Sermon given 30 August 2008

Will You Wait on God?

by Jonathan Pippy

(PLAY FROM START)

You will notice that two of the hymns we had to start with were praises toward God. I won't say that was deliberate on my part, but it seemed rather appropriate because that is so important to the beginning of a Sabbath service; and it actually fits in because my sermon today is part two of one I gave a little while ago. {1} We are going to focus in on another aspect of the mindset that I think we need to have in today's society, facing what we are all facing, dealing with all the things that we are all dealing with, struggling as many of us are with various things. How vulnerable we are and how weak we all are.

We live in very dangerous times, don't we? The nations that should be leading the way and setting the examples are inept and foolish and drifting further and further into decline. We see it every day here in North America. It's incredible! And with the election coming in November in the United States, we see how poor is the real leadership that is available to lead the West.

We had the party conventions here of the Democrats last week and we have the Republicans coming up next week I believe, or very soon. And you ask yourself, "Is this the best that can be produced?" The system, I think, scares off anyone that might be in a position to help, and to stand up and take control and deal with things properly. The system, I think, destroys any of that, an issue that could be there. A sad situation to be sure.

Without proper leadership our nations are going to fall, and it's only a matter of when. All the great empires of this world have all had their day and then they fell: Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, where are they? Gone, into antiquity. You know you hear people talking on occasion, especially in the United States in some of the news, and they talk about the enduring power and force of the United States - please, please.

Rome was around a lot longer than the United States, and it is gone. Napoleon is gone, and so is the British Empire upon which, at one time, the sun never set. So why should it be any different today? People in the United States – we've got many friends in the US, not in the Church, by the way as well, that we've known for years, and for them to even consider that the US could fall is impossible. "We're to strong, we've got too much influence, it's the good old American ingenuity, we'll fight our way through anything." I just shake my head in silence and say, "No, that's not the case, ultimately." The problem is we've got issues here, we've got issues there; yes, but to actually think about falling? Unthinkable, for most people.

The Foundation Given By God (PLAY FROM 03:04)

I have only one main point to consider here in this sermon today, and one basic scripture that is the foundation for all the other scriptures that we are going to look at. We will look at very quickly here to start with in Luke 21:19. Christ's words here, notice:

"By your patience possess your souls." (Luke 21:19 NKJV){2}

By your patience you possess your life. That's the foundation we are going to build on hopefully. The sermon title really is very simple: Will You Wait on God? You know brethren, as the Church goes so goes the nations. Do we really need another doctrinal committee to study into the doctrines that God gave us through Mr Armstrong? Why would we need to do that if we've already proven them to be right and correct? "We've got to put together a committee. We've got to go back and study and look at it." For what purpose? Is there something wrong with it?

Mr Armstrong gave a sermon and a paper that he wrote about interracial marriage. This one particular organization that put together some large doctrinal committee wrote another twenty five page publication where they talk about it in very great detail. I looked at it because I was very interested to see what the conclusion was. I knew what the conclusion was before I even read it all.

So, we don't need that, do we? Talk about confusing people. And then they start to question so many other things as well. Doctrines from that foundation that we know are right and true and correct, and that's where we have to stay positioned. How often have I said that, and Mr Bowles talks about that all the time and he is right. II Peter 2:10: Here's what happens when you start doing that sort of thing:

"and especially [jumping into the thought] those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries," (II Peter 2:10)

Despise authority, over what? Government, despise the right kind of government. As soon as the Worldwide Church of God broke up this is one thing that came to the fore very, very quickly, despising authority. "Well, who is he to tell me? And who is he to tell me that? Why should I listen to him?" That didn't take long, that happened over night. We saw it with lots of people. II Peter 2:11:

"whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you [notice verse 15], They have forsaken the right way and gone astray..." (II Peter 2:11-13,15)

Now isn't that interesting? Have you read that and read over it and forgot what really it is saying here? It is saying that if they have forsaken the right way, then they would have to have once been in the right way. You can't forsake something you never had – right? It was God, not some man, that provided the doctrines that we have proved and accepted. It was God, not some man. Those doctrines and teachings that we have accepted did not come from a man.

It came to us by God's Holy Spirit. It was only by the Holy Spirit we were able to understand it. You can talk to your dog all you want, he won't get it. "I want you to keep the Sabbath this week, put that bone down." It doesn't work like that. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we were able to understand the truth of those doctrines. That is a miracle brethren, that's a miracle that you can understand or I can understand.

First of all the truth had to be provided, and then you have to understand it, and if you did it is because God gave you the understanding through His Spirit, not because of some human greatness. Not because "I deserve to understand it, I'm a good person." The scriptures say something entirely different, obviously, in that regard. But God did use a man, he was Mr Herbert Armstrong.

So, what are we expecting, at a time like this with all this chaos and confusion? Exactly what we find around us. Matthew 24 and Luke 21 both deal with signposts along the way. Matthew 24:12, but most people are blind or asleep, let's be sure that we are not; you are familiar with this scripture:

"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. " (Matthew 24:12)

If leadership is important, and it doesn't exist in society, and if it is lacking in the Church, then neither are going to last very long, right? It can't, because they both lack direction, they lack the drive, and the fire and the zeal. They are not hanging on to something that is right. Neither one can do any great work because of this.

Patience and Endurance (PLAY FROM 09:31)

But what about the few that do understand in the times in which we live? What about the few? They can do what most people dislike doing very, very much – exercising patience. Matthew 24:13 says:

"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13)

'Endure' – the word here means to remain, or to remain under patience (Strong's G5278). Endure what, though? Endure with the truth, hold on to it, stick with it all the way to the end. That is what we are required to do, and that is where so many people have failed. They did not hang on to the truth, the truth that was once given, that they proved, or we assumed they proved.

Exercise patience, and here is the most important point: And wait upon the Lord, which involves getting to know our older Brother that much better during the time that we have. While we are waiting we have to concentrate on getting to know Him and God the Father better, because there isn't much time, there isn't much time. Now this is critical because God's word says, "By your patience possess your souls." (Luke 21:19). We just read it.

When the Church broke up most people did not exercise patience at all, none whatsoever. They charged after various men and they charged after various organizations that men set up, without proving what the organization was all about and they wanted something to belong to. They did not stand still and rely on God. When you have the truth, brethren, that God has blessed you with, you don't need to run off anywhere.

Is there something better out there? Did we miss something? Did Mr Armstrong miss a point here? Did God not get through to him? No. They get off track from a false sense of security and then they are in serious trouble. Let's turn to Psalm 37:3. No, we can't make people see anything if they don't want to, I understand that as well as you do. Thankfully, we have a God who is very patient, very patient. Everything that we need to understand in terms of encouragement is right here, direction and guidance, right here:

"Trust in the [Eternal], and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." (Psalm 37:3)

Feed on His faithfulness. When Christ said, "In your patience possess you your lives" He was talking about our physical lives, wasn't He? But, He was talking also to encourage us because there is obviously a spiritual dimension to everything. To encourage us, to energize us, to realize that when it all breaks loose, we don't have to worry or fret. We'll be provided for, we'll be fed, we'll be taken care of. We have to believe that. If you are putting your trust in Him, He's going to provide. That brethren is what we are being tested on today. That's what we are being tested on before it happens. We can't say, "Well, I'm going to develop the right kind of trust, and I'm going to develop the right kind of faith when the time comes." You better do it now and I'd better do it now.

We are living in a world where Satan wants to destroy us with things that are not necessarily important. So many distractions, so many things that get us off target, so many things to contend with. I've got about ten balls in the air right now that I am trying to juggle in my life. It is not easy, it's very difficult. It can be difficult, many people have got lots of things they are contending with. I know that.

Look To God (PLAY FROM 14:14)

But what are people in society doing? What are they doing? Oh, they are relaxing and enjoying life. No, they are running around madly, no one is at peace any more. They are running around madly, get another job, get more money, get this, a bigger home, another car, new this, new that. Another trip to Walmart, whatever it might be.

God says, "I will provide those things that you need." He says, "Concentrate on getting to know Me. During this time that we have, concentrate on getting to know Me and be patient about everything else." Remember our forefathers in the wilderness, remember that? Forty years, the shoes never wore out, clothes never wore out. There wasn't a local Walmart to go to to get new shoes. Lots of food and wine. Absolute miracles.

You go back and read those sometime. We read over them, we've read them so many times. Miracles! All those people, probably no one ever had a cold or a sniffle or a sneeze – being taken care of. We'll be taken care of as well, brethren, in the days that are coming. We've got to believe that, we've got to hang onto that. So what are we supposed to concentrate on?

If we don't have to worry about those things, here's the thing - all those things that God provided, were provided by the Owner of the Universe. Right? So what we are supposed to do is to concentrate on getting to know the Owner of the Universe, getting to know Him better. God feeds us physically and spiritually because we are helpless on our own just like little babies, we really are. Psalm 37:4 it says;

"Delight yourself also in the [Eternal], And He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

Do we delight in the Lord? I ask myself that a lot. I don't think I do as many times, or as much as I should. Is our life our beliefs? Or is it just another part of what we do? Psalm 37:5:

"Commit your way to the [Eternal], Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the [Eternal], and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass." (Psalm 37:5-7)

"How come that guy is doing so well? How come that family is so wealthy? How come they're smiling all the time? How come they have four cars in the driveway, two cars, a boat and an airplane and go on vacation every other month? How come?" God says, "Don't worry about that, don't fret about that."

One thing you really have to understand is this: God is waiting patiently on us to wait patiently on Him. God is waiting patiently on us to wait patiently on Him. Can you imagine, when you think about it sometimes, brethren, you look at your life, I look at mine, and we can look at other people sometimes and we say, "Why are they worrying about that? What's the matter?" These silly ideas and peculiar ways that we all have, and we might laugh at someone when they do something silly, whatever it might be.

What is God looking at when He see all of His people, the silly things that we do and our ways? Does He not sometimes look down and say, "What's the matter with these people? Don't they believe My Word?" Look at the history, look at what has been recorded that we can go back to read and see and say, "Yes, we're just like them. Only more important." In Psalm 37:7 the word 'rest' here means; be silent, no anxiety (Strong's H1826). Psalm 37:8.

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret — it only causes harm." (Psalm 37:8)

When was the last time our impatience, our fret, our worrying, our anxieties really helped? "Yes, that anxiety attack really helped me, I want to do that again tomorrow." I don't think so, it doesn't work like that. Psalm 37:9:

"For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the [Eternal], They shall inherit the earth." (Psalm 37:9)

Who is going to inherit the earth, brethren? We are that generation, we can see eternity almost, if you think about it spiritually. It is not far away. Those who wait patiently shall inherit. Psalm 37:10:

"For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:10-11)

There are the promises, there are more promises from the Old Testament, "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5). It is everywhere throughout the scriptures, the promises of God for the future, the future for all of us if we remain faithful and stay patient, and trusting, and loyal. As we just read, "But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:11). Inherit the earth, not heaven; somebody forgot that.

Patience Commanded Today (PLAY FROM 20:22)

Luke 21:19:

"By your patience possess your souls. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near." (Luke 21:19-20)

Here we are today being told we need to be patient; and we are told our patience needs to take us up to the time mentioned here in Luke 21:21:

"Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her." (Luke 21:21)

How long do you think it would take an army to get down to the Middle East with today's transportation? They can move a task force with airplanes and ships and whatnot in there in no time at all. Landing craft, they can bring ashore thousands of troops, tanks, aircraft to take over the whole area. Why, they could take it in a day, a modern army can. In Luke 21:21, it's not Jerusalem, it is Judea, and today that is the West Bank, that is what the Jews call Judea today, the West Bank. Luke 21:22:

"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)

So, our patience brethren, has to endure up to this time being mentioned here. There is no free ride for Christians. There are many scriptures that tell us it will happen swiftly, very swiftly. Let's go back to Luke 17:24, talking here about Christ's returning, and he says here:

"For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day [here is what will be happening at that time, notice verse 26]. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:" (Luke 17:24,26)

What was it like before the flood finally arrived? What were they doing? Lining up to get tickets to get on the Ark? No. Everything was going on in society the day that Noah entered the Ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. And recently we have had some devastating flooding in so many different parts of the world. In the United States, also in South Asia and Asia, flooding in some areas we just can't imagine that there could be water that is 20 feet higher than normal. It is hard to imagine, we've never experienced that before.

Then you've got places like Australia that is struggling with a devastating drought. I saw an article that said that people in the world should be concerned about Australia and the drought they are having. "But why should I be concerned, they are way down the other end of the world, who cares?" No, you better care brethren, you better care big time because with the loss of the crops, of the wheat, of all the other grains, that is now effecting world prices even more so it is going to put pressure on the bread that you buy at the supermarket. Because it is diminishing resources, diminishing food supplies and more people to feed. Oh, yes it is having a big effect, very serious down there.

All the flooding – I've got a picture in the paper and I have saved it, and after hurricane Katrina it showed a person lying face down, arms spread out in the water, dead, obviously. This happened in the United States. This happened just a short time ago in the most prosperous nation in the world. Look what took place. It was really impactful. You say, "Man, this is wild, how could this happen? This is not Thailand or something like that."

Homes were lost, lives were lost – devastation! We haven't seen anything yet. In Noah's day people really didn't have a lot of time to react, did they, with what was happening? Only those who were inside the Ark, or you could say inside the Church, were saved. I think that is what the Ark represented. The Ark was close to the size of the Queen Elizabeth ocean going liner. Not the same shape, obviously, but the dimensions are very similar. During all that time he was preaching and building, just eight survived. Just eight!

Any time you look at scripture, it is usually a very small group that obey God, isn't it? Just a small group that escape disaster. And God always uses small numbers because, He says, "The glory is mine to have, not man." Remember Gideon's army? What did he have originally, 32,000 or something? "Well, that is not going to be enough, Look at the tens of thousands of enemy we have to face, 30,000 is not enough." And God said, "It is too many." Can you imagine Gideon's response? "What?" Maybe he didn't say it out loud, he probably said, "Wait a minute, did God not see the army?" You can just imagine. Think about these things in human terms, that's how you understand it better. No, Gideon had 300 men against tens of thousands! Luke 17:26:

"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark [things were going along fairly normally, maybe a disruptive society just like today], and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built [they went to work, they came home, they rode their bikes, all the things that were going on]; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom [that very day] it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-29)

The very day – the usual routine was going on but the day Lot left, down came the punishment.

Beware The Laodicean Attitude (PLAY FROM 27:47)

Lot was dragged out by angels, wasn't he? You read the story. And you wonder, does the story of Lot not typify the Laodicean attitude? We can become disengaged from reality so very easily, we really can, and not see the signs and not hear the warnings and not pay attention. It can easily affect us and get us off track, and Satan loves to see that happen and he encourages that.

Frankly, by not seeing the signs and not heeding the warnings, that really typifies life in North America. There are economists and intelligent and capable people talking about things coming in society, never mind the spiritual aspect of Christ's return. But just the danger signs that something is drastically wrong here, "We've got to change the way we are doing things." No one listens. Politicians don't care. All they can talk about on CNN for the last four or five months, or whatever it is, is about this election, that's all they talk about, everything else is lost. They have no idea in North America what is happening in the rest of the world, and are they going to be shocked.

You see brethren, God is our security. Mr Bowles is not your security. Mr Armstrong was not our security, only God can provide that. Your security is in your relationship with God, brethren. It needs to be genuine and it needs to be strengthened all the time. Luke 17:30, so all these things are happening;

"Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back [in that day means, within that day]. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:30-33)

Those are powerful scriptures really, aren't they? I can't save myself. I can't store enough goods, stash away enough food, enough bullets for my gun. So you see you have to get the place of safety mentality out of your mind if it is there. It says, "...pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape..." (Luke 21:36). Not that you are worthy. So what you need to do, and what I need to do, is develop a deeper relationship with God. "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:33). It is a very important verse, very important verse. It gets the focus right, gets the thinking correct, or should. Luke 21:31 he says:

"So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away [look what God says, "I don't change." His law hasn't changed, His direction and His directives are still the same]. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life [cares of this life], and that Day come on you unexpectedly." (Luke 21:31-34)

We are talking here about a spiritual attitude that is lukewarm. You know carousing, drunkenness, whatever, it is like someone overdoing alcohol and is in no condition to do anything right, to make sound decisions. But that is the kind of spiritual attitude that people can get into, and many are into. That is the spiritual analogy. It is like getting into wrong doctrine, that is what spiritual unawareness is like. It says, take heed in your heart, doesn't it? Luke 21:35:

"For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to [ah, okay, you mean I don't have a ticket? No, you don't] escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:35-36)

Escape means to be able to flee out of a place, that you may be able to flee. Watch intently and pray always so you can stand. No guarantees here. The guarantee is that God will take care of those who are obedient and loyal to Him. That's the guarantee, and that's the guarantee we can take to the bank.

Being Counted Worthy To Stand (PLAY FROM 33:45)

Malachi 3:1, the connection to the word 'stand' here:

"Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the [Eternal], whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming, Says the [Eternal] of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap." (Malachi 3:1-2)

Who is going to be able to stand? Psalm 1:1:

"Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight [his joy, his life] is in the law of the [Eternal], And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)

He ponders it, he thinks about it. Is the Law of God that way with you and me? Well, obviously with all of us it is not the way it should be all the time. But the Law of God, that helps us to get to know God better, brethren. As I mentioned, we need to concentrate on getting to know God better. We are talking about getting to know and becoming very familiar with God, with His Law, with His ways, with His judgments, with His statutes, with the prophecies, with what's coming. Psalm 1:3:

"He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper." (Psalm 1:3)

We need to look to God to solve the problems that we have. Think of what we are going to be doing in the Kingdom of God. Driving around in cars that don't burn oil? Relaxing on a cloud? No, we are going to be helping people solve problems, we are going to be talking about that at the Feast as well, pointing them towards answers. The answers are not human beings.

This is a continuous conversion process for us, brethren, prayer and study and trust and patience and developing perfection that is not there right now. Not one of us have had perfection in our lives but we need to become, to be becoming, a person transformed. We are in that transformation process to become like Christ, to become that new creation. That's our future, to become a younger brother of Christ, and that should be our first concern. How am I pleasing God, how am I pleasing Christ? Some days we don't do a very good job, do we? I include myself there.

Does Christ really dwell in you and me? I wonder, do you ever think of that? Do I really have the Holy Spirit? Am I really converted? Well, there are occasions and there are circumstances that can cause us to really wonder. Christ was willing to give up His life for us; and He said he who seeks to save his life is going to lose it. God is patient. Aren't you glad He is patient?

I'm so glad He is patient because time is running out, which is shown here in a parable Christ gave in Luke 13. Although God is patient, time is running out, as I said. You know, brethren, God has a plan, we all know that. He wants to keep the plan moving forward, He doesn't want it to stop. He doesn't want it to slow down. He doesn't want to have us holding it up, at least not indefinitely. Eternity is just ahead, the bus is coming around the corner. I think I can see it right in the distance a long way off, I can see it coming. It is coming down to pick us up, we had better be ready and better be at the stop waiting, because it isn't going to stick around for very long. Luke 13:1:

"There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-3)

And all of us, brethren, we will all end up dead, whether it is disease, accident or dying naturally at some point, the longer time goes on. And you know what? We will all likewise perish, there is no way to come alive again, no possible way. All end up dead unless we repent. Luke 12:4:

"Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish [that's the point; but here's another point notice]. He also spoke this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?" (Luke 13:4-7)

They could put a proper bush in there or other trees. Note that, for three years he kept coming back year after year, after year, after year. Luke 13:8:

"But he answered and said to him, Sir, let it alone this year also [just give it one more year], until I dig around it and fertilize it [let me see if I can help it along]. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down." (Luke 13:8-9)

Three years seeking fruit. It was given some time, not finding any, but let's give it one more year. Let's feed it, let's water it, let's take care of it, let's fertilize it and let's see if we can get some results. If not, cut it down. I wonder, does God look down from His throne and say, "I have given these people twenty odd years since my servant died. Is there a problem with these people? Can't they get it together? I guess I need to give them a little bit more time."

That's what this makes me think of, they need more time. But it won't go on indefinitely because as it says here, if after one more effort, we don't bear fruit, cut it down. God is patient, but His patience is not endless in terms of the fulfillment of His plan and what He's got in mind. That particular parable, I'm sure, was directed to the nation of Israel at that time but the principle applies doesn't it? In terms of what we are talking about here.

A Spiritual Lesson (PLAY FROM 43:35)

A spiritual lesson for us. Romans 8:9: This is a definition that we understand, let's read it again, stop and think about it:

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:9-14)

That is the only guarantee we have here is Romans 8:14, it is really that simple. Acts 2:38 – I just want to read you a scripture there, one that you are very familiar with I know. Let's read it again. You are familiar with all of these scriptures and so am I, but they are here for a reason, to remind us, to activate us, encourage us, to get us stirred up. How do we receive the Holy Spirit, a very familiar scripture, what does he say?

"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

You can't buy it, or take it off a tree, or open a can. It is a gift from God! I guess you can say, "Well, what do I need to repent of? Repent of what? Give me a list." How about repent of what you are? Or, I think about it this way, how about perhaps, of what you have become? Because you see brethren, we can change over the years and we all change. I've changed as well. Not everything about the changes in my life I like. You see, life grinds you down and circumstances wear you out, and patience is hard to find, and stress is in abundance, and energy levels are depleted. And then what happens?

We become very easy targets for the enemy. Do we become like that? Maybe you are like that right now. Believe me when I say, been there, done that, and I've got a few T-shirts to prove it. Without God's Spirit, brethren, we are ungodly, we're self-centred, and a lot of other things. You see brethren, God knows where we are spiritually, even if we don't.

I talked about trust recently. Now, I am saying we must have the patience to go along with it. We're going to need both in abundance. How patient were the Israelites at the Red Sea? Oh, they were patient, they were beautiful, they handled it perfectly. Exodus 14:12, remember that story? What an example for us. Wish I could be like this, cool, calm, collected, full of confidence and faith, no problems. I'm not worried, oh, no, I'm not worried. The army was coming over the hill and the Red Sea was in the way, was roaring right in front of them. Me worried? Notice:

"Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness." (Exodus 14:12)

Then Moses – of course you know the rest of the story, not very patient, right? Not very patient. When we talk to people about issues, what do we do? You give people the very best advice that you can. You give them the very best encouragement that you can. You point them toward God, or where the answers are. But we don't know anything about their level of repentance. It is like when a person is coming for baptism, we don't really know. You can ask all the right questions, and oftentimes we are fooled. Only God knows that. He may be the nicest looking person, he's got the greatest smile, the most personable individual on the planet, but we don't know the heart. Only God knows.

And you know, brethren, it is an ongoing process which surprises some people when they wake up after a few years. Repentance is ongoing, it is not once a month, if you remember, the word. Psalm 1:4, let's go back there and let's finish it:

"The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [there's that word 'stand' again]. For the [Eternal] knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalm 1:4-6)

Repentance is ongoing, Christians are not perfect, but they are simply forgiven. They are simply forgiven and as a result have direct contact with God to be able to grow in a relationship with Him. Ask God to give you the patience you need brethren, which is a fruit of faith. It is a fruit of faith, without which it is impossible to please Him. I can't, neither can you. You know something, that very thought, the patience that we need is an attribute of God Himself. We know He is patient with us. I know He is patient with me.

We Make the Effort, God Makes the Change (PLAY FROM 50:37)

This takes us back to the point that we need to make the effort; but, it is God that makes the changes when we ask. When we ask for love we ask for Godly love, agape. When we ask for patience to endure we are asking for a Godly attribute, His patience. The same kind of patience that Christ exhibited when He walked the earth.

We don't have it, do we? The fact is we do not have anything worthwhile to offer to anything or anyone, and certainly we have nothing worthwhile to offer God except our obedience, except our trust, our faithfulness, our loyalty. But we have to ask God for all those things. He provides. That is the other miracle, as I said before, all He is looking for, He provides everything, all He wants is our intelligent cooperation. Is that too much to ask for?

It seems to me sometimes that is too much for us to give. I put myself at the front of that line. Romans 15:5, the Bible with all the examples and the stories, and the parables, and the prophecies are there for us. It is not there for somebody else, they are for you and for me and we have to let it live that way in our minds as real:

"Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, (Romans 15:5)

It comes from Him, it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to have unity, and we saw unity last year at the Feast of Tabernacles, didn't we? Everyone working together, serving one another, putting others first, mutual respect and love. (Romans 15:5)

"Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another [it is a gift, it is a gift, brethren, a grant to be like-minded one toward the other], according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5-6)

See, being of one mind, not a 150 different alternate doctrines. Not questioning everything we know to be right and true and proper. Eternal life is our hope, and according to Romans 8:19, the whole creation waits for that time as well. The whole creation is waiting, waiting for you and waiting for me. We need to focus in on our glorious future and not let the distractions of this society pull us away from God.

God is giving us some time. He is giving us time to reflect. He is giving us time to meditate. He is giving us time to solidify our relationship with Him, and aren't you glad He is? The question is, are we making good use of that time and the opportunity? And all of us can wonder sometimes if we really are. If we are not, then let's just think about it; and try a little harder, ask God for the help to consider it. Romans 8:18:

"For I consider that the sufferings [sufferings, not just one thing] of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God [they are waiting for us]. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God [changed]. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the [sonship, eagerly waiting to be changed], the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:18-23)

To change from a physical being to a spirit being; to cast off the wretched humanity that we all have. Romans 8:24:

"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Romans 8:24-25)

With patience, with endurance.

Who Did The Truth Come Through? (PLAY FROM 55:34)

Let me ask you this, do you have the truth? Do you have the truth of God, brethren? Are you confident that God used Mr Armstrong to bring that truth? Are you really sure? If not, where did it come from to you then? How did you get it? Did you go to Walmart and find it up on a shelf?

I've heard people say, "Well you are worshipping the man." I don't say anything about it directly, but I resent that remark. That is just not true, but I have said to one person, "We are honouring a servant of God, friend." God honours those who honour His servants. We have to honour those that God honours Himself. It doesn't matter what the man's name was, Bill Jones or John Smith, if that is who he used. It doesn't matter that he made mistakes. It doesn't matter that he was imperfect. What matters is, you are here because of what was brought through him. Because there is no one listening today that learned it through his own efforts – nobody. If you did, please call me, I really want to know the story. To dishonour God's servants is to dishonour God Himself.

Let's go to Numbers 12:1, it is a good example of it right here. If you had been wandering around in the desert for some thirty odd years with somebody, a leader, you probably would have one of two things toward that individual. You would probably have an attitude of absolute support, or perhaps dishonour might set in somewhere. Perhaps, I am saying, you would have to decide, was he a man of God or not? Those close to him tried to undermine him. That happened to Mr Armstrong continually. Numbers 12:1, you know the story:

"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman." (Numbers 12:1)

Oh, I wonder if God knows. Was she black? Oh, how could he do that? What's the matter with him? Moses made a mistake, okay? He was highly criticized, roundly criticized because he married a Canaanite woman. Mr Armstrong married a second time as well and it was not necessarily a good move. Numbers 12:2:

"So they said, Has the [Eternal] indeed spoken only through Moses [is he the only person, what's the matter, what are we – chopped liver]? Has He not spoken through us also? And the [Eternal happened to be overhearing that conversation]. Now the man Moses was very humble...Suddenly the [Eternal] said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting! So the three came out. Then the [Eternal] came down in the pillar of cloud [I don't think He was very happy] and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said, Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the [Eternal], make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the [Eternal]. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? So the anger of the [Eternal] was aroused against them..." (Numbers 12:2-9)

And you know what happened from there. Mr Armstrong's ministry was quite a number of years longer than Moses', wasn't it? People talk about some of the imperfections that he had. That's got nothing to do with what God did through him. Moses made a mistake, picked the wrong person. End of the world? Is he going into the Lake of Fire? No. He is human, it happens.

Neither Mr Armstrong, nor Moses, have entered the promised land yet, have they? We want to go in with them. People just get so far off the track, so far off target, lose focus of what is real here. Mr Armstrong made a mistake, does that mean I have never made any? Therefore, I can be judge, jury and whatever else? Of course not. Look at all the men, and look at all the apostles in scripture that made mistakes. Look at Paul, he killed people. Hebrews 10:35:

"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry [it won't be long now]. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." (Hebrews 10:35-39)

That is the only way you can go back into perdition, into destruction. Because you see brethren, you are on the road that does not want you to go back. You are on a path that does not want you to turn around. But be sure that road is solid. Be sure you are standing on that right foundation, and be sure you are convinced and convicted; you are going to stay on that road to the very end.

Understand who God uses and be loyal to God and be teachable, and remain patient and faithful. These are very dangerous times in which we live in so many different ways. People are scattered, doing their own thing, don't give a hoot, making their own decisions on everything. After all that so many have been taught. Matthew 13:18, these parables really come to life sometimes, especially when you put them together when you are dealing with a certain topic and in considering the days in which we are living:

"Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside [the majority of people, I think, fit into that category]. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while [didn't take root, they were there, over a 100,000 keeping the Holy Days but it really didn't take hold because there was no root]. For when tribulation [distractions, persecutions, troubles, distress when all that starts to arise] because of the word, immediately he stumbles." (Matthew 13:18-21)

No endurance because the seed has not been nourished. He didn't do the things we just talked about. Matthew 13:22:

"Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful [the word is crowded out by other things]. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:22-23)

You grab it, you run with it, you develop it and be steadfast as you follow through. Easy to say, not always easy to do because we can't do it on our own. One final scripture here in Hebrews 12:1. We've got to keep developing, we've got to keep nourishing our relationship with God:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

He sat down at the right hand at the throne of God, brethren, where He is right now, waiting for us, waiting for us to mature so He can come back. So He can come back and change us. That's what He wants to do, change us permanently. That is what Christ and God the Father so dearly want to do for you and me. For now, we must keep striving, we must keep trusting, we must be waiting faithfully and patiently.


Footnotes:

{1} Part 1 was 'Putting Complete Confidence in God' given in Peterborough, Canada on 2nd August 2008.

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