Serve God With a Willing Spirit

What kind of attitude does God want us to have when we take a part in His Work? And, of course, His Work at times includes offerings as well as other actions. We know that God loves a cheerful giver which is something we are often reminded of before the Holy Day offerings (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).

In the Old Testament writings, when the tabernacle was being built, the term “willing” was used regarding the offering people gave for its construction. In Exodus 35, the term “willing” or “freewill” is used five times in the New King James Bible, showing how important this attribute is considered by God. The first mention is in Exodus 35:5 where we read, “Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze…” The meaning of “willing” in this chapter is “generous, spontaneous, voluntary, abundant”—all being attitudes that God desires in us as we serve Him.

Much later, when King David was instructing his son to be the future king and to serve God, he used the terms “a loyal heart” and “a willing mind” in 1 Chronicles 28:9. In this case, willing is from a different Hebrew word meaning “delight in, desire, have pleasure.” In other words, delight in serving God and ruling His people correctly.

At the time just before Solomon began building the temple in Jerusalem, we also read in 1 Chronicles 29:6, “Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly.” They gave abundantly materials for the building of the temple as had King David.

There is an interesting example in the New Testament of a man who was willingly serving God, and that man was Cornelius. He was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). Doing good to all, especially those who are of the household of faith as we have opportunity, which would include giving alms or charitable gifts generously or willingly, is mentioned in Galatians 6:10 as good works we are to perform. What is also interesting in the account of the angel visiting Cornelius is that the angel puts the prayers of Cornelius first before the alms as a memorial before God. (See Acts 10:4 and Acts 10:31). So both are a memorial but God puts prayers first here while He placed alms first in Acts 10:2. Both are part of an important memorial.

Of course, there are warnings if we do not serve God willingly. Jeremiah 48 tells us that God was using an army (possibly the Chaldeans, depending on which commentary is referred to) to destroy ancient Moab because of their attitudes and actions. (We understand, of course, that this entire passage is mainly a prophecy for the “latter days,” note Jeremiah 48:47). In Jeremiah 48:10 we read, “Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.”

The Pulpit Commentary shows the literal translation of “deceitfully” means “slackly, negligently.” And the New Testament mentions examples of people doing God’s Work deceitfully or negligently.

Early in the New Testament Church, a couple, Ananias and Saphira, tried to deceive the apostles and the Church by claiming their gift was the full amount of what they sold, whereas it was only a part. They were exaggerating their gift—possibly, to receive more praise. See Acts 5:1-2. God inspired Peter to see through the deception and the result was that God killed both the man and his wife because of them lying to the Holy Spirit.

In the letter to the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22, God condemns the Laodiceans for not being zealous. They believed they were rich, had become wealthy, and had need of nothing, whereas God told them they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. By being self-satisfied and not being zealous in their lives, including their need to repent and to overcome, what little, if any, of God’s Work they were doing, they were doing negligently or with a slack hand. Because of this attitude, God intended to vomit them out of His mouth.

So, from these examples, we see that no matter whether we have a large or a small part in God’s Work, we must do our part willingly and zealously, and without any deception. When we do this, our efforts will be a memorial well pleasing to God.

Humility and Obedience

Humility and obedience are two characteristics which every Christian should have.

Modern man has a proud, self-satisfied attitude and thinks he can get along without God. Neither does he fear God nor does he respect God’s Word as an authority in his life. He is selfish and puffed up. Is it any wonder then that God does not hear the prayers of such people?

The most important requirement for knowing God is to fear or respect Him and to honor His Word. Psalm 111:10 tells us: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

Man must realize that he is only dust and will return to dust when he dies. In James 4:14, we read: “… For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

However, if a person has received the Spirit of God in this life, he will inherit eternal life at his resurrection, which is a gift from God: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We should be humble and show obedience, understanding that all the gifts and talents we possess were given to us by God.

If we approach God with such an attitude and if we acknowledge His power and authority over our lives, then He will hear us.

When Christ lived as a human being, He also feared or respected God, just as we should do. Hebrews 5:7 tells us, that “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, [He] was heard because of His godly fear…”

An attitude of humility and fear of God is always essential in prayer. And by respecting God’s Word, we are obedient.

The requirement for an answered prayer is neglected and constantly disregarded by most professing “Christians.” Matthew 6:7 states, for example: “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Very few people know the true God. Most do not look towards God as the authority in their lives. Instead, the society of this world with its morals, customs, traditions and religious practices have become their “god.”

God inspired Paul to write: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

When we are obedient to the ways of sin that are practiced in this world, we are replacing the true God with society and its pagan customs!  God does not want “lip service.” He demands humility and obedience!  If one has not learned to fear and respect the true God and accept His Word as authority in our lives, then one cannot even start to know the true God in the first place.

In 1 John 2:4, we read: “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

So, how can people stubbornly refuse to keep God’s commandments and yet expect Him to hear their prayers? Peter gives us the following answer, “‘For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil’” (1 Peter 3:12).

Sin is the transgression of God’s law, as the Authorized Version accurately states in 1 John 3:4.  The New King James Bible translates it in this way: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

God will not hear the prayers of those who persist in sin and wickedness. If people were to obey God, they would receive answers to their prayers. In that case, God would not seem so far away and so unreachable.

If one goes to God with humility and a repentant attitude, and if one is determined to obey God, He will answer one’s prayers.

As true Christians, we can have extraordinary confidence that God will answer our prayers if we are humble and obedient. 1 John 3:22 confirms this: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Humility and obedience are very closely related, since without humility one cannot have obedience. Both are crucial for a good relationship with God and with our neighbor. Therefore, obedience and humility are two qualities that every Christian must have.

Fake News – and the Truth!

In an article in “Money Marketing” a little while ago, entitled “Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget,” the writer, Max King, made this observation:

“In the rush to publish and pontificate, media analyses of Budgets are, inevitably, simplistic, shallow and populist. They are often governed by consensus group-think and politically influenced. The interviews with ‘ordinary people’ are designed to support the narrative.” 

A short while before the above comment, I was talking to a near neighbour that I speak to occasionally, whilst walking my dog, about the state of the nation in general.   He seemed to be convinced that the media, and our national broadcaster in particular, were able to produce actors who supported the regular accusation of left wing bias.   In a BBC article in January of this year, we read: “The idea of ‘crisis actors’ – people who pretend or are hired to act out some particular tragedy or disaster – is part of many contemporary conspiracy theories.”

In this editorial, I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories or politics, but suffice to say that fake news is currently alive and kicking, and it seems to permeate the very fabric of western society.

In a Daily Mail article in 2019, it was stated that “The consequences of fabricated news stories may have lingering effects on your perception.  According to a new study, voters may develop false memories after reading a fake news report. And, they’re more likely to do so if the narrative lines up with their own beliefs. Researchers presented over 3,000 eligible voters in Ireland with legitimate and made-up stories ahead of the 2018 referendum on legalizing abortion. In subsequent questioning – and after being told that some of the reports were fake – nearly half of participants reported a memory for at least one of the fabricated events, and many tended to be steadfast in these beliefs.”

Trying to work out what is right and what is wrong, what is factual news and what is fake, can take quite a bit of research and discernment, and is necessary to ensure that we have the right narrative—and, never more so than in the realm of our calling.

Now, here’s a thought.   When Jesus was addressing the stubborn Jews, He said:

 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Matthew 24 gives us information from Jesus about the times to come:  “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (verse 11).   In verses 23-24, we further read: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”   And in verse 25, we have this admonition: See, I have told you beforehand,” and so we have been warned!   A lot of fake news has been prophesied!

We must recognise that Satan is the father of fake news.   He has sold the world on his lies, which are manifold.  

When we keep the Feast of Tabernacles each year, we are showered daily with Truth from God’s Word, showing us the marvellous future that awaits those of us who remain faithful to our calling until the end.  

The Truth is far more interesting than fake news and will be the norm in the coming Kingdom of God.

Get Mad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Total Package

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Hates Lying… Do We?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living by Truth

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

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

What if God sent somebody to speak Truth to the world—to warn and to show the right Way to peace, abundant living and even eternal life? He did, and it was Jesus Christ, who also said, “‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12); adding, “‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regret Consumes; Repentance Heals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are We Using the Correct Tools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Not the Only Ones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God