Our Relationship to God
Dave Harris will give the sermon this Sabbath. The title of the sermon is: “Our Relationship To God.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
by Dave Harris
The greatest prophet who ever lived spoke to His generation about the good news of the Kingdom of God. Of that prophet’s work, these words seem to sum up how many of those who heard Him responded: “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him.” (John 12:37).
This is, of course, the Savior-Jesus Christ. In chapter 8 of John, verse 43, Jesus said to some of the Jews: ” ‘Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to LISTEN to My word.’ ” But these weren’t just any Jews. In verse 31 of this same chapter, we learn that He was speaking “…to those Jews who believed Him.” However, they dismissed what Jesus taught, and we see in verse 59 that these who once believed “…took up stones to throw at Him.”
At the first, these Jews-along with many of their countrymen-found Jesus to be a great attraction. After all, they thought He might just be their promised Messiah. And though He indeed was, they were unable to recognize Him as fulfilling that role. They had so shaped an expectancy into the way they interpreted the Word of God that when they heard the truth, they rejected it!
Peter, James and John were able-in vision-to see Jesus in the kingdom. What was further revealed to them at that time was something they were to do relative to the Son of God-they were to ” ‘…Hear Him!’ “
People have from time to time been in a position to hear the truth. The children of Israel heard the voice of God. Yet, they immediately turned to idolatry. Solomon, although God appeared to him twice in vision, later turned away from God.
However, we can also look to ourselves and our own generation. The truth of God has flowered in our time with many hearing the good news of the Kingdom of God. We, too, must be on guard to not take what we hear for granted or to turn away from what is true.
Paul spoke prophetically of a time to come when people-people who hear the truth-would have “itching ears.” He showed that the reason for this was that these people would put their own desires first, and because of this, they would not continue to listen to “sound doctrine.” (Cp. 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
We are further warned in Hebrews 4, verse 7, ” ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’ “
Just as does all of God’s Word, the voice that the three disciples heard speaks to all Christians for all times-and especially those of us upon whom the end of this age now falls–“Hear Him!”
This Week in the News
IRAQ — NO END IN SIGHT…
As we announced in our last Update (#77), Germany and France — the two leading European nations opposing a preventive military strike against Iraq — angrily rejected U.S. Minister of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld’s remarks identifying Germany and France with the “old Europe” and as an “isolated problem” within Europe. CNN.com stated on January 24 that “Rumsfeld’s comments had unusually brought unity among French and German politicians of left and right together with the two countries’ newspapers, from the German tabloids to the French heavyweights… Even the strongest advocates of U.S. policy in Berlin and Paris were annoyed, including Germany’s mass circulation Bild Daily, traditionally a vocal supporter of the United States.” CNN.com quoted excerpts from Bild’s editorial. We bring you here the entire text:
“Dear Mr. Rumsfeld:
“France and Germany are for you the ‘old Europe,’ and Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, etc., are the ‘modern Europe.’
“To start with two items: Without the old Europe, there would be no new world and you would not exist. Both your parents are of German descent. Also, ancient grandpa and grandma Rumsfeld, old residents of Bremen, do not like to hear in heaven, how you put down your native land.
“The ‘old Europe’ is a bridge to the childhood of America, and it led the way across the ocean to the forests and prairies of your country — and to the moon and back. The German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun has given you this triumph. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence, was inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution. He almost copied them : liberte, egalite, fraternite.
“Mr. Rumsfeld, hundreds of thousands of your ‘G.I.s’ fell for old Europe, because they freed us from the tyranny of Hitler. You are sinning against your own heroes by disparaging old Europe. Your ‘G.I.s’ died for the ideals of your place of origin.”
On January 28, the Los Angeles Times reported that Secretary of State Colin Powell was attempting to “repair [the] rift between [the] U.S. and Europe.” At the same time, he warned that the United States “is prepared to go to war alone.”
The L.A. Times also reported on the same day that Chief U.N. Weapons inspector Hans Blix gave a “tough report that helps Washington’s contention that Iraq has no intention of coming clean,” and that “Saddam Hussein does not appear to be serious about disarming.” USA Today added that “Iraqi weapons are missing,” including “VX nerve gas,” “anthrax,” “artillery shells,” “chemical bombs,” and “missile deployment.”
On January 28, President Bush gave his long-awaited State of the Union address. While he spoke for the first half about the U.S. economy, his tax plan, AIDS, Medicare reform, and education, he lunged out against Iraq in the second half of his speech. He pointed out that Iraq is an imminent threat, and that trusting Hussein’s restraint is “not an option.” He linked Saddam with al-Qaeda, said the Iraqi leader “is deceiving,” and made clear that he is willing to start a war together with those who will support him, regardless of whether the U.N. approves it or not. At the same time, he said that he is willing to work with the U.N., but not indefinitely.
The L.A. Times wrote in its “News Analysis”:
“President Bush’s state of the union address Tuesday night underscored how thoroughly his presidency is being driven by the fierce engine of war… His speech Tuesday night was dominated by the prospects of military action against Iraq — if not imminently, then before very long. ‘We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding,’ Bush said. ‘If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.'”
Reactions to Mr. Bush’s speech were mixed. Many criticized his domestic agenda as being doomed to fail, while pointing out that he did not present so far the evidence to the American people that Saddam is indeed in possession of weapons of mass destruction. While Mr. Bush stated that Saddam had not proven that he had destroyed the weapons, some observers felt that it is Mr. Bush’s burden to prove that Saddam possesses those weapons, to begin with.
Mr. Bush announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell will share these proofs with the U.N. Security Council on February 5.
On January 29, Russia’s Vladimir Putin stated that the United States must present irrefutable proof for their allegations (Der Stern). Otherwise, the weapons inspectors must be allowed to continue their search and investigation. Russia stated, too, that they had no information about ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda (msnbc news).
CNN.com reported on January 29 that “British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave full backing to U.S. President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address. But other nations — notably Russia and France — said Washington had not done enough to make the case for war against Iraq… CNN’s Jim Bittermann in Paris said that French President Jacques Chirac spoke to Blair on Tuesday night and told him nothing so far that he had seen justified military action against Iraq… German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sounded his most pessimistic in attempting to avert war. He was quoted by Reuters as telling a conference in the western town of Wesel on Wednesday: ‘The international situation, especially the crisis over Iraq is worrying me. I am worried about whether we will succeed in avoiding a war in Iraq.'”
On January 30, another bombshell hit the world in the ongoing saga of how to deal with Iraq. Spiegel Online reported, “Bush splits Europe.” It continued, “With a diplomatic offensive, U.S. President George Bush has succeeded to prevent a unified anti-war-coalition [in Europe]. The declaration of eight European countries seems to be saying, If you are not for the United States, then you are against it.” These eight countries, supporting the United States in the attempt to force Saddam to disarm, are Spain, Portugal, Italy, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Denmark. Germany and France were not even informed about the declaration ahead of time.
At the same time, according to the magazine, the European Parliament passed a resolution, calling on the United States not to take unilateral military action against Iraq. Instead, the United Nations is to do everything possible to find a peaceful solution. The European Parliament reiterated their position that a preventive military strike would violate international law and the U.N. Charter. Further, as msnbc reported, “former South African President Nelson Mandela lashed out at President Bush’s stance on Iraq, saying the U.S. leader, along with British Prime minister Tony Blair were undermining the United Nations, and suggested they would not be doing so if the organization had a white leader.”
Roman Catholic Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky of Berlin, Germany, also strongly criticized President Bush. As Der Spiegel Online reported on January 30, the Catholic leader of Berlin stated that President Bush cannot expect to be viewed by the international community as a prophet. We will not do so, he said, adding that the Catholic Church has condemned a preventive military strike against Iraq.
It will remain to be seen what Germany and France will do. The attempt by some European countries to ignore them, intimidate them, or to push them into a corner might very well backfire on them. Germany and France are the leaders of Europe. They have the support of the Catholic and Protestant Churches. European countries such as Great Britain and Denmark might very well find themselves outside the confines of the European community before long. In addition, the Bible prophecies that the final United States of Europe will be “divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile… they will not adhere to one another.” (Daniel 2:41-43). When c
hallenged or perceived to be challenged, however, by the United States, Great Britain, and certain other nations, they will give their power, authority and strength for a short time (“one hour”) to a future powerful, autocratic, political and military European leader (compare Revelation 17:12-13). As we see events developing, this time is not too far away.
Q: What is the "tithe of the tithe"?
A: Many years ago, the Church of God, under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late Pastor General of the Church, made the administrative decision to ask Church members and co-workers to send one tenth of their second tithe to the Church, to be used for necessary Feast of Tabernacles expenses, including rental for Church halls. Since then, the Church has usually referred to this amount as the “tithe of the tithe.” Church members and co-workers were asked to calculate their second tithe available to them at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and to send ten percent of that (calculated) amount to the Church, in advance, as soon as possible. This practice has allowed the Church to avoid using for the payment of Feast expenses general contributions received to be spent for the preaching of the gospel and the feeding of the flock.
At the time of the institution of the “tithe of tithe,” and sometimes since then, consideration has been given to the possibility to, instead, charge each individual Feast attendee with the same amount for his or her Feast attendance. This possibility was rejected, however, as it was judged to be arbitrary and unfair. Some Church members do not have jobs or live on small pensions, while others earn good salaries. Following Biblical principles (compare Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35; 2 Corinthians 8:12-15), it was determined that the institution of the “tithe of the tithe” was the most equitable way for all concerned, to provide for the payment of necessary Feast expenses to be incurred by the Church, and also to help those less fortunate, as much as possible, to attend the Feast.
The Church of the Eternal God sees no Biblical reason to change Mr. Armstrong’s decision, realizing the Biblical wisdom for the decision, and acknowledging that the Church has the administrative authority to bind and loose matters like these (compare Matthew 16:19; 18:18).
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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