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Monday, May 10, 2021

Cow Horns

By Larry Pasley

    “Mister, why doesn’t this cow have any horns?” asked the young lady from a nearby city on field trip to the country.
    The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone, “Well, ma’am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns. Sometimes we keep’em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young ‘uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in, and that stops ‘em cold. Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns. But the reason this cow don’t have no horns, ma’am, is ‘cause it’s a horse.”

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    The woman was obviously ignorant about farm animals. Hopefully she learned a lesson from the encounter.
    The apostle Paul talks about people who are always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7
    He also told the Thessalonians that some would be destroyed because they did not love the truth.
    2 Thessalonians 2:9-12  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
    Some people reject the truth of God because they preferred the pleasure of their righteousness.
    It is a frightening thing that God will allow such people to believe “the” lie. The definite article “the” before “lie” is probably referring to the lie that Satan told Eve in the garden of Eden, “that they would not die for their disobedience.
    Many today believe that lie. They think that God will overlook their sins. But, we are told that the times of ignorance, God will no longer overlook but command all men everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30.
    It would be like the farmer allowing the woman to remain ignorant about the cow horns and allowing her to continue to believe the horse was a cow because she didn’t want to learn anything different.
    The truth sets us free in many ways. It sets us free from ignorance and it sets us free from “the lie” that Satan wants us to believe; that God will not punish us for our sins but allow us to continue to live sinful lives without consequence.
    Why are people lost? Some are lost because of their ignorance. Some are lost because they love sin. But all are lost because of their disobedience to the gospel.
    2 Thessalonians 1:6-10  since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
    May we choose not to remain in ignorance but to accept God’s truth so we can be freed from our sin and live eternally with Him.
    With love and concern,
- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com

All Else Surpassing

By Adam Faughn

    There are a dozen or so different hymns we typically sing in preparation for the Lord's Supper. Sometimes, due to familiarity with the hymns, we may struggle to concentrate on the words, but we should always strive to concentrate on them, as these songs are meant to help us focus on an essential portion of our worship.
    One of those songs is called "When We Meet in Sweet Communion" (in some songbooks, it is entitled "The Lord's Supper") by Tillit S. Teddlie. Each line of the song is powerful, but there is one line  that often makes me think   a   great   deal.   It   is   the opening portion of the chorus, in   which   we   sing,   "precious feast, all else surpassing." As with   many   poetic   lines,   the meaning of this could be taken a couple of different ways, but it seems to me we are singing the truth that this feast –the Lord's Supper –is greater than any other meal we could ever eat.
    While the list of reasons why that is true could go on and on, here are five reasons why these few moments should mean so much to us; more than any other meal.
1.  Connection with the Savior. When instituting this meal, Jesus   stated   that   He   would "drink it new" with His followers in    the    Kingdom    (Matthew 26:29).   Considering   that   the kingdom and the Church are synonymous   (Matthew   16:16-19), each  time we partake of this meal, Jesus is right there with us. We are connected with Him through our obedient faith as we remember what He has done.
2.  Memory of the Cross. Famously, Jesus stated that the Lord's Supper was to be done in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). Each of the emblems is meant to take our minds back to the cross; the bread  representing His body and the fruit of the vine representing  His blood. Each time we eat this feast, it should be a powerful time of remembering the totality of all that happened for our salvation at Calvary. In no other act of worship are all our senses involved in this way, so our memory should be stirred deeply through what we are doing.
3.  Proclamation of Victory. The Lord's Supper is to be eaten week after week by faithful Christians "until He comes" (1  Corinthians 11:26). It is a proclamation of what Jesus did  for us all those years ago and what it means to each of us in our spiritual lives. Knowing what He did at Calvary and knowing that we are doing this until He returns at the end of time, we are proclaiming victory over sin and death so the world might know that Jesus is Lord.
4.    Togetherness of the Saints. The New   Testament makes clear that there is a "together" aspect to the Lord's Supper. Though it is eaten individually,   Christians   gather for   this   purpose   (Acts   20:7) and encourage one another by being present at the table. Further,   Christians around   the world gather for this purpose each week, so we are able to know that our Christian family is connected by this feast each and every Lord's Day.
5.  Reflection on Our Lives. Though the Lord's Supper typically does not last all that long each week, it still provides us with a precious time to reflect on what is most important  in our lives. In fact, we are commanded to examine ourselves during this time (1 Corinthians 11:28)   and   realize   that   any "worthiness" we have is only true because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
    At no other meal or feast could all of these things be true. Further, there is no way that any man-made meal could ever have these things be true each and every time it is eaten. But this is not our supper; it is the Lord's Supper. So, as long as we are faithfully partaking, each of these things is true throughout the feast, and we are the beneficiaries of great blessings in our spiritual lives by partaking each week. It truly is a precious feast, "all else surpassing."
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Living Above and Beyond

By Joe Chesser
          
    The people in God’s Kingdom are special. As Jesus described them, they are in the world but no longer of the world (John 17.14-16). Kingdom people have been given the unique ability to rise above and beyond the world while still living in it. Kingdom people have been rescued from Satan’s dark dominion and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus (Colossians 1.13-14). Kingdom people have been born again into a living hope (John 3.3-5; Titus 3.3-6; 1 Peter 1.3-4). Kingdom people are special.
    Because Kingdom people have been rescued from Satan and the world, God expects His people to live above and beyond the world around them. Since we have been raised with Christ (Romans 6.3-4; Ephesians 2.6; Colossians 3.1), God’s people are no longer to have hearts set on earthly things, but on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our focus is now to be on living above and beyond the world around us.
    Much of what this means is explained for us by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. He often said, “You have heard that it was said … but I say to you” (6.21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). Things have changed. Jesus gives us a new vision of what it means to live for God. Treasures are to be stored in heaven (6.19-20). Stop worrying about life (6.24-34). Turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love your enemies, share with those who ask (6.38-44). These are things those who live above and beyond the world do because Kingdom people now have a heart for God, not the world (Matthew 6.33; 12.33-37). As new creatures, the old things have passed away and the new things have replaced them (2 Corinthians 5.17).
    The exciting thing about all of this is that we don’t have to do this by ourselves. Kingdom people have been given the power from God to rise up and live above and beyond the world. God not only saves us; He empowers us to live the new life. For the church He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3.20-21). He strengthens us with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3.16) to help and guide us (Romans 8.5-14). God enables us to know the depth of His love that goes beyond knowledge (Ephesians 3.18-19). He offers His people a peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4.7) and the ability to do what they cannot do by themselves (2 Corinthians 8.1-5). He gives wisdom and courage those who ask (James 1.5; Acts 4.31). He gives comfort when we are tired and burdened (Matthew 11.28-30).
    What a Mighty God we serve! He calls us to live above and beyond this world!   
    “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him” (Ephesians 1.18-19 NLT).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


God’s Use Of Water In Salvation

By Joe Slater

    You body is about 60% water. For me, that’s around sixteen gallons! Water covers over 70% of Earth’s surface. The U.S. Geological Survey says all the water in the atmosphere, on the surface, and under the ground totals over 332 million cubic miles! Obviously, water plays a huge role in our lives.
    God has chosen to use water numerous times to bring salvation to people. For example, He used water to save a Syrian leper from his terminal disease (see 2 Kings 5:1-14). H2O has no inherent healing properties, but God chose to use water to cleanse Naaman when he obeyed by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan.
    Peter wrote that Noah & his family “were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). We usually think of the ark as the instrument that kept them from drowning, but that wasn’t Peter’s point. God used water to save them from the corrupt world all around them. The New American Standard and English Standard versions totally miss this vital point in their erroneous paraphrase, “brought safely through the water.” The text says “saved by (i.e. by means of) water”!
    Peter went on to say that just as Noah was saved by means of water, “there is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism” (1 Peter 3:21). Again, the chemical element H2O has no power to wash away sin. But God has chosen to use water in His plan to save sinners.
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be
baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name
of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
- 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 Face of Grace

By Edd Sterchi

G is for the Goodness
     You have shown to me.
R is for Redemption
     Giv’n from Calv’ry’s tree.
A is for Atonement
     I’m pardoned, full and free.
C is for Charity
     Greater than the eye can see.
E is Everlasting
     Which now in heav’n I’ll be.
I’m thankful for your GRACE, dear God
     May I always show my glee.
- 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/


Monday, May 3, 2021

What a Difference a Day Makes!

By Bill Brandstatter

    My youngest grandson just had a birthday. It was his first double-digit birthday. He is now a big 10 years old. His birthday was a big day for all of the family. As grandchildren grow it causes us to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. I have realized daily the expression “time flies.” I remember when he was born. I have seen pictures of our grandson recently when he was little. Now he is ten and it’s hard to comprehend. The writer James told of life and stated, “It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NKJV) Reflection is good for the soul. It causes us to look at where we are and where we ought to be. The Psalmist stated, regarding life, “For it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psa. 90:10).
    Where have I been? The past life is gone. The present is now. Whatever mistakes I made in the past I need to forget and move on from them. The apostle Paul had to remind himself to do that. He stated he was “forgetting those things which were behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (Phil.3:13). I can’t change the past. I can make the present better.
    Where am I now? God is concerned about where we are now. The urgency of the moment is expressed in several Bible passages. Paul wrote, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). We should be “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16).
    Where will I be in the future? I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. The best way to prepare for the future is to prepare now. The future happens with the dawn of every new day. As one person stated, “Today is the start of the rest of your life.” My entrance into heaven depends on what I do while here on earth. I have the chance now to do what I must to enter heaven one day. What a difference a day can make. We must obey Jesus today, so that we can see Him tomorrow. (John 12:48; Heb. 5:8, 9)
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Image And Allegiance

By Joe Slater

    April 15 typically involves long lines at the Post Office as procrastinators mail those dreaded 1040 forms along with a sizeable check to the U.S. Treasury. We have extra time this year due to circumstances beyond our control, but it just delays the inevitable!
    Nobody enjoys paying taxes. No doubt much of our tax money is spent unwisely, to say the least. Nevertheless, Romans 13:7 says, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
    When Jesus walked this earth, His enemies tried to trap Him with the controversy over Jews paying taxes to the pagan government in Rome. “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22). If Jesus just said, “Yes, pay the taxes,” they could claim He wasn’t a loyal Jew. But if He said, “No don’t pay,” they could accuse Him of treason against the government. As always, the infinitely wise Jesus recognized their ungodly motives and gave them an answer they couldn’t use against Him. “‘Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?’ They answered and said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Luke 20:23-25).
    The coin bore Caesar’s image. Caesar had a right to require it in tax. People bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). He has a legitimate claim on our service. There is no conflict between the two. As we pay our taxes this week or in weeks to come, may we be mindful to render to God that which is due to Him!
- 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