Tag Archives: government

Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.

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What Do You Come to Church For?

Today’s message summary of May 28, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Why do people go to church?  Is it a possession that one holds onto?  Ultimately, every person needs to understand what the real purpose of church is.  We can lose our love for the Lord while being involved with church for a number of other reasons.  Somewhere, the church of Ephesus lost its first love…the love of Jesus Christ.

When one comes to church, one should be coming to see, hear and receive.

When you see what God is doing in the lives of His people, you can rejoice!

When you come to hear God’s Word, you come with the understanding that He teaches and also corrects you.  (Some will not come because they do not want to be corrected.)  God wants you to know that you are on a journey with Him, and His teaching will help you along as you go.

God wants you to receive Him.  He desires to catch your attention and hold it with the desire to hear Him speak to you and guide you.

You should want to see what God is doing…not only in your life, but in the bigger picture.  While there is often a focus on numbers in the church, God has done many great things with just a small number of people.

Church is not a place for gossip.  That is the wrong reason to attend a church.  The words reflected upon should be His words.

You should want to hear from God about the matters concerning you and your life, but also what He expects of you.

You should want to receive from God.  He wants you to receive His power, strength and faith (confidence) to do what He is asking of you.

There is a reason to come to church.  God desires to see you continue to grow within the church in these areas.  He wants you to have faith and the ability to step out when things are unknown or unclear.  That is where we see God’s greatest work and accomplishments.

People may argue that John the Baptist did not have a church, but John did indeed have a ministry, even if it was out in the wilderness.

Matthew 11:7-10

As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes?  Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. This is the one it is written about:  Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.

The wilderness, where John’s “church” was located, was far from town, or what many would consider to be the comfort of home.  Your going to church should be like going to a place where God’s word teaches and convicts you to a place where you learn, grow and develop a desire to fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Church should be a place of solitary for you.  The primary focus should be on Jesus Christ.  It should be free from restraints.  It fulfills a desire of quietness in your spirit.  Church can be your desert place (the wilderness), where you are alone with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Church is to be a place of education–teaching needs to be taking place, and effective teaching does take some time.

Your mind, within the church, is to be separated from everything in life and focused on what God is saying, understanding what you are hearing, and what you are receiving from God.  What you receive is what you are going to leave with.

If you’re always in a rush, you won’t be able to hear God speak to you the way He desires to.  Church is the place where you can slow yourself down and put aside those things that can distract you from Him.

A reed could grow twelve feet tall and be paper thin, and when the wind blows, it just lays down.  It goes with the wind.

The wind, represented here by religion and government, could have caused John to be indecisive or to be shaken.  To waver or to show doubt can cause one to be unsteady.

The religion was the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The government was King Herod and his sinful life.

John stands against these two powerful forces.

Note that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be upheld within the church setting.  It’s not enough just to call yourself a Christian.   It is about living as God calls you to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Complaints about the church:

  1. It’s not relevant.

John was relevant according to his message.

  1. It lasts too long.

How long do you sit through a movie?

  1. Church is boring.

Is it boring because it is not what you want it to be?

  1. I don’t like the way church is being run.

It’s your place to determine how church is being run.

  1. It’s the same routine each Sunday.

It is all in your approach to being educated in the Word.  It is more important to see Christ in your life,                  and understand that He never changes.

 

Psalm 122:1

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

 

Psalm 73:16-25

When I tried to understand all this,

it seemed hopeless

until I entered Gods sanctuary.

Then I understood their destiny.

Indeed, You put them in slippery places;

You make them fall into ruin.

How suddenly they become a desolation!

They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

Like one waking from a dream,

Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.

When I became embittered

and my innermost being was wounded,

I was stupid and didnt understand;

I was an unthinking animal toward You.

Yet I am always with You;

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with Your counsel,

and afterward You will take me up in glory.

Who do I have in heaven but You?

And I desire nothing on earth but You.

 

The church should be providing information to you about how to live life in these perilous times.

We go to church to hear the message that God has to give to us.

 

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

Prepare the way for the Lord;

make His paths straight! 

John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

 

Romans 10:14-17

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!  But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.


Today’s Society Seeks Protection from Jesus (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of May 7, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

What you say in public can sometimes bring about trouble.  Our society often tries to relegate what is being said (even from the church pulpit) because of how people may respond.

Matthew 14:3-4

For Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her!”

John was speaking publicly about Herod and Herodias’ relationship.

It is not unheard of that people today have filed suit for emotional damages over what someone has had to say.  It is today’s societal norm.

Karl Marx once noted that “religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them like a slave, and more amenable to accept the status quo.

Have we come to a place in today’s society that we accept what is deemed to be the status quo?  Society and government says that we are to accept the status quo.

Jesus informs us that we need to count the cost when we go into ministry.  John the Baptist did not accept the status quo.  He pointed out that Herod and Herodias’ relationship was unlawful before God.

The rule today is that what is popular in society should be acceptable to everyone.

Have we reached a point where there is no room for the teaching of Jesus Christ?  It is hardly a popular view in today’s society.

John 8:36-37

Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you.

Matthew 11:12

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.

Before Martin Luther, the church was very involved with government.  They were considered one and the same.  The pope had to recognize the king in a kingdom.  In many of today’s Arab countries, the government and the religious group are essentially the same entity.

Modern proponents of the separation of church and state, on the religious side, will fall back on Luther’s doctrine of two kingdoms.  This marked the beginning of the modern concept of the separation of church and state.

Anabaptists took this a step further. They were in agreement with Luther that there were two kingdoms.  They agreed that the two should be separate.  They held that no baptized member of the church should vote, serve in the military, nor hold a public office.  Why?  They were part of God’s kingdom, and the government was the other kingdom.

Ultimately, we don’t need this separation from society.  There is a huge need for believers to be actively involved in the political field.

In the life of the believer, there are two authorities:

First, there is one representing claims made by government.  You can challenge views and prevail or not, or bring about change.

Secondly, God is the one who represents the church.  While the church has authority, God has the highest authority (God’s Word).

Acts 4:19-20, 5:29, 16:4-5

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

Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.

As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Romans 13:1-3

Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval.

Churches have found themselves in court. Property, persons hired for employment, church discipline and employees who follow Jesus Christ have been affected in their own workplace.

The kingdom of God is being advanced by force because of the opposition that it faces.  Scripture reminds us of the “good fight” and of the need for “the armor of God.”

Matthew 11:2-6

Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”

Matthew 10:22

You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The verse in Matthew 11:12 about the forceful advance of the kingdom (suffering of violence) notes the ongoing struggle of those who are following Jesus Christ:

  • You, yourself, are grabbing hold of the truth, or to the kingdom
  • You are pulling at it
  • You do so vigorously and energetically–pushing towards the kingdom

Anything that you desire will often require some effort.  You will really have to work at it.  When John the Baptist preached, this is when the real fight ensued between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world.

Luke 16:16-17

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”

Are you really running after God and His kingdom? While today’s society will tell you it is not worth your time, press ahead and go after Him.  When you serve Him, He will give you the energy that you need in order to be successful.


God Calls His People Out of Babylon

Today’s message summary of June 7, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God reveals through his Scripture that He has His people through every dispensation. God has always maintained a remnant.

What is striking about this is that He is calling His people out from bad company. He is calling His people away from those who are not praying to Him or edifying Him.

God will be calling His people away from Babylon:

Revelation 18:3-4

For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury. Then I heard another voice from heaven: Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues.

 

God’s people are meant to be the influence over the world and not the other way around; however, there are situations where His people need to remove themselves from being weakened or influenced by the pleasures and luxuries of the world.

Look at the church today…are we involved with the sins of the world? Before you answer, remember that God knows your heart.

God wants you to avoid those who are choosing not to do what is right.

Revelation 18:5

For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.

 

God wants His people to be removed before His judgment comes.

Even when there are churches that are not very good overall, God may have a remnant of people within the church to make a testimony for Him.

Consider that Lot was called out from Sodom and Gomorrah. God sent two angels in to bring him out because there was a pending destruction.

Genesis 19:15-16

At daybreak the angels urged Lot on: “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. Because of the Lord’s compassion for him, the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters. Then they brought him out and left him outside the city.

 

The Lord declares that some will not acknowledge Him or accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Some people will continue to live the way that they choose, and they will face destruction.

If you have God warning you to get away from a situation, what would cause you to hesitate? Is it based upon worldly pleasures?

In Babylon, the people are worshiping anything but God. Even if the people of God were to speak up and say “that’s wrong,” it would put that person in peril. To take a stand for God’s standards and principles is to take sides.

Our church should not be in the entertainment business–it is to be in the teaching business. Believers are always present to shine the light of Christ.

Proverbs 24:1-2

Don’t envy evil men or desire to be with them, for their hearts plan violence, and their words stir up trouble.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:6-8

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us. For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you; we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and struggled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

 

In Babylon, there will many who say they know God or proclaim that they are righteous and have all sorts of religious artifacts. Their actions will show otherwise. How would you know if someone is really saved or not? You would have to observe how a person lives over time to see if it matches up with his words.

Christians are to expose those things that are unrighteous, heretic or unclean–those things that are not of God.

Ephesians 5:11-14

Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore, it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.

 

There is a way to share with those who are living in sin, and all of it involves prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Romans 16:17-18

Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.

 

1 Corinthians 5:9-11

I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

 

Don’t associate with those who are living in opposition with God. While we are ministering to the world and are not of the world, we need to come to a place where we heed the warning that God gives to His people.

God called Abram (Abraham) to another land. (Genesis 12:1-4)

God called His people, Israel, out from Egypt. (Exodus 3:7-21)

God wants you to look forward to where He wants you to go and to not look back.

 


The End Times: Babylon Has Fallen! (Part 1)

Today’s message summary of May 31, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Some commentaries that we read believe that Babylon represents Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire. Even with this, we see that Satan is presenting his program all throughout history to establish his teachings and heresies. There has been ongoing idol worship for centuries, and as God is establishing His kingdom, Satan is doing the same for himself. The culmination of all of this is within the book of Revelation.

What three things does every nation struggle with over time?

  • Government
  • Economics
  • Religion

(Even Russia, which declares itself an atheist nation, has what is called the Church of Russia.)

Babylon will control all three of these things. When you get to Revelation Chapter 18, verse 2, we read “Babylon the Great has fallen!”

In Chapter 17 and 18, we see two systems within Babylon–religion and economics (political and commercial). John, as a narrator, gives a great deal of attention to this subject; therefore, we can conclude that God wants us to pay attention to this.

This stems from Nimrod and the Tower of Babel where the world’s religious forces were rallying against God.

Two powerful forces that man is always involved in: religion and commerce (money and finances).

Revelation 18:11-13

The merchants of the earth will also weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their merchandise any longer–merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine fabrics of linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; all kinds of fragrant wood products; objects of ivory; objects of expensive wood, brass, iron, and marble; cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine wheat flour, and grain; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and slaves and human lives.

 

Babylon was a place where people could satisfy their pleasures, and even if it was within their practice of religion, and they were not following God.

1 Timothy 3:1-3

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy.

 

1 Timothy 6:10

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

 

In Babylon (Revelation 17), there are those who perpetrate evil over the love of money.

2 Timothy 3:1-3

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good.

 

Matthew 6:24

No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

 

When it comes to religion, note in Revelation 18 that it is the demons who are teaching and performing every evil. Babylon reflects the draw of many nations who follow its teaching. They were “lovers of pleasure.”

Revelation 18:3

For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury.

 

1 Timothy 4:1

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.

 

Modern-day churches today want God’s blessings but the people still need to be taught the Word of God. They need to resist the desire of their own pleasures and seek God and obedience to Him. There are apostate churches today that are contrary to God’s teaching and will create many to fall away from God and His instruction.


Distinctions (Go Deeper and Climb Higher)

Today’s message summary from guest speaker Chuck Gills:
The United States of America is a unique nation in that we incorporate God’s tenets and principles within our government. Even our currency declares the words “In God We Trust.” It makes a clear distinction as to who we are as a nation to other nations. We send the evangelical message to other nations through our currency. Did you know that even though the United States makes up only 10 percent of the population but oversees 92.8 percent of the world’s global resources? Who would not want to come to America considering that many people earn the average of one dollar per day. Have you considered how many meals we are able to eat and how many privileges we have as a nation? We are blessed with what we have as a people and as a country, but we should always remember–to whom much is given, much is required.

Luke 12:48b
Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.

As I have been blessed beyond measure, I understand the importance of ministry to others about what God has done for me. My ministry is based upon the ADAM acronym:

AAssimilation – to have people from different backgrounds come together and see themselves as part of a larger family.

Acts 2:41-47
41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.

43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

DDiscipleship – to instruct and reach others of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

John 13:34-35
34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

AAdaptation – to live and become more Christlike in every way.

Romans 12:2

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

MMinistry – the act of making new disciples for Jesus Christ.

Matthew 4:19
“Follow Me,” He (Jesus) told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”

Matthew 28:19-20a
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.

Five Divine Relational Absolutes:

1. Volition (freedom of choice) – the cognitive ability to make choices (we can choose to obey or disobey God).

The essence of God’s love is based upon choice. He chose to love us.

John 15:16-17
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

Jesus’ presence is not such that He pressures anyone to be like Him. He loves us and desires for us to become like Him as we live for Him.

2. Marriage

Genesis 2:18
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

Genesis 2:24
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.

3. Family
The family is the fabric upon which the progress of civilization occurs.

Genesis 4:1-2a
1 Adam was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the Lord’s help.” 2 Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel.

Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

4. Nations and Government

We are to pray for those in power as government is a God-ordained entity.

Genesis 10:5
The coastland peoples spread out into their lands. These are Japheth’s sons by their clans, in their nations. Each group had its own language.

5. Church

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Moses is a great example of one who wanted to grow and develop in his relationship with God. He went the extra mile (he literally climbed a mountain) to seek Him.

Exodus 19:1-6
1 In the third month, on the same day of the month that the Israelites had left the land of Egypt, they entered the Wilderness of Sinai. 2 After they departed from Rephidim, they entered the Wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness, and Israel camped there in front of the mountain.

3 Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. 5 Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, 6 and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

We are challenged as believers in Jesus Christ to go deeper and climb higher in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is not just about knowing Him, but developing a passion for God. As Moses had a deep relationship with God because of his desire to seek Him, you can grow in the Lord in the same way…in order for others to see you as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), you must be distinctive to others in order for them to see you. You are a living disciple for Christ that will bring others to seek and live for Christ.

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


The Nation is Defined By Its People

Part 2 of a series, A Nation in Trouble

As a nation, we are, indeed, in trouble. In looking for reasons or answers as to why the United States is in trouble, we look at our leadership as a main reason that the country is moving in the wrong direction. In reality, it is not the leadership that should bear the responsibility–it is the people who put the leadership in place. A nation is defined by its people. It is the culture, mindset, and lifestyles of the people that make up a nation. The Christians of America, as an example, can define the direction and course for the country. If Christians do not stand up for Jesus Christ and His Word, and also fail to provide leadership and guidance to others, they will struggle in their effective representation for Christ and in providing leadership for the nation.

It has become apparent, over time, that our nation and our church has allowed the erosion of morality and good behavior within our society. The gradual but precipitous decline of morality should never have occurred, but it is also an indication of how many have a lack of regard for God or the presence of God in our lives. Is the church losing the battle over the morality of our nation and its people?

Psalm 9:15-20

The nations have fallen into the pit they made; their foot is caught in the net they have concealed.  The Lord has revealed Himself; He has executed justice, striking down the wicked by the work of their hands. The wicked will return to Sheol— all the nations that forget God.  For the oppressed will not always be forgotten; the hope of the afflicted will not perish forever. Rise up, Lord! Do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your presence.  Put terror in them, Lord; let the nations know they are only men.

The greatest concern for our country is to forget about God, who He is, and what He means to us. While He has not forsaken us as a country, He has given us reminders of who He is. On occasion, He has to shake us up and remind us that we are not in control of the lives of people or the course of events. He reminds us that He is God and that He is in control.

Psalm 75:6-7

Exaltation does not come from the east, the west, or the desert, for God is the Judge: He brings down one and exalts another.

John Calvin and Martin Luther, leaders of the Protestant Reformation, believed that both the church and the nation were created by God for the good of mankind and that they should work together in furthering Christianity. The nation’s government should promote a safe and free environment for its people to do the church’s work.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

The church has an obligation to prepare men and women to serve within the government. Why? If believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are dedicated to serve a just God, they will govern the nation and its people in the same way. God will always show Himself and represent Himself in such a way where His presence is known for all to see.

Romans 13:7

Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Ephesians 4:11-12

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.

Christians can be excellent citizens as long as they are not asked to violate the precepts of God, who is the higher authority to whom their primary allegiance is due.

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.”

The people of God must truly live by the Word of God in their life and actions and not compromise it.

After the Protestant Reformation, many of the churches saw the great need to create learning centers for elementary education, for if each person was to study the Bible for themselves, he or she could gain knowledge and be educated because of the ability to retain and understand God’s Word.

2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

Church leaders gave considerable attention to the founding of schools on the three levels of elementary, secondary, and university education, for the purpose of creating better education of students as servants for the church and the nation. Both John Calvin and Martin Luther emphasized the need of education in order that the individual could be trained for both service and for leadership.

In 1693, Williamsburg University was founded for the purpose of training ministers. In 1701, the Puritans founded Yale College. In 1746, the Baptists founded Rhode Island College, which eventually became Brown University. Rutgers University was founded in 1825 by Christians, but all of these universities were founded for the purpose of continuing education and the training up its participant to serve the Lord within the church and within society.

Psalm 33:8-14

Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence.  The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.  Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord— the people He has chosen to be His own possession!  The Lord looks down from heaven; He observes everyone.  He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place.

Are we losing the reverence and fear of God? Are we missing who He truly is? We need to remember that He is a mighty and awesome God, and He acts according to His will.

Job 26:7-14, 34:10-13, 40:2

God works through His eternal purpose; yet, we try to bring Him into areas that ultimately limit His ability to work in our lives. We have to remember that He is a righteous God, and as He is accountable for His own righteousness, He holds us, as a nation and as a people, to live according to His righteousness (and not on our own view of righteousness). We have to overcome our selfishness and our evil desires to live outside of God’s will. Regardless of how we choose to live, the Lord’s will, His plans, and His purpose will stand. He will break or crush those nations that are outside of His will. Until we relent and recognize God for who He is, our nation will continue to weaken and be relegated to even less significance as a world power. The nation that loves God and lives according to His will and purpose will be blessed and prosper. The Christians who remain obedient to God will bring prosperity to the nation. “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord–the people He has chosen to be His own possession!” (Psalm 33:12)

Are we paying attention to what is happening around us as a country? We are gradually seeing a nation of people with cold hearts and with less dedication in seeking the Lord. We need to pray for everyone, including believers in Jesus Christ, for deliverance, strength and encouragement in these difficult times. Keep trusting God, loving Him, and believing in Him. He is more than able. God is aware of all that is going on in our lives, both good and bad, and He promises that He will care for those who recognize Him and have faith in Him. He will keep His people.