Tag Archives: live

The Church and its Priesthood (Part 4)

Today’s message summary of September 3, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The people of the church are the priesthood of the church.  The people hear the voice of the Spirit and are the teachers and disciples of the church.  These are the people that are moved to live for Christ even outside the walls of the church.  The priesthood leans on Jesus Christ and believes that He is the one who accomplishes what they set out to do.

The priesthood is comprised of teachers.  They teach the people of God and to those who are willing to listen to the words and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10

And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

God gives His people a reason and purpose to live as His priests.  The reason and purpose is to serve Him.

The author of the cause:  to produce, to construct, to form and fashion.

Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

The purpose of the priest is to teach God’s people.

The priests of the Old Testament were expected to live out their lives in the same way that they gave instruction.  This remains true today.  A priest is to have a sober mind and be sharp.

Leviticus 10:8-11

The Lord spoke to Aaron: You and your sons are not to drink wine or beer when you enter the tent of meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations.  You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given to them through Moses.

Priests are not only to teach but to live according to what is being taught.

Ezekiel 44:23

They must teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.

Teaching must have an element of demonstrating its truth (The KJV refers to discernment, while the NIV version is to show, or to make known.).

Hosea 4:6-9

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.  The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me.  I will change their honor into disgrace.  They feed on the sin of My people; they have an appetite for their transgressions.  The same judgment will happen to both people and priests.  I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.

Some people will have knowledge, but it will be the wrong knowledge.  Do you have knowledge based upon your own understanding, or the knowledge that comes from 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.

 

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Live for Jesus Christ with PASSION!

Today’s message of April 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

There are plenty of messages that reach out to those who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ.  I sense that there is a great need, however, to encourage believers to get better and stronger in their own faith.  It is too often that believers in Jesus Christ have poor growth and development, or even irregular or inconsistent growth spurts that may build up in one area but remain inadequate in others.  If we can show and help people, including non-believers, to see that being a believer in Jesus Christ is attractive and an admirable attribute, then we can leave it up to the Holy Spirit to prick the hearts, minds and souls of those who are on the fence to get off and declare Christ as Lord in their lives.

This past weekend, we explored how believers can take the necessary steps to live for Jesus Christ with PASSION.  It involved self-examination and self-evaluation, and it gives recognition that you are a special creation in God’s eyes—He knew of you and all about you before you were even conceived—and that you have your own uniqueness with God-given talents, gifts and abilities.  When you recognize your true purpose in Jesus Christ, you are on your way to serving Him and glorifying Him with your greatest potential being realized!  He wants you to be successful in your efforts to move people to see the grace and glory of Christ in everything you do!  This PASSION is the realization that you are truly living according to His purpose, and you are unstoppable!  Satan can try to slow you down, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, He sustains you, protects you, and gives you the ability to overcome adversity and shine before others.

So what is this PASSION?  It is the realization of a fulfilling life in Christ.  It is the ongoing effort to be the best that you can be in Christ.  He wants you to grow and learn through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.  All of this, however, begins with you:

Your desire to live for Christ.

Your desire to learn more about Christ and your relationship with Him.

Your desire to get involved in this thing called the Great Commission, and even if it means doing things outside of the box or challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Passion describes the height of emotion, and it reflects a powerful emotional connection to Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit facilitates this connection with encouragement, reinforcement and guidance.  A passion-filled believer serves Jesus Christ with the confidence of one who knows who he or she is in Christ, and is readily available.  When Isaiah received the call and prompting from the Lord, his response was “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  A passion-filled believer accepts the call and goes forth to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Do you have the passion for Jesus Christ that He really desires for you to have?  If you are confident in your abilities and are aware of the talents and gifts that God has given you, then you are certainly on your way.  If you lack the drive and energy that it takes to truly shine before others as you live your ministry, consider that you can find this passion if you truly seek the Lord and consider the following requisites of being a passion-filled believer.

The P in PASSION represents principled.

Principled believers adhere to a lifestyle that honors God and keeps His commands.

They rely upon the wisdom and words of God for daily living.

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 A in PASSION represents the abundant life.

The ultimate goal of every person, believer or not, is to live an abundant life.  A life of abundance has nothing to do with money.  It has everything to do with living in Christ’s power and energy as you serve him each and every day, and the joy that you experience knowing that you are living life to the fullest for Him!

John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

What is the abundant life?  It depends on how you look at it.  The non-believer, or even some believers, may associate abundance with wealth or riches.  That is not God’s definition of abundance.  He wants you to have a life that overflows with God’s presence in every aspect of your existence.  He wants you to experience the completeness of life according to His will and purpose for you.  The effect of an abundant life will be the blessings of life that God will show you because of your faithfulness to Him.

When you get right down to it, the only thing that keep us from living the abundant life is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ over the enemy.  The enemy is Satan, who is described in John 10:10 as the one who seeks to kill and destroy, but God’s power and ability overcomes anything and everything that Satan can do.  The key to living the abundant life is to resist Satan and to seek and remain in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

James 4:7 NIV

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You are worth so much more in your relationship with Jesus Christ!  In order to experience the abundant life, you will have to throw caution to the wind and life a life of faithfulness in trusting the words of Jesus Christ.  He wants so much more for you!  A passion-filled believer lives with purpose, and experiences the abundant life in Christ!

The first S in PASSION represents Spirit-filled.

The true abundant life can only be achieved by the believer in Jesus Christ.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that enables you to achieve this abundance and live a passion-filled existence!

Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is instantaneous upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, but the Spirit does not turn the believer into a mind-numbed robot.  You have to allow the Spirit to be in control in order to offset your own fleshly nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Being Spirit-filled means successful living in reverence and service for Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit teaches believers how to live a Christlike existence, and His lessons are invaluable as He sanctifies with His presence.

Being Spirit-filled gives you the ability to live a life a passion for Jesus Christ:

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  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.

The second S in PASSION stands for sanctified.

The Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is a sanctifying presence.  Sanctification is the combination of the believer’s growth in the likeness of Christ. It is the accumulation and application of God’s wisdom and knowledge from none other than Jesus Christ, who A. B. Simpson refers to as “The Sanctifier.”  Jesus Christ proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the One who will teach and remind believers of the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:26 ESV

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit works within you from the moment of your conversion in recognition that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.  It is best described as an ongoing cleansing process as you put off the old and grow in your new life in Jesus Christ.

Sanctification is what God desires for your life.  You cannot live a life of passion in Christ without sanctification, because it is the essence of an obedient lifestyle.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Sanctification does not mean a life of perfection, but it does mean that you desire to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  It means that the believer desires a greater faith walk and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and both of these requires a humble, teachable role within the presence of the Spirit.

The I in PASSION represents being an influencer.

Sharing your faith, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, is influential.  The words spoken are given with conviction and in righteousness to those who hear them.  A passion-filled believer is speaking in accord with the will of God, who desires for every person to enter into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

There is a difference between an influencer and a coercer.  An influencer shows the love of Christ in their speech to others.  One who coerces is not really allowing the Spirit to work in the life of the hearer.  The words spoken are to reflect the love and concern of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

An influencer provides words of wisdom and knowledge about not just the gospel, but everything that is beneficial.

Proverbs 9:9 ESV

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The O in PASSION represents being obedient to God and His Word.

Being obedient to God means loving Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), and it includes an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:15 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

1 John 5:3 ESV  

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Loving God and obedience to Him are synonymous.  You cannot do one without the other.  A passion-filled believer strives to live in faithfulness and trust in the Word each day.

And finally, the N in PASSION represents being a new creation in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ’s sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit transforms you as a new creation each day.  Your actions of reading, studying, meditating on His Word and living out a faithful life in Jesus Christ is a constant life transition that will also show the growth and development as a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 HCSB

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.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

This ongoing “newness” in Jesus Christ is an ongoing development.  Our challenge is to remain close to Him, and in our closeness, obedience and service to Him, He will continue to renew us as we strive for holiness.  He continues to provide us with the ability to resist sin and those things that block our ongoing transformation to a place of freedom and righteousness in His name.  We are being made new every day in Jesus Christ!  A passion-filled believer puts nothing above the importance of fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Principled.

Abundant Life.

Spirit-filled.

Sanctified.

Influencer.

Obedient to God and His Word.

New Creation.

Each of these requisites will lead to a believer truly living a passion-filled, abundant life in service for Jesus Christ.  If you are ready to take your relationship with Jesus Christ to the next level, He only wants you to take steps of faith towards Him, and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit will continue to work in you and sanctify you in your efforts to serve Him.  He will affirm you with blessings and enable you to endure any opposition.  You will become a positive influence before others as a light in a dark world, and an encourager to those who need it most.  As the Holy Spirit fills and sanctifies you, it is only a matter of time before you can live a passion-filled life in Jesus Christ!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Your Declaration

Today’s message summary of January 1, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God is the One who delivers us from year to year. He is worthy of our praise throughout the year, and we want to continue to do so through to the end of this year.

God wants you to receive something from Him, but He also wants you to give something, as well.

He can, and will, give you knowledge and wisdom. In return, He desires for you to live more like Jesus.

Statements, or declarations, give you a specific purpose.  As an example, The Declaration of Independence declared that “all men are created equal,” and the United States Constitution was born out of this declaration.

Scripture also has a number of declarations that are intended to challenge the reader.  It is important for the reader to take note of them in order to truly live in such a way that is to be more like Jesus Christ.

Look at this declaration that David makes, and then look at what follows his statement.

Psalm 18:1-3

I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

 

David reflects the love of God and notes the value of the relationship with God that reflect His different qualities and character.

Proverbs 12:18

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

 

Proverbs 18:21

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

It is important for you to believe that your words have a value to yourself and before others.

If you use the words, “I love you, Lord,” do you mean them?

Loving the Lord reveals God’s other attributes:

  1. My Strength
  2. My Rock (building on a solid foundation)
  3. My Fortress
  4. My Deliverer
  5. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge.
  6. My Shield
  7. My Salvation
  8. My Stronghold (KJV uses the word “Tower”)

When you lose sight of the Lord, you lose His value–His real significance in your life and all that He is to you and all that He can do for you.

Your declaration reminds you of all that Jesus is to you–His real meaning to you in your life.

There is a value in coming to church every Sunday in that it is a reminder as to who we are to serve every day.  We are not to forget who we serve and who we live for.  W. H. Brewster said, “Some things you can’t say, but you can sing.”

We also need to recognize that we make choices that we must reckon with.  We can cry and moan over them, or we can get up and go back to living!  Sometimes the situations that we are in occur well after we make the decision to put aside the Lord and not follow Him.

Psalm 137:1-6

By the rivers of Babylon–there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!

 

Don’t allow your personal feelings to determine how or when you should praise the Lord. Even in the worst moments, God wants you to have the desire to sing the praises of God.  People need to hear your voice to hear His message of hope, joy, peace and encouragement.

We, as believers, are strangers and pilgrims in this land.  We are aliens in this world.  That should not stop you from singing, preaching or telling others about Jesus.

As God has given you life for this new year, then he has a purpose for you through this year.  We are called to serve Him.

1 Peter 2:11-12

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 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.

 

No one can steal your joy of the Lord.  No circumstances can remove your joy of the Lord if you choose to rejoice in Him.

The Lord will honor your faithfulness to your declaration. He keeps His promises to us.

Psalm 132:10-14

Because of Your servant David, do not reject Your anointed one. The Lord swore an oath to David, a promise He will not abandon: “I will set one of your descendants on your throne. If your sons keep My covenant and My decrees that I will teach them, their sons will also sit on your throne forever. For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home: “This is My resting place forever; I will make My home here because I have desired it.”

 

Revelation 21:10-11

He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.

 

Remember your relationship with your Lord and Savior and give Him honor and praise in the New Year.


Ready, Willing and Able

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

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

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

Acts 1:8 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

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

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

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

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

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

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

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

Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

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

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

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

Isaiah 11:2 ESV

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

Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV

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

John 14:15-17 ESV

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

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

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

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

Matthew 24:14 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

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

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Fourth Seal: Death & Hades

Today’s message summary of October 25, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 6:7-8

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come! And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. The horseman on it was named Death, and Hades was following after him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.

Death is coming eventually.  It is comes in many different ways, but God is greater than death.

Jeremiah 14:14-17

But the Lord said to me, These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, though I did not send them, and who say, There will never be sword or famine in this land. By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end. The people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be no one to bury themthey, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will pour out their own evil on them. You are to speak this word to them:
Let my eyes overflow with tears;
day and night may they not stop,
for the virgin daughter of my people
has been destroyed by a great disaster,
an extremely severe wound.

 

Hosea 13:12-14

Ephraims guilt is preserved;
his sin is stored up.
Labor pains come on him.
He is not a wise son;
when the time comes,
he will not be born.

I will ransom them from the power of Sheol.
I will redeem them from death.
Death, where are your barbs?
Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from My eyes.

 

People need to be able to turn the right way to the Lord in order to live.  Without the Lord, they are lost.  God will rescue those who seek Him and declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God is so close to coming back, and many do not know what to do.  Even though God has compassion for those who have sought for Him, He will show no compassion for those who do not know Him.

The pale green horse referred to in Revelation 6 is noted as a sickly color.  In the Phillips translation it uses the word “grave” instead of “Hades.”

Deuteronomy 32:34-43

Is it not stored up with Me,
sealed up in My vaults?
Vengeance
 belongs to Me; I will repay.
In time their foot will slip,
for their day of disaster is near,
and their doom is coming quickly.

The
 Lord will indeed vindicate His people
and have compassion on His servants
when He sees that their strength is gone
and no one is left
slave or free.
He will say:
Where are their gods,
the
rock they found refuge in?
Who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offerings?
Let them rise up and help you;
let it
 be a shelter for you.
See now that I alone am He;
there is no God but Me.
I bring death and I give life;
I wound and I heal.
No one can rescue anyone from My hand.
I raise My hand to heaven and declare:
As surely as I live forever,
when I sharpen My flashing sword,
and My hand takes hold of judgment,
I will take vengeance on My adversaries
and repay those who hate Me.
I will make My arrows drunk with blood
while My sword devours flesh

the blood of the slain and the captives,
the heads of the enemy leaders.

Rejoice, you nations, concerning His people,
for He will avenge the blood of His servants.
He will take vengeance on His adversaries;
He will purify His land and His people.

 

As noted in this passage, the day of the world’s disaster is coming soon.

Note that the book of Revelation is not a book of doom, but a book of revelation, salvation and how God is to be glorified in how He will keep His people.

Referring back to Revelation 6:7-8…the pale horse’s rider is Death.  Death is coming in such a way that it is unforeseen and in an unprecedented way.

The fourth seal talks about a mass death, or one-fourth of the world’s population.  In 2009, the world population was reported to be 6,783,421,727 people.  One fourth of that number would be 1.8 billion people, which is about the same number of people as in the United States and in China.

Matthew 24:22

Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.

 

It is still the time of God’s salvation.  Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2

For He says:

I heard you in an acceptable time,
and I helped you in the day of salvation.

 

Isaiah 49:8-9

This is what the Lord says:

I will answer you in a time of favor,
and I will help you in the day of salvation.
I will keep you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land,
to make them possess the desolate inheritances,
saying to the prisoners: Come out,
and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.
They will feed along the pathways,
and their pastures will be on all the barren heights.

 

The first seal represents conquest.

The second seal removed peace and men were to slay one another.

The third seal represents famine.

Death is the fourth seal.

With the seal of death following the first three seals, Revelation reflects the emergence of different types of death to be experienced by different people.

Today, death is taking place in a variety of ways that we have not seen before.

Death may come about:

  1. By the sword. The weapon of that day.  Note that the weapons of today are guns, bombs, knives, etc.
  2. By famine. People will be unable to eat–there will be no farming.  There will be food shortages.  War will destroy farmland, and there will be no one to work the land.
  3. By plague. Gangrene, infection, bacteria that ravages the body, including new diseases not previously experienced.

Because of man’s disobedience, death is naturally happening.

Revelation also notes that there will be death by wild beasts, as well.  Wild animals normally follow their own food chain, but there will be a need for food by bears, rats, bobcats, wolves, etc.  This is another way that people will experience death because of disobedience.  God will give correction and grab the attention of others who are witnesses.

Ezekiel 14:21

For this is what the Lord God says: How much worse will it be when I send My four devastating judgments against Jerusalemsword, famine, dangerous animals, and plaguein order to wipe out both man and animal from it!

 

Leviticus 26:23-24

If in spite of these things you do not accept My discipline, but act with hostility toward Me,  then I will act with hostility toward you; I also will strike you seven times for your sins.

 

Christians at that time will also experience death in this same way, but God is able to rescue them from the grave!

In Revelation Chapter 6, Hades follows death.  Hades refers to the grave, which is not a place of punishment or torment.  While the body goes to the grave:

2 Corinthians 5:7-9

For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.

 

Philippians 1:21-24

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I dont know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christwhich is far betterbut to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

 

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me. Selah

 

Revelation 1:17-18

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Dont be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but lookI am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.

 

Who is in control of it all?  God is.

Job 19:25-27

But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last,
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.

I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.


Worship in Spirit and Truth

Today’s message summary of February 15, 2015 from Bro. Travis Jackson:

When I was a teenager I remember a church that my family was attending. Many of the members attend this church today. It was a service with hyper-Pentecostalism with cogent doctrinal beliefs. You can imagine how their style of worship would have an effect on me. As a teenager, after being in a church from 11 am to 2 pm, I was ready to go home. Their style of worship was frightening to me, and honestly because it was unspiritual according to James 3:15, but this was the way that they worshiped.

James 3:15

Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

 

In the mid-18th Century there was a Christian sect known as the Shakers. Part of their belief was that they could shake the impurities out of their bodies. That was their form of worship. Their style was similar to how I was raised with the dancing, jumping and gyrating that took place.

My wife, Crystal, and I are very particular about how we worship and how we view worship. While my wife enjoys getting involved with the music, I am much more intellectually involved in worship. In either case, worship is what sets the stage for how God is to speak to those who attend the church.

A church worships God within its cultural context or setting as long as the worship is biblical and based upon biblical truths. It can either be one or the other.

John 4:23

But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.

 

It is important to remain dedicated to worshiping God within the church service.

Romans 12:1-2

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

 

In Romans, Paul is declaring what is proper in worship and what is not. The theme of Romans is justification and the saving righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christians were not only to believe in Jesus Christ, but to live according to His Word, as well. There needed to be a distinction between how Christians lived and how the non-Christians (the pagan worshipers) lived. Paul was capturing the culture of the day in how Romans were worshiping, yet he made the distinction that holy worship of God is distinct from their worship of the gods.

Idolatry is not only worshiping false gods, but it is also worshiping God in a false or insincere way.

Matthew 15:8

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

 

In order for us to worship God in a holy and acceptable manner, we need to understand the nature of holiness. If we are not holy, we cannot present ourselves as a living sacrifice before Him. He will not accept it.

To be holy is to be placed aside and be pure.

Ephesians 5:27

He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

 

Paul uses this same example of holiness in Romans 12:1-2 in the Ephesians passage to show that Jesus wants to present us, the church, which is the universal body of believers to God as holy and blameless. This means that, for each of us, we are holy and blameless in Jesus Christ. Note, however, that if you choose to live a life of sin, you cannot be offered as holy before God. You have to decide to be holy as He is holy.

Paul defines how you are to present yourself as a living sacrifice as a matter of holy worship.

Romans 8:13

…for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

Will your worship of God be hampered by those things that can get into its way? Worldly possessions? Money? Time? All of these things can get into the way of your complete worship of God.

Paul implores each of us to put ourselves on the altar in order to be a living, sanctified testimony for Jesus Christ.

As part of worship, God provided instruction to the Israelites different offerings as a method of preparation and prayer; the burnt offering, the grain offering and the peace offering, the sin offering (purification) and the guilt offering (atonement of committed sin).

Christ is the atonement for our sin. We worship God with prayers and praises today. We do not need to make any offerings as noted above under the New Covenant because we are in Christ and in fellowship with Him.

While we are under the New Covenant, Paul emphatically informed anyone who was in sin to not go to the Lord’s table because of the worship that it represents.

God said to His own Son, “This is my beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:17) His words reflect the nature as to how we are to worship Jesus Christ. He allowed His Son to be our perfect example as to how we are to worship and praise Him.

Worship involves the renewal of your mind. Renewal of your mind is to be mindful of what we watch, or what we take in. God has given you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the ability to discern what is good and pleasing to Him, and that includes what you should allow or not allow in your life.

We have discussed what it is to partake in holy worship, being a living sacrifice, and allowing yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. These are all of the important elements of worshiping Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth.

Worship is also any activity that takes place outside of church, as well. How you live in everything that you do are acts of worship, for you are a steward of what God has provided you.

If you are reading and studying God’s Word, He will provide answers to questions that you have about worship and being obedient to Him. It begins with the knowledge of His Word and being sensitive to His will for you.


The Baptism of Jesus Christ

In our continuing study of Jesus Christ, we are examining His baptism. His act of obedience in allowing Himself to be baptized was a great public example. We need to understand, however, that there is a deeper meaning to it.In Jewish culture, there was no use for baptism. Gentiles, however, were taught of the importance in faith of circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. The scribes and Pharisees, being Jewish, did not regard baptism as part of their worship culture. John the Baptist, who was actively baptizing those who chose to follow God, sometimes chided the Jewish leaders for not recognizing the need for personal repentance.John’s purpose of his ministry:
1. Announcing that the kingdom of heaven was near.
2. Proclaiming the need for repentance of the individual–not for the group. In fact, this was far beyond the norm of the temple sacrifice of the Jewish culture. To be baptized was to make a personal declaration of sin and the desire to follow God
3. John reveals the King of this kingdom–Jesus Christ.

Luke 3:3-6

3 He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

    A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

    “Prepare the way for the Lord;

    make His paths straight!

    5 Every valley will be filled,

    and every mountain and hill will be made low;

    the crooked will become straight,

    the rough ways smooth,

    6 and everyone will see the salvation of God.”

John 1:29-37

 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”

    32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. 33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. ‘ 34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”

    35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!”

    37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus.

John is preparing the hearts of the people, in his ministry, for regeneration of the hearts of men for the appearance of Jesus Christ. John was the one who was to reveal Christ as King and also noted this as the close of one ministry and the beginning of another (John 3:30).

John 7:18-23

18 The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law! Why do you want to kill Me?”

    20 “You have a demon!” the crowd responded. “Who wants to kill You?”

    21 “I did one work, and you are all amazed,” Jesus answered. 22“Consider this: Moses has given you circumcision —not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers —and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath?

Why did Jesus asked to be baptized? He was not baptized because of a need for repentance as it was for others, for He was without sin.

1 Peter 2:22

22 He did not commit sin,

    and no deceit was found in His mouth.

Hebrews 4:15

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

He was baptized to set the example for all of us and to confirm that His kingdom is present. It is a commitment to the work that He would do in His ministry.

John the Baptist provides a picture of Jesus through the words of Isaiah. It is a picture of reverence and understanding of who Jesus Christ really is. If we truly see this, we would have the mindset of always seeking Him in prayer and asking how we can best be of service for Him.

Isaiah 11:1-5

 1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, 
    and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

    2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him —
    a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    a Spirit of counsel and strength,
    a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

    3 His delight will be in the fear of the LORD.
    He will not judge
    by what He sees with His eyes, 
    He will not execute justice
    by what He hears with His ears,

    4 but He will judge the poor righteously 
    and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.
    He will strike the land
    with discipline from His mouth, 
    and He will kill the wicked 
    with a command from His lips.

    5 Righteousness and faithfulness
    will be a belt around His waist.

Isaiah 33:17, 42:1

17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; 
    you will see a vast land.

 1 “This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
    [this is] My Chosen One; I delight in Him. 
    I have put My Spirit on Him; 
    He will bring justice to the nations.

Matthew 3:13-17

 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”

    15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him [to be baptized].

    16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17And there came a voice from heaven:

    This is My beloved Son.

    I take delight in Him!

John 1:29, 32

 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him.

Before His baptism, Jesus was known merely as the carpenter’s son. Afterward, He was known as the Son of Man. It is important to note that Jesus’ public commitment of baptism and humbling Himself before others is to show a dependence to His heavenly Father and to the Holy Spirit for everything that would be taking place. Jesus is our example in how we are to emulate Him in life and in ministry to others.

John 13:12-15

 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.

1 Corinthians 11:1

1 Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.

1 Peter 2:21

21 For you were called to this,

    because Christ also suffered for you,

    leaving you an example,

    so that you should follow in His steps.

Jesus Christ shows the example, through baptism, to committing yourself to the task of ministry, including the act of dying to Himself. He does not deny that He is God, but He readily acknowledges that He is serving the Father and depends upon the Holy Spirit. He shows us that if we do the same, we will be successful in everything as we remain in His will.

John 4:34, 6:38

34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Jesus prayed as He was coming out of the water after His baptism.

Luke 3:21-22

 21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As He was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:

    You are My beloved Son.

    I take delight in You!

Baptism is a symbol of death, burial and resurrection. Our declaration of baptism is a statement represents dying to self (for us, dying to sin) and living for Christ. Note that Jesus willingly went shortly thereafter to the wilderness to experience the temptation that we face on a regulate basis. He is a God that relates to each of us.

The life that Jesus lives is a life in service for God; in the same way, the life that we live is a life in service to Jesus.

Romans 6:3-14

3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished,so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.