12/25/2017 § Leave a comment
I have something to share with you that I have never shared to anyone except my wife. It’s very personal.
Are you ready? Here it is…
I associate the days of the week with colors. Yep, that’s it. Each day of the week for me represents a unique color.
Some of you may be asking “what in the world are you talking about” or “have you been eating well lately,” and I assure you that I have been eating just fine, and maybe too well.
There is actually a name for this phenomenon. The clinical term for this is referred to as synesthesia. By definition, synesthesia is a stimulation of a sensory or cognitive area of the brain that involuntary leads to another sensory or cognitive path. In its simplest form, synesthetes, depending upon how they are wired, associate colors to different stimuli. Some people can actually associate the different sounds of music with colors. Some will visually associate letters and numbers with individual, unique colors.
The association of colors with days of the week seems to be more common among synesthetes, and it all has to do with one’s personal perception. This trait seems to be associated with creative people or artists, and it can be hereditary, but there is not a lot of science or psychology on this, and its probably because some people may not even realize that they have this ability. I wasn’t able to put a name to it until a few months ago.
Anyway, for me, here are the colors that I see (as close as I can get according to my perception) for the days of the week. Sunday is close to a white color with a warm, soft cream-like tone. Monday is a basic blue. Tuesday is a light gray. Wednesday is a solid brown. Thursday is orange, or close to what I would call a burnt orange. Friday is a solid red. Saturday is a bright yellow. As I thought of this subject, I also realize that I associated colors with subjects in high school, which have nothing to do with the day of the week color scheme. Chemistry and biology, for example, was a solid green. English was a light blue color, and algebra and calculus were a bright red. I have no explanation for these, but I can share that English and math were my best subjects in high school.
Many of us probably associate colors with different times of the year and we don’t even realize it. The four seasons have relatively distinct colors for those of us who live around here. Spring has a multitude of colors, but many will think of pink and yellow for flowers and cherry blossoms (April showers bring May flowers). Summer is green and more green. If you have allergies, you know about pollen, which is yellow. Autumn means changing leaf colors and pumpkins, which are orange. Winter is white, and sometimes can take on a rather dreary color of a slushy gray. With that in mind, how wonderful it is to see Christmas lights this time of year! We haven’t always had Christmas lights (before electricity we had candles, of course), but even a solid string of white lights in the evening seem to brighten up the surroundings. Some lights that we see will cover all of the colors of the spectrum, and you can now even see colors dancing in the form of stars or angels projected onto houses with newfangled yard gadgets that run throughout the Christmas season.
Now, I like those kind of colors at Christmas. We will kindly excuse the people who buy the gargantuan displays of Santa or Rudolph or Star Wars characters that are blown up with an air compressor only to collapse in a heap of wrinkled ruin on the lawn. I can barely see the beauty of color when I look at those bodacious displays.
Color means a great deal to us. There’s nothing more boring to look at than a blank canvas or pale white walls. It’s amazing how something as simple as color stripes or accents on walls can change one’s entire perspective. Christmas has a color scheme of its own that helps us to get into the spirit of the season after the browns, tans and oranges of Thanksgiving take a back seat for another year. The reds and greens of Christmas are accented with the light blue colors of sparkle and the snow-white lights that reflect off of the snow on the roofs of houses. All of these colors are quite prevalent throughout the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and yet they still fall short of the true meaning of Christmas. The true color of Christmas is not in a shade or a hue, because that would be a limitation of its meaning and purpose. The purpose of Christmas, in Himself, does not wear a red suit, sport a long white beard, or even go “ho, ho, ho!” The true color of Christmas is in the person of Jesus Christ.
He is the true color of Christmas.
Luke 2:8-14 CSB
In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people he favors!
So when you look at all of the different colors of lights that you see when you drive through your neighborhoods, you can readily conclude that all of the lights of color that you see actually do provide a great reminder of who Jesus Christ is. He was born as a Savior, Christ the Lord, and He came to us for the purpose of showing us what it is to be a light in the world.
John 8:12 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Since He is our light, He gives us the example as to how to live as His disciples:
Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus wants us to share His light with others. How are we to do this? With love. With kindness. With compassion. With a presence…words are not always necessary. With service. With prayer for others. We are to be lights in a world of darkness and suspicion. It’s no wonder that charities ramp up their efforts around Christmas to raise money. It is a giving season, and what better way to express the love of Christ than to unselfishly give to those who are in need?
Colors are what add to the ambiance of Christmas, but all of the colors we see should point each of us directly to Jesus Christ. So before we pan the secularism of the season and bemoan all of the light displays, let’s reflect on how the bright, colorful lights invigorate our spirits and lift us beyond the doldrums of the cold and the snow. And if lights can brighten the night, what does Jesus Christ do for us?
How much more does Jesus Christ, with His very presence, lift us up when we are down?
How great it is that He who knows how we feel before we can express it?
How wonderful it is that Jesus shines His light of favor, mercy and loving care upon us!
With His light, I can readily declare that at one time I was blind in my sin, but now I can see!
He wants us to see Him in the light of His glory and grace. Amen. His true color is the color of light, which happens to be all of the colors that we see combined into one bright, beaming presence. And His light has no end to it.
Remember Christ’s words to His followers: “You are the light of the world.” He came to us in love and for the purpose of our salvation. He wants us to see His true colors. Not just at Christmas time, but all year round. The color of Christmas is not limited to just one shade, hue or texture, and in the same way, let’s not limit our view of who Jesus Christ is for us.
Jesus wants you to see His true color shine.
“We are to walk in the light, beautiful light, come where His love and His mercy are bright. Shine all around us by day and by night…Jesus, the light of the world!”*
*Lyrics from Jesus, the Light of the World. Words by Ken Bible and George D. Elderkin. Music by George D. Elderkin; arr. by Ken Bible © 1998, 2000, 2009 by LNWhymns.com. CCLI Song #3084764.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines
04/10/2017 § Leave a comment
Text from Spring Break 2017 Seminar for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH and guests, April 7-8, 2017 at the Hampton Inn by Hilton, Stow OH:
Day 1 – Friday
Thank you for attending this year’s Spring Break 2017 Relationship Conference presented by Akron Alliance Fellowship Church. We sincerely hope that you have a great time here this weekend, and that you are inspired and encouraged by what God has to say to you! A special thanks to the staff at the Hampton Inn by Hilton for hosting this event for the sixth consecutive year!
If you were with us in 2015 for our seminar, Your IMAGE and Forgiveness, and last year’s A PACT with Jesus: Making the Right Choices, you would have noted that both of these programs were to help its participants begin and continue the process of developing a closer, healthier and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. In order for a believer in Christ to grow in faith, he has to do more than just go beyond the basics. This annual seminar series provides practical methods for a present believer, and even a potential believer, to reach one’s fullest potential as a child of God living in a manner that brings praise to Jesus Christ!
Our discussion this weekend is about developing a passion for service in Jesus Christ. In order to develop this passion, there has a starting point. The starting point for this process begins with you.
Why does it start with you? It is necessary for you to undertake a self-analysis of who you are, what you are and where you are going. This self-analysis can be simple or detailed, but it should address, in some manner, the following questions (beyond just defining who you are) …
What is your purpose (present)?
What do you want to accomplish in the future (future)?
By putting answers with these questions, it merely establishes a baseline. The most important things that you are to face and reckon with over time is what is happening today, which includes for our discussion within the immediate future (days), and your goals for the future (extended months and years from now).
The answers to these questions are just a baseline for your path moving forward.
Your past formed the path that you have traveled to get to where you are today. Your past has provided defining moments of your life that indicate who you are in this moment; however, it is important to note that who you are today does not have to define who or what you will accomplish in the future, and we know this because of the change that Jesus Christ provides for us each day.
In the same way that Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, created in you a new person, He has the ability to continue to mold and shape you into a person that can do even more things through Christ, who gives you the strength and ability to do them (Philippians 4:13)!
So when we analyze these two questions, what do you see about yourself?
I trust that, with this weekend’s discussion, you will be able to see your role in the body of Christ more clearly than you do now, and that you will also gain the desire to live your life in Christ to its fullest. You are able to do this with confidence in the knowledge that you are right where you should be in Christ. There is no better place to be, and this is how you can live your life with passion in Jesus Christ.
Part A – Under Construction
This weekend, we will be discussing a number of construction projects. These construction projects will start with you.
Your review will require self-examination and self-exploration, and at the same time, a fair amount of planning and preparation as you go.
You are always under construction because of how God shapes and moves you throughout your life. This is whether you have an intimate relationship with Jesus or even if you do not. As much as we like to think that we control our direction or even our destiny, we really don’t have that kind of power over our lives. We don’t have any control over the course of life. God is the author of all life and what happens in it. You have often heard the use of the words “God is in control.” Scripture does not use those exact words, but there are verses that support God’s predominant role in your life:
Proverbs 19:21 ESV
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
The life of a believer is indeed guided through the help of the Holy Spirit when making decisions. I also stated that even non-believers, those who do not have a relationship with the Lord, are also under the “God is in control” umbrella even if they do not realize it. How do I know this? Take a look at Isaiah 45:1-7:
Isaiah 45:1-7 HCSB
The Lord says this to Cyrus, His anointed,
whose right hand I have grasped
to subdue nations before him,
to disarm kings,
to open the doors before him
and the gates will not be shut:
“I will go before you
and level the uneven places;
I will shatter the bronze doors
and cut the iron bars in two.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches from secret places,
so that you may know that I, Yahweh,
the God of Israel call you by your name.
I call you by your name,
because of Jacob My servant
and Israel My chosen one.
I give a name to you,
though you do not know Me.
I am Yahweh, and there is no other;
there is no God but Me.
I will strengthen you,
though you do not know Me,
so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
that there is no one but Me.
I am Yahweh, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make success and create disaster;
I, Yahweh, do all these things.
Recognition of God’s control in your life is an important aspect of effective planning. If, for example, you take into account how the weather impacts your life, your plans actually take into account the upcoming forecast. If there is rain in the forecast, it can certainly affect whether or not you will attend a baseball game or plan a picnic. If there is snow and cold weather and you love to ski, then you would plan to hit the slopes! If there is a hurricane in the forecast, you can choose to stick it out (at your own peril), or to evacuate to a place of safety. In all three of these situations, decisions are being made because of events that are beyond one’s control. In the same way, recognizing that God is in control still requires you to make a plan for your life. In going further, God would not want a person to live a life of ambiguity. Planning is essential as it is preparation for the future.
Part B – God Has a Plan for Your Life
It is reassuring that God has a plan for each one of you, as well. But it is important for us to see that, in addition to planning and preparation, one recognizes that God’s plan for your life involves recognition of who He is and what He means to your life plans.
For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration— “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
In your planning and preparation, you are to:
- Call on Jesus Christ
- Search for Him with all your heart
- Pray to Him (and He will listen)
When you involve the Lord in your plans as you seek Him, He will make His presence known to you, and you will see how He gives you hope for the future! He keeps His promises and wants to see you succeed in whatever you do!
Construction projects start with a dream. A thought. A desire to change something for the better.
Your construction project will not be successful unless you know what you are undertaking. Your personal construction project must have a goal. What is it that you want to accomplish in this endeavor? What needs to be worked on? What needs the most attention in your life?
Let’s review what your goals are.
What are your short-term goals?
What are your long-term goals?
Use the handout (No. 2) in front of you to capture your short-term goals and your long-term goals. Write down what your short-term goals are and what goals you would like to accomplish in the future.
In order to start a fire, you need a spark. You provide the spark, and let the Spirit’s leading and guidance do the rest!
From here, you need to compare what your goals are to what you believe your life purpose is (from Handout No. 1).
What do you presently do each day?
What do you LIKE to do, and if you could, would do every day?
Who do you admire and why?
What do you love to learn about?
What can you talk about all day without getting tired of it?
What excites you? (or) What inspires you? (or both)
Part C – Passion Defined
When one uses the word “passion,” what comes to mind?
Before I delve into dictionary definitions, let’s see if we can come up with one or two word synonyms or descriptive terms that can help us define the word “passion.”
(discussion) (with note taking)
With our mini-definitions, I will provide two different definitions of “passion” from American Heritage and Merriam-Webster:
- A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.
- Ardent love.
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
a: the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death
b: an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces
moldable and not moldable … and many other passions of matter — Francis Bacon
a (1): emotion “his ruling passion is greed” (2) passions plural: “the emotions as distinguished from reason a study of the passions”
b: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
with enough passion to make a great poet — W. B. Yeats
c: an outbreak of anger a crime of passion
a: ardent affection: love He had never felt such passion for any woman but her.
b: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept a passion for chess a passion for opera
c: sexual desire a look of passion in her face
d: an object of desire or deep interest
© 2017 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
It should be noted that the word “passion” has a number of meanings that range from the sufferings of Jesus Christ to something that borders on one losing control of himself. To help with this for our discussion this weekend, we need to highlight that the passion that we will be discussing does not encompass everything you see in these definitions, but it does capture something that may be elusive to many people when it comes to their relationship with Jesus Christ–intensity. It is this intensity through the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit, that helps a person to recognize what he or she is passionate about, and how a person lives an intentional life of service for God’s glory in Jesus Christ. It is an amazing parallel to how Jesus Christ lived and died for each one of us.
Part D – An Intentional Life of Intensity in Christ
According to John Piper, it was Jesus Christ Himself that lived with intensity His intentional life. The intensity was His desire to remain obedient to the Father as he intentionally suffered and died on the cross for each of us. His desire was to ultimately pave the way, by His actions, for every person who acknowledges Him to experience eternal life. His passion was for us! His agape love for us, from the beginning of mankind, reflects to us how much He thought all of this through, and you were included in His plan!
When you consider that you were part of God’s plan in being here to live, what do you think about this?
[Dismissal for evening]
Piper, J. (2014). The Intensity of Christ’s Love and the Intentionality of His Death. Desiring God Series. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/the-intensity-of-christ-s-love-and-the-intentionality-of-his-death.html
Day 2 – Saturday
Part 1 – Heart Matters
Your ongoing efforts of self-examination and self-evaluation are not much different from our ongoing theme of our church studies, which is learning more about your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In order to know more about who you are in Christ, you need to know more about Jesus Christ. There are simple reasons why this is so important:
1.) Jesus Christ is your Creator who knows all about you.
2.) Jesus promised a Helper, the Holy Spirit, for you to help you to live your life.
3.) The Holy Spirit is an intimate helper and sanctifier within your daily living.
By knowing more about Jesus Christ, you will grow more and more:
- You will see things as Jesus sees them
- He will give you greater insight into your ability to succeed in Christ
- You will do your best as Jesus wants you to be your best!
Faith Stages Handout
Powerful, Purposeful, Principled and Approachable
Trusting completely in Jesus Christ helps you to reach your greatest potential through the enabling and enriching presence of the Holy Spirit.
A passion-filled believer is:
Powerful. Your power comes from your affiliation with the Holy Spirit and righteousness. He is responsive to our needs and gives us energy through His presence.
Psalm 138:3 HCSB
On the day I called, You answered me;
You increased strength within me.
2 Timothy 1:6-7
Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
A passion-filled believer is:
Purposeful. Your passion is derived from knowing your purpose. The moment that you know and understand your purpose in Christ, your flame of passion has been kindled, and there is nothing that can put it out!
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
When I finally determined what my life purpose was in my relationship with Jesus Christ, it gave me a new meaning to my faith and what I was striving to accomplish—not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of the body of Christ and for the purpose of winning people to Christ.
A passion-filled believer is:
Principled. In line with our previous discussions on making a PACT with Jesus Christ for effective decision-making, a believer in Jesus Christ desires righteousness and lives according to His standards of Christlikeness. He adheres to a lifestyle that honors God and keeps His commands.
Principled believers rely upon the wisdom and words of God for daily living.
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.
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
A passion-filled believer is:
Approachable. In the same way that God is approachable because of the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus Christ shed for all of our sins, we are to be approachable to those individuals within our spheres of influence. We are to be and remain as lights in a dark world. We are to be attractive in this world not because of our appearance, but because of our Christlike love for others. Love goes a long way in making you approachable, especially when it is shown to those that the world sees as unlovable or unattractive.
1 John 4:7-19
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.
This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent His Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.
Note that in this passage there is what seems to be a progression of faith in how we are to love one another. Note that true perfection in love comes where fear no longer matters anymore to you. Since fear is a tool of the enemy, a passionate believer in Jesus Christ is reaching perfection in love with a strong progression of faith in his or her life.
Part 2 – Abundant Life and Spirit-Filled
A passion-filled believer is living the:
Abundant life. The ultimate goal of every person, believer or not, is to live an abundant life.
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
What is the abundant life? It depends on how you look at it. The non-believer, or even some believers, may associate abundance with wealth or riches. That is not God’s definition of abundance. (Remember the plight of the rich man who knew what he needed to do to follow Jesus but was very sad because he couldn’t do it:
Mark 10:17-27 NLT
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
And yes, it is possible, through Jesus Christ, for you to live a life of abundance.
Jesus does not just want you to simply exist.
He does not even want you just to have what you might deem to be a carefree life. That’s not biblical.
He does, however, want you to have the abundant life. He wants you to have a life that overflows with God’s presence in every aspect of your existence. He wants you to experience the completeness of life according to His will and purpose for you. The effect of an abundant life will be the blessings of life that God will show you because of your faithfulness to Him.
Heading before this passage: Blessings for Obedience…
“Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all His commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God:
You will be blessed in the city
and blessed in the country.
Your descendants will be blessed,
and your land’s produce,
and the offspring of your livestock,
including the young of your herds
and the newborn of your flocks.
Your basket and kneading bowl will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in
and blessed when you go out.
“The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you. They will march out against you from one direction but flee from you in seven directions. The Lord will grant you a blessing on your storehouses and on everything you do; He will bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He swore to you, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by Yahweh’s name, and they will stand in awe of you. The Lord will make you prosper abundantly with children, the offspring of your livestock, and your land’s produce in the land the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His abundant storehouse, the sky, to give your land rain in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the Lord your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow them. Do not turn aside to the right or the left from all the things I am commanding you today, and do not go after other gods to worship them.
Not everyone reaches this goal because of the challenges of life and deception from Satan:
Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea. He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them: “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it sprang up right away, since it didn’t have deep soil. When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn’t have a root, it withered. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce a crop. Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.” Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”
When Jesus explains this parable (to His disciples), you can see why many people fail to live the abundant life.
Then He said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones along the path where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble. Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”
When you get right down to it, the only thing that keep us from living the abundant life is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ over the enemy. The enemy is Satan, who is described in John 10:10 as the one who seeks to kill and destroy, but God’s power and ability overcomes anything and everything that Satan can do. The key to living the abundant life is to resist Satan and to seek and remain in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
James 4:7 NIV
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
You know you are progressing towards the abundant life that Jesus wants you to have when you are advancing past the “baby milk” stage of faith and just looking at life for the basics:
Matthew 6:25-33 ESV
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
You are worth so much more in Christ! In order to experience the abundant life, you will have to throw caution to the wind and life a life of faithfulness in trusting the words of Jesus Christ. He wants so much more for you! A passion-filled believer lives with purpose, and experiences the abundant life in Christ!
The sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, in your ongoing fellowship with Christ, will give you the ability to produce the multiples described in Mark Chapter 4 as you live for Christ in abundance!
A passion-filled believer is:
Spirit-filled. The true abundant life can only be achieved by the believer in Jesus Christ. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that enables you to achieve this abundance and live a passion-filled existence!
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is instantaneous upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, but the Spirit does not turn the believer into a mind-numbed robot. You have to allow the Spirit to be in control in order to offset your own fleshly nature.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 ESV
Do not quench the Spirit.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Being Spirit-filled means successful living in reverence and service for Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The Holy Spirit teaches believers how to live a Christlike existence, and His lessons are invaluable as He sanctifies with His presence.
Being Spirit-filled gives you the ability to live a life a passion for Jesus Christ:
Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Part 3 – Sensitive, Servant, Sanctified, Stands Firm, Sharer of Faith
A passion-filled believer is:
Sensitive. A follower of Christ who is mature in his or her faith and lives a purpose-filled life is sensitive to his or her environment. Prayers are less about self and more about others. It extends beyond close friends and family and even reaches those who do not know the Lord and those who need encouragement. Sensitivity in Christ means love, care and compassion for others.
Look at the words of Christ in Isaiah 61 as to being sensitive to the needs of the people:
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
Your life of sensitivity, after all is said and done, glorifies God! The softly spoken words and demeanor of a passion-filled believer represents peace and comfort for those who need simple encouragement all the way to those who are in the midst of a turbulent experience.
Proverbs 16:24 ESV
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
1 Peter 3:8 ESV
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
A passion-filled believer is a:
Servant. The desire to live in a Christlike manner in sensitivity lends to being a Christlike servant.
John 12:26 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
1 Peter 2:16 ESV
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Being a servant is exactly what Jesus Christ wants us to do before others. He set the example before His disciples:
John 13:12-17 HCSB
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
A passion-filled servant understands the importance of devoting his service to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the enabler through the humility of the servant, and God is the one who receives the glory!
A passion-filled believer is:
Sanctified. The Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is a sanctifying presence. Sanctification is the combination of the believer’s growth in the likeness of Christ. It is the accumulation and application of God’s wisdom and knowledge from none other than Jesus Christ, who A. B. Simpson refers to as “The Sanctifier.” Jesus Christ proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the One who will teach and remind believers of the words of Jesus Christ.
John 14:26 ESV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit works within you from the moment of your conversion in recognition that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. It is best described as an ongoing cleansing process as you put off the old and grow in your new life in Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Sanctification is what God desires for your life. You cannot live a life of passion in Christ without sanctification, because it is the essence of an obedient lifestyle.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Sanctification does not mean a life of perfection, but it does mean that you desire to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). It means that the believer desires a greater faith walk and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and both of these requires a humble, teachable role within the presence of the Spirit.
A passion-filled believer:
Stands firm. In living according to the IMAGE of Jesus Christ, one of the most important aspects of living is under the “E” for endurance. Every believer has to endure a daily onslaught of temptation and fleshly desires. A believer has to not only endure a multitude of issues and distractions, but also must stand firm in the face of any opposition, especially any challenges to your faith in Jesus Christ. For the person who is living with a passionate conviction in Jesus Christ, it can and will be done without any hesitation or uncertainty.
Philippians 1:27-30 HCSB
Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God. For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.
Standing firm means that there is nothing that can shake you from living a life of passion in Jesus Christ.
A passion-filled believer is a:
Sharer of faith. This is something that becomes more and more comfortable over time as you allow the sanctification process to continue. Sharing the love of Christ, your faith, is an act of discipleship. The believer not only shares about Jesus Christ to those who do not have a relationship with Him, but also gives encouragement to other believers as often as necessary.
1 Peter 3:13-17 HCSB
And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Mark 16:15 ESV
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Colossians 4:5-6 ESV
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Romans 1:11-12 HCSB
For I want very much to see you, so I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
A passion-filled believer reflects the image of Jesus Christ for all to see, and one who readily shares his or her faith does so with confidence and assurance that the truth is being spoken.
Part 4 – Influencer, Iron-Sharpener and Instructor
A passion-filled believer is an:
Influencer. Sharing your faith, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, is influential. The words spoken are given with conviction and in righteousness to those who hear them. A passion-filled believer is speaking in accord with the will of God, who desires for every person to enter into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB
This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
There is a difference between an influencer and a coercer. An influencer shows the love of Christ in their speech to others. One who coerces is not really allowing the Spirit to work in the life of the hearer. The words spoken are to reflect the love and concern of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:13-16 ESV
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
An influencer provides words of wisdom and knowledge about not just the gospel, but everything that is beneficial.
Proverbs 9:9 ESV
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
A passion-filled believer is an:
Iron-sharpener. The proper influence must originate from the Spirit of truth. When referring to Scripture, the believer must use these words properly in order that God is glorified:
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
An iron-sharpener is actively speaking about matters of Scripture to provide others with food for thought and encourages feedback from others.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
A passion-filled believer is an:
Instructor. A believer who faithfully and consistently reads and studies the Bible is more than just a Bible student. He is an influencer, iron-sharpener and also an instructor. A passion-filled believer gives instruction on Christlike living with both words and actions everywhere he or she goes. An instructor not only shares godly wisdom and knowledge but also reflects how to behave properly and live with character in all situations and circumstances.
Proverbs 19:20 ESV
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Psalm 32:8 ESV
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
[Break – Checkout]
Part 5 – Obedient to God and His Word, Outreacher, Neighbor and New Creation
A passion-filled believer is:
Obedient to God and His Word. Being obedient to God means loving Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), and it includes an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
1 John 5:3 ESV
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Loving God and obedience to Him are synonymous. You cannot do one without the other. A passion-filled believer strives to live in faithfulness and trust in the Word each day.
A passion-filled believer is an:
Outreacher. Believers are not to stay amongst themselves or even within their small group of friends. Passion-filled believers go outside of themselves. They go where the Holy Spirit takes them in ministering to others, and allow the Spirit to take the lead in all discussions and opportunities to witness to others. The outreach efforts truly reflect to others the person’s love for God, reverence to God and faithfulness. This is a significant difference to those who claim to desire to minister to others. Outreachers live in this manner each day, and to be prepared to minister to others at any given moment as the Spirit prompts.
Matthew 28:19 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Romans 10:14 ESV
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
2 Timothy 4:2 ESV
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
A passion-filled believer is a:
Neighbor. In order to minister as an outreacher for Jesus Christ, you have to be the neighbor as described within the greatest commandments of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 22:36-40 HCSB
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
In the simplest of terms, you are commanded by Jesus Christ to convey the same love to your neighbor, as a neighbor, as you love God and desire to serve Him in whatever ministry it is that you are participating in. This is offered as wisdom given that there are often many situations where your interactions with others may be misconstrued, misunderstood or flat out rejected. A passion-filled believer understands that love in ministry and service often takes time when trying to reach others for Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
So, you being a neighbor to others is the essence of Christlikeness and Spirit-filled living. Your love for Jesus Christ will shine before everyone and they will see the sincerity of your care and concern for others.
A passion-filled believer is a:
New Creation. Every day is a new day…a new adventure. Jesus Christ’s sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit transforms you as a new creation each day. Your actions of reading, studying, meditating on His Word and living out a faithful life in Jesus Christ is a constant life transition that will also show the growth and development as a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This ongoing “newness” in Jesus Christ is an ongoing development. Our challenge is to remain close to Him, and in our closeness, obedience and service to Him, He will continue to renew us as we strive for holiness. He continues to provide us with the ability to resist sin and those things that block our ongoing transformation to a place of freedom and righteousness in His name. We are being made new every day in Jesus Christ! A passion-filled believer puts nothing above the importance of fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Your passion in Jesus Christ does not require anything complicated. If anything, it requires a simplistic, God-oriented approach. Sometimes the most obvious solutions to answers are right in front of you. My desire for you, after this discussion concludes, is to challenge each of you to really search your own heart and mind as to where you are in your present relationship with Jesus Christ and how you are living for Him. It is impossible to separate your relationship with Christ and having a good grasp of what your reason and purpose is for being here.
If it means that today is the day you begin to get deeper into the Word of God and learn more about who He is, then that will be good and proper for you. God will respond to your sincere efforts to get to know Him.
If you believe that you are already doing what the Lord would have you to do, then your place of service will be affirmed by your actions; however, you should also be prayerful that God will move you to a different area at any given moment and begin to expose you to ways where you will learn and prosper under His direction. It takes being flexible and open to learning new things, but it also means that you are sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Your passion in Jesus Christ is in your control. Jesus has always been present in your life. He was there from the beginning (John 1:2), He was present in your past, He is present now and He will be with you in the short term and long term future. He wants you to seek Him and love Him as One who has your best interests at heart. He wants to see you succeed in Christ, and He wants you to live up to your greatest potential. He wants you to live the abundant life!
Evaluate your life today, your love for Christ, and what you can do to improve upon this. Your passion in Jesus Christ is a flame that will continue to burn brightly as you discover and live out your God-given gifts and talents. All it takes is the desire to seek Him with greater intimacy and do even more than you ever have before. God will respond to your loving commitment to Him where everyone will see you, but Christ receives the glory! Amen!
Copyright © Melvin Gaines
06/22/2015 § Leave a comment
God’s desire for us is to live an abundant life. It is a life not with promises of perfect health and riches, but a life that understands the relevance of Christ’s presence and a desire to be more faithful and obedient to Him. Our riches are not physical. They are in the abundance of living a life for Jesus Christ.  In our living this abundant life, we develop the mind of Christ and perform acts of ministry to others in worship to Him and in praise for Him.
As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we receive the aid of the Holy Spirit who provides us with the desire to want to serve Him. We want to please Him often before we know how to do so. The enthusiasm of a new life in Christ is present (2 Corinthians 5:17), but the challenge is to build upon the enthusiasm with the actions that we believe are best in line with His will and purpose for our lives.
This is also true for “fifty-somethings” like me who have known Jesus for over twenty years. I have encouraged my church Sunday school class and congregation to always remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit as you submit your life to Him in prayer as to your focus within the body of Christ and in ministry as to your purpose. Everyone is born with at least one talent. The prayer is that God reveals to you all of your talents, abilities AND your spiritual gifts that He gives to you as you became a believer in Christ. You have to seek His wisdom and guidance in this area to reach your fullest potential.
Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life helped its readers to recognize that each person created by God has a purpose. As we read Warren’s first words of the book, “It’s not about you,”  it is apparent that our lives are not our own as much as we would like. We are often confronted with the reality that what we are doing in our vocational work or even within our actions in church is inadequate as we reckon with God’s calling for our lives.
The most important things that a person can do to resolve this issue include the ongoing development of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. There must be a closeness with Christ in order to be in tune with His will and desires for you to be fulfilled. Of course, Satan and his agents will put up all sorts of opposition or obstacles that will keep you from developing this closeness. Your busyness will challenge your ability to focus on Jesus Christ, but your efforts to remain steadfast with Him and in Him makes you Satan’s enemy. Thankfully, you have the power of the conquering Holy Spirit who will cling to you and provide protection (Isaiah 54:17).
It begins with communication–His Word speaks to you and you respond in prayer. An in-depth review of His communication with you requires the quietness of meditation. From there, you can live with the confidence that God will provide direction for you as you grow in your relationship.
There may be a change of path in your vocation or even your career of service as you navigate through life, but there is nothing better than receiving the directions from the guiding hands of Jesus Christ as you move forward.
1 Article – John 10:10 – The Abundant Life (2000). Grace Communion International. © 2015 Grace Communion International. Retrieved June 18, 2015 from https://www.gci.org/bible/john1010
2 Warren, Richard (2002). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? Copyright © 2002, 2011, 2012 by Rick Warren. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI., pg. 21
04/30/2015 § Leave a comment
Forgive and Forget?
Hardly. It’s difficult to get past the pain and trauma that occurs when someone hurts you. It’s something that each one of us has experienced, and it shapes our view of the world.
When we experience pain, our defense mechanisms kick in. Everyone responds differently when they have been hurt, but most often the response is proportional to the painful experience. It is manifested in both emotional and even physical responses, where the physical ailments are often the result of prolonged emotional difficulties.
The response in kind to the stimuli of pain and trauma experienced is similar to that of Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.  While the response may be equal to what a person has done to you, it is how you respond and manage this pain that is very important as you seek the Lord for ways to cope with your experience.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Pain makes it hard to forget the hurts. It’s hard to let go of the wrongs that you have experienced. It makes it difficult to conceive the nature of “forgive and forget.”
First, we need to note that forgive and forget is not found in Scripture. It is a term that comes out of a world view that proclaims a person can indeed forget the hurt upon forgiveness and move on. There are many verses that discuss forgiveness, and there is a reference to how God sees our sin once a person repents of it:
Isaiah 43:25 HCSB
It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.
The concept of forgive and forget means to suck it up and move on with your life. Sure, you got hurt or you’ve been damaged, but now it’s time to let it go and face the next life challenge. The reality of this is that we never truly forget. We may indeed forgive, but we never forget. In fact, remembering the hurts can help you put the healing process into perspective.
With that in mind, does God truly “remember your sins no more,” or “forget” them as if they never happened? Well, if we consider the passage of Isaiah 43:25, we need to also note that Jesus Christ made a one-time payment that covered all of mankind’s sins–past, present and future.
Hebrews 10:14-18 ESV
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
God does not forget in the same way that we forget—He doesn’t forget anything. He is omniscient. He knows everything and forgets nothing, but, in the case of our sin, because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, He chooses to not remember our sin. He even provides a visual measuring distance as to how far He removes sin from each of us:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His faithful love
toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Note that God’s choice to not remember our sins reflects His love for each one of us and how he has patience and compassion for His children. In order to experience true forgiveness, on either side, there must be love, compassion and humility within the process.
So, when we use the words forgive and forget, we must rely upon the power of God to give grace in forgiveness. True forgiveness is to move past the pain. While you don’t forget the sin or its behaviors, you have to choose to overlook them and extend the grace of forgiveness to the other person to move through and out of our pain. Knowing that Christ forgives us and remembers our sins no more is a reminder that grace does not need to stop with Christ. He gives you the ability to forgive and, not forget, but to choose to remember the other person’s sins no more.
But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
This leads to the discussion about where forgiveness begins. True forgiveness comes with the understanding that it’s time to get right with God. It doesn’t matter if you are on the giving or receiving end of forgiveness. Your relationship with God requires a cleansing. In order for you to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), you need to give all of who you are and what you are to Him.
1 Article – Newton’s Law of Motion. (n.d.). From Wikipedia. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion#Newton.27s_3rd_Law
Copyright © Melvin Gaines
04/24/2015 § Leave a comment
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. (Genesis 1:26-27 HCSB)
When God created mankind, He created us in His image. He did this with the intent of His creation to be in His likeness (James 3:9b). His will for His people are to live in a manner that is praiseworthy and devoted in worship to Him. Man’s image was to be the glory of God, and a woman, created as man’s helpmate, was intended to be the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7), and both, in this image and in worship, are to honor the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:23). With this, man has a responsibility to live in a manner that is worthy of His creation. With your belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, He restores you to the place where God intended for you to be—as a person who is under grace and as a new creation in Him (John 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). In the same way you were created in his image, it is His will for you to live in this manner as a new creation. Christ’s sacrifice for you should compel you to put off your old nature of sin and put on the new nature and character of Christ (Romans 6:6-7, 11-12). Your image in Jesus Christ is all about the change taking place in your spiritual character (Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 1:16).
A believer who is fully engaged in his or her relationship with Jesus Christ is going to be a dynamically effective witness for Jesus Christ. It is the perception of the believer’s interaction with others that provides the impact of the gospel of Jesus Christ; therefore, a believer’s image is what people see (and need to see—whether you are interacting with non-believers as a testimony or with believers as a person of support and encouragement). It is this image that is the complete makeup of a believer who wants to be more than just salt and light—a bright, seasoned witness for Jesus!
The believer’s image is extremely important in three different areas:
1.) It builds and develops the person’s relationship with God
2.) It builds and develops the person’s self-worth and self esteem
3.) It builds and develops confidence to interact with others in multiple scenarios and circumstances
I will use the word “IMAGE” as an acrostic word comprising what a believer in Jesus Christ needs to do with a consistent fervor to grow in Christ and be a dynamic testimony before others.
There are five elements that we will study that make up the word IMAGE in this endeavor. In order to develop and maintain your IMAGE before others:
I – Investigate the Word of God
The development of a believer must begin with the appropriate time and effort devoted to bible reading. Even as you are developing a routine for bible reading each day, the proper development of the image of the believer must have progression in this process—the progression must continue in the achievement of levels to where you are no longer just reading the bible, but you are investigating what scripture has to say to you.
Your success as an investigator includes:
- Reading the bible daily
- Reading at a predetermined time as part of a regular schedule
- Using external biblical resources to complement your study (for example, using a Greek and Hebrew reference, concordance and/or study bible with commentary)
Investigate (v.) – to observe or study by close examination and systematic inquiry (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
M – Meditate on the Word of God
(Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10)
Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to become aware of and reflect upon the revelations of God. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (such as a bible passage) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. 
Meditation is reflection, consistent prayer and practice that promote greater understanding and wisdom in the application of God’s Word.
A – Act (Application of God’s Word)
The act portion of your IMAGE involves taking action upon what you have learned in your investigation and mediation of God’s Word. Taking action or applying God’s Word involves four key lifestyle elements of your faith in Jesus Christ:
- Repentance upon acknowledgment of sin to restore immediate fellowship with Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:8; Acts 3:19)
- Compliance with God’s will in your life (John 7:17)
- A desire to improve and please God (Colossians 3:15)
- Greater consistency in Christlike behaviors (Psalm 119:101-106; Romans 12:1-2)
We act upon God’s Word and His will because we are His specially chosen people, and we desire to maintain a special relationship with Him (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 37:23-24, 73:23-24)
G – Grow
Growing in Jesus Christ is the natural progression of a healthy, vibrant relationship with Him (Ephesians 3:17-19, 4:11-15)
Growth is measured in the following:
- Continuing achievement of maturity in Christ
- Hearing and knowing when God is speaking to you
- Increased sensitivity to matters of the Holy Spirit
- Greater focus and determination
E – Endure
Bearing all things that occur in the faith with an understanding of the big picture–the love of Christ is exhibited for all to see and that Jesus Christ is glorified (Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 13:7; James 1:2-4).
Jesus wants you to not only persevere but to remain steadfast in your faith and retain boldness in your faith (in words and in your demeanor before others). It is your steadfastness that makes the boldest statements of Jesus Christ’s presence in your life.
Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound. This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy:
For if we have died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
if we endure, we will also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:8-12a HCSB)
1 Christian Meditation for Beginners by Thomas Zanzig, Marilyn Kielbasa 2000, ISBN 0-88489-361-8 page 7
2 An introduction to Christian spirituality by F. Antonisamy, 2000 ISBN 81-7109-425-5, pages 76-77
Copyright © Melvin Gaines
02/24/2015 § Leave a comment
The act of forgiveness is very difficult. An unforgiving person may experience extreme anger, anxiety or hopelessness…or all of these emotions. Unforgiveness can cause others a lot of pain, as well—people may tend to avoid you. What about you? These unresolved issues are spiritually debilitating and can even make you physically ill.
There’s no need to avoid dealing with forgiveness any longer! If you are harboring animosity, resentment or dread over past hurts or injustices, then this two-day seminar is for you! We will discuss and share how forgiveness, with the healing power and grace of God, is the best way to conquer the past, free your mind and soul and experience true rest in Jesus Christ! Join us for lively conversation, prayer time and fellowship! The seminar is free (hotel stay extra)!
Friday, April 17 · Saturday, April 18
Hampton Inn Stow
4331 Lakepointe Corporate Drive • Stow OH 44224 • 330.945.4160
Special room rate for overnight stay (April 17) only $85.00 plus 15.25% tax.
When booking ask for the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church rate.
Book your reservation by Friday, March 20 (up to 4 guests per room).
A free hot breakfast is available for hotel guests
Free internet • pool • fitness center
comfortable and relaxing amenities • shopping and restaurants nearby
Availability will go quickly! Be sure to register today!
Questions? Call Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345 or visit akronalliance.org