Tag Archives: abilities

God is Calling You

Text of today’s message from Melvin Gaines:

The body of Jesus Christ has many moving parts…in the same way; a church also has many moving parts.  The movement of these parts consists of its people, which are church members or its attendees.  It is the church’s community that makes up this local body, and it regularly adds or subtracts people over time.

The people who come and go within the church is a mirror of life itself, and change may be either welcome or unsettling to us.  Change is also inevitable.  It seems that as soon as you get settled in to a routine, something happens to change it.  Our greatest challenge in these changes is how we respond to them.

Change is less apparent in a larger church, but in smaller churches (like ours), it is impossible not to notice when they occur, especially if the people involved are very active within the church’s ministry.  When a person or a group of people leaves a small church, there is an obvious hole in that church’s ministry that needs to be filled.  What we need to understand about these situations are some key elements that often are centered on the attitudes of the people who remain in the church:

1.) A key member’s departure may be an initial distraction, but it is not an unmitigated disaster.  Things are not going to fall apart…it’s a time to find solutions.

2.) When someone leaves the church, the new opening brings about a new opportunity (more about this word later).

3.) Every church member is important, but not irreplaceable.

4.) The change and the resulting ministry is mysterious to us, but not for God.  For Him, it is all in a day’s work.

When a member leaves a church, the change will move people to start asking questions about what will happen next.  The answers are often as simple as looking at not what others can do, but, in fact, starting with yourself.

It begins with self-inspection and evaluation of your relationship with Jesus Christ.  It begins with a sincere look at Him and where He should be in your life.

Matthew 22:36-39

36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Without love, you will be unable to have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ or with anyone else.  Love is paramount and a necessity.  Your love for Jesus Christ creates the environment and the desire to please Him with an obedient heart–first in following His Word and His precepts, and then in carrying out His Word in service for others.

Matthew 20:26b-28

…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

When a person leaves the church, your focus on what Jesus Christ will have you to do promotes the following positive responses:

1.) Your fellowship with Christ takes the emphasis off the other person’s departure (with the appropriate conclusion that God is well aware of the change).

2.) You are readily seeking God as to where you fit in this change.  Your prayers and petitions to Him will help you to see where your service is needed (Remember–it is not necessarily about replacing the other person who left, but it very well could mean filling in at a different area where you can be of service.  There should be an inherent trust that God will put in place the right person in the right place at the right time).

Our humanity makes this far from a perfect process, but we trust that the perfection of the process will be in God’s involvement. God allows the freedom of movement of His people from place to place within the body of Christ.  It becomes an imperfect process when people are not seeking God wholeheartedly in this area or when their “personal pride” gets in the way.

1 John 2:16

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.

This is why everything that we do in seeking the Lord’s will involves an ongoing process of humbling ourselves before Him and being more sensitive to the words of the Holy Spirit speaking to us. It all started with Jesus Christ dying for each and every one of us, and by living our lives in acknowledgment of what He did for us.

Galatians 5:24

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:10-14

10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

In business, the problems of the day are looked at as opportunities to get better or to right the wrong that has occurred.  In the same way, a big change within a church can be looked at as either a problem or as an opportunity.  This is an attitude check, for sure.  Your positive approach in this matter will define the direction that you decide to take.  In reality, there are always going to be opportunities, and that’s because God is the author of these opportunities as a way to challenge us to action (Hebrews 12:2)!  So, with all of this in mind, each of us needs to rely less upon the circumstances of a person or group of people leaving a church, and rely more upon how God is challenging you to respond within this “opportunity.”  Let’s not dwell upon what you cannot do, or what the church can’t do–instead put your focus on what you can do.  If you’re doing this, what the church can do will take care of itself.

Is there something that you can do for Jesus Christ and the church that you’re not already doing?  Is there a place where you can expand upon your skills and abilities beyond what you are naturally accustomed to?  According to Scripture, each of us has been given a gift of some sort.  Let’s start there…are you using it?

1 Peter 4:10

Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.

If each of us is in tune with the Holy Spirit and truly seeking Him, we would be very sensitive to His call to us to serve Him.  We already have the talents and abilities that we are born with, and we now also have the spiritual gifts that he gives us once we are born again.  We have amazing power and ability through the enabling of Jesus Christ!

Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

1 Corinthians 12:4-14

4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

8 to one is given a message of wisdom

through the Spirit,

to another, a message of knowledge

by the same Spirit,

9 to another, faith by the same Spirit,

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

10 to another, the performing of miracles,

to another, prophecy,

to another, distinguishing between spirits,

to another, different kinds of languages,

to another, interpretation of languages.

11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many.

Knowing that we have the talents and gifts does not guarantee that we will use them.  Why?  Because in our own selfishness, self-focus or self-righteousness, we can waste them by not using them.  This is even detrimental within the body when we lack confidence in who we are and what we can do (out of fear of reprisal or condemnation).  We must have a greater focus on what the Lord Jesus Christ thinks of us and rely upon His strength instead of our own strength.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

6 think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

As simple as this verse is, it is also the hardest thing for many people to do, for in this acknowledgment is the evidence of one’s success or failure in his or her active participation in the body of Christ.

It is up to each one of us to be aware of our talents and gifts and actively participate in the use of them within the body.  Our active participation of our talents and gifts is the true unity in the body that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.  The evidence of our faith is in our action and in our activity within the body, and not just sitting around waiting for someone else to do something.

James 2:14-18

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.

Your attitude in this change will go a long way in listening to how God is speaking to you in this transition.  Do you hear God’s calling to you?  Do you know what He would have you to do right now?  Are you praying for wisdom and guidance in this situation?

Matthew 7:7-8

7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

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.

As you seek God in this matter and in your obedience to His Word and to His will, He will give you insight into what you are to do next.  You are always seeking Him in finding out what you are to be doing, and, just as importantly, doing what you are doing now even better than before.  You are always seeking Him in your growth and improvement.  You will grow as you continue to grow your love relationship in Jesus Christ.  It begins then and there.  As you abide in Jesus Christ, He will give you answers to your questions and everything that you need to serve Him as He has promised He would.

John 15:9-17

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Your service for Him in the church and in the body will show the love that you have for Him as He has for you.  It is this love that builds up the body and even wins people over personally for Jesus Christ who do not know Him.

When change occurs in the church, are you calling for someone else to step up to the challenge, or are you calling on Jesus Christ for wisdom and answers?  Are you listening to your own desires to play it close to the vest, or are you listening to God’s call to you?  He is readily calling on each of you to take action as an active member of the body.  Listen to Him carefully in faith and respond to His call, and He will give you the desire and the direction you will need to be of service for Him.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

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The Crown of Righteousness

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
Doing what is right often requires sacrifice, and even though it is not evident right away, there is always a blessing in it. Our nature often looks at the results that come from doing what is right; yet, it is beneficial to us.The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) is in addition to salvation. It is this righteousness of Christ that it is attributed to a person because of the heart of the individual and a conscious effort to consistently focus on doing the right things. It is a reward for behavior, speech and thoughts that reflect godly character.

At the close of the Grecian games the successful athletes were rewarded victory crowns. The crowns were a public recognition of success in their event. In the same way, the crowns received by a Christian are in recognition of how we live our Christian life. They are rewarded for the goodness and quality of the believer’s work, thoughts and actions. These things are measured by God in righteousness.

Matthew 13:43
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

Matthew 12:36
I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.

Psalm 37:30
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;
his tongue speaks what is just.

Matthew 25:35-40
35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.

The crowns are to given out at the bema seat of Christ. At that time, we will stand to be rewarded for deeds done in the body.

1. Acceptable works in the sight of God (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

1 Corinthians 3:9-15
9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.

2. Work is done rightly…no shame or wrongdoing (Mark 12:1-4; 1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Samuel 15:1-3, 9). Doing what is right is based solely upon our obedience to God…not just in what appears to be good.

Mark 12:1-4
1 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. 2 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers. 3 But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent another slave to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully.

1 Corinthians 6:5
I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who is able to arbitrate between his brothers?

1 Samuel 15:1-3, 9
15 Samuel told Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people Israel. Now, listen to the words of the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord of Hosts says: ‘I witnessed what the Amalekites did to the Israelites when they opposed them along the way as they were coming out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

9 Saul and the troops spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, cattle, and choice animals,[a] as well as the young rams and the best of everything else. They were not willing to destroy them, but they did destroy all the worthless and unwanted things.

3. There is no compromise with sin (Proverbs 13:15; 25:26).

Proverbs 13:5
The righteous hate lying,
but the wicked act disgustingly and disgracefully.

Proverbs 25:26
A righteous person who yields to the wicked
is like a muddied spring or a polluted well.

4. Our right actions result in our needs being met (Isaiah 33:15-16).

Isaiah 33:15-16
15 The one who lives righteously
and speaks rightly,
who refuses gain from extortion,
whose hand never takes a bribe,
who stops his ears from listening to murderous plots
and shuts his eyes to avoid endorsing evil—
16 he will dwell on the heights;
his refuge will be the rocky fortresses,
his food provided, his water assured.

Example: Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln – Presidential Race (The Lincoln-Douglas debates). There were seven debates, and each of them focused on the topic of slavery.

“If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong” –Abraham Lincoln

It is not good to say that sinful behavior is acceptable in our mind…with Jesus Christ, there is a clear difference between right and wrong. It is an eternal difference and distinction.

2 Timothy 4:8
There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.

1 John 3:2-3
2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.

Isaiah 25:9
On that day it will be said,
“Look, this is our God;
we have waited for Him, and He has saved us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for Him.
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

God will judge us on right and wrong, for His kingdom is about righteousness, and we have to deal with a world filled with perversion by practicing a life of righteous living. Doing the right thing means making a decision to trust God.

Psalm 58:11
Then people will say,
“Yes, there is a reward for the righteous!
There is a God who judges on earth!”

Romans 14:17
…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Lord God is a righteous judge. Your works will be examined. All that we do in obedience and righteousness is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:10
But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God.

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.

1 Corinthians 3:13
…each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work.

John 6:63
The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

Acts 13:2
As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.”

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Romans 8:14
All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

We are right when we love and not hate.
We are right when we help others.
We are right to show mercy to others.
We are right to reveal grace.
We are right to deal with truth.

Every moment of each day, we are choosing to do what is right or what is wrong. Each of us will give an account to God for what we do or say. The future crowns of righteousness are recognition for being a “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).


Faith: Passing the Supreme Test

Our special thanks to our guest speaker, Rev. Alfonso Tyler, for presenting today’s message.

This message deals with faith–more specifically, the testing of your faith. All of us have been through times when we are tested by God according to our faith. Many of us have something in our life that is near and dear to us or is important to us, and it may stand between whether or not can use us or be of complete service to Him. Sometimes, God has to bring one to a place where one would choose to release what is near and dear in order to be able to serve Him completely. This applies to Abraham, where God tested his faith, as we read in he learned that very same thing, as we will read in Genesis 22:1-18.

Genesis 22:1-18

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” So early in the morning Abraham got up, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.” Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.

Note that verse 1 refers to things that occurred in Abraham’s life prior to this point where God had to continue to work with Abraham (at that time, he was named Abram) through the many significant changes in his life. In previous chapters, Abraham was told to leave his home land (Genesis 12:4) and, eventually, his family (Genesis 13:11) and that he would have a family (his son Isaac), even after he and Sarai would be very advanced of age (Genesis 17:3-9, 15-19; 18:10). Also note that God had changed Abraham’s name (from Abram), whose name, according to studies on the subject, reflected how God, who had blessed Abraham, who remained faithful and obedient to Him. His reassurance and promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations was reflected in his name change as an act of “breathing life” into him (Genesis 17:5-6). The same principle occurred with Sarai’s name change to Sarah, who, even at age 99, would have a son (Genesis 17:15-16). God had blessed both of them and gave them two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, who would both be the fathers of many nations. God had declared, however, that Abraham’s offspring would be through Isaac; as a result, Abraham was obedient to God when the time came to cast Ishmael out of the family, even though this was very difficult for him to do (Genesis 21:11-14). All of this was part of God’s preparation for Abraham to his ultimate test with Isaac and the sacrifice in Genesis 22.

God wants all believers, such as Abraham was, to be FAT–faithful, available, and teachable.

God dealt with Abraham over time to teach him that he was to trust God in all circumstances, even in those areas where the situation or circumstances seem impossible. There are some of us who are being told to do something by God, yet we will not do it because we may lack in faith over what God is asking. God will challenge us to stretch our faith and look beyond what may seem to be impossible. Abraham was at the point where he was responsive to God and was willing to allow God to provide whatever that was needed. This is the ultimate test of our faith and trust in Him.

When God speaks to you, He does so through His Word. All that He requires of you is your obedience to His command, and to trust that He will provide for you, and that provision will be a blessing. It starts with your act of faith.

Note that in verse 5, Abraham asked the young men traveling with them to wait where they were while he and Isaac went ahead to worship God. It is safe to assume that the young men accompanying Abraham would not have allowed Abraham to raise the knife against his son, Isaac. Abraham went ahead to be compliant to God’s will, not having all of the information as to what would happen. Not knowing what will happen in the future is the essence of having faith and trusting in Him. At that time, however, it was God’s will that Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice on the altar. Abraham, nonetheless, remained faithful.

While James writes about a living faith that man sees (James 2:14-26), faith is demonstrated by what God sees. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was offering up his unique son, about whom it had been said, in Isaac your seed will be called. He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, from which he also got him back as an illustration” (Hebrews 11:17-19). What Abraham did was special in that his faith was so profound, he believed that, even if Isaac was the sacrifice, he believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead.

In verses 6 and 7, Isaac remained obedient to his father throughout the process of preparing for the sacrifice, and Abraham noted that God would provide himself a sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). Please note the similarity in that Jesus Christ, in the same way, was obedient to His Father in carrying His cross and giving His life as a sacrifice.

Notice that God did not stop Abraham from laying a hand on his son until the last instant (Genesis 22:12-13). Note that God did not want Isaac’s life, but He did want Abraham’s heart. God wants your heart. He wants you to completely surrender to Him.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). God wants more than just your heart, but He wants you to be transformed to serve Him according to His will. God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer. Don’t make it only a one-sided conversation. Seek what He is saying to you through His Word. When you totally surrender to Him, you will discover your gifts and talents in service for Him.


Using Our God-Given Authority and Power

Are we, as believers in Jesus Christ, living with the true authority and power that Christ has given us? Living in this power and authority would not be done in a voice of arrogance or braggadocio, or in such a way to put someone else down. We are to live in the way that Jesus spoke to the people, in a respectful manner and with a quiet, yet confident spirit. We are to conduct ourselves in a way that reflects a Christlike manner. Believers are to speak with power and authority that does not come from our own abilities, but instead from God, the father, through Jesus Christ in the accomplishment of His will. God’s authority and power, to effectively work in our lives, requires obedience to His Word and actively assuming the responsibility that comes with obedience to God’s will. When we, as believers in Christ, observe the various areas in and around our lives that need to be fixed or improved, how are we to respond? In the decade of the 60s, many people responded to the various social injustices that were in existence by joining civil rights organizations and taking action. In the same way, do we, as a church, look at today’s issues with a heart for the people, or have we become numb and indifferent? As followers of Christ, in our obedience to His Word and in accord with His will, we have a responsibility to take action in our community and in our sphere of influence to make a positive difference (2 Chronicles 7:14). Unless God’s people get involved, and people see how you are working for the Lord in your service, how is God to be glorified? We are to lead by example and do more than just pray over someone’s situation or circumstances. He desires for us to act in the power and authority of Christ to offer assistance on today’s social issues, including the improvement of public education, preventing teen suicide, and counseling families who are struggling or broken, to name a few. When we fail to use our God-given power and authority, we are doing more “running away” from the problems instead of “standing” (Ephesians 6:11) or effectively moving forward in a positive manner in His service.

To choose to not stand on your authority and power is to live in the wilderness, as the nation of Israel did (Numbers 14:26-37). The moment that you make up your mind that you desire to serve the Lord, you will be able to press on and fight on behalf of His will, and in doing so, He will enable you with power and authority to accomplish it. God knows that we will not have the ability to accomplish His will on our own strength, but all that He requires is that we have the desire and drive to do the work. If we choose not to do this, we are often out of His will and we are ultimately disobedient to His Word. We will wind up battling ourselves, living in doubt and despair, failing to live up to our true potential, roles and purpose in Jesus Christ. When we operate without God’s power and authority, we render ourselves as useless…we live, in our ineffectiveness, in the wilderness.

Israel wandered for 40 years because of their unwillingness to recognize God for who He is and trust in Him for their needs. No matter what God had done for the people, He did not change the minds of the people because there were those in the midst that broke their covenant with the Lord and who were disobedient to the Lord, in spite of everything He had done for them. God had declared that those individuals, because of their transgressions, were to wander in the wilderness and eventually die off. They would not see the promised land (Numbers 14:26-35). God did not want this group to have any negative influence on those left to remain and who emerged from the wilderness. When the time was right once more to reestablish His covenant, God gave Joshua the command to circumcise those who desired to follow Him (Joshua 5:2-8).

To act in the power and authority of Christ, there must be a desire to read and study God’s Word. God had bring about a change of your heart and attitude when we believe in His Word, as His Word is trustworthy and it brings us wisdom and discernment (Psalm 19:7-8). There is joy and peace in knowing more about the Lord. When we see the world and the community around us as God sees it, we would realize and know, with confidence, that in the power and authority of Christ, that no problem is too large to solve, and that there is no circumstance or situation greater that God’s ability to change it. Do we see the things around us in such a way where it bothers us? When we see sin abounding, it should bother us (Acts 17:16).

When we do not act in the power and authority of Christ, we become lukewarm and insensitive Christians. Observe the attitude that one can have when one chooses to not use God’s power and authority. “‘Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get'” (Luke 18:11-12). In stark contrast, look at the sincerity of heart as demonstrated by the tax collector. “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn your wrath from me–a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14).

We are to guard against being too busy or to make excuses to keep us from serving the Lord (Luke 9:57-62). We are to allow God to adjust the things in your life when you focus on serving Christ and being obedient to Him. Let Him take care of the details in your life. Lukewarm Christians will inevitably put limits on what they do in service for the Lord. Put all of the earthly wisdom and riches aside and trust God in everything, for it is far greater and more valuable than earthly wisdom and riches–it is about God’s provision of eternal wisdom and wealth, which is far more than we could ever imagine (Luke 18:21-25). To be a living sacrifice means to love everyone as Christ loves everyone (Matthew 5:43-47). When we trust God in this area, He will give us the power and authority to be a living sacrifice for Him.

God also desires for us, in His power and authority, to have wisdom and insight through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:15-19). We need to seek Him to know Him better, but God graciously will give you even more than what anyone can provide as we grown in Him. We do not know how much power and authority that we have when we live in doubt and without trusting Him, but we have the ability to accomplish a great deal when we live according to His will (Ephesians 1:20-23). Everything is under your feet and you are able to act in God’s power and authority and are able to overcome Satan and all obstacles that we will face.

Understand who you are in Christ…live and speak with power and authority in all that you set out to do. You will not be in the wilderness if you are trusting God and living according to His will…you will be living a life of victory in Jesus Christ.


Knowing the Power That You Have in Christ

But to all who receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

With that statement comes power and authority. God, through Jesus Christ, gives us this power through His authority as our Lord and Savior. We, as believers, have to learn, over time, that we have power over Satan and the world. Do we always use this power to our advantage? Satan would like for us, as believers, to think that we are limited in our scope and our abilities. We, as believers, should see that there is a difference in the world. There should a distinction between the believer’s world and the world we live in. Satan knows that believers have authority in Jesus Christ, but he wants us to think that we do not have power. God wants us to not only live in His authority, but also to recognize His power. We have to learn to use the power that God has given us in order to step forward, progress, and grown in Christ.

Do you know the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within you (as a believer)? We cannot live on our own accord without the Spirit giving us direction to live according to God’s will. Without the Spirit, we live in our own strength and in the flesh. “So many Christians live not knowing the power of the Holy Spirit.” —Adam Rogers

Living as a believer requires an ongoing conditioning. God is looking at our conduct and our behavior. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-5).

The difference between a Christian (powered by the Holy Spirit) and a non-believer (without the power of the Spirit) is a person who desires to fulfill the will of God and one who desires to have his or her own way and operates on their own strength. In our own strength, our energy will have limitations. In that difference, God uses the person who relies upon the Spirit and operates in God’s power. When you are after what the Spirit desires, you realize that you are unable to operate in the flesh. It has to be accomplished in the Spirit, and the power of the Spirit operating within us. There are scores of Christians who are not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is evident by the lives that they live. “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him” (John 7:38). The believer’s life for Christ will reflect God’s power, and it will be evident to others that they come into contact with (Acts 4:33). To be used of the Spirit is to be used by God in accomplishing His glory. The Christian who gives His life to the Lord and allows the Spirit to work in their life will show the true power of Christ to others. In this area, people will see evidence through your works. People will see more than just one’s words; they will see God working in their actions (James 1:22-25). We are a testimony of the living God!

Being a Christian requires a transformation by the Holy Spirit. We cannot change, or transform ourselves, in our own ability. Being a Christian in obedience to the Lord provides us with power and freedom through the Holy Spirit, which guides you and goes beyond the following of only rules and regulations. In this power, there is a joy in our life as we listen to Him, serve Him, and step out in faith. “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance…” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). “Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone” (Luke 4:14-15). See also Luke 4:18-19. “But as for me, I am filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and courage, to proclaim to Jacob his rebellion and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8). Note that you have the power and authority to proclaim God’s message and to live accordingly.

In our own flesh, we are powerless. Without the Spirit’s power we put:
1). Style over substance
2). Image over reality
3). Perception over performance
All are the outer works of the flesh.

We should not allow the flesh to do the work. The Spirit must be the source of God’s power (Luke 9:25; John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:11-16). With God’s power comes the ability to yield to the actions of the flesh (Ephesians 4:30-32; Psalm 127:1). “For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:17-18).

God has given us the authority in Christ, and with that authority comes great, limitless power. Do not let the world tell you otherwise. God loves you and wants to use you for His glory and purpose. We, in response, need to allow the Spirit to operate in our lives in order to see God’s will in our own life. He will be faithful to us as we are faithful to Him. There is power through the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live the abundant life in Jesus Christ.


Ushers: Ordained by God for Service

There are many roles of service for persons within the body of Christ. Today, we are focusing on our ushers. Ushers play an important role in our church. As we take the time to thank the Lord for their service, it is our desire that you will see that their work is truly for the Lord, Jesus Christ and His church. As the recipients of the service provided by ushers, we will explore what they do for us and see the value of their service from a biblical perspective.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-14, 9:25 – They do it for crowns that will last forever. The Lord will give them their reward.
  • Hebrews 10:23-24 – Our role is to encourage them to continue on with their work.
  • So the Lord repaid me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight” (Psalm 18:24). God rewards us for our service when we live faithfully in our service for Him.

The word usher is referred to in the Bible as a gatekeeper, doorkeeper or simply a keeper. The word is derived from ush, meaning “to enter into.”

The usher had many duties:
1. Keeper of the city gates
2. Announcer of dignitaries
3. They went before high-ranking people to clear their way
4. They directed individuals to their proper place
5. They were in charge of who to admit or permit into the building
6. They were the ones who made it possible for the speaker to be heard (not allowing disruptions in the room)

Ushers originated from the Levites (2 Chronicles 8:14, 23:18-19). They were the overseers that David had assigned for service at the gates in the Lord’s temple. They made sure that the proper reverence was used in worship of the Lord when entering the temple. There should be, for us, a value when we approach the Lord. When we grow in our relationship to the Lord, we also should have some reverence to our view of God and in our worship of Him. They also assisted the priests in the temple and they also were overseers of the collection of the funds (2 Kings 12:9, 23:4; 2 Chronicles 34:9). The Levites were already highly regarded as priests in their own right. They were entrusted to supervise the work on behalf of the Lord and in His temple. They were operating as overseers and gatekeepers operating within the body in their service (Nehemiah 7:1, 3, 45; 1 Chronicles 23:3-5). David and Nehemiah relied on the Levites as gatekeepers to serve the Lord in their various capacities, but even with all of this, “everything must be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Dwight L. Moody presented the importance of ushers during the revival period (Third Great Awakening, mid to late 1800s) of the church. He personally interviewed and selected 500 ushers to handle and direct the large crowds. He did it for two reasons: to show that we, who serve for the Lord and the church, are ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and that they have a quality about them that showed them as welcoming and hospitable (Romans 12:13).

In the embodiment of ushering, the usher has to reflect the gifts of the Spirit in his or her demeanor and actions. The joy of the Lord must be present, and there needs to be a love and reassurance that comes forth in sincerity and care. The usher must also use the proper discernment and wisdom to keep the peace and have the proper response to know what to do in emergency situations. Ushers need to be sensitive to the needs of the people and dedicated to the tasks at hand with a positive attitude and to be a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity” (Psalm 84:10-11). The joy of being at the gate as a gatekeeper has more value in God’s sight than to be out of fellowship with Him. An usher is not “just an usher” in his or her service for the Lord. It is a position ordained by God and it is a role of importance in our church that deserves our thanks and appreciation for their service.


God Sets The Standard For Qualification of Church Leadership

1 Timothy 3 (and Titus 1:5-9) addresses the qualifications of the person who seeks to be the leader of the church or in church leadership. There are specific requirements for those who have a strong desire to serve (1 Timothy 3:1-13). While some would say that the guidelines of 1 Timothy would not apply today, God’s desire is for those who seek to be the pastor to have a strong commitment and to live according to his specific guidelines. Paul was providing instruction to Timothy on this and other areas of ministry in the church. He told Timothy that God had already selected him for the work, even though he was a young leader, and that the elders laid their hands on him to also affirm that He was God’s choice (1 Timothy 4:14). Leading a church requires a call to ministry with an urging, and it should always be confirmed as a calling by the Spirit and not just as a childhoood desire. If you are working in ministry without receiving confirmation from God, it is a recipe for failure. God must provide the ability for anyone in leadership to serve Him effectively.

When does one demonstrate a desire for the office of pastor or bishop?
1. There is a letting go of the present.
2. There is a stretching forth and a reaching out.
3. There is a strong appetite and a longing to shepherd others (Hebrews 11:16; 1 Timothy 6:10).

What is the meaning of a bishop, presbyter, or a priest?
These titles always indicate the overseer of a particular congregation (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:2).

“If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work (1 Timothy 3:1).” It is not just the desire for the work, but it’s all about “the work.” The work is work for God (and it will be seen as either that of God or work of the flesh as time passes). The work for God is honorable, beneficial, and nothing to be ashamed of. It is good before God (as it is pleasing to Him) and man (as it has a benefit for mankind)–it brings glory to God and good unto its people. The work is not something you appoint yourself to do (Hebrews 5:1-6). Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and Abraham were selected by God to do His work, and he knew just when they were to be called to serve. Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father in that He did not appoint Himself to be High Priest. He was selected to be the Head of the church in agreement and was chosen by God. He had the desire to serve the Lord and met the requirements and qualifications to do so.