Tag Archives: journey

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.


A Ministry of Presence

A message of November 20, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

My journey to grow further in my personal relationship in Jesus Christ began in earnest just over three years ago when I searched for colleges in pursuit of a Master’s Degree. Once I discovered what I believe is my purpose in the kingdom for Jesus Christ, it has been my desire to pursue what I believed would be the best course for my life.

I was thrilled to share my thoughts with my lovely wife three years ago. She admittedly looked at me with concern about this pursuit. She knew what such a commitment meant, and that there would be moments where I would be in seclusion. It would be tough for me, and sometimes it would be tough for the both of us. The schedule meant that I would be giving up Saturdays for many weeks, and two of our annual vacations in February involved me writing papers for classes. After it was all done this year, I was very, very happy to finish. I never doubted that I would finish, but I also note that it was just the beginning for me.

Once you make a commitment to some sort of ministry, you make a commitment to live your life in service for Jesus Christ. This commitment to Christ is a serious, life-changing step, and when you know what that means, you go after it with gusto.

My next life-growth step involves my study for a unit of clinical pastoral education, which is basically learning how to become a chaplain. There is a lot that I am learning about the profession, and in turn, there is a lot that I am learning about myself. It is not a coincidence, by the way, that we are studying personal spiritual growth in Sunday school each week. Once you learn your purpose, the Holy Spirit will enable you and also pave the way for you to be the best person that you can be in service for Jesus Christ.

In order to be the best person you can be for Jesus Christ, there are some things that are understood for the dedicated believer…faith and trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, and dedication to live a consistent life for Him.

  • Faith and trust

Hebrews 11:6 HCSB

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.

Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB

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

  • Obedience

Joshua 1:8-9 ESV

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 HCSB

When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.

  • A life of consistency

1 Corinthians 15:58 HCSB

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Galatians 6:9 HCSB

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Being the best person for Jesus Christ means looking at these verses and all of Scripture to learn what it is to be a model citizen.  It is your active ministry within both the body of Christ and in your daily travels as a light for Jesus Christ in the world.

Our focus today is on ministry and the development of relationships.  Discipleship, or one-on-one instruction, mentoring and accountability has a starting point, and it involves making and building relationships with others.

You can’t develop a relationship with someone by merely sending a friend request on Facebook.  You can’t do it by using Snap or taking selfies on Instagram.  A real relationship starts and continues with a physical presence—one-on-one.  It is what we will refer to today as a ministry of presence.

Consider how a person, such as a shut-in, or a person who doesn’t receive a lot of company, feels when someone comes by to see how things are going.  It shows your care and concern for a person just by showing up.  Ministry begins when you step out of your zone and reach out to others.  Look at how much you appreciate God’s presence in your life:

Psalm 16:11 ESV

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In a ministry of presence, there are five “BE” statements that apply in relationship development:

  1. Be approachable

Approachability is important in that it defines you as a distinct child of God and as a light in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.  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.  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.”

  1. Be available

Showing yourself as available means that there is nothing that is hindering a visit or your conversation.  You show yourself as genuine when you give your undivided attention to the person.

Jesus wants you to be available to minister to others.  It has nothing to do with your timing or your convenience.  You may live in the Eastern time zone and set your watch accordingly, but effective ministry is calibrated on God’s timing.

Isaiah 6:8 KJV

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

  1. Be patient

This follows being available. There are times when a person that is sharing with you needs to share to get something out or get it off of their chest. There may be a buildup of anger or frustration that needs to come out, and it may take some time.  When you are ministering to someone, it would be rude to put the other person on a time limit or give signals that they are running out of time.  When these moments occur, please consider how patient the Lord has been with you.

Ephesians 4:1-3 HCSB

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

James 1:19 ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  1. Be loving

If you look around, it’s hard at times to find love in the world. If it is so hard for us to see it, then it is up to us to provide it.  Be loving to those who you minister to.

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

1 Corinthians 13:4a

Love is patient and kind.

  1. Just be

This is in line with your act of love.  A ministry of presence means that you should “just be.”  Sometimes the best thing that you can do in ministry is to just listen…just listen to what the other person is saying.  Hearts may be broken and hurts may need to be expressed.  Your words, in response, may be unnecessary or inadequate depending upon the moment.  Being a presence involves care, comfort, and helping someone to see that he or she is not alone.  Just be who you are.

A ministry of presence involves these five “BE” statements:

Be approachable.

Be available.

Be patient.

Be loving.

Just be.

This can be the jump start for your ministry.  Even if you don’t know all of the answers or you’re still learning in your own relationship with Jesus Christ, you can do all of these things as you learn more about serving Him in discipleship.  It means coming out of your comfort zone in faith, obedience and living with consistency for Jesus Christ.  You can do it.

Jesus Christ wants you to live and love others with a ministry of presence.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Divorce (continued from series on Marriage and Family)

A summary of Pastor Gus Brown’s message of October 23, 2016

God’s Word will ultimately judge all of us.  In the area of divorce, the church has covered specific areas, but we need to look at the totality of His Word to cover what divorce is…it is a product of a sinful world.  We are seeing more and more of how divorce affects Christian marriages, and we need to begin to look at how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, can be peacemakers.

Divorce brings anger and bitterness to the relationship.  After all is said and done, can the divorce move to the man and woman being friends and not embittering the children who are involved.

Got never intended for married couples to divorce.  We need to look more at what it represents.

Divorce — to loose, to release, let go, dismiss, depart, put away, send away, set at liberty, freedom.

Divorce replaces God’s authority with our own, moral submission.  It is favoring autonomy (self-will, self-governing).

To deny God’s principle in marriage is to remove the requirements pertaining to the marriage relationship.  It opens for selfish desires that can lead to the mistreatment of the other person.

All relationships on earth are governed by God (Leviticus 18).  They are to be defined by His Word.

A man or woman may have a number of people in their life.  There are many relationships within this…mother, aunt, wife, daughter, sister, friend, father, uncle, husband, son, brother, etc.  Leviticus 18 sets the boundaries that are to exist within these relationships.

If God’s law (His Word) or faith is removed from the relationship, then all that is left to sustain the relationship is the frail emotional bond of one’s feelings (a relationship should not be limited to one’s feelings).

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Where feelings and pleasure are the basis of marriage and not God’s Word, then marriage becomes acts of robbery, where each person is in it for the selfish pleasure, which will lead to a break in the relationship when there is nothing new to be gained.  Do you see why a person can feel as though they have been used and unloved?

Malachi 2:14-16

Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.  Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth. If he hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

James 1:19-21

May dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

  1. Guard yourself. Always remain loyal to your wife.
  2. Avoid violence. Never do anything that causes injury or bloodshed. (You will never act in righteousness if you are angry.)
  3. The garment of injustice. Divorce is using the law of Moses to put the spouse away.

Why is divorce allowed?  Divorce is an accommodation that God has made within a world of sin.

While God is holy, He is not unrealistic.

Even if one person is obedient to God within the marriage, it doesn’t mean the other person will cooperate.

God is aware of our helplessness.  The flesh is weak.

God makes provision for those who are not able to measure up to His demands in a given point in life.

The cross itself reveals the principle of God’s tolerance.  God was willing to tolerate the killing of His Son to keep His own law from condemning us to hell.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Look at divorce from God’s eyes.  God hates divorce.

Why did God write Israel a bill of divorce?  It was because of sin and transgression.

Isaiah 50:1

This is what the Lord says: Where is your mother’s divorce certificate that I used to send her away? Or who were My creditors that I sold you to? (Exodus 21:7) Look, you were sold for your iniquities, and your mother was put away because of your transgressions.

God still loves the sinner, but He does not tolerate the sin.  He will not accept those who willingly break the law.

One of things that happens within a divorce is the culmination of no longer allowing the rules to be broken by a spouse.

Jeremiah 3:8-10

I observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart — only in pretense.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

Unfaithfulness, a lack of fear, adultery, false pretenses of love and security reflect a lack of love for God, and it cannot be faked.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another mans wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if he dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again after she has been defiled, because that would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The grounds of divorce are closely related to Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8-10.

When the woman finds no grace in her husband’s eyes, he or she has stopped being a covenant keeper and image bearer.

Divorce occurs when the relationship falls short of what God is demanding; therefore, God allowing divorce was not evil, but it was dealing with evil.

God knows our journey from beginning to end, He is there to help but does not make our decisions for us.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

The Lord is a Helper.  He helps us to get up.

His promise is to continue to work in our lives.

Philippians 1:6

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

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

A man and woman in a divorce will stumble, but through God’s grace, there is healing and recovery.  They both rise again.


Your Spiritual Journey

Today’s message summary of December 13, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

In recent months, I have come up with a phrase to describe my life today: “Every day is an adventure.”

Every day has its challenges. Some of them are expected, while some are new and require flexibility. If you had plans that day, they can and will change at a moment’s notice.  There’s no reason to get ahead of yourself beyond those moments, because each one requires your full attention.

Matthew 6:34 HCSB

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Every day may indeed be an adventure, but each day, one after another, week after week, month after month and year after year—is a journey.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, your relationship with Jesus Christ makes your journey a spiritual journey.

I would like to provide you with an overview of my own spiritual journey with the hope that it will help you to look at where you are in your life journey with Jesus Christ. What I desire for you to see is how this journey, over time, is not so much better because life gets easier—it won’t get easier—but it will get better because your life in Christ will get richer with your personal growth in wisdom and knowledge because of the Spirit’s involvement in everything you do.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more that you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.”

In examination of my spiritual journey, Roosevelt was absolutely on-target. I had to learn more about who I was as a person in order to come to the realization that I needed to choose Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. From there, I recognized the necessity to make a series of progressions over time to bring me to this point of my journey.

My past as a non-believer was not filled with church experiences; in fact, I seldom went to church. I was only exposed to church on random Easter Sundays, and ironically, those visits involved hearing my grandfather, Rev. Ernest W. Stevens, Sr., preach as a guest speaker at Lee Road Baptist Church or some other church on the east side of Cleveland. I was never involved with church at Christmas time. My parents, at that time, were not believers in Jesus Christ, and there was one King James Version bible in the house that collected dust on a side table.

When I graduated from high school, my first job was work at my uncles’ florist shop in East Cleveland. Of the two uncles, Tyrone was a believer who spoke about the need to accept Christ, and Larry talked about the Lord but was not really following Him. Over the summer, I worked at the shop seven days a week, and I was exposed to a new, entirely different lifestyle. I delivered floral arrangements and took orders over the phone and in-person. A significant experience was dealing with families who had just lost a loved one and orders for bereavement flowers. I also became introspective about the delivery of flowers to funeral homes, where I had to place the flowers on and around the casket of the person. These events are fresh in my mind. In witnessing the aftermath of the death of others, including those of infants who had died prematurely, it made me think more about life and what I had to look forward to.

I listened to the testimonies of my saved uncle and a fellow employee, a young woman named Renee. She mentioned to me that her life was different at that time because of her relationship with the Lord. She used to listen to gospel music and would even sing a few lyrics out loud. She was, and is today, an amazing singer. She also witnessed to my uncle Larry about the Lord. I knew deep down that he liked Renee for her appearance, but she was always a true professional. I respected her approach to life very much, and was a little envious of her contentment. I was anything but content. I was still living at home and I had already bombed out of college. My parents were fighting on a regular basis and were headed for a divorce. Work at the flower shop did not pay a lot, and I had to learn more about money management because I had purchased a new car that I could barely afford.

My past was telling me that my life, at that time, was on the road to nowhere, and it was fast approaching.

I had taken other jobs in order to try to determine what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I circled back to working at the flower shop. In 1986, as the flower shop days were ending, I was invited to a church on the west side of Cleveland—Second Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Roland H. Crowder was the pastor that delivered about two or three Sunday messages where I had decided that enough was enough. I knew that I didn’t have any solutions on my own for where my life was going, but I knew that I needed Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. That June, I went forward and I got baptized two weeks later before some of my friends that I had invited to church. I was 26 years old, and I was baptized with a group of 8 and 9 year olds. Imagine the sight of that!

With a new beginning in Jesus Christ comes a new template of how to live. I knew that Christ was present, but I was still learning about the presence of the Holy Spirit and what all of it really meant to me. I knew where I was, but I could now see that there was more to life than my own personal experiences. God had to teach me that life is more about serving Him than my own needs or desires.

A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, writes about his own moral dilemma in his book, My Own Story, where at age 14, he willfully disobeyed his parents in spite of his own desire to pursue ministry for the sake of fulfilling his own desires. Simpson does not go into detail about what those things were except that they were things that people who aspire for ministry should not do. When his parents found out about it, his mother went off on him!

“It was the day of judgment for me…my mother wringing her hands and pouring out the vials of her wrath while I sat confounded and crushed. …That tragedy settled the question of the ministry. Soon after I…decided to give up these side issues and prepare myself…to be a minister of the Gospel.”

Everyone has a history to reckon with. At the moment that a person comes to Jesus Christ, that history is part of who the person is, but those periods of history become a part of one’s learning experience. A. B. Simpson learned about what it means to be fully devoted to a life with Jesus Christ. Thankfully, from the moment of our conversion to Jesus Christ, the transformation of our hearts and minds begins:

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I made a lot of mistakes, and I still do. My history before I became a believer in Christ consisted of looking to the world for answers to questions and problems. Following the world meant living a sinful lifestyle. After all is said and done, I took very bad advice. I am grateful that God has been merciful to me and has allowed me to learn from my mistakes with minimal consequences.

Lamentations 3:22-23 HCSB

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,

for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

Even though sin is part of our fleshly nature, we learn over time that our Holy Spirit gives us the ability to resist the temptations that lead to sinful behavior. We have power in the Spirit to live a life that honors Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Early in my new life as a believer, God was gradually revealing to me what my talents and gifts were to use in my new faith. I liked art and English as a youth, and while I wasn’t a big reader, I did like to write. I also grew in my verbal communication skills with my career in Collections and as a supervisor. At my first church, I was a greeter, and then soon after that I was selected to teach Sunday school to the teens. My first class subject was the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. God knew that the best way to study His Word was to make me a teacher! It was humbling and yet it launched me to where I am today as an adult Sunday school teacher. I would not be able to do any of these things without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 HCSB

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.

My growth as a believer continued as I developed my communication skills. I was able to finish my undergraduate degree in Business and Organizational Communication at the University of Akron (Go Zips!) in 2002, and it was not long after that when Pastor Gus gave me opportunities to speak from the pulpit. The first couple of times out were a little rough, but I managed to make progress and learn about the preparation and delivery process over time. I learned that while speaking from the pulpit is quite an honor, I was reminded that it is a privilege and that my approach should always be one with prayerful humility.

James 4:6 HCSB

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.

A. B. Simpson was humble in his service. He was willing to sacrifice his time, and even his own personal stature for the sake of reaching people for Christ. His missionaries, educators and staff were all committed to their areas of service because he set the tone for the ministry. He prayed fervently and provided vision, determination and commitment to everything that he was involved in. His example is what I strive to demonstrate to those that I serve in my church and in my workplace. The desire is to honor Jesus Christ, and not myself.

Colossians 3:16-17 HCSB

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In the midst of all of this, my flesh provides constant reminders of my history before Christ. I know that God’s power through the Holy Spirit is ever-present, but the allure of the things that support the flesh make things like “giving up” or “taking a break from Jesus” more appealing. This is where history can no longer determine the appropriate steps for me. I need to treat history for what it is, and remember that as I repent from my sinful past, God no longer remembers those sins. I am also thankful that Jesus took care of all of my sins once and for all.

Hebrews 10:16-18 HCSB

This is the covenant I will make with them

after those days, says the Lord:

I will put My laws on their hearts

and write them on their minds,

He adds:

I will never again remember

their sins and their lawless acts.

Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

It’s been just under thirty years for me as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have grown in my faith and my ability to serve, but it was not until recently where I was very confident that I was in the place that God would have me to be. My next steps involve looking into serving as a chaplain or pursuing ordination with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’m sincerely open to what God has in store for me, and I readily acknowledge that, even after I obtain my Master’s degree, I still have a lot to learn as I exercise my faith.

Philippians 2:12-13 HCSB

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

As a Sunday school teacher, it is prudent for me to continue to practice what I teach—ongoing reading and meditation of the Scriptures and living a life of fullness in Christ wherever I may be.

Your spiritual journey in Jesus Christ, from today forward, continues.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines