Onlline Sermons

We have posted a lot of sermons from our Universal Life Church ministers. Some are Christian and some are not. You are welcome to use them or just enjoy them as you like.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Spiritual Attitude Check

The Apostolic 7th Day Church of God --352-360-0070

A Sabbath Message From Richard

For more sermons, go to the ULC Seminary Chapel

(Weekly thought provoking article and letters from the Pastor)

It's Time for a Spiritual "Attitude Check"
Self-evaluation is a necessary part of spiritual growth. Let's take a look at our spiritual reflections in the mirror of God's Word.

In warfare, many times it becomes necessary for soldiers to go through an "attitude check" before a battle. At this critical moment, a soldier must assess the dangerous reality of what he or she is about to face and muster courage and confidence to enter the battle ready to fight and come out of it alive. It's a mind-set that keeps a soldier from looking back in fear and instead keeps him or her moving forward to victory. When an army is at a turning point in the battle, it is especially important that they check their attitudes, because such a win-or-lose situation could affect their future as a nation.

This task is also essential for each member of God's Church to do so we may be counted among the Armageddon survivors of the Great Multitude. At Revelation 7: 9, 10, 14 we learn about these survivors, we read, “After these things I looked, and behold, a Great Multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!...These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” How near is Armageddon? Evidence abounds that we are living when the coming of God’s Kingdom and his war of Armageddon are very near! ( Matthew 24:3-12; 2Timothy 3:1-5) While this vital news has been ignored almost totally by the news channels of the world, Almighty God’s people are sharing in spreading it worldwide. This good news we tell is not only that God will cleanse the earth of all corruption but that, under the rule of his Kingdom government, the entire earth will be made into a delightful, garden-like paradise.

What Is an "Attitude Check"?
An attitude check is a process of evaluating your principles and your determination in light of present circumstances and conditions that surround you. An attitude check can be painful if you have been letting down, not performing to the highest standards of the leader—in our case, Jesus Christ. However, it should be a positive motivator that assists us in making the necessary changes in our lives that will lead us to winning the battle we are involved in—gaining eternal life and entering into the family of God (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Ever since God, through Jesus Christ, recreated the heavens and the earth, the most important battle and mission for God's people has been internal—a battle in the mind and in the thought processes. We are surrounded in this world by a hostile environment made up of people and governments that hate God and God's way of life—and for the most part, this hatred is unbeknownst to them.

The world is filled with opportunities, gadgets, concepts, ideas, attitudes and other powerful influences that shape mankind's mental framework. These influential forces are, for the most part, inspired by the god of this world, Satan the devil. Satan understands mankind's proclivity to follow the undercurrent of "popular opinion" (Ephesians 2:1-3). We seek out newer and better things, are only satisfied in the short term, are easily distracted and at times act as people pleasers. If we are not careful on a daily basis, we can fall into the trap of adjusting our lives and thought patterns to be in line with the best practices and best standards of the world around us instead of always adjusting and refocusing on the high standards of our elder Brother Jesus Christ.

Some may say none of us measure up to that standard, and that would be true. However, Jesus Christ came to earth and set the example for us to follow. Our job is to work hard daily, through God's Holy Spirit in us, to follow Jesus Christ and become like Him (John 12:26; Galatians 3:27-29). We must not allow ourselves to fall into living by the best standards of this world, because they will lead us in the wrong direction (Romans 12:1, 2).

So let's take an attitude check today and look into our reflections in the mirror of God's Word. Philippians 4:8 is a passage we normally consider to be a list of things we should "meditate on," but it is also a list of seven internal character traits we should strive to develop. In his commentary, Adam Clarke tells us that "think on these things" (King James Version) means we should "esteem them highly, recommend them heartily and practice them fervently" (emphasis added).

God inspired Paul to list these traits for us to meditate upon often to see how we measure up to these standards. These standards reflect the mind of Jesus Christ and the areas of His mind that need to be developing within each of us—the members of the Body of Jesus Christ.
Let's check our own attitudes in relation to these virtues and see how we individually measure up to Jesus Christ.

"Whatever Things Are True"
Paul begins the verse with the Greek word for "true," alethes, which means openness, not concealing, living a life of truth. People growing in alethes have nothing to hide. They are right with God; they have repented of past sins and are led by God's Holy Spirit. They are open and honest in conversations with others and, when alone, maintain closeness with God and fight the downward pulls that surround them and that tug at them daily. By being genuine at all times, both inwardly and outwardly, they are not hypocrites.

John 4:24 reminds us that God must be worshiped "in spirit and truth." A true member of Christ's Body cannot act one way, putting on a vain show on the Sabbath day, while living entirely different when alone. One must live the truth at all times. In Ephesians 4:24 God inspired Paul to write, "Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."

"Whatever Things Are Noble"
Here the Greek word is semnos, meaning to be serious-minded, venerable, respected, esteemed, admired, honorable and honest. Again, being noble or honest requires one to exhibit this attribute inwardly and outwardly, publicly and privately.

To be genuinely noble requires God's Spirit working in us, as well as a commitment on our part to follow the lead and inspiration of God's Spirit. God calls us in our sins. We are not noble or wise at that time. But after repentance, baptism and receiving God's Spirit, we begin to put on the nobility of Jesus Christ daily through prayer, Bible study, fellowship, meditation and fasting. We grow in becoming a new creation—a new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-24).

"Whatever Things Are Just"
In Greek, the word translated "just" is dikaios, meaning to be equitable in character and action, to be innocent, not crafty or cunning, and to be righteous—keeping the commandments physically and spiritually.

God hates the act of playing favorites. God does not look on the outward appearance or judge people by what they appear to be. God looks on the heart, the inward man (1 Peter 1:17). God looks at us the way we really are. He is absolutely fair with each one of us.

A true member of the Body of Christ must be growing to be just, not one who "plays politics" to get recognition or position. That's why God instructs His ministers not to "lay hands on anyone hastily" (1 Timothy 5:22). We must cast away our proclivity to join cliques and to give opportunities to those who look good outwardly. Hebrews 12:22-24 tells us that those who become just and overcome the downward pull of playing favorites and politics will maintain their registry in heaven as members of God’s Church.

"Whatever Things Are Pure"
The Greek here is hagnos, which means to become clean, innocent, modest, chaste and pure. Because the world around us is becoming more corrupt at an astounding rate, we must be ever vigilant to maintain the purity of Jesus Christ in us. We cannot become prey to or fall into the trap of adjusting our lives to the best practices of this world. If we do, we will be falling short of the standard God set for us as members of the Body of Jesus Christ.

We must not conform to this world but be transformed, changed, become totally different from the way we were when we were in the world (Romans 12:1, 2). We can only do this through daily two-way communication with God—proper prayer and Bible study—which leads us to obedience and overcoming through daily repentance. Then every day, our once dirty robes become pure and white and our inward man becomes more and more like Christ (2 Corinthians 4:16).

"Whatever Things Are Lovely"
"Lovely" is translated from the Greek word prosphiles, meaning to be friendly toward others and not perverted. When we think of loveliness, a flower, a painting or our children usually come to mind. Men describe their wives as lovely. But to God, all of His people are lovely if they are growing in friendliness and unity, overcoming bitterness and critical opinions and avoiding profanity, which is so common and prevalent in today's media-driven world. We all must become lovely, harmonious, unified and pure-minded before God and each other. If we do, we will become increasingly more Christ-like and pleasing to God.

"Whatever Things Are of Good Report"
"Good report" is from the Greek word euphemos, meaning to be well spoken of, reputable, of high moral and ethical standards. We all have made some mistakes in the past, before God called us and placed us in His Church. And unfortunately, we continue to make mistakes after our calling. Some of our former or present neighbors, associates, relatives and friends may think we have "lost it" because of our beliefs and our obedience to God. Additionally, we may have marred our own reputation and caused others to hold us in lower esteem by erring in some way or by offending others. is what counts. If we have made mistakes, we must repent before God and ask Him to help us make things right with our fellow man, according to His will. We must ask Him for the courage and the strength to make the necessary changes in our lives and begin building our reputation back day by day through God's Spirit in us (Proverbs 3:11,12).

Understanding the Judgement Day should give us strength and hope in these bleak hours of this age. The Bible gives a joyous picture of the Judgment Day. It is not a day to be dreaded or feared. Note what the Bible says of God: “He has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”(Acts 17:31) This judge appointed by God is, of course, Jesus Christ.

We can be sure that Christ will be fair and just in his judgment. A prophecy regarding him at Isaiah 11:3, 4 assures us of this. So, contrary to popular opinion, he will not judge persons on the basis of their past sins, many of which may have been committed in ignorance. The Bible explains that at death a person is set free or released from any sins he has committed. It says: “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7) This means that when a person is resurrected he will be judged on the basis of what he does during Judgment Day, not on what he did before he died.

Judgment Day, therefore, is not a literal 24-hour day. The Bible makes this clear when it speaks of those who will share with Jesus Christ in doing the judging., (1 Corinthians 6:1-3) “I saw thrones” the Bible writer says, “and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.”  These judges are Christ’s faithful holy followers who, as the Bible goes on to say, “they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years.” So Judgment Day will be 1,000 years long. It is the same 1,000-year period during which Christ and his 144,000 faithful anointed followers will rule as “new heavens” over the “new earth.”—Revelation 20:4, 6; 2 Peter 3:13.

The Bible psalmist wrote of that glorious time: “Let the field and all that is in it exult! Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy before Almighty God; for he comes, For he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness.”—Psalm 96:12, 13.

During Judgment Day those who survive Armageddon will work to make the earth a paradise. Into this paradise the dead will be welcomed back. (Luke 23:43) What happiness there will be when families long separated by death are joined together again! Yes, how pleasant to live in peace, to enjoy good health and to receive instruction regarding God’s purposes! The Bible says: “when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9) During Judgment Day all the people will learn about Almighty God, and they will be given every opportunity to obey and serve him.

It is under such paradise conditions that Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associate kings and priests will judge humankind. People who choose to serve Almighty God will be in a position to receive everlasting life. But, even under these best of circumstances, some will refuse to serve God. Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly. “Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal wrongfully, and will not see the majesty of Almighty God.” (Isaiah 26:10) So after being given full opportunity to change their ways and to learn righteousness, such wicked ones will be destroyed. Some will be put to death even before Judgment Day ends. (Isaiah 65:20) They will not be permitted to remain to corrupt or spoil the paradise earth. It will truly be a grand privilege to be resurrected on earth during Almighty God’s great Judgment Day. 

In describing the situation on Judgment Day, Jesus said: “Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. ” (John 5:28-30) What is this “resurrection of life,” and what is the “resurrection of judgment”? And who receive them?

We have clearly seen that when the dead come forth from the grave, they are not judged by their past deeds. Rather, they are judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day. So when Jesus mentioned “those who have done good” and “those who have done evil,” he was referring to the good things and bad things that they would do during Judgment Day. Because of the good things they do, many of those resurrected will progress to human perfection by the end of the 1,000-year Judgment Day. Therefore their return from the dead will prove to be a “resurrection of life,” for they will attain to perfect life without sin.
On the other hand, what about those who practiced bad things during Judgment Day? Their return from the dead will prove to be a “resurrection of judgment.” What does this mean? It means a judgment or condemnation to death. So these persons will be destroyed either during or by the close of Judgment Day. The reason is that they do bad things; they stubbornly refuse to learn and practice righteousness. What is righteousness? “For all your commandments are righteousness.”---Psalm 119:172

 The apostle John saw in vision what takes place immediately before Judgment Day. He wrote: “I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away…I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and…The dead were judged.” (Revelation 20:11, 12) So before Judgment Day begins, this present system of things made up of “the earth and the heaven” will pass away. Only those serving God will survive, while all the wicked are destroyed at Armageddon to be resurrected to judgement at later time. Remember, they will be freed from their sin by their death—1 John 2:17; Romans 6:7.

Therefore, it is not only the resurrected “dead who will be judged during Judgment Day. The “living who survive Armageddon, as well as any children they may have, also will be judged. (2 Timothy 4:1) In his vision John saw how they are judged. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.”—Revelation 20:12, 13.

What are the “books” that are opened from which “the dead” as well as “the living are judged. They are inspired writings or books that contain Almighty God’s laws and instructions. By reading these all people on earth will be able to know God’s will. Then, on the basis of the laws and instructions in these “books,” everyone on earth will be judged. Those who obey the things written therein will receive the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, and they will gradually grow to human perfection. 

By the end of the 1,000-year Judgment Day nobody on earth will be in a dying condition because of Adam’s sin. Truly, in the fullest sense everyone will have come to life. This is what the Bible refers to when it says: “The rest of the dead didn’t live until the thousand years were finished.” (Revelation 20:5) The reference here to “the rest of the dead” does not mean that others are resurrected at the end of the 1,000-year Judgment Day. Rather, it means that all persons come to life in that they finally reach human perfection. They will be in the same perfect condition as were Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. What will happen then?
Having done all that God has given him to do, Jesus Christ “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.” This is at the end of the 1,000-year Judgment Day. By then all enemies will have been put out of the way. The last of these is the death inherited from Adam. It will be destroyed! Then the Kingdom becomes the property of Almighty God God. He rules it directly as King.—1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

How will Almighty God determine whose names are to be written in the “scroll of life,” or “the book of life”? (Revelation 20:12, 15) It will be by a test upon humankind. Remember how Adam and Eve failed under such a test, and how Job, when tested, kept integrity. But most humans that live to the end of the 1,000 years will never have had their faith tested. Before they were resurrected they were ignorant of Almighty God’s purposes. They were part of Satan’s wicked age of things; they were “unrighteous.” Then, after their resurrection, it was easy for them to serve Almighty God because of living in Paradise without any opposition from the Devil. But will these billions of humans, who are then perfect, serve Almighty God if Satan is given the opportunity to try to stop them from further doing so? Can Satan do to them what he did to the perfect Adam and Eve?

To settle such questions, Almighty God lets Satan and his demons loose from the abyss where they have been for the 1,000 years. What is the result? The Bible shows that Satan is successful in turning some persons away from serving Almighty God. These will be as “the sand of the sea,” meaning that their number is undetermined. After this test is carried out, Satan and his demons, and also those who do not pass the test, are thrown into the symbolic “lake of fire,” which is the second (eternal) death. (Revelation 20:7-10, 15) But those whose names are found written in “the book of life” will remain in the glorious earthly paradise. Having their names written in “the book of life” means that Almighty God judges them to be perfectly righteous in heart, mind and body and thus worthy of living forever in paradise on earth. With this in mind we should be changing our attitudes now so we do not risk loosing out to permanent death in the millennium.—rjk/a7dcog