Beginning of Sorrows

Dear Brethren,

Where are we today?  What is the state of the Church of God?  Where are we in the scheme of things?  Some people are happy that things are going smoothly.  Please do not be deceived.  These are not the days to sit back and relax.  Are we living in Philadelphian times, or, are we living in the last days of Laodicea?  More importantly, what is our status, and what should we be doing as Christians?  When asked by His disciples:  What would be the sign of the end?  Jesus responded by telling them to be alert for religious deception, and to take a look at what would be going on in the world.  Jesus’ disciples asked Him, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  (Matthew 24:3)

Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, earthquakes, and natural disasters in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”  (Matthew 24:4-8)

This is exactly where we are today – at the beginning of sorrows.  There are very rough days ahead, not only for our nation, but especially for the people of the Church of God.  The tribulation that is coming on all the world is a God-send for the Church of God in that it is the final wake-up call to those who’s zeal is simmering.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”  (Matthew 24:29-30)

The Church of God has gone into a lull – the lull before the storm.  The Church is not as dynamic as it was in the last century.  Many thought that Jesus Christ would have returned by now.  Many are thinking, Why hasn’t Jesus returned – our Lord delays His coming.”  Jesus tells us not to think that way.  Jesus said that as we near the very end-time, religious persecution, family betrayal, spiritual deception, tribulation and falling away from the love of God would be the norm, rather than the exception.  When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”  (Matthew 24:33)

Jesus is not delaying His return.  We, the people of God, need this time to develop spiritually.  God is showing us how to have Godly relationships with each other in the called out family of God.  At the same time, we realize that this calling is a tremendous blessing that we are privileged to be a part of.  Since it is God’s intent to call all people in their time order, we must be especially careful to let our light shine” before those not yet called.  We are not better” than they are; they have not yet had their minds opened to the perfect plan of God.

We are witnessing America's last days.  If this great nation does not return to the creator God soon, every good standard defining the attributes of America will collapse.  Without God, no nation can stand.  All who believe in good morals will agree that America is in a horrendous moral degeneration.  As a result of this disintegration, we will face incredible challenges in the immediate future undreamt of.  Will the complete breakdown come in a sudden immense crash or an excruciatingly slow but sure demise?  What will be the impact on the members of the Church of God as society around them unravels?

The brethren in God’s Church are not that much different from cultures we find ourselves embedded in.  As a result, as the world slides into oblivion, we find ourselves in a similar decline.  We must be exercising God’s Holy Spirit, so that with the help of God, we are overcoming the world.  We will not receive the approval of the world, which only loves its own.  Nevertheless, we are commanded to let our light shine.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world, and He also calls us, children of light.  There are three ways we can react to those words.  Do we get the big-head?  Or, do we cringe because we do not want to be in the limelight?  Do we have a hidden faith, fearful that those in the world will be disapproving of what we stand for?  Could it be that we speak too softly, seeking to avoid hostility?  Are we ashamed for people to find out how different we are?  Or, do we correctly understand what our duty and responsibility is?  All of us have often experienced how difficult it is to properly take a stand for Godly principles.  Do we boldly proclaim and stand for the truth?  Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."  (Mark 8:38)

We have heard these words so many times before, but let's try to shed some light on what it means to, "Let our light shine,"  in this end-time environment.  God's instructions are these:  "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:14-16)

The correct thing for us to do is to live by the principles Jesus Christ taught us.  We are supposed to exhibit the attributes of true Christianity – all the more as that day of Christ’s return approaches.  Jesus is the light of the world.  As Christians, we, too, become that light.  The clear instruction to us is this - we have an obligation to cause our light to shine to a world desperately in need of what we have been given.  God, in us, is the light that is supposed to be seen by others.  It is God's Spirit that shines through us to others.  When Jesus says to us, "Let" your light shine, it means we are to allow, permit, or cause our Christian example to be seen by others.  Please notice that the light does not shine on us to brighten us, but it shines in order to glorify our Father, which is in heaven.

As we approach the tribulation, we are being given more and more opportunities to live our Christianity.  Even at this moment, God blesses those who choose to practice and follow His way of life.  There are spiritual principles involved.  Spiritual principles work equally with individuals or nations.  History is replete with instances of national blessings for those countries that look to God for guidance - the USA is a prime example.  "All these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God."  (Deuteronomy 28:2)

On the other hand, catastrophe, disease, natural disaster and destruction follow those who set out to beat God's system by breaking God's rules.  We have all seen lives ruined by any number of causes.  When people end up with broken lives, every time, the reasons can be traced back to violations of Godly principles.  God's perfect set of spiritual rules brings about all things good.  Defiance of God's spiritual law brings a breakdown of moral order.  The Bible refers to these results as, blessings and cursings.”

God lead America and Great Britain into becoming the greatest and most powerful nations that have ever existed.  But now, America and Great Britain are experiencing the beginning curses that follow the rejection of God and His law.  "All these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee."  (Deuteronomy 28:45)

Now that we, as a nation, are choosing to set aside the perfect spiritual law, which is the foundation of society itself, we can absolutely expect to encounter diminished accomplishment as a people and a nation.  Too many of our leaders and teachers have rejected God’s way and truth that provide good things.  What can we, as a people and a nation, expect as a result of our rejection of God and His Ten Commandments?  We can anticipate God beginning to remove the national blessings and the protection He has, thus far, afforded us because we, as a nation, have rejected His perfect way.

As society deteriorates, the people of God will be facing the greatest challenge of our lives.  These are the last days.  We will be called on, more than ever, to come to the aid of our brethren - not only physical aid, but also spiritual support.  It will take our utmost in spiritual discernment because so many will be going along with the world.  And yet, we of God's Church have a responsibility to set the highest example in our behavior and conduct.  God has given His people a reprieve to have the time to "go on to perfection." (Hebrews 6:1)  Unless we, the brethren, learn to lay our lives down for our fellowman, we will not have a part in the Kingdom of God.  In the past, too many in God’s Church have believed that our faith consists mostly of the ceremonial observance of rituals, rather than being the living sacrifices that we must be.  Let's not get caught up in the Godless social and moral disorder that is coming upon the descendents of Joseph.

The citizens of this once moral land must come to understand what happens when God is rejected and abandoned.  Our people will learn what happens when God’s spiritual rules, which are for our good, are not followed.  Unless the people of our country return to God in business, in education, and in government, our social order will deteriorate to the point of total breakdown.  National defense will become insignificant, resulting finally in defeat.  Our enemies will walk in and pluck-up our land and the surviving one-third of the population like a ripe peach.

Let’s understand that the time of Jacob’s trouble is near.  Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.”  (Deuteronomy 28:48)  Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”  (Jeremiah 30:7)

Jesus made a special promise to a number of those end-time brethren who possess the understanding and practice of brotherly love.  He promised to keep them from the hour of tribulation that would come upon the entire world.  We must maintain that unique zealous spirit of the Philadelphian era so as to avoid the tribulation of the final era of the Church.  Those caught in the tribulation will be aware that only a select few were actually practicing the true Philadelphian spirit of brotherly love.  There will be a people who will be kept from the ravages of the tribulation that is about to sweep over the earth.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience [endurance and perseverance], I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [the tribulation], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  (Revelation 3:10)  Then, in Revelation 12, the woman” refers to these brethren who were zealously living their Christian faith in these difficult last days.  They will be Divinely preserved and protected from the "sorrows" that come upon all the world, for the purpose of being a shining light to those who were less diligent about their faith, and as a result found themselves caught up in the great tribulation.

The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”  (Revelation 12:6)


Sermon: "Beginning of Sorrows"
Sermon: "Churches of Revelation - Part 1"
Sermon: "Churches of Revelation - Part 2"