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The Water Ceremony (Morning Companion)
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39, NKJV)
When Jesus stood up and shouted out his message, it was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a mere six months before his crucifixion. His preaching was taking on an urgency, as his earthly ministry was coming to close.
On this last day of the Feast the people celebrated with a traditional water ceremony. Water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam, the very pool where Jesus on the next day would instruct a blind man to wash his eyes for healing (John 9). From the Pool of Siloam the priests and the people would walk in procession through Jerusalem, through the Water Gate, and into the Temple. There the priest would pour that water from the healing Pool of Siloam into a silver bowl on the altar as a special offering to God.
It is worth noting that this water ceremony is not a part of any Biblical liturgy. There is no instruction anywhere in the Scripture commanding this tradition, but it is also worth noting that Jesus did not condemn it. Rather he used it as a teaching tool.
During the ceremony a number of scriptural passages might have been in the people’s minds. Maybe they were thinking of Isaiah 44 and the analogy associated with water when it is poured on a thirsty ground.
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring. They will spring up among the grass, like willows by the watercourses.’
Maybe they thought about Ezekiel 47 and the prophecy of pure healing water gushing from the Temple Mount as a blessing and the bringing forth of life and healing. This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.
Maybe they were listening to the words that a choir of priests were singing from Isaiah 12: ‘O Lord, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation. Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’
If those that heard Jesus’s voice that day made the connection with the words of Isaiah 12, Jesus’s shout would have been an electric shock to them, considering from whom the words were coming. To understand that, understand what the Hebrew says in verse 2. The phrase “God is my salvation” is “El Yeshua”. “El” is Hebrew for “God”, and “Yeshua” is Hebrew for “Jesus”, which in turn means “salvation”. And verse 3 speaks of “draw[ing] water from the wells of salvation [yeshua].”
So going back back to John 7, a man named Yeshua makes an obvious reference to a passage from the prophets that uses the word “yeshua” in connection with the waters of salvation drawn from a pool of healing. Jesus is offering them a clue to his true identity and origin.
This teaching was shocking but effective. Some believed him (verses 40-41), some doubted (verses 41-42), and some wanted to arrest him for blasphemy (verse 44). Regardless of where they stood, they knew exactly what he was saying about himself and who he really was.
The theological points Jesus was making are an obvious ones: He is the way to salvation. He can satisfy our search for meaning. He will send the Holy Spirit and that Spirit through us can help heal the world.
There is also a lesson here on how to reach people with a message. Remember that this Water Ceremony was not a part of the original liturgy from the Torah. It was a cultural thing that was added some time between Moses and Herod’s Temple. Yet Jesus had no problem using the culture of the day as a teaching tool.  That should be a clue to us that using our popular culture to teach spiritual lessons is not only acceptable, but also smart. Lessons from movies, lessons from popular books, lessons from news events -- these all can be sources of instruction.
Put differently, we cannot afford to isolate ourselves from society at large. We must understand the thinking process and milieu of those around us. Engage the culture from where it is. Speak in terms that they can relate to. And keep the message positive whenever possible.
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For more information on the Water Ceremony, go to these links:
http://jewishroots.net/library/holiday-articles/water_libation_ceremony.html
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14794-water-drawing-feast-of
https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v06-n07/sukkot-a-promise-of-living-water

“A stick and a sting” (New Church Lady)
– that is what the doctors and nurses at my dermatologist’s office say before giving me a shot of numbing agent. I’ve been through it many times. They are very apologetic, but there is no need. Yes, it hurts a little and very briefly to get that shot. However, a “stick and a sting” is a small price to pay to be pain free through the rest of what the doctor needs to do – cutting out the basal cell cancer, cauterizing the wound and stitching me back up.  I do not want to feel that. So, the brief stick and sting is welcomed.
Although it may not feel like it right now, what we go through in this mortal life - the troubles, trauma and pain we endure in this life – will seem like no more than a “stick and a sting” compared to the eternal, pain-free, trouble-free, blissful life ahead in God’s Kingdom.
We need the knowledge that it all has a greater purpose and that there is more to our existence than this mortal life. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” [NIV]
James tell us [1:2 NIV], “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, I think that is very difficult to do without the perspective of the hope of eternal life where there will be no more of those trials.”
Revelation 21:4 [KJV] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
I am very much looking forward to that time of no death and no sorrow and no crying and no pain. Aren’t you?
This life can be very rough – natural disasters, illness, persecution, financial struggles – we all suffer from time to time in some way. Satan will ensure that we do. And I do not mean to minimize the struggles of this life. For now, it definitely does not feel like a small thing, as short time or a little “stick and a sting.”
I’m only saying that, looking back on it from the lens of eternity, I believe we will appreciate or at least understand the purpose of it all.
I do not believe that our loving Abba puts us through suffering without a purpose – without using it to help move us closer to Him and to the reward of the Kingdom. Maybe that thought is of little comfort to you now. It doesn’t take away your pain, answer your questions or provide a way out.
I’ve been in those dark corners too. I understand that words – even painting vivid word pictures of that better world in the Kingdom – does not take away your present pain. But I also recognize that we need that future to hold onto – that promise of the better life – a life free of pain and suffering.
So, let me offer two more scriptures about it:
Isaiah 11:6-9 [KJV] The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Micah 4:3 [NIV] He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Please join me in fervently praying for healing, help and relief now for all who are suffering and that Jesus Christ returns soon, as King of kings and Lord of lords, to put away Satan and put an end to all suffering; knowing that He will bring with Him your reward for enduring what you’ve had to go through in this life. Maybe we won’t look back on the suffering in this time as worth it – maybe we’ll just forget it happened.
Isaiah 65:17 [KJV] “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”
That would be fine too. However, I will make a deal with you. If, looking back from the vantage point of 100,000 years as a spirit being in God’s Kingdom, you don’t agree that the troubles and pains of this rough life feel like no more than a “stick and a sting” by comparison to that 100,000 years as a spirit being – why, then, you have permission to smack me.
There is a better life ahead. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

The Day of Atonement - Is It About Us? (Sabbath Meditations)
The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. An incredibly joyous occasion.
There is so much to celebrate that will occur on this day, yet future. The Saints will have risen to meet their returning Lord in the air and will descend with Him on the mount of Olives. All who come to make war with the returning King will have been vanquished. Satan, that old serpent, the devil, who enslaves the whole world will himself be bound and cast into darkness, no longer able to lie and deceive mankind. All who have lived will, at last, have opportunity to enter into At-One-Ment with the Father through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The events this day pictures are wondrous.
I have to admit though that, in all the years I’ve observed this day, there is one aspect of it that has caused me confusion. If it’s such a joyous occasion, why are we afflicting our souls? For me, it just doesn’t seem to follow.
I understand the explanation that says we fast as a means of humbling ourselves so that we might recognize our dependence on Him, our need for His atoning sacrifice. On one level, I get this line of thinking. Fasting is a powerful reminder that we are human, that we need a Saviour. But on another level, something about the idea of fasting on this day to remind me of my need for His sacrifice just didn’t seem to fit. Why?
Those of us who observe both the annual holy days recognize that they are pointed toward two distinct groups of people whom God is calling; two distinct phases of His plan for salvation.
There are the Firstfruits, part of the early harvest, those who are called now, placed in His body, the Church, that the typology of the Spring holy days is directed.
The great harvest is to take place after Christ’s return, when the vast majority of those who have lived will be resurrected and have their minds opened to understand the gospel. They will be given the opportunity, as you and I already have, to know and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Saviour. It will be an awesome time.
So, if this Day of Atonement pictures salvation being offered to those who have not yet been called, why then would we, as Christians already called, already in this relationship, fast as means of being reminded of our dependence on Him? Haven’t we pictured that lesson already during the earlier holy days?
In Isaiah 58:6-9 we read, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’.”
Fasting is about the breaking of bonds. It’s about recognizing the helplessness of man apart from God and beseeching Him for deliverance from oppression and heavy burdens. It’s a yearning plea to our God for healing, for deliverance and for renewal. Sometimes we fast on our own behalf. But often, as is the case here in Isaiah, we fast on behalf of others who are in bondage, that they might be free and made whole.
So, for whom then are we fasting? For us? For our own deliverance? Or, are we fasting for those who are still in bondage to the god of this world? Isn’t that the true reason why we are fasting on this Day? Aren’t we fasting, beseeching our God for that day to come, when His Son will return, Satan will be bound and the vast majority of mankind will finally have their chains removed? Isn’t this fast about them and not about us?
You and I have already experienced our freedom from bondage, haven’t we? Every year we commemorate that freedom we have been given at Passover. This day, the Day of Atonement, looks forward to the time that the Passover sacrifice will be made available for all of those who have not yet had opportunity.
So, to those of my brethren who are fasting on this day, I encourage you to focus your prayers, focus your heart, not on yourself, but on a world still waiting to taste the freedom you now enjoy. Pray for those who do not yet have the awesome relationship you have with your God and Savior. Pray for your co-workers, your neighbors, your family and friends. Pray that He would send His Son quickly to a world that is in suffering, in desperate need of deliverance. Fast and pray to break the bands of wickedness, that all who are oppressed might go free.

Atonement: are you sure what it means? (Guardian Ministries)
Here we are coming to another Day of Atonement! I usually say to Brethren that I hope you have a meaningful Day of Atonement and that it will be spiritually enriching. But I am not always sure what meaning our Brethren will put on this Day - Yom Kippur.
I was in a church that believed that this day was about placing our sins on the head of Satan, so that we and the world could one day obtain complete cleansing of our sins when Satan is finally chained, as he is to be as stated in Revelation 20:1-3.
To get to that erroneous teaching (in my opinion), it was stated that the 2nd goat (the Azazel) pictured Satan. First notice Leviticus 16:8, that these two goats were so identical and without blemish that lots (like the flip of a coin) had to be cast to see which one was to be sacrificed for the Eternal in the Holy Place and which one was the Azazel or the goat that departs. Second, notice Leviticus16:10, that the second goat left alive (the Azazel) was to make atonement or expiation or reconciliation by sending it away into the wilderness.
Does Satan have any part in our reconciliation to God? Is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ not enough to reconcile us to God the Father? Does Paul or any New Testament writer refer to the putting away of Satan as being a part of our atonement? Having a demon or devil as part of the temple sacrifices was forbidden in the law (Leviticus 17:7).
I believe that the two goats really represent ONE sacrifice for sins. All sacrifices for sin were pointing to the great sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ. If you read Leviticus 14:1-7, you will see that two birds were used in this sacrifice for leper cleansing. One bird was killed and the other was to be let go free. So it was not unusual to have one sacrifice with two animals.
We read in Isaiah 53:6 that we all have gone astray and committed sins and God laid on Him (the Messiah) the “iniquity of us all.”
After the goat or bird was set free, no one ever sees that live goat or bird again. Fittingly we read in Psalm 103:10-13: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the whole world” (John 1:29). And in 1 John 3:5 we read: “You know that He (Jesus) appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” No mention here of our sins being laid on the head of Satan.
Hebrews 1:3 tells us that after Jesus Christ accomplished the cleansing or purification of our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God in heaven. Paul here doesn’t say that we have to wait until the beginning of the millennium before our sins are finally cleansed!
Imagine how far away these two concepts are! Some believe that the Azazel is the devil. Others that the Azazel is part of the complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sins so that God does not remember them anymore. Read Hebrews 10:14-18 and you will see that Christ by ONE OFFERING has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And that in the New Covenant God remembers our sins NO MORE.
Paul wrote: 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin (sin offering) on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” No mention of Satan being put away for our sins. No mention that Jesus’s sacrifice was not sufficient in and of itself. Because it was sufficient and more than sufficient! Jesus Himself said on the night He gave the disciples the wine, “for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).
Jesus said that the “Law and the Prophets” spoke about Him. He is the central focus of all sacrifices and the one sacrifice for all time that cleanses us of sins. When Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice He did it “once for all” and for all time. See Hebrews 7:27-28 and 9:26.
He did not need to have daily sacrifices again after He sacrificed Himself. But after the Day of Atonement, the Levitical priesthood went right back to morning and evening sacrifices!
I hope your Day of Atonement is meaningful to you. And I pray that this Search the Scripture lesson about it will help you appreciate what it took for our Atonement! And Satan has NOTHING to do with it!
With all good wishes in Christ our ONE and ONLY SAVIOR.

The Beginning of Sorrows (Children of God)

Why are there so many catastrophes today? What is going on with all these hurricanes, floods and disasters? Have there always been this many tragedies? Where are we in the scheme of things? What is the state of the Church of God? What should we be doing as Christians?
Matthew 24:4-8 Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, earthquakes, and natural disasters in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows’.
Jesus could just as easily have said, ‘All these are the beginning of tragedies’. This is exactly where we are today. These are not the days to sit back and relax. There are very rough days ahead, especially for the people of the Church of God. The tribulation that is coming on the entire world is a God-send for the Church of God, in that it is the final wake-up call to those whose zeal is cooling off.
The Church of God has gone into a lull – the lull before the storm. The Church is not as dynamic as it was in the last century. Many thought that Jesus Christ would have returned by now.  Many are thinking, Why hasn’t Jesus returned – “Our Lord delays His coming.” Jesus tells us not to think that way. Jesus said that, as we near the very end-time, religious persecution, family betrayal, spiritual deception, tribulation and falling away from the love of God would be normal, not the exception.
Matthew 24:33 ‘When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors’.
Jesus is not delaying His return. We, the people of God, need this time to develop spiritually. God is showing us how to have Godly relationships with each other in His Church – the called out family of God. Of course we realize that this calling from God is a tremendous blessing that we are privileged to be a part of – but sometimes we do not act like we know it.
We are witnessing the last days of the Israelitish nations.  If these remarkable nations do not return to the Creator God soon, every good standard defining our greatness will collapse. Without God, no nation can stand. All who believe in good morals will agree that our nations are in a horrendous moral degeneration. As a result of this disintegration, we will face incredible challenges in the immediate future undreamt of.  Will the complete breakdown come in a sudden immense crash or an excruciatingly slow but sure demise? What will be the impact on the members of the Church of God as society around them crumbles?
Within God’s Church we should be different from the world – but we are too much like the world. The brethren in God’s Church are similar to the cultures we find ourselves embedded in. As a result, as the world slides into oblivion, we find ourselves in a parallel decline. Too often we seek to be accepted by the world, but we will not receive the approval of the world which only loves its own.
John 15:19 ‘If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’.
Are we ashamed for people to find out how different we are? Or, do we correctly understand what our duty and responsibility is? All of us have often experienced how difficult it is to properly take a stand for Godly principles. Do we boldly proclaim and stand for the truth?
Mark 8:38 ‘Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels’.
The correct thing for us to do now is to live by the principles Jesus Christ taught. Godly Character comes only with standing-up for the truth of God.
We have an obligation to live our Faith as an example to a world desperately in need of what we have been given. We are supposed to exhibit the attributes of true Christianity all the more as that day of Christ’s return draws near.
As we approach the tribulation, we are being given more and more opportunities to live our Christianity. Yes, it is difficult to do so because the temptation to be like the world is becoming greater and greater. Let’s never forget that God blesses those who practice and follow His way of life.
Deuteronomy 28:2 ‘All these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if you shall hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God’.
On the other hand, tragedy, catastrophe, natural disaster and destruction follow those who break God’s rules. We have all seen lives ruined by any number of causes. When people end up with broken lives, every time, the reasons can be traced back to violations of Godly principles. God’s perfect set of spiritual rules brings about all things good. Defiance of God’s spiritual law brings a breakdown of moral order. The Bible refers to these results as ‘blessings and cursings’. (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28)
God led America and Great Britain into becoming the greatest and most powerful nations that have ever existed.  But now, they are experiencing the beginning curses that follow the rejection of God and His law.
Deuteronomy 28:45 ‘All these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which he commanded thee’.
Now that we, as nations, have chosen to set aside the perfect spiritual law of God, which is the foundation of society itself, we can absolutely expect to encounter increasing tragedies.

Letting it slip ...(New Horizons)
You are handling life differently now compared to your pre-conversion days. Isn’t that what Jesus asks of us? Didn’t you then commit to a whole new way of life? As wrote Peter to the brethren: ‘since you delight in obedience, do not shape your lives by the cravings which used to dominate you in the time of your ignorance, but - in imitation of the holy One who has called you - you also must be holy in all your habits of life’ (I Peter 1:14-15). Or Paul: do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds’ (Romans 12:2).
That commitment may have been twenty, thirty, even fifty years ago. So - have you let things slip? Do you act differently from that first flush? Does Jesus’s admonition to the Ephesian church apply to you personally?
‘Yet I have this against you - that you no longer love Me as you did at first. Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen. Repent at once, and act as you did at first, or else I will surely come and remove your lampstand out of its place - unless you repent’.
Do other brethren accuse you of being lax, ‘Laodicean’?
At our baptism, then, we are set on a course of behavioural transformation, to develop those divine characteristics exemplified by Jesus in his earthly life. That means a constant, ongoing conquest of our fallen nature: ‘let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ (Hebrews 12:1).
We don’t always win! Paul reminds us that all too often failure dogs us:
‘I do not understand what I do; for I don't do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate’ (Romans 7:15).
We don’t, however, throw in the towel, but we pick ourselves up - and learn the lesson: ‘a just one falls seven times and rises up again’ (Proverbs 24:16).
As the apostle continues: ‘What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! ‘
The guidance God gives us through His Word is timeless - just as potent, as applicable, as effective to our lives as it was to Adam or Noah or Abraham. Our attitude must remain as the Psalmist’s: ‘Your testimonies are wonderful: therefore does my soul keep them. The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple [ordinary folk]. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for your commandments’ (Psalm 119:129ff).
It’s an attitude of exciting pursuit of personal growth.
In parallel to this vital and essential transformation of our moral behaviour and our outlook on life is how we ‘walk with God’, how when we worship Him.
He reveals Himself as ‘jealous’ and has throughout the Scriptures made clear His pain when His people stray from His clearly-defined path - a path designed for our welfare, for our spiritual safety.

Reading of the Will (Think Red Ink Ministries)
I see the old moon waning and growing ever closer to the sunrise and I am amazed how quickly time passes. How much have we left? What remains undone in our lives?
Are folks unforgiven? Are tasks left undone? Are there projects abandoned in dusty heaps around us? Do we continue to hold our life’s abundance close, in fear of the unknown and uncertain times ahead - money, lands, items that will be given to who knows who, by uncaring and, perhaps even ungodly persons, when they could be disbursed today to our children and families who struggle without them.
Our present and living will, or First Will (the one we live by every day) disappears when we are no longer able to say or do what we wish. Thus the term ‘Last Will and Testament’ is printed on the top of the paper many reach for when we breathe our last.
There is more to your will than the piece of paper that records the disbursement of your goods after your death. You live by your will every day. Do you know how to read your will? I assure you that everyone who knows you, can clearly read the driving will in your life, for it shows through every word and action in your daily living.
My mother has the most wholesome and well-balanced view of this concept of anyone I have known. She taught me by example all her life. It will never be said after her death that she wanted someone to have any particular possession of hers. If it is her will, she lives it out every day. I’ve seen her give her most precious possessions to those she wanted to have them, even while she had many years left to enjoy them herself. In doing so, her ‘will’ is read every day of her life. Thanks, Mom.
Today, I know of a couple who watch with indifference, as the modern banking system takes a horrible toll on their son’s and daughter’s new little families. Possessing more than they will ever need, and obviously having enough money to take the burden of interest off all of their children as they struggle under the load of debt ... their parents do nothing to assist.
Undue, unnecessary marital stress, doing without, mom having to work out of the home to help pay the present-day exorbitant cost of living, unattended children ... but they will never see a dime of relief until the death of their tight-fisted parents. Are we to believe that it is their ‘will’ that their children are provided for? I am sure the will read that day will say so, but their lives and actions today say differently.
It occurs to me that a person’s will is indeed readable before their death, yea rather more so while they live, than after they die.  Most wills are rife with selfishness, both in those who receive, as in those who give. What genuine pleasure or comfort is there to be found in a willed gift that reeks of this selfish notion, “Now that I can use this no longer, now that I am permanently removed from the benefit of this money, this land, this trinket ... I want you to have it”?
I think also of those who forgive on deathbeds. Sorry friend, we read your will, all of your life. It cannot be your will to forgive now, it never being your will to do so while you had life enough to personally consume upon yourself any benefit of mercy you now feel toward your malefactor.
Those who confess to wrongdoing on deathbeds are no better. Sorry, we all read your will before today. Not sorry then - not sorry now.
While those who cry out to God in anguish for their misspent life are to be pitied, we cannot read this sorrow as repentance, nor is it any sign that it is now their will to honor and fear their Creator. Sorry friend.
We have all read your will before today.
Your will, to give, to help, to ease burdens, to honor God, to love your children, to forgive, to get involved in something of eternal value - you can write it in your will, give it to your lawyer, have it read over national television if you want, but there is no need to publish it. We have all read it.
You should evaluate your ‘will’ in the light of how you are now living. After all, everyone around you is doing it now. Platitudes, good works, noble character is not something we do after death; it is something we live now. A kind word, a financial help, time spent with those you love are done as an act of your will. Not probated by law in your Last Will and Testament.

God Meant It For Good (Early Christian)

Have you ever been through any trials in your life? Sure, we all have. Often times we think the trials we face may be due to something we are doing wrong; that God is trying to show us correction or discipline us. The examples of people and even nations in the Bible having to be brought low before they receive correction are extensive. But the nature of trials is not so cut and dry.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is with Paul. Acts 7:58 - Acts 8:3 shows Paul before his conversion actually holding the cloaks for those who stoned Stephen to martyrdom. Paul was energetically persecuting the Church of God for years after this going from town to down and dragging believers in Messiah back to Jerusalem to be jailed and punished for their faith. Paul had to be stricken blind and visited by the risen Yeshua in order for him to be converted. He had to be brought incredibly low before he, an incredibly educated Jew and Roman citizen, could admit his errors and convert.

However, being brought low was just the beginning. Paul had to publicly and repeatedly repent. He had to prove to the brethren that he was no longer a threat. Surely they must have been scared to be in the same room as the guy who delivered so many to the Jews. Then Paul had to go on to be punished in the same manner that he punished others. Beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead. But the lesson was not just for Paul! It was for the brethren as well. They had to trust Yahweh and the Spirit to believe that they would be protected and they had to forgive the very man that had persecuted them. This is a very hard thing to do my friends. Forgiving and trusting someone who has a history of violence or destructive behavior is one of the hardest psychological hurdles for people to cross despite Yeshua telling us we must do so 7 x 70 times.

It’s also very easy to see other people’s trials as punishment by God. This is a trap that has existed for a very long time. When we see people begging on the side of the road for coins our reflex action is to assume they are charlatans. When we see people who have made bad decisions suffering for their poor judgment, thoughts like “well, that’ll teach ‘em” creep in to even the most compassionate among us. But what does Yeshua say about these things?

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered,“It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Do you see the accusatory attitude in the disciples? They assumed because the man was blind that it had to be because of his sin or his parent’s sins. But the man was born blind, perhaps in excess of 30 years prior, for this one moment in time. God had a plan. How many eyes do you think were opened on the day that this man received his sight? Those disciples had their eyes opened much more than the blind man. His disability was put on him so that many would be able to see righteousness working.

This attitude check about those who are less fortunate is part of the judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. In fact, it’s the ENTIRE basis for the judgment! What do we see about the character of the righteous when Yeshua sits on His throne and starts separating the sheep from the goats? The righteous are the one who ministered to those less fortunate. The trials of the infirm, the malnourished, the poor, and the prisoners are a test for those more fortunate.

Yes, brethren, God has a plan for each and every person on planet earth. These plans are intertwined with others and their relationships. When we see someone in a trial, our reactions are recorded in the books. When we are in a trial, we also must give glory to the Most High. Because, like Joseph said so long ago, God meant it for good.