“Thankful in Everything”

Give Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. “

              This week has got to be one of my favorite weeks of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us. For most of us, it is a time that we get to spend with family. It is a time where we sit around feasting on wonderfully cooked food and enjoy one another’s company. It is a time for watching football and going hunting. It is a wonderful time!

For many there will even be a time of going around the table and sharing with one another what each person is so thankful for. Folks will point out one another with gracious words of whom they are most thankful for. Yes, it will be a joyful time for a lot of families.

I would like to challenge you to think about Paul’s words here in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 for just a brief moment. Paul had just previously been talking with them about attitudes, feelings and actions towards other believers, but now he turns his attention in verse 16 to their attitudes and actions towards God Himself. He says three vital things to think about as we approach this week.

First, we are to rejoice always. This is vital for Christians. God is telling us to rejoice always. If we were to merely read this verse without any context whatsoever we make attribute this word rejoice as something to be merely emotional. In other words we might look at this to simply be happy in whatever state we find ourselves. However, that is not what God is saying to us here. He is pointing out to us that the basis for our joy is God’s activity and work in and among our lives. It is that fact that we are able to rejoice even when things are tougher than you ever thought possible. The knowledge that God is actively working among you, in you, through you, and for you through ALL circumstances is enough for the Christian to rejoice about.

Second, we are to pray without ceasing. This simply means we are to be in prayer mode as we walk throughout our daily walk. In other words, Paul is telling us to pray constantly, and to persevere in and through prayer. Prayer is an awesome privilege and tool that the Christian has in his/her life with Jesus. Why not use it? It is important to note that rejoicing and praying go hand-in-hand. The way to rejoice more is to pray more. God uses these in our lives as they work together. The more we pray, the more our lives will be lined up with God’s perfect will.

Third, give thanks in everything. If we pray without ceasing we will rejoice more. As we pray without ceasing we will find ourselves in a state of more contentment. We will not find ourselves in so much need as we think that we are in many times. Paul is telling us that we should be thankful in every condition we are in. It could be the condition of adversity or the condition of luxury. Either way, we are able to give thanks to our mighty Creator. No matter what state we find ourselves, whether in need or having plenty, we ( Christians ) have been reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, and that is always plenty to be thankful for!

So let me say that there are so many wonderful people and things I am thankful for in my life. I have a wonderful wife, two amazing kids, and 1 on the way any day. My mom and dad are the best parents a kid could ever hope for. I have a sister whom I love dearly and feel closer to her now than ever in my life. My church family is so wonderful, and they are constantly a blessing to my whole family. It would be easy for me to go on-and-on about the people, and even the things in my life that God has richly blessed me with. However, there is something that I am thankful for above all in my life. That is the gift of salvation. I have been reconciled to God through my Savior Jesus Christ. He is the only way to be reconciled, and He has done that in my life. Nothing can snatch me out of His grasp. Nothing can take away what I have in Him. There is nothing so great and so wonderful as to know Jesus Christ personally as Lord of your life.

In closing, it is this reconciliation with God through His Son Jesus that I am able to be thankful for anything. Most people this Thanksgiving will reflect on their thankfulness for all of the good in their lives ( people, places, and things ). The daily walk of the child of God should be to rejoice always, pray constantly, and be thankful in EVERYTHING.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

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“Trials + Troubles = Need for Peace”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace - Empty Tomb

             Peace is one of the greatest things a person could have this on earth. Think about all the ways a person could be affected if they did not have peace. Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, despair, discouragement, and so on it goes for the person without real genuine peace in their lives.  The sad reality is that so many people walking this earth today are walking around without real peace in their lives. Even those of us who know God personally as Savior and Lord forget many times about the real genuine peace we have through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus was telling His disciples about the Holy Spirit He promised to send to them after He was not on this earth any more. ( Post Calvary’s Cross ). He was sharing with them that they would not be like orphans, but that He would leave them the great Comforter ( the Holy Spirit). As Jesus moved further in His conversation with the disciples He shared with them about the peace He would leave with each of them.

It is real.  He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”. This word peace here was usually used in Jewish salutations which was given through greetings or farewells. However, Jesus gives a deeper sense of the word here when He says the word, “peace”. Peace here literally means to be reconciled with God, and to be purchased with His death. In other words, we have the greatest sense of peace that is ever possible when we realize that we have been made right with God, and we are an heir of Him because of our relationship with Him.

It is given from Jesus. This is important to know because it is given from Jesus, and not from the world, not from anyone else in the world, and not from any thing. Jesus said, “my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.” The world offers us peace through material things, possessions, fitness & health, relationships, careers, and even spirituality. However, there is only One who can offer real genuine peace that we just talked about. His name is Jesus! The peace that the world offers is very temporal. It’s here one day and gone the next. It is dependent on something, or possibly even someone. This wordly peace is very transient, and does not last long. Simply put, this false sense of peace is dependent on how things are going in your life at the present time. The peace Jesus gives is not like that. It is constant, and rock solid. The way He gives this to His children is not like the world. Jesus gives abundantly, freely, and cheerfully. He is for His children and wants us to experience peace. Therefore, He does not hold back His peace.

It is life-changing. Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.”. He was telling the disciples that they have no reason to be troubled and afraid when He has departed from them and left this earth. He tells them that He leaves them with the Great Comforter ( the Holy Spirit ) and He gives them peace. We know that the Christian-life does not come without trouble and trials. Jesus told us to expect those things in John 16:33. However, in that same verse, and in our verse today he tells us, “Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.”. He tells us this because He knows that He has given the peace that we need to get through the trials we face, and the dangers that we may become exposed to. It is life-altering peace because through Christ we have ultimate victory, even if we face daily defeat.

There are two requirements to this peace that Jesus gives. First, you must be His. One must have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus. Second, you must be in fellowship with Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. You see, it is possible for a person to have a relationship with Jesus, but not to be in fellowship with Him. It is necessary to be walking in active fellowship with Christ to experience this type of genuine peace.

How would you describe you relationship with Jesus today? Is it one that is filled with the peace that Jesus describes here? Maybe today you would say that you yearn for that type of peace. The challenge for you today is to examine your life. Are there any changes you need to make? Are there any areas you need to repent? Ask God to search you. Then, simply obey what He shows you. God is for you, and wants you to experience His wonderful peace today.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“Speak of the devil”

2 Corinthians 4:3-5 “ And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled[a]to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this [b]world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving [c]so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants[d]for Jesus’ sake”

2 Corinthians 11:14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. “

wolf sheep clothing

Do you ever get discouraged as you look at the newspaper, headlines on the internet, or watching events unfold on the television? Politics are no exception to this either, because for many they are the catalyst to depressing thoughts about the state our world is in today. Have you ever given thought to why things are the way they are today? Have you thought about why crime statistics are the way they are? What about the epidemic of divorce, abortion, homosexuality, theft, lies and so on…? None of these things are pleasant to think about, but the big question is, “Why is the world like this?”. There is no short answer to this question, except to simply say it all started with the fall of man in the garden of Eden with Adam’s sin. However, I would like to give you some quick things to think about today as you read this article.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians is writing about his ministry and the ministry of the other apostles. He is sharing with the people a very real warning about the enemy of God. Yes, that enemy is Satan. Satan has been in opposition of God since he was cast away from the Lord. He wants to do every thing he can to destroy lives, relationships, and the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please go with me to these verses to notice three important facts about our enemy that we must keep in mind.

First of all, Satan is called the god of this world.  This fact becomes more evident every day as we look at the wickedness in the world around us. 1 John 5:19 tells us that Satan is the one in control of this evil world. In other words, he is the master-mind behind all of the evil we see day by day taking place. He started his work in the garden of Eden and he continues his work today in our present world. In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul describes the god of this world as the prince of the power of the air. He ( Satan ) is the one the works in the children of the disobedient. This simply means he is reigning and ruling in the lives of those who do not know Jesus Christ personally. He is the god of this world. We know that Christ has ultimately taken care of sin and death on the cross, but until He comes again we are still living in this flawed sinful world.

Second, he has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Satan can never snatch a child of God out of the hands of God. Instead, he works day and night trying to keep lost people lost. He works to put a veil, a covering, a darkening over the minds of unbelievers to try his best to keep them from hearing and understanding the Gospel’s message. His great plan is to keep the gospel away from unbelievers. If he is unable to do that he wants to keep unbelievers away from the gospel. Have you ever tried to share the gospel with someone, and thought they would never understand? There’s a good reason it is hard for them to understand. We have an enemy working against the church sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers. That should NEVER stop us from sharing. In fact, it should inspire us to share even more. We see in verse 6 of chapter 4 that God’s desire is to shine the light of the gospel into the hearts of men, women, boys and girls. It is our duty as children of God to be the hands and feet of Jesus and share. Just because Satan puts the veil over the unbelievers mind does not mean God won’t take the veil off!

Third, he is the master of masks. We see this in 2 Corinthians 11:14. What is a mask? A mask is something a person puts on to look like something he is not. Paul describes Satan in this verse as the master counterfeiter. He describes him as the, “angel of light”. He carries out his schemes of being a counterfeit in many different ways. I believe two of his greatest weapons are deception and discouragement. Sure, he has many more darts that he throws at us each day, but I think these are two of his primary weapons he likes to deploy. He’s deceptive by telling his lies and making them look like the truth. Satan also likes the weapon of discouragement. If he can discourage you then he can begin to use his other weapons on you such as; hatred, malice, envy, strife, despair, sickness and sensuality. Remember, Satan will not come to you with a pitch-fork, horns on his head, and wearing black and red. He will come looking like an angel of light who wants to direct you in ways that look good, but their end is destruction. He is deceptive. He is a counterfeit – looking like something he is not.

Remember, these are three things to keep in mind about Satan’s abilities on this earth. Paul shared these so that we could be prepared, on guard, and fight the good fight against Satan’s evil schemes. The good news is that Jesus won the ultimate victory over sin and Satan when He ( Jesus ) went to the cross at Calvary over 2000 years ago. If you are an unbeliever that is blind to the truth, the Light of Jesus Christ can unveil the darkness. If you are a child of God already remember that you are doing well as you walk closely with Him each day. Stay close to Jesus so you can resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ( James 4:7 ).

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“God, Genuine Love & Generosity”

Acts 4:32-35, “32 And the [a]congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them [b]claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the [c]proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

             Last night, November 10, 2013 was a wonderful night at church for many reasons. However, there was one part of the night that will forever be a an indelible memory for my family. Our church family got together and through a wonderful baby-shower for our third baby “Kendall” who will be here within the next couple of weeks.  Words cannot describe the blessing that our family received last night as we were showered with gifts of all sorts, genuine love, and the support of our faith family. It was absolutely a blessing from the Lord.

Rachel - Baby ShowerMy darling wife – Rachel

             As I thought about last night I could not help but think about these verses in Acts chapter 4. Yes, the circumstances are different. Last night people were giving to our family at a baby shower. Here in Acts chapter 4 the church was distributing daily essential needs as each person had need. However, there are some things that our church family did that reminded me of this church family in Acts 4.

             First of all, the believers were of one heart. These believers were knitted together by their love for God, and the end result of this was experienced by them having one heart. In other words, Jesus was first in their lives and therefore they had the consciousness to understand and know what the needs of their fellow church members were.

             Second, they saw God as the owner of their resources. It was this heart and mindset that allowed them to go and sell whatever they had to give unto whomever had need. They claimed that anything they had was not their own. Why? They saw their possessions as possessions that were owned by God. God had just allowed them to be managers of those resources for a period of time.

             Third, they were able to be used by God. These verses tell us that there was NO ONE who went needy at all. Why? This was because the people were obedient to the moving of God in their lives. They did not hold on to their possessions with clutched fists, but instead allowed God to use them and their possessions as He saw fit. In turn, we see that this church was used by God.

             And fourth, they experienced God’s great power. The Bible says, “and abundant grace was upon them all.”. This abundant grace was not only for the apostles, but all the believers there. The words here abundant grace meant grace that had something really grand or great in it. The Lord poured out an abundance of grace on them. This grace gave power to them to do great and magnificent things for the Lord.

             Our church family met some great genuine needs that we have right now in our family. We have experienced that at other times within our church family, but last night we were direct recipients of that. I know we are surrounded by church family that loves us, and last night they surrounded us as believers who were of one heart to meet needs that we have. Last night church members took resources out of their own personal budgets and gave generously to us without hesitation. By doing this, they were being used by God to meet some personal needs we have had for our new baby coming soon. I do believe we see a great power in the testimony of the church when believers are together in one heart, and soul ( Acts 4:32 ) working together to provide for different parts of it’s own body. That my friend, is what I had the blessing to witness last night. Glory to God!

             To all of Morris Memorial Baptist Church – Thank you so very much! 

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“Mom, Steak’n Gravy, & The Ingredients of Life”

Steak N Gravy

Romans 8:28 And we know that [k]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

             Romans 8:28 is probably one of the most quoted verses from the Bible, even by those who have few verses memorized. It is a wonderful promise for the child of God, but let’s take a moment to really consider this verse.

Growing up I was privileged to be the son of an extremely good cook. Yes, that is my mother. Even to this day, her cooking is a true blessing. The blessing does not start the moment it hits my tongue, but rather the moment my dad opens the front door to their house and I smell the aroma of wonderfully prepared food hit my nasal passages. One of my favorite dishes that she cooks is “steak’n gravy”. It is awesome! As I think about her making this dish I think about the ingredients and the process by which it goes through. Each ingredient by itself is not that tasty at all. In fact, I’m not sure I would want to eat any of the ingredients by themselves at all. However, when she mixes those ingredients together, puts them in the oven, and cooks the “steak’n gravy” dish under extreme heat, something wonderful comes out 45 minutes later. It is a wonderful dish that anyone would love. It tastes good, and I believe it is good for you. At least if you stop when you’re supposed to. LOL.

Romans 8:28 is like God’s recipe for the life of the believer. First, we know that the wonderful promise of this verse is reserved for those who are His children. The verse says, “for those who love God”. This part of the verse is describing believers. Many times people think it means those who literally love God, or love God the most. “For those who love God” is simply a way Paul is describing those who are “in Christ”. His goodness is not based on how good we love Him, but rather His goodness is great because of who He is.

Second, we see God’s providence in the life of the believer. God’s providence is Him working all things out for our good. It’s important to note here that God is not working all things out for you ( the believer ) so that you will be rich, good looking, most popular, but rather that you would be more like Him in your walk through life. God may cause, or allow things and circumstances in your life to take place that may be uncomfortable or even messy. He allows or may even cause these things so that you will become more like Christ, and less like yourself. An example may be something like this. He may allow you to get a speeding ticket from the police officer so that you will slow down and be more safe on the road. In turn you are taking better care of yourself, protecting others, and certainly obeying the law now. In this case, He did not cause the ticket. You did! He allowed it.

Third, the Bible says, “And we know”. Why is this such a big deal? We have assurance in our God ( Jehovah ) and in our future. What a blessing these three words are for the child of God. Here, the word of God says this truth. I know, with absolute assurance, that no matter what comes my way, that my God ( Jehovah ) is working every single thing out to make me more like Him, and to prepare me for my future in Heaven with God Almighty.

It is through God’s providence that I know He has rule over every detail of my life. It is God that is working everything out for my good in the present time, and for my future in eternity with Him. It is a promise from God to His children based on Himself and not on the actions of His children.

The fact is we are going to experience so many different things in this life. Some will be good. Some will be not so good, and difficult to go through. In other words, some of the ingredients may taste good by themselves, like the steak. Others, may not taste so good by themselves, like the flour my mother uses in the gravy. However, when you put them altogether, and bake them through the fire something good comes out of the oven. Yes, physically speaking the “steak’n gravy” taste so wonderful. Spiritually speaking, God takes the good, the bad and the ugly and uses them in the believers life to make him/her more like Himself. After the believer is put through the oven of life’s testing he/she comes out stronger and better than they were before.

So, if you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, rest in this wonderful promise that is given to His children. It is a great testimony of how great God loves you right now!

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

 P.S. My mother’s steak’n gravy looks much better than the picture above.