Sunday, January 14, 2018

Are You Thirsty?

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14)

Do you find yourself getting thirsty, even though you have drunken from the fountain of living water in the past?  Could it be that you have begun to look to other wells to the neglect of the fountain of living water?  There are many wells that a person can drink from, success, health, power, prestige, influence.  When we drink from from these wells we find ourselves depending upon sources like the news media, whether it be conservative or liberal, or some experts latest book.  Drinking from these wells may seem to fulfill your thirst for a time, but it is like a man adrift at sea who begins to drink the salt water. It seems at first to quench your thirst, but in the end it causes death.  God does care about your personal needs, but they must be met from the right source.

The only water that can truly satisfy is that living water that only Jesus gives as we abide in Him.  It is very easy for me to become distracted. I can be pulled away by the responsibilities of life and even ministry. I can get my attention on politics and just causes. When I get distracted I find myself getting out of sorts. I find that I no longer have the depth of devotions that I have known and for which I long.  It finally comes to a point that I get totally stressed out and feel like I am going to lose it. The Lord graciously uses this crisis to refocus my heart to bring me back to simply abiding in Him. And in this place I find peace and rest.  All the issues are now in their proper perspective. Are you seeking to be satisfied at other wells? Return to the fountain of living water and be fully satisfied at you abide in Jesus.

Pastor Chris

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Renewed Strength

"But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31)

     We read many books that will tell us what our attitude is to be like and what we are to be doing in our personal lives and in our ministries.  There is nothing wrong with those books, or the people that wrote them necessarily.  The thing that such books often lack is telling you where the strength comes from to accomplish those things.
     It is as we wait on the Lord that we get a renewed strength.  To wait on the Lord is not a passive state, but means to expect, to collect, to gather together; to look patiently, to tarry or wait upon.  We wait upon the Lord by being in the Word, praying, and looking expectantly for further instructions and in order to receive the strength and wisdom that we need.
     Do you feel feeble in your walk with the Lord? Wait upon Him.  He will give you whatever you need to follow Him and to serve Him according to His calling on your life.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Your Reward

     “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.  Psalms 16:5-9 NKJV

     I remember when I first became a Christian being so excited about knowing Jesus and having my sins forgiven.  I was just so stoked reading the Bible and praying, just spending time with the Lord.  Over time I started setting goals, "Christian goals" of course.  I had in my mind what the Christian life should look like and I set out after those goals.  I sensed the call to the ministry, so pursued further education to that end.  Along the way, the Lord provided another one of the objectives, being married to an incredible Christian wife.  Ministry had its ups and downs, and in my mind I never achieved what I thought was the will of God for everyone in ministry.  After all, isn't God glorified more in larger successful ministries.  And seeing such examples at pastors' conferences, solidified that perspective in my mind.  I spent many years looking for the secret that I must be missing somewhere to guarantee what I thought was ministry success.  Isn't that the reward for faithfully serving the Lord for all these years.
     The Lord has an incredible way of teaching you the things that you cannot get from any other source.  We can even read the Scriptures in such a myopic fashion that we don't see what He has plainly written on the pages before us.  Then, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and uses our circumstances to teach us the things that we could never really learn by academic means alone.  God had begun an incredible work in Abram's life.  He had called him out of Ur and brought him into the land that He had promised him.  He gave him victory over five kings, when he went to rescue his nephew Lot.  Abram refused the reward of the King of Sodom, not wanting credit for his blessing to go to a man.  The patriarch had to be wondering if those kings he had defeated in a surprise attack would now come for him.  There are many things that we can run through our minds as we look at our circumstances, and wonder what is next.  Knowing what was in Abram's heart, God came to him in a vision and said, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward" (Genesis 15:1).
     We can get so caught up in looking at evidence of temporary blessing, that we miss what God would give us above all else.  We look for things, but He would give us Himself.  I must grow in the understanding that, when I have Jesus, I have everything that really matters.  I really don't need anything else.  Anything else He may choose to bless me with is simply gracious gravy.  As I come to see Him as my inheritance I can actually enjoy whatever He chooses to give me more fully, because they are put in their proper perspective.
     Have you discovered your true reward?

Pastor Chris

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bearing Fruit

"I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing... You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."  (John 15:5,16)

From these verses it is obvious that the Lord wants us to bear fruit in our lives.  But what is the fruit that He desires that we bear?  The most obvious answer comes from Galatians 5:22-23 where we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law".  We also see that there is the fruit of righteousness  (Hebrews 12:11; James 3:18).

What the branches have to do in order to bear fruit is to continue in relationship with the Vine.  Now, this sounds very picturesque but what does it mean for the "average Christian"?  Have you had those times in your Christian life where everything just seemed to go wrong?  Maybe it got so bad that you were tempted toward unbelief, questioning whether God would ever do anything in your life.  

Recently the Lord nailed me for my own unbelief in His desire to work in and through my life. Ministry can begin to wear on you, when you start trying to deal with issues in your own strength. He reminded me of a verse that He used in my life in the late 70's when I was back in college at Flagler College.  "Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to to that if you would believe you would see the glory of God.'"  (John 11:40).  Belief is that state of resting everything you have on something, or in this case, someone.  

If I am not bearing fruit in my life, it is because I am not abiding.  Whether I want to admit it or not, I am functioning with some degree of unbelief.  In order to bear fruit I must stay intimately connected to Jesus at all times.  If there is a problem, I need to go to Jesus with it.  If there is a need, I must go to Jesus with it.  If I need wisdom and direction in ministry, I need to go to Jesus with it.  If Jesus is really your life, your Vine, then you need to go to Him with everything, all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

We see some really crazy things going on in the world these days.  The only way that we are going to make it through, and bear fruit at the same time, is to cling to Him and rest in His love for us.

Pastor Chris

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Prayer Point #2

Why pray?

"As for me, I will call upon God, and The Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud and The Lord shall save me" (Psalm 55:16-17).

Why should a person pray? Prayer is simply the means by which God has chosen to work in our lives and in the world today. It is the way that He has chosen to do business in our lives. When you want to do something with another person, you have to communicate with them. Prayer is communicating with God. God created man in order to have fellowship with him. What an amazing thought, that the Creator of the universe would want to share HIs heart with us and to have us commune with Him (a desire that should be the heartfelt cry of any child of God). This is the starting point, but beyond this there are effects that prayer works for us in our present circumstances.

1. Prayer is the way that we express our need for salvation to God and receive Jesus as the complete payment for our sins. "But what does it say? 'The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the Word of faith which we preach): That if you confess with your mouth The Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of The Lord shall be saved'" (Romans 10:8-13).

2. Each believer faces spiritual warfare. In such a battle that is totally beyond your natural abilities, wouldn't you love to have the assurance of victory? Ephesians 6:10-20 describes our spiritual warfare and the armor with which we must equip ourselves in order to face the battles that we experience. To what battles am I referring? There is a spiritual component to all of the conflicts we face in this life: when your arguments with your spouse tear at your marriage; when your economic situation causes you to question the goodness of God. It is interesting to note that Paul sticks with his armor analogy until he gets to Verse 18. The reason for the change is that he is no longer speaking of the armor, but the battle itself. The battles that we face are won or lost on our knees.

3. Prayer is the way in which we receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Here the writer challenges us to come boldly before the throne of grace on the basis of the work that Jesus completed for us on the cross. This is an incredible thing to realize, that the access to God and His working in our lives is solely on the basis of His totally undeserved favor toward us because we are "in Christ". So, don't waste your time trying to earn it, simply receive it.

4. Prayer is the way that we can be free of anxiety in a world that is falling apart (Philippians 4:6-7). The way that we stay free of care is to cast all of our cares upon Him because He has loving care for us (1 Peter 5:7).

5. Prayer is the means that God has set forth for ministry in the world to be accomplished. Toward the end of his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had a specific request of them: "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of The Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Paul wanted the believers to pray so that the Word would be effective as he shared it. If anyone is wondering what they can pray for me, this would be at the top of my list.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons to pray, but should be more than adequate to jump-start anyone's prayer life. If in your reading you come across others, feel free to post them here on this blog. God bless you as you grow closer to Jesus.

Pastor Chris

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prayer Point #1

"Yet you do not have because you do not ask". (James 4:2b)

Have you ever wondered why the church seems to be so weak and powerless these days? Even though we have mega churches, Christian TV and radio, Christian books and magazines, websites of every description, evangelistic and missionary organizations, and well published programs and strategies it still seems that we have a very limited impact upon our culture and the world. What is true for the church as a whole is also true for the individual believer. How much of an impact are you having upon the people around you? When we read the biographies of believers in times past, we often see a different story. From the Book of acts to the 20th Century we have seen men that were greatly used by God for His purposes in their time. What is the difference between these men and us?
I believe the answer can be found in these ten simple words, "Yet you do not have because you do not ask". Is it because of our lack of prayer that we so little spiritual power and progress in our walk with Jesus? Have you ever cried out in frustration to The Lord not understanding what the reason is for your sense of spiritual stagnation? Could it be that much of our Christian lives are lived in presumption rather than prayer?
If we were to be honest, we would have to confess that many of us really believe in the effectiveness of prayer. The idea that we receive something from The Lord without our scheming, or having conferences and planning meetings, is totally foreign to our 20th Century minds.
But it was Jesus who said: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).
In future posts, we will get into the specifics of prayer, but for now let's begin to take prayer seriously and begin to do it. It is the means by which God has determined to do His work in the earth. As Christians we certainly don't want to miss out on everything that God has for us. So, let's begin to pray and see what God will do in our lives, through our individual churches and in the body of Christ as a whole. Go for it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A New Purpose

I started this blog about three years ago because I thought it would be a good thing to do.
It made sense to have an added resource with which I could minister to and encourage people in their walks with The Lord. As I have attempted to do this blog I have really fumbled around for a specific purpose. When something would pop into my mind, I would begin to blog about it. Sometimes there was some clear, encouraging thoughts, but several times I would not even complete the draft I started.
Recently I have received a new inspiration and purpose. The Lord has been dealing with me, and teaching me, a great deal about prayer. I would like to share the journey on which The Lord is taking me with as many as would like to come. I certainly do not claim to be an authority on prayer, neither do I claim that the thoughts of which I write are original to myself. I owe a great debt, first of all to The Lord, obviously, but second to that to the encouragement that I have received from men such as George Mueller, R. A. Torrey, and A. W. Tozer. So, if you are sensing this same calling upon your life, I would invite you to join me, not only in studying but also growing in and experiencing the blessing of prayer.

Pastor Chris