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Russia Threatens USA with Nuclear War! (Standing Watch) 10

Appointed Times (New Horizons)

God’s appointed times [Heb. mo’edim] are generally considered to be a burdensome yoke placed on ancient Israel to keep them subservient to their God. How wrong!
Take, for instance, that so ‘Jewish’ observance, the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. The origin of this ‘appointed time’ long predates the founding of the nation of Israel (of which the Jews were but a part). It coincides with human beginnings and was bestowed on mankind as a blessing, keeping us in mind of the one and only God’s awesome power in the creation of the universe and thus our dependence on Him to supply every need (Mark 2:27). Sever the relationship with the one true God and all goes haywire!
Annual festivals were commonplace in the ancient world, celebrating the harvests, and as such they were tied to the observance of the stars and planets. In describing the act of creation, ‘God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [Heb mo’ed, an appointed time], and for days, and years’ (Genesis 1:14).
Before Moses God’s faithful ‘walked’ with Him, willingly and freely choosing to worship Him as He prescribed, and to follow His guidance - the ‘Law of Life’. Joseph serves as an example, choosing under temptation not to ‘sin against God’ (Genesis 39:1-9). When God chose to establish Israel as His model nation (c.1500BC) these ‘Laws’ became the foundation of their national Constitution (Exodus 20) and, as with any nation, penalties were imposed for transgressions of the law.
Note Isaiah’s prediction for the conditions at the end of man’s rule: ‘the earth is profaned under those living in it, because they transgress laws and violate a statute, and break the everlasting covenant [Genesis 9:17 - for ‘all flesh’]. On account of this a curse has devoured the land; and they who live in it are held guilty’ (Isaiah 24:5-6).
There is an unrecognized but unbreakable link between recognition of the Creator through His revealed form of weekly and annual worship - and our personal and national stability.

Celebration (Morning Companion)

A document from Lentulus, a supposed first century Roman official, purports to describe Jesus. In part it reads, “He rebukes with majesty, councils with mildness, His whole address whether in word or deed, being eloquent and grave. No man has seen him laugh.” There is one small problem with the letter: It’s a fraud. There was no Lentulus, and the Jesus of the Bible bears no resemblance to the forlorn image that this ‘Lentulus’ presents.
Take the concept of rejoicing. Jesus’s parables depict it time and again. The woman who finds a lost coin calls a party and celebrates. The shepherd finds a lost sheep, and he calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him. He spoke parables about wedding feasts, and once when he attended a real, live wedding feast, he turned water into wine so that the party would continue. These parables and examples don’t come from the temperament of a man who walks around in perpetual gloom.
On the heels of the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, Jesus illustrates a celebration through the parable of the Prodigal Son. After his repentance and return home, the father declared: “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24 NIV)
Here we see Godly ways to celebrate. First, bring out your best clothes and adornments. Splurge for the occasion. Call together your friends, for good things should be shared with others. “Kill the fattened calf” and enjoy the good things in life. Verse 25 says there were music and dancing - and surely laughter. There is nothing unbiblical with celebrating the joys of life. Ecclesiastes says to “rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)
God even gave special days of rejoicing, where people were to celebrate in a manner similar to that found in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Of one such time of year we read: “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days, after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast - you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” (Deut.16:13-15 NIV)
Imagine seven days of celebration! For everybody! Our world could use a time like that.

Practicing Pure Religion (Sabbath Meditations)

According to James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to...mumble, mumble, mumble...keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Striving to stay unspotted from world. Being zealous to overcome sin. Yes, got that one down! Rejecting worldly teaching and immorality and holding onto Truth? Check that! That’s my life! That’s what I really care about!
What’s that? Oh, that little part I mumbled through? Let’s see, “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.” Yeah, well, I suppose that's there too. But let’s get back to that Truth thing! That’s where it’s at! That's what God really cares about!
Really? Because it looks to me that serving those who are in need, reaching out to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, isn’t ranked somewhere way down at the bottom of some spiritual to do list. It’s right up there. It’s one of two things that God says are equally important in identifying those whose religion is pure.
For every place in God’s Word where we are exhorted to love and obey His law, to seek after truth and reject the things of this world, you can find another where we are commanded to give selflessly in service to others.
In Isaiah 1:17, one of hundreds of scriptures like it, we are commanded to “Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
Scriptures like this one make it abundantly clear that becoming like our Elder Brother isn’t measured solely by our progress in mastering a list of do’s and dont’s. It’s about developing His heart and mind within us. It’s about caring passionately about the things He cared about. You want to get to know the Lord more fully? You want to be more like Him? Get passionate about the things He was passionate about.
Passionate about Truth? Yes, of course.
But also passionate, big time, about people, especially the needy among us.
“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” Psalms 68:5
You can’t overlook them and think you’re are becoming like Him. You can’t go to church on the Sabbath, read your Bible, share a few platitudes over coffee and cookies with your friends and then go home and think you’re walking in the footsteps of your Savior, because you’re not.
Serving the less fortunate around you, in your communities, in your church, isn’t simply something you do once in a while at a weekend Church activity. It’s not something you do if and when you have the time, resources and inclination. It is not an optional part of the program. It is the program. And whether or not we’re fully engaged in that program has eternal implications.
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me ... inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:34-40
My prayer this Sabbath, for myself and the rest of God’s people, is that the Lord would help us to be more like Him. That He would put just as great a passion in our hearts for serving the widow and fatherless as we have for holding on to His Truth. That we would be as zealous for defending the needy as we are for defending His Law. That each of us would give ourselves fully to practicing pure religion.

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.

Suspended and Disfellowshipped (Children of God)

There is a strange phenomenon that is an entrenched part of the culture of the Church.  This trend existed to some degree for those of us who were a part of the Worldwide Church of God organization. Surprisingly, today, with the Church widely scattered, there remains a good sized segment of the brethren who are fearful of being “put out” of the Church.

Sadly, it is not the lawbreakers or heretics who are afraid of being rejected, marked or disfellowshipped, it is the truth-seekers who are trying to find other true believers who have not let down and become lukewarm. These concerned brethren with valid questions are the ones most likely to arouse the ire of controlling ministers, who suspect them of rebellion against their organization. There is something inherently wrong with the membership being controlled and restrained by the means of fear tactics.

We find the Biblical practices of suspension, and marking in the Scriptures. The questions we should understand are these: When is someone supposed to be suspended; and what is supposed to be achieved by putting a member out of the congregation like this? What would cause a person to be marked or disfellowshipped? Those who are living Christian lives should never be afraid of asking questions or standing for the truth.

There is nothing to fear. Those who have been disfellowshipped from corporate organizations for political reasons have not been removed from the Body of Christ. We were warned by Jesus Christ that we would be disfellowshipped – but woe to the perpetrators of those offenses.

Jesus said: These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be scandalized. They shall put you out of the synagogues [meeting places]: yes, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he does God a service.” (John 16:1-2)

Things are topsy-turvy in God’s Church in these last days. Instead of the corporations or colleges being the sole repository of right doctrine – it has fallen to the faithful brethren to also be defenders of the truth. It is often the dedicated brethren who are standing in the gap for doctrinal purity.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude :3)

God tells us in both the Old and New Testaments to be a holy people:

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)

It is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Being “holy” means that we should each be set apart from sin and uncleanness. We are supposed to be a Godly people. When a member is engaging in sin, he becomes unholy, and should not come among the faithful brethren. The Scriptures do not instruct us to disfellowship a brother or sister in this case, but to suspend their contact with the faithful brethren until such time as they repent of their ongoing sinfulness.

The Corinthian congregation was not mature or well developed spiritually. One of Paul’s most important responsibilities before God was to promote the spiritual growth and development of the Church congregations that he pastored. In this epistle, Paul did not address this problem on account of the immoral man, or his father, whom he had so grievously wronged (Leviticus 18:8). Paul’s purpose in writing was for the welfare of the congregation – for the care of the congregation – to enable them to spiritually mature to the point of handling their problems themselves.

Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his [the sinner] cause that had done the wrong, nor for his [the father] cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you [the congregation] in the sight of God might appear unto you.” (2 Corinthians 7:12)

Paul had told the congregation to handle the problem with the fornicating sinner themselves – by putting him outsuspending him until he repented.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)

On the other hand, had the sin involved been heresy, Paul would have handled the situation differently. When someone has gone off doctrinally and seeks to spread heretical doctrine among the brethren, the much more stringent measure of disfellowshippment is called for. The church does not condemn people – but people do condemn themselves.

A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; [shun that person] Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Titus 3:10-11)

After two clear warnings and Scriptural admonitions, Paul brought a matter before the entire Church – to protect the flock. When we follow the Scriptures – we are under God’s authority. If we handle things contrary to the Scriptures – we have departed from God’s authority.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note [mark] that man, [distinguish] and have no company with him [disfellowship], that he may be ashamed.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14)

A faithful minister will not let loyalty to an organization, or to another man, nor any ulterior motive influence his judgment when dealing with a member of the Body of Christ. Too many ministers have thrown around disfellowshippments like a gunfight of wild cowboys at OK corral. They cause the brethren to believe that these very serious matters are handled in a haphazard way – which they never should be.

When someone must be suspended or disfellowshipped there must be ample evidence and witnesses who attest to the sinful behavior on the part of the sinner that warrants the appropriate action. Fasting, prayer and counseling with every warning and admonition must be a part of the process. It is reconciliation to the greater Body of Christ that is of the highest priority. Only after a person is apprised of the sinful and erroneous conduct and given opportunity to correct it, should the disciplinary action be taken for the purpose of preserving the holiness of the congregation.

Life is Good (First Century Christianity)
Oftentimes we look around and only see the strife in the world and the contention in the assemblies that believe like us. There is one sure fire way to cheer oneself up and have a positive attitude, and that’s to refuse to participate in the doom and the gloom.
“Thus says YHVH of hosts, the Elohim of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. ‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to YHVH on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

Today, as we are being called out of Babylon, while we continue to live in Babylon, this verse applies to us as well. The exiles were hauled off to a pagan land and were commanded to do what? Have lives. Relax, plant some gardens, get married, have kids. Live their lives. Why were they commanded to do this? Because YHVH has a plan. They could relax, because the days of their captivity were numbered before there was one of them. To show their faith that He would deliver them back to the land, they had to simply live their lives. We are to do this as well.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16)
- and -
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:10-18)
We are to live our lives. We are to live them within the structure of Torah as shown to us by the New Testament writings, but we are to enjoy life. Sure, we are to repent, study, learn, and do charitable works, but we are also to enjoy the fruits of our labor and our spouses and our children as well.
As we prepare to observe the fall festival of the Most High, let’s take some time to reflect on the blessings we have been granted. Do you have an assembly to attend, whether small or large? Then rejoice in it! Do you have a believing spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend? Then rejoice in that blessing! Do you have children? Are they healthy? Then rejoice! Do you have a job that allows you to observe the Sabbath and Holy Days? Then rejoice! Do you have a job at all that provides for your material subsistence? Rejoice! Do you have a place to lay your head and food in the refrigerator? Then rejoice! Do you have any friends that you can count on? Rejoice. Do you have friends in the faith? Rejoice greatly!

Take time to enjoy life. Take time to thank the Creator and His Messiah for the blessings you have. Build houses and live in them. Get married. Start a family. And trust that, when it’s time to go wherever we’re to go in His Name, that He’ll let us know – just like He did for the exiles.

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.’