Sunday, September 24, 2023

Cleaning Up the Debris

By Joe Chesser

    A fierce wind storm came through the Salzburg area last night.  It wasn’t like the tornadoes that swept through Arkansas and Missouri a few weeks back destroying houses, flipping cars, ripping off roofs and uprooting huge oak trees, but it did leave in its wake a lot of debris. This morning when Areva and I went out for a walk I saw lots of Austrian folks cleaning up their yards and property. They wasted no time by putting it off ‘till later. They didn’t wait for someone else to do it for them. Even though most of them were elderly, they were “up and at ‘em” early this morning. Nor did they need chain saws and heavy  equipment like in Little Rock, AR and Marble Hill, MO this spring. What I saw of the debris from last night’s storm was mostly leaves, small branches and some small apples. All they needed was a broom and a rake and some willpower. Their yards and driveways were neat and clean again before lunchtime.
    You might be thinking, “So what? A few leaves and small branches are not much to worry about. That is nothing like what happens after a tornado!!” And you are right. Relatively speaking the clean-up this morning was nothing like the clean-up following a tornado. I was in Little Rock last week and I saw many roofs still covered with blue tarps, and other kinds of damage that still needs attention from the tornado that hit there last March.
    However, cleaning up debris is not about the size of the storm. Rather, it is that any time there is debris lying around following a storm, most of us are quick to clean up the debris in our yards and move on with life. And that’s awesome. That’s the way it should be. And most of us gladly accept help from others when the job is bigger than we can handle alone. It is truly amazing how many neighbors and organizations are just waiting for the opportunity to help individuals and communities when they have had storm damage and need help.
    Here’s where I am going with all of this.  How awesome it would be if every one of us would be as quick to clean up our spiritual debris and let God restore our lives following the spiritual storms (sinful situations) that inevitably blow through us! And it doesn’t matter how great or small the spiritual storm (sin) may be, when damage is done it needs to be cleaned up, and the sooner the better. If the spiritual storm was small, contained within your own heart, a personal sin, it may be cleaned up simply by repenting and asking God to forgive you (Luk 18.13). Some spiritual storms involve others and therefore they need to be involved in the clean-up process (Matthew 5.23-24). And then there are the larger storms that require you to seek the help of others to clean-up (James 5.16).
    Unfortunately, not all people have the desire or the willpower to clean up their sinful messes right away, if at all. Some are just too apathetic to do it (Revelation 3.15). Some feel it’s just too difficult and refuse to try (John 6.60, 66). Some are procrastinators (Acts 24.25). Some may want to clean up their lives, they may realize they need help, but don’t know how to do it or where to go for help (Acts 2.37). 
    This is one reason why the Lord wants us to open our eyes and look around to see who needs our help in cleaning up after their storms (John 4.35). Teach the lost (Matthew 28.19-20). Encourage the weak and fainthearted (1 Thessalonians 5.14-18). Correct the misguided with the truth (Galatians 6.1; 2 Timothy 3.16-17; 4.1-4). Welcome back with open arms those who repent and return (Luke 15). But most importantly, keep a watch on yourselves to make sure you are not leaving your own life cluttered with sinful debris (2 Corinthians 13.5; Galatians 6.1). And be sure to allow others to help you when they see you need it.
    God gives us every tool we need to clean up after the storms that litter our lives. He also gives us abilities and opportunities to help those around us clean up the sinful debris in their lives.
    What He doesn’t supply is the willpower. Only you can supply that.

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

Love of the Truth

By Ron Bartanen
“(T)hey did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie, that they all could be condemned who did not believe the truth and had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10a-12).
    Truth is a precious commodity.  Proverbs 23:23 urges us, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.”   At the heart of saving faith is “the love of the truth”.  Since the fall of man in the beginning, two spirits have been at work in the world.  The apostle John identified them as the “spirit of truth” and “the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).  In v. 3b he referred to the spirit of error as “the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”  This spirit denies that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (v. 3a), a heresy of Gnosticism being promoted by false teachers, a doctrine contrary to the apostolic gospel of Christ.  The world prefers a satanic system that would encourage them to take “pleasure in unrighteousness”.  Or, as John phrases it, “They are of the world.  Therefore they speak as of the world and the world hears them” (v. 5).   He had earlier reminded them of the error of the world, saying, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world” (2:16).
    The ”spirit of truth,” however, is identified by John as the Holy Spirit who abides in the true believers, assuring them that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b).  He made it plain to his readers that “He who knows God hears us (the apostles): he who knows not God does not hear us.  By this ye know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (4:6). Prior to His ascension, Jesus gave promise to His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to inspire and empower them, which He fulfilled on Pentecost Sunday, as recorded in in Acts 2.   He said, “When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13a).  Their writings are, for this reason, accepted as all other scriptures as the inspired word of God—the truth of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).  Because of the Spirit of truth inspiring the apostles, Jesus could tell them, “He who hears you, hears Me, he who rejects you, rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me” (Luke 10:16).  Jesus made known to His disciples that He was more than just another prophet with a message of truth, but the embodiment of truth, saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  He, like the Father, “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), in contrast to Satan, the spirit of error, who “does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
    While we do not audibly hear God speak to us, we hear Him speak to us through His word—the Old and New Testaments—He does not remain silent.  Hebrews 1:1-2 encompassed all of Scriptures when it reminds us that  “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…”   The writers of the Bible were not expressing their opinions, but spoke and wrote the truth by divine inspiration.  They were—and still remain—God’s spokesmen.  We should not be surprised, then, when people who may not even believe Satan exists become, unwittingly, his spokesmen.  We are warned that “The Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  Note that this is not just warning us of a world deceived by satanic rebellion, but of , at least, nominal Christianity, departing “from the faith.”   Prominent denominations that once at least sought to make the Bible the sole authority in the faith have, with the passing of time, abandoned the Scriptures and conformed more and more with the world.  It is common now to know of churches approving abortion, sexual perversion, the “woke” ideology, etc.  Jesus is seen in such churches as just a man—a sinner like the rest of us, but not the virgin-born Son of God and Savior.  Truth, to such, is nothing more than what the denomination declares to be truth.
    The apostle Paul, describing those “whose foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21), listed numerous sins such as sexual perversion, envy, murder, etc.—sins that characterize our world today.  He summarizes the list by warning of the consequences: “To those that are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish on the soul of man who does evil….” (1:21-32).  As I view this, I believe one of the primary devices of Satan is to change “the truth of God into a lie” (v. 25).  Can we see that happening today? While God has said when creating humankind, “male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27, defining two genders, now we’re led to believe there are innumerable genders.  I recently wrote that some were claiming there to be 57, but I heard recently that the number has gone up to 107.  I surely don’t know how they can define gender!  Satan’s newly devised “ruth” of transgenderism is spreading like wildfire.  God, at creation, defined gender as male and female, and it was defined by how we were made, with man providing the seed, and the woman the egg, from which a child of one of the two genders will be born, but now teachers in schools tell their captive audiences that they can have hormones and bodily mutilations to change genders.  And if you dare to not bow the knee before Satan by recognizing and honoring this change, you’ll pay the consequences. Marriage, as defined in Scripture as being a commitment of a male and female, but now needs not to be limited to the opposite sexes.    Same sex “marriage” is the new “truth” about marriage, and if you openly disagree, you may be subject to a lawsuit or loss of a job.     On all of the current issues, God’s truth is discarded as the world’s ears are attuned to Satan’s lies.
    Satan, who is described in Scripture as “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 5:4) who has blinded the minds of unbelievers to the gospel (2 Corinthians 4;4), Spiritual blindness comes from substituting “my truth” for God’s truth.  As Christians, we cannot bend the knee to the demonic gods of this world.  We must not only hold sacred truth in our minds, but also defend God’s truth by our words and conduct.  God has not called us to silence, fading our testimony into the world’s darkness, but to be the light of the world.   The ultimate light of the world is Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:24).  Because He would return to the Father, He appointed His apostles to be His light-bearers, saying, “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).  But it was not to be limited to them, as the apostle Paul made clear when he encouraged Christians to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).  Then he adds that in addition to being blameless, harmless and without rebuke, he adds in v. 16, “holding for the word of life….”  We, as believers, are not to cower in fear before the world, nor adopt the world’s standards, but to shamelessly present the light of truth, God’s word, as the life-giving message.  The world should never have to wonder where the children of light are standing in regard to false “truths” promoted by the powers of darkness.  We must never cease to stand up and speak up for the truth.  When Christians collectively let the light of Christ shine, the church lives up to its divine calling, as expressed by Paul, writing to the young evangelist, Timothy, defining the spiritual body of Christ as “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15b).
    Salvation is not available apart from divine truth.  Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  Paul declared that we are “chosen through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13b).  Paul said to the Thessalonians, “when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe’ (1 Thess. 2:13b).   One who commits his/her life to Christ in faith and obedience to God’s truth, has reason to “rejoice not in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at:

There Was No Plan B

By Joe Slater
    We cannot fully comprehend the horror Jesus faced that night in Gethsemane. A merciless scourging awaited Him, followed by nails being driven through His hands and feet. For six endless hours searing pain would wrack His battered body as He struggled for every breath.
    But that scarcely begins to describe our Savior’s woe. Who can fathom the agony of taking the whole world’s sins and bearing them in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24)? No wonder He cried out, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39a). Yet even as He pleaded, He knew there was no Plan B. Unless He stayed the course all the way to the cross, no sinner could be saved. Therefore, He continued, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (26:39b).
    Jesus had no Plan B when He sent His apostles to preach His gospel to the world. Not that long ago they had scattered like a covey of quail when Judas brought the Roman soldiers and temple police to arrest Him. Peter had denied three times that he even knew Jesus, much less that he was His disciple. Would you entrust those men with the most powerful and desperately needed message the world will ever know? Jesus did! And ten days after He commissioned them, they demonstrated that His confidence in them was fully justified. About 3000 souls believed and obeyed the glad tidings that the apostles proclaimed boldly. From that point on, the church grew by leaps and bounds.
    You and I are still part of Jesus’ Plan A. He is still the one and only way anyone can come to the Father (John 14:6), and His gospel is still God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). He has no Plan B, so don’t bother looking! Just follow Plan A, the plan “ordained from the foundation of the world!” (1 Peter 1:20).

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

Fruit Production in the Lord’s Vineyard

By Edd Sterchi
    I was reading John 15 the other day when I noticed a progression of the description of fruit-bearing the follower of Christ is to have. See if you notice it, too (I have condensed the text and emphasized portions for ease of detection): “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser...every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit...I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit...” (John 15:1-5).
    Did you notice that not only are we expected to...
...bear fruit...
...but also to bear more fruit...
...and even to bear much fruit!!!
    Bearing fruit is something that is expected of Christians. And the secret to bearing fruit, bearing more fruit, and even bearing much more fruit is abiding in Christ (v.4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10). It is vital that we are fully attached to Christ and receiving all the nutrients He provides through His word and His people. It is important to be spending much time in prayerful study of the Scriptures. It is also important to be living, defending, and proclaiming the true will of God. Furthermore, it is very important to be associating and working with the saints of God on a regular basis to gain the fellowship, harmony, and encouragement necessary to be productive in the Lord’s vineyard. This will put us in a position where the heavenly vinedresser will “prune” our lives so that we may become even more mature and productive for Him.
    Christian, how much fruit are you bearing? What could you be doing to bear more fruit for the Lord? What would it take for you to bear even much more fruit that you ever thought? The Lord will help you get there if you will let Him.
Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psa. 92:13-14).

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

Nothing Less

By David A. Sargent
    Several years ago, Peter Michelmore wrote about some harrowing experiences that Walter Wyatt, Jr. endured:
    Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beechcraft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds.
    When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away. Suddenly Wyatt's right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water.
    Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest. With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours. In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion. Then he heard the sound of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot radioed the Cape York, which was twelve minutes away: "Get moving, cutter! There's a shark targeting this guy!" As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob's ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck. He'd been saved. He didn't need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside intervention could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt. *
    Because of our sins, our condition is much like that of Walter Wyatt: lost and dying, unless someone comes to save us (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to rescue us (Galatians 1:4).  In order to save us from sin, Jesus had to give us life for us to pay the price for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
    We must be willing to “take hold” (accept) the salvation that Jesus offers through our trusting obedience.  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).
    Nothing less than outside intervention can save us from our sin.  Thanks be to God that He has already responded to our desperate situation.  He’s awaiting each of us to accept His salvation by clinging to His Son in trusting obedience.

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

* Information gleaned from an article by Peter Michelmore, Reader's Digest, October, 1987 as it appears in

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Identify: Called Out

By Clifton Angel
    One who has been baptized into Christ is one who is risen with Christ and has been added to His church by Him (cf. Acts 2:37–47; Colossians 1:13). To belong to Christ’s church, is to belong to the “called out” (literal meaning of the Greek term translated “church” or “assembly”). Far too many of my brethren ignorantly say, "I'm Church of Christ." While we certainly are His church and should be identified as such, the statement is often made the very same way a member of a denomination would label himself as a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, et al. Seeing ourselves as just another denomination, or a different road to the same heaven, is an "identity crisis." One who seeks to be among the church that Jesus built, must believe the inspired words concerning her.
    Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus that God... “...hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22–23). The church of Christ is referred to as Christ's body, and He is the head. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the ... Savior of the body" (Ephesians 5:23).
    Incidentally, anyone who is outside of the body of Christ is not saved by Him. Again, to the church at Colossae, Paul wrote, "He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). At Ephesians 4:4, we learn "There is one body." In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free" (1 Corinthians 12:12–13).
    Church, do we know who we are? Christians, are we suffering from an "identity crisis"? Have we forgotten Who made us? Have we forgotten Who saved us? Have we forgotten Who raised us? Have we forgotten Who placed us? Let us return to His Word, where we learn that we are created in His image, we are risen with Christ, and we are the church of Christ.

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

Identify: Raised

By Clifton Angel
    In defense of Christ, Paul wrote to the church at Colossae:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us
meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints
in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of
darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom
of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption
through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn
of every creature: For by him were all things created,
that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created by
him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by
him all things consist. And he is the head of the
body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-
born from the dead; that in all things he might have
the preeminence (Colossians 1:12–18).
Later in the same letter, Paul wrote:
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all
principality and power ... Buried with him in bap-
tism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the
faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him
from the dead (2:10, 12).
Christ could not be raised without first being buried.
    We cannot be raised from our sins without first being buried in baptism. But, having been raised from the waters of baptism, let us continue in Paul's Colossians letter:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things
which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right
hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not
on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life
is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our
life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him
in glory (3:1–4).
    Being risen with Christ means He is now our life. For this reason, Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not
I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now
live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).
And to the church at Philippi, he penned:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1:21).
    As we think about who we are and what defines us, do we consistently think of Jesus Christ? Christians, HE is our identity! Friends, is He your identity?

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

Identify: Created

By Clifton Angel
    In the first week of the first year, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:26–27). With a more detailed look at the creation week, Moses recorded, "the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). He would go on to record God's process of making Eve also (cf. Genesis 2:18-25). The evidence is undeniable that human beings differ from the animal kingdom; yet, so many, who refuse to believe God, continuously seek to paint mankind as an equal with animals. In fact, they believe homo sapiens to be evolved animals that belong to the primate family. The false rhetoric of modern-day "science" is a major factor in numerous human misconceptions. Such leads to an abundance of animal-like behavior. We kill our own, devalue life, behave selfishly, and act upon instinct.
    Christians, let us be reminded that every human being is a soul. Every soul is created by God and in His image. Every soul is of greater value to God than all of His physical creation. He has given us dominion over the animal world. We are superior to every other creature. That is how God made us, and that is what the true evidence supports. We must treat every human being with this in mind. We must reach out and teach so that they might see the same value that we know God has placed upon us. Paul proclaimed to philosophers in Athens:
God that made the world and all things therein, ...
seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all
things; And hath made of one blood all nations of
men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and
hath determined the times before appointed, and
the bounds of their habitation ... For in him we live,
and move, and have our being; (Acts 17:24–28).
    May we combat the modern day agendas to spread hatred for other souls, other age groups, differing skin colors, and our fellow mankind in general. May we see the value God has placed upon every soul and help others to see it also. David hymned,
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fin-
gers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast or-
dained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou
hast made him a little lower than the angels, and
hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou
madest him to have dominion over the works of thy
hands; thou hast put all things under his feet (Psalm

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

Mathew OR Matthew?

By Bob Prichard
    “Spell checkers” are one of the great inventions of our day. Even though I am a good speller, I am sometimes a careless typist. The “spell checker” is great for catching those transposed letters that come too often from trying to type too fast.
    I just recently made a discovery about my spell-checker, though. It is not always right. Not only will it not flag correctly spelled words which are not the words I meant, it also doesn’t catch some variants of words that I expected it to catch. It seems that I have had a problem lately in my lessons by typing Mathew when I meant Matthew. (Just one “t” missing, but it makes a difference). It seems that my software is just fine with spelling it “Mathew” instead of “Matthew.” I have relied on the “spell checker” to proofread for me, but will have to be more careful in the future, knowing that it may not catch the misspelled Matthew.
    This little insight reminds me that we must be careful what or whom we trust. Not everything you read on the internet is correct or reliable. It is not uncommon for us to look to some great preacher of the past or present for wisdom or judgment. There is nothing wrong with this, but whoever it is, we need to be sure that we use our reasoning abilities and we truly search the scriptures. We may too easily accept some things because of who teaches them, but even the best of us are sometimes wrong.
      Luke commends the Christians of Berea: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Bereans were searching the scriptures daily to consider if what they were being taught by men like Paul and Silas was correct. If it is necessary to check up on Paul, it is also necessary to check up on our present day preachers and teachers, even including Bob Prichard. And it is also necessary to check on ourselves. Do we believe what we believe because we have really searched the scriptures, or have we just accepted what was taught? And letting someone else proofread certainly won’t hurt!

- 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.

What God Wants You to Know about Money

By Brian Mitchell


    According to the Self-Storage Association, a trade group charged with monitoring such things, the country now possesses about 1.9 billion square feet of personal storage space outside the home. According to a recent survey, the owners of 1 out of every 11 homes, also own a self-storage unit. This represents an increase of 75 percent since 1995. Most operators of self-storage facilities report 90 percent occupancy, with an average time among renters of 15 months.

    Amazingly, as the amount of storage space required by homeowners has grown, so has the average size of the American house. In fact, the National Association of Homebuilders reports that the average American house grew from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,400 square feet in 2004. If our houses have grown in size by an average of almost 800 sq. ft., why do we need so much extra storage space? Answer—STUFF.

    The reason that Americans have so much extra stuff today is that we have been taught by our culture that we have to have “stuff”—the nice car, the nice house, the latest fashions, the big TV, the best toys for the kids, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong—in & of itself—with having “things.” The problem often is that we often misuse money in order to get what we want.

    On June 7, 2002 the Federal Reserve released this information: 1) Consumer credit card debt stands at $1.6 trillion. 2) Consumer debt including home mortgages is $7 trillion; in 2002, debt was double what it was in 1990 and by the next year it was up to 9.3 trillion. For our country, the national debt is now over 16 trillion or $51,619 for ever man, woman and child in America. 3) Twenty-three percent of the average person’s take-home pay already is committed to payment of existing debt, not including mortgages—which puts the number closer to 50%--this is average so it is much worse for many. 4) Fifty-six percent of all divorces are a result of financial tension in the home.

    We often think of money as a subject outside the domain of Scripture, but as we have already seen, Scripture has much to say about money. In this lesson, we are going to examine what God wants you to know about money. Brethren, let us commit ourselves to giving generously to the cause of Christ, so that Jesus might be glorified and souls led to salvation!

    About the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, Paul writes, “I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack’” (2 Cor.8:13-15).

    Are you honoring Jesus in the way that you use the money he has given? Are you honoring Jesus in the way that you use the life he has given? Let us think on these questions as we go through our lesson today.

- 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

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Better Way

By Ronald Bartanen
    Life offers us many choices, some more important than others.  The most important choice you can make in life is to follow Christ rather than to live life without Him.  There is a “way” that seems right, but ends in eternal death (Prov. 14:12), but the better way is Christ,, who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
    Christ is the better way because His way is the way to salvation.  He said, “I am the door: by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).
    He is the better way because He, the wholly innocent Son of God, left the glory of Heaven to come to earth to manifest Himself as the bearer of our sins in His own body on the cross, then to be raised from the dead and to ascend to the Father’s throne to intercede for those cleansed by His blood (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
    He is the better way because He can work within the Christians to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).
    He is the better way because He will come again to judge the world, casting out those who reject Him and receiving those who know Him as their Savior and lord, even as the apostle wrote, “To you who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power: when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
    He is the better way for both time and eternity.  We urge all to put their trust in the Savior who died for you and rose again, repenting of sins, confessing Him and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38).  You will never regret it, for Christ is the better way.

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at:

Trying to Help God Keep His Promises

By Joe Chesser
    It’s the height of foolishness, nonetheless we still attempt to do it from time to time.  Our intentions usually are good, but our methods are flawed, and doomed to fail. Of course we believe in God and trust Him ... for the most part. But there are times when it seems our faith and patience runs thin. That’s when we may think we need to help God out a bit to keep His promises. Not that God has asked us to. Of course we need to do whatever God instructs us to do. What I'm referring to is not that. It’s when we take it upon ourselves to try to help God using our own ideas and plans, and doing so when we think the time is right. Even the strongest among us may think God needs that kind of help at times.
    For example, consider Abraham. Who among us would dare say that Abraham was weak in faith? After all, don’t we refer to him as the “Father of the Faithful”? I mean, just because God said to do it, Abraham set out from his homeland for a place “not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11.8). Later, following God’s instructions, he was in the process of offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice until God stopped him (Genesis 22). Yet, in a time of weak faith and thin patience, he attempted to help God keep His promise of an heir. After waiting years and years for God to do it Himself, Abraham, at his wife’s urging, tried to help God out by producing an heir with Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid (Genesis 16.1-3). Sarah was old and barren (Genesis 18.11). From a physical standpoint, they had waited long enough; in fact, too long. We know how that Hagar idea worked out, don’t we? What made Abraham and Sarah think that they could do what it seemed God was not able to do? What made them think their timing was better than His? What made them think that God needed their help to keep His promise? I think we know the answer to those questions!
    Centuries later a man named Naaman questioned God’s methods. He was a great man, a mighty man of valor that God had used to give victory to Syria ... but he was a leper (2 Kings 5). Naaman had heard that there was a man of God in Israel who could cure him of his leprosy. After traveling to Israel he arrived at the prophet’s door, Elisha sent a messenger to the door to tell Naaman to dip seven times in the River Jordan and he would be cleansed of his leprosy. This wasn’t what Naaman had expected. “Behold I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper” (2 Kings 5.11). He further reasoned that the rivers back home were better than the Jordan. So he left in a rage. Thankfully for him his servants convinced him to dip seven times in the Jordan, “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child” (2 Kings 5.14). God had promised Naaman cleansing, but it had to be done His way. Like Abraham, Naaman thought his way was better. It wasn’t. Unfortunately many today haven’t learned that yet. People are still arguing with God about how to be saved, about to walk by faith, about how to worship to please Him, etc. When will we learn that we don’t know more than God? When will we learn that the only way to receive God’s blessings is to do it His way? When will we learn that we cannot improve on God’s timing?
    One other example is the Apostle Paul. Before he became an apostle, Paul thought he was helping God by trying to exterminate all Christians. He did this with a clear conscience (Acts 23.1; 2 Timothy 1.3). Nonetheless he was mistaken; not about his conscience, but about how he thought he was helping God. Countess people are like Paul, doing what they think is God’s will, but in reality are not doing God’s will at all. Jesus verified this when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and doo many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7.21-23).
    The desire to help God do His work is great. God wants to use us to accomplish His will. But we must not dare to interject our thoughts for His thoughts, our ways for His ways, our timing for His timing (Isaiah 55.8-9). God is God, and we are not. Let’s learn to keep it that way.

- 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...

By Edd Sterchi
God is here...
...yesterday, today, and all days
God is near...
...closer than anyone else’s ways
God is dear...
...warmer than the sun’s mighty rays
God is clear...
...there’s no doubt He loves us always

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

Simple Instructions

By Lance Cordle
    I occasionally get headaches, and when I do, I sometimes take a pain reliever to combat them. The brand I use has a multipack carton containing the medicine wrapped in a sealed, foil package. Over the years, I have “waged a war” with the packaging, because it has been extremely difficult (for me) to tear open. If I am where scissors are available, I will use the scissors.
    It just so happens that I was recently in need of headache relief and I dreaded going through the frustrating process of opening the foil with no scissors. However, for some reason, the fine print on the package caught my attention. There was a straight line across the top and the words indicated that I was to fold the foil straight along the line and then rip the package from top to bottom. Amazingly, as I followed the instructions, I was able to easily open the package. Sensing that my success might have been a fluke, I waited till I got another headache to test the process. Sure enough, I obeyed the instructions again, following them to a “T,” and it worked!
    Who knew that opening the foil package could be so easy?! I just followed the simple instructions.
    This reminded me of the biblical story of Naaman the leper (found in 2 Kings 5). Naaman was a valiant warrior for his king, however, he carried the dreaded disease of leprosy. Following a recommendation from a young Israelite woman, he sought a cure from the prophet of God, Elisha. After consulting his king, as well as Israel’s king, Naaman came to Elisha’s residence. Instead of going to him and touching him, Elisha sent a messenger with instructions for Naaman to “wash in the Jordan seven times” (2 Kings 5:10). Instead of obeying the words of the prophet, Naaman expressed his displeasure with Elisha. That displeasure came about because he did not like the part about the washing in the Jordan River—located in enemy territory and possibly seen to be “dirty” by Naaman. He voiced his disappointment in front of his servants, who promptly gave him words of wisdom: “My father, it is a great word the prophet has said to you; will you not do it? . . . So he went and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River . . . and his skin was restored like the flesh of a child” (2 Kings 5:13-14).
    The instructions may be simple, but sometimes, through our stubbornness, we make things difficult. Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). That is a good question!

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

From the Depths

By David A. Sargent
    A 12-year-old boy in Marysville, Washington, was enjoying recess when suddenly his life was in danger.  He was standing on the concrete lid of a well when the concrete crumbled beneath him, and he fell 20 feet into the well.  Firefighters from the Marysville Fire District were called in for the rescue.  They found the boy clinging to a plastic pipe which kept him above the water line.
    The firefighters removed the remaining concrete and lowered a long ladder into the well.  The boy was able to climb up the ladder to safety.  He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for lacerations on his head.  He is expected to recover fully. *
    Because of our sins, we are a lot like that boy in the well with no hope of surviving unless there is outside intervention.  Our salvation from sin requires divine intervention, for only He can save us from our predicament.
    Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), but God loves us anyway.  He loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to rescue us (John 3:16).  To save us from sin, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 ESV).  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
    God will save from sin 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).
    Jesus is the Ladder to heaven.  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  We must be willing to “cling to the Ladder” in trusting obedience in order to be saved.  Won’t YOU?
* Information gleaned from “Washington state firefighters rescue 12-year-old boy who fell 20 feet down well” by Stephen Sorace of Fox News,

- 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:

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Faithful and Steadfast: Navigating Trials and Temptations

By Jeff Arnette
    In life, we often face trials and temptations that test our faith and character. It is during these moments that we must cling to our convictions and remain faithful to God’s word. The profound wisdom found in Revelation 2:10, Jude 21, and 2 Peter 2:20, provides guidance on how to navigate through challenging times while remaining steadfast in our devotion to God.
    Revelation 2:10 – “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
    The book of Revelation offers encouragement to those enduring trials and persecution. This verse reminds us of the eternal reward that awaits those who remain faithful to God, even in the face of death. It serves as a powerful reminder that our temporary struggles pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us in eternity. We are called to persevere and hold fast to our faith, knowing that God is with us through every trial.
    Jude 21 – “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
    Jude’s exhortation emphasizes the importance of actively maintaining our relationship with God. To “keep ourselves in the love of God” implies that we should consistently seek His presence, abide in His word, and cultivate a life of prayer. By doing so, we remain grounded in His love, eagerly awaiting the ultimate mercy and salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. In times of trial, let us hold on to God’s promises and trust in His faithfulness.
    2 Peter 2:20 – “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”
    This verse serves as a warning against falling back into the entanglements of sin after experiencing the transforming power of God’s grace. It reminds us of the importance of staying vigilant and not becoming complacent in our faith. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly temptations and return to our former ways, the consequences can be devastating. Let us strive to maintain a pure and steadfast faith, continually seeking God’s guidance to avoid the snares of sin.
    As believers, we will undoubtedly face trials, temptations, and moments of doubt along our journey of faith. However, by anchoring ourselves in the wisdom of God’s word, we can find strength and guidance to remain faithful and steadfast. It is my hope that you will be encouraged to persevere, stay focused on the eternal crown of life, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and faithfully using your gifts for God’s glory.

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


By Ed Wittlif
    “The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). 
    Jerusalem has been destroyed and most of the people are taken into captivity. There is only a remnant left. There is great lamentations over God’s punishment. However, there is hope because of God’s mercy. 
    Mercy is God not treating me as I deserve. Grace is God treating me not as I deserve. Because of my sins I deserve death, that is separation from God. Ephesians 2:1a, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” That was once me for I was without God and was dead. I reached a point in my life where I was searching for answers. As I found out when you are actively and diligently looking God will respond.
    Thanks to a friend’s wedding I met a minister and we started studying. To paraphrase Romans chapter 6; I was immersed into Christ Jesus, united with His atoning death, my old sinful self was crucified with Jesus, and like He was raised by God’s power I too was raised to a new life. Because I am in Christ, I am united with Father God and am now alive.
    “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Ephesians 2:4-5). Since I am in Christ, God treats me as if I never sinned. God demonstrated His love through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
    For this reason, I love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and have committed my life to serving God. I encourage you to see the love of God in the cross.
    Hymn: “Redeemed” by Fanny J. Crosby
    ABBA Father, I can never express in words my thanks for my redemption. I can only hope to demonstrate my love through my obedient life. May I never forget the price paid for me. 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

Remember Now

By Clifton Angel
When I’m 20 years old,
And looking back on my teens,
Will I smile on my past,
Or be ashamed of what I’ve seen?
When I’m 30 years old,
Looking back on the last nine,
Did I give glory to God,
Or make it all mine?
Once I’ve reached 40,
And making my trek through life,
Have I left a trail of blessings,
Or caused a myriad of strife?
When I’m 50 years old,
Looking back on the years,
Will I grin of the godly joy,
Or frown on the painful tears?
When I’m 60 years old,
And time is fleeting by,
Would I enjoy another forty,
Or would I rather die?
When 80 is here at the drop of a hat,
But my mind is not at all,
Will my grandchildren know the great life I led,
Or will they look at my life in appall?
If God provides that I reach 90,
And my life withers like a clover,
Will I thank Him for my longevity of life,
Or would I rather just start over?
When I’m 100 years old,
And the young stand amazed at my age,
Will I even have my memory,
While God recalls all the mistakes I’ve made?
Will you take heed to these words,
My dear and precious friends,
And begin preparing now,
For what your life will be in the end?
“Remember now your Creator
In the days of your youth,”
Such powerful words from the Spirit,
Who, for our lives, has provided all Truth.

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

Learning to Think about “Our” Money In God’s Way

By Brian Mitchell
    I wish I could tell you otherwise, but Christians are not immune to life’s problems and difficulties. What if, however, I told you that there was a subject that the Bible spoke about over 2,300 times. Yet many preachers and Bible class teachers ignore the subject for fear that their intentions for doing so might be misinterpreted. Would this surprise you? It shouldn’t, because I have found that not only is there a subject upon which the Bible speaks this much but that the average Christian has little idea how much valuable wisdom the Bible shares on this subject. What subject am I referring to: Money and Material things?
    That’s right, the Bible speaks on the subject of material or money matters over 2,300 times, as opposed to prayer and faith which are mentioned approximately in a combined 1,000 verses. God knew that man would struggle with money matters and thus made sure that His people would not have to be among them. Yet, how many Christians struggle with their finances because they do not know or do not practice the principles of biblical finances that are taught in God’s Word.
    As a society in whole and as Christians living within this society, we are in desperate need of a restoration of the principles of financial management and behavior. These were common in generations gone by and they are so prevalent in God’s Word still. Like Dave Ramsey says often on his show, “It’s your grandmother’s financial advice, only we keep our teeth in.” The fact of the matter is that when most of our parents and grandparents wanted something they saved until they could afford it. They did not heap debt upon debt “spending money they did not have, to buy things they did not need, to impress people they did not know.” What about us?
    So after looking at some introductory matters concerning the dangers of materialism, we are going to consider what the Bible says about money. We are starting a new series today called, Solomon’s Wisdom on Wealth. As much as Jesus has to say about the subject of money in general, there is no one in the Bible that has more to say on the subject than Solomon. Isn’t interesting that the person in the Bible who failed most miserably in relation to his attitude toward material wealth is the person that also has the most wisdom to share concerning how we might not do the same.
    It is often those who have failed the most in certain areas that have the most wisdom to share because they have been there and know all of the mistakes not to make. This is why we are in such desperate need of Solomon’s wisdom on wealth today. An interviewer once asked gold legend Gary Player what the best advice he ever received was. His answer did not have anything to do with golf, the best advice he ever received, he said, “was to read the book of Proverbs.” While some might question just how relevant a book written over 3,000 years ago could be to financial matters in our time, such in reality, is only an admission of the fact that such people have not read the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
    Stan Bullington in his book “Solomon on Wealth” identifies the following 7 Key Ideas that emerge from a detailed study of Solomon’s writing. They are: wealth is a blessing, other blessings are more important than wealth, wealth is a danger, work diligently, avoid debt, help others and trust in God, not riches. If we will learn and apply Solomon’s teachings in these areas, his teachings can serve as the foundation for our financial lives and our attitudes toward money.

- 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


By Bob Prichard
    I read of a Victorian era lady who arranged her library so that no books by male authors were placed beside books by female authors (unless they were married, of course). I’m not exactly sure what she thought those books might do, but it does seem that books do take up more and more shelf space! Keeping up with my books is a big job. I try to treat my personal library like any other real library, with the books accessioned, classified, and properly cataloged. It takes time to process books though, so many sit on the shelf wherever I happen to find the space (irrespective of the author’s sex) until I process them. Two books recently caught my eye.
    Sitting next to each other on the shelf, ready to be fully processed were The Hurried Child, by David Elkind, and The Waiting Father, by Helmut Thielicke.  Elkind’s book is about our fast paced, stress filled society that hurries our children to grow up too quickly. Thielicke’s book is a series of sermons on the parables, with the title taken from two sermons on what we usually call the “Prodigal Son.”
    The two titles juxtaposed on the shelf reminded me how the pace of our world today causes too many of us to become a “hurried child.” We are not so much hurried to grow up, but to just keep pace with the world swirling around us. We may be too hurried to remember God. How often do we really find the time for serious prayer and communication with our heavenly father? Most of us, it seems, keep such a pace doing our work, keeping up the house, preparing meals, chauffeuring to soccer practice, and doing so, so many other things. Where do we find time for the “Waiting Father”?
    Thielicke portrays the Father watching the son leave, and then waiting expectantly:

“I imagine that as he stands there in silence a deep affliction shadows his face and that in itself is eloquent. I am sure he is not thinking that the boy will grow more mature in the far country. He is asking the anxious question: How will he come back?


The father will keep the son in his thoughts.  He will wait for him and never stop watching for him. Every step he takes will give him pain. For the father knows better than this son who sets out, happy and lighthearted on his chosen life. But the voice of his father in his heart will follow him wherever he goes.”

    We do not have to go to the far country of the prodigal to be away from the Father. We can simply get too busy for him. “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. … And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isaiah 30:15-18).