The Church and its Priesthood (Part 5)

A message summary of September 10, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are saved, you are a priest of Jesus Christ.  You function in exactly that way.  A priest is one who stands ready to serve God.

We left off last week in Ezekiel discussing where there may be shortcomings or failures of the priest.  For our purposes, sin does not prevent a person to serve Him.  God may ask one to do something, and the person responds.

It is important to note that, depending upon the sin, there are certain things that cannot be undone.  Some of us will fall, and there will be a scar or a mark, and it can’t be repaired.  A believer should always be cautious about the sin that is allowed into one’s life.  Satan can render a believer useless if sin takes over.

Ezekiel 44:10-14

Surely the Levites who wandered away from Me when Israel went astray, and who strayed from Me after their idols, will bear the consequences of their sin. Yet they will occupy My sanctuary, serving as guards at the temple gates and ministering at the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a sinful stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath against them”–this is the declaration of the Lord God–“that they would bear the consequences of their sin. They must not approach Me to serve Me as priests or come near any of My holy things or the most holy things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the detestable acts they committed. Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the temple–for all its work and everything done in it.

The prayer of a believer should be the desire to be used as a vessel for the Lord in service, but there are rights and privileges that are forfeited as a consequence or consequences of the sin.  It doesn’t mean that the person is not forgiven of their sin, but it does mean that there should be a reckoning of any detestable practice before God.

Christians are to be the salt of the earth.  In order to be this salt, it requires action, and in some cases, correction of those who need it.  A priest of God has to be trained to be an effective priest–an ambassador for Jesus Christ.  We need to understand that we are consecrated and being made holy before Him and before others.  The priests, who are also teachers, are charged to give instruction of God’s Word and encourage others to follow His teaching.

Those who are prepared to serve God with the desire to remain faithful and obedient will be affirmed with God’s presence in their service.

Ezekiel 44:15-16

“But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from Me, will approach Me to serve Me. They will stand before Me fat and blood.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “They are the ones who may enter My sanctuary and draw near to My table to serve Me. They will keep My mandate.”

Remember that the pastor of a church is nothing more than a priest and a servant.  Pastors are human, as well, and also are to continue to render their service to Jesus Christ as they grow in Him.  The priest is to live in reverence of Jesus Christ.

Being a priest, a teacher, is not a small thing.  It’s a very important thing.

James 3:1-2

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is able to control his whole body.

Romans 2:21a

…you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself?

The bible doesn’t say, for example, that you can’t drink alcohol. (That is a choice for the individual.)  The bible does, however, discourage drunkenness.

If you are teaching others about the truth, are you implementing that same way of living for yourself?

People need good, sound teaching in order to seek God in the proper way and to keep them from going astray.

The priest will be receiving instruction from none other than the Holy Spirit.

2 Chronicles 15:3-7

For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them. In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.

Malachi 2:1-2, 7-9

“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.

For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Hosts. So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”

The Word of God has a positive effect and changes the lives of those who believe.  A priest must be willing to hear God and follow His direction.  Those who do this will be able to demonstrate how to “fight the good fight.”

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.

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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 one month 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 4)

Today’s message summary of September 3, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The people of the church are the priesthood of the church.  The people hear the voice of the Spirit and are the teachers and disciples of the church.  These are the people that are moved to live for Christ even outside the walls of the church.  The priesthood leans on Jesus Christ and believes that He is the one who accomplishes what they set out to do.

The priesthood is comprised of teachers.  They teach the people of God and to those who are willing to listen to the words and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10

And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

God gives His people a reason and purpose to live as His priests.  The reason and purpose is to serve Him.

The author of the cause:  to produce, to construct, to form and fashion.

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.

The purpose of the priest is to teach God’s people.

The priests of the Old Testament were expected to live out their lives in the same way that they gave instruction.  This remains true today.  A priest is to have a sober mind and be sharp.

Leviticus 10:8-11

The Lord spoke to Aaron: You and your sons are not to drink wine or beer when you enter the tent of meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations.  You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given to them through Moses.

Priests are not only to teach but to live according to what is being taught.

Ezekiel 44:23

They must teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.

Teaching must have an element of demonstrating its truth (The KJV refers to discernment, while the NIV version is to show, or to make known.).

Hosea 4:6-9

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.  The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me.  I will change their honor into disgrace.  They feed on the sin of My people; they have an appetite for their transgressions.  The same judgment will happen to both people and priests.  I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.

Some people will have knowledge, but it will be the wrong knowledge.  Do you have knowledge based upon your own understanding, or the knowledge that comes from godly wisdom?

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 Church and its Priesthood (Part 3)

Today’s message summary of August 27, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Why, as a church, do we not witness as we should?  There should be more teaching within the church that will provide us with the truth, because there is so much teaching outside of the church that is available.

It is very important for people in the church to experience good, sound biblical teaching.

What is seen in the student is what the teacher has presented and perfected.

The root of successful witnessing to others is effective biblical teaching.  The teaching comes from a desire to know more about Jesus Christ through His Word, and to also be taught by others with experience.

In order to be able to teach, you will need to study.  The student who desires to learn will put in the effort.

As a priest in the church, one of your functions, wherever you go, is to teach others.  Priests are teachers to the people of God, and to all of those who are willing to hear the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The church should be a place where there is ongoing teaching.

One of the reasons we fail to witness is because we think we are not able to teach others.  Witnessing is a form of teaching.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

In teaching, you are to remain gentle in your instruction.  When you are teaching, this instruction is to be sound.  It is provided to have a positive effect in a person’s life.

God is one who is going to provide the knowledge within the instruction.  He does it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of teaching about matters of faith often require a demonstration by the teacher of living a life of faith and trusting in God.  Others, who are watching, will see what it is to live in this way.

Only God can anchor the truth within the hearts and minds of people.  God continues to renew our minds through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Note that Satan desires that you would follow him based upon his own teaching.

A priest is a learner and a teacher.  A teacher is always a learner.  A teacher never stops learning.

A teacher must have the desire to teach:

  • having knowledge of the subject
  • having the ability to communicate the knowledge
  • having patience with those who learn at different paces

Many of us are “slow” learners.  We don’t get it right away.  When they change their behavior, they have finally bought in to the teaching.

The priest’s work was changed from the Tabernacle to the Temple, and then to a New Testament priest.  Even with these changes, some things remained the same.  As God educates his people, He provides more knowledge time and again.  They all were learners and also had to teach others.  New Testament priests did not have to teach about sacrifices of animals, but they do teach about the Lamb of God, our ultimate sacrifice that deals with our sin.

The priest had the responsibility to take care of all the things of God.

Numbers 1:47-51, 53

But the Levites were not registered with them by their ancestral tribe. For the Lord had told Moses: Do not register or take a census of the tribe of Levi with the other Israelites.  Appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, all its furnishings, and everything in it. They are to transport the tabernacle and all its articles, take care of it, and camp around it.  Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever it is to stop at a campsite, the Levites are to set it up. Any unauthorized person who comes near it is to be put to death.

The Levites are to camp around the tabernacle of the testimony and watch over it, so that no wrath will fall on the Israelite community.

No person would intrude through ignorance or presumption upon the sacredness of the tabernacle, and bring death on himself.  The Levites were there to protect the people with teaching and instruction.

Note that God may have you in a person’s life to lead and instruct them in order to keep that person safe from the harm of the opposition in your witness.

Leviticus 10:8-11

The Lord spoke to Aaron: You and your sons are not to drink wine or beer when you enter the tent of meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations.  You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given to them through Moses.

This teaching of the Israelites helped to distinguish the clean and the unclean.

Ezekiel 44:23

They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.

Teaching shows how life is to be lived and provides elements of demonstrating truth.  People need to be shown how to live in a Christlike manner.


Prayers for Wisdom (Part 9 of the Series – ‘Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?’)

Today’s message summary of August 20, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Today, we will discuss what it is to pray for wisdom.

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.

James was speaking to Jewish Christians who were spread throughout the Roman Empire.  These Christians were experiencing various trials.  It was written sometime between 40-50 A.D.  At that time there was a restriction of travel by Christians to Alexandria by the emperor Claudius in 40 A.D.  Another James, who led the church, was murdered around 44 A.D by King Herod.  There was a famine in Jerusalem around 46 A.D., which caused a severe shortage of food.  These Christians faced political trials, persecution and anxiety.

James was writing to these Christians who faced trials, and there are trials that many believers experience today.  He reminded the believers that they were to look to God in the midst of these and other trials in order to obtain God’s wisdom.

We will look at these four aspects of wisdom:

  • The Invitation of Wisdom
  • The Explanation of Wisdom
  • The Application of Wisdom
  • The Gift of Wisdom

Before James 1:5, the verses that precede it set the tone for the seeking of God’s wisdom:

James 1:2-4

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

James is speaking to new believers who desire to use self-control in the midst of difficulty.  It challenges believers to ask God for wisdom in those areas where one is struggling. We are invited to seek after His wisdom.

The Invitation of Wisdom

Proverbs 2:1-10

My son, if you accept my words

and store up my commands within you,

listening closely to wisdom

and directing your heart to understanding;

furthermore, if you call out to insight

and lift your voice to understanding,

if you seek it like silver

and search for it like hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and discover the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;

from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He stores up success for the upright;

He is a shield for those who live with integrity

so that he may guard the paths of justice

and protect the way of his faithful followers.

Then you will understand righteousness, justice,

and integrityevery good path.

For wisdom will enter your heart,

and knowledge will delight you.

 

The Explanation of Wisdom

Wisdom is not just intellectual knowledge.  There are many intellectuals in this world that still lack wisdom.  They may have high IQs and great knowledge, but when it comes down to wisdom, it means that there has to be a rational thought.

We should not be surprised when we hear things that are foolish that come from these intellectuals.  One of the most foolish things that a person can do is to fail to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Wisdom is the by-product of God’s attributes and His laws.  Wisdom reveals the very nature of God, and by seeking after Him, He will reveal it to you.  The personification of wisdom is Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 8:1-21

Doesnt wisdom call out?

Doesnt understanding make her voice heard?

At the heights overlooking the road,

at the crossroads, she takes her stand.

Beside the gates leading into the city,

at the main entrance, she cries out:

People, I call out to you;

my cry is to the children of Adam.

Learn to be shrewd, you who are inexperienced;

develop common sense, you who are foolish.

Listen, for I speak of noble things,

and what my lips say is right.

For my mouth tells the truth,

and wickedness is detestable to my lips.

All the words from my mouth are righteous;

none of them are deceptive or perverse.

All of them are clear to the perceptive,

and right to those who discover knowledge.

Accept my instruction instead of silver,

and knowledge rather than pure gold.

For wisdom is better than jewels,

and nothing desirable can equal it.

I, wisdom, share a home with shrewdness

and have knowledge and discretion.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil.

I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct,

and perverse speech.

I possess good advice and sound wisdom;

I have understanding and strength.

It is by me that kings reign

and rulers enact just law;

by me, princes lead,

as do nobles and all righteous judges.

I love those who love me,

and those who search for me find me.

With me are riches and honor,

lasting wealth and righteousness.

My fruit is better than solid gold,

and my harvest than pure silver.

I walk in the ways of righteousness,

along the paths of justice,

giving wealth as an inheritance to those who love me,

and filling their treasuries.

 

Note what verse 17 in Proverbs 8 about wisdom:

Proverbs 8:17

I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me.

John 14:21

The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.

 

The Application of Wisdom

How do we apply this wisdom?  It starts with asking God.  It is wise to seek wisdom from those who are following Christ, and not from those who are not following Him.  Applying wisdom is acknowledging the authority that God has in your life.

Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

in all your ways know him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Dont be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

Whenever you choose not to ask for wisdom from God, it shows a lack of fear or reverence for Him.

We apply wisdom about asking God within a situation we are going through, and we seek after His presence.  We are to seek His Word and listen for His voice.

 

The Gift of Wisdom

God will give it to you and not hold anything back.

God grants wisdom without any regret.  He desires to give it to you and to help you understand what is going on.

Wisdom is a gift that helps you and also challenges you to remain faithful through the process.  His wisdom will help you in faith.

James 1:6-8

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

God desires to give us wisdom.  He desires to give us wisdom in prayer.  Meditate on His Word.  Recite it to yourself within your prayer.  He will answer and give you what you need.


The Church and Its Priesthood (Part 2)

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

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

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

The priestly office carries on today within the church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 24:1-4

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

Exodus 27:20-21

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

The light is the Light of life for people.

John 1:4

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

Matthew 4:16

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

Matthew 5:14-16

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

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

John 8:12

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

1 John 1:5

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

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

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

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

Numbers 18:1-7

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

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

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

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

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

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

1 John 2:15-17

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

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

Exodus 28:39-41

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:1-3

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


The Church and Its Priesthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 16:18

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 2:1-5

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

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

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

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

Matthew 16:19

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

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

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

Matthew 9:10-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Vincent Van Gogh

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

The church is an assembly of a priesthood of believers.

1 Peter 2:9

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

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

The church has a purpose, as well.

Colossians 1:24-29

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

We are to act like Jesus.

Romans 8:29

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

Church is to have a cultural influence.

Church helps to transform people through its teaching.

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