Tag Archives: glorify

Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

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American Idols

Message transcript of September 13, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

On the hit television show, American Idol, people audition from all over the United States to earn the opportunity to face-off in a singing competition for the chance to win it all and be referred to as The American Idol.

The American Idol is more than just a television singing competition. It can also refer to an ongoing competition that you are involved in more often than you realize. You are not competing against another hopeful for a prize, but you are involved in a competition where the stakes are much higher. Your competition involves what you hold as important versus your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Who will win the competition? If you are honest with yourself, you will see that it is hardly a slam dunk that your relationship with Jesus Christ will come away as the winner. There are many obstacles that will hamper your efforts to remain in fellowship with Him, and that is because you also hold someone or something as one or more of your American Idols.

What is an idol? An idol, by definition, is a cultural icon, specifically a popular person, or it is an image or representation of anything that is revered and perhaps even regarded as having some sort of spiritual power. As you can see, an idol can be a person, a thing or even a god for some. In the King James Version of the bible, the term used is “graven image,” which is something that is engraved and revered in a form of worship. The Hebrew word for graven image is means literally “idol.”

In the event that anyone believes that an idol has some sort of spiritual influence, God has a very clear command about worshiping such images:

Exodus 20:4-6 ESV

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

Deuteronomy 5:9a ESV

You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.

 

Isaiah 42:8 HCSB

I am Yahweh, that is My name;

I will not give My glory to another

or My praise to idols.

As God clearly declares that He will not give honor or praise to idols, then neither should we.

Worshiping idols is known as idolatry, which is worship and excessive devotion to a person or thing that effectively replaces God.

So, what’s the problem here? You may be saying to yourself right now “this idolatry thing does not describe me. I don’t have any carved images or statues in my house, and I don’t get into all of that silly stuff.”

Really? Let’s consider that there are many things that are going on in your life right now that not only replace God as being first in your life, but they also minimize Him in the same way that you can minimize a window on your computer and you would not even see Him, and maybe even forget that He was there. If this were a competition, you would have voted, even already written God off.

In the book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller presents three different things that are idols that we can put before God: love, money and power. There are many more than these three, of course, because, by definition, an idol is ANYTHING that a person views as important and replaces the role of God in one’s life. These three, however, are significant in that they not only are substitutes for Him, but they can also cause serious damage to the people you know if they are unchecked and out of control. Keller notes, “An idolatrous attachment can lead you to break any promise, rationalize any indiscretion, or betray any other allegiance, in order to hold onto it. It may drive you to violate all good and proper boundaries.”

I. Love and Sex

There is certainly a difference between love and sex, but as we have often seen within our present culture, the two often go hand in hand, especially when it comes to how a person views love in his or her own way. The worldly view of love is not even close to the agape love that is the essence of God’s character (1 John 4:8). The worldly view of love values the relationship with a person over and above a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ—so much so that a person’s values and ethics are often compromised for the sake of preserving the relationship. For a believer in Jesus Christ, this should be especially troubling. Keller notes that “Making an idol out of love may mean allowing the lover to exploit and abuse you, or it may cause terrible blindness to the pathologies in the relationship.”

A single woman named Clarice has attended a church for several years where the biblical values of dating, relationships and abstaining from sex before marriage have been presented. Clarice, however, felt as though her biological clock was ticking, and decided to visit nightclubs or other social events in order to find a “good Christian man” that had values similar to her own—namely, settling down and getting married. Upon finding a potential suitor, even upon declaring him as a boyfriend, she began sizing him up to check all of the boxes in her mind. Is he employed with a future career potential? Is he able to provide for me? Is he sexually compatible? Note that none of these questions are crosschecked with what she was taught within the church. Of course, after reviewing these and other questions, Clarice decides that her present boyfriend won’t be a suitable mate; therefore, she breaks up with him and moves on to search for another that will check all of her boxes. This pursuit often leads to emptiness and dissatisfaction, and it is a disappointment to God when the efforts of finding security in a person give way to obedience, trust and reliance upon God’s method of provision. God is left well into the background. Her pursuit of love was her American idol.

Jonathan was always searching for the “girl of his dreams.” The problem was that each prospective woman would never meet his expectations. He also could not maintain a long-term romance because he lacked confidence in himself and did not trust that the women he tried to date would continue to find him appealing. In between these relationships, he would visit strip clubs or watch pornography. Jonathan never married. All of his relationships turned out to be empty and unsatisfying, but his expectation that something better was out there kept his focus away from relying upon God to be his ultimate matchmaker. His desire for romance above everything else was his American idol.

The pursuit of love and sex is idolatry. It is more than just minimizing God—it is a separation from God. This can also lead to unwanted pregnancies and the undermining of a person’s family or career pursuits. In extreme cases, an emptiness, or false intimacy, can lead to sexual addiction, which according to Harry Schaumburg, is “the self-centered demand to be loved and accepted regardless of the consequences, and a loss of vital relationship with God” and it “is a complex result of sin and human behavior.” The idolatry of love and sex is sinful and destructive for every relationship surrounding the perpetrator.

II. Money

One of the most misquoted passages of Scripture involves money. Money on its own is not a bad thing; yet, the love of it has caused many to stumble under greed, and it is idolatry.

1 Timothy 6:10 HCSB

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Anthony liked having money in his pockets. He wasn’t particularly wealthy, either, and he didn’t handle money very well. He desired to earn more money and become whatever it means to be independently wealthy, but his pursuit came through working three jobs and playing the lottery every day–sometimes twice a day and also buying dozens of scratch-off tickets. When it came to paying the bills at home, his wife had to bear the brunt of the mortgage and the utilities, because Anthony never had enough money to help out with the bills at home. He was driven through the enticement of a “get rich quick” mentality. Even when he hit the lottery for $10,000.00, he bought a new car for himself and never bothered to share his winnings with his wife. Anthony was controlled by greed over money, and it would never be satisfied, especially since God was not in his plan of obtaining wealth. His love of money was his American idol.

In Counterfeit Gods, Keller writes that greed over money “uses powerful sociological and psychological dynamics,” and that “Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart” (Keller, 2009). He also relates that greed over money will create jealousy and envy over what other people have, which creates an even greater divide in a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. It is one of the more deceptive means of idolatry, and it affects people who have little or a lot of it. God reminds us, as believers, that we can’t have Him in a relationship and hold a desire for money to the same standard:

Luke 16:13 ESV

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

 

III. Power

In America, our culture elevates politicians, professional athletes, Hollywood performers and music pop stars as having the ultimate wealth, status and power. They are deemed by the vast majority of people to have success beyond measure. With such success comes a measure of power. If it is used in the right way, the evidence comes out of a person with a humble approach to life and the desire to serve and glorify God. If, however, a person uses power to his or her own advantage, it creates an environment where power usage can be abusive…and sinful.

Even the noblest efforts that are presented in the spirit of doing what is good can still be twisted into idolatry. Keller notes, “When love of one’s people becomes an absolute, it turns into racism. When love of equality turns into a supreme thing, it can result in hatred and violence toward anyone who has led a privileged life. We can look at our political leaders as ‘messiahs,’ our political leaders as saving doctrine, and turn our political activities into a kind of religion.”

The desire for power is the culmination of a thought process that is independent of God’s involvement.

The people who audition for American Idol have one goal in mind, and that is to be seen as the best of the best singers in a popularity contest before millions of people. It begins with the desire to get a big break, but for all but one person, the contest ends without realizing the dream. Some contestants on the show honestly believe that they can be famous–even if they cannot sing very well. Contestants have been known to quit their jobs and leave their families in order to seek fame and fortune. It is more than just trying to win a recording contract—it is a quest for fame and influence. The desire for such power is idolatry.

Fame, however, is fleeting, especially when compared with the presence of God in our lives.

 

Isaiah 40:6-8 HCSB

A voice was saying, “Cry out!”

Another said, “What should I cry out?”

“All humanity is grass,

and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flowers fade

when the breath of the Lord blows on them;

indeed, the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flowers fade,

but the word of our God remains forever.”

It is our nature to want to accomplish something or achieve something on our own, when we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be fully aware that we cannot accomplish anything without His input (His movement or His allowance of it).

 

Luke 18:27 HCSB

He (Jesus) replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

So who, or what, is your American idol? Are you following a person instead of seeking Jesus? Are you searching for something in your life that is unfulfilling and empty? Are you putting Christ aside in order to fulfill your own desires? What idols are you holding on to?

Perhaps it is time for you to do some real soul searching and make sure that you are not in a competition against God because of holding on to idols. It is a competition that you will ultimately lose, because idolatry is sin…plain and simple. The only way to renounce these idols is to humble yourself and turn from your sin directly to Jesus Christ, and recognize that God is the One who delivers us from our sins. He became sin for us with His death on the cross in order to become righteous before Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


God Provides and Empowers His Witnesses

Today’s message summary of July 5, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There will still be some sort of religious ceremony or presentation within Revelation Chapter 11. We will still see that Jerusalem is the center of all activity, just as it is today.

God will provide witnesses for Him and His Name. He will empower them and enable them to glorify His name.

Revelation 11:1-19

Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: “Go and measure God’s sanctuary and the altar, and count those who worship there. But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don’t measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months. I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies; if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These men have the power to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. They also have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague whenever they want.

When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which prophetically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And representatives from the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10 Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another because these two prophets brought judgment to those who live on the earth.

11 But after 3½ days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment a violent earthquake took place, a tenth of the city fell, and 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed. Take note: The third woe is coming quickly!

15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of His Messiah,
and He will reign forever and ever!

16 The 24 elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, 17 saying:

We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
but Your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to Your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear Your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth.

19 God’s sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail.

In Revelation 11:1, God is not directing John to measure like a ruler, but to determine the quality, or the standard of what is being presented in the sanctuary. Measure the value of worship. Does it meets God standard? Does it qualify? The worship in the temple in Revelation will be for the Antichrist.

I. God has a standard. You have to be willing to make the sacrifices to be different from the world and be holy. The standard has been lowered so much in this day and time that everyone is made to be comfortable in the church. Well, everyone is welcome to the church, but everyone should not feel comfortable in their sin.

In Revelation 11:2-6, God brings the two witnesses to stand against the Antichrist.

We are challenged to worship the One, true God, and to grow in our relationship with Him.

John 4:23

But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. Instead of lowering our standards of worship, we need to keep them as high as possible. The world has lowered its standard of worship, but we are challenged to worship Him as He cleanses us and equips us to minister to others.

Hebrews 9:14

…how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?

Psalm 51:2

Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

II. Christ is the center of our worship–in Revelation 11, that will not be the case.

The gospel message is to be delivered. The gospel message will not be delivered in the temple; furthermore, the wrong style of worship will take place in the temple in Revelation 11.

Titus 3:5

He saved us–not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

God gives the authority and power to the two witnesses (Rev. 11:4-5). He gives them the power to perform their ministry and for their protection. God knew that they would face opposition. He gave them fire to proceed out of their mouths, to hold back the rain and turn water into blood.

Scripture does not reveal who the two men are, but some believe that they are Elijah and Moses. Elijah and Moses performed signs that duplicate what these men will do, and they both appeared with Jesus during the Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:3-4

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Malachi 4:4

“Remember the instruction of Moses My servant, the statutes and ordinances I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Exodus 7:20

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, he raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile was turned to blood.

1 Kings 17:1

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, I stand before Him, and there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!”

They could strike the earth with a plague whenever they desired (Revelation 11:6).

III. When their ministry is complete, Satan has the power to kill them. (Revelation 11:7-10)

You will finish on time.

Psalm 39:4

“Lord, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am.”

It is OK to stand alone.

2 Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

God is with you.

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

There will be times in ministry where one needs to stand alone for Him.

There is an appointed time.

Job 14:5-6

Since man’s days are determined and the number of his months depends on You, and since You have set limits he cannot pass, look away from him and let him rest so that he can enjoy his day like a hired hand.

The two witnesses were empowered by God to perform as His witness. In the same way, recognize the power that God gives to you to be His witness for Him while you are able.

The fact that the beast can kill them reveals that they are physical beings. They are killed by the beast, who is also a person.

The two witnesses were killed in Jerusalem. The place is referred to Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).

Sodom – no morals; rebellion against God (Ezekiel 16:40)

Egypt – idols; captivity of God’s people

IV. God breaks up the party (v. 9-10)

All will see the bodies laying in the streets. Imagine all of the pictures uploaded on the internet and having them broadcast on YouTube!

The witnesses were proclaiming God’s Word, but when they were killed and the word of God was removed from the people, the people were celebrating their demise.

Imagine the terror of the people when they came back to life 3 1/2 days later! (v. 11)

For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no reason to be ashamed of the gospel. It will require personal sacrifice, but it will be worth it for the testimony that is made before others.


Your Choice: The Flesh or The Spirit – Part 4

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

You have the choice of living your life in a fleshly way or under the authority of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today we will cover the referred to in Galatians 5 that discusses the perils of fighting and backbiting. These will tear up homes and businesses or organizations. They will need to disappear in order for those involved to be able to effectively serve The Lord.

Galatians 5:20
…idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions…

We have witnessed people who rage or are completely out of control, and who are captured under selfish ambition. The godly attribute of self-control is what is needed to counter these behaviors.

If you believe that God’s Word is true, then you will follow His Word whether you like what it says or not. If the person of Jesus Christ is in your life, you cannot remain the same as you were before. It will be either your way or His way.

Matthew 7:16, 21
16 You8217ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

21 8220Not everyone who says to Me, 8216Lord, Lord!8217 will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.

John 8:44
You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father8217s 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.

God is our true Father, yet we can drift away from Him because of our own selfish desires. When we say the words, “Lord, Lord,” are we being truly faithful to Him? Is there a desire to please Him? If you fail to please Him, you will find yourself stumbling. God has standards that need to be met.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Don8217t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God8217s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God8217s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 5:21b
I tell you about these things in advance8212as I told you before8212that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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.

We need put aside any hatred, discord, jeaulousym rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions or envy.

Hatred is hostility; a reason for opposition or strong dislike.

1 John 2:9
The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up conflicts,
but love covers all offenses.

Variance–discord: conflict; disagreement; lack of harmony.

Cain and Abel were in discord. The result was murder. We will all experience discord or be in disagreement. The key is to not let it linger.

Acts 15:37-40
37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers.

Emulations–jealousy: resentful and envious; a contentious rivalry.

Genesis 37:3-5
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was a son born to him in his old age, and he made a robe of many colors for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him.

5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

Proverbs 6:34
For jealousy enrages a husband,
and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

Wrath–rage: madness, uncontrolled anger; violent in anger and action.

Proverbs 14:16
A wise man is cautious and turns from evil,
but a fool is easily angered and is careless.

The fear of The Lord will counter any evil or raging out of control.

1 Samuel 20:30-32
30 Then Saul became angry with Jonathan and shouted, 8220You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don8217t I know that you are siding with Jesse8217s son to your own shame and to the disgrace of your mother? 31 Every day Jesse8217s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure. Now send for him and bring him to me8212he deserves to die.8221

32 Jonathan answered his father back: 8220Why is he to be killed? What has he done?8221

Strife–selfish ambition: concern about self.

Joshua 7:20-21
20 Achan replied to Joshua, 8220It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.8221

After all is said and done, our purpose is to overcome any selfish desires and seek God in order to glorify God in our actions.

Seditions–dissension: a difference of opinion; disagreement; violent quarreling.

2 Timothy 2:24
The Lord8217s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient,

2 Corinthians 12:18
I urged Titus to come, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn8217t we walk in the same spirit and in the same footsteps?

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together
without agreeing to meet?

Heresies–factions: working against others; conflict within an organization, dissension.

Matthew 26:23
He replied, 8220The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl8212he will betray Me.

Heresy works against the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our next study of the fruits of the Spirit, we will see how love will conquer these behaviors that God warns us to abstain from.


Seeking God’s Will in The New Year

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Lord, help us to continue to seek You and to have the desire to serve You and be Your workmanship. Help us to focus and fix our eyes upon Jesus. Thank you for the ability to not grow weary and remain steadfast in the work that you would have us to do. We see the destruction that Satan has brought into the lives of people. Help us to go willingly with the mind to do your will and witness to those who are lost. As long as we have breath, we have the task before us to bring others to You. Thank you. Bless us, for we are Your people. We can do all things in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What do you have planned for the New Year? Even more than that, what would God have you to do in 2014? God has to prepare our hearts and minds for the work that needs to be done. He provides us the ability to see beyond our own personal needs, but it is something that we must seek and desire to do.
Did you choose God or did God choose you?
John 15:16
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
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.
Somewhere along the journey of your life, God has called you and chosen you to do His work. He knows all about us, and He knows the fruit that we can bear in doing His work for His glory.Where God guides, God provides.

Who God chooses, He uses.

As God has chosen you, His plan is to use you, and in that He will provide for you as you follow Him. In all of this, it may not be how you plan it out to be, but we need to keep in mind that God’s will in your life is most important.

1 Chronicles 28:2-8
2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. It was in my heart to build a house as a resting place for the ark of the Lord’s covenant and as a footstool for our God. I had made preparations to build, 3 but God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me out of all my father’s household to be king over Israel forever. For He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah, my father’s household, and from my father’s sons, He was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 And out of all my sons—for the Lord has given me many sons—He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the Lord’s kingdom over Israel. 6 He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who is to build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping My commands and My ordinances as he is today.’

8 “So now in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and follow all the commands of the Lord your God so that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

God chose David to be king over all of Israel, but even though he had the desire to build God’s temple, God chose Solomon to build it.

1 Chronicles 28:9-10
9 “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. 10 Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.”

Even as you are chosen by God, you still need to have the desire to seek Him and demonstrate that you have a heart for Him. In 2014, if you seek after Him, you will learn about Him in new ways and in ways you may not believe. Be strong in The Lord and don’t let anything separate you from Him–even difficult situations and circumstances.

1 Chronicles 28:20-21
20 Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished. 21 Here are the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of God’s house. Every willing man of any skill will be at your disposal for the work, and the leaders and all the people are at your every command.”

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. This is contrary to many in today’s culture. Working is something that we need to do in order to remain vibrant and healthy in The Lord. God will provide for you as you seek Him in the desire to do the work in service for Him. You may never know who God will send along to come aside you in doing the work. You never need to fear being alone in the work, for both you and God together are in the majority.

Do you know that The Lord is always present and is with you in everything that you do? Your confidence in Him helps you to face others who may not be with you in what you are doing. Note that your godly living is outside of the norm of what we experience in today’s world. There will be those who come against you because of where you stand. It’s good to keep in close communication with God as you encounter difficulty to make sure that you are following His will. It is not about what you are able to accomplish; instead, it is what God can accomplish through your efforts and your obedience to Him. In Him, there is no failure. In 2014, be sure to make your mind to say that you are going to walk with Him.

1 Chronicles 29:1
Then King David said to all the assembly, “My son Solomon—God has chosen him alone—is young and inexperienced. The task is great because the temple will not be for man but for the Lord God.

Youth and inexperience are not a deterrent to God. When God chooses you to perform a task, it has nothing to do with who you are, but it has everything to do with being work for The Lord.

1 Chronicles 29:10-12
10 Then David praised the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said,

May You be praised, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity.

11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. 12 Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.

Remember that the task to build the temple was great, but God was making the provision for Solomon and the people. The same is true for you as you consecrate yourself to work for The Lord.

The result of your willingness to step out and do the work that God calls you to do will be a testimony to others as you are used of Him now and in 2014.


Celebrating The God We Serve

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today it is not about celebrating Roger and Barb (who are leaving and moving to Denver)–it is about celebrating the God that they serve…the One we are to serve. He has worked continually in their lives, and they are our example of how to live godly lives before others.

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.

Roger and Barb became new creatures in Jesus Christ when they acknowledged Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. God brought about the change in their lives that each of us can see today.

True love for a spouse can be a deeper love with the appreciation of the godly love from Jesus Christ. It is a choice that has to be made.

Colossians 3:1
So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

Roger and Barb have lives of service
that reflect their love for Jesus Christ. They set their lives before Him in service and in expressing themselves as people of godly dedication. Many times, they are first to arrive at church on Sunday mornings and often the last to leave. Their life is hidden in Christ.

Roger and Barb’s gift of service has always been very apparent.

Romans 12:7
…if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching

A servant is always humble and appreciative of how God has blessed his efforts. They minister to others and are obedient to Him.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

Roger and Barb exercise faithfulness. When they say they will do something–they will do it. I’m sure that they learned all of this from The Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2
1 A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries. 2 In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God has a perfect plan for each of us. In God’s hands, we will always have a future. If we trust in Him and in His plans, He will give us rest and contentment because of our confidence that He is in control. When you live a life of faithfulness to God, you will be surprised at what you will accomplish.


Be Light

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

We’re starting a new series that discusses who we are. Who are we? In Christianity, there are times where we are unsure of where we are. There are times when we need to know clearly what we are to do. The church, by itself, does not have a responsibility in getting you involved in something. That responsibility falls back to the believer in Jesus Christ to get involved.

Who are we? We’re all called to be witnesses, but often we are known by what we do rather than what we say. We are called to be different. People should see us as believers in Jesus Christ.

Thw Lord has called us to be a light. Where God has placed us, He wants us to shine for Him. We are called to “be light,” but what keeps our light from shining is sinfulness. We are called to serve–it’s more than just claiming to be saved by Jesus. Your prayer to God should be, “Lord, let me be a light in this dark place. Let me be the one who makes a difference for You.”

We want to be a light for The Lord, and Jesus set the example for us.

John 8:12
Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we live to be His example for others who are indeed living in darkness. This is fitting as God has called you to “be light.” If you make a choice to live in sin, you are living in darkness and in failure, but living in the light gives you victory and the ability to conquer over those things that oppose you or would cause you to stumble.

Matthew 5:14-16
14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

It is sin that dims our light. The light may still be there, but we need to understand that we are not to be ashamed of the gospel. To do so would be live contrary to who you are and what you were called to do.

Exodus 27:20-21
20 “You are to command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. 21 In the tent of meeting outside the veil that is in front of the testimony, Aaron and his sons are to tend the lamp from evening until morning before the Lord. This is to be a permanent statute for the Israelites throughout their generations.

This verse conveys the importance of recognizing that God Himself is light, and it is a constant and continuous light. The oil as a gift would allow for God’s light to shine continuously. If we are being as God would call us to be, our light would shine continuously.

Why are we to “be light”?

1 John 1:5
Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.

Exodus 14:19-20
19 Then the Angel of God, who was going in front of the Israelite forces, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 It came between the Egyptian and Israelite forces. The cloud was there in the darkness, yet it lit up the night. So neither group came near the other all night long.

As Christians, we should be very distinctive in where we are in Jesus Christ. When He tells us to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-13), He also becomes our protector when we remain obedient to Him. Those who are disobedient to The Lord will see darkness, which is allowed in my God. Those who live in darkness are often stumbling around, while God protects and preserves those who are in the light. You can “see” what is going on in your life.

Proverbs 13:9
The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is put out.

Your light shines because of your righteousness through Jesus Christ.

Exodus 27:20-21
20 “You are to command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. 21 In the tent of meeting outside the veil that is in front of the testimony, Aaron and his sons are to tend the lamp from evening until morning before the Lord. This is to be a permanent statute for the Israelites throughout their generations.

We are to shine brightly for Jesus Christ. We are not forced to do this, for it remains a choice. You have to be willing to walk in the light, for the world loves darkness. The world has conditioned us to live more in darkness, and we need to focus on those matters that keep us in the light. God wants you to shine for Him as you are representing Him. You also need to have the desire to be kept by God in this way.

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

God gives good counsel and wisdom to His children as we are willing to be light for Him (Matthew 5:16). To let your light shine means that you are not ashamed of showing who you are before others–family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. People need to see the good things that you are doing for The Lord, and that He is worthy of the praise for what you do. Sometimes, we need to make sacrifices in how we do things in order for your light to shine. People will see that you are being enabled by God in what you are accomplishing. It’s not about praise for you, but for the praise of our Heavenly Father.

We are to set the standards and the example when we live in the light for the world. Let your light shine continuously before others, and watch how God will work through you in reaching others for Jesus Christ.