Tag Archives: voice

Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

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

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.


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

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

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

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

1 Kings 19:9-18

He entered a cave there and spent the night.

Elijahs Encounter with the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 10:2-5

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

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

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

Colossians 3:15-16

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

Ephesians 5:18-21

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

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ.

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 12:6-9

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

Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19:11-12

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

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

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

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

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


The Seven Bowls

A message summary from April 24, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 16:1-2

Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment and wrath, He still does want people to repent from their sin and turn to Him.

Jesus is giving direction through the last of the seven bowls.

A loud voice was coming from the temple.  It belonged to Jesus.

Revelation 15:5-8

After this I looked, and the heavenly sanctuary—the tabernacle of testimony—was opened. Out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean, bright linen, with gold sashes wrapped around their chests. One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s glory and from His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

There was such glory and power that was present where no one could enter.  The great voice that comes out in Rev. 16:1 is that of Jesus Christ.  There is no great joy in what He is taking place, because we must remember that even though He is just and right, He still desired for all to be saved.

Isaiah 66:6

A sound of uproar from the city! A voice from the temple–the voice of the Lord, paying back His enemies what they deserve!

Revelation 11:15

The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!”

Revelation 14:8-10a

A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all the nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger.

While there are woes on earth, there is an excitement in heaven.  The excitement is the kingdoms of the earth are becoming part of the kingdom of heaven. God is not joyful in all of what will take place, because He loves even the worst of those who are sinners.

The pouring of the bowls will be a time a great distress.

Matthew 24:21

For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!

Bowl: a vial with a wide mouth.  A bowl has a wide opening at its top.  A bowl pours out its contents all at one time.  This implies that His wrath will happen very quickly.  I think that the reason God does this is because He knows that this will be so terrible that it is to be done as quickly as possible.

The judgment of sin will move and end quickly. God will take swift action, which also still will reflect His grace and mercy.

God does indeed love everyone He has created.  There is not a person who God hates.

The judgment will be over quickly because:

Jeremiah 6:10

Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the Lord has become contemptible to them–they find no pleasure in it.

There comes a time when talking is over.

Ezekiel 18:23, 32

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?

For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!”

Understand that the heart of God will not take pleasure in punishing His children.  Remember that He witnessed His Son dying on the cross for all of mankind.

Ezekiel 33:11

Tell them: As I live” — the declaration of the Lord God — “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.

Even God Himself does not get what He desires.  Some will perish even though He does not want that to happen.

We can’t picture God wrestling over this issue, but you can understand it better if you can see that God does not want any to perish, and that His love for us is measured in how Jesus Christ died for us.

The person born again in Jesus Christ is a completely different individual.  That is His pleasure…to see people get saved, and not be condemned.

He won’t make you do something that you don’t want to do.  His pleasure is to see His children get saved and not to suffer under His condemnation, for He will still act in righteousness. He is true to Himself.

 

 

 


The Fifth Seal

Today’s message summary of November 1, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

 

John was taken from his earthly plain to a heavenly plain in order to gain greater understanding.

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less, Edward Mote (1797-1874)

 

If you are trusting in anything else other than Jesus Christ, all you are standing on is sinking sand. If you believe in Him, you will indeed live it out.

The Fifth Seal demonstrates how each of us is to live. It is how we are to stand for Jesus and learn more about this as we go along. As long as there is a lack of knowledge of who He is, it is difficult, if not impossible, to truly stand for Him.

With the Fifth Seal, John is taken to see heavenly visions. There is neither horse nor ruler mentioned. He is taken up in order to see what is taking place in heaven with Jesus and His faithful followers.

John sees the souls of the slain under the altar. There is a good chance that many of our young people may grow to see the times when people are being killed because of the gospel. Today, we have seen how a football coach was suspended for praying with his team after a game. A woman was jailed for her conviction about not granting licenses for gay marriages. This is just the beginning today.

The Fifth Seal is about how we are to live here on earth now.

2 Timothy 1:12

…and this is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

 

The people that John saw under the altar knew what they had lived for and knew who they had died for. They did not waver in their belief and stood firm before losing their lives.

Romans 4:20-21

He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

 

Are you fully persuaded as to God’s promises for you? Are you persuaded that God is able to protect your soul?

Are you confident in the One you believe in? Is your faith anchored to Him?

Romans 14:5

One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.

 

Colossians 4:12

Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills.

 

Are you fully assured in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your only God?

I’m praying that this church is fully assured in who Jesus Christ is and believes only in Him. You are called to reverence Him and not a pastor or group of people.

Are you taking a stand against those things that are against God’s Word?

At what point are you willing to take such a stand?

The slain chose to take a stand against the religion of the false prophet.

Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group based upon their religious beliefs or affiliation, or lack thereof.

Persecution is certainly not new, but there will be a greater presence of it because of the opposition of Satan and of the Antichrist.

Persecution tests a person’s belief system–how one views himself and others, one’s morality, attitude and worldview. The Antichrist will be out to change how people see life in order to get them to worship him. If a person does not comply, he will have the person killed.

Those who are firm in Christ will stand firm in Him.

Persecution is to bring about reform. It creates an environment for change of belief. Some will say “no” because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

In 2014, over 165,000 Christians lost their lives because of their faith, and the number will be growing each year.

Matthew 5:10-12

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. “You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Philippians 1:20-26

My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I dont know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christwhich is far betterbut to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

 

Be prayerful that God gives you the courage to stand before those who oppose you and to believe in His Word as you read it. Be prayerful that Christ is glorified.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and be at home with the Lord.

 

John saw the souls of the slain. What this meant to him…

  1. There was no more hunger
  2. There were no more challenges of one’s faith
  3. There was no more mental torment or fear.
  4. There was no more witnessing.

They died because of…

  1. The Word of God
  2. The testimony that they maintained. They would not renounce Him.

In those days, there will be no such thing as a “secret believer.” The testimony will be evident before everyone.

Mark 4:17

But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble.

 

Many will quickly fall away because there is no firm commitment and belief in Jesus Christ.

Paul talked and debated with his opposition, and they tried to kill him.

Acts 9:29

He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they attempted to kill him.

 

We are to endure the persecution and stand for Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12

Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless; we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.

 

The Word of God is never chained or silent.

2 Timothy 2:8-9

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound.

 

Matthew 10:17-21, 35-36

Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death.

For I came to turn

a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

and a man’s enemies will be

the members of his household.

 

Matthew 24:9-14

Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

 

John 16:1-2

“I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling. They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God.”

 

Knowing that there is a purpose in persecution of those who believe, it is necessary to know what and who you believe in, and to stand firm in Jesus Christ.


The Fruits of the Spirit – Joy

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

In ministry, it is important to remain focused on Jesus Christ. We should be cautious when we lean on our own wisdom instead of continuing to seek God’s wisdom. We should avoid leaning on our own strength, which can also lead to failure. It is best to depend on the wisdom of God. Another hindrance in ministry is failure to lean on the Holy Spirit.

 

Deuteronomy 4:12

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice.

Are you able to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit?

True joy can’t be artificially induced. Joy comes from being in the presence of God. While there may be a fair amount of pain experienced in ministry, the real joy is in seeing God at work in the ministry.

 

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

It’s the presence of God that brings joy.

 

Leviticus 9:23-24

23 Moses and Aaron then entered the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell facedown on the ground.

 

1 Chronicles 29:20-22

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So the whole assembly praised the Lord God of their ancestors. They bowed down and paid homage to the Lord and the king.

21 The following day they offered sacrifices to the Lord and burnt offerings to the Lord: 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, along with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 They ate and drank with great joy in the Lord’s presence that day.

Then, for a second time, they made David’s son Solomon king; they anointed him as the Lord’s ruler, and Zadok as the priest.

 

Luke 1:44

For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!

 

Acts 2:28

You have revealed the paths of life to me;

You will fill me with gladness

in Your presence.

 

Psalm 16:11

You reveal the path of life to me;

in Your presence is abundant joy;

in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

 

Joy is not in the ministry itself, but in the discovery of the work of God in the midst of the ministry.

 

Our joy is in the work of The Lord through us by the Holy Spirit.

 

Psalm 92:4-6

4 For You have made me rejoice, Lord,

by what You have done;

I will shout for joy

because of the works of Your hands.

5 How magnificent are Your works, Lord,

how profound Your thoughts!

6 A stupid person does not know,

a fool does not understand this.

 

It is what The Lord does that makes one glad.

samach (saw-makh) – to brighten up, cheer up

make glad, joyful, to rejoice

 

God wants us to know His presence. Even with the problems of life, you will experience joy in His presence!

 

Psalm 118:13-17

13 You pushed me hard to make me fall,

but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;

He has become my salvation.

15 There are shouts of joy and victory

in the tents of the righteous:

“The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!

16 The Lord’s right hand is raised.

The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!”

17 I will not die, but I will live

and proclaim what the Lord has done.

 

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

 

The joy of The Lord is your strength.

 

Luke 10:17

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

 

John 15:9-11

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

 

Obedience in God’s Word brings joy.

Jesus wants us to have His joy.

 

John 17:11-19

11 I am no longer in the world,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to You.

Holy Father,

protect them by Your name

that You have given Me,

so that they may be one as We are one.

12 While I was with them,

I was protecting them by Your name

that You have given Me.

I guarded them and not one of them is lost,

except the son of destruction,

so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.

13 Now I am coming to You,

and I speak these things in the world

so that they may have My joy completed in them.

14 I have given them Your word.

The world hated them

because they are not of the world,

as I am not of the world.

15 I am not praying

that You take them out of the world

but that You protect them from the evil one.

16 They are not of the world,

as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them by the truth;

Your word is truth.

18 As You sent Me into the world,

I also have sent them into the world.

19 I sanctify Myself for them,

so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

 

Acts 13:48-52

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women, who worshiped God, and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

 

Matthew 10:13-14

13 and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town.

 

Romans 14:17

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6

and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.

 

This joy is in spite of severe suffering.

 

Hebrews 12:2

keeping our eyes on Jesus,the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Himendured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

God indeed focuses on our real need and allows us to look past our problems in order to experience His joy within His presence.

 

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!


Listen to His Voice

The following is a summary and commentary of a sermon that I presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church in 2006.

Last week we were in Hebrews Chapter 3 learning about the relationship between Jesus Christ and us.  We learned that Jesus Christ was appointed by God to be in charge of His household, which refers to all of us within the body of Christ, and His church.  God created all of us, and Jesus was put in charge of us by His divine appointment.

Hebrews 3:3-6

Therefore, holy brothers and companions in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession; He was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said [in the future].  But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.

There is a role for all of us within God’s household that we must be mindful of, however, and that important piece of our relationship within Jesus Christ is revealed here beginning in Hebrews 3:6 where it states “But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are IF WE HOLD ON TO THE COURAGE AND THE CONFIDENCE OF OUR HOPE.”  Some manuscripts add the words “Hope in Christ” or “firm to the end.”  So it is our responsibility, as members of God’s family, in the body of Christ, within our church and in our Christian community, for us to hold onto the courage and confidence of our hope for the rest of our lives in Christ Jesus.  It is by doing this that we remain as members in “good standing” within His household.  What do I mean by members in “good standing”?  Well, you can be a member of an organization, but as a member there are certain things (at the very least minimum requirements must be met) that must be done within the organization in order to fulfill the terms and conditions of your membership.  Members that do these things are regarded as members in “good standing.”  If one fails to meet these requirements, it does not mean that your membership is automatically cancelled or that you were being kicked out of the group, but it does mean that you may be a member “not in good standing.”  You can also be a member of the body of Christ, God’s family, and yet you are not doing the things that God would have you to do.  Here is where your relationship with God may be tenuous.  God has one standard for all of us to meet, and if we fail to meet that standard, our membership is classified as “not in good standing.”  God does not cancel our salvation or break His promises to us.  If we are not in good standing it is because we have failed Him or broken our promises to Him when we accepted Christ.

We fail God, and yet He does not fail us.  We fail Him because all too often we succumb to the temptations of the flesh, the world we live in, and we put God in a place far removed from first place in our lives.  We fail to obey His laws and precepts and we fall victim to our own selfish desires…pridefulness, jealousy, envy, anger with sinful behavior.  No, we don’t lose our membership in God’s family, but we systematically remove ourselves from God’s fellowship because we find the ways of the devil as more attractive.  All of this occurs because we fail to listen to what He has to say to us.

In Hebrews 3:7, this is exactly why the voice that we are to listen to, in the form of the Holy Spirit, makes a strong and firm declaration.

Hebrews 3:7-11

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested Me, tried [Me], and saw My works for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with this generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.”

We need to listen to His voice, and not just listen, but also trust in His voice.  We get ourselves in trouble because of our inconsistency in trusting in Him and our failure to truly believe in Him.  We are distracted all too easily by the flesh.

Why do we fail to believe in Him?  We show a lack of courage versus the world.

Courage is the ability to act on what we know is right and good, and to dare to do what we should or must.  While fear paralyzes, it is courage that helps us move ahead.

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

We lack confidence in God and who He is in our lives.  Confidence has many meanings.  It also can imply our level of faith, our level of hope, and our level of trust in Him.  Note that I refer to having confidence in Jesus Christ and not just confidence in us, which is completely different.

The other reason why we don’t listen to His voice is that we listen to other voices.  We have been studying in Sunday school about our first enemy who is all-powerful…the flesh.  We can never allow the flesh to get the upper hand.

Romans 6:12-14

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

Pride creates an adversarial relationship with God.

Psalm 95:6-11

Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care. Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness where your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. For 40 years I was disgusted with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray; they do not know My ways.’ So I swore in My anger, ‘They will not enter My rest.’ ”

Anger must be subdued.

Genesis 4:3-7

In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented [an offering]—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

We are to avoid these failures and heed the warnings in Hebrews 3 and 4.  Notice the emphasis–in triplicate–within these Scriptures to bring the point home:

Hebrews 3:7-8, 14-15, 4:7

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert…For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…again, He specifies a certain day—today—speaking through David after such a long time, as previously stated: Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

In Hebrews 4:7, the emphasis is not to put off listening tomorrow (which is the response that the flesh will always present to you when it is time to make a decision).  The importance of doing it today as referenced means “DO IT NOW!”  Today is the day, not tomorrow, not next week, not when you get older and more settled in…today!!!

We run away from God when our life is not right.  Look at the evidence of this in Genesis 3:8-11:

Genesis 3:8-11

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I had commanded you not to eat from?”

God ignores no one.  He knows each and every one of us, and we cannot and will not escape His judgment.

Hebrews 4:12-13

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.

Psalm 139:1-4

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. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord.

Watch your thoughts and heed your actions.

You can fool others with your false sincerity.

You can even try to fool yourself.

God will not be fooled.

Turn your heart to Him, and give it all that you’ve got!

Deuteronomy 4:29

But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find [Him] when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.

What about overcoming a lack of courage or the lack of confidence?

Joshua 1:9

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We are commanded by God to do this.  Listen to His command.  Remain faithful to the end.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For additional content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.


A Time To Step Up and Speak Up

It is important for parents to communicate with their children about the world we live in, especially in the area of morality and values. Parents need to speak regularly with their children and have frank discussions about matters of right and wrong because there are, unfortunately, ongoing conflicting voices and opinions that are prevalent from media sources, network programming, and even Hollywood and its celebrities. Today, to counter these messages that are in conflict with our values, we must have the courage to speak up for what is truth. We must take a stand for righteousness and be clear in our opposition to sin and deviant behavior. Taking such a declarative stand, of course, has a cost, and we should be prepared for such a cost and fallout for speaking the truth according to God’s Word.

This stance will require courage and strength from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We have to come to a place where we, as a people, have to be prepared to speak up and declare the truth about sin, sexuality outside of God’s intent within marriage, and the gay lifestyle. There are many people who are openly proclaiming that open sexuality and the gay lifestyle is acceptable behavior. Their opposition to any discussion about such behavior is that they should be free to make the choices to live as they do, and that they love everyone, and challenge others to be more open-minded. On the surface, this may be a valid argument until you compare this reasoning with God’s Word, His standards, and its true authority in our lives. The reality is that sin, which is contrary to God’s Word, can have a significant negative impact on your relationship, if any, with God, on your life, and even the lives of others.

For those who believe and trust in God’s Word, are you ashamed of what the Bible teaches? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? For we are not like the many who market God’s message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). When a believer in Jesus Christ goes from place to place, he or she should be presenting a “fragrance” of the knowledge and wisdom of Christ before anyone and everyone in which they make contact. The reality is that there are two different groups of people that you will encounter–those that will have the desire to know Christ, and those who will reject the message of the gospel. Do you realize that your choice to receive salvation is an agreement with God? For those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they are in agreement with God about His message of truth. If one does not accept the gospel, then God is in agreement with the choice to reject Him, and He will allow that person to go his or her own way–to be eternally separated from Him. The truth of the gospel is inherent in the message that needs to be communicated in how sin and a sinful lifestyle separates us from God.

There are things that should never occur amongst the people of God. “Now Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king; he reigned 17 years in Jerusalem, the city where Yahweh had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name. Rehoboam’s mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. They provoked Him to jealous anger more than all that their ancestors had done with the sins they committed. They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree; there were even male cult prostitutes in the land. They imitated all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites” (1 Kings 14:21-24). What God had driven out previously that was against Him and His instruction was being brought back in. Was this practice much different than what is occurring today? Hardly. As a people, those who profess to follow Christ have become accustomed to outside influences that have compromised God’s Word within the church and within the body of Christ. The minds of those who practice sexuality in the form of prostitution have to be trained to do what they practice. These are willful acts that are contrary to God’s Word. “No Israelite woman is to be a cult prostitute, and no Israelite man is to be a cult prostitute. Do not bring a female prostitute’s wages or a male prostitute’s earnings into the house of the Lord your God to fulfill any vow, because both are detestable to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). God’s Word makes it clear that money earned through prostitution should not be shared with the church.

The people of God are the army of God that combats against sin (Judges 20:1-2). There is an urgent need for a counter-response to those who sin and practice sinful behaviors (Judges 19:20-26). How much of an effect can sin have on a multitude of people? In the book of Judges chapters 19 and 20, note that one incident of a sexual act resulted in the death of 100,130 people. A tribe of Israel was destroyed because of what it allowed to occur within their midst. Note that the men who participate in this grievous event were evil and perverted. The thought process of that time was to not necessarily abstain from deviant sexual behavior, but to allow for this type of behavior to be perpetrated against the under a different outlet women, or in this case, a female concubine of the house guest (Judges 19:25-27). The result of this travesty was noted in the verses that followed in Judges 20:5-7.

How does this relate to today? We need to make a decision as a group with one voice that deviant sexual behavior, with its roots in sinful behavior, is morally wrong. Unfortunately, the body of Christ has been deeply divided in its communication of this message to the world, and even amongst its own people. As individuals, we have to make a decision–is it a sin to have sex outside of marriage? Is it sinful to participate in gay sex? Is this behavior right or wrong? In order to even begin to come together as a group, we have to make these decisions as individuals and take a stand for God’s Word and righteousness.

Do you know that, while there is suffering in your decision to speak the truth, God will protect you? “For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (2 Timothy 1:11-12).

The body of Christ must come together and be united as one voice for the truth of the gospel and God’s Word…He never intended for the church to be divided. “Knowing their thoughts, He told them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand‘” (Matthew 12:25). “Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words” (Romans 16:17). See also Judges 20:11, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, and 1 Corinthians 12:25.

Who are to be have one voice against? Sometimes the audience is right in front of us–it may be the members of our own families or someone very close to us that is involved in the ongoing practice of sinful behavior (Judges 20:13; Genesis 46:21, 49:27). Yet, it is vital to speak the truth about sin and its ultimate destruction and devastation in the lives of people.

Conquering sin and those who oppose the message of truth will not be swift. While it will not come quickly, victory will eventually come to pass. Until that time, we must continue to encourage each other in the combat and struggle (Judges 20:17-36). When you are taking a stand for truth in the battle against sin, there will ultimately be conflict. We are to encourage, and pray, for one another. Sometimes God has to allow for us to be in a state of brokenness in order to best use us for His glory and His purpose. There are times we need to give of ourselves in fasting, prayer, and sacrifice of ourselves to bring us to a place where we are relying on God’s energy and strength to accomplish His will and purpose (Judges 20:28). When we see God in the way that He wants us to see Him, and we have the proper reverence of Him, He will give you victory (Romans 8:37-39).

In this combat against sin, as we speak to those who need to hear the truth about sin, we need to remember that it starts with an individual decision, and that we work in unity with others for the common goal of proclaiming the gospel. We are to grieve when someone is caught up in sin (Judges 20:6), and we need to not make light of sin and what is occurring in our lives. We are to pray for the Lord’s guidance in addressing these issues in reverence for God and His Word. We need to trust Him that He will give us the victory as we remain obedient to His Word and trust in Him.