Update 66


Our Approachable Father

Dave Harris will be speaking this Sabbath over the Internet. The title of his sermon is: “Our Approachable Father.”


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"First Love"

by Dave Harris

Today, the more popular use of “I love…” ends with an activity, a food, some song, movie or personality. It would be stunning to hear someone actually say, “I love God with all my heart and with all my soul.”

How about us – those of us who have responded to the calling of God? God is surely finding out the answer by how we live our lives – day in and day out.

It was revealed to Israel that in order for them to have God engaged in their lives, they must love Him unconditionally. In Deuteronomy 13, verse 3, Moses records that Israel would be tested concerning the depth of their commitment and love for God.

Paul sums up that time period with these words, “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” (1 Corinthians 10:5).

How about most of us?

Jesus Christ gives us the answer. In John 14:21, ” ‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.’ ” Also, continuing in verse 24, ” ‘He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’ “

It is really the “love OF God”, that is, God’s very love in us, that enables us to keep the commandments (1 John 5:3). In other words, although it is important that we have love towards God and His word, that alone is not enough. Rather, it is God-through His Holy Spirit – Who places His love within us (Romans 5:5). So, the key is to let God’s love in us operate and guide our lives.

In the Book of Revelation, in chapters two and three, Jesus speaks to the generations of believers who were to make up the church of God. In their times of testing, the core issue that remains is that of truly loving God.

Of the many trials to be overcome were things such as false doctrines and false teachers, immorality and personal sins, a lack of fervency and a self-satisfied sense of complacency.

To the first church, the church represented as Ephesus, Jesus has this grave and fateful admonition: ” ‘Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your FIRST LOVE.’ ” (Revelation 2:4). Continuing, the solution given is to “remember,” to “repent,” and to “do the first works” (verse 5).

But that cautionary advice from Jesus Christ is not just for that time. To all seven churches, He says the following: ” ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ “

If we are to love God with all our heart and all our soul – which is the state of first love – then, we, too, must awaken to “remember,” to “repent,” and to “do the first works!”

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From the web site for “Voice of America,” November 7, 2002, the following:  “The White House is interpreting the Republican gains in Tuesday’s congressional elections as an endorsement of President Bush’s agenda, including his strong stand on Iraq and national security.”
This same article goes on to point out that “…European capitals are viewing Tuesday’s Republican gains with a bit of caution.”  In a “United Press International” article entitled, “World braces for ‘triumphant’ Bush,” this telling comment: ” ‘ We are dealing with a power that has no limit in its dealing with foreign issues,’  said Mohammed Shaker, head of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Relations, whose wariness of a Bush administration unrestrained by any other branch of government was widely shared beyond U.S. shores.” (www.upi.com–11/6/02).
The undertow following this week’s elections in the U.S. certainly points to an empowerment and sanctioning from American voters for the President’s worldview.  It is widely accepted that his popularity and active participation in strategic races won the day.  Outside the United States there is a kind of fatalistic acceptance that this President and his nation will impose their will internationally.  Only the tiny enclave of Israel, itself presently going through a political internal upheaval, has happily embraced the newly found platform for an even more stringent “get tough” foreign policy that will steadily emerge as a result of Republican control in America’s government.
How cautionary and pessimistic the European reaction to Mr. Bush’s victory has been, the following excerpts will tell:
Germany’s Spiegel Online, November 6:
“Bush, the Almighty… For George Bush, the way is now clear — new laws, new judges, new wars… The clarity with which voters decided to switch to the right, has baffled political observers… There would have been many causes for criticism. But where were the Democrats? They were caught helplessly in the patriotism-trap…”
The U.K.’s The Guardian (quoted from Der Spiegel on November 6):
“The Americans have made this week a fatal decision. They, as well as the rest of the world, will have to live — and in some cases, die —  with the consequences.”
The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph (quoted from Der Spiegel, on November 6):
“We are convinced that he [President Bush] will carry out his plans to deliberate Iraq, regardless of what happens at The United Nations.”
The Netherlands’ De Volkskrant:
“[President Bush’s victory] symbolizes the giant cliff which now exists between both sides of the Atlantic.”
Spain’s El Periodico de Catalunya:
“The Americans support the imperial politics of President George W. Bush… This might persuade Bush… to enforce on the whole word his … politics, without regard to his allies. A dark scenario.”
Luxembourg’s Luxemburger Wort:
“America’s international partners, as well as her enemies, should be prepared for an even more self-conscious leader in the White House. Iraq might be the first one to experience this.”


On November 4, 2002, Der Spiegel Online published an article, titled, “The German Way.” The subheading read, “Why Schroeder was right in his fight with Washington, and why Europe should challenge the United States.” American David Binder, a long-time German correspondent of the New York Times, wrote the article.
In the article, it states, “What we [i.e., the U.S.A.] need is an equally strong rival that forces us to regain a lost balance…. The only possible rival for the United States — and not even an unfriendly one — would be the European Union… Chancellor Schroeder’s lonesome way — which is now being supported by France — is of critical importance and at least a forerunner of change… Perhaps we could again learn something from the Germans.”
In an interview at the end of October, published by Online News Hour, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, in explaining the basis for “the German Way,” and Germany’s consistent refusal to participate in any military action against Iraq, made the following quote:
“… the question is the day after. What would it mean for the whole region? This is a very terrible, dangerous region, and what will it mean for regional stability in the Middle East? This is the Middle East, and are the United States ready to stay there for long-term? Because to go in and the United States have the military capacity to get rid of Saddam, there is no question about that, but what will be there the day after? Will the United States then stay there and guarantee peace and stability in these very dangerous neighboring regions of Europe? Europe without the strong role of the United States, I think, is no option. We need the United States worldwide for peace and stability, but also in Europe because transatlantic relations, this is the real pillar of our peace and security on both sides of the Atlantic… “
Regarding the formation of Europe and Turkey’s application for membership status, Mr. Fischer had this to say [please note that in Turkey’s recent governmental election, the Islamic party has gained the majority]:
“To be a member of the E.U. means to be a member of the coming United States of Europe. We are talking about a marriage. And to marry someone [i.e. Turkey] because a good friend [i.e., the United States] says to you, ‘You should marry this person,’ I don’t know whether this is sufficient enough for a marriage. But with the E.U. enlargement, and be full member of the enlarged union, it means to marry in a political and economical and democratic sense.”
These are remarkable words. The Bible does compare political alliances with marriages. And it is also interesting to note Mr. Fischer’s conviction that the United States are absolutely necessary to guarantee peace in Europe. What will happen, however, when this stabilizing influence no longer exists in Europe?


Austria’s Joerg Haider got into the news again, when he revisited Saddam Hussein last week. As News-Networld, November 7, 2002, reported, most Austrians disapprove of his visit. Almost 90 % believe that Haider’s visits with Saddam damage Austria’s reputation. On the other hand, 16 percent felt that Haider’s visit will help him for the next general election to the national parliament which is to be held on November 24. Many party members are now begging Haider to return as their party leader, according to Der Standard of November 6.

Haider applauded himself upon his return. He explained that his visit dealt foremost with economical projects. Austria’s exports to Iraq have increased from 14.5 million Euros in the first six months of 2001 to 65.6 million Euros in the first six months of 2002.
Haider also proclaimed that he was instrumental to reach an “extremely important step” to prevent war against Iraq, by convincing Saddam to consider a new U.N. resolution. He also strongly attacked the politics of the United States, voicing his opinion that President Bush only wants a war with Iraq to get the focus away from his problems. Haider also stated that Israel will use the war as an excuse to expel all Palestinians.
The Bush administration compared Haider with Saddam. They are “birds of a feather,” Richard Boucher said in commenting on Haider’s new visit with Saddam. 

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What are the Biblical principles enjoining us not to serve on a jury?

There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in jury duty:

A true Christian is a stranger, alien and exile (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13) while here on earth; an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); and a representative of God’s Kingdom. As such, and in being a light to the world by proper conduct (Matthew 5:14-16), a true Christian does not take part in this world’s governmental or political affairs, as presently, it is not God who rules this earth, but Satan the devil (Revelation 2:13; Luke 4:5-6). Christians are challenged to come out of the governmental and political systems of this world. Christ, knowing that God’s Kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), refused to judge a civil matter when He was asked to do so (Luke 12:14). Paul, likewise, condemned judging those “who are outside” the church (1 Corinthians 5:12).

Further, man’s judgments are concerned with the letter of the law. In contrast, God looks on one’s heart, and is concerned with the spirit and intent of the law. Man’s laws usually do not take into account repentance, forgiveness of sins, and other spiritual factors, as God does (Acts 2:38). Jesus, in looking at the heart of the accused, refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus taught that true Christians must be willing to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).

Another principle against participation in jury duty is, that true Christians are to learn to judge according to the law of God as seasoned by judgment, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23). They are also to render “righteous” judgment (John 7:24). Selectively presented evidence, where facts may be suppressed for technical, legal reasons as permitted in the courts, may not necessarily lead to Godly justice, mercy and truth, and to the rendering of a righteous judgment.

In following the biblical injunctions, one could not convict a person, in any event, unless the accusation is supported by the testimony of at least two witnesses (John 8:16; Deuteronomy 17:6-7). Since the witnesses would have to “cast the first stones,” circumstantial evidence would not be sufficient, under God’s law, for the requirement of two witnesses.

Since we may be required, as a juror, to apply man’s laws in conflict with the law of God, we could not take the oath as a juror, as we would, in principle, agree to obeying man rather than God (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19).

Therefore, jury duty will invariably create a conflict of conscience in a Christian between the requirements of God and the requirements of jury service. A Christian who violates his conscience would be guilty of committing sin (Romans 14:23; 1 John 3:4).

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