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Monday, July 26, 2021

"Not's" in the Devil's Tale

By Clifton Angel

    Satan is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). His first deception recorded for us is found at Genesis 3:1. Satan said, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every  tree  of  the  garden?"  In  other  words,  "Did  God  really  say  you  are forbidden to eat of every tree of the garden?" God said, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it" (Genesis 2:16–17).
    His second lie recorded for us is found at Genesis 3:4. Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die." God said, "for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). In both occasions, Satan added only one word: "NOT." So, let us note 6 "not"s in the Devil's Tale.
    Jesus  said,  "He  that  believeth  and  is  baptized  shall  be  saved"  (Mark  16:16). Satan says, "He that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved."
    Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). Satan says, "Seek NOT first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." Satan  wants  us  to  put  the  things  of  this  world—our  jobs,  our  hobbies,  our sports, our passions, our talents, our families, etc.—above the church, which is the kingdom of God.
    Jesus  said,  "If  ye  love  me,  ye  will  keep  my  commandments"  (John  14:15). Satan  says,  "If  you  love  Jesus,  you  will  NOT  keep  His  commandments." Besides, Jesus' love on the cross covers all sins, so just stop trying to avoid sin, right? That's a lie of the devil.
    Jesus prayed to the Father, "That they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:22). It is Satan's endeavor, "That they may NOT be one." And how vastly is the religious world listening to Satan. How many different denominations are there today? Why don't we just go back to the Bible and be a part of Jesus' ONE church?
    Jesus  said,  "The  wicked  shall  go  away  into  eternal  punishment"  (Matthew 25:46). Satan says, "The wicked shall NOT go away into eternal punishment." How  many  do  you  know  that  when  someone  dies  they  say  that  person  is automatically  going  to  heaven.  It  does  not  matter  if  they  were  ungodly, adulterers, drunkards, fornicators, etc., they are going to heaven.
    God said, "Ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Satan says, "Ye may NOT know that ye  have  eternal  life." How many  Christians  do we know that understand the Bible's teaching that we CAN fall from grace, yet they live their lives on eggshells as if we fall in and out of it all day long. We need to remember 1 John 1:7 and strive to walk in the light, so that, we can "know that we have eternal life."
    Satan is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). Have you fallen prey to his lies? 
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/


The Powerful Word of God

By Ron Thomas

    In Jeremiah 23, the Lord is very displeased with the shepherds of Israel because they have no heart for His word and way; instead, they desired, strongly, their own ways. Who are the shepherds? The context must determine who are they and the context speaks against the prophets and priests. As a class, the lord condemned them (23:11); as a class, they failed to honor the Lord and hold true to His revelation (there were exception, such as Jeremiah). It is not unlikely they had significant income and a respected status, not wanting to lose either. How were the common folk going to please the Lord with such shepherds? They couldn’t – if they listened and followed the examples set for them by those bad leaders (23:32).
    On the other hand, if they heard and obeyed the Lord’s word, as spoken by Jeremiah, the power of the Lord’s message would penetrate their heart so effectively it would have changed them. Even if someone has such a calloused heart, could they ever have turned back to the Lord? The Lord knew they could if they desired to do so, that is why He had Jeremiah preach to them, calling on them to repent (cf. 22:4-5; 32:33).
    This gets to a significant point: there is no hardness of man, no power of Satan that can prevent the Lord’s word from penetrating a heart that wants to hear the Lord’s message of hope. The Gospel message is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). To the saints in Colossae, the Lord’s apostle knew just how hardened they were in their evil ways of thinking before the Gospel came to them (1:21). When he brought the message to them, the hardness of heart with some melted away (1:3-7). They heard the word of truth, they understood it, and they desired to learn more of it. In John 6:44-45, the Lord knew what would draw people to Him. Whatever might be said about the miraculous signs that Jesus did, it was the message of God that educated and changed minds.
    This would have been the same in Jeremiah’s day if those who heard the Lord’s word would have desired to change; they had it within themselves to move in the direction of God and His message. How do I know this? Because the Lord said they could (18:7-8). As it was, they chose not too! Therefore, the Lord was able to hold them accountable for rejecting His word (cf. Acts 13:46); it’s a very bitter thing to forsake the Lord, rejecting His holy will for the person and the nation (2:19).
    Just as the word of God is a lamp unto the feet of those who walk on the Lord’s path (Psa. 119:105), it is, also, Is not my word like fire? saith Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces (23.29)? 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Christ Wants Us!

By Edd Sterchi

    In Philippians 4, we see three things that Christ wants of us:
    * Christ wants us to be what we ought to be. Phil. 4:11, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Jesus wants us to be content and satisfied with life. And as long as we have Him in our lives, we need nothing else. In Him we can and should be content.
    * Christ wants us to do what we ought to do. Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We can do anything that is within God’s will for our life. There are many things we ought to do that involve praising Him and promoting His cause. In Him we should have the motivation to love and serve Him.
    * Christ wants us to have what we ought to have. Phil. 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” If we be what we ought to be and do what we ought to do, then Christ will make sure that we have what we ought to have. If we fully trust Him, He will save us and sustain us. What more do we need? Whatever it is, Christ will be sure to provide that also.
    Christ wants us to be what we ought to be, to do what we ought to do, and to have what we ought to have. Christ wants us. Does He have you – all of you?
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/


I Just Can’t Understand The Bible!

By Joe Slater

    Yes. You. Can!
    Will it be easy peasy lemon squeezy? Not likely. Will you understand everything completely the first time you read it? Of course not, but you could say that about practically anything.
    One major religion teaches that the “laity” (as opposed to the “clergy”) cannot understand the Bible, so that group’s hierarchy must interpret it and tell the people what it means. Paul the apostle disagrees! “By revelation He (the Lord) made known to me the mystery(as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:3-4).
    Now that same apostle wrote “some things hard to understand.” So said another apostle (2 Peter 3:16). But he didn’t say “impossible to understand,” nor did he suggest not even trying to understand.
    The blessed man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Yes, understanding the Bible takes study (not mere reading) and serious thought. “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
    Take full advantage of every opportunity to understand the Bible. Study in private. Study with others in Bible classes. While going about your daily tasks, think about what you have read from the Scriptures. Difficult passages will become clearer as you study and learn texts that are more obvious. And remember, understanding is not an end in itself. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


The Speech Test

By Al Behel

    James speaks of the power of the tongue. He says we can use the same tongue to praise God and curse other people. We have heard such speech. May I suggest that all speech should pass three acid tests before being uttered toward another.
    1) First, is it true? In Exodus 20:16 God said, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” An untrue statement about another can destroy that person for good.
    2) Second, is it needed? The Bible says, “...he who repeats a matter alienates a friend. Whatever we say about another should serve a worthy and noble cause. Otherwise, we should not say it.
    3) Third, is it kind? “The words of a talebearer are as wounds” (Proverbs 18:8). Nothing cuts more deeply or does more harm than the thoughtless words of a gossiper. It grows bigger the more times it is repeated. We should always strive for kindness in all that we say. 
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/


Sunday, July 18, 2021

An Introduction to Ephesians

By Jeff Arnette

     Paul first arrived in Ephesus on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). He visited a second time during his third missionary trip (Acts 19) which proved to be a tumultuous time for the church. People were baptized, silversmiths were infuriated, and a riot even broke out. Paul’s relationship to Ephesus was interesting, to say the least.
     He wrote the letter to the Ephesians in the early 60’s while in a Roman prison. Three other letters were written at this time which includes Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Based on evidence within Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Tychicus was the person who hand-delivered the letters.
     It is typically easy to determine a reason for the letter, but Ephesians is a little more challenging. From the topics discussed, it is clear that the church was dealing with false teachers which were something Paul had already warned the elders at Ephesus about (Acts 20:28-32). Despite these clear problems, Ephesians boldly declares and promotes the idea of reconciliation and unity of all things in Jesus Christ.
     Ephesians is a unique summation of Paul’s teachings on Christ, salvation, and the glorious role of the church in God’s plan for all mankind. It was the favorite letter of John Calvin and as one commentator claimed, only Romans has exercised more influence on Christian thought (Brown 1997).
     It continues to encourage Christians to glorify God for His magnificent work of reconciliation in Jesus and challenges us to share in supporting it through the unity the Holy Spirit has produced. Clearly, this is why William Barclay called it the “Queen of the Epistles,” because its main message is the glory of the church.
     The Letter to the Ephesians makes multiple important contributions to our understanding of Christianity, salvation, Jesus’ deity, and God’s plan.
     First, Ephesians speaks clearly on the subjection of all things to Jesus.
     Second, only Colossians can compare to the important emphasis on Jesus’ victory and the victory (salvation included) we enjoy because of Him.
     Third, Ephesians holds the most developed vision and purpose for the Lord’s church which stands as a herald of Christ’s victory and reconciliation.
     Fourth, Ephesians has a deeper understanding of the Spiritual warfare that every Christian becomes a reluctant but armored and prepared participant.
     As a clear result of these great blessings, we are encouraged to strive for unity, to walk as children of light, and embody all that it means to be God’s children.
     Twice in this short letter, Paul records his prayer for the church (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21). In Eph. 1:15-23, Paul prays for the Holy Spirit to empower with wisdom, revelation, and knowledge so that they can understand their blessed position in Christ and enormity of His love.
     In Eph. 3:14-21, Paul prays for the Spirit to strengthen them with power in their inner being, again which was to empower them to understand Jesus’ love which surpasses understanding. Let me encourage to spend time reading this powerful letter and let it change your heart and faith. If you only read the two prayers, it will make an impact on your heart and faith. Have a blessed day and enjoy this great letter which was meant to strengthen and empower you.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/

Bibliography.
Brown, R.E. An introduction to the New Testament. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1997.
 

Why a Church Bulletin?

By Ron Thomas

    What is the purpose of a local church bulletin? It has two primary purposes. First, it is an additional avenue of teaching. While the articles within are short, there can be much within the article, or anecdotal remarks, that have a powerful teaching capability. Just as the articles can teach, sometimes they are encouraging and give reassurance to some. We don’t always know what goes on in the heart of a person, so an article, quaint saying, anecdote may have an impact on one, but not another.
   A second reason for a local church bulletin is information pertaining to the local congregation and events in the area. The prayer list is a very important list. There are people who are in a struggle with health or some other matter, and very much desire the prayers of the saints. This is why it is important to keep the list updated. The announcements section gives updates with regard to the local congregation, especially news from the elders as required. It’s always good to promote area events if we can; that way we can support the works of sister congregations, as we ask them to support us. You know the old saying, what goes around, comes around.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/