August 3, 2018 Brethren Letter
I was talking on the phone with one of our members tonight who had recently been in a motorcycle accident. Even though he injured his hip with a hairline fracture, it was inspiring to hear just how upbeat and positive he was. A couple of nights ago he even displayed his humorous side when he said, “Well, I guess I won’t be dancing for a while.” Thankfully, he is now home and recovering. This member said to me, the morning of the accident he was just out riding his motorcycle, heading to breakfast, when SUDDENLY two vehicles were just sitting in the road, not moving as he came around a corner. Unexpectedly, one of the two vehicles turned into him as he approached.
No doubt, every one of us has had the “unexpected” happen to us right out of the blue that COULD be viewed by most, very negatively. The question is, how do WE handle situations like that? Is the WORST brought out in us when things don’t work out right? What is our character really like?
A few years ago, I was driving back to our business after purchasing a few items from the local office supply store. When I arrived in the parking lot, I noticed that a bicyclist was looking intently at my van. Moments later, I began to see smoke coming out from under the vehicle. I quickly opened the door, looked underneath, and discovered that transmission fluid was gushing out of it.
My first thoughts were… “Why now? I’ve got places to go and things to do. This isn’t a good time at all!” Well, instead of continuing to think about the inconvenience of it all (yes, my first reaction), I began to think, “This could have happened a few weeks ago on the interstate coming home from the Feast of Tabernacles. But, it didn’t.” Life is a training ground for every one of us, every single day! As it says in the book of Philippians, “Do all things without complaining…” (Philippians 2:14). Those words are indeed true!
Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Incredible Human Potential, (Page 152):
Satan, prince of THE POWER OF THE AIR, stirs the spirits of humans, injecting into them attitudes, moods, and impulses of selfishness, vanity, lust, and greed, attitudes of resentment against authority, of jealousy and envy, of competition and strife, of resentment and bitterness, of violence, murder, and war. People do not recognize the source of these attitudes, feelings, motives, and impulses. As I said, they do not SEE the invisible Satan. They hear no audible voice. They do not know the attitude came from Satan (Rev. 12:9). But they come to FEEL such attitudes, impulses, and desires…
People will feel depressed and won’t realize why. But those unaware of this phenomenon, with this self-centered attitude being broadcast and injected into their unsuspecting minds from earliest childhood, do, to a greater or lesser degree, absorb it until it becomes their normal attitude. It becomes habitual. It does not, of course, exhibit the same degree of effect in all minds — one person will become more evil than another. But the natural tendency is there. They come to have it naturally. It becomes their very NATURE. And we call it “human nature.”
NEGATIVITY is Satan’s nature, not God’s! Through God’s Holy Spirit shouldn’t we be the most POSITIVE people on the face of the earth?
I’ll end tonight’s letter with a portion of a “Personal,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1962.
Have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Plain Truth
Personal from the Editor
THE other day this question came to my mind: “What is the greatest possible sin anyone could commit?”
Once I attended a church service in which the results of a contest were announced. A new Bible was given as first prize for the best answer to the question: “What is the most COMMON sin, committed by the largest number of people?” First prize was awarded for the answer: “INGRATITUDE.”
Certainly a lack of gratitude is one of the most prevalent, if not the most terrible, of sins. Few have learned to really appreciate what they have. Most are prone to accept the good things by taking them for granted, failing to give thanks. We gripe about our complaints more than we count our blessings.
But now the question came to me: “What is the WORST of all sins?” The most awful sin that can be committed is, perhaps, one of the very LAST that most people would name. Because the governments of men punish murder with capital punishment, many would suppose murder to be the capital sin. But there is a greater.
I knew a man who believed that adultery was the worst of all sins, and dancing the second most evil, because, he claimed, dancing always led to adultery. Asked if he knew this by experience, or if he had any evidence or proof, he was horrified.
“A thousand times NO!” he exclaimed emphatically. “I would never go near a dance floor — it’s too evil!”
The question and answer came to me in a very pleasant and enjoyable manner. I was reading, in the Fenton translation, I Chronicles 29, beginning verse 10. The people of Israel, at King David’s request, had contributed liberally for the building of God’s Temple which was to be erected by Solomon. David, deeply moved by their generosity, was inspired to an emotional expression of gratefulness, combined with a vision of the greatness, the majesty and glory of God. He was publicly expressing his heart-touched gratitude and praise. David was exultant. This is what he was saying, before all the people:
“Blessed be You, the EVER-LIVING — The God of our Father Israel — From Eternity to Eternity! With You LORD, is Greatness, and Power, And beauty, and splendour, and glory! For all the Heavens and the Earth are Yours, LORD! And Headship of all!”
As I read David’s words of gratitude and praise, my mind seemed to catch the resplendent vision of the GREATNESS, the supreme universe-ruling POWER, the awesome BEAUTY, the SPLENDOR, the matchless GLORY of the Almighty GOD! Words are inadequate to describe! We would have to magnify superlatives, and then multiply them!
And we mortals are so insignificant, so feeble, so weak, so vile by comparison. King David continued:
“Therefore, our GOD, We all thank And praise Your Majestic Name, For who am I, and who are my people, That we are able freely to give like this? For all comes from You — “
Every good thing comes from GOD! He is Creator, Sustainer, Ruler. His eyes are like flames of fire shooting forth. His face is like the sun shining in full strength-so bright it would blind mortal eyes. His Glory is beyond human imagination. His is the perfect holy and righteous character. He IS, and is the very source of, LOVE, WISDOM, GOODNESS, MIGHT and POWER. He sustains and controls and directs every power and force and energy, ruling the vast UNIVERSE!
And yet, He, so great, so mighty, so glorious, is extremely mindful of each one of us! He loves us so very much He GAVE His only begotten Son to pay the penalty in our stead of our folly — our sins. He raised His begotten Son Jesus Christ from the dead, BORN very GOD by His resurrection, and gave to Him all the POWER and the GLORY of the entire universe, making Him, the risen ever-living CHRIST, the Administrator and Chief Executive over the Supreme Government of the limitless UNIVERSE!
More than that, through Jesus Christ, God has made it possible for us to be begotten of the glorious GOD Himself!
Through the living Christ we may receive the very Spirit — the LIFE — the divine NATURE of GOD! Thus we become co-heirs WITH Christ, that we, too, may be BORN by a resurrection as very SONS of GOD. Jesus Christ was made the first-BORN of many brethren! He, Christ, already has INHERITED — and we through Him may become joint heirs to later inherit all that is God’s — the UNIVERSE ENTIRELY!
…Man, without God, is utterly helpless and doomed. WITH God, he becomes the recipient of every good and perfect gift from above!