Seeing What Jesus Wants You to See

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

The world we live in tries to captivate you as to what it wants you to see.  The movies, the news, the rallies all want to convey something for you to see.  With all of this, recognize that Jesus wants you to see Him through it all.

God will guard your heart in order for you to see what He knows that you are to see.  We are easily distracted by the matters of life, and as a result, the main purpose of focusing on Jesus Christ.  Focusing on Him and giving the matters of your life to Him will show you that He is there to take care of all of those things.

We can be easily distracted.  One of Jesus’ disciples was that way.  When Jesus was arrested, the other disciples reacted to what was happening by fleeing, as well.

What you are to see in all of this is that Jesus taught them that there will be distractions:

Matthew 16:21 (NIV)

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

God brings you along one step at a time to allow for progression, but He does not allow you to know more than what is necessary.  With his disciples, He held back information until it was time for them to know and understand what would happen.  He relayed to them that He would remain present with them.

In another statement, Jesus told the disciples a little more about what would happen:

Matthew 17:22-23 (NIV)

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

He once again reminds them that he will die but will be raised–come forth from the grave.

Matthew 20:17-19 NIV

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!

Here was a little more information, but note the emphasis in all statements that “he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 26:21 (NIV)

And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Now the word of betrayal comes back to where the disciples were.  Note that we betray Him when we don’t follow Him or teach our children the Word.  It happens more that we would care to admit.

Jesus was questioned around the table, “Surely not I, Lord? (Matthew 26:22)”

He never publicly states who will betray him (never uses the name Judas).  He knows who he is, but the others do not know.

John 13:18-19

I’m not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: The one who eats My bread has raised his heel against Me. I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I assure you: Whoever receives anyone I send receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

Only by the grace of God are you able to overcome the flesh, and all temptation, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable–who can understand it?  I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.

In time, God will always show you what you have need of.  Don’t rush Him or have Him share something that you’re not ready for or even equipped to hear.  He knows how much you can bear and He protects your heart.


Not Facing the Second Death (Revelation 20:6)

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

We see death everyday.  Death reigns in this world.  We see this because Adam sinned against God in disobedience, and as a result, all who have followed Adam would pay the penalty of sin, and that is to die.  We all will die eventually.  It is inescapable.

The other dilemma in this is not knowing when it will happen.  It happens to all regardless of wealth or race.  Death is the great equalizer.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in Gods hands. People dont know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they liveafter that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead dont know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun.

All other religions try to address the problem that death presents.

The question to pose here:  Will we rise again?

The believer who is in Christ will not escape the first death but will escape the second one.

Please make a note of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was unique in that he was the only one who did not die a second time.  All of the others, according to Scripture, who were raised up also died once again.

Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

For those who were raised in the first resurrection, they were blessed.  There were many blessings of happiness as noted in the beatitudes:

Matthew 5:1-11

When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying:

The poor in spirit are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Those who mourn are blessed,

for they will be comforted.

The gentle are blessed,

for they will inherit the earth.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed,

for they will be filled.

The merciful are blessed,

for they will be shown mercy.

The pure in heart are blessed,

for they will see God.

The peacemakers are blessed,

for they will be called sons of God.

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.

I believe that John, in the Revelation text, is conveying that there will be great happiness and joy with the first resurrection.

Revelation 14:13

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

We will be raised with a sanctified, holy body, and in that resurrection we will be made perfect with a body that will never deteriorate.  Nothing unclean will ever enter the kingdom of God.  The first resurrection is for God’s people.  The second death has no power or effect over them.

What is the second death?  It is an eternal death.  If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you will receive a body that will be suitable for eternal damnation.

Revelation 20:13-15

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

This means there are some here today that will die and also “die again.”

Revelation 21:8

But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liarstheir share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

The two deaths differ.  The first is physical, and the second is spiritual.  It is eternal and filled with torment.

Revelation 20:10

The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Lord gives a warning to the church about all of this:

Revelation 2:11

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.

In Revelation 20:6, the passage notes that all who follow Jesus Christ are referred to as priests.  Priests, in the Old Testament, were the ones appointed to speaking and carrying out the duties and responsibilities to the people.  We are all called priests, which was a high calling, as we are saints of God who believe.

It is true that we will be raised again after death, but the question is where will we find ourselves.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ will escape the second death, and will fellowship with Jesus Christ for all eternity.


Live for Jesus Christ with PASSION!

Today’s message of April 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

There are plenty of messages that reach out to those who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ.  I sense that there is a great need, however, to encourage believers to get better and stronger in their own faith.  It is too often that believers in Jesus Christ have poor growth and development, or even irregular or inconsistent growth spurts that may build up in one area but remain inadequate in others.  If we can show and help people, including non-believers, to see that being a believer in Jesus Christ is attractive and an admirable attribute, then we can leave it up to the Holy Spirit to prick the hearts, minds and souls of those who are on the fence to get off and declare Christ as Lord in their lives.

This past weekend, we explored how believers can take the necessary steps to live for Jesus Christ with PASSION.  It involved self-examination and self-evaluation, and it gives recognition that you are a special creation in God’s eyes—He knew of you and all about you before you were even conceived—and that you have your own uniqueness with God-given talents, gifts and abilities.  When you recognize your true purpose in Jesus Christ, you are on your way to serving Him and glorifying Him with your greatest potential being realized!  He wants you to be successful in your efforts to move people to see the grace and glory of Christ in everything you do!  This PASSION is the realization that you are truly living according to His purpose, and you are unstoppable!  Satan can try to slow you down, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, He sustains you, protects you, and gives you the ability to overcome adversity and shine before others.

So what is this PASSION?  It is the realization of a fulfilling life in Christ.  It is the ongoing effort to be the best that you can be in Christ.  He wants you to grow and learn through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.  All of this, however, begins with you:

Your desire to live for Christ.

Your desire to learn more about Christ and your relationship with Him.

Your desire to get involved in this thing called the Great Commission, and even if it means doing things outside of the box or challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Passion describes the height of emotion, and it reflects a powerful emotional connection to Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit facilitates this connection with encouragement, reinforcement and guidance.  A passion-filled believer serves Jesus Christ with the confidence of one who knows who he or she is in Christ, and is readily available.  When Isaiah received the call and prompting from the Lord, his response was “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  A passion-filled believer accepts the call and goes forth to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Do you have the passion for Jesus Christ that He really desires for you to have?  If you are confident in your abilities and are aware of the talents and gifts that God has given you, then you are certainly on your way.  If you lack the drive and energy that it takes to truly shine before others as you live your ministry, consider that you can find this passion if you truly seek the Lord and consider the following requisites of being a passion-filled believer.

The P in PASSION represents principled.

Principled believers adhere to a lifestyle that honors God and keeps His commands.

They rely upon the wisdom and words of God for daily living.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

The A in PASSION represents the abundant life.

The ultimate goal of every person, believer or not, is to live an abundant life.  A life of abundance has nothing to do with money.  It has everything to do with living in Christ’s power and energy as you serve him each and every day, and the joy that you experience knowing that you are living life to the fullest for Him!

John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

What is the abundant life?  It depends on how you look at it.  The non-believer, or even some believers, may associate abundance with wealth or riches.  That is not God’s definition of abundance.  He wants you to have a life that overflows with God’s presence in every aspect of your existence.  He wants you to experience the completeness of life according to His will and purpose for you.  The effect of an abundant life will be the blessings of life that God will show you because of your faithfulness to Him.

When you get right down to it, the only thing that keep us from living the abundant life is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ over the enemy.  The enemy is Satan, who is described in John 10:10 as the one who seeks to kill and destroy, but God’s power and ability overcomes anything and everything that Satan can do.  The key to living the abundant life is to resist Satan and to seek and remain in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

James 4:7 NIV

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You are worth so much more in your relationship with Jesus Christ!  In order to experience the abundant life, you will have to throw caution to the wind and life a life of faithfulness in trusting the words of Jesus Christ.  He wants so much more for you!  A passion-filled believer lives with purpose, and experiences the abundant life in Christ!

The first S in PASSION represents Spirit-filled.

The true abundant life can only be achieved by the believer in Jesus Christ.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that enables you to achieve this abundance and live a passion-filled existence!

Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is instantaneous upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, but the Spirit does not turn the believer into a mind-numbed robot.  You have to allow the Spirit to be in control in order to offset your own fleshly nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Being Spirit-filled means successful living in reverence and service for Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit teaches believers how to live a Christlike existence, and His lessons are invaluable as He sanctifies with His presence.

Being Spirit-filled gives you the ability to live a life a passion for Jesus Christ:

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  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.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The second S in PASSION stands for sanctified.

The Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is a sanctifying presence.  Sanctification is the combination of the believer’s growth in the likeness of Christ. It is the accumulation and application of God’s wisdom and knowledge from none other than Jesus Christ, who A. B. Simpson refers to as “The Sanctifier.”  Jesus Christ proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the One who will teach and remind believers of the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:26 ESV

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit works within you from the moment of your conversion in recognition that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.  It is best described as an ongoing cleansing process as you put off the old and grow in your new life in Jesus Christ.

Sanctification is what God desires for your life.  You cannot live a life of passion in Christ without sanctification, because it is the essence of an obedient lifestyle.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Sanctification does not mean a life of perfection, but it does mean that you desire to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  It means that the believer desires a greater faith walk and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and both of these requires a humble, teachable role within the presence of the Spirit.

The I in PASSION represents being an influencer.

Sharing your faith, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, is influential.  The words spoken are given with conviction and in righteousness to those who hear them.  A passion-filled believer is speaking in accord with the will of God, who desires for every person to enter into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

There is a difference between an influencer and a coercer.  An influencer shows the love of Christ in their speech to others.  One who coerces is not really allowing the Spirit to work in the life of the hearer.  The words spoken are to reflect the love and concern of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

An influencer provides words of wisdom and knowledge about not just the gospel, but everything that is beneficial.

Proverbs 9:9 ESV

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The O in PASSION represents being obedient to God and His Word.

Being obedient to God means loving Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), and it includes an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:15 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

1 John 5:3 ESV  

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Loving God and obedience to Him are synonymous.  You cannot do one without the other.  A passion-filled believer strives to live in faithfulness and trust in the Word each day.

And finally, the N in PASSION represents being a new creation in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ’s sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit transforms you as a new creation each day.  Your actions of reading, studying, meditating on His Word and living out a faithful life in Jesus Christ is a constant life transition that will also show the growth and development as a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 HCSB

From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

This ongoing “newness” in Jesus Christ is an ongoing development.  Our challenge is to remain close to Him, and in our closeness, obedience and service to Him, He will continue to renew us as we strive for holiness.  He continues to provide us with the ability to resist sin and those things that block our ongoing transformation to a place of freedom and righteousness in His name.  We are being made new every day in Jesus Christ!  A passion-filled believer puts nothing above the importance of fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Principled.

Abundant Life.

Spirit-filled.

Sanctified.

Influencer.

Obedient to God and His Word.

New Creation.

Each of these requisites will lead to a believer truly living a passion-filled, abundant life in service for Jesus Christ.  If you are ready to take your relationship with Jesus Christ to the next level, He only wants you to take steps of faith towards Him, and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit will continue to work in you and sanctify you in your efforts to serve Him.  He will affirm you with blessings and enable you to endure any opposition.  You will become a positive influence before others as a light in a dark world, and an encourager to those who need it most.  As the Holy Spirit fills and sanctifies you, it is only a matter of time before you can live a passion-filled life in Jesus Christ!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Judas and His Heart

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

What was it that caused Judas to lose his heart for Jesus?

It is possible that Judas was originally drawn to Jesus because of his view of Him as the Jewish Messiah–believing in Him to be as such–and expecting Him to be successful as Judas would share in the victory of the Messiah?  In other words, he likely had the wrong view of Jesus.

John 6:15

Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.

This passage was disappointing to Judas because he was relying upon Jesus’ success in order for him to be able to realize his own ambition to be someone.

His second disappointment was when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign.  The sign would seal Jesus’ claim as the true Messiah.  When Jesus was challenged, He did nothing to substantiate His claim to be the Messiah.

Matthew 16:1-4

The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.

Luke 11:16

And others, as a test, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.

Mark 8:11-12

The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, demanding of Him a sign from heaven to test Him. But sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you: No sign will be given to this generation!

Judas had struggles about who Jesus was throughout the period of ministry as he expected that Jesus would emerge as the Messiah, but it didn’t happen in the way that he expected that it would.  Jesus would not show a sign from Himself or from heaven.  Note that the Pharisees and Sadducees had already observed Jesus healing others, but that wasn’t sufficient for them.  They wanted to see a sign from heaven.

Are there any similarities in this view by Judas and how you may also have the same struggles with knowing Jesus?  It is not about merely knowing Jesus based upon what someone tells you, but rather that you get to know who Jesus is for yourself.  You have to develop a relationship with Him to get to know who he really is.

When Jesus backed away, Judas became more disenchanted with who Jesus was.

I also believe that today there are many people in Christian circles are also disenchanted with what they see today.

The challenge for everyone is to believe in Jesus Christ and be obedient to Him.  Judas lacked the ability to have faith and love in Jesus Christ.

How many of us are willing to dig deeply into His Word and to live in faith for Him in obedience.

Judas became more and more disenchanted in his heart.  His confidence in Jesus may have been adversely affected when John the Baptist was beheaded (Mark 6:24).  Jesus would not meet the public challenges of the Pharisees.

Two things that Jesus lacked:  faith and love.

He lacked the faith to believe what he had been taught and what he had already experienced with Jesus.

He lacked a love for the person of Jesus through the relationship that had been established for over two years.

At some point, Judas began to see Jesus differently than the other apostles saw Him.

1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.

With this, Jesus could only watch and see what Judas would do.

Part of our struggle with Judas was that he was born to be the traitor that he was.  If that was the case, Judas had no choice to do what he did.

If Judas was chosen merely to be a traitor, this would make God responsible for the betrayal.  If God is responsible for the betrayal, then Judas’ act would exonerate him from all blame.

From God’s point of view:  Because He is God, He knows all things.  Even the heart of each person, and the very intent of the hearts of each one.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He knew Himself what was in man.

Judas was given every opportunity to be true to Jesus in the same way as the other apostles.  Was he not empowered, along with the other apostles, to teach, heal and cast out demons? (Mark 3:14-17, 19)

Judas was chosen to learn and act for Jesus, but he chose to act for himself—a different way of living:

  • A life of a thief (John 12:4-6).
  • A person who was going to gain for himself (Matthew 26:14-16). (Satan had not entered into Judas at this time.)
  • The love of money was real in Judas’ heart (1 Timothy 6:16).

Judas did not speak with the motivation of the perfume being sold to help the poor (John 12:4-6).  He spoke only in selfish terms here.  This was another indicator of a series of bad decisions that he made.

Satan entered into Judas at the Last Supper (John 13:27).

John 13:27

After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Therefore Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.”

Betrayal can come in many different forms.

1 Timothy 6:9-10

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Judas reveals one can be knowledgeable of Jesus, associate with other believers, be in the church, and be in service for Jesus, but NOT have Jesus in their heart and Lord and Savior.


Teachers are Leaders

If you take the time to think about the impact that teachers have had in your life, you may be surprised.  But one thing that you can conclude in such an exercise is that you are the person you are, by and large, because of the influence of teachers throughout your life.

For me, I can point to eight different teachers throughout my life that had an impact on my educational experience.

Mrs. Jozsa was my seventh grade English teacher at St. Henry Junior High School in Cleveland.  She was an interesting person with a lot of character, and she was a character, too.  What I learned from her was that I didn’t know as much English as I thought I did.  After what I thought was a successful stint in Major Work courses in the third through sixth grade, I promptly earned a C+ in English for my first grading period under Mrs. Jozsa.  I learned from that experience that what I thought I knew was hardly enough to move to the next level. My parents were flabbergasted, and I was surprised, too, but it caused me to dig a little deeper in my studies at a very important time in my life.  She took her job very seriously, and was always encouraging.  By the time I finished her class, I received an “A” in English. (If you want some perspective as to how long ago this was for me, the brand new hit song during that year was Let’s Stay Together by Al Green).

My first English teacher in the ninth grade at Chanel High School was Fr. James. He was a pleasant, older gentleman with white hair, and his classes were legendary because he would crack open the windows of his classroom during the winter months, which according to his theory, would keep all of his students awake and keep their blood pumping.  My theory was that I was freezing to death and that I would need someone to pump my chest to revive me.  Anyway, you wouldn’t dare fall asleep in his class, or you might have been carried out on a stretcher due to hypothermia.  My class motto for Fr. James was “stay awake…stay alive.”

It got better from there.  I enjoyed my class experiences in 11th and 12th grade with Mr. Edward Gotch (Algebra and Calculus) and in 12th grade with Mr. Bruce Domski, who taught A.P. English.  Our big book for the year was to read and review The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  My senior year of high school was my breakout year as I had my best GPA and my best overall experience as a student.

I will never forget Dr. Vincent McHale, who was my Political Science teacher at Case Western Reserve University.  He was so engaging that his classes really challenged my approach to national and international affairs, and I will never forget his comment that there were so many lawyers in the field at that time that some of them will be marching off of cliffs for a lack of work.  I made up my mind, at that moment, that I was NOT going to law school.

Even in my adulthood, my encounters during my Master’s program at Crown College with Dr. James Cowman and Dr. Gary Keisling were very special and formative as I grew in my studies.  Finally, my most recent Clinical Pastoral Education class with Fred Madren in Indianapolis made me helped me to reflect more about who I was as an individual in learning more about becoming a chaplain.  In any vocational environment, it is important for you to know who you are as a person before you can reach out and effectively help someone else.

What I hope you can see from my experience is that teachers do a lot more than just teach subjects.  They provide all sorts of wisdom and knowledge—from their own education and from personal experiences—that shape the lives of everyone that they come into contact with.  Many teachers, whether they know it or not, are always providing this wisdom and knowledge—both inside and outside of the classroom.

Teaching is a God-given talent and ability.  It is referenced in Scripture as one of the gifts referenced within the body of Christ:

Romans 12:6-8 NIV

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 

Interestingly, teachers use all of these attributes in carrying out their responsibilities:  service, encouragement, giving, leadership and mercy.  We will look at one of these attributes—leadership.  Leaders perform their duties with care and concern for those who they are responsible for.

Teachers are leaders.

The Bible stresses the importance of gaining wisdom and knowledge, and in listening to others who have their own experiences to share with you.  Jesus Christ spent the better part of two years giving instruction to His disciples.  He was a patient teacher in the same way as Scripture is defined:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

The disciples were being trained by Jesus Christ for a very good reason—they were to be the ones who would carry forth the Good News after Christ would leave them.  He was the ultimate Teacher (he was called “Rabbi” in Scripture, which means “Teacher.”)  Jesus provided the instruction and later “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).  Their ministry, as well as anyone’s ministry, has to begin and continue with teaching, and not only teaching, but being open to be taught, as well.

Teachers share this information freely and openly, and it is good and beneficial to be a teacher of not only God’s Word, but in all areas of life.

Teachers are leaders.

Teaching carries with it a tremendous responsibility.  Teaching is not for everyone.

James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Judged by who? Well, by God Himself.  Whether you are teaching the Bible from Sunday school or from the pulpit, or a college professor or high school instructor, you are charged with making sure that whoever you are teaching is guided in the right direction.  Though this verse to follow is intended for those who mislead young people causing them to move away from Jesus Christ, you get the idea of its overall message:

Luke 17:1-2 HCSB

He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Now you get the grasp of how this God-given attribute has a great responsibility.  It is not to be taken lightly.

Teachers are leaders.  They are meant to be leaders.  They are an important part of God’s creation.  They teach because they are born to teach others, and they do it for the love of it.

Teachers lead because they possess these six attributes, of which each begin with the letters from the word LEADER.

First, for the L in leader, teachers are “learners.”

A good teacher is willing to learn from others.  It’s logical, of course, but not all teachers, when they think they know it all, remain teachable.

A good teacher knows that he or she does not know it all.  A good bible teacher is always reading and studying.  It’s important to stay humble in order to be open to learning more, and as a result, doing more for your students.

Titus 2:7-8 ESV

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Next, the E in leader refers to being “energetic.”

An effective teacher is one who consistently approaches their job with energy.  A teacher with energy is infectious, in a positive way, to his or her students.  It has an amazing effect as it indicates to the student that learning is fun and exciting, and that the subject is very interesting.  There is nothing wrong with making the learning experience a happy and memorable one!

The A in leader refers to “application,” as in applying knowledge in your instruction.  Your knowledge may indeed be from your own training, but effective teaching and communication also involves sharing your own personal experiences or providing examples to round out the instruction process.  A great lesson in Scripture is a demonstration of love is the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.  It was the perfect way to describe how a person loves God and also a neighbor.

The D in leader refers to “devotion.”  Devotion is loving your work as a teacher, and having a devotion for your students.  There is something to be said about having an emotional connection with the work you do.  If it is used properly, it can have a dynamic effect within the classroom!  Teachers love what they do, and do what they love!

The second E in leader is for “expecting greatness.”

Teachers are to strive for the best.  As Jesus wants each of us to be our best in Christ, teachers must also want their students to pursue excellence.  Excellence is the realization of one’s pursuit of greatness.  Teachers must have high expectations for themselves as well as their students.  Success breeds success, and teachers are the ultimate catalysts for a student’s drive to be as good as one can be.

1 Timothy 4:11

Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.

Finally, the R in leader stands for “results-oriented.”  A teacher wants to see students progress over time and, at the same time, gain more confidence in their own abilities.  Their students reflect a love for learning that will become more and more evident as they show their progress.

Luke 6:40 HCSB

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

A teacher would like nothing better than to see his or her students become dynamic leaders and professionals.  They want the best for them, and that is why teachers set the bar very high in pushing their students to reach for success.

Teachers lead by example.

They are learners.

They are energetic.

They apply their knowledge as they teach.

They are devoted to their jobs.

They expect greatness from their students.

They are results-oriented.

Teachers make sacrifices for the sake of their students.  They do what they love and they love what they do.

Teachers build today’s leaders because teachers are leaders.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 6 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of March 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts at Shiloh, where Elis two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lords priests.

Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Whenever she went up to the Lords house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat. Hannah, why are you crying? her husband Elkanah asked. Why wont you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?

In verse 10, it is noted that Hannah was depressed about her inability to conceive.  She was very upset and was praying to God that she would be remembered in her difficulty.

1 Samuel 1:9-11

Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lords tabernacle. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, Lord of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servants affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.

She was weeping in such a way as a woman who had lost her only child.  Her condition was one of deep despair.

The reality of infertility makes a woman feel inadequate or incomplete.  A woman’s desire is to bear children.  In Hannah’s time, women who remained barren felt worthless, and they typically would not receive an inheritance that would allow for care for themselves and family members.  A woman’s prestige was based upon her ability to produce offspring.

It should be noted that Hannah’s inability to bear children was allowed by God, and perhaps for the sole purpose that He wanted Hannah to draw closer to Him and to not dwell on her circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

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[a] 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. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hannah found her self-worth in God.  This is also a lesson for each of us.  We believe that the things that we do defines who we are.  All joy that we experience comes from Him, and it should remind us that we are to seek Him in everything.

When we pray to God, we are to pray with the understanding that our desires are to be rooted within a relationship with Him.  He wants us to grow more and more with Him.

In her prayer to God, we will focus on these three things:

  • Hannah’s vow to the Lord
  • Hannah asked for recognition
  • Hannah’s offering

Hannah made a vow with God not only with herself but also with her future child.  When she made this promise, it affected the course of her child’s life.  The vow was a Nazarite vow, where the person would separate and consecrate himself for service to God in the temple.  We find that Samuel would be serving the Lord diligently for his entire life.

Making a vow is not to be taken lightly, and is not recommended (Judges 11:29-40).

So, (Akron Alliance Fellowship) Church, when you are praying:

Matthew 5:37

But let your word yes be yes, and your no be no.[a] Anything more than this is from the evil one.

When Samuel was born, we know that Hannah followed her vow by keeping her commitment.  Her only child was committed to service.  Her desire to be a mother was fulfilled, but she released Samuel to serve the Lord.  This is the type of prayer that we are to focus on when it comes to our own service to Jesus Christ.

Hannah prayed to the Lord to be remembered by God as her servant (1 Samuel 1:11).  In Hannah, whose name means “grace,” you can understand her sincerity of prayer before the Lord.  Note that God heard her affliction, and we see that Hannah bore Samuel and many more children afterward (three sons and two daughters).

The lesson here is remaining prayerful.  God, in His sovereignty, does recognize your prayers, and it make take some time before He answers them.

Hannah’s offering was giving her son back to the Lord.  She offered her son as a way of serving the Lord in her desire to please God. Samuel was faithful in service and became a judge over Israel.

There is a parallel to her actions to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

John 17:9-11

I pray for them.

I am not praying for the world

but for those You have given Me,

because they are Yours.

Everything I have is Yours,

and everything You have is Mine,

and I have been glorified in them.

I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

 

Jesus asked God to keep and protect His servants.  The persons that Jesus would die on the cross for belonged to the Father.


Critical Conversations

Today’s message summary of March 12, 2017 from Columbus Morgan:

Jesus Christ gave instruction to His disciples as to what was going to take place as He was transitioning to return to the Father:

John 13:1-5

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Now by the time of supper, the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariots son, to betray Him. Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.

The washing of the feet had to be a very awkward experience.  The feet were most likely the dirtiest parts of the body because of where people had to go, even when you take into account where sheep would be and places of mud and dirt.  The disciples watched in wonder.

John 13:6-8

He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus answered him, What Im doing you dont understand now, but afterward you will know.

You will never wash my feetever! Peter said.

Jesus replied, If I dont wash you, you have no part with Me.

 

Jesus told Peter that what He was doing then would not make sense, but later he would understand.  He would experience the ultimate in humiliation, at the hands of the Romans, when He would be crucified.

Psalm 51:1-7

Be gracious to me, God,

according to Your faithful love;

according to Your abundant compassion,

blot out my rebellion.

Wash away my guilt

and cleanse me from my sin.

For I am conscious of my rebellion,

and my sin is always before me.

Against YouYou aloneI have sinned

and done this evil in Your sight.

So You are right when You pass sentence;

You are blameless when You judge.

Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;

I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,

and You teach me wisdom deep within.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 

David knew that he needed to be washed by God in order to be clean…not just a physical washing, but a washing of his heart.

Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in order to show them that there was no room for pridefulness in serving Christ.

We are born with a selfish heart and it is rooted within us at birth. We have to put aside our own feelings and desires to be obedient to His will.  Jesus Himself said, “not My will, Lord, but Your will be done.”

This washing was a demonstration of how you and I are able to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Unless Jesus Christ washes you from your sin and transgression, you are unable to have a relationship with Him.

John 13:9-11

Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.

One who has bathed, Jesus told him, doesnt need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you. For He knew who would betray Him. This is why He said, You are not all clean.

Once you are saved, you are already deemed clean.  We are made clean, but we now need to live as if we are clean.

Galatians 2:19-20

For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

What do we need to clean up in our lives?

A lot of us have so much pride in that we do not want to admit to Jesus Christ those areas that need to be cleaned.  The reality is that we cannot do it for ourselves.  He has to do it.

Some of us have anger, pride and bitterness.  What areas of your life need the basin, the pitcher of water, or a general cleansing?  Jesus wants to clean and renew you.

John 13:12-16

When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.

Once Jesus cleanses and renews you, it is now time for you to serve Him.

Philippians 2:5-8

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider equality with God

as something to be used for His own advantage.

Instead He emptied Himself

by assuming the form of a slave,

taking on the likeness of men.

And when He had come as a man

in His external form,

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient

to the point of death

even to death on a cross.

 

Not just death, but the ultimate humiliation of death on a cross.  Jesus, the creator of the universe, humbled Himself for our sake–because He loves us.

God is the head of the church and is our supreme authority, but He desires for us to live in such a way where we are reaching out to others in service for Him.  He wants you to live in His example before others.

Jesus also wants you to live and thrive before others.  He desires for you to live life to its fullest.

John 13:17

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

We are to move into a relationship by allowing Christ to wash us, cleanse us, and to work in those areas over time.  Have you allowed yourself to be washed and cleaned up?

Has God placed you into a position of authority where you can reflect God’s love to others?  God has laid on my heart to really go hard for Him, and worship Him before others in the public and in the workplace that does something different…more different than ever before.  Things may or may not work out as they should, but God will be with you as He works with you.

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.

It’s hard to praise the Lord when things aren’t going well, but He challenges us to do just that.  We have to lift up the name of Jesus in bad times just as we do when things are going well.