Have you succumbed to today's WORLDWIDE SPIRIT OF COMPLACENCY? Are you letting down in your prayer and Bible study — not doing your part in supporting God's Work? Or, do you continually Prod yourself — to make certain that you "bear much fruit"? RIGHT NOW God's Work is in a crisis! Why is it that the most important activity on earth should be in a financial bind?
Is this financial crisis the result of laxity on the part of the Co-workers? Or, more importantly, is the Work's present financial crisis primarily due to Spiritual lethargy and let-down-ism on the part of many members of God's Church?
Recently, Mr. Armstrong mentioned that more heartfelt prayer by the entire Church is what is needed to get the Work of God in a better financial condition.
In 1948, when God's Work was in a very severe financial crisis, Mr. Armstrong, a few members and the students of Ambassador College (there were only seven) prayed and fasted. God heard and caused a veritable deluge of offerings to be sent in. This was a direct answer to prayer. The income usually dropped in December — especially during the Christmas season. But not in 1948!
How many of you baptized members have become apathetic? How many are letting down — in daily Bible study, in diligent, heartfelt prayers, in fasting? Are you one of the members who is failing to faithfully render to God His tithes (Mal. 3:8-12)? Or do you give stintingly — perhaps grudgingly — to God's Work, yet spend lavishly on yourself and your family?
Perhaps you are becoming weary in well doing. We are commanded: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Gal. 6:9).
Are you growing as you should in grace and knowledge? (II Pet. 3:18). Are you producing much fruit? Or are you a shirker — a spiritual drone? You need to know!
Common Complacency Indolence, both individual and national, seems to be the universal affliction of our time. Spiritual and physical sloth are all too prevalent. Complacency is so commonplace. This is the chief reason for Britain's present terrible economic plight!
And some members — employed directly in God's Work — have had to be reproved for tardiness, indolence and lack of diligence.
Have you been infected by this worldwide spirit of apathy? Yes — all too many have! This is why many in God's Church are not growing as they should. Because of spiritual complacency, they are being overcome by the lusts of the flesh, by the world and by Satan! This spiritual slothfulness prevents them from really overcoming their sins and faults.
Spiritually weak members cannot produce the fruit which God requires of them. These spiritual drones are not doing their part in helping to carry the load which Jesus Christ, the Living Head of His Church, has put on the shoulders of His people today.
Are you one of these spiritual drones? Are you failing to do your part? Failing to pull your weight in God's Work? Failing to produce the fruit which will be rewarded by everlasting life, joy and service in the Kingdom of God?
The Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, want every Christian to be diligent — to bear "much fruit" (John 15:5, 8).
Prod Yourself! Many in Gods Church need to prod themselves. Mr. Armstrong, who is often in his office early in the morning, has mentioned that it has been necessary, at times, for him to put a prod on himself in order to produce as much as possible.
I, too, have had to do this. For years I have deliberately scheduled the classes which I teach at 8:00 a.m. to make sure I got to work early. This is not always easy to do — especially when we ministers are often up till beyond midnight — writing articles, preparing classes, visiting with members, ministers, or students or interested radio listeners, anointing the sick and looking after other facets of God's Work!
Christ's attitude toward spiritual barrenness is clearly revealed in the parable of the fig tree.
"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he [the vinedresser] answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dong it: And if it bear FRUIT, well: and if not, then after that thon shalt cut it down" (Luke 13:6-9).
What vital lesson does Christ intend that we learn from this parable? Jesus Christ may tolerate a barren Christian for a time — perhaps even for a few years — but the time will come when even God's patience will run out (Prov. 1:24-33). If a Christian does not respond to God's loving care, instruction and correction — then he will eventually he cut off from God and His Church — ultimately to be flung into the lake of fire to be destroyed (Mal. 4:1-3)!
Jesus Christ also revealed His attitude toward barrenness by cursing the barren fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-24).
As Jesus returned from Bethany to Jerusalem, He saw a fig tree. Moved by hunger, He went over to it, hoping to find some luscious figs. The tree looked all right. It was green, and had plenty of luxuriant leaves! In fact, there was apparently no reason why it should not have been yielding fruit. But, alas, it was barren! Christ promptly pronounced a curse upon the fig tree and immediately "the fig tree withered away" (Mat. 21:19).
Many have asked, "Why did Christ curse this barren fig tree?"
This cursing of the fig tree was not the result of an uncontrollable or immature outburst of temper on the part of Jesus. Christ cursed the barren fig tree as an EXAMPLE of what will ultimately happen to any BARREN individual or nation! If we do not produce fruit, we, too, will eventually come under the curse of the second death, to be executed by Jesus Christ. Such barren ones will wither in the flames of the lake of fire.
If we are not producing the abundant fruit which God Almighty expects of us, then there is a reason. Why do some in God's Church (the very begotten sons of God) fail to bear rich fruit? We are exhorted: "EXAMINE YOURSELVES, whether ye be in the faith; PROVE your own selves" (II Cor. 13:5).
But how can a truly begotten child of God really know that the FRUIT being borne in his life is acceptable to his Creator?
The Bible is the Christian's daily guide — his constant companion — his instruction book. It reveals God's perfect will.
By diligent, prayerful study of God's Word, the true Christian learns more about God Almighty and His character. He learns what kind of life he should live — the kind of fruit his Creator expects him to produce.
Learn From "Nature" Another way by which one can learn a lesson in producing fruit for God's Kingdom, is by studying nature — God's physical creation. That is why God commands the "sluggard" to go to the ant and consider her ways — her diligence, wisdom and providence. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise" (Prov. 6:6-8).
In fact, God's whole Physical creation furnishes countless examples of living, pulsating proof of the invisible Creator God's ways. By studying God's creation around us, we can discover marvellous examples of diligence, unity of purpose, providence, selflessness, courage and fortitude. "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..." (Rom. 1:20).
The starry heavens "declare the glory of God" (Ps. 19:1-6). And "nature" abounds with endless examples of the wisdom, power and majesty of God. (See Job, chapters 38 through 41).
Nature operates precisely as God ordained it to function. It never deviates from that purpose; and all nature is fruitful. By studying God's creation the true Christian can see how he, too, should lead a productive life.
The Marvellous Bee One of the most fascinating of all of God's creatures is the lowly honeybee. From creation, the hearts of men have been cheered and refreshed by the many varieties of flavors of honey produced by this marvellous creature.
And, without the diligent bee for pollination, farming would be difficult — if not impossible. Mankind would hate a herculean-sized task trying to devise a means of pollinating the myriads of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers which countless billions of bees do for him — and free!
Many of us ministers, faculty and students of Ambassador College here in England are able to observe firsthand, from our thriving college beehives, the marvels of this amazing creature.
The honeybee is a good EXAMPLE of diligence, selflessness, tireless energy, wisdom, devotion, fearlessness, loyalty, providence, wholehearted command cooperation. Mankind can certainly learn a great deal from the amazing honeybee.
Like the ant, the honeybee has no guide, overseer, or ruler to direct the communal activities of the hive. Instinctively, the bees work together so perfectly, so harmoniously, that they function almost like a well-oiled machine — like a living organism.
Example of Diligence Even members of God's Church can learn a lot by observing the honeybee. There are many striking parallels between the way God's Church functions and the God-designed functioning of a beehive.
An average beehive contains about forty to sixty thousand bees. There are three types of bees — the queen (a fully mature female), the workers (undeveloped females) and the drones (males).
The QUEEN BEE is the catalyst — the rallying point of the hive. Many will be surprised to learn that the queen does not actually rule or govern the hive. Each bee instinctively carries out its various functions — without receiving orders from any other bee.
The queen bee develops from an ordinary female egg which has been fed for five days on a specially enriched diet, called "royal jelly."
After mating with a drone the queen bee begins accomplishing her chief, God-given function — laying countless thousands of eggs to perpetuate the hive. The queen often lays between two and three thousand eggs a day during the busiest part of the nectar-gathering summer season.
The WORKER BEES are merely undeveloped female bees. Their beginnings are exactly like those of the queen, except they develop from an egg which has been put in a small "worker" cell and which is fed on royal jelly for only two days. This limited diet causes these worker bees to be undersized (in relation to the queen bee) and prevents them from developing and maturing to the maximum.
No sooner have the worker bees hatched from their cells, than they begin doing nurse duty — feeding the young bees from milk which is exuded from their bodies. Shortly afterward, when they get a little more strength, they will help in cleaning out the hive, or in fanning the air in the hive to keep it cool. Later still, they may perform guard duty around the beehive. And finally, when they have matured fully, they go out on foraging trips gathering pollen and nectar.
These worker bees begin working almost the instant they are hatched, and do not cease until they literally work themselves to death! An average worker bee will live only about 38 days or so (during the height of the nectar-gathering season) before working itself to death. These diligent worker bees make many trips to gather nectar during each day. Eventually, their wings become so frayed they are no longer capable of flying.
These worker bees are very selfless, self-sacrificing creatures. When on guard duty around the hive, a bee will sting its enemy — the intruder — and promptly dies from its death struggle with its enemy.
The "Lazy" Drone The DRONES (or male bees) are in the minority. They only number a few hundred in an average hive. (The worker bees make up the remainder of the forty to sixty thousand bees of the typical beehive).
Drones are seemingly lazy. They no work whatsoever! They merely stand around and eat the honey which the worker bees gather. They lay no eggs, feed no young larvae, gather no honey, do not help clean the hive, build no new cells, do no guard duty or any other work.
But, in spite of this seeming laziness, the drone bee performs a very vital function in the hive. When a new queen has hatched, she must first be mated with a drone before she can lay fertilized eggs.
So far as is known, the drone's sole duty is to perpetuate the species.
The worker bees tolerate these lazy drones during the summer. But any drones which have not fulfilled their God-given purpose of mating with a queen bee (after which the drone always dies!) are stung to death in the autumn — before the cold winter sets in!
Why let these lazy drones hang around eating more honey — especially during the long, cold winter, when the precious honey will be badly needed to sustain the beehive? What a tragic end these indolent bees come to!
Is this a lesson from the Creator — that any who do not work and produce fruit — will eventually be destroyed — in the lake of fire?
Striking Parallels What are some of the examples, lessons or striking parallels to be observed between the smooth functioning of the Church of God and a common beehive?
Members of the Church of God, like the bees, must work together UNITEDLY, as a whole — for a single goal (see I Cor. 12:12-28; Eph. 4:4-16).
Each bee instinctively knows what to do and does it. Christians, however, possess intelligence — not instinct.
They must be directed through God's pyramidical chain of authority from the Father right on down through Christ, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and other helpers. They must voluntarily choose to do the will of the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. If they do this, God Almighty, through Christ, will direct each of the members of His Church in the same way that the head of a human body directs all of its many members or parts.
The queen bee lays a prodigious number of eggs, She works hard. So do the worker bees. They literally work themselves to death. And even the male drone which mates with the queen promptly dies, having served his God-given purpose.
The bees are very self-sacrificing!
Jesus Christ shows that the Christian, likewise, must learn to be selfless, self-sacrificing. He must even be willing to lay down his life for the sake of his goal — the Kingdom of God (Luke 14:25-33).
The honeybee is a diligent creature — it works very hard. Likewise, God Almighty wants His people to be diligent. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." (Eccl. 9:10). (See also Prov. 6:6-11; 10:4, 5; 12:24.)
Bees, in the time of harvest, diligently lay up for the hard times ahead — especially for winter! The Bible tells us to work diligently now so that we can lay up a treasure in heaven — a reward which Jesus Christ will give us at His second coming (Luke 14:12-14; II Tim. 1:12, 4:8; I Pet. 1:4; Rev. 22:12).
But some will not receive any reward at all when Christ returns! Why? Simply because they, like the lazy drones, are not producing!
A Rich Diet The only "royal" member of the beehive is the "queen bee." Remember, she has the same humble beginnings as any "worker bee." She must receive an enriched diet of "royal jelly" for five days in order to attain full maturity. Also, a larger-than-average cell is prepared for the hatching of the queen so she can grow to full maturity. The worker bees, remember, only receive the royal jelly for a period of two days. This prevents them from maturing fully.
Cannot the people of God's Church learn a lesson from this?
Many in the Church of God are living on a very meagre spiritual diet. They are not diligently studying God's Word as much as they should. Their growth is being stunted because they are not constantly feeding themselves on God's Word (Hos. 4:6). It is only because God has revealed to us His Word and enabled us to live on this enriched diet of the Holy Scriptures — that we are able to become His begotten children, thereby becoming members of His royal family.
Christ commanded: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Mat. 4:4). He also said: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
Furthermore, we are commanded: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Pet. 2:2).
If we continue each day in diligent study of God's Word arid in prayer — by this means drinking in God's Spirit — then we will eventually be born into God's very family. Even now, we are begotten members of His royal household!
"But ye are a chosen generation, a ROYAL priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (I Pet. 2:9).
Yes, we, like the queen bee of the hive, are different from the rest of the world in that we have received a special diet of the unadulterated, royal food of God — His Word! If we continue to receive freely of this royal food, we will someday reach full spiritual maturity and will be given a place of responsibility in God's Kingdom.
This is why it is so vitally important for baptized members to diligently study the Correspondence Course.
The busy bee produces much fruit. It renders an invaluable service to God and man!
But what about you? Are you producing abundant fruit?
The bees act according to a pre-set, God-given instinct. It perfectly fulfils the purpose for which it was created. But what about you? You have intelligence — not instinct. You must choose to obey God — choose to do the right thing. Then you must receive power and strength from God and His Spirit to enable you to faithfully, perseveringly yield to God in order to produce much fruit.
Produce "Much Fruit"! Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that BEARETH NOT FRUIT He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth MUCH FRUIT: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:1, 2, 4, 5).
In order to more fully understand the kind of fruit which a Christian should bear, read the entire 13th chapter of I Corinthians — especially verses 4-7.
Also notice the FRUITS of God's Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22, 23. "But the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Christ said, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Mat. 7:20).
Are you a spiritual drone? Are you a barren-fig-tree type of Christian? Or are you producing "much fruit" — thereby rejoicing the heart of the Father and Jesus Christ?
Here, then, is how you can know if you are producing the right kind of fruit!
Do you spend the proper amount of time in diligent BIBLE STUDY?
A Christian should habitually spend at least a few minutes in Bible study each day. God commended the Bereans for "searching the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11). We are also commanded: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).
And what about your PRAYER? Do you pray as you should?
The Scriptures plainly show the servants of God normally prayed morning, noon and night, and they prayed regularly (Ps. 55:17; Dan. 6:10). God's ministers have repeatedly stressed that members of God's Church should spend at least a bare minimum of half-an-hour on their knees daily. The Bible docs not specify the exact required amount of daily prayer; but a Christian should try to spend nearer an hour in prayer a day, and may sometimes spend much more than this (Luke 6:12).
What about FASTING? Do you fast as often as you should?
Though God only commands Christians to fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:23-32), yet many Bible examples show the servants of God fasted on numerous occasions throughout the year (Dan. 10:3; Mat. 4:2; Acts 13:2, 3; II Cor. 6:5; 11:27).
What about TITHES and OFFERINGS? Are you faithfully supporting God's Work with your (or God's) tithes and liberal offerings (Mal. 3:8-12)?
Still another way by which you serve God's Work is by sending in to God's Headquarters Church in Pasadena (or to the other branch headquarters around the world) NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS or MAGAZINE ARTICLES. These news items can be used by our worldwide News Bureau to assist Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong in the radio broadcasts, and to help God's ministers in writing articles, preaching sermons, conducting Bible studies.
Set a Good Example What kind of a LIVING EXAMPLE do you set?
"Actions speak louder than words!" This old proverb states a Bible truth very aptly. Christ commanded: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your GOOD WORKS, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven" (Mat. 5:16).
One of the best ways by which we further God's Work and bear fruit in our lives is through setting the right example. People take far more note of our actions than they do of our words. This means we should set the proper example at home — before our husband or wife, our children or other members of the family. We must set a good example at all times before our workmates, our friends and relatives.
Another way by which we produce fruit is through our whole-hearted obedience to God, His ministers and His Church — at all times.
Also, by regularly attending the weekly and annual Holy Day services with God's people, we set the proper example.
If we set a proper example in everything we think, say and do — by our habits of health, cleanliness, cheerfulness, love, humility, generosity, and in doing good deeds such as visiting the sick — then we become shining lights before members of God's Church and before the unbelievers (Mat. 25:35, 36).
Another way by which we glorify God is by Prospering and being in good health (III John 2). If unbelievers see members of God's Church are in good health and prospering, then this will tend to make them ask themselves: "Why is it that members of the Church of God seem to enjoy good health and prosper?" Will they not want to enquire into our way of life because of the result which they will see in our lives?
Ministry by Prayer And don't forget, brethren, we must keep the all-important Work of God FOREMOST in our minds and hearts at all times!
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong has repeatedly mentioned that people whose minds and hearts are riveted on God's Work — supporting it liberally with their offerings, tithes and fervent prayers — always remain zealous and grow a lot spiritually. Conversely, however, those who get their minds on themselves — on material, physical, carnal things — soon lose their spiritual fervor for God — and for His Work.
Not everyone can make broadcasts, write articles, preach sermons, baptize, or perform the functions of the ministers. But each member has his vital part in God's Work!
One of the best possible ways you can serve God's Work is through fervent, heartfelt prayer. "The effectual FERVENT PRAYER of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16).
I know an elderly, frail widow who unselfishly prays her heart out for God's Work — for His ministers and for His people. I feel certain that this widow's constant, day-and-night prayers are "availing much."
The apostle Paul praised Epaphras — "a faithful minister of Christ" — for his zealous concern over the Colossian Christians (Col. 1:7). "Epaphras... always laboring fervently for you in prayers," commended Paul (Col. 4:12).
Do you pray daily for Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong — that God will give them renewed health, strength, wisdom, guidance and protection in all they do in His service?
Do you also pray each day for Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong — that God will give him strength, wisdom, protection, guidance, blessing and inspiration, in making the daily radio programs, and in carrying out his many responsibilities?
Do you pray for Mr. Dibar Apartian (who broadcasts to the French-speaking people) and Mr. Erhard Klammer (who broadcasts to the German-speaking audience)?
And do you pray for God's ministers at the Pasadena Headquarters Church who have a vital part in helping make important decisions?
Also, do you pray each day for all of the District Supervisors in the U.S. and Canada — and for the field ministers?
Do your prayers include all God's servants who serve in the many overseas branches of the Work of God? Do you remember the Overseas Directors in your prayers?
And, do you pray for those who are writing for The PLAIN TRUTH, The GOOD NEWS, books and booklets, the Correspondence Course?
Do you pray for the three Ambassador Colleges and for the imperial Schools?
Do you pray for the Printing Departments and for all of the many hundreds of laborers who are serving faithfully in God's Work in the far-flung corners of the earth?
Are you praying each day for The WORLD TOMORROW radio broadcasts? Pray that God will continue to bless this vital means of reaching the whole world with the Good News of His soon-coming Kingdom. Satan would like to forever silence these dynamic messages Pray that God will keep these vital doors of radio open.
Do you pray that God will lay it upon the hearts and minds of the Co-Workers to give liberally so that His Work can continue to grow? Pray that God will really move people to give generously to His Work; and then make sure you do your part!
And also pray that more Co-Workers will be added to this rapidly growing Work!
Do you, as commanded, pray for the sick? (Jas. 5:16.)
And do you also pray for those whom you know are undergoing serious temptations and trials? Do you pray for those weak members who have departed from or are about to leave God's Church-members who are on the verge of spending eternity in the awful, empty, lifeless void of oblivion? — UNLESS THEY REPENT!
Another way by which you can serve God and His Church is by making sure that you don't unduly monopolise God's ministers' time. Do not, however, go to the other extreme of failing to seek counsel, advice or help from Gods ministers when you really need it!
Make Your Calling Sure Are you making sure of your calling? Brethren, God commands: "Give diligence to MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Pet. 1:10).
Do you really realize how great your calling is? What a priceless privilege to become a begotten — then born — son of God! "Behold, what manner of love the Father bath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).
We have been blessed beyond description by having been called out of this darkened, sin-cursed world, and by having been begotten by God's Holy Spirit — thereby becoming His very own children! Eventually, if we continue to grow in grace and knowledge, we will someday be born into God's family — to live and rule eternally with Him, sharing His blessings and glory forever (Rev. 21:7; 22:3-5)!
How can we be sure our lives are not spiritually barren?
God's answer is clear — PRODUCE GOOD FRUITS!
"And beside this, giving diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and ABOUND, they make you that ye shall neither be BARREN nor UNFRUITFUL in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Pet. 1:5-8).
Are you a really fruitful Christian, or are you a spiritual drone — a drag to God's Work and to His Church?
Brethren, God Almighty wants us to "bear much fruit" (John 15:8)! It is not His will that one single child of His be unfruitful or barren in anything (II Pet. 1:8)!
This much, you can be absolutely certain of! You will not be barren or unfruitful if you willingly submit yourself to God Almighty — diligently serving Him to the very utmost of your ability!
If you do this, you will not be a spiritual drone! Your life will be fruitful — and you will make it into God's Kingdom!