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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Open My Life

By Gerald Cowan    
   
Open my eyes Lord, let me see
People in need, where e’re they be.
Enlighten me and fill my mind
That I may be eyes to the blind.

Open my ears to all Thy truth
And to the souls who cry to Thee,
And may their cries so touch my heart
That I to them will grace impart.

Open my heart to share Thy grace
With all the world so loved by Thee,
And from my heart lift up my voice
With all who weep, all who rejoice.

Open my hands and let me work
That I may give to those in need.
Shelter and food so let me share
That none can doubt how much I care.

Hands to the helpless I would be,
Until the world from want is free.
Feet to the crippled, weak and lame — 
I lift them up in Jesus’ name.

Open my eyes, my ears, my mouth;
Open my hands; open my heart;
Open my life that all may see
The blessed Christ who lives in me.
- 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


God Can Use You

By Edd Sterchi

    Sometimes we feel that God can’t use us because of various things/situations going on in our lives. But we need to remember that if God wants us to do something, then no excuse will suffice. Note, for example:
* Think you’re too old? Speak to Abraham.
* Think life has burdened you too greatly? Listen to Joseph.
* Think you don’t speak very well? Consult Moses on the matter.
* Think you’ve messed up too many times? David would like a word.
* Think depression would hold you back? Elijah has some advice.
* Think you’ll be denigrated for your heritage? Ask Esther about it.
* Think life has been unfair? Have a heart-to-heart with Job.
* Think you’re too young or inexperienced? Chat with Jeremiah.
* Think people will not listen to you? Counsel with Ezekiel.
* Think you will be harassed? Have a discussion with Daniel.
* Think family problems are too stifling? Hosea would like your ear.
* Think you’ll be tempted to shirk your duties? Get some direction from Jonah.
* Think people will unjustly judge you? Mary has some food for thought.
* Think you are too much of an outsider? John the Immerser can give some words of wisdom.
* Think your occupation is not held in high enough regard? Matthew would like to address the topic.
* Think you are too impetuous? Shoot the breeze with Peter.
* Think your talents are not as glamorous as others? Dorcas says, “We need to talk.”
     I’m sure you get the idea. God was able to use all of these individuals despite perceived flaws or unfortunate circumstances. And if God could use them, He can use you!
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/


Nothing In a Name?

By Ron Thomas

    There is nothing in a name if the name means nothing to you. If your name is “Mike”, but you answer to any other name, your given name means nothing to you (showing disrespect to your parents). If there is nothing in a name, if you are a woman named Janet married to a Mike Smith, then it will not matter to you if you are called Janet Perpendicular, Rectangular, Rotund, Mallory, or any other name. I dare say, that in some way, there is something in a name to you.
    To the Lord, there is something significant in a name. And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved (Acts 4:12, ASV). In the New Testament, one does not read of a congregation of the Lord’s people with the name of a man attached to it. In fact, in the New Testament, if there is a name attached to the holy institution “built” by the Lord, the only name is “God.” There is something in a name.
    There is no other name under heaven to whom people must submit, but the name of Jesus. There is something in a name. There was no religious institution under heaven whereby any Israelite could be pleasing to the Father of glory, but by the name He chose. The Lord would accept no substitute in Israel’s worship of Him, with such names like “Baal”. There is something in a name. In our own religious context, those who think there is nothing in a name only think this so they can continue to be a member of an institution man-made.
    A building with the name of the Lord on it does not make it the Lord’s church, but it might be an indication of something. Is there something in a name? the Lord thought so. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Prayer and God’s Glory

By Joe Chesser
 
    Prayer is a mysterious thing. There is always an element of uncertainty about it that requires faith in the unknown. To unbelievers, prayer may seem to be foolishness, talking out loud to no one in particular. But for Christians, faith assures us that when we pray we have the audacity to actually be speaking to the God of the universe (Hebrews 4.16)! So, what happens when we pray?
    There is no way to fully answer that question in the space of this article, but from John 11 there are some clues and insights into what happens when we seek the help of Jesus. While technically not a prayer as we often define it, like a prayer Mary and Martha did send a request to Jesus for him to help them.
    Their brother Lazarus was deathly ill and the sisters were sure that if Jesus would come he could make him well (John 11.21). So they sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11.3). We are familiar with this type of prayer: intercession for others. We pray often for Jesus to help the sick, the hurting, the needy. We do that because we truly believe that Jesus loves us all and will come to our aid when we ask him: “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4.2).
    However, we are not praying to inform Jesus. He already knows more about our needs than we do. When Jesus heard the sister’s request he told his disciples that the illness of Lazarus was not about his health but for the glory of God and the Son (John 11.4). Jesus looks beyond what we can see and answers our prayers based on the whole picture. Jesus didn’t rush to Bethany. He knew there was no hurry. For the sisters the timing was urgent. Like us, they expected Jesus to respond right away. But Jesus delayed for two days before heading to Bethany (John 11.5). Sometimes Jesus’ timing frustrates us, again, because we only see part of the picture (John 11.21). We need to learn to be patient in prayer and let Jesus answer our prayers when he wants and in the way he wants (John 11.22). 
    Why? Because when Jesus answers our prayers, everything about it will be for our best interest and for the glory of God. Plus, how Jesus answers may surprise us. What Jesus had in mind all along was not to heal Lazarus but to raise him from the grave, even after he  had been dead for four days (John 11.38-44). As far as Lazarus was concerned, he would have been alive and healthy either way. But as far as God was concerned, there was more glory given Him when Lazarus was raised from the dead. God’s glory is far more important than our health or anything else (1 Cor. 10.31).
    Learning to pray in a way that glorifies God also blesses us.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Sweet Hour of Prayer

By Clifton Angel

     A child once asked me: "How does the devil get inside of you?" I was certain to point out that the devil does not have magical powers to literally take control of you or get inside of you, like we may see on TV or in video games. However, he is methodical and tricky (Ephesians 6:11), he is a lying, murdering enemy (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8), and he is trying to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). I pointed out that he primarily gets inside of us through our eyes (the things we see, watch, or read) and our ears (the things we listen to and hear). James said, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). One very powerful method of resisting him is that of prayer.
     We sometimes sing a song during Vacation Bible School that goes like this: "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. For, the Father up above is looking down in love. So, be careful little eyes what you see." The song repeats the same teaching concerning what our ears hear, what our mouths say, what our hands touch, and where our feet go. If only adults and children alike would adhere to the song's teachings! What does this have to do with prayer? Everything. You see, when we take a posture of prayer similar to that so often taught to children, it will help us obey the song's teachings and resist the devil.
     We are not commanded a particular posture in prayer to our Father; however, a traditional posture taught to children is quite interesting. Children are taught to kneel on their knees, clasp their hands together, bow their heads, close their eyes, and talk to God. Think about this posture in relation to the song above. If I am kneeling on my knees, I cannot run swiftly to a place where evil abides. If am clasping my hands, I cannot be quick to touch that which incites the lusts of the flesh. If my eyes are closed, I force myself to refuse all sights of wickedness. If I'm talking to God, my mouth is being used for pure purposes, and my ears only hear spotless sounds.
     Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we have against Satan. So often, we look at the armor of God of Ephesians 6:10–17 and we leave off verse 18. According to verse 18, Paul said "Praying always with all prayer and supplication." Our ability in this spiritual warfare will wane if we do not beseech our Father in prayer. However, in the "Sweet Hour of Prayer," we can "resist the devil” so that he will “flee from” us.
- 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/


Sunday, September 19, 2021

The True God (Part 1)

By Joe Slater

    This article’s title sounds narrow-minded in today’s politically correct world. Most likely Paul’s audience in Athens (Acts 17) thought he was narrow-minded too. Petronius, a writer at Nero’s court, remarked that it was easier in Athens to find a god than a man! Yet here was Paul, telling the brilliant Greek philosophers that their views about deity were erroneous! His magnificent sermon mentioned at least thirteen points about the true God. Let’s look briefly at the first few.
    “The God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24a). Indeed, the true God is the creator of the universe (see the first two chapters of Genesis). Greeks, like other pagan cultures, worshiped dozens of gods and goddesses, crediting certain ones with creating and having charge of various portions of nature (e.g. god of the sun, god of the sea, goddess of the forest). But Paul affirmed that the true God, whom the Athenians didn’t know, is the creator of all things.
    “He, being Lord of heaven and earth” (17:24b). Pagans believed their gods ruled over various parts of the world, fighting back and forth to take over one another’s dominion. The true God, however, is Lord of heaven and earth; He admits no rival.
    “. . . does not dwell in temples made with hands (17:24c). Athens, like other cities, contained numerous temples where the gods supposedly dwelled. Jerusalem also boasted of the temple where the true God manifested His special presence. But Solomon knew and freely confessed, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built?” (1 Kings 8:27).
    There is but one true God! 
- 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


The True God (Part 2)

By Joe Slater

    There really is a difference between the true God and the innumerable gods devised by people. The true God “made the world and everything in it”; He is “Lord of heaven and earth”; and He “does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). These three facts alone set the true God apart from pagan idols as far as the east is from the west. But there is more!
    “Neither is he worshiped with (better ‘served by’) men’s hands, as though He needed anything” (17:25a). Pagans thought the gods depended on their sacrifices for food and drink. In fact, though, the idols could “neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell” (Deuteronomy 4:28). And the true God made it clear in Psalm 50:12-13 – “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” The true God is independent of His creation; He needs nothing from us.
    Far from needing people to feed Him, the true God “gives to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). At creation God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, making him a living being (Genesis 2:7). Throughout the ages He has given us “rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). We depend on Him, not He on us!
    This same God “made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (17:26). Every race, every nation, every person, has descended from Adam, whom God created. Neither individuals nor nations always do what God desires; but God rules them nonetheless. He is active in human affairs, whether people realize it or not. No mere regional deity, the true God raises up nations and rulers and removes them in keeping with His purpose. Wise are those who humble themselves and seek His favor!
- 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