Tag Archives: body

Church and Salvation: The Purpose of the Church

Today’s message summary of October 1, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Lord, help us to listen to the Spirit and enable us to do your work before the people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As a member of the church, you are part of the worldwide church, whose mission is to serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel.

The church consists of people who are “called out” for Jesus Christ.  What exactly are you called out to do.  It is not just to take part in the saving of souls.  After a soul gets saved, what happens next?

There is a responsibility in how one cares for a person after declaring Christ as Lord and Savior.  The church is more than just reaching people.  There is a care that must continue to take place for all of God’s people.

The work starts within the church to do good for the people of God, but it does not stop there.

Ephesians 5:32

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The church is stated as a mystery in that it was not spoken of, in so many words, within the Old Testament.  Now the church is known, but even within it remains a mystery.  In the same way, within a believer, there is an unknown potential as to how God will develop a person into who He desires that person to be.  Every church is different, and every one of them is called to minister to its community where it is located.  God knows how He will accomplish this.  There is such a flexibility as the Holy Spirit renders how this is to take place.

The church exists to do the work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The church functions as one body for this purpose.

Colossians 1:25-27

I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

As a member of the church, you are part of this royal priesthood to serve others.  He wants to use you to have an impact within the church into the community.  You are called out to be an ambassador, a saint and a witness before Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the church is to teach the people the knowledge of the Bible in order to carry out the work of Jesus.  It is to teach the people how to minister to others.  The focus remains on Jesus Christ, His life, and His ministry.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

The church comes alongside of its people and supports the member until he is able to move forward on his own.  Jesus promised that He would enable those who serve Him to do even greater things for His glory.

John 14:12-14

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. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The work of the church does not rest upon the members alone, but upon those who say, “yes, I will do the work,” or “no, I won’t do it.”

What are you asking for in faith?

There is no limit in what you can ask Him for.  (You can limit yourself, of course.)

Don’t just ask for those things that you can do yourself.  Why not ask Him for those things that are far beyond your reach?

Ask God to open doors, for wisdom and knowledge in order to have the capability to do matters according to His will and purpose in your life.  Ask in faith and trust in Him in faith.

As the church, we are to deal with societal and individual problems.  We understand that there is no problem too big to be solved.

Genesis 18:14

“Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.”

Matthew 19:26

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Isaiah 43:13

“Also, from today on I am He alone, and none can deliver from My hand. I act, and who can reverse it?”

John 9:3-5

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Philippians 4:13

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

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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


The Antichrist and the Two Beasts

Today’s message summary of April 19, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The Antichrist is more than just a person–it is a spirit. That spirit is anywhere that you find those that are against Jesus Christ. It permeates throughout society. It is present in its opposition of the proclamation of Christ’s name, and it works through the power of deception.

The key to its presence is the pressure placed on our value system and everything that we stand for. Eventually, just as a heated pot of water eventually boils, all of this will boil over.

The Antichrist is essentially Satan operating in the world. He can appear as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14

And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 

Satan can only possess a body–he cannot create a body. He has to find a willing participant who desires to serve him. Demons function in this manner, as well.

Matthew 8:28-32

When He had come to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met Him as they came out of the tombs. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What do You have to do with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” Now a long way off from them, a large herd of pigs was feeding. “If You drive us out,” the demons begged Him, “send us into the herd of pigs.” “Go!” He told them. So when they had come out, they entered the pigs. And suddenly the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water.

 

1 John 2:18

Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour.

 

In contrast to the Antichrist (Satan), Christ did not always have a body. He was created by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Hebrews 10:5

Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me.

 

Acts 2:31

Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay.

 

God the Father is not in a body.

John 4:24

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

 

In Revelation 13, the first and second beasts are false prophets. Satan mirrors the Holy Trinity with what we can see is the unholy trinity:

  1. Satan: Antichrist (not seen–see 1 John 2:18)

1 Timothy 4:1

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.

  1. The first beast: given authority. He received what appeared to be a fatal wound to the head, but he survived. The whole world will follow him–who is like the beast (the head of the world). This is Satan’s effort to duplicate Christ’s resurrection, but even it is rooted in deception.
  1. The second beast: lamb (gentle); dragon (forceful) causes all to worship the beast. He will be allowed to exercise all authority on behalf of the first beast and be able to make political and military actions to bring about compliance.

The Holy Trinity:

  1. God the Father (Spirit–not seen).

John 6:38

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

  1. Son–Jesus Christ; resurrection–the head of all

Matthew 28:18

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

1 Corinthians 15:4-6

…that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.

 

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.

  1. The Holy Spirit

John 16:8

When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

 

John 16:14

He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.

 

Romans 1:3-4

…concerning His son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and who has been declared to be th epowerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness.

 

The Antichrist and his followers are intent to slander and demean God’s name. Churches are losing interest amongst the people. Many stay away from this fellowship believing that “I can have church all by myself.” The problem with this (and Satan knows it) is that it is not what God intended for people to support each other in fellowship, which has a must greater impact on society in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Satan, in order to capture followers, attempts to follow the same plan as God in order to bring, and even force, people to comply with him through this unholy trinity.

Revelation 13:12-18

He (the second beast) exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. He deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that he is permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who had the sword wound yet lived. He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he requires everyone–small and great, rich and poor, free and slave–to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of his name. Here is wisdom: The one who has understanding must calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a man. His number is 666.


Standing Up for Jesus

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today we will look at Joseph of Arimathea (in the New Testament) about his faith and the steps that he took. We need to be reminded that Scripture reveals to us real people with real problems. No matter what occurs in life, we learn that all things bring us back to what it means to have God in your life.

There needs to be time a place where you will conclude “Jesus is all that really matters.” Will you stand up for Him? There needs to be a willingness to surrender your life to Him. It will not be about who you will keep or lose as friends. Your choice to follow Jesus will sometimes break up your family, too. In the end, Jesus is all that matters, even through the hardship and difficulty.

At some point you will have to stand up for Jesus and not be fearful or ashamed of Him, or ashamed of yourself for believing in Him.

One of things that we find out about Joseph of Arimathea is that he was wealthy. See if the following verses give a picture of Joseph’s life.

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.

Give me neither poverty nor wealth;

feed me with the food I need.

9 Otherwise, I might have too much

and deny You, saying, “Who is the Lord?”

or I might have nothing and steal,

profaning the name of my God.

 

Matthew 10:32-33

32 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.

 

Matthew 12:30

Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.

 

Titus 1:15-16

15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

 

As you read God’s Word, your mind is being transformed into a person with pure thought and discernment. A person who truly seeks God is transformed into a person who resembles Christ–a light in the world. Our actions define who we are before others.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

 

A lot of young people have to get to the point where they are not ashamed of who Christ is in the effort to preserve friendships and relationships.

Joseph of Arimathea is written about in all four gospels. Each one has a little something different to express, but all of them are key points.

John 19:38

Luke 23:50

Mark 15:42

Matthew 27:57

He was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one (John 19:38).

A secret life is one of fearfulness. He was in fear of the Jews. You should not live in such a way where you are concerned about what someone may find out about you. Living a secret life for Joseph of Arimathea was out of a fear of getting caught and the truth being known. When you protect the things in your life and keep them hidden, your friends and family can’t know who you are. You are pretending to live in such a way when you’re not really doing it.

Fear, to be fair, is a very real experience for many.

John 20:19

In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

 

Who did Joseph fear?

Luke 22:1-2

1 The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called Passover, was drawing near. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Him to death, because they were afraid of the people.

 

He was a member of the Council. He was against their decision. Note that these people were friends and coworkers, and some had the ability to hurt him in different ways:

  • His good name (Mark 15:43)
  • Physically (Matthew 10:28)
  • Financially (Matthew 27:57)

Mark 15:43

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.

 

Matthew 10:28

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

 

Matthew 27:57

When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

 

Luke 23:50-51

50 There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, 51 who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God.

 

Joseph came to a point in life when it didn’t matter what people thought of him, or what they would do to him. He couldn’t go in to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body without others finding out about it.

Joseph made a decision not on what he would lose or keep, or what people thought of him, but on what he believed about Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it takes a first step in living for Jesus, and the second and third steps become much easier.

 

Joseph went boldly (took courage) in taking a stand for Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:43). He took Jesus’ body down during the day (openly and in plain sight of others) (Luke 23:53). Note that he also only asked for the body of Jesus. If he wanted to keep it a secret he would ask for all three bodies. His focus was on Jesus.

 

Now, the secret was out. Everybody knew he was a follower of Jesus. Joseph was not concerned about what others thought of him.

 

Joseph took the body and prepared it for burial on Preparation Day. The Sabbath was about to begin (Luke 23:54).

  • He took the body down
  • He took it to his home
  • He had to wash the body
  • He had to anoint the body
  • He had to wrap the body
  • He took the body to the tomb that he had bought for himself
  • He had to go back home and purify himself before the Sabbath

 

Joseph’s action encouraged another person who came to Jesus by night…Nicodemus.

John 19:39-40

39 Nicodemus (who had previously come to Him at night) also came, bringing a mixture of about 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. 40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the aromatic spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

 

When you stand up for Christ, others will see your efforts and take a stand for Christ, as well. When you live as a Christian should live, others will be encouraged in your faith and boldness.

Make up your mind to live for Jesus Christ every day. When you do, you will be an encouragement to others.


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.


The Body of Christ – Part 2

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:I believe that, in the midst of today’s troubles and conflicts, God is speaking to us.

Job 37:1-13 (HCSB)
1 My heart pounds at this
and leaps from my chest.
2 Just listen to His thunderous voice
and the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
3 He lets it loose beneath the entire sky;
His lightning to the ends of the earth.
4 Then there comes a roaring sound;
God thunders with His majestic voice.
He does not restrain the lightning
when His rumbling voice is heard.
5 God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6 For He says to the snow, “Fall to the earth,”
and the torrential rains, His mighty torrential rains,
7 serve as His sign to all mankind,
so that all men may know His work.
8 The wild animals enter their lairs
and stay in their dens.
9 The windstorm comes from its chamber,
and the cold from the driving north winds.
10 Ice is formed by the breath of God,
and watery expanses are frozen.
11 He saturates clouds with moisture;
He scatters His lightning through them.
12 They swirl about,
turning round and round at His direction,
accomplishing everything He commands them
over the surface of the inhabited world.
13 He causes this to happen for punishment,
for His land, or for His faithful love.

God has a way of telling us, as a nation, “Listen to me.” I pray that we are listening to Him, and that we acknowledge His presence. There is nothing that takes place that He is not aware of.

What should draw us near to Him is His love for us. He wants to have a relationship us, and He wants us to live in such a way that we remain steadfast in Him and to live according to our purpose for His glory and His praise.

The Body of Christ

This month, we will focus on the body of Jesus Christ. It has its purpose in acknowledging that Jesus really did exist as a man. It is proof that He lived as a child that grew into manhood. While some of us may deny His deity, there is no denial of His existence in bodily form.

His body was not different from the body that we had. He experienced hunger and thirst as we did. The difference between Him and us is that He was without sin.

Jesus often spoke in such a way where He showed each of us that we are dependent on something. The body needs food and water, and sustenance in order to live. In comparison, Jesus Christ showed us that our life in Christ required a dependance upon Him. Jesus declares that, without Him, a Christian cannot live the Christian life. He is to be involved in our lives on a daily basis. The food and drink that we take in sustains our bodies. As we take on Jesus Christ, He sustains us.

Matthew 5:6
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.

John 4:13-14
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

Matthew 26:26-29
The First Lord’s Supper

26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.”

Luke 22:14-20
The First Lord’s Supper

14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

When Jesus broke the bread with His disciples (as He did in Matthew and Luke), He demonstrated that the breaking of bread was a way in which we can have fellowship with Him.

Scripture points out that those who have eternal life with the abundance of the presence of Jesus Christ. Those who do not follow Christ will experience the loss of fellowship with Jesus Christ, and be subjected to the punishment of failing to acknowledge Him.

John 6:53-58
53 So Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. 54 Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, 55 because My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. 56 The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your fathers ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

The bread that Jesus speaks of as a provision by God for His people. God is the one who gives us what we need to live. Don’t miss that our Heavenly Father desires to provide everything that we have need of. In the midst of our rebellion, we often miss God’s provision, and even His protection.

Exodus 12:1-11
12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 “This month is to be the beginning of months for you; it is the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock according to their fathers’ households, one animal per household. 4 If the household is too small for a whole animal, that person and the neighbor nearest his house are to select one based on the combined number of people; you should apportion the animal according to what each person will eat. 5 You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. 7 They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them. 8 They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it, roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or cooked in boiling[b] water, but only roasted over fire—its head as well as its legs and inner organs. 10 Do not let any of it remain until morning; you must burn up any part of it that does remain before morning. 11 Here is how you must eat it: you must be dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord’s Passover.

Note that this sacrifice was to be eaten in its entirety. Jesus Christ became, through His unblemished body, the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and transgressions. We are to embrace HIm in His entirety as our Lamb of God.

1 Corinthians 6:13
“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both of them. The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

John 6:32-35
32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”

35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.

John 6:48-51
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

The flesh that Jesus speaks of is His body, which He gave up for us in order for us to be able to receive eternal life. The Lord’s body was given up for us for the purpose that our bodies to grow and be sustained for His will and purpose. Our bodies are intended to be for The Lord and nothing else. Note what Jesus accomplished for us with His sacrifice on the cross…

2 Corinthians 5:21
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Man cannot do anything with His own sin. There has to be an atonement for our sin that we cannot achieve on our own. Christ had to be the intercessor for our sin with His body, where He took our sin upon Himself because of His love for us.

Matthew 27:45-46
The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

When we take communion, we are to be mindful that all of our sins…past, present and future, are accounted for by the bodily sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

When you look at the goodness and mercy of God, He readily invites you to seek Him and look to Him–first, for eternal life, and then for the abundant life of the believer. He is worthy to be praised for His sacrifice for us.

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!