Follow in His Steps

Dear Brethren,

Where are we, the Church of God brethren, in the Plan of God right now?   We are at the time when God is calling some out of the world at the last hour (Matthew 20:6-9).  Scripture reveals that there are some who will be called to salvation shortly before Jesus returns:

Luke 14:23  The lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

God has a number, and that number of overcomers will be filled, and then Jesus will return!  “Many are called,” but they want their conversion process to be a cake-walk, not the difficult test that is the Christian’s lot, and that is why, “few are chosen.”  (Matthew 22:14)  Those should be scary words for us to contemplate.

Our Christian calling is not a downhill slide into the Kingdom of God.  Christianity is much more difficult than it appears to be to many.  Why is the life of a Christian so challenging and difficult?  There is no way that a novice in the faith can accurately evaluate the complexity of the trials and anguish he will experience during his course of conversion.  But for those of us who have been around a little while, it is good that from time to time we be reminded of what a Christian’s life entails.  Jesus said:

John 15:20  If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Acts 14:22  ...[Paul was] exhorting the disciples to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God does not come without great price.  Jesus tells us to contemplate the struggle of the Christian challenge before we even get started (Luke 14:28).  In other words the price a Christian is going to pay is far in excess of what can be imagined when one is first called.

1Peter 2:20-21  What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  Hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in His steps.

Before one makes the greatest commitment of their life by surrendering to God and being baptized, it is important to endeavor to realize the severity and critical nature of the course which is about to be embarked upon.  Each must make an extraordinary pledge to stay the course no matter what impediments, obstacles and hurdles are encounter in the quest for the Kingdom of God.

Living the Christian life is more difficult than a novice to the faith is able to conceive of.  In fact, it is so challenging that without God’s continuous guidance through His Holy Spirit, it is impossible for one to succeed (Romans 8:14).

2Timothy 3:12  All who will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Jesus said the demands of Christianity are immense when He said:

Luke 14:33  Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.

God’s way comes first and foremost, above all things.  The Christian life demands that we enter into a total commitment to battle to the end, knowing the tremendous personal sacrifices that must be made.  God’s Way is more important than family or security because it involves our eternal life.  Jesus tells us to be sure that we will be able to finish what we begin:

Luke 14:26-27  If any man comes to me, and does not love-less his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Knowing that our goal is eternal life; do we have the determination, mind-set and resilience it takes to stick it out to the end?  Have we thought it out?  Have we made the commitment in our mind and heart that we will seek God’s will and way above everything else in life – regardless of the consequences we must endure?

How many of us embraced Christianity for the long haul – through suffering, persecution and to death if necessary?  We are warned over and over that the life of every Christian is a very difficult pursuit.  The easy part of our calling comes in the next life:

Matthew 5:11-12  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

As Christians we covenanted with God to accept the changes in us that come with conversion, though we may be tried by fire, and faithfully accept the consequences with joy that come our way, knowing all the while:

1Peter 1:7  The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Today's Sermon:  "Follow in His Steps"