Tag Archives: desire

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.


Prayer: What Difference Does It Make? (1 John 5:14) [Part 7 of a Series]

Today’s message summary of May 21, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Today, we will discuss prayer but we also want to be able to learn how to listen to God in the midst of prayer.

Elijah went into hiding because he learned that his life was in danger because of his efforts to remove the idols of the day from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel.  There, the Lord spoke to him…

1 Kings 19:9-18

He entered a cave there and spent the night.

Elijahs Encounter with the Lord

Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?

He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.

Then He said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lords presence.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, he replied, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and theyre looking for me to take my life.

Then the Lord said to him, Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram.  You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.  Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu.  But I will leave 7,000 in Israelevery knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.

There are many points here, but we will cover the following point relevant to listening to God when we pray:

Identifying God’s voice.  Many of us can recognize specific voices, such as a mother, brothers or sisters, or even children and parents, and that is because of your personal knowledge and exposure.  In contrast, we often can struggle hearing God’s voice.  Please note that God has never stopped speaking to his church.  Our struggle is the amount of time we spend trying to hear Him.  We face many distractions that keep us from hearing Him.  Consider that Elijah, a very devout man, was in a place where he had become frightful even though he was a man full of faith and had spoken to God on a regular basis.  You would not necessarily expect that he would struggle here as he did.

God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  We can ask ourselves the same question.  Even when we are speaking to God, sometimes we cannot hear him because of how our fears can drown out the voice of God.

Can you identify the voice of God?  Are you able to decipher His voice over the voices of others?

John 10:2-5

The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they dont recognize the voice of strangers.

The sheep know His voice.  If you know Jesus Christ, you can identify His voice.  It is often, however, that we, as His sheep, will willingly listen to strangers that lead us to sin.  Other voices that are contrary to God will try to drown out God’s voice.  We can often be easily distracted.  We need to be intentional in pursuing the very things that God directs us to in order to succeed.

We can hear the voice of God actually answering previously unanswered prayers.

Colossians 3:15-16

And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

And dont get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ.

What is really in your heart?  Is it the Word of God or is it something else?  What permeates from you?  Is the Word of God something that comes naturally for you?

When you hear a voice of condemnation or one that promotes depression, it is not the voice of God.  We are to decipher those voices of the world versus those that come from God.

How do we know when God is communicating to us?  In biblical times, God did so in many different ways.  He can use these means even today.  He communicates to us through our friends or even our worldly co-workers.  In order to hear what He is saying, we must be attentive to this communication and live intentionally for Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:6-9

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 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.

Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

These are three supernatural and spontaneous events that occurred.  Notice that Elijah is trying to hear God’s voice through all of the noise but it was only when things were quiet and still was when he heard it.

It is important for each one of you, in our busyness, that we have to be still and focus on His voice.  It is in our quiet moments when we can hear Him best.

When we are praying to Him, what would it look like if we were silent?  What you will hopefully hear is your quiet conversation with Him and His response as you learn to read and meditate on His Word on a daily basis.


The Seven Bowls

A message summary from April 24, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 16:1-2

Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” 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.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment and wrath, He still does want people to repent from their sin and turn to Him.

Jesus is giving direction through the last of the seven bowls.

A loud voice was coming from the temple.  It belonged to Jesus.

Revelation 15:5-8

After this I looked, and the heavenly sanctuary—the tabernacle of testimony—was opened. Out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean, bright linen, with gold sashes wrapped around their chests. One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s glory and from His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

There was such glory and power that was present where no one could enter.  The great voice that comes out in Rev. 16:1 is that of Jesus Christ.  There is no great joy in what He is taking place, because we must remember that even though He is just and right, He still desired for all to be saved.

Isaiah 66:6

A sound of uproar from the city! A voice from the temple–the voice of the Lord, paying back His enemies what they deserve!

Revelation 11:15

The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!”

Revelation 14:8-10a

A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all the nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger.

While there are woes on earth, there is an excitement in heaven.  The excitement is the kingdoms of the earth are becoming part of the kingdom of heaven. God is not joyful in all of what will take place, because He loves even the worst of those who are sinners.

The pouring of the bowls will be a time a great distress.

Matthew 24:21

For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!

Bowl: a vial with a wide mouth.  A bowl has a wide opening at its top.  A bowl pours out its contents all at one time.  This implies that His wrath will happen very quickly.  I think that the reason God does this is because He knows that this will be so terrible that it is to be done as quickly as possible.

The judgment of sin will move and end quickly. God will take swift action, which also still will reflect His grace and mercy.

God does indeed love everyone He has created.  There is not a person who God hates.

The judgment will be over quickly because:

Jeremiah 6:10

Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the Lord has become contemptible to them–they find no pleasure in it.

There comes a time when talking is over.

Ezekiel 18:23, 32

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?

For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!”

Understand that the heart of God will not take pleasure in punishing His children.  Remember that He witnessed His Son dying on the cross for all of mankind.

Ezekiel 33:11

Tell them: As I live” — the declaration of the Lord God — “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.

Even God Himself does not get what He desires.  Some will perish even though He does not want that to happen.

We can’t picture God wrestling over this issue, but you can understand it better if you can see that God does not want any to perish, and that His love for us is measured in how Jesus Christ died for us.

The person born again in Jesus Christ is a completely different individual.  That is His pleasure…to see people get saved, and not be condemned.

He won’t make you do something that you don’t want to do.  His pleasure is to see His children get saved and not to suffer under His condemnation, for He will still act in righteousness. He is true to Himself.

 

 

 


Change: It Takes Work

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

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

Ephesians 2:10

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

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

God is reworking your life.

2 Corinthians 5:17

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

 

Titus 2:3-5

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

 

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

Revelation 2:20

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

 

Philippians 1:6

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

 

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

 

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

Colossians 3:23

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

 

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

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

Change will occur when you believe it is possible.

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

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

Romans 12:11

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

 

Proverbs 18:9

The one who is truly lazy in his work

is brother to a vandal.

 

Proverbs 24:30-34

30 I went by the field of a slacker

and by the vineyard of a man lacking sense.

31 Thistles had come up everywhere,

weeds covered the ground,

and the stone wall was ruined.

32 I saw, and took it to heart;

I looked, and received instruction:

33 a little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the arms to rest,

34 and your poverty will come like a robber,

your need, like a bandit.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:18

Because of laziness the roof caves in,

and because of negligent hands the house leaks.

 

To modify your life, where do you begin?

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

 

James 1:2

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

 

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

Look at Caleb–

Joshua 14:7-11

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

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

 

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

Look at Abram–

Genesis 13:14-15

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

 

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


How the Risen Savior Impacts You

Today’s message summary from Gus Brown:

How does the Resurrection affect you? Do you know how it impacts your life? Life is more than just getting up in the morning and going to work and to school. You should know what your life purpose is in everything that you do.

When Jesus died, fear gripped the disciples. In turn, if we don’t understand how Jesus’ death and resurrection affects us, we can live our lives in fear and uncertainty.

We need to personalize Jesus’ role in our lives.

John 11:17-27
17 When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem (about two miles away). 19 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house.

21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”

23 “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.

24 Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”

We must move beyond the doctrinal teaching of the resurrection to that of a personal relationship with the risen Savior. It’s more than just a period in history. His appearing had a purpose. His appearance would negate the false stories and myths that he was stolen away. He is alive, and wants to have a relationship with you.

He fulfills who He is with His presence. He is the great Comforter–He gives you direction as to where to go and also provides peace in the midst of your difficult experiences. This is how we experience the living God in our lives. He ministers to you in order that we can minister to others.

He came because there would be stories that He did not really rise from the dead:

Matthew 28:11-15
11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what He had said to her.

Isn’t it interesting in today’s culture that the women seem to respond first, while men are still playing catchup. Our hearts keep us from seeing and acknowledging God’s presence.

John 20:19-20
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

John 20:26-29
26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”

Jesus will reveal Himself to the believer not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way. It should be readily apparent to the believer of His spiritual presence somewhere in his or her existence. You would know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He is present in your life. It’s tougher to see Him in this way when you’re always in a hurry and running to and fro. He wants you to know that He lives and He wants you to be aware of His presence.

1 Corinthians 15:6-8
6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
7 Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.

His appearance is to remove fear or concern of His existence (see John 20:19). As time passes, we lose sight of things because people who have influenced our lives are no longer visible or present. We must always note, however, that Jesus is our ever present help. In turn, we do not live in fear. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Believers are the people to set the example. The more that we learn to love Jesus, the more that we can stand up for Him and declare Him as Lord and Savior to everyone you come into contact with. Instead of fear, we can live for Him in confidence.

Acts 2:14
14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out My Spirit
on My male and female slaves in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will display wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below:
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes.
21 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That boldness comes from the recognition that the disciples were serving and ministering on behalf of a risen Savior. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will empower you to live boldly for Him.

Acts 3:15-16
15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.

Do you ask people whether or not they know Jesus Christ? Just going to church will not save you from your sins. Only Jesus can do that. If you truly understand what it is to no longer hide and live in fear of reprisal from others, you can and will speak boldly for Him.

John 4:1-12
1 Now as they were speaking to the people, the priests, the commander of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were provoked that they were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example. 3 So they seized them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000.

5 The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7 After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: “By what power or in what name have you done this?”

8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

God sets the standard as to how we are to live. No matter what the world may dictate, God will enable you with the strength to overcome the opposition and speak boldly for Christ.

Acts 5:27-32
27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

We’re in a very delicate place in this country. It is becoming more difficult to minister according to God’s Word in light of the world of political correctness. Please note, however, it is always better to obey God then to obey men. Jesus is the One who sends us into the world to share the message of the gospel.

John 20:21
Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As you go before others on behalf of Jesus Christ, you will continue to grow and develop through His presence.

John 17:18-19
18 As You sent Me into the world,
I also have sent them into the world.
19 I sanctify Myself for them,
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection was to save each and every one of us. It also eliminates any fear or uncertainty of His presence. He lives to love us and to empower and strengthen us to live victoriously for Him. He has called us to build His kingdom and to challenge others to not live as the world lives. He calls us to be the example of those who can live on a higher plain in the midst of a dying world. May it be our desire to know the power of His resurrection in our lives. Lord, may you work in us and through us for your glory. Amen.


Understanding Sin and its Effect

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:

We will be discussing over the next couple of weeks how to understand sin. Can we understand or grasp the recent events of today, such as the mass shooting of children or even the gunman killing his own mother? These events are hard to explain or understand. What we want to explore is what sin really does to us.

Men has done everything he can to try to lessen or minimize the effects of sin. We can’t really understand or grasp what sin is because it is illogical. It is difficult to understand, but it does give us a greater understanding of our need for Jesus Christ. It will also help us to see that there is only one name under heaven and earth that can save us. Please note that we have people who may have said Jesus’ name or confessed that they know Him, but they may not believe that He is Lord and Savior.

Sin robs us from reaching our full potential. It always causes one to be disobedient to God. It can rob us of our integrity, even our shame. We may become insensitive to its embarrassment or guilt.

Romans 7:15
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.

Sin never shows us its destructive tendencies. It is deceptive to us. Satan wants us to believe that sin is not destructive and that it is not that big of a deal, when in fact it really is. Satan becomes your master when you believe the lie that sin is harmless to you.

Romans 7:18
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.

Satan puts us on a road that seems harmless, but it eventually leads to a problem for us. We may think we are in control in the midst of our sin, but it brings us to a place where we are not in control of anything, including our destruction.

Romans 7:24-25
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? 25 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.

Paul recognizes that God through Jesus Christ is the only one that can rescue us from sin. He sees that Jesus is the One who tells the truth, while Satan only lies (John 8:44). The question is whether or not we will allow Jesus to guide us away from sin.

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

Sin is the opposite of righteousness. When God declares matters as sin, He did not make any mistakes. Man tries to rationalize unrighteous acts and still declares himself to be righteous. There is no ambiguity in God’s message about obedience and sin.

Sin is the transgression of God’s divine will for your life. Sin interrupts and prevents us from carrying out God’s will for us.

Sin is always unjust. If someone commits an act of sin against us, we will try to justify our actions against the other person as righteous or necessary. This is another deception from Satan. Sin is never justifiable.

What defines the person who is spiritually dead? There are different ways to define death from a physical realm, but spiritual death is much different.

The effects of sin:
1. Failure to walk in the ways prescribed by Jesus Christ. There is only one way, and the path is narrow, and few will find it.
2. Rebellion against any authority, which is lawlessness.
3. It involves internal and external attitudes and behaviors. Sometimes the attitude is discovered in facial expressions or body language (which is internal), and then manifests itself in behaviors (which are external).

Romans 1:29-31
29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

The verses above do not describe a person who is truly following Jesus Christ.

4. It makes slaves of the person involved in it.

Romans 6:16-18
16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?
17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

5. It suppresses the truth and distorts it. Satan will give you half-truths and it keeps out godly truths. Truth sets one free from the deception of Satan. A person who is a Christian who does not believe in truth will suffer from guilt and oppression and fail to live an abundant life.

Romans 1:18-19
18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.

We are to recognize sin for what it is. Sinful behavior is often justified because of cultural norms. The truth will overcome sin.

6. It disagrees with the person of God as described in Scripture. People who try to justify behaviors are attributing issues to God when it fails to acknowledge God’s Word and who He is. God has revealed Himself to us, but we fail to recognize who He is because of our lack of understanding; therefore we try to make Him a different God.

Romans 1:25
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

Do you know that sin did not originate with mankind? Mankind was drawn into sin. Remember that the angels, who were created by God, also had free will. They must have had free will in order to decide whether to follow God or not.

1 John 3:8
The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.

Understanding sin recognizes the need for Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One who helps us to overcome sin.

Luke 10:18
He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash.

Look at this verse as an illustration as to how quickly he will deal with sin. Be thankful that He is long-suffering, but the moment that you sin, you incur consequences for that sin even in repentance.

Isaiah 14:12-15
12 Shining morning star,
how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations,
you have been cut down to the ground.
13 You said to yourself:
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne
above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly,
in the remotest parts of the North.
14 I will ascend above the highest clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you will be brought down to Sheol
into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Sin begins within the heart of the person committing it, and it declares that the person is in charge of his or her own life. That’s exactly what Lucifer (Satan) did himself before he was expelled by God from heaven. Satan knew that he could not be God or above God, but he readily acknowledged his desire to be like Him. This is what we do when we are caught up in sin. We deny that we want to be in the presence of God, but our actions are such that we are in defiance of Him.

Every person was created for the purpose of worshiping God and His authority. Sin declares that we deny His worship and declare selfishly that we are more important. The deception is that it is natural to do so because of our fleshly nature. Sin is when man tries to live on his own in violation of God’s law. He makes his own law in the course of his sin. He sets his own rules and regulations that contradict what God’s Word says.

People are often deceived by a mere consciousness of God. It is not enough to say “I believe in God.” You need to do more than believe in Him. You need to acknowledge His presence in your life by following Him and living for Him. Just believing in Him does not mean you acknowledge and trust Him as Lord and Savior.

Failure to live for God is a rejection of what Scripture declares about the nature and characteristics of who God is. When God’s Word is revealed to us, we learn that He is unchangeable. God is not going to change to satisfy our personal whims and desires. Sin corrupts our thinking of how God sees us and how we see Him. It also corrupts our views on how we make choices as to what is good and what is evil. Note that the more you are educated does not mean that one can sin less or not at all. The other flaw is that there are areas of influence that causes one to sin, such as television, video games or other media. Sin, in reality, begins in the heart of the person who commits it.

Some people believe, erroneously, that you can accept Jesus in your heart to go to heaven but that you don’t have to be obedient to Him. You cannot accept Jesus just to go to heaven and not fulfill the responsibilities that come with being a believer. Many people accept Jesus not to follow Him but to escape punishment after death. You cannot accept Jesus under your own conditions. He is either The Lord of your life or He isn’t. The deception of the enemy distorts our thinking about who Jesus really is.

Matthew 5:17
17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.”

Jesus understood that without the law, there is lawlessness. He stated that He is the fulfillment of the law. If Jesus Christ lives within you, it gives you the ability to live as He would have you to live. It is your desire to live for Him and please Him in your obedience to Him and His Word.

Matthew 5:19-20
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Just saying that you know Jesus will not grant you entry into heaven. It is most important to hear what God has to say about salvation and live according to what is declared.

Luke 11:28
He said, “Even more, those who hear the word of God and keep it are blessed!”

Psalm 119:11
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You.

James 1:19-26
19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself.

A true love for Jesus Christ is an acknowledgment that His Word is in the person’s heart, and then one’s mind. The heart of a person who is in sin is far from God. As we learn more about the effects of sin, we will see how we truly need Jesus Christ. His presence brings joy to a person’s life with the realization that His truth overcomes sin and our sinful nature.


Move Beyond Your Circumstances In Christ

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
How do we get beyond our difficulties? How do we move forward? Many of us are still tripping up over old baggage–things that happened to us many years ago. If at the end of the day you can say you are successful, then you can claim victory.
2 Chronicles 32:30b
Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did.While you are not a failure, you can be a failure if you choose to do things your way and fail to be obedient to God. God’s way is really the only way. It applies to everyone and to every generation. What made Hezekiah successful in everything that he did? Here are some points of application for you to reference in the same ways that Hezekiah experienced in his successes:1. You are the only one that can make your life better. You need to be the better judge of character in those people you choose to surround you.2. You are not to feel sorry for yourself. Don’t dwell on matters that keep you on the sidelines.

3. You are to look for the open door, and, by faith, be willing to step through it.

4. You are to remain courageous. Don’t allow difficulty to cause you to lose courage. Press on, and don’t stop living in a positive way. You are to strive for the best in life.

5. You are to direct your thoughts to move you to act. Your thoughts are not to direct you or dictate to you what you are to do.

6. You choose to believe that God works everything together for good–to build you and shape your character.

Hezekiah could have made excuses for getting a raw deal out of life. He did not have a good household situation.
Hezekiah’s father Ahaz was not a godly man. He acted in regular disobedience to God.

2 Chronicles 28:1-5, 23-25
1 Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king and reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the Lord’s sight like his ancestor David, 2 for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made cast images of the Baals. 3 He burned incense in the Valley of Hinnom and burned his children in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. 4 He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

5 So the Lord his God handed Ahaz over to the king of Aram. He attacked him and took many captives to Damascus.

Ahaz was also handed over to the king of Israel, who struck him with great force.

23 He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him; he said, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram are helping them, I will sacrifice to them so that they will help me.” But they were the downfall of him and of all Israel.

24 Then Ahaz gathered up the utensils of God’s temple, cut them into pieces, shut the doors of the Lord’s temple, and made himself altars on every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 He made high places in every city of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and he provoked the Lord, the God of his ancestors.

Ahaz was evil, and his actions caused his family and his people to suffer. Hezekiah was raised in this environment. How did Hezekiah overcome this? In the same way, each one of us has to do what Hezekiah did…to remain faithful to God in spite of what you see around you. A pebble thrown into the water has a ripple effect that travels out from it. Our faith has a similar effect on those around us.

Isaiah had influence on Ahaz during his lifetime, and Hezekiah likely heard it (Isaiah 7:9 below).

Isaiah 7:3-13
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear-jashub to meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, by the road to the Fuller’s Field. 4 Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering stubs of firebrands, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah. 5 For Aram, along with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has plotted harm against you. They say, 6 ‘Let us go up against Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it for ourselves. Then we can install Tabeel’s son as king in it.’”

7 This is what the Lord God says:

It will not happen; it will not occur.
8 The head of Aram is Damascus,
the head of Damascus is Rezin
(within 65 years
Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people),
9 the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
then you will not stand at all.

10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz: 11 “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God—from the depths of Sheol to the heights of heaven.”

12 But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not test the Lord.”

13 Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God?

Hezekiah became king at age 25 after Ahaz died. Note that the influence on Hezekiah’s life was not a reference to his natural father, Ahaz.

2 Chronicles 29:1-11
1 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king and reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done.

3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple and repaired them. 4 Then he brought in the priests and Levites and gathered them in the eastern public square. 5 He said to them, “Hear me, Levites. Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of Yahweh, the God of your ancestors. Remove everything impure from the holy place. 6 For our fathers were unfaithful and did what is evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned Him, turned their faces away from the Lord’s tabernacle, and turned their backs on Him.[b] 7 They also closed the doors of the portico, extinguished the lamps, did not burn incense, and did not offer burnt offerings in the holy place of the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the wrath of the Lord was on Judah and Jerusalem, and He made them an object of terror, horror, and mockery,[c] as you see with your own eyes. 9 Our fathers fell by the sword, and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity because of this. 10 It is in my heart now to make a covenant with Yahweh, the God of Israel so that His burning anger may turn away from us. 11 My sons, don’t be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to serve Him, and to be His ministers and burners of incense.”

Hezekiah did not do what his father did–he did what was right before God as David, his grandfather, had done. First, he opened the doors to the house of worship for his people. He wanted a relationship with God and knew that the same approach would be best for his people. He wanted to get people involved with this work…he wanted others–godly people–to help him to learn and grow in faith and worship together. It was a rebuilding process. Hezekiah had to gather the people willing to help clean out all of the things that defiled the temple.

There are times when you need to go back and evaluate the family in order to know what to avoid and to move away from those practices. You must acknowledge what was wrong in order to change the wrong patterns of family behavior from one generation to another. There are blessings in your obedience to God’s Word and in your resistance of those things that are outside of your obedience to Him.

When you praise and worship God, you build in yourself the character that will renew and reinforce your relationship with God. It is not about dwelling on the past or the tough times. It is about truly seeking Him as opposed to just acting it out and not just going through the motions. Is your heart willing to dedicate yourself to The Lord?

2 Chronicles 29:27-30; 30:1, 6
29:27 Then Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offerings began, the song of the Lord and the trumpets began, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly was worshiping, singing the song, and blowing the trumpets—all of this continued until the burnt offering was completed. 29 When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all those present with him bowed down and worshiped. 30 Then King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to the Lord in the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with rejoicing and bowed down and worshiped.

30:1 Then Hezekiah sent word throughout all Israel and Judah, and he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem to observe the Passover of Yahweh, the God of Israel.

6 So the couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the hand of the king and his officials, and according to the king’s command, saying, “Israelites, return to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel so that He may return to those of you who remain, who have escaped from the grasp of the kings of Assyria.

If you see there are problems in your life, and even in your past, how will you choose to respond to them? Are you willing to humble yourself, acknowledge sin in your own life and repent of it, and make changes for the better? Are you willing to seek God, pray in earnest and continue to grow and build your relationship with Jesus Christ and serve Him? All of these are choices that you must make.