The Church and Its Priesthood (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 13, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

No one wants to see people falter outside of Jesus Christ.  With this in mind, God is looking for someone to stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30).  Not everyone can do it.

God is looking for those people who are willing to make a difference as ambassadors in this world…ready to serve at a moment’s notice.  He is looking for people to teach and encourage others.  It is God’s priesthood that is the example for others.  The priesthood is the people of his church, who have a heart of compassion for others and desire to minister to others.

The priestly office carries on today within the church.

People who come to church may often have the mentality that they are to be served by the church (and perhaps even entertained), when in actuality, it is the people that need to learn and understand that they are the ones who are being prepared to serve others.

Is the church more about worship or more about an experience?

When people come to church the big question is the same as one would get when going to a restaurant…”What can I get you?” or “What can I do for you?”

Starbucks isn’t just about coffee.  It is about the coffee drinking experience.

The birthday is not about the homemade cake anymore.  It’s about Chuck E. Cheese or wherever you go to have a birthday experience.

People won’t come to a church that is boring.  What qualifies as boring is defined by our own experiences.

The role of the pastor, the priesthood, once seen as shepherds and teachers, has evolved to that of a circus ringmasters and clowns who shout out to come to the Greatest Show on Earth.

The problem with external experiences, as Moses discovered, is that the transformation doesn’t last.  In a few days, over time, the glory begins to fade.

What do we want people to value, remember or experience when they come to Akron Alliance Fellowship?

When people hear or see the name of Akron Alliance Fellowship, they need to know what they are going to get…the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is all we have to offer.

There is no show to put on–just the teaching of the Word.  (Even the music that is presented before the service should be that which glorifies God.)

The Priesthood was organized to take care of the tabernacle, the Temple and the Scriptures of God in order that those who entered into a relationship with God may be properly served in a manner in which God had provided.

The duty of the Priesthood is to keep the lights burning.  Light is also a representation of knowledge and understanding.

Leviticus 24:1-4

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. Aaron is to tend it continually from evening until morning before the Lord outside the veil of the testimony in the tent of meeting. This is a permanent statute throughout your generations. He must continually tend the lamps on the the pure gold lampstand in the Lord’s presence.

Exodus 27:20-21

You are to command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. In the tent of meeting outside the veil that is in front of the testimony, Aaron and his sons are to tend the lamp from evening until morning before the Lord. This is to be a permanent statute for the Israelites throughout their generations.

The light is the Light of life for people.

John 1:4

Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.

Matthew 4:16

The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand,

and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

John 8:12

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

1 John 1:5

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.

As a priest, you are responsible for keeping your light full of oil (represented by the Holy Spirit) shining in your life.

You are responsible to light up dark places in this community.  You are to keep your light before others in order that they can see in the dark.

We have the responsibility of taking care of the things belonging to God, which are His people.

Numbers 18:1-7

The Lord said to Aaron, You, your sons, and your ancestral family will be responsible for iniquity against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for iniquity involving your priesthood. But also bring your relatives with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and assist you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony. They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die. They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.

You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again. Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the curtain, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift, but an unauthorized person who comes near the sanctuary will be put to death.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

You are responsible for how you dress and your appearance. Remember your position in life.  You are not just an ordinary person running around in the world.  You are a priest, a saint and an ambassador.  You are representing more than just yourself.

Exodus 28:39-41

You are to weave the tunic from fine linen, and make an embroidered sash. Make tunics, sashes, and headbands for Aaron’s sons to give them glory and beauty (dignity and honor). Put these on your brother Aaron and his sons; then anoint, ordain, and consecrate them, so that they may serve Me as priests.

There are two different reasons for this dress style.  They were not to look like the rest of the people of Israel.

  1. To give them dignity
  2. To give honor…conduct oneself in high regard and be respected

Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.


The Church and Its Priesthood

Today’s message summary of August 6, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church is a place of assembly where God calls His people together for a common goal and purpose.

The church is not just the pastor, elders or deacons are doing all of the work.  It is a mindset that prevails where the people come together as a group under the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone comes together in this way in order to have a greater impact within the community.

The church is critical for the survival of many people.  In nations where people and children are starving, the church steps forward to help those who are in need.  It is the benevolence of the people within the church, led by Jesus Christ, that helps to take care of “His sheep.”

The church is on a decline not because of witness but because many are failing to live in a Christlike manner.  God does not live to serve us–we live to serve Him.

It is important to remember that Jesus Christ is sufficient for us.  All he requires of us is to have faith in Him.  He prevails for us and we will not be defeated as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:18

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

How many of you believe that God’s church is going to prevail?  Jesus Christ has already prevailed and won the battle, but that doesn’t mean that you relax from participation in the church.  You are to keep after it in spite of the opposition that Satan will put in front of you.

Oswald Sanders says, “the overriding need of the church is to discharge its obligation to raising up generations for leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.”

The church must prevail.  The world cannot defeat the church.

1 Peter 2:1-5

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are like living stones that are being built into a spiritual house.  Our sacrifice is in our work for Him.  We don’t sacrifice because we don’t know Jesus Christ, but we do it because we do know Him, and desire to serve Him.

Our present church struggles with the equipping and training of younger people in order that they can get ready to serve.

The church has a challenge also in how often it can teach or instruct our youth in comparison to what the world teaches them.  Only God can be the one to prevail over this situation.  Collectively, we will prevail as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:19

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.

The word “key” stands for knowledge.  The keys of the kingdom are truth. Scribes, or teachers of the Word of God would wear a key on his belt to symbolize the truth that he held (truth of the gospel).

The church is meant for all people to come and worship.  The church needs to mirror the population of the surrounding community.

Matthew 9:10-13

While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Walt Disney had a vision about EPCOT before it was created.  EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  He had a vision for this when he purchased the land for what is now Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  He purchased 47 square miles of Florida wilderness to build it.

Others believed that Walt’s vision was such a fantasy that it could not possibly be realized.  There were company managers that went behind his back and referred to his dream as “Waltopia.”  The word “utopia” is a Greek word that means “no place.”

After his death in 1966, his successors didn’t know how to proceed with EPCOT.  Company executives who lacked Walt’s ability to see beyond proven formulas retreated to a more conventional concept. The new president of Disney said EPCOT was now being reconsidered from the point of view of economics, operations, technology and market potential…not one’s imagination.

Note the reference to economics here.  What is the first thing that often comes up in the church? Economics!  Money!  What we need to consider here is what God wants to accomplish.  Money is a vehicle, for sure, but God determines the success of the endeavor.

Operations:  God desires for His church to move forward.  He does not want it to stand still.

Walt’s plan actually also included churches within its community where people actually would live and be there for several days…and also worship in the church while they were there!

You never want to stop using the imagination that God is giving you.  Walt’s vision for Disney World and EPCOT is the same type of vision that we should also have for the church.

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.” 

–Vincent Van Gogh

A church model is just that–a model.  It still must conform to the community around it, but keep in mind that God also may take you further than where you are.

The church is an assembly of a priesthood of believers.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Your purpose, in this royal priesthood, is to declare the praises of Him and to stand and be ready for service–to meet His call and His desire to you to live for Him.  You belong to God and your purpose is to praise Him wherever you go!

The church has a purpose, as well.

Colossians 1:24-29

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christs afflictions for his body, that is, the church. I have become its servant, according to Gods commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.

We are to act like Jesus.

Romans 8:29

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Church is to have a cultural influence.

Church helps to transform people through its teaching.

Church holds to the practice of the values of Jesus Christ.


L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference 2017 – Saturday, October 7 feat. Kelly Parker!

Save the Date: Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Ladies, join us for our third annual L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference (Living as Devoted in Every Sense)!  Saturday, October 7, 2017 will be a great morning of inspiration and encouragement with our special guest speaker, Kelly D. Parker.

About Ms. Parker:

Kelly Parker is a Bible teacher, speaker and blogger. Her desire is to see women embrace the victory and freedom that come from a life wholly submitted to Christ. She finds great joy in conveying biblical truths in a straightforward way to help women apply God’s Word to their everyday lives.

Kelly is the founder of When the Gals Gather, a movement focused on empowering women with tools and resources for authentic biblical living. Kelly is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of Kent State University. She holds a degree in Marketing and Public Relations and has more than 10 years of professional marketing experience.

In her spare time, Kelly enjoys writing, reading and calligraphy. She is married to Luvirt Parker, Lead Pastor of Christ Community Church in University Heights, Ohio.  They have three children, Gabrielle, Marcus and Nia, and reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ms. Parker is a wonderful, dynamic speaker who has a message for ladies of all ages!  Feel free to invite your daughters, neighbors and friends to this event!

Along with a delicious brunch, admission is FREE for this “can’t miss” event, and there will be door prizes, too!  If you or a group are interested in attending, let us know as soon as possible (we need a head count!).  Please call our church office at 330.376.4654 or call Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345 or 234.221.8125.


Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.


Unanswered Prayer (Part 8 of a Series – ‘Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?’)

Today’s message summary of July 16, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Prayer is very, very important.  As we continue this series, we will ponder how God answers some prayers and does not answer others.

The reason that many Christians are seeking the Lord is because they are experiencing some sort of affliction.  Some are experiencing cancer, and the diagnosis for recovery is slim.

Seeing those who experience this situation remind us that life is short, and also the reality that God may not answer their prayers for complete healing.  We wrestle with a level of uncertainty in our Christian life, and we can find that many of these prayers may never be answered in our lifetime.

Zechariah 7:13

Just as he had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen, says the Lord of Armies.

Why does God allow prayers to go unanswered while others are indeed answered?

  1. Because of sinfulness
  2. Because of faithlessness
  3. Love of worldly pleasure
  4. The sovereignty of God

Unanswered prayers may be the result of sinfulness. He will not listen to those whose hearts are not truly looking to Him; however, God does hear the prayers of sinners who sincerely turn to Him.  He will hear and acknowledge anyone who desires to have a relationship with Him.

Micah 3:1-4

Then I said, Now listen, leaders of Jacob,

you rulers of the house of Israel.

Arent you supposed to know what is just?

You hate good and love evil.

You tear off peoples skin

and strip their flesh from their bones.

You eat the flesh of my people

after you strip their skin from them

and break their bones.

You chop them up

like flesh for the cooking pot,

like meat in a cauldron.

Then they will cry out to the Lord,

but he will not answer them.

He will hide his face from them at that time

because of the crimes they have committed.

 

Romans 1:24

Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.

 

A person who sins is disrupting the communication between himself and God.  Sin hinders prayers.

Saul is an example of this.  His disobedience was sinful and he forfeited his kingship over the people (1 Samuel 15:12-29).

 

1 Samuel 28:3-19

By this time Samuel had died, all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his city, and Saul had removed the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines gathered and camped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel, and they camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine camp, he was afraid and his heart pounded. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him in dreams or by the Urim or by the prophets. Saul then said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium, so I can go and consult her.

 His servants replied, There is a woman at En-dor who is a medium.

Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes and set out with two of his men. They came to the woman at night, and Saul said, Consult a spirit for me. Bring up for me the one I tell you.

But the woman said to him, You surely know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you setting a trap for me to get me killed?

Then Saul swore to her by the Lord: As surely as the Lord lives, no punishment will come to you from this.

Who is it that you want me to bring up for you? the woman asked. 

Bring up Samuel for me, he answered.

When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, and then she asked Saul, Why did you deceive me? You are Saul!

But the king said to her, Dont be afraid. What do you see?

I see a spirit form coming up out of the earth, the woman answered.

Then Saul asked her, What does he look like?

An old man is coming up, she replied. Hes wearing a robe. Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he knelt low with his face to the ground and paid homage.

Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? Samuel asked Saul.

Im in serious trouble, replied Saul. The Philistines are fighting against me and God has turned away from me. He doesnt answer me anymore, either through the prophets or in dreams. So Ive called on you to tell me what I should do.

Samuel answered, Since the Lord has turned away from you and has become your enemy, why are you asking me? The Lord has done exactly what he said through me: The Lord has torn the kingship out of your hand and given it to your neighbor David. You did not obey the Lord and did not carry out his burning anger against Amalek; therefore the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will also hand Israel over to the Philistines along with you. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will hand Israels army over to the Philistines.

Saul’s disobedience continued by consulting a medium—the very people that he had removed—because he knew the Lord had turned from him.

Leviticus 20:6-8

Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists and prostitutes himself with them, I will turn against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sets you apart.

Will God answer our prayers if we habitually sin against Him?

He will respond to the ones who confess sin and seek Him in prayer.  We seek after Him in order to prevent our prayers from being hindered.

Jonah 3:5-10

Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackclothfrom the greatest of them to the least.

When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:

By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.

God saw their actionsthat they had turned from their evil waysso God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.

James 5:15-16

The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.

1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Prayers are unanswered at times due to a lack of faith (faithlessness).

Hebrews 11:6

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

James 1:6-8

But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.

Your prayer life should consist of faith in Jesus Christ with the remembrance that anything that you ask for in His name and in accordance to His will, He will do it.

Prayers are not answered when they come from a worldly perspective.  God is not a genie that answers prayers just to give you possessions.  Are you praying out of selfishness?  Those that desire earthly things are more in love with the world than they are with Him.

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in ones possessionsis not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

James 4:3

You ask and dont receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Prayer should never be used in a wrongful manner.

Another reason that God will not answer prayers is because of His sovereignty.

Paul prayed for a healing for his affliction, but God responded by not healing him and reminding him that God’s grace was sufficient for him within his own weakness (2 Corinthians 12:6-10).

God reminds us as to what is really important, and that He ultimately, no matter how He responds to our prayers is worthy of our praise and honor through our worship.  God ultimately desires for us to have a close relationship with Him.  How he answers prayer ultimately has everything to do with this.

Isaiah 38:1-6

In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, This is what the Lord says: Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover.’”

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what pleases you. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: Go and tell Hezekiah, This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life. And I will rescue you and this city from the grasp of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city.

Throughout Jesus’ prayer life, God responded to all of His prayers except for one.  Jesus, speaking from his humanity, asked for the father to remove the burden of going to the cross.  God did not answer the prayer.

Mark 14:34-42

He said to them, I am deeply grieved[a] to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.  He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will. Then he came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, Simon, are you sleeping? Couldnt you stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray so that you wont enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. And again he came and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. Then he came a third time and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; lets go. See, my betrayer is near.

Was it possible for God to remove the cup?  Certainly it was; however, even Jesus recognized that there was a greater purpose in what was taking place.  It was according to God’s sovereign will for Jesus Christ to be sacrificed on the cross.  It was necessary for each one of us that Christ would take on the sins of the world for us.  He was destined to die in the manner that He did for us.

When you pray, please consider the intent of your prayers.  Pray with the desire to remove sin from your life and seek forgiveness.  Are you praying from a worldly perspective, or with the desire to seek a godly perspective?  When you pray, are you praying with faith?  Remain faithful to Him in your prayers, and trust that His sovereignty is for your overall good in your life and in the lives of those who you pray for.


Following God’s Standards: Your Guts for His Glory!

A message dated July 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

Many people regard the following passage of Scripture as an important belief, and they probably don’t even know it has biblical application:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

How are they following this Scripture as a tenet?  Well, there is an ongoing emphasis of health and wellness today, and many people exercise on a regular basis and watch what—and how much—they eat for every meal each day.  There are virtually no arguments against following a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle.  Both promote a life of greater energy and endurance.  In order to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to make a firm commitment to do this in order to make it work.  This commitment for good health is setting a standard that is worth keeping.  Good health comes from following this healthy standard.

In order to recognize or acknowledge achievement, you need to a basic set of standards.  From those standards, you have a baseline for performance and expectations, and you can set personal goals to measure your progress.

We are often judged on our performance in many areas of our life.  It certainly has application as to how we perform as Christians—as believers and followers of Jesus Christ.  Our standards are already in place.  The Bible sets the standard, and there are expectations when it comes to the implementation of God’s Word throughout your life.

We must have standards.  Problems for us in life occur when we fail to recognize standards and baselines.  Failing to acknowledge these issues as a believer in Jesus Christ is tragic.  To know who Jesus Christ is and fail to make an effort to live for Jesus Christ is indeed an ongoing tragedy.  Scripture implores believers to stay after it, stay the course, fight the good fight, and I’ll add the words, “don’t give up” and “never give up.” To give up is to give in to Satan’s treachery.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This attitude is a selflessness that means that you will not give in to the flesh or fear the fiery arrows of Satan’s attacks (Psalm 76:3; Ephesians 6:16). Being a believer means trusting in the One who overcomes this opposition.  The shield of faith stops the fiery arrows of the devil.

We can’t give up.

We cannot compromise on God’s standard.

God’s standard requires reverence for who He is.

As we learn more about who He is, we recognize that we must live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

As it is stated in 2 Timothy 4:7, we must KEEP THE FAITH.

For those who don’t know Jesus Christ, failure to acknowledge Him as Lord is nothing short of catastrophic.  It requires a baseline that means you need a Savior, you need forgiveness, and that you desire freedom.

John 8:34b-36 CSB

Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

Once you become a believer, you now have a new set of standards.  You have transformed yourself from being dead in Christ to being alive in Christ.  A new set of standards sets up your progression in Christ and for Christ—but you have to accept and follow those standards.

Without standards, baselines, or whatever you want to call them, there will be no progress…no measurement…no achievement…no success.

Jesus Christ tells us that He is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30), and He refers to Himself in this way because being a Christian today can be very, very difficult.  His standards are clear for us, but the flesh makes our efforts to follow them much more difficult.  In our own efforts, His standards and baselines for achievement are virtually impossible, and that’s because it is not our effort that garners blessings from God nearly as much as it is our faith in Him.  Our desire to live according to his standards requires faith.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith, there cannot be a standard with which we can achieve, grow and excel, because it is not your own achievements, success or accolades that come from serving God—it is because He enables you to be successful!  Your success is His success!

He is glorified when we stand in the gap before Him (Ezekiel 22:30).

He is glorified when we reach out to those who are less fortunate (Deuteronomy 15:11)!

He is glorified when we maintain a lifestyle that honors Him!

He is glorified when we abstain from sex before marriage!

He is glorified when we take a stand for Him!

Jesus Christ wants to see your success as you remain faithful to Him.  He provides the standards, and He helps you with setting your goals and expectations.

Why do we need goals and expectations as believers?  Because we need to find ways to measure our progress.  Progress with what?  Being an effective disciple for Jesus Christ?  Is that a good measurement?  It certainly is.

After Jesus Christ spent time with His disciples, He turned them loose on the world and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  This was after months of training, counseling and personal reflection.  This training established His standard for living.

When it comes to your personal study and preparation, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ means everything in your success.  He enables you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be successful in your efforts to live according to His standards.  Your success means that Jesus Christ will be glorified.

As a reminder—our success does not mean perfection.  Our success is defined by being able to run the race and keeping the faith.  Note that the disciples, and everyone before them and after them, had failures.  Failures happen within the midst of our efforts to strive for success.  Our failures do not define us.  Our success is what people see when we fight the good fight and keep the faith!  Our failures move us to prayer and seeking after Him for forgiveness and mercy.  Our desire for success, and meeting His standards for living, drive us to move forward.

This may come across as something like a motivational speech…and it does…but there is one important difference between this and any other motivational speech.  Most speeches put the focus on yourself and yourself alone in trying to rise above adversity and achieving at a high level.  This message centers on your success BECAUSE of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and that your success means that He will be glorified, and not yourself.

Your living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus Christ, and working in the body of Christ with FOCUS will make a difference in a world that is constantly searching for meaning.

Jesus Christ will be glorified.  It has happened in the past, and it happens today and every day, and it will happen in the future.  It is happening because someone is living according to the standards that He has put forth in His Word.  Someone is standing in the gap.  Someone is reaching out to those less fortunate.  Someone is making the commitment, in spite of opposition or temptation or ridicule, to live a lifestyle that honors Jesus Christ.

Will that someone be you?

Will you be the one that stands in the gap and upholds His standards?

Your study, your prayers, and your reverence for Jesus Christ reflect your commitment to Him.

It takes guts to live for Jesus Christ.

Your guts for His glory.

If you don’t think you have given as much as you can to uphold God’s standards, won’t you make that commitment today?


Why Should Christians Care About the Church?

Today’s message summary of July 2, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church gets criticized in many different ways.  People who attend will often say that it can be boring.  Please understand that, when you love someone, it is not boring.

Other criticisms include that the church is old-fashioned or not modern enough.  Note that the world who never go to church will offer their own critiques of church that people who do attend church will agree with.  Church is not just for Christians–it is for anyone who desires to know more about Jesus Christ.

The church experience should be one where Christians really love the church.

Ephesians 5:23

…for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of the body.

One of the biggest issues about loving the church is missing the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.  We serve a sovereign God.  We have to believe it along with simply stating it.

Ephesians 1:22

And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church.

Colossians 1:18

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

You are to love the church because Jesus Christ leads it.  It is a place to come to learn and grow, and yes, to be sharpened.

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ love the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

The church’s purpose is to help the people of God holy.  It is done through the work of the Holy Spirit, and He is the Teacher within the church about holiness.

If the church does not get involved with you, the relationship between you and the church is only superficial.  Your participation in church allows you to hear the wisdom of others through God’s guidance.

Ephesians 5:29-30

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

Another reason to love the church is that Jesus Christ and the church are one.

Ephesians 5:32

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The church is the bride of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealously, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband–to present a pure virgin to Christ.

The church is like Eve–Adam’s bride.  Eve came out of Adam (Genesis 2:22).

Romans 11:36

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.

When it comes to The Trinity, we have to learn to dance with God.  The Church was designed by God to be a dance studio to teach us to stay in step with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father.  We are dancing with all three.

Dancing and relating to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is no simple thing.  No one gets the hang of it quickly or permanently.  Why?  Because there is always a new step you have to learn and another turn added within the dance.  With all of this, you still will have to follow His leading.

It seems difficult, if not impossible, but the Holy Spirit is a great teacher.

John 14:17

He is the Spirit of truth.  The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

Without God, it seems wrong, or even foolish, and even sometimes downright stupid to dance with Jesus.  But you know better because you know Him and trust in Him.

Do you really know the Holy Spirit and understanding His voice?  His presence?

The church carries us through the pain and darkness of our lives.  It is there to be the light when there is no light.  It is there to provide encouragement.  It is there for us until we learn to dance smoothly with Jesus, and become actively involved in church life.

Once you become more active in church life, then you really will begin to grow.  Not just within the four walls of the building, but when you are living for Christ everywhere you go.

The church is a partial fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth.  It serves as a primary agent of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:13

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

It is in the church the inward disciplines with outward expressions of spiritual maturity take place.  The church is where you learn to be sharpened.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

We begin to grow in the church:

Because one is able to excise the fruit of the Spirit.  It does not mean one is mature, but it is a lifelong process.

Galatians 5:22-23a

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

True transformation determines our growth, but our desire is to look more like Jesus Christ in our everyday actions.