God Did NOT Say "Be My Valentine!"

The sign in a church yard caught my eye as I drove by: “XOXOXOXO Be my Valentine. Love, God.”

X’s and O’s are commonly used to represent “kisses” and “hugs” when writing romantic notes. Valentine’s Day is a religious holiday for some, but to most it is secular—a day of romance, exchanging cards expressing love, and giving gifts of chocolates and flowers.

Certainly, God loves mankind as is stated in the oft-quoted scripture John 3:16. (Read our eye-opening booklet with that title). But God would NEVER say, “Be my Valentine” to express His love for us.

Why? Even a superficial Internet search reveals the historical connection of Valentine’s Day to the pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. Consider also the symbols of Cupid (Eros), arrows, the heart, etc.

In the early 4th Century AD, the Roman emperor Constantine legalized popular Christianity as an accepted religion, largely ending persecution of Christians. By the end of the 4th Century, a highly distorted version of Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire. To facilitate pagans’ accepting and converting to this Roman “Christian” religion, old pagan celebrations were given new, supposedly Christian meanings, but leaving associated traditions intact. So, “conversion” to Christianity was easy. Keep doing the same things, but under a new banner.

Famous historian Edward Gibbons, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, states: “After the conversion of the Imperial city (Rome), the Christians still continued, in the month of February, the annual fertility celebration of the Lupercalia…” (vol. 3, p. 475).

The Lupercalia festival partly honored Lupa, the mythical she-wolf that suckled the abandoned twins, Romulus and Remus, in a cave called the Lupercal. It also honored the Roman god of shepherds, Lupercus, also known as Faunus, Rome’s equivalent to the Greek god Pan—a being depicted as half-man, half-goat.

The Lupercal was the center of the fertility festival of February 13–15. Sandwiched in the middle, February 14 was a festival to honor Juno, the goddess of women and marriage. On the eve of the Lupercalia festival, girls’ names were put in an urn, and the boys would draw out a girl’s name to determine his partner for the feast. The couples exchanged gifts. A goat and a dog were sacrificed by the pagan priests. Young men were blessed by the priest and given thongs called “Februa,” which were strips of hide made from the skins of the sacrificed animals. The young men ran through the streets to lightly whip the girls with the thongs. The girls wanted to get whipped so that they would be fertile. This was a pagan fertility festival, so you can imagine the activities that followed the Lupercalia.

Around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated February 14 to be a day to honor “St. Valentine” as the patron saint of lovers. The day remained a religious holiday for the Roman Catholic Church until 1969, when Pope Paul VI removed it from the church’s Calendar of Saints. It is still a religious holiday to the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church observes a day for another St. Valentine on July 6.

Some might reply, “Aw, lighten up! It is just harmless fun. People are simply expressing their love for each another.” But like most “Christian” holidays celebrated today, observers never seem to think about checking with the HEAD of God’s Church, Jesus Christ, to see what HE thinks!

Christ does not want His people following pagan practices. God told His people in Deuteronomy 12:29–32 not to follow the practices of pagan nations or to worship God in that way, but to observe what He commanded, neither adding to it nor taking away from it. Jesus asked, in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Order and read our booklets, Restoring Original Christianity and The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. Find out what godly love really is!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/god-did-not-say-be-my-valentine

How to Redeem the Time

The older we get, the truer is the statement “Time flies!” It is 2018, and we still get 24 hours every day to use as we see fit. How can we best use the time we have?

Those of us who are older may feel more urgency as we wonder: “How much time do I have left? And what should I do with that time?”

I remember going back to my parent’s home for a visit, 35 to 40 years ago. We talked and reminisced about events in our lives from days gone by. I will never forget my Dad commenting in wonderment, “Where did all the years go?”

In the 1960s, the Smothers Brothers were well-known comedians. Tommy Smothers had a funny little song that went, “What has happened to time? It doesn’t come around anymore. The very last time I saw it, it went whistling out the door!”

Time passes. In 2016, we all received a leap second! Periodically, a leap second is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize clocks to the Earth’s slowing rotation. On Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 6:59:60 p.m., the second was added. And then, whoosh, it was gone!

When a second, a minute or an hour passes, it is gone forever. It cannot be retrieved. Science fiction loves the idea of time travel, which is delightful to think about because we would all like to go back in time and change some things in our own lives. But we can’t do that! We can’t revive even a single solitary second that is already past.

Many of us try to make good use of our time. Time can be squandered, or time can be used productively. Why not benefit from the proper use of our time?

The Bible uses the term “redeeming the time” in Colossians 4:5 and in Ephesians 5:16.

In English, the word redeem can mean to vindicate or compensate for faults, and to regain possession in exchange for payment—buying back.

But as previously mentioned, when each second passes it is gone! And we can’t get it back for love nor money! So, how can we redeem or buy back the time?

The Greek word translated “redeeming” in English is ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazō is the English transliteration). One of the definitions of this word is: “to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity… by which we make the time our own.”

We have all heard the saying that “Time is money.” We can spend money and we can spend time. We can invest and manage money and we can invest and manage time. We can allocate our money for various expenditures (housing, automobile, food, etc.), and we can allocate our time for various activities (sleeping, eating, etc.). The central question is whether we do that wisely, or foolishly?

Matthew Pool’s Commentary says of the “redeeming the time” term: “buying the opportunity: a metaphor taken from merchants, that diligently observe the time for buying and selling, and easily part with their pleasure for gain.”

Other Bible translations render the phrase, “making the most of the time” (Revised Standard Version), “take advantage of every opportunity” (Common English Bible), “making the best use of your time” (International Standard Version), and “make every minute count” (Contemporary English Version).

Three simple things we can do to “redeem the time” are:

     Step #1. Analyze where our time is being spent.

     Step #2. Reduce or eliminate time not well spent!

     Step #3. Redeem the time by wisely taking the opportunity to use the time we have to do those things that will be      most beneficial.

Time does fly. But, we can redeem it by taking the opportunity to use it wisely. One excellent use of time is in studying God’s word faithfully. Click on this link to register for the free Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/how-to-redeem-the-time

Finding Beauty in Wifely Service

In my life, I have seen some very successful marriages and some that badly failed. I’ve seen marriages where women didn’t want to give up their life goals after marriage so they held on to what they wanted and eventually left. Then I’ve seen the opposite, where a wife gave up everything to do what her husband wanted and lost part of herself in the process. I’ve seen women whose husbands “rode roughshod” over them or cheated on them, or simply treated them awfully for no fault of their own. I have seen wives who have been pushed down over and over get back up again. I’ve seen strong women dealing with adversities at home who have the strength of character to keep going when it seems like everything in life is against them. And I have seen the best of women, whose experiences would humble you just knowing about them. My own mother was an excellent example of what a wife should be.

So, in examining myself and my marriage, where do I measure up as a wife?

When I was a new bride, I used to think that being a successful married woman meant giving up my career goals and dreams as a single woman. What I didn’t realize until years later was that my goals and dreams didn’t die upon our wedding day. They just took on a new shape. After ten years of marriage and getting to know some very special ladies, I am starting to see things more clearly.

Oh, how I used to love to serve and help at church in any way I could! Side by side with my husband, I would greet or help set up. Then my beautiful children came along and suddenly all of my time at services was spent chasing a running toddler, changing diapers or pulling my children off of the stair railings. It was frustrating to me to watch my husband get to serve and fellowship while I was wrestling my two-year-old to the ground for a nap.

Then one Sabbath, years ago, I mentioned this to a minister’s wife. She must have thought I was crazy considering I was probably “preaching to the choir.” But she gracefully replied to me that in doing all that I was doing, I was serving my husband so that he could serve. It blew me away! All this time I had been disgruntled, thinking I wasn’t getting to serve, when I was already doing a huge service.

That’s when I began to see more clearly the way God intended for me to be as a wife. I began to see the benefit of the order that God created for a marriage. For a husband to prosper in service, there had to be a loving wife serving for him. God created woman to be a helpmeet and complement to man.

Ephesians 5:22 states: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

I have seen marriage get very competitive and ugly when a husband and wife were vying for leadership of the family. Knowing the correct roles in marriage could save a wife a lot of misery and frustration over the years. That is why God made it clear that woman is made to support man; not to be pushed down, ignored, or abused, but to work alongside of her husband.

I willingly admit that there are times when a woman has to lead. The very minister’s wife, who set me straight, was in fact head over the kitchen at services. Some women are meant to run the show and some are better at being the support. And that’s perfectly alright in each particular circumstance. After all, God did allow for the prophetess Deborah to be the judge of Israel in Judges 4:4–5 of the Bible.

The fact of the matter is, a building would crumble without its foundation. And someone’s husband might very well go to work wearing yesterday’s dirty clothes if his wife didn’t wash them for him. Just saying…

Just as the Church is the bride of Christ, serving Him and fulfilling His work and purpose, wives are doing a work that is just as important to serve their husbands. My role as a wife is not to diminish, but to be strong and joyful in servitude so that my husband—and my whole family—can be stronger.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/woman-to-woman/finding-beauty-in-wifely-service

For Want of a Nail

One proverb I read early in life was titled, “For Want of a Nail.” It shows the difference a little thing can make. A little thing can make the difference between life and death!

Numerous stories, proverbs and wise sayings teach that small things can bring serious consequences. There are various versions of the proverb titled “For Want of a Nail,” but a basic version is as follows:

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!

 

H.G. Wells wrote the famous story War of the Worlds, in which the invading Martians are defeated by little bacteria, “the humblest things that God, in His wisdom, has put upon this earth” (Wells, H. G. War of the Worlds, p. 269).

One of my favorite authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is credited with saying: “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” Certainly, his Sherlock Holmes character was keenly observant of the little details in solving mysteries. Small details could be the clues that solve the mystery.

Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Big things are made of little things. The big earth is made of little atoms. A big company is composed of many individuals.

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (from 1902 to 1932) said, “Life is a great bundle of little things.” Indeed, our life is a series of little daily events and decisions.

Proverbs 30 speaks of small things that are remarkable: ants, which are “exceedingly wise,” preparing their food in the summer; rock badgers, which though feeble, thrive in safe homes in rocks; locusts, which have no king but act in organized ranks; and the spider, which even dwells in kings’ palaces (vv. 24–28).

The kingdom of heaven is compared to a small mustard seed (Matthew 13:31–32). Yet, Christ told His disciples if they only had “faith as a mustard seed” they could move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17–18). A jot is a small Hebrew letter resembling an apostrophe, and a tittle is small stroke of the pen. Though small, both are preserved until all is fulfilled.

In Luke 6, after Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles, He spoke to the multitudes, making an oft overlooked statement: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46–49).

Christianity has never been more at odds with doing what Christ actually says to do! For “want of a nail,” the very knowledge of God’s soon-coming kingdom was lost—along with many other important truths! Instead of blindly and haphazardly going along, look into your own Bible and see what Christ says to do. To help you find the important things Christ said in the pages of your own Bible, we offer the many booklets, articles and telecasts available on this website—especially “The Mystery of the Kingdom of God.” Check it out today.

It will only take a little of your time, but could affect so much!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/for-want-of-a-nail