Tag Archives: God’s love

God’s Involvement with His Creation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Last week, we spoke about God’s plan for His creation and His involvement.  We discussed that His creation was for each of us.  He is the One who performs miracles for His people.

God makes Himself evident to His people through his miracles.  God comes to us, and He always has historically come to His people.  We are unable to go to him in our state of sin.  He must provide the path of fellowship for us, including a desire to seek Him.  Because He loved us, He wants us to have the desire to love Him.

God was involved with His people from the very beginning–at the time of creation.  His desire was to reveal Himself through Jesus Christ.

John 14:7

Jesus Reveals the Father

“If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

The word “magnify” is to reveal oneself in a very practical way.  God has indeed revealed Himself and magnified Himself.  It is God’s desire to be involved with us–do we have the desire to be involved with Him?

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her: 

Do not be afraid, Mary,

for you have found favor with God.

31 Now listen:

You will conceive and give birth to a son,

and you will call His name Jesus.

32 He will be great

and will be called the Son of the Most High,

and the Lord God will give Him

the throne of His father David.

33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,

and His kingdom will have no end.

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

 

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Therefore, the holy One to be born

will be called the Son of God.

36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

 

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Shekinah glory – this is a word that was brought into the Hebrew language and developed over time.  It speaks of the manifestation of God’s glory.

God walked in the garden with Adam.  He made Himself evident to Adam, and note that Jesus did the same thing when He came to minister to His people and declare that He was the Messiah.

God will never leave us nor forsake us, but He must deal with our sin each day.  Sin causes a broken fellowship with Him.  He will not magnify Himself with us in the midst of a broken relationship.

Exodus 40:34-38

The Lord’s Glory

34 The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.

The glory of The Lord filled the tabernacle.  The cloud represents God’s glory.

God spoke to Moses from the tabernacle and speaks with Moses and the people.

Solomon, many years later, built the temple that replaced the tabernacle.  God would speak to His people from there, where the Ark of the Covenant was located.

2 Chronicles 5:13-14

13 The trumpeters and singers joined together to praise and thank the Lord with one voice. They raised their voices, accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and musical instruments, in praise to the Lord:

For He is good;

His faithful love endures forever.

The temple, the Lord’s temple, was filled with a cloud. 14 And because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled God’s temple.

The cloud is God’s shekinah glory.

God with Adam

God with the tabernacle

God with the temple

God is demonstrating that He wanted to have a relationship with His people.

After the temple was destroyed, it was rebuilt around 515 B.C.  The glory of God returned to the temple even greater than in the past, and note that Jesus spoke to the people from that very temple.  God sent His son to be involved in our lives.  God’s glory and presence is there.  The shekinah glory is the very presence of the living God.

Shekinah is a resting place in God’s presence.

Titus 2:11

For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people.

1 Timothy 3:16

And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated in the Spirit,

seen by angels,

preached among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.

He was manifested in the flesh–he appeared in the flesh.  This is a form of God’s shekinah glory.

In Luke 1:31, note the declaration of Jesus’ name represents Jehovah saves–He delivers–He saves us from our sins.  God is involved in our lives through His Son, Jesus.  It is a great and glorious name.  All throughout the world, the name of Jesus is known.  The name is from the Greek word Yeshua , which means that He will save His people from their sin.

Matthew 1:18-23

The Nativity of the Messiah

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant

and give birth to a son,

and they will name Him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

In Luke 1:33, it is noted that Jesus will rule over the house of Jacob…why?  The meaning of Israel means “to contend with” or “to wrestle with.”  If you look at Israel, they were often fighting with enemies, and often they were at odds with God.  God was trying to communicate that there was no more wrestling or fighting with Jacob.  In the same way, Jesus Christ was declaring that He was no longer wrestling with His people.  God has a standard that His people have continually struggled with.

Genesis 32:24-34

Jacob Wrestles with God

24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. 26 Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.”

27 “What is your name?” the man asked.

“Jacob,” he replied.

28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” He said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.”

But He answered, “Why do you ask My name?” And He blessed him there.

30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered.” 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip. 32 That is why, to this day, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because He struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.

The word “Jacob” means “to take by the heel” (Genesis 25:26).  The word means to supplant, or take the place of something.  Lord, are you saying that Jesus will take the place of the God of this world?  Are you saying that Jesus is the God we are to follow after instead of the God of this world?  Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophesy stated in Genesis 3:15:

Genesis 3:15

I will put hostility between you and the woman,

and between your seed and her seed.

He will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.

The story of Christmas being shared is much deeper than what we know about each year.  The story is really the fulfillment of God’s promise that He will always be with us.  The story is the understanding of the depth of meaning with God’s presence–everyday in our lives.  He came to us while we were yet sinners to draw us near to Himself.

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The Prince of Peace

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

In order to win friends and influence people, you need to be friendly, courteous, and good-natured.  It is much more difficult to convey friendliness when you are mean-spirited.  Your messages to others are best received when there is an underlying calm instead of those delivered with nervousness and tension.  It’s true that words used that are normally perceived as being courteous can have their meaning changed if they are spoken with forcefulness and with a negative intensity.  In order to have a positive influence on others, you need to show yourself as peaceful and approachable.  True, effective leadership rules with love and not with tyranny.

Jesus came to earth because He loved His greatest creation—mankind.  He wanted to reach them and culminate His plan of salvation and create the opportunity for everyone to have fellowship with Him for all eternity.  He would do so with His message of love and peace.

Luke 2:10-14

10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!

His plan was to bring peace to those persons that recognized Him as Lord and Savior.  This is exactly what the gospel message is all about.

Fast forward to just a week before Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion, He was traveling with His disciples to Jerusalem at the culmination of His ministry on earth.  One of His comments as He approached Jerusalem, the main city of the Israelites, reflected His love for the Jewish people, the chosen nation, and at the same time His frustration with the people because of their inability to recognize who He was to them—their Savior of peace.

Luke 19:41-42

41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

His entry into Jerusalem in what we recognize today as the celebration of Palm Sunday.  It was a day of great celebration for the people who acknowledged Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah—the Savior of their people; yet, Jesus lamented that those who saw Him yet chose to ignore Him as the Messiah were already suffering from spiritual blindness.

Isaiah had already made the same declaration about Israel in the midst of His prophecy of Jesus’ coming.

Isaiah 42:18-22

18 “Listen, you deaf!
Look, you blind, so that you may see.
19 Who is blind but My servant,
or deaf like My messenger I am sending?
Who is blind like My dedicated one,
or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 Though seeing many things, you do not obey.
Though his ears are open, he does not listen.”

21 The Lord was pleased, because of His righteousness,
to magnify His instruction and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
all of them trapped in holes
or imprisoned in dungeons.
They have become plunder
with no one to rescue them
and loot, with no one saying, “Give it back!”

Note Jesus’ words to the physically blind man who had previously spoken to the Pharisees about Jesus’ healing power, and the response of the Pharisees:

John 9:35-41

35 When Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, He found him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” he asked.

37 Jesus answered, “You have seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.”

38 “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped Him.

39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.”

40 Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and asked Him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?”

41 “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see’—your sin remains.

In spite of Israel’s continual inability to maintain a relationship with God all throughout their history and even see the true Messiah with their very eyes, Jesus still declared His love for His people.  He came to them in peace because He knew that those who would follow Him would do so with His message of peace.  He also knew that those who would not accept Him would cause division.

Luke 12:49-54

49 “I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it consumes Me until it is finished! 51 Do you think that I came here to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided: three against two, and two against three.

53 They will be divided, father against son,
son against father,
mother against daughter,
daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law,
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus came to us in peace, but the results of His ministry were anything but peaceful.  He reached many people with His message of peace beyond human understanding, and he also brought change that stirred the people towards a true worship and fellowship with God—much to the consternation of the Jewish religious leadership.

Matthew 21:1-11

1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”

This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
(Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9)

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
(Psalm 118:25-26)

10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

There are several items of note to consider with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

1.  The donkey

Jesus chose the donkey because it was a humble way to enter the city.  It was an Eastern tradition that the donkey was an animal of peace.  Most kings or noblemen used horses in the day, which symbolically represented a declaration or presence of war.  The donkey was more of a communication that Jesus came in peace with a message of peace.  He came as the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor,
 Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
 Prince of Peace.

2.  The clothing and the palm branches

In many lands in the ancient Eastern region, it was customary to cover the path of someone who was worthy of honor.  This honor was bestowed upon Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, in 2 Kings 9:13.  In Jesus’ case, there were people putting their clothing on the ground along with cut palm branches (from the Greek word phoinix).  There was an existing Jewish tradition—the Feast of Tabernacles—that involved the use of palm branches as part of the celebration (Leviticus 23:40).

In Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, the palm branch was also viewed as a symbol of victory and triumph.  In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions as a representation of eternal life.  It later became a symbol of Christian martyrdom as a symbol of spiritual victory over death.  Take a look at Revelation 7:9 for another significant use of palm branches:

Revelation 7:9

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.

Jesus entered the city with humility and the people responded to Him as royalty.  Imagine His presence with the showering of clothing and palms with the joyous shouts of the people.  What a glorious moment it must have been for the people!  It was a celebration, and He was the reason for the celebration.

3.  The use of the word “Hosanna”

Hosanna comes from the use of similar words in both Greek and Hebrew to mean “save” or “rescue” (possibly “Savior”).

Psalm 118:25

Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!

Mark 11:8-10

Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting:

Hosanna!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
10 The coming kingdom
of our father David
 is blessed!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

The people who saw Jesus were making a public declaration—with a loud shout—that He was the Messiah that brought salvation to their people.  He was the provision, and it would be less than a week from that time when Jesus was the One who would sacrifice Himself for their sin in order to them to receive eternal life.  He was the Lamb without blemish who was slain for all of us.

John 3:16-17

16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

When we look at Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week, let us remember the symbolic significance of the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the very nature of who Jesus is to each of us and how much He gave to us:

  • The One who loves His people unconditionally
  • His example of humility
  • His deity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (clothing dropped before Him)
  • The representation of eternal life (the palm branches)
  • His presence of peace that surpasses all understanding

John 14:27

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

In a few short days, the joyful celebration experienced that day would be a distant memory because of the shocking development when Jesus went to the cross.  No one, at that time, would understand why it happened or that it even had to happen the way it did, but we all know today that it had to happen in order for Him to provide salvation from our sins.  His holiness, through the sacrificial blood of Christ, covers our sins.  He saves His people.  It all started with how Jesus loved us, and He still loves us—each and every one of us.  It is a reason to celebrate Jesus Christ for everything He has done for us.  Hosanna in the highest!

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


The Truth About Free Sex and the Gay Lifestyle

There are boundaries that God has placed around sex; unfortunately, we are well aware that there are many that have circumvented or ignored those boundaries. Sex is only permitted within marriage and between a man and a woman (husband and wife) (Hebrews 13:4). Sex of all types outside of marriage has contributed greatly to the destruction of families, our society, and even our nation. For those of us in a position to act and respond to what occurs around us, a decision must be made to support what is right and make a declaration when things are wrong. Unfortunately, Christians are often silent or quiet about lifestyle matters, especially pertaining to sex, with the false belief that we are not to speak the truth out of fear of offending someone. There is a tactful way to relate the truth, but we must remember that it is always God’s Word and its truth that challenges and convicts the hearts of men and women.

Homosexuality is sin in the same way that adultery is sin and fornication is sin. One cannot take a position that adultery is acceptable while condemning homosexuality. In all of these situations, sexual sins take an emotional toll on both the perpetrators and their families and relatives.

In all of these cases, a choice has to be made as to whether or not one is to live a sinful lifestyle. What you do sexually, with your body, is ultimately a choice. There are claims that some have made, in an effort to justify these lifestyle choices, where comparisons to lifestyle are made with civil rights. These claims are ultimately unfounded because one cannot choose what race he or she is born into, while lifestyles are clearly a matter of choice.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are fearless at mixing beer, who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of justice. Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes straw and as dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will become like something rotten and their blossoms will blow away like dust, for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of Hosts, and they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:20-24).

The term “homosexual” is derived from Latin to mean “human being” and the Greek word homos, meaning “same.” Homosexuality was, at one time, perceived as a clinical illness or disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. This term is not well accepted today because of its implication of being a disorder, yet it is a sin that can be covered with forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this alternate lifestyle has been introduced as acceptable in today’s society. Many have embraced this behavior as a means of expression and justification to participate in both heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, which refers to the acronym, LGBT).

The preference today is to use the term “gay” for the homosexual movement. It is an extension of being “carefree,” implying uninhibited behavior without any moral constraints. All of this behavior is rooted in sexual pleasure, which, in this form, is completely contrary to God’s Word and his intention for the enjoyment of sex. To participate in gay and lesbian sexual behavior indicates a willingness of its participants to disregard conventional or sexual morality, even the welfare of one’s family or our society. Note that, from a traditional perspective, it was well understood that behavior, such as adultery or homosexuality, was never tolerated and was even punishable to extremes. It was more than just being outside of God’s law…it was also because of the magnitude of the damage that could occur within the family and community.

It is important to note that one can call themselves “religious” and still participate in an alternative lifestyle. This way of thinking has been pervasive within today’s church, as there are many in leadership that have declared to live openly about their sexual lifestyles. This type of leadership implies that God permits gay lifestyles as acceptable within the congregation and within the body of Christ. Those in leadership who live this way are leading others in a deceitful way and are sending the wrong message to those who lack experience with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has reserved His divine judgment for those in leadership that live contrary to the Scriptures (regardless of whether it is adultery or an alternative lifestyle):

Among the prophets of Jerusalem also I saw a horrible thing: They commit adultery and walk in lies. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, and none turns his back on evil. They are all like Sodom to Me; Jerusalem’s residents are like Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:14).

Pew Research notes that 4 in 10 black Protestant churches accept homosexuality as a way of life. Many Christians have concluded that the gay lifestyle should be deemed acceptable by society. As the biblical viewpoint is removed from this debate, there will be less and less opposition and a greater acceptance of this issue. Pastor E. Lynn Harris, author of Invisible Life, was asked about being gay and Christian. He responded with deep conviction, “I see no contradiction between my sexual orientation and my faith.” This rather common response to gay behavior and Christianity are evident in that God’s Word has been fully compromised and is clearly not being addressed. Homosexual sex was condemned according to the law (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), and God judged Sodom and Gomorrah because there were none righteous in those cities and they performed wicked acts of homosexuality. In the New Testament, those who repented of their sin, including homosexuality (Romans 1:27), were covered by God’s grace under the saving blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Those who chose to turn from God were condemning themselves (Romans 1:28-29; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Our position as believers remains important in that we are to love those who are in sin, and yet hate the sin itself. We have to make a decision as to who we are to obey.

But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19).

And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness” (Romans 1:28-29a).

God’s Word has clearly established boundaries as to how one is to live in holiness. How we live ultimately is a choice. We can choose to acknowledge God’s Word or cast it aside. God notes that there is a consequence for not paying attention to those boundaries that He has established.

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” (1 John 4:7-8).  This Scripture notes that God loves everyone, even though there may be sin present in their lives (which is also why believers in Jesus Christ are to love those with sin in their lives in the same manner). Through the grace and kindness that God has shown each of us, we have the ability to repent and turn from our sins. God reveals His love to us through His forgiveness of sin, which promotes our healing. Just as we choose how we live of lives, it is also our choice to acknowledge God’s Word, His faithfulness, and His promises, and respond accordingly.


God’s Message and Ministry of Reconciliation

God has a message for all of us when it comes to reconciliation. To be reconciled to God means that God desires for us to have a cordial relationship with us. While we may have a sincere desire to follow and serve the Lord, we must readily admit that we are not able to have fellowship with the Lord if we are unable to make “all things new” in our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Paul had to tell the Corinthian church that even though they were in church, many of the practices of the world and in their society were still prevalent within their congregation. There was nothing that they could do to become closer to God without the love of Christ (Romans 5:8) as the catalyst for our being reconciled to God except to see that they needed the Lord and that they needed to become a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Becoming a new creation means having a heart of humility and knowing that we need to repent (turn away from) our sins, or the old ways of our lives that keep us from having a relationship with Him. God, through His grace, loves us in spite of who we are. Though we are condemned, He does not condemn us but tells us to “sin no more” (John 8:10-11). The love of Christ is what we are to show others because He loved us first in the midst of our unrighteousness, as we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). God has not counted our sins against us, but he does want us to truly turn to Him and “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He does not want us to identify with our sinful nature but present yourself as a living sacrifice for the Lord (Romans 12:1). When we see that we our reconciled to God and in fellowship with Him, we should be compelled to share the Good News with others. We, as individuals and as followers of Christ, are reconciled to Him and “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We become righteous because we recognize and appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. The evidence of our reconciliation is how we are transforming the world that we live in with the message of God’s love and grace in our words and actions.

A special thanks to Jeremiah Dukes, who is our guest speaker today. He is scheduled to graduate in May 2009 from Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, and will be traveling to China this summer teaching English as a second language. Please keep Brother Dukes in prayer for his travels and for his next areas of service in ministry!