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Living in The Spirit: Wash, Rinse and Repeat

This message is about putting your best foot forward. The expression “best foot forward” may go back about 500 years, and it even implies having more than two feet, but the phrase has stuck around to mean that a person should “embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto.” [1] It also means to make sure to appear to be at your very best and to try to make a very good impression. The result of this effort is for someone, or even a group of people, to have a very good opinion of you. [2] In this day and age, how important is that?

In order to be recognized, you have to stand out amongst a group of people. You have to be memorable—in a good way. The opposite of this is to be easy dismissed and forgotten. For example, I have performed a few job interviews over the years. Some interviews were fantastic, while others were boring. Others were sad and pitiful. Some were outright hilarious and, at the same time, ridiculous. Here’s a hint: only the fantastic ones resulted in hires.  Some people, on interviews, seem to go out of their way to botch it up.

When you are interviewing for a job, you always want to leave a good impression—even if you think you have no shot at getting the position.

It should be second nature for the believer in Jesus Christ to leave a good impression wherever he or she may go. While the person interviewing for a job makes a conscious effort to look good before the interviewer, a believer should be living in this way as if it were natural or of a second nature. It should be done with an unconscious effort. Why is that? It is because all of the real effort comes from living in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Galatians 5:25 NLT

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Of course, living by the Spirit is often easier said than done. The very act of living by the Spirit is only possible with a faith relationship in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-13 HCSB

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Note that all He requires of a person is to “call on His name.” You don’t have to do anything special. You do not need to get ready to get ready to get ready. He just wants you to call on Him. You simply need to believe that He is the One who died on the cross for you. It is an act of faith. You don’t have to figure everything out first. Just believe in Him. Once you believe in Him, the Holy Spirit will dwell within you and help you to begin to figure everything else out about this living in the Spirit stuff. Believing in Jesus Christ is just the beginning! Once you commit to Him, He fully commits to you, and He does it for all eternity!

Sadly, there are many who remain indifferent or even obstinate about Jesus Christ…even to the point where it is easier to blot Him out of our discussions or our schools or public events. The end result, and it is a trick of Satan, by the way, is that what you can’t see won’t convict you of your sin and your lifestyle. What many people don’t realize is that they are already condemned because of sin. You can’t hide God in a closet. Your condemnation remains in place. You cannot fellowship with God in your sin. There is nothing that can cleanse you from your sin except to believe in Jesus Christ and, as a result, live by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

So what about this cleansing by Jesus Christ? There is a reason why John in the first verse of his gospel refers to Jesus Christ as the living Word. The very act of hearing His Word and responding to it is a cleansing.

So, in order to live by the Spirit, it requires three very important things that will lead to success in this endeavor:

1.) Wash (act of obedience)

2.) Rinse (using clean water; the Living Water that refreshes and cleanses)

3.) Repeat (practice over and over to get better)

First: the washing. Once you declare Christ as Lord of your life, there is an acknowledgment that “old things have passed away (your old life)” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that you’re committing to a new life in Jesus Christ. You will now learn that obedience is a key element to this new life.

Turn to 2 Kings 5. In this episode of Scripture, we will be reading about Naaman and his encounter with the Lord.

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

Note that in order for God to work in your life, you have to acknowledge that He is Lord by obedience to His Word and His voice through the Spirit…even if it doesn’t make sense to you.

He will wash, and you will be cleansed. This washing speaks to us of the power of God’s Word and His presence in your life. This should lead the believer to continually seek His Word for guidance.

The washing of water has cleansing power.

Psalm 119:9-10 KJV

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Next: the rinsing. Rinsing is about the purification of the believer.

There is an eternal promise that God makes to the nation of Israel, but it also has application to the believer who has sinned that repents and goes to Christ for reconciliation:

Ezekiel 36:24-25 KJV

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Hebrews 10:22 KJV

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Living in the Spirit gives the believer a sprinkling, which sanctifies the believer over time as the relationship with Jesus Christ grows and develops. A believer, over time, learns how to sin less and to live more for Christ each and every day. Sanctification sets the believer apart for service, and a willingness to serve Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit generates such activity in the believer that there is growth and progression day after day, month after month, and year after year. All who see the believer can see the difference—be recognizable—be able to stand out amongst a group of people. As the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is distinctive, a believer is to be distinctive.

1 Corinthians 6:11b NIV

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Finally, after the wash and the rinse by Jesus Christ through the Spirit, there is “repeat.” To repeat means that it needs to be practiced over and over again, as Christ cleanses you on a daily basis. Reading God’s Word and remaining obedient to Him requires a consistent effort and a daily practice as He sanctifies the believer.

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.

Living in the Spirit requires a daily acknowledgment of the need for His presence, and it especially includes an honest, daily appraisal and acknowledgment of sin:

1 John 1:9 HCSB

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This daily progression helps the believer appreciate the profound love of Jesus Christ, and it is reciprocated over and over again. His love is everlasting.

Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His love for us should translate into how we show love for others. That is what makes the person who lives in the Spirit distinctive in a lost and dying world:

John 13:35 ESV

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Galatians 6:1-4 HCSB

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.

In other words, look to yourself in humility before Jesus Christ, and you will see others, and the world, much differently—just as Christ would have you to see it.

Living in the Spirit allows the believer to receive the full benefits of a relationship in Jesus Christ:

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Trust in Jesus Christ today, and He will remove your burden of sin and make you clean in an instant. He created you for the purpose of reaching others with the gospel of salvation, and He will give you what you need to be successful as He remakes you each and every day.

 

1 The meaning and origin of the expression: Put your best foot forward. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/put-your-best-foot-forward.html

2 Put best foot forward. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. (2002). Retrieved July 15 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+best+foot+forward

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

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The Fruits of the Spirit – Love

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

 

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith.

 

The fruit of The Spirit is the character or attitude displayed in ministry within your life.

Romans 12:4-8

4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

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

7 if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

8 if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

These gifts are referred to as administrative gifts. The body of Christ has different functions (v. 4) and there are different gifts within the body (v. 6).

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

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.

 

These gifts are for the common good (v. 7). All of these are works of the same Spirit. He gives them to each person as He determines.

The gifts that are made visible in their evidence and functionality. The attitude in which these gifts are presented will not be of the flesh, for the Spirit and the flesh are incompatible.

A note of caution: Satan and his demons can duplicate the very things that we see here. There are some things that must be evident with these gifts, however, that Satan cannot duplicate…love is the key element. Satan cannot copy agape love. Agape love comes only from God, and it is evident in your best interest when He is involved.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

1 If I speak human or angelic languages

but do not have love,

I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy

and understand all mysteries

and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith

so that I can move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,

and if I give my body in order to boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

5 does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends.

But as for prophecies,

they will come to an end;

as for languages, they will cease;

as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

 

The Spirit gives these gifts, but love must be the foundation of the manifestation of these gifts.

Love must be about the other person. Genuine love never fails and will touch the hearts of the people. (Note that love is the first fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.)

1 John 4:8 – God is love

Romans 5:8 – God demonstrated His love

How do you demonstrate your godly love to people. You do it without ego trips, pride, vain glory, self need, rewards, or showing off your knowledge.

Real love brings people you minister to along side of you–not behind you.

Romans 12:9

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.

1. A love that gives of self. John 3:16-17

John 3:16-17

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

 

2. A love that covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

1 Peter 4:8

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

 

3. A love that deals with our sin. Psalm 103:11-12; Micah 7:18-19

Psalm 103:11-12

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is His faithful love

toward those who fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed

our transgressions from us.

 

God wants us to have this very attitude when we minister to others…not seeing the sin, but seeing the person who needs to be ministered to.

Micah 7:18-19

18 Who is a God like You,

removing iniquity and passing over rebellion

for the remnant of His inheritance?

He does not hold on to His anger forever,

because He delights in faithful love.

19 He will again have compassion on us;

He will vanquish our iniquities.

You will cast all our sins

into the depths of the sea.

 

4. A love that doesn’t remember my sin. Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12

Isaiah 43:25

“It is I who sweep away your transgressions

for My own sake

and remember your sins no more.

Jeremiah 31:34

No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

Hebrews 8:12

For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,

and I will never again remember their sins.

 

5. We are called to love our enemies. Matthew 5:43

Matthew 5:43

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

 

6. We are called to love each other. John 13:35

John 13:35

“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

God wants you to have the type of love that people who are your enemies will see the difference of Christ in your life. You have to love them in order to minister to them. Love conquers all things.

If we are to use the gifts that the Spirit gives to us in the proper manner, they must all begin with agape love. It can only come from God Himself through the Holy Spirit. We can extend grace to others because we have received grace from Him. Amen.


Jesus’ Resurrection: How Does it Benefit Us?

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today we are here to acknowledge that Jesus lives! He desires to draw each of us near and embrace us with His love!

He is alive! We do not believe in a myth. He lives, and He lives within us through the Holy Spirit. Paul declared that he could do nothing without Him. He is the One who enables us to live for Him.

Today is a reminder of Jesus’ resurrection. How does His resurrection benefit us? We need to understand that our atonement is based upon the grace and actions of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection, there is no atonement for our sin. He died for your sin and my sin, and He arose. Many people have a problem with the fact that He is alive, and many question His presence today. We have to come to place to understand that Jesus Christ died for us to atone for our sin, and He rose again to prove that He is the One who saves.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures,

4 that He was buried,

that He was raised on the third day

according to the Scriptures,

5 and that He appeared to Cephas,

then to the Twelve.

6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;

most of them are still alive,

but some have fallen asleep.

7 Then He appeared to James,

then to all the apostles.

8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born,

He also appeared to me.

 

We are to learn of the totality of Jesus’ life on earth; in fact, we are to be reminded of it, because life will take you in many different directions and will even cause you to forget where you are in the faith.

Some people will not agree that there was a resurrection:

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

 

If Jesus Christ was not raised, then our meeting and any preaching on the subject is useless. We would be bearing false witness. But thankfully, that is not the case.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

 

Jesus Christ indeed was raised from the dead. It is a demonstration of God’s power, and it is the same power that people can see in your own life–a changed life for Jesus Christ. You are the one who has heard the Word from this truth, and you live according to God’s promises because of what He has accomplished for you.

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

 

The resurrection declares that He is the Son of God.

Romans 1:1-4

1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostleand singled out for God’s good news— 2 which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures— 3 concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of Davidaccording to the flesh 4 and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness.

 

Because of our resurrection, He is our mediator.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

5 For there is one God

and one mediator between God and humanity,

Christ Jesus, Himself human,

6 who gave Himself—a ransom for all,

a testimony at the proper time.

 

Hebrews 9:15

Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant,so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

 

Because of the resurrection, He is at the right hand of God.

Acts 2:32-33, 7:55-56

32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.

55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

 

Because of the resurrection, He is able to intercede for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is the one who condemns?

Christ Jesus is the One who died,

but even more, has been raised;

He also is at the right hand of God

and intercedes for us.

 

Hebrews 7:25

Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.

 

Because of the resurrection, He will judge us.

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.

 

Because of the resurrection, He is able to heal us.

1 Peter 2:24

He Himself bore our sins

in His body on the tree,

so that, having died to sins,

we might live for righteousness;

you have been healed by His wounds.

 

Because of the resurrection, He is coming back.

John 14:3, 28

3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.

28 You have heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

 

Acts 1:11

They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

 

Because of the resurrection, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him.

Philippians 2:10-11

…10 so that at the name of Jesus

every knee will bow—

of those who are in heaven and on earth

and under the earth—

11 and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

 

Romans 14:11

For it is written:

 

As I live, says the Lord,

every knee will bow to Me,

and every tongue will give praise to God.

 

Because of the resurrection, we act in faith today believing that Jesus hears our prayers and is willing to touch us at our very points of need.


With Change Comes Opportunities for Ministry

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

One of the most difficult things that my wife and I have had to do recently is to be involved in the process and decision to put down my father-in-law’s dog.  The decision came after the realization that the dog could no longer walk on his own without assistance, and it was causing Dad a great deal of stress and strain from the lifting and moving of the dog from indoors to outdoors, and back again.  The dog was suffering from degenerative nerve damage from his spine, and the medication that he was taking was not working anymore.  For the first time that I can remember, I saw Dad become emotional because he knew that the dog was suffering and had to go (he couldn’t use the words “put down” himself), and that he was losing his friend and companion of just over 15 years.

Deep down, I knew that we would be involved with Dad managing the health care of his dog this year, and we knew that the end was approaching, but we just didn’t know the exact day or time.  Even when you know it’s coming, it’s tough to prepare for it, and knowledge that it will eventually happen doesn’t make it any less emotional or painful.

Each of us has had moments like this one where the inevitable becomes evident, and there is an adjustment process that we must go through during the transition.  Life is a series of transitions within groupings of situations and circumstances, and our challenge is successfully navigating through these transitions with steadiness and grace, and not just from our own perspective, but in reflecting a positive demeanor and presence before others.  If you are looking at this from a selfless perspective, you will certainly understand the value of living a Christlike existence and as a Christlike example before others who do not know Jesus Christ as a personal Savior.

This message is about developing your ability to deal with the many changes that you will experience throughout your lifetime.  With the recognition that not everyone handles change in the same way, or even very well, there are valuable lessons that are embedded within these experiences.  It’s up to each of us to recognize them.  I will present information to support facts that the more you rely upon God’s perspective through these changes, the more that you will feel His supernatural presence in the midst of the change and the extraordinary ability to see and successfully navigate through these changes with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean for those of us who have a difficult time with change?  It’s one thing to be completely surprised and caught off guard with a situation, and it’s another to see it coming, but our responses can be strikingly similar in both instances.  Whether you know something is coming or not, we are to draw upon the peace and comfort of Almighty God as we meet these challenges.

I will cover four points about change today.  Two of them are obvious to each of us, while the last two are dependent upon the response of the individual.  Before exploring these, consider Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Change is rooted within the passage of time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 There is an occasion for everything,

and a time for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to give birth and a time to die;

a time to plant and a time to uproot;

3 a time to kill and a time to heal;

a time to tear down and a time to build;

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn and a time to dance;

5 a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;

a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;

6 a time to search and a time to count as lost;

a time to keep and a time to throw away;

7 a time to tear and a time to sew;

a time to be silent and a time to speak;

8 a time to love and a time to hate;

a time for war and a time for peace.

With these verses in mind:

1.  Change is inevitable

2.  Change is necessary

3.  Change is perspective driven

4.  Change is an opportunity

First, change is inevitable.  Without it, nothing can occur.  From the time of God’s creation of the world through the passage of time to the world that we see today, the world has changed.

Psalm 102:25

Long ago You established the earth,

and the heavens are the work of Your hands.

God is the author and orchestrator of all change.

James 1:17

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

From your own perspective, you have changed physically from the time you were born and through your stages of childhood into adulthood.  You have acquired knowledge as a preschooler through kindergarten, elementary and high school and through your job or profession.  All of this involved change.  Even most importantly, all of these changes had to occur to make you into the person that you are today.  The verse that shows the wisdom and value of seeking knowledge speaks for itself.

Proverbs 18:15

The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,

and the ear of the wise seeks it.

Next, change is necessary. When you are young, you need to grow in knowledge and learn about life in order to function well and survive. Many achievements over time are based upon performance, and require focus and effort in the short and long term.  Note the biblical truths that convey this message, especially when it comes to your growth as a believer in Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child,

I spoke like a child,

I thought like a child,

I reasoned like a child.

When I became a man,

I put aside childish things.

James 4:2b

You do not have because you do not ask.

Growing up is a requirement if you plan to be successful, and growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary in your spiritual growth. When change occurs, your growth and maturity will equip you with the ability to trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit with confidence.

Stop here for a moment–let’s deal with the reality that many people simply do not like change. What does change represent for those individuals?  Change represents a different, and sometimes uncomfortable movement to a place that may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar.  This has nothing to do with the end result of the change being good or bad for the person…it is the unfamiliarity of the situation that causes the discomfort.  This can be a big deal for some because there is a comfort in things that you are familiar with, and that’s even if you don’t necessary like it.  What we need to see in this discomfort is not the feeling itself, but the dependence that we truly have for God.  This discomfort should spark a desire in us to seek God in prayer, for direction, for peace in our discomfort, and–most importantly, trusting Him in the results through faith.

Hebrews 11:1-2

1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. 2 For our ancestors won God’s approval by it.

Romans 4:20-24

20 He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, 24 but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Philippians 4:6-8

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we live by faith, and not by sight.

This is where change, whether it is positive or negative, is all about your perspective.

If you are unable to reconcile with the reality of change and its inevitability, you may get stuck in the moment without seeing the blessings that occur during and after the change.  I can’t stress enough that in moments where change is taking place, and there is movement from one situation or circumstance to the next, the believer in Jesus Christ must continually seek God in the process beyond the mere change to receive the full effects and the benefits of God’s place and position in the midst of the development.  Ask God to show you, in the midst of change, what He wants to you to see in it instead of focusing only on your own perspective.

Psalm 145:18-19

18 The Lord is near all who call out to Him,

all who call out to Him with integrity.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;

He hears their cry for help and saves them.

Romans 8:28

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Our responsibility in the change we experience is to remain loyal and faithful to God, and He will make known His presence in all things.

Micah 6:8

Mankind, He has told you what is good

and what it is the Lord requires of you:

to act justly,

to love faithfulness,

and to walk humbly with your God.

To recap, we acknowledge that change is inevitable, it’s necessary, and it is perspective-driven.  Now let’s explore the opportunity that is in the midst of change.  With change, there is the opportunity to see things from a new perspective that you would not have observed without change, including how you see others that are also part of the change that you are experiencing.  This can lead to opportunities for discussion as to how God has been in the midst of everything that has occurred.

In Acts, chapter 8, Philip listened to the direction of the Spirit and spoke to the Ethiopian about the Scriptures he was reading as to their meaning, and he was able to use the opportunity of that moment to lead the Ethiopian to Jesus Christ.  The key points here are not just the conversion, but how Philip was listening to the Spirit and his availability to hear the Spirit’s direction.  Don’t miss the lesson of hearing the Spirit speaking to you during change.  It may not necessarily lead to converting someone to Christ, but it does mean that God will show, in your obedience to His Word, how you can be viewed as a person.  Your greatest attributes will shine as you remain faithful to God.  Your words of encouragement and affirmation will be well received, and it lays the groundwork for a opportunities to witness, both in the short and long term.  This is all the more reason that we, as believers, need to be ready for those very moments.

1 Peter 3:15-16

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

To summarize, change is constant and inevitable, and it can be good or not very good for the person who is going through it; however, it is not to be feared or dreaded.  Your perspective of change goes a long way in your ability to manage it, and it starts with seeing the change through God’s perspective.  If you trust in Him completely, He will show you where you need to go and provide you with what you need to grow, learn and endure the experience.  He will also show you how you can be a positive testimony for Him before others.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines.


The Benefits of a Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
I pray that God will bring understanding of His truth to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we read and hear His Word, allow the Spirit to speak to you and provide insight and direction as we trust in Him, and let Him minister to you.

How many of us know the real reason that we go to church? Only you can answer this question for yourself. Are you going to show your fashions or simply out of duty? Are you going to seek the Lord with all your heart?

Is coming to church beneficial to you? Do you understand its value and importance? Do you see how God is working in your life and in those around you? There really is something to gain in your participation. What are its benefits?

1. A church will teach you how to conduct yourself in life.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Do you see your relationship with God as joyful and all-inclusive in your life? A child of God is a member of His family, and you know how to behave and conduct yourself.

Philippians 1:27
Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel.

In church, you surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. In comparison, the world does not care about you nearly as much. In your obedience, you see the presence, power and glory of God working through the church. God renews your mind and changes your heart to become Christlike in your actions.

Psalm 63:2-5
2 So I gaze on You in the sanctuary
to see Your strength and Your glory.
3 My lips will glorify You
because Your faithful love is better than life.
4 So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
5 You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

2. In church you will gain understanding about life.

Do you know who you are in Jesus Christ? Have you asked about the advantages of being a Christian as opposed to living life as a sinner?

Psalm 73
God’s Ways Vindicated

A psalm of Asaph.

1 God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.
3 For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have an easy time until they die,
and their bodies are well fed.
5 They are not in trouble like others;
they are not afflicted like most people.
6 Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness;
the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
8 They mock, and they speak maliciously;
they arrogantly threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues strut across the earth.
10 Therefore His people turn to them
and drink in their overflowing words.
11 The wicked say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High know everything?”
12 Look at them—the wicked!
They are always at ease,
and they increase their wealth.
13 Did I purify my heart
and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
14 For I am afflicted all day long
and punished every morning.
15 If I had decided to say these things aloud,
I would have betrayed Your people.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.
18 Indeed, You put them in slippery places;
You make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
20 Like one waking from a dream,
Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.
21 When I became embittered
and my innermost being was wounded,
22 I was stupid and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.
23 Yet I am always with You;
You hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will take me up in glory.
25 Who do I have in heaven but You?
And I desire nothing on earth but You.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.
27 Those far from You will certainly perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

When you look at life for what it is, the blessing is more about doing the right thing as opposed to doing what your flesh desires to do. There is often hardship in following Christ, including persecution. You will find yourself making choices that will separate yourself from some friends and acquaintances, and it won’t be easy to do. There may even be some envy or jealousy over what others may do, but your love for God and your desire to please Him keeps you from sinning against Him and seeking righteous living. Please know and remember that there is are good consequences of faithful living and there are dire consequences of unrighteous living. The love of Christ strengthens you and builds you up, while ongoing sin only corrupts the mind and the heart of the perpetrator. In church, you learn about this and the clear distinctions between the two.

3. In church you learn reverence for God.

Psalm 5:7
But I enter Your house
by the abundance of Your faithful love;
I bow down toward Your holy temple
in reverential awe of You.