Confessing That They Were Strangers

Setting the mind to think heaven as our permanent home will prioritize our goals. It will blind us to the things of this earth and it will successfully firm our steps in the right direction. The heroes and heroines of the faith of yesterday and today, suffered and suffer much persecution, yearning for their country away from this earth. Strangers and temporary residents, they were and are ever so ready to return home. With persistence of faith, they confess that they are exiles upon the earth; nothing holds them here; faithfully, they suffer for the love of God and His Word and long for their permanent home. Stephen, a martyr for his faith, while stoned to his death, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and YAHSHUA standing at God’s right hand! He prayed, Lord YAHSHUA, receive and accept my spirit! And falling on his knees, he cried out loud, Lord, fix not this sin upon them! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death] (Acts 7:56-60). What a beautiful way to die! Before he entered heaven, YAHSHUA gave him a glimpse of it. I am sure there was a great celebration when he arrived home. Rejected by the world, he was welcomed in heaven. YAHSHUA said, If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you (John 15:19). Persecution is a true sign the world expresses that we do not belong to the world. We, in this country, have not suffered hard persecutions as many others have. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews describes the extent of sufferings those of long ago had suffered for their faith: they were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated. Men of whom the world was not worthy- roaming over the desolated places and the mountains, and in caves and caverns and holes of the earth (Heb. 11:37-38). Holding unto faith, they sparkled their love for God and for their home in heaven. Pilgrims in every sense of the word, they marched freely from love of the world to eternity, where the open door waited them. For the fulfillment of that which was promised them, they endured the world’s humiliation, shame, hunger, destitution, as our Lord and Savior, YAHSHUA, Who bore our sins and suffered the world’s persecution to death, because of Who He was- the Son of God, after submitting to the will of His Father, He endured all for the redemption of the world. And He for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2b). He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself shall My righteous One, My Servant justify many and make many righteous, for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt (Isa. 53:11). YAHSHUA’S persecuted bride’s comfort is knowing that the suffering they are going through is temporary in view of what awaits them in eternity.  Everything in this earth is temporary, even sufferings, but the eternal home in heaven, which awaits us, is forever. Paul wrote, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us (Rom 8:18). Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10). That’s a promise YAHSHUA gave us. Our blessing will follow our suffering, if we remain faithful to our God. The world will never conform to our views and beliefs; for this reason, persecution will be sure to come. Those who desire to live a righteous life will face persecution, Paul said in his second letter to Timothy. It is the world’s desire to rid of all Christians, for we are not one of them. The gate that leads to heaven is narrow; few are those who will be able to enter heaven through it. This gate allows no room for the extras the world offers. Self-denial, is one way to fit into the narrow gate. In many cases, traveling to a foreign country requires a passport. In our pilgrimage to heaven, we too need a passport; not a passport the world requires, but a passport that is spiritual, obtained only through YAHSHUA’S gift of life through the shedding of His blood and by His word, as He said, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the person whose ears are open to My words and believes on Him Who sent Me has eternal life.  And he does not come into judgment, but he has already passed over out of death into life (John 5:24) and by the seal of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, In Him (YAHSHUA) you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings of your salvation, and have believed on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Strangers in the world, we march continually to our destination, not afraid of the evil one, whose power cannot touch us, for God’s love- the Christian umbrella of protection, is ever so available to protect and to defend His children. Psalm 91:5-8 says, You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, not of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste as noonday, a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only a spectator shall you be as you witness the reward of the wicked, that is, if we remain under His shadow.

Our pilgrimage on this earth will always be with difficulties until we reach our heavenly destination. A thing we must expect and be ready for, for life on this earth is warfare and hardship. YAHSHUA so confirmed: In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! For I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Traveling through the narrow gate shows that we have left behind the world and its pleasures in pursuit of our celestial home. For once we will no longer be strangers, but children of the King of kings, dressed in His righteousness, and in purity, a welcome shout we will hear, welcome home!

Upwardly, we go with feet on higher ground, standing on His promise for a beautiful tomorrow, when at His feet we will bow.

I’m pressing on the upward way

New heights I’m gaining every day

Still praying as I’m onward bound,

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground

My heart has no desire to stay,

Where doubts arise and fears dismay

Tho’ some may dwell where these abound,

My prayer, my aim is higher ground

I want to live above the world,

Tho’ Satan’s darts at me are hurled

For faith has caught the joyful sound,

The song of saints on higher ground

I want to scale the utmost height

And catch a gleam of glory bright

But still I’ll pray till heaven I’ve found,

Lord, lead me on to higher ground

Lord, lift me up and let me stand

By faith on heaven’s table-land

A higher plane than I have found

Lord plant my feet on higher ground

(Hymn Higher Ground By Johnson Oatman, Jr. and Charles H. Gabriel)

Be blessed!

Author: Jacinta da Cruz Rodgers

I have been committed to teaching the truth of the Word of God beginning with Trans World Radio on Bonaire, N.A and Swaziland, Africa (1969-1980), then through churches in the United States in both English and Portuguese and then through ministry in Israel (2005-2006). This ministry continues through local Bible studies and outreach to the world via the internet. I have written a book about my life from that of an orphan in Brazil to missionary in 5 countries. You can find out more on the "Book" page of our blog site.

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