Monday, September 21, 2020

Life is too Short

By Bill Brandstatter

    One of my grandsons was married this year. Another grandson entered the sixth grade. Also, my wife and I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary later this year. I also signed up for Medicare this year. It just doesn’t seem possible all those events are happening in the same year. It seems like I get up at six in the morning, and before I know it five in the afternoon is upon me. All this has caused me to contemplate life; what the Bible says about the brevity of life and how seriously we need to be to make the most of the life we have. The point of Biblical teaching is that the importance of life is not so much the quantity of years as it is the quality. The Psalmist wrote, “We spend our lives as a tale that is told,” (Ps. 90:9 KJV). What kind of tale is your life telling? In thinking about the quality of our lives, emphasis is placed on making the most of the time we have.
    We should pay attention and make the most of our lives on earth. The Psalmist wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psa. 90:12 (NKJV) This is a similar thought Paul expressed when he wrote, “Redeeming our time because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16) As we look back on life, do we have any regrets? As we look at the present, are there any changes we need to make? As we look toward the future, is there anything we can do now to affect the future?
    We can’t just compare our lives to others by indicating we are better than someone else. Our souls are precious (Mt. 16:26). We should do some serious thinking about where we are spiritually and where we want to be eternally. Peter told the Jews on Pentecost, “Save yourselves” (Acts 2:40). I have to do something because the future will be here before I know it.
    We should make the most of our lives because we don’t have long here compared to eternity. Peter described our lives as grass that eventually withers and falls away (1 Pet. 1:24). Life is compared in the Bible to: a sigh (Ps. 90:9); sleep (Ps. 90:5); a shadow (Eccl. 6:12); a moment (2 Co. 4:17); and a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6). Many of us can identify with these descriptions. We see how accurate these descriptions are every day we live.
    How are spending our lives? Do we pay more attention to the physical comforts of life than we do the spiritual? Jesus said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Let us be more diligent in our spiritual lives in case death comes too early for us and our lives are cut short.
Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/ 


“If They Do Not Listen …”

By Joe Chesser
 
    The story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is fascinating on several points. It gives us insight as to what happens to us after we die. Lazarus was taken by angels to Abraham’s side, a place of comfort (16.25). When the rich man died he went to a place of torment (16.23). The story tells us that once death has taken place, our destiny is forever sealed (16.26). A great chasm is fixed to prevent movement from one place to the other (16.26). No second chances.
    But to me, the greatest impact of this story is how it ends. Why? Because the ending of the story affects every one of us now … today. The rich man could do nothing about where he was eternally, but he desperately wanted his five brother who were still living on earth to avoid ending up in torment with him. His hope was that if Abraham would send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brothers about the horrors of the place of torment, that they would pay special attention to someone who had come back from the dead, and repent. The rich man knew his five brothers were heading to the same place he was … and he didn’t want them to join him there.
    Abraham’s answer speaks volumes about how people listen to God and His word, both then and now. Abraham told the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (16.31). In the Scriptures God has “given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1.3). There is evidence enough in the Bible for everyone who wants to know how to go to heaven when they die to do so. No new miracles or signs are needed. The apostle John put it this way: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.30-31). The problem is not insufficient information. The problem is that most people are not listening to the word of God and doing what it says. The rich man and his brothers had access to God’s way of salvation, but they chose not to live by them, as do many today.
    Over and over God warns us about listening to Him. That means hearing what He says and doing what He says.  Jesus said the wise builder is the one who hears God’s words and puts them into practice (Matthew 7.24). James warned his readers, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1.19). Only those who do the will of God will enter into his kingdom (Matthew 7.21). Your soul is too valuable for you to refuse to listen to and obey God.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com 


Lights for the Lord

By Gerald Cowan

Holes in the darkness we would be
O Lord of light, O Lord of love.
The light and love that come from Thee
Who brought it to us from above,
Who opened up our eyes to see
And opened up our hearts to love.

Curtains of ignorance and doubt
Hide from our eyes, hide from our hearts
The Lord we willingly shut out.
The Lord from whom we stand apart
And whom we cannot live without,
Now threatens from us to depart.
   
Out of the dark abyss of hate
Can we still climb?  We try to crawl,
But selfishness does not abate,
Self pleasing sin has caused our fall.
Have our eyes opened Lord too late?
Is there a way to save us all?
   
Dressed in God’s armor we can find
Salvation and security.
Protected body, soul, and mind
In Christ we have immunity.
Our ever watchful Lord will bind
All threats to soil our purity.

We would punch holes of living hope
Into the darkness of despair
When we with troubles cannot cope,
Life seems destroyed beyond repair
And victory exceeds our scope,
Punch holes of our God’s loving care.

Holes in the darkness. Lord we yearn
To be in Christ, to be Christ-filled,
To overflow with what we learn,
With Him His cause on earth to build,
By overcoming with Him earn
The heav’n that for us He has willed.
- 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


Caught From Behind

By Ron Thomas

    The year, I think, was the Fall of 1981. I was playing rugby with the only team from Marion, Ohio; we were playing Ohio Wesleyan University on campus in Delaware. I don’t remember whether we won the match or not, but I remember very well being caught from behind. In rugby (similar to football) there are no forward passes allowed; all passing must be backward laterals. Defensively, I was playing outside center, which put me in perfect position to intercept one of those laterals. I did! As I was running with much energy down the field I was caught from behind by “Speedy Gonzales” (had to be his name!); not only did he catch me, but his tackle drilled my right shoulder in the concrete-hard dirt. I don’t remember much of the game, but I remember that.
    Do you try to outrun anything? There are many things in our past we try to outrun. They are scarred memories. Perhaps we never addressed them or, perhaps, we did but their imprint won’t leave us alone. If we have not addressed them then be sure your sin will find you out. These are the words of Moses to some of the tribes of Israel when they promised him they would cross the Jordan River and fight for their brethren as they settled the land (Numbers 32:23).
    You promised the Lord in your conversion He would be the One to whom you would devote your life. That means there is no other who has such a hold on you as the Lord does – and for good reason, the Lord Jesus died to give you His life. He is your everything, He is your all.
    It might be painful and embarrassing to give attention to a significant failing or failings in your life. It would be for any of us. True as that may be, what is the alternative? Carry it with you? You will be caught from behind.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


God, What Can I Do For You?

By Donna Wittlif

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always  abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord  your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58, ESV).
    Fanny J. Crosby's blindness came from a doctor's  mistreatment for an eye infection when she was one year  old. Fanny did not let blindness hinder her, nor was she  bitter. However, her one wish was to be able to read. She  tried to go to school, but the teachers did not know how  to teach her, and they sent her home. But her  grandmother read the Bible to Fanny daily, and she  memorized what she heard. She often prayed to God,  asking, "What can I do for You?"
    Fanny's gift from God was her ability to compose  poetry, which she had friends write down. Her mind and  heart were filled with God's word, and she turned to it for  her poetry. During her lifetime she wrote and had set to  music hundreds of the hymns that Christians all over the  world sing. She was voted one of the most important  women in the United States.
    "What can I do for you today, God?" This is a prayer  we can say every morning. It will turn our minds from our  troubles to God's power and strength as He works for us,  with us, and through us. No matter what our  circumstances are in life, God will use us in His kingdom  when we give our lives and our substance to Him.
    Let God surprise you. You may think you have no  talents to use for Him, but He will show you what you can  do. Whether it be a cup of cold water given in His name,  or some great deed, God will guide you and bless you. As  James wrote, "But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law  of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who  acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:25). May God  bless you as you work for Him.
- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils, and her newest book, Finding Her Heart,  are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit her website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Family

By Ron Thomas

    The smallest unit in society is the individual. An individual, however, does not desire to be alone so; as the Lord set it up, marriage takes place wherein the two become one (Genesis 2:21-24). This is exclusively for the male and female, a heterosexual relationship. The Lord does not recognize homosexual relationships; in fact, He considers homosexuality an abomination. The natural outgrowth of this heterosexual relationship is a small family, starting with the husband and wife; the union between the two results in children. As the family starts with two, with children it goes to three, then four, perhaps more. Whatever the number, the smallest unit in society has now turned into a family with a generation to follow.
    Because of confusion, there are some in society who take unnatural relationship, relationships the Lord considers an abomination, and try to make it natural. It won’t work! That which is unnatural has its origin in this world, from the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). In the Lord’s plan, the male/husband/father is the leader in the family, the female/wife/mother is in submission to his leadership. His leadership must be patterned after the Lord's way, a way of love and righteousness. If the family is not patterned after the Lord’s way, the family sways to and fro, like a boat on the water with wave after wave, no steadiness in the hand that leads. With no steadiness at the helm, where does the ship with a family on it go? Perhaps into the realm of the unknown, directed by hearts uncertain about what to do, how to do it. If a person says he/she knows what to do and how to do it, then this family on a ship tossed back and forth in the midst of a tumultuous sea will arrive at a destination not of their choosing. In either case, without the Lord, not much of a journey!

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Sometimes Family Members are Wrong!

By Ron Thomas

    As important as one’s family is, sometimes family members are very wrong about others. Two examples: consider Jephthah. He was the son of his father Gilead, but to a woman not the mother of his siblings (Judges 11). When the children were grown, because Jephthah was not a “full-blooded” member of the family (i.e., having the same mother as they), they kicked him out and down the road (so to speak). Because he was thrust out from the family and on his own, he had to make his own way; he learned how to be a warrior. A portion of Israel was in trouble, the children of Ammon were beating down the door (if you will) and because Jephthah proved himself a man of valor, Jephthah was called to lead them in this difficult time. They judged him unacceptable, but then changed their minds when they were in a hard spot.
    Second, David was the youngest son of Jesse, a devoted man to the Lord. David was a man of valor, but his older brothers did not see him the way the Lord did. David was a courageous man. On one notable occasion, when his older brothers fought for King Saul in the Israelite army, a huge man named Goliath called out Israel for a warrior to do battle. David asks about this and his older brother took exception to David’s inquiry. Nevertheless, David steps forward during Goliath’s mocking. In the end, David is victorious.
    Sometimes families get things wrong. If they judge family members wrong, people they know well, how well will they judge things they don’t know as well? If you have family members against you or who are not sure about you (including the church family), be reminded there were others before you. What should you do? Stay the course of righteousness, trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding about how to navigate uncertainty. You will also be victorious.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/