May 18, 2018
Fishing for True Answers; True Proof!
On May 19, 2018, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “Fishing for True Answers,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “True Proof!”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
PENTECOST will be observed and services will be broadcast live on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Morning services will begin at 9:00 am Pacific Time, and afternoon services will begin at 3:00 pm Pacific Time. Morning: Sermonette will be presented by Eric Rank, titled, “Shape and Definition,” and the sermon will be presented by Dave Harris, titled, “This Gospel”; Afternoon: Offertory will be presented by Michael Link, titled, “God Will Provide,” and the sermon will be presented by Norbert Link, titled, “How We Grow in God’s Knowledge.”
by Eric Rank
I love the springtime. The air is cool, but the sun offers warmth that invigorates. The scent of flowering trees fills the air for about one week, and then gives way to the growth of other beautiful flowers planted on the ground. It’s a splendid time of year, offering unique moments to appreciate when one slows down long enough to observe and enjoy God’s created beauty.
There is something about the springtime that I don’t love so much, however. Weeds. Those unsightly plants love the springtime even more than I do, and they prove it by competing mightily against the pretty ones. In fact, the dandelions barely wait until the snow has melted before tagging the yard with yellow dots in random patterns. Such rude behavior makes it nearly impossible to get ahead of them in order to prevent their growth.
Through the years of being a homeowner, I’ve learned that there is only one thing that is effective in fighting the annual battle against weeds. As much as I’ve tried hoping and wishing that the weeds in the yard would go away or just die, I have proven to myself time and again that these methods simply have no effect. It turns out that hard work is the only thing that can tame the wild growth of weeds. Whether the work is spent pulling, researching chemicals and carefully applying a lethal dose, or even paying someone else to take care of the problem, hard work is necessary to keep a yard under control. There’s simply no way around it.
It should be no surprise that most things that are truly valuable take work in order to achieve. The example of a well-groomed yard is trivial in comparison with that which really matters, however. The Bible is clear that the promise of everlasting life for a Christian takes diligent work in learning to become obedient and overcome sin. We are reminded by Jesus Christ that the easy paths and the wide gates are the ones that lead to destruction, but the narrow gate that is difficult to find is the one that leads to everlasting life (compare Matthew 7:13-14). Even though eternal life is a gift that is freely given to us through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our efforts still need to be applied in proving to God that we are willing to learn obedience and righteous behavior. It takes work to overcome sin. It takes work to build up our relationship with God. If we choose to neglect our calling, we risk our own lives in potentially falling away.
If we have been called out of the world by 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” (2 Timothy 1:9), we have a very special gift to care for. If we want to please God and prove to Him how valuable our calling is to us, there is one way to succeed. Only through hard work will we be able to turn away from sin and learn righteousness. The Bible also reminds us that there is a benefit to our efforts as well – “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (compare Hebrews 11:6). We are fortunate to have the gift of eternal life to be made available to us, but even beyond that, our tireless work in living by the Truth will be rewarded with great responsibility and roles of leadership in the Kingdom of God (compare Luke 19:15-19).
by Norbert Link
In this special issue, we report on the events in and surrounding the state of Israel, pertaining to the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and the violence in Gaza, as well as the worldwide reactions to these events. In this context, please view our new StandingWatch program, “Netanyahu’s Announcement of a Third Temple?”
We also focus on Europe’s response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal and the perceived need for Europe to unify as soon as possible.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
America’s Opening of Its Embassy in Jerusalem
JTA wrote on May 14:
“The United States dedicated its newly established embassy in Jerusalem in a high-profile ceremony attended by prominent Trump administration officials… The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming votes, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called for relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A presidential waiver signed every six months until now has allowed successive administrations to suspend moving the embassy on the grounds that this was ‘necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.’
“Several of the speakers… reminded the audience that exactly 70 years ago, nearly to the moment of the ceremony, the United States under President Harry Truman became the first country to recognize the new state of Israel.”
One could say that the timing for the ceremony was carefully staged, but it was surely no coincidence that an American President would relocate the embassy to Jerusalem 70 years after the recognition of Israel as a state and after all previous presidents had refused for more than 20 years to move the embassy.
The Long History of Jewish Dreams of Jerusalem as Capital
The New York Post wrote on May 14:
“In the Second century AD… Roman emperor Hadrian had planted the seeds for the rebellion with his ambitions to remake Jerusalem, including the planned construction of a Temple to Jupiter on the site of the old Jewish Temple. The leader of the Jewish rebellion, Bar Kokhba, was fired by a vision of a united Israel with Jerusalem as its capital…
“King David conquered the city in 1,000 BC and made it the capital of the kingdom of Israel. His son Solomon built the First Temple. ‘He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor has never seen a desirable city in his life,’ declares the Babylonian Talmud. ‘He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life.’
“But Jerusalem would repeatedly be captured and the Temple destroyed (first by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and then by the Roman Emperor Titus)…
“Psalm 137 recounting the Babylonian captivity avers, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.’ The Jewish people never forgot. In one of the miracles of our age, after long centuries of exile punctuated by genocide at the hands of the Nazis, they re-established Israel in 1948, and then gained control of all of Jerusalem in 1967 (prior to that, when Jordan held East Jerusalem, Jews couldn’t visit the Western Wall).
“The notion that the City of David isn’t the capital of Israel was an impolite fiction, honored by the United States and the West for fear of provoking Arabs hostile to the very idea of the Jewish state. Its prime minister, parliament and highest court are based there, and it’s unimaginable that Israel would ever agree to any peace deal that didn’t recognize it as the capital…”
But there might soon be more to come. Note the next article.
Netanyahu’s Announcement of a Third Temple?
Set forth below are excerpts from Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech during the opening of the US embassy, as quoted by the Times of Israel, dated May 14:
“In Jerusalem, King David established our capital three thousand years ago. In Jerusalem, King Solomon built our Temple, which stood for many centuries. In Jerusalem, Jewish exiles from Babylon rebuilt the Temple, which stood for many more centuries. In Jerusalem, the Maccabees rededicated that Temple and restored Jewish sovereignty in this land.
“And it was here in Jerusalem some two thousand years later that the soldiers of Israel spoke three immortal words… ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands,’ words that lifted the spirit of the entire nation. We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay…
“The prophet, Zechariah, declared over 2,500 years ago, ‘So said the Lord, “I will return to Zion and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth.”’
“May the opening of this embassy in this city spread the truth far and wide, and may the truth advance a lasting peace between Israel and all our neighbors. God bless the United States of America and God bless Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of Israel.”
Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump reiterated their “position” that the status quo was not to be changed. But repeated references in Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to the Temple and the Temple Mount make one wonder what is really going on behind the scene. We might be closer to the biblically prophesied building of the Third Temple prior to the Coming of the Messiah than many may realize.
Violence in the Gaza Strip and Political Bickering
Newsmax reported on May 15:
“Thousands of Gaza residents turned out on Tuesday for the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops a day earlier… Monday’s violence on the border, which took place as the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, was the bloodiest for Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza conflict. The death toll rose to 60 overnight after an eight-month-old baby died from tear gas that her family said she inhaled at a protest camp on Monday. [But see the article below.] More than 2,200 Palestinians were also injured by gunfire or tear gas…
“May 15 is traditionally the day Palestinians mark the ‘Nakba’, or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes in violence culminating in war between the newly created Jewish state and its Arab neighbors in 1948… More than 2 million people are crammed into the narrow Gaza Strip, more than two thirds of them refugees. Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions on the enclave, deepening economic hardship and raising humanitarian concerns…”
The worldwide response to the violence was predictable. Most countries blamed Israel for responding “excessively” to the “demonstrations,” which were instigated by the terror organization Hamas. Note the following articles.
Israel Faces Backlash
The Associated Press wrote on May 15:
“Israel faced a growing backlash Tuesday and new charges of using excessive force…
“Israel says it has the right to defend its border against a possible mass breach and accuses Gaza’s Hamas rulers of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests. A military spokesman said Tuesday that 14 of those killed a day earlier were involved in attacks…Gaza Health Ministry, which provided the toll from Monday’s violence, said a 9-month-old girl died from tear gas exposure, but medical officials later cast doubt on that claim, saying the infant had a pre-existing medical condition. It remained unclear Tuesday where and how the child died…
“In Brussels, Prime Minister Charles Michel [of Belgium] called the Israeli actions ‘unacceptable violence’ and said there was a ‘clear lack of proportionality’… German spokesman Steffen Seibert said the violence ‘concerns us greatly,’ but also accused Hamas of cynically escalating the unrest. Ireland’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to express ‘shock and dismay.’ Turkey asked Israel’s ambassador to leave temporarily and the country lowered flags to half-staff to mark three days of mourning… On Monday, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel until further notice…
“U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said no member ‘would act with more restraint than Israel has’ in its confrontation with Palestinians at the Gaza border…”
Breitbart added on May 15:
“Turkey has called on all Islamic countries to review their ties with ‘terror state’ Israel ahead of an extraordinary summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body to protest Israel’s actions in defending itself against deadly Gaza riots. ‘Islamic countries should without fail review their relations with Israel,’ Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his ruling party in parliament Tuesday…”
Turkey’s reaction was to be expected. The Bible warns modern Turkey (biblical Edom) that it will suffer greatly for its hatred towards Israel and the USA. In addition, the Bible also shows that most countries will turn against the USA and Israel.
“Playing Western Rulers Like a Fiddle”
The Week wrote on May 16:
“Hamas has played Western liberals like a fiddle. In many ways, it is clear that militarily at least, Israel ‘won’ its confrontation at the Gaza border, killing scores of Palestinians and injuring many hundreds more without suffering a single casualty of note. But it is actually the other way around. It is Hamas that won a big victory against Israel…
“Israel is a unique state in that it has to fight every day not just for its security but also its legitimacy… By now, many thousands (if not millions) of people have seen photos and video seeming to show defenseless Palestinian protesters exterminated by heartless, faceless Israelis. Much of the American media has taken an unseemly delight in villianizing Israel and the Trump administration while glorifying the Palestinians…
“Gaza is governed by Hamas, a terrorist group. In the days leading up to the events, Hamas leaders had called on the populace not to peacefully march, but to attack. Hiding among civilians to launch attacks is a time-honored tactic by Hamas, and in doing so put Israel in a no-win situation…
“From Hamas’ perspective, what happened was an extraordinarily successful insurgency operation. Not because it killed any Israeli soldiers, but because it killed Palestinian civilians, whose lives have always been so cheap to their leaders. Not because it achieved any tactical objectives, but because it didn’t. Hamas’ objective was not to breach any point at the border crossing, but to win the hearts and minds of journalists and social media users everywhere. It worked like a charm.”
Peace Talks Dead?
The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 14:
“The White House has said it expects to push forward with a still-secret plan to secure what Mr. Trump has called ‘the ultimate deal’ for Middle East peace. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed under the Obama administration in 2014. U.S. officials have said their plan is mostly finished and the White House is seeking the right time to present it.
“But Palestinians have already said the decision to open a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem means they no longer recognize the U.S. as the main broker of peace talks. Palestinian officials are refusing to meet with representatives of the Trump administration and so it’s not clear whether a peace plan, if presented, will move the end of hostilities closer.
“Mr. Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv has faced fierce criticism from European and Arab officials who have said it is likely [to] hamper any future peace negotiations.”
The contemplated “peace deal” for the Middle East never had a chance to succeed.
We are now presenting several articles to show how Europe is viewing and reacting to President Trump’s actions. We hasten to add that the quotes are not to be misconstrued as constituting our approval or disapproval of those articles. Rather, as we clarify regularly in our “Acknowledgment and Disclaimer” statement at the end of these Current Events sections, “they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy.” In this case, they show the European fear and even hatred towards President Trump and America; the resulting (biblically prophesied) growing alienation between the USA and Europe (for whatever reason), and the European desire to unify powerfully in order to establish itself as a counterforce to the USA.
“In Light of Trump, Europe Needs to Wake Up!”
Deutsche Welle’s Editor-in-Chief commented on May 15, 2018:
“The flames and fighting in the Gaza Strip after the opening of the US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem are evidence of the dangerous and destructive power of President Donald Trump… The embassy compound extends halfway into East Jerusalem – an area that Palestinians would claim as their capital in the event of a two-state solution. It’s a diplomatic slap in the face to many Palestinians… a deliberate provocation on Washington’s part…
“What could possibly drive this man to destroy the hard-won Iran nuclear deal with a single signature, without even bothering to consult his European counterparts and determine a way forward? In doing so, Trump has shown a willingness to risk further escalation in the Middle East, as well as throw 70 years of peaceful trans-Atlantic relations with Europe overboard.
“…recent events have highlighted the disastrous power this man possesses… When he acts, he doesn’t think about consequences… He doesn’t care how his actions and his verbal attacks affect any country other than the US…
“For Europe and for Germany, this should be a huge wake-up call. Seven decades after the end of World War II, it’s time for Europe to grow up. And that means shouldering responsibility for foreign policy and security issues. Germany needs to finally get serious and start investing in its armed forces again… the European Union needs to… emerge as a strong body…
“One cannot and should not depend on a country that is being governed by a man like Donald Trump…”
Trump—the Great Unifier of Europe?
Der Editorial staff of Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 11:
“Lately, the American president has emerged as a great unifier of Europe. Ever since Trump’s Tuesday announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran… the Europeans have been united in shock, in anger at Trump’s irresponsible move and in their refusal to accept it. But they are also united in their helplessness when it comes to dealing with this new America…
“An attack on the Iran deal is an attack on the pride of European foreign policy… More than anything, though, Trump has humiliated Europe to a greater degree than any U.S. president before him… To complete Europe’s humiliation, Trump’s new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, sent out a tweet this week demanding that German companies immediately begin winding down their operations in Iran. It sounded more like the words of a colonial power issuing orders than those of a diplomat in an allied country.
“It isn’t the first time that America’s traditional trans-Atlantic allies have received such shabby treatment from Trump. The U.S. president has repeatedly accused his NATO partners of being freeloaders, he withdrew from the Paris climate agreement despite massive protest from Europe and he has indicated his willingness to start a trade war with the EU…
“Ultimately, the question becomes whether Europe can see this crisis as a wake-up call, as the start of a new common foreign policy, and whether they will continue to endure Trump’s humiliations or position itself as a diplomatic counterforce. Wolfgang Ischinger, the German diplomat, says the crisis of confidence with the U.S. could be turned into a positive. ‘It is another dramatic wake-up call for the European Union to finally get a grip on itself. For the European project, I cannot imagine a better motivation than this shock from Trump’…”
Trump Drove the Last Nail into the Coffin of the Atlantic Alliance
Foreign Policy wrote on May 11:
“The Atlantic alliance, built to contain the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, began to die when the Cold War ended. What kept it alive over the last three decades has been less strategic necessity than a convergence of values — the values of the liberal postwar order. Now, the senior partner of the alliance, the United States, has lost interest in those values. The alliance was already a corpse, but Donald Trump drove the last nail into its coffin when he decided this week to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran.
“What now? The United States will lurch from crisis to crisis, but Europe faces more existential questions: It has been expelled from the garden — albeit a very thorny one — maintained by U.S. military and diplomatic power and now must build a new home of its own…
“The Iran decision has resonated among European leaders as none of Trump’s previous follies has… As a simple matter of geographical proximity, Europe is threatened by conflict in the Middle East as the United States is not… Europe simply cannot afford to follow the American lead if the United States is prepared to sow further chaos in the region…
“Europe’s leaders needed the shock. Hours after Trump’s announcement, Macron, Merkel, and British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a joint statement reminding the world that the deal had been ‘unanimously endorsed by the U.N. Security Council’ and thus remained ‘the binding international legal framework’ on Iran’s nuclear program. European Council President Donald Tusk announced that Trump’s Iran and trade policies ‘will meet a united European approach.’
“The fur will fly if the United States goes ahead with secondary sanctions targeting European companies that continue to do business with Iran…
“All talk of a unified European army has long vanished, but Macron has invited the defense ministers of 10 European nations to Paris next month to discuss his plan to create a battle-ready force of up to 100,000 troops…”
Going Their Separate Ways
Zero Hedge wrote on May 16:
“The US withdrawal from the Iran deal has not buried it. That agreement is still very much alive. Even the US’s closest allies have refused to follow suit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed President Trump for his decision to pull out. The unofficial leader of Europe believes it ‘damages trust’ in the global order… In defiance of the US, Germany became the first EU country to begin the construction of its portion of the Nord Stream 2 gas project on May 3. It did so even before Sweden and Finland had agreed to permit the pipeline to pass through their territorial waters. The US is adamant in its opposition to Nord Stream 2. Washington does not shy away from twisting the arms of any allies who dare to see Russia’s stable and cheap energy supplies as an alternative to America’s more expensive liquefied gas that must be transported by sea.
“The US-European relationship has been clouded by Washington’s plans to introduce tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU. The German chancellor has pointed out on a number of occasions that the US and EU have been clashing more frequently, which indicates that a wider schism is opening up within the Western alliance…
“Meanwhile, the EU is prepared to introduce countermeasures in response to the US-imposed punitive restrictions against European companies doing business with Iran. The idea has been floated of adopting an EU-wide blocking statute to nullify any US sanctions. A trade war is just around the corner…
“The German chancellor believes that US global influence is on the wane and the time is ripe for Europe to stop relying on America’s military protection… EU High Representative Mogherini has announced her intention to submit for consideration by mid-June the new European Peace Facility that will streamline the EU’s funding of defence and military operations. Seventeen joint European defense-program projects are being pursued within the framework of PESCO.
“The US openly humiliated Europe… Sooner or later anyone’s patience wears thin.Today Europe is being pushed toward countering the ‘America First’ message with a ‘Europe First’ policy… It looks like the European locomotive is shifting tracks to head off in that new direction. Despite all the nice words about common values and so on, these two entities are gradually diverging to go their separate ways.”
EU’s Donald Tusk Slams Donald Trump; EU Considers Applying Law PROHIBITING their Firms to Comply with US Sanctions
Deutsche Welle wrote on May 16:
“European Union President Donald Tusk slammed US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as EU leaders gathered for a summit in Sofia to find a common path forward after Washington withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. ‘Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think “with friends like that, who needs enemies?” But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful [to] President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.’…
“European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was willing to a so-called blocking statute that would make it illegal for European companies to comply with US sanctions imposed on Iran and not recognize US court decisions that enforce American sanctions. The blocking statute was developed in 1996 to counter US sanctions on Cuba, but has not been tested yet. The statute would enforce legal penalties on EU companies complying with US sanctions on Iran, while providing compensation for any costs and losses suffered as a result… ‘We did discuss the possibility of applying our blocking statute. We are ready to do so, if needed.’”
It has long been prophesied that continental Europe will become a most powerful might, and that ten nations or groups of nations will emerge from the Eurozone countries. They will be a strong and unified economic, political and military entity, being led by a charismatic leader of German or Austrian descent, referred to in the Bible with different designations, such as the “beast,” the “king of the North”, the “king of Assyria” or “King Jareb.” Very soon now, the developments will lead to the manifestation of this man on the world scene.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
Are We Required to Honor Our Parents Even if They Are Abusive and Ungodly?
Many in this world have grown up in dysfunctional families and have been subjected to all forms of abuse. Does God expect someone under these circumstances to show honor to a parent? It’s easy to show respect and honor to a parent who raised you in a loving home. But did God envision the corruption that has seeped into modern-day families when He commanded mankind to “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12)? The simple answer is YES. God’s Laws are eternal (see Psalm 119:160) and are not subject to change depending on human condition.
These commands weren’t established long ago only to be forgotten or ignored in our modern times. God’s laws resonate throughout the New Testament with the same importance given in the earlier books of the Bible. Paul stated, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Christ even warned us of not honoring our parents, “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death’” (Matthew 15:4).
Honoring our parents influences our character much further than the respect we are to show to our parents, and showing honor is a learned trait. Godly traits begin with the physical and lead to a spiritual understanding, “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:46). Our mother and father gave us life but God, our eternal Father, gives us eternal life.
Learning to express respect for our parents also leads to physical blessings. When Moses reviewed the Ten Commandments, he described the benefits of this command even further: “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16). By observing this principle, we can expect to live longer, better and in peace.
That being said, how are we to grapple with ongoing pain from what might have been years of abuse? There is no panacea or a quick snap-of-the-fingers solution to make years of parental neglect or mistreatment go away, but God does give us the ability to change. This might sound overly sanguine, but to change our minds through God’s Spirit can be miraculous. Christ stated the first step in this process, “‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). Everything begins by turning to God. Once we are willing to submit to God, He will, as David stated, be “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows…” (Psalm 68:5).
Loving those who don’t treat us with kindness and respect is another trait we are familiar with as Christians (see Luke 6:35-36). Showing love and honor can be difficult towards those that don’t appreciate it, but as Christians we are to be merciful to others just as God is merciful to us. The apostle Paul also outlines how we should address the world around us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Forgiveness is fundamental to all Christians. Christ states, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). Setting a Godly example might be our only means of eliciting change in others. Our calling didn’t come to us until God opened our minds and allowed it. That same change can happen, even to the most neglectful or even abusive parents, if God is involved for “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
Our need to develop a forgiving attitude can only occur with God’s help. The wickedness perpetrated on an entire childhood is difficult to overcome, but we should not allow our hearts to become hard-hearted. Deliberately refusing to forgive will cause our own spiritual downfall.
A fundamental trait of all Christians is a willingness to change, to turn away from evil: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). For some, this might mean physically separating from the ungodliness of their parents. As Christians we understand that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Abusive parents have succumbed to this spiritual influence, and without Godly intervention, cannot prevail against it. But even then, we must have a willing heart to forgive them for their abuse, once they recognize what they have done or are doing, and we should still show honor to them and have a loving contact with them, even if this may have to mean, for the time being, having a long-distance relationship, via phone calls or sending gifts, cards, letters or messages in other ways.
The willingness to forgive must not place us back into an abusive state. Boundaries are acceptable and even necessary in the face of ungodliness. We must not go back into a destructive environment once we have risen out of it. If we do, we are surrounding ourselves with sin. Christ warns, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). We are even warned to remove ourselves from behavior that leads us away from God, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
The danger of parental mistreatment is that we can become comfortable with it. The abuse becomes our “norm” and it can be difficult to remove ourselves from the underlying destructiveness. But that is expressly what Christ came to free us from once we have submitted to Him. “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:35-38).
Those who submit to God have always and will always face persecutions. Deliverance from the evils perpetuated against us can only be achieved by true submission to God. Christ allowed Himself to be murdered and it was His dependence on the Father that “both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). Likewise, Stephen, as he was being murdered called upon God for deliverance and then, before dying “knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60). This kind of mindset is only possible when we take on the mind of God through His Holy Spirit.
We must not be defined by our past, no matter how difficult it might have been. We must define ourselves by what God is doing in our lives today. If we have accepted God’s Spirit, we must focus first on changing our own character. Paul states, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14). It is crucial that we “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). No matter what we were, God has a plan for who we will become: a member of His holy righteous Family.
Lead Writer: Robb Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Netanyahu’s Announcement of a Third Temple?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
While Israel celebrated the 70th anniversary of its existence as a state and the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, violence broke out in the Gaza strip, and the reaction of many world powers, including Turkey and Europe, was predictable. However, most media outlets ignored or chose not to quote remarkable statements by Benjamin Netanyahu during the celebration. Could it be that all these events point at important developments which have been prophesied in your Bible?
“Sind Sie ein Sklave sexueller Sünden?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Are You a Slave to Sexual Sins?”
“Wie Man in Gottes Erkenntnis Wächst!” is the title of the German sermon for Pentecost, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “”How We Grow in God’s Knowledge.”
“Bad Mistakes,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Why do people give up on life? On their goals? And most importantly, on their Christian life? The answer comes down to mind set. The things that we choose to think about, to focus on is what will be our outcome. God has already chosen us, He wants to give us amazing things, but do we allow Him to? Or are we too wrapped up in other things? What will you choose to think about?
“Do You Have to Be and Stay Evil? (Part 3),” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Are you a bad person? Are you doing evil things? What is evil in the eyes of God? Can you obtain forgiveness? Can you change? Or are you a helpless victim of external circumstances? Will evil triumph in your life even though you want to do what is good and right? On the other hand, will you obtain God’s grace when you continue to live an evil life? Three examples of Jewish rulers in Second Chronicles—Manasseh, Amon and Josiah—give you important answers which may be determinative for your life and your death.
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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