Tag Archives: eternal life

His Gift…My Gift

Today’s message summary of December 25, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There is a spiritual reward for those who give generously; however, we should not expect to become wealthy through giving to others. Those who receive your gifts will be helped, will be joyful, and comforted that someone thought about them. As you bless others, you will be blessed.

Giving is done because we love others.  It is the example of what God has done for us.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

Romans 5:8

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

 

Romans 8:32

He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?

 

The gift of Jesus Christ is a gift that continually gives and it is for everyone who acknowledges Him.  It is a lasting gift that is beyond description.  It is His gift of eternal life for all who believe in Him.

2 Corinthians 9:12-15

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service. And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

 

The service of giving is addressing needs that others have.  It is to bring forth a great relief in someone’s life.  Your giving is a reflection of God’s gift to all people for all to see.

God’s gift of eternal life–salvation through Jesus Christ–brings peace, wisdom, knowledge, discernment and fellowship–and many other things.  It is a lasting gift that no one else can provide but Him.

Thanks be to God!

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No Ways Tired (God Has Brought Us Through It All)

Rev. James Cleveland

Rev. James Cleveland

Original post August 2, 2009 – Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cw75v2uqts

I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – Rev. James Cleveland (via YouTube)

I don’t feel no ways tired,
I’ve come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy,
I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.

(excerpt from I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – written by Curtis Burrell – sung by Rev. James Cleveland)

 

When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh and all his household, but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)”

When reflecting upon our lives as we remember our victories and learn from our defeats, do we respond with awe as to how God has brought us through it all?

We are (if we choose to be) a living testimony to the true statement that “God is able (Ephesians 3:20).” When we look at our life from where we came from to where we are today, we should be giving thanks to the Lord through Jesus Christ, proclaiming aloud “look where God has brought us from.” It is His grace and mercy that has carried us through. God’s grace has brought us out of generations of servitude and bondage to a new generation of freedom. He has allowed us to realize true freedom, not just in this country, but also in our ability to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Few today know of the sacrifices of our ancestors and predecessors who gave their lives for the freedom that we can celebrate in today. The times of difficulty experienced by those who lived before us in those days of persecution required a strong measure of faith and trust that God would be the One who would sustain them and deliver them. Their vision was far from short-sighted.

We have a responsibility, however, to acknowledge, who Jesus Christ is in our lives. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it’ (Luke 9:23-24).” God has truly blessed us, in our following Jesus Christ, with a sense of family in our neighborhoods when we were raising not just our own children, but the neighbors’ children, too! Today, that precious family value has been lost to a new generation of single parenthood and a lack of a healthy overall family presence. The world has a powerful effect on today’s youth and family structures that has diminished the impact of the family structure.  Only the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome adversity and move people to reconcile with God and with others.  If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, pray for the Spirit to change lives and more!  He is able to provide many miracles!

Let’s personalize this.  When looking at where God has brought you from, take the time to review and reflect upon where you are today. Looking back at your past helps you to move today in the right direction in order to be in the place where God would have you to be now and in the future. Jesus transforms lives from a lost existence through repentance and His forgiveness of sin.  His grace and mercy from His gift of salvation is ready for anyone who is willing to trust in Him as personal Lord and Savior.  He can, and will, transform you today.  Just ask, and you will receive.  Amen.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)


Be Confident in Jesus Christ

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

How many of you are confident in that whatever The Lord says He will do that He does it–over and over again?

The Lord is the one who calls us to prosper, give us intelligence, and the ability to impart knowledge and understanding. Our ability to succeed in this area is from being empowered by God’s wisdom. We will have difficulty when we fail to trust in Him and rely upon our own knowledge and understanding.

God has kept each of His promises to His people. We need to learn to be very confident in The Lord and His promises. We need to use this confidence in all of our undertakings–major purchases like houses, cars, or even obtaining jobs. Everything that we achieve is because of Him giving the guidance and direction in our lives–provided that we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Sometimes we have to go back and remember who we are in Jesus Christ. He is to be The Lord of our lives in everything. We need to be prayerful that our goals and aspirations are in line with His will and be prayerful about it.

1. The focus starts with God’s Word. We need to be cautious to avoid drifting away from God.

Hebrews 2:1-4
1 We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will.

God promises that he will bless you or curse you. Ultimately, as it was the choice for His chosen people that He rescued from Egypt, it is the same choice for us. Obedience to God brings blessing, while disobedience to God reaps His curses.

It is important to not get stuck in life where you are not growing in the heart of The Lord. It starts with your desire for God’s word to educate us through the Holy Spirit, and it develops us where we have a heart for God and love Him. He confirms our love for Him by keeping His promises–He sends signs and miracles for everyone to see–when we keep His Word. It will come to the point where we believe He will do what He says.

2. Drifting away can cause you to doubt Him. It comes down to circling back and remembering that God is able. There’s nothing too hard for God.

If you are not in His Word, you are operating at a distance from Him. If you are far enough away from God, you can convince yourself that you are not even saved. You don’t want to get to the place where you are doubting God at every turn.

3. Avoid dullness, or a lack of sensitivity to what is going on around you. To be dull spiritually is to fail to recognize spiritual matters that you come into contact with.

Hebrews 5:11
We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand.

Young people will often claim that the bible is “boring.” Keep in mind that this is not really the case. If you are truly listening to the Holy Spirit, He will make God’s Word jump off the pages and excite you. A real student is a pleasure to a teacher because of their desire to learn more. As you get more and more into God’s Word, your confidence will grow more and more about Him.

4. Don’t despise God’s Word. When God’s Word tells the truth about us, it is sinful to despise what He has to say.

5. Rebellion is the final step that begins with drifting and doubting the authority of His Word.

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

Do you really know the One that you believe in? To know Jesus Christ is to know that Christ can accomplish whatever can be done in accordance to His will.

Here is an example of false confidence:

Luke 12:13-20
The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 “Friend,” He said to him, “who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”

16 Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’

Our confidence in Jesus Christ is not in how much God gives to us because we think we our being obedient to Him. Our confidence develops from a richness from God in everything that we do.

Believing in God gives you the confidence to do what is right. If you do what is right, you have everything to gain.

Titus 1:15-16
15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

There must be evidence in your life that God is leading you in your life.

Matthew 7:21-27
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

A person who claims to be saved has to demonstrate his salvation in how he or she lives. A person who is doing the will of God will show it, and not just provide lip service. Satan is a great deceiver, and He draws many away from the faith. The true believer is sensitive to living according to God’s will and puts it into practice. The confidence is in living upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Matthew 13:10-11
10 Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.

The believer in Jesus Christ has the wisdom and knowledge to live in confidence for Him. He lives for the purpose to intercede for those who love Him. He will lift you up in order that you will lift Him up before others. Amen.

Hebrews 7:24-25
24 But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.


The Prince of Peace

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

In order to win friends and influence people, you need to be friendly, courteous, and good-natured.  It is much more difficult to convey friendliness when you are mean-spirited.  Your messages to others are best received when there is an underlying calm instead of those delivered with nervousness and tension.  It’s true that words used that are normally perceived as being courteous can have their meaning changed if they are spoken with forcefulness and with a negative intensity.  In order to have a positive influence on others, you need to show yourself as peaceful and approachable.  True, effective leadership rules with love and not with tyranny.

Jesus came to earth because He loved His greatest creation—mankind.  He wanted to reach them and culminate His plan of salvation and create the opportunity for everyone to have fellowship with Him for all eternity.  He would do so with His message of love and peace.

Luke 2:10-14

10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!

His plan was to bring peace to those persons that recognized Him as Lord and Savior.  This is exactly what the gospel message is all about.

Fast forward to just a week before Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion, He was traveling with His disciples to Jerusalem at the culmination of His ministry on earth.  One of His comments as He approached Jerusalem, the main city of the Israelites, reflected His love for the Jewish people, the chosen nation, and at the same time His frustration with the people because of their inability to recognize who He was to them—their Savior of peace.

Luke 19:41-42

41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

His entry into Jerusalem in what we recognize today as the celebration of Palm Sunday.  It was a day of great celebration for the people who acknowledged Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah—the Savior of their people; yet, Jesus lamented that those who saw Him yet chose to ignore Him as the Messiah were already suffering from spiritual blindness.

Isaiah had already made the same declaration about Israel in the midst of His prophecy of Jesus’ coming.

Isaiah 42:18-22

18 “Listen, you deaf!
Look, you blind, so that you may see.
19 Who is blind but My servant,
or deaf like My messenger I am sending?
Who is blind like My dedicated one,
or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 Though seeing many things, you do not obey.
Though his ears are open, he does not listen.”

21 The Lord was pleased, because of His righteousness,
to magnify His instruction and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
all of them trapped in holes
or imprisoned in dungeons.
They have become plunder
with no one to rescue them
and loot, with no one saying, “Give it back!”

Note Jesus’ words to the physically blind man who had previously spoken to the Pharisees about Jesus’ healing power, and the response of the Pharisees:

John 9:35-41

35 When Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, He found him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” he asked.

37 Jesus answered, “You have seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.”

38 “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped Him.

39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.”

40 Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and asked Him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?”

41 “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see’—your sin remains.

In spite of Israel’s continual inability to maintain a relationship with God all throughout their history and even see the true Messiah with their very eyes, Jesus still declared His love for His people.  He came to them in peace because He knew that those who would follow Him would do so with His message of peace.  He also knew that those who would not accept Him would cause division.

Luke 12:49-54

49 “I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it consumes Me until it is finished! 51 Do you think that I came here to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided: three against two, and two against three.

53 They will be divided, father against son,
son against father,
mother against daughter,
daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law,
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus came to us in peace, but the results of His ministry were anything but peaceful.  He reached many people with His message of peace beyond human understanding, and he also brought change that stirred the people towards a true worship and fellowship with God—much to the consternation of the Jewish religious leadership.

Matthew 21:1-11

1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”

This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
(Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9)

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
(Psalm 118:25-26)

10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

There are several items of note to consider with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

1.  The donkey

Jesus chose the donkey because it was a humble way to enter the city.  It was an Eastern tradition that the donkey was an animal of peace.  Most kings or noblemen used horses in the day, which symbolically represented a declaration or presence of war.  The donkey was more of a communication that Jesus came in peace with a message of peace.  He came as the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor,
 Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
 Prince of Peace.

2.  The clothing and the palm branches

In many lands in the ancient Eastern region, it was customary to cover the path of someone who was worthy of honor.  This honor was bestowed upon Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, in 2 Kings 9:13.  In Jesus’ case, there were people putting their clothing on the ground along with cut palm branches (from the Greek word phoinix).  There was an existing Jewish tradition—the Feast of Tabernacles—that involved the use of palm branches as part of the celebration (Leviticus 23:40).

In Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, the palm branch was also viewed as a symbol of victory and triumph.  In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions as a representation of eternal life.  It later became a symbol of Christian martyrdom as a symbol of spiritual victory over death.  Take a look at Revelation 7:9 for another significant use of palm branches:

Revelation 7:9

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.

Jesus entered the city with humility and the people responded to Him as royalty.  Imagine His presence with the showering of clothing and palms with the joyous shouts of the people.  What a glorious moment it must have been for the people!  It was a celebration, and He was the reason for the celebration.

3.  The use of the word “Hosanna”

Hosanna comes from the use of similar words in both Greek and Hebrew to mean “save” or “rescue” (possibly “Savior”).

Psalm 118:25

Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!

Mark 11:8-10

Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting:

Hosanna!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
10 The coming kingdom
of our father David
 is blessed!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

The people who saw Jesus were making a public declaration—with a loud shout—that He was the Messiah that brought salvation to their people.  He was the provision, and it would be less than a week from that time when Jesus was the One who would sacrifice Himself for their sin in order to them to receive eternal life.  He was the Lamb without blemish who was slain for all of us.

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.

When we look at Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week, let us remember the symbolic significance of the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the very nature of who Jesus is to each of us and how much He gave to us:

  • The One who loves His people unconditionally
  • His example of humility
  • His deity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (clothing dropped before Him)
  • The representation of eternal life (the palm branches)
  • His presence of peace that surpasses all understanding

John 14:27

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

In a few short days, the joyful celebration experienced that day would be a distant memory because of the shocking development when Jesus went to the cross.  No one, at that time, would understand why it happened or that it even had to happen the way it did, but we all know today that it had to happen in order for Him to provide salvation from our sins.  His holiness, through the sacrificial blood of Christ, covers our sins.  He saves His people.  It all started with how Jesus loved us, and He still loves us—each and every one of us.  It is a reason to celebrate Jesus Christ for everything He has done for us.  Hosanna in the highest!

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


God’s Grace and Truth Meets Us Where We Are

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

What path are you on? Who’s directions are you following?

We meet a man in Matthew 19 that is only referred to as the rich, young man. He was forced to make a choice of commitment.

Matthew 19:16-22
16 Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:

Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
19 honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.
20 “I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”

21 “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Jesus wants more than just our words of commitment…he wants commitment to Him through our actions. He wants us to truly live for Christ–a true commitment to Him. In the case of the rich man, it was his desire to keep his wealth and possessions that kept him from making a complete commitment to Him.

Grace brings to us to a place where we need to make a choice. We are to trust in Jesus or to trust in self.

Mark 10:17-22
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 19 You know the commandments:

Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
do not defraud;
honor your father and mother.”
20 He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”

21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Grace and truth comes from Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke the truth to the young man and spoke to him in grace.

John 1:17
…for the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 15:22
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin.

Titus 2:11
For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people.

God’s grace brings Jesus Christ face to face with us. He faces each one of us with His grace and truth, and extends it to us. In order for us to say “yes” to His truth, it would take His grace, for our self and our own reasoning would never do it on its own accord. Grace and truth was brought to us to deal with our sin. Sin prevents us from being faithful and obedient to God.

Even with this, we still must make the decision to acknowledge His grace and His truth.

In Mark 10:17, the young man asked the question, “What must I do to gain eternal life?” The man asked the question to answer the question about immortality, everlasting, perpetual, enduring, never-ending life. Keep in mind that he was asking about this with the knowledge that he has wealth and riches. He did not really want to give those things up; instead, he was seeking eternity with what he already possessed. He wanted eternal life to encompass his present wealth and independence.

Salvation is never granted to us on our own terms or conditions. He will only provide on His terms, and His terms alone.

Jesus pointed out initially that only one is good, as He was directing the man to focus first on God.

John 17:3
(Jesus is speaking here)–
This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.

Salvation comes from God with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. It is the will of God that this occurs.

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.

Jesus provides the terms and direction to the young man for eternal life in Mark 10:18-19. God is the One who is good. He asks the young man how he has lived, and tells him that he already knows the commandments.

When Jesus was speaking with the young man, He was challenging about how He has done everything according to man, but now He was challenging him to look at his relationship with God. He approaches us with love, but note that His love and His truth go together.
God speaks to us in truth because of his love for you.

Mark 10:21
Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

The young man lacked a relationship with God because he had great wealth that hindered his true knowledge of God. He spoke the truth to the young man because He knew all about him, and truth always challenges each of us to live according to His will.

The challenge that we have as people is to see to it that we truly do leave everything behind that can keep us from following Jesus Christ.

Note what Peter says after witnessing the discussion with the rich young man.

Mark 10:28-30
28 Peter began to tell Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”

29 “I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, 30 who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.

What is the treasure that is 100 times more that we will realize in the present age?

Note the question was asked by the disciples after Jesus tells the young man when he has to sell everything to realize treasure and how difficult it is for one to enter God’s kingdom.

Mark 10:23-26
23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 So they were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?”

Look at Jesus’ response:

Mark 10:27
Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”

It is impossible for man to save himself, but not with God. It is done through the work of the living God–through the grace of God.

The gospel message is an easy message to understand, but it is also hard for many people to hear and to live by because they don’t want to give up their present life. We have to always remember that we are saved by grace through faith because of how much God loves us.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

Jesus Christ is in our presence with the fullness of grace and truth. Salvation is from His grace and mercy, and our salvation is not on our terms. Salvation comes only from repentance of sin and recognizing Jesus as Lord and Savior in your life. He loves us and is committed to save us because of our trust in Him. God will save you if you put yourself completely into His hands and trust Him.

The treasure that you will realize in trusting Jesus Christ is not an earthly treasure. It is a heavenly treasure because of your focus on God, and even with that, giving what you have for God will bring back much more than what you may have ever had.

Job 42:10-12
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his prosperity and doubled his previous possessions. 11 All his brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house. They sympathized with him and comforted him concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him. Each one gave him a qesitah and a gold earring.

12 So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.

2 Chronicles 1:7-13
7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him: “Ask. What should I give you?”

8 And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great and faithful love to my father David, and You have made me king in his place. 9 Lord God, let Your promise to my father David now come true. For You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Now grant me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people, for who can judge this great people of Yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this was in your heart, and you have not requested riches, wealth, or glory, or for the life of those who hate you, and you have not even requested long life, but you have requested for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king, 12 wisdom and knowledge are given to you. I will also give you riches, wealth, and glory, unlike what was given to the kings who were before you, or will be given to those after you.” 13 So Solomon went to Jerusalem from the high place that was in Gibeon in front of the tent of meeting, and he reigned over Israel.

The rich young man must have assumed that God was asking Him to give up too much, which explains why he went away not wanting to part with what He had. God wants to change us and see that there is nothing greater than Him. Jesus paid everything for us to grant us salvation, but our cost to follow Him means to die to self and put everything aside for God. He doesn’t want a partial commitment, but a complete and full commitment to live for Him.

Galatians 2:19-20
19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.


The Privilege of Being God’s Testimony

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
God is seeking to do something in the lives of His people that is extraordinary. Why? He wants to you to see how He is working through you and for others to see God’s glory. God wants us to be a reflection of Jesus Christ in the world today.Through His church, God is creating stories of His testimonies, and He is doing it in such a way that it cannot be ignored. Testimonies are about what God has done, and they are well beyond what people accomplish. God manifests Himself through our witness out of obedience of His people.Two examples of God making a testimony of Himself:

Joshua 2:9-11
…9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.

What the Lord does for the person who is obedient to Him demonstrates to others His very presence. People will see it and take note of it. Through our obedience, God makes a witness of Himself.

Daniel 6:10-24
10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. 12 So they approached the king and asked about his edict: “Didn’t you sign an edict that for 30 days any man who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable.”

13 Then they replied to the king, “Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.” 14 As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him.

15 Then these men went to the king and said to him, “You as king know it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions were brought to him, and he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said, “has your God whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t hurt me, for I was found innocent before Him. Also, I have not committed a crime against you my king.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den, uninjured, for he trusted in his God. 24 The king then gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Sometimes, God will allow those who have been faithful to Him to go into a “lions’ den.” It is certainly a test, but it is ultimately our actions through this season of time that give a clear indication of God’s presence, and His testimony. Daniel’s obedience led to God’s testimony of Himself to everyone present.

Daniel 6:25-28
25 Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live in all the earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel:

For He is the living God,
and He endures forever;
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and His dominion has no end.
27 He rescues and delivers;
He performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth,
for He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

It is God who provides what is needed in our obedience to Him.

When Jesus speaks in Matthew 16:18 and states “I will build My church,” He means just that. He does just that. We are His co-laborers and have this as a privilege in the process.

1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Let’s examine the word “rock” here. Many interpret this to mean Peter as the rock. The correct interpretation is that Christ is the Rock that is referred to. A position of strength.

2 Samuel 22:32
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is a rock? Only our God.

Psalm 18:31
For who is God besides Yahweh?
And who is a rock? Only our God.

Isaiah 28:16
Therefore the Lord God said:
“Look, I have laid a stone in Zion,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
the one who believes will be unshakable.

Remember in Matthew 4 that Jesus was taken into the wilderness. He was tested and remained true. He is also the Cornerstone and the Foundation of the church.

1 Peter 2:6
For it is contained in Scripture:

Look! I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and honored cornerstone,
and the one who believes in Him
will never be put to shame!

Ephesians 2:20
…20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.

1 Corinthians 3:11
For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

By trusting in Jesus Christ, you are not under fear. You are living in confidence and will remain courageous, in spite of any difficulties that occur.

Jesus Christ is building His church; therefore, the true owner of the church is indeed Christ. God is the one who plants and build churches everywhere. He uses His people to do this, but each church comes about according to His will and purpose. When Jesus makes the statement of building His church, He was a visionary. His provision for every church is evidence of His involvement as His people remain obedient to Him.

As a people, we are a part of the church, but we don’t own it. We should remain prayerful as to knowing God’s will for His church.

Acts 20:28
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.

Jesus knew that He would have to sacrifice Himself, as well as martyrs and missionaries, for the future of the church and the ministry.

Ephesians 1:22
And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church.

Colossians 1:18
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.

The church is not the brick and mortar of s building. The real brick and mortar consists of those who are sitting in the pews of the church. The people of the church are coworkers of Jesus, and He has already done the work to provide for many to be saved–past, present and future. He changes the hearts of men to recognize that they need a Savior.

John 19:30
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

God opens the door for people to see the need for salvation.

Acts 14:27
After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Acts 2:47
…praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

The place of Hades is a stronghold that Jesus Christ promises will not prevail or overcome what He has done. Jesus Christ promises eternal life for those who believe and trust in Him.

1 Corinthians 15:55-56
55 Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.

Colossians 2:13-15
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.

Even though we have the victory in Jesus, Satan will still be ever present, but we have to trust in Him and rely upon Him in our obedience to Him. We will be tested to remain faithful to Him.

Luke 22:31
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.

2 Timothy 4:18
The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

The church is God’s testimony of Himself through His people for all to see.

Ephesians 3:10
This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.


The Preexistence of Jesus Christ

How we worship and honor God is grounded in how we see Him and perceive Him. We are drawn to Jesus Christ because of not what we know about Him on the surface, but in how God reveals Himself to us.Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.It is difficult for us to imagine that God was already present, even in the beginning, for each of us had an origin, yet Jesus was there from the very beginning, not as a created being, but as the Creator. The evidence from Scripture is that Jesus is indeed God.

Colossians 1:16
…because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Revelation 4:11
Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.

The preexistence of Jesus Christ was well before His birth in a manger and when He lived as a man on earth.

We need to start, first and foremost, with the validity of Scripture in our examination of who Jesus Christ is. We need to either agree or disagree with what the Scriptures say about Christ:

2 Peter 1:20-21
First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.

When we refer to Scripture, we need to understand its distinction from any other book of authors. The Bible is a book written to those who have a desire to understand who Christ is and have the desire to know more about Him. Those who don’t have a desire to believe in Jesus Christ will not get much out of it. In contrast, the desire to live in an upright manner and for Jesus Christ will be drawn to God’s Word and to His will for that person’s life.

God, alone, gives revelation as to who He is; otherwise, we would only be able to guess about who He is. Moreover, because God is eternal and without a creator, we also need to recognize the deity of Jesus Christ. He who is eternal has the power and ability to give eternal life to those He has created.

While Scripture reports the evidence of paradise, Jesus refers to where He came from.

John 3:13
No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven –the Son of Man.

Consider that no one has been to heaven and came down from heaven except Jesus Christ. The timing of Jesus Christ’s comment came before that of Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7. Paul was speaking about himself ascending to the third heaven, and he reveals that he was given a thorn in the flesh in order that he would not think greatly of himself because of the privilege of seeing something that was beyond the understanding of those he was called to teach. Through all of this, Paul was consistently teaching about Jesus and did not diminish the deity of Christ–his teachings exalted Jesus Christ and affirmed him. In summary, Jesus Christ used Paul in a mighty way by revealing truths to him that he shared with others in such a way that showed Christ as the Son of the Living God–namely, God Himself.

When the question was asked by Jesus “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) and “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:42)

Matthew 16:13-16

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

    14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

    15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”

    16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

Matthew 22:34-46

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

    37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

 41 While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?”

    “David’s,” they told Him.

    43 He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord ‘:

    44 The Lord declared to my Lord,

    ‘Sit at My right hand

    until I put Your enemies under Your feet ‘ ?

    45 “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be his Son” 46 No one was able to answer Him at all, and from that day no one dared to question Him any more.

It was in the answers provided that Jesus Christ reveals His deity. In the same way, his deity is also revealed in how He speaks of His preexistence.

John 6:38-42, 47-51, 58-62

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father:that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    41 Therefore the Jews started complaining about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

47 ” I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your fathers ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

    59 He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

 60 Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?”

    61 Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?

It is difficult to understand Christ’s eternal nature when our way of thinking is limited to how we see Him as a man on earth; and those who grew up with Jesus and saw Him as a carpenter’s son also had difficulty with Jesus’ comments that He came down from heaven. He was merely stating repeatedly that He was not like us, and that what He provided were words of eternal life for all of us.

Note that when we witness to others about Jesus Christ, it is a difficult teaching to understand. Our witness for Christ is merely a testimony of what Christ does for us. Ultimately, the person who receives the information has to decide whether Jesus Christ is the truth and has the authority to give one eternal life. “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who don’t believe” (John 6:63-64).