by Ben Agbayani

Once I was a part of a movement which fought for the labor class. I saw many atrocities and appalling situations, resulting in imprisonment, torture and even death of my friends by the hands of authorities—authorities, which were backed by the Tycoon business class, being tied with the local government.

My heart bled in despair, seeing my friends perish for something they fought and believed in, trying to improve the needs of families. I had become a part of a group that ended up as becoming a guillotine for the corrupt. Finally, I realized that we were fighting a losing battle, trying to stand up against a force which was too strong for us.

Now that I am a member of the Church of God, I know that this is not God’s world, but one day, when Jesus Christ rules the earth, none of these terrible things will happen again. I can’t wait to see my dear friends alive and smile again.

How God Has Been Feeding Me

by Delia Messier

In the last several years of our membership in a Church organization, which was departing from the truth, my husband and I were fed a very spiritually sick diet. Finally, through God’s mercy, we came to realize our dangerous situation and, after leaving, we eventually attended once again the Feast of Tabernacles with God’s true servants. After such a long time, we were hearing the truth again and God’s true gospel message was spoken to us–His plan was proven from one Scripture to the next, then another and another, from one end of the Bible to the other. God’s inspired words were used and it was shown how they supported each other and said the same thing, and that they were not confusing or complicated but pure and simple; and it all made sense.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat, not wanting to miss one word, but wanting to hear more and more. This is what I had missed all those years; this was what I had longed for.  I could not express how I was feeling; it was like being awakened! Tears were pouring down my face and getting in my way as I was trying to keep up with the Scriptures, trying to turn from one Scripture to another. I was like a withering dying plant that was finally getting watered, and these were the exact words I expressed to my husband as we closed our Bibles and rose for the last hymn and the closing prayer. I felt like I was being rejuvenated after a long drought!

This is proof to me that God feeds us through His true ministers; that He is using them to teach us in and out of season.  It confirmed to me that we must leave behind false teachers and teachings; that we must be and remain in the true body of Christ; and that if we depart from it and try to succeed on our own, foolishly believing that we can survive that way, we will eventually wither and die like a plant without water.

Since that day I have been observing a spiritual ”FEAST” every annual Festival and every weekly Sabbath. I am so very thankful for God’s true servants and for the knowledge that God’s words are true and that He satisfies those who are thirsty! I have been experiencing it, knowing that as long as I don’t abandon Him, He will not abandon me.

Putting God to the Test!

by Delia Messier

When our eldest daughter was five years old, she suffered from severe tonsillitis to a point that the doctors believed she might have leukemia. She swelled up like mumps repeatedly and had a very high fever for many days.  Even with sponge baths and medication, it still took several days for the swelling to go down and the fever to leave.

While we were waiting for our daughter’s scheduled surgery, she became very ill. This time my husband informed me that the Bible tells us, when we are sick, we are to call the elders of the church to be anointed for healing. He had just begun to read the Bible. I had never heard of this or even attended one Sabbath service, having had only one ministerial visit. Willing to give it a try, I told my husband:  “We will see if it is true, but if it is hocus pocus, I will have nothing to do with it!”

My husband called the minister who came and anointed our daughter in the evening. That night, while my husband worked grave yard shift, I put our daughter in bed with me and without an aspirin or sponge bath I watched her during the night. She woke up at times, and as I gave her little sips of water throughout the night, I could see her face and neck slowly improving. By morning her swelling was gone and her fever was almost gone.

This had never happened before; each time it would take days before the swelling and the fever would go away! This was truly a miracle!  I had put God to the test, and He had shown me that His Word is true!

Our daughter never had surgery. She was healed immediately and completely.   She never had another tonsillitis attack for all the rest of her childhood!

No Exit Doors!

by Aurora Agbayani

In one of our connecting flights on our way to the Feast of Tabernacles, my husband and I were assigned seats by the EXIT doors of the plane. Realizing this, I requested for him to be transferred to a more convenient one and I remained at my assigned seat. As the flight attendant finished with her pre-flight emergency announcements, she approached every passenger seated by the Exit doors and asked if they were willing to help in a time of emergency. Being one of them, I said yes without hesitation, even though I didn’t have a clue of how ready and willing I would be if the situation were to arise. She gave us a brief demonstration of what to do and how to give instructions and guide the rest of the passengers to safety. I just thought to myself, as long as I followed instructions, I’ll be fine.

This reminded me of what we as firstfruits will be doing when Christ establishes His Kingdom here on earth. Under His authority, we will help rebuild the earth as God has initially planned it to be. We will be instructing and guiding the people in following God’s Way of life. We will be ready and will be well equipped for the task.

Tracing back my journey from different churches, this made me realize how much I didn’t know about God’s Word before coming into the true Church of God; what will become of me in the future or even what God’s plan is for me. All I learned before was based on man’s teaching and understanding. I see all of that now as meaningless and just empty words. I can clearly understand now the difference of my way of life and how God really wants me to live. My wayward lifestyle is now being corrected and is following a path laid out by my Creator. I thank God for patiently leading and guiding me and opening my understanding to learn His Word and the true gospel of the Kingdom of God.

I know I still have a lot to learn and I should be careful to not be complacent or even take things for granted. It’s very encouraging whenever I am with the brethren as I continue to learn from them and see how much more I need to change in my life.

My task today is to get ready – I am being trained, taught and prepared for my future role. I am so thankful for having been called out of this world and to be a part of God’s Master plan. I am more inspired to not only be a hearer but most especially – a doer. I can accomplish this by using the tools I have today: prayer, Bible study, meditation and occasional fasting. God knows my heart and my desire to continue to learn with zeal and not to become weary whenever I fall/fail, for He is always there to help me get up and strive to be sure of my calling.

I know that when Christ returns, there will be no exit doors in the Kingdom, as people will be living peacefully, dwelling safely without walls or gates – a time I look forward to and be a part of, knowing that God wants to see me make it into His Kingdom.

It Will Get Better!

by Manuela Mitchell

Every December I encounter a bit of anxiety as the days lead up to Christmas. I just find it almost impossible to get the most simple tasks accomplished, such as shopping. There seems to be an over abundance of people hurrying and scurrying to get their last errands done, and I never seem to plan accordingly when I need to run to the store, or even get gas. This year, however, has been a bit more stressful because my son Sam (4) now understands a bit about this strange holiday. He understands it is wrong to keep, but he also understands that he is the only child in his school that does not keep it. He understands that while all the children are singing their morning Christmas songs, he sits with them and keeps his mouth closed. He understands that while they are painting Christmas trees with decorations, he is painting his realistic looking pine tree and correcting the teacher who referred to it as a Christmas tree. He seems so strong and bold to have to stand up for himself and I am so proud of him for that.

But, I’ve recently learned that he hates going to school, when he used to love it. He has recently fought me as I’ve tried to bring him there, begging and crying that I don’t leave him. He told me that they will always keep Christmas. I understand that my 4 year old son feels like an outcast due to the rebellious ways of our generation, and that makes me very sad. My young son feels like the rest of us do every single day. The difference is that I have more knowledge, understanding and comfort knowing that I am trying to live a Godly way and will be protected. Sam is still learning that, and for now only believes what I can tell and show him, and therefore have to be the best example, by staying positive.

Sam is currently on winter break and I reminded him that Christmas will be over and done with when he starts school again, and things will get better. Knowing of course that things will only get better temporarily until another disgraceful holiday comes up. While I feel sad that he has to go through this at such a young age, I feel blessed that he is doing such a good job of being an example to all, even if they don’t know it yet; someday, they will understand. I often explain to Sam that these stresses and anxieties will indeed pass, leaving us stronger and more encouraged to do the right things that God so clearly shows us. Until then, we need to stay strong, and stand up for what we believe, no matter how old we are or how small we may seem. It will get better!

Thank You!

by John Amorelli    

With much realization and reflection since coming back from the Feast of Tabernacles, I know that God has blessed my wife and me tremendously; even with trials and maltreatments in our lives. I poignantly listed the blessings in my mental and spiritual bulletin board that I look at when faced with trials. It’s very hard at times, many times, but with patience and prayer to the Eternal, fervently, He does pull through!! 

I am reflecting on this Thanksgiving season to be so thankful for so many things: that the Eternal True God and His Son Jesus are always there for me; that they are only a prayer away; that God has called my wife and me to know the Truth; that my wife and I have been given the knowledge by God that His Son will return and bring and set up His Government in this world;  that a beautiful/best friend/sister/wife is worth more to me than all the gold in the world; that knowing that brethren in the Church will always be there for me and my wife; that we had the pleasure of spending time with family members on Thanksgiving; that the simple pleasure of watching wood burn on our wood stove is more joyful than watching TV!!; that our two “therapy” cats keep us company; that I have a job!!!; that we have running water in our well; and that we have food to fill our bellies!!

It might be a simple list to be thankful for, but for me, I thank God and praise HIM through Jesus Christ every day for the simple things!!  Thank YOU, GOD!

Helping People Is A Two-Way Street

by Cali Harris

A colleague I worked with more than eight years ago recently sent me an email and asked if I’d like to get coffee and catch up. I assumed he was simply interested in chatting about how our careers had progressed in the years we hadn’t seen each other.

When we sat down at the cafe, he revealed that he was looking to make a career transition. Although he enjoyed the work he did, he wanted to take on new challenges and stretch his skills. The reason he wanted to meet was not only to catch up, but to also ask me for advice on his career shift, as well as for introductions to other people who could help him. I was shocked! He is approximately 15 years my senior, has held high-level positions at the companies he has worked for, and is a talented individual. I couldn’t believe that he would come to me for advice.

It was certainly an honor to be a sounding board for his career ideas and to help him in any way I could. I can only guess that he reached out to me because he has followed my professional activities online and knew that I have a network of people who work in the field he wants to explore.

After our meeting, it struck me that helping people doesn’t happen on a one-way street. It might have been more predictable that I would have approached my more-experienced former colleague for his help in my career. Instead, he reached out to me for help. When he followed up via email to thank me for taking the time to meet, I had to reflect and consider what a great opportunity it is to be able to truly help someone—as others have so often helped me. 

Is Spanking Your children–Out of Control Parenting?

by Delia Messier
When my nephew was 9 years old, his parents asked me if I could take care of him for one week. They were worn out and at their wits end with him.  His behavior had gotten so bad that they were afraid of him, and not knowing what he might do to them when they were asleep, they would lock their bedroom door at night.
I was willing to take him but with the understanding that I would spank him if and when necessary.  They would not spank him themselves, but they knew that I would treat him with love and respect, so they agreed to the condition.
When they left him with me, the first thing I did was to take him aside and explained to him how precious he was to all of us. And that while he was with us, I had expectations of him and also cited the things that would not be tolerated; letting him know that if necessary I would spank him, and how this would be done.
As the hours passed that day, he went out of his way to test me, and he received the appropriate corrections, which were always followed with hugs and kisses. I would let him know that I cared for him and what kind of person he was and what kind of person he would grow up to be—and that I was helping him to be this person that he really wanted to be!
The next morning things continued the same, but by 10 am he asked to call his father. “Sure,” I said, thinking that he had had enough!  “Hi Dad,” he said,  “I LIKE IT HERE, CAN I STAY LONGER?”
Today, my nephew has grown up with children of his own, and some years ago he expressed to us that he was very thankful for those spankings and that they changed his life.  Is spanking your children out of control parenting? Or is it children who are never spanked who have out of control parents?

Be of Good Cheer!

by Delia Messier    

It has been a most exciting, busy and sometimes very challenging summer! The house was full of children and grandchildren, friends and extended family from far and near. There was much love but also some sadness and bitterness!

My mind goes back to my six  “D’s” that I have incorporated over time since my conversion: devotion, dignity, discretion, discipline, discernment and dedication. To help my spiritual growth, build better relationships and have a better life, it is necessary to attain and perfect my six “D’s.”

I have learned that everything boils down to overcoming Satan, this world, while not being overcome by them and myself. Though I have striven for so long to become victorious, I am still struggling! Then I begin to remember and really appreciate what Christ said: “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

This really hits home for me! This gives me hope and the courage to keep striving and not to quit. Then one day I may be able to say:  I have overcome too!

The Contract

by Connie Grade

Over the past few weeks my work has required my signatures on various contracts and agreements for advertising, contractors for repair work on the property, insurance for the business, etc.  Each contract has various stipulations and requirements that each party has agreed to regarding payment, type of repairs being done or art work.

Often times there is the “small print” that needs to be carefully reviewed to ensure these agreements and contracts are feasible to the job at hand and meet the desired end result.

Once these papers are signed, I am basically giving my word that the company will fulfill its obligations in return for the work being done, and usually there is a deadline by which these obligations must be met by both parties.

As I was reflecting upon these various agreements and contracts, it occurred to me that this is exactly what I had done spiritually when I was baptized!  When God called me, I had the responsibility to research and study to prove that this truly was the path in which I would continually “walk” throughout all eternity.  Once I made this commitment to devote the rest of my life to God, I entered into or “signed” a spiritual contract with my Creator God at my baptism.

On reflection, I ask myself, “Am I still abiding by the contract I signed with my Creator?”  I agreed at baptism He would be first in my life above all else.  This means, He is to be before any other relationship, regardless if it is my husband, my children, other family members, friends, my place of employment or any special interests and passions I may have.  I agreed to put Him first above all else.  Am I fulfilling my commitment I made to Him or have I allowed other things to creep in to distract me or perhaps wavered and become slack?  I have no doubt God will fulfill His part of the agreement He made with me.  I also know with His help I can fulfill my part of the agreement, regardless of how difficult life might get at times – it can be done and will be done if I allow Him to help me along the way.  

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