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

09/26/2017 § Leave a comment

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

About Ms. Parker:

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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

08/05/2017 § Leave a comment

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

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

About Ms. Parker:

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

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

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

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

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

Does God Want Me to Stay in an Abusive Marriage?

07/24/2015 § Leave a comment

By Danni Moss (1964-2010)

A Repost from her blog “Because it Matters – Freedom from Abuse in Christianity”
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

This question was asked here and I know the person who asked it is one voice out of many, many more who are wondering the same thing. The answer is both simple and complex.

For the simple answer, God does not want you to remain in an abusive marriage. But before you run out the door, be sure you read the complex part of the answer, too.

Jesus stated the purpose of His coming in Luke 4: 18-19:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Jesus came for the purpose of healing the brokenhearted, delivering captives, and liberating those who are bruised. That perfectly describes the condition of someone who is being abused in their marriage. Jesus came to rescue people from abusive relationships!

OK, I just heard a whole bunch of “wait a minute…” voices from readers. 😉 Go with me here a minute. The church has reduced Jesus’ purpose to saving souls from eternal damnation. Do you see that in this verse? Certainly it could be considered to be part of Jesus’ stated Luke 4 mission. But why do we limit Jesus’ purpose to less than what the Word plainly states?

Nowhere in the Word is there a place where God applauds or supports abuse. In fact, abuse is inherently opposite to God’s nature. If believers are made new creatures in Christ and partakers in His nature, how can we possible justify or excuse abusive behavior by someone bearing the name “Christian?”

If we assume an abusive spouse is not a believer (which may, in fact, be supportable by Scripture) is a Christian abused partner expected by God to remain in that abusive relationship? The answer is still no. A Christian does not enable another person to continue in sin. By remaining in an abusive marriage, a Christian sends the message that the abusive behavior is acceptable – and affirms the abusers sin.

Here comes the complex part, however. God does not want you to remain in an abusive marriage. But there is also a process for addressing the abuse. If there is physical violence, even just occasionally, an abused spouse needs to call local domestic violence support and carefully, but quickly, get outside the home into a safe place. In this situation, further Biblical steps need to occur from a position outside the same home as the abuser. If there is not physical danger, all but the final step of dealing with an abusive spouse can take place without physical separation.

So what are the steps to dealing with an abusive spouse?

First, I think we are all called to bring every detail of our lives to God for His insight and timing. Almost without exception (I’d say without exception but maybe there could be one) we need to clean our own slates first. As abused spouses we need to maintain first an attitude of, “Lord, change me.” God uses our difficult circumstances to teach us things we would not learn otherwise. So we must appreciate God’s process, even in exposing our own places that need to be refined and conforming us to the image of Christ while we are dealing with an abusive spouse.

Second, we have to maintain a humble spirit, remembering that God loves us all equally. It is easy to get a prideful and judgmental spirit. We have to remember that every person is created in the image of God, even this abuser, and so is worthy of basic human respect. Gal. 6:1 says,

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Third, Matthew 18:15-17 outlines a very specific process for dealing with an offender, which would include marital abuse.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

So we must first learn how to respectfully address the abuse within our marriage and establish correct boundaries. This is a learning process that can take months.

If the abusive spouse does not change when confronted privately, the abused spouse is to take a couple witnesses to confront the abuser again. These witnesses should be people the abuser respects and that the abused spouse can trust. At this point, I believe professional counseling is in order. A professional counselor can, in fact, be that witness. Another of the witnesses should be pastoral church leadership. This can be problematic because pastors don’t know how to address abuse correctly. But at least give the church the opportunity to do the right thing.

If abuse continues, the Word says the issue should be told to the church. This step is almost impossible to fulfill in the modern church. Pastors generally won’t allow it because they do not understand the Word on the subject. So, the abused spouse should attempt to press the pastor to allow this step, but if the pastor refuses, the abused spouse may need to move on to the final step.

The final step is removal from the relationship. Matthew 18 says to separate from the unrepentant offender. I Tim. 5:8 says a man who does not provide for his family (provision = financial, spiritual, emotional protection and leadership) has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. God calls an unrepentant abusive spouse an unbeliever. That is not my judgment; it is God’s. I Cor. 5:11 says believers are not to associate with, are not even to eat with, a person who is verbally abusive (“railer”). And I Cor. 7:13-15 says that if an unbelieving spouse removes (walks away from the marriage covenant – which can include staying in the house but leaving the relationship) himself from the marriage, the believing wife is to let him go. It may seem backwards for the believing wife to leave – but we have to remember that the “leaving” happens when a spouse does violence to his house (Mal. 2:13-16). The believing wife who removes to safety is not the one who abandoned the relationship.

Some will say removal from the relationship should be for an open-ended period of separation (which could be permanent if there is no repentance); others recommend divorce. I recommend you have a relationship with God whereby you allow Him to direct you because there is not a universal answer at this point. It may very well be that the only way to secure safe custody of children and spousal support for those children is through divorce. This is not out of line. And if the abusive spouse chooses to remarry that will certainly be the final nail in the door to possibility of reconciliation – a choice made by the abuser, not the victim of abuse who took the necessary, and Biblically supported, steps to address an abusive spouse.

God offers hope, not a lifetime sentence, to abuse victims. If you are in an abusive marriage you need to 1) get support for yourself that will stand by you throughout, 2) be willing to take the time to work through the Biblical process, and 3) stay on your face with God throughout the process, asking Him to change you. As hard as it is, this can be the fire that makes you into the person God desires you to be. It is hard and seems far too long in the process, but God is faithful and He does work all things together for good for those who love Him.

 

Copyright © Danni Moss

 

Mossman-Tucker, Danni (2009).  Does God Want Me to Stay in an Abusive Marriage? Weblog – Because it Matters – Freedom from Abuse in Christianity. Retrieved July 24, 2015 from https://dannimoss.wordpress.com/articles/abuse-in-the-christian-home/does-god-want-me-to-stay-in-an-abusive-marriage/

Matthew 5:1-12 Study

01/24/2015 § Leave a comment

Discussion Questions for Matthew 5:1-12 Bible Study from Leadership and Culture course, Crown College (MN), January 2015:

1. “What are the principal “languages” defining reality for us today?  How do they shape our definitions (our hermeneutics) of what is real and important?  What “blessings” do they offer?”

There are a number of languages that define today’s reality for us. While the easiest (and correct) answer is to simply state that “the world” has its own language, there are multiple subsets of languages that provide measures of influence to each of us, and many of these languages we are ready and willing to listen to. Some of them are good by nature and morally acceptable, and some are not very good or beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). The commitment to sin is yielding to a language that is in opposition to God.  A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, responds to a different language than a person who denies both of these things.

These many different languages are associated with different lifestyles, professions, hobbies–virtually anything that each of us will participate in.  Each one of these has a relative level of importance to us based upon our personality makeup.  The language of a person who is a professional chef, for example, will be inspired with his own reality and importance, while a person who is an accountant operates very capably in his or her own sphere of influence (especially around tax time!).  Family “languages” are different from business relationships (and can counter each other when there is a struggle with work-life balance), and of course, there are a myriad of different philosophies and lifestyles that we have been exposed to over time–some good, and some not so good.

The blessings of these different languages, ultimately, is in the eye of the beholder, and much of that has to do with whether or not the person has a rich, fulfilling, healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.  A person who does not know Jesus Christ can believe that he or she is “blessed,” yet, their understanding of truth is rooted in spiritual blindness.  Of all of these languages that shape how we view life, the overlay of Christ determines the true realization of blessings with the understanding that God is the genuine provider of all blessings that really matter (James 1:17).

2. “How does the Sermon on the Mount challenge the blessings offered by our society?”

The Sermon on the Mount is a departure from the vision of individuals who are influenced by the world’s position in many areas of life.  We can associate this view with the context of the information in the Bible Study:

“All of the Sermon on the Mount challenges the language of Rome, the Jewish establishment and those who turn to violent resistance.” [1]

Jesus’ message is a challenge to today’s establishment, as well.  Our society will readily embrace differentiating lifestyles as good and acceptable, and that everything is OK as long as one doesn’t criticize another person’s way of living.  Even within the body of Christ, disputes have erupted within congregations over what is “good and acceptable.”  Jesus addresses everyone within the body who remains faithful to Him and Him alone.

3. “In what ways do we see churches living according to the language of our societal context?  And what are churches doing that reflect a different hermeneutic, like that of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount?”

This answer is in accord with #2 above.  Society has had a dramatic influence on today’s church. Pope Francis has been in the news lately for several comments that reflected more of personal “worldly” views than church doctrinal views. [2][3] The Presbyterian church has adopted the world’s view of same-sex marriage and essentially put it in writing within the denomination’s Statement back in June, 2014. [4] There are many other examples of similar situations, and if it were not for the fact that people in Jesus Christ are already assured of the victory (John 16:33; Romans 8:37-39; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58), you would certainly believe that Satan’s strategy of “divide and conquer” is winning.  Believers are implored to overcome and “unite and conquer” [5] in order to fully recognize God’s blessings within the body.

1  Mark Lau Branson & Juan F. Martinez (2011). Churches, Cultures & Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Copyright © 2011 InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL. page 124.

2 Article – Jemima Thackray (2015). Beware of the two faces of Pope Francis: he ain’t no liberal. The Telegraph © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015, London UK. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11362224/Pope-Francis-he-aint-no-liberal.-Beware-of-his-two-faces.html

3 Article – Anna Matranga (2015). Pope change his mind on breeding “like rabbits”? CBS News Copyright © 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. New York NY. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-walks-back-remark-about-catholics-breeding-like-rabbits/

4 Opinion – Michael Brown (2014). It Is Time to Leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Christian Post. Copyright © 2015 The Christian Post, Inc. Washington DC. Retrieved January 22, 2015 from http://www.christianpost.com/news/it-is-time-to-leave-the-presbyterian-church-u-s-a-121961/

5 Article – Keith Krell (2009). Unite and Conquer (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Bible.org. © 2015 Bible.org. Richardson TX. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttps://bible.org/seriespage/2-unite-and-conquer-1-corinthians-110-17

The Year of Commitment

05/25/2013 § Leave a comment

Text of a message presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, February 24, 2013:

There was a time in our lives when we lived for the moment.  Many of us can point to the period of time and space when we moved away from the house we grew up in with our parents and went away to college, or when you got your first apartment.  It was at that time you told yourself, “Now I can do what I want to do.”

Many of us did exactly that–lived for the moment and did what we wanted to.  Some of the results of this “living” were good experiences, and some were not as memorable.  It is from these life lessons that we eventually made the following statement (either to ourselves or out loud) in one of those infamous moments: “I’ll never do that again.”

A lot of our decisions early in life were based upon testing the wisdom of our parents or loved ones, or even going contrary to the advice of wise counsel.  Even those of us who went to church at an early age heard good advice from a pastor or a Sunday school teacher.  But did we take that advice when it mattered the most?  No.  The result of all of this, hopefully without enduring the harshest consequences of our actions, is that we really weren’t living as we thought we were.  It was, in fact, an ongoing exercise in sinful behaviors that showed we weren’t really as grown up as we thought we were.

We noticed the harsh reality that maturity is not measured by how old you are…it is measured in how consistent your life decisions are towards personal growth and development.  True maturity is when you take your college courses seriously and make a concerted effort to graduate.  You show maturity when you start using language that will help you to make an impression, not just personally, but also professionally.  You also show maturity in the type of relationships and friendships that you value…are your friends people who challenge your intellect…or are they just drinking buddies?

When you wake up one day and decide that you need to make the best choices to promote your maturity, then congratulations–you are making a commitment to be a better person.  A commitment is more than just a single decision.  It is a series of decisions that a person makes to support a position that leads to a goal.  A commitment, even more specific–the level of commitment–is measured by how the series of decisions line up with it.  For example, is a person doing the best that he or she can do to realize goals that have been set?  The commitment must show some sort of progress as a person pursues a goal.

In the same way, a person who lacks spiritual maturity may come to a point where it is time to get serious about their faith and their relationships with God and with others.  Sadly, there are some that never come to this conclusion.  Just as there are people who are over 40 years old and never “grow up,”  there are also people who do not believe that there isn’t anything that they need to do as far as a commitment to Christ.

Psalm 14:1

The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.”

They are corrupt; they do vile deeds.

There is no one who does good.

There are some that believe they have a close relationship with God, but their actions show something completely different.  This is a more insidious deception that they are under because it is based upon a false sense of faith.

Isaiah 29:13-14

13 The Lord said:

Because these people approach Me with their mouths

to honor Me with lip-service—

yet their hearts are far from Me,

and their worship consists of man-made rules

learned by rote—

14 therefore I will again confound these people

with wonder after wonder.

The wisdom of their wise men will vanish,

and the understanding of the perceptive will be hidden.

Matthew 15:7-9

7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,

but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,

teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

Titus 1:16

They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

All of this represents a spiritual immaturity that reflects a separation from people who claim to be following and serving God with those who are serious about where they are in their relationship with God, and how they live their life accordingly.  The person who makes the commitment to serve God is most likely to please God in His worship and service because it is all based upon a sincere practice of faith.

We are to be reminded that our actions alone do not merit or warrant God’s acceptance.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

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.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Faith requires a commitment to go beyond what you see and hear.  It requires you to focus on God in ways that are beyond human understanding.  It is this practice of faith that is often viewed as exceptional within a worldly environment.  A consistent trust and faith in God allows the believer to be a part of those exceptional experiences where everyone present (both believer and non-believer) knows that there is no doubt about God’s presence in situations and circumstances.

In keeping this commitment to seek God and live for Him on a regular, daily basis, there are two key elements of practice for each person who is a believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  The commitment requires action steps in these two key categories:

The Seeking God Category

The Do the Right Thing Category

The first category involves personal preparation.  It involves the commitment to read and study the bible more than you did in the past.

Reading and studying the bible is important because it is God’s Word to us in written form.  It is His clearest form of communication to us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

11 so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

Reading and studying the bible now requires absorption of God’s wisdom through understanding by way of the Holy Spirit.  This requires a commitment to pray more each day.  God’s Word communicates to us, and prayer is your communication with God.  Effective prayers require practice and regularity.

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 6:18

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray constantly.

James 1:5-6

5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

The second category, The Do the Right Thing Category, requires the committed believer to take the wisdom and knowledge acquired during The Seeking God Category and putting it to practice.  Here are the elements of practice in doing the right things that are in line with the commitment to grow in Christ:

  •  To Sin Less

Psalm 119:11

I have treasured Your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against You.

Thankfully, Jesus gives us the ability through the Holy Spirit to resist sin, and there will be struggles, but we can indeed sin less when we rely upon our faith.

2 Corinthians 12:10

So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Peter 5:10-11

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often

With better information you will ultimately make better decisions.  This is where the reliance of God’s wisdom, discernment and understanding promotes better decision-making.

Proverbs 2:1-11

Wisdom’s Worth

1 My son, if you accept my words

and store up my commands within you,

2 listening closely to wisdom

and directing your heart to understanding;

3 furthermore, if you call out to insight

and lift your voice to understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

and search for it like hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up success for the upright;

He is a shield for those who live with integrity

8 so that He may guard the paths of justice

and protect the way of His loyal followers.

9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,

and integrity—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your mind,

and knowledge will delight your heart.

11 Discretion will watch over you,

and understanding will guard you.

  •  To Become Selfless

Your commitment to Jesus Christ means developing a heart for God, which means that you will have a heart of concern for others more than you ever have in the past.

Philippians 2:3-4

3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud

but gives grace to the humble.

  •  To Respect Others

Romans 12:10

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 13:7

Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

Matthew 5:43-48

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children and Parents

1 Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. 4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

All of these actions require a foundational understanding of God’s Word for effective implementation.  There will be greater success in doing the right things as noted here with a greater dependency on God’s Word and with supplemental prayer.

Your commitment to be a true believer in service for Jesus Christ requires a consistent approach to these things that we just discussed:

  •  Reading and studying God’s Word
  •  Prayer
  •  To Sin Less
  •  To Make Good Decisions More Often
  •  To Become Selfless
  •  To Respect Others

Each of these require a commitment to a closer relationship with God in Jesus Christ and to be obedient to His Word, which invariably will help you to do the right thing.

If you’ve been on the fence as far as your walk with the Lord, or if you haven’t been as serious about this matter as you know you should be, then make today the day that you make the commitment to be a better believer in Jesus Christ.  It won’t be easy, but the rewards of doing so are far beyond what you can imagine.

Matthew 6:33 says all of this in the best, most concise way.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

All verses from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Spring Break 2013 is April 19-20 in Stow OH

04/02/2013 § Leave a comment

Our Annual Relationship Conference Series takes an exciting approach that will not just grow but enhance your relationship with God through Jesus Christ!  You’ll be not just salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), you’ll be–

Melvin Gaines, Host

Seasoning with Brightness!

A special weekend retreat where you can rest, relax, renew and recharge!

Now, more than ever, it is vital to grow in your personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ!  Your growth in Christ will help you communicate with Him at a high level, and will also help you to make a greater impact in your daily ministry with others!  We are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), but you can become more seasoned and brighter than ever as you grow into the best relationship with Jesus ever!  We will provide tools to hep you develop effective, daily habits of prayer and meditation to grow and learn much more of what God has in store for you!

With your participation, this relationship seminar promises to be a fun, relaxing and fulfilling experience!  Singles and married couples are welcome!  The event is free and open to the public.

Note:  You do NOT need to stay at the hotel to attend the seminar.  The seminar is free.  Call 234.206.0345 for more information and start times.

Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hampton Inn, Stow OH

4331 Lakepointe Corporate Drive   •  330.945.4160

Special room rate for overnight stay only $79.00 plus tax.  If you are interested in staying at the hotel, please call and check for availability.  When booking your room ask for the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church special rate.  A free hot breakfast is available for hotel guests.  Don’t wait another day–be sure to register today!

Free internet  •  pool  •  fitness center  •  comfortable amenities  •  newly remodeled  •  restaurants nearby

Discernment is a Godly Attribute

07/15/2012 § Leave a comment

In an election year, there are dozens of radio ads and television commercials that air to provide information for the voting public.  The commercials are a blend of opposing views that run early and often on a daily basis up until Election Day.  The intent of these advertisements is to do one thing and one thing only…to persuade the listener or viewer to choose the side representing their position.  These ads are never vague or unclear as to what side is represented because the information tips the scales in the favor of the group who is sponsoring the commercial.

In the midst of these commercials are elements of truth and areas where the truth is stretched in varying degrees.  Remember, the sponsor of the commercial is trying to get your vote or even affirm your vote for their side, and there is often a creative license that is taken in order to make their position more appealing or to convince you to despise the opposing view, which inevitably brings you back to their view.

What the advertisers count on with these ads is that the casual observer will not go through the trouble or the burden to educate oneself and do research to see if the information has merit.  They know very well that their ads are effective in their impact with the public because many people will either rely upon the information as being true or a close match with their ideology, and that many will not go through the fact-checking process.  The civic-minded voter, however, readily assumes the responsibility to take the time to review any available information about the candidates and issues at hand.  He or she desires information and education as to what is at stake in the election.  After all of the information is gathered and disseminated, exercising discernment that leads to the final decision in the voting booth.  Discernment is the key word…it is the ability to judge well.

Discernment is more than simply possessing good judgment or referring to your conscience.  It, for our purposes today, also means to have the ability to review something and determine its truthfulness or its viability.  It is something that each of us should possess within our evaluation process, but you may know someone who has the uncanny ability to “see through” and make conclusions about situations with what seems to be the least amount of information.  It is not something that should be seen as “mystical” or as being something that someone would have in a special sense when it comes to ability.  All of us can discern and make judgments.  Let’s instead focus on the importance of discernment when it comes to recognizing truth and error in the presentation of God’s Word.  Are you able to discern what is being presented?  In the same way that political ads work well, especially with their repetitive nature, many people are ill-prepared to deal with false doctrine or false presentations of the gospel because they don’t take the time to review the information properly.  It’s like taking a test in school without studying for it…it often doesn’t go well in the end results.

If you lack the appropriate information, you are unlikely to be able to make the appropriate conclusions in your discernment efforts.  This leaves one wide open to deception and someone telling you anything that can lead you astray, which is very, very dangerous.

Hosea 4:6

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. 

Colossians 2:8

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

Proverbs 15:14

A discerning mind seeks knowledge, 
but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

OK…so discernment is important and some of us seem to have a better time of it than others.  These are the people that can readily provide us with godly advice when it seems to matter most.  You may be asking yourself…”What if I am lacking in my ability to discern?  What can I do about it?”  The answers lie in understanding some truths about discernment.  Discernment is a godly attribute, and it requires God’s participation within the process.

  • Discernment requires godly knowledge…knowing the Bible.

Philippians 1:9-10

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

  • Discernment requires prayer and actively seeking God

The more that you are seeking God and being prayerful for wisdom and insight, the more that God will make plain to you those things that seemed to be elusive to you in the past.  You can develop your ability to discern, but it requires completeness in your trust that God is giving you exactly what you need when you need it.

Some have made the argument that discernment is a spiritual gift, and by reviewing Scripture, we can make a case that it is not a “special” gift in itself, and we also can find in Scripture that some persons have a special ability to discern, or judge, about certain spirits:

First, the example that people who possess the Holy Spirit already have discernment capabilities:

1 Corinthians 2:10-16

10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For

who has known the Lord’s mind,
that he may instruct Him?

But we have the mind of Christ.

Second, here is a passage that shows how God can enable some of His saints to possess a gift of discernment:

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

to one is given a message of wisdom 
through the Spirit,
to another, a message of knowledge
by the same Spirit,
to another, faith by the same Spirit,
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
10 to another, the performing of miracles,
to another, prophecy,
to another, distinguishing between spirits,
to another, different kinds of languages,
to another, interpretation of languages.

11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

To have discernment of distinguish about spirits is necessary in the growth and maturity of a believer in Jesus Christ.  Here is a how-to guide as to what all of us should be able to do if we are paying attention to the Holy Spirit that speaks from within:

1 John 4:1-6

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

We are counseled throughout Scripture, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, to test the spirits (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).  We need to test them because they certainly test every believer.  They come in all forms from the opposition, and it is nothing to joke around with or play with.

Ephesians 6:11-13

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Therefore, we are to be smart about our encounters with the opposition—not in a way that diminishes your testimony for Christ; instead, using the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work while you speak.

Matthew 10:16

 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Final point—

  • Discernment also comes from the counsel of others when seeking advice.

Proverbs 19:20-21

20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction
so that you may be wise later in life.

21 Many plans are in a man’s heart,
but the 
Lord’s decree will prevail.

It’s wise and just plain smart to get advice from people who are knowledgeable, especially in subjects where you don’t have it.  The Spirit even guides you in this area.  It’s also wise to seek the counsel and take the other person’s sound advice.  It’s silly to ask opinions over and over again and never take the advice.  As you obtain knowledge, you should be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion as you discern what the appropriate outcome or ending should be.  When God provides you with wise counsel, take it.

Discernment is the essence of wisdom and understanding in Jesus Christ.  Here are some important takeaways:

  1. It is provided through the power of the Holy Spirit for every believer
  2. It requires a healthy understanding of the Bible
  3. It requires prayerful consideration and appeals to godly wisdom in the process
  4. It relies upon the testimony of wise counsel

All of this leads back to a proverb that is well-known and recognized…the Spirit provides the guidance that all of us need, and we choose to follow His leading rather than let our way of thinking keep us from using the proper discernment.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with bible at Melvin Gaines.