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Monday, November 30, 2020

Rewarded

By Larry Pasley

    One dark night outside a small town, a fire started inside the local chemical plant. Before long it exploded into flames and an alarm went out to fire departments from miles around. After fighting the fire for over an hour, the chemical company president approached the fire chief and said, "All of our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved! I will give $50,000 to the engine company that brings them out safely."
    As soon as the chief heard this, he ordered the firemen to strengthen their attack on the blaze. After two more hours of attacking the fire they couldn’t get close enough to put out the fire and get the files, the president of the company offered $100,000 to the engine company that could bring out the company's secret files.
    From the distance a long siren was heard and another fire truck came into sight. It was a local volunteer fire company composed entirely of men over 65. To everyone's amazement the little fire engine raced through the chemical plant gates and drove straight into the middle of the inferno. In the distance the other firemen watched as the old timers hopped off their rig and began to fight the fire with an effort that they had never seen before. After an hour of intense fighting the volunteer company had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas. Joyous, the chemical company president announced that he would double the reward to $200,000 and walked over to personally thank each of the volunteers. After thanking each of the old men individually the president asked the group what they intended to do with the reward money.
    The fire truck driver spoke right up and said, "First off - fix them brakes!"

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    Have you ever rushed into something too quickly and regretted it later? It may have been a job, a decision to buy a house/car or something else, a marriage, a divorce, anger, an accusation or something else.
    Haste makes waste. Proverbs 21:5  The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
    Haste leads to sin. Proverbs 19:2  Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, And he sins who hastens with his feet.
    Haste leads to shame. Proverbs 25:8  Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?
    Haste will not bring blessings. Proverbs 20:21  An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning Will not be blessed at the end.
    Haste is foolish. Ecclesiastes 7:9  Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
    Patience is truly a virtue. Ecclesiastes 7:8  The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
    We need to be patient to the end. James 5:7-8  Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
    May we all stop to think about our actions and what the future results of those actions might be.
- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com


The Real Thing

By David Bragg

    Almost 400 years ago much of Europe, Asia and Africa were devastated by the bubonic plague. When the outbreak erupted among the villagers of Oberammergau, Germany, according to tradition, they made a vow that if God spared them from this terrible disease, they would stage a portrayal of the death of Christ on the cross. The plague passed and they kept their vow.
    Starting in 1634 the citizens have staged their Passion Play every ten years. It was delayed in WWI, cancelled in WWII, and rescheduled in 2020, because of COVID-19, until 2022.
    The story is told of an American tourist attending the play. He really wanted his picture made holding the cross used by the actor portraying Jesus. But when he tried to lift the wooden cross to his shoulders the man was surprised at its weight. He asked the actor, “Why is it so heavy?”
    The actor’s reply: “If I did not feel the weight of it I could not play the part” (Don Cox, Jackson, MO Church of Christ).
    When contemplating the cross of Jesus, we need to feel the weight of it. The burden of sin carried on His innocent shoulders. The weight of MY sins that, if just for a moment, separated Him from His Father, our God. That is no superficial love. It is the real thing.
- 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/


What Happens When God Forgives Us?

By Edd Sterchi

    Some amazing things happen when God forgives our sins. Several are well expressed and implied in Col. 2:13: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
1) We go from dead to living.
2) We go from separation to being with Christ.
3) We go from trespassers to belongers.
    Do you want to be alive, in a relationship with Christ, and have an eternal home in heaven? Then make sure you have contacted the blood of Christ and are in constant contact with it (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 John 1:7-9). It is the only way God grants His forgiveness. It’s the only way we go from death to life.
- 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/


Faithfulness

By Joe Chesser
 
    I haven’t heard it in a long time, but one of the standard wedding songs when I was much younger was Faithful and True. Can you hear the tune? Although the lyrics speak in language of old, the idea of being faithful and true is just as important today as it has ever been. Faithfulness is important in all areas of Christian lives, not just in our marriages. Why? Because faithfulness is a quality Jesus expects in his disciples.
    Faithfulness is simply living up to the expectations of what you believe. If you believe a husband and wife should never have a sexual relationship outside of their marriage, being faithful is putting that belief into practice 100%. However, believing it is one thing, doing it is another. Faithfulness is practicing what you believe.
    The same principle is true in our “marriage” to Christ. Faith is believing in God and in what God says. Faithfulness is putting that faith into practice. We will not please God without believing that He exists and without earnestly seeking Him (Hebrews 11.6). There is an important distinction between having faith and being faithful. Jesus pronounced a curse on the teachers of the law and Pharisees (people who believed in God) because they “neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23.23). The fruit of the Spirit that needs to be produced in those who belong to Christ Jesus includes faithfulness. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5.22-25). God blesses those who both listen to His word and do what it says. We deceive ourselves if we believe simply listening to Him is ok (James 1.22-25).
    Among the last things Jesus taught before his death was the parable of the talents. It’s a story about faithfulness. Three guys were given some money. It’s not important how much. What’s important is what they did with their money. Two of them used their money to make more money, and the master commended them: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25.21, 23). Because of their faithfulness, they were invited to share in the master’s happiness. But one of the servants was not so blessed. Not because he didn’t believe in the master, for he did. He knew a lot about him. He feared him. As a result, instead of using the money he was given, he hid it so he wouldn’t lose it. The master was livid: “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gathered where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. … throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25.26-30). Unfaithfulness: wicked, lazy, worthless.
    Jesus calls on his church to be faithful, even to the point of death. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2.10-11). Be faithful.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


How Forgiving and Forgiven Are You?

By Gerald Cowan

    Let’s get right to the point: If you are unforgiving you will be unforgiven.  Jesus said it: (Ask God to) forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us....  If you forgive others your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).
    This principle applies in many ways.  If you are not merciful to others you will not receive mercy – at least not from God (James 2:13). One who refuses to hear the cries of a needy brother will not be heard when he himself cries out in need or distress (Proverbs 21:13, compare James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17). If you are not doing for or to others as required it will not be done to or for you when you require it. Don’t stop with Matthew 6 – continue without break into Matthew 7. The kind of judgment (reasonable, harsh, hypocritical, double standard, etc) you give others determines the kind of judgment you will receive.  For example: Matthew 7:1ff.  Those who judge with strict judgment, without mercy, without consideration of extenuating or mitigating circumstances, etc. will receive no mercy, etc when they are judged (compare James 2:13).

    WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT.

     It is not just ignoring the sin and those who wrong us, turning a blind eye or refusing to notice, refusing to hold others  accountable.  God does not overlook sins and neither should His people – God does not tell us to do so. Forgiveness does not mean sin somehow becomes invisible, to God or to any others. God’s omniscience means He always knows, without mistakes and without gaps, what was, what is, and what will be. At every moment He knows even the future as if it were the past (Isaiah 46:8-10).  He knows what has been done, whether error has been corrected, whether any necessary thing remains to be done, whether and when it will be done.  He does not close His eyes to anything.
    God does not refuse to see or become unable to see sin once it has been forgiven.  He does not remove it from his ledger, His book of remembrance, once He forgives it – nor does He ask us to do so. Like any good accountant God has separate parts to His ledger: (1) Accounts Receivable/Payable (what is still owed and must be paid);  (2) Accounts Paid – payments made are duly noted and recorded so that one does not become charged again for debts already paid and therefore closed to further transactions.
    God sees and knows constantly and always debts incurred, payments made, and amount still owed.  When it is marked “truly and fully paid” it will not be remembered or charged against the person again. That is the extent of God’s forgetting: He will not bring a forgiven matter against the forgiven person again (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17).
    Forgiveness is not a refusal to retaliate with  a blow for a blow, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, or life for a life. One can refrain from retaliation but still harbor bitterness, ill will and resentment, holding the guilty accountable and rejecting the offending person. Jesus said if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he then repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3).
    It is not putting the offender on probation while we adjudicate and consider how inexcusable his behavior was, and then promise to forgive if and as long as no further offenses are forthcoming.
   
    WHAT FORGIVENESS IS.

    Since we are urged to forgive in the same way and to the same extent and with the same attitude as God displays in forgiving us (Ephesians 4:29-32), we can better understand what forgiveness is by observing what God does when He forgives.  He does not remove  the notation of wrong from His record. The blotting out of sins that accompanies conversion (Acts 3:19) is nothing more than moving the item from accounts payable to accounts paid and no longer to be charged against the convert.  His actions toward the forgiven are as if the sin had never occurred at all. As in the case of the “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-24) the once-away once-spiritually-dead son is restored to his rightful place, home again and alive to his father again. In God’s forgiveness the guilt is lifted, certain (though perhaps not all) consequences are removed, one is not bound in place as a current transgressor but is free to move forward toward the goals and rewards of the restored transgressor.  

    TAKE THE “HAVE I REALLY FORGIVEN MY OFFENDER” TEST

    Do you  secretly rejoice when some misfortune happens to the one who offended or sinned against you?  Does it please you to think “karma” has bitten your offender?
    Do you purposely avoid contact, or being present where he is? Do you speak to him only when necessary, never initiate conversation?
    Do you remember and can’t forget the wrong committed and how it hurt you, how it made you feel? Do you brood over it, silently meditating and still resenting the wrong done to you – perhaps even  over-dramatizing the trauma and reliving the experience?
    If your offender needed help or asked you to pray for him, would you do it?  Would you do good for him or pray for him without being asked?  
    Have you talked with the one who sinned against you, telling him his fault and asking about your own fault – perhaps you caused him to sin against you?  Have you asked him to repent and accept your forgiveness – have you asked him to accept your repentance and forgive you for your improper attitude and actions against him?
    Do you ask God, when praying for yourself, to help you find a way to be reconciled and restored to fellowship with your offender or one you have offended?  Do you even want to be reconciled with him and in fellowship with him, serving and worshiping God together with him?

    FORGIVING YOURSELF CAN BE A PROBLEM?

    Be careful not to forgive yourself too easily for unforgiven and unforgivable sins against God, others, and  yourself. You are not the final arbiter, judge, or jury. Refusing forgiveness offered to you by others, or by God, is a form of unforgiveness – which will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15), as we noted at the beginning of this essay. Refusing to forgive, refusing to be forgiven or to accept forgiveness is also a form of unforgiveness. I recall vividly a man who told me, “I have been such a bad person and my sins are so terrible that I cannot forgive myself, and I could not respect anyone, not even God, who would forgive me for the things I’ve done.” Refusing to forgive yourself is also unforgiveness.  Forgiving yourself is a matter of acknowledging the wrongs and accepting forgiveness, then letting them and the associated guilt go and moving forward in the new direction you are allowed to take. You can’t change your past nor can you live in it. You can let it be the past – by God’s grace the forgiven past – and thankfully reach toward the promises of the future with Him. The principle applies to anyone from whom you are estranged and want to be reconciled.

THE ONE WHO IS AWARE OF THE SEPARATION MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE IN EFFECTING FORGIVENESS.

    Don’t insist that the other person take the first step. If you are an offender you should take the first step (Matthew 5:23-24). If you are the offended don’t wait for the offender to take the first step. Let him know you are open to reconciliation and that you are seeking renewed fellowship with him (Matthew 18:15-17) and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Both the offender and the offended are hindered from proper worship to God until the separating matter has been corrected.
    When you sinned against God who took the first step to make a way back to Him?  He did, by supplying a redeemer savior and opening a path for you to Himself in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
    The reason for seeking and giving forgiveness is not to find an excuse for condemning and destroying others but to save them, and to save yourself (Acts 2:40, Philippians 2:12-13).

    HOW DOES “WALKING IN THE LIGHT” FORGIVE SIN?

    Walking in the light (1 John 1:5-10) means you are doing what you know is right and avoiding what you know is wrong. “Walking in the light” is not synonymous with “being a  Christian.”  Nobody is perfect,  making no mistakes, committing no sins. But if one finds he is wrong then repents and corrects it and seeks God's forgiveness he will be forgiven.  If one finds he is wrong and does not repent it, correct it, and seek forgiveness for it he is no longer walking in the light.  Forgiveness is not automatic. Grace is not forgiveness – it is a way toward forgiveness. When one becomes aware of sin it must be repented and whatever else is necessary must be done in order to secure forgiveness. Walking in the light means growing in faith and knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18) – as one learns one adapts, one changes if necessary to comply with the new understanding of God’s will.
- 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


Monday, November 23, 2020

Returning Thanks

By David A. Sargent

     Many years ago two boys were working their way through Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to them to engage Paderewski, the great Polish pianist, for a piano recital. They would use the funds to help pay their board and tuition.  The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The guarantee was a lot of money in those days, but the boys agreed and proceeded to promote the concert. They worked hard, only to find that they had grossed only $1,600.
     After the concert the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers.
     “No, boys,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. “Now,” he told them, “take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.”
     The years rolled by -- World War I came and went. Paderewski, now Premier of Poland, was striving to feed thousands of starving people in his native land. There was only one man in the world who could help him - he was in charge of the U.S. Food and Relief Bureau. He quickly agreed to help and soon thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland.
     After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank the man for the relief he had sent....
“That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was his reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college, and I was also in trouble.”  The man’s name? Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st President of the United States of America.” *
     Paderewski, with great generosity and kindness, was able to help a couple of struggling college students. Years later, one of those college students was able to say “Thank you” by assisting Paderewski and his people in a great time of need.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to return thanks for a noble action done on behalf of another.
     Friend, something has been done for YOU!  You didn’t ask for it, but you desperately needed it.  It happened long before you were born, but you may still benefit greatly by the action of a loving, generous Person.
     "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Because of OUR grievous condition due to our sin, the kind and loving Heavenly Father gave us His Son to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8).  Because of this great Sacrifice, we may have forgiveness from our sins (Ephesians 1:7) and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
     How can we return thanks for this indescribable Gift and receive those blessings?  By our humble submission to His will: believing and trusting Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Then we can continue to show our gratitude by seeking to live obediently to His will for the rest of our lives (John 14:15).
     Friend, a great thing has been done for you: Jesus died for you so that you might live.  Won’t YOU “return thanks”  by giving your life to Him?

* Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991
- 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


Being Thankful in Everything and Anxious for Nothing

By David R. Ferguson

    Paul wrote, "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
    "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
    Surely Paul could not mean what he wrote here, could he? How can we be expected to be thankful for everything, and anxious for nothing? Didn’t Paul know that I was looking forward to mowing my lawn today, and planting some flowers in my garden? How could I be thankful that all my plans are now ruined because of this incessant rain and unseasonably cold weather?
    Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-34, "Be not therefore anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or, ‘What shall we drink?’ Or, ‘Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
    One’s attitude, it seems, is the key. It is a matter of one’s perspective. If one chooses to be unhappy and miserable when life’s arrows are shot our way, then one will be just that. But if one chooses to be happy, grateful and thankful, then one will be content, no matter how Satan buffets us.
    What about the person who has just been robbed? Could this individual be thankful, too? Matthew Henry, English nonconformist minister and Bible commentator (1662-1714), was robbed one night. After this dreadful encounter, he went back and wrote in his diary, "I want to first thank God that I was never robbed before. Second, I thank God that they took my wallet and not my life. Third, because, although they took everything I had, it was not much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed and it was not I who robbed."
    Now this is being thankful in all circumstances and being anxious for nothing! This is surely making lemonade when life gives us lemons!
    May God bless you today and always!
- 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


The Importance of Sharing

By David Bragg

    There are a number of humorous stories associated with Abraham Lincoln. One story first appeared in a February 1864 issue of The New York Post. It arose out of the large group of office and favor seekers that seemed to constantly follow in the President's wake wherever he went. When Lincoln was struck with the feared typhoid fever, the disease that took the Lincoln's young son Willie in 1862, he reportedly told a friend that at last he now had something "that I can give to everybody" (www.washingtonpost.com).
    This time of year is sometimes referred to as "the season of giving." We look forward to any opportunity to giving gifts to family and friends. But as Christians we possess the most precious gift anyone can give: the Good News of Jesus Christ.
    Jesus’ great commission to His disciples is truly “great” because it contains the ONLY hope that lost humanity has to spending an eternity with God in heaven (Matthew 28:18-20). The apostles clearly understood this, as Luke confirms in Acts 4:12: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
    We must take the good news to the lost and give them the opportunity to accept. There is nothing that we can share that’s more needed, and no other message as crucial as the precious and loving message Jesus placed in our hands.
- 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/


How to Show Gratitude to God

By Gerald Cowan

    There are four levels of gratitude that one may reach. The level of the lips – saying “thanks,” or some words that convey gratitude. But if the words are insincere they are not valid – they are lies. Lying words may sound good to the one addressed, but they are a discredit to the one who speaks them. The level of the hands – doing something to show gratitude, in response to something done for you or given to you. But if the action is forced or coerced and is not an honest reflection of feelings it too is a lie. The act is good but the motive behind it is not. The level of the heart – actually being grateful. When the gratitude is heartfelt it will show up in the lips and in the hands, sincere and genuine words and acts of appreciation which is the level of the life – one lives a life of gratitude.

    STEPS TO A POSITIVE GRATEFUL CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE.

    One: Guard your own mind and thoughts (Prov. 4:23).  Look for the good in everything, no matter what (Rom. 8:28).  Bar all suggestive, lustful, and immoral things from your mind.  Fill your mind with positive things (Phil. 4:8).  Do not surrender to negative emotions.  Avoid all selfishness.
    Two:  Be other-person-centered (Phil. 2:4, Mt. 7:12).  Acknowledge and respond to the good in others.  Do good: return good for good, but also return good for evil (Rom. 12:21).  Allow others to give to you and do things for you. Acts 20:35 does not mean one should not receive. Others cannot have the blessing of giving if there is no receiver. Giving and receiving build up the church and its individual members (Phil. 4:15-16).
    Three: Practice positive praise and prayer. God is worthy of our praise. Praise Him. Prayers of petition and intercession should be offered in faith, believing in God who is able to help and able to give – and willing to do so when asked (1 Tim. 2:1, James 1:6).  Just remember that prayer is incomplete and may not bring the desired or requested result if it does not include thanks-giving (Phil. 4:6-7, Eph. 5:20).
    Four: Focus on what you have and not what you don’t have, on what you have received from others and not just what you have done for yourself. If you are inclined to compare your blessedness with that of others, here are a few points to help you move in the right direction. If you have nutritious food and safe drinking water, you are better off than about two thirds of all the people in the world. If you have adequate clothing, a house to live in, and easy transportation about half of the world will envy you. If you have, or have had, parents who love you and love each other – what a blessed treasure that is! Even if you don’t get what you want or what you ask for, you can probably be grateful you don’t get some things you deserve, “what you’ve got coming to you.”  If your soul has been saved by obedience to Christ, you have something only about one in 7,000 can claim with any reasonable assurance.  All the other things you may be thankful for are as nothing if you are not among those saved by Christ.
- 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


“Be Thankful to Him” Psa. 100:4

By Bill Brandstatter

    Thanksgiving means a lot of turkey for a lot of folks. There is too much of an emphasis on the  material and not the spiritual. This Thanksgiving our emphasis should be on the spiritual aspects of  Thanksgiving, not so much the physical.
    I am thankful for all the physical possessions that I have, but what would happen if I lost them  all? (Job 1:14,15) If it were not for God, I would have nothing. (Acts 17:28) Is there anything you are so  thankful for that you would shout about it? The Psalmist did.
    I am thankful for what God gives and has given me.
    This seems to be the point of this  Psalm. In spite of the fact that Israelites were provided for by God; nonetheless, they were not grateful,  but complained. (Numbers 20:1-13) Ps. 107:1 says: “O, give thanks unto the Lord.” Today, as members of  the church, the Israel of God, we should be very thankful. (Gal. 6:16)
    I am thankful for what God can do for me in the future. Psa. 100:5 
God's Word condemns the sin of ingratitude. To be like Christ we must be thankful. He offered  thanks for food in Luke 24:30. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said, "Father, I thank you that you have  heard me.” (John 11:41) This is the whole point of this Psalm…thanksgiving. (vs 4)
    I am thankful for Who God is. Psa. 100:2, 3
    Webster says: "Forgetfulness of or poor return for kindness received: ungratefulness." Nine of  ten lepers whom Jesus healed did not return "to give glory to God." (Luke 17:11-19) Paul stated that some  would be unthankful. (2 Tim 3:1,2) Lack of proper training has caused ingratitude, leading some to  mistakenly believe that the world owes them a living. (Gen. 3:19; 2 Thess. 3:10)
    I am thankful for who we are.
    "We are his people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psa. 100:3b) God has a people who are His. (Heb. 8:10)
    I am grateful for being a child of God. John writes, “What manner of love the Father has bestowed  upon us, that we should be called the children of God.” (1 Jn. 3:1)
    I am grateful for the privilege and honor of being a member of the church for which Christ died  and purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) I am thankful for being a part of the family of God (Eph.  3:15). What about you?
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Friday, November 20, 2020

Whose Kingdom is Still Here?

By Joe Chesser
 
    What a glorious morning it must have been for the Jewish leaders. Early that morning, after an all-night “trial,” they led Jesus to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. They must have felt confident as they stood outside of the palace having convicted Jesus by their “laws”. These pious leaders would not enter the palace to speak with Pilate because they would then not be able to eat the Passover (John 18.28). But they had a plan. In order to get the Roman governor’s attention, they accused Jesus of “subverting our nation,” of opposing paying taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be a king (Luke 23.2). But the fact that they were lying in order to have the guiltless Jesus executed didn’t seem to bother them at all. Their inconsistency is glaring to anyone on the side of truth and integrity. Even Pilate eventually saw through it and declared Jesus innocent of their charges (John 18.38).
    But before that, Pilate took Jesus inside the palace to question him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” At this point Jesus answered indirectly. He spoke to Pilate about his kingdom. Jesus explained that his kingdom was not of this world, but was, in fact, from another place. Of course, Pilate was thinking of one kind of kingdom and Jesus spoke of a different kind.
    The kind of kingdoms Pilate thought of had risen and fallen for millenniums. The Bible speaks of many of these kingdoms: Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Syria, and Greek.  Major world powers that all rose and fell over the course of history. Pilate himself was a part of such a kingdom, the Roman Empire, one of the greatest of all time. But Jesus was speaking of a kingdom based on truth not power, a spiritual kingdom not a political one.
    It was prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 2.44) that in the days of the Roman kingdom the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed. Even though Rome was described as “strong as iron” that would crush all the others, it too would one day fall (Daniel 2.40-43). Pilate had to feel even more confident than the Jews were feeling that Jesus could not threaten the Roman Empire. He had no idea that God’s spiritual kingdom could and would crush the mighty Romans, especially if this guy standing before was its king.
    But, as Mike Ireland asked in his devotional book, From Morning to Evening, “Well, whose kingdom is still here?” Though it took almost four centuries from the time of Jesus for the Roman Empire to fall, fall it did. During those years, while the Rome was crumbling, the kingdom of God kept growing and expanding into nation after nation, city after city.  And it’s still growing as men and women all over the globe are learning about Jesus the King and are surrendering their hearts and lives to him.
    Are we sometimes tempted to think more like Pilate than like Jesus? Are we tempted to trust in governments and authorities of this world more than in the rule of Jesus? For which kingdom are we giving our time, money and effort? Hopefully, we will listen to the truth Jesus brought and hold it in higher regard than anything else. Yes, we are to  honor the king (1 Peter 2.14). But Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of  lords (Revelation 19.16)!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Who's in Your Heart?

By Larry Pasley

    A four year old was at the pediatrician for a checkup.
    As the doctor looked down her ears with an otoscope, he asked, "Do you think I'll find Big Bird in here?" The little girl stayed silent.
    Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked, "Do you think I'll find the Cookie Monster down there?" Again, the little girl was silent.
    Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heart beat, he asked, "Do you think I'll hear Barney in there?"
    "Oh, no!" the little girl replied. "Jesus is in my heart. Barney's on my underpants."

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    The Bible teaches that all spiritual blessings are in Christ. Ephesians 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Salvation is also in Christ. 2 Timothy 2:10  Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
    The only way the bible ever says we can get into Christ is through baptism. Galatians 3:27  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Romans 6:3  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
    Not only must we be in Christ but Christ must be in us also. Many scriptures teach that He is in Christians.
  • Ephesians 3:17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
  • John 6:56  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
  • John 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • Romans 8:9-11  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
  • Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
  • Colossians 1:27  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    Are you in Christ and is Christ in you? Do you want the spiritual blessings He can provide?
If I can help you know more about how to get into Christ please let me know.
- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com


That All-Seeing Eye

By Al Behel

“...His eyes sees every precious thing” (Job 28:10)
    Many of us will remember an old hymn we sang if we grew up in the church entitled, “There’s An All-Seeing Eye Watching You.” The song reminded us that every step that we take this great eye is awake. The chorus was an ominous warning to all of us:
“Watching you, watching you,
There’s an all-seeing eye watching you.”
    Frankly, I didn’t like that hymn. It was scary to think that God was watching every move that I made, trying to catch me breaking so law of His so He could give me another black mark.
    We have some fellow-Christians who are like that. They see themselves as experts at discerning the actions of others and the motives behind them. They monitor every sermon, announcement, and prayers and are ready to pounce on others with that judgmental eye. Rather that “bringing in the sheeves”, they are too busy watching others and pointing out their mistakes. They are good at stretching a tight rope for others to walk.
    Churches have been divided and believers hurt by people who think they are doing God’s bidding. We have seen division over silly things, all driven by individual pride and self-righteousness. Opinions have been elevated to fact, traditions to gospel, and selfish ambition to a distorted view of serving God.
    I’m glad God will be our Judge. God does have an all-seeing eye and is aware of our failures, but He also “sees every precious thing.” Simon Peter is remembered by men for his faults which we use to justify ourselves, but God saw a different side of Peter. Jesus commissioned him to the greatest work any man can do and he succeeded, not because he was perfect, but because he was faithful.
    While we may see the sinner in the saint, God sees the saint in the sinner.
    He admits broken people into His kingdom and heals their wounds. That is our mission as well. The woman taken in adultery (John 8) was a potential follower of Jesus and Rahab “the harlot” was worthy to be included in faith’s hall of fame as someone God used (Hebrews 11).
    I once read a poem that reminded us that “there is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it ill behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.” The heart of Jesus is a heart of compassion and love. No wonder he commanded us “to love one another as I have loved you.” When you are tempted to be harsh on others, just stop and pray for greater love in your own heart toward them.
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/


Moving Ahead Into The Unknown

By Edd Sterchi

     When the children of God were about to cross the Jordan river and take possession of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, they were heading into the unknown. So God gave Joshua these words of assurance: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9). We are always headed into the unknown. These words can be an inspiration and comfort to us, as well.
     As we forge ahead into the uncertain future, let us remember:
* We need to rely on our abilities (“Be strong”)
* We need to be brave (“and of good courage”)
* We need to step in faith (“do not be afraid”)
* We need to be optimistic (“nor be dismayed”)
* We need to remember that God is with us (“for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”)
    What lies ahead for each of our lives? Who knows? God knows! And He will help and guide us if we trust in Him. Knowing that, we should step into tomorrow with much confidence, hope, faith, and courage.
- 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/


An Odd Offense

By Adam Faughn

    A few years ago, I was listening to a lesson about the importance of the Lord's Supper. The person speaking had done some mission work elsewhere in the world and maintained contacts with people from the other side of the globe. Not all that long prior, one of their friends had been traveling in the United States and came to where this speaker was from. They had a discussion about various things, and the subject of worship came up.
    As members of the Lord's Church, of course, there was not much difference between the worship in which they engaged around the globe and what they saw when they came to America. They sang without instruments. They learned from God's Word. They gave. They spent time in pray-er. They participated in communion.
    Interestingly, though, one aspect of the worship was slightly offensive to the guests from the other side of the world. It was not that anything sinful was being done, but it was that there seemed to be a lack of emphasis on it, compared to what they were accustomed to. It was the Lord's Supper. These Christians simply could not understand why only a moment or two was spent saying a quick prayer, and then the emblems were passed as quickly as possible, almost at times as if it was being rushed through in order to get to more "pressing" matters.
    It must be said; the New Testament does not give us every specific detail about eating the Lord's Supper. The day on which it is to be eaten is specified (Acts 20:7); the emblems to be utilized are specified (Matthew 26:26-29); the purpose is specified (1 Corinthians 11:26); and the attitude each worshiper is to have is specified (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). However, specifics such as how long it is supposed to last each Sunday or the manner in which it is to be distributed is left up to the wisdom of each congregation.
    That said, can we not agree that those Christians from the other side of the world could have had a valid point? Can we not sometimes feel as if this portion of our worship is a bit "rushed" or that "efficiency" is the end-all-be-all of communion? While we dare not judge hearts or intentions, I believe we can all see how this is possible. (Personally, I know I have checked the time on several occasions when I should have been thinking about Jesus, and that is to my own shame and regret.)
    Add to that, over the last few months, we have had to be extra cautious in the manner in which we distribute the emblems, and understandably so. However, that has led to an even greater possibility of us hurrying or maybe not concentrating on the seriousness of the Lord's Supper as we should. Again, being human, we are going to struggle in this area at times, but we should do all we can to do our very best.
    To help in that, we have planned a very special worship assembly for October 18. Our entire morning worship service is going to center around the communion. Instead of par-taking of the emblems in the first few minutes of our service, all aspects of our worship are going to focus our minds on the cross of Jesus and on its connection to the bread and the fruit of the vine.
    To do this, we are simply changing the order of our service for this one week. Instead of partaking of the communion and then preaching about it, we will have a sermon that focuses on each emblem before we partake in it. To facilitate this, we will all have individual-serve cups for this week only. Each song will be one that focuses our minds on the cross and on what we are doing when we remember the sacrifice of our Lord.
    Our hope is that this service reminds us of this extremely important part of our worship service, which is the focal point of our entire week. You may not personally struggle with concentrating on the Lord's Supper, even in these different times. But, for those who have (or do), we pray that this one special service helps us remember afresh the importance of it, and helps us long for the day when we more regularly take greater time to focus our hearts and minds on communion.
- 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, November 9, 2020

Christ: Our Fountain Of Youth

By Joe Slater

    Almost nothing in history supports the legend that Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon searched for the “Fountain of Youth.” (Don’t tell the tourists in Florida, though!) It’s definitely true, however, that various people all over the world have sought (and even claimed to have found) water that restores youth. We human beings just don’t like the idea of aging and dying. We’re downright desperate for some way to avoid it!
    Jesus told Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). What? Believers don’t die? Wait a minute – we’ve seen any number of believers die. How can Jesus say this?
    Look at the entire passage! The Lord wasn’t saying believers won’t die physically. He said even if they do, they will live (because He is the resurrection and the life). But faithful believers won’t die eternally (the “second death” as in Revelation 20:14).
    But in the meanwhile, Christ blesses us with perpetual youth! No, not in the bodily sense – once again, think beyond the physical. The aged Paul knew full well that death awaited him, yet he wrote, “We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
    No, God hasn’t given us H2O that will restore our youth. He has given us something infinitely better: spiritual life in Christ here and now, and the confident hope of living with Him and all the redeemed of all ages in Heaven forever.
    Are you drinking from the fountain of youth?
- 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


Come and Listen to a Story ...

By David Bragg

    A real estate deal late in 2019 made the headlines when it sold at a record price. The Chartwell Estate, listed at $350 million, sold for around $150 million making it "the most expensive home ever sold in the entire state of California" (www.radio.com) and second highest sold in the United States (www.cnn.com).
    The Bel-Air mansion boasts 10-acres of real estate (including a house once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan), 40-car garage, 18 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms, a ballroom, a redwood grove, tennis court and 75-foot swimming pool (or "Cement Pond"). The Chartwell Estate was made famous by a family that never lived in it ... the Clampetts!
    “The Beverly Hillbillies” mansion was used for exterior shots in the show while interior scenes, with the people that represent the heart of the family, were filmed at the Hollywood Center Studios. It seems an apt reminder for us today. There is a difference between a "house" and a "home." The "house" is the exterior physical structure, the "home" consists of the people that make up a family. As our nation observes Father's Day today we honor fathers who are working hard to build a home. This was the inspired advice given by Paul, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). While a "house" is important, it is so much more rewarding to build a strong, loving, spiritual, solid "home!"
- 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/


Baptism

By Clifton Angel

    Baptism: an immersion or submersion of an object or person.  It  is  likened to a burial,  in  which  one  is completely  covered  in  dirt/rock  (Romans  6:3–4). However, the burial or immersion of interest for this study is in water. In the words of a friend, “What is so  special  about  being  dunked  in  water?” I  kindly submit  to  you  that  baptism  is  important  because God said so—not me. Let’s consider some Scriptural reasons for the need to be baptized.

Baptism Stands Between the Sinner and Salvation
      “He  that  believeth  and  is  baptized  shall  be  saved”  (Mark  16:16). Jesus’  words  are  simple  and  “unget-around-able.”  We  should  be able  to  end  this  article  here,  but  for  emphasis  we  will  continue. Peter reemphasized this teaching at 1 Peter 3:21:  “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the  removal of the filth of  the  flesh,  but  the  answer  of  a  good  conscience  toward  God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (NKJV).

Baptism Stands Between the Sinner and Forgiveness of Sins
    “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you  in  the  name  of  Jesus  Christ  for  the  remission  of  sins”  (Acts 2:38).

Baptism Stands Between the Sinner and Sins Being Washed Away
    “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Baptism Stands Between the Sinner and the Cleansing Blood of Jesus
      “And  from  Jesus  Christ,  who  is  the  faithful  witness,  and  the  first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). Coupling this verse with  Acts 22:16 shows that the point at which one contacts Jesus’ blood is baptism.

Baptism stands between the sinner and addition to the Lord’s church
     Reading Acts 2:37–47 is a clear foundation to seeing that those who are  baptized  are  those  who Jesus  adds  to  His  church.  Why  is  this important? Because His church  is  the only body of the saved  (see Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18).
      The list could continue. For, baptism stands between the sinner and being  in  Christ  (Galatians  3:27),  which  leads  to  a  host  of  other things the sinner lacks if he does not submit to baptism: All spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), Absence of condemnation (Romans 8:1), A real reason to rejoice (Philippians 4:4), just to name a few.
      Certainly,  there is the need to hear (Romans 10:17), believe  (Mark 16:16), repent (Acts 2:38), and confess (Acts 8:37). Yet, if all of these be accomplished and one lacks obedience to God’s  command  of baptism, he remains a sinner without salvation. On the other hand, if one has  been  immersed  in  water  without  faith, repentance,  and confession,  he  has  only  gotten wet.  Do  we  see  the  importance  of baptism?
- 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/


The High Cost of Following Jesus

By Joe Chesser

     Sometimes we are not honest with ourselves. Sometimes we say the things we think we should say or ask things we don’t really mean.
     Such was the case with the young man in Matthew 19. He approached Jesus with a serious sounding question: “Teacher, what good thing mist I do to get eternal life” (Matt. 19.16). This was a great question! He went to Jesus because he believed he was a “good teacher” (Mark 10.17). It sounds like he was truly willing to do whatever it took to go to heaven, especially when Jesus replied, “obey the commandments” (19.17). He basically replied, “I’ve already done that. What else do I need to do?” (19.20). However, his true heart surfaced when Jesus told him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow him (19.21). Although it made him sad, he went away because his wealth was more important than eternal life (19.22). He wasn’t willing to pay the price to follow Jesus.
     Satan wants us to see how close we can get to following Jesus without making a total commitment. He loves it when people ask questions like “Is church attendance a salvation issue?” or “How short can I wear my skirt?” or “How many drinks can I have?” In other words, “What is the least (or most) I can do and still get into heaven?” And then, like the young man above, we decide if Jesus is asking us to do too much.
     But following Jesus is not a matter of “how much” or “how little.” To Jesus, the cost of following him has always been total commitment. For the young man, it meant selling all of his possessions and giving them away. For the apostles, following Jesus meant leaving their jobs (Matt. 4.19-20; 9.9; John 1.43). For Paul it meant reevaluating everything he once held very important (Phil. 3.7). For everyone it means dying to self every day (Luke 9.23); it means carrying our own cross and giving up everything we have (Luke 14.27, 33); it means making no excuses (Matt. 8.21); it means loving Jesus more than our families (Luke 14.26); it means offering our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom. 12.1-2); it means going against the crowds (Matt. 7.13-14); it means holding to the teachings of Jesus (John 8.31); it means crucifying fleshly passions and desires (Gal. 5.24); it means becoming fishers of men (Matt. 4.19); it means living the rest of your life for the will of God (1 Peter 4.2); it means crucifying yourself and allowing Jesus to live in you (Gal. 2.20).
     Even though there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, following Jesus is none-the-less extremely costly. Following Jesus means holding nothing back. Absolutely nothing! Yet remember, with God, all things are possible (Matt 19.25-26)!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Impress on the People

By Ron Thomas

    Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul; and ye shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes (Deuteronomy 11:18, ASV).
    As I read through Deuteronomy, I am reminded of the impression the Lord made on Moses and how Moses in turn made an impression on the people of Israel. Moses had to deal with people, as a nation, that had stubborn tendencies, people who were interested in their own way most of the time. The Lord’s way was recognized for the value it presented, but to make changes in one’s life was more than they wanted at the time. Sound familiar?
    It was the Lord who made clear to the nation that if they would walk (live) in His ways, they would be a blessed people, a people that would be a blessing to others. Some, however, could not get past their own interests. Consequently, they became a burden to themselves and to others, especially Moses and Aaron, the two people the Lord called to serve and lead His nation.
    It was so easy for the people of Israel to think they were a special people blessed by the Lord because the Lord took them from Egyptian bondage to the edge of the land of promise. Because they were so blessed, the Lord would not surely punish them for their failings, would He? They thought that to be a reasonable supposition, but when their failings were associated with stubbornness, the Lord was not about to put up with it. The Lord shows no partiality (Deut. 10:17) and He was not going to allow them this self-serving approach to go unchecked. He appealed to them again and again; He tried to impress His words on their hearts, to have a circumcised heart. Still, as in every generation, there are some who will not do as wisdom dictates.
    In the days of Manasseh, King of Judah (son of Hezekiah), he had a reputation that could not be cast off. He was known as an evil king. Yet, in his evil he suffered hard lessons the Lord taught him. To his credit, he learned from them and had the Lord’s message impressed on his heart. The Scriptures teach in 2 Chronicles 33:13, the captive king in Babylon turned back to the Lord; the Lord heard him and restored him. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” Did he not know this before? He did, but no impression was made; at this time in his life, after must damage was done and with many regrets, the remainder of his life had a new outlook.
    Perhaps Manasseh, in these later years, made an impression on his son Josiah. It was Josiah, at 8 years of age and Judah last great king, who heard the Book of the Law as it was read in his presence, the Book that was once lost but now found, it was this great king who humbled himself before the Lord. It was this great king who called on his people to restore their hearts and humble themselves before the Lord. It was this last great king who took the lead in doing this. It was this king who started a national religious restoration unlike any king before him.
    In the New Testament church, we have the same thing today. There are many who are baptized but have not set the Lord apart in their heart to love Him and serve Him. If they say they have love for Him, their love is so distorted they are not sure what it means in application. So distracted are they by other things (work, family, recreation, aggravations, etc.), any attention to the Lord is in the “leftover category.”
    Reading? “I don’t have time for that!” Consequently, as it was with the Israelites, those who think this way today do not have impressed on the heart the Word of the Lord. If the Lord makes no impression on the heart, what does? The ways of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the way of thinking that a person incorporates wherein one believes he or she doing what is right, or what they think is right. But this approach can NEVER be pleasing to the Lord! Why? It is a corrupted way of thinking, a way of thinking that is deceived by one’s own heart (cf. Jer. 10:23; 17:9).
    When the Lord impresses Himself on a heart of His servant lives are changed.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Monday, November 2, 2020

It’s About Time

By Edd Sterchi

If there is someone
Who’s made your life greater
Be sure to tell them
Sooner, not later

If there is someone
Who’s brightened your way
Don’t wait till tomorrow
Thank them today

If there is someone
Deserving your bow
Then do it, please do it
Do it right now

Potential exists
In every minute
The time to show love
Is while we are in it. 
- 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/


Opening Their Treasures

By Jeff Arnette

     The story of Jesus’ birth is a powerful and important story for all Christians. The birth of Jesus had such an impact on the entire world that, early in the fourth century (AD 336), the holiday we call Christmas was widely celebrated all over the East and West. The impact of the coming of the Christ was, as Paul said in Galatians 4:4, at just the right time. A time God had been promising to every generation of His people when the long-awaited Messiah would come and save us from ourselves. Starting with Genesis 3:15 all the way through to Malachi 4:2, God has promised that He is sending us a “Sun of Righteousness” who would come with healing in His wings. Make sure to take the time to read the story of Jesus, especially the story of His birth, this Christmas season.
     One passage that has always stood out to me, as important and often overlooked in the Church of Christ, is Matthew 2:11. In this story, wise men from the east, arrive in Jerusalem seeking the newborn King of the Jews. After some direction from the chief priests and scribes, they make their way to Bethlehem. Miraculously, they saw a special star in the sky, followed it, and eventually arrived at the house where the child Jesus and His parents were staying. Going into the house and seeing the child, they fall down and worship Him. Then, in an act of great worship and devotion, they open up their treasures and give gifts to Jesus. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were the most expensive gifts available at the time and they spared no expense for this new King.
     Shouldn’t we as believers and Christians follow their example and offer gifts to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? There are five gifts that we should all consider giving to Jesus.
     We should give Him our time by devoting time to serving Him, studying about Him, worshipping Him, and being His representatives in a world He died to save.
     We should give Him our treasures by giving the first and best that we have. The treasures of our hearts, minds, lives, and money to Him every day we are blessed to have in this world.
     We should give Him our talents by giving to Him those special passions, skills, and desires that are gifts from Him. Every person has special talents and skills that Jesus has blessed you with to use for the betterment of this world.
     We should give Him our tongues by speaking about Him every day, praising Him in all that do and say, and assembling with His saints to worship and celebrate all the gifts He has given to us.
    “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11, ESV).

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/ 
                  

Thanksgiving Thoughts

By Johnny Hester

     From time to time I am reminded of the need to examine my personal prayer life. With Thanksgiving week approaching, this seems to be an opportune time to do so again. In a recent mailing I found a quote from the late G.K. Wallace.
     Brother Wallace was highly esteemed as a preacher, educator and author. It was my privilege to attend one of his Bible course offerings at Freed-Hardeman College back in the mid-sixties. The following is a quote from his autobiography:
Prayer is misunderstood by many of us who call upon God.  We think of prayer simply as a fire escape.  Prayer to us is something to be used only in an emergency.  Prayer is to be used by us only when sickness and sorrow come into our lives.  We should understand that God did not give us the privilege of prayer to be used only in time of trouble.  It is not simply a ‘fox-hole’ comfort” (G. K. Wallace, Autobiography and Retirement Sermons, Sermon on “Prayer,” p. 165).
    Brother Wallce’s observations regarding prayer reminded me of the inspired words of the apostle Paul found in Ephesians 5:15-21, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
    Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,  
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. 
- Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at johnnyhester@yahoo.com


Victory in Jesus

By Rob Albright

    Challenges and struggles affect all Christians during this journey we are on. Once a person becomes “in Christ” through baptism (Romans 6:1-4) the journey and walk with Jesus is just starting. If we are going to have “victory in Jesus,” we must be in Jesus and continue to live faithfully to Him by living according to God’s will.
    Yes, there will be those temptations and cares of the world that challenges us and keep us away from Bible study and increasing our faith. We become weak and a target for Satan. So, we must be studious and grow stronger in our faith and be ready to handle those attacks from Satan (Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 12:1-2).
    Ultimate victory will come to the steadfast (1 Cor. 15:58). There is a reward. There is the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8). So, we must “keep on, keeping on.”

- 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/