Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Story of God’s Faithfulness

By Brian Mitchell

 

    We need to develop a deeper appreciation for the faithfulness of the God we serve. The Bible declares that God is characterized by faithfulness. In Exodus 34:6, God says of himself, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Scripture also reveals the fact that God is faithful to his promises. Joshua told the people of Israel, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled...” (Josh. 23:14).

    God’s faithfulness can be clearly seen in the book of Ruth. The story of Ruth is told in a small, four chapter book, sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel in the OT. I want to begin by drawing our attention to a striking phrase in our Scripture reading from the book of Ruth - "The Lord came to the aid of his people" (1:6). The King James Version puts it: "The Lord has visited his people."

    I think that it is fair to say that all of us have known the problems of life - and they come at all stages in life’s journey. During those times, have you ever been tempted to ask, "Where is God?" When faced daily by more deadly news from the Ukraine or the death toll and destruction from the coronavirus or monkey pox, we sometimes wonder – Where is God? The matter becomes even more pressing when we are faced with our own suffering and losses in life?

    There’s nothing like a story to bring to life the issues of this tension between God’s way and the way of the world, of searching for the pathway of faith in times when evil seems rampant and life seems unmanageable. A practical example of God in action can be of enormous benefit in sustaining the believer and enabling him or her to cope with the uncertainties and apparent meaninglessness of much of what we experience. I trust that each of us will be able to identify with the Bible story of Naomi and Ruth in some personal and practical way.

    Whatever our circumstances, I believe that all of us can benefit from our own experience with a faithful God. The book of Ruth has been called "the most beautiful short story in the world." In many respects, it deals with ordinary people and unimportant matters. Yet it deals with them in such a way as to show that God is active in the affairs of human beings. God works his purposes out and blesses those that put their trust in him.

    If its message had to be summarized in one word, it could be the word "faithfulness", in the sense that God is there - God cares, God rules and God provides. But faith in such a God is the common factor to all the incidents in the book. As we look at the experience of Naomi, we will be able to trace the work of God’s faithful care. The story occurs during the time of the judges of Israel, when the cycle of disobedience, defeat, and deliverance happened over and over again. God is faithful.
- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at https://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net


Sparrows

By Joe Slater

 

“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6, NASB).

    I’m not an avid bird watcher. I do enjoy seeing the Robins return in the spring along with the gorgeous red Cardinals. And we keep a hummingbird feeder in the back yard and laugh at the antics of the few who drink there as they dive bomb one another. But I don’t even notice the sparrows. They’re drab; they’re dirty; they don’t sing. I can’t imagine they’d be any good to eat, though I suppose that’s what Jesus had in mind when He mentioned people paying a pittance to purchase them.

    I simply don’t care about sparrows. But God does! They are a part of His creation (day five, Genesis 1:20). He notices if even one of them falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29). That being the case, Jesus assures us that God is also keenly aware of us. “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7), animal rights extremists to the contrary notwithstanding.

    I’m glad God cares for sparrows. I’m even more glad that He cares for me even though I’m not much to look at and there is plenty about me that is undesirable. Can you relate?

    I need to check my attitude toward other people, especially those whose behavior I find obnoxious. God cares about them even as he does about you and me. They need Jesus just like we do. Our Lord “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). My job is not to despise them, but to lovingly share the gospel with them.

    Can you relate?

- 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 ekklesia of Christ

By Clifton Angel

 

    The word ekklesia is first found in the New Testament first in Matthew 16:18. It is most often translated as "church," "assembly," or "congregation." It is used to refer to variety of assemblies (even Israel in the wilderness, cf. Acts 7:38); however, when it is referring to the church that Jesus built, it becomes much more specific. If you will, read Matthew 16:13–19, and let us consider some details revealed.

    The ekklesia (church) of Christ belongs to Jesus. He said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). A man in Coldwater once asked me, "Why do you call yourselves the church of Christ?" In short, I noted we belong to Christ. Our name shows His possession of us. We are His church. This is how Jesus would have it.

    The ekklesia of Christ is built upon Jesus. He had asked His apostles, "Whom say ye that I am?" Peter responded, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15–16). Jesus noted that Peter's knowledge of this was revealed by God, not man. He continued by giving Peter his most popular name: Peter. His name was actually Simon from birth, but Jesus gave him this name that means "small stone." Jesus followed this with, "Upon this rock, I will build my church." (Matthew 16:18). Many say that "this rock" points back to Peter's new name. Rather, it points back to Peter's confession of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. The word Jesus used for "this rock" is a very large rock, a bedrock, a foundation. This also coincides with the fact that He is the chief cornerstone, which gives the pattern and foundation for every other stone of the building (1 Peter 2:5–7; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11).

    The ekklesia of Christ is built by Jesus. He said, "I will build" (Matthew 16:18). He builds His church by adding to it those who are saved (Acts 2:47). Those who are saved are those who believe and obey (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 11:6). Those who make up the church are "small stones" (e.g., Peter, Matthew 16:18) compared to Jesus, yet "living stones" (1 Peter 2:5) because of Jesus.

    Are you a "living stone" following the pattern of the "chief cornerstone," Jesus? Has He added you to His church because you believe and obey?
- 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/


Who are the Called of God?

By Gerald Cowan

 

    It is easy enough to establish the fact that God is the one who calls people, to himself through Jesus Christ, by means of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:12-14, 2 Thess. 2:13-17). Much is said about accepting and following the calling of God, by conforming to His will (Rom. 12:1-2). “(God) saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:9). “Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1). “Press on toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14. One might think it is easy to identify “the called, the called of God” (Rom. 8:28, 1 Cor. 1:24, Rom. 1:6-7). But Jesus’ statement that “many are called, but few chosen” in Mt. 20:16 and 22:14 makes it clear that the term called is used in more ways than one. We will find that those who are  “the called” belong to a very small and select group.

 

EQUIVALENT TERMS IN SEVERAL CATEGORIES.

    Some common religious words indicate specific action on God's part, usually related to something done by the persons involved..

•    “CALLED OUT” (EKKLESIA).  Mt. 16:18 Implies “called together.”

•     SANCTIFIED.  2 Thess. 2:13, cf Rom. 1:6-7 “called (to be) saints” – designated as saints of God in Christ.

•    CHOSEN.  2 Th. 2:13, cf Eph. 1:4, Mt. 20:16 “few are chosen.” Only those who respond properly to the calling are chosen,

•    ELECT.  1 Thess. 1:4

•    ADOPTED. Eph. 1:5

•    ACCEPTED. Eph. 1:6

 

    Some words and expressions indicate results in the person’s condition.

•    FORGIVEN.  Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14

•    REDEEMED.  Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14

•    SAVED.  Acts 2:47

•    In FELLOWSHIP with God and Christ.  1 John 1:3

•    CITIZENSHIP in the heavenly kingdom.  Phil. 3:20

•    WORTHY of the kingdom. 2 Th. 1:5, cf 1 Th. 2:12, Eph. 4:1, Col. 1:10, Rev. 3:4

•    RIGHTEOUS.  Phil. 3:9, Rom. 10:3-4, Rom. 4:22-25

•    BLAMELESS.  Phil. 2:15; have been corrected and forgiven, are no longer blamed for uncorrected and unforgiven sins.

•    “Partakers of the DIVINE NATURE.”  2 Peter 1:4

 

SOME COMMON ERRORS MADE IN IDENTIFYING  "THE CALLED."

    The term “member of the church” is not necessarily equivalent to “called” – at least not in the sense of right standing with God and valid hope of eternal salvation.

•    What of members who  from grace”?  Gal. 5:4

•     What of those who fail to obey apostolic doctrines? 2 Th. 3:6, 14

•    What of the trouble makers and false teachers? Rom. 16:17

•    What of those who are wilfully ignorant and not growing in faith and application of faith?  2 Peter 3:5, 14-18, Heb. 5:11-14

•    What of those who are negligent in service?  Heb. 2:1-4

•    Is selective obedience (same principle as selective disobedience) sufficient for salvation?  John 15:14,  Mt. 28:18-20, James 4:17

    A common error:  assuming that anything done “in the name of the Lord” or “to the glory of the Lord” is acceptable to Him.

•    “In the name of the Lord” is certainly a required factor.  Col. 3:17, Eph. 5:20

•     But “in the name of the Lord” means “as commanded, taught or authorized by the Lord.”  Mt. 28:18-20, Mt. 7:21-29

•    Everything one does should be “to the glory of God.”  1 Cor.

    10:31, Mt. 5:16

•     Falsely claiming the Lord’s authority and approval and doing things contrary to His will do not bring glory to Him, and may cause others to blaspheme God. cf Rom. 2:24

    The claimed authority to legislate for God or interpret His word in keeping with changing moral and social or political contexts is the fallacy which has produced the spectacle of a divided and divisive religion parading itself as “Christianity” or “Christendom,” with the different kinds of churches, all claiming to be part of the church of Christ.

 

THE KEY TO IDENTIFYING “THE CALLED” IS  “CONTINUED FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST.”

    One becomes part of “the called” only by obeying the gospel of Christ.  2 Thess. 2:13-15, cf Heb. 5:9, Rom.6:17; cf also 2 Thess. 1:8

    The Lord calls us to abide in His word – to receive the truth and not depart from it.  John 8:24, 31-32 and 15:6-7; cf 1 John 1:7 and 2:5, 1 John 3:4, Mt. 7:13-14

    Faithfulness is a continuing and ongoing responsibility.

•    Faithfulness includes all that is meant by such words as obedience, patience, righteousness, perfection, etc.

•    Faithfulness cannot be a part-time attitude or activity. That contradicts faithfulness.

•    Faithfulness is a full-time attitude and activity – regular, consistent, dependable, etc. It means continually doing from the heart what one knows to be the doctrine and will of God – what the Lord calls “good” (Rom. 6:17, James 4:15 and 17, 1 John 5:14). It means being blameless.  Let no fault that is found remain uncorrected, no conflict unresolved, at least to the extent that it is possible, or to the extent that it depends upon the person. 1 John 1:7-9, Acts 8:22;  Romans 12:18

 

CONCLUSION:

    Those who do not know the gospel are still “called” by it and accountable to it, even though they never hear it. Those who hear but do not respond appropriately are not “the called” of the Lord.

    Those who are not faithful to the calling of the Lord, even though they once embraced and followed faithfully for a time, are not “the called” of the Lord. Church members who are not functioning parts of the body are not “the called” of the Lord. Those who are doing things not authorized by the Lord may think they are glorifying and pleasing the Lord or lifting up His name and church to others but are not among “the called.” “The called” are only those who respond properly and faithfully to the calling of God.
- 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


The Ladder

By David A. Sargent

 

    Usually Arizona is associated with dry, desert regions.  But recent monsoon rains have caused flashfloods in the area creating some emergency situations.

    Twenty-five people including three children and an infant were found stranded at what was normally a low water crossing in Bear Canyon outside Tucson.  Authorities determined that a ladder rescue was the best option, so Ladder 7 of the Tucson Fire Department was called out.  The ladder was lowered across the flooded creek and served as a bridge for crew members to escort the stranded people to safety. *

    Our sins leave us stranded with no hope and in deadly peril (Romans 6:23).  Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and we are lost unless someone comes to our rescue.

    God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).  So God sent His one and only Son to rescue us (John 3:16).  In order to save us and to give us eternal life, Jesus had to give His life for our sins (1 Peter 2:24).

    Jesus is the Bridge to bring us to God and to all of the spiritual blessings that He wants to give to us.

    “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV).

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

    To access the Bridge to God, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  Then as we continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood that Jesus shed in His death continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7-9).

    The Son of God who descended from heaven became the Bridge to bring us to God.  You can be saved and have eternal life in heaven if you will access the Bridge through your trusting obedience.

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

 

* Information gleaned from “Arizona firefighters rescue 25 people, including infant, during flooding in Bear Canyon” by Stephen Sorace, www.foxnews.com.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

God IS Faithful to His Promises

By Brian Mitchell

 

    Here’s an interesting story for you: A man named Russell Edward Herman left trillions of dollars to thousands of people he’d never met. What was the catch? Russell Edward Herman didn’t have trillions of dollars, he was just a simple, poor carpenter. While the wild, wild will of the late Russell Herman never paid off for his “beneficiaries,” it certainly enlivened conversations. Take the tiny Ohio River town of Cave-In-Rock, for example, Herman bequeathed $2.41 billion to them. Cave-In-Rock’s mayor, Albert Kaegi had this to say, “It’s an odd thing to happen, isn’t it?”

    While the will would never pay off, the mayor had no trouble imagining uses for the willed imaginary monies. Russell Edward Herman had great intentions, but he lacked the resources needed to make them a reality. The greatness of God, however, stands in sharp contrast. God not only has made great and precious promises, He has the ability to follow through on every single one of them, AND HE WILL!!!

    If you were here last week, then you will remember that we have begun a new sermon series titled: “God’s Faithfulness and Ours.” Last week we spent our time celebrating just how faithful our God is. We discussed the fact that the Bible not only declares that God is faithful, it reveals the history of His faithfulness. Today, I want us to be reminded of the fact that God is faithful to his promises.

    I really like what Peter wrote about the promises of God “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

    Just how many of these great and precious promises do you think are in the Bible? 100? 1,000? 10,000? It might surprise you to know that according to a man named Dr. Reginald Dunlap there are approximately 30,000 promises in the Bible! Peter calls these “PRECIOUS” promises and it seemed that he liked that word. He used it at least 5 times in his two books: Precious Faith (1 Peter 1:7, 2 Peter 1:1), Precious blood (1 Peter 1:19), Precious stone (1 Peter 2:4-6), Precious Lord (1 Peter 2:7) and Precious promises (2 Peter 1:4).

    What is it that makes them so great and precious? Because, they come from a great God who can do the impossible and because they lead to an abundant life. Listen to some verses that declare that God is faithful to His promises. Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” 1 Kings 8:56, “Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” Joshua 21:45, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled.”

    God wants us to lean on his promises. He wants us to stand on them. And count on them. Here’s a wonderful thought and reality: Peter declares that claiming these precious promises makes us “partakers” with Christ. A “partaker” is a participant, partner, or sharer. Thus, we claim these precious promises as our own when we become a Christian. But this new nature is not automatic. We must flee, “escape” the corruption that is in the world by evil desires. But when we do, we can know that God’s is Faithful to His Promises.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at https://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net


Preparing To See The King

By Joe Slater

 

    Persian king Ahasuerus banished his queen and sought a new one (see the book of Esther). I hope none of us would approve of what he did or how he did it. How degrading to demand that Vashti flaunt her beauty before the king’s drunken nobles! Then he selected his new wife based almost entirely on her physical attractiveness. But why would we expect anything else? The king was a pagan and behaved in typical pagan fashion. Despite all of this, God worked through those events to deliver His people.

    Hadassah (Esther), a young Jewish girl, went through a solid year of beauty preparations before her interview with the king (Esther 2:12). Please don’t think ill of her! She didn’t make the rules. She made the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

    We serve a King infinitely superior to Ahasuerus. Esther diligently prepared to see her king. Let us take a cue from her by preparing to see King Jesus!

    This has nothing to do with physical attractiveness or lack thereof! Nor am I concerned here with wearing a coat and tie to the assembly. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the apostles to emphasize inner spiritual beauty. “Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quite spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). In contrast to flashy, costly garments, Paul urges being clothed “with good works” (1 Timothy 2:10).

    Revelation 7:13-14 pictures faithful Christians as dressed in robes they had washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. They had gone through fiery trials without yielding. They were inwardly beautiful!

    Does inner beauty qualify you to meet your King? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

- 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


Hope Avenue

By Lance Cordle

 

    Not too long ago, I was traveling through Paducah with my brother-in-law, who is a retired school teacher. I knew that he taught history and would be interested in the subject I was going to bring up. So I asked “Did you know that John T. Scopes is buried right here, in Paducah?” He said he did not know that. Since we were only a few blocks away from the grave, I turned the car in that direction and took him to see it.

    For those not familiar with John Scopes, he was the science teacher (twenty-four years old at the time) who was charged with violating Tennessee state law by teaching evolution in a high school biology class. The whole arrest was actually a publicity stunt put on by the American Civil Liberties Union to test the law and to shame people out of their opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools. In the course of the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” he was found guilty and was fined $100 for the offense.

    Scopes did not stay in the public spotlight very long, but worked in the oil industry and died in 1970. Having been born in Paducah, his body was brought back to Oak Grove Cemetery for burial. From what I can tell, John Scopes did not seem to be deeply involved in the belief or the teaching of evolution. However, from that time forward, his name was associated with the subject.

    Evolution, as seen in its general theory, is based on the assumption that life began from non-life. In its essence, it is opposed to the reality of and existence of a Creator (God). As a Christian I do not believe it, nor can I conceive of a world without a Creator. Not only would such belief cancel my religion, it would demolish the possibility of one major teaching which not only fascinates me, but compels me on in life: the hope of eternal life.

    Christians believe that life on earth “is not all there is to it.” When a loved who is a Christian dies, we cling to the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which admonish us not to “grieve as others do, who have no hope.” If evolution is true, there is no God, no Christ, no resurrection—therefore, no hope. What an utterly sad state of existence! (See 1 Corinthians 15:17, 19)

    Oak Grove Cemetery has a series of named roads within it. The grave of John T. Scopes lies at the end of the main street, Myrtle Avenue, providing easy access for those who want to see it. During our visit, I saw another road, beside the grave. Since then I have pondered a deep irony. For, within just a few feet of the body of a man whose name is forever linked to a theory— that if true, dissolves all our hope—is a road named... Hope Avenue. 

- 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


“God is Like...”

By Bill Brandstatter

 

    When I was a young boy my aunt gave me a paper describing what God is like. It listed a number of comparisons describing certain qualities of God. The paper utilized popular advertising slogans to convey what God is like. I remember just a few. I would like to use some of those and some of my own to help us to see better what God is like.

    God is like Hallmark Cards, because He cared enough to send the best. This refers to Him sending His son for sinful man. We can see from this, God’s love for mankind (1 John 3:16). God did not just send anybody, but his only begotten son. Jesus gave up his equality with God. He gave up the best, so that we would have the best (Phil. 2:5-11).

    God is like Dial Soap; He gives you round the clock protection. Imagine the assurance the apostles must have had when Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). Likewise, God told Moses, Joshua and Christians today, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). The Psalmist called him our refuge (Psa. 46:1). Truly God protects us round the clock.

    God is like Kellogg’s Cornflakes; He brings the best to you each morning. Our attitude should be like that of the Psalmist when he wrote, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24) This is not referring to the day of worship. It refers to any day. The Lord does not send us anything that is imperfect. (James 1:17) James indicates we should not presume tomorrow will come, rather have the attitude “If the Lord wills” (James 4:14). As we rise to the dawning of another day, we should rejoice that the Lord has given it to us.

    God is like American Express; you don’t want to leave home without Him. Wherever we go, whatever we do, let us remember to include God in our plans. My family and I always make it a habit to pray for God’s guidance before every trip we take. Often, we pray in the car before our departure. Let us not forget to take God with us on vacation this year.

    God is like EF Hutton; when He speaks, people listen. Certainly, there are many that don’t want to listen to what God says, yet there are some that will. God stated that His word would not return unto him void (Isa. 55:11). God chose the method of preaching to help people to understand His will (1 Cor. 1:21).

    Certainly, many other comparisons could be made. It is hoped that the ones presented here will help us to understand the sovereignty, majesty, and love of God for man.

For you are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God.” (Psa. 86:10)
Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Treasure

By Clifton Angel

 

"Then one from the crowd said to Him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' But He said to him, 'Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?' And He said to them, 'Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.' Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, "What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?"

    So he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?"' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:13–21, NKJV).

    Where is our treasure? In a parallel account to that of Luke 12, Matthew records these words of Jesus, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21).

    Let us never forget these powerful teachings of Jesus, and let us remember, "One's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Possessions decay. Possessions are stolen. Possessions are damaged. Possessions don't go with you when you die. Paul wrote to Timothy, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7).

    Indeed, none of these passages rebuke having earthly possessions; however, they do rebuke the heart of one who would make his earthly possessions his prioritized treasures, his place of trust, or his perception of triumph. True triumph, trust, and treasure can only be found in Jesus.

    Where is our treasure? Where is our heart? In another place, Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

- 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/


Sunday, September 11, 2022

What’s Worse Than Being Stupid?

By Joe Chesser

 

    I can’t remember who it was.  I wish I could. I do remember that it was a well-known motivational speaker.  He was trying to stress the importance of knowledge to a group of high school students.  He pointed out (paraphrased from my limited memory), “You are in a great place, a place of learning.  By all means, don’t leave here without getting knowledge because knowledge will help you earn a living.  Being broke is a bad thing, but being stupid is worse.”

    Then it seemed like he started deviating from his planned speech.  He went on to say, “Well, I guess being broke and stupid is worse than just being stupid.  There’s not much worse, unless you’re sick and broke and stupid.  That’s about as bad as it gets.  Well, maybe there’s one more thing worse – being ugly and sick and broke and stupid.”

    I’d have to agree with him.  Being ugly and sick and broke and stupid is scraping the bottom of the barrel.  That’s a pitiful condition.  I’m glad to say that nobody comes to my mind by that description.  But let me quickly add, that as bad as being ugly and sick and broke and stupid is, there is one thing that makes a person like that seem like Time’s Man of the Year.

    There is nothing, and I mean nothing, as bad as being spiritually lost.  There is nothing more pitiful, nothing more devastating, nothing as disgraceful as being eternally lost. Nothing.

    Yet, we spend most of our waking hours trying to overcome being ugly and sick and broke and stupid.  How much time do you spend each day on just your hair and face just to look a little more attractive?  How much time do you spend each day thinking about and doing something about your health (diet / exercise)?  How much time do you spend each day working to earn money and planning on how to manage your money, so you won’t be broke?  How much of your life is spent on education so you won’t be stupid?

    Now, how much time do you spend each day beautifying your soul?  Or working to make sure your soul is at optimum health?  Or filling your mind with the word of God?  As you know, your soul is your only possession that will survive death and the eventual destruction of this world.  When you stand before God in Judgment, it won’t matter if you were pretty or if you were ugly while on earth.  It won’t matter how sick or healthy you were, how poor or how rich you were, or how smart you were.  The only thing that will matter is the condition of your soul.

    Even though you may be ugly, sick, broke and stupid, as a child of God, you are among the most blessed people ever!  Make sure you spend your time on what matters!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Who Crucified Jesus?

By Ron Bartanen

 

   I recently read an article which said that anti-Semitism has risen world-wide.  This persecution of Jews is reported to not be solely from Muslims, but from nominal Christians as well.  Some of these go so far as to hatefully chastise them as “Christ-killers.”  Such, of course, are not imitating Christ, who prayed for those involved in His crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

   There were, of course, certain Jewish leaders who conspired for His death, and other Jews who agreed to it, but they alone were not responsible. Without Pilate’s and Rome ’s approval, it could not have been done.   On Pentecost Sunday following the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter addressed some of these, declaring, “Him…you have taken (and) by lawless hands have crucified and put to death” (Acts 2:23, NKJ).  Though done in ignorance, they were not guiltless; but theirs was not the only guilt.  It was done through “lawless hands”—through those who were “without law” (1 Cor. 9:21), Gentiles. To be more specific, the deed was done through Roman officials and soldiers.  Should we therefore blame the Romans (Italians)?  It was soldiers from Rome who mocked Jesus, scourged Him, drove the nails into His hands and feet, and completed their task by thrusting a spear into His side to assure His death.

    The fact of the matter is that the responsibility for His death is shared by ALL.  Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before this event, saying, “…the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6b).  The sins of humanity put Jesus on the tree, and that includes my sins and your sins.  We crucified Jesus! To satisfy divine justice, and yet to show grace and mercy to us sinners, the crucifixion was no mere senseless martyrdom, but was accomplished by “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God…” (Acts 2:23a).

    Those who would seek to put the blame for Jesus death upon the Jews should also recognize that Jesus also was a Jew.  It was He who declared, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22b).  The apostles were Jews.  The first Christians were Jews.  The New Testament Scriptures were written by converted Jews.  Paul, though he suffered many things at the hands of Jews, still maintained them to be “beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28b)—the “fathers” referring to the covenant God had years before made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    As we would ponder the death of our Lord and Savior, it must not be that we pass the blame on to others.  We should, instead, say, as did Paul, that He “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  We all had our part.  Were it not for our sins, Christ would not have died.

God’s Faithfulness and Ours

By Brian Mitchell

 

    Brothers, sisters and friends, God’s faithfulness is something that we can celebrate. We live in a literal sewer of unfaithfulness, at times in the church, and certainly in wider Christiandom. It sometimes seems like there is so little that we can trust in anymore. Parents don’t really trust their children, and children don’t trust their parents. There is a distrust among husbands and wives. Politicians make all kinds of promises and follow through on few of them. Companies are far less faithful than they used to be to their employees and the communities they come from.

    I like the story of the college student who walked into a photography studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated and this involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph: "My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity." It was signed "Diane," and it contained a P.S.: "If we ever break up, I want this picture back."

    In contrast to all this unfaithfulness and distrust is our God who is so faithful. It is this reality that I want us to celebrate and embrace over the next 3 MONTHS worth of sermons. This is not a truth to be heard and forgotten, but one that we need to be reminded of constantly. Why? Because we live in a world where trust is hard to come by, where it may seem that there are few people to trust. But our God is a faithful God. We can trust him. You don’t have to doubt and in fact you should not.

    I want to tell you, on a personal level, that I don’t believe that God has ever let me down—even though I have acted before as though He did. But the truth is that I cannot think of a time when God has not been there for me. He has always given me exactly what I needed, when I needed it. Whether it was provision or correction or instruction, I have always been able to count on God.

    I can especially see his hand as He has carried me through my almost 23 years of full-time ministry. He has been by my side, day in and day out. There have certainly been high points and low points, successes and failures, but either way, God has been faithful.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at https://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net


How Strong is Your Strength? (Acts 7)

By Ron Thomas
 
    Stephen was a great man of faith. Earlier the Lord had identified him as a man of conviction, reputation, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit. All these traits of character were going to be necessary for what he was about to face.
    It is easy to speak favorably of one’s commitment to the Lord when resistance is minimal, but when the heat in the kitchen rises (so to speak), the qualities of character are put to a test in a way that the temperature of the room is unable to accomplish. This was the experience of Stephen. He had been accused by the Jewish community of turning the world associated with the nation’s Law of Moses and their peculiar customs, upside down (Acts 6:13-14). Stephen had to be a man steady on his feet to have any opportunity to speak clearly. Stressful situations can make the body and tongue quiver. The words of wisdom from Proverbs come to mind: If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small (24:10, ASV).
    As the so-called trial of Stephen got underway, Stephen recounts, briefly, Israel’s history; this allowed for him to have an audience before he got to his main point. He gave attention to the call of Abraham, the family of Joseph in Egypt, the Law received by Moses, and how Moses wrote about a coming prophet unlike any prophet before or after him (7:37).
    Stephen begins to zero in on his greater point, with a repetition of earlier prophetic tones, how the nation of Israel, as it currently was, was guilty of stubbornness, nationalism, and a refusal to consider the evidence God presented for His Son (7:51-53). This was more than those in the audience were willing to take. Stephen knew this would be their response, but he said what he did because it needed to be said on this day.
    There are many who call themselves Christians who would not do what Stephen did. It’s easy to read and understand what we need to, but is there a heart for enduring something similar? 

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. www.sunrushchurchofchrist.org


Solving All the World’s Problems

By Edd Sterchi

    Just take a look at the news headlines and you will see problem after problem that humanity has created: wars, violence, murders, theft, scandals, abuse of power, the misuse of resources, immorality – the list goes on and on. What a mess we have made of this world! And with all of these problems comes heartbreak, more troubling situations, and brokenness of homes and society.
    Not to brag, but I believe that I have found the solution to all of the problems of the world. In John 16, Jesus had just informed the apostles of His upcoming crucifixion and what all would happen surrounding it. Then in v .33, He reminded them (and us): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
    The solution to every trouble of the world is Jesus Christ. He can and will overcome any and all problems we humans create. If everyone would just get and stay in a relationship with Jesus, then they would be connected to the One who can overcome any problem. If everyone would faithfully follow Christ and His teachings, then none of the problems of the world would persist. Knowing that, then why wouldn’t we want to take the saving message of Christ to all the world (Mark 16:15)?

- 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/


Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Bible and Aliens

By Joe Chesser

 

    I’m not sure what you expected when you read the title of this article, but this article is not about Avatars or giant Kaiju monsters invading Earth. Nor is this about people who cross national borders illegally.

    No, this article is about us. That’s right. According to the Bible we Christians are aliens. Not that we look weird, or have super-powers, but aliens in the sense that we really don’t belong to this world in which we currently live. One of my favorite songs puts it this way: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue ... and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

    As misfits in this world, the Bible refers to us as strangers and aliens. Jesus said to his apostles, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world therefore the world hates you” (John 15.19). Later that same night in his prayer before leaving the upper room, Jesus said of his apostles, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17.16).

    But it’s not just the apostles who did not belong to this world. The Bible speaks of all Christians this way. To the Philippian church Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3.20). Peter also spoke of Christians as “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2.11 NASB/NIV).

    So, God intends for His people, His church, to be different from the world. Like foreigners who speak a different language, who dress and act differently, who have different customs, values and priorities, Christians are not to be like their surroundings. To complete what Peter said above, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2.11-12). The Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2.15).

    The Bible doesn’t say this will be easy or comfortable. In fact, it will not. It will require sacrifice. It will require a change of heart and mind. It will be a constant battle to refuse to conform to the world around us. Sadly, the more we choose to be like the world around us the less we will be comfortable being with God and His people.

    Yet, becoming aliens and strangers is what God demands of us. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12.2). “Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. But because God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life” (1 Peter 1.14-15 GW).

    Living like the world alienates us from God. Living as God calls us to live alienates us from the world. We are aliens either way. Which kind of alien are you choosing to be? Can you truly sing, “This world is not my home; I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


The Fear of the Lord

By Ron Bartanen

 

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).

    If memory serves me correctly, I learned in school that there are only two innate fears—fears with us from birth—and these are the fear of falling and the fear of loud, sudden noises. However, as we experience life, more fears accumulate.  We find ourselves beset with fears relative to our health, our financial state, threats of terrorism, and even what are perceived to be unwise decisions by officials in government.  It was not Solomon’s intention to add yet another fear to the growing list when he wrote the words at the head of this article. Rather, it is to be viewed as a reverential fear, an acknowledgement of the majesty and power of our Creator, in whose presence we stand in awe.  It is this “fear” that will drive away all other fears.  It is related to the love of which John wrote—a love that “casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).  The “fear of the Lord” is a reverential trust that will drive other fears out of our lives.

    The most fearful situation in life is to find ourselves going our own way, without God’s fellowship.  It may not be in the way of outright rebellion against all that is righteous, living a life of wantonness and drunkenness.  It may simply be to live life without acknowledgment of God.  We may live our lives without ever getting cancer or heart problems and we may live our lives so that we are financially successful; but to live our lives with the seeming absence of God is more fearful than the worst of physical or material calamities.

    And what is to be gained by an awesome respect for God, His word and His judgment? Much in every way! The fear of God enables us to face life and all its fears, and even death itself, with a confidence that is unshakeable.  Hebrews 2:15 reminds us that while we were once in bondage to fear—in particular the fear of death—Christ came to deliver us.  It is as someone once said: “There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.”         

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at: ron33dor@yahoo.com


More Than Just a Rabbi

By David R. Ferguson

 

    In John 3, we have recorded the event of Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), coming to visit Jesus “by night” (John 3:2). Nicodemus treats Jesus respectfully, addressing Him as “Rabbi” (John 3:2), which is quite an honorific given to a Man Who had not attended any of the prestigious rabbinical schools which were operating at that time. Nicodemus also states, “We know that You are a teacher Who has come from God. For no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). This is a very astute (and accurate, I might add) observation Nicodemus makes.

    Just whom the “we” are who rightly believed that Jesus was a Man Who had been sent by God we don’t know for sure, but an educated guess would seem to indicate that at least Joseph of Arimathea would be in this group, for John tells us in John 19:38, “Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus,” and Pilate granted him this request. John then tells us that Nicodemus was also there with Joseph, and it was Nicodemus who purchased the 75-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to anoint the body of Jesus as they prepared it for burial (John 19:39) in the tomb which belonged to Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:60).

    Nicodemus was a seeker. He sought truth from Jesus, and Jesus gave it to him, hitting Nicodemus right between the eyes by proclaiming that for one to obtain eternal life and “see the Kingdom of God,” one must be “born again” (John 3:3). Jesus speaks to Nicodemus prophetically of Jesus’ eventual crucifixion, saying to Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Although Nicodemus knew that Jesus was a “Rabbi,” a “teacher Who has come from God” (John 3:2), Jesus let him know He was much more than that. He was also the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16) sent by the Father to save, not condemn, the world (John 3:17).

    What about you? Are YOU a truth seeker, such as Nicodemus was? Jesus can always stand up to the harshest of scrutiny. He can always be trusted. We can know these facts because Jesus tells us in John 14:6, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    Yes, our Lord and Savior can be trusted. Put your trust in Him, and most importantly, put your LIFE in His hands! Only Jesus has the power to grant us eternal life!
- 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


Standing Still, Going Forward

By Joe Slater

    The Israelites felt boxed in at the Red Sea. Mountains loomed in both sides with the water ahead. Pharaoh’s host was closing in behind them. Where could they go? As they had done before and would do again, the people complained, blaming Moses for leading them to disaster.
    “Do not be afraid,” Moses exhorted them. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). Not long ago they had witnessed the Lord’s power over Pharaoh and his idols in ten plagues that devastated the land of Egypt. Oh, how quickly we forget!
    There is a time to stand still. But two verses later God ordered Moses to “tell the children of Israel to go forward” (14:15). But wait! “Forward” led straight into the water! No worries – the Lord will simply part the water. You’ll go through on dry ground. Problem solved!
    We, too, must stand; and we, too, must go forward. “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). As a soldier must stand and fight, so we must engage in spiritual warfare. The Lord fought for Israel (Exodus 14:14), and He will fight for us too!
    Yes, we must stand – but we must also go forward!
Even the great apostle Paul acknowledged that he had not yet “arrived.” “But one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).
    The goal is up ahead. Let us stand still (remain calm), stand fast, and go forward! Soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armor on!
- 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


How Great is God

By Gerald Cowan
 
It could not just have happened
Or been here eternally.
God made the world, made ev’rything,
Then put all things in their place
Where they must stay by His decree.
 
When God made man He made him for
Dominion over creatures
In the earth and sky and sea.
He gave to man His spirit and
Promised fellowship to all
Who, through Christ, from sin are made free.
 
God gave His Son as sacrifice
For those whose lives, though sin-scarred,
Come to Him to be made free.
He grants imputed righteousness
To all who will obey Him
And maintain their integrity.
 
God’s Holy Spirit then is giv’n
To dwell within that person
Who has chosen His to be.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Stay within the faithful one,
Unhidden light that all can see. 
 
How great is God! How great His Son!
How great His Holy Spirit
Who now lives and moves in me.
Since that first day I gave to Him
The life I owe to Jesus
He keeps it for eternity.
- 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


Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Game of Life

By David A. Sargent

 

    Steve Higginbotham asks, “Have you ever played Milton Bradley's, ‘The Game of LIFE?’  Probably you have at some point.  This game has been around a long time -- since 1860!  The object of this game is to cause its players to make several important ‘life decisions’ and teach them several important ‘life lessons,’ while having fun all at the same time.  Some of those decisions and lessons were:

  • ·       Whether to go straight to work, or go to college first.
  • ·       Paydays are typically better for those who go to college.
  • ·       Whether to buy or not to buy health/life insurance.
  • ·       Having children can bring benefits as well as liabilities.

Life has many unexpected setbacks, as well as serendipitous blessings. And ultimately, the decisions you make in life will determine whether you will wind up in a "Millionaire's Mansion" or the "Poor House."

    Then Higginbotham points out an important lesson that one can learn from the game even though it’s not found in the game’s instructions: “But one lesson this game didn't teach us; in fact, the most important lesson of all is this...

When the game is over, everything goes back in the box!

No matter how good you were at this game; no matter how much money you were able to accumulate; no matter whom you were able to beat; at the end of the game, you had to put everything you had accumulated back in the box.” *

    Higginbotham’s observations illustrate the truthfulness of this passage:

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” – 1 Timothy 6:7

No matter what you're able to accomplish in life; no matter how much money you are able to earn in your lifetime; no matter how many people you competed against and over which you were victorious; when your life is over, it all goes ‘back in the box.’  You take none of it with you.  Then you'll stand before your Maker.” – Steve Higginbotham

    If we’ve spent all of our time, energy, and focus on things that “go back into the box,” we will perish and miss out on the greatest, ETERNAL blessings that God wants to give to us.  Please read Matthew 6:19-21.

    Our sins condemn us (Romans 6:23), but God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we might receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

    God will save those who place their faith and trust in Christ (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse those who continue to place their focus on eternal things by following Jesus and obeying His Word (1 John 1:7).

    In the end, life isn’t a game!  But “The Game of Life” can remind us to think “outside the box” about those things which ARE eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

    Won’t YOU accept God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life by trusting and obeying Jesus?
- 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
* “The Game of Life” by Steve Higginbotham in MercEmail (7/21/14), a Weekly Devotional from Steve Higginbotham.  See Steve’s blog at http://preachinghelp.org/


My Neighborhood

By Al Behel

 

    I liked “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Millions of children around the world sat at his feet and marveled at the simple things. Fred Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When he received the award he wore his usual sweater and tie. Reporters expected him to talk about his infamous television program. Instead, he talked with them about why we are on this earth – not to amass fortunes or to make a big name for ourselves. According to Mister Rogers the important things are the little things, the small acts of kindness that make our world a better place.

    In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that a real neighbor is not identified by credentials or religious ideologies, but by the simple acts one does toward those in need. According to Jesus, the world is our neighborhood and everyone in it is our neighbor. Our challenge is to do small acts of kindness to each person we meet. It’s the simple things that make the difference.

    How many times each day do we meet a “neighbor”, someone to whom we can show kindness? How many opportunities do we miss because we have other commitments, or because that neighbor is different from us and we are not moved to action? Scripture tells us that Jesus “went about doing good.” Every day He touched lives with simple acts of kindness. He spoke kind words to social and moral outcasts. He held children in his arms, went home with tax collectors and sinners, and encouraged the hearts of the down-trodden. He told the disciples that to see Him was to see God. And that’s how others see God in us.

    We are often stalled by our belief that God is looking for big things in us. Sure, there are big challenges we must meet, but most of life is not about big things. It’s the little things we routinely do to others that opens their hearts and shows the beauty of God’s grace in us.

- Al Behel served the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN, for many years prior to this death in April 2022. The congregation may be contacted through their website - https://gsmchurchofchrist.com/