Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunbeam Love

A darling little infant
was playing on the floor,
When suddenly a sunbeam
came through the open door,

And, striking on the carpet,
it made a little dot;
The darling baby saw it,
and crept up to the spot.

His little face was beaming
with a world of perfect joy,
As if an angel's presence
had filled the little boy;

And with his tiny finger,
as in a fairy dream,
He touched the dot of sunshine,
and followed up the beam.

He looked up to his mother
to share his infant bliss;
Then stooped, and gave the sunbeam
a pure, sweet baby kiss.

O Lord, our heavenly Father!
in the fullness of my joy,
I pray that childlike feeling
may never leave the boy!

But in the days of trial,
when sin allures the youth,
Send out the light to guide him --
the sunbeams of thy truth.

And may his heart be ever
to thee an open door,
Through which thy truth, as sunbeams,
make joy upon Life's floor!

A Family for the Lord

By Benny Bristow

As we allow our thoughts to go further into what is involved in rearing a family for the Lord, we must also consider the important concept of love. Love is the beautiful wrapping that encloses all other virtues in a family. Since God Himself is love, how could a family be designated as a family for the Lord without it? When God adds to our family children, one by one, He is issuing with each addition, a challenge to develop and promote love. Try to imagine that when a child is given to us, that such is like a new canvas on which a picture has never been painted. God hands us the paints and brushes and says, “paint for me a masterpiece of love.” This is our greatest challenge because the more we paint love, the closer we keep them to God. Each stroke of the brush gives them the qualities they need to be successful in life—now and forever.

The power of love in our families cannot be overestimated. In the words of one writer: “Love is the purification of the heart from self; it strengthens and ennobles the character, gives a higher motive and a nobler aim to every action of life, and makes both man and woman strong, noble and courageous; and the power to love truly and devotedly is the noblest gift with which a human being can be endowed.” (Miss Jeusbury)

As we parents show love to our children in our own lives, we must also teach and enforce the characteristics of love. Love is not simply a beautiful word to be defined, but rather a way of life to be experienced. Instead of defining love, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 what love will do. What will be taught to our children when we teach them love?

Love will teach our children the meaning of sharing and the awfulness of selfishness. This is not easy since most children become very possessive of those things that belong to them. The words “my” and “mine” are big and important words in their vocabularies. However, love teaches the proper balance between the balance of self and sharing with others. Jesus our Lord is the greatest example to keep before our children to teach them to share with others: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

One of the challenges faced by parents is to teach their children good manners, and the many positive characteristics of love will promote this. Love provides the proper environment for all other attributes of life to grow and bear fruit. If your children are taught not to envy, not to boast or be full of pride, and not to be rude, not self-seeking, and not easily angered, do you not believe that they will have good manners? Remember, these traits and others are present when love abounds.

Selfishness can be a great problem in the family unless love is present to turn things around. For some strange reason, children will often show less selfishness outside the family than in it, and this is where love must be taught. As we teach our children love, there will be times when we feel that love has failed, but it has not! You see, love is a positive virtue and it stays alive and strong even when buried among childish ways. Think about the following illustration:

A man once parked his car on a street. Up came a boy and looked it over. His eyes were wide with admiration of the beautiful car.
“Where did you get this car?” he asked, “My brother gave it to me,” replied the man. “My, I wish. . . “The man knew the boy was wishing that he had a new car like that.
But the lad went on and finished the sentence surprisingly; “I wish I could be a brother like your brother was. I have a crippled brother who cannot get out. I would buy him a car like this.”

—The Teacher

Remember, sooner or later love (when taught as God would have it taught) will shine through, because love is unselfish.

Therefore, if you seek a family for the Lord, you must make your home an environment of love. “Happy are the families where the government of the parents is the reign of affection and obedience of the children the submission of love.” Would you seek to have a family for the Lord? “A happy family is but an early heaven.” (Bowring)

- Benny Bristow, The Christian Bible Teacher; 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:

Do Yourself a Favor

By Jeremiah Tatum

If you were going to do the best thing you could possibly do for yourself, what would that be? If there is one thing in life that you could have over anything else, what would it be? These two questions are not exactly the same, but they are very closely related.

Sometimes the thing we want the most may not be the best thing we can do for ourselves. Once a man approached Jesus as he was walking along the road. The young man ran to him and knelt at his feet and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Jesus responded to him appropriately by telling him to keep the Law of Moses. This was the law that was still in effect during the life of our Savior. The young man stated that he had kept the Law of Moses from his youth. At this point, Jesus challenged him concerning genuine faith: "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." (Mark 10:21). The young man did not obey this command of the Son of God. He went away in sorrow. But why?

The reason is simple and applicable to each one of us. Until we come to a willingness to give up what matters in life to us most, we cannot be disciples of Jesus. Jesus himself proclaimed, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:33).

It seems fair, that the one who gave up heaven and separated himself from God on the cross with our sins would also require a similar sacrifice. We are only Christians when we follow in the footsteps of Christ. A servant is not greater than his master.

If you want to do yourself the greatest favor you could ever do, then forsake everything you have and follow Jesus.

The second favor is like unto the first. Build relationships with people who care primarily about your soul.

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." ~ Matthew 16:25

- Jeremiah Tatum; via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Comfort One Another

By Norman Gipson

This is a command! The world is a wicked place, and Christians need comfort. We shall soon die (if our Master tarries); therefore a word of comfort is helpful.

Perhaps this is one of the more neglected commands. We often feel free to criticize or neglect others. We may even be guilty of being like Satan in slandering others. But the art of comforting one another is forgotten in the daily pressures of surviving.

And the Scriptures are the true source of comfort. "Comfort one another with these words" is the reading of the text in 1 Thessalonians 4:18. Our own words can be helpful, but the certain promises of Jesus' return surpass by far anything we can say.

Is anyone sad? Speak the word of comfort. Is anyone lonely? Let him (or her) know that the Lord has said, "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:15). Is anyone hurting from sinful living? Comfort him with the assurance that there is forgiveness to the penitent child of God.

Comfort one another! And do it today.

- Norman Gipson; 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:

The Ultimate Goal

By Joe Chesser

When Jesus was on earth, there were many things about him that were surprising, even shocking.

For example, in John 4 there is the story of Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. Perhaps we are so used to the story that it has lost some its shock value, but the fact that Jesus was talking to this woman was totally out of character for people living in the Jewish culture. Jews just didn’t have anything to do with Samaritans. Samaritans were traitors … dogs … scum! And to add to the shock, he was talking to a Samaritan woman who had been divorced several times and was living with another man!

But it was to this woman Jesus revealed some of the most important spiritual truths. He told her about living water (4:10). He told her that true worship was in spirit and truth (4:24). He talked to her about her personal sins regarding marriage (4:17-18). He told her he was the Messiah for whom the people were longing (4:25-26).

It was at this point in the story that Jesus’ disciples returned (they had gone into the town for some food). They were shocked to see Jesus talking with the woman, and even questioned Him about it. It was a normal response in those circumstances. But this is where Jesus told them something else we find shocking — that eating physical food is not nearly as important as evangelism: “my food is to do the will of him who sent me” (4:34). You see, the thing that motivated Jesus, the thing that gave Him His greatest strength to do His work, the thing that made life worth living was helping someone, even a Samaritan woman, with their spiritual needs.

This woman was not too bright when it came to marriage commitment, but she quickly caught on to the fire burning in the heart of Jesus. She immediately went back to town and told the villagers what had happened. Her testimony resulted in many of these Samaritans believing in Jesus. And they were hungry to know more, so Jesus stayed with them for a couple days. Many more became believers. Before Jesus left town, what I see as the ultimate goal happened. In John 4:42 we read, “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”

It is vital that somewhere in our spiritual journey we all reach that ultimate goal of growing beyond the testimony of others, that we come to know for ourselves that Jesus is not only the Savior of the world, He is my Savior. Trying to survive on a second-hand faith will not last long. The devil is too cunning, and God never intended for it to be that way. At Judgment we will be accountable only for ourselves (2 Cor. 5:10). Have you reached that ultimate goal of knowing for yourself that Jesus is the Savior of the world? When you do, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Deep Water

By James C. Guy

My daughter taught swimming lessons in our pool. She always left the line up separating the deep from the shallow until her students were familiar with the pool. After a week of lessons and the children were swimming, she knew they were ready for the deeper level. To acclimate them to this, she would take down the line separating the two levels. Usually, this would make the students very nervous. This was shown by one boy in particular when he remarked, "Miss Tahnee, please put the line back up...the deep water is getting into the shallow water!" We laugh at this, but are we no different? Our Father may challenge us to a newer level of growth by urging us out of our comfort zone. And we cry, "But Father, the deep water is getting into the shallow water!"

- James C. Guy, Canal Heights church of Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama. He may be contacted at THE BIBLE SAYS website at:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten Commandments of Friendship

1. Speak to people; speak first.
2. Smile at people.
3. Call people by their name.
4. Be friendly and helpful.
5. Be pleasant.
6. Be genuinely interested in people.
7. Be generous with praise.
8. Be considerate of their feelings.
9. Be thoughtful of their opinions.
10. Be alert for opportunities to give service.

- 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:

"An Inheritance In Heaven"

By Paul L. McElroy

Believe it or not, not all who profess to follow the New Testament believe in an inheritance in heaven. The so-called "Jehovah’s Witnesses" believe in eternal life, but here on earth, with only 144,000 going to heaven. But the apostle Paul teaches that there is "One Hope of your calling," (Eph. 4:4), and the apostle Peter said, Christians have " inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." (I Pet. 1:4).

The inheritance in heaven is variously described as "eternal life (Rom. 2:7); crown of life (Jas. 1:12); crown of righteousnss (2 Tim. 4:8); imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25); and everlasting life (John 3:16).

Every thoughtful person can know that "eternal life" is far better than our present life. We all want to survive well beyond this life, with all of its heartaches and pains, and be able to go on to a life free of sorrow and death.

The apostle John tells us of such a place in Rev. 21:4– "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Some have been taught that when they were saved from their past sins, that they already had "eternal salvation". But, read Peter 1:4– "To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 4:7-8--"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." The parable of the sower teaches that men may be saved, but then fall away. (Luke 8:4-6, 11-15). You can fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). Jesus Christ . . . became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (Heb. 5:9).

If you want eternal salvation, you must Hear the gospel, Rom. 10:17; Believe the gospel Heb. 11:6; Repent of sins Luke 13:3; Publicly confess Christ, Matt. 10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:3-5; Live faithfully Rev. 2:10.

- Paul L. McElroy preaches for the Columbia Church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at

She Invited A Friend!

By David Shannon

This is the true story of a four-year old girl. Each Sunday morning and Wednesday night a little girl named Becky would skip out her front door and over to the next door with a tender knock. Becky’s question was simply, “Can Denise come to church with us today?” Most of the time the answer was yes. The invitations continued. But one day something was different, Becky made her Sunday morning journey next door, but the answer was no! But the words that followed were music to the ears. “No” the father answered, “Denise will be going with us this morning. We will see you at church services, Miss Becky.” The family visited, studies followed, and Denise’s mother and father were baptized into Christ!

What is the magic, the mystery, the awe? There is none! Just an invitation given over and over! Some things we make too hard. Some of the easiest things in life we conjure up in difficult messes. Some want sophisticated mail-outs to do it for us! Some sadly enough don’t care. Please understand, the benefits of mail-outs, programs, and other avenues are wonderful when used wisely. But nothing dismisses our personal responsibility to invite folks! Who? My neighbor, postman, doctor, mechanic, coach, teacher, friend, parent, child, uncle, aunt, co-worker, partner, boss, banker, and on and on!

Once Jesus freed a young man of some demons. As a result, the young man was dramatically changed. Obviously he was grateful. He wanted to go with Jesus, perhaps in an effort to repay Him. Jesus’ answer spans the generations and applies to us also. He stood by the ship refusing to let the young man go along and said, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19).

She was only four.
All she did was invite.
Heaven will be greater for it!

- David Shannon; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at

Monday, February 7, 2011


By Jimmie Z. Gribble

"And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." (Colossians 4:17). Paul, in this book, was writing to the church ("saints and faithful brethren") at Colosse. In this part of the last chapter Paul is giving some final salutations. One of these salutations is to Archippus. The church was to encourage this brother in his work for the Lord. There are several things we would like to notice from this passage. First, what a great thing it would be if the church would encourage each brother and sister in the work that God has given us to do. We make up the church, and therefore, should have no problem encouraging each to labor for the Lord. Yet, do we really take the time and effort to do so? Would we be stronger and more dedicated and diligent in our work if we encouraged each other more often? What do you think?

Second, the church was to encourage Archippus to "take heed" to his ministry. The words "take heed" means "to look to, direct the mind upon, consider" (1), and "to look, see, usually implying more especially an intent, earnest contemplation" (2) Archippus was to earnestly direct his mind to his ministry. He was to take seriously the work that he had to do. Now, what a great encouragement it would be to all of God's children, if the church would encourage each other to be put our mind on the work at hand. We all need to be reminded to "keep our eye on the ball." That is, keep our mind on the task at hand, and not wandering off to worldly things.

Third, the church was to encourage him, not only to keep his eye on his work, but also to "fulfill" it. This word means, "To fulfill, perform fully" (3), "satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task)," (4), "to carry through to the end, to accomplish" (5), "satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task)" (6), "to carry through to the end, to accomplish" (7). All of this indicates that what Archippus had begun he needed to complete.

Timothy also received, from Paul, the same encouragement that he is directing the church to give to Archippus. Paul wrote to Timothy, "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5).

Beloved, we have a work to do and it would be great if we received words of encouragement to do the work. It would also be beneficial if we were to be encouragers to others to be faithful to their work and faithful to the completion of it. Why don't we try to learn and apply things from this (8)? Beloved, listen to all of God's word, God will do thee good!

(1) The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993.
(2) Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
(3) The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament.
(4) Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek Hebrew Dictionary, 1994, 2003, Biblesoft, Inc.and International Bible Translators, Inc.
(5) Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft.
(6) Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek Hebrew Dictionary.
(7) Thayer's Greek Lexicon.
(8) Thought for Today.

- Jimmie Z. Gribble, Portsmouth, VA; 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:

Don’t Quit

By Rick Woodall

Converts were coming to Christ like wildfire. Paul and Silas were preaching the Word. They were sowing the seed of the kingdom. Paul had visited the synagogue on three different occasions proclaiming Jesus as the Christ. Using scripture as solid proof, he taught the people about the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. Jews and Greeks responded to the message. Then we find these words: “But the Jews were jealous: so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd” (Acts 17:5).

Jason was a good man. He invited Paul and Silas to stay in his home while they were preaching in Thessalonica. The lynching squad could not find the preachers. They made a public spectacle of Jason and other Christians by making them post a bond before they were let go.

We are reminded of what a poison jealousy is. Many good and honest hearts have set out on the journey to spread the good news only to find positive response coupled with negative jealousy. My gift reminds me that we must learn to take the good with the bad. Let me give you an example of the wonderful attitude of mission in the apostle Paul’s life. Look at what he did as he continued on his spiritual quest to preach the gospel to a bewildered and dying world.

“As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue” (Acts 17:10).

Do you see it, friends? They would not quit. Jealousy would not stop the message. God would bless them with some wonderful results for not giving up.

“The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men” (Acts 17:11-12).

Well, it wasn’t long until the jealous folks heard and they headed to Berea to stir up more confusion. Paul moved on with his heart full of the love of God. It is evident that jealous hearts were just moving honest and sincere hearts to a different location. As sincere hearts moved, the gospel spread. God had it all in control as He guided the devoted hearts of the faithful.

In the church today there are those who make an attempt to divide and hesitate progress through the method of jealousy. Actually, they are not hindering anything. Sincere hearts will still reach people who need to know Jesus. God is still in control.

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4)

The answer to this question is: Sincere hearts full of the love of God.

- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:


By Cecil May III

People drift. Like a boat that has no anchor, people are moved, sometimes imperceptibly, by currents that take them away from their intended docking place. With great joy someone is received into the love of God. (See Jude 21 as a scriptural tether for this teaching). Like that boat gently rolling on the waves of the water, so this person rolls on comings and goings of life’s circumstances. They do not realize that as they drift they fail to heed the warning to “keep yourselves in the love of God.” One day they look and instead of the familiar markings of the shoreline, they find themselves in unrecognizable territory. They ask, “when did this happen and how did I get here?”

“Keep yourselves in the love of God.”

It helps to lay down some anchors that will keep us from drifting away.

Here are some suggestions.

Spiritual Disciplines: Frequent and regular Bible study, prayer, and personal worship are good spiritual anchors. Be aware that there are two ways to use scripture as an anchor. One may read the Bible devotionally. In this kind of reading, scripture gives daily inspiration and different kind of scripture usage than meditative, devotional reading. Study has to do with gaining information that teaches and strengthens one’s faith. The regular practice of these disciplines keep us near the throne of God.

Christian Friends: As evil companions corrupt, so does companionship with the righteous keep us committed to purity. If our best friends are not interested in spiritual things, we can be sure that our own interest in spirituality will wane. Even with our Christian friends, we should make sure that some of our conversation and shared activities revolve around our shared discipleship with Jesus. The point of spending time with Christian friends is to keep us anchored to Christ. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17).

Regular Assembled Worship: Those who are abandoning the regular Christian gatherings designed to “spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), will soon find themselves distant from love and goodness. Sundays are for anchoring.

The Promise of God: The assurance of our salvation and the future of the saved are held in trust with the God who does not lie. Jesus has risen from the dead and has entered the dwelling place of God. Jesus is the evidence of victory for the Christian. Don’t forget that, for “We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Anchor in the love of God.

- 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: