Tag Archives: believer

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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Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

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

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

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.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

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.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true 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.

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

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.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.


Team FOCUS: Serving in the Body of Christ

Today’s message of March 5, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

I was planning my monthly meeting the other day at my job with my team of collectors and assistants, and I stumbled on something to use within the meeting that I thought was quite meaningful.

To give a quick review, I now have a team of ten people, eight collectors and two admins, that report to me.  Part of my responsibility is to rally the troops and encourage them to work well as individuals, and also to work as a team for a common goal.  This is important because each of us are evaluated every year with team performance goals, and they have a significant impact as to our overall departmental productivity.

I came up with a way to define our collections group with a name, and I called it “Team FOCUS,” with the word “focus” featured in all capital letters.  If you know anything about company meetings, some of the people in the meeting are sincerely looking at you and listening, and some are looking down at the table, and some may even be doodling on their legal pad; nevertheless, the phrase “Team FOCUS” seemed to be well received.  I reminded everyone that, as a team member, each person is to focus on what tasks need to be done and to assist the other team members in order to achieve their goals for the year.

As I was planning this out, it occurred to me that there is application for this same type of focus within the church, and on an even grander scale, the body of Christ.  As Jesus calls upon His people to reflect His IMAGE in a Christlike manner, we are also to support each other and live amongst one another in peace, and often that means working well together as a team for a common goal.  In this effort, the most important goal is that Jesus Christ is glorified.

In other words, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to be humble before Him and live in obedience, and also be humble in the effort of working with other people within the body of Christ.

Oh, if it was all that simple to do.

The reality is that some of us just don’t play well with others.  Many of you certainly remember growing up with a group of friends that you enjoyed hanging out with, while there were others you tried to avoid because they either made fun of you or just didn’t like you.  That may be kids stuff, but adults seem to have refined this approach to become a special talent.

Look, we all have our favorites…our favorite people to hang around. But Christ calls us to do more than just hang out with our favorite people.  We are challenged to do more…go further.  It is another way that He sanctifies us within our relationship with Him.  The one who seeks Jesus Christ will find himself stretched and molded into someone that he never thought could happen, and that it would be a great thing!  God wants to bring you to a place where you are willing to do even more for Him as you step out in faith.

Note that this discussion is about working well within the body of Christ. Let’s be honest. If you can’t play well with others within the body, how in the world will you ever be the best you can be in discipling others in the body and in reaching people for Jesus Christ who are not saved?

And isn’t that exactly what this thing about discipleship is all about?  You can’t pick and choose your favorite people for this stuff.  If Christ sends someone into your path, are you willing to walk the path with that person, or will you back down and take another road?  Some will trust in Christ’s direction, while others will move in a different direction.  I challenge you to consider that following God’s direction is a much more meaningful path to take.

In order to be successful in Christ, you need to resist your own desires in the flesh and be humble, teachable and trainable in His ways.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

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.

Jesus Christ is looking for the ones who are willing to remain faithful and obedient to Him, and He responds, in kind, with the guidance that you will need to maintain the focus that we are to have in our service for Him.

Proverbs 3:1-6 HCSB

My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

for they will bring you

many days, a full life, and well-being.

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

In order to execute effectively this team FOCUS, we need to bring our own talents to the table.  God gives each of us a measure of talents and abilities that are available to support and edify each other within the body of Jesus Christ.  Each of us, in addition to these talents, brings a very unique trait…your own personality!  Of the ten different people who report to me at work, I believe I have seven or eight different personalities within the group!  Most of them work very hard…some harder than others, but ultimately at acceptable levels, and each person injects his or her personality into what they bring to the workplace.  God created you to be who you are, of course, and to share who you are within the body of Christ with your own uniqueness!

These individual traits make up your FOCUS within the team effort:

The “F” stands for fair-mindedness.

If you look up fair-minded in the American Heritage Dictionary, it is defined as “just and impartial; not prejudiced.” Your approach is to always project honesty and impartiality in everything that you take on.  When it comes to working with a group or a team, this can be easier said than done.  It can be easy to play favorites, be judgmental, or pick people to work with or witness to that seem friendly.  Christ calls for his people to have integrity and not only work with those who may not stand out as appealing, but also reach out to those who may even respond with hostility.  The key is to be responsive to the Holy Spirit in our movement throughout the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Colossians 3:23-24 HCSB

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

The “O” stands for organization.

While organization is often a guideline for business professionals, it is helpful for believers to carry out their service for Jesus Christ, both as individuals and within a group, in a formal, deliberate manner.  I’m all for spontaneity and being ready to move when the Spirit tells you to move, but having a plan for your life and striving to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ requires having a daily schedule of bible reading and prayer.  The events of life will require some degree of flexibility, and plans will most definitely change, but your Christlike life of planning and organization provides you with a baseline and guideline for effective ministry.

Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

In order for you to experience success in the Lord, you will also need to live for Christ in the body with consistency.

The “C” stands for consistency.

Your life in Jesus Christ every day will have its opportunities.  There will be victories, and you will also experience setbacks.  There will be praises to God from His blessings along with prayers to Him for mercy and comfort.  A consistent life in Christ, in His service, is a persistent life of faith, forgiveness, repentance and reverence.  In your consistent approach of looking to Jesus, the Holy Spirit provides wisdom, knowledge and understanding as He sanctifies you with His presence.  You will experience greater successes when you stay the course and remain consistently faithful in Jesus Christ.  Your desire to live for Christ will be acknowledged with blessings and testimonies that will glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The “U” stands for unity…being unified in your efforts.

Work within the body of Christ is the epitome of effective teamwork, especially when the members give a testimony that gives God the glory.  It is not about just the efforts of the individual.  It is about your service for the team, the group, the church.  It is for the testimony of God at work within you and the group.  Jesus is the reason why you do what you are doing.

Philippians 2:1-4 HCSB

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

The “S” stands for skilled.

You bring your skills that you have acquired over a lifetime, even perhaps as an expert in whatever field you are in, and they lend to a very good end-product with your contributions.  Your God-given talents and gifts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are provided for you to be successful in your ministry of Jesus Christ.  God wants people to serve Him in wisdom and knowledge with His talents and gifts to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ.

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

use it according to the standard of one’s faith;

if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Of course, this is far from an all inclusive list of gifts.  There are many examples of people in the Bible who have different professions or trades, and God will use all of these things to accomplish His glory and His purpose.  He wants you to use your skills in ministry in order to reach people for Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

“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.

Your FOCUS today is to be a better team member in service for Jesus Christ.  It begins with your desire to do more in Jesus Christ and to be open to many exciting opportunities as you work within the body of Christ to reach the lost.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Building the Family (Series Cont’d)

Today’s message summary of February 5, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We’re moving back into the study of building the family.  God is the One who does the work in building and shaping the person, and this applies within the family, as well.

Every dream that you have requires sacrifice in order to bring it into existence, and it involves yielding to the Father according to His will.  Sacrifice is giving up something good to get something even better.

A person should always have the desire to do better.  As a child of God, that is what He desires for you.

With every predicament in life, God requires a new behavior to be developed within the life of the believer.  (New believers are not given more than what they can bear by God; however, there is an expectation of growth and progression for the believer.)

Each believer should experience…

  • A deeper love for God and for others
  • A greater wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ
  • More patience
  • A desire to seek more understanding of others
  • A deeper development in his personal life

When God allows you to go through a crisis or difficulty, it is not just about facing the crisis…it is more about Him dealing with you.

It is easy to run in the other direction or even quit when things get difficult, but God desires to personally develop you.

When you are really to allow God to work in your life, He will guide your steps.  He does not want to see you fail, and it is not His desire to set you up for failure.

Building your own self-worth within the family helps to build the self-worth of others within the family.  Everyone in the family contributes to the life of the family.  There is good, bad and sometimes ugly that makes up the family.

How does God accomplish all of this?

We build a healthy self-worth by seeing life through God’s eyes.  It is not about what you want.  It is about living according to His will.  Your self-worth comes from how God values you.

He sent His Son to die for you.  That is how much He values you.

Most of our lives are busy working at what we want our life to be.

Colossians 1:9-10

For this reason also, since the day we heard this (that you became a believer), we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

 

You desire to do God’s will and not your own.

How does one build his self-worth? Focus on the will of God, and desire spiritual understanding of life.

Romans 12:2

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.

 

Psalm 84:11

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.

 

Proverbs 2:3-6

…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.

 

God’s knowledge and understanding is the beginning of growing a good self-worth within yourself.

Your self-image (your own concept of yourself–your identity, your abilities, your self-worth) is what you outwardly want people to see.

Worth:  value, merit, honor.  It is the value that God has placed upon you.

1 Peter 1:18-19

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.


The “It” Factor

A message text for Sunday, July 31, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

I have been actively involved in ministry now for over twenty-five years.  This is just a personal observation, but in that time, I have seen the actions and behaviors of many who profess to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.  I witnessed people who serve with dedication and with the desire to truly see people come to Christ.

You have to get your hands a little dirty to see the first fruits of the power of the Holy Spirit working according to God’s will, which is for every person to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ:

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

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

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

God desires for everyone He created to be saved.  Not everyone will experience His salvation, but that does not change His will.  You are to live an abundant life for Jesus Christ to help people see the love of Christ, and have the desire to recognize the need for salvation in Christ.

I’ve seen many hardworking people that have found a way to tap into their talents and skills to serve Jesus Christ.  They are on the front lines with their words and actions declaring the gospel message.  They are concerned about the people who do not know Jesus Christ.  They are making themselves available to seek the lost.

Yet, there are many, many more people that I have observed who profess belief in Jesus Christ but are absent from many church activities, such as neighborhood outreach, visitations, or even the customary church gatherings (except for those when free food is being served!).  They may have even seen those that are working in the trenches for Christ, but they are not compelled to get involved.  It has nothing to do with how busy a person’s life is, for even the busiest people still have the desire to jump in somewhere—wherever they are—and work for the Kingdom from time to time.

While it would be wrong to question the motivation of these people, or even give consideration to the authenticity of their faith, it is my conclusion that these people, who can readily watch others working for the gospel, just don’t get it.

They just don’t get it.  They just don’t get “It.”

What is the “It” that they don’t get?

For this discussion, “It” refers to a believer’s progression within their relationship with Jesus Christ—a progression where service is not seen as a duty or as an act of drudgery.  It is when a believer equates service with the love for other people as a reflection of Jesus Christ.  This progression is something that not every believer will attain, or even realize is possible.  It requires a devotion to Jesus Christ that must continue throughout the life of a believer.

When you become a believer, it is done with the immediate acknowledgment of the need for Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior.  It is done with humility, repentance and with the sincere desire for a new life trajectory.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Your new life in Christ now begins, and in the same way a child grows into adolescence, your relationship with Jesus Christ consists of a series of growth spurts.  It is now an ongoing training and life experience progression where you develop a heart of flesh—a sincere concern—for the fate of the lost.  Only Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, can orchestrate such a change.

Why do we need more believers who really “get it”?  It is because of the millions of people throughout the world that are lost.  There are many who are lost because they do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, and the tragedy of this is that many don’t even know that they are lost.  They are in spiritual darkness because of sinful behavior and willful disobedience.  Ravi Zacharias noted in his podcast, The Lostness of Men, “the worst effect of sin is the enslaved spirit” (Zacharias, 2008).  Sinful behavior gives the sinner the illusion that he is free to do whatever he pleases; in fact, he is merely a slave of sin.  When it comes to the heart of the unbeliever, it is a heart of stone that prefers conforming to the world instead of seeking Jesus Christ.  Because of this, Zacharias noted that “man is condemned eternally without Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10) as “sin is not just an act—it is an attitude” (Zacharias, 2008). The failure of the lost to acknowledge Christ as Savior results in dire consequences.  There is eternal condemnation and separation without Christ (Zacharias, 2008).

People who are lost need to see the love of Christ as often as possible.  More believers need to see the importance of this.  All of the world’s confusion and unrest today reflects the importance of believers possessing the “It” Factor as being more important than ever before.

The “It” Factor is what needs to be present in the life of a believer in order to effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is the One who enables this progression to participate in Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

A. B. Simpson refers to this progression as sanctification (Simpson, 1890). Sanctification is the growth of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ that promotes behavioral and relational change in the life of a believer. Jesus is the source of our sanctification (Simpson, 1890). It begins with the desire of a believer to separate from sin.  Simpson noted “the sanctified Christian is separated from sin, from an evil world, even from his own self, and from anything that would be a separating cause between him and Christ in the new life” (Simpson, p. 14, 1890).

Along with separation from sin, there must be a dedication to God and a conformity to the likeness and will of God (Simpson, 1890), which are the critical growth spurts that every believer is to experience as one yields to the Holy Spirit.  Simpson noted, “A sanctified Christian is submissive and obedient. He desires the Divine will above everything else in life as kinder and wiser for him than anything else can be. He is conscious that he misses something if he misses it. He knows it will promote his highest good far more than his own will, crying instinctively, ‘Thy will be done'” (Simpson, p. 14-15, 1890).

It is this progression within sanctification that reflects God’s love to everyone that the believer comes into contact with, especially those who are lost.  It is God’s love, and His desire to fellowship with believers, that turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh—a greater propensity for humility and obedience in a consistent practice of godliness before others:

Ezekiel 36:25-28 HCSB

I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.  Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.

In order for people without Christ to be compelled to leave their lost state of being, they need to see the love of God as often as possible.  This is the “It” factor.

It is not a given that a believer grasps this sanctification—the “It” Factor.  Simpson noted, “Many people make a mistake about some of these steps. Some of them are clinging to a little of their old goodness and therefore meet with failures. Others stumble at the second step.  They do not see that Jesus is their complete Sanctifier.  And many cannot take the third step and make a complete surrender of everything to Him.  Multitudes fail even when they have taken these steps in not being able to believe that Jesus receives them” (Simpson, p. 17, 1890).  The flesh, reminders of the past life, or confusion from life’s distractions, can keep a person from making progress.  Satan and his followers desire to wreck the relationship of a believer in Jesus Christ, and only reliance upon God’s strength through the Holy Spirit can overcome them:

Ephesians 6:10-13 HCSB

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

The believer who is still trying to “get it” must see the urgency and importance in the progressive development in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In order to develop that heart of flesh, he must be willing to—and strive to—learn more about Jesus Christ.  He must do the following:

  1. Investigate the Bible. Read the bible daily, and not just read it, but dig deeply into its meaning.    Knowing Jesus means knowing His Word as much as possible.  A believer should not only make a plan to read, but also use study references and commentaries to provoke and compel thought to create a greater understanding of who Jesus Christ is.  A habit of daily Scripture reading is a process of growing to appreciate God’s way of communicating, instructing and teaching a believer.
  1. Meditate on His Word. For a fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ, a believer must communicate with God through active prayer and meditation (Psalm 1:1-3).  The practice of meditation is a way to close any gaps of communication between the Holy Spirit and the believer, and to promote greater instruction and knowledge of the character of Christ.
  1. Act on His Word through obedience. The Spirit compels the person who is faithful to Jesus Christ to go and reflect the love of Christ to everyone the person interacts with each and every day.  A believer who is closely following Jesus Christ impacts the world around him with the presence of Christ in everyday life!
  1. Grow each day in sanctification. The Holy Spirit enables the believer with the capability to progress over time to learn more about Jesus and resist those things that can hamper his relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:18).
  1. Endure each day through any hardship or difficulty as you glorify God. It is through endurance that one develops the character of Christ (Romans 5:3-5).

James 1:2-4 HCSB

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.

Perhaps you picked up on the fact that the five points of progression and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ make up the acronym IMAGE.  It is fitting that you live out this IMAGE in Christ, for it is His desire for you, as His creation in His image (Genesis 1:26-27):

  • To live a life for Him that becomes more fulfilling and fruitful as you are sanctified in His presence.
  • He desires for you to experience the fulfillment of the love of Christ and share it with others through your powerful words and your actions!
  • This results in a mutual effort, with you and the power of the Holy Spirit, to show the love of Christ to anyone and everyone that you come into contact with!
  • It is the culmination of your obedience to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

The strong believer in Jesus Christ truly gets “It.” He is willing to live openly for Jesus Christ and is compelled to reach the lost because Jesus wants the very same thing—to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  A believer who is still learning about what it means to live a life of totality for Jesus Christ will soon get “It” as long as he seeks the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart.

There is a great need for people to join Christ in the Great Commission to seek and reach the lost.  There is a lot at stake, and it is for all eternity:

Matthew 9:35-38 HCSB

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

If you don’t get it, and you don’t get “It,” I pray that you do, and that you do it very soon.  The body of Christ needs your help to reach the lost.

 

References

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Zacharias, R. (2008, June 22). The Lostness of Man [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/let-my-people-think/listen/

Simpson, A. (1890). The Fourfold Gospel. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications.

 

Developing your IMAGE:

 

Investigate God’s Word

Meditate on His Word

Act and apply His Word

Grow in Jesus Christ

Endure the hardships that will certainly come

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Jesus is Coming

A message summary of June 5, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Everything is about preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is coming, and Christians are going to be with Him!

I.  He is coming unexpectedly!

Revelation 16:15

Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.

Jesus is indeed coming, but He is not giving advance notice. Why?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord. We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

About the times and the seasons: Brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

1 Thessalonians 5:9

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The believer has been warned! He is calling for people to live in righteousness going forward. The past is the past. How will you live today and in the future?

2 Peter 3:9-10

The Lord does not delay His promise, and some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.

His delay is actually patience. He is certainty coming back soon, but He wants to see as many people as possible come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He does not want to see anyone perish.

Matthew 24:42

Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.

Keep watch! Are you looking for His return? You need to have a sober mind.

Mark 13:32-37

Now concerning that day or hour no one knows–neither the angels in heaven nor the Son–except the Father. Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his slaves, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming–whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, he might come suddenly and find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!

Be on guard! Be alert!

Luke 12:35-40

Be ready for service and have your lamps lit. You must be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once. Those slaves the master will find alert when he comes will be blessed. I assure you: He will get ready, have them recline at the table, then come and serve them. If he comes in the middle of the night, or even near dawn, and finds them alert, those slaves are blessed. But know this: If the homeowner had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.

Be dressed (your loins will be girded about).

Satan wants you to be undressed and unprepared.

v. 37 – it will be good (you will be blessed)

v. 38 – it is good to be ready

 

II.  During this time it is important to stay awake. Be aware! Be alert!

1 Peter 5:8

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

1 Peter 4:7-10

Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else,

for it is the source of life.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.

1 Timothy 6:20-21

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent, empty speech and contradictions from the “knowledge” that falsely bears that name. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith. Grace be with all of you.

Stay awake: to give strict attention to, to be cautious, to take heed lest through remission (laxity) and indolence (slothful, not diligent, restlessness); some destructive calamity can suddenly overtake you if you are unprepared.

Ephesians 4:27

…and don’t give the Devil and opportunity.

 

III. There is proper clothing for each occasion. A welder needs to wear the appropriate clothing. Using chemicals requires the proper clothing.

Matthew 22:11-14

But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes? The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For many are invited, but few are chosen.

Proper clothing is…

Isaiah 61:10-11

I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

2 Corinthians 5:3

…since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

Revelation 19:8

She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.

For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, “Sir, you know.” Then he told me: These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

We are not to be naked (unaware) and, as a result, shamed as we live our lives. Satan desires to keep us in a place where we are not ready for Christ’s return–through sin and self-righteous behavior.

We are to be ready.


The Wrath of God

A message summary of May 1, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A lot of people go to church unaware of what or whom they are worshiping.

The saints of God are not appointed to God’s wrath, but it does not mean that there will not be suffering. The saints will be in opposition to those who are worshiping something other than God; specifically, the Antichrist. The world will eventually come more and more against those who are the true followers of Jesus Christ.

God is looking for a commitment from the people who are unsure about what to do. Paul said that he was not ashamed of God, and it is God’s power through salvation that protects the believer.

Wishy-washy Christians are unable to take a stand for Christ.

Believers will be under attack by Satan.

Revelation 6:9

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had.

Revelation 11:7

When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them.

Revelation 13:7

And he was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. He was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.

The saints will have to endure and persevere. Those, however, who worship the beast and especially those who received the mark (a firm commitment to Satan) will receive their due.

Revelation 14:11-13

“…and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

Are you able to make your testimony stick before others?

In order to remain faithful to Jesus, you will need to endure a lot of hardship. The ones who remain faithful to the end will be blessed.

The content of the bowls have an effect only on those who have received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

Revelation 16:2

The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

Exodus 10:21-23

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. One person could not see another, and for three days they did not move from where they were. Yet all the Israelites had light where they lived.

Exodus 9:25-26

Throughout the land of Egypt, the hail struck down everything in the field, both man and beast. The hail beat down every plant of the field and shattered every tree in the field. The only place it didn’t hail was in the land of Goshen where the Israelites were.

Exodus 8:22-23

But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where my people are living; no files will be there. This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. I will make a distinction between My people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.

Even through the time of the Great Tribulation, God is protecting His people, and even in death. You are assured of eternal life and happiness with Him.

Those who do not take the mark of the beast were treated differently that those who did, but it hardly got them off the hook from God’s judgment.

God does not hold the unbeliever in esteem. He makes the distinction between those who are His and those who deny Him. Believers have the seal of Christ upon them.

There will be those who will still try to decide whose side they will be on.

Joshua 24:14-15

“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.

This is belief in Christ in action.

Exodus 32:25-26

Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, resulting in weakness before their enemies. And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.

Revelation 16:9

…and people were burned by the intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.

Titus 1:10

For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.

John 4:22

You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews.

Humanity has always been religious in some way, shape or form. No culture is without some sort of faith or some ritualistic practice of religion. Being religious is not a saving mark of God. You can be religious without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but you can’t be saved without Him.

Ephesians 1:13

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9

You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Revelation 7:3

Dont harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.

2 Timothy 2:19

Nevertheless, Gods solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription:

The Lord knows those who are His, and

Everyone who names the name of the Lord

must turn away from unrighteousness.