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The Church and Salvation: The Teaching of God’s People

Today’s message summary of October 22, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

After the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, there was a period of 400 years where there was no prophet from God on the scene, and man was left to himself as to how he would practice his faith.  During this 400 years, you would see different things occur, but the pursuit of religion was left to man’s own accord.

The Sadducees relied upon natural law and not upon any teachings or writings.  Even today, the issue is the lack of good, sound teaching of God’s Word.  We are in a society that receives very little education, especially in reasoning and understanding.

The church originally started schools for the purpose of teaching people how to read and write.  It was to help people be able to read and understand what they were reading, and it was to be able to gain something from God’s Word.

Hosea 4:6 KJV

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

How well are we being taught?  Do we believe what we are being taught?

Teaching should not be just a repetition of what the teacher has said, but to go further into seeking the information that has been presented.

Acts 17:11

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

Many people will sit in church and hear the Word, but if it is not taught and the people decide it is not to be believed or understood, then it is just a waste of time.

One of the obvious things that one can observe in a believer’s life is a lack of progression.  It is from a lack of faith.  It comes down to trusting God more than just trusting yourself.  The Word of God is to be taught to help to develop you more into the type of person that God wants you to be.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

Why would one go to a doctor for advice and leave without taking it?  Paul was not holding back in any way his knowledge of God.  It is important that the people of God may grow and mature with the proper instruction of God’s Word.

What happened during those 400 years?  There were groups that emerged:

The Essenes followed Greek philosophies that existed two centuries before Christ emerged.  They were a Jewish sect.  Note that their belief in how souls were transported was void of God’s teaching.

The Scribes emerged as a continuation of the group that existed during David and Solomon’s time.  They were known for recording words and also for accounting.  They set forth and maintain order when it came to how things were to be accomplished, and yet there was no prophet that provided additional inspiration.

The Sadducees did not believe in death and resurrection of the dead, nor angels or spirits.  They only believed in the present life they were living.  (Much like those who lack belief are today.  There are many who believe that there is nothing after this life.)

Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

The Pharisees are believed to have emerged from the Maccabeans, and they kept up with the writings of Moses, but they also infused a number of new rules within their way of living that ultimately became much more important than that of God’s Word.

Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

Luke 11:42

“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:52

“Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge! You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”

God desires for sincere worship and praise before Him.

There is something wrong with the number of churches that are existence today in that there is hardly any teaching.  Even worse, we are teaching the precepts of man rather than those from God.

The ministry of Jesus began with teaching.  Questions and answers follow this instruction.  There is learning that is taking place.

Luke 2:46

After three days, they found Him (Jesus at age 12) in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Matthew 4:17

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”

Luke 4:14-15

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone.

A good teacher must also be a good listener.  He or she will always listen to the students in order to know what needs to be imparted.

Note that there was a 400-year gap before Jesus was teaching the people.  Many people were hungry for His words of instruction.

The church, as a whole, must return to teaching.  Teaching will either draw your nearer to Jesus, or it will chase you away.  Either way, the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word must be shared.

Our churches should be overflowing–not because of preachers who entertain, but because God’s Word is being proclaimed.

If a person comes to church to do anything other than hear God’s Word, it becomes idolatry.

The Spirit must be present in order that the teacher can be used to advance the will of the Father.  A teacher must recognize the evidence of God’s presence in order to teach well.  Jesus’s own ministry was not independent of the Father and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16-17

After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!

John 4:34

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

John 5:19-20

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works that these so that you will be amazed.

2 John 1:9

Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

God is a teacher.  It is the very character and nature of God.

Deuteronomy 4:12-14

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets. At that time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to follow in the land you are about to cross into and possess.

Isaiah 48:17

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Jeremiah 32:33

They have turned their backs to Me and not their faces. Though I taught them time and time again, they do not listen and receive discipline.

The instruction that we receive is to help us in obedience and to follow and live according to His will.  That, ultimately, is what is best for us.

Jesus’s teaching is to help us to see something far greater from His instruction than just mere words.

John 7:46

The police answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”

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How to Pray within Depression (Part 10 of a Series – ‘Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?’)

Today’s message summary of September 17, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

 

Job 7:1-21

Isnt each person consigned to forced labor on earth?

Are not his days like those of a hired worker?

Like a slave he longs for shade;

like a hired worker he waits for his pay.

So I have been made to inherit months of futility,

and troubled nights have been assigned to me.

When I lie down I think,

When will I get up?

But the evening drags on endlessly,

and I toss and turn until dawn.

My flesh is clothed with maggots and encrusted with dirt.

My skin forms scabs and then oozes.

My days pass more swiftly than a weavers shuttle;

they come to an end without hope.

Remember that my life is but a breath.

My eye will never again see anything good.

The eye of anyone who looks on me

will no longer see me.

Your eyes will look for me, but I will be gone.

As a cloud fades away and vanishes,

so the one who goes down to Sheol will never rise again.

He will never return to his house;

his hometown will no longer remember him.

Therefore I will not restrain my mouth.

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Am I the sea or a sea monster,

that you keep me under guard?

When I say, My bed will comfort me,

and my couch will ease my complaint,

then you frighten me with dreams,

and terrify me with visions,

so that I prefer strangling

death rather than life in this body.

I give up! I will not live forever.

Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.

What is a mere human, that you think so highly of him

and pay so much attention to him?

You inspect him every morning,

and put him to the test every moment.

Will you ever look away from me,

or leave me alone long enough to swallow?

If I have sinned, what have I done to you,

Watcher of humanity?

Why have you made me your target,

so that I have become a burden to you?

Why not forgive my sin

and pardon my iniquity?

For soon I will lie down in the grave.

You will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone.

The book of Job is an autobiography of Job’s life.  It is a personal account of his life when he faced hardship and adversity.  He faced such adversity that none of us would be prepared to face.  He lost his seven sons and three daughters and suffered a severe financial crisis.  His wife, after these losses, was bitter and angry, as well.

As much as some would like to believe that life here today is prosperous, it is not the best life you can experience.  What we experience here today is rooted in a fallen world.

Some day, we may face hardship and difficulty.  Finances, marriage, and even the death of a child.  That is what Job experienced all at once.

Tragedy can hit someone, and it can strike to the core.  It is important to understand that it is OK to feel embittered.  Those emotions, however, are not to dictate how we respond or act.  Job is the example of this:

Job never cursed God.  He was bitter and in great anguish.  He had suffered great loss.  He felt that he was an innocent man that was suffering for no reason.  He was indeed angry with Him, and wanted answers from Him as to what was going on.

Depression and Despair (Job 7:1-16)

When we review these verses, I want to you see and hear Job’s heart.

Job’s suffering had continued throughout those days because of life in a fallen, sin-cursed world.  After the fall of man, that is when suffering started.  Having to work is the result of being in a fallen world.

Job also notes that he has chronic pain (v. 5).  Pain, in itself, is suffering.  In addition to his stress, his physical pain attributed to his depression.  In Job 2:8, he was scraping the scabs off of himself with a piece of broken pottery.  He may have contemplated suicide.  He had cursed the day that he was born because he was in such distress.

The emotions here are a lesson for us.  How you come through the suffering is important.  You are not to respond with bitterness or anger, but look to Jesus Christ for comfort in the midst of your depression.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to understand that He is the one who guides you through your depression.  He does not want you to consider suicide as an option.  It is by God’s grace that you can pull through

The Heart of God (Job 1:17-19)

God’s heart is set upon you in spite of how you are feeling.  God does not look away from us even though you may want him to do so (as Job did).  God allowed Job to face the crises as He knew how he would respond.

It is difficult for us to understand how God allows this type of suffering to take place in our lives.  We don’t see the total picture–we only see what is right in front of us.  The best way to address this is to look at the person of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 2:16-18

For it is clear that he does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abrahams offspring.  Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Christ is the perfect illustration of the One who suffered for no reason.  Do not think, for one moment, that Christ did not experience depression.

Luke 22:39-46

He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.  When he reached the place, he told them, Pray that you may not fall into temptation.  Then he withdrew from them about a stones throw, knelt down, and began to pray, Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from menevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him.  Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.  When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.  Why are you sleeping? he asked them. Get up and pray, so that you wont fall into temptation.

This was the most depressing moment in that Christ was asking God not to have to suffer.  He was going through a great deal of anxiety as He was facing God’s wrath for our sins, yet He remained obedient to the Father.  The act of Christ’s knowledge that He would suffer on the cross was depressing, and yet he prayed over this to the Father.

In addition to prayer, a person who is suffering with depression should share with others.  If someone is struggling, be sure to get involved with their life out of concern and care.  This is how the church should respond.

Praying Through Depression (Job 7:17-21)

Job wanted God to leave him alone, and God said no.  Job also acknowledged that he was depressed, and was prayerful for a glimmer of hope.

When in a state of depression, it takes fervent prayer and meditation to get through the experience.  God promises His presence in the midst of your struggles.


Team FOCUS: Serving in the Body of Christ

Today’s message of March 5, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

I was planning my monthly meeting the other day at my job with my team of collectors and assistants, and I stumbled on something to use within the meeting that I thought was quite meaningful.

To give a quick review, I now have a team of ten people, eight collectors and two admins, that report to me.  Part of my responsibility is to rally the troops and encourage them to work well as individuals, and also to work as a team for a common goal.  This is important because each of us are evaluated every year with team performance goals, and they have a significant impact as to our overall departmental productivity.

I came up with a way to define our collections group with a name, and I called it “Team FOCUS,” with the word “focus” featured in all capital letters.  If you know anything about company meetings, some of the people in the meeting are sincerely looking at you and listening, and some are looking down at the table, and some may even be doodling on their legal pad; nevertheless, the phrase “Team FOCUS” seemed to be well received.  I reminded everyone that, as a team member, each person is to focus on what tasks need to be done and to assist the other team members in order to achieve their goals for the year.

As I was planning this out, it occurred to me that there is application for this same type of focus within the church, and on an even grander scale, the body of Christ.  As Jesus calls upon His people to reflect His IMAGE in a Christlike manner, we are also to support each other and live amongst one another in peace, and often that means working well together as a team for a common goal.  In this effort, the most important goal is that Jesus Christ is glorified.

In other words, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to be humble before Him and live in obedience, and also be humble in the effort of working with other people within the body of Christ.

Oh, if it was all that simple to do.

The reality is that some of us just don’t play well with others.  Many of you certainly remember growing up with a group of friends that you enjoyed hanging out with, while there were others you tried to avoid because they either made fun of you or just didn’t like you.  That may be kids stuff, but adults seem to have refined this approach to become a special talent.

Look, we all have our favorites…our favorite people to hang around. But Christ calls us to do more than just hang out with our favorite people.  We are challenged to do more…go further.  It is another way that He sanctifies us within our relationship with Him.  The one who seeks Jesus Christ will find himself stretched and molded into someone that he never thought could happen, and that it would be a great thing!  God wants to bring you to a place where you are willing to do even more for Him as you step out in faith.

Note that this discussion is about working well within the body of Christ. Let’s be honest. If you can’t play well with others within the body, how in the world will you ever be the best you can be in discipling others in the body and in reaching people for Jesus Christ who are not saved?

And isn’t that exactly what this thing about discipleship is all about?  You can’t pick and choose your favorite people for this stuff.  If Christ sends someone into your path, are you willing to walk the path with that person, or will you back down and take another road?  Some will trust in Christ’s direction, while others will move in a different direction.  I challenge you to consider that following God’s direction is a much more meaningful path to take.

In order to be successful in Christ, you need to resist your own desires in the flesh and be humble, teachable and trainable in His ways.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

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

Jesus Christ is looking for the ones who are willing to remain faithful and obedient to Him, and He responds, in kind, with the guidance that you will need to maintain the focus that we are to have in our service for Him.

Proverbs 3:1-6 HCSB

My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

for they will bring you

many days, a full life, and well-being.

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

In order to execute effectively this team FOCUS, we need to bring our own talents to the table.  God gives each of us a measure of talents and abilities that are available to support and edify each other within the body of Jesus Christ.  Each of us, in addition to these talents, brings a very unique trait…your own personality!  Of the ten different people who report to me at work, I believe I have seven or eight different personalities within the group!  Most of them work very hard…some harder than others, but ultimately at acceptable levels, and each person injects his or her personality into what they bring to the workplace.  God created you to be who you are, of course, and to share who you are within the body of Christ with your own uniqueness!

These individual traits make up your FOCUS within the team effort:

The “F” stands for fair-mindedness.

If you look up fair-minded in the American Heritage Dictionary, it is defined as “just and impartial; not prejudiced.” Your approach is to always project honesty and impartiality in everything that you take on.  When it comes to working with a group or a team, this can be easier said than done.  It can be easy to play favorites, be judgmental, or pick people to work with or witness to that seem friendly.  Christ calls for his people to have integrity and not only work with those who may not stand out as appealing, but also reach out to those who may even respond with hostility.  The key is to be responsive to the Holy Spirit in our movement throughout the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Colossians 3:23-24 HCSB

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

The “O” stands for organization.

While organization is often a guideline for business professionals, it is helpful for believers to carry out their service for Jesus Christ, both as individuals and within a group, in a formal, deliberate manner.  I’m all for spontaneity and being ready to move when the Spirit tells you to move, but having a plan for your life and striving to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ requires having a daily schedule of bible reading and prayer.  The events of life will require some degree of flexibility, and plans will most definitely change, but your Christlike life of planning and organization provides you with a baseline and guideline for effective ministry.

Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

In order for you to experience success in the Lord, you will also need to live for Christ in the body with consistency.

The “C” stands for consistency.

Your life in Jesus Christ every day will have its opportunities.  There will be victories, and you will also experience setbacks.  There will be praises to God from His blessings along with prayers to Him for mercy and comfort.  A consistent life in Christ, in His service, is a persistent life of faith, forgiveness, repentance and reverence.  In your consistent approach of looking to Jesus, the Holy Spirit provides wisdom, knowledge and understanding as He sanctifies you with His presence.  You will experience greater successes when you stay the course and remain consistently faithful in Jesus Christ.  Your desire to live for Christ will be acknowledged with blessings and testimonies that will glorify Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The “U” stands for unity…being unified in your efforts.

Work within the body of Christ is the epitome of effective teamwork, especially when the members give a testimony that gives God the glory.  It is not about just the efforts of the individual.  It is about your service for the team, the group, the church.  It is for the testimony of God at work within you and the group.  Jesus is the reason why you do what you are doing.

Philippians 2:1-4 HCSB

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

The “S” stands for skilled.

You bring your skills that you have acquired over a lifetime, even perhaps as an expert in whatever field you are in, and they lend to a very good end-product with your contributions.  Your God-given talents and gifts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are provided for you to be successful in your ministry of Jesus Christ.  God wants people to serve Him in wisdom and knowledge with His talents and gifts to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ.

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,

use it according to the standard of one’s faith;

if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Of course, this is far from an all inclusive list of gifts.  There are many examples of people in the Bible who have different professions or trades, and God will use all of these things to accomplish His glory and His purpose.  He wants you to use your skills in ministry in order to reach people for Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Your FOCUS today is to be a better team member in service for Jesus Christ.  It begins with your desire to do more in Jesus Christ and to be open to many exciting opportunities as you work within the body of Christ to reach the lost.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Identity: Your Choice–Flesh or Spirit?

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:

A person can say, “Lord, I love you,” yet the heart may be far from Him. We have the choice to walk with Him in the Spirit or walk in the flesh. The unbeliever can only walk in the flesh. Only the Christian can choose to live by the Spirit in obedience of God or in the flesh in disobedience. The war is always ongoing between the flesh and the Spirit. As you live more and more in the Spirit, you will have the power and ability to suppress and overcome the flesh.

Which one will you choose?

Galatians 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The list that mirrors the life of people of the world who do not have Jesus falls within four groups:
1.) Sexual sin
2.) False worship (idolatry); drug abuse
3.) Factions; in-house fighting
4.) Appetites–drunkenness; orgies

The acts of the sinful nature are seen by everyone (Galatians 5:19).

Sin changes our character to the degree that it can change how people perceive you. Your behavior will raise red flags before others around you. It is obvious when you are not walking in obedience to The Lord.

Scripture says to flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

How does one hurt himself? It can be psychological and also physical (there are many diseases that can occur via sexual intercourse that are incurable). These sins can hinder one’s thinking and has a negative effect all relationships unless God does a work in this area.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that there are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year. Of those, half are among people between the ages of 15-24.

Ephesians 4:19
They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

Adultery and fornication: one or both adults are married. Marriage is a contract, and it means to be legally bound to the vows taken between a man and a woman; for example, two single people cannot commit adultery.

Mark 10:7-8
7 For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
[and be joined to his wife],
8 and the two will become one flesh.
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Adultery not only hurts one self, but countless others who are aware of the marriage relationship (relatives, friends, etc.)

Fornication: At least one participant is not under the marriage vow contract, or neither person is married. If a relationship of this type ends, there is damage because there was never a true commitment and the emotional side is exposed.

Prostitution is also fornication. A brothel is a place where prostitution takes place. The word ‘brothel’ means ‘wretched person,’ to waste away, go to ruin.

Fornication is always about self-pleasure. It brings about broken relationships and harms the parents’ trust. This is why the unmarried people are to abstain from sex and not participate until after marriage. The relationship between the man and the woman can be irreparably harmed, as well. A woman can experience anger from the deceit that she was used in the relationship. A pregnancy that develops from the relationship also damages the child because he or she was not wanted in the first place. There are psychological consequences because the child does not see himself as wanted or needed within the relationship.

Impurity, uncleanness: dirt, dirty, soiled; ceremonially, spiritually unclean.

Romans 6:19
I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

Ephesians 5:3
But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification.

Romans 1:24
Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.

Ephesians 4:19
They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Those who participate in sexual immorality are not usable by God.


How To Keep Sin Out of Your Life

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

God keeps us in the hollow of His hand with His love for us.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t experience sin.  We must note that sin must be kept out of our lives because it brings about spiritual death.

James 1:13-15

13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

We’re going to look at our thought process and our way of thinking, which leads to our decision-making process.  If my thoughts are guided by our worldly system, then the thoughts that come forth will reflect what the world represents.  Those thoughts will generate sin, and they will generate spiritual death.  This is represented in uselessness for God’s kingdom.

God’s desire is to develop a system of thinking in us that is above this world’s way of thinking.

Acts 20:32

“And now I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified.”

God provides us with the knowledge that allows us to overcome the world.

2 Peter 1:2-4

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

Our thought process is developed through observation, our life experiences (trust or distrust, like or dislike) and education.  Keep in mind that all of this is coupled with our own desires if we are looking to the world for our values.  All of these work together in forming a person’s way of thinking.  God wants us to recognize His role in our thought process and look to Him for wisdom and knowledge through our observations, experiences and education.

God intends to build us up through His Word in order to help them to grow in Him and overcome the world.  Without His Word, you will succumb to the world and fall subject to sin.  The peace of God and His grace comes through the wisdom and knowledge of God through Jesus Christ.  There is a distinction between knowedge as we understand it in the world and godly knowledge.  God gives you everything you need to live in holiness and a godly life in Jesus Christ.

If you proclaim yourself to be a Christian, you will need to look to God’s Word for guidance in how you should live.  Satan wants to keep believers from obtaining that knowledge and wisdom, which will render you as ineffective and corruptible through sin and its worldly influences.  God’s Word provides you the ability to live in His divine nature and a Christlike existence.

There are two different ways that you can develop as a person:

1. Natural development (according to the world’s standards)

1 Corinthians 1:20

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?

Proverbs 13:20

The one who walks with the wise will become wise,

but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 12:15

A fool’s way is right in his own eyes,

but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

Proverbs 17:12

Better for a man to meet a bear robbed of her cubs

than a fool in his foolishness.

2.  Divine development (according to God’s will and His standards)

Proverbs 12:15

A fool’s way is right in his own eyes,

but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord

is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 2:6, 9-10

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,

and integrity—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your mind,

and knowledge will delight your heart.

Proverbs 13:20

The one who walks with the wise will become wise,

but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

Believers are to operate within a “kingdom system” in the development of their thought life.

To man belongs the plans of the heart, but God provides the answers (Proverbs 16:9).  God wants to give us knowledge that develops our thinking, our imagination, and our thought process.  It is up to the believer to receive it and live accordingly.

Proverbs 16:1-9

1 The reflections of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

2 All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord evaluates the motives.

3 Commit your activities to the Lord,

and your plans will be achieved.

4 The Lord has prepared everything for His purpose—

even the wicked for the day of disaster.

5 Everyone with a proud heart is detestable to the Lord;

be assured, he will not go unpunished.

6 Wickedness is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness,

and one turns from evil by the fear of the Lord.

7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness

than great income with injustice.

9 A man’s heart plans his way,

but the Lord determines his steps.

God knows our hearts and our thoughts.  We certainly can’t hide anything from Him.  He knows our sincerity in seeking Him, and He will provide answers that will guide us in every decision we make.

Here is an example with reference to David:

1 Chronicles 28:2-3, 6

2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. It was in my heart to build a house as a resting place for the ark of the Lord’s covenant and as a footstool for our God. I had made preparations to build, 3 but God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

6 He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who is to build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his father.

1 Chronicles 29:2-3

2 So to the best of my ability I’ve made provision for the house of my God: gold for the gold articles, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron, and wood for the wood, as well as onyx, stones for mounting, antimony, stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and a great quantity of marble. 3 Moreover, because of my delight in the house of my God, I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the house of my God over and above all that I’ve provided for the holy house.

We are to use God’s thoughts, His ways, His standards and the enabling of the Holy Spirit to develop our thought process in order to keep our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ over the world’s view of life.  In this way, we will resist sin and remain focused on our service for Him.


Celebrating The God We Serve

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today it is not about celebrating Roger and Barb (who are leaving and moving to Denver)–it is about celebrating the God that they serve…the One we are to serve. He has worked continually in their lives, and they are our example of how to live godly lives before others.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Roger and Barb became new creatures in Jesus Christ when they acknowledged Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. God brought about the change in their lives that each of us can see today.

True love for a spouse can be a deeper love with the appreciation of the godly love from Jesus Christ. It is a choice that has to be made.

Colossians 3:1
So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

Roger and Barb have lives of service
that reflect their love for Jesus Christ. They set their lives before Him in service and in expressing themselves as people of godly dedication. Many times, they are first to arrive at church on Sunday mornings and often the last to leave. Their life is hidden in Christ.

Roger and Barb’s gift of service has always been very apparent.

Romans 12:7
…if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching

A servant is always humble and appreciative of how God has blessed his efforts. They minister to others and are obedient to Him.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

Roger and Barb exercise faithfulness. When they say they will do something–they will do it. I’m sure that they learned all of this from The Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2
1 A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries. 2 In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God has a perfect plan for each of us. In God’s hands, we will always have a future. If we trust in Him and in His plans, He will give us rest and contentment because of our confidence that He is in control. When you live a life of faithfulness to God, you will be surprised at what you will accomplish.


God’s Promise To Abraham For Today

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
God has had a plan for the church throughout the ages, and He is actively working in the church today. God has always had a group of people that He has called His own. In the Old Testament, we note that God referred to Israel as His people. It is noted that Israel was not just a nation, but God’s chosen was a group of spiritual people within Israel. He desired for them to grow in Him and love Him, and in turn, God would be glorified. In the same way, the church today has a large number of people who go to church, but not all of them are really following Christ. How much adultery and double-minded behavior is taking place in the church? All sinners who accept Jesus are indeed saved by grace, but there comes a point where we are to live in holiness according to His Word. His grace is not an excuse to keep sinning (Romans 6:1).
Romans 2:28-29
28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. 29 On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.

You’re not a Christian by outward appearances–by what you say or do before others. Even making a confession of faith is not enough…a true believer is when the Holy Spirit works from the inside of a person and moves a person to respond to Christ from the heart. It is this desire to serve Him that is manifested in everything that a believer does for Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. 32 Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, 33 just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they may be saved.

Luke 6:20-23
20 Then looking up at His disciples, He said:
You who are poor are blessed,
because the kingdom of God is yours.
21 You who are now hungry are blessed,
because you will be filled.
You who now weep are blessed,
because you will laugh.
22 You are blessed when people hate you,
when they exclude you, insult you,
and slander your name as evil
because of the Son of Man.

23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Take note—your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

The outward displays or declarations made by people who profess Christ does not mean that they are serving Christ. It is more about the heart of the people that live for Christ that distinguishes them as people of God.

Both Israel and today’s church are called to be holy.

Galatians 3:29
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

If we belong to Jesus Christ, we reflect the faith of Abraham in believing and trusting in God in all things. It is out of this seed comes today’s church, of which Christ is the head of the church. God knows the hearts of his people.

Luke 1:67-79
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has visited
and provided redemption for His people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
70 just as He spoke by the mouth
of His holy prophets in ancient times;
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the clutches of those who hate us.
72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers
and remembered His holy covenant—
73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham.
He has given us the privilege,
74 since we have been rescued
from our enemies’ clutches,
to serve Him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
in His presence all our days.
76 And child, you will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare His ways,
77 to give His people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the Dawn from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Acts 3:25-26
25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26 God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

The true church is the heir of the promise that God made to Abraham, who is the father of many nations that have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:14-18
14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
15 Brothers, I’m using a human illustration. No one sets aside or makes additions to even a human covenant that has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ. 17 And I say this: The law, which came 430 years later, does not revoke a covenant that was previously ratified by God and cancel the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is from the law, it is no longer from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

While God, according to Scripture, never extended a covenant with the church, He does show that the true church are the heirs of the promise that God made to Abraham. the true followers of Christ are the people of God–the seed of Abraham.

The law was added by God for His people to give Israel instruction and teaching and because of the transgression of the people. In today’s church, the correct teaching is that we are saved by grace, but that doesn’t cancel out the importance of the law. God says “if you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).” The law represents discipline and is necessary to distinguish those who claim to follow Christ and those who are truly serving Him from the heart.

The Law is Direction For Life

  • The law is our condemnation–the gospel is our salvation
  • The law condemns us–the gospel justifies us
  • The law produces rebellion–the gospel produces submission
  • The law brings about false pride–the gospel brings humility and thankfulness

The law provides a blueprint as to how we are to please God, and it guides us to Jesus Christ.

God is working His plan and purpose in reaching many people for His glory. The true church–the believers in Christ–are Abraham’s seed.