Communion

It’s still difficult for me to fathom that only one person on one specific day of each year could enter God’s presence. Because of a lack of a true sacrifice for the sins of mankind, though, this reality was true for the Jewish people during biblical times. I’m so grateful, to say the least, that Jesus came and redeemed our relationship with God.

 

Flesh:

Isaiah 53:5 says by his stripes we are made well. Jesus was beaten long before he ever took the cross. His body paid for our healing even before he took on our sins. Think about this: contained within Jesus’ body was the Spirit of God. He had a perfect connection with God within his body and he released that to us to have in our body. Jesus’ flesh contained all that our flesh is meant to be and by his wounds he released that reality to us. The unleavened bread signifies this.

 

Blood:

From the moment that Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, something had to lose its life. However, God loved man so much that he couldn’t imagine losing his relationship with man for eternity. So God showed man grace by taking an animal as a sacrifice and covering Adam and Eve with this sacrifice. Jesus, though, became the perfect sacrifice for all mankind. His death was a permanent provision for the sins of the world. No longer would each sin require a sacrifice since the perfect sacrifice has been made. By the blood shed by Jesus, our souls have been delivered. The fruit of the vine signifies this.

 

Spirit:

Jesus gave to his followers the meal of communion to remember the sacrifice he had paid for them, but communion is not just a memorial service of a dead man. Jesus rose from the grave. Afterwards, he poured out one last thing: his Spirit. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave now lives within the hearts of believers and transforms our hearts so that we may be all he created us to be.

Jesus tells his disciples that he will not partake in this meal again without you in heaven with him! Wow! How awesome of a thought that is! Just as baptism signifies our salvation and reminds us of that day, communion becomes an ongoing reminder of our eternal residence. Nothing can change the fact that Jesus is waiting in heaven for you at this very moment! Communion is a declaration of our salvation (healing, deliverance, rescuing). We are communing with God and releasing heaven within our bodies.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

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Water Baptism

Water Baptism

At the age of 8, I was baptized. As I reflect on that night, I remember nearly everyone in that small country church coming to congratulate me. Even at 8 years old, I was aware enough to know that I did not understand what was actually supposed to be taking place. There was a disconnect between my theology of baptism and my understanding of Jesus which left me with a works-based identity towards salvation. It has always been my motivation in ministry to ensure that this misunderstanding does not happen in the lives of those I know.

Origin:
By the time the New Testament begins, baptism is a regular practice among the Jewish culture. Gentiles (non-Jews) who decided to convert to Judaism would be completely submerged under water to signify that they were completely cleansing their life from following other gods.

John’s Baptism:
Then, John the Baptist begins teaching Jews that they should be baptized too. John’s perspective is that the people must stop sinning and they should use the act of baptism to symbolize to God that they will cleanse their life from sin. Unfortunately, John still only understood the old covenant and therefore was focused on an attempt of behavior modification without having the capability to release transformational power.

Jesus’ Baptism:
Jesus comes to John to be baptized and identify with sinners for the first time. John saw no reason for Jesus, who was without sin, to be baptized, but Jesus instructed John that this must be done. John has identified baptism with repentance according to the law, while Jesus gets baptized to demonstrate the completion of the law. John (representing the law) buries Jesus (in baptism), but Jesus raises from out of the water (grave) and leaves all that he is representing without sin. In this moment, baptism becomes a prophetic act for Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
The significance for water baptism today is that we foremost identify ourselves with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. We also experience in our lives open heavens, the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit, and a right standing with Father. No longer do we have to do anything to please the Father. He is pleased simply by our relationship.
If you haven’t made the decision to be baptized by emersion in water as a believer, I highly encourage you to do so. Water baptism gives us a moment in our lives that we can always reflect back to and know that our salvation cannot be taken away from us no matter what occurs in our lives. From that understanding, we can constantly be moving forward in our lives without a fear of falling backwards and perform the works we were created to do with an empowerment and joy.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Fasting

I remember the first time I read a passage like Mark 2:18 and thought my Bible had a misprint in it. As I was a fairly new believer who quickly surrendered my life to ministry, I hadn’t gathered a full understanding of my theology prior to entering seminary. I was a foodie and had only ever witnessed in churches gatherings called “potlucks” where it seemed as everyone in the church brought their prized dish to share. It appeared as though the passage should have read “feasting.”

False Fasts:
Much to my surprise, fasting actually is a word and it really is something the Bible teaches. So I continued my search for the understanding of this term. Why would I want to give up food? I’m a foodie!
That’s when I found out that it wasn’t much for me to worry about. This term described the latest and greatest Christian diets, which were often advertised on social media. Whew! I wouldn’t need that for a few more years, or so I thought.

True Fasts:
Then, I discovered the true meaning of fasting. Leviticus 16:20 introduces the concept of fasting, but does not use the word fast so that we would not limit the definition to the absence of something (i.e. work, food, etc.). The word fast entails a quickening (Judges 4:21) and enduring (Deuteronomy 11:22) boost to our intimacy with God. As we lay aside the provisions to focus on the Provider, we turn to God more quickly and more often, no matter what we are encountering in life.

Fast Facts:
Here are some fast facts [haha I’m punny] to get you started:
-Fasting helps us to turn to our conversations with God more quickly and steadily.
-Fasting does entail a sacrifice of time, food, etc. to give more of ourselves to God.
-Fasting is to be done in times where we need to draw close to God.
-Fasting is to be done privately (You may tell your spouse or pastors for prayer).
A few weeks ago, I shared from Luke 10 all that Jesus taught was a part of normal Christian life. In Mark 9, Jesus teaches his followers that if their life isn’t all that it was created to be as a Christian, then we need to gain intimacy with God. Jesus taught that fasting can assist us in this process.
If you feel that God has called you to give something up to spend more time with him, please message us so that we may be praying for you and can answer any questions you may have.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Salvation?

In our most recent blog series, we are discussing terms that are frequently used in church, but rarely examined for their meaning. We freely toss around this vocabulary as though we all had to hand copy the definitions from a mysterious “Church Terminology 101” book before we could be allowed to integrate ourselves into church society. We must understand these terms before they can be relevant to our church life and life outside the four walls.

Salvation:
The term salvation, simply put, refers to the initial moment we are introduced to a relationship with Jesus. Here’s what we know about the parameters of salvation: 1. God is pure, holy, and is eternally enthroned in heaven. 2. Man is separated from an eternal relationship with God by sin (failure to measure up to God’s goodness). 3. God loves man anyway. 4. He loves man so much that he sent his son Jesus who died on a cross to take on our sins. 5. All it takes on our part is a faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for this relationship to be restored for eternity.

What This Changes:
At the moment of salvation, we accept Christ as Savior, receive him as Lord, and repent. By accepting Jesus as our savior we acknowledge that our works could by no means earn a way for us to enter heaven. We turn from trusting ourselves and place all of our hope in Jesus’ work on the cross. To receive Jesus as Lord essentially means to allow him to lead us in our lives. We no longer make decisions based on the survival of our flesh, but on what brings him glory. (We turn our minds away from survival mode and are allowed to fulfill all we were created to be.) Finally, repentance means that we fully turn to Jesus. Sin attempts to distract us and draw us away from God’s presence even after we begin a relationship with him. As we grow in our relationship, God reveals to us more and more about the things in our lives that are distractions from him. These things we must lay aside.

Sanctification:
Repentance perfectly transitions into sanctification, the process of our continued relationship with Jesus after that moment of introduction. God never intended just to be introduced to you, but to live in an eternal relationship with you. Jesus called this process of growing more in this relationship “discipleship.” To assist us in our growing process, I urge you to read the Bible, pray, worship, join a local church, and witness. These all assist us in our growth.
Jesus said, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV).”
As believers we’ve been given a responsibility by Jesus to assist others in growing their relationship with Jesus. We cannot be all we were created to be without creating disciples who create disciples who create disciples….

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Street Cred

In the last two weeks, we have discussed how to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to being a Christian. This week’s blog addresses what it looks like when walking and talking hits the streets. Afterall, we can be the perfect Christian every day when we are alone, but life is all about our relationships with others.

He Can Use Anyone:
Prior to Luke 10, the disciple John questions Jesus as to if these people who have not been following him are allowed to cast out demons in his name. Jesus responds that he who is not against them is for them. He stresses the importance of his followers understanding that expanding his kingdom is a multiplication process. Jesus just needs those who are willing to share what he has done for them, regardless of how imperfect they may be.

You Should Stay:
In this chapter, Jesus sends out 72 disciples to go into the cities he is about to visit. Jesus again challenges his followers to trust him to provide for them physically and take nothing along their journey. He urges them not to skip any houses and tells them that if they are supposed to stay in that house they will know because his peace will rest there. Jesus says humbly receive what is given to you by the house you stay at; do not be ashamed to take what is given to you.

You Must Leave:
Then, Jesus tells the disciples that they should not stay in a house if there is spiritual conflict there. If the people are unteachable and unwilling to invest in God’s messengers, the disciples were instructed to move on to the next house. We cannot become discouraged when not everyone we encounter is ready to hear what God is doing in our lives.
We have a duty to share with everyone we encounter the love of God and how a relationship with Jesus has affected our life. Jesus told the disciples to share one message with those who experienced a miracle: “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” God desires to use your hands to tangibly touch the lives of others for his name’s sake. He wants you to share his good news with anyone who is willing to listen.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Walk the Walk

In last week’s blog we discussed how to talk the talk, but everyone knows that is irrelevant if we don’t walk the walk as well. When it comes to being a Christian, Jesus made it very clear that our lives are to be expressions of love, honor, and forgiveness. How we see this develop in our lives is often times in reverse order of that, though.

Forgive:
Forgiveness means to count any debt as a loss. Forgiveness does not seek any restitution for wrongs committed. I’ve often heard people say, “Well I’m not going to forgive you until…” In Matthew 18, Jesus addresses how we should act when we’ve been hurt by a brother. He doesn’t even speak about the sin or give instruction to the person who committed the act. Jesus paid for all sin on the cross. Ultimately, even when a brother sins against us, that sin has been paid for and we must trust the Holy Spirit to develop them to a point where they experience the freedom they have been given.

Honor:
Honor is lifting someone up to the level they should be at, even when they’re not there. Honor does everything to not only seek to give forgiveness (mercy) to someone who has messed up, but to give them the grace (unmerited favor) to empower them to do what they should have been doing all along. Honor doesn’t ignore the problem, but it restores the individual.

Love:
We all know what love is. It’s everywhere you look. You cannot get away from love. Television, movies, social media, eHarmony, Christian mingle…. our society’s definition of love is everywhere. But overexposed sensuality isn’t exactly how the Bible describes love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Wait… that’s what love is? Love is the essence of seeing perfection in imperfect people.
In order to truly love, we must first forgive ourselves. Then, we must learn to walk releasing the freedom we’ve been given.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Talk the Talk

Two of my favorite rhymes growing up were “Humpty Dumpty” and “Ring around the Rosey.” Humpty’s story is a sad one. His life was so broken and messed up that nothing could be done to fix it. Then, I found out the Rosey song is actually a song that was used to teach children how to survive the Black Plague. I was astounded when I found this out. Why would we be taught something so culturally irrelevant? And as for Humpty, the story that we instill in our children is the farthest reality from the truth of what the Bible teaches. Jesus said no matter how broken our lives become, we can always be whole within him. I believe it’s time we start to change our stories. We need to start telling stories that are both truthful and culturally relevant to our lives and the lives of those around us. It is time for us to learn how to talk the talk.

Wise Speech:
In the book of Proverbs we have a great wordplay comparison between wisdom and foolishness. Proverbs 18 says that a fool’s words are about as useful as creating a path for another river to pour into an already flooded field. They are useless. But the words of a wise person are timely and well thought out. They speak to the current situation and bring forth life. The final few verses in chapter eighteen surmise that either way we choose to use our words, they will produce results.

Powerful Words:
The truth is our words are more than just vibrations that come from vocal chords in a physical body. With his words, God created the universe and his words are still expanding and creating today. As we are created in his image, our words do the same thing. They never dissipate from the spiritual atmosphere. Because our words are spirit they contain power. With our words we release in the spiritual realm the authority to bring about the spoken result. With our words, we prophesy our destiny.

Speak the Results:
Isn’t that a mind-boggling thought? The Bible actually teaches that we can choose how we will live the rest of our lives by the very words that we speak. When we speak negatively, it reveals that our hearts are full of bondage and we attract others around us who allow that culture to thrive. However, when our words are positive and uplifting, they are full of life and our mouth releases that reality.
I encourage you today to think wisely about the words you speak.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18:21 MSG)


Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Spirit: Silent or Silenced

Growing up, I was raised in a church that was really focused on the rules. At the age of 21, I began a real relationship with Jesus while in a new church. This new church believed that the Spirit doesn’t move in the same way today in which he did as recorded in the book of Acts. They held the theological position that we no longer needed to hear from God since we had heard from him and what was heard was now completely recorded in the Bible.

 

Biblically:

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote one of the most crucial chapters in the Bible about living life in the Spirit. Paul encouraged the church to be led by the Spirit over the flesh. He instructed them that being led by the Spirit brings life and peace while being controlled by the survival of our flesh produces death. Paul says to reflect on the power that comes from the Holy Spirit living inside the heart of man. He concludes that the gifts of the Spirit are beneficial to our growth in becoming more like Christ and our purpose in reconciling others in their relationship to God.

 

Logically:

Philosophically, I submit to you that the follow statement is true if the two points afterward are valid: If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the Holy Spirit must be as well. 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both one God. 2. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Therefore, Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

Historically:

Historically, most people believe that the Holy Spirit was silent from the book of Acts until Azusa Street in 1906. These people assert that once the Bible was finished there was no need to hear from the Holy Spirit or experience the gifts. However, even after the gifts of the Spirit were ruled as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, there are several recorded instances of individuals, churches, and denominations who experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although the world attempted to hide the Holy Spirit, he could not be silenced. Then in 1906, in the “Land of the Free” on Azusa Street, Los Angeles, CA, the world could no longer keep the Spirit hidden.

 

Where We Stand:

The entire Bible is a story of God’s love for his prized creation, humanity. From beginning to the end the Bible teaches us that God is constantly pursuing a relationship with each and every individual even when we are running from him or fighting against him. How could we ever believe the lie that this God, who died to live within us, would turn his back on humanity and silence himself once that relationship was finally established? The Holy Spirit living inside of man is the closest we’ll ever experience on earth to living with God in heaven. The God who is constantly pursuing you, would not abandon this. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If you have never been baptized by the Holy Spirit, I encourage you today to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom he needs to move in your life. We can contain God within our hearts just as easily as we can within the four walls of the church. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to well up inside of you and overflow into all areas of your life, not just to restore you but to restore those around you to an unhindered relationship to God as well.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

Not Your Daddy

They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8:19 ESV)

The biggest issue in the modern church is not idol god worship; it’s idle God worship. We all have a different perspective on what it means to be a father. Often times, we believe early on that everyone’s dad is like our dad. However, that simply isn’t true. Jesus’ primary mission while on earth was to reveal who is God the Father.

 

Idol Father:

Idol god worship refers to those who worship a false “god” that can do nothing as though it can do everything. Idols get their power by humans giving their authority to demons. The enemy’s goal in idol god worship is to keep you active and give you power outside of the church.

 

Idle Father:

Idle God worship refers to those who worship the true God who can do everything as though he can do nothing. Idle God worship occurs when humans follow the rules of man above the Law and love of God. The enemy’s goal in idle God worship is to keep you inactive, ineffective, unfruitful, and powerless within the church.

 

God the Father:

The way we worship the one true God who can do everything as though he can do everything is by recognizing who that God really is. Acknowledging the attributes and characteristics of God the Father will help us to see who he is in relation to us. God’s attributes are his permanent intrinsic qualities. God is spirit, personal, characterized by life, infinite, and constant (to name a few). God’s character develops based on the revelation of himself to humanity. Morally, God is holy, righteous, and pure. His integrity is genuine and faithful. His love is benevolent, graceful, merciful, and persistent. He is merciful because he doesn’t give us what we deserve, but is graceful because he gives us what we don’t deserve.

 

Who is Your Father?

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” From the moment we accept Jesus as Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit within our hearts. The Spirit is who empowers us to have a right understanding and relationship with God the Father.

Who is your Father? If you haven’t had a full relationship with God the Father, turn to Jesus today and allow the Holy Spirit to empower you in this area.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

There’s More to the Name

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).”

Praying in Jesus name means so much more than a hashtag at the end of our prayers. Jesus is much more than a closing thought in our ‘Dear Santa’ letter to God. In order to truly receive what Jesus promises in these verses, we must understand what he means by praying in his name.

 

Character:

First, praying in Jesus’ name means to pray within his character. When we approach a person (Father God) in the name of someone else (Jesus), we approach the person within the character of the one whose name is being used. To pray in Jesus’ name means first and foremost to pray with his nature, desires, and purpose. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying as a child of God.

 

Authority:

Second, we must speak from the authority given to Jesus. Kenneth Hagin once said, “The value of authority comes from the force behind it.” When a police officer tells someone to stop in the name of the law, the individual does not stop because of the man or his vocal range but because of the authority that is backing his statement. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying with blessing of God.

 

Representative:

Third, we pray as a representative of Jesus. As a representative of Jesus, it is pivotal that we honor the one we represent. Jesus surrendered his will to that of the Father and allowed the Spirit to guide him over the flesh he was living in. (See last week’s blog for more thought on this.) Praying in Jesus’ name means to be a tangible example of Jesus’ life.

 

The Prayer:

Praying in Jesus’ name means praying to God as his child would. It means owning what we have been given and representing the one we are speaking in the name of, who is Jesus. Praying in Jesus name has nothing to do with those three words, but everything to do with a relationship to the one who has that name. There is so much power in the name of Jesus, but it is worthless to us if we do not know the one behind the name.

I encourage you this week as you pray to make the decision to pray within the character of Jesus, under the authority of Jesus, and as a representative of Jesus. It’s when we ask God from this position that there would be no reason for our prayers to be denied. Praying in Jesus’ name opens you up to receive anything you ask for in prayer.

 

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro