The Least That We Can Do

As we quickly approach Passover, we are once again reminded of the great sacrifice that Christ made. After divesting Himself of His Godhead, Jesus walked the earth as a righteous man, doing no wrong. For this He was rewarded with ridicule, abuses and ultimately death. Christ willingly did this so that we may have opportunity to have God’s ear when we go before Him on a daily basis, and as well as being offered the chance for salvation.

Having had such great possibilities laid at our feet, what are we willing to sacrifice in order to make the most of what we have been given? Presently, we have not been asked to physically give up our life, but merely to be a LIVING SACRIFICE by means of SERVICE (Romans 12:1).

We read from our booklet “The Sacrificial System and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness”: “As the burnt offering was completely burned (Leviticus 1:9), so we must give ourselves completely and without reservation to God. As members of God’s Church, we have to become without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).”

We do this through the righteousness which is following God comprehensively and unconditionally with all of our ability (Mark 12:33; Proverbs 21:3; Hebrews 13:16; Romans 14:17-18).

When we contemplate the magnitude of what Christ did for us and contrast it with what we have been asked to do, surely we must come to the conclusion that it is the least that we can do. Every time we choose right over wrong and God’s way over our way, we offer up our spiritual sacrifice (1 Peter 2:5). Let us keep this in mind for this season, the rest of the year and the years that we have remaining, before the return of the One whose sacrifice made this all possible.

Moral Fullness

“A man cannot be a little virtuous, a little pure, a little true, a little honest.” This comes from an unsigned article written in 1896.  By thinking on each of these we can see that by definition we need to have all these qualities all the time to be considered virtuous, pure, true and honest.
To be dishonest only on a part-time basis will earn us a reputation as being dishonest, not as being a little honest.  In fact, to be called a little honest would surely be seen as making a statement to the contrary.
When we live God’s way, we are not to strive in partial measures, but rather, as mentioned in Ephesians 3:19, we are to “be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Can we totally and completely comprehend this?  It is not a fractional aspect of the Way of God, but it is the replete and exhaustive works that we are to live up to… each to our own capacity.
As usual, we are to follow the example of Christ Who did live up to the prescribed potential (compare Colossians 2:9).  We are to be heading in the same direction to the best of our ability.  So how do we attain this moral fullness? Well… that would fill a book… the size of the Bible.

Mind Control

The attempt to coercively persuade an individual to a “right mindset” is not new to mankind. It has been tried throughout the centuries–by the Papacy during the Medieval Inquisitions; the Russian secret police; the prison systems; the mental healthcare facilities; and so on.

During the Korean War, brainwashing was put forth as the explanation for why captured American soldiers were making anti-American statements and defecting at a higher rate than normal. It was found out later that the Chinese had been using de-humanizing techniques and once the POW’s were out from under the heavy hand of their captors and able to reassert their own will, they quickly reintegrated back into their previous life style. In other words, for mind control to be effective and lasting, there was a need for willing participants.

Though some may believe that “mind control” is a reasonable explanation when it comes to many of the organizations that claim Christianity or any other religious persuasion as their foundation, the truth is that adherents willingly submit themselves to being molded and shaped. As a major tenet of the Christian religion, its followers believe that they are to allow their minds to be changed by the power of the Spirit of God.

However, what must be recognized is that there are two spirits at work which are an antithesis of each other. This is why we are admonished in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God…” Satan has the ability to negatively influence the human mind, and he has and is making the most of it by deceiving the whole world. Though many follow the Devil’s lead ignorantly–without realizing that they do so—it is nevertheless true that due to Satan’s deceptions and evil devices from their childhood, they have acquired a will and a desire to follow Satan willingly.

It is this same sway that man’s Adversary, a being of vast power, seeks to foist upon true converted Christians who have received God’s Holy Spirit. Even though we, the Spirit-begotten Children of God, have a hedge set about us, Satan desperately wants to direct our thoughts especially.

If we are to combat the wicked one, we must allow our minds to be transformed in the right way. James says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We are to obey God and truly be led by His Power in us. Doing so will put us in the right frame of mind to overcome all that besets us. To avoid being conformed to Satan’s world and all that is in it, we must willingly replace our mind with the perfect Will of God (Romans 12:2).

When the Answer Is “No”

When we have come before God in prayer asking fervently, obediently, faithfully, humbly and persistently for something … what are we to do when God says, “No”?

First, we can realize that we are in good company. God has said “No” to many notables in the Bible: David, when he wanted to build the temple; Paul, regarding the thorn in the flesh; and even Jesus when He asked that the cup be taken from Him. If God has said it on occasion to this most illustrious group, then surely we can expect that He is going to be saying it to us at times.

As we look back on the many things that we have prayed about, we may realize that this is already the case – perhaps many times over. What next then? We need to accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Obviously “No” is not the answer we wanted, and it may even be difficult for us to swallow. This is not the time to lack faith or get upset. Understanding that our God is all-knowing and a loving Father, we should realize that He knows and does what is best for us. If God is completely and totally in charge of our life, then we can take solace and comfort in the fact that the right things are going to happen at the right time.

Even though we get a negative as an answer, it is really a positive. God does not capriciously reply to our prayers. When He says “No,” it is for a reason and a purpose. His hope is that a good result will come out of it. We should pray, “Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4). We need to learn from the way that God is working in our life, so that we may continue to grow in the Godly righteous character He is trying to facilitate in us.

When we petition God, it is for His Will to be done in our lives – and now that we can better understand it, all that is left is for us to move on in the direction that God is guiding us in, and not on the route we thought to take.

God sees us and hears us (Psalm 34:15, 17), and His arm is not too short that He cannot save us (Isaiah 59:1). Know this! Keep it in mind! In the end, God’s ultimate goal is to see us make it into His Family, and He will do what it takes to make sure that we are with Him in the end.

The “United” States of America

Having just had the Presidential election I can now safely say that in this democratic nation of ours, we are united. Even though the diametrically opposing views of the populace brought out the worst in so many and only served to make us more at odds with one another — we are still in agreement as to how to solve the problems that beset us.

This country was and still is united in the belief that a man of a particular political persuasion can make this a better country. Of course, half of the people believe their guy is the right one for the job and the other half believe theirs is.

Two days ago, Barack Obama was re-elected to the office he has held now for nearly 4 years, and I am telling you now that this once greatly blessed land of ours is going to continue going downhill. Now what you will not read in most editorials and commentaries is that had Mitt Romney been elected or ANYONE else on the ticket for that matter, the same could have been said about them as well.

To have faith that either of the two leading candidates has the answers to this country’s problems is misguided. In the end it did not really matter who won, because we as a nation are going to continue on a path towards self-destruction–and because it is not within man to guide himself or know right from wrong and then do it.

Religion was never heavily brought into this race. Without true Christianity, this society will continue spiraling out of control and into oblivion as is prophesied — it is coming to pass before our very eyes. Our society and the freedom and prosperity it has enjoyed is coming to The End.

After that THEN we will have true unity! This will only happen with God and His Way and the Oneness that comes with His Spirit. No longer will we be divided and laboring in cross purposes and wrong directions. When this time arrives we will begin to act as one body in unison advancing towards the right goals.

For now though, we are to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” and pray to Him in all of this that “Your Will be done” and not what we want or think is right and best for us or for this nation.

Building a Building

In counseling for baptism, we were admonished to “count the cost” before accepting the responsibility of receiving God’s Holy Spirit. We were to do an accounting of what we were getting ourselves into, before we took on the lifelong commitment and all it entailed.
In Luke 14:28-30 we read, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish…”

Now that we have taken on this responsibility, how is our tower proceeding? By now we should have laid a foundation of the elementary doctrines of God (compare Hebrews 6:1-2) and built upon the Rock that cannot be shaken (compare Luke 6:48). That having been done, we are to be working on our tower.

When constructing our building, are we using good quality materials? We need to have Christ as our Cornerstone–the One that will last (compare Matthew 21:42). Is our craftsmanship all that it should be? Is the tower crooked or are there gaps in it? Or is it fitted together appropriately (compare Ephesians 2:21)?

If we use the blueprint we have been given, we can be God’s building (compare 1 Corinthians 3:9)–one that will endure to the end (compare Matthew 24:13); one that will mold and shape us (compare Matthew 21:44); and one that will allow us to house the Holy Spirit, for which we initially counted the cost (compare 1 Corinthians 3:16).

In the Same Way

When Jesus came to Earth as a human, He was able to live a perfect and sinless life. We are to follow our Example (1 Peter 2:21) and keep all the commandments of God (1 John 5:2-3) and move on towards a sinless perfection (Hebrews 6:1).

Being fully human just as we are, how did Christ manage to live to such a high standard? The simple and quick answer is that He utilized the Holy Spirit and kept His eye on the goal ahead. Now the more pertinent question for us today: how are we to follow in the steps of Christ and lead the same exemplary life? The simple and quick answer is in the same exact way that He did!

We have the goal of the Kingdom of God set before us (Matthew 6:33) and to help us get there, we have at our disposal the same exact means Jesus had …that is the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:6, 11). We have access to the very power of God with which all things are possible (Mark 10:27).

Through the Passover Lamb, Christ, the Spirit of God was made more readily available (John 1:29, 36; 16:7). Now it is incumbent upon us who are imbued with the selfsame Holy Spirit to make the most of it by calling upon God for the help that we need in order to live a more perfect life. If we do ask God for this help, He will hear and answer us, enabling us to accomplish THE goal of eternal life in His Family.


Often when we are exposed repeatedly to some outside factor, the tendency, over time, is to become calloused to it. The more frequently that we are influenced by the same event, the less likely we are to be affected by it in the future.

For example, the more that a person reads, sees and hears about the lawlessness going on presently in this world, the easier it becomes to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to it. For instance, there are over 40 conflicts/uprisings/insurgencies (however we choose to describe war) currently in motion; are we aware that the world is in such bad shape? What about the other atrocities that we are cognizant of through the media? Have we turned off because of the inundation?

Even more importantly, have we allowed the sins around us to diminish our need to re-examine our lives continuously and scrutinize every aspect of it thoroughly? In the covenant that we made with God at baptism, we committed to becoming righteous. We promised to seek first His ways and to pursue perfection (compare Matthew 6:33; 5:48; Hebrews 6:1). Are we doing this or are we just “getting by”?

There are many warnings in the Bible for the people of God in the end-time that show that we are not a foregone conclusion. In fact, just the opposite! Do statements like the following resonate with us: “… many are called but few are chosen,” “the love of many will grow cold,” and “you are neither cold nor hot”? Now is the time to be doing what we are supposed to be doing!

As prophecy falls into place and time grows short, we must be moved to action by the events that are going on around us. Let us sigh and cry and not become hardened through some systematic desensitization. But rather, let us distinguish ourselves in such a manner that when Christ returns He will have no problem recognizing us.

While It Is Day

As the days grew shorter and shorter recently, I found myself reflecting on the things I wished I could do, but could not, because it was now dark. I long for the extended days of light when I could do the things that I want to do and need to do.

These days will come again, but the question that remains is, will I make the most of them when they arrive? Have I learned the lesson from the extra hours that I had to spend in the dark? Will I make hay while the sun shines? Will I accomplish the work that I need to do while I have the light to do it?

What about the Church? Will we be productive and fruitful while we have the opportunity to do the Work? Will we perform the work that God has placed in our hands and has given us the responsibility to accomplish? In John 9:4, we read Christ’s words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

There was a time when we had more of the day in front of us, but now the night is near. Do we feel the deadline approaching? Is the onus of that which is ahead weighing heavily upon us? Are we motivated by the fact that we have made a commitment to do the work that God has given to each of us individually?

In Matthew 21:28-31, we read this, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

The answer is obviously the one that repented of his wrong attitude and eventually did the work.

Right now it is still day, but we are rapidly approaching the twilight of the Work, and then it will be night. It may then be too late to do the work effectively that we will have to give an account for (Romans 14:11-12). Without delay, let us follow the example of Christ and work the works of Him who gave us this great calling… while it is day.

Groping in the Dark

When the lights go out and we are left in the pitch black, typically the first thing we search for is a source of light – a flashlight, a candle, etc. Without light, we are prone to stumble and fumble. Sometimes the smallest things will trip us up in our quest to find what we are looking for. Also, along the way we will grasp several wrong items as we probe for the right one.

Spiritually speaking, the same condition currently exists today. There is a pitch black that has descended upon this world. Because of it, people are wandering blindly, grabbing and taking a hold of whatever they run into, believing it to be a means of helping themselves.

In the darkness, they have grabbed a hold of guns for protection; politicians or parties for guidance; money for deliverance; man-made or contrived philosophies for salvation; science for true knowledge; war for accomplishing peace; poisons for healing; the unjust for justice; and the list goes on and on as the blind continue to follow the blind.

The world as an overwhelming whole has rejected the ONE thing that can shed light on these subjects and give us the answers we are looking for: God and His Way as outlined by the Bible. Of course, those who have not read and studied the pages of the “Owner’s Manual” will scoff at the idea that this could possibly be the solution for the ills of mankind.

Isaiah describes the condition of man in this way: “Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places” (Isaiah 59:9-10).

BUT, before we begin to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, we need to reflect on whether we still have blind-spots, things God wants us to see, but that we cannot notice because we are not walking completely in the light? Do we see everything clearly that we need to, or is it vague because we have not come completely out of the shadows?

We were once floundering in the dark, trying out the misdirected ways of the world, but God in His mercy has turned on the light for us, “in the hope that [we] might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:27).