Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sayings in Jeremiah (1)

By Ron Thomas
    Through the course of years, I have read the Book of Jeremiah many times, and as I’ve read, I have taken note of what I consider sayings from the pen (mouth) of the Lord’s prophet that are interesting. What strikes me as interesting may not strike you the same way, but I thought I would develop a thought or two from those sayings, those expressions. I begin in chapter 6.
    Jeremiah 6:10, notice the various versions of the English Bible:
    KJV: O whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
    NET: Who would listen if I spoke to them and warned them? Their ears are so closed that they cannot hear! Indeed, what the LORD says is offensive to them. They do not like it at all.
    ESV: To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
    If one is not familiar with the language of the Bible, then perhaps the idea behind an “uncircumcised ear” is perplexing. The NET gives the actual sense of what was said by the prophet. With that said, looking at the versions, the three English Bibles give no significant (or insignificant) difference in what is said. The Lord gives warning, but who listens? To ask is to answer, and this is what makes Jeremiah’s task so difficult because no one (hyperbole) was going to listen. Why won’t they listen? Because their ears are uncircumcised (closed); uncircumcised (closed) ears can’t hear, like an uncircumcised heart refusing to submit to the Lord. Those who couldn’t hear first began with a refusal to hear.
    The Hebrews writer says,
Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (2:1-4, ESV).

    It should go without saying that it is of utmost importance that we who identify with the Lord should make it a point to hear the Lord. It should go without saying, but it can’t. In Jeremiah’s day, the same should have been thought, but as it is today, so it was then, many refuse. The consequences of such an action is the Lord’s displeasure and the subject’s damnation. The Lord’s prophet warns.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Sayings in Jeremiah (2) Seek The Old Paths

 By Ron Thomas

    There are some sayings in Jeremiah that are better known than others. One we mention today will be one of those sayings. In Jeremiah 6:16 we read,
·       KJV: Thus, saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.
·       NET: The LORD said to his people: "You are standing at the crossroads. So, consider your path. Ask where the old, reliable paths are. Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it. If you do, you will find rest for your souls." But they said, "We will not follow it!"
·       Brenton: Thus, saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths of the Lord; and see what is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find purification for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in them (English translation of the Septuagint, or Greek Old Testament).
Context: Jeremiah was the Lord’s prophet who had placed on him a burden so heavy that it’s a wonder he held up under it, and he only did so because of his loyalty to the Lord. His burden was “simply” to preach the Lord’s word to a people who did not want to hear it, as can be seen/read at the end of this verse. The Lord called on His prophet to go where the people were and say to them what they did not want to hear. Knowing this, Jeremiah heard the Lord’s will, and he went. He went to a stubborn people, and he called on them to seek the “old paths.” What are the “old paths” that Jeremiah spoke of? This is a reference to the same thing Isaiah said when he preached to stubborn people. “To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them” (8:20, ASV).
    The Lord appealed to them to hear His word and be saved from the coming destruction. Sadly, they chose a different path.
    There is an application for us in this: Some Christians seek to be more like the religious world around, just like they were in Jeremiah’s day. Those loyal to the Lord, however, will not tread upon a path that has a destination full of uncertainty. To seek the old paths is to stay with the Lord. Don’t go to the right and see how exclusive you (we) can be, and don’t go to the left and see how inclusive you (we) can be. The religious world will do what they can to dictate to you (us) what should be, but only the Lord has authority in these matters. There are many solid folks in this world who genuinely want to follow the Lord’s will, and they try to the best of their ability; be there to help and encourage them but stay with the old paths as you do. As the passage says, those who do will find rest for their souls.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Sayings of Jeremiah (3) Trust Not in Lying Words

By Ron Thomas
    LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). To put one’s trust in the Lord means not only one’s knowledge that He exists, but that He is the answer to all questions related to life and relief that no man or woman can give, especially if they live and operate by the philosophy that belongs to Satan. Those who trust in the Lord also know that He will be the one who will make right what others have made terrible wrong. This is to be our response to those frustrations of life that seem to have no answers in the immediate context in which we live. Thus, when Paul writes In Jeremiah 7, the Lord exhorted the people to hear Jeremiah when he said, “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these” (7:4, KJV).
    The Lord was giving attention to the willingness of the people to hear the “prophets of deceit” because they felt the presence of the glorious Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem would prevent Babylon’s threats from coming to realization. Even though Jeremiah preached continuously that God was bringing Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem to punish the people of the Lord, the people believed the prophets (of deceit) when they said it would not happen (cf. Jeremiah 13:13-16). The people believed a lie and wanted to believe the lie.
    As the Lord’s prophet spoke to the Lord’s people, one would think Jeremiah might have a ready audience to hear; sadly, he had hardly an audience at all who wanted to hear (7:13). Because the people refused to hear the Lord, they turned to themselves for guidance and then became guilty of idolatry, oppression, murder, injustice, and to make it worse, they presumed to think the Lord was on their side because of the Temple.
    There is a powerful lesson in this for us. Jerusalem is a “perfect” illustration for those who refuse to hear the Lord, how they turn to themselves for wisdom and guidance and then take office in D.C. and the state legislatures! The powerful lesson we learn is this: If you (any one of us) put trust in something other than the Lord, we are trusting lying words, words that promise help, relief, but actually tighten the bondage to the point of strangling. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the about all things working together for good to those that love the Lord, what he means is that those who love the Lord, obey His will, salvation results. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, ASV).
    To put your trust in the Lord may be easier said than done because everywhere about you, you see and hear the activities of life and wonder if you should think this and do that. This was exactly the problem of the people in the days of Jeremiah. How does one put his (or her) trust in the Lord? By spending time with the Lord.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Sayings of Jeremiah (4) The Actions of the Feet Jeremiah 8:5

By Ron Thomas
Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return (8:5, ESV).
    Why do people wander away from the Lord, Jeremiah asked. Before they wander, these same people allow themselves to wonder about what’s on the other side, they wonder if the grass is greener over there. As they wonder, they begin to wander because they are intrigued by what they see, curious one might say. With this curiosity, they want to try what others are doing. There are some who look at their economic circumstances and see those on the other side are not struggling or suffering like those on this side. In that which they try they soon conclude that “It’s not that bad” never realizing that it will soon become overly bad, deadly bad (if you will).
    Such things like these allow them to think “they all can’t be wrong” so they go over, sometimes never to return. They stay there by holding fast to deceit; they have convinced themselves 1) God does not exist, 2) God does not care, 3) God doesn’t see me in the sheer mass of humanity, 4) God won’t judge me because He knows my heart, 5) I have time to get things turned around, 6) look how prosperous they are, the Lord must have blessed them, 7) they don’t struggle like I do with my feelings, I’ll go where I’m accepted. On and on justifications are offered.
    When Jeremiah preached the Lord’s message, calling upon the people to repent or the Lord’s wrath will be experienced, the people concluded that Jeremiah was a burden to them and to be dismissed. What makes people do this? Evidence can be presented, and solid reasons given to move people in the Lord’s direction, but the Lord’s reasons are rejected because the people would rather stay put right where they are. Since they have enjoyed some benefits for their wandering, why change! Perhaps there are several reasons people use to justify their actions (as mentioned above); ultimately, however, it boils down to “I want to stay here; this is the place with which I am comfortable and change I do not take too easily, especially if it’s going to require me to give up what makes me happy, satisfied, and prosperous. I’ll just stay where I am and you go where you want to go,” they say.
    They say this, not because they have counter evidence that warrants their place of residence, but they say this because moving is unpleasant. They say this, as Jeremiah wrote, because they know not the Lord (8:7). They may hear the Lord and know the words that have been preached / spoken, but the words found no home in the heart of each hearer “who knows not the Lord.” The words came from the mouth of the Lord, but the people put up a wall and refused to let them come in. These same people consider themselves wise and, thus, have no need for the Lord. It’s a lot like those who turn away from the Lord’s church, not knowing they have turned away from the Lord Himself. They regard their own wisdom more than they do the Lord’s. They will deny this, but the fruit of their wisdom is in the actions of their feet.
    So, what can we learn from this? When Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, he exhorted them Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God (3:16, ASV). Notice: the word of Christ is to dwell in one richly, that is, the word of the Lord is to have a place in one’s heart (mind). The word that dwells there is one that nourishes and protects. Secondly, equally important, the word that dwells within teaches us to sing the Lord’s praise because we know the Lord.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Sayings of Jeremiah (5) Excessively Pleased Jeremiah 9:23-24

By Ron Thomas
    Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
    What does “boast” or “boasting” mean? The American Standard Version uses the word “glory,” while most others (all that I checked) use the word “boast.” Merriam Webster defines the word to mean “excessive pride in oneself.” If this definition stands, we get why the Lord would be against those who glory in themselves.
    I remember when I was in high school there was a friend of mine that seemed always to be able to get “one -up” on others (at least this seemed to be the case as I recall it). When we had our 20th high
school reunion, I received the same impression from him as that which I had in high school. What he said may have been the truth from bottom to top, but I remember thinking that I had doubts about it.
    Have you come across people who might have been similar? It seems like they boast about this or that, resulting in you wondering if there is any substance to what it is they are boasting about. In the days of Jeremiah, as it is in our day, the same existed. When one boasts about accomplishments, others hear and may be inclined to extend good wishes, but those good wishes evaporate quickly when boasting continues. We are reminded, there is nothing new under the sun; every generation has many who think much of their accomplishments. If accomplishments are not real, then fabrications occur.
    To what was Jeremiah giving attention? As you look at Jeremiah 9:23, there are 3 points to notice. First, man’s wisdom. Second, man’s might. Third, man’s wealth.
    Man’s wisdom, whatever it might be in the way of usefulness, is only temporary wisdom. It may have a great deal of benefit in this world, but will it prepare one’s life for judgment when life in this world is over? The wisdom one gains from this world's experience has a termination point, not so with the wisdom gained from learning of and from the Lord.
    Man’s might, whatever it may be, is not nearly as strong as he thinks it is. I have often said, this country’s military is the strongest on earth, but if the Lord is against our country (I wonder if He is), a country the size of Rhode Island will defeat us in short order. There is no might that can overcome the Lord’s might.
    Man’s wealth, whatever it is, has only a short-term existence. You may have a million dollars in the bank for retirement, but if the Lord calls you to stand before Him, what will that retirement income do for you?
    As you reflect on the propriety of boasting, let us not have “excessive pride” in those things that we’ve done or the wealth we attained. Instead, let us glory in the Lord and be “excessively” pleased He has mercy on us. 

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Sayings of Jeremiah (6) I don’t Have it Within Me

By Ron Thomas
ASV: O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
NET: “LORD, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.”
    Preachers will quote this passage frequently. The congregants, because the preacher quotes it often, can repeat it. What does it mean? Man determines which direction he wants to go, but as the NET reads, the Lord does not grant him the privilege of determining what will happen to him when he does walk the direction he chooses. No one of good sense will purposely seek to destroy himself with his choices, but in the choices, he makes, it’s not possible for him to know where he’ll arrive. He thinks he knows, but that is not the same thing as actually knowing.
    The thrust of the passage is easy enough to understand. Humanity does not have within itself knowledge that can know one’s eternal destination. The only way to know is to gain that information from Him who has that knowledge, He who is in eternity. Since this information is now available, why is it that so many choose to live as if it does not matter what comes from the “mouth” of the Lord? People choose to live the way they do for at least two reasons (cf. John 3:19). First, they live in the present, that is, they judge what is in front of them by what they have been taught and mesh that in with their experiences, then make decisions about how to go forward. Second, they convince themselves God is on their side, and with that conviction or hope they move toward a destination they hope will facilitate a safe landing.
   I am reminded in Psalms 14 the foolish one lives as if God does not exist, the stupid one has conviction that He does not exist. In all cases, the choices made determine the direction walked. One’s arrival at the door of eternity comes much quicker than is realized. Did you not just graduate high school yesterday? How old are you now?
    I am also reminded that many believe (even strongly) in the Lord, but justification is made for the path chosen to walk. “The Lord knows my heart” they will say. Yes, that is true; He knows you have rejected His Son, or you have accepted His Son, but chose a way that is diverted from the Lord’s exact way. In this context, He knows your heart is not with Him. “I don’t live an evil life like so many that I hear and read about” they say. That may be true, but as with them, so with you, the Lord begins with one’s response to Jesus, followed by loyalty to the words of Jesus and His apostles.
    It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, the Lord said. Let us be reminded, then, of two things: first, Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son (1 John 5:10, ESV). In this context, belief is trust and obedience. Second, If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37, ASV). To acknowledge the authority of the Lord through His chosen servants means one will obey the words written by such men as Paul.
    We don’t have it within us to know the Lord’s way of righteousness. Because of that, those who love the Lord will hear Him and obey from the heart His ways.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

Raising Our Kids to Be Successful Socially

By Brian Mitchell
    In Lk.2:52, the Word of God states that Jesus “grew in wisdom, and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Thus, Jesus grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.  As we think about raising children to be successful, the early life of Jesus I believe is given to serve as a pretty successful model for child development. If we can help our children grow in these 4 areas, especially spiritually, then we have given them everything they will need to be truly successful in life in all areas. Having discussed the first 3 areas already, in this last lesson we will turn our thought to helping our children grow socially.
     The importance of social growth cannot be overstated when it comes to developing a successful life. God did not create man to live in isolation, but rather as a part of society in general.  It is as the old saying goes, “no man is an island unto himself.” God made us social creatures who desire contact with others—Gen.2:18. Thus, we do not live our lives in a vacuum, but rather as a part of society influencing and being influenced by those around us.
    The importance of social growth cannot be overstated when it comes to developing a successful life. God did not create man to live in isolation, but rather as a part of society in general.  It is as the old saying goes, “no man is an island unto himself.” God made us social creatures who desire contact with others—Gen.2:18. Thus, we do not live our lives in a vacuum, but rather as a part of society influencing and being influenced by those around us.
    So in our efforts to raise our children to be successful, let us not forget to teach them how to interact with and be a positive part of society. I think one of the biggest keys to developing socially is learning to be content.  We live in a world that breeds and fosters discontentment. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements which impress upon our minds the desire for more to the point where we feel we deserve more.
    A lot of people don’t develop socially because they were never taught that sometimes the world says no to us. Discontentment leads to worldliness and the pursuit of worldly desires which are in direct conflict with spiritual desires and responsibilities. Mt.6:24, says that no man can serve 2 masters. Thus, we must teach our young people that “life does not in the abundance of things we possess” (Lk.12:15). When it does the things we possess end up possessing us instead of the other way around.
    Thus, teach your children to lay up treasures in heaven, and be content with the things God has blessed us with. Our children can’t live in a vacuum, regardless of how much we may wish they could. Rather they are called to live in this world and to do so in a positive manner which brings glory to God and draws people to His Son. May we all endeavor to raise children, who like Jesus, grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.

- 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

Raising Our Children to Be Successful Spiritually

By Brian Mitchell
    In the sports world, it is said that championships are won or lost in the preparation.  In other words, those who put the most into their preparation, usually have the greatest success when it is time to put that preparation  into  practice.  The same principle applies in Christianity, especially as they relate to our children.  Those young people who go on from their parents to live successful lives, especially in the spiritual sense, are many times the ones who were prepared the best before they left.
    It is for this reason that Paul exhorts parents to “bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph.6:4). Preparation to be successful spiritually involves 2 aspects as we see from an example in the OT—Teaching by example—Deut.6:1-3 and Teaching by word—Deut.6:6-9.  As we have noted, Jesus grew in intellect, in stature, and in favor with God and man. In favor with God indicates that Jesus grew spiritually as He walked this earth and following His example of growth, we too must help our own children understand the importance of continued spiritual growth.
    In this lesson we will examine how we can help our children grow in spirit. Real and lasting spirituality comes from a close and personal relationship with God and that is something that every person must develop for themselves. Thus, the greatest thing we can share with our children is our own personal relationship with God so that they might develop their own. In the end they must develop their own because no one can live off of another’s relationship forever.
    Perhaps the song “Without Him” expresses best the blessings which come from a close relationship with God and the consequences of not having that relationship. “Without Him I would be nothing, without Him I’d surely fail. Without Him I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail. Without Him I would be dying, without Him I’d be enslaved. Without Him life would be hopeless, but with Jesus, thank God, I’m saved.”
    What blessings can our children expect to enjoy when they grow closer to God? The blessings of God’s comfort—2 Cor.1:3-4. In times of sorrow, when facing death—Ps.23:1-6, when overwhelmed by the trials of life—Jm.1:2-6 and when weighted down with concerns for others—Eph.6:21-22. 
    We have the assurances of God. That He cares for us—1 Pet.5:7, that He will never forsake us—Heb.13:5-6 and that all things will work out  for  our  ultimate  good—Rom.8:28.  We  have  the  promise  of heavenly peace—Jn.14:23, Jn.16:33 and Prov.16:7. These are just a few of  the  blessings  that  we  and  our  children  can  enjoy  by  growing  up spiritually.

- 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

Raising Our Children to Be Successful Physically

By Brian Mitchell
    To be successful in every area of life is something that I am sure every parent desires for their children. What exactly it means to be successful and in which areas should they desire to be most successful; well, those are different subjects altogether. That is what this series of lessons is all about. It is a series in which we are discussing what we as parents need to teach our children and in what areas we ought to encourage them to develop in.
    As we considered last week, if you want to know how your kids need to develop, there is no place better to go than the life of Jesus. Lk.2:42—Jesus grew in wisdom (intellect), stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially). Thus, as we continue through this short series we will discuss the importance of our children growing in each of these areas. We will consider how they can do so, the challenges they will face when attempting to do so, and the blessings they can expect to enjoy when they do so.
    Last week we considered helping our children to grow intellectually (intellect—the ability to reason, think). How? By developing and maintaining proper attitudes, by learning how to make proper decisions and by understanding the importance of setting proper goals in life. All of these areas are affected by the way one thinks, and so if we help our children to mature intellectually, they can be successful in all of these areas. Yes, they will face challenges along the way, but they can be successful and they will be blessed when they meet those challenges in the right way.
    This week we will consider the fact that Jesus grew in stature. That is Jesus grew physically, as well as, mentally, spiritually and socially. Of all the points that we will cover in these sermons, this is the one area where we will take a few liberties as far as the material covered. I think, however, that as we think together about the points I would like to make, they may not be that much of a stretch after all. While the text itself implies that Jesus grew physically, I think that we could have pretty much guessed that He did that without being told, and so maybe Luke had something more in mind that that.
    Of course, if you don’t know how to help your children grow physically, the answer is pretty simple. Feed them, make sure they get rest and barring some physical defect the rest will take care of itself. Now, as I said we are not in this lesson going to be talking about how our children grow physically, but rather how they can and must grow physically in the sense of being people of high morals, not abusing their bodies, or wasting their time.
    As we strive to raise our children to be successful in every area of life let us remember to teach them to care for themselves physically. This they can do by heeding God’s word in every aspect of their lives including their morals, their physical bodies and their time. If we will teach these principles to our children, then they like Jesus, will grow in stature.

- 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

Raising Our Children to Be Successful Intellectually

By Brian Mitchell
    Raise Your Hand If You Have Ever Had questions or Doubts about Raising Your Children? I am sure we all have and there are good reasons why this is the case. If you haven’t had any problems you are probably doing something wrong. We all have doubts and questions, because we all want to make sure that we raise our children in the best way possible, providing them with the opportunity to truly be successful in life in all aspects. Raising children is one of the greatest responsibilities any person could take upon themselves.
    Yet despite that great responsibility, the Bible says that the truly happy, are those who have been blessed of God to parent children—Ps.127:3-5. The Psalmist is saying that children are our inheritance from God and the lives they go on to live after we are gone will be our true legacy (lasting impression). Whether or not they achieve these goals will depend largely upon how we as parents raise our children.
    It is up to us as parents to teach our children about God, His Son, His Word, and His church. To encourage our children to make the right decisions and to teach the standard by which these decisions can be made. To teach our children respect for their fellow man and respect for authority and to discipline them when they fail to show proper respect for either. To show our children what a biblical marriage looks like so that they can seek a mate that will help them to have one. To teach our children what true success is and how true fulfillment and happiness is found.
    Thus, if we do not do our jobs as parents, we should not be surprised if our children do not turn out to be the adults we hoped they would be. Fulfilling our role as parents is not something we can start doing when our children are teenagers, by then it is too late. We must teach them right and expect them to abide by those teachings from their earliest years.
    “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov.22:6). This verse has been widely abused for years and pressed to teach something it was never intended to teach. Proverbs—are not absolutes, they are general truths or wise sayings which if followed will generally come true. So it is true that if we teach our children the right way to live they will do so, however, it does not mean that they always will.
    If our children turn out to not be what we and God wanted them to be, it might very well be because in part we did not do our jobs as parents, but it might not be because of that at all. We can do everything right for our children and they can still turn out wrong. If we wanted to find a child that would serve as a model for how all children should develop; who would that child be? We could not do better than to look at what we know about the childhood development of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    The childhood of Jesus presents a 4-fold model for the development of children. Jesus grew in: Wisdom—knowledge—intellect, stature—physically—in control of His body, in favor with God—spiritually and in favor with man—socially. Surely we would all admit that if we can help our children to fully develop in these areas we will have done an excellent job as parents. Thus, our lessons will focus of how we can help our children develop in these 4 areas of child growth.

- 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

Thursday, October 26, 2023

What is the Meaning of the Word Hell?

By Gerald Cowan
    First, HADES is not hell; heaven and hell are not included in hades. Hades means literally the unseen. It is the immediate condition of the spirit when separated from the body at death, unseen and unseeable for living persons still in the body. Hades accommodates both saved and unsaved, righteous and unrighteous: paradise and blessing (but not heaven) for the saved who died in the faith; torment and punishment (but not hell) for all others. Heaven is the certain irrevocable final destiny for the righteous after hades. Hell is the certain irrevocable final  destiny for the unrighteous after Hades. 
    The English word hell, an ambiguous, non-specific, inaccurate and incorrect term used to translate Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus in both Old and New Testaments of the Bible. We have emphasized before that death is the final separation of the soul-spirit from the body.  The dead body is of no use after death – the physical body will not be resurrected but replaced by a spiritual one (1 Corinthians 15:35-38). Hades is  the condition of the soul-spirit, separated from the body. The body, subject to decay and dissolution, is reabsorbed into the common elements of the earth but the soul-spirit is invisible, unseeable to the eyes of those still alive in the body. Soul-spirits in Hades are segregated and compartmentalized according to the relationship to God:  (1) those saved, righteous, and destined to be in heaven eventually,  (2)  those unsaved, unrighteous, and destined to be in hell eventually.  Hades is temporary; heaven and hell are permanent and eternal – and unchangeable.  Paradise (Abraham’s bosom, fellowship of Christ) contains all the saved; Tartarus (torment) contains all the unsaved (there is no purgatory, no limbo or neutral condition for those with undetermined destiny). The eternal destiny for everyone is set irrevocably at death.  Prayers, service, gifts, promises, or quid pro quo trades, in behalf of the dead are not possible.  God will not negotiate any point about the condition or destiny of the dead whether good or bad.
    What about Gehenna (GEÉNNA), how is it related to hell? There was and is a geographical location called GAIA-BEN-HINNOM (the valley of the son of Hinnom) mentioned frequently in the Old Testament scriptures. It became a place devoted to the pagan god Molech where children were burned as a sacrifice in worship and petition to the idol god.  The name was shortened to GE-HINNOM and transliterated into Greek as GEÉNNA, Gehenna. The place and the practice of child-burning was ended under the reforms of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:10-14). It later served as a garbage dump and cesspool for Jerusalem, not only usual trash and excrement but also dead animals and carcasses of dead criminals to be consumed by a fire kept burning perpetually with sulphur/brimstone. Gehenna meshes perfectly with everything else God’s Word says about the fire of final judgment. John the Baptist warned that Jesus “will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12b). Jesus Himself warned often of the “furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:42), the “eternal fire” (Matt. 18:8), the “unquenchable fire” (Mk. 9:43), and the “fiery Hell” (Matt. 5:22). He likened that fire to Gehenna, where “their worm does not die, the fire is not quenched and never goes out. It was a place especially hated by God because of the people’s evil sinfulness that they practiced there. In His wrath, God promised that Tophet, or the Valley of Hinnom, would be renamed the Valley of Groaning and Slaughter because people would consume their dead in it until there was no further space (Jeremiah 7:31-32 KJV). Eventually, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the Jews began referring to Gehenna as a place where sins are punished.
    When Jesus spoke about hell, he usually used the word Gehenna. For example, when talking to people about avoiding sin, he tells them: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it away from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell [Gehenna]. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell [Gehenna]” (Matthew 5:29-30 NKJV). Jesus also uses Gehenna to refer to the final place of punishment, as seen in Matthew 10:28. Do not fear those who might persecute and kill the body yet have no power over the soul, but rather fear Him (God) who can destroy both body and soul in hell [Gehenna].  In Matthew 25:46 Jesus, speaking to his disciples, helps them understand that the unrighteous would go to a place of great suffering while the righteous would go to an everlasting home where they will enjoy eternal life in joy and happiness. In Revelation 21:8 Jesus speaks to the apostle John in a vision and says that all wrongdoers will end up in the lake of fire from which there will be  no escape.
    Why would Jesus Use Gehenna to let the People know of the Horrors of Hell?  Gehenna is not hell but is a metaphor of hell. Jesus used Gehenna to strengthen His arguments about hell. The constant never-extinguished (unquenchable?) fire of the garbage dump of Gehenna is a sign and symbol of unquenchable fire of hell. Molech can stand as a symbol for Satan. The unquenched fire that used to burn in Gehenna while infants were sacrificed was like no other. Hell is a place where the fire burns and will not cease (Matthew 13:50, Matthew 25:41, and Mark 9:48). No doubt Jesus wanted people to know of hell’s horrors and the importance of living a life holy to God to escape it. The Lord’s message would strike terror and dread into his audience who knew Gehenna’s history and symbolism and the many sacrifices by fire done there. Gehenna-like hell represented a place of torment where the fire would continue burning and where there would be no mercy and no comfort given to the lost who entered that condition. Not only will those in hell be unable to save or protect themselves but nobody else on earth or in the spirit world be able to help either. 
    We repeat: between Hades and Gehenna there is no alternative and no hope – no purgatory, no limbo, no exit and no end. Over the entrance to Inferno/Hellfire in Dante’s monumental but misleading poem are the words Abandon hope, all you who enter here. Dante separates hell into many rings or layers, a downward spiral of ever-increasing horror. Much of what certain religions teach and what many bemused and befuddled religious people think about heaven and heel and what lies between them is learned from Dante, not the Word of God.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

Jesus’ Weather Forecast

By Bill Brandstatter
    There have been a lot of weather forecasts that we probably didn't like.. What would you think if Jesus was the weather forecaster? He, after all, can control the winds and the sea. He knows all. He is the one who created all things. There is an old statement, “Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning.” Jesus would likely concur with that statement based on what He told the Pharisees in Matt. 16:3-10.
    In this passage, the Jews want a sign from heaven. I don't know what exactly they were expecting. Jesus tells them that they were able to determine weather patterns, but they can't determine who He is. Are we like this today, do we look for some special sign from heaven? Some folks today have certain events happen in their lives and will state, “It is a sign.”
    Do we want a sign from heaven about what we should be doing in our lives? We already have all things we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). The information we need is in the book God has given. God speaks to us today by His son (Heb. 1:1, 2). Special signs and miracles were given in the New Testament times to produce belief and confirm the spoken word. (John 20:30, 31; Mrk. 16:20).
    We have the word today. We are no longer in need of special signs.
     Do we want a sign from heaven that God hears us? Some might want some special sign as proof that God answers prayer. The Bible tells us that his ears are open to the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12). The answer to prayer comes at God's choosing, not ours. Sometimes his answer is yes. Sometimes he answers NO. When Paul prayed that God would remove his thorn in the flesh, God's answer was “my grace is sufficient” (2 Cor 12:9). Sometimes God answers “wait a while.” But God will answer the prayers of His children according to His will (1 John 5:14).

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

The Gospel is for All!!!

By Edd Sterchi
    One thing that impresses me every time I read the book of Acts is the fact that the gospel is for all. Before leaving for heaven, Jesus told His apostles “and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Fulfilling this, the apostles (and those they trained) went all over the known earth converting people from all walks of life. Notice the different classes of people that Acts alone mentions as converted by the gospel of Christ:
* The Jews (Acts 2:37-47)
* “Both men and women” (Acts 5:14)
* The Samaritans (Acts 8:5ff)
* An African (Ethiopian) office holder (Acts 8:27-39)
* An educated, fanatical, religious leader (Paul - Acts 9:17; 22:1-16)
* A good, decent, God-fearing man who also was a soldier (Cornelius – Acts 10:1-4; 34-48)
* A politician (proconsul - Acts 13:12)
* A businesswoman (Lydia - Acts 16:13-15)
* A heathen jailer (Acts 16:25-34)
* “Prominent” people (Acts 17:12)
* Some people who had bad reputations (the Corinthians - Acts 18:7-8)
* Religious people mistaken as to the plan of salvation (Acts 19:1-5)
* Folks who practiced occult (Acts 19:18)
* On and on we could go, but you get the idea!
    There are no classes excluded in the gospel of God. It is good for the young and the old. There is no barrier because of gender, race, or social status (Gal. 3:28).
    Friends, we need to take the gospel to all (Mark 16:16), for the gospel is for all. As the song so aptly states:
Of one the Lord has made the race, Thro' one has come the fall;
Where sin has gone must go His grace: The Gospel is for all.
Say not the heathen are at home, Beyond we have no call;
For why should we be blest alone? The Gospel is for all.
Received ye freely, freely give, From every land they call;
Unless they hear they cannot live: The Gospel is for all.

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

“Once for All”

By Joe Chesser
    I love the expression “once for all” as it pertains to Jesus. Five times the expression appears in the New Testament (ESV) to encourage us and to deepen our faith by what Jesus did for us through his death on the cross.
  • “For the death he died he died to sin once for all ...” (Romans 6.10)
  • “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7.27)
  • “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption”   (Hebrews 9.12)
  • “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9.26)
  • “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ  once for all” (Hebrews 10.10)
    I’m sure all of you who are reading this are also grateful to Jesus for what he did on the cross once for all. What Jesus did once for all is rich with meaning. The cross of Jesus did away forever with the need for more sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 7.27). By what Jesus did on the cross we are comforted knowing that God will never again remember the sins of those who belong to Christ (Hebrews 8.12; 10.17-18). That wasn’t possible under the Old Law. Forgiveness of sins makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to personally live in us (Acts 2.38), which wasn’t possible before the cross. Because of what Jesus did on the cross we are confident that he will come again to take us to be with him forever (John 14.3). Once for all means all of these promises are always available.
    However, what “once for all” does not mean is that everyone has accessed these promises. This is where the other time “once for all” appears in the New Testament is important to consider. It is found in Jude 3: “Beloved although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Is Jude saying that “our common salvation” based on what Jesus did at the cross is not as common as they might have thought?
    Despite what is popular in our culture today, according to Jesus, salvation is anything but common (see Matthew 7.13-14). Jesus said the wide and easy way is the most common way, but it does not lead the masses to salvation. He went on to say that the narrow and difficult way, which only a few will travel, is what actually leads to salvation. Further, Jesus 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” (Matthew 7.21 emphasis mine). Is that perhaps why Jude was led by the Holy Spirit to appeal to his readers (and us) to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints? Is the will of the Father to be found only in “the faith” to which Jude referred? Was Jude pointing to the faith that was taught in the 1st century when the gospel was preached (Romans 1.16-17); or the faith that is foundational to Christians unity (Galatians 4.5); or the standard of teaching to which we are to be committed (Romans 6.17)? I believe so.
    “The faith that was once for all delivered” to the 1st century saints should never be taken lightly, even today.  It is that same once for all faith that informs us how to access the salvation that the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross provides. Both are to be etched on our hearts. Neither are to be altered or dismissed in any way. In fact, it would do you (and me) good to regularly “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13.5). And stand firm once and for all!

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

Upon This Rock

By Dan C. Bailey
    In Matthew 16:13-20, we have an account of when Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi. The Lord asked his disciples two simple questions. The first question was. "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" He received four answers to this question. All of the answers from men were in error. Jesus was not John the Baptist. Jesus was not Elijah. Jesus was not Jeremiah, nor was he one of the former prophets of Israel. Many today would probably have gone along with most of these opinions. It is easy to follow the teachings of men, but it is often much harder to follow God.
    The second question that Jesus asked was, "But whom say ye that I am?" It was then that Simon Peter correctly answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This truth has been revealed to Peter by God. Peter saw the great wonders and miracles that Jesus had performed. He correctly concluded from the evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. God reveals His Son unto us today, if we will but read the Bible and believe the evidence.
    We read in John 20:30-31: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
    Jesus told Peter, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).The rock is the great truth that Jesus is the Son of the living God. The Son of God is the very foundation of the church. We read in Isaiah 28:16: "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." We also read in 1 Corinthians 3:11 "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
    My friend, the church is not built on the humanity of Luther nor on the fallibility of John Calvin or John Wesley. The church stands upon the rock of the Son of the living God. It is this "Son of God" that we are to confess before men. We read in Matthew 10:32-33: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
    And again in Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
    It was at this time that Jesus promised to build his church. Jesus said, "I will build My church." He did not build the churches that are established by men, organized and fashioned after their own rules and traditions, but Jesus built HIS church. It does not belong to Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Campbell, or any other man. If you are not a member of the church of Christ, become one! The Lord will add you to HIS church when you obey HIM.
    Read the following verses and think about the church that was built by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
ACTS 2:47 -- "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
ACTS 2:38 --"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
MARK 16:16 -- "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
1 CORINTHIANS 12:13 - For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

- Dan C. Bailey serves as a minister with the State Street Church of Christ in Bristol, VA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Neither Shall There Be Any More Pain

By Dan C. Bailey
    In the temporary physical world that we live in, our bodies are subject to pain. Pain is actually helpful much of the time. If there was no pain we would never go to the doctor. If we injured ourselves and needed surgery or medicine, we would not know to seek medical help without pain of some kind. But pain of any type is not pleasant. Even babies are subject to pain.
    All parents have cringed when their little baby received his or her first shot. There isn't anyone in the world who is sane who would not like to live a life without pain. But that is exactly how it will be in heaven, no pain ever of any kind!
    Everything will be made new in heaven. We read in Revelation 21:5, "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." We will have new incorruptible bodies. "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
    Since we will no longer have our physical vile bodies, we will not ever suffer with pain again! "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 3:20-21).
    Yes heaven will truly be worth it all. We have a wonderful summary of it in Revelation 21:4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Let us trust the precious promises of God and joyfully look forward to a world without pain.

- Dan C. Bailey serves as a minister with the State Street Church of Christ in Bristol, VA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Look at the Stars

By David A. Sargent
    Joe Barnett recently wrote about a visit with a couple that he had known in the past:
    Mark and Katy were living a happy life in our community and church when they were abruptly uprooted and transferred to a remote, thinly-populated outpost in Alberta, Canada.
    I stopped by to spend a night with them when a trip took me that way. We talked and laughed late into the night. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tear trickle down Katy’s cheek.
    Before heading to bed, I stepped outside and was mesmerized by a breathtaking view of a pitch-black sky festooned with thousands of shimmering stars. Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t alone – Katy was leaning against the porch railing, gazing at the same sky.
    “Homesick?” I asked.
    “Terribly!” she said. “I miss my friends and my church. This is so far from home I feel like I’m on a different planet.”
    “I come out here almost every night,” Katy said. “I like it when the stars come out; they connect me with my friends back home because they are the same stars, we used to look at together. We have a pact that we will still look at these stars together – they there, me here – and think of each other.”
    Centuries ago, a prophet thought the stars provided good medicine for homesick hearts. He pointed exiled and dejected people to the stars: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name” (Isaiah 40:26). The stars that looked down on those homesick captives in Babylon were the very same stars they had looked up at as they strolled the streets of Jerusalem in their beloved homeland. *
    As soon as you can, look at the stars.  If you’re homesick, think of your loved ones and how they are viewing the same stars.  As you look at the stars, consider also the One who created them.  He knows the name of every star – and He knows and cares about you.
    The Psalmist David was thinking about a star-filled sky when he wrote: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?” – Psalm 8:3-4 NIV
    The wonder of it all is that our Creator cares deeply for each of us.  He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be saved from sin, receive the gift of eternal life, and look forward to spending an eternity with Him in heaven (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:23; John 14:1-6).
    God will save from sin and give eternal life to those who will 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).
    Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.  The One who created the starry host cares about YOU and wants YOU to be a part of His forever family.

- 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:

* From “When the Stars Come Out” by Joe Barnett in On My Mind with Joe Barnett, an email publication of Pathway Evangelism, shared on June 2, 2023.

Churches of Christ

By Ronald Bartanen
     Congregations usually identified by the term “churches of Christ” consists of a people who want to be known individually as Christians, in honor of Christ.  We have no earthly headquarters, and take as our one rule of faith and practice the New Testament scriptures.   We endeavor to be neither more nor less than believers in Christ were from the beginning.  We believe that, as New Testament believers, when we believed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4), repented of our sins, confessed our faith and were baptized (immersed) in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, the Lord added us to His church (Acts 2:36-38, 41, 47).  We have not desired to join a denomination, all of which were unknown to the apostles and early Christians.
    What we do “in word or in deed” is not dictated by denominational councils, but is to be “in the name of (by authority of) the Lord” (Col. 3:17).  Our plea is for restoration of simple New Testament Christianity as established by Christ and taught by the apostles, with Christ as our creed, and the inspired word as our infallible guide.  This alone can be a sufficient ground for the unity of believers, for which Jesus prayed prior to His crucifixion. (John 17:21).
    A plea that we have commonly heard and voiced has been: “Let us call Bible things by Bible names, and let us do Bible things in Bible ways.  Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

- 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:

How can a congregation connect with the youth of the congregation?

Part 1: Don’t Neglect Them!
By Wes Garland
    With the youth rally coming up later this week, I started thinking about the very needed topic as the title of this article. We have a great youth group here at Warners Chapel and it is important to make sure that we, as a congregation, give them what they need. Our youth today is longing to have the confidence that they belong and are accepted. Not to be seen as separate or outcasts but as part of the congregation and part of our family. I’ve been part of congregations that haven’t given this to the youth and it has “caused” the youth to look at those of other sources (ungodly or not) to find their place of acceptance and belonging. Let’s give this a thought. If a child is left neglected and left to themselves, what is going to be the result? Do you think that it will be a good or bad result? Do you think that it will help the church for the present and the future or do you think it will create a detriment for the church? If we ever want to have the church as solid as it can be now and in the future, we HAVE TO give attention to the youth. I am reminded of what is said in Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” This principle can truly be applied to the church as well. If we don’t give the youth the attention that they need, it will, not only affect the youth themselves but will also bring shame on the  church because they are seeking elsewhere what they should be receiving from the church family. The fact is they will find acceptance and belonging somewhere, but where will it be: the church family or the world?
    Are we personally involved with our youth to give them a place of belonging or acceptance? If not, then start! They need it and so do you.

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