By David Bragg
On Father’s Day in 2003 Brian (10)
was innocently playing with a pair of old handcuffs that
his father, a former security guard, had laying around.
Brian decided to “attach” himself to his father, who was
glad to play along until he realized that the key was
missing. After an exhaustive search the police were
contacted to help remove the cuffs, which they did, and
replaced them with new ones. As a result of routine
background checks they discovered two outstanding
warrants on Brian’s dad (Des Moines Register,
June 17, 2003). He thought he had escaped his past.
Justice is not very forgiving!
The sad reality of life is that we
all struggle with sin. Not only do we struggle, we
consistently lose that battle. Two familiar verses burn
this reality into our minds: "for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23) and "the
wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, we need
Grace has been described in various
ways. It is “God’s unmerited favor,” or "God's Riches At
Christ's Expense." But no matter how you define it,
grace is essential. “For by grace you have been saved
through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the
gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).
- David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the
Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is
co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/
or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/
By J. Randal Matheny
You care for me I know,
And daily watch the flow
The whole of man you guide
And with the meek reside —
With even me.
For glory comes the call,
From him who knows us all
And loves us more;
Believe, obey, and trust —
Take all these steps we must
To enter the door.
We pray for Christ to come,
To judge by word and plumb —
For him we wait.
We're eager to hear our names,
Receive our heavenly claims,
- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an
inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>.
When reprinting this
material, please include the following:
Copyright (c) 2019 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or
By Ron Bartanen
Among the descriptive terms used in
the New Testament with reference to that body of people
that we generally refer to as the church, none is more
descriptive of our close relationship to Christ than
that of a bride. In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul, while
admonishing wives to be submissive to their husbands,
and husbands to love their wives, illustrates their
relationship to one another as a reflection of the
relationship between Christ and the church. The husband
is to be “the head of the wife, even as Christ is the
head of the church” (v. 23), but this headship is to be
exercised in the spirit of Christ, as he further writes,
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved
the church and gave himself for it” (v. 25). He
anticipates the time when, at the return of Christ, He
presents His bride to Himself as “a glorious church, not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it
should be holy and without blemish” (v. 26).
The beauty and glory of the
wedding-attire of the bride of Christ is not of her own
doing, but of her husband’s. He has so designed the
church that in spite of the deficiencies of those
composing the church, it will, in that day, be seen as
“a glorious church.” We would do well to consider why
and how this could be so.
First, the church owes its existence
to Christ. The passage in Eph. 5 declares that Christ
“gave himself for it” (v. 25b). He purchased the
materials that compose the church (the redeemed) with
His own blood (Acts 20:28). Had Christ not shed His
blood at Calvary, the church would be non-existent.
Under another figure, He is the church’s builder (Matt.
16:18; Heb. 8:2). The church’s glory is a reflection of
the glory of its builder.
Second, the glory of the church is
seen in its head, Jesus Christ. The Lord’s church has no
mere human, or council of men, as its head. As Paul
wrote in Col. 1:18: “He is the head of the body, the
church…that in all things he might have the
Third, the glory of the church is
evident in the church’s foundation. “Other foundation
can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”
(1 Cor. 3:11).
Fourth, the church is glorious
because of its glorious purpose. Paul wrote of its
purpose when he said, “Unto him (Christ) be glory in the
church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world
without end” (Eph. 3:21). Through Christ, the redeemed
glorify God as the people reconciled to God “in one body
by the cross” (Eph. 2:16). Returning to Eph. 5, Christ
is both the “head of the church, and he is the Savior of
the body” (v. 23). The purpose of the church is to exist
in this world as that body of people called out of the
world to show forth the good news of salvation in
While the church is commonly vilified
in the world, its glory will one day be evident. Among
the closing visions of John on the Isle of Patmos is
that of “the bride, the Lamb’s (Christ’s) wife” (Rev.
21:9). She is portrayed as a city, “the holy Jerusalem,
descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of
God…” (21:10b-11a). A city is identified most of all by
its inhabitants. The mansions in which we shall dwell
(John 14:1-4) will be glorious, but also what we suffer
for Christ’s sake personally is “not worthy to be
compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”
Those who shall partake of this glory
are identified as those who are first sanctified and
cleansed of sin “with the washing of water by the word”
(Eph. 5:26). Have you surrendered yourself to Christ,
and been added by the Lord to His glorious church?
(Read Acts 2:36-47)
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of
Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/
By Edd Sterchi
“Why do you spend money for what is not
bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let
your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa. 55:2).
Let’s admit something up front: There
is food that is good for us and there is junk food.
There is food that builds the bones and muscles, and
there is food that clogs the arteries. There is food
that provides energy, and there is food that adds fat.
In short, there is good food and bad food.
Now, understanding that, let us ask
this: Why would people spend good money on bad food? I
know the answer, because I have done this (and so have
you). We do it because we like the way it tastes.
God asked a similar question
twenty-seven hundred years ago about how His people were
feeding their souls. They seem to have been more
interested consuming spiritual junk food than in eating
a healthy spiritual diet. They were doing this by
disobeying God and living in ways that dishonored Him.
As a result of consuming the wrong spiritual diet, they
were bringing spiritual sickness and harm to themselves.
But God did not just give the warning
of what would happen if they continued eating spiritual
junk food, He gave them a dietary plan that would bring
them back to spiritual health. They were to “forsake”
their wicked ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:7) and “return
to the LORD” (Isa. 55:7). And they were to consume the
food that was good for their souls – the word of God
(Isa. 55:11). Doing this would cause spiritual health
which brings joy and peace (Isa. 55:12).
There’s a great analogy in this for
us. When the arteries of the soul are clogged through a
bad spiritual diet, cardiac arrest of the spirit can
happen. Instead of beating regularly and powerfully with
love for God, the heart becomes cold and heavy and
spiritual activity stops.
Christian, do you desire a
spiritually healthy life? Then hunger for His word. Feed
on it, digest it, and allow it to generate spiritual
strength and energy for your life. Eat some “soul food”
- 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/
By Gerald Cowan
In Christ I’ve learned to give as well as take.
In serving others, I serve for his sake.
But it is also for my own soul’s sake.
His love has given me new life to live.
I’m giving back what Christ gave me to give.
By sharing him I earn the right to live.
The truest gift I can give is my life.
But I am his. He bought me with his life.
I give what is already his – my life.
What I am giving, Christ my Lord will keep
Until I wake from death’s long dreaded sleep.
He, through eternity, my soul will keep.
Although my debt to him is never paid,
In life or death I will not be afraid,
Secured by what the Lord and I have paid.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is
retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald
publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S
PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel
Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
By Ron Thomas
The significance of Easter to a great
many people is in relation to the Lord’s resurrection
from the grave. The importance of the Lord’s
resurrection is in the message of hope to a people lost
in sin (all are lost in sin; Romans 3:23). With this
message of hope, is a message of warning. Paul spoke to
those in Athens, saying, “The times of ignorance God
overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to
repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will
judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has
appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by
raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31, ESV). A
coming day of judgment is something people understand as
a matter of justice, but some confusion surrounds the
idea of justice and precisely how it will be applied.
For what will one be judged, what standard will be used
to judge and what happens after the judgment is
Briefly, let us address each
question. For what will one be judged? The things done
in this life. Paul wrote about this in his letter to the
church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:10). “For we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each
one may receive what is due for what he has done in the
body, whether good or evil.” The words “good” and “evil”
are understood exclusively in relation to the Lord’s
The standard used to judge us is the
standard of God’s holy will as spoken by the Lord Jesus
Himself (John 12:48). “The one who rejects me and does
not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have
spoken will judge him on the last day.” This means the
life we have chosen to live will be measured against the
life the Lord wants us to live. If one chooses poorly,
then on that day of judgment, the one who chose poorly
will not hear pleasant words (cf. Matthew
At Judgment, what happens? “When the
Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy
angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of
his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations:
and he shall separate them one from another, as a
shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matthew
25:31-32, KJV). There is no chance we can escape this
day, but there is an opportunity to escape the Lord’s
Do you believe Jesus is the Son of
God? If so, change your way of thinking, confess Him as
your Lord, be buried (immersion) with Him in baptism
(Romans 6:3-7). Do this and live faithfully for Him
(Rev. 2:10), and you will hear words that are most
pleasant (Matthew 25:44-46). Before you know it,
judgment day will arrive! For the faithful Christian,
judgment day will be a grand day, but for the one who
refuses to obey, judgment day will be a day of horror!
Brighten your day and to Jesus obey.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ,
Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
By Neal Pollard
Trevor Matich was being interviewed
on ESPN radio, asked about why he thought that Clemson
had built such a strong football program in the last few
years. His quick response was, "They have built a strong
sense of family." He talked about how Head Coach Dabo
Sweeney and his staff wanted players to see their
coaches not just as coaches but also as husbands and
fathers. Consequently, the coaches' families spend a lot
of time around the athletic facilities or hanging out
with the players. They have intentionally built a strong
family environment that doesn't compartmentalize but
rather coalesces. Recruits talk about sensing it when
they make a visit, but, more importantly, players on the
roster speak just as strongly about it.
How many teams make such an emphasis
isn't clear, but you don't seem to hear that said often
enough. While I find such human interest stories
heartwarming, it makes me wonder, "Do people describe
our congregation with similar terminology?" Are we
creating, developing, and nurturing a strong sense of
The early church definitely majored
in that priority. From the time the first
church of our Savior was established, we find this
emphasis (Acts 2:42-47). Often, New Testament writers
spoke of the church with family terminology (Eph. 2:19;
3:15; 1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2; Ti. 2:1-8; etc.). The church
exists as a subcommunity within the broader community
around them. People from that broader community are
looking for greater intimacy and meaningful
relationships. One place they often turn is to various
churches. Whether through our efforts to evangelize or
through their seeking that brings them within our walls,
we have an opportunity to expose them to a "strong sense
But, by being faithful to New
Testament teaching, we offer this in the context of
truth rather than error. We cannot settle for simply
offering truth, as eternally vital as that is. Along
with it, we must love, embrace, and work to incorporate
them into our family. God has His church designed to
follow His written will in the context of a tight-knit,
spiritual family. A true sense of family will draw them
into a relationship with us. It will better open their
hearts and minds to being drawn into a relationship with
Christ. The net effect will be greater than a national
championship. It will be many, many souls won to eternal
life. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to be
- Neal Pollard preaches for the Bear Valley church of
Christ in Denver, CO. He also publishes an e-mail
newsletter, Daily Bread. You can visit their website at
By Johnny Hester
Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (11
March 1811 – 23 September 1877) was a French astronomer
and mathematician who specialized in celestial mechanics
and is best known for predicting the existence and
position of Neptune using only mathematics. Le Verrier
observed slight irregularities in the orbit of the
planet Uranus. He surmised that this must be due to some
unknown influence or attraction. Searching for the
attractive force led him to discover a formerly
“invisible” planet, Neptune.
What does this have to do with us?
Brothers and sisters, here’s the point: If we, as
individuals and as a church, are truly being influenced
by our association with Christ, people will notice a
difference in our lives and curiously investigate what
the cause might be.
You have perhaps read many times the
words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5:14-16. Please read
them once again in the context of what we are here
studying. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A
city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they
light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a
lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the
house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Light doesn’t have to draw attention
to itself—it is self-evident. Just so, as your life
orbits around Christ you reflect His light into a world
darkened by sin. People who observe the difference in
your life will wonder what it is that makes you
different. This curiosity may well lead someone to
discover the One whose Light you are reflecting.
- Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church
of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Steve Higginbotham
The story is told of a missionary who
once visited a very primitive tribe of people. These
people had very little contact with the outside world,
and they were totally unfamiliar with many things we
take for granted. One of the things they had never
before seen was a mirror. The only way they knew what
they looked like was the very poor reflection one can
sometimes see in the water. One day, the missionary hung
a mirror on a tree. The tribe's chief happened to walk
past the mirror, so he stopped, stood there, and looked
at it for quite some time. Then he walked directly to
the missionary and asked him to explain. The
missionary explained what a mirror was and that it was a
reflection of what he looked like. The chief promptly
walked back to the mirror, took it off the tree, and
smashed it on the ground. The missionary asked him why
he broke the mirror to which the chief replied, "Because
the face that was being reflected was ugly."
When I heard that story, I couldn't
help but think that in spite of all our sophistication,
we still behave quite primitively at times. God's
word functions a mirror to our soul. We can look at it
and learn exactly what we look like to God and others.
Sometimes, the reflection is not very flattering.
So we're left with a choice. Do we try to destroy
the mirror? Do we refuse to look in the mirror
again? Or do we do what we can to improve the way
I know what the tribal chief did, but
what do you do? Give it some thought.
"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a
doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a
mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and
immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he
who looks into the perfect law of liberty and
continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a
doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he
does" (James 1:23-25).
- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of
Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website at http://www.karnschurch.org
Copyright © 2019 MercEmail
By Seth Myers
When we open the New Testament, we
have the blessing of reading two invaluable things:
1. The inspired record of the things Jesus did and
2. The inspired record of the things Jesus’ chosen
apostles did and taught.
In no other place can one find these treasures.
In no other place on planet Earth can
either of these treasures be found. Therefore, we ought
to take great pains to note the things we find in the
New Testament Scriptures, as well as those things we do
NOT find. The latter—common practices or traditions that
are not found in the NT—is what we will consider for a
Take, for instance, the question of
how to be saved. There is a sad state of affairs in our
day: many things today are said and taught in response
to this all-important, eternity-altering question which
are simply not in the New Testament. The question we
should ask ourselves is this: “What did the Lord and/or
His apostles tell people when they were asked this
question?” The answer to that question will be the most
valuable information one could ever hope to obtain on
the subject. Everything else is completely irrelevant,
and utterly worthless.
Here are some examples of things
neither the Lord, nor His apostles, nor any other
inspired man, ever told anyone to do to be saved:
of these things were ever spoken by the Lord or His
inspired apostles. Therefore, as absurd as #2 most
certainly is, it is no more absurd than number #5—for
their absurdities are both due to the simple fact that
they are not from God and will thus not result in
In truth, the only way one can know
how to be saved is to look to the “whole counsel of God”
(Acts 20:27) on the subject, in the New Testament. When
one does that, this is the pattern one finds:
two 12 oz. cans of your favorite soft drink.
three hours in 95º lemon juice.
any four of Shakespeare’s classics.
your sinfulness, “Believe in” Jesus, and “Call upon
in” Jesus and pray the Sinner’s Prayer.
no other way can man be saved, but in the way which God
has prescribed; and this is what God has said. Will you
believe God (cf. Rom. 4:3; Isa. 43:10; Jn. 8:46; Deut.
the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:17)
the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:10)
of Your Sins (Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30;
JESUS [i.e., as the Son of God in truth] (Rom.
10:17; cf. Acts 8:34)
IMMERSED, IN WATER, UNTO [“in order to“—i.e., “for
the purpose of”] THE REMISSION OF SINS (Mk. 16:16;
Acts 2:38; 8:36; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27; Jn.
3:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:20,21)
- Seth Myers preaches for the Highway Church of Christ
in Sullivan, IL. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: https://hwycoc.com/
By Joe Slater
Maybe you should vacation in the
Rockies this summer. Back in 2010 Mr. Forest Fenn, a New
Mexico art dealer, hid a chest of gold nuggets and
precious jewels worth about $2-million somewhere in the
Rockies. He even published a map and poem he said
contained all the hints you need to find the treasure.
Some 350,000 people have tried to locate it, all to no
avail. A few people have died in accidents while
Mr. Fenn said he hid the cache to
promote fishing and other outdoor activities involving
families pursuing the riches. “I wanted to give kids
something to do. They spend too much time in the game
room or playing with their little handheld texting
No doubt our children would be better
served by hiking and fishing than by endlessly playing
video games! And I understand the attraction of a
$2-million stash of gold and jewels! I’m disturbed,
however, by the preoccupation with “uncertain riches” (1
Timothy 6:17), contrasted with the evident lack of
interest in eternal, spiritual matters.
Jesus spoke of a treasure hidden in a
field; the man who found it sold everything he had to
buy the field. It wasn’t money, but God’s kingdom
(Matthew 13:44). I’d love to see 350,000 people seeking
the kingdom with the intensity they show toward gold and
What about us? What are we telling
our children when we will move heaven and earth to
attend every practice and every game for sports, but
casually miss Bible classes and church? We say God is
most important, but is He? Really? Think about it.
- 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
By Joe Chesser
We all want God to be generous with
us. We’ve come to expect it. We’ve been taught that God
loves to give abundantly, “good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, running over” (Luke 6.38). It’s God’s
nature to give lavishly (Eph. 1.8). It’s a part of who
He is. “For God so loved the world that he gave …” (John
3.16). God is generous in all kinds of blessings. He is
able to “make all grace abound to you, so that having
all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may
abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9.8-emphasis mine).
God’s nature is to be generous in giving.
And we love to soak it in. We love
that Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10.10).
We love that Jesus encouraged us to “Ask, and you will
receive” because the Father knows how to give good gifts
(Matt. 7.7, 13). We feel confident to pray for more …
more money, more protection, more healing, more
forgiveness, more time, more peace, more wisdom … more
blessings of all kinds. That’s OK, because God wants to
bless us abundantly, and He knows how and when to do so
for our good (Rom. 8.28).
But something else God wants us to
learn to do, if we haven’t done so yet, is to become
like Him in our giving. Just like every other trait of
God, He wants us to become like Him in generosity (Luke
6.38). God is not stingy, and He does not want us to be
reluctant, skimpy givers. “Whoever sows sparingly will
also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will
also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9.6). God loves it when
we purposefully plan to become a willing and cheerful
generous giver (2 Cor. 9.7). In fact, that is something
God expects us to become. God has promised that the more
we learn to be generous in our giving like He is, the
more He will enable us: “You will be made rich in every
way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and
through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving
to God” (2 Cor. 9.11 NIV).
When our giving comes from a heart
that loves God and seeks to be like Him in every way
possible, God is honored and enables us to do more than
we can imagine. How could the Corinthians give “beyond
their ability”? The answer is that when they “gave
themselves first to the Lord,” the Lord blessed them to
give more than they could on their own. Even extreme
poverty didn’t prevent them from giving generously, nor
did it prevent God from working through them (2 Cor.
8.1-5). Generosity is not a matter of abundance but a
matter of a heart trying to be like God.
There is no fear for ourselves in
giving generously when we give with the motives of God.
There is no reluctance or stinginess when we give with
motives of God. There is no selfishness or greed when we
give with the motives of God (James 4.2-4). Becoming
like God in our giving will only result in multiple
blessings, blessings we will cherish now and forever as
we lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.19-21). It’s a
win-win, no-brainer offer from God. So, examine your
giving to see if you have become like God.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of
Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com
By David A. Sargent
Cubby Sellers recently described some
projects that he enjoyed with his dear friend, Elton
Love: “I went with Elton a few times to cut some wood.
Most people would think that we were cutting firewood.
But with Elton, after the tree was cut down, he would
look at the end of the log to see how the grain of the
wood looked. Then he would measure the length he wanted,
make a mark, and we would cut it again. Then he checked
the grain again at the both ends, made his mark, and cut
it so as to split the log length-wise. We would repeat
this process until we had all the wood he needed.
"Later he would take a piece of that
wood, place it onto his wood turning lathe, and work
with it for some time. All the while, woodchips and
sawdust would be flying all around him. And then as if
some magic had happened, he would have a beautiful
hand-turned wooden bowl. The wood grain was clearly in
view and stood out beautifully. Then I understood why
Elton had looked at the end of that log and made the
decision about which way to make to cut to split the
"Elton taught me how to take a plain
old piece of firewood and turn it into something
beautiful, a piece of hand-turned wooden art. Those were
some good times that we shared together and the
woodturnings that we made are artworks that I will
Notice again Cubby’s statement:
“Elton taught me how to take a plain old piece of
firewood and turn it into something beautiful, a piece
of hand-turned wooden art.”
I love that statement. I love it
because it reveals one of Elton’s incredible talents. I
also love it because it reminds me of the Master
Carpenter, Jesus Himself.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter and
likely was taught the trade by His earthly father,
Joseph. Think about how, like Elton, Jesus would have
been taught to look at a piece of wood and “turn it into
something beautiful, a piece of hand-turned wooden art.”
What houses did Jesus help build? What types of
But it was PEOPLE in which Jesus was
most interested. He could look at a person and see what
he or she could become with His skillful hands.
Here’s an example: when Andrew
brought his brother, Simon, to Jesus, Jesus looked at
him and said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall
be called Cephas (which is translated, A Stone)” (John
1:42). “Jesus looked at him” – and He saw what Simon
was, what He would do – including the blunders he would
make – but also what He could make of Him. Jesus saw
that He would make Him into a “Rock” in the kingdom, a
powerful proclaimer of the Gospel, the Good News (see
Jesus took “an old piece of firewood”
and made it into a wonderful piece of art. He did that
for Peter. He wants to do that in each of our lives. And
He will, if we will only submit ourselves to Him in
obedience to His will. He will conform us into His own
image (Romans 8:29). That is the greatest Image of all.
Jesus died on the cross to save us
from our sins. Now, He lives to mold us into His image
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
God will save and give eternal life
to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts
17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10),
and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the
forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to
cleanse from sin and mold the lives of those who
continue to submit to His will (1 John 1:7-9).
Won’t YOU submit your life to the
hands of the Master Carpenter so that He can save you
and mold you more and more into His image?
- 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
P.S. In loving memory of my friend and brother
in the Lord, Elton E. Love. I love the work that
Christ did in his life.
By Kevin V. Rutherford
Should Christians desire that all
people be saved? Absolutely! God does (1 Timothy 2:4; 2
Peter 3:9). We should strongly, deeply, and dearly love
God with every aspect of our being (Mark 12:30). We must
love our wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ with
an abiding, longsuffering, and sacrificial love (1
Corinthians 13; 1 John 3:10-5:3). In fact, we must love
all people (Mark 12:31)! We want all people to be saved,
because we love all people, even as God loves all people
(John 3:14-21; 1 John 3:16; Romans 5:8-11).
Will all people be saved?
Sadly, no. The love, care, and compassion we have for
others can bring grief and heaviness to our hearts as we
contemplate the fact that there are some individuals who
are not going to be saved (Matthew 7:13-14). We do not
rejoice in this. God does not rejoice in this (Ezekiel
18:29-32). But universalism is not true. That is, God
will not save everyone. Everyone has the opportunity for
salvation (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts
10:34-35; Titus 2:11; Romans 1:16-17). But not all will
choose to call upon God for salvation (Joshua 24:15;
Acts 13:46; Romans 10; Acts 2:21-41; Matthew 7:13-29).
What then is the standard by
which it can be determined who is going to be saved? Is
it the doctrines and commandments of men? Absolutely not
(Matthew 15:1-9)! Is it one’s opinions and gut feelings?
Most assuredly, no (Jeremiah 7:23-24; 10:23; 11:8;
13:9-10)! The Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the
Divinely Inspired Bible is the standard of authority
which identifies who will be saved and who will be lost
(1 Timothy 4:1-6; 2 Timothy 2:14-4:5; 2 Thessalonians
1:3-12; 1 Corinthians 1-3; Romans 2:1-16). It is this
God given standard that tells us those who do the will
of the Father in heaven will be saved, and those who
will not do what God says will be lost (Matthew
There can be no doubt that God
is the judge! He will judge the world through His Son
someday (Acts 17:31), and the truth will be the standard
by which His Son will judge the world (Acts 17:30; John
17:17; John 8:31-36; 1 Peter 1:13-25; 2 Timothy 3:16-17;
John 12:44-50). Ignorance of the Word of God will be no
excuse (Acts 17:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The Bible is
the standard by which one can determine who is going to
be saved and who is going to be lost. Therefore, one’s
opinions or doctrines that originate with men rather
than God have absolutely zero authority (Acts 5:29; 2
Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 15:9). In fact the doctrines of
men, the personal feelings of people, and the current
cultural climate are standards which will cause people
to be lost (Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy
2:14-18; Titus 1:9-16; Galatians
- Kevin V. Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel
church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/
By Jeff Arnette
I read an article on the
with this same title and I wanted to share some of the
main ideas with you. You can follow the link above for
the full article.
In the article, the author spoke
about the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and
attendance trends. He said that the SBC had a membership
of 16 million members but on any given Sunday, only 6
million attend a church service. I must agree with the
author that this is extremely discouraging and a
dangerous statistic. Yet, on the other hand, it’s
encouraging to hear that we’re not the only one
struggling with attendance problems. Just like the SBC,
on any given Sunday, there are more church members
absent than are present.
This is discouraging and
disheartening for those who are trying to grow
personally, spiritually and see the Lord's church grow.
It is also discouraging and disheartening for the
various Sunday School Teachers who have put in a lot of
time and effort to prepare to teach a class only to show
up and more than half of their students are not there.
More importantly, this is dangerous for your faith and
those we are trying to teach to be faithful Christians.
Every time you choose to stay home or do something else,
you are teaching all of us a powerful lesson that is
hard to forget. The lesson is clear: Church, Faith, and
Jesus are not that important. It is also an extremely
dangerous situation for you! When you don’t come to
church services you are placing your own soul and
salvation in a very precarious position.
When you miss church, you miss out on
God’s primary plan for your growth and well-being. The
church is not an afterthought or a mistake! It is God’s
plan that is meant to support and help you grow. The
preaching and teaching of God’s word in this group
setting motivate each of us to strive for
When you miss church, you are
disobeying God. Assembling with the church is not
optional nor is it subject to your whims. Hebrews
10:24-25 teaches us to avoid neglecting the public
assembly of the church. At the very least, you need to
understand that this is the will of God for you.
When you miss church, you proclaim
that Jesus is not worthy of worship. Where we spend our
time reveals the things, we truly value. If you miss
church to sleep in or attend a sporting event, it says
that thing is more important than Jesus. Don’t ever
forget that it teaches your family (children included)
that it’s not worth the effort. Do you want to see your
friends and family saved? Teach them by your example!
When you miss church, you can’t serve
anyone else. Too often we think of the church as a place
to have our needs met. Therefore, if my needs are not
being met, I can stay home. The problem with this is
serious. It makes church all about you. It is selfish,
individualistic, and misses the heart of Jesus. Jesus
was a servant (Matt. 20:28) and He expects you to be as
Lastly, when you miss church, you
miss out on a foretaste of heaven itself. Revelation
22:3 tells us that heaven will be worship. Do you
realize that this means that heaven is going to be like
church? An eternity spent worshiping our Lord. With that
said, if you don’t do it here nor like it, why would you
think you will get to do it in heaven.
Don’t allow the church, Bible study,
worship, and fellowship, to become something you miss
because it just might cause you to miss out on
everything, even heaven itself.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church
of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/
By Donna Wittlif
"And the God of all grace, who called you unto his
eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a
little while, shall himself perfect, establish,
strengthen you" (1 Peter 5:10, ASV).
She was ninety years old and feeble,
shut up in a nursing home. Angry and bitter, she had few
friends there. Yes, family and church members came to
see her, but she didn't enjoy their visits. Although she
had served God faithfully, He had forsaken her. At least
she thought He had forsaken her, but in her anger and
disappointment, she had forsaken Him. She had gone
blind, and to her, it was all God's fault.
No, she couldn't see. She couldn't
look back and see all the times God had blessed her. He
had given her a Christian husband, children, and the
needed material things for her life.
She didn't remember that God had
blessed her with all spiritual blessings. Through Jesus
she had forgiveness of sins, and therefore, could be
free from guilt. She could claim the righteousness of
Jesus for her own and stand before God. She had God's
care and comfort during her life. If only she could look
back and remember all these things.
But most sadly, she couldn't look
forward with hope to sharing in Christ's glory with God.
Surely it would be only a few short years before she
would have a new body free from pain. Her new eyes would
behold the things that God had prepared for her. Since
she had forsaken God, she would never know the glories
and wonders of God in heaven, things so wonderful that
no one can even imagine them.
Can you see the blessings of God in
your life? Can you see His wonderful promises through
faith? May you never lose that hope.
- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of
BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a
writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal:
Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes,
and World Eternal: Perils, and her newest book,
Finding Her Heart, are available on Amazon,
Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more
information visit her website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/
By Bill Brandstatter
In a Bible study a few years ago, a
lady made a startling revelation to me. She mentioned
the name of the group she was associated with; then she
said, “We don’t study the Bible.” She then admitted they
needed to study it more. When another lady in the class
asked her if she had a Bible, again it was affirmed that
she didn’t study the Bible. The first lady did stay for
our class and did study with us. She was right in saying
her group needed to study the Bible more.
The Bible is God speaking to us. Paul
indicated, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of
God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Peter acknowledged that “Holy men of
God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2
Pet. 1:21) God speaks from His Word. God speaks to us by
His Son. (Heb. 1:2) Are you listening?
The Bible is a lamp and a light. (Ps.
119:105) The Bible can help us to better understand life
and its difficulties. It can also provide us with all
that we need to face temptation and all that this world
throws at us. Paul advises that we “put on the whole
armor of God.” (Eph. 6:11) Without the Bible in our
lives, Satan cannot be resisted effectively.
The Bible is man’s source for the
future. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I
have a future and I know it is in God’s hands. After
death, every person has a future. The Bible says, “It is
appointed for men to die once, but after this the
judgment.” (Heb. 9:27 NKJV) That future involves
eternity. Jesus said the future is either everlasting
punishment or eternal life. (Matt. 25:46) Where I spend
eternity depends on what I do now. The words of Jesus
and our obedience to them will be the determining factor
in judgment. (Jno.12:48; Heb. 5:8, 9)
The Bible is our source for the right
equipment in life. Paul wrote that through the
Scriptures, “the man of God may be “complete, thoroughly
equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17 NKJV) Man
cannot provide the equipment that the Bible does. How
equipped are we to handle tragedy in our lives?
Remember, Paul stated, “Faith comes by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). Without the
Bible I would not have the faith I need to get through
this life or get to eternity.
Do you need to study the Bible more?
Think about what the lady said at a recent Bible study.
God will bless us and heaven can be our home if we
“receive with meekness the implanted word which is able
to save your souls.” (James 1:21)
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of
Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
By Adam Faughn
There are some stories in history
that just make you shake your head at the amazing level
of coincidence that happens. For example, Abraham
Lincoln’s son, Robert Lincoln, was present, as you might
expect, when his father died from the wounds he
sustained by an assassin's bullet. However, it is merely
coincidence that Robert Lincoln was also in the larger
crowd when President James Garfield was shot several
years later. Garfield would die from the wounds about
two months later.
Even more amazing is that Robert
Lincoln was also on his way to meet President William
McKinley when he was assassinated in 1901. Lincoln was
actually in the same town and on his way to meet the
president when the assassination occurred.
We are often amazed at these times of
coincidence, and they are amazing. We must ask, though,
is everything that happens in our life merely
coincidence? Are we just living and having events happen
in our lives solely by mere chance?
For the Christian, we understand that
some things in life “just happen.” On the other hand, we
also know that God is still working in this world
through providence. Providence is the manner in which
God works through the natural forces of this world in
order to bring about His will. It is often silent in the
moment, but, when we look back on something, we often
see God’s providential hand all over certain events that
“just happened” to work out.
Paul, when he wrote to Philemon,
tried to explain why the slave Onesimus ran away and
ended up where Paul was in Rome. In Philemon 15, the
apostle wrote, “For this perhaps is why he was parted
from you for a while, that you might have him back
forever” (emphasis added). Whether God worked this out
through providence or whether it was mere coincidence
was not specifically revealed to Paul, even by
inspiration, but Paul seemed to indicate that he
believed it was more than happenstance.
When we realize that “for those who
love God all things work together for good” (Romans
8:28), and that God does not work via miracles any
longer (see 1 Corinthians 12-14), do we take the time to
thank and praise Him for those “perhaps” moments in our
lives? They will be times of good and comfort, of joy
and healing, of amazement and peace, though we may not
realize His hand at work in those things until after the
fact. Still, for each of them, may we give Him the
- 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
By A. C. Quinn
Among the games children play,
especially when they are desperately attempting to
escape the retribution of parents or others in
authority, is the blame game. The object of this game is
for the child to somehow place the responsibility for
his unacceptable words or deeds on someone else, freeing
himself from whatever the consequences may be. “He did
it,” or “She did it” are the oft heard refrains.
Tragically, it is not just children
who play the blame game. Many adults play it. It is so
sad but true, too many members of the church play the
same childish game in a feeble attempt to dodge their
duties and obligations to the Lord’s church where they
Some church members who do not attend
services regularly blame their spasmodic attendance on
hypocrites. They cannot bear sitting beside a hypocrite
in the house of worship, and truly, the church does have
its hypocrites. One has to wonder, however, about the
sincerity of this rational, and when he does, he will
ask some serious questions: “Are there no hypocrites in
the restaurants and other retail businesses folks
frequently patronize?” “Do hypocrites not attend
sporting events--baseball, football, soccer, etc?”
It would appear that one so repulsed by hypocrites in
the church would be equally repulsed by them at other
events, but that appears not to be the case at all.
Christians should be disgusted with
hypocrites, but they should not allow them to become the
stumbling block which hinders them from doing their
duty. In fact, all should realize that hell will have a
sizeable population of hypocrites, and there will not be
any special seating arrangements for the self-righteous
who want to avoid them.
- A. C. Quinn preaches for the West Main Church of
Christ in Wolfe City, Texas. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Alan Smith
An instructor was sitting in his
office one afternoon when an attractive, very attractive
lady knocked on his door.
"Yes?", he replied, "how may I help
The lady said "I need to talk to you
about my grade in your class."
"Come in and have a seat," said the
"Is there anything I can do to get an
'A' in your class?"
"What do you mean by anything?" he
"Anything," she said.
"Anything?" he asked again.
She said, in her best sultry voice,
"I mean anything."
The instructor got up from behind his
desk, sat down beside her and whispered in her ear,
"Would you study?"
There are many goals that we want to
achieve -- better grades, lower weight, a place on an
athletic team, success in business, greater Bible
knowledge, a closer relationship with God. The question
is, "Are we willing the put forth the necessary effort
to achieve our goals? Are we truly willing to do
I heard once about a Christian who
approached a great man of God (I believe it was Gus
Nichols) and said, "I'd give my life to know the Bible
as well as you do." His reply was, "That's what it
took." We want the end result, but we often don't want
to put forth the effort to achieve that result.
Paul exhorted the young man Timothy
with these words: "Be diligent to present yourself
approved to God, a worker who does not need to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy
The word "diligence" suggests a great
deal of effort and dedication on our part. May God grant
you the strength to accomplish your goals as you supply
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, minister for the Cruciform Church of
Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted
or through the congregation's website: http://www.cruciformcoc.com/
By Travis Robertson
“And the Lord added to the church daily such as
should be saved” Acts 2:47 KJV.
What is the church? What is your
concept of the church?
Notice that our verse says that the
Lord added the saved people to the church. Many people
do not appreciate the church. Others have the wrong idea
about the church. See if the statements below match your
understanding of the church. I do not know who wrote the
information, but it has a good description of the
church. I added the scripture references.
Think about the church this week and study the
scriptures concerning the church. Consider what you can
do to encourage and build up the church of the living
church is not made up of people who believe they are
better than others, but rather it is made up of
those who realize they should be better than they
are, and must continually strive to do better. 1
church is not made up of perfect people, but people
who realize they are following a perfect Lord and a
perfect law and therefore must do the very best they
can to follow it. Romans 3:23, 24
church is not made up of people who never make
mistakes, but those who often acknowledge their
mistakes and then forsake them. Never must we seek
to justify the same mistakes that we make over and
over again. Romans 7:14 – 8:1; Romans 6:1-7
church is not trying to withdraw from everyone, but
rather to draw everyone into its fellowship and love
so that all can walk in the light were God the
Father and the Christ are found. 1 John 1:5-10.
- Travis Robertson preachers for the Lake Norman Church
of Christ in Huntersville, NC. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website at http://lakenormancoc.org/
By Rob Albright
Hebrews 6:4-8 teaches that it is
possible to fall away from God’s favor (Gal. 5:4). It is
possible to become unfaithful to God and His right ways.
The Hebrew writer warns us that we can be led astray.
Those earlier Christians were led away from Jesus and
back to the old law. Some had already fallen and placed
themselves beyond redemption because they would not
repent and turn back to Jesus.
The fact is….
.…they were enlightened
though God provides a way back for penitent people (Gal.
6:1; 1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22), many remain in a lost
condition because they refuse to comply with God’s plan.
.…they tasted the heavenly gift
.…they were partakers of the Holy Spirit
.….they tasted the good word of God
.....and still turned their back on Jesus.
Yes, we have to be on guard. We
cannot assume that we are so strong and Satan cannot
overcome us. Just because we have obeyed the gospel and
have salvation from past sins, doesn’t mean we cannot
fall away from the Lord. We must not only obey the
gospel, but also live faithfully (Rev. 2:10).
- Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the
Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be
contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/
By David R. Ferguson
Of all the accounts of the life and
ministry of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of John arguably
provides the most evidence of His Divine nature, and
probably none more so than the seven “I AM” statements
Jesus makes about Himself. Each of these seven
declarations gives insight into the Godly character of
Jesus as the Son of God. Each of these statements
declare for anyone with ears to hear and with eyes to
see that Jesus was... no mere Prophet of God, He was
literally what His prophesied title of Immanuel meant:
He was “God with Us” (Matthew 1:23).
the most compelling statement of His Divinity came when
Jesus forthrightly declared in John 8:58 [RSV], “Truly,
truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Anyone
could make such a claim, but only Jesus could back it
up. The miracles He performed culminating in His
resurrection proved He was, indeed, Divine. Jesus was
and is the Living God Who took on human flesh!
AM the Bread of life” (John 6:35 [RSV]). Jesus was
the Manna from God, but He also is the Living Word
that sustains mankind (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 1:1).
AM the Light of the world” (John 8:12 [RSV]). “God
is Light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John
1:5 [RSV]). Can it be any clearer Who Jesus is?
AM the Door” (John 10:9 [RSV]). Jesus is the passage
to the Father that all must pass through for
salvation from their sins.
AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11 [RSV]). “The Lord
is my Shepherd” wrote David in Psalm 23:1. Jesus is
AM the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25
[RSV]). Only those in Christ will be resurrected to
eternal life, something only God can bestow.
AM the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6
[RSV]). Jesus, and only Jesus, is the pathway to the
eternal truth of God and life in Him.
AM the True Vine” (John 15:1 [RSV]). Any other vine
is false and will lead to utter and eternal
destruction from God’s Presence.
May the Living God bless you and your
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of
Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted through
the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/