Tag Archives: relationship

David’s Prayer for Peace (No. 11 of the Series “Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?”)

Today’s message summary of October 15, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Psalm 4:1-8

For the choir director: with stringed instruments. A Davidic psalm. Answer me when I call, God, who vindicates me. You freed me from affliction; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.  How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted? How long will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie? Selah. Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah. Offer sacrifices in righteousness and trust in the Lord. Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Look on us with favor, Lord. You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

During our days, we often face emotional distress, and it can cause us to lose out on a good night of rest.  Even I have had nights like this.  Perhaps you have had these, as well.  They may be relational or financial, and they may even be spiritual.  There is no true rest unless there is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

David, in his prayers, is showing us a pattern to model where he was praying in the morning, throughout the day, and into the evening.

Be aware that Psalm 4 was relevant to David and his people, and it is relevant today.  Psalm 4 shows that in our prayers, only God can provide to us long-lasting peace.

Verse 1 of Psalm 4 represents when David speaking to God.  Verses 2-6 has him speaking to men and admonishing them, and the last two verses speak again to God in prayers for peace.  He prayed with intensity, and his prayers were clear in petitioning God for answers.  He prayed in such a way that he made sure that God heard him.  He prayed with a burdened heart, and he experienced peace that would allow him to rest.

David understood that he was not delivered from his circumstances under his own merit or righteousness. He understood that he was being delivered because of God’s righteousness alone.  Your own good deeds are worthless without the grace of God and your own obedience and faithfulness to Him.

David experiences relief when He is assured of God’s presence.  God provides the relief.

In Psalm 3, there is a reference to David’s prayer to God for protection from his son, Absalom. He did not fear those who opposed him, but he, nonetheless, appealed to God for help in overcoming them.  His admonishing of the people in Psalm 4 was directed to the people in a similar way.  God is still the source of his protection and his mercy.

2 Samuel 16:5-14

When King David got to Bahurim, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was just coming out. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he was yelling curses as he approached. He threw stones at David and at all the royal servants, the people and the warriors on Davids right and left. Shimei said as he cursed: Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, you wicked man! The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of the house of Saul in whose place you became king, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. Look, you are in trouble because youre a man of bloodshed!

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and remove his head!

The king replied, Sons of Zeruiah, do we agree on anything? He curses me this way because the Lord told him, Curse David! Therefore, who can say, Why did you do that?’” Then David said to Abishai and all his servants, Look, my own son, my own flesh and blood, intends to take my lifehow much more now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone and let him curse me; the Lord has told him to. Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimeis curses today. So David and his men proceeded along the road as Shimei was going along the ridge of the hill opposite him. As Shimei went, he cursed David, threw stones at him, and kicked up dust. Finally, the king and all the people with him arrived exhausted, so they rested there.

David knew that he faced enemies and there was a public display of this contention.  He knows that the opposition he experienced from Shimei was allowed by God in spite of his being anointed as the country’s future king.  It was a reminder to David to seek the Lord for guidance in the midst of his affliction, and it is also a reminder to us to remain prayerful of those who may be going through a struggle, and to not pursue any condemnation.

Our posture towards those who speak falsehoods against us (Psalm 4:2), as it was for David, is to remain focused on Him as the righteous Judge and is the true mediator who separates those who trust in Him with those who have nothing to do with Him.

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Do you recognize that God knows you, as a distinct child of God, and that he hears your prayers?  He does not want you to wallow in your own sin from unchecked anger (Psalm 4:4).  He does give those who are opposed to you to repent from evil and do what is right and proper.

Absalom, David’s son, tried to appear to others as righteous when, in fact, he was using deceit to plot against David (2 Samuel 15:1-12).  Even today, such behavior will not be viewed as honorable by God, and anything good accomplished in this way is nothing more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Psalm 51:16-17

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;

you are not pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.

You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

David’s prayer in the final verses in Psalm 4 was a prayer for peace in spite of his enemies.  This attitude is crucial within our Christian walk.  There should be a joy in the heart of the believer that goes beyond the blessing one receives (Psalm 4:7).  There is joy in your fellowship with the Lord.  Nothing in this world will give you peace if has nothing to do with Jesus Christ (and certainly not worldly successes).

If you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not have at this time, or in the future (the afterlife), any peace.

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust in the Lord forever, because in Yah, the Lord, is an everlasting rock!

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Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

Today’s message summary of June 25, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are in a church, you should be able to see if God is doing something.  Do you hear from Him?  Do you attend church with the desire to seek Him and understand Him?

You should be able to see God, hear Him, and receive from Him something of value.  When you leave church, you should feel fulfillment and blessings.

God has a plan for each one of us.  Your church experience should not be one where you are just moving along with others.

Church and salvation, and church and the saints.  They represent the same thing.  To be a saint in the church because you have been saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Saints are called to serve in the body of Christ.  It’s more than just “walking with Jesus.”  Being called means that you have a purpose to do something in the body of Christ.  You are to be a participant in the body, and not just a spectator.

The church is the meeting place for those who desire to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not just for those who are saved.  It is for those who are looking for Christ and who are willing to, eventually, make a decision to follow Him in a relationship with Christ.  It began with someone speaking to the person and sharing about Christ.

The church is a group of people who have been drawn together by God to do the will of Jesus on earth, the work of Jesus Christ on earth, and to be His witnesses on earth.

John 6:44-45

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets. And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent me.

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

You will be a witness for Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

You can be a witness for God in your flesh, and it can become a matter of pridefulness.  Your true witness for Him will be when the Spirit is in control.  If you are going to function well within the church and be a witness for Jesus Christ, you will need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Every approach within the church should be to constantly evaluate whether or not the endeavors of the church are glorifying Jesus Christ.

The greatest organization on earth is the Church.  A lot of people do not know this, because sometimes the church doesn’t get it right; however, it is the place where God takes the least of us, and raises them up to do great things in His name.

You may have heard these remarks:

“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

“I don’t want to go to church.”

“The church isn’t doing anything for my spiritual life.”

The counter to these thoughts is that your Christian life is meant to provide works that are worth more than wood, hay or stubble.  To avoid church is to avoid functioning within the body of Christ. To not fellowship with other believers is more of a fleshly love than that of an agape love that Jesus desires for you to have.  Jesus wants you to have the heart of a servant and the desire to serve others, especially in this world where people feel that they are entitled to receive things.

When you come to church, everything won’t always be “nice.” Sometimes, you will need to be exposed to “iron sharpening iron.”  God’s Word is meant to convict and compel you to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”

The church may indeed be a philosophy, an institution, a culture and an enterprise, but it does not mean that people see it as a place where they desire to seek and follow Jesus Christ.  That was what the original intent of the church, and that is what God desires for His people to see in today’s church.

A church has to function in today’s society in much the same way as a business.  The church is dealing with spiritual matters, but it also takes on a business venture, where its members are willing to undertake new and risky projects and have active participation in projects.

We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  The church in action is a church that does good works in His name.

You can be a witness of the many things that only God can do if you are a participant in the church.


Live for Jesus Christ with PASSION!

Today’s message of April 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

There are plenty of messages that reach out to those who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ.  I sense that there is a great need, however, to encourage believers to get better and stronger in their own faith.  It is too often that believers in Jesus Christ have poor growth and development, or even irregular or inconsistent growth spurts that may build up in one area but remain inadequate in others.  If we can show and help people, including non-believers, to see that being a believer in Jesus Christ is attractive and an admirable attribute, then we can leave it up to the Holy Spirit to prick the hearts, minds and souls of those who are on the fence to get off and declare Christ as Lord in their lives.

This past weekend, we explored how believers can take the necessary steps to live for Jesus Christ with PASSION.  It involved self-examination and self-evaluation, and it gives recognition that you are a special creation in God’s eyes—He knew of you and all about you before you were even conceived—and that you have your own uniqueness with God-given talents, gifts and abilities.  When you recognize your true purpose in Jesus Christ, you are on your way to serving Him and glorifying Him with your greatest potential being realized!  He wants you to be successful in your efforts to move people to see the grace and glory of Christ in everything you do!  This PASSION is the realization that you are truly living according to His purpose, and you are unstoppable!  Satan can try to slow you down, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, He sustains you, protects you, and gives you the ability to overcome adversity and shine before others.

So what is this PASSION?  It is the realization of a fulfilling life in Christ.  It is the ongoing effort to be the best that you can be in Christ.  He wants you to grow and learn through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.  All of this, however, begins with you:

Your desire to live for Christ.

Your desire to learn more about Christ and your relationship with Him.

Your desire to get involved in this thing called the Great Commission, and even if it means doing things outside of the box or challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Passion describes the height of emotion, and it reflects a powerful emotional connection to Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit facilitates this connection with encouragement, reinforcement and guidance.  A passion-filled believer serves Jesus Christ with the confidence of one who knows who he or she is in Christ, and is readily available.  When Isaiah received the call and prompting from the Lord, his response was “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  A passion-filled believer accepts the call and goes forth to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Do you have the passion for Jesus Christ that He really desires for you to have?  If you are confident in your abilities and are aware of the talents and gifts that God has given you, then you are certainly on your way.  If you lack the drive and energy that it takes to truly shine before others as you live your ministry, consider that you can find this passion if you truly seek the Lord and consider the following requisites of being a passion-filled believer.

The P in PASSION represents principled.

Principled believers adhere to a lifestyle that honors God and keeps His commands.

They rely upon the wisdom and words of God for daily living.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

The A in PASSION represents the abundant life.

The ultimate goal of every person, believer or not, is to live an abundant life.  A life of abundance has nothing to do with money.  It has everything to do with living in Christ’s power and energy as you serve him each and every day, and the joy that you experience knowing that you are living life to the fullest for Him!

John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

What is the abundant life?  It depends on how you look at it.  The non-believer, or even some believers, may associate abundance with wealth or riches.  That is not God’s definition of abundance.  He wants you to have a life that overflows with God’s presence in every aspect of your existence.  He wants you to experience the completeness of life according to His will and purpose for you.  The effect of an abundant life will be the blessings of life that God will show you because of your faithfulness to Him.

When you get right down to it, the only thing that keep us from living the abundant life is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ over the enemy.  The enemy is Satan, who is described in John 10:10 as the one who seeks to kill and destroy, but God’s power and ability overcomes anything and everything that Satan can do.  The key to living the abundant life is to resist Satan and to seek and remain in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

James 4:7 NIV

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You are worth so much more in your relationship with Jesus Christ!  In order to experience the abundant life, you will have to throw caution to the wind and life a life of faithfulness in trusting the words of Jesus Christ.  He wants so much more for you!  A passion-filled believer lives with purpose, and experiences the abundant life in Christ!

The first S in PASSION represents Spirit-filled.

The true abundant life can only be achieved by the believer in Jesus Christ.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that enables you to achieve this abundance and live a passion-filled existence!

Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is instantaneous upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, but the Spirit does not turn the believer into a mind-numbed robot.  You have to allow the Spirit to be in control in order to offset your own fleshly nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Being Spirit-filled means successful living in reverence and service for Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit teaches believers how to live a Christlike existence, and His lessons are invaluable as He sanctifies with His presence.

Being Spirit-filled gives you the ability to live a life a passion for Jesus Christ:

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The second S in PASSION stands for sanctified.

The Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is a sanctifying presence.  Sanctification is the combination of the believer’s growth in the likeness of Christ. It is the accumulation and application of God’s wisdom and knowledge from none other than Jesus Christ, who A. B. Simpson refers to as “The Sanctifier.”  Jesus Christ proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the One who will teach and remind believers of the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:26 ESV

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit works within you from the moment of your conversion in recognition that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.  It is best described as an ongoing cleansing process as you put off the old and grow in your new life in Jesus Christ.

Sanctification is what God desires for your life.  You cannot live a life of passion in Christ without sanctification, because it is the essence of an obedient lifestyle.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Sanctification does not mean a life of perfection, but it does mean that you desire to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  It means that the believer desires a greater faith walk and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and both of these requires a humble, teachable role within the presence of the Spirit.

The I in PASSION represents being an influencer.

Sharing your faith, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, is influential.  The words spoken are given with conviction and in righteousness to those who hear them.  A passion-filled believer is speaking in accord with the will of God, who desires for every person to enter into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

There is a difference between an influencer and a coercer.  An influencer shows the love of Christ in their speech to others.  One who coerces is not really allowing the Spirit to work in the life of the hearer.  The words spoken are to reflect the love and concern of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

An influencer provides words of wisdom and knowledge about not just the gospel, but everything that is beneficial.

Proverbs 9:9 ESV

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The O in PASSION represents being obedient to God and His Word.

Being obedient to God means loving Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), and it includes an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:15 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

1 John 5:3 ESV  

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Loving God and obedience to Him are synonymous.  You cannot do one without the other.  A passion-filled believer strives to live in faithfulness and trust in the Word each day.

And finally, the N in PASSION represents being a new creation in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ’s sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit transforms you as a new creation each day.  Your actions of reading, studying, meditating on His Word and living out a faithful life in Jesus Christ is a constant life transition that will also show the growth and development as a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 HCSB

From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

This ongoing “newness” in Jesus Christ is an ongoing development.  Our challenge is to remain close to Him, and in our closeness, obedience and service to Him, He will continue to renew us as we strive for holiness.  He continues to provide us with the ability to resist sin and those things that block our ongoing transformation to a place of freedom and righteousness in His name.  We are being made new every day in Jesus Christ!  A passion-filled believer puts nothing above the importance of fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Principled.

Abundant Life.

Spirit-filled.

Sanctified.

Influencer.

Obedient to God and His Word.

New Creation.

Each of these requisites will lead to a believer truly living a passion-filled, abundant life in service for Jesus Christ.  If you are ready to take your relationship with Jesus Christ to the next level, He only wants you to take steps of faith towards Him, and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit will continue to work in you and sanctify you in your efforts to serve Him.  He will affirm you with blessings and enable you to endure any opposition.  You will become a positive influence before others as a light in a dark world, and an encourager to those who need it most.  As the Holy Spirit fills and sanctifies you, it is only a matter of time before you can live a passion-filled life in Jesus Christ!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Halo Effect

Today’s message of January 22, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

The previous U.S. Presidential election also provided many lessons about another type of information gathering much like a survey…polling.  For several weeks during the campaign, Donald Trump was losing big to Hillary Clinton (anywhere from 10 to 25 percentage points), but the end result of the election proved that the narrow margins in many key battleground states was much closer than the polling, and the reason for this is that many people voted in this election that (1) never voted in a presidential election in a long time, if ever, and (2) they would never, if asked to take a poll, participate in one to show any preference.  As a result, many previously trusted pollsters lost public trust, after the election, due to accusations that their results were far from accurate. Today’s methodology of poll sampling (telephone polling) is becoming more and more obsolete.

Here’s more polling data to consider.  Gallup put out a poll in 2014 that covered religious service (church) attendance by state.  In general, with a very solid sampling nationwide of over 177,000 adults and a confidence level of 95%, the statistics reported that of those surveyed, on average about 34% of those surveyed attended church at least once a week, and about 21% attended services ever other week or at least once a month. [1] On the surface, this isn’t great but it sounds like it’s OK, until you take into account a phenomenon within polling referred to as “the halo effect.” The halo effect is the difference or discrepancy between what you tell a pollster (which often involves leaving a positive impression of yourself) versus what you actually do.  What was found in a gathering of statistical data by two different groups covering church attendance and trends was that actual number of attendees each week is closer to 17.7 percent of the population. [2] Even Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport had to acknowledge that poll numbers can be skewed by “the halo effect.”  Newport said that many people will say they regularly attend church when they really don’t attend every week; in fact, many people will stay home from church due to illness or readily sleep in. Of those who claim to go to church on a regular basis, some may show up less than 12 times a year, and pastors will often acknowledge that their inactive church membership is anywhere from 40 to 60 percent.

We live in a different day and time, and there are few places in the United States where churches are growing. They’re shrinking, and some are rapidly declining in attendance.

So what’s going on here?  It would be very easy to point the finger at the church itself for the decline in church attendance (some criticism is warranted); however, we also have to acknowledge that churches come in different sizes, shapes and colors. There is no such thing as a perfect fit for a church. If one doesn’t work, there should be an inclination to try another one that can be a better fit.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance is not all about the church, or the pastor or leadership, or even other members.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance lies solely with the person.

No one will deny that going to church every Sunday requires a regular routine, but wait a minute…maybe that’s not quite right.  If you love the Lord and recognize how much He has done for you, going to church is more than just a routine or even a duty…it would be your priority and even something to look forward to every Sunday!

When we look at what the purpose of a church is, we begin to understand where church attendance should be more of a priority.

Matthew 18:20 ESV

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

Acts 2:41-42 HCSB

So those who accepted his (Peter’s) message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.

Here in this verse is the takeaway that I hope you can see where some individuals will determine that church is either more or less important.  Peter, in speaking to the crowd, told them to repent and ask Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin (verse 38), and that they would be born again. The people who believed his message trusted him and accepted his message.  You will not devote yourself, or make yourself available for teaching or fellowship with others unless you begin to trust the message.  It is faith in the message that leads to acceptance.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Acts 16:31 declares that you are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 HCSB

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.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Trust is the first step that leads to faith.  Faith means you accept and believe the message of Jesus Christ, and, as a result, you begin to see the value and benefits of church fellowship.  This is where you can associate the well-known expression, “Take a step of faith.”

The sad part of this is that people don’t readily trust what they are told. People have grown to be skeptical of others.  This skepticism, however, falls back on the listener.

How many people will sit in church for a period of days, weeks, months and years, and hear all kinds of information, and yet make the conscious decision to not believe? It is a lack of trust in the Word, and is ultimately just like not being in church at all.  A lack of trust is crippling, and for some, it can lead to spiritual death.  Church is not just fellowship with other people, or friends or other believers, it is also about fellowship with God.

1 John 1:5-10 HCSB

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If you don’t get anything else out of this, please, please don’t lie to yourself about your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:1-3 HCSB

LORD, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;

You understand my thoughts from far away.

You observe my travels and my rest;

You are aware of all my ways.

The halo effect may also be an issue when it comes to a person’s honesty when it comes to matters of faith. Very few people who you see in a church will share that they don’t have this faith thing all together.  It’s very personal. It’s a private matter.  While it is personal, and it is a private matter, but only God knows where you are with your faith, and He is the ultimate litmus test.

Jeremiah 17:10 HCSB

I, Yahweh, examine the mind,

I test the heart

to give to each according to his way,

according to what his actions deserve.

If you think you’ve got it all together in your relationship with Jesus Christ, you probably don’t.

Proverbs 16:1-2 HCSB

The reflections of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord evaluates the motives.

We are reminded that we have nothing in salvation without the grace of God. Salvation is an undeserved gift from God through the mediator, Jesus Christ.  This alone is a reason to be grateful to God and give Him due praise and worship.

Ephesians 2:4-10 HCSB

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 God’s gift—not 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.

We worship God publicly through our daily actions and activity, but we learn about worship within a church fellowship.  A bible-teaching church gives instruction and teaches you how to develop your own study habits to learn more about Christ.

We live in a different day and time, but that doesn’t mean that church is less important today. If anything, it is much more important because it is a place where you can develop your faith and build upon a healthy and intimate relationship in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

When it comes to your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, do you rely upon the halo effect, or will you humble yourself before God, trust in Him and allow yourself to be teachable and live in the richness of His presence?

True faith in Jesus Christ begins by just believing in Him.  All He desires for you is to “come and you will see” (John 1:39).

 

 

1 http://www.gallup.com/poll/181601/frequent-church-attendance-highest-utah-lowest-vermont.aspx

2 http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Building the Marriage Relationship

Today’s message summary of October 2, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Marriage is the foundation of all relationships.  It started with Adam and Eve.

Marriage relationships can change over time.  They can be tough sometimes, and it requires perseverance…and God’s direction.

Every relationship has the possibility of failure with disappointment; however, a relationship with Jesus Christ will assure that He is faithful within the relationship.  He gives the human relationship the ability to remain intact and realize success.

In building your marriage relationship, God (the Godhead) desires that you use His method.  He wants you to follow His will; otherwise, there will be issues and problems within the relationship.

There are others outside the relationship:  friends of you and your spouse, your family and co-workers, who provide support and encouragement through their own relationship with Jesus Christ.  It matters who you allow to be in your life when it comes to your marriage relationship.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries. In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful. It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.

 

Philippians 2:5

Make you own attitude that of Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 1:27-28

Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance–and this is from God.

 

Colossians 3:18-25

Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism.

 

Relationships are a test of your real character.  You learn to love your spouse to the degree that you allow that person to also hurt you.  In all of this, marriage is a place of growth where you are to trust God.

You learn how to give to others (self-giving and deny self).

Your learning is to achieve the ability to live in a Christlike manner.

A happy relationship involves a much greater challenge than finding a person with whom you live happily ever after because of some strange chemistry that draws and holds two people together.

Are you up for those challenges?  Just when you thought you knew someone–surprise!  You are still discovering more about your spouse.

Marriage is a relationship where two people are making many choices, both good and bad, adjustments in life, as free individuals who make a deliberate choice to work through problems and continually sacrifice personal freedom and self interest for its benefit.

1 Corinthians 6:12

“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.

 

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.

 

Married couples must not let problems rule their life.  It must be a constructive relationship (a relationship that builds one another up).

Matthew 22:37-40

He (Jesus) said to Him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

 

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The marriage relationship is a declaration and demonstration of love for God.  Biblical guidance is to be at the forefront of the relationship.

There will be changes of circumstances and various events within the marriage relationship.  There may be a fluctuation of feelings experienced.  Things can become overwhelming and there may be feelings of helplessness that will challenge the relationship; however, keeping God as the focus will help the marriage move forward and overcome any issues.

Will you allow the bible to be your guide?

Marriage brings about the challenge of understanding the spouse before God.  It can be the most difficult and yet the most rewarding relationship that a person will ever experience.  You can also face challenges in relationships with other people, as well.  They can sometimes be stressful, but you can overcome all of these issues.

All relationships demand understanding.

No one person can satisfy all of another person’s needs.

All relationships exist with the possibilities of failures and disappointments.  Before entering a relationship, it is important to do the following:

  1. Learn the background of the person
  2. Find out what their primary needs are
  3. Determine what the person’s goals are
  4. Discover if the person is highly driven
  5. Watch the emotional response to various life events

Knowing these things may help you to understand more about that person before you make a commitment to a relationship.


Who You Are in a Marriage (Marriage Series)

Today’s message summary of September 25, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

For some people who jump into marriage, they assume that it will create happiness.  There is nothing in Scripture that supports that view.  There is a lot that is to be experienced within the relationship, and it is to be focused with the presence of Jesus Christ.

If a person fails to recognize or act with purpose and function within the marriage relationship, there is a loss of identity within your own relationship with God.

Male and female, husband and wife, father and mother…

What is my purpose and function within the marriage relationship?

We are to learn how to function in our respective roles.  For example, the husband is to be the security for the family.

Both the man and the woman are seeking to know their identity–their function in the relationship; however, your true value comes from God Himself.

God provides the direction as to how one functions within the marriage relationship and enables the person to fulfill it.  God provides the groundwork for the relationship in His Word.

Here are questions that may come up throughout the course of a marriage:

Are we equal or do we have the same value?

Do men and women have the same rights, privileges and abilities?

Answer:  We are equal in personhood but not in function.

Do men and women have the same strength and power?  No, but each has special strength within their function.

Adam recognized that there was a difference when he saw Eve.

Genesis 3:16

He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.

Genesis 3:17

And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.

Your identity was established from the beginning:

Genesis 1:27-28

So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Both man and woman have the same authority given by God.  They have the same responsibility.  After God created everything else, He placed the man in the garden of Eden “to work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15).

God was specific as to how Adam was created (Genesis 2:7) and what his work would be (Genesis 2:15, 19-20).

God created Eve differently (Genesis 2:22) and allowed Adam to name His creation (Genesis 2:23). The woman’s function is to be a helper in caring for the creation where there was none before (Genesis 2:20).

Within marriage, it is important for the individual to grow and develop in Christ as we grow in life.  It is the growth and the patience of the two that will nurture the relationship.

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

God allowed Adam to do his job without help for a while.  God and Adam were forming and building a relationship before the woman is created, and He learned that God ruled over him.

After Eve was created, there was a greater establishment of authority and responsibility.  Authority and governing is a responsibility (Genesis 3:12, 16-17). Contrast this with those who become fearful and want to run away from responsibility.  There has to be a mutual relationship.  To be desirous of other things reflects a selfishness that is contrary to what is necessary within a marriage.

Titus 2:1-7

But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.

Colossians 3:19

Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and His ministering angels are for marriage (Hebrews 1:14).

Satan and the host of fallen angels (Ephesians 6:12) and his tools—the love of the world, the lust of the eyes, etc. (1 John 2:15)—are against marriage and seek to destroy it.

Adam and Eve struggled with these desires when they sinned and diverted them from what their responsibilities to each other within the relationship.


Living in The Spirit: Wash, Rinse and Repeat

This message is about putting your best foot forward. The expression “best foot forward” may go back about 500 years, and it even implies having more than two feet, but the phrase has stuck around to mean that a person should “embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto.” [1] It also means to make sure to appear to be at your very best and to try to make a very good impression. The result of this effort is for someone, or even a group of people, to have a very good opinion of you. [2] In this day and age, how important is that?

In order to be recognized, you have to stand out amongst a group of people. You have to be memorable—in a good way. The opposite of this is to be easy dismissed and forgotten. For example, I have performed a few job interviews over the years. Some interviews were fantastic, while others were boring. Others were sad and pitiful. Some were outright hilarious and, at the same time, ridiculous. Here’s a hint: only the fantastic ones resulted in hires.  Some people, on interviews, seem to go out of their way to botch it up.

When you are interviewing for a job, you always want to leave a good impression—even if you think you have no shot at getting the position.

It should be second nature for the believer in Jesus Christ to leave a good impression wherever he or she may go. While the person interviewing for a job makes a conscious effort to look good before the interviewer, a believer should be living in this way as if it were natural or of a second nature. It should be done with an unconscious effort. Why is that? It is because all of the real effort comes from living in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Galatians 5:25 NLT

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Of course, living by the Spirit is often easier said than done. The very act of living by the Spirit is only possible with a faith relationship in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-13 HCSB

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Note that all He requires of a person is to “call on His name.” You don’t have to do anything special. You do not need to get ready to get ready to get ready. He just wants you to call on Him. You simply need to believe that He is the One who died on the cross for you. It is an act of faith. You don’t have to figure everything out first. Just believe in Him. Once you believe in Him, the Holy Spirit will dwell within you and help you to begin to figure everything else out about this living in the Spirit stuff. Believing in Jesus Christ is just the beginning! Once you commit to Him, He fully commits to you, and He does it for all eternity!

Sadly, there are many who remain indifferent or even obstinate about Jesus Christ…even to the point where it is easier to blot Him out of our discussions or our schools or public events. The end result, and it is a trick of Satan, by the way, is that what you can’t see won’t convict you of your sin and your lifestyle. What many people don’t realize is that they are already condemned because of sin. You can’t hide God in a closet. Your condemnation remains in place. You cannot fellowship with God in your sin. There is nothing that can cleanse you from your sin except to believe in Jesus Christ and, as a result, live by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

So what about this cleansing by Jesus Christ? There is a reason why John in the first verse of his gospel refers to Jesus Christ as the living Word. The very act of hearing His Word and responding to it is a cleansing.

So, in order to live by the Spirit, it requires three very important things that will lead to success in this endeavor:

1.) Wash (act of obedience)

2.) Rinse (using clean water; the Living Water that refreshes and cleanses)

3.) Repeat (practice over and over to get better)

First: the washing. Once you declare Christ as Lord of your life, there is an acknowledgment that “old things have passed away (your old life)” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that you’re committing to a new life in Jesus Christ. You will now learn that obedience is a key element to this new life.

Turn to 2 Kings 5. In this episode of Scripture, we will be reading about Naaman and his encounter with the Lord.

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

Note that in order for God to work in your life, you have to acknowledge that He is Lord by obedience to His Word and His voice through the Spirit…even if it doesn’t make sense to you.

He will wash, and you will be cleansed. This washing speaks to us of the power of God’s Word and His presence in your life. This should lead the believer to continually seek His Word for guidance.

The washing of water has cleansing power.

Psalm 119:9-10 KJV

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Next: the rinsing. Rinsing is about the purification of the believer.

There is an eternal promise that God makes to the nation of Israel, but it also has application to the believer who has sinned that repents and goes to Christ for reconciliation:

Ezekiel 36:24-25 KJV

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Hebrews 10:22 KJV

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Living in the Spirit gives the believer a sprinkling, which sanctifies the believer over time as the relationship with Jesus Christ grows and develops. A believer, over time, learns how to sin less and to live more for Christ each and every day. Sanctification sets the believer apart for service, and a willingness to serve Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit generates such activity in the believer that there is growth and progression day after day, month after month, and year after year. All who see the believer can see the difference—be recognizable—be able to stand out amongst a group of people. As the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is distinctive, a believer is to be distinctive.

1 Corinthians 6:11b NIV

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Finally, after the wash and the rinse by Jesus Christ through the Spirit, there is “repeat.” To repeat means that it needs to be practiced over and over again, as Christ cleanses you on a daily basis. Reading God’s Word and remaining obedient to Him requires a consistent effort and a daily practice as He sanctifies the believer.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

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

Living in the Spirit requires a daily acknowledgment of the need for His presence, and it especially includes an honest, daily appraisal and acknowledgment of sin:

1 John 1:9 HCSB

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

This daily progression helps the believer appreciate the profound love of Jesus Christ, and it is reciprocated over and over again. His love is everlasting.

Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His love for us should translate into how we show love for others. That is what makes the person who lives in the Spirit distinctive in a lost and dying world:

John 13:35 ESV

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Galatians 6:1-4 HCSB

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.

In other words, look to yourself in humility before Jesus Christ, and you will see others, and the world, much differently—just as Christ would have you to see it.

Living in the Spirit allows the believer to receive the full benefits of a relationship in Jesus Christ:

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Trust in Jesus Christ today, and He will remove your burden of sin and make you clean in an instant. He created you for the purpose of reaching others with the gospel of salvation, and He will give you what you need to be successful as He remakes you each and every day.

 

1 The meaning and origin of the expression: Put your best foot forward. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/put-your-best-foot-forward.html

2 Put best foot forward. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. (2002). Retrieved July 15 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+best+foot+forward

Copyright © Melvin Gaines