Tag Archives: focus

Following God’s Standards: Your Guts for His Glory!

A message dated July 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

Many people regard the following passage of Scripture as an important belief, and they probably don’t even know it has biblical application:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

How are they following this Scripture as a tenet?  Well, there is an ongoing emphasis of health and wellness today, and many people exercise on a regular basis and watch what—and how much—they eat for every meal each day.  There are virtually no arguments against following a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle.  Both promote a life of greater energy and endurance.  In order to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to make a firm commitment to do this in order to make it work.  This commitment for good health is setting a standard that is worth keeping.  Good health comes from following this healthy standard.

In order to recognize or acknowledge achievement, you need to a basic set of standards.  From those standards, you have a baseline for performance and expectations, and you can set personal goals to measure your progress.

We are often judged on our performance in many areas of our life.  It certainly has application as to how we perform as Christians—as believers and followers of Jesus Christ.  Our standards are already in place.  The Bible sets the standard, and there are expectations when it comes to the implementation of God’s Word throughout your life.

We must have standards.  Problems for us in life occur when we fail to recognize standards and baselines.  Failing to acknowledge these issues as a believer in Jesus Christ is tragic.  To know who Jesus Christ is and fail to make an effort to live for Jesus Christ is indeed an ongoing tragedy.  Scripture implores believers to stay after it, stay the course, fight the good fight, and I’ll add the words, “don’t give up” and “never give up.” To give up is to give in to Satan’s treachery.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This attitude is a selflessness that means that you will not give in to the flesh or fear the fiery arrows of Satan’s attacks (Psalm 76:3; Ephesians 6:16). Being a believer means trusting in the One who overcomes this opposition.  The shield of faith stops the fiery arrows of the devil.

We can’t give up.

We cannot compromise on God’s standard.

God’s standard requires reverence for who He is.

As we learn more about who He is, we recognize that we must live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

As it is stated in 2 Timothy 4:7, we must KEEP THE FAITH.

For those who don’t know Jesus Christ, failure to acknowledge Him as Lord is nothing short of catastrophic.  It requires a baseline that means you need a Savior, you need forgiveness, and that you desire freedom.

John 8:34b-36 CSB

Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

Once you become a believer, you now have a new set of standards.  You have transformed yourself from being dead in Christ to being alive in Christ.  A new set of standards sets up your progression in Christ and for Christ—but you have to accept and follow those standards.

Without standards, baselines, or whatever you want to call them, there will be no progress…no measurement…no achievement…no success.

Jesus Christ tells us that He is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30), and He refers to Himself in this way because being a Christian today can be very, very difficult.  His standards are clear for us, but the flesh makes our efforts to follow them much more difficult.  In our own efforts, His standards and baselines for achievement are virtually impossible, and that’s because it is not our effort that garners blessings from God nearly as much as it is our faith in Him.  Our desire to live according to his standards requires faith.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith, there cannot be a standard with which we can achieve, grow and excel, because it is not your own achievements, success or accolades that come from serving God—it is because He enables you to be successful!  Your success is His success!

He is glorified when we stand in the gap before Him (Ezekiel 22:30).

He is glorified when we reach out to those who are less fortunate (Deuteronomy 15:11)!

He is glorified when we maintain a lifestyle that honors Him!

He is glorified when we abstain from sex before marriage!

He is glorified when we take a stand for Him!

Jesus Christ wants to see your success as you remain faithful to Him.  He provides the standards, and He helps you with setting your goals and expectations.

Why do we need goals and expectations as believers?  Because we need to find ways to measure our progress.  Progress with what?  Being an effective disciple for Jesus Christ?  Is that a good measurement?  It certainly is.

After Jesus Christ spent time with His disciples, He turned them loose on the world and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  This was after months of training, counseling and personal reflection.  This training established His standard for living.

When it comes to your personal study and preparation, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ means everything in your success.  He enables you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be successful in your efforts to live according to His standards.  Your success means that Jesus Christ will be glorified.

As a reminder—our success does not mean perfection.  Our success is defined by being able to run the race and keeping the faith.  Note that the disciples, and everyone before them and after them, had failures.  Failures happen within the midst of our efforts to strive for success.  Our failures do not define us.  Our success is what people see when we fight the good fight and keep the faith!  Our failures move us to prayer and seeking after Him for forgiveness and mercy.  Our desire for success, and meeting His standards for living, drive us to move forward.

This may come across as something like a motivational speech…and it does…but there is one important difference between this and any other motivational speech.  Most speeches put the focus on yourself and yourself alone in trying to rise above adversity and achieving at a high level.  This message centers on your success BECAUSE of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and that your success means that He will be glorified, and not yourself.

Your living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus Christ, and working in the body of Christ with FOCUS will make a difference in a world that is constantly searching for meaning.

Jesus Christ will be glorified.  It has happened in the past, and it happens today and every day, and it will happen in the future.  It is happening because someone is living according to the standards that He has put forth in His Word.  Someone is standing in the gap.  Someone is reaching out to those less fortunate.  Someone is making the commitment, in spite of opposition or temptation or ridicule, to live a lifestyle that honors Jesus Christ.

Will that someone be you?

Will you be the one that stands in the gap and upholds His standards?

Your study, your prayers, and your reverence for Jesus Christ reflect your commitment to Him.

It takes guts to live for Jesus Christ.

Your guts for His glory.

If you don’t think you have given as much as you can to uphold God’s standards, won’t you make that commitment today?


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