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Monday, October 26, 2020

Books You Can't Read

By David Bragg
    You could, if so inclined, go to your local library and read various books about George Gordon, better known as Lord Byron. What you can't read, however, is his autobiography. Byron, a noted poet who lived a flamboyant, controversial life, left his memoir with a friend. But upon learning of Byron's death his friend, hoping to spare his Byron's reputation from the scandal that would inevitably result, burned the manuscript.
    While at the library you could check out several  of William Shakespeare’s plays. But you can't read “Love’s Labour’s Won” or “Cardenio.” Although they are found in early lists of the noted writer's plays they are nevertheless lost to history.
    If you are really motivated you could read Homer's “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” but you can't read his third installment, the “Margites.” It has not survived.
    You can read Earnest Hemingway's “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Islands in the Stream,” but not some of his earlier stories because they were packed inside his wife's suitcase which was stolen in a busy train station (Nate Barksdale, history.com).
    But you can read the Bible. God has preserved it through the centuries. By reading and obeying, you can live a life that is pleasing in His sight and share your hope with others as you make your way through history. You can read it, but do you?
- 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/


Reaching Beyond Ourselves

By Edd Sterchi

    Reach: verb 1) stretch out an arm in order to touch or grasp something 2) be able to touch (something) with an outstretched arm or leg 3) arrive at or attain; extend to 4) make contact with 5) succeed in influencing or having an effect on (from the Oxford English Dictionary)
    In the Lord’s church, we are to be very concerned about reaching beyond ourselves. It is the Lord’s will that we do so. It is the work of the church.  It should be a labor of love for us. Notice that we are to...
...“reach down” in benevolence to help the less fortunate. As a church, we need to be compassionately doing good to all (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 13:16). As an extension of Christ upon the earth, we need to help others in His name.
...“reach up” in worship of God. As a church, we need to properly and sincerely glorify God in our praise of Him (John 4:24; Phil. 3:3). When we gather together as His people, we should sing and pray with heartfelt expressions of joy and thanksgiving.
...“reach in” in edification of one another. As a church, we realize that we are the family of God and it is important that we lovingly encourage one other (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:11). When we strengthen our bond  with each other, we strengthen the church.
...“reach out” in evangelizing the lost. As a church, we are to always proclaim the saving message of the gospel of Christ to one and all (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 4:2). The church that belongs to Christ should always be promoting Christ.
    Indeed, let us as a church always be reaching beyond ourselves by reaching in every direction: up, down, in, out, and all around. Let us be concerned about honoring God and doing His will with every extension we make. Let us be busy and active – reaching, reaching, reaching. And let us, like Paul, always be “...reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil. 3:13).     
- 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/


Good, But Not Good Enough!

By Joe Chesser
 
     According to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, 72% of Americans say they believe in heaven – defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.” In an earlier poll conducted by Barna Research Group (2003), nearly two-thirds of Americans said that they believe they will go to heaven, and less than 1% said they will end up in hell, because hell is a denial of goodness. If this truly reflects what people in America are thinking, most people will go to heaven because most people lead good lives.
    Of course, this naturally raises the questions of how one defines what is good, and then, how much good is needed to go to heaven. If Americans were polled, no clear conclusions could be drawn. Everybody is good in their own way. Most have a standard of goodness by which they measure themselves … and others. Things such as working hard, helping the homeless, giving to charities, going to church, loving your family, paying taxes, etc. But, how much good is needed to get you into heaven? The answer Jesus gives will shock most Americans.
    On one occasion a man approached Jesus with this very question: “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt. 19.16). I don’t know the man’s heart, but it seems like he felt pretty good about himself when he asked that question. He had kept the law’s commands all his life. That was good, but not good enough. Jesus told him sell his possessions, give them away, and then follow him (Matt. 19.21). That made him sad, but eternal life wasn’t worth that much to him, so he went away.
    By the standards most Americans use today, Cornelius was a very good man who would definitely deserve heaven.  He was in the military; he and his family were  devoted, God-fearing believers; he gave generously to those in need; and he prayed to God regularly (Acts 10.1-2). These were unusually good qualities, especially for Roman soldiers. However, by God’s standards, even Cornelius with all his goodness was not good enough to be saved. So, God spoke to him in a vision to send for Peter who would “bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11.14).
    Before Paul became a Christian, he was confident in his own religious goodness (Phil. 3.4-6). He was a “Hebrew of Hebrews … a Pharisee … faultless.” But by God’s grace he learned that even he would never be good enough on his own to go to heaven (1 Tim. 1.14). What he learned was that all that he had previously considered good was really garbage compared with faith in Christ (Phil. 3.8).
    Regardless of what Americans believe, or anyone else for that matter, no one is good enough based on their own merits to go to heaven. To be saved, we must be in Jesus and follow him (John 14.6; Luke 9.23). There is no other way. In Christ we are covered with his saving blood (1 John 1.7). Then, and only then, does God see us as good (Eph. 5.25-27).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


The Mind of Christ

By David R. Ferguson
 
     Stephen Hawking, a great physicist, died yesterday on the anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein, another great physicist from the past century. I have always admired those individuals who demonstrate great intellect. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to understand the complexities of the cosmos, from the tiniest quark, to the furthest and remotest quasar, in the same manner as Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking? Or would you not have liked to witness in person Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as they debated the role the Federal government should have in the lives of the People? Or how intriguing would it have been to sit at the feet of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, giving ear to the philosophical discussions taking place in ancient Athens! As interesting as all these men seem to be, there is One Whose wisdom and intellect puts all others to shame, and that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
    Regardless of the circumstances He faced, whether it was from one of the groups seeking to trip Him up such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees, or even when He was being confronted and tempted by the Great Adversary, Satan himself, Jesus was always able to face them all by leaning upon the word of God and saying, "It is written."
    We, too, can gain in wisdom as Christians by following the precepts of Christ, even to the point of having the mind of Christ: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16) We have the mind of Christ by engaging in a study of His word. Not only will we have the mind of Christ, we will have eternal life: "Truly, truly, I say unto you, if a man keep My word, he shall never see death" (John 8:51). Paul also wrote to Timothy, saying, "Give diligence to present yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
    By spending time in the word of God, and focusing on His Son and "…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things," (Philippians 4:8), we will be able to then "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God" (Colossians 3:16).
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


Renewal

By Lance Cordle

     Can you hear it? It is the sound of birds chirping. Can you see it? The daylight last longer. Can you feel it? The days are warmer. After an unusual year, where the temperatures have been slow to rise and we have experienced snow and sleet in April, spring has finally arrived!
     Spring is God’s season of renewal. The flowers bloom and the grass becomes green. The earth and the animals seem to come back to life! Many people enjoy springtime greatly because of the feelings  of rejuvenation and  encouragement that comes from seeing and   experiencing the renewal of nature.
     God also knows the value of the renewal of a person. The new birth is necessary because God wants men and women who are new in purpose and spiritual life (John 3:3, 5). Just as people rejoice over the birth of a baby and watch with anticipation as they grow, angels and God rejoice at the birth of a Christian (Luke 15:7, 32).
     The life of a Christ-follower is a new life! The person who comes forth from the “grave” of baptism has a new life to live (Romans 6:4). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). The possibilities are fresh and ready to be pursued!
     God’s emphasis on renewal is even clearer when one considers Paul’s challenge in Romans 12:2a: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” As is the case of  springtime, spiritual surroundings bring about a renewal of thinking. In springtime, people put on lighter and brighter clothing, walk in the sunshine and consume foods that are associated with warmer and brighter. Renewal  in our minds transforms us into people who are godly and holy. We should not shrink away from those two description anymore than we would avoid the labels of spring-time person or summer-time person.
     Everybody needs renewal. The need for renewal is what God has put behind our longing for rest and sleep at night. Just as sleep brings forth reinvigoration and rejuvenation, spiritual renewal transforms us. Take some time to renew your mind: 1) Read and delight in God’s word ( Psalm 1:1-3); 2) Fix your focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3); continue to walk in the light (1 John 1 :7). God will bless you and you will be renewed and refreshed. 
- 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


Beyond Disappointing

By Ron Thomas

   In Hosea the Lord said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (4:6). In Romans, Paul said faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the words of Christ (10:17). In 2 Peter, Peter said the saints are to grow in knowledge, that is, knowledge of God’s word. In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote one does not walk by sight, but by faith (by God’s word). In each of these passages we learn those who love the Lord are people/saints who know the Lord’s will. They don’t find reasons to not read, but instead make opportunities to read and learn. 
   No doubt, it is beyond disappointing for the Lord to see those who say they belong to Him fail in desiring to gain understanding of His will. Why would anyone operate in this way? 
1) they don’t like to read, 
2) so many activity involvements, 
3) not really redeemed, but Christian in name only. 
It’s not their lack of knowledge, but their lack of effort and even desire to gain knowledge. 
   When these people are put in stressful situations, they fail the Lord and themselves because they took no time to hear the Lord by reading His word, thus learning what can be and needs to be done. Will the Lord hear them when they call out? “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:28-29, KJV). 
   There is a correlation between this failure to learn and the exhortations from the Lord when He said many are called, but few are chosen AND why call me Lord when you do not hear me (Luke 6:46). 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Who Will Be Saved?

By Rob Albright

    There is a false doctrine being taught that says all mankind will be saved eternally. This is a doctrine that is not taught in the Bible.
    There is no doubt that God wants everyone to be saved. He does not want anyone to be lost eternally but notice God does desire everyone to make a change.  He is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
    God wants us to choose Him and His way of salvation, but we are told many will not make that choice (Matthew 7:13-14). So, the truth is many will be lost and few will be saved. Why?
*Because God is not respected and His Word not followed. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
*Because false doctrine has been believed. Acts 17:11
*Because many are not willing to make salvation a priority. Matthew 6:33
     The idea that everyone will be saved gives a false sense of security in anything we want to believe. The good news is that we do have a choice. May the choice be to trust in God and His Word and follow His way to the best of our ability.
- 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/


Imitation vs. Transformation

By Joe Chesser
 
     You may not have read it, but I know you have heard of it. The book In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? has sold over 50,000,000 copies It’s one of the best-selling books of all time. More recently the concept of WWJD was popularized with wristbands, t-shirts and jewelry. It’s an awesome concept. In all situations, ask yourself “what would Jesus do?” and act on it. After all, we all want to imitate Jesus in everything we do … right? Well, yes and no.
     An article written by John Coe challenged me to think more deeply about this (the article: Resisting the Temptation of Moral Formation). While imitating Jesus is quite good, there can also be something about it that can be quite wrong. You see, character imitation that does not come from a transformed heart is not fully what Jesus came to produce in his disciples. Behavioral modification because that’s what Jesus did is only “me” choosing externally to be conformed to his actions. So, in every situation that arises I would need to stop and think, “What would Jesus do?” Then “I” would have to determine what Jesus would do in that situation, and then decide if “I” would act like him.
     There is something better.  It’s called transformation (Romans 12.2). So, what’s the difference between the two? Imitation makes decisions with the head. For example, I know Jesus was compassionate, so my head tells me I need to be compassionate. One flaw is that I can’t do everything Jesus did. Another is that I can act with compassion without being compassionate at all. Imitation does not require my heart to be in it. In fact, my heart may even oppose the action my head says is the right thing to do. Perhaps that’s one reason why there is sometimes conflict within us: my heart’s not in the things I know I should be doing.
     But when my heart is transformed, things are different. I don’t want to just act like Jesus, I want to be like Jesus. I want my transformed heart to guide my head to act like him. I not only want to be compassionate like he was, I also want to be compassionate why he was. I want to love people so much that whenever I see a need for compassion, I won’t have to ask, “What would Jesus do?”, I’ll just do it … like the Good Samaritan Jesus told us about (Luke 10). That’s not to say that the head is not engaged. It is. It is a necessary part of being like Jesus. In fact, a renewed mind is a necessary step in a transformed heart (Romans 12.2). But now my head and my heart are acting in unity. There’ll be no internal conflict when my transformed heart guides my head into acting like Jesus.
     So now, when I ask WWJD, it will be because I have Jesus in my heart and want to be like him in every way possible. It will not be a burden to act like him or to keep his commandments because our hearts are filled with his love (John 14.15; 1 John 5.3).  Turmoil and guilt are replaced with joy and peace. The need for perfection is eliminated when our transformed hearts are walking in the light with Jesus (1 John 1.7).
     Imitation or transformation? Which have you been choosing?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com           


Praying God’s Promises

By Jeff Arnette

     You are in a battle! You may not see it and you might forget that it is there. But your enemy would love nothing more than forcing you to start off this new year filled with discouragement and defeat. Do not let him win! If you are a Christian, you are in this battle and your enemy will throw obstacles and attacks your way. This is precisely why Peter said that our enemy was a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He always looking for a way to attack you; looking to devour and destroy you.
     God tells us to be aware of his schemes (2 Cor. 5:11), to live each day with our eyes open (1 Cor. 16:13), and to stay close to Him (James 4:8). He arms us with his armor (Eph. 6:11-20) and gives us a sword and a shield to protect ourselves. He gives us strength, wisdom, and discernment through His Spirit (Eph. 1:15-23) and invites each of us to use this power as we face life’s battles.
     With that in mind, I want to share with you a strategy for gaining more strength in this battle. This is a powerful tool that has been beneficial to me personally and one I think could help you tremendously. It is what I call, “Praying God’s promises back to Him.” It is simply reading a promise of God and then praying for God to make that real in your life. For example, James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Thus, you could pray, “Lord, I want to be closer to you and I know you have promised to draw near to me. Help me Lord to get closer to you today.”
     The reason this is so powerful is that God has promised that when His word goes out, it will do exactly what He promised (Isa. 55:11). Our God knows us, knows our struggles, and understands what we face daily. When we pray His promises it builds our faith, builds our trust in Him, and guards our hearts and minds as we focus on Him.

    Prayer + God’s promises = Real power for victory in the battles.

To get you started with some passages to memorize and pray through, I want to give a list of some passages that have been important to me.

James 4:7-8; 1 John 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Isa. 54:17; Eph. 6:11-20; Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 15:57; Zech. 4:6; 2 Thess. 3:3; John 10:10; Deut. 28:7; 1 Cor. 10:13; John 8:32; Rom. 12:21; Rev. 12:11; 1 Tim. 6:12; Isa. 40:31; Josh. 23:10; Deut. 3:22; Josh. 1:8-9; 2 Chron. 20:15; Psalm 91:1-4; 23:1-6.

Take the time to read one and pray through each of these passages. Add as many passages as you want or need. Remember that you belong to Jesus Christ, the enemy has no power over you, and you are secure in the Master’s hands (John 10:27). Now, go out and face life’s battles with everything you need to be victorious.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/ 


The Other Side

By David A. Sargent

     Cecil May, Jr. recently wrote about a conversation that his son, Cecil III, had with his mother when he was a child:
“Cecil 3, now a preacher with his own grandchildren, when he was still pre-school, before seatbelts and car seats, he was lying in the back of the car, looking up through the back windshield at the sky, blue with cumulus clouds.  He asked his mom who was driving, ‘When I die, will I go to heaven?’
     She answered, ‘Well, Cecil, I certainly expect you to.’
     Cecil said, ‘The underside of heaven is so pretty; the other side, where God is, must be really beautiful.  I think I will lie down in the street in the front of our house so I can get run over and go to heaven!’
     His mother watched him especially closely for several weeks after that conversation.”
*
     Unbelievers scoff at the doctrine of heaven saying it is a vain hope for some “pie in the sky.”  Dictionary.com says that the idiomatic phrase, “pie in the sky,” refers to “an empty wish or promise, as in His dream of being hired as a sports editor proved to be pie in the sky.  This expression was first recorded in 1911 in a rallying song of a union, the International Workers of the World (or “Wobblies”): ‘Work and pray, live on hay, you'll get pie in the sky when you die.’”
     But believers do not view heaven as some wishful “pie in the sky” but as something to actually look forward to “in the sweet by and by” (in the words of the hymn by Sanford Fillmore Bennett).
     Upon what basis is the hope for heaven founded?  God promised it.  There are many evidences that the Word of God, the Bible, is divine in origin.  Considering those evidences, many have come to accept that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Believers conclude: the Bible is from God and it can be trusted.  God can be trusted.
     God’s Son said to His troubled disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
     God promised heaven to those who will accept His offer of salvation and eternal life.  And our hearts yearn for heaven.  We look at the trials of this life and say, “There must be something better than this.”  God says, “There is.  It is a place where I will wipe away every tear from your eyes.  There shall be no death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4).  That, my friends, gives us hope for tomorrow and strength for today.
     God gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that, one day, we can go to heaven (John 3:16).
     God will save from sin and give eternal life in heaven 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 make ready for heaven those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
     No, don’t lie in the middle of the street so you can get run over to try to get there more quickly.  But do consider “how beautiful heaven must be” and the price that God paid to make it possible for us.  Live your life in view of heaven, by trusting and obeying Jesus.
     God says there is something for which to look forward.  I believe God.  Won’t you?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* from “Beautiful Heaven” by Cecil May, Jr. in Preacher Talk (Vol. 36, No. 1; Winter, 2020), a publication produced by Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Who is the Christ?

By Clifton Angel

     The  Greek  word  Christos  from  which  we  get  our word  Christ,  was  originally  a  verbal  adjective.  It signified that someone had been anointed with oil for promotion to a certain position. The high priest was anointed with oil. Kings of Israel were anointed with  oil.  Yet,  once  it  was  applied  to  Jesus  the Messiah, it was used as a proper name or title. We can  read how that following Andrew's  meeting  of Jesus, his immediate response was: "He first findeth  his  own  brother  Simon,  and  saith  unto  him,  We  have found  the  Messiah,  which  is,  being  interpreted,  the  Christ"  (John 1:41). Jesus is God's Anointed that Israel sought for deliverance. Let us  consider  some  things  we  can  learn  about Jesus  because  He  is the Christ.

He is Sovereign
     The  Messiah  of  Israel  was  not  to  be  just  another  anointed  priest, prophet,  or  king.  He  was  to  be  the  Supreme  Ruler  that  could provide deliverance like no other. Jesus being the Christ indicates His Supreme Kingship, Priesthood, and that He is    the Prophet. He superior because He is God in the flesh. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth  …  For  the  law was  given  by  Moses, but  grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:1, 14, 17).

He is Separate
     The  name  Jesus  was  a  rather  common  name.  It  was  Yeshuah,  or Joshua,  in  the  Hebrew.  And  the  Joshua  most  common  to  us  was commissioned with delivering Israel out of the wilderness and into the promised land. In this, he is a picture of Jesus Christ; however, he  is  not  the  Christ.  Neither  was  any  other  person  who  bore  the name  Joshua  or  Jesus.  So,  THIS  Jesus  was  separated  from  other men named Jesus by his title, "Christ."

He is the Savior
     The  name  "Jesus"  actually means  "Savior."  We've  just noted  that  it  was  a  common name.  Therefore,  any  person with the name Jesus had that meaning. However, there was only  one  Jesus  who  would  "save  his  people  from  their sins" (Matthew 1:21) — Christ Jesus. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).  
     Thanks be to God for sending the Christ, our Sovereign God who was Separated so that we might have a Savior. Have you submitted your  life  to  the  SOVEREIGN  Christ  Jesus?  Have  you  SEPARATED yourself from the world by following Christ Jesus? Have you been SAVED from your sins by the blood of Christ Jesus?
 Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/


God's Embrace and Mine

By Gerald Cowan

I wish the world could be a friendly sort of place
Where smiles instead of frowns would sit upon each face
And every heart would feel the warmth of God’s embrace.

I wish that all could share the faith of God’s dear Son,
Redeemed and joined together perfectly in one
Great body by His cross, to share in what He’s done.

His bloody cross has made us able to be free
From failure, guilt, and shame for what we’ve come to be.
We now can walk with him, and heav’n we yet may see. 

But wishing that the world could share the Savior’s grace
Will not enable one to see the Father’s face,
Nor will it help one soul to find his proper place.

No one saves another’s soul. Each one must save his own.
By walking true within the path the Lord has shown
We show the way to others. No one walks alone.

The Lord is always with us. With his perfect love
He binds us all. Each will continue drinking of
God’s Holy Spirit ‘til we’re safe in heav’n above.
                   
I want to make the world a friendly sort of place,
And so I’ll try to keep a smile upon my face
And hope that others feel God’s love in my embrace.
- 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


Giving to Thee

By Edd Sterchi

As I progress through my life,
more clearly do I see,
it is not what I gather, Lord,
but what I give to Thee.

I give to Thee by pouring out,
my body, heart, and soul,
in glory and devotion,
trusting Thee to make me whole.

I give to Thee by kindly helping,
all others, great and small,
humbly loving, serving, forgiving,
not with part, but with all.

I give to Thee by giving free,
not expecting in return,
knowing my reward will come
at the end of my sojourn.

As I progress through my life,
more clearly do I see,
the more I give to You, Dear Lord,
the more You give to me.
- 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/


Guilty, But Forgiven

By David A. Sargent

     On the morning of December 2, 2011, Gerrard Machin left his home in Bournemouth, England, to take a walk to purchase the morning newspaper.  His wife, Patricia, grew concerned when he was gone for an extended period of time and went to look for him.  As she traced the steps that her husband would have taken, she saw a young man standing with a policeman next to an ambulance.  She thought, “Oh my goodness maybe Gerrard has witnessed an accident.”  But then she saw Gerrard’s familiar blue bag containing his newspapers leaning against a wall.  She knew it was her husband that needed the ambulance.
     The young man that stood with the policeman, Brian Williamson, was extremely troubled.  He was driving his car around a corner when he accidentally struck Gerrard who was crossing the street.  Informed of what had happened and still in terrible shock, Patricia stood with Williamson, trying to comfort him in her arms, as the ambulance took her husband to the hospital.
     Nine weeks later, Gerrard Machin died due to the injuries sustained in the accident.
     Williamson was tried in Bournemouth Crown Court.  He was found guilty of causing the death of Gerrard by careless driving.  Speaking after the guilty verdict, Williamson said that not a day went by when he did not think about the crash, adding: “My heart and thoughts go out to Mr. Machin's family.”  He added that as difficult as it had been for him, it had to be “10 times worse for [Machin’s] family.”  Following the hearing, Williamson sobbed in sorrow.
     Before Williamson’s sentencing, he was given a letter that Patricia Machin had written to him.  It was a letter of forgiveness.  Patricia wrote:

“Dear Brian.  Today is a very important day and I will be in court to support you.  On the day of the accident, however bad it was for me, I realize it was 1,000 times worse for you.  Neither Gerrard, if he was here, nor I feel any sense of condemnation towards you.  Will you make me a promise; that you will get on with your young life, knowing that you will always be supported by my prayers?”

Patricia told the Daily Echo in 2013, “I don't feel any ill thoughts or grudges towards Brian, not for a single moment, and I know Gerrard wouldn't either.  It was the worst day of my life and, no doubt, the worst day of Brian's life as well.  I've only ever felt sorry for him because who hasn't made a mistake when driving?  I've had to get on with my life and I hope he can now do the same.”
     Before sentencing Williamson to a three-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, Judge Wiggs told him: “I read the extremely moving letter from Mrs. Machin.  You are very fortunate to have been forgiven.  There is no doubt that what happened on that day was a tragedy for everyone, including you.  Nevertheless you were responsible.” *
     Yet Brian Williamson will always know that the wife of the man that he accidentally killed has forgiven him.
     You and I are responsible for the death of the Son of God.  It was for our sins, not His own, that Jesus died on the cross.  Yet He died on the cross so that we can be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life.  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
     God will forgive 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 those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
     It’s not “good fortune” to know that we can be forgiven by God.  It’s called “GRACE.”  You can receive it, if you’ll only accept it through your trusting obedience.
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* Information gleaned from “It was 1,000 times worse for you: widow's astonishing words to driver who killed her husband” in the Daily Echo (18 February 2013) of Bournemouth, England, www.bournemouthecho.co.uk.


What is Heaven Like?

By Bill Brandstatter
 
     Because of the Corona virus, my granddaughter ended up spending a few days with my wife and me.  She and I discussed the subject of heaven. She had an interesting take on what she thought heaven would be like. She thought that there were going to be dogs there. I explained to her the difference between dogs and humans is dogs don’t have souls like humans. She then said there might be pretty gum drops there. I told her to think of the most beautiful thing she could think of and heaven would be even more beautiful than that. She had some interesting ideas. She asked about celebrating birthdays in heaven. She wanted to know if it would be daytime. From the mouths of youngsters come all sorts of interesting ideas and thoughts.
     The Bible depicts heaven in words for man to read. Yet even the words on the sacred pages only begin to tell us about the beauty of the home of the soul. My favorite description is in Revelation chapter 21. There in verse 4 we read, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” We all want to go to a place of “no more.” How beautiful heaven will be!!!!
     The Bible depicts heaven as occupied by church people. In Heb. 12:22,23, the writer notes: innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (NKJV) Then in Rev. 21:2, John writes, “Then, I, John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” If anyone would think of the church as not important, these verses should be considered. Because of the church, how beautiful heaven must be!
     The Bible depicts heaven as a real place. The writer of Hebrews describes heaven in very real terms. In Heb. 11:10, we read of Abraham waiting for a “city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God.” In Heb. 11:16, it is described as a “heavenly country.” In Heb. 11:14, it is referred to as a “homeland.” How beautiful heaven must be!
     The Bible depicts heaven as a place for prepared people. Jesus told his apostles, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.” (Jn.14:1, 2) Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. How beautiful heaven must be!
     The Bible depicts heaven and its occupants. Our Father is in heaven (Mt. 5:16).  Jesus is in heaven (Acts 1:11). The Holy Spirit is there (1 Pet. 1:12). Angels are there (Matt. 18:10). God’s children will be there (Phil. 3:20). How beautiful heaven must be!
    What is your view of heaven? Think of something beautiful and then know that heaven is even more beautiful. Let us set our minds on heaven (Col. 3:1, 2). The occupants of heaven make it beautiful. The place makes it beautiful. The preparation makes it beautiful. The church makes it beautiful.  Are you prepared to go there?  How beautiful heaven must be!
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Monday, October 12, 2020

Walking Bibles

By Ron Thomas

     For all your life you have studied the Scriptures. You can recall in an instant for someone who asks where something is located if there is a need to know. You have not only read the Scriptures faithfully, the entirety of the Bible at least once annually, but you have done much detailed exegetical work on many passages of Scripture. If anyone thinks of you, they think of a “walking Bible.” In some strange way, there is something in that descriptive term that is ego-building  though, perhaps, in your modesty you deflect such sentiments. Jesus faced this when He faced those religious leaders in the community who were considered “walking Bibles.” Yet, Jesus took note of how little they truly knew. “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Matt. 22.29) He indicted those professional religious leaders with being unlearned, at least in part!
    “You do not know the Scriptures” is a mighty powerful indictment against people who would be considered “walking Bibles.” Notice, also, Jesus said they did not know the power of God. I learned a good-while back and was reminded of this by David Pharr while in preaching school, the words of Paul:
 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
     To have someone call you a “walking Bible” might make you feel very good, but one needs also to remember, when speaking of people, a walking Bible has many empty pages. Even the smartest of those called “walking Bibles” will tell you how inadequate and empty they are or feel on not a few, but many occasions. Try as one might to understand and apply, there are many times when weakness or neglect soon follows. It is very important to have knowledge of God’s way, but that knowledge will do nothing on judgment day to help if the knowledge attained is not put into application.
     There are some who have the academic knowledge of God, but these same ones do what they can to restrict God’s work only to that which He said in the pages of the New Testament. I refuse to do that. With confidence, I can say what I understand the New Testament to teach, even defend it against those who speak in a contrary way. To restrict the Lord, however, only to that which He said about Himself is to restrict Him too much. This I will not do. Why? Paul said it well.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Assumptions: Some Do’s and Don’ts

By Lance Cordle

    You can safely assume:
• That God loves you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
• That the price of your sins was paid by Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).
• That your past sins were washed away—forgiven—at your baptism (Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
• That you can be faithful to God (Revelation 2:10).
• That, during your faithful walk with God, your sins are being cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).
• That the kingdom of God will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 16:18).
• That Satan will ultimately be punished, since he has already been defeated (Luke 10:18; John 12:31; Revelation 20:10).
• That heaven and your experience there will be greater than anything you can imagine (Romans 8:18; Revelation 21:4).
     On the other hand, you should never assume:
• That God cannot/will not forgive you (Romans 5:8; Hebrews 8:12).
• That you know exactly what someone is thinking (1 Corinthians 2:11).
• That you know the motive behind an act of someone toward you or someone else (Matthew 7:1; John 7:24).
• That you know everything (Romans 11:33).
• That you will never fall from grace (1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4).
• That all your companions and loved ones will be faithful just because of their association with you (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
• That you will be saved just because you come from a strong family or attend a faithful church (Philippians 2:12, 13).
• That you will win before you even fight the battle, or run the race (1 Kings 20:11; 1 Corinthians 9:24).
• That something is right because you have always thought it was (Acts 26:9; 1 Timothy 1:12, 13).
- 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


I Need God! I Really Need God!

By Joseph D. Chase

     The older I get the more I realize that I am inadequate on my own. Even the simple things in life are beyond my ability to accomplish. God provides every breath and every life-sustaining need. He gives me purpose, strength, and resolve to live move, and be.
     In many ways, I've learned that God's provision is a good and perfect gift from above. It is too easy to take for granted the rich bounty of blessings if I am not careful. It is easy to bemoan things that I think I need when really God knows and provides my true needs.
     Many years ago a great poet by the name Annie Sherwood Hawks penned some words which were set to music by Robert Lowry. These words are a valuable reminder for each morning as I rise and evening as I rest. I pray that each of us will heed these precious words.
I need Thee every hour,
  Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
  Can peace afford.
  I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
  Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
    I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour,
  Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power
  When Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour,
  In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
  Or life is vain.
I need Thee every hour,
  Teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises
  In me fulfill.
I need Thee every hour,
  Most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed,
  Thou blessed Son.
- Joseph D. Chase serves the North Loop Church of Christ in Gladewater, TX. He may be contacted through their website: http://northloopcoc.com/


Who Is First?

By David A. Sargent

     In her book My Memories of We, Mamie Eisenhower revealed some of the reasons why General Dwight D. Eisenhower was such a great leader.  He was able to inspire others to serve and sacrifice because of his deep love and loyalty to his country.  Mrs. Eisenhower said, “I learned early in our married life about his single-minded devotion to America.”
     At their first home — a small apartment near Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas — young Eisenhower kept his gear packed at all times.  He was ready to go anywhere when called upon to do so.  After they had been married only a month or so, Ike was given a new assignment that would take him away from home.  He came in and announced to Mamie that he must leave her for awhile.  She said to him, “Ike, you are not going to leave me this soon after our wedding day, are you?”
     Ike put his arms around his young bride and said, “Mamie, there is one thing you must understand.  My country comes first and always will.  You come second.”
     Mamie Eisenhower was shocked!  She was a nineteen-year-old bride who had been married only one month and now she had just heard the sobering words, “You come second.” *
     We may disagree with his priorities, but Eisenhower was right in the fact that we must determine who or what is going to be first in our lives.
     In order for our lives to be lived the way God intends, Jesus says we must put Him first.  "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).  An expert in the Law of Moses once asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:34-38).
     First things first.  That's a statement of priority, and it's the way that we live life properly - if we put GOD first.
     Jesus showed us the way.  He said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).  Following the will of God took Him to the cross where He died for the sins of the world, including yours and mine (Philippians 2:5-8).  He did this to pay the price for the redemption of our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
     God will save and give eternal life to those who put Him first by placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
     Let's "get it right."  Let's live life the way God intended.  Put God first and follow Him faithfully.  Won't YOU?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* As quoted by Rick Lance in "Discipleship: Following in His Footsteps," www.preaching.com.


What's in a Name?

By Adam Faughn

     A city in the Canadian province of Quebec is trying to change its name but is having trouble coming up with suitable  replacements.  The  plan  is  to  put  forward  a  few  choices  (they  prefer  four)  to  the  city  for  a  vote,  but  they  are struggling to come up with four choices that are popular enough to put before voters.
     But,  why  would  the  city  want  to  change  its  name  in  the  first  place?  The  city  was  named  for  a  local  industry  that helped  it  stay  strong  economically,  even  if  it  was  never  a  large  city  (in  the  2011  Canadian  census,  the  population was slightly over 7,000). They were proud of their industry, until recent years, as the material they mined has been linked to many physical problems, including cancer. So, for a few years, the city government has been trying to figure out a way to change the name. They settled on the voting plan, which was paused due to Covid-19, but now they are struggling to come up with a suitable list of replacement names to put before the town voters.
     So, what is the name of this small city in Quebec that is trying to change its name? Asbestos.
     It might be a good idea to change such a name because of the link between that substance and cancer (and other issues). It just seems like something that would be wise to do.
     However,  that  city's  decision  is  also  another  reminder  of  the  power  of  names.  When  we  name  a  child,  we  think about it seriously. Names are chosen based upon family history or a favorite person from the Bible or some other factor. When companies choose a name, they will spend hours (and often thousands of dollars) to think about just the right name for themselves, one that will be memorable and will reflect their brand. Recently, Seattle named its expansion  NHL  franchise,  and  there  were  all  sorts  of  buzz  about  it,  as  they  tried  to  choose  something  that  was "cool" and also fitting of the city/region and the sport. (They settled on the Seattle Kraken.)
     Names mean things and are very important to us. They reflect something, and that is also true in religion. Recently, I was driving by a denominational church building, and on the marquee outside, they proudly proclaimed what type of church they are. No less than five descriptive words were given to try to distinguish themselves as a denomination. Several years ago, I remember driving through a rural part of Alabama on the way to a speaking engagement. As  I  drove,  I  passed  a  tiny  church  house.  The  name  of  that  church  (if  I  remember  correctly)  was  the  "Pentecostal House of Apostolic Holy Praise in Jesus," and that name was followed by some letters to distinguish it even further!
     When  people  ask  you  about  where  you  worship,  how  do  you  answer?  Are  you  proud  to  simply  say,  "I'm  a  Christian?" Are you grateful that you can say, "I belong to Jesus?" Do you say, "I attend the Church of Christ," and do so with thanksgiving in your heart?
     In the New Testament, there were not long, convoluted names for the church. "Churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16); "Church of the Firstborn" (Hebrews 12:23); "The Way" (Acts 9:2; cf. John 14:6); "The Church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Timothy 3:5). These and a handful of other simple names show us what Jesus desires for His people to focus on in our name. The only distinguishing "addition" was their location (e.g., Corinth, Rome, Crete, Laodicea, etc.).
     It is not some other person in Scripture like John or outside of Scripture like Luther. It is not some particular doc-trine like baptism or church organization. It is not even how apostolic or holy or filled with praise we might be. And it is not some physical distinction, such as the majority race or ethnicity of the members.
     We are Christians. And that is a name we never have to change, alter, add to, detract from, or be ashamed of. It re-ally is enough to simply belong to Him and to enjoy the privilege of wearing His name.
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.


Monday, October 5, 2020

As Evening Falls

By David R. Ferguson

Daylight fades as the Sun has set
Twilight still is lingering yet.
See the colors up in the sky
Who put them up there, tell me why?

Now the day darkens toward night,
Still there is a beautiful sight.
Twinkling stars one by one appear
Making God's Presence seem so near.

Light from the stars, the Moon and Sun
Made for us by God's Holy One!
All creation gives Him glory!
As we sing love's greatest story.

From whence came this blessed treasure
Piercing heart and soul with pleasure?
God Almighty did it for us!
Won't you join our happy chorus?

Flee the one who tries to seize us.
Give your life and all to Jesus!
He said we could all receive Him,
If we trust and will believe Him.

He will save us if we obey.
Will you not come to Him today?
You can have your sins washed away.
Be immersed into Him today!
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


Be Careful Not to Fall

By Edd Sterchi

    It always amazes me how some can claim that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away from the grace of God. Consider these texts from the book of Hebrews:
* Heb. 2:1, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”
* Heb. 3:12, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God”
* Heb. 4:1, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
* Heb. 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift...if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God...”
* Heb. 10:26, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins”
* Heb. 10:38, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
* Heb. 12:15, “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”
* Heb. 12:25, “much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven”
* Heb. 13:9, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.”
And that’s just the book of Hebrews, let alone all the others books of the New Testament (of which there are many, many more passages that relate this truth). The Bible clearly reveals that it is possible to fall away from God’s grace. Knowing that, we should be inspired to remain faithful and active for the Lord. Let us watch our steps and be careful not to fall.
     “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39).
- 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/


Something You Should Never Say

By Joe Chesser

     People say bad things all the time.  I cringe inside when I hear people use God’s name in inappropriate ways (“God” is often joked about, or used as a curse word, or most often merely as a common, ordinary expression of surprise – OMG!).  God’s name is holy and should never be used in these ways (Exodus 20:7).  I also hate to hear people use vulgar, crude curse words in jokes, anger or just in daily conversations (I’ll not give examples of this).  God says to talk in this way is as out of place as sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3-4).
     But there’s another phrase that people use that should never be said.  I’ve heard it said in a variety of situations.  Sometimes it’s said when a marriage or a friendship goes sour.  Sometimes it’s said when a tragic, personal injury has been inflicted.  I’ve even heard it said by people at church in reaction to some ungodly action or words.  It’s very likely that you also have heard someone say after being deeply hurt by what another person said or did. What is said is, “I will never forgive him for that!  I just can’t!”
     I shudder when I hear people say that! Not because the words themselves are so bad, but because of what those words say about a person’s heart and how he views God. We live in a cruel world.  Satan is all around us doing evil things through people all the time.  I mean really bad things: murdering children, beating a wife, stealing your life’s savings through fraud, splitting churches, slandering reputations, hurting others while driving drunk, etc.  But we should never think, feel or say, “I can never forgive him for that!”  That’s a reaction that only Satan wants us to have.  And if we harbor hatred and unforgiveness in our hearts, we are the one who will suffer the most.  It will eat us up!
     I marvel at the heart of Joseph (Genesis 37-50).  Because his brothers’ hearts were filled with hatred and jealousy toward him, they sold him as a slave to foreign traders. Eventually he was bought by Potiphar in Egypt.  However, when Potiphar’s wife lied about him, he was put in prison and forgotten.  Much later, through the providence of God, Joseph’s brothers came humbly before him begging for help.  If Joseph had been like many of us, hatred would have so filled his heart at what they had done to him that he would have jumped at the chance for revenge.  Instead he had a heart for God; he had a heart filled with forgiveness. What others intended as evil, Joseph saw God’s goodness.
     Even in the worst of circumstances a person can choose to let God’s love and forgiveness rule their hearts.  It’s not easy.  Nobody ever says forgiveness is easy. Just ask Jesus on the cross! It’s easier to scream and cry, to hate and retaliate.  But, if we let God’s love rule our hearts and with that love find the strength to forgive, we’ll find a peace that goes beyond description (Philippians 4:6-7).  Like Joseph, we’ll rise above the evil around us into the heart of God.  “I forgive you” is something we will never regret saying!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


What Are You Chasing?

By Joe Slater

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but  always pursue what is good both for yourselves and  for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
     In the text above, Paul’s word pursue is the same  as “persecute” elsewhere in the New Testament. It  means to chase. Saul persecuted Christians by chasing  them down to harm them. After becoming a Christian,  the same man urged the Thessalonians to chase what  was good for themselves and everyone else.
     By contrast, he urged them not to seek payback  for ill treatment. Too many are bent on revenge! Jesus  taught His disciples to “love your enemies, bless those  who curse you, do good to those hate you, and pray for  those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Revenge appeals to the flesh, but God  calls us to rise above it.
     Paul exhorted Timothy to flee the love of money  and all the pitfalls that go with it, and to “pursue  righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience,  gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:9-11). A few years later Paul  urged him similarly: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who  call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
     Successfully chasing something takes energy; it  takes time; it takes determination and perseverance. Is  what you catch worth the effort? If you’re chasing  revenge, money, or fulfillment of the fleshly appetites,  you might say “yes” at first, but in the long run you’ll  be disappointed. The pursuit of righteousness and good  things, however, yields rich rewards both now and  eternally.
- 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


We Need Relief

By J. Randal Matheny

When pressure comes, we need relief —
O God, provide!
In loss and pain, we feel great grief —
Come, Lord, abide!
The heavy heart bears crushing weight —
Give Jesus’ load!
Let our steps pass the narrow gate
To your abode!

- 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) 2020 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
attributions.