“Lessons from Blanchard Springs”

Blanchard Springs River

Psalm 42:1-2a, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;”

         This past weekend our family was blessed to get the opportunity to take off on a weekend excursion to Mountain View, Arkansas. I love Mt. View for so many reasons, but it is such a beautiful place nestled inside the Natural state. The picture above is part of the natural springs that flow out of Blanchard Springs Caverns which eventually make their way into the White River. My son, brother-in-law, and myself had a great time as we hiked through this area to fish in different parts of the springs. We really did not catch anything, but God gave us some awesome views of His creation along the way.

         As I reflected back on these pictures and thought about our adventure through this water it reminded me of Psalm 42, and especially the first two verses. The Lord put some things on my heart as I reflected on Psalm 42 and my experience in that water this past weekend.

         First of all, it was a reminder of man’s condition. Man is in constant need of God. As sinners we are in need of Him as a Savior. However, even though I am saved I am in constant need of Him every day. Every single day I am battered by the people, circumstances, and things of this world. It’s not easy being a Christian and walking a walk that brings glory to God in this world we live in. I suspect it never has been, and I don’t see it getting any easier. However, we must realize our condition which is that we are in constant need of God.

         Second, it was a reminder that we have a thirst. That thirst is just like what the Psalmist penned in Psalm 42. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You”. That constant need for God creates a thirstiness for God. My soul longs to know God. My soul longs to be more like Him, and less like myself. My soul wants to know Him more every single day of my life. The closer I get to God, and the more I know Him makes me realize how much more I want Him every day.

         Third, it was a reminder that He is the Satisfier.  A deer pants for water because a deer becomes thirsty from his need to be hydrated. I am in constant need of God; therefore I my soul is thirsty for God – for the living God. I can only be satisfied with the One True living God. Nothing or no one else will suffice. There is nothing or no one that can meet that need. It’s like trying to quench your thirst with a Coke. A Coke may taste good, but it will not do what  good ole fashion water will do. Coke will leave you thirsty, but water will hydrate and quench your thirst. Other things and people may seem adequate, but only God can really satisfy the deep longing thirstiness of man.

 

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

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“The Difference A Bridge Makes”

385 Bridge

Romans 6:23, “ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

             I took the picture you see above from inside my car. The picture was taken one morning this week on my way to work. Some of you may recognize this bridge while others may say, “I have no idea what bridge that is.”. This is the bridge or overpass where Interstate 385 crosses Highway 57 through Piperton, TN. For most people in this area it is still hard to believe this bridge exists. It seems like every part of Interstate 385 around this area of the Mid South has been complete, but for years there was a gap remaining while this part of 385 was being completed. Prior to this bridge it was approximately a 30 minute or greater drive from the south side of Fayette County over to the north side of the county. Since this bridge is complete one can travel the same distance in about 10 minutes. To many this is just another bridge, but to those who live close this bridge is a BIG deal!

             Scripture in Romans 6:23 describes another bridge with far more importance than the one pictured above. This particular verse describes a bridge that covered an eternal barrier between God and man. “For the wages of sin is death” describes the wide and deep gulf that existed between God and us ( His creation ) due to the sin of Adam. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. “ Romans 5:12. “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   describes the great sacrifice that God made for all creation in sending His Son Jesus to the cross and paying a debt we could not pay ourselves. With that said, I would like to point out a few important truths about the gap that Jesus bridged for us.

             First of all it is God-made. Think about how important that is. The bridge in the picture is a man-made bridge. Yes, it is very strong and very stable, but it can be destroyed. It can be destroyed by a storm, a bad wreck, or even simple erosion over time will wear and weaken that bridge. Jesus is the bridge described in Romans 6:23. He is the God-made bridge and therefore this is an eternal bridge that can never be destroyed.

             Second, it is a One-Way bridge. This bridge heads in only one direction, and that direction is to Jehovah God Himself. The 385 bridge over Highway 57 has four lanes on it. Two of those lanes head east, and two of those lanes head west. You can go in both directions. When an individual gives their life to Christ and crosses the bridge of Jesus that person can never come back over the bridge. If you take Jesus ( the bridge ) you will cross forever more. That individual becomes sealed as a child of God and there’s no going back to being “lost” again.

             Third, it is the ONLY bridge. There are thousands of bridges like the one pictured above crossing over Highway 57. Most of them look exactly alike too. However, the bridge described in Romans 6:23 is unique. There is only one like it and His name is Jesus – He is that bridge. There is only one God the Father. There is only one God the Holy Spirit. All three in One. There is no other bridge to cross for which man can receive the gift of eternal life.

             There is something else I notice about that bridge too. Taking that bridge at 385 and 57 is the most convenient way for me to go to work each day. However, there are other ways I could choose to go to work. With that said, I do have a choice to make as to whether I am going to take that bridge or not. God will not force anyone to take the bridge described in Romans 6:23. However, you must know there is NO other bridge to a relationship with God than the bridge that Jesus is for us. So each person in life has a choice to make. Will you follow your own path and therefore receive the wages of your sin? Or, will you cross the bridge at Calvary and receive the gift of eternal life that ONLY comes through Jesus Christ our Lord?

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“The Fruit of Dependence”

Vine and Branches

John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. “

Today, my wife Rachel took our youngest daughter to her doctor to get her next set of vaccinations that babies have to get as they grow. The shots her doctor gave her are to protect her from all sorts of diseases that could potentially harm her. This got me to thinking more about just how important my wife and I are in the life of each of our children. Ultimately God is the provider, sustainer and protector of our children; however, He has put Rachel and I in their lives as parents for the earthly provision and protection of them. In other words, with God’s leading and help we are the tools that God uses in their lives to sustain them. Rachel and I ( our kids parents ) are very important to our kids, even if they don’t see it that way sometimes. LOL.

God is telling us the same basic principle in John 15:5. Jesus is saying that He is the vine, and we ( believers ) are the branches. This verse is all about our dependence on Jesus in our lives. God the Father is the gardener. He owns and has all the resources of the garden. Jesus ( the Son ) is the true vine. Jesus tells us that His followers are the branches.

Now look how important the relationship is between the vine and the branches. He says that any branch that abides in Him ( the true vine ) will bare a lot of fruit. This will be good fruit such as; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Good works for the Kingdom of Heaven will flow out of the branches who are fruit producers. The key to producing this good fruit is given. The branch must abide in the vine. If the branch abides in the vine, the branch will produce fruit. If the branch does not abide in the vine it will not produce fruit.

If you were to look in John 15:1-4 you will see what God the Father does to the branches. Keep in mind He is the Gardener. The Bible says that God the Father will cut off the branches that are not producing any fruit. These branches are not truly part of the true vine and will be cut down because they don’t abide in the vine ( Jesus ). Then, the branches that produce fruit will be pruned by the Gardener ( God ) so that they can produce more fruit and grow even larger.

That brings us to the last part of verse 5. This is where we see the exclamation mark on our dependence for God. Jesus says these words, “for without me ye can do nothing”. That is it! That is a BIG DEAL. Without Jesus we can do nothing worth doing. We can say nothing worth saying. We are void of anything worth anything. Without Jesus we can do nothing. Solomon put it best in Ecclesiastes when he shared that he could feed the poor, build houses, have all the servants and maidservants in the world. Solomon said he could have all the riches and wealth of the world, BUT without God it was all “vanity, and vexation of spirit”. In other words, it is meaningless.

This is a sober reminder of the desperate need that man has for God in his life. Man may think that he is doing well, but without Christ in his life he has a false sense of security. A person may think they have everything in this world they need to survive; money, retirement, love, house, car, good health and so on, but one day all those things will come to an end. Man will kneel before Almighty God and profess Him as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The only thing that will matter on that day will be whether you “abided in him” or not. Who are you dependant on today – self, others, things? Real security and peace comes when I no longer depend on myself, but upon what Jesus did for each person on the cross at Calvary over 2000 years ago. My dependence is upon Jesus Christ.

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan