Tag Archives: John the Baptist

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.

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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.


Living With the Flesh

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

There are words that we talk about in Scripture such as “persevere” and “endure,” but the only way we can have true understanding is through the heart. In looking at the word “flesh,” there needs to be an understanding of the spiritual things that counter the flesh.

We need to know and understand that the Holy Spirit is what empowers each of us to overcome the desires of the flesh. Without the Spirit of God, we are unable to control the flesh. The flesh will merely feed upon its own desires.

We’re going to look at three people today as a matter of focus in the book of Mark, which will give us a demonstration of what the flesh can and will do. We’re going to look at Solome, Herod and Herodius. None of these persons are born again, but each of them will give us clues about the power of the flesh.

Jesus warns about the power of the Spirit and the flesh, as well.

John 3:5-8
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

To say that one follows Christ must live according to the Spirit of God. If a life does not demonstrate life for Jesus but instead for the flesh is a contradiction of one’s testimony of Christ.

The body or flesh is the outward and visible sign of the flesh or spirit being in control of the person.

Flesh and spirit suggest only two ways for people to live: you will either live according to the flesh, or live according to the Spirit. There is no “gray area” or “middle ground.”

It is God’s will that none should perish, but He allows people to decide for themselves where they desire to be. Is there evidence in how you live your life that will show people that you really love The Lord and desire to live for Him?

The flesh has power to control people.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5 NIV)

Mark 6:14-28
14 King Herod heard of this, because Jesus’ name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why supernatural powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He’s Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet—like one of the prophets.”

16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” 19 So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod was in awe of John and was protecting him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very disturbed, yet would hear him gladly.

21 Now an opportune time came on his birthday, when Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 So he swore oaths to her: “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

24 Then she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”

“John the Baptist’s head!” she said.

25 Immediately she hurried to the king and said, “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter—right now!”

26 Though the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her. 27 The king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.

Josephus the Jewish historian gives us insight into the life of Herodias, the wife of Herod.
Here incestuous marriage shocked the Jews. She was first married to a step-brother by who she had a daughter named Salome. Next, she married her uncle Philip, then she married Philip’s brother, Herod.

Herod enjoyed listening to the words of John the Baptist, who told him the truth about his relationship with Herodias. Even in this you can see how God was trying to reach Herod, but note that the flesh was still in control, and that Herodias had no shame in her relationships; furthermore, it was the flesh that allowed for the manipulation of Salome.

In Mark 6:14-25, observe Herod’s behavior and how he responds to Salome over his wife, Herodias. That is telling in their present relationship.

John was arrested because of Herodias. Herod was hearing truth, and actually wanted to protect John from Herodias by putting him in prison. When Herodias’ daughter danced, she pleased Herod. The idea of exciting one’s emotions is to be taken away by one’s senses. When the flesh is out of control, it will undo your reasoning and common sense. The flesh will suspend your mind from taking action. In verse 22, the flesh has overtaken Herod. He did something that was out of his control because he responded to the flesh. The flesh cause him to lose all memory of John and what he valued of him. The act of succumbing to the desires of the flesh had tremendous consequences, and later moved Herod to regret his actions.

Galatians 5:22-23
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.

Note that the Spirit gives you the power to be in control, while the flesh is the essence of being completely out of control.

The true follower of the Spirit through Jesus Christ cannot stay in, or remain in, sin. God disciplines those that he loves.

1 John 5:18
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

Psalm 38:1-10, 18, 21-22
1 Lord, do not punish me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath. 2 For Your arrows have sunk into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.

3 There is no soundness in my body because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.

5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. 6 I am bent over and brought low; all day long I go around in mourning. 7 For my loins are full of burning pain, and there is no health in my body. 8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart.

9 Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighting is not hidden from You. 10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded.

18 So I confess my guilt; I am anxious because of my sin.

21 Lord, do not abandon me; my God, do not be far from me. 22 Hurry to help me, Lord, my Savior.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing unto us your Word. For that who is born to the Spirit will live in the Spirit and grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Thank you for showing us how the flesh can destroy us. We want to be a people dependent upon the Spirit of the living God. Lord, minister to us in this day and age and help us to overcome the flesh. Put within us a hunger for righteousness and Your truth, and the desire to please You. Thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


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.


John The Baptist: Being Thankful in Prison

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

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

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

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

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

Are we thankful for what we do have?

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

A man who is robbed teaches us four lessons–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Audio – The Lord’s Table: The Body and The Blood

Today’s message on the significance of the Lord’s Table from Melvin Gaines (Body) and Pastor Gus Brown (Blood) in downloadable audio format.  You will need QuickTime or an MP3 player on your computer or music player to listen.

01_The_Lord_s_Table__The_Body_and_The_Blood_-_Part_1.mp3

02_The_Lord_s_Table__The_Body_and_The_Blood_-_Part_2.mp3

03_The_Lord_s_Table__The_Body_and_The_Blood_-_Part_3.mp3

04_The_Lord_s_Table__The_Body_and_The_Blood_-_Part_4_and_Conclusion.mp3


In The Fullness of Time

A summary of today’s message by Pastor Gus Brown:
Galatians 4:4-5
But when the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God has an appointed time for each of us in our lives. He deals with each of us in a very special way.
Acts 7:22-23
So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in his speech and actions. As he was approaching the age of 40, he decided to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel.

Acts 7:30-32
30 After 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came: 32 I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. So Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.

In His timing, Moses was trained and prepared at the appropriate time for a relationship with the living God. It was many years before God appeared to him, but it was clear that he was being prepared for ministry.

Luke 21:23-24

23 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

God uses time to prepare many for ministry. We were once in a time where the law was prevalent, but now we are in a time of faith where we are to believe and trust in Jesus Christ. We were under the law until we, as a people, came of age. We are now conditioned for a Savior as the time of completion according to God’s will.

Galatians 3:25-26

25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Compare this to the anticipation of a special day, such as a birthday or a wedding day. There is a joy that takes place when the day arrives. In the same way, our joy is made complete with Christ’s presence.

God sent Jesus Christ into this world at the appropriate time, which conveys His deity and fulfillment of his purpose. God directs people into our lives for the purpose of ministering to us. Jesus was sent, in the same way, to take away our sin.

Acts 12:6-10

6 On the night before Herod was to bring him out for execution, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” Then the chains fell off his wrists. 8 “Get dressed,” the angel told him, “and put on your sandals.” And he did so. “Wrap your cloak around you,” he told him, “and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they passed the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and immediately the angel left him.

Romans 8:3-4

3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

John the Baptist noted correctly when he referred to Christ as “The Lamb of God” because he was a sin offering for the world. Christ became flesh for us in order to be seen from a human perspective and yet He was still God. He was the inheritance that came from the tribe of Judah, born of a virgin woman, who would sit on the throne and be declared as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Luke 1:26-35

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

   Do not be afraid, Mary, 
for you have found favor with God. 
31 Now listen: 
You will conceive and give birth to a son, 
and you will call His name Jesus. 
32 He will be great 
and will be called the Son of the Most High, 
and the Lord God will give Him 
the throne of His father David. 
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, 
and His kingdom will have no end.

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

 35 The angel replied to her:

   “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, 
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. 
Therefore, the holy One to be born 
will be called the Son of God.

Isaiah 7:14

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

John 17:17-18

17 Sanctify them by the truth; 
Your word is truth. 
18 As You sent Me into the world, 
I also have sent them into the world.

God is the one who uses time to do the work in our lives in amazing ways. When you begin to see that you are operating in such a way that seems peculiar to you, it is God working in your life…a new birth and transformation in your life.

In the same way, God sends us into the world in the fullness of time to minister to others who are in need (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus came in the form of a child to take on our likeness. God gave His Son in order that we would be declared righteous. He is eternal and is the fulfillment of God’s timing for all of mankind. Praise the Lord!

Isaiah 9:6-7

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. 
7 The dominion will be vast, 
and its prosperity will never end. 
He will reign on the throne of David 
and over his kingdom, 
to establish and sustain it 
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. 
The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.

There is so much wrapped up into Christmas Day that we forget to recognize the day for what it is to represent…Jesus Christ. He was sent to us in the fullness of time.