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Monday, May 10, 2021

Cow Horns

By Larry Pasley

    “Mister, why doesn’t this cow have any horns?” asked the young lady from a nearby city on field trip to the country.
    The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone, “Well, ma’am, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with horns. Sometimes we keep’em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young ‘uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in, and that stops ‘em cold. Still, there are some breeds of cattle that never grow horns. But the reason this cow don’t have no horns, ma’am, is ‘cause it’s a horse.”

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    The woman was obviously ignorant about farm animals. Hopefully she learned a lesson from the encounter.
    The apostle Paul talks about people who are always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7
    He also told the Thessalonians that some would be destroyed because they did not love the truth.
    2 Thessalonians 2:9-12  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
    Some people reject the truth of God because they preferred the pleasure of their righteousness.
    It is a frightening thing that God will allow such people to believe “the” lie. The definite article “the” before “lie” is probably referring to the lie that Satan told Eve in the garden of Eden, “that they would not die for their disobedience.
    Many today believe that lie. They think that God will overlook their sins. But, we are told that the times of ignorance, God will no longer overlook but command all men everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30.
    It would be like the farmer allowing the woman to remain ignorant about the cow horns and allowing her to continue to believe the horse was a cow because she didn’t want to learn anything different.
    The truth sets us free in many ways. It sets us free from ignorance and it sets us free from “the lie” that Satan wants us to believe; that God will not punish us for our sins but allow us to continue to live sinful lives without consequence.
    Why are people lost? Some are lost because of their ignorance. Some are lost because they love sin. But all are lost because of their disobedience to the gospel.
    2 Thessalonians 1:6-10  since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
    May we choose not to remain in ignorance but to accept God’s truth so we can be freed from our sin and live eternally with Him.
    With love and concern,
- 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

All Else Surpassing

By Adam Faughn

    There are a dozen or so different hymns we typically sing in preparation for the Lord's Supper. Sometimes, due to familiarity with the hymns, we may struggle to concentrate on the words, but we should always strive to concentrate on them, as these songs are meant to help us focus on an essential portion of our worship.
    One of those songs is called "When We Meet in Sweet Communion" (in some songbooks, it is entitled "The Lord's Supper") by Tillit S. Teddlie. Each line of the song is powerful, but there is one line  that often makes me think   a   great   deal.   It   is   the opening portion of the chorus, in   which   we   sing,   "precious feast, all else surpassing." As with   many   poetic   lines,   the meaning of this could be taken a couple of different ways, but it seems to me we are singing the truth that this feast –the Lord's Supper –is greater than any other meal we could ever eat.
    While the list of reasons why that is true could go on and on, here are five reasons why these few moments should mean so much to us; more than any other meal.
1.  Connection with the Savior. When instituting this meal, Jesus   stated   that   He   would "drink it new" with His followers in    the    Kingdom    (Matthew 26:29).   Considering   that   the kingdom and the Church are synonymous   (Matthew   16:16-19), each  time we partake of this meal, Jesus is right there with us. We are connected with Him through our obedient faith as we remember what He has done.
2.  Memory of the Cross. Famously, Jesus stated that the Lord's Supper was to be done in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). Each of the emblems is meant to take our minds back to the cross; the bread  representing His body and the fruit of the vine representing  His blood. Each time we eat this feast, it should be a powerful time of remembering the totality of all that happened for our salvation at Calvary. In no other act of worship are all our senses involved in this way, so our memory should be stirred deeply through what we are doing.
3.  Proclamation of Victory. The Lord's Supper is to be eaten week after week by faithful Christians "until He comes" (1  Corinthians 11:26). It is a proclamation of what Jesus did  for us all those years ago and what it means to each of us in our spiritual lives. Knowing what He did at Calvary and knowing that we are doing this until He returns at the end of time, we are proclaiming victory over sin and death so the world might know that Jesus is Lord.
4.    Togetherness of the Saints. The New   Testament makes clear that there is a "together" aspect to the Lord's Supper. Though it is eaten individually,   Christians   gather for   this   purpose   (Acts   20:7) and encourage one another by being present at the table. Further,   Christians around   the world gather for this purpose each week, so we are able to know that our Christian family is connected by this feast each and every Lord's Day.
5.  Reflection on Our Lives. Though the Lord's Supper typically does not last all that long each week, it still provides us with a precious time to reflect on what is most important  in our lives. In fact, we are commanded to examine ourselves during this time (1 Corinthians 11:28)   and   realize   that   any "worthiness" we have is only true because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
    At no other meal or feast could all of these things be true. Further, there is no way that any man-made meal could ever have these things be true each and every time it is eaten. But this is not our supper; it is the Lord's Supper. So, as long as we are faithfully partaking, each of these things is true throughout the feast, and we are the beneficiaries of great blessings in our spiritual lives by partaking each week. It truly is a precious feast, "all else surpassing."
- 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.


Living Above and Beyond

By Joe Chesser
          
    The people in God’s Kingdom are special. As Jesus described them, they are in the world but no longer of the world (John 17.14-16). Kingdom people have been given the unique ability to rise above and beyond the world while still living in it. Kingdom people have been rescued from Satan’s dark dominion and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus (Colossians 1.13-14). Kingdom people have been born again into a living hope (John 3.3-5; Titus 3.3-6; 1 Peter 1.3-4). Kingdom people are special.
    Because Kingdom people have been rescued from Satan and the world, God expects His people to live above and beyond the world around them. Since we have been raised with Christ (Romans 6.3-4; Ephesians 2.6; Colossians 3.1), God’s people are no longer to have hearts set on earthly things, but on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our focus is now to be on living above and beyond the world around us.
    Much of what this means is explained for us by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. He often said, “You have heard that it was said … but I say to you” (6.21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). Things have changed. Jesus gives us a new vision of what it means to live for God. Treasures are to be stored in heaven (6.19-20). Stop worrying about life (6.24-34). Turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love your enemies, share with those who ask (6.38-44). These are things those who live above and beyond the world do because Kingdom people now have a heart for God, not the world (Matthew 6.33; 12.33-37). As new creatures, the old things have passed away and the new things have replaced them (2 Corinthians 5.17).
    The exciting thing about all of this is that we don’t have to do this by ourselves. Kingdom people have been given the power from God to rise up and live above and beyond the world. God not only saves us; He empowers us to live the new life. For the church He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3.20-21). He strengthens us with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3.16) to help and guide us (Romans 8.5-14). God enables us to know the depth of His love that goes beyond knowledge (Ephesians 3.18-19). He offers His people a peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4.7) and the ability to do what they cannot do by themselves (2 Corinthians 8.1-5). He gives wisdom and courage those who ask (James 1.5; Acts 4.31). He gives comfort when we are tired and burdened (Matthew 11.28-30).
    What a Mighty God we serve! He calls us to live above and beyond this world!   
    “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him” (Ephesians 1.18-19 NLT).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


God’s Use Of Water In Salvation

By Joe Slater

    You body is about 60% water. For me, that’s around sixteen gallons! Water covers over 70% of Earth’s surface. The U.S. Geological Survey says all the water in the atmosphere, on the surface, and under the ground totals over 332 million cubic miles! Obviously, water plays a huge role in our lives.
    God has chosen to use water numerous times to bring salvation to people. For example, He used water to save a Syrian leper from his terminal disease (see 2 Kings 5:1-14). H2O has no inherent healing properties, but God chose to use water to cleanse Naaman when he obeyed by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan.
    Peter wrote that Noah & his family “were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). We usually think of the ark as the instrument that kept them from drowning, but that wasn’t Peter’s point. God used water to save them from the corrupt world all around them. The New American Standard and English Standard versions totally miss this vital point in their erroneous paraphrase, “brought safely through the water.” The text says “saved by (i.e. by means of) water”!
    Peter went on to say that just as Noah was saved by means of water, “there is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism” (1 Peter 3:21). Again, the chemical element H2O has no power to wash away sin. But God has chosen to use water in His plan to save sinners.
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be
baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name
of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
- 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


The Face of Grace

By Edd Sterchi

G is for the Goodness
     You have shown to me.
R is for Redemption
     Giv’n from Calv’ry’s tree.
A is for Atonement
     I’m pardoned, full and free.
C is for Charity
     Greater than the eye can see.
E is Everlasting
     Which now in heav’n I’ll be.
I’m thankful for your GRACE, dear God
     May I always show my glee.
- 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/


Monday, May 3, 2021

What a Difference a Day Makes!

By Bill Brandstatter

    My youngest grandson just had a birthday. It was his first double-digit birthday. He is now a big 10 years old. His birthday was a big day for all of the family. As grandchildren grow it causes us to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. I have realized daily the expression “time flies.” I remember when he was born. I have seen pictures of our grandson recently when he was little. Now he is ten and it’s hard to comprehend. The writer James told of life and stated, “It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NKJV) Reflection is good for the soul. It causes us to look at where we are and where we ought to be. The Psalmist stated, regarding life, “For it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psa. 90:10).
    Where have I been? The past life is gone. The present is now. Whatever mistakes I made in the past I need to forget and move on from them. The apostle Paul had to remind himself to do that. He stated he was “forgetting those things which were behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (Phil.3:13). I can’t change the past. I can make the present better.
    Where am I now? God is concerned about where we are now. The urgency of the moment is expressed in several Bible passages. Paul wrote, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). We should be “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16).
    Where will I be in the future? I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. The best way to prepare for the future is to prepare now. The future happens with the dawn of every new day. As one person stated, “Today is the start of the rest of your life.” My entrance into heaven depends on what I do while here on earth. I have the chance now to do what I must to enter heaven one day. What a difference a day can make. We must obey Jesus today, so that we can see Him tomorrow. (John 12:48; Heb. 5:8, 9)
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Image And Allegiance

By Joe Slater

    April 15 typically involves long lines at the Post Office as procrastinators mail those dreaded 1040 forms along with a sizeable check to the U.S. Treasury. We have extra time this year due to circumstances beyond our control, but it just delays the inevitable!
    Nobody enjoys paying taxes. No doubt much of our tax money is spent unwisely, to say the least. Nevertheless, Romans 13:7 says, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
    When Jesus walked this earth, His enemies tried to trap Him with the controversy over Jews paying taxes to the pagan government in Rome. “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22). If Jesus just said, “Yes, pay the taxes,” they could claim He wasn’t a loyal Jew. But if He said, “No don’t pay,” they could accuse Him of treason against the government. As always, the infinitely wise Jesus recognized their ungodly motives and gave them an answer they couldn’t use against Him. “‘Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?’ They answered and said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Luke 20:23-25).
    The coin bore Caesar’s image. Caesar had a right to require it in tax. People bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). He has a legitimate claim on our service. There is no conflict between the two. As we pay our taxes this week or in weeks to come, may we be mindful to render to God that which is due to Him!
- 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


Recipe for Building a Better Church

By Gerald Cowan

    “Join the church of your choice.”  The determinative word there is not join or choice.  It is your. Not something someone else chooses for you or imposes upon you (such as communism, which is not really ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people” as in democracy). As Adolf Hitler mandated a Volkswagen (literally “people’s car”) so certain countries have mandated a “state religion”  (such as Islamic, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, etc) or a “national church” (such as Church of England, Church of Sweden, etc). There’s a world-wide phenomenon in nominal Christianity: the creation and proliferation of churches to  meet the requirements and desires of the people who will be members in the so-called “purpose-driven” churches where members determine what the church will be and do – these could be called “churches of  the people, for the people, and by the people.” What are the premises, purposes, and promises of such a “people’s church?”
    Some churches are formed to protest against some other church or religious group.  They are commonly labeled as “Protestants,” and they began as a protest against Catholicism, which they feel is not fully or properly Christian. Some are formed to be more exclusive; each one characteristically views itself as “the only true church.” Others are formed to be more inclusive; they view themselves as ecumenical, promoting unity in diversity. Some are organized around a particular doctrinal viewpoint, such as Sabbath or Seventh-day, Presbyter-ruled, emphasizing a certain Method of baptism, initiation, worship, or concept of God – variations and excuses for them seem endless and numberless. The concept of the “purpose driven” churches and members is still popular. 
    Shamefully some are constantly shifting the boundaries and the goal posts of the church to accommodate cultural and ethnic factors (not Biblical). As Neil Armstrong famously said in July 1969, as ostensibly the first human to step on the moon, “That’s one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind,”  when stepping on the moon, some insist now that every cultural shift – such as “gay liberation” and the embrace of gender variations – is a giant leap forward for mankind (in truth such things are a giant step backwards, a retreat into abysmal ignorance and darkness and a repudiation of truth).  So, to appease our cultural and ethnic tension we are accosted by black church, white church, indigenous church, gay, transgender or non-binary church, messianic Jewish church, etc, etc –  ad infinitum ad nauseum. Some want to provide a “one size fits all” church  – a “Community Church” –  where every person can feel he or she belongs and is welcomed into a loose coalition rather than strict doctrinal or creedal exclusivity. It is assumed that man himself determines and adjusts all things to suit himself and to judge whether anything meets his current desires and values. It is assumed that man himself is able to shape his own life and destiny, therefore religion must evolve to accommodate man’s evolving nature and evolving culture – man must build himself a church that “meets his needs.” Protagoras was a  5th Century BC pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that, “Man is the measure of all things,” interpreted by Plato to mean there is no absolute objective truth. Whatever individuals deem to be the truth is true – man by man himself is judged, each person’s judgment of himself is the only valid one. This concept is popular today: whatever you believe is “your truth” and is valid for you – let your conscience be your guide and ignore those who disagree with you. The New Testament of the Bible, being about 2,000 years old, is not “new” enough – God and His Bible need an update. How arrogant is man!  But. . . .
    . . . . Without a valid existing all-knowing God who presents and upholds absolute truth any church or any religion is invalid and irrelevant. Islam claims Allah is God – some nominal Christians foolishly believe and claim Allah and the God of the Bible are one and the same, that Allah is simply God by another name. But the Bible clearly states that is a lie. The first three of the ten commandments assert that there is but one God and His people must not countenance any others (Exodus 20:1-7). The Jews knew that the Lord our God is one, and there is no other – He alone is to be worshipped and served (Deuteronomy 6:1-5). The same is true for Christians – all supposed gods other than the God of the Bible are idols, no matter who believes in them and acknowledges them (1 Corinthians 8:1-6).  Buddhism has no god(s) – Gautama Buddha himself was/is not a god. Some claim to honor all gods and are willing to accommodate any new deities that may be invented, as for example in Hinduism, the Masonic Lodge, etc. Catholicism and all of  so-called Christendom claim to honor the God of the Judeo-Christian  Bible. But that necessarily  raises the question: Does God accept and approve all or any of them?  Since they all differ in some ways they cannot all be valid, accepted and approved by God. Unless the Lord God builds the house those who build it labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). As co-workers with God we are to build up the house of God, the church of the Lord (1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, 2 Corinthians 6:1-3).
   
HOW CAN WE BUILD UP THE BETTER CHURCH?

    Obviously we cannot hope to build something better than what the Lord himself has built and established for us. Making up something more compatible with the personal preferences and desires of those who attend cannot please God if it differs from His will and plan and stipulation.  I have noticed that most of us are concerned about any wolves that may be threatening the church, but we do not recognize all of them because they have learned they are easily detected when they come dressed as sheep.  Currently many of the shepherds (pastors and overseers, leaders of the flock) are wolves – they are much more effective as shepherds than they could ever be as member sheep mingling with the true sheep of the true Shepherd.
    The Lord has built and is building His house, the church. As noted, if He does not build it those who do try to build it or one to replace it are  laboring in vain (Psalm 127:1a). Remember that it is intended to be the Lord’s church, not yours or mine or ours.
    We must build upon the foundation of the Lord himself as laid by his chosen apostles (Ephesians 3:20), upon the words the Lord himself has delivered, not upon the words of men about His words and sometimes interpreting his words in such ways as to pervert His message (Matthew 15:3 and 9, Galatians 1:6-9). No self-proclaimed  preacher, prophet, or pope can claim to know the mind of God better than the Holy Spirit-guided men chosen by the Lord to speak for Him. Silver and golden tongued orators are no better than cardboard bells and dry clattering sticks pretending to be oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11) unless they faithfully present the Lord’s words. You can’t build up the Lord’s house by hanging your own portrait in it.
    Have we forgotten the motto about calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways? Why hesitate to  speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where the Bible is silent? 
    Why are we so concerned with the looks and d├ęcor of the building in which we meet and so little concerned about what is said and done in the building? That’s a bit like insisting on a genuine leather cover and gilded edges of the pages in the Bible but not knowing what is said in it. The container cannot be more important than the contents. We are not called upon to build a better building but rather to build up those who meet in it. The people, not the building, are the church. We are to build each other up in the most holy faith (Jude 20).
    We build up the church by showing ourselves to be faithful members of it, sharing the Lord, sharing the word of the Lord, sharing fellowship in the Lord, sharing love in the Lord, and being holy people by the Lord’s definition (Galatians 5:22-26, 2 Peter 1:2-12).  Be the people of God in deed and truth, not only in words – what you are usually speaks more forcefully than what you say.
    To outsiders emphasize more what the Lord can and will do for them than what they can do for Him. To the insiders, the members,  emphasize what they can do for each other but especially for the Lord and for His church.
- 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


Redbuds and Dogwoods

By Joe Chesser

    Every year at this time our part of the world (southeast Missouri) is blessed with the blossoms of redbuds and dogwoods.  In the spring the redbuds sprout their purplish brilliance, followed in a couple of weeks by the equally brilliant white and pink blossoms of the dogwoods. In many areas these trees are planted in such a way as to accent each other.  Our older redbud is blooming brilliantly this year, and a younger one is just beginning to bloom a bit. It has taken a few years, but our dogwood will also bloom soon.
    Each year the spring plants and trees offer us a vivid reminder of God.  It’s not evolution that maintains the laws of nature – it’s God!  If evolution was true (and of course it’s not) things would be constantly inconsistent.  You would never know from one year to the next how evolution would have worked it “magic” and altered the redbuds to start producing yellow blossoms or begin blooming in September instead of late March.  But we know that won’t happen because God is in control of nature and will maintain his laws of nature as long as the world exists.  One of the great things the book of Hebrews says about Jesus is that He not only created the entire universe, but He also sustains “all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:2-3).  That’s why every spring the redbuds and dogwoods put out their beautiful colors.  Because of God, you can count on it year after year!
    Jesus consistently demonstrates His power over the physical realm, and because of this we have reason to believe that He also can and will exercise His power over the spiritual realm.  Redbuds and dogwoods give us evidence for believing that Jesus has all power and all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).  When Jesus healed the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12) He made the point: “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…,’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take up your mat and go home.’”  Jesus used the visible, healing a crippled man, to expand their vision to also see that He could heal the spiritually crippled.
    If we choose to, redbuds and dogwoods will do the same for us.  They give evidence of His creative power.  They give evidence of His power to maintain His laws.  They give evidence that if He can do that each year, He also can do so much more.  Jesus can give us renewal, new birth (John 3:3-5).  Jesus can maintain our spiritual relationship with him year after year through His power working within us (Ephesians 3:14-21).
    We have no excuses for refusing to believe in Jesus’ power.  King David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).  Paul added that “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
    Remember this when you see redbuds and dogwoods every year.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

A Better Answer

By Ron Thomas

    Three men on the cross, One in the center gathered much attention. On one side, a man on the crucifixion lumber called out to the One in the middle, “Save us!” while on the other side of the One in the center said, “Lord remember me.” The other, who cried out “Save us” did so with no contrition. Two were prepared for eternity.
    It illustrates life. We make choices, some of those choices are bad, very bad. Some of those choices are good, but the good decisions made are interpreted by others in a very negative way. They feel threatened by what they don’t understand. It’s not that they can’t understand, it’s their choice to not understand. It takes time, time is a precious commodity and “I have no time for this!” is the frequent reply (spoken or unspoken). “I am too busy raising children, working to provide for my family...” and on and on it goes.
    We live in a politically divided world, much more so than anything one can read about that occurred in the late 1960’s, perhaps equaling the era leading up to the Civil War (perspectives vary on this). Very disheartening. I have a very hard opinion and response to what is going on, but I am old enough to know that I am in no position to know what I need to know and to do what I would like to do. I really have no time for this and, moreover, I want to give no time to this. I can, perhaps I should, but I won’t. So, what do I do?
Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; Fear Jehovah, and depart from evil: It will be health to thy navel, And marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:5-8, ASV).
Do you have a better answer? 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Monday, April 26, 2021

Lost Faith or Stopped Believing?

By Lance Cordle

    I don’t want to appear “picky” or overly analytical, but there are times when I fear that Christians allow commonly used phrases to shape their way of thinking. One such phrase is “I lost my faith.”
    As you may likely know, “faith” is a noun that represents the result of a verb, “believe.” A person believes and the resulting condition as a matter of continuation of that action is “faith.” As far as I can tell, the predominant use of the two concepts by the writers of the New Testament is to emphasize the action of the person in believing. For example, the book of John was “written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, ESV). Almost one hundred times, John used a form of the Greek word for “believe” in that book. Note also that when the writer of the book of Hebrews commended Old Testament heroes such as Abel, Abraham, and Joseph for their faith, emphasis was placed on the action of the person involved (Hebrews 11:4, 8, 22, ESV).
    On the other hand, “faith” is sometimes used as the system of faith which the person believes. For example, faith can be departed from (2 Timothy 4:1); contended for (Jude 3); and was said to dwell in Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). However, I believe theses concepts are in the minority an are used in accommodative ways to speak of something that is, in its essence, active. In other words, on departs from the faith by stopping believing one way and beginning to believe in another.
    I think much of the confusion has been brought about by some incorrect teaching on Ephesians 2:8, 9. Those verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). Some teach that “faith” itself is a gift from God. In other words, our action of belief was brought about by God, overruling our will. If you will examine this passage closely, however, you will see that the “gift” is the “have been saved” part. The “faith” is our act of believing and involves more than mere assent.
    Now, stay with me just a little longer. If we think of faith as a passive thing, that has been given to us (maybe even “passed on), it is much easier to say, “I lost my faith.” It is more accurate and descriptive to say, “I chose to stop believing.” We choose to believe based on a set of evidences presented to us. We also choose to stop believing based on another set of evidences. This principle applies to our children and anyone else who falls away (note the active words) from God. The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the believer who becomes an unbeliever. Let’s make sure we don’t evade it (or allow someone else to do so) by our misuse of language.
- 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


The Need for Jesus

By Bryan McAlister

    Few, if any really, would argue against the pursuit in this life to acquire things like fulfillment, pleasure, contentment, knowledge, or even purpose. In fact, most, even in the world believe such pursuits are the framework of most of our lives. In those pursuits, however we find what we are looking for, we are the better if our search produces the results we have desired. Therein lies the problem most of us face when trying to meet our needs. The approach most in our culture and society would suggest today for meeting our needs comes from a “relative” perspective. What may suit and fulfill the life of “Fred” may not satisfy the desire of fulfillment in the life of “Fred’s” neighbor; but if something else can and does, then that course should certainly be pursued.
    Common ground is difficult to find, when we live in a world where so many opinions exist about nearly every aspect of life. Yet in the long ago there were words written to describe such a ground; where to find it and even how to stand upon it. Through a source greater than philosophy or higher academia, we learn of a message mankind has the privilege to know: “the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:6). Accompanying those words were a prayer that all who would have the opportunity would hear, would not only believe the message; but also, “be filled with all knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col 1:9).
    The common ground for every race, every culture, every country, every government, every family is ground of Jesus, His church, His body, His authority, and His love. The grace of God is in Jesus (Col 1:13). The greatness of God is in Jesus (Col 1:16). The glory of God is in Jesus (Col 1:27). The goal of God is in Jesus (Col 1:29). How desperately our world needs Jesus! How blessed of an occasion it is to come share with you the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to share with all who will hear, “The Need for Jesus!” 
- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Walnut Street Church of Christ in Dickson, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://www.wscoc.com/


Sun Up!

By Joe Chesser
 
    I watched the sun come up the other day. Needless to say, it was awesome. From where I sat, most of my surroundings were only dimly visible in the pre-dawn light. But, I could see the reddish-orange glow on the horizon and knew the sun would appear at any moment. And then … there it was, peeking through the leafless trees. Just a sliver at first, but it quickly began to be fully visible. The more I saw of the sun, the more the dimness around me vanished. How wonderfully things had changed at sun up.
    Then it dawned on me how wonderfully things changed at Son up!
    Two men were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus late one Sunday afternoon. Even though the sun was still up, their hearts were in darkness. Their hopes for the redemption of Israel had been nailed to a cross when Jesus was crucified just three days earlier. This left them downcast, filled with doubts and uncertainties. So, when a stranger approached them, they couldn’t help sharing with him their heartaches and disappointments. They even related to him how some friends had gone to Jesus’ tomb earlier that morning and found it empty. They were at a total loss about what to do.
    Fortunately for them, that stranger turned out to be Jesus. Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. A short time later, as they were breaking bread with Jesus, their eyes were opened. They were no longer in the dark. The Son had risen, now they understood it, now they could see! Even though it was dark outside, they hurried back to Jerusalem to tell their friends that the Lord had risen! The Son is up! Now there’s hope! (Luke 24:13-35).
    Nothing cheers the heart more than the resurrection of Jesus. It gives substance to faith, victory over sin, and purpose to life (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Jesus’ blood frees us from the guilt of sin, but it’s Jesus’ resurrection that gives us hope for life (Romans 6:3-10). Jesus came to be life and light for all (John 1:4).
    The challenge is for us to open our eyes to the light. It may only be a sliver at first, but eventually you can be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 4:12-15). As the light of Jesus grows within you, darkness and doubt will be replaced with faith and hope and peace. You’ll want to tell everyone about it.
    How wonderfully your life will change when you see the Son!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


God Is Judge

By Ed Wittlif

“And the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge” (Psalm 50:6 NASB).
    I have served on several juries (nothing big thankfully). Still, having to make a judgment based on evidence, body language, and even the skill of the prosecutor and defender is not easy. It is difficult since the defendant’s real motive is unknown. It is a most serious process to decide if a person is guilty or not guilty.
    God is called the righteous Judge in II Timothy 4:8. The psalmist tells us that God knows our thoughts; He knows what we are going to say before we say it, He knows where we go, all our actions are seen by Him, and even darkness cannot hide us from Him (Psalm 139).
    When God passes judgment, it is perfect. He knows what was done, what was the attitude, and why. The wool cannot be pulled over His eyes, and persuasive speech will not fool Him.
    The guilty one will be punished, and no innocent one will suffer unjustly. God’s judgments are perfect. We are not left in the dark, for God has revealed the standards by which judgment is measured. The standards are in the Word and shown by Jesus as He dwelt among mankind.
    The standards begin with believing in God, having a submissive obedient attitude, loving God totally, loving our neighbor with a self-sacrificing zeal that seeks their good, and bringing glory to God by our lives as we strive to follow His commandments.
- Ed Wittlif is from Denver, CO; via the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. Joe Slater serves as minister and he may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


Jonah’s “Whale”

By Ron Thomas

    The Lord’s prophet, Jonah, was called upon to preach to a people with a terrible reputation, the Assyrians. Jonah, however, did not like this commission from the Lord so he took flight and fled, in effect, to get someone else to do it. The Lord was not easily avoided! Why did he flee? The Lord’s prophet had a pretty good idea how the Lord would respond if the people to whom he preached turned away from their sins, and he did not seem all that pleased they would do that (4:2). Jonah did not want the Lord’s mercy to be experienced by them. For what reason or reason, we do not know.
    Jonah gets into a boat to Tarshish (uncertain location, perhaps Spain) and hides. The sailors are none the wiser, as another ship-paying traveler gets aboard. Not long into the journey, experienced sailors are perplexed by the violent nature of the sea roaring waves. They have been on the water many times, had many experiences, but this was one of which they knew not from where it came. Their fear turned to “Let us pray to any deity out there in order that we might find one that will spare us!” As they took note of all the passengers, one was sleeping. This perplexed them even more and, no doubt, angered them.
    Jonah is forcibly awakened, explains what he thinks is the problem concerning the tempestuous sea. The experienced sailors and the travelers on board are frightened even more. Jonah proposed a solution, they resist, but then concluded they have no other option but to follow through on Jonah’s suggestion. Having done so, their fright is amplified even more! Yet, in this fright, they learned who Jonah served.
    There are a number of lessons from the Book of Jonah. First, one does not run away from the Lord. It is fruitless for a person to think he can. No matter where a person hides, the Lord is there. This includes, also, the fact there is no thought a person might have but the Lord knows that thought already. Second, the Lord’s prophet (preacher, elder, faithful Christians) should know this better than anyone. Yet, in the quiet of the evening, in the privacy of their homes, admist people they do not know, the ones who know (or should know) don’t act on that knowledge. “Be sure your sin will find you out” Moses said to the people in Numbers 32. Third, a city, community, and country that has the worst of reputations needs the Lord’s message of hope as much as those who are very-well learned in religious matters, not the least of which was the prophet Jonah. Fourth, think about the children, for the Lord did. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


Monday, April 19, 2021

Not Forgotten

By David A. Sargent

     Substitute teachers can face many challenges. Sometimes they can be taken advantage of or be the recipients of some student pranks.  Some substitute teachers, however, are deeply respected and make a profound and lasting influence on the lives of their students. Jose Villaruel, affectionately known as “Mr. V” by his students, was one of those beloved substitute teachers in the Fontana (CA) Unified School District.
     One of Mr. V’s former students, Steven Nava, recently re-connected with his former teacher. Nava has many good things to say about Villaruel. He said Villaruel always acted like a “family figure” to his students. “[Villarruel] was just someone that kind of wanted you to stay on and guide you on that right path.” Nava added: “Mr. V has influenced [me] … to be a better person. He’s taught me to have that drive and that ‘never give up’ attitude whenever facing a struggle in my life and that’s what’s helped me be the person I am now.”
     Those powerful lessons from his teacher were re-emphasized when Nava was recently reunited with him in Fontana. Nava saw Villaruel rummaging in his car, recognized him, and stopped to ask how he was doing. Mr. V, now 77-years-old, opened up to his former student about his struggles. He had been living in his car for the past eight years trying to make ends meet. The pandemic had made his situation worse because he had not had opportunities to work as a substitute teacher to supplement his Social Security income. He had been sending most of his money to help care for his sick wife who was living in Mexico.
     Nava, 21-years-old, was heartbroken to see his beloved teacher going through such a difficult time and vowed to help. Nava created a GoFundMe account and asked his followers on social media to help Mr. V. In just a few days, thanks to the generosity of people throughout the world, Nava was able to raise $27,000 for Villaruel. He presented a check for that amount to Mr. V on his 77th birthday. With the money, Villaruel was able to pay off some debts and prepare to return to his family in Mexico.
     When we were destitute and alone due to our sins, Someone came to our rescue. That Someone was Jesus, the Son of God. He paid our sin debt by dying on the cross for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). He invites us into His family in which we can be under the watchful care of the Father and enjoy fellowship with other members of God’s family, the church. When our situation is bleak and hopeless due to our sin, Jesus offers grace and life, eternal life.
     God will save, add to His family, and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin and prepare for a heavenly home those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
     Alone and struggling because of sin, we have not been forgotten. God loves us and desires to save us. And He will, if we will only submit our lives to Him in 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 “California substitute teacher living in car gets surprise $27,000 check on 77th birthday from former student” by Daniella Genovese, www.foxnews.com.


I Don’t Believe in Organized Religion

By Bill Brandstatter

    Some individuals have used the above phrase when I discuss Christianity and the church with them. I asked one person if he believed in unorganized religion. He stated, “That would be chaos.” It was interesting that he had just told me prior to that about a church service he was thinking about attending. We should, however, want religion to be organized. Christianity is organized for a number of reasons.
    Christianity is organized so we know what is going to happen. Christianity is based on order not chaos. The Bible tells us that God is not the author of confusion in His church (1 Cor. 14:33). Chaos is not what God wants. To a church that was out of order, Paul wrote, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40) God is organized. His message is organized. His people are organized.
    Christianity is organized and we can find harmony. There is a unity of belief and teaching. Paul mentioned that he taught the same thing in every church (1 Cor. 4:17). There was a unity of teaching and doctrine. When a person went from one congregation to another in New Testament times, they saw a harmony in teaching and belief.
    Christianity is organized and we find an organizer. God is the organizer of the religion of Christianity. God had a plan before the world began. He made the plan known in the New Testament times. God had everything organized and ready to be revealed. When the time was right, He sent His Son (Gal. 4:4). When the time was right, God revealed his plan for the church. God had it planned, organized, and ready. It was a mystery that was hidden for ages and was revealed in New Testament times (Col. 1:24-26). God sent His son to die for us and to set up His church. I am thankful for this organization.
    Christianity is organized, and the people are organized. God had a plan for the church before the beginning of the world (Eph. 3:10-11). The church was built on a foundation that was organized (Eph. 2:20). The church had an organized message, the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The teaching was organized. It was called “the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). The church had order in its structure. The early church did not have the preacher in charge. It was made up of elders as overseers (Acts 20:28). Elders were appointed based on certain qualifications (Titus 1:5-8; 1 Tim. 3:1-7). Deacons, also were part of the structure of the early church (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Preachers preached and were evangelists (2 Tim. 4:2, 5).
    We should not only believe in Christianity as an organized religion, but we should want it to be that way. Don’t use  the above statement as a way out of your obligation to God. Believe and obey the One that loves you. He has an organized religion to help you in your walk with Him.
Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Repentance Unto Life

By Joe Slater

    Some of the Jews in the Jerusalem church rebuked Peter for evangelizing the Gentile Cornelius and his household. But after Peter explained, “they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life.’”
    How does God grant repentance to people? After all, repentance is a command! “God now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:31). How can something be both given and commanded?
    Many sincere religious people believe that a lost sinner can do nothing relative to the salvation process; he must passively wait for the Holy Spirit to miraculously put such things as faith and repentance into his heart. But such is not taught in the Bible! If God miraculously put faith and repentance into my heart, but not into yours, would that not be showing partiality? Yet Acts 10:34 states unequivocally that God shows no partiality!
    God grants repentance like He grants us our daily bread – by giving us opportunities and the necessary things to produce it. When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” do we expect God to send down a plate of food miraculously from Heaven? Of course not! He provides the soil, rain, sunshine, etc., necessary for food production. In His providence he grants us health, strength, and opportunities to earn or produce food.
    In similar indirect ways God gives us repentance. His word shows us the need to repent and what will happen if we don’t. And He gives us opportunities to repent before it is too late. That was the main thing with Cornelius. Prior to Acts 10, Gentiles had been excluded from opportunities to hear and obey the gospel. But now God granted them repentance leading to eternal life! 
- 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


Consumed in a Higher Purpose

By Joe Chesser

    I love to read things that seem to jump off the page to challenge and inspire me to be better than I am, to open my mind to greater depths of God’s word, and to motivate me seek the higher calling of God. That happened when I read Mike Ireland’s devotional message for March 23rd in From Morning to Evening: Every Day with Jesus. Based on Matthew 5.38-42 where Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek and to go the extra mile, Ireland wrote: “Our rights have been consumed in a higher purpose: displaying the righteousness of God.”
    In a materialistic, self-centered, rights-oriented world, the words of Jesus just don’t make much sense, even to Christians. We would rather argue about and try to rationalize what Jesus really meant in an effort to skirt around the truth and impact of his words. When we do this long enough our consciences become seared; we continue to live like everyone else around us. We hoard our possessions and insist on our rights. Just let someone slap me or try to force me to do anything I don’t want to do. Go ahead. Sue me.
    Somehow that doesn’t sound much like the righteousness of God towards which Jesus is calling us, does it? It sounds more like the “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” kind of righteousness that had for so long been practiced by the Pharisees and was consuming the hearts of men. Jesus challenges us to be better than that. He said, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5.20). Anyone can live by the rights-oriented “eye for eye” principle, but Jesus’ disciples are to be consumed in a higher purpose … the righteousness of God! Note: God's righteousness is more about being righteous than about doing righteous things.
    When consumed in the higher purpose of being the righteousness of God, turning the other cheek makes sense. So does going the extra mile, lending to anyone who asks, and giving more than is expected. Are these not traits our Righteous God has exhibited time and again? The more we are consumed with the ways of God, the less we will be consumed with ourselves. The more we die to ourselves and follow Jesus (Luke 9.23), the less we will be concerned with our rights and possessions. This transition from “me” to God is a work in progress. It does not happen easily or quickly. But remember Jesus doesn’t call us to something unattainable (unless we try to do it by ourselves). With His help the righteousness of God is an achievable goal.
    Thank you Mike Ireland for the inspiring thought!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Nothing Can Stop Jesus

By Edd Sterchi

* History could not forget Him.
* Temptation could not distract Him.
* Circumstances could not deter Him.
* His enemies could not prevent Him.
* Death could not contain Him.
* Satan could not defeat Him.
* Modern thinking cannot cancel Him.
* And when it comes time for Jesus to come
again, nothing will be able to stop Him.
Are you ready?
- 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/


Monday, April 12, 2021

A Nation of Hate, A Kingdom of Love

By David Bragg

    In an "unscientific study" conducted over Instagram, Matt Shirley was curious about the rivalries one state feels towards another. He asked his 323,000 followers to respond which state their state hates the most. Some are expected …
Illinois hates Indiana.
Missouri and Kansas hate each other.
So, also, do North and South Dakota.
Others are more surprising ...
California, New Mexico, Alaska and Oklahoma hate Texas.
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado all hate California.
And then there are these two ...
New Jersey hates ALL the other states.
Florida hates ... Florida! (Robert Gearty, Fox News)
    Sometimes it does feel like we are living in a world of hate. Tempers flare with little if any provocation. Road rage, workplace violence, domestic abuse, all of these and other expressions of anger simmer just below the surface of polite society.
    How different the world would be if it learned to love as Jesus teaches us to love. His was an unselfish, generous, compassionate kind of love that put the needs of others before His own.
    Thankfully, we, the church, have Jesus' example to guide us in love and to learn from His perfect example to not allow anger and hate to rule our lives.
- 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/

Light or Darkness?

By Joe Chesser

    Have you ever been in a place so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face? When I was a boy I had this experience in Meramec Caverns, the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri. When they turned out all of the lights, it was total darkness. Every direction I looked was only blackness … up, down, forward, backwards, right, left … it didn’t matter. Not a ray of light could be seen anywhere. Even after my eyes adjusted, there was nothing to be seen but darkness.
    Yet, even in the darkest of places, the light of Jesus can be seen when we use our spiritual eyes, the heart. So, no matter how dark it may seem to others around us, even in Meramec Caverns, for anyone who chooses to open their ‘eyes’, Jesus is the true light that illuminates our souls.
    John the Baptist was sent to bear witness to this Light. “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1.9). Jesus later identified himself as that Light: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12).
    I don’t know of anyone who would intentionally choose to live in total darkness when lights were readily available at the flip of a switch. Why would they? How utterly foolish is that? Darkness is often used in Scripture to describe what our spiritual reality is when we follow Satan instead of Christ. “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11.9-10). Paul explained that Jesus came “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 26.18). When our sins are forgiven we are rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1.12-14).
    Since everyone understands the foolishness of intentionally living physically in total blackness, why are so many resistant to walking in the spiritual light with Jesus where his blood continually forgives our sins (1 John 1.7)? Yet, as Jesus told Nicodemus, that’s what many, in fact most (Matthew 7.13-14), are doing: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3.19). The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. God gives each of us the choice whether to live in darkness or light. Jesus explained, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3.21). Jesus is calling us to come out of darkness and live in the light (Ephesians 5.8; 1 Peter 2.9; 1 John 1.5, 7).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

Traveling the Rocky Road

By Edd Sterchi

The road is long, the rocks are large,
But we needn’t go ‘round them all,
For if we muscle, and keep on moving,
We’ll gain more strength for the haul.

The road is tough, the rocks are many,
But they needn’t cause us to slip,
For if we’re careful where we tread,
We’ll more quickly learn how to grip.

The road’s winding, the rocks, unsafe,
But they needn’t bring useless bane,
For when we learn the best steps used,
Though more taken, the more we gain.

The road’s uncertain, the rocks, e’er present,
But we needn’t tread without trust,
The Lord will shine and He will guide,
And the rocks will soon turn to dust!
- 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/


We Need More Bible Study

By Bill Brandstatter

     Before becoming a Christian, Bible study is important. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). After a person becomes a Christian, Bible study is vital. How I divide the Bible and how I handle it is important. (2 Tim. 2:15) It is significant to understand the importance of the Bible and why we need to study it on a daily basis.
     The Bible is God speaking to us. Paul indicated, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Peter acknowledged that “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21) God speaks from His Word. God speaks to us by His Son. (Heb. 1:2) Are you listening?
     The Bible is a lamp and a light. (Ps. 119:105) The Bible can help us to better understand life and its difficulties. It can also provide us with all that we need to face temptation and all that this world throws at us. Paul advises that we “put on the whole armor of God.” (Eph. 6:11) Without the Bible in our lives, Satan cannot be resisted effectively.
     The Bible is man’s source for the future. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I have a future and I know it is in God’s hands. After death, every person has a future. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27 NKJV) That future involves eternity. Jesus said the future is either everlasting punishment or eternal life. (Matt. 25:46) Where I spend eternity depends on what I do now. The words of Jesus and our obedience to them will be the determining factor in judgment. (Jno.12:48; Heb. 5:8, 9)
     The Bible is our source for the right equipment in life. Paul wrote that through the Scriptures, “the man of God may be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Tim. 3:17 NKJV) Man cannot provide the equipment that the Bible does. How equipped are we to handle tragedy in our lives?
     Remember, Paul stated, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Without the Bible I would not have the faith I need to get through this life or get to eternity.
     Do you need to study the Bible more? God will bless us and heaven could be our home if we “receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/