Tag Archives: discipline

The Church and Salvation: Two Ministries

Today’s message summary of October 29, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

When you are in the church and you have declared Christ as your personal Savior, He gives you the desire to minister to others.  Ministry requires discipline and getting more and more into the Word of God.

All of us have two ministries.  Everything falls within them.  The first ministry involves your church–your family of disciples.  The other ministry involves your community.  Jesus provides examples where He was active in both of these ministries.

Ministry is not to be driven by “impact” or “numbers” or “success.”  While we want to have an impact in the lives of people and see church membership grow, ministry only has one thing that drives it within one’s heart, and that is obedience to God.

Many people follow Jesus for different reasons, including the receipt of His blessings, but leave out the importance of remaining obedient to Him.

John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

Do you have a desire and goals to actively do God’s work?

The reason why people don’t actively see God working in their lives is because they don’t really seek after doing the things that God would have them to do.  When you are actively seeking His presence, He will show you what He can do.

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.

When God is using you and there is evidence that His work is flowing through your efforts, it is a testimony of God’s work through your life.  God is actively moving and working in the lives of those who are obedient to Him and to His will.  Their ministry testifies that God is using them.

John 6:38

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Your obedience to God shows that His will is important to you.

Ministry involves your will surrendering to God’s will.

To do ministry, you cannot do it in your own power or strength.  It will only truly work when you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him work in your life.

How many of you attempt to do something, and it fails?  In failure comes learning.  It is an opportunity to learn something.

You should never be satisfied when nothing is attempted.  God is the One who can give the victory if you strive to do His work more and more.

Your ministry matters, because it reveals your obedience, and the results of ministry reveals God’s faithfulness in the work He assigned you.

1 Corinthians 3:5-10

What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God’s coworkers.  You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.  But each one must be careful how he builds on it.

Ministry has a staring place and must be defined.  Jesus reflects this within His own ministry.

  • Jesus is starting with His own (Matthew 15:24).
  • Do not go among the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6).
  • Begin in Jerusalem…ministry in your own home and family (Acts 1:8)
  • Judea: your neighbors, co-workers–the people around you.
  • Samaria: people who are different, your enemies, and people you don’t like.
  • To the world: everyone else, especially people you do not know.

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.”

Jesus sends people to those that are known first (family and friends) because He wants people to work their way up to eventually go out before others over time.  People who are in ministry need time to grow within the ministry.  Mistakes will happen, but experience in ministry is a good teacher.  The Holy Spirit will provide guidance within this learning opportunity.  All that He desires is your obedience and to keep trying.

As you gain more experience, you will see how God will send you out further and further in your ministry–even to minister to those who are your enemies.  Jesus taught His disciples as to how they could do battle with their enemies, but they first had to learn how to love one another and minister to one another before they were sent out.

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The Fourth Seal: Death & Hades

Today’s message summary of October 25, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 6:7-8

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come! And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. The horseman on it was named Death, and Hades was following after him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.

Death is coming eventually.  It is comes in many different ways, but God is greater than death.

Jeremiah 14:14-17

But the Lord said to me, These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, though I did not send them, and who say, There will never be sword or famine in this land. By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end. The people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be no one to bury themthey, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will pour out their own evil on them. You are to speak this word to them:
Let my eyes overflow with tears;
day and night may they not stop,
for the virgin daughter of my people
has been destroyed by a great disaster,
an extremely severe wound.

 

Hosea 13:12-14

Ephraims guilt is preserved;
his sin is stored up.
Labor pains come on him.
He is not a wise son;
when the time comes,
he will not be born.

I will ransom them from the power of Sheol.
I will redeem them from death.
Death, where are your barbs?
Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from My eyes.

 

People need to be able to turn the right way to the Lord in order to live.  Without the Lord, they are lost.  God will rescue those who seek Him and declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God is so close to coming back, and many do not know what to do.  Even though God has compassion for those who have sought for Him, He will show no compassion for those who do not know Him.

The pale green horse referred to in Revelation 6 is noted as a sickly color.  In the Phillips translation it uses the word “grave” instead of “Hades.”

Deuteronomy 32:34-43

Is it not stored up with Me,
sealed up in My vaults?
Vengeance
 belongs to Me; I will repay.
In time their foot will slip,
for their day of disaster is near,
and their doom is coming quickly.

The
 Lord will indeed vindicate His people
and have compassion on His servants
when He sees that their strength is gone
and no one is left
slave or free.
He will say:
Where are their gods,
the
rock they found refuge in?
Who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offerings?
Let them rise up and help you;
let it
 be a shelter for you.
See now that I alone am He;
there is no God but Me.
I bring death and I give life;
I wound and I heal.
No one can rescue anyone from My hand.
I raise My hand to heaven and declare:
As surely as I live forever,
when I sharpen My flashing sword,
and My hand takes hold of judgment,
I will take vengeance on My adversaries
and repay those who hate Me.
I will make My arrows drunk with blood
while My sword devours flesh

the blood of the slain and the captives,
the heads of the enemy leaders.

Rejoice, you nations, concerning His people,
for He will avenge the blood of His servants.
He will take vengeance on His adversaries;
He will purify His land and His people.

 

As noted in this passage, the day of the world’s disaster is coming soon.

Note that the book of Revelation is not a book of doom, but a book of revelation, salvation and how God is to be glorified in how He will keep His people.

Referring back to Revelation 6:7-8…the pale horse’s rider is Death.  Death is coming in such a way that it is unforeseen and in an unprecedented way.

The fourth seal talks about a mass death, or one-fourth of the world’s population.  In 2009, the world population was reported to be 6,783,421,727 people.  One fourth of that number would be 1.8 billion people, which is about the same number of people as in the United States and in China.

Matthew 24:22

Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.

 

It is still the time of God’s salvation.  Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2

For He says:

I heard you in an acceptable time,
and I helped you in the day of salvation.

 

Isaiah 49:8-9

This is what the Lord says:

I will answer you in a time of favor,
and I will help you in the day of salvation.
I will keep you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land,
to make them possess the desolate inheritances,
saying to the prisoners: Come out,
and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.
They will feed along the pathways,
and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.

 

The first seal represents conquest.

The second seal removed peace and men were to slay one another.

The third seal represents famine.

Death is the fourth seal.

With the seal of death following the first three seals, Revelation reflects the emergence of different types of death to be experienced by different people.

Today, death is taking place in a variety of ways that we have not seen before.

Death may come about:

  1. By the sword. The weapon of that day.  Note that the weapons of today are guns, bombs, knives, etc.
  2. By famine. People will be unable to eat–there will be no farming.  There will be food shortages.  War will destroy farmland, and there will be no one to work the land.
  3. By plague. Gangrene, infection, bacteria that ravages the body, including new diseases not previously experienced.

Because of man’s disobedience, death is naturally happening.

Revelation also notes that there will be death by wild beasts, as well.  Wild animals normally follow their own food chain, but there will be a need for food by bears, rats, bobcats, wolves, etc.  This is another way that people will experience death because of disobedience.  God will give correction and grab the attention of others who are witnesses.

Ezekiel 14:21

For this is what the Lord God says: How much worse will it be when I send My four devastating judgments against Jerusalemsword, famine, dangerous animals, and plaguein order to wipe out both man and animal from it!

 

Leviticus 26:23-24

If in spite of these things you do not accept My discipline, but act with hostility toward Me,  then I will act with hostility toward you; I also will strike you seven times for your sins.

 

Christians at that time will also experience death in this same way, but God is able to rescue them from the grave!

In Revelation Chapter 6, Hades follows death.  Hades refers to the grave, which is not a place of punishment or torment.  While the body goes to the grave:

2 Corinthians 5:7-9

For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.

 

Philippians 1:21-24

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I dont know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christwhich is far betterbut to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

 

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me. Selah

 

Revelation 1:17-18

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Dont be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but lookI am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.

 

Who is in control of it all?  God is.

Job 19:25-27

But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last,
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.

I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.


Cutting Away Pride

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Pride is defined as:
1. an overhigh opinion of oneself
2. a proper respect for oneself; a sense of one’s own dignity or self worth. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John recognized that he was to transition his ministry to someone who was far greater than him. It wasn’t about putting himself down, but instead about giving honor to whom honor is due. It is a respect of one’s authority.

An example of pride of life: The Titanic in 1912 was made and called the unsinkable ship. It sunk on its maiden voyage after striking an iceberg.

1 John 2:16
For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

One’s boasting can become overconfidence. It’s one thing to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), but there is a fine line when the things that you accomplish becomes more about what you are doing than what God is doing.

Pride is an arrogant manner of living (self-importance)

Pride is made up of pretense (a false claim made is unsupported)

False pride uses worldly sources for strength.

How false pride is developed and how it hurts us–

2 Chronicles 26:3-5
3 Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king and reigned 52 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight as his father Amaziah had done. 5 He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.

Uzziah allowed someone to teach him to respect and honor God, and it bore out as success as long as he sought God.

2 Chronicles 26:8
The Ammonites gave Uzziah tribute money, and his fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for God made him very powerful.

2 Chronicles 26:9, 11-15
9 Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and the corner buttress, and he fortified them.

11 Uzziah had an army equipped for combat that went out to war by division according to their assignments, as recorded by Jeiel the court secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the authority of Hananiah, one of the king’s commanders. 12 The total number of heads of families was 2,600 brave warriors. 13 Under their authority was an army of 307,500 equipped for combat, a powerful force to help the king against the enemy. 14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows and slingstones. 15 He made skillfully designed devices in Jerusalem to shoot arrows and catapult large stones for use on the towers and on the corners. So his fame spread even to distant places, for he was marvelously helped until he became strong.

With all of this, Uzziah became prideful, and it led to his downfall. (While he had every reason to be proud of his nation and the army he presided over, he forgot where those things came from and how he became powerful.) Pride led him to become unfaithful to The Lord. He lost his ability to be honored by God (see v. 18).

2 Chronicles 26:16-21
16 But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction. He acted unfaithfully against the Lord his God by going into the Lord’s sanctuary to burn incense on the incense altar. 17 Azariah the priest, along with 80 brave priests of the Lord, went in after him. 18 They took their stand against King Uzziah and said, “Uzziah, you have no right to offer incense to the Lord—only the consecrated priests, the descendants of Aaron, have the right to offer incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have acted unfaithfully! You will not receive honor from the Lord God.”

19 Uzziah, with a firepan in his hand to offer incense, was enraged. But when he became enraged with the priests, in the presence of the priests in the Lord’s temple beside the altar of incense, a skin disease broke out on his forehead. 20 Then Azariah the chief priest and all the priests turned to him and saw that he was diseased on his forehead. They rushed him out of there. He himself also hurried to get out because the Lord had afflicted him. 21 So King Uzziah was diseased to the time of his death. He lived in quarantine with a serious skin disease and was excluded from access to the Lord’s temple, while his son Jotham was over the king’s household governing the people of the land.

Pride led to anger (v. 19)
Pride brings a punishment from God that is visible to others (v. 19)
God’s punishment can be lasting (v. 21)
Pride can cause you to be excluded from worship (v. 21)

Pride will cause you to lose perspective as to your position and where it came from. When fleshly pride is being corrected, anger is often the response. In the end, God will respond in such a way that everyone can see the correction taking place.

King Uzziah was a king at age 16, but he could no longer function as king because of his affliction. He lost his authority and ability to govern the people because of his pride. This is how pride can put one on the sidelines with the inability to function or do what you were originally called to do.

Psalm 73:6
Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.

Psalm 119:21
You rebuke the proud,
the ones under a curse,
who wander from Your commands.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, disgrace follows,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride comes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

When you are obedient to God, He will indeed exalt you. Don’t allow pride to keep you from humility…humbling yourself before Him will keep you on the path to godliness and a growing relationship with Him.


Cut Away the World From Your Life

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

The world, the flesh and pride are to be removed from our life as a believer in Jesus Christ. The philosphies of the world will infiltrate in your way of thinking, and it can have an effect on the decisions that you make. As we are called to be “children of God,” there should be something strange or peculiar about us.

When you ask God to remove something from your life that will not help you, He will remove it, or cut it away from you.

Jesus came with a sword to destroy the work of the Devil.

Matthew 10:34
Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

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.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Out of the mouth comes a sharp sword which was to strike down the nations (Revelation 19:15).

The world–the order or system promoted by Satan, which conforms to his ideals, aims and methods. It is a world of people functioning apart from God. It is a world that doesn’t assign God any consideration or respect to their daily life. The system embraces the slogan, “I did it my way” without God–a godless, self-governing life.

God loves the world, but the believer is told not to love the world, or the love of the father is not in him.

1 John 2:15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

We are not to love the institutions of the world. God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). We are not to love the style of behavior for others, including fashion and government.

Matthew 4:8
Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

Matthew 13:22
Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Ephesians 2:1-3
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

James 4:4
Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

2 Peter 1:4
By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

Acts 5:29
But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.

It is impossible to deny sin in this world. We see it daily. How does the world describe sin?
To the scholar, sin is ignorance.
To the evolutionist, sin is the evolution of a person
To others, sin is a disease that is to be treated by science, because man himself does not sin.
To others, it is a weakness of the flesh that we have to live with.
If there were no sin, there would be no need for prisons (incarceration involves rehabilitiation).

Keep this in mind, the purpose of hell is to punish sin with a separation from God.

God’s view is that sin in this world is a transgression of His law. It is rebellion against His will. Sin is coming up short of His plan and His glory. Sin is unbelief concerning what God has said. Sin is doing your own thing without God’s approval.

Romans 3:25
God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.

Isaiah 1:2
Listen, heavens, and pay attention, earth,
for the Lord has spoken:
“I have raised children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against Me.

1 John 5:10
(The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.)

Isaiah 53:6
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all.

1 John 3:4
4 Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.

The flesh is seeking your own desire as a rivalry against God.

2 Timothy 4:10
…for Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

Philippians 3:18-19
18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things,

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Ephesians 2:2
…in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

Anything of the world that keeps you from God needs to be cut away. You need to ask for His help to remove the things you do not want to follow. Who overcomes the world? Those who have faith in Jesus Christ will overcome the world.

1 John 4:4, 5:4
You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.


Grace and Truth

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

When you begin to accept God’s truth in your life, it heals us emotionally and mentally. God’s Word is able to provide the healing when we simply trust in Him.

Father, we pray that we will discover how wonderful you are in what you do, and we pray that you show your power, love and grace, and we give you the praise in Jesus’ name–Amen.

Grace is for the believer to be able to live the life that Christ has purchased for you. We will not, however, understand this grace that He gives us unless we understand God’s truth. Grace, by itself, will not help us to develop the growth that we need. His truth is what helps us to understand who He is and what it means to be obedient to Him. His grace and His truth must work hand-in-hand in order for us to grow in Him. We need grace and truth. It takes both for us to grow in Christian development.

It is the same as using fertilizer and water in a garden. It takes both to make plants grow and grow heartily. Grace and truth must work together in the same way.

The truth about God, as we learn more about Him, helps us with greater understanding about Him. Note the standard that He has in comparison to man:

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man who lies,
or a son of man who changes His mind.
Does He speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?

God does not need to change His ways, accordingly, in order to satisfy us. He is not like a man, and He will not compromise His standards for our sake. He will not change according to our likes, dislikes or behavior. In order for us to have fellowship with God, we have to change our ways to conform to Him.

Romans 3:2-4
2 Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the spoken words of God. 3 What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? 4 Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written:

That You may be justified in Your words
and triumph when You judge.

For some people, God’s Word can either be a blessing or a curse. How we respond to God and His Word does not change the truth behind God’s Word. He is and always remains faithful to His Word. God will honor those that have faith and trust in Him (so that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge – Romans 2:4 NIV), and those who fail to trust Him will determine and earn their own reward. Your faith and belief in God that He will honor His Word will prove you to be correct in all matters and dealings with others.

2 Corinthians 12:9
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 Christ’s power may reside in me.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

God’s grace allows you to be successful in all that you do, and He even will empower you when you believe you are unable to go forward.

Titus 2:11-12
11 For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.

As we have been living in Satan’s domain, we have been taught things that are of the world and that are often filled with ungodliness. God has taught us, through His Word, that we need to renew our minds:

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

God says that He will teach us about these things in order for us to learn complete truth. His truth is the teaching that is delivered to us by the Holy Spirit and gives us the ability to recognize God’s grace and His love for us.

Grace and truth are tied together to develop in you a Christ-like lifestyle.

We need to know truth. Pontius Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

A dictionary definition of truth is loyalty and trustworthiness–the quality or state of being true; an agreement with a standard, a rule, correctness and accuracy.

As a people, it is virtually impossible to meet this standard; in fact, only God truly meets this standard according to the definition.

God and the biblical use of truth is not the conformity to some external standard but, instead, faithfulness and reliability. God’s faithfulness and reliability is the standard that we are to follow, and He always keeps His Word.

John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

Deuteronomy 7:8-11
8 But because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands. 10 But He directly pays back and destroys those who hate Him. He will not hesitate to directly pay back the one who hates Him. 11 So keep the command—the statutes and ordinances—that I am giving you to follow today.

Isaiah 65:16
Whoever is blessed in the land
will be blessed by the God of truth,
and whoever swears in the land
will swear by the God of truth.
For the former troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from My sight.

Psalm 146:5-6
5 Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them.
He remains faithful forever.

God’s truth that He provides is a reflection of God Himself–He is truth.

John 1:14-17
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.
15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed,
“This was the One of whom I said,
‘The One coming after me has surpassed me,
because He existed before me.’”)
16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace
from His fullness,
17 for the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Why is important, in this verse sequence, is grace noted first before truth? It is because God gives us the grace to learn and apply God’s truth. Without grace, the truth may be present but we do not have the ability to apply it to our lives. He did all of this–give us grace and truth–out of love for each of us. We are all in need to this grace and truth because of who we are.

Romans 3:23
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Our standard is in Jesus Christ, the only one who lived on earth who was without sin. Note that our ministry to others should also reflect the same grace and truth that God has given to each of us:

Colossians 4:6
Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

God, through the Holy Spirit, will give you the ability to provide every answer. It is because of His grace and His truth that we can move forward with confidence in Jesus Christ. It is as simple as believing God in what He has proclaimed and trusting in Him.

Lord, may you minister to us with the Word, your grace, and the teaching of your truth in the coming weeks, and we give you the praise in all of these matters in Jesus’ name–Amen.


The Incorruptible Crown

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
A professional athlete earns a living with his accomplishments, but he can’t take it with him when he passes on, yet Paul speaks in scripture about the incorruptible crown…the crown that never fades. It is not just about salvation, but it is about fighting the “good fight.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.You are not running or doing something to be saved (that’s already taken care of through the sacrifice of Jesus and the shedding of His blood). You are to run for the incorruptible crown that recognizes your true service for God.All Christians are in the race to serve Him. We are all pursuing a prize. The question remains whether all of us are using the tools provided through training and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need the training to be able to run effectively for the prize. Our goal is to be victorious in the race, and not to leave anything out of our efforts.

Our training is a strict training. It is a struggle, and sometimes it can be agonizing and painful. God’s grace, nonetheless, surpasses all discomfort and pain that we, as Christians, will experience.

You are to train in order to contend with adversaries and be prepared to fight. The opposition wants to keep you from living in righteousness.

You are to live under self-control and to self-govern yourself. These are to bring your training into action to resist your opposition while learning to love God more and more while keeping His commands.

For athletes, it was necessary to abstain from unwholesome food, wine and sexual indulgence.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:25 to observe the world–it runs for a crown that fades away.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Our works will follow us. They have an eternal, lasting value.

Revelation 14:13
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!”

We serve for a crown that will last forever and will not fade; as a result, we do not run aimlessly but to please God. All of this is done while we face a raging war from within:

Romans 7:23
But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.

Ephesians 6:12
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with things that take you off of the focus of running for the prize.

1 Timothy 4:7
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness.

Your eyes are to remain fixed on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2
…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

In running the race, you must be:
1. Pure in body
2. Sober of mind
3. Willing to endure

We train the body to be controlled by our mind through self-denial and self-discipline.

2 Corinthians 10:4b-5
We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Galatians 5:16, 22-23
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

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

We run this race to win in that our accomplishments for Jesus Christ will not fade away. It is the incorruptible crown that we strive for and that will ultimately glorify God.


The Crown of Joy: Serving Christ is a Team Effort

A summary of today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
God uses each of us as His instrument to manifest His glory here on Earth. People will see your life and even the hardships that you experience, and it can prompt the observers to ask how you are able to respond in such a positive manner. God uses us to bring people closer to making a decision to accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior.To bring about this salvation, it required a team effort through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit long ago.

John 3:16-17
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Whoever believes is a key point. Man himself cannot believe in God. The Holy Spirit must convict one of his or her sin and enable the person to make a decision to believe in Jesus Christ.

When you serve Jesus Christ, you are on the team to reach others, and it is a team effort.

1 Corinthians 3:5-8
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

To work for Jesus is to be actively involved in reaching others. All of us who serve Christ are part of the team–the question is your role. God will challenge your heart, first and foremost, for its sincerity in service for Him. Our love for others will be evident as we remember how God loves us.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-10
3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— 6 and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others. 7 Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle[a] among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children. 8 We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-20
11 As you know, like a father with his own children, 12 we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

13 This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us; they displease God and are hostile to everyone, 16 hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. As a result, they are always completing the number of their sins, and wrath has overtaken them at last.

17 But as for us, brothers, after we were forced to leave you for a short time (in person, not in heart), we greatly desired and made every effort to return and see you face to face. 18 So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy!

Our team effort consists of being obedient to His will and using our personal abilities to serve within the body of Christ, without letting hardships or adversity slow you down. Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is to share your life with others. It starts with your focus on living a life that is holy and blameless. Your obedience to God is what draws people nearer to you, and as a result, nearer to Him.

The result of these efforts is a testimony that brings people to Christ. We need to share, to teach and provide guidance about truth and repentance. Once we do this, the gospel can be presented. It is the greatest work that you will ever be a part of.

Colossians 1:28
We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
but violence takes lives.

Daniel 12:3
Those who are wise will shine
like the bright expanse of the heavens,
and those who lead many to righteousness,
like the stars forever and ever.

1 John 3:4
Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.

James 5:15
The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Hebrews 12:1-2
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

Your effective work for Jesus Christ requires a focus on Him, His sacrifice for all of us brings joy in the midst of your struggles and suffering. It reveals God’s love for us and for others who see and hear our testimony of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15
But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct.

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

John 8:36
Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.