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Eat, Drink and Rejoice During the Feast...but Always Be a Good Example

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Eat, Drink and Rejoice During the Feast...but Always Be a Good Example

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Karen’s Story Karen (not her real name) was an attractive young lady in her mid 20s who began attending God’s Church several years ago. Even though she had attended only a couple of months, she was excited to attend her first Feast of Tabernacles and went to a popular site along with some members from her church area. She had high hopes of meeting other young adults and learning more about God’s way of life. After the Feast I was troubled to learn that she had returned home after only a few days at the Feast site. When we contacted her, the disappointment in her voice was obvious. She related how she had attended a young adults’ get-together and was shocked by the amount of alcohol consumed and the obvious overdrinking. After two or three evenings of the same experience, she decided that this church was not for her. She has not attended services since. I wish the account of Karen were made up. I also wish it were only a one-time occurrence and would never happen again. Unfortunately, we hear too often of get-togethers where abuse of alcohol has occurred, especially among young adults and singles. As a pastor and shepherd of God’s people, it is deeply troubling to know of “little ones” who are offended (Matthew 18:6 Matthew 18:6But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
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) by the poor example or weak character of Church members—who should know better. Our Example Is of Extreme Importance Wine and other alcoholic beverages can be a blessing if used in moderation (Judges 9:13 Judges 9:13And the vine said to them, Should I leave my wine, which cheers God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
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). We all know that the first recorded miracle of Jesus Christ was to turn water into wine at a wedding celebration (John 2:1-11 John 2:1-11 [1] And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: [2] And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. [3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. [4] Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? my hour is not yet come. [5] His mother said to the servants, Whatever he said to you, do it. [6] And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. [7] Jesus said to them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. [8] And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast. And they bore it. [9] When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not from where it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, [10] And said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now. [11] This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
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). We are given permission to consume “wine or similar drink” while keeping God’s Feast of Tabernacles, but this is to be done in a godly way, knowing that we are in God’s presence and we are keeping the Feast so we can “learn to fear the LORD your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23 Deuteronomy 14:23And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
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, 26). While keeping the Feast, God’s people are on display as during no other time of the year. People in the communities where we meet take notice of what we do and what kind of people we are. Overall the reports that come back are very positive. Property managers at motels, restaurants and meeting facilities often rave about the excellent conduct of our youth and the cooperation among our attendees. Observing Church members keeping the Feast may be the first contact some people have with the truth, so the example we set is of extreme importance. While drunkenness is common in society today and is increasingly accepted on college campuses and among young adults, it is a sin that can keep you out of God’s Kingdom. Jesus warns us, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with…drunkenness…and that day will close on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34 Luke 21:34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares.
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, NIV). The references in Paul’s writings that explicitly condemn abuse of alcohol are numerous. Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
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is one place that includes drunkenness (along with murder, witchcraft and adultery) as a sin that will keep you out of God’s Kingdom. We need to understand that this is a very serious sin, not something that we can play around with and see just how close we can come to the line without crossing it. Self-Control and Brotherly Kindness Drinking alcohol is an issue of self-control, something Christians are to be aware of and growing in. Peter admonished his followers, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness…knowledge; and…self-control” (2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
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, NIV). He also adds the qualities of “brotherly kindness” and “love” (verse 7). Knowing when to stop drinking, and perhaps even telling a friend that he or she has had enough, can be showing brotherly kindness and love. Years ago I heard a minister advise his congregation that setting a limit of at most two alcoholic drinks in an evening is a good benchmark. Over the years I have observed that this was excellent advice. (Of course, some people susceptible to alcoholism or abuse make the wise choice not to drink at all.) The telltale symptoms of alcohol overuse, detailed for us in Proverbs 23:29-35 Proverbs 23:29-35 [29] Who has woe? who has sorrow? who has contentions? who has babbling? who has wounds without cause? who has redness of eyes? [30] They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. [31] Look not you on the wine when it is red, when it gives his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. [32] At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. [33] Your eyes shall behold strange women, and your heart shall utter perverse things. [34] Yes, you shall be as he that lies down in the middle of the sea, or as he that lies on the top of a mast. [35] They have stricken me, shall you say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
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, usually begin with the third drink. These behaviors cross the line of what God expects for us. Proverbs warns us not to be deceived by thinking we can keep drinking and not be affected. “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1 Proverbs 20:1Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
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, NIV). Let Your Light Shine Each of us should take some time to consider our example as we keep God’s Holy Days. We will be hearing God’s Word brought to us in inspiring messages. We will enjoy beautiful accommodations, nice meeting rooms, Christian fellowship and sumptuous meals together. People outside of our group will be observing our actions, as will new ones in the faith who are attending for the first time. How you conduct yourself will have an impact on the lives of others. Your responsibility is to make sure that your impact reflects well on God and His Church. Why not memorize these words and keep them in mind as you keep the Feast of Tabernacles this year: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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, NIV). UN

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