Reality vs Fantasy: 2 bags - one with real food - other with picture of steak. If heading out on a trip today, which one would we choose? Now here are some things that may be a little more difficult to determine which is fantasy and which is reality. Perceived paradise as we see in advertising - or Paradise as portrayed in the Bible. In reality, only one of these will truly satisfy our desires, while we might get temperery enjoyment from the other - or we may even be a little disappointed when we arrive at the destination and find that the photos are a little more impressive than what is actually offered.
Well, sadly today - the case is that millions of people indulge themselves in flights of fancy. Fantasies often featured in advertising, movies, TV programs, magazines, and books. Dreams of gaining fabulous wealth, power, prominence, of fulfilling every desire for pleasure, of engaging in immoral sexual activity - with no responsibility or accountability.
Are such worldly fantasies harmless?
If we accept the fact that all humans are susceptible to wrong thinking, then considering the Bible counsel at James 1:14,15 can be valuable in finding out the answer to that question. [READ]
James warning here, makes it clear that if one allows a wrong desire to "become fertile", that bad actions or the harsh realities of sin, are sure to follow. Where do these wrong desires get their inspiration from? Really, from the things that we dwell on - or fantasize about. Specifically the fantasies of the world ruled by Satan, that we are bombarded with every day - with the countless suggestions and temptations to do wrong. Our choices can make or break us spiritually.
So it is a necessity that Christians reject such worldly fantasies because they stir up selfish desires in mind and heart. Daydreaming about doing what is wrong can in fact be a rehearsal in the mind of what a person will actually do.
It is useful for us to consider examples of the harm that can come from indulging in selfish fantasies. The foremost example is Satan the Devil. He really envied that unique position as the Universal Sovereign that Jehovah alone had the right to, and wanted to be worshiped. Well, was it an unrealistic fantasy? Turn to Revelation 20:1-3, 10 [READ]
The unreality of his choices will be proved beyond question when Satan is bound for a thousand years and hurled in the "lake of fire" - the second death.
Not only were the Devil's choice something that would prove detrimental to himself, but they have had a profound effect of humans. We will discuss in a few minutes how we can recognize his influence today, but it is easy to recognize the pattern when considering what happened to Eve in the infancy of humanity.
In Satan's efforts to realize his lofty ambition of self-importance, he was successful in placing in her mind's eye, the fantasy that if she ate of the forbidden fruit, that she would not die - she would be like God - she would know good and bad. So was that fantasy unrealistic, selfish? Turn to Romans 5:12 [READ]
Eve was condemned by God - her selfish actions led to induce her husband Adam to be condemned by God. The sad result of their sinful course was pain imperfection and death. They lost the right to live in Paradise for themselves and for all of their imperfect offspring. How sad.
A third example of the destructive impact of dwelling on wrong things, took place before the Flood when certain angelic sons of God, fantasized about women on the earth and how pleasurable it would be to have sexual relations with them. How did that turn out for them? Well, maybe for a short period of time, their desires seemed fulfilled, however it quickly turned bad when they produced violent hybrid offspring and Jehovah punished them in the same way and with the same outcome as reserved for the Devil as we read at Revelation 20:1-3, 10.
How do these examples help us make proper choices today? How do we recognize what are fantasies and what are realities in our daily life, so that we don't dwell on the wrong things and harm ourselves and our relationship with Jehovah God?
Well, it is vital that we accept that until the demise of Satan, he continues to have the same ambitions of superceeding God and as well caters to his desires of glory by attempting to deceive and influence all of humanity, in the same way that he did Eve.
Satan the Devil knows that he has had success and continues on in that course as ruler of the world today - as the Bible mentions. It is impossible for any of us to get away from his propaganda altogether, but if we are aware of his methods and schemes, we can avoid the tendency to give excessive consideration to the things of little value or that can lead to spiritual shipwreck.
Let's first consider one of the most common and dangerous fantasies promoted by Satan. Many people today, spend a lot of time being entertained by movies, magazines, soap operas, game shows and books - that encourage the pursuit of material riches and even greed. By filling our minds with such content, can we be tempted to indulge in the fantasy and craving to become rich? Maybe.
Such fantasies, motivate people to work laboriously for years to acquire wealth. For some it has led to indulging in all kinds of gambling, such as betting on horses or buying lottery tickets - many times to the detriment of looking after essential family needs. Tragically some have become caught up in today's frenzied economy - maybe taking on extra secular work in an effort to get ahead or have the things they desire - - - leading to losing their precious relationship with Jehovah. What a price to pay isn't it!
For each one of us - - - let us not entertain any ambitions related to gaining wealth. Material security is a satanic illusion. A wonderful Bible scripture is at Proverbs 18:11 [READ]
Yes, only "in his imagination" because material wealth offers little protection in times of runaway inflation, economic collapse, political upheaval, or terminal illness - wouldn't you agree?
To help us understand the folly of pursuing riches, Jesus provided the parable of the rich man who is not content with storehouses filled with good things he already has, but who tears them down and builds ones bigger ones in order to lay up more good things. Just as he thinks he is ready to relax and enjoy a good life, God tells him that his life is coming to an end and all the good things the man has stored up will go to someone else. Then Jesus added the concluding statement in Luke 12:21: "So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich to God".
From what Jesus said in the parable, it is reasonable to think that the rich man worked hard - probably planned and saved for the future, probably with the welfare of his family in mind. But what did the rich man do when his land produced well? He decided to tear down the storehouses and build large ones to store the excess grain and good things. That plan apparently gave him such a sense of security and satisfaction, that he thought to himself as mentioned in Luke 12:19 - "I will say to my soul:'Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.'" Practical as it might have seemed, it left out one vital element - God's will.
God called the man "unreasonable". That word unreasonable refers not to one who lacks intelligence, but to "one who refuses to acknowledge dependance on God". We do well to take this lesson to heart. When Jesus said "so it goes", he was pointing out that what happened to the rich man will also happen to those who build their life - their hope and their security - solely on material things. The fault is not so much in laying up treasure for oneself as it is in failing to be rich toward God.
Satan continues to promote deceptive worldly fantasies that can change our focus away from serving Jehovah to actively pursuing riches and importance. How much wiser to follow the course of being content just as encouraged at 1 Timothy 6:6-8 [READ]
Another devise of this world, is the promotion of sexual fantasies. The extent to which sinful human nature likes to dwell on those, can be seen by the multibillion dollar dial-a-porn business. For some, wrong desires are fanned by reading romance novels, watching immoral movies or videos, becoming entangled in online social networks. This in particular has led to having intimate conversations and in some cases passionately embracing and kissing someone other than marriage mate. Increasingly popular is the easy access to all forms of pornography and illicit sex online in the privacy of ones home.
If we are to allow our minds to dwell on such things, would we not be hypocrites, only appearing to be clean Christians? And what about the real danger of such fantasies leading to immoral intimacies?
It is interesting that a Dr of psychology states that "Fantasizing about another person may seem like a harmless indulgence, but it actually draws us closer to temptation and can increase the risk of being unfaithful". She likens such a situation to dwelling on worries and possible catastrophes and how that fuels anxiety and makes fears more vivid. She concludes "So immersion in fantasy can enhance rather than quench our longings.
The sad reality is that some have gone further than fantasizing, by committing adultery and divorcing innocent mates. Such an outcome is in direct violation of how Jehovah God views marriage and sexuality. How does he view the marriage arrangement? The answer is found in his word the Bible at Hebrews 13:4 [READ]
The Greek word translated "honourable" carries the thought of something that is precious and highly esteemed. When we value something, we take care to preserve it and not lose it - even accidentally. The same should be true of the marriage arrangement.
So we need to suppress sinful thoughts and fantasies so that we do not cause our loved ones pain. The effects from a marital breakup for the innocent mate, the children and others, is devastating. In fact such treachery is not only a sin against one's mate - but also against Jehovah and the congregation. Something we need to seriously think about if we are to entertain worldly fantasies, is that they can easily lead to rejection by Jehovah and separation from the congregation.
"The things of the world" - the enticements - the fantasies - - - are like lures of a fisherman. They are attractive, but attached to each lure is a hook. Satan uses what people may regard as normal everyday needs to make them want to do what is contrary to God's laws. Such temptations, though, are designed to influence our desires and corrupt our heart. As a result, those chasing such selfish dreams will be bitterly disillusioned.
It is vital that we REJECT WORDLY FANTASIES.
How best do we do that? It is by continuing to pursue Kingdom realities. Please turn your Bibles to Matthew 6:33 where we find Jesus urging us to do that. [READ]
This Kingdom that Jesus speaks about, is not a fantasy - - - it is without doubt a reality - a real government with power and authority that will fulfill proper expectations. As well - Christ, the King, was not an illusion in the first century; nor is he such today.
After examining doubts about Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels, James R. Edwards, professor of religion at Jamestown College, North Dakota, U.S.A, wrote: "We may affirm with confidence that the Gospels preserve a diverse and significant body of evidence of the actual truth about Jesus . . . The most reasonable answer to the question why the Gospels present Jesus as they do is because that is essentially who Jesus was. The Gospels Faithfully preserve the memory that he left on his followers, that he was divinely legitimated and empowered to be God's Son and Servant."
Just think about it for a moment - in the first century multitudes accepted Jesus for what he was - the promised Messiah or Christ. Now, in the face of fierce persecution, people would hardly have been motivated to become disciples if they were unsure of his identity. So courageously and zealously, they took up the commission he gave them.
Today, millions of sincere and informed Christians know that Jesus is no legendary figure. They accept him as the enthroned King of God's established Kingdom in heaven, who is about to take full control of the earth and its affairs.
One further argument that we can make for the surety of the Kingdom is the effect that is already having on bringing many things into reality. As an example what reality can be recognized from reading the prophesy written at Matthew 24:14? What does it say there? [READ]
In fulfillment of this prophesy, loyal subjects throughout the world are actively involved in announcing the establishment of the Kingdom. To what extent already? In 239 lands they are preaching the good news of God's Kingdom. During the 2014 service year they spent 1,945,487,604 hours preaching the Kingdom message.
The effects of that Kingdom, has resulted in tangible, lasting results with millions of people around the earth learning what the Bible refers to as the pure language. They willingly conform to Jehovah's righteous standards are are identifiable by two essential qualities mentioned in the Bible. First is John 13:35 [READ] next Psalms 29:11 [READ]. Yes the effects of that Kingdom is currently identifiable by the uniting of millions of people around the globe - from every status of life - from every nationality and culture - - - in love and peace.
You can be sure - the Kingdom and it's king Christ Jesus are not fantasies - - - they are realities. They are worthy of pursuit.
So we can raise the question: How, then can we pursue Kingdom realities? Well here is the answer!
Our hope must be securely based on strong conviction, and the new world must be real to us. When we read promises such as those in Revelation 21:4 - let's just turn our Bible's there - do we truly have faith in that promise? Do we see it as a fantasy, something that would be really nice - or can we visualize it being a reality that we are assured of experiencing? [READ]
We must have faith in that promise. Meditate on it. Picture ourself in God's New World and enjoying its blessings. If we contemplate what is written in Hebrews 11:1, we will not see such visualizing as an unrealistic fantasy - but rather as an evidence of our faith. [READ]
Another translation reads: "Faith is the title-deed to the things we hope for. Faith is being sure of the things we cannot see". If property has been deeded to us, we are confident that we own it. Since we have faith that God always fulfills his word, it is as though we are holding a valuable deed. Our faith makes us certain that we will see the fulfillment of the Bible-based promises we hope for, and we are sure about spiritual realities, although we cannot see them.
The ways in which we can strengthen that faith are through our regularly feeding on God's Word and Christian publications. As well as devoting more time to telling others about that Kingdom, will strengthen our faith and brighten our hope in it.
The fact is that millions of sheeplike ones are responding to the Kingdom message. Do you bear witness concerning the Kingdom? Can you have a more active share?
There is no doubt that earnest effort is required to keep pursuing Kingdom Realities. We are encouraged by the zealous example of anointed Christians who for decades have 'pressed forward' to seize Kingdom privileges - just as Matthew 11:12 speaks of those ones. Let's see how it is expressed. [READ]
This verb "press" or "pressing forward" really suggests forceful endeavour. Regarding this verse, Bible scholar Heinrich Meyer states: "In this way is described that eager, irresistible striving and struggling after the approaching Messianic Kingdom" . . . So eager and energetic (no longer calm and expectant) is the interest in regard to the kingdom."
Just like the traveling merchants, these few individuals quickly recognized what was truly precious, and they willingly gave up all they had for the sake of the Kingdom. There can be no doubt that Anointed ones have spared no effort doing just that and making the Kingdom their own.
John 10:16 refers to the "other sheep" - the helpers in the spreading of the message of good news - the beneficiaries of that Kingdom rule. Would it not be logical that they too would need to put forth similar vigorous efforts in order for them to qualify as earthly subjects of God's Kingdom? Of course. So that is the case for most of us here today isn't it.
Truly we are living in a special period of opportunity. Those who pursue worldly fantasies will someday awaken to stark reality that God's Kingdom is actively ruling and this wicked system faces imminent, permanent destruction. Their lot is well described in the words of Isaiah 29:8 [READ]
For a certainty, the fantasies of the world will never make anyone satisfied or happy. In fact they will all soon disappear along with the rest of Satan's corrupt and unjust worldly system.
Jehovah's Kingdom on the other hand, is a reality. It is actively ruling and benefitting many and will have untold benefits in the future. May we all keep our hearts and minds focused on Kingdom realities and thus enjoy eternal blessings.
And can you just imagine hearing the King of that Kingdom say to you these words: Open your Bibles in conclusion, to Matthew 25:34 [READ]
14 But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. 3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not mislead the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended. After this he must be released for a little while. 10 And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
12 That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.
11 The wealth of the rich is his fortified city; It is like a protective wall in his imagination.
6 To be sure, there is great gain in godly devotion along with contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. 8 So, having food and clothing, we will be content with these things.
4 Let marriage be honorable among all, and let the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.
33 "Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.
14 And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
35 By this all will know that you are my disciples - if you have love among yourselves."
11 Jehovah will give strength to his people. Jehovah will bless his people with peace.
4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."
1 Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.
8 Yes, it will be just as when someone hungry dreams that he is eating, But he wakes up hungry, And as when someone thirsty dreams that he is drinking, But he wakes up tired and thirsty. So it will happen with the crowd of all the nations That wage war against Mount Zion.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right: 'Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. . . .