Tag Archives: commitment

Salvation and the Church: Sent Out to Learn

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

We’re continuing with the topic of salvation and the church.  Life in the church is much more than just declaring Jesus as your personal Savior.  It is more than just sitting in church and taking things in.  It is about worshiping and serving the Lord day after day and growing more and more in your faith.  Salvation is the area where God grooms you and prepares you while giving you tests that involve experiences with places and relationships.

Remember what it is like to send your children off to school for the first time.  It is a similar experience in your faith.  There will be new and different experiences for you to see and learn from.  We are sent out to learn.

In Jesus’s time, the twelve disciples were sent out in Luke 9 and the seventy-two others are sent out in Chapter 10 of Luke.

  • The twelve are the Apostles
  • The seventy-two (some bibles refer to seventy) are disciples.
  • Both groups are sent out at different times–not together.
  • Both are given the same authority.
  • Both groups were given instructions by Jesus.
  • Both of these groups were sent out about nine months apart.

When you are being sent out to do ministry—discipling and shepherding different people—you are essentially leading and pastoring others.  You don’t need a degree to do it.  You just need a love of Jesus and the desire to share on His behalf—represent Him and act like Him.  He has given you authority to do this.  It is ultimately the responsibility of every person who declares the name of Jesus Christ.

In some ministries we share the same authority in order to achieve what God has assigned to us.  We are not to be caught up in titles.  It is all about your heart and your obedience to Jesus Christ.

For the groups’ instructions:

  • They were not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans
  • They were given a message to give to the people of Israel
  • They were commissioned to drive out demons

The message was for the people that they were familiar with.  It was a message that was the gospel—the good news about the kingdom of heaven.

Whenever you enter into ministry with Jesus Christ, you are entering a battle with the enemy.  It can be personal, or even attack your family or close friends that can attempt to draw you away from what God has called you to do.

Mark 6:12-13

So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them.

Matthew 10:7-8

“As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

To the seventy-two:

Luke 10:8

“When you enter any town, and they welcome you, eat the things set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you.’

They had to learn that a worker is worthy of His keep.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

God takes care of His people.

Matthew 10:11-13

When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave.  Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you.

Luke 9:4

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.

Luke 10:5-6

Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household. If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

They were sent out to learn that everything will not go their way, and that some people will not like them, even though they were sent among people who were similar to them.

Matthew 10:16

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.”

They were learning how to do ministry without His presence.  Jesus was their leader and they had followed Him, but now they were to go out on their own.

Jesus was there but not seen.  They learned His spiritual presence in the power of His name.

Luke 10:17

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

They were learning to walk by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

They were learning how to represent Jesus, and not themselves.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us.  We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Since Jesus was not with them, they had to learn to trust in more than themselves.  Two by two.  Trusting in one another.

When you trust another person, you are learning from that person as you build your relationship.  There is a development that must take place over a period of time.

Coming together into a group is only the beginning.

Staying together is a sign of progress.

Working together is success.

They had to learn that coming together was learning to work together to accomplish God’s will.

Four important lessons learned by being sent out:

  1. Jesus had to be brought into their lives and their way of thinking.

Psalm 26:2

Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind.

Lamentations 3:40

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Examine yourselves.  Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?unless you fail the test.

  1. Learn to submit to the will of Jesus. By going out and doing it. We are not just going in His will, but learn how to function within it.

Acts 17:28

For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

  1. Commit your ways to Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

  1. Learn to transmit knowledge to others.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

The twelve and the seventy-two had to deal with these four different areas of submission to Jesus Christ.  In the same manner, we have to learn how to speak to many different groups of people–different cultures and the like–in order to best communicate the gospel.  We are to submit to Jesus and do so in love in order that others can see Him in our efforts.

What we all learn from this:  Life itself will give the final examination on what you believe.

 

 

 

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Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 6 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of March 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts at Shiloh, where Elis two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lords priests.

Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Whenever she went up to the Lords house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat. Hannah, why are you crying? her husband Elkanah asked. Why wont you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?

In verse 10, it is noted that Hannah was depressed about her inability to conceive.  She was very upset and was praying to God that she would be remembered in her difficulty.

1 Samuel 1:9-11

Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lords tabernacle. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, Lord of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servants affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.

She was weeping in such a way as a woman who had lost her only child.  Her condition was one of deep despair.

The reality of infertility makes a woman feel inadequate or incomplete.  A woman’s desire is to bear children.  In Hannah’s time, women who remained barren felt worthless, and they typically would not receive an inheritance that would allow for care for themselves and family members.  A woman’s prestige was based upon her ability to produce offspring.

It should be noted that Hannah’s inability to bear children was allowed by God, and perhaps for the sole purpose that He wanted Hannah to draw closer to Him and to not dwell on her circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger[a] of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hannah found her self-worth in God.  This is also a lesson for each of us.  We believe that the things that we do defines who we are.  All joy that we experience comes from Him, and it should remind us that we are to seek Him in everything.

When we pray to God, we are to pray with the understanding that our desires are to be rooted within a relationship with Him.  He wants us to grow more and more with Him.

In her prayer to God, we will focus on these three things:

  • Hannah’s vow to the Lord
  • Hannah asked for recognition
  • Hannah’s offering

Hannah made a vow with God not only with herself but also with her future child.  When she made this promise, it affected the course of her child’s life.  The vow was a Nazarite vow, where the person would separate and consecrate himself for service to God in the temple.  We find that Samuel would be serving the Lord diligently for his entire life.

Making a vow is not to be taken lightly, and is not recommended (Judges 11:29-40).

So, (Akron Alliance Fellowship) Church, when you are praying:

Matthew 5:37

But let your word yes be yes, and your no be no.[a] Anything more than this is from the evil one.

When Samuel was born, we know that Hannah followed her vow by keeping her commitment.  Her only child was committed to service.  Her desire to be a mother was fulfilled, but she released Samuel to serve the Lord.  This is the type of prayer that we are to focus on when it comes to our own service to Jesus Christ.

Hannah prayed to the Lord to be remembered by God as her servant (1 Samuel 1:11).  In Hannah, whose name means “grace,” you can understand her sincerity of prayer before the Lord.  Note that God heard her affliction, and we see that Hannah bore Samuel and many more children afterward (three sons and two daughters).

The lesson here is remaining prayerful.  God, in His sovereignty, does recognize your prayers, and it make take some time before He answers them.

Hannah’s offering was giving her son back to the Lord.  She offered her son as a way of serving the Lord in her desire to please God. Samuel was faithful in service and became a judge over Israel.

There is a parallel to her actions to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

John 17:9-11

I pray for them.

I am not praying for the world

but for those You have given Me,

because they are Yours.

Everything I have is Yours,

and everything You have is Mine,

and I have been glorified in them.

I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

 

Jesus asked God to keep and protect His servants.  The persons that Jesus would die on the cross for belonged to the Father.


A Successful Family Life

Today’s message summary of December 4, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A successful family is something that needs to be worked on.  It can be difficult at times, and there is no manual that is offered that gives clues how to do it.

Every person within the family has a divine purpose, and it is up to the family members to help sharpen each other.

It is better, by far, to grow healthy children into healthy adults than it is to repair old men and women.  The child raised in the Lord has a good opportunity to come up and succeed.

Dreams require sacrifice if they are going to become a reality.  Children are to be taught how to make sacrifices.  They need to be instructed how to give to others instead of just receive things.

Without sacrifice and dedication, a child will ultimately not go anywhere.  Making sacrifices are a requirement for those who desire a good education.

There is a threefold development that has to be taught within a family that are critical to successful living:

  1. Mind development (intellect, psychology)
  2. Body development (physical appearance)
  3. Reproductive drive (sexual desire)

This needs to be instructed within the family as there will be a number of voices from the outside that will try to shape or influence how a person views these issues.

The most important part of this that is developed last (that should be developed first) is the spiritual development of the child and the family.

Psalm 119:99

I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation.

 

Psalm 119:59

I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees.

 

Psalm 119:11-12

I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. Lord, may You be praised; teach me Your statutes.

 

There will be the need for instruction to address the different levels of growth in the family.

Each person in the family has to still make his or her own commitment to Jesus Christ.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

 

John 1:12

But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.

 

1 John 5:4-5, 13

…because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

Success comes from direct obedience to the Holy Spirit.

In the family, there can be these scenarios:

  1. One person saved and one not saved (1 Corinthians 7:13).
  2. Both husband and wife are saved.
  3. One following Scripture while the other does not.
  4. Both parents saved living out the Scripture, while a child may live for the Lord and another may not.
  5. The complete family is saved and is following the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is the teacher in the family (John 14:25-26).

We in the family are the students (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13).

The Bible is the textbook (2 Timothy 3:16).

The family is to help one another to grow:

  1. Intellectually. We communicate our knowledge to one another. We listen to each other.
  1. Emotionally. We cry, hurt, laugh and have fun together.
  1. Physically. Hugging, touches, kisses, wrestling.
  1. Spiritually. We all help guide, but only the Holy Spirit can do the real teaching (John 14:25).

Understanding a person is to know when the Holy Spirit is the only one to meet the need at this particular time in life.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


The Wrath of God

A message summary of May 1, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A lot of people go to church unaware of what or whom they are worshiping.

The saints of God are not appointed to God’s wrath, but it does not mean that there will not be suffering. The saints will be in opposition to those who are worshiping something other than God; specifically, the Antichrist. The world will eventually come more and more against those who are the true followers of Jesus Christ.

God is looking for a commitment from the people who are unsure about what to do. Paul said that he was not ashamed of God, and it is God’s power through salvation that protects the believer.

Wishy-washy Christians are unable to take a stand for Christ.

Believers will be under attack by Satan.

Revelation 6:9

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had.

Revelation 11:7

When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them.

Revelation 13:7

And he was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. He was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.

The saints will have to endure and persevere. Those, however, who worship the beast and especially those who received the mark (a firm commitment to Satan) will receive their due.

Revelation 14:11-13

“…and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

Are you able to make your testimony stick before others?

In order to remain faithful to Jesus, you will need to endure a lot of hardship. The ones who remain faithful to the end will be blessed.

The content of the bowls have an effect only on those who have received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

Revelation 16:2

The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

Exodus 10:21-23

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. One person could not see another, and for three days they did not move from where they were. Yet all the Israelites had light where they lived.

Exodus 9:25-26

Throughout the land of Egypt, the hail struck down everything in the field, both man and beast. The hail beat down every plant of the field and shattered every tree in the field. The only place it didn’t hail was in the land of Goshen where the Israelites were.

Exodus 8:22-23

But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where my people are living; no files will be there. This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. I will make a distinction between My people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.

Even through the time of the Great Tribulation, God is protecting His people, and even in death. You are assured of eternal life and happiness with Him.

Those who do not take the mark of the beast were treated differently that those who did, but it hardly got them off the hook from God’s judgment.

God does not hold the unbeliever in esteem. He makes the distinction between those who are His and those who deny Him. Believers have the seal of Christ upon them.

There will be those who will still try to decide whose side they will be on.

Joshua 24:14-15

“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, 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 Yahweh.

This is belief in Christ in action.

Exodus 32:25-26

Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, resulting in weakness before their enemies. And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.

Revelation 16:9

…and people were burned by the intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.

Titus 1:10

For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.

John 4:22

You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews.

Humanity has always been religious in some way, shape or form. No culture is without some sort of faith or some ritualistic practice of religion. Being religious is not a saving mark of God. You can be religious without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but you can’t be saved without Him.

Ephesians 1:13

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9

You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Revelation 7:3

Dont harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.

2 Timothy 2:19

Nevertheless, Gods solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription:

The Lord knows those who are His, and

Everyone who names the name of the Lord

must turn away from unrighteousness.


Love is a Commitment

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

The other day, my supervisor at work asked me to provide him with a text that he needed to preside over a wedding ceremony taking place this weekend. He originally asked me to select some Bible verses to reference within the ceremony, and he narrowed in on two of them.  One was Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, which notes that three strands of a cord are not easily broken, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7—the love is patient and kind verses.  From there, I put together a brief talk for him incorporating those verses.

It was likely not a coincidence that these two verse selections were chosen, for both of them have a very common thread in marriage—the importance of endurance.

Love is indeed important in marriage, but in order for a marriage to last, you must be ready to endure.

A believer in Jesus Christ has a foundation of love within the relationship, but the believer must also endure.

In both a marriage and as a believer, the ability to endure requires the participants to act in love with a commitment for success in the relationship.

Love is a commitment.

Note the various synonyms you can find in a dictionary for the word commitment: dedication, devotion, loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness.

There is a lot that can be said about not making a commitment to do something until you are ready to do it.  Many people make commitments to themselves that they can’t keep, let alone those that may be made with others.  When a couple, for example, says that they’re in love and want to get married, is there consideration given to what the commitment of marriage really means?

Love is not just the lovey-dovey stuff with hearts and smiley-faces.  Love is a commitment.

Our best example of a lasting commitment is in God’s covenant with His people, and especially the covenant that Jesus Christ has with His people.

Ezekiel 37:26-28 (HCSB)

26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them and will set My sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28 When My sanctuary is among them forever, the nations will know that I, Yahweh, sanctify Israel.”

John 1:14

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

 

2 Corinthians 6:16

And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell among them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be My people.

 

These verses show that God has been pursuing His people throughout history for the purpose of having a relationship—a loving relationship.  A loving relationship requires commitment.

Love is a commitment.

In any relationship, it will stand or collapse based upon the level of commitment.  A strong union will be able to rejoice during the good times and endure during the bad times.  God must be the source of strength and encouragement in any relationship.

Here is one of the verses that was chosen for the wedding ceremony:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

 

In a marriage, two of the strands represent the husband and wife, but the third strand represents the presence of God in your life.  Three strands are not easy to break, but it requires a husband and wife to stand together, even in disagreements.

Marriage is a commitment to live faithfully and without holding grudges.  Some of us have been married long enough now where the honeymoon may be over, and the reality of life has kicked in.  Here’s some free relationship advice:

Men, ladies don’t like to be ignored when they speak to you.

Ladies, men don’t like to be nagged.

Men, ladies want to be honored and feel safe in your presence.

Ladies, men want to be respected and appreciated.

Here is where this commitment of love has to be at the forefront of your marriage, all marriages and even in your relationship with Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Note the words used in this passage to describe true love (not just lovey-dovey love)…it’s not envious, not boastful, not conceited, not acting improperly, not selfish, not provoking, not holding grudges.  Love is all about patience, kindness, truth, righteousness, unselfishness and endurance.

Marriage is a commitment for the long haul, and true love will get you through the long haul.

Love is a commitment.

Jesus Christ made a commitment to love us for the long haul.  He loves us and showed it through His sacrifice for us for all eternity (John 3:16-17).  All that He asks of us is a commitment to complete a relationship with Him by acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior.

Loving Jesus Christ is a commitment, and the benefit is for all eternity.

1 John 4:7-10

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 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.

 

With this knowledge, is there something that you need to evaluate in your relationship with your husband?  Your wife?  Members of your family?  Or even with Jesus Christ?

In any relationship worth having and keeping…love is a commitment.

Matthew 22:36-40

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.”

 

Jesus Christ has made this commitment for you.  If you don’t have a commitment to Him, now’s your opportunity.

Love is a commitment.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Understanding Salvation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

This is a very important time to pray for our community, and especially for our church and our nation. We need to pray for those who are in Christ to remain in Him, and for those who are not following Him that they will recognize and seek the truth.

In these uncertain days you will hear people proclaim that “I am saved,” yet, there are many whose actions do not follow the righteousness of Christ. We’re living in a world that is full of darkness. The person who lives a reckless, careless life while declaring that he or she is saved is playing a dangerous game with their soul.

Salvation is to be taken very seriously. The Word of God must fall in line with a person who is truly saved. Salvation is to be understood through the teaching of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit’s guidance. After all is said and done, only you and God will know that you are truly saved. The evidence of your life would support it. There must be a distinction in your life that people would see. If someone were to watch you for ten minutes, would they see a distinct way of living in you?

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.

2 Peter 1:10
Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.

2 Peter 2:21-22
21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, “a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud.”

There is one thing that God confesses in Revelation: you need to be either hot or cold; if you are lukewarm, He will spit you out of His mouth.

Hebrews 3:11-12
Therefore I was provoked with that generation
and said, “They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known My ways.”
11 So I swore in My anger,
“They will not enter My rest.”
12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God.

1 John 3:6
Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.

Matthew 7:22-23
22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

Salvation is too serious for carelessness. You can’t say that you are saved and yet continue to walk on the edge. There must be a faithfulness to God’s Word and a wholehearted commitment to follow it.

2 Timothy 1:12
…and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Salvation transforms us. It makes something beautiful of our lives…if we truly understand it.

The meaning of salvation:

a. Greek: simply denotes “deliverance”
b. Latin: denotes one who is “safe”
c. It is “immunity from harm or danger”
d. It is to be “rescued from all harm”

Salvation is the process by which we are delivered from all that would prevent us from attainng the highest good that God has prepared for us (Daniel 10:13).

Psalm 84:11
For the Lord God is a sun and shield.
The Lord gives grace and glory;
He does not withhold the good
from those who live with integrity.

Romans 8:28
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

James 1:17
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

John 3:27
John responded, “No one can receive a single thing unless it’s given to him from heaven.

Salvation comes to us because:
1. Of who He is. God reveals His love for us.

1 John 4:8-9
8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

Romans 5:8
But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

2. Of His promises.

Galatians 3:14
The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Romans 4:21
…because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Matthew 1:22-23
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”

The source of our salvation:
1. The love of God (John 3:16)
2. The wisdom of God

1 Corinthians 2:6-7
6 However, we do speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.

1 Corinthians 1:21, 24
21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.

24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom,

3. The power of God

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

John 1:12
But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name.

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a
4 knowing your election, brothers loved by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.

In the work of salvation there is no weakness on God’s part. The failure is on our part when we do not confess our sin and the need for a Savior to realize our true salvation.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The love, wisdom and power of God, with the proper investment on our part, reinforces the salvation that we can possess.

Do you value the investment that God has made in you? Your salvation is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for you.


The Year of Commitment

There was a time in our lives when we lived for the moment.  Many of us can point to the period of time and space when we moved away from the house we grew up in with our parents and went away to college, or when you got your first apartment.  It was at that time you told yourself, “Now I can do what I want to do.”

Many of us did exactly that–lived for the moment and did what we wanted to.  Some of the results of this “living” were good experiences, and some were not as memorable.  It is from these life lessons that we eventually made the following statement (either to ourselves or out loud) in one of those infamous moments: “I’ll never do that again.”

A lot of our decisions early in life were based upon testing the wisdom of our parents or loved ones, or even going contrary to the advice of wise counsel.  Even those of us who went to church at an early age heard good advice from a pastor or a Sunday school teacher.  But did we take that advice when it mattered the most?  No.  The result of all of this, hopefully without enduring the harshest consequences of our actions, is that we really weren’t living as we thought we were.  It was, in fact, an ongoing exercise in sinful behaviors that showed we weren’t really as grown up as we thought we were.

We noticed the harsh reality that maturity is not measured by how old you are…it is measured in how consistent your life decisions are towards personal growth and development.  True maturity is when you take your college courses seriously and make a concerted effort to graduate.  You show maturity when you start using language that will help you to make an impression, not just personally, but also professionally.  You also show maturity in the type of relationships and friendships that you value…are your friends people who challenge your intellect…or are they just drinking buddies?

When you wake up one day and decide that you need to make the best choices to promote your maturity, then congratulations–you are making a commitment to be a better person.  A commitment is more than just a single decision.  It is a series of decisions that a person makes to support a position that leads to a goal.  A commitment, even more specific–the level of commitment–is measured by how the series of decisions line up with it.  For example, is a person doing the best that he or she can do to realize goals that have been set?  The commitment must show some sort of progress as a person pursues a goal.

In the same way, a person who lacks spiritual maturity may come to a point where it is time to get serious about their faith and their relationships with God and with others.  Sadly, there are some that never come to this conclusion.  Just as there are people who are over 40 years old and never “grow up,”  there are also people who do not believe that there isn’t anything that they need to do as far as a commitment to Christ.

Psalm 14:1

The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.”

They are corrupt; they do vile deeds.

There is no one who does good.

There are some that believe they have a close relationship with God, but their actions show something completely different.  This is a more insidious deception that they are under because it is based upon a false sense of faith.

Isaiah 29:13-14

13 The Lord said:

Because these people approach Me with their mouths

to honor Me with lip-service—

yet their hearts are far from Me,

and their worship consists of man-made rules

learned by rote—

14 therefore I will again confound these people

with wonder after wonder.

The wisdom of their wise men will vanish,

and the understanding of the perceptive will be hidden.

Matthew 15:7-9

7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,

but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,

teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

Titus 1:16

They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

All of this represents a spiritual immaturity that reflects a separation from people who claim to be following and serving God with those who are serious about where they are in their relationship with God, and how they live their life accordingly.  The person who makes the commitment to serve God is most likely to please God in His worship and service because it is all based upon a sincere practice of faith.

We are to be reminded that our actions alone do not merit or warrant God’s acceptance.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Hebrews 11:6

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Faith requires a commitment to go beyond what you see and hear.  It requires you to focus on God in ways that are beyond human understanding.  It is this practice of faith that is often viewed as exceptional within a worldly environment.  A consistent trust and faith in God allows the believer to be a part of those exceptional experiences where everyone present (both believer and non-believer) knows that there is no doubt about God’s presence in situations and circumstances.

In keeping this commitment to seek God and live for Him on a regular, daily basis, there are two key elements of practice for each person who is a believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  The commitment requires action steps in these two key categories:

The Seeking God Category

The Do the Right Thing Category

The first category involves personal preparation.  It involves the commitment to read and study the bible more than you did in the past.

Reading and studying the bible is important because it is God’s Word to us in written form.  It is His clearest form of communication to us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

11 so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

Reading and studying the bible now requires absorption of God’s wisdom through understanding by way of the Holy Spirit.  This requires a commitment to pray more each day.  God’s Word communicates to us, and prayer is your communication with God.  Effective prayers require practice and regularity.

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 6:18

18 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.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray constantly.

James 1:5-6

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. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

The second category, The Do the Right Thing Category, requires the committed believer to take the wisdom and knowledge acquired during The Seeking God Category and putting it to practice.  Here are the elements of practice in doing the right things that are in line with the commitment to grow in Christ:

  •  To Sin Less

Psalm 119:11

I have treasured Your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against You.

Thankfully, Jesus gives us the ability through the Holy Spirit to resist sin, and there will be struggles, but we can indeed sin less when we rely upon our faith.

2 Corinthians 12:10

So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Peter 5:10-11

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often

With better information you will ultimately make better decisions.  This is where the reliance of God’s wisdom, discernment and understanding promotes better decision-making.

Proverbs 2:1-11

Wisdom’s Worth

1 My son, if you accept my words

and store up my commands within you,

2 listening closely to wisdom

and directing your heart to understanding;

3 furthermore, if you call out to insight

and lift your voice to understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

and search for it like hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up success for the upright;

He is a shield for those who live with integrity

8 so that He may guard the paths of justice

and protect the way of His loyal followers.

9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,

and integrity—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your mind,

and knowledge will delight your heart.

11 Discretion will watch over you,

and understanding will guard you.

  •  To Become Selfless

Your commitment to Jesus Christ means developing a heart for God, which means that you will have a heart of concern for others more than you ever have in the past.

Philippians 2:3-4

3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud

but gives grace to the humble.

  •  To Respect Others

Romans 12:10

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 13:7

Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

Matthew 5:43-48

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children and Parents

1 Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. 4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

All of these actions require a foundational understanding of God’s Word for effective implementation.  There will be greater success in doing the right things as noted here with a greater dependency on God’s Word and with supplemental prayer.

Your commitment to be a true believer in service for Jesus Christ requires a consistent approach to these things that we just discussed:

  •  Reading and studying God’s Word
  •  Prayer
  •  To Sin Less
  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often
  •  To Become Selfless
  •  To Respect Others

Each of these require a commitment to a closer relationship with God in Jesus Christ and to be obedient to His Word, which invariably will help you to do the right thing.

If you’ve been on the fence as far as your walk with the Lord, or if you haven’t been as serious about this matter as you know you should be, then make today the day that you make the commitment to be a better believer in Jesus Christ.  It won’t be easy, but the rewards of doing so are far beyond what you can imagine.

Matthew 6:33 says all of this in the best, most concise way.

Matthew 6:33

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

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

All verses from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.