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Coming - Nuclear War With No Survivors? (Standing Watch) 9 min. video

The 50 Day Challenge (Morning Companion)

The title of this piece is derived from the New King James translation of Leviticus 23:16: “Count fifty days ...” This verse addresses the fifty days between Passover and Pentecost.
There is a clear scriptural tie between those two Holy Day seasons. In ancient times the Holy Land’s grain harvests would begin at Passover time and would last for these fifty days, beginning with the barley harvest and ending with the harvest of wheat.
In the story of the Exodus, this period of time marked the interval between the departure from Egypt and the event on Mt. Sinai, where the nation of Israel met God.
And in the New Testament this period spans the time between the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
These fifty days did not just pass like any other fifty days. Important things got done. Bringing in a harvest is hard, productive work. The time between Egypt and Sinai was a period of education and learning to trust in God’s protection and provision. The Red Sea, the manna in the wilderness, the water from the rock, and the gift of the Sabbath all came to them before Sinai. And at the same time they were able to reorganize themselves at the suggestion of Jethro.
The disciples during those fifty days grew from despair to hope, doubt to belief, and discouragement to faith. They received the commission to go into all the world and, when some of them turned tail and ran back to Galilee to pursue once again their fishing business, Jesus pulled them back to the business of fishing for men.
The point is to avoid wasting these fifty days. Take the Fifty Day Challenge. Use the time to get closer to God. Do the hard work necessary to bring in a spiritual harvest. Pray more. Study the Word more. As Israel prepared to meet their God and as the church prepared to meet the Holy Spirit, at the end of this fifty days prepare for a blessing beyond your imagination to receive it.

Gospel Focus (New Horizons)

Jerusalem in the 30s AD buzzed with excitement as thousands of Jews - including numerous priests and Pharisees - were persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah and the long-promised Saviour.
They responded to the simple message that, despite their past commitment to Judaism, yet they each needed to personally understand that they had crucified that same Saviour. They experienced guilt and shame - and a burning sense of their sinfulness and need of forgiveness. Distraught, they asked Peter what they should do.
The apostle pulled no punches, explaining that they needed a radical change of heart - ‘to repent’. Mere outward observance of ordinances, however important, isn’t enough. Paul warns Timothy of those, ‘having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof’ (II Timothy 3:5). The outward structure (Sabbath, holy days etc) is there, but they lacked the empowering of the indwelling Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Sin separates us from the Deity. It has blighted mankind and all our works since we first rejected God’s way in favour of our own devices. Unless dealt with, our destiny is that we crumble into dust. Only by heartfelt repentance, acknowledgement of the sacrifice of Jesus and commitment to his revealed way is reconciliation possible.
Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t repentance! Writes Paul: ‘godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, a repentance not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world finally produces death’ (II Corinthians 7:10).
Two millennia of the distortion of this good news of salvation has dulled the terrible nature of Calvary. But our alienation from God is no less complete than with Peter’s hearers. Nor the urgent need for repentance - for sin is no less sinful today!
Peter’s focus in that first outreach sermon was on what makes a difference - the Holy Spirit: “Repent,” replied Peter, “and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, with a view to the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Whether a person’s life is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not the bench-mark for salvation - the planet is peopled by millions of both! The indwelling Spirit alone is the key: ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his’ (Romans 8:9).
The Spirit imparts new (spiritual) life to us, witnessing to us that we are (like the child in the womb) in process of a new birth: ‘the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ (v.16). Such have the constant awareness that they are the Almighty’s ‘sons and daughters’, that they are children of the Father (II Corinthians 6:18).
The good news that our sin can be forgiven is available to all. Respond to God’s invitation and the rewards are immeasurable - an eternity working in harmony with our Saviour - heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ - in the outworking of the Father’s plan. It’s a plan veiled from the world but revealed to us through God’s Spirit.
The apostle adds, ‘the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but now was revealed to His saints’ (Colossians 1:.26).
And to the brethren in Colosse, he adds: ‘of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance’ (Colossians 3:24). And not only heirs of a mere temporal estate but ‘those being called might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance’ (Hebrews 9:15).
By a quirk of history, or through hard graft, or by hook or crook, individuals build vast estates to pass on to their progeny. But as history reveals - they in their turn crumble to dust or pass from the family. Our inheritance is immeasurably different. It is ‘an inheritance imperishable and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you’ (I Peter 1:4).
As children of the Father true believers are assured of a permanent inheritance stretching through the endless millennia ahead. As notes the apostle, we are now being prepared for the immensity of this incredible endless future: ‘giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit [capable] for a share of the inheritance of the saints in light’ (Colossians 1:12). It is a process of tender supervision by a loving Father: ‘Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? “My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.” Endure what you suffer as being a father’s punishment; your suffering shows that God is treating you as his children’ (Hebrews 12:5-7).
This is the plan -and you can have a role! Will you take on the challenge?

Witnessing Through Weakness (Sabbath Meditations)

I feel sorry for Thomas. Think about it for a minute. He sat at the feet of the Master. It’s sure that he was used as a tool of God to bring many to salvation. Yet when we think of him, what is the one attribute that comes to mind? Doubter. I can’t help but wonder how many believers will approach him in the Kingdom and ask, “Aren’t you Doubting Thomas?” What do you think his response will be? What would your response be?
After a couple of days of being addressed as Doubting Thomas by well meaning brethren, I’d more than likely make my way to the throne room and, respectfully of course, exclaim to the King, “Do you know all the grief that little story of Yours has brought me?!” The reality is, Thomas probably won’t have any of those reactions. In fact, I’m pretty confident being addressed as Doubting Thomas won’t phase him at all. Why do I believe that?
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 the Apostle Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
I’m guessing, since Thomas, like Paul, was working off the same Spirit, he was on the same page with what Paul was saying here. Tribulations, trials, bad experiences, all those things, little and big, that happen to us in the course of our walk not only serve to make us better people but can be used by God to comfort, build and encourage others who struggle with their own weakness.

What most likely will be Thomas’s reaction to so many knowing him by one his greatest moments of weakness? I can think of one word: Thankful.
• Thankful that his story was used to demonstrate the love and patience of our Lord toward us when we fall short.
• Thankful that his failing might have been the tool responsible for strengthening and encouraging others who struggle with doubt or disbelief.
Pondering this, I can’t help but ask, how do I view my struggle with past or present weaknesses and failings? Am I thankful for them? Or do I, like so many who don’t know Christ, consider admitting weakness as something to avoid at all costs? Do I look back with regret at the times I’ve stumbled, mentally sweeping them under the carpet as if they never happened?
Or, like Thomas, like Paul, do I view my past failures as tools in the Father’s hands to do His work in the lives of others? Do I see my failures, my weakness as an opportunity to glorify God?
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Possibly one of the greatest witnesses we give to others is when they see us struggle. We can pour out our heart about God’s love, His purpose, His mercy and redemption to others till the cows come home, but it’s when others see our faith in the midst of trial, in the midst of our failings, that our testimony is heard the loudest. It’s when you and I are at the end of our strength that God’s strength is so apparent in us.
I hope I have the opportunity to meet Thomas in the Kingdom. When I greet him, I’ll do my best not to thoughtlessly tack on the “Doubting” title. It might be challenging as it rolls so easily of the tongue. But if I inadvertently do, I’ll be sure to follow up with a word of appreciation for the impact his life, his story, had on those who followed.

The Spirit Comes Quickly (First Century Christianity)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (NASB)
Since we are inside of the weeks to count for Pentecost, it seems appropriate to identify the parallels with the first century Christians and those who are called out today. When the Spirit descended upon the first ones, they immediately began to preach the truth. The Spirit gave them the power to speak in the native tongues of all in attendance so as to reach as many as possible. As the first century Christians went out to preach the gospel, they did so with authority. They completely left their lives in the hands of the Almighty. Which brings to mind these verses:
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day. “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels”But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:22-27 (NASB)
It is a marvelous thing to witness when the veil is lifted and brethren hear the call. But when we hear the call, we start to act in an odd way to the world. When the Gentiles received the Spirit in the first century, they started attending synagogue and adopted the ways of Yahweh, just like we do today. We give up the traditional Christian-ized holidays and adopt God’s appointed times. We change our diets to exclude the unclean meats. We are willing to examine everything, holding fast only to the truth, and nothing can stop us. Even conflict within our own families can’t stop us from following Yahweh into all truth, although these conflicts are often sad and create much stress.
And it seems so simple; just do what the book says. It’s so easy. It’s so liberating. It is true freedom – the freedom that Christ Jesus gave us to come directly to His Father. The veil was torn when He died signifying the pathway to the Holy of Holies is open for all. The New Covenant is shown by the writing of the law on our hearts and is evident by our behavior – complete surrender to the One who made it all, and the spirit, the Helper sent by Jesus, works in us very quickly.

Maturing Spiritually (Children of God)

We are counting up to Pentecost. We have always recognized the New Testament Pentecost as the birthday of the Church of God - the beginning of the newly called out ones.

Pentecost also portrays the spiritual maturation process that the brethren experience as they go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1). The counting of seven weeks of days up to Pentecost is analogous to the called out ones’ - the ekklesia - Christian maturation process in preparation for the resurrection. God’s purpose in the calling of saints into His Church is that they grow up and succeed spiritually where ancient Israel failed before.
The New Testament Church of God came into being on the day of Pentecost following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some first century brethren were called by the Father and became Children of God on that day. We would say that they became, ‘Church members’. God’s Spirit was poured out on them for a very special purpose - that was the establishment of the Church. There were no buildings, and no organizations, only people who had received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
Today, the bigger church organizations declare that the smaller church-at-home groups are not really Churches of God at all. That is because one of the things they learned in WCG was that on Sabbath you went to a ‘real church hall’ that had 600-800 chairs set up where a preacher would tell you all you needed to know. To find the Church that Jesus Christ built, do not look for a group with great numbers. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
We are now in the Laodicean era - the last era of the Church - where a number of the larger political corporate organizations are focusing their efforts on trying to grow their numbers. At the same time, there are many disassociated church-at-home brethren assembling together by way of the internet, teleconferences, chat rooms, Skype, Ustream, etc. With all their might the church-at-home people are holding fast and earnestly contending for the true faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude :3).
Jesus answered and said unto them: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on [Jesus Christ] whom He hath sent.” (John 6:29)
These stay-at-home Church members are diligently continuing with the work of God, to which all the Church brethren were once committed.
Even though we have been disassociated, disfellowshipped, suspended, put out and put off by the politically organized Laodicean corporations - we endeavor to maintain that “little strength” and “open door” zeal of holding fast what we have, and not denying Jesus Christ’s name (Revelation 3:8-11).

God is calling some at the last hour (Matthew 20:1-16). There is yet work to be done.
“When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matthew 10:23)
Brethren need each other - they do not need corrupt organizations. It would be different if the bigger groups had become committed stalwarts of doctrine, practice, truth and concern for every member of the body - but they have let down our once high standard.  It is not better to be an integral part of a bigger group that has gone off course, neglecting the spiritual education of the brethren - than to be a part of that little scattered flock which is striving to maintain the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
Let me close with some biblical examples that show that home churches are valid in God's sight.
“Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus ... Likewise greet the Church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:3-5)
“To our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the Church in thy house:” (Philemon 1:2)
“I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20)
“On the Sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted there.” (Acts 16:13)
After the baptism and conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch - he did not return to a large congregation in Ethiopia - because there were none. We have brethren in the Church today who were called by God before there was a single congregation in their entire region.

A Joyous Time (Guardian Ministries)

I wish you a most joyous and meaningful Passover/Lord’s Supper and Days of Unleavened Bread.
I think a lot about the night of the Passover/Lord’s Supper. Jesus Christ is, “Our Passover Lamb.” My opening statement to begin this ceremony could be: “You might characterize this celebration as that of the Lamb's Blood.”
The Passover was the lamb - in 2 Chronicles 30:15 we read, “And they slaughtered the passover on the fourteenth of the second month ... “You don’t slaughter a festival or a day or a time. You slaughter a lamb.
But to be fair, the word was also used of the festival and often applied to the entire Days of Unleavened Bread. For us, Christ is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
On the night He was betrayed He took bread first and gave parts to each disciple saying, “This is my body.” How can we get blood from the lamb without first getting its body? When a lamb brings its body close to you, it’s a sign of its relationship with you. Jesus offered the disciples His body - His being.
The blood comes once that body has been pierced. The blood - a most marvelous life-sustaining substance - has the nutrients of all types to repair and sustain the life of the body. Where the blood circulates, repair and healing take place sooner. In areas of the body where there is little circulation of blood, it takes longer for anything to heal. Have you noticed that cuts, bruises, infections around the ankles and feet take longer to heal than those in the mid section?
“The life is in the blood.” So Jesus offered His body as a sign of His relationship with us. He offered His blood for the forgiveness of our sins and to be the blood of the New Covenant.
I don’t want to be too rigid about this because the Scripture says, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 NAU). In other words, Jesus gave it all - His body and His blood.
And, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this is what it means for us - regardless of what group or fellowship you attend, regardless of what night or date (I know there are various ideas), you take that Bread and drink that Wine - it is that Bread and Wine that unites us! It is what we have in common.
Look at 1 Corinthians 10:16: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing (fellowship) in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (NAU)
The Greek word for “sharing” (NAU) or “communion” (KJV) is ‘koinonia’. It is related to the Greek word ‘koine’ - meaning common. The New Testament was written in koine Greek. It meant the common Greek language that the average person spoke and could understand.
The symbols of the Bread and Wine are what we have in common. Regardless of where you live or what fellowship group you attend, it is the basis of our fellowship.
I like to think of these words from Paul: “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:17 NAU)
So when you and I take of that Bread and Wine, let us remember one another and that we are all a part of the “one body” - because we partake of that one bread.

Guardian Ministries will be making the TeleSermon conference call, so you or any who do not have a fellowship group can follow along with us.

The number to listen in is: 1-267-930-4000 code 769949#.

We plan to begin services at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Saving time.