Tag Archives: Christian

Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

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.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

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

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

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.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.

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Why Should Christians Care About the Church?

Today’s message summary of July 2, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church gets criticized in many different ways.  People who attend will often say that it can be boring.  Please understand that, when you love someone, it is not boring.

Other criticisms include that the church is old-fashioned or not modern enough.  Note that the world who never go to church will offer their own critiques of church that people who do attend church will agree with.  Church is not just for Christians–it is for anyone who desires to know more about Jesus Christ.

The church experience should be one where Christians really love the church.

Ephesians 5:23

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

One of the biggest issues about loving the church is missing the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.  We serve a sovereign God.  We have to believe it along with simply stating it.

Ephesians 1:22

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

Colossians 1:18

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

You are to love the church because Jesus Christ leads it.  It is a place to come to learn and grow, and yes, to be sharpened.

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ love the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

The church’s purpose is to help the people of God holy.  It is done through the work of the Holy Spirit, and He is the Teacher within the church about holiness.

If the church does not get involved with you, the relationship between you and the church is only superficial.  Your participation in church allows you to hear the wisdom of others through God’s guidance.

Ephesians 5:29-30

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

Another reason to love the church is that Jesus Christ and the church are one.

Ephesians 5:32

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

The church is the bride of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealously, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband–to present a pure virgin to Christ.

The church is like Eve–Adam’s bride.  Eve came out of Adam (Genesis 2:22).

Romans 11:36

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.

When it comes to The Trinity, we have to learn to dance with God.  The Church was designed by God to be a dance studio to teach us to stay in step with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father.  We are dancing with all three.

Dancing and relating to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is no simple thing.  No one gets the hang of it quickly or permanently.  Why?  Because there is always a new step you have to learn and another turn added within the dance.  With all of this, you still will have to follow His leading.

It seems difficult, if not impossible, but the Holy Spirit is a great teacher.

John 14:17

He is the Spirit of truth.  The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

Without God, it seems wrong, or even foolish, and even sometimes downright stupid to dance with Jesus.  But you know better because you know Him and trust in Him.

Do you really know the Holy Spirit and understanding His voice?  His presence?

The church carries us through the pain and darkness of our lives.  It is there to be the light when there is no light.  It is there to provide encouragement.  It is there for us until we learn to dance smoothly with Jesus, and become actively involved in church life.

Once you become more active in church life, then you really will begin to grow.  Not just within the four walls of the building, but when you are living for Christ everywhere you go.

The church is a partial fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth.  It serves as a primary agent of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:13

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

It is in the church the inward disciplines with outward expressions of spiritual maturity take place.  The church is where you learn to be sharpened.

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.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

We begin to grow in the church:

Because one is able to excise the fruit of the Spirit.  It does not mean one is mature, but it is a lifelong process.

Galatians 5:22-23a

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

True transformation determines our growth, but our desire is to look more like Jesus Christ in our everyday actions.


Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 6:44-45

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

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

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

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

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

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

Acts 1:8

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

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

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

You may have heard these remarks:

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

“I don’t want to go to church.”

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

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

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

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

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

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

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

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

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


The Christian “Jihad”

Today’s message summary of January 17, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

When you hear the word, “terrorist,” what comes to mind? Does it make you stop and think, or have we become desensitized to it?

Islamic terrorists, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, are prepared to wage war against anyone they oppose. Over the past year, there have been numerous attacks over many parts of the world, but we need to know that these attacks also have an impact on us in the United States. There have been recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and in Philadelphia. The attacker in Philadelphia admitted an allegiance to ISIS.

How should we respond to these attacks? How should we respond to these crimes to humanity? How are we to respond to such evil?

We will explore the meaning of “jihad.” We will look at what it means from the terrorist perspective, and we will apply it to the Christian perspective.

Jihad has a negative connotation indeed. It is used often in the media; however, the clearest definition to the word is that jihad is an “inner struggle.” For the Muslim, this inner struggle takes on different forms. For some, it may be struggling against those who may dismiss Islam, and it means using words or even weapons to defend their faith. Going further, even Muslims who follow ISIS or Boko Haram will attack other Muslims because of internal disagreements. Within the Koran, there are texts that justify their actions.

Many have carried this jihad to be a worldwide struggle against those who oppose Islam. The Koran says in Chapter 9 to kill the unbelievers, ambush them and seize them. In the same way that the Bible has its own reference to the end times, there is also something similar in the Koran that refers to the elimination of all Jews.

Radical Islamic terrorism, or jihad, is to eliminate anyone who opposes them or fails to believe in them. It is a philosophy of convert or die.

During the Crusades, there was a very similar situation. There was a pledge by the Pope that anyone who participated in the battles that their sins would be forgiven. They fought against those who were Muslim as well as anyone that did not follow Christ.

The Crusaders’ Holy War was wrong just as the current jihadists are wrong.

Christians, today, are the ones who should expect to face opposition and persecution.

Romans 8:35

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

Can affliction or anguish or persecution

or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

2 Timothy 3:12-13

In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.

How are we to overcome this evil? It can be done, and it has been done before?

Revelation 12:11-12

They conquered him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony,

for they did not love their lives

in the face of death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens,

and you who dwell in them!

Woe to the earth and the sea,

for the Devil has come down to you

with great fury,

because he knows he has a short time.

 

One of the fastest growing churches in the world is in China. There are many house churches and underground churches for Jesus that are flourishing even though the government there provides opposition.

Everywhere that the church has been persecuted, it continues to flourish because God has provided the increase. Those who stand in the face of persecution, and even witnessing their own family members being persecuted, believe in proclaiming the name of Jesus. It is an amazing faith that drives these people.

How do we respond to these tragedies?

The best way to respond to these attacks is with prayer.

Ephesians 6:12, 18

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

 

Our enemy is not Muslims. Our enemy is not those who desire to persecute us. This is God’s battle, and we pray for His intercession in our lives. He intercedes on our behalf as we pray to Him.

With this in mind, what do you think the Christian jihad is? The word “jihad” is not found in the Bible, but using the word “struggle,” we can determine its proper application to us.

People have an inner struggle with sin. We struggle with our own sin, with our neighbors’ sin, and the sins of the world.

Romans 7:15-25

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with Gods law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Our jihad, the inner struggle, is not with other people, but in fact it is with Satan and sin.

The other aspect that we struggle with is love. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, highlights love as an important aspect of His character.

We are to love others, and even to bless those who persecute you.

Romans 12:14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

It is impossible for us to love people in the way that Christ loves them. It is the love of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, that enables us to love our enemies.

I submit to you that the greatest commandment is found in Matthew:

Matthew 22:37-40

He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. .The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

 

This vertical and horizontal love is what transcends culture and combats the evil in the world. It overcomes everything. This is love that sweeps across the globe.

We are far from perfect, but if we strive for this love in our lives and love others, many of our problems will cease.

The Christian inner struggle is indeed Jesus’ greatest commandment. Jesus Christ understood this Himself on the day before He was crucified; yet He remained obedient to God:

Luke 22:41-42

Then He withdrew from them about a stones throw, knelt down, and began to pray, Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Menevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.

 

He had to pray to God, the Father, for that inner struggle bothered Him greatly, but Christ gave His life on the cross was God’s eternal love–His atonement for our sins. He did it because He loved us.

John 3:16

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.

 

Our struggle is not against other people–it is against sin. Jesus Christ is the answer to all of this. It is within His greatest commandment, and He is the reason that we can overcome sin and our enemies.

We are to look at our enemies as broken people who need the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is love. We are able to love others because He loved us.

1 John 4:7-12

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. Gods 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.


Anticipate Fruit as you Witness for the Lord (Missionary Conference 2015)

Today’s message summary of November 22, 2015 from Jose Chinchilla, International Worker serving in Berlin, Germany:

I am thankful to be here this morning with you. I am also especially thankful for your contributions to the Great Commission Fund, which allows me and other international workers to serve everywhere that we are called to go.

“Anticipate fruit as you witness for the Lord.”

Four years ago, my wife and I responded to the call to go to Berlin, Germany. I responded to His call, and He kept asking if I was ready. I told him, “yes, I got it.”

He set me up.

While we are a Christian nation here, the way that we speak to people in another country, let alone another continent, will not work the same way. I learned that the hard way. I was discouraged and I want to go back to the United States. My wife told me to get it together and stay with it.

I had to learn a lesson in my growth as a believer and as a missionary.

I had to continue to develop myself as a godly leader, live in a missional way and live with desperate dependence upon Jesus Christ.

God started to teach me how to minister to people in Germany.

First theological truth:

The Holy Spirit is at work in the world.

John 16:8-11

When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

 

Romans 10:13-15

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

 

As partners with the Holy Spirit, we should anticipate fruit as we minister in the world.

Sharing is not the easiest thing to do, but it does not have to be overly complicated for us. The Holy Spirit is doing the heavy work. He is already preparing the hearts of those who need to hear the gospel.

My desire is to share with people in Germany the gospel, and sometimes people will refuse to hear it because of their personal pluralistic beliefs. I am asking you to pray for me in that sometimes it is tough to face those rejections, but I am reminded that they are not rejecting me personally, but that they are rejecting Christ. I also pray that you are inspired, encouraged and motivated to allow God to change yourself in how you are ministering before Him and in sharing the Good News.

The second theological truth:

The harvest is plentiful.

Luke 10:2

He told them: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

 

There are very few people who are running to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ; in fact, many are running away from it. In spite of this, if you believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in the world, then He assures us that the harvest is plentiful. It’s important to ready to share your faith, because more people sharing are needed to meet this need.

How are we to encourage others (or even be encouraged) to share faith?

Guilting people into doing it will not work; however, if we have experienced joy from the salvation that Christ has given us, we will have compassion on others to help them to hear the gospel message. The Holy Spirit will show up right then and there to meet that person where he or she is.

If we want to see people share their faith, then we need to pray about it. We need to find creative ways to evangelize, and to pray about the harvest. Here is something that I do to remind myself about this: I set an alarm on my cell phone at 10:02 every day, to remind me of Luke 10:2, and pray for more workers to be made available for the harvest.

With the realization that there is so much before us with this harvest, it can be overwhelming. Here is a reminder that the Spirit is a big help within this process:

A third theological truth:

The Holy Spirit empowers us for effective witnessing.

Acts 1:8

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

 

Germany is regarded is a very difficult place to reach people for the gospel. I had to pray to God and asked for the right skills to reach them. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do things that, on the surface, we cannot see as possible to accomplish. You have to give up your own ways of thinking and doing things in order to see Him work. In our own strength, it is not possible, but the Holy Spirit empowers us with confidence and effectiveness in this ministry. We can bear fruit if we remain connected to Him.


Grace and Peace from a Triune God

Today’s message summary of September 27, 2015 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Revelation 1:1-7

The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw. The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near! John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him, And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.

 

When it comes to greetings, such as those cards you purchase at the store, you will have funny greetings or serious ones. Greetings have a particular way of communicating one’s emotion.

Here is my greeting to you–it’s a happy Sunday morning greeting, which is the Lord’s greeting:

Within the text here, John is giving a greeting to the seven churches. This type of greeting to them was a means of comfort to the churches as they were facing a great deal of persecution. Of this group, Jewish Christians were not provided any protection under religious liberty.

Revelation 2:9

I know your affliction and poverty, yet you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 

Christians were being slaughtered at that time like animals. Under the Roman Empire, it is estimated that about 500,000 people were killed for their faith.

The persecution that those churches faces was wearisome, frightful and filled with despair. They needed to hear a message, through John’s greeting, from God Himself.

The persecution is being dictated by Satan himself as he is the ruler of this world. He is attacking today’s church in the same way that the attacks persisted on the seven churches.

As time progresses, Christians will see more persecution, and attacks will continue against the church. It will be a part of our culture today as “life in America,” as it was during the Roman Empire. Satan will continue to attack to cause a church to fall away and sin against God.

John’s greeting was a means of encouragement of God’s grace and peace. It is what sustains us as a church and as a means of overcoming persecution. He is writing the greeting to let them know that the sovereign God is working and that He will be glorified through the church. It was a way to counter the thought that God is nowhere to be found. John greets them with the message of grace, peace and comfort.

Look at the language that John uses in verse 4: John says, “from Him who is, who was, and who is coming…” He uses this language to remind us that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is working throughout the church. He is trying to comfort the church, who is always present and will remain present. God is sovereign, and by His providence He is working out all of the things we experience for our good and for His glory.

We can endure the difficult times when we face them because we trust in God’s grace and peace.

Find comfort knowing that God is sovereign in his control over all things.

Notice how he uses the number “7” in the text. Seven is the symbolic number for “completion.” In Revelation, the many uses of seven represent completion of something. The seven spirits who are before God’s throne represent God, the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 2:3

You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary.

 

Revelation 2:7

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.

 

Jesus said “let them hear” seven times. This means that what He states is assured and definitive.

Notice in verse 5 how Jesus is identified with three titles:

  1. The faithful witness
  2. Firstborn from the dead
  3. Ruler of the kings of the earth

The faithful witness reference is for those who were martyred for Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 11, the two witnesses before God were killed for their faith in Him.

Jesus is the faithful witness that did so during His life. He did so during His own life in which He stirred people up to the point that they wanted to seize Him, throw Him over a cliff, and He eventually died on the cross. He was a faithful witness in order that all would see and understand God the Father.

Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, and He was raised as the firstborn from the dead. He promises that those who believe in Him will overcome death.

2 Timothy 2:10

This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 

Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth.

John declared to the churches that there is Someone over the Emperor, who made the declaration to have all Christians eliminated.

Any illustration in history of dictatorships or any rulers still does not represent them being over and above the rule of Jesus Christ. It is important to remember that Christ is the One that allows any ruler to come to power. John is telling the churches here to look at the King of Kings and reminds them that Jesus is still on the throne.

Jesus’ atoning love is the anchor of the church (v. 6).

The church is to endure because of the presence of God’s love for the church and its people. We are to endure because He loves His church. Christ has made us His kingdom. We, today, as members of the body of Christ, are part of His kingdom.

John tells the churches that He is returning with the clouds (v. 7).

The clouds are a representation of God’s glory for everyone to see. When God comes back, the people of Babylon will cry out to the mountains to fall on them because they will see His glory at His return.

The Lord is coming. When He returns, He will pay every good or bad deed with its reward.

Judgment does not come from Satan–it comes from the Lord. Since it comes from the Lord, all non-believers in Him will face judgment and torment. If you don’t obey the gospel and believe in the Son, you will go to hell.

What is being said you may deem irrelevant and that it does not apply to you, and that you don’t care about those who are being persecuted. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is still called to stand on the grace and peace of God.


God Will Make Himself Known

Today’s message summary of March 1, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There a famine in the land.  People who claim that they are Christians have essentially put the bible down. Some Christians read the bible on an average of two times a week and maybe read it for 3 to 5 minutes at a time.

We have been conditioned to accept what society is saying is correct according to morals and what is right as opposed to what God’s Word states.

Young people today are struggling to figure out what is right or what is appropriate. If they choose to not accept the truth, there is a good chance that they will believe lies. Some have already chosen to reject Jesus Christ, but they have already been conditioned to reject Him.

God will not make you love Him–even if He is standing right before you. He will make Himself known, at some point in time, because there will be a point where man will no longer be a testimony for Him.

We can see how the bible is no longer looked upon as God’s Word of authority. According to today’s societal standard, it is not relevant to today. In spite of its true authority and its power, it is largely ignored.

Philippians 3:16-20

In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

A lot of people may say, “I don’t hate God,” yet, they really don’t love Him either. They may say they believe in Him, but it will seldom me seen by their actions. He wants those who profess Him to be zealous for Him.

Parents, help your children to see the goodness of God within your teaching them about God’s Word.

1 Thessalonians 2:5-6

For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives–God is our witness–and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others.

 

When proclaiming God’s truth, it is to be done with the mindfulness of Jesus Christ, and not for the purpose of “tickling someone’s ears.”

2 Thessalonians 2:3

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

 

Rebellion implies that there is a departure from what is deemed to be a standard. In this case, rebellion is against the standards and principles of God and His Word. Many will deny Him and turn away from Him. We are seeing how society is already being conditioned for this.

Amos 8:11

Hear this! The days are coming–this is the declaration of the Lord God–when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

 

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

If you don’t have the Word of God, you will also have a lack of faith. God’s Word is what builds one up to be able to stand in faith. Satan is removing the Word from society bit by bit over time.

 

Luke 18:8

I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?

 

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

…and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned–those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

 

The lies are coming from Satan, today’s society and culture. Those lies are rooted in unrighteousness and are contrary to God’s Word.

Revelation 14:6

Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth–to every nation, tribe, language, and people.

 

Acts 1:8

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

 

In Ezekiel 39, God is going to communicate things more than once to its readers–take note of it.

Ezekiel 39:6

“I will send fire against Magog and those who live securely on the coasts and islands. Then they will know that I am Yahweh.”

 

Many people don’t want to know the Lord. If you do want to know Him, He will never hide Himself from you. He wants to guide you and embrace you, and you would know it within His presence. If you don’t want His presence in your life, it can be summed up that you do not desire to change how you live your life.

 

Ezekiel 39:21-22

“I will display My glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment I have executed and the hand I have laid on them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am Yahweh their God.

 

God is going to show Himself holy amongst many nations (Ezekiel 39:26).

Ezekiel 39:29

“I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

 

Revelation 7:1-4

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, restraining the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.  Then I saw another angel, who had the seal of the living God rise up from the east. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were empowered[a] to harm the earth and the sea:  “Don’t harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.”  And I heard the number of those who were sealed:

144,000 sealed from every tribe of the Israelites.

 

Revelation 14:3

They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elder, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

 

How is this going to happen?

  1. Gog (Russia) will fail (Ezekiel 39:3-6)
  2. For seven years they will use the weapons for fuel (Ezekiel 39:7-9)
  3. It will take seven months to bury the bodies (Ezekiel 39:12).
  4. Israel’s people will be brought back to its land (Ezekiel 39:25).
  5. The Spirit will be poured out onto the house of Israel (Revelation 7).

People will have to ask themselves if man is accomplishing all of these things, or is it God who is doing it?

We’re living in days that are frightening. Listen to the young people and what they value or hold as important. God is far from their hearts and minds. Take a good look at our churches. They are losing a cultural battle. The church message, nevertheless, must go forth and be delivered to the people. It will bring people the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will both hear it and acknowledge it, or it will be denied or disregarded as insignificant. Pray for your loved ones who don’t know Jesus Christ that the Spirit will give them that truth.