Where are God’s People
(Sermon Notes) By Warren M. Zehrung 7/18/2020
I need to begin by defining who God’s people are. Who are God’s people? We must not lose our identity as the People of God. The word “Church” has taken on the wrong implication of corporate organization – even by many of God’s people.
For about twenty years now, I’ve chosen to use the term, “brethren,” or “Church brethren,” to avoid the wrong connotation that we developed in God’s Church. Some of you will remember when ‘Church’ and ‘Pasadena’ were practically synonymous and often used interchangeably – as in, “I’ll make a phone call to the church” (Pasadena).
I want to use the Biblical definition, of Church. In looking at the definition of the word “Church” we will encounter other similar ways of describing the meaning.
The word, “Church” means: Assembly; Congregation; Brethren; First Fruits; Saints; Flock; Body of Christ; Called out ones; God’s people [like in today’s title] People of God, etc.
An implication of corporate organization with a ministerial hierarchy over the brethren as “the Church” is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. That kind of thinking will get in the way of understanding the Scriptures, and cause misunderstanding.
Simply put, The Church is God’s people. The nation of Israel was the first group to be designated as God’s people. (Genesis 12:2)
There was a time – not so long ago – when we could enter any congregation of God’s people anywhere on earth – and feel entirely welcomed – like we were at home.
Who can truly feel a strong sense of belonging anywhere, now? There is too much skepticism; too much pain; too much hurt… Where could any of you go right this minute and feel welcomed as a brother or sister in Christ?
We know pretty well what the world is like today. We – the Church of God – do not fit in here. It is becoming harder and harder to exist on this earth. We are called out to be different.
2Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
And that is because we do not belong with the people who reject God and His law.
Romans 8:9 … Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
What has become of our nation – in our generation?
What has become of our church – in our generation?
We have been called by God to have a part in His Plan – and right now we are to participate in the work of restoration and unification. God desires that we learn to serve one another using the gifts which He has given us. Those gifts are for the benefit of everyone.
1Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit everyone.
The love of God requires that we grow to be patient with each other and practice humility in our relationships. But look at the Church now, today – what have we let the Church become? God’s people are confused, split, shattered and scattered all over the face of the earth. Where is the unity of God’s people; the oneness, and the togetherness?
Everything is going awry – Everything is going the wrong way – and we always find ourselves – the odd man out.
We do not vote. We do not eat a lot of the food that others eat. We will not obey the laws of the land with regard to same-sex marriages. We obey God and not man (Acts 5:29).
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
The music is not for us. Social media is not for us. The movies are not for us. Speaking of this present evil world:
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
We need to be more active and zealous—spiritually. We do not worship on the same day as the world does. The news is a bunch of propaganda lies.
The “Church” is the Body of Christ as in Colossians 1:24
Colossians 1:24 … for His Body‘s sake, which is the Church:
Being a part of the Body of Christ is a unique relationship – to say that that relationship is “special” does not do it justice. What does that unique relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ entail?
Christ’s body of faithful believers is the Church.
Romans 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
We belong to God. God says that we are His. His people. We are the Church of God. (“of” means possessive) God’s owns us. We belong to God.
Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; you are mine.
God possesses us.
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.
Things in the world are changing rapidly. I can hardly watch the news these days. Years ago, when we were young, the outlook for our nation seemed brighter, simpler and better.
Years ago, World War II was over, and our dads came home to open arms.
Back then, we sent our kids off to school, paid the house mortgage, paid the car note – and looked for the day when we could sit back and retire.
Years ago, the dream seemed – realistic and achievable.
Brethren, God has given us an entire lifetime to get our minds around true spiritual concepts – and understanding the Word of God.
We refer to it as Christian conversion – not thinking the way this world thinks. We have diligently tried to establish Godly principles and values in our lives.
“Blessed is the nation God is for.” That HYMN will get you into big trouble these days—ridiculed and laughed to scorn.
Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
God is clearly picking and choosing a particular nation.
When I read a verse like that – I also like to take a look at what is not written. A corollary to that statement is that:
“A nation is NOT blessed if the True God is NOT their LORD; because those people have not been chosen for His inheritance.”
I chose this hymn today because our nation is quickly becoming unrecognizable.
In God’s Church we are always endeavoring to re-double our efforts to return to, and maintain Godly truth and values in our lives.
First in our lives is the love of the True God, because our God is great – and the enemy is eagerly trying to replace Him.
We thank God for our freedom to worship and pray. Everyone does not enjoy that privilege.
God has given us a bountiful land where right living could flourish and prevail: A land with good leadership and representation: Are we praying for our leaders?
1Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Timothy 2:2 For [leaders], and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
[peaceable life – not a land full of bloody crimes as in (Ezekiel 7:23)]
1Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
We thank God for our inspired founding fathers who gave us a republic with a constitution that serves the just people. I cannot read the constitution without seeing the inspired hand of God in its writing. It was able to provide:
God wanted us to have, a land, without extortion and unjust taxes.
A land with faithful monogamous marriage, and obedient children.
A land without abortion and the murder of infants.
A land without homosexual perversion.
We thank God for a nation so blessed and powerful – where we are safe from every enemy. Look at what God has done for us:
Deuteronomy 32:13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
We eat fresh fruit and vegetables 12 months of the year! What a great blessing that is! We export shiploads of grain to feed the world.
We produce and export more oil than any nation of, earth. And for all this we give God the credit. We thank God for the best healthcare and diagnostic system in the world.
We thank God for a nation where we can live His way and display His law for all to see. Brethren, these following verses apply to us as a people more than to any people in the history of the world.
Deuteronomy 6:1 Now these are the Commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land where-ever you go to possess it:
Deuteronomy 6:2 That thou might fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
Deuteronomy 6:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that flows with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sit in thine house, and when thou walk by the way, and when thou lie down, and when thou rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
[metaphorically – in our mind and right before our eyes]
Deuteronomy 6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Not teaching God’s way to our children – by “letting them decide for themselves” – is like letting the weeds grow up in our front yard.
We live by God’s Law so that we can put-on righteous and equitable behavior.
Deuteronomy 6:10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land [USA] which He swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,
Because of God’s promises to Abraham, there does exist “American exceptionalism.”
Deuteronomy 6:10 … to give thee great and goodly places, which thou obtained,
With rain in due season… a most favorable climate for agriculture…
“From sea to shining sea – with the mighty Mississippi River- and Railroads, Factories, Airports, Highways, and waterways…
Have you ever asked yourself why a large nation like Mexico [for example], with its industrious, diverse, and continental population, its rich natural resources, mountains, coastlines, and favorable climate, cannot rise to prominence? Nothing is holding that country back… or is there something missing. It takes God’s direct intervention – His laws, statutes, and judgments – His blessings to make a nation great.
Our open society allows us life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, with freedoms of religion and speech, as free men in a free nation.
But, as many of you have noticed, the national blessings that we once so freely benefited from have begun to erode rapidly. What is happening to our great nation?
Every institution and system in our nation is suffering greatly:
The blessings and strength of America and Britain are bound up tightly within our societal institutions of academia, banking, finance, family, military, farming, agriculture, law, transportation, tax, health, welfare, cyber technology [hackings are a daily occurrence], computers, social networking, communication, government, industry, commerce, every institution for mankind – marriage, education, economy, defense, ranching, justice, courts, travel, entertainment, medicine, mining, trade, collective bargaining, you name it
Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Isaiah 1:3 The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Isaiah 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Isaiah 1:5 Why should ye be stricken anymore? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
The whole head is sick — Can Congress be trusted? CIA?, FBI?, DOJ?, National Security?, our nation’s Governors or mayors?
Isaiah 1:6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Isaiah 1:7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
Are we witnessing America’s last days?
Deuteronomy 28:20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou set thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.
Those are God’s words – we’d better believe Him.
If this great nation does not return to the creator God soon, every good standard defining the attributes of America’s greatness will collapse. Without God, no nation can stand.
Deuteronomy 6:11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filled not, and wells dug, which thou dug not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou planted not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Deuteronomy 6:12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Deuteronomy 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name.
God has given us a great land of education, law, order, and honor of parents and respect of society. It was God alone who made America and Great Britain – great! Let’s look a few verses so that we might see that our “American exceptionalism” is no accident.
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a very special treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen you to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
If that is not “American exceptionalism” I do not know what is.
Deuteronomy 7:7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
Deuteronomy 7:8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
God intended for all the world to see America’s might and power!
Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
Brethren, the time is coming when the people of God will do greater things than these:
Daniel 11:32 … the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
America gathered the diaspora (displaced and dispersed) of Israel from around the world.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad (diaspora), greeting.
Our God is the Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob, – with Judeo-Christian values, ethics, principles, law, traditions, and beliefs. Our doors were not open to Pagan gods who embrace hate and destruction.
Deuteronomy 6:14 You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
Deuteronomy 7:4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
With silent lips [the Statue of Liberty exclaims], “Give me you’re tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“
America is more than willing to share our principles, laws, and values with all those who will live by them! America has no contempt for the “Little Man.” We serve all the people in order to serve our God and country!
The birthright blessings of populations, wealth and prosperity that came so bountifully beginning in the early 1800s to America and Britain were only a token of the ultimate spiritual fulfillment of the covenant promises God made to Abraham and his descendants.
All we have to do is look at history and look all around the earth to see that God’s promises to Abraham are not yet complete. But, they will be fulfilled in the Millennial age when the entire earth will be restored to an Eden-like Garden of paradise.
But, Brethren, today it seems that all of a sudden that, American dream has become a nightmare for all too many.
The COVID-19 virus is raging worse than ever, the kids are not going to school or college, and it is very possible that our nation is facing a threat even more severe.
Deuteronomy 28:61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
A, most grave plague (scourge) affecting our country is the God-less and lawless movement that is sending destructive mob riots against our churches, culture, cities, and law enforcement. It is like half of the country has gone crazy.
The enemy wishes to eradicate our history, religion, and family values in order to establish the ideology of the socialists communist Marxist.
We are brave enough to remember our mistakes of history – so that they will not be repeated.
To be sure, socialism is against the Law of God because it is stealing (Leviticus 19:11).
God knows that our national sins are plentiful and un-repented of, but this leftist faction seeks to destroy the blessings we have received as a result of God’s promises to Abraham.
Deuteronomy 28:1 It shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His Commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
They are undeserved blessings of national greatness upon Ephraim and Manasseh which have enabled us to continue to preach the Gospel of God’s coming Kingdom to the world “in the last days.” God says:
Deuteronomy 28:43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and you shalt come down very low.
How can that be possible?
If our southern wall comes down–our border defenses come down, and all the enemy can flow in rapidly with their drugs and diseases and dangerous intentions.
We’ve seen examples of that. God gave us our national petroleum blessings:
The enemy will shut down coal, gas and oil – leaving us defenseless – our national resources disallowed and rejected. And, our blessings will immediately begin to decline in a precipitous way – quite possibly never to return. It will be all over for us. We are praying that God will grant us national peace and prosperity to preach the Gospel.
Leviticus 26:14-15, 31 But if you will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these Commandments; And if you shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my Commandments, but that you break my covenant… And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.
As a nation, we should have safeguarded our republic, but we are letting it get away from us. How could we let it happen? It is our generation who is responsible for our national condition – making us derelict in our duty.
In the same way, and at the same time, the Church of God grew in numbers – preaching the Gospel to the world.
We could go into any congregation in America, Great Britain, and around the world – and feel welcome and at home, sharing that same unity of spirit. Those days, too, are long gone. We are no longer welcome in every Church of God congregation, even in our own town!
Those who have been given the ministry of reconciliation have disregarded God’s clear instruction for, unity of the brethren (2Corinthians 5:18-19).
In the same way that we have lost our country to the wiles of the infidels, our generation has also lost that unity of brotherhood that once prevailed among us in God’s Church.
Without a doubt, we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:10-12).
And as sure as day follows night, we will all wish that we could point the finger of blame at someone else. Our Faith carries with it personal responsibility and accountability.
It is not sufficient to embrace and support the preaching of the Gospel. It requires personal action and deep commitment to a way of life that is a reflection of God. Will we be asking ourselves if we should have spoken up more by sounding an alarm like a trumpet, and showing God’s people their sins?
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Herbert W. Armstrong did cry aloud – but who is doing it today. Are they fearful?
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
But, what will we say to Jesus Christ when He asks us what we did personally to save our nation and our church? Do you think that He will not ask who was responsible for losing our inestimable blessings of national greatness, and church unity?
Prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes. Brethren, we are not without hope:
Look at what God said long ago:
2Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
God’s people must lead the way. “Where are God’s People?”