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Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn For Life

By Rick Woodall
    The fall colors will soon be filling our landscape with the beautiful reminder of what a great God we serve. Here in Michigan make no mistake about it. We are a four season State. There may be no mountain’s or deep valley’s but color is in. What a wonderful place to come visit in October. There are many festivities and cider mills that make your visit one you will remember.
    I love the fall of the year. The coolness in the air, the deep blue October sky and the touch of frost that calls an end to that which once was to bring on the new.
    My gift reminds me “before there can be a Spring, first must come Autumn.” Before all things can appear fresh and new the old must die. Before new life the old life must end.
    Our spiritual life takes on new meaning when we understand the objective of Autumn. In our lives we must be willing to experience a spiritual autumn. The old person must die to take on the new person. This is made possible through the plan of God found in the scriptures.
    “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” ‑ Romans 6:3‑6
    It is my prayer that you will come to that special moment in your life when the soul might experience a colorful Autumn and a refreshing Spring.
    “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” ‑ Rom 6:5‑6
    Before real life there is beauty in final moments that lead to rebirth.
    Have a great week.

- 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: 
http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/

WANTS vs. NEEDS (Adapted)

* I may want to accumulate all the physical things I possibly can -- I need to realize that my life does not consist of the amount of the things that I own (Luke 12:15).
* I may want to appear “sophisticated and wise” in my religious beliefs and practices -- I need to hear “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), and to take my own cross (Matt. 16:24).
* I may want to spend all my time in leisure, “free from responsibility,” -- I need to work and provide for my family (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8).
* I may want to hear all “positive preaching” -- I need to be reproved, rebuked, and exhorted (2 Tim. 4:2).
* I may want to treat my children as “small adults” and be their “best friend” -- I need to be their parent and properly discipline and train them before God (Eph. 6:4).
* I may want to keep my total independence even though married -- I need to remember the mutual dependence of husband and wife (1 Cor. 7:3; Col. 3:18).
* I may become so accustomed to, and so enamored with this world that I want to live here forever -- I need to remember that my citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
* I may want to live a solitary Christian life -- I need the church (1 Cor. 12:27).
* I may want to assert my rights and privileges and live the way I want to -- I need to remember that no man lives to himself and that one day every one of us will give an account of himself to God (Rom. 14:8, 12).
* I may want to live my life without God -- I need God (Psa. 46:1).
* I may want to go to heaven under my terms -- I need to follow God’s ways to get there (Matt. 7:13-14, 21-23).
* I may want to give up when the going gets tough -- I need to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).
* I may want to please people -- I need to please God (Gal. 1:10).

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


As Society Sows…

By Ron Bartanen

   “Be not deceived.  God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:7, 8).
   Life has consequences.  As we sow, we reap.  It is an unavoidable “law of nature,” and it holds true not only for individuals but for society as a whole.
   Will Durant wrote, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.  The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars” (Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Beginnings to A.D. 325, p. 655).  On page 668 he attributes Rome’s downward fall to a serious decline of the native population and a rise in an alien population, infanticide (abortion), sexual emasculation (homosexuality), pestilence, revolutions, wars, epidemics, the welfare dole, moral decay, excessive expenditures on public works and amusements.  How many of these would fit America?
   With the erosion of spiritual and moral values in our country, can we any longer affirm, “In God we trust”? “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).  Our nation was founded, and has long endured, upon a foundation of godly principles, but as we have slept an enemy has sowed tares among the wheat.  Secular Humanism, occultism, nihilism and atheism are now being sown in our children’s hearts.  But remember: As society sows, society reaps!

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


The Real Test

By Philip Mullins 

    It is always easier to walk with the crowd, to agree when everyone else is agreeing, to go with the flow. However, it is how we stand when we have to stand in opposition that is often the real test of our faith in God.
    "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). To be a true Christian means to oppose evil. To stand with Christ often means to stand against people and ideas that are set against Him. While a Christian is to be patient and loving, he or she is not to be passive. A Christian is a soldier in a war.
    Christ displayed such a character. While He was meek and gentle, He could also be aggressive and bold:
        “I tell you, no: but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
        “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men...” (Mark 7:8).
        “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).
    It was not that Jesus was trying to be offensive, but in standing for what was right it was necessary for Him to oppose certain beliefs, teachings, and even people. It was necessary to tell people what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear.
    Some religious people who claim to follow Christ are not willing to oppose anything or anybody. They believe the way of Christ dictates a totally positive approach where one never challenges any belief or practice, even if it is in clear opposition to the way of Christ.
    How much do you believe in God? How much do you trust the Bible as God's word? How convinced are you that Jesus is God's Son? How committed are you to the Bible's standard of righteousness? If you are truly faithful to God and firm in your devotion to His will, then you must stand against whatever opposes these things.
    It is easy to speak up for Christ when others are doing the same. The real test, though, comes when we must speak for Him when others are speaking against Him or His word. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).


- Philip Mullins; 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: Belvedere Church of Christ



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"A Pack of Seeds"

By Charles G. Ramsey

I bought myself a pack of seeds,
To grace my garden fair,
And stuck them in my pocket.
For months they waited there.
And when the time had come to see
The flower's lovely face,
I thought it strange that only weeds
Were growing in their place.
How foolish then, oh Christian man,
God's Word, you have indeed.
You carry it or hide it
But do not plant the seed.
No fruit there grows in garden fair,
Unless the seed you sow.
For you the Word of God must plant,
Then God will make it grow.

The Safest Place

By David Pharr 

     How to stay safe in the world today.
1.. Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.
2. Do not stay home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home.
3. Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.
4. Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water because 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.
5. Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in Hospitals. So, ... above all else, avoid hospitals.
     BUT, ... You will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at church!
     And....Bible study is safe too. The percentage of deaths during Bible study is even less.
     So,...for SAFETY'S sake - Attend church, and read your Bible. IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!

-David Pharr, via
The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com


The Universal Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Changes Lives:

From …… ……To
Old Man to New Man
Darkness to Light
Deadness to Abundant Living
Bondage to
Redemption
Unrighteous to
Righteous
Lost to Saved
Alienated to Reconciliation
Guilty to Justification
Rebelliousness to Obedience
Faithlessness to Faithfulness
Ungratefulness to Thankfulness
Hateful to Loving
Hater of God to God-fearing
Idolatrous to Worship of the Creator
Enmity with God to Friend of God
Unholy to Sanctification
Defiled to Washed
Ignorance to Understanding
Entertaining Fleshly Lusts to Purity of Heart
Evil Works to
Good Works
Non-bearing to Fruitful
Pleasure Seeker to God Seeker
Shamefulness to Glory
Stranger of the Covenant to a Party of the Covenant
Foreigner to a Fellow Citizen of the kingdom
Drunkenness to Filled with the Holy Spirit
Vulnerability to Strength in the Lord
Selfishness to Selflessness
Pride to Humility of Spirit
Without Hope to Fullness of Assurance


- 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





Monday, October 17, 2011

What Do You Lack?

By Tom Moore
     In ancient Greece it was customary for peddlers who walked the streets with their wares to cry out, "What do you lack?" The idea was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also rouse the curiosity of the people.
    Coming out of their houses they would want to know what the peddler was selling. It might be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.
     What do you lack? We may have sight and hearing, but what do we lack? Take an honest inventory of yourself. Have you found contentment? Are you close enough to God to receive guidance and strength through His word? Have you secured peace of heart and peace of mind, invaluable assets in life?
     Deciding what we lack is the first step in securing it. Christ can fulfill the deepest needs of our heart, mind, and soul.
     The man in Mark 7 lacked the physical ability to hear. But many of us lack the spiritual ability to hear. We suffer a kind of a spiritual deafness. The affliction of not listening to God, or, to put it another way, the affliction of physically listening to God (through study of His word), yet failing to comprehend, to understand, and come to grips with what He is saying, is a great plague upon the Church. For, you see, it is possible to listen to God's instructions as written in the Bible, yet fail to really hear.
     Seriously consider these words of James, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:19-25).

-Tom Moore; 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: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com


The Suffering of Christ

By David Pharr
    A story is told of a man whose wife had deserted him for another man.
    She had succeeded in taking away their children.  The estranged husband had given in to depression and lost his business.  Brokenhearted and ruined, he became obsessed with the enormity of his troubles and refused every offer of encouragement and hope.  The day came when he heard a great sermon on Christ having been “in all points tempted like as we are,” but rather than being comforted he resented the sermon and told the preacher, “Yes, Jesus suffered many things, but he never had a wife and family stolen from him.  He was never married, never had children, so that’s suffering He never knew.”
    The preacher wisely responded, “You have seen an accomplished violinist play a great variety of music.  There are only four strings on his violin, but they can produce both dances and dirges.  The same four strings can cover the whole range.  No, Jesus did not experience your trials in the same details, but He endured the broad range of disappointment, desertion, grief, pain and even dying, so that the strings of His heart can vibrate with all the sad songs of life’s bitterest experiences.”

-David Pharr, via
The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com

Encourage Your Family!

    Part of your role as a family member is to be a fan of those with whom you live. God created you to be a cheerleader for your spouse and children. 
     E-N-C-O-U-R-A-G-E-M-E-N-T is perhaps the best cheer you can learn! 
E is for enthusiasm and energy in supporting causes important to your family members. 
N is saying, “Next time, you’ll succeed” 
C is for compassion. 
O is for open lines of communication. 
U is for understanding. 
R is for rooting on the team. 

A is for arranging your schedule to make time for others in your family. 
G is for going the second mile. 
E is for entertaining your children’s friends. 
M is for modeling a positive attitude. 
E is for empowering your child with God’s Word. 
N is for never giving up. 
T is for time out for hugs and praise. 

    
“E-N-C-O-U-R-A-G-E” your family today and let them know you “M-E-N-T” it! 

- 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com



When Sin Traps You

By John Telgren

    A few years ago, we had a garden in the back yard that served as some little critter's personal buffet. He couldn't just take one whole tomato or ear of corn or some other vegetable or fruit for himself and leave the rest alone. No, he had to take a bite out of everything. In frustration, we went down and got a trap and left it in the garden. We discovered that it was partners in crime had done the deed. Over the next couple days, we caught both a groundhog and a possum. The traps were humane traps that were impossible for them to get out of. There was no hope. Once they went into the trap and the door closed, they were stuck. Their only hope was for someone to free them. We took them across the river away from town and freed them there. Stacey wanted to make sure it was at a place where they could live comfortably.
    This is how it is with sin. Once we sin, there is no way humanly possible to escape it. It is like a trap. Once it has you, you are trapped. Notice what Jesus said.
"Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin' " (Jn 8:34).
    Sin is like a trap. Once it has you, you become a sinner and there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot "un-sin." You become tainted, trapped, enslaved. It simply is not humanly possible yourself from slavery to sin. However, it is divinely possible for you to be freed from sin. Notice what Jesus also says,  "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (Jn 8:36).
    The only way to be free indeed, or truly free, is for Jesus himself to free you. Jesus died on the cross for your sins offering forgiveness (Eph 1:7). In dying on the cross, he opened the door so that you can escape and be free from sin.
    How do you go through the open door to be free? Keeping in mind that Jesus is the door (Jn 10:9), here is what we do. We accept and confess our faith in Jesus as our risen Lord (Rom 10:9), and we repent and are baptized for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). When we are baptized into the water, we are baptized into the death of Christ and have been raised with him to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-5). The Bible says that when this happens, "our old self was crucified with Him in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin" (Rom 6:6).
    So, when we submit ourselves to Christ as our Lord and master, we go through the door he opened for us at the cross. We become free from sin and now belong to him
    "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life" (Rom 6:22).

- John Telgren preachers for the Leavenworth church of Christ in Leavenworth, KS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.lcofc.org

Monday, October 10, 2011

Watching Her Breathe

By Jim Faughn

    She was (and is) the one with whom I hope to spend the rest of my life. From those earlier times when it was a new experience until now when it never grows old, watching her breathe means, among other things, commitment. It means that home is wherever the two of us happen to be.
    She was our firstborn. We had prayed for her to be healthy and God had graciously granted us a positive answer to that prayer. He also did that later when her brother was born. Watching her (and her brother) breathe and sleep was such a joy. It meant that these two precious souls felt contentment. It meant that our family had grown and that, at least to them, home was wherever mommy and daddy were.
    She is our last remaining parent. Both of my parents and Donna’s father have preceded her in death. As I write this, Donna and I are sitting in her mother’s room and watching her breathe. That’s all she’s been able to do for quite a while now. It probably won’t be long until she breathes for the last time.
    While I cannot say that this experience is as pleasant as the others, there is still something very positive about it. For years, she has been a faithful member of God’s family. Because of that, the members of her earthly family know that she has an eternal home waiting for her. We have no doubt about that fact that, in His own time, her Father will welcome her home. Her sleep is a sleep of security.
    Three special people --- three types of sleep --- one earnest prayer… May God help the one who is writing these words and those who may read them be committed to Him and His Word; content with the blessings He has bestowed; and secure in their relationship with Him and in their hope of heaven. If, with His help, we can do that, a wonderful lady who never had much to say will have preached a great sermon with her life. If we are able to put her sermon into practice in our lives, she will not be the only one to hear the words, “Well done.”

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Central church of Christ


“The Preaching of the Word”

By Jay Lockhart

     In the forward for R. Albert Mohler, Jr’s book He Is Not Silent, John MacArthur observed that “Every significant phase of authentic revival, reformation, missionary expansion, or robust church growth has also been an era of biblical preaching.” Mohler quoted John A. Broadus as saying, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembly of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of divine worship.”
     The major thrust of Mohler’s book is that people, including preachers, have lost their confidence in the importance of preaching and the need for restoring biblical preaching to the place God has always intended for it to occupy. God’s charge to Timothy through Paul was “Preach the Word!” (2 Tim. 4:2). There are a number of things that will help us with this.
     First, we must believe that biblical preaching is the proclamation of the very word of God to men. Biblical preaching is not primarily about “getting it over with” or PowerPoint or entertainment or handouts. It is about hearing a word from God.

    
Second, we must understand that biblical p
reaching is to confront people with God’s will for their lives including salvation, worship, service, and godly living. It is designed to confront, encourage, exhort, teach, comfort, challenge, and give hope. In short preaching is to lead to transformation.
    
Third, we must understand that biblical preaching is “proclamation through personality,” but proclamation is more important than personality because it allows one to hear wha
t God says.
    
Fourth, we must recognize that biblical preaching is a part of divinely authorized worship and it is that part of worship in which we “hear His voice” (Heb 4:7)
.      Fifth, we must acknowledge that biblical preaching makes a demand: we must teach, hear, believe, love and obey God’s word.
    
Sixth, we must know that a congregation of God’s people will never rise above its respect for and acceptance of the proclamation of the word of the Lord. May we all be involved in restoring the preached word to the rightful place God intended. Then, and only then, can we expect restoration, renewal, and revival.

- Jay Lockhart;
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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

The Catholic Church is not part of THE Christian FAITH

By David Ray Fanning I

The Catholic Church claims it is the only true church when in fact it is not even part of the one true church of the New Testament. Consider the following passages which prophesy about/provide descriptions of the early stages of the Catholic Church: (1) some to DEPART FROM THE FAITH and bind the teachings of celibacy and abstinence from foods, I Timothy 4:1-5 [priests/nuns must be celibate and Catholics must observe Lent, etc.]. (2) the MAN OF SIN, II Thessalonians 2:1-10: (a) the day of Jesus’ coming will not occur unless the falling away comes first [the first full-fledged falling away/denomination was the Catholic Church]; (b) the man of sin/lawless one will exalt himself above all that is called God [the papacy eventually produced the first universal pope/father/head in A.D. 606, namely, Boniface III, violating Matthew 23:9 and Ephesians 1:15-23; furthermore, Catholic Tradition is exalted above the Bible; compare (3) the LITTLE HORN of Daniel 7:15-25 which also refers to the early stages of Catholicism which “change times and law”]; (c) he will sit as God in the temple [“church”, Ephesians 2:21; the papacy claims it can personally remove sins, violating Mark 2:7-10]; (d) he was fully revealed some time after the restraining power of the Roman Empire was removed in A.D. 476 (popes transformed Catholicism into a political power in the 700s); (e) he comes with all power, signs and lying wonders (papacy claims miraculous ability); (f) he deceives (over one billion people follow the pope today). (4) Finally, read about Catholicism as the EARTH BEAST of Revelation 13:11-17. I plead with Catholics to drop Catholicism and become Christians only and added members of the body/church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19). You will not be able to obtain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” until you reject all Traditions/Churches of men (Romans 16:16; Ephesians 4:1-6)!

- David Fanning preaches for the Petersburg church of Christ in Petersburg, TN and, along with Kevin Pendergrass edit the website Defending the Faith, at http://www.defendingthedoctrine.com/index.htm. David may be contacted at davidfanning1@gmail.com

The Lord's Time...

    There was a story in a Rochester, Texas church bulletin about a young man who was working in a large department store, being told by his employer that he would be required to work on Sunday. It so happened that the hours assigned to him would have prevented his attending any of the worship services to which he had been accustomed to attending since childhood.
    The young man informed his employer that he would not be able to continue his work under these conditions, and his employer told him he would have to go.
    A few days later, the young man answered an ad in the paper from a bank which had advertised a vacancy for a teller. In checking the young man’s previous employers, the bank president contacted the department store head and inquired as to the boy’s record and whether he could recommend him. The store manager replied, “Why yes, I will be glad to recommend him. He will make you a good man. I just fired him a few days ago.”
    “Fired him?” the bank president exclaimed. “Why would you recommend a man whom you just recently dismissed from your service?” The store manager explained the circumstances under which the boy was released, and remarked, “I know he will make you a good man for your bank, because if he will not steal the Lord’s time, he will not steal your money.”

- 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 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Check Your Ears

By Joe Chesser

    Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak, and another to hear.”  In a similar vein of thought, Walt Whitman said, “To have great poets, there must be great audiences.”
    Most preachers and teachers take their job of sharing the truth of God’s word very seriously.  They work hard at selecting and preparing the lessons they present.  And that’s what we should expect from them.  We should want preachers who are trained and well grounded.  We want preachers and teachers to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) and to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  Yet, what we often hear in the pulpits and class rooms across the nation and around the world has little to do with the word of God.  In its place are instructive and entertaining presentations on politics, economics, psychology, and current events.  Audiences love it, but God is not in it.
    Who’s at fault – the preachers or the audiences?  Actually, both are.  Preachers need to “preach the word” whether the audiences want to hear it or not.  Or, as Paul put it, “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).  The purpose of preaching and teaching is to help the audience confront God and His expectations of them as the scriptures reveal. This involves correcting, rebuking and encouraging (2 Timothy 4:2).  Audiences may not want it, but they certainly need it.
   As a general rule, audiences prefer things that “tickle their ears” (2 Timothy 4:3). Because of that, audiences share the blame for preaching and teaching that satisfies, but doesn’t nourish, feels good, but doesn’t help them draw closer to God.  Audiences will demand that they hear what they want to hear. And if they don’t, the speaker will be presented with the ultimatum, “Tell us what we want to hear, or we will find someone who will!”
    But, even if the preacher or teacher is presenting sound doctrine, as Thoreau expressed, the truth has to be heard.  Great audiences not only demand that truth be taught, they also understand that they have the responsibility to actually listen to it. While audiences should expect lessons to be well prepared and presented, the preachers and teachers should expect their audiences to be well prepared to hear the word of God.  No matter how good the lessons are, if people don’t have “ears to hear,” it does little good. Jesus spoke of people whose hearts were calloused as people who “hardly hear with their ears,” as people who won’t allow God to heal them (Matthew 13:14-16).  Audiences need to let God speak to them through preachers and teachers no matter what style of teacher he may be.  Great audiences, great listeners come prepared to learn.  If you are not “getting anything out of the classes and sermons,” you might want to check your ears.

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


Be Kind to One Another

By Patrick Hogan

     On an internet message board I frequent, one of the members includes the following comment in his signature: "Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." Every time I read this statement it makes me think about how true it is. Some people hide their struggles more effectively than others, so it is sometimes very easy to forget that everyone we meet is fighting his or her own battle.
     To one who is struggling, a kind word or a kind deed can make a tremendous difference. Many of us have been there. We have fac
ed discouraging situations and didn't quite know what to do. At just the right moment someone either sent us a note of encouragement or performed some other kind gesture that lifted our spirits and enabled us to continue with renewed determination. Jesus' admonition, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12) can find real application in our daily lives. It can make a real difference in the lives of others when we put it into practice.
     Something else that comes to mind when I think about the statement "Be kinder than necessary ..." is the fact that I shouldn't limit myself to looking for people who are struggling in order to show kindness. I should make it my goal to be kind to everyone I meet. After all, they are struggling with some battle and my kindness toward them can make a difference
.
     A
s we go about our daily lives, coping with our own battles, let's remember that others may be facing difficulties that we cannot really comprehend. they may never tell anyone and they may never show any indication that they are struggling. However, if we are kinder than necessary, we can affect their lives in a positive way.

- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at http://www.shadyacreschurch.com 


John 16:13-14 & The Spirit

By Ty Nicol
     It's important to bear in mind that this passage is particularly about the Holy Spirit and not about Jesus or the Father, so it becomes almost a job description. The passage has nothing to say about his person hood and nature (though there are implications here), but about how he will go about his business, which, in this text, is to develop the meaning and further the purposes of Jesus Christ.
     Those who would urge us to "go back to the simple teachings of Jesus" should pay attention to this text. The apostolic witness and the development of the truth about Jesus Christ should not be ignored-especially in light of such a passage. Jesus does not think that what the Spirit will do in them was a step backward. To ignore the Gospels would be tragic in every way that something can be tragic, but to dismiss the NT epistles would be no less catastrophic. The Gospels are more than "simple" historical records of slices of Jesus' life, but the epistles teach us the meaning of much that we read in the Gospels.
     These verses should give warning to preachers/teachers that ceaselessly talk to believers about the believers. The central responsibility of the church is to proclaim the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Its business is not to look ceaselessly at its own image. The business of its leaders and ministers of the Word is to take of Christ's and give it to the church for the world, to the glory of God.
     Ministers of the word are to feed the church of God with the word of the Spirit of God in keeping with God's eternal purposes. It's not in looking within that we'll find courage and strength and joy and purpose and outreach. If we gain these and more we'll gain them in being astonished by his grace and power and faithfulness and joy-filled holiness.

- Ty Nicol; 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: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Abusing the Lord's Supper

By Bill Jackson

    In looking into 1 Corinthians 11, we have these words from the apostle to help us see Corinth’s condition as regards to worship:
1. Coming together for the worse (v. 17).
2. Coming together in a divided state (v. 18).
3. Coming together with an allegiance to men (v. 19).
4. Coming together with no thought as to the significance of the supper (v. 20).
5. Coming together in mixing their common meal items in with worship (vv. 21-22).
6. Coming together with no discernment of the body of the Lord, and thus their participation was in an unworthy manner (vv. 27-29).
    The apostle indicates a great spiritual sickness in their midst, with some of them actually “in death” (v.30). The wonderful privilege of worship was being abused, perverted and mishandled. We must continually examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5), in this and in every way, that we insure that our worship will be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
    But we want to speak of the abuse of the Lord’s Supper in our own time, and in some particular ways wherein we should now stop and examine ourselves with a determination to improve. We make mention of these points regarding the abuse just noted:
1. We abuse the Lord’s Supper when there is no anticipation of worship. The Christian is a worshiper, and worship is to be a great and continual part of his life. Yes, “exhort one another” (Heb. 10:25). The Supper is mentioned as a rallying cause of the saints on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). If the Supper is meaningless to us as we think of it, and as we approach the observance of it, it will be meaningless as we partake as well.
2. We abuse the Supper if we have the view that “this is all that matters.” There are five avenues of worship, and if five are necessary, then all five are important. There has been too much of an attitude that says, “Just so I get the Lord’s Supper!” For all its importance, it is not ALL IMPORTANT! It is fruitless to be half-hearted in all other worship, and then to try to be of a spiritual mind when it is time to observe the Supper.
3. We abuse the Supper if we think that observance somehow makes up for the time misspent in sin, indifference and carelessness. Not one word is said in the New Testament about the Lord’s Supper affecting “cleansing” for the disobedient child of God! If he is unfaithful to God, he is in no better position to partake of the Lord’s Supper than he is to sing or pray. Without making proper correction in life, he only adds sin to sin in going through the motions of Lord’s Supper observance.
4. We abuse the Supper if we so spend the week or weekend in fun and games, perhaps on vacation, and just barely squeeze in time to make a service, arriving late and nearly to the point of exhaustion, and we do manage to “get the Supper.” Body and mind in such shape for worship is needed to worship “in spirit” — with spirit and understanding (I Cor. 14:15). It is an abuse of all worship, and not just the Supper, when I can BARELY find an hour to give to God!
5. Finally, one of the most flagrant abuses is on the part of those who willfully absent themselves on Sunday mornings, and then will rise to partake on Sunday evenings as if some matter beyond their control blocked them that morning. We know that sicknesses and emergencies arise, but we are thinking of the willful absence, and then the Sunday evening partaking, as if God would subsidize the negligence. This is an abuse of the purpose and intent of the Lord’s Supper — a memorial with significance for Spiritual people!
     May we examine ourselves in this avenue of worship, and in all others, that we will truly worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and that our coming together be for The Better! (I Cor. 11:17).

- Bill Jackson (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 [Brother Chumbley made this appropriate note: "These words from the late brother Jackson should be kept in mind as regards to the Lord’s Supper that we partake in a worthy manner (I Corinthians 11:27)]