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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Spend and Be Spent

By Joe Chesser
 
    I’m not sure we fully grasp what Paul meant. I’m not sure we want to.
    When writing his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul felt spiritually and  emotionally connected to them. The first time he had been to Corinth he spent more than 18 months with them teaching them the word of God (Acts 18.11). For a time he supported himself in Corinth by tentmaking (Acts 18.3). Later, at some point, he had made a second trip to the city, and was wanting to make a third one (2 Cor. 13.1). This brief history is important to our understanding of what he said to the church in 2 Corinthians 12.15.
    As he was planning his third trip to visit the church in Corinth, Paul wanted to assure them that he would not be a financial burden to them. He wasn’t interested in their money, goods or support. He was interested only in their spiritual welfare: their relationship with God and with each other (2 Cor, 12.14). To make his point as clear as possible, he wrote, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12.15).  
    That’s what I’m not sure we fully grasp, or maybe even want to understand. What did Paul mean when he said he was willing to “spend and be spent” for the sake of their souls? The answer is whatever it takes. For the sake of their souls Paul was all in, he would hold nothing back, … and do so with gladness. He was willing to spare no expense out of his own pocket; his services would not cost them a penny. The root word used for “spend” and “be spent” in this text was also used to describe the woman who had spent all her money on doctors hoping to heal her issue of blood (Mark 5.26). Paul was willing to spend all his money, time, possessions and energy so as not to be a burden to them, like he willingly did in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2.9; 2 Thess. 3.8). Any expense that would promote their salvation, he was willing to “spend and be spent.” And he would do so with pleasure!
    The natural question is “Why?” Why would Paul “spend and be spent”? The only answer is love. The love of Jesus transformed his heart. Now, instead of himself, Jesus was in his heart, and so were the Corinthians (2 Cor. 7.2-3). Paul is showing us a practical example of what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9.23). Why? Because that’s what love does. Love sacrifices self-interests to meet the needs of the ones who are loved.
    This is not easy to do. This is not even easy to want to do … unless we, like Paul, have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts. When we learn to view our time, energy and money like Jesus does, when we learn to view the lost like Jesus does, when we learn to view our spouse, family and friends like Jesus does, and when we learn to view the church and our involvement with it like Jesus does, then we will willingly “spend and be spent” for the sake of souls … and do so gladly.
    When Jesus offers you an opportunity to “spend and be spent” for the sake of saving souls, how do you think you will respond? Reluctant and stingy, or generous and joyful?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


The Toddler’s Creed

By Al Behel

    Children are special people... especially toddlers. They have a rather unique view of the world. Someone has shared this insight into their thinking, called, “The Toddler’s Creed”:

If I want it, it’s, mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.

    Every parent of a toddler knows that this is an accurate description of the world as they see it. While we expect this self-centered trait in toddlers, we find it very repulsive in older children and adults.
    Many people live almost exclusively for themselves. Extreme self-interest is called “narcissism.” The narcissist thinks the world should evolve around them...everyone should focus on them, elevate them, cower to their wants and demands, and yield to their emotional manipulations.
    Self is at the center of all sin. There is no room on the throne for Christ as long as self is king. Dying to self is essential to serving Christ. The apostle Paul taught that we should “count others better” than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
    Sadly, toddlers are not the only ones who suffer from self-centeredness.
Our culture worships at the alter of self. Our insatiable demand for fun, entertainment, and comfort leaves us approaching almost every issue with thoughts of how we are affected, not what effect our choices may have on others. Narissictic Christianity is not Christ-centered, but is self-centered, and will ultimately destroy itself. 
- 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/


Opportunity

By Clifton Angel

    Opportunity. The word comes from the Latin phrase "ob portus". "Ob" means "toward, or in the direction of. "Portus" means "port, harbor." It was a phrase used by ancient sailors who had to wait for just the right wind and tide conditions to direct their ships into the harbor. If they missed an opportune moment, it could mean a lot of waiting for the next one.
     Paul writes, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5). The word translated "time" is not necessarily "clock time." It might better be translated as "opportunity" or "season." The word translated "redeem" is the idea of going into the marketplace and buying up the best deals. It makes me think of going into the store Bargain Hunt, or Essex. You're looking for the best deals you can find. It also reminds me of my wife in the Kroger clearance aisle, buying up ALL the deals (Disclaimer: My wife approved this statement of jest). The ASV has a footnote at Colossians 4:5 that says, "buying up the opportunity."
    Paul, how can we be sure to take advantage of the opportunities God affords us? Paul says, ”Walk in wisdom toward them that are without" (Colossians 4:5). To the church in Ephesus, he said it this way: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15–16). Furthermore, "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6). Therefore, if we expect to “buy up the opportunities” God gives us, we need: 1. Wisdom; 2. Preparation. Let us be growing in wisdom and preparation in our daily lives. Such requires that we rely on God and His Word. We must be praying (James 1:5; 5:16), studying (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16–17; James 3:17), and making application (James 1:22; 2:14–26; Ephesians 2:10). How do we speak to others? What words do we use? What do we say/share on social media platforms? Do we live in such a way that others see Christ in us, or is it difficult making distinctions between Christians and the world?
     Jesus said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9–10).
    Are we "buying up the opportunities" God gives us in our relationships with others
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/


The Bible’s Very Words Are Inspired

By Joe Slater

    We communicate with words. They may be written or spoken. Yes, you might communicate with a look; but that look means something that can be expressed in words.
    God also communicates with words; He always has. Creation occurred when God spoke words such as “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). “He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9).
    Today God speaks with us through the Bible, the written word which He inspired. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), “breathed out by God” (ESV). Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
    Since the very words of Scripture proceeded from God’s mouth, we ought to treat every word reverently with careful effort to understand. For example, Jesus proved an important point based on the tense of a verb. He quoted God’s words to Moses in Exodus 3:6, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Matthew 22:32). Not “I WAS” their God back when they were alive, but “I AM” their God. Jesus then said, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” showing that though they were physically dead, their souls were indeed alive, proving that the Sadducees erred in denying the doctrine of resurrection.
     Likewise, Paul used the number of a noun (singular as opposed to plural) to prove that only those in Christ were heirs of the promises God made to Abraham. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16).
    Every word of Scripture is inspired. Let is strive for accuracy in our understanding and our teaching!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


Where is Your Focus?

By Rob Albright

     In John 6, Jesus fed thousands of people on the one side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples entered a boat and went to the other side of the sea. Jesus did not go with them. But when the disciples started to look for Him, they found Him and wanted to know how He got there.
     Jesus made a statement in John 6:26 – “You seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for food that endures to everlasting life.” The people were not interested in the things which showed them His deity and His power to save. They were just interested in the food that benefited their physical hunger.
     We see the lesson for us is not to make the primary focus in life on the material but the spiritual. Too often we get busy with the material have no time for spiritual matters. If we put the spiritual first, the material will come (Matthew 6:33). Food for the soul gives lasting strength and that is what is primary.
- Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/


Monday, November 15, 2021

Trust And Obey

By Joe Slater

    In the final analysis, “Trust And Obey” has been the requirement of God from the Garden of Eden until now. For Adam and Eve, it was “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Eat all the vegetables and fruit you want with the single exception of the fruit of one particular tree. Trust and obey.
    During the Patriarchal Age God expressed His will to individuals directly. He told Cain and Abel to offer sacrifice. He directed Noah to build the ark. Abraham was to leave Ur of the Chaldees and go to the place God showed him. He commissioned Moses to lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. Trust and obey.
    God gave Moses His law on Mt. Sinai. It contained numerous statues and ordinances for the His chosen people, Israel, to obey carefully. “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Trust and obey.
    Neither Adam and Eve nor any of their descendants trusted and obeyed flawlessly. God knew they wouldn’t. In His mercy He planned from eternity to send Jesus to offer His own body and blood to save sinners. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts
2:38). Trust and obey.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be
happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” 
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


When Your Life is Gone

By Gerald Cowan

                                    When life has closed its door on you
                                    And you have gone to your last sleep,
                                    No longer present on the earth,
                                    Will any miss you, any weep?
  
                                    The self-absorbed may answer, “Yes,
                                    I will be missed; there will be tears.”
                                    But why? Will they be tears of joy
                                    Or tears of sorrow, pain, and fears?

                                    If you are missed it may imply
                                    That you touched other lives for good,  
                                    Encouraged and supported them
                                    And healed their hurts as Jesus would.

                                    If not missed what will that imply?
                                    You went on your own selfish way,
                                    Saw nothing but your own desires?
                                    Perhaps did not for others pray?

                                    On what you gathered for yourself
                                    Your legacy does not depend
                                    But on the lives you marked for good,
                                    To whom and how you were a friend.
 
                                    When life is gone and you must meet
                                    God’s Christ, the Lord who judges all,
                                    Then what you did for others will
                                    Determine if you stand or fall.
                              
                                    When life is gone you will not weep
                                    Nor for missed treasures raise your voice.
                                    If Jesus says, “You come with me
                                    To heaven,” then you can rejoice.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com