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Archive for the ‘Bible Students’ Category

Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters

In the country where before the invasion by the Russians lived about 50 million people, we can find people who have been exposed to a variety of religious beliefs.

The Orthodox Church –  10th-21st Century

In the tenth century, the Eastern Orthodox religion was introduced to become in 2018 the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Митрополит Київський і всієї України Епіфаній.jpg

Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Serhii Petrovych Dumenko, Epiphanius I of Ukraine, primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), holding the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.

The church was united at the unification council in Kyiv on 15 December 2018 as a condition for recognition of it by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and was granted the tomos of autocephaly (decree of ecclesial independence) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul on 5 January 2019. The unification council voted to unite all the existing Ukrainian Orthodox major jurisdictions: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) as well as a part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (a branch of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church, which claims jurisdiction over Ukraine). The Unification Council elected Epiphanius Dumenko – previously the Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Bila Tserkva (UOC-KP) – as its primate, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine.

Catholicism, Islam and atheism

Later the Ottoman Empire brought Islam to southern Ukraine. Also, Polish noblemen were spreading Catholicism during the Middle Ages.

In the 20th century, many became atheists under the rule of Communism, though also a lot of religious people practised their religion in secret.

For the Bible students in the country, such religious practice in secret was nothing new, as they always had to keep themselves safe from repercussions from Trinitarian Christians, who regarded non-trinitarians as the devil.

Cross-border seeds of faith – 9th – 13th Century

Devoted Bible readers living in the Principality or, from 1253, Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, one of the three most important powers to emerge from the collapse of Kievan Rus’ (loose federation in Eastern Europe and Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century) By the Mongol invasion the Byzantine teaching of a three-headed god was replaced in the regions by the singular God by the Muslims, which made it somehow more comfortable for the Bible students to show others how the Singular God had provided His begotten son to rescue the world.

16th Century

In the 16th century, several people interested in the Word of the Only One True God by seeking refuge from their persecution by state churches in the Holy Roman Empire (mostly Germany today) and other European states, found their way into regions which became later ruled by Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.

Because everything had to be done in secret, like in many other countries throughout Europe, it was not so easy to enlarge the community. Certainly, because they did not consider people who had a child baptism and who believed that Jesus is God, to be real Christians. This provided for a lot of controversy throughout the ages.

Jews opposing Charles Taze Russell his teaching

Charles Taze Russell, a leading Bible Student, at the end of the 19th century visited many countries in Europe and the Middle East. On his way to what was then Constantinople, Turkey, he visited Odessa in southern Ukraine in 1891. Later, in 1911, he gave a series of Bible lectures in major cities of Europe, including the city of Lvov or Lviv in western Ukraine. Lviv has historically been the chief centre of Galicia, a region now divided between Ukraine and Poland. Its position controlling east-west routes and passes across the Carpathians has given it a stormy history, but made it also a region of moving Biblestudents going from one place to another, spreading the faith, bringing a continuation of true New Testament Christianity over Eastern Europe.

Strangely enough, it was a Jewish rabbi from the United States who fiercely opposed Russell’s work who cabled a message to his associates in Lvov, denouncing the Bible Students. This incited some to try and stop Russell from speaking. About that night, Russell said

“God alone knows what his providences may be in connection with these experiences. . . . [The Jews’] excitement on the subject may lead some to a deeper investigation than if they had heard us in a decent and orderly manner.”

Though there was no immediate response to the message, seeds of truth had been sown, and many groups of Bible Students were formed later, not only in Lvov but also in other areas of Ukraine.

After World War I

Following World War I, Ukraine was divided among four neighbouring countries. The territories of central and eastern Ukraine were seized by Communist Russia and incorporated into the Soviet Union. Western Ukraine was divided among three other countries. The areas of Halychyna and Volyn’ were annexed to Poland, Bukovina to Romania, and Transcarpathia to Czechoslovakia. These three countries provided a measure of religious freedom and permitted the Bible Students to carry on their preaching. Thus, many seeds of truth that were to bear fruit later were first sown in western Ukraine.

In the early 1920’s, seeds of truth were sown in Halychyna and Volyn’ by Bible Students from Poland. Meanwhile, brothers from Romania and Moldavia (now Moldova) brought the truth into the Bukovina region.

This laid a good foundation for further growth. The Watch Tower of December 15, 1921, reported:

“Recently some of our brethren visited [Bukovina] . . . The result of their visit there for a few weeks is seven classes organized and now studying the volumes and ‘Tabernacle Shadows’. One of these classes has about 70 members.”

In 1922 in the village of Kolinkivtsi, in Bukovina, Stepan Koltsa accepted the truth, was baptised, and began preaching. Later ten families joined him. Similar growth occurred in the Transcarpathian area. By 1925 there were approximately 100 Bible Students in the village of Velyki Luchky and neighbouring villages. Following that, the first full-time servants began preaching in Transcarpathia, conducting meetings in the homes of the Bible Students. Many people asked the office in Brooklyn to send more books and pamphlets so that more people could be reached and baptised.

Such keen interest resulted in the establishing of an office of the Bible Students on Pekarska Street in Lvov. The office received many requests for literature from Halychyna and Volyn’ and regularly forwarded them to Brooklyn to be filled.

Like in many countries,several of the Biblestudents working on their own, and not having a connection with central organisations, made that we do not have exact figures of baptised Biblestudents. Though we now of ecclesiae having 50 to 100 baptised people.

In the 1920s there were were 15 publishers who had to exert themselves in order to work through the many villages with literature twice a year. Every Sunday at four o’clock in the morning, they met together at one of the village to start their house-to-house ministry at 8:00 a.m. to work until 2:00 p.m..

Since Roman Catholics and Greek Catholics have their Christmas celebrations during different weeks the brethren made use of it to bring singing sessions, but soon they stopped with those liked activities because they saw how wrong it was to be connected with that pagan festival of Christmas.

Willing to come more into the open there was decided to have a first convention of Bible Students in the Transcarpathian area. It was held in the village Velyki LuchkyIn, in the Mukachevo Raion in the Zakarpattia Oblast (province) in southwestern Ukraine, May 1926. There were 150 in attendance, and 20 were baptised. The following year 200 persons attended a convention in the outdoor central park of Uzhgorod, a city in the same region, which had passed to Czechoslovakia in 1919, to Hungary in 1938, and to the Soviet Union during World War II.  Soon other conventions were organised in various towns of Transcarpathia. In 1928, Lvov had its first convention. Later, other conventions took place in Halychyna and Volyn’ that after World War II became part of the Ukrainian S.S.R..

Despite the fact that some halls Biblestudents had built, were destroyed during the war and some were confiscated, the brothers maintained the desire to have their own Kingdom Halls and got meeting places all over the country. (Presently, there are 8 Kingdom Halls of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the village of Dibrova and 18 Kingdom Halls in six neighbouring villages).

Before World War II the majority of our brethren and sisters could be found in the West of Ukraine. Today they may be found all over Ukraine.

That Biblestudents are not spared the grim consequences of war, could already be seen in the Second World War, but now also with this Ukrainian war with Russia.  But also when there was no war, like from 1951 till the middle of the 1960’s, with the majority of the brothers imprisoned or exiled, our community had to be very careful how to preach or come into the open. Many brothers and sisters ended up in one of the 54 prison camps throughout the entire Soviet Union. In many congregations, it became necessary for sisters to take the lead.

Concealed in cellars

Today there are grandparents who feel like they are back in the old days when they had to hide in cellars and forests. Others remember how they gathered several times a week in the late evening or well into the night. They curtained their windows with heavy cloth in order to avoid detection and studied by kerosene lamp. Often the exhortations were only distributed on a written paper. Later, brothers began to receive magazines printed on duplicating machines. In KGB times the secret service was unrelenting in their determination to locate meeting places of Biblestudents so that they could punish the responsible brothers.

In Communist times holding the Memorial was the most challenging. But now with the Russians bombing Ukraine it has also become a very big challenge. Last 14 Nisan (15 of April 2022) several of our brethren and sisters did everything to make the best out of the evening. Though in several villages and cities there was not even drinkable water to prepare a meal. Bottles of alcohol brought salvation to have something extra in this time of distress.

Normally Biblestudents open their meeting to all who want to come to listen to what we have to tell. Last year there was Corona that prevented such a gathering. This year our Ukrainian brethren could not invite many. Some of them were already pleased that they could prepare a meal for 7 people, with the limited foodstuffs they still had available.

After more than 50 years of bans and persecution, today it looked again as if a period of aggression and ordeal had come over them. Some of our younger brethren had sent their youngsters to leave Ukraine, but after the bombing of the Kramatorsk station, they are now in the dark about what happened to their family members.

Having been able to meet with like-minded friends, for many it was like they belonged to the escaped ones and on that night it was as if they were resurrected from the dead by the Power of God. Even when lots of their assets were gone up in the fire, they still felt rich in the Gory of God that they were able to celebrate that special weekend in these times of war. Normally the Ukrainians eat a lot of potatoes, but this time they were not at the party nor any lamb.

While the sirens were sounding regularly, they quietly read the Bible passages and listened to the elder’s speech. Whilst bombs and weapons did not keep silent, they expressed their hope to live in a world where free nations are assertive and in the ascendant … where freedom and democracy are strengthened through a network of economic and security partnerships, and most importantly they all look forward to the return of Christ, though that would mean there shall be first that Great Tribulation. But for them, it could well be that we are already in that predicted Third World War.

Some saw this special evening also as a night to be liberated from the modern plagues. At the same time some were sad that some of their family members living in Russia do have a totally different picture of what is going on in Ukraine. The modern snake is clearly doing its work and by spreading misinformation gets tornness in otherwise close-knit families. This is one of the most terrible things that these people now have to endure in their families, a part that does not want to believe that they are being slaughtered by Russia’s murderous army.

While others have fled the country, some Ukrainian brothers and sisters have stayed in place — either bound to the land, too old or ill to travel, or simply lacking other options.

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Preceding

Preparing for 14 Nisan

Fellowship over meals

Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

Jesse Hemery and the The Goshen Fellowship

When Belonging to the escaped ones gathering in Jesus name

Those who Jesus can call friends

Most important weekend of the year 2016

The Most important weekend of the year 2018

2021 Memorial of Christ’s death

Another year of 14 Nisan with restricted access

Celebrating the evening of 15 April 2022 as a festival to Jehovah God

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Additional reading

  1. A useless but very dangerous challenge game
  2. Great tribulation and Armageddon
  3. Armageddon or the Great Tribulation
  4. What makes you following Christ and Facebook Groups
  5. Christadelphian brothers and sisters in Ukraine
  6. The one who claimed he was not planning an invasion in Ukraine
  7. Does the population of Russia know what the Russian soldiers are doing in Ukraine
  8. Russian army wants to make Ukraine the Syria from Europe
  9. Weekly World Watch March 13 – 19, 2022
  10. Stories to read in the week of March/April 2022 in the Independent
  11. The Guardian’s view on Ukraine for the first half of April 2022
  12. Has Ukraine become a Symbol of ‘Freedom’

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Related

  1. The Ten Modern Plagues
  2. A replica of the first Passover
  3. The Pesach Lamb
  4. Pesach 5782
  5. “They think it’s Passover… It is now!”

The no one or nothing in the darkness

When we look at our life, sometimes it can make us depressive, having us feel the “emptiness“, the missing of like-minded people.

How many of us do not build upon many aspirations, hopes, dreams and expectations?

Our head tolls from the many questions we have going one ear in and one ear out. And every moment we try to look to the right or to the left it is like we are getting hit by a boxing glove.

Noticing it looks like we are alone with our faith in Jesus and the coming Kingdom, we sometimes feel abandoned. Though we should know God does not abandon us, like He did not abandon Jesus. But Jesus also had a moment to despair and was calling onto his heavenly Father crying unto HIm, why He had left him.

46 About the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice, saying: “Eʹli, Eʹli, laʹma sa·bach·thaʹni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”+ (Matthew 27:46)

Like Jesus crying out from the wooden stake, we also have moments that we want to cry to God. Yes, it might happen to any believer that he or she questions God’s presence. It is understandable that we can have such moments that we have doubts about ourselves, about our faith, about God.

It is in such moments of doubt, in moments of fear and despair, that we are invited by our Creator and Sustainer to seek hope. He has given us His Word to give us daily food, to be able to go step by step and day by day. That Word of God we can take it up every moment of the day. It is God’s Love letter to us. From that great Book of books, we should be able to receive strength and hope. Hope comes from our trust that even when we don’t feel like God is present, God will show up for us. Often when we feel most abandoned, hurt and broken, we shall come to remember those moments as the ones where Jehovah God has shown up most powerfully for us. Those are the moments that shape our life and our faith.

Like Jehovah God had not forsaken Jesus, He shall not leave alone those who love Him.

28 For Jehovah loves justice, And he will not abandon his loyal ones.+ ע [Ayin]They will always be guarded;But the descendants of the wicked will be done away with.+ (Psalm 37:28)

Even when God might be with us, we can have that feeling to be just on our own with our faith, being surrounded by a majority who does not want to know about God or the Biblical Truth.

Constantly we seem to be confronted with an emptiness that draws us into the darkness. Sometimes it feels like we are a “no one”, or a “nothing”.
Without being someone and without having someone around us, we remain unfulfilled and incomplete. Our instinct wants us to mix with others. We are not made to be alone.

This primal instinct to be something is what drives our efforts towards avoiding being nothing.

The threat of which is the root to losing ourselves to the distraction of everything, when we lose hope of ever being something…to someone…but not just anyone. {Elusive peace…}

When we get older, this seems a bigger problem, than when we were young. Then comes a time when we want to scan our life and want to see what we established. How much effort we put in things and into what it resulted. What is clinging to our memory? What do we find worthwhile to remember?

Around us we see so many people who seem to be more successful than us. They can get a lot of listening ears, eager to hear their philosophies which give people only a shade of what they would love to see. Though we do know they can not offer that comfort or assurance that we love to offer people, because we live by our hope in Jesus Christ. Constantly we are confronted by those people who find that their way is the best way. But what they do not see is that what we want them to come to see: the way that seems right for so many men its end is the way of death.

12 There is a way that seems right to a man,+ But in the end it leads to death.+ (Proverbs 14:12)

We live in that world full of vanity, where man even thinks he can play for god and create whatever he wants.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility,+ not by its own will, but through the one who subjected it, on the basis of hope+ (Romans 8:20)

We would love to show those who think they can do it without God, that it is better to come under the wings of God. There is namely an alternative to the ultimate conclusion of doom and the futility of human philosophy.

23 For the wages sin pays is death,+ but the gift God gives is everlasting life+ by Christ Jesus our Lord.+ (Romans 6:23)

In this world, we do even have to struggle against those who say they are Christian but do not want to recognise who Jesus is and how important it is to I believe in him who God called His beloved son.

25 Jesus said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life.+ The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; 26 and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.+ Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus said to him: “I am the way+ and the truth+ and the life.+ No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Constantly we are confronted with those stubborn people who do not believe that Jesus existed, or who think that Jesus is God, instead of believing in the God of Jesus and accepting that Jesus is the way to God and not to himself.That unbelief makes us so sad, and when you stand there surrounded by so many unbelievers, it can feel so lonely, so dark in a world that offers so much but oh so little. Coming closer to the end times it worries us also so much, certainly when we see more lies encircling peoples heads. Fake news seems to have won the battle for attention.Though we should find the strength to continue calling people to come to follow the real Christ, the Jewish Nazarene Jeshua, the son of David and son of God. Continuing on our path to God, we should find comfort in the fact that there shall not be so many who shall believe in Jesus and do their best to stay on the right track, and that shall be able to enter the small gate to the Kingdom of God. We should see and follow that light in the world, which is given by God.

8 12 Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying: “I am the light of the world.+ Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light+ of life.”  (John 8:12)

13 “Go in through the narrow gate,+ because broad is the gate and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are going in through it; 14 whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it.(Matthew 7:14-15)

We, when feeling down, should remember that the apostles and other first followers of Christ, also were just with a few who were not liked by the majority. They also had often to struggle. They also could find strength by knowing they could get to encounter many tribulations, but always would there be a way out, and the gate to God’s Kingdom, which would be much better than any kingdom here on earth.

22 There they strengthened the disciples,+ encouraging them to remain in the faith and saying: “We must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.”+ (Acts 14:22)

18 “And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, what will happen to the ungodly man and the sinner?”+ (1 Peter 4:18)

All those who believe that Jesus is the son of God and the way to life, let them strengthen each other. Let us all be conscious that the road leading off into destruction is a road taken by the majority. When not being part of that majority we should not worry so much, because we should know there is Someone Who wants to carry us over the swamps and deserts of this world.

Let us not get the sand of the desert in our eyes by the many false teachings which encircle this materialist world. Instead of being a little grain of sand let us stick together as a lump of earth and join hands as sowers of productive seed.

44 It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body.+ If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. (1 Corinthians 15:44)

Let our voice keep going through the air and into the darkness so that somewhere a person might see the little spark of light.

We always should be aware of the importance of our own free choice. We always shall have to come to decide which way to go, the broad way of the world or the small way of God.

The question comes down to who will I believe. Will I trust the world that can give no guarantees and an uncertain future?

Or will I trust the sent one from God who proved himself by paying for my sins on the stake, dying in my place, and then arose from the dead in victory just as he said he would (Matthew 17:23, 20:19, 28:5-6)?

He too felt at moments on his own. He, too, had to trust his God. He put his own will aside for doing the Will of his heavenly Father.

Are you prepared to put your own will aside to do the Will of God?

Are you willing to go into the desert, like Jesus did, to talk about God and to spread the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God?

When reading the Scriptures we shall become aware that Jehovah God is really the only One Whom we fully can trust. By the knowledge that He is trustworthy and faithful, we should get more trust in Him and allow HIm to take away our fear and sad, depressive mood. With Him in our heart, we shall not be disappointed.

To you they cried out, and they were saved; They trusted in you, and they were not disappointed.*(Psalm 22:5)

When feeling depressed or down because it looks like we can not reach people, let us  put on a spiritual kind of armour that comes only from God because we are engaged in a spiritual struggle rather than a physical one.

10 Finally, go on acquiring power+ in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. 11 Put on the complete suit of armor+ from God so that you may be able to stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil;+ 12 because we have a struggle,+ not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces+ in the heavenly places.+ 13 For this reason take up the complete suit of armor from God,+ so that you may be able to resist* in the wicked day and, after you have accomplished everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

When we accept Jehovah’s help and rely on Him completely, we can succeed in opposing the adversaries of God. When we can have the same kind of confidence that the apostle Paul had. He wrote:

“If God is for us, who will be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

So, let us step out of the darkness, stretch out our hands to those who also love Jesus and his God. Let us join forces and focus most of our attention on learning about Jehovah and serving Him.

 Cause me to walk in your truth and teach me,For you are my God of salvation. ו [Waw]

In you I hope all day long. ז [Zayin]

(Ps. 25:5)

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Preceding

When feeling alone, afraid to connect with others in order to grow in faith

The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

As Christ’s slaves doing the Will of God in gratitude

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Additional reading

  1. Lonely so lonely
  2. Fear, struggles, sadness, bad feelings and depression
  3. This was my reward
  4. Trouble in my brain
  5. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death
  6. A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow
  7. What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?
  8. In defence of Doubt
  9. A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses
  10. Life’s challenges may not paralyse you
  11. Faithfulness when most necessary
  12. He Becomes a Fool Through His Endless Desire
  13. Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement
  14. A Million Ways To Live: Al Muhyi (The One Who Gives Life)
  15. He who beams never walks in the dark
  16. Confidence
  17. Hope begins in the dark
  18. It is not try but trust
  19. Give your tears to God
  20. Crying and trusting ones do not get disappointed
  21. A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
  22. Jesus son of God or God the son
  23. The Prophets Inquire into and Testify About Salvation
  24. A new decade, To open the eyes to get a right view
  25. Gospel or Good News
  26. Good News Breakers
  27. Bringing Good News into the world
  28. Preaching of the Kingdom

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Related

  1. The Void In Us
  2. Lonely… Empty… Why ?
  3. “Empty”
  4. Emptiness
  5. Emptiness “The space in time experienced as Emptiness is the predicate for Inspiration.
  6. An emptiness inside of me
  7. Why have you abandoned me?
  8. Ache
  9. Do you think Loneliness and Emptiness are two same words?
  10. When I Get Lost in My Loneliness
  11. Treatments for Depression
  12. A Conversation with Lama Shenpen about Emptiness and the Heart Sutra
  13. Emptiness Versus Hope
  14. A Moment’s Worth of Peace

Matthew 21:4-5 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Your King Is Coming upon a Donkey

Matthew 21:4-5 – “Your King Is Coming upon a Donkey!”

|| Luke 19:28-38; John 12:14-16

MT21:4 This actually happened[1] so that what was spoken through the prophet [Zechariah][2] might be fulfilled when he said, MT21:5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, saying, Look! Your meek King is coming to you mounted on a donkey and a colt, foal of a beast of burden.” [Zechariah 9:9]

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[1] This actually happened: Matthew provides his own observation on the Scripture.

[2] The prophet [Zechariah]: The quote is from Zechariah 9:9. The Jewish LXX foretells, “riding on an ass, and a young foal.” The young donkey rides closely side by side its mother.

Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

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Preceding

Matthew 21:1-3 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sent Ahead for a Donkey

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Additional reading

  1. Entrance of a king to question our position #1 Coming in the Name of the Lord
  2. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be

Hardships for choosing to follow the real Christ

In this world where most people want to keep to traditions and want to prefer to follow human doctrines instead of Biblical doctrines, the one wanting to believe what God says about Jesus often feels how difficult it is to follow in line with God’s Words.

Many of us have had to endure hardships because we chose to follow Jesus. For many who came to the Truth it took several years before they dared to take the steps in the right direction. Some do know the Biblical Truth and do follow the real Jesus, Jeshua the Nazarene teacher who is also called the son of man and son of God, but do not want to tell it to others. As such, for example, we had a friend who did not believe in the Trinity but kept working as a pastor in a trinitarian preaching company. He told us he could not say openly he did not believe any more in the Trinity because than he would loose his job as minister and would have no income any-more. That is often a very difficult factor, certainly for priests and ministers.

But also lay people have it difficult to make the right choice. Some of them have had to lose friends and family relationships, and on many occasions even had to endure verbal attacks. There are people all over the world who are being put in prison and literally risking their life to follow Jesus.

So the big question for most people is,

“Why?”

Yes

Why do we choose to risk it all to follow this person who we believe rose from the dead? What do we get out of it?

When they were fishermen Jesus had asked those simple men to follow him, what they did.  At that time they gave up their profession and their income. The thought of sacrifice very naturally suggests as its correlative that of compensation; so it is not at all to be wondered at that, before this conversation ended, Peter, the impulsive disciple, so much given to think aloud, should blurt out the honest question:

“Behold, we have forsaken all and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?”

Peter asked Jesus what they would get, and that is perhaps the question which would be on most lips when wondering to follow Jesus or any other person. Certainly (for today) when it is all about a person who lived so many centuries ago and who seemed to have caused so many problems. Peter could not but remember that while the Master had insisted on his disciples denying self to follow him, he had spoken no less clearly of their finding life through losing it, and of their being rewarded according to their deeds. {see Matthew 16:24-27 } A more cautious man would have hesitated before he spoke; but it was no worse to speak it than to think it: and then, it was an honest and fair question; accordingly our Lord gives it a frank and generous answer, taking care, however, before leaving the subject, to add a supplementary caution, fitted to correct what was doubtful or wrong in the spirit it showed.

People should know that everybody is free to choose what or whom to follow. God has given man the free choice. His sent ones, the many prophets often asked people to follow their sayings. Every time they left the choice to the people themselves, never forcing them into doing something what they would not want to do of free choice. The same for the Nazarene master teacher. He never pushed people to come to listen to what he had to say. He never pushed people to come to see what he did. When he walked around in the area people came from their own to see and hear this special man. Not everybody could make up his mind about that special figure and many doubted his position or wondered who he really was and what he came to do.

The word recalls what is said in the book of Genesis as to

“the generation of the heaven and of the earth.”

Nobody can escape to this system and shall have to make the choice to be part of this world or to be part of God’s World. That is what it makes so difficult, man can not live in both worlds. Man can not keep to the human traditions with the many heathen festivals and at the same time claim he worships God. The Divine Creator demands complete submission to the Divine values and norms. One cannot eat from the two walls. God requires an honest surrender to Him. He also has given His son to bring salvation to the world and expects that the world shall come to recognise His only begotten son.

Coming closer to the end-times more adversaries of Gdo shall try to get people away from the Only One True God. They shall do their utmost best to confuse people and to make them to worship an other god than the God of Israel, Who is an Unseen Spirit.

People who come to see Who God is and who His son is and want to follow that son, with the knowledge that this son of God the way to god is, may find it difficult to persevere because the majority is against such an idea that a man would be able to do God’s Will and to offer himself for the sins of others. When you believe that you should be not ashamed and should not go hiding, but should dare to tell about your faith, that you believe that son of man is the son of God who gave his life as a ransom for the sins of many. The belief in the son of God should make you stronger than those who do not believe in that man of flesh and blood who gave his life, was killed, put in a grave but was also taken out of the dead by his heavenly Father. That resurrection of a man is for us the ultimate proof that a human being can stand up from the death. In case Jesus would be God, we naturally would not have any proof at all for the resurrection of man.

That resurrection may give us something to fight for. People may bully us, hurt us and even could kill us, but we do know there is much more behind the ‘curtain of this life’.

No matter what you have had to endure or give up to follow Jesus, the reward in the end is so much greater than what you ever would be able to gather here on earth. We should not be afraid to face those who are against us because we do not want to go for that false teaching of a three-headed god. We should believe in what the Bible tells us and should not be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies and by those who want to push us in the world of human doctrines. You should know such people may harm you in this life but there shall be nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Therefore are not afraid for such human beings who ignore the Words of God and Who, as a God Who tells no lies, declared Jesus to be His only begotten son. Save your fear for that God of Israel Who is a Spirit and not a man of flesh and blood who could be killed. That God of Abraham is an eternal Spirit Being, Who holds your entire life — body and soul — in His hands.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28 NIV)

Our reward for following Jesus is that we shall be able to find the way to God. Jesus is the right way to go. By listening to his words and by doing what he requires from us we shall be able to grow in his teachings and shall find enough strength to continue on the right path.

We may be sure there shall come a moment that the Son of man shall come to sit on the throne of his glory and at the end of times no one shall be able to escape his judgement. therefore let us not worry but look for Jehovah and do what God wants and not so much what the people want from us.

“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.” (Zep 2:3 NIV)

When doing what God wants and step in the footsteps of His only begotten son, then we shall be able to go on the right path to the small gate leading to immortal, perfect life where there shall be no more sickness or sorrow any more. Following Jesus worshipping his God we shall come to see the heavenly gates and shall come to see that those who do not believe the Biblical Truth like us may also find death, but shall not be able like us to see their loved ones again who have died.

“”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, {Or his only begotten Son } that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

“3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” (Re 21:3-4 NIV)

“13  Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.” (1Th 4:13-17 NIV)

What more could we possibly ask for?

Jesus has promised us everything we can dream of if we choose to suffer now, just like he did. So be encouraged today that you have a tremendous, indescribable reward waiting for you when our king returns!

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Preceding

Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued 5 Matthew 6: 24-34: e) Anxiety and neighbor love

Matthew 19:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: From Galilee to Judah

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce – additional verses

Matthew 19:10-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Celibacy

Matthew 19:13-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Kingdom Belongs to Child-lik

Matthew 19:16-24 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Difficulty of Rich Entering the Kingdom

Matthew 19:25-26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Who Can be Saved

Matthew 19:27-29 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: We Have Left Everything for You!

Matthew 19:30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: First Last – Last First

Matthew 19 Concerning the saved ones and those able to enter the Kingdom

Even with a few gathering

All over the world there can be found serious Bible Students. But the big problem with them is that often they live in isolation or far away from each other.

It would be wrong to think there is no reason then to come together. Even when we are not with many at a certain place, there is good reason to meet with each other. We should always remember that we have to go out in the world to proclaim the coming Kingdom of God. We do need to witness for Jehovah and should be pleased that we can be inspired to do so by His Word.

Even if we are only with two, a gathering is valuable. when gathering we show our interest for the other as well as our love to share the loving kindness of our Lord. Together we can be carriers of a holy command, spreading the light of heaven. Gathering you give each other the opportunity to share thoughts and to grow by reading and discussing the Word of God together. That way you shall also much easier become doers of the word, like the master teacher required from his followers.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (Jas 1:22 NIV)

“24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (Jas 2:24-26 NIV)

We need to act and we need to show our love to others as well as our preparedness to form a group of believers in the hope of Christ. Let us therefore remember:

“13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” {Joel 2:32 }14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Ro 10:13-14 NIV)

“So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the market-place day by day with those who happened to be there.” (Ac 17:17 NIV)

“Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation,” (Zep 2:1 NIV)

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25 NIV)

Even when not with many we can help each other to grow in biblical knowledge and rely on it that Jesus shall be with us.

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”” (Mt 18:20 NIV)

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Preceding

Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-6 Reborn and pliable as a child

Matthew 18:7-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Danger of Stumbling-blocks

Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Three Steps to Gaining a Brother

Matthew 18:18-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Authority of Two or Three

++

Additional reading

  1. 8 fears caused by the fear of Man
  2. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  3. Not staying alone in your search for truth
  4. Companionship
  5. Being in isolation #2 Looking at the word “Isolation”
  6. Being in isolation #3 Gathering and Sharing
  7. Being in isolation #4 Man’s greediness, slackness, internet, friends and social contacts
  8. Being in isolation #8 Those isolating themselves and those being isolated by others

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