Update 457


Fear and Faith

On August 28, 2010, Eric Rank will give the sermon, titled, “Fear and Faith.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Beware of Church Magicians

by Norbert Link

I love to watch “magicians.” To be sure, I don’t like fakes or charlatans–or hypnotists or those whose performances make you wonder whether they are under some kind of spiritual influence or have “extra” help–especially if they claim that this is the case.

But I like to watch those who are really good “illusionists.” I know that there is an explanation for their tricks, but I am baffled by the way they present them–apart from the fact that I can’t really figure out how they do it.

Then, of course, there are “magicians” who put on a bad performance. Their “tricks” are easily discernable and predictable. We can quickly see through them–especially when they make mistakes, such as pulling a white rabbit out of a hat when it should have been a white dove.

However, I don’t like to watch or listen to ANY of the church “magicians” or “illusionists.” Most of their performances are poor or just plain fakes. Some claim that they may have special speculative insight information, but I wonder about the source–especially when their speculation contradicts Scripture. There are those who like to dazzle others with their “unique” understanding, proclaiming that their mere human speculation is tantamount to godly revelation. Many times, we can immediately see through their illusions and magic tricks, but at other times, they seem to be more subtle.

In my last Editorial (“The Day of Christ’s Return“), I showed that Jesus Christ, in the Holy Bible, proclaims that only the Father knows the “day” or the “hour” or the “times” or the “seasons” of Christ’s return. If we can believe it–not even Christ knows the exact year of His Second Coming. In fact, trusting in the accuracy of Christ’s very own words, His return will come as an UNEXPECTED surprise to everyone–including His disciples.

It was noted that someone responded to my editorial by writing on the Internet: “I am not claiming that I know the exact year… just that Jesus likely does… When will Jesus return? 2018 or 2019?”

Can we see through this cheap magic trick? Jesus “likely” does know? So does He, or doesn’t He? And insofar as the self-proclaimed humility of that “magician” is concerned, he does not claim that he knows–except that, with a revealing twinkle in his eye, he suggests that he does know–it’s 2018 or 2019!!!

If you are not convinced yet, why don’t you join the circus of church illusionists and toss or pick up some more coins. Because competing church magicians have postulated other years–2012 or 2014 or 2017. Some recently announced a year for Christ’s return, which by now has already passed. So, their illusions were just that–illusions!

By default, somebody will happen to be correct one of these days, as we know, from the signs of the time, that Jesus’ return IS near. But some, with great swelling words of emptiness, are even trying to become hypnotists, attempting to draw a following after themselves due to their “humbly” professed “insight” knowledge.

What many of those church magicians, illusionists, performers, hypnotists or plain fakes don’t seem to realize is that they need to focus on something altogether different–as we all must do. Rather than trying to be a self-proclaimed recipient of “hidden knowledge” as to the exact year and month and day of Christ’s return (which knowledge is restricted to the Father), they should concentrate on what it takes to be able to stand before Christ when He returns. Many, I fear, are forgetting the weightier matters of the law. To be a church magician or illusionist, merely pulling black rabbits of speculations out of a little shabby hat, won’t cut it. We must not forget that obedience and faith is much more important than “insight” knowledge. And those who believe that they can disbelieve the Father’s and Jesus’ words and still be in God’s Kingdom, may have a surprise awakening coming.

PS You might want to read my Editorial from June 5, 2009, titled, “The Last Days…”

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The German press reported on America’s withdrawal from Iraq and nearly universally concluded that Washington’s image has suffered; that America did not win the Iraq war; that America’s leadership role in the Middle East is over; and that no peace is in sight for Iraq. In other words, that the war was wrong, useless and a complete failure.

We are focusing on President Obama’s loss of popularity in the USA and abroad, and reporting about serious consequences of a conversion from Islam to Christianity under Muslim law. We also report on the economic downfall of the United States, with voices being heard now that we are in a great DEPRESSION.

We write about the increasing threat of Israel’s military action against Iran, due to Iran’s provocative actions and Russia’s dubious role in the matter.

We conclude with an interesting article in USA Today about the Second Coming of Christ, mixing some truth with a lot of error.

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Iraq War Damaged American Credibility

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 20:

“Has American credibility been severely damaged by the Iraq War? One day after the last US combat unit left the country, some in the German press say that it has. Commentators are pessimistic about Iraq’s ability to cope alone.

“It has been seven and a half years since Shock and Awe, the military campaign launched by US and UK forces to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. On Thursday, the last US combat unit crossed the border into Kuwait with far less fanfare than when those first coalition forces arrived in March 2003…

“Yet the cost of the war has been enormous both financially and in terms of human lives. Over 4,400 US troops and 100,000 Iraqi civilians died during the conflict. And the country is by no means completely pacified, with sectarian and ethnic tensions still present and insurgents thought to be regaining strength…

“According to a US-Iraq military pact from 2009, US troops must be out of the country by Jan. 1, 2012 yet last week Robert Gates, Obama’s defense secretary, said that if a new Iraqi government is formed ‘and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we’re obviously open to that discussion.’ Those comments are not likely to have been welcomed by much of the Democratic party, which faces tough midterm elections in November. The US public is weary of almost a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and Obama, who is up for re-election in 2012, will have to tread carefully.

“Just last week Iraq’s military commander, Lieutenant-General Babakir Zebari, caused consternation when he said his troops would not be in a position to protect the country until 2020 and that Washington should keep its forces in Iraq until then.

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… The invasion of Iraq was wrong, unjust and damaging. For the Iraqi people one inscrutable, violent regime has been replaced by another. And the promises of freedom and democracy are worthless if they can’t run a generator or help buy food. This practical disillusion is paired with the strategic defeats that America has suffered… the US has also weakened itself, where it was classically strong: as a hard power. America showed itself to be helpless during the worst years of the Iraq civil war and incapable of dealing with the complex insurgency… America’s claim to leadership is broken, its credibility severely damaged. The world has become more confusing and less safe. That is the legacy of this war.’

“The business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘The Iraqi Army is hardly in a position to provide security. The people will have to suffer much bloodshed in the future because the roots of terrorism have not been dealt with. Iraq is not able to deal with this by itself. It still doesn’t have a functioning government after the elections in March. This double vacuum provides a fertile breeding ground for extremist groups. Washington has suffered terrible damage to its image in the Middle East. Iraq is not pacified and the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan because the US concentrated its military capacity in Iraq. Neighboring Iran is playing cat and mouse on the nuclear issue while peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is out of reach. The Iraqis have few grounds for optimism. The US is not only leaving behind a security gap, but also a political mess. The institutional structures are too weak and the army too inexperienced to prevent the country from descending into chaos and anarchy.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… The war is far from over, never mind [who] won… Around 50,000 American soldiers are staying in Iraq and contrary to what the government seems to be suggesting, they are full-fledged soldiers who will attack if need be. The Iraqi soldiers and police are not able to provide security everywhere in the country … and the number of terrorist attacks has increased recently, while five months of attempts to form a government have failed so far’…

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘The Anglo-American war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation was a severe breach of international law. The collected justifications by the Bush and Blair governments for the war were lies from the beginning. A later attempted justification was the deposing of Saddam Hussein, a dictator who the West and the Soviet Union had backed in the late 70s and armed for his war against the Islamic revolutionary regime in neigboring [sic] Iran. What price was paid for the overthrow of Saddam? Over 100,000 civilians have died as a direct consequence of the war and other acts of violence since March 2003. In Iraq 4,419 US soldiers lost their lives and tens of thousands came home injured or with terrible trauma. The Pentagon budget since 2003 for the war and occupation was over $740 billion. Some experts put the actual cost for the US economy at $3 trillion. Yet despite these huge costs and victims, Iraq is neither pacified in the long-term nor politically stable.'”

America won its last war a long time ago. It has not won the Iraq war, nor will it win the Afghan war, nor any other war to come. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Obama vs. Bush

Newsmax wrote on August 22:

“When George W. Bush departed the White House on Jan. 20, 2009, he left as one of the most unpopular presidents in history. At the time, a Gallup poll found President Bush tallied a mere 34 percent approval. That put him only slightly above the two most unpopular presidents in the era of modern polling: Harry Truman (32 percent when he left office), and Richard Nixon (22 percent when he resigned in disgrace in August 1974.)

“Close to two years into President Barack Obama’s term, Bush’s mojo with the American public appears on the rise… Nationally, Obama continues to be the more popular politician. Gallup’s latest poll shows Obama’s favorability at 52 percent, compared with Bush’s 45 percent. Yet, these numbers show steady improvement for the one-time Texas governor who led the nation’s ‘war on terror.’

“Since March 2009, Bush’s Gallup rating has climbed 10 points. Obama’s favorability during the same period: down by more than 20 points… For the moment, Bush’s Rocky Balboa-like comeback is happening despite the fact that Bush left the country in the worst financial shape since the Great Depression and ramped up social spending to dizzying heights while nearly doubling the national debt and embroiling the nation in two foreign wars.

“The cause for this GOP windfall could be because of the fact that Obama seems to have fallen so far short of the ‘hope and change’ message he promised voters. His actions during his first two years have alienated independent voters in a manner that go well beyond any of Bush’s errant ways.”

America’s leadership is no longer respected, regardless as to who might lead.

Jewish Voters Disassociate Themselves from Obama

In a related article, Newsmax reported on August 22:

“Barack Obama won nearly 80 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, but his support among Jews has been declining in part because of concerns over his Israeli policies. A study of Jewish voters by McLaughlin & Associates this past spring found that only 42 percent of respondents would support Obama’s re-election, while 46 percent said they would support another candidate.

“Among Orthodox Jews, 69 percent would likely support another candidate, and just 17 percent would back Obama. Among those affiliated with Conservative Judaism, only 38 percent would support Obama, as would a slim majority of Reform Jews, 52 percent.

“Overall, 50 percent said they approved and 39 percent disapproved of Obama’s handling of American relations with Israel. ‘We are not only witnessing a sharpening of the divide within the community, but a radicalization of the Jewish political right, accompanied by a corresponding disengagement of the Jewish liberal sector from the Israel discourse,’ The Jewish Journal observed in an Aug. 10 article… ‘Not only worried about their own economic status, this constituency is deeply concerned by what they observe as the erosion of support for Israel’…

“Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, tells Newsmax: ‘The majority of Jews now realize that this guy is bad for Israel, let alone bad for America.'”

The relationship between America and the state of Israel will steadily deteriorate.

Islam’s Laws and “President Apostate?”

On August 20, 2010, the Drudge Report re-published an article, which had been originally published on May 12, 2008, stating the following:

“Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith. As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

“Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him. His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is ‘irtidad’ or ‘ridda,’ usually translated from the Arabic as ‘apostasy,’ but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

“With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings.

“… in Iran in 1994 the intervention of Pope John Paul II and others won a Christian convert a last-minute reprieve, but the man was abducted and killed shortly after his release. Likewise, in 2006 in Afghanistan, a Christian convert had to be declared insane to prevent his execution, and he was still forced to flee to Italy.

“Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.”

Based on this fact and other factors, we cannot expect that the relationship between the Obama administration and the Muslim world will steadily improve.

America IS in a Depression!!!!

CNBC wrote on August 24:

“Positive gross domestic product readings and other mildly hopeful signs are masking an ugly truth: The US economy is in a 1930s-style Depression, Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg said Tuesday… then as now… signs of recovery were unsustainable and only provided a false sense of stability, said Rosenberg.

“Rosenberg calls current economic conditions ‘a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession,’ and notes that any good news both during the initial 1929-33 recession and the one that began in 2008 triggered ‘euphoric response.’

“‘Such is human nature and nobody can be blamed for trying to be optimistic; however, in the money management business, we have a fiduciary responsibility to be as realistic as possible about the outlook for the economy and the market at all times,’ he said…

“Rosenberg’s warning comes as a slew of major analysts—Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan among them—have slashed GDP projections for 2010 to the 1.5 to 2 percent range. Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said in a speech Tuesday that the risk of a double-dip recession has escalated. He said government programs to help distressed homeowners have been ineffective and aren’t helping the pivotal housing sector recover.

“The dour outlooks come on the same day that the National Association of Realtors said home sales reached a 15-year low in June, dousing hopes that the industry had reached a bottoming point. Rosenberg points out that the ‘overall economic malaise’ has come despite aggressive efforts by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy through rate cuts…”

CNBC added on August 24:

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average will lose about half of its value over the next couple of years… according to Charles Nenner, founder and president of Charles Nenner research. Stocks are currently in a bear-market rally, and looking at charts and past trends, unemployment and leading indicators suggest the Dow will drop to 5,000 in the next two to two-and-a-half years, Nenner told CNBC in an e-mail.

“Deflation will arrive… pushing the Dow lower… ‘Things look really bad for the next 10 years,’ Nenner said.”

As we are apparently experiencing a depression–not unlike the one in 1929–please listen again to our StandingWatch program, “Coming–The Great Depression?” giving helpful tips as to how to cope in such dire circumstances.

Iran’s “Ambassador of Death”

The Associated Press reported on August 22:

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country’s first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an ‘ambassador of death’ to Iran’s enemies. The 4-meter-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers)…

“The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear program… Referring to Israel’s occasional threats against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad called any attack unlikely, but he said if Israel did, the reaction would be overwhelming. ‘The scope of Iran’s reaction will include the entire… earth,’ said Ahmadinejad. ‘We also tell you — the West — that all options are on the table.'”

The Jerusalem Post and the Associated Press wrote on August 21:

“Nationwide celebrations were planned for Saturday’s fuel loading at Bushehr. ‘I thank the Russian government and nation, which cooperated with the great Iranian nation and registered their name in Islamic Iran’s golden history,’ Salehi said. ‘Today is a historic day and will be remembered in history.’

“Iran says it plans to build other reactors and says designs for a second [reactor] in southwestern Iran are taking shape. The Bushehr project dates backs to 1974, when Iran’s US-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi contracted with the German company Siemens to build the reactor. The company withdrew from the project after the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the shah.

“The partially finished plant later sustained damages after it was bombed by Iraq during its 1980-88 war against Iran. Before making the Russian deal to complete Bushehr, Iran signed pacts with Argentina, Spain and other countries only to see them canceled under US pressure.”

“Israel Says Iranian Reactor Use ‘Totally Unacceptable'”

y-net news, Reuters and AFP reported on August 21:

“Israel on Saturday denounced Iran’s fueling up of its first nuclear power plant as ‘totally unacceptable’ and called for more international pressure to force Tehran to cease any uranium enrichment. Israel, widely assumed to be the only Middle East country to have nuclear weapons, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence, raising concerns Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear sites… Also on Saturday, US State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said the reactor ‘underscores that Iran does not need an indigenous enrichment capability if its intentions are purely peaceful.'”

Bild Online added the following on August 22:

“There is evidence that Iran is working on a rocket which could reach Berlin… According to unverified reports, the US aircraft carrier ‘USS Truman’ is heading towards the Persian Gulf, rather than Afghanistan… Professor Michael Wolffsohn (Military University Munich): ‘I have not the slightest doubt that Israel will attack before Iran has the bomb. When we add two and two, we can see that Israel and perhaps also the USA are preparing for the event of emergency.'”

Welt Online added on August 22:

“It is a terrible signal that Russia supports this development in Iran… And it is further proof that Russia has been playing the hypocrite for years… According to the New York Times, the American government is trying to persuade Israel that there is no immediate present danger emanating from Iran, because the country would need one more year to build the bomb. It is a mystery what is supposedly comforting regarding this. It would mean that Iran can only be stopped militarily and that such an attack would happen within a year, at the latest… The Iranian messages this weekend prove all by themselves why Iran must never be allowed to have the bomb.”

It is likely, as we have said for years, that Israel will attack Iran and that as a consequence, an outright war in the Middle East will ensue. The Bible says in Hosea 5:13 that in the future, Judah or the state of Israel will receive a wound. It also says that Judah will not find rescue or help as God will “take them away” (verse 14). Does this wound refer to Israel’s attack on Iran and Iran’s retaliation (with the possible help of others) and the world’s condemnation of Israel?

Israel Prepares for War Against Iran

WND wrote on August 22:

“While Israel is hoping for a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Jewish state is also preparing for ‘a time of war,’ declared a Knesset member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party… Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon… the deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament… hinted that Israel may take action if the world does not stop the Iranian nuclear threat, recalling Israel’s lone strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981.

“Stated Danon: ‘We are ready for all scenarios, and we are able to defend our civilian population. I cannot tell you how long we can wait more. But we prefer to wait and see if the international bodies are acting, or [whether] it will be only the burden of Israel, like it was in the early ’80s, when the great leader, Menachem Begin, [made] the great decision to bomb the nuclear reactor in Iraq.'”

Al-Qaida Prepares for Israel-Iran War

The Jerusalem Post wrote on August 20:

“Al-Qaida is ready to exploit a war ‘by the Jews against Iran,’ the Sunni group’s second-in-command in Yemen, Saeed al-Shehri, said in an audio message this month, according to the Daily Beast.

“The mostly Shi’ite nation of Iran is an enemy to Al-Qaida, and al-Shehri predicted that after Israel attacked Iranian nuclear installations, Iran would blame Saudi Arabia – which reports say may let Israel fly through its airspace to attack Iran – and use the opportunity to seize the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

“Al-Shehri said Israel would then seize territory from surrounding Arab nations to establish ‘the greater state of Israel,’ and the Sunni Arab population of the Middle East would be trapped between the ‘Jews in the Middle East and Iran in the Peninsula,’ the Daily Beast reported.

“According to the Daily Beast, Al-Qaida would benefit from an Israel-Iran war because if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear installations, Iran would use its proxies to lash back at Americans in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Daily Beast is a news aggregator and original content website owned by a former Wall Street Journal editor.”

Iran Prepared to Supply Lebanon with Weapons Against Israel

Haaretz reported on August 25:

“Iran is prepared to sell weapons to Lebanon if Beirut asks for help in equipping its military, the Islamic Republic’s defense minister said Wednesday. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi’s comments come one day after the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, called on the Lebanese government to formally seek military assistance from Iran.

“‘Lebanon is our friend,’ Vahidi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. ‘If there is a demand in this respect, we are ready to help that country and conduct weapons transactions with it.’ In a televised speech on Tuesday, Nasrallah vowed that his Iranian-backed group could help secure the aid for Lebanon’s poorly equipped army.

“The Hezbollah leader made his suggestion after a U.S. congressman suspended $100 million of American military aid to Lebanon earlier this month over concerns the weapons could be used against Israel and that Hezbollah may have influence over the Lebanese army.

“Lebanon’s government has since opened an account at the central bank to receive donations to help it purchase weapons for the military. But Beirut is not entirely dependent on U.S. military assistance, and has turned to other countries, including Russia and Arab nations, for assistance in the past.

“Iran is a key supporter of Hezbollah, believed to funnel it weapons and millions of dollars in funding, though Tehran denies arming the Shiite group. Hezbollah, also closely allied to Syria, boasts a heavy arsenal of rockets capable of reaching deep inside Israel.”

The End Is Near–But What End?

USA Today wrote on August 23:

“When some Christians look into the near future, they see a wondrous fate for themselves and fellow evangelical believers: a rapture in which God sweeps the true Christians up to heaven. According to this reading of the bible’s Book of Revelation, what awaits those on the wrong side of the ecclesiastical line is not so wondrous: seven years of unimaginable suffering, war and destruction that ends with the Second Coming of Jesus.

“Opinion surveys over the past decade show that more than half the American public believes that the end times are coming. A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds that roughly four in 10 Americans believe the Second Coming will happen by 2050. Those enraptured by the rapture tend to view current events through the lens of biblical prophesy, reading everything from the Obama election to the oil disaster in the Gulf Coast as fulfillment of one or another cryptic passage from Revelation…”

The Bible does not teach a “rapture,” nor a period of seven years of “unimaginable suffering.” For the truth on what the Bible really teaches, please read our free commentary, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

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How can we have complete or full joy in our lives?

In John 17:13, we read: “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they [His disciples] may have MY JOY fulfilled in them.”

Joy is one ingredient of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6). When Christ, through the Holy Spirit, lives in us, then HIS joy is in us and will remain in us, and our joy will become more and more full or fulfilled (John 15:11). As we need to ask God the Father for the daily renewal of the Holy Spirit, so we need to ask for the fullness of God’s and Christ’s joy in our lives (compare John 16:24). It is God who can fill us with all joy (Romans 15:13)–even and especially in times of trials and difficulties. It is possible for us, then, to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; compare 2 Corinthians 6:10).

We must be careful, however, not to confuse godly and right joy with worldly and wrong “joy.” Solomon rejoiced in his labor, but it was the wrong kind of labor (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). The ancient Israelites rejoiced in the works of their hands–but it was the work of building the golden calf (Acts 7:41). It would be the wrong kind of joy to trust in great physical wealth (Job 31:24-25, 28), or to rejoice when our enemies are destroyed or fall (Job 31:29; Proverbs 24:17-18). It would also be wrong to rejoice about our sinful ways (compare James 4:8-9).

When Christ works with us and when He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, then our joy will be godly and right. We rejoice because we know the truth about the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:44). We rejoice in the truth of God (1 Corinthians 13:6). We rejoice over God’s statutes (Psalm 19:8). We rejoice over the way of God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:14). And we rejoice over God’s Word in general, appreciating and embracing it as great treasure (Psalm 119:162). Jeremiah said that God’s Word was the joy of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16).

With Christ’s joy in us, we rejoice over the fact that we belong to God–that God is our Father and that we are His children. We rejoice that our names are already written in God’s Book of Life (Luke 10:20), and that we have fellowship with God the Father and His Son and our brethren (1 John 1:1-4). We also rejoice over the fact that we are to inherit God’s glory (Romans 5:1-2).

In addition, we rejoice because we understand that at the time of our resurrection and change, we will enter into God’s joy–we will experience the very same joy which God has. His kingdom is defined and described as “joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17); and we will enter into the joy of our Lord (Matthew 25:21). There will be exceeding joy–or fullness of joy–when we stand in God’s presence (Jude 24-25; Psalm 16:11). Even though these passages talk about experiencing God’s joy in the future, the knowledge and anticipation of that experience can give us already today exceeding or “inexpressible” joy (1 Peter 1:8).

Christ’s joy in us must be put to use. We do something with it. We serve God joyfully today, especially, but not exclusively, on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days (Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Ezra 6:22; Nehemiah 12:43; Isaiah 56:7; but compare also Deuteronomy 28:47). We pray to God with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5). In addition, we rejoice when we put our trust in God and when we love Him (Psalm 5:11), and when we are righteous (Psalm 33:1). Put differently, God and the things of God are to be our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).

With this kind of joy dwelling in us, we should even be joyful in times of trials, when we focus on our eternal future and not on our present temporary problems. We should leap for joy when men persecute us because we are righteous and serve God (Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:40-41). We should rejoice in our trials, knowing that we partake of Christ’s suffering, so that we can partake of His exceeding joy, when His glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13). We should rejoice in our trials, knowing that they help us to become more perfect (James 1:2-4). We should even endure joyfully the plundering of our goods, knowing that a better and enduring possession is awaiting us (Hebrews 10:32, 34).

Paul was exceedingly joyful in all his tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4), knowing that we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). He wanted to finish his race with joy (Acts 20:22-24), even though he knew that “chains and tribulations” were awaiting him. He knew that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126:5), and that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Christ’s joy in us must endure. We cannot receive God’s Word with joy, only to stumble when persecution comes (Matthew 13:20-21). We cannot be like those who only rejoiced in John the Baptist’s presence for a while (John 5:35). Rather, we must hold fast the rejoicing of the hope firm to the very end (Hebrews 3:5-6).

To fully appreciate Christ’s joy in us, and how it works, we must realize that it is not selfish, but outgoing. Even when we rejoice that we understand the truth and have fellowship with God, we ought to realize that this is for a greater purpose. God called us today to train us to become teachers to teach others His truth when the time comes. Our salvation is not selfish–God is saving us today for a purpose. We are to help in proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness, making it thereby possible for Christ to return and establish that very Kingdom here on earth to bring truth and peace and understanding and prosperity to this miserable and down-trodden hopeless humanity.

Jesus rejoiced and thanked the Father that He revealed His truth to “babes” (Luke 10:21). He was willing to become a man and to die for us, “for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was willing to set aside His divine attributes for a while, so that we could have eternal life with Him in the Family of God. This thought and this anticipation filled Him with joy, which was so strong that it motivated Him to suffer and die for us to make our salvation possible.

Jesus’ joy was in His true disciples as well. They greatly rejoiced when they heard about the conversion of Gentiles (Acts 15:3). Paul was filled with joy when he looked at the faith of those in Philippi, being confident that they would make it into the Kingdom (Philippians 1:3-6). He said that the brethren fulfilled his joy when they were likeminded (Philippians 2:1-2). He said that even though he had to die, the brethren should rejoice with him, knowing that they would see each other again at the “Day” of Christ’s Second Coming (Philippians 2:14-18). Paul rejoiced when he heard about the steadfastness of the faith of the brethren (Colossians 2:5). He said that the faithful enduring brethren were his joy and crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

John said too that he had no greater joy than to hear that the brethren–his spiritual “children”–walked in truth (3 John 4). We even read that there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7). God and the angels rejoice when a sinner turns to God and lives righteously. And that, in turn, should fill us with joy – we, too, should rejoice with God and the angels when a sinner repents and turns to the truth.

A true Christian is a happy person. He has so much for which he should be thankful. What a terrible tragedy it would be if he gave up and replaced the joy which he once had with feelings of doom and gloom. There is really no reason for a true Christian to despair or become depressed. When we have the joy of God in our lives, we should be glowing examples of joy and happiness.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, Germany Is Back–Why Now?: . Germany is called “Europe’s growth locomotive” and is experiencing a “little job miracle.” The New York Times speaks of “core Europe, led by Germany.” Der Spiegel recalls the “miracle” of Germany’s postwar reconstruction. At the same time, the U.S. economy looks bleak, and the U.S. government has spent so far in fiscal 2010 “$1.169 trillion more than it made.” “Analysts” are surprised about these events, but we need not be. God is working out His plan, as He has set it forth in His Word, the Bible.

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on the Web, titled, “Sodoms Loveparade, Teil 2” [“Sodom’s Love Parade, Part 2”].

A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Gideons Leben” [Gideon’s Life”].

Our new booklet, “To The Ephesians,” has entered the first review cycle.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God