Tag Archives: change

Salvation and the Church: The Apostles Were a Mixed Up Group

Today’s message summary of November 12, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Church is a place where we learn how to live for Jesus Christ.  It counters how people have learned to live according to the world’s standards.

A person will truly change not just because someone tells him to change.  The true change will come with the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life.

In understanding the word “apostle,” one first has to note that the word was never found in the Old Testament.  It was only presented when Jesus used the word.  It was a word used at sea concerning the ships that first went out.  The ships were “sent out” before the rest of the fleet.  Jesus applied this term to people.  If you take the example of the apostles, Jesus sent them out before the church even comes into existence.  He sent them out beforehand with a message.

Of the people that Jesus chose to be apostles, they were a mixed up group of people!

All but one of the disciples were from Galilee, which turned out to be a hotbed of activity and rebellion against the Romans.  Nazareth was within Galilee, where it was spoken, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46a)

There was a controversy with Jewish authority (a religious group).  Jesus was concerned about what was being taught within these groups.

The apostles witnessed miracles–things that no other person could do.  They may not have completely understood what they were seeing, but yet they witnessed them.  The miracles said something about Jesus, and that He was different from everyone else.

The apostles received private instruction–it was time alone with Jesus.

The apostles witnessed His resurrection.  They saw Him in His new body.

They were able to see things that no one else had seen.  In all of this, they could not even begin to explain all that they had witnessed to others.

Remember that Jesus was involved in two major ministries at that time (in the same way that today’s church is involved with these ministries today):

  1. Calling and training the twelve. (While there was emphasis on the twelve, there was other teaching and instruction that was taking place.)
  2. Healing and teaching in the community. (Jesus spoke to crowds of people and provided valuable wisdom and knowledge.)

The condition of our very society should be a flashpoint as to how the church is to respond, as the church is indeed the light for a dark world.

The church is to train people within its walls to be able to go out and execute Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and that is to make disciples of other people–to win people to Jesus Christ and to bolster up and encourage other believers.

The apostles become Jesus’ traveling companions.

The disciples are those who receive Jesus’ teaching and even the direction of the apostles.

The community receives the teachings, and members of the community also go out in an effort to reach others.

Luke 10:1, 17

After this, the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go.

The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”

The apostles were godly men who showed their sincerity by following Jesus; yet at the time of their calling, they were ignorant, narrow-minded, superstitious, and full of Jewish prejudices and misconceptions.

And yet, God calls these men.  They soon learn that Jesus taught them differently from what they had heard in the past.  Even though they were considered godly men, it was Jesus’ words that gave them the ability to look at their own hearts and minds.

The apostles were aware of their own Jewish traditions, but lacked understanding as to their true meaning and application.  They also had prejudice (Jews verses Gentiles, Samaritans) and superstition (ghosts).  This is a lot like many of us today.  Many people have ongoing misconceptions about what the church represents.

The apostles has much to unlearn of what was bad.

They had much to learn of what was good.

There were old beliefs that were incorrect that needed to be challenged in order to make room for new beliefs to be recognized and understood.

The greater number of disciples (70) were occasional followers.  The (12) apostles would be with Him most of the time.  They would become His traveling companions and His real ministry companions.  He was teaching them in order to be able to send them into the world.

Mark 3:13-15

Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him.  He also appointed 12He also named them apostlesto be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.

Matthew 13:36

Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

Matthew 6:5

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by the people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!”

Luke 11:1

He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

Godly men need to learn how to pray.

Matthew 5:1-2

When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  Then He began to teach them…

Jesus is still teaching today if you find the time to be with Him.

Are you willing to learn?  Ask Him to teach you.

Do you desire to know more?  Ask Him for more.

Look at these men who Jesus selected (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16)

  • Peter and Andrew were brothers (John 1:40-41; Matthew 4:18)
  • James and John were brothers who left their father (Matthew 4:21)
  • Matthew was a government tax collector
  • Thaddeus was known by three different names, including Jude
  • ..a zealot…a killer and hater of Romans
  • Judas was a deceiver and a thief
  • James, son of Alpheus, brother of Matthew
  • ..one who learns, spoke Greek
  • ..also known as Nathanael; was skeptical (John 1:45-49)
  • ..a doubter; was unsure (John 20:27)

Some of the brothers were bidding for a position within their role as apostles (who sits on the right hand of God or the left).  This mixed up group of people had to learn from Jesus what was really important.

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus can take anyone, regardless of their past, and transform a person to become a faithful servant of God.  Jesus just wants you to come.

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Remembering History (Family Series cont’d)

Today’s message summary of February 26, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A true measure of a person is how one stands during the time of a crisis.  Will people stand for the Lord, or not?

History is important to remember and understand.  What we experience in our past will help in dealing with future events.  It is important to look upon where you came from, but even important to see God’s fingerprints throughout your life and how He has kept you.  You should be able to see where God has moved in your life.

Proverbs 23:10

Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless.

 

There are markers throughout life that need to remain in place as reminders as to who God was at that time and to see His work.

Young children would ask mothers, fathers and grandparents, “Why is there segregation?” “Why is their racial discrimination?”  Sometimes, because a child was too young to understands, the answer would be, “That’s the way it is!” and to avoid trouble or not get in the way.

Dr. Martin Luther King inspired many people to take a different view…to get in the way and even into trouble.  He encouraged people to get active for the cause of freedom, but there were also times when it was best to speak up.  He wanted people to believe that change was possible, even with the society of his time.  This is still true today.  Change is possible even with the difficulty that many experience today (drugs, murder and lack of education).

Philippians 2:3-4

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.

 

In the midst of difficulty, we are to look for how God will act, and He reminds us to put the interests of others before yourself.

Life is not just about you.

It is OK to suffer as you recognize that you are becoming more like Jesus Christ.  God wants you to see Him in the midst of all of this.

If you really study Martin Luther King, you would see that his life was about those that he served.

In his life story, he certainly had his faults, but he also noted when he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  God will use a person who is much less than perfect to accomplish His will and for His glory.  He used King to proclaim a dream for others during his time that others could not see.

King entered Morehouse College at age 15.  One of his heroes was Mordecai Johnson, President of Howard University.  He would read his speeches and studied him.  This was how he learned about speech and how to speak.  He heard Dr. Johnson say, “In the midst of death, life persists.  In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

John 1:4-5

Life was in Him (Jesus Christ), and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

 

From the words of Dr. Johnson came the inspiration for Dr. King as he prepared to enter the seminary.  He said, “We are going to change this nation.”

Young people, are you looking for ways to do better than your parents or grandparents ever did?  Are you looking to go to greater heights to overcome your family history?  What matters most is what you set out to accomplish.  What are your goals?  Study your own family history to avoid the pitfalls.  It is wise to choose the ones in your family, or even outside of your family, that will provide wise counsel.  When you want to learn, God will put someone in your path to help you.

When looking at life in the present, history shows us what needs to be changed in order to do well in the future.

Stephen’s speech is a history lesson (Acts 7).  We learn how Stephen demonstrates his measure of being a man who takes a stand for Jesus Christ.  He asks for an audience, which is made up of people who are both younger and older than he is (Acts 7:2).

First, he spoke about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was the father of the twelve patriarchs (tribes).  He then spoke about Joseph, who was forgotten, and also Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon.  Stephen brings his audience to a place of recognizing their history and facing it.  The people were just like their ancestors–they resisted God.

Acts 7:51-53

You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.

 

All cultures should be aware of their history…both the good and the bad things.

Paul shares his history as a Jew, and how he became a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-8).

Paul also shares another history when he became an apostle (Galatians 1:11-18).

It is from these two experiences that make Paul the person that he was, and from this it is hoped that you can see that reviewing your own history is also helpful and provides perspective on the wonders of God in your own life.

History tells us that God had a hand on this country through very difficult and trying times.

God has given you a history.  God has given this country a history.  In both instances, there are things to be proud of, and some that bring shame and regret.  These things are still to be reckoned with and acknowledged in order to see how to avoid mistakes of the past and imitate those things that are good and proclaim God’s glory and presence.  We learn from our past to know how to live our future in Jesus Christ, and to please Him in your service.  God uses people who are visionaries to accomplish His will.

Like Stephen and Paul, if a person worries about personal safety and status, they will accomplish nothing.

Dr. King was an idealist and a visionary.  He transcended race, ethnicity, nationality and politics. He talked with those of little education as well as those with graduate degrees.  He walked with everyone. His faith in Jesus prevailed over fear and uncertainty, fatigue and depression.  He stood in the gap for our nation.

Ezekiel 22:30

I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

 

As far as this church, and its future, is concerned, it is much more than just a black church, or a mixed ethnicity church, or a church of people with different backgrounds.  It is a church of people who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.


Two Foundations

A message summary of January 10, 2016 from Columbus Morgan:

One thing that Jesus brings attention to in Luke Chapter 6 is His foundation.  It is very important to understand.

In my past, I have worked in the restaurant business for much of my life, and I understand the importance of service.  This message is not about working in a restaurant, but it is about service, and it will be about discipleship.

In Luke Chapter 6, Jesus’ popularity is soaring.  There were many crowds that formed around them, and Jesus was providing instruction to his disciples:

Luke 6:40

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

There is no way to follow Jesus unless you enter into a Trainer-trainee relationship.

When a person is asked about what it means to be a Christian, you will likely receive many different answers.  There are many who call themselves Christian but there is no interest in entering into a Trainer-trainee relationship.  In order to be a true follower of Christ, Jesus must train you.

Christianity without discipleship, is lethal.

Jesus told His disciples that if they follow His teaching, then they will follow Him.

In order to be taught by Jesus, there must be a desire to be changed.

Luke 6:47-48

I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.

That firm foundation is a solid rock of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

It will be a well-built house that resides in Christ.  Building on the bedrock of Christ will be solid, and the training that a person experiences will rely upon the foundation of Christ in order to grow and develop in the training.  Anything less than a firm foundation, including choosing not to take instruction, will not allow for the proper growth or development.

Luke 6:49

But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great!

When Jesus was speaking to the disciples, He was speaking to the Twelve, and He also spoke to the seventy others who were disciples.  Two groups heard His words and listened.  One group chose to follow Him, while the other separated from Jesus.

James 1:22

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Developing a heart for God means making the declaration that you will follow the Lord (and even repeating these words as often as necessary to yourself to remind yourself of the determination needed to stay with it).

Why do we not do what God says?

“I don’t like being told what to do.  I like doing things my way.”

“I’m happy to do things my way and I don’t need to change anything.”

“I don’t want to trust You and Your Word, Lord.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

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.

Jesus gives us some things that He wants us to work with that are tough to do (but they can still be done):

Love your enemies; specifically, those who even persecute you.

God will work on your heart in developing you to be able to do this.  This is a trust issue about Christ and what He means to you.  It is a very deep-seated issue for many.  This is a very important aspect of discipleship and the Trainer-trainee relationship.

Jeremiah 33:1-3

While he was still confined in the guard’s courtyard, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time: “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.

Psalm 91:15

When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.

God wants those who are following Him to call on Him, and He promises that He will answer.

What God is asking for us to do is to let go of the things that we hold dear and give our lives to Him.

You will have completed your training when we become like Him; therefore, you are still in training right now.

The training that you will receive from God will change your life and change your family because you choose to submit to Him and listen to His Word.

Consider the Lord’s Prayer as a way of life and putting it into practice.

Matthew 6:9-13

 “Therefore, you should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.]

I want that to be my prayer.  I want it to be the prayer of the church.  I want that to be everyone’s prayer.

There is a work that is waiting to be done in your life.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

As you become trained, Jesus Christ wants to develop you to be a trainer yourself.  There is a Great Commission that is waiting to be carried out.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

By making disciples, we are coaching and encouraging others to have the desire to seek God in everything.

God will create opportunities for you to share Christ as you commit to following Jesus.  He can make you a person of grace before others who may not deserve grace.  He can make you as a person who is merciful to those who do not deserve mercy.  He can make you to be a messenger for Christ.

Take the time to get quiet with the Lord and examine where you are in Jesus Christ.  God will show you, and then you can take it from there.


Signs of the Last Days: The Intensity of the Day

Today’s message summary of March 15, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We are now approaching a time where even many Christians will want to get away from today’s tumultuous period. There will be difficult times ahead, but Jesus tells us to “be ready.” There has to be a thought process where a person will need to take a stand with Him and remain faithful. The power to stand will come through the Holy Spirit to take a stand. The challenge will take place where a person will be called upon to denounce Jesus Christ, and a person will need to make a choice.

When it comes to subjects such as having children out of wedlock, crime, vulgarity or horrific acts, these are intense times that we live in. It is happening more and more in society today, where we didn’t hear so much about these things when we were growing up.

There has to be something that deters the sin that is occurring within our society. We also understand that it is going to get worse.

There are acts of vandalism, loud and disruptive behavior, brutality and a general lack of gentlemanly behavior. There was a time when you didn’t hear a woman cussing (beautiful on the outside until they open their mouths).

You need to set boundaries for this and many types of behavior.

Things are getting worse and not getting better.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is that will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

 

2 Peter 3:3-4

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

 

How long has the church been saying that Jesus is coming? For quite a while–since Paul’s time. We have to remember that this is a promise from God that remains to be fulfilled. What people need to understand is that God is still trying to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24:39

They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be.

 

Did the people really not know, or did they close their ears to the truth? Noah was preaching a message to the people to repent and turn to God. In essence, people chose to disregard him.

We can hopefully see that things are intensifying:

2 Timothy 3:1-5

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

 

God’s power has the ability to change a person. You can deny his power by simply following your own way or the ways of the Devil.

There will be hard-pressing days, and you will only know relief when those days pass. In reality, there are many days that are difficult in the life of a Christian.

People will love themselves and lack respect for others.

Luke 16:14-15

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at Him. And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.

 

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.

 

James 2:14-16

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 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?

 

People will be lovers of money:

Mark 7:10-13

For Moses said:

Honor your father and your mother, and

Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.

But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban'” (that is, a gift committed to the temple), “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”

 

1 Timothy 3:3, 6:10

…not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy–

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

 

People will be boastful (empty pretenders, giving oneself airs, in loud and flaunting ways–attention getting).

Matthew 23:5-7

They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

 

These are some of the attitudes of the people you will experience during these perilous times. Open your eyes and see if the temperature is going up. If you can see these things, you know that you are in the Last Days.


Set Apart for a Purpose

Today’s message text of January 11, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

When it comes to coffee, I consider myself to be a connoisseur. I’ve been drinking coffee for over thirty years now. When it comes to being a connoisseur, thirty years of coffee drinking is a firm qualification. I started with cups of Maxwell House brewed in heated glass coffee pots that would turn coffee into a dark sludge over time. I drank my coffee back then with heaps of CoffeeMate non-dairy creamer and sugar. At that time, my idea of a good cup of coffee was a hot, fresh cup. Over time, I have learned that my standards for coffee were only related to my limited knowledge. I had tried other brands of coffee sold in department stores, but they now pale in comparison to my first cup of Starbucks coffee about ten years ago. From that point on, I knew that I had not yet had my most delicious, enjoyable cup of coffee until right then and there. Some people think the Starbucks brand is very, very, very strong coffee…and they’re right. Some don’t like the taste of Starbucks, and they’re entitled to their own opinion. Just about everyone who knows me, however, knows that I love a delicious cup of Starbucks. It’s a special quality of coffee that, thus far, is better than any other coffee I have ever tasted. Today, as a coffee connoisseur, I can say without hesitation that Starbucks coffee and its many different flavor variations, is a coffee that is set apart from all other coffees I have ever tasted, and they’re a lot of people who would heartily agree!

To be set apart from all others means to have distinct characteristics within such a differentiation. Those characteristics are either earned on their own merit, or they are assigned by someone based upon qualifying criteria. In either case, the distinction has a meaning and a purpose.

To be set apart is much more than proclaiming something as different or even better than the norm. According to God, to be set apart means much more than being different or being better. His criterion for being set apart comes down to how He values those who follow Him and trust in Him:

1.) A relationship with Jesus Christ is something special.

Galatians 6:14-15

14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

With the knowledge that Jesus Christ desires a relationship with you because He loves you, one can only conclude that it is a special relationship. It’s far more than ordinary.

 

2.) Christ makes it clear that you are different from those who do not believe in Him.

There is a distinction between believers in Christ and unbelievers in Christ. It is clear and unmistakable, and it has everything to do with who Christ is. Christ is righteous, and in our relationship with Him, we are also righteous.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell among them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be My people.

17 Therefore, come out from among them

and be separate, says the Lord;

do not touch any unclean thing,

and I will welcome you.

18 I will be a Father to you,

and you will be sons and daughters to Me,

says the Lord Almighty.

 

3.) Allowing the relationship with Christ to transform you to His likeness.

To be set apart involves changing from your old self to not only become a new creature, but a creature that becomes more and more Christ-like every day.

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.

 

Galatians 2:19-20

19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

4.) Being conscious of God’s call and living with awareness of His presence and His return.

Jesus Christ has declared His distinctive presence and, through His promises, declares that we all have something to look forward to–His return. With that, we have much to live for as we continue to minister to others according to His Great Commission.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1 About the times and the seasons: Brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. 6 So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

 

While God calls each believer to live as if Christ’s return is imminent, He calls us to perform tasks here on earth for His glory.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

 

The people listed here in Ephesians are hardly the only people that Jesus Christ has appointed, or selected, to be involved in training. They are only a part of the picture. Elders are an important part of the church in that they are the spiritual heads of the church congregation. Even with this spiritual authority, elders are to always remember that Christ is the head of the church, and while they are set apart for service by Jesus Christ, they still remain under Christ’s authority.

To be set apart as one called by God comes with credentials that only God can provide for an elder:

Titus 1:5-9

5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: 6 one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of wildness or rebellion. 7 For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

 

1 Timothy 3:1-7

1 This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

 

Notice that while all believers in Jesus Christ have the rights and privileges of membership in God’s family, not every believer can be an elder. These verses describe the pre-qualifications of an elder, and the ultimate qualification is God’s calling of that individual to lead and serve. If God’s calling is not part of the picture, the person cannot truly be set apart for service by God. Anything done would be according to his own strength, which would be outside of God’s will for Him and for the church. There are no exceptions to this.

To be set apart is a huge responsibility. Elders have a responsibility because of their spiritual role in the church. They are called to lead and lead-by-example, to be peacemakers, to pray for the church and its members, to teach sound doctrine and to make decisions for the health and welfare of the church.

To be set apart is to live for Jesus Christ with a purpose.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Change: Don’t Miss the Opportunity

A message summary of November 30, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

As a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, God orchestrates change in your life.

Change is going to occur whether you want it to or not. It is about acceptance and adaptation. Change is an opportunity that God wants to bring into your life.

What needs to happen in order to embrace change?

  1. Humble yourself before God
  2. Give up your effort to change others and let God change you instead.
  3. Don’t insist on having your own way but submit to God.
  4. Admit that God is all-powerful and place your life under His control.
  5. Submit to God’s way.

Some things in your life may need to be considered as a lost cause in order for you to move on with your life in the present.

Whatever God wants in your life that is part of your old life, He will bring it forth as a lesson for how you are living today.

Saul (from 1 Samuel) was given a chance to change his life, but it turned out to be a missed opportunity.

  1. Saul only had a penchant for outward appearances.

1 Samuel 9:1-2

1 There was an influential man of Benjamin named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, son of a Benjaminite. 2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.

 

He was taller than others, but he had no heart for the things of God; furthermore, there is no Scripture to support that Saul was truly following after God.

  1. Saul’s father asked him to locate his donkeys.

1 Samuel 9:3-5

3 One day the donkeys of Saul’s father Kish wandered off. Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the attendants with you and go look for the donkeys.” 4 Saul and his attendant went through the hill country of Ephraim and then through the region of Shalishah, but they didn’t find them. They went through the region of Shaalim—nothing. Then they went through the Benjaminite region but still didn’t find them.

5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the attendant who was with him, “Come on, let’s go back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”

 

Note that Saul did not have the same value for the donkeys as his father or even the attendant.

  1. The servant suggests going to the man of God for direction.

1 Samuel 9:6-10

6 “Look,” the attendant said, “there’s a man of God in this city who is highly respected; everything he says is sure to come true. Let’s go there now. Maybe he’ll tell us which way we should go.”

7 “Suppose we do go,” Saul said to his attendant, “what do we take the man? The food from our packs is gone, and there’s no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

8 The attendant answered Saul: “Here, I have a piece[a] of silver. I’ll give it to the man of God, and he will tell us our way.”

9 Formerly in Israel, a man who was going to inquire of God would say, “Come, let’s go to the seer,” for the prophet of today was formerly called the seer.

10 “Good,” Saul replied to his attendant. “Come on, let’s go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

 

What does the servant know about this man of God?

  1. He is a man to be respected
  2. Everything he says comes true

Saul had no idea that his journey to see Samuel was going to be a divine appointment (1 Samuel 9:15-17).

God revealed wisdom to Samuel but not to Saul.

1 Samuel 9:15-20

15 Now the day before Saul’s arrival, the Lord had informed Samuel, 16 “At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over My people Israel. He will save them from the hand of the Philistines because I have seen the affliction of My people, for their cry has come to Me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man I told you about; he will rule over My people.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gate area and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel answered. “Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today. When I send you off in the morning, I’ll tell you everything that’s in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don’t worry about them because they’ve been found. And who does all Israel desire but you and all your father’s family?”

 

Saul was speaking about the past, where Samuel was directing him to look to the present and the future. He noted to Saul that all of Israel has turned to him.

God wants to work in your present and future—not in your past.

Saul made no effort to capitalize on this divine appointment. He didn’t see the importance of God wanting to make a change in his life.

1 Samuel 9:21

Saul responded, “Am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest of Israel’s tribes and isn’t my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tribe? So why have you said something like this to me?”

 

When change is beginning to take place, God will set people around you that you would need to spend some time with. Even with that, the wisdom imparted will still need to be taken into account in order to be effective in the change.

Change is just being willing to go through it. God is the one who is really doing the work.

Are you ready to hear from God?

1 Samuel 9:25-27

25 Afterward, they went down from the high place to the city, and Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.

26 They got up early, and just before dawn, Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, and I’ll send you on your way!” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went outside. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the attendant to go on ahead of us, but you stay for a while, and I’ll reveal the word of God to you.” So the attendant went on.

 

Are you willing to live life according to God’s way?

1 Samuel 10:5-6

5 “After that you will come to the Hill of God where there are Philistine garrisons. When you arrive at the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place prophesying. They will be preceded by harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person.

 

God wants to change you in a big way in order to be an effective person in His kingdom.

We learn from Saul that none of this makes a difference to Saul:

1 Samuel 10:14-16

14 Saul’s uncle asked him and his attendant, “Where did you go?”

“To look for the donkeys,” Saul answered. “When we saw they weren’t there, we went to Samuel.”

15 “Tell me,” Saul’s uncle asked, “what did Samuel say to you?”

16 Saul told him, “He assured us the donkeys had been found.” However, Saul did not tell him what Samuel had said about the matter of kingship.

 

He fails to convey the most important part of his trip.

The opportunity for change is here, but Saul hid from it.

1 Samuel 10:21-23

21 Then he had the tribe of Benjamin come forward by its clans, and the Matrite clan was selected. Finally, Saul son of Kish was selected. But when they searched for him, they could not find him. 22 They again inquired of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

The Lord replied, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.”

23 They ran and got him from there. When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.

 

Don’t resist or hide from God’s effort to change you. He wants you to see Him in the change and to embrace it.


Change: It Takes Work

A message summary of November 16, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

It takes work to modify your lifestyle. Are you willing to work in order to make your life different from where it is?

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

His creation – poiema (Greek) – a product; something that is made…to be used of God the Creator.

God is reworking your life.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

 

Titus 2:3-5

3 In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.

 

You have to set the example and be willing to teach, and not allow people to get in the way of the teaching process. Avoid bad influences and teach against them.

Revelation 2:20

But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

 

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

God has applied Himself to work in your life. You will not be able to accomplish anything without Him. He works, molds and shapes us. It is God’s business to correct your business.

 

God works with you, but He wants you to work with Him–He will guide you in your efforts.

Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

 

Your work will earn your changes that you set out to accomplish. The end result is God being glorified.

If you don’t want to change, you won’t do it. You won’t grow because you don’t want to work.

Change will occur when you believe it is possible.

People will choose to blame their struggles and problems for the reasons they do not perform. In reality, your problems and struggles are opportunities to adjust your life–to rework your life.

For every problem, God has a solution. For every struggle, God has an end, and you will see His purpose in it.

Romans 12:11

Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.

 

Proverbs 18:9

The one who is truly lazy in his work

is brother to a vandal.

 

Proverbs 24:30-34

30 I went by the field of a slacker

and by the vineyard of a man lacking sense.

31 Thistles had come up everywhere,

weeds covered the ground,

and the stone wall was ruined.

32 I saw, and took it to heart;

I looked, and received instruction:

33 a little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the arms to rest,

34 and your poverty will come like a robber,

your need, like a bandit.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:18

Because of laziness the roof caves in,

and because of negligent hands the house leaks.

 

To modify your life, where do you begin?

  1. Repent – ask God for a spirit to accept correction.
  2. Believe that God wants to add to your life.
  3. It’s about starting from the beginning–not about stopping what you were doing.
  4. Start loving yourself with a godly love. Let God love you.
  5. Start talking with God throughout the day.
  6. Start wanting to please God over yourself and others.
  7. Start asking God for knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

 

James 1:2

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials.

 

Principle: God will give you much more than what you believe He is taking from you. Let go of the bad and start by doing what is good, and you will find out for yourself.

Look at Caleb–

Joshua 14:7-11

7 I was 40 years old when Moses the Lord’s servant sent me from Kadesh-barnea to scout the land, and I brought back an honest report. 8 My brothers who went with me caused the people’s hearts to melt with fear, but I remained loyal to the Lord my God. 9 On that day Moses promised me: ‘The land where you have set foot will be an inheritance for you and your descendants forever, because you have remained loyal to the Lord my God.’

10 “As you see, the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years as He promised, since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel was journeying in the wilderness. Here I am today, 85 years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out. My strength for battle and for daily tasks is now as it was then.

 

See it, say it and go after it. This is all about having a conviction to take action according to God’s purpose. God will be the help that you need to accomplish it, and you will achieve it.

Look at Abram–

Genesis 13:14-15

14 After Lot had separated from him, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you are. Look north and south, east and west, 15 for I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see.

 

God wants you to see where you are in the present and trust in Him for what He can give to you. Wait on the Lord, and you will see what He will do. It begins with your willingness to change as you seek Him.