Early Expectations

The month of March seems to usher in our early expectations of spring and summer. We begin to look forward to our vacations, traveling, visiting family and fellowship! Those of us who experience “cabin fever” of the winter we are excited to get back outside with family, friends and our community. The City of Beckley has done an outstanding job planning events nearly every weekend. There are numerous opportunities to take advantage of fellowship. But what does that word mean for a Christian? What’s the biblical view of “fellowship” and how are we to interact with those outside of this “fellowship”?

According to the New American Standard Bible translation the first time we see a Hebrew word for “fellowship” is Psalm 55:14, “We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God in the throng.” David is writing about someone who has turned against him. Not a stranger, not an enemy, David has experienced deceit from someone he had fellowship with. David refers to this person as a friend, companion, a man his equal. This is obviously a heartbreaking experience for David or anyone else who may have experienced this type of destruction, but the focus here is on the “fellowship” term. It’s סוֹד/cowd—council, assembly, circle of friends. There is also a meaning of intimacy. It’s rooted meaning is in the word yacad, which refers to the laying of a foundation. It’s the idea of building our relationships on a firm foundation.

We then see our first New Testament use in Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This Koine Greek word is κοινωνία/koinōnia—fellowship, association, communion. This is obviously connected to the birth of the church. The early church here is exercising absolute “fellowship”, teaching/learning, breaking bread, and prayer. “Christian fellowship, then, is the mutually beneficial relationship between Christians, who can’t have the identical relationship with those outside the faith.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-fellowship.html)

With March being around the corner and the Spring plans are being made, be on guard with where and with whom you fellowship. The world system belongs to Satan, but the Universal Church belongs to God. Seek out your brothers and sisters in Christ across our communities, state, country and world. Rejoice and fellowship together. Remind each other of that common shared unity, for we are all partakers of the Divine, “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

February is Here!

That means all of the husbands and boyfriends will wait until the 13th to stand in the card aisle together and aimlessly look for that one special card that reminds those wonderful women in their lives of how lucky they are to have them. It’s that traditional Valentine’s Day message that shows those we love how much we actually love them. But, does that identify the love we have for our wives/husbands/girlfriends/boyfriends? I hope you don’t spend 365 days a year with your loved ones and only select one day to express your love for them.

See, in John 13:34-35, Jesus tells his disciples, “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This love that Jesus is talking about here isn’t that deep intimate love that we may feel or show with our spouses, but it is a deep respect or fondness of one another. In the Greek it’s ἀγαπάω/agapaō—of persons; to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. It’s through respect and humility that we treat each other with love and kindness. All of these things we must learn to develop and show as Christians. It’s an attitude that we raise our kids with in the hopes that they also will show the same to those around them.

I wonder how many people are turned off from hearing the Gospel message based on their observations of how we treat one another? Can we challenge ourselves to show hospitality and encouragement to our church family? Can we do some introspection of our personal walk and devote some effort to build upon these wonderful qualities?

As your Pastor, I want to challenge you all to make a change this year. Within our church we have many areas of need and many more areas of opportunities to serve. Please don’t wait to be asked to be involved, see an area and feel a tug, then make a move to commit. Our church environment is only as healthy as your personal walk. Take time to ask yourself what you can do to show love within First Baptist Church. Blessings

In Christ, Pastor Bryan W. Knight

Happy New Year, FBC!

by Pastor Bryan Knight

We will all feel an atmosphere of newness, new number, new roles at church. Some will seek a n new start or what many will call, a new year’s resolution. Have you ever stopped to ask what a new ye year resolution is? Many sources mention its beginnings with the Babylonians thus being adopted by the Romans. And it seems with the Babylonians and Romans that many debts were settled during this time. Now that’s a nice thought. Having any type of debt settled will make anyone excited about the New Year.

The origins of the word “resolution” as applied to our current usage and understanding is slightly comical. According to www.etymonline.com, “late 14c., resolucioun, “a breaking or reducing into parts; process of breaking up, dissolution,” from Old French resolution (14c.) and directly from Latin resolutionem (nominative resolutio) “process of reducing things into simpler forms,” noun of action from past participle stem of resolvere “to loosen”. Well, this sounds like what most folks do with their new lofty goals, they dissolve them.

Around a hundred years later that changed, “In mid-15c. it also meant “frame of mind,” often implying a pious or moral determination. By 1580s as “a statement upon some matter;” hence “formal decision or expression of a meeting or assembly,” c. 1600. New Year’s resolution in reference to a specific intention to better oneself is from at least the 1780s, and through 19c. they generally were of a pious nature.” Now this definition makes more sense. I see nothing wrong with a person pursuing to better themselves.

Many will make resolutions to promote their health, such as diet, physical fitness etc. Most will neglect their spiritual growth, while suggesting they will grow closer to God. 1 Timothy 4:7b-10, “… Rather, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily training is just slightly beneficial, but godliness is beneficial for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all mankind, especially of believers.”

If we apply this to the reality of God/YHWH and the scriptures, we see the debt of sin. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, …”, we have inherited the sin nature. We all owe a debt to God. This debt isn’t paid once a year nor during any new year or change of a number. Our debt was paid by Christ, as you well know. Promoting the Great Commission must be at the core of our new goals! Not just once a year, but daily! For each day, each breath is a blessing and a new opportunity to present the Gospel message of Christ. Create a perpetual New Day’s Resolution attached to Matthew 28.

It’s Christmas Time Again

It’s Christmas time again and what a blessed time it is. According to Luke 2:14 God is pleased with men and peace has been offered. Luke 2:13-14, “13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’” That peace is in the name Jesus Christ. Isaiah 7:14 tells us, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” And this prophecy is fulfilled with the acknowledgment of Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

עִמָּנוּאֵל/`Immanuw’el—Immanuel = “God with us” or “with us is God”. Symbolic and prophetic name of the Messiah, the Christ, prophesying that He would be born of a virgin and would be ‘God with us’. (Hebrew)

Ἐμμανουήλ/Emmanouēl—Emmanuel = “God with us”. The title applied to the Messiah, born of the virgin, Mt 1:23, Is. 7:14, because Jesus was God united with man, and showed that God was dwelling with man. (Koine Greek)

Remember how blessed you are this Xmas (Christmas) season as a Xian (Christian) and spread the “PEACE” of Xmas through sharing, with “LOVE”, that Ἰησοῦ (Jesus/Iēsous) Χριστός (Christ/Christos: Koine Greek) is the giver of life, the author of peace and the epitome of love. We all know the world will attempt to reject and remove Christ from any area, but instead of driving a wedge of dissension between them and the Gospel say, “Thank you for being more traditional than myself and wishing a Merry Xmas by using the original Greek terminology because you can’t spell Christ in the Greek without an ‘X’. And according to Indiana Jones, “X marks the spot.” In this case “X” marks the spot of Salvation and Peace with God/YHWH/יְהֹוָה.

Christmas Blessings! Pastor Bryan

Happy Thanksgiving, Church Family

Without a doubt, if I were to ask you all to list the many ways in which God has blessed you this year, your lists of blessings would be long. The question concerning these blessings is, “Are we showing God what our thankfulness look like?” Several of you may reply that you thank Him every day, but that’s not the question. The question is, “Are we showing God what our thankfulness looks like?”

Abundant blessings can sometimes cause a case of complacency. It’s that moment when we settle into our secure routine life where we don’t allow disruptions or interferences. Most pastors are concerned with how quickly young Christians grow, but wonder how many mature Christians have stopped growing. Shepherds love to observe young Christians when they are bold and expressive about what they’ve just experienced, but it’s the mature Christian that has forgotten that thankful feeling. So how do we express our thankfulness to God outwardly? It’s what I call God’s “Truffle of Stewardship”.

Romans 12:1-2, “1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul sums up our roles as Christians in these two verses. We are to pursue this renewal of our minds! Renewal—ἀνακαίνωσις—anakainōsis—a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better. This word “renewing” leads us directly into God’s will for our individual lives, and it’s good, acceptable and perfect. This renewal model deserves thankfulness to God.

There are two wonderful areas where thankfulness is outwardly expressed toward God. In Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Church, the only way to express biblical thankfulness is to “enter His gates” and “called in one body”, this is developed through church fellowship!

Being stewards of God in the body of Christ fulfills the good, acceptable and perfect Will of God. This area of stewardship is an all-encompassing church wide response. Only then are we able to act upon our individual stewardship and apply them into our church body. This is all driven by the Holy Spirit compelling us to listen to Him and act upon His convictions.

In conclusion, we are approaching a new year in our church administration. In order to fulfill our Vision/Mission of Preaching, Teaching and Reaching our church family must fill roles/duties/responsibilities. I’m asking you to please pray about how God can use you and how you can get plugged into our mission. Church unity inside the walls must be pursued in order to impact the community outside the walls. Be thankful for opportunity to use your gifts. Be thankful God has allowed us to have a base to prepare.

The Beginning and the End

For many, the month of October isn’t the beginning of, well, much of anything, but the end of several things. It marks the dwindling sunlight with shorter days, the end of the harvest, the end of warm weather and the end of that feeling in the air, the feel of summer. These feelings are only regional for the Northern Hemisphere because this is the beginning of early autumn. It is also the celebration of a new year according to the Jewish calendar (Sept/Oct; Leviticus 23:23-32). In fact, there are three festivals celebrated during this time in Judaism, the Feast of Trumpets (Jewish New Year; Rosh Hashanah Numbers 29:1-6); the Feast of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur Leviticus 23:26-32) and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering Nehemiah 8:13-18).

So why do so many look at October with disdain or depression? My dad never looked at this time of the year that way. We would enjoy rides through the country fascinated at the colors of the changing leaves. This was also time for my dad’s ability to prepare his signature pickled corn in an old-fashioned crock. There was another practical reason dad enjoyed this time of year, long sleeves. This would mark the end of sweating for the Knight generation. We could finally walk outside without a sweat towel. It’s this idea of things ending that October ushers in that holiday which for some is marked with darkness and creepy things, Halloween!

Where did this celebration of the dead come from? How should a Christian approach such a celebration supposedly rooted in paganism? We must look a little closer to the origin and then consider our own hearts in the matter of the celebration. We must enter the land of Ireland/Scotland.

Tradition holds that a group known as the Gaelic’s lived in this area and celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. Often celebrated on October 31st and November 1st. Samhain is believed to have been rooted in Celtic paganism and is mentioned in Irish literature and mythology. The early customs were to gather all resources to close proximity. They would choose which livestock to consume for food over the winter and gather the dead crops in piles to be burned. Some of these piles were very large and considered bonfires that accompanied rituals. But this is not exactly where Halloween spawned. The Romans celebrated Lemuria, a feast where they would attempt to rid their homes of fearful ghosts on May 13th. According to the promptings of Pope Gregory III (731-741; most powerful/influential pope in history) the feast of All Hallows’ day was moved from May 13th to November 1st in an effort to overlap two pagan/false religion festivals. This ultimatly led to the currently known holiday of Halloween.

So how are Christians to approach this festival/holiday? I can’t help but think of Romans chapter 14 where we are presented with the Law of Liberty and the Law of Love. Christians understand God to be sovereign and He alone has allowed things to come into being, including Halloween. However, in light of God’s Word in Romans 14 we should not provoke our brothers and sisters who view this holiday to be a stumbling block to participate. Allow those who wish to refrain to refrain, but for those that wish to participate, as your shepherd, I only ask one thing, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. That being said, we should understand that God alone is LORD and no other. Regardless if Halloween has roots in a pagan holiday, we should avoid applying validity to false worship, for their bonfires and festival rituals meant nothing, because they were dedicated to “nothing”. Only God handed them over to their depravity.

On Halloween October 31, 2023 celebrate in the manner you see fit according to your conscience and convictions in line with God’s Word. Celebrate five-hundred-five years ago in history, on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses upon the annals of Christendom and dress up in costumes with the intent of sharing Jesus. We are to be the light and salt of the world, so dress up as a candle, dress up as a Maglite, dress up as a container of Morton Salt, you can also dress up as dry bones come to life from Ezekiel 37:1-14. Go Trick-or-Treating with the Gospel on the tip of your tongue, but before you go ask where your heart is at on the matter.

Blessings In Christ, Pastor Bryan W. Knight

God’s Sovereign Hand and Our Cycles of Life

by Pastor Bryan Knight

Growing up around my dad and his dad, I remember hearing them speak of Autumn being their favorite time of the year. As a child I was confused as to why, to us kids it was a return to the school year, colder weather and the beginning of the end of the leaves. Now, I know why Autumn was their favorite. Just like my dad and his dad I sweat very easily in any situation where I’m exerting myself. When I sweat I grow agitated. It’s in these moments I also laugh as I remember my dad working on the house and sweat would drip from his nose and fall on whatever he was working on. I remember cutting wood with my grandpa and seeing the same image, but grandpa always carried a bandana in his back pocket for the sweat.

When I see the seasons begin to change I think of Ecclesiastes 3, I’m sure you do too. In verse 1 we read, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Whether you choose to use appointed time or season we understand that life comes in cycles or periods. When I was the kid cycle I played and helped my dad and grandpa, but I don’t remember paying much attention to sweating like them. Now, in my appointed time of adulthood I understand fully the misery brought on by sweat and just like my grandpa I have my own sweat towel!

But this article isn’t about the sweat of our brows, it’s about God’s sovereign hand involved in our cycles of life. You see verse one is aided by verse 11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” We understand with this verse that though things may come to an end it is because another “thing”, appointed time/season is about to start. Just as there are cycles in our personal lives, there are cycles at every level, up to and including God’s design of the universe. I write this article to remind us all that though things may end, they end in order to allow other things to begin. So, the end of an appointed time also means the beginning of an appointed time.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace.”

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war has actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” March 23, 1775; A speech by Patrick Henry made at the Second Virginia Convention at St. Johns Church in Richmond, Virginia.

I remember learning of Patrick Henry in school. As a kid I often wondered what was special about liberty. I also often wondered why Patrick Henry chose not to use the term/idea of “freedom”. It honestly wasn’t until within the last few years that I revisited these ponderings, but with a new understanding from a biblical perspective. First, let’s define the two terms. Liberty—the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. Freedom—the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

According to The Jefferson Perceptive: Commentary on Today’s Social and Political Issues

Based on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson (http://eyler.freeservers.com/JeffPers/jefpco26.htm) “One should distinguish between the terms ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty.’ Speaking generally, Freedom usually means to be free from something, whereas Liberty usually means to be free to do something, although both refer to the quality or state of being free. Jefferson’s use of the terms almost always reflected those meanings. Thus, he never spoke of freedom as a right, though liberty is listed in the Declaration as one of our inalienable rights.”

It seems to me that Liberty encompasses Freedom. Regarding scripture, both words/concepts are used in Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18. Yes, Jesus is quoting the scroll of Isaiah in Luke 4, but Hebrew doesn’t always equal Greek, and English, well I’ll behave myself. We get a fuller understanding for what Christ did on the Cross for us in Romans 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” We have been “freed” from sin, “freed” from bondage through the power of Christ on the Cross. With this freedom through Christ we can now approach God’s throne with “Liberty”! Encompassing the Christ relationship is a freedom to approach the Throne of Grace with Liberty, that is, without FEAR of judgment from God’s Wrath.

In conclusion, Jude vs24-25, “24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

In Christ,
Pastor Bryan


Joshua 2:11 Rahab Shelters Spies

When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

1 Samuel 4:9 Philistines Take the Ark in Victory

Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”

The two passages above are two separate usages of the word “courage” in our English language, but the Hebrew words are different and the contexts are different. Joshua 2:11 is from the perspective of an individual outside of fellowship with YHWH hearing of the Great deeds of YHWH and the other is reminding those that walk with YHWH also have the One True God. So what can we learn from these two verses in the context and the source thereof?

Joshua 2:11 the word translated here for courage is רוּחַ/ruwach—used 378 times in the Hebrew text. 232 times it has been translated into Spirit/spirit. This is the same exact word used in Genesis 1:2, “…And the Spirit of God moved upon the waters.” It is translated “courage” once! Rahab uses this word to explain to the two spies that absolutely no courage/spirit could be found in any man because of them. In other words, she confessed her realization that their God, YHWH is the one true God, the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that exists; for without the ruwach/Spirit of YHWH there is nothing else that could remain in anyone, for they are all false gods.

Which brings us to 1 Samuel 4:9, “Take courage”/חָזַק/chazaq—this word is used 290 times, strong 48 times; repair 47 times; hold 37 times; strengthened 28 times; strengthen 14 times. In the context of 1 Samuel it serves as a reminder of the strength of God and with whom He supports, at least to those that have fellowship with Him. Since they are serving the One True God they must remind themselves of His strength thus in turn have strength also!

Two separate uses of the English word “courage.” What is the take away?

First, if your trust, courage, hope and faith are placed into anything other than YHWH, then you actually have no trust, courage, hope and faith in you at all. It’s all vain and fruitless.

Second, if you place your trust, courage, hope and faith in God/YHWH you must remind yourselves of His promises. Deuteronomy 31:6, “6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Blessings! Pastor Bryan

Spring Cleaning

by Pastor Bryan

Spring Cleaning!! It’s that time of year again, when we turn the furnace off and open the windows to the cool night air and the sound of the frogs singing. It’s also that time of year where we begin to clean out our houses and storage buildings. Have we ever thought about why it’s important to take care of what we’ve been blessed with? Have we ever thought about how our belongings are actually attached to God and simply on loan to us? Where does this idea of “stewardship” begin and end? Let’s start with scripture.

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If we begin here, we obviously understand that all of creation belongs to God. Anything man has made or created must first start with raw minerals that are already in existence. Man has never created anything that didn’t start with something already in existence. Only God has. That being said, all that we own, including our bodies, is property of God. Shouldn’t that elevate our habits of caring?

Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” Wow, we read here that man has been created with a purpose, Christians should be leading by example in how we handle what we are surrounded by. If we begin with the understand that “all” things belong to God and then He created man to have dominion over His belongings, why have we not shown more care for them? Much less, how have we not shown this same care for our basic blessings?

“The biblical doctrine of stewardship defines a man’s relationship to God. It identifies God as owner and man as manager. God makes man His co-worker in administering all aspects of our life. The apostle Paul explains it best by saying, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Starting with this concept, we are then able to accurately view and correctly value not only our possessions, but, more importantly, human life itself. In essence, stewardship defines our purpose in this world as assigned to us by God Himself. It is our divinely given opportunity to join with God in His worldwide and eternal redemptive movement (Matthew 28:19-20). Stewardship is not God taking something from us; it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people.”

We must then ask ourselves an introspective question, am I the lord of my life or is Christ the Lord of my life? What am I dedicating to God? Does God get every aspect of my life or is He guiding my life’s decisions? Do I plan around God’s sovereignty or do I tithe, offer, service when it’s convenient to place Him in the gaps of my weekly schedule?

Don’t just give God 10% of what’s left of yourself, give Him 10% of what we begin with. He rejoices in the condition of our hearts, not with what is given.