Tag Archives: choice

Your Choice: The Flesh or The Spirit, Part 2

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Satan is busy trying to cause each of us to lose sight of Jesus Christ. He will do anything he can to cause each of us to falter. While he knows he can’t take away our salvation, he knows he can put us on the sidelines.

Even more specifically, Satan has used the power of sexuality to bring down nations and kingdoms. God’s Word in Leviticus is very specific about the kinds of sexual sins that destroy a person.

You have to make a choice to live either in The Spirit or in the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Debauchery or licentiousness is to be preoccupied with sexuality or sexual pleasure. It is a system of ethics that claims pleasure constitutes the greater good. Lasciviousness or lewdness means to be unlearned or unprincipled in this same area (to be unprincipled is to not have any standards).

Advertising today has much to do with sexual messages and sexual connotations. These practices mirror today’s society. Believers are to guard themselves from these behavioral practices.

To be lewd is to show oneself with the intent to excite someone sexually. Lasciviousness is behavior that promotes lustful desires.

Mark 6:22
When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.”

Esther 5:1-3, 6
1 On the third day, Esther dressed up in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing its entrance. 2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his approval. The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.”

6 While drinking the wine, the king asked Esther, “Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”

Esther 1:10-12
10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who personally served him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.

Was Vashti out of line? Not at all. She was upholding her standard that she did not want to be paraded before other men. She valued herself as someone more than just being showed off before others.

Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.

1 Peter 3:3
Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.

Matthew 5:28
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

We should examine our dress and our behaviors when we go before others. There needs to be care and concern from showing others too much. It is more about following a higher standard and reflecting a higher esteem and respect for oneself.

False worship: idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:20)

Idolatry begins within the heart…you want to worship someone or something other than God, and it is always about yourself. It is rebellion to God and being obedient to Him.

Exodus 20:4
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

Idolatry is the worship of idols. It is anything that takes the place of God’s will in your life.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Anything that keeps you from being used by God is idolatry. It is the impurity of sin that keeps you from pleasing Him…sexual immorality, lust, evil desires and greed are all idols.

Idolatry is the participation in demonic activities.

Acts 19:24-27
24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said: “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. 26 You both see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods! 27 So not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin—the very one all of Asia and the world adore.”

Psalm 115:2-8
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven
and does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk.
They cannot make a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.

The purpose of an idol is to be worshiped, but the idol is not heard from or is any action taken by it. With that, why is an idol preferred by some over the living God? It is the flesh that desires the things of the world but it is more about worshiping something that doesn’t give rules or regulations or standards of living. God rules (and He reigns) because God continues to show Himself in love and concern for His people; nevertheless, following Him is still a choice.


The Wayward Child

As an adult with children, I always wanted the best for each of them as they grew up, and I often imagined how life would be for them once they became adults.  All loving parents want to see our children succeed in their education, and once they get older, their careers and even finding the perfect spouse.  Each of these are significant life milestones, and in all of them, it is our hope that our children look to the Lord in all of their life choices and decisions.  That is easily the most gratifying result that we want to see from our children…living a life that is holy and pleasing to God.

Proverbs 22:6

Teach a youth about the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Unfortunately, the challenge that parents of a Christian household often face with their children is far from what they envisioned when they raised them with the instruction of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.  At one point, it appeared that a son or daughter was obedient and responsive to the instruction, but one day, something must have happened where the tide had turned.  The turn occurs because our children possess the very same thing that we possess…free will.  They have the ability to make choices, both good and bad ones, in the same way we do.   We remember how we came up over the years and the choices that we made, and we don’t want our children to make the same mistakes.  Our prayers have been, and will continue to be, that our children’s good choices will far outweigh the bad ones, and that the bad ones will not be as costly to them.  The proverb of teaching the child is true…the child doesn’t forget what they have learned.  It is not just your desire, but also God’s desire for the child to remember what was learned, to understand it, and to make the decision to completely live for Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

What a blessing it is when our child, who is obedient to the Lord, grows with this same philosophy as an adult!  When our child veers into a different direction–one that is contrary to living a Christlike existence, we are deeply affected because it leaves the parents with feelings of helplessness, and even regrets that perhaps something could have been done differently that would somehow have made the child behave differently.  The reality is that a child raised in a Christlike household may or may not follow that same teaching as an adult, and parents will beat themselves up with regret and blame that doesn’t change the behavior.  This message is about those children who keep parents up at night.  In moments like this, it is very important to remember God’s love and grace, and look at ways to manage our interaction with the wayward child.

First, before you interact with your child, you need to examine your own behavior.  You cannot effectively minister to other people, let alone your child, unless you are paying very close attention to your level of obedience to Jesus Christ.  You need to go through a self-examination of your life and your attitude.  This allows you to truly listen to what the Spirit is saying to you and be aware of the leanings of the Spirit.  It starts with the most important commandments as noted by Jesus Christ:

Matthew 22:34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.

39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In order to love your wayward child (and you do love the child even though there are times when you are disappointed or angered by his or her behavior), you need to draw upon the basic principles of your faith in Jesus Christ–loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  Both of these commands of Jesus Christ have a profound effect upon your life and the consistency of your behavior.  Others, who observe your behavior, and especially your child will see your love for God.  What is the one thing that you do that can have an adverse effect on your child and how he or she responds to you?  It’s your inconsistent behavior.  As a prime example, you can’t address the sin of another person without addressing your own sin.

Matthew 7:1-5

1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Let’s look at the context of this verse when coupled with the second great commandment that Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:39 (Love your neighbor as yourself) with where He draws it from in Leviticus 19:

Leviticus 19:9-18

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.

11 “You must not steal. You must not act deceptively or lie to one another. 12 You must not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God; I am Yahweh.

13 “You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. 14 You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am Yahweh.

15 “You must not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You must not go about spreading slander among your people; you must not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

This part of the message is very important when it comes to the nature of developing a loving and consistent interpersonal relationship with your child.  God’s love is always to be the foundation of your interaction with anyone, let alone your child.  You must remove any hint of hatred or animosity in your dealings with your wayward child, for it is when they see your love and concern it paves the way for your ability to minister to them in the truth of God’s Word when the Spirit provides the opportunity to do so.  Your sin and transgressions that God commanded the people of Israel not to do in Leviticus 19 can block your ministry to the child and show you as less credible in their eyes.

Hebrews 10:22

…let us draw near (to Jesus Christ) with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Another important point to consider here in this relationship is to take the focus off of yourself, which essentially means you need to give yourself a break.  What does this mean?

1.  Acknowledge that you did the best you could as a parent.  You weren’t perfect, but you presented the gospel message to your child, and they heard what was necessary for them to effectively discern right from wrong.  There’s no good energy spent in regret over the past or what might have been.

2.  Acknowledge that you can’t control their behavior.  The choices the child makes are on the child alone, and not you.

When you decide that you did everything you could as a parent and that you can’t do anything about your child’s behavior, it comes down to taking the humble approach and doing the most important thing that you can do for your child…prayer.  Your communication to God is the natural response when God communicates with you through His Word and through His Spirit.  Your prayers make a difficult situation bearable and put your faith and trust in God in action.  He hears your prayers in the midst of your affliction and provides, first and foremost, peace to your soul and rest for your body.

Psalm 31:7-8

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love

because You have seen my affliction.

You have known the troubles of my life

8 and have not handed me over to the enemy.

You have set my feet in a spacious place.

Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Youths may faint and grow weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

31 but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary;

they will walk and not faint.

James 1:5

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

This endeavor is not a sprint…it is a marathon.  Your in it for the long haul because you want the best for your child, and you don’t know or when God is going to reach your child to change the behaviors and, eventually, the outcome.  This will always be part of God’s mysterious ways that He draws people near to Himself, but always remember that He loves your child more than you ever could, and He wants the very best for all of us.

Jeremiah 29:10-11

10 For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

I deliberately included verse 10 here to show that even as God has plans for our hope in the future, we need to remember that our time and God’s timing can be much different.  In our prayers, we can certainly pray for change, but we must respect God’s timing in everything, including how He acts as a change agent for our wayward child.

An important aspect of your ministry to your wayward child is how you interact with your child.  No matter how you feel about what he or she is doing, you are to always show yourself to be open for the child to come home or to have social time.  You don’t condone their sin, and you establish ground rules as to behavior if the child is there for a period of time, but they should always see the love of Christ in you when they look at you.  Love the child in the midst of your disappointment.  This is admittedly tough to do, but with God’s help, you can do it, and you can shine for Christ while doing it.  You are to regard your child in the same way God sees you (1 Samuel 16:7b“Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”).

Understandably, your ongoing prayers for help and guidance in maintaining the proper attitude will go a long way in this area.  Pray for the right words and the boldness to remain steadfast in righteousness.

Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways please the Lord,

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

In the same way that you are looking for the right words to say, keep your communication open with your child.  Send emails and texts to keep in touch when you can (texts are brief, while emails will have more substance).  Take an interest in the things that interest them (as long as they are not contrary to living for Christ).  Have lunch or dinner with them, and keep the conversation as light as possible.  All of this is to build upon your relationship.  Even though this is your child, it is still an adult-adult communication that is taking place.  Keep your focus on the love of Christ throughout your communication, and keep the lines open, free and clear.

All of this effort is to keep the focus on the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

John 10:7-10

7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

In order for you to keep the door open for the child to enter the door for Christ, you have to provide the path for the child to pursue Him at the appointed time.  We have the blessed assurance that Jesus Christ will welcome your wayward child at a moment’s notice.  That day will indeed be a day of praise and thanksgiving.  Keep your child before the Lord and bathe the matter in prayer, but remember to seek Him with righteousness in everything that you do, and God will hear your appeals.

Psalm 34:17-18

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;

He saves those crushed in spirit.

Proverbs 15:29-30

29 The Lord is far from the wicked,

but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 Bright eyes cheer the heart;

good news strengthens the bones.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

Lot and the Consequences of a Lack of Confidence in God

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for each of us to be confident in Jesus Christ. That confidence does not come through the flesh, but through the God that we serve. Our confidence comes through The Lord and what He is doing in our lives.

Today we will examine what it is to live outside of confidence in God. There are consequences in not living in His confidence. It means that one will miss out on living the abundant life. By not living in the Lord’s confidence, it means that we would live in our own energy and strength, which will ultimately lead to disasterous results.

Ways of not living under God’s confidence has consequences. These areas include the following:
1. Drifting away from Him
2. Doubting Him — His Word means less and less relevance to you.
3. A dullness about God — a lack of zealousness for Him; a boredom over Him.
4. Despising Him — anything that is deemed of Him or “religious things.”
5. Defying Him — rebellion of Him and His Word; refusing to live as a child of God.

In 2 Peter 2:7, we have a description of a person who is not living in God’s confidence. We will look at Lot’s life and examine it in detail.

2 Peter 2:7
…and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, there are consequences with living outside of God’s will. When a person decides to live outside of God’s authority and His will, He should expect to be brought down and oppressed, even surrounded, by evil. When you are away from The Lord, you are fair game with every demon. The world will treat you roughly, as well.

Lot had his struggles with all of the things noted above, but even in his righteousness, he did not actively witness and proclaim God to others, which is noted in that others did not take him very seriously as to his life. This also applies to us in the same way. God wants us to live in His confidence and honor Him by proclaiming our faith to others. There will come a point that one’s complacency over Jesus Christ will catch many off guard.

Luke 17:28-29
28 It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all.

Lot was taken in by Abram (Abraham) at an early age. He learned a lot from Abram, and he was blessed because he was under Abram’s care. Abram loves Lot and cares for him. but Lot chose to live differently from the way Abram lived.

Genesis 12:5-6
5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the site of Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

Note that Lot was blessed by his association with Abram, but he chose to come out from under God’s covering instead of working with Abram.

Genesis 13:5-10
5 Now Lot, who was traveling with Abram, also had flocks, herds, and tents. 6 But the land was unable to support them as long as they stayed together, for they had so many possessions that they could not stay together, 7 and there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Please, let’s not have quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, since we are relatives. 9 Isn’t the whole land before you? Separate from me: if you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.”

10 Lot looked out and saw that the entire Jordan Valley as far as Zoar was well watered everywhere like the Lord’s garden and the land of Egypt. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Note that Abram’s confidence was in God. He relied upon God’s care for him, and allowed Lot to decide where to go. Lot decided that he would take the best of the land by moving to the east. Lot moved close to the place where there was evil (Sodom), and it wasn’t long before he was right in the middle of it.

Genesis 13:11-12
11 So Lot chose the entire Jordan Valley for himself. Then Lot journeyed eastward, and they separated from each other. 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, but Lot lived in the cities of the valley and set up his tent near Sodom.

1 Thessalonians 5:22
Stay away from every kind of evil.

Look at where Lot winds up–he eventually moved into Sodom.

Genesis 14:11-13
11 The four kings took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food and went on. 12 They also took Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, for he was living in Sodom, and they went on.

13 One of the survivors came and told Abram the Hebrew, who lived near the oaks belonging to Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and the brother of Aner. They were bound by a treaty with Abram.

A believer needs to proceed with extreme caution in his association with those who choose to live in an ungodly manner. It will have a negative effect on how you live your life and it will eventually cause you to suffer some loss. This happened to Lot because he moved out from under the blessing of Abram and his household. Lot lost much of his wealth because of where he chose to move himself and his family.

When Abram discovers what happens to Lot, he shows the love that he has for his nephew, Lot. He puts everything he owns at risk by going out to rescue Lot.

Genesis 14:13-16
13 One of the survivors came and told Abram the Hebrew, who lived near the oaks belonging to Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and the brother of Aner. They were bound by a treaty with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken prisoner, he assembled his 318 trained men, born in his household, and they went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he and his servants deployed against them by night, attacked them, and pursued them as far as Hobah to the north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods and also his relative Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the other people.

Even when Lot was rescued, he returned to Sodom. Do you find yourself going back to areas in your life where God would not have you to go? Because of Abraham’s love for his nephew, Lot was brought out of Sodom and rescued. God intended to judge Sodom, but he rescued Lot because of Abraham’s appeals to not destroy Sodom with Lot in it.

Genesis 19:1-14
19 The two angels entered Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting at Sodom’s gate. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them. He bowed with his face to the ground 2 and said, “My lords, turn aside to your servant’s house, wash your feet, and spend the night. Then you can get up early and go on your way.”

“No,” they said. “We would rather spend the night in the square.” 3 But he urged them so strongly that they followed him and went into his house. He prepared a feast and baked unleavened bread for them, and they ate.

4 Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, the whole population, surrounded the house. 5 They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

6 Lot went out to them at the entrance and shut the door behind him. 7 He said, “Don’t do this evil, my brothers. 8 Look, I’ve got two daughters who haven’t had sexual relations with a man. I’ll bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want[a] to them. However, don’t do anything to these men, because they have come under the protection of my roof.”

9 “Get out of the way!” they said, adding, “This one came here as a foreigner, but he’s acting like a judge! Now we’ll do more harm to you than to them.” They put pressure on Lot and came up to break down the door. 10 But the angels reached out, brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 They struck the men who were at the entrance of the house, both young and old, with a blinding light so that they were unable to find the entrance.

12 Then the angels said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here: a son-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of this place, 13 for we are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people is so great before the Lord, that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were going to marry his daughters. “Get up,” he said. “Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

When Lot tried to communicate with his sons-in-law, he wasn’t taken seriously at a critical time because they did not see Lot’s dedication or zeal for God. They did not see Lot’s sincerity for The Lord. When people see your sincerity for Jesus Christ in everything that you do, they will take you seriously.

Genesis 19:15-22
15 At daybreak the angels urged Lot on: “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he hesitated. Because of the Lord’s compassion for him, the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters. Then they brought him out and left him outside the city.

17 As soon as the angels got them outside, one of them said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords—please. 19 Your servant has indeed found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness by saving my life. But I can’t run to the mountains; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die. 20 Look, this town is close enough for me to run to. It is a small place. Please let me go there—it’s only a small place, isn’t it?—so that I can survive.”

21 And he said to him, “All right, I’ll grant your request about this matter too and will not demolish the town you mentioned. 22 Hurry up! Run there, for I cannot do anything until you get there.” Therefore the name of the city is Zoar.

Note that Lot was hesitant when he was told to get out of Sodom. He was looking more at what he wanted for the moment than what could happen to him and his family. You’ve heard the saying, “He who hesitates is lost”? The angels had to rescue Lot and his family, and he even chose to go to a place that was different from where the angels told him to go (the mountains). He chose instead to go to Zoar, where he thought he would be safe. Here is where God will sometimes allow us to go places that are not necessarily the best for us. He desires for us to have His best, but it is our choice to accept His best.

Do you see how a person can be given good information and guidance, and how some can refuse to take it and use it? A person can make a conclusion to do something different, and sometimes it is void of reasoning.

God listened to Abraham’s intercessory prayers for Lot. He prayed for Lot’s safety, and God remembered him.

Genesis 19:29
So it was, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, He remembered Abraham and brought Lot out of the middle of the upheaval when He demolished the cities where Lot had lived.

When you lose confidence in God, you have already lost a great deal. Lot had lost his wealth and whatever he owned. He lost his family and even his daughters after he was rescued because of the type of the relationship that he had with them. He also lost the closeness of his relationship with Abraham and his family. Many things that Lot experienced were because of his lack of confidence and trust in God.

Abraham was blessed in the land of Canaan where he was. Lot wound up in a different place then where he had intended.

Genesis 19:30
Lot departed from Zoar and lived in the mountains along with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. Instead, he and his two daughters lived in a cave.

A person has to make a choice to allow God to govern his or her life, and make decisions with His guidance. That is how we are to live the life that God would have us to live. He desires that you live the abundant life in Jesus Christ. It begins with our faith and trust in Him, and He will bring us out of those areas that break our fellowship with Him. Our prayer is that you will listen to God and yield to Him and His goodness. God loves you more that you can ever imagine. He wants you to prosper,

The Bible is Truth

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:

Each of us has to be willing to get into God’s Word and studying biblical truth.

The bible teaches us what we need to know about God and how it relates to us. It helps us to learn who we are. Do you believe that the bible is able to teach us in this day and age? Some have questioned the relevance of its message today and have even questioned its authenticity.

The challenge that we have is to believe God’s Word or not to believe it. If we choose to not believe it, then that is a choice to believe men. Why? Because in our belief system today, we have to believe in something.

Acts 4:19-20
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

We will be seeing more and more events or situations where we need to understand that our belief system is often under the influence of man rather than God. It is a choice to listen to either man’s way of thinking or God’s way of thinking.

John 6:68-69
68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”

Note: People believe in God, but the challenge is to explain who it is that you believe in. There are many who lack the critical knowledge of Jesus Christ in Scripture. We need to believe in Him with knowledge and understanding. It is not enough to just believe. The demons believe and the angels believe, too.

1 Corinthians 1:25
…because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Spiritual and biblical truth is not well known today. Many people make the comments “I’m blessed,” “I’m spiritual,” “I’m holy,” are not necessarily based upon any bible study or learning about the Scriptures. (The bible study is a time for learning and to ask questions.)

Acts 17:22
Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect.

Romans 10:2
I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

Being religious all by itself will not get you into heaven. Many people can come across and be religious, and even say religious things, but still be ignorant about God’s Word. We are called to be much more than just religious. We are called to learn and grown in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

If you can’t get into God’s Word and be encouraged by what His Word says to us, then something’s wrong with your approach. God is ready and willing to speak to each of us and to have a relationship with us. We need to pray for knowledge and understanding from God with the prayer, “Lord, open my eyes and make this clear to me.” It takes practice and repetition to continue to seek God’s Word and be strengthened and encourage.

Acts 17:11
The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

God will provide the maturity as you seek Him and His Word. He will help you to grow as you read the bible each day.

Reading the bible is something that a believer must have a desire to do each day. It is the bread of life that enables you to stand strong as a believer, and it gives you the confidence you need to stand firm for Jesus Christ.

If you’re not reading the bible, you’re rejecting it.

A. Rejecting the bible is a rejection of spiritual growth.

2 Peter 3:17-18
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

You can never learn enough about God. You will always grow in The Lord and grow spiritually when you are reading God’s Word. If you’re not seeking Him through His Word, you are not standing still–in fact, you are decreasing in your growth and losing ground.

2 Peter 1:5-10
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.

B. Rejecting the bible is accepting man’s teaching.

2 Timothy 3:5-7
5 They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. 6 Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded. 7 But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

There are many that will lead you away from the true God through what are perceived to be religious acts. Note, for example, that not all spiritual books sold in America today are about Jesus Christ. A lot of them are “spiritual,” but they do not have the view of seeking Christ as personal Savior. Anything other than this is accepting what man teaches as spirituality.

2 Timothy 3:14-15
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

C. Rejecting the bible is to be taught by demons.

1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.

How are you to know the truth?

Titus 1:1-2
1 Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

God wants you to know the truth in order for you to live a life of holiness and righteousness. As you are being taught, you need to be able to discern the truth in God’s Word. It should challenge your way of thinking as you receive knowledge from God’s truth. God’s truth should have a positive effect on your life. It should change you as you grow in its truth.

Think about this…salvation should never really be a question that you have to ask about over and over again. If someone has to convince you that you’re saved, then you probably aren’t. The Word is what gives you the information you need to take away all of the uncertainty and doubt about that very question. A believer should be confident in his salvation based upon what God’s Word proclaims about salvation and God’s eternal promise that you will fellowship with Him. It is this knowledge that helps to build the confidence of the believer. It also should give you the desire to seek Him more and more as you remain patient in The Lord and wait on Him to answer your prayers. God’s timing is far superior to our timing in all things.

What is meant by the phrase “The Word of God”?

1. Understanding the Word itself is a vehicle used to express a thought from one mind to another.

2. When we say The Word of God we are saying this is the designated means which God uses to convey to us the thoughts of His heart.

3. God has spoken to us in order that we may know what He would have us to do–through the medium of words He has revealed His will (Psalm 12:6; 119:99).

A revelation is God revealing something that, beforehand, was not known. The purpose of God granting revelation is to impart knowledge.

Jeremiah 1:9-12
9 Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me:

I have now filled your mouth with My words.

10 See, I have appointed you today
over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and tear down,
to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.

11 Then the word of the Lord came to me, asking, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I replied, “I see a branch of an almond tree.”

12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I watch over My word to accomplish it.”

God will give you what you need in His Word (His truth), and it will help you to see yourself and the world differently. It will give you the desire to serve Him and seek Him in everything that you do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers.

Why Jesus?

God knows the beginning, the middle, and the ending of His creation. He is aware of all things, and He had a plan for salvation that was available for all of us from the very beginning. While we may be caught off guard with changes and life’s circumstances, He is always in control. His plan for salvation involved the need for a Savior in Jesus Christ. The question we may ask is–why Jesus?

If you consider that God successfully created a world and also man and all of mankind, it is inconceivable that He would do all of these things without a plan for His people. His wisdom and knowledge is incomparable to anything that we could ever begin to describe. God knows everything about us–past, present, and future. “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known” (Luke 12:2). “‘Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him'” (Matthew 6:8). In fact, God knows you better than you know yourself. “Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it” (Psalm 139:1-6).

Because He knows all, He established a plan of salvation through Jesus Christ even before the world was created. “He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus was chosen to be Savior before Adam was created, because He knew about mankind. He knew the sinfulness of man and created everyone with free will; as a result, there was a plan in place for mankind to have the need for a Savior. Even then, Jesus was obedient to the Father, and waited for the opportunity, in the fullness of time, to complete His mission.

Man’s free will is tested. “‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes'” (Numbers 15:38-39). It is tested by man’s desire to choose to do the right things according to God’s will as opposed to fulfilling one’s own desires. “But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord” (Joshua 24:9).

God already knew those who would be saved, and He knew this before the world was created. It’s no great mystery to Him–it is more of a mystery to us. “(God) has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9). “…for 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). God was creating within each of us a reason and purpose to fulfill His will through Jesus Christ, which was to be holy and blameless before Adam’s fall in sin. Jesus Christ will present the church as holy and blameless before God, for our sins, through salvation, are covered by grace. Remember that Adam and Eve had the need to cover themselves when they broke fellowship with God (Genesis 3:8)? Jesus restores us through salvation to have fellowship with God as if there was no sin.

Jesus calls us to a life of holiness, which is a life that is well beyond what this world has to offer. God wants us to live a life of holiness in order to live an abundant life. He does not want us to settle for less. He wants us to live in His grace and according to His purpose. He enables us to live in holiness with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He had all of this in mind about you even before the world began. “Paul, a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:1-2).

With living in God’s truth and through the Holy Spirit, we can avoid living our life off the top of our heads. Keep in mind that God never lies and has kept each and every one of His promises. In order for His principles and His promises to have been fulfilled, He must be in control of the events and places that have occurred all throughout history, and yet God’s commands have remained the same.

Adam was the son of God, and Jesus was the Son of God. We have to choose how we are going to live our lives. One is an earthly way of living, and the other way is the heavenly way.

Adam received life from God (Luke 3:38), but Jesus became, for us, the bread of life (Luke 4:4; John 6:48).

The First Adam

  • Adam was made in the image of the invisible God.
  • He was made from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7)
  • In Adam all died
  • Adam knew sin
  • Adam was the first living being

The Second Adam (Jesus Christ)

  • He IS the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)
  • He is the very nature of God (Philippians 2:6)
  • In Christ, all things are made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22)
  • Jesus knew no sin (1 Peter 2:22)
  • He is the living spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44-49)

Salvation through Jesus Christ means eternal life when trusting in Him as Lord and Savior. God did want to leave us only with only the nature of Adam to navigate through life, for we can only progress so far with his nature. He wanted each of us to have a spiritual body (the Holy Spirit) to dwell within us, for our normal bodies are dying daily; yet, the Spirit renews us daily with life because of our trust and faith in Him. Even though we project the image of the earthly man, we are to live according to the Spirit when we live for Jesus Christ.

Why Jesus? Because it is God’s will and plan for each of us to live in the image of Him, who sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and not of him who is of the world. He wants us to live holy and blameless and be a testimony to others while doing so.

Truth: Your Authority in God

One of today’s greatest challenges is for individuals to see beyond their present circumstances in order to achieve and realize greater situations and circumstances. In the same way, the church has an ongoing challenge to see beyond its four walls in the growth and expansion of its ministries, all while operating in God’s will for the church.  In examining our visions for the future, we must always be cautious that we are looking at God’s will and purpose in what we are attempting to accomplish, and that our desires are not born out of selfishness or for personal gain.

There will always be conflict in our lifetime.  This is especially true within the church.  “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure” (James 4:1-3). We need to clearly understand that we will not realize our dreams or desires if we move outside of God’s will and obedience to Him.  Jesus spoke of persons who made the choice to not follow Him (Matthew 13:11-16).  To realize our greatest potential, we need to be able to see God operating through His will and go beyond what is visible to us.  This will help us to reach beyond our present circumstances, and realize God’s desire for you in your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). God is able to hear you and will respond to you in His time.  Our challenge, in our response, is to remain patient, in spite of what you may see as time moves along, for He is faithful (Psalm 37:3-7).

God, through salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, has given you authority as a child of God.  In our authority, our responsibility is to remain true to Christ and to be truthful–true to yourself and true to others (Matthew 5:33-37). In our truth, for example, when a woman accepts a man’s proposal in marriage, there is much that follows her “yes,” which may include a fruitful, abundant life of marriage with children and grandchildren.  Without her positive response, those future events are not possible in that relationship. In a similar manner, in your obedience to God, know that your “yes” to his obedience comes with great authority.  Your positive response to God’s will and His way allows for God to operate in your life.  As we are free in Christ, you can also say “no” to obedience to Him, as well.  In your “yes” or “no” response, you should realize that, either way, God will allow events in our life that are beyond our control. Our response, however, can have a significant impact in how those events will shape our future growth and potential in Christ. We have power in our authority as we are obedient to Christ, and God desires to work in your life through your obedience. In this, there will be consequences that we cannot control, but “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In our following of Christ and living in truth, we are acting in freedom (John 8:36), but in the freedom God gives us, He gives us the choice to serve Him (Galatians 5:13). In contrast, Satan does not give us that choice (hence the term “slave to sin” (John 8:34). You are given authority by God to choose who you wish to serve…either God or Satan. “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot be slaves of God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus Christ is the One who gives us the authority to do what is right (“But to all who receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God” –John 1:12), and brings us out of darkness and into understanding through our obedience to Him (“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” –Colossians 1:13).

All of this comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ when we acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. The word “right” in John 1:12 (see above) comes from the Greek word exousia, which means “authority.” To have authority is to be granted or bestowed something. With God’s authority that He gives to you (Romans 13:1-2; Titus 3:1-3), it is the Holy Spirit that gives you the power to succeed within Satan’s domain. In our obedience and with God’s granting of authority to us, we are to follow the existing authorities in place, whether it is amongst ourselves or with governmental authorities (Colossians 3:18-24), which is in stark contrast to the rebellious nature of men and women of the world. While rebellion is ever-present and runs rampant, “…Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than men‘” (Acts 5:29). With obedience to God also comes responsibility. “But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.  For each person will have to carry his own load.  The one who is taught the message must share his goods with the teacher.  Don’t be deceived:  God is not mocked.  For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.  So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:4-10). “Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.” —Martin Luther.

Our greatest struggles will continue to be how we overcome the temptations of this world, which will keep us from truly growing in Christ. “Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.  For everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17). To realize what God wants in your life, listen to wise counsel from God, through the Holy Spirit, and through others. God will provide you with discernment and make it clear who is speaking to you (Proverbs 1:23-33).  You have His authority and power in your life when you choose to use it.