Tag Archives: service

The Church and Its Priesthood

Today’s message summary of August 6, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church is a place of assembly where God calls His people together for a common goal and purpose.

The church is not just the pastor, elders or deacons are doing all of the work.  It is a mindset that prevails where the people come together as a group under the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone comes together in this way in order to have a greater impact within the community.

The church is critical for the survival of many people.  In nations where people and children are starving, the church steps forward to help those who are in need.  It is the benevolence of the people within the church, led by Jesus Christ, that helps to take care of “His sheep.”

The church is on a decline not because of witness but because many are failing to live in a Christlike manner.  God does not live to serve us–we live to serve Him.

It is important to remember that Jesus Christ is sufficient for us.  All he requires of us is to have faith in Him.  He prevails for us and we will not be defeated as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:18

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

How many of you believe that God’s church is going to prevail?  Jesus Christ has already prevailed and won the battle, but that doesn’t mean that you relax from participation in the church.  You are to keep after it in spite of the opposition that Satan will put in front of you.

Oswald Sanders says, “the overriding need of the church is to discharge its obligation to raising up generations for leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.”

The church must prevail.  The world cannot defeat the church.

1 Peter 2:1-5

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are like living stones that are being built into a spiritual house.  Our sacrifice is in our work for Him.  We don’t sacrifice because we don’t know Jesus Christ, but we do it because we do know Him, and desire to serve Him.

Our present church struggles with the equipping and training of younger people in order that they can get ready to serve.

The church has a challenge also in how often it can teach or instruct our youth in comparison to what the world teaches them.  Only God can be the one to prevail over this situation.  Collectively, we will prevail as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:19

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.

The word “key” stands for knowledge.  The keys of the kingdom are truth. Scribes, or teachers of the Word of God would wear a key on his belt to symbolize the truth that he held (truth of the gospel).

The church is meant for all people to come and worship.  The church needs to mirror the population of the surrounding community.

Matthew 9:10-13

While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Walt Disney had a vision about EPCOT before it was created.  EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  He had a vision for this when he purchased the land for what is now Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  He purchased 47 square miles of Florida wilderness to build it.

Others believed that Walt’s vision was such a fantasy that it could not possibly be realized.  There were company managers that went behind his back and referred to his dream as “Waltopia.”  The word “utopia” is a Greek word that means “no place.”

After his death in 1966, his successors didn’t know how to proceed with EPCOT.  Company executives who lacked Walt’s ability to see beyond proven formulas retreated to a more conventional concept. The new president of Disney said EPCOT was now being reconsidered from the point of view of economics, operations, technology and market potential…not one’s imagination.

Note the reference to economics here.  What is the first thing that often comes up in the church? Economics!  Money!  What we need to consider here is what God wants to accomplish.  Money is a vehicle, for sure, but God determines the success of the endeavor.

Operations:  God desires for His church to move forward.  He does not want it to stand still.

Walt’s plan actually also included churches within its community where people actually would live and be there for several days…and also worship in the church while they were there!

You never want to stop using the imagination that God is giving you.  Walt’s vision for Disney World and EPCOT is the same type of vision that we should also have for the church.

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.” 

–Vincent Van Gogh

A church model is just that–a model.  It still must conform to the community around it, but keep in mind that God also may take you further than where you are.

The church is an assembly of a priesthood of believers.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Your purpose, in this royal priesthood, is to declare the praises of Him and to stand and be ready for service–to meet His call and His desire to you to live for Him.  You belong to God and your purpose is to praise Him wherever you go!

The church has a purpose, as well.

Colossians 1:24-29

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christs afflictions for his body, that is, the church. I have become its servant, according to Gods commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.

We are to act like Jesus.

Romans 8:29

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.

Church is to have a cultural influence.

Church helps to transform people through its teaching.

Church holds to the practice of the values of Jesus Christ.


Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

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.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

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

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.


Doing the Work of The Lord

Today’s message summary of June 4, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If your focus is on the work of God, it will change you.  God should come first in your life.

If there is a lack of focus, there will be a hole in your life that cannot be filled by material things.

You can be confused over those things that you deem to be priorities.

Over time, God’s work can get lost within the course of life.  You can get so busy living and lose track of what is most important; yet, God has a plan for you each and every day.

The word of God is the most important part of your life.

Haggai 1:1-11

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 

The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much

but harvested little.

You eat

but never have enough to be satisfied.

You drink

but never have enough to become drunk.

You put on clothes

but never have enough to get warm.

The wage earner puts his wages

into a bag with a hole in it.

The Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account,

the skies have withheld the dew

and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought

on the fields and the hills,

on the grain, new wine, olive oil,

and whatever the ground yields,

on man and beast,

and on all that your hands produce.

 

Haggai’s words to the people of Judah was a revealing of their weakness toward the work of God.

  • Carelessness about the matters of God
  • Their sincerity concerning the things of God is small
  • Their leisure time was more important than God’s work
  • Their personal comfort was more important

Ezra 5:1-2

But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.

When you see and hear that God is at work, it places an expectation from Him upon your life.  As you remain obedient to Him, He will affirm your efforts and even provide the support that you need in service to Him.

Ezra 6:14

So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.

Ezra 7:5-6

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, Aaron the chief priests son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him.

 

The workforce was made up of everyone who had returned from exile.  Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they still rebuilt the altar at its original site (Ezra 3:3).

The people overcame their fear in order to obey God.

Haggai points out the weakness of God’s people and what causes them to be distracted.  What are the distractions in your life that prevent you from serving and honoring God?

Haggai 1:2

“The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”

  • You can see it, but you won’t do the work
  • You can hear about it, but will not do the work.
  • You can receive from God the ability to do what is needed, but still choose not to do it.

 

The conflict here is your comfort versus God’s comfort (Haggai 1:3).

When is the right time to do God’s will and be obedient to Him?  The right time is when you see it, hear about it, and have received from God the ability to do it.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Haggai 1:5, 7

Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”

You need to give consideration as to your ways in life.  You need to go over how you make your decisions and reflect deeply upon how you are spending your time.  He wants you to be thoughtful as to your ways.

God challenges you with your way of thinking here.  Before God asks you to do something, you need to consider how you are going to respond to Him.  He may give you something that will pull you out of your comfort zone.

God will enable you to do many things in your life if you simply remain obedient to His will.  Take pleasure in it, you please Him and honor Him, and God will honor you.

Are you taking care of God’s business?  It remains as a priority in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Haggai gave words of encouragement only after the people were willing to obey.

Haggai 1:12-14

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lords messenger, delivered the Lords message to the people, I am with you”—this is the Lords declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God.

Once the people began to fear the Lord, their own fear to proceed had subsided.  The people had to see God for themselves.

God’s message is “I am with you.”

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Haggai 2:3

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest.  Be strong, all you people of the land”this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you”the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

To build the temple was going to require strength. God’s encouragement was to say “be strong” three times.

When the Spirit of God is with you, there is no need for fear.  He will enable you to complete the task at hand.


Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 6 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of March 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts at Shiloh, where Elis two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lords priests.

Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Whenever she went up to the Lords house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat. Hannah, why are you crying? her husband Elkanah asked. Why wont you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?

In verse 10, it is noted that Hannah was depressed about her inability to conceive.  She was very upset and was praying to God that she would be remembered in her difficulty.

1 Samuel 1:9-11

Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lords tabernacle. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, Lord of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servants affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.

She was weeping in such a way as a woman who had lost her only child.  Her condition was one of deep despair.

The reality of infertility makes a woman feel inadequate or incomplete.  A woman’s desire is to bear children.  In Hannah’s time, women who remained barren felt worthless, and they typically would not receive an inheritance that would allow for care for themselves and family members.  A woman’s prestige was based upon her ability to produce offspring.

It should be noted that Hannah’s inability to bear children was allowed by God, and perhaps for the sole purpose that He wanted Hannah to draw closer to Him and to not dwell on her circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger[a] of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hannah found her self-worth in God.  This is also a lesson for each of us.  We believe that the things that we do defines who we are.  All joy that we experience comes from Him, and it should remind us that we are to seek Him in everything.

When we pray to God, we are to pray with the understanding that our desires are to be rooted within a relationship with Him.  He wants us to grow more and more with Him.

In her prayer to God, we will focus on these three things:

  • Hannah’s vow to the Lord
  • Hannah asked for recognition
  • Hannah’s offering

Hannah made a vow with God not only with herself but also with her future child.  When she made this promise, it affected the course of her child’s life.  The vow was a Nazarite vow, where the person would separate and consecrate himself for service to God in the temple.  We find that Samuel would be serving the Lord diligently for his entire life.

Making a vow is not to be taken lightly, and is not recommended (Judges 11:29-40).

So, (Akron Alliance Fellowship) Church, when you are praying:

Matthew 5:37

But let your word yes be yes, and your no be no.[a] Anything more than this is from the evil one.

When Samuel was born, we know that Hannah followed her vow by keeping her commitment.  Her only child was committed to service.  Her desire to be a mother was fulfilled, but she released Samuel to serve the Lord.  This is the type of prayer that we are to focus on when it comes to our own service to Jesus Christ.

Hannah prayed to the Lord to be remembered by God as her servant (1 Samuel 1:11).  In Hannah, whose name means “grace,” you can understand her sincerity of prayer before the Lord.  Note that God heard her affliction, and we see that Hannah bore Samuel and many more children afterward (three sons and two daughters).

The lesson here is remaining prayerful.  God, in His sovereignty, does recognize your prayers, and it make take some time before He answers them.

Hannah’s offering was giving her son back to the Lord.  She offered her son as a way of serving the Lord in her desire to please God. Samuel was faithful in service and became a judge over Israel.

There is a parallel to her actions to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

John 17:9-11

I pray for them.

I am not praying for the world

but for those You have given Me,

because they are Yours.

Everything I have is Yours,

and everything You have is Mine,

and I have been glorified in them.

I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

 

Jesus asked God to keep and protect His servants.  The persons that Jesus would die on the cross for belonged to the Father.


Remembering History (Family Series cont’d)

Today’s message summary of February 26, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A true measure of a person is how one stands during the time of a crisis.  Will people stand for the Lord, or not?

History is important to remember and understand.  What we experience in our past will help in dealing with future events.  It is important to look upon where you came from, but even important to see God’s fingerprints throughout your life and how He has kept you.  You should be able to see where God has moved in your life.

Proverbs 23:10

Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless.

 

There are markers throughout life that need to remain in place as reminders as to who God was at that time and to see His work.

Young children would ask mothers, fathers and grandparents, “Why is there segregation?” “Why is their racial discrimination?”  Sometimes, because a child was too young to understands, the answer would be, “That’s the way it is!” and to avoid trouble or not get in the way.

Dr. Martin Luther King inspired many people to take a different view…to get in the way and even into trouble.  He encouraged people to get active for the cause of freedom, but there were also times when it was best to speak up.  He wanted people to believe that change was possible, even with the society of his time.  This is still true today.  Change is possible even with the difficulty that many experience today (drugs, murder and lack of education).

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

In the midst of difficulty, we are to look for how God will act, and He reminds us to put the interests of others before yourself.

Life is not just about you.

It is OK to suffer as you recognize that you are becoming more like Jesus Christ.  God wants you to see Him in the midst of all of this.

If you really study Martin Luther King, you would see that his life was about those that he served.

In his life story, he certainly had his faults, but he also noted when he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  God will use a person who is much less than perfect to accomplish His will and for His glory.  He used King to proclaim a dream for others during his time that others could not see.

King entered Morehouse College at age 15.  One of his heroes was Mordecai Johnson, President of Howard University.  He would read his speeches and studied him.  This was how he learned about speech and how to speak.  He heard Dr. Johnson say, “In the midst of death, life persists.  In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

John 1:4-5

Life was in Him (Jesus Christ), and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

 

From the words of Dr. Johnson came the inspiration for Dr. King as he prepared to enter the seminary.  He said, “We are going to change this nation.”

Young people, are you looking for ways to do better than your parents or grandparents ever did?  Are you looking to go to greater heights to overcome your family history?  What matters most is what you set out to accomplish.  What are your goals?  Study your own family history to avoid the pitfalls.  It is wise to choose the ones in your family, or even outside of your family, that will provide wise counsel.  When you want to learn, God will put someone in your path to help you.

When looking at life in the present, history shows us what needs to be changed in order to do well in the future.

Stephen’s speech is a history lesson (Acts 7).  We learn how Stephen demonstrates his measure of being a man who takes a stand for Jesus Christ.  He asks for an audience, which is made up of people who are both younger and older than he is (Acts 7:2).

First, he spoke about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was the father of the twelve patriarchs (tribes).  He then spoke about Joseph, who was forgotten, and also Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon.  Stephen brings his audience to a place of recognizing their history and facing it.  The people were just like their ancestors–they resisted God.

Acts 7:51-53

You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.

 

All cultures should be aware of their history…both the good and the bad things.

Paul shares his history as a Jew, and how he became a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-8).

Paul also shares another history when he became an apostle (Galatians 1:11-18).

It is from these two experiences that make Paul the person that he was, and from this it is hoped that you can see that reviewing your own history is also helpful and provides perspective on the wonders of God in your own life.

History tells us that God had a hand on this country through very difficult and trying times.

God has given you a history.  God has given this country a history.  In both instances, there are things to be proud of, and some that bring shame and regret.  These things are still to be reckoned with and acknowledged in order to see how to avoid mistakes of the past and imitate those things that are good and proclaim God’s glory and presence.  We learn from our past to know how to live our future in Jesus Christ, and to please Him in your service.  God uses people who are visionaries to accomplish His will.

Like Stephen and Paul, if a person worries about personal safety and status, they will accomplish nothing.

Dr. King was an idealist and a visionary.  He transcended race, ethnicity, nationality and politics. He talked with those of little education as well as those with graduate degrees.  He walked with everyone. His faith in Jesus prevailed over fear and uncertainty, fatigue and depression.  He stood in the gap for our nation.

Ezekiel 22:30

I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

 

As far as this church, and its future, is concerned, it is much more than just a black church, or a mixed ethnicity church, or a church of people with different backgrounds.  It is a church of people who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.


Why the Millennium? (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 14, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

These messages about the end times are for the benefit of sharing with those who want to know more about the Lord and to be aware of the signs that are present and yet to come.

Hosea 4:6a

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Whose fault is it for the Millennium?  The Millennium is set up to show how mankind has been evil, and this period is to represent what it originally was like in the Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve).

Do we, as Christians, perform good works, or not?  Throughout history, people have tried every means possible to make the world a better place to live.

Some Christians think that this is the wrong thing to do.

Please understand that everything that Christians do should be with the purpose of presenting Jesus, in order that it brings people to encounter the presence of Jesus Christ.

People are to remember that we are the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13).  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.  Christians are to be the seasoning and preservers of humanity.  We are in place to witness and work on His behalf to bring as many people as possible to Christ.

Even the best efforts of people to bring others to Jesus Christ have been unsuccessful.  A sinful nature creates an imperfect environment, but it does not mean that we do not continue to work for the best.

Ephesians 6:12-13

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.

What people have never been able to do, Jesus does in the Millennium by setting forth a perfect environment for people.

The Millennium is the last event that will take place on the old earth if you have the last battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium.  Everything from this point will take place in heaven.  The White Throne Judgment will be in heaven and follows the destruction of the old earth.

Important events of the Millennium:

  1. Jesus will be on earth in bodily form. He will, from that point, never leave His people again.
  2. Satan is bound. His activities will be restricted (Genesis 3:13).
  3. The people will live in the environment of Adam.
  4. People will have the free choice to worship and obey Jesus. (The same free will that Adam and Eve had.)
  5. One thousand years will not change the heart of Satan.

Romans 10:17 ESV

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

People work to try to improve their old nature, but the old nature cannot be improved.  It can only die.  Your old nature must die to self.  God has to create a new nature in you.

People that go through the Millennium will…

  1. Obey without knowing Jesus as Savior. Why? (You are in a disastrous place without Jesus Christ being at the head of your life.)

Isaiah 11:3-9

His delight will be in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge

by what He sees with His eyes,

He will not execute justice

by what He hears with His ears,

but He will judge the poor righteously

and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.

He will strike the land

with discipline from His mouth,

and He will kill the wicked

with a command from His lips.

Righteousness will be a belt around His loins;

faithfulness will be a belt around His waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

and the leopard will lie down with the goat.

The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together,

and a child will lead them.

The cow and the bear will graze,

their young ones will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

An infant will play beside the cobras pit,

and a toddler will put his hand into a snakes den.

None will harm or destroy another

on My entire holy mountain,

for the land will be as full

of the knowledge of the Lord

as the sea is filled with water.

Like the church, there can be an outward conformity without an inward reality of Jesus.  The heart of the person must change to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

 

  1. There will be no war.

Micah 4:2-4

and many nations will come and say,

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us about His ways

so we may walk in His paths.

For instruction will go out of Zion

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will settle disputes among many peoples

and provide arbitration for strong nations

that are far away.

They will beat their swords into plows,

and their spears into pruning knives.

Nation will not take up the sword against nation,

and they will never again train for war.

But each man will sit under his grapevine

and under his fig tree

with no one to frighten him.

For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts

has promised this.

 

  1. There will be no killing of people by other people.
  1. People will live a long life.

Isaiah 65:20-22

In her, a nursing infant will no longer live

only a few days, or an old man not live out his days.

Indeed, the youth will die at a hundred years,

and the one who misses a hundred years will be cursed.

People will build houses and live in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They will not build and others live in them;

they will not plant and others eat.

For My peoples lives will be

like the lifetime of a tree.

My chosen ones will fully enjoy

the work of their hands.

 

  1. There will be no divorce, physical problems (no disease), drunkenness, or addiction. There will not be any poor, and there will not be any hunger.

It only makes you wonder how people can experience all of this and yet walk away from Him.

Who rules with Jesus, and why?

He will set up a ruling class of righteous people, and will give authority to those who are faithful in service to Him.

Revelation 20:4

Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of Gods word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.

Why do they get to rule with Jesus and not the present saints?

They all come with a supernatural body, while others do not have such a thing.

1 Corinthians 15:40-57

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

sown in dishonor, raised in glory;

sown in weakness, raised in power;

sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

The first man was from the earth

and made of dust;

the second man is from heaven.

Like the man made of dust,

so are those who are made of dust;

like the heavenly man,

so are those who are heavenly.

And just as we have borne

the image of the man made of dust,

we will also bear

the image of the heavenly man.

Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery:

We will not all fall asleep,

but we will all be changed,

in a moment, in the blink of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound,

and the dead will be raised incorruptible,

and we will be changed.

For this corruptible must be clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal must be clothed

with immortality.

When this corruptible is clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal is clothed

with immortality,

then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?

Now the sting of death is sin,

and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Difference between a perishable and imperishable body
  2. There is a body of dishonor and a body raised in glory
  3. Weakness versus power
  4. Natural body and a spiritual body (one for earth and one for heaven)

There must be a change in the body of a person from corruptible to incorruptible…in other words, to be more like Jesus.

Romans 8:28-30

We know that all things work together[a] 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.

1 John 3:2

Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

The rest of the dead that are not reigning with Christ because they will be the unbelievers:

Revelation 20:5-6

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.


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.