Tag Archives: Good News

Salvation and the Church: Sent Out to Learn

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

We’re continuing with the topic of salvation and the church.  Life in the church is much more than just declaring Jesus as your personal Savior.  It is more than just sitting in church and taking things in.  It is about worshiping and serving the Lord day after day and growing more and more in your faith.  Salvation is the area where God grooms you and prepares you while giving you tests that involve experiences with places and relationships.

Remember what it is like to send your children off to school for the first time.  It is a similar experience in your faith.  There will be new and different experiences for you to see and learn from.  We are sent out to learn.

In Jesus’s time, the twelve disciples were sent out in Luke 9 and the seventy-two others are sent out in Chapter 10 of Luke.

  • The twelve are the Apostles
  • The seventy-two (some bibles refer to seventy) are disciples.
  • Both groups are sent out at different times–not together.
  • Both are given the same authority.
  • Both groups were given instructions by Jesus.
  • Both of these groups were sent out about nine months apart.

When you are being sent out to do ministry—discipling and shepherding different people—you are essentially leading and pastoring others.  You don’t need a degree to do it.  You just need a love of Jesus and the desire to share on His behalf—represent Him and act like Him.  He has given you authority to do this.  It is ultimately the responsibility of every person who declares the name of Jesus Christ.

In some ministries we share the same authority in order to achieve what God has assigned to us.  We are not to be caught up in titles.  It is all about your heart and your obedience to Jesus Christ.

For the groups’ instructions:

  • They were not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans
  • They were given a message to give to the people of Israel
  • They were commissioned to drive out demons

The message was for the people that they were familiar with.  It was a message that was the gospel—the good news about the kingdom of heaven.

Whenever you enter into ministry with Jesus Christ, you are entering a battle with the enemy.  It can be personal, or even attack your family or close friends that can attempt to draw you away from what God has called you to do.

Mark 6:12-13

So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them.

Matthew 10:7-8

“As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

To the seventy-two:

Luke 10:8

“When you enter any town, and they welcome you, eat the things set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you.’

They had to learn that a worker is worthy of His keep.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

God takes care of His people.

Matthew 10:11-13

When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave.  Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you.

Luke 9:4

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.

Luke 10:5-6

Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household. If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

They were sent out to learn that everything will not go their way, and that some people will not like them, even though they were sent among people who were similar to them.

Matthew 10:16

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.”

They were learning how to do ministry without His presence.  Jesus was their leader and they had followed Him, but now they were to go out on their own.

Jesus was there but not seen.  They learned His spiritual presence in the power of His name.

Luke 10:17

The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”

They were learning to walk by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

They were learning how to represent Jesus, and not themselves.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us.  We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Since Jesus was not with them, they had to learn to trust in more than themselves.  Two by two.  Trusting in one another.

When you trust another person, you are learning from that person as you build your relationship.  There is a development that must take place over a period of time.

Coming together into a group is only the beginning.

Staying together is a sign of progress.

Working together is success.

They had to learn that coming together was learning to work together to accomplish God’s will.

Four important lessons learned by being sent out:

  1. Jesus had to be brought into their lives and their way of thinking.

Psalm 26:2

Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind.

Lamentations 3:40

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Examine yourselves.  Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?unless you fail the test.

  1. Learn to submit to the will of Jesus. By going out and doing it. We are not just going in His will, but learn how to function within it.

Acts 17:28

For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

  1. Commit your ways to Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

  1. Learn to transmit knowledge to others.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

The twelve and the seventy-two had to deal with these four different areas of submission to Jesus Christ.  In the same manner, we have to learn how to speak to many different groups of people–different cultures and the like–in order to best communicate the gospel.  We are to submit to Jesus and do so in love in order that others can see Him in our efforts.

What we all learn from this:  Life itself will give the final examination on what you believe.

 

 

 

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Identity: Who Are You in Christ?

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Do you have an understanding of who you are? Are you still trying to figure it out? As a Christian, are you still trying to determine your identity? It is important to know who you are in Jesus Christ and gain full understanding and purpose in your very existence.

Each of us is different from the other person. You have to know who you are and what you represent. If you don’t know who you are, you will be confused about your purpose. Christianity is something that needs to be presented and portrayed in order to be seen by others. There must be a willingness to show it.

Who are you? If you know who you are, it will drive you in everything. Do you have an identity crisis as a Christian? The crisis is in not knowing who you are and in how you should live. Do you use the word “Christian” as an identity without knowing the meaning of the word?

Perhaps the greatest question to ask is, “Do you want to be a Christian and be identified as a Christian?”

To go through an identity crisis is to be uncertain about one’s feelings about himself. There is uncertainty as to issues of character, goals and origins. There is a lack of clarity in the person.

Do you really believe that God loves you, values you, and that you are born again? Do you believe that you are spiritually born again from above? Can you identify with it and know that it has happened in your life? You didn’t just mumble some words and repeat the actions of someone else…you should know if you have made a spiritual transition that cries out for God.

John 3:6-7
6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.

Romans 8:9
You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Your life should not be controlled by your sinful nature or your own rationale. Decisions you make in your life should be sound decisions that are pleasing to God and not based upon a worldly perspective.

A loss of identity will sidetrack you focus on your life’s purpose.

2 Corinthians 4:7
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.

In Greek, the word “treasure” refers to “God’s storehouse.” The clay jars represent us (who we are). The verse notes the power of God in our lives the natural events on earth. He made the deposit of this treasure within you because He is trusting you to carry out His Word in obedience.

To have identity is to be a specific person or individual; a person to claims to be what he when he is described by others.

When people look at you, do they see the likeness of Christ? Do you have identity in Jesus Christ?

Romans 8:29
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.

Israel had their share of identity problems. Even though God had gone before them and fought battles for them, at times, they desired to be like other nations, or they did not want to be confronted by God, even though they were His chosen people.

1 Samuel 8:6-7, 19-20
6 When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the Lord. 7 But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king.

19 The people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We must have a king over us. 20 Then we’ll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.”

Isaiah 30:9-11
9 They are a rebellious people,
deceptive children,
children who do not want to obey the Lord’s instruction.
10 They say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets,
“Do not prophesy the truth to us.
Tell us flattering things.
Prophesy illusions.
11 Get out of the way!
Leave the pathway.
Rid us of the Holy One of Israel.”

Christians today, who are in an identity crisis, would rather conform to the world. God calls a believer to be a peculiar and different person. He calls you to be a person who is different from the world and to live in such a way where you are responsible and godly in your behavior. Christians are to take a stand and identify with who Jesus Christ is.

To have an identity in Christ is to seek righteousness and to do the right thing.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16 NIV).

The gospel is the teachings of Jesus Christ. Salvation is the boundary that God creates to be saved (or rescued) from the dangers of this world. To identify with Jesus Christ is to accept His teaching and His guidance in your life. He wants the best for all of us, but there is a special blessing for those who truly identify with Him.


God’s Plan of Salvation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

We’re going to discuss salvation and having the knowledge as to whether or not a person knows if he or she is saved, and not because of what a person declares on their own–instead, it is a realization of what God says that you need to do to be saved. Many people claim that they are saved but yet they are not living like they are saved.

God has a plan for a person to be saved, and it is up to a person to acknowledge that it is necessary. The plan of salvation from God only comes through Jesus Christ and with the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is good news that God has provided this message to mankind. The good news that we read about in Luke 2 comes from the angel for all to hear.

Luke 2:10-11
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.

The good news here is just more than just one thing (the announcement of Christ being born). Salvation is important, but it is only the beginning. Look at salvation as a mother giving birth to a child. Salvation is a new birth and we’re just beginning to learn how to walk with God.

What is in this message of good news? The good news refers to a Savior. The Jewish word is Messiah. The good news is used when speaking about salvation. It begins the instruction given to the people concerning what is needed for salvation…how one is to live as a believer in Jesus Christ…how to live as a Christian.

The meaning of the word “news” is new information–unknown information. The phrase “good news” is evangelise–meaning the messenger of good news. To evangelize is to proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a gift unto us.

Gospel: good news /good tidings / good story
1. Teaching of Jesus
2. The story of redemption through Jesus Christ.
3. The history of the life of Jesus–from His birth through his youth and the period of life from age 29 (His baptism) through age 33 and His crucifixion.

Luke 1:34-37
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.”

Man will argue that it is not possible to be saved. A man ultimately does not determine under his own power as to his salvation. The power of the Holy Spirit is the one that moves one to recognize salvation through Jesus Christ. It requires faith and trust in the power of Christ. It means that God is speaking to you about your need for a Savior in recognition of your desire to repent from sin.

1 Corinthians 15:1-3
1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures.

Christ was born to be the Redeemer for all of us.

Acts 2:21
Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ. Man cannot save himself. It is up to each person to accept the gift of salvation. It is impossible for man, but completely possible for God.

It is truly good news that all you need to do is call on His name in order to be saved. After this, the Holy Spirit will be teaching you so much more.

Jesus says that He knows what is in the heart of a person, and He knows your sincerity. In your sincerity, if you call upon His name, He will definitely save you.

People are still caught asking the question “How can I be saved” or “I was saved once and I got saved again.” There is only one way to be saved (acknowledging that you need to repent from sin and acknoweldging that you need Jesus Christ, and you only need to do it once for your lifetime.

Many will need to take this message seriously in order to experience eternal life in Christ.

What else is in this message of good news?

Philippians 2:10-11
10 …so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is above all others. It removes all questions concerning His deity.

He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).
He is our peace with God (Romans 5:1-2; John 16:33; Philippians 3:7)
The good news reveals a joy that is not found in life. There is great joy (Luke 2:10). Also see Romans 5:2, 14:17.

It is a great joy to know that you are forever removed from the wrath of God through His salvation. In His righteousness, you are made righteous before Him because of your faith.

The good news tells us about Jesus as a Mediator.

1 Timothy 2:15
But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.

What does a mediator do for you?

1 John 2:1
My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

The good news is for all people (Luke 2:10).

Ephesians 2:11-19
11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. 12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it. 17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household.

Ephesians 3:6
The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

2 Corinthians 10:15-16
15 We are not bragging beyond measure about other people’s labors. But we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may proclaim the good news to the regions beyond you, not boasting about what has already been done in someone else’s area of ministry.


How the Risen Savior Impacts You

Today’s message summary from Gus Brown:

How does the Resurrection affect you? Do you know how it impacts your life? Life is more than just getting up in the morning and going to work and to school. You should know what your life purpose is in everything that you do.

When Jesus died, fear gripped the disciples. In turn, if we don’t understand how Jesus’ death and resurrection affects us, we can live our lives in fear and uncertainty.

We need to personalize Jesus’ role in our lives.

John 11:17-27
17 When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem (about two miles away). 19 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house.

21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”

23 “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.

24 Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”

We must move beyond the doctrinal teaching of the resurrection to that of a personal relationship with the risen Savior. It’s more than just a period in history. His appearing had a purpose. His appearance would negate the false stories and myths that he was stolen away. He is alive, and wants to have a relationship with you.

He fulfills who He is with His presence. He is the great Comforter–He gives you direction as to where to go and also provides peace in the midst of your difficult experiences. This is how we experience the living God in our lives. He ministers to you in order that we can minister to others.

He came because there would be stories that He did not really rise from the dead:

Matthew 28:11-15
11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what He had said to her.

Isn’t it interesting in today’s culture that the women seem to respond first, while men are still playing catchup. Our hearts keep us from seeing and acknowledging God’s presence.

John 20:19-20
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

John 20:26-29
26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”

Jesus will reveal Himself to the believer not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way. It should be readily apparent to the believer of His spiritual presence somewhere in his or her existence. You would know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He is present in your life. It’s tougher to see Him in this way when you’re always in a hurry and running to and fro. He wants you to know that He lives and He wants you to be aware of His presence.

1 Corinthians 15:6-8
6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
7 Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.

His appearance is to remove fear or concern of His existence (see John 20:19). As time passes, we lose sight of things because people who have influenced our lives are no longer visible or present. We must always note, however, that Jesus is our ever present help. In turn, we do not live in fear. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Believers are the people to set the example. The more that we learn to love Jesus, the more that we can stand up for Him and declare Him as Lord and Savior to everyone you come into contact with. Instead of fear, we can live for Him in confidence.

Acts 2:14
14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out My Spirit
on My male and female slaves in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will display wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below:
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes.
21 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That boldness comes from the recognition that the disciples were serving and ministering on behalf of a risen Savior. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will empower you to live boldly for Him.

Acts 3:15-16
15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.

Do you ask people whether or not they know Jesus Christ? Just going to church will not save you from your sins. Only Jesus can do that. If you truly understand what it is to no longer hide and live in fear of reprisal from others, you can and will speak boldly for Him.

John 4:1-12
1 Now as they were speaking to the people, the priests, the commander of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were provoked that they were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example. 3 So they seized them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000.

5 The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7 After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: “By what power or in what name have you done this?”

8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

God sets the standard as to how we are to live. No matter what the world may dictate, God will enable you with the strength to overcome the opposition and speak boldly for Christ.

Acts 5:27-32
27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

We’re in a very delicate place in this country. It is becoming more difficult to minister according to God’s Word in light of the world of political correctness. Please note, however, it is always better to obey God then to obey men. Jesus is the One who sends us into the world to share the message of the gospel.

John 20:21
Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As you go before others on behalf of Jesus Christ, you will continue to grow and develop through His presence.

John 17:18-19
18 As You sent Me into the world,
I also have sent them into the world.
19 I sanctify Myself for them,
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection was to save each and every one of us. It also eliminates any fear or uncertainty of His presence. He lives to love us and to empower and strengthen us to live victoriously for Him. He has called us to build His kingdom and to challenge others to not live as the world lives. He calls us to be the example of those who can live on a higher plain in the midst of a dying world. May it be our desire to know the power of His resurrection in our lives. Lord, may you work in us and through us for your glory. Amen.


The Gift of Christ for Christmas

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Many of us will wake up Christmas morning in anticipation of what we will find as gifts under the Christmas tree, but consider that we already have a wonderful gift that we have in Jesus Christ!At the time of Christ’s birth, there was not much stated about it publicly…note that it was a message of good news that was carried forth by the angels.Matthew 1:18-21

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.”

The angels proclaimed the message but even they did not have a complete understanding of what God was doing.

Hebrews 2:6-7
6 But one has somewhere testified:

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor.

The angels asked of God why He cared so much for them:

Psalm 144:3
Lord, what is man, that You care for him,
the son of man, that You think of him?

The angels understood the power of God and how he could eliminate those who did not regard who He was.

1 Peter 1:12
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Why is it that the angels wondered about these things and yet we, human beings, are less concerned about God, His presence, and His second coming?
If the angels were questioning how God gave favor to man, why don’t we? Note that angels were not redeemed or any means of salvation. They saw evidence of God working in the lives of people, and yet, after 400 years of silence, God used the angels to bring forth His message. Perhaps the angels were busy doing this because man had forgotten the God that they were to serve because we were occupied with other things.

Matthew 2:1-6
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Note that Herod was not a Jew. The religious people were not the ones initiating the search for the Christ child. Herod was the one who called for information about the Messiah. He asked if this child was the “King of the Jews.” The three wise men were also not Jews. They came from different lands to seek Jesus. The ones that had the information were apparently not seeking Him.

Note that we have the information available to us as believers in Christ. Do we believe the information in Scripture about Christ’s presence and act upon it?

Micah 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from eternity.

The birth of Jesus caused some men to seek Him out, while others were troubled by it (Matthew 2:3). Many religious people had the knowledge but were not even looking or acting upon it (Matthew 2:4-5) and were even fighting amongst themselves. The priests saw the same information over and over and yet did not seem to believe what they already knew. They were not looking for the sign that The Lord gave to them in Isaiah 7:14:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

The birth of Christ was not hidden from us. Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of what would come. Are we conscious of when God is speaking to us? Some of us spend more time trying to disprove Jesus’ existence instead of choosing to believe in Him.

The angels were providing the messages. They can’t see the future, though.

Luke 1:10-17
10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him:

Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
14 There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

The angel spoke to Zechariah that the person to prepare for Jesus through Elizabeth would be John. Elizabeth was well beyond child-bearing years, but this was to be a testimony to others.

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.

Do you see how God is working in this matter? The people that were chosen were all to provide the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior. Joseph’s role was very important, too:

Matthew 1:18-24
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.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Finally, the angels provided a message to the shepherds.

Luke 2:8-20
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

We need to keep in mind that God had been silent for quite some time before this moment because the people were enemies of God. They were not paying attention to Him or regarding His presence. It is to the wonderment of the angels that God paid so much attention to His creation, yet they were rejoicing over what God had done.

The message had been passed on from the angels to the people. The shepherds proclaimed the message and praised God while doing so, and the people who heard it were amazed! The people are proclaiming the gospel message to everyone who hears it to this day.

God will show Himself to you if you truly want to see Him. He will make Himself known to you if you truly want to know Him. God wants each of us to know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and He is ready to make Himself known to you. All it takes is believing that He is your Lord and Savior with all of your heart.

There’s no pastor that can save you. There’s no deacon or elder that can save you. There’s no church denomination that can save you. There’s only one name under heaven and earth that can save you…Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17, 14:6). You can come to Jesus Christ just as you are, but you will not stay as you are.

This Christmas, do not allow yourself to be troubled or uncaring about Jesus Christ and the gospel of His saving message. If there is any time that we need to be telling the truth about Christ, this is the time. Leave the results to Him.


John The Baptist: Being Thankful in Prison

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
Are you thankful for who Jesus is? Are you thankful for the cross? He suffered and died for us.A person is in prison during Thanksgiving. Is it something to be thankful for?

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

How does one give thanks even during difficult circumstances? In order to be thankful, you need to be able to see God and His glory and majesty. You would need to see Him for who He is through His power and might. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, one realizes that personal belongings are much less important than life itself. God is the one who gives life, and spares it through a calamity, and in His sovereignty he can take it away.

Some people will not be thankful or grateful, in spite of everything they experience.

2 Timothy 3:2
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.

Are we thankful for what we do have?

Proverbs 30:8-9
8 Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.
Give me neither poverty nor wealth;
feed me with the food I need.
9 Otherwise, I might have too much
and deny You, saying, “Who is the Lord?”
or I might have nothing and steal,
profaning the name of my God.

A man who is robbed teaches us four lessons–

1. Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before.
2. He was thankful for his life.
3. They took it all, but it was not that much.
4. It was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.

To be thankful in this way is to show thankfulness in all circumstances.

John the Baptist is in prison. He was sent there by King Herod and he knows his time is short. He learned to be thankful in a very difficult situation.

Matthew 11:1-6
1 When Jesus had finished giving orders to His 12 disciples, He moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns. 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. 6 And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.”

John heard about what Jesus was doing and wanted to know if He was the One for encouragement in the midst of his suffering.

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

Hebrews 9:28
so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

Are you looking to Jesus for solutions in your life, or are you looking at someone or something else?

2 Corinthians 4:4
In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Jesus told John’s disciple to go back and report what you see and hear. The lame are walking…the blind can now see…people were being cured of leprosy. The words were to encourage John for his faithfulness to Jesus. When he received the report, John was encouraged and thankful that his work was not in vain.

Acts 3:4
Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.”

Jesus was changing lives with his presence and his acts of compassion on the people.

Luke 5:31-32
31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

You don’t begin to live until you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. God wants you to live in Him and through Him.

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

Jesus came to those who needed Him most–the people who were in the greatest need. The gospel message sets you free (John 8:36).

Galatians 2:10
They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I made every effort to do.

Always remember the less fortunate and show them compassion, just as Jesus did. He is the one who heals through the power of His salvation.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

Are you able to say “thank you, Lord” for your circumstances? If you can see evidence of His work in both the large and the small things, there is reason to be thankful. Reflect on how much He has done for you, and be thankful to Him.


Beth-El Ministries: Sharing the Good News

The Bagirov Family

The Bagirov Family

A special thanks to Pastor Igor Bagirov of Beth-El Messianic Ministries & Congregation of Cleveland, Ohio for being our guest speaker today. He was born in the former Soviet Georgia as the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. He is married to Tatiana Bagirov and they have four children. They immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union, where they lived for three years before moving to Quebec, Canada. While in Canada, they met some Christian friends who shared with them the Good News, and both Igor and Tatiana accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Twelve years ago they came to Cleveland. Their ministry is among the Russian Jewish people on the East side of Cleveland. There is a large population of Russian immigrants in Cleveland (about 30,000), of whom mostly are Jews. Pastor Igor and Tatiana are working to reach this Russian-speaking Jewish community. The mission is to reach the lost and share with them the Good News, glorifying God’s name, sharing with them through a healthy fellowship. The focus is to build a part of God’s Kingdom on this earth through fellowship, worship and praise with the preaching of God’s Word. The mission and the vision of this ministry recognizes and understands the Jewish roots of Christianity (Joshua 24:14-15). All of the apostles were Jewish, and so was the first church. We believe that we live in the time of salvation of the Hebrew remnants (Jeremiah 23:3; Romans 9:27). “So that you will not be conceited, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery: a partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Liberator will come from Zion; He will turn away godlessness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27). While the mission was established to reach the Jewish community, it has evolved to reach all Russian speaking people, Jewish, Muslim and others. The Beth-El Messianic Congregation has a goal to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Russian speaking community. His ministry took the name “Beth-El,” which means “The House of God.” It represents one more place of worship, a house of God, in Cleveland, a place of refuge where people can hear the Good News, and find rest for their souls. It is a bold mission that faces a great amount of opposition and hardship, but Pastor Igor realizes that it is the very souls of people that are at stake here. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). For more information about Beth-El Messianic Ministries & Congregation, call 440.238.7216, or write to PO Box 360165, Cleveland OH 44136-0003. The website address is http://www.bethelmessianic.org.

Beth-El Ministries: Sharing the Good News