Tag Archives: sin

The Church and its Priesthood (Part 5)

A message summary of September 10, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are saved, you are a priest of Jesus Christ.  You function in exactly that way.  A priest is one who stands ready to serve God.

We left off last week in Ezekiel discussing where there may be shortcomings or failures of the priest.  For our purposes, sin does not prevent a person to serve Him.  God may ask one to do something, and the person responds.

It is important to note that, depending upon the sin, there are certain things that cannot be undone.  Some of us will fall, and there will be a scar or a mark, and it can’t be repaired.  A believer should always be cautious about the sin that is allowed into one’s life.  Satan can render a believer useless if sin takes over.

Ezekiel 44:10-14

Surely the Levites who wandered away from Me when Israel went astray, and who strayed from Me after their idols, will bear the consequences of their sin. Yet they will occupy My sanctuary, serving as guards at the temple gates and ministering at the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a sinful stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath against them”–this is the declaration of the Lord God–“that they would bear the consequences of their sin. They must not approach Me to serve Me as priests or come near any of My holy things or the most holy things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the detestable acts they committed. Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the temple–for all its work and everything done in it.

The prayer of a believer should be the desire to be used as a vessel for the Lord in service, but there are rights and privileges that are forfeited as a consequence or consequences of the sin.  It doesn’t mean that the person is not forgiven of their sin, but it does mean that there should be a reckoning of any detestable practice before God.

Christians are to be the salt of the earth.  In order to be this salt, it requires action, and in some cases, correction of those who need it.  A priest of God has to be trained to be an effective priest–an ambassador for Jesus Christ.  We need to understand that we are consecrated and being made holy before Him and before others.  The priests, who are also teachers, are charged to give instruction of God’s Word and encourage others to follow His teaching.

Those who are prepared to serve God with the desire to remain faithful and obedient will be affirmed with God’s presence in their service.

Ezekiel 44:15-16

“But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from Me, will approach Me to serve Me. They will stand before Me fat and blood.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “They are the ones who may enter My sanctuary and draw near to My table to serve Me. They will keep My mandate.”

Remember that the pastor of a church is nothing more than a priest and a servant.  Pastors are human, as well, and also are to continue to render their service to Jesus Christ as they grow in Him.  The priest is to live in reverence of Jesus Christ.

Being a priest, a teacher, is not a small thing.  It’s a very important thing.

James 3:1-2

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is able to control his whole body.

Romans 2:21a

…you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself?

The bible doesn’t say, for example, that you can’t drink alcohol. (That is a choice for the individual.)  The bible does, however, discourage drunkenness.

If you are teaching others about the truth, are you implementing that same way of living for yourself?

People need good, sound teaching in order to seek God in the proper way and to keep them from going astray.

The priest will be receiving instruction from none other than the Holy Spirit.

2 Chronicles 15:3-7

For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them. In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.

Malachi 2:1-2, 7-9

“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.

For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Hosts. So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”

The Word of God has a positive effect and changes the lives of those who believe.  A priest must be willing to hear God and follow His direction.  Those who do this will be able to demonstrate how to “fight the good fight.”

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.

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Unanswered Prayer (Part 8 of a Series – ‘Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?’)

Today’s message summary of July 16, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Prayer is very, very important.  As we continue this series, we will ponder how God answers some prayers and does not answer others.

The reason that many Christians are seeking the Lord is because they are experiencing some sort of affliction.  Some are experiencing cancer, and the diagnosis for recovery is slim.

Seeing those who experience this situation remind us that life is short, and also the reality that God may not answer their prayers for complete healing.  We wrestle with a level of uncertainty in our Christian life, and we can find that many of these prayers may never be answered in our lifetime.

Zechariah 7:13

Just as he had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen, says the Lord of Armies.

Why does God allow prayers to go unanswered while others are indeed answered?

  1. Because of sinfulness
  2. Because of faithlessness
  3. Love of worldly pleasure
  4. The sovereignty of God

Unanswered prayers may be the result of sinfulness. He will not listen to those whose hearts are not truly looking to Him; however, God does hear the prayers of sinners who sincerely turn to Him.  He will hear and acknowledge anyone who desires to have a relationship with Him.

Micah 3:1-4

Then I said, Now listen, leaders of Jacob,

you rulers of the house of Israel.

Arent you supposed to know what is just?

You hate good and love evil.

You tear off peoples skin

and strip their flesh from their bones.

You eat the flesh of my people

after you strip their skin from them

and break their bones.

You chop them up

like flesh for the cooking pot,

like meat in a cauldron.

Then they will cry out to the Lord,

but he will not answer them.

He will hide his face from them at that time

because of the crimes they have committed.

 

Romans 1:24

Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.

 

A person who sins is disrupting the communication between himself and God.  Sin hinders prayers.

Saul is an example of this.  His disobedience was sinful and he forfeited his kingship over the people (1 Samuel 15:12-29).

 

1 Samuel 28:3-19

By this time Samuel had died, all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his city, and Saul had removed the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines gathered and camped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel, and they camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine camp, he was afraid and his heart pounded. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him in dreams or by the Urim or by the prophets. Saul then said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium, so I can go and consult her.

 His servants replied, There is a woman at En-dor who is a medium.

Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes and set out with two of his men. They came to the woman at night, and Saul said, Consult a spirit for me. Bring up for me the one I tell you.

But the woman said to him, You surely know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you setting a trap for me to get me killed?

Then Saul swore to her by the Lord: As surely as the Lord lives, no punishment will come to you from this.

Who is it that you want me to bring up for you? the woman asked. 

Bring up Samuel for me, he answered.

When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, and then she asked Saul, Why did you deceive me? You are Saul!

But the king said to her, Dont be afraid. What do you see?

I see a spirit form coming up out of the earth, the woman answered.

Then Saul asked her, What does he look like?

An old man is coming up, she replied. Hes wearing a robe. Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he knelt low with his face to the ground and paid homage.

Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? Samuel asked Saul.

Im in serious trouble, replied Saul. The Philistines are fighting against me and God has turned away from me. He doesnt answer me anymore, either through the prophets or in dreams. So Ive called on you to tell me what I should do.

Samuel answered, Since the Lord has turned away from you and has become your enemy, why are you asking me? The Lord has done exactly what he said through me: The Lord has torn the kingship out of your hand and given it to your neighbor David. You did not obey the Lord and did not carry out his burning anger against Amalek; therefore the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will also hand Israel over to the Philistines along with you. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will hand Israels army over to the Philistines.

Saul’s disobedience continued by consulting a medium—the very people that he had removed—because he knew the Lord had turned from him.

Leviticus 20:6-8

Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists and prostitutes himself with them, I will turn against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sets you apart.

Will God answer our prayers if we habitually sin against Him?

He will respond to the ones who confess sin and seek Him in prayer.  We seek after Him in order to prevent our prayers from being hindered.

Jonah 3:5-10

Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackclothfrom the greatest of them to the least.

When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:

By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.

God saw their actionsthat they had turned from their evil waysso God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.

James 5:15-16

The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.

1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Prayers are unanswered at times due to a lack of faith (faithlessness).

Hebrews 11:6

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

James 1:6-8

But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.

Your prayer life should consist of faith in Jesus Christ with the remembrance that anything that you ask for in His name and in accordance to His will, He will do it.

Prayers are not answered when they come from a worldly perspective.  God is not a genie that answers prayers just to give you possessions.  Are you praying out of selfishness?  Those that desire earthly things are more in love with the world than they are with Him.

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in ones possessionsis not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

James 4:3

You ask and dont receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Prayer should never be used in a wrongful manner.

Another reason that God will not answer prayers is because of His sovereignty.

Paul prayed for a healing for his affliction, but God responded by not healing him and reminding him that God’s grace was sufficient for him within his own weakness (2 Corinthians 12:6-10).

God reminds us as to what is really important, and that He ultimately, no matter how He responds to our prayers is worthy of our praise and honor through our worship.  God ultimately desires for us to have a close relationship with Him.  How he answers prayer ultimately has everything to do with this.

Isaiah 38:1-6

In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, This is what the Lord says: Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover.’”

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what pleases you. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: Go and tell Hezekiah, This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life. And I will rescue you and this city from the grasp of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city.

Throughout Jesus’ prayer life, God responded to all of His prayers except for one.  Jesus, speaking from his humanity, asked for the father to remove the burden of going to the cross.  God did not answer the prayer.

Mark 14:34-42

He said to them, I am deeply grieved[a] to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.  He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will. Then he came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, Simon, are you sleeping? Couldnt you stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray so that you wont enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. And again he came and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. Then he came a third time and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; lets go. See, my betrayer is near.

Was it possible for God to remove the cup?  Certainly it was; however, even Jesus recognized that there was a greater purpose in what was taking place.  It was according to God’s sovereign will for Jesus Christ to be sacrificed on the cross.  It was necessary for each one of us that Christ would take on the sins of the world for us.  He was destined to die in the manner that He did for us.

When you pray, please consider the intent of your prayers.  Pray with the desire to remove sin from your life and seek forgiveness.  Are you praying from a worldly perspective, or with the desire to seek a godly perspective?  When you pray, are you praying with faith?  Remain faithful to Him in your prayers, and trust that His sovereignty is for your overall good in your life and in the lives of those who you pray for.


Not Facing the Second Death (Revelation 20:6)

Today’s message summary of April 16, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

We see death everyday.  Death reigns in this world.  We see this because Adam sinned against God in disobedience, and as a result, all who have followed Adam would pay the penalty of sin, and that is to die.  We all will die eventually.  It is inescapable.

The other dilemma in this is not knowing when it will happen.  It happens to all regardless of wealth or race.  Death is the great equalizer.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in Gods hands. People dont know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they liveafter that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead dont know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun.

All other religions try to address the problem that death presents.

The question to pose here:  Will we rise again?

The believer who is in Christ will not escape the first death but will escape the second one.

Please make a note of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was unique in that he was the only one who did not die a second time.  All of the others, according to Scripture, who were raised up also died once again.

Revelation 20:6

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.

For those who were raised in the first resurrection, they were blessed.  There were many blessings of happiness as noted in the beatitudes:

Matthew 5:1-11

When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying:

The poor in spirit are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Those who mourn are blessed,

for they will be comforted.

The gentle are blessed,

for they will inherit the earth.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed,

for they will be filled.

The merciful are blessed,

for they will be shown mercy.

The pure in heart are blessed,

for they will see God.

The peacemakers are blessed,

for they will be called sons of God.

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.

I believe that John, in the Revelation text, is conveying that there will be great happiness and joy with the first resurrection.

Revelation 14:13

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

We will be raised with a sanctified, holy body, and in that resurrection we will be made perfect with a body that will never deteriorate.  Nothing unclean will ever enter the kingdom of God.  The first resurrection is for God’s people.  The second death has no power or effect over them.

What is the second death?  It is an eternal death.  If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you will receive a body that will be suitable for eternal damnation.

Revelation 20:13-15

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

This means there are some here today that will die and also “die again.”

Revelation 21:8

But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liarstheir share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

The two deaths differ.  The first is physical, and the second is spiritual.  It is eternal and filled with torment.

Revelation 20:10

The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Lord gives a warning to the church about all of this:

Revelation 2:11

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.

In Revelation 20:6, the passage notes that all who follow Jesus Christ are referred to as priests.  Priests, in the Old Testament, were the ones appointed to speaking and carrying out the duties and responsibilities to the people.  We are all called priests, which was a high calling, as we are saints of God who believe.

It is true that we will be raised again after death, but the question is where will we find ourselves.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ will escape the second death, and will fellowship with Jesus Christ for all eternity.


Divorce (continued from series on Marriage and Family)

A summary of Pastor Gus Brown’s message of October 23, 2016

God’s Word will ultimately judge all of us.  In the area of divorce, the church has covered specific areas, but we need to look at the totality of His Word to cover what divorce is…it is a product of a sinful world.  We are seeing more and more of how divorce affects Christian marriages, and we need to begin to look at how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, can be peacemakers.

Divorce brings anger and bitterness to the relationship.  After all is said and done, can the divorce move to the man and woman being friends and not embittering the children who are involved.

Got never intended for married couples to divorce.  We need to look more at what it represents.

Divorce — to loose, to release, let go, dismiss, depart, put away, send away, set at liberty, freedom.

Divorce replaces God’s authority with our own, moral submission.  It is favoring autonomy (self-will, self-governing).

To deny God’s principle in marriage is to remove the requirements pertaining to the marriage relationship.  It opens for selfish desires that can lead to the mistreatment of the other person.

All relationships on earth are governed by God (Leviticus 18).  They are to be defined by His Word.

A man or woman may have a number of people in their life.  There are many relationships within this…mother, aunt, wife, daughter, sister, friend, father, uncle, husband, son, brother, etc.  Leviticus 18 sets the boundaries that are to exist within these relationships.

If God’s law (His Word) or faith is removed from the relationship, then all that is left to sustain the relationship is the frail emotional bond of one’s feelings (a relationship should not be limited to one’s feelings).

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Where feelings and pleasure are the basis of marriage and not God’s Word, then marriage becomes acts of robbery, where each person is in it for the selfish pleasure, which will lead to a break in the relationship when there is nothing new to be gained.  Do you see why a person can feel as though they have been used and unloved?

Malachi 2:14-16

Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.  Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth. If he hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

James 1:19-21

May dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

  1. Guard yourself. Always remain loyal to your wife.
  2. Avoid violence. Never do anything that causes injury or bloodshed. (You will never act in righteousness if you are angry.)
  3. The garment of injustice. Divorce is using the law of Moses to put the spouse away.

Why is divorce allowed?  Divorce is an accommodation that God has made within a world of sin.

While God is holy, He is not unrealistic.

Even if one person is obedient to God within the marriage, it doesn’t mean the other person will cooperate.

God is aware of our helplessness.  The flesh is weak.

God makes provision for those who are not able to measure up to His demands in a given point in life.

The cross itself reveals the principle of God’s tolerance.  God was willing to tolerate the killing of His Son to keep His own law from condemning us to hell.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Look at divorce from God’s eyes.  God hates divorce.

Why did God write Israel a bill of divorce?  It was because of sin and transgression.

Isaiah 50:1

This is what the Lord says: Where is your mother’s divorce certificate that I used to send her away? Or who were My creditors that I sold you to? (Exodus 21:7) Look, you were sold for your iniquities, and your mother was put away because of your transgressions.

God still loves the sinner, but He does not tolerate the sin.  He will not accept those who willingly break the law.

One of things that happens within a divorce is the culmination of no longer allowing the rules to be broken by a spouse.

Jeremiah 3:8-10

I observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart — only in pretense.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

Unfaithfulness, a lack of fear, adultery, false pretenses of love and security reflect a lack of love for God, and it cannot be faked.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another mans wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if he dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again after she has been defiled, because that would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

The grounds of divorce are closely related to Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8-10.

When the woman finds no grace in her husband’s eyes, he or she has stopped being a covenant keeper and image bearer.

Divorce occurs when the relationship falls short of what God is demanding; therefore, God allowing divorce was not evil, but it was dealing with evil.

God knows our journey from beginning to end, He is there to help but does not make our decisions for us.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

The Lord is a Helper.  He helps us to get up.

His promise is to continue to work in our lives.

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.

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

A man and woman in a divorce will stumble, but through God’s grace, there is healing and recovery.  They both rise again.


Who You Are in a Marriage (Marriage Series)

Today’s message summary of September 25, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

For some people who jump into marriage, they assume that it will create happiness.  There is nothing in Scripture that supports that view.  There is a lot that is to be experienced within the relationship, and it is to be focused with the presence of Jesus Christ.

If a person fails to recognize or act with purpose and function within the marriage relationship, there is a loss of identity within your own relationship with God.

Male and female, husband and wife, father and mother…

What is my purpose and function within the marriage relationship?

We are to learn how to function in our respective roles.  For example, the husband is to be the security for the family.

Both the man and the woman are seeking to know their identity–their function in the relationship; however, your true value comes from God Himself.

God provides the direction as to how one functions within the marriage relationship and enables the person to fulfill it.  God provides the groundwork for the relationship in His Word.

Here are questions that may come up throughout the course of a marriage:

Are we equal or do we have the same value?

Do men and women have the same rights, privileges and abilities?

Answer:  We are equal in personhood but not in function.

Do men and women have the same strength and power?  No, but each has special strength within their function.

Adam recognized that there was a difference when he saw Eve.

Genesis 3:16

He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.

Genesis 3:17

And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.

Your identity was established from the beginning:

Genesis 1:27-28

So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Both man and woman have the same authority given by God.  They have the same responsibility.  After God created everything else, He placed the man in the garden of Eden “to work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15).

God was specific as to how Adam was created (Genesis 2:7) and what his work would be (Genesis 2:15, 19-20).

God created Eve differently (Genesis 2:22) and allowed Adam to name His creation (Genesis 2:23). The woman’s function is to be a helper in caring for the creation where there was none before (Genesis 2:20).

Within marriage, it is important for the individual to grow and develop in Christ as we grow in life.  It is the growth and the patience of the two that will nurture the relationship.

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

God allowed Adam to do his job without help for a while.  God and Adam were forming and building a relationship before the woman is created, and He learned that God ruled over him.

After Eve was created, there was a greater establishment of authority and responsibility.  Authority and governing is a responsibility (Genesis 3:12, 16-17). Contrast this with those who become fearful and want to run away from responsibility.  There has to be a mutual relationship.  To be desirous of other things reflects a selfishness that is contrary to what is necessary within a marriage.

Titus 2:1-7

But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.

Colossians 3:19

Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and His ministering angels are for marriage (Hebrews 1:14).

Satan and the host of fallen angels (Ephesians 6:12) and his tools—the love of the world, the lust of the eyes, etc. (1 John 2:15)—are against marriage and seek to destroy it.

Adam and Eve struggled with these desires when they sinned and diverted them from what their responsibilities to each other within the relationship.


Truth and Justice Meet Sin (at the White Throne Judgment)

Today’s message of August 28, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A person has to make a decision as to how one will live for Jesus Christ.  It should be the desire of a person to love and serve others the way that Christ loves each of us.

Truth and justice will meet sin at the Great White Throne Judgment.  At this place, this will be the place where unbelievers will face judgment.  There will be believers present there, but not for judgment.  The believers will be at the judgment seat of Christ.  While believers will have eternity in Jesus Christ, everyone will have to reckon with their sin in judgment.

Numbers 32:23

But if you don’t do this, you will certainly sin against the Lord; be sure your sin will catch up with you.

A person will not be able to pass blame to others for his own sin.

Deuteronomy 24:16

Fathers are not to be put to death for their children or children for their fathers; each person will be put to death for his own sin.

Everyone will also eventually recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord–even if it is not on this side.

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 20:11-13

Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.  Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works.

Why is Jesus on the throne to judge?

John 5:22-23

The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

God entrusted all judgment to His Son, Jesus Christ for the purpose of those to honor Jesus Christ.

In heaven, there is no division.  The angels know.  Division takes place on earth among people.

Jesus said, “I and the father are one” (John 10:30).

At the White Throne Judgment, truth is revealed, and Jesus is the subject of those who are being judged.

John 3:18

Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

What do you trust upon that can assure you of eternal life in Jesus Christ?  His Word is clear about the fate of those that believe in Christ and for those who do not.

“Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them…” (Revelation 20:11).

Some have said that the judgment takes place somewhere in space!  There is no place for those facing judgment by Jesus to run and hide.  There is no escape from His judgment, and no place to hide from the judgment of sin.

Revelation 20:12…the dead great and small will be judged either at the judgment seat of Christ or the Great White Throne Judgment.  There is no favoritism in God.  He will always judge in righteousness, and not according to man’s rules or standards.

Acts 10:34-36

Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all.

Galatians 3:28-29

There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

Romans 3:21-22

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed–attested by the Law and the Prophets–that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction.

 

Luke 18:10-14

 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: God, I thank you that I am not like other peoplerobbers, evildoers, adulterersor even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

The books were (will be) opened.  Another book is opened–the book of life.

The moment of birth, your name is entered.

At the moment of accountability for Christ, your name is entered there.

At the moment of death, failure to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior removes you from the book of life.

Matthew 7:13-14

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Write down your name as if it were to appear in the book of life:

The life of _________________

Does your life emulate that of the life of Jesus Christ?  Remember that you will be judged as to how you are living for Jesus.

John 6:39-40

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Fathers will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

Galatians 2:19-20

For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

John 6:42

They said, Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, I came down from heaven?

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Matthew 16:24-25

Then Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Philippians 3:7-10

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christthe righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christyes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

John 6:28-29, 40

“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, “This is the work of God–that you believe in the One He has sent.”

“For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

You have to decide how to live.  There are two books.  Your life determines where your name will be written.

The books record all of our deeds–both good and bad.  Every word, thought and action is noted.

Stewardship is recorded:

  1. The money given to God–or not given
  2. The time given to God–or not given
  3. The effort in building or destroying His kingdom
  4. The lustful desires
  5. Hatred and unwillingness to forgive others

It is a judgment that is not of human standards (Acts 17:31).

People choose to go to hell by not believing there is a hell.

People can tell themselves that they do not need a Savior (Jesus Christ), and that they are as good or as righteous as He is.

People say, “I’ll take my chances,” and “let God judge my works.”

The righteous will be at the Great White Throne judgment as final witnesses and testimony for the great things that God has done in their lives.

Psalm 69:27-28

Add guilt to their guilt; do not let them share in Your righteousness. Let them be erased from the book of life and not be recorded with the righteous.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ, and died to self to live for Him, or are you in denial and continue to reject Him?

You must make the choice.


Living in The Spirit: Wash, Rinse and Repeat

This message is about putting your best foot forward. The expression “best foot forward” may go back about 500 years, and it even implies having more than two feet, but the phrase has stuck around to mean that a person should “embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto.” [1] It also means to make sure to appear to be at your very best and to try to make a very good impression. The result of this effort is for someone, or even a group of people, to have a very good opinion of you. [2] In this day and age, how important is that?

In order to be recognized, you have to stand out amongst a group of people. You have to be memorable—in a good way. The opposite of this is to be easy dismissed and forgotten. For example, I have performed a few job interviews over the years. Some interviews were fantastic, while others were boring. Others were sad and pitiful. Some were outright hilarious and, at the same time, ridiculous. Here’s a hint: only the fantastic ones resulted in hires.  Some people, on interviews, seem to go out of their way to botch it up.

When you are interviewing for a job, you always want to leave a good impression—even if you think you have no shot at getting the position.

It should be second nature for the believer in Jesus Christ to leave a good impression wherever he or she may go. While the person interviewing for a job makes a conscious effort to look good before the interviewer, a believer should be living in this way as if it were natural or of a second nature. It should be done with an unconscious effort. Why is that? It is because all of the real effort comes from living in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Galatians 5:25 NLT

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Of course, living by the Spirit is often easier said than done. The very act of living by the Spirit is only possible with a faith relationship in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-13 HCSB

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Note that all He requires of a person is to “call on His name.” You don’t have to do anything special. You do not need to get ready to get ready to get ready. He just wants you to call on Him. You simply need to believe that He is the One who died on the cross for you. It is an act of faith. You don’t have to figure everything out first. Just believe in Him. Once you believe in Him, the Holy Spirit will dwell within you and help you to begin to figure everything else out about this living in the Spirit stuff. Believing in Jesus Christ is just the beginning! Once you commit to Him, He fully commits to you, and He does it for all eternity!

Sadly, there are many who remain indifferent or even obstinate about Jesus Christ…even to the point where it is easier to blot Him out of our discussions or our schools or public events. The end result, and it is a trick of Satan, by the way, is that what you can’t see won’t convict you of your sin and your lifestyle. What many people don’t realize is that they are already condemned because of sin. You can’t hide God in a closet. Your condemnation remains in place. You cannot fellowship with God in your sin. There is nothing that can cleanse you from your sin except to believe in Jesus Christ and, as a result, live by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

So what about this cleansing by Jesus Christ? There is a reason why John in the first verse of his gospel refers to Jesus Christ as the living Word. The very act of hearing His Word and responding to it is a cleansing.

So, in order to live by the Spirit, it requires three very important things that will lead to success in this endeavor:

1.) Wash (act of obedience)

2.) Rinse (using clean water; the Living Water that refreshes and cleanses)

3.) Repeat (practice over and over to get better)

First: the washing. Once you declare Christ as Lord of your life, there is an acknowledgment that “old things have passed away (your old life)” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that you’re committing to a new life in Jesus Christ. You will now learn that obedience is a key element to this new life.

Turn to 2 Kings 5. In this episode of Scripture, we will be reading about Naaman and his encounter with the Lord.

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

Note that in order for God to work in your life, you have to acknowledge that He is Lord by obedience to His Word and His voice through the Spirit…even if it doesn’t make sense to you.

He will wash, and you will be cleansed. This washing speaks to us of the power of God’s Word and His presence in your life. This should lead the believer to continually seek His Word for guidance.

The washing of water has cleansing power.

Psalm 119:9-10 KJV

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Next: the rinsing. Rinsing is about the purification of the believer.

There is an eternal promise that God makes to the nation of Israel, but it also has application to the believer who has sinned that repents and goes to Christ for reconciliation:

Ezekiel 36:24-25 KJV

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Hebrews 10:22 KJV

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Living in the Spirit gives the believer a sprinkling, which sanctifies the believer over time as the relationship with Jesus Christ grows and develops. A believer, over time, learns how to sin less and to live more for Christ each and every day. Sanctification sets the believer apart for service, and a willingness to serve Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit generates such activity in the believer that there is growth and progression day after day, month after month, and year after year. All who see the believer can see the difference—be recognizable—be able to stand out amongst a group of people. As the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is distinctive, a believer is to be distinctive.

1 Corinthians 6:11b NIV

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Finally, after the wash and the rinse by Jesus Christ through the Spirit, there is “repeat.” To repeat means that it needs to be practiced over and over again, as Christ cleanses you on a daily basis. Reading God’s Word and remaining obedient to Him requires a consistent effort and a daily practice as He sanctifies the believer.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

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

Living in the Spirit requires a daily acknowledgment of the need for His presence, and it especially includes an honest, daily appraisal and acknowledgment of sin:

1 John 1:9 HCSB

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

This daily progression helps the believer appreciate the profound love of Jesus Christ, and it is reciprocated over and over again. His love is everlasting.

Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His love for us should translate into how we show love for others. That is what makes the person who lives in the Spirit distinctive in a lost and dying world:

John 13:35 ESV

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Galatians 6:1-4 HCSB

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.

In other words, look to yourself in humility before Jesus Christ, and you will see others, and the world, much differently—just as Christ would have you to see it.

Living in the Spirit allows the believer to receive the full benefits of a relationship in Jesus Christ:

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Trust in Jesus Christ today, and He will remove your burden of sin and make you clean in an instant. He created you for the purpose of reaching others with the gospel of salvation, and He will give you what you need to be successful as He remakes you each and every day.

 

1 The meaning and origin of the expression: Put your best foot forward. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/put-your-best-foot-forward.html

2 Put best foot forward. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. (2002). Retrieved July 15 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+best+foot+forward

Copyright © Melvin Gaines