Tag Archives: loving God

No Ways Tired (God Has Brought Us Through It All)

Rev. James Cleveland

Rev. James Cleveland

Original post August 2, 2009 – Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cw75v2uqts

I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – Rev. James Cleveland (via YouTube)

I don’t feel no ways tired,
I’ve come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy,
I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.

(excerpt from I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired – written by Curtis Burrell – sung by Rev. James Cleveland)

 

When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh and all his household, but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)”

When reflecting upon our lives as we remember our victories and learn from our defeats, do we respond with awe as to how God has brought us through it all?

We are (if we choose to be) a living testimony to the true statement that “God is able (Ephesians 3:20).” When we look at our life from where we came from to where we are today, we should be giving thanks to the Lord through Jesus Christ, proclaiming aloud “look where God has brought us from.” It is His grace and mercy that has carried us through. God’s grace has brought us out of generations of servitude and bondage to a new generation of freedom. He has allowed us to realize true freedom, not just in this country, but also in our ability to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Few today know of the sacrifices of our ancestors and predecessors who gave their lives for the freedom that we can celebrate in today. The times of difficulty experienced by those who lived before us in those days of persecution required a strong measure of faith and trust that God would be the One who would sustain them and deliver them. Their vision was far from short-sighted.

We have a responsibility, however, to acknowledge, who Jesus Christ is in our lives. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it’ (Luke 9:23-24).” God has truly blessed us, in our following Jesus Christ, with a sense of family in our neighborhoods when we were raising not just our own children, but the neighbors’ children, too! Today, that precious family value has been lost to a new generation of single parenthood and a lack of a healthy overall family presence. The world has a powerful effect on today’s youth and family structures that has diminished the impact of the family structure.  Only the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome adversity and move people to reconcile with God and with others.  If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, pray for the Spirit to change lives and more!  He is able to provide many miracles!

Let’s personalize this.  When looking at where God has brought you from, take the time to review and reflect upon where you are today. Looking back at your past helps you to move today in the right direction in order to be in the place where God would have you to be now and in the future. Jesus transforms lives from a lost existence through repentance and His forgiveness of sin.  His grace and mercy from His gift of salvation is ready for anyone who is willing to trust in Him as personal Lord and Savior.  He can, and will, transform you today.  Just ask, and you will receive.  Amen.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

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The Incorruptible Crown

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:
A professional athlete earns a living with his accomplishments, but he can’t take it with him when he passes on, yet Paul speaks in scripture about the incorruptible crown…the crown that never fades. It is not just about salvation, but it is about fighting the “good fight.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.You are not running or doing something to be saved (that’s already taken care of through the sacrifice of Jesus and the shedding of His blood). You are to run for the incorruptible crown that recognizes your true service for God.All Christians are in the race to serve Him. We are all pursuing a prize. The question remains whether all of us are using the tools provided through training and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need the training to be able to run effectively for the prize. Our goal is to be victorious in the race, and not to leave anything out of our efforts.

Our training is a strict training. It is a struggle, and sometimes it can be agonizing and painful. God’s grace, nonetheless, surpasses all discomfort and pain that we, as Christians, will experience.

You are to train in order to contend with adversaries and be prepared to fight. The opposition wants to keep you from living in righteousness.

You are to live under self-control and to self-govern yourself. These are to bring your training into action to resist your opposition while learning to love God more and more while keeping His commands.

For athletes, it was necessary to abstain from unwholesome food, wine and sexual indulgence.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:25 to observe the world–it runs for a crown that fades away.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Our works will follow us. They have an eternal, lasting value.

Revelation 14:13
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

We serve for a crown that will last forever and will not fade; as a result, we do not run aimlessly but to please God. All of this is done while we face a raging war from within:

Romans 7:23
But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.

Ephesians 6:12
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with things that take you off of the focus of running for the prize.

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

Your eyes are to remain fixed on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2
…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

In running the race, you must be:
1. Pure in body
2. Sober of mind
3. Willing to endure

We train the body to be controlled by our mind through self-denial and self-discipline.

2 Corinthians 10:4b-5
We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Galatians 5:16, 22-23
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

We run this race to win in that our accomplishments for Jesus Christ will not fade away. It is the incorruptible crown that we strive for and that will ultimately glorify God.


The Church’s Benefit is Truth About Life

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Church attendance is dwindling throughout America today. The conclusion is that more people believe that the church is less relevant today. In reality, the church actually brings relevance to our lives. When we enter the house of God, it’s purpose is to give us understanding. We learn from the church that the way of the world is vastly different from what we learn in church. It is about not leaning on one’s own way of understanding but on what God states about leaning on His guidance and direction (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Newsweek ran an article about “A World Without Fathers: The Struggle to Save the Black Family” back in 1993. Twenty years later, the state of the Black Family remains in peril and is arguably getting worse.
Statistically, less than 50 percent of black men in high school actually graduate. There has been little to no improvement in the plight of children coming out of high school, in spite of the money that has been spent on education.There is a clear change in society when it comes to marriage. Many people choose living together as an alternative in order to “test out” the relationship.
Americans are creating their own religions by blending their beliefs with what others may believe. They are using the mix-and-match approach in order to conform to what works best for them. The question for this is ‘Are these blended religions in conformity with who God really is?’

These views are all the result of the world’s influence on man’s way of thinking. Some have even proposed that God Himself does not exist. The church brings insight as to what is really the truth about life and provides direction in every daily situation and circumstance.

God’s truth gives understanding to life. Life without God’s truth is nothing less than living life in a state of confusion–it is a life of disorder, embarrassment and failure. The church is a benefit for us because it is the only place we will receive truth that is directly from God concerning all of life that is correct.

The church teaches and insists upon those who claim that they are saved to trust in His Word–the Holy Bible. You cannot say that you do not believe in the Bible and also refer to yourself as a believer in Jesus Christ. It is a standard that is without compromise.

The church instructs that not one word of God’s Word will fade away. Why?

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man who lies,
or a son of man who changes His mind.
Does He speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?

In the church, we learn that God is not a man (John 4:24).

John 4:24
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

God does not lie–He speaks the truth, and His Word will not change.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, 10 and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned —those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

1 Timothy 4:1-3
1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 3:7
…always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

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

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

Psalm 119:89-91
ל 89 Lord, Your word is forever;
it is firmly fixed in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness is for all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands firm.
91 They stand today in accordance with Your judgments,
for all things are Your servants.

Matthew 5:18
For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.

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

The truth about life comes through the church and God’s Word through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 8:32
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

God’s people are being prepared for service and work within His church and for His ministry. The church is the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church.

God does not change His mind; as a result, the church believes the words of God, stands on it, and acts upon it. We need His Word to renew our minds, to keep us and help us to endure the afflictions that come from the enemy. He is our Comforter. He has a standard that is far above that of the world that we live in. He wants us to seek His kingdom in the way that we live.

Isaiah 55:8
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.

God’s Word declares sin and the nature of the sinner.

Psalm 73:18-19
18 Indeed, You put them in slippery places;
You make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

The believer in Jesus Christ who responds to Him and His Word will receive blessings from Him.

John 1:17
…for the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

God’s Word provides teaching and valuable instruction for dealing with the issues of life. It also provides clear information on how to worship Him and how to remain in righteous living.

The church carries out God’s plan. It is not a new plan–it was His plan from the beginning.

Genesis 1:28
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“Subduing the land” requires work. It means to conquer or bring into subjection. It is to overcome by way of persuasion or training. We all are to work with a clean conscience in how we live, and that is how God reaches us as He ministers to us while we minister to others. His truth calls us to work for His kingdom.

To make disciples calls for work. Our work is for Jesus Christ and its purpose is to reach others. It is all about all of us coming under God’s authority.


The Argument Against Gay Marriage

There is a prevailing argument today that gay people should be free to love whoever they choose, and that they should be allowed to live their lives in freedom and, ultimately, with the respect of others. Gays believe that they should have the same rights and privileges of all Americans, including the ability to marry their partners. With the ongoing discussion of the rights of gay people being presented as a societal human rights issue, there comes a point where we have to look at this subject for what it really is–not as a matter of human rights, but as a matter of right and wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

The act of homosexuality is a matter of choice amongst consenting adults. From a faith perspective, it is important to note that homosexuality is a committed sin just like any other committed sin–the same as adultery, sex before marriage (fornication), theft, or lying. All sins like these are covered and redeemed by the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

Is it right for two men to marry each other? Is it right for two women to marry each other? There is no middle ground on this question–it is either “yes” or “no”–but many people in the church and in society have declared themselves as neutral over this issue. Note Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary’s definition of marriage:

The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony.

This definition is the biblical principle that God had intended for marriage.

The Bible has no standing in today’s American law, yet many of today’s existing laws drill down to biblical principles, especially those of six of the Ten Commandments:

  • Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16)
  • Do not murder (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17)
  • Do not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18)
  • Do not steal (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19)
  • Do not give false testimony against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20)
  • Do not covet your neighbor’s house (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21

It is these biblical principles that are being undermined when arguments are presented in favor of the practice of homosexuality and gay marriage. Those who are in favor of gay marriage will argue or contend that no one can impose Scripture or biblical rules upon them. The argument of “freedom of religion” that comes from the First Amendment of The United States Constitution is also interpreted as “freedom from religion.”

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Since every part of existing American law can be argued from the Bible, the opposing view has to discredit the Bible and Christians who oppose gay marriage as people who…
1. hate them and their cause
2. fight against their right to marry
3. are insensitive to their feelings as human beings who only love others

The arguments expressed are a protest of the prejudice against a group of people who should be given their rights as American citizens.

A section of The Declaration of Independence declares “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  In the pursuit of happiness, who has established the boundaries of morality? God has already established those standards. Even in liberty, there are still boundaries that must be acknowledged.

“‘Everything is permissible for me’, but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything. ‘Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods,’ but God will do away with both of them. The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.  Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ? So should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Absolutely not! Do you not know that anyone joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For it says, The two will become one flesh. But anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee from sexual immorality! ‘Every sin a person can commit is outside the body,’ but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

Some things are “self-evident” because it is deemed to be natural. A man and a woman in marriage is normal and natural because that was God’s intent (Genesis 2:24).

How is the Bible discredited? There are verses in the Old Testament that are deemed to be outdated by today’s standards:
Leviticus 20:13-26
Deuteronomy 25:5-10
Genesis 38:8
Matthew 22:24
Those who oppose the foundation of Scripture will state that we should no longer see the Bible as relevant to today’s reality in that values have changed since the Bible was written, and, as a result, that the cultural institution of marriage has changed with it. To those who are in favor of gay marriage, their conclusion is that it should be allowed and accepted as part of that evolutionary process. The flaw to this argument is that while God has, over the progression of time and humanity, declared changes as to how we are to view matters such as food or even property rights within families, God had never declared in His Word that it was acceptable for two men to lie with one another or two women to do the same. Also, keep in mind that there will be ongoing challenges of the consistency of what believers practice in comparison to what God’s Word declares as truth.

The real reason for believers in Jesus Christ to oppose gay marriage is because the Word of God speaks against it.  There are many verses that affirm this statement, but note these two:

Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).  In this commandment, the key word is “wife.”  God gives specific reference to the value of a marriage relationship in that no one from the outside should desire the wife of a husband or anything associated with them or their household.

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.  Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame” (Genesis 2:24).  God’s Word gives very specific mention of a man and woman uniting as husband and wife, where the two can become one flesh and create children. This is self-evident because it is natural. In this sense, a man cannot naturally unite and bond to another man, nor can a woman unite or bond to another woman. Our culture today is twisting the original intent of marriage for the benefit of creating acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

Trusting in the Lord allows for victory. We are called to discipline our bodies (1 Corinthians 9:27). We are to discipline ourselves spiritually to disable any passions or lustful desires. The natural desire of a man is attraction to a woman and for a woman to be attracted to a man. The gay lifestyle is rooted in an unnatural passion that is also addressed in Scripture:

This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion. And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, (sexual immorality), evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, (unforgiving), and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them” (Romans 1:26-32).

Note that homosexuality is noted here as sin just as the other sins listed:

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Yes, the gay lifestyle is a choice, but anyone who is in the bondage of any sin can be liberated by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you from believing in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He redeems us from all of our sins and enables us with the ability to refrain from sin.

Our purpose, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to encourage all people in sin to be elevated to a life in Christ. We are to emulate God in loving all people and yet, hate sin and sinful behavior. Our prayer is that all believers have the courage to speak the truth to our friends, family members, and loved ones about how they can be set free from sin and the gay lifestyle. Thanks to the Lord for the words and guidance through the Holy Spirit as we prayfully minister to those in need.


Love is of God (1 John 4:7-21)

Do you understand how difficult it is to truly love someone (as defined by the Scriptures)? We have to be open-minded in our approach to reach those in our community. It is love that can tear down the barriers between people. It is love that overcomes those who doubt the power of God in reaching those who are deemed unreachable.

1 John 4:7-21

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.

The command to “love one another” is not a natural act for human beings. We naturally love ourselves, and that is part of the problem. It is difficult to love others because our flesh operates in a selfish nature. We don’t need to see many examples, outside of our own families, where the flesh often gets the best of us. Look at the different Greek words that express love:

phileo – general attraction towards a person
philia – love of a friend
philos – love for a relative or family members
eros – sexual love
agapao, agape – love of God

Our lives should model agape love, as John notes in 1 John 4:7-21. While we are less inclined to be inclusive or associate with those who are “different” from us, agape love goes beyond those differences, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12). To act in love is to act in such a way that it is better for the other person than it is for ourselves.

We love others in the way that God would have us to love them is proven through our faith and trust in Jesus Christ (1 John 2:19; 4:13-16). Loving and living for Christ will be evident in the true believer. John is very clear here with a strong statement. Your love for Christ comes from understanding how Christ lived, and you will naturally love others. If you are unable to love others in this way, then John declares that they are not of God. The evidence of our maturity in our faith, through the ministry in our lives of the Holy Spirit, is to love someone who does not get sling with us, or even wronged us in some way. Let’s face it…it is easy to love someone who gets along with us. The reality is that the Christian life has both mountaintop and valley experiences. There are triumphs and struggles. Thankfully, God dwells within us when we acknowledge Christ as our Savior, and He helps us through those difficult experiences as we rejoice in our victories. The love we have from God comes through the Holy Spirit, and He enables us to love someone, even though the flesh tells you that you can’t do it or don’t want to do it (Romans 5:5). The Spirit empowers us to reach beyond our own abilities and understanding (Proverbs 3:5). John declares that if you are born from above, you have the ability to love others. You become the agent for God where others will see God’s love for them through you! We are able to live others because God loved us even before we knew we needed a Savior (Romans 2:4; 1 John 4:9). God cared about us before we even knew that we were cared for or even cared about. That is the true essence of agape love (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). To love someone else through all of their anger, hatred and misdeeds is agape love. That is how you win someone for Jesus Christ. It is difficult, for sure, but that is what God calls us to do…to love someone, even through their faults (1 Peter 4:8). It is an act of obedience to God’s Word and Jesus Christ to love others, without regard for how they feel about you, for that is the essence of how God loves us (John 3:16-17).

God’s love gives us the confidence to love others (1 John 4:17-19; Hebrews 9:27-28). Love comes from God, and it builds us up through the presence of the Holy Spirit. No ministry can try be successful without love being the primary focus in reaching others for Christ. Love has to come first. It has to be the foundation of everything that follows (Galatians 5:22-23). Everything that is done in ministry has to proceed from love. In addition to love, faith must also be present. (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 3-6). Faith is necessary with love because you don’t know what to expect when you are dealing with other people! We need to rely upon the Holy Spirit when we love others. God’s love confronts others and breaks them down to where they can finally see God’s grace and peace in their own lives (Ephesians 6:23). It is truly from God’s perspective, and well beyond our own human perspective, where we can see how God’s love transforms others to love in the way that Christ would have them love others. There is a righteousness in living a life for Jesus Christ that we are confident in Him. God valued us in that Christ died for us in the perfect act of love for us. Love comes from God, and in that love, we have nothing to fear.

Loving someone who does not you may be the most difficult thing you ever do, but we can do it when we are led by the Holy Spirit. It is our best evidence as to how we love Jesus Christ. “‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth‘” (John 14:15-17a).


The Character of a Father

Men are unique in that man represents the true image of God. While the first woman came out of man, God breathed life into the first man, and everything that is created refers back to his first created being.

Satan knows where to attack God’s people, and he makes a point to attack the men of the world, the image of God’s creation. Satan creates a false image to a man that distorts his view of the world and where he sees his role and importance. Much of it is rooted in selfishness. A man does not sleep around and make babies. A man does not gain respect by fathering numerous children and then not taking financial responsibility for them. A father, depending upon his character, can be either a blessing or a curse to his children.

This is a message about the character of a man. A man is not a father just because he has made many conquests of women (statistics show that many men that father children out of wedlock are unlikely to know their own father). Tragically, about 24 million children live today without knowing who their real father is. Fathers abdicate their responsibility of fatherhood for two reasons: financial reasons and a lack of a sense of morality. There is a need for men to have a greater sense of responsibility as to the role of character in raising a family. In this way, a father gains and earns respect.

A father should take the leadership in his ability in providing for his children (Luke 15:11; Proverbs 13:22). He needs to be smart with his finances in order to set the example for how to manage money for future generations. Note that in Luke 15, the father must have demonstrated the principles and values of God, for the son knew that he had to leave the household because he did not want to follow those values (Proverbs 20:21). No one celebrated when the son left home because everyone in the home knew what he was going to do (Luke 15:13). The father did celebrate once his son returned in repentance (Luke 15:20). He was willing to come back to his father to his household and under him and in submission to him. He knew where his father stood morally (Proverbs 22:6). Even though the father was likely very disappointed in his son, he was practicing unconditional love.

A man should reflect fairness and righteousness in his dealings with his family and his children. Your children will take note of your righteousness and your character in your daily behavior.

Fathers need to talk to not just their daughters but also their sons about abstaining from sex before marriage. It is also an issue of character and consistency. As men (and women), we are to live our lives in such away where we, in our proper behavior and obedience to God’s Word, will be a blessing to our children. It should be the desire of every man, as a parent, to provide the proper teaching and instruction to their children, so that, even when they do lose their way, they will be able to find their way back because of your guidance and nurturing. Rather than criticizing a child’s mistakes after the fact, we should be happy and compassionate when our children repent of their sin (Luke 15:18-24). The father in Luke 15 had to instruct his other son of this principle when he protested over the celebration that was given to his younger son (Luke 15:25-32).

Part of being a father does sometimes mean lowering your pride and showing the rest of the family your own imperfections. A good father remains patient and takes time to listen to his children, and is not afraid to admit when he makes a mistake. This is part of a development of a healthy image that a child should see in their father.

Why is the good character of a father important? These are the characteristics that God exhibits in how He deals with us. God is gracious and merciful with us as we emerge in repentance of our sin. Thankfully, even though we were dead to sin, we live in Jesus Christ.

Fathers, we are to live our lives with God’s knowledge, wisdom, and His enabling strength as we remain obedient to Him. It is the best way to create a lasting legacy for our families and our children for generations to come. Fathers, especially godly men, are needed today, now more than ever.

Happy Fathers Day from all of us at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church.


1 John 2: The True Christian vs. the Antichrist

Truth will either push you away from the church or draw you to it. After all is said and done, it is God’s Word that declares the truth. John (in 1 John 2) declares that Jesus is the true Messiah–the Son of God. The Spirit of God is working in the lives of those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ. That is what the church needs and what its members should be seeking. He also notes that there is a spirit of the Antichrist–the father of false teaching. There were many false teachers prevalent at the time of John’s writings (as there are today). To overcome this, John will teach us the essentials of faith that a believer in Jesus Christ needs to live by. There comes a point where the words of God should match your actions and your behavior–to mature and grow spiritually as you live a Christlike existence. Spiritual maturity means growth in Christ, in spite of the apparent obstacles.

1 John 2:18-29

Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, ‘Antichrist is coming,’ even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? He is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.  What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life.  I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.  So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.

John points to the times he lived in as being “the last hour.” This declares a sense of urgency that Jesus was real and that He was returning soon (Revelation 22:20). Time is not relevant to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8-9), and no one knows the time when Jesus will return except for the Father (Mark 13:32). While Jesus is coming back soon, John is clear that the Antichrist is present, and there are many antichrists that are present now (1 John 2:18). The prefix “anti-” means to be against something or in opposition to something. To be an antichrist is to be in opposition to Christ and what He stands for (Satan vs. God; Antichrist vs. Jesus Christ; false prophets vs. the Holy Spirit). Antichrists distort God’s Word for their own benefits and profitability. The spirit of the Antichrist promotes lawlessness and a lack of peace, including rebellion against God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

False prophets are prominent today and are out to deceive many (Mark 13:22; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1-3). There is a prevailing thought that many, who appear to be Christians, within the body of Christ, that are, in actuality, in opposition of Christ. They challenge God’s authority and can cause others to lose sight of who Jesus Christ is and finding things that take the place of Him in their lives (John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:30; Philippians 3:19; Colossians 1:18). God is One that confirms truth in our lives through the Holy Spirit, and promotes unity within the body of Christ. John declares that the false prophets and false teachers were not of us (1 John 2:19). Their declarations and their deeds just didn’t line up with truth (John 8:21-23, 44-47). By one’s deeds, we can learn that many are not truly followers of Christ and that there was never a true movement from the old ways (of the world) to the new ways of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). A true follower of Jesus Christ must embrace the reality that living for Christ is an all or nothing lifestyle. He or she does not allow for compromise in their faith. It takes a desire to work at building the kingdom of God in your lifetime. It is throughout your waking hours that you are to yield to the Holy Spirit and be a living witness for Jesus Christ. It does require discipline and an ongoing focus, but this is the requirement of living a consistent, Christlike existence.

The true Christian is not moved from the truth (1 John 2:19-20; John 10:19). They are truly anointed by Christ through the Holy Spirit living within them. While man may teach or speak God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will confirm it as truth.

The antichrist (one who opposes Christ):

  • Does not know the truth
  • Lies and believes the lie
  • Does not allow the truth to remain in himself
  • Leads others away from Christ
  • May have the Word of God but not the anointing of God
  • Has a spirit of lawlessness, disorder, and hostility (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

No man can confirm truth, but the Holy Spirit confirms truth to us and promotes God’s Word with its instruction. God promotes order and peace in the life of a believer (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The anointed (those who have the Holy Spirit) have a love for Jesus Christ. They do not depart from Christ or the fellowship of believers. They know the truth (God’s Word), and acknowledge God, the Father, and Jesus Christ. They are not deceived by falsehoods that try to draw them away from God as they have spiritual discernment (1 John 2:26; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; John 14:26, 16:13). We are to live in Christ with confidence (1 John 2:28-29), because He gives us confidence as we have faith and trust in Him. We are not to be ashamed of living the Christian life. His righteousness declares that the true believer has been born of Him and remains in His hand, no matter what the Adversary says or does.