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Will Germany Fill the Military Void? (Standing Watch) 11

Killer Psalms (New Horizons)

‘Love your enemy’ said Jesus. Yet about 10% of the Holy Spirit inspired Psalms are so-called ‘imprecatory’, suggesting a degree of displeasure by their writer with certain people.
Psalm 5, for example: ‘Condemn and punish [my enemies] O God; may their own plots cause their ruin. Drive them out of your presence because of their many sins and their rebellion against you’.

Or, ‘May they be like snails that dissolve into slime; may they be like a baby born dead that never sees the light’ (58:8).
Gruesome! Is this compatible with the Christian ethic?
Against the usual Christian background of ‘Old Testament bad, New good’, it poses a dilemma. Yet when we understand man’s proper relationship with God as a deviant subject of the all-powerful Creator who has a timeless plan for His kosmos, then the fact that God ‘kills and makes alive’ is clearly part of that perfect plan:

‘I, and I alone, am God; no other god is real. I kill and I give life, I wound and I heal, and no one can oppose what I do’ (Deuteronomy 32:39).
The sentiment expressed in these Psalms gives vent to the horror with which God - and, surely, His own people - reacts to the terrible evil in our world.

We (ought to) feel with the Psalmist, but we leave the ‘vengeance’ to our loving God to deal with (Romans 12:19-20).

Learning from the Past (Sabbath Meditations)

Someone once said that in life we have two choices. We can learn from the past or be doomed to repeat it. It’s good advice. Individually and collectively we must learn the lessons of history if we are to avoid the traps and pitfalls into which others before us or perhaps we ourselves have fallen. It’s advice, though, that should be taken with caution, for the line between learning from the past and being a victim of it is thin indeed.
We might know of someone for whom past experience has soured current aspects of their life. It may be the person who, because of one or several failed romantic relationships, has exiled themselves to a life of loneliness, refusing to risk further emotional trauma. Or it could be the person who, having been raised in an abusive childhood, determines never to bring children of their own into such a potentially painful world.
Whatever the hurts and injustices we’ve suffered or witnessed in the past, living in it rather than using it as a tutor to guide ourselves or others to a more successful future, makes us its victim.
I believe that we, as Christians, perhaps more than most, have a tendency to fall into this trap. We as a group have very sensitive noses for justice. We are keenly aware of right and wrong and we have a definite desire to see righteousness prevail and evil punished. Although a desirable quality in most cases, this sensitivity has the potential to work against us. In a world where evil often emerges victorious and injustices are a daily occurrence, our spirits can easily become embittered, cynical and negative. Allowed to linger, this fixation on the injustices of the world can ultimately serve to rob us of our joy and inhibit our growth forward. We become victims of the past rather than its students.
In Philippians 3:12 through the example of Paul, we are admonished to forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead.
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Taken together, these passages encourage us not to let the past cripple us, but rather gain wisdom from the injustices we or others have witnessed or experienced, and use that wisdom to move forward in a positive, productive direction.
God wants us to look ahead to Him as the Author and Finisher of our faith and toward what He has in store for us. We can’t do that if we are constantly obsessed by what’s back over our shoulder.
Yes, it’s true. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. We shouldn’t ignore the past. Let’s learn from it, gain wisdom because of it, but not be victimized by it. It’s okay to visit there once in a while but it’s definitely not a place in which we should live.

In Praise of the Dandelion (Morning Companion)
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ (Matt.13:24-30 NKJ)
I spend a lot of time every Spring and Summer digging up weeds from my lawn and mulching them in my garden. The weed I dig up the most is the dandelion. It and its pretty yellow flowers just don’t belong in my front yard.
Still, the parable of the wheat and the tares reminds me of the dandelion. When God made the dandelion, he said it was good. When I see one, I can’t wait to yank it out, put it into a bucket, and turn it into fertilizer.
All because it’s growing where I don’t want it to grow. So let’s sing praises to the dandelion.
Its bright, cheery flower brings variety to a drab, green lawn.
Its leaves are full of iron and other nutrients and in some quarters are considered a delicacy.
Its sap is a fool-proof anesthetic for mosquito bites, and its roots, when steeped, make a nutritious tea.
And you can even make dandelion wine.
I call the dandelion a weed, because it grows where I don’t think it should grow. If I were to grow them in my garden on purpose, I would call them a crop. Growing where they grow, I change one letter in what I call them and treat them accordingly.
So when the man who sowed the good seed instructed his servants to let tares grow together with the wheat, it might be because you and I who are laboring in the fields cannot tell the good from the bad. We might think one is a tare because it is growing where we think it ought not. Or maybe it doesn’t look the way we think it should look.
Or maybe we don’t see the value and potential of one who is despised.
When God made the dandelion, he called it good. So to the Father who made the dandelion - and each one of us - here’s a toast to you, offered with a glass of dandelion wine.

No Gods Before Me (Children of God)

Every day we are faced with making decisions of “right” or “wrong.” How can we be sure that we are pleasing in God’s sight? “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22)
When we live by God’s rule – defined by His Law and Commands – we can be sure that we are acting on His behalf. However, any time we infringe upon any of God’s laws, statutes, judgments or perfect way, we have stepped away from His sanction. We are no longer acting on His behalf; no matter how important and highly regarded we might think we are.
Because of certain men who have crept in unawares over the years, there has been a great deal of confusion over the issue of who is the head of the Church (Jude 4). The difficulty arises primarily because of a misuse of the word, ‘church’. The Church of God is not a physical organization – but a spiritual entity, the called out body of true believers – the Body of Christ.  Corporate organizations are ruled by men, whereas the Church of God answers directly to Jesus Christ - the head of the Church.
In the second half of the last century, the Gospel message went to the world with great power.  Many people were converted and learned the true doctrines of Jesus Christ.  But, at the same time, many brethren suffered to one degree or another from the heavy hand of wrong leadership. When the apostasy came after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, many brethren had great difficulty deciding what to do. Over half of the people made the mistake of remaining loyal to the Worldwide Church of God. They had learned to be loyal to men and their organization. As a result, they accepted its heresies, and discarded their devotion to God and His truth. They did not know how to remain faithful to God and His Word.
Have we not learned our lesson? Some corporate church organizations have fallen back into the same idolatrous trap of putting loyalty to men and organizations ahead of loyalty to God. The answer is not to love an organization, but to love God and one another. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death ... Hereby perceive we the love of God.” (1 John 3:14,16)
Many brethren have suffered abuse or neglect at the hand of a hireling minister causing them to be less inclined to trust any other minister. Brethren were taught incorrectly that the minister could rule over their lives and that, if he made a mistake, it really was not a mistake, because God would set it right. One minister preached that he could do whatever he wanted, because he was the Pastor.  Ministers made decisions in families’ lives that should only have been made by the head of the family. Too many ministers taught that their decisions, whether good or bad, were sanctioned by God Himself because of the authority invested in them.
No minister is ever above God’s law. Whenever a minister sins, he acts on his own. He does not have God’s approval. His counsel will not be blessed. God’s administration of His Law, which begins with God the Father and flows down through Jesus Christ, extends to every member of the entire body of the Church of God – but not through any minister. Not even if that minister claims to have received the baton, or the mantle of authority, and subsequently thinks that he rules over the brethren of the Church in God’s stead. Many brethren have been led to believe that organizational “Church Government” is merely an extension of “God’s Government,” exercised and administered by the ministry. That is not the case. No man is ever permitted to change God’s counsel.
In the past, there have been many ministers who abused the brethren. Some brethren are still hurt, angry, bitter, and resentful at the Church of God because of the treatment they and their families suffered at the hands of harsh ministers. Those ministers were hard taskmasters who demanded obedience to themselves. Brethren were taught that their salvation was at stake if they did not yield to every whim of the Pastor, because he represented God on earth. That was a false teaching. Other ministers tacitly approved of and even supported that ungodly ministerial behavior by turning a blind eye to the evil that was being perpetrated on innocent brethren. Those men who close their eyes to the abuse are more than willing to condone sin and corruption on a ministerial level. They are guilty of iniquity. (Leviticus 5:1).
We have got to get back to the Truth of God. There is no man between a Church member and Jesus Christ.  Our loyalty is to Jesus Christ and His Father – anything less constitutes idolatry. Jesus is our advocate ... “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) Jesus is our mediator ... “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3). That is the rule of God in our lives as His Spirit leads us. Nothing, or no one can supersede that relationship (Romans 8:14). Is there a proper place for the ministry of Jesus Christ? The answer is an unequivocal, Yes!
The apostle Paul said that the work of a minister in the Church is to serve the brethren in Godly love and to feed, nourish, protect, and care for the flock of God. The very last time that Paul saw the elders of Ephesus, he admonished them concerning their responsibility to faithfully serve God and the brethren. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers [guardians], to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
There is a need for ministers of Jesus Christ who preach and teach the Truth ... to counsel according to the word of God ... to marry ... to bury ... to visit the sick and to anoint with oil ... to facilitate the ministry of reconciliation ... to return those who have gone astray ... for the laying on of hands, and baptizing those whom God calls ... and there are Festivals to administer, babies to bless, and the Gospel to warn the world, etc.
The apostle Peter warned the ministers not to use coercion or constraint in their teaching and care of the flock. (1 Peter 5:2)
We are to follow a minister's faith only as it complements and corresponds with the teachings of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). We, the people of God, live by, and are bound by the rules of the Kingdom of God – even now.

Nothing New Under the Sun (First Century Christianity)
‘That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Solomon remains the second wisest man to ever walk the earth. He held the 1st place record for a pretty long time until it was shattered by the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. However, being number 2 in this regard is still sufficient to consider Solomon an authority. I know, I know, in our society ‘number 2’ just means the last person to lose, but in the Bible, that’s not the case. I’m certain Solomon’s self-esteem will be just fine when he is resurrected and learns that his wisdom was actually surpassed and by whom.
Solomon goes on to impart incredible wisdom and philosophy in the book of Ecclesiastes. He speaks of many things being vain pursuits. We can relate to almost all of them and also draw analogies from them into our modern walk.

One of these vain endeavors is attaining great wealth. I don’t know about you, but I would like to experience the vanity of attaining wealth myself just to test this concept. They don’t call it ‘the show-me state’ for nothing!

But I digress. What I want to focus on is how Solomon spent time specifically on books and learning.
‘The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:10-12)

Solomon spent time in the ‘studying and blogging’ phase! But he warns that excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body and endless. This is a phenomenom that happens on no small scale in our circles. I call it ‘studying yourself stupid’.

Many of us land in this stage of the walk and spend considerable time there. It’s intoxicating to keep learning new things and honing and perfecting our faith from an academic perspective. Solomon enjoyed writing and consuming words of truth. One can only imagine the level of wisdom there must have been in the books Solomon studied for him to be impressed by them. But studying is not the destination, it’s a way point on the journey.
Our way of approaching the scriptures is exploding today. A great calling has been heard and thousands of people are coming to the knowledge of the 1st century believers at an astounding pace. This learning is happening largely to people who are all by themselves for a long time with no assembly to visit. Learning takes place with one-way conversations, as many receive information from YouTube (or by listening to mp3 sermons, hint, hint) and never have a chance to bounce those ideas off other believers or enjoy the blessings of a fellowship. This is not where our faith is supposed to land. Take a look at Solomon’s last words of the book:
‘The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
We have been told that the goal of the learning, the earning, and all the other wonderful things articulated by King Solomon is to fear God and keep His commandments. Guess what? Many of those commandments are about having assemblies. Like the whole chapter of Leviticus 23. We’re supposed to get together. This requires action and effort. We have to learn how to get along on a weekly and annual basis. Take a break from the independent studying, brethren. Even Solomon did. Get together, share a meal, discuss some scripture, sing, laugh, pray, listen, console, etc. For in doing this, we keep the commandments and grow as body. And those commandments are not burdensome.

God Is Kind (and He wants you to be too!) (Guardian Ministries)
There are two Greek words translated ‘kindness’ in the New Testament. They are (in a transliteration) ‘chrestotes’ and ‘philanthropia’. The first of these words is used much more often and means ‘moral excellence in character and demeanor, goodness of heart, kindness, and gentleness’.
Look again at these definitions They describe God Himself - ‘moral excellence in character and demeanor’. Is God good? That’s another definition of ‘chrestotes’ - ‘goodness of heart’. Also our English words ‘kindness’ and ‘gentleness’. God is all these in His character. That is why this word is used to describe God. Here’s an example: “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7 NAU).

God grants us His grace in kindness!
In the United States today, we could use more kindness, especially in what has been a tumultuous election year. People get on social media sites and just lambast, insult, name-call, deride and verbally insult others who do not agree with them. Some have had their reputations trashed because they voted differently from others. Friendships have ended over differences of choices of candidates. How sad!
We ought to follow the example of Thomas Jefferson who said: “When I hear another express an opinion which is not mine, I say to myself, he has a right to his opinion, as I to mine.” He gave this advice to his grandson: “Why should I question it (another’s opinion). His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all men by force (or intimidation) of argument to one opinion? Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially in politics.”
The apostle Paul said that the proofs of his ministry were many. He outlines them in 2 Corinthians chapter 6:3-6, “Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.”
Please notice that kindness is one of the proofs Paul cites of his ministry. In his list of the fruit of the spirit Paul mentioned ‘kindness’ (Galatians 5:22).
In order to be a new person in Christ, we have to put off the old man with its evil deeds. And we must put on the new man. One of the things we must put on is ‘kindness’ (Colossians 3:12). In his list of the qualities of love, Paul places kindness. He says, “love is kind” (1Corinthians 13:4). And Proverbs 19:22 says, “What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.”
In counseling with young single people, especially women, I emphasize that one of the most important qualities in a man is kindness.
There is a second Greek word used that is translated kindness. It is ‘philanthropia’, which comes from two Greek words combined. One is ‘phileo’, which means love or deep friendship, and the other is ‘anthropos’. Literally, this Greek word means a love for mankind. Luke tells us in the Book of Acts that the natives of Malta extended kindness (philanthropia) to Paul and the members of the ship who were stranded on that island. See Acts 28:2.
When Paul wrote the letter to Titus, he used both these Greek words in chapter 3:4. “But when the kindness (‘chrestotes’) of God our Savior and his love for mankind (‘philanthropia’) appeared ...” The kindness of God reflects his wonderful character. With that wonderful character God then expresses his love for mankind. God manifested his wonderful qualities and His love for mankind after humans have been foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved the various lusts and pleasures, hateful and hating one another (the opposite of kindness). For more details see Titus 3:3.
Since we are to manifest the fruit of the spirit and are to put on the wonderful qualities of love in the new man, there is no doubt we should have kindness. Kindness is definitely a Christian quality. If you and I are not kind, we are not manifesting the love of God or the fruit of the spirit. There are people who have kindness who are not Christians. But no one can claim to be a Christian who does not have kindness.
You and I must follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, of our God and Father, and in the admonitions of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Famine of the Word (Legacy Institute
The world is changing rapidly. We know that someday there will be a famine of the word. Amos 8:11-12 says: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”
It is a crime in Canada to talk about what God says about homosexuality in the Bible. How long before preachers and televangelists start being imprisoned for so-called “hate speech”? The LGBT and atheist lobbies are gaining in strength daily and any mention of God or Jesus as an important part of the fabric of our Western society is targeted. God must be removed, they say!
A recent PEW research survey shows that an alarming number of Americans are just giving up on God. “Half of Americans who have left their church no longer believe in God, leading a surge of nearly one quarter of the nation who have no affiliation with any religion, according to a new survey.”
For those who have stopped looking for the Word of God, a famine of the Word will not affect them—that is, until they realize they need God and start to seek out those who are preaching and teaching His Holy Word.
Will they find Him? Not if the media, internet and other public forums are all controlled by those who want to erase God out or our Western consciousness.
This famine will affect the whole world, not just the U.S.A. All of us involved in preaching the Gospel to the whole world must step up our efforts to make the Word of God available to many, many more who thirst for the Truth.
It is getting more and more difficult to bring young people from Burma here to Thailand to prepare them to return home and preach the Gospel. Satan always uses governments to squelch the true Gospel message, even if those governments do not even know they are being used as tools of Satan. Satan is the god of this world, never forget!
Legacy cannot and will not stop preaching and teaching the word of God. There is much more work to be done. We may just have to do it in a different way. One door closes and another opens.

Science Catches Up! (OzWitness)

Have you noticed that scientists recently have begun to discover that more long held ‘unscientific’ beliefs which they had scoffed at, have been discovered to be true after all? Today in one newspaper was the news that ‘mother was right after all’. You’ll catch a cold if you don’t put on a coat in winter! Scientists have long claimed that coughs and colds are not caused by a drop in temperature but more likely by warm stuffy rooms where he cold virus can spread more easily, though now thy have recognized that our immune systems work better when we are kept warm with coat and scarf!

Another ‘new’ discovery mentioned in today’s news is that whole milk may actually help to reduce blood pressure because it apparently contains high levels of nitric oxide, which widens blood vessels, and this improves blood flow to the heart. That information joins other recent news that full cream milk is better for us than half cream milk, and even that butter may be better for us than vegetable oil margarine.

Actually, I would not be surprised if that were true. Years ago I had a recurring problem like King Henry the Eighth. Gout in my big toe! Every year I would get an attack and have to hobble about with an unbending toe until someone told me about cherries. OK, so it was unscientific, but apparently several cherries each day keeps the gout away (By the way, I don’t drink much wine or alcohol!). I tried it, and the gout disappeared, never to return. Any cherries will do – tinned, fresh or bottled – only a few each day and goodbye gout!

That information can point us to another source of ‘unscientific’ information that we can refer to for even more authoritative health guidance. The Bible. The Bible is the handbook the Creator provided with His product – us. You may not realize it but it contains a great deal of advice on how to live long, and stay healthy.

Sometimes, it is simply promises – keep this commandment and you will live long e.g. Exodus 20:12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Sometimes it is guidance on which foods are designed to be good for us to eat, and which bad, and elsewhere we are advised on which behavior and attitude will help our mental state to remain healthy and avoid psychosomatic illness. Also, God incidentally mentions things that His people eat, and food which some shared with God Himself, when He has appeared on earth. Food like fish, whole grains, meat, milk, butter, honey, which in that way gain God’s stamp of approval.

So, yes, as the years go by, more and more of the Bible’s teaching is being shown to be true after all. You can be in there in advance of science, and enjoy the health benefits before science catches up. Just study the Bible! Joshua 1:8  ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.’