Get Mad!

In his autobiography, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong relates an impressive example of someone who was to give an attack speech in public. Beginning on page 249, Mr. Armstrong explains that he asked his friend, “What do you hate the most?,” continuing, “He didn’t seem to hate anything… There was nothing I could find that he was really MAD about.” But then, certain events occurred which his friend witnessed, and he “was now really outraged.” When he began to rehearse in front of Mr. Armstrong, his “words described in dynamic language exactly the way he now felt… THEY WERE TERRIFICALLY CONVINCING!…IT WAS POWERFUL and it was CONVINCING!”

When it was his turn to give his first attack speech in public, during a competition, Mr. Armstrong describes the events in this way: “He forgot his nervousness that had seized him at the beginning. He thought only of the outrageous injustices he had SEEN with his own eyes… He really MEANT what he was saying—and HE was SAYING SOMETHING!” And so, he won the competition. He later became “the first president of Ambassador College, and its first instructor in public speaking.”

I have thought about this episode quite often. When attending Spokesman and Graduate and Ambassador Clubs for many years, I observed participants who were like Mr. Armstrong’s friend at first; they did not seem to hate anything, were not angry about anything, and did therefore not deliver a meaningful and convincing attack speech.

We, in the Churches of God, must learn to hate what is wrong, and we must not be afraid or too timid to show and express that anger and that hatred at the opportune time. Some feel that it is unchristian to become angry. They totally misunderstand what the Bible teaches. Sure, we are admonished not to express unrighteous human anger (James 1:20), but we also know that Christ, in the flesh, became angry when He saw the hardness of the heart of merciless people (Mark 3:5). And Christ, as well as John the Baptist, did not mince any words when they addressed and spoke about certain hypocritical leaders (Matthew 12:34; 23:17, 23-29, 33; 3:7). Sometimes, Christ spoke about them with sarcasm to make His point even clearer (Luke 13:31-32).

Especially God’s true ministers have a God-given duty, when addressing a “sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4); a nation whose “whole head is sick” and whose “whole heart faints” (verse 5); with “no soundness in it” from “the soles of the foot even to the head” (verse 6) to “Cry aloud, spare not [Margin in the New King James Bible: “do not hold back”]; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). To be able to do that and to tell the people and the political and religious leaders about their miserable condition and their terrible fate, we must be “full of power by the spirit of the LORD” (Micah 3:8).

In order to fulfill our responsibility effectively and convincingly, we ourselves must feel anger and hatred for the injustice, wickedness, rebellion against God and the lies and misrepresentations we observe daily, from the very top down, starting with the “heads of the house of Jacob” and the “rulers of the house of Israel, Who abhor justice And pervert all equity” (Micah 3:9). This anger must be reflected in our speaking and writing in order to be convincing. When we speak about the horrible sinful conduct of our leaders and the people, and don’t show convincingly how mad and really outraged we are about it, we will not wake anybody up (Ephesians 5:14).

The Total Package

In the 1990s, there was a sports figure who was really muscular, with the help of steroids. He thought of himself as a lady’s man and, not lacking any humility, referred to himself as the total package. Today, he is a shell of his former self and has had several health issues related to his steroid use. 

There is one individual who lived in the past as a Man who humbly walked the earth to bring us a message of peace to come in the future Kingdom of God. He healed the sick, cast out demons, walked on water and performed miracles; yet, this did not go to His head; rather, He gave credit to God Most High. In the truest sense, He was the total package, and that was and is Jesus Christ. 

We look to Him for healing and follow the admonition of James when we are sick, to seek anointing from true ministers of Jesus Christ.  James 5:14 tells us: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

We usually ask for anointing and healing when we are physically sick, but how often do we ask for anointing and healing when we are suffering from emotional distress? For instance, we might be living and reliving the grief and hurt of having to deal with divorced parents. We might be disturbed and grieved by the memory of sexual abuse which leaves scars for a long time, or by the emotional trauma of rejection and lack of love from someone close to us. 

These are sicknesses of the mind and heart, as it were, leaving psychological scars, not physical ones, and for which we can go to God and ask for the application of the stripes of Jesus Christ to these non-physical issues we may be going through. If Christ prayed for Peter, why can’t we ask Christ to pray for us in trials and stressful situations? He is not a respecter of persons and converted brethren are His brothers and sisters. We belong to a loving family and have a glorious future.

So, when facing physical or psychological trials and tests, let’s not forget that Christ, as the total package, can come to our aid in all of our sicknesses—whether they are physical, emotional, psychological or even mental or spiritual.

God Hates Lying… Do We?

Surely, politics has always been a fertile ground for lies, libel and slander, misrepresentation and misinformation, but it seems it has recently reached such a level which appears to be unique and unparalleled. This is partly due to the huge influence of the powerful left-wing mass media which is anxious to disseminate falsities regarding those of a different and less “popular” persuasion, while censoring and suppressing their “politically-not-correct” viewpoints. But lies are also met with a growing lethargy of the population being so accustomed to and familiar with all the falsehoods bombarding them that they don’t even bother anymore to try to make some sense out of the nonsense.

The LGBTQ+ movement and the “Woke” movement, which propagate and are based on many lies, did not even exist several years ago, but they have reached such a status today, that most do not even dare to question their standards and persuasions, lest they are being called divisive and hateful extremists. The support of the left-wing mass media and of most liberal politicians for these movements has of course largely contributed to their uprising. There is little attention given, if at all, to what the great Creator God has to say about them.

Politicians lie—we know that. But the recent explosion of lies and misrepresentations from the very top down should alarm all of us. It would take pages to list all the lies and suspected lies being circulated, from the so-called “Big Lie” (which might not be a lie at all) to the lies of the “Big Guy” (which might very well turn out to be a series of unconscionable lies). Any objective observer, who is not totally asleep, must admit that lying has become THE way of life for many, if not most politicians, journalists, business enterprises and governmental agencies.

We read a prophecy for our time in the book of Hosea which states that people have broken all restraint with respect to lying and other sins (Hosea 4:2)—lying has become their way of life. We read another end-time prophecy in the book of Isaiah which describes our nations in this way: “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies” (Isaiah 59:4). Verses 14-15 add: “Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off. For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”

God is Truth… He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). There has never been a lie which originates in and comes from the Truth (1 John 2:21). Satan, however, is the father of lies (John 8:44), because lies started with him. And Satan is today the god and ruler of this evil and rotten world (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). So, do we really wonder WHY there are so many lies in the world?

When God hates something to the very core of His being, it is lying. We read in Proverbs 6:16-19 that God hates lying and that a lying tongue and a false witness are an abomination to Him. Those who do not repent of their way of lying and cheating, slandering, libeling and inventing fake news and horrible falsehoods will meet a terrible fate. We read that “all liars” will be cast into the lake of fire to be burned up (Revelation 21:8), and those “who love and practice a lie” will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15).

These words are empty warnings for most people today. And as bad as it is now when considering the lies and the liars in this world where “Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth” (Jeremiah 7:28), can you imagine that it will even get much worse? Yes, it is hard to imagine, but it is clearly prophesied.

In 2 Thessalonians 2, we read about the manifestation of the “man of sin,” who will sit in the temple of God and claim falsely that he is God (verse 4). He will come “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders” (verse 9). Those will be deceived and believe the lie who did not receive the love of the Truth (verses 10-11)—and how precious few are those (who are described as truly converted called, chosen and faithful Christians) who DO love and obey and teach and stand up for the Truth, even speaking it in their hearts (Psalm 15:1-2)!

The time for embracing the Truth and exposing and reproving the evil and unfruitful works of lies and darkness is now (Ephesians 5:11). The more lies we allow to enter our thoughts and our lives, the more we will become gullible and receptive to Satan’s ongoing and ever-increasing deceptions which will culminate in the manifestation of the man of sin.

Here is what we must do and how we must feel, using David as an example: “I hate and abhor lying, But I love your law” (Psalm 119:163). And: “Remove from me the way of lying… I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:29-30).

Living by Truth

“You can’t handle the Truth,” is a line from a movie called, “A Few Good Men.” That quote has entered modern parlance by suggesting that some information is above or beyond the grasp of the unknowing.

What if people were actually told the Truth—that a powerful, unseen government rules the world with the goal of bringing death to humanity? What if wars, false religion, abortion, perverted sexual practices and lying (among so many other things) were all part of an attempt to destroy mankind?

What if God sent somebody to speak Truth to the world—to warn and to show the right Way to peace, abundant living and even eternal life? He did, and it was Jesus Christ, who also said, “‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12); adding, “‘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).

What Jesus spoke was Truth; however, many who heard Him could not handle it, and Jesus told them, “‘because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me’” (John 8:45). Even though Jesus came with great power from God as witness to the Truth He spoke, still, He was rejected.

“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him” (John 12:37). However, rejecting Truth from God brings accountability, as Jesus states:

“‘If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father’” (John 15:24).

Christians believe Jesus! In fact, this is our great key for living by the Truth of God, but we must remain faithful. Just how crucial and challenging this is has been written about from the start. Many who were called into the Truth of God turned away—not able to handle the Truth, and that continues to be a constant and foreboding danger for us.

On the other hand, many whom God has called have fully embraced and continued in Truth’s freedom. That was true of King David, and he fervently sought God’s Truth:

“Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).

To handle the Truth of God we must grow to understand it while being led by God’s Holy Spirit, and let’s always remember to ask God for His help! Our responsibility is great!

Regret Consumes; Repentance Heals

Most of us at some point in our lives have regretted something we’ve done, choices we’ve made, or perhaps things we did not do. The Greek word for regret is metamelomai, and interestingly, this also means to repent. We may also be familiar with the Hebrew meaning which is to sigh. It is truly a part of being a carnal being that we do not always consider the ramifications of our choices and actions in the moment. It is later as we reflect on the outcome that the path seems so clear and our decision so flawed. However, if we experience regret, we may be on the path of creating a positive outcome, that is to repent and alter our course.

This is what God wants from us: to follow His commandments, to love Him, and to rely solely on Him. In Psalm 51, verses 10-14, David speaks to God and implores Him as follows: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.”

David was ashamed and disgusted with himself for what he had chosen to do with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. He knew he had done wrong and broken his bond with God. He regretted his actions and repented before God.

God also can feel and understand regret. In Genesis 6, and in verses 5 and 6, we read this account of God’s righteous anger, and His sadness: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

The Creator felt the sadness and regret that we too experience when something we chose to do turned out badly, or not as we intended. This is significant in our relationship with God knowing that He understands us completely and stands by us despite our actions. This is not unconditional; however, we must recognize our sin and seek His forgiveness and His mercy. As with David, we must humble ourselves before God to receive that restoration.  We can ask God to help us turn our failure and our sin into something positive through our pain and repentance. Consider Paul’s letter to the Romans in Chapter 8, and verse 28:“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.” Through our repentance and the renewal of our relationship with God we can learn from our mistakes and strive for good.

Charles Dickens wrote these words in the 1800’s: “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused”. The writer reminds us that regret is a common human emotion, and it can alter the course of one’s life, in a positive or a negative manner. For those called by God, it is important that we not dwell in the past but change our course, right our ship and stay close to our Creator.

There are two obvious examples of deep regret in our Bible that are instructive and can help God’s people avoid falling away from the Truth: in Luke 22, and in verses 60 to 62, we are transported to that moment after Jesus has been arrested and a man confronts Peter, stating that Peter must have been a follower of Jesus. Beginning in verse 60 we read:But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’ Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the words of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

Peter’s regret was overwhelming; he had rejected Jesus Christ, and he began to realize that he would never again walk with his Master or dine with Him as a human being. His regret for denying his Master was profound, and he wept. Peter would live with this regret, but he, with God’s help through the Holy Spirit, turned his human weakness into his zeal for the Church.

Similarly, Judas knew profound regret as well, but his story does not end well. We read this account in Matthew 27, and in verses 3-5: Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

Judas understood what he had done and regretted his actions and his betrayal of Jesus Christ. This was necessary in God’s plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ, but the action consumed and destroyed Judas. Judas had “worldly sorrow,” not “godly sorrow” or true repentance (compare 2 Corinthians 7:9-10). This is what regret can do to us; it can consume us and prevent us from moving forward as Peter was able to do. The only answer for true Christians is to acknowledge our mistakes and change.

Repentance is a gift and God will accept our sincere remorse if it is coupled with a change of heart and obedience in our thoughts and actions. Those we’ve wronged may not accept our remorse but there too we must turn to God.

Are We Using the Correct Tools?

Last year, I purchased an espresso machine that I use daily. I typically make three coffees a day, two for myself and one for my wife.

Before, I was using a hand grinder to grind my coffee fresh each morning. Each grind would take about 2 – 3 minutes to grind the beans fine enough to push hot water through it and make espresso. So, 2 – 3 minutes multiplied by 3 equals 6 to 9 minutes just in grinding the beans down.  (I have used the machine for nine months; 30×9=270 days) equals 2,430 minutes. If we divide that by 60 minutes, that is 40.5 hours.

So, I had spent almost the time of a full work-week (40 hours) grinding beans by hand! When I actually stopped to think about this fact, it shocked me! Even if it was only 2 minutes for each cup, it’s still about 27 hours. Now I have an electric grinder which automatically grinds the beans in about 30 seconds. This one device has shaved off minutes of making coffee each morning, essentially saving me days of time each year!

The right tool for the job saves time! I think this also iterates the fact that the little things that we do repeatedly over time build up. Good, bad, everything we do builds up and has effects.

What tools do we use in our Christian lives? Many of us have been in the Church of God for a very long time. But how much do we apply the tools of our trade? Are there areas where we are failing to apply the proper tools? Are we wandering aimlessly, using the wrong tools and getting bad results?

When God was giving instructions to Moses for the building of the traveling temple or tabernacle of God and the things to be placed therein and the garments needed to perform the service, all of it was intricate and it was to be built by craftsmen—people who knew what they were doing. These people didn’t just randomly have the ability. It says that they were skilled and then the Spirit of God led them. Exodus 28:3 states: “So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.”

God hasn’t called us by random chance! God has called us and has given us the ability to accomplish what He needs us to do. Notice, Paul states in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  It is easy to get caught up in our daily lives, with everything that is going on around us, and to miss the bigger picture. The Bible doesn’t leave us without knowledge of what to do. If we are involving God in our ways, then it’s clear that He will show us the ways and open the doors for us.

When it comes to our Christian lives, what is it that we are doing daily?

We know we should be praying always. We know we should be studying the Bible. We know what we should be doing. But how much are we actually really turning over to God?

What we need to keep in mind at all times is that we are not here fighting against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Rather, we are fighting daily against spiritual enemies that are trying to kill us—yes, physically, but more importantly, eternally. 

We can ONLY fight this fight by turning to our spiritual Helper and Guide. We need to realign ourselves with the proper tools to fight the battles and consider who our true enemy is. When we are not fully engaged and using the tools that God gives us, then Satan’s fog of confusion, deception and a whole host of other tools that he uses are active and are designed to cause us pain, grief and ultimately destruction. 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us that Satan should not “take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

Our time here is limited. We are called now to do different tasks. Yet we ALL are in this struggle between life and death. We are each given the opportunity to take up and learn how to use the tools that God gives us. Ephesians 6:10-20 lays out for us the tools that are given to us. That then is our duty—to take them and to use them—to figure out how they find use and purpose in our lives. We should also realize that without these tools, it is impossible to win. Another area that comes to mind and that goes hand in hand with using these tools is learning how to utilize the fruit of the Spirit of God. The actions that come from this fruit is what is key. It is ONLY by studying—thinking about and really looking at our lives that we can come away with answers, with changes.

The tools that we have at our disposal are there for us to use at all times and in every situation that we find ourselves in—if we are in the mindset to do so. That really is what this life is about—being mindful of how we are living our lives. Time comes and goes; no matter, what we do. We should pay attention to how we are using the tools given to us because it will matter!

We Are Not the Only Ones

In October last year (2022), my wife and I flew from Heathrow airport to Düsseldorf in Germany as part of our travel to the German Feast of Tabernacles site.   When we were in the lounge at the airport, waiting for the call to go to the gate for the flight, I saw someone I recognised.   As he passed me, he nodded, and I nodded back.   I recognised him as a famous footballer (soccer player) who had played for two of the top teams in England and was an international player for his country of birth (he was not English).  I had seen him play many times on television, and he was a top-class player.

I decided to engage him in conversation and found him very friendly, and he was happy to have a conversation about football that was interesting.   He was going to Germany on a scouting mission as he had been appointed as the coach of a European team a few months previously, after coaching other teams since his retirement.   I saw him again on board the aircraft and we again met up at the carousel waiting for our luggage to arrive.   We had a further conversation that was very stimulating and one that we, in the Church of God, could relate to.

He was quite animated about how he found it difficult to communicate properly with his players because of political correctness.  The gist of what he said was that, at times, he needed to get his message across when he could be straightforward with them but found that almost impossible because a wrong word here or there could be disastrous in the current climate.  He felt that he had to really measure his words in a way that would not offend his charges and that that could and did present problems.   In other words, the woke culture that society has been sleepwalking into has made his ability to coach the team properly, a real problem.

In the Church, we can sometimes think that we are the only ones who may struggle with the ridiculous suppression of freedom of speech that has engulfed society in the Western world.   So many have become sensitive and super-sensitive to the point where it can be difficult to communicate with others.  People can be “cancelled” if they disagree with the current societal ethos.

We know that if any of us state publicly that homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism and same-sex marriage are wrong according to the Bible, it can be construed as hate speech.   The LGBTQ+ groupings are not so constrained in their propagation of such appalling behaviour which God, the Creator of all mankind, says is abominable.

A recent example (one of many) of this woke nonsense occurred recently, in May 2023, when a coffee shop manager in the UK was filmed screaming at a customer for being “transphobic” after she used the word “lady” to describe a non-binary member of staff.  It ended up with the worker being filmed berating a woman and throwing her out of a branch of the chain, in footage which went viral.

We know from our recent Google advertising campaign that we have to be so careful, and inventive, to ensure that we can get our message across.  Many years ago, Mr Herbert Armstrong used to meet many leaders, some of whom were not from “Christian” countries, and he had to frame his words carefully.   We have to do the same today, without ever compromising or watering down the message, and much thought and work has to go into what and how we say things.

Nevertheless, we read in Isaiah 58:1: “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.”  We continue to do that today whilst we keep in mind how organisations work and how they push their liberal agendas.

Perhaps, sometimes, we can think that we are the only ones who struggle with this paralysing effect of correct English pronouncements by the woke brigade, but there are many who may or may not be religious who see that such restrictions are the enemy of free speech.   We are not the only ones, but we do have the most important task in the world today of announcing the soon-coming Kingdom of God when all of the nonsense we have to put up with today will become a thing of the past.

And it will be like that under perfect government for eternity!

What If?

What if we were no longer tested by God?

Most of us, if not all, have realized and understood how hard life can be as a true Christian, although we are not to be ungrateful for what God does for us.

God called us through His grace out of this corrupt world, to have no longer any part in its sins, because God wants to bestow on us the most beautiful eternal life.

Therefore, we should have understood that we are only pilgrims or aliens in this world, who are on the way to enter the glory of God very soon. But it depends on us, on each one of us, whether we become or are worthy to inherit the Kingdom of God. Nobody can take away the sins of anybody else or live their life. Everyone is responsible for himself or herself!

At times, life can appear to us as a torment, filled with suffering, drenched in resentment and despair. And then we might ask ourselves, “How long do I have to watch this suffering or endure it myself?” And if not remedied immediately, one might ask, “What have I done wrong to have to experience such plagues?”

Questions upon questions, which seem to have no answer. At the same time, the answer might be right in front of us, but we may not always want to admit it and ignore it instead; because we no longer want to be confronted with these problems around us or in ourselves, since problems may not give us any joy. However, there is an answer for many problems, and the greatest answer for some of our problems is “chastening!”

Paul told the Hebrews: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Peter also tells us something very crucial: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Peter then goes on to say: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

Enduring trials or chastening means, being obedient to God and Jesus Christ. We constantly point out that it is not an easy path, but it gives us peace and happiness, joy, and true friends. And if we all try a little harder, perhaps one can share the burden with someone else. As Paul put it in such a beautiful way:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

One does not always have to stand alone with one’s worries, one’s trials or chastisements; it is good if we can help, support, and share each other’s burdens.

Then again, what if we were no longer tested by God?

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:10: “Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.”

And Paul knew perfectly well: “But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).

So, if we are suffering, it may very well be that God wants to test and educate us, and to strengthen us for the hard times that are soon to come. God treats us in the way children should be educated. For this we can and must be grateful as well.

Initial Translation: Daniel Blasinger

Never Give Up

We are living today in a very uncertain world. It is a world with wars occurring in Ukraine and Sudan and rumours of a potential war with China over Taiwan. There is a disagreement over the lifting of the US federal debt ceiling between the White House and Congress which has the potential of causing severe economic problems. And there are also forecasts of further pandemics. Then there is a concern about who will be the next president of the USA and what will he do? Will he improve matters or make them worse?

How can we have confidence living in this world? In reality, there is only one Being we can rely upon, and that is our God and the promises He has made. We can look at some of them here and we can also look at the examples of the apostles and understand why they never gave up till their death. And, of course, we need to remember that when God makes a promise, He does not withdraw it. Numbers 23:19 informs us that, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, knowing that there were strong nations occupying the land, God encouraged them by saying: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

There are many other promises for God protecting us and providing for us which would greatly expand the Editorial if they were all listed. But there is one that is particularly encouraging to those of us of a more mature age. That’s found in Isaiah 46:3-4: “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to grey hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” This passage has similarities to the poem “Footprints in the Sand” which is quite well-known.

Some of God’s people who had severe trials were the apostles. We read about much of what Paul went through in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Peter and other apostles were imprisoned and beaten for doing the Work of God. That is related to the early chapters of the book of Acts. So why were they willing to go through this punishment? What Paul wrote, possibly in the midst of him doing his part of God’s Work, in Romans 8:18, gives us the reason: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Also, in his last epistle, just before his martyrdom, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, we read, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

So, in his writings, the apostle Paul is encouraging us to look to the wonderful future God has promised us. The apostle Peter also encourages us as his time to die was approaching. He acknowledges this in 2 Peter 1:14, “…knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” A nice way to say that he would soon die. Later in the same book, Peter reminds us to look toward the future. We read in 2 Peter 3:13, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

There will be trials and difficulties ahead, but we can hold onto the promise in Hebrews 13:5-6: “….For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”

So, we must all look to the future in God’s Kingdom when all the difficulties of this life will be behind us, and we will consider them totally insignificant compared with the wonderful eternal life God has in store for us.

I know, but…

Recently, I had to train an employee in our company, or rather, I had tried to train him. And whenever I explained something to him, he said: “I KNOW.” Regardless of what I told him, he responded with two words: “I KNOW.” It was quite annoying to me, because he never did it right, even though he knew perfectly well how to do it, or how he should do it.

And what about us?

·     I know I am harsh, brusque and unkind!

·     I know that’s wrong, but…

·     I know I am rebellious, not submitting to my husband.

·     I know I do not pay enough attention to my wife!

·     I know my home is dirty, but…

·     I know I should pray.

·     I know I need to study … but too many other things interfere.

·     I know… I KNOW… I KNOW!!

Does that sound familiar to us? Is that something we know?

We have been blessed with the most precious knowledge, the greatest laws, ways of life and purpose ever given to a people. God has begotten us with His Holy Spirit! The ultimate goal is to become a God being. Think about it! We are to become God.

How hard are we trying, considering what we know? Are we eager, growing and overcoming? Or are we slow, lazy, sluggish, stagnant, passive and compromising with sin?

Do we know good things we should do, but do not do them?

How does God look at this? What does God say? James 4:17 reads, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

So, if we say, “I know”, and do not act on that knowledge, we are sinners! Do we realize that we could just say as easily, “I sin,” as saying, “I know I should do good, but I don’t”?

In Matthew 25:24-30, we find the parable about the servant who KNEW what to do!!! It states:

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

He might as well have said: “I knew you were asking me to overcome, Lord, but I just didn’t get around to doing it.”

Let’s think about that attitude for a moment! He was lazy, wicked, fearful, stubborn, rebellious, proud, accusing God of being unjust, justifying himself, deceiving himself and going his own carnal way.

Let us consider. Because he knew and did not make even the smallest effort necessary, he lost his eternal life and his reward. He was cast into the outer darkness… the wages of sin is death!

Why do we have this attitude? Why do we say we know we are sinning and make no effort to change even though we know we MUST change? What are we waiting for? For God to perform a miracle on us, to strengthen us without us having to do anything?

God will not change anyone in this way!

Christ had to pray with vehement cries and tears to overcome the flesh and never sin.

In Philippians 4:13, the Apostle Paul said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Let us note here that things are done through Christ; not that Christ did everything!

Instead of us perhaps saying, “I know I’m sinning, but I can’t change”, let’s pause for a moment and say: “I know this is sin and I WILL change!”

Let us repent and stop sinning. Let us try harder and God will help us to change and overcome.

In 1 John 2:3, we read: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

This requires a supreme effort on our part. This includes daily prayer and Bible study, rooting out sin, maintaining good relationships in our family, with the brethren and between husband and wife.

Let us put our whole heart into overcoming and doing God’s Work.

That is the way for us to be assured that we know Christ: When we do the things that He commands us to do. So let us really work to eradicate the things we know are sins and do the good we know we should do.

Let’s not procrastinate any longer… let us do it NOW! Then we will know for sure that we will be in the Kingdom of God: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).

Initial Translation: Daniel Blasinger

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