Tag Archives: sanctification

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

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Be Filled (Part 2: Sanctification)

Today’s message summary of May 29, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

The day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12) is a day that should be celebrated! It was the day that the Holy Spirit poured out over all of the people and made His presence known. Not long afterward, Peter came forth and proclaimed that this was to happen, and that it was time for people to acknowledge the presence of the Lord and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

What does it mean to be filled by the Holy Spirit, and what is it to be sanctified by the Spirit?

We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work that it is begun in regeneration and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

                                                                                                                         –New Hampshire Baptist Convention

Sanctification is a progressive difficulty of holiness, it is a difficulty that requires submission to the Holy Spirit, so that he can purge the sin out of our lives by which he shall conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.

                                                                                                                         –Travis C. Jackson

If the Spirit is not sanctifying you, then something else is.

The human nature is sinful. All of us are encapsulated by our physical form–our bodies. Sin is the result of our bodies dictating how we live. It leads to death.

Romans 8:13 ESV

For if you live according to the flesh you will die.

For those who are not in the body of Christ, the death is not just physical, but also spiritual. Living in the flesh leads to this spiritual death outside of Christ. The flesh desires to live in sin–with our eyes, with the tongue, and in boasting of worldliness.

James 1:14-15

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The more that you allow sin in your lives, the more that it will but dents in your souls. Sin is nothing to play around with.

Solomon, one of the greatest and wisest of all time, was still a fool. Don’t take this the wrong way, but in a lot of ways we are a lot like Judas because of our sin and fleshly behavior.

You must acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior in order to avoid this spiritual death. You must be born again.

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh.

If there is an ongoing internal struggle between the Spirit and the flesh, then it requires a call for the presence of the Spirit to help you grow in sanctification.

We always value, in the flesh, what we feel is more important than God.

Romans 7:17-20

So now it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

This message is about sanctification. We are reliant upon the Holy Spirit to grow in Christ. We are unable to do anything according to our own power and strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.

No one can ever boast of defeating sin on his own accord.

John 6:63

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

The Spirit must be at the forefront of your thought life and process of thinking.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

You have to judge for yourselves by which accord you are living.

Are you living for the flesh, or for the Spirit?

Ephesians 6:17-18a

…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

The Spirit must lead in every waking moment of your life. It will allow for your ongoing sanctification in Jesus Christ with his constant presence.

The Spirit desires for each of us to be sanctified by the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

When you think of holiness, think of God’s perfect attributes. Since He commands us to “be holy,” our response is to behave in such a way where our actions are indeed matching His character. If you desire to be Spirit-led, then be holy.

Greek words: “Filled”

Pimplemi

to fill

example, if an individual is drunk with wine the consumption of the wine controls the person’s emotion (Ephesians 5:18)

Empi(m)plemi

to take one’s fill of, glut one’s desire for, satisfy, satiate (John 6:13)

Pleroo

to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full with emotion

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

To be filled with the Spirit requires your living and broadcasting these attributes. These are God’s own attributes.

Be sanctified in the Holy Spirit.

Be prayerful to do these things and defeat the flesh. Seek the things of the Spirit with His godly attributes and live for Jesus Christ.

Be filled.


Your Future…Is Jesus a Part of It?

Today’s message summary of January 4, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

How many of you truly believe that Jesus Christ is going to return? Are you prepared for it? Are you praying to see His return?

If you indeed are anticipating His return, you should be aware of the different views that have been taken from Scripture and be able to meditate over these views. We will not know which one is correct until the day of His return. We should always be thinking about His return, in contrast to being concerned about life as we live it, as it relates to how we can continue to develop our relationship with Jesus Christ. We can fall into a trap where we will look to the future may hold while leaving God out of it. God challenges us to think wisely over this and to include Him in your view of what is to come.

If we are thinking about Jesus Christ in comparison to this world, we know that the world is getting worse before it is getting better. Are we praying for a revival of the people?

Psalm 100:5

For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

 

Psalm 117:2

For His faithful love to us is great; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Hallelujah!

 

God promises His people that He will be faithful to them, no matter what is happening around them. His Word is true.

Psalm 119:160

The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.

 

Revelation 3:10

Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

 

Matthew 24:36

Now concerning that day and hour no one knows–neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son–except the Father only.

 

Matthew 24:31

He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

 

A lot of people may see the words written here as little more than mythology. Those persons may want to think differently.

Matthew 24:37-40

As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left.

 

Luke 17:26-33

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

Noah entered the ark because he believed God. No one else outside of Noah’s family heeded his message. Are you the type of person who hears from God and believes Him? It was Noah’s faith that allowed him to believe in God. He believed that there was going to be a flood without at first seeing it.

The Scriptures prepare us to be ready. Are you ready? Or do you believe that there is nothing to be concerned about and can go about life as it occurs?

Luke 18:8

I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?

 

Will He find any faith on earth? Consider the world’s condition and the absence of faith in countries in Europe, or even among people today. Will you remain faithful to Him before His return? The faith we are referring to is a saving faith from a belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you believe and trust in Him?

People today are looking for some sort of spirituality, but their looking in the places that do not involve Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:3-4

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

 

People will try to make light of the event of Christ’s return. Keep in mind that this will occur because there is a refusal to believe in His deity. To believe that Christ is coming back, along with the occurrence of the rapture and the coming of the tribulation is to believe that Jesus is true and that He keeps His word. It sanctifies the believer.

John 17:17

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.

 

Keep watch on Israel. The Lord has made promises about the nation of Israel, and it bears watching how they fare in today’s world.

2 Timothy 3:1-7

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people! For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

Here’s an important fact: God through the Holy Spirit cannot sanctify you unless you have the knowledge and wisdom that comes from God’s Word. Satan will give a person the impression that they are succeeding in something and make it appear to be a blessing, when in reality it is a person who fails to accept the truth, wisdom and knowledge that comes from a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ.

Is there a faith out there today? Is there a genuine belief in Jesus Christ?

Is there true instruction of God’s Word today, and do you know where to find it?

2 Timothy 4:3-4

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. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

 

Jude 1:17-18

But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”

 

Have you observed the world’s behaviors and if they have intensified? Are people becoming more and more ungodly? Is our nation more and more ungodly?

Luke 21:28

“But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

 

Look to Jesus Christ, who keeps all of His promises, and He will give you what you need. He will show you truth and wisdom if you merely trust in Him. God will keep you no matter what the storm brings. Make sure that you are anchored in Jesus Christ.


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


Our Rewards our His Crowns

Today message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
After we have lived our lifetime and stayed the course, the believer in Jesus Christ will receive a reward. We will readily recognize that Jesus Christ is the one that deserves the glory for our successes and achievements. The mature believers today understand this very fact.
Revelation 4:10-11
10 the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever, cast their crowns before the throne, and say:
11 Our Lord and God,
You are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power,
because You have created all things,
and because of Your will
they exist and were created.
Crowns are not promised for angels, but only to the redeemed in Christ. The crowns of righteousness, joy, life, glory, and the incorruptible crowns ate those that describe the life that we lived.God promises rewards to those who serve Jesus Christ faithfully.
Hebrews 11:6
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
To seek:
To search out–investigate, crave, worship and seek after the work of God in all life situations.We see how God is honored through all of the mess and difficulties we experience.How are we to live through life and experience God through all of this?God promises the rewards:Proverbs 24:19-20
19 Don’t be agitated by evildoers,
and don’t envy the wicked.
20 For the evil have no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Psalm 91:7-8
7 Though a thousand fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
the pestilence will not reach you.
8 You will only see it with your eyes
and witness the punishment of the wicked.

Isaiah 40:10
See, the Lord God comes with strength,
and His power establishes His rule.
His reward is with Him,
and His gifts accompany Him.

Matthew 16:17
And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.

You can be disqualified from receiving a crown (this does not pertain to losing your salvation). How?

Revelation 3:11
I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.

Colossians 2:18-19
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. 19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God.

With false humility and, as a result, false worship, you lose your connection with Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:1-3
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

In Matthew 6, the rewards are referenced six different times.

Colossians 3:23-25
23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism.

Do you understand the privilege that you have in serving The Lord Jesus Christ? Working for Him is all to be done for His glory and honor. Your rewards come from your positive and praise-worthy behavior, which glorifies Jesus Christ.

We all will appear before Jesus to receive what is due to us, whether it is good or bad (all who acknowledge Christ as Savior have eternal life):

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.

The good–
Romans 3:12
Matthew 19:17
Romans 7:18, 21-25
Philippians 1:6

Ephesians 2:10
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.

In Revelation 4:10-11, who are the 24 elders? Some speculate it is the raptured church. Others refer to the 12 patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles of the New Testament. Some say that they represent the faithful servants of Jesus.

What they do before the throne:
1. They fall down in a prostrate position. They understand that they are not worthy to be in His presence.
2. They worship Him.
3. They lay their crowns before His throne as they recognize that it was Christ.
4. They make statements including “You are worthy.”
5. They acknowledge He created all things.