Personal From Herbert W Armstrong
The Blessings of Abundant Living One of our Church executives and I have a disagreement. He is a very appreciative man. He's always counting his blessings. I'm the most blessed man on earth," he insists. I flatly disagree with him. I tell him I enjoy that status. Like the apostle Paul, I feel that I have been the chief of sinners yet God' s marvelous grace has so richly abounded that it seems He has simply lavished on me every blessing that even the loving GOD can bestow! Business associates, not quite comprehending the spiritual significance or real reasons, admit and marvel at the really happy and enjoyable life I have been granted. They seek the full joys of life. I did, too once. And as long as I tried to GET and to TAKE them, I somehow never had them. Back in my pre-conversion days in the magazine and newspaper world, I fought and strove energetically for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow the money that would buy happiness and all the "good things" of gracious living. I sought and struggled valiantly to attain the vanity pleasing status of being considered "important" by important businessmen. Yet, somehow, I never quite caught up with the end of that rainbow. For a few years in my middle and late 20s I enjoyed considerable financial success for a young chap under 30. I was making an income equivalent to perhaps $375,000 a year in today's money value. Even so, I never seemed to get out of debt. My heart was set on material things and on plain vanity and they just never seemed to satisfy. Neither, incidentally, did the brand of cigarettes whose advertising claims "they satisfy." You say you couldn't imagine me smoking cigarettes? Well, I couldn't either NOW 59 years later. I remember, now, with almost a pang of stomach sickness, the many times I sat at a banquet table, smoking a fine cigar. Why? Vanity. I was a "sheep." Others did. I followed. But did I ENJOY it? Never! What an idiot I was! In my mouth the saliva flows freely on slightest provocation. A cigar in my mouth started the saliva glands flowing. I was forced to use the napkin for a cuspidor and even then, it usually made me slightly sick at the stomach. Enjoy it? No! Those were days of ambition and hustle and striving but they also were days of frustrations, fears and worries, and an underlying sense of insecurity. Carnality and this world's ways simply never paid off! Then two successive major business depressions, and circum stances beyond my control, brought three successive total business failures. It was then that a Biblebelieving woman, neighbor of my parents in Salem, Ore., convinced my wife that the Bible enforced observance of the seventh-day Sabbath in this New Testament time of grace! The facts of my outraged reaction at this "religious fanaticism" have been published many times. I was unable to talk, reason, argue, cajole or threaten her out of her newfound conviction. I was literally angered into my first STUDY of the Bible to prove to her that "all these churches couldn't be wrong" and that the Bible commanded and en forced the observance of Sunday, in this New Testament period. I sought, wrote for and obtained at the public library every book or booklet possible purporting to refute seventh-day Sabbath observance. I searched every nook and cranny of the New Testament to find the sanctification or command to observe Sunday. It was like hunting for the needle in the haystack the needle that isn't there! Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I never found it! Instead, I found that Jesus Christ always kept this day "as His custom was," and the apostle Paul kept it "as his manner was." I found where Jesus gave us an example that we should do as He did, and where we are commanded to walk in His steps to walk as HE walked. Also that it is "Christ IN us" who gives hope of glory (by His Holy Spirit), and that He is a change less Chris t the same today as when He walked the earth in human flesh. I found that the New Testament commands Sabbath observance. By the way, we have a booklet explaining in detail what I found on this question in the Bible. It is entitled Which Day I s the Christian Sabbath? I think you might find it interesting, as well as surprising and eye-opening. Your copy has already been paid for (you can't pay for your own) and it would be a shame for your copy to keep on lying unused in our mailing area, wouldn't it? Remember, it's FREE, as Christ's Gospel is free, of course. Well, Satan may have "opened" the eyes of Adam and Eve to evil and then BLINDED the eyes of all of us ever since but in that study the true Creator GOD opened my eyes to His TRUTH! There it was, staring at me in the Maker's own INSTRUCTION BOOK! I didn't like it at first. "What would my business associates say?" was the question that cam e automatically to mind. That's the question that chains most people to the darkness, the curses and frustrations of this world. They seldom give a thought to, "What would GOD say?" They ought to ask, "What is CHRIST GOING TO SAY, when I face Him in the Judgment?" To me, God 's truth meant GIVING UP! It meant giving up associates and friends at least, so I supposed. It meant giving up MY OWN WAY! It seemed like GIVING UP everything I had ever held dear or lived for. It was like GIVING UP my very life. But then, with God 's BIBLE before me, I came to realize that Christ had bought and paid for my life and it wasn't mine, anyway. God had made the giving up easier by repeated defeats by reduction to economic poverty. I was only a "burned-out hunk O' junk," anyhow. Finally, I did make the surrender UNCONDITIONALLY! I told God He could have my life, and if HE could make anything out of it, He could have it I had made only a failure out of it! And I did mean that! To me, it meant GIVING UP everything I had valued as worth living for. But, you know, we have to die to LIVE to LOSE our lives in order to FIND THEM! Perhaps, then, I never expected to really ENJOY LIFE anymore. I had sought hard to ENJOY LIFE and failed. So now I gave it up! But, actually, that was precisely when I really FOUND IT! THAT was when truly ENJOYING LIFE first began! I remember many a happy, blessed, really ENJOYABLE hour spent in the bare kitchens of financially poor people, studying the Bible with them. It seemed as if the angels were there with us as, indeed, they were! It was as happy as if the bare, poverty ridden kitchen had been a gilded king 's palace. No that's wrong, it was not just as happy it was a thousand times more so! I began to learn that happiness did not consist of material possessions. Happiness is in the MIND. And somehow, I had found happiness real, full, abundant, deep-down HAPPINESS! We didn't have money but we had inherited the TRUE RICHES! I was literally plunged into the very Work of God. I didn't seek it God PUT me in, once I yielded wholly to be faithful to His Word. Having a part in God's own Work was the greatest joy I had known. The change came early in 1927. Almost night-and-day Bible study continued. My wife was miraculously healed even a dumbfounded doctor was forced to admit that. Then I was blessed with my first son. Years later, God tried me to see whether I would be willing to give him up. Struggling in prayer, I told God I was willing not for a moment believing He would require it of me. But He did. The first conversions through my preaching came in December, 1930. NEVER had I experienced such joy. Talk about THRILLS! I had experienced thrills a t football games and worldly entertainments but never anything like THIS! Blessings piled up on blessings. God opened the powerful DOOR of radio and the printing press in the very smallest manner, at first. But the Work grew, and grew. More and more conversions followed dozens, then scores, then hundreds, then THOUSANDS! I expect to have a lot of COMPANY in God's Kingdom, where we shall live FOR EVER! After 28 years of economic poverty 21 of which had been spent in the joys of God's true blessings God allowed eve n a measure of material blessings! I have very little money in my own name in the bank yet God enables me to enjoy all the material blessings today that are good for me. This, however, came only after I had learned NOT to set my heart on economic prosperity. Best of all, we in this great Work have the matchless knowledge that we are HEIRS of GOD and joint-heirs with CHRIST to be BORN INTO GOD'S OWN FAMILY and share His honor and GLORY forever! But meanwhile, our minds are free from fears and worries. There are never any frustrations! We have been given a biding FAITH, which never fails and never will! We have ABSOLUTE SECURITY! We are allowed high position and authority in GOD 'S Work, directed personally by the living Jesus Christ. I am privileged to work directly UNDER HIM! We are kept BUSY. We are privileged to enjoy the physical BEAUTY of (we believe) the most beautiful college campuses in the world! We are privileged to ENJOY seeing the almost incredible transformation and character development spiritually, men tally, morally, emotionally and physically in hundreds of purposeful college students. We are privileged to lead them, counsel with them in their problems, serve them in many important ways. I am privileged to write this incredible GOOD NEWS for perhaps more than two million of you to read. Say! Just what do you mean, my executive friend, that you are "the most blessed man on earth"? Well, after all that's the kind of "competition" where I can say I'm rejoicing in the knowledge we SHARE the rich blessings of the benevolent GOD!
I wish men of position, and growing success in the world, could realize the REAL SOURCE of true happiness of real, enjoy able, interesting, happy and abundant LIVING! Yes, I wish ALL PEOPLE, everywhere, could really enjoy life as much as we do. I'm glad this man is privileged to enjoy life so abundantly. I rejoice that many others and their families are equally blessed. I'm grateful beyond words that scores, hundreds and thousands are now sharing in these same blessings, and will really know what I'm talking about! And I rejoice in the sure knowledge that, in the very imminent future, Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth in all the supreme POWER and GLORY of the great GOD, and literally force this whole world to see the TRUE VALUES, and learn the way to all we enjoy now and MORE! SURE I'm happy just brimful and running over with happiness. I've tried to share a little of it with our readers. Speaking of BLESSINGS that God showers on those who obey and trust Him, all this reminds me of the first chapter of Ephesians, Moffatt translation. I will have this ended by reproducing some of that for you and I sincerely hope it applies to YOU, as it surely does to me. Here it is: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing within the heavenly sphere! He chose us in him ere the world was founded, to be consecrated and unblemished in his sight, destining us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.... So richly has God lavished upon us his grace, granting us complete insight and understanding of the open secret of his will... May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of himself, illuminating the eyes of your heart so that you can understand the hope to which He calls us, the wealth of his glorious heritage in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of his power over us believers a power which operates with the strength of the might which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords, above every Name that is to be named not only in this age but in the age to come he has put everything under his feet and set him as head over everything for the church, the church which is his Body, filled by him who fills the universe entirely."