Tag Archives: seek

The Church and Salvation: Two Ministries

Today’s message summary of October 29, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

When you are in the church and you have declared Christ as your personal Savior, He gives you the desire to minister to others.  Ministry requires discipline and getting more and more into the Word of God.

All of us have two ministries.  Everything falls within them.  The first ministry involves your church–your family of disciples.  The other ministry involves your community.  Jesus provides examples where He was active in both of these ministries.

Ministry is not to be driven by “impact” or “numbers” or “success.”  While we want to have an impact in the lives of people and see church membership grow, ministry only has one thing that drives it within one’s heart, and that is obedience to God.

Many people follow Jesus for different reasons, including the receipt of His blessings, but leave out the importance of remaining obedient to Him.

John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

Do you have a desire and goals to actively do God’s work?

The reason why people don’t actively see God working in their lives is because they don’t really seek after doing the things that God would have them to do.  When you are actively seeking His presence, He will show you what He can do.

John 5:36

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

When God is using you and there is evidence that His work is flowing through your efforts, it is a testimony of God’s work through your life.  God is actively moving and working in the lives of those who are obedient to Him and to His will.  Their ministry testifies that God is using them.

John 6:38

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Your obedience to God shows that His will is important to you.

Ministry involves your will surrendering to God’s will.

To do ministry, you cannot do it in your own power or strength.  It will only truly work when you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him work in your life.

How many of you attempt to do something, and it fails?  In failure comes learning.  It is an opportunity to learn something.

You should never be satisfied when nothing is attempted.  God is the One who can give the victory if you strive to do His work more and more.

Your ministry matters, because it reveals your obedience, and the results of ministry reveals God’s faithfulness in the work He assigned you.

1 Corinthians 3:5-10

What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God’s coworkers.  You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.  But each one must be careful how he builds on it.

Ministry has a staring place and must be defined.  Jesus reflects this within His own ministry.

  • Jesus is starting with His own (Matthew 15:24).
  • Do not go among the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6).
  • Begin in Jerusalem…ministry in your own home and family (Acts 1:8)
  • Judea: your neighbors, co-workers–the people around you.
  • Samaria: people who are different, your enemies, and people you don’t like.
  • To the world: everyone else, especially people you do not know.

Acts 1:8

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

Jesus sends people to those that are known first (family and friends) because He wants people to work their way up to eventually go out before others over time.  People who are in ministry need time to grow within the ministry.  Mistakes will happen, but experience in ministry is a good teacher.  The Holy Spirit will provide guidance within this learning opportunity.  All that He desires is your obedience and to keep trying.

As you gain more experience, you will see how God will send you out further and further in your ministry–even to minister to those who are your enemies.  Jesus taught His disciples as to how they could do battle with their enemies, but they first had to learn how to love one another and minister to one another before they were sent out.

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Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 6:44-45

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

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

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

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

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

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

Acts 1:8

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

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

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

You may have heard these remarks:

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

“I don’t want to go to church.”

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

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

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

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

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

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

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

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

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


Seeking God’s Will in The New Year

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Lord, help us to continue to seek You and to have the desire to serve You and be Your workmanship. Help us to focus and fix our eyes upon Jesus. Thank you for the ability to not grow weary and remain steadfast in the work that you would have us to do. We see the destruction that Satan has brought into the lives of people. Help us to go willingly with the mind to do your will and witness to those who are lost. As long as we have breath, we have the task before us to bring others to You. Thank you. Bless us, for we are Your people. We can do all things in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What do you have planned for the New Year? Even more than that, what would God have you to do in 2014? God has to prepare our hearts and minds for the work that needs to be done. He provides us the ability to see beyond our own personal needs, but it is something that we must seek and desire to do.
Did you choose God or did God choose you?
John 15:16
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.
Somewhere along the journey of your life, God has called you and chosen you to do His work. He knows all about us, and He knows the fruit that we can bear in doing His work for His glory.Where God guides, God provides.

Who God chooses, He uses.

As God has chosen you, His plan is to use you, and in that He will provide for you as you follow Him. In all of this, it may not be how you plan it out to be, but we need to keep in mind that God’s will in your life is most important.

1 Chronicles 28:2-8
2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. It was in my heart to build a house as a resting place for the ark of the Lord’s covenant and as a footstool for our God. I had made preparations to build, 3 but God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me out of all my father’s household to be king over Israel forever. For He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah, my father’s household, and from my father’s sons, He was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 And out of all my sons—for the Lord has given me many sons—He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the Lord’s kingdom over Israel. 6 He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who is to build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping My commands and My ordinances as he is today.’

8 “So now in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and follow all the commands of the Lord your God so that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

God chose David to be king over all of Israel, but even though he had the desire to build God’s temple, God chose Solomon to build it.

1 Chronicles 28:9-10
9 “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. 10 Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.”

Even as you are chosen by God, you still need to have the desire to seek Him and demonstrate that you have a heart for Him. In 2014, if you seek after Him, you will learn about Him in new ways and in ways you may not believe. Be strong in The Lord and don’t let anything separate you from Him–even difficult situations and circumstances.

1 Chronicles 28:20-21
20 Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished. 21 Here are the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of God’s house. Every willing man of any skill will be at your disposal for the work, and the leaders and all the people are at your every command.”

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. This is contrary to many in today’s culture. Working is something that we need to do in order to remain vibrant and healthy in The Lord. God will provide for you as you seek Him in the desire to do the work in service for Him. You may never know who God will send along to come aside you in doing the work. You never need to fear being alone in the work, for both you and God together are in the majority.

Do you know that The Lord is always present and is with you in everything that you do? Your confidence in Him helps you to face others who may not be with you in what you are doing. Note that your godly living is outside of the norm of what we experience in today’s world. There will be those who come against you because of where you stand. It’s good to keep in close communication with God as you encounter difficulty to make sure that you are following His will. It is not about what you are able to accomplish; instead, it is what God can accomplish through your efforts and your obedience to Him. In Him, there is no failure. In 2014, be sure to make your mind to say that you are going to walk with Him.

1 Chronicles 29:1
Then King David said to all the assembly, “My son Solomon—God has chosen him alone—is young and inexperienced. The task is great because the temple will not be for man but for the Lord God.

Youth and inexperience are not a deterrent to God. When God chooses you to perform a task, it has nothing to do with who you are, but it has everything to do with being work for The Lord.

1 Chronicles 29:10-12
10 Then David praised the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said,

May You be praised, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity.

11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. 12 Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.

Remember that the task to build the temple was great, but God was making the provision for Solomon and the people. The same is true for you as you consecrate yourself to work for The Lord.

The result of your willingness to step out and do the work that God calls you to do will be a testimony to others as you are used of Him now and in 2014.


Settling the Unsettled

Each of us has gone through seasons or periods of life where things seem to be out of sorts.  There is not necessarily an explanation as to why these situations occur–in fact, they can take place without warning or without anything that leads to their occurrence; nevertheless, we trudge through the unsettling events.

What events can cause us to feel discomfort in this way?  Most often we view significant changes such as a death in the family, a loss of employment or even an unexpected move of your job or residence as having a definitive impact on us, but let’s not forget the things that take place in and around us that are far from monumental.  While these things are not life-changing in themselves, they still create unsettling feelings–uncertainty, a lack of clarity and a desire for answers to what is going on.  Take, for example, when your computer that you always rely upon to boot up and work suddenly stops working.  Can you fix the computer’s issue or does it need to go to the Genius Bar at Apple to be looked at?  This can be an extremely uncomfortable and unsettling moment, especially if you need to get some work done.  What about your reliable car that has now become unreliable, and the resulting stress that comes from not knowing whether or not the car is going to start right up?  How about when one of your pets–at one time a picture of health–gets sick?  Of course, there is also the additional possibility that your computer, your car, and your pet may involve a significant financial contribution to make things right again.  Money has a way, all by itself, of compounding your unsettling circumstances (especially if you don’t have any).  Each of these are examples that are not life-changing by nature, but they are unsettling.

What are we talking about here?  We’re talking about life.  Life has an ebb and a flow within its series of events that we all must deal with in some way or another.  Life can be exhilarating at times and exhausting at others.  Life is sometimes uncomplicated and other times unbelievable.  It can be full of happiness or fraught with humiliation.  Even more unsettling about the unsettling events is that God allows each and every one of these things to occur, and often there is no rhyme or reason behind them.

Here are some realities about your unsettling moment experiences:

1.) Their occurrences may have nothing to do with whether or not you are in fellowship with Jesus Christ

2.) God does not play favorites; therefore, you’re not exempt from them (Galatians 2:6)

3.) They invariably are all learning experiences

How do you respond to life’s changes and unsettling moments?  Do you allow these changes to bump you from your normal routine or to retreat to an area where you believe you can escape from trouble, or do you remain firm in your resolve to push through what is happening and learn from the experience?

The act of pushing through is not just about using psychology or positive thinking to move forward.  In fact, unsettling moments require much more than being convinced that everything will get better.  We need to come to grip with the reality that, as God is in control of everything that occurs in our life, He allows all events to take place in spite of how it affects us.

Matthew 5:44-45 (HCSB)

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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.

Note that God is giving each of us the fact of life that He will allow things to happen to us for two very important reasons:

1.) To seek God in everything–if things are going well or not so well

2.) To learn and develop Christ-like responses with everyone in all circumstances

First, seeking God in everything is very important in your personal development as a believer.  It is a change from what used to happen when you did not know Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19

16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

As Christ has given us the message of reconciliation, He is giving us the ability, through the Holy Spirit, to respond to life’s events in such a way where we are less likely to take offense or take things too hard, and in more of a way where we are humble and acknowledging God’s presence.  He wants each of us to react not in our own flesh, but in the power of Christ.  This in no way means that we won’t be hurt or upset or feel stress (pressure or tension experienced)–in fact, we certainly will experience all of these things when things are unsettling.  We need to make a distinction between the word “stress” and the word “worry.”  God knows that we tend to stress out when we experience unsettling events, but God does not want our stress to become worry.  Worry is a concern to God because, according to scripture, it is the exact opposite of faith.  Note how God’s Word encourages us that (a) there will be difficulty and even stress, but (b) there is a great alternative to worrying about the difficulty, and that is having faith in God through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:25-34

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In Hebrew, the word for worry is the exact opposite of faith.  This is important in that we are all tested as to how we trust God in difficult situations.  Some of us fail when we take matters into our own hands.  Some of us will fall by the wayside when we allow life’s stresses to take the focus off of Jesus Christ.  God wants us to seek Him first and He promises to provide a measure of what we need to overcome the unsettling events.  He does not want us to worry, because you can’t worry and have faith at the same time.

Faith is necessary for salvation (Ephesians 2:8), and it is critical in the ongoing development of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

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.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

6 So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight, 8 and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord.

Seeking God in everything is essential to overcoming unsettling events and in the growth and progression of our faith.

Finally, our development of interpersonal relationships also receives the benefit of our trust in Jesus Christ.  We respond much more favorably to those persons who have hurt or betrayed us because we have a better response in Christ than those who are in the world.  We also have a more humble approach because we know that without Jesus Christ we would be condemned on our own unrighteousness.

1 Peter 5:4-7

4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud

but gives grace to the humble.

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

We are more humble when we seek Christ; therefore, we are much more likely to be forgiving and merciful, because we are being Christ-like.  Don’t miss the opportunity for ministry to others because of your behavioral responses of patience and forgiveness, especially during unsettling moments.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11

5 If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree—not to exaggerate—to all of you. 6 The punishment inflicted by the majority is sufficient for that person. 7 As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, this one may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I do too. For what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything—it is for you in the presence of Christ. 11 I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.

Satan wants to ruin our testimony and fellowship with Jesus Christ.  There’s only one successful way to avoid being manipulated by Satan:

James 4:7-8

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!

When we seek the Lord, we are stronger and more resilient in Him at all times, and especially those moments when things are not going our way.  We are challenged to live a consistent life for Jesus, and not just when things are going well.  When life events are unsettling to us, we are not to shrink back in fear.  God calls us to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us.  We have so much to learn from our experiences, and He is ready and willing to teach us in order that we can be a witness and testimony to others.  For all of this, He loves us in an amazing way!

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


How the Risen Savior Impacts You

Today’s message summary from Gus Brown:

How does the Resurrection affect you? Do you know how it impacts your life? Life is more than just getting up in the morning and going to work and to school. You should know what your life purpose is in everything that you do.

When Jesus died, fear gripped the disciples. In turn, if we don’t understand how Jesus’ death and resurrection affects us, we can live our lives in fear and uncertainty.

We need to personalize Jesus’ role in our lives.

John 11:17-27
17 When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem (about two miles away). 19 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house.

21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”

23 “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.

24 Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”

We must move beyond the doctrinal teaching of the resurrection to that of a personal relationship with the risen Savior. It’s more than just a period in history. His appearing had a purpose. His appearance would negate the false stories and myths that he was stolen away. He is alive, and wants to have a relationship with you.

He fulfills who He is with His presence. He is the great Comforter–He gives you direction as to where to go and also provides peace in the midst of your difficult experiences. This is how we experience the living God in our lives. He ministers to you in order that we can minister to others.

He came because there would be stories that He did not really rise from the dead:

Matthew 28:11-15
11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what He had said to her.

Isn’t it interesting in today’s culture that the women seem to respond first, while men are still playing catchup. Our hearts keep us from seeing and acknowledging God’s presence.

John 20:19-20
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

John 20:26-29
26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”

Jesus will reveal Himself to the believer not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way. It should be readily apparent to the believer of His spiritual presence somewhere in his or her existence. You would know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He is present in your life. It’s tougher to see Him in this way when you’re always in a hurry and running to and fro. He wants you to know that He lives and He wants you to be aware of His presence.

1 Corinthians 15:6-8
6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
7 Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.

His appearance is to remove fear or concern of His existence (see John 20:19). As time passes, we lose sight of things because people who have influenced our lives are no longer visible or present. We must always note, however, that Jesus is our ever present help. In turn, we do not live in fear. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Believers are the people to set the example. The more that we learn to love Jesus, the more that we can stand up for Him and declare Him as Lord and Savior to everyone you come into contact with. Instead of fear, we can live for Him in confidence.

Acts 2:14
14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out My Spirit
on My male and female slaves in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will display wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below:
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes.
21 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That boldness comes from the recognition that the disciples were serving and ministering on behalf of a risen Savior. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will empower you to live boldly for Him.

Acts 3:15-16
15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.

Do you ask people whether or not they know Jesus Christ? Just going to church will not save you from your sins. Only Jesus can do that. If you truly understand what it is to no longer hide and live in fear of reprisal from others, you can and will speak boldly for Him.

John 4:1-12
1 Now as they were speaking to the people, the priests, the commander of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were provoked that they were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example. 3 So they seized them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000.

5 The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7 After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: “By what power or in what name have you done this?”

8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

God sets the standard as to how we are to live. No matter what the world may dictate, God will enable you with the strength to overcome the opposition and speak boldly for Christ.

Acts 5:27-32
27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

We’re in a very delicate place in this country. It is becoming more difficult to minister according to God’s Word in light of the world of political correctness. Please note, however, it is always better to obey God then to obey men. Jesus is the One who sends us into the world to share the message of the gospel.

John 20:21
Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As you go before others on behalf of Jesus Christ, you will continue to grow and develop through His presence.

John 17:18-19
18 As You sent Me into the world,
I also have sent them into the world.
19 I sanctify Myself for them,
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection was to save each and every one of us. It also eliminates any fear or uncertainty of His presence. He lives to love us and to empower and strengthen us to live victoriously for Him. He has called us to build His kingdom and to challenge others to not live as the world lives. He calls us to be the example of those who can live on a higher plain in the midst of a dying world. May it be our desire to know the power of His resurrection in our lives. Lord, may you work in us and through us for your glory. Amen.


What Sin Does To You and God’s Response

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

The effects of sin on our lives is very prominent–even if we choose to ignore it. Sin does, nevertheless, have its consequences.

Sin becomes superficial under the influence of a speculative mind.
1. Sin is not practical (it’s not real–it becomes “bad luck” or “good luck”).
2. Willingness to take the risk that sin will not hurt you.
3. To venture out into sin on the chance that you will get what you want without getting caught or paying the price for sin.

Psalm 38:1-22
1 Lord, do not punish me in Your anger
or discipline me in Your wrath.
2 For Your arrows have sunk into me,
and Your hand has pressed down on me.
3 There is no health in my body
because of Your indignation;
there is no strength in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my sins have flooded over my head;
they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.
5 My wounds are foul and festering
because of my foolishness.
6 I am bent over and brought low;
all day long I go around in mourning.
7 For my loins are full of burning pain,
and there is no health in my body.
8 I am faint and severely crushed;
I groan because of the anguish of my heart.
9 Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.
11 My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction,
and my relatives stand at a distance.
12 Those who seek my life set traps,
and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me;
they plot treachery all day long.
13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear.
I am like a speechless person
who does not open his mouth.
14 I am like a man who does not hear
and has no arguments in his mouth.
15 I put my hope in You, Lord;
You will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Don’t let them rejoice over me—
those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is constantly with me.
18 So I confess my guilt;
I am anxious because of my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful;
many hate me for no reason.
20 Those who repay evil for good
attack me for pursuing good.
21 Lord, do not abandon me;
my God, do not be far from me.
22 Hurry to help me,
Lord, my Savior.

I. You allow sin in your life–it’s yours. It’s a matter of acknowledging your own faults–your own sin.
–troubled by my sin (Psalm 38:18; also Psalm 32)
–because of my sin (v. 3)
–because of my folly (v. 5)
–my pain is ever with me (v. 17)
–I have to wait for The Lord to act–your progress in spiritual growth stops (v. 15)
–your choice (Isaiah 59:2)

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have built barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have made Him hide His face from you
so that He does not listen.

Your sin separates yourself from God, and it’s by your choice.

Sin robs you of the confidence of God’s fellowship with you and His promises for you. We are waiting for God to make a new work in us after He has forgiven us upon our repentance of sin.

II. Effects of sin in your life
–You will know God’s discipline (Psalm 38:2-3).
–the pain is in the body–it effects your emotions–your mental state–it can bring about depression. The burden may be heavy and unexpected…it’s more than what you can bear.

Psalm 38:4, 6-10, 13-14
4 For my sins have flooded over my head;
they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.

6 I am bent over and brought low;
all day long I go around in mourning.
7 For my loins are full of burning pain,
and there is no health in my body.
8 I am faint and severely crushed;
I groan because of the anguish of my heart.
9 Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.

I am like a deaf person; I do not hear.
I am like a speechless person
who does not open his mouth.
14 I am like a man who does not hear
and has no arguments in his mouth.

III. How others may respond to your sin

People may respond to you in different ways. A spouse may respond in one way, while children or relatives may see it differently. Each of them may see the destructive behavior and will likely choose to avoid you if not wait for you to fall down.

Psalm 38:11-12, 16-20
11 My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction,
and my relatives stand at a distance.
12 Those who seek my life set traps,
and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me;
they plot treachery all day long.

16 For I said, “Don’t let them rejoice over me—
those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is constantly with me.
18 So I confess my guilt;
I am anxious because of my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful;
many hate me for no reason.
20 Those who repay evil for good
attack me for pursuing good.

Your sin may bring about others that will sin against you, and there’s nothing that you can say about it. Only righteousness can rebuke sin and sinful behavior.

IV. God’s response to your sin

God provides discipline and correction for our sin because He loves us. It may not seem that He loves us, but He does, and He wants you to know that sin displeases Him. The discipline and correction also affects your sense and awareness of His presence. Remember, however, that He never leaves us (Joshua 1:5-9).

Psalm 38:1-2, 21
1 Lord, do not punish me in Your anger
or discipline me in Your wrath.
2 For Your arrows have sunk into me,
and Your hand has pressed down on me.

21 Lord, do not abandon me;
my God, do not be far from me.

Our sin also will withhold God’s blessings from us.

Psalm 103:10
10 He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our offenses.

Your own sin brings about your own punishment. It will bring you to a place where the only One that can help and rescue you is God.

The punishment for sin may seem very painful, but God wants you to repent and live a holy, honorable life for Him. He wants you to live a victorious, abundant life.

Jeremiah 2:19
19 Your own evil will discipline you;
your own apostasies will reprimand you.
Think it over and see how evil and bitter it is
for you to abandon the Lord your God
and to have no fear of Me.
This is the declaration
of the Lord God of Hosts.

A cry to The Lord for help from sin:

Psalm 38:22
Hurry to help me,
Lord, my Savior.

The Lord reassures us with His Word that He is our help and our refuge when we seek Him. The most reassuring aspect of His forgiveness is His very presence.

Joshua 1:5-9
5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.

6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. 7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. 8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. 9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


The Gift of Christ for Christmas

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Many of us will wake up Christmas morning in anticipation of what we will find as gifts under the Christmas tree, but consider that we already have a wonderful gift that we have in Jesus Christ!At the time of Christ’s birth, there was not much stated about it publicly…note that it was a message of good news that was carried forth by the angels.Matthew 1:18-21

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

The angels proclaimed the message but even they did not have a complete understanding of what God was doing.

Hebrews 2:6-7
6 But one has somewhere testified:

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor.

The angels asked of God why He cared so much for them:

Psalm 144:3
Lord, what is man, that You care for him,
the son of man, that You think of him?

The angels understood the power of God and how he could eliminate those who did not regard who He was.

1 Peter 1:12
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Why is it that the angels wondered about these things and yet we, human beings, are less concerned about God, His presence, and His second coming?
If the angels were questioning how God gave favor to man, why don’t we? Note that angels were not redeemed or any means of salvation. They saw evidence of God working in the lives of people, and yet, after 400 years of silence, God used the angels to bring forth His message. Perhaps the angels were busy doing this because man had forgotten the God that they were to serve because we were occupied with other things.

Matthew 2:1-6
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Note that Herod was not a Jew. The religious people were not the ones initiating the search for the Christ child. Herod was the one who called for information about the Messiah. He asked if this child was the “King of the Jews.” The three wise men were also not Jews. They came from different lands to seek Jesus. The ones that had the information were apparently not seeking Him.

Note that we have the information available to us as believers in Christ. Do we believe the information in Scripture about Christ’s presence and act upon it?

Micah 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from eternity.

The birth of Jesus caused some men to seek Him out, while others were troubled by it (Matthew 2:3). Many religious people had the knowledge but were not even looking or acting upon it (Matthew 2:4-5) and were even fighting amongst themselves. The priests saw the same information over and over and yet did not seem to believe what they already knew. They were not looking for the sign that The Lord gave to them in Isaiah 7:14:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

The birth of Christ was not hidden from us. Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of what would come. Are we conscious of when God is speaking to us? Some of us spend more time trying to disprove Jesus’ existence instead of choosing to believe in Him.

The angels were providing the messages. They can’t see the future, though.

Luke 1:10-17
10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him:

Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
14 There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

The angel spoke to Zechariah that the person to prepare for Jesus through Elizabeth would be John. Elizabeth was well beyond child-bearing years, but this was to be a testimony to others.

Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Do you see how God is working in this matter? The people that were chosen were all to provide the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior. Joseph’s role was very important, too:

Matthew 1:18-24
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Finally, the angels provided a message to the shepherds.

Luke 2:8-20
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

We need to keep in mind that God had been silent for quite some time before this moment because the people were enemies of God. They were not paying attention to Him or regarding His presence. It is to the wonderment of the angels that God paid so much attention to His creation, yet they were rejoicing over what God had done.

The message had been passed on from the angels to the people. The shepherds proclaimed the message and praised God while doing so, and the people who heard it were amazed! The people are proclaiming the gospel message to everyone who hears it to this day.

God will show Himself to you if you truly want to see Him. He will make Himself known to you if you truly want to know Him. God wants each of us to know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and He is ready to make Himself known to you. All it takes is believing that He is your Lord and Savior with all of your heart.

There’s no pastor that can save you. There’s no deacon or elder that can save you. There’s no church denomination that can save you. There’s only one name under heaven and earth that can save you…Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17, 14:6). You can come to Jesus Christ just as you are, but you will not stay as you are.

This Christmas, do not allow yourself to be troubled or uncaring about Jesus Christ and the gospel of His saving message. If there is any time that we need to be telling the truth about Christ, this is the time. Leave the results to Him.