Tag Archives: freedom

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?

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Today’s Society Seeks Protection from Jesus

Today’s message summary of April 30, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We live in a society that values the right to vote for its pleasures.  Pleasures will win every time.  Society holds that the only place we are to find Jesus Christ is within the church.

In contrast with the message of Jesus Christ to “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” (Matthew 28:19) our societal focus is to prevent this from occurring.

What does our society value today?

  • Freedom of sexual expression and immorality
  • Freedom to use profanity
  • Freedom to use alcohol and drugs
  • Freedom to destroy that which is good for all

Karl Marx’s view on religion:

  • It’s irrational
  • Religion is a delusion and avoids reality
  • Religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them servile (like that of a slave or servant) and more amenable to accept the status quo

The church, and Christians, have moved to a place of acceptance of the status quo in America.  It is not really challenged even within some of our own behaviors and actions.

God’s standards and principles have never changed.  He still challenges believers with His standards of obedience and living according to His will.

Have we reached a point in which there is no room for the teaching of Jesus?

John 8:37

I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you.

Why is it that society today deems the use of the words of Jesus as being an attack?  Simply, the truth of the message of Jesus Christ has the power to set people free from bondage.  (There is virtually no opposition to any other religious practice.)

Proverbs notes that “out of the heart comes the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  Satan does not care whether or not you go to church, but he is concerned over whether or not you are focused on the Word of God.  The constant focus on God’s Word is what refines you in your practice of following Jesus Christ.  God’s Word challenges your way of thinking, and often provides guidance with correction.  You need to have the desire to seek Him for yourself.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Because of society desiring to exclude Jesus Christ, have we lost our blessing?

Psalm 33:10-12

The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh–the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

Jesus was warning Jesus to “leave this place” of Jerusalem (Luke 13:31).  He was warned by the people about Herod (who represents the government), but Jesus told them that He would continue His work.

Luke 13:32-33

He said to them, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look! I’m driving out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete My work. Yet I must travel today, tomorrow, and the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!

As the kingdom of God tries to go forth, there are those who are trying to keep it at bay.  Society has tried to put limits on the things of Christianity.  What you are to see here is the determination that is needed to keep moving the church of God forward.  We are not to give up easily, and we are not to accept what society tells us.  At some point, someone has to stand up and tells others about Jesus Christ, no matter what others may say.

It is either following human authority, or God’s authority.

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everyday there are people who want to push back against the teachings of Christ (Mark 3:6; Luke 19:47).  It is little wonder that the church is dying in America.

What are we facing today?  A downward trend in society, because we refuse to accept the truth, which comes from the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:6

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

People are in need of ministry and healing, no matter what society tries to dictate.  There will always be a need for people to experience your love and compassion, and as a result, the love of Jesus Christ.

It is the kindness of the people that draws them to the love of Jesus Christ.  We are to keep going today, tomorrow and the next day, and then watch God open the doors of the hearts of many.  It is what we must do for the glory of God.


Marriage and the Family (First in a Series)

Today’s message summary of September 11, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Marriage is not something that is an easy undertaking.  It’s tough.  It’s work.  It can wear you out.  But it also brings great joy into your life…that peace that surpasses all understanding.  It is very complex.  Marriage is something that it is constantly being worked on.

Society would like people to believe that attractiveness leads to love.  That’s not true.  Attraction is not love in itself.  Love is a development over time.  In a relationship, there will be days where love is prevalent, while in others it may be missing.  Love is a mental attitude where each day a person has to decide that you love the other person.  At times, it is the problems that come up over time that is the hindrance to love.

A relationship has substance and meaning, but it starts to fall apart when one is not seen as worthy or as valuable.

Marriage is a divine creation.  Adam and Eve were created as the first married couple, and that is what God intended for all of humanity.

God intended for two to become one, while Satan’s desire is to separate couples.  Satan is at war with married couples.  A person has to decide where the fight is coming from and, once it is recognized that Satan is the opposition to reject him.  Satan is out to defeat both the husband and the wife.  His goal is to have two bitter enemies and to also reflect all of this on the children involved.  Each of these will keep a person from recognizing Jesus Christ or the importance of Jesus Christ in life.  Satan is trying to steal that which God has given to you.

John 10:7-10

So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 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.

The battle is not between ourselves—the battle is with Satan.

If a married couple acknowledges that they are together, the credit should also go to the One who they look to.  God is trying to build the relationship, while Satan tries to tear it down.

Genesis 2:25

Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.

Being naked at that time was not associated with anything corrupted.

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?

Satan attacks us with our thoughts and perceptions, and as a result, our intellect.

Both God and Satan reveal themselves to people, but for different reasons and purposes.  His influence is bad because what he reveals causes a person to change and even become irrational.  A person winds up using his own reasoning and going to God less and less.

Satan has to be defeated by looking to God for reasoning that overcomes unspiritual strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

…since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

The shame of sin is what created the environment of the need to be covered with clothing.  Our marriage does indeed have boundaries that are established, and it is important to understand what is good and proper within the marriage relationship.  It is important to be sensitive to the person that you are married to.  It speaks to our emotional state and the ability to trust the spouse.

The days where there is a struggle within the marriage should be the days where there is patience and understanding.  Couples need to remind themselves to refer back to how God is working with both the husband and the wife each day.  This will contribute greatly to demolishing any negative thoughts or arguments.

Eve did not take every thought into captivity when interacting with the serpent (and neither did Adam). They entertained thoughts that were not of God.

Genesis 3:6-7

Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When Adam first saw Eve, there was no shame.  After their sin, they both saw each other differently and experienced a closed-off relationship.  The relationship changed from an open one to a more secretive one. (Also notice that Adam had the responsibility to warn Eve about the fruit, but failed to do so adequately, and did not intervene.  God came on the scene not at the point that Eve ate the fruit, but immediately manifested Himself when Adam ate it.  Adam failed to be the covering influence for their marriage by saying nothing.)

Numbers 30:10-12

If a woman in her husband’s house has made a vow or put herself under an obligation with an oath, and her husband hears about it, says nothing to her, and does not prohibit her, all her vows are binding, and every obligation she put herself under is binding. But if her husband cancels them on the day he hears about it, nothing that came from her lips, whether her vows or her obligation, is binding. Her husband has canceled them, and the Lord will absolve her.

In marriage, you should be able to share freely with each other.  You should be able to understand more about the other person as you gain understanding about what the person has gone through in life.  It is important to be able to know and understand one another’s places of security and insecurity.  In contrast, secretive relationships create boundaries that impede the marriage and, as a result, the development of the marriage in a positive manner.

The truth sets people free.  Lying only causes separation and mistrust.

God has created us, and not Satan.  God has given us His Word as a guide for personal development in every aspect of life. He has given us His Word for successful living in the marriage for both the husband and the wife.

Satan has not given us anything with which to build success on. What he has done is caused shame.  It is a damaging emotional and mental state.  Shame brings about discord, frustration and disappointment.

When a person begins to disconnect from another person, it is based upon some sort of disappointment.  Satan is definitely in it, and he desires to keep God out of the picture.

A person has to declare that nothing will separate me from the one that I love in marriage.

In marriage, we are to help each other. You are to consider their past experiences as they will surely be revealed.  Jesus took into consideration the person’s life experience (John 4:16-17).  He saw (and revealed) more than what the woman at the well wanted Him to see; yet, she needed to know that He was concerned about her insecurity.  Jesus already knows the hearts of everyone He encountered, and still does, but it is important for couples to share about themselves to each other.

In a marriage, you have to see more about the spouse than what is visible.

1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

The King James version uses the word “knowledge” for understanding.  It comes with studying one another.  Husbands and wives are to be thoughtful to others as you understand the life of the other person.


Your IMAGE and Forgiveness – Free Seminar Apr. 17-18, Stow OH

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For more information, please see our Spring Break 2015 page.

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

Rev. James Cleveland

Rev. James Cleveland

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Change Comes from Acknowledging Truth

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Are you ultimately in control of change in your life? The answer is no. It is not in your control at all. You will find that change happens whether you are ready for it or not.

You will not experience change by laws or by observing rules. Change comes about only by truth. The issue is whether or not one will accept truth. If you are not changing, who is keeping you from it? Are you improving? Are you better off? This is where truth comes in. Truth can bring about real change.

Why do people change? Change is undertaken when one wants to adapt to something different.

Why don’t people change? They do not see a need to do so. The conflict here is to recognize where change is needed.

What does it take to change? It requires looking at truth and the facts about your life.

When God claims “all have sinned,” it requires a person to either agree with the statement or just deny them. This requires being truthful to self.

Did you know that 80% of all fitness equipment is sold between December 15th and January 1st? Someone decided that he would make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and get fit; however, the equipment may wind up sitting idle after March of the next year.

There are 10 million procedures of cosmetic surgery each year.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to change.

Change is a lot of hard work. We need help from others. We must have the help and power of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Since you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, what has changed most in your life? What has not changed in your life that should have changed? What is keeping you from changing more in your life? Are you ready for change?

Are you willing to accept the changes that God wants to make in your life?

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

 

Isaiah 45:9

“Woe to the one who argues with his Maker—

one clay pot among many.

Does clay say to the one forming it,

‘What are you making?’

Or does your work say,

‘He has no hands’?

 

God will speak to each one of us about what needs to change. Obedience to God and His Word is the key to effective change.

Isaiah 64:8

Yet Lord, You are our Father;

we are the clay, and You are our potter;

we all are the work of Your hands.

 

God is our Heavenly Father. We are the true works of His hands by His grace.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

Psalm 119:99

I have more insight than all my teachers

because Your decrees are my meditation.

 

What is insight? It is the ability to see and understand clearly the inner nature of things. God will give you clear insight if you remain obedient to Him and stay in His Word.

What are decrees? They are statutes; a testimony that establishes a fact, affirmation or declaration. Decrees are unmovable. It establishes God’s testimony, and it will not change for you or for me.

John 8:32

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

If you acknowledge truth, it will bring you out of difficult situations and circumstances. Failure to acknowledge truth will keep you where you are, and often that’s not a great place. Satan will keep a person in their sin to a point where he is “just trying to survive.” God wants you to do more than just survive. He wants you to exchange lies for the truth and be set free under His Word. When the truth is before you, which way will you choose to go?

Romans 1:25

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

10 and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false.

 

A believer must choose to emulate Jesus Christ or to allow the flesh to prevail. Satan will attempt to deceive a person to cause you to deny God and the truth. If Satan is allowed to prevail, it will separate a person from a healthy relationship with God. The unbeliever who refuses to acknowledge God’s truth will eventually be given over to one’s own desires, for God will never tolerate sin.

John 8:44

You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

 

Satan knew what truth was, but refused to acknowledge it. Change is all about accepting the truth.

Don’t make any excuses about not being able to change. If God reveals it you can do something about it. God is more than able and gracious. You need to believe it and hold onto it.

God must establish the change in one’s life. Knowing truth brings about this change. Truth is a reality that should no longer be denied or worked around. Running away from truth doesn’t change what it represents. Recognition of the need for change begins with being honest to yourself about needing it. God will graciously help you when you are ready to accept it and begin to follow His direction.

Ephesians 6:14

Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,

righteousness like armor on your chest.

 

Romans 3:4

Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written:

That You may be justified in Your words

and triumph when You judge.

 

Paul had to be changed from being a self-righteous Pharisee to be conformed to a person who would serve Christ in a mighty way:

Romans 7:18, 24

18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.

 

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?

 

Paul would never had said these words as a Pharisee unless God was dealing with Him personally. He had to humble himself and allow for God to work in his life. He knew the truth about himself and knew that he needed to change.

Change has to be substance–it has to be real, and you need to have the ability to endure it. Satan will challenge every change you want to make in your life.

John 10:10

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.

 

Ephesians 1:3, 14

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.

 

14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

 

Ephesians 5:6-10

6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.


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