Tag Archives: character

Your Declaration

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

God is the One who delivers us from year to year. He is worthy of our praise throughout the year, and we want to continue to do so through to the end of this year.

God wants you to receive something from Him, but He also wants you to give something, as well.

He can, and will, give you knowledge and wisdom. In return, He desires for you to live more like Jesus.

Statements, or declarations, give you a specific purpose.  As an example, The Declaration of Independence declared that “all men are created equal,” and the United States Constitution was born out of this declaration.

Scripture also has a number of declarations that are intended to challenge the reader.  It is important for the reader to take note of them in order to truly live in such a way that is to be more like Jesus Christ.

Look at this declaration that David makes, and then look at what follows his statement.

Psalm 18:1-3

I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

 

David reflects the love of God and notes the value of the relationship with God that reflect His different qualities and character.

Proverbs 12:18

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

 

Proverbs 18:21

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

It is important for you to believe that your words have a value to yourself and before others.

If you use the words, “I love you, Lord,” do you mean them?

Loving the Lord reveals God’s other attributes:

  1. My Strength
  2. My Rock (building on a solid foundation)
  3. My Fortress
  4. My Deliverer
  5. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge.
  6. My Shield
  7. My Salvation
  8. My Stronghold (KJV uses the word “Tower”)

When you lose sight of the Lord, you lose His value–His real significance in your life and all that He is to you and all that He can do for you.

Your declaration reminds you of all that Jesus is to you–His real meaning to you in your life.

There is a value in coming to church every Sunday in that it is a reminder as to who we are to serve every day.  We are not to forget who we serve and who we live for.  W. H. Brewster said, “Some things you can’t say, but you can sing.”

We also need to recognize that we make choices that we must reckon with.  We can cry and moan over them, or we can get up and go back to living!  Sometimes the situations that we are in occur well after we make the decision to put aside the Lord and not follow Him.

Psalm 137:1-6

By the rivers of Babylon–there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!

 

Don’t allow your personal feelings to determine how or when you should praise the Lord. Even in the worst moments, God wants you to have the desire to sing the praises of God.  People need to hear your voice to hear His message of hope, joy, peace and encouragement.

We, as believers, are strangers and pilgrims in this land.  We are aliens in this world.  That should not stop you from singing, preaching or telling others about Jesus.

As God has given you life for this new year, then he has a purpose for you through this year.  We are called to serve Him.

1 Peter 2:11-12

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

 

No one can steal your joy of the Lord.  No circumstances can remove your joy of the Lord if you choose to rejoice in Him.

The Lord will honor your faithfulness to your declaration. He keeps His promises to us.

Psalm 132:10-14

Because of Your servant David, do not reject Your anointed one. The Lord swore an oath to David, a promise He will not abandon: “I will set one of your descendants on your throne. If your sons keep My covenant and My decrees that I will teach them, their sons will also sit on your throne forever. For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home: “This is My resting place forever; I will make My home here because I have desired it.”

 

Revelation 21:10-11

He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.

 

Remember your relationship with your Lord and Savior and give Him honor and praise in the New Year.


Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Ready, Willing and Able

Today’s message summary of January 24, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

There was a time in the past when someone, perhaps an adult, asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. When I was asked this question as an early teenager, I used to answer that I wanted to be an architect or an engineer. I came to that conclusion because I loved watching television in the 70s. Among my favorite shows were The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, Phyllis, The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, where Mike Brady, the dad and husband of the bunch, was an architect. Beyond that, I didn’t have any idea what it would take to be an architect or what it meant to be an engineer. I was rather impressionable at that time in my life, and it just seemed to be the cool thing to do.

I went go through the effort of buying a drafting board, a T-square, pencils and rulers to pursue drafting, but I wound up getting more involved in freehand drawing and lettering. From there, I moved to graphics and later changed to drawing, but I ultimately did not pursue a career in art. In fact, I had considered becoming a lawyer until one of my professors in college, who taught Political Science, made a comment that lawyers will be marching single file over a cliff because there will be too many of them to effectively make a living. Talk about a downer!

You can see how random my career path turned out to be; in fact, I stumbled into the collection business because I transitioned out of retail and sales. I’ve been involved in collections, customer service and supervision now for over thirty years, and it was far from my original choice of a career path.

Perhaps, unlike me, you were able to pursue your most desired career path. Many of us derive our self-worth with what we do for a living. Some of us are still trying to get to that dream job or reach the pinnacle of a career path towards success. Even if you are still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, there is something very, very important that you can do, no matter what your career is. The most important thing that you can do is to serve Jesus Christ right where you are.

When you are serving Christ, your career job or your career path becomes less important, and your relationship with Christ becomes more important, because you trust that He has you where you need to be at that very moment.

Now, let’s take this a step further. Assuming that you are serving Christ, and living as He would have you to live, are you ready, willing and able to think about moving outside of the box? Are you sensitive to God’s call to reach others for the gospel outside of your workplace? Are you open to God’s call to go further than you ever thought you could go?

Please consider the following call that God gives to every believer in Jesus Christ, whether you have a career or not:

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The authority that Jesus received from His father gave Him the right to tell His followers to go out and reach others with the good news of Christ. He wants them to tell all about what we know of Him and His Word in order that those who hear the message could also tell others about Christ. In order to do this, His followers would have to leave their homes and even their immediate surroundings to carry out this command:

Acts 1:8 ESV

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

Jesus was not limiting His call to your street or your neighborhood, your office or your company, or even within the state or country. He literally meant “the end of the earth,” which is “all nations.” For believers, this should not be considered as “out of the box” thinking. It is what He expects of His followers.

So, what now? Jesus is calling for His followers to go to other nations. The gospel is to be proclaimed wherever there are people all over the world. It must be proclaimed because there are millions of people in our generation who were just like you at one time in your life…unsaved and lost. There are millions everywhere who are “lost in a system of religion that binds people into submission; lost in the discord of deities and idols; lost in a belief that we are alone in this world, that human enlightenment is the path to truth, and that our own works will determine whether we get to go to heaven or not” (cmalliance.org).

There are many who are without hope, just as you were at one time. There are many who have not realized God’s eternal grace. In order to have empathy for the lost, you should quietly reflect upon where you once were without Christ, and where you are now with Him. Jesus Christ desires for all to come to a saving knowledge of Him (1 Timothy 2:3-4), but if you don’t share this desire, then you are not ready to go anywhere. You have more to learn about Jesus, and you have more to learn about yourself.

Jesus calls His people into ministry and to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). In order to fulfill this task, Jesus wants us to be ready, willing and able. He gives us the Holy Spirit to provide us with power and energy, but we still need to do our part.

I.  Get ready. To be ready means to get ready. This readiness is all about personal development in Christ. A healthy relationship with Jesus Christ can only be developed and improved with the discipline of preparation, the desire to be obedient and the implementation of His character each day.

The discipline of preparation is reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis. As the Word means more and more to you each day, you find yourself desiring to please God more and more by following His teaching, and by living under His instruction as you pray for knowledge and meditate on His wisdom:

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night .

II.  Be willing. Willingness is a component of obedience to Jesus and His call for you. If He is calling you to go forth, you must be willing to listen and embrace what He wants you to do, reminding you that He is asking you to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit, for remember that He tells you that He will be with you no matter where you are (Matthew 28:20):

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

To be willing is to be flexible. It means that following Jesus is more important than creature comforts or familiar settings. It means living a life of personal sacrifice, and it requires a humble heart in order for you to carry out the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) before others. It means being a friend to others. It means loving other people—even those who are much different than you—where you will reflect the love of Christ:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Your desire to serve Jesus Christ in love will produce much fruit:

  • Jesus wants you to be willing to obey Him in all things (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
  • Jesus wants you to be willing to show yourself to others as a sincere human being who follows Him (Colossians 3:22; Titus 2:7).
  • He wants you to be willing to live and act in such a way that people can see His love, grace and mercy (1 John 4:7-8; Romans 6:14; Luke 6:36).

Of all of these things, Jesus desires for you to be willing to forgive others, even those who persecute you:

Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

A willingness to obey Jesus propels the faithful believer into a life of service that is open to the work of the Holy Spirit in everything that is done.

III. Be able. In order to serve Christ wherever He sends you, it is very important to be able to rely upon the Holy Spirit to provide wisdom and guidance throughout any and all circumstances. The Spirit enables you to live in a Christlike manner before others:

Isaiah 11:2 ESV

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

John 14:15-17 ESV

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

You are able as the Spirit enables you to do these things. His purpose is to glorify God, which is what people are to conclude as they see the presence of Christ in everything that you do. You are able to show others God’s love, grace and mercy, in order that they can, perhaps for the first time in their lives, experience God’s love, grace and mercy.

The Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a powerful message for the believer. It compels you to think long and hard about more than just a job, or even a career. It compels you to think about how you can serve Him. The burden of serving others will make you pray fervently—get down on your knees—and open yourself up to how He can use you. You will see the need for a harvest in the same way that Jesus does (Luke 10:2; 2 Peter 3:9). A. B. Simpson noted that people are to be prayerful for qualified, well-trained workers who desire to follow God’s call to missions, and also prayerful for sufficiency in financial support.

There is a lot at stake as there is an end to when the gospel will be proclaimed—Christ’s return is imminent:

Matthew 24:14 ESV

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

When He returns, Jesus Christ will claim His people and judge those whom He does not have a personal relationship. The signs of His coming are ever-present and should not be ignored:

A. B. Simpson noted: “The religious signs are growing more vivid. Lukewarmness and worldliness in the Church, intense longings after holiness on the part of the few, and a mighty missionary movement are the features of the age, and the signs of prophecy, that point to the day of the Son of Man.”

A. B. Simpson stated that the gospel message is reflected in “the greatest text in the Bible,” and that it is a missionary message summed up in three thoughts:

  1. “This is the God the world needs to know.
  2. This is the Gospel the world needs to hear.
  3. This is the Love the world needs to see.”

The lost of the world need to see the true God of the universe reflected in your Christlike behavior.

The lost need to hear God’s words of encouragement through His promise of salvation.

The lost need to see your love and sincerity through friendship in order to share these very important truths.

The Bible says in Romans chapter 10, “how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (cmalliance.org)

Now is the time to be ready, willing and able to speak freely about the One who saved you for all eternity.

Are you ready, willing and able to trust in Jesus Christ in this way?

In the same way Jesus proclaimed you righteous and saved you with His grace, now’s the time for you to share His love for you with others.

2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

“For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


God Builds People of Service

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

God builds people. He builds people of strength and character. He is also building people for service to Him. He builds us in order that we may be used of Him. It is all about being God’s servant.

Today, we will look at Tabitha (also known as Dorcas).

A servant of The Lord Jesus Christ must be able to show that it is not about him or her, but all about Jesus. The primary thing that people should see is the reflection of Christ in one’s presence.

If you were to reduce the Christian’s job description to a phrase, it would be “reflect God’s glory.”

How does this occur?

John 3:30

“He (Jesus Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

1 Corinthians 3:7

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

 

Only God Himself can transform the heart of a person.

Isaiah 42:8

I am Yahweh, that is My name;

I will not give My glory to another

or My praise to idols.

 

In Acts 9:32-42, Dorcas is pictured with the apostle Peter. She is ministering to people in her own way–not as a healer or as a preacher–but through sewing.

She was able to bring things together.

She was able to mend and repair

It takes a keen eye and a sturdy hand–a skill–to sew.

Dorcas had the heart and mind of service in everything she did because she saw the need before her.

Acts 9:32-42

32 As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,” and immediately he got up. 35 So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

 

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

 

God uses great men like Peter, but He also uses those who have the gift of kindness. People who are willing to make use of gifts that God gives are always doing good–always helping to glorify God (v. 36)

Make the use of the gift God has given to you.

Dorcas had a mind and heart to minister to the apparent needs of people. Do you see the needs that people have before you? Some people genuinely do not know what to do unless they are taught how to do it correctly. Some people do not feel appreciated, cared for, or believe they are altogether left out. Our prayer should be, “Lord, open my eyes so I can see who is in need. Help me to have a spiritual way of seeing things for you.” Pray also for a zeal to serve Him, as well.

Romans 12:5-8, 11

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’ 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.

 

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

 

Note that Satan will sometimes whisper things to you that will diminish what you are doing for The Lord. Know where that is coming from.

As we are not to do things to look for a pat on the back or for recognition, Dorcas was not seeking recognition from others.

Spirit-led people go to work for The Lord.

Dorcas ministered to the rich and to the poor. (Where did her material come from? She was able to meet provisions because of her involvement with everyone, and used what was given to her to serve everyone.)

People will see your faith in action by your deeds and your work.

James 2:14

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

 

Hebrews 6:10

For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them.

 

Matthew 6:1-4

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

Titus 3:8

This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.

 

What temptations do we face when we do kind things for others?

  • They will not appreciate it. (If it is not appreciated, we will stop serving Him.
  • It’s going to cost you too much. (This makes for a cheap ministry.)
  • How much time will it take? (I don’t have time to do this stuff!)

Dorcas’ reward for ministry…her ministry touched many people, and it was evidenced by the number of people (all of the widows) who cherished her life, her work and her ministry. She was healed and raised up before them all, and God was glorified…once again, she was used by Him for the praise and testimony of Jesus Christ. (v. 36-42).


The Fruits of The Spirit – Godly Patience

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

These are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit that He manifests and produces within us as we live for Jesus Christ.  It is a happiness that is derived from Jesus Christ, and you won’t find it in the world.  Without love, joy and peace, you will not be effective in ministry.  It is all about presenting the agape love that God represents to each of us.

Now we will look at a difficult fruit for many of us…patience.  If you are going to be in ministry, it will require patience.  It will not be about your timing; instead, it is about God’s timing.

God is patient with us, of course.  He knows that we need to learn from Him and how to be patient with others.  God wants us to see how He is working within our acts of patience.

The patience of God reveals to us that God is more concerned about the worker than the work.  The people that we are sharing with who need to be ministered to are more important to Him than the work itself.

God could have delivered the people of Israel just by speaking.  Instead, He took time to build the people up and work with Moses (in training) for 80 years.

God could have fed Jacob by providing for him without a Joseph.

The issue is not getting the job done so much as it is about building character.  You don’t build character by taking short cuts.

In order to build godly men or godly women, there are no short cuts.  To be a servant of God, there are no short cuts.  To be obedient to God’s will, there are no short cuts.

We miss the best that God has to offer when we act impatiently.

James 5:7-11

7 Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. 

9 Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!

10 Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

 

Consider that Job’s patience was blessed by God.  Job’s faithfulness and loyalty to God was rewarded because he saw the God that he served in all righteousness.

Patience is built within ministry.  It is one of the first lessons learned, and it is all about God’s timing and not your own.

Patience is being willing to be serviceable to others.  It has to be developed from within and reflect true godliness.  A patient person does not lack anything in Christ.

James 1:2-4

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

 

1 Timothy 1:16

But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

 

2 Corinthians 6:4

But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything:

by great endurance, by afflictions,

by hardship, by difficulties.

 

2 Corinthians 12:12

The signs of an apostle were performed with great endurance among you—not only signs but also wonders and miracles.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 

Your patience will be tested (Psalm 78).

People will rebel against teaching or learning (Psalm 78:1, 8, 17, 40, 56).

He sees them as useless (unreliable) as a crooked bow (v. 57).

People will forget what you have done for them.

Psalm 78:9-18

9 The Ephraimite archers turned back

on the day of battle.

10 They did not keep God’s covenant

and refused to live by His law.

11 They forgot what He had done,

the wonderful works He had shown them.

12 He worked wonders in the sight of their fathers

in the land of Egypt, the region of Zoan.

13 He split the sea and brought them across;

the water stood firm like a wall.

14 He led them with a cloud by day

and with a fiery light throughout the night.

15 He split rocks in the wilderness

and gave them drink as abundant as the depths.

16 He brought streams out of the stone

and made water flow down like rivers.

17 But they continued to sin against Him,

rebelling in the desert against the Most High.

18 They deliberately tested God,

demanding the food they craved.

 

God was patient with Israel.

 

Psalm 78:70-72

70 He chose David His servant

and took him from the sheepfolds;

71 He brought him from tending ewes

to be shepherd over His people Jacob—

over Israel, His inheritance.

72 He shepherded them with a pure heart

and guided them with his skillful hands.

 

Patience allows for a person to grow in Christ while they are bouncing around in life.  Sometimes people will put you through the test to see how you will respond, including to your own teaching.

God’s desire for us is to walk with Him.  He wants us to be obedient to Him and to His Word.

God’s patience does have a limit as He is holy and righteous, and He deals with prolonged unrighteousness.

 

Psalm 78:31-34

31 God’s anger flared up against them,

and He killed some of their best men.

He struck down Israel’s choice young men.

32 Despite all this, they kept sinning

and did not believe His wonderful works.

33 He made their days end in futility,

their years in sudden disaster.

34 When He killed some of them,

the rest began to seek Him;

they repented and searched for God.

 

Even with all of the rebellion, God remains long-suffering.  When God’s patience runs out:

 

Psalm 95:11

So I swore in My anger,

“They will not enter My rest.”

 

Hebrews 3:7-11

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:

Today, if you hear His voice,

8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

on the day of testing in the wilderness,

9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,

and saw My works 10 for 40 years.

Therefore I was provoked with that generation

and said, “They always go astray in their hearts,

and they have not known My ways.”

11 So I swore in My anger,

“They will not enter My rest.”

 

As believers in Jesus Christ, no one can take away from you how you respond to their behavior.  Your patience is to remain in God’s agape love for that other person.  God has the right to do whatever He pleases, yet He has remained patient with us.

 

Romans 9:22-24

22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

 

Luke 8:15

But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.


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.


Your Choice: The Flesh or The Spirit – Part 4

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

You have the choice of living your life in a fleshly way or under the authority of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today we will cover the referred to in Galatians 5 that discusses the perils of fighting and backbiting. These will tear up homes and businesses or organizations. They will need to disappear in order for those involved to be able to effectively serve The Lord.

Galatians 5:20
…idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions…

We have witnessed people who rage or are completely out of control, and who are captured under selfish ambition. The godly attribute of self-control is what is needed to counter these behaviors.

If you believe that God’s Word is true, then you will follow His Word whether you like what it says or not. If the person of Jesus Christ is in your life, you cannot remain the same as you were before. It will be either your way or His way.

Matthew 7:16, 21
16 You8217ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

21 8220Not everyone who says to Me, 8216Lord, Lord!8217 will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.

John 8:44
You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father8217s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

God is our true Father, yet we can drift away from Him because of our own selfish desires. When we say the words, “Lord, Lord,” are we being truly faithful to Him? Is there a desire to please Him? If you fail to please Him, you will find yourself stumbling. God has standards that need to be met.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Don8217t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God8217s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God8217s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 5:21b
I tell you about these things in advance8212as I told you before8212that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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.

We need put aside any hatred, discord, jeaulousym rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions or envy.

Hatred is hostility; a reason for opposition or strong dislike.

1 John 2:9
The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up conflicts,
but love covers all offenses.

Variance–discord: conflict; disagreement; lack of harmony.

Cain and Abel were in discord. The result was murder. We will all experience discord or be in disagreement. The key is to not let it linger.

Acts 15:37-40
37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers.

Emulations–jealousy: resentful and envious; a contentious rivalry.

Genesis 37:3-5
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was a son born to him in his old age, and he made a robe of many colors for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him.

5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

Proverbs 6:34
For jealousy enrages a husband,
and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

Wrath–rage: madness, uncontrolled anger; violent in anger and action.

Proverbs 14:16
A wise man is cautious and turns from evil,
but a fool is easily angered and is careless.

The fear of The Lord will counter any evil or raging out of control.

1 Samuel 20:30-32
30 Then Saul became angry with Jonathan and shouted, 8220You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don8217t I know that you are siding with Jesse8217s son to your own shame and to the disgrace of your mother? 31 Every day Jesse8217s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure. Now send for him and bring him to me8212he deserves to die.8221

32 Jonathan answered his father back: 8220Why is he to be killed? What has he done?8221

Strife–selfish ambition: concern about self.

Joshua 7:20-21
20 Achan replied to Joshua, 8220It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.8221

After all is said and done, our purpose is to overcome any selfish desires and seek God in order to glorify God in our actions.

Seditions–dissension: a difference of opinion; disagreement; violent quarreling.

2 Timothy 2:24
The Lord8217s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient,

2 Corinthians 12:18
I urged Titus to come, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn8217t we walk in the same spirit and in the same footsteps?

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together
without agreeing to meet?

Heresies–factions: working against others; conflict within an organization, dissension.

Matthew 26:23
He replied, 8220The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl8212he will betray Me.

Heresy works against the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our next study of the fruits of the Spirit, we will see how love will conquer these behaviors that God warns us to abstain from.