Tag Archives: will

Salvation and the Church: Sent Out to Learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the groups’ instructions:

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

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

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

Mark 6:12-13

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

Matthew 10:7-8

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

To the seventy-two:

Luke 10:8

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

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

Philippians 4:19

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

God takes care of His people.

Matthew 10:11-13

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

Luke 9:4

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

Luke 10:5-6

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

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

Matthew 10:16

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

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

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

Luke 10:17

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

They were learning to walk by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

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

2 Corinthians 5:20

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

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

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

Coming together into a group is only the beginning.

Staying together is a sign of progress.

Working together is success.

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

Four important lessons learned by being sent out:

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

Psalm 26:2

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

Lamentations 3:40

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

2 Corinthians 13:5

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

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

Acts 17:28

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

  1. Commit your ways to Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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

  1. Learn to transmit knowledge to others.

Acts 20:27

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

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

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

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Church and Salvation: Two Ministries

Today’s message summary of October 29, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

When you are in the church and you have declared Christ as your personal Savior, He gives you the desire to minister to others.  Ministry requires discipline and getting more and more into the Word of God.

All of us have two ministries.  Everything falls within them.  The first ministry involves your church–your family of disciples.  The other ministry involves your community.  Jesus provides examples where He was active in both of these ministries.

Ministry is not to be driven by “impact” or “numbers” or “success.”  While we want to have an impact in the lives of people and see church membership grow, ministry only has one thing that drives it within one’s heart, and that is obedience to God.

Many people follow Jesus for different reasons, including the receipt of His blessings, but leave out the importance of remaining obedient to Him.

John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

Do you have a desire and goals to actively do God’s work?

The reason why people don’t actively see God working in their lives is because they don’t really seek after doing the things that God would have them to do.  When you are actively seeking His presence, He will show you what He can do.

John 5:36

“But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish.  These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me.

When God is using you and there is evidence that His work is flowing through your efforts, it is a testimony of God’s work through your life.  God is actively moving and working in the lives of those who are obedient to Him and to His will.  Their ministry testifies that God is using them.

John 6:38

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Your obedience to God shows that His will is important to you.

Ministry involves your will surrendering to God’s will.

To do ministry, you cannot do it in your own power or strength.  It will only truly work when you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him work in your life.

How many of you attempt to do something, and it fails?  In failure comes learning.  It is an opportunity to learn something.

You should never be satisfied when nothing is attempted.  God is the One who can give the victory if you strive to do His work more and more.

Your ministry matters, because it reveals your obedience, and the results of ministry reveals God’s faithfulness in the work He assigned you.

1 Corinthians 3:5-10

What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God’s coworkers.  You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.  But each one must be careful how he builds on it.

Ministry has a staring place and must be defined.  Jesus reflects this within His own ministry.

  • Jesus is starting with His own (Matthew 15:24).
  • Do not go among the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6).
  • Begin in Jerusalem…ministry in your own home and family (Acts 1:8)
  • Judea: your neighbors, co-workers–the people around you.
  • Samaria: people who are different, your enemies, and people you don’t like.
  • To the world: everyone else, especially people you do not know.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus sends people to those that are known first (family and friends) because He wants people to work their way up to eventually go out before others over time.  People who are in ministry need time to grow within the ministry.  Mistakes will happen, but experience in ministry is a good teacher.  The Holy Spirit will provide guidance within this learning opportunity.  All that He desires is your obedience and to keep trying.

As you gain more experience, you will see how God will send you out further and further in your ministry–even to minister to those who are your enemies.  Jesus taught His disciples as to how they could do battle with their enemies, but they first had to learn how to love one another and minister to one another before they were sent out.


Remembering History (Family Series cont’d)

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

A true measure of a person is how one stands during the time of a crisis.  Will people stand for the Lord, or not?

History is important to remember and understand.  What we experience in our past will help in dealing with future events.  It is important to look upon where you came from, but even important to see God’s fingerprints throughout your life and how He has kept you.  You should be able to see where God has moved in your life.

Proverbs 23:10

Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless.

 

There are markers throughout life that need to remain in place as reminders as to who God was at that time and to see His work.

Young children would ask mothers, fathers and grandparents, “Why is there segregation?” “Why is their racial discrimination?”  Sometimes, because a child was too young to understands, the answer would be, “That’s the way it is!” and to avoid trouble or not get in the way.

Dr. Martin Luther King inspired many people to take a different view…to get in the way and even into trouble.  He encouraged people to get active for the cause of freedom, but there were also times when it was best to speak up.  He wanted people to believe that change was possible, even with the society of his time.  This is still true today.  Change is possible even with the difficulty that many experience today (drugs, murder and lack of education).

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

In the midst of difficulty, we are to look for how God will act, and He reminds us to put the interests of others before yourself.

Life is not just about you.

It is OK to suffer as you recognize that you are becoming more like Jesus Christ.  God wants you to see Him in the midst of all of this.

If you really study Martin Luther King, you would see that his life was about those that he served.

In his life story, he certainly had his faults, but he also noted when he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  God will use a person who is much less than perfect to accomplish His will and for His glory.  He used King to proclaim a dream for others during his time that others could not see.

King entered Morehouse College at age 15.  One of his heroes was Mordecai Johnson, President of Howard University.  He would read his speeches and studied him.  This was how he learned about speech and how to speak.  He heard Dr. Johnson say, “In the midst of death, life persists.  In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

John 1:4-5

Life was in Him (Jesus Christ), and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

 

From the words of Dr. Johnson came the inspiration for Dr. King as he prepared to enter the seminary.  He said, “We are going to change this nation.”

Young people, are you looking for ways to do better than your parents or grandparents ever did?  Are you looking to go to greater heights to overcome your family history?  What matters most is what you set out to accomplish.  What are your goals?  Study your own family history to avoid the pitfalls.  It is wise to choose the ones in your family, or even outside of your family, that will provide wise counsel.  When you want to learn, God will put someone in your path to help you.

When looking at life in the present, history shows us what needs to be changed in order to do well in the future.

Stephen’s speech is a history lesson (Acts 7).  We learn how Stephen demonstrates his measure of being a man who takes a stand for Jesus Christ.  He asks for an audience, which is made up of people who are both younger and older than he is (Acts 7:2).

First, he spoke about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was the father of the twelve patriarchs (tribes).  He then spoke about Joseph, who was forgotten, and also Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon.  Stephen brings his audience to a place of recognizing their history and facing it.  The people were just like their ancestors–they resisted God.

Acts 7:51-53

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

 

All cultures should be aware of their history…both the good and the bad things.

Paul shares his history as a Jew, and how he became a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-8).

Paul also shares another history when he became an apostle (Galatians 1:11-18).

It is from these two experiences that make Paul the person that he was, and from this it is hoped that you can see that reviewing your own history is also helpful and provides perspective on the wonders of God in your own life.

History tells us that God had a hand on this country through very difficult and trying times.

God has given you a history.  God has given this country a history.  In both instances, there are things to be proud of, and some that bring shame and regret.  These things are still to be reckoned with and acknowledged in order to see how to avoid mistakes of the past and imitate those things that are good and proclaim God’s glory and presence.  We learn from our past to know how to live our future in Jesus Christ, and to please Him in your service.  God uses people who are visionaries to accomplish His will.

Like Stephen and Paul, if a person worries about personal safety and status, they will accomplish nothing.

Dr. King was an idealist and a visionary.  He transcended race, ethnicity, nationality and politics. He talked with those of little education as well as those with graduate degrees.  He walked with everyone. His faith in Jesus prevailed over fear and uncertainty, fatigue and depression.  He stood in the gap for our nation.

Ezekiel 22:30

I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

 

As far as this church, and its future, is concerned, it is much more than just a black church, or a mixed ethnicity church, or a church of people with different backgrounds.  It is a church of people who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.


Your IMAGE, A PACT and Finding Your PASSION

Today’s message of January 29, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

We have been spending time over the past few months in Sunday school studying the act of discipleship.  Discipleship involves the ability to communicate the gospel effectively to those who desire to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and also to be able to come alongside those who are believers in Jesus with encouragement, instruction and accountability.  Both of these actions are Spirit-driven through both your desire to serve Jesus and through the enabling and guiding power of the Holy Spirit.

Your ability to serve requires preparation, including preparatory study, and this involves the practice of living daily in God’s IMAGE.

Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.

Being created in the likeness of God is a big deal! We are the highest honor of His creation, and we were created to be in the family of Jesus Christ, who is also in the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4):

Hebrews 1:1-3 HCSB

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With this in mind, living in His IMAGE is a great responsibility! To live in His IMAGE is to live in a Christlike manner according to His will, His purpose and His glory!

Romans 12:2 HCSB

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.

1 Peter 2:15 ESV

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Romans 8:28-29 HCSB

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 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. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

Galatians 3:26 ESV

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

The word “IMAGE” is an acronym of the characteristics of a believer of Jesus Christ living a Christlike existence:

  • The letter “I” is to investigate Scripture, which is more than just reading the bible. It’s digging deep into the Word.
  • The letter “M” is to meditate on His Word in prayer.
  • The letter “A” is to act on His word in consistency and with obedience.
  • The letter “G” is to grow in your faith and mature as the Holy Spirit continues to impart wisdom and knowledge along with your life experiences.
  • The letter “E” is to endure life’s moments and shine before others to glorify God.

Another aspect of growing as an effective disciple for Jesus Christ incorporates this past year’s introduction of effective decision-making as a believer.  It involves making a PACT with Jesus Christ.  It is a commitment to make the best life choices in obedience to honor God and cherish His Word.

The word “PACT” is an acronym for how to be an effective decision-maker as you live for Jesus Christ:

  • The letter “P” is for prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • The letter “A” is to ask God for wisdom within your decision-making (Matthew 7:7-8).
  • The letter “C” is to consult others who can offer their own good advice or wisdom to you before you make decisions. God puts people in your life for this very purpose.
  • The letter “T” is to trust in Jesus to provide you with the best advice as you make your decisions.

Making the right decisions in life will help you to remain consistently obedient to Jesus Christ, and in this process, the Spirit will help you to conform to living as Jesus desires for you to live.  It helps you to go beyond what only the world, or even the flesh, offers.

Matthew 5:43-48 HCSB

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These principles are all reinforced with Scripture, and the effort of preparation makes for better practitioners as servants of Jesus Christ.  He provides us with the Holy Spirit to give us the energy and effort that we need to be successful.

Your preparation is very, very important in the process of growth and development in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the same way that an athlete has to undergo training in order to participate at a high level in a sport, and just as we need to have a healthy diet and exercise to take care of our own bodies, we must prepare to serve Christ in order to be at our best.  But there is also another important reason why we prepare to be effective practitioners of discipleship…the ongoing preparation should also provide you with a greater insight into the character of God and an even greater desire, as you learn more about Him, to serve Him in everything that you do.

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Serving Jesus Christ is not a hobby.  It is a full-time endeavor.

Serving Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of your participation in His Great Commission.

Serving Jesus Christ is an expression of your love for Him and your desire to bring everything you learn about Him into everything that you do.

Your preparation of participation in ministry for Christ should be an ongoing process that reveals to you how you are capable of serving Him.  There is much to learn about Him, and you will find that there is much to learn about yourself, too.  As you get to know more about Jesus Christ, the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit molds and shapes you into a better “you” in Christ.  It is as this occurs that you get to know more of who you really are in Christ.  This is much better than who you are in the flesh, or who you thought you were before and ever after you accepted Christ as your personal Savior.  It is the Spirit’s sanctifying power that reveals His wisdom and knowledge about yourself and who you are in Christ.

Until you learn who you are in Jesus Christ, you will always be searching for something.  But once you learn who you are, you will find your purpose in Jesus Christ.  You will be compelled to live openly and actively for Christ.  You will find your passion in Jesus Christ.

For those listening that are still uncertain about all of this devotion over Jesus Christ, it is important for you to know and understand that Jesus Christ lived on this earth and gave His life for you.  He paid the ultimate price to sacrifice Himself because He loved you.  He demonstrated, through His death on the cross, that He loves you.  He showed that He is passionate about you.

John 3:16-17 ESV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So what this is all about is how you, in learning more about Jesus Christ, recognize the passion of living for Jesus Christ that He has for you.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, which is your spiritual worship.

What are you passionate about?  What do you really, really care about?

If you are seeking Jesus Christ, you will eventually learn what you are passionate about. You will find that there are things that you like to do, and things that you like to do more than other things, but following Christ will reveal your passion for Christ.

Your passion is rooted by your gifts.  Your gifts consist of your God-given gifted talents and your spiritual gifts if you have declared Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Let’s be clear about something here…you can have all kinds of God-given talent and even spiritual gifts and still not realize your passion.  You have to use these talents and gifts with the understanding that God has given them to you, and that you want to serve Him with all of your heart and soul.  Only then will you get this passion thing down pat.

Without this passion, you’re not really living your life in the way that God would like to see you live it.  Sure, you’re doing more than existing, but not much more than that.  There are people that you love and care for, help and give of yourself, and you can even go your entire life in church serving others; however, you can still be unsatisfied with the direction of your life.  Ask yourself this question:  How can I live the abundant life that God promises for me?

John 10:10 HCSB

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

You can live the abundant life with passion by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You can live the abundant life with passion by “presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

You can live the abundant life of passion by humbling yourself before God and allowing yourself to be teachable.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

If you make the effort to seek God, He will affirm your efforts.  Sometimes the blessings come when you take the steps to live for Him.

Living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus, and discovering passion as you live out your life purpose.  There can be nothing more fulfilling than when you learn your passion as you live for Jesus Christ.

In this new year, make it a personal commitment to discover your passion.  Jesus Christ wants to see you live the abundant life!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Sixth Seal: God’s Witness of Himself

Today’s message summary of November 8, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

When we looked at the fifth seal last week, we saw the people under the altar who had died for Jesus Christ, and that they were prepared to do so. People were persecuted and gave their lives. Those people asked how much longer would it be before God would “judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10b)

When the sixth seal was opened, God will show Himself.

The sixth seal takes John from what he sees in heaven back to the physical world.

Revelation 6:12-16

Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fid tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

 

When God reveals Himself to some of us, we don’t see His majesty or His glory. There will come a time when they will acknowledge it.

The first five seals were directed toward specific areas. The sixth seal was a universal revelation. All people will be affected. Everyone will fear it. It will touch every life, regardless of stature or wealth.

  • There will be a great earthquake (there is no mention of death–previous seals do mention death).
  • The sun will turn black (when the sun does not shine, it will be very cold).
  • The moon will turn blood red.
  • The stars will fall to the earth (stars dying out like shooting stars).
  • The sky will recede (separate) like a scroll (Acts 7:55-56).
  • Every mountain and island will be removed.

These things take place not by the power of man; instead, they take place in order that everyone can see and be affected by them. It is to cause man to think and to choose.

Colossians 1:16-17

For everything was created by Him,

in heaven and on earth,

the visible and the invisible,

whether thrones or dominions

or rulers or authorities

all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things,

and by Him all things hold together.

 

Joel 2:10-11, 30-32

The earth quakes before them; the sky shakes. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars cease their shining. The Lord raises His voice in the presence of His army. His camp is very large; Those who carry out His command are powerful. Indeed, the Day of the Lord is terrible and dreadful–who can endure it?

 

I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.

It is God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9); therefore, He continues to reveal Himself today.

He will certainly do this on the day of wrath, but even then, while he carries out his wrath, His mercy will still be present, for people who acknowledge He is Lord even at that moment will be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

Jeremiah 4:23

I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty. I looked to the heavens, and their light was gone.

 

Matthew 24:29-30

Immediately after the tribulation of those days: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 

Even though God desires everyone to come to Christ, some will simply refuse.

Romans 1:18-20

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

 

Every person has to make that decision: “Is He God?”

Whenever death is at the door, God’s grace and forgiveness is also there. A person only has to chose to repent and believe.

During the revealing of the sixth seal, man’s free will to choose is still present (Revelation 6:15-17). Look at the hearts of the kings, nobles, military commanders, the rich, powerful and everyone else. All of humanity is included. God revealed Himself, and they surely had seen Him. They didn’t understand, though, that they could not hide from God in their rejection of Him. Death for them was not the end at all–it was merely the beginning.

Luke 23:28-30

But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘The women without children, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed, are fortunate!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’

 

Matthew 10:28

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.

 

Isaiah 2:8-12, 19-21

Their land is full of idols;

they bow down to the work of their hands,

to what their fingers have made.

So humanity is brought low,

and man is humbled.

Do not forgive them!

Go into the rocks

and hide in the dust

from the terror of the Lord

and from His majestic splendor.

Human pride will be humbled,

and the loftiness of men will be brought low;

the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.

For a day belonging to the Lord of Hosts is coming

against all that is proud and lofty,

against all that is lifted upit will be humbled

 

People will go into caves in the rocks

and holes in the ground,

away from the terror of the Lord

and from His majestic splendor,

when He rises to terrify the earth.

On that day people will throw

their silver and gold idols,

which they made to worship,

to the moles and the bats.

They will go into the caves of the rocks

and the crevices in the cliffs,

away from the terror of the Lord

and from His majestic splendor,

when He rises to terrify the earth.

 

You may escape God’s judgment for a moment, but it will catch up to you. God may give you a head start, but you will not outrun Him!

Unbelief is among all people. The gospel, however, speaks to all people. No one dies without God, in some way or some form, manifesting Himself before him.

There is one thing that man cannot stop, and that is the will and work of God. His truth will prevail, for in Jesus Christ, there is already victory.

May we be such a people that is caught up in His glory and His presence in order to live as a testimony of Jesus Christ.


When Man is at His Worst, God is at His Best

Today’s message summary of March 29, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God is at His best in man’s worst condition. You may wonder where He is at times, but He is definitely at work.

God does not refer to people in sin just to call names. He is making us aware of the fact that we are sinners. We often will not see God at His best unless we are at our worst.

In looking at this passage, someone might think that Jesus is reflecting weakness. In actuality, He is demonstrating His strength.

 

John 10:17-18

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to take it up again, I have received this command from My Father.”

 

In spite of those who turned Jesus over to the authorities and with Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas proclaiming that they were in control as to whether or not Jesus would be crucified, Jesus was the one in control of His destiny to die on the cross. Jesus had the authority, and the ability to act and repel His enemies, yet He chose, in His strength and authority, to be obedient to His Father unto the cross.

Ephesians 1:4-5

For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.

 

Revelation 13:8

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

 

Man at his worst and God and His best:

Matthew 26:47-50

While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” They they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him.

 

Romans 8:7

For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.

 

Matthew 26:62-68

The high priest then stood up and said to Him, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”

“You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future, you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” Then they spit in His face and beat Him; others slapped Him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who hit You?”

 

You are at your best when people say whatever they want to you, and that you are able use restraint and control your anger. Even when others are at your worst, you can be at your best by being obedient to Jesus Christ and following His example.

Christ was truly at His best when He gave Himself for each of us in dying on the cross.

Jesus Christ does not ask you to do anything that He has not already experienced. My denying yourself and living for Jesus Christ, you will be faithfully carrying out His will and plan for your life. You will be at your very best.

It is always a good idea for you to ask God to reveal your heart, for in reality we really don’t know unless it is shown to us. You may have good intentions, but Peter had to also learn this lesson.

Luke 22:54-62

They seized Him, led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest’s house. Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!” After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!” “Man, I am not!” Peter said. About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

 

Are you walking with the Lord at a distance? You may want to have a relationship with Him, but you keep Him far enough away to give others the impression that you don’t want to be seen as a “Jesus freak.”

Pontius Pilate tried to please everyone. The reality is that no one can please everyone.

Matthew 27:11-12

Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are You the King of the Jews?” the governor asked Him. Jesus answered, “You have said it.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He didn’t answer.

 

Luke 23:1-2

Then their whole assembly rose up and brought Him before Pilate. They began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is the Messiah, a King.”

 

John 18:33-40

Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about Me?” “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?” “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this words, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.” “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.

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging Him. You have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

 

John 19:4-16

4 Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.”

5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.”

7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. 9 He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?”

11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!”

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement (but in Hebrew Gabbatha). 14 It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!”

15 But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?”

“We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.

16 So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Therefore they took Jesus away.

 

Even when man is at his worst, God will continue to do His best, and He implores His chosen people to do the same as a testimony before others.

Luke 9:23

Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.