Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Shroud of Turin And Other “Relics”

By Joe Slater

 

    Was Jesus’ body wrapped in a linen shroud before being placed in the tomb? If so, is the “Shroud of Turin,” housed in a Cathedral in Turin, Italy, that shroud? And if it is, should this shroud be venerated as a “holy relic”? The short answers are no, no, and no!

    John 19:40 informs us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea “took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” Jews didn’t use shrouds. They wound the body with strips up to the shoulders, then tied a handkerchief around the face.

    Even if Jesus’ body had been wrapped in a shroud, it wouldn’t be the one atTurin. That cloth was first revealed in 1354 and denounced as a fake 35 years later by the local Catholic bishop. Carbon 14 testing says it dates to the Middle Ages (1260-1390), over 1200 years too late to have been used on Jesus’ body.

    But again, even if the “Shroud of Turin” could be shown to have been used to wrap Jesus’ body for burial, that would not mean we should venerate it as a “holy relic.” Sincere but misguided souls have long sought for some tangible object to help them connect with God. In the movie, Indiana Jones found the “holy grail,” the cup Jesus used at the last supper. Splinters from the cross, vials of blood from Jesus’ pierced side, and countless other “relics” are also viewed as having miraculous powers. None are genuine. Most border on idolatry.

    At God’s direction, Moses constructed a bronze serpent in the wilderness. Its legitimate use brought healing to sinful Israelites bitten by serpents. Centuries later their descendants began worshiping it. Good king Hezekiah destroyed it, calling it “Nehushtan” (a piece of bronze, 2 Kings 18:4). If ever there was a genuine “relic,” surely this was it. But, in reality, it was just a piece of bronze. Just so, the “Shroud of Turin” is a piece of linen, nothing more and nothing less.

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


We are Not Invisible

By Gerald Cowan

 

    Everything a Christian says and does must be designed to lead others to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31-32). There is nothing about the Christian life that is neutral or unimportant. In everything a Christian does he is to be “the light of the world,” a light that is not hidden. He is told, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:14-16). Notice that Jesus does not beg his disciples to become lights in the world. He merely states a fact: you are lights in the world (compare also Phil. 2:15-16). We ought to understand these words to mean, “If you are truly my disciples (John 8:31) you are the light of the world.” There can be a great difference, you know, between Christians and professed Christians. God used the obedient examples, the piety and good works of the true disciples of Christ to enlighten the world. Christians are living examples of what God can do with a person’s life.

    Jesus does not mean that we should try to impress people with our own righteousness and good works. But he reminds us that no one is really invisible. If one lives for God, others will see it. If one lives without God, that will be apparent too. When a person becomes a Christian he is committed to a new way of life. Changes become obvious in his attitudes – especially toward other people, in his sense of values, and in his use of his time, energy, money and other resources. In many other ways he will be visibly and conspicuously different. Not because he is trying to attract attention to himself, but only because God calls Christians to be obedient to Him in ways that cannot easily be kept hidden from others. You cannot hide a city that is built on a hillside, and you cannot hide the kind of obedience that God requires of all followers of Jesus Christ. So do not try to hide. Just go on and shine!

    Others will be impressed by your life. When they know that it is obedience to God that makes the difference they will glorify God for your good example. They may not become Christians themselves, but they will give God credit for your improvement. And no doubt there will be some, encouraged by your faith in God and your trust in His promises, who will place their own lives in God’s hands too.

    You are the light of the world, the light the world needs to see, if you are a Christian, because when the world looks at you the world sees 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


Assaulted Savior

By David A. Sargent

 

    Two San Diego, California firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting an intoxicated man who had become ill on the downtown trolley platform.  As the firefighters were trying to help the drunken man, a bystander attacked them with a knife, stabbing both of the rescuers multiple times.  Both firefighters were hospitalized.

    The suspect was arrested and is being held in county jail without bail and faces charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

    Police are trying to determine a motive.  Chief Shelley Zimmerman told reporters that the suspect, who did not appear to be acquainted with the drunken man, began crowding the firefighters and telling them what to do as they tried to render aid.   “He was asked several times by the firefighters to move back,” she said. "He continued to interfere with the firefighters rendering the aid, and an altercation occurred."

    How awful!  Two men were attacked while trying to help someone else!

    But consider…

Jesus, the Son of God, came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  He came to save US!  We desperately need a Savior because our sin separates us from God and puts us on the path to eternal destruction (Isaiah 59:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14).  God loves us so much that He gave His One and Only Son to come to our rescue (John 3:16).

    And how was the Rescuer received?  He was rejected, beaten, and crucified!  Sinners killed the only One who could save them!

    Yet, it was through His crucifixion that Jesus is able to save us from our sins.  Our sins demand punishment from a just God: “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  But because of His great love for us, God gave His Son to die on the cross for OUR sins so that we can be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:7).

    On Pentecost Day, The Apostle Peter preached to some of the very ones who had cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion:  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

     Many of them realized that they had crucified the Promised Messiah – the Great Deliverer that had been promised by the prophets of old.  The murderers, convicted of their sins, cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

     Peter answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  The penitent believers “who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).  They were saved from their sins by the blood that was shed by Jesus on the cross – the blood that they spilt, but was also spilt for them, according to the eternal plan of God (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18-20).

    Jesus came to save YOU, too.  Don’t reject the Savior.  Accept His offer of salvation and eternal life in the same way that they did on that Pentecost day: place your faith and trust in Jesus (see Acts 16:30-31), confess Jesus before men (see Romans 10:9-10), “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38).  Then God will give you His Spirit, add you to His church, and prepare a place for you in Heaven.  And, if you will continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse you from sin (1 John 1:7) and prepare you for your heavenly home.

    Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?
- 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 “Two San Diego firefighters stabbed while aiding ill man on trolley platform,” Published June 26, 2015 on FoxNews.com


Memorial Day and The Lord’s Warrior Spirit

By Ron Thomas

    1 Sam. 17:26-27 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
     And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” ... 1 Sam. 17:32-36
    And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
    And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
    But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” .... 1 Sam. 17:45-47
    The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
    Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.”
    It’s not possible for us to remain standing as a country without the Lord on our side. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


The Beauty of the Snow

By Bill Brandstatter

 

    The weather forecast for our area is calling for a winter storm. There are advisories and warnings issued for much of our area. Some of the area is going to get freezing rain and sleet to start with and then most of the area will get snow. I like to see snow at least once a year. Snowflakes are special and beautiful.

    Each one is different. No two snowflakes are exactly alike. I am reminded that everything God makes is special. Man is the crowning point of God's creative work. David wrote: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works” (Psa. 139:14). Every person is different. Each one has a unique personality and characteristics.

    Each one is special. As each snowflake falls, it forms a special bond with the other ones to produce the snow we shovel. It is the whole work we see not just the single snowflake. Likewise, each person is special. Jesus spoke about the special nature of man when He stated, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26)

    Each person is special to God. Each person is special in the church. Paul mentioned how each person playing a part causes the church to grow in Eph. 4:16. The church is made up of individuals (1 Cor. 12:20), but each one is important. Each Christians is special, although different. Paul wrote, “So we being many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” (Rom. 12:5)

    Each one is similar. Although different, each snowflake has a similarity with another one. They are the same color. They all fall from the sky. They all land on the ground. They all accumulate. Humans, although different, bear a striking similarity. We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Every human has a body and a spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) Humans have the power and ability to choose. (Deut. 30:15-19) This makes humans different from animals. There is a special connection each man has with another. Paul told the idol worshipers in Athens, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:26)

    Each one has a designer. Snowflakes don't just happen. They were designed by God. When we look at the weather, do we see the evidence of God? David tells us that God is seen in nature. He stated, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psa. 19:1) We read in the book of Job that “He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'” (Job. 37:6). When we see the snow, we should see one of the many works of God. (See verses on next page, right column)

    Each one is white. It is the bright white nature of the snow that attracts our attention. The Bible compares the purity of snow to the purity a man can have when God forgives him of sin. When a person is obedient to God, Isaiah writes, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isa. 1:18). Let us think of God when we see the snow. Let us think of how special we are and how special we can become when we obey God and become one of His children (Gal. 3:26,27).

Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Are You One with the Lord?

By David R. Ferguson

 

    This past Sunday around the globe many people celebrated what is commonly referred to as Easter, the anniversary of that great and glorious day in which our Lord and Savior defeated Death and rose triumphantly from the grave.

    His tomb had been sealed and a huge stone had been placed in front of it in the hopes of holding His dead body inside it, but there was absolutely nothing devised by the mind of man, no stratagem clever enough, that would prevent Jesus from rising from the dead, just as He Himself had prophesied.

    In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul describes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as being the defining, foundational principles of our faith. These are the gospel itself (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Without the fact of the risen Savior “our faith also is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14 [NAS]) because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17 [NAS]). If Christ didn’t rise from the grave and leave that tomb empty, there would be no hope of salvation for anyone. As Paul states it, “If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19 [NAS]).

    Have you, in obedient, saving faith, identified yourself with Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, visually proclaiming the very gospel itself? In the words of Paul, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5). By allowing ourselves to be immersed in that watery grave of baptism, when we rise up out of those waters, we are considered a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17 [NAS]), one who is no longer God’s enemy, but an adopted child of His (Ephesians 1:5). As a child of God, we are “heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 [NAS]). We become “fellow partakers of the promise in Christ” (Ephesians 3:6 [NAS]) which means that since Jesus lives, then we no longer need to fear death, either. We, too, will be resurrected and Death will not keep us from our reward of living with Him in Heaven forever!
- 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


Jesus and Him Crucified (Acts 2)

By Ron Thomas

 

    Those chosen by the Lord were to wait in Jerusalem for the special day the Lord Jesus told them about.

    They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:6-8).

    So, they did. The Lord’s chosen (the twelve apostles) gathered together in one place. Suddenly, from heaven the Lord’s gift, His promise mentioned above came to them. These men spoke in languages (called “tongues”) that perplexed all those who were there and heard. They did not know what to think about this, so they falsely accused them of being drunk. When people do not know, it’s not possible for them to understand how to interpret what they see. Just as it was then, so it is the same today. Without evidence, without understanding, they assert they do know what is going on by accusing them of something not true. Peter and the others dismissed this and explained what was going on.

    Making reference to the words of the prophet Joel, Peter said that what was occurring before their eyes was a fulfillment of what Joel said (2:16). Since the people in the crowd had no counter to what Peter said, they listened. Peter continued by preaching that what the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas experienced the last 3 years, what they were seeing now was a culmination of the life lived and a resurrected body going to the glories of heaven. With Him now gone, the words of the prophet are fulfilled. Hearing “the words of the prophet are now being fulfilled” would not have escaped their attention. Coupled with what they knew of Jesus in this midst (as He once was), they would have started to put “two and two together”, coming to a reasonable conclusion on the matter.

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


Some Items to Remember on Memorial Day

By Bill Brandstatter

    This is Memorial Day weekend. During this time of year, we pause to remember. We remember the ones who died for our nation's freedom. We remember the loved ones in general who have gone on before. The basic idea of remembering is to look back. We are looking back this weekend. Let us go through some biblical accounts and take a look back. All these will begin with word “remember” or “remembrance” and are in no particular order.
    Remember the Word I have spoken: John 15:20: There is an idea here that Jesus not only wants us to remember but also to do. Jesus’s word will judge us (John 12:48). How is our spiritual memory? Many people have a memory problem. Sometimes we remember what the scripture says, but we don’t believe it applies to us. Let us remember the following from the Word of God: The wonderful works of God (Rom. 11:33); the death of Christ (1 Cor. 11:25-26); the teachings of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). To remember Christ’s words would include obeying them and incorporating them into your life. The words of Christ are very important to salvation (John 12:48, John 14:24, 1 Tim. 6:3, Matt. 24:35).
    Remember Me: Luke 23:42: This is the statement of the thief on the cross. We often focus on the statement made by Jesus in response to the thief: “Today you will be with me in paradise"; but the statement the thief made is very important. What does this statement say? He wanted to do what pleased Jesus. He wanted to be where Jesus was. He wasn’t afraid to confess something about Christ even while facing certain death. He had an attitude of repentance. Certainly, we want the Lord to remember us when the crowns are handed out. (1 Cor. 9:25; 2Tim. 4:8; Rev. 2:10). We cannot be saved like the thief on the cross. He didn’t have to believe anything about Christ’s death. I do! (Rom. 10:9) He couldn’t be baptized into the death of Christ; (Rom. 6:3); I must be. The thief on the cross lived and died under the Law of Moses. That law was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. (Col. 2:14). When God “remembers” us He looks back at what we have done.
    Remember that Jesus was raised from the dead: 2 Tim. 2:8: This gives us hope beyond the grave (1 Cor. 15:14). Some in New Testament times thought that the resurrection had already past (2 Tim. 2:18). The Sadducees said there was no resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:12) The whole basis of the Christian experience is based in large part, not only on salvation, but on the hope of a resurrection someday. The Lord’s Supper is to be taken every Sunday for this purpose. (1 Cor. 11:24, 25)
    Certainly, there are other passages that contain the word “remember.” These three are significant and should get our attention as we remember this weekend.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


It’s All About the Lord

By Edd Sterchi


The Lord’s people,
     having been baptized with the Lord’s baptism,
     cleansed with the Lord’s blood,
     and added to the Lord’s body,
     gather around the Lord’s table,
     in the Lord’s name,
     upon the Lord’s day,
     to remember the Lord’s death and resurrection,
     until the Lord comes.

Are you the Lord’s?

- 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/


Merciful God

By Clifton Angel

 

    "The LORD thy God is a merciful God" (Deut. 4:31). One of the greatest illustrations of God's mercy is found in Jesus' parable that is often called "The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" (Matthew 18:23–35). What if we called it "The Parable of the Abundantly Merciful King”?

    The main character was the unmerciful servant. He received forgiveness of a tremendous debt. However, he was not willing to be merciful toward a fellow servant who owed him a minuscule amount.

    The debt amounts in the parable illustrate the abundant mercy of our God. The servant was owed the small debt of 100 pence, a debt he could have paid in less than one year. But the servant was forgiven the large debt of 10,000 talents. We do not know the exact amount of money that would equate 10,000 talents. But, 1 talent was the average annual salary of the common man in Jesus' day. Therefore, it would have taken him 10,000 years of his entire salary to repay it.

    Jesus was illustrating the fact that we cannot repay the debt of sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). No amount of money, work, effort, energy, or time that we offer can repay the debt of sin. Yet, God is ready every day, every hour, every second, to forgive that debt to those who love Him. God desires “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Yes, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Will we accept His gift as did the disciples in Rome? “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17). How did they obey the teachings they received? “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

    Furthermore, we often refuse to forgive those small debts of sin against us by our fellow servants. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). When Jesus gave a model format of prayer, He included this necessary request: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). After giving this prayer model, He explained, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).

    “The LORD thy God is a merciful God” (Deuteronomy 4:31). Will we serve Him, show His mercy to others, and extend mercy ourselves?
- 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, May 1, 2022

A Life That Matters

By Joe Chesser

    This is a weekend for remembering.  It’s a time to hold special services and a time for going to the cemeteries to decorate graves with flowers and pictures. We do this to remember and honor those who so gallantly defended our country’s freedom with their lives.  We also remember and honor those who hold a special place in our past – family, friends and other special people. We do this to keep alive in our memories those special people whose lives mattered to us.
    What is it that we remember?  What is it that makes a person’s life live on after they have died?  A popular inspirational reading captures some of what I am thinking:
    "What will matter most is...
                        not what you bought, but what you built.
                        not what you got, but what you gave.
                        not your success, but your significance.
                        not that you learned, but that you taught.
                        not your competence, but your character.
                        not your memories, but the memories that live on in those who love you.
    It’s so easy to major in minors, to let the insignificant dominate the important.  It’s so easy to let making a living become more important than making a life.  It’s so easy to believe that what you have is more important that who you are.  It’s so much easier to buy gifts than it is to give yourself.
    You don’t have to be wealthy or talented or educated to live a life that matters.  In fact, these are often the very things that prevent you from living a life that matters.  Despite living in “extreme poverty,” the Macedonians lived lives that mattered.  The rich young ruler didn’t (2 Cor. 8:1-5, Matt. 19:16-24).  Though he had social status and education, the Pharisee did not choose to live a life that mattered.  Yet, the humble tax collector did (Luke 18:9-14).
    Living a life that matters is not an accident.  It’s about making the right choices. Choose people over possessions. Choose giving over getting.  Choose others over self.  Choose God over anything or anyone else.
    This Memorial Day weekend is a good time to remember how others had lived. While you are at it, take time to reflect on your own life. Are you living a life that matters?  When others think of you, will they think of God?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


“Thank You” Can Take Many Forms

By Adam Faughn

    When children are little, we do our best to teach them basic manners. One of the most basic is when we tell them to "say their pleases and thank yous." We want to instill in them that a verbal expression of thanks is a sign of respect and means a great deal to the one who hears it.
    As we all know, however, thanks can take many forms. Certainly, we should continue to express our thanks in words, but that should not be the only way we express gratitude for what someone has done.
    Tomorrow, our nation will say "thank you" to those who have given their lives to defend us and protect the liberties we enjoy. However, since those we are honoring are no longer living, it is impossible for us to vocally tell them "thank you." So, how do we thank them properly? There are a number of ways. Taking time to remember, cleaning a grave, or saying a prayer to God that remembers what has been done on our behalf are just some ways that we say "thank you" without uttering the words to the one we are trying to express gratitude toward.
    Today –the Lord's Day –we have an even more important time set aside to do much the same thing. When we eat the Lord's Supper, we do not usually do anything "vocally" other than the one who leads us in prayer. However, those of us who are partaking have an opportunity to express gratitude in more silent ways, but ways that are just as meaningful and heartfelt.
    We express our gratitude by partaking faithfully, with our whole heart involved. True obedience to God is a form of gratitude. Taking communion with our mind and heart truly involved thanks Him because it shows we still care deeply about what He did, though so much time has passed
    We can express our gratitude through silent prayer. During the moments we are eating the bread or taking the fruit of the vine, there are many things we could be focusing on. One of those, however, could be a time of gratitude. It might be a brief and silent prayer, but what better prayer to have in our minds than, "Father, thank you for what Jesus did for me"! If it comes from the heart, that expresses true thankfulness.
    We can express our gratitude through partaking each week. Part of the Lord's Supper's meaning is that it is a proclamation that He is coming again. The Lord instituted this meal as a public "statement" that the promise is still real and still meaningful to us. When we partake every week –week after week –we are showing gratitude for being given the honor of taking part in that proclamation on a regular basis.
    Quite often, the man who leads us in the prayers at communion expresses thanks. Such is appropriate, and it helps us have our minds in the right place. But even if that is not expressly stated in the prayer, there are still ways we can show our gratitude as we "eat this bread and drink this cup." Our hearts should be filled with many emotions as we partake, not the least of which should be thankfulness.
   So, whether vocally uttered or not, will you show your thanks today as you partake?
- 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.
 

Showing Honor to the Son

By Brian Mitchell

 

    Jesus’ ministry was known as a ministry of many things. It was a ministry of: healing—spiritual and physical, teaching and preaching, redemption, justification, reconciliation and suffering to name a few. But it was also a ministry of controversy. Why was Jesus’

ministry so controversial? While there are many reasons for such the following will provide some insight into why it was so controversial.

    It was controversial because the people did not accept the fact that He had come from the Father and thus they did not recognize His authority or give Him the honor He was due. It was controversial because the leaders of the day, both religious and secular, were threatened by Jesus and felt that if He was allowed to succeed they might lose their positions of prestige and authority. It was controversial because they had looked for a physical fulfillment of many of the Old Testament prophecies that related to Christ and thus Jesus was not what they expected or wanted.

    It was controversial because Jesus did things that were not in keeping with their traditions, such as washing of hands—Mk.7:2-5, ceremonial fasting—Mt.9:14-15 and healing on the Sabbath—Jn.5:16. In the end it was controversial because Jesus made Himself out to be equal with God—Jn.5:17-18. Jesus at every turn did things that were not in keeping with the people’s expectations or traditions. Because of this His ministry was surrounded by controversy and turmoil and because of this they sought to kill Him.

    If I had to boil it down I would say that the following was the real reason why Jesus’ ministry was so surrounded by controversy. It is because of the fact that the people did not really honor God as they should have—Jn.5:22-23. If they would have truly given God the honor He deserved, they would have then honored the Son who came from the Father. Here is an important lesson! No one can honor God if they do not honor His Son.

    One can think they are giving honor to God while in reality dishonoring Him. The Jews did such on many occasions and even Paul at one time thought he was honoring God by persecuting members of the church. Thus, we do not honor the Father or the Son unless we do so in the proper manner.

    Jesus is worthy of our honor. All will one day give honor to the Son, the only question is whether or not we will do so by choice or because we have no choice—Ph.2:9-11. There are but two choices in this life that are of any real consequence in the end. That is whether we choose to give honor to the Son or whether we choose not to. Which will you choose?
- 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


Nobody is a Nobody in the Family of God

By Edd Sterchi

 

    If you have ever read Romans 16:1-16, you will see a list of people Paul wished to commend for their work in the church.  The vast majority of them are individuals of whom we have no additional details concerning their lives or service in Christ.  But Paul wanted to honor them for their dedication and contribution to the advancement of the gospel.

    In the early church we see the membership actively engaged in the work of the Lord.  Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the church is a body made up of many different individual parts – all with important functions (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; see also Romans 12:4-8).  It is so well worded in Ephesians 4:16, “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    The bottom line is this: Nobody is a nobody in the family of God. Everybody is important and everybody has something to contribute. Let us all find our place and do our part.  You are an essential worker!
- 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/


Walking Before, After, & With God

By Joe Slater

 

    “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless’” (Genesis 17:1). God had great plans for Abram. He would make a great nation of his descendants and give them the promised land of milk and honey. Eventually the Savior of mankind would appear through the lineage of Abram.

    With such great promises came great expectations. The Lord wanted Abram’s faithful, obedient behavior. Since Christ is the fulfillment of the promise, and Christians are heirs of the promise (Hebrews 6:17), God also expects us to walk before Him and be blameless. The Lord sees all that we do and knows all we say or think. Knowledge of His presence should encourage us to be confident and motivate us to refrain from sin, knowing we cannot hide from Him.

    Walking “after” God emphasizes faithful obedience a bit differently. God, through Moses, told Israel: “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4). They were to follow God’s leading, not that of the false prophets in the previous verse. Likewise, we must walk after God, rejecting the false ideas of men.

    None of this is new! People who love God have always endeavored to do His will. Scripture gives credit to two men who “walked with God” – Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Noah (Genesis 6:9). They lived in harmony with God’s will and enjoyed close fellowship with Him.

    Walk before God! Let the knowledge of His presence encourage and motivate you. Walk after God! Follow the leading of His word. Walk with God! Live in harmony with His will and enjoy His fellowship!

- 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