The Holiness of Sacrifice

It has been said that the most significant attribute of God is His holiness. Revelation 4.8 looks forward to life after death when all of God’s family will exclaim holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. Note that when singing praise we will not proclaim God’s eternalness or wisdom, but His holiness. This is the crown of His attributes. Passages throughout the Old Testament demonstrate this:

  • Exodus 15.11Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
  • Psalms 111.9He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! 
  • 1 Samuel 2.2There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

How We Learn About the Holiness of God

We can learn more about the holiness of God in Isaiah 6. When Isaiah came into the presence of God, he was shattered to the core of his being. Between us and God is an absolute gulf of holiness and unholiness. We are unholy. He is holy. Like Isaiah, we should be shaken to the core when we see ourselves in comparison to God. It is not until we know or understand our own sin that we will ever begin to grasp the holiness of God. The Bible teaches that God does not conform to a holy standard. He is the standard. He is absolutely holy. God never does anything wrong. He never makes a mistake. He never makes something happen in our life that is not the right thing. He always does right.

God’s holiness is demonstrated in His hatred of sin. See Habakkuk 1.3. God cannot tolerate sin or evil. He is totally removed from it. Sin will never abide with Him. If you’ve ever wondered why God acted so swiftly  and severely in punishing the sin of Adam and Eve, the answer lies in His holiness. Sin is not something He can overlook.

But it is not just the externals God is concerned with. When reading Amos 5.21-23 we find that God loved all the things mentioned here. He instituted the feast days and solemn assemblies. These were designed in order to give the hearts of His people an avenue by which to express the love and appreciation of a surrendered heart. However, Israel missed a key piece of understand that is applicable in all generations. When good deeds come out of impure hearts, God hates them. God does not want people doing right things with a wrong attitude.

There are several other ways God has revealed His holiness. For example, His holiness is seen in creation. God made man upright, Ecclesiastes 7.29. We have been created in His image, Genesis 1.26-27. When God made us, we were absolutely holy. How? In God there is no untruth, 1 John 1.5. When He acts or speaks, it must be according to truth. He always acts without doing error. God did not create sin and He will never make anything that will lead us to the wrong conclusion.

God’s holiness is seen in moral law. Despite mankind’s best efforts to stamp it out, His law prevails, Romans 7.12. Moral law demonstrates that God is a holy God. By giving us this law, He proved Himself to be a righteous, moral, holy being.

What This Has to do with Sacrifice

God’s holiness is demonstrated through sacrifice. There was a purpose for animal sacrifices during Old Testament times. Death is the result of sin, Romans 6.23. When someone sins, death is the penalty, Hebrews 9.22. The sacrifice served as the substitute death that each human really deserved.

When offering sacrifices, respect for God’s holiness was an absolute necessity. This is seen in Leviticus 8-10. Before engaging in spiritual duties, priests had to go through a cleansing process.

  • Leviticus 8.6 – they were washed with water.
  • 8.7-10 – describes more steps in the process.
  • 8.14-32 – describes various sin offerings to atone for sin. Sin offering; burnt offering; and ordination offering.

What does this say? A Levite count not enter the priesthood until he had been cleansed,  washed and forgiven of sin.

Priests were also clothed for service.

  • Leviticus 8.7 – Coat (undercoat). Sash. Robe. Ephod. There was also an artistic band that held the ephod.
  • 8.8 – breastplate.
  • 8.9 – turban; golden plate; holy crown.

These were special coverings. These garments that symbolized their rule, purity, virtue, and identification with God. Priests were God’s representatives. They were called to holiness and separation. Everyone knew that they belonged to God. There was a spiritual significance to all of this. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy, Psalm 132.9, 16.

Priests were prepared for service. Leviticus 8.23-26 describes what took place after all the preparation, cleansing, and clothing. The 7 day wait was a time of waiting – a time of heart preparation. It was a time symbolic of spiritual preparedness and readiness. Leviticus 9.23-24 describes what happened on the 8th day. Priests needed time to take into consideration the seriousness of the priesthood.

Priests were ordained to obedience. There is a reason why the record in Leviticus 8-9 has been left for us. Priests were called, cleansed, clothed, and underwent a time of preparation. Then, they were to go out on their ministry. This is why Leviticus 10 shouts off the pages of our Bibles as to the need to move with respect in regards to the holiness of God. Nadab and Abihu were struck down in front of the whole assembly. Notice what God immediately says afterwards: I will be treated as holy, 10.3 NASB. There is much speculation as to what strange fire was. Was it offered from the wrong altar? If it did not come from the right source, God would reject it. Was the incense prepared incorrectly? Exodus 30.34-38 spelled out a specific way to make it. Did they offer it at the wrong time? Exodus 30.7 says the sacrifice was to be made at the morning and evening.

Or, was it the way they conducted themselves? This was a day of celebration. Let’s keep on reading through the first few verses of Leviticus 10. Do these passages give us a clue as to why God killed them?

  • 10.3b – Aaron held his peace after Nadab and Abihu killed.
  • 10.5 – their bodies were carried out.
  • 10.6-7 – Aaron and sons told not to grieve and to stay inside the tent of meeting.
  • 10.9-10 – Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean,

Why the sudden reference to no drinking before going into the tent of meeting? Had Nadab & Abihu allowed themselves to become drunk? Was their conduct unholy?

What This Means for New Testament Christians

1 Peter 2.9 identifies Christians as spiritual priests. We have been called to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 2.5. As we move today, we are called to approach God with total realization of His holiness. Think about what we’ve just learned about the Old Testament priesthood in Leviticus 8-10. How does this apply to New Testament Christians?

We have been cleaned from sin. We could not be called a priesthood today had we not been cleansed from our sin, Acts 22.16; Titus 3.5; Colossians 2.12. God has purified us for Himself – a people for His own possession…zealous for good works, Titus 2.14.

We have been clothed for service. Just as priests were covered with special coverings and garments that symbolized their rule, purity, virtue, and identification with God, so have we. Christians have been clothed with the garments of salvation, Isaiah 61.10. Paul said, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Galatians 3.26-27.

We are to prepare our minds. Will we make time to take in the seriousness of our spiritual commitments? See 1 Peter 1.13. We must make regular time to prepare our hearts. With our great privileges come great responsibility. We need to make time to think deeply about the spiritual commitment we have made and prepare our heart.

We are to live in obedience. Just as priests were ordained to obedience, so are we. Christians have been called to obedience. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Why I’m Taking a Hiatus From Political Posts

Our nation has just wrapped up a tumultuous and long political season, culminating with the inauguration of a new President last Friday. For me, it’s been a positive thing, since the candidate I preferred won the election and has now officially moved into governing. I burned too much time Friday watching television coverage of the peaceful transfer of power and since then have found myself checking in on the news more than I regularly do to see all the “firsts” our new President is having. I must not be alone. People on both sides of the aisle are also watching the news and reacting on social media with all sorts of opinions. There have been plenty of catchy memes circulating; I’ve even “liked” and “reposted” a few myself. With the things others have posted that I disagree with – I’ve been inclined to weigh in sharing my thoughts on that as well.

But in the long term, what good does all this do? Does what I post really change anyone’s mind? And, how do my posts come across to those who don’t know me? Am I encouraging others by what I’m saying, or am I forming bad impressions for those who disagree? These are challenging questions. And, if you’re like me, you’ve resolved many times before that when it comes to posting on Facebook or Twitter that you’re going to do better than you have in the past. Then, before you know it, someone offers an opinion or shares a meme, and off you go. I had this happen to me just one week ago. Early on Monday morning I told myself that I was going to begin again in trying to be positive in my public posts. I wrote last week’s blog post and published it. I left the office by lunch time feeling good and feeling accomplished. It was a warm day (by Ohio standards for January) and I decided to go out and get some exercise on my bike. Ten miles in, I stopped for some water and checked my phone. There it was. Someone posted something that caught my attention. They made several sweeping generalizations that raised my blood pressure. And, I responded in frustration. I think I made it a complete 5 hours before I violated my own resolution. Later that night I scolded myself a little for not making it any longer than I did.

So here we are with a brand new work week. This week, I’m making a somewhat different resolution and I hope you’ll help me by holding me accountable. For the next few weeks, I’m going to take a hiatus from posting any comments or “liking” things that have to do with politics on social media. There are three reasons why:

First, I want to see how it improves my disposition. Taking in too much negativity will affect you. It generates cynicism. It causes you to see the worst in people, rather than the best. It can affect your health. I want to be a happy person who is pleasant to be around. We can do this when we choose to focus on our blessed relationship with Jesus, rather than entangling ourself in the cares of this world.

Second, I want to be known as a peacemaker, rather than a hardened political hack. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not warmongers, Matthew 10.13. As sons and daughters of God we have been called to work for wholeness and harmony rather than strife and discord. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all, Romans 12.18.

Lastly, I want to be a faithful steward of my time. The Psalmist said, So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90.12. We must live in light of eternity. Time is precious. There are some days that I wish I could have back because of all the time I’ve wasted trying to change someone’s opinion on something one of us has posted on Facebook. What if those energies had been placed somewhere else? One of the greatest dangers of unplanned time is that it seems to allow us to drift toward our weaknesses, rather than our strength.

How long do you think I’ll make it with my self-imposed hiatus? I know it will be difficult, but I know it will be worth the sacrifice.

Want to take the challenge with me? Let me know. If you do, I’d like to see how it changes your disposition on life.

The Great Promise of Matthew 5.8

Last Friday, my wife Becky and I enjoyed a “Netflix” night together and watched a movie from our childhood, E. T. This was, perhaps, the greatest movie of the 1980’s and held the record for gross amount of box-office revenue for over a decade.  It had been at least 25, maybe 30 years since I last watched it. While I remembered the main plot, there were many details from the movie I had forgotten. As I watched, I found myself moved with nostalgia. I remember watching the movie at the old RITZ theater in my hometown of Malvern, AR sometime in 1982 with my grandparents and mom and dad. (It’s the only time I remember Poppa and Doll going to the movies. They’re both gone now and I do miss them.)

E.T. was filmed in the fall of 1981 and it seems like a much simpler time. In the shots of Elliot’s room, I paid close attention. I had some of those same toys in my room. There was a complete absence of electronics in his room. There were no cellphones. Kids played outside and rode bikes around the neighborhood. Eliot’s older brother Mike and his teenage friends sat around a table on a Friday night playing board games. And as I watched, I kept thinking that if this movie were made in 2017, instead of 1981, the plot would not have had such a family-friendly theme. In our modern sophistication, a director would feel compelled to spice up the language with four-letter words, include a revealing love scene, bring in a gay character, pursue some item promoting the leftist social/political agenda, or have turned E. T. into a sick, twisted alien who has some kind of perverted behavior.

As I went to bed, I’m not sure if it was just the memories of my childhood or something else, but I found myself sorely missing simpler times and less provocative entertainment. (This is not to say that the 80’s were morally perfect, but we have drifted far, far away from where we were 35 years ago.) There’s a part of me that wishes we could, somehow, go back.

At the Kettering Church, we’ve recently been studying the beatitudes in Matthew 5. Jesus said, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, Matthew 5.8. I don’t know about you, but as I move forward in life, more and more I look forward to an eternity that is free from the cares of this life.  I long to be free from temptation and perversion. I long to be in a place completely free from sin.

Did you see the glorious promise at the end of verse 8? Those who are pure in heart will see God. So, how can I make sure I’m living with a pure heart? It begins with a commitment trust in God’s power to save. Titus 2.11-14 teaches that He has set us apart from sin so that we can live exclusively for Him. But there’s more. Purity in heart happens when we commit to resisting evil and serve God. I once read that holiness is both a state of existence and a commitment to action. I like that. It’s following through on the application of passages like 1 Peter 1.13-16. It’s living with a sense of profound reverence. Your sin has been paid for with Jesus’ precious blood, 1 Peter 1.18-19.

Keeping a pure heart does not happen by accident. It’s not always convenient, nor is it easy. It is a call to sacrifice and will not be pain or struggle free.

As much as we might like, we can’t get into a time machine and go back to the days of our childhood, the time when life seemed simpler. But we can, even in this day and age, live with a pure heart and total trust that one sweet day we’ll be free from every trapping this world offers.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name, Psalm 86.11

Christianity is Life

I absolutely love the directive given to the apostles by the angel in Acts 5.20. They had just been set free from the temple jail, having been arrested by the Sadducees for preaching Jesus. Upon their release, the angel doesn’t instruct them to run away, hide, or cower in fear, but to go right back in to the domain of their enemies and preach! They were told to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (Acts 5:20, ESV).

Christianity is life.

In 2 Corinthians 5.14-17 Paul speaks of our new life in Christ.

What does the new life look like?

It is a life that is motivated by the love of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5.14. The love of Christ overwhelmed Paul. He stood condemned before God because of sin. But, through His great love, Jesus served as the substitute for Paul’s death, by dying on the cross. It is the same for us. When we consider where we were and where we are now, it should move us to fully surrender to Jesus. Because Jesus has loved us so greatly, we love in return. The thought of His sacrifice should fill our hearts with gratitude. Now we no longer live for ourselves, we live for Him, Galatians 2.19-20. By sending Jesus, God intends to transform us into pure and righteous people, Titus 2.14. His goal is not just to save us from the fires of hell, it is to have us dwell with Him as blameless and holy people.

It is a life that is completely separated from our past, 2 Corinthians 5.16-17. God doesn’t care about our past – He cares about our future. What will we do in the present to take advantage of His blessings? No matter who we are, no matter how much wickedness we once committed, we are being remade. God delights in taking our life and making it a new creation. This describes a life that is new in quality, lived at a new level of excellence. All that we were is gone. If you are still holding on to your old life, values, and passions – you have not completely surrendered to God. He will free you from the chains of your past and provide you with the freedom only found in Christ. Will you surrender and allow God to recreate you in Christ, Galatians 6.15?

It is a life in the midst of a transformation process, 2 Corinthians 5.17. Paul says the new has come. The verb tense in this part of the verse indicates a “continuing condition of fact.” As we grow in Christ all of the world’s standards, motives, and values begin to lose their hold on our life. God’s perfect standard of holiness is before us and to it we look. While we will never be perfect in this life, God’s truths serve as the guide on our path to transformation. By the power of God, each one of us can become more like Jesus.

How about you? Have you elevated your perspective? Are you living the new life? What motivates you most as you journey toward heaven?

Light Shining Enthusiasm

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2.14-16

In our studies on evangelism this quarter, we’ve all seen Brother Alan’s powerpoint slide that says, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I like that, don’t you? Did you know in the Greek language this word means God in you, or Full of God? In a handout given in our afternoon Bible class today, we learned that we can take the last four letters in enthusiasm and come up with the acronym “I. A. S. M.,” which means I Am Sold Myself. When it comes to living for Jesus, if you are convinced, convicted, and have sold yourself about God and His word, it will shine brightly and bring instant credibility in your efforts to share the gospel with others.

It was Paul who said, Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain, Philippians 2.14–16 ESV.

Your godly life, demonstrated by purity, devotion, and enthusiasm for Jesus, is as a bright light in a dark world. In the original language, “lights” comes from the word “luminaries.” Like the sun, moon, and stars, you do not shine for your own sake. God has recreated you for the purpose of providing light for others to see Jesus.

Don’t ever forget the power of your example. Others are watching. Each day you have an opportunity to reveal your faith by the way you live and how you react to life’s situations. When others see your resolute trust in God, fairness in the way you treat others, and faithfulness during life’s storms, your influence will naturally shine through.

In these times of growing uncertainty, God can bless each one of us with opportunities every day to bring His brightness to someone who needs him. It may be in a kind word spoken, a good deed done, or our pleasant, optimistic demeanor. Our evangelistic work doesn’t have to be thought of in terms of a program, it is just the natural result of a changed life.

Praise God for redeeming us and using us as His vessels of mercy, demonstrating the power of His redeeming grace.

Where’s Your Priority?

Scripture Reading: MALACHI 1

If we fail to recognize God properly, our spiritual lives will falter. We can take God’s blessings for granted. In the Old Testament, 100 years after God’s people returned to their homeland, Israel faced a huge problem with apathy. Their priorities were mixed up. They took God’s providential care and continual blessings for granted. It’s just an amazing thing to consider. What happened to all the nations who had previously been around them? What happened to their forefathers? Most of their ancient national enemies were long gone, having been swept away in relentless waves of Assyrian and Babylonian aggression. What had become of their grandparents and great grandparents generations? They died in exile. Yet, here this new generation was back in the homeland, having been returned by God and preserved by His providence. During Malachi’s time, the nation as a whole failed to appreciate God’s grace and blessings. Their spiritual lives were in serious jeopardy because of their misplaced priorities.

They were not the first generation to experience this problem. And, they aren’t the last. Three hundred years before Malachi’s time, Isaiah said, “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” Isaiah 29.13. When individuals offer half hearted service, God is displeased.

In our Wednesday 1pm class today, I asked what causes apathy among modern Christians. An answer from a 98 year-old brother summed it up well: distractions. Too many are distracted with the modern amenities of this world and lose sight of their spiritual priorities. Yes, we have the best of intentions. Yes, we know we’ll get around to it, eventually.  And, before you know it…time marches on…and the spiritual is somehow left out.

We’ve just spent the three previous months taking a hard look at the present reality of life in America during 2016. Things are bad. People are hurting. Many are struggling with self inflicted wounds of sin and have no idea where to turn. They’ve looked at fulfillment in all the wrong things. Will we have the courage to share the hope that we have in Jesus? God has blessed us with so many wonderful blessings, most especially the gift of salvation. Let’s turn our focus outward and seize the opportunities God will provide. Indeed, His word will not return void, Isaiah 55.11.

Join us every Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Kettering Church of Christ as we explore ways to fulfill the mission to which God has called us.

The War Between Flesh and Spirit

Scripture Reading: Romans 7.13-25

The second half of Romans 7 is certainly no stranger to disagreement in interpretation. How can we better understand Paul’s personal struggle between the flesh and spirit?

Previously, Paul has argued that salvation does not come through the law. In fact, Christians are married to Christ so that we may bear fruit for God, 7.4. I think verse 13 holds the key to understanding the rest of the chapter. In it, Paul argues that sin, not law, brings death. The law (in this context, the Law of Moses) is good. In fact, Paul describes it as holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good, 7.12. Sin, on the other hand, is bad. It can work through what is good (law) to produce death. Everything from verse 14 to the end of the chapter should be understood as a defense of this premise.

To bolster his claim, Paul begins to describe his personal struggle. I think there are flashbacks to when he practiced the jewish religion and its demands for law-keeping. But, I also think he accurately describes the human condition, even the battle the Christian faces with temptation and sin. Note the “I” statements in 7.14-24. Paul:

  • is fleshly, 7.14.
  • is captive to sin, 7.14.
  • is lacking in his ability to carry out God’s will, 7.15.
  • delights in the law and wants to keep it, but is unable to do what he desires, 7.18.
  • realizes the power/allure of sin can be stronger than his strongest desire to do right, 7.20.

How often does sin work through your body to get you to do what you do not want to do? Like Paul, our desire and delight may be in living God’s way, but sometimes the flesh gets its way. There is truly a war going on between our spirit and our flesh. That is why he says “wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” That is why he would later say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Philippians 1.21. How would dying be gain for Paul? How would it be gain for us? Answer: the absence of temptation and sin. That has to be one of the biggest attractions about heaven.

So, what do we do in the meantime? We keep resisting the flesh. When the flesh takes over, we pick ourself back up and get going along the spiritual path. We move forward in total trust. That’s how Paul could say there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8.1.

You can learn more about Romans and practical applications from it every Tuesday at Kettering Church of Christ. Our Tuesday Bible study is at 1 pm. Join us! You’ll be glad you did.

Consider Your Ways

For seven decades, the land of God’s people stood desolate. The few physical reminders from their previous existence lay in ruins. Where once sons and daughters of God roamed, now foreigners dwelled, Ezra 3.3. When God’s people returned to Israel from Babylon in 536 BC, they must have experienced every emotion. Jubilation, exhilaration, and praise coupled with sorrow, regret, and fear. Eventually, their faith gave way to fear and they stopped rebuilding God’s temple, Ezra 4.4. Opposition by their adversaries led to sixteen years of inaction, 4.24. God patiently waited and when He could hold out no more, He sent two prophets to call his people to action.

Haggai is one of those prophets. He comes onto the scene with an abrupt and challenging message. Consider your ways, he says in Haggai 1.5. After more than a decade-and-a-half of apathy, it was time for self examination. While God’s people dwelt in comfort, God’s house sat in ruins, 1.4. There had been no demonstration of faith. There were no bold initiatives. Their vision went only as far as they could see. And, what they could see was only opposition and uncertainty. For these jews, the status quo centered around fear, not faith.

What about us? Today we face growing opposition toward Christianity. It feels as if people are becoming more resistant to our message. Most Americans seem to be satisfied with where they are religiously. We’re told people are no longer interested in doctrine. We’re told our ways are too narrow and too old for the newer generations. And so, we turn inward. We tend toward defensiveness, negativity, and cynicism. Once these attitudes have taken over, its easy to throw up our hands and say, what’s the use? So, we often allow precious time to go by, while we maintain what we have and get away from the mission God called us to, Matthew 28.19-20.

Maybe it’s time for us to consider our ways! Times of difficulty call for bold initiatives driven by faith. What will you do to get out of your comfort zone and share the gospel with someone? What will local churches do collectively to reach out into their communities with the message of grace? Will they be open to newer methods? Will they be willing to shift their paradigm in order to be effective? Times like these are not for pessimism and shrinking away from the mission. Just like God told the people in Haggai 2.4-5, we can be strong, …and…. work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.

Will we trust God enough to move forward by faith?

Nothing is New Under the Sun

Christians, along with their Biblical values derided. God denied. Jesus mocked. Immodesty and sexual innuendo at every turn. Abortion rights. Gay Marriage and the homosexual agenda. Transgender Issues. Deteriorating race relations. Mass shootings. Murder on live television. Everyday, news headlines mark another battle lost in the great culture war. As one reflects over the last decade or two, our nation’s descent into a moral abyss feels like it is picking up speed. What was viewed as risqué in the 1980’s, now looks almost innocent and tame. But, are we the first nation to experience moral depravity? Are these the worst of times? Or, could things get much worse?

Scripture has the answer. God’s people have always been subject to the ramifications of living inside a world broken by sin. During Noah’s day, the earth was filled with violence and the wickedness of man was great, with every intention of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually, Genesis 6.5, 11. Do you remember what is said about the time of the judges when everyone did what was right in his own eyes, Judges 21.25? As the northern kingdom slid into oblivion, it was filled with those who do not know how to do right and store up violence and robbery in their strongholds, Amos 3.10. During its waning years, the nation of Judah stumbled under the leadership of godless men. Jeremiah records Zedekiah’s burning the scroll that contained God’s warning and a final promise of mercy if they repented, Jeremiah 36. Think of the Greco-Roman world during the time of the first Christians. Christian virtues were mocked, regarded as foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1.18-31. They were subjected to heavy persecution and death, Revelation 2.8-10, 12-13; 3.7-13; 6.9-11.

In every age, Christians have experienced difficulty in the world. We need to remember this: No matter what, God’s sons and daughters move forward with hope. This hope is not that the America of the 1950’s will somehow return, rather it is a mindset full of confidence and determination to keep one’s spiritual garments unstained and get home to be with God, forever. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself,” Philippians 3:20–21.