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Your IMAGE, A PACT and Finding Your PASSION

Today’s message of January 29, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

We have been spending time over the past few months in Sunday school studying the act of discipleship.  Discipleship involves the ability to communicate the gospel effectively to those who desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and also to be able to come alongside those who are believers in Jesus with encouragement, instruction and accountability.  Both of these actions are Spirit-driven through both your desire to serve Jesus and through the enabling and guiding power of the Holy Spirit.

Your ability to serve requires preparation, including preparatory study, and this involves the practice of living daily in God’s IMAGE.

Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.

Being created in the likeness of God is a big deal! We are the highest honor of His creation, and we were created to be in the family of Jesus Christ, who is also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4):

Hebrews 1:1-3 HCSB

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With this in mind, living in His IMAGE is a great responsibility! To live in His IMAGE is to live in a Christlike manner according to His will, His purpose and His glory!

Romans 12:2 HCSB

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.

1 Peter 2:15 ESV

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Romans 8:28-29 HCSB

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Galatians 3:26 ESV

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

The word “IMAGE” is an acronym of the characteristics of a believer of Jesus Christ living a Christlike existence:

  • The letter “I” is to investigate Scripture, which is more than just reading the bible. It’s digging deep into the Word.
  • The letter “M” is to meditate on His Word in prayer.
  • The letter “A” is to act on His word in consistency and with obedience.
  • The letter “G” is to grow in your faith and mature as the Holy Spirit continues to impart wisdom and knowledge along with your life experiences.
  • The letter “E” is to endure life’s moments and shine before others to glorify God.

Another aspect of growing as an effective disciple for Jesus Christ incorporates this past year’s introduction of effective decision-making as a believer.  It involves making a PACT with Jesus Christ.  It is a commitment to make the best life choices in obedience to honor God and cherish His Word.

The word “PACT” is an acronym for how to be an effective decision-maker as you live for Jesus Christ:

  • The letter “P” is for prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • The letter “A” is to ask God for wisdom within your decision-making (Matthew 7:7-8).
  • The letter “C” is to consult others who can offer their own good advice or wisdom to you before you make decisions. God puts people in your life for this very purpose.
  • The letter “T” is to trust in Jesus to provide you with the best advice as you make your decisions.

Making the right decisions in life will help you to remain consistently obedient to Jesus Christ, and in this process, the Spirit will help you to conform to living as Jesus desires for you to live.  It helps you to go beyond what only the world, or even the flesh, offers.

Matthew 5:43-48 HCSB

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These principles are all reinforced with Scripture, and the effort of preparation makes for better practitioners as servants of Jesus Christ.  He provides us with the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and effort that we need to be successful.

Your preparation is very, very important in the process of growth and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the same way that an athlete has to undergo training in order to participate at a high level in a sport, and just as we need to have a healthy diet and exercise to take care of our own bodies, we must prepare to serve Christ in order to be at our best.  But there is also another important reason why we prepare to be effective practitioners of discipleship…the ongoing preparation should also provide you with a greater insight into the character of God and an even greater desire, as you learn more about Him, to serve Him in everything that you do.

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Serving Jesus Christ is not a hobby.  It is a full-time endeavor.

Serving Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of your participation in His Great Commission.

Serving Jesus Christ is an expression of your love for Him and your desire to bring everything you learn about Him into everything that you do.

Your preparation of participation in ministry for Christ should be an ongoing process that reveals to you how you are capable of serving Him.  There is much to learn about Him, and you will find that there is much to learn about yourself, too.  As you get to know more about Jesus Christ, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit molds and shapes you into a better “you” in Christ.  It is as this occurs that you get to know more of who you really are in Christ.  This is much better than who you are in the flesh, or who you thought you were before and ever after you accepted Christ as your personal Savior.  It is the Spirit’s sanctifying power that reveals His wisdom and knowledge about yourself and who you are in Christ.

Until you learn who you are in Jesus Christ, you will always be searching for something.  But once you learn who you are, you will find your purpose in Jesus Christ.  You will be compelled to live openly and actively for Christ.  You will find your passion in Jesus Christ.

For those listening that are still uncertain about all of this devotion over Jesus Christ, it is important for you to know and understand that Jesus Christ lived on this earth and gave His life for you.  He paid the ultimate price to sacrifice Himself because He loved you.  He demonstrated, through His death on the cross, that He loves you.  He showed that He is passionate about you.

John 3:16-17 ESV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So what this is all about is how you, in learning more about Jesus Christ, recognize the passion of living for Jesus Christ that He has for you.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, which is your spiritual worship.

What are you passionate about?  What do you really, really care about?

If you are seeking Jesus Christ, you will eventually learn what you are passionate about. You will find that there are things that you like to do, and things that you like to do more than other things, but following Christ will reveal your passion for Christ.

Your passion is rooted by your gifts.  Your gifts consist of your God-given gifted talents and your spiritual gifts if you have declared Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Let’s be clear about something here…you can have all kinds of God-given talent and even spiritual gifts and still not realize your passion.  You have to use these talents and gifts with the understanding that God has given them to you, and that you want to serve Him with all of your heart and soul.  Only then will you get this passion thing down pat.

Without this passion, you’re not really living your life in the way that God would like to see you live it.  Sure, you’re doing more than existing, but not much more than that.  There are people that you love and care for, help and give of yourself, and you can even go your entire life in church serving others; however, you can still be unsatisfied with the direction of your life.  Ask yourself this question:  How can I live the abundant life that God promises for me?

John 10:10 HCSB

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

You can live the abundant life with passion by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You can live the abundant life with passion by “presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

You can live the abundant life of passion by humbling yourself before God and allowing yourself to be teachable.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

If you make the effort to seek God, He will affirm your efforts.  Sometimes the blessings come when you take the steps to live for Him.

Living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus, and discovering passion as you live out your life purpose.  There can be nothing more fulfilling than when you learn your passion as you live for Jesus Christ.

In this new year, make it a personal commitment to discover your passion.  Jesus Christ wants to see you live the abundant life!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


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


Three Events Before the Millennium

A message summary of July 3, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The millennium is the time when Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years. Before the millennium, there will be the Bemis seat judgment for believers. After the millennium will be the White Throne Judgment. There are two battles that will take place–before the millennium will be the Battle of Armageddon, and afterward there will be the great final battle, where there will not be any presence of a false prophet or the beast. They will be present during Armageddon.

Whenever you see the name Babylon in Scripture, it refers to rebellion. Out of Babylon comes all of the heresies and false teachings–even today.

Babylon will be destroyed when the Battle of Armageddon takes place.

The destruction of Babylon the Great.

Note the words, “It is done.”

Revelation 16:16-17

So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.

Then the seventh poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying, It is done!

The rejoicing will take place over the fall of Babylon because Jesus Christ will be taking control. He addresses all of the members of the body–past and present–Old Testament and New Testament.

Revelation 18:20

Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has executed your judgment on her!

People will rejoice over Babylon’s defeat.

The great city is split into three parts (no nation can stand if the three parts noted will fail):

  1. Government/political

Revelation 19:19-20

Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed the signs in his presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

  1. Finance/economics

Revelation 13:15-17

He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he requires everyonesmall and great, rich and poor, free and slaveto be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beasts name or the number of his name.

  1. Religion, or what is worshiped

Revelation 13:3-5

One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?

A mouth was given to him to speak boasts and blasphemies. He was also given authority to act for 42 months.

Don’t think that atheism is not a religion. It is a worship of self and not God. It is also a religion.

The judgment seat of Christ will take place–good or bad. He will judge His own house first.

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.

Among the things that the judgment will cover for believers…

Did you build a Christian life?

1 Corinthians 3:12-17

If anyone builds on that foundation with god, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire. Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

Did you train yourself? Were you in the Word of God studying about Him?

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Dont you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? For we are not like the many who market Gods message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.

Did you remain faithful to Christ?

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husbandto present a pure virgin to Christ.

Ephesians 6:7-8

Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.

Did you produce good works?

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.

Is your heart in the work?

Colossians 3:24

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Dont you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Judgment begins in God’s house.

1 Peter 4:17

For the time has come for judgment to begin with Gods household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

Matthew 22:8-14

Then he told his slaves, The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet. So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes? The man was speechless.

Then the king told the attendants, Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The Wedding of the Lamb, where the bride is the church, and Jesus is the Groom. The wedding is the ceremony of joining two together. This wedding will be the merging of Jesus Christ and His saints for all of eternity.

Revelation 19:6-10

Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying:

Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty,

has begun to reign!

Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory,

because the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and His wife has prepared herself.

She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.

For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are fortunate! He also said to me, These words of God are true. Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, Dont do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

The wedding is a ceremony of the marriage. Prior to the ceremony, there is something that needs to take place.

–Courtship…wooing the bride…going after her.

John 3:16-17

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

For Hebrew weddings, it was the father who initiated a contract for the son to marry the future bride. There was a dowry payment.

God the Father initiated the contract for His Son to love those who believe in Him (for eternal life). The down payment is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13-14

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

–Engagement…promise or pledge of marriage.

Marriage is in two parts…the selection and the payment. The down payment of the dowry is from the sacrificial blood of Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Dont 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, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Peter 1:18-19

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

At the proper time, the Father would send servants with the legal contract to the bride’s house. The servant would lead the bride to the groom’s house.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.

Jesus Christ is washing us, cleansing us, and preparing us. We are being cleansed and sanctified through our relationship with Him. Our commitment is to be obedient to Him and allow Him to work in our lives. The more that you are into God’s Word, the more you will be cleansed and prepared for life.

Only the Father knows the time as to when He will bring everyone to Himself. Jesus Christ has prepared a place for his believers.

John 14:1-6

Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Fathers house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.

Lord, Thomas said, we dont know where Youre going. How can we know the way?

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

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.

This wedding takes place in heaven. The marriage always takes place in the groom’s home.

Revelation 19:7

Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory,

because the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and His wife has prepared herself.

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

The celebration feast is the wedding supper.

Revelation 19:9

Then he said to me, Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are fortunate! He also said to me, These words of God are true.

Luke 22:14-16

When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

At this celebration, the church (all believers) will drink with Him.


What is the Gospel?

Today’s message summary of August 16, 2015 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

What is the true message of the gospel? What is the gospel?

It is the message that Paul gave to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

 

The Corinthians were practicing immorality, and Paul had to remind them of what the true gospel was in order to refute other messages or beliefs that were prevalent in the day. There were differing opinions on the resurrection of the dead, and in what to believe. The Sadducees did not believe there was a resurrection. In fact, many believed that there was spiritual truth in opening other doors and seeking one’s own way. Gnosticism is a result of this way of thinking.

Our church needs reminders of the foundational gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you remember this gospel when you are cursed at or mistreated by someone? Remember that Christ died for you and was treated much worse than you can ever imagine.

What the gospel is not…

  • It is not about good deeds (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10)
  • It is not about self help.

There is nothing in Scripture that says that self-help is in righteousness. There is nothing that one can do to save himself…it is only in righteousness from God.

  • It is not about listening to gospel music.

You do not become more holy when you sing louder. It is only the sound preaching and teaching of the gospel.

  • It is not about the preacher.

A pastor is not to be the primary focus of hearing him speak. It is about coming to church to praise the Lord and hear His Word.

This popularity contest was what drove the Corinthians to elevate the apostles and people of the church to a higher status.

1 Corinthians 1:11-13

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

 

What are the implications of the gospel?

  1. Preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14)
  1. Salvation of sinners (1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Peter 2:24)
  1. Priority of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1)

The gospel must become the first of all things taught within the church before anything else is taught.

So, what is the gospel?  (How this question is addressed will determine your eternal state before God.)

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

All things were created through Him,

and apart from Him not one thing was created

that has been created.

Life was in Him,

and that life was the light of men.

That light shines in the darkness,

yet the darkness did not overcome it.

  1. The gospel is about the birth of Jesus.
  1. The gospel is about the life of Jesus.
  1. The gospel is about the death of Jesus.

1 Peter 1:18-19

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

  1. The gospel is about the resurrection of Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 15:13-17

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.


Is the Bible the True Word of God?

Original post May 31, 2009; Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

When one uses the phrase “God’s Word” or “The Word of God,” what is the meaning behind it? Man uses words to communicate with the idea of conveying a thought or a purpose. He can do it with sincerity, but at times it is done for our own selfish purposes or reasoning. God’s Word, on the other hand, is the revealing of God’s will for all people. He provides His Word for a purpose and it has the ability to “speak to us” and reach us in ways that normal communication cannot emulate. We have received His Word because it is inspired by God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture was given to us because it has a benefit for us, provided that we receive and respond to its teaching. While man’s words do not by themselves have power and authority, God’s Word ALWAYS operates in divine power (1 Thessalonians 1:5) and with divine authority (Luke 4:32, 36).

Many people will not read the Bible because the Word has the ability to convict those who read it of their sinful nature. It is the power and authority of God’s Word that challenge one’s mind and consciousness and that brings change in our lives. It will either bring one to Jesus Christ or it will condemn one to eternal separation. This is all in the choice that we make. God wants us to preach the Word and speak to others (2 Timothy 4:2). It is to be presented with encouragement and yet do so with the authority to correct those who are in sin with patience (2 Timothy 4:3).

It takes God’s time (and not our timing) for God’s Word to work in the lives of others. You need to allow God to work in His sovereignty and according to His purpose. Our call, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to be ready to share with others about our lives (1 Peter 3:15-16) and how God has changed us for the better.

It is God’s desire to impart His wisdom and knowledge to those interested in heeding His Word and to become more mature in their way of thinking about Christ (Colossians 1:28). The presence of the Holy Spirit is to guide men to God’s desires for our lives (Psalm 37:4; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit gives us the ability to understand God’s power and authority in His Word (Titus 3:5; Nahum 1:3; Philippians 2:13; Proverbs 21:1-3).

We should always be mindful that we derive our righteousness not in our own actions, but in His righteousness because of Jesus Christ making the eternal sacrifice for us all. The choice for us is to receive His Word in its entirety or reject it altogether. After all is said and done, God’s Word is the inspired authority and it operates with power and truth (2 Peter 1:21; Jeremiah 30:2). God is always in control…God’s Word is true…God’s will be done.


Christ’s Return: Something to Dread or to Rejoice?

Today’s message summary of January 18, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We all have a responsibility to study Scripture to be able to learn, grow and try to understand God’s message for us. This is especially true when we examine the end times. This requires a lot of study, for sure, and it is not to be avoided.

People will declare, for example, that Christ is coming soon. While He hasn’t returned yet, He assures us that He is coming. God’s Word is true. The purpose of this study is to affirm God’s truth.

Two phrases that really stick out in Scripture: “Be watchful” and “be ready.” The things that He claims will take place will occur, but it’s not up to us to get caught up in dates.

Theories over Christ’s return:

Amillennialism

There will be no physical millennium. The millennium is the present, spiritual reign of Jesus Christ with His people. Jesus may return at any time. The tribulation occurs wherever Christians are persecuted or wars and disasters happen.

Postmillennialism

The belief that Christ returns after a period of time, but not necessarily a literal 1000 years. Those who hold this view do not interpret unfulfilled prophecy using a normal, literal method. They believe that Revelation 20:4-6 should not be taken literally.

Premillennialism

Premillennialism holds that Christ’s Second Coming precedes His establishment of a glorious kingdom of peace and righteousness over earth. He shall personally reign from Jerusalem with His saints for a thousand years (the Millennium).

God will rapture Christians from the earth before (or midway) into the seven year Great Tribulation. Jesus will return to earth. After the great tribulation, but before the thousand years.

Rapture theories:

Pre-rapture – before the tribulation

Mid-rapture – the middle of the tribulation

Post rapture – after the tribulation

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

 

Matthew 16:1-4

The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” The He left them and went away.

 

The One who lives is true: The Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at one time predicted that the Lord would return on a certain date. He was ultimately wrong about the date, but he still commanded people to be vigilant and read the Scriptures. Even those persons who were in charge of these religions took into account the need to be vigilant. Our challenge is to seek the truth and to not be fearful of what is to come.

Many refer to the end times as Doomsday. William Miller was the forerunner for the Seventh-Day Adventist movement. He had calculated that the world would end around 1843. He later came back and thought he miscalculated it, but the people who followed him concluded that these things were occurring not on earth but in heaven.

These things have continued over time and will continue to be present, but all of these are merely theories. Please note, however, that in spite of all of these theories, Jesus Christ is for real. While one has every right to belief what he or she chooses to do, God will still ultimately judge based upon that view; after all, He already has the victory.

View 1:

Jesus of the bible, along with his petty god, is a tyrant. A loving being would not care how or who you worship and would offer the same reward regardless of belief. A truly and just being would judge me based upon my actions and deeds, by merit of my character, and not on whether I believed or not. (No name provided)

A belief has to be based upon something of evidence or value, and not just on what a person thinks.

View 2:

Christ’s return? He has been returning now for 2,000 years, and still a no show. He is not coming back–today, tomorrow or in the future. My knees will not bend, and I will not need ice water in hell as you say. You are babbling incoherent nonsense without one iota of proof to back up your statements. (Charles Ingrao)

God has made Himself present all throughout the events of history. A person merely needs to review the same and see His presence.

2 Peter 2:3-4

They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. For if God didn’t spare the angels but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment.

 

Matthew 24:4

Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

 

Matthew 24:44

This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

 

Luke 21:28

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

 

2 Peter 2:5-9

…and if He didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral (for as he lived among them, that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard)–then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

 

2 Peter 3:13-16

But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found at peace with Him without spot or blemish. Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul has written to you according to the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these things in all his letters in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

 

Revelation 22:12

“Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.”

 

The word “soon” in this passage refers to:

  1. soon after the present time
  2. quickly, whenever it occurs

The point of the words, “I am coming soon” was not to point to a particular time when Jesus would return, but to make readers aware that the return of Jesus will occur so quickly that there will be no time to prepare once it happens; therefore, always be ready!


The Bible is the True Word of God

Original post with editing from May 31, 2009 

Can we rely upon God’s Word as a faithful and trusted source of information?

Many people today are questioning whether or not God’s Word is truth because our society has evolved and changed over time, and people have challenged the Bible’s relevance to today’s world. Worse yet, the believability of His word may be an issue of how one sees it when contemplating today’s lifestyle choices. Even church-going people (and some Christians are included here) do not embrace the Word of God in its entirety. Some bible verses may be followed or agreeable while others may be ignored altogether. While many recognize the Bible as a good source of information, others may not deem it as reliable or worthy of trust.  Trust in the bible depends upon the individual’s outlook on God’s role in his or her life.

Is the Bible to be relied upon and is it a trustworthy source of information? Well, as much as we have changed over the years, God’s Word has not changed…ever. As much as some do not want to admit it, His Word is still very relevant to today. First, consider that the Bible was not originated by man (as some would argue):

2 Peter 1:20-21

First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.

 

 

It is not about how we interpret life from our own perspective; it is more about the Holy Spirit allowing one to see how Christ can work in and through one’s life!  The Word of God is perfect and it is a rejuvenating testimony for anyone who wants to accept it. It is consistent and without blemish or errors and it is faithful. It provides those who are willing to accept its teaching the experience needed to live a joyful and abundant life (Psalm 19:7-9).

God’s Word will stand forever. It did not end with the passing of the disciples who followed Christ.

Isaiah 40:8

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God remains forever.

 

Psalm 93:5

Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness is the beauty of Your house for all the days to come.

 

 

God’s Word remains firm, and it remains consistent and timeless. As long as there is a human race, there is a need for God’s Word to be proclaimed and presented throughout the entire world (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20). The challenge that we have is to have faith in God’s Word and trust the reliability of His Word. We are to continually bolster ourselves with Scripture in how we live for Jesus Christ and with our daily reading and devotional time (Romans 12:1-2).