Sermon

God's Chosen Leaders

by Jon Pippy

27 August 2005

(PLAY FROM START)

We are glad to be with you once again. It is our privilege to be here, as I said before, to be connected, many listening in in the UK, the United States, Canada, we really are connected all over the globe.

The Feast time is fast approaching. I have to get my act together, I have to get organized, I've got to get some things done. But it will all work out, we are looking forward to it. It always does come together, so we are not too concerned about that.

The title of my sermon today; for those who like titles, and of course we need titles when we send tapes out, is simply three words; God's Chosen Leaders.

What does God do when there are times of crises among His people? Well the books of I and II Samuel for example are wonderful expressions of the heart of God in times of spiritual and physical crises for His people. His Covenant people, I might add. God has entered into a covenant with each of us hasn't He? We entered into that covenant at baptism, many years ago for a number of us, and recently for others.

This Covenant process is seen in Exodus 19 and 20 for example. God dealt very specifically regarding the conditions of this Covenant, and what we call, or refer to, as the Law. Let's go to Exodus chapter 19 and see some very clear and simple statements of the relationship God wants to have with His people. You are wondering what this has to do with God's chosen leaders? Well, we will find out shortly, if you are wondering that is. Exodus 19:4:

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:4-6 NKJV) {1}

The one clear and simple condition that His people were to meet, in verse five, it says; "...obey [obey] My voice and keep My covenant..." (Exodus 19:5) Very simple, easy to understand. No degrees in psychology required. Throughout the Old and New Testament, difficulties or crises were usually seen when His people departed from their covenant with God. That is when you see the wheels coming off the cart, so to speak. Let's go to Deuteronomy 7:6:

"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God [He is speaking to us here brethren as well, it is not just to our forefathers, we have been chosen, we have been called. God has a covenant with us, we have a covenant with Him] the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number [or you were better] than any other people, for you were the least of all people; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; [then he says here in verse 11] Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them." (Deuteronomy 7:6-9,11)

Notice over in Deuteronomy 10:12 just to kind of set the table here for this thing:

"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you [lots of tithes and money? No], but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

It is for your good, it is for my good. It is not because He's a difficult God to serve.It is no different today, is it? This was given back to our forefathers. It is no different today. Mr Armstrong always talked about the two ways of life. Nothing has changed since he uttered those words, as well. We are spiritual Israel. It is for the Church today, as much as for our forefathers. Let's notice over here in John 15:16, Jesus Christ spoke basically the same thing:

"You did not choose Me [talking to His disciples], but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give it you." (John 15:16)

God the Father called us and gave us to Christ, the leader and the head of the Church. We have been chosen because we are so wonderful, so good looking, with all the money in the bank. NO! We are nothing, we are nothing. But God has decided He wants to shower down His love and concern on you and me, and someday, on all of humanity.

God Always Provides a Leader During Times of Crisis (PLAY FROM 06:14)

Because of God's covenant with His people. When they departed from it, and they departed from it often, He raised up a prophet, or a spiritual leader to help get the people back on the correct path. They were always having to put them back on the right path, because they kept falling off the wagon. Going and following their own ways.

All through Biblical history, God raised up for Himself certain individuals. There was Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the list goes on and on and on. All down through time. God raised up Mr Herbert Armstrong and under Christ, used him to lead the fight in this end time; to carry the banner, to restore what was lost and dying. Restore the truth. Restore the truth about the Covenant and all that it encompasses. To speak boldly, because God saw that was a time of crisis for the Church.

The Word of God was dying. It was going to slip away, and God said, "...It will never die." (Matthew 16:18 paraphrased) He chose Mr Armstrong to lead the Church back into a vital relationship with Him. Most of us were witness to that reality. All during the past thirty three, thirty four years for some, and more,. we saw what God did through Mr Armstrong. The tremendous work that was raised up, and the impact that it had.

Over the years, God chose different people, but God remains constant and unchanging. He used different ones, but His purpose never varied. It was always the same. He works through people of His choosing. We just read that, God chooses, we don't decide. Mr Armstrong didn't put his hand up and say, "Yeah, I think I feel like doing that. I don't want to make a lot of money in business." No, it was the exact opposite. God made the choice.

We want to look at a man God chose to work with during a certain time in history. I am referring to Samuel. We are going to see how it relates to the experiences that Mr Armstrong had. A man that God chose at another time in history. He chose Samuel at a certain time in history. He chose Mr Armstrong at another time in history. It is amazing how there are so many similarities. We are going to see some of that hopefully.

I didn't plan to do it this way. I wanted to talk about Samuel. I was going to look into his life. But it just turned around. Every time I looked at something it related exactly to what Mr Armstrong had done, what God was doing through him. So that is kind of what happened. I had no intention of doing it. It was just the way it worked out.

The covenant relationship we have with God is lived out in what we could call defining moments in our lives. You know, specific occasions in our lives when we have to make decisions. Our decisions always reveal something about our relationship with God. It just depends on what the decision we make is. Which way do we go? Which way of life are we going to go?

There was a very strong and defining moment for many of us when Mr Tkach Sr. attempted to dismantle and destroy our covenant relationship with God. That was a defining moment! It was a defining moment for everyone, and our individual decision, and how we handled it revealed much about our relationship with God.

People we thought should have been strong, and should have stood for the truth, they wavered and they fell. They said, "It doesn't matter. It's up to him. He decides, I guess." But what does God say? They lost it. We just couldn't imagine the number of people that looked the other way, that never really had it.

The shattering and the scattering continues. In fact, our original association, I'm not going to mention their name, you know is in the process of changing their corporate name. Some of you may have heard about this. They are going to change the name to something that better describes who and what they are. I say that is exactly what they should do, because the current name does not reflect God's Church. They might have already changed it. Maybe you have read about it. That is where they are right now.

So as we look into the life of Samuel we will see how God works through His people, who works through His leaders who He sets up. He makes the choice of who is going to lead His Church, and who is going to lead at any particular point and time in history.

We are going to see how we must respond as well. We must constantly apply the truth of God or we are wasting our time! There is no time to waste anymore. I am not suggesting that you have been wasting it, but we can't. We can't waste a minute. I was talking with my wife on the way up, and remembering how the apostle Paul always so eager, and always wanted to keep on the edge, that you needed to move forward because there is no time, with a sense of urgency.

People thought that Christ was going to return during that time period. Mr Armstrong, for all his years, did exactly the same thing, pounding it into us over and over and over. Do you know why you are here? He asked this for all the Feasts and Holy Days. I must say that when you really stop and analyze it, we didn't know why we were there. We have to be doing things brethren with our spiritual lives. We have to be doers. Turn to James 2:20:

"But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:20-24)

There is no time here to be confused is there? There is no time to get sleepy. There is no time to say, "There are so many things that have yet to happen. It doesn't really matter, everything is okay. We will carry on with the way it always was." No, that's wrong, there is no time.

God is Raising up for Himself Faithful Priests (PLAY FROM 13:29)

Let's turn to I Samuel 2:35. In this chapter of course you know Eli was having a problem, a really big problem:

"Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever." (I Samuel 2:35)

Samuel was a faithful, although not perfect, priest. Not perfect at all. But something else about this scripture that kind of hit me. Are you brethren, are you becoming a faithful priest in the making, am I? He says: "...I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before My anointed forever." (I Samuel 2:35) Forever building a relationship with God that will last forever - for eternity. That is where we come into the picture. Let's go over to Revelation 5:10, what is He saying?

"And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:10)

Building a relationship that will last forever. That is the process that we are in right now, or we should be. We should be thinking about it clearly and logically, and not letting anything slip away in our minds. That we have lots of time here to build a relationship. We don't know if we have lots of time. We don't know when the bell is going to ring for us.

Judges 17:6 is a very familiar scripture in this part of the Bible that we have often referred to. God had to raise up someone to work with His people. Just as He had to raise up someone to work with the end time. It is exactly the same, and God makes a decision on who it is and when it will happen. Judges 17:6

"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6)

Isn't that the truth? Back then, is it any different today? There is nothing new under the sun brethren is there, when it comes to human beings? That statement is the world in general and the Western nations in particular. Of course the churches become a reflection of society don't they? They become a reflection of society.

Mr Armstrong is gone. The central leadership is gone. But the heritage remains pointing us toward the covenant that we made. Directing us to build a strong relationship with God, in preparation for the great work that lies ahead, and the responsibility that we have to become faithful priests. That is what it says in I Samuel 2:35 I looked at that scripture, and thought, that's powerful! It says:

"Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My [will]..." (I Samuel 2:35)

Brethren, what is on God's mind? Look at that scripture, what is in God's heart? What is on His mind as the end comes? He is looking to a new beginning with you and me strongly in the picture. He is very concerned about all of us. Time is short. He is concerned about His begotten children. Don't think for one minute He is not concerned about us. He is very concerned, He is going to see us through, brethren, He is going to see us through so that we can walk forever, because that is what it's talking about here. He says, "...I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest..." (I Samuel 2:35) God has called you for Himself!

We mentioned earlier about defining moments. Samuel had a few in his life, and I feel that I Samuel 2:35 here is very, very meaningful, because God said, I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest. That statement shows just how incredibly important you are to God. You think you are a non-entity, no one cares. How could God bother with me, I'm nothing? Does He really care? You are incredibly important to God.

We were called into the Church to develop a relationship with God. Many in the Church over the last number of years, have moved from a strong relationship, and they have moved to 'religion'. From a relationship to religion. What do I mean by that? Well, it is very simple. You see what is going on, buildings are being built, the magazines are going out, booklets are being reproduced. There is 'apostles' developing and reproducing, here and there, or coming on the scene, the T.V. shows are still on. But how many lives are being truly transformed, using the model that God gave to us through Mr Armstrong? Now I ask you that, how many? I don't have the answer, I don't know how many, I have no idea.

That spiritual heritage is the anchor that will lead us to strengthen that relationship, that is the anchor. One thing that is so very evident to me in different people that I have talked to. The further you move away from that foundation, the more confused people will become. We have talked to a number of people in different groups. Friends that we have, and others that we have had a casual relationship with. At least we can talk to them, and we should, and be friendly, and be loving, and be concerned about them.

Faithful priests in the making do not start doing what seems right in their own eyes, and denying our spiritual heritage. You can't do it. It is following and obeying God that counts. Mr Armstrong was only the messenger. People have a totally wrong concept when we talk about Mr Armstrong. It is not worship, he was the messenger, he was called at a particular time in history. Just like Samuel was called at a particular time in history.

God's Word Requires Action (PLAY FROM 21:28)

I Samuel 3:1:

"Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation [or vision]." (I Samuel 3:1)

Ministering means to contribute, to serve, to wait on. Brethren, is the Word of the Lord rare these days? Where is the vision in terms of understanding our covenant relationship, and clinging to the spiritual heritage we were given, and directing people to stand on that sure foundation? Where is it? Well there is a voice or two out there, we know that, but not a lot - not a lot. You could say it's rare. Because that word means precious or valuable, that's what it means.

I want to quote you something from a sermon Mr Armstrong gave on Pentecost 1985. This is the foundation I am referring to, and the further away you get, here is what becomes difficult to find in people and in the Churches. Tell me I'm wrong? I quote:

"You are students. How much are you learning, and how much are you developing your life? To grow in grace is to grow in the character of God. That's not only the knowledge, but it is living that way - to grow in love. That means in how you treat others in your home. That means in how you treat your neighbors, and how you treat people. How kind are you? How loving are you? How much do you encourage others and try to help others? How much are you developing the character of God in your life?"

That is the essence of our calling, the nuts and bolts of Christianity. He goes on to say:

"Just knowledge alone isn't going to do any good. You can hear the Word of God. You can have the knowledge. But not the hearers, but THE DOERS OF THE LAW are justified before God." We just saw that in James. "Are you a DOER? The only reason you need the knowledge is to learn what to do; and it does you no good until you put it into work, and you do it!"

Doesn't that just summarize it? I was just thinking and talking with my wife about it. Everyone in the Churches should study and reflect on those words for a few minutes. At least I think they should. So don't tell me I'm following a man, folks. No, Mr Armstrong was talking about and teaching the Way of God, he was the messenger. We follow him as He follows Christ, the apostle Paul said the same thing.

I Samuel 2:21:

"And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. [Here's the essence of the verse] Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD." (I Samuel 2:21)

God wants you and me to grow before Him. To minister to Him, means to serve Him, brethren, that's what it means. That we can effectively then serve others.

God Reveals Himself to His Prophets and Apostles (PLAY FROM 25:34)

Notice I Samuel 3:21:

"Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD." (I Samuel 3:21)

God was now revealing Himself to Samuel. Now there was a time that, I've just read in I Samuel 3:1, there was no widespread revelation, there was no vision, nothing was really happening, the Word of God was rare. But now, God was revealing Himself to Samuel, and that revelation or vision was now present with the people of God. They now had a focal point, some place to work from.

God revealed Himself to Mr Armstrong, just as things were about ready to die. Let's notice it over in Revelation, chapter 3. We have read these verses a million times. Well, lets look at it again. Like the Two Trees, we can never look at it enough. We can never ponder it enough, we can never understand it completely. Revelation 3:2, message to the Churches, we all know that:

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain ..." (Revelation 3:2)

There is not much remaining here, they are ready to die. You know, God had to reveal so many things to Mr Armstrong to restore the truth. There really could not have been much left, when you think about what Mr Armstrong went through. If God did not use Mr Armstrong to restore all things, then whom did He use?

Or is he yet to come? Are we still waiting for someone? "Boy, there are so many truths out there that haven't been revealed, I've got to find out what they are, whose going to do it?" No, no, it is all there intact. The truths are firmly in place, etched in stone, on that sure foundation. That is my point brethren - they are there. God revealed Himself to Samuel, and He revealed Himself to Mr Armstrong.

In I Samuel, chapter 4, we will turn back to that area. I don't want to go there specifically, but when a crisis came along, we'll take a closer look at it later, when a crisis came along, the people came to Samuel. When the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, the people asked Samuel to intercede before God. Why did they not go to Eli? Well Eli's our man. I Samuel 3:19:

"And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD." (I Samuel 3:19-20)

They knew who God was working with. Eli's influence was diminishing rapidly. Today brethren, we cannot call on Mr Armstrong. We can't send him an email, but we can listen to what he said in the tapes, as we do, and we should. We can read what he wrote, knowing that God had revealed Himself to him, mightily. Giving us that foundation, giving us something secure we could hang on to. I Samuel 2:27:

"Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, Thus says the LORD: Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people? Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father would walk before Me forever. But now the LORD says: Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." (I Samuel 2:27-30)

This is another very powerful verse brethren. There is a saying that illustrates the Way of God amongst His people. It is stated so clearly: "...those who honor Me I will honor, and those who [do not honor God shall] be lightly esteemed." (I Samuel 2:30) That is a message to the people of God in all generations. Right down to this day. It is crucial to understand in every generation. Paul had a deep understanding of God and his relationship was strong, he knew God's presence and power, and he preached and taught powerfully - powerfully. Let's notice that in Acts chapter 17:2:

"Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus, whom I preach to you is the Christ.' And some of them were persuaded [by his powerful preaching]; and a great multitude of devout Greeks, and not a few leading women, joined Paul and Silas [it must have been some powerful session he was having with them]. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious [they weren't buying it], took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, 'These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king-Jesus.' " (Acts 17:2-7)

These men have turned the world upside down. They have shattered everything we believe in. They are shaking our foundations. God raises up for Himself some through whom He can challenge His people. He has done that historically throughout the scriptures, and you can read that. He used Paul mightily, He used Samuel, and He used Mr Armstrong. God honors His prophets and apostles, doesn't He? He really does.

Let me ask you this. Should we not honor them as well? If I down play Mr Armstrong's role and I down play his office does that not dishonor God? You know what the answer is. I did not say worship, I said honor. Anyone who teaches a diminished role for Mr Armstrong is teaching false doctrine! Yeah, I am going to come up and say that, I hope it doesn't offend anybody. And that person will be lightly esteemed. Therefore, we honor God by honoring those He called, and those He sent, and those He worked with, and those that He inspired, and those that He used to reveal the truth, and to restore all things.

Beware of Being Lightly Esteemed by God (PLAY FROM 34:07)

There is a tremendous need today, for people to realize they drift away from the foundation. They cut themselves loose in some cases listening to people. Getting off the track, not sure anymore. They need to move back. If we are a little uncertain we need to move back as well, quickly. Many of course do not believe that statement. So be it. Religious activity continues within the churches. Lots of religious activity. This club and this club, and this get-together and that gathering, and this and that, and so on. All kinds of activity, but the relationship with God is suspect.

What could be easier to understand brethren? What could be easier? Honor me, and I will honor you. Those are the very words of God. That is a statement of great significance for God's people today, as far as I'm concerned.

You know brethren, the phrase, 'lightly esteemed', when it applies to God's relationship to those He's called and those He's chosen and made a covenant with is very serious. For God to honor a person, or a people is absolutely incredible isn't it? But for God to lightly esteem, frankly, is a fearful statement, because it carries with it a withdrawal of God's presence. Now notice God's definition of lightly esteemed. You want God's definition of lightly esteemed? Okay I Samuel 3:31:

"Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm [or cut off your strength] and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, 'Please [please], put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.' " (I Samuel 2:31-36)

There is a definition of lightly esteemed. God honored Samuel before all the people. I Samuel 4:1:

"And the word of Samuel came to all Israel..." (I Samuel 4:1)

God honors the one who honors Him. Brethren, nothing honors God anymore thoroughly than obedience - nothing.

God Honors those who Fear Him (PLAY FROM 38:08)

Another essential character trait in Samuel that guided him always to honor God was that he feared God. I wonder sometimes, how much fear do we all have of Almighty God. I've thought about that in my own life a lot. From the time that he was a boy, when God worked in his life, he had reverence, and he had awe for his God. Notice I Samuel 12:14, he taught this:

"If you fear the LORD, and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you continue following the LORD your God. However if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers." (I Samuel 12:14-15)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom [right?], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)

You know Mr and Mrs Armstrong, we talked about this before, but it is still an amazing thing, they kept the Feast for seven years on their own, for seven years on their own! They didn't understand what the Feast was all about really, but they honored God by keeping it. They said, "Well, we don't understand it all, but we're supposed to keep it, and we're going to keep it." They were the only ones who did, of all the people they had contact with. And once they knew that they must keep it, they must obey, I would imagine there was probably an element of fear there if they did not obey. I'm sure there was. They were dedicated, and you have to have a level of worship, honor and a little bit of fear in there as well.

You know, it is interesting to note that after September 11, 2001, we always refer to it as 9/11. People said, especially in the United States, "Why did God let this happen?" We saw the banners and flags and heard the rhetoric 'God Bless America'. You would see that on bumper stickers and everywhere else. The condition of the people, the society, the entertainment industry and the leadership was never analyzed. It was always somebody else. They do not believe the problem has to do with their condition.

Samuel stood up for years telling people to respond to God with your whole heart. Turn from your ways. Get rid of those idols. Mr Armstrong spoke out for over fifty years. You know twenty five years ago, Mr Armstrong wrote articles that were published in 'The Wall Street Journal'. I have them all at home. I pulled them out the other day just to look at them. I want to read a couple of things. Some of the headlines. You know, people after 9/11, they didn't think about the government, they didn't think about industry, about entertainment, society, or themselves. How come God let this happen? We're so wonderful. 'God Bless America', and don't forget to go to church on Sunday. Mr Armstrong addressed many of the ills that were facing society twenty five years ago in these articles.

July 1981, a headline - 'A VOICE CRIES OUT' Question? Why can we send men to the moon and back, we can produce computers and robots, develop science and technology. We can learn secrets of physics and chemistry. We can build industry. We can do all these marvelous things, but why can't, why can't we solve our problems? Why can't we eradicate evil within the family, within the home, within industry, within government? Then he goes on to tell them why they can't.

March 1981 'WHY JAPAN WAS PASSING DETROIT' in quality and proper attitude toward doing things, and giving quality and right pricing, and all those sort of things.

Another Headline 'WHAT'S WRONG WITH ORGANIZED LABOR?' They could have found out what caused 9/11 by going back and reading these twenty five years ago.

February 1981 'WHY THE AMERICAN LIVING STANDARD IS GOING DOWN.' Look where it is today. It is amazing to me. I read an article mentioned about cars, and having a better BMW or a Hummer. In the United States they are still buying these big gas guzzling SUV's. They don't care, they adjust to it. The correction that's coming is absolutely mind boggling!

December 1980 'WHAT'S WRONG WITH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY?' Then he said;'WHAT'S WRONG WITH BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY?' Enron, corporate greed, that we see today. He talked about this twenty five years ago! 'WHAT'S WRONG WITH GOVERNMENT?'

Incredible articles. Remember earlier I said that if you diminish Mr Armstrong's role and his office, it is false doctrine. On July 14th, 1980, Mr Armstrong wrote an article, I've got a copy of it as well, in the 'L A TIMES', published in that area in Southern California. You probably recall hearing about it or reading it yourself. It was addressed to the Attorney General of California.

Today brethren there are influential leaders in some of the Churches of God that are saying Mr Armstrong only made protocol visits to world leaders. "It was nothing really." Oh, is that so? You teach people that brethren, and you dishonor God. You do. Listen to what Mr Armstrong said. He was not afraid to go after people. I like that in a person. He stood strong, he spoke up, and he was going to come at them because they came at him for all the wrong reasons. He said to the Attorney General:

"You said in front page headlines, I siphoned off millions of dollars in Church funds for my own personal account. Now I will tell you and the nation what really happened on these arduous trips." He goes on and talks about speaking in Japan. "I spoke to several public audiences. The Japanese government conferred on me the highest decoration ever given to a non-official alien. At his Imperial Majesties invitation, I enjoyoud a thirty five minute private audience with Emperor Hirohito. Only his Majesty, his interpreter, and the U.S. Ambassador were there, and ten ranking members of the Japanese Diet, they call themselves my Japanese sons. I am highly respected and loved in Japan and in many countries."

He goes on and talks about the things he discussed during these meetings that he had with them. He talks about the two ways of living. The right way and the wrong way, and explains this to people. I've got the pictures in the magazines and articles that showing him doing that, and receiving these honors. Protocol visits - come on folks?

He goes on here and talks about going into different countries. He had a private audience with the Vice Chairman in China. He was invited to come to China. People said that he bought his way into different countries. Really? How do you buy your way into China before the leadership? You can't do that. That's nonsense. He was invited, and he spoke to them. He spoke for nearly forty minutes to an assembly of four hundred leading citizens; the diplomatic core and leadership in the education field and so forth.

He delivered the same message. The evil suffered in this present world, emphasizing all evils had been caused living the way of get, not the way of give. Back to the Two Trees again. Then to the Philippines, speaking to twelve to fifteen thousand people with the good wishes of the president of the country at that time.

Anybody out there who believes that those were protocol visits, is living in a dream world. People need to seek the truth. You talk about following men; "Well I guess if he says it, it must be true, after all he's a leader." Really?

If You Return With a Whole Heart (PLAY FROM 47:54)

Listen brethren here, to the simplicity of God's message to His people through His servant Samuel. The ark of the covenant was in the hands of the Philistines for a long time. I Samuel 7:3:

"Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel saying, If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." (I Samuel 7:3)

If you return. How often do you read that during the Old Testament prophets? If you change. If you begin to honor God. If you start to obey. If you come back, if, if, if. Sin always separates God from His people, doesn't it? They separated themselves, and we separate ourselves. God didn't throw us out. He won't throw you out if you sin and have problems and difficulties. He is there for you. You have to turn and come back. Isaiah 59:1-4 makes this very clear, let's notice it:

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor his ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities [your sin] have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity." (Isaiah 59:1-4)

Does that verse four not talk about our nation in 2005? I think it does. It makes it very clear. Mr Armstrong thundered that message for years. Forsake the sin, return to God. Here's the way, follow this, and so on. He was belittled, pooh-poohed, denounced. Samuel said; with all your heart, he said; "...return...with all your heart..." (I Samuel 7:3) It has to be a total response, not a reluctant partial return. "Okay, I guess, I'll come back then." No, it has got to be complete, it has to come from the heart. I really want to do it, I really want to change. I really want to come back, and be with God and receive the blessings and honor Him. He honors us if we honor Him, and honor His servants and be the right kind of person. Is that so hard to understand? Deuteronomy 6:3 says:

"Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you- a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children [teach them to your families], and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:3-8)

You could paraphrase these words, and say: "Hear O Churches of God these words, and the instructions I gave my apostle. Have it before you. Stand on that foundation."

Samuel said, "Turn from false gods." You know something brethren? So many people in society put so many things before the service to their God and they don't even know it. And yet what about ourselves? Do we put certain things between us and God? We are not even aware of it sometimes. I'm putting this before God. That does not honoring Him. Samuel said: "...and prepare your hearts for the LORD..." (I Samuel 7:3) Here is where we could be lacking. I have referred to this scripture a number of times. Let's go back to it. Our hearts must be cleansed, and our minds must be clean. We have been through these a million times. Let's go through it again Romans 12:1:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [your rational service]. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)

Did he make protocol visits? "I heard that, I'm not so sure, I want to find out for myself. I'm going to dig into it, I'm going to research into it. I'm going to search into it and I'm going to prove it. I need to know that." They don't do it. Romans 12:3:

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)

Samuel never, ever jumped ahead of the crowd and said, "Look at me, I'm taking over from Eli. I'm in charge. You will all do what I say." He never did that. You can't find that. Mr Armstrong never did that. Never once.

Our relationship must be restored, and only God knows the real conditions of our hearts - yours and mine. Samuel concluded back there and said; "...serve Him only..." (I Samuel 7:3) There is no divided hearts here. There is no divided will. There is no division in our hearts and our minds. We are sure. We know absolutely, positively. Luke 16:13, Christ mentioned it. You can't divide. It has to be wholeheartedly all the way, or nothing. Luke 16:13:

"No servant can serve two masters [you can't serve two thoughts of mind]; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)

Hold Firm to God's Foundation Not Man's (PLAY FROM 55:27)

Let's go back to I Samuel 7:8:

"So the children of Israel said to Samuel, Do not cease to cry to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him." (I Samuel 7:8-9)

This is a revealing moment in the lives of the people of God here, during a time of crisis. They looked to Samuel. It is a testimony to a faithful servant, and an indictment on the people and the elders back in those days. They were totally out of touch with God, totally out of touch. And of course, God answered Samuel's prayer.

Our nations are in serious spiritual and physical crises, aren't they? Serious. And the churches brethren, are in a serious spiritual crisis as well. Where are the Samuel's? Where are the Mr Armstrong's? How about, where are the people following in the footsteps of the apostles? Not diminishing the role and the office, but honoring it, because it honors God. Acts 2:41, you know this scripture, we have used it before, but it really fits in here:

"Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:41-42)

They continued steadfast in the apostles' teaching. Is that just Peter and Paul and the early apostles it was referring to here? Oh, that only applies to them. It has nothing to do with anything else. They are long dead and in the grave. At one point in history, God called Peter and Paul and others to serve a specific purpose. At other time He called other people. At one point in history, the truth was almost ready to die if God didn't do something, with what little was left of it. Then God raised up another apostle. We should continue in the doctrines God restored through him. It is very clear isn't it? It's very clear to me, to continue in his teachings.

You get away from that foundation and you are in trouble! I have seen it in so many people. They are unsure what the doctrines are anymore. "What should I do? Which way should I turn?" I understand, I'm being sympathetic and not putting anybody down. But get back to what held you in the Church in the early years. Get back to that foundation, review it, go through it, read, listen. You lose sight of that, and you're in serious trouble, and so am I.

There was another defining moment in Samuel's life we want to look at, I Samuel 8, reveals some solemn truth here. The sin of the leaders is dramatic in both the short and long term effects on the people. When Samuel was old, his sons sinned against God, and the people of God. It just shows you the decisions of the leaders of the people can be extremely significant - very significant. I Samuel 8:4:

"Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, 'Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.' " (I Samuel 8:4-5)

"Your sons made mistakes, you're getting old. I think what we need here is a king." That could be called sort of a corporate decision, they all got together, all the elders came. They're the ones that should have been setting the example in service and honoring God and following Samuel's dictates. That was sort of a corporate decision they made and it was a very defining moment for the people of God - a very defining moment.

When Mr Armstrong died, it almost seemed as though people jumped up and said, "Let's go get us another church. Let's go get some other doctrines. Come along with me." Why? Everything was in place. God was blessing the work and the Church and all that was going on. Amazing.

Samuel was undoubtedly hurt by this, and probably a bit fearful too. He knew the Way of God, as God's servant. He did what you should do, he prayed about it. Samuel prayed, he prayed to God, only God has the answer here, I Samuel 8:7:

"And the LORD said to Samuel, Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day-with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods-so they are doing to you also." (I Samuel 8:7-8)

You see God observed them from the very day He delivered them from bondage, and they rebelled and they rejected Him as King. "You want a king? Okay, I'm going to give you a king."

The dynamics of God's love for His people when they sin against Him are absolutely indescribable aren't they? That should give tremendous encouragement to us. He doesn't throw us out. Yeah they've done this, and ever since I've brought them out they've forsaken me. Do what they say. I Samuel 12:20:

"Then Samuel said to the people, 'Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would you go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.' " (I Samuel 12:20-22)

God's Special Compassion for Us (PLAY FROM 1:03:24)

What an outstanding God we serve! We don't even begin to understand the depth of His compassion and His love - I don't. Let's look a bit closer at it. "...the LORD will not forsake His people..." (I Samuel 12:22). Once God chooses to make a covenant with someone, He keeps His Word - He keeps His Word. Deuteronomy 31:6, talking here to Joshua, He is talking to you and me, as well:

"Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. he will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

That was for Joshua. It is also for you and for me. The choice does not lie with us does it? It lies with God. He makes the decision, and He simply chose to set His love on us. He chose to set His love on you. He chose to set His calling on you, and Samuel and Mr Armstrong, and so many others. Deuteronomy 7:6:

"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people to Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 7:6)

In today's terms, God has called you. You are special to Him. He called you to Himself, brethren, a special treasure. I bet you don't think of yourself as being a special treasure to God do you? That is why God is looking for a response from us. Mr Armstrong called it having a form of intelligent cooperation. All God wants is intelligent cooperation. Think about it, nothing has changed. I Samuel 15:22:

"So Samuel said: Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (I Samuel 15:22)

Does God want lots of burnt offerings, and lots of money being sent in, or does He want our obedience? I think you know the answer. There are no substitutes for obedience. None.

Samuel is speaking at a moment, when the king they had chosen had disobeyed God. Saul was told to destroy the Amalekites. He didn't do it. He only went part of the way. He kept back the king, King Agag. He kept back all the best sheep and oxen, and plundered it, and kept it for himself. He said, "I'm obeying, I obeyed, I did it." No, he did not. Partial obedience is still disobedience, and disobedience is rebellion. Notice Deuteronomy 15:23:

"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king." (I Samuel 15:23)

The scripture says that when we were baptized and received the Spirit of God, we were a new creation. We were on the way to becoming a new creation, becoming transformed. The old man is gone, and God's goal is to conform us to the image of His Son. He gave us the Holy Spirit so we could make some changes, and start going in that direction.

The Need to Look to God (PLAY FROM 1:07:04)

All of the great Biblical leaders are gone, they are dead. Samuel is long in the grave. Mr Armstrong is dead. Many close friends that we all had in the Church over the years, many are gone. Perhaps it might be some of us this year, who knows? There is a point in time when the only one left standing on the field is going to be God.

I heard something rather disturbing this past week from a friend of mine who got a phone call. It's disturbing only because of the impact of where we are going. It's scary, because we know it's coming. He said he got a call from a person in Eastern Ontario, who runs the largest crematorium apparently in the country. A lot of bodies go into this crematorium, and he services all the funeral homes all over the country apparently. He said in all of the discussions they have been having with certain leaders in the Health Department, they are trying to prepare for they say what could be this winter, a pandemic of this flu. They say maybe it won't happen this year, but it's going to come. They are preparing now, saying they are probably going to lose not just a few, but hundreds - hundreds. Now that's scary, because you know they couldn't deal with the SARS outbreak here in Toronto. Totally had no idea how to handle that. If we get a pandemic of flu we are in serious trouble here.

Samuel always turned people towards God. That is what Mr Armstrong did, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible. Blow the dust off it!" Samuel had to finish the job that Saul had failed to complete. He had to go and kill Agag as God commanded. You can read that yourself. You can't play 'catch-up' in your relationship with God. "Oh, I'll get on board next week. I'm too busy right now. I've got to go buy my new Hummer." I Samuel 13:5:

"Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up, and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits." (I Samuel 13:5-6)

You know, what about their relationship with God? What a pitiful sight. The people of God who were serving the God of the universe, were now cowering before men. Had they forgotten everything that they had seen and heard? Undoubtedly. You need to read on in I Samuel 13 here, where Samuel had taken his time to come to the people. Saul got a little anxious. He didn't want to wait the seven days he was told to, so he went ahead and used human reasoning. He said, "The people are trembling. They are hiding in the rocks. We have to get this battle over with. And Samuel - who knows where he is? I guess I better go ahead and offer the sacrifice." The moment he offered the sacrifice, enter stage left - Samuel.

You know brethren, how often do we let human reasoning dictate our actions and our responses? "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is...death." (Proverbs 16:25) right? Saul's heart was not right with God. His relationship was very weak. Our relationship cannot afford to be weak. Our hearts must be loyal. We show that through our obedience. You know brethren, often what a person does in the last chapter of their life reveals their life's character. I Samuel 19:20:

"Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied." (I Samuel 19:20)

The point here is that this is the last picture we have of Samuel during his life. Here he is, not only a leader but a leader over the prophets. Okay, a leader over the prophets. The people knew the leaders and the prophets were important to their spiritual survival. There is little evidence that they paid little attention to them, right? They didn't pay attention. You see brethren, it is a sad day when the people of God take for granted those God has placed in their midst, to keep them close to Him. That is all He did down through the years. He called Samuel to do a certain job. He called Paul to do a certain job, and some of the others. He called Mr Armstrong to do a certain job.

Samuel was standing as a leader over the prophets, teaching, directing, guiding. He was teaching them how to walk in holiness before God; how to treat the people and run the Churches; how to do things the right way. In his last days, Samuel's presence and influence on God's people continued to be affirmed by God. I Samuel 9:6 says:

"And he said to him, 'Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way we should go' " (I Samuel 9:6)

His reputation was that he was a man of God. He had earned that reputation over the years. I Samuel 9:9:

"(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, he spoke thus; 'Come, and let us go to the seer'; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) Then said Saul to his servant, 'Well said; come, let us go.' So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women going out to draw water, and said to them, 'Is the seer here?' And they answered them and said, 'Yes, he is, just ahead of you..." (I Samuel 9:9-12)

You can go ahead and read the rest of the chapter, it is talking about Samuel. Samuel, he was well known and respected. In fact when David fled from Saul - where did he go? He went to Samuel. I Samuel 19:18:

"So David fled and escaped, and went to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth [spent time together, undoubtedly]." (I Samuel 19:18)

Samuel was well known and respected right down to the end. You know brethren, Mr Armstrong was a leader over a large organization involved in preaching the gospel, teaching, directing, guiding the hierarchy in the Church, the ministry. Showing them how they should be. How they should treat people. How they should organize the Church. So often he said about the ministry, "They just don't get it." and he was right.

He wrote during the last chapter of his life, he wrote 'Mystery of the Ages'. At least he dictated the words. An incredible book! A man of God he was. He was known and respected by so many people around the world. In some cases not respected in his own organization! Anyone not read 'Mystery of the Ages' in the past year? Dig it out and read it. Go through it again. That man really grasped and understood the truth of God so clearly. I just see that more and more and more. My wife and I were talking about that. He just had an unbelievable grasp. He knew. I want to stand on that foundation and grow from there.

You see brethren, God chooses the leaders. He decides. We honor God by honoring those He used to help us. Samuel's life honored God. Mr Armstrong's life honored God. God honored them both. If we honor God, God will honor us. If not, then we will be lightly esteemed.

Footnote:

{1} All scriptures are from the New King James Version.