieved by getting out of bed and doing whatever we can to assist in proclaiming that message at this critical time in the history of man!

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