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Monday, April 12, 2021

A Nation of Hate, A Kingdom of Love

By David Bragg

    In an "unscientific study" conducted over Instagram, Matt Shirley was curious about the rivalries one state feels towards another. He asked his 323,000 followers to respond which state their state hates the most. Some are expected …
Illinois hates Indiana.
Missouri and Kansas hate each other.
So, also, do North and South Dakota.
Others are more surprising ...
California, New Mexico, Alaska and Oklahoma hate Texas.
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado all hate California.
And then there are these two ...
New Jersey hates ALL the other states.
Florida hates ... Florida! (Robert Gearty, Fox News)
    Sometimes it does feel like we are living in a world of hate. Tempers flare with little if any provocation. Road rage, workplace violence, domestic abuse, all of these and other expressions of anger simmer just below the surface of polite society.
    How different the world would be if it learned to love as Jesus teaches us to love. His was an unselfish, generous, compassionate kind of love that put the needs of others before His own.
    Thankfully, we, the church, have Jesus' example to guide us in love and to learn from His perfect example to not allow anger and hate to rule our lives.
- 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/

Light or Darkness?

By Joe Chesser

    Have you ever been in a place so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face? When I was a boy I had this experience in Meramec Caverns, the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri. When they turned out all of the lights, it was total darkness. Every direction I looked was only blackness … up, down, forward, backwards, right, left … it didn’t matter. Not a ray of light could be seen anywhere. Even after my eyes adjusted, there was nothing to be seen but darkness.
    Yet, even in the darkest of places, the light of Jesus can be seen when we use our spiritual eyes, the heart. So, no matter how dark it may seem to others around us, even in Meramec Caverns, for anyone who chooses to open their ‘eyes’, Jesus is the true light that illuminates our souls.
    John the Baptist was sent to bear witness to this Light. “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1.9). Jesus later identified himself as that Light: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12).
    I don’t know of anyone who would intentionally choose to live in total darkness when lights were readily available at the flip of a switch. Why would they? How utterly foolish is that? Darkness is often used in Scripture to describe what our spiritual reality is when we follow Satan instead of Christ. “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11.9-10). Paul explained that Jesus came “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 26.18). When our sins are forgiven we are rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1.12-14).
    Since everyone understands the foolishness of intentionally living physically in total blackness, why are so many resistant to walking in the spiritual light with Jesus where his blood continually forgives our sins (1 John 1.7)? Yet, as Jesus told Nicodemus, that’s what many, in fact most (Matthew 7.13-14), are doing: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3.19). The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. God gives each of us the choice whether to live in darkness or light. Jesus explained, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3.21). Jesus is calling us to come out of darkness and live in the light (Ephesians 5.8; 1 Peter 2.9; 1 John 1.5, 7).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

Traveling the Rocky Road

By Edd Sterchi

The road is long, the rocks are large,
But we needn’t go ‘round them all,
For if we muscle, and keep on moving,
We’ll gain more strength for the haul.

The road is tough, the rocks are many,
But they needn’t cause us to slip,
For if we’re careful where we tread,
We’ll more quickly learn how to grip.

The road’s winding, the rocks, unsafe,
But they needn’t bring useless bane,
For when we learn the best steps used,
Though more taken, the more we gain.

The road’s uncertain, the rocks, e’er present,
But we needn’t tread without trust,
The Lord will shine and He will guide,
And the rocks will soon turn to dust!
- 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/


We Need More Bible Study

By Bill Brandstatter

     Before becoming a Christian, Bible study is important. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). After a person becomes a Christian, Bible study is vital. How I divide the Bible and how I handle it is important. (2 Tim. 2:15) It is significant to understand the importance of the Bible and why we need to study it on a daily basis.
     The Bible is God speaking to us. Paul indicated, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Peter acknowledged that “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21) God speaks from His Word. God speaks to us by His Son. (Heb. 1:2) Are you listening?
     The Bible is a lamp and a light. (Ps. 119:105) The Bible can help us to better understand life and its difficulties. It can also provide us with all that we need to face temptation and all that this world throws at us. Paul advises that we “put on the whole armor of God.” (Eph. 6:11) Without the Bible in our lives, Satan cannot be resisted effectively.
     The Bible is man’s source for the future. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I have a future and I know it is in God’s hands. After death, every person has a future. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27 NKJV) That future involves eternity. Jesus said the future is either everlasting punishment or eternal life. (Matt. 25:46) Where I spend eternity depends on what I do now. The words of Jesus and our obedience to them will be the determining factor in judgment. (Jno.12:48; Heb. 5:8, 9)
     The Bible is our source for the right equipment in life. Paul wrote that through the Scriptures, “the man of God may be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Tim. 3:17 NKJV) Man cannot provide the equipment that the Bible does. How equipped are we to handle tragedy in our lives?
     Remember, Paul stated, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Without the Bible I would not have the faith I need to get through this life or get to eternity.
     Do you need to study the Bible more? God will bless us and heaven could be our home if we “receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Christian Character

By Kevin R. Rutherford

    The New Testament lists some qualities that need to be seen in every Christian. Consider
the lists below and check them against your character to see what you need to add, or what you
need to improve.


Romans 12:9-21

 1. Love
 2. Kindness
 3. Diligence
 4. Fervent in spirit
 5. Serving the Lord
 6. Rejoicing in hope
 7. Patient in tribulation
 8. Steadfast in prayer
 9. Given to hospitality
 10. Peaceful

Galatians 5:22-23

 1. Love
 2. Joy
 3. Peace
 4. Long-suffering
 5. Kindness
 6. Goodness
 7. Gentleness
 8. Self-Control

Ephesians 4:2

 1. Lowliness
 2. Gentleness
 3. Long-suffering
 4. Love

Colossians 3:12-14

 1. Tender Mercy
 2. Kindness
 3. Humility
 4. Meekness
 5. Long-suffering
 6. Bearing with one another
 7. Forgiving one another
 8. Above all these things is Love

2 Peter 1:5-11

 1. Virtue
 2. Knowledge
 3. Self-control
 4. Perseverance
 5. Godliness
 6. Brotherly Kindness
 7. Love
 
    Perhaps you noticed there is one characteristic that appears in all of five of these lists. That quality is love. Love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails [ceases, ends].” Love will still be important when faith an hope have been fulfilled (1 Corinthians 13:13). Sincere, fervent, and pure love of the brethren is seen in those who are truly converted to Christ (1Peter 1:22-23). We must love one another to pass from death to life (1 John 3:14). We must love one another to have eternal life (1 John 3:15). We must love one another in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18). We must love one another to be of the truth (1 John 3:19). We must love one another to have our prayers answered by God (1 John 3:20-23). We must love one another to have our prayers answered by God (1 John 3:20-23). We must love one another because God loved each of our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to die for them (1 John 4:7-11).
- Kevin V. Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/


Monday, April 5, 2021

The Kingdom of God Comes First

By Rob Albright

    Matthew 6:33 We all get busy with our daily routine. We have places to go and things to do and people to see everyday.  But one of the things we must keep in mind is our passage today. Jesus wants his disciples to be under the rule of God. God’s way for our life must be priority #1.  He knows what is best for us. Kingdom means “rule” and in God’s Book, the Bible, we have right ways for our life.  We are to seek “his righteousness.” God’s right ways and character must be displayed in all we do. He has taught us things like loving our enemies, and being merciful to others in difficult circumstances, and do what we can in seeking the lost.
    Seeking the rule of God for our life means making spiritual matters supreme. It is important to be sure our children know the priority of spiritual matters (Ecc. 12:1). We learn early in life important truths and habits that we continue in all the days of our life. Parents and Bible class teachers work together influencing our children toward making the kingdom of God a priority.
    Notice the end of our verse above. This is a promise from the Lord. “All these things” will be added to our life if we place the kingdom (rule) of God first in our life. The material things we need in this life will be supplied for us. God will take care of us.
    What we do with our time determines it’s value. If we use our time wisely for God and His kingdom, it carries great value. So, maybe we just need to stop and ask ourselves, “What is our priority in life?” 
- 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/


Does it Matter?

By Ron Thomas

    A lot of people are aware of the resurrection of Jesus and they might even accept that it happened a long time ago. Yet, to these same people it does not really matter all that much. They are not intending to be disrespectful, but they have learned through the years, they think, that it does not really matter.
    “Why would anyone think it does not matter?” There are any number of reasons why people think it does not matter. Those reason, top the Lord, mean these same people have made a grave mistake. The apostle Paul preached to a community of people in Athens Greece, The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31, ASV).
    We can see that it matters to God very much; He does not want to see a single person fail to be prepared for eternity, so the message of Jesus is preached to any and all who want to know the Lord’s way of righteousness. Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Since this is so, we ought to give attention to the Lord. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/