Tag Archives: repentance

Communion

Today’s message summary of January 7, 2018 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Communion is something that many churches do every first Sunday.  Some will do it every service.  There is no set time to do it according to Scripture, but whenever it is done, it is to be done in remembrance of Jesus Christ.

When we come to the table, are we doing it out of ritual or tradition?  Is it being done just for participation?  Is it being done out of habit or because people might think that I am in sin or to keep others from being suspicious of me?

1 Corinthians 10:18-21

Consider the people of Israel. Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  What am I saying then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?  No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons! You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share in the Lords table and the table of demons.

You have to decide what table you are to feast at.

There comes a point where you have to make a commitment and say to yourself, “I totally commit to the Lord Jesus Christ.”  “I belong to Him, and therefore I cannot do what the world wants me to do.”

You and I have to make that choice.

1 Corinthians 11:17

A man should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God. So too, woman is the glory of man.

People observe your actions.  If you are living in an unrighteous manner, and if you do not take Communion seriously, then it does the body of Christ damage.  There must be a people of one heart and one mind in Christ.  God sees your heart of faithfulness and obedience, and when He sees this effort, He will make provision for you.  God will always provide for His work.

The people who have the mind of Christ have no reason for division within the body.  God will take care of the details if everyone has the mind to put Him first.

God says there is nothing impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26).  Only by the grace of God are we yet standing.

1 Corinthians 11:18-22

For to begin with, I hear that when you come together as a church there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you. When you come together, then, it is not to eat the Lords Supper. For at the meal, each one eats his own supper. So one person is hungry while another gets drunk! Dont you have homes in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I do not praise you in this matter!

There has to be a distinction of those that are faithful and that are following Jesus Christ.  Let that be you.

Communion represents a sense of order within the church.  It is not a ritual, but it is also not to mock who Christ represents.  We are all saved because of the work that Jesus Christ has done for us.  God wants us to really understand, within the process, that I am sinful, but also see how holy He can make me.

All of this is done not because of deserving anything, but because of love for His people.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, and said, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.

 

Matthew 26:17-25

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?

Go into the city to a certain man, he said, and tell him, The Teacher says: My time is near; I am celebrating the Passover at your place with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, he was reclining at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.

Deeply distressed, each one began to say to him, Surely not I, Lord?

He replied, The one who dipped his hand with me in the bowlhe will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for him if he had not been born. 

 Judas, his betrayer, replied, Surely not I, Rabbi?

You have said it, he told him.

 

Note that we should never come to the table without settling matters of sin in our heart (coming as a betrayer), but rather come with the understanding as to how you are blessed and to remember God’s goodness.

As you travel through the Old Testament, there were many instances where people built altars as a way of remembering God’s goodness.  Communion is a reminder of what Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary, and for His sacrifice for us.  It is a reminder of His love for us.

Communion is also a reminder that I do not have to carry the burden of sin.  Confession of sin is necessary.  We are to examine ourselves to make sure that we are sincere in our faith.

2 Corinthians 13:5-9

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?unless you fail the test. And I hope you will recognize that we ourselves do not fail the test. But we pray to God that you do nothing wrongnot that we may appear to pass the test, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear to fail. For we cant do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. We also pray that you become fully mature.

Everything that God has said has either come to pass or will come to pass.  God speaks truth; therefore, Communion is something to be taken very seriously.

1 Corinthians 11:26-32

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. If we were properly judging ourselves, we would not be judged, but when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

 

As you come to the table, please take the time between you and the Lord and reflect upon His goodness.  If you need to say, “Lord, forgive me,” then do it.  If you need to ask the Lord for cleansing, then do it.  God wants to meet you where you are in your time of prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “It” Factor

A message text for Sunday, July 31, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

I have been actively involved in ministry now for over twenty-five years.  This is just a personal observation, but in that time, I have seen the actions and behaviors of many who profess to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.  I witnessed people who serve with dedication and with the desire to truly see people come to Christ.

You have to get your hands a little dirty to see the first fruits of the power of the Holy Spirit working according to God’s will, which is for every person to come to the 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.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

God desires for everyone He created to be saved.  Not everyone will experience His salvation, but that does not change His will.  You are to live an abundant life for Jesus Christ to help people see the love of Christ, and have the desire to recognize the need for salvation in Christ.

I’ve seen many hardworking people that have found a way to tap into their talents and skills to serve Jesus Christ.  They are on the front lines with their words and actions declaring the gospel message.  They are concerned about the people who do not know Jesus Christ.  They are making themselves available to seek the lost.

Yet, there are many, many more people that I have observed who profess belief in Jesus Christ but are absent from many church activities, such as neighborhood outreach, visitations, or even the customary church gatherings (except for those when free food is being served!).  They may have even seen those that are working in the trenches for Christ, but they are not compelled to get involved.  It has nothing to do with how busy a person’s life is, for even the busiest people still have the desire to jump in somewhere—wherever they are—and work for the Kingdom from time to time.

While it would be wrong to question the motivation of these people, or even give consideration to the authenticity of their faith, it is my conclusion that these people, who can readily watch others working for the gospel, just don’t get it.

They just don’t get it.  They just don’t get “It.”

What is the “It” that they don’t get?

For this discussion, “It” refers to a believer’s progression within their relationship with Jesus Christ—a progression where service is not seen as a duty or as an act of drudgery.  It is when a believer equates service with the love for other people as a reflection of Jesus Christ.  This progression is something that not every believer will attain, or even realize is possible.  It requires a devotion to Jesus Christ that must continue throughout the life of a believer.

When you become a believer, it is done with the immediate acknowledgment of the need for Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior.  It is done with humility, repentance and with the sincere desire for a new life trajectory.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Your new life in Christ now begins, and in the same way a child grows into adolescence, your relationship with Jesus Christ consists of a series of growth spurts.  It is now an ongoing training and life experience progression where you develop a heart of flesh—a sincere concern—for the fate of the lost.  Only Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, can orchestrate such a change.

Why do we need more believers who really “get it”?  It is because of the millions of people throughout the world that are lost.  There are many who are lost because they do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, and the tragedy of this is that many don’t even know that they are lost.  They are in spiritual darkness because of sinful behavior and willful disobedience.  Ravi Zacharias noted in his podcast, The Lostness of Men, “the worst effect of sin is the enslaved spirit” (Zacharias, 2008).  Sinful behavior gives the sinner the illusion that he is free to do whatever he pleases; in fact, he is merely a slave of sin.  When it comes to the heart of the unbeliever, it is a heart of stone that prefers conforming to the world instead of seeking Jesus Christ.  Because of this, Zacharias noted that “man is condemned eternally without Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10) as “sin is not just an act—it is an attitude” (Zacharias, 2008). The failure of the lost to acknowledge Christ as Savior results in dire consequences.  There is eternal condemnation and separation without Christ (Zacharias, 2008).

People who are lost need to see the love of Christ as often as possible.  More believers need to see the importance of this.  All of the world’s confusion and unrest today reflects the importance of believers possessing the “It” Factor as being more important than ever before.

The “It” Factor is what needs to be present in the life of a believer in order to effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is the One who enables this progression to participate in Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

A. B. Simpson refers to this progression as sanctification (Simpson, 1890). Sanctification is the growth of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ that promotes behavioral and relational change in the life of a believer. Jesus is the source of our sanctification (Simpson, 1890). It begins with the desire of a believer to separate from sin.  Simpson noted “the sanctified Christian is separated from sin, from an evil world, even from his own self, and from anything that would be a separating cause between him and Christ in the new life” (Simpson, p. 14, 1890).

Along with separation from sin, there must be a dedication to God and a conformity to the likeness and will of God (Simpson, 1890), which are the critical growth spurts that every believer is to experience as one yields to the Holy Spirit.  Simpson noted, “A sanctified Christian is submissive and obedient. He desires the Divine will above everything else in life as kinder and wiser for him than anything else can be. He is conscious that he misses something if he misses it. He knows it will promote his highest good far more than his own will, crying instinctively, ‘Thy will be done'” (Simpson, p. 14-15, 1890).

It is this progression within sanctification that reflects God’s love to everyone that the believer comes into contact with, especially those who are lost.  It is God’s love, and His desire to fellowship with believers, that turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh—a greater propensity for humility and obedience in a consistent practice of godliness before others:

Ezekiel 36:25-28 HCSB

I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.  Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.

In order for people without Christ to be compelled to leave their lost state of being, they need to see the love of God as often as possible.  This is the “It” factor.

It is not a given that a believer grasps this sanctification—the “It” Factor.  Simpson noted, “Many people make a mistake about some of these steps. Some of them are clinging to a little of their old goodness and therefore meet with failures. Others stumble at the second step.  They do not see that Jesus is their complete Sanctifier.  And many cannot take the third step and make a complete surrender of everything to Him.  Multitudes fail even when they have taken these steps in not being able to believe that Jesus receives them” (Simpson, p. 17, 1890).  The flesh, reminders of the past life, or confusion from life’s distractions, can keep a person from making progress.  Satan and his followers desire to wreck the relationship of a believer in Jesus Christ, and only reliance upon God’s strength through the Holy Spirit can overcome them:

Ephesians 6:10-13 HCSB

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

The believer who is still trying to “get it” must see the urgency and importance in the progressive development in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In order to develop that heart of flesh, he must be willing to—and strive to—learn more about Jesus Christ.  He must do the following:

  1. Investigate the Bible. Read the bible daily, and not just read it, but dig deeply into its meaning.    Knowing Jesus means knowing His Word as much as possible.  A believer should not only make a plan to read, but also use study references and commentaries to provoke and compel thought to create a greater understanding of who Jesus Christ is.  A habit of daily Scripture reading is a process of growing to appreciate God’s way of communicating, instructing and teaching a believer.
  1. Meditate on His Word. For a fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ, a believer must communicate with God through active prayer and meditation (Psalm 1:1-3).  The practice of meditation is a way to close any gaps of communication between the Holy Spirit and the believer, and to promote greater instruction and knowledge of the character of Christ.
  1. Act on His Word through obedience. The Spirit compels the person who is faithful to Jesus Christ to go and reflect the love of Christ to everyone the person interacts with each and every day.  A believer who is closely following Jesus Christ impacts the world around him with the presence of Christ in everyday life!
  1. Grow each day in sanctification. The Holy Spirit enables the believer with the capability to progress over time to learn more about Jesus and resist those things that can hamper his relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:18).
  1. Endure each day through any hardship or difficulty as you glorify God. It is through endurance that one develops the character of Christ (Romans 5:3-5).

James 1:2-4 HCSB

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Perhaps you picked up on the fact that the five points of progression and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ make up the acronym IMAGE.  It is fitting that you live out this IMAGE in Christ, for it is His desire for you, as His creation in His image (Genesis 1:26-27):

  • To live a life for Him that becomes more fulfilling and fruitful as you are sanctified in His presence.
  • He desires for you to experience the fulfillment of the love of Christ and share it with others through your powerful words and your actions!
  • This results in a mutual effort, with you and the power of the Holy Spirit, to show the love of Christ to anyone and everyone that you come into contact with!
  • It is the culmination of your obedience to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

The strong believer in Jesus Christ truly gets “It.” He is willing to live openly for Jesus Christ and is compelled to reach the lost because Jesus wants the very same thing—to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  A believer who is still learning about what it means to live a life of totality for Jesus Christ will soon get “It” as long as he seeks the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart.

There is a great need for people to join Christ in the Great Commission to seek and reach the lost.  There is a lot at stake, and it is for all eternity:

Matthew 9:35-38 HCSB

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.  Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

If you don’t get it, and you don’t get “It,” I pray that you do, and that you do it very soon.  The body of Christ needs your help to reach the lost.

 

References

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Zacharias, R. (2008, June 22). The Lostness of Man [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/let-my-people-think/listen/

Simpson, A. (1890). The Fourfold Gospel. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications.

 

Developing your IMAGE:

 

Investigate God’s Word

Meditate on His Word

Act and apply His Word

Grow in Jesus Christ

Endure the hardships that will certainly come

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Seven Bowls

A message summary from April 24, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 16:1-2

Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment and wrath, He still does want people to repent from their sin and turn to Him.

Jesus is giving direction through the last of the seven bowls.

A loud voice was coming from the temple.  It belonged to Jesus.

Revelation 15:5-8

After this I looked, and the heavenly sanctuary—the tabernacle of testimony—was opened. Out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean, bright linen, with gold sashes wrapped around their chests. One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s glory and from His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

There was such glory and power that was present where no one could enter.  The great voice that comes out in Rev. 16:1 is that of Jesus Christ.  There is no great joy in what He is taking place, because we must remember that even though He is just and right, He still desired for all to be saved.

Isaiah 66:6

A sound of uproar from the city! A voice from the temple–the voice of the Lord, paying back His enemies what they deserve!

Revelation 11:15

The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!”

Revelation 14:8-10a

A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all the nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger.

While there are woes on earth, there is an excitement in heaven.  The excitement is the kingdoms of the earth are becoming part of the kingdom of heaven. God is not joyful in all of what will take place, because He loves even the worst of those who are sinners.

The pouring of the bowls will be a time a great distress.

Matthew 24:21

For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!

Bowl: a vial with a wide mouth.  A bowl has a wide opening at its top.  A bowl pours out its contents all at one time.  This implies that His wrath will happen very quickly.  I think that the reason God does this is because He knows that this will be so terrible that it is to be done as quickly as possible.

The judgment of sin will move and end quickly. God will take swift action, which also still will reflect His grace and mercy.

God does indeed love everyone He has created.  There is not a person who God hates.

The judgment will be over quickly because:

Jeremiah 6:10

Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the Lord has become contemptible to them–they find no pleasure in it.

There comes a time when talking is over.

Ezekiel 18:23, 32

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?

For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!”

Understand that the heart of God will not take pleasure in punishing His children.  Remember that He witnessed His Son dying on the cross for all of mankind.

Ezekiel 33:11

Tell them: As I live” — the declaration of the Lord God — “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.

Even God Himself does not get what He desires.  Some will perish even though He does not want that to happen.

We can’t picture God wrestling over this issue, but you can understand it better if you can see that God does not want any to perish, and that His love for us is measured in how Jesus Christ died for us.

The person born again in Jesus Christ is a completely different individual.  That is His pleasure…to see people get saved, and not be condemned.

He won’t make you do something that you don’t want to do.  His pleasure is to see His children get saved and not to suffer under His condemnation, for He will still act in righteousness. He is true to Himself.

 

 

 


Revelation: The Sixth Seal

Today’s message summary of March 6, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for man to come to a place of surrender and repentance. What does God have to allow in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness and surrender?

In Revelation Chapter 9, the first woe has passed, and there are two more to come.

Revelation 9:12-17

The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this. The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the gold altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was 200 million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses in my vision: The horseman had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

God has appointed this time here, and he appoints times for things to occur in our own lives. He operates with precision.

These angels that were used are likely fallen angels, because they were bound to be released at this time to fulfill God’s purpose. The population of the earth was still growing at this time.

Revelation 9:18-19

A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues–by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads, and they inflict injury with them.

The fire, smoke and sulfur was inflicted through the mouths of the creatures. It may be in the form of gunpowder, insecticides and sulfuric acid. These are demonic spirits that are being released, and their mouths have this power.

We need to be clear that teaching is very important. The Holy Spirit is who enables a person to teach under the blood of Christ. Anything that we would do on our own needs to be suppressed under the power of Christ. God’s Word has healing power in the mind of a person who desires to seek Him.

If you are not being taught under the power of Christ, you absolutely need to believe that there is demonic teaching and influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

Sin creates hardened hearts and stubbornness. It causes people to withdraw from God. Satan tries to stop people from even our own witnessing in our own homes. We are to pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overpower Satanic or demonic influence in the lives of others.

Are you praying that God opens the eyes of those who are not following God? They very well may have received incorrect instruction and need to be guided gently to the truth. Are you taking the steps needed to pray for those who need improvement in their life?

Those that choose not to repent create man-made gods. It breeds idolatry and man-made philosophies.

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Hosea 13:2

Now they continue to sin and make themselves a cast image, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. People say about them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”

After all is said and done, only God Himself can break through the strongholds of sin in a person’s life. God is the One who sets up and takes down. We as servants live for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Psalm 2:8

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.

 


Come as You Are—You Won’t Stay as You Are

A message text from Melvin Gaines for Sunday, August 24, 2014:

One of our local churches uses the slogan, “Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.” More than likely, it’s not a copyrighted tag line for churches, but ideally, it’s the slogan that all churches would use to give people a true picture of what God desires for a person who visits and joins a church–a new life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

A church building is more than just a gathering place. It’s more than just a fellowship hall. It is where a person goes to learn about God, and even more specifically, the fulfillment of recognizing the need to have a Savior in Jesus Christ. In order to get to know Jesus, there must be a change in the person who is seeking Him. The changed life is the evidence of a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is a life changing moment.

A church experience varies between people in the same way that no two people are the same. Different people do and see different things in ways that suit them—in other words, “different strokes for different folks.”

For many people, change of any kind may be very difficult.

And finally, let’s add a definitive statement about people and change…

Change in following Jesus Christ is especially difficult for people because of their fleshly desires.

When we come to church, more often than not, we are arriving in the flesh. We show up after going a few rounds with Satan and his band of robbers, and we can be battle-weary over all of the scuffling that takes place. Some of us may not show up at all; however, it is helpful when we decide it’s best to tough it out and come to church because we need a change of scenery. A church should always be a place of rest to help us get back to where we were before we were under attack. It is always a good idea to get back to the place of rest and peace under Jesus Christ, even if it means you have to drag yourself there with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Some will come to church to not change anything at all but their scenery. They come for all of the wrong reasons or motives, and are only looking for self-edification, self-gratification and attention. They come as they are, and they will stay as they are. How long they stay depends upon the people they fellowship with and any relationship development.

Scripture gives an important reminder that change is a requirement for a person who desires to have a strong fellowship with Jesus Christ…whether as a new believer or as a seasoned believer.

In order to experience a genuine change, a person needs to acknowledge their sin and be honest about it.

1 John 1:5-10

5 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. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 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. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

 

The truth sets each person free (John 8:31-32), and it applies to new and seasoned believers alike.

Next, we need to live a life that avoids sin and cling to Jesus in order that sin repels from us.

James 4:7

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

 

Romans 6:1-4, 12-14, 22-23

1 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. 

22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The danger for a believer in Christ is to fail to allow the Spirit to overcome your fleshly desires. Just going to church, in itself, is not going to guarantee that you will remain in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Your flesh will see to that.

Come as you are, and keep seeking Jesus Christ in order to keep from going back to where you were.

In order for a visitor to a church to feel comfortable, the existing church environment must be “visitor-friendly” in order to be seen as “second-visit-friendly” or “third-time’s-the-charm-friendly” and even be deemed as “I’ll-invite-my-friends-and-family-friendly.” The key element is that a church is seen as “visitor-friendly” first to allow for the “come as you are” phrase to be applicable for any person who gives the church a test drive.

Churches that are not “visitor-friendly” will eventually fade to black. Failing to attract visitors creates the additional dilemma for a church that is hypersensitive to numbers and growth.

The foundational strength behind “come as you are–you won’t stay as you are” is the uncompromising message of God’s Word. The church visitor may or may not be ready to make a change on the first visit, but it is very important for the church to have a consistent theme from every message that provides clear direction of God’s truth, and not from some philosophical perspective that “tickles the ears.”

John 14:5-6

5 “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

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, in His prayer for His disciples, said, “sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

 

2 Timothy 4:2-4

2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

 

Paul penned a letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians) about the issue of people in the church going back to where they were instead of remaining strong in the faith. Paul knew the people of the church of Corinth very well because he was a major planter of the church. What he had seen when he left the church in comparison to what he had heard in reports was very distressing to him. There were reports of fighting, members suing one another, sexual immorality being permitted within the congregation if not outright acted upon by members, and all of it was based upon one very important issue—pridefulness. Pridefulness and arrogance, however, are ungodly and never accomplish anything in the long run for anyone’s good.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride comes before destruction,

and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

 

Galatians 6:3

For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

 

The ongoing discord in the Corinthian church created an environment of a lack of clarity within the church, and as a result, there were people who wound up going back to where they were before they acknowledged Christ.

Just imagine the effect this can have on a new believer in Jesus Christ.

Come as you are, and you’ll see how to remain where you are (that is, in the flesh) in a church that is not closely following Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:15-16

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

 

Here is where the church needs to acknowledge some very important facts about its existence and its responsibilities:

  • A church is made up of human beings who blow it from time to time (Romans 3:23)

Romans 3:10

…as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.

 

  • A church is made up of people who should be less hypocritical and more humble.

 

Matthew 23:1-12

1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

 

  • A church is to demonstrate change in the life of believers as “sinners saved by grace” and as “saints indwelled by the Spirit of God.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

 

John 14:15-17

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

 

What you see here is the unity of the church body at its finest. Change in the life of a visitor and change within the body to remain focused on the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ. There is strength in unity within the body of Christ.

Paul shared the same concerns to a non-unified Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 1:10

Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.

 

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 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. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 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. 17 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.

 

Finally, a person who sincerely seeks Jesus Christ in humility will express a true repentance. Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.

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.

 

1 John 1:9

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

 

Luke 5:31-32

31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

  • True repentance means a changed life in Jesus Christ.
  • True repentance in a person will emulate the fruits of the Holy Spirit in words, deeds and actions.
  • True repentance means that a person comes as they are, but does not stay where they were.

In order to come under the authority of Christ, the church must be of one mind and one spirit–in humility, repentance and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Come as you are, but you won’t stay as you are.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Fruits of The Spirit – Gentleness

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Gentleness, also referred to as meekness, is our study for today.

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

You’ll notice that ministry to others must have all of the fruits of The Spirit in use.  If anything is missing, it makes ministry much more difficult.  God calls you to come along side a person to help bring them to recognize the need for the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  It must be done, however, in kindness–in gentleness.

When people are in pain, it is important to be gentle with others.  Christians should understand this more than anyone.  We need to prepare to minister to others in humility.

Matthew 11:29

All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

 

Jesus wants us to use Him as the example in how to minister to others.  He is gentle and humble and compassionate for the lost.  When you encounter someone who is willing to learn and listen to you, he will have rest in his heart and soul.  While the Word will challenge the heart, they will acknowledge that the instruction is good for him.

 

1 Corinthians 10:32

Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God.

 

2 Corinthians 10:1-5

10 Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. 2 I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are behaving in an unspiritual way. 3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

 

The Holy Spirit provides the power to minister effectively in gentleness.  The Spirit helps one choose their words wisely.

Galatians 6:1

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.

 

When you minister to people, you have two choices–to minister in the power of the flesh or in the power of The Holy Spirit.  The evidence of either one will be the underpinning of the testimony.  There should be something taking place inside of you that will reflect the Spirit working and a closeness to God as you minister to others.

Ephesians 4:15

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.

 

Care should be given to speak to person in gentleness and love and at the appropriate time.  It will often require developing a relationship with a person to the point where one is ready to share his story.  Speak the truth in love, but do so with steps that are well within the pace of the listener.

James 1:19

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

 

We are to be good listeners.  A gentle person takes the time to listen to others and be patient before offering feedback or a response.

1 Corinthians 10:15

I am speaking as to wise people. Judge for yourselves what I say.

 

Your words are best spoken to people who are sensible, reasonable and rational.

It’s important to take the lead in gentleness because of the type of world that we are living in.  Today’s world have a different view of God’s truth.

Philippians 2:14-15

14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.

 

A person can fall over and over again.  Until a person is ready to acknowledge the errors of his ways, he will continue in this way until he sees God’s Word as beneficial to him.  He still needs your love, patience and gentleness during this time until he is ready to learn and follow Christ.

Ephesians 4:1-2

1 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love.

 

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

 

2 Timothy 2:24

The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient.

 

A Lord’s servant must not be cruel.  He is to be kind to everyone.  He has to be able to teach, and teach effectively.

People who oppose the teaching still need gentle instruction and correction.

1 Thessalonians 2:7

Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children.

 

God must change the heart.  God will grant repentance.  You are to pursue gentleness.

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, man of God, run from these things,

and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,

love, endurance, and gentleness.


God’s Grace is Power Over Sin

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

God’s grace is sometimes lost within our sin. We can have victory over sin if we see God’s grace for what it truly is. His grace does not empower us to sin, and we do not sin to obtain more grace.

The natural person cannot live the Christian life without God’s grace. It is impossible to live out God’s will and plan for your life without grace.

Matthew 26:41
Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The natural man’s weakness is being subject to sin and sinful behavior. With the acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Savior, His power and grace through the Holy Spirit allows us to live in a Christlike manner. His grace provides us the equalizer to combat sin in order that sin will have no power over us.

God’s grace is what allows us to say “no” to sin. God helps us to meet any and all of our needs, including the delivery from sin in our lives. He gives us the grace to be faithful to Him and to live in a godly manner before Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13
11 This saying is trustworthy:

For if we have died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He will also deny us;
13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.

God is faithful to Himself even when we are not faithful to Him. It does not lower His holy standards and His righteousness. He demands that we are holy as He is holy.

Titus 2:11-12
11 For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.

God’s grace is to empower you to deny sin and live for Him…it helps us to live with self control through the Holy Spirit.
The flesh alone can only follow Satan and commit sinful behavior. Grace is the great equalizer that gives you the choice and the ability to reject sin in such as way that the flesh cannot do. You do not have to succumb to the ways of the world. God has called you to a higher place, and He expects you to step up to it. He wants you to live godly today, and not wait until tomorrow to do it.

The purpose of grace is to live a victorious Christian life.

1. God is always present and sufficient to meet our needs. It doesn’t mean that we will necessarily be comfortable in our way of living, but He wants us to live in that He will be glorified.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
…7 especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

That thorn was to regulate Paul’s thinking that he was “not all that.” The thorn was not sin, but it was all about giving Paul the realization that he was dependent upon God. He prayed for relief, but he didn’t get it. He was humbled and he realized that God’s “grace was sufficient” for him. Paul realized that he was where he was because of nothing other than God’s grace. Paul was content because of his acceptance of God’s grace.

You must believe that God’s grace is enough for you. If you don’t believe it, then you will wind up looking everywhere for something that only God can satisfy. He is the One who stabilizes you and keeps you in the midst of difficulty.

2. Grace keeps you grounded. It keeps you level-headed and gives you the ability to see Him through your difficult situations and circumstances.

3. The presence of grace does not remove troubles and difficulty. He teaches us to see that we can have victory in spite of the troubles.

4. In our weakness, grace provides us with understanding to overcome our fears. We recognize His power in our life and you can distinguish when God’s hand is on you and when He’s working in your life. This is the distinction between those called by God to be His children and to those who are in the world. God will meet every need.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor for us that gives us favor before others. His lovingkindness helps us to see His grace for what it is and to share our love for others.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2
6 Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.” 2 For He says:

I heard you in an acceptable time,
and I helped you in the day of salvation.
Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.

God doesn’t force His grace on anyone. He does not make you do anything. You have an inheritance, but you must acknowledge it. He gives each of us the path to fellowship and to recognize grace. Until you make the decision to accept God’s grace, you will not be victorious in Christ. You have to be willing to take the steps, and God’s grace will help you in your desire to fellowship with Him.

Pride is a hindrance to realizing God’s grace. It keeps one from accepting God’s Word as truth, and life in the flesh will eventually break you down and destroy you.

Sinful behavior is never to be accepted by a person and especially within the church.

Hebrews 10:26
For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

2 Thessalonians 2:10
…and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.

1 Timothy 1:18-19
18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, 19 having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith.

2 Timothy 3:7
…always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

(Also see Leviticus 4:2, 5:15)

The rejection of truth is contrary to everything that God or a believer should stand for. To reject God’s grace is a rejection of living according to God’s way. The true follower of Christ is always seeking Him and His grace in everything that he or she does in order to maintain fellowship with Him. The Holy Spirit provides assistance to your efforts as He is the Spirit of truth. He takes joy in your presence as you cherish His presence in your seeking Him and His wisdom and knowledge of the truth.

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.

15 Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

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