Tag Archives: body of Christ

Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

Today’s message summary of June 25, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are in a church, you should be able to see if God is doing something.  Do you hear from Him?  Do you attend church with the desire to seek Him and understand Him?

You should be able to see God, hear Him, and receive from Him something of value.  When you leave church, you should feel fulfillment and blessings.

God has a plan for each one of us.  Your church experience should not be one where you are just moving along with others.

Church and salvation, and church and the saints.  They represent the same thing.  To be a saint in the church because you have been saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Saints are called to serve in the body of Christ.  It’s more than just “walking with Jesus.”  Being called means that you have a purpose to do something in the body of Christ.  You are to be a participant in the body, and not just a spectator.

The church is the meeting place for those who desire to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not just for those who are saved.  It is for those who are looking for Christ and who are willing to, eventually, make a decision to follow Him in a relationship with Christ.  It began with someone speaking to the person and sharing about Christ.

The church is a group of people who have been drawn together by God to do the will of Jesus on earth, the work of Jesus Christ on earth, and to be His witnesses on earth.

John 6:44-45

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets. And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent me.

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

You will be a witness for Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 1:8

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

You can be a witness for God in your flesh, and it can become a matter of pridefulness.  Your true witness for Him will be when the Spirit is in control.  If you are going to function well within the church and be a witness for Jesus Christ, you will need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Every approach within the church should be to constantly evaluate whether or not the endeavors of the church are glorifying Jesus Christ.

The greatest organization on earth is the Church.  A lot of people do not know this, because sometimes the church doesn’t get it right; however, it is the place where God takes the least of us, and raises them up to do great things in His name.

You may have heard these remarks:

“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

“I don’t want to go to church.”

“The church isn’t doing anything for my spiritual life.”

The counter to these thoughts is that your Christian life is meant to provide works that are worth more than wood, hay or stubble.  To avoid church is to avoid functioning within the body of Christ. To not fellowship with other believers is more of a fleshly love than that of an agape love that Jesus desires for you to have.  Jesus wants you to have the heart of a servant and the desire to serve others, especially in this world where people feel that they are entitled to receive things.

When you come to church, everything won’t always be “nice.” Sometimes, you will need to be exposed to “iron sharpening iron.”  God’s Word is meant to convict and compel you to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”

The church may indeed be a philosophy, an institution, a culture and an enterprise, but it does not mean that people see it as a place where they desire to seek and follow Jesus Christ.  That was what the original intent of the church, and that is what God desires for His people to see in today’s church.

A church has to function in today’s society in much the same way as a business.  The church is dealing with spiritual matters, but it also takes on a business venture, where its members are willing to undertake new and risky projects and have active participation in projects.

We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  The church in action is a church that does good works in His name.

You can be a witness of the many things that only God can do if you are a participant in the church.


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


Satan’s Anger Revealed (Satan’s Downfall, Part 2)

 

Today’s message of August 9, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Satan hates you so much.  He throws stumbling blocks at you.  He wants to knock you out.

Satan wants to hinder your Christian walk and your faith. Why does he go to all of this trouble? You get all of his attention and you haven’t done anything. He does it because he knows he can’t defeat God, but he certainly can defeat you.

He fights with us on the decision that we make to trust Jesus Christ. If we obey Jesus, he persistently picks on us. Satan’s anger intensifies because he knows he is defeated in the end; however, he continues to attack the body of Christ and those who are God’s chosen people.

Satan’s defeat experiences come from God’s intervention:

  1. Satan’s first defeat–thrown out of heaven (Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9)
  1. The fall of man (Genesis 3)
  1. Abraham and Sarah (Isaac) (Genesis 17:19)
  1. Israel’s destruction (Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 25:8-11) – a period of 70 years
  1. Birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:13) – Escape to Egypt
  1. Jesus’ mission (Matthew 4:10) – “Get away from Me, Satan, for it is written…”
  1. Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 1:4)
  1. Satan cannot rule over the saints (Revelation 12:11)
  1. Satan’s beast and false prophet defeated (Revelation 19:20)
  1. Satan is defeated after being set free after being detained for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:10) – this time forever and ever.

Revelation 20:10

The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the

beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

 

Satan knows his end, and that is why he is angry. He will continue to wreak havoc on people and the church–those who follow Christ. Yet, God allows all of this to happen.

He wants you to believe that he does not exist. He wants you to believe that he cannot cause chaos in your life and family. He does indeed exist. Any belief that he is not around is contrary to Scripture.

Satan will deceive you to believe that all of your problems are the result of your trusting in God. Sin is powerful and it breaks up relationships.

Revelation 12:13-17

When the dragon saw that he had been thrown to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. The woman was given two wings of a giant eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent’s presence to her place in the wilderness, where she was fed for a time, times, and half a time. From his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river flowing after the woman, to sweep her away in a torrent. But the earth helped the woman. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. So the dragon was furious with the woman and left to wage war against the rest of her offspring–those who keep God’s commands and have the testimony about Jesus.

 

Satan is out to persistently hurt those who desire to follow Jesus Christ. He is out to hurt you because you chose to be on “the other team.”

His goal is to break you down to the point where you lose your love (block your view) of Jesus Christ.

Even when there are days where you cannot see Jesus, keep looking for Him and trusting Him (Matthew 7:7).

God indeed provides protection for Israel.

Psalm 115:12

The Lord remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron.

 

Exodus 19:4

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me.

 

2 Timothy 4:18

The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safety into His heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

 

Satan is powerful, but God is more powerful. God is always present to preserve and protect his people.  Rome had threatened to destroy Christianity, but God enabled the people to help prevent this.

Matthew 16:18

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

Ephesians 5:23

…for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.

 

Colossians 1:18

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

Satan is attacking the offspring (Revelation 12:17).

 

Galatians 3:29

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

Satan attacks those who obey God’s commandments (John 14:21). He opposes those

who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Those who provide evidence of salvation have a testimony that proclaims Jesus.

When you desire to keep Jesus’ commandments, evil will be there in your midst.

Turning your life over to Jesus gives you the ultimate victory. That is something to praise Him about!

Satan’s desire is to remove the evidence of salvation in the life of the believer–silence the believer in such a way that there is no visible evidence of Christianity.

Romans 10:13-17

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

 

Isaiah 45:22

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.

Acts 1:8

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

 

The good news is that God’s power remains evident in the life of a believer who trusts in Him. Satan will attack and try to cause difficulty, but you can be a powerful testimony for Christ to others…a witness for Christ.


Come as You Are—You Won’t Stay as You Are

A message text from Melvin Gaines for Sunday, August 24, 2014:

One of our local churches uses the slogan, “Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.” More than likely, it’s not a copyrighted tag line for churches, but ideally, it’s the slogan that all churches would use to give people a true picture of what God desires for a person who visits and joins a church–a new life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

A church building is more than just a gathering place. It’s more than just a fellowship hall. It is where a person goes to learn about God, and even more specifically, the fulfillment of recognizing the need to have a Savior in Jesus Christ. In order to get to know Jesus, there must be a change in the person who is seeking Him. The changed life is the evidence of a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is a life changing moment.

A church experience varies between people in the same way that no two people are the same. Different people do and see different things in ways that suit them—in other words, “different strokes for different folks.”

For many people, change of any kind may be very difficult.

And finally, let’s add a definitive statement about people and change…

Change in following Jesus Christ is especially difficult for people because of their fleshly desires.

When we come to church, more often than not, we are arriving in the flesh. We show up after going a few rounds with Satan and his band of robbers, and we can be battle-weary over all of the scuffling that takes place. Some of us may not show up at all; however, it is helpful when we decide it’s best to tough it out and come to church because we need a change of scenery. A church should always be a place of rest to help us get back to where we were before we were under attack. It is always a good idea to get back to the place of rest and peace under Jesus Christ, even if it means you have to drag yourself there with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Some will come to church to not change anything at all but their scenery. They come for all of the wrong reasons or motives, and are only looking for self-edification, self-gratification and attention. They come as they are, and they will stay as they are. How long they stay depends upon the people they fellowship with and any relationship development.

Scripture gives an important reminder that change is a requirement for a person who desires to have a strong fellowship with Jesus Christ…whether as a new believer or as a seasoned believer.

In order to experience a genuine change, a person needs to acknowledge their sin and be honest about it.

1 John 1:5-10

5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

 

The truth sets each person free (John 8:31-32), and it applies to new and seasoned believers alike.

Next, we need to live a life that avoids sin and cling to Jesus in order that sin repels from us.

James 4:7

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

 

Romans 6:1-4, 12-14, 22-23

1 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

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

22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The danger for a believer in Christ is to fail to allow the Spirit to overcome your fleshly desires. Just going to church, in itself, is not going to guarantee that you will remain in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Your flesh will see to that.

Come as you are, and keep seeking Jesus Christ in order to keep from going back to where you were.

In order for a visitor to a church to feel comfortable, the existing church environment must be “visitor-friendly” in order to be seen as “second-visit-friendly” or “third-time’s-the-charm-friendly” and even be deemed as “I’ll-invite-my-friends-and-family-friendly.” The key element is that a church is seen as “visitor-friendly” first to allow for the “come as you are” phrase to be applicable for any person who gives the church a test drive.

Churches that are not “visitor-friendly” will eventually fade to black. Failing to attract visitors creates the additional dilemma for a church that is hypersensitive to numbers and growth.

The foundational strength behind “come as you are–you won’t stay as you are” is the uncompromising message of God’s Word. The church visitor may or may not be ready to make a change on the first visit, but it is very important for the church to have a consistent theme from every message that provides clear direction of God’s truth, and not from some philosophical perspective that “tickles the ears.”

John 14:5-6

5 “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

 

Jesus, in His prayer for His disciples, said, “sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

 

2 Timothy 4:2-4

2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

 

Paul penned a letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians) about the issue of people in the church going back to where they were instead of remaining strong in the faith. Paul knew the people of the church of Corinth very well because he was a major planter of the church. What he had seen when he left the church in comparison to what he had heard in reports was very distressing to him. There were reports of fighting, members suing one another, sexual immorality being permitted within the congregation if not outright acted upon by members, and all of it was based upon one very important issue—pridefulness. Pridefulness and arrogance, however, are ungodly and never accomplish anything in the long run for anyone’s good.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride comes before destruction,

and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

 

Galatians 6:3

For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

 

The ongoing discord in the Corinthian church created an environment of a lack of clarity within the church, and as a result, there were people who wound up going back to where they were before they acknowledged Christ.

Just imagine the effect this can have on a new believer in Jesus Christ.

Come as you are, and you’ll see how to remain where you are (that is, in the flesh) in a church that is not closely following Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:15-16

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

 

Here is where the church needs to acknowledge some very important facts about its existence and its responsibilities:

  • A church is made up of human beings who blow it from time to time (Romans 3:23)

Romans 3:10

…as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.

 

  • A church is made up of people who should be less hypocritical and more humble.

 

Matthew 23:1-12

1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

 

  • A church is to demonstrate change in the life of believers as “sinners saved by grace” and as “saints indwelled by the Spirit of God.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

 

John 14:15-17

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

 

What you see here is the unity of the church body at its finest. Change in the life of a visitor and change within the body to remain focused on the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ. There is strength in unity within the body of Christ.

Paul shared the same concerns to a non-unified Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 1:10

Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.

 

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

Finally, a person who sincerely seeks Jesus Christ in humility will express a true repentance. Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.

2 Chronicles 7:14

…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

 

1 John 1:9

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

 

Luke 5:31-32

31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

  • True repentance means a changed life in Jesus Christ.
  • True repentance in a person will emulate the fruits of the Holy Spirit in words, deeds and actions.
  • True repentance means that a person comes as they are, but does not stay where they were.

In order to come under the authority of Christ, the church must be of one mind and one spirit–in humility, repentance and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


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.


God is Calling You

Text of today’s message from Melvin Gaines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 22:36-39

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

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

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

Matthew 20:26b-28

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

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

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

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

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

1 John 2:16

For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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

Galatians 5:24

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

Romans 6:10-14

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 4:10

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

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

Romans 12:1-2

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

1 Corinthians 12:4-14

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

8 to one is given a message of wisdom

through the Spirit,

to another, a message of knowledge

by the same Spirit,

9 to another, faith by the same Spirit,

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

10 to another, the performing of miracles,

to another, prophecy,

to another, distinguishing between spirits,

to another, different kinds of languages,

to another, interpretation of languages.

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

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

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

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

6 think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

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

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

James 2:14-18

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

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

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

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

Matthew 7:7-8

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

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

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

John 15:9-17

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

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

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

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

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


The Privilege of Being God’s Testimony

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
God is seeking to do something in the lives of His people that is extraordinary. Why? He wants to you to see how He is working through you and for others to see God’s glory. God wants us to be a reflection of Jesus Christ in the world today.Through His church, God is creating stories of His testimonies, and He is doing it in such a way that it cannot be ignored. Testimonies are about what God has done, and they are well beyond what people accomplish. God manifests Himself through our witness out of obedience of His people.Two examples of God making a testimony of Himself:

Joshua 2:9-11
…9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.

What the Lord does for the person who is obedient to Him demonstrates to others His very presence. People will see it and take note of it. Through our obedience, God makes a witness of Himself.

Daniel 6:10-24
10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. 12 So they approached the king and asked about his edict: “Didn’t you sign an edict that for 30 days any man who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable.”

13 Then they replied to the king, “Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.” 14 As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him.

15 Then these men went to the king and said to him, “You as king know it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions were brought to him, and he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said, “has your God whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t hurt me, for I was found innocent before Him. Also, I have not committed a crime against you my king.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den, uninjured, for he trusted in his God. 24 The king then gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Sometimes, God will allow those who have been faithful to Him to go into a “lions’ den.” It is certainly a test, but it is ultimately our actions through this season of time that give a clear indication of God’s presence, and His testimony. Daniel’s obedience led to God’s testimony of Himself to everyone present.

Daniel 6:25-28
25 Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live in all the earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel:

For He is the living God,
and He endures forever;
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and His dominion has no end.
27 He rescues and delivers;
He performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth,
for He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

It is God who provides what is needed in our obedience to Him.

When Jesus speaks in Matthew 16:18 and states “I will build My church,” He means just that. He does just that. We are His co-laborers and have this as a privilege in the process.

1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Let’s examine the word “rock” here. Many interpret this to mean Peter as the rock. The correct interpretation is that Christ is the Rock that is referred to. A position of strength.

2 Samuel 22:32
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is a rock? Only our God.

Psalm 18:31
For who is God besides Yahweh?
And who is a rock? Only our God.

Isaiah 28:16
Therefore the Lord God said:
“Look, I have laid a stone in Zion,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
the one who believes will be unshakable.

Remember in Matthew 4 that Jesus was taken into the wilderness. He was tested and remained true. He is also the Cornerstone and the Foundation of the church.

1 Peter 2:6
For it is contained in Scripture:

Look! I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and honored cornerstone,
and the one who believes in Him
will never be put to shame!

Ephesians 2:20
…20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.

1 Corinthians 3:11
For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

By trusting in Jesus Christ, you are not under fear. You are living in confidence and will remain courageous, in spite of any difficulties that occur.

Jesus Christ is building His church; therefore, the true owner of the church is indeed Christ. God is the one who plants and build churches everywhere. He uses His people to do this, but each church comes about according to His will and purpose. When Jesus makes the statement of building His church, He was a visionary. His provision for every church is evidence of His involvement as His people remain obedient to Him.

As a people, we are a part of the church, but we don’t own it. We should remain prayerful as to knowing God’s will for His church.

Acts 20:28
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.

Jesus knew that He would have to sacrifice Himself, as well as martyrs and missionaries, for the future of the church and the ministry.

Ephesians 1:22
And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church.

Colossians 1:18
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.

The church is not the brick and mortar of s building. The real brick and mortar consists of those who are sitting in the pews of the church. The people of the church are coworkers of Jesus, and He has already done the work to provide for many to be saved–past, present and future. He changes the hearts of men to recognize that they need a Savior.

John 19:30
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

God opens the door for people to see the need for salvation.

Acts 14:27
After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Acts 2:47
…praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

The place of Hades is a stronghold that Jesus Christ promises will not prevail or overcome what He has done. Jesus Christ promises eternal life for those who believe and trust in Him.

1 Corinthians 15:55-56
55 Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.

Colossians 2:13-15
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.

Even though we have the victory in Jesus, Satan will still be ever present, but we have to trust in Him and rely upon Him in our obedience to Him. We will be tested to remain faithful to Him.

Luke 22:31
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.

2 Timothy 4:18
The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

The church is God’s testimony of Himself through His people for all to see.

Ephesians 3:10
This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.