This Week at Bristol . . . "Happy Birthday"

Everyone who attends worship this Sunday has one thing in common (probably several things), but one thing in particular - a birthday.
Regardless of your age, everyone has a birthday and most people love to celebrate their birthday. There is something special about the cake, ice cream, and presents (who could forget the presents?), and friends. One day we look forward to during the calendar year is our birthday - even though you are getting older by the year.
This Sunday at Bristol we will talk about a very special birthday that I would guess no one ever talks about - maybe no one ever thought it existed. I am talking about the birthday of the Church (that is CHURCH with a capital C).
The seventh Sunday following Easter is called “Pentecost Sunday” because this is the day the Church was born. We read about this in Acts 2.
Some of the last words Jesus said to His disciples were for them to remain in Jerusalem after He returned to heaven because a special gift would be given. They did as Jesus said and, as He promised, the Holy Spirit came.
But what really happened on the Day of Pentecost - the day the Church was born? Dr. Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, says that those early disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and the outcome was that they became bold witnesses for their Lord. In fact such bold witnesses that 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ in one gathering!
The Holy Spirit fills us just as He did those first centuries followers. And just as He fills us, we then are empowered to do what Jesus said needed to be done (Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8).
The world changed after the Day of Pentecost, that special visitation of the Holy Spirit, and the world would never be the same again. Jesus said that we are to be “salt” and “light” - we are to be change agents - in a world that needs to be changed.
I do hope you will come this Sunday as we learn more about this special day called the Day of Pentecost.
You are deeply loved.
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "Ruth - A Love Story for Today"

Charles Swindoll states that the Book of Ruth was written from Naomi’s perspective (most scholars believe that Samuel actually penned this short Old Testament book). Every event in the story relates back to her - the death of her husband, the deaths of her two sons, her daughters-in-law, her return to Bethlehem, her God, her close relative, her land to sell, and her future generations.
Naomi has been compared to a female Job. Like the biblical Job, she lost everything - home, husband, sons and even more than Job, her livelihood. Widows had no standing in ancient Israel.
Ruth embodied loyal love (the theme of the Book of Ruth). Her moving vow of loyalty is found in Ruth 1:16-17. The Book of Ruth reveals how encompassing is God’s grace - He accepted Ruth, even though she was from a despised people - the Moabites - into His chosen people and honored her with a role in continuing the family line into which King David, and later His Son, Jesus, would be born (check out the geneology in Matthew 1).
What is the big idea of the story? I think it is this: Obedience in everyday life pleases God and obedience is all over the pages of this love story. For example, Ruth’s sacrifice and hard work to provide for Naomi reflected God’s love. Boaz’s loyalty to his relatives reflected God’s faithfulness. Naomi’s plan for Ruth’s future reflected selfless love.
The Book of Ruth showed the Israelites the blessings that obedience to their loving and faithful God could bring. Even with their cycle of obedience, disobedience again and again, God still responds to His people in love.
How do I apply the truths from this Old Testament story that came along at a time of irresponsible living in Israel’s history? The Lord faithfully calls His people back to a greater responsibility and faithfulness to Him (remember this is the time of the judges - read Judges 21:25) regardless of the the time in history in which we live. This call applies just as clearly to us today.
Like the characters in the Book of Ruth, we are called to respond to that divine grace with faithful obedience in spite of the godless culture in which we live. We belong to a loving, faithful, and powerful God who has never failed to care and provide for His children - not then and certainly not now!
This week we will lift lessons contained in these four chapters. Come and grow with others and myself as we gather together this Sunday!
You are truly loved!
Pastor Terry

This Week at Bristol . . . "The Evolution of Trust"

This Sunday we rejoin our current series, “Being Real in an Unreal World,” as we look at the second of our five Old Testament Bible characters. Today we join Gideon (Judges 6-8) and the lessons he teaches us through his personal experience. 
Judges 21:25 ends with these melancholy words, “In those days Israel had no king; Everyone did as he saw fit.” After years of leadership under Moses and Joshua, a new era begins for Israel. The land has been claimed and the Jews begin to settle down. But there is no single and unifying leader other than judges who would rule for a short time. Thus the words of Judges 21:25.
Of the fifteen judges, the first four were Godly, beginning with Samuel, but from the time of Gideon, the leaders began to decay until the fifteenth judge, Samson, who is the most unspiritual of them all (we will study him in a few weeks). Because the nation wanted freedom from the enemy without being dedicated to God, they did not deserve Godly leaders. As Warren Wiersbe says, “Sometimes God gives the people exactly what they ask for.”
The days in which Gideon was living were difficult days. The nation of Israel was annually under siege by the marauding Midianites - a nomadic people. Unrest was prevalent. It was so bad that people had abandoned their homes and were living in caves.

Gideon was the fifth judge. We discover in Judges 6-8 that he eventually learned that if he obeyed the Lord, even with some fear in his heart, the Lord would be with him and his faith would grow. God did something amazing with an army of three hundred people (started out as an army of 32,000) defeating an army of 135,000 - most spectacular is that the weapons for the Israeli army were trumpets, empty jars and torches. When God is with you, it makes no difference the strength of the enemy. This was one of the many lessons Gideon learned.
I wish the story had a fairy tale, “Happily ever after,” ending, but it does not. Unfortunately Gideon is an example of the phrase, “Win the battle, but lose the war.” The following events of his life, and those of his family, were tragic and unnecessary.
This Sunday we are going to learn a number of lessons from the life of Gideon - lessons that can help us live victoriously for the Lord - the way He wants us to live. There are lessons the Lord wants to teach us so that we can have faith and serve Him with confidence.
It would be a privilege to see you Sunday morning for our time of worship during this special Memorial Day weekend.
You are deeply loved!
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "Less is More"

Sometimes it takes only a few words to make a point. For instance, if someone screams “fire,” it is not necessary to consult a manual for instructions. When someone says in a loud voice, “watch out,“ we know that there needs to be caution. Or, consider a golfer who yells, “Fore!” You get the point.
Have you ever considered how Jesus said some very powerful truths with a few words? Read the Sermon on the Mount, or His conversation with the rich young ruler about eternal life (Mark 10). Reflect on the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), or of the woman at the well (John 4).
You might be amazed how Jesus taught many eternal truths with very few words. Sometimes less really is more, and He proved it.
This Sunday we are going to take a few minutes (literally) and look at what Jesus said to His disciples when He inaugurated the Lord’s Supper on the last evening of His life. A reading of Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22 finds Jesus describing the importance of the Lord’s Supper using as few as twenty-eight words and as many as sixty words.
This Sunday is Communion Sunday and I hope you will join others as we focus on the importance of the bread and the cup as taught by Jesus.
You are deeply loved,
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . Hannah, A Model for Motherhood

The Book of Judges ends with a sad commentary, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25) That is the world in which young Samuel was introduced to in 1 Samuel.

Hannah, our Bible character for this Sunday, was a Godly woman married to a very devout man. Elkanah chose to worship the Lord even when many of the Jewish nation were turning their backs on God. He annually took his family to Shiloh to the Lord's tabernacle.

Hannah was deeply saddened because she had no children. In a Jewish culture, if you did not have children you were considered cursed.

Well that all changed on one of those trips to Shiloh. She met with God and made a vow that if the Lord would give her a son, she would give him back to Him for His service all the days of his life. God answered her prayer and she fulfilled her vow. We read in 1 Samuel 2:21, “. . . the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of a new line of prophets after Moses. 

Her named is splashed throughout 1 Samuel 1 and 2, but then she disappears from the pages of scripture. Yet her greatest contribution to the nation of Israel, her son, Samuel, does not disappear. When you carefully study her life, you come to the conclusion that she is a true model for all mothers and all women of faith.

Hannah is a woman from whom we can learn some powerful life lessons. Such as: real Godly women have real problems; real Godly women know how to really pray; real Godly women experience God’s real blessing; real Godly women do what they really say; and, real Godly women know how to really praise the Lord.

I hope you will join us this Sunday, Mother’s Day, for a “Muffins with Mom” fellowship at 9:45 followed by worship as we study a slice of the life of Hannah.

Mothers, you are truly loved! Thank you for being who you are.

Pastor Terry