Tag Archives: presence

Jesus is in Our Midst

Today’s message summary of June 11, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

It is important to note that God is the one who empowers and strengthens us.  He is in our midst with even only two of us let alone a small group (Matthew 18:20).

Jesus is in our midst, and with that realization, all fear disappears.  We want to see Him and hear from Him as we recognize His presence.

Believers gather together in the name of Jesus.  He promises that He never leaves us or forsakes us, and it is a promise for us now and in the future.

There has to be a reason for His presence.  He promises that He will be with those who desire to seek Him.  We may not physically see Him, but we believe He is present because of faith.

Jesus informed His disciples that He would not be with them much longer, but told them that He would always be with them to the end of the age.

He wants us to know that the prayer and actions of two people is more powerful than that of a thousand people, and He tells us that He is with us.

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.

Genesis 4:26

A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh.  At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

The heart of the believer has to come to a place to acknowledge His presence, and determine if he or she is in accord with God’s will.  If God is in the midst of what you are doing, He is going to speak to you, affirm you, guide you, and even correct you.

Among two people, you can have cooperation, but you can also have conflict and even destruction.  Even a small group can have trouble in accomplishing God’s will if there are differences within the group.

Malachi 3:16-18

At the time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord and had high regard for his name. “They will be mine,” says the Lord of Armies, “my own possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Those who fear the Lord talk with each other. If the conversation look who is in the midst making corrections.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask Godwho gives to all generously and ungrudginglyand it will be given to him.

With God in our midst, He will speak to us, and we need to train ourselves to listen to Him.

Wisdom is needed.  God is in the conversation.

Guidance is needed.  Jesus is there.

Understanding is needed.  Jesus is there.

1 Corinthians 14:33

…since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

God is in the midst to bring about order and not to create disorder.  He provides guidance for order and proper function.

Proverbs 16:9

A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

Planning is necessary, but God is the one who must affirm the plans.  We are to be sensitive to His wisdom and guidance through the process, including making changes when and where they should be made.  As we listen to Him and remain focused upon Him, He will make us shine in the process.

Psalm 37:33

The Lord will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

Think of what Jesus means to you in your life.

The name of Jesus is a name of power and authority.  He is the one who will clean up your life and order your steps.

The name of Jesus represents the Godhead.  In that name, the fullness of the Godhead (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is present.  They are all present and all of them are there when we call upon His name.  He is there to protect you…His investment.

Colossians 1:9

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Micah 5:4-5

He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord his God. They will live securely, for them his greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. He will be their peace. When Assyria invades our land, when it marches against our fortresses, we will raise against it seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men.

1 Peter 5:4

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

A group of servants within a church or organization may call a meeting, but it should be the desire of the group to have access to God.

We are to desire God’s presence, to hear His voice, and to receive His guidance. We want His favor and His peace.

No one gets to God’s presence without Jesus; therefore, we gather together in the name of Jesus.

Romans 5:1-2

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

John 14:6-7

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

When we come together, Jesus is with us, whether it is two people or a hundred people.

We can do whatever God has purposed for us to do (no matter the number of people).

Nehemiah learned this very lesson.  He succeeded in spite of a small group and opposition.

Faith says Jesus is with us, even though we don’t physically see Him.

He has promised to be with us.

He reveals that He is with us.

John 20:19-23

When it was evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Jesus is in the midst of us.  He is there, and we have to trust in it.  The promise to believers in Jesus Christ is that when you meet, He is there.

  • All authority and power is in His name (Matthew 28:18).
  • Every knee shall bow to His name (Philippians 2:10).
  • He has a claim to ownership of everything within the meeting (His Lordship).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Dont you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is working in you both according to his good purpose.


A Ministry of Presence

A message of November 20, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

My journey to grow further in my personal relationship in Jesus Christ began in earnest just over three years ago when I searched for colleges in pursuit of a Master’s Degree. Once I discovered what I believe is my purpose in the kingdom for Jesus Christ, it has been my desire to pursue what I believed would be the best course for my life.

I was thrilled to share my thoughts with my lovely wife three years ago. She admittedly looked at me with concern about this pursuit. She knew what such a commitment meant, and that there would be moments where I would be in seclusion. It would be tough for me, and sometimes it would be tough for the both of us. The schedule meant that I would be giving up Saturdays for many weeks, and two of our annual vacations in February involved me writing papers for classes. After it was all done this year, I was very, very happy to finish. I never doubted that I would finish, but I also note that it was just the beginning for me.

Once you make a commitment to some sort of ministry, you make a commitment to live your life in service for Jesus Christ. This commitment to Christ is a serious, life-changing step, and when you know what that means, you go after it with gusto.

My next life-growth step involves my study for a unit of clinical pastoral education, which is basically learning how to become a chaplain. There is a lot that I am learning about the profession, and in turn, there is a lot that I am learning about myself. It is not a coincidence, by the way, that we are studying personal spiritual growth in Sunday school each week. Once you learn your purpose, the Holy Spirit will enable you and also pave the way for you to be the best person that you can be in service for Jesus Christ.

In order to be the best person you can be for Jesus Christ, there are some things that are understood for the dedicated believer…faith and trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, and dedication to live a consistent life for Him.

  • Faith and trust

Hebrews 11:6 HCSB

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB

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.

  • Obedience

Joshua 1:8-9 ESV

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 HCSB

When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.

  • A life of consistency

1 Corinthians 15:58 HCSB

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Galatians 6:9 HCSB

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Being the best person for Jesus Christ means looking at these verses and all of Scripture to learn what it is to be a model citizen.  It is your active ministry within both the body of Christ and in your daily travels as a light for Jesus Christ in the world.

Our focus today is on ministry and the development of relationships.  Discipleship, or one-on-one instruction, mentoring and accountability has a starting point, and it involves making and building relationships with others.

You can’t develop a relationship with someone by merely sending a friend request on Facebook.  You can’t do it by using Snap or taking selfies on Instagram.  A real relationship starts and continues with a physical presence—one-on-one.  It is what we will refer to today as a ministry of presence.

Consider how a person, such as a shut-in, or a person who doesn’t receive a lot of company, feels when someone comes by to see how things are going.  It shows your care and concern for a person just by showing up.  Ministry begins when you step out of your zone and reach out to others.  Look at how much you appreciate God’s presence in your life:

Psalm 16:11 ESV

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In a ministry of presence, there are five “BE” statements that apply in relationship development:

  1. Be approachable

Approachability is important in that it defines you as a distinct child of God and as a light in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB

“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.”

  1. Be available

Showing yourself as available means that there is nothing that is hindering a visit or your conversation.  You show yourself as genuine when you give your undivided attention to the person.

Jesus wants you to be available to minister to others.  It has nothing to do with your timing or your convenience.  You may live in the Eastern time zone and set your watch accordingly, but effective ministry is calibrated on God’s timing.

Isaiah 6:8 KJV

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

  1. Be patient

This follows being available. There are times when a person that is sharing with you needs to share to get something out or get it off of their chest. There may be a buildup of anger or frustration that needs to come out, and it may take some time.  When you are ministering to someone, it would be rude to put the other person on a time limit or give signals that they are running out of time.  When these moments occur, please consider how patient the Lord has been with you.

Ephesians 4:1-3 HCSB

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

James 1:19 ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

  1. Be loving

If you look around, it’s hard at times to find love in the world. If it is so hard for us to see it, then it is up to us to provide it.  Be loving to those who you minister to.

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

1 Corinthians 13:4a

Love is patient and kind.

  1. Just be

This is in line with your act of love.  A ministry of presence means that you should “just be.”  Sometimes the best thing that you can do in ministry is to just listen…just listen to what the other person is saying.  Hearts may be broken and hurts may need to be expressed.  Your words, in response, may be unnecessary or inadequate depending upon the moment.  Being a presence involves care, comfort, and helping someone to see that he or she is not alone.  Just be who you are.

A ministry of presence involves these five “BE” statements:

Be approachable.

Be available.

Be patient.

Be loving.

Just be.

This can be the jump start for your ministry.  Even if you don’t know all of the answers or you’re still learning in your own relationship with Jesus Christ, you can do all of these things as you learn more about serving Him in discipleship.  It means coming out of your comfort zone in faith, obedience and living with consistency for Jesus Christ.  You can do it.

Jesus Christ wants you to live and love others with a ministry of presence.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Be Filled

Today’s message summary of April 17, 2016 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:

To be filled is to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit.

By and large, Western Evangelicals have misrepresented what it means to be filled by the Spirit. The Spirit is more than just being filled as if one were turning on electricity to operate an appliance. There has been a usurpation of the true doctrinal teaching of the Spirit, and it deceives people of what it truly is.

This heretical teaching in that it gives the impression that a person does not receive the indwelling of the Spirit upon conversion when accepting Christ.

Your belief system changes your theology, and your theology dictates your actions. If you believe in this and other types of movements that advocate the propagation of the prosperity gospel, then you are being deceived. Spiritual gifts are not something that you need to learn about or even pay for.

In examining one of the church’s core values, they state that they believe that the manifestation of the Spirit means that we are spiritually mature. My interpretation of this is that if you are not speaking in tongues or manifesting these special gifts, then you are not spiritually mature.

There are many videos on YouTube that proclaim that the Spirit can be tossed around like a baseball. Those who were “tossed” the Spirit would fall backward when they “caught it.”

First Timothy tells us that in the latter times, many will depart from the faith and embrace demonic teachings (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

To pronounce something different about whom the Holy Spirit is and what He represents is truly a dangerous thing.

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the triune God. He is equal to God the Father and God the Son, and there is no difference between any of them; however, there is a distinction in the presence and the personhood of the Holy Spirit. We worship one God, but we understand there are three persons. This is a mystery that our minds cannot comprehend; however, we still worship one God.

If you were baptized, then you understand that you were baptized in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

The Role of the Holy Spirit

Acts 13:2

As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.”

The Spirit audibly spoke to the Apostles. He always spoke to men, and He is still speaking to men today.

When you ask God for wisdom, it is the Spirit that grants wisdom.

For the Spirit searches everything–even the depths of God.

The Holy Spirit illuminates the text of Scripture to give understanding to what is being read.

Ephesians 4:30-32

And dont grieve Gods Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

You grieve the Holy Spirit when you reject His instruction.

The unforgivable sin is when a person rejects the efforts of the Holy Spirit to bring a person to Christ (Matthew 12:31).

 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the One who sanctifies the believer to be more like Jesus Christ. He is insurance for us that gives us assurance of a perfect union with Jesus. For those who are unsure of their salvation, I encourage you to speak to either Pastor Gus, or me because there is a chance that, in your uncertainty, that you are not saved.

Being filled in the Spirit has different connotations; for example, the Greek word “pimplemi” means to be filled. “Pimplemi” always refers to the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit.

For those who are being saturated with the knowledge and presence of the Spirit, He will give you the ability to minister to others in His power.

 

Application

If you are saved, you are in Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit is sanctifying you. In order to be sanctified, you must be filled with the Spirit. You need to absorb Him through His Word like a sponge. The question for you is not about whether the Spirit is present–the question is whether or not you are filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit fills a believer–dwells from within–when you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Are you filled?


Knowing the Peace of God

A message summary of October 4, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There are people that desire peace in their lives, but that peace is often attempted without God’s presence.
The more that you are walking with the Lord, the events of the day will not unsettle you. That is peace from God that Satan cannot take away from you.
During the times of war, there will be periods where matters are very unsettling.
The taking (removal) of peace from the earth – The Second Seal is opened.
Revelation 6:3-4

When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse went out, a fiery red one, and it’s horseman was empowered to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And a large sword was given to him.

The absence of peace is chaos. Without God’s inner peace, people will hurt others until they get what they desire.
If the Holy Spirit was not present in our lives today, we would operate in the same manner that the world does.
Confusion is defined as a state of disorder; a time of bewilderment; the failure to distinguish between things (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Peace is the freedom from disorder; an undisturbed state of mind; the absence of mental conflict.

Peace of mind

John 16:33

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

Only Jesus Christ can calm you during your storms in life.  Without God’s peace, you will come unraveled.

Every man and woman alive today will experience trouble. Only Jesus can bring people through this trouble.

In Revelation 6:4, the word “take” in the passage “take peace” means “to get hold of” or to seize or remove.

There is no exemption from the rage and havoc of war.

There is no peace between individuals; that is, no harmony.

Matthew 10:34-37

Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I came to turn

a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and a man’s enemies will be
the members of his household.

The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Matthew 19:29
And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life.

Micah 7:1-7

How sad for me!
For I am like one who—
when the summer fruit has been gathered
after the gleaning of the grape harvest—
finds no grape cluster to eat,
no early fig, which I crave.
Godly people have vanished from the land;
there is no one upright among the people.
All of them wait in ambush to shed blood;
they hunt each other with a net.
Both hands are good at accomplishing evil:
the official and the judge demand a bribe;
when the powerful man communicates his evil desire,
they plot it together.
The best of them is like a brier;
the most upright is worse than a hedge of thorns.
The day of your watchmen,
the day of your punishment, is coming;
at this time their panic is here.
Do not rely on a friend;
don’t trust in a close companion.
Seal your mouth
from the woman who lies in your arms.
Surely a son considers his father a fool,
a daughter opposes her mother,
and a daughter-in-law is against her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are the men of his own household.
But I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.

Galatians 4:16
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

There is no security, safety, prosperity, or happiness (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous).

Psalm 71:1-2
Lord, I seek refuge in You; let me never be disgraced. In Your justice, rescue and deliver me; listen closely to me and save me.
The only place of security–now and in the future during the tribulation–will be in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 37:1-11

Do not be agitated by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.
For they wither quickly like grass
and wilt like tender green plants.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday.

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him;
do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way,
by the man who carries out evil plans.

Refrain from anger and give up your rage;
do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.
For evildoers will be destroyed,
but those who put their hope in the Lord
will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked person will be no more;
though you look for him, he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
and will enjoy abundant prosperity.

He gives you the desires of your heart (v. 4).
Commit and trust in Him. He will bring it to pass. (v. 5)
Rest in the Lord (v. 7)
Cease from anger (v. 8)
Inherit the earth (v. 9)
Abundance of peace (v. 11)


The Significance of Jesus’ Resurrection

Today’s message summary of April 5, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is something that is not discussed often, but it is important to look at its significance to each of us.

We need to look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ as being everything about our salvation. It is the most important thing to a believer in Jesus Christ. It is everything in how a believer has a relationship with Him. Without His death, burial and resurrection, the entire scope of Christianity is meaningless.

People have asked these questions over and over:

“Is Jesus Christ truly the Son of God?”

“Is Jesus Christ alive today?”

As a believer, at some point, these questions should be definitively answered.

People who practice Christianity on a nominal basis are always on the fence when it comes to who Christ is and what it matters to them. There needs to be a true commitment in faith and trust of Jesus Christ to change this approach. Until people really understand the power of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection, they are not really compelled to live in the way God had intended them to live.

Matthew 27:38-43

Then two criminals were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now–If He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am God’s Son.'”

 

Mark 16:9-13

Early on the first day of the week, after He had risen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, as they were mourning and weeping. Yet, when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. Then after this, He appeared in a different form to two of them walking on their way into the country. And they went and reported it to the rest, who did not believe them either.

 

Even those who were closest to Jesus doubted His Word in spite of His powerful testimonies of healing and restoration. They did not know what they had gained in the relationship. They had only considered what they had lost.

Jesus Christ is really living right now. What you need to be convinced or persuaded of, if you are still unsure of, is His presence today.

Luke 24:5

So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men.

 

God wants to touch you, heal you and provide you with the steps to live your life. He is a living God.

Luke 24:6-8

“He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered His words.

 

How does God value His resurrection? He values it because it must be part of your confession when you become a believer in Jesus Christ. In order to acknowledge Jesus as your living Lord and Savior, the acknowledgment of the resurrection of Jesus must be a part of your confession.

Romans 10:9-11

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. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame.

 

If you believe that God is alive, it will have a profound effect as to how you live your life and, consequently, live for Him.

What we speak out loud is what we really believe. Your heart will reflect your belief, and your mouth will confess it before God and before others. When you know that you have a living God who is going before you, you will want to talk about it!

You can say that “He kept me.”

You and I should be confident that you are secure in your relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He made you righteous in order to be righteous before God, and you are compelled to tell others about it!

Mark 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 

Jesus was truly a human being. He was man and yet He was also God. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about His life, death, burial and resurrection, and also that He is coming again–for He is not dead but indeed alive! The only way that you can believe He is coming again is to believe that He was brought forth from the tomb and that He is alive.

Romans 1:3-4

…concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness.

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures,

that He was buried,

that He was raised on the third day

according to the Scriptures,

and that He appeared to Cephas,

then to the Twelve.

Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;

most of them are still alive,

but some have fallen asleep.

Then He appeared to James,

then to all the apostles.

Last of all, as to one abnormally born,

He also appeared to me.

 

It is the power of God that raised up Jesus. It is the power of God that gives you the ability to resist evil and to seek and do what is good. That is the distinction between those who are nominal believers and those who are seeking Him and acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior.

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.  We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is Gods giftnot from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

 

God does not want people just to partially believe in Him–He wants people who are totally committed to Him.

1 Corinthians 15:13-15

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ–whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised.

 

We surrender to Jesus Christ because we know that He can be trusted and that He is faithful–and that He is alive.

If Jesus Christ is not raised from the dead, then why are you at church? The church’s sole purpose is to proclaim Jesus Christ and to help people to see and acknowledge who He is. It is up to the individual to believe who Christ is. His resurrection is the evidence that we will have eternal life. His life is much more than just for our present way of living.  His life means that you can have an eternity with Him.

1 Corinthians 15:19-21

If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.


Set Apart for a Purpose

Today’s message text of January 11, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

When it comes to coffee, I consider myself to be a connoisseur. I’ve been drinking coffee for over thirty years now. When it comes to being a connoisseur, thirty years of coffee drinking is a firm qualification. I started with cups of Maxwell House brewed in heated glass coffee pots that would turn coffee into a dark sludge over time. I drank my coffee back then with heaps of CoffeeMate non-dairy creamer and sugar. At that time, my idea of a good cup of coffee was a hot, fresh cup. Over time, I have learned that my standards for coffee were only related to my limited knowledge. I had tried other brands of coffee sold in department stores, but they now pale in comparison to my first cup of Starbucks coffee about ten years ago. From that point on, I knew that I had not yet had my most delicious, enjoyable cup of coffee until right then and there. Some people think the Starbucks brand is very, very, very strong coffee…and they’re right. Some don’t like the taste of Starbucks, and they’re entitled to their own opinion. Just about everyone who knows me, however, knows that I love a delicious cup of Starbucks. It’s a special quality of coffee that, thus far, is better than any other coffee I have ever tasted. Today, as a coffee connoisseur, I can say without hesitation that Starbucks coffee and its many different flavor variations, is a coffee that is set apart from all other coffees I have ever tasted, and they’re a lot of people who would heartily agree!

To be set apart from all others means to have distinct characteristics within such a differentiation. Those characteristics are either earned on their own merit, or they are assigned by someone based upon qualifying criteria. In either case, the distinction has a meaning and a purpose.

To be set apart is much more than proclaiming something as different or even better than the norm. According to God, to be set apart means much more than being different or being better. His criterion for being set apart comes down to how He values those who follow Him and trust in Him:

1.) A relationship with Jesus Christ is something special.

Galatians 6:14-15

14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.

 

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.

With the knowledge that Jesus Christ desires a relationship with you because He loves you, one can only conclude that it is a special relationship. It’s far more than ordinary.

 

2.) Christ makes it clear that you are different from those who do not believe in Him.

There is a distinction between believers in Christ and unbelievers in Christ. It is clear and unmistakable, and it has everything to do with who Christ is. Christ is righteous, and in our relationship with Him, we are also righteous.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell among them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be My people.

17 Therefore, come out from among them

and be separate, says the Lord;

do not touch any unclean thing,

and I will welcome you.

18 I will be a Father to you,

and you will be sons and daughters to Me,

says the Lord Almighty.

 

3.) Allowing the relationship with Christ to transform you to His likeness.

To be set apart involves changing from your old self to not only become a new creature, but a creature that becomes more and more Christ-like every day.

Romans 12:1-2

1 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. 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.

 

Galatians 2:19-20

19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

4.) Being conscious of God’s call and living with awareness of His presence and His return.

Jesus Christ has declared His distinctive presence and, through His promises, declares that we all have something to look forward to–His return. With that, we have much to live for as we continue to minister to others according to His Great Commission.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1 About the times and the seasons: Brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. 6 So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

 

While God calls each believer to live as if Christ’s return is imminent, He calls us to perform tasks here on earth for His glory.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

 

The people listed here in Ephesians are hardly the only people that Jesus Christ has appointed, or selected, to be involved in training. They are only a part of the picture. Elders are an important part of the church in that they are the spiritual heads of the church congregation. Even with this spiritual authority, elders are to always remember that Christ is the head of the church, and while they are set apart for service by Jesus Christ, they still remain under Christ’s authority.

To be set apart as one called by God comes with credentials that only God can provide for an elder:

Titus 1:5-9

5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: 6 one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of wildness or rebellion. 7 For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

 

1 Timothy 3:1-7

1 This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

 

Notice that while all believers in Jesus Christ have the rights and privileges of membership in God’s family, not every believer can be an elder. These verses describe the pre-qualifications of an elder, and the ultimate qualification is God’s calling of that individual to lead and serve. If God’s calling is not part of the picture, the person cannot truly be set apart for service by God. Anything done would be according to his own strength, which would be outside of God’s will for Him and for the church. There are no exceptions to this.

To be set apart is a huge responsibility. Elders have a responsibility because of their spiritual role in the church. They are called to lead and lead-by-example, to be peacemakers, to pray for the church and its members, to teach sound doctrine and to make decisions for the health and welfare of the church.

To be set apart is to live for Jesus Christ with a purpose.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Thanksgiving to God

A message summary of November 23, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The Lord tells us that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. (see Matthew 18:4; Romans 8:16)

When will you come to a place to sincerely say “thank you” for what you have, you will begin to see how God is working in your life.

To say “thank you” is a polite expression of gratitude for someone’s words or actions.

God’s will for your life is to give thanks in all circumstances.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in everything,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Romans 14:5-7

5 One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.

 

God is your ultimate provider in life. He is able to keep you.

What is it to dismiss the importance of a thankful heart?

  1. A haughty person. A person who has a great pride in himself.
  2. People who expect others to do things for them.
  3. Look to God to always be available without giving Him thanks or recognition.
  4. Lose the ability to show gratefulness to God for helping you throughout the day.
  5. Failure to appreciate God in your life.

 

Psalm 107:1-43

Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His faithful love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim

that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe

3 and has gathered them from the lands—

from the east and the west,

from the north and the south.

4 Some wandered in the desolate wilderness,

finding no way to a city where they could live.

5 They were hungry and thirsty;

their spirits failed within them.

6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He rescued them from their distress.

7 He led them by the right path

to go to a city where they could live.

8 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

9 For He has satisfied the thirsty

and filled the hungry with good things.

10 Others sat in darkness and gloom—

prisoners in cruel chains—

11 because they rebelled against God’s commands

and despised the counsel of the Most High.

12 He broke their spirits with hard labor;

they stumbled, and there was no one to help.

13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He saved them from their distress.

14 He brought them out of darkness and gloom

and broke their chains apart.

15 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

16 For He has broken down the bronze gates

and cut through the iron bars.

17 Fools suffered affliction

because of their rebellious ways and their sins.

18 They loathed all food

and came near the gates of death.

19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He saved them from their distress.

20 He sent His word and healed them;

He rescued them from the Pit.

21 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving

and announce His works with shouts of joy.

23 Others went to sea in ships,

conducting trade on the vast waters.

24 They saw the Lord’s works,

His wonderful works in the deep.

25 He spoke and raised a tempest

that stirred up the waves of the sea.

26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,

their courage melting away in anguish,

27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men,

and all their skill was useless.

28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,

and He brought them out of their distress.

29 He stilled the storm to a murmur,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.

Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for.

31 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

32 Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people

and praise Him in the council of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into desert,

springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 and fruitful land into salty wasteland,

because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into a pool of water,

dry land into springs of water.

36 He causes the hungry to settle there,

and they establish a city where they can live.

37 They sow fields and plant vineyards

that yield a fruitful harvest.

38 He blesses them, and they multiply greatly;

He does not let their livestock decrease.

39 When they are diminished and are humbled

by cruel oppression and sorrow,

40 He pours contempt on nobles

and makes them wander in a trackless wasteland.

41 But He lifts the needy out of their suffering

and makes their families multiply like flocks.

42 The upright see it and rejoice,

and all injustice shuts its mouth.

43 Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things

and consider the Lord’s acts of faithful love.

 

(from Psalm 107:1) Give thanks to the Lord…WHY?

He is good (to me).

His love endures forever (for me).

Romans 8:35

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

Can affliction or anguish or persecution

or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

Who is it that God is looking for to give thanks?

(from Psalm 107:2) The redeemed of the Lord should say thanks for what God has done (and that’s not everyone). Let them declare, “my God is good!”

The redeemed refers to the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property).

redeemed – ga’al (gaw-al’)

This is how God sees His people who acknowledge Him as Lord. He is the avenger and deliverer that purchases, ransoms and redeems us.

He acts as our next of kin.

See the importance of saying thanks to the Lord:

(from Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31, 43) Whoever is wise, let him take heed in appreciation and consider Him. (Think it over and think it through.)

The upright see and rejoice (verse 42). The mouths of the wicked will remain closed. (They don’t know who to thank or express their own pridefulness.)

What does the one who is upright see that the wicked person does not see?

(from verses 4, 7) The redeemed can see the path as they move along. The ones who are not redeemed will wander from place to place without God’s presence.

(from verses 10, 13, 14) Some will see depression and will remain stuck in it (because of rebellion against Him), while those who are redeemed will seek God and he will deliver from affliction and captivity. He is the One who breaks the chains!

His goodness and love endures forever! It endures for you! That is something to be thankful for!

(from verses 17, 18, 20) Our own sin hinders and hampers us. There’s no one to blame but yourself. Thankfully, God will redeem anyone who declares Him to be worthy and whoever repents and turns to sin. He will deliver you into freedom and “He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” (1 John 1:9)

Do you see God working in your life? Do you see God doing something in your life? If you do, it needs to be recognized with gratitude.

“…Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20-21)