Tag Archives: focus

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.


Team FOCUS: Serving in the Body of Christ

Today’s message of March 5, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

I was planning my monthly meeting the other day at my job with my team of collectors and assistants, and I stumbled on something to use within the meeting that I thought was quite meaningful.

To give a quick review, I now have a team of ten people, eight collectors and two admins, that report to me.  Part of my responsibility is to rally the troops and encourage them to work well as individuals, and also to work as a team for a common goal.  This is important because each of us are evaluated every year with team performance goals, and they have a significant impact as to our overall departmental productivity.

I came up with a way to define our collections group with a name, and I called it “Team FOCUS,” with the word “focus” featured in all capital letters.  If you know anything about company meetings, some of the people in the meeting are sincerely looking at you and listening, and some are looking down at the table, and some may even be doodling on their legal pad; nevertheless, the phrase “Team FOCUS” seemed to be well received.  I reminded everyone that, as a team member, each person is to focus on what tasks need to be done and to assist the other team members in order to achieve their goals for the year.

As I was planning this out, it occurred to me that there is application for this same type of focus within the church, and on an even grander scale, the body of Christ.  As Jesus calls upon His people to reflect His IMAGE in a Christlike manner, we are also to support each other and live amongst one another in peace, and often that means working well together as a team for a common goal.  In this effort, the most important goal is that Jesus Christ is glorified.

In other words, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to be humble before Him and live in obedience, and also be humble in the effort of working with other people within the body of Christ.

Oh, if it was all that simple to do.

The reality is that some of us just don’t play well with others.  Many of you certainly remember growing up with a group of friends that you enjoyed hanging out with, while there were others you tried to avoid because they either made fun of you or just didn’t like you.  That may be kids stuff, but adults seem to have refined this approach to become a special talent.

Look, we all have our favorites…our favorite people to hang around. But Christ calls us to do more than just hang out with our favorite people.  We are challenged to do more…go further.  It is another way that He sanctifies us within our relationship with Him.  The one who seeks Jesus Christ will find himself stretched and molded into someone that he never thought could happen, and that it would be a great thing!  God wants to bring you to a place where you are willing to do even more for Him as you step out in faith.

Note that this discussion is about working well within the body of Christ. Let’s be honest. If you can’t play well with others within the body, how in the world will you ever be the best you can be in discipling others in the body and in reaching people for Jesus Christ who are not saved?

And isn’t that exactly what this thing about discipleship is all about?  You can’t pick and choose your favorite people for this stuff.  If Christ sends someone into your path, are you willing to walk the path with that person, or will you back down and take another road?  Some will trust in Christ’s direction, while others will move in a different direction.  I challenge you to consider that following God’s direction is a much more meaningful path to take.

In order to be successful in Christ, you need to resist your own desires in the flesh and be humble, teachable and trainable in His ways.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Jesus Christ is looking for the ones who are willing to remain faithful and obedient to Him, and He responds, in kind, with the guidance that you will need to maintain the focus that we are to have in our service for Him.

Proverbs 3:1-6 HCSB

My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

for they will bring you

many days, a full life, and well-being.

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

In order to execute effectively this team FOCUS, we need to bring our own talents to the table.  God gives each of us a measure of talents and abilities that are available to support and edify each other within the body of Jesus Christ.  Each of us, in addition to these talents, brings a very unique trait…your own personality!  Of the ten different people who report to me at work, I believe I have seven or eight different personalities within the group!  Most of them work very hard…some harder than others, but ultimately at acceptable levels, and each person injects his or her personality into what they bring to the workplace.  God created you to be who you are, of course, and to share who you are within the body of Christ with your own uniqueness!

These individual traits make up your FOCUS within the team effort:

The “F” stands for fair-mindedness.

If you look up fair-minded in the American Heritage Dictionary, it is defined as “just and impartial; not prejudiced.” Your approach is to always project honesty and impartiality in everything that you take on.  When it comes to working with a group or a team, this can be easier said than done.  It can be easy to play favorites, be judgmental, or pick people to work with or witness to that seem friendly.  Christ calls for his people to have integrity and not only work with those who may not stand out as appealing, but also reach out to those who may even respond with hostility.  The key is to be responsive to the Holy Spirit in our movement throughout the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Colossians 3:23-24 HCSB

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

The “O” stands for organization.

While organization is often a guideline for business professionals, it is helpful for believers to carry out their service for Jesus Christ, both as individuals and within a group, in a formal, deliberate manner.  I’m all for spontaneity and being ready to move when the Spirit tells you to move, but having a plan for your life and striving to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ requires having a daily schedule of bible reading and prayer.  The events of life will require some degree of flexibility, and plans will most definitely change, but your Christlike life of planning and organization provides you with a baseline and guideline for effective ministry.

Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

In order for you to experience success in the Lord, you will also need to live for Christ in the body with consistency.

The “C” stands for consistency.

Your life in Jesus Christ every day will have its opportunities.  There will be victories, and you will also experience setbacks.  There will be praises to God from His blessings along with prayers to Him for mercy and comfort.  A consistent life in Christ, in His service, is a persistent life of faith, forgiveness, repentance and reverence.  In your consistent approach of looking to Jesus, the Holy Spirit provides wisdom, knowledge and understanding as He sanctifies you with His presence.  You will experience greater successes when you stay the course and remain consistently faithful in Jesus Christ.  Your desire to live for Christ will be acknowledged with blessings and testimonies that will glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The “U” stands for unity…being unified in your efforts.

Work within the body of Christ is the epitome of effective teamwork, especially when the members give a testimony that gives God the glory.  It is not about just the efforts of the individual.  It is about your service for the team, the group, the church.  It is for the testimony of God at work within you and the group.  Jesus is the reason why you do what you are doing.

Philippians 2:1-4 HCSB

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

The “S” stands for skilled.

You bring your skills that you have acquired over a lifetime, even perhaps as an expert in whatever field you are in, and they lend to a very good end-product with your contributions.  Your God-given talents and gifts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are provided for you to be successful in your ministry of Jesus Christ.  God wants people to serve Him in wisdom and knowledge with His talents and gifts to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ.

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

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

if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Of course, this is far from an all inclusive list of gifts.  There are many examples of people in the Bible who have different professions or trades, and God will use all of these things to accomplish His glory and His purpose.  He wants you to use your skills in ministry in order to reach people for Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Your FOCUS today is to be a better team member in service for Jesus Christ.  It begins with your desire to do more in Jesus Christ and to be open to many exciting opportunities as you work within the body of Christ to reach the lost.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Be Filled (Part 3): A Spirit-Filled Mind

A message summary of June 26, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Corinthians 2:10-16

Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people, But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from Gods Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For

 who has known the Lords mind,

that he may instruct Him?

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:17

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelizenot with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.

The Corinthian church depended upon their own knowledge and wisdom to answer life’s questions, but it turned out to be knowledge that only puffed them up, and it had nothing to do with Christ, the gospel or the church. Paul argued against this worldly wisdom, and it is hoped that you will have a greater understanding of life that is fueled by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and that you would be Spirit-filled.

1 Corinthians 2:10

Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

The truth of the gospel is significant in that it is only by Jesus Christ that we are justified by faith, and made righteous and sanctified in Jesus Christ.

These are the things that are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. To the world, the gospel is counted as foolishness.

It is only foolish for those who have not had the truth of the gospel revealed to them.

Anyone who reads the Bible reads the very words of God. He is the one who saves through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has the exact attributes of God, the Father and God, the Son.

God knows all about us. In turn, the Holy Spirit knows everything about us. He is omniscient (all-knowing).

Psalm 69:5

God, You know my foolishness,

and my guilty acts are not hidden from You.

Psalm 90:8

You have set our unjust ways before You,

our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

“Now who can have such a thorough knowledge of God but God?”

–Matthew Henry

I urge you to not reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life. The Spirit knows all about you, but the most important thing that He desires to have a relationship with you.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

The only person who can reveal the thoughts of God is the Spirit of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

When one compares the natural man with the spiritual man, there are two different natures. It does not mean that the natural man is not smart, but it does mean, according to Paul, that the natural man has no inclination of who God is, while the spiritual man does know and lives his life accordingly.

Paul is trying to encourage the Corinthian church to have like-mindedness with God. They were to turn from human wisdom and draw upon godly wisdom.

Paul used the word “wisdom” several times within the text. The word “wisdom” is translated as sophia. The Greek word means knowledge, and it is a form of the word sophistication.

The Corinthian church was trying to continue in human wisdom–its own philosophy.

Jeremiah 8:9

The wise men will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and snared. They have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom do they really have?

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.

Are you allowing yourself to be filled by social media or the media or commercialism, or are you being filled by the Spirit?

The Spirit must prevail in your life if you are to have true fellowship with God in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Is your mind filled with different philosophies that instruct you, or is the Spirit prevailing in your heart and mind?

Read God’s Word each day and meditate upon it. Whatever you put into your mind, that is what will come out of you.

The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast from the wisdom of man. It cannot be understood without the input of the Holy Spirit.

Are you being filled? Is Jesus Christ sanctifying you?

A Spirit-filled mind has an eternal focus on Jesus Christ and living for Him. He is waiting for you to make that commitment of obedience and proclaim the good news to others.


Starting the New Year with Jesus Christ

Today’s message summary of December 31, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We have bright hopes for tomorrow because of Jesus Christ.

There a many blessings that await you in the New Year. Tomorrow can be a very bright future for you.  Even with this, we are to remember that God is the One who provides these blessings and a bright future.

Remember who the One is who redeems you–who purchased you with His precious blood:

Isaiah 43:1

Now this is what the Lord says–the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel–“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

 

There is nothing to fear about the coming year. Wake up in the morning and say, “Thank you, Lord. Let’s do something special in 2015.”

Isaiah 43:2

I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.

 

What God is saying to you here is that no matter what you’re going through, God will be right there with you in the New Year. It doesn’t matter how bad it may be. We are not always promised good days. There will be tough times; nevertheless, you have the presence of the living God with you–as long as you rely upon Him.

How confident are you about God’s presence? When you believe that God is with you, it gives you the ability to step into things that you normally would not do.

He is not just a Savior, but He is the Lord your God who is to be glorified. He wants you to live in such a way where you acknowledge His presence and reflect your life in Christ to others. You and other people will say, when they see the testimonies through your life, that only God can do these things!

Isaiah 43:7

“…everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.”

 

You will indeed glorify God when you live for Him. He created you for His glory and His purpose.

Isaiah 43:10

“You are My witnesses”–this is the Lord’s declaration–“and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. No god was formed before Me, and there will be none after Me.

 

Make a commitment in 2015 to focus on being a better witness for Him. God knows all of your troubles and your concerns. He knows about everything taking place, but He says that you don’t need to worry about those things. He just wants you to be a witness for Him.

We should never lose the thought of who we are and what we can do. When we truly grasp this, we will never be ashamed to be a witness for Christ. Make a commitment to be strong in the Lord and in your faith in the New Year. Strive to be greater in proclaiming the gospel to others. Be proud to be chosen by God to be who you are. The Lord is the One who will make the way for you to be successful in the New Year (Isaiah 43:16-17).

Isaiah 43:18

“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old.”

 

Don’t get stuck in past events that will keep you from being a testimony for Jesus in the New Year. Get rid of all of the anger and strife that you’re holding onto. Get rid of the old baggage and throw it away. Look at 2015 as God doing a new thing for you in your life.

Isaiah 43:19

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

 

Something new is happening every day and God is accompanying you. Just open your eyes and see what He is doing for you. (If you don’t look for it, you won’t recognize His presence and see the blessings.) Seek Him in all things. There is so much for each of us to do and to grow and learn as we are doing it.

Philippians 3:12-15

Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way.

 

We can’t remain focused on Jesus Christ and move forward if we are always looking behind us (the past). You can’t do anything about it now. Forgiveness helps us to move forward. Forget what is behind you. Tomorrow is a new day–a New Year. Press on and focus with all of your effort on serving Jesus Christ in the New Year.


The Fruits of the Spirit – Joy

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

In ministry, it is important to remain focused on Jesus Christ. We should be cautious when we lean on our own wisdom instead of continuing to seek God’s wisdom. We should avoid leaning on our own strength, which can also lead to failure. It is best to depend on the wisdom of God. Another hindrance in ministry is failure to lean on the Holy Spirit.

 

Deuteronomy 4:12

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice.

Are you able to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit?

True joy can’t be artificially induced. Joy comes from being in the presence of God. While there may be a fair amount of pain experienced in ministry, the real joy is in seeing God at work in the ministry.

 

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.

It’s the presence of God that brings joy.

 

Leviticus 9:23-24

23 Moses and Aaron then entered the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell facedown on the ground.

 

1 Chronicles 29:20-22

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So the whole assembly praised the Lord God of their ancestors. They bowed down and paid homage to the Lord and the king.

21 The following day they offered sacrifices to the Lord and burnt offerings to the Lord: 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, along with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 They ate and drank with great joy in the Lord’s presence that day.

Then, for a second time, they made David’s son Solomon king; they anointed him as the Lord’s ruler, and Zadok as the priest.

 

Luke 1:44

For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!

 

Acts 2:28

You have revealed the paths of life to me;

You will fill me with gladness

in Your presence.

 

Psalm 16:11

You reveal the path of life to me;

in Your presence is abundant joy;

in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

 

Joy is not in the ministry itself, but in the discovery of the work of God in the midst of the ministry.

 

Our joy is in the work of The Lord through us by the Holy Spirit.

 

Psalm 92:4-6

4 For You have made me rejoice, Lord,

by what You have done;

I will shout for joy

because of the works of Your hands.

5 How magnificent are Your works, Lord,

how profound Your thoughts!

6 A stupid person does not know,

a fool does not understand this.

 

It is what The Lord does that makes one glad.

samach (saw-makh) – to brighten up, cheer up

make glad, joyful, to rejoice

 

God wants us to know His presence. Even with the problems of life, you will experience joy in His presence!

 

Psalm 118:13-17

13 You pushed me hard to make me fall,

but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;

He has become my salvation.

15 There are shouts of joy and victory

in the tents of the righteous:

“The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!

16 The Lord’s right hand is raised.

The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!”

17 I will not die, but I will live

and proclaim what the Lord has done.

 

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

 

The joy of The Lord is your strength.

 

Luke 10:17

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

 

John 15:9-11

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

 

Obedience in God’s Word brings joy.

Jesus wants us to have His joy.

 

John 17:11-19

11 I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

12 While I was with them,

I was protecting them by Your name

that You have given Me.

I guarded them and not one of them is lost,

except the son of destruction,

so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.

13 Now I am coming to You,

and I speak these things in the world

so that they may have My joy completed in them.

14 I have given them Your word.

The world hated them

because they are not of the world,

as I am not of the world.

15 I am not praying

that You take them out of the world

but that You protect them from the evil one.

16 They are not of the world,

as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them by the truth;

Your word is truth.

18 As You sent Me into the world,

I also have sent them into the world.

19 I sanctify Myself for them,

so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

 

Acts 13:48-52

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women, who worshiped God, and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

 

Matthew 10:13-14

13 and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town.

 

Romans 14:17

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6

and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.

 

This joy is in spite of severe suffering.

 

Hebrews 12:2

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

God indeed focuses on our real need and allows us to look past our problems in order to experience His joy within His presence.

 

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!


Courageous in Christ

Today’s message summary from Melvin Gaines:

[Last week we discussed the plight of what it means to be a myopic (or nearsighted) believer, and what it takes to overcome it. While we discussed the downside traits of a myopic believer–hidden fruits, complaining and unappreciative, we presented a remedy to grow strong in your faith as a believer. We discussed how important it is to build and develop your IMAGE in order to become more faithful and confident as a believer in Jesus Christ.]

Developing your IMAGE starts with God’s Word:

Investigate God’s Word

Meditate on His Word

Apply His Word

Grow in Jesus Christ

Endure the hardships that will certainly come

 

2 Corinthians 2:14

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Believers in Jesus Christ are reminded by Scripture to be confident in their faith, but often, this is easier said than done. Perhaps you have experienced difficulties or setbacks in your faith because of life’s circumstances. These are completely normal and understandable. You can be a believer in Jesus Christ and experience different degrees of hardship. In these experiences, there is a lack of confidence in your circumstances.

Where does this lack of confidence come from?

  • First, it begins with a loss of focus on Jesus Christ
  • Next, it continues with doubt–something is not right, and now you’re not sure about the outcome of the situation
  • Finally, the loss of focus and the doubt is stirred up with a potion of fear.

A loss of focus is a huge distraction in your walk of faith.

Doubt is the opposite of faith.

Fear creeps in when faith is absent.

In order to get back to a place where faith can be placed at the forefront, you need to overcome the greatest obstacle that perpetuates doubt, and that is fear.

Fear comes from the available information, or a lack of information, which leads to a perception or anticipation of a negative outcome.

There are many different ways that fear become manifest in the life of a believer. Here is a top ten list that encapsulates how fear can overshadow a person’s life:

10. Losing your freedom

09. The unknown

08. Pain

07. Disappointment

06. Misery

05. Loneliness

04. Ridicule

03. Rejection

02. Death

01. Failure

Fear is a real emotion, but it is debilitating to your faith.

The result of fear, in your doubt and lack of focus, is a believer who is outside of the place where God wants you to be. It’s a place that is unsettling at best, and dreadful at worst.

Fear is not a switch that one can turn on and turn off. In our flesh, there is no such thing as an absence of fear. Fear is like a wound that needs ointment and a bandage in order to promote healing.

In order to overcome fear, which allows us to combat doubt and regain focus on Jesus Christ, there is a remedy. Fear must be suppressed with a reliance on God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fear must be met with courage.

Courage is the essence of a believer that drives the necessary change to promote growth of your IMAGE in Jesus Christ and the ability, in spite of any life difficulty or circumstance, to proclaim the good news for the Great Commission.

God reminds you of the importance of being courageous. It takes your mind off of the things that you are fearful of. He gives us many reminders and words of encouragement throughout Scripture.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

6 Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

Fear is anxiety and can be driven by impatience. God wants you to be patient.

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

 

God wants you to experience rest and comfort as you rely upon the Spirit to overcome fear.

John 16:33

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

 

Fear is the absence of trust. God reminds us to trust in Him. Leave the results of your anxiety at His feet.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?

 

There’s no need to go it alone. There’s strength and courage in numbers. Stay in a fellowship.

Philippians 1:27-28

27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God.

 

Trusting God in your fear leads to confidence that there will be a good result…but even more than this…that God will be glorified.

Daniel 3:15-18

15 Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18 But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

What amazing courage! But make no mistake about it…your courage is far from your own strength. God provides the ability for you to overcome fear and be strong in Him.

Philippians 4:11-13

11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

 

Proverbs 3:25-26

25 Don’t fear sudden danger

or the ruin of the wicked when it comes,

26 for the Lord will be your confidence

and will keep your foot from a snare.

 

Isaiah 41:8-10

8 But you, Israel, My servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

descendant of Abraham, My friend—

9 I brought you from the ends of the earth

and called you from its farthest corners.

I said to you: You are My servant;

I have chosen you and not rejected you.

10 Do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you; I will help you;

I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

 

God offers Himself to you for comfort, healing, preservation and love, which overcomes all fear. He is your confidence. He is our confidence that we will succeed in any difficult situation or circumstance.

His love overcomes fear.

1 John 4:17-19

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Wayward Child

As an adult with children, I always wanted the best for each of them as they grew up, and I often imagined how life would be for them once they became adults.  All loving parents want to see our children succeed in their education, and once they get older, their careers and even finding the perfect spouse.  Each of these are significant life milestones, and in all of them, it is our hope that our children look to the Lord in all of their life choices and decisions.  That is easily the most gratifying result that we want to see from our children…living a life that is holy and pleasing to God.

Proverbs 22:6

Teach a youth about the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Unfortunately, the challenge that parents of a Christian household often face with their children is far from what they envisioned when they raised them with the instruction of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.  At one point, it appeared that a son or daughter was obedient and responsive to the instruction, but one day, something must have happened where the tide had turned.  The turn occurs because our children possess the very same thing that we possess…free will.  They have the ability to make choices, both good and bad ones, in the same way we do.   We remember how we came up over the years and the choices that we made, and we don’t want our children to make the same mistakes.  Our prayers have been, and will continue to be, that our children’s good choices will far outweigh the bad ones, and that the bad ones will not be as costly to them.  The proverb of teaching the child is true…the child doesn’t forget what they have learned.  It is not just your desire, but also God’s desire for the child to remember what was learned, to understand it, and to make the decision to completely live for Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

What a blessing it is when our child, who is obedient to the Lord, grows with this same philosophy as an adult!  When our child veers into a different direction–one that is contrary to living a Christlike existence, we are deeply affected because it leaves the parents with feelings of helplessness, and even regrets that perhaps something could have been done differently that would somehow have made the child behave differently.  The reality is that a child raised in a Christlike household may or may not follow that same teaching as an adult, and parents will beat themselves up with regret and blame that doesn’t change the behavior.  This message is about those children who keep parents up at night.  In moments like this, it is very important to remember God’s love and grace, and look at ways to manage our interaction with the wayward child.

First, before you interact with your child, you need to examine your own behavior.  You cannot effectively minister to other people, let alone your child, unless you are paying very close attention to your level of obedience to Jesus Christ.  You need to go through a self-examination of your life and your attitude.  This allows you to truly listen to what the Spirit is saying to you and be aware of the leanings of the Spirit.  It starts with the most important commandments as noted by Jesus Christ:

Matthew 22:34-40

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

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.

39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In order to love your wayward child (and you do love the child even though there are times when you are disappointed or angered by his or her behavior), you need to draw upon the basic principles of your faith in Jesus Christ–loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  Both of these commands of Jesus Christ have a profound effect upon your life and the consistency of your behavior.  Others, who observe your behavior, and especially your child will see your love for God.  What is the one thing that you do that can have an adverse effect on your child and how he or she responds to you?  It’s your inconsistent behavior.  As a prime example, you can’t address the sin of another person without addressing your own sin.

Matthew 7:1-5

1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Let’s look at the context of this verse when coupled with the second great commandment that Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:39 (Love your neighbor as yourself) with where He draws it from in Leviticus 19:

Leviticus 19:9-18

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.

11 “You must not steal. You must not act deceptively or lie to one another. 12 You must not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God; I am Yahweh.

13 “You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. 14 You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am Yahweh.

15 “You must not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You must not go about spreading slander among your people; you must not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

This part of the message is very important when it comes to the nature of developing a loving and consistent interpersonal relationship with your child.  God’s love is always to be the foundation of your interaction with anyone, let alone your child.  You must remove any hint of hatred or animosity in your dealings with your wayward child, for it is when they see your love and concern it paves the way for your ability to minister to them in the truth of God’s Word when the Spirit provides the opportunity to do so.  Your sin and transgressions that God commanded the people of Israel not to do in Leviticus 19 can block your ministry to the child and show you as less credible in their eyes.

Hebrews 10:22

…let us draw near (to Jesus Christ) with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Another important point to consider here in this relationship is to take the focus off of yourself, which essentially means you need to give yourself a break.  What does this mean?

1.  Acknowledge that you did the best you could as a parent.  You weren’t perfect, but you presented the gospel message to your child, and they heard what was necessary for them to effectively discern right from wrong.  There’s no good energy spent in regret over the past or what might have been.

2.  Acknowledge that you can’t control their behavior.  The choices the child makes are on the child alone, and not you.

When you decide that you did everything you could as a parent and that you can’t do anything about your child’s behavior, it comes down to taking the humble approach and doing the most important thing that you can do for your child…prayer.  Your communication to God is the natural response when God communicates with you through His Word and through His Spirit.  Your prayers make a difficult situation bearable and put your faith and trust in God in action.  He hears your prayers in the midst of your affliction and provides, first and foremost, peace to your soul and rest for your body.

Psalm 31:7-8

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love

because You have seen my affliction.

You have known the troubles of my life

8 and have not handed me over to the enemy.

You have set my feet in a spacious place.

Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Youths may faint and grow weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

31 but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary;

they will walk and not faint.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

This endeavor is not a sprint…it is a marathon.  Your in it for the long haul because you want the best for your child, and you don’t know or when God is going to reach your child to change the behaviors and, eventually, the outcome.  This will always be part of God’s mysterious ways that He draws people near to Himself, but always remember that He loves your child more than you ever could, and He wants the very best for all of us.

Jeremiah 29:10-11

10 For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

I deliberately included verse 10 here to show that even as God has plans for our hope in the future, we need to remember that our time and God’s timing can be much different.  In our prayers, we can certainly pray for change, but we must respect God’s timing in everything, including how He acts as a change agent for our wayward child.

An important aspect of your ministry to your wayward child is how you interact with your child.  No matter how you feel about what he or she is doing, you are to always show yourself to be open for the child to come home or to have social time.  You don’t condone their sin, and you establish ground rules as to behavior if the child is there for a period of time, but they should always see the love of Christ in you when they look at you.  Love the child in the midst of your disappointment.  This is admittedly tough to do, but with God’s help, you can do it, and you can shine for Christ while doing it.  You are to regard your child in the same way God sees you (1 Samuel 16:7b“Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”).

Understandably, your ongoing prayers for help and guidance in maintaining the proper attitude will go a long way in this area.  Pray for the right words and the boldness to remain steadfast in righteousness.

Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways please the Lord,

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

In the same way that you are looking for the right words to say, keep your communication open with your child.  Send emails and texts to keep in touch when you can (texts are brief, while emails will have more substance).  Take an interest in the things that interest them (as long as they are not contrary to living for Christ).  Have lunch or dinner with them, and keep the conversation as light as possible.  All of this is to build upon your relationship.  Even though this is your child, it is still an adult-adult communication that is taking place.  Keep your focus on the love of Christ throughout your communication, and keep the lines open, free and clear.

All of this effort is to keep the focus on the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

John 10:7-10

7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

In order for you to keep the door open for the child to enter the door for Christ, you have to provide the path for the child to pursue Him at the appointed time.  We have the blessed assurance that Jesus Christ will welcome your wayward child at a moment’s notice.  That day will indeed be a day of praise and thanksgiving.  Keep your child before the Lord and bathe the matter in prayer, but remember to seek Him with righteousness in everything that you do, and God will hear your appeals.

Psalm 34:17-18

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;

He saves those crushed in spirit.

Proverbs 15:29-30

29 The Lord is far from the wicked,

but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 Bright eyes cheer the heart;

good news strengthens the bones.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines