Author Archives: melvingaines

About melvingaines

I am a communications professional, author and speaker with years of experience as a business owner and corporate supervisor. My philosophy is “excellence in leadership-by-example with integrity and without compromise.” I am a member of the National Association of Black Accountants and served as President of the National Association of Credit Management, Greater Akron (OH). I have also held memberships with the American Collectors Association International, Inc. and the Commercial Law League of America. I am Church Administrator and Sunday school instructor at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church in Akron, Ohio. I have taught adult Sunday school for over 25 years and facilitated numerous bible studies and church cell group sessions. Every now and then, I fill in for the pastor with a sermon. I am a longtime advocate of Christian-based elementary and high school education. I am a graduate of The University of Akron with a degree in Business and Organizational Communication, and recently earned a Master’s degree in Christian Studies at Crown College, St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. I am also a member of the Chaplains Association of Ohio, and involved in Clinical Pastoral studies for possible full or part-time chaplaincy. I am a native of Cleveland, Ohio and I am married to my lovely childhood sweetheart, Lynn.

David’s Prayer for Peace (No. 11 of the Series “Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?”)

Today’s message summary of October 15, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Psalm 4:1-8

For the choir director: with stringed instruments. A Davidic psalm. Answer me when I call, God, who vindicates me. You freed me from affliction; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.  How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted? How long will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie? Selah. Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah. Offer sacrifices in righteousness and trust in the Lord. Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Look on us with favor, Lord. You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

During our days, we often face emotional distress, and it can cause us to lose out on a good night of rest.  Even I have had nights like this.  Perhaps you have had these, as well.  They may be relational or financial, and they may even be spiritual.  There is no true rest unless there is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

David, in his prayers, is showing us a pattern to model where he was praying in the morning, throughout the day, and into the evening.

Be aware that Psalm 4 was relevant to David and his people, and it is relevant today.  Psalm 4 shows that in our prayers, only God can provide to us long-lasting peace.

Verse 1 of Psalm 4 represents when David speaking to God.  Verses 2-6 has him speaking to men and admonishing them, and the last two verses speak again to God in prayers for peace.  He prayed with intensity, and his prayers were clear in petitioning God for answers.  He prayed in such a way that he made sure that God heard him.  He prayed with a burdened heart, and he experienced peace that would allow him to rest.

David understood that he was not delivered from his circumstances under his own merit or righteousness. He understood that he was being delivered because of God’s righteousness alone.  Your own good deeds are worthless without the grace of God and your own obedience and faithfulness to Him.

David experiences relief when He is assured of God’s presence.  God provides the relief.

In Psalm 3, there is a reference to David’s prayer to God for protection from his son, Absalom. He did not fear those who opposed him, but he, nonetheless, appealed to God for help in overcoming them.  His admonishing of the people in Psalm 4 was directed to the people in a similar way.  God is still the source of his protection and his mercy.

2 Samuel 16:5-14

When King David got to Bahurim, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was just coming out. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he was yelling curses as he approached. He threw stones at David and at all the royal servants, the people and the warriors on Davids right and left. Shimei said as he cursed: Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, you wicked man! The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of the house of Saul in whose place you became king, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. Look, you are in trouble because youre a man of bloodshed!

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and remove his head!

The king replied, Sons of Zeruiah, do we agree on anything? He curses me this way because the Lord told him, Curse David! Therefore, who can say, Why did you do that?’” Then David said to Abishai and all his servants, Look, my own son, my own flesh and blood, intends to take my lifehow much more now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone and let him curse me; the Lord has told him to. Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimeis curses today. So David and his men proceeded along the road as Shimei was going along the ridge of the hill opposite him. As Shimei went, he cursed David, threw stones at him, and kicked up dust. Finally, the king and all the people with him arrived exhausted, so they rested there.

David knew that he faced enemies and there was a public display of this contention.  He knows that the opposition he experienced from Shimei was allowed by God in spite of his being anointed as the country’s future king.  It was a reminder to David to seek the Lord for guidance in the midst of his affliction, and it is also a reminder to us to remain prayerful of those who may be going through a struggle, and to not pursue any condemnation.

Our posture towards those who speak falsehoods against us (Psalm 4:2), as it was for David, is to remain focused on Him as the righteous Judge and is the true mediator who separates those who trust in Him with those who have nothing to do with Him.

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Do you recognize that God knows you, as a distinct child of God, and that he hears your prayers?  He does not want you to wallow in your own sin from unchecked anger (Psalm 4:4).  He does give those who are opposed to you to repent from evil and do what is right and proper.

Absalom, David’s son, tried to appear to others as righteous when, in fact, he was using deceit to plot against David (2 Samuel 15:1-12).  Even today, such behavior will not be viewed as honorable by God, and anything good accomplished in this way is nothing more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Psalm 51:16-17

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;

you are not pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.

You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

David’s prayer in the final verses in Psalm 4 was a prayer for peace in spite of his enemies.  This attitude is crucial within our Christian walk.  There should be a joy in the heart of the believer that goes beyond the blessing one receives (Psalm 4:7).  There is joy in your fellowship with the Lord.  Nothing in this world will give you peace if has nothing to do with Jesus Christ (and certainly not worldly successes).

If you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not have at this time, or in the future (the afterlife), any peace.

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust in the Lord forever, because in Yah, the Lord, is an everlasting rock!

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Church and Salvation: Reaching Outward

Today’s message summary of October 8, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Church and salvation goes with evangelism, which is reaching out to other people.  It is to be understood, then, that one who wants to evangelize must be willing to “go.”

You will only practice what you truly believe.  If you don’t believe that there is a world of people who are lost, you won’t go out and speak with them about the gospel.

If we, as a church, are to be taken seriously of our desire to reach people for Jesus, it must begin by being believable first to ourselves, and then to others.  Next, we must ask how successful have we been in teaching the Bible to adults in such a way that they believe the Word of God to be true–to the extent that it influences behavior.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Lord told us not to “go” and save people, but to go and teach others.  You are taking a journey.  In the journey, you will discover what God is doing for you.  In the going, the teaching will make disciples of other.  The teaching is beneficial for the teacher, as well, in being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Being a disciple is like being an apprentice.  All apprentices have to have a master teacher.  All learning takes place upon receiving instruction from the one who is leading you.

You have to be willing to “go.”  There’s no specific direction that you are being given, but you at least need to go and step out into areas where you have never been before.  Either way, you can’t be obedient to God by just “staying put” (John 20:19, 26).

You are, as a servant of Christ, both a priest and a teacher.  You are being equipped by the Holy Spirit to learn and be able to serve Him in these ways.

A new believer in Jesus Christ must prepare to serve Him.  He is not ready to teach immediately.  He has to learn what it is to serve and minister to others.  Over time, he can share his experiences with others in giving instruction.

Mark 16:14-17

Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected. Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 1:3-5

After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

You can’t do anything in the flesh that will bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ, but when you go in the power of the Holy Spirit and speak the gospel, the name of Christ will be proclaimed, and that is whether the hearers of the Word choose to respond or not.

The “go” indicates a willingness to go.

John 3:17

For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Luke 5:27-32

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So, leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow Him. Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for Him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests with them. But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In His going, Jesus met Matthew.

  • He went out and saw a tax collector (see the tense of the word “went” from “go”).
  • Matthew saw Jesus as being observant–giving careful attention.
  • Levi had a banquet for Jesus and invited his friends (Jesus’ disciples were also there. They were learning by observing Jesus’ behavior).
  • The Pharisees saw them as sinners.
  • Jesus is not blind or ignorant of their lives. He knew the depravity of their lives (immoral people).

What did Jesus do?

  • He loved and welcomed them into His life.
  • He offered them a refuge–a safe place.
  • Jesus is going after the real person–the one that was hidden behind the tax collector and sinner (the word used by the Pharisees).
  • Jesus is going after that person who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14).

The people of the church are to look at people in this same way.  To see people in the world, beneath their facades and protection, and help them to see Jesus Christ.

How many of you are studying the needs of your community?  You want to understand the community’s basic human needs, and how the details of their lives correlate into their lifestyle.

To serve, we must open our eyes to the people around us and know their needs. Think about what is important to them and how might the message of Jesus intersect with their needs.

Our community is a target for service.

The word “target,” according to Webster’s Dictionary, refers to one or a group who are to be changed or influenced by action or an event; therefore, we target our community to manage the perception of a person or group (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).  Paul is saying that all people will not see things in the same manner.  We, as a church, are the ones who change first, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to bring about change.


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

It’s almost time for Saturday brunch with Kelly Parker!  Won’t you join us?

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

About Ms. Parker:

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

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

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

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

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


Church and Salvation: The Purpose of the Church

Today’s message summary of October 1, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Lord, help us to listen to the Spirit and enable us to do your work before the people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As a member of the church, you are part of the worldwide church, whose mission is to serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel.

The church consists of people who are “called out” for Jesus Christ.  What exactly are you called out to do.  It is not just to take part in the saving of souls.  After a soul gets saved, what happens next?

There is a responsibility in how one cares for a person after declaring Christ as Lord and Savior.  The church is more than just reaching people.  There is a care that must continue to take place for all of God’s people.

The work starts within the church to do good for the people of God, but it does not stop there.

Ephesians 5:32

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

The church is stated as a mystery in that it was not spoken of, in so many words, within the Old Testament.  Now the church is known, but even within it remains a mystery.  In the same way, within a believer, there is an unknown potential as to how God will develop a person into who He desires that person to be.  Every church is different, and every one of them is called to minister to its community where it is located.  God knows how He will accomplish this.  There is such a flexibility as the Holy Spirit renders how this is to take place.

The church exists to do the work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The church functions as one body for this purpose.

Colossians 1:25-27

I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

As a member of the church, you are part of this royal priesthood to serve others.  He wants to use you to have an impact within the church into the community.  You are called out to be an ambassador, a saint and a witness before Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the church is to teach the people the knowledge of the Bible in order to carry out the work of Jesus.  It is to teach the people how to minister to others.  The focus remains on Jesus Christ, His life, and His ministry.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

The church comes alongside of its people and supports the member until he is able to move forward on his own.  Jesus promised that He would enable those who serve Him to do even greater things for His glory.

John 14:12-14

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. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The work of the church does not rest upon the members alone, but upon those who say, “yes, I will do the work,” or “no, I won’t do it.”

What are you asking for in faith?

There is no limit in what you can ask Him for.  (You can limit yourself, of course.)

Don’t just ask for those things that you can do yourself.  Why not ask Him for those things that are far beyond your reach?

Ask God to open doors, for wisdom and knowledge in order to have the capability to do matters according to His will and purpose in your life.  Ask in faith and trust in Him in faith.

As the church, we are to deal with societal and individual problems.  We understand that there is no problem too big to be solved.

Genesis 18:14

“Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.”

Matthew 19:26

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Isaiah 43:13

“Also, from today on I am He alone, and none can deliver from My hand. I act, and who can reverse it?”

John 9:3-5

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Philippians 4:13

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


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

Save the Date: Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM (We’re just under two weeks away!)

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

About Ms. Parker:

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

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

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

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

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


The Church and its Priesthood (Part 6)

Today’s message summary of September 24, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

What is it to be a saint of God?  A saint is one who is consecrated to do the work of God.  It is to be an adopted son or daughter of God.  This, along with the title of being a priest of God, are all descriptive of people who are followers of Christ.  These are all names, but each one of them means something.  As a saint, you are to live in holiness.  As an ambassador, you are to proclaim Christ wherever you go.  You should know the reason and the purpose behind these names.  As a priest, you are a servant of God.  You are part of a royal priesthood before God in your service to Him.  With this representation comes responsibility.

You are someone that God chose to represent Him and to live for Him.  God is not here to serve us; instead, we are to serve Him.

The Levite, in service for God, had to make sacrifices in order to serve Him appropriately.  God has to be first in your life.  In order to be a priest, there cannot be anything that gets in the way of your dedicated service for Him.

In picking up where we left off before, we were discussing the importance of sound teaching.  Teachers are important.  We need to be mindful of the fact that Satan also teaches, as well.  He teaches others those things that are contrary to the ways of God.  He desires to get people off course in the service of God.  He will divide people and cause derision.

Exodus 17:7

He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?

Psalm 95:7b-9

Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.

The word of God is more important than any family relationship, and it may even divide family members.  When you want to draw near to Christ, someone may try to pull you away from Him.

The focus must be to remain of God, His covenant and to serve His people, just as the Levites were to do.

Deuteronomy 33:8-11

He said about Levi:

Your Thummim and Urim belong to your faithful one;

you tested him at Massah

and contended with him at the Waters of Meribah.

He said about his father and mother,

I do not regard them.

He disregarded his brothers

and didnt acknowledge his sons,

for they kept your word

and maintained your covenant.

They will teach your ordinances to Jacob

and your instruction to Israel;

they will set incense before you

and whole burnt offerings on your altar.

Lord, bless his possessions,

and accept the work of his hands.

Break the back of his adversaries and enemies,

so that they cannot rise again.

 

Hebrews 3:7-10a

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for 40 years.

The character of a priest of God is something that requires time and building of one’s character.  Teachers must instill the principles to build the person up.  The teacher must take their role very seriously.  He is to teach God’s precepts and standards, and not his own way of thinking.

Romans 2:17-29

Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the lawyou then, who teach another, dont you teach yourself? You who preach, You must not steal”—do you steal? You who say, You must not commit adultery”—do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  So if an uncircumcised man keeps the laws requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?  A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision.  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh.  On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heartby the Spirit, not the letter. That persons praise is not from people but from God.

In order to be an effective teacher, the student must have the desire to learn.

Additional characteristics of the character of a priest:

Ezra 7:5-28

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, the chief priest Aarons son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was on him.  Some of the Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants accompanied him to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, during the seventh year of the king. He began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month since the gracious hand of his God was on him.  Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.

This is the text of the letter King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest and scribe, an expert in matters of the Lords commands and statutes for Israel:

Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens:

Greetings.

I issue a decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including their priests and Levites, who want to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.  You are sent by the king and his seven counselors to evaluate Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your possession.  You are also to bring the silver and gold the king and his counselors have willingly given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold you receive throughout the province of Babylon, together with the freewill offerings given by the people and the priests to the house of their God in Jerusalem.  Then you are to be diligent to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, along with their grain and drink offerings, and offer them on the altar at the house of your God in Jerusalem.  You may do whatever seems best to you and your brothers with the rest of the silver and gold, according to the will of your God.  Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles given to you for the service of the house of your God.  You may use the royal treasury[c] to pay for anything else needed for the house of your God.

I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers in the region west of the Euphrates River:

Whatever Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens, asks of you must be provided in full, 22 up to 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of oil, and salt without limit. Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven must be done diligently for the house of the God of the heavens, so that wrath will not fall on the realm of the king and his sons.  Be advised that you do not have authority to impose tribute, duty, and land tax on any priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.

And you, Ezra, according to Gods wisdom that you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people in the region west of the Euphrates who know the laws of your God and to teach anyone who does not know them.  Anyone who does not keep the law of your God and the law of the king, let the appropriate judgment be executed against him, whether death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the kings mind to glorify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and who has shown favor to me before the king, his counselors, and all his powerful officers. So I took courage because I was strengthened by the hand of the Lord my God, and I gathered Israelite leaders to return with me.

When you are in the midst of doing God’s work, God will provide all that you have need of to accomplish what you need to do.

  1. Ezra was a teacher.
  2. Ezra devoted himself to study and observance.
  3. He devoted himself to teaching God’s decrees.

Note that he was doing all of this while he and his people were in captivity.  The king had granted everything that he had asked for.  He even saw that God’s hand was upon him.

A believer who is devoted to serving Christ will live it out before others.  A priest is driven and devoted to His Word and searches Him out in order to develop a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

With sound teaching, everything is put in its proper place as a priest who serves God and others.  You are always ready to do what God has called you to do.


How to Pray within Depression (Part 10 of a Series – ‘Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?’)

Today’s message summary of September 17, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

 

Job 7:1-21

Isnt each person consigned to forced labor on earth?

Are not his days like those of a hired worker?

Like a slave he longs for shade;

like a hired worker he waits for his pay.

So I have been made to inherit months of futility,

and troubled nights have been assigned to me.

When I lie down I think,

When will I get up?

But the evening drags on endlessly,

and I toss and turn until dawn.

My flesh is clothed with maggots and encrusted with dirt.

My skin forms scabs and then oozes.

My days pass more swiftly than a weavers shuttle;

they come to an end without hope.

Remember that my life is but a breath.

My eye will never again see anything good.

The eye of anyone who looks on me

will no longer see me.

Your eyes will look for me, but I will be gone.

As a cloud fades away and vanishes,

so the one who goes down to Sheol will never rise again.

He will never return to his house;

his hometown will no longer remember him.

Therefore I will not restrain my mouth.

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Am I the sea or a sea monster,

that you keep me under guard?

When I say, My bed will comfort me,

and my couch will ease my complaint,

then you frighten me with dreams,

and terrify me with visions,

so that I prefer strangling

death rather than life in this body.

I give up! I will not live forever.

Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.

What is a mere human, that you think so highly of him

and pay so much attention to him?

You inspect him every morning,

and put him to the test every moment.

Will you ever look away from me,

or leave me alone long enough to swallow?

If I have sinned, what have I done to you,

Watcher of humanity?

Why have you made me your target,

so that I have become a burden to you?

Why not forgive my sin

and pardon my iniquity?

For soon I will lie down in the grave.

You will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone.

The book of Job is an autobiography of Job’s life.  It is a personal account of his life when he faced hardship and adversity.  He faced such adversity that none of us would be prepared to face.  He lost his seven sons and three daughters and suffered a severe financial crisis.  His wife, after these losses, was bitter and angry, as well.

As much as some would like to believe that life here today is prosperous, it is not the best life you can experience.  What we experience here today is rooted in a fallen world.

Some day, we may face hardship and difficulty.  Finances, marriage, and even the death of a child.  That is what Job experienced all at once.

Tragedy can hit someone, and it can strike to the core.  It is important to understand that it is OK to feel embittered.  Those emotions, however, are not to dictate how we respond or act.  Job is the example of this:

Job never cursed God.  He was bitter and in great anguish.  He had suffered great loss.  He felt that he was an innocent man that was suffering for no reason.  He was indeed angry with Him, and wanted answers from Him as to what was going on.

Depression and Despair (Job 7:1-16)

When we review these verses, I want to you see and hear Job’s heart.

Job’s suffering had continued throughout those days because of life in a fallen, sin-cursed world.  After the fall of man, that is when suffering started.  Having to work is the result of being in a fallen world.

Job also notes that he has chronic pain (v. 5).  Pain, in itself, is suffering.  In addition to his stress, his physical pain attributed to his depression.  In Job 2:8, he was scraping the scabs off of himself with a piece of broken pottery.  He may have contemplated suicide.  He had cursed the day that he was born because he was in such distress.

The emotions here are a lesson for us.  How you come through the suffering is important.  You are not to respond with bitterness or anger, but look to Jesus Christ for comfort in the midst of your depression.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to understand that He is the one who guides you through your depression.  He does not want you to consider suicide as an option.  It is by God’s grace that you can pull through

The Heart of God (Job 1:17-19)

God’s heart is set upon you in spite of how you are feeling.  God does not look away from us even though you may want him to do so (as Job did).  God allowed Job to face the crises as He knew how he would respond.

It is difficult for us to understand how God allows this type of suffering to take place in our lives.  We don’t see the total picture–we only see what is right in front of us.  The best way to address this is to look at the person of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 2:16-18

For it is clear that he does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abrahams offspring.  Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Christ is the perfect illustration of the One who suffered for no reason.  Do not think, for one moment, that Christ did not experience depression.

Luke 22:39-46

He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.  When he reached the place, he told them, Pray that you may not fall into temptation.  Then he withdrew from them about a stones throw, knelt down, and began to pray, Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from menevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him.  Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.  When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.  Why are you sleeping? he asked them. Get up and pray, so that you wont fall into temptation.

This was the most depressing moment in that Christ was asking God not to have to suffer.  He was going through a great deal of anxiety as He was facing God’s wrath for our sins, yet He remained obedient to the Father.  The act of Christ’s knowledge that He would suffer on the cross was depressing, and yet he prayed over this to the Father.

In addition to prayer, a person who is suffering with depression should share with others.  If someone is struggling, be sure to get involved with their life out of concern and care.  This is how the church should respond.

Praying Through Depression (Job 7:17-21)

Job wanted God to leave him alone, and God said no.  Job also acknowledged that he was depressed, and was prayerful for a glimmer of hope.

When in a state of depression, it takes fervent prayer and meditation to get through the experience.  God promises His presence in the midst of your struggles.