Category Archives: series

Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 5 of a Series)

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

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

We have previously discussed a number of different postures of prayer, and each of these have helped us to identify how we approach God in prayer.  Today we will look at an analysis of written prayers in the Bible.

There is a prayer in the Bible that we often recite. It is found in Matthew, Chapter 6:

Matthew 6:5-15

Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver is from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you a well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

 

This passage was part of the Sermon on the Mount.  It was an extensive message that covers four chapters in Matthew (5-8), and this section in Scripture is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  That reference is not really correct in that the Lord Himself would not have prayed such a prayer.  A closer reference to this passage for our purposes would be “How to Pray,” as it a means for how we should be praying to Him.

We know that Jesus Christ prayed often, and He prayed throughout His ministry…even as He was on the cross.  He provides the example for each of us as to the importance of frequent prayer, and He went away and prayed in secret.

When it comes to prayer, you should ask yourself how long you pray, especially when you occupy your time to other things.  How long we pray may be an indicator as to how deep your relationship is with God.

Jesus warns not to behave like the Pharisees, who were hypocritical in their practice of faith.  We must also guard ourselves in this practice, as well.  Our church practice is to go beyond religiosity.  We are to fellowship with one another and live out or faith everywhere we go.

Jesus said that you should pray publicly if your intent is just to be noticed, then that is hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with praying publicly, for it is perfectly good to pray over your meal in a restaurant or to speak to a person as the Spirit leads you, but the answer to this open prayer should be a humble approach of prayer in a private setting.  We are to move away from people and pray in secrecy.

The result of your prayers in secret is the reward that you receive from God in your humility and sincerity.

Do you pray for someone’s healing, or a job for yourself, or even wisdom?  Whatever the prayers are, they are to be specific and not so general as to lose their meaning.  Repeating words over and over does not magnify the significance of your prayer.  Jesus tells the people at the sermon to not be like the worshipers of Baal or the Gentiles who were looking to things other than God.  Jesus wants us to pray in specificity.  Know who you are praying to!

It is imperative that we continue our study of theology, because the more that we learn about theology, the more that it impacts our words and actions about God.  This has an important effect on how we approach prayer.

God indeed knows our needs before we ask of Him.  He is involved with every single detail of your life.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.  Since He already knows what we need, will he give it to us? It is important to distinguish needs from wants.

Psalm 38:9

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from you.

 

Psalm 139:7

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?

 

God provides what we need in accordance to His will.  He answers the prayers of a humble heart and provides blessing as we learn more about Jesus Christ.

Our prayers to Him are to acknowledge that He is ever-present and that He is holy.  Your prayers are to reflect that you recognize His holiness.  Seeking God and uplifting His name is a contrast to uplifting ourselves or even the name of Satan.

His kingdom is a present reality, and He notes that you have dual citizenship on earth and in heaven (Ephesians 2:19).  Our prayers should reflect the reverence of Christ as our coming King.

God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything in this world.  God’s providence is that he will accomplish everything according to His will.

Everything that Jesus accomplished was done according to God’s will and His obedience to God.

We should be confident, in our prayers, that His will be done for all to see.

Your prayers reflect that God is the One who provides for you, and not so much that you rely upon yourself (Proverbs 30:8).

Prayers of forgiveness are to be common in that we are to ask Christ for forgiveness of sin, and that this same approach is to be given to others who sin against us.  This is the essence of Christlike behavior (Romans 13:7-8).

When we ask God to not lead us into temptation, He responds.  He will keep us from those things that are more than what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God wants to see each one of us be filled with the Spirit in prayer, and to live according to His instruction as to how we are to pray.  We are to pray to seek a greater understanding of Him and that we will live according to His will.  Amen.


Prayer: What Difference Does It Make? (Fourth of a Series)

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

Last Sunday, we discussed the relationship of fasting and prayer, and the sin of gluttony.  We will continue this week with discussion of:

  1. Intercessory Prayer
  2. Prayer of Suffering
  3. Prayer of Healing

There have been many recent news events that have occurred where we, as believers, should respond with intercessory prayer.  It is one way for us to take action on behalf of others as we are interceding and petitioning God for a response.

Intercessory prayer is a priestly ministry.

1 Peter 2:5, 9

you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people for His possession,

so that you may proclaim the praises

of the One who called you out of darkness

into His marvelous light.

 

Intercessory prayer is a prayer of mediation on behalf of others.  This principle is a way of “standing in the gap” for others who are hurting or in need of relief.

Ezekiel 22:30-31

I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one. So I have poured out My indignation on them and consumed them with the fire of My fury. I have brought their actions down on their own heads. This is the declaration of the Lord God.

 

God calls for His people to stand in the gap in the hope of averting any disaster upon those who need prayer.  In the event of a calamity, intercessory prayer also has an impact upon those who remain after a tragedy.

Exodus 17:8-13

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, When Pharaoh tells you, Perform a miracle, tell Aaron, Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh. It will become a serpent.’” So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord had commanded. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent. But then Pharaoh called the wise men and sorcerersthe magicians of Egypt, and they also did the same thing by their occult practices. Each one threw down his staff, and it became a serpent. But Aarons staff swallowed their staffs. However, Pharaohs heart hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

 

1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray lifting up holy hands.

 

In this effort, even though it is tiring, we are not to stop praying.

Romans 8:26-27, 34

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And he who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

 

Hebrews 8:4-6

Now if He were on earth, He wouldnt be a priest, since there are those offering the gifts prescribed by the law. These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain. But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.

 

Intercessory prayer is something that we should be doing.

The Prayer of Suffering

The prayer of suffering is a prayer of relief, in the midst of a trial, for relief within the trial.

In your suffering, would you stop praying if you thought it wasn’t working, or would you continue in the hope that God would provide relief?  The challenge of this prayer within these circumstances is that while you are unaware of the timing, you are aware that God does hear your prayer.  God provides the perfect example of Jesus Christ as to how to respond within this prayer.

1 Peter 3:13-16

And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.

 

Hebrews 5:7

During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.

 

If you are praying in the midst of your suffering, God will answer you.

Each of these postures of prayer lead to:

The Gift of Healing

Isaiah 53:4-5

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,

and He carried our pains;

but we in turn regarded Him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced because of our transgressions,

crushed because of our iniquities;

punishment for our peace was on Him,

and we are healed by His wounds.

 

Are you praying for someone’s healing?  Are you standing by watching others in need?

James 5:13-16

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord.  The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.


Divorce (continued from series on Marriage and Family)

A summary of Pastor Gus Brown’s message of October 23, 2016

God’s Word will ultimately judge all of us.  In the area of divorce, the church has covered specific areas, but we need to look at the totality of His Word to cover what divorce is…it is a product of a sinful world.  We are seeing more and more of how divorce affects Christian marriages, and we need to begin to look at how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, can be peacemakers.

Divorce brings anger and bitterness to the relationship.  After all is said and done, can the divorce move to the man and woman being friends and not embittering the children who are involved.

Got never intended for married couples to divorce.  We need to look more at what it represents.

Divorce — to loose, to release, let go, dismiss, depart, put away, send away, set at liberty, freedom.

Divorce replaces God’s authority with our own, moral submission.  It is favoring autonomy (self-will, self-governing).

To deny God’s principle in marriage is to remove the requirements pertaining to the marriage relationship.  It opens for selfish desires that can lead to the mistreatment of the other person.

All relationships on earth are governed by God (Leviticus 18).  They are to be defined by His Word.

A man or woman may have a number of people in their life.  There are many relationships within this…mother, aunt, wife, daughter, sister, friend, father, uncle, husband, son, brother, etc.  Leviticus 18 sets the boundaries that are to exist within these relationships.

If God’s law (His Word) or faith is removed from the relationship, then all that is left to sustain the relationship is the frail emotional bond of one’s feelings (a relationship should not be limited to one’s feelings).

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Where feelings and pleasure are the basis of marriage and not God’s Word, then marriage becomes acts of robbery, where each person is in it for the selfish pleasure, which will lead to a break in the relationship when there is nothing new to be gained.  Do you see why a person can feel as though they have been used and unloved?

Malachi 2:14-16

Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.  Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth. If he hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

James 1:19-21

May dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

  1. Guard yourself. Always remain loyal to your wife.
  2. Avoid violence. Never do anything that causes injury or bloodshed. (You will never act in righteousness if you are angry.)
  3. The garment of injustice. Divorce is using the law of Moses to put the spouse away.

Why is divorce allowed?  Divorce is an accommodation that God has made within a world of sin.

While God is holy, He is not unrealistic.

Even if one person is obedient to God within the marriage, it doesn’t mean the other person will cooperate.

God is aware of our helplessness.  The flesh is weak.

God makes provision for those who are not able to measure up to His demands in a given point in life.

The cross itself reveals the principle of God’s tolerance.  God was willing to tolerate the killing of His Son to keep His own law from condemning us to hell.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Look at divorce from God’s eyes.  God hates divorce.

Why did God write Israel a bill of divorce?  It was because of sin and transgression.

Isaiah 50:1

This is what the Lord says: Where is your mother’s divorce certificate that I used to send her away? Or who were My creditors that I sold you to? (Exodus 21:7) Look, you were sold for your iniquities, and your mother was put away because of your transgressions.

God still loves the sinner, but He does not tolerate the sin.  He will not accept those who willingly break the law.

One of things that happens within a divorce is the culmination of no longer allowing the rules to be broken by a spouse.

Jeremiah 3:8-10

I observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart — only in pretense.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

Unfaithfulness, a lack of fear, adultery, false pretenses of love and security reflect a lack of love for God, and it cannot be faked.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another mans wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if he dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again after she has been defiled, because that would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The grounds of divorce are closely related to Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8-10.

When the woman finds no grace in her husband’s eyes, he or she has stopped being a covenant keeper and image bearer.

Divorce occurs when the relationship falls short of what God is demanding; therefore, God allowing divorce was not evil, but it was dealing with evil.

God knows our journey from beginning to end, He is there to help but does not make our decisions for us.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

The Lord is a Helper.  He helps us to get up.

His promise is to continue to work in our lives.

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.

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

A man and woman in a divorce will stumble, but through God’s grace, there is healing and recovery.  They both rise again.


Be Filled (Part 4): A Spirit-Filled Family

Today’s message of July 24, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

What defines a family?  Is it merely love?  Or is it something greater than that?  Our definition of love should not come from television sitcoms or of something that is more about lust?  The world view is that “love wins,” but if this love is expressed outside of the word of God, then it is not what God would condone.

Love is not love according to how the world views love.

1 John 2:15

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
Nonetheless, if we adopt the world’s view of God, then it is outside of how the bible instructs.  The world view of love is not a reflection of Jesus Christ.

The world’s view of family is based upon a faulty love.

In Genesis 4, there is a brotherly love turned into jealousy…and murder.  This happened because of Cain’s evil tendencies in his heart that was against Abel’s acts of righteousness.

1 John 3:11-14

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.
If you ever thought that your own family was dysfunctional, it probably doesn’t compare to the family of David.  It was truly dysfunctional.  David’s failure to discipline his children created a great deal of pain and suffering, and he even lost one of his sons because of it.

Interestingly, many families today are just as bad if not worse today.

The world has no clue today what it means to be a family.  God defines what it is to have a spirit-filled family.

Love is involved within a spirit-filled family, but not just any love.  A spirit-filled family is characterized by submissive unconditional love.

Ephesians 5:15-33

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t 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.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
These are the biblical examples of a spirit-filled family.

Notice that in Ephesians 5:18, he notes that we are to be spirit-filled.  This is imperative in order to be able to submit to and to be obedient to God’s Word.  Anything outside of this means that there is a desire to follow what the world teaches.

Be obedient to the Word and bring yourself under self-control.  Putting aside the deeds of the flesh is to surrender everything to God.  This includes everything.  This is spirit-filled living.

It takes more than love to have a spirit-filled family.  It cannot pay the bills.  It cannot cut the grass or wash the dishes. Loving someone means submitting yourself, in love, to someone else.

Our families should be branded by love in submission.  That is what a spirit-filled family is.

As far as the roles within a family, as noted by Paul (Ephesians 5:22-28), there is a structure that requires submissive love, and the structure is in place in order that God is glorified.  A submissive wife is the crowning jewel of her husband.  She is not submissive not just to please her husband, but to please the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.
Godly submission is much more pleasing than physical attractiveness.

1 Peter 3:1-7

In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.  Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming.

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature[d] yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
God is using the church, the bride of Christ, to reach people with the good news.  The spirit-filled family is the essence of living before the world in a godly manner.

The husband, in Ephesians 5:25-33, also has to be submissive.  He has to love his wife unconditionally in submission.

This submission, even in a marriage where there is an unbeliever, can have a profound effect on the unbeliever.  You won’t know unless you stay with it.

1 Corinthians 7:14-16

For the unbelieving husband is set apart for God by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is set apart for God by the husband.  Otherwise your children would be corrupt, but now they are set apart for God. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace.  For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

That is why Paul is telling husbands to love their wives.  The love is reflection of Jesus Christ, who saves.

Sanctification is a maturity process for both the wife and the husband in marriage and in faith (Ephesians 5:26-27).

This sanctification comes from the power of the Word of God.  The church is polluted and guilty under sin, but the Word has cleansing power.  A husband who is submissive to his wife is a Christlike example as to how to live for Jesus Christ.

Children are to live in obedience to the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).  The husband and wife, to the children, represent God’s authority.  Disobedience is a reflection of disobedience to God.  The Lord will bless those children who submit to their parents.

The husband and the wife are mindful to not abuse this authority and to make their children miserable.  God will judge all parents as to how their children were raised and disciplined.

Proverbs 4:10

Listen, my son. Accept my words,
and you will live many years.
Proverbs 23:13

Don’t withhold discipline from a youth;
if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
Families are hardly perfect.  There will be arguments and difficulties, but allow the love of Jesus Christ, in submission, to prevail.  This love is a love in humility and in submission to Jesus Christ.