Monday, December 31, 2012

Daily Bible Study

By Travis L. Quertermous

     The wise king Solomon once wrote, "And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh" (Eccl. 12:12). Every high school and college student can certainly amen that statement! And yet, as wearisome as study can be sometimes, it is necessary to our continued intellectual and professional growth. I recently learned that a doctorate degree is out-of-date in seven years; so even those with PH.D.'s must continue to study if they are to keep up in their profession.
     The same thing is true with our spiritual growth. The only way this can happen is if we study God's Word, the Bible, every day. The Apostle Peter taught, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Just as babes crave their bottles, so Christians should have an instinctive desire to study their Bibles. This is the nourishment our souls need if we are to become mature children of God.
     The Berean Jews were called noble by God because "they searched the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11). What would He call you based on your Bible study habits? Are you feeding yourself spiritually everyday on the word of God? Or are you stunting your spiriual growth?

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the Church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Resolution Time

By Patrick Hogan

     Several years ago I ran across an advertisement for a grassroots movement that labeled itself "The Resolution Begins." Begun by a group of somewhat idealistic young adults, its focus was to get people to make an impact. Obviously, these were  more than vague promises to lose weight, to start exercising, or to get into better shape. These resolutions were big. Their introductory statement included the following: "Unlike most resolutions, which shoot too low, and are thus forgotten - these are resolutions that have power precisely because they are ridiculously ambitious. "This is bigger and better than an revolution. This is The  Resolution."
     A cursory reading of a partial list of their resolutions shows that the expression "ridiculously ambitious" might be  something of an understatement. I will spare you the details, but trust me, the proposed resolutions were indeed ambitious.
     As we approach 2011 and begin thinking about New Year's Resolutions, perhaps we should take a lesson from The Resolution Begins. Instead of making resolutions that won't last beyond the first of February, or make that much of a difference, we should consider setting some ambitious  goals. One such resolution could be to become more like Jesus wants us to be in the coming year.
     For me, this will be an ambitious goal because it is so easy to coast and just be like I've always been. However, such a resolution can really make a difference, not just in me, but in those I meet.
     Here are some steps each of us can take to help us become more like Jesus wants us to be:
- Personal Bible reading and study to learn more what Jesus is like and what He wants us to become.
- Prayer in which we humble ourselves before the Father and ask Him to give us the strength to become what He wants us to be.
- Regular attendance at worship assemblies where we praise God, remember what Jesus has done and continues to do for us and where we gain strength form being with other Christians.
- Regular participation in Bible classes where we learn not only from God's Word but also from the knowledge and experience of His children.
    Resolving to become morel like Jesus would have us to be is an ambitious goal. It can involve repentance. It requires humility. It requires changes in attitudes, actions and priorities. Keeping this resolution, to whatever degree possible, gives us greater joy and peace, and enables us to influence others in a more positive way.
     Let the resolution begin!

- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres Church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at

What I Love about the Church

by Adam Faughn
     I love the Church…
- Because Christ loves the Church.
- Because Christ bought the Church.
- Because God watches over the Church.
- Because the Bible guides the Church.
- Because the Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.”
- Because the Church is a family.
- Because the Church has her headquarters in heaven.
- Because my fellow Christians are the salt of the earth.
- Because my brothers and sisters weep, laugh, and struggle alongside me.
- Because the Church is the home of the saved.
- Because incalculable good works have been done (and are being done) by the Church.
- Because the devil will never overtake the Church.
There are many other reasons, but that list represents some of my favorites. If I had to choose just one reason why I love the Church, though, it is because it is the Church “of Christ.” It is His Church, and it is to His glory.
     As Christ died on the cross, His blood served as the substitution for my sins, but it also purchased the Church. It saddens me that some are moving away from placing His name on the Church that He purchased. While “Church of Christ” isn’t the only Biblical designation for the Church, it is a name we should wear proudly, since Christ is ever proud of His Church.
     Each time I reflect on the name placed on the marquee of our building, on our bulletin, and in dozens of other places, I am filled with thankfulness, because Christ loved the Church enough that “He gave Himself for her.” Unity, excitement, motivation, and service should all be spawned from that one idea.
     Why do I love the Church?
     What’s not to love!

- Adam Faughn serves as the pulpit minister for the Lebanon Road Church of Christ in Nashville, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website at:

Monday, December 24, 2012

If Baptism Is Not A Condition of Salvation, Will You Answer These Questions?

By Franklin Camp

“Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

    If baptism is not a condition of salvation, why did Peter mention baptism, since he was answering the question of what to do to be saved? (Acts 2:37).
    If salvation comes after baptism, would not repentance also follow salvation, since they are joined by the conjunction “and”?
    Are not repentance and baptism in this verse both for the same purpose?
    If salvation comes before baptism, why does Peter say it is for the remission of sins?
    If the phrase, “for the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38 means because of remission, would not the same phrase in Matthew 26:28 mean because of remission of sins?
    Did Jesus shed His blood because men were already saved?

    If Christ did not shed His blood because men were already saved, would it not follow that men are not baptized because they are already saved? The phrase in Matthew 26:28 and Acts 2:38 are identical in both the Greek and English.
    Would it not be a false doctrine to teach that Christ shed His blood because men were already saved?
    Likewise, is it not a false doctrine to teach that men are baptized, because they are already saved?
    If the people on Pentecost were saved before they were baptized, why were they not added to the church until they were baptized, since such as should be saved were added to the church?
    The word church means “the called out” and only those baptized were added to the church. If one is saved before he is baptized, would he be saved before he is called out of the world?
    Is salvation in the world or in Christ? (2 Tim. 2:10).
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the words that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
“Then cometh the devil and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).
Can one be saved and not receive the Word? All who received the Word on Pentecost were baptized.
    Were there any on Pentecost who were saved that did not receive the Word?
    Does the Word say “baptized for the remission of sins” or “baptized because of remission of sins”?
    How is it possible for one to be baptized as the Word teaches, and not be baptized for the remission of sins?
    If you were not baptized for the remission of sins, you were not baptized as the Word teaches and therefore were not saved.
    If not, why not?

- Franklin Camp; 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:

When We Go . . . They Come!

By Ira North

    With a consistent visitation program your Sunday morning Bible school cannot fail to grow; without it you cannot succeed!
    It is just that simple. To grow in Sunday school attendance you should:
1. Visit every absentee—every week. 2. Visit all new comers that enroll the week they enroll. 3. Visit every week the visitor that comes to class.
     A church in a new community had 100 in Sunday school. They made a vow to visit every visitor, every new comer and every absentee. They met on Monday evening at 7:00 and had a short meeting in which they prayed, passed out the cards of the visitors, new comers and absentees of the day before (Sunday) and then went out to visit. Result—they went from 100 to 700 in Sunday school in three years.
    You may not achieve this phenomenal percentage, but brother you’ll be surprised at the result if you keep it up consistently, completely, and thoroughly for three years. WHEN WE GO—THEY COME!
     It is the responsibility of every Christian to visit. Another can no more do your visiting than he can do your praying, your Bible reading or your giving. Those on the left hand at the judgment bar of God shall receive the ringing condemnation— “ . . . Ye visited me not.”
     The great commission still says GO (Mark 16:15,16). We can never obey this divine command by staying. We need to go across the sea, and we also need to go across the street. Every Christian must be a going Christian.

- Ira North; 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:


By Wendell Winkler

     What are the “priorities” at your house?
     What priorities will be established in our children when the following things happen?
     1. We are early for the game but late to the worship.
     2. We see to it that our children do their homework but never check to seek if Bible lessons are completed,
     3. They are not allowed to stay up late on school nights lest it infringe upon their school work but are allowed to stay up and watch the "LATE SHOW" on Saturday night, though they will be attending Bible Class the next morning.
     4. We will not let them miss school even though they do not want to attend, but we cater to their whims and let them miss Bible Class.
     5. We know the names of their school teachers, but cannot call the names of the Bible Class teachers at church.
     6. We will serve as room mother or president of the PTA at school, but what about helping with a function in the Bible Class.
     7. We will attend their school open house but not their open house on the last day of V.B.S.
     8. We will not schedule vacations so as to make them miss school, but what about V.B.S. and Gospel Meetings. .
     9. They see us go to work even though we do not feel well but stay at home from church under the same circumstances.
    10. They see us look at and study their school work but never pay any attention at all to their handwork brought home from Bible Class.

--Wendell Winkler
; 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:

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Perspective on Sandy Hook Elementary School

By Steve Higginbotham
    On Friday, another senseless school shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  In total, 26 people were murdered, 20 of whom were children between the ages of 6 and 7 years of age.  As the news of this horrific event was unfolding, I sat glued to my computer, wanting to know what happened. However, I soon found myself increasingly angered and sickened by what this young man perpetuated on these innocent people.
    Today is Monday, and I’ve heard enough.  I don’t want to know what kind of ammunition the murderer used.  I don’t want to know what kind of guns he used.  I don’t want to know how many times each child was shot, or the damage that was inflicted by the rounds he chose to use.  I don’t want to hear any more arguments pro or con concerning gun control.  I’ve heard enough.  Today, I am angry and saddened for the families of those who suffered loss.  But it’s those feelings of anger that I want to address, because I’m supposing that I’m not the only Christian who is experiencing those same feelings.  Does the anger I feel make me less of a Christian?  After all, Christianity is a religion of love and forgiveness.  Do I just need to be more mature as a Christian?
    Consider.  The Bible contains several “imprecatory” statements (e.g. Psalm 69:22-28; Psalm 5:10; Psalm 59; Psalm 79; Psalm 109).  The word, “Imprecatory” means “to invoke evil.” However, as you read these Psalms, keep in mind that they were written by David, a man after God’s own heart.  How could David say such things?  Well, if we realize that these statements were not written due to the desire for personal revenge, but because of the unrighteousness of David’s enemies, and their sins against God, they are easier to process.  David was zealous for God and his will.
    Likewise, consider the persecution of early Christians by the Roman empire and read the words of those who had been martyred (Revelation 6:9-10).  They cried out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood…?”  Were they unforgiving and bitter because of their personal loss, or were they calling for action that would bring an end to a persecution that was attempting to thwart the righteous cause of God?
    Today, I’m angry.  But what I am most angry about is how the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school, were such an offense to God and his creation.  What took place was not just an assault against children, families, and our nation, it was an attack against all that is holy and right. And for that reason, we have every right to be angry and desire justice.  In fact, when viewed from this perspective, it emboldens me to give no place to the Devil in my life.  At times, the Devil courts us, tempts us, teases us, and promises us pleasure and happiness, but when the disguise is removed, and we see him for what he really is, I choose to have no part in his deceptive dealings (Can you recall the scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life” when George Bailey shook hands with Mr. Potter after being promised great wealth and power.  It was at that moment, he could see through the disguise and realize just who he was dealing with).
    If you find yourself angry over the shootings, good, you should be angry.  Such emotions are holy.  But make sure you direct that anger toward the one who brought sin and death into this world, and allow it to cause you to cling more tightly to our only hope – Jesus, who alone can deliver us from such wickedness.
         (Of course the “evil” that I speak of in this article is based on the presupposition that this young man was not so mentally impaired that he could not discern that his actions were wrong).

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

What Kind of Christian Are You?

By Gary Knuckles
     What kind of Christian are you? I’m not talking about church preference or some kind of generic faith. I’m talking about your character. Basically, what is your role in the local church? The apostle, John, wrote to some first century Christians and made reference to three men among them. In 3 John, he revealed something about the character of each man. Two of these were men worthy of imitation, one was a man who did them great harm.
     In verses 1-8, John mentioned Gaius, a man who was dearly beloved and who held firmly to the truth. In fact, his reputation was so good that the brethren “came and testified of the truth” that was in him. (3,4) He was generous (6) and had helped missionaries in their travels. His work for the Lord had been productive and the church was better as a result. Every congregation needs people like Gaius, people who are reliable and unafraid to stand for the truth.
     Unfortunately, this church also had another man...Diotrephes. In 3 John 9, John says he loved to “have the preeminence” indicating that he was carnal in his thinking. His actions betray a selfish spirit, the kind of spirit that must have everything its own way. He spoke evil of the apostles, would not help missionaries as did Gaius, and withdrew from those who assisted these missionaries in any way. (10) So bad was his character, that John exhorted the brethren not to follow his evil ways. That’s pretty strong language coming from the “apostle of love!” There is not a congregation anywhere that needs a Diotrephes…the fewer of them, the better!
     A third man in this congregation was Demetrius. Though only one verse in this short epistle mentions him, we learn that he was a great man! Look at John’s description of Him. “Well spoken of by everyone...even by the truth...we (apostles) also speak well of him.” (10) Need a dependable brother in the church? Demetrius is your man! He isn’t a man who will run out on you like Demas did with Paul. (2 Tim. 4:10) He is more like Luke who stayed with Paul through the difficult times as well as the good. (2 Tim. 4:11) I have known people like Demetrius, and they have blessed my life.
     Which of these men best describes you? Every church needs people who will stand for the truth and follow up their faith with good works. No church needs people who are bent on making the church exactly like them. All of us should strive to be more like Gaius and Demetrius.
     These are the kind of people that will make the church strong!

- Gary Knuckles preaches for the Briensburg Church of Christ near Benton, KY. You may contact him via the congregation's website:

Quality of Life

By Tom Moore
    “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold” (Proverbs 3:13-14).
    If we are serious about improving our “quality of life,” we need to work harder at improving our thinking. As we reach forward to better things, both in this life and the one to come, we need to spend less time on our circumstances and more time on our wisdom. Better thinking is what our progress usually depends on. It is a valuable key that opens a great many doors.
    Often, the thing that holds us back in life is some wrong idea that is lodged in our minds. Wise people work every day to remove as many falsehoods as they can from their thinking. Like a farmer patiently removing the rocks from his fields, we need to be getting rid of the untruths that hinder our productiveness and our progress toward God.
    Sometimes it is not an untruth that hinders us but simply a failure to see enough of the truth. Many of the most frustrating things in life are frustrating because we are so bogged down in them we cannot see what else is true. We should get in the habit of “going to the balcony” and looking down on our difficulties from a vantage point that offers a more complete view.
    To God, our ill-informed efforts at self-improvement must appear quite silly. We continue to hammer away at problems with thoughts and attitudes that have proven over and over again to be the wrong tools for the job. Wouldn’t it be smart to get better tools? “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them” (Albert Einstein). Without better thinking, we will stay stuck in our ruts.
    Ultimately, of course, the path to better thinking always takes us into the Scriptures. Nothing can remove falsehoods and widen our perspective more helpfully than God’s own mind, and we are at our problem-solving best when we are honestly searching the Scriptures. In the long run, neither our thinking nor our doing will get better if the Psalmist’s prayer is not our own: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psa. 119:18).
    Because there is no limit to how much you can improve the quality of your thinking, there is no real limit to how much you can improve your life. 

- Tom Moore, Malvern, AR, 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:

Rules or Love?

By Johnny Hester
     Long ago I grew tired of the wrangling: "Is the Bible a 'book of rules' or a 'love letter'?" The very posing of the question itself reflects an obvious need for greater spiritual maturity. Think about it ...
     The small child may, at times, see his parents primarily as dictators - whose sole funtion in life, it seems, is to issure restrictions and rules by which he must abide. "Rules! Is that all they thinlk about?" However, when the child matures, he begins to see that these rules were clear evidence of his parent's love. The rules were not issued to benefit the parents, but to protect, guide and bless the child.
     So it is with our Father in heaven. Rules? Yes, God gives us rules by which He expects us to abide. His revelation to man, the bible, should be seen as loving instruction which will ultimately lead us to Him. He loves us and wants us to live with Him eternally in heaven.
      Carefully examine the words of Jesus: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has not one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:12-13). Just imagine the phenomenal change and the amazing blessings which would result from our living one another in the same way Jesus loves us. He was willing to die on a Roman cross for our salvation. There is no greater love than that which would compel one to "lay down [his] life for his friends!" To love one another in just this way, said Jesus, "is My commandment." It is a rule issued in love to foster love among us.
     Let us endeavor to grow in our love for the Lord. This, will, in turn, enable us to love one another as He loves us.

- Johnny Hester preaches for the Shady Acres Church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at

Monday, December 10, 2012

“Going to Church”

By Robert N. Lambert
     For most of us, the idea of “going to church” is as much a part of our lives as eating lunch.  Attending the worship services is something that is important to many people, and they feel as if something is missing if for some reason they miss attending worship.  But there is an important question: Do you enjoy “going to church?”
     There are many people who always look forward to Sunday.  They genuinely enjoy taking advantage of the opportunity to worship God each Lord’s Day.  They arrive ready to worship and leave feeling uplifted or at least challenged to use that week to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and labor in His vineyard.  These people never complain about the weather, the preacher, the temperature in the auditorium, the crying babies, or their own ailments.  They make it a point to arrange their schedules so that nothing will hinder them from being in attendance.  They sing whole-heartedly, listen intently, give generously and commune thoroughly with their Lord and their brethren.
     On the other hand there are those few who are never satisfied with “going to church.”  They seem to find something wrong with everything and everybody.  They seem bored with the services.  They never sing, never give and never spend any time in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.  One preacher commented that there was a brother who slept through every sermon.  The preacher blamed himself until he realized that this brother was asleep before he had ever said a word.  According to this preacher, “He may not have received much spiritual uplift from the services, but he always left refreshed.”
     The question is: Why are some like the Psalmist who said, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1), while others are like the people in Malachi’s day who complained, “Behold what a weariness is it!” (Malachi 1:13)? Is it the way in which the services are conducted? That is possible, but my experience has been that that is rarely the problem.  The problem is almost always one of attitude.  Preparation for Sunday worship should begin on Monday and continue until worship time begins.  If we tune our hearts to prepare and provide the Lord with a proper spiritual sacrifice, then each Sunday will be seen as a blessing, yet one more opportunity to praise the God of our salvation.  It is also true that our interest in and appreciation of worship is in direct proportion to how much we have invested in it.  Think what God has invested in us. Let us, then, worship gladly. 

– Robert N. Lambert, The Main Street Harbinger, Milan, Tenn.;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: 

Known Because of Kindness

By Lance Cordle
“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” (Acts 9:36, NASBU)
     A discouraging aspect of current American culture is the seemingly endless fascination with celebrities—actors, athletes, and those who are fabulously wealthy. Not only are there entire television programs and magazines devoted to this cult of celebrity worship, but even “serious” news programs have segments filled with the latest “buzz” and celebrity gossip. Most of the people followed, worshiped, and profiled live lives of shallow hedonism.
     How refreshing it is, then, to turn to the pages of the Bible and be introduced to a woman whose life was characterized by deeds of kindness. Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) was a Christian at Joppa, a city on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. Readers of the Bible are introduced to Tabitha because she died, but she was significant because of the way she lived her life. You can read her brief story in Acts 9: 36-43.
     First, notice that the Bible makes special mention of her kindness. The first words of the narrative are those explaining who she was. The Bible says she was “abounding with deeds of kindness.” She was not know for one deed, but many—an overflowing number. Also, it is said the she “continually did” acts of kindness. This was a way of life for her. Thus, it not only describes her deeds, but her heart.
     Secondly, take note of the fact that her brothers and sisters in Christ made a special effort to get Peter to go to Joppa. Wayne Jackson, in his commentary on Acts, makes mention of normalcy of same-day burial (Acts 5:6) and the delay in Tabitha ‘s case. He also wonders if their delay and call for Peter were indicators of their hope that he could do something about her death (The Acts of the Apostles from Jerusalem to Rome, p. 119).
     Finally, as you read the account of Tabitha, notice the impact of her passing on those she had affected. The widows (an often-neglected class then and now) stood by crying and displaying clothing she had made (presumably for them). Her life was so meaningful that the impact of her death was powerful.
     We would likely not have known of Tabitha if it had not been for her kindness. Not only did she make a difference in the lives of people then, but she continues to affect people today, because of her kindness. What a beautiful life—that started in a beautiful heart! How’s your heart?

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: