“ENDURANCE – Just let it grow!”

ENDURANCE

James 1:3-4a, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, “ ( NLT ).

          I really like the way the New Living Translation puts this first part of verse 4 in the Bible. “So let it grow”. What a great concept that can be so hard to grasp. Let it grow! In the message at church yesterday, we talked about two major points of facing trials and being tested. First, we should have a joyful attitude about our trials. James said “count it all joy” concerning the trials we will encounter. Then, we learned that we should have an understanding mind about our trials. James said, “knowing that the testing of your faith…” which tells us that we should have an understanding of our trials. The proper understanding of our trials allows us to have a joyful attitude in the midst of trials and difficulties. Then, here in the first part of verse 4 he says, “So, let it grow”. Let what grow? Let your endurance grow through the testing of your faith. The key here is to “let go!” and “let it grow!”.  It reminds me a lot of an eagle mother and her young babies. The mother knows at what point the baby eagles should be ready to step out of the nest and fly. The mother will one day push the eagle out of the nest, then swoop down and catch the baby eagle and bring it back up the nest. She will repeat this until one day the baby spreads his wings and begins to fly on its own. You know what the mom has to do as she pushes the baby out of the nest? She has to “let it go” so that “it can grow”. Now, she may swoop down and eventually get the baby eagle and bring him back up, but before that can happen she has to take herself and totally let go of her baby. It seems like a dangerous thing because for a moment in time she has no control over that baby, but it is a necessary thing for the baby to grow. The same is true about us and our faith in God. It seems like a scary thing to take our hands off of our lives, and to have no control. God is telling us to do that so that He will have the control in our lives, and when He has control we will grow. For us to grow we have to let go. In letting go we are letting ourselves grow. In letting go, and iletting ourselves grow we are able to increase in spiritual maturity and endurance in our faith and walk with Christ. This is essential. So, what part of your life are you holding on to today? Is there a part of you that you are struggling with to turn over to God 100%? If so, I encourage you to not hold back from God, and just let it go! We need endurance in our lives and to get that we have to let endurance have its work within us. So today, when it comes to endurance take your hands off of your life and “let it grow”. Sincerely, Pastor Bryan

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“A Reminder for the Mission”

narrow way

Matthew 7:13-14, “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

This week there are going to be fifteen people from our church leaving Moscow, TN and heading to the Cherokee Indian Nation in Oklahoma. Mixed emotions have enveloped the team this past week as we near the day of our departure. One emotion we have experienced has been the sense of being anxious. We all agree that we want to do the very best job we can do, and we do not want to fail. The other big emotion we have experienced has been excitement. None of the people going ( to my knowledge ) have been to Tahlequah, OK, and none have been to this Indian reservation before. So there is excitement about the adventure before us.

Those emotions are pretty normal, and I think most would agree. I am comforted in the fact that, as a mission team, and individually, if we submit ourselves to the Lord, it will be Him doing the work through us, and not us working in our own strength. Praise Jesus!

I believe God’s word does a fantastic job in Matthew 7:13-14 reminding us why we are on mission to Oklahoma, and the necessity to be on mission even when we are back home in our day to day routine.

The Bible points out here that there are two paths we can go down. The first path is broad and wide. It’s the same path that leads to a life of loving sin, destruction, and eventually death. Many will go down this path because it’s the path of least resistance. In short, it’s just a whole lot easier of a path.

The second path is called the narrow way. This path is much harder because it’s narrow and not as easy to go through. A person will find resistance very often on this path. The person journeying through this path will be glad he/she followed this path, even through every bit of resistance and every obstacle because it leads to life. This path is not easy, but it’s the path that leads to the prize, and that prize is to experience the fullness of life in and through Jesus Christ and all He has to offer.

I heard someone say this week, “So, there’s a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven, says a lot about the anticipated traffic numbers going to each place.” (Source Unknown). I heard that and immediately thought about the Scripture above in Matthew 7:13-14. Hearing that also made me think about why it is so important to be on mission with God!

This week we are going to be ministering to a people we’ve never met, a people with different cultural backgrounds than ourselves, and people who are sinners just like us. We will go and share with them the GOOD NEWS – The Gospel! It brings anxiousness and excitement all at the same time. You know, we should experience this same enthusiasm whether headed to Oklahoma, overseas, or right here in our backyard.

My prayer is that our ministry this week will be fruitful, that lost people will get saved, that carnal saints will repent and rededicate their lives, and that God would revive our team both corporately and individually as well. PRAY FOR US! Thank you!

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“Don’t fall into the Ditch”

road between ditches

John 8:1-12, “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

Now early[a] in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded[c] us that such should be stoned.[d] But what do You say?”[e] This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.[f]

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[g] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,[h] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[i] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[j] Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[k] sin no more.”

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

 

Ever since the Supreme Court made its decision last week to stop interpreting the Constitution and begin making laws the internet ( including facebook ) has been blowing up with controversy. First, let me state that this is not another same-sex marriage article though it stems from the arguments surrounding these recent events. Those of you, who know me, know where I stand on the issue of same-sex marriage so I don’t even have to go there.

This article deals with something that has troubled me for some time now on the subject of sin period. I am talking about ANY sin whether it be same-sex marriage, adultery between heterosexuals, jealousy, envy, strife, backbiting, hatred, racism, unruly behavior, murder, drinking alcohol, taking drugs and I include the so-called legal marijuana, cohabitation, idol worship, materialism and the list goes on and on and on. So, I want to be clear that this article does speak out against gay-marriage, but it goes way beyond that as well.

It seems that every time our culture tries to make an excuse for sin we see certain verses in the Bible thrown around out of context. This is extremely troubling when there are lost people trying to interpret the word of God when they don’t even know the Author of the Word. However, it should not surprise us because the devil has been doing that ever since he was cast out of Heaven. There is something that is even more troubling to me than lost people trying to use Bible verses against God’s children. It is the fact that there are so many Christians that use God’s word out of context themselves. Let me further explain.

Look again at the verses above. Most people, including many Christians will gladly share verse 7 where Jesus tells the men around Him, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. “ . Then, they move on to share that Jesus asks the woman caught in adultery “where are those accusers of yours?”. He in a sense asks her, “Are there any that accuse you or stone you?”. She tells Jesus there aren’t any who accuse me or attempt to stone me. So Jesus tells her, “Neither do I condemn you”. So, out of 12 verses here in John 8 that provide FULL CONTEXT to what’s going on between Jesus, the lady caught in adultery, and those around her accusing her, we end up getting about ½ of two of those verses. So, what’s the big deal you ask!

It is a BIG DEAL any time that we take God’s word out of context, add our on pre-text, or only share part of the truth. We must be careful not to do any of those things, but instead share God’s word in it’s context, and in it’s truth! We would be better to keep our mouths shut then to share God’s word out of context.

I also think it’s a BIG DEAL that we have Christians doing this very same thing. It shouldn’t take us by surprise when lost people do this, but we have Christians leading other people astray by not studying and understanding the truth. It is serious business.

Praise God for the first part of verse 11 where Jesus said that He does not condemn her either, but we cannot stop there and just totally overlook the very last part of verse 11. Jesus finished His statement with these powerful words, and COMMANDED her saying, “go, and sin no more.”. That’s the part I rarely ever hear mentioned by non-Christians and Christians alike.

Think about how important those words are, “go, and sin no more.”. This absolutely makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in what people generally quote of Jesus not throwing a stone at her, and saying that He does not condemn her. Jesus is saying to this lady that she needs to trust Him, trust His word, and turn from her sin ( repentance ) and grow from that point on. Repentance is turning from sin and a sinful lifestyle and becoming a Christ-follower. You see, she could not follow Christ if she continued in her sin. A person can either follow sin or follow Christ. If you don’t follow Christ, one chooses to follow sin, but if the end of verse 11 is just left out we would never know that based on that one verse. We would only have half the truth. So, that’s why it is so important to understand we must share the Word of God, but we must share it in its context.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 12 that anyone who walks in Christ will walk in the light and not in darkness. Jesus is the Light of the world. ( John 1 ).

Dear friend, I ask you an important question. Are you a Christ follower? If so, please be careful about jumping on just any ban-wagon because the majority of other people seem to be doing so. We must be as Jesus said, “wise as serpents yet gentile as a dove” ( Matthew 10:16 ). In these days we are seeing our culture and country celebrate many different sins. We, as Christians, must STAND FIRM in Christ. We must put on the full armor of God and have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel. ( Ephesians 5-6 ). However, we must be careful to stay on the road of righteousness and not fall into the ditch on either side of the road. On one side there is the ditch of hatred. If you have hatred in your heart for any sinner, you are not following Christ, and you are not reflecting God as love. On the other side of the road is the ditch of sinful approval. In that ditch we find ourselves being soft on sin to the point that we show approval for sin that God says is absolutely abominable in His sight. Many that fall into that ditch believe they are showing Christ by being nice and supportive to people in their sin. Friend, you can be nice without showing approval. You can be loving with approving of sin. To fall into this ditch is as unloving as the ditch ( hatred ) on the other side of the road because you are likely to love someone in their “lostness” right to hell for eternity.

So what do we do? We must share the Gospel. We must compassionately take the God’s word to lost people and show them why they need to be saved. People don’t know they need to be saved, until they know what they need to be saved from. Sharing God’s justice, God’s mercy, and God’s grace ( ALL THREE ) is the most loving thing a Christian can do for anyone. That’s the only way to stay on the road to righteousness and not fall into the ditches on either side of the road.

Thank you for taking time to read this today!

His servant & yours,

Bro. Bryan