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War is a Solution? (Standing Watch) 15 min. video

Love is a Decision (Sabbath Meditations)
I was bogged down in the middle of a never ending project, clicking away at the computer, willing the clock to move just a little faster so I could pack up my lunch bag and my laptop and go home.  Not that every day is like this. As with any job there are good days and bad, ups and downs, successes and failures. There was a time when I loved this job. There were new challenges, new opportunities, and excitement about the contribution I could make.  Some of that excitement, that promise, had faded. Was this now just a job, mindless labor? Was I just going through the motions just to collect a paycheck? And, if I am going through the motions, what’s the point?
Finally, the long work week is over. Time to do what I want to do. Sleep in, read a good book, maybe see a movie with the family, ride my bike, take it easy. Oh yeah, then there’s that church thing. Gotta do that. Oh, and maybe a little extra time (emphasis on ‘little’) Bible Study and Prayer. Hmmm....
There was a time when that church thing, that Bible Study and prayer thing, would have ranked a little higher, no, a lot higher on my list of desirable things to do ‘on my own time’. I guess some of the excitement, some of the enthusiasm for those things had waned over the years. Had my faith simply become my religion? Had my first love become my 4th, 5th or 6th obligation? Was I just going through the motions, because that’s what people who call themselves Christians are supposed to do, mark off our ‘spiritual to-do lists’ so we can get on guilt free with the things we really want to do with our free time? Has my faith become like going to work?
In Revelation 2:1-5 Jesus, through the apostle John, says to the Ephesian church, after praising them for their labour in the faith, tells them: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
The Ephesian church was getting some things right, doing a lot of the right things, but there was something missing, they were just going through the motions. What should have been a labor of love, had become just labor.
Jesus, loving as He is, doesn’t just leave them hanging with no solutions. He provides a two step solution.
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent.”
Step 1: Remember what an awesome blessing it is to know Him. Remember that, of all the firsts I have ever experienced or will ever experience, this first love is by far the greatest. If I truly appreciate it for the blessing it is, my excitement for it should never be allowed to wane.
Step 2: Repent and do the first works.
My wife and I read a book by Gary Smalley when we were first married. It was called Love is a Decision. I highly recommend it for any new couple. Basically, the message of the book is that love between a husband and wife is not simply an emotional sense of well being, a feeling. Love, true love, is a conscious decision we make, to love the other person through good times and bad, when we feel like it and when we don't, because, as anyone who has been married for more than five years will tell you, sometimes you just don’t. Love that is based on emotion will be shallow, inconsistent, and disillusioning. Love based on a decision, in contrast, will grow richer and deeper over time. It will see its way through the hard times, the mundane times, the hurtful times. The highs will be higher and the lows will be not so low.
I think that is what Jesus is telling the Ephesians and us by extension. He’s saying in effect, “So you just don’t feel the same excitement about Me as you once did? So what! My relationship with you isn’t based on your feeling. Make a decision to love Me like you did when our relationship first began. Put your faith, put Me first. Do the first works.”  You know what, over time, your love for Me will grow richer and deeper. It will survive the tests and trials. The good times and the bad. The disappointments. The lows won’t be quite so low and the highs....well, you can’t even imagine!
Hmmm... Suddenly I’m even more excited the Sabbath has arrived. Time to invest in that decision.
Maybe I’ll pick up the pace on that project at work next week, too.

The Teacher (Children of God)

We think of Jesus as our Savior – and that is true. He is also called Redeemer, Lord, Master, and Deliverer among other titles in the Scriptures. There are so many roles that He fulfilled. He came so that we might obtain forgiveness. He taught repentance. He made reconciliation to the Father possible. He came to magnify the law. Jesus Christ came as Messiah. The list goes on and on.
We do not often emphasize it, and it might come as a surprise to some, but the Bible regards Jesus as a teacher more than any of His other roles. There are more references to Him being a teacher than any of the others. Jesus came not only to save, but to teach us how to be saved (Luke 10:28). The teachings of Christ were effective and had great impact.
“The [Pharisees] sent their disciples out unto [Jesus] along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that thou art true, and teach the way of God in truth.” (Matthew 22:16)
What an incredible admission of what the Pharisees actually believed – that Jesus was indeed a teacher. Jesus became widely known as The Teacher (Matthew 26:18). A teacher is one who has the ability to help others learn. Teaching is showing or explaining how to do something by giving lessons.
Nicodemus said it best when he called Jesus “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). Jesus always taught by His words and His actions – even in Old Testament times.  Jesus Christ - God of the Old Testament - was the Teacher.
“Moses said unto the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue… And the Lord said unto him…, Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say… And thou shalt speak unto [Aaron], and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do’.” (Exodus 4:10-15)
In the New Testament Jesus defined Himself as Lord and Teacher. “Ye call me Teacher and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” (John 13:13) But the teachings that Jesus taught were not His own. The teachings that Jesus taught came directly from God the Father. “Jesus said unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)
In this Sabbath sermon we will see that Jesus is The Teacher - past present and future. Jesus will be the teacher in the millennial World Tomorrow.
“It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem’.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)

Ned Kelly (OzWitness)

There would be few Australians who have not at least some affection for this complex character. Kelly has assumed epic proportions in the Australian psyche, perhaps because he had qualities Australians admire.
Yes, he was a common criminal, but as a larrikin, loyal to his family and ready to sacrifice himself for his mates, and one of the struggling classes, of Irish descent who had valid reason to dislike the English authorities, he was prepared to thumb his nose at the establishment, and he was fearless.
This inbred suspicion of the establishment among Australians still lives today, and is continually justified by the faults and failings of those who claim to serve us, but are often seen as grasping for power and greedy for personal gain.
The fact is that none of us is perfect and very few are totally without these traits. Even in those churches Jesus Christ spoke of in Revelation chapters 2 & 3 as His churches, we see listed very serious faults, and so it is today in most churches, where members should rightly be sceptical of their leaders. Acts 17:11, ‘Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’
That is because we all have human nature and, while we may set out altruistically, gaining position and power can corrupt, so that we should always remember that, as Christians, we must look directly to Jesus Christ, His words and example, not to any man, be he pope, president, prophet or pastor, or risk being misled, and lose our reward. 1 Peter 2:21, ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’

Love and Law (New Horizons)

Since man’s creation Jehovah has had those who worship and serve Him in accordance with His prescribed form of worship, have conformed to His Laws and whose heart is right with Him. Even in the dark depths of Israel’s depraved idolatry there remained ‘...seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal’ (Romans 11:4).
The Old Testament records that many in Israel worshipped Him joyfully, influenced by His holy spirit. But on His prescribed days, at the times and place He had revealed, and in a right spirit of repentance and awe. The book of Psalms reflects this. Yet by New Testament standards they had not been ‘converted’, with God’s Spirit implanted in their mind.
Paul reminds us that: ‘Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which does those things shall live by them’ (Romans 10:5, Leviticus 18:5). Perfect life-long obedience to the whole Law has abundant rewards, but however feasible, that doesn’t happen! And even if someone were to achieve such a perfect life (Adam didn’t!), God says: ‘...by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight’ (Romans 3:20). For, ‘...by the law is the knowledge of sin’. The Law just points out what sin is, so we can work to change our thoughts and actions.

So, is someone who diligently and daily applies the Law to his or her life as best they can necessarily a true child of God? Do you need God’s in-dwelling Spirit to observe it? (There are, for example many Law-abiding men and women in the Jewish community.) The example of those seven thousand belies this! Remember that at that time ‘The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory’ (John 7:39).
As Paul states ‘...love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans 13:10). Certainly, the preeminent fruit of the Spirit is love. Perfect love is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit in the believer, and means we do from the heart all that God’s Law requires of us. Because we may obey God’s instructions doesn't mean we truly love! A change of heart is central.
Each of us is judged by Jesus Christ with compassion, with regard to our level of understanding, with mercy. For, ‘...we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4: 14-16).
As writes the apostle Paul: ‘... be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God’ (Romans 12:2).

Go Ye Therefore Into All the World”

(Lacee Hilgen, Volunteer Instructor Legacy Institute)
I know this scripture was directed specifically to the apostles, and Jesus Christ wanted them to be the ones to preach His truth. But what does it mean to those who aren’t ministers? What does it mean to children and young adults? What does it mean to women who don’t have a speaking or ministerial role in the church? Does that mean that we can’t go and preach the gospel? How can we preach without preaching? I have been asking myself these questions for a while.
Jesus tells the apostles to GO OUT. He doesn’t tell them to hang out where the truth was already stable and flourishing. There were already churches that were able to function on their own because of Christ and the apostles preaching. Their job was done and they then left those congregations in the hands of faithful and devout men. He told them to leave the foundation that they had built together and go find somewhere new. He told them to go and find new people to preach to and to share God’s plan to other willing hearts and ears.
I look at a map and see just how huge this world is. I see how many places that the gospel could potentially be preached to. I know it is all up to God. The men and women who dedicate their lives to live in a different country (or preach in another country and travel tons) in order to build up a strong, faithful and unified congregation are now one of my greatest respects. They have been chosen by God to uproot their stable and comfy lives in order to create a stable and comfy church for brethren that couldn’t possibly have it without help from a more blessed nation. Those that accept the challenge are my heroes!
I am a 25 year old lady-girl (saying lady is weird and saying girl is weird because I am technically an adult… and woman makes me sound extra adult) with little travel experience. I have traveled all over America and into Canada and Mexico a few times, so when I felt God pushing me to come to Thailand, I resisted at first. I actually resisted for a whole year. It was a very scary thought, but thankfully I accepted the challenge and here I sit in Mae Sa, Thailand… a small and peaceful village 20 minutes outside the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai. At this moment I am witnessing God’s endless miracles, blessings, compassion and His holy spirit working in amazing ways. Legacy continues to get money from donors from other countries and we all are very pleased and ridiculously thankful. Without those donations, Legacy wouldn’t exist anymore. Legacy couldn’t have a school, couldn’t feed the students, couldn’t house the students and most importantly, the church in Burma would lack leaders who will one day be leaders in that church. My point here isn’t to advertise the fact that Legacy needs to continue to have donations; it’s the fact that what I see is a church that is truly working! God is calling people! They LOVE God’s word and they thrive on it. They want more and more. They constantly want to learn. God’s congregation in Burma (which I get to visit in April for the Holy Days, God willing) has 25 families. Families have children, lots of children! Will those children have a future? Will they know God’s truth and live a life for Him? Will they live lives free from the war and upheaval that exists in Burma? It’s crucial that our small congregations all over the world remain intact. It’s our job and our responsibility. It’s important that they are well sustained and cared for. It’s important that each congregation has well trained leaders, who love God first and their brethren second. It takes time to train leaders to be in charge of a church community, and that’s what Legacy is here for.
If we aren’t trained ministers, how can we “Go therefore into ALL the world?” I have a few ideas. We can donate to these small churches that need our help to build a church, a house, to have clean water and food daily. We can sponsor a young adult to go and serve in countries who need our help, encouragement, resources and EXAMPLE. Go visit during the Feast of Tabernacles and Days of Unleavened Bread. (Your life will change) If you are on vacation or a business trip in a foreign country, go and stop in on the Sabbath. I think the most important job that we all have is to PRAY. Pray that all the places that God is seeking out and calling people that He will call on special people to take on that job and duty to be there for that church community. Pray that these people will answer that calling and they are willing to give up their life for serving God and His people. Times are changing everywhere on the globe. Life is getting harder and the world is getting more evil and God has many people on this earth with eager ears to hear His word. Those of us that are blessed to know God’s truth already… well we should try to listen to what God wants us to do for Him through our lives in order to help others join us as FIRST fruits in His Kingdom.

Throwing It All Away (First Century Christianity)

I saw Franklin Graham on the TV the other day defending Christmas, and a break up song from the late 1980s came to mind. The song is ‘Throwing It All Away’ by Genesis. It’s not religious at all, but the chorus of that song has been resonating in my head lately as more and more formerly Protestant ministers show up on TV returning to their Catholic roots.
We are now in the season for Chanukah, which is a season of revival. The Jews had been occupied and oppressed for so long that many of them turned into Greeks. Many did things to hide or reverse their circumcision, so they could wrestle nude in public arenas called gymnasiums. They had fallen away incredibly far.
One Levite named Mattathias witnessed the defilement of the altar and snapped. He killed the man who defiled the altar and then had to flee to the hills, which started a revolution that allowed Judea to ultimately become autonomous and peaceful again, with a fully restored and cleansed temple. This reformation lasted until the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
The work of the Christian Reformation in the 16th century, where hundreds of thousands threw off the pagan traditions and oppression of the Roman Catholic Church, held until, well, now. We are living in a period I like to call ‘Post Protestant America’. While the reformers did not return to Torah, they did return to fundamental truths and a great many shed Christmas and Easter, paying for it with their very lives. The leaders who trace their faith today to the reformation, what is now called ‘Evangelical’ rather than ‘Protestant’, are throwing it all away.
Rick Warren, a fabulously popular Baptist preacher (Baptists, from the Anabaptists, some of the most strident Protestants in history), is actually evangelizing for the Catholic Church.
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, and Robert Jeffress, also Baptist preachers with large followings, frequently defend Christmas on the Fox News Channel, even though they know both that Yeshua was not born in winter and the true pagan history of Christmas. Kirk Cameron has even made a movie defending Christmas, while publicly stating that Christmas is in opposition to the Bible and pagan in nature.
The Seventh Day Adventists, the largest Sabbath observing group on earth at over 18 million members (there are only 13.5 million Jews on earth), is throwing it all away with widespread observance of Christmas (unthinkable just twenty years ago) and now entertaining the ordination of women as well.  This is particularly bizarre because the Seventh Day Adventist Church views Ellen G. White as a prophet and she refused ordination on the basis that ordaining women is not supported by scripture.
The Seventh Day Adventist church is a strident observer of the 4th commandment and they have been blessed with private schools and hospitals on at least three continents because of their obedience. The Baptists have also been rewarded lavishly for their faith with enormous congregations, hospitals, and the ability to do good works on the order of rebuilding entire countries. The successes these and many other groups have today are because of the strident faith of their predecessors displayed through works. Why are the leaders of these organizations so willing to throw it all away? It is a shame. It has been prophesied, so it must happen, but it is so difficult to watch.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7
This falling away is made even more bizarre because the motivation simply cannot be about wealth. The Baptist preachers named above are but a handful of Post-Protestant ministers who have made enormous amounts of money giving sermons. The Seventh Day Adventist church is simply going to disintegrate, or at least split and become smaller if it continues down a similar path as the Sunday keepers, because it is composed of conservative people.
There seems to be no good reason why the spiritual leaders are so cavalierly willing to ‘throw it all away’. But let us take solace that there is coming a time, quicker and quicker by the day, were every tongue will confess and every knee will bow to the One True God and His Son.

Time to Stop Praying? (Morning Companion)

One time God told Moses to stop praying. If we accept that prayer is a good thing, why would God tell someone to cut it out?
“Why are you crying out to me?” (Exodus 14:15). Given the circumstances, I would think the question should be, “Why not?”
Here’s the story. Moses had just led Israel out of Egypt. Through his hand God had turned the Nile into blood, brought many plagues on the Egyptians, and with boldness he had led the nation to freedom. Now, shortly after this triumphant march from slavery, Pharaoh has a change of heart and decides to chase down the fleeing masses with his infantry and chariots in order to drive them back to their former state.
Why shouldn’t Moses cry out to God? Why would God object?
In this is a lesson about prayer. The newly freed Israelites had already cried out to God (verse 10), after which Moses tells them to do something: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (verse 13). There are indeed times when all we can do is stand still and wait. As the old saying goes, “Let go, and let God.” But in spite of appearances this was apparently not one of those times.
Thus God says to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me?” And then he says, “Tell the children of Israel to go forward” (verse 15). It is time to get off your knees and into your hiking boots. Tell the people the time for standing still is over. Now is the time to do something about your situation.
We can make two grave mistakes regarding prayer. One is to think that we can get along just fine without God’s help. If we just work hard enough, sweat hard enough, and think clearly enough, we can make all the right things happen. I can put on my boots and fight my own way through the wilderness.
Or we can make the other mistake. There is something to be said for waiting on God, “standing still”, shall we say. It’s true that in some circumstances God’s strength is revealed through our weaknesses. But simply sitting in our pajamas while waiting for God can be just as bad as thinking we can do it all on our own. Most of the time God expects us to be actively involved in carrying out his will. “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”
God could not have led them through the Red Sea had they had just stood still and waited.