Tag Archives: flesh

Seeing What Jesus Wants You to See

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

The world we live in tries to captivate you as to what it wants you to see.  The movies, the news, the rallies all want to convey something for you to see.  With all of this, recognize that Jesus wants you to see Him through it all.

God will guard your heart in order for you to see what He knows that you are to see.  We are easily distracted by the matters of life, and as a result, the main purpose of focusing on Jesus Christ.  Focusing on Him and giving the matters of your life to Him will show you that He is there to take care of all of those things.

We can be easily distracted.  One of Jesus’ disciples was that way.  When Jesus was arrested, the other disciples reacted to what was happening by fleeing, as well.

What you are to see in all of this is that Jesus taught them that there will be distractions:

Matthew 16:21 (NIV)

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

God brings you along one step at a time to allow for progression, but He does not allow you to know more than what is necessary.  With his disciples, He held back information until it was time for them to know and understand what would happen.  He relayed to them that He would remain present with them.

In another statement, Jesus told the disciples a little more about what would happen:

Matthew 17:22-23 (NIV)

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

He once again reminds them that he will die but will be raised–come forth from the grave.

Matthew 20:17-19 NIV

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!

Here was a little more information, but note the emphasis in all statements that “he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 26:21 (NIV)

And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Now the word of betrayal comes back to where the disciples were.  Note that we betray Him when we don’t follow Him or teach our children the Word.  It happens more that we would care to admit.

Jesus was questioned around the table, “Surely not I, Lord? (Matthew 26:22)”

He never publicly states who will betray him (never uses the name Judas).  He knows who he is, but the others do not know.

John 13:18-19

I’m not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: The one who eats My bread has raised his heel against Me. I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I assure you: Whoever receives anyone I send receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

Only by the grace of God are you able to overcome the flesh, and all temptation, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable–who can understand it?  I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.

In time, God will always show you what you have need of.  Don’t rush Him or have Him share something that you’re not ready for or even equipped to hear.  He knows how much you can bear and He protects your heart.

Advertisements

The “It” Factor

A message text for Sunday, July 31, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

I have been actively involved in ministry now for over twenty-five years.  This is just a personal observation, but in that time, I have seen the actions and behaviors of many who profess to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.  I witnessed people who serve with dedication and with the desire to truly see people come to Christ.

You have to get your hands a little dirty to see the first fruits of the power of the Holy Spirit working according to God’s will, which is for every person to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ:

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

God desires for everyone He created to be saved.  Not everyone will experience His salvation, but that does not change His will.  You are to live an abundant life for Jesus Christ to help people see the love of Christ, and have the desire to recognize the need for salvation in Christ.

I’ve seen many hardworking people that have found a way to tap into their talents and skills to serve Jesus Christ.  They are on the front lines with their words and actions declaring the gospel message.  They are concerned about the people who do not know Jesus Christ.  They are making themselves available to seek the lost.

Yet, there are many, many more people that I have observed who profess belief in Jesus Christ but are absent from many church activities, such as neighborhood outreach, visitations, or even the customary church gatherings (except for those when free food is being served!).  They may have even seen those that are working in the trenches for Christ, but they are not compelled to get involved.  It has nothing to do with how busy a person’s life is, for even the busiest people still have the desire to jump in somewhere—wherever they are—and work for the Kingdom from time to time.

While it would be wrong to question the motivation of these people, or even give consideration to the authenticity of their faith, it is my conclusion that these people, who can readily watch others working for the gospel, just don’t get it.

They just don’t get it.  They just don’t get “It.”

What is the “It” that they don’t get?

For this discussion, “It” refers to a believer’s progression within their relationship with Jesus Christ—a progression where service is not seen as a duty or as an act of drudgery.  It is when a believer equates service with the love for other people as a reflection of Jesus Christ.  This progression is something that not every believer will attain, or even realize is possible.  It requires a devotion to Jesus Christ that must continue throughout the life of a believer.

When you become a believer, it is done with the immediate acknowledgment of the need for Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior.  It is done with humility, repentance and with the sincere desire for a new life trajectory.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Your new life in Christ now begins, and in the same way a child grows into adolescence, your relationship with Jesus Christ consists of a series of growth spurts.  It is now an ongoing training and life experience progression where you develop a heart of flesh—a sincere concern—for the fate of the lost.  Only Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, can orchestrate such a change.

Why do we need more believers who really “get it”?  It is because of the millions of people throughout the world that are lost.  There are many who are lost because they do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, and the tragedy of this is that many don’t even know that they are lost.  They are in spiritual darkness because of sinful behavior and willful disobedience.  Ravi Zacharias noted in his podcast, The Lostness of Men, “the worst effect of sin is the enslaved spirit” (Zacharias, 2008).  Sinful behavior gives the sinner the illusion that he is free to do whatever he pleases; in fact, he is merely a slave of sin.  When it comes to the heart of the unbeliever, it is a heart of stone that prefers conforming to the world instead of seeking Jesus Christ.  Because of this, Zacharias noted that “man is condemned eternally without Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10) as “sin is not just an act—it is an attitude” (Zacharias, 2008). The failure of the lost to acknowledge Christ as Savior results in dire consequences.  There is eternal condemnation and separation without Christ (Zacharias, 2008).

People who are lost need to see the love of Christ as often as possible.  More believers need to see the importance of this.  All of the world’s confusion and unrest today reflects the importance of believers possessing the “It” Factor as being more important than ever before.

The “It” Factor is what needs to be present in the life of a believer in order to effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is the One who enables this progression to participate in Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

A. B. Simpson refers to this progression as sanctification (Simpson, 1890). Sanctification is the growth of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ that promotes behavioral and relational change in the life of a believer. Jesus is the source of our sanctification (Simpson, 1890). It begins with the desire of a believer to separate from sin.  Simpson noted “the sanctified Christian is separated from sin, from an evil world, even from his own self, and from anything that would be a separating cause between him and Christ in the new life” (Simpson, p. 14, 1890).

Along with separation from sin, there must be a dedication to God and a conformity to the likeness and will of God (Simpson, 1890), which are the critical growth spurts that every believer is to experience as one yields to the Holy Spirit.  Simpson noted, “A sanctified Christian is submissive and obedient. He desires the Divine will above everything else in life as kinder and wiser for him than anything else can be. He is conscious that he misses something if he misses it. He knows it will promote his highest good far more than his own will, crying instinctively, ‘Thy will be done'” (Simpson, p. 14-15, 1890).

It is this progression within sanctification that reflects God’s love to everyone that the believer comes into contact with, especially those who are lost.  It is God’s love, and His desire to fellowship with believers, that turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh—a greater propensity for humility and obedience in a consistent practice of godliness before others:

Ezekiel 36:25-28 HCSB

I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.  Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.

In order for people without Christ to be compelled to leave their lost state of being, they need to see the love of God as often as possible.  This is the “It” factor.

It is not a given that a believer grasps this sanctification—the “It” Factor.  Simpson noted, “Many people make a mistake about some of these steps. Some of them are clinging to a little of their old goodness and therefore meet with failures. Others stumble at the second step.  They do not see that Jesus is their complete Sanctifier.  And many cannot take the third step and make a complete surrender of everything to Him.  Multitudes fail even when they have taken these steps in not being able to believe that Jesus receives them” (Simpson, p. 17, 1890).  The flesh, reminders of the past life, or confusion from life’s distractions, can keep a person from making progress.  Satan and his followers desire to wreck the relationship of a believer in Jesus Christ, and only reliance upon God’s strength through the Holy Spirit can overcome them:

Ephesians 6:10-13 HCSB

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  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.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

The believer who is still trying to “get it” must see the urgency and importance in the progressive development in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In order to develop that heart of flesh, he must be willing to—and strive to—learn more about Jesus Christ.  He must do the following:

  1. Investigate the Bible. Read the bible daily, and not just read it, but dig deeply into its meaning.    Knowing Jesus means knowing His Word as much as possible.  A believer should not only make a plan to read, but also use study references and commentaries to provoke and compel thought to create a greater understanding of who Jesus Christ is.  A habit of daily Scripture reading is a process of growing to appreciate God’s way of communicating, instructing and teaching a believer.
  1. Meditate on His Word. For a fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ, a believer must communicate with God through active prayer and meditation (Psalm 1:1-3).  The practice of meditation is a way to close any gaps of communication between the Holy Spirit and the believer, and to promote greater instruction and knowledge of the character of Christ.
  1. Act on His Word through obedience. The Spirit compels the person who is faithful to Jesus Christ to go and reflect the love of Christ to everyone the person interacts with each and every day.  A believer who is closely following Jesus Christ impacts the world around him with the presence of Christ in everyday life!
  1. Grow each day in sanctification. The Holy Spirit enables the believer with the capability to progress over time to learn more about Jesus and resist those things that can hamper his relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:18).
  1. Endure each day through any hardship or difficulty as you glorify God. It is through endurance that one develops the character of Christ (Romans 5:3-5).

James 1:2-4 HCSB

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Perhaps you picked up on the fact that the five points of progression and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ make up the acronym IMAGE.  It is fitting that you live out this IMAGE in Christ, for it is His desire for you, as His creation in His image (Genesis 1:26-27):

  • To live a life for Him that becomes more fulfilling and fruitful as you are sanctified in His presence.
  • He desires for you to experience the fulfillment of the love of Christ and share it with others through your powerful words and your actions!
  • This results in a mutual effort, with you and the power of the Holy Spirit, to show the love of Christ to anyone and everyone that you come into contact with!
  • It is the culmination of your obedience to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

The strong believer in Jesus Christ truly gets “It.” He is willing to live openly for Jesus Christ and is compelled to reach the lost because Jesus wants the very same thing—to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  A believer who is still learning about what it means to live a life of totality for Jesus Christ will soon get “It” as long as he seeks the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart.

There is a great need for people to join Christ in the Great Commission to seek and reach the lost.  There is a lot at stake, and it is for all eternity:

Matthew 9:35-38 HCSB

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

If you don’t get it, and you don’t get “It,” I pray that you do, and that you do it very soon.  The body of Christ needs your help to reach the lost.

 

References

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Zacharias, R. (2008, June 22). The Lostness of Man [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/let-my-people-think/listen/

Simpson, A. (1890). The Fourfold Gospel. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications.

 

Developing your IMAGE:

 

Investigate God’s Word

Meditate on His Word

Act and apply His Word

Grow in Jesus Christ

Endure the hardships that will certainly come

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Be Filled (Part 2: Sanctification)

Today’s message summary of May 29, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

The day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12) is a day that should be celebrated! It was the day that the Holy Spirit poured out over all of the people and made His presence known. Not long afterward, Peter came forth and proclaimed that this was to happen, and that it was time for people to acknowledge the presence of the Lord and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

What does it mean to be filled by the Holy Spirit, and what is it to be sanctified by the Spirit?

We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work that it is begun in regeneration and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

                                                                                                                         –New Hampshire Baptist Convention

Sanctification is a progressive difficulty of holiness, it is a difficulty that requires submission to the Holy Spirit, so that he can purge the sin out of our lives by which he shall conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.

                                                                                                                         –Travis C. Jackson

If the Spirit is not sanctifying you, then something else is.

The human nature is sinful. All of us are encapsulated by our physical form–our bodies. Sin is the result of our bodies dictating how we live. It leads to death.

Romans 8:13 ESV

For if you live according to the flesh you will die.

For those who are not in the body of Christ, the death is not just physical, but also spiritual. Living in the flesh leads to this spiritual death outside of Christ. The flesh desires to live in sin–with our eyes, with the tongue, and in boasting of worldliness.

James 1:14-15

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The more that you allow sin in your lives, the more that it will but dents in your souls. Sin is nothing to play around with.

Solomon, one of the greatest and wisest of all time, was still a fool. Don’t take this the wrong way, but in a lot of ways we are a lot like Judas because of our sin and fleshly behavior.

You must acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior in order to avoid this spiritual death. You must be born again.

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh.

If there is an ongoing internal struggle between the Spirit and the flesh, then it requires a call for the presence of the Spirit to help you grow in sanctification.

We always value, in the flesh, what we feel is more important than God.

Romans 7:17-20

So now it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

This message is about sanctification. We are reliant upon the Holy Spirit to grow in Christ. We are unable to do anything according to our own power and strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.

No one can ever boast of defeating sin on his own accord.

John 6:63

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

The Spirit must be at the forefront of your thought life and process of thinking.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

You have to judge for yourselves by which accord you are living.

Are you living for the flesh, or for the Spirit?

Ephesians 6:17-18a

…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

The Spirit must lead in every waking moment of your life. It will allow for your ongoing sanctification in Jesus Christ with his constant presence.

The Spirit desires for each of us to be sanctified by the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

When you think of holiness, think of God’s perfect attributes. Since He commands us to “be holy,” our response is to behave in such a way where our actions are indeed matching His character. If you desire to be Spirit-led, then be holy.

Greek words: “Filled”

Pimplemi

to fill

example, if an individual is drunk with wine the consumption of the wine controls the person’s emotion (Ephesians 5:18)

Empi(m)plemi

to take one’s fill of, glut one’s desire for, satisfy, satiate (John 6:13)

Pleroo

to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full with emotion

Galatians 5:22-23

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

To be filled with the Spirit requires your living and broadcasting these attributes. These are God’s own attributes.

Be sanctified in the Holy Spirit.

Be prayerful to do these things and defeat the flesh. Seek the things of the Spirit with His godly attributes and live for Jesus Christ.

Be filled.


Your Spiritual Journey

Today’s message summary of December 13, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

In recent months, I have come up with a phrase to describe my life today: “Every day is an adventure.”

Every day has its challenges. Some of them are expected, while some are new and require flexibility. If you had plans that day, they can and will change at a moment’s notice.  There’s no reason to get ahead of yourself beyond those moments, because each one requires your full attention.

Matthew 6:34 HCSB

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Every day may indeed be an adventure, but each day, one after another, week after week, month after month and year after year—is a journey.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, your relationship with Jesus Christ makes your journey a spiritual journey.

I would like to provide you with an overview of my own spiritual journey with the hope that it will help you to look at where you are in your life journey with Jesus Christ. What I desire for you to see is how this journey, over time, is not so much better because life gets easier—it won’t get easier—but it will get better because your life in Christ will get richer with your personal growth in wisdom and knowledge because of the Spirit’s involvement in everything you do.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more that you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.”

In examination of my spiritual journey, Roosevelt was absolutely on-target. I had to learn more about who I was as a person in order to come to the realization that I needed to choose Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. From there, I recognized the necessity to make a series of progressions over time to bring me to this point of my journey.

My past as a non-believer was not filled with church experiences; in fact, I seldom went to church. I was only exposed to church on random Easter Sundays, and ironically, those visits involved hearing my grandfather, Rev. Ernest W. Stevens, Sr., preach as a guest speaker at Lee Road Baptist Church or some other church on the east side of Cleveland. I was never involved with church at Christmas time. My parents, at that time, were not believers in Jesus Christ, and there was one King James Version bible in the house that collected dust on a side table.

When I graduated from high school, my first job was work at my uncles’ florist shop in East Cleveland. Of the two uncles, Tyrone was a believer who spoke about the need to accept Christ, and Larry talked about the Lord but was not really following Him. Over the summer, I worked at the shop seven days a week, and I was exposed to a new, entirely different lifestyle. I delivered floral arrangements and took orders over the phone and in-person. A significant experience was dealing with families who had just lost a loved one and orders for bereavement flowers. I also became introspective about the delivery of flowers to funeral homes, where I had to place the flowers on and around the casket of the person. These events are fresh in my mind. In witnessing the aftermath of the death of others, including those of infants who had died prematurely, it made me think more about life and what I had to look forward to.

I listened to the testimonies of my saved uncle and a fellow employee, a young woman named Renee. She mentioned to me that her life was different at that time because of her relationship with the Lord. She used to listen to gospel music and would even sing a few lyrics out loud. She was, and is today, an amazing singer. She also witnessed to my uncle Larry about the Lord. I knew deep down that he liked Renee for her appearance, but she was always a true professional. I respected her approach to life very much, and was a little envious of her contentment. I was anything but content. I was still living at home and I had already bombed out of college. My parents were fighting on a regular basis and were headed for a divorce. Work at the flower shop did not pay a lot, and I had to learn more about money management because I had purchased a new car that I could barely afford.

My past was telling me that my life, at that time, was on the road to nowhere, and it was fast approaching.

I had taken other jobs in order to try to determine what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I circled back to working at the flower shop. In 1986, as the flower shop days were ending, I was invited to a church on the west side of Cleveland—Second Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Roland H. Crowder was the pastor that delivered about two or three Sunday messages where I had decided that enough was enough. I knew that I didn’t have any solutions on my own for where my life was going, but I knew that I needed Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. That June, I went forward and I got baptized two weeks later before some of my friends that I had invited to church. I was 26 years old, and I was baptized with a group of 8 and 9 year olds. Imagine the sight of that!

With a new beginning in Jesus Christ comes a new template of how to live. I knew that Christ was present, but I was still learning about the presence of the Holy Spirit and what all of it really meant to me. I knew where I was, but I could now see that there was more to life than my own personal experiences. God had to teach me that life is more about serving Him than my own needs or desires.

A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, writes about his own moral dilemma in his book, My Own Story, where at age 14, he willfully disobeyed his parents in spite of his own desire to pursue ministry for the sake of fulfilling his own desires. Simpson does not go into detail about what those things were except that they were things that people who aspire for ministry should not do. When his parents found out about it, his mother went off on him!

“It was the day of judgment for me…my mother wringing her hands and pouring out the vials of her wrath while I sat confounded and crushed. …That tragedy settled the question of the ministry. Soon after I…decided to give up these side issues and prepare myself…to be a minister of the Gospel.”

Everyone has a history to reckon with. At the moment that a person comes to Jesus Christ, that history is part of who the person is, but those periods of history become a part of one’s learning experience. A. B. Simpson learned about what it means to be fully devoted to a life with Jesus Christ. Thankfully, from the moment of our conversion to Jesus Christ, the transformation of our hearts and minds begins:

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I made a lot of mistakes, and I still do. My history before I became a believer in Christ consisted of looking to the world for answers to questions and problems. Following the world meant living a sinful lifestyle. After all is said and done, I took very bad advice. I am grateful that God has been merciful to me and has allowed me to learn from my mistakes with minimal consequences.

Lamentations 3:22-23 HCSB

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,

for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

Even though sin is part of our fleshly nature, we learn over time that our Holy Spirit gives us the ability to resist the temptations that lead to sinful behavior. We have power in the Spirit to live a life that honors Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Early in my new life as a believer, God was gradually revealing to me what my talents and gifts were to use in my new faith. I liked art and English as a youth, and while I wasn’t a big reader, I did like to write. I also grew in my verbal communication skills with my career in Collections and as a supervisor. At my first church, I was a greeter, and then soon after that I was selected to teach Sunday school to the teens. My first class subject was the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. God knew that the best way to study His Word was to make me a teacher! It was humbling and yet it launched me to where I am today as an adult Sunday school teacher. I would not be able to do any of these things without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 HCSB

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.

My growth as a believer continued as I developed my communication skills. I was able to finish my undergraduate degree in Business and Organizational Communication at the University of Akron (Go Zips!) in 2002, and it was not long after that when Pastor Gus gave me opportunities to speak from the pulpit. The first couple of times out were a little rough, but I managed to make progress and learn about the preparation and delivery process over time. I learned that while speaking from the pulpit is quite an honor, I was reminded that it is a privilege and that my approach should always be one with prayerful humility.

James 4:6 HCSB

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.

A. B. Simpson was humble in his service. He was willing to sacrifice his time, and even his own personal stature for the sake of reaching people for Christ. His missionaries, educators and staff were all committed to their areas of service because he set the tone for the ministry. He prayed fervently and provided vision, determination and commitment to everything that he was involved in. His example is what I strive to demonstrate to those that I serve in my church and in my workplace. The desire is to honor Jesus Christ, and not myself.

Colossians 3:16-17 HCSB

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In the midst of all of this, my flesh provides constant reminders of my history before Christ. I know that God’s power through the Holy Spirit is ever-present, but the allure of the things that support the flesh make things like “giving up” or “taking a break from Jesus” more appealing. This is where history can no longer determine the appropriate steps for me. I need to treat history for what it is, and remember that as I repent from my sinful past, God no longer remembers those sins. I am also thankful that Jesus took care of all of my sins once and for all.

Hebrews 10:16-18 HCSB

This is the covenant I will make with them

after those days, says the Lord:

I will put My laws on their hearts

and write them on their minds,

He adds:

I will never again remember

their sins and their lawless acts.

Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

It’s been just under thirty years for me as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have grown in my faith and my ability to serve, but it was not until recently where I was very confident that I was in the place that God would have me to be. My next steps involve looking into serving as a chaplain or pursuing ordination with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’m sincerely open to what God has in store for me, and I readily acknowledge that, even after I obtain my Master’s degree, I still have a lot to learn as I exercise my faith.

Philippians 2:12-13 HCSB

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

As a Sunday school teacher, it is prudent for me to continue to practice what I teach—ongoing reading and meditation of the Scriptures and living a life of fullness in Christ wherever I may be.

Your spiritual journey in Jesus Christ, from today forward, continues.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Isaac and Ishmael: Where the Conflict Began

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

As we continue this study on the End Times, we need to be able to see that God is exactly who He says He is…the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 22:13).

God has a plan, for sure, but note that Satan is allowed to act within God’s plan. He is more of a reactionary, and it is his desire to wreck God’s plan for your life. He cannot thwart God’s plan or avert it. God will accomplish what He says He will do.

In the End Times, the Word reveals that all nations will be against Israel.

Note that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. It really began to take off after September 11, 2001. Have you ever considered that, at some time, Islam may be such a prominent teaching in America; yet look and see at the number of different teachings that we have here today. Even for those who call themselves Christians, there are those where the evidence of their Christianity cannot be seen in how they live their lives. Those that are saved are truly His, and God has affirmed that there will always be a remnant of His people.

Look at the signs of the times today, for they are very serious.

Mohammed, around 622, declared that the Jews were the enemies of Allah, when he had demanded that the temples were to be closed to worship Allah. Today, we see how the Jews and Islam are enemies today. There is either a submission to the Lord, or to Allah. As Christians, we submit to Jesus Christ.

Luke 18:8

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

 

Romans 10:17

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

 

Everywhere you look today, the name of Jesus Christ is trying to stifle the name of Jesus and His message. If you remove the name of Jesus, what happens to faith?

If you are really seeking God, He will reveal Himself.

Hosea 4:6

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.

 

2 Corinthians 2:11

I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.

 

Matthew 16:3

And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times.

 

Sometimes we get so busy living that we miss what is taking place around us, and Satan is very subtle.

Has anyone seen the significance of Russia’s recently signed pact with Iran? Do you see the significance of this alliance in preparation for the number of nations who are aligning against Israel? Refer to Ezekiel 38 to see this prophesy.

The son of Hagar and the son of Sarah are the two covenants that God is using to set the stage for the final resolution of the struggles between the children of Ishmael and Isaac.

We need to remember, however, that Isaac is the recipient of God’s promise through Abraham, while Ishmael was in the flesh; yet God promised that he would have numerous descendants.

Both Jews and Arabs are descendants of Abraham. God noted in Genesis that Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants would live in conflict.

There are many people all over the world, including those who are followers within Islam, but we need to remember that just being good is not enough to have fellowship with God. This applies to people who profess to be Christians, as well.

The name Ishmael means “God hears.”

Genesis 21:17

God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy from the place where he is.

 

The lesson in Genesis 21 about God’s love for Abraham and His respect for Abraham’s love for Isaac and Ishmael is the same as how God loves each and every one of us; yet, there is a difference–a distinction–between those people that He loves who have His promise and those who are in the flesh.

The name Isaac means “laughter.”

Genesis 17:17

Abraham fell facedown. Then he laughed and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?

 

Genesis 18:12

So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?”

 

When God promises something, is it too hard for God to accomplish it? God can, and will, provide.

Note that Abraham and Sarah, in their own plan to have a child, did not originally believe God’s promise and contrived their own plan to have a child through Hagar, Sarah’s slave. Their plan was not of the Spirit–in was in the flesh. God allowed it to happen, and because Abraham was deemed righteous before God, He responded to Abraham’s love for Ishmael and noted that he would have many descendants.

Genesis 16:9-12

Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.” The Angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”

 

Then the Angel of the Lord said to her: You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.

2 Peter 2:5

…and if He didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly.

 

2 Peter 3:3-4

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

 

Matthew 24:38-39

For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be.

 

Genesis 18:14

Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.”

 

God is the Orchestrator of the End Times. It is the work of God that we are spiritual beings–born again. It is through a belief in Jesus Christ that this work is being accomplished.

John 3:18

Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

 

Romans 9:7-8

Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants. On the contrary, your offspring will be traced through Isaac. That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring.

 

Galatians 4:22-30

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and the other by a free woman. But the one by the slave was born according to the impulse of the flesh, while the one by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things are illustrations, for the women represent the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery–this is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, childless woman, who does not give birth. Burst into song and shout, you who are not in labor, for the children of the desolate are many, more numerous times than those of the woman who has a husband. Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as then the child born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so also now. But what does the Scripture say? Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave will never be a coheir with the son of the free woman.

 

Note the descendants of Ishmael:

Genesis 25:17-18

This is the length of Ishmael’s life: 137 years. He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people. And they settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt as you go toward Asshur. He lived in opposition to all his brothers.

 

What are the times showing us today? Are we aware of the signs and what is happening?

There are two covenants in place with Isaac and Ishmael. God, in His sovereignty, promises to His people that they are truly saved and are not appointed to wrath.

Israel is comprised of approximately 8,000 square miles and has a population of about 6 million people. The nations that make up Islam make up approximately 8.8 million square miles with a population of 804,500,000 people. Can you see how God will need to intervene? Perhaps that is why the Scripture notes that God would have to intervene to prevent all from perishing.

Psalm 83:3-8

They devise clever schemes against Your people; they conspire against Your treasured ones. They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation so that Israel’s name will no longer be remembered.” For they have conspired with one mind; they form an alliance against You–the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them; they lend support to the sons of Lot.

 

As we step into this further, should we not conclude that Satan is gathering people together to fight against Christ and those who will ultimately stand for Christ?


The Fruits of The Spirit – Self-Control

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Galatians 5:22-23

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.

 

Self-control is the measure of keeping one to remain focused on following Jesus Christ. It is an area that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. A lack of self control comes from being controlled by the flesh. Fleshly control is an opening to demonic influence. The Holy Spirit is present to allow for self control but a person must yield to the Spirit in order to maintain self control.

In Galatians 5, it is noted that the law is present because of sin, but it is the fruits of The Spirit that are beyond the law because you are acting in self control under God’s presence.

Self-control helps to capture all of our emotions. It is the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.

Paul witnesses to Felix:

Acts 24:24-25

24 After some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I find time I’ll call for you.”

 

Felix is being addressed because he is in desperate need of exhibiting self-control. He has been through three marriages. He needed to hear from Paul about:

1. Faith in Christ

2. Righteousness

3. Self-control

4. Judgment to come

 

Paul is in control.

Matthew 10:19-20

19 But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, 20 because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

 

You may feel you have a right to take action against a person for their mistreatment of you.

1 Samuel 24:4-6

4 so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “I swear before the Lord: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed. I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”

 

1 Samuel 26:7-10

7 That night, David and Abishai came to the troops, and Saul was lying there asleep in the inner circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. Abner and the troops were lying around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t have to strike him twice!” 

9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?” 10 David added, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.

 

Self-control is a quality for anyone in leadership.

Titus 1:8

…but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled.

 

Titus 2:2

Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.

 

1 Timothy 3:2

An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher.

 

1 Corinthians 9:25

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.

 

Having knowledge of God’s Word helps to build us up in self-control. Training under God’s Word requires it, and it will teach you how to rely more and more on the presence of God in your life to rely upon Him in maintaining self-control.

The value of self-control is perseverance (patience).

 

2 Peter 1:6

…knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness.

 

Self-control can bring you respect (honor). It teaches how to avoid strife.

Proverbs 20:3

It is honorable for a man to resolve a dispute,

but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.

 

Self-control (calmness) brings rest. It provides the ability to work things out.

Ecclesiastes 10:4

If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place,

for calmness puts great offenses to rest.

 

Without self-control, you can only display the flesh at its worst and all of its foolishness.

Proverbs 14:29

A patient person shows great understanding,

but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

 

2 Timothy 3:3

…unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good.

 

You are being evaluated by others in your words, actions and behaviors to see if you really are who you claim to be–a Christian. The Christian is expected to have self-control. Living a life of carnality will show only a lack of control.

God wants you to be able to have the joy of the presence of the Holy Spirit by operating in self-control. When the characteristics of the fruits of The Spirit are manifested before others, the very presence of God and His power can be experienced by others as you remain faithful to Him.


The Fruits of the Spirit – Love

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

 

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith.

 

The fruit of The Spirit is the character or attitude displayed in ministry within your life.

Romans 12:4-8

4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

use it according to the standard of one’s faith;

7 if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

8 if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

These gifts are referred to as administrative gifts. The body of Christ has different functions (v. 4) and there are different gifts within the body (v. 6).

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

8 to one is given a message of wisdom

through the Spirit,

to another, a message of knowledge

by the same Spirit,

9 to another, faith by the same Spirit,

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

10 to another, the performing of miracles,

to another, prophecy,

to another, distinguishing between spirits,

to another, different kinds of languages,

to another, interpretation of languages.

11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

 

These gifts are for the common good (v. 7). All of these are works of the same Spirit. He gives them to each person as He determines.

The gifts that are made visible in their evidence and functionality. The attitude in which these gifts are presented will not be of the flesh, for the Spirit and the flesh are incompatible.

A note of caution: Satan and his demons can duplicate the very things that we see here. There are some things that must be evident with these gifts, however, that Satan cannot duplicate…love is the key element. Satan cannot copy agape love. Agape love comes only from God, and it is evident in your best interest when He is involved.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

1 If I speak human or angelic languages

but do not have love,

I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy

and understand all mysteries

and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith

so that I can move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,

and if I give my body in order to boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

5 does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends.

But as for prophecies,

they will come to an end;

as for languages, they will cease;

as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

 

The Spirit gives these gifts, but love must be the foundation of the manifestation of these gifts.

Love must be about the other person. Genuine love never fails and will touch the hearts of the people. (Note that love is the first fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.)

1 John 4:8 – God is love

Romans 5:8 – God demonstrated His love

How do you demonstrate your godly love to people. You do it without ego trips, pride, vain glory, self need, rewards, or showing off your knowledge.

Real love brings people you minister to along side of you–not behind you.

Romans 12:9

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.

1. A love that gives of self. John 3:16-17

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.

 

2. A love that covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.

 

3. A love that deals with our sin. Psalm 103:11-12; Micah 7:18-19

Psalm 103:11-12

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is His faithful love

toward those who fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed

our transgressions from us.

 

God wants us to have this very attitude when we minister to others…not seeing the sin, but seeing the person who needs to be ministered to.

Micah 7:18-19

18 Who is a God like You,

removing iniquity and passing over rebellion

for the remnant of His inheritance?

He does not hold on to His anger forever,

because He delights in faithful love.

19 He will again have compassion on us;

He will vanquish our iniquities.

You will cast all our sins

into the depths of the sea.

 

4. A love that doesn’t remember my sin. Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12

Isaiah 43:25

“It is I who sweep away your transgressions

for My own sake

and remember your sins no more.

Jeremiah 31:34

No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

Hebrews 8:12

For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,

and I will never again remember their sins.

 

5. We are called to love our enemies. Matthew 5:43

Matthew 5:43

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

 

6. We are called to love each other. John 13:35

John 13:35

“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

God wants you to have the type of love that people who are your enemies will see the difference of Christ in your life. You have to love them in order to minister to them. Love conquers all things.

If we are to use the gifts that the Spirit gives to us in the proper manner, they must all begin with agape love. It can only come from God Himself through the Holy Spirit. We can extend grace to others because we have received grace from Him. Amen.