Sunday, August 27, 2023

Helpful Aids For Bible Study (#1)

By Joe Slater
    We frequently speak of the importance of individual Bible study. Sermons and group Bible classes ought to be seen as supplements to personal study, not substitutes for it. And remember the difference between casual reading and study. Reading alone will benefit you, but study can open doors that casual reading leaves closed.
    Obviously, Bible study requires that you have a Bible to study! Obtain one with a font size that makes it easy to read. Center column or side column cross references can be helpful, but be advised that just because a cross reference takes you to a certain passage, that passage isn’t necessarily talking about the same thing. You have to study and think! In that same vein, be extremely cautious with “study Bibles.” Most have some good material, but also contain abundant false teaching. Here again, study and think!
    I recommend studying from multiple English translations. Not every translation is reliable, but often something can be gained even by reading a translation that may not be the best and shouldn’t be your “go to” Bible. For example, I don’t recommend the NIV as one’s primary Bible, but on occasion it does a respectable job of clearing up the meaning of a passage. My personal practice is to read a passage from my primary version (NKJV), but also from the KJV, ASV, NASB, ESV, and NIV.
    A good concordance can make Bible study easier. A concordance is a listing of words (such as “faith” or “baptism”) showing the passages where those words are used. I prefer Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, but some like Young’s Analytical Concordance or some other. If you are computer or internet savvy, many concordances are available online or in computer programs. Once more, just because two passages use the same word doesn’t necessarily mean they deal with the same thing. Study and think!

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

Helpful Aids For Bible Study (#2)

By Joe Slater
    Once you have a suitable Bible to study and a good concordance to use, consider acquiring a Bible Dictionary. Many are available, some being better than others. Smith’s is an old standby, as is Peloubet’s. Just because it says “dictionary” doesn’t mean everything it says is true. Here’s the old refrain: Study and think!
    Bible Encyclopedias are basically the same as Bible Dictionaries, but more detailed. These works contain valuable background information to help you understand the Biblical text. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is an old standard, but there are many others. Like any uninspired book, read with your eyes wide open and your brain fully engaged!
    A Bible Atlas will help you locate countries, cities, rivers and seas, giving you a better grasp of what is happening in the Biblical records you read. It reminds you that the Bible deals with real people who lived in real places.
    I purposely saved Commentaries for last. Far too many people run to the commentary first. Commentaries can be valuable resources, but you should first read the text from multiple translations and then study it carefully by running cross references and using your concordance. Then make use of your Bible Dictionary and/or Bible Encyclopedia along with your Bible Atlas. The final resource you should consult is the commentary. You should already have a fair grasp of what the text is teaching before you reach for the commentary. It may provide some details and other points that you didn’t see before. Be aware of the religious background of the commentator. Expect to encounter some erroneous ideas from denominational authors, and sometimes even from members of the Lord’s church.
    I hope these suggestions will encourage you to be diligent and careful in your reading and study of the Bible!

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

Do We Live Under The 10 Commandments Today?

By Wes Garland
    People in the world today believe that we are to live under the 10 commandments today. Is this true or is this a false statement? The way that we are going to evaluate this question is by looking at where the 10 commandments are stated, who was the spokesman of these commandments, and to whom it was stated. In evaluating this question in this way, it should clear up any question if we are under these commandments or not.
    Let’s begin by looking at where these 10 commandments are stated. These 10 commandments are found in Exodus 20:3-17. Moses is the spokesman when writing these statements and is on Mt. Sinai receiving these laws. The uniqueness of these commandments is that these laws were instituted 1500 years before the coming of Christ. This is important to notice because if we notice that he wrote and commanded this before Christ came then it was present BEFORE Christ. This is important because we know that Moses stated in Deuteronomy 18:15 and also verses 18-19, “15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,…18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” All of this refers to Christ. We also see in Matthew 17:1-5 where Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration and we see Moses, Elijah, and Jesus present. During this, the Lord overshadowed Moses and Elijah and revealed Jesus only and said “…This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” God was telling Peter, James, and John that they needed to listen to Jesus and not to Moses, or the prophets. We have to realize that when Jesus came on the scene, the focus was now on JESUS and NOT MOSES.
    Now let’s look at another thing: to whom it was stated. In Deuteronomy 5:1-5, we see that Moses states that the Law that was given on the Mountain was for Israel and Israel only. Now we know that throughout the Bible, you see 2 different statuses of people: Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were the people of Israel while the Gentiles were anyone else NOT Jewish. So, we can all simply understand that if we are not of the descent of Israel, WE WERE NEVER UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES, TO BEGIN WITH! But, let’s say that they are of that lineage, does it still mean that we are under that law today? NO. Because again, the Lord Jesus Christ, came and OVERTOOK and ESTABLISHED the NEW law. When Jesus died on the cross, He nailed the OLD TESTAMENT (Law of Moses included) to it. We see this in Ephesians 2:15, “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,”. We also see this in Romans 7:4, “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Now how do we know that this is the law that he is speaking of? Romans 7:7 quotes the law “You shall not covet.” So that law was put to death through the body of Christ and therefore is not governing us today.
    But I notice that there are 9 out of the 10 commandments found in the New Testament. Christ has every right to bring over and instruct us in whatever way He desires. He brings these 9 over for the fact that they are eternal principles. No matter what law you lived under, these would govern God’s people. By the way, when Christ stated these to be followed in the New Testament, was it enforced from the mouth of Moses or Christ? Christ! It is not the Law of Moses, but yet NOW the Law of Christ. Nothing in the Old Testament is binding on us today, but we are to learn from it and take heed to its warnings and exhortation (Rom. 15:4). 

- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

There Is No Victory Without a Battle

By Joe Chesser
    I love the song Faith Is the Victory! We like to talk about faith. We love to sing songs and hear sermons about faith. We dream of having a faith that is so strong and vibrant that it will never fail, a faith that will conquer every obstacle. Faith is a popular topic among Christians.
    But why do we need such a faith? For victory, of course! Faith Is the Victory! But victory over what? Well, I'm afraid that’s what we don’t enjoy thinking about. As A.W. Tozer wrote, “We must keep in mind that before we can have a victory, we must have a battle” (A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night, page 114).
    We don’t like battles. Why would we? Battles are dangerous. Battles are costly. Battles cause pain and suffering. Battles are not fun. Battles prevent us from enjoying the good life.
    However, as much as we dislike battles, they are actually one of God’s plans for our progress. When battles are overcome by faith in God’s power, they make us stronger and help us move forward. Battles open our eyes to see the deliverance of God. They help us recognize how much we depend upon God and not ourselves to be victorious in this life. Before we can have a victory we must have a battle.
    Israel enjoyed God’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. It was an exciting day when they marched away from slavery under Pharoah. They also enjoyed the thought of going to the Promised Land. What they didn’t enjoy were the numerous battles they would have to fight along the way as they journeyed from Egypt to Canaan. They didn’t get it that the battles they encountered were designed to increase their faith in the God of victory. They (and we) needed to learn to trust God to lead them to victory, and to learn that God’s victory had to be accomplished according to His unique plans and in His time. Like us, they all too often wanted to either fight their battles with their own strength and cunning, or try to avoid the battles all together.
    For example, when the Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Paran they sent in 12 men to spy out the land God had promised them (Numbers 12.16-13.24). They came back with glowing reports. It was a land flowing with milk and honey (13.27). However, the people were strong, the cities fortified, and there were giants in the land. 10 of the spies reported that it was a land that devours its enemies (13.32) and we are like grasshoppers (13.33). Not a word of faith in God. Not a word of seeking God’s help or wisdom. In fact, not a word about God at all except questions why God led them into such a disastrous situation (14.1-4). To the majority of people it was an unwinnable battle. They would rather go back to slavery in Egypt than do battle with the people of Canaan! There was no victory for that generation of Israelites because they refused to follow God into battle. Instead of being forward looking people of faith, they retreated back into the wilderness.
    I fear that Israel’s example describes many of us today. God’s vast promises of deep spiritual riches are within our reach. They are within sight. But they won’t be ours without a fight. Unlike Israel, our battle is not flesh and blood. No, we must do battle with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6.12). Sadly, our culture has yielded to their evil influences. And Satan has convinced many Christians, especially our young people, to identify with this evil culture. The good news is that with faith in God (and not ourselves) victory is assured. But we must be willing to fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4.7).
    Remember, there is no victory without a battle. Faith Is the Victory!

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

Jesus Christ Personified

By Edd Sterchi
Inspired men prophesied.
He came to earth and complied,
and on God’s will totally relied.
But by men He was denied,
unjustly tried,
and horribly crucified.
He cried,
and died.
Blood poured from His side.
But death could not preside,
and was nullified.
Now in heaven glorified,
He is our eternal guide,
through whom we are sanctified,
forever with Him identified,
our eternal salvation completely supplied,
and our blessings multiplied.
And now you must decide –
Do you want His blood applied?

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Stuck in My Head

By Bob Prichard
    A tune was stuck in my head. It was a jazzy clarinet tune.  I was racking my brain trying to figure out what it was, and where it came from, when I happened to see a Land Rover TV commercial playing the tune. I had picked up the tune without paying attention.
    Without even trying, our minds scoop up what we see, hear, smell, and feel. God has created us in such a way that we can remember an event from twenty-five years ago like it happened yesterday.
    Knowing it is possible for us to absorb so many things without even thinking about it, shouldn’t we be extra cautious about where we go, what we do, and what we expose our minds to? The more we fill our minds with good things, the more good things there will be to well up into our conscious or unconscious minds. We need David’s attitude: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).
    The song was “Baby Elephant Walk,” written by Henry Mancini for the 1962 movie Hatari. Listen to it, and it will probably get stuck in your head, too! Why not spend some time this week putting good things from God in your head!

- Bob Prichard serves as an elder and evangelist for the Hillview Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2016. In his forty-five years of preaching he has served churches in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Learning to Think about Our Money In God’s Way

By Brian Mitchell
    “God lets men have their playthings like little children that they may learn to distinguish them from true and valuable possessions. If they are not learning that lesson, then He takes them away; that through the lack of them and misery thereof they may finally learn what is most valuable.” “The more things men seek, the more varied the things they imagine they need, the more they are subject to vanity—all the forms of which may be summed up with one word, that being disappointment. He who would not be overwhelmed with this disappointment must seek for that which is truly valuable and not merely temporal.”
    The point of these quotations is to demonstrate the folly of seeking after, with one’s whole heart, that which will not endure and in the end will not bring any lasting fulfillment. Possessions and wealth are not inherently evil, the inordinate all-consuming pursuit of them is. It is fine to have material possessions, the problem is when we are never satisfied with the possessions we have and so we continually want more and more and more. When we don’t find ultimate fulfillment in these possessions we wonder why.
    The problem is when our things possess us instead of us possessing our things and using them for God’s glory. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk.12:15). Covetousness—the strong desire for that which others have, characterized by greed. The problem for many Americans is that they are never satisfied with what they have, they are as we shall discuss later, addicted to the pursuit of material possessions.
    Constantly we are bombarded with images from T.V., magazines, movies and books that encourage us to desire more. Often with the sense of entitlement that says in effect that “you deserve everything you want.” One of the greatest causes of the current economic crisis is the financial overextension of many American families who simply used credit to afford lifestyles that in essence they simply could not afford. Thus, when the credit dried up and the housing market crashed, people finally woke up to the reality that they were in dire financial straits.
    What was the root cause—materialistic greed and covetousness which is the closest biblical word to materialism. Sadly, the church has not gone unaffected by this dilemma and thus materialism in all its ugly forms is one of Satan’s greatest weapons against the people of God. We want and do not have and so instead of learning to be content with what we have, we simply want for more and do whatever we can to get it.
    One of the greatest ironies of covetousness and materialism, especially in relation to how dangerous it is, is the difficulty of detecting or admitting the sin in our own lives. That is why it is one of Satan’s most deceptive weapons. In an article written by Paul Keller, a Catholic priest was reported as saying that “in all of his years of hearing confession, he had heard people admit to every sin imaginable—except the sin of covetousness.”
    This is because when it comes to materialism and the covetous attitudes which lead to it, it is extremely hard for any of us to admit that our own materialistic desires have become either selfish or excessive. That is why it is time for us to be honest about this problem and if guilty of it we need to repent and start putting first things first again.

- 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

He Will Deliver Us

By Clifton Angel
    About 2,600 years ago, God gave idolatrous Judah into the hands of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar made special servants of the young men of Judah who fit his criteria. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (more commonly known by their catchy Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego). In the account of Daniel 3, we learn where King Nebuchadnezzar erects an image of gold and decrees that all must worship the it (1–7). The Babylonians complained to the king how that certain Jews—Hananiah, Mishael, & Azariah—were not bowing to the statue (8–12). The king threatened them with the fiery furnace (13–15). Their response to the king was: “ If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (16–18). So, the king threw them into the furnace, which was so hot it killed the king’s servants who were charged with the task (19–23). Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace, and none of them were consumed (24–27); therefore, Nebuchadnezzar changed his attitude toward God and the three Hebrew servants (28–30).
    Numerous modern lessons can be learned from this tremendous and miraculous occasion. Some likely worshipped the image of gold because they truly love the golden image, or because they wanted please others, or they feared persecution. Some love money and make it their idol today, because they truly love money and believe it is what brings them happiness (1 Timothy 6:6–12), and some do so because they love to have the glory of men (John 12:43), and some do so for fear of persecution and ridicule (1 Peter 4:16; Matthew 5:10). There were also those who refused to bow to the golden image. Some worship the God of Heaven today because “He will deliver us.” How many will worship the God of Heaven even if He doesn’t deliver us? (Matthew 16:24–25). Finally, there is a lesson in the strength we obtain from suffering (1 Peter 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:5–9; James 1:2ff). While our faithfulness to God may cause us to pass through the fire on earth, our opponents will eventually be put to shame. It might even be the case that how we respond to suffering and persecution changes their attitude toward us and the God of Heaven—like Nebuchadnezzar with the Hebrew youths.
    Truly, He will deliver us.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

A Reason to Celebrate

By David A. Sargent 

    Brendan Harrison is a high school teacher and varsity boys’ baseball coach in Saginaw, Michigan.  “Coach Bubba” is what his baseball players call him.
    In October 2022, Harrison was diagnosed with colon cancer.  A doctor performed surgery to remove a cancerous mass.  After recovering from surgery, he began receiving chemotherapy treatments.
    On May 8, Harrison finally completed his 12th and final chemotherapy treatment.  As he exited the health care facility, he was greeted by a large crowd of family, friends, students, and his baseball team.  With tears of gratitude, Coach Harrison rang a bell signifying the completion of his treatments and embraced his family, friends and students that had come to celebrate with him. *
    What a wonderful reason to celebrate!
    There is another celebration in which we will all want to share…
    In Luke 15 in the Bible, Jesus, the Son of God, tells three parables.  In each of them, something is lost and is found.  When the lost object is found – a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son – there is great rejoicing, a celebration!
    Here is Jesus’ application of His three stories: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10; see also v. 7, 22-24).
    Because of our sins, we are lost (Romans 3:23; 6:23).  But God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to “find” us and to save us (John 3:16).  Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we can receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:7).
    God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
    And when one of us accepts God’s offer on His terms, there is rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:10) and on earth.  In heaven, God and the angels rejoice.  On earth, the family of God (the church, those who have also embraced the grace of God by trusting and obeying Jesus) rejoices because God has added another saved soul to their midst (Acts 2:41, 47).
    Now that’s a reason to celebrate!
    If YOU will accept God’s offer, heaven and earth are ready to celebrate with you!

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

* Information gleaned from “Michigan teacher brought to tears as students, family surprise him after final round of chemo” by Sydney Borchers of Fox News,

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

By David R. Ferguson
    What is baptism? Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It signifies and seals our ingrafting into Christ as partakers of the benefits of the covenant of grace. Quite simply, Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. In Matthew 3:13-15 it says, "Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, `I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, `Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him."
    Additionally, it’s possible that Jesus was baptized so He could enter into the Melchizedek priesthood to become the High Priest and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Exodus 29:1-7 says, "Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour. And you shall put them in one basket, and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water. And you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; and you shall set the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. Then you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his head and anoint him." Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1 John 2:20,27) The Holy Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove and rested upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16). Jesus was baptized because He had to fulfill the legal requirements for entering into the priesthood. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:8-10; Hebrews 6:20). Priests offered sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. Jesus became a sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21) in His role as priest. Likewise, He may have needed to be 30 years old to enter the priesthood: "...from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter upon the service, to do the work in the tent of meeting" (Numbers 4:3). To be consecrated as a priest, He had to be washed with water (Exodus 29:4, Leviticus 8:6; Matthew 3:16) and anointed with oil (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12; Matthew 3:16). Both of these were bestowed upon Jesus at His baptism. In all this, Jesus fulfilled “all righteousness.”

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or

Sunday, August 13, 2023

The Runaway Bunny

By Al Behel
    Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7)
    Sometimes teens decide to run away from home. They want freedom.
They want to be out from under the control of their parents. They may travel all the way across the country to get as far away as possible. Parents are frantic. They wait by the phone. They pray for their safety. They plead for their return.
    Margaret Wise Brown has written many children’s books. Each has a simple story. One of her books is entitled, “The Runaway Bunny.” It is about a little bunny that tells his mother that he has decided to run away from home. “If you run away, I will run after you. You are my little bunny.” She tells him that if he becomes a fish she will become a fisherman and fish for him. If he becomes a little boy, she will become a human mother and hold him in her arms. She convinces him that no matter where he goes she will go after him. Finally he says, “Shucks! I might as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
    That’s really what David was saying about us. No matter where we go, God is there. He never leaves us or deserts us. We can’t travel beyond His reach. “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”
    God’s love can’t let us go from His heart. No matter how far we wander away from His presence, His eye is always on us and He longs for our return. Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God is always watching and waiting for us to come over the hill. As Paul said, “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus...” (Romans 8:39). His inseparable love is always there.
    It doesn’t matter how far you have gone from God’s presence, He is still there. His hand will always be outstretched, waiting and longing for your return. He will not force you to come back. You must want to return to Him, but He will not stop loving you. That’s why He came down, took on our nature, human flesh, and walked the rocky roads He had made, while being rejected and abused by the very persons He came to rescue from the powers of death and hell. That’s why He endured the cross. Because He loves you so.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4: 16).

- 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 -

From Heaven Or From Men?

By Joe Slater
    Jesus respected the question of authority. On the morning after He drove the merchants and money changers out of the temple, the Sanhedrin demanded to know, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:2). They viewed the temple as their own domain, and they certainly hadn’t given Jesus permission to teach there, much less to regulate what occurred on temple grounds. After all, He had not graduated from rabbinical school, so they viewed Him as a presumptuous intruder.
    Jesus didn’t deny the need for authority, but neither did He accept their demand for human approval. In an absolutely brilliant maneuver, Jesus changed the focus to divine authority and the Sanhedrin’s total lack of fitness to judge His credentials. He asked a simple multiple-choice question: “The baptism of John – was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:4).
    The Sanhedrin certainly hadn’t approved John’s work. He had rebuked some of them, calling them a generation of vipers! (Matthew 3:7). The people, however, correctly counted John to be a prophet (thus having authority from God in heaven). Since the Sanhedrin feared the people, they refused to state their true convictions that John’s authority was from men, that is, he was acting on his own. Instead, they claimed not to know, thereby confessing themselves unfit to judge Jesus’ source of authority.
    We should follow Jesus’ example of asking not for human authority, but for divine authority. Every teaching and practice should be put to the test: “Is this from heaven or from men?” Let us teach and do what God authorizes in His word while rejecting all that lacks divine sanction!

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

Lessons From The Seventy

By Dan C. Bailey
    In Luke chapter ten, the Lord appointed seventy disciples to go out and preach that the kingdom of God was nigh. As he sent them out he gave them specific instructions. Let us carefully and prayerfully consider some of the lessons that he taught them as he sent them to preach the word of God.
    Jesus taught that "...the harvest truly is great" (Luke 10:2). Jesus knew that there were many who needed to hear the word of the coming kingdom. Jesus was not a pessimist. He saw a great harvest for God. Brethren, the harvest is still there. We can win souls for Christ if we prayerfully plant the gospel of Christ in the hearts of lost sinners.
    Jesus taught that "... the laborers are few" (Luke 10:2). We need more workers in the kingdom God. There can be no harvest without workers. Every Christian is commanded to be a soul winner for the Lord. The great commission which was given to the apostles, must be preached until the end of the world. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world Amen" (Mathew 28:18-20).
    Jesus taught that his disciples should pray that "...the Lord of the harvest would send forth reapers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2): God will bless us with workers when we pray and trust absolutely in His word. The great providence of God could bless us with another man with a heart like Paul, but first he must be converted. We must work harder in order to reach more of the lost Brethren, let us pray about these matters.
    Jesus taught the seventy, "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me" (Luke 10:16). In principle, when we teach the true gospel of Christ, we are acting on the commands of our Lord. If people hear God's faithful servants, then they hear Christ. If they despise God's servants, then they despise Christ. And if they despise Christ} they despise God the Father. Those who refuse to obey the Lord will " thrust down to hell" (Luke 10:15).
    When the seventy returned they rejoiced in that "...even the devils" were subject unto them through the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17). Jesus said, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). Brethren, their names were written in heaven because they were faithful disciples of Christ. That is what we are whenever we go out and do what the Lord said to do. Let us all work together in order to help reach the lost With God's help, we shall have a great harvest. May God help us to be active in His service!

Attitudes Toward Sin

By Joe Chesser
      My wife and I were reading from 1 Corinthians 5 recently. The first two verses told us about a man in the Corinthian church who was practicing a despicable sin. He was actually in a sexual relationship with his stepmom. According to 5.1, such things were not heard of, much less tolerated, even among the pagans. Yet, as bad as the sexual immorality was, the reason it was mentioned to the Corinthian Christians wasn’t so much about the sin itself, which was bad enough, but about the church’s attitude toward it. It’s almost unimaginable, but Paul said the Corinthians were puffed up (arrogant) about it (5.2), boasting even (5.6). They not  only tolerated the scandal, they had a sense of pride about it! Paul quickly told them that immediate changes needed to be made. The sinner needed to be reproved and removed from the church – disfellowshipped. Plus, their own attitude toward the sin and sinner needed to change. Instead of them being tolerant and/or proud, they should have felt humiliation and shame.  As an assembled church (5.4) they were to “deliver this man to Satan” (5.5). As harsh and drastic as that may sound, there are good reasons for such actions, namely for the saving of the man’s soul and for the purity of the church (5.7).
    As Bible study should always do, this passage got me to thinking. I began reflecting on my attitude about sin. How do I feel about my own sin? How do I feel about the sins of others – in the church and outside the church? I also thought about how sin is viewed in our current American culture.
    If you had been in the Corinthian church, how would you have felt about the man’s sin with his stepmom? Would you have felt differently after reading Paul’s letter to the church? Perhaps a more difficult questions is how do you view your own sin and sin in your own congregation? Do you view sin differently now than, say, five to ten years ago? How do you feel when a known sinner repents?
    As a whole, most of us reading this would say that sin is a very bad thing. But, really, what does that mean to you? I can’t answer that specifically for you; only you can do that. But I do know that there are wide varieties of attitudes about sin circulating around us and within us: from complete tolerance (“loving” everyone; judging no one) to total intolerance (compassionless legalism). One extreme is grace without accountability and the opposite extreme is accountability without grace. Neither represents the way the Bible depicts the Lord. Likewise, neither should portray the attitude of Christians toward sin.
    Let’s consider some contrasts to help us see what God’s attitude toward sin is.
·        Both Judas and Peter sinned by denying Jesus. However, their response to their own sin was totally opposite. Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27.5). Peter wept bitterly (Matthew 26.75). Which response was what the Lord desired?
·        Two men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee denied his sin and bragged how great he was. The tax collector refused to look up toward heaven. Instead he beat on his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18.9-14). Which had the attitude toward sin that Jesus wanted?
·        Ahaz and David were both kings of Israel who sinned, but Ahaz was nothing like David (2 Kings 16.2). Ahaz did whatever he wanted; David, however, humbled himself when his sin was pointed out by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12.17 ; Psalm 51).
    I’ll ask again – how do you view your sin and the sins of others. There are several choices. You can flat out deny that you or anyone else sins (no God, no sin). You can rationalize sin to the point it becomes simply a personal choice (abortion; homosexuality, adultery, etc.). You can mock sin; make jokes about it to minimize the seriousness of sin. You can brush it off until later; delaying any personal confrontation with it. You can feel guilty you got caught (worldly sorrow that doesn’t lead to repentance – 2 Corinthians 7.10). Or, hopefully, you will be so heartbroken over your sin that godly sorrow will lead you to repentance (Acts 2.37-38; 2 Corinthians 7.10). Plus, you will do you best to help others come to realize how serious sin is and encourage them to accept God’s forgiveness.
    The Bible is clear about the nature of sin. And sin is sin whether it is acknowledged or not.  Sin is horrific. It is treacherous. It is contemptable. It destroys. It separates us from God. God hates sin, and so should we. The closer we get to God, the more we should hate sin.
    Two things in conclusion.  (1) God has a standard by which He will judge the world (Acts 17.30-31). Although He will use His standard to make His final judgment, (2) He allows every one of us the free choice of deciding for ourselves whether or not to believe in Jesus and obey the Gospel. It’s your choice how you view sin and how you accept God’s remedy for sin. This is the message the Spirit sent to the Corinthian church ... and it is the message He is sending to each of us today.

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

God is Our Father

By Bill Brandstatter
    God is our Father. There are other religions that cannot make this claim of the one they worship. Christians can address God on a personal level. Jesus prayed, “Our Father which art in heaven.” (Matt. 6:9) Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). Jesus had been with God from eternity (Phil. 2:5-8; John 1:1). He came from the Father (John 17:1-3).
    God is the Father of all. The writer of Hebrews refers to him as the “Father of spirits” in chapter 12 verse 9. In a very real sense, He is our Father. Malachi wrote, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10) Paul stated, “We are his offspring” (Acts 17:28, 29).
    God is the Father of all Christians. In another very special sense, He is the head of the family (Eph. 3:15). Christians are begotten by God’s Word (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22, 23). Sinners by conversion become the adopted sons or children of God (Rom. 8:14-17). Faith and baptism give us a special relationship as children (Gal. 3:26, 27). Anyone can be part of God’s special family (Gal. 3:28).
    God is the Father that loves us. God demonstrated His love for us. Paul writes that “while we were sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) God’s love is not sentimental or emotional. It is the kind of love that is sacrificial. He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). God sent His son into a sin-filled world. He sent His son to die for the world. God’s love abounds in the lives of the obedient. (Eph. 1:3; 3:20) He has made it possible for us to show our love for Him. John helps us in understanding by writing; “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jn. 5:3 NKJV) So, God demonstrated His love for us and we must demonstrate our love for Him. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
    God is a Father that wants to be first in our lives. God loves us but He wants to be first in our lives. He knows what we need. In Ex. 20:5, God declares: “For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God.” God said previously “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exo. 20:3) Those who do not put God first will suffer the consequences. Jeremiah wrote the Lord’s words: “Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins.” (Jer.14:10) Let us put God first, and He will take care of us (Mt. 6:33). He does His part, and we must do ours.

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

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Our Lord is Always There

By Gerald Cowan
When your day is dark and dreary,
You see no light, anywhere.
Beyond the clouds the sun is shining, 
For it always shines somewhere.
Just because you cannot see it,
Doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Beyond the clouds our God is working,
Giving strength that we may bear
The griefs and sorrows that beset us,
Giving grace through all our care.
Just because you cannot see Him
Doesn’t mean He isn’t there.
When your life is filled with heartache,
Each day brings a load of care
And no one else can lift your burden,
Christ will all your sorrow share.
He will work together with us,
Helping all our load to bear.
Take your troubles all to Jesus.
He’s as near as whispered prayer.
Just because you cannot see him,
Doesn’t mean he isn’t there.
Hasten to his place of safety.
He is waiting for you there.

- 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

It’s Good for You

By David A. Sargent
    Forgiving others can be good for your health.
    This conclusion was reached in a recent study completed by Harvard University.  4,598 subjects from five countries – Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Africa, and Ukraine – who said they’d been hurt or offended by another person, were studied by international researchers of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.  In the study, subjects were asked to work through a “forgiveness workbook” that directed them in ways to forgive their offenders.  The results found that those who completed the exercises in the self-directed workbook experienced reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to those who were not given the workbooks. *
    Refusing to forgive leads to bitterness and resentment.  Holding a grudge has been likened to a person drinking poison expecting the offender to die.
    Get rid of bitterness by forgiving others is what the Bible teaches us.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
    Forgiving others is not only good for our health; each of us also desperately needs forgiveness.
    Through our sins, we are the offenders of our holy God.  Our sins separate us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2) and put us on the path of destruction (Romans 6:23).
    But God loves us so much that He offers forgiveness to us.  His offer came at a great price: the death of His Son, Jesus.  God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can receive His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NKJV).
    God will forgive and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
    Those who accept God’s offer of forgiveness must be willing to extend forgiveness to others.  Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV).
    Some ask, “But how can I forgive my offender?  He has hurt me!”
    Our ability to forgive begins by realizing how badly each of us needs forgiveness from God.  When we realize the immense debt that Jesus paid for our forgiveness, we are able to forgive others.
    Accept God’s forgiveness on His terms.  Then extend forgiveness to others.  It’s good for your mental and physical health now, and it is necessary to have eternal life.

- 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:


* Information gleaned from “Forgiveness could lead to better mental health, Harvard study reveals” by Angelica Stabile of Fox News,

Servants of Jesus Christ

By Jeff Arnette
    The past few weeks have been hard on all of us, especially the families of Marcus Carrington and Adam Haygood. We’ve all struggled with feelings of loss and being overwhelmed with the hurt and pain of losing people we care about.
    As I knew you would, this wonderful church family showed up in a mighty way and made a bigger impact than you could ever imagine. Not only did you flood the gates of heaven with your prayers for the families, but you showed up at each service and then fed both families. I don’t know how we could have gotten through the last 3 weeks without you.
    You made Jesus Christ proud; you made this church proud, and you made me proud to be part of this wonderful church family. My heart felt thank you could never express how much it meant to the families and to me personally. It is in times like this that we see just how important the Lord’s church is to our well-being and success.
1 Corinthians 12:12–14 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (ESV)
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV)
    To all the men and women who sacrificed your time, money, and energy to support us, I want to say I love you all so very much. We couldn’t do this without you. Often, I get all the credit simply because I’m the one standing up front but without all of you, who are behind the scenes quietly working for the Lord, it wouldn’t happen. You are truly a blessing from God and thank you is simply not enough.
    For you, these words reflect your faith and service,
“… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (Matt. 25:34-36, ESV)

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

What are You Hungry For?

By Ed Wittlif
“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word” (I Peter 2:2a NASB).
    How hungry are you for God’s word? Most of us have three meals per day and snacks.
How many do you partake of the spiritual food of God’s word daily? If you don’t eat to maintain your physical body, the results can damage your health and lead to physical death. At some point, you became a Christian; however, if you are not into God’s word with any regularity, the result will stunt your spiritual growth and lead to spiritual death.
    Bible class Sunday morning, maybe Wednesday evening, listening to a sermon Sunday morning and maybe evening isn’t enough. Perhaps you read a few verses a day or when you remember to. It isn’t enough to snack on the scriptures.
    Hebrews 4:13 teaches that God’s word is active and will affect us. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul focuses on the affect that the inspired word can have on the reader. It teaches, reproves, corrects, trains in righteousness, and prepares us for good works.
    The Holy Spirit is not going supernaturally put God’s word in you. The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, does not automatically pop into you. It takes work, consistent effort, and time spent in study and meditation. You have developed a habit of feeding your body at certain times, and you need to develop a habit of feeding your spiritual needs at set times.
     What do you hunger for now? Do you hunger for entertainment, games, social media, sports, hobbies, or? All of those can be good things. They are just temporary in the scheme of things. Those things use up valuable time that could be used to be in God’s word or even in doing good works.
    Hymn: “Ancient Words”
    ABBA Father, Creator of everything, I praise You alone. I beg that You help me to develop a hunger for Your word. Cause me to feel it when I miss a spiritual meal. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

- Ed Wittlif lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Ed has written two books, Baptism What is it Good For? and 52 Devotionals on Spiritual Warfare. Both are available on Amazon, He has served the church in many roles and as a shepherd. Ed can be reached at

June Again

By Adam Faughn

    It is June again. June is a fantastic month! June brings along summer weather, delicious fruits, the end of the school year, family vacations, exciting church events, and so many other wonderful things! It is a month full of warmth, happiness, joy, and fun. I am a summer guy. I love to be on/in the water, to go on hikes, and to be out in God’s creation, so June is a wonderful month for me.
   Unfortunately, many Christians have come to dread the month of June for one particular reason: Pride Month. In recent years, the start of June invariably brings with it rainbows, logo changes, festivals, and more as our society seeks to celebrate sin. You cannot live in the USA in the month of June and not hear or see something about Pride Month, LGBTQ+ rights, or letting love win. Many Christians are saddened and frustrated by the glorification of sin in our society, especially in the month of June, and rightly so. Sin is absolutely wrong. God hates it. God’s heart hurts when people sin and celebrate sin, and so should ours. There isnever an acceptable reason to celebrate or glorify sin. But here is my problem: too many Christians let the world’s glorification of sin dim the glory of God.
    What do I mean by that? While June brings with it the celebration of Pride Month, it also often brings with it these kinds of statements by Christians. “The world is worse than ever before.” “Our country is in the most sinful state it has ever been.” “There is so much more sin today than when I was a kid.” “People are more evil and twisted than they used to be.” “Our kids face so much more sin than previous generations.” Statements like these sadden me for three big reasons: 1) they are depressing, 2) they are not theologically consistent with God’s Word, and 3) they dim the glory of God.    I don’t think I have to explain why those statements are depressing. All I’ll say about that is don’t be so quick to abandon the abundant joy found in Christ.
    Those statements are also not theologically consistent with God’s Word. 1 John 2:17 says, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” The world, its sin, and its glorification of sin are passing away. This morning, the world and its sin are closer to their end than ever before. We have never been closer to the end of sin than at this present moment. The world is not more sinful than ever before. In reality, the world has never been closer to eternity and the end of sin. More than that, Christians have never been closer to forever after with God than at this present moment. Those are two beautiful and joyful things to think about!
    Finally, those statements dim the glory of God. When sin is magnified by the world around us, so many Christians actually help magnify it even more by focusing on how bad things are. When we only focus on the sadness and evil of a world that glorifies sin, we often forget to glorify our great God. We know that sin is wrong, but let’s not forget that God is good. Our hyperfocus on sin can dim the glory of God in our lives by preventing us from doing what we are really supposed to be spending our time doing: glorifying our mighty God who has defeated Satan and sin, who has washed us clean from sins, and who has promised us that sin has never been closer to its end and we have never been closer to our eternity.
    So, yes, it's June again. And praise God that it is! It is another month of beauty, another month closer to the end of sin, another month closer to the realization of eternity, and another month to rejoice in the glory of our great God.

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith