Broken Branches Koinonia

A few weeks ago, Broken Branches hosted their very first Koinonia (Christian Gathering) at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA. There was a great time of worship and learning over two days. God moved in a great ways. Here are a few pics.

1 Peter 5:10

This verse reveals that suffering is a normal part of life, even for the Christian. Sometimes we may think that as followers of Jesus we should be exempted from things like suffering but it has always been part of the path of following Jesus.

The encouragement here is that it is only a temporal thing. The suffering doesn’t last forever, praise God! It is possible to endure it and allow it to teach, mold, shape and train us.

One can see from the verse that God is a God of grace, and He will sustain us by that grace through the suffering. We also see that He has called us for the glory of Christ. Thus whatever suffering we experience is to bring more glory to Christ.

The verse finishes up by telling us what the outcome of our suffering will provide outside of more glory for Christ: our maturity, confirmation, strengthening, and assurance of Christ in our lives. We grow when we are stretched. We learn when times are tough. Our faith becomes our own when it is tried; then it becomes true.

Psalm 139:13-14

“For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

We are created by God, in His image. This means we have a spirit, soul, will, intellect, and more that reflect who God is.

God put us together from our hair color, to our organs to our DNA. He is the one who designed us and detailed us just the way He wanted us. We may not always like our hair or noses or talents and skills but He loves us as we are.

We should praise God because He doesn’t make junk. Even though we don’t always see ourselves in the best light, His love for us sees beyond our imperfections.

If you’re feeling a little down-in-the-dumps today, let this verse be an encouragement to you in knowing that God not only made you but He made you intentionally, not accidentally. He has a purpose for you and not only does He love you unconditionally but He likes you just the way you are, freckles and all!

2 Timothy 1:7

Simply put, fear doesn’t have to be a factor for you! With Holy Spirit residing in you, God has given you a brand new capacity for love, power and self-discipline. Now you have the power of Holy Spirit, love of Holy Spirit and self-discipline of Holy Spirit to assist you in engaging others around you in a way that glorifies God and helps them to know Him better. Today seek to engage others, be daring and don’t let fear prevent you from being all God has called you to be!

2 Corinthians 5:17

This verse is used often when someone is first stepping into a journey with Jesus. It’s like a life-marker, denoting that occasion of when things first started changing. But there are a couple of things I want to point out in addition to that.

1) It’s the change that keeps going. None of us ever reach perfection or complete change on earth. We are continually being transformed from glory to glory, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says:

“But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

So there should be continual changes happening in our lives. We may not always be seeing huge portions of our lives being renovated but there will always be things we need to pay attention to. There will always be something that God is working on in us.

2) The change that began when we moved into this relationship with Christ is already completed in Christ. I know this may be hard to understand but according to the scripture, when Jesus said “it is finished”, that meant everything that needed to be done had been done. This leads me to believe that we are simply being conformed to His image in the meantime.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:29‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

In other words, God already sees who and what we are going to be and He is using things in our lives to chip away the imperfections. Jesus is the prototype and He is making us to be just like Him in the end.

Verse For The Day

Everything ultimately belongs to God. He is sovereign over all and we can rest in knowing that He is sitting on the throne today.

What does this verse reveal to you about God?

How does this verse apply to your situation today?

How does this verse affect any decisions you are making or concerned about?

How does this verse affect your worship of God?

Dealing With Temptation: A Biblical Overview

Temptation is something we all must face, even for the Christian. In fact, a Christian may struggle with temptation more so than others because of the simple fact that the Christians want to please God and not themselves. In this article, I hope to give some helpful tactics to dealing with temptation from a Biblical perspective and offer some very practical help.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

James 1:14 ESV

Before we move on, let me define what temptation is. A temptation could be defined as anything contrary to God’s best for us. It could be found in the form of disobedience, a struggle or rebellion against God and His plan and purpose for us. In James 1:14, we see a clear definition of temptation: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (James 1:14 ESV). Temptation being that desire inside of us which draws us away from God. When we yield to that desire, or temptation, that is when we sin. Temptation itself isn’t sin but when we give in to the temptation is when our relationship with God and others suffers.

Here are a few practical things to consider when being tempted.

Pray. Yes, pray! I know it seems so basic and elementary and yet it is so necessary when we are being tempted. The scripture is clear that we are to always be in prayer. Temptation often comes to break our fellowship with God. It’s when our minds and flesh are being drawn to satisfy itself with something other than God’s provision. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to be praying always. When we remain in a posture of prayer, temptation can be lessened.

18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV)

Prayer needs to be our first line of defense. Not our last. Call out to Jesus immediately when you sense temptation rising because according to 2 Peter 2:9: the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations…

Prayer needs to be our first line of defense. Not our last.

George Lockhart

Resist. Part of our problem in dealing with temptation is that we don’t fight very hard for very long. It can be hard to say no but say no the first time. The second time. The third time. Keep saying no each and every time until the temptation is gone.

I think of Jospeh in Potipher’s home when considering this point. To recap a little for you, Joseph is a good looking, young man with a bright future. He is in the house with Potipher’s wife continually, who is constantly tempting him to have a sexual relationship. You can read the story in Genesis 39. Part of the story informs us that this was a daily temptation for Joseph. Look at his response though:

And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. Genesis 39: 7-10

One can clearly see that Joseph had to resist day after day, time after time. He said “no” once, twice, every time. We have to say “no” once, twice, every time, if we are going to overcome temptation. The scripture tells us that it’s when we resist the devil that he flees from us. James 4:7 says: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

We have to say “no” once, twice, every time, if we are going to overcome temptation.

George Lockhart

Even as we resist the devil and he flees, there are times when that temptation may continue from other people or even within. What should we do then?

Run. As the story of Joseph continues, we see another crucial step in dealing with temptation and that is running! There may be instances when resisting means running out of a situation. Getting away from and removing ourselves from the situation that could cause us to fail may be the optimal thing to do. Look at this part of Joseph’s story:

11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. Genesis 39:11-12

When the temptation doesn’t go away, we may need to get away…far away. Develop an escape route for yourself. Make a plan on what you will do when you are tempted with various things or in sundry ways. Then follow through with the escape plan. If your house is on fire and you have a fire escape plan, it does you no good if you don’t take it!

When the temptation doesn’t go away, we may need to get away…far away.

George Lockhart

Fill Your Mind With the Right Things. There is no doubt that our minds are often filled with slogans, lyrics, sayings and even self-talk that is not God-focused. It is imperative for Christians who desire to please God to know God’s Word. How can we do what God wants if we don’t know what He wants? One of the best ways to know what God wants is to read and study His Word.

God has given us His Word to help guide us in life with decisions and with accomplishing His plan and purpose. When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, Jesus used scripture to combat the devil. Matthew 4:3-4 gives us this important insight:

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Notice in that passage and others further along how Jesus says “It is written”. Jesus relied on The Word of God when He was being tempted by the devil. Jesus quoted scripture and it worked for Him; it will work for you. Memorize scripture that has to do with the temptations and struggles you naturally face. Then quote them and pray them when you sense the temptation being presented to you.

Jesus quoted scripture and it worked for Him; it will work for you.

George Lockhart

Part of overcoming temptation is having our minds renewed and refreshed by God’s word. Romans 12:2 gives us this admonishment: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. When we choose to meditate and fortify our minds with God’s word, we have a much better chance in dealing with temptation properly.

Get help. Having a friend you can call or text when temptation is strong is a great asset. Some struggles are too much to handle alone. Find someone you know and trust and maybe just have a key word that you can share that lets them know you’re having a hard time. Remember this verse from James 5:16  16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

When we reach out to others we will often find that the temptations we face are some of the very things others are dealing with also. It’s better to fight temptation together.

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

George Lockhart is the lead pastor at New Vision Church and president of Vision 2 Hear Ministries.

Jesus Says “I Am”

It’s not uncommon for us as humans to see and feel our own sinfulness and frailty. But God loves us even in our weakness and Jesus is sufficient for our every inadequacy. Every time we are confronted by what we are not, may we hear Jesus say “But I Am”!

5 Reminders If You Are Gathering Virtually

Some churches, like ours, are not meeting again this weekend because of the virus. Here are a few reminders to encourage The Church regardless of how we are meeting.

  1. You are the church wherever you are. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.””‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:20‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬
  2. God is still with you where you are. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take up the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me.”Psalms‬ ‭139:7-10‬ ‭NASB2020
  3. God is still in control. ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬
  4. God is still building His Kingdom. “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.””‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:21‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬
  5. The Church will always prevail. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:18‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

Take a few moments this weekend and simply worship the God who is bigger than everything that is going around us. Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth with those in your home. Worship Him knowing that no matter what comes against His Church and His people; those who follow Him will always overcome in the end. “For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:4‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬