Tag Archives: glorify God

Ready, Willing and Able

Today’s message summary of January 24, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

There was a time in the past when someone, perhaps an adult, asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. When I was asked this question as an early teenager, I used to answer that I wanted to be an architect or an engineer. I came to that conclusion because I loved watching television in the 70s. Among my favorite shows were The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, Phyllis, The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, where Mike Brady, the dad and husband of the bunch, was an architect. Beyond that, I didn’t have any idea what it would take to be an architect or what it meant to be an engineer. I was rather impressionable at that time in my life, and it just seemed to be the cool thing to do.

I went go through the effort of buying a drafting board, a T-square, pencils and rulers to pursue drafting, but I wound up getting more involved in freehand drawing and lettering. From there, I moved to graphics and later changed to drawing, but I ultimately did not pursue a career in art. In fact, I had considered becoming a lawyer until one of my professors in college, who taught Political Science, made a comment that lawyers will be marching single file over a cliff because there will be too many of them to effectively make a living. Talk about a downer!

You can see how random my career path turned out to be; in fact, I stumbled into the collection business because I transitioned out of retail and sales. I’ve been involved in collections, customer service and supervision now for over thirty years, and it was far from my original choice of a career path.

Perhaps, unlike me, you were able to pursue your most desired career path. Many of us derive our self-worth with what we do for a living. Some of us are still trying to get to that dream job or reach the pinnacle of a career path towards success. Even if you are still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, there is something very, very important that you can do, no matter what your career is. The most important thing that you can do is to serve Jesus Christ right where you are.

When you are serving Christ, your career job or your career path becomes less important, and your relationship with Christ becomes more important, because you trust that He has you where you need to be at that very moment.

Now, let’s take this a step further. Assuming that you are serving Christ, and living as He would have you to live, are you ready, willing and able to think about moving outside of the box? Are you sensitive to God’s call to reach others for the gospel outside of your workplace? Are you open to God’s call to go further than you ever thought you could go?

Please consider the following call that God gives to every believer in Jesus Christ, whether you have a career or not:

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The authority that Jesus received from His father gave Him the right to tell His followers to go out and reach others with the good news of Christ. He wants them to tell all about what we know of Him and His Word in order that those who hear the message could also tell others about Christ. In order to do this, His followers would have to leave their homes and even their immediate surroundings to carry out this command:

Acts 1:8 ESV

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Jesus was not limiting His call to your street or your neighborhood, your office or your company, or even within the state or country. He literally meant “the end of the earth,” which is “all nations.” For believers, this should not be considered as “out of the box” thinking. It is what He expects of His followers.

So, what now? Jesus is calling for His followers to go to other nations. The gospel is to be proclaimed wherever there are people all over the world. It must be proclaimed because there are millions of people in our generation who were just like you at one time in your life…unsaved and lost. There are millions everywhere who are “lost in a system of religion that binds people into submission; lost in the discord of deities and idols; lost in a belief that we are alone in this world, that human enlightenment is the path to truth, and that our own works will determine whether we get to go to heaven or not” (cmalliance.org).

There are many who are without hope, just as you were at one time. There are many who have not realized God’s eternal grace. In order to have empathy for the lost, you should quietly reflect upon where you once were without Christ, and where you are now with Him. Jesus Christ desires for all to come to a saving knowledge of Him (1 Timothy 2:3-4), but if you don’t share this desire, then you are not ready to go anywhere. You have more to learn about Jesus, and you have more to learn about yourself.

Jesus calls His people into ministry and to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). In order to fulfill this task, Jesus wants us to be ready, willing and able. He gives us the Holy Spirit to provide us with power and energy, but we still need to do our part.

I.  Get ready. To be ready means to get ready. This readiness is all about personal development in Christ. A healthy relationship with Jesus Christ can only be developed and improved with the discipline of preparation, the desire to be obedient and the implementation of His character each day.

The discipline of preparation is reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis. As the Word means more and more to you each day, you find yourself desiring to please God more and more by following His teaching, and by living under His instruction as you pray for knowledge and meditate on His wisdom:

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night .

II.  Be willing. Willingness is a component of obedience to Jesus and His call for you. If He is calling you to go forth, you must be willing to listen and embrace what He wants you to do, reminding you that He is asking you to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit, for remember that He tells you that He will be with you no matter where you are (Matthew 28:20):

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

To be willing is to be flexible. It means that following Jesus is more important than creature comforts or familiar settings. It means living a life of personal sacrifice, and it requires a humble heart in order for you to carry out the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) before others. It means being a friend to others. It means loving other people—even those who are much different than you—where you will reflect the love of Christ:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Your desire to serve Jesus Christ in love will produce much fruit:

  • Jesus wants you to be willing to obey Him in all things (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
  • Jesus wants you to be willing to show yourself to others as a sincere human being who follows Him (Colossians 3:22; Titus 2:7).
  • He wants you to be willing to live and act in such a way that people can see His love, grace and mercy (1 John 4:7-8; Romans 6:14; Luke 6:36).

Of all of these things, Jesus desires for you to be willing to forgive others, even those who persecute you:

Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

A willingness to obey Jesus propels the faithful believer into a life of service that is open to the work of the Holy Spirit in everything that is done.

III. Be able. In order to serve Christ wherever He sends you, it is very important to be able to rely upon the Holy Spirit to provide wisdom and guidance throughout any and all circumstances. The Spirit enables you to live in a Christlike manner before others:

Isaiah 11:2 ESV

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

John 14:15-17 ESV

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

You are able as the Spirit enables you to do these things. His purpose is to glorify God, which is what people are to conclude as they see the presence of Christ in everything that you do. You are able to show others God’s love, grace and mercy, in order that they can, perhaps for the first time in their lives, experience God’s love, grace and mercy.

The Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a powerful message for the believer. It compels you to think long and hard about more than just a job, or even a career. It compels you to think about how you can serve Him. The burden of serving others will make you pray fervently—get down on your knees—and open yourself up to how He can use you. You will see the need for a harvest in the same way that Jesus does (Luke 10:2; 2 Peter 3:9). A. B. Simpson noted that people are to be prayerful for qualified, well-trained workers who desire to follow God’s call to missions, and also prayerful for sufficiency in financial support.

There is a lot at stake as there is an end to when the gospel will be proclaimed—Christ’s return is imminent:

Matthew 24:14 ESV

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

When He returns, Jesus Christ will claim His people and judge those whom He does not have a personal relationship. The signs of His coming are ever-present and should not be ignored:

A. B. Simpson noted: “The religious signs are growing more vivid. Lukewarmness and worldliness in the Church, intense longings after holiness on the part of the few, and a mighty missionary movement are the features of the age, and the signs of prophecy, that point to the day of the Son of Man.”

A. B. Simpson stated that the gospel message is reflected in “the greatest text in the Bible,” and that it is a missionary message summed up in three thoughts:

  1. “This is the God the world needs to know.
  2. This is the Gospel the world needs to hear.
  3. This is the Love the world needs to see.”

The lost of the world need to see the true God of the universe reflected in your Christlike behavior.

The lost need to hear God’s words of encouragement through His promise of salvation.

The lost need to see your love and sincerity through friendship in order to share these very important truths.

The Bible says in Romans chapter 10, “how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (cmalliance.org)

Now is the time to be ready, willing and able to speak freely about the One who saved you for all eternity.

Are you ready, willing and able to trust in Jesus Christ in this way?

In the same way Jesus proclaimed you righteous and saved you with His grace, now’s the time for you to share His love for you with others.

2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

“For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

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Step Back to Step Forward in Christ

A message text from Melvin Gaines for Sunday, August 17, 2014:

This past week, I was able to take the opportunity to use a paid day from work as a volunteer at a charity of my choice.  I selected The Emergency Assistance Center in Northfield Center, which is the largest food pantry in northern Summit County.  I was able to meet Joyce Hunt, the Executive Director, Lori, one of the staff members, and a group of volunteers.  The ministry there has grown in the last couple of years since Joyce came on board, and they have extended their footprint beyond the Nordonia Hills area.  They also serve the needs of residents in Twinsburg, Richfield and Boston Heights.  The need has grown over the years where they are servicing over 700 clients per month who are in need of food, clothing or even hygiene products, and they always serve every person who comes through the door with a smile and the love of Jesus Christ.  A person can select what they want according to guidelines established, and they also get free meats and bread.  The Emergency Assistance Center has partnerships with churches in the area and businesses throughout Greater Cleveland—and all without one dollar of government grants or assistance.  It is all done through donations and the selfless efforts of 60 volunteers.  They are making a difference in the community to thwart hunger and provide a lifeline to overcome poverty.  Joyce and the staff readily admit that without all of the volunteers, they could never keep up with the demand and maintain the ministry, and they absolutely believe that God is in the midst of all of it—and that He is to be glorified.

Here is one more way that kingdom work is going on for the glory of God—and giving credit where credit is due…to God and for His glory and purpose.  The testimony to others is in the sharing of the love of Christ.

Notice how all of the heart and soul of ministry certainly begins with our collective efforts of service and duty for the kingdom, and yet we see how people sincerely attribute their efforts, and especially our successes, to God.  When we see testimonies like this, know that God Himself is at the very center of our Christian faith and ministry.

In order to be able to see God truly at work in your life, you need to take a step backward in order to move several steps forward.

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

 

Exalt you in what way?

By giving you fame and fortune? Maybe—but it’s highly unlikely.

By giving you a bigger house and car? Maybe—but it’s highly unlikely.

If you’re entertaining these thoughts, you are missing the point.

In the context of the verse, the act of humbling yourself in the book of James chapter 4 means having a serious approach to who God is when you consider your overall unworthiness before Him.

James 4:1-10

1 What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?  2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.

Adulteresses!  Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

 

God wants to see more from you than someone who talks a good game.  He wants to see how you are truly following Him, and it’s not in what you say or in how much you are doing for Him.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Better to draw near in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they ignorantly do wrong. Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. For dreams result from much work and a fool’s voice from many words.

 

1 Samuel 15:22-23

22 Then Samuel said:

Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?

Look: to obey is better than sacrifice,
to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has rejected you as king.

 

Note that your success in Christ has nothing to do with your own thought process, your own ways of thinking or reasoning—all of these originate in the flesh.  In order to take steps forward in your faith and in your ministry before others, you need to take a step back and humble yourself before Him.  If you choose not to humble yourself, you render yourself useless within His kingdom.

Here’s a point of controversy, for sure—I’m not saying that you can’t do anything without Jesus.  You can do a lot of things without Jesus.  In fact, you can do many things and even see results, but be sure that you understand what those accomplishments mean according to His ways and His standards.  You may have your own standards, but how do they stand up to God’s standards?

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

You can do something without Jesus, but in the end, it amounts to nothing.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)

We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

 

Isaiah wrote about these so-called righteous deeds of the Israelites but he was stating, in reality, that they were nothing more than junk before God because of their hypocrisy.  This verse is commonly known as the “filthy rags” verse.  Gotquestions.org notes that the word filthy is a translation of the Hebrew word iddah, which literally means “the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual cycle.” This is how we are to see how God sees our self-centered approach to the good things that we think we are doing—namely, they are as useless to Him as a soiled feminine hygiene product. [1]

The things that we think we are doing for the Lord amount to nothing that is worth keeping around.  It all comes down to thinking more of yourself than you really are when you are outside of God’s will and live in disobedience to Him.

Jeremiah 13:1-11

1 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy yourself a linen undergarment and put it on, but do not put it in water.” So I bought underwear as the Lord instructed me and put it on.

Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing, and go at once to the Euphrates and hide it in a rocky crevice.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

A long time later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to the Euphrates and get the underwear that I commanded you to hide there.” So I went to the Euphrates and dug up the underwear and got it from the place where I had hidden it, but it was ruined—of no use at all.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: Just like this I will ruin the great pride of both Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These evil people, who refuse to listen to Me, who follow the stubbornness of their own hearts, and who have followed other gods to serve and worship—they will be like this underwear, of no use at all. 11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, but they would not obey.

 

Without obedience, your works amount to nothing.

If Jesus is not in it, it isn’t worth doing it.

If Jesus is not in it, you’ve received your prize for your effort.

Matthew 6:1-4

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

God proclaims that your fleshly works, on their own merit, amount to nothing more than soiled products or ruined underwear.  Your works are only justified when you are justified in your humble relationship with Jesus Christ.  Your works will be seen as fruits of the Holy Spirit when you humble yourself before Him.  Only then will He exalt you, and it will be in such a way where you will see His fruits in your efforts and all that you will be able to do is proclaim, “He did it!”

How connected are you with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Just as we cannot live without an air supply, we cannot be fruitful in the world, and even within the body of Christ, without the presence of the Holy Spirit.  One of the best examples of this is the study of the verses in John, chapter 15, of the vine and the branches.  It reflects the necessity of one very important element in our actions as we exist within a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, and it has everything to do with our obedience to His Word, His commands, and His will.

God wants you to see that He values your relationship with Him much more than your service.  Yes, the service is important, but not more important than Him.

If you choose to “do good with works” over a relationship with Jesus Christ, you should know that, at some point in the future, you can’t be fruitful without Him.  There is no substitute for Jesus Christ.  Your ministry depends completely upon the fruitfulness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who enables you to minister to others.

 

John 15:1-8

 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

 

Whether you remain in Him (or not)—he will not desert you or forget about you—He encourages us, and even fortifies us with His very presence.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

 

Jesus is the vine that allows you to be fruitful in your ministry.

Without Him, you cannot bear good fruit.

Jesus will also prune you in order for you to be fruitful.  Pruning sounds a little painful, doesn’t it?

When was the last time that Jesus used His pruning shears on you?  Was it a moment of discipline?  Believe it or not, you should be encouraged by the fact that you were indeed shown the way to repentance, for repentance means that God loves you and desires to draw you back into fellowship with Him.  Your return to fellowship means that God is pruning you to return you to fruitfulness.

Hebrews 12:3-11

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or faint when you are reproved by Him,
for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son He receives.

Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

What work does Jesus need to do in your life to make you more fruitful?  Does he need to do some minor pruning—or more than that?

With the knowledge that obedience to Jesus Christ keeps you fruitful, you can now see God working in your life of fruitfulness by showing the love of Christ to others.  He chose you to do the work.  What an honor it is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

John 15:9-17

“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.12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Your work in Christ will show the love of Christ to others.  You were selected to do the work for His glory.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

 

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

1 “Why are all of our righteous acts considered filthy rags?” (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http:// http://www.gotquestions.org/filthy-rags.html

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Church is a Benefit in Our Work Ethic

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Today’s church is the one place where people should be able to attend and hear the truth. The truth is sometimes difficult to hear, especially when you hear about sin, obedience and God’s holiness. Nevertheless, the church is the truth that needs to be heard and proclaimed.
1 Timothy 3:15 (HCSB)
But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
In this truth, we learn about work and its value. We are created to work for God, but it is up to us to see the value of work for the Lord.
Malachi 3:18
So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
You can see the love that a person has for God in his or her work. There is a distinction in the person and performance.
Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.
1. Man was put in the garden to work.
Genesis 1:28
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
Genesis 2:15-17
15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”Work was provided by God to man in an effort to teach obedience. Note that God created Eve only after Adam showed himself to be responsible for his work.
Genesis 2:18
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”After the fall, all work is under a curse.

Genesis 3:17-19
17 And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’:

The ground is cursed because of you.
You will eat from it by means of painful labor
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow
until you return to the ground,
since you were taken from it.
For you are dust,
and you will return to dust.”

While all work today is under that same state, our work can be fruitful and evident when believers call on the Holy Spirit to assist in their effort. Any work done in the flesh only manifests itself in the flesh, while work in the Holy Spirit is beneficial for all that rely upon Him. God wants you to shine in your work.

In work, we learn obedience and gain from His training (in order to carry out instruction).

Leviticus 19:23-25
23 “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you are to consider the fruit forbidden. It will be forbidden to you for three years; it is not to be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the Lord. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way its yield will increase for you; I am Yahweh your God.

Where Adam failed in his area of obedience, he is giving instruction as to how to be obedient to God.

2. To restore something takes work.

We are called to work for God. It is work done under grace.

Matthew 28:19-20
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Genesis 1:28
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Teaching others requires work. When others criticize about the work that they need to do, it is a natural response that has to be overcome because of our fallen, rebellious state.

3. What is the effect of work in our lives?

a. It brings wealth (Proverbs 13:11).

Proverbs 13:11
Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle,
but whoever earns it through labor will multiply it.

b. It keeps us from breaking the law (Ephesians 4:28).

Ephesians 4:28
The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

c. It promotes the ability to rule (discipline) – (Proverbs 12:24).

Proverbs 12:24
The diligent hand will rule,
but laziness will lead to forced labor.

d. It causes us to stand before others with confidence (Proverbs 22:29).

Proverbs 22:29
Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand in the presence of kings.
He will not stand in the presence of unknown men.

God desires that work is good for him and it bolsters one’s self-esteem. The church provides instruction about the value of work and how it benefits the individual worker, others, and the church, and how it is exported to other companies and venues–all for the glory of God.


Jesus Christ: Head of The Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
The church is not brick and mortar, or just a building. It is made up of people. Men builds buildings, but God builds the church.

There are many church buildings that we see as we move about, but very few people who are attending. It goes back to what is really important for the person. Some will go to church to find a spouse or to be entertained, but the main reason to attend church is to fulfill the heart’s desire for a believer to learn how to live for Christ and grow in Christ.

The church exists today because it is God’s will for it to exist.

Who is the founder and builder of the church?

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

Jesus is referring to Himself as the rock that will build the church, which is His church. This is why we are to exalt Christ first as the head of the church. When it comes to recognizing persons for their accomplishments, it is not to be done to glorify the person; instead, it is to acknowledge how Jesus Christ was the primary focus of the contributor in the church.

Success is not in the numbers of the people within the church or in titles. God looks at the hearts of its people. The people of the church is always to recognize Christ as the head of the church.

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

Ephesians 5:23
…for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.

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

1 Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Jesus Christ provides for His church:

Ephesians 4:11-13
11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.

Romans 12:3-8
3 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. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s faith;
7 if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
8 if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

God has given the people of His church a measure of faith. As one grows in learning about Jesus Christ, their faith also grows. In order for a church to experience growth, their must be a concerted faith and trust in God and His Word. Everyone who trusts Jesus Christ as Savior has a gift to share within the body of Christ. The gifts are provided to serve to the body and to others.

The church has no distinctions. There is no class of people. Everyone is the same under Jesus Christ. He is the One who exalts the people who serve Him.
1. We are all brothers and sisters.
2. We are all servants.
3. We are all priests.

Matthew 23:8-11
8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant.

Matthew 20:21-27
21 “What do you want?” He asked her.

“Promise,” she said to Him, “that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom.”

22 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”

“We are able,” they said to Him.

23 He told them, “You will indeed drink My cup. But to sit at My right and left is not Mine to give; instead, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” 24 When the 10 disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.

A priest recognizes God and serves Him while ministering to God’s people.

1 Corinthians 12:7
A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial.

1 Peter 4:10
Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.

The work of the church is set forth by Jesus.

Jesus came to earth to serve and set the example.

Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life —a ransom for many.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.

1 Timothy 1:16
But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

1 Peter 2:21
For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps.

No one in the church is too great to perform the least of work.

John 13:12-15
12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined[a] again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

The purpose of the church is to go and make disciples of all people.

Matthew 28:19-20
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.


Church Discipline

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Discipline is not enjoyable under any circumstance, but it is necessary. A very important area where discipline should be is in the church. There is a misconception that there should not be any discipline because everyone in the church is covered under grace. The fact is that there should be church discipline is lacking today because of selfish motivations. If we are in the body of Christ and truly “a family,” we should see the evidence of care for one another. We are mistaken if we take the approach that what we do is no one else’s business. Our responsibility is to make sure that each of us is growing and progressing as believers in Jesus Christ.

When something goes wrong, we should be able to correct a person who is in sin and out of fellowship. The simple reason is that sin destroys fellowship with God and with the church. It weakens us spiritually as a body. It is not to embarrass someone, but is intended to get a person back on the right track.

The church is to be the authority in the lives of its believers and attendees. Anything less than that is chaotic.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

This is more than just turning a blind eye to sin. When there is no higher authority in your life, it is a mistake. When you only believe that you are righteous in your own behavior, it is also a mistake.

The basis of church discipline is that God disciplines His people. It is never to be made light of, nor is it meant to discourage those who are being disciplined. It is an act of love. It means that God, and the people of the church, cares about the one who is being disciplined. It is performed with God’s long-suffering intent to correct and give direction to the person to turn from sin.

Hebrews 12:5-6
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or faint when you are reproved by Him,
6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son He receives.

Parents discipline their children because they love them. It is an act of love and patience, and it is not to be done to break the child’s will and not his or her spirit. In the same way, God disciplines us with love and patience because He knows each of us and cares for us.

The church uses discipline to care for the person’s spiritual well-being.

1 Corinthians 12:25
…so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.

Here is what we don’t want to occur within the body of Christ:

Psalm 142:4
Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.

Discipline is also for our own spiritual wellness.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

1. We have to be careful of sin that will spread among us.
2. Through grace God has joined Himself to us.
3. He comes in holiness and demands the reflection of His character within our lives and within His church. His presence is in the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and within the body of Christ.

Psalm 93:5
Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable;
holiness is the beauty of Your house
for all the days to come.

1 Peter 1:16
…for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

4. It matters to God how the world sees us, as His people; therefore, discipline is a training tool.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


The Pure in Heart

Do you have a heart for God?  Do you strive for righteousness in your life?  In order to live a life that is dedicated to service for Christ, it is important for you to have a heart for God and always seek righteousness.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Your heart will reflect what you value most in life.  If you value material things, your actions will support it, but if your heart is for being a servant of God and being obedient to His Word, the evidence will be in your actions as you live in following Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God.

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.

A person with a pure heart will demonstrate, through his or her life, their trust in God’s Word in all that they do.

There are three different kinds of hearts that one can possess:

1.  Evil heart – the person who possesses an evil heart is filled with wickedness and iniquity (Genesis 6:5)

2.  Carnal heart – although saved, the person with a carnal heart still desires the things of the flesh (1 Corinthians 3:3).

3.  Pure heart – a person in training as to service to God who possesses a desire for God’s Word, His commands, and His way of life.

A person who desires to have a pure heart must be willing to examine himself or herself and is unwilling to be contaminated by any outside elements that would thwart these efforts.  The person with a pure heart operates without mixed messages or ulterior motives…everything is about working for the glory of God.  God knows the intent and real motives of everyone.

1 Corinthians 4:5

Therefore, don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts.  And then praise will come to each one from God.

How do you develop a pure heart?

Proverbs 22:11

The one who loves a pure heart and gracious lips–the king is his friend.

A person who uses kind and thoughtful words in his or her speech will build up others and not tear others down.  Words will be spoken in truth but also in love.

1 Timothy 1:5

Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Love comes a pure heart and does not demand any love in return.  It is the agape love that does not act out of selfishness or any insincerity.

2 Timothy 2:22

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

A person with a pure heart will run from evil desires and those people who are not good influences in their life, as well as confusion and argumentative behavior.  In contrast, he or she will seek the company of those who support the quest for righteousness, fairness, love and peace.

What are the results of the developing a pure heart?

  • God is good to those with pure hearts (Psalm 73:1).
  • He or she will receive the Lord’s blessings…

Psalm 24:4-5

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully.  He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

  • A steadfast spirit, which leads to a righteous spirit for everyone to see (Psalm 51:10).
  • The ability for others to see God’s righteousness in your actions…a great, positive influence in the lives of others (Proverbs 22:11).

 

 

 


God’s Expectation of His Church

The church is the place where God’s name should be honored. The moment that you come to church should be the moment that you are preparing to worship Him and show respect for who He is. By doing this, you are much more likely to come away with answers that will bring you with a greater understanding of God and His Word, and apply that knowledge according to His will. Take the time to examine your approach regarding your church and worship time.Jesus had two instances where He had to “cleanse” the temple because of what the people had been using it for.  The first recorded instance is in John 2 and the second follows with accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  First, the account in John 2:
John 2:13-17

13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and [He also found] the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me.

If you look at history, this is the third temple. Solomon’s temple was the first. The second temple was built by Zerubbabel (the leader of those returning from exile to rebuild the temple–as noted in Ezra 2:2; 4:2; 5:2; Haggai 1:1). Then came Herod the Great, who oversaw the building of the third temple. He built the temple to win the favor of the people. Through all of this, we lost the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, and all of the things that were originally associated with God’s presence in the temple. All of the temples were all ultimately destroyed because the people who professed to follow the Lord were not truly worshiping Him. The Lord was not accepting man’s way of worshiping Him and allowed for the destruction of the temples because of the change of its role and with its people. When it comes to today’s church, God will allow for the closing of a facility that does not honor Him or respect Him. He wants His followers to worship God in a way that glorifies Him, honors Him and shows the proper reverence for Him.

When Jesus went to the temple, it was over a period of time as he was growing up. He understood that the temple was a place of worship, but now, in His ministry, He saw the change of the authority of the leadership had changed and that there was no longer a reverence for God in the temple. The leaders were not looking at the temple as a place to make money and even take advantage of people.

1 Peter 5:1-4

1 Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah, and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

In order to sell in the temple, there had to be a provision given to the priests in order to set up booths. Under this system, the priests and high priests, many of whom were actually Gentile, were earning money while taking advantage of the poor.

Matthew 21:12-13

 12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves! “

Mark 11:15-18

 15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers ‘ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex.

    17 Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations ? But you have made it a den of thieves !” 18 Then the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to destroy Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished by His teaching.

Luke 19:45-48

 45 He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, 46 and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves !”     47 Every day He was teaching in the temple complex. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were looking for a way to destroy Him, 48 but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were captivated by what they heard.

In this second account of Jesus clearing the temple, notice that Jesus, while removing the sellers and the money changers, used the opportunity to instruct and teach the people of the proper way of ministry and worship within the temple, and it was His actions that enlightened the people. His opposition tried to challenge His authority, but it was a futile effort after Jesus had removed the people who were selling in the temple and the money changers.

John 2:18-21

18 So the Jews replied to Him, “What sign [of authority] will You show us for doing these things?”

    19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.”

    20 Therefore the Jews said, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?”

    21 But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body.

The church, today’s modern temple, is supposed to be a place of education about God, Jesus Christ and a place to worship Him.

Isaiah 56:1-8

1 This is what the LORD says:
    Preserve justice and do what is right,
    for My salvation is coming soon,
    and My righteousness will be revealed.

    2 Happy is the man who does this,
    anyone who maintains this,
    who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps his hand from doing any evil.

    3 No foreigner who has converted to the LORD
    should say,
    “The LORD will exclude me from His people”;
    and the eunuch should not say,
    “Look, I am a dried&nbhyph;up tree.”

    4 For the LORD says this:
    “For the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
    and choose what pleases Me,
    and hold firmly to My covenant,

    5 I will give them, in My house and within My walls,
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters.
    I will give each [of them] an everlasting name
    that will never be cut off.

    6 And the foreigners who convert to the LORD,
    minister to Him, love the LORD’s name,
    and are His servants,
    all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and who hold firmly to My covenant—

    7 I will bring them to My holy mountain
    and let them rejoice in My house of prayer.
    Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be acceptable on My altar,
    for My house will be called a house of prayer
    for all nations.”
          8 [This is] the declaration of the Lord GOD ,
          who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
    “I will gather to them still others
    besides those already gathered.”

God wants all people to freely come to church and celebrate God–in the same way, there are some areas where things that don’t involve worship or praise of God need to be cast out of the church.

When you step into church, your consciousness and awareness of God should be awakened. God’s Word is present…it’s now just a process of believing it in its entirety.