Tag Archives: quality

Your Declaration

Today’s message summary of January 1, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God is the One who delivers us from year to year. He is worthy of our praise throughout the year, and we want to continue to do so through to the end of this year.

God wants you to receive something from Him, but He also wants you to give something, as well.

He can, and will, give you knowledge and wisdom. In return, He desires for you to live more like Jesus.

Statements, or declarations, give you a specific purpose.  As an example, The Declaration of Independence declared that “all men are created equal,” and the United States Constitution was born out of this declaration.

Scripture also has a number of declarations that are intended to challenge the reader.  It is important for the reader to take note of them in order to truly live in such a way that is to be more like Jesus Christ.

Look at this declaration that David makes, and then look at what follows his statement.

Psalm 18:1-3

I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

 

David reflects the love of God and notes the value of the relationship with God that reflect His different qualities and character.

Proverbs 12:18

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

 

Proverbs 18:21

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

It is important for you to believe that your words have a value to yourself and before others.

If you use the words, “I love you, Lord,” do you mean them?

Loving the Lord reveals God’s other attributes:

  1. My Strength
  2. My Rock (building on a solid foundation)
  3. My Fortress
  4. My Deliverer
  5. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge.
  6. My Shield
  7. My Salvation
  8. My Stronghold (KJV uses the word “Tower”)

When you lose sight of the Lord, you lose His value–His real significance in your life and all that He is to you and all that He can do for you.

Your declaration reminds you of all that Jesus is to you–His real meaning to you in your life.

There is a value in coming to church every Sunday in that it is a reminder as to who we are to serve every day.  We are not to forget who we serve and who we live for.  W. H. Brewster said, “Some things you can’t say, but you can sing.”

We also need to recognize that we make choices that we must reckon with.  We can cry and moan over them, or we can get up and go back to living!  Sometimes the situations that we are in occur well after we make the decision to put aside the Lord and not follow Him.

Psalm 137:1-6

By the rivers of Babylon–there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!

 

Don’t allow your personal feelings to determine how or when you should praise the Lord. Even in the worst moments, God wants you to have the desire to sing the praises of God.  People need to hear your voice to hear His message of hope, joy, peace and encouragement.

We, as believers, are strangers and pilgrims in this land.  We are aliens in this world.  That should not stop you from singing, preaching or telling others about Jesus.

As God has given you life for this new year, then he has a purpose for you through this year.  We are called to serve Him.

1 Peter 2:11-12

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

 

No one can steal your joy of the Lord.  No circumstances can remove your joy of the Lord if you choose to rejoice in Him.

The Lord will honor your faithfulness to your declaration. He keeps His promises to us.

Psalm 132:10-14

Because of Your servant David, do not reject Your anointed one. The Lord swore an oath to David, a promise He will not abandon: “I will set one of your descendants on your throne. If your sons keep My covenant and My decrees that I will teach them, their sons will also sit on your throne forever. For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home: “This is My resting place forever; I will make My home here because I have desired it.”

 

Revelation 21:10-11

He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.

 

Remember your relationship with your Lord and Savior and give Him honor and praise in the New Year.

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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


Spiritual Maturity

Today’s message summary from Melvin Gaines:

It is sensible for you to examine and evaluate your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Scripture indicates that there is a natural progression if you are growing in your relationship.

Hebrews 5:12-13

12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant.

1 Corinthians 3:2

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready.

Here are questions that you should honestly ask yourself…

  • Can you honestly say to yourself that you are making progress in your relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • If others were to observe your behavior, or even comment on it, would they see a progression in your relationship with Christ?

If you have not reflected on either of these questions, then how do you know where you are?  Believers will indeed experience a number of hindrances in getting anything meaningful out of bible studies, or being an effective part of a fellowship if you are having a prolonged personal struggle with who you are in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

As our church is moving forward, our ministry is taking shape in different areas, and as change occurs, you must prepare yourself for what your defining role is as a member of the body of Christ.  In determining your defining role, it is not enough to ask yourself if you are merely a participant.  Some believers may go their entire lives trying to determine what their role is, and even what their spiritual gifts are.  If you do not know what your role is and what your gifts are, then how can you possibly know who you are in your relationship with a church, with other members in the body of Christ, and as to how much you have progressed as a believer?

It is time to start asking ourselves the questions that maybe we have avoided until now.  Fear of the unknown will sometimes keep us in a paralysis of not looking at where we are and how we can improve ourselves.  Perhaps we are fearful of what others will say about us…who knows?  I do know that Satan would prefer that each of us never reaches our full potential as believers.  I also know that Satan is the greatest liar of all time (John 8:44).  Is it easier for us to believe Satan’s lies, or to trust in the Lord?

If we are to accurately assess where we are in our fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, we need to be able to measure our progress in the quality of our Christian life.  It is not a difficult process to measure where we are, as there are basic tenets that we must use in determining where we are in this area.  You may add some points within these basic doctrines, but I have examined three particular areas that should be at the forefront of any measurement of our assessment.

  1.   Your level of obedience to God through His Word
  2.   Growing with the knowledge of God through His Word
  3.   Peaking with understanding of God and His Word

Notice that all of these points refer very specifically to God’s Word in your life.  How do we know about God, and how did we learn about God in the first place?  We had to have some sort of exposure to God’s Word.  How did we come to know Jesus Christ as personal savior?  We learned about the Good News through exposure and reflection upon God’s Word.  How do we learn more about what God’s Word has to say to us?  By reading and studying God’s Word on a regular basis.  This is how God communicates with us…through His Word.  We reciprocate to God by communicating with Him in prayer.

2 Chronicles 7:14

…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

How does this correlate with the quality of your Christian life, or as some would say, the abundant life?  The answer may seem overly simple to you, but think about this regarding point number 1…all that God wants from us is our obedience to His Word.  The only way that we can love God is to be obedient to His Word.

Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10

but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

Psalm 1:1-2

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.

Psalm 25:10

All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth
to those who keep His covenant and decrees.

Psalm 112:1

Hallelujah!
Happy is the man who fears the Lord,
taking great delight in His commands.

If you are regularly practicing obedience to God’s Word, it stands to reason that God will respond to you with blessings as a result of your obedience.   The bottom line is that your obedience to His Word assures you that you are in fellowship with Him.  Your prayers are likely to be heard by him and answered by Him.  The residual effect of this obedience and the resulting ongoing fellowship with God is that God’s love for you, which has already been declared in his creation of you and His love for you in Jesus Christ in His plan of salvation for you will become more and more visible in your daily walk in faith.  You will, as a result of His love, love Him in return and have a greater desire to want to be obedient to Him.  It is a love relationship that can grow, as long as we do not inhibit it with sin or other forms of disobedience, beyond any sort of words or description that we can possibly come up with.

God’s desire for us is to be obedient to His Word.  That is where the process of beginning to measure your spiritual maturity.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines.


Measuring Progress in the Quality of Your Christian Life

The following is a summary and commentary of a sermon that I presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church in 2005. It features a review of the blind man who was healed by Jesus Christ as narrated in the book of John, Chapter 9.

As our church is embarking upon a revival this coming week, is participating in an extended book study in Sunday school on The Purpose-Driven® Life, and has adopted the “Growing a Healthy Church” motto, it only makes sense that each of us who attends our church on a regular basis who is concerned with the scope and direction of our church will have a natural concern with where he or she is in their own relationship with Jesus Christ.

It also makes sense for the person to look at their own relationship with Christ as a natural way to measure your progress in your faith in Christ, and in your relationships and daily interactions as a believer in Jesus Christ. Have you recently reflected as to where you are right now in your relationship with Christ? Scripture strongly implies that it is a natural progression if you are growing in your relationship with Christ according to Hebrews 5:12-14:

Hebrews 5:12-14
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Here are questions that you should honestly ask yourself…

Can you honestly say to yourself that you are making progress in your relationship with Jesus Christ?

If others were to observe your behavior, or even comment on it, would they see a progression in your relationship with Christ?

If you have not reflected on either of these questions, then how do you know where you are? As a member of the body of Christ and Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, there is a natural hindrance to getting anything meaningful out of bible studies, or being an effective part of a fellowship if you are having a prolonged personal struggle with who you are in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

As our church is moving forward, our ministry is taking shape in different areas, and as change occurs, you must prepare yourself for what your defining role is as a member of the body of Christ. In determining your defining role, it is not enough to ask yourself if you are merely a participant. Some believers may go their entire lives trying to determine what their role is, and even what their spiritual gifts are. If you do not know what your role is and what your gifts are, then how can you possibly know who you are in your relationship with a church, with other members in the body of Christ, and as to how much you have progressed as a believer?

It is time to start asking ourselves the questions that maybe we have avoided until now. Fear of the unknown will sometimes keep us in a paralysis of not looking at where we are and how we can improve ourselves. Perhaps we are fearful of what others will say about us…who knows? I do know that Satan would prefer that each of us never reach our full potential as believers. I also know that Satan is the greatest liar of all time (John 8:44). Is it easier for us to believe Satan’s lies, or to trust in the Lord?

If we are to accurately assess where we are in our fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, we need to be able to measure our progress in the quality of our Christian life. It is not a difficult process to measure where we are, as there are basic tenets that we must use in determining where we are in this area. You may add some points within these basic doctrines, but I have examined three particular areas that should be at the forefront of any measurement of our assessment.

1. Your level of obedience to God through His Word
2. Growing with the knowledge of God through His Word
3. Peaking with understanding of God and His Word

Notice that all of these points refer very specifically to God’s Word in your life. How do we know about God, and how did we learn about God in the first place? We had to have some sort of exposure to God’s Word. How did we come to know Jesus Christ as personal savior? We learned about the Good News through exposure and reflection upon God’s Word. How do we learn more about what God’s Word has to say to us? By reading and studying God’s Word on a regular basis. This is how God communicates with us…through His Word. We reciprocate to God by communicating with Him in prayer.

2 Chronicles 7:14
…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

How does this correlate with the quality of your Christian life, or as some would say, the abundant life? The answer may seem overly simple to you, but think about this regarding point number 1…all that God wants from us is our obedience to His Word. The only way that we can love God is to be obedient to His Word (Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10, Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 25:10, Psalm 112:1).

If you are regularly practicing obedience to God’s Word, it stands to reason that God will respond to you with blessings as a result of your obedience. The bottom line is that your obedience to His Word assures you that you are in fellowship with Him. Your prayers are likely to be heard by him and answered by Him. The residual effect of this obedience and the resulting ongoing fellowship with God is that God’s love for you, which has already been declared in his creation of you and His love for you in Jesus Christ in His plan of salvation for you will become more and more visible in your daily walk in faith. You will, as a result of His love, love Him in return and have a greater desire to want to be obedient to Him. It is a love relationship that can grow, as long as we do not inhibit it with sin or other forms of disobedience, beyond any sort of words or description that we can possibly come up with.

God’s desire for us is to be obedient to His Word. That is where the process of beginning to measure progress in the quality of your Christian life begins. Let’s examine the process take place in Scripture by looking at the man who was born blind. The points mentioned before are demonstrated in Scripture in John 9:1-41.

John 9:1-5
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Please note that God uses situations involving His people specifically for His glory and fulfillment of his purpose; a matter of His sovereignty.

John 9:6-7
After He said these things He spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing.

Here is a demonstration of an act of obedience…a simple act and yet here is how God began the process of using the situation for His glory. It starts with our obedience to His Word, and our growth in fellowship with Him cannot help but grow accordingly.

John 9:8-12
His neighbors and those who formerly had seen him as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the man who sat begging?” Some said, “He’s the one.” “No,” others were saying, “but he looks like him.” He kept saying, “I’m the one!” Therefore they asked him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So when I went and washed I received my sight.” “Where is He?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he said.

Note from this text – here are the man’s neighbors asking questions about what really happened, and it appears that some of them were ready to report the matter to the Pharisees because of Jesus’ performing the healing on a Sabbath.

John 9:13-16
They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. The day that Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes was a Sabbath. So again the Pharisees asked him how he received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” he told them. “I washed and I can see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He doesn’t keep the Sabbath!” But others were saying, “How can a sinful man perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.

This leads to our second point – Growing with knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-11 — contrast with Hosea 4:6, Romans 1:28-32).

Note the number of questions about Jesus’ legitimacy after the man described again what had happened. Where is the confusion and division coming from here? Satan wants to distract us from being obedient to God and getting us off track when others around us start shouting loud and long about the legitimacy of Jesus Christ. A word to the wise – do not listen to those voices and stay focused, just as the man does in this text. Only by staying focused can you continue on in the next step, growing with knowledge.

John 9:24-34
So a second time they summoned the man who had been blind and told him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner!” He answered, “Whether or not He’s a sinner, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!” Then they asked him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” “I already told you,” he said, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t want to become His disciples too, do you?” They ridiculed him: “You’re that man’s disciple, but we’re Moses’ disciples. We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man—we don’t know where He’s from!” “This is an amazing thing,” the man told them. “You don’t know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He listens to him. Throughout history no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He wouldn’t be able to do anything.” “You were born entirely in sin,” they replied, “and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

The man was now speaking based upon his own experience and the knowledge and logic that he has about who Jesus is, and how he stood his ground in the face of the Pharisees, even though his parents were fearful (refer to verses 17-23). God will give us the ability to stand our ground if we remain confident in Him and in the knowledge that he gives to us when we speak the truth about Him. How confident are you in speaking up about Christ when you have the opportunity?

Acts 28:31
…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.

With knowledge comes power.

John 9:35-38
When Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, He found him and asked, “Do you believe in the • Son of Man?” “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” he asked. Jesus answered, “You have seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.” “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped Him.

Notice how Jesus finds the man and reaffirms him by asking him if he believes in Him. This is much the same as how Jesus proclaims that he will never leave us nor forsake us.

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The man now worships Jesus once he realizes who he is speaking to and who he is. He now has greater understanding after being obedient and growing in knowledge through the experience.

Now comes point number 3 – Progress is made through greater understanding of who He is. As you read God’s Word, you become stronger in your faith, and you begin to see God’s glory in all things. The greater understanding now leads to growth and progress in your spiritual walk. It is a natural progression of your faith if you will only act with obedience and gain knowledge. With this progression in faith comes a peace and feeling of joy that is indescribable.

Psalm 29:11
The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This gradual progression in measuring progress can be hindered if points 1 through 3 are not followed. You cannot effectively get to the 3rd point if you are struggling with the 2nd point, and so forth. Ask yourself about this three step process and determine if the quality of your Christian life can be improved.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.


Searching For Truth

Do you recall the last time that you were searching around for your car keys?  Was it just the other day that you were hunting around for your cell phone because you could not find where you had last put it down?  Maybe it was your wallet, where you keep your driver’s license.  Don’t leave home without it!  For those times you misplaced your glasses, you really struggled finding them because your eyesight is the reason you had to get glasses in the first place!

All of us have lost something that we need to find as soon as possible in order to be able to continue with our day, or even just feel better because what you thought was lost was not really lost at all.  The process of searching for something can be a very casual search, or a frantic search where you are flipping seat cushions and bed covers, or something in between.

While none of us looks forward to searching for a lost item, we should relish looking for those things that reveal truth in the midst of a very confusing world.  The search for truth can be relatively straightforward, for example, it occurs to you while you are looking for your keys that you left them in your coat pocket, and while your keys are not yet located, you know where to go to find them.  Some searches for truth for some of us are not as simple.  There are still others where the search for truth is hampered by constraints of the world.  Their search is one of futility because they do not know where to go or which way to turn next.  The search process is now fraught with disappointment and despair.  The search for truth can be as simple as the search when you absolutely know where to look, or it can be utterly mystifying and confusing.

A search requires effort on your part.  Searching for truth requires effort, as well.  Jesus certainly knew that there would be many people today seeking the truth about Him or the truth about salvation and what it means to trust in Him as your personal Savior.  With all of this, He provides us with some guidelines as we search for truth in this world.  Let’s “search” the Scriptures in seeking his advice.

Matthew 7:7-8

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The search for truth has some basic components that are within the search process.  The first of these is relatively straightforward…to ask for information.  We must be prepared to ask questions in order to receive answers that will guide us into truth.  In the process of asking questions, we should always challenge ourselves to make sure that we are in the proper learning environment.  All of us would agree that we would want the best possible environment for our children when it comes to education.  We would not want to settle for anything less than a quality education for them.  If that is the case, then why would you settle for a church that is short on teaching ability and that does not provide that same quality for you?  You make the distinction and determination that you are in the best learning environment in church by asking questions.  Once you hear the answers, now you can note them and test their veracity as you are challenged to do according to God’s Word:

Acts 17:10-12

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.

Asking questions during bible studies or Sunday school classes will most certainly confirm, with the proper scriptural fact checking, whether or not you are in the proper environment for seeking God’s truth in His Word.  The Spirit guides us into truth if we are paying attention to Him.  Jesus promises that when we ask, we will receive the answers that we need through the Spirit.

John 16:13

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears.  He will also declare to you what is to come.”

Jesus also advises us to seek what we are looking for, and there will come a point where what we are looking for will be found.  Notice that Jesus does not immediately proclaim that you are to seek Him directly, but what you will find is that the more you actually search through the Scriptures, the likelihood is that you will come to the same conclusion:

John 5:39

You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.

This verse points to the fact that while you may be studying scripture and asking questions, it is important to note that you could be looking directly at Jesus Christ and missing the important message that He is trying to communicate.  Matthew Henry’s commentary of this verse is that even though the Jews were scholars and believed that they had everything they needed because they had God’s Word in their hands, they still neglected God’s true message and had lost their love for God.  Many may believe they are very religious, and yet they sadly do not love or even know Jesus in a relational way.

It is important to not only seek, but to keep seeking—to continue to look for the truth.  It may take several attempts before you make the discovery, but the key to all of this is persistence.  Persistence requires a desire to get to a place in your search where you are completely satisfied with the results.  In order to get to that point, you must keep seeking…keep looking for answers.  The answers come from Scripture, and as we seek the truth, we should have the desire to seek it even more.

Psalm 1:1-3

How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers! 2 Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The search for truth requires asking for information, seeking answers to your questions, and another act of persistence, knocking.  The act of knocking, specifically in Matthew 7 on a door, is to create a sound that brings attention to the one who is creating the noise.  To knock on the door is to alert someone on the other side that you wish to obtain entry to a place that you cannot readily access without the door being opened for you.  Logically, if you could open the door and enter the room, there is no need to knock.

Why the reference of knocking and the door will be opened?  This is also an example of persistence and also endurance.  The door being knocked on is considered to be an obstacle.  The obstacle can be perceived as a small thing, or it can be a very great trial.  Of the commentaries that you may review in looking at this verse, there are references to the combination of prayer to God, persistence, and endurance with the act of knocking on the door.  You continue to knock on the door until it is opened.  Let’s look at the parallel verse, which gives a more detailed example of this:

Luke 11:5-9

5 He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ 7 Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

The opening of the door allows you to enter into a place of rest and security in the Lord.  An open door after persistent knocking brings on a sense of relief and satisfaction.  If you notice closely in the verse that the Lord promises that He will open the door…not that he might open it or could open it…He will open the door.  This is a promise that He gives to each of us who remain persistent in seeking Him, endure hardships to fellowship with Him, and look for ways to understand Him in the best way possible.

Notice that this is exactly what Jesus Christ wants you to do in your efforts to seek Him.  To keep asking questions, to keep seeking understanding, to continue to pray in earnest through your hardships until the time He responds to you.  Seeking the truth means that you are doing much more than just learning about Jesus Christ—you are learning that the actions of asking, seeking, and knocking mean that you are seeking a living Christ…the Messiah…the God who knows all about you while you are continually learning more about Him, learning how to love Him as He already loved you.

Romans 5:8

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:9-10

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (sacrifice) for our sins.

Seeking truth is all about seeking Jesus.  We are to never cease from seeking Him, for the more we learn about Jesus Christ, the more wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that we will receive from Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.


Copyright © Melvin Gaines.