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Monday, October 10, 2011

Life is Hard...

Let's face it, it is!  Life is tough.  

When things are going well we forget how hard they can be.  When the bills are all paid, and everyone is healthy, and you and your spouse are getting along well, and the kids are making good grades, and the dog doesn't have fleas, then we forget how tough life can get.

On the other hand when things get ugly we seem to forget the good times too.  When the mortgage is past due, and the car has a flat, and the doctors office calls to give you a bad report, and the last word you spoke to your husband or wife was weeks ago and it was during a fight, and the kids are threatening to run away, and the dog just got hit by a car... Then, it's hard to see the good in life.

No matter where you are right now in that spectrum, one thing is certain:  Jesus has gone there before you and will be there with you. Don't ever doubt him.

God is always good and he has promised to be there with you.  You may not feel him, or see him, or sense him in any way... but he's there.  Hebrews 13:5b (HCSB) ..."He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you."

Sure, life is hard... But God is good.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Abiding in Christ

John 15:4 (NASB) 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. -Words of Christ

Abiding in Christ... I have thought a lot about what it means to abide in Christ.  Many of us have.  Yet we have probably come up with lots of different ideas of what it looks like.  

Understanding what it means to abide in Christ will help us get back to basics.  However I in no way expect to cover the fullness of this subject here, I don’t think I could do it justice in this short letter.  Yet I want to share a few of my thoughts with you.

If a branch abides in the vine, it always remains connected.  If it becomes disconnected, it no longer abides.  It's really that simple.  For our spiritual wellbeing, we must endeavor to always remain in connection with Christ.

A vine (trunk) is where the nutrients originate.  It has all of the resources needed for the branches to thrive, yet if the branch become disconnected those nutrients never reach their intended destination.  The vine is still producing and supplying the nutrients needed, yet the branch isn't getting them because it has been pulled off, cut off, or separated in some way from the vine.

In our everyday lives there are so many things that tug on us, pulling us away from our connection to Christ.  There are a thousand things that try to cause us to ‘disconnect’ from Christ.  These things in themselves are not all bad, but they can be interference.  

Anything that interferes with our relationship to the vine (Christ) will impede our fruiting process and can even cause us to 'dry up'.   If we want to survive as Christians, we must remain connected to the vine... But we can do far more than just survive... God desires that we thrive!

I am sure you feel the same way I do, I don’t want to dry up.  I want to flourish in Christ!  So we must daily guard our connection to Christ, with all that is in us, and that is done only by intentional discipline. 

We have been studying discipleship lately.  Discipleship is not just a class we attend.  It’s a way of life.  We have to discipline ourselves to follow Christ in all things.  The scripture below is an example of what it looks like to discipline the mind.

Phil. 4:8 (NASB) 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever  things  are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

It takes focus to remain in constant connection and communion with Christ, but the reward is to be a fruitful and flourishing Christian!  I’m sure that is what we all desire.

One more thought.  If we remain connected to Christ we also remain connected to one another because he is the vine that unites us all.

My prayer for you and the body of Christ today is that you abide in Him, and that we remain connected to each other. Lord, let us be fruitful and multiply in your Kingdom.

Blessings, Pastor Jerry

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Satan Actually Got Something Right!

I believe Satan actually got something right!  Yes, you read that statement correctly!  No, I didn't make a mistake in writing it.  But please, wait just a minute before calling me a heretic. I know that’s a bold and controversial statement for a Christian to make.  It sounds even more radical because it's being said by a pastor, the pastor of a charismatic/full gospel, non-denominational church none the less. 

However, I have found one thing that Satan said in the Bible that I believe we should take notice of, and perhaps we should even ask the same question from time to time.  It's not that his words had merit in the context which he said them because in that context he was wrong. It's the question itself, or at least a portion of it, that we should ask and consider.

We all know the story of Creation from the book of Genesis.  We know that God told Adam in Genesis 2:16,17 that he could eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If we will notice, God gave this instruction to Adam alone.  This was before Eve was created because in the very next verse God says, "It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper."  So God went on with creation and soon Eve is introduced.  Then, the very next person to come onto the scene is the Serpent, who of course is widely accepted as Satan. (To remove any doubt about his identity, look at Revelation 12:9.)

Genesis 3:1 (NLT) says, "Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the LORD God had made. "Really?" he asked the woman. "Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?"  This question asked by Satan, I believe, has so much merit for us today.  "Did God really say...?"  

Sure, I believe that God really told to Adam not to eat from that one tree.  Yes, Satan is a deceiver!  And yes, he was trying to distort the truth that God had given to Adam, which in turn he had passed on to Eve.  Sure, in doing so Satan was certainly trying to cast doubt on God and His word which are forever true, but there is some validity to the question itself, in our lives today.  

"Did God really say...?"  See, Eve had heard that God had made this statement but she probably hadn't heard him say it herself.  This brings me to my point, well two points actually.

Firstly, I do believe that God guides us by his Spirit still today.  John 10:27 (KJV) says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"   Romans 8:14 (KJV) tells us, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."  God speaks to us in many ways, but what concerns me is the number of people saying "God told me this", or "God has instructed me to do that".  What I have witnessed in my years of ministry is that much, if not most of what is said to be God speaking, is not God at all.  Far too often Christians, especially Charismatic Christians and Pentecostals, say “God has told me to do such and such”, but often it doesn't line up with the word of God, nor with God's character.  It's time for us to stop blaming God for our choices, and take responsibility for our own actions.  

Secondly, and most importantly, we need to know God's word, the Bible, for ourselves.  It is the ultimate authority, inspired by God's himself. (See 2 Tim.3:16)  

We can't just go by what someone tells us even if they are thought to be a reliable source of truth, or a trustworthy minster of the gospel.  The bible itself tells us that there are many false teachers (Read Jude).  

Satan is cunning.  He is real.  He is a liar, and he is seeking do destroy your life.  He is the epitome of wrong, but he did make a point that rings true today when he implied that we cannot blindly trust what someone else has told us God said.   

Here is a bit of sound advice: Find out for yourself what God has to say by reading His word, and be led by what it says rather than going solely by what someone else has told you, or even by what you have determined in your own mind to be "God's" course of action for your life.  God will lead his people by his Spirit, but it will come under the authority of His word, and will line up with his character, or it’s simply not God!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

“You can't bear fruit if you haven't first put down roots.”

Just the other morning on the way into the office Tracy and I were talking about how so many people seem unstable when it comes to church membership, or even faithful attendance for that matter.  As we were talking about how many seem to flow in but then just breeze right on through, I felt like the Lord began to speak to me.  The word “flux” came to my mind.  This isn’t the most common word but I did understand its meaning.  Just to be sure, I looked it up when we got to the church. 

Flux means, “flowing, movement, or continual change.”  This is exactly what seems to be going on in the body of Christ!  The church is in constant flux!  We flow from one movement to the next, one congregation to another.  I believe with all my heart that this is one of the greatest tricks that the Devil is using against the church of this generation.  Satan is keeping people in constant transit, or flux.

Then, I believe the Lord gave me a great understanding.   You can't bear fruit if you haven't first put down roots.”   The enemy has caused the body of Christ to be in such flux, that we have no root system.  Without roots a tree cannot live, much less be fruitful. 

Psa. 92:12-14 says, “12The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still yield fruit in old age ; They shall be full of sap and very green,

I want you to notice that verse 13 tells us if we want to flourish in the courts of our God, that we must be “planted” in the house of the Lord.  Wow!  That is a powerful passage of scripture.  We all want to flourish, but far too few want to be planted.

I’ll admit.  Staying planted is often difficult.  Some days it looks like the trees over in another courtyard are receiving more water.  Sometimes it appears that the trees over there are being recognized for their stateliness, while here where I have been planted I am not being celebrated.  It isn’t always easy to ‘bloom where you are planted’.  Things won’t always go your way, here or anywhere.

But the truth is, if God has planted me here, then here is where I will flourish.  Not over there in another courtyard, not at a church across town, right here where God put me. 

In a time people are not settling in one place long enough to get rooted or gounded we need to put down roots.  Without settling in and getting connected in the place God has chosen for you, you will never, I repeat never, be fruitful.

Spiritually speaking; Do you want to flourish like a palm tree?  Do you want to be strong and stable like the cedar of Lebanon?  Do you want to still yield fruit in old age?  Do you want to be green and full of sap, which is symbolic of life and vigor? 

If you answered yes to any, or all, of these questions, then allow God to plant you in the house of the Lord.  Don’t give in to Satan’s trickery and be plucked up and moved so easily.  You have found a great home right here at Abundant Life Tabernacle.  Dig in, put down roots and let’s be fruitful!

If you are reading this on my blog and aren't a part of ALT but perhaps go to another great church my advice is the same.  If you are in Bible believing church that takes the word seriously, and believes in serving the Lord faithfully, then put down roots.  Do what you can to make the church where you have been planted the best church it can be.  Don't jump and run at the first sign of difficulty.

May God bless His church!  And may God bless those who are planted in His house!