Dear Brethren,

Extremely trying days lie just ahead for those of us in the Church of God.  Too many of our Church brethren do not realize that world happenings are quickly paving the way for widespread persecution—especially for the saints.  When God describes this time shortly before Christ’s return, He says that His people are “asleep.”  Christianity, in spite of what some believe, is no bed of roses.  There is no way that a novice in the faith can reasonably envision all the trials and tribulations he will experience during his course of conversion.  We do not know everything that the future holds – only God knows.  What is clear is that Jesus warned that the last Church era before His return would let down and be in severe need of repentance.

It is high time for us to wake up!  World events tell us that all the things that we hold near and dear are on fire.  Everything that we hold sacred will soon be overthrown – everything, that is, except our faith, which must continue until the very end.  Things are getting tough for God’s people but we cannot allow ourselves to become discouraged.

The entire world of Islam is being stirred to action.  The faith and demographics of nations are rapidly changing.  Muslims are pushing their ungodly way onto unwary and gullible nations.  The perverted world of those who profess their deviant sexual behaviors are making tremendous political headway into the established norm.  New laws are springing up everywhere which violate and desecrate Christian principles and moral ethics.

Brethren, when you see vast ungodly national movements gaining in intensity – know that the time is short and persecutions will be on the increase.  Expect it!  Do you think that somehow you have cautiously walked a tightrope of avoiding conflict, confrontation and persecution?  If so, perhaps it is due to the fact that you have not cast a large enough profile of representing God’s way of life.

2Timothy 3:12-13  Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

When a person is actually living His faith as a priority – standing for and practicing Christian principles in all that he does – he will be persecuted.  As Christians, we realize that our temporary lives are not our own—we have been purchased by Christ.  Jesus goes on to explain that those people who are His will make a conscious decision to make God’s way of life their total priority.  That fact alone sets us on a collision course with this world.

Luke 14:33  So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.

God requires our full and complete loyalty and commitment to Him because that is the only way we are able to become like Him.  He is building His Church—an eternal spiritual entity—of God-like people like us.  If we have the eyes to see, there is a picture there of our future.

But to be a part of what God has in store for us we must now become like God is.  We must love His law and His people as He does—without competition or strife.  Do we really want God’s way of life with every fiber of our being, or do we resent having to do things the “hard way?”

We are warned in the Scriptures that it is possible to fall away from the truth of God and His good graces, and lose out on salvation.  That thought is dreadful to consider.  Over and over in the Bible the brethren are admonished to live lives of overcoming, and to remain faithful to the very end.  We are to live exemplary lives as witnesses to those in the world.  Some would ask the question, “What’s in it for us?”  To those Christians who have left their former lives behind for the gospel’s sake, Jesus painted a picture of a good and promising life—but not without rigorous difficulties.

Mark 10:29-30  Jesus answered and said, Truly I say unto you, There is no man who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

What a beautiful picture of godly fellowship and relationships – a hundredfold of what we enjoyed before being called by God!  We are told that we are to come out of the world and be separate—a different attitude and a different way of life.  How many brethren have regrets for choosing God’s way?  Has your faith grown to the point to where you can honestly say, “There’s no way I would ever return to my former lifestyle – even if I could?”  Jesus lived a perfect life, and yet He was ruthlessly accused of wrongdoing and hurtfully persecuted.  We are to be holy as only God is holy – set apart as only God’s perfect way can place us in Jesus shoes – walking in His steps.

We live in an evil and corrupt world.  There is nothing that this world has to offer of a lasting nature except the occasion to stand against the things that are wrong, and support righteousness at every turn.

Sermon:  "Hundredfold"