I’m NOT like that!

Ever had to come to your own defence using words like that? Many have. We are naturally concerned when people get a wrong impression about us. They mistakenly think we have done things that we have not, or that we have acted in a manner quite different from the person we really are. That’s life, as they say!

But would God not have the right to correct the record if people had mistaken perceptions about Him? He does, and He has. In the Bible there are at least seven places where God has to clarify that He is NOT like people think He is.

Check out the video talk at this link: https://bit.ly/2yuR1SR You can download it from there and watch at the best time for you. It’s subject is what God is NOT like, even though in the minds of some people they have developed a wrong perception about God. So He corrects the record.

Check out the video, and by all means comment! Especially if you have some correct things to say about God. He doesn’t need us to defend Him, but it is right for us to speak accurately about the God in whom we “live, and move, and have our being”. Worth getting it right!

Solved!

Geoff writes:

“Don’t know what the probability is that you could solve a 5×5 Rubik cube by chance moves, but even when I used some carefully thought out moves I still couldn’t do it. My grandson did it in minutes! He knows that you have to make some very disruptive moves that at first make all the faces seem wrong before it all comes together. Finished!

Perhaps that’s a very simplified analogy for Rom.8:28, the famous “all things work together for good” verse. Certainly everything is not good; bad things happen too. Some people think “all things” in that verse means all things in my life, but it’s actually bigger than that and “all” is defined by the context of verses 18-39 (extract below). It is a truly universal statement: God’s plan for absolutely everything, stretching from eternity to eternity. And if God is God, no better plan could ever be devised.

Remember, you can’t complete the cube by just trying to make all of it right for one face. And in life we may go through very disruptive things without any possibility individually of seeing their positive outcome, the good that comes from this. If we lose grip with the bigger picture it is the road to greater disappointments. Present pain can only be considered reasonable if we have real hope in a God who is permitting it for a much, much, much bigger purpose. Not an easy concept at all. But the alternatives are hopeless.”

Check out Rom.8:18-27 then read on:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Blame Game

No surprise! We are now seeing political leaders attempt to lay the blame for economic woes at the feet of foreigners. At the forefront is the bumptious leader of the world’s largest free-market economy (that is now in tatters). Rightly or wrongly, he sees China as the culprit, suggesting a germ warfare scenario. And the Chinese bureaucracy is hitting back. Meantime, in contrast, we are told by the World Health Organization that the virus likely started in bats, then transferred to another live animal, which then passed the virus on to humans. When , where and Why? These are still open questions as far as the scientific community is concerned. In France, scientists appear to have detected the novel coronavirus was present there at about the same time it was discovered in China. More facts may change convenient current assumptions.

Why is the developing argumentation no surprise? You and I have the answer. “They” are just like “Us”! Which one of us can say we have never blamed someone or something else for problems for which we ourselves may even have been primarily responsible. Geo-political posturing starts right here; this is where the germ resides. It is perhaps also evidenced by the willingness of so many to line up behind their chosen leader’s statements, whether in the USA or Russia or China, etc. It is scary, but it should not be unexpected. The cause of feuds is to be found in the Bible’s statements in Gal.5:19,20. We are all like that, naturally. Is it hopeless, then?

Spiritually, the picture can change. We can look for reliable information. We can place current events in a much longer term context. We can identify endemic problems that have plagued mankind since Eden. In short, we can read our Bible, and accept what is read by faith. Faith, of course, must be placed in facts. God is not a convenient entity merely invented to fill gaps in information, nor a crutch to help us to accept unwelcome circumstances. The Bible is God’s message to His creation, and is self-confirming, by documenting outcomes it predicted (and which are shown to be true by both historians and our own personal experience). The most important outcome the Bible predicts is that a person believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came to earth to live a perfect life and then to die as our substitute, will be forgiven by God and be given eternal life. As icing on that cake, the Bible also predicted God, as the Holy Spirit, would then live in us, and teach us truth we need to know. This is the source of hope.

In contrast to the “he did it; she did it” that might typify our natural response when problems arrive, the Bible presents a remarkable alternative. Here it is: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil.2:3,4) and it challenges us: “…with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” (Matt.7:2-4). Let us be very careful before engaging in the blame game. Go for the “same aim” instead, just like the Bible says in 1 Cor.1:9,10.

Could all Christians be united?

If this is a question on your mind, and the current confusion of so many different churches and denominations troubles you, why not read an interesting and thought-provoking viewpoint on this subject?

You’ll find it here.

Lock Down, Lock Up or… Lock In

An organization named The Church of God, in Aylmer, Ontario has become a feature in the local and national news media. Although, like them, we use the same Bible-based name “Church of God” we are not affiliated to them, nor they to us. But everyone is taking note of what is happening to them.

In brief, during the present “lock down” to combat the spread of Covid-19, mass gatherings are not permitted, and only certain work is considered “essential”, and only essential travel is to be undertaken. The result is any church with a large congregation has been told to suspend its meetings. In Aylmer, a novel response has led to complications. The minister of that large congregation invited them to gather in their cars in the church car park and listen to his service on their car radios. This caused a stir; the police arrived, and tickets were threatened.

Our objective is not to address any legal aspects, and in any case we may have missed some of the details (so apologies if needed), but it does raise the question about whether it is worth risking getting locked up in jail for one’s faith. The answer from the Bible for Christians is clear: “Yes, in the circumstances described in Acts 4:19 and Acts 5:29.” Those verses read: “Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge…” and later, “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men…” If we had the slightest idea what being locked up meant in those days, we would be startled by the boldness of Peter and John. They had real faith! Jesus had transformed their lives.

So the first prerequisite is to “listen to God”, because faith in things that aren’t true isn’t so much faith as foolishness. But listening to God to learn what is true is absolutely possible still today, because God is speaking. The Bible is called “the word of God”; it is God’s message to us. It tells us how to be freed from the penalty of all the wrong things we ever did; how to avoid the eternal lock up we otherwise inevitably face (see more here). But the message continues. These days, we are rightly concerned about how to guide released offenders. The jail punishes but may not reform. God’s message for all of us, culprit sinners, is that when He releases us from the punishment we deserved, He will also lay out a plan for our transformed lives. A “church of God” is a big part of that message. But it is no use us just reading the message, we must apply it. That isn’t as hard as it may first seem, since God’s message appeals to our reason. But more than that, it can persuade our hearts too (see more here). A full commitment on our part, what we might call “locking in“, is what God is looking for: He seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24).

The Church of God in Mount Forest operates as closely as possible to the instructions we find in the Bible; we are locked in to them. Small numbers are not always a disadvantage, when even just a few people are fully committed to serving God whole-heartedly. So we have not had to meet in cars in a car park. Instead, we continue to meet where we live, and happily this conforms to all local regulations about the lock down. This means that every required activity of a church of God we find in the New Testament continues to be maintained here. To supplement those essentials, it is good that available technology can be used to preach, teach and meet, by “video chats”. So we need not feel we are locked out, or even stuck in the traffic! The biggest need now is to have the right key! Contact us for more details on how this Bible-based model of church activity is implemented.

Here are some Bible passages as starting points for you to verify what is said in this post: 1 Cor.1:2; Job 33:14; Acts 6:7; 2 Tim.3:16,17; Prov.3:5,6; 1 Tim.4:7-16; Acts 2:42

Speaking in Tongues??

Many Christians have been troubled by the difference of views on this matter. It is a great shame that it has marked a parting of the ways between disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it seems there is little room for middle ground; either the practice of speaking in tongues ( as we find it today) is right or it is wrong. But it is not inconsequential!

Hopefully there is no dispute that God used this miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in New Testament times. So we may reasonably ask, why should we not see it displayed today? Or again, is what people do when they say today they are speaking in tongues the same as we read about in the Bible? We must examine the Scriptures about this in order to reach a decision.

You may be interested to check out a long-standing view of the Churches of God on this subject, published a long time ago but still relevant! You can check it out HERE.

Ancient history?

No, this isn’t about church elders! Well, not really, but they feature quite strongly in the book we’ve just added to our resource section. The book is called The Search for The Truth of God.

It’s about developments in Christian churches since the middle ages, with a key focus on how the Brethren Movement led to fresh insights into biblical Christianity.

And one of the aspects that was true of the first churches described in the New Testament was how each church was led and overseen by a group of elders. It is almost as if that fact was rediscovered around the late 1800’s. But it was no good just seeing truth in Scripture; the challenge was to put it into practice.

So the book, published in 1947 and written in the wordy, long sentences typical of that era, is worth reading to see why churches of God today teach and practice the things they still do. What we may take for granted was won for us by a past generation’s dedicated study and emotionally heart-wrenching application. Take some time to read it, and by all means feed back your comments.

The Church of God in action