Tag Archives: glory

Remembering History (Family Series cont’d)

Today’s message summary of February 26, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A true measure of a person is how one stands during the time of a crisis.  Will people stand for the Lord, or not?

History is important to remember and understand.  What we experience in our past will help in dealing with future events.  It is important to look upon where you came from, but even important to see God’s fingerprints throughout your life and how He has kept you.  You should be able to see where God has moved in your life.

Proverbs 23:10

Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless.

 

There are markers throughout life that need to remain in place as reminders as to who God was at that time and to see His work.

Young children would ask mothers, fathers and grandparents, “Why is there segregation?” “Why is their racial discrimination?”  Sometimes, because a child was too young to understands, the answer would be, “That’s the way it is!” and to avoid trouble or not get in the way.

Dr. Martin Luther King inspired many people to take a different view…to get in the way and even into trouble.  He encouraged people to get active for the cause of freedom, but there were also times when it was best to speak up.  He wanted people to believe that change was possible, even with the society of his time.  This is still true today.  Change is possible even with the difficulty that many experience today (drugs, murder and lack of education).

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

In the midst of difficulty, we are to look for how God will act, and He reminds us to put the interests of others before yourself.

Life is not just about you.

It is OK to suffer as you recognize that you are becoming more like Jesus Christ.  God wants you to see Him in the midst of all of this.

If you really study Martin Luther King, you would see that his life was about those that he served.

In his life story, he certainly had his faults, but he also noted when he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  God will use a person who is much less than perfect to accomplish His will and for His glory.  He used King to proclaim a dream for others during his time that others could not see.

King entered Morehouse College at age 15.  One of his heroes was Mordecai Johnson, President of Howard University.  He would read his speeches and studied him.  This was how he learned about speech and how to speak.  He heard Dr. Johnson say, “In the midst of death, life persists.  In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

John 1:4-5

Life was in Him (Jesus Christ), and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

 

From the words of Dr. Johnson came the inspiration for Dr. King as he prepared to enter the seminary.  He said, “We are going to change this nation.”

Young people, are you looking for ways to do better than your parents or grandparents ever did?  Are you looking to go to greater heights to overcome your family history?  What matters most is what you set out to accomplish.  What are your goals?  Study your own family history to avoid the pitfalls.  It is wise to choose the ones in your family, or even outside of your family, that will provide wise counsel.  When you want to learn, God will put someone in your path to help you.

When looking at life in the present, history shows us what needs to be changed in order to do well in the future.

Stephen’s speech is a history lesson (Acts 7).  We learn how Stephen demonstrates his measure of being a man who takes a stand for Jesus Christ.  He asks for an audience, which is made up of people who are both younger and older than he is (Acts 7:2).

First, he spoke about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was the father of the twelve patriarchs (tribes).  He then spoke about Joseph, who was forgotten, and also Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon.  Stephen brings his audience to a place of recognizing their history and facing it.  The people were just like their ancestors–they resisted God.

Acts 7:51-53

You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.

 

All cultures should be aware of their history…both the good and the bad things.

Paul shares his history as a Jew, and how he became a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-8).

Paul also shares another history when he became an apostle (Galatians 1:11-18).

It is from these two experiences that make Paul the person that he was, and from this it is hoped that you can see that reviewing your own history is also helpful and provides perspective on the wonders of God in your own life.

History tells us that God had a hand on this country through very difficult and trying times.

God has given you a history.  God has given this country a history.  In both instances, there are things to be proud of, and some that bring shame and regret.  These things are still to be reckoned with and acknowledged in order to see how to avoid mistakes of the past and imitate those things that are good and proclaim God’s glory and presence.  We learn from our past to know how to live our future in Jesus Christ, and to please Him in your service.  God uses people who are visionaries to accomplish His will.

Like Stephen and Paul, if a person worries about personal safety and status, they will accomplish nothing.

Dr. King was an idealist and a visionary.  He transcended race, ethnicity, nationality and politics. He talked with those of little education as well as those with graduate degrees.  He walked with everyone. His faith in Jesus prevailed over fear and uncertainty, fatigue and depression.  He stood in the gap for our nation.

Ezekiel 22:30

I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

 

As far as this church, and its future, is concerned, it is much more than just a black church, or a mixed ethnicity church, or a church of people with different backgrounds.  It is a church of people who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.


Your IMAGE, A PACT and Finding Your PASSION

Today’s message of January 29, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

We have been spending time over the past few months in Sunday school studying the act of discipleship.  Discipleship involves the ability to communicate the gospel effectively to those who desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and also to be able to come alongside those who are believers in Jesus with encouragement, instruction and accountability.  Both of these actions are Spirit-driven through both your desire to serve Jesus and through the enabling and guiding power of the Holy Spirit.

Your ability to serve requires preparation, including preparatory study, and this involves the practice of living daily in God’s IMAGE.

Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.

Being created in the likeness of God is a big deal! We are the highest honor of His creation, and we were created to be in the family of Jesus Christ, who is also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4):

Hebrews 1:1-3 HCSB

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With this in mind, living in His IMAGE is a great responsibility! To live in His IMAGE is to live in a Christlike manner according to His will, His purpose and His glory!

Romans 12:2 HCSB

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

1 Peter 2:15 ESV

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Romans 8:28-29 HCSB

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Galatians 3:26 ESV

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

The word “IMAGE” is an acronym of the characteristics of a believer of Jesus Christ living a Christlike existence:

  • The letter “I” is to investigate Scripture, which is more than just reading the bible. It’s digging deep into the Word.
  • The letter “M” is to meditate on His Word in prayer.
  • The letter “A” is to act on His word in consistency and with obedience.
  • The letter “G” is to grow in your faith and mature as the Holy Spirit continues to impart wisdom and knowledge along with your life experiences.
  • The letter “E” is to endure life’s moments and shine before others to glorify God.

Another aspect of growing as an effective disciple for Jesus Christ incorporates this past year’s introduction of effective decision-making as a believer.  It involves making a PACT with Jesus Christ.  It is a commitment to make the best life choices in obedience to honor God and cherish His Word.

The word “PACT” is an acronym for how to be an effective decision-maker as you live for Jesus Christ:

  • The letter “P” is for prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • The letter “A” is to ask God for wisdom within your decision-making (Matthew 7:7-8).
  • The letter “C” is to consult others who can offer their own good advice or wisdom to you before you make decisions. God puts people in your life for this very purpose.
  • The letter “T” is to trust in Jesus to provide you with the best advice as you make your decisions.

Making the right decisions in life will help you to remain consistently obedient to Jesus Christ, and in this process, the Spirit will help you to conform to living as Jesus desires for you to live.  It helps you to go beyond what only the world, or even the flesh, offers.

Matthew 5:43-48 HCSB

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These principles are all reinforced with Scripture, and the effort of preparation makes for better practitioners as servants of Jesus Christ.  He provides us with the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and effort that we need to be successful.

Your preparation is very, very important in the process of growth and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the same way that an athlete has to undergo training in order to participate at a high level in a sport, and just as we need to have a healthy diet and exercise to take care of our own bodies, we must prepare to serve Christ in order to be at our best.  But there is also another important reason why we prepare to be effective practitioners of discipleship…the ongoing preparation should also provide you with a greater insight into the character of God and an even greater desire, as you learn more about Him, to serve Him in everything that you do.

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Serving Jesus Christ is not a hobby.  It is a full-time endeavor.

Serving Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of your participation in His Great Commission.

Serving Jesus Christ is an expression of your love for Him and your desire to bring everything you learn about Him into everything that you do.

Your preparation of participation in ministry for Christ should be an ongoing process that reveals to you how you are capable of serving Him.  There is much to learn about Him, and you will find that there is much to learn about yourself, too.  As you get to know more about Jesus Christ, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit molds and shapes you into a better “you” in Christ.  It is as this occurs that you get to know more of who you really are in Christ.  This is much better than who you are in the flesh, or who you thought you were before and ever after you accepted Christ as your personal Savior.  It is the Spirit’s sanctifying power that reveals His wisdom and knowledge about yourself and who you are in Christ.

Until you learn who you are in Jesus Christ, you will always be searching for something.  But once you learn who you are, you will find your purpose in Jesus Christ.  You will be compelled to live openly and actively for Christ.  You will find your passion in Jesus Christ.

For those listening that are still uncertain about all of this devotion over Jesus Christ, it is important for you to know and understand that Jesus Christ lived on this earth and gave His life for you.  He paid the ultimate price to sacrifice Himself because He loved you.  He demonstrated, through His death on the cross, that He loves you.  He showed that He is passionate about you.

John 3:16-17 ESV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So what this is all about is how you, in learning more about Jesus Christ, recognize the passion of living for Jesus Christ that He has for you.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, which is your spiritual worship.

What are you passionate about?  What do you really, really care about?

If you are seeking Jesus Christ, you will eventually learn what you are passionate about. You will find that there are things that you like to do, and things that you like to do more than other things, but following Christ will reveal your passion for Christ.

Your passion is rooted by your gifts.  Your gifts consist of your God-given gifted talents and your spiritual gifts if you have declared Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Let’s be clear about something here…you can have all kinds of God-given talent and even spiritual gifts and still not realize your passion.  You have to use these talents and gifts with the understanding that God has given them to you, and that you want to serve Him with all of your heart and soul.  Only then will you get this passion thing down pat.

Without this passion, you’re not really living your life in the way that God would like to see you live it.  Sure, you’re doing more than existing, but not much more than that.  There are people that you love and care for, help and give of yourself, and you can even go your entire life in church serving others; however, you can still be unsatisfied with the direction of your life.  Ask yourself this question:  How can I live the abundant life that God promises for me?

John 10:10 HCSB

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

You can live the abundant life with passion by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You can live the abundant life with passion by “presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

You can live the abundant life of passion by humbling yourself before God and allowing yourself to be teachable.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

If you make the effort to seek God, He will affirm your efforts.  Sometimes the blessings come when you take the steps to live for Him.

Living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus, and discovering passion as you live out your life purpose.  There can be nothing more fulfilling than when you learn your passion as you live for Jesus Christ.

In this new year, make it a personal commitment to discover your passion.  Jesus Christ wants to see you live the abundant life!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Revelation: The Sixth Seal

Today’s message summary of March 6, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for man to come to a place of surrender and repentance. What does God have to allow in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness and surrender?

In Revelation Chapter 9, the first woe has passed, and there are two more to come.

Revelation 9:12-17

The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this. The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the gold altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was 200 million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses in my vision: The horseman had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

God has appointed this time here, and he appoints times for things to occur in our own lives. He operates with precision.

These angels that were used are likely fallen angels, because they were bound to be released at this time to fulfill God’s purpose. The population of the earth was still growing at this time.

Revelation 9:18-19

A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues–by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads, and they inflict injury with them.

The fire, smoke and sulfur was inflicted through the mouths of the creatures. It may be in the form of gunpowder, insecticides and sulfuric acid. These are demonic spirits that are being released, and their mouths have this power.

We need to be clear that teaching is very important. The Holy Spirit is who enables a person to teach under the blood of Christ. Anything that we would do on our own needs to be suppressed under the power of Christ. God’s Word has healing power in the mind of a person who desires to seek Him.

If you are not being taught under the power of Christ, you absolutely need to believe that there is demonic teaching and influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

Sin creates hardened hearts and stubbornness. It causes people to withdraw from God. Satan tries to stop people from even our own witnessing in our own homes. We are to pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overpower Satanic or demonic influence in the lives of others.

Are you praying that God opens the eyes of those who are not following God? They very well may have received incorrect instruction and need to be guided gently to the truth. Are you taking the steps needed to pray for those who need improvement in their life?

Those that choose not to repent create man-made gods. It breeds idolatry and man-made philosophies.

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Hosea 13:2

Now they continue to sin and make themselves a cast image, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. People say about them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”

After all is said and done, only God Himself can break through the strongholds of sin in a person’s life. God is the One who sets up and takes down. We as servants live for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Psalm 2:8

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.

 


The Fifth Seal

Today’s message summary of November 1, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

 

John was taken from his earthly plain to a heavenly plain in order to gain greater understanding.

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less, Edward Mote (1797-1874)

 

If you are trusting in anything else other than Jesus Christ, all you are standing on is sinking sand. If you believe in Him, you will indeed live it out.

The Fifth Seal demonstrates how each of us is to live. It is how we are to stand for Jesus and learn more about this as we go along. As long as there is a lack of knowledge of who He is, it is difficult, if not impossible, to truly stand for Him.

With the Fifth Seal, John is taken to see heavenly visions. There is neither horse nor ruler mentioned. He is taken up in order to see what is taking place in heaven with Jesus and His faithful followers.

John sees the souls of the slain under the altar. There is a good chance that many of our young people may grow to see the times when people are being killed because of the gospel. Today, we have seen how a football coach was suspended for praying with his team after a game. A woman was jailed for her conviction about not granting licenses for gay marriages. This is just the beginning today.

The Fifth Seal is about how we are to live here on earth now.

2 Timothy 1:12

…and this is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

 

The people that John saw under the altar knew what they had lived for and knew who they had died for. They did not waver in their belief and stood firm before losing their lives.

Romans 4:20-21

He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

 

Are you fully persuaded as to God’s promises for you? Are you persuaded that God is able to protect your soul?

Are you confident in the One you believe in? Is your faith anchored to Him?

Romans 14:5

One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.

 

Colossians 4:12

Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills.

 

Are you fully assured in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your only God?

I’m praying that this church is fully assured in who Jesus Christ is and believes only in Him. You are called to reverence Him and not a pastor or group of people.

Are you taking a stand against those things that are against God’s Word?

At what point are you willing to take such a stand?

The slain chose to take a stand against the religion of the false prophet.

Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group based upon their religious beliefs or affiliation, or lack thereof.

Persecution is certainly not new, but there will be a greater presence of it because of the opposition of Satan and of the Antichrist.

Persecution tests a person’s belief system–how one views himself and others, one’s morality, attitude and worldview. The Antichrist will be out to change how people see life in order to get them to worship him. If a person does not comply, he will have the person killed.

Those who are firm in Christ will stand firm in Him.

Persecution is to bring about reform. It creates an environment for change of belief. Some will say “no” because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

In 2014, over 165,000 Christians lost their lives because of their faith, and the number will be growing each year.

Matthew 5:10-12

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. “You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Philippians 1:20-26

My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I dont know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christwhich is far betterbut to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

 

Be prayerful that God gives you the courage to stand before those who oppose you and to believe in His Word as you read it. Be prayerful that Christ is glorified.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and be at home with the Lord.

 

John saw the souls of the slain. What this meant to him…

  1. There was no more hunger
  2. There were no more challenges of one’s faith
  3. There was no more mental torment or fear.
  4. There was no more witnessing.

They died because of…

  1. The Word of God
  2. The testimony that they maintained. They would not renounce Him.

In those days, there will be no such thing as a “secret believer.” The testimony will be evident before everyone.

Mark 4:17

But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble.

 

Many will quickly fall away because there is no firm commitment and belief in Jesus Christ.

Paul talked and debated with his opposition, and they tried to kill him.

Acts 9:29

He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they attempted to kill him.

 

We are to endure the persecution and stand for Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12

Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless; we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.

 

The Word of God is never chained or silent.

2 Timothy 2:8-9

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound.

 

Matthew 10:17-21, 35-36

Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death.

For I came to turn

a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

and a man’s enemies will be

the members of his household.

 

Matthew 24:9-14

Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

 

John 16:1-2

“I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling. They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God.”

 

Knowing that there is a purpose in persecution of those who believe, it is necessary to know what and who you believe in, and to stand firm in Jesus Christ.


The Fourth Seal: Death & Hades

Today’s message summary of October 25, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 6:7-8

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come! And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. The horseman on it was named Death, and Hades was following after him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.

Death is coming eventually.  It is comes in many different ways, but God is greater than death.

Jeremiah 14:14-17

But the Lord said to me, These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, though I did not send them, and who say, There will never be sword or famine in this land. By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end. The people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be no one to bury themthey, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will pour out their own evil on them. You are to speak this word to them:
Let my eyes overflow with tears;
day and night may they not stop,
for the virgin daughter of my people
has been destroyed by a great disaster,
an extremely severe wound.

 

Hosea 13:12-14

Ephraims guilt is preserved;
his sin is stored up.
Labor pains come on him.
He is not a wise son;
when the time comes,
he will not be born.

I will ransom them from the power of Sheol.
I will redeem them from death.
Death, where are your barbs?
Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from My eyes.

 

People need to be able to turn the right way to the Lord in order to live.  Without the Lord, they are lost.  God will rescue those who seek Him and declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God is so close to coming back, and many do not know what to do.  Even though God has compassion for those who have sought for Him, He will show no compassion for those who do not know Him.

The pale green horse referred to in Revelation 6 is noted as a sickly color.  In the Phillips translation it uses the word “grave” instead of “Hades.”

Deuteronomy 32:34-43

Is it not stored up with Me,
sealed up in My vaults?
Vengeance
 belongs to Me; I will repay.
In time their foot will slip,
for their day of disaster is near,
and their doom is coming quickly.

The
 Lord will indeed vindicate His people
and have compassion on His servants
when He sees that their strength is gone
and no one is left
slave or free.
He will say:
Where are their gods,
the
rock they found refuge in?
Who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offerings?
Let them rise up and help you;
let it
 be a shelter for you.
See now that I alone am He;
there is no God but Me.
I bring death and I give life;
I wound and I heal.
No one can rescue anyone from My hand.
I raise My hand to heaven and declare:
As surely as I live forever,
when I sharpen My flashing sword,
and My hand takes hold of judgment,
I will take vengeance on My adversaries
and repay those who hate Me.
I will make My arrows drunk with blood
while My sword devours flesh

the blood of the slain and the captives,
the heads of the enemy leaders.

Rejoice, you nations, concerning His people,
for He will avenge the blood of His servants.
He will take vengeance on His adversaries;
He will purify His land and His people.

 

As noted in this passage, the day of the world’s disaster is coming soon.

Note that the book of Revelation is not a book of doom, but a book of revelation, salvation and how God is to be glorified in how He will keep His people.

Referring back to Revelation 6:7-8…the pale horse’s rider is Death.  Death is coming in such a way that it is unforeseen and in an unprecedented way.

The fourth seal talks about a mass death, or one-fourth of the world’s population.  In 2009, the world population was reported to be 6,783,421,727 people.  One fourth of that number would be 1.8 billion people, which is about the same number of people as in the United States and in China.

Matthew 24:22

Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.

 

It is still the time of God’s salvation.  Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2

For He says:

I heard you in an acceptable time,
and I helped you in the day of salvation.

 

Isaiah 49:8-9

This is what the Lord says:

I will answer you in a time of favor,
and I will help you in the day of salvation.
I will keep you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land,
to make them possess the desolate inheritances,
saying to the prisoners: Come out,
and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.
They will feed along the pathways,
and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.

 

The first seal represents conquest.

The second seal removed peace and men were to slay one another.

The third seal represents famine.

Death is the fourth seal.

With the seal of death following the first three seals, Revelation reflects the emergence of different types of death to be experienced by different people.

Today, death is taking place in a variety of ways that we have not seen before.

Death may come about:

  1. By the sword. The weapon of that day.  Note that the weapons of today are guns, bombs, knives, etc.
  2. By famine. People will be unable to eat–there will be no farming.  There will be food shortages.  War will destroy farmland, and there will be no one to work the land.
  3. By plague. Gangrene, infection, bacteria that ravages the body, including new diseases not previously experienced.

Because of man’s disobedience, death is naturally happening.

Revelation also notes that there will be death by wild beasts, as well.  Wild animals normally follow their own food chain, but there will be a need for food by bears, rats, bobcats, wolves, etc.  This is another way that people will experience death because of disobedience.  God will give correction and grab the attention of others who are witnesses.

Ezekiel 14:21

For this is what the Lord God says: How much worse will it be when I send My four devastating judgments against Jerusalemsword, famine, dangerous animals, and plaguein order to wipe out both man and animal from it!

 

Leviticus 26:23-24

If in spite of these things you do not accept My discipline, but act with hostility toward Me,  then I will act with hostility toward you; I also will strike you seven times for your sins.

 

Christians at that time will also experience death in this same way, but God is able to rescue them from the grave!

In Revelation Chapter 6, Hades follows death.  Hades refers to the grave, which is not a place of punishment or torment.  While the body goes to the grave:

2 Corinthians 5:7-9

For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.

 

Philippians 1:21-24

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I dont know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christwhich is far betterbut to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

 

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me. Selah

 

Revelation 1:17-18

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Dont be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but lookI am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.

 

Who is in control of it all?  God is.

Job 19:25-27

But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last,
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.

I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.


Grace and Peace from a Triune God

Today’s message summary of September 27, 2015 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Revelation 1:1-7

The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw. The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near! John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him, And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.

 

When it comes to greetings, such as those cards you purchase at the store, you will have funny greetings or serious ones. Greetings have a particular way of communicating one’s emotion.

Here is my greeting to you–it’s a happy Sunday morning greeting, which is the Lord’s greeting:

Within the text here, John is giving a greeting to the seven churches. This type of greeting to them was a means of comfort to the churches as they were facing a great deal of persecution. Of this group, Jewish Christians were not provided any protection under religious liberty.

Revelation 2:9

I know your affliction and poverty, yet you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 

Christians were being slaughtered at that time like animals. Under the Roman Empire, it is estimated that about 500,000 people were killed for their faith.

The persecution that those churches faces was wearisome, frightful and filled with despair. They needed to hear a message, through John’s greeting, from God Himself.

The persecution is being dictated by Satan himself as he is the ruler of this world. He is attacking today’s church in the same way that the attacks persisted on the seven churches.

As time progresses, Christians will see more persecution, and attacks will continue against the church. It will be a part of our culture today as “life in America,” as it was during the Roman Empire. Satan will continue to attack to cause a church to fall away and sin against God.

John’s greeting was a means of encouragement of God’s grace and peace. It is what sustains us as a church and as a means of overcoming persecution. He is writing the greeting to let them know that the sovereign God is working and that He will be glorified through the church. It was a way to counter the thought that God is nowhere to be found. John greets them with the message of grace, peace and comfort.

Look at the language that John uses in verse 4: John says, “from Him who is, who was, and who is coming…” He uses this language to remind us that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is working throughout the church. He is trying to comfort the church, who is always present and will remain present. God is sovereign, and by His providence He is working out all of the things we experience for our good and for His glory.

We can endure the difficult times when we face them because we trust in God’s grace and peace.

Find comfort knowing that God is sovereign in his control over all things.

Notice how he uses the number “7” in the text. Seven is the symbolic number for “completion.” In Revelation, the many uses of seven represent completion of something. The seven spirits who are before God’s throne represent God, the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 2:3

You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary.

 

Revelation 2:7

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.

 

Jesus said “let them hear” seven times. This means that what He states is assured and definitive.

Notice in verse 5 how Jesus is identified with three titles:

  1. The faithful witness
  2. Firstborn from the dead
  3. Ruler of the kings of the earth

The faithful witness reference is for those who were martyred for Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 11, the two witnesses before God were killed for their faith in Him.

Jesus is the faithful witness that did so during His life. He did so during His own life in which He stirred people up to the point that they wanted to seize Him, throw Him over a cliff, and He eventually died on the cross. He was a faithful witness in order that all would see and understand God the Father.

Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, and He was raised as the firstborn from the dead. He promises that those who believe in Him will overcome death.

2 Timothy 2:10

This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 

Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth.

John declared to the churches that there is Someone over the Emperor, who made the declaration to have all Christians eliminated.

Any illustration in history of dictatorships or any rulers still does not represent them being over and above the rule of Jesus Christ. It is important to remember that Christ is the One that allows any ruler to come to power. John is telling the churches here to look at the King of Kings and reminds them that Jesus is still on the throne.

Jesus’ atoning love is the anchor of the church (v. 6).

The church is to endure because of the presence of God’s love for the church and its people. We are to endure because He loves His church. Christ has made us His kingdom. We, today, as members of the body of Christ, are part of His kingdom.

John tells the churches that He is returning with the clouds (v. 7).

The clouds are a representation of God’s glory for everyone to see. When God comes back, the people of Babylon will cry out to the mountains to fall on them because they will see His glory at His return.

The Lord is coming. When He returns, He will pay every good or bad deed with its reward.

Judgment does not come from Satan–it comes from the Lord. Since it comes from the Lord, all non-believers in Him will face judgment and torment. If you don’t obey the gospel and believe in the Son, you will go to hell.

What is being said you may deem irrelevant and that it does not apply to you, and that you don’t care about those who are being persecuted. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is still called to stand on the grace and peace of God.


Starting the New Year with Jesus Christ

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

We have bright hopes for tomorrow because of Jesus Christ.

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

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

Isaiah 43:1

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

 

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

Isaiah 43:2

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

 

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

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

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

Isaiah 43:7

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

 

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

Isaiah 43:10

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

 

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

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

Isaiah 43:18

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

 

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

Isaiah 43:19

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

 

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

Philippians 3:12-15

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

 

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