Sunday, August 7, 2022

Does the World Know You Are a Christian? Sermon

Leonard V Johnson

Greetings Everyone! It’s a pure pleasure to be here with you this holy Sabbath for the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries. Welcome, our dear friends in Abuja, Nigeria; in the States – Altoona, Iowa; Ruskin Florida – which is only an hour and a half away; and Charleston, West Virginia. Welcome. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries, I’m Leonard V. Johnson here in Spring Hill, Florida.
    Getting directly into the Message for this Sabbath – Does this world know that YOU are a true Christian!?
     When you walk out your front door of your home, what do your neighbors see of you!? What about your relatives!?
     I know that Minister Guy LaMar mentioned this very subject in an introduction to one of his latest messages, “Our Outcome.” “I’ve also come to realize that many people from my past who knew me before my conversion are now the same people that truly DO NOT know me.” And I think this is true of all true Christians.

What God Sees

     Well, brethren and friends, it’s time to take a look at ourselves from others' point of view – as well as from the LORD our God’s – to see if you see, when you look at yourself, a true Christian. And I ask myself this same question.
     When your neighbors see you, do they know that they are looking at a true Christian – a disciple and an ambassador of the living Jesus Christ!?
     Now, how can someone who doesn’t know the Way of the LORD our God – who hasn’t been called of Father God – come to see and realize that YOU are a true servant of the Eternal God!?
     Do they recognize you as a true servant of the Eternal because you obey God and keep all His commandments!? Is it because you tithe!? What about because you keep and remember the holy Sabbath and the LORD our God’s Holy Days!?
     You know, and I’ve told this story before: {1} While I was at my mother-in-law's home back in 2017, her next-door neighbor had come over (a Roman Catholic – though I didn’t know it when I first met him). And the subject of my not eating pig meat came up. I call it pig meat, some people call it pork, swine. I call it pig meat. And he asked me why I don’t eat pig meat. And I answered because God’s food laws tell us that is forbidden. And he instantly glared at me as if to strike me on the cheek and said in a not-so-loving way, “Oh, that’s a Jewish thing!” And I reminded him of Galatians 3:26-29 along with chapter 2, verses 25 to 26; as well as chapter 7, verse 14. {2} And I pointed out Deuteronomy chapter 14. Something I'm sure he was aware of, something surely he knew. And then, with a wave of his hand – as if to say, “Be gone, you heretic!” He said, “Oh, well, I worship God in my own way!” And that’s when he announced quite proudly, “I am a Roman Catholic!”
     So, again, do they recognize you as a true servant of the Eternal because you obey God and keep all His commandments!? Does your practice and your customs – like when I was young, I took off time from school for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day – with the school not understanding why! – does your practice, which is so different from nearly everyone else, or your refusal to eat unclean meats, convince them!?
     Well, a great many of us brethren, have carelessly taken for granted that THESE ARE THE THINGS which will show the world that we are true Christians! Of course the LORD our God recognizes us by our obedience to Him, but does your unconverted neighbors!?
     This world DOES NOT recognize us because it did not recognize Him of who we serve. This world does not recognize the fact that we keep and remember the holy Sabbath! In fact, I have to constantly remind my unconverted wife not to schedule any work around the house on God’s holy Sabbath! The keeping and the remembering of the LORD’s Sabbath is a sign between Him and His people. And by this very sign, He recognizes us. Yet, this world DOES NOT recognize us by this sign as true servants of God. Instead, this same sign actually shows this world that we are nothing more than a religious fanatic!
     In this message today, I’d like to go over with you just how you can show others whether we are truly servants and ambassadors to Jesus Christ! We need the facts, and the ONLY PLACE to obtain these facts is from God’s living word!

Do You Show the Fruits of the Spirit?

     Notice these words from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ –
     Turn with me, if you will, in your Bible to the Book of John, chapter 13. To the Book of John, chapter 13.
     Now, before I forget. Before I forget, there was something else I want to mention. Very briefly.
     Our dear Brother in Christ, Brother Trevor Koonce - well, God be blessed, beyond anything else in this universe - and truly it is a blessing to us, dear brethren, that God in His infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, has inspired - truly inspired - Brother Trevor to begin teaching Bible Studies. He calls this program which he began "Bible Study - Bible Talk." And, if you haven't watched yet his first episode - his first taping of this - I highly encourage you to go and watch that. Now, it's just an introduction, but he says that there are more coming! And he list - listed a couple of things that he'd like to begin to talk about, and I wrote some of them down for us. The Trinity, Going to Heaven, False Witnesses, God's Rule On This Earth, The False Holy Days, and the Fake Gospel. Also entitled the Nicolaitans. So, be on the lookout, my friends, for these coming sermons and sermonettes from Brother Trevor Koonce. And on this video - this sermon - I'll be sure to leave a link for you to go to his channel and Subscribe and like these wonderful sermons that he's going to be producing very soon. And, truly it will be a blessing to you. Because, my friend, he has much to say, much to teach. He's a great teacher, a great person - I met him personally. And I met him and his family. What a beautiful family he has. And I know that I am blessed. And I know that you will be too, listening to these coming episodes. But, let's go here, my friends, to the Book of John, chapter 13, and let's go to verse 35 - I think this is the one that I want.
     Well, let's go here so that we get a broad view - a view of what it is that's going on here - let's go on up here to verse 31 -
     "So when he had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32) If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33) Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I AM going, you cannot come.'"
     And, He said that to us also, my friend. Every human being - He has said that to us. "Where I AM going, you cannot come." Because no one, my friends, has gone to Heaven. {3} But, that's not what this Message today is about. But, it's right there, my friends, in black and white - and red if you have a red letter edition Bible.
     "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35) By this ..." and this is the part right here - by this love ... the love for your brethren, the love for your neighbor, the love for all people in all nations! "'By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.'"
     Now the question certainly can be asked - does the group you’re with truly have love for the brethren!? Or, does the group treat you like what happened to me on several occasions – you’re shown the door!? Do others recognize the love within you with somewhat amazement!? Is it difficult for them to comprehend why you have the love you do and the consideration of other brethren in God’s Church!?
     My wife asked me the other day – why do you share others’ posts on Facebook, if they’re not sharing your posts!? Why do you voluntarily mow our neighbor's lawn with no compensation!?
     First and foremost let us understand that this love is NOT, in any way, the love which is in this world! It is not getting, receiving, or taking. IT IS GIVING! Giving of self in service to others without expecting anything in return. It is helping, exhorting, and encouraging others – even if they don’t do the same. It is true CONCERN for others.
     Do you have this kind of true love for the brethren!? And if so, is it being expressed by acts of kindness and consideration to help others in achieving their goal? When it comes to the living work of God, their goal in the service of God is your goal. Or, are you so concerned (as an example) that you have as many subscribers as possible to your YouTube channel that you would never consider promoting another brother or sister’s channel!? – or sermon!? Because if you are – that is not true love for your brethren. After all – we are all of ONE BODY!!
     The people of this world do not generally have a deep love and respect – not even for those they go to Sunday church with every week. Yet, God’s true servants are different! And there ARE others in the world – scattered abroad – like us.
     Are you different (in a good way)!? Do others recognize you as being different!? Do you truly have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!? – especially towards our brethren!?

God's People Are Different

     About four years ago I first heard a sermon by Minister Michael C. Garrett and first heard of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ. For several years I had been asking Father God and our Lord Jesus, “Where are Your people!?” And, I had contacted several groups which are calling themselves the Church of God – and I won’t mention those groups here. But every single group that I had contacted I quickly discovered they were not filled with God’s Spirit, nor are they bearing the fruits of the Spirit. Except one: the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ and subsequently, The Independent Christian Church of God.
     Now, when I saw, for the first time, the founder and minister of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ, I knew that I was witnessing and seeing a true servant of the LORD our God! Something I had not seen in a very long time up to that point. And when I had a chance to meet him in person, I saw firsthand the fact that He was overflowing with the fruits of God’s Spirit! He was and is a true ambassador for Christ. Sincere, dependable, devout, considerate, and kind toward the brethren. This man loves the brethren! Yet, those of this world who come in close personal contact with him know that he is different than others!
     And even sees something wonderfully different about him. Yet, this world from afar DOES NOT know that this man is a true Christian – since there are millions upon millions in this world calling themselves Christian. This true man of God stands out among the rest who call themselves Christian. And, truly, so does Minister Guy LaMar and Brother Trevor Koonce!
     Now, I mention this for a point. I actually have a point. All of God’s true servants should be like these wonderful servants of our soon-coming King of kings and Lord of lords! In reality, this world and its people are used to calloused, greedy, disrespectful, seedy, and hypocritical ministers. But, true servants of God STAND OUT like a beautiful oasis in a desert in this world – if you are PAYING ATTENTION!
     These great men of God are part of “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim praises to Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” – 1st Peter 2:9.
     Are you such a person!? You should be! And, you can be!
     Even though your family, your friends, and your neighbors, may entirely disagree with your religion, they SHOULD recognize that there is something different about you – different in a good way. And this difference is caused by God’s Holy Spirit within you!

Show Your Light Unto Others

     A few years ago now – after my conversion – I literally had to throw someone out of my house! I was told by my unconverted wife afterward, “So, you think you’re righteous!?”
     In Revelation chapter 22, verse 15, God’s living word tells us that outside of God’s holy Kingdom will be “dogs.” A great many have this concept that our Lord Jesus Christ was just a pushover, ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ kind of guy. And some people have the idea that a true Christian is always to be ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ – to walk around similar to a pious monk. That they should never object, that they should never point something out that is wrong or sinful – or even throw somebody out of their house. Well, if we are to follow our Lord Jesus Christ’s example – we’re not always going to be necessarily nicey-nicey.
     The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Apparently, many assume that if we are just nicey-nicey all the time then this world will know us as true Christians – when they will not.
     They claim that you are not setting the proper example of a Christian because – God forbid – you have been cranky at times, you haven’t controlled your temper at times, you haven’t been patient at times, You’ve been over-demanding at times. Under these circumstances, others would certainly think you are not a true Christian.
     Recall that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says that if we are a good tree we would bring forth good fruit, and if we are a bad tree we would bring forth bad fruit. He says that we will recognize our true brethren by their fruits. ’ You will know them by their fruits.’ That is such a powerful statement! If you just allow that statement to work in your favor. If you simply want to know – you meet somebody (you’ve never met them before) and you want to know, is this a person I can trust!? Is this a person I can believe!? Is this a person I want to associate with more!? And if you ask the question: ‘You shall know them by their fruits.’ Look at the fruits of their life.
     Another one that Jesus says, He said it in Matthew chapter 12, also Luke 6 – and boy this one, this one to me is maybe the best one I’ve ever learned! Just the Words of Jesus Christ – pure, shear, wisdom! ‘Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth does speak!’ If you wanna know what somebody is thinking, just listen. Just be quiet, open your ears, and listen to what they have to talk about. What are their jokes!? What are their stories!? What are their thoughts, their plans, their wishes!? They will tell you exactly who they are and what they are! It will give you the ability to evaluate this human being. And this can be applied in any setting where there are human beings. “’ For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’” So, if we have the love of Christ in us, we will produce the same fruits He has.
     Our true brethren will recognize us by our fruits. And in the same sense, even the unconverted will recognize us by our fruits. Now, they may not properly evaluate us as to why we have the fruits we have, or how we received them since they have not been called by Father God - yet. And do not understand the Way of God, yet they should recognize a rare quality when they see it.
     And I mentioned the fruits of the Spirit of God earlier – Galatians chapter 5
     “But the fruit of the Spirit is love [and He’s speaking of true love, in Greek its Agape love – which means Godly love] joy, peace, longsuffering [which means patience], kindness …
     And God is not talking about these people that show “kindness” to a little bird that is frozen to a wire in the wintertime, and they film themselves saving it from certain death, and then post that film on Facebook so that everyone will hail them as a savior! You see so much of this on Facebook! No, you certainly save that poor helpless creature of the LORD our God’s – but you save it in private, and what does our Lord God say!? He tells us, ’ When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be a secret [because that’s being humble, my friend]; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.’
     “ … goodness, faithfulness, …”
     And friends, not just faithfulness to the LORD our God, but also faithfulness to our spouses.
     “ … gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
     So, a true servant of our Lord Jesus will have produced these fruits of God’s Spirit.

We Need To Stir Up God's Gift!

     Let us examine these fruits and understand them a little more clearly. These are the very things we are to have in our lives so that others might see them.
     If you would turn to the Book of 1st Corinthians chapter 13
     This is a well-known chapter. And, I believe that we’re talking about the basic fundamentals here. Now, a great many people are compelled to give very esoteric sermons – and I’ve noticed that a certain leader of a certain group likes to give esoteric sermons – in which surely 95 percent of the congregation doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, except to make himself look intelligent.
     If you just want to get down to the basics – what does God expect of you!?
     Notice Deuteronomy chapter 6 – and we don’t have to turn there, I’ll just quote it here – Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5 – {4}
     “’ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5) You shall love the LORD your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’”
     And what does our Lord Jesus say!? Also “ …’ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
     So, if you want to know who is the difference maker – who makes it into the kingdom and who doesn’t – these are the things that will make the difference!
     Now, here in front of me, I have a small King James Bible of 1611, we see the word “charity” which is the Greek word agapē, meaning “the active love of God.” So, not just human love, but love on a much higher plane.
     Let’s begin in verse 1 of 1st Corinthians chapter 13 –
     "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains [if need be], but have not love, I am nothing. 3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."
     Verse 4 - "Love suffers long ..."
     It truly means patience on a higher plane. So, it’s more than just momentary patience, but it could be patience that goes on for years and years – even decades. So, as an example ‘suffers long,’ some of those names on my list – over a decade – and I am still patiently waiting, patiently hoping, patiently knowing that someday, God willing, this will happen.
     “ … and is kind; …”
     This certainly is a quality that appears to be going extinct in this world. Kindness. Like the group which attacked Kyle Rittenhouse. These four vile human beings – there was no kindness in them. There was no concern in them for anybody but themselves – and everyone else can just die as far as they were concerned. This is the fruit they showed.
     " ... love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, ..."
     Jealousy. A lot of people do stupid things just out of jealousy. Surely you have heard of the old saying “Keep up with the Joneses”!? And people will get themselves into tremendous financial problems just because of jealousy – wanting to outdo the other person.
     " ... is not provoked [easily provoked], thinks no evil; 6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; ..."
     And what is truth!? Truth is the truth of God. {5}
     So, if you find yourself only talking about yourself – maybe you’re talking about yourself too much!? The Greek philosopher Epictetus, who spent his youth as a slave in Rome before gaining freedom after the death of Nero, once stated, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” And that is really good advice. Sometimes we just need to listen, to hear, comfort someone, or to even rejoice in their happiness.
     Verse 7 - "bears all things, believes all things, ..."
     And not in lies and conspiracy theories and junk, but in truth.
     " ... hopes all things, endures all things. 8) Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues [languages], they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away."
     Love is outgoing, is giving rather than receiving. God’s love is shown to us in making known His ultimate Plan for the redemption of all mankind and how we may obtain eternal life – salvation. He also showed us His love by giving His only begotten Son to the world as a living sacrifice for our sins.
     And the Way to this eternal life is to accept the love and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in turn, to show our love and faith to God by obeying His Commands! And His Commands are summed up in the Ten Commandments!
     Now, I’d like to pause here a moment and remind you that Minister Michael Garrett gave a 20-part series of sermons entitled “The Eternal Relevancy of the Ten Commandments”. You can find these enlightening and informative sermons on the Trevor Koonce YouTube channel.
     The first FOUR of His commands tell us how to love God, and the last SIX tell us how to love others.
     So, before we have the kind of love our LORD Jesus does, as mentioned here in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, we must begin to keep His holy Commandments. Although, the keeping of His Commandments DOES not convince others that we truly belong to Jesus Christ – and are His true servants.
     I have learned that the love of human beings can be extremely fickle. Short-lived. So, the question could be asked – did they ever have godly love!? Using God’s definition – no. They certainly tried to fake it. At least some of the ones that I've come across in different religious organizations. But they truly didn’t have godly love. Because they proved that their love was of a temporary nature. Had their love and caring been real they still would be supporting you and pulling for you.
     The second fruit that is mentioned is that of joy.
     So often we, dear brethren, become burdened with ‘the cares of this world’ and forget the great hope that lies in front of us! Let us NEVER forget this!
     God has told us, brethren, that we should “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, …” – somewhere in there that hope, that optimism, that all of this is true, should somewhere glow in us – how many of you saw the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? I recall seeing it for the first time when I was thirteen years old at the Lakeland, Florida drive-in. Like a boy and his dog movie – but the dog came from outer space. But remember at the end, the alien had its heart light!? He also had a light on the end of his finger. That ought to be within us! Inside of us, it should glow with light that we know the truth of God, and because of NOTHING we ever did God has had mercy upon us! And Jesus Christ has made a pathway that we can live all eternity – living dirt that now becomes God! It’s an indescribable story! I just spoke of this very thing in a short Personal Message I sent out to our brethren and friends via email.
     Have you ever noticed how much our true brethren are happy and joyful – our brethren who are spiritually growing in God’s grace and knowledge, and in His Spirit!? Because, we have trials and tribulations, too. Yet, we are abundantly happy and full of joy which is overflowing!
     Again, do your neighbors and your relatives find you in happiness and exceedingly great joy!? Or are you all the time sad, discouraged, or unhappy!? You should have more real deep-down joy in your own personal life than any of the unconverted people who are around you!
     Next comes peace.
     Certainly, peace with God, but also peace with yourself, and with others. Truly, as the Apostle Paul mentions in the Book of Romans chapter 7, a carnal man is hostile against God – in hostility, there is no peace. God says in the Book of Isaiah, “’ There is no peace, for the wicked.’” Our people who are of this world cannot have peace with God or themselves! Truly, even though others may dislike you, or even hate you, you have no animosity or hatred toward them. In fact, you go to God for them.
     Next is patience.
     Patience is certainly something lacking in the societies of today – in this 21st century! True patience is difficult to find in this world. We live in a fast-paced society today! Fast this, and fast that! The more of God’s Holy Spirit we have, the more patience we have towards others.
     Kindness. The Apostle Paul, in the Book of Colossians chapter 3, verse 12
     Let’s turn there if you would in your Bible – and I hope and pray that you have your Bible in front of you this Sabbath, going over these Scriptures. Maybe have a notebook, a pad, a pencil, or pen to take some notes.
     Chapter 3 of the Book of Colossians.
     "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility [being humble], meekness, longsuffering."
     This is something all of us should strive for. And if we do, we’ll be a part of the Kingdom of God, and if we can’t get this down we might not make it!
     Verse 13 - "bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [SHOULD] do."
     NO! It DOES NOT say "should"! It says MUST! WE MUST DO THIS!
     Verse 14 - "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in ONE BODY; ..."
     ONE BODY!
     Now, Minister Guy LaMar, not long ago posted on his Facebook page a photo - a picture - of a tree with different branches on it. And he listed many of the branches of the Church of God. But yet my friends, WE ARE ONE BODY! Many branches of One Body. The Body of Christ.
     " ... and be thankful."
     "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
     So, in other words, if you don't know how to sing, or can't sing very well, you can always sing in your heart. Because that's what I do - I can't sing. Sing in your heart to the Lord our God.
     Now, I want you to notice verse 23 over here.
     "And whatever you do [whatever you put these two hands to doing], do it heartily [in other words, do it with all your might], as to the Lord and not to men."
     Now, in an article that I was typing up for Minister Guy, a commentary, the Apostle Paul mentions genealogies. That we should not pursue genealogies. Because he says it's fruitless - it's kind of a waste of time. I believe it is. Now, even though I was on and I researched my ancestors - my genealogy. I got to the point where I wanted to - and I quit. First off, it is extremely expensive. When I first started out it was only about $19 dollars a month, something like that. Maybe $17 dollars a month. Now, it's almost $25-26 dollars a month! Outrageous! And if you want to go overseas searching for your ancestors, it's even more money!
     But, he says, 'whatever you do, do it with all your might to the Lord and not to men.'
     "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve [as our Master, as our Elder Brother, as our Savior] the Lord Christ."
     Let us remember what King Solomon said, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.’”
     So again, ask ever so often – ask yourself the questions – Is my life full of love!? Or, the opposite, arguments and contention and bitterness!? Is my life full of joy!? Or, am I basically a very unhappy person!? Is my life full of peace!? Or, am I always anxious and just wound up about something!? Is my life full of patience!? Or, am I in fact a very impatient person!? Again, that can cause a lot of problems – even health-wise. Blood pressure problems, blood sugar problems, cholesterol – because of that tension. Am I a gentle person!? Or, the other!? Is my life filled with goodness!?


     Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ often allow things to happen to us for a reason. Now, the other day I stepped wrong and twisted my right ankle. It’s better now, but it certainly hurt like the dickens. Now, of course, God could have kept that from happening. But God allowed that to happen, certainly for a reason. In the Book of Isaiah, the Prophet Isaiah declares that God can see the beginning from the end, from ancient times the things that yet are not done. He has protected me all my life. Now, you might ask – how does twisting your ankle save your life!? Well, the twisting of my ankle kept me from driving in my car and keeping a doctor's appointment across town. Instead, I had what they call a Tele Med visit.
     Now, whether or not we fully understand God’s reasons, we must always remember that “the LORD is good; … is great, … Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.” GOD is just. GOD is loving. GOD is merciful. Often things happen to us we may not understand. Yet, instead of doubting Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ and Their goodness, we should TRUST THEM!
     Again, in the Book of Isaiah, and for time’s sake, I’ll just quote this, Isaiah chapter 2 ... I mean, chapter 62, verse 7  –
     “I will mention the lovingkindness of the LORD And the praises of the LORD, According to ALL THAT THE LORD HAS BESTOWED ON US, …”
     Now, think what God has done for the nations of the United States of America and the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth of nations! For our people, since her inception – “ … And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, …” – friends, we certainly have a blessed land! We’ve had relative peace, prosperity, and blessings beyond comprehension as a people. A great influx of technology, industry, and wealth – and of course this land, the United States, as well as the United Kingdom – of Britain, which includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part, as well as Ireland and the many smaller islands, Scotland, and Wales – has some of the most beautiful places you will ever lay your eyes upon! God has done all of that for ISRAEL! “ … Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindness.”
     We – every one of us – should absolutely marvel at the provision which God has given us as nations. We are so blessed. And, we take for granted the enormity of the blessings which we have – compared to human civilizations down through history – we shine as a beacon upon a hill for all to see!
     “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
     God shows us that the faith of a true Christian will sometimes be sorely tried.
     Let’s turn over in our Bible to 1st Peter chapter 1.
     Let's begin in verse 6.
     "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, ..."
     Because my friends, oftentimes our faith is tested as if it is in a fire.
     " ... may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8) whom having not seen you love."
     Not one of us, dear brethren, has seen Jesus Christ. Yet, we love Him! We love Him with all of our hearts, our minds, our souls, our spirit - and I add, with every fiber of my being!
     " ... whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9) receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls."
     So when Jesus Christ returns He will reward you for your faithfulness and your diligence, and for the battles which you fought.
     The Apostle Peter was also inspired to write, and this time let's go to the second chapter of 1st Peter -
     Let's begin here in verse 19.
   "For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully."
     In other words, if you're doing something for the LORD our God, and you suffer - well, that's suffering wrongfully, when they persecute you. When they try to flog you, banish you, put you in prison, embarrass you. Whatever it is, that's suffering wrongfully.
     Verse 20 here.
    "For what credit is it, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God."
     And to give the following WARNING to our brethren –
     Let's go, here again, 1st Peter, let's turn over here to chapter 4
     Verse 12 here.
     "Beloved, ..." - speaking to us here brethren. " ... do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13) but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
     And that's why my friends when I twisted my ankle - and it hurt like the dickens - and I sat and I spoke with Father at length, thinking why did this happen to me!? Basically, the answer came to me - something could have happened to me had I gotten in that car and driven across town. My friends, statistically, you're more apt to be in a car accident less than five miles from your home. Less than five miles from your home. So indeed, I did praise Almighty God, because had I not twisted my ankle, I would have driven there in the car.
     Our Lord Jesus Christ’s exemplary life – certainly during the 3 ½ years of His earthly ministry – was not a life of ease, and it certainly did not entail flying around in a personal Falconjet, or even a Gulfstream! His life was filled with constant trials of every kind! Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ knew what real tribulation was!
     Let us always be faithful in our service to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!
     Next, gentleness.
    This world is anything but gentle. Yet, this is another of the IMPORTANT and necessary fruits of God’s Spirit we will have if we have God’s Holy Spirit within us.
     And finally, this world wants to live without any restraints. You see it all the time in the commercials they have on our televisions. The ... and I don't want to offend anyone here with the thought I have on my head and I want to get out today in this sermon. The “you only have to take a pill once a day to keep you from getting AIDS miracle.” Or, "if you have hepatitis C just take a pill and be normal in society miracle.” Now, brethren and friends, I am sad and have much empathy for those who do have AIDS, any STDs, or hepatitis C. Sadly, one of the most common ways HCV is spread is through reusing drug paraphernalia. People who inject drugs may reuse needles or equipment that’s used to prepare the drugs. And yes, I do understand that not all AIDS patience had something “wrong” for them to be suffering from AIDS or any other Sexually Transmitted Disease. I understand that. But, the point that I'm trying to make is Newton's Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And this applies to more than just physics. My wife and I have a good friend with AIDS – and she had contracted AIDS from her boyfriend at the time who had been sleeping around outside of the relationship.
     Well, how did I get off on that!? Anyway. Gentleness.
     Notice chapter 6 of the Book of Galatians
     Verse 1.
     "Brethren, ..." - speaking to us brethren. " ... if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, ..."
     Something that was not shown to me in a particular group. {6} They did not show me gentleness.
     " ... considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
     And of course, he goes on to say, "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ."
     In other words, if a so-called leader of a group - a church organization - if they think that you're sinning, if they think that you're doing wrong - and you've made it so far to make it into their group, even to visit with them - they shouldn't just throw you away and throw you out the door! To come to you, to show you the error of your ways. "If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who ARE spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness."
     Also, the final one here. Self-control.
     Those of this world want to live their lives without self-control. People do not want to be restrained by man or God. They seem to want to be unbridled and unrestrained. Yet, a person following the Way of God wants to be restrained and in control of his mind. A true Christian wants to be the master of his own thoughts and body and not be mastered by his own carnal desires and lusts.
     So, all of these traits are OUTWARD evidence to our neighbors and family! And if they do see these traits in you, they will know that you are certainly different from all others. Now, they may not realize why you are different, and they may certainly not realize that these are the fruits of God’s Spirit within you, but they certainly will know that you are different.
     Brethren, if we are the light unto the world, the people will see it, even though they may not understand it, or recognize why. But later they will remember that you were different and that there were others like us. They will remember that you were a living example – like our Lord Jesus Christ was our example – an example of love. And they will come to realize that our fruits had actually come from our relationship with God and because we actually had His Holy Spirit within us. They will then cry out unto God in true repentance and will receive the same Holy Spirit that we have received!
     As our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, let out light so shine before men. Our light is our good works.
     By this way people may know that we are Christ’s disciples and that we are true Christians. There is no other way now for this world and for our unconverted neighbors and relatives to know.
     So, I leave you with this, my friends -
     “’ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven.’”
     God be with you always.
     So, until next time. This is Leonard V Johnson for the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries. □

Editor's Notes:

{1} Mr. Johnson mentioned this story at least one other time, in the article "Are You But A Traditionalist?"
{2} Mr. Johnson forgot to mention what book. It's the Book of Romans.
{3} Mr. Johnson very briefly mentions the subject of not going to Heaven. We have additional information on this subject - Are the Dead In Heaven? 'No One Has Ascended To Heaven' along with Did the Thief On the Cross Go To Heaven?
{4} Mr. Johnson only mentions verse 5 but begins in verse 4 of Deuteronomy chapter 6.
{5} Mr. Johnson said, "Truth is the truth of God." But what he was thinking was, truth is the Word of God.
{6} Mr. Johnson doesn't mention this group here in this sermon, but has before in such articles as "You're Not Welcome Here!"

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