Reflections

It’s Time To Grow Up

Greetings and blessing to all. I have been growing closer to Christ in my trials and tribulations…have you? Jesus calls us to be devoted to him so that we can mature as Christians. Staying a baby Christians is seemingly safe but the truth is God wants us to quit drinking milk and begin taking meat. First Cor. 3:1-3 says, “and I brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink not solid food; for you were not able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not able for you are still fleshly.” God calls us to grow up and follow Him with our whole heart.  He wants us to fear him and keep His commandments. In Mark 8:34-35 it says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Ask yourself this question…what is keeping you from becoming spiritually mature? Is it some idol in your life? An idol is anyone or anything we love or cherish more than God himself.  Idolatry is a heart issue.  In the days of the prophet Ezekiel the people were living a double life.  In Ezek.14:3 it says “Son of man these men have taken their idols into their hearts and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces.” Some of us have set our affections on what the world /culture offers us and at that same time seek the face of God. Paul had told the Colossians in 3:5 “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”. The Bible also states, “No servant can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13) If we were to be very very honest, some of us may be in situations that need to be changed to be obedient and faithful to the Lord. But because of finances (loneliness, fear, etc.) we choose to be disobedient thereby closing that area of spiritual growth. Did you know that unrepentant sin will cause our hearts to grow hard and it does not matter how many trials you go through de-sensitivity of the conscious has taken place…and you will not mature spiritually.  It is called a seared conscience. (I Tim. 4:1-2)  Think about that; so you can begin to please God and not yourself.

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Fellowship

Greetings and blessing to all. I have been wondering why professing Christians believe that being involved with “Christians and all that entails” isn’t necessary for spiritual growth. Hmmmm. As you know most of us or Christians spend over half of our time at work the other one fourth is spent doing family stuff like cleaning, preparing dinner, sorting out bills, etc. The other fourth is spent resting or sleeping.  Can you grow spiritual doing these things…sure but the BEST way is with other believers. That is called fellowship. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” so say the Word of God in Acts 2:42. Then if we look at Acts 2:46-47, “ Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” In 1Cor.12 God explains to us that we share one common life under one head, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the defining character of the church. It is marked by its unity, by its shared life, its commonality, its community. It is called fellowship. We are living organisms dependent on each other.  Fellowship means to share and participate in the Greek. In most churches the idea of sharing and being in union with every other believer is not there.  Ask yourself this question…are you and I relating to each other on a superficial level or are we truly in fellowship?  I think most of us (that is the body of Christ) has lost this great reality of the life of the church.  Most churches want to appeal to people based on what they want in fear of losing members or bench warmers. When a person comes to church nowadays they come seeking” what can I get out of it” “will it make me feel good about myself”. The fellowship now becomes “it’s all about me”. As a counselor I would describes that behavior as self-centered. Instead of fellowship it is about “entertain me”, “I need my preferences met”.  In this techno age each person is able to create “their own private world”, you can become the God in your private world. Finally, ask this question, can you grow into a mature Christian by “fellowshipping your way or the biblical way?”

 

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Surrender Is The Answer

Greetings and blessing to all. I read a lot. Sometimes some things stand out in my mind and other things just get stored for a letter time. As I was reading a book by a famous author I camped on this statement, “The biggest impediments to the life of Christ flowing through you and I are the areas that we refuse to give to HIM whether consciously or unintentionally.” Hmmmm…I thought what area do I have that I do not want to give up? It could be something as simple as looking at a Facebook, or Fasting, or collecting certain items that causing ‘clutter’ or an extra ‘storage fee’. Each of us has these areas in our lives where we are relying on ourselves rather than on God and surrendering to the Holy Spirit that is dwelling in us. We each need to take a ‘personal inventory’ and pray like David in Psalm 139. “Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Ask God what is impeding His Holy Spirit from having free reign in you. Do not deny anything He brings to mind.  Trust Him to give you and I wisdom and understanding about these ‘idols’ that are keeping us from having the freedom of His Life flowing through us. I realize that sometimes God can ask us to do something that seems unreasonable…like join together as one and share everything or quit that nice paying career and join a missionary team or stop cutting corners on your taxes and give the government what they expect or witnessing to people when you are afraid that people will reject you and the message and maybe judging you to be ignorant. In the book of Acts Chapter 5:27-32 the disciples faced dire consequences if they kept telling the people about Christ. Like us they had a choice. Obey God or not?? Guess what?  Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Will you say that in your current state of disobedience? We must obey God and leave the consequences to Him. Because we can count on God; we can stand on his WORD and His Promises. The problem with us is not having patience and endurance. Recall that the Bible wants us to be like soldiers, farmers, and athletes. Can we wait like Abraham (25 years) for Isaac?  His wife did not want to wait…and we know Ismael and his history. Surrendering to Christ when it does not make sense to us is called Faithing.

 

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Commitment, Obedience, Self-Sacrifice

Greetings and blessing to all. It has been said by a noted writer, “sometimes you and I can become so deeply committed to our own self-pity that we refuse to see the good when God sends it; we become self-absorbed in our “woe is meism” sad song. Being a Christian takes real COMMITMENT and OBEDIENCE and SELF-SACRIFICING. Sometimes I think that we forget that we are in a “race”. In Heb. 12:1 God says, “Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely; and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Success in this race depends on endurance and effective training, which involves SUFFERING.  All of us can expect to encounter difficulty and hardship.  In John 16:33 God says, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God use our suffering for our good. Our suffering transforms our attitude toward ourselves. Just recently the media told us how a billionaire committed suicide. Most likely she was in anguish and refuse to seek proper help….all she could focus on was herself….how tragic. In Christ we realize that suffering humbles us and removes all unrealistic self-regard and pride. It shows us that we need God and we are very fragile.  Followers of Christ know that “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1-2 Suffering has a way of reminding us that Jesus gave his life for us in pain and suffering so that we can have “eternal life” when we leave this world.  In the writings of C.S. Lewis, he said, “in prosperity God whisper to us but in adversity he shouts to us. Instead of being absorbed in our “hurricane” let us read the Holy Scriptures (Mark 4:35-41) and notice how “storms” show up and how the “disciples of Christ” re-acted.  Saints, we must keep our perspective in a trial. We must look to Jesus 24/7. Jesus is in the boat with us and there he invites us to turn from fear to faith. The kind of faith that Jesus himself had in the God who brings order out of chaos and will one day still ALL of our storms.  Read about the New Heavens and the New Earth in Rev 21. For me, going through trials and pain has strengthen my relationship to God. It has tested my connection to God. It begs me to ask myself the question; am I truly committed, obedient, and self-sacrificing?

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Leaning On God Brings Comfort

Greetings and blessing to all. As you know I have had another battle with an adversity. But God has said in everything give thanks to God and be ye anxious for nothing. (I Thess. 5:16-18)  In this current trial I have learned to lean and depend solely on Christ. In my adversity, I look to God and his promise to be with me always. He has said, “never will I leave you never will I forsake you”. That alone comforts me because that is the same God that was in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew young men. Notice God did not stop them from being thrown in the furnace nor did he take them out of the furnace initially but He joined them. That is the same God that comforted the Israelites when Pharaoh chased them to the Red Sea. As they stood there trembling and afraid God acted. He parted the waters and drowned the Egyptians. Saints I know and I hope you know that we serve a powerful and awesome God. He may not take us out our pain and suffering but like Paul said, “that is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.”(2 Cor.4:16) When we find ourselves in pain, hardships, trials and tribulations, we may be tempted to console ourselves with complaining and bitterness; but realize that even in life’s hardest times the trial becomes a blessing because we discover God’s love for us and learn more and more about Him. So we should repent and turn to our Savior at those times. He says,” Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8) and “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) We must daily yield our wills to the Holy Spirit within us.  God produces supernatural fruit in us to help us deal with our adversities. I have acquired more patience, more faithfulness, more love, more peace, and more self-control, more joy, more kindness, goodness and gentleness. I belong to Christ and I am in His care. This affliction have made me be in constant prayer, yielding my motives thoughts and needs to the Lord. Sometimes we think we are so clever, so smart, so self-sufficient that we say to ourselves, “I can handle whatever happens to me”. But when God gets our attention with a situation will you say that or will you cry out to Him and say “I am suffering and in pain rescue me, O God, by your saving power.” Psalms 69:29

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Being A Disciple Requires Action

Greetings and blessing to all. Have you wondered why we do not evangelize more even though we love people and want them to be in heaven with us? It could be that we are afraid that others would reject us or persecute us with name calling or accusations. In Matt 5:14 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone.” Our deeds and our words must reflect that we are children of the Most High. Some of us are afraid to speak up at times because we know we are not living as we should.  We do not want to add that guilt to the burden of not sharing the gospel to unbelievers. But we know the cure for that…repentance, forgiveness and life change. Let us not continue in the habits that you know are wrong before the Lord. “Consider yourselves dead to sin (immorality, impurity, ungodly passions, evil desire, and greed), but alive to God”. Romans 6:11 Replace the bad habits with new ones that bring glory to God by both the life change and the new boldness in proclaiming our faith in Jesus.  If you are a Christian, then your identity is to be found in becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ. And because we are children of God we are marked by the characteristics of doing all things without grumbling and disputing; being blameless, innocent and above approach. Even in this difficult environment of a crooked and perverse generation; we are called to a life of holiness. In the Message Bible in I Peter 2:9 “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night and day difference he made for you.”  God did not create us or save us just for our own benefit or live in a cozy cocoon while here. God desires us to mature and share the gospel while we are still here on this earth.  He also desires to use us in accomplishing His will in the lives of other people including witnessing to them of God’s goodness and mercy by our words thoughts and deeds. God said, “Therefore Go and Make disciples of all the nations….. teaching them to obey all the commands I have given you.”

 

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Being, Thereby Doing

Greetings and blessing to all. God calls each of us to be separated unto Himself. We are called to be separated from spiritual compromise with this present evil world. We do this by reading, studying, absorbing and applying the Word of God. The Word must dwell richly within the believer. Jesus said, “and whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). We have a bad habit of “compartmentalizing”. We place our job, our social life, our family life, our life of entertainment, our eating, and our service to others in these little boxes. Then we have another box that has written on it “my spiritual life”. Whatever we have to do, in everything it is to be to the glory of God and to be done in thankfulness for the provision of God. That is why we always say, “check yourselves to see if you are “playing church”, or just going through the motions just to please God…but your mind is on one or two of the other boxes. Compartmentalizing will have you compromising because God of the Bible is not in it. For example, many individual professing Christians are entering into personal relationships with unbelievers that are SPIRITUALLY DESTRUCTIVE. Many professing Christians today do not see what is wrong with sharing life with an unbeliever. But because we want to compromise and compartmentalize our spirituality we forget to apply the verse where it reminds us not be unequally yoked. Even some of us take unbelievers as business partners. Again God wants us to come out from among them. Remember what happened to Solomon. He married a lot of women for power and business ventures and they immediately turned his heart away from the one true and living God; and from there Solomon was worshipping false and demonic gods. You see even a small compromise with the world in one area of living or thinking can affect many other areas of our living and our thinking. Perhaps that affect will not be apparent right way (Ez. 8:11). You may be thinking you are getting away with this behavior; but we must look at this from God’s point of view; all spiritual compromise is sin.

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Exodus 20:12 “Honor Your Mother”

Greetings and blessing to all of you especially the mothers. In my daily spiritual readings it was stated that “God wants mothers to rise to a higher standard. God desires excellence in all we do”. In the book of Ruth 3:11 Boaz honored Ruth with this statement, “ ..I will do for you all you ask . All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.” Ruth most likely never thought that she would be rewarded by being a woman and a mother of character. The most significant women and mothers in the scripture were influential not because of their careers but because of their character. Once again society or our culture… directed by Satan ….has initiated a plan to overthrow the design of God for men and women. For example, feminism began as a movement for equal rights but when Satan took over it has almost destroyed feminine virtues. We as women of God and mothers are to be concerned about moral and spiritual qualities instead of social standing, wealth and physical appearance. Excellence has to do with God’s destiny for us. When the day we stand before God He will not only ask how much we did for Him but will also judge how excellent it was. Study I Cor. 3 when Paul speaks about building a life on the foundation of Christ. In I Thess. 4:1 “…we instructed you how to live in order to please God as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” It is difficult to do a work that is pleasing to the Lord when we have a prideful attitude. Pride will cause you and I to think we can manage life’s situations ourselves and make our own plans. You and I have this tendency to act independently of the Lord. That grew out of the feminist movement. But the Bible says “do not deceive yourselves if any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age he should become a fool so he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” The world wants us to view men and women as the same but God has made us different. So women of God, mothers of God… it is about who God says we are. Our character which should be of great worth in God’s sight should be our #1 priority…all else is last.

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

FAITH

Greetings and blessing to all of you. In the Holy Scriptures Heb. 11:6 the Lord says, “And without FAITH it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exist and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”   Faith can begin sometimes as a “mustard seed” that can move mountains spoke of in Matt. 17:14-20.  How do we build on this faith? I believe one way is “waiting on God.” God is the Creator, God is our Redeemer, God is our Shepherd, and He is our Savior, Friend, our Lord, and our Master…that is who we are waiting on.   Who are you waiting on that has these characteristics? This is an act of Trust. In a book by Elisabeth Elliot she writes, “I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes up one’s thoughts. It’s easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence, easier sometimes than to wait patiently.” In the Old Testament the psalmist celebrates waiting patiently for the Lord; and Isaiah promised that those “who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Waiting on the Lord will increase your faith. For centuries gone by the people waited for the return of the Messiah…Jesus did come…and now He left; so in our church age we wait as much as they did. He said, “this is the same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

Waiting calls us to cheerfully give up ourselves and all our affairs to his will and wisdom when we surrender everything to Him. Trusting in God, the heart is fixed. If God be for us we need not fear what man can do. We should be in constant dependence on HIM. Psalm 62: 8-12 warns us against trusting men. My trusting in only God produces a level of hope within me; knowing Christ at work in me…I can say “HE HAS IT.” My soul now rest.

With the Love of Christ                                                                                          First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC

Reflections

Looking Unto Jesus

Greetings and blessing to all of you. To often we look no further than our own solutions when we are going through something that seems to be too too much; when we need to look to the wonder- working power of Christ Resurrection taking a posture of humility as we wait on Him. Waiting has never been fun. But waiting is a huge part of the Christian life; keeping our eyes and focus on Him…and not on our circumstances. We need to let go of trying to figure out everything and trust Him in the “Today”. In Psalm 74:1 “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” I believe that sometimes, we live like that. Notice it said in our “hearts” not our “heads”. You see, we intellectually know there is a God but in our hearts we act like God does not exist when a crisis hit. In the Daily Bread on Monday, the writer asked two questions. Have we experienced the peace that goes beyond logic and understanding? Do we have the inner confidence that God is in control even if He does not answer your prayers the way you expected? It appears when “life happens” we become overwhelmed and anxious. We have “foolish thinking”. We began to despair. We say things in our heart like “Why God?” “Where are you God?” “Maybe He did not Rise after all?” The Devil is a Lie! That same God who split the sea and healed the sick is the same God who can cut through your “feelings” of drowning in pressures and fears. In First Peter 1:8 God declares, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Faith is not a pathetic sentiment; it is a robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is Holy Love. You and I totally lean recklessly into the arms of Jesus knowing we will find security, safety, love and wisdom. Psalm 105 says “Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face always.” I believe the real meaning of “eternal life” is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. The God/Man is disciplining us to get us into this Resurrection Power. Therefore, “commit your way to the Lord trust in Him… Psalm 37:5

With the Love of Christ                                                                                           First Lady Vivian C. Currie

Pastor ALC