Tag Archives: teaching

Judas and His Heart

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

What was it that caused Judas to lose his heart for Jesus?

It is possible that Judas was originally drawn to Jesus because of his view of Him as the Jewish Messiah–believing in Him to be as such–and expecting Him to be successful as Judas would share in the victory of the Messiah?  In other words, he likely had the wrong view of Jesus.

John 6:15

Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.

This passage was disappointing to Judas because he was relying upon Jesus’ success in order for him to be able to realize his own ambition to be someone.

His second disappointment was when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign.  The sign would seal Jesus’ claim as the true Messiah.  When Jesus was challenged, He did nothing to substantiate His claim to be the Messiah.

Matthew 16:1-4

The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.

Luke 11:16

And others, as a test, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.

Mark 8:11-12

The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, demanding of Him a sign from heaven to test Him. But sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you: No sign will be given to this generation!

Judas had struggles about who Jesus was throughout the period of ministry as he expected that Jesus would emerge as the Messiah, but it didn’t happen in the way that he expected that it would.  Jesus would not show a sign from Himself or from heaven.  Note that the Pharisees and Sadducees had already observed Jesus healing others, but that wasn’t sufficient for them.  They wanted to see a sign from heaven.

Are there any similarities in this view by Judas and how you may also have the same struggles with knowing Jesus?  It is not about merely knowing Jesus based upon what someone tells you, but rather that you get to know who Jesus is for yourself.  You have to develop a relationship with Him to get to know who he really is.

When Jesus backed away, Judas became more disenchanted with who Jesus was.

I also believe that today there are many people in Christian circles are also disenchanted with what they see today.

The challenge for everyone is to believe in Jesus Christ and be obedient to Him.  Judas lacked the ability to have faith and love in Jesus Christ.

How many of us are willing to dig deeply into His Word and to live in faith for Him in obedience.

Judas became more and more disenchanted in his heart.  His confidence in Jesus may have been adversely affected when John the Baptist was beheaded (Mark 6:24).  Jesus would not meet the public challenges of the Pharisees.

Two things that Jesus lacked:  faith and love.

He lacked the faith to believe what he had been taught and what he had already experienced with Jesus.

He lacked a love for the person of Jesus through the relationship that had been established for over two years.

At some point, Judas began to see Jesus differently than the other apostles saw Him.

1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.

With this, Jesus could only watch and see what Judas would do.

Part of our struggle with Judas was that he was born to be the traitor that he was.  If that was the case, Judas had no choice to do what he did.

If Judas was chosen merely to be a traitor, this would make God responsible for the betrayal.  If God is responsible for the betrayal, then Judas’ act would exonerate him from all blame.

From God’s point of view:  Because He is God, He knows all things.  Even the heart of each person, and the very intent of the hearts of each one.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He knew Himself what was in man.

Judas was given every opportunity to be true to Jesus in the same way as the other apostles.  Was he not empowered, along with the other apostles, to teach, heal and cast out demons? (Mark 3:14-17, 19)

Judas was chosen to learn and act for Jesus, but he chose to act for himself—a different way of living:

  • A life of a thief (John 12:4-6).
  • A person who was going to gain for himself (Matthew 26:14-16). (Satan had not entered into Judas at this time.)
  • The love of money was real in Judas’ heart (1 Timothy 6:16).

Judas did not speak with the motivation of the perfume being sold to help the poor (John 12:4-6).  He spoke only in selfish terms here.  This was another indicator of a series of bad decisions that he made.

Satan entered into Judas at the Last Supper (John 13:27).

John 13:27

After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Therefore Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.”

Betrayal can come in many different forms.

1 Timothy 6:9-10

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Judas reveals one can be knowledgeable of Jesus, associate with other believers, be in the church, and be in service for Jesus, but NOT have Jesus in their heart and Lord and Savior.


Understanding that Jesus is Coming

Today’s message summary of December 18, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Most of us conclude that Jesus’ coming is for salvation, but it is actually much more than that.  His coming does mean salvation for those who believe in Him, as He reconciles those who believe to the Father, but He came for a much deeper purpose.  Whether one responds to the gospel or not does not change who He is.

The general conception, which the Rabbis and Israel formed of the Messiah, is different from what was presented by Jesus Himself.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to have God speak to the people concerning His relationship with humanity.  He spoke about the desire that He had (and still has) to have a relationship with His people.  Bringing Christ forth was to show everyone who He really is.

Jesus, as God in the flesh, presented the fundamentals of the Christian life, and the final relationship in view of God towards humanity and humanity towards God.

It was a relationship of endearment expressed as follows:

  1. Expressed by the word Father (Matthew 6)
  2. Expressed by the word Servant (Philippians 2:6-7)

By His coming, He joins together the two ideals of the Son and the Servant.

Matthew 20:28

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His lifea ransom for many.

 

Matthew 4:10

Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

 

Luke 1:73b-75

He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.

 

As the servant of the living God, Jesus fulfills the threefold office of God.

Samuel fulfilled the offices of prophet, priest and judge.

Jesus fulfilled the office of Prophet (Hebrews 1:2).  He came to speak the words of His Father to us.  They were words of truth.

John 1:16-17

Indeed, we all have received grace after grace from His fullness, for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

When people do not receive the truth of God’s Word, they don’t know how to live a life pleasing to God.

Truth always gives the people light.

John 1:4, 9

Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.

The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

 

The light, at the time of Jesus’ coming, was not a true light.

Jesus as a Priest:  He became the Priest of all the people.  Israel was without a true priesthood…one that would serve God and the people.  The priesthood was the representation of an intercessor between God and man.  Jesus was the true high Priest.

Hebrews 4:10, 14-15

For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.

 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens–Jesus the Son of God–let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 5:9-10

After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and He was declared by God a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

Hebrews 7:23-26

Now many have become Levitical priest, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

 

Hebrews 9:11

But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation).

 

Hebrews 10:11-12

Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

 

Without a godly priesthood—the true servants of God—the world and the people suffer.  The people were without God because the priesthood was without God. They were without God because of their willingness to forsake God; as a result, the world suffered because of its willingness to not obey God.

When there is no true priesthood, we lose teaching (of the law).  Without teaching, there is a lost relationship with God.  Without such a relationship, we lose His blessings and experience the suffering of humanity without the love and knowledge of God.  The teachings of man are inadequate.

Mark 7:6-7

He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: 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.

 

Jesus came to be our King.  He was not just the King of the Jews, but the King of all.  King of all kings.

Matthew 2:2b

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

 

John 18:37

“You are a king then?” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

 

Romans 14:11-12

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 

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.

 


Revelation: The Sixth Seal

Today’s message summary of March 6, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for man to come to a place of surrender and repentance. What does God have to allow in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness and surrender?

In Revelation Chapter 9, the first woe has passed, and there are two more to come.

Revelation 9:12-17

The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this. The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the gold altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was 200 million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses in my vision: The horseman had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

God has appointed this time here, and he appoints times for things to occur in our own lives. He operates with precision.

These angels that were used are likely fallen angels, because they were bound to be released at this time to fulfill God’s purpose. The population of the earth was still growing at this time.

Revelation 9:18-19

A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues–by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads, and they inflict injury with them.

The fire, smoke and sulfur was inflicted through the mouths of the creatures. It may be in the form of gunpowder, insecticides and sulfuric acid. These are demonic spirits that are being released, and their mouths have this power.

We need to be clear that teaching is very important. The Holy Spirit is who enables a person to teach under the blood of Christ. Anything that we would do on our own needs to be suppressed under the power of Christ. God’s Word has healing power in the mind of a person who desires to seek Him.

If you are not being taught under the power of Christ, you absolutely need to believe that there is demonic teaching and influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

Sin creates hardened hearts and stubbornness. It causes people to withdraw from God. Satan tries to stop people from even our own witnessing in our own homes. We are to pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overpower Satanic or demonic influence in the lives of others.

Are you praying that God opens the eyes of those who are not following God? They very well may have received incorrect instruction and need to be guided gently to the truth. Are you taking the steps needed to pray for those who need improvement in their life?

Those that choose not to repent create man-made gods. It breeds idolatry and man-made philosophies.

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Hosea 13:2

Now they continue to sin and make themselves a cast image, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. People say about them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”

After all is said and done, only God Himself can break through the strongholds of sin in a person’s life. God is the One who sets up and takes down. We as servants live for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Psalm 2:8

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.

 


Saving Faith that Forgives (Luke 5:17-26)

Today’s message summary of December 27, 2015 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Luke 5:17-26

On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him. Just then some men came, carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him. Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.

Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think: “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, “We have seen incredible things today!”

Everyone in the world expects something. What are your expectations? What is your greatest need in life? If you are honest, the latter question will answer the first question.

There are four different groups of people represented in this passage: The Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the crowd, the men who brought the paralyzed men, the crowd, and Jesus with His disciples.

The expectations of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law: they were spectators, and even instigators. They had traveled several miles to Nazareth to see Jesus. They were sitting there to observe His ministry, and that he had the power to heal others. They had heard of Him, and wanted to see Him in person in order to try to entrap Him in His words.

Matthew 22:15

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap Him by what He said.

Luke 4:24-30

He also said, I assure you: No prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijahs days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of thembut to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. And in the prophet Elishas time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healedonly Naaman the Syrian.

When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff. But He passed right through the crowd and went on His way.

In spite of this, keep in mind that Jesus’ main focus was presenting the gospel message.

John 9:39

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.”

In this passage, it was noted that Jesus also had the power (Greek word – dynamis) to heal. Jesus was enabled by God to carry out His ministry.

Luke 4:14

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.

The Pharisees were policing their area of responsibility in order to uphold their own traditions. While some traditions are good, there are many that need to be left alone and let go. They wanted Jesus to submit to their own religious traditions.

The expectations of the crowd: some were there to glorify God and learn more about Jesus, some were there for healing, some were there just to be spectators.

The expectations of the four friends (of the paralyzed man):

they carried their friend to Jesus with determination that he would be healed (Luke 5:20). In case you missed it, they tore through the roof of the house to lower the man before Jesus because of the size of the crowd. They had to dig through different materials to accomplish their feat. It showed their degree of faith, and were hopeful that their friend would be made well.

Matthew 8:5-13

When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!

I will come and heal him, He told him.

Lord, the centurion replied, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, Go! and he goes; and to another, Come! and he comes; and to my slave, Do this! and he does it.

Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus told the centurion, Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you. And his servant was cured that very moment.

There is a great value having faith in the Lord.

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.

The expectations of the paralytic man: While Jesus saw that he was paralytic, the deeper meaning here is that Jesus saw that this person needed forgiveness of his sins. He needed not just physical healing, but spiritual healing.

Jesus perceived the thoughts of the man, and He knew the thoughts of all of those present.

The Pharisees missed the point of Jesus’ comments to the paralytic; however, what they needed to see was that Jesus Christ has the power and the authority to forgive sin (Luke 5:21-26).

The expectations of Jesus: He was able to identify who He was before all of the spectators. He always referred to Himself as the Son of Man.

Daniel 7:13-15

I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

Jesus expects us to do something. What do you think it is?

He expects you to have faith in Him. He expects that you know and understand that He is the Son of Man, who has the authority to forgive sins. He wants you to believe who He is and in His teaching and that He has the authority (Luke 4:36) and the power to forgive your sins.

Does your faith drive your determination to seek after Jesus Christ?

What are your expectations about Jesus Christ?

What is your greatest need?

Our greatest need is not for material things or even for our bodies to be healed…our greatest need is for a Savior–Jesus Christ. The One who forgives our sins.


Is the Bible the True Word of God?

Original post May 31, 2009; Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

When one uses the phrase “God’s Word” or “The Word of God,” what is the meaning behind it? Man uses words to communicate with the idea of conveying a thought or a purpose. He can do it with sincerity, but at times it is done for our own selfish purposes or reasoning. God’s Word, on the other hand, is the revealing of God’s will for all people. He provides His Word for a purpose and it has the ability to “speak to us” and reach us in ways that normal communication cannot emulate. We have received His Word because it is inspired by God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture was given to us because it has a benefit for us, provided that we receive and respond to its teaching. While man’s words do not by themselves have power and authority, God’s Word ALWAYS operates in divine power (1 Thessalonians 1:5) and with divine authority (Luke 4:32, 36).

Many people will not read the Bible because the Word has the ability to convict those who read it of their sinful nature. It is the power and authority of God’s Word that challenge one’s mind and consciousness and that brings change in our lives. It will either bring one to Jesus Christ or it will condemn one to eternal separation. This is all in the choice that we make. God wants us to preach the Word and speak to others (2 Timothy 4:2). It is to be presented with encouragement and yet do so with the authority to correct those who are in sin with patience (2 Timothy 4:3).

It takes God’s time (and not our timing) for God’s Word to work in the lives of others. You need to allow God to work in His sovereignty and according to His purpose. Our call, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to be ready to share with others about our lives (1 Peter 3:15-16) and how God has changed us for the better.

It is God’s desire to impart His wisdom and knowledge to those interested in heeding His Word and to become more mature in their way of thinking about Christ (Colossians 1:28). The presence of the Holy Spirit is to guide men to God’s desires for our lives (Psalm 37:4; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit gives us the ability to understand God’s power and authority in His Word (Titus 3:5; Nahum 1:3; Philippians 2:13; Proverbs 21:1-3).

We should always be mindful that we derive our righteousness not in our own actions, but in His righteousness because of Jesus Christ making the eternal sacrifice for us all. The choice for us is to receive His Word in its entirety or reject it altogether. After all is said and done, God’s Word is the inspired authority and it operates with power and truth (2 Peter 1:21; Jeremiah 30:2). God is always in control…God’s Word is true…God’s will be done.


Stephen: A Servant of God

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Who was Stephen? First, he was just a man. He was a man who loved the Lord and, in the same way as David, he was a man after God’s own heart.

A servant really is doing the highest calling for God. A servant remains in the trenches each day and stays in the battle. The servants of God are the ones who are advancing the kingdom of God.

Stephen loved the Lord and serves Him faithfully. Faithfulness is the asset of a believer, and God is looking for people with this asset. Faithfulness is not just to your beliefs; instead, it is about faithfulness to Jesus Christ Himself.

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.

 

Are you confident in the God that you believe in?

Revelation 14:13

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

 

Are you confident that your work and your deeds will honor God and continue on even after you leave here?

Ephesians 5:16-18

16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit.

 

God will be glorified in the midst of your difficulty. It is up to you to see the big picture as you seek God’s will in your life.

Hebrews 6:10-12

10 For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them. 11 Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, 12 so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.

 

God wants you to remain faithful to the work and stay with it. Getting older is no excuse to not remaining faithful to Jesus Christ.

A quick look at Stephen (book of Acts):

  1. He was not an apostle. He had no other title except “servant”.
  2. He was one of the seven to work with the distribution of food (Acts 6:5).
  3. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
  4. He was faithful.
  5. He was full of God’s grace (favor) and power.
  6. He performed great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

Stephen understood that he was a witness for Jesus Christ. He learned the five books of Moses (he knew the Word of God), and he learned to trust his faith and the Person of the Holy Spirit (he trusted the Teacher).

Stephen’s opposition: Synagogue of Freemen (Acts 6:9)

  1. Jews of Cyrene – North African Jewish colony who followed their own laws and teachings. Simon, the person who carried the cross for Jesus, was from Cyrene (Matthew 27:32).
  2. Jews from Alexandria – Greek city by the Mediterranean Sea. It was second to Rome in wealth and second to Athens in science and literature. It had the greatest library of ancient times. The Septuagint was translated there in 285 B.C.
  3. Cilicia – Southeast Asia Minor. Jews who remained after the Babylonian captivity. This may be Paul’s birthplace.
  4. Asia: Seleucus, a Macedonia general, encouraged the Jews to settle in the towns of Asia by giving them freedom within the cities and the same social status as the Macedonians and Greeks.

These were all outsiders that had a different viewpoint. They argued with Stephen.

Acts 6:9

Then some from what is called the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and disputed with Stephen.

 

Even with this, they could not stand up against his wisdom. Stephen spoke by the Spirit.

Acts 6:10

But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

 

Mark 13:11

So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

 

The opposition, as a result, fabricated a lie against Stephen stating that he was blaspheming against Moses. They brought him before the Sanhedrin, which was a large group of Sadducees, who only hold to the five books of Moses.

Stephen reveals his own knowledge of the five books of the law of Moses (Acts 7:2-50).

Acts 7:51-60

51 “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. 53 You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.”

54 When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.

 

Stephen was courageous and was led by the Spirit (Acts 7:51).

The opposition was furious. They covered their ears (Acts 7:54-57). They yelled at the top of their voices.

God was at work with Stephen in the midst of trouble. Stephen was now looking not at the crowd but at Jesus Christ–He was his focus (Acts 7:55).

Stephen prayed. He had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ (Acts 7:59).

Stephen knew he would be killed. He prayed to the Lord to not hold this against them (Acts 7:60).

God is looking at your heart for Him. You can say that you are following God and yet your heart can be thousands of miles away from Him. When a person witnesses about Christ, a person who rejects the message is not rejecting the witness–the person is rejecting Christ Himself.

Stephen ministered to his audience through the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes faith to carry out what the Holy Spirit is declaring to you. His courage came through his relationship with Jesus Christ.


God Builds People of Service

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

God builds people. He builds people of strength and character. He is also building people for service to Him. He builds us in order that we may be used of Him. It is all about being God’s servant.

Today, we will look at Tabitha (also known as Dorcas).

A servant of The Lord Jesus Christ must be able to show that it is not about him or her, but all about Jesus. The primary thing that people should see is the reflection of Christ in one’s presence.

If you were to reduce the Christian’s job description to a phrase, it would be “reflect God’s glory.”

How does this occur?

John 3:30

“He (Jesus Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

1 Corinthians 3:7

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

 

Only God Himself can transform the heart of a person.

Isaiah 42:8

I am Yahweh, that is My name;

I will not give My glory to another

or My praise to idols.

 

In Acts 9:32-42, Dorcas is pictured with the apostle Peter. She is ministering to people in her own way–not as a healer or as a preacher–but through sewing.

She was able to bring things together.

She was able to mend and repair

It takes a keen eye and a sturdy hand–a skill–to sew.

Dorcas had the heart and mind of service in everything she did because she saw the need before her.

Acts 9:32-42

32 As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,” and immediately he got up. 35 So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

 

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

 

God uses great men like Peter, but He also uses those who have the gift of kindness. People who are willing to make use of gifts that God gives are always doing good–always helping to glorify God (v. 36)

Make the use of the gift God has given to you.

Dorcas had a mind and heart to minister to the apparent needs of people. Do you see the needs that people have before you? Some people genuinely do not know what to do unless they are taught how to do it correctly. Some people do not feel appreciated, cared for, or believe they are altogether left out. Our prayer should be, “Lord, open my eyes so I can see who is in need. Help me to have a spiritual way of seeing things for you.” Pray also for a zeal to serve Him, as well.

Romans 12:5-8, 11

5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

 

If prophecy,

use it according to the standard of one’ faith;

7 if service, in service;

if teaching, in teaching;

8 if exhorting, in exhortation;

giving, with generosity;

leading, with diligence;

showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.

 

Note that Satan will sometimes whisper things to you that will diminish what you are doing for The Lord. Know where that is coming from.

As we are not to do things to look for a pat on the back or for recognition, Dorcas was not seeking recognition from others.

Spirit-led people go to work for The Lord.

Dorcas ministered to the rich and to the poor. (Where did her material come from? She was able to meet provisions because of her involvement with everyone, and used what was given to her to serve everyone.)

People will see your faith in action by your deeds and your work.

James 2:14

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

 

Hebrews 6:10

For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them.

 

Matthew 6:1-4

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

Titus 3:8

This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.

 

What temptations do we face when we do kind things for others?

  • They will not appreciate it. (If it is not appreciated, we will stop serving Him.
  • It’s going to cost you too much. (This makes for a cheap ministry.)
  • How much time will it take? (I don’t have time to do this stuff!)

Dorcas’ reward for ministry…her ministry touched many people, and it was evidenced by the number of people (all of the widows) who cherished her life, her work and her ministry. She was healed and raised up before them all, and God was glorified…once again, she was used by Him for the praise and testimony of Jesus Christ. (v. 36-42).