How to surmount unusual disasters and tragedies

Ocean Disappears As Hurricane Irma Sucks All Sign Of Water Away From Beaches

HAVE YOU NOTICED how the calamities and disasters of late are becoming more unusual and bizarre? The high-magnitude earthquakes occurring in greater frequency during the last decade.1 The fierce storms that cause severe floodings, on one side,2 while sucking dry some shores, on the other.3 The ensuing famines as reflected in the rising rates of hunger and poverty.4 News of such disasters can already be disheartening to observers. How much more is it for the surviving victims and their affected loved ones?

But even if we are nowhere near the calamity-stricken places, we also face problems of our own. Our daily troubles may not be as catastrophic as those captured in media reports but they can also be devastating and seemingly insurmountable. In fact, we also find ourselves in uncertain situations that test the limits of our inner strength and confidence.

When problems hit us where they hurt the most, how must we cope? As members of the Church Of Christ, what should we always remember in the face of the obstacles we never thought we would go through?

 

Our hope is greater than our troubles

God is our hope. Life’s tragedies can be unimaginably difficult, but the help that comes from God is far greater than any unusual disaster. The Bible tells us:

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us.” (Eph. 3:20 The Message)

What God can do is far beyond the sphere of our limited knowledge, capacity, and imagination. His power is infinite and wondrous. No problem cannot be solved by God’s help.

Not only do we have God to rely on; we also have His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to give us “the strength to meet and overcome every difficulty and circumstance” (Phil. 4:13 Last Days Bible). Rather than panic or cringe in fear, let us take courage in believing that God can and will help us even in ways no one could guess or expect.

 

God’s help: felt and experienced

Experience has proven how wondrous God’s promised help can be. Thankfully recounting how God rescued the Israelites from their fierce enemies, the Psalmist said, “If the LORD had not been on our side when our enemies attacked us, then they would have swallowed us alive in their furious anger against us” (Ps. 124:2-3 Good News Bible).

Enemies are not just people; even situations of circumstances that run counter to our favor can be as menacing and overwhelming. But as what the early servants experienced, “the LORD … has not let our enemies destroy us. We have escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap,” for, indeed, “Our help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth: (Ps. 124:6-8 GNB).

That is also the experience of the faithful Christians in the first century led by the apostles. Through all the persecutions, distresses, and difficulties they suffered, they found God’s grace sufficient, His loving-kindness more than enough, and His mercy always available regardless of the situation. And with the power of Christ that dwelt in them, they overcame their weaknesses and emerged strong—truly able, truly powerful and truly drawing from God’s strength (II Cor. 12:9-10 Amplified Bible 2015).

 

Learning from our overwhelming burdens

When Apostle Paul confidently asserted on behalf of his fellow Christians then, that they were glad and well-pleased with sufferings, it was not as if the trials they faced were light and easy. In fact, during the apostle’s missionary journey to Asia, what he and the brethren went through completely overwhelmed them. “The burden was more than we could bear,” said Apostle Paul, stressing that they even told themselves, “this was the end.” Nevertheless, because God saved them from imminent death, the apostle realized that such overwhelming experience taught them a valuable lesson: to trust not in themselves but in God (II Cor. 1:8-10 Phillips Translation).

 

What it means to trust in God

Trust in God cannot be faked. Those who truly trust in God are the ones who (1) fear, (2) revere and (3) worship Him (Ps. 31;19 Amplified Bible).

To fear God is to hate evil Prov. 8:13). God-fearing Christians, therefore, renew their lives completely. They don’t lead sinful lives.

To revere God is to be obedient to His will, for those who are reverent before Him live in responsive obedience (Phil. 2:12 MSG). They don’t just pick and choose which commands to obey. They follow all of God’s teachings uncompromisingly.

To worship God, His servants gather themselves together to sing hymns, offer prayers, give offerings, and hear His words inside the temple or house of worship (I Cor. 14:26, 15; Heb. 13:15-16; Ps. 5:7; Isa. 2:3). Those who trust God don’t forsake such meetings for worship (Heb. 10:25).

Therefore, those who trust in God renew their lives completely, keep on obeying His commands responsively, and fulfill their duty to worship Him constantly. In so doing, they have the assurance that God’s help will always be available for them, especially when they need it most.

 

God is waiting for us to ask for His help

When terrifying things happen, it will be a terrible thing for us not to approach God and ask for help. The Lord God expects His people to call on Him:

“I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’ to a nation that ignored me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me, People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way.” (Isa. 65:1-2 MSG)

Let us not disappoint God as done by those who ignored Him. Doing so will not help us get through our troubles but will only make things worse. No matter how severe our hardships are, we must keep on worshiping God, obeying His commands, and renewing our lives. For, when we prove hat we fully trust and take refuge in Him, we will be able to surmount any unusual tragedy or disaster in life:

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, … God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Eph. 3:14-20 MSG)


By MARLEX C. CANTOR

Based on the lesson taught by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, during his pastoral visit to the Local Congregation of Muntinlupa, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila South on September 30, 2017

 

Endnotes

1Tyagi, H. (2014, October 25). Worldwide Surge in ‘Great’ Earthquakes Seen in Past 10 Years. Retrieved from www.nbcnews.com

2Loria, K. (2017, September 26)). This Hurricane Season Has Been Exceptionally Bad—And It’s Not Going To Get Any Better. Retrieved from futurism.com

3Meyjes, T. (2017, September 10). Ocean Disappears As Hurricane Irma Sucks All Sign Of Water Away From Beaches. Retrieved from metro.co.uk

4Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. (2017, September 13). Cred Crunch Newsletter, Issue No. 48 September 2017-“Disaster Data: A Balanced Perspective”. Retrieved from reliefweb.int

No reason for despair

THE PREVALENCE OF HOPELESSNESS and of people resorting to criminal acts when they find themselves in dire straits can be interpreted as lack of trust in God. Sadly, many think that  believing in what God can do in times of difficulties is an idea that has become outmoded or has lost its usefulness.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures” is how some people justify their aberrant behavior—saying adverse circumstances force them to commit their misdeed. Others, on the other hand, succumb to hopelessness and misery. More than 300 million people suffer from depression, the World Health Organization says.

But despair has no place in the lives of God’s faithful servants. They believe that God Who parted the Red Sea to deliver the ancient Israelites from the Egyptian army, made water gush out of rocks to quench their thirst, and performed other works of wonder is the same God Whom they can rely on to make miracles in their lives.

Apostle Paul says: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Eph. 3:20 The Message)

Nothing is impossible with God. He can do anything in our wildest imagination, far more than we could ever request. His power has not diminished through the ages, for He neither faints nor is weary (Isa. 40:28). Though we may not see today the same kind of miracles He performed during the olden times, God’s omnipotence remains evident in the lives of His chosen ones today, the members of the Church Of Christ.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo is God’s modern-day miracle. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds, this Church bucked the trend and made astonishing feats where others have lagged and failed. From its modest beginnings and preached by a man seen to be bereft of earthly virtues, the Church has spread far and wide—with congregations in 142 countries and territories, and members from more than 130 races and ethnicities.

Some might point out that other religious organizations have also started small and grown extensively. But what make the Iglesia Ni Cristo feats truly remarkable are the enormous odds stacked against it. It emerged in the Philippines at a time when Catholic beliefs were already widely entrenched within the archipelago and Protestantism had deeply taken root—the surrounding were simply too hostile and not conducive for the growth of the then budding Church. Compounding the problem was the eruption of the Second World War, and the subsequent foreign occupation of the Philippines.

The Church survived those testing times—flourishing and growing by leaps and bounds despite the unfavorable setting. Such expansion remains unabated even now when the so-called Religious Recession has afflicted majority of Christian-professing groups. While many churches are experiencing significant drop in their membership and clergy, the opposite is happening to the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Multitudes of converts are being added continually, hundreds of ministers are being ordained yearly, and scores of new houses of worship are built annually.

Members of the Church Of Christ have proven true in their life what Apostle Paul taught: God can do beyond what His people could ever imagine or request. The uninterrupted triumphs of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in its 104-year journey are nothing less than miraculous and bespeak God’s infinite power and glory—as He fulfilled His promises to the Church in these last days (Isa. 41:9-16; 43:5-6, 46:11-13; 62:11-12  ). It is He, the omnipotent God, Who made the impossible possible, the unachievable achievable.

“Because I have the strength to meet and overcome every difficulty and circumstance, through the power that Christ gives me.” (Phil. 4:13 Last Days Bible)

Hence, true Christians in desperate times cling tightly to God. When life gets tough and burdens become too heavy to bear, they turn to their Creator:

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father …” (Eph. 3:14 MSG)


Dennis C. Lovendino
God’s Message Magazine 2018

The fault in the stars

The (mis)guidance given by
horoscopes, lucky charms,
and other divination tecniques

By MANDY A. NEPOMUCENO

HOROSCOPE COLUMNS are a familiar section in newspapers and astrology-related books and magazine articles are a glut on the market, while talks and programs about them even pepper the television and radio. A city study suggests that over 90% of adults around the world know their zodiac signs; there is even a thriving astrological community online (Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement. Routledge, 2012).

There are also people, old and young alike, men or women, in various nationalities and cultures who perform rituals or acquire ornaments or knickknacks, believing that those can enhance their fortune and “charm” luck to their side. Truly, the allure of these things endures even in this age of technology. It is one thing to know or read about them; to believe in them is another. A ready justification is always that it is “a bit of fun.” Still, there are people who take charms and “readings” very seriously. For them, these give meaning to otherwise random events in their lives. They rely heavily and even make important life decisions based entirely on predictions or amulets, putting their entire trust even when addressing the biggest, most profound issues. And if disappointments come, they blame the fault in their stars, while frantically searching for another trinket they believe would be more effective and powerful.

Should someone who truly believes in the Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ also be found owning a lucky charm or engaging in the practice of astrology? Is it just harmless fun to engross oneself in them or are they potentially dangerous to one’s soul?

 

A treacherous paradox

Astrology, a divination technique, is the belief that the stars and planets strongly influence our lives. People who are into it claim that to understand its appeal is to get comfortable with paradoxes: It feels simultaneously cosmic and personal; spiritual and logical; ineffable and concrete; real and unreal. (Julie Beck, “The New Age Of Astrology,” 18 January 2018, The Atlantic). Aside from astrology, there are also dozens and quite possibly hundreds of methods of prediction that fit into the category of divination. Since earliest times, some people have gazed into the skies to predict their future—from the Babylonians and Egyptians in 2000 BC to the Greeks and Romans in 200 BC (James Herschel Holden, A History Of Horoscopic Astrology, 1996).

In the same vein, lucky charms are prevalent in most world cultures, and have been for eons. They might be a lucky pair of socks, or a piece of jewelry; whatever the item, or even in the arrangement of living spaces according to what they claim as mystical energy levels—some people turn to them to help achieve a goal.

What makes them appealing to others is their promise to supply answers for both the “big” and “little” questions people regularly face. For instance, from giving character analyses to providing daily advice, those beliefs claim to offer a systematic approach by which people can make order in their lives (www.equip.org/perspectives/divination). These become even more seductive because some people claim that they work! Thus, to naively and outrightly proclaim that they do not work will never get anyone to give them up.

What needs to be shown is how offensive those are before the Almighty God. The Bible proclaims, thus:

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” (Deut. 18:10-12 New International Version)

Those beliefs are insulting to God because they attribute to planets and stars and other things the power that belongs to God alone and because they try to find His will by means other than what He has appointed. Throughout the Bible we are taught that God Himself, not the stars, will guide us in our life’s journey and big decisions:

“Our God is merciful and tender. He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us and to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death, to guide our steps into the path of peace.” (uke 1:78-79 Good News Bible)

The Almighty God reveals to us that the key to receiving His blessings is obedience to His commands, not in performing vain rituals or obtaining any fancy object:

“The holy God of Israel, the LORD who saves you, says: ‘I am the LORD your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go. If only you had listened to my commands! Then blessings would have flowed for you like a stream that never goes dry. Victory would have come to you like the waves that roll on the shore.” (Isa. 48:17-18 GNB)

All forms of divination, thus, should be rejected. Trusting in them instead of in God’s providence is a gross violation of the first and greatest commandment. Apostle Paul urged believers to test everything and hold fast to that which is good (I Thess. 5:21) and not to be deceived by empty philosophy (Col. 2:8), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), or any belief that can potentially lead people away from the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Those things have the same jarring ramification: to lead people into embracing false doctrine, thus distorting their understanding of God’s revealed truth. Hence, believing in horoscopes and the like, and even in lucky charms, is hardly an innocent and harmless activity.
They are, in fact, very dangerous, that is why they should be avoided at all costs. We should not go there. Not even for curiosity. Nothing at all about them is “lucky.”

 

No luck needed

There is a reason the word “luck” does not appear in the Bible (an exception is the paraphrased The Message, which uses it as slang or to mean “blessing”). Luck and belief in divination certainly would not help anybody escape from condemnation of God. Prophet Isaiah even spoke with derision to those who believe in such:

“Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.” (Isa. 47:12-14 NIV)

What we need is to trust in God, not in those things. Those who trust in God and in what He can do are not “disturbed by unusual sights in the sky” (Jer. 10:2 GNB). We should seek guidance not from heavenly bodies, but from our heavenly Father who has made everything:

“I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.” (Ps. 62:5-8 GNB).

The Almighty God leads us, not toward destruction and condemnation, but toward our salvation:

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:3-4 New King James Version)

What we need then is not luck, but the truth. The truth is the words of God (John 17:17). The truth that will lead us to salvation is spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold.

“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7, 9 Revised English Bible)

The sheepfold or flock where people should come into or enter is none other than the “Church Of Christ” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). Our aspiration to be safe, secured, and protected should lead us not to divination methods but to the true Church Of Christ, which is guaranteed with redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. The correct path is not in or among the stars; rather, the right path is Christ, and to walk in Him is to obey His commands, one of which is to enter His Church.

 

 

 

What the stars say

The Bible has much to say about the stars. Most basic to our understanding of the stars is that God created them. They show His power and majesty. The heavens are God’s “handiwork” (Ps. 8:3; 19:1 NKJV). He has all the stars numbered and named (Ps. 14:7:4). However, it should be clear to us that God forbids His people to give credit or fear the constellations and conjunctions of stars and planets which have no power of themselves but are governed by Him. He derides their vain confidence, who put their trust in anything but in Him, condemning also such, which serve no use, but to delude the people and to take them away from depending only on Him.

The stars should awaken our wonder at God’s power, wisdom, and infinitude. We could use the stars to keep track of time and place and, more importantly, to remind us that God is faithful and almighty. All the while, we acknowledge the Creator of the heavens our wisdom comes from God, not the stars (James 1:5). The Word of God, the Bible, is our guide through life (Ps. 119:105) Our savior is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:31). We do not need psychics, horoscopes, lucky charms, Ouija boards, feng shui, magical statues, guaranteed novenas, or any other divination because, as Apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 12:9, God’s grace is enough.

Let God direct our lives

“‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.”   
(Isaiah 55:8-9, New Living Translation)

IT SEEMS IRONIC that the world’s lone superpower has 40 million of its citizens living in poverty. Forty million—that’s more than the population of Canada, and more than 1½ times that of the Australian continent.

“The United States [of America],” wrote Philip Alston of the United Nations, “is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries. But neither wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million [Americans] continue to live in poverty” (The Guardian Online, December 15, 2017).  

Arif Husain, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), revealed for the first time in a decade, the number of people suffering hunger is back on rise (Hurriyet Daily News Online, December 17, 2017). He disclosed that the number of people who “go to bed hungry each night has risen from 777 million to 815 million today.”

What’s going on?

Although man has made great strides in food production and technology, hundreds of millions today are still suffering from chronic malnutrition. Around 22,000 children die daily due to starvation (UNICEF). And despite huge scientific breakthroughs in health and medicine, millions still die from various diseases and plagues.

It is quite obvious that despite man’s persistent efforts to improve his life and living conditions, his lot does not seem to get any better. Why?

 

Mortals cannot run their own lives

It is within man’s power to take charge of his life and put it in order? Can he chart his own course and steer his life toward a good end? The Bible answers:

“I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their lives, That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.” (Jer. 10:23 The Message)

Man, on his own, is incapable of running his own life. The Bible further illustrates his inability to take charge of his life by pointing out how completely oblivious he is of what lies before him:

“A person never knows what will happen to him next. He is like a fish caught in a net—the fish does not know what will happen. In the same way a person is trapped by the bad things that suddenly happen to him.” (Eccles. 9:12 Easy-to-Read Version)

Try to recall some of the recent disasters in history—the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed close to a quarter million people, the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017—and ask yourself: If the people who perished in those tragedies knew in advance they would happen, would have they gone to those places? Man, undeniably, is totally clueless on what the future brings.

 

Knowledge increases sorrow

What if man acquires immense wisdom—will it solve all his problems and ensure his good fortune? King Solomon, a man of notable achievements, regrettably says no:

“I spoke with my heart, saying, ‘Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over all Jerusalem before me; and my mind had observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge.’ And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. For in much [human] wisdom there is a much displeasure and  exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.” (Eccles. 1:16-18 Amplified Bible 2015)

IF earthly wisdom were the cure-all to man’s woes, as others may believe, then life would have been trouble-free for those who have acquired it Sadly, that is not the case. For even people of notable educational achievements are not spared from life’s pains and sorrows.

 

The One Who can assure man’s good

It behooves us, then to know: Who alone can bring what is good for man? The Creator Himself declares:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hoe’.” (Jer. 29:11 New Living Translation)

Only the all-powerful God can bring man a future filled with hope. The Lord Almighty alone knows what is best for an and only He can direct man’s steps toward his ultimate good.

Sadly, there are those who think that they do not need God to show them the way; that they—on their own, using their own knowledge and faculties00can make their aspirations come true. Should man even think that his wisdom is on a par with God’s? Are human thoughts the same as that of the Almighty? The Lord answers:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.” (Isa. 55:8-0 NLT)

A drop in a vast ocean—that’s how infinitesimal and inferior man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man to trust in his own power and wisdom in bringing about the good future he hopes for.

 

Placing our trust in God

In whom, then, should man place his trust? The Bible says:

“Trust the LORD and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Let the LORD lead you and trust him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right.” (Ps. 37:3-6 Contemporary English Version)

Man, clearly, is not the master of his own destiny. Instead of directing his own course,, he must commend himself and his future to the hands of his Creator, Who—as stated in a preceding verse—knows the good plans He has for man.

 

God’s master plan

What is one of God’s plans for man that would bring about his good and the future he hopes for? Apostle Paul says,

“May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the church through Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21 Living Bible)

More than his well-being here on earth, it is man’s ultimate good—his salvation on Judgment Day—that God earnestly desires for him. In fact, the ever-compassionate God wants all man to be saved by coming to know the truth (I Tim.2:3-4). And God’s master plan for man’s salvation is intended for the Church through the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can man avail himself of the great opportunity to receive salvation which God plans for the Church through Christ? The Lord Jesus, the appointed Savior, says:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7,9 Revised English Bible)

The fold or flock which Christ commands people to enter in order to receive salvation is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). It is His Church which Christ promised to save and which the second death will not overcome (Eph. 5:23-25; Matt. 16:18 Today’s English Version; Rev. 20:14)).

 

Headed toward destruction

With this world rapidly spiraling toward its end, man should realize that all his toils and strivings to make his life on earth better are futile. God has appointed a day when this earth and everything in it will be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:7, 10). The only way he can attain his ultimate good—salvation on Judgment Day and attainment of life everlasting in the Holy City—is by allowing God to direct his life and be included in His master plan of salvation, that is, by becoming a member of the Church Of Christ.


By DENNIS C. LOVENDINO

Based on the lesson taught by Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo during his pastoral visit to Niugan, Laguna, RP on January 6, 2018

The Value of the Church Built by Christ

“WHY DO YOU VALUE THE CHURCH so much?” I noticed that even though life is very hard nowadays, with many losing their jobs and homes and others suffering from terrible natural disasters like earthquakes, your members just keep on giving so much importance to the Church and their membership in it. You have problems, but you still do not let go of the Church! How come you do that? How can you do that in these trying times? Why is the Church that important to you?” These are some of the observations and comments that people have made about the members of the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo). They have seen how much we love and value our Church membership. They see us as attending congregational worship services, sharing our faith with others, and supporting various Church activities, even though we also deal with our own share of difficulties or hardships in life It is obvious to them that the Church is so important in the lives of its members. Why? Is it a new thing?

Who values the Church Of Christ

The members give so much importance to the Church Of Christ because hey recognize the Church not simply as an ordinary organization or institution but rather as the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul said: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church … He is the head of he body, the church” (Co. 1:24, 18, New King James Version).

In these verses, we can see how Apostle Paul showed how much he valued the Church. He endured sufferings in his life for the sake of the Church, and he did so with rejoicing, not complaining. Man members of the Church then and now have also done the same.

Of course, Apostle Paul was not the only servant of God who valued the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself does, too! In fact, He is the best example of the one who loved the Church so much and made unparalleled sacrifices for it Not only did He establish His Church, but He also gave up His own life for it. Not only did He establish His church but He also gave up His own life for it: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and have Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, Ibid.).

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)

Besides his, he Holy Bible shows us further how important the Church really is by introducing the Church as being given the kingdom of God here upon the earth. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ said o the flock or the Church: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, NKJV).

So, the Holy Scriptures show us that the Church Of Christ is indeed valuable. It is important, for it is the body of Jesus Christ, it is that which was redeemed with His precious blood, and it is that to which God’s kingdom has been given. If God’s people in the past had high regard for the Church and valued it so much, then, why shouldn’t we?

The Importance of the Church Of Christ

Another thing that we need to understand with regard to the importance of the Church Of Christ is the promise that Christ made to the Church. He said that not even the power of death would ever be able to overcome His Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on his rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18, Revised Standard Version).

It is clear that the founder of the Church is Christ, and that the promise of the founder is that not even death will be able to prevail against it. The death that will not overcome us is the death that is the full payment of sin, which is the second death in the lake of fire (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14). It is from that death that members of the Church of Christ are spared or saved come Judgment Day.

 

How the Church won’t be overcome

The promise of Christ concerning salvation should not be taken to mean that once a person has joined His Church, he will never stop breathing and that he will no longer be buried in the cold earth. What Christ is showing is that there is resurrection of life. Look at what He said in John 5:28-29. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (NKJV).

There are two kinds of resurrection: One that is to life and he other that is to condemnation. Those who are included in the first resurrection of the dead are the fortunate ones who will be raised from the dead at the return of Christ and meet Him in the air Those who are still alive will no longer taste the first death, for they shall be caught up together with the ones resurrected first. We can read his in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (Ibid).

But where will we end up? In the Holy City where we will have a life that is glorious. Look at how Apostle John wrote about it in Revelation 21:1-4: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Ibid.).

Notice that in the Holy City, there will be no more death. The ones who can hope for his are those who have become members of the Church of Christ. So considering that the Church Of Christ will not be overcome by death, is it any wonder that we, members, hive such great value to the Church?

Why enter the Church Of Christ

Others may be wondering why they should be members of the Church Of Christ when they are already members of other religions. They may say, “To each his own. If you want to be members of the Church Of Christ, fine. But it is also fine if we will not, and just stay in whatever church we are in.” We should not be thinking that way, because Jesus Christ clearly issued this command to those who want salvation: “I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe … But there are other sheep of mine, not belonging to this fold; I must lead them as well, and they too will listen to my voice. There will then be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:9, 16, Revised English Bible)

Christ is clearly saying that those who come into the fold through Him will be safe or saved. The fold or flock should come into is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).

Therefore, even though we, Church members, have our own share of problems and difficulties in this world, we have decided to never let go of our membership, or leave the church We are ready to brave whatever troubles come our way and cling tightly to our membership, because we believed in the value or importance of the Church Of Christ is. Christ built it. He loves it. He gave His life for it. And when He returns, which is very soon, He will save this Church: “For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body” (Eph. 5:23, Today’s English Version).

So, since the Church Of Christ is truly important, does it not make sense that we give value to it by joining it and doing everything to remain in it?

A dad who makes a difference

A father has to work hard to provide his family with all the things they need to survive and, hopefully, thrive in this harsh world. It is tough being a father; a father must always make sure that everyone at home has enough food to eat and clothes to wear, and provides his wife and children with a decent and stable home. He also has to insure that all his children get the best education they can to help them have a bright and prosperous future. A good father does more than those things.

A good dad provides for the spiritual needs

Though it is important to make sure that our children have all the material things they need in this life to live comfortably, we should realize that is not the only thing that should concern us. As fathers, we have an even greater responsibility to them, and that is to help make sure their spiritual needs are provided for; that they are taught the true religion. That is not a personal opinion; that is what the Holy Scriptures teaches:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4 Amplified 2015)

The apostles advise the fathers inside the true Church Of Christ that they are to bring up or raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As fathers, we are not to let our children  grow up without any meaningful parental guidance or instruction. Though there are plenty of books and videos out there on the subject of raising kids, what we should take and hold on to as the ultimate guide or final authority in raising our children are the teachings and instructions of the Lord God, recorded in the Holy Scriptures (III Tim. 3:15-17). If ever the advice offered in a parenting book, video, or online post contradicts the sound or solid advice in the Holy Scriptures, we should choose to—without any hesitation or mental reservation whatsoever—follow and implement what the Scriptures say, for that is surely the right thing to do. A father will not go wrong if he sticks to or does what the Bible says is right.

       We should teach our children the laws of God, as fathers, not only once in a while or when the mood strikes us. We should do this consistently or on a regular basis, at all opportune times:

      “You and your descendants must respect the LORD your God as long as you live. You must obey all His laws and commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children. Talk about these commands when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:2, 6-7, Easy-To-Read Version)

We should realize, however, that our duty as fathers or parents is not done by simply telling our children what to do or by teaching them God’s will. We should be considerate and understanding with our children, and help them to know and understand the will of God. Be a patient and gentle teacher (II Tim. 2:24-25; I Thess. 2:11-12). We should also supervise or monitor their activities to make sure they are living the right way, that they are upholding a way of life that is consistent with the gospel of God.

Parents are to supervise the activities of the members of their family. We should ask ourselves: Are we doing this? Are we aware who their friends are and the people they hang out with? Is everyone living a lifestyle that conforms to God’s will or teachings? If not, what actions do we take to help them back on the right track? Parental instruction and supervision is vital for the happiness of the family within God’s nation. As dads, we must make sure that such instruction and supervision is done.

 

A good dad upholds biblical principles

The kind of leadership that, we fathers, provide within our home should be one that is firmly based on sound principles. The principles we uphold are a reflection of the things that matter most to us. For members of the Church Of Christ, the nation of God in the Christian era, a principle that they uphold and instill in their children is that—they will serve God. This is what God’s servant, Joshua, a family man himself, declared:

“But if you don’t want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15, Contemporary English Version)

Joshua said these words when he, as the leader of God’s people, challenged the Israelites to make up their minds about whom they were going to serve: the false gods that others had served before them, or the true God? For this father, his mind was already made up. He led his family in deciding to stand on God’s side and serve only Him. He declared with conviction, “My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” That principle is what we, as fathers of the Church Of Christ, want to uphold in our life, no matter how turbulent at times life may be; we are ready and willing to lead our wife and children in serving the one true God forever, even if it involves making sacrifices on our part.

To help encourage and convince our family to stand with us in upholding that principle, we should be willing to take the time to relate to them the wonderful things that God has done for us, our family, and the entire nation of God. This was instructed to parents in God’s nation before:

“You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. …And what makes us greater than other nations? We have God who is close to us and answers our prayers.” (Deut. 4:9, 7, Ibid.)

That is why it is important that we remember the good things that God has done. We are not only talking about the incredible things that God did for His ancient people; we are also talking about the amazing things that He has done for His people today. How greatly has God blessed the Church Of Christ and made it successful in all its endeavors since its establishment in 1914, more than 102 years ago? How wonderfully has He cared for us, the members? This shows how God has been so close to His people. When our children understand this, when they have this firmly embedded in their hearts and minds, it will produce in them an eagerness and enthusiasm to take their stand in the side of serving the one true God. This is what we want to see happen, as good fathers.

It is not enough, though, that our children just know about the one true God. To show that we have taken our stand to serve God we should be filled with determination to lead our wife and children to attend worship services to honor and praise Him for all His goodness.

“The Lord will choose a single place where He is to be worshiped, and there you must bring to Him everything that I have commanded: your sacrifices that are to be burned and your other sacrifices, your tithes and your offerings, and those special gifts that you have promised to the LORD. Be joyful there in His presence, together with your children …” (Deut. 12:11-12, Good News Translation)

Good dads in the Church Of Christ always make sure that all the members of their households are fully dedicated to attending the congregational worship service. They see to it that no matter how busy life gets, everyone in the family regularly attends the worship service, to give glory to the Lord God.

 

A good dad defends his wife and children

A good dad is a protector of his family; he does everything he can to keep them safe. For example, he is ready to defend them from bad people who want to hurt or take advantage of them. But, most of all, he will defend his wife and children from anything that could call them to be turned away from God. This is what the Bible says:

“Make sure that no man, woman, family, or tribe standing here today turns from the LORD our God to worship the gods of other nations. This would be like the root that grows to be a bitter and poisonous plant.” (Deut. 29:18, Ibid.)

What causes people to be turned away or separated from God is sin (Isa. 59:2). So, we want to make sure that no one in our family is doing anything that is sinful in the watchful eyes of the Lord God. We want to help our children cultivate in themselves the ability to refuse (or say no) to do anything evil when people, like friends, try to get them to do it. Solomon, a king and a father himself, told his own child:

“My son, should your less honorable peers pressure you to do what is wrong, you should be strong enough not to go along.” (Prov. 1:10, The Voice)

We want to see our children grow and learn to be able to stand on their own feet. We want them to succeed in getting a good education and a gainful job or career that can provide for their needs and their future families. But, most of all, we want them to be spiritually strong as members of the Church Of Christ. But that will happen only when the true word of God, has found a home in them or lives in them. This is what Apostle John wrote:

“I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One. Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.” (I John 2:14-16, GNT)

 

A good dad and his family will be blessed

As good fathers who diligently and patiently teach the true religion to our household, who lead our wife and children to live a life of obedience and loyalty to the Lord God, we will see Him bless our entire household. We will enjoy happiness and blessings from God even in this life:

“Happy are those who obey the LORD, who live by His commands. Your work will provide for your needs; you will be happy and prosperous. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in your home, and your children will be like young olive trees around your table. A man who obeys the LORD will surely be blessed like this.” (Ps. 128:1-4, Ibid.)

But that is not all. For the ultimate happiness or blessing that awaits a family that has been taught the true religion—where the father has done his duty to make sure his family has learned and abides by the true word of God—is the reward of salvation and everlasting life in the Holy City (Rev. 21:1-4, 14).

If we and our whole family have served God loyally all the days of our lives and, thus, make it to the Holy City, then what more can we say? As imperfect and flawed as we are as men, we have done our job as a father and could ask for nothing more. So, let us be the father that God wants us to be.


By JOHNNY J. MARTIN

 

About the love of money

By ERVIN M. ALMEDINA

IS THE BELIEF that money is the root of evil all true? Isn’t money essential? Don’t we use it to obtain our basic needs, to take care of our family, and also to help other people in need? “So how an it be the root of all evil?,” one may argue.

What does the Bible say regarding this? Apostle Paul declared: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10, New King James Version, emphasis ours).

The “root of all kinds of evil then is not money per se but the “love of money”. People, especially in these last days, will become lovers of money. The Bible foretold through the same apostle that” … people will love only themselves and their money …” (II Tim. 3:2, Living Bible).

Our Lord Jesus Crist warned against being too occupied with gaining material riches, saying, thus:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36, NKJV). Indeed, the Bible clarifies, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath” for neither their silver nor their gold can save man in “the day of the LORD’S wrath” or Judgment Day (Pro. 11:4; Zeph. 1:18; II Pet 3:7, 10 Ibid.).

That is why our Lord Jesus Christ gave this warning: “… Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be” (Luke 12:15, Today’s English Version).

One’s love or excessive desire for money is shown in the manner by which he obtains and uses money or material wealth. It is people’s love of money that has made the present times perilous, for others will lie, cheat, bribe, slander, and even kill just to get it. That is why Apostle Paul said: “…in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money …” (II Tim. 3:1-2, LB). He also said, “Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (I Tim 6:17, Ibid.).

For true Christians, money is primarily used for a higher purpose—in giving glory to God. Apostle Paul teaches: “Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven—it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well” (I Tim. 6:18-19, Ibid.)