Tag Archives: love

Giving Thanks Through Worship

Today’s message summary of November 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

 

Psalm 100:1-5

Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to God!

Serve the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God.

He made us, and we are his

his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever;

his faithfulness, through all generations.

 

Psalm 100 is very simple to understand.  It is the shortest psalm in the Bible and very memorable.  It is sung during several worship services.  If you have attended a Reformed Presbyterian church, you would have heard this presented as part of a doxology.

Take notice of the title of Psalm 100.  It is written as a psalm of Thanksgiving.  It is also referred to as a psalm of giving praise.  Both references are correct.  Giving thanks is a way of showing appreciation to God for what He has done.  It is an act of worship.

Psalm 100 has two parts.  The first three verses acknowledge God for who He is, and the last two verses worship Him.

The first command in the psalm is in verse 2, where you are asked to serve Him.  In verse 3, we are two know who He is, and is verse 4, we are to give thanks to Him.  The psalm was written for public worship.  In Jesus’s time, the people would have read this psalm within the synagogue.  The people would publicly assemble to come together in a unified presence to praise God.  It was to be done with exuberance.  It is an invitation to come together with excitement!

Everyone, throughout the world, was invited to worship and praise Him.  It was not a song relegated to the Jews.  People were to shout to Him with gladness!  If you can picture everyone coming together to recognize a king or queen, you can imagine the crowd forming and celebrating loudly.  Thousands and thousands of churches are all worshiping right now in this manner.  There is certainly nothing wrong with making a joyful noise unto the Lord!

This praise was (and is) to be a praise of reverence.  While the physical buildings that existed from the days of Jesus and the Old Testament, we are now able to worship the Lord through our own bodies. Jesus declared that our own bodies are temples before Him.  God deserves all praises from mankind and for all of creation.

Luke 19:40

He (Jesus) answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”

Note that Psalm 95 has a similar approach to Psalm 100:

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord,

shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation!

Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving;

let us shout triumphantly to him in song.

For the Lord is a great God,

a great King above all gods.

The depths of the earth are in his hand,

and the mountain peaks are his.

The sea is his; he made it.

His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

the sheep under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice.

 

The first command in Psalm 100 is to serve…as in serve the Lord (Psalm 100:2).

The word “serve” describes the act of working or worshiping as a slave before God.  Being a slave for God implies ownership (not in the negative sense of slavery within US history).  God is to be feared as our Master.

Colossians 3:22

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Dont work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

When you note that we are servants of God, it means that there is a reverence for Him.  In the same way that servants have masters, God does not want His true servants to do what they want to do.  Because we are in the flesh, we are to remain obedient to the Lord because it is in our best interest.  When we serve Him, we are to do so with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Psalm 2:10-12

So now, kings, be wise;

receive instruction, you judges of the earth.

Serve the Lord with reverential awe

and rejoice with trembling.

Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry

and you will perish in your rebellion,

for his anger may ignite at any moment.

All who take refuge in him are happy.

 

When we serve the Lord, we are being obedient to Him, and we are doing so with gladness.

The epitome of Sunday service worship is summarized in Psalm 100:2. We came and gathered in this building, and into His presence to worship Him.  The building itself is physical and could disappear tomorrow, but we could still gather as a group without the building and worship Him as members of the body of Christ.

The reverence and holiness of God is to be taken into account:

Exodus 20:18-21

All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance.  You speak to us, and we will listen, they said to Moses, but dont let God speak to us, or we will die.

Moses responded to the people, Dont be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear him and will not sin.  And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the total darkness where God was.

 

It is to remind us to not sin against the Lord.  Whether we are gathered in a group or even praying and meditating alone before Him, we are to keep the fear of the Lord on our hearts.  Your understanding of who the Lord is will help to dictate your own behavior.  Those who have little to no fear of Him will often only live for themselves.

Be mindful that when you serve the Lord, your service is an act of worship.  Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily and willing perform this service.  Please note, however, that such service without reverence and faith is meaningless.

The second command in Psalm 100 (verse 3) is to know the Lord.

Knowing the Lord is also referred to throughout the book of Ezekiel and in many parts of the Old Testament.  To know the Lord is to take the time to learn about who He is.  It helps you to learn about how to not sin against Him, and He encourages you to be obedient to Him.

Psalm 100:3-4

Acknowledge that the Lord is God.

He made us, and we are his

his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

 

Getting to know who He is puts the focus on Him.  When we take our focus off of Him, that it when things start to slip.  If your focus is on the glory of God–and of Christ, then your desire should be to learn more about Him each and every day.

Romans 9:20-21

But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, Why did you make me like this? Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

The God of the universe is indeed the Potter, and He has created everything.  His love and His holiness cannot be contained because that is the essence of who He is.

The third command is to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 100:4).  Note that giving thanks to the Lord is not just relegated to the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is far more than that.  Giving thanks to the Lord is an act of worship, and that is to be done throughout the entire year.  It is an act of worship that others in your life should readily see—and wonder.

Giving thanks is not just about having something like food or possessions.  We give thanks to the Lord because of His goodness.  If a person who has nothing can still give thanks to God for who He is, then they understand the character and nature of a holy and righteous God.  One’s circumstances may change, but the nature of God never changes.

Psalm 100:5

For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

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The Church and Salvation: Two Ministries

Today’s message summary of October 29, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

When you are in the church and you have declared Christ as your personal Savior, He gives you the desire to minister to others.  Ministry requires discipline and getting more and more into the Word of God.

All of us have two ministries.  Everything falls within them.  The first ministry involves your church–your family of disciples.  The other ministry involves your community.  Jesus provides examples where He was active in both of these ministries.

Ministry is not to be driven by “impact” or “numbers” or “success.”  While we want to have an impact in the lives of people and see church membership grow, ministry only has one thing that drives it within one’s heart, and that is obedience to God.

Many people follow Jesus for different reasons, including the receipt of His blessings, but leave out the importance of remaining obedient to Him.

John 4:34

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

Do you have a desire and goals to actively do God’s work?

The reason why people don’t actively see God working in their lives is because they don’t really seek after doing the things that God would have them to do.  When you are actively seeking His presence, He will show you what He can do.

John 5:36

“But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish.  These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me.

When God is using you and there is evidence that His work is flowing through your efforts, it is a testimony of God’s work through your life.  God is actively moving and working in the lives of those who are obedient to Him and to His will.  Their ministry testifies that God is using them.

John 6:38

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

Your obedience to God shows that His will is important to you.

Ministry involves your will surrendering to God’s will.

To do ministry, you cannot do it in your own power or strength.  It will only truly work when you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him work in your life.

How many of you attempt to do something, and it fails?  In failure comes learning.  It is an opportunity to learn something.

You should never be satisfied when nothing is attempted.  God is the One who can give the victory if you strive to do His work more and more.

Your ministry matters, because it reveals your obedience, and the results of ministry reveals God’s faithfulness in the work He assigned you.

1 Corinthians 3:5-10

What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God’s coworkers.  You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.  But each one must be careful how he builds on it.

Ministry has a staring place and must be defined.  Jesus reflects this within His own ministry.

  • Jesus is starting with His own (Matthew 15:24).
  • Do not go among the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6).
  • Begin in Jerusalem…ministry in your own home and family (Acts 1:8)
  • Judea: your neighbors, co-workers–the people around you.
  • Samaria: people who are different, your enemies, and people you don’t like.
  • To the world: everyone else, especially people you do not know.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus sends people to those that are known first (family and friends) because He wants people to work their way up to eventually go out before others over time.  People who are in ministry need time to grow within the ministry.  Mistakes will happen, but experience in ministry is a good teacher.  The Holy Spirit will provide guidance within this learning opportunity.  All that He desires is your obedience and to keep trying.

As you gain more experience, you will see how God will send you out further and further in your ministry–even to minister to those who are your enemies.  Jesus taught His disciples as to how they could do battle with their enemies, but they first had to learn how to love one another and minister to one another before they were sent out.


Why Should Christians Care About the Church?

Today’s message summary of July 2, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church gets criticized in many different ways.  People who attend will often say that it can be boring.  Please understand that, when you love someone, it is not boring.

Other criticisms include that the church is old-fashioned or not modern enough.  Note that the world who never go to church will offer their own critiques of church that people who do attend church will agree with.  Church is not just for Christians–it is for anyone who desires to know more about Jesus Christ.

The church experience should be one where Christians really love the church.

Ephesians 5:23

…for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of the body.

One of the biggest issues about loving the church is missing the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.  We serve a sovereign God.  We have to believe it along with simply stating it.

Ephesians 1:22

And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church.

Colossians 1:18

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

You are to love the church because Jesus Christ leads it.  It is a place to come to learn and grow, and yes, to be sharpened.

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ love the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

The church’s purpose is to help the people of God holy.  It is done through the work of the Holy Spirit, and He is the Teacher within the church about holiness.

If the church does not get involved with you, the relationship between you and the church is only superficial.  Your participation in church allows you to hear the wisdom of others through God’s guidance.

Ephesians 5:29-30

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

Another reason to love the church is that Jesus Christ and the church are one.

Ephesians 5:32

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The church is the bride of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealously, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband–to present a pure virgin to Christ.

The church is like Eve–Adam’s bride.  Eve came out of Adam (Genesis 2:22).

Romans 11:36

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.

When it comes to The Trinity, we have to learn to dance with God.  The Church was designed by God to be a dance studio to teach us to stay in step with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father.  We are dancing with all three.

Dancing and relating to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is no simple thing.  No one gets the hang of it quickly or permanently.  Why?  Because there is always a new step you have to learn and another turn added within the dance.  With all of this, you still will have to follow His leading.

It seems difficult, if not impossible, but the Holy Spirit is a great teacher.

John 14:17

He is the Spirit of truth.  The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

Without God, it seems wrong, or even foolish, and even sometimes downright stupid to dance with Jesus.  But you know better because you know Him and trust in Him.

Do you really know the Holy Spirit and understanding His voice?  His presence?

The church carries us through the pain and darkness of our lives.  It is there to be the light when there is no light.  It is there to provide encouragement.  It is there for us until we learn to dance smoothly with Jesus, and become actively involved in church life.

Once you become more active in church life, then you really will begin to grow.  Not just within the four walls of the building, but when you are living for Christ everywhere you go.

The church is a partial fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth.  It serves as a primary agent of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:13

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

It is in the church the inward disciplines with outward expressions of spiritual maturity take place.  The church is where you learn to be sharpened.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

We begin to grow in the church:

Because one is able to excise the fruit of the Spirit.  It does not mean one is mature, but it is a lifelong process.

Galatians 5:22-23a

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

True transformation determines our growth, but our desire is to look more like Jesus Christ in our everyday actions.


Father of Fathers

Today’s message summary of June 18, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

As a 31-year old, I can’t tell you very much about my biological father.  I have only met him three different times.  I don’t know much about him or his family.  On my mother’s side, I can only speak about her and my grandmother, and that is how much I know about my family history.

With that said, the genealogy in the bible has a purpose to identify lineages.

In Genesis, there are genealogies listed that start with Adam and his lineage, and those that follow lead to the promise made to David about the coming Messiah.

Matthew 1:1-17

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

This passage is a good one to examine for Father’s Day as it shows how fathers were preparing other fathers over time.

The point of this message is that your heavenly Father loves you more than your earthly father.  He will never fail you—in spite of your own disobedience to Him.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an example to all of us.

There is not information within these passages to explain the behaviors of some of these fathers. We don’t know if they were living in righteousness or holiness.

The Scriptures do identify that each of these persons does lead to Jesus Christ.  Some of these individuals we do know of, such as Abraham, Boaz and David.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Abraham, in the Christian faith, is recognized as the Father of Faith…but was he a good father?

If you look at his life closely, you would see that he lied often and even committed adultery (with Hagar).  He was far from perfect.  Abraham, at the behest of Sarah, abandoned Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-13

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

If it was not for God’s instruction to send his son off, he would have kept him there.  Out of faith and obedience to God, he listened.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

We are reminded that faith and obedience were most important in the relationship between God and Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sinful behavior.

Of the women who were involved within these genealogies, many of them were outsiders.  In Matthew 11:3, Tamar is referenced.  She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law.  Judah, the father-in-law, was hardly an innocent victim.  It was contrary to the law of God.  We also see Rahab’s name in the genealogy.  She was a prostitute, yet she was praised as a woman of faith who turned out to be David’s grandmother.  Another person, Ruth, is listed.  She was a person of honor, but she was also a Gentile, a Moabite, an outsider.  Moabites are descendants of Lot.

Genesis 19:30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

You see how God moved past the sins of his people and brings different people into the lineage of Christ.

Matthew also wanted us to remember about David and Bathsheba through their adulterous union that led to Solomon.  Uriah, who was a godly man and a friend of David, was one of his most trusted men.  There is great irony in how David, because of his adultery, would have Uriah murdered and try to cover up the relationship.  Remember, God said that David was “a man after His own heart.”  Bathsheba is not mentioned within the genealogy in Matthew, and it was more a point of shame with David.  Nathan’s words of prophecy held true with the turmoil that followed David throughout the rest of his life.  While David failed miserably as a father, he still loved his children.  He still loved his son Absalom, even though Absalom was trying to kill him.

2 Samuel 18:31-33

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Despite David’s sin, he loved his children.  He was willing to trade his life for them.

Solomon, featured in the genealogy, had many, many, many, many wives.  God had declared, of course, that man should have only one wife.

Here is a prophetic verse in Deuteronomy that actually refers to Solomon and his choices:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Solomon’s heart turned from God because of the women he allowed in his life.

Solomon’s wisdom was evident and apparent to everyone, but he was flawed in his fleshliness.

Of the genealogy leading to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that emerges is God’s grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  The fathers listed here were both good and evil; however, God’s grace was present throughout the lives of each of these people.

It was all part of God’s sovereign plan.

Note that Mary, listed in this genealogy, was a descendant of David.  Jesus was still the heir to the throne of David, and Joseph was His earthly father, who was willing to be obedient to God and take on the responsibility to raise Him.

Single mothers:  Are you helping the child in filling the void in his life by ministering to him and help him recognize Christ as the Lord of his life?

Fathers:  You will fail your children and even disappoint them, but it is an opportunity to display the gospel before them.  For all have sinned and fall short of His glory.  Your humble approach will show them that you are a father that unconditionally loves the children and lives according to the commands of God.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Bind them on your heart always;

    tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;


Building the Family (Series Cont’d)

Today’s message summary of February 5, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We’re moving back into the study of building the family.  God is the One who does the work in building and shaping the person, and this applies within the family, as well.

Every dream that you have requires sacrifice in order to bring it into existence, and it involves yielding to the Father according to His will.  Sacrifice is giving up something good to get something even better.

A person should always have the desire to do better.  As a child of God, that is what He desires for you.

With every predicament in life, God requires a new behavior to be developed within the life of the believer.  (New believers are not given more than what they can bear by God; however, there is an expectation of growth and progression for the believer.)

Each believer should experience…

  • A deeper love for God and for others
  • A greater wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ
  • More patience
  • A desire to seek more understanding of others
  • A deeper development in his personal life

When God allows you to go through a crisis or difficulty, it is not just about facing the crisis…it is more about Him dealing with you.

It is easy to run in the other direction or even quit when things get difficult, but God desires to personally develop you.

When you are really to allow God to work in your life, He will guide your steps.  He does not want to see you fail, and it is not His desire to set you up for failure.

Building your own self-worth within the family helps to build the self-worth of others within the family.  Everyone in the family contributes to the life of the family.  There is good, bad and sometimes ugly that makes up the family.

How does God accomplish all of this?

We build a healthy self-worth by seeing life through God’s eyes.  It is not about what you want.  It is about living according to His will.  Your self-worth comes from how God values you.

He sent His Son to die for you.  That is how much He values you.

Most of our lives are busy working at what we want our life to be.

Colossians 1:9-10

For this reason also, since the day we heard this (that you became a believer), we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

 

You desire to do God’s will and not your own.

How does one build his self-worth? Focus on the will of God, and desire spiritual understanding of life.

Romans 12:2

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

 

Psalm 84:11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity.

 

Proverbs 2:3-6

…furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

 

God’s knowledge and understanding is the beginning of growing a good self-worth within yourself.

Your self-image (your own concept of yourself–your identity, your abilities, your self-worth) is what you outwardly want people to see.

Worth:  value, merit, honor.  It is the value that God has placed upon you.

1 Peter 1:18-19

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.


Your IMAGE, A PACT and Finding Your PASSION

Today’s message of January 29, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

We have been spending time over the past few months in Sunday school studying the act of discipleship.  Discipleship involves the ability to communicate the gospel effectively to those who desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and also to be able to come alongside those who are believers in Jesus with encouragement, instruction and accountability.  Both of these actions are Spirit-driven through both your desire to serve Jesus and through the enabling and guiding power of the Holy Spirit.

Your ability to serve requires preparation, including preparatory study, and this involves the practice of living daily in God’s IMAGE.

Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.

Being created in the likeness of God is a big deal! We are the highest honor of His creation, and we were created to be in the family of Jesus Christ, who is also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4):

Hebrews 1:1-3 HCSB

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With this in mind, living in His IMAGE is a great responsibility! To live in His IMAGE is to live in a Christlike manner according to His will, His purpose and His glory!

Romans 12:2 HCSB

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.

1 Peter 2:15 ESV

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Romans 8:28-29 HCSB

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Galatians 3:26 ESV

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

The word “IMAGE” is an acronym of the characteristics of a believer of Jesus Christ living a Christlike existence:

  • The letter “I” is to investigate Scripture, which is more than just reading the bible. It’s digging deep into the Word.
  • The letter “M” is to meditate on His Word in prayer.
  • The letter “A” is to act on His word in consistency and with obedience.
  • The letter “G” is to grow in your faith and mature as the Holy Spirit continues to impart wisdom and knowledge along with your life experiences.
  • The letter “E” is to endure life’s moments and shine before others to glorify God.

Another aspect of growing as an effective disciple for Jesus Christ incorporates this past year’s introduction of effective decision-making as a believer.  It involves making a PACT with Jesus Christ.  It is a commitment to make the best life choices in obedience to honor God and cherish His Word.

The word “PACT” is an acronym for how to be an effective decision-maker as you live for Jesus Christ:

  • The letter “P” is for prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • The letter “A” is to ask God for wisdom within your decision-making (Matthew 7:7-8).
  • The letter “C” is to consult others who can offer their own good advice or wisdom to you before you make decisions. God puts people in your life for this very purpose.
  • The letter “T” is to trust in Jesus to provide you with the best advice as you make your decisions.

Making the right decisions in life will help you to remain consistently obedient to Jesus Christ, and in this process, the Spirit will help you to conform to living as Jesus desires for you to live.  It helps you to go beyond what only the world, or even the flesh, offers.

Matthew 5:43-48 HCSB

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These principles are all reinforced with Scripture, and the effort of preparation makes for better practitioners as servants of Jesus Christ.  He provides us with the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and effort that we need to be successful.

Your preparation is very, very important in the process of growth and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the same way that an athlete has to undergo training in order to participate at a high level in a sport, and just as we need to have a healthy diet and exercise to take care of our own bodies, we must prepare to serve Christ in order to be at our best.  But there is also another important reason why we prepare to be effective practitioners of discipleship…the ongoing preparation should also provide you with a greater insight into the character of God and an even greater desire, as you learn more about Him, to serve Him in everything that you do.

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Serving Jesus Christ is not a hobby.  It is a full-time endeavor.

Serving Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of your participation in His Great Commission.

Serving Jesus Christ is an expression of your love for Him and your desire to bring everything you learn about Him into everything that you do.

Your preparation of participation in ministry for Christ should be an ongoing process that reveals to you how you are capable of serving Him.  There is much to learn about Him, and you will find that there is much to learn about yourself, too.  As you get to know more about Jesus Christ, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit molds and shapes you into a better “you” in Christ.  It is as this occurs that you get to know more of who you really are in Christ.  This is much better than who you are in the flesh, or who you thought you were before and ever after you accepted Christ as your personal Savior.  It is the Spirit’s sanctifying power that reveals His wisdom and knowledge about yourself and who you are in Christ.

Until you learn who you are in Jesus Christ, you will always be searching for something.  But once you learn who you are, you will find your purpose in Jesus Christ.  You will be compelled to live openly and actively for Christ.  You will find your passion in Jesus Christ.

For those listening that are still uncertain about all of this devotion over Jesus Christ, it is important for you to know and understand that Jesus Christ lived on this earth and gave His life for you.  He paid the ultimate price to sacrifice Himself because He loved you.  He demonstrated, through His death on the cross, that He loves you.  He showed that He is passionate about you.

John 3:16-17 ESV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So what this is all about is how you, in learning more about Jesus Christ, recognize the passion of living for Jesus Christ that He has for you.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, which is your spiritual worship.

What are you passionate about?  What do you really, really care about?

If you are seeking Jesus Christ, you will eventually learn what you are passionate about. You will find that there are things that you like to do, and things that you like to do more than other things, but following Christ will reveal your passion for Christ.

Your passion is rooted by your gifts.  Your gifts consist of your God-given gifted talents and your spiritual gifts if you have declared Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Let’s be clear about something here…you can have all kinds of God-given talent and even spiritual gifts and still not realize your passion.  You have to use these talents and gifts with the understanding that God has given them to you, and that you want to serve Him with all of your heart and soul.  Only then will you get this passion thing down pat.

Without this passion, you’re not really living your life in the way that God would like to see you live it.  Sure, you’re doing more than existing, but not much more than that.  There are people that you love and care for, help and give of yourself, and you can even go your entire life in church serving others; however, you can still be unsatisfied with the direction of your life.  Ask yourself this question:  How can I live the abundant life that God promises for me?

John 10:10 HCSB

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

You can live the abundant life with passion by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You can live the abundant life with passion by “presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

You can live the abundant life of passion by humbling yourself before God and allowing yourself to be teachable.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

If you make the effort to seek God, He will affirm your efforts.  Sometimes the blessings come when you take the steps to live for Him.

Living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus, and discovering passion as you live out your life purpose.  There can be nothing more fulfilling than when you learn your passion as you live for Jesus Christ.

In this new year, make it a personal commitment to discover your passion.  Jesus Christ wants to see you live the abundant life!

 

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.