The Apple Of God's Eye

October 3, 2009

The World's Deadliest Weapon!

1What is the world’s most devastating weapon? Most people would probably say the H-bomb. Some might say the cobalt bomb. Others may point to a rumored laser bomb, a doomsday device, or even chemical and biological weapons. But none of these is right!

There is another weapon that every man carries around with him daily. It is with him when he gets up in the morning and shaves. It is with him when he goes to sleep at night. This weapon is not just some theoretical device which has never been used. In the history of mankind, it has been responsible — directly or indirectly — for the deaths of multiple millions!
But men have no monopoly on this weapon. Women also use it quite consistently — often to devastating effect.

The Worst Weapon in the World

What is this horrible weapon? It is the human tongue! Men have misused the tongue. They have turned it into a “world of iniquity.” Notice what God’s Word says:

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell [gehenna — or the lake of fire]. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3 :5-10).

The tongue, as these verses show, does not have to be a deadly weapon. When used correctly, it can be a wonderful tool for great good! But unfortunately, too few people have learned how to properly control it! Most often the tongue is used as an unguided missile which explodes upon the object of its aim with deadly effect.

How This Weapon Is Used

There are many wrong uses of the tongue. But perhaps the most dangerous and harmful of all is gossip. Gossip can do more damage and create more division than nearly any other activity.

In a study by Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D., entitled, “What Gossiping Reveals About You,” some interesting answers are brought to light. Doctor Rubin found that women have no priority on gossip! Men gossip just as much. “In fact, nearly everyone gossips to some extent, but some people carry it too far. To them, gossip becomes a chronic way of life that cannot be altered without psychiatric help.”

Some men and women are “chronic mouthmovers.” They must either eat or talk. And many times they gossip just to keep their mouths moving — spouting a steady stream of words.

Boredom and apathy also breed gossip. Idle talk becomes a filler to compensate for empty hours. Lonely people whose lives have become dull and devoid of interests use gossip as a form of reaching out or relating.

God’s Word shows idleness to be indeed one of the major causes leading to gossip. Speaking of younger widows, Paul says, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they aught not” (I Tim. 5:13).

Malicious Gossip

“Repressed anger is perhaps the most common cause of malicious gossip,” says Dr. Rubin. He goes on to explain that many people cannot admit their anger toward someone else. So they disguise it. They release their venom in the form of deadly gossip — hatred and murder (I John 3:15) in the form of words! They seek to destroy through the spoken word!

God’s Word bears this out: “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool” (Prov. 10:18). Also God says, “He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him” (Prov. 26:24). And again, in verse 28 of the same chapter, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”

Jealousy and envy are also common motives for gossip. Says Dr. Rubin, “The object of gossip is to put down that person so as to remove the craving for what that person owns.” When we put down another person, we think we are raising ourselves. This is sheer vanity!

Have you ever envied another person? Have you been jealous of the things someone else possessed or the prestige of his position? We would all have to admit that at some time we have. When we did, we found ourselves tempted to speak evil of others. We wanted to impute motives and make insinuating remarks. We tried to excuse our stations in life in comparison with theirs by implying evil — gossiping. Subconsciously we wanted to “put them down” verbally — thus exalting our own self-image.

Tales CAN Hurt!

The Bible plainly tells us that words can — and often do — cause damage. Notice: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20). In verse 22 God says further, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

Yes, words can hurt — they can hurt one’s reputation; they can hurt a person’s health; they can hurt friends; and they can hurt the one who misuses them himself! God certainly minces no words here. He tells us plainly how destructive the use of the tongue can be. Its use in spitting out thoughtless or mischievous words may cause irreparable damage to someone’s entire life!

The misuse of the tongue can cause serious offense. Notice what Solomon wrote: “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…” (Prov. 18:19). How often have you “let fly” with your mouth and offended somebody else?

An Incredible Paradox

How can men praise God — stand in Church and sing praises to God, and lead in prayers over their family table and in Church — and at the same time speak evil from motives of repressed anger or envy of their brothers in the Church? Blessing and cursing comes from the same mouth. God says these things ought not to be! (James 3:10.)

“He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge” (James 4:11).

How many are using their tongues for a wrong purpose while claiming to belong to the body of Christ to help proclaim God’s Word to the world? Again, God commands, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings… grow …” (I Peter 2:1-2).

This is the way to preserve your life. God explains, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (I Peter 3:10).

We must not tolerate gossip and the tearing down of others through malicious, evil words. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).

What Not to Say

Some will say that they do not gossip — they merely tell “the truth.” Thus, they feel that in telling “the truth” they are justified! But they fail to realize that the Bible defines a gossiper as one who not only speaks lies, but also repeats evil — even if it is “the truth” — when and where it is none of his business, or the business of the listener! You don’t always have to tell something just because you know it! Many things are far better left unsaid, even though they are true.

There are many things which are better forgotten. Says the Apostle Paul: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph. 5:12).

Whenever you repeat any information about an evil deed to someone who should not be involved and has no business knowing, then you are gossiping. When you talk about anyone’s faults to someone who can do nothing about them, you are gossiping. Even when you repeat the truth — whether that truth is about an evil deed or sin — to a person who is merely a bystander, you are gossiping.

Gossip, naturally, also takes the form of misinformation. To imply motives, or to insinuate untruths, is gossip and lying. This kind of gossip is absolutely forbidden in the Bible because of its devastating effects. “He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates friends” (Prov. 17:9).

How to Conquer Gossip

What can you do about gossip? How can you overcome this abominable habit in yourself? There is something you can do personally. You can begin an active campaign against gossip by stopping it at its source!

Here’s how. First, learn to recognize gossip in your own conversation. There will be many limes when you will be so absorbed in conversation that you will not realize you are actually gossiping. However, after the talk is over, you can look back and see where you gossiped. Once you apply your mind to analyzing your own words, you can catch yourself while talking. Then, as you are conscious of your words — which we certainly should be, since we are going to be judged by them — you will finally begin to think BEFORE you speak! (Prov. 15:28.)

Second, REPENT of gossip. Don’t take it lightly. You will never overcome gossip until you are deeply convinced of its evil. Most people, after they’ve gossiped, just shrug their shoulders saying, “Well, I guess I really should not have said those things, but. …”

Go to God on your knees. Realize the seriousness of gossiping. Ask God to forgive you for your attitude of heart which may have been the spirit of murder, or at least the spirit of carelessness and unconcern. Realize that Christ had to die to pay the penalty of THAT sin, too!

Third, don’t REPEAT gossip. If you’ve been gossiping — CHANGE! Put an END to gossip in your life!
You know how empty you feel after an unprofitable conversation centered around gossip. So decide not to do it again! Determine in your mind not to tear down yourself and others by your words. Instead, be positive — use words profitably to uplift and build up others as well as yourself.

Once you recognize gossip and repent of it, and henceforth stop repeating the pattern of conversations that lead to it, you will not be a gossip. But remember. Don’t lend your ear to gossip, for this encourages others to gossip. And it is just as wrong.

A gossiper needs an ear. He must have someone to listen to his talebearing. But if he finds no one to listen, then he can’t gossip. So simply don’t listen to gossip! God’s Word condemns the listener just as much as the gossiper. Yet many of us actually encourage others to gossip. We egg the gossiper on, delighting in the tidbits of poison he pours forth. We want to mind other people’s business. We want to get the juicy evils that come from gossip.

Have you ever noticed that people tend not to be as excited to hear good news as to hear bad news? Have you ever noticed how slowly good news spreads and how quickly bad news gets around? Why?

Because of human nature! By nature we want to listen to gossip and spread it. But you can stop it! Just DON’T listen! And don’t gossip yourself.

Judged by Our Words

There is a Judgment coming. And God’s Word plainly tells us that we will be judged by how we use our tongues. God says, “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Prov. 18:6-7).

Jesus put it right on the line when He said: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:34-37).

Can anything be plainer? Jesus tells us we will have to give account for our words. We will be judged by what we have said! Words are not empty. Words are much more powerful than we might imagine. We all feel — humanly, that is — that after words are spoken, they’re forgotten. But words are not forgotten. And although the sounds of words fade and the vibrations stop — those words can linger on and face you in the future.

What are the fruits of your words? Have your words separated friends? Have they hurt the reputation of another? Have your words caused strife? If so, you will have to give account.

Let’s practice — the instruction of Psalm 15:1.: “Lord who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.”

Determine now that you will not listen to gossip and not spread it. Determine in your own heart and mind to spread news of good events!

Source: The Good News, January-April 1971

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September 1, 2009

The Power Of Parental Example

“He’s the spitting image of his father.”  — “He’s a chip off the old block.”   — “Like mother, like daughter.”

Expressions like these reflect that we tend to follow the example set by our parents.  How good or how bad an example do you set as a parent?

Children are richly blessed in life if they have good examples to follow. This leaves you as a parent with a major question to answer: By following your parental example, where will your children end up?

To help answer that question, let’s look at some ways that your children learn from your example. Here are several traits you may occasionally exemplify, and what those examples will produce in your children.

Hostility

A child living with hostility will learn to fight. Have you ever been out somewhere and observed children who punch, scratch, pinch, push, bully, swear at and tattle on other children?

If this is their behavior in public, then what must the example they see at home be like?  Are your children guilty of such conduct? If so, from whom do they learn it?

Parents who stand on the sidelines of sporting events yelling and urging their children to win at all costs — and who get upset and angry when their children lose — are teaching a spirit of competitiveness. They are also teaching that winning is all that matters.

Do you know parents who will only play sports if they can win all of the time and who are extremely irritated at losing? They will not play with people they cannot beat. Ever wonder what attitude their children will adopt toward fair play and being able to lose gracefully?

Why not teach children by example, that winning, though important, is not the supreme goal? Playing the game in sportsmanlike fashion and showing concern for the other players is most important.

Children exposed to bad sporting examples quickly absorb the message that to solve a problem you argue and fight. What a pity they are not rather learning that peace comes from practicing the principles that make for peace (Jas. 3:18).

Criticism

A child who lives with constant criticism will learn to grumble and complain. Is the family dinner table a place for gossip, criticism and cynical remarks? If it is, then children are learning to be complainers.

Do you have gripe sessions in front of them? If you must air grievances, do it privately, away from young, impressionable minds. This may take restraint on your part when you have the urge to be critical. Better still, overcome such negative habits.

Certainly, you should teach your children to accept criticism — it’s a tool for growth — but criticism should always be constructive and be given in a spirit of love.

Disregard for law

It is surprising to see the extent to which some “Christians” flout vehicle speed laws and parking directions. Some apparently feel that traffic regulations are “only man’s laws anyway.”

What is of greater concern about such disregard, beyond that you could wind up hurt physically, is that you are nourishing a belief in your heart that you are above law. This teaches children double standards. Derogatory remarks about authority figures — whether police, teachers, government officials or ministers — also set a bad example.

Paul warns, “Obey those who rule over you” (Heb. 13:17) — even when you consider the rules inadequate or foolish. Your purpose is to learn to submit to authority. If you don’t set the example, how can you expect your children to submit to you? Disregard for law and order encourages rebellion.

Unequal love

Isaac grew up in a family atmosphere that reflected unequal love toward his half brother Ishmael (Gen. 21:8-11). Eventually Ishmael was forced out of the camp and separated from his father, Abraham, because of Sarah’s and Hagar’s feelings against each other.

In time, Isaac had his own family — twin sons — Esau and Jacob. But personality differences took root in the family because Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah gave more of her love to Jacob (Gen. 25:28). This led eventually to Jacob’s taking Esau’s birthright by deceptive means worked out by his mother. Not the best example of family togetherness. But where did Isaac learn to conduct his family this way?

Favoritism

If you practice favoritism, your children will learn to be partial. Continuing with the above story, we read that Jacob had many children from his two wives and their handmaids. But the child Jacob loved most was the youngest, Joseph.

The problem with this was in being so open about it before the others, culminating in the special gift of the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3-4). This produced family jealousy and rivalry.

Of course, Joseph’s dreams and his approach in telling his brothers didn’t help matters either (verses 5-11). The end result of Jacob’s practicing partiality was that Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave.

Joseph, himself, was partial years later in Egypt when he gave a banquet for all his brothers. Guess who got the biggest share of food? Benjamin, the youngest, was openly favored (Gen. 43:34).

This resurrected a family resentment that resurfaced at the death of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became fearful, thinking that with the patriarch out of the way, Joseph would take revenge on them (Gen. 50:15).

Hypocrisy

Children see through hypocrisy, especially in the Christian example you set. Do you say one thing — or even tell your children to do one thing — while you yourself do something else?

Does your child know and see that you pray, study the Bible, fast, get anointed when you are sick and serve others? Or does he see a show at Church services each week and general disinterest the other six days? Whatever you practice, your children see and tend to copy, whether for the good or bad.

But what if you yourself have been the victim of bad parental influences and find yourself struggling to change?

God gives encouragement through the prophet Ezekiel. As long as you are willing to take heed to your ways, to consider right and wrong and seek to change faults, you can avoid being an injurious example to your own children (Ezek. 18:14-17, 27-28). You can, if you are willing to make the effort, teach them God’s way.

Joseph and Mary must have set a fine example for Jesus. God the Father must have been especially mindful that a right kind of family environment would be needed to nurture and admonish Jesus during His boyhood years.

With the help of this fine family example, Jesus grew up to be “in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Could there be a better goal in child training than this, that as a result of the godly family environment you create for your children, they grow up to be “in favor with God and men”? How richly blessed your children will be if this happens. And what a commendation for you as a parent!

If your family environment reflects criticism, hostility, ridicule and competitiveness, your child will learn to fight, to feel shy and guilty, to be spiteful and hateful and perhaps be destined to end up as an ineffective parent himself.

But if your family environment reflects tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, honesty, security and approval, your child will learn acceptance, patience, confidence, justice, faith and to find true and enduring friendships.

The parental example you set has great impact upon your children. Make your example a good one!

Source: The Good News, May 1983

August 13, 2009

What If Adam Had Taken Of The Tree Of Life?

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

Deeply Rooted In The Word Of God - catatonickid.wordpress.com

“What would have happened to the world if the first human, Adam, had taken of the tree of LIFE?” That is a question I have never heard or read of being answered. But elsewhere than in Genesis the Bible does at least imply the answer, partially. It seems almost no one ever thought to ask that question. Would we not have lived in a different world?

You now live in a world of awesome progress, development and accomplishment. Yet this same world is filled with appalling evils. Crime, violence, immorality multiply. Discontent, unhappiness, frustration fill human minds. WHY this astounding paradox?

Amid 20th century scientific and technological advances approaching the miraculous — amid tremendous advances in production of increasing knowledge and its dissemination, we live in a world half literate, and half in abject poverty, living in filth and squalor.

WHY? Why cannot mankind solve his problems and eradicate his evils?

The die was cast at the very foundation of the world. Late 19th and 20th century intellectual progress has turned to and accepted the theory of evolution as the basic premise on which knowledge production and advancement is based. But knowledge development has been paralleled with escalating evils. Evolutionary ideas have not led to the increasing of, but the rapid elimination of well-being. Evolution cannot give us the answer to this mysterious paradox. It gives humanity NO HOPE for the future.

The only answer lies in the incident of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. The only explanation of this world’s paradox and the meaning of the purpose of human existence lies in understanding of that incident, which in fact was the foundation of this world.

Yes, WHAT IF the first man Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, instead of the forbidden fruit?

Adam was required to make a choice. In that choice the die was cast on the whole 6,000-year human society up to this time. The CAUSE of every evil experienced by the billions of human lives during these 6,000 years lies in the decision made by the human father of all mankind.

Yes, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of LIFE?

Look at that pivotal incident of all human existence. The forbidden tree was to result in DEATH. It was the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. On man’s taking to himself that knowledge, God closed off the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24) from all mankind until Christ, the second Adam, came. The exception to this were the prophets of ancient Israel for the writing of the Bible.

What did the forbidden tree really mean? That knowledge has no connection with material knowledge. Man was created with a mind capable of acquiring knowledge concerning matter — dealing with wood, metals, agriculture — the sciences and technology. Good and evil are concerned with relationships with other minds.

Man was made to have and need a relationship with his Maker — the supreme mind. He was made to engage in relationships with fellow humans — who have minds. Good and evil concerns MIND in relationships with other minds. But man’s mind was not a finished creation. It contains a spiritual content, not present in the brains of nonhuman vertebrates. Animals are equipped with instinct, but not thinking, reasoning, knowing minds. The human mind not only can receive knowledge of the material and its use, but also ATTITUDES in relation to other minds. That is, attitudes of love or of hate. Attitudes of self-centeredness and vanity; attitudes of envy, jealousy, animosity, competition, strife and violence; attitudes of rebellion or, on the other hand, attitudes of outflowing love, humility, reverence for God, obedience, cooperation, helping, serving, sharing — concern for the welfare and good of others.

God Lives and Works

God the Creator from eternity has existed as God — a supreme spirit Personage — and the Word — also a supreme spirit Personage, willingly and by nature subservient to God in love. Constituting the God family, these two exist eternally (John 1:1-5, 14). They lived! How did they live — by what relationship? God loved the Word who 1,986 years ago became Jesus Christ. The Word loved God. Two can’t walk together except they be agreed. They were in perfect harmony. Neither can two continue happily together except one is leader or head. God has always been head over all.

Living, they were doing. What have they been doing? They have been CREATING. Planning, designing, bringing into existence — positive constructing, not destroying. They worked thus together in love, peace, harmony. God created all things BY the Word who became Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

This way of LOVE, peace, cooperation always was their way of life. That way of life became the supreme LAW of the universe — for law is merely the WAY of life. People make laws to regulate their lives. There is a basic law or constitution on which every government is based. Even games in sports have rules. So outflowing LOVE is the foundational LAW of the government of God. Sin is the transgression of that law.

Adam transgressed that law — he sinned — when he rejected the tree of LIFE and continuing contact with God and chose, instead, to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil — the knowledge of HOW to live in relationship with other MINDS — both God and human. Thus he rejected the law of God.

Now, WHAT IF he had taken of the tree of life? God closed off the tree of life until Christ the second Adam came to redeem mankind. Jesus said, “I will build my Church.” He chose 12 disciples. (The word disciple means student, one being taught.) Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He promised them they would receive the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31, the Holy Spirit came with a supernatural display (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is the divine spiritual sperm, which impregnates with eternal LIFE (Rom. 8:11). Also it is the LOVE of God shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

What Did the Tree of Life Symbolize?

Therefore, the tree of life in Eden symbolized the Spirit of God, which imparts eternal LIFE. Adam was not created with eternal life. In that respect, his creation was not yet complete. Human creation is still going on!

IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE, he would have received that LIFE just as the true Christian may today — by receiving the Holy Spirit. Only, Adam had not yet sinned — until he disobeyed. He would have needed no repentance as we do today. But he would have BELIEVED God. He would have received the Holy Spirit — the LOVE OF GOD, which divine love fulfills God’s law.

What more? Like Christians today, he would have become an HEIR of God. He would have been begotten to become a child of God, not yet born.

In I Corinthians 2:9, we read that the knowledge of spiritual truths, attitudes and purposes of God cannot be seen by the eye nor heard through the ear. All knowledge receivable by humans enters the mind through the five senses. But (verse 10) God reveals spiritual knowledge through his Spirit. Without the Spirit of God in combination with our human spirit, no human can comprehend spiritual knowledge. That is the reason the greatest, most intellectual, most highly educated minds CANNOT UNDERSTAND the Bible — which imparts spiritual knowledge.

Therefore, as the forbidden tree was one of knowledge leading to death, so the tree of LIFE was one of spiritual knowledge leading to immortal LIFE. What Adam took to himself was spiritual knowledge, which his mind, without the Holy Spirit of God, was not capable of comprehending. He decided for himself what is right and wrong. But Satan influenced him, through Eve, to decide selfishly.

Consequently, he decided what he thought was right or wrong in relation to others from an attitude of self-centeredness — not from that of outflowing love toward others.

The tree of LIFE — symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit — was shut off and CLOSED to humans until Christ. Thus the foundation of this world — this civilization — was laid. Man has acquired material know-how to produce awesome progress, especially in this 20th century. But his progress is materialistic and physical. The uncompleted human mind has been capable of that. But the human mind has been only HALF there!

In relationship to God, what little mankind knows has been perverted by Satan. Man has been selfish in his relationship with people. He has lived the way of GETTING, not GIVING. He has been filled with greed, animosity, competition, violence, destruction. He has destroyed all of God’s earth his hands could touch or change — polluted the air and the water, worn out the soil. But WHAT IF Adam had taken of the tree of LIFE which God freely offered him?

“He Would Have … “

He would have received the Holy Spirit of God. He would thus have been given a spiritually comprehending mind. He would have continued in close relationship with God, especially in the Person of the Word, later designated as Yahweh, who would have revealed knowledge and truth progressively to Adam as he was able to absorb and understand it. He would have received the LOVE of God, God’s divine love for fulfilling the law. He would have received the FAITH of God, and even spiritual POWER to resist evil and for self-control.

But, would Satan have been banished from the earth at the time? From here on many questions may arise that God has not as yet revealed to us in the Bible. But some answers are evident, and others indicated by what is revealed.

Christ, the second Adam, resisted and rejected Satan in the great temptation (Matt. 4). But he did not take over the throne of the earth from Satan at that time, although he had qualified to take it over.

We, who do receive the Holy Spirit, are not made immortal at once, nor even in this mortal life. We must continue to overcome, to grow in grace and spiritual knowledge, and we must endure to the end of this mortal existence before we shall be made immortal. So it is indicated surely that Adam would have continued as a mortal, having God’s Spirit, until God’s righteous character had been developed in him. Eventually he would have been made immortal, Satan would have been deposed and Adam would have sat on the throne of the earth.

He would have been taught by God continually. He surely would have learned to teach Cain, Abel, Seth and other children, from the cradle, in God’s way of life and in resisting Satan.

God has not revealed it all. But we may know it would have been a far different world than that which Satan has deceived.

What DID and WILL Happen

But the first human, Adam, did not take of the freely offered tree of LIFE. So what is important to us is what did, and will happen.

God’s PURPOSE in creating and putting on earth the human family was and is to reproduce himself — to create in and through the human family his own GOD FAMILY WITH PERFECT SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, to have the human family born into the GOD FAMILY. God’s PURPOSE stands. It shall be accomplished. But how?

God’s own perfect character can only be created in us by him, but with our own individual free choice, decision and will. The first Adam did not then acquiesce in that decision and free will. He yielded to Satan and opposite character through his wife Eve.

Thereupon God moved swiftly to do certain things.

First, he shut off access by humans to the tree of LIFE — to immortality. God was not willing that humans should live eternally in the unhappy torture of perverted minds and the consequences of sin.

At the same time, so that sinning man be not lost from God-like happiness and the possibility of being born into the God family, it was thereupon necessary — at the very foundation of the human world — that Christ should come, be born human, and through death pay the penalty for the sins of all humans who repent and turn to God’s way of life.

Simultaneously, it was appointed that all humans should die, but after this, through a resurrection, come to judgment (Heb. 9:27) in which the book of life could be opened (Rev. 20:12) — and, that as in Adam all should once die, so in Christ should all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22) and then judged.

In due time, nearly 4,000 years from the foundation of this world, Christ came. He said, “I will build my Church.” As a foundation (with the prophets), he called and taught his 12 disciples. He commissioned them, as apostles, to teach all whom God would call. To them, upon repentance and belief, the Holy Spirit would be given, begetting them as sons of God. Even then, the Holy Spirit was still closed off to all except those chosen and drawn by God.

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium.

After this shall come the Great White Throne Judgment when all not called previously shall be resurrected in the judgment and come to understand what only a privileged few, who are called now, already understand.

Undoubtedly, billions of humans finally shall be born into the God family.

Source: The Plain Truth, March 1983

August 2, 2009

The Love Of God Versus Fake Love

www3.uakron.edu

www3.uakron.edu

Love – perhaps no word in the English language is used more often or is more misunderstood. When people in this world talk about love, it usually comes from an emotional standpoint, or a feeling. But God’s love is vastly different. In large part, the people of this world lack love – any love. Think about it. How many today openly exhibit outgoing concern for others? How many are willing to give of themselves — to sacrifice — for the benefit of others around them ? Most human relationships do not exhibit this kind of love. They are damaged by the “get as much for me as I can” philosophy that has prevailed throughout history.

From the beginning we have been subject to these selfish pulls, authored by the fallen archangel Satan the devil. Cain murdered his brother Abel because he lacked brotherly love. His heart was filled with jealousy because he wanted to get rather than give to his brother.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah also reveals a breakdown in human relationships. The angels visiting Lot in the form of men were threatened with homosexual acts by Lot’s neighbors! Why did this situation exist? The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah lacked love. Their problems went much further than homosexuality — the moral, social and spiritual fabric of their society was ripped beyond repair (Ezek. 16:49-50). There were not even 10 men of good character in Sodom (Gen. 18:32).

The end time — the time in which we now live — is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30). We see the same breakdown in human relationships. One in three U.S. marriages ends in divorce, and the surviving marriages are often unhappy. Homosexuality is increasing. Child abuse is a serious problem worldwide. Labor unrest abounds. Wars divide the nations of our planet.

All these conditions indicate a lack of love. They show that the world is going the way of the get philosophy rather than the give way of life. All these breakdowns in human relationships produce the same thing — unhappiness! Unhappiness for the person failing to show love, and misery for the person experiencing the lack of love.

Educators, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and religious leaders vainly attempt to determine the underlying reasons for the present state of man. But only one source strips away human reason and gives us the true answer: God’s Holy Word. The Bible reveals the cause of breakdowns in human relationships: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1). The conditions in the world persist because man has rejected the way of God! People cut off from God are subject to the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 1:18-32).

What about the Church of God?

But can God’s Church lack love? God calls this Church age the Philadelphian era (Rev. 3:7). The word philadelphia means “brotherly love.” However, Christ warned that because of the sinful environment around us, even true Christians may be affected by this world. We as Christians live in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. This environment weakens our ability to love one another.

The environment of ancient Corinth was extremely corrupt as well. It was notorious for sexual looseness. Christians in that city were adversely affected.

Paul wrote that the Corinthian church was full of envy, strife and division (I Cor. 3:1-3). One man committed incest with his stepmother; this was not a hidden sin but one that was freely accepted by other members (I Cor. 5:1-2). Church members were unable to resolve their problems among themselves, and foolishly went to the judges of the world (I Cor. 6:1).

What love produces

These problems reveal a church lacking proper love. In response, Paul showed them how love should work in the Church — what it should produce among Church members.

The Church is one spiritual Body made up of many members, each of them important — just as a physical body is made up of different but equally important parts. With this established, Paul showed the need for appreciating one another. In fact, those who appear the least deserving of appreciation are to be shown the most! The purpose for this attitude among Christians is to produce unity and empathy for each other (I Cor. 12:13-26). Furthermore, this atmosphere of brotherly love stimulates the love of God.

What, then, is love? Love begins with the keeping of God’s law. Many people today think God’s law is done away. But the Bible reveals that it is only through the knowledge of God’s law that we know what sin is (Rom. 3:20, I John 3:4). We enjoy the fruits of God’s love by putting His law to work in our lives (Rom. 2:13, Jas. 1:22). God’s law doesn’t harm your neighbor — it helps him. Keeping God’s law shows him love (Rom. 13:8-10).

More than that, God’s love is a product of God’s Spirit working in us (Rom. 5:5). By utilizing His Spirit and the tools of prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting we produce obedience to Him and develop right attitudes and approaches to life. Then those around us are affected by the godly love that flows through us.

These character traits of godly love are beautifully described in I Corinthians 13, where love is broken down into the attributes it produces in Christians and the benefits it offers people around them. Each part is worthy of careful consideration. For our purposes we will substitute the word love for the King James term charity.

  1. Love suffereth long (I Cor. 13:4). Patience is needed when things go wrong, so we will suffer without anger or discouragement. It comes from understanding the other person’s weaknesses, just as God understands our weaknesses and exhibits great patience toward us. How much happier we all are if this trait is practiced, because it produces a more relaxed feeling within ourselves and others. God expects us to have the same mercy for others as He does for us (Rom. 2:1-5).
  2. Is kind (I Cor. 13:4). Kindness is responding to the needs of others. Much of Christ’s life was spent meeting the needs of others through healings and other miraculous events. He performed miracles out of compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32), which is a combination of sympathy for someone in distress and a desire to alleviate his or her problem. Jesus acted out of deep sympathy and sorrow for the plight of those around Him (Isa. 53:3-4). So ought we.
  3. Envieth not (I Cor. 13:4). Envy prevents us from rejoicing at the successes of others. It cripples personal relationships (Prov. 27:4). It led to Christ’s death at the hands of the Jews (Matt. 27:18). How much better it is to be grateful for the accomplishments of others! It builds much warmer and more secure relationships. It helps others reach their full potential without fear of hurt. Aren’t you happier when your successes are appreciated? When envy is removed, appreciation is possible.
  4. Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (I Cor. 13:4). Love eliminates pride, which separates us from others because we feel superior. Feelings of self-superiority should warn us that love is missing in our lives; this separates us from God and men (Prov. 16:18, 29:23). When pride is eliminated, love replaces it and draws us together, because we hold other people in higher esteem than ourselves. We see our own weaknesses more clearly and focus on the strengths of others. We can share our fears and failures with others (Jas. 5:16). Humility is an important ingredient in producing godly love.
  5. Doth not behave itself unseemly (I Cor. 13:5). Good manners are an expression of love. They show our concern for others when we act out of humility. We should question our actions to see if they are done in good taste. God tells us to show honor and follow the rules of custom (Rom. 13:7). Our society has faltered in this trait and discarded etiquette and proper behavior.
  6. Seeketh not her own (I Cor. 13:5). God’s love acting in us will make us more generous; we will have the give attitude that motivates God Himself. We will think as much or more of others as we do of ourselves. The way of selfishness and get has caused all this world’s evils, but a Christian will not demand to have his own way at the expense of others.
  7. Is not easily provoked (same verse). Love eliminates wrong anger. When God gave us His Spirit at baptism, He intended that we conduct ourselves according to His character and that we be of the same mind as Christ (I Tim. 1:7, Phil. 2:5). Christ was compassionate, sympathetic, slow to anger (Neh. 9:17). Should not we be so in dealing with the unconverted and even our brethren? There is a time for righteous indignation (Eph. 4:26). Christ Himself was angry on occasion, but He channeled His aggression perfectly. Wrong anger results from our lack of patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy and unselfishness. One who controls his anger is better than the mighty (Prov. 16:32). Remember that a soft answer eases the tension of an angry confrontation (Prov. 15:1).
  8. Thinketh no evil (I Cor. 13:5). God’s way is one of forgiving and forgetting the evil deeds of others, when repented of. It replaces unnecessary suspicion with trust. This approach builds friendship. Stop and analyze how much this world suffers because of evil thought.
  9. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (verse 6). A person filled with love doesn’t like to see others sin and suffer the consequences. Instead he enjoys the truth that frees a person from sin and unhappiness. As Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  10. Beareth all things (I Cor: 13:7). Love doesn’t avoid obligations. It is willing to take on responsibilities. Bearing one another’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Jesus gladly took upon Himself the burden of being our Savior (John 10:17-18). It required a tremendous sacrifice, but His love for us made it possible. We need the same love for others.
  11. Believeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Believing all things doesn’t remove us from reality. It makes more real to us that God is about to usher in His perfect government to replace today’s pitiful societies. History has shown that we cannot believe in man’s ways, but we will soon all believe God. We are frequently too negative — we doubt instead of believe.
  12. Consider God’s optimism. He said that, for a rich man, entering the Kingdom of God was harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. True, with men this is impossible. But, Christ said, with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:23-26). When you are burdened with trials and troubles ask yourself, “Do I believe God?”
  13. Hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Christian love is filled with hope for the future. There is the hope generated by God’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. There is the ultimate hope of God’s Kingdom being established and having a part in it. We are to lay hold of this hope (Heb. 6:18) — when we are filled with it we will radiate happiness.
  14. Endureth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Love endures hardship. It helps us have the right attitude when things are difficult. True Christianity causes all things to work for good (Rom. 8:28). Endurance is essential for salvation (Matt. 24:13). We must have it to face the frightening events to precede Christ’s return to earth.

God is love

Relationships work well when love is present in them. When it isn’t, unhappy relationships exist. This is true among marital partners, family members, friends, casual acquaintances, fellow employees and members of God’s Church. We all need love to make our relationships work.

God is love (I John 4:8)! Love literally emanates from Him. Everything God has created for us and is doing through us is done in love. What greater example of love is there than the fantastic plan God has designed to change humans into literal members of the God Family?

By following Christ’s example and obeying God’s laws, we can have the right relationships among ourselves. By submitting ourselves to God we can be prepared to enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God will be based on love — and we must grow in God’s love to be there! “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:9).

Source: Good News, 1981

July 25, 2009

Ten Crucial Daily Questions For Spiritual Survival!

herbert_w_armstrong

These questions below are crucial for every true Christian to ask daily in their life of battling Satan, society and self. I strongly believe that Herbert W. Armstrong was spiritually inspired to pose these questions to the Church of God.

Source: by Herbert W. Armstrong, Co-Worker Bulletin, February 14, 1941.

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1.  Did I awake spiritual, in a happy, prayerful attitude, and was I watching to keep my mind from wandering this morning?

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2.  Have I, this day, kept my mind clean, my thoughts and contemplations on “the things above,” in continuous happy, positive, prayerful attitude?

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3.  Have , as a “babe in Christ,” partaken three times today of spiritual food by submissive Bible study and earnest prayer ALONE with God? Have I grown closer to God? Have I grown today in grace and knowledge?

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4.  Have I walked by faith, asking God for wisdom and guidance in all things, committing every little problem to Him, trusting Him with it?

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5.  Have I exercised self-discipline, denying impulse, doing what God’s word shows I aught to do instead of what I wanted to do?

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6.  Was my speech and conversation today kind, cheerful, soft?

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7.  Have I exercised patience today? Have I been charitable towards others, showing tolerance and love, or resentment, jealousy and anger?

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8.  Have I, while putting spiritual interests first, been diligent in performing regular material duties today, doing my very best?

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9.  Have I made the most of my time, or been weakened by unwatchfulness?

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10.  What have I done for God’s work and for others? Have I spent anything today to please myself that could have been saved for God’s cause?

April 8, 2009

Why Does The Bible Say God Is Jealous?

Filed under: Emotions — melchia @ 7:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

The verses which make reference to God as a “jealous God” are often misunderstood. The reason is that we are accustomed to jealousy referring to envy or bitter resentment. However, this is not the intended meaning of the word JEALOUS when used in reference to God. A better translation, then, is ZEALOUS. 

Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary” has this as one of the definitions of JEALOUS: “vigilant in guarding a possession.” This is the proper sense in which we should understand this word as applied to God. Please compare Exodus 20:5 with Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29.

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