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Change: Don’t Miss the Opportunity

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

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

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

What needs to happen in order to embrace change?

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

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

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

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

  1. Saul only had a penchant for outward appearances.

1 Samuel 9:1-2

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

 

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

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

1 Samuel 9:3-5

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

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

 

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

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

1 Samuel 9:6-10

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

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

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

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

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

 

What does the servant know about this man of God?

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

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

God revealed wisdom to Samuel but not to Saul.

1 Samuel 9:15-20

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

1 Samuel 9:21

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

 

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

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

Are you ready to hear from God?

1 Samuel 9:25-27

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

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

 

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

1 Samuel 10:5-6

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

 

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

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

1 Samuel 10:14-16

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

1 Samuel 10:21-23

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

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

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

 

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

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Your Choice: The Flesh or The Spirit, Part 2

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Satan is busy trying to cause each of us to lose sight of Jesus Christ. He will do anything he can to cause each of us to falter. While he knows he can’t take away our salvation, he knows he can put us on the sidelines.

Even more specifically, Satan has used the power of sexuality to bring down nations and kingdoms. God’s Word in Leviticus is very specific about the kinds of sexual sins that destroy a person.

You have to make a choice to live either in The Spirit or in the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Debauchery or licentiousness is to be preoccupied with sexuality or sexual pleasure. It is a system of ethics that claims pleasure constitutes the greater good. Lasciviousness or lewdness means to be unlearned or unprincipled in this same area (to be unprincipled is to not have any standards).

Advertising today has much to do with sexual messages and sexual connotations. These practices mirror today’s society. Believers are to guard themselves from these behavioral practices.

To be lewd is to show oneself with the intent to excite someone sexually. Lasciviousness is behavior that promotes lustful desires.

Mark 6:22
When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.”

Esther 5:1-3, 6
1 On the third day, Esther dressed up in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing its entrance. 2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his approval. The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.”

6 While drinking the wine, the king asked Esther, “Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”

Esther 1:10-12
10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who personally served him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.

Was Vashti out of line? Not at all. She was upholding her standard that she did not want to be paraded before other men. She valued herself as someone more than just being showed off before others.

Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.

1 Peter 3:3
Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.

Matthew 5:28
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

We should examine our dress and our behaviors when we go before others. There needs to be care and concern from showing others too much. It is more about following a higher standard and reflecting a higher esteem and respect for oneself.

False worship: idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:20)

Idolatry begins within the heart…you want to worship someone or something other than God, and it is always about yourself. It is rebellion to God and being obedient to Him.

Exodus 20:4
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

Idolatry is the worship of idols. It is anything that takes the place of God’s will in your life.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Anything that keeps you from being used by God is idolatry. It is the impurity of sin that keeps you from pleasing Him…sexual immorality, lust, evil desires and greed are all idols.

Idolatry is the participation in demonic activities.

Acts 19:24-27
24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said: “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. 26 You both see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods! 27 So not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin—the very one all of Asia and the world adore.”

Psalm 115:2-8
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven
and does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk.
They cannot make a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.

The purpose of an idol is to be worshiped, but the idol is not heard from or is any action taken by it. With that, why is an idol preferred by some over the living God? It is the flesh that desires the things of the world but it is more about worshiping something that doesn’t give rules or regulations or standards of living. God rules (and He reigns) because God continues to show Himself in love and concern for His people; nevertheless, following Him is still a choice.


Confidence in The Lord

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Do you put into practice what you read in God’s Word? Whenever you are reading your devotions, ask God to show you how to live out what you read for the day. If you ask Him, He will indeed show you how to do it.

Matthew 7:24-28 (HCSB)
The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

28 When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching,

We’re continuing on with this study on confidence in The Lord. How many of you have confidence in Him? Many of us believe He exists, but confidence in Him is completely different. To have confidence in Him is to have faith in Him and trust Him that He is able to provide what we need. We lack confidence in Him, in contrast, when we only trust in our abilities to provide for ourselves.

“If being a Christian is not reflected with a life of increasing righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, love, or justice, what remains to differentiate a follower of Christ from other people?” – Skye Jethani

Instead of using symbols that reflect we are Christians, are we living in such a way that is truly different from the world? Is there a substance to your life from the inside out? What God wants to see from us is a great confidence in Him…because you believe and trust in The Lord.

Confidence gives us the ability to help each of us to prosper and distinguish righteousness each day. It is more than just confidence in eternal life…it is a way of life.

If you lack confidence, you will not have the patience or desire to wait on Him. If we continually run ahead of Him or act before He acts, you will not have contentment in your life. Your confidence is only in yourself and not in God.

God wants us to practice what James says:

James 4:13
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.

15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

If it is the Lord’s will for you to live a certain way, do you stop to consider your decisions in accordance with Him? If it is the Lord’s will, you will have the confidence to perform on His behalf.

The Lord says “be anxious for nothing” (Luke 12:29) and to wait upon Him. We are to consider God in everything we do.

Be aware that confidence in God is not having confidence in yourself. Confidence in God requires surrendering to Him and involving Him in everything, which requires asking Him and waiting for answers from Him. The more that God answers you when you yield to Him, the greater your confidence in Him and His ability to minister to you. It’s not just about how He blesses you. It is in how you live your life abundantly through Him. He wants you to build your relationship with Him and be confident in Him. God is our Heavenly Father who we can speak to anytime and anywhere.

Unfortunately, we have witnessed many who may publicly declare that they know The Lord but yet meet extremely difficulty because there is a lack of confidence in The Lord and the necessary faith in Him to be able to live successfully in Jesus Christ.

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

Luke 1:37
For nothing will be impossible with God.

Philippians 3:3
For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.

Confidence in The Lord is seen in the evidence of Christ in your life. When you surrender to Him, He will amaze you in what you will see Him do in your life. It is to live in such a way, as you build your relationship with Him, that you will never want to live outside of His will and purpose for you. He will give you His best counsel.

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.

To live in confidence is to overcome the desires of the flesh, which will take credit for what only God can do. The flesh will often find ways to sabotage what God does for us. Your confidence in Christ is always at war with the flesh.

In our confidence, He will have His way in your life, and it’s for our best interests. He is going to accomplish what He wants for you, even if we need to learn lessons along the way.

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Our confidence is not in the flesh. Always remain confident in Jesus Christ in everything that you do. We do not want to live as the world does (on earthly things) and become an enemy of the cross of Christ. Our minds are to dwell on heavenly things. Everything here on earth is temporary and won’t last.

Philippians 3:1-3
3 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a protection for you.

2 Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:18-19, 21
18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things,

21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.

Jesus is in control of everything. You need to acknowledge that He is in control of your finances, your employment and your family…everything that you do. When you acknowledge these things, pray to God that you remain in accord with Him throughout your life. Speak to Him all day long and remain confident in His ability to give you everything that you need.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:31
What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?

All of this is conditional upon your love and obedience to God through Jesus Christ. Your confidence in Jesus Christ will indeed change your life. He will teach you how to wait patiently upon Him and see how He will go beyond even your own expectations.

Psalm 73:26, 28
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.

28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.