Tag Archives: spirit

Why Was Jesus in Human Form? (Number 2 of a Series – The First and Second Adam)

Today’s message summary of December 10, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Jesus came into human form to fulfill the role of the Second Adam.  Both Jesus and Adam did not have earthly fathers.  Adam, in the same way, was created without sin.

God made the covenant with Himself through Abraham to multiply him throughout the earth.  God, through Jesus Christ, made the new covenant with His people to provide salvation.

Jesus came in human form to fulfill what God had declared and to be with His people.

Isaiah 7:14

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

Genesis 3:15

I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Luke 1:30-33

Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

His name will be Jesus, the Son of the most High.  He will have the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob (2 Samuel 7:16, 29).

Jesus was in Joseph’s family line (Luke 3:31; Matthew 1:1, 6; Acts 2:29-30, 13:22-23, 36-39)

Acts 2:29-32

“Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.”

Note that David, who was a king, was promised that someone would follow him who was always going to be on the throne.

Jesus is a real king.  He is King of kings.

1 Timothy 6:15-16

God will bring this about in His own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; no one has seen or can see Him, to Him be honor and eternal might. Amen.

Acts 13:35-39

Therefore he also says in another passage, You will not let your Holy One see decay. For David, after serving Gods purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed, but the one God raised up did not decay. Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.

Revelation 17:14

These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

God will always honor His Word.

While many will wonder how God could allow Himself to become a human (in its flesh and frailty, with pain and suffering), we have His Word that explains it.  It is a fulfillment of His promise for us.

We will be able to identify Jesus with the marks on His glorified body.  He is a Spirit.  Why does He need a human body?

John 4:24

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

What is a spirit? We really can’t explain it. But this God, who is a spirit, chose to put on a fleshly body.  The fleshly body allows for us to see Him, His life, His works, and His accomplishments

1 John 1:1-3

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of lifethat life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to uswhat we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus became that which was something that was seen and that he existed.  He was seen as a person, and not as a myth.

How do you touch a spirit?  Can you touch it?

John 1:11-14

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Your new birth in Jesus Christ does not come from man.  The first birth was from humans, and the second birth comes from God.

The Word, Jesus Christ, took on flesh according to God’s will.

Spiritual life comes only from God; therefore, the life of Jesus could only come from God.

Luke 1:34-35

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

As man was involved, there would be a sin nature because of Adam’s sin.  That is why all of man is now born in sin and with a sinful nature.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:21-23

For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

1 John 3:5

You know that he was revealed so that he might take away sins, and there is no sin in him.

Hebrews 9:26

Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Jesus was created in every way like a human being, except without sin.  It allowed for Him to be our High Priest who would represent all of us and to go before God without blemish to be our sacrifice.  Only in the flesh could Jesus suffer what Adam did.

He made His dwelling among us. He wanted to be seen by all of humanity in order that people would see how he lived (1 John 1:1).

Hebrews 2:18

For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Genesis 3:8-11, 23

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, Where are you?

And he said, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.

Then he asked, Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

 

So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Both Adam and Jesus Christ had experience separation from God.  Adam experienced it in the Garden (and he was banished from the garden), and Jesus did so on the cross when He took on the sin of everyone.  There had to be even a sense of loss for both at that moment.

Matthew 27:45-46

From noon until three in the afternoon[a] darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni? that is, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

After His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus restores all of mankind, and what Adam had lost because of sin.  You and I today, while we have broken fellowship with God, can experience a renewal of fellowship with Him because of forgiveness.  In His flesh, Jesus Christ restores us in order that we can have fellowship with God.  One day, we will see Him with our own eyes!

1 John 3:1-3

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called Gods childrenand we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didnt know him. Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.

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The Church and Salvation: The Teaching of God’s People

Today’s message summary of October 22, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

After the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, there was a period of 400 years where there was no prophet from God on the scene, and man was left to himself as to how he would practice his faith.  During this 400 years, you would see different things occur, but the pursuit of religion was left to man’s own accord.

The Sadducees relied upon natural law and not upon any teachings or writings.  Even today, the issue is the lack of good, sound teaching of God’s Word.  We are in a society that receives very little education, especially in reasoning and understanding.

The church originally started schools for the purpose of teaching people how to read and write.  It was to help people be able to read and understand what they were reading, and it was to be able to gain something from God’s Word.

Hosea 4:6 KJV

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

How well are we being taught?  Do we believe what we are being taught?

Teaching should not be just a repetition of what the teacher has said, but to go further into seeking the information that has been presented.

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.

Many people will sit in church and hear the Word, but if it is not taught and the people decide it is not to be believed or understood, then it is just a waste of time.

One of the obvious things that one can observe in a believer’s life is a lack of progression.  It is from a lack of faith.  It comes down to trusting God more than just trusting yourself.  The Word of God is to be taught to help to develop you more into the type of person that God wants you to be.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

Why would one go to a doctor for advice and leave without taking it?  Paul was not holding back in any way his knowledge of God.  It is important that the people of God may grow and mature with the proper instruction of God’s Word.

What happened during those 400 years?  There were groups that emerged:

The Essenes followed Greek philosophies that existed two centuries before Christ emerged.  They were a Jewish sect.  Note that their belief in how souls were transported was void of God’s teaching.

The Scribes emerged as a continuation of the group that existed during David and Solomon’s time.  They were known for recording words and also for accounting.  They set forth and maintain order when it came to how things were to be accomplished, and yet there was no prophet that provided additional inspiration.

The Sadducees did not believe in death and resurrection of the dead, nor angels or spirits.  They only believed in the present life they were living.  (Much like those who lack belief are today.  There are many who believe that there is nothing after this life.)

Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

The Pharisees are believed to have emerged from the Maccabeans, and they kept up with the writings of Moses, but they also infused a number of new rules within their way of living that ultimately became much more important than that of God’s Word.

Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

Luke 11:42

“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:52

“Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge! You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”

God desires for sincere worship and praise before Him.

There is something wrong with the number of churches that are existence today in that there is hardly any teaching.  Even worse, we are teaching the precepts of man rather than those from God.

The ministry of Jesus began with teaching.  Questions and answers follow this instruction.  There is learning that is taking place.

Luke 2:46

After three days, they found Him (Jesus at age 12) in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Matthew 4:17

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”

Luke 4:14-15

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone.

A good teacher must also be a good listener.  He or she will always listen to the students in order to know what needs to be imparted.

Note that there was a 400-year gap before Jesus was teaching the people.  Many people were hungry for His words of instruction.

The church, as a whole, must return to teaching.  Teaching will either draw your nearer to Jesus, or it will chase you away.  Either way, the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word must be shared.

Our churches should be overflowing–not because of preachers who entertain, but because God’s Word is being proclaimed.

If a person comes to church to do anything other than hear God’s Word, it becomes idolatry.

The Spirit must be present in order that the teacher can be used to advance the will of the Father.  A teacher must recognize the evidence of God’s presence in order to teach well.  Jesus’s own ministry was not independent of the Father and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16-17

After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!

John 4:34

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

John 5:19-20

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works that these so that you will be amazed.

2 John 1:9

Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

God is a teacher.  It is the very character and nature of God.

Deuteronomy 4:12-14

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets. At that time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to follow in the land you are about to cross into and possess.

Isaiah 48:17

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Jeremiah 32:33

They have turned their backs to Me and not their faces. Though I taught them time and time again, they do not listen and receive discipline.

The instruction that we receive is to help us in obedience and to follow and live according to His will.  That, ultimately, is what is best for us.

Jesus’s teaching is to help us to see something far greater from His instruction than just mere words.

John 7:46

The police answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”


Why Should Christians Care About the Church?

Today’s message summary of July 2, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church gets criticized in many different ways.  People who attend will often say that it can be boring.  Please understand that, when you love someone, it is not boring.

Other criticisms include that the church is old-fashioned or not modern enough.  Note that the world who never go to church will offer their own critiques of church that people who do attend church will agree with.  Church is not just for Christians–it is for anyone who desires to know more about Jesus Christ.

The church experience should be one where Christians really love the church.

Ephesians 5:23

…for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of the body.

One of the biggest issues about loving the church is missing the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.  We serve a sovereign God.  We have to believe it along with simply stating it.

Ephesians 1:22

And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church.

Colossians 1:18

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

You are to love the church because Jesus Christ leads it.  It is a place to come to learn and grow, and yes, to be sharpened.

Ephesians 5:25-27

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

The church’s purpose is to help the people of God holy.  It is done through the work of the Holy Spirit, and He is the Teacher within the church about holiness.

If the church does not get involved with you, the relationship between you and the church is only superficial.  Your participation in church allows you to hear the wisdom of others through God’s guidance.

Ephesians 5:29-30

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

Another reason to love the church is that Jesus Christ and the church are one.

Ephesians 5:32

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The church is the bride of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:2

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

The church is like Eve–Adam’s bride.  Eve came out of Adam (Genesis 2:22).

Romans 11:36

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.

When it comes to The Trinity, we have to learn to dance with God.  The Church was designed by God to be a dance studio to teach us to stay in step with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father.  We are dancing with all three.

Dancing and relating to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is no simple thing.  No one gets the hang of it quickly or permanently.  Why?  Because there is always a new step you have to learn and another turn added within the dance.  With all of this, you still will have to follow His leading.

It seems difficult, if not impossible, but the Holy Spirit is a great teacher.

John 14:17

He is the Spirit of truth.  The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

Without God, it seems wrong, or even foolish, and even sometimes downright stupid to dance with Jesus.  But you know better because you know Him and trust in Him.

Do you really know the Holy Spirit and understanding His voice?  His presence?

The church carries us through the pain and darkness of our lives.  It is there to be the light when there is no light.  It is there to provide encouragement.  It is there for us until we learn to dance smoothly with Jesus, and become actively involved in church life.

Once you become more active in church life, then you really will begin to grow.  Not just within the four walls of the building, but when you are living for Christ everywhere you go.

The church is a partial fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth.  It serves as a primary agent of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:13

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

It is in the church the inward disciplines with outward expressions of spiritual maturity take place.  The church is where you learn to be sharpened.

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.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

We begin to grow in the church:

Because one is able to excise the fruit of the Spirit.  It does not mean one is mature, but it is a lifelong process.

Galatians 5:22-23a

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

True transformation determines our growth, but our desire is to look more like Jesus Christ in our everyday actions.


Prayer: What Difference Does It Make? (1 John 5:14) [Part 7 of a Series]

Today’s message summary of May 21, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Today, we will discuss prayer but we also want to be able to learn how to listen to God in the midst of prayer.

Elijah went into hiding because he learned that his life was in danger because of his efforts to remove the idols of the day from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel.  There, the Lord spoke to him…

1 Kings 19:9-18

He entered a cave there and spent the night.

Elijahs Encounter with the Lord

Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?

He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.

Then He said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lords presence.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, he replied, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and theyre looking for me to take my life.

Then the Lord said to him, Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram.  You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.  Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu.  But I will leave 7,000 in Israelevery knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.

There are many points here, but we will cover the following point relevant to listening to God when we pray:

Identifying God’s voice.  Many of us can recognize specific voices, such as a mother, brothers or sisters, or even children and parents, and that is because of your personal knowledge and exposure.  In contrast, we often can struggle hearing God’s voice.  Please note that God has never stopped speaking to his church.  Our struggle is the amount of time we spend trying to hear Him.  We face many distractions that keep us from hearing Him.  Consider that Elijah, a very devout man, was in a place where he had become frightful even though he was a man full of faith and had spoken to God on a regular basis.  You would not necessarily expect that he would struggle here as he did.

God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  We can ask ourselves the same question.  Even when we are speaking to God, sometimes we cannot hear him because of how our fears can drown out the voice of God.

Can you identify the voice of God?  Are you able to decipher His voice over the voices of others?

John 10:2-5

The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they dont recognize the voice of strangers.

The sheep know His voice.  If you know Jesus Christ, you can identify His voice.  It is often, however, that we, as His sheep, will willingly listen to strangers that lead us to sin.  Other voices that are contrary to God will try to drown out God’s voice.  We can often be easily distracted.  We need to be intentional in pursuing the very things that God directs us to in order to succeed.

We can hear the voice of God actually answering previously unanswered prayers.

Colossians 3:15-16

And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

And dont get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ.

What is really in your heart?  Is it the Word of God or is it something else?  What permeates from you?  Is the Word of God something that comes naturally for you?

When you hear a voice of condemnation or one that promotes depression, it is not the voice of God.  We are to decipher those voices of the world versus those that come from God.

How do we know when God is communicating to us?  In biblical times, God did so in many different ways.  He can use these means even today.  He communicates to us through our friends or even our worldly co-workers.  In order to hear what He is saying, we must be attentive to this communication and live intentionally for Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:6-9

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

Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

These are three supernatural and spontaneous events that occurred.  Notice that Elijah is trying to hear God’s voice through all of the noise but it was only when things were quiet and still was when he heard it.

It is important for each one of you, in our busyness, that we have to be still and focus on His voice.  It is in our quiet moments when we can hear Him best.

When we are praying to Him, what would it look like if we were silent?  What you will hopefully hear is your quiet conversation with Him and His response as you learn to read and meditate on His Word on a daily basis.


Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 5 of a Series)

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

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

We have previously discussed a number of different postures of prayer, and each of these have helped us to identify how we approach God in prayer.  Today we will look at an analysis of written prayers in the Bible.

There is a prayer in the Bible that we often recite. It is found in Matthew, Chapter 6:

Matthew 6:5-15

Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver is from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you a well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

 

This passage was part of the Sermon on the Mount.  It was an extensive message that covers four chapters in Matthew (5-8), and this section in Scripture is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  That reference is not really correct in that the Lord Himself would not have prayed such a prayer.  A closer reference to this passage for our purposes would be “How to Pray,” as it a means for how we should be praying to Him.

We know that Jesus Christ prayed often, and He prayed throughout His ministry…even as He was on the cross.  He provides the example for each of us as to the importance of frequent prayer, and He went away and prayed in secret.

When it comes to prayer, you should ask yourself how long you pray, especially when you occupy your time to other things.  How long we pray may be an indicator as to how deep your relationship is with God.

Jesus warns not to behave like the Pharisees, who were hypocritical in their practice of faith.  We must also guard ourselves in this practice, as well.  Our church practice is to go beyond religiosity.  We are to fellowship with one another and live out or faith everywhere we go.

Jesus said that you should pray publicly if your intent is just to be noticed, then that is hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with praying publicly, for it is perfectly good to pray over your meal in a restaurant or to speak to a person as the Spirit leads you, but the answer to this open prayer should be a humble approach of prayer in a private setting.  We are to move away from people and pray in secrecy.

The result of your prayers in secret is the reward that you receive from God in your humility and sincerity.

Do you pray for someone’s healing, or a job for yourself, or even wisdom?  Whatever the prayers are, they are to be specific and not so general as to lose their meaning.  Repeating words over and over does not magnify the significance of your prayer.  Jesus tells the people at the sermon to not be like the worshipers of Baal or the Gentiles who were looking to things other than God.  Jesus wants us to pray in specificity.  Know who you are praying to!

It is imperative that we continue our study of theology, because the more that we learn about theology, the more that it impacts our words and actions about God.  This has an important effect on how we approach prayer.

God indeed knows our needs before we ask of Him.  He is involved with every single detail of your life.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.  Since He already knows what we need, will he give it to us? It is important to distinguish needs from wants.

Psalm 38:9

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from you.

 

Psalm 139:7

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?

 

God provides what we need in accordance to His will.  He answers the prayers of a humble heart and provides blessing as we learn more about Jesus Christ.

Our prayers to Him are to acknowledge that He is ever-present and that He is holy.  Your prayers are to reflect that you recognize His holiness.  Seeking God and uplifting His name is a contrast to uplifting ourselves or even the name of Satan.

His kingdom is a present reality, and He notes that you have dual citizenship on earth and in heaven (Ephesians 2:19).  Our prayers should reflect the reverence of Christ as our coming King.

God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything in this world.  God’s providence is that he will accomplish everything according to His will.

Everything that Jesus accomplished was done according to God’s will and His obedience to God.

We should be confident, in our prayers, that His will be done for all to see.

Your prayers reflect that God is the One who provides for you, and not so much that you rely upon yourself (Proverbs 30:8).

Prayers of forgiveness are to be common in that we are to ask Christ for forgiveness of sin, and that this same approach is to be given to others who sin against us.  This is the essence of Christlike behavior (Romans 13:7-8).

When we ask God to not lead us into temptation, He responds.  He will keep us from those things that are more than what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God wants to see each one of us be filled with the Spirit in prayer, and to live according to His instruction as to how we are to pray.  We are to pray to seek a greater understanding of Him and that we will live according to His will.  Amen.


A Successful Family Life

Today’s message summary of December 4, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A successful family is something that needs to be worked on.  It can be difficult at times, and there is no manual that is offered that gives clues how to do it.

Every person within the family has a divine purpose, and it is up to the family members to help sharpen each other.

It is better, by far, to grow healthy children into healthy adults than it is to repair old men and women.  The child raised in the Lord has a good opportunity to come up and succeed.

Dreams require sacrifice if they are going to become a reality.  Children are to be taught how to make sacrifices.  They need to be instructed how to give to others instead of just receive things.

Without sacrifice and dedication, a child will ultimately not go anywhere.  Making sacrifices are a requirement for those who desire a good education.

There is a threefold development that has to be taught within a family that are critical to successful living:

  1. Mind development (intellect, psychology)
  2. Body development (physical appearance)
  3. Reproductive drive (sexual desire)

This needs to be instructed within the family as there will be a number of voices from the outside that will try to shape or influence how a person views these issues.

The most important part of this that is developed last (that should be developed first) is the spiritual development of the child and the family.

Psalm 119:99

I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation.

 

Psalm 119:59

I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees.

 

Psalm 119:11-12

I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. Lord, may You be praised; teach me Your statutes.

 

There will be the need for instruction to address the different levels of growth in the family.

Each person in the family has to still make his or her own commitment to Jesus Christ.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

 

John 1:12

But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.

 

1 John 5:4-5, 13

…because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

Success comes from direct obedience to the Holy Spirit.

In the family, there can be these scenarios:

  1. One person saved and one not saved (1 Corinthians 7:13).
  2. Both husband and wife are saved.
  3. One following Scripture while the other does not.
  4. Both parents saved living out the Scripture, while a child may live for the Lord and another may not.
  5. The complete family is saved and is following the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is the teacher in the family (John 14:25-26).

We in the family are the students (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13).

The Bible is the textbook (2 Timothy 3:16).

The family is to help one another to grow:

  1. Intellectually. We communicate our knowledge to one another. We listen to each other.
  1. Emotionally. We cry, hurt, laugh and have fun together.
  1. Physically. Hugging, touches, kisses, wrestling.
  1. Spiritually. We all help guide, but only the Holy Spirit can do the real teaching (John 14:25).

Understanding a person is to know when the Holy Spirit is the only one to meet the need at this particular time in life.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


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