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The Secret Iran Deal - what they are hiding from you!
(Standing Watch) (14
min. video)

Potato Salad & Other Reasons for Going to Church (Sabbath Meditations)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this thing we call church. Why do we go to church anyway? After all, it’s sometimes a lot to put up with isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, there are the good things, the things we enjoy. But, there’s also a lot of stuff we could just do without, isn’t there? There's the elder who tries to fool everyone with his show of piety, when you know full well he’s anything but that; there’s the well-meaning elder who, bless his heart, couldn’t give a cohesive sermon to save his life; and then there’s the monthly church potluck, an event filled with culinary land-mines of meat dishes of questionable origin and potato salad teetering too close to the edge of rancidity for comfort. The list could go on and on ... the gossip, the posturing, the power trips, the hypocrisy.
All of this and more begs the question, ‘Is it all really worth it?’ Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay in our own world, carry on our own private Bible study, our own personal worship service, have our own private religion between just us and God? You have to admit, sometimes it would be a lot less of a hassle, wouldn’t it? So, why do we do this church thing? Well, there's the obvious answer. God says do it. There’s that pesky little scripture that tells us, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” But why?
My sister called me the other day. There’s a handful of states separating us physically and we’re both not that great at phone conversation so, when she called me, after several months of not hearing from her, I knew something important was on her mind. She had stopped attending church as a teenager sometime back in the early 1980s, ditching it along with pretty much everything else having to do with religion, in favor of going out to ‘find herself’. Now, twenty or so years later, she realizes that she had, in fact, left a very huge and important part of who she was behind. She asked me a lot of questions during the course of our conversation, but they could all pretty much could be summed up as: “How can I find my way back?”
There were so many things I could have told her. I could have explained the importance of repentance and faith. I could have encouraged her to get into her Bible and get on her knees. But that’s not what I led with. Not that she doesn’t need, at some point, to do these things. She does. I just didn’t feel it was where she needed to start. So, what did I encourage her to do? Get to church.
Sure, she could have studied on her own, prayed on her own, been nourished in her faith on her own, but that is just not how God wants us to walk in relationship with Him ... on our own. He wants us to be connected to others, to be in an environment where we can support, encourage and carry one another’s burdens, and yes, put up with one another’s imperfections and baggage. It’s all part of the package.
In the western world we are conditioned to believe in the ‘pull yourself up by your own boot straps’ mentality.  We embrace the ideal of ‘rugged individualism’. We are a very individualistic centered society. It’s so easy to bring that mentality into our walk with God. The problem is God really isn’t all that into the ‘individual’. In His word, there just isn’t a whole lot of focus on the ‘me’, the ‘I’ of our faith. Rather, the focus throughout is on the ‘we, the ‘us’, the community of believers. Yes, we come to Him individually in repentance and faith, yes, we are individually restored to a relationship with Him. But, after having been individually restored, we then lay down our lives, our individual identities, and are placed into a community of believers, into the body as it pleases Him.
Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah, says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Ephesians 2:19-22 tells us, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
We are His ‘people’ (plural). We are ‘fellow’ (not individual) citizens. We are ‘members (plural) of the household of God’. We are ‘fitted together’. We are being ‘built together (not separately)’. Not much gets built if the bricks are all scattered around doing their own thing.
The bottom line is, as I expressed to my sister, God doesn’t want our faith to be about only ‘my’ walk and ‘my’ relationship with Him. He wants our walk of faith to be outward, focused on the ‘us’, ‘our’ walk together. He wants us to get outside of ourselves and get connected to the body. Serving each other, encouraging one another, building one another up, and collectively witnessing and ministering to a world that desperately needs it.
I told my sister that I would pray that God would continue to work in her heart to return her to that community some day. Yes, she’ll be returning to some hassles. There will always be hypocrisy. There will be one or two annoying ‘super’ deacons. It’s sure she’ll hear the occasional boring sermon. And, unfortunately, the need to keep a keen eye out for rancid potato salad will never go away. But all of those hassles pale in comparison to the sense of shared purpose and community that doing this life together will bring her.
As we said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone, it hit me what a blessing it is to be there already. I wonder what the mystery meat will be this Sabbath ...

Insight from Paul (New Horizons)
The apostle Paul’s letters shed a bright light on our walk with God. Many Christians are all at sea when it comes to their understanding of the Christian Scriptures -because they remain unread. The apostle has some useful thoughts on this.
Paul is firmly anchored in the writings of the Old Testament. He is proud to acknowledge his roots: ‘brought up in this city [Tarsus] at the feet of Gamaliel, having been trained according to the exactness of the ancestral law, being a zealous one of God, even as you all are today’ (Acts 22:3). He was later moved to re-state his zeal for the Scriptures before Governor Felix: ‘believing all things according to that having been written in the Law and the Prophets’ (24:14).
Paul’s zeal for the written Scriptures wasn’t just theoretical, for it was the structure on which he based his life and his Gospel outreach. In Rome his preaching involved ‘persuading them the things concerning Jesus, both from the Law of Moses and the Prophets’ (ch.28:23). When in Thessalonica: ‘according to [his] custom, he went in to them and reasoned with them from the Scriptures on three Sabbaths’ (Acts 17:2).
Recall, of course, that at that time there was no other Scripture than the ‘Old’ Testament. In writing to the young Timothy he recounts: ‘from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 3:15). Indeed it has been estimated that he quotes the Old Testament some one hundred and eighty times, with many other references to people, places and events associated with Israel.
The apostle knew that: ‘All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, being fully furnished for every good work’ (vv.16-17). The Scriptures inspired his every action. He lived what was written in them. Citing historical events recorded in the Scriptures he says: ‘All these things happened to those [in Israel] as examples, and it was written for our warning, on whom the ends of the ages have come’ (I Corinthians 10:11). That means recorded for us!
Israel sank into idolatry, abandoning the Sabbath and holy days. Have we? They absorbed the culture of the heathen in their midst. Have we, in our ‘Christian’ society, also succumbed? Only through the Scriptures can we come to understand both the form of true Christianity and what it means in our day-to-day life.
Paul’s diarist notes of the Bereans (recently evangelized by Paul): ‘They gladly accepted the message. Day after day they studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true. Many of them put their faith in the Lord’ (Acts 17:11). To come to an understanding and acceptance of the Gospel, to learn what God expects of us, to truly grow in grace and knowledge of Christ - we need to daily immerse ourselves in His inspired Word.

Are You in the ‘One True Church’? (First Century Christianity)

The ‘One True Church’ is a congregation or denomination built on exclusivity. Nobody outside of this group is going to make it to the Kingdom. While I was not in the ‘One True Church’ that most Sabbath and Holy Day Believers were in, I was in two different churches that considered themselves the ‘One True Church’. Now that I have been in a congregation that would never consider itself the ‘One True Church’ for a few years, I can see how easy it was to fall into such a faulty and pompous attitude that somehow ‘the truth’ is only available to a choice few. So, here are some bullet points (in no particular order) on how one can know if one is in the ‘One True Church’.

You might be in the ‘One True Church’ IF:
• you have to take courses or accept ‘settled’ doctrine;
• the ministry has the perceived authority to dictate where you can work;
• your church constantly demeans another specific church as being one of the beasts of prophecy;
• you have to show the church your earning statements so they can verify you are donating enough;
• you have to schedule visits with your non-‘One True Church’ member friends and families to make sure your minister won’t know you are visiting them;
• you have to use the ‘One True Church’ approved Bible version and/or concordance;
• your church building has no windows;
• your church meets in a rented hall and won’t tell anyone who is not a member where the hall is;
• your church references someone as a prophet who is just a good Bible scholar;
• your church references and old member/founder of said church in the present tense;
• your church has teachings that they won’t write down;
• you get ostracized for questioning your church’s doctrine;
• you never hear a minister or elder say “I don’t know”;
• all decisions have to go through a board that you are not allowed to serve on or witness;
• your donations go to a conference and is not handled by the local congregation;
• your minister preaches asceticism but owns aircraft;
• your church preaches that it replaces Israel;
• people have to be ‘approved’ even just to offer a prayer or lead songs.
OK, I’m sure I forgot some.

To Whom Should We Turn? (Morning Companion)

(A friend sent me this sermon transcript a while back ... source unknown ... whatever the case, I like the sentiment.)
We see in Genesis 47:13-27 that economic hard times fell upon Egypt , and the people turned to the government of Pharaoh to deal with this for them. And Pharaoh nationalized the grain harvest, and placed the grain in great storehouses that he had built. So the people brought their money to Pharaoh, like a great tax increase, and gave it all to him willingly in return for grain. And this went on until their money ran out, and they were hungry again. So when they went to Pharaoh after that, they brought their livestock - their cattle, their horses, their sheep, and their donkeys - to barter for grain, and verse 17 says that only took them through to the end of that year.
But the famine wasn’t over, was it? So the next year, the people came before Pharaoh and admitted they had nothing left, except their land and their own lives. “There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh.” So they surrendered their homes, their land, and their real estate to Pharaoh’s government, and then sold themselves into slavery to him, in return for grain.
What can we learn from this, brothers and sisters? That turning to the government instead of to God to be our provider in hard times only leads to slavery? Yes. That the only reason government wants to be our provider is to also become our master? Yes. But look how that passage ends!

“Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt , in the land of Goshen ... and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” God provided for His people, just as He always has! They didn’t end up giving all their possessions to government, no, it says they gained possessions!
But I also tell you a great truth today, and an ominous one. We see the same thing happening today - the government today wants to ‘share the wealth’ once again, to take it from us and redistribute it back to us. It wants to take control of health care, just as it has taken control of education, and ration it back to us, and when government rations it, then government decides who gets it, and how much, and what kind. And if we go along with it, and do it willingly, then we will wind up no differently than the people of Egypt did 4000 years ago - as slaves to the government, and as slaves to our leaders.
What Mr. Obama’s government is doing now is no different from what Pharaoh’s government did then, and it will end the same. And a lot of people called Mr. Obama a ‘Messiah’, didn’t they? Is he a Messiah? A savior? Didn’t the Egyptians say, after Pharaoh made them his slaves, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh”?
Well, I tell you this - I know the Messiah; the Messiah is a friend of mine; and Mr. Obama is no Messiah! No, brothers and sisters, if Mr. Obama is a character from the Bible, then he is Pharaoh.

Bow with me in prayer, if you will. Lord, You alone are worthy to be served, and we rely on You, and You alone. We confess that the government is not our deliverer, and never rightly will be.

We read in the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel, when Samuel warned the people of what a ruler would do, where it says, “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

And Lord, we acknowledge that day has come. We cry out to you because of the ruler that we have chosen for ourselves as a nation. Lord, we pray for this nation. We pray for revival, and we pray for deliverance from those who would be our masters. Give us hearts to seek You and hands to serve You, and protect Your people from the atrocities of Pharaoh’s government.

In God We Trust.
Online comment from douglasyo:
“I think the same principle applies to church government. We should serve God, and not a church or its leaders. If there is a conflict between the two, our choice should be clear. If we look to the church leaders to do the work, we will be serving them instead of God. If we look to a church leader or a church organization to save us, we have rejected Jesus as savior. Men have the propensity to abuse power, even with the best intentions, thus Jesus’s admonition that “you should not have authority over them.”

Creator God (Children of God)

We find ourselves living in an increasingly Godless society.  Way down deep I still believe that there are many people who lament the direction in which our nation is headed.  When I watch the evening news anchorman, and then compare his thoughts, ideology and philosophy with those of my neighbors, it is clear that their views are diametrically opposed. There is definitely a powerful movement in government, media, and even in our schools to ‘liberate’ everyday Americans from anything and everything having to do with our Creator God.

There is a concerted effort to assail everything having to do with morality, virtue, goodness and decency, and consign them to the past. Cheating, crime, Godlessness, abuse and unfaithfulness are winked at and considered to be personal choices and rights of every citizen. Appreciation for the countless blessings that have been bestowed on this once-great country are becoming a thing of the past. We find ourselves in a society filled with iniquity that Jesus describes as being, “Like the days of Noah before the flood.”

God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.”

(Genesis 6:5, Matthew 24:37-38)

Our nation is rapidly turning away from, and forgetting our Creator God. Who today relies on the word of God in the conduct of their daily business? Who yet believes that the Bible is the true word of God in writing? Every time someone is thrust into the public eye, if they profess a semblance of Christianity, they are relegated to the status of foolish buffoons by the press. ‘Political Correctness’ demands that religious people be treated as though they were backward, uninformed and even dangerous to themselves and society. Surely, the status of our culture today mimics that of ancient Israel as they were about to be carried away into captivity and lost from the view of the world. Israel went into captivity and bondage because they forsook God’s Sabbath and turned to other gods. The tribe of Judah went into captivity a hundred and twenty years after Israel did – and for the very same reasons – they forgot their Creator God.

Ours is a very hostile environment in which to preach the Gospel message of the soon coming Kingdom of God to be established on earth. And yet God is calling a few at this eleventh hour into assemblies in which they are able to grow spiritually and become His children (Matthew 20:1-16). They must learn that the word of God is the foundation of knowledge, because that is the only basis on which to build a Godly life. It is only within the pages of Scripture that they will find the proper tools to erect the structure of a Christian life. Those tools are God’s spiritual principles that are to be sought out and used daily. God’s principles are for our use today – and not reserved just for the Kingdom of God tomorrow.

Do we really comprehend how great our Creator God is? He is so much greater than the vast majority of mankind supposes. God’s word reveals that God's greatness is too wonderful for man's heart. God knows our every thought. God is not somewhat like a man that we might contend with Him, because His power is limitless and He is all knowing (Numbers 23:19). He is not mocked by those with ulterior motives (Galatians 6:7).

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)

The vast limitless outer space of the universe with its billions of years of time gone by attest to how immeasurably great our Creator God is. Likewise the deep inner space of the sub atomic world of unfathomable matter is evidence of how impossible it is for man to compare himself to our Loving Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom He created all things.

[God the Father] has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He [created] the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding [the universe] by the word of His power, when He had purged sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:2-3)

Jesus has revealed Himself as Creator God so that we might know and stand in awe of Him.

Islamic Deception (OzWitness)

Have you ever wondered why the so called ‘religion of peace’ is associated with such horrific violence and barbarism? That is, despite our politicians continuously telling us that those black garbed Islamic terrorists known as ISIS or ISIL, are not connected in any way to the Islamic ‘holy’ book the Koran?
Some of our leaders, like David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, even claim to have read the book, so why have they not seen this verse – Surah 14:22. The message of this verse is plain in its context, which is about the future Judgement Day for all men, when, says the Koran, Satan will address all Muslims: “Satan will say …God gave you a true promise. I too made promises [in the Koran] but they were false ones. I had no power over you except to call you, and you responded to my call, so do not blame me, blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I reject the way you associated me with God before. For wrong doers there must be a Grievous Penalty.” – The Koran, Surah 14:22.
Yes, there is a Judgement Day coming to all people and only then will Muslims understand and accept that they have been deceived by the Koran, which Satan, not the archangel Gabriel, gave to Mohammed in that cave in which he was meditating.
The reference here in this verse to a ‘grievous penalty’ is to the Lake of Fire, the penalty set aside for Satan.

Revelation 20:10‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone, ... and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.’

If Muslims were to actually read the Bible, which the Koran clearly admits is the word of God, they would understand that Satan has the whole world deceived, including almost all of Christianity.
Revelation 12:9‘and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels [fallen angels or demons] were cast out with him.’