Tag Archives: humility

Cutting Away Pride

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Pride is defined as:
1. an overhigh opinion of oneself
2. a proper respect for oneself; a sense of one’s own dignity or self worth. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John recognized that he was to transition his ministry to someone who was far greater than him. It wasn’t about putting himself down, but instead about giving honor to whom honor is due. It is a respect of one’s authority.

An example of pride of life: The Titanic in 1912 was made and called the unsinkable ship. It sunk on its maiden voyage after striking an iceberg.

1 John 2:16
For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

One’s boasting can become overconfidence. It’s one thing to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), but there is a fine line when the things that you accomplish becomes more about what you are doing than what God is doing.

Pride is an arrogant manner of living (self-importance)

Pride is made up of pretense (a false claim made is unsupported)

False pride uses worldly sources for strength.

How false pride is developed and how it hurts us–

2 Chronicles 26:3-5
3 Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king and reigned 52 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight as his father Amaziah had done. 5 He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.

Uzziah allowed someone to teach him to respect and honor God, and it bore out as success as long as he sought God.

2 Chronicles 26:8
The Ammonites gave Uzziah tribute money, and his fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for God made him very powerful.

2 Chronicles 26:9, 11-15
9 Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and the corner buttress, and he fortified them.

11 Uzziah had an army equipped for combat that went out to war by division according to their assignments, as recorded by Jeiel the court secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the authority of Hananiah, one of the king’s commanders. 12 The total number of heads of families was 2,600 brave warriors. 13 Under their authority was an army of 307,500 equipped for combat, a powerful force to help the king against the enemy. 14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows and slingstones. 15 He made skillfully designed devices in Jerusalem to shoot arrows and catapult large stones for use on the towers and on the corners. So his fame spread even to distant places, for he was marvelously helped until he became strong.

With all of this, Uzziah became prideful, and it led to his downfall. (While he had every reason to be proud of his nation and the army he presided over, he forgot where those things came from and how he became powerful.) Pride led him to become unfaithful to The Lord. He lost his ability to be honored by God (see v. 18).

2 Chronicles 26:16-21
16 But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction. He acted unfaithfully against the Lord his God by going into the Lord’s sanctuary to burn incense on the incense altar. 17 Azariah the priest, along with 80 brave priests of the Lord, went in after him. 18 They took their stand against King Uzziah and said, “Uzziah, you have no right to offer incense to the Lord—only the consecrated priests, the descendants of Aaron, have the right to offer incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have acted unfaithfully! You will not receive honor from the Lord God.”

19 Uzziah, with a firepan in his hand to offer incense, was enraged. But when he became enraged with the priests, in the presence of the priests in the Lord’s temple beside the altar of incense, a skin disease broke out on his forehead. 20 Then Azariah the chief priest and all the priests turned to him and saw that he was diseased on his forehead. They rushed him out of there. He himself also hurried to get out because the Lord had afflicted him. 21 So King Uzziah was diseased to the time of his death. He lived in quarantine with a serious skin disease and was excluded from access to the Lord’s temple, while his son Jotham was over the king’s household governing the people of the land.

Pride led to anger (v. 19)
Pride brings a punishment from God that is visible to others (v. 19)
God’s punishment can be lasting (v. 21)
Pride can cause you to be excluded from worship (v. 21)

Pride will cause you to lose perspective as to your position and where it came from. When fleshly pride is being corrected, anger is often the response. In the end, God will respond in such a way that everyone can see the correction taking place.

King Uzziah was a king at age 16, but he could no longer function as king because of his affliction. He lost his authority and ability to govern the people because of his pride. This is how pride can put one on the sidelines with the inability to function or do what you were originally called to do.

Psalm 73:6
Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.

Psalm 119:21
You rebuke the proud,
the ones under a curse,
who wander from Your commands.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, disgrace follows,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride comes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

When you are obedient to God, He will indeed exalt you. Don’t allow pride to keep you from humility…humbling yourself before Him will keep you on the path to godliness and a growing relationship with Him.

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God’s Plan of Salvation: Mary’s Journey

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

It is indeed God’s plan for every person to be saved. He makes the provision through Jesus Christ. Consider how Mary was taken on her own journey when she learned that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to carry Jesus within her. Note that she was obedient to The Lord and noted that this was something that she was to carry out, and she praised God for it. There was a special thing inside her that she wanted to fulfill. She was now on a journey that she didn’t completely understand, but yet she was willing to do it in obedience to God.

Luke 1: 34
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

Mary asked the question that many of us ask…”How can this be done?” All that God calls for us to do is to be obedient to Him and walk with Him. We may not understand how things will be accomplished, but our challenge is to wait on The Lord. He is not asking us if we are able to do anything–He just wants us to be willing to do it. He is aware of our inadequacies and our deficiencies. He just asks us to be willing. Are you willing to say to God, “Lord, please let it be done according to your will?” That’s what Mary did–she was obedient to His will, and was ready to follow His direction. She could not do anything without the power of God through the Holy Spirit, and that is the same for us, as well.

Consider all of things that God did to communicate and reassure Mary through her journey.

Luke 1:34-38
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

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

Mary, not long after this encounter, was ready to take a trip. She was directed to Elizabeth to see evidence of what she was told. In the same way that we sometimes need to see the physical evidence of what God is doing, Mary would go to see “the barren one” who was now pregnant.

Luke 1:39-45
39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah 40 where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry:

“You are the most blessed of women,
and your child will be blessed!

43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me! 45 She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”

Note the words of encouragement from Elizabeth to Mary. She is not speaking of herself. The Spirit was speaking through Elizabeth to encourage Mary. Elizabeth had asked Mary about the blessing of her presence. When God uses you for something, do you recognize it as a blessing? When God is using you, it is a blessing indeed. It is all for His glory.

Note that God wanted Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, that God was more than able to accomplish these things according to His will. Elizabeth knows who this child is that Mary would give birth to, and it was through the Spirit.

The next person that Mary deals with is Joseph. Joseph was not aware of what was happening until the angel spoke with him in a dream:

Matthew 1:18-24
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

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

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

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her.

This was one of those situations where Mary could only explain so much to Joseph about her pregnancy until God had to intervene with the presence of the Spirit in all things.

God now also communicates with Joseph and Mary through Simeon:

Luke 2:22-35
22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to The Lord) 24 and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).

25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:

29 Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised.
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.
33 His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Note first that Joseph and Mary were obviously poor when they brought Jesus to be consecrated. They only could bring what they had.

Leviticus 12:6-8
6 “When her days of purification are complete, whether for a son or daughter, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old male lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7 He will present them before the Lord and make atonement on her behalf; she will be clean from her discharge of blood. This is the law for a woman giving birth, whether to a male or female. 8 But if she doesn’t have sufficient means for a sheep, she may take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. Then the priest will make atonement on her behalf, and she will be clean.”

God was present here with the words of Simeon to communicate to Mary and Joseph through a righteous and devout man (Luke 2:25). God was working through people who were deemed righteous in their obedience to God, and Simeon provided additional words of encouragement to both Joseph and Mary, and they were both in this together.

Also note the three Gentiles–the wise men or Magi. God directed them to go to Jerusalem. They were the first Gentiles to worship Jesus. Only after their worship could gifts be presented.

Matthew 2:1-12
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

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

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

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”
7 Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”

9 After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.

History dictates that the Magi heard about this Jesus from where they originated in their eastern land. How far would you go to seek Jesus Christ? God even confirmed to the wise men that what they were witnessing was His work. The signs that they had seen–the star directing them to the house–led them to the Messiah that they were told about.

2 Corinthians 5:16
From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way.

Here is something very important for us to learn about these events. The wise men saw the Messiah for who He was. When we really worship God and recognize who He is, the gifts would follow suit for there is the recognition that we would not withhold anything from Him. Even more that this, but it is not what we can provide, but it is His provision that allows us to work for Him and serve Him.


A Life of Humility

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

There are moments when you are wrong about something and it would be wise to admit it openly.  It’s times like this that you certainly wish that you were right, but everything points to you making a mistake (and hopefully it’s not a big one).  Of course, you have a choice in this matter…you can readily acknowledge your mistake to someone, or say nothing, hide behind it and point the finger at someone or something else–in other words, play the blame game.

Have you ever been around someone who never admits when they have done something wrong?  If you have, perhaps you remember the frustration that comes in having a relationship with such a person, especially if others around the person occasionally mess up. It can be very difficult to meet a person’s expectations if perfection is the only acceptable result.  A person who readily points out that he or she is “mistake-free” will invariably do more harm in relationships than good, and it’s because human beings who make mistakes can never meet the standards of a “perfect” person.

It is rare when a person is seen taking responsibility for his or her actions, and perhaps even refreshing.  In order to take responsibility, you have to check your pride at the door and humble yourself.  This message is about the act of humility.  Humility in action is the essence of godliness and the absence of pridefulness.  Using the examples I have just provided, it takes little effort to exercise pride when claiming perfection or blaming others for your mistakes because both of these prideful actions are rooted in the flesh.  Humility is in opposition to the desires of the flesh.

Humility is a character trait that must be learned and developed over time.  It must be learned and developed because we are not, in our own nature, capable of humility. As a child, you were only capable of communicating your basic needs and desires with dependence on your parents to care for you.  As you grew up, you had to learn about right and wrong, “please” and “thank you” and how to be courteous to others.  Assuming that you have learned all of these things (chuckle), humility is something that we continued to learn as we got older, and we are still learning to master it.

There is grace in humility…both for you when you exercise it, and for the recipient who receives it.  As we learn to master acts of humility, we are to be encouraged to grow in this area as it is a godly attribute.

James 4:6

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.

The art of mastering humility will test six key areas of your life in your quest for godliness and living a Christlike existence.  These are far from being inclusive of everything but these will say a lot about who you are and your growth in Christ:

1. Your honesty (trustworthiness)

2. Your kindness (generosity, compassion and forgiveness)

3. Your patience

4. Your perseverance

5. Your respect (for others, your self-respect, self-esteem)

6. Your self control (contentment, temper)

You may have picked up that these virtues make up a number of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Living a life of humility requires a believer crucifying the flesh.  It is an ongoing struggle, but the Holy Spirit enables every single believer with the capability to overcome any fleshly influence or desires.  By yielding to the Spirit, you will best be able to do the following:

  • Rely less on your reasoning and rely more on your heart

Humility has a positive effect on your thought process.  You will invariably take the approach that extends beyond your own reasoning, logic and understanding, and extend beyond the inherent barriers associated with human thoughts to those thoughts that can only come from the wisdom and knowledge of the Spirit:

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

  • Trend less towards anger and more towards peace

In order to understand the nature of peace, you need to go beyond the obvious (for example: no war, no yelling or screaming, a quiet room — these are all correct but you must consider the influence of Christ in your efforts of humility).  Jesus Christ’s influence on you in your efforts of humility will remind you of God’s grace to you and how that grace is extended to others.  When you recognize God’s grace in your life, you will readily extend that grace to others–even during those times when you have every right to be angry.

Ezra 9:7-9

7 Our guilt has been terrible from the days of our fathers until the present. Because of our iniquities we have been handed over, along with our kings and priests, to the surrounding kings, and to the sword, captivity, plundering, and open shame, as it is today. 8 But now, for a brief moment, grace has come from Yahweh our God to preserve a remnant for us and give us a stake in His holy place. Even in our slavery, God has given us new life and light to our eyes. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us new life, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

This is especially true in areas where forgiveness is necessary.  True forgiveness is not on our own strength and ability.  It comes only from God Himself through the Spirit.  As God has forgiven our sins through grace and granted us an eternity of fellowship with Him, we are to extend the same grace to others and put aside our anger.

1 John 3:16-22

Love in Action

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?

18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. 19 This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, 20 even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things.

21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.

Luke 17:3-4

3 Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Matthew 6:14-15

14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

Don’t let your harshness that comes from an unforgiving spirit ruin your testimony before Jesus Christ and others.  This is an area that is a stumbling block to many believers because they are failing to grasp the immeasurable grace that God has bestowed upon them in forgiveness for their own sin.  As you grow and learn more about God and this grace, you will be less resentful, less angry, and be more ready and willing to extend grace and forgiveness to others.  It’s an area that all of us need to work on, and it starts with humbling yourself before God and before others.

This also applies to how well you esteem yourself before God. Satan will trick believers into thinking that they are forever inadequate before God, when God assures us that we are made righteous before Him when we confess our sin and trust that He is true to His Word:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 8:1-2

1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

  • Know that it is not about you and that it is more about Jesus

Your relationship with Jesus Christ should be far more important than those things that would keep you from living a life of humility: your ego, your reputation, your adversarial relationships, your finances or anything that has an adverse effect on your relationship with Jesus.  A humble person is a godly person who is secure and content in himself, in his relationships and acknowledges a dependence on Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6

5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—

6 yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him,

and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him,

and we exist through Him.

Philippians 4:12-13

12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Above all, humility is necessary for a person to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:38

“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 149:4

For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.

Romans 10:9-12

9 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. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him.

James 4:7-10

7 Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Workplace Relationships and Your Ministry

The following is an excerpt from a workshop segment at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church from Your Workplace and Neighborhood Ministry, September 13, 2008: 

The demands for excellence and performance on the job is ever present today and seems to be the case whether the economy is doing very well or not so well. Companies are feeling the pressure to remain competitive and are looking for ways to increase revenue while keeping costs and expenses under control. This pressure to perform is pushed down onto the workers—the people that are in the trenches, so to speak, who are called upon to do more work in what one can argue is less time to do it. The 40-hour week is becoming more of a myth as it has forced many to extend their time on the job to meet the demands of their workload. All of these factors still require all persons within the organization, from the executives, managers, support staff and specialists, to perform at a high level of excellence in order to remain successful and competitive.

Many organizations correlate good working relationships with productivity and profitability. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent this year by companies providing seminars and workshops for their employees that will focus on their ability to improve upon their communication, achieving trust, identifying strengths and weaknesses—all in the effort to train up and make the company more effective. Even with all of this effort, our particular seminar is going to look at how the employee can operate in ministry with the standard of God’s Word as the foundation of everything that is accomplished.

If you were at our last seminar in April (2008) when we presented Your Relationship with Your Contemporaries, the verse that we commonly refer to as the verse best associated with honoring God in the workplace:

Colossians 3:22-24

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but [work] wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord—you serve the Lord Christ. 

As we emphasized before, the job that you do is to reflect the best example of Christ-like living in the workplace. If we are performing to the best of our ability and also showing the humility and desire to improve our performance, that is the best way to honor God and be a positive testimony to him. In practice, following the principle of Colossians 3:22-24 makes the practitioner an important part of God’s ministry in the workplace, but we need to look at the opportunities in workplace ministry with some additional principles that will be our focus today.

With the high level of expectations that are before today’s worker, we will sometimes see that not every single worker will always perform at a high level of expectation. In any organization there will be high performers, average performers, and below-average performers. The differences between workers and performances have a lot to do with the number of different personalities that are found in the workplace.

In order to be successful with relationships in the workplace and with those we interact with (no matter where we are), we must embrace the philosophy that is noted in scripture on how we are to treat our neighbor:

Leviticus 19:17-18 

“You must not hate your brother or your fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”

For emphasis, here is more in Leviticus 19:33-34:

Leviticus 19:33-34 

“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”

These verses are from the Lord speaking to the nation of Israel through Moses in establishing standards for living a life of holiness. There was a strong emphasis on treating people the right way. This philosophy is emphasized throughout Scripture and is a commandment from God.

Matthew 22:34-40 

When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment (Deuteronomy 6:1-5). The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” 

Matthew 7:12 

Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets. 

Not only do we treat others as we should be treated, but it is the commandment of God for us to do it.

As we discussed in Session II, we find that we have a responsibility to elevate our level of ministry with a true confidence that we are acting on behalf of God and that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are not to do this in a robotic sense but with the mindset that everything that we do is to be prepared for ministry in the world, which in many ways is adversarial to any presentation of Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 6:10-13 

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 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. 

The armor consists of the tools that we discussed in Session II, with the source being God’s Word, embracing his righteousness, and using the power of the Holy Spirit. Now that we have an understanding of what scripture says to us about our approach in the workplace, we need to make sure that we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability. If we are not doing our work according to the standards and expectations of our employer, we cannot, in the long run, be effective in ministry. The work that you do well is a testimony of God to others you interact with. If you are doing a lousy job, how can you possibly bear witness of Jesus Christ to a co-worker? Even in the midst of working within the body of Christ, here is how the person who does not work or sloughs off is looked upon:

2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 

For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work |of others|. Now we command and exhort such people, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that quietly working, they may eat their own bread. Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 

A person who does not do his job in the workplace is not only lacking in effective service and production, but in many cases will hinder others with the lack of productivity. We, as believers, do not want to blend in with those who are easily dismissible because they aren’t putting forth the effort that is expected of them. It is not a positive testimony.

The attitude of the believer is that we are to do our best. If we are doing our best and showing initiative, you are reflecting leadership capabilities even if you do not have anyone reporting to you. Do you realize that following Christ and being loyal and obedient to his Word is a position of leadership? While Christ is the head of our lives, he gives us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a true essence of leadership because of how we present ourselves as a follower of Christ. You are a leader in the workplace because your belief and life in Christ is more often than not the exception. You look different, you act differently…you stand out because you show confidence in who you are in Christ. The believer who does not show confidence in God’s Word cannot be a leader and a good witness for Christ. This goes back to the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. We need to make sure that we have a complete understanding of how we can operate in God’s confidence and not let the world, or Satan, trick us into believing that we lack the power or authority.

There are, of course, different types of leaders. The leadership that I am referring to is based upon the confidence of God’s Word in our workplace behavior and actions. In the same way that Joshua was chosen by God to take his place in leading the Israelites (Numbers 27:18-23), the power of the Holy Spirit gives you leadership qualities because you are relying upon His strength…and not just your own. Remember, too, that leadership is in your actions, and remember that Jesus Christ is our head but His leadership was in His humility and in His sacrifice…it was in His service:

John 13:12-16 

When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you. “•I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 

We can conclude that we are empowered as believers to live and act in ministry and worship with leadership and yet, in doing so, and in following Christ, we are still exercising humility. The work that we do is just as much a facet of our ministry as our obedience to Jesus Christ and our service for Him.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


The Moral Compass

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

If you watch television for any length of time, you will see commercials of full-length movies that feature many of the super heroes you grew up with from the world of DC Comics and Marvel Comics.  Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Iron Man, The Wolverine, and coming soon to a theater near you, The Flash, Captain America and The Justice League of America.

There is little wonder as to the huge popularity of these movies, beginning with the appeal of the spectacular special effects that bring the comic book characters to life right before your eyes.  In addition to this, all of these movies have similar compelling story lines.  The heroes of our childhood on the big screen are now a little edgier and cooler for this generation of viewers, but all of them are on the side of righteousness and good, and they battle the opposing forces of evil.

We use the movies as a way of retreat.  They help us to relax and unwind from our day-to-day routine, even with all of skirmishes and explosions that take place.  While we can relate to our super heroes battling through madness and mayhem, our personal daily experience is a similar struggle of good versus evil–except we are far from super or even heroic.  We are fallible and vulnerable, for we live in the reality of a fallen world surrounded by sin and transgression.

The news and events of each day reinforce that we are in a fallen world.  Our own behaviors are challenged with conflicts, distractions and temptations to sin.  God’s Word provides ongoing support and guidance to avoid sin, but it is up to each of us to remain consistent in this endeavor with a constant effort to seek Him and His truth.

Psalm 119:9-11 (HCSB)

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?

By keeping Your word.

10 I have sought You with all my heart;

don’t let me wander from Your commands.

11 I have treasured Your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against You.

A few years ago I presented a message on the role of your conscience in determining and discerning right from wrong.  It was noted that it is not just reliance upon your conscience to make the right decisions but it involves your inclusion of the Holy Spirit within your thought process to provide guidance.  Both the Holy Spirit and your conscience will make up what we will call today your moral compass.  For the benefit of those of you who are of Generation-Y, a compass is the ancient, old-timers version of today’s GPS system.  It provides direction and guidance to successfully travel from one point to another.  In this way, your personal moral compass guides you to make the proper response to outside stimuli based upon your morals or value system.  A compass of any type is subject to deviation and sometimes need to be corrected for accurate readings; similarly, a person’s moral compass is only as good as his or her value system, which means that the Holy Spirit is not a factor when a person’s decisions reflect poor morals or values.  It is safe to conclude that one’s poor decision-making is the result of not relying upon godly wisdom.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

The actual use of the term “moral compass” describes the foundation of one’s values and behaviors from a moral perspective.  I will now take poetic license to expand my definition of a moral compass as a person who gives the perception of demonstrating high moral character.  This perception, in addition, carries a high degree of influence with others who know the person. For example, you are a “moral compass” amongst your friends if you can influence others, just by your presence, to clean up the other persons’ colorful language.  A person known as a “moral compass” can have a positive effect, but he can also drive people in a different direction if the people he interacts with are of their own mind and don’t want to focus on godly things.  This should not be strange to a believer, for remember Jesus’ comments when He was in the midst of His earthly ministry:

Matthew 10:34-36

34 Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn

a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

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

36 and a man’s enemies will be

the members of his household.

It is reasonable to conclude that the gospel message that you convey to others is either going to draw a person near to you, or it will push the other person away from you.  It’s the same consistent message, but it depends upon the heart of the respondent as to which direction the person will go.

Have you checked your moral compass lately?  Do you have the proper focus in looking to Jesus Christ in everything that you do?  When others look at you, do they see you as salt and light in the world, or do you just blend in with everyone else?  These are important questions for the believer, and they require honest answers.  A believer in Jesus Christ is compelled by the love of Christ and the love of other people to serve Him for His glory.  A believer, as a result, should never blend in.

Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

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.

In order to glorify God through Jesus Christ, you, as the moral compass of your sphere of influence to others, must continually show yourself as a vision of hope before those who are seeking the truth.  The very meaning of hope is to create the expectation that good things can happen in one’s life.  According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, hope is a “trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Hope, is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance–the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.” Hope is a key element in the knowledge and understanding that comes in a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and how we are to love others, as well:

1 Corinthians 13:13

Now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

In today’s world, those who are sincerely seeking the truth will want answers; therefore, they will seek out the persons who have godly character and who demonstrate the practice of living in truth.  While some will reject the truth, believers in Jesus Christ will possess the mind of Jesus Christ and will strive to live according to His will.  A true believer will live in accordance to the Great Commission and want to see people saved for Jesus Christ.

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

How does a person regarded as a “moral compass” convey this hope to others?  There are four points that we will cover today whose first letters will each spell the word “hope.”  You will stand out as a moral compass that provides guidance and direction with your daily approach in these areas:

1. Humility

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Proverbs 22:4

The result of humility is fear of the Lord,

along with wealth, honor, and life.

Humility is the first step that every person must take when they first acknowledge the need for a Savior.  It begins there and continues throughout life as a believer as one grows and develops in the wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word.  This wisdom and knowledge begins with the appropriate reverence for God in your life–it requires a life of humility.

Psalm 111:10 (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.

    To him belongs eternal praise.

Humility leads to the next acronym–

2. Obedience

You cannot love God and show God’s love to others, without being obedient to His Word.

The evidence of your obedience will be apparent in your daily, consistent approach in how you remain obedient and convicted to God’s Word.  It is your daily walk as that moral compass that will show the importance of trusting God and His Word to others.  You will show that obedience to God’s Word really matters.

1 Peter 1:20-23

20 He (Jesus Christ) was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.

Note that this obedience requires faith, which is a necessary component in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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.

3. Prayer-filled

In order to be humble before the Lord and obedient to His Word, a life devoted to prayer must be in the mix.

Ephesians 6:18

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

Your prayers are not just personal, but also for those persons that you interact with on a daily basis.  Prayer is a mighty force when you petition God to touch the people in your life to make a decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  When people know that you are prayerful and are sincerely praying for them, it speaks a powerful message of your love, care and compassion for others.

4. Exemplary

To be exemplary is to set the best example of living before others.  It is when you exhibit a great demeanor, a positive presence, and exceptional behavior as a believer in Jesus Christ where others will be drawn to you.  To be exemplary is not about being perfect, or even being the best at everything you do–you still need to show yourself to be a human being that recognizes when mistakes are made and own up to them.  In sporting events or competitions, you are to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.  Your exemplary behavior will draw people near to you, and also to Jesus Christ, when you show your love and concern for others.  This is the essence of your life as a moral compass standing up for Jesus Christ and standing out while living for Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:12

12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

John 13:12-17

12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am.14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

16 “I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

The “moral compass” has an important role in the body of Christ—both for the individual and for those he or she interacts with.  It starts with the reliance of the Holy Spirit in making all decisions, and it continues as you live for Jesus Christ in providing hope to others who need to make a decision for Him.  Your mission in the Great Commission is to show others the love of Christ through humility, obedience, prayer and exemplary behavior.  It is living in the best way that you can in being salt and light in the world before others, and it begins with your faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines.


Standing Firm in God’s Truth

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:

How do you handle the truth? It is difficult to deal with, because the reality is that truth hurts. We are often not willing to accept it. Truth often deals with our attitude and our behavior, and often we run from truth.

If you took the time to write down the things of truth in your life (and if you are honest about it), you would not like what you would see. God wants us to acknowledge who we are as sinners. We try to hide from the truth and say we are good, or we will even blame our issues on others. No matter how we may feel, God speaks to us in the truth through His Word.

Romans 3:3-4
3 What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? 4 Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written:

That You may be justified in Your words
and triumph when You judge.

John 8:44-45
44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

Most people who rather believe the lie instead of truth to avoid acknowledging it. The church is often confused, in much the same way, as to what is truth and what to believe. Either we stand on the truth and God’s Word or we choose to believe what Satan has to say, and he is a liar.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, 10 and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.

Satan will be setting up many for deception and to believe in his lies, and he will cause many to fall to the side if not perish altogether. He is successful in the lives of those that choose not to love and accept the truth.

When you begin to believe the truth, it will greatly affect your behavior. This is evident to everyone around you. They will see a person who follows truth living a life of purity. There will be a life of productivity and improvement. In contrast, those who do not follow truth, trust in His Word and believe in His Word will often manifest behavior that shows an inconsistent life. God promises to train you in every area of life if you trust in Him.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:5
16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

5 But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

A person who believes in Jesus Christ must make sure that he or she reads God’s Word in order to begin the process of believing it, and acknowledging that it is true. We read it, we wrestle with it, and then we believe it; therefore, God begins to speak to us and give us the ability to apply it and share it with others. Note the progression of the believer who earnestly seeks The Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:13
And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Failure to accept truth does not mean that the truth is wrong. Many of us need to set the example before others and uphold His truth when dealing with others who refuse to acknowledge it. A person’s behavior will not change unless they hear the truth and accept it.

Often we get caught up in things such as misbelief and misbehavior, and even superstition. We can believe erroneously in old wives’ tales and things that take our focus off of God through Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 4:7
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness,

1 Corinthians 3:18
No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise.

Galatians 1:6-7
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah.

Matthew 19:16-22
16 Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:

Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
19 honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.
20 “I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”

21 “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Note that Jesus answered the man’s question, but he did not like Jesus’ answer. As a result, he was unhappy because he chose not to follow Jesus’ advice. This is exactly what happens when we fail to be obedient to God’s Word and when we lack faith.

Mark 6:4-6a
4 Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.” 5 So He was not able to do any miracles[a] there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was amazed at their unbelief.

The only thing that can overcome a lack of faith or one who believes in lies is to teach the truth.

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.

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

There are many in our midst that are all of one mind that will welcome those who are in unbelief. They are malicious and spiteful, and in the case of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, they happened to be the religious leaders of the time.

Matthew 3:7-8
7 When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.

Just because you choose to make an alliance with others who are unbelievers does not mean you are in a good place or that you can rationalize your position. God challenges us not to use our own reasoning or way of understanding–He wants you to listen to Him and to reason with Him. It will work with each one of us who seeks His Word and His understanding, and He will give us correction and direction.

In the 19th Century, it was the free thinkers that came up with evolution and the development of life forms–which means no creator and; therefore, no God. In the 20th Century, the move was towards modernism–modern practices because “everyone was doing it” and that is what made it right. In the 21st Century, the movement has evolved to hatred of God’s Word, where man knows more than God and the desire to move away from truth. Today, there is a demand for a new doctrine (teaching) that is not according to Scripture; as a result, society dictates to the Christian that they will need to abandon God’s truth in order to adapt and survive in today’s culture. We are being challenged daily to follow truth and to look to God for guidance and answers.

Acts 5:29
But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.

Hebrews 13:20-21
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, 21 equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 7:21
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Romans 3:4
Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written:

That You may be justified in Your words
and triumph when You judge.

Lord, we pray for those who may doubt you that you will release them from their unbelief, for your Word is true and it will provide guidance and training in everything that they will do. Help us to be obedient to You and to Your Word and to seek you with a desire to learn and grow in You. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.


The Prince of Peace

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

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

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

Luke 2:10-14

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 19:41-42

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

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

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

Isaiah 42:18-22

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

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

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

John 9:35-41

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 12:49-54

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

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

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

Matthew 21:1-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  The donkey

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

Isaiah 9:6

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

2.  The clothing and the palm branches

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

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

Revelation 7:9

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

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

3.  The use of the word “Hosanna”

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

Psalm 118:25

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

Mark 11:8-10

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

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

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

John 3:16-17

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

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

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

John 14:27

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

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

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.