Tag Archives: truth

The Church and Its Priesthood (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 13, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

No one wants to see people falter outside of Jesus Christ.  With this in mind, God is looking for someone to stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30).  Not everyone can do it.

God is looking for those people who are willing to make a difference as ambassadors in this world…ready to serve at a moment’s notice.  He is looking for people to teach and encourage others.  It is God’s priesthood that is the example for others.  The priesthood is the people of his church, who have a heart of compassion for others and desire to minister to others.

The priestly office carries on today within the church.

People who come to church may often have the mentality that they are to be served by the church (and perhaps even entertained), when in actuality, it is the people that need to learn and understand that they are the ones who are being prepared to serve others.

Is the church more about worship or more about an experience?

When people come to church the big question is the same as one would get when going to a restaurant…”What can I get you?” or “What can I do for you?”

Starbucks isn’t just about coffee.  It is about the coffee drinking experience.

The birthday is not about the homemade cake anymore.  It’s about Chuck E. Cheese or wherever you go to have a birthday experience.

People won’t come to a church that is boring.  What qualifies as boring is defined by our own experiences.

The role of the pastor, the priesthood, once seen as shepherds and teachers, has evolved to that of a circus ringmasters and clowns who shout out to come to the Greatest Show on Earth.

The problem with external experiences, as Moses discovered, is that the transformation doesn’t last.  In a few days, over time, the glory begins to fade.

What do we want people to value, remember or experience when they come to Akron Alliance Fellowship?

When people hear or see the name of Akron Alliance Fellowship, they need to know what they are going to get…the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is all we have to offer.

There is no show to put on–just the teaching of the Word.  (Even the music that is presented before the service should be that which glorifies God.)

The Priesthood was organized to take care of the tabernacle, the Temple and the Scriptures of God in order that those who entered into a relationship with God may be properly served in a manner in which God had provided.

The duty of the Priesthood is to keep the lights burning.  Light is also a representation of knowledge and understanding.

Leviticus 24:1-4

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. Aaron is to tend it continually from evening until morning before the Lord outside the veil of the testimony in the tent of meeting. This is a permanent statute throughout your generations. He must continually tend the lamps on the the pure gold lampstand in the Lord’s presence.

Exodus 27:20-21

You are to command the Israelites to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, in order to keep the lamp burning continually. In the tent of meeting outside the veil that is in front of the testimony, Aaron and his sons are to tend the lamp from evening until morning before the Lord. This is to be a permanent statute for the Israelites throughout their generations.

The light is the Light of life for people.

John 1:4

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

Matthew 4:16

The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand,

and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

John 8:12

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

1 John 1:5

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.

As a priest, you are responsible for keeping your light full of oil (represented by the Holy Spirit) shining in your life.

You are responsible to light up dark places in this community.  You are to keep your light before others in order that they can see in the dark.

We have the responsibility of taking care of the things belonging to God, which are His people.

Numbers 18:1-7

The Lord said to Aaron, You, your sons, and your ancestral family will be responsible for iniquity against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for iniquity involving your priesthood. But also bring your relatives with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and assist you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony. They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die. They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.

You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again. Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the curtain, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift, but an unauthorized person who comes near the sanctuary will be put to death.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

You are responsible for how you dress and your appearance. Remember your position in life.  You are not just an ordinary person running around in the world.  You are a priest, a saint and an ambassador.  You are representing more than just yourself.

Exodus 28:39-41

You are to weave the tunic from fine linen, and make an embroidered sash. Make tunics, sashes, and headbands for Aaron’s sons to give them glory and beauty (dignity and honor). Put these on your brother Aaron and his sons; then anoint, ordain, and consecrate them, so that they may serve Me as priests.

There are two different reasons for this dress style.  They were not to look like the rest of the people of Israel.

  1. To give them dignity
  2. To give honor…conduct oneself in high regard and be respected

Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.


The Church and Its Priesthood

Today’s message summary of August 6, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The church is a place of assembly where God calls His people together for a common goal and purpose.

The church is not just the pastor, elders or deacons are doing all of the work.  It is a mindset that prevails where the people come together as a group under the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone comes together in this way in order to have a greater impact within the community.

The church is critical for the survival of many people.  In nations where people and children are starving, the church steps forward to help those who are in need.  It is the benevolence of the people within the church, led by Jesus Christ, that helps to take care of “His sheep.”

The church is on a decline not because of witness but because many are failing to live in a Christlike manner.  God does not live to serve us–we live to serve Him.

It is important to remember that Jesus Christ is sufficient for us.  All he requires of us is to have faith in Him.  He prevails for us and we will not be defeated as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:18

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

How many of you believe that God’s church is going to prevail?  Jesus Christ has already prevailed and won the battle, but that doesn’t mean that you relax from participation in the church.  You are to keep after it in spite of the opposition that Satan will put in front of you.

Oswald Sanders says, “the overriding need of the church is to discharge its obligation to raising up generations for leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.”

The church must prevail.  The world cannot defeat the church.

1 Peter 2:1-5

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are like living stones that are being built into a spiritual house.  Our sacrifice is in our work for Him.  We don’t sacrifice because we don’t know Jesus Christ, but we do it because we do know Him, and desire to serve Him.

Our present church struggles with the equipping and training of younger people in order that they can get ready to serve.

The church has a challenge also in how often it can teach or instruct our youth in comparison to what the world teaches them.  Only God can be the one to prevail over this situation.  Collectively, we will prevail as we trust in Him.

Matthew 16:19

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.

The word “key” stands for knowledge.  The keys of the kingdom are truth. Scribes, or teachers of the Word of God would wear a key on his belt to symbolize the truth that he held (truth of the gospel).

The church is meant for all people to come and worship.  The church needs to mirror the population of the surrounding community.

Matthew 9:10-13

While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Walt Disney had a vision about EPCOT before it was created.  EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  He had a vision for this when he purchased the land for what is now Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  He purchased 47 square miles of Florida wilderness to build it.

Others believed that Walt’s vision was such a fantasy that it could not possibly be realized.  There were company managers that went behind his back and referred to his dream as “Waltopia.”  The word “utopia” is a Greek word that means “no place.”

After his death in 1966, his successors didn’t know how to proceed with EPCOT.  Company executives who lacked Walt’s ability to see beyond proven formulas retreated to a more conventional concept. The new president of Disney said EPCOT was now being reconsidered from the point of view of economics, operations, technology and market potential…not one’s imagination.

Note the reference to economics here.  What is the first thing that often comes up in the church? Economics!  Money!  What we need to consider here is what God wants to accomplish.  Money is a vehicle, for sure, but God determines the success of the endeavor.

Operations:  God desires for His church to move forward.  He does not want it to stand still.

Walt’s plan actually also included churches within its community where people actually would live and be there for several days…and also worship in the church while they were there!

You never want to stop using the imagination that God is giving you.  Walt’s vision for Disney World and EPCOT is the same type of vision that we should also have for the church.

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.” 

–Vincent Van Gogh

A church model is just that–a model.  It still must conform to the community around it, but keep in mind that God also may take you further than where you are.

The church is an assembly of a priesthood of believers.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Your purpose, in this royal priesthood, is to declare the praises of Him and to stand and be ready for service–to meet His call and His desire to you to live for Him.  You belong to God and your purpose is to praise Him wherever you go!

The church has a purpose, as well.

Colossians 1:24-29

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christs afflictions for his body, that is, the church. I have become its servant, according to Gods commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.

We are to act like Jesus.

Romans 8:29

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Church is to have a cultural influence.

Church helps to transform people through its teaching.

Church holds to the practice of the values of Jesus Christ.


L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference 2017 – Saturday, October 7 feat. Kelly Parker!

Save the Date: Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Ladies, join us for our third annual L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference (Living as Devoted in Every Sense)!  Saturday, October 7, 2017 will be a great morning of inspiration and encouragement with our special guest speaker, Kelly D. Parker.

About Ms. Parker:

Kelly Parker is a Bible teacher, speaker and blogger. Her desire is to see women embrace the victory and freedom that come from a life wholly submitted to Christ. She finds great joy in conveying biblical truths in a straightforward way to help women apply God’s Word to their everyday lives.

Kelly is the founder of When the Gals Gather, a movement focused on empowering women with tools and resources for authentic biblical living. Kelly is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of Kent State University. She holds a degree in Marketing and Public Relations and has more than 10 years of professional marketing experience.

In her spare time, Kelly enjoys writing, reading and calligraphy. She is married to Luvirt Parker, Lead Pastor of Christ Community Church in University Heights, Ohio.  They have three children, Gabrielle, Marcus and Nia, and reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ms. Parker is a wonderful, dynamic speaker who has a message for ladies of all ages!  Feel free to invite your daughters, neighbors and friends to this event!

Along with a delicious brunch, admission is FREE for this “can’t miss” event, and there will be door prizes, too!  If you or a group are interested in attending, let us know as soon as possible (we need a head count!).  Please call our church office at 330.376.4654 or call Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345 or 234.221.8125.


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

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

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

Matthew 14:3-4

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

John was speaking publicly about Herod and Herodias’ relationship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 8:36-37

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

Matthew 11:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 13:1-3

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

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

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

Matthew 11:2-6

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

Matthew 10:22

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

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

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

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

Luke 16:16-17

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

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


The Halo Effect

Today’s message of January 22, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

The previous U.S. Presidential election also provided many lessons about another type of information gathering much like a survey…polling.  For several weeks during the campaign, Donald Trump was losing big to Hillary Clinton (anywhere from 10 to 25 percentage points), but the end result of the election proved that the narrow margins in many key battleground states was much closer than the polling, and the reason for this is that many people voted in this election that (1) never voted in a presidential election in a long time, if ever, and (2) they would never, if asked to take a poll, participate in one to show any preference.  As a result, many previously trusted pollsters lost public trust, after the election, due to accusations that their results were far from accurate. Today’s methodology of poll sampling (telephone polling) is becoming more and more obsolete.

Here’s more polling data to consider.  Gallup put out a poll in 2014 that covered religious service (church) attendance by state.  In general, with a very solid sampling nationwide of over 177,000 adults and a confidence level of 95%, the statistics reported that of those surveyed, on average about 34% of those surveyed attended church at least once a week, and about 21% attended services ever other week or at least once a month. [1] On the surface, this isn’t great but it sounds like it’s OK, until you take into account a phenomenon within polling referred to as “the halo effect.” The halo effect is the difference or discrepancy between what you tell a pollster (which often involves leaving a positive impression of yourself) versus what you actually do.  What was found in a gathering of statistical data by two different groups covering church attendance and trends was that actual number of attendees each week is closer to 17.7 percent of the population. [2] Even Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport had to acknowledge that poll numbers can be skewed by “the halo effect.”  Newport said that many people will say they regularly attend church when they really don’t attend every week; in fact, many people will stay home from church due to illness or readily sleep in. Of those who claim to go to church on a regular basis, some may show up less than 12 times a year, and pastors will often acknowledge that their inactive church membership is anywhere from 40 to 60 percent.

We live in a different day and time, and there are few places in the United States where churches are growing. They’re shrinking, and some are rapidly declining in attendance.

So what’s going on here?  It would be very easy to point the finger at the church itself for the decline in church attendance (some criticism is warranted); however, we also have to acknowledge that churches come in different sizes, shapes and colors. There is no such thing as a perfect fit for a church. If one doesn’t work, there should be an inclination to try another one that can be a better fit.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance is not all about the church, or the pastor or leadership, or even other members.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance lies solely with the person.

No one will deny that going to church every Sunday requires a regular routine, but wait a minute…maybe that’s not quite right.  If you love the Lord and recognize how much He has done for you, going to church is more than just a routine or even a duty…it would be your priority and even something to look forward to every Sunday!

When we look at what the purpose of a church is, we begin to understand where church attendance should be more of a priority.

Matthew 18:20 ESV

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Acts 2:41-42 HCSB

So those who accepted his (Peter’s) message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.

Here in this verse is the takeaway that I hope you can see where some individuals will determine that church is either more or less important.  Peter, in speaking to the crowd, told them to repent and ask Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin (verse 38), and that they would be born again. The people who believed his message trusted him and accepted his message.  You will not devote yourself, or make yourself available for teaching or fellowship with others unless you begin to trust the message.  It is faith in the message that leads to acceptance.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Acts 16:31 declares that you are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 HCSB

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Trust is the first step that leads to faith.  Faith means you accept and believe the message of Jesus Christ, and, as a result, you begin to see the value and benefits of church fellowship.  This is where you can associate the well-known expression, “Take a step of faith.”

The sad part of this is that people don’t readily trust what they are told. People have grown to be skeptical of others.  This skepticism, however, falls back on the listener.

How many people will sit in church for a period of days, weeks, months and years, and hear all kinds of information, and yet make the conscious decision to not believe? It is a lack of trust in the Word, and is ultimately just like not being in church at all.  A lack of trust is crippling, and for some, it can lead to spiritual death.  Church is not just fellowship with other people, or friends or other believers, it is also about fellowship with God.

1 John 1:5-10 HCSB

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If you don’t get anything else out of this, please, please don’t lie to yourself about your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:1-3 HCSB

LORD, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;

You understand my thoughts from far away.

You observe my travels and my rest;

You are aware of all my ways.

The halo effect may also be an issue when it comes to a person’s honesty when it comes to matters of faith. Very few people who you see in a church will share that they don’t have this faith thing all together.  It’s very personal. It’s a private matter.  While it is personal, and it is a private matter, but only God knows where you are with your faith, and He is the ultimate litmus test.

Jeremiah 17:10 HCSB

I, Yahweh, examine the mind,

I test the heart

to give to each according to his way,

according to what his actions deserve.

If you think you’ve got it all together in your relationship with Jesus Christ, you probably don’t.

Proverbs 16:1-2 HCSB

The reflections of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord evaluates the motives.

We are reminded that we have nothing in salvation without the grace of God. Salvation is an undeserved gift from God through the mediator, Jesus Christ.  This alone is a reason to be grateful to God and give Him due praise and worship.

Ephesians 2:4-10 HCSB

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.  For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

We worship God publicly through our daily actions and activity, but we learn about worship within a church fellowship.  A bible-teaching church gives instruction and teaches you how to develop your own study habits to learn more about Christ.

We live in a different day and time, but that doesn’t mean that church is less important today. If anything, it is much more important because it is a place where you can develop your faith and build upon a healthy and intimate relationship in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 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. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

When it comes to your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, do you rely upon the halo effect, or will you humble yourself before God, trust in Him and allow yourself to be teachable and live in the richness of His presence?

True faith in Jesus Christ begins by just believing in Him.  All He desires for you is to “come and you will see” (John 1:39).

 

 

1 http://www.gallup.com/poll/181601/frequent-church-attendance-highest-utah-lowest-vermont.aspx

2 http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


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.

 


Divorce: Not Commanded by God but Allowed (from continuing series on Marriage and Family)

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

Divorce is never commanded by God but it is allowed.

God hates divorce.  He knows the pain and damage that it brings, and only He can heal it.

Malachi 2:16

If he hates and divorces his wife, says the Lord God of Israel, he covers his garment with injustice, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

Divorce scars everyone in the entire family.  It hurts children the most, because what was once stable and secure at one time is no longer the case.

In the beginning, marriage was the union of a male and female (Adam and Eve), and there was no divorce.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, they tried to see if they could trap Him into something that would put Him in a negative light.  Not long before this dialogue, John the Baptist was beheaded for his comments of disapproval over Herod and his marriage to his sister.

Matthew 14:3-4

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

Matthew 19:4-12

Havent you read, He replied, that He who created[a] them in the beginning made them male and female, and He also said:

For this reason a man will leave

his father and mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two will become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.

Why then, they asked Him, did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?

He told them, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning. And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

His disciples said to Him, If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, its better not to marry!

But He told them, Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mothers womb, there are eunuchs who were made by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way because of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.

Exodus 20:14

Do not commit adultery.

 

God deals with adultery as He is forming a people for Himself.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (dealing with Jewish women)

Deuteronomy 24:10-14 (dealing with a foreigner)

Nehemiah 10:30

We will not give our daughters in marriage to the surrounding peoples and will not take their daughters as wives for our sons.

Ezra 9:1 (detestable practices)

Ezra 9:2 (mingling of the holy race)

Ezra 9:14 (intermarrying with people who commit detestable practices)

Ezra 10:3 (sending away)

Ezra 10:11 (separate)

God calls us to separate ourselves to Him

 

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what dies a believer have in common with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.

1 Corinthians 7:15

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace. For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

With all of this, a Christian should never marry an unbeliever under the premise that he or she can “change” the other person.

All the schools of thought were in agreement that divorce was lawful.  The only question was as to the grounds for the divorce.  Why should it take place? (Note that God did not originally put into place any provisions for divorce.  He did not want to lower the standard of marriage.)

Jesus holds to the original plan…divorce was not the option to take.

What divorce does reveals is that what we often don’t want to face…it shows that God understands that, in a fallen world, the ideal of marriage can not always be realized.  God’s best for us is not always acceptable to us.

At a given time, God’s ideal for us is not always achievable.  His ideal doesn’t change to accommodate the failures of people.

God has given man the truth from the very beginning, but man has not always accepted it, and has made truth whatever he or she wants to accomplish.

John 18:37-38

“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.” “What is truth?” said Pilate.

1 Samuel 8:6-9, 19-20

When they said, Give us a king to judge us, Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord told him, Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them.

The people refused to listen to Samuel. No! they said. We must have a king over us. Then well be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.

 

Just as God never commanded remarriage of divorced couples, this doesn’t mean that He never permits it.  Note that the idea of divorcing someone for the sole purpose of marrying someone else is indeed adultery.  Adultery takes place in the mind and the heart of a person well before the bill of divorce was given.

If you wind up marrying three or four times, then it is time to try marriage according to God’s way rather than your own way.

There is a difference between what God commands and what He allows.

The subject of divorce is spoken of in greater detail in the book of Mark (written originally to the Romans–in Roman culture both men and women could write certificates of divorce).

Mark 10:1-12

He set out from there and went to the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Then crowds converged on Him again and, as He usually did, He began teaching them once more. Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

He replied to them, What did Moses command you?

They said, Moses permitted us to write divorce papers and send her away.

But Jesus told them, He wrote this command for you because of the hardness of your hearts. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.

For this reason a man will leave

his father and mother

[and be joined to his wife],

and the two will become one flesh.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.

Now in the house the disciples questioned Him again about this matter. And He said to them, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

 

When you send someone away you lose the right to have authority over the other person.

God does allow divorced couples to remarry as He recognizes the fallen state of man.  He offers forgiveness and mercy throughout the process.

If you make up your mind to marry according to God’s way, there is a better chance that the marriage will last.  God’s expectations are for the husband to be a godly man and for the wife to be a godly woman.  That standard has never changed.