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Salvation and the Church: Sent Out to Learn

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

We’re continuing with the topic of salvation and the church.  Life in the church is much more than just declaring Jesus as your personal Savior.  It is more than just sitting in church and taking things in.  It is about worshiping and serving the Lord day after day and growing more and more in your faith.  Salvation is the area where God grooms you and prepares you while giving you tests that involve experiences with places and relationships.

Remember what it is like to send your children off to school for the first time.  It is a similar experience in your faith.  There will be new and different experiences for you to see and learn from.  We are sent out to learn.

In Jesus’s time, the twelve disciples were sent out in Luke 9 and the seventy-two others are sent out in Chapter 10 of Luke.

  • The twelve are the Apostles
  • The seventy-two (some bibles refer to seventy) are disciples.
  • Both groups are sent out at different times–not together.
  • Both are given the same authority.
  • Both groups were given instructions by Jesus.
  • Both of these groups were sent out about nine months apart.

When you are being sent out to do ministry—discipling and shepherding different people—you are essentially leading and pastoring others.  You don’t need a degree to do it.  You just need a love of Jesus and the desire to share on His behalf—represent Him and act like Him.  He has given you authority to do this.  It is ultimately the responsibility of every person who declares the name of Jesus Christ.

In some ministries we share the same authority in order to achieve what God has assigned to us.  We are not to be caught up in titles.  It is all about your heart and your obedience to Jesus Christ.

For the groups’ instructions:

  • They were not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans
  • They were given a message to give to the people of Israel
  • They were commissioned to drive out demons

The message was for the people that they were familiar with.  It was a message that was the gospel—the good news about the kingdom of heaven.

Whenever you enter into ministry with Jesus Christ, you are entering a battle with the enemy.  It can be personal, or even attack your family or close friends that can attempt to draw you away from what God has called you to do.

Mark 6:12-13

So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them.

Matthew 10:7-8

“As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

To the seventy-two:

Luke 10:8

“When you enter any town, and they welcome you, eat the things set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you.’

They had to learn that a worker is worthy of His keep.

Philippians 4:19

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

God takes care of His people.

Matthew 10:11-13

When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave.  Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you.

Luke 9:4

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.

Luke 10:5-6

Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household. If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

They were sent out to learn that everything will not go their way, and that some people will not like them, even though they were sent among people who were similar to them.

Matthew 10:16

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.”

They were learning how to do ministry without His presence.  Jesus was their leader and they had followed Him, but now they were to go out on their own.

Jesus was there but not seen.  They learned His spiritual presence in the power of His name.

Luke 10:17

The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”

They were learning to walk by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

They were learning how to represent Jesus, and not themselves.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us.  We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Since Jesus was not with them, they had to learn to trust in more than themselves.  Two by two.  Trusting in one another.

When you trust another person, you are learning from that person as you build your relationship.  There is a development that must take place over a period of time.

Coming together into a group is only the beginning.

Staying together is a sign of progress.

Working together is success.

They had to learn that coming together was learning to work together to accomplish God’s will.

Four important lessons learned by being sent out:

  1. Jesus had to be brought into their lives and their way of thinking.

Psalm 26:2

Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind.

Lamentations 3:40

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Examine yourselves.  Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?unless you fail the test.

  1. Learn to submit to the will of Jesus. By going out and doing it. We are not just going in His will, but learn how to function within it.

Acts 17:28

For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

  1. Commit your ways to Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

  1. Learn to transmit knowledge to others.

Acts 20:27

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

The twelve and the seventy-two had to deal with these four different areas of submission to Jesus Christ.  In the same manner, we have to learn how to speak to many different groups of people–different cultures and the like–in order to best communicate the gospel.  We are to submit to Jesus and do so in love in order that others can see Him in our efforts.

What we all learn from this:  Life itself will give the final examination on what you believe.

 

 

 

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Change: Don’t Miss the Opportunity

A message summary of November 30, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

As a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, God orchestrates change in your life.

Change is going to occur whether you want it to or not. It is about acceptance and adaptation. Change is an opportunity that God wants to bring into your life.

What needs to happen in order to embrace change?

  1. Humble yourself before God
  2. Give up your effort to change others and let God change you instead.
  3. Don’t insist on having your own way but submit to God.
  4. Admit that God is all-powerful and place your life under His control.
  5. Submit to God’s way.

Some things in your life may need to be considered as a lost cause in order for you to move on with your life in the present.

Whatever God wants in your life that is part of your old life, He will bring it forth as a lesson for how you are living today.

Saul (from 1 Samuel) was given a chance to change his life, but it turned out to be a missed opportunity.

  1. Saul only had a penchant for outward appearances.

1 Samuel 9:1-2

1 There was an influential man of Benjamin named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, son of a Benjaminite. 2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.

 

He was taller than others, but he had no heart for the things of God; furthermore, there is no Scripture to support that Saul was truly following after God.

  1. Saul’s father asked him to locate his donkeys.

1 Samuel 9:3-5

3 One day the donkeys of Saul’s father Kish wandered off. Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the attendants with you and go look for the donkeys.” 4 Saul and his attendant went through the hill country of Ephraim and then through the region of Shalishah, but they didn’t find them. They went through the region of Shaalim—nothing. Then they went through the Benjaminite region but still didn’t find them.

5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the attendant who was with him, “Come on, let’s go back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”

 

Note that Saul did not have the same value for the donkeys as his father or even the attendant.

  1. The servant suggests going to the man of God for direction.

1 Samuel 9:6-10

6 “Look,” the attendant said, “there’s a man of God in this city who is highly respected; everything he says is sure to come true. Let’s go there now. Maybe he’ll tell us which way we should go.”

7 “Suppose we do go,” Saul said to his attendant, “what do we take the man? The food from our packs is gone, and there’s no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

8 The attendant answered Saul: “Here, I have a piece[a] of silver. I’ll give it to the man of God, and he will tell us our way.”

9 Formerly in Israel, a man who was going to inquire of God would say, “Come, let’s go to the seer,” for the prophet of today was formerly called the seer.

10 “Good,” Saul replied to his attendant. “Come on, let’s go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

 

What does the servant know about this man of God?

  1. He is a man to be respected
  2. Everything he says comes true

Saul had no idea that his journey to see Samuel was going to be a divine appointment (1 Samuel 9:15-17).

God revealed wisdom to Samuel but not to Saul.

1 Samuel 9:15-20

15 Now the day before Saul’s arrival, the Lord had informed Samuel, 16 “At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over My people Israel. He will save them from the hand of the Philistines because I have seen the affliction of My people, for their cry has come to Me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man I told you about; he will rule over My people.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gate area and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel answered. “Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today. When I send you off in the morning, I’ll tell you everything that’s in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don’t worry about them because they’ve been found. And who does all Israel desire but you and all your father’s family?”

 

Saul was speaking about the past, where Samuel was directing him to look to the present and the future. He noted to Saul that all of Israel has turned to him.

God wants to work in your present and future—not in your past.

Saul made no effort to capitalize on this divine appointment. He didn’t see the importance of God wanting to make a change in his life.

1 Samuel 9:21

Saul responded, “Am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest of Israel’s tribes and isn’t my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tribe? So why have you said something like this to me?”

 

When change is beginning to take place, God will set people around you that you would need to spend some time with. Even with that, the wisdom imparted will still need to be taken into account in order to be effective in the change.

Change is just being willing to go through it. God is the one who is really doing the work.

Are you ready to hear from God?

1 Samuel 9:25-27

25 Afterward, they went down from the high place to the city, and Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.

26 They got up early, and just before dawn, Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, and I’ll send you on your way!” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went outside. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the attendant to go on ahead of us, but you stay for a while, and I’ll reveal the word of God to you.” So the attendant went on.

 

Are you willing to live life according to God’s way?

1 Samuel 10:5-6

5 “After that you will come to the Hill of God where there are Philistine garrisons. When you arrive at the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place prophesying. They will be preceded by harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person.

 

God wants to change you in a big way in order to be an effective person in His kingdom.

We learn from Saul that none of this makes a difference to Saul:

1 Samuel 10:14-16

14 Saul’s uncle asked him and his attendant, “Where did you go?”

“To look for the donkeys,” Saul answered. “When we saw they weren’t there, we went to Samuel.”

15 “Tell me,” Saul’s uncle asked, “what did Samuel say to you?”

16 Saul told him, “He assured us the donkeys had been found.” However, Saul did not tell him what Samuel had said about the matter of kingship.

 

He fails to convey the most important part of his trip.

The opportunity for change is here, but Saul hid from it.

1 Samuel 10:21-23

21 Then he had the tribe of Benjamin come forward by its clans, and the Matrite clan was selected. Finally, Saul son of Kish was selected. But when they searched for him, they could not find him. 22 They again inquired of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

The Lord replied, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.”

23 They ran and got him from there. When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.

 

Don’t resist or hide from God’s effort to change you. He wants you to see Him in the change and to embrace it.


The Crown of Life (James 1:12)

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Through the church, we are people who are called to be ambassadors, ministers, and saints within the church–we are called to be stewards of the church, and believers must give an account for their stewardship. From the moment the believer accepts Jesus Christ, there are new adventures each day where you never stop learning or growing–unless you choose to do so.
There are all kinds of trials within the learning process. There are inner trials, where you are wrestling from within over the Spirit and your own desires, and there are outer trials you must endure, where you have no control over what happens, but how you respond is very important.The trials are a way to test our faith and our character. They help to build within us the ability to learn more about Jesus Christ. They are rooted in how we remain obedient to God’s Word. Your hope is in God that He will defend you and give you victory. We must earn the prize as expressed in Matthew 25:21: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
The Crown of Life (James 1:12)
Please note this very important statement…all who accept Christ as their personal Savior will have eternal life, but not everyone who knows Christ will receive a reward. Rewards are based upon an account of service for God.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15
14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.God will give rewards for what you do as a believer, but this world requires a heart that must endure. There is often the temptation to relax because it does not seem like doing what is good is paying off because of all of the hardship. Don’t believe that. You must endure it, for there is a reward that will come with your endurance.

Revelation 3:11
I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.

Matthew 16:27
For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done.

Hebrews 11:6
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

Our best example is in Jesus Christ, who gave of Himself for each and every one of us. God gives us the trials and endurance to continue to grow and give an account. You are learning to live for Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:21
For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

Galatians 2:20
…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1 A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries. 2 In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful. 3 It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. 5 Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.

James 1:12
A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:2-4
2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

A man that endures trials is blessed and happy because He is aware of God’s fellowship with him. He is able to endure because he is agreement with God and is obedient to Him and His Word. He rejoices in His choice to trust Him and to endure and persevere under any trial that presents itself. It’s because he lives for the Lord and loves the Lord.

God is the one that opens the doors that no one else can open.

Deuteronomy 8:1-6
1 “You must carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. 3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. 5 Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.

God already knows how you will respond in these trials…He wants you to find out for yourself and make corrections when it is necessary.

Hebrews 11:17-19
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son, 18 the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac. 19 He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.

God will amazingly use trials even through illness to minister to others through testimonies of His love and grace for each of us. It is more than just providing lip service. In people seeing that your faith is genuine, it draws people nearer to you, and also draws them nearer to Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-9
6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith —more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


God’s Plan For The Favored

God never operates in a hurry. He has a plan, and follows it in a deliberate manner. As He works through His plan, He also has a plan for each of us. While we can’t even begin to know how or when He is working through His plan, we can be certain that He is preparing us throughout the entire process. God created us for the purpose of glorifying God in carrying out His will and purpose through each and every one of us.

How has God prepared you to be used by Him? He has a purpose for you and desires to work His will through your life.

God had a plan as to how Jesus Christ would be introduced to the world.

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

Mary had no idea that she would be the virgin mother of Jesus. While it was never a consideration to her, it was God’s plan for her life. At that time, Joseph was preparing to get married to Mary, but also did not know that he would soon be the earthly father of Jesus.

Why did God select Mary and Joseph to bring forth and raise His child, Jesus Christ? We will see that as individual as we are, God communicates his will and purpose to us in different ways. Mary received her information from the angel, Gabriel.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you‘” (Luke 1:26-28).

Note that the word “favored” is used here, which is also used in Ephesians 1:6–“…to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.” God knew that He was going to use Mary in this way, for He knew of Mary’s nature and her desire to be used of God. She already had a heart for God in place. He gives us this grace and ability even before we are born, and He develops us throughout our lifetime in order that we can be of use by Him even when we are unaware of it. While it was difficult, at the time, for Mary to understand how she would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, she did understand how God used Elizabeth to show that even being in an advanced age and previously barren, that she was pregnant, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Elizabeth was also prepared by God for the moment when Mary would visit her as there is a declaration that the participants were willing to be used by God. “In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: ‘You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me! She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!‘” (Luke 1:39-45).

The lesson in this is that Mary had to still endure the difficulty of being pregnant, especially during a time when it was frowned upon for women to be pregnant outside of marriage, yet, she was ready and willing to be obedient to the Lord and His will. At times, being obedient to the Lord will not always leave you in a position of popularity with your family, friends, or acquaintances. Our obedience to the Lord, nonetheless, solidifies our relationship with Him and reinforces us as His children in Christ.

Joseph realized that Mary was pregnant, and that he had not had any relations with her. He had to have been devastated, yet, what occurred next showed that Joseph was a man of character in how he responded to this matter. He was moving to a place where he would divorce her quietly until he received word of what was actually happening. Joseph was a man who knew God’s Word, and he believed the verses from Scripture that confirmed what was happening at that time with his future wife being a virgin who would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. The fulfillment of Scripture from the Old Testament prophets foretold that this would take place (Isaiah 7:14). “The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus” (Matthew 1:18-25). Note that Joseph, in respect and reverence of God’s plan, went as far as to avoid intimacy with Mary until after she gave birth to Jesus, because there was to be no question of Jesus’ virgin birth.

In Mary and Joseph, there was a willingness to be used by God. How willing are you to see how God can use you? Mary saw God’s plan through evidence of what was happening in Elizabeth’s life, and Joseph accepted God’s plan through evidence of His Word. Both Mary and Joseph were declared righteous by God, and were both obedient to God when called upon. Both were prepared for the moment to bring forth Jesus Christ in His appointed time (John 1:13-14).

Jesus was to be the Savior (Matthew 1:23). He was prophesied throughout the Old Testament that He would be the Messiah. Only God Himself could deal with sin and save His people. Jesus declared that He and the Father are one. The gift of salvation comes from believing in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Salvation is His gift, but there is a divine purpose behind it…He wants to use you for His glory and for His purpose.


Sunday School Today: Faith (Week 2)

What is faith?

…Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Your faith is your title deed to eternal life. Just as a title deed is evidence of real estate, your faith is evidence of your eternal estate in God. “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

1. Faith is taking God at His Word without questions (Hebrews 11:6).
2. Faith is knowing that “all things work together for good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28a). Having faith does not imply that all things are good, or that all things work well. It does imply that both good and bad things work together for the greater good to those who love God.
3. Faith has two sides…one side has to do with intellect. It is an intellectual conviction that Jesus Christ is God. The other side has to do with the will. It is a volitional surrender of the will to Jesus Christ as Master. This is revealed in the disciple Thomas, when he declared upon his belief and confession, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The words “my Lord” were a volitional (deliberate) surrender; “my God” was intellectual conviction. Put together, you have saving faith (John 20:31). Saving faith is an intellectual conviction that Jesus is God, and it is a volitional surrender to Him as Lord (Master) of your life. By faith, the mind trusts in God, the heart responds to the love of God, the will submits to the commands of God, and the life obeys in the service of God.
4. Faith is paradoxical. It goes beyond reason. It believes without understanding “why.” It allows one to sing out loud even when imprisoned (Acts 16:25). It glories even in tribulations (Romans 5:3). It chooses suffering (Hebrews 11:25). It accepts all things as a part of God’s will (Philippians 1:12). One is not born with faith. It comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17). This is why we are commanded to preach the gospel to every person, in order that they may hear and believe (Romans 10:13-14).