Tag Archives: gospel

Why the Millennium? (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 14, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

These messages about the end times are for the benefit of sharing with those who want to know more about the Lord and to be aware of the signs that are present and yet to come.

Hosea 4:6a

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Whose fault is it for the Millennium?  The Millennium is set up to show how mankind has been evil, and this period is to represent what it originally was like in the Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve).

Do we, as Christians, perform good works, or not?  Throughout history, people have tried every means possible to make the world a better place to live.

Some Christians think that this is the wrong thing to do.

Please understand that everything that Christians do should be with the purpose of presenting Jesus, in order that it brings people to encounter the presence of Jesus Christ.

People are to remember that we are the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13).  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.  Christians are to be the seasoning and preservers of humanity.  We are in place to witness and work on His behalf to bring as many people as possible to Christ.

Even the best efforts of people to bring others to Jesus Christ have been unsuccessful.  A sinful nature creates an imperfect environment, but it does not mean that we do not continue to work for the best.

Ephesians 6:12-13

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

What people have never been able to do, Jesus does in the Millennium by setting forth a perfect environment for people.

The Millennium is the last event that will take place on the old earth if you have the last battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium.  Everything from this point will take place in heaven.  The White Throne Judgment will be in heaven and follows the destruction of the old earth.

Important events of the Millennium:

  1. Jesus will be on earth in bodily form. He will, from that point, never leave His people again.
  2. Satan is bound. His activities will be restricted (Genesis 3:13).
  3. The people will live in the environment of Adam.
  4. People will have the free choice to worship and obey Jesus. (The same free will that Adam and Eve had.)
  5. One thousand years will not change the heart of Satan.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

People work to try to improve their old nature, but the old nature cannot be improved.  It can only die.  Your old nature must die to self.  God has to create a new nature in you.

People that go through the Millennium will…

  1. Obey without knowing Jesus as Savior. Why? (You are in a disastrous place without Jesus Christ being at the head of your life.)

Isaiah 11:3-9

His delight will be in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge

by what He sees with His eyes,

He will not execute justice

by what He hears with His ears,

but He will judge the poor righteously

and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.

He will strike the land

with discipline from His mouth,

and He will kill the wicked

with a command from His lips.

Righteousness will be a belt around His loins;

faithfulness will be a belt around His waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

and the leopard will lie down with the goat.

The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together,

and a child will lead them.

The cow and the bear will graze,

their young ones will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

An infant will play beside the cobras pit,

and a toddler will put his hand into a snakes den.

None will harm or destroy another

on My entire holy mountain,

for the land will be as full

of the knowledge of the Lord

as the sea is filled with water.

Like the church, there can be an outward conformity without an inward reality of Jesus.  The heart of the person must change to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

 

  1. There will be no war.

Micah 4:2-4

and many nations will come and say,

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us about His ways

so we may walk in His paths.

For instruction will go out of Zion

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will settle disputes among many peoples

and provide arbitration for strong nations

that are far away.

They will beat their swords into plows,

and their spears into pruning knives.

Nation will not take up the sword against nation,

and they will never again train for war.

But each man will sit under his grapevine

and under his fig tree

with no one to frighten him.

For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts

has promised this.

 

  1. There will be no killing of people by other people.
  1. People will live a long life.

Isaiah 65:20-22

In her, a nursing infant will no longer live

only a few days, or an old man not live out his days.

Indeed, the youth will die at a hundred years,

and the one who misses a hundred years will be cursed.

People will build houses and live in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They will not build and others live in them;

they will not plant and others eat.

For My peoples lives will be

like the lifetime of a tree.

My chosen ones will fully enjoy

the work of their hands.

 

  1. There will be no divorce, physical problems (no disease), drunkenness, or addiction. There will not be any poor, and there will not be any hunger.

It only makes you wonder how people can experience all of this and yet walk away from Him.

Who rules with Jesus, and why?

He will set up a ruling class of righteous people, and will give authority to those who are faithful in service to Him.

Revelation 20:4

Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of Gods word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.

Why do they get to rule with Jesus and not the present saints?

They all come with a supernatural body, while others do not have such a thing.

1 Corinthians 15:40-57

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

sown in dishonor, raised in glory;

sown in weakness, raised in power;

sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

The first man was from the earth

and made of dust;

the second man is from heaven.

Like the man made of dust,

so are those who are made of dust;

like the heavenly man,

so are those who are heavenly.

And just as we have borne

the image of the man made of dust,

we will also bear

the image of the heavenly man.

Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery:

We will not all fall asleep,

but we will all be changed,

in a moment, in the blink of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound,

and the dead will be raised incorruptible,

and we will be changed.

For this corruptible must be clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal must be clothed

with immortality.

When this corruptible is clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal is clothed

with immortality,

then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?

Now the sting of death is sin,

and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Difference between a perishable and imperishable body
  2. There is a body of dishonor and a body raised in glory
  3. Weakness versus power
  4. Natural body and a spiritual body (one for earth and one for heaven)

There must be a change in the body of a person from corruptible to incorruptible…in other words, to be more like Jesus.

Romans 8:28-30

We know that all things work together[a] 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.

1 John 3:2

Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

The rest of the dead that are not reigning with Christ because they will be the unbelievers:

Revelation 20:5-6

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.


Be Filled (Part 3): A Spirit-Filled Mind

A message summary of June 26, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Corinthians 2:10-16

Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people, But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from Gods Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For

 who has known the Lords mind,

that he may instruct Him?

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:17

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelizenot with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.

The Corinthian church depended upon their own knowledge and wisdom to answer life’s questions, but it turned out to be knowledge that only puffed them up, and it had nothing to do with Christ, the gospel or the church. Paul argued against this worldly wisdom, and it is hoped that you will have a greater understanding of life that is fueled by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and that you would be Spirit-filled.

1 Corinthians 2:10

Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

The truth of the gospel is significant in that it is only by Jesus Christ that we are justified by faith, and made righteous and sanctified in Jesus Christ.

These are the things that are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. To the world, the gospel is counted as foolishness.

It is only foolish for those who have not had the truth of the gospel revealed to them.

Anyone who reads the Bible reads the very words of God. He is the one who saves through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has the exact attributes of God, the Father and God, the Son.

God knows all about us. In turn, the Holy Spirit knows everything about us. He is omniscient (all-knowing).

Psalm 69:5

God, You know my foolishness,

and my guilty acts are not hidden from You.

Psalm 90:8

You have set our unjust ways before You,

our secret sins in the light of Your presence.

“Now who can have such a thorough knowledge of God but God?”

–Matthew Henry

I urge you to not reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life. The Spirit knows all about you, but the most important thing that He desires to have a relationship with you.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

The only person who can reveal the thoughts of God is the Spirit of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

When one compares the natural man with the spiritual man, there are two different natures. It does not mean that the natural man is not smart, but it does mean, according to Paul, that the natural man has no inclination of who God is, while the spiritual man does know and lives his life accordingly.

Paul is trying to encourage the Corinthian church to have like-mindedness with God. They were to turn from human wisdom and draw upon godly wisdom.

Paul used the word “wisdom” several times within the text. The word “wisdom” is translated as sophia. The Greek word means knowledge, and it is a form of the word sophistication.

The Corinthian church was trying to continue in human wisdom–its own philosophy.

Jeremiah 8:9

The wise men will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and snared. They have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom do they really have?

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.

Are you allowing yourself to be filled by social media or the media or commercialism, or are you being filled by the Spirit?

The Spirit must prevail in your life if you are to have true fellowship with God in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Is your mind filled with different philosophies that instruct you, or is the Spirit prevailing in your heart and mind?

Read God’s Word each day and meditate upon it. Whatever you put into your mind, that is what will come out of you.

The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast from the wisdom of man. It cannot be understood without the input of the Holy Spirit.

Are you being filled? Is Jesus Christ sanctifying you?

A Spirit-filled mind has an eternal focus on Jesus Christ and living for Him. He is waiting for you to make that commitment of obedience and proclaim the good news to others.


Discovering Your Gifts

A message summary of March 20, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Ephesians 4:8, 11-12

For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners to captivity; He gave gifts to people.

And he personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.

We, as a church, based upon the command of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), need to advance the gospel. If we fail to do so, we will decline in the body of Christ. We are called to advance the gospel. It is our main focus…to reach lost people, locally and globally.

In Ephesians 4:8, 10-11, we see what amounts to be the five pillars of the gospel.

Christ needed to ascend in order for His people to receive gifts. Without His ascension, the church’s call to advance the gospel would have been incomplete. Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him was because He had not ascended yet. His work was not totally complete. While His work on the cross was finished through His crucifixion, His ascension gave the church the tools that it needed to be effective in proclaiming the gospel.

When Christ defeated all of the enemies of God, He received the rewards that were passed on to the church. He conquered those who conquered us, including Satan, sin and death. He had all authority to defeat His enemies and dispense His gifts to the people.

These five pillars of the gospels (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are the highest gifts to be desired because these are the people that keep the gospel message going forward. All five of these gifts are distinct in their functionality, and they are synonymous with each other in that they are present to achieve the same goal.

Apostle: One who is sent for.

Jesus chose these individuals to be messengers of the gospel. Paul was later chosen as an apostle (Acts 2 and Acts 13). These individuals were chosen by Jesus to spread the gospel. Their primary responsibilities involved being an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Each of these apostles experienced the presence of Jesus Christ.

We know that the apostle Paul went on at least three missionary journeys (Rome, Corinth and Philippi) and started churches. He spread the good news. He was a church planter. He also allowed other leaders to take hold as pastors of these churches (Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Corinth, etc.). If we are ambassadors here at our church, we are to continue this same process of planting churches and leaders.

By the way, there are no apostles today. You must have been trained by Jesus and even witnessed His resurrection. Even though there are no apostles, the work of these ambassadors for Christ is still present in today’s church. What we have today was built on the foundation of what the apostles accomplished.

Prophets are different from apostles. They are gifted to tell people what is to come. John the Baptist was the last prophet that emerged from the Old Testament, but the emergence of the church brought forth many more of them.

While you may not be a prophet, there is wisdom in looking to God’s Word for guidance as to what is coming in the future.

The church sends evangelists. It is totally different from that of the pastor and teachers. An evangelist does not necessarily have to tend to the flock of the church. Evangelists today are missionaries. As you contribute to the Great Commission Fund, you are contributing to the church evangelistic process.

It is our hope that we can, one day at our church, have a full-time evangelist on our staff. Are we evangelizing in the same way that Paul speaks of here?

If you did not have a pastor or a teacher here in the church, who would perform the duty?

A pastor needs to know how to teach. He is also the shepherd of the flock. He is to care for the members of the congregation.

Being a pastor can be rather frustrating, and heavy, at times.

Numbers 11:12-14

Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers? Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me.

While the burden may be heavy at times, it is still what God calls them to do; furthermore, it is not the pastor’s burden alone.

Hebrews 13:20

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus–the great Shepherd of the sheep–with the blood of the everlasting covenant.

1 Peter 2:25

For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Pastors should always make the effort to live more like Christ and less like themselves.

The teacher gives sound doctrine to the flock. They present sound wisdom that declares what is right or wrong according to God’s Word.

Ephesians 4:13-14

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Gods Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christs fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.

Do you know what your gifts are?

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

to one is given a message of wisdom

through the Spirit,

to another, a message of knowledge

by the same Spirit,

to another, faith by the same Spirit,

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

to another, the performing of miracles,

to another, prophecy,

to another, distinguishing between spirits,

to another, different kinds of languages,

to another, interpretation of languages.

But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to people for the purpose of the members of the body to be empowered to proclaim the gospel. While we are not all teachers, pastors or prophets, each one of us has a gift to proclaim the gospel message and build up the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has placed these in the church:

first apostles, second prophets,

third teachers, next miracles,

then gifts of healing, helping,

managing, various kinds of languages.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets?

Are all teachers? Do all do miracles?

Do all have gifts of healing?

Do all speak in other languages?

Do all interpret?

But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.

The purpose of knowing your gift is to fulfill your purpose in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we apply what Paul said about people being ambassadors for Christ, can we say that we are prepared to do these things?

We are looking forward to the future to build up the church to the place where we will bring forth ambassadors, evangelists and those who are compelled by God to move in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.


Go and Make Disciples

A message summary of February 28, 2016 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:

Matthew 28:16-20

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The point of this passage is to go out and make disciples.

I have been thinking to myself as to why we, as a church, are not growing, as we should. I want all of us to go out and make disciples. If we are not making disciples, then why are we here?

The disciples were called to follow Jesus, and this passage represents one the last times they would see Him. They thought that they would return to their normal, daily lives, as fishermen and tradesmen. He informed them that He would go before them in Galilee repeatedly (earlier in the chapter). It was on this mountain that he would guide them into their own phase of the ministry. It was the beginning of their efforts to carry on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It leads into what we would read in Acts, chapter 1.

The summary of Jesus’ command is this: Go. Make. Disciples.

I.  In order to be a disciple here, it was Christ’s ascension that effectively turned over the gospel message to the disciples. They were empowered to believe in Him and follow Him to the point of persecution and death.

They worshiped Him. Their worship meant that they were surrendering their heart, mind and soul before Him.

Worship is indeed important in evangelism? Why is that? It gives one the fervor and energy to go out and worship before Him and reflect the same passion before others. You are now focused and can do this effectively. It should invigorate you to be able to say that you are recharged to go and make disciples.

In the passage, we see that “some doubted.” There were some disciples there that were beyond the eleven that traveled closely with Him. Those that doubted had lost focus on Him. They knew that Jesus was in authority, but perhaps they needed more evidence.

If there is any doubt in your faith that does not allow you to wholeheartedly serve Jesus Christ, then perhaps you need to see more evidence of Him working in your life.

Mark 9:17-27

Out of the crowd, one man answered Him, Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldnt.

He replied to them, You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me. So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. How long has this been happening to him? Jesus asked his father.

From childhood, he said. And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.

Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can? Everything is possible to the one who believes.

Immediately the father of the boy cried out, I do believe! Help my unbelief.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!

Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, Hes dead. But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

Matthew 14:31

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, You of little faith, why did you doubt?

Matthew 17:20

Because of your little faith, He told them. For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Our faith is very important when it comes to evangelism.

II.  Christ’s authority

Who Christ is to the person who is evangelizing means everything.

Ephesians 1:20-23

He (God) demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens–far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

No one, on his own, has any power to keep himself from death and raise himself up. Only Christ has such power.

We are to understand that Christ’s ascension gives us cause to worship Him, and that His authority reinforces His deity.

III. His confirmation of baptism reflects His authority.

Baptism is a sacrament that reflects obedience to Christ and His authority in our lives. It is an appeal to God for a good conscious in the power of Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:4

Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

IV. Perseverance in the Lord

After baptism now comes the teaching and instruction of God’s Word in order to help a person to endure what is to come. A person who is prepared in the Word is conforming to the truths of Jesus Christ, and it leads to a strengthening of the person in Christ.

Matthew 28:19-20

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

The disciples were to head out to the ends of the earth, as commanded by Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:7-11

He said to them, It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.

Our Jerusalem is our city of Akron. Judea is beyond the city, and our Samaria is even further away from that. As we hold the fort here in Akron, we move on to the next destination, and so forth.

Luke 24:46-49

He also said to them, This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.

The disciples were witnesses, and they were also martyrs. Only John was a survivor, but he lived in exile on the island of Patmos. They were all willing to sacrifice themselves, endure and persevere for the cause of Christ. We have an idea as to where they began, and where there lives ended. While we may not experience the same fate, we understand the importance of serving a life for Christ, and that means enduring and facing opposition, yet it is a worthy cause to serve the living Christ.

Go. Make. Disciples.


Ready, Willing and Able

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

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

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

Acts 1:8 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

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

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

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

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

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

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

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

Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

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

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

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

Isaiah 11:2 ESV

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

Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV

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

John 14:15-17 ESV

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

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

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

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

Matthew 24:14 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

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

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Saving Faith that Forgives (Luke 5:17-26)

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

Luke 5:17-26

On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him. Just then some men came, carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him. Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.

Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think: “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, “We have seen incredible things today!”

Everyone in the world expects something. What are your expectations? What is your greatest need in life? If you are honest, the latter question will answer the first question.

There are four different groups of people represented in this passage: The Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the crowd, the men who brought the paralyzed men, the crowd, and Jesus with His disciples.

The expectations of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law: they were spectators, and even instigators. They had traveled several miles to Nazareth to see Jesus. They were sitting there to observe His ministry, and that he had the power to heal others. They had heard of Him, and wanted to see Him in person in order to try to entrap Him in His words.

Matthew 22:15

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap Him by what He said.

Luke 4:24-30

He also said, I assure you: No prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijahs days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of thembut to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. And in the prophet Elishas time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healedonly Naaman the Syrian.

When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff. But He passed right through the crowd and went on His way.

In spite of this, keep in mind that Jesus’ main focus was presenting the gospel message.

John 9:39

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.”

In this passage, it was noted that Jesus also had the power (Greek word – dynamis) to heal. Jesus was enabled by God to carry out His ministry.

Luke 4:14

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone.

The Pharisees were policing their area of responsibility in order to uphold their own traditions. While some traditions are good, there are many that need to be left alone and let go. They wanted Jesus to submit to their own religious traditions.

The expectations of the crowd: some were there to glorify God and learn more about Jesus, some were there for healing, some were there just to be spectators.

The expectations of the four friends (of the paralyzed man):

they carried their friend to Jesus with determination that he would be healed (Luke 5:20). In case you missed it, they tore through the roof of the house to lower the man before Jesus because of the size of the crowd. They had to dig through different materials to accomplish their feat. It showed their degree of faith, and were hopeful that their friend would be made well.

Matthew 8:5-13

When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!

I will come and heal him, He told him.

Lord, the centurion replied, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, Go! and he goes; and to another, Come! and he comes; and to my slave, Do this! and he does it.

Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus told the centurion, Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you. And his servant was cured that very moment.

There is a great value having faith in the Lord.

Hebrews 11:6

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

The expectations of the paralytic man: While Jesus saw that he was paralytic, the deeper meaning here is that Jesus saw that this person needed forgiveness of his sins. He needed not just physical healing, but spiritual healing.

Jesus perceived the thoughts of the man, and He knew the thoughts of all of those present.

The Pharisees missed the point of Jesus’ comments to the paralytic; however, what they needed to see was that Jesus Christ has the power and the authority to forgive sin (Luke 5:21-26).

The expectations of Jesus: He was able to identify who He was before all of the spectators. He always referred to Himself as the Son of Man.

Daniel 7:13-15

I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

Jesus expects us to do something. What do you think it is?

He expects you to have faith in Him. He expects that you know and understand that He is the Son of Man, who has the authority to forgive sins. He wants you to believe who He is and in His teaching and that He has the authority (Luke 4:36) and the power to forgive your sins.

Does your faith drive your determination to seek after Jesus Christ?

What are your expectations about Jesus Christ?

What is your greatest need?

Our greatest need is not for material things or even for our bodies to be healed…our greatest need is for a Savior–Jesus Christ. The One who forgives our sins.


Anticipate Fruit as you Witness for the Lord (Missionary Conference 2015)

Today’s message summary of November 22, 2015 from Jose Chinchilla, International Worker serving in Berlin, Germany:

I am thankful to be here this morning with you. I am also especially thankful for your contributions to the Great Commission Fund, which allows me and other international workers to serve everywhere that we are called to go.

“Anticipate fruit as you witness for the Lord.”

Four years ago, my wife and I responded to the call to go to Berlin, Germany. I responded to His call, and He kept asking if I was ready. I told him, “yes, I got it.”

He set me up.

While we are a Christian nation here, the way that we speak to people in another country, let alone another continent, will not work the same way. I learned that the hard way. I was discouraged and I want to go back to the United States. My wife told me to get it together and stay with it.

I had to learn a lesson in my growth as a believer and as a missionary.

I had to continue to develop myself as a godly leader, live in a missional way and live with desperate dependence upon Jesus Christ.

God started to teach me how to minister to people in Germany.

First theological truth:

The Holy Spirit is at work in the world.

John 16:8-11

When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

 

Romans 10:13-15

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

 

As partners with the Holy Spirit, we should anticipate fruit as we minister in the world.

Sharing is not the easiest thing to do, but it does not have to be overly complicated for us. The Holy Spirit is doing the heavy work. He is already preparing the hearts of those who need to hear the gospel.

My desire is to share with people in Germany the gospel, and sometimes people will refuse to hear it because of their personal pluralistic beliefs. I am asking you to pray for me in that sometimes it is tough to face those rejections, but I am reminded that they are not rejecting me personally, but that they are rejecting Christ. I also pray that you are inspired, encouraged and motivated to allow God to change yourself in how you are ministering before Him and in sharing the Good News.

The second theological truth:

The harvest is plentiful.

Luke 10:2

He told them: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

 

There are very few people who are running to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ; in fact, many are running away from it. In spite of this, if you believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in the world, then He assures us that the harvest is plentiful. It’s important to ready to share your faith, because more people sharing are needed to meet this need.

How are we to encourage others (or even be encouraged) to share faith?

Guilting people into doing it will not work; however, if we have experienced joy from the salvation that Christ has given us, we will have compassion on others to help them to hear the gospel message. The Holy Spirit will show up right then and there to meet that person where he or she is.

If we want to see people share their faith, then we need to pray about it. We need to find creative ways to evangelize, and to pray about the harvest. Here is something that I do to remind myself about this: I set an alarm on my cell phone at 10:02 every day, to remind me of Luke 10:2, and pray for more workers to be made available for the harvest.

With the realization that there is so much before us with this harvest, it can be overwhelming. Here is a reminder that the Spirit is a big help within this process:

A third theological truth:

The Holy Spirit empowers us for effective witnessing.

Acts 1:8

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

 

Germany is regarded is a very difficult place to reach people for the gospel. I had to pray to God and asked for the right skills to reach them. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do things that, on the surface, we cannot see as possible to accomplish. You have to give up your own ways of thinking and doing things in order to see Him work. In our own strength, it is not possible, but the Holy Spirit empowers us with confidence and effectiveness in this ministry. We can bear fruit if we remain connected to Him.