Tag Archives: mercy

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;


The Seven Trumpets (Part 1)

Today’s message summary of January 3, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Most people today will continue to fail to acknowledge God. Even though Scripture notes this, we are reminded by Scripture to continue to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ. It is for this reason: God is not in a hurry to do away with those who don’t acknowledge Him. He desires for all men to be saved. But make no mistake about this…there is a day that is coming when there will be the end.

God is merciful. God is putting off the death sentence for those who don’t know Him until the time that they repent and accept Christ as Savior.

God holds back His judgment until that time when there will no longer a restraint on His grace and mercy. And there will be no mistake about the presence of God and His wrath in that day.

Revelation 6:16-17

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

Some people will decide that they do not want to have anything to do with God; however, there will be a time when God will have something to do with them.

When you examine, in Revelation, the seals, trumpets and bowls, the judgments become worse and worse over time. God’s wrath, soon after this, will be poured out. Satan uses man, at that time, to create destruction and devastation. Satan deceives the people to carry out these acts, and God, of course, allows it. It is part of His plan.

Man will use reasoning to refuse to acknowledge God. They will avoid any situation or circumstance that moves one to conclude that Satan was present; for example, we try to explain why Hitler did what he did without mentioning that Satan was involved. We do this because of fear in that we do not want to acknowledge that God and Satan are present. The reasoning of man is to give an explanation of why something happened in order to remove fear and maintain control of the situation. People are not afraid because reasoning something into natural causes or occurrences removes fear.

Note that as we move into Revelation, Chapter 8, God will move in such a way that no one will be able to explain Him away.

In Chapter 8, the angels of heaven see the real terror that is to come. People on earth have not yet seen it or know what to expect.

Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31

For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.

For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

 

Psalm 76:7

And You–You are to be feared. When You are angry, who can stand before You?

 

Psalm 7:11

God is a righteous judge and a God who shows His wrath every day.

Note that society today has tried to remove God from everything in order to make Him invisible, because of the logic that if we cannot see Him, there is no reason to be fearful of Him. If He is unseen or invisible, it gives justification for living any way one chooses.

Back to Revelation 8, there is silence in heaven once the angels see what is going to happen. There is no choir singing or praises taking place. It is the quiet before the storm.

Revelation 8:1

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Note that God is angry with the wicked every day. What holds back God from expressing His wrath? It is His mercy.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

 

Psalm 103:8-9

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever.

 

The angels, in Revelation 8, see the actions of God pouring out His anger. Note that, out of the Seventh Seal come the seven trumpets.

John says that he saw seven angels:

Revelation 8:2-4

Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel, with a gold incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand.

The angels are carrying out the message as direct servants of God. The message is that God will now being carrying out the judgment Himself. He will be carrying out what was already noted in Revelation 6:

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

Revelation 8:5-6

The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were rumblings of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

Now come the trumpets being blown by the angels, with God carrying out His wrath:

Revelation 8:7 (The First Trumpet)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled to the earth. So a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Revelation 8:8-9 (The Second Trumpet)

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain ablaze with fire was hurled into the sea. So a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures of the sea dies, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:10 (The Third Trumpet)

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from heaven. It fell on a third of the rivers and springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood. So, many of the people died from the waters, because they had been made bitter.

God is saying to those who do not trust in Him that there will be an account. There is nothing to fear as long as you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He will keep you in fellowship with Him, but while he is merciful and compassionate, He will judge the wicked of this world.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.


Your Spiritual Journey

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

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

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

Matthew 6:34 HCSB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

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

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

Lamentations 3:22-23 HCSB

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

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

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

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 HCSB

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

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

James 4:6 HCSB

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.

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

Colossians 3:16-17 HCSB

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

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

Hebrews 10:16-18 HCSB

This is the covenant I will make with them

after those days, says the Lord:

I will put My laws on their hearts

and write them on their minds,

He adds:

I will never again remember

their sins and their lawless acts.

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

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

Philippians 2:12-13 HCSB

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

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

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

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


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)


The Godly Mother

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

[NBA Star Kevin Durant praises his mother during his MVP award speech.]

Lord, we want to thank you for every mother, and we pray that today will be a blessing to them. Let us also remember the grandmothers, as well. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

While the bible does not speak specifically about single mothers, we know that they were indeed present. We know that there were single mothers and widows because of various circumstances. Today, we are keenly aware of single mothers and the trials of such parenting. We know that mothers are indeed honored by God.

A mother must decide how she is going to live before her children and her family. A mother who follows after God will be blessed according to how God honors and looks after them. A child will often not remember so much what a mother says, but they certainly remember her actions.

A child who has a mother that he is ashamed of will often have to suppress his or her feelings because they are trying to deal with their disappointment. It will eventually surface in a negative way because of all of the hurt that was experienced. Mothers need to be aware of how much their children are affected by what they do. There is a real need today for godly mothers.

What makes a real difference today is a mother who relies upon the Holy Spirit in living life and making decisions.

Can a nation rise or fall based upon motherly counsel? Mothers are to be mindful of what counsel that is provided to daughters and sons about the people they choose in marriage. Unwise counsel can lead to broken homes and marriages.

Mothers have difficult decisions to make today as to who they choose to associate with and how they live. It is important for a woman to not live sexually with multiple partners in the hopes of finding someone who they think will fulfill a family unit. This woman needs to repent and live in holiness under the Spirit and prevent the tragedy of broken families and children being damaged by multiple influences of men who have no desire to be involved with a family.

Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 

It is important that a child is taught how to honor their mother and father, for they need to understand what it means to respect them.

Leviticus 19:3

“Each of you is to respect his mother and father. You are to keep My Sabbaths; I am Yahweh your God.”

 

Note how the Scripture references the mother first in this passage (unlike the reference in Exodus 20:12). Note the emphasis here on the mother needing to be honored because of everything being accomplished within the family unit. The man typically had the focus in those times of being the head of the family, but God made sure that the mother was highly regarded for what she does for the family.

Moms are the cheerleaders and the encouragers. For all that they do, mom is to be respected.

God can do amazing things to bring mothers out of a bad situation and turn it into something amazing to behold. Note that God does not overlook the sin of the circumstances in the beginning (having children out of wedlock), but He can turn a woman who is sincerely seeking Him into someone that can honor Him with children that honor and respect her, and call her blessed.

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For it was You who created my inward parts;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You

because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.

Your works are wonderful,

and I know this very well.

15 My bones were not hidden from You

when I was made in secret,

when I was formed in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;

all my days were written in Your book and planned

before a single one of them began.

 

Mothers should know without doubt that they are highly favored as vessels of God’s creation. The mother gives of herself to others and reflects God’s grace and mercy in His divine privilege and purpose of nurturing children. The mother is also a teacher and instructor.

Proverbs 1:8

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,

and don’t reject your mother’s teaching.

 

While the father sets the tone for the household, it is the mother than often has to provide ongoing instruction. Hopefully, the children are learning about godly behavior through His Word.

Mothers need to ensure that the children are properly trained in the same way that God wants His children to be trained and educated. It is the desire of God that persons who are educated and trained up in the Word can eventually be used for Him and His glory.

Acts 16:1-2

1 Then he went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him.

 

The Jewish woman was learning about Old Testament law and principles. It was additional preparation that led her to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She was able to teach Timothy in the truth of the Word despite the Greek influence within the household.

The faith of a person such as Timothy can be seen in the support of his mother and grandmother. They were the foundation of his sincere faith and love for Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:4-7

4 Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy, 5 clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also.

6 Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

 

The result of this is three generations of people who follow and honor Jesus Christ. Mothers indeed have a huge responsibility in developing and promoting legacies of Jesus Christ within families.

What kind of mother do you want to be? What kind of grandmother do you want to be? You want to set the example where your children will call you blessed.

 


Why We Need Help From God

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Pray for the protection of those who proclaim the gospel of righteousness before others.

Why do we need help from The Lord? We really need help and we often don’t think about it. You embrace God’s help by reading and studying His Word. Your expectation that God is speaking to you and helping you begins with hearing what He has to say to you through His Word. Without the bible, you will not hear anything, and you won’t receive any of its benefits.

Sin is the thing we are always fighting against. We do not know what to do with it, and it is difficult to overcome. Some of us may have lived for so long and finally made the decision to come back to The Lord after being away for some time. Thank The Lord for His provision and His grace and mercy. His grace and mercy is far greater than our sin.

We need His help in that we cannot defeat sin or Satan in our lives. The Lord tells us to weigh every thought and action we take. You can define if it comes from God or if it comes from Satan.

1 Peter 1:10-12
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Hebrews 2:5-9
Jesus and Humanity

5 For He has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about. 6 But one has somewhere testified:

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor
8 and subjected everything under his feet.
For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

God placed everything under man when He created mankind. The one thing that man does not have the ability to overcome is death, and not just a physical death but a spiritual death. The provision of eternal life came from Jesus Christ with his death and resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:55
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?

Satan believed that he had victory over God because of Adam’s sin and separation from God, which is spiritual death. Jesus’ death and resurrection overcame the sting of sin and separation for those who believe in Him.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Again, this is not about physical death that we often associate with the word “death.” This is more about the spiritual death that we associate with separation from God, whether it is temporary (with repentance) or eternal (if a person does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior).

Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers,
things present or things to come, hostile powers,
39 height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Death from our bodies is not beyond the ability of God to keep us in His presence. God’s love for us through Jesus Christ is all powerful. He overcomes every obstacle that Satan and his demons have brought forth.

Ephesians 3:8-12
8 This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, 9 and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. 10 This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. 11 This is according to His eternal purpose accomplished in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord. 12 In Him we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

God proclaimed through Jesus Christ that the church would be the vehicle to proclaim the message of His truth to the world to the heavenly realms–the angels and all of those present as a witness to this great testimony–to reach the Jew and the Gentile, and all nations and peoples to recognize Jesus Christ as Savior.

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.

Look at how God provided through Jesus Christ the ability for people to use their gifts along with the Holy Spirit to reach others with the gospel message. We need to understand that the flesh is what we have to battle on a daily basis. It is not so much that it is a person that is in sin but the thoughts and actions that come from Satan. As we minister to others, ask God for help in discerning how to reach the lost.

Why do we need help?

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.

Stop allowing yourself to be taught by this world as to what they say is correct. The world does not operate in truth, and Satan will manipulate things to make them appear to be truth. Don not allow yourself to compromise or accept lies as truth. Renew your mind. Many will run away from God and His word, and turn themselves over to Satan’s influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-3
Demonic Influence

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.

Since God does not want us to follow the world’s influence, He gives us the alternative–Jesus Christ and His example of how we are to live. Following Jesus is to live contrary to the world’s way of living.

We are to correct those who live in sin with love and compassion, but we do so because it is based in God’s righteousness and truth.

Satan comes after any believer in Jesus Christ. Consider what happened to Peter:

Luke 22:31-32
31 “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

1 Peter 5:8
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

We receive God’s help in overcoming sin and spiritual death when we confess our sins. Our obedience to His word ensures our fellowship with Him.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 2:14
Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil.

Only through Jesus Christ do we see the character and consciousness of God.

John 14:8
“Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”

1 Timothy 4:1
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.

Do we need Jesus? Do we need His protection from sin? Look at the opposition that we face…

2 Peter 2:1-3
The Judgment of False Teachers

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.

2 Timothy 3:12-13
12 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Sin creates enmity between you and God. We need Him because we deceive ourselves.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is more deceitful than anything else,
and incurable—who can understand it?

The heart of man needs God to show the truth and to be able to pursue it. He reveals who we are.

Father, may we yield to You, where the Word is supreme in our lives, and help us to not resist the Holy Spirit. Let Him be our Teacher. May we understand more and more that sin is a destructive element to our spiritual life, and set us free from the bondage of sin. May we surrender to Jesus Christ and Him alone. Thank you, Lord, for your work, for calling us out of darkness and into your marvelous light. In Jesus’ name, amen.


By the Grace of God

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Have you ever been in a predicament where you need God’s favor? Have you ever fallen flat on your face and yet God lifted you up? Have you ever been amongst others that show a lack of grace? In the Japanese culture, for example, grace is difficult for some to experience. In their culture, it is more about saving face and not embarrassing family members. In Japan, for example, those who are in prison very seldom will get visitors from family (especially in comparison to the United States culture). Those who leave prison in Japan may never see family and friends when they are released. The shame of separation in their culture is overwhelming.

Our discussion about grace reflects how we are to emulate the love of Jesus Christ and reflect grace to others as He would have us to do. Grace is centered in the righteousness of God and His love for us.

What is this grace? It is truly amazing grace. Often, we miss it because we don’t understand it. Did you, for example, receive His grace the moment you got saved, or was it extended to you before that, or even before you were born?

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.

The words “I am” used her are not the same words “I AM” that God uses in Exodus 3:14 and in Revelation 21:13. We cannot even begin to understand who God is. In this situation, Paul refers to himself as being who he is because of God’s grace.

James 1:17-18
17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. 18 By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

You cannot talk about your present without considering your past.

1 Corinthians 15:9
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Paul recognized God’s grace in where he was and also recognized that he did not deserve such an honor because of what he did in the past. He saw that his existence depended upon God alone.

Romans 7:24
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?

1 Timothy 1:15
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them.

The more that we see God through His grace and mercy, the greater the ability we have to see God for who He is and for who we are. God’s grace is about His hand being upon you. Don’t mistake this with God’s approval of sin in your life. It is God’s grace that allows you to have the ability to recognize who He is and to come to a saving knowledge of Him. Please understand that His grace was extended to you even before you were born through your preservation and in your sin to come to where you are today. God’s grace has kept you. You will learn over time, as you live in His righteousness and with obedience to Him, who you are in Him. It is then that you can say “only by the grace of God, I am here.”

God’s grace is not extended only as a condition of salvation. It is extended the moment you were conceived.

Psalm 139:15
My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.

Your very existence is because of God’s grace and favor.

Galatians 1:15
But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased.

Paul describes his history to others. Look at how he talks about his life to others:

Acts 23:6
When Paul realized that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part were Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead!”

Acts 22:25-28
25 As they stretched him out for the lash, Paul said to the centurion standing by, “Is it legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and is uncondemned?”

26 When the centurion heard this, he went and reported to the commander, saying, “What are you going to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.”

27 The commander came and said to him, “Tell me—are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes,” he said.

28 The commander replied, “I bought this citizenship for a large amount of money.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul said.

Acts 22:3
He continued, “I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today,

God does a work in each of us that we can’t explain. God orders our life and our steps in where we grow up. God knew that Paul would use his discussions as a Roman citizen, and even as a Pharisee, to his advantage for the sake of proclaiming the gospel to those who would hear it. He places us where He wants us. In Paul’s situation, God had to form a Saul into a Paul, the servant of the living God.

God’s grace has an amazing effect on each of us (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Romans 5:17
Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Don’t miss the word “overflow,” which means an abundance of His grace that is far beyond our human expectation.

James 4:6
But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Grace has a positive result for the person who recognizes it for what it is. Do you recognize the grace that God has given you?

Ephesians 4:7
Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.

God’s grace is not a license to take advantage of it as an excuse for sin.

Jude 1:4
For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.

God’s grace allows you to do more than just exist. He wants each of us to grow and change within His grace. It takes His grace to trust God, to come under His authority, and to have a desire to seek Him.

Are you taking advantage of His grace for your benefit? Do you have a desire to seek Him and serve Him in a greater capacity? This is the essence of living the abundant life for Jesus Christ. It has taken His abundant grace for each us to make the commitment to live for Him.

2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.