“Encouragement for the Post-Christmas Blues”

dueteronomy-verse

Here we are, the week after Christmas and everyone is getting ready for New Years. It’s really amazing to me how fast 2016 has gone by, and in just a couple of days 2017 will be here. Wow!

         One thing seems to always happen during this week, at least for some people, is the experience of “feeling the blues” once Christmas is over and the time period of waiting for New Years to arrive. For some people, no matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for this week, there’s just no stopping those feelings that come.

         Think about it, we’ve been so hyped up for a couple of months now with holiday excitement. As soon as November 1st hits we get cranked up for Thanksgiving. The truth is that many people are preparing for Christmas even before Thanksgiving is over. I’m guilty of that too. This past Thanksgiving Day my wife woke up to find me hanging Christmas lights on the outside of the house so they would be ready to light up that night.

         For many people like me, Christmas is their favorite time of the year, and that means much of your life goes into it. When it’s over, it can be sad to so many people. I will say, usually the people who “feel the blues” during this last week of the year are much better once the actual new year rolls around. It’s a very interesting thing to ponder.

         With all of this said, I am reminded of the encouraging words that Moses gave to the children of Israel during a time of transition. Here in Deuteronomy 31:8 we read, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” This is a great reminder for those who are Christ-followers. As you prepare for the transition from 2016 to 2017 realize was Moses was saying about God to God’s children.

         First, the Lord goes before you. God is working ahead of your schedule and knows everything for your future. Second, “He will be with you” means that we are never alone for God is always present with us. Third, God will “never leave you nor forsake you”, so we know that His presence with us will never not be. What a great truth to know. Since we have this encouragement and exhortation we do not have “to be afraid or be discouraged”. To be afraid means we fear, and God does not want His children to live in fear. We don’t have to be discouraged because God is the One in control and holds the world in His hands.

         So, my hope is that this promise in Deuteronomy 31:8 will bring you encouragement today as we think about the greatness of God and how that greatness overflows to the life of the one who knows God personally. Remember, don’t worry about the future as long as you know personally the One who holds your future ( God ).

Blessings,

Pastor Bryan

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“It Cannot Be Separated”

train-track-faith

Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

        I just want to offer a few simple thoughts to ponder today about Hebrews 11:6 while thinking about living life. I’ve heard, as I know you have, so much talk about the presidential election that is coming up this November. I’ve heard comments about how one’s personal faith plays a role in voting; while others share their opinion about how their faith can somehow be segmented into a box by itself and now really have any effect on their decision to vote. This is an extremely difficult concept for me to grab a hold of. It’s not difficult intellectually, but it is hard to swallow spiritually.

May I say this, as a child of God I am not able to separate my faith from ANY part of my life. I cannot put my faith in a box, or upon a shelf and choose to ignore the principles and convictions which I take hold of out of the Bible and somehow ignore them in any part of my life including an election.

Now, this post is not about an election; however, it is about the faith that I have in the One and Only true God – the God of the Bible. ( God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – all One ).

As I look at this powerful verse in Hebrews 11 and verse 6, I clearly see three things that pound my heart of faith every time they’re read.

  First, I see that we must believe that God is God. This verse says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is.”. If our faith in God is going to be true living faith in God we have to believe God is God and He is who He says He is. Do you believe God is God? Do you believe He is who He is? I do! This is the very foundation of our faith.

    Second, I see that God wants us to seek Him. This verse says, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”. So really there are two big things about this part of the verse. God wants us to seek Him with everything we have. We know that because the Bible uses the word “diligently”. And then we see that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. God seeks us, and God wants us to seek Him. It’s amazing how that shows us a continual involvement of fellowship between God and His creation.

     Third, these first two things are required to please God. Look at the first part of this verse, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.”. Our faith starts out with believing God is who He says He is. Once that foundation is established we are to diligently seek Him. These things are faith in action, and they build upon one another.

The point is, we cannot please God without faith. And what is faith that can be put in a box, placed on a shelf, segmented to one part of your life, only displayed when it’s convenient, or prejudiced to only those areas of your life where it’s comfortable to display? If our faith doesn’t mold and shape every part of our life then what good is it? It’s not real faith. Faith is like the train track that my life ( the train ) is running on. It must guide my every step, my every thought, and everything I do.

Real faith is what pleases God. So the question for you is this, “Are you living by faith?”.

 

Sincerely,

Pastor Bryan

“A Prisoner’s Perspective For The Church”

EPHESIANS 4

Ephesians 4:1-6, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

 

This passage is such a moving passage for the church. I think FRIST, we have to look at the writer of this letter. Paul identifies himself as, “a prisoner of the Lord”. Wow! That in itself says a lot more than I could expound on in this short devotional. Paul considered himself as a prisoner to Jesus, but not a prisoner out of drudgery but a prisoner out of gratitude for what Christ had done for him and in him. So Paul writes these words to the church with passion and from the point of view of someone who doesn’t see himself with rights. His only desire, his only care, his only worth is to live for God and bring glory to Him.

SECOND, Paul points out to us a model of how we ( the church ) should be walking and behaving in our daily living. He says, “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”. (vs. 1 ). You have been saved Christian, and you should behave like you have been saved. Then he characterizes what that looks like. We are to walk in lowliness. We are to walk in gentleness. We are to walk in longsuffering. In other words, as a child of God, I should display humility, kindness and patience in my life. I believe this includes a display of these traits both towards my brothers in Christ, and the lost world. Don’t misunderstand me. This doesn’t mean we become liberal in our thinking, politically correct, or to the dire extreme of excusing sin. It simply means we show Christ-likeness to non-believers and we realize non-believers behave the way they do because they don’t have Christ living within their hearts. We also must understand that this also puts a responsibility on the Christian to behave like a Christian and for the Christian to NOT live like the rest of the world.

THIRD, as we ( the church ) relate to one another and live out our calling in this worthy manner Paul describes, we, through the power of Christ mature with the ability ( in Christ ) to unify in the essentials of doctrine and theology. We are to promote unity and Christ-likeness within the body of Christ. How do we do that you ask? Paul tells us there are two key things we must do. We must “bear with one another in love”, and we must also, “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Both of these commands are key to promoting unity within the church. We, the church, are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hid. The church is called to be light in this dark world. We must unite on the essentials and learn to disagree agreeably on the non-essentials to the glory of God. The outside lost world needs to see the church in unity. Our enemy is not ourselves, but Satan who loves to sow discord and trouble within the body of Christ. Notice these two things take work. To bear and to endeavor requires action and effort on our part.

FOURTH, Paul addresses the big question of WHY we should do all of this. The answer really is simple, because there is one body, one spirit, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Wow! Then, it’s like Paul puts a capstone on this message by exhorting us through the fact that God is above all, through all, and in you ( the church ) all. Again, this is to the church. He is reminding us of the greatness of our God. God is above all! Everything and everyone else does not compare to Him. God is in those of us who are His children, and who make up the church. Since God is who He is these things should be, and certainly should be in us.

In closing, the church should never be discouraged because the church will never die. We know this because of what Jesus told Peter. “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.”.

I am blessed to serve at Morris Memorial Baptist Church in Moscow, TN with some of the greatest Christians I have ever known. It is truly an honor to serve as their pastor, their friend, and their brother in Christ. The people of our local congregation are so sweet, kind and really have unified to bring glory to God, but I am very aware it’s not like that everywhere. May we as the bride of Christ work hard to bear with one another in love, and endeavor to promote Christ-likeness in all of our living.

Sincerely,

Pastor Bryan

“America – You’re On My Prayer List”

USA USA

Proverbs 29:18, “ Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

          Here we are, the year 2016. I’m 40 years old, and to some that means I’m still wet behind the ears. To others, it means I’m old – just ask my kids. Either way, looking back on my life and being a kid of 80’s, I never in a million years would have thought the United States of America would look like it does today. Yes, I did just say that. They are the same words I have heard from older generations since I can remember. Maybe that does mean I’m getting old.

         America, you are on my prayer list. I know that there are people out there that would staunchly disagree with this post. If you are one of them, then respectfully you don’t have to read it.

         I am sick and tired of our nation being anything but Godly. We have forsaken the convictions and intentions of our forefathers who began this great nation, but even greater, we have forsaken the Jehovah God, the One who’s mighty hands has blessed this nation in times past. I am not saying God has taken His hands off this nation. I personally don’t believe He has yet, but I believe we are drawing closer and closer to the day in which He might. If we think things are bad now just wait until that happens. America, I pray we don’t reach that point.

         To you, United States citizen, please vote in the upcoming election. Don’t waste the right that so many men and women have died for. Don’t take that right for granted. Please vote! To you, Christian, please don’t forsake the truths of God’s timeless Word, and just vote for who you think is popular. Please vote in such a way that would line up with God’s word.

         Look at what Proverbs 29:18 tells us. It is basically saying that a nation without God’s guidance is a nation that has absolutely NO order to it at all. It’s saying that those people who honor God’s word and live by His word are happy! Don’t you want order instead of chaos? Don’t you want blessing instead of wrath? Don’t you want joy instead of sorrow? There’s only one prescription to that – it’s God and God’s way!

         Look at the candidates that are running. Listen to what they are saying. Dive into their history of voting and what they stand for. Do your due diligence and research them. Don’t just take the popular vote because one is louder and more boisterous than all the others. Ask yourself, which man is truly God-fearing? Which man knows God?

         America, you are on my heart, and you are on my prayer list. Dear God, please help us to vote for You in this election.

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

 

 

 

“Loving, Hating & Holding”

CLING TO THE CROSS

Romans 12:9, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (NLT).

Wow! Paul packs three great commands into this one verse as he makes a profound statement. First, he tells us, Don’t be a hypocrite with other people. In other words, don’t pat somebody on the back and and pretend to love, like, or approve of them and then go away from them and talk poorly about them. I’ve known some people in my lifetime that would smile at you and act like they were your best friend. Then, after you were gone it would be as if they were stabbing a knife into your back when you couldn’t see them. That’s exactly what Paul is saying not to do. He is calling us to REALLY love other people. You know real love is kind, and always works to help someone else be better off. For my brother in Christ, my love should be to help him grow in his walk with Jesus. For the lost person in my life, I ought to love them so much that I truly and honestly desire to help them come to know Christ personally. To do that is to “really love them”. ( Romans 12:9a).

Next, we are told to Hate stuff that is wrong! The Bible tells us that the law of God is written on the heart of every man. So, we know that we know what is really right, and what is really wrong in this world. Sometimes I think we like to pretend like we are not really sure so we can feel better about getting away with things we shouldn’t get away with, BUT we really know. Paul is telling us here to hate the things that are wrong. We should hate all sin because all sin is destructive and hurts. We tend to think of the so-called big sins: adultery, stealing, drug abuse, getting drunk on alcohol, and pornography. Have you considered some of the other more subtle sins that we should hate too? (i.e. gossip, bitterness, fear, not looking out for other peoples best interest – even lost people, not witnessing, vulgar music, R-rated movies, un-forgiveness. ). These are just a few. We are called to hate that which is wrong. Notice, we are to hate what’s wrong, but not those doing the wrong.

Third, Paul says we should Hold on to tightly to the things that are good. Wow! I love this. Sometimes I feel if I could just master the first two commands I would automatically be doing this third command. We are to hold tight to the things we know we should be doing,. What are those things? Well, some of them are: Growing daily with Christ, learning to love His word even more, having the realization that God died for you but He also died for that person you don’t really like, working on your own problems rather than dwelling on other people’s, learning to forgive, learning to really love, cutting people some slack. Yes, all these things and many more. Doing these things, and having God develop them in your life does mean that we approve or celebrate sin. It means we are learning more about the grace of God in our lives and seeing that grace in the lives of others as well.

Really loving people, hating what’s wrong, and clinging to what is right will bless any Christian’s life. These are three things that please God, and we should be in the mode of practicing and living these principles out in our journey through this life. For when we are living like this we are picturing to others around us the very nature of God Himself. This isn’t always easy to do, but we, at the very least, should be pursuing the practice of this lifestyle.

Bro. Bryan

“There’s Light At The End Of The Tunnel”

light-end-of-tunnel

Psalm 46:10a “Be still, and know that I am God”

              This Psalm is a great command to anyone who is in Jesus Christ whenever there may be some sort of conflict within your life. If we read through Psalm 46 we will see that the Psalmist is giving tribute to who God is especially in time of need and distress.

Each one of us can understand what it means to be in some sort of distress. We are approaching Christmas, and for many this is the most stressful time of year. It may not have anything to do with buying gifts and going to parties, but more to do with conflict in family, relationships, and within one’s own self.

The Psalmist reminds us in such a simple way of something that can be so hard for many of us to do. BE STILL! When was the last time you were just still? I’m talking about really being still. I am talking about a time when you weren’t watching TV, playing a game on your phone, scrolling through your Facebook feed, stressing about making dinner for your loved ones, or worrying about where you had to be later on that day.  What I am trying to say is, when was the last time you could honestly say, “I was really really still with nothing going on.”? Most of us are struggling right now to remember when that time was.

Remember the reminder that God gives us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. I believe what happens when we truly get still before God, the time we are focused on Him helps us to realize that He is our refuge, and that He can conquer any problems we are facing within us and within our lives. God is the conqueror of it all. So whatever you are hurting over, depressed in, and feel defeated from today, don’t forget to “Be still” so that you can get to a place where you find refuge in Him alone. When we take refuge in Christ we are reminded that He is in control and can conquer the things that seem over our head. It’s not comforting to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is comforting to know that Jesus is the light whether you are in the tunnel or at the end of the tunnel.

Sincerely,

Pastor Bryan

“Who You Walk With Matters”

Walk with

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20)

How we walk really does matter. Think about what this verse says to us who know God. He tells us that It is important who we walk with. Basically, there are two types of people we can walk with. There are those who are wise, and there are those who are fools. So, I have to ask myself what kind of people I am walking with. Wise or foolish? The writer of this Proverb also tells us that there are consequences to whom we walk with. If we walk with the wise we have a greater opportunity to gleam wisdom and become wise ourselves. However, if we choose the other way and walk with fools it is likely we will make foolish decisions. It may even be said, that by walking with the fool we have already made the foolish decision to walk with them; therefore, it is apparent that we will make more foolish decisions and reap more foolish consequences within our lives. We are also told that harm comes to those who walk with fools. So, it comes down to wisdom or harm. Wisdom comes when we walk with those who are wise. Harm comes when we walk with fools. Be careful who you walk with, because there is a consequence to it.

 Sincerely,

Pastor Bryan