Common Faith Network

Common Faith Network

2016 Feast of Tabernacles Details

  • Uplifting Sermons— Each day of the Feast you will enjoy inspiring sermons given by men of faith in the Church of God. Scheduled speakers for 2016 are Bill Jacobs, Guy Swenson, Wayne Cole, Ken Swiger, Jim O’Brien plus others. The deep meaning of the Feast and its application to Christianity is our primary focus.
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    Perseverance In Spiritual Growth

    Hebrews 11 shows that it’s possible to live a life of faith by reminding us of people who’ve done just that. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Rahab, and scores of people there’s no time to name all walked by faith. They compass us about as a great “cloud of witnesses” inspiring us to “run with endurance the […]



    Church of God International

    True Happiness, Priceless

    by Brandy Webb

    We have all heard the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” I have also heard the statement, “Well, I have heard that theory, but may I have a chance to try it out please?” The temptation to have more is all around us, especially here in the United States. I also think, in large part due to social media, the whole world now sees others that seem to have “more,” thus causing a rise in the temptation of desiring more stuff.

    I know the dream of wealth is nothing new. I am sure most of us, when we were kids, had castle-in-the-sky ideas of what life was going to be like when we grew up, and I am sure the majority of us didn’t get to step foot in those “castles.” However, are you showing the next generation that you are still content and grateful with your life despite not becoming part of the “rich and famous”? Are we teaching the next generation by our actions and words that we know that money doesn’t buy happiness? We may not know because we have had the opportunity to prove the theory, but we do know of someone who did.

    Solomon was the richest and wisest king of Israel. He made for himself great works. He built houses, vineyards, gardens, and parks (Eccl 2:4-5). He had many servants and “great possessions of herds and flock, above all who were before [him] in Jerusalem” (Eccl 2:7). Plus, he had lots of silver, gold, treasures, singers, musical instruments, all the food he could desire to eat, and all the wine he could desire to drink (Eccl 2:3, 8). He allowed himself to have anything he desired (Eccl 2:10). Yet, when he finally looked around himself he didn’t find happiness; he found vanity, chasing after the wind, and that all of it was of no profit (Eccl 2:11).

    Why? Because it is just stuff, and he couldn’t take it with him when he died. In fact, he had no control over who would receive his acquired wealth and riches after he died. He didn’t know if the inheritor would be “a wise man or a fool” (Eccl 2:19). He also learned the hard truth, “He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity” (Eccl 5:10). 

    What happens when we keep pursuing the wrong thing? We get caught up in whirlwind. Have you ever tried to catch wind? It is an impossible feat. Well, when we pursue things and not God, we are attempting to find happiness in the wrong thing, and we will never acquire that happiness just like we can never catch the wind. Now, I am not saying that we should not enjoy the fruits of our labor. For Solomon realized this:

    Behold, that which I have seen to be good and proper is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; for this is his portion. Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he shall not often reflect on the days of his life; because God occupies him with the joy of his heart” (Eccl 5:18-20). 

    The key thing is to rejoice, give God praise, and to realize that whether we have much or little, all of it is a gift from God. We must live a life that believes that it is better to have just “a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and chasing after wind” (Eccl 4:6). “Better is a little that the righteous has, than the abundance of many wicked” (Ps 37:16). “Better is little, with the fear of Yahweh, than great treasure with trouble” (Prov 15:16).

    Therefore, money doesn’t buy happiness. The only way for us to be happy is to put our faith and trust in God; to be thankful for what He has given us; to live a life of contentment with godliness (1 Tim 6:6). And to heed Solomon’s parting words: “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13).



    Morning Companion

    Second Chances

    The last time I checked, God’s scorecard doesn’t look too good.  Of the six billion people on the earth today, 4 billion of them adhere to a set of beliefs other than what is broadly termed Christianity (source:  Even if we assume for a moment that all those who claim the label of “Christian” really are Christians in deed as well as name, it means God isn’t doing very well in the battle for souls.

    Add to this the historical reality that the explosion in the world’s Christian population is a comparatively recent phenomenon (the past 500 years), and we must wonder why God seems impotent, if it so be that Christianity’s traditional truth claims are valid.

    I am a Christian.  I am a Bible-believing Christian.  I believe it when the Book says that there is no other name under heaven by which we must saved.  And I also believe the Book when it says that God is not willing that any should perish.

    Yet, here we are in a world where it seems the devil is racking up more credits on his side of the ledger, and it has been so since history began.

    Most Christians cannot comfortably answer the question:  If God is omniscient and omnipotent, why can’t he do better?  Implicit in that is another question: Is there any other way to God besides Jesus Christ?  And implicit in both questions is the assumption that God is trying to save the world.

    The scriptures are clear that God wants everyone to be saved.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone will accept the invitation, as Jesus pointed out in the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:16).

    If I were the contentious type, I would contend that most people haven’t even had an invitation to the party.  They might believe there is a spirit world out there somewhere and maybe even heard of a fellow named Jesus, but to say they have heard the gospel, understood it, and purposely rejected it – that’s a different matter altogether.

    I like to say that God is a God of second chances.  That means when we fall because of ignorance or weakness, we can pick ourselves off the pavement and get back on that bike.  The whole point of Jesus’ sacrifice was to give us a chance to start life over again.  I have been given more second chances than I deserve, and it is a testament to God’s grace that I’m still around. 

    Why would anyone think it is inconsistent with God’s character to give people a second chance?  Is it possible Jesus was making an oblique reference to such tolerance when he said, “He who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required”? (Luke 12:48)

    When Jesus said that it will be more tolerable for the people of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for the people his own day (who had seen his miracles, had heard his message, but rejected him anyway), did he mean that literally, or was he engaging in hyperbole?

    Could it be that God has a plan to redeem those by the blood of Christ, an “each in their own order” kind of thing, to borrow a phrase that Paul used in his “Resurrection” chapter (I Corinthians 15:23-27).  In that same passage he reveals that even death will one day be destroyed (verse 22).

    If God is a God of second chances, would he give the great masses who sinned in ignorance a chance to do it over?  Will it be more tolerable for them in the judgment (Matthew 11:20-24)?  Will the Book of Life be opened for them, so that their names can be entered into it (Revelation 20:11-12)?

    If so, that would surely be consistent with the character and strength of the God of the Bible.  And it makes God the winner.



    Anger Is Not A Sin (at least not all the time)

    A couple weeks ago, I read a blog post that stated emotions can’t be sins. They just are, and how we act on them determines whether or not we’re sinning. The example they used was anger. For proof, they cited all the times God is described as angry. Because God is incapable of sin, this […]



    Morning Companion

    Is Your Salvation Worth a Bowl of Stew?

    Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17, The Message)
    We find the story of Esau back in the Old Testament book of Genesis. The incident in question is in chapter 25.

    Esau and Jacob were twin brothers, Esau being the elder of the two by a few minutes and therefore by order of birth the heir to his father Isaac's birthright. These two boys were at loggerheads from the start, even seeming to fight each other in utero (verse 22), with that battle symbolically punctuated at birth when the newborn Jacob reaches out to grab his elder brother's heel (hence the name "Jacob", or "heel catcher" in Hebrew).

    As the boys grew they took dramatically different paths. Jacob was somewhat of a homebody while Esau became a rugged outdoorsman.  Both also had faults: Jacob was a schemer and conniver while Esau, according to the author of Hebrews, was profane (King James Version).

    The story goes like this: Esau comes home from a long day hunting in the fields, and he is tired and hungry. Jacob happens to be whipping up a batch of his favorite lentil stew, and brother Esau asks for some. Jacob being Jacob, knowing that his brother and not himself is to receive their father's birthright, sees an opportunity to scheme to his own advantage.

    He'll be glad to give Esau some stew -- but at a price.  "Sell me your birthright,' he says, and then Esau could have some stew.

    Esau being Esau didn't appreciate the value of his birthright. “I’m starving! What good is a birthright if I’m dead?” (Verse 32, The Message) So he agrees to this bargain.

    The question that Hebrews raises is this: What thing of this world would cause you to sell your birthright? Do you see the value in the birthright God has given you? I have known many people who believed the God of the Bible as much as anyone and accepted the gift God has given them, but the worries of this world, or the pursuit of wealth, or the pulls of the flesh, or who knows what caused them to drift away from the Creator and Savior who called them and showed them mercy.

    They sold their birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. What is your price that would cause you to sell your birthright? 

    What is your bowl of lentil stew?



    Church of God International

    Which Way Will You Swim?

    by Jeremy Brown

    I was recently listening to a motivational speaker, and she said something that goes with the Christian struggle. The speaker said, “Any dead fish can float down stream with the current, but it takes a live fish to swim upstream against the current!” Where are you in your Christian life? Are you just going along with the crowd doing what’s popular and ignoring what God commands us to do (Proverbs 4:2)? Many times in our nation we see those who claim to be Christian going completely against what the Holy Bible and God have to say regarding what is right and wrong. We can look back in our nation’s history and see the many times Christians should have taken a stand and spoken out against the evils of society, but they didn’t. Instead, they allowed it to happen or even took part in things they knew were wrong (Proverbs 9:6).

    There are shocking trends going on today in our nation as we speak. The United States Air Force is removing a phrase that contains God off of its entire aircraft fleet. Atheists are fighting to have “In God We Trust” removed from American currency. A female United States Marine was given a dishonorable discharge because she refused to remove a biblical scripture from her office desk because her commander didn’t agree with it. The list goes on, but the most shocking part is that these actions are taking place in a nation where 75 percent of its citizens claim to be Christian and a very miniscule percentage is atheist. How can that be? (Read Proverbs 15:10.)

    There’s also a statement that the atheists and homosexual movement have used to put fear in Christians/non-supporters: “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history!” The Christian stance should be “I’d rather be on the wrong side of history with men and always on the right side of history with God!” In the end, all human beings will stand before God, and I doubt that those people who pressured you to give up your biblical foundation and join their cause will take the blame, since God holds each person individually accountable for the decisions he or she makes (Deuteronomy 31:6). Stop just floating downstream with the crowd, and ask yourself, before you make a decision, “How does this correlate with my biblical beliefs?” For many years, I floated downstream, refusing to tell others where I was going when I was keeping the holy days, because I didn’t want to be weird or different from the crowd. Now I tell anyone who asks that I’m keeping the feast. Christians today, like the first-century disciples, should “go out and bear fruit (John 15:16). Each of us can be a light in a dark world and could lead a coworker or friend to God by simply explaining to them why we keep the Sabbath or holy days. Most people have never heard of the pure truth in our Bible. This dark world embraces many lies regarding the truth in the Bible.

    The trends in our nation and world are getting darker. I was recently reading an article in the New York Times that stated that the millennial generation is in favor of having marriage licenses that have to be renewed every few years, so if you determine this person isn’t for you the license won’t have to be renewed. Aren’t we supposed to go in to marriage with a forever mindset? You’re not supposed to start off with the mindset of “If this doesn’t work I can leave in three years when the license expires.” There was also an article in which a popular actress named Monique praised and even recommended open marriage. She stated that she and her husband have been in an open marriage for the past ten years. These are the current trends in our world, and we have to understand that God holds us all individually accountable for the decisions we make, especially after He’s given us His truth to spread to the world (Psalms 27:10). Swim upstream against the current! Remember, if it violates God’s Word, we shouldn’t do it. Don’t be hurt by the things others will say to you when you’re doing the right thing. In the end, God is the only One who matters (Psalm 38:19-22). None of this will be easy, but we can strengthen ourselves by attending Sabbath services and keeping God’s holy days with others who are going through the same struggles of a world turning its back our Creator God! It will be hard, but in the end it will be so worth it (Revelation 3:21)!



    Church of God International

    Sacrifices of Thanksgiving

    by Brandy Webb

    I was listening to the Bible, and something struck me as very interesting and inspiring. In Psalm 50, starting in verse 9, God points out that He has no need for meat sacrifices. In fact, everything is His already. However, what He really desires is that we offer to Him “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (v. 14). Thanksgiving comes from the Hebrew word yadah and can mean “adoration, a choir of worshippers, confession, praise, thanks (-giving, offering)” (Strong’s Concordance).

    At first, I asked myself, how is it a sacrifice to give God thanks? Well, the truth is, sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes our carnal flesh doesn’t want to thank God. We are to thank God “in all circumstances” because this is God’s will for us (1 Thess 5:18). It is God’s will for us to thank Him always, everyday, no matter what we are going through. 

    Do we always feel thankful all the time? Do we feel thankful when we are going through a loss? Do we feel thankful when we are going through trials? Do we feel thankful in the times that we live in currently? Some of us may actually say no to some of these questions, but what if I said that it is during these times that we must strive our hardest to find something to be thankful about. It is these times that we must strive to offer up to God sacrifices of thanksgiving.

    It isn’t a sacrifice to thank God when everything is going great. In fact, it is pretty easy to thank Him when we are joyful and happy. However, does being thankful during the good times make us any different than the rest of the world? We are to be set apart, a unique people, His people, etc. What better way to show the world that we are different than by being thankful, even if, from all outside appearances we “shouldn’t” be. Just think how different we are from the world when we praise our Father and Christ during trials rather than grumbling or complaining.

    We should never cease giving God sacrifices of thanksgiving. I know that we live in a very scary world, but has the world ever not been scary since the sin in the Garden? Do you think that the apostles had it easy? They were watching their brothers and sisters being martyred. They were also martyred. They not only had the religious system of the day hating them, but they had the major governmental system hating them. Yet, they never ceased from giving thanks and praises to God, and they taught us to do so also. 

    Paul went through many hardships, beatings, stoning, shipwrecked, wrongfully imprisoned, and yet He tells us to speak “to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ” (Eph 5:19-20). Why? Because He knew that joy, thankfulness, gratefulness, etc, isn’t based on what we are going through and what we have. It is based on our faith in our Father and Messiah. It is the fruit of God’s Spirit within us, and it is our choice to be thankful, joyful, and grateful no matter what. It is our choice to show the world that this life isn’t all there is, and that there is something far better coming. It is our choice to believe in the Kingdom of God and to live out that belief. It is our choice to listen to God’s spirit and not quench it with doubts, fears, anxieties, jealousies, covetousness, selfishness, greed, and hate. 

    The truth is that the choice isn’t easy. To choose to focus on the joy you had with a loved one rather than the loss of them when they are gone is not easy. I know from experience. The choice to not fear when you listen to the news and to choose to trust God that He is in control isn’t easy because we are carnal physical creatures. However, praise, confession, and thanksgiving, helps build the Spirit of God within us quenching the carnal spirit. Giving thanks during trials increases the Holy Spirit. It is a sacrifice to refrain from complaining and negative speaking. It is humility building to force the carnal thoughts out of our minds and the grateful thoughts into our minds.

    Therefore, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb 13:15). So, instead of looking around you and giving into the negativity of the world, look around to find something to be thankful for because as long as we have the breath of life within us, we should use it for God’s glory, so “give thanks unto the Lord, for His good,” and His love and mercy is everlasting (Psa 107:1).



    Church of God International

    Come As You Are, But Don't Stay That Way

    by Brian Bettes

    This past July 4th weekend my wife and I travelled to spend time with family. I have a bit of a love/dislike (not hate) relationship with these visits. The reason is because my wife and I continue to follow the faith that we were raised in, while my siblings and their spouses have chosen another path. In fact, neither of my sibling’s mates was raised in the faith that all three of us grew up observing.

    During these visits the conversation always seems to find its way to some variation of what is required for salvation, or in my words, what one must do to be saved and to make God happy, as opposed to what He finds acceptable. I find that each of these discussions tends to point to the same conclusion with only slight variations on how they arrive there. The conclusion is, “Come as you are and stay that way. God loves you, accepts you, and is happy with you as you are.”

    This trip I was presented with a new twist to the same theme, one I had not previously heard. I was told that the reason there are so many different denominations within Christianity is because God wants to make sure He can meet as many people as possible “where they are at” in order to “reach” them. The concept being that God has to lower His standards to human criteria to reach us, and then all we have to do is accept Him (no change necessary) because He is just that desperate to have a relationship with us. If He doesn’t do this, He will be out of luck because otherwise no one would want to have a relationship with Him. Is this concept accurate? Let’s briefly examine the Scriptures to see if this is true.

    The first thing I see in Scripture is, when God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, He, not man, set the standard to live by (Genesis 2:15-17). When Adam and Eve did not live by His standard, He didn’t just accept them as they were. There were consequences for disobedience (Genesis 3:16-19), and there was a very clear change in the relationship between God and man for his disobedience (Genesis 3:22-24). Mankind became estranged from God as a result of his sin. Mind you, there is no indication that God loved Adam and Eve any less than He did before they sinned, which is where I believe many people jump track. Consequences and estrangement are viewed as a lessening of love when in fact God uses them as teaching tools to show His way is the only way. He does this for us in love, with the hope that we will find our way back to full reconciliation with Him.

    The point is, and the mistake many people make is, to think that God is somehow tolerant of sin. Just because He was merciful enough to make a way for us to be reconciled with Him when we sin, does not mean He tolerates or accepts sin in any way, shape, or form. He makes that abundantly clear in the example of the woman caught in the act of adultery. Though Christ forgave her sin, he was clear in His instruction regarding her future actions: “Go and sin no more!” (John 8:10-11). 

    God is willing to forgive our sin as long as we are willing to repent of it (1 John 1:8-9). But we should not mistake His mercy regarding sin as acceptance or tolerance of sin. In fact, He is so non-accepting and intolerant of sin that He required His Son to die because of it (Romans 5:6-8), which Christ did willingly. Think about that! Even though Christ never sinned, He had to die for our sin so the path to reconciliation could exist.

    Continuing to live in sin after we have been forgiven of it, or stated in another way, staying the way we are, is not what Jesus gave His life for (Romans 6:1-2). He gave His life so that sin could be forgiven upon repentance, not accepted. His forgiveness provides the reconciliation that is the foundation from which we are able to build a relationship with our Father and Elder Brother, which enables us become more like Them. The path to forgiveness of sin (sin being the breaking of God’s law—1 John 3:4) was not instituted so we can be accepted as we are, but so we can change our thoughts and actions to His (Romans 6:12-13).

    God sets the bar on how we are to live and we are expected to rise to meet His standard. As we are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we are to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Again, think about that. Every thought is a pretty high standard! According to this verse, I am to raise myself to His standard, not expect Him to lower Himself to mine. So when God works with people, though He does start working with us “where we are,” His expectation is that we will not stay there!