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THESE ARE NOT DARK DAYS, THESE ARE GREAT DAYS!

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan,
Pastor

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 9, 2020

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14; p. 1260 Scofield).


I watched President Trump’s State of the Union address last week. It was one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard! He spoke of how our country is coming out of its depression and confusion, to be great again. In 2016 his campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.” President Trump has kept that promise. America is great again! He didn’t think our problems were impossible. He looked forward to the future. He pressed towards the goal of making America better than ever! His speech echoed the words of the Apostle Paul,

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

Paul did not dwell on the hard times in his life. Yes, he suffered greatly. He said, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep” (II Corinthians 11:24, 25; p. 1238).

But Paul did not worry over his pain. His pain was not his message. That was not the theme of Paul’s life. What was the theme of his life? It was, “Go forward, go forward to ‘the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’’’! Paul lived out the words of our text!!!

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

He pressed on towards the future. That was the Apostle Paul. That was how Paul became the greatest Christian of all time!

The title of this sermon is, “These are not dark days, These are great days!” Winston Churchill, the greatest man of the twentieth century, spoke those words to young people in 1941, at the height of World War II. Did Churchill despair? No, he did not despair. He looked forward to victory! He said, “These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived.” He looked forward to the time when “all Europe would be free and the life of the world would move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.” Churchill’s message echoed the words of the Apostle Paul,

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

To America, and to our church, I say, “These are not dark days; these are great days!” I will tell you about that this morning.

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I. First, these are great days for our country!

Some said that America was in decline. There was no way to avoid it. We had to live with it somehow. It was impossible to turn the country around.

But Donald Trump is a man of the impossible. He did the impossible over and over again. The fake news media said Trump couldn’t be nominated as the Republican candidate for president – but he was. Then they said Trump couldn’t be elected. Trump as president? That was laughable! Newsweek magazine was sure that Trump would lose. They printed an election day issue in advance. On the cover was a picture of Hillary Clinton with the words “Madam President.” Inside were articles about how she had defeated Trump. They sent that issue to people across the land. But a day after the election they had to pull those magazines out of the stores. Not all those magazines were thrown away. I bought a copy and gave it to Dr. Hymers for Christmas. Yes, Trump is a man who does the impossible!

When he became president, people said Trump would ruin the country. Some said he would start an atomic war. They said he was crazy. Right after he was elected, they started trying to get rid of him. To the liberal elite, the voters couldn’t be right. Our Constitution, the greatest political document in the history of mankind, begins with the words, “We the People.” But for the fake news media and the corrupt leftist politicians, the Constitution couldn’t be right. “We the People” can’t be right. If the people voted for Trump, that election needed to be canceled right away. The people couldn’t be trusted. Only the leftists could be trusted.

Is what I said too strong? No, it’s exactly right. Adam Schiff is a Democrat Congressman from California. He led the impeachment that tried to get rid of Trump. In that trial, Schiff said to our Senate and our nation, “The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box.” He said it’s wrong to vote on Trump at the election in November. The people could not be trusted. The liberal elite had to take charge, above the will of the people. They spent two years and countless millions on the Mueller investigation trying to ruin Trump. But the Mueller report said that no crime had been committed! Then they impeached Trump, trying to remove him from office. They wanted to wipe out the election of 2016 when the people voted for him. They wanted to keep Trump out of the election this fall so the people couldn’t vote for him again. But the impeachment failed, by a wide margin!

The Bible tells us to pray for “for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:2). We need to pray for President Trump. Especially pray that he will not be assassinated, for some may try to do that. I pray for our president. And I’m looking forward to four more years!

These are great days for our country. Look at what Trump did in just three years. Unemployment is very low. The unemployment rate among Blacks and Hispanics is the lowest ever. People have jobs. Their wages are going up.

For 47 years our nation has been cursed with abortion on demand. But Trump put two pro-life justices on the Supreme Court. Now we can look forward to abortion being strongly restricted. These are great days for our country.

God chose the nation Israel to be His people on earth. He said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3). Before Trump, the politicians talked about Israel. They talked about moving our embassy to Jerusalem where it belongs. But Trump did it! They talked about supporting Israel, but Trump did it. Two weeks ago he and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a plan that would give Israel almost all of the Promised Land. The politicians were afraid. But Trump, with childlike faith, put God to the test. Trump blessed Israel, and now God is blessing him!

Trump destroyed the terrorists of ISIS and killed the terrorist general of Iran. He gave us an economic boom. We’re respected everywhere in the world. And Trump is just getting started! He isn’t talking about America’s decline. He’s talking about putting Americans on Mars! Trump reminds me of the words of our text,

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

II. Second, these are great days for our church!

There is no question about it – we had some hard times. But we’re not in hard times now. There is no split here now. God is with us.

Listen to some of the answers to our prayers. We prayed for Trump, and God answered. We prayed for Israel, and God once again protected Israel and made it greater than ever before.

We prayed for our new building, and God gave us the new building. We prayed for the old building to be sold, and it is sold. It’s easy to forget how God was good to us. It’s easy to forget to thank Him. But answering our prayers He did! These are great days for our church!

We have been doing evangelism from my house. I moved to Alhambra to be close to our new church, right there in the San Gabriel Valley. God has blessed the evangelism. There is a good spirit among us! I like my new house. I’m not moaning over my old house. I’m not thinking about inner-city Los Angeles with its crime and drugs. I want the new house! I want to see it used for the work of Christ! And I want the new church! I want to do work for Christ in the San Gabriel Valley!

These are great days for our church. One young Chinese person has already trusted Jesus. Others are friendly and interested. Others are coming to our church. There is a good spirit here. The watchword is not, “Look at what happened in the past.” Our watchword is, “Press forward! Let’s do it!

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

The old building has had its time. I want to go on to the new building. We’ll move in when the improvements are finished in a few months. We’ll be in the heart of the Chinese community. I’m looking forward to it!

I like the San Gabriel Valley. The Chinese people who live there are polite and intelligent. They’re not crazy. They’re not angry and rebellious. And God is doing a work among them. They’re not hostile to the Gospel. Let’s win their souls!

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

In his State of the Union speech, President Trump said, “Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.”

I see the same for our church. I don’t see a church the same size as it is now. I see a great church in San Gabriel. I see more and more young people in church who aren’t here now. Even a small number of them has changed things here. Imagine if there were ten more, or twenty more, or fifty more. It would be a new church! And, it will be a new church!!!

I see a greater website work, with more languages, reaching into more nations and languages.

I see more evangelism. Our church can really grow. Yes, it takes work. Yes, it’s hard. Not everyone who visits will stay. Not everyone will trust Jesus. But many will, and that’s worth it!!!

I see new ministries. We’re already starting English classes for Chinese people who have been in this country a short time. It’s helping them. And God can use it to draw more people to our church.

We plan to give lessons on apologetics – defending the Christian faith and answering people’s questions. What questions? Questions like, “How do you know there’s a God?” and “If there is a God, why is there so much evil in the world?” The inner-city people weren’t smart enough to think about that. But the Chinese people in the San Gabriel Valley have good minds. They have questions, and we will answer them.

Someday we will have new ministries for Christ that we haven’t thought of yet. I don’t know what they will be. But God knows.

We have been at the bottom. As financial people say, “The bottom is in.” Now it’s time to go up! But I must say something more.

The future won’t be easy to win. We’re not in Heaven yet. The Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8; p. 1315). The Devil doesn’t want a strong Gospel church in the San Gabriel Valley. He will do everything he can to stop it. He will use anyone who listens to him. He will use non-Christian families and friends to pull people away. He will use soft new-evangelicals to criticize us and pull people to their “easy” religion. The Devil will be active against us. That’s why the Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant.”

The Bible also says, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19; p. 1270). Don’t let God’s fire go out. Be a man or woman of prayer. Don’t take God’s blessing for granted. Many times in the past God was present in a meeting. People assumed that God would always be there. The next day they did not pray. They did not prepare their hearts. And in the next meeting God was absent. Don’t let that happen again! Pray just as much when things go well as you did when it was hard.

The Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit.” Don’t stand in the way of what God is doing. I promise you, the new church will not be a copy of the old. The Gospel is the same. Jesus Christ is the same. But the way we do things – our methods – will not always be the same. Don’t say, “But we used to do it another way.” Don’t argue with the pastors. Don’t grumble and murmur. Quench not the Spirit. Let God do His work!

The Bible says, “Despise not prophesyings” (I Thessalonians 5:20; p. 1270). Don’t reject the preaching. Pay attention to the sermons. Don’t say, “I’ve heard that before.” Listen anyway. Don’t look down at the floor. Listen to the sermons. Think about them. Read the manuscripts we give you. And do what the sermons say. That will make you a strong Christian. It’s as simple as that.

A few of you have not listened to the sermons. That’s why you haven’t trusted Jesus. You let the Gospel message pass by. Your sins are still upon you. They separate you from God. But Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. He rose from the dead to give you life. I pray that you will trust Jesus. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come to the front of this room at the end of the sermon.

These are not dark days. These are great days!

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

Stand and sing the last song on your song sheet, “Higher Ground.”

My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
   Though some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is 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.

I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
   For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on 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.

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.
(“Higher Ground” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).


THE OUTLINE OF

THESE ARE NOT DARK DAYS, THESE ARE GREAT DAYS!

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).

(II Corinthians 11:24, 25)

I.    First, these are great days for our country! I Timothy 2:2;
Genesis 12:3.

II.   Second, these are great days for our church! I Peter 5:8;
I Thessalonians 5:19, 20.