Monday, January 31, 2011
While things of this present sphere remain, political kingdoms will rise in dominance, peak and fall. There are, however, two spiritual kingdoms which will continue until the end of time: one is the kingdom of darkness which is ruled by Satan and his evil cohorts; the other is the kingdom of heaven, also known as the kingdom of Jesus, the Christ. In addition to having different rulers, there are the following distinctive features:
The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light have distinguishing objectives. The kingdom of heaven seeks to bless God’s creation, especially man; the other is to curse and destroy. The purpose of one is to provide life, give meaning and fulfillment, while Satan works to rob, steal and kill, to make us despondent under the gloom of misery and hopelessness.
The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light bear distinguishing fruits. One produces chaos, confusion, lawlessness, selfishness, hatred, strife, division and death, while Jesus creates peace, unity, joy and love.
The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light have distinguishing destinies. The kingdom of darkness will be overwhelmed and utterly conquered by the power and glory of Jesus at his coming. Satan, his angels, along with his willing and deceived followers, will be vanquished in everlasting destruction. Jesus, the king of righteousness, along with his angels and faithful followers, will glow in radiant splendor as he positions upon their heads their eternal crown of victory over Satan, sin and death. Presently, the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to translate you from the power of darkness, to deliver you from death and give you life in the eternal kingdom. Which do you choose?
- Tim Childs preaches for the Hillcrest church of Christ in Baldwyn, MS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.thelordsway.com/hillcrestms/
What happened to make us such a demanding society? Where did the courtesy go? The smiles? The common concern? Recently I went to a grocery store in Dothan. As I entered, there were three “counters” with two employees each—presumably a bagger and a checker. Slowly as I walk, I had ample time to cast smiling glances at each. No one smiled back. I even nodded when I smiled—no returned nods. That made me notice—and the entire time I was in the store, not one employee smiled, nodded, asked if I needed assistance, or anything. The teenage boy who checked me out was far too busy flirting and bumping himself against the teenage girl who should have been bagging my groceries to even say thank-you for shopping with us! Things have surely come a long way—in the wrong direction— since my high school days at the Rebel Market in Piggott, AR!
Niceness—what a lovely concept! Let us remember to ask and not demand. Let us remember to be helpful, kind, courteous, concerned, and etc. Smiles, like the measles, are contagious… only, in a good way. May God Bless You as You Study and Obey His Word.
- Tim Smith; 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
Monday, January 24, 2011
Think about the people who are most admired in this world. For the most part, the adulation they receive is for having one or more of these three qualities: wisdom, strength, or riches. We tend to appreciate those who are bright, intelligent, and knowledgeable. We delight in those who are physically gifted in strength, talent, or beauty. We envy and emulate those who have amassed great wealth. But none of these qualities are what God looks for in people. Isaiah quoted God saying in Isaiah 55:8-9, "`For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' says Jehovah. `For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
The Bible, time and again, both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, portrays the right relationship between man and God as one that is personal. In the Old Testament, for example, the Israelites' are always seen in relationship to a living God. Contrary to the image many people have of the children of Israel, they were not simply followers of a legal code or believers in a Mosaic philosophy. Consider, for example, what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 9:23-24: "This is what the LORD says: `Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD."
Paul spoke of having a personal relationship with the Lord when he wrote in Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
As we can see from the passages above, knowing the Lord is more important than having wisdom, or strength, or riches. "I want to know Christ. I want to know the power of His resurrection." This is Paul's primary desire. This is what Paul wants more than anything else in this life: He wants to know the living, the resurrected Christ, and to know the power associated with that resurrection. He is seeking a personal relationship with a living Lord.
We do serve a risen, living Savior. We do not serve a dead man and neither do we serve a distant, aloof God. If Jesus Christ had remained dead, then Paul could not have written that he wants to know Christ, for one can only know someone who is living. As Paul reminded the brethren in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:17, 19, "If Christ is not raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…we are of all men most to be pitied."
May the risen and living Lord and Savior bless you and your family!
- 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
* If I could go on home to be with Thee Lord
In that bright Land of which I read in Thy Word
I'd gladly fly from this old world tomorrow
And leave behind all of my cares and sorrow.
I've tried to bear the load that's mine, I have Lord,
I've tried to walk as I've been taught in Thy Word,
But sometimes I, despite it all, go astray,
So call for me before I fall -- come today...*
I want to be all I should be for Thee Lord,
I want to learn all I can learn from Thy Word;
And so I'll stay the course while I'm still down here
And until then this is my plea: draw me near... *
Each chance I get I'll point the lost to Thee Lord
I'll tell them that You'll speak to them through Thy
So help me Lord to do the things that please Thee
And keep me safe until Thy Face I can see... *
I'll surely stay down here and work for Thee Lord
And strive to live each day you give by Thy Word
I'll do my part, and then some too, with a smile
And gladly look for Thy return after while. *
- H. L. Gradowith For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Listed below are a few of the known symptoms of “lukewarm disease”:
- It affects the mind in that a person stops seeking to learn and teach.
- If affects the ears in that a person only hears what he wants to hear, thus destroying faith.
- It affects the eyes in that a person no longer sees or follows the “strait and narrow.”
- It affects the mouth in that a person no longer speaks the Word of God, or offers up singing and prayer on a regular basis.
- It affects the neck in that a person cannot bow his head in prayer.
- It affects the arms and hands in that a person no longer does the physical labors that are essential in a Christian’s life.
- It affects the heart in that a person’s love for God grows cold.
- It affects the legs and feet in that a person no longer gets to services or visits those needing encouragement.
Do you know of anyone that has the “lukewarm disease”? Not all have every symptom. Not all the symptoms need to be present to affirm that you or someone else has the disease. The “lukewarm” person is a most undependable human being. He faces separation from God. We might hate all earthly diseases, but the “Great Physician” dislikes the “lukewarm disease” most of all. As bad as the “lukewarm disease” is, it can be cured. The “Great Physician” can cure you of this disease. The prescribed cure would be a big dose of Faith and a shovel-full of Work. If you have the “lukewarm disease,” now is the time to take the cure. Have faith in the Lord and His Word for the day is coming when man shall work no more. See Revelation 3:16 for what will happen to the lukewarm: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.”
- Author Unknown; 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
By H. L. Gradowith
Come the morning of forever
We shall be with Him on high;
There beside the Crystal River
Where no one will ever die!
With the sainted of the ages
We shall walk and talk for aye,
Where sins storm no longer rages
Nor shall come the close of day.
In His presence then at long last
We shall lay our burdens down,
No more troubles from life's dark past
Just a robe and starry crown!
What a mighty celebration
When the dead in Christ shall rise!
Jesus now makes preparation
For our mansion in the skies!
Monday, January 10, 2011
Last weekend, Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson dropped an easy game-winning pass in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having separated himself from his defender, Johnson was wide open for a 40-yard pass, but he dropped it in the end zone.
In the next possession, the Steelers kicked a field goal to win 19-16.
Johnson was inconsolable after the game. “How would you feel?” Johnson asked.
“All of a sudden, when the biggest play needs to be made, you don’t make it. You feel bad. I’m devastated right now. … I had the game in my hands and then dropped it. I’ll never get over it.”
Johnson was so despondent after the game, he sent out a “tweet” on Twitter where he blamed God for making him drop the would-be touchdown pass:
“I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! I’LL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”
Steve Johnson later admitted that he spoke rashly and foolishly in blaming God for his mistake. He retracted his statements. *
Observe some parallels from Johnson’s experiences to our own…
We’ve ALL dropped the ball! “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore we have essentially “lost the game” of life, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
We can’t blame God! “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 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” (James 1:13-15).
But, we can still “win” the victory through Christ. God sent Jesus His Son to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. When we submit our lives in trusting obedience to His will, His sacrifice is sufficient to cover our sins (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2)
Those who are victorious are those who: place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Yes, each of us has “dropped the ball,” but because of Jesus, we can STILL triumph over sin. We can share in HIS victory -IF- we will trust and obey Him today!
- David A. Sargent, minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org
I find some interesting phrases in the Bible to describe some folks who went to worship and then went home. That is what Abraham proposed to do at the foot of Mount Moriah when he said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5). Jesus described two men who went home from the temple after they had prayed (Luke 18:14). Also, one is impressed with the attitude of the eunuch as he returns from worship reading his Bible (Acts 8:27-28).
How would these go home? What effect did the devotion of worship have on their lives? What impact would such make?
What of Abraham and Isaac? How would it be with them as they went home after worship? What occurred while they were at the place of worship?
One can remember that this was the place of sacrifice. It was a place where Abraham was willing to lay on the altar the dearest he had on, earth. He would sacrifice his own son at God’s command. To him and to Isaac worship became a place of surrender as well as sacrifice. If there was any resistance in his will such was surely overcome.
Remember also the sacrifice of the ram in the stead of Isaac. They came to see the substitute and appreciated it.
May it be so with us. That worship becomes the place of surrender and sacrifice as we come to appreciate the death of our dear Lord.
- Winfred Clark, Deceased; 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
"Live your life in a way that you would not be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip." --Will Rogers
There are many passages throughout the Bible that teach the importance of men and women who are children of God to maintain honesty and to have unimpeachable integrity. Job 31:6 says, "Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know my integrity." This is something I know that I strive daily to accomplish, but unfortunately, I realize I have failed at times. If there is one moment in my life in which I wish that I could go back and change, it would be that fall day in October 1987 when I declined to walk out of a Marriage and Family class at SIUC wherein gays and lesbians were given the platform to proclaim their life of sin to be okay, and just as good, acceptable and noble of a family and lifestyle as any.
I readily admit that that time of my life was not a pleasant period, (other than the Cardinals winning the pennant!), but that is still no excuse. I had a brother who had taken his own life in August of that year. My grandfather, whom I loved dearly, passed away shortly thereafter. And to top it off, I was going through a very painful breakup with a woman with whom I was engaged. But as I said earlier, none of that excuses me from my shortfall in not doing what was right.
There was a young man there that day, however, who did have the courage to take a stand for the Lord, and I have never forgotten what he did. He calmly stood up and said to the class, "I am a Christian, and I can not sit idly by why this is being proclaimed. It is my prayer for each of you that you will come to repentance, and receive forgiveness in Christ as I have." He then walked out. I don’t know who he was, but he sure left an impression on me. How I wish now that I had joined him! But who knows? Maybe through the advent of the Internet that young man, who is now fast approaching middle age, will read this, and know that what he did helped change the course of the life of at least one individual.
Through the unfathomable love and grace of God, though, even this sin of mine has been forgiven, for John wrote, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
Although it has been forgiven, I really wish I had never let this happen. I wish I had been stronger then, and could have said as David did, "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee." (Psalm 25:21) Would that all that are followers of Christ make this their motto as well, for "Better is the poor that walks in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich." (Proverbs 28:6)
May God 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
Monday, January 3, 2011
Townsend, the developer of the laser, was once asked if he didn't have a tremendous sense of achievement in all he had accomplished with his invention, such as methods for precision measurements, laser disc, and weapons technology.
He remarked, "Not really." He said that he could easily identify with the beaver and relayed the following story:
A beaver and a chipmunk happened upon the Hoover Dam while out strolling one day. They were caught off-guard, completely overwhelmed with amazement and awe at the size and magnificence of this structure.
Once the beaver recovered, he remarked, "Well, actually, I didn't build it myself, but it's based upon an idea of mine."
Like much of scientific advancement, I see spiritual growth as a building process. I took the spiritual training my parents gave me and have built upon it, and I expect my children to take the training that I give them and build upon that. I fully expect them to accomplish some great things in their lives, things that I may not have built myself, but which are based on spiritual principles which I have shared with them.
Paul was referring to this process when he said of Timothy, "I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also." (I Timothy 1:5). I wonder if Lois and Eunice ever even imagined all that that little boy Timothy would accomplish in his lifetime?
You may not feel like you're accomplishing much, but if you are instilling in your children (or others) a faith in God, who knows what they may accomplish in the years ahead!
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
“...My cup runs over” (Psa. 23:5)
Stop for a moment and consider the blessings bestowed upon us as the people of God and give thanks to Him as the giver of every good gift (cf. Jas. 1:17).
You and I Have Received More Than Most People. All over the world, there are people living in “third world countries” that could literally live off the trash that we throw away. We live in a country that holds only five percent of the world’s population but it uses nearly one-half of the world’s resources. Our poorest people in this country would be considered rich by the estimation of the world’s poorest people.
You and I Have Received More Than We Deserved. We have been born Americans. What providence made us live in a land of peace and prosperity? Why is it that we were blessed with hearing the Gospel of Christ and the freedom to read the “good book”? In some countries the Bible has been banned and the freedom of religion is only a pipe dream. Yet we were born in a nation established first by the desire for the free expression of faith.
You and I Have Received More Than We Ever Can Repay. Like Paul, we should say: “I am under obligation...I am eager to preach the gospel...I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:14-16 ESV). “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). Boy, that’s an obligation that we will never be able to write a check that says: “Paid in Full!” However, we can spend a lifetime of dedication and service in glorifying our Savior and bringing His message to others.
Our cups are not big enough to hold all of God’s blessings, but it is good to know that we have a God who has enough blessings to always keep our cups over-flowing!
- Dave Ridenour (adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org