Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

Today’s message summary of June 25, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are in a church, you should be able to see if God is doing something.  Do you hear from Him?  Do you attend church with the desire to seek Him and understand Him?

You should be able to see God, hear Him, and receive from Him something of value.  When you leave church, you should feel fulfillment and blessings.

God has a plan for each one of us.  Your church experience should not be one where you are just moving along with others.

Church and salvation, and church and the saints.  They represent the same thing.  To be a saint in the church because you have been saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Saints are called to serve in the body of Christ.  It’s more than just “walking with Jesus.”  Being called means that you have a purpose to do something in the body of Christ.  You are to be a participant in the body, and not just a spectator.

The church is the meeting place for those who desire to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not just for those who are saved.  It is for those who are looking for Christ and who are willing to, eventually, make a decision to follow Him in a relationship with Christ.  It began with someone speaking to the person and sharing about Christ.

The church is a group of people who have been drawn together by God to do the will of Jesus on earth, the work of Jesus Christ on earth, and to be His witnesses on earth.

John 6:44-45

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets. And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent me.

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

You will be a witness for Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

You can be a witness for God in your flesh, and it can become a matter of pridefulness.  Your true witness for Him will be when the Spirit is in control.  If you are going to function well within the church and be a witness for Jesus Christ, you will need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Every approach within the church should be to constantly evaluate whether or not the endeavors of the church are glorifying Jesus Christ.

The greatest organization on earth is the Church.  A lot of people do not know this, because sometimes the church doesn’t get it right; however, it is the place where God takes the least of us, and raises them up to do great things in His name.

You may have heard these remarks:

“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

“I don’t want to go to church.”

“The church isn’t doing anything for my spiritual life.”

The counter to these thoughts is that your Christian life is meant to provide works that are worth more than wood, hay or stubble.  To avoid church is to avoid functioning within the body of Christ. To not fellowship with other believers is more of a fleshly love than that of an agape love that Jesus desires for you to have.  Jesus wants you to have the heart of a servant and the desire to serve others, especially in this world where people feel that they are entitled to receive things.

When you come to church, everything won’t always be “nice.” Sometimes, you will need to be exposed to “iron sharpening iron.”  God’s Word is meant to convict and compel you to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”

The church may indeed be a philosophy, an institution, a culture and an enterprise, but it does not mean that people see it as a place where they desire to seek and follow Jesus Christ.  That was what the original intent of the church, and that is what God desires for His people to see in today’s church.

A church has to function in today’s society in much the same way as a business.  The church is dealing with spiritual matters, but it also takes on a business venture, where its members are willing to undertake new and risky projects and have active participation in projects.

We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  The church in action is a church that does good works in His name.

You can be a witness of the many things that only God can do if you are a participant in the church.


Father of Fathers

Today’s message summary of June 18, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

As a 31-year old, I can’t tell you very much about my biological father.  I have only met him three different times.  I don’t know much about him or his family.  On my mother’s side, I can only speak about her and my grandmother, and that is how much I know about my family history.

With that said, the genealogy in the bible has a purpose to identify lineages.

In Genesis, there are genealogies listed that start with Adam and his lineage, and those that follow lead to the promise made to David about the coming Messiah.

Matthew 1:1-17

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

This passage is a good one to examine for Father’s Day as it shows how fathers were preparing other fathers over time.

The point of this message is that your heavenly Father loves you more than your earthly father.  He will never fail you—in spite of your own disobedience to Him.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an example to all of us.

There is not information within these passages to explain the behaviors of some of these fathers. We don’t know if they were living in righteousness or holiness.

The Scriptures do identify that each of these persons does lead to Jesus Christ.  Some of these individuals we do know of, such as Abraham, Boaz and David.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Abraham, in the Christian faith, is recognized as the Father of Faith…but was he a good father?

If you look at his life closely, you would see that he lied often and even committed adultery (with Hagar).  He was far from perfect.  Abraham, at the behest of Sarah, abandoned Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-13

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

If it was not for God’s instruction to send his son off, he would have kept him there.  Out of faith and obedience to God, he listened.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

We are reminded that faith and obedience were most important in the relationship between God and Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sinful behavior.

Of the women who were involved within these genealogies, many of them were outsiders.  In Matthew 11:3, Tamar is referenced.  She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law.  Judah, the father-in-law, was hardly an innocent victim.  It was contrary to the law of God.  We also see Rahab’s name in the genealogy.  She was a prostitute, yet she was praised as a woman of faith who turned out to be David’s grandmother.  Another person, Ruth, is listed.  She was a person of honor, but she was also a Gentile, a Moabite, an outsider.  Moabites are descendants of Lot.

Genesis 19:30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

You see how God moved past the sins of his people and brings different people into the lineage of Christ.

Matthew also wanted us to remember about David and Bathsheba through their adulterous union that led to Solomon.  Uriah, who was a godly man and a friend of David, was one of his most trusted men.  There is great irony in how David, because of his adultery, would have Uriah murdered and try to cover up the relationship.  Remember, God said that David was “a man after His own heart.”  Bathsheba is not mentioned within the genealogy in Matthew, and it was more a point of shame with David.  Nathan’s words of prophecy held true with the turmoil that followed David throughout the rest of his life.  While David failed miserably as a father, he still loved his children.  He still loved his son Absalom, even though Absalom was trying to kill him.

2 Samuel 18:31-33

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Despite David’s sin, he loved his children.  He was willing to trade his life for them.

Solomon, featured in the genealogy, had many, many, many, many wives.  God had declared, of course, that man should have only one wife.

Here is a prophetic verse in Deuteronomy that actually refers to Solomon and his choices:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Solomon’s heart turned from God because of the women he allowed in his life.

Solomon’s wisdom was evident and apparent to everyone, but he was flawed in his fleshliness.

Of the genealogy leading to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that emerges is God’s grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  The fathers listed here were both good and evil; however, God’s grace was present throughout the lives of each of these people.

It was all part of God’s sovereign plan.

Note that Mary, listed in this genealogy, was a descendant of David.  Jesus was still the heir to the throne of David, and Joseph was His earthly father, who was willing to be obedient to God and take on the responsibility to raise Him.

Single mothers:  Are you helping the child in filling the void in his life by ministering to him and help him recognize Christ as the Lord of his life?

Fathers:  You will fail your children and even disappoint them, but it is an opportunity to display the gospel before them.  For all have sinned and fall short of His glory.  Your humble approach will show them that you are a father that unconditionally loves the children and lives according to the commands of God.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Bind them on your heart always;

    tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;


Jesus is in Our Midst

Today’s message summary of June 11, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

It is important to note that God is the one who empowers and strengthens us.  He is in our midst with even only two of us let alone a small group (Matthew 18:20).

Jesus is in our midst, and with that realization, all fear disappears.  We want to see Him and hear from Him as we recognize His presence.

Believers gather together in the name of Jesus.  He promises that He never leaves us or forsakes us, and it is a promise for us now and in the future.

There has to be a reason for His presence.  He promises that He will be with those who desire to seek Him.  We may not physically see Him, but we believe He is present because of faith.

Jesus informed His disciples that He would not be with them much longer, but told them that He would always be with them to the end of the age.

He wants us to know that the prayer and actions of two people is more powerful than that of a thousand people, and He tells us that He is with us.

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.

Genesis 4:26

A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh.  At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

The heart of the believer has to come to a place to acknowledge His presence, and determine if he or she is in accord with God’s will.  If God is in the midst of what you are doing, He is going to speak to you, affirm you, guide you, and even correct you.

Among two people, you can have cooperation, but you can also have conflict and even destruction.  Even a small group can have trouble in accomplishing God’s will if there are differences within the group.

Malachi 3:16-18

At the time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord and had high regard for his name. “They will be mine,” says the Lord of Armies, “my own possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Those who fear the Lord talk with each other. If the conversation look who is in the midst making corrections.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask Godwho gives to all generously and ungrudginglyand it will be given to him.

With God in our midst, He will speak to us, and we need to train ourselves to listen to Him.

Wisdom is needed.  God is in the conversation.

Guidance is needed.  Jesus is there.

Understanding is needed.  Jesus is there.

1 Corinthians 14:33

…since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

God is in the midst to bring about order and not to create disorder.  He provides guidance for order and proper function.

Proverbs 16:9

A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

Planning is necessary, but God is the one who must affirm the plans.  We are to be sensitive to His wisdom and guidance through the process, including making changes when and where they should be made.  As we listen to Him and remain focused upon Him, He will make us shine in the process.

Psalm 37:33

The Lord will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

Think of what Jesus means to you in your life.

The name of Jesus is a name of power and authority.  He is the one who will clean up your life and order your steps.

The name of Jesus represents the Godhead.  In that name, the fullness of the Godhead (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is present.  They are all present and all of them are there when we call upon His name.  He is there to protect you…His investment.

Colossians 1:9

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Micah 5:4-5

He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord his God. They will live securely, for them his greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. He will be their peace. When Assyria invades our land, when it marches against our fortresses, we will raise against it seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men.

1 Peter 5:4

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

A group of servants within a church or organization may call a meeting, but it should be the desire of the group to have access to God.

We are to desire God’s presence, to hear His voice, and to receive His guidance. We want His favor and His peace.

No one gets to God’s presence without Jesus; therefore, we gather together in the name of Jesus.

Romans 5:1-2

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

John 14:6-7

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

When we come together, Jesus is with us, whether it is two people or a hundred people.

We can do whatever God has purposed for us to do (no matter the number of people).

Nehemiah learned this very lesson.  He succeeded in spite of a small group and opposition.

Faith says Jesus is with us, even though we don’t physically see Him.

He has promised to be with us.

He reveals that He is with us.

John 20:19-23

When it was evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Jesus is in the midst of us.  He is there, and we have to trust in it.  The promise to believers in Jesus Christ is that when you meet, He is there.

  • All authority and power is in His name (Matthew 28:18).
  • Every knee shall bow to His name (Philippians 2:10).
  • He has a claim to ownership of everything within the meeting (His Lordship).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is working in you both according to his good purpose.


Doing the Work of The Lord

Today’s message summary of June 4, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If your focus is on the work of God, it will change you.  God should come first in your life.

If there is a lack of focus, there will be a hole in your life that cannot be filled by material things.

You can be confused over those things that you deem to be priorities.

Over time, God’s work can get lost within the course of life.  You can get so busy living and lose track of what is most important; yet, God has a plan for you each and every day.

The word of God is the most important part of your life.

Haggai 1:1-11

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 

The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much

but harvested little.

You eat

but never have enough to be satisfied.

You drink

but never have enough to become drunk.

You put on clothes

but never have enough to get warm.

The wage earner puts his wages

into a bag with a hole in it.

The Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account,

the skies have withheld the dew

and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought

on the fields and the hills,

on the grain, new wine, olive oil,

and whatever the ground yields,

on man and beast,

and on all that your hands produce.

 

Haggai’s words to the people of Judah was a revealing of their weakness toward the work of God.

  • Carelessness about the matters of God
  • Their sincerity concerning the things of God is small
  • Their leisure time was more important than God’s work
  • Their personal comfort was more important

Ezra 5:1-2

But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.

When you see and hear that God is at work, it places an expectation from Him upon your life.  As you remain obedient to Him, He will affirm your efforts and even provide the support that you need in service to Him.

Ezra 6:14

So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.

Ezra 7:5-6

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, Aaron the chief priests son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him.

 

The workforce was made up of everyone who had returned from exile.  Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they still rebuilt the altar at its original site (Ezra 3:3).

The people overcame their fear in order to obey God.

Haggai points out the weakness of God’s people and what causes them to be distracted.  What are the distractions in your life that prevent you from serving and honoring God?

Haggai 1:2

“The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”

  • You can see it, but you won’t do the work
  • You can hear about it, but will not do the work.
  • You can receive from God the ability to do what is needed, but still choose not to do it.

 

The conflict here is your comfort versus God’s comfort (Haggai 1:3).

When is the right time to do God’s will and be obedient to Him?  The right time is when you see it, hear about it, and have received from God the ability to do it.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Haggai 1:5, 7

Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”

You need to give consideration as to your ways in life.  You need to go over how you make your decisions and reflect deeply upon how you are spending your time.  He wants you to be thoughtful as to your ways.

God challenges you with your way of thinking here.  Before God asks you to do something, you need to consider how you are going to respond to Him.  He may give you something that will pull you out of your comfort zone.

God will enable you to do many things in your life if you simply remain obedient to His will.  Take pleasure in it, you please Him and honor Him, and God will honor you.

Are you taking care of God’s business?  It remains as a priority in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Haggai gave words of encouragement only after the people were willing to obey.

Haggai 1:12-14

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lords messenger, delivered the Lords message to the people, I am with you”—this is the Lords declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God.

Once the people began to fear the Lord, their own fear to proceed had subsided.  The people had to see God for themselves.

God’s message is “I am with you.”

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Haggai 2:3

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest.  Be strong, all you people of the land”this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you”the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

To build the temple was going to require strength. God’s encouragement was to say “be strong” three times.

When the Spirit of God is with you, there is no need for fear.  He will enable you to complete the task at hand.


What Do You Come to Church For?

Today’s message summary of May 28, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Why do people go to church?  Is it a possession that one holds onto?  Ultimately, every person needs to understand what the real purpose of church is.  We can lose our love for the Lord while being involved with church for a number of other reasons.  Somewhere, the church of Ephesus lost its first love…the love of Jesus Christ.

When one comes to church, one should be coming to see, hear and receive.

When you see what God is doing in the lives of His people, you can rejoice!

When you come to hear God’s Word, you come with the understanding that He teaches and also corrects you.  (Some will not come because they do not want to be corrected.)  God wants you to know that you are on a journey with Him, and His teaching will help you along as you go.

God wants you to receive Him.  He desires to catch your attention and hold it with the desire to hear Him speak to you and guide you.

You should want to see what God is doing…not only in your life, but in the bigger picture.  While there is often a focus on numbers in the church, God has done many great things with just a small number of people.

Church is not a place for gossip.  That is the wrong reason to attend a church.  The words reflected upon should be His words.

You should want to hear from God about the matters concerning you and your life, but also what He expects of you.

You should want to receive from God.  He wants you to receive His power, strength and faith (confidence) to do what He is asking of you.

There is a reason to come to church.  God desires to see you continue to grow within the church in these areas.  He wants you to have faith and the ability to step out when things are unknown or unclear.  That is where we see God’s greatest work and accomplishments.

People may argue that John the Baptist did not have a church, but John did indeed have a ministry, even if it was out in the wilderness.

Matthew 11:7-10

As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes?  Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. This is the one it is written about:  Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.

The wilderness, where John’s “church” was located, was far from town, or what many would consider to be the comfort of home.  Your going to church should be like going to a place where God’s word teaches and convicts you to a place where you learn, grow and develop a desire to fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Church should be a place of solitary for you.  The primary focus should be on Jesus Christ.  It should be free from restraints.  It fulfills a desire of quietness in your spirit.  Church can be your desert place (the wilderness), where you are alone with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Church is to be a place of education–teaching needs to be taking place, and effective teaching does take some time.

Your mind, within the church, is to be separated from everything in life and focused on what God is saying, understanding what you are hearing, and what you are receiving from God.  What you receive is what you are going to leave with.

If you’re always in a rush, you won’t be able to hear God speak to you the way He desires to.  Church is the place where you can slow yourself down and put aside those things that can distract you from Him.

A reed could grow twelve feet tall and be paper thin, and when the wind blows, it just lays down.  It goes with the wind.

The wind, represented here by religion and government, could have caused John to be indecisive or to be shaken.  To waver or to show doubt can cause one to be unsteady.

The religion was the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The government was King Herod and his sinful life.

John stands against these two powerful forces.

Note that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be upheld within the church setting.  It’s not enough just to call yourself a Christian.   It is about living as God calls you to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Complaints about the church:

  1. It’s not relevant.

John was relevant according to his message.

  1. It lasts too long.

How long do you sit through a movie?

  1. Church is boring.

Is it boring because it is not what you want it to be?

  1. I don’t like the way church is being run.

It’s your place to determine how church is being run.

  1. It’s the same routine each Sunday.

It is all in your approach to being educated in the Word.  It is more important to see Christ in your life,                  and understand that He never changes.

 

Psalm 122:1

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

 

Psalm 73:16-25

When I tried to understand all this,

it seemed hopeless

until I entered Gods sanctuary.

Then I understood their destiny.

Indeed, You put them in slippery places;

You make them fall into ruin.

How suddenly they become a desolation!

They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

Like one waking from a dream,

Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.

When I became embittered

and my innermost being was wounded,

I was stupid and didnt understand;

I was an unthinking animal toward You.

Yet I am always with You;

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with Your counsel,

and afterward You will take me up in glory.

Who do I have in heaven but You?

And I desire nothing on earth but You.

 

The church should be providing information to you about how to live life in these perilous times.

We go to church to hear the message that God has to give to us.

 

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

Prepare the way for the Lord;

make His paths straight! 

John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

 

Romans 10:14-17

But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!  But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.


Prayer: What Difference Does It Make? (1 John 5:14) [Part 7 of a Series]

Today’s message summary of May 21, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Today, we will discuss prayer but we also want to be able to learn how to listen to God in the midst of prayer.

Elijah went into hiding because he learned that his life was in danger because of his efforts to remove the idols of the day from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel.  There, the Lord spoke to him…

1 Kings 19:9-18

He entered a cave there and spent the night.

Elijahs Encounter with the Lord

Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?

He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.

Then He said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lords presence.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, he replied, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and theyre looking for me to take my life.

Then the Lord said to him, Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram.  You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.  Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu.  But I will leave 7,000 in Israelevery knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.

There are many points here, but we will cover the following point relevant to listening to God when we pray:

Identifying God’s voice.  Many of us can recognize specific voices, such as a mother, brothers or sisters, or even children and parents, and that is because of your personal knowledge and exposure.  In contrast, we often can struggle hearing God’s voice.  Please note that God has never stopped speaking to his church.  Our struggle is the amount of time we spend trying to hear Him.  We face many distractions that keep us from hearing Him.  Consider that Elijah, a very devout man, was in a place where he had become frightful even though he was a man full of faith and had spoken to God on a regular basis.  You would not necessarily expect that he would struggle here as he did.

God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  We can ask ourselves the same question.  Even when we are speaking to God, sometimes we cannot hear him because of how our fears can drown out the voice of God.

Can you identify the voice of God?  Are you able to decipher His voice over the voices of others?

John 10:2-5

The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they dont recognize the voice of strangers.

The sheep know His voice.  If you know Jesus Christ, you can identify His voice.  It is often, however, that we, as His sheep, will willingly listen to strangers that lead us to sin.  Other voices that are contrary to God will try to drown out God’s voice.  We can often be easily distracted.  We need to be intentional in pursuing the very things that God directs us to in order to succeed.

We can hear the voice of God actually answering previously unanswered prayers.

Colossians 3:15-16

And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

And dont get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ.

What is really in your heart?  Is it the Word of God or is it something else?  What permeates from you?  Is the Word of God something that comes naturally for you?

When you hear a voice of condemnation or one that promotes depression, it is not the voice of God.  We are to decipher those voices of the world versus those that come from God.

How do we know when God is communicating to us?  In biblical times, God did so in many different ways.  He can use these means even today.  He communicates to us through our friends or even our worldly co-workers.  In order to hear what He is saying, we must be attentive to this communication and live intentionally for Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:6-9

For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may reside in me.

Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

These are three supernatural and spontaneous events that occurred.  Notice that Elijah is trying to hear God’s voice through all of the noise but it was only when things were quiet and still was when he heard it.

It is important for each one of you, in our busyness, that we have to be still and focus on His voice.  It is in our quiet moments when we can hear Him best.

When we are praying to Him, what would it look like if we were silent?  What you will hopefully hear is your quiet conversation with Him and His response as you learn to read and meditate on His Word on a daily basis.


Mom’s Role in the Family (A Virtuous Woman)

Today’s message summary of May 14, 2017 from Elaine Brown:

Women are beautiful, unique and loving.  They have a very important role within the family, and God has appointed them to a role within it.

The design of the family is a male (man), female (woman–helper), and sons and daughters, who are brought up and mentored by their parents.

The man is the head administrator (CEO) of the family, while the woman is the COO of the household.

In contrast, society today has redefined family to different definitions that include a single mother or father, or even two fathers, two mothers, or a blended family.  When did this all start to happen?  It was a generational shift that began in the days of Woodstock.  The mantra of the day was “do your own thing.”  The misuse of alcohol and drugs, and protests became more prevalent.  Each of these things was a part of what became a moral decline as a society, and a gradual breakdown of today’s family.

Here is a startling statistic:  1,415,955 children were born out of wedlock in 2003.  It is hard to know if there are men involved with these children or not, but it is hard to ignore the generational impact of what happened a short time ago. In today’s census (2016), there are 10 million single mothers that are heading their families.  Daycare is now much more prevalent because of the need for mothers to work to earn a living, but the children, who are outside of the home for up to eleven hours a day, are faced with less time within a family unit.

The breakdown of the family has a profound effect on the emotional well-being of the parent and the child.  The need for a strong figure in the family, a mother, is extremely important, and God speaks of this woman in Proverbs 31:10-31:

Proverbs 31:10-31 NLT

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

    She is more precious than rubies.

Her husband can trust her,

    and she will greatly enrich his life.

She brings him good, not harm,

    all the days of her life.

She finds wool and flax

    and busily spins it.

She is like a merchants ship,

    bringing her food from afar.

She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household

    and plan the days work for her servant girls.

She goes to inspect a field and buys it;

    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She is energetic and strong,

    a hard worker.

She makes sure her dealings are profitable;

    her lamp burns late into the night.

Her hands are busy spinning thread,

    her fingers twisting fiber.

She extends a helping hand to the poor

    and opens her arms to the needy.

She has no fear of winter for her household,

    for everyone has warm clothes.

She makes her own bedspreads.

    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

Her husband is well known at the city gates,

    where he sits with the other civic leaders.

She makes belted linen garments

    and sashes to sell to the merchants.

She is clothed with strength and dignity,

    and she laughs without fear of the future.

When she speaks, her words are wise,

    and she gives instructions with kindness.

She carefully watches everything in her household

    and suffers nothing from laziness.

Her children stand and bless her.

    Her husband praises her:

There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,

    but you surpass them all!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;

    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

Reward her for all she has done.

    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 

This woman is one who fears (has reverence of) the Lord.  You may not have any children, but women are natural nurturers.  A woman with strong character is well-respected, and has the desire to please God.

The appearance of the woman is not mentioned.  It is much less important than her outlook on life and how she remains obedient to God.  You are a virtuous woman as you seek to please God.  God provides you with the strength and wisdom to accomplish many things.

Fearing God is having a heart to really know Him.  It’s more than just your feelings–it really is about learning more about Him and making Him the priority in your life.  It is about asking Him where He wants you to be, and leaning upon Him for strength, wisdom and encouragement.

If you are seeking God with all of your heart, you are a virtuous woman.  In order to break these generational issues, there has to be a teaching of the youth as to how to live in this manner:

Deuteronomy 6:1-11

This is the commandthe statutes and ordinancesthe Lord your God has instructed me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess.  Do this so that you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statutes and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, and so that you may have a long life.  Listen, Israel, and be careful to follow them, so that you may prosper and multiply greatly, because Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied.

Needless to say, if there is no teaching, there is a lack of knowledge that is being passed on.  God provides the wisdom and knowledge to you in order to be successful, and that information needs to be passed on to the children.

The key to this teaching is a constant exposure to God’s Word–day and night–with prayer, family devotion time, and reflection upon what He is saying to you.

Mothers also teach their children by their words and their actions.  Children look to mothers for guidance and will follow it.

Even within a single-parent household, God can bring along others who will help within the relational development of the children and the family.

The virtuous woman referenced in Proverbs 31 had a number of duties (!).  She accomplished a great deal and worked inside and outside the household.  She had to be a very good planner, well organized, and be very diligent in running her household.  Her family was a priority of the day, and the additional things that she had to accomplish were done after hours, and she used good judgment.  These are godly character traits of a virtuous women.

Philippians 4:13

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

A woman who fears the Lord is worthy of praise.

If you fix your heart to please the Lord, you are a virtuous woman.