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Pastor Thoughts

 

  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

January 3, 2010

 

Give Careful Thought to the Choices You Make In 2010

 

By the grace of God we have made it to a brand New Year.  In each New Year that God gives us, we will obviously continue some things from the previous year.  But, before us, are also some wonderful opportunities.  The New Year is uncharted land before us filled with possibilities, and to think – our future in 2010 will have a lot to do with the choices we will make.

 

Before Israel crossed over into the Promised Land, God spoke clearly to them concerning their future in the new land.  Read carefully the words spoken to them and see how they apply to us as we enter into a New Year, Deuteronomy 30:11-19 (New Living Translation):

 

11. This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand or

      perform.

12. It is not up in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go to heaven and bring it

      down so we can hear and obey it?’

13. It is not beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring

      it to us so we can hear and obey it?’

14. The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so you can obey it.

15. “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between

      life and death.

16. I have commanded you to today to love the LORD your God and to keep His commands,

      laws, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and become a

      great nation, and the LORD Your God will bless you and the land you are about to

      enter and occupy.

17. But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to

      serve and worship other gods,

18. then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long good

      life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19. “Today, I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and

      curses, I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make, Oh that you would

      choose life…”

 

Imagine if you will the transition from 2009 to 2010 is our crossing the Jordan into a new land to occupy.  What God said to Israel is applicable to us today – as we make our journey into 2010 before us is the choice between prosperity and disaster, blessings, and curses, life and death.  To have a blessed year all we have to do is choose to love the Lord our God, obey the principles found in His Word, and the year 2010 will be a great year.  

 

Just think, it will all depend on the choices we will make.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

December 27, 2009

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not…”

                                                                                                          (Lamentations 3:22 / NKJV)

 

By the grace of God we have made it to the last Sunday in 2009.  As with every Sunday I come to worship filled with gratitude for God’s protection and God’s provision.  But this Sunday is special because it’s the last Sunday of this year.

 

The year 2009 has been a year filled with challenges.  The economy and the job market has contributed to individuals, families, companies, and yes churches wondering how they were going to make it.   But in spite of everything, here we are at the last Sunday and we’re still standing.  God has kept us and God has brought us through. 

 

So I’m just grateful.  I’m grateful for you the membership of Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church.  I’m grateful for some of the following reasons:

 

  • You’re still here.  You could have gone elsewhere, but you’re still here.
  • You have been supportive.  God has blessed us to be able to touch the lives of others through ministry.  Ministry doesn’t happen without people giving of themselves.  You have made sacrifices to serve others.
  • You have shown love to my family and me.  I have heard some horror stories concerning ministers and congregations, but Mt. Nebo is a wonderful congregation to serve.  We as a family consider ourselves very blessed because of your love.
  • You love God and His Word.  We are believers in Jesus Christ as Lord.  We understand the importance of His Word and we’re striving to grow more in our relationship with God and be a better witness for our Lord.

 

So I come to this last Sunday thanking God for you and for all that you have done as a congregation to make this year meaningful.  THANK YOU Mt. Nebo family for all you have done in 2009.

 

With the passing of every year a truth is reinforced.  That truth simply put is this – God is faithful.  Regardless of the challenges each year puts before us, God is faithful in seeing us through.

 

THANK YOU God for Your divine care of Your people. You have been mighty good to us even though we have fallen short in some areas. THANK YOU Lord for Your grace and mercy.  We love You and we want to do better going into a New Year. 

 

Great is Thy faithfulness.  Morning by morning new mercies (we) see, All (we) have needed, Thy hand hast provided.  Great is Thy faithfulness Lord to (us).

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

December 13, 2009

 

“”Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

 

We can only begin to imagine the excitement that Mary must have felt when she found out she was to give birth to the long awaited Messiah.  For years the Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah to be born.

 

For them, the coming of the Messiah would mean deliverance from Roman oppression.  The Messiah came and He did bring deliverance, but His deliverance was not political or related to military actions.  The deliverance the Messiah brought was spiritual – freedom from sin and the bondage associated with it.  Not only did the Messiah bring freedom from sin, He also brought a healing of the broken relationship between God and man.

 

As we reflect on another Christmas season, may we rejoice in that the birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy.  Simply put – Jesus is “God with us.”  That is a phrase worth repeating several times, God with us…

 

As the phrase is repeated, prayerfully we will come to realize the magnitude of what it all means.  The Bible teaches us that God came in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19; Philippians 2:5-8) for the benefit of saving us, blessing us.  God came – imagine if you will that you had a loved one or dear friend who was in trouble and you went to be by their side to rescue them, help them in their distress.

 

That is exactly what God did.  God came to help us, to rescue us.  Now when we’ve done helping our loved one or friend, we’ll leave.  But God didn’t leave us.  We have the Holy Spirit living in us as a result of our faith in Jesus as Lord.  God came and He is still with us.  We are not alone and never will be.

 

Let us celebrate this Christmas realizing that in the birth of Jesus, God came to be with us.  In His coming we have been blessed with the wonderful gift of salvation and the many benefits associated with it.  Through Jesus we have received the best gift of all and as Mary and others of her time rejoiced in the birth of the Savior, may we also rejoice – again and again.

 

Joy to the world! The Lord is come!

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

December 6, 2009

 

Once again by the grace of God we have been allowed to enter into another Christmas season.  It is during this time that we reflect on God’s gracious gift to the world – His Son Jesus Christ.

 

The challenge for the church in these times is to not allow the meaning of Christmas to be overshadowed by the commercialism of this season.  It’s all about the birth of Jesus and the precious gift of salvation that is available to anyone regardless of race or social status.  The Bible is true – “All have sinned and fallen short…” (Romans 3:23).

 

In Biblical times people rejoiced at the birth of the Savior.  In Luke 2:8-20 the angels made a glorious announcement about the birth of Jesus.  The shepherds who were not highly favored by society, but were favored by God rejoiced greatly that the Savior was born.  Also in Luke 2:25-40, we see the joyful reaction of Simeon and Anna to seeing the baby Jesus.

 

Simeon and Anna were “old” but they had been eagerly waiting for God to fulfill His promise in sending the Messiah.  They had waited for years and in all their waiting their faith remained vibrant.

 

It’s interesting in that we have the Scriptures that give us an account of all of this.  We also have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but for some reason Christmas is more of a challenge than a celebration for many today.  How is that people in Biblical times, living in challenging situations could wait so long for the Savior to be born and still be filled with joy and hope?  I’m of the persuasion that they had a faith in God that was not be deterred by the challenges before them.

 

It is my prayer that for all believers who profess Christ as Lord that we enjoy this Christmas season.  The Savior has been born and we are recipients of the precious gift of salvation.  Along with salvation come joy, peace, hope, love, and VICTORY.

 

Yes, we are surrounded by many challenges but Jesus is Lord and there is no challenge before us that He cannot see us through.  He is with us, in us and for us.  Rejoice this Christmas season.  Keep your focus on Him and not on the challenges of life that if we’re not careful,  will dampen our spirits.

 

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.  The Savior has come and because we know Him, we are blessed above and beyond measure.

 

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, that Jesus Christ was born.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

November 22, 2009

 

 

A Great Person Is Thankful

(Source – Devotional Book – Give Us This Day by LeRoy Brownlow)

 

And be thankful.  (Colossians 3:15)

 

A Sunday School Teacher began her class by stating that everyone has been blessed and should be thankful.  Then she asked one little boy for what he was especially thankful.

 

“My glasses,” he replied.

 

That seemed strange.

 

He explained, “They keep the boys from hitting me and the girls from kissing me.”

 

In time he will outgrow the latter cause for thankfulness, but he will never, never  outgrow – no matter how old he becomes, or how much he amasses, or how much he accomplishes – the many other reasons for gratitude that are visited upon all people in every nation and circumstance of life.  Whether all are thankful or not, there are a thousand reasons to be.

 

You can be thankful for the earth that gives a place to stand, for the sun that gives you warmth and light, for the tree that gives you shade, for the air that lets you breathe, for the animals in your subjection, for the sprouting seed that gives you food, for friends who walk by your side and hold your hand, for the God who loves you, for the Bible that gives you direction and hope, for the fellowship of the church that gives you strength, for the hope of immortality that takes tragedy out of death, and for countless other blessings.

 

You will never outgrow the reason to be thankful.  For you are a dependent being, and that dependency will last a lifetime.

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

November 15, 2009

 

 

 

  

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving . And into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. (Psalm 100:4-5 NKJV)

 

We love to read the Psalms, but in living out life we fail to practice what the Psalms teach us as well as what others Scriptures teach us.

 

Take Psalm 100 for example.  It clearly states – “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.”  This was written for those going into the Temple to worship God.  It pertained to their mindset, their demeanor.  They were told specifically how to enter for worship.

 

This is applicable to our attending worship today.  In what way do we enter for worship?  Do we come in being thankful or do we come in complaining?  Some may say – “It’s too cold in here already or it’s too hot.”  Some may be wondering – How long will service last today?  Why am I here anyway?  Others may be focusing negatively on individuals present rather than focusing on the Lord who has blessed them all week long.

 

Psalm 100 clearly states to be thankful into Him (God) and bless His name.  Each of us has countless reasons to be thankful, regardless of how challenging the week may have been.  The fact that we’re still here is reason alone to be thankful.  If we focus more on God and His goodness, if we nurture our spirits through His Word, I can’t help but believe that life will take on new meaning.

 

Challenges will always present themselves, that is simply the nature of life.  But God has worked a mighty work through Jesus Christ in whom we profess belief.  His Spirit in us is able to see us through our challenges.  Because of our relationship with Him as Lord, because of our spirits being nurtured through His Word and prayer – we cannot help but be a thankful people.

 

Yes, we will enter with hearts filled with thanksgiving.  Yes, we will give Him praise for all the things He has done, is doing, and is yet going to do.  Yes, we will bless His name because the LORD IS GOOD!!!

 

When waves of affliction sweep over the soul, And sunlight is hidden from view, If ever you’re tempted to fret or complain, Just think of His goodness to you…

 

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

November 1, 2009

 

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”

                                                                                                                                 (Proverbs 12:25)

 

There is much that is happening today that is causing concern and depression in the hearts of many.  The things that are happening are just too numerous to mention.

 

But, those of us who profess faith in the living Savior have every reason to not allow ourselves to be overcome by the events taking place today.  We must speak a good word to ourselves and to others, that we might give witness to the presence of joy and hope in times like these.  Below are some good words that I pray will bless and encourage you as youread and meditate on them:

 

  • You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.  Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

 

  • Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

 

  • The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:9-10)

 

  • Be not dismayed what-e’er betide, God will take care of you. (Song – God Will Take Care Of You)

 

  • I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25 NKJV)

 

  • And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)

 

Of course, the good words above are just a few of the “multitude” of words available to us through Scripture and song.  My point is this, if we feed ourselves with what we have at our disposal from our arsenal of faith, we will walk in the midst of this present day not being overcome but overcoming.

 

We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

                                                                                                   (Romans 8:37)

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

October 18, 2009

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

                                                                                                                       (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)

 

Much is being said about the plight of our youth today.  Violence, gangs, disrespect for authority, and the list could go on and on.

 

The Bible makes it clear that children are to be taught.  Teaching begins at home.  One has to wonder what children are being taught at home today.  Not only must children be taught, they must also be disciplined when needed.  Of course there is much talk about what type of discipline is to be administered.

 

Not only are we to focus on teaching our children, we also are to “love” our children.  They’re born helpless – it is our responsibility to pour into them those values that will help them to become productive citizens of society.  What are we “pouring” into our children?

 

Of course, we should realize that teaching begins while they’re still in diapers.  We can’t wait until they’re 5 or 6 to begin teaching.  A woman named Dorothy Law Nolte wrote the following:

 

Children Learn What They Live

 

If a child lives with criticism, He learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, He learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame, He learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance, He learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement, He learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise, He learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, He learns justice.

If a child lives with security, He learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, He learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, He learns to find love in the world.

 

Tell me please, what are we teaching our children today?

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

October 11, 2009

 

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

                                                                                                                                   (John 10:27)

 

There are many people who profess to know the Lord, but sometimes their actions seem to say otherwise.  Jesus clearly states – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).  Three things are clear from this one verse alone:

 

  1. Those who profess to know the Lord hear His voice.
  2. The Lord knows those who know Him.
  3. Those who know the Lord, follow Him.

 

Out of those three things, two speaks to our “knowing” Him.  We hear His voice.  God speaks to us through His Word, through our circumstances, through His Spirit, and even through others.  The challenge for us is to live a life being sensitive to the move of God in our lives.  This will require reading and studying His Word, being consistent in our prayer lives, and taking the time to be still before God.

 

Not only do we hear His voice, we follow Him.  That means we follow His example, we are obedient to His teachings. We live in an intimate relationship with Him.  Are we following Jesus when it comes to being committed? Jesus was committed to doing the will of God.  He was committed to attending worship.  He was committed to prayer.

 

Are we following Jesus when it comes to being loving?  Jesus loved all people, not only those who were just like Him.  Jesus stressed that we are to love God with all of our being.  This certainly does not involve half-hearted efforts in an attempt to please Him.

 

Are we following Jesus when it comes to being forgiving?  While He was hanging on the cross with His tormentors still taunting Him, Jesus asked forgiveness for them.

 

Are we following Him when it comes to serving others?  Jesus clearly taught that greatness comes through being a servant to others. 

 

Are we following Him when it comes to having a sacrificial love for the church?  Jesus died for the church out of His love and commitment.  Do we have enough love for the church that leads us to sacrifice time, talent, and treasure? Or are we more concerned about how inconvenienced we’ll be or getting our way?  Jesus calls us to die to self daily.

 

Remember, Jesus said – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

Oct. 4, 2009

 

“And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sin…”

                                                                                                                                  (Ephesians 2:1)

 

A movie came out several years ago entitled “Dead Man Walking.”  The movie centered on a nun and her relationship with a man who was on death row waiting to be executed for crimes he had committed.  An appeal was made to spare the man’s life but to no avail.

 

There are many individuals today who could be labeled as dead men walking.  The penalty of death is on them not because of some heinous crime committed, but because of not having dealt with the sin nature inherit in every person.  The Bible declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  The Bible teaches us that because of the sin of Adam in Genesis, all of mankind is tainted with a sin nature (Romans 5:12).  Living in sin earns us nothing but spiritual and physical death (Romans 6:23). 

 

The only way to escape the label of “dead man walking” is to accept faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sin (Eph. 2:4-10).  Once we accept Jesus as Savior, we are no longer under the penalty of death.  Physically we will die, but spiritually we will have eternal life (John 3:16).

 

Being free of the penalty of death has implications for us now.  When Paul says in Ephesians 2:1, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sin,” he is saying that we have become spiritually alive to God.  That means we now live in a relationship with Him.  This relationship goes beyond simply acknowledging that God exists, this relationship is one of surrender and obedience to Jesus as Lord.

 

As a result of being made alive we can experience His forgiveness, His joy, His strength, His love, and be filled with a hope that cannot be quenched regardless of our external circumstances.  We live life differently because of what faith in Christ does for us.  Realizing that we’ve been spared the penalty of death, let us live out our lives rejoicing in that we are alive and have a bright future waiting for us.

 

“Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise, for it was grace that bought my liberty; I  do not know why He came to love me so, he looked beyond my fault, and saw my need.”

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

September 27, 2009

 

“…they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether theses things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

 

The verse above is a compliment to those individuals who lived in Berea.  Paul and Silas had come to Berea for the purpose of sharing the gospel.  They came to Berea from Thessalonica where they met with some success, but for their own safety, they had to leave (Acts 16 & 17).

 

In Berea Paul and Silas found individuals who were receptive of the gospel, not only that, they involved themselves in study of the Scriptures to test the truthfulness of what was being shared.  From the individuals at Berea, we learn of two key elements that will foster spiritual growth – being receptive of what is being taught and the study of Scripture.

 

Today we are observing Christian Education Sunday.  Christian Education of course is to foster spiritual growth.  For spiritual growth to happen individuals have to be receptive of what is being shared and they must also be students of Scripture.  If there is no spiritual growth, individuals will be stuck in spiritual immaturity which results in several negative factors – little faith, little power, little hope, little joy – just to name a few.

 

An individual named Graham Scroogie made the following comment – “Too many Christians live on the right side of Easter, but the wrong side of Pentecost; the right side of pardon, but the wrong side of power; the right side of forgiveness, but the wrong side of fellowship. They are out of Egypt, but have not reached the land of promise and blessing.  They are still wandering about in the wilderness of frustration and dissatisfaction.” (From Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes)

 

If spiritual growth is going to happen, there must be a willingness to be taught and there must be intentional study of the Scriptures.  For those who might still be wandering in the wilderness, you are invited to join with the rest of us who are receptive and involved in the study of God’s Word.  I guarantee you that your life will not remain the same. 

 

The guarantee is not based on my word, but on the teaching of Scripture, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge…For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(II Peter 1:5-8)

 

Spiritual growth opens the door to unlimited strength, unlimited peace, joy, and so much more…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

September 20, 2009

 

 

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?”

                                                                                                           (Genesis 18:14)

 

In the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, there is an encounter between Abraham, Sarah his wife, and an angel of the Lord.  Abraham had been informed by the angel that Sarah his wife was going to give birth to a son.  Sarah laughed in disbelief seeing that she was well advanced in years and past childbearing age (verse 11).  In essence, the angel reminded them that the message was from God and then asked them – Is anything too hard for the LORD?

 

The context of that question had to do with a promise that God had made to Abraham and Sarah.  If God said He was going to do something, IT WOULD BE DONE.  God would do it in His own time and in His own way, but God would keep His word.

 

We would do well to ask ourselves that same question – Is anything too hard for the LORD?  Many of us are facing some very challenging times and as a result, may find ourselves very concerned about our well being or the well being of someone we know who is having a difficult time. 

 

We must remember who we are trusting.  We are to trust God.  You know, the CREATOR of heaven and earth.  The Scriptures reveal to us that God has done some awesome and wonderful things, too numerous to mention in this small space.  The bottom line is that God is powerful and wise beyond words.  Although this is 2009, He is still the same God today as He was during the time of Abraham and Sarah.  Is anything we face today too hard for God?  Absolutely not!

 

It could be that we want deliverance out of something whereas God may want to take us through our situation.  We can’t begin to explain every situation in life, but in living a life of faith we cling to Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Paul, a faithful servant of God prayed for deliverance from his “thorn” in the flesh, yet the Lord simply responded – “My grace is sufficient for thee” (II Cor. 12:9).

 

We must remember we are to trust God who never runs out of strength, whose abilities never weaken, who is able to do above all that we ask or think.  Remember He conquered sin, death, and satan.  Don’t you think He can handle your situation or keep you as you go through whatever it is you’re going through?  Of course He can because NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD!

 

Lord, help us to trust You more as we go through…

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

September 6, 2009

 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

 

The New Living Translation Bible states John 14:27 this way – “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

 

In speaking these words Jesus was comforting and encouraging His disciples.  His impending death and departure was drawing near.  But Jesus wanted to assure them that they had nothing to fear.  His presence would remain with them through the indwelling Holy Spirit (verse 26).  In The Communicator’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, Roger Fredrickson says this – “For the Greeks, peace was the absence of war, but for the Hebrews it was a positive blessing growing out of a right relationship with God.  So when Jesus leaves peace with these men He is giving them one of the fruits of the great gift of salvation.  This positive word of farewell is greater than all their troubles and fears.”

 

This peace that Jesus speaks of is ours as well.  He is our Savior.  We have His Holy Spirit living inside of us.  The blessing of such a relationship is peace.  Some of course may question such a statement – “If we have His peace, why then are so many troubled by their situation?”  It could be that the reason so many people are troubled by their situation is due to the fact that Jesus is not their focus.

 

If we are students of Scripture, we would see that everyone who had a relationship with Jesus as Savior was blessed with a mindset of confidence, peace, and assurance in the midst of very trying circumstances.  Jesus for them was not an afterthought.  For them, Jesus was the center of their lives.  Read II Corinthians 4:8-9 and Romans 8:35-39.

 

Because the peace that Jesus gives is different from the peace the world offers, we’re not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid.  The Lord who was able to endure the agony of the cross, defeat death and satan by rising from the grave, is more than able to bring peace to us as we live in the midst of these challenging times.  May you be blessed with His peace.

 

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word…

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

August 30, 2009

 

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” (II Cor. 4:17ff)

 

As I study the Scripture and learn of the trials and struggles of men and women of faith, I am amazed at their response to trouble and suffering.  The apostle Paul for example lived a life that was FULL of struggle.  His life was in danger numerous times for being a witness for Jesus, yet, he can say in II Cor. 4:17 – “Our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  We need to pray that God will give us a mindset of seeing our problems as “light affliction that won’t last always, and good will follow.”

 

An individual named Sue Bohlin wrote an essay entitled The Value of Suffering.  I share some of her insights with the hope that you will be blessed.

 

  • Suffering Prepares Us to Be The Bride of Christ.  Jesus wants not just a pure bride, but a mature one as well – and suffering produces growth and maturity in us.  James 1:2-4 reminds us that trials produce perseverance, which makes us mature and complete.  And Romans 5:3-4 tells us that we can actually rejoice in our sufferings, because, again, they produce perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope…Oswald Chambers wrote: “Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness.’

 

  • Suffering Allows Us to Minister Comfort to Others Who Suffer. Suffering often develops compassion and mercy in us.  Those who suffer tend to have tender hearts toward others who are in pain.  II Cor. 1:3-5 states we’re comforted in order to comfort others.

 

  • Suffering Displays God’s Strength Through Our Weakness.  The reason His strength can shine through is because we know God better through suffering.  One wise man said, “I got theology in seminary, but I learned reality through trials.  I got facts in Sunday School, but I learned faith through trusting God in difficult circumstances.  I got truth from studying, but I got to know the Savior through suffering.  II Cor. 12:8-10 tells us His grace is sufficient…

 

  • Suffering Gets Us Ready for Heaven.  Pain is inevitable because we live in a fallen world…Suffering prepares us for heaven by teaching us how unfulfilling life on earth is and helping is develop and eternal perspective.  Suffering makes us homesick for heaven.  Remember, we’re stranger and pilgrims here. (Italics mine)

 

To borrow a phrase from a song by Yolanda Adams – It’s crazy right now, but one day it’s going to be nice.” But until that day comes, remember God us able!!!

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

August 23, 2009

 

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…”

                                                                                                                          (James 1:2)

 

When my children were very young and would fall as children tend to do sometimes – there would be times they wanted to cry.  After accessing the situation and realizing there were no serious injuries I would intervene by having them growl and repeat the following words  - “I’m a rough, tough, bronco rider,” then have them growl again.  It was my way of trying to make them tough.  To some that probably didn’t make any sense.

 

There are instances in Scripture that to some doesn’t make any sense either.  James tells the Christians who were going through a difficult time to “count it all joy” (1:2).  Persecutions were increasing, there was physical pain and the threat of death, suffering was an everyday experience and they were to count it all joy?

 

It helps to be a student of Scripture.  Further reading reveals that James states there are benefits to be realized through suffering or trials (1:2-4).  Trials produce patience and patience adds to one’s spiritual maturity.  The Amplified Version states it this way (James 1:2-4):

 

  1. Consider it wholly joyful my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort, or fall into various temptations.
  2. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
  3. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.

 

While to some it doesn’t make any sense, the Bible does say to count it all joy as you go through stuff.  Joy of course has to do with the state of our inner being.  Counting it all joy doesn’t mean that you’ll grin when in trouble.  But it does mean that your inner self is at peace in the midst of your storm.  Outwardly the storm may be raging, but inwardly, it’s steady and secure as you go through.

 

Of course, this happens as a result of who you know.  If Jesus is Lord, if you’re anchored in the faith, if you’re nurturing your soul in Biblical truths, others will not understand you as you count it all joy when you’re going through.  As a result of our faith, our trials only strengthen us and draw us closer to our Savior.  Yes, we’ll count it all joy…

 

Be not dismayed what-e’re betide, God will take care of you…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

Aug. 16, 2009 

 

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

                                                                                                        (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)

 

Several years ago my wife and I visited Canada for a special occasion.  We traveled by plane to Detroit then rented a car and drove over the border to Canada.  When we left Canada we retraced our route and headed back to the airport in Detroit.  At least I thought we were retracing our route.

 

Somewhere along the way I inadvertently made a wrong turn.  We were driving on the interstate thinking we were heading back to the airport.  My wife questioned if we were headed in the right direction and suggested that I might want to stop and ask someone just to be sure. I assured her we were headed in the right direction.  It was important that we arrive at the airport on time to catch our flight back to Tennessee.

 

After driving for what seemed like forever, I came to the conclusion that something wasn’t quite right.  We had driven for nearly an hour and still had not reached our destination (it didn’t take us that long to get to Canada).  I finally pulled off the interstate to check our directions.  I had been driving away from the airport and was some 40-50 miles off course.  Our plane would be leaving in less than an hour and I still had to return the rental car, the site was not in the airport but at another location. 

 

Needless to say, I drove like crazy trying to get to the airport on time – dropped my wife at the terminal and asked her to try and hold the plane while I went to return the car.  I literally ran through the airport and arrived at the gate well past departure time.  The only reason I was able to catch that flight is that there was a disgruntled customer at the gate that had caused a delay (not my wife J).

 

Proverbs 14:12 says – “There is a way that seems right to man, But its end is the way of death (ruin).”  I knew I was headed in the right direction, but I was wrong and as a result of being wrong I experienced a lot of unnecessary stress that particular day.

 

So it is with a lot of people today – they think they’re right in doing it their way, but in the end they will end up very disappointed if not utterly lost.  God through His Word has given us principles to live by, let’s be sure to follow them so we’ll stay on the right path.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

August 9, 2009

  

 

“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”  (Proverbs 4:7)

 

Wisdom, as used in the verse above is defined as – “The knowledge and the ability to make the right choices at the opportune time.  The consistency of making the right choice is an indication of maturity and development.  The prerequisite for wisdom is the fear of the Lord as mentioned in Proverbs 1:7.” (Source – Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

 

Judging by the behavior and or choices that people are making today it is evident that wisdom is absent and desperately needed.  Having wisdom and understanding helps us to realize that there are consequences for every decision and choice we make.  Consequences may be seen and felt in a relative short span of time or take some time to develop.  But there will be consequences for our choices.

 

Wisdom and understanding helps us to realize that when times are tight and money is short – we need to tighten our belt in some areas.  A tightening of the belt or cutting back is not indicative of little faith, but wisdom.  Remember Joseph, through the interpretation of dreams, he helped Egypt through a tough time of famine by storing up goods ahead of the famine and then rationing goods out in the midst of the famine (Genesis 41:1-57).

 

Having wisdom and understanding is helpful in several ways:

 

  • Helps one to choose friends wisely.
  • Not to spend a paycheck on frivolous things and ignore bills.
  • Live within your means and not worry about trying to impress others.
  • Parents will diligently teach their children about life, conduct, responsibility…
  • Young people will be respectful and obedient to parents and older adults who have their best interest at heart.
  • Husbands and wives will realize that mutual respect and cooperation will go a long way in making for peace in the home.
  • Students will understand the need for studying, not cramming for tests.
  • Employees will do an honest day’s work and not be slackers on the job.

 

Of course, there’s so much more that having wisdom and understanding can do for us.  Wisdom is not really hard to obtain.  There are two verses in the Bible that clearly indicate how to get wisdom – find Proverbs 1:7 and James 1:5, read them prayerfully, meditate on them, and may God richly bless you as you seek and strive to walk in relationship with Him.

 

“…wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” (Eccl. 7:12)

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

July 5, 2009

 

 

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

 

Formalism, legalism, and ritualism are three words that should not characterize our faith walk.  Christians in the church at Rome were struggling over what foods to eat or not to eat.  They began to focus on dos and don’ts and as a result people became judgmental and divisions developed in the church.

 

Unfortunately, many well meaning individuals in the church had made being a part of the kingdom of God a matter of legalism.  But the apostle Paul clearly pointed out that walking in faith is not about being legalistic but rather righteousness (living right), peace (calmness, assurance), and joy (cheerfulness). 

 

I sometimes ask myself why is it that people seem so joyless.  I am fully aware of the stuff that life throws at people.  But when I read the scriptures and see all the stuff that early believers had to go through, I am amazed that they speak of being joyful.  For example – Acts 5:22-42 gives an account of the apostles being in prison, taken to trial and threatened with death if they continued witnessing for Jesus.  They were eventually let go and after having gone through so much their mindset is a testimony to their faith.  Verse 41 states – “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

 

Many of us are not faced with the threat of death, yet our joy seems diminished.  Are we not a part of the kingdom of God as well as the early believers?  Perhaps the difference is that the early believers had fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus in their lives.  Their focus was on living for Him, walking in relationship with Him.  As a result, they were experiencing joy that comes from being a part of the kingdom of God.

 

Walking in the joy that comes from being a child of God can yield numerous benefits as we’re making our journey from earth to glory.  But for us to experience this joy daily, we must never forget whose we are.  We must focus on His Word (which will nurture our souls).  We must realize the significance of our relationship in the Lord and encourage one another.  We must also not allow our present situation to cancel out the hope that is ours. 

 

We should also remember that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  This joy is not dependent on our circumstances, but on our relationship with Jesus as Lord.  Lord, help us live out I Peter 1:8 – “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
  June 28, 2009



For we walk by faith, not by sight


II Cor. 5:8



Faith, one simple word that holds so much meaning for the life we live now
and the life to come after this life.



Faith simply means to believe, to trust.  We have placed our faith in a lot
of things and a lot of people.  Every time we sit in a chair is an exercise
of faith - that is unless you test the chair first to see if it will hold
you.  Every time we work before receiving a paycheck is an exercise of faith
- that is unless you demand to be paid first.  Every time we go to a doctor,
fly on a plane, or travel by bus is an exercise of faith.  We trust the
skills of those making diagnoses and operating equipment - otherwise why do
we use them?  Life is a journey of faith in things and people.



Our ultimate faith is to be in the Lord.  We are to trust Him in everything
we do.  Our faith in the Lord is nurtured through our study of scripture,
prayer, experiences, and fellowship with people of faith.  It only makes
sense that we learn from people who have faith.  Those who know me would not
send a dog-lover to me seeking advice on caring for a dog :-).  Why then
should we seek advice on faith from someone who does not believe?



As we live in "these" times, our faith in the Lord is what will enable us to
live abundant lives.  Living abundantly is not just getting by, rather, it
is thriving in love, joy, hope, peace, strength, and much more.  Faith in
the Lord and His Word will counter all the negativity that surrounds us.
For example:



*    Wicked people are prospering while good people suffer - Do not fret
because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.  For they
shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb. (Psalm
37:1-2)



*    The problems we face are just so overwhelming - My grace is
sufficient for thee.be anxious for nothing but in everything through
prayer.and the peace of God that passes understanding shall keep your hearts
and mind through Christ Jesus.  (II Cor. 12:9; Philippians 4:6-7)



*    Given the state of things today, the future looks very bleak - Eye
has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The
Things which God has prepared for those who love Him.  (I Cor. 2:9)



Regardless of the situation, remember - we walk by faith and not by sight.


 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

June 21, 2009

 

Honor Father

(Source – Give Us This Day, Devotional Guide for Daily Living by Leroy Brownlow)

 

Honor thy father and mother. (Ephesians 6:2)

 

One of the ancient duties enjoined upon mankind is to honor parents.  It is old in origin but just as new in its essentiality and practicality as ever.  It is an urgent need of each new generation.  A person can no more outgrow this need than one can outgrow the need of basic character.

 

A flagrant disregard of this divine law to honor father has in it the seeds of frustration, violence, and degradation.  A violation of it will produce in children a mischievous self-assertion and a bitter resentment of all authority and superiority.  So one of the preventions of juvenile delinquency is to honor father and accept his headship in the family.

 

Disrespect, ingratitude and neglect toward father is a deadly force that destroys individual character, which in turn pulls down our whole social structure; for the family is the cornerstone of society.  Affection, devotion and respect to father are cardinal virtues, and a society divested of them cannot long survive.

 

Now for a little confession – father is much more deserving of honor than we could appreciate when we were young.  Youth has to grow up.  Time is an effectual teacher.  The years are wrought with strong opposition and staggering blows from a world youth thinks is easy to conquer.  Sons and daughters may not learn this until the father is either old or dead, but there is one thing sure – they will learn.

 

And all the while nature is planning a sure reversal of the order.  By and by, those children will grow up and have children of their own, and the drama of parents and children will be re-enacted all over again.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

June 7, 2009

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.” (Hebrews 11:6)

 

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is one of my favorite chapters to read in the Bible.  It gives several examples of individuals who had faith in God.  For some of them, the going was extremely rough, but they are noted for their faith in spite of their trials (verses 35-39).  It could be said of them that perhaps all they had to cling to was their faith in God.

 

In 2009 as we are going through this turbulent time of job loss and economic uncertainty, we would do well to cling to our faith in God as well.  For some, that is indeed all they have.  But I am of the persuasion that faith in God will see you through.

 

Scripture makes it clear that without faith, we can’t please God.  Scripture makes it clear that we must go to God in faith and God who is will reward those who diligently seek Him.  A study of Scripture makes it clear that having faith does not make us immune from the trials that come as a result of living in a fallen world, but faith will help us maneuver our way through the obstacles that we encounter while on the journey of life. 

 

Faith assures us of God’s love and divine care.  Consider the following passages from Scripture:

 

  • Psalm 27:13-14, I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen thine heart; Wait, I say on the LORD!

 

  • Isaiah 43:1-3a, But now, thus says the LORD who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God; the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

 

Our faith in an all powerful God helps us to understand that although the going may be rough at times, He will see us through.  You may lose jobs and money; just make sure you don’t lose your faith.

 

Be not dismayed what-e’re betide, God will take care of you!

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

May 31, 2009

 

As a church family we belong to the Jericho Covenant Partnership under the umbrella of The Operation Andrew Group.  Operation Andrew is a coalition of numerous churches in the city of Nashville that is concerned about unity in the body of Christ that crosses denominational, racial, and ethnic lines.

 

The Jericho Covenant Partnership (JCP) involves four churches – The Church at Grace

Park (White House, TN), Hosea Community Church, Bethel Nazarene Church, and Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.  Our purpose for working together is to bring glory to God as we reach out to make a difference in the community. For those who don’t know, these four congregations represent two predominantly white and two predominantly black congregations of varying denominational ties.

 

We begin with a pulpit exchange this morning.  Please welcome and pray for Pastor Bob Cook of the Church at Grace Park as he will be preaching at Mt. Nebo.  I will be in White House, TN ministering to The Church at Grace Park.  This evening at 6:00 p.m. at Bethel Nazarene Church, we are sponsoring a two night revival with the theme, “Renewing the Hope, Sharing the Joy” from Ephesians 2:13-16.  Our speaker will be Dr. Forrest Harris, President of American Baptist College.  We have recruited Mr. James Scandrick to give leadership to the music ministry during this revival.  During the Sunday evening worship, our very own Michelle Williams will give a brief testimony concerning her faith experience as a quadriplegic.  Our Visions of Praise dancers will minister as well. The revival will conclude Monday evening with worship beginning at 7:00 p.m. – during that worship experience a member of Bethel Nazarene Church will share his experience of being delivered from substance abuse.

 

The first Saturday in June (June 6, 2009) beginning at 8:30 a.m., representatives of the four congregation will gather at Mt. Nebo in preparation for a “Kindness Blitz” throughout the community.  Some will disperse to Given’s Market to pass out doughnuts and water as well as offer prayer.  Some will go to the Laundromat down from Given’s Market putting quarters in the washing machines and dryers, as well as offering prayer.  Some will man a lawn crew that will go throughout the community cutting lawns that need attention.  Others will go throughout the neighborhood passing out 2 canned goods and light bulbs, as well as offering prayer.  Then some will help our youth with the free car wash that will take place in our parking lot on 25th and Clifton.  Prayer for those whose cars are being washed will be offered as well.

 

We will end with a community cookout that will take place in our parking lot next to Pearl Street.  Witnessing will take place as well as prayer for those who are in line to get food.  We need as many of our members who are willing and able to help in this endeavor.  Let us as the body of Christ come together with other Christ followers and have our hope renewed through the revival experience, then let us go out and share with others the joy that is ours through Jesus Christ.  In so doing, we give life to Ephesians 2:13ff – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Jesus…”

 

Please come, get your hope renewed through the worship experience and then go out and share the joy with others.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

May 24, 2009

 

Once again tragedy has struck our community.  At one high school graduation last week there was a tragic turn of events as one young man was murdered by another young man.  The shooting was believed to have been gang related.  According to the local paper, the victim nor the one who did the shooting were students of any high school, but nevertheless, the shooting has overshadowed the success of those students who received their diploma.

 

I received a call from someone who understandably was disturbed by the turn of events.  The question was put to me – “What can we the church family do to stem the tide of violence that is destroying our youth?”  I responded by saying that this is a complex issue that cannot easily be fixed.  It is going to have to involve parents teaching and nurturing their children starting when they’re born.  It will also involve some changes that need to be made in our current legal system.  As always, there is the spiritual side to all of this, being in a meaningful relationship with God will make a difference in one’s life.

 

But the question has lingered with me – What can we do?  Robert Franklin who currently serves as President of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA wrote a book a few years ago entitled – Crisis In The Village: Restoring Hope In African American Communities.  The book has four chapters.  Three of those chapters examines in-depth those institutions that are important to us as a people.  The fourth chapter goes beyond identifying the problems to offering some clear strategies that if followed, the author believes would make a distinct difference in our communities today.  Note the title of the chapters:

 

  • Chapter 1 – Families: A Crisis of Commitment
  • Chapter 2 – Churches: A Crises of Mission
  • Chapter 3 – Colleges: A Crisis of Moral Purpose
  • Chapter 4 – Strategies: Renewing the Village

 

I highly recommend the reading of this book.  We are but one congregation and we alone cannot solve the ills that surround us.  But I am of the belief that if we do our part, we can make a difference.  But we must do our part! 

 

It is my prayer that our faith in God will sustain us, encourage us, comfort us, and empower us.  Not only that, it is my prayer that our faith will motivate us to do more than just bemoan or complain about the way things are. 

 

As believers, we are called to be salt and light to this present world.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

May 17, 2009

 

How Can I say Thanks…?

 

Thank you are two simple words that carry a great deal of meaning.  But there are times when saying thank you just doesn’t seem like it’s enough.

 

For the past 16 years, I have been blessed, privileged to serve a wonderful congregation.  When I arrived on the scene May 2nd in 1993 with my family in tow to assume the role of “Pastor,” you as a congregation warmly received us showering us with love and doing everything possible to help make for a smooth transition. 

 

Sixteen years later, you continue to shower us with love.  During this time you have been with us as our children have grown up and assumed adult responsibilities.  When my mom decided to give up her home and move to Nashville, you warmly received her into the congregation.  As we have tried to be there for you, you have been there for us.

 

Once again, you are taking the time to express your thanks to my family and me for the years we’ve attempted to walk this faith journey with you.  We are truly thankful for you.  But as important as the words “thank you” are, saying “thank you” just doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  How can I say thanks:

 

  • For listening to me preach and teach for the past sixteen years?
  • For supporting ideas of doing ministry that I’m sure for some you it probably did not make much sense? (For some of you, maybe it still doesn’t J)
  • For sending me encouraging cards and notes?
  • For calling me just to let me know that you’re thinking about me?
  • For dealing with horrendous traffic as you drove to Murfreesboro to show your support in the home going of my father?  Not only were you with us then, you were also with us in the home going of my wife’s brother, her parents, and my brother.
  • For those many delicious meals and snacks you’ve blessed us with over the years?
  • For supplying me with my favorite soda?
  • For encouraging to me drink more water?
  • For encouraging me to take a vacation, get more rest?

 

Thank you are two simple words, but they do carry a lot of meaning.  Thank you Mt. Nebo, for all that you do for my family and me.  Thank you for loving me, in spite of me.  May our heavenly Father, richly reward you for setting some time aside to show your love and appreciation. 

 

It is a joy for us to share this journey with you.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

May 10, 2009

A Prayer for Mothers

(Source – Give Up This Day, Devotional Guide by Leroy Brownlow)

“Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.

                                                                                                                              Psalm 86:6

 

Our Father in Heaven, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, we thank You for mothers, the makers of humanity, the torch-bearers of life and the foundation of civilization.  We are grateful for our own dear mothers who bore us in travail and loved us all the more for the pain we brought; who suffered for us in body, mind, and soul; who gave us a confident security by their tireless sacrifices and undying devotion; for the agony with which they watched over us in sickness and nursed us back to health; for the sorrow that pierced their hearts when we were foolish; for the smiles of appreciation and joy that played across their faces when we achieved some little accomplishment; for the thousand little tasks they performed daily to make life better for us.

 

O, God of our being, we implore You to grant support, patience, and courage to deserving mothers that they may not break under their heavy burdens in life’s most strenuous tasks.  As each new day dawns, may faith undimmed and optimism unclouded shine anew in their deserving hearts.

 

And for us we pray, our Father, that the hallowed memories of such illustrious mothers may inspire us to nobler living and lift us to higher ground.  May we live the praises due them.  In Christ’s name.  Amen.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

May 3, 2009

 

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:18-19)

 

The words redeemed and redemption are words that we as Christians should be familiar with.  The word “redeemed” refers to those delivered, by being purchased from the bondage of sin and its consequences (Thompson Chain Reference Bible #2976). 

 

The word “redemption” means the process of buying back, ransoming, recovering something by paying a price; deliverance from the enslavement of sin and release to a new freedom in Jesus Christ (Thompson Chain Reference Bible #2978).

 

The Bible clearly teaches that those of us who have professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have been “redeemed”.  Our salvation came at a price.  Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins.  In doing so, He redeemed us from the penalty of sin which is eternal death.  I Corinthians 6:20 states that we were bought at a price.  If we were bought (redeemed, purchased) then that means we belong to Jesus Christ.

 

In I Peter, the believers (Christians) are being encouraged concerning their situation.  They were going through a difficult time and Peter seeks to strengthen them in their faith walk.  They were experiencing persecution because of their belief in Jesus and he simply reminds them of who they belong to.  We need to know and remember that our salvation did not come cheap.  Jesus shed His precious blood for us.  He became the perfect sacrifice for us.

 

If we know and remember this, it has tremendous implications for our lives:

 

  • God always takes care of those who belong to Him.
  • His strength is always available to us for every trial we face.
  • Those who have been redeemed by God, are to live a life that testifies to having been redeemed, delivered.

 

This can only happen if we know that we’ve been redeemed, remember at what price our redemption came, and surrender ourselves daily to Jesus who is our redeemer.

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 


April 19, 2009

 

“…Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

 

The disciples of Jesus were witnesses to two amazing things, (1) His resurrection, and (2) His ascension into heaven.  No doubt they were awe struck, they were probably groping for words to begin to describe their experience.  For a moment it seemed as though they were captivated by what they saw and as a result found themselves just looking up into heaven.

 

But their captivating stare did not last long.  An angel of the Lord questioned them as to why they were just standing there looking up into heaven.  Did they not realize that the same Jesus who went up into heaven would one day return?  There was work for them to do.

 

Last Sunday believers all over the world celebrated Resurrection Sunday.  We were particularly blessed in our local setting to have a “high time” in worship.  But let us be careful not to get so caught up in last Sunday’s worship that we fail to realize there is work to be done.  Our Lord did rise from the grave and He did return to heaven.  But just as He eventually returned to heaven, He will eventually come a second time.  Until He comes, we have work to do.  We, the church, have work to do.

 

The work that we are to do is not given to us as a puzzle to figure out, nor is it hidden in some strange language beyond interpretation.  Our instructions are very clear, to name a few:

 

  • Matthew 28:18-20 – Go, make disciples, teach…
  • Romans 6:4 – Walk in the newness of life, in other words live as people whose lives have been changed through our relationship with Jesus.
  • I Corinthians 13 – Love…
  • Colossians 3:17 – Whatever we do, do it in His name and for His glory.
  • I Timothy 4:12 – Be an example of a believer…
  • Titus 2:3 – Anticipate His return…

 

Resurrection Sunday was great, but we can’t linger there too long.  He’s coming back, but until He returns, we’ve got work to do.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

April 5, 2009

 

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14:1 NKJV

 

As we approach another Easter or Resurrection Sunday, we focus on the risen Savior and thevictory that is ours because of our faith in Him.

 

Some of course may question the thought of our being victorious given the current state of affairs.  But we who believe know that our victory is not dependent on our circumstances, but on whom we know.  We know Jesus.

 

In the fourteenth chapter of John, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure.  His date with the cross was approaching and He knew that His leaving would cause despair among them.  Jesus encourages them by telling them to not let their hearts be troubled; as they had faith in God they were to have faith in Him.  Of course, reading on in that chapter He assures them of His return.

 

As we are living in these troubled times, we can find comfort and hope in the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples.  We also should be encouraged through our faith.  Our belief is not in a system but in a person.  Not just any person, but Jesus Christ Himself.

 

If we know Him, then surely we are aware of His warning.  In John 16:33 Jesus warns us that in the world there will be tribulation.  We live in a fallen world and in a fallen world we encounter all sorts of trials in the course of living.  Jesus told us it would be this way so why are we so surprised at all of the turbulence we encounter in life?  Jesus also said, “Be of good cheer because He has overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Be encouraged – through Him we’ll find love, strength, hope, and yes, even victory.

 

If we know Him, then surely we are aware of His promises.  In chapters 14 and 16 of John, Jesus promised His disciples that He would not leave them alone.  He would send the Comforter to indwell them, live within them.  The Comforter, the Holy Spirit would give strength and guidance.  As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches that all who believe in Jesus are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).  Wow, that’s some kind of protection!

 

If we know Him, then surely we are aware of His presence.  After he had risen from the grave, defeating sin, death, and satan – Jesus declared in Matthew 28:18 – “All authority (power) has been given to Me in heaven and in earth.”  Then in verse 20 of that chapter Jesus says this to His disciples – “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”  Simply put, we are never alone while on this tedious journey.

 

If we know Him, then we can be encouraged and walk in victory…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

March 29, 2009

Without question we are living in a challenging time.  Since we last met your pastor received some disturbing news concerning institutions in this community that serves the needs of many – Bethlehem Centers of Nashville and Nashville General Hospital at Meharry.

 

Concerning Bethlehem Centers – I received communication from Nashville Minority Business Center that states the following – “The Center for Non-Profit Management completed a report on Bethlehem Centers of Nashville and its viability in the current economic environment.  The study found that BCN’s programs are in demand, that management and board have sound policies and are generating good, quality information needed for critical decision making but needs immediate financial support…The study also finds that ‘cutting cost is not an option’. What little bit of fat there might have been in the BCN budget has already been cut and further cuts will be at the program level…Bethlehem Centers has ministered to the Nashville community for 115 years and needs support from each church now…”

 

Concerning General Hospital at Meharry – this past Friday I attended a meeting sponsored by Concerned Clergy for Nashville General Hospital at Meharry.  A statement of support was issued and part of that statement includes the following – “Nashville General Hospital provides health care for all of our citizens regardless of their ability to pay.  Although the hospital serves 8% of all hospital patients in our city, it serves more than 30% of the uninsured patients in Nashville.  Nashville General Hospital incurred $70 million in expense for uncompensated care in 2008, yet only received $34 million from the Metropolitan Government as a subsidy for indigent care.”  We are convinced that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the private hospitals in our community to absorb this level of uncompensated care.”

 

The concern is that Metropolitan Government is not going to extend any more subsidies (financial support) to the Metropolitan General Hospital which will make it nearly impossible to remain an accredited institution.  It will cease to exist as a hospital and operate more as a clinic.  This will have a negative impact on Meharry Medical College as Meharry students are trained at General.  If Meharry has no accredited hospital where its students can train, it is my understanding that Meharry then will lose its accreditation as well.  What then will happen to the uninsured that depend on General Hospital for treatment?  Plans are underway to appeal to the federal government for assistance.

 

Obviously the needs are many.  But these are institutions that serve the community and they are also in our church community.  Prayer of course is in order, but there is more that can be done – March 31st from 5:30 p.m – 7:30 p.m. there will be a Community Rally for General Hospital at Watson Grove Baptist Church to further educate the community about plans being made to save General Hospital.

 

I know we can’t solve all the problems that surround us, but neither can we afford to be unconcerned…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

March 22, 2009

 

Every Sunday this month our Family Day Committee has diligently sought to recognize individuals who unselfishly give of themselves in helping us to be a better family of God.  Today, the “Family of the Year” will be honored.  Although family month is coming to a close, in no way does that mean that our concern for the family is limited to one month out of the year. 

 

In his book, Little House on the Freeway, Tim Kimmel lists 102 tidbits that are designed to strengthen families.  I share some of them with you now in the hope that as we go forward in life, families will be strengthened all to the glory of God:

 

  • Pay off your credit cards.
  • Establish a budget.
  • Take off ten pounds or accept where you are without any more complaints.
  • Eat dinner together as a family seven days in a row.
  • Take your wife on a dialogue date (no movie).
  • Read your kids a classic book.
  • Memorize the Twenty-third Psalm as a family.
  • Give each family member a hug for twenty-one days in a row (that’s how long it takes to develop a habit).
  • Pray for your spouse and children everyday.
  • Write each member of your family a letter sharing why you value them.
  • Make sure you have adequate life insurance on both you and your spouse.
  • Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.
  • Make sure your family car is safe (tires, brakes, etc.) and get it tuned up.
  • Praise your spouse and children – in their presence – to someone else.
  • Have your parents tell your children about life when they were young.

 

Obviously there are many more, but each of us who make up a family must do our part to ensure that our family is healthy and strong – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Good families don’t just happen, it takes intentional work by members of that family…

 

Let us not take life for granted, but let us strive for those things that make for peace…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

March 15, 2009

 

“But He said to them, where is your faith?”

                                                                                                               (Luke 8:25 NKJV)

 

The question in Luke 8:25 was asked by Jesus of His disciples?  They were crossing the sea on a boat when suddenly they were caught in a storm.  The storm was so fierce the disciples feared for their lives.  These were men who made their living on the sea therefore one could easily speculate that they were experienced fishermen who no doubt had encountered storms before.  But the severity of this storm had them fearing for their safety.

 

They went to Jesus who by the way was sleeping (in the midst of the storm), woke Him up and expressed their fear to Him.  By their composure Jesus could readily see they were in a state of near panic.  Scripture states that Jesus “rebuked the wind and the raging of the water…and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24).  He then turned His attention to His disciples and asked them – “Where is your faith?”

 

We are living in a “stormy” time.  The economy is wreaking havoc in the lives and plans of many.  The unemployment rate has reached levels not experienced since the Great Depression.  The forecast for the immediate future is more of the same.  Understandably people are fragile, worried about the future.  But imagine if you will Jesus saying to us today – “Where is your faith?”

 

We do profess faith in Jesus don’t we?  That being the case have we forgotten who He is?  What He is capable of doing?  As students of Scripture we learn that Jesus has power over demons, sickness, nature – the list is endless.  Why then in this time of unrest should we allow ourselves to be overcome with fear and anxiety?  Faith simply means trusting; believing and we readily acknowledge that our faith is in Jesus.

 

As students of Scripture who acknowledge faith in Jesus, we will find help in these distressing times that will allow us to be living witnesses to others of what our Lord is able to do.  If we study and adhere to the principles found in Scripture, our faith will help us concerning:

 

  • Focus and the benefits of being focused – Isaiah 26:3-4.
  • Not being overcome with anxiety or worry – Matthew 6:25-34.
  • Experiencing a peace that passes understanding – Philippians 4:6-7.
  • Having hope that our needs will be provided – Philippians 4:19.

 

Of course there is much more that faith will provide for us to help us live life victoriously, even in times like these.   Imagine if you will Jesus saying to us – “Where is your faith?”

 

Be not dismayed, what-e’re betide, God will take care of you…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

March 08, 2009

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

(Colossians 2:6)

 

The Word In Life Study Bible has an interesting commentary on the verse above, I share it with you now in the hope that you (we) will be able to manifest Christ in our daily living:

 

Paul urged the Colossians to follow the pattern of Christ (Col. 2:6).  But what does that pattern look like?  In Philippians and Colossians, Paul paints two contrasting but complimentary portraits of the Lord…both are crucial when it comes to living out the faith.  Notice how Jesus modeled two styles of living and what that means for those of us who follow Christ today:

 

            TWO WAYS JESUS IS PORTRAYED BY PAUL

Christ the Lord: Power Over All

Christ the Servant: Lowest of the Lowly

As portrayed in Colossians, especially 1:15-20

As portrayed in Philippians, especially 2:5-11

Main features: Christ is…

  • the ruler of the universe.
  • the firstborn of creation.
  • the bodily expression of God.
  • the One who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth.
  • the cosmic Christ who confronts and exposes every opposing principality and power.

Main features: Christ is…

  • the model of humility, of “downward mobility.”
  • the model of servant-leadership.
  • the obedient Son who surrenders His power in order to accomplish His task among and on behalf of the powerless.
  • the One who dies in order to save.

Tends to produce a public faith that…is concerned with human rights, feeding the hungry, assisting the poor, and working on community development…Christ’s people pay attention to the social implications of the gospel.

 

Tends to produce a private faith that…is concerned with personal holiness, spiritual disciplines, individual growth, and one-on-one evangelism.  Because Christ modeled servanthood, His people are called to put the interests of others ahead of their own.  They especially pay attention to relationships and the personal inner needs of people.

Examples today:

  • Running for public office.
  • Challenging businesses when they appear to have an adverse effect on people.
  • Serving meals to the homeless.
  • Advising public officials on matter of public policy.
  • Learning to initiate and manage institutional change.
  • Voting.

Examples today:

  • Bible study.
  • Friendship evangelism.
  • Missions.
  • Ministries that strengthen marriages and home life.
  • Support groups.
  • Counseling.
  • Prayer.

 

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

February 15, 2009

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise…”

                                                                                                                      Ephesians 5:15

 

Surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about being a fool or living foolishly.  Generally speaking, Holman’s Bible Dictionary says that the words fool, foolishness, and folly:

 

Are translations of several uncomplimentary words which appear approximately 360 times throughout the Old and New Testaments to describe unwise and ungodly people.  The words are especially predominant in the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament.  Persons who do not possess wisdom are called “fools”; their behavior is described as “folly.”  The picture which emerges from the biblical material is quite simple: folly is the opposite of wisdom, and a fool is the opposite of a wise person.  Both wisdom and folly are depicted as philosophies or perspectives on life.  Wisdom leads to victory, folly to defeat…the foolish person is the one who is thoughtless, self-centered, and obviously indifferent to God.”

 

 

In Ephesians 5:15 the apostle Paul is encouraging us to walk circumspectly (with understanding), not as fools, but as wise.  In verse 16 he says that the times are evil.  The encouragement to walk circumspectly is encouragement that transcends time.  Take the following for example:

 

  • Husbands and wives who do not work together in love will not have a home characterized by peace, love, and understanding.
  • Parents who don’t spend “quality” time with their children are more likely to struggle in relationship as the children grow older.
  • Individuals who spend carelessly without talking into consideration a rainy day will struggle when rainy days come, and they will come.
  • Children who are disobedient to parents are setting themselves up for a rough road ahead.
  • Not learning from mistakes leads only to repeating the mistake again.
  • Living life apart from God, disregarding His principles leads ultimately to failure.

 

A lot of heartaches can be avoided if people will only live wisely rather than foolishly.

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

February 8, 2009

 

As we live in these challenging times I pray that we realize we are never alone.  The Lord is ever with us regardless of our circumstances.  In his devotional book, Give Us This Day, Leroy Brownlow wrote the following:

 

Francis Lytle was born at Kelso, Ireland, 1793.  His father died when he was a child, and he went with his mother to live in Dublin.  There he was educated.  At age twenty-two he answered the call for ministerial services.

 

In 1819 he went to Lymington where he overtaxed his strength and began to develop tuberculosis.  Hoping to regain his health, he accepted the fisherman’s parish of Brixhamon-Sea.  But the tuberculosis continued to develop.

 

In the late summer of 1847 his doctors decided that he should give up all work and spend the winters in southern France, for he was slowly getting weaker and weaker.  Thus arrangements were quickly made.  The last Sunday came and in emotional language he bid his congregation farewell.  Among the simple fisher-folk there was scarcely a dry eye.  Later he strolled into the garden and sat down on a bank overlooking Tarbay, the sea below, the sky above, some clouds of night in the distance.  He asked to leave something to help humanity.  Then he went indoors, suffering the anguish of leaving a people he loved, and wrote:

 

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide;

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

 

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me!

 

The next morning he left for France and died there less than three months later, but the hymn he wrote will never die.

 

And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

February 1, 2009

 

“For the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.”  (Joshua 24:17)

 

            The above verse is the response of the children of Israel to Joshua when he challenged them to choose to serve the Lord or idol gods (verse 15).  Of course they answered correctly by saying that they would serve the LORD who had done so much for them.  Unfortunately, they did not keep their word and suffered greatly for it.

 

            The answer they gave to Joshua is significant for us today for we can answer in a similar manner.  Allow me to paraphrase the verse:

 

“For the LORD our God is He who brought our forefathers and some of us out of the woes of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws.  In spite of the obstacles placed in our path, He did many wonderful works.  He made a way out of no way.  While food may have been scarce at times, we always had enough.  Money may have been short at times, but we were never without a roof over our heads.  There were many who tried to keep us back, but in spite of our haters, God brought us through and today, as a people we can boast of having one of our own occupy the highest office in the land.  God has preserved us.”

 

            If we would just take the time to reflect over the goodness of God, we would not allow the current challenges of these times to rob us of confidence in what God is able to do.  God preserves His children, His saints.  To say that God preserves is the same as saying that God takes care of those who are His.  God takes care of…

 

            What more does God have to do to prove His love and concern for us?  He came in the person of Jesus Christ and paid the ultimate price for our well being.  Once again He proved His power by rising from the dead and declaring “all power in heaven and earth is in His hands” (Matthew 28:18).  Jesus taught that worry should never consume us for if God takes care of the sparrows, He surely will take care of us seeing that we are of more value than the sparrows (Matthew 6:26).

 

            In the midst of these challenging times, let us remember the Lord our God and understand that He who has brought us a mighty long ways is able to preserve us, even now.

 

Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you…

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

 

January 25, 2009

 

            On January 20, 2009, I watched and listened intently as President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.  Words cannot begin to express the range of emotions and thoughts expressed by millions upon millions as history was made.

 

            President Obama gave a speech that I thought was realistic and challenging to all of us as we go forth.  Consider this excerpt from his speech:

 

“Our challenges may be new.  The instruments with which we meet them may be new.  But those values upon which our success depends – honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old.  These things are true.  They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.  What is demanded then is a return to these truths.  What is required of us is a new era of responsibility – a recognition on the part of every American, that we have a duty to our ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather gladly seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.  This is the price and the promise of citizenship.”

 

            President Obama clearly pointed out those age old values that work and the fact that every citizen must do his or her part in the rebuilding of America.  He reminded us that citizenship comes with a cost.

 

            What President Obama said as it relates to being citizens of America can also be applied to our role as citizens of another kingdom.  We must be honest, we must work hard, we must be courageous, we must act fairly, have tolerance for each other, be curious of what God wants of us, and remain loyal to our Savior Jesus Christ.  We must remember God always does His part, we must do ours.

 

            Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins assuring us of eternal life in His heavenly kingdom.  As we make our journey from earth to glory, let us commit ourselves to being the church that He is well pleased with.  Let us as a church be determined that we are going to do our part in making a difference in this country, in this world – all to the glory of God.

 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)

 

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

January 18, 2009

 

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16 NKJV)

 

            It seems as though life is becoming more and more complicated.  Social issues are multiplying.  Advances in technology and science are “out of this world.”  Politics becomes more complex everyday.  Relationships and communities are challenging.  World peace is elusive.  Violence is no respector of person, age, or status…

 

            Could it be that life becomes more complicated when life is not lived in accordance with God’s plans?  The book of Colossians is one that promotes the deity of Jesus during a time when knowledge was being pushed as the way to having a meaningful existence with God.  In essence, knowledge was being promoted as a god in itself. 

 

            To be sure, the Bible promotes being knowledgeable.  There are many passages that lift up the benefits of knowledge, but the knowledge the Bible promotes always leads us closer to God, makes us more aware of God.  That knowledge does not make us equal with God.

 

            In this modern age in which we live people wrestle with an age old problem – the meaning of life.  Many still ponder “Why on earth am I here?”  Colossians 1:16 answers that question – “All things were created through Him and for Him.”  All things – this is inclusive of humans.  We were created for Him, to be in relationship with Him.

 

            When we live our lives in light of that knowledge, life really becomes less complicated.  We understand that it’s not about us but all about Him.  Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, makes this comment – “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.  It’s greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.  If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.  You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.”

 

            As we continue our journey through 2009, let us remember what Colossians 1:16 teaches – “All things were created through Him and for Him.”  As we walk in relationship with God, life for us can have more meaning.  The writer of Ecclesiastes 12:13 says it well, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”

 
  A Thought From Pastor Bryson  
 

January 11, 2009

 

            The times we are living in do not seem to offer much hope for a prosperous journey as we make our way through 2009.  But as we are a people of faith, we must draw hope not from current events, but from what the Word of God teaches us.

 

            It would be helpful to think of God’s Word as being an oasis in the midst of drought or scarcity.  Psalms 112 is a passage that inspires hope and comfort.  Read what the Psalmist says:

  1. Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments.
  1. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.
  1. Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever.
  1. Unto the upright there arises light in darkness; He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous.
  1. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.
  1. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
  1. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
  1. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
  1. He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor.
  1. The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked will perish.

As we are living in these challenging times, let us heed what the Word of God is saying

to us.  If we fear the LORD, if we delight greatly in His commandments, if we are righteous (commit ourselves to doing what is right), if we are generous to those who are less fortunate, then God says that man or person is blessed, happy.

            Simply put, the key to living a good life in times like these is to walk in a relationship with God – praising Him, honoring Him, and obeying Him.

 
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