Tag Archives: society

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.


Today’s Society Seeks Protection from Jesus (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of May 7, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

What you say in public can sometimes bring about trouble.  Our society often tries to relegate what is being said (even from the church pulpit) because of how people may respond.

Matthew 14:3-4

For Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her!”

John was speaking publicly about Herod and Herodias’ relationship.

It is not unheard of that people today have filed suit for emotional damages over what someone has had to say.  It is today’s societal norm.

Karl Marx once noted that “religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them like a slave, and more amenable to accept the status quo.

Have we come to a place in today’s society that we accept what is deemed to be the status quo?  Society and government says that we are to accept the status quo.

Jesus informs us that we need to count the cost when we go into ministry.  John the Baptist did not accept the status quo.  He pointed out that Herod and Herodias’ relationship was unlawful before God.

The rule today is that what is popular in society should be acceptable to everyone.

Have we reached a point where there is no room for the teaching of Jesus Christ?  It is hardly a popular view in today’s society.

John 8:36-37

Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you.

Matthew 11:12

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.

Before Martin Luther, the church was very involved with government.  They were considered one and the same.  The pope had to recognize the king in a kingdom.  In many of today’s Arab countries, the government and the religious group are essentially the same entity.

Modern proponents of the separation of church and state, on the religious side, will fall back on Luther’s doctrine of two kingdoms.  This marked the beginning of the modern concept of the separation of church and state.

Anabaptists took this a step further. They were in agreement with Luther that there were two kingdoms.  They agreed that the two should be separate.  They held that no baptized member of the church should vote, serve in the military, nor hold a public office.  Why?  They were part of God’s kingdom, and the government was the other kingdom.

Ultimately, we don’t need this separation from society.  There is a huge need for believers to be actively involved in the political field.

In the life of the believer, there are two authorities:

First, there is one representing claims made by government.  You can challenge views and prevail or not, or bring about change.

Secondly, God is the one who represents the church.  While the church has authority, God has the highest authority (God’s Word).

Acts 4:19-20, 5:29, 16:4-5

Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God; you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.

As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Romans 13:1-3

Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval.

Churches have found themselves in court. Property, persons hired for employment, church discipline and employees who follow Jesus Christ have been affected in their own workplace.

The kingdom of God is being advanced by force because of the opposition that it faces.  Scripture reminds us of the “good fight” and of the need for “the armor of God.”

Matthew 11:2-6

Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”

Matthew 10:22

You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The verse in Matthew 11:12 about the forceful advance of the kingdom (suffering of violence) notes the ongoing struggle of those who are following Jesus Christ:

  • You, yourself, are grabbing hold of the truth, or to the kingdom
  • You are pulling at it
  • You do so vigorously and energetically–pushing towards the kingdom

Anything that you desire will often require some effort.  You will really have to work at it.  When John the Baptist preached, this is when the real fight ensued between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world.

Luke 16:16-17

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”

Are you really running after God and His kingdom? While today’s society will tell you it is not worth your time, press ahead and go after Him.  When you serve Him, He will give you the energy that you need in order to be successful.


Today’s Society Seeks Protection from Jesus

Today’s message summary of April 30, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

We live in a society that values the right to vote for its pleasures.  Pleasures will win every time.  Society holds that the only place we are to find Jesus Christ is within the church.

In contrast with the message of Jesus Christ to “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” (Matthew 28:19) our societal focus is to prevent this from occurring.

What does our society value today?

  • Freedom of sexual expression and immorality
  • Freedom to use profanity
  • Freedom to use alcohol and drugs
  • Freedom to destroy that which is good for all

Karl Marx’s view on religion:

  • It’s irrational
  • Religion is a delusion and avoids reality
  • Religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them servile (like that of a slave or servant) and more amenable to accept the status quo

The church, and Christians, have moved to a place of acceptance of the status quo in America.  It is not really challenged even within some of our own behaviors and actions.

God’s standards and principles have never changed.  He still challenges believers with His standards of obedience and living according to His will.

Have we reached a point in which there is no room for the teaching of Jesus?

John 8:37

I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you.

Why is it that society today deems the use of the words of Jesus as being an attack?  Simply, the truth of the message of Jesus Christ has the power to set people free from bondage.  (There is virtually no opposition to any other religious practice.)

Proverbs notes that “out of the heart comes the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  Satan does not care whether or not you go to church, but he is concerned over whether or not you are focused on the Word of God.  The constant focus on God’s Word is what refines you in your practice of following Jesus Christ.  God’s Word challenges your way of thinking, and often provides guidance with correction.  You need to have the desire to seek Him for yourself.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Because of society desiring to exclude Jesus Christ, have we lost our blessing?

Psalm 33:10-12

The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh–the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

Jesus was warning Jesus to “leave this place” of Jerusalem (Luke 13:31).  He was warned by the people about Herod (who represents the government), but Jesus told them that He would continue His work.

Luke 13:32-33

He said to them, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look! I’m driving out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete My work. Yet I must travel today, tomorrow, and the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!

As the kingdom of God tries to go forth, there are those who are trying to keep it at bay.  Society has tried to put limits on the things of Christianity.  What you are to see here is the determination that is needed to keep moving the church of God forward.  We are not to give up easily, and we are not to accept what society tells us.  At some point, someone has to stand up and tells others about Jesus Christ, no matter what others may say.

It is either following human authority, or God’s authority.

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everyday there are people who want to push back against the teachings of Christ (Mark 3:6; Luke 19:47).  It is little wonder that the church is dying in America.

What are we facing today?  A downward trend in society, because we refuse to accept the truth, which comes from the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:6

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

People are in need of ministry and healing, no matter what society tries to dictate.  There will always be a need for people to experience your love and compassion, and as a result, the love of Jesus Christ.

It is the kindness of the people that draws them to the love of Jesus Christ.  We are to keep going today, tomorrow and the next day, and then watch God open the doors of the hearts of many.  It is what we must do for the glory of God.


The Importance of Your Name

Message summary for sermon of June 15, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

How do you value your name?  What’s in your name?  What is its history?  Does it mean more to you or to anyone else than just a signature on a check?

In today’s world, men will form their manhood or fatherhood according to how society has formed it, or you will view it from a biblical perspective, and you can be assured that your children will recognize it.  What legacy will you leave with your children?

Your name should be considered valuable and something that can be passed on to your children.  Does the honor of your name proclaim who you are in Jesus Christ?  Is it valuable to the persons you are giving it to?  Can they see the value?

In America, there is such a strong push for individuality and there is less of a respect for those that came before us.

Your name speaks of who you are.  A name should mean more to you than just earning a paycheck.  It has a value to it that begins with giving recognition to God’s name for what it is.  He is the one to be honored.  While you may not think much of your own name, God’s name is indeed special and He is to be glorified.

Ezekiel 36:22-23

22 “Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will honor the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh”—the declaration of the Lord God—“when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.

 

In the same way that God is our glory in that He created us, the fathers today are the children’s glory.  The child honors the father because of how proud he or she is of him for his example.

God will (and has) shown Himself as all-powerful for His own namesake.

Psalm 138:2

I will bow down toward Your holy temple

and give thanks to Your name

for Your constant love and truth.

You have exalted Your name

and Your promise above everything else.

 

God’s Word is as good as His Name.  His Name is as good as His Word.

Your word is as valuable as your name.  Your word is no good if your name is no good before others.

God reflects his value of upholding the name of a man.

Numbers 27:1-7

1 The daughters of Zelophehad approached; Zelophehad was the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh from the clans of Manasseh, the son of Joseph. These were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 2 They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and the entire community at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, 3 “Our father died in the wilderness, but he was not among Korah’s followers, who gathered together against the Lord. Instead, he died because of his own sin, and he had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan? Since he had no son, give us property among our father’s brothers.”

5 Moses brought their case before the Lord, 6 and the Lord answered him, 7 “What Zelophehad’s daughters say is correct. You are to give them hereditary property among their father’s brothers and transfer their father’s inheritance to them.

 

Are you willing to stand up for your father’s name to honor Him?

Proverbs 3:1-4

1 My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

2 for they will bring you

many days, a full life, and well-being.

3 Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 Then you will find favor and high regard

in the sight of God and man.

 

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be chosen over great wealth;

favor is better than silver and gold.

 

Ecclesiastes 7:1

A good name is better than fine perfume,

and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.

 

Your name, as a righteous name, permeates the air when it is proclaimed.  It is a welcome sound like a welcome scent in the air.

Fathers need to be the example that their children will see in how one brings honor to your name.

Deuteronomy 22:13-21

13 “If a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her, and comes to hate her, 14 and accuses her of shameful conduct, and gives her a bad name, saying, ‘I married this woman and was intimate with her, but I didn’t find any evidence of her virginity,’ 15 the young woman’s father and mother will take the evidence of her virginity and bring it to the city elders at the gate. 16 The young woman’s father will say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as a wife, but he hates her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying: “I didn’t find any evidence of your daughter’s virginity,” but here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ They will spread out the cloth before the city elders. 18 Then the elders of that city will take the man and punish him. 19 They will also fine him 100 silver shekels and give them to the young woman’s father, because that man gave an Israelite virgin a bad name. She will remain his wife; he cannot divorce her as long as he lives. 20 But if this accusation is true and no evidence of the young woman’s virginity is found, 21 they will bring the woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city will stone her to death. For she has committed an outrage in Israel by being promiscuous in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from you.

 

In this passage, the father’s name is being discredited.  There is a value of a person’s name within Scripture when you look at the principles of life as presented.  Here, it was the father’s responsibility to take care of the daughter, but his values are being attacked here.  Today, the values of whether a woman is a virgin don’t mean as much, but it is relevant to see the level of importance in honor of proving that the standards were upheld, and it was all about the honor of his name.

1 Timothy 5:8

But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

 

When you live in such a way where your children are ashamed of you, it will only cause a myriad of problems for them.

A lot of self-esteem problems have been based upon their name and where it comes from (the father).  The name must have an example where we are worthy of respect.  When we call ourselves “Christian” there should be a respect and honor of Jesus that comes with it.

The name of the family must be treasured, and fathers have the opportunity to honor their name by standing and living in integrity.

Proverbs 17:6

Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly,

and the pride of sons is their fathers.

 

Fathers, remember the importance of how you raide your children and set the example that your children can emulate in their own walk of fauth in Jesus Christ.  They will honor you when they remain consistent in Christ as they bring ongoing honor to your name in how they live.


Love Will Endure to the End

This is a complete text of the Sunday morning message Love Will Endure to the End presented on April 20, 2008 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron, Ohio.

If there is nothing else that you can say about the world that we live in today, you can conclude without much debate from anyone else that we are living in a time of great uncertainty.  The news from the neighborhood to the greater community, from Ohio, and across the nation is very relevant to us, and it has mostly been of a dubious nature.  The instability of our economy coupled with demands for greater taxes, massive job losses along with people being displaced because they are losing their homes have created a new age of nomadic movement and introspection as to what will happen next.  We are also now seeing the bad fruits of the undereducated in our society because of the increase of property crimes and armed robberies, along with illegal drug activity that can now be found in varying degrees in every single community.  Notice that these are matters that are compounded with the rapidly accelerating moral decline in our society, where it is becoming more commonplace and “accepted” to have open discussions about sex, and there are more reported cases of sexual deviancy that are being brought out in the open.  The moral standards of right and wrong are no longer absolute in our society.  The lines between the two have been blurred, or they have been altogether flip-flopped.  We are living in the age of uncertainty, and its nickname is the Age of Deception.

With all of the uncertainty that is ever-present today, the world may be bracing itself for the next disaster or calamity.  For those of us who have the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the insight of His Word through the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that is going on today that should be peculiar to us.  We need to take the events of today seriously and look beyond the physical nature of today’s political and economic environment.  Look at these reminders in Scripture as to how we can be thrown off course and pay attention to the wrong things because of the appearance of present and future events:

Matthew 24:4-12

Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.  You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines (or epidemics) and earthquakes in various places.  All these events are the beginning of birth pains.  “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you.  You will be hated by all nations because of My name.  Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another.  Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.

The root of all of these visible events, which include the earthquakes, the famines, people starving to death, the crime and the hatred of people against people, has an underlying element of the unseen – it is the presence of deception.  These are the deceptive practices of Satan and his numerous evil associates.  Please note that it is not only Satan who will be attempting to deceive us, but anyone who does not follow the Lord…

Ephesians 6:12

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.

The level of deception is enormous in its scope is ever-present today (in the news and in the media), and it will intensify as time goes along because we will see that many people who are peaceful and who preach tolerance will turn away from love (as noted in Matthew 24-10) and will become argumentative and contentious because of what is happening in the world, and there will be even more deception of the truth.  There will be extreme paranoia, mistrust will be rampant, and lawlessness will be prevalent through this day and in the future.  Those that do not follow the Lord will be empowered by Satan himself to promote the contention and deception in this world.

Should we be concerned that there will be believers in this group of people that will be deceived and that will turn from love, peace and the truth?  Jesus does not make a stipulation that it will only be unbelievers that will be deceived.  It will be those that do not hold to the truth that they know and that will turn from the faith.  The very act of taking offense (as noted earlier) is to be provoked or aggravated into a response.  When Jesus speaks of the love of many growing cold, it is referring to how believers will be moved away from the faith because they will be provoked or aggravated away from what they had been taught to be the truth and in following Jesus Christ.  What we must remember (and always realize) is that it is not in our own strength that we can remain true to Jesus Christ, but in the strength and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot resist provocation on our own accord.  Deception of the believers is an issue today and is likely to occur in the future, but this is nothing new.

Deuteronomy 13:1-4

“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.  You must follow the Lord your God and fear Him.  You must keep His commands and listen to His voice; you must worship Him and remain faithful to Him.”

Matthew 24:24

False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

If you look up the word “elect” in the dictionary, one of the definitions under the noun caption will state that the elect are people specially chosen or favored by God, including those chosen for salvation.

Jesus is warning us that we need not look at the signs of the events of this world that take our focus off of the Lord.  The Scripture states that God Himself is love, and when we turn away from the love of God and remove our focus from Him.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.  Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; Is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The test that we have in these times is the ability to love one another, in spite of what we see, and to persevere and endure whatever is before us.

James 1:2-4

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Matthew 24:13

But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.

The purpose of the endurance of the trials to focus on the Lord is to teach us and give us hope in the Lord in the face of the world’s turmoil.

Romans 15:4-6

For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope.  Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you agreement with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

As the Scripture states, and this is where it all begins and ends, this is a message of endurance of the hard times and the difficult times, and also a message of encouragement when we persevere in keeping our focus on Jesus.  The powers of Satan have been, at present are, and will continue to be successful in getting believers off of the focus of Jesus Christ, which will only add to the turmoil of the world as it exists today and promises to be in the future.  God challenges us as individuals, and as a body (in the body of Christ) to be like-minded and in agreement that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that we are to glorify God and rejoice together that he has the way of escape for us because we follow Him!  There will be those who will oppose us because Satan will power the opposition, but God has and will prevail over Satan.  The great deceiver wants us to believe otherwise, but we must fight the deception, and hold onto the truth and love of Christ!

You must become your own advocate to determine what is true in your life, and what is not true.  There is no one else that can do this successfully for you other than you.  Look at what the prophet John states about love and deception and how our focus must be persistent in following God:

1 John 4:1-6

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.  But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.  You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God.  Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us.  From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

To follow God means to love God and to love one another.  We cannot allow our love to run cold as to do so is to turn away from God and to be disobedient to his Word.  God is the essence of love and we must strive to live in His love and remain in His Word.

1 John 4:7-12

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  God’s love was revealed among us in this way:  God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

Jesus also stated that to love God and love others accordingly is the greatest of the commandments in the law – the very foundation and principle of our faith.

Matthew 22:37-40

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

It’s time to get serious about how we respond to God and His Word.  We must progress and endure beyond the measure of a mere childlike and emotional faith.  We are to now move from liquid nutrition to solid food in our understanding of God’s Word.  We now must actively seek Him through His Word, and prepare to share His Word to others, for we will indeed persevere, and we will prevail as we follow  Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:8, 11, 13

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines.


Youth Sunday: How To Be a Good Christian in Today’s Society

Today’s message from our youth team: How to be a good Christian in today’s society:

There are many things that people will do to distract you from focusing on God. God is your immediate help when you pray to Him. He will help you with whatever problems you have.

Ephesians 4:17-5:11 (HCSB)
Living the New Life

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

5 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4 Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5 For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.

Light versus Darkness

6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Proverbs 4:5
Get wisdom, get understanding;
don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth.

Proverbs 29:27
An unjust man is detestable to the righteous,
and one whose way is upright
is detestable to the wicked.

The Lord will honor you when you stay righteous, even when others may be against you. Never be ashamed of God or the gospel of Christ, for there is power in its Word. In times of difficulty, God is Your rescuer.

Listen to God’s Word and the wisdom that comes from it. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Stay active in God’s Word and remain holy.


What is the Role of Today’s Church?

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Does the church stand behind what it teaches? Does it hold to the authority of Scripture? If the church is to remain relevant, it must continue to focus on the importance of Jesus Christ in its ministry.

The church is the continuation of Jesus’ ministry. It is a ministry that serves its people. The Holy Spirit gives direction for those who are serving in the church. The church must also recognize that change and evolution of society and its values. With that, the teaching of Scripture does not change with society. Sin is still sin as it always was, and is to be recognized as such. The church must stand firm in God’s Word.

When society is troubled, the church is also troubled out of concern for its people. The church must deal with the troubles in society.

Nehemiah 2:17
So I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned down. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.”

Do you see the trouble that we are in with people who are fleeing from the church? Do you see how men are not taking responsibilities for their children and families? Do you see how fornication affects our society? Do you understand that God will provide for anyone who is willing to serve?

Some people will refuse to serve because they refuse to see the troubles in society…even in our own homes. There is less safety and security all around but you need to acknowledge those who set out not to do good but to do evil. There is calamity everywhere, but it can’t be ignored. Unfortunately, some people do not care if they live in their sin and in its disgrace. The persons in the church need to develop a heart of love and concern for those in society who are in sin and out of fellowship. Do you weep for others because God’s Word is not being followed? We cry because of the danger and hardship that people put themselves into because of their sin.

Psalm 119:136
My eyes pour out streams of tears
because people do not follow Your instruction.

Nehemiah 2:3
…and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

Ezekiel 9:4
“Pass throughout the city of Jerusalem,” the Lord said to him, “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the detestable practices committed in it.”

The church is to be actively involved in all areas of life where there is a need for service.

The people of the church must look at the problems of society and seek what needs to be accomplished.

The church needs to train the people to do the work to provide solutions to the problems.

Look at the work of Jesus Christ to understand what the work of the church is. Jesus came to be about His Father’s business, just as the people of the church are to do. For example, Jesus took on the troubles of Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:7-10
7 All who saw it began to complain, “He’s gone to lodge with a sinful man!”

8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!”

9 “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

The difference between those who are lost and those who are saved is often the troubles of the world are a negative influence in the non-believers life. Sin always brings about troubles in life. God is always seeking those who have troubles in their life. The people in trouble are always seeking solutions to their problems, but they may not readily understand that it is Christ who is the answer to their problems. They must see the people of the church willing to serve and help those in trouble and have a heart to save a dying world. It is a lifelong commitment.

Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life —a ransom for many.”

The model for the church is found here:

1 Peter 2:21
For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps.

Jesus mingled with the people, as the people of the church are to interact with people in the world. There is a lesson in listening to the Lord and a blessing when you are obedient and trust in Him:

Luke 5:1-11
As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat.

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”

6 When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” 9 For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!” 11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.

We are to interact with people who are not healthy. We are to seek those who are in need of guidance and who want to be helped.

Luke 5:27-32
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” 28 So, leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow Him.

29 Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for Him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

We are to meet the needs of the people where they are. It requires trusting in God to go beyond your own human reasoning to accomplish this. It takes faith and trusting in Him.

Luke 9:11-17
11 When the crowds found out, they followed Him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.

12 Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

13 “You give them something to eat,” He told them.

“We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they said, “unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For about 5,000 men were there.)

Then He told His disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces.

The people of the church must have the will and desire to do what God would have them to do, and by trusting in Him, it will be accomplished.