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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Obedient Rechabites

By R.W. McAlister
     Jeremiah was sent to warn rebellious Judah of the need to repent and obey. The weeping prophet is told to: “Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink” (Jer. 35:1-2).
     The Rechabites were the decedents of Rechab, the father of Jonadab. Evidently, before Jonadab died, he taught his children about morality. “Jonadab, the son of Rechab our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever.” (Jer. 35:6-7).
     When Jeremiah instructed them to “drink wine,” these descendants refused Jeremiah’s offer for this reason: “Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us” (Jer. 35:8a). Through Jeremiah, God holds the Rechabites up as an example of obedience before Judah.
     First, the Rechabites were obedient in spite of the circumstances. Surrounded by worldly Judah, these Rechabites could easily have given in to the temptation around them. After all, if “God’s people” could drink wine, commit adultery, worship false god’s, etc., then why shouldn’t the Rechabites? The Rechabites were an example of faithful obedience in the midst of sin.
      Second, the Rechabites were obedient because they respected the command of their fathers. The command was plain. One of the reasons why men fail to obey the Lord today is because they take a command of God and treat it as a suggestion. Consider the simple command that we “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Most people acknowledge the need to repent, but few recognize the essentiality of baptism. They feel it’s done after sins are remitted, but the Bible makes it plain that immersion (baptism) is “for” (unto) the remission of sins. Those who believe baptism is nonessential to salvation have made a command of God a matter of choice.
     Third, the Rechabites were obedient because they were committed. They were united in their devotion to God and realized the importance of teaching their families the same kind of commitment and dedication (v.8). 1) They obeyed all that their father commanded; 2) they obeyed the command their whole life; 3) they taught it to all their descendants.
     Fourth, the Rechabites were obedient because they knew there were consequences to their actions. In her disobedience, Judah would face punishment; but the obedient Rechabites would live (Jer. 35:19). “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7-8). Therein lies the difference.
     Dear Soul, why not obey your Lord today? Cultivate within yourself the heart of these Rechabites.

 - 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/


What Is Faith?

By Travis L. Quertermous
     Do you believe in God? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Most Americans that are polled say “yes” to those questions? Does that mean a person has true faith in God or Christ? The Biblical answer is “no.”
     To be sure, one cannot have true faith without believing those two things, but that alone does not mean one has a Biblical, saving faith. One of the best chapters in the Bible on this subject is the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, often called “Faith’s Hall of Fame.”  Consider the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This verse teaches us that saving faith has three components: (1) intellectual acceptance of certain truths like the existence of God; (2) trust in the promises of God; and (3) obedience to the word of God. If any one of these is lacking, true faith does not exist.
     Abraham is given as an example: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). Do you have a true faith that trusts and obeys the commandments of the Lord? Why not let us help you in that spiritual journey?

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:   http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/


Be Kinder Than Necessary!

     Mary and her husband Jim had a dog, Lucky. Lucky was a real character.  Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy.
     Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.  Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's favorite toys. Lucky  always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.
     It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer.  Something told her she was going to die of this disease, she was just sure it was fatal..  She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders.  The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her.. .what would happen to Lucky?  Although the three-year-ol d dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die,
      Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that  I didn't want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of  her own death.
      The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim  took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.
      Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the  steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.
     Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she  called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.  When Mary woke, for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!
     While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip  to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love. Mary forgot about dying.  Instead  she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every night. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.
      Isn't that a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ?? Just when we  think things are at their worst, He covers us with Love, giving us the strength and courage we need to forge ahead. Lucky? He still steals treasures  and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.
    Live everyday to the fullest. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.
    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

- via
THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Bitterness

By Paul Darety
     Elimelech and Naomi and their two sons went to the land of Moab (Ruth 1:1). Elimelech died leaving Naomi and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to take care of her. The two boys in turn married Orpah and Ruth. Mahlon and Chilion then died leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law to get along for themselves. Naomi set her face to return home to Judah. She told her daughters-in-law to return to their home for she could not help them any more. Orpah tearfully left Naomi but Ruth stayed with her. When Naomi arrived at her homeland there were those that called her by her name. However, she asked that she be called Mara or bitter because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her (Ruth 1:20).
     How often have you felt the pains of bitterness? Many are bitter but never realize they are making people around them miserable. Bitterness in an individual usually arises when life has not been what they may determine as “fair” to them. They may feel as if they have been cheated by something that someone else has done. They may even feel that their rights have been violated. Or still they may develop a bitter feeling toward another when they feel like they have been “dumped on” by others. What can one do that feels bitter towards life or others?
     First, understand why you feel bitter. Are your feelings correct? Are you justified in feeling that way? Has life and others treated you any more unfairly than they have any other? The answer you will often find is that you are no different than anyone else.
     Second, put away any bitter feelings that you may have. Don’t let it eat at you and destroy your life. Put it away (Eph. 4:31).
     Third, stop comparing your life to what you think is the perfect life. Realize you are no different than any other person (2 Cor. 10:12).
     Fourth, get up and do something for someone else. Your eyes will be opened, your senses will be made more aware, and your mind will begin to become a little less sensitive to self and a little more aware of the plight of others. Don’t set your mind solely on self.
     Yes, we do grow bitter from time to time. Just put your faith in God and be assured that all things will work together for good (Rom. 8:28).

- Paul Darety, Dickson, TN; via
The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bible Study?

By C.M.Callan

     I suppose there are some questions that just have to go unanswered as we plod along the road of life.  Some of these questions are of major significance but most are just queries we would like to have  answered.  As an elder God has charged me with the spiritual oversight of the congregation (along with the other elders) and this has raised a question that gives me a lot of worry time.  Perhaps you have the answer.
      The question is simply this:  If a person is truly converted to be a follower of Jesus and claims to be a Christian in all of its glorious biblical definitions, then why do so many not take advantage of Sunday morning classes and Wednesday evening bible study?  If we are truly dedicated to follow Jesus then surely we would want to be present for any opportunity to get closer to our Master.  Christianity is not something you do for one hour on Sunday morning, it is a way of life.  It should be so important that every question or decision that comes up in our life should first be screened though the “Jesus filter”.
      Yes, I am well aware there are legitimate reasons for one to be absent from these studies, but just think about it.  If Jesus was going to be present in person, would you make an effort to be there?  Well, He has promised to be there in spirit (Matthew 18:20).  Surely that should be enough motivation for you to change you habits.  If you are truly converted to Christ, then you will always want to be where He is.  You are correct, there is no scripture that says you must be present for all bible studies, but why would you not want to be?
      Here are ten reasons I have heard for not going to class.  I am sure there are many others, but these should be enough to see how absurd some of them are.

1. I already know all the bible I need to know.
2. Sunday morning is the only morning I can sleep late.
3. Wednesday evening is when I watch my favorite TV program.
4. Sitting two hours on Sunday morning is just too long for me.
5. There is no command for it in the bible.
6. The teacher is boring or hard to understand.
7. I am just too tired to go on Wednesday night.
8. The church benches are just too hard to sit that long
9. Just never got in the habit of going.
10. All they do is argue over minute points that I have no interest in.
     I know it is not for me or the elders to judge your motive, but when the seats are empty in the class, we have to ask the question, why?

- C.M.Callan serves as an elder for the Rotan church of Christ in Rotan, Texas. He may be contacted at
drcall@sbcglobal.net

Kinder, Gentler Marriages

By Travis L. Quertermous

    The famous British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was once accosted by a woman. “Mr. Churchill,” she shouted, “If you were my husband, I would poison your soup!”
    Churchill didn’t miss a beat. “Madam,” he replied, “If you were my wife, I would drink the soup!” Though a funny story, it also illustrates one of the biggest problems in many marriages and families, and that is the utter lack of respect, kindness, and gentleness. The apostle Paul wrote, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:33). Also, the apostle Peter taught, “Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving  honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
     Think for a moment how much arguing and abuse would stop at home if more spouses practiced those two simple verses of Scripture! Let us all resolve to treat our mates with greater respect and kindness.

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:  
http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/

Growing In Spiritual Maturity

By Timothy E. Davis

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready for it.” 1 Corinthians 3:2 (NIV)

     Our niece is fighting attempts to shift her diet from formula in a bottle to baby food.  She is failing to embrace the change. She wants to stay in her comfort zone. In much the same way, the work of God suffers tremendously from our spiritual immaturity. God needs mighty spiritual warriors; not a bunch of spiritual cowards.  Jehovah needs elite Special Forces spiritual warriors. We are to battle Satan at every turn, waging an unending war against him and his unseen forces of darkness. Instead, we cower in the corner while Lucifer mocks us.
    Spiritual warriors must train constantly to be effective. You can not take a soldier who has not been to the weapons range in two years and put him into the middle of a firefight. He is useless without that training. Some Christians among us appear to have formed a new denomination, "Christian Minimalists". They steadfastly believe in doing the absolute minimum they can for the cause of Our Redeemer. Unfortunately, the body of Christ is full of them. The Holy Scriptures predict their fate. It tells us they will be saved, but as a man escaping through a fire.
     Our spiritual Coach, God, keeps telling us he wants us in the starting line up. Our Father tells us we are ready. He promises to be right there on the sidelines giving instructions and tips. We are told if we get confused, we can call a time out and come directly to Him to talk. But we say no, Coach, send in someone else. I am just happy to be on the team. This bench is real comfortable. I feel safe here. It is what I am used to.
     When we limit Our Messiah to Sundays and Wednesdays, we are sitting on the spiritual bench. We are stubbornly refusing to grow spiritually. We tell Jehovah to send someone else in when we fail to study our Bibles every day. We wallow in our spiritual immaturity when we fail to spend quiet time with the Lord. We drink babies milk when we forget that prayer, like any other conversation, is a two way street. It requires both speaking AND listening. How can the Master use us for mighty things when we will not even do the small things He asks of us? How can we shake the foundations of Hell and make demons flee when our Bibles gather dust and we forget to take to our knees daily to pour out our hearts to Our Heavenly Father?
     It is long past time for us to stop being spiritual infants. It is long past time for us to live up to our spiritual potential. Want to see revival in your church? Get off the spiritual milk! Want to see the Holy Spirit move in your life? Move on to the solid spiritual food of a mature believer!

- Timothy E. Davis submitted this article to BulletinGold, along with the simple request that he be contacted should you choose to utilize it in your local bulletin.  He may be contacted at
ted400us@yahoo.com  Copyright 2007 Timothy E. Davis.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Obstacles

By James C. Guy
     In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way.
     Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
     As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
     The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's condition.

- James C. Guy, Canal Heights church of Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama.  He may be contacted at THE BIBLE SAYS website at:
http://biblesays.faithsite.com

Sacrifice

   A Christian farmer's cow gave birth to twin bull calves.  The farmer was delighted as bull calves are worth more than a cow calf, and since he had two he decided to sell one, when it was fully grown, and donate the money to the work of the Lord.  However, one of the calves grew sick, and then sicker.  Then one day the farmer came into the house looking sad.  He looked at his wife and said, "You'll never guess what's just happened! The Lord's calf is dead!" 

-From the Internet; via
THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

When God Is Listening

By Bryan McAlister

“...that you would...remember me!”

     Job’s cry (Job 14:13), is not unlike the cry we have heard from souls today, or perhaps have even uttered ourselves. Job’s brief statement reflects the essence of most of our fears and troubles; the desire to be remembered and not forgotten, the hope we will have a meaningful connection in our lives. For many, these connections are present. They come in the form of loving husbands and supportive wives. These connections are found with honorable children and noble parents. We find meaningful connection in the household of God, among God’s family. For many, these are the connections which bring comfort to the soul.
     For many more, these connections are a mere dream, a wish unfilled, a passing thought, left only to ponder and not possess. Perhaps now, in this generation, in this age, in this time, when the news could not be more bleak about finances and the economy, jobs and physical security, now is the time when we speak with the resounding voice of reassurance “Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy” (Psalm 86:1).
     Our studies of recent days have pointed us to the reassurance from God, He is present and ready to help. He is near each of us, if we will seek Him (Acts 17:27). But does He hear us? More than any other author in scripture, the Psalmist uses the phrase, “hear me” when calling, literally crying out to God. This cry is distinct from the petitioner, much more so than prayer. Do not misunderstand, God’s ears are still attentive to prayer (II Chronicles 7:15). He is listening for those hearts who make appeal to Him and come before His throne. Paul’s encouragement was to guard every step of life in prayer (Phil 4:6-7). We see the living example of Jesus relying on prayer in His life (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). Yet our cry to God, our calling to Him, our “crying out” to His holy name has a great power and blessing waiting for us.
    “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
     We read it, but do we believe it? There is much taught and insisted in that great verse of comfort. First, it is insisted that the righteous cry out. Righteousness of the heart and soul must not be overlooked or underestimated.
     “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Righteousness does not come from our own making or creating. Righteousness for mankind comes only through embracing the righteousness offered to us.
     “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Cor 5:21). Our sinless savior, took on the brunt and punishment for sin as the perfect sacrifice, and in His righteousness we are made whole.
     God’s connection to us is not severed. He has sent His Son as a seal and a promise that we have neither been forgotten or abandoned. His Son now serves as a mediator between God and man, so that when we approach the Lord through Jesus, we have assurance He will hear (John 14:13). Not only will God hear those made righteous by His Son, He will deliver them from “all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). This is the kind of deliverance only God can provide, the kind which frees the soul from the limitations of the flesh, and points us to the assurance of God’s eternal provision. “I pray and I pray, but I don’t think God is there.” Have you examined your life as in II Corinthians 13:5? Have you “cried out” to the “Most High God” (Psalm 57:2)? God is ready to hear our cry, and answer our call, but there must be the readiness on our part to break our silence, and “cry out” to Him.

- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Centerville church of Christ, in Centerville, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.centervillechurchofchrist.org

Reflections

    You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
    It seems just yesterday that I was a young girl, just married and embarking on my new life with my husband. And yet, in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all...
     And I have glimpses of how it was back then and all of my hopes and dreams...But, here it is...the winter of my life and this catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my babies go? And where did my youth go?
     I remember well...seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like…
    But here it is…husband retired and he’s getting gray...he moves slower and I see an older man now. He’s in much better shape than me...but, I see the great change...Not the one I married who was dark and young and strong...but, like me, his age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.
    Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore—it’s mandatory!
    And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things.
    But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last...This I know, that when it’s over...I will enjoy the spring in the arms of my loving Father...and wait for my loved ones to come when their winter is over too.
    So, if you’re not in your winter yet...let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you want to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly!
    For, remember that scripture?...your life is but a vapor, it vanishes away...So, do what you can today, because you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!
    You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life...so live for God today and say all the things you want your loved ones to remember…

- Author unknown; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things We Cannot Escape

By Jerry Brewer
     Our daily lives are filled with constant decisions, and sometimes life’s demands become so great that we seek escape from those decisions. Fortunately for all of us, there are some things which we can escape in this life and avoid. But the Bible reveals certain things about our lives which we can never escape.
 

OUR INFLUENCE
     Every one of us wields some kind of influence by the life we live, the things we do, and the words we speak. That’s the meaning of Paul’s words in Romans 14:7: “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”
     The influence we have on others may be good or it may be bad, but we cannot escape influencing others. Whatever we do influences others to some degree.
 

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
     In Romans 14:12, Paul also wrote, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” The fact that we cannot escape personal accountability for our actions is something that most people do not understand in this age of irresponsibility.
     Like Adam, many people want to shift the blame for their own actions to someone else. When Adam sinned, he told God, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12). In that statement, Adam became the first man in history to not only blame his wife for his own actions, but to also blame his Father, who was God.
     But the fact remains that each of us is personally accountable to God,. I cannot serve God for my family and neither can they serve Him for me. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).
 

SIN’S CONSEQUENCES
     Sin has always had consequences and the ultimate consequence of sin is eternal death. Paul said, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). What most people don’t realize is that even sin which has been forgiven may have consequences. One may ruin his health by drunkenness or by drugs and later repent and become a Christian. When he obeys the Lord, his sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38) but the consequences of his actions will linger in his body that is dissipated by drugs and alcohol. But the greatest consequence of all is the eternal loss if one’s soul if his sins are not forgiven.
 

CONCLUSION
     But regardless of the sins we’ve committed, God has promised to forgive us when we obey the gospel of Christ. If one is willing to believe in Jesus as the Son of god (John 8:24), repent of his sins (Luke 13:3), confess his faith in the Son of God (Acts 8:37) and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38), his sins are forgiven by God. Friends, you can escape the eternal consequences of sin by doing these things.

- Jerry Brewer; via the
Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org 

What Will People Remember About My Teaching?

By Jerrie Barber
     I was going through my files and found this note written by Danny Lutz, December 4, 1974. I was reminded of the long-term investment that a teacher makes when she/he prepares a class and presents a lesson.
     Notice what Danny wrote and remembered about his first Sunday School teacher.
     The teacher that probably influenced me more than any other one was Mrs. Imogene Long. This was a long time ago when I first started coming to Sunday School at the church building on Grapevine Road. I was in about the 8th grade at school and never thought very much about the church. When I was encouraged to attend the church of  Christ by some of my friends, I found myself in Mrs. Long’s class. She was the first “real Sunday School teacher I had ever known. She amazed me because of her knowledge of the Bible and her reverence. She would not put up with any foolishness, but yet, she seemed just like one of us. After the class period, we  would sing some hymns. She enjoyed this very much. She especially liked to sing “Angry Words.” Mrs. Long just seemed “set apart” from other teachers I had known. She was not the most “learned” teacher that I have been studying under as I have progressed through the years, but, as far as impressing me with the church, she was probably the Most Important teacher I’ve ever had.
     What do you notice? Here’s what impressed me:

Danny started coming to class because some friends invited him.
He was fortunate to get in a class with an excellent teacher.
She knew her Bible.
She demonstrated an attitude of reverence.
She had order and respect in her class. This  was consistent with her attitude of respect.
She related well to her students.
She liked to sing and communicated that to her students.
     It has been more than three decades since I read this for the first time. I am again encouraged by this teacher and her student. Imogene Long died in 2005. Her life and lessons are still remembered.
     What will my students remember about me?

- Jerrie Barber; via
The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

25 Reasons to Remain Faithful to God

By Lance Cordle
  1. To see God (Matthew 5:8)
  2. To encourage others to remain faithful (Hebrew 13:7)
  3. To know the wonderful feeling of victory (Revelation 19:1,2)
  4. To live in a place where there are no tears (Revelation 21:4)
  5. To live in a place where there is no more pain (Revelation 21:4)
  6. To see my faithful friends who have died (Revelation 14:13)
  7. To see my faithful family members who have died  (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)
  8. To have no  regrets  (Philippians 1:23)
  9. To live in a place where there is no more pain (Revelation 21:4)
  10. To meet Antipas,  who literally  gave  his   life  for  Jesus (Revelation 2:13)
  11. To fully realize that the sufferings of this life are not worth to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18)
  12. To meet Abel, who, though now dead, still speaks (Hebrews 11:6)
  13. To live in a place where there is no more death (Revelation 21:4)
  14. To meet the great prophets  of the past who  remained faithful to the Lord (Hebrews 11:35-39)
  15. To hear the new song (Revelation 5:9) 
  16. To hear the song of Moses and the song of the  Lamb (Revelation 15:3)
  17. To rest from the labors of life (Revelation 14:13) 
  18. To meet the children who never had a chance to grow up (1 Samuel 12:23)
  19. To hear “Well done” (Matthew 25:21)
  20. To live in a  place that was prepared by Jesus for me (John 14:2)
  21. To live in a place where love continues and controls (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  22. To know the satisfaction of finishing the race (2 Timothy 4:7)
  23. To eat of the tree  of life (Revelation 2:7)
  24. To avoid the second death  (Revelation 2;11)
  25. To hear my name confessed before God  (Matthew 10:33)
“Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).                                    

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Are We Like Christ?

By Harry Middleton
     Some years ago, Brother G. F. Raines wrote about a young Buddhist who had made a very careful study of the life of our Lord said to a Christian: “Your Christ is wonderful, oh, so wonderful; but you Christians, you are not like him.”  Could it be that the Christian was left speechless by the accusation, because the force of the young Buddhist’s remark lies in the fact that he almost “hit the nail on the head”?
     Christ was a prayerful man (Luke 6:12); but too many “Christians” pray either infrequently or not at all.  If we were like Christ, we would continue “instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
     Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10); but do we “Christians” lose any sleep because of the impending fate of the lost?
     Christ’s primary concern was his “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49); but the work of the Lord is the thing about which many “Christians” are least concerned.
     Christ had no place “to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20); but too many “Christians” are so fond of luxuries that they will not contribute liberally for the propagation of God’s will.
     Christ fervently prayed that Christians might be “made perfect in one” (John 17:23; cf. 11:20-22); but too many “Christians” bite, devour and consume one another.
     A certain lady accurately expressed what real Christianity is when she said: “Christianity is putting Christ on inside, then letting him show on the outside.”

- Harry Middleton serves as one of the ministers for the Lebanon Road church of Christ in Nashville, TN. Adam Faughn serves as the pulpit minister for the congregation, and he may be contacted through the congregation’s website at:
http://www.lebanonroadchurchofchrist.org

Monday, January 2, 2012

Careful Where You Pitch Your Tent

By Edd Sterchi
     Abraham’s nephew Lot is a very interesting study in many areas. One of those areas can show us how sin can work its evil in our lives. It can be seen in the various places Lot finds himself and how his condition worsens each time. You may remember that when Abraham gave him a choice of which way he and his herdsman would go, “Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere” and “chose for himself all the plain of Jordan” (Gen. 13:10-11).
     From this point on, it is very interesting to note the places where Lot ends up. From them, we can learn the progressive and aggressive nature of temptation and sin.  
     First, we see Lot pitching his tent “toward Sodom” (Gen. 13:12, KJV). This meant that he set up camp in the direction of Sodom. Every day he went about his business, Sodom may well have been in sight, and Lot may have indeed been tempted to move ever closer toward Sodom’s wickedness.
     We next see Lot dwelling in Sodom (Gen. 14:12). By this time, Lot had moved into Sodom and was likely being influenced by the citizens’ wickedness in even greater proportions, since he was living amongst them.
     Finally, we see Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19:1). No longer was he simply a resident of that wicked city, he was apparently a leader of it (or at least in association with the leaders). The city gates are where the elders and city officials sat and conducted business. While compared to Sodom’s standards, Lot remained righteous (cf. 2 Pet. 2:7-8), the fact remains that by this time Lot had become quite influenced by evil. Else why would he call the Sodomites “brethren” (Gen. 19:7) or offer his daughters to be used sexually at the Sodomites’ wildest whims (Gen. 19:8)?
     I realize that some of what I have written is conjecture. We do not have all of the facts to know what was in Lot’s intentions or heart. But I do know this: the closer we dwell to sin, the easier it becomes to commit sin. And remember this - it all begins with where you pitch your tent.
     “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (Jas. 1:14-16).

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Jackson church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com 

Our Great Shepherd

By David R. Ferguson
     In John 10:2-4, Jesus says, "But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."
     What is the significance of Jesus using the parable of a shepherd overseeing his sheep to teach us a lesson about His Kingdom? It is significant because Jesus wanted us to understand that He came to the Earth to be born of a virgin in order that He become the Shepherd of His sheep. As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray…." Our iniquity has left us wandering lost and shepherdless in the wilderness of sin. Jesus came to be the Shepherd of His sheep so that He could lead them in the way He Himself prepared. A real shepherd goes before his flock, and the flock follows him because they have learned to trust him. If you are dealing with cattle, you must drive them from behind. But this is not the case with sheep. With them, you must lead them. The Lord Jesus came to be a Shepherd. That means He came so that the sheep could follow safely in His way. He will not ask you or I to take one step where He Himself has not trod. He goes before His sheep, but we must be willing to follow in His footsteps. We are to tread the path that He blazed.
    His path is not overly burdensome, for our Shepherd said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." The way of the Lord is not burdensome, but it is the only way we can find ourselves back to the Father. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes unto the Father, but by Me." So we have seen that following our Shepherd is not burdensome, and it is the only way back into the fold of the Father. Additionally, it is ultimately an exceedingly rewarding decision to follow our Shepherd, both in this life as well as in the life to come. Paul wrote that the sheep of the Lord have the privilege now "…to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 2:6-7). So let all who have had their sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb rejoice and follow after our Shepherd, the very Son of God "Who His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by Whose stripes you were healed. For you were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25) So take up your cross today and joyfully follow after Him!
    May the Lord bless you!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx 

A Work Unfinished

    The story is told about a distinguished carver who set out to create a great masterpiece in ivory. For many years he labored and labored until the piece began to take on a beautiful form.  He only needed a little more effort and the work would be finished.  Then, for some reason, the artist lost interest.  He cast aside the partially finished carving and refused to take the final steps that would have produced an outstanding piece of art.
    It is difficult to understand the motivation that would thus throw away the conscientious toil of a lifetime.
    The road to Christianity is something like that carving: the sincere searcher finds little difficulty in accepting a faith based on the Bible.
    Likewise, he is willing to find a new direction and is happy to confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    There also does not seem to be a problem with repentance of past sins, but immersion seems to be a stumbling block.  They ask the question: “Why should one submit to so humbling a process?”
    And so this person refuses to take the final step that brings one into Christ Jesus and that makes us part of His body, the church; unwilling to finish the beautiful carving.
    “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
    This, then, is still not the finish, for after this new life is born, it must be kept alive by steadfastly feeding upon the word of God and putting it into continuous practice.
    “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)
    The carving must not only be completed, but it must also be used.

- Author unknown, via
THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com