Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Solomon on the Billboard Hot 100

By David Bragg

    On December 4, 1965 King Solomon of Old Testament fame, the successor of David (the man after God’s own heart; Acts 13:22) and the wisest man who ever lived had the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His song, Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season), can be found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
    Solomon, who received no royalties for his composition, has folk singer/songwriter and anti-war activist Pete Seeger to thank for his long-delayed success. Seeger contributed only six words at the end of the song, seven if you count the title: Turn! Turn! Turn! It was first recorded in 1959 by Seeger, then in 1962 by the Limeliters, and most successfully by the Bryds in 1965 when it became an international hit which holds the record for the oldest lyrics of any number one song.
    In Ecclesiastes 3 Solomon writes of the ever-changing phases of life as we face, by chance, various emotions and circumstances (“a time to every purpose under the heaven”). Seeger’s song, an anti-war anthem, emphasized that there was “a time of war, and a time of peace.” But consider this observation: “There is a time to laugh; a time to mourn.” What an appropriate snapshot of daily life mixed with happy moments and crushingly sad ones. Isn’t it great that, in Christ, we can weather these constantly shifting emotions with a deeply rooted joy? Persecuted. Tempted. Tried. Christians can rejoice in all those times because of the joy in Christ that  enables us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

- David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/ or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/

In Accordance with the Scriptures

By David R. Ferguson

    In 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 the Apostle Paul writes, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” It may come as a surprise to some of you, but if you would try to find the passage in the Old Testament that says specifically, “The Messiah will be raised from the dead on the third day,” guess what? You’re not going to find it. But it’s positively true, nonetheless, that according to Scripture, the Law of Moses does make this prophecy, just as Paul says. But to find it requires study, which is exactly what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 [ESV], “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
    Remember how John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” in John 1:36 when he saw Jesus walking one day? Paul showed how Jesus fulfilled the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 [ESV] when he wrote, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
    Jesus not only was our Passover, but He was also the Firstfruits! And Paul ties the firstfruits specifically to the resurrection: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20 [ESV]). In verse 23 [ESV] of that chapter, Paul writes, “But each in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ.” No wonder, then, that Paul wrote so confidently about the resurrection occurring on the third day according to the Scriptures! No wonder that Jesus stated this so emphatically time after time! Christ rose from the dead as the Firstfruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day that the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord, which was the third day following Passover (Leviticus 23:5-11)!
    It is my continued hope and prayer that the Lord will bless you and your family!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com

Do You Like Honey?

By Caleb J. Rutherford

    Have you ever eaten honey? Or how about honeycomb? See, I am not a fan of either. The only way I will eat honey is if it is drizzled over a hot biscuit. But I do know, however, the sweetness that comes with honey and the honeycomb. It is something that is quite pleasant to many people, and something that would be considered a treat to eat.
    I think about the book of Proverbs, and how so often, the plea for its readers is to adhere to the wisdom and the knowledge of God. To remember the advice of the Father, to apply it to our lives, so that we might be able to make the best decisions possible in the coming future. I specifically think about chapter 24 and vs. 13 - “My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; (14) So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; If you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off.” No one likes to put something that tastes bad in our mouths. If someone does not like broccoli, he will not seek out broccoli to eat. But honey, it is sweet, it is good to the taste (for some people), and it is something that most would seek out, in order to eat it. Well the same should be with knowledge and wisdom. It ought to be something that we hunger for. It ought to be something to strive for.
    It should be something that is sweet to our lives, because we know it will better our lives. So often, people do not want help. Many people in our world today think we have it all figured out; and, “who are you to tell me that I need advice on how to deal with this or that.” And yet so often, we make mistake after mistake after wrong choice after wrong choice, simply because we did not listen to the wisdom and advice that someone has to offer. If we know that someone can help us in a situation, we ought to be people who will swallow our pride, get rid of our arrogance, and listen to the advice. Well the same is true with us spiritually. We know that the Word of God has everything that we need in order to be the best Christian that we can be (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, why would we not allow it to shape and change our lives? Why would we not allow the wisdom and the knowledge of our God, help form us into the best servants for Him? Let’s be individuals who seek out the wisdom of God, and not only seek it, but then apply it to our everyday lives.

-  Caleb J. Rutherford is the Associate Preacher for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/

Troubled Hearts

By Al Behel

    A teenager took a rope and hanged himself in the family’s shed, depressed about his relationship with his girlfriend. A two year old is beaten with belts, her head repeatedly dunked into cold bath water, and is thrown to the floor because she doesn’t consistently say “please” and “thank you.” She dies from her injuries.
    These examples of troubled hearts are extreme, but frightening familiar. Most people don’t take their frustrations out in such violent ways. They may become depressed, have difficulty sleeping, eat too much, or turn to substance abuse to numb the pain. They may react in anger or internalize their stress. They are still very troubled, nonetheless. They have lost their sense of balance and meaning.
    We are told that everyone has a breaking point though few of us reach it. We ask how it could happen and why we didn’t see it coming. Could we have prevented it? What would have made a difference in the outcome?
    King David found the answer when he confronted his own enemies. He said, “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalms 18:6). He went on to tell of God’s powerful response in delivering him.
    Depression and despair that is borne of anger is like a brain cancer that eats away our peace. David continued, “Yea, you light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” (18:28). The darkness of despair is made bright as day when we place our confidence in God. Unfortunately, many people never come to know the peace God provides.
    Where do you go when you are discouraged or troubled in heart? Do you turn to destructive actions or become bitter? Or do you sit quietly and call on the Lord? Do you lift Him up in your heart and listen to His voice? He will lift you up.
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/

Are You Dressing to be Chaste or “Chased?”

By R.W. McAlister

     In an age where modesty is disappearing, especially in regard to how we dress, it’s important that we remember how to distinguish between modest and immodest dress.
     In Titus 2:5, the Bible says that older women are to teach younger women, “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Discreet, chaste – I Timothy 2:9 says women should be adorned in “...modest apparel, with shamefacedness, and sobriety...” If you have any doubts about the clothing you’re considering wearing, ask yourself, “Can I wear this with shamefacedness?” Shamefacedness means, “with a sense of shame.” Clothing which doesn’t reflect a shame of one’s nakedness is not modest clothing. In other words, clothing that glorifies or puts on display much of the body is not something anyone can wear with shamefacedness. Consider these questions:
     Can I wear this with sobriety? Sobriety means, “Sound judgment.” Clothing which doesn’t reflect sound judgment of how God would have us to dress is not modest clothing. If your state of dress indicates that you might be willing to engage in activity that in reality, you have no intention of being part of, then you need to dress differently – you need to dress with sobriety.
     Can I wear this with discreteness? Discreteness means, “self-control.” Clothing which doesn’t reflect a sense of self-control or which causes others to experience a lapse of self-control is not modest clothing and should never be worn in public! Again, this idea applies to putting on less cotton than you find in the top of the aspirin bottle and it also apples to the other extreme of excessively fancy clothing, heavy makeup, or ostentatious hairstyles.
     When you’re getting ready go out, especially to come to worship God, spend your time getting ready spiritually more than physically. Remember, real beauty comes from within and is measured by the size of your inward self (Eph. 3:14-19).
     Can I wear this and at the same time be chaste? Chaste means, “pure from carnality.” Clothing which excites the passions and lusts of the flesh is not modest apparel and no one could so dress and remain chaste as per Titus 2:5!
     Thanks be to God for giving us these guidelines and making it plain how we ought to dress and present ourselves before others and before the Creator of the universe! May we all strive to honor God in all that we do.

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/

We Have an Anchor

By Ron Bartanen

    As a ship would need an anchor to prevent it from being driven by the wind and waves onto a rugged, rock-infested shore and destroyed, without exception we all need an anchor for our lives to keep us from the storms of life that would destroy us. Our faith in Christ is just such an anchor—and especially we would view the resurrection of Christ in this regard. While all religions have their revered founders and gurus, all are powerless against the winds of time that would drive us onto the shores of God’s judgment. Only Christianity has a founder who died for our sins and been raised from the dead. Death is not the ultimate conqueror. Though even Jesus, in death, willingly gave up His spirit into the Father’s hands, yet, as a verse in one of our hymns declares, “Death could not keep his prey.” He arose in triumph over death, and holds within His hands “the keys of hell (hades) and of death” (Rev. 1:18). Ours is not a dead savior, but the Living One. Without the assurance of a living Savior, we would be at the mercy of all that is spiritually destructive to our souls. We would not even be assured of who Jesus is—the Son of God. After all, anyone could make the claim. Of Jesus alone can it be said that He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” (Romans 1:4). We know who He is because of His resurrection.
    Without His resurrection we would have no assurance of our own. Death would be the great ultimate destroyer. But because He was raised, we, too, will be raised. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul linked our resurrection to His, saying, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead” (15:17-20). Hebrews 6:19-20a compares His resurrection to the believer’s anchor, declaring, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” This hope is secure—“within the veil,” that is, beyond the veil of death into heaven itself, where the risen Christ has entered as the “forerunner”, preparing the way for our resurrection. Our eternal welfare is established only in the crucified, risen and glorified Son of God. For the believer, it is as one hymn declares: “We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the ages roll….”
    The greatest question we could ask is: Is your faith anchored and made secure in Christ. Have you accepted Him, who, by the grace of God, “tasted death for every man?” (Hebrews 2:9) Have you identified yourself with Him in being “buried with Him in baptism” and raised with Him to walk “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). Is it your hope to continue that walk till you share in “the likeness of His resurrection” (6:5)?—to share His glory?                              

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/

When You Are in Over Your Head

By Johnny Hester

    Luke 23:44-46, Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
    Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
    And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said,
    “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’.”
    Having said this, He breathed His last.
    “He breathed His last.” Those words cause one’s heart to sink.  When Jesus exhaled for a final time on the cross, all the minions of Hell may well have thought that the battle was over and that victory belonged to Satan their evil commander. But how wrong they were! And how horrified they must have been just a short time later! Yes, Jesus suffered and died. He was buried. But then “He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4)! Furthermore, “He [The Father] has put all things under His feet” (v. 27)! Think for a moment about the wonderful implications of that truth that should compel us to praise, worship and live for God.
    “He has put all things under His feet” (v. 27). Do you ever feel that you are in way over your head with problems? That may be the case, but Jesus is over all things. He is in Heaven, interceding on your behalf! A glorious fact is powerfully declared in Romans 8:34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”  Where are your problems? “Under His feet”! Jesus is alive! He is in control! Jesus is coming again!
    Beloved, is there someone in your life who is hurting, suffering, struggling? Consider sending that person a note of encouragement and be sure to use Romans 8:34 as a closing verse of hope. Letting one know that Christ is alive, above, active and working on the behalf of His people can bring a comfort and strength that nothing else can produce.

- Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at johnnyhester@yahoo.com