Monday, June 17, 2024

Author Spotlight

 This week's articles come from contributor Jared Green who preaches for the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. We appreciate Jared's willingness to share his articles with us and with each of you.




Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rejoice in the God of our Salvation

 

By Jared Green
    In most Old Testament books of prophecy, God provided prophets with a message to preach to his people. At times, prophets were tasked with preaching messages of repentance when God’s people were living in sin. At times, prophets provided messages of hope when God’s people were struggling. But in the book of Habakkuk, we find a prophet who seemed to work in reverse order. Rather than being God’s mouthpiece to the people, Habakkuk served as the people’s mouthpiece to God. 
    We do not know much about Habakkuk, but it is believed by many that his ministry was around that of Jeremiah, specifically in the time leading up to the Israelites’ Babylonian captivity. The first two chapters of the prophecy reveal a two-part discourse between Habakkuk and God in which Habakkuk brought a complaint to God followed by God’s response. In Habakkuk’s first complaint, he posed a common question asked of God: How long? Habakkuk looked out among God’s people and saw violence (1:2) and iniquity (1:3), which led to this conclusion: “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted” (1:4). As we know, God’s people were in grave sin before the Babylonian exile, and Habakkuk called on God to intervene. 
    In his first answer, God promised divine intervention. He said, “Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (1:5). As great as that answer sounds on the surface, God went on to explain that he was planning to use the Babylonians to bring about judgement on his wicked people. Habakkuk was appalled. To summarize and paraphrase Habakkuk’s second complaint to God, he said: How could you use a more wicked nation to punish your people, a less wicked nation? In God’s final response to Habakkuk, he provided the most well-known passage from the book, one that is quoted by Paul in the New Testament: “…the righteous shall live by his faith” (2:4b). 
    While God may not have provided the answers Habakkuk seemed to be seeking, they are important answers for all God’s people to consider: I am doing a work that you would not understand, and the righteous shall live by his faith. Upon hearing God’s final answers, the prophecy closes with Habakkuk’s prayer of faith. At the end of his prayer, using language common in an agricultural society, Habakkuk made it clear that even if he experienced the worst physical pain imaginable, he would rejoice and trust in the Lord. In his words: “…yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (3:18-19). No matter what life situations we find ourselves in, may we always find our joy and strength in the God of our salvation. God loves you, and so do I.


- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com



I Am Not Ashamed

 

By Jared Green


    In the introduction of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explained his love and care for the church in Rome. Paul desired to spend time with them, and he was “eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (1:15). Immediately following his heartfelt introduction, Paul provided what I consider to be the thesis of his letter. He said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (1:15-16). 

    A study through Romans provides a clear answer as to why Paul began the body of his letter with a proclamation that he was not ashamed of the gospel. The gospel, as preached by Paul and the Apostles, was met with great opposition at times. Just in this letter, Paul dealt with things such as God’s coming wrath on the unrighteous (chapters 1-2), the sinfulness of all people (chapter 3), righteousness through faith in Christ apart from the Law (chapters 3-7), salvation for all people regardless of race or ancestral heritage (chapters 9-11), submission to governing authorities (chapter 13), and a call to neither pass judgement on one another’s choices nor cause a brother or sister to stumble (chapter 14). 

    Because of the difficult messages in each of the letter’s sections, there could be plenty of reasons to be ashamed. Who wants to call someone out on their sin? Who wants to tell someone about God’s coming wrath? Yet Paul made clear that he was not ashamed of the gospel. Why? Because he knew that the gospel of Jesus Christ provided the only path to salvation for the people he loved. Did that mean Paul had to have hard conversations? Of course, but he approached those difficult conversations with confidence in the truth, hope, and love of Christ’s gospel. 

    Most of us would stand in agreement with Paul that we are unashamed of the gospel, but do our lives support that stance? As it was in Paul’s day, our world meets the difficult message of the gospel with opposition. As a result, it is easier to turn a blind eye to the sins of those around me. It is easier to make myself believe that it is not my job to step in and have a difficult conversation with someone I care about. It is easier to tell myself that someone around me can hear the beautiful message of Christ’s gospel from someone else. It is easier to live as though I am ashamed of the gospel. I challenge each of us, however, to stand firm and unashamed in the gospel, “for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16). God loves you, and so do I. 



- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com



His Workmanship

 

By Jared Green

    In this past week’s study in Luke, we read Jesus calling Levi, also known as Matthew (the Gospel writer), to discipleship. In the passage just before, when Jesus healed the paralytic, he made clear his ability—as the Son of God—to forgive sins (Luke 5:24). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus came to forgive and call to discipleship those who are unworthy. He truly came to be Lord of all, and Levi’s call to discipleship makes that clear. 
    Levi was a tax collector, a Jew hated by Jews because of his dishonest work for the Roman government. Levi’s call to discipleship, and his subsequent feast celebrating his new life of following Christ, made the scribes and Pharisees angry. They could not understand Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, eating with tax collectors and sinners. To them, Jesus’ participation in the feast was blatant acceptance of sinful living. Jesus, however, stated that his purpose in eating with sinners was to redeem them, not to condone their ways of living. He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (5:31-32). 
    As we talked about Sunday, this story paints for us a beautiful picture of Christ’s salvation, as well as an example of how to faithfully engage with those living in sin. To add to the lessons we have already studied from this encounter, we also learn what Jesus sees in those he calls to discipleship. When faced with the call to discipleship in our own lives, it is natural for us to feel inadequate. At times, the feelings of inadequacy come from the control sin has had over our lives in the past. Sometimes, we feel as though we have nothing to offer to Christ and his church. Other times, we allow ourselves to believe we can never be the people our Lord calls us to be. These feelings of inadequacy are natural, and they are used by the devil as a tool to keep us right where we are. 
    The story of Levi’s call to discipleship shows us that “Jesus sees what we can become even when we are lost in our sins. Christ saw in the disfigured life of Levi (tax collector) a Matthew (writer, evangelist, collector of souls)” (R. Kent Hughes, Luke, 190). Levi was a tax collector. Simon was a Zealot. Paul persecuted Christians. From the outside looking in, those called by Christ often seemed unworthy, inadequate candidates. The truth is, however, our Lord sees past our imperfections and inadequacies, and he sees souls made in his image. When he calls us to discipleship, his focus is on who we can become, not who we have been. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). God loves you, and so do I.

Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


Do Not Be Afraid

 

By Jared Green

    You may have heard it said that the Bible says ‘do not fear’ 365 times—one command for every day of the year. That is a very encouraging statement, and it is true that God often commands his followers not to fear, but you likely will not be able to find exactly 365 ‘do not fear’ statements in your Bible. Though the phrase may not appear that number of times, it is still one of God’s most commonly given commands. 
    There are many life situations that lead us to fear. Will I marry the right person? Will I get the job? Will I be able to pay the electric bill this month? Will I be able to beat this diagnosis? Will my marriage survive this rough patch? How will I continue on now that my loved one is gone? At times, the list of life situations that lead us to fear seems never-ending. Yet God tells us not to fear. While that may seem like a difficult command to live out, it is imperative that we understand that God’s command to be fear-free is not given simply in the abstract. Instead, God reminds us that we can let go of fear because he is on our side. 
    Oftentimes when I read the Bible, I find myself thinking just how glad I am that I am not in the shoes of some of its men and women. Joshua is one of those men. I cannot imagine trying to lead God’s people into the promised land immediately after Moses’ death. Scripture says of Moses, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Exodus 34:10). Even still, Joshua was called by God to take his place. Undoubtedly, Joshua found himself in one of those life situations that breeds fear. But as God often did throughout the Israelites’ wilderness journey, he commanded Joshua not to fear. At the end of a great passage in which God commissions Joshua to lead his people, God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). 
    God commanded Joshua to let go of his fear because God was on his side. So long as Joshua trusted and obeyed God, he was promised success and prosperity as Israel’s leader (Joshua 1:8). As we consider one of God’s most commonly given commands, let us remember that the reason we can let go of fear is because our God loves us, cares for us, and is on our side. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). God loves you, and so do I. 



- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com



Replacing Sin

 

By Jared Green

     Among Jesus’ many great physical healings, he was well-known for casting out demons. In Luke 11, he cast out a demon that was mute, and once the demon was gone, the man was again able to speak. As they normally did, the people who saw the miracle marveled at what Jesus was able to do. The crowd reaction was mixed, however, as some believed Jesus was casting out demons in the name of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, while others sought a sign from heaven (11:14-16). Knowing the thoughts of the crowd, Jesus began to teach that he was casting out demons “by the finger of God” (11:20). At the end of his argument, Jesus taught a powerful lesson that extends well beyond casting out demons. Jesus said:
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first (11:24-26).
    While Jesus is not in the business of casting demons from people today, Jesus is in the business of casting out sin. Upon our baptism into Christ, our sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38). While Christ’s grace alone provides forgiveness, we carry an important responsibility in our new Christian walks. It is vital that we replace the sin which once reigned in our lives with Christ-centered, obedient living. 
    What Jesus taught about the unclean spirits stands true on the topic of sin. When sin is cast from our lives, temptation is bound to return, and when temptation returns, it will undoubtedly be hard to fight against. So, when temptation returns, what will it find? Will temptation find a breeding ground for sin in your “house”? Or will it find that you have replaced the sin in your life with godliness? We must put to death worldly, sinful living (Colossians 3:5) in order that Christ-like living can take hold in our lives (Galatians 5:16-24). God loves you, and so do I. 


- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. He may be contacted through


Saturday, June 15, 2024

Author Spotlight

 This week we are featuring articles written by David R. Ferguson. David studied at Freed Hardeman University and has preached for congregations in Mattoon, IL and Mentor, OH. We appreciate his long association with BulletinGold and his willingness to share his articles with us.




Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Blind Leading the Blind

By David R. Ferguson

    Many of the familiar expressions we use today originated in the Bible. One such idiom, “the blind leading the blind,” comes from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 15:14: “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (see also Luke 6:39).
    As Jesus traveled around ministering in Galilee, He attracted crowds from places near and far, including Jerusalem – the authoritative center of Judaism at the time. The Gospel of Matthew records a scene in which a group of Pharisees and scribes travel from Jerusalem to confront Jesus. These religious leaders were the representatives of Judaism in that day. They were entrusted with studying the Scriptures and guiding God’s people in the ways of the Lord.
    Without a doubt, these Jewish leaders were receiving reports of miracles and unconventional activities surrounding Jesus’ ministry. They became alarmed that their many regulations, laws, and age-old “traditions of the elders” (Matthew 15:2, ESV) were not being kept. Specifically, they had come to question why Jesus’ disciples were breaking the tradition of ceremonial handwashing before meals. According to their procedures – which, in reality, were human-made regulations and not part of God’s word – Jesus and His disciples were behaving in a way that made them ritually unclean. These so-called spiritual leaders had elevated their legalistic traditions to the point of equality with the commands of God in Scripture, a transgression Jesus was now compelled to confront.
        Leading up to His description of the religious leaders as blind leaders of the blind, Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees had broken God’s commandments (Matthew 15:3-9). First, He established their hypocrisy – they regularly broke the laws of God while demanding that others follow their human-made traditions. They displayed outward piety but lacked true devotion to God and His word in their hearts. They were rebellious toward God and blind to their spiritual emptiness.
    When Jesus said of the Pharisees, “The blind lead the blind,” He was emphasizing the foolishness of the situation. Only a person who can see ought to lead a blind person. To be a successful guide to others, one must be able to see where he or she is going. If the blind lead the blind, those leaders are arrogant, overconfident, and in serious denial about their own sightless condition. Jesus knew this was true of the scribes and Pharisees who had come to confront Him. “Guide for the blind” was a common title for Jewish teachers of that day (Romans 2:19). Jesus wasn’t about to let His detractors continue claiming this title when, in truth, they needed someone to lead them. We, too, must be careful not to let our own arrogance and pride blind us to our spiritual condition. We must trust in God and His word.

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


Sharing in the Suffering and Glory of Jesus

By David R. Ferguson


    It’s interesting when you study the Old Testament and, while doing so, you recognize its fulfillment coming alive in the New Testament. When Joshua and the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they entered their inheritance. When we come to the Lord in obedient, saving faith, we receive many great blessings on top of having our sins removed. One of the greatest gifts we receive is we are adopted by God as His child legally, which is why from that point onward we become heirs to all that God has. The Apostle Paul writes about this process in Romans 8:16-17 [MEV], saying,

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him.”

    This point Paul makes here is key and essential for us to know. The Holy Spirit of God, which Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost was given to obedient believers at baptism (Acts 2:38), bears witness to our spirit that we are, indeed, part of God’s family! But that’s not all the Spirit of God bears witness to. He also says we are now heirs of God and joint heirs with His Son Jesus! The entire inheritance of God becomes ours as we share it with His Son because we are also God’s child. And that’s very exciting to ponder.

    But there’s also an “if” attached to this promise, and it’s important. We are children of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we share in His sufferings. By doing so, Paul says we then will share in His glory.

    It’s difficult to suffer, but suffering for the sake of Christ is part of our inheritance we have in Him. Paul writes about this in 2 Timothy 3:12 [MEV], saying, “Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Since Christ suffered, then so will we, but for Christians this suffering becomes a great blessing. Jesus spoke of this Himself in His Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12 [MEV]).

    Great, indeed, is our reward in Heaven where our Father and Elder Brother await us!


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com



Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

By David R. Ferguson


    In Matthew 9:27-31, we read of yet another great miracle on a day comprised of several astonishing miracles Jesus performed in the city of Capernaum so very long ago. As Matthew puts it,

27 As Jesus went on from there, two men who were blind followed Him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 And after He entered the house, the men who were blind came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done for you according to your faith.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows about this!” 31 But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout that land.

    From the moment He stepped off the boat that morning, Jesus had been going nonstop performing miracles, and this wasn’t even the last one He would do that day! He had already cured a paralyzed man; a woman with a blood issue that had lasted for 12 years was healed when she touched the hem of His robe; and He had just raised a 12-year-old girl from the dead. All these things had happened that day before He was accosted by these two blind men seeking His aid.

    Some people naturally wonder why Jesus seemingly ignored the pleas of these two blind men as they cried out to Him. Jesus didn’t stop and heal these men, but instead He entered the house where He was staying without addressing the men. Although we aren’t told specifically why Jesus didn’t speak with these men initially, there are several possibilities that aren’t unreasonable. The first of these could be that Jesus may have been exhausted and simply hadn’t heard them initially as they cried out to Him since there were also many other people following Jesus that day. It may have been that Jesus wanted the men to repeat their request. This is the message Jesus taught in His Parable of the Persistent Widow. God loves His children, and He desires to hear from them often. And yet another reason Jesus didn’t respond immediately to these two blind men may be tied in with His command to them to “See that no one knows about this.”

    It wasn’t yet time for Jesus to be crucified for the sins of mankind, and the cry these men made of “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” was not just a call for help, it was also a battle cry. The title “Son of David” is a Messianic title, and one the Jews used in their zeal to for a King to throw off their Roman overloads militarily. This wasn’t the mission of Jesus, and He didn’t need any trouble with the Romans. It’s my opinion that Jesus waited until the men followed Him inside the house to heal them for this very reason.


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com

The Plan

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By David R. Ferguson

    In Ephesians 4:15 we are told to “speak the truth in love.” So how do we overcome Satan? We must understand that we are in a battle. We must put on “the whole armor of God.” And we must utilize our spiritual victory plan.
    That plan is laid out for the child of God in Revelation 12:11 where John wrote, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Look at those things. “The blood of the Lamb” is Jesus’ sacrifice. “The word of their testimony” is what we today recognize as the Scriptures. “And they did not love their lives to the death” is self-sacrifice. So today we can overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb.” The lamb that was slain in the Old Testament era was a symbol of something pure and perfect that took the place of sinners. John the Baptist once saw Jesus approaching and said, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” Hebrews 10:4 tells us that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:12 says that Jesus, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” His sacrifice, being perfect (Hebrews 4:15), was able to remove completely the guilt and stain of sin for those who obey Him.
    There also is “the word of their testimony,” which to us are the Scriptures. Those Scriptures are our spiritual lifeline. They, as it were, turn on a flashlight for us in a world of spiritual darkness (Psalm 119:105). The Scriptures are what make us spiritually clean. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9). The Scriptures help us prevent sin in our lives. We hide God’s word in our hearts so that we will not sin against Him (Psalm. 119:11).
    The third aspect in our spiritual victory plan has to do with the fact that we must be willing “not to love our lives to the death.” This means that we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the cause of Christ. We are not talking, of course, about a person going out and doing something foolish that would intentionally harm his body in the name of Jesus. What we are talking about is being willing every single day to give our lives to Christ, and being willing to submit our will to God’s will. The Scriptures teach in Romans 12:1 that we are “living sacrifices.” We are to consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). We are to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, according to Jesus in Luke. 9:23. The Scriptures teach us that the love of God ought to cause us to die to self daily to live for Jesus. Are you in the battle today to win? Are you aware that Satan is trying to cause you to lose your soul? If so, have you put on the whole armor of God? Are you prepared spiritually to go to battle against the Devil? Are you taking advantage of the spiritual victory plan? Always remain true to God, and fight the good fight of faith.


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com




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God Is Love

By David R. Ferguson


    I’m continually amazed and grateful for the many ways God demonstrates His love to us. During my devotional time, I began to make a list of them and want to share them with you. I pray that you will be blessed as you are reminded of His great love.

    He doesn’t change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” and Malachi 3:6 says, "I the Lord do not change.”

    His love is always sure. Seasons change, people change, the world is changing, but God never changes. We can rely on Him.

    He is faithful. God isn’t moody or fickle. We are. People will love you for a while and then they don’t. But God isn’t like that. He sticks with you. Mom

    Whenever He asks us to obey Him, He also provides everything we need (1 Thessalonians 5:24). You can trust the One Who calls you to do that for you.

    He’s our protector. He is our shield. And He is our “always there” protector. “So our hope is in the Lord. He is our help, our shield to protect us” (Psalm 33:20). Iti’s so comforting to know that everything that comes our way has to go through the shield about us before it touches us.

    He’s always thinking about us. Psalm 139:17 says, “How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many thoughts turn towards me.” This is one of the neatest things. When you think about it, there are over seven billion people in the world, and He still thinks of you and me constantly. He’s able to give us His undivided attention.

    He’s always with you. This is made abundantly clear in Scripture. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). No matter where we are, God will be there with us.

    He’s never too busy for us. He never goes away, takes a break, or goes on a vacation. He will always have time for us!

    When we are in trouble, we can be encouraged. Deuteronomy 33:27 tells us, “The eternal God is a hiding place, and underneath are His everlasting arms.” Those arms are longing to embrace you today as His child, for as John puts it, “God is love” (1 John 4:16).


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted hrough the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.comt


Monday, June 3, 2024

The Untouchables

By David A. Sargent


    Dan Richardson lost his battle with cancer. A fervent Christian, he wrote the following to be distributed at his memorial service.

    Cancer is limited . . .

It cannot cripple love,

It cannot corrode faith,

It cannot eat away peace,

It cannot destroy confidence,

It cannot kill friendship,

It cannot shut out memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot reduce eternal life,

It cannot quench the Spirit,

It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.*

    “You have cancer.”  So many have heard these devastating words.  Fear is the most common response.  These are sobering, life-altering words.

    The medical profession has made many advances.  We pray for our loved ones who have heard the somber diagnosis.  We long to hear the words after surgery and treatments: “You are cancer free.”

    Even children of God are not immune from this disease.  But Dan Richardson’s words remind us of what cancer cannot touch.  May his words that are based on Scriptural truths bring strength, comfort, and peace to you, if you are battling cancer or going through some other difficult struggle.

    Neither cancer nor any other trial in life can touch the spiritual blessings that are found in Christ.  That is because Jesus has won for us the victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).

     Unforgiven sin is the only real reason for despair because it separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and puts us on the path to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

    But God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16) so that we can receive the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7) and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

    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 sin (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin and prepare for an eternal home those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

    Are you struggling with the difficulties that plague us in this world?  Consider the untouchable blessings that are found in Christ.  He died to make these things possible for you.  Embrace these blessings on His terms.  They will sustain you now and for eternity.


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


One Baptism (Ephesians 4:5)

By David Bragg


    Years ago, in an issue of The World Evangelist, G. F. Raines related the story of a terrible head-on collision between two speeding trains. Both trains were barreling down the same track in opposite directions on a foggy, moonless night. Both engineers throw on their brakes in a futile attempt to stop their respective trains.

     Rescue workers, systematically working their way through the wreckage, discovered "one of the engineers alive and pinned inside the locomotive. He was holding a yellow sheet of paper in his hand and saying with mournful repetition, "Someone gave the wrong orders".

    The Apostle Paul was very clear that, although the New Testament speaks of various types of baptism, for the Chrisitan age there is but one. We are given but one set of marching orders (Matthew 28:18-20). There is but one action a person can take to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). The Apostle Peter was clear that there is but one action one can take that, when sincere, saves (1 Peter 3:21). We can be clear today, in a world confused by false doctrine, Jesus gave us but one baptism


David Bragg is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/


God’s Grace

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By Ron Thomas


    It has been said that God's riches were given to man at Christ's expense. While this acrostic idea may easily preach (and it is true), it is more accurate to say that God's riches were given to man as the Lord willingly gave up the glories of heaven for the benefit of those He loves (all of us).

    God's grace, it is our message to a world lost in sin but refuses to think they are guilty of anything as seriously consequential as eternal death. Some will speak as if they “okay” with the idea of going to Hell, but they have no idea about what that means, except to say it can’t be as bad as some harsh Christians say it is. “Anyway, my friends will be there!” They judge their actions as not being worthy of the Lord’s favor, but neither do they care.

    We are very much aware of how the worldly mind thinks on this or that topic, and we also know the mind of the Lord and His view toward those who reject Him. With this knowledge, what do we do in a sinfully vile world around us?

    Let us begin by understanding that we must live the life of Christ (Gal. 2:20). Difficult as it may be to do this, even more s- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at etsop95@gmail.como, consistently, we must begin here. Next, be sure we speak the words of Christ. When we speak of His saving grace, how He has given to each of us a hope that none in the world can take away (Rom. 8:24), repeat this message; in time, it will be heard. Third, support those who are serving in capacities that we are not, whether it be as elders, preachers, missionaries, schools of preaching, websites that promote the Lord’s way, etc. Fourth, do you enjoy being with your brethren? If so, then make association with them your priority and not those outside the Lord. Those things / events you value you will pursue, attain, and promote.

    These are some things we can do, and if we do them with commitment, enthusiasm, and loyalty to the Lord, a difference we will make.


- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at etsop95@gmail.com


Untainted

By Rob Redden


"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27 NIV).

    Several years ago, Federal health regulators said they found tiny particles of trash in drugs used to treat rare enzyme disorders. Since the FDA has not discovered any adverse events, the agency is not removing the products from the market because it says there are few alternative treatments. The agency urged doctors to thoroughly inspect vials for particles before injecting them into patients!

    How would you like to discover you have been injected with trash? What's a little steel, rubber and fiber as long as it makes you feel better? Years ago, when President Nixon attended a ceremony celebrating a high-tech water purification plant that treated water from sewage, he was offered a drink of its 99% pure water. He responded, "No, I'm worried about the 1%!"

    There are so many people who do not worry about a little contamination. Just a little cheating, a little lying, a little sexual immorality, a little false doctrine are fine if it does not become a major percentage! Like the FDA, we tolerate a little bit of error and worldliness because we have not seen any adverse problems - yet. This is like saying, "I will eat out of trash cans as long as I don't get sick!" How foolish!

    James tells us our religion must be pure and unadulterated, without spot (Jas. 1:27). Do we use a little "cussing"? What about a little lust? Perhaps a little road rage isn't all that bad! "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" (James 3:4-6 NKJV)

    We need to be vigilant about the subtle contaminations of our souls that daily attack us.

Rob Redden preaches for the Grover Beach Church of Christ in Grover Beach, CA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website - www.groverbeachchurchofchrist.com


The Word of God

 

By Dan C. Bailey


    The word of God is God's revelation to mankind. God inspired men to write down His word. We read in Il Timothy 3:14-15, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." The apostle Paul had personally instructed Timothy. Timothy had the assurance that he was taught the truth. The scriptures are holy because they are from God, they are from heaven. We read again in Il Timothy 3:16-17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." The word "inspired" means "God breathed." So when we read the Bible, study the Bible, or preach the Bible, we are reading, studying or preaching from an inspired book. If we do not reverence the word of God, then we do not reverence God. 

    There are many who do not give due diligence to the word of God. We are instructed in Il Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The word of God or the gospel, is God's power to save the lost. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1: 16). It is able to save our souls. "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). 

    If we are serious about living right and about going to heaven, we will be serious about studying and learning the word of God. Let us all come to our Bible study classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Each class that we attend will increase our knowledge of the word of God. It is God's inspired word! We must take it seriously! It is God's word that will judge us one day. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). That should prompt us to learn more about the word of God. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).



- 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 https://www.thelordsway.com/statestreetchurchofchrist/framedindex.asp?Group=Home



Monday, May 20, 2024

Press On Toward Jesus Throughout the New Year

By Joe Chesser


      The New Year has arrived and is stretched out before us. The holidays are over (whew!), and most of us are ready to get back to normalcy (whatever that means for you). Back to work. Back to school. Back to normal sleeping. Back to diets. Back to routine.          

    However, it is the New Year, and many of us have been thinking about how to make personal improvements (physical, family, financial). And as you know, making resolutions and commitments sounds great. The difficulty comes in fulfilling these goals. You know that. This is not something new to you, is it? How many times has your diet fizzled out after as few weeks or months? How many times have your exercise plans come to nothing?  How many times has your new budget been blown?  How many times has your family time vanished for one reason or another? It’s tough for these hopes and dreams become reality.

    Sadly, what’s true with our physical goals is just as true with our spiritual goals. We want to read our Bibles and pray more than we did in the past. We want to attend more Bible classes and be more involved in church activities than before. We want to be faithful to the Lord in every way. But even these awesome spiritual desires sometimes fade into the background and get replaced with inferior life situations.

    God knows we struggle with life decisions such as overtime opportunities at work; house and yard repairs; vacations; sports; hunting and fishing, grandkids, etc.  He knows our hearts and how even good things can distract us from better things. He knows what Satan uses to temp or divert us.  

    And so He encourages us to put first things first (Matthew 6.33); to press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3.12-14), to be steadfast and unmovable (1 Corinthians 15.58), to set our minds on things above, not on the earth (Colossians 3.1-2) and to die to ourselves every day and follow Jesus (Luke 9.23). He also warns us about looking back at what we left (like Lot’s wife -  Genesis 1); about making excuses regarding following Jesus (Luke 9.57-62); about taking our eyes off of Jesus (like Peter did – Matthew 14) and about becoming entangled in the worldly ways again like a dog returning to his vomit (2 Peter 2.20-22).

    Being committed to Jesus is never presented in Scripture as something easy and carefree. As noted above, it is presented as a battle, as a sacrifice, as a challenge. But it’s not a challenge we have to face alone. We are promised help, guidance and comfort from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5.16; Romand 8.26-27; Acts 9.31). And on top of that we are promised unimaginable blessings if we die in Christ (1 Corinthians 2.9; Revelation 14.13; 2 Timothy 4.7-8; James 1.12).

    What a great time for all of us to renew our commitment to press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! Don’t let anyone or anything distract or deter you from holding true to what you have attained from God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3.16)! May God bless you and me as we press on toward Jesus in 2024!!!


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



Craving Approval

By Joe Slater


    We like to be liked and love to be loved. It’s normal. And like most normal things, we can carry it to unhealthy extremes. How many “likes” did I get on my Facebook post? Only fourteen? Woe is me!

    The earliest Christians in Jerusalem were “praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:47). The general population looked on those disciples approvingly as they saw them living reverently before God and taking care of the needy (2:42-45). Does our example today encourage our community’s approval? “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

    Before long, however, those positive feelings turned into bitter opposition and persecution. Proclaiming the risen Jesus as the Messiah didn’t set well with the religious elite. How disappointing! Our ancient brethren, however, didn’t despair, nor did they modify their message or their conduct. Even when beaten, they thanked God for the privilege of suffering for Jesus (Acts 5:41).

    When the world looks favorably upon you as you do right, that’s icing on the cake! But don’t allow yourself to develop an unhealthy craving for people’s approval. Remember these words from Jesus: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

“For if I still pleased men, I would not be a

bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).



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



A Tale of Two Churches

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By Jared Green


    To begin the book of Revelation, Jesus reveals to John in a vision the content of letters that he was to write and send to seven churches in Asia Minor. In the letters, Jesus gives a specific, pertinent message to each church. Jesus’ purpose is to both fix any issues going on within the churches and encourage the Christian recipients with messages of hope to remain faithful to Christ amid difficult times. 

    In 2:8-11, Jesus writes to the small but strong church in Smyrna. To them he says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan” (2:9). While the Christians who made up this congregation felt the sting of persecution and poverty—and maybe were struggling to remain faithful because of their struggles—Jesus reminds them that they are rich. According to Jesus’ message, their riches come not from monetary gain but from something much greater. In encouraging the Smyrnaeans to remain faithful as they experience persecution, he says to them, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10). The Smyrnaeans’ riches were a result of God’s grace in salvation, and Jesus encouraged them to use that grace to stand firm. 

    Later, in 3:14-22, Jesus writes to a church that, from the outside looking in, seemed to have everything together. The reality, however, was much different. Jesus tells the Christians in Laodicea that he will spit them out of his mouth due to their lukewarm nature. They are neither hot (actively for Christ) nor cold (actively against Christ). Jesus goes on to explain the reason: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). The lukewarm nature of the Laodiceans came from their desire to rely on themselves rather than Christ. 

    When studying this tale of two cities, Jesus clearly gets to the heart of the matter. In Jesus’ mind, the church who had nothing really had everything, while the church who had everything really had nothing. In a world full of trials, Jesus calls for churches to rely on him rather than themselves. In a world full of trials, Jesus calls each individual Christian to rely on him rather than himself or herself. As tempting as it is to feel as though we have ‘made it’ when we are rich by worldly standards, may we always be a people who seek to be rich in our Savior’s eyes. God loves you, and so do I. 


- Jared Green preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


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Armed for Battle

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By Andrew Beasley


    Imagine sending a soldier off to war without any weapon or armor to defend themselves. Would you expect them to last very long against the enemy that they are tasked with fighting? The implication of Paul’s statement in Ephesians 6:11 is that by putting on the full armor of God it is possible for you to go out and to wage war against our enemy, the devil, and to be successful in doing so. Of course the other side of that coin is that if you do not put on the full armor of God, what chance do you have in a fight against him?

    There is more to simply putting on the armor that goes into the process as a Christian. We must learn how to use each piece of armor that God has given us to wield. An aspiring football player would not play without first learning how to throw, or carry, the football and without knowing how to put their pads on with an understanding of what each piece does to protect them. Remember when David was preparing to fight Goliath and King Saul offered him his armor (1st Sam. 17:32-40)? David’s response, while gracious, was that he could not use it because he had not tested it out.

    Instead, when David went out to fight the battle with Goliath he went out armed with God on his side and the tools that he was accustomed to. It takes time. It takes diligence. But mostly, it takes courage to prepare for the battle that God has called us to, to get ourselves ready, and to put on the full armor that we might wage war against our great enemy, Satan. 


- Andrew Beasley serves as a minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://nwchurchofchrist.com/about/


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Peter’s Final Words

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By Edd Sterchi

    The great apostle and evangelist, Peter did some amazing things in his preaching career. In Acts 2, he delivered the first gospel sermon after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Acts 2:41 records that an astounding number responded to this and were baptized into Christ – almost 3,000! Peter continued preaching even though arrested several times, beaten, and threatened with his life if he continued to proclaim the name of Christ (cf. Acts 4-5). He was also the first apostle to take the gospel to the Gentiles, with the conversion of Cornelius and his friends and family in Acts 10.
    After Acts 15 where Peter is involved in an apostolic gathering, we know very little of his activities. I agree with George DeHoff concerning Peter in that “As the years went by he was mentioned less frequently in the sacred writing probably because he was away from Jerusalem preaching in distant places.” (DeHoff’s Bible Handbook)
    Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote two epistles later in life. They were written to encourage Christians, especially new converts, to withstand the trials and persecutions that they were about to encounter. Likely this is in reference to Nero’s persecutions. It is believed that Peter’s second epistle would have been written shortly before his death. If that’s the case, then the last words of the second epistle of Peter would have been his final words of encouragement.
    Peter’s last words in chapter 3 of his second epistle are a reminder for all Christians to be diligent to...
...be sanctified (v.14)
...be studying (v.15-16)
...be steadfast (v.17)
Christians, let’s make sure that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and living pure and righteous lives, searching and studying the Scriptures for all they’re worth, and remaining faithful and true to God . It’s Peter’s lasting wish for us.
“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To
Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

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


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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Deliver Me from Temptation

 

By Glen Elliott


    Jesus was tempted (Mt. 4:1-11; Heb.4:15). We struggle with temptation. It is simply part of the human condition. Each of us battle inward desires which can bring sin into our lives (Jas. 1:13-15). Satan is the tempter (Mt. 4:3). We must engage him in spiritual warfare by the strength which God supplies (2 Cor. 10-4-6; Eph. 6:10-13). We better get our minds firmly set on the life and death struggle each of us must face or be lost through our own carelessness or neglect!

    Satan makes temptation attractive. He sugar-coats sin. He wraps it up in a nice, little package. Sin has pleasures associated with it (Heb. 11:25). These pleasures manifest themselves in many ways. Satan knows that all people are not tempted in the same way. So, like a skillful fisherman, he makes each lure appropriate to the person being tempted. Each person is “tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desires” (Jas. 1:14). Sin feels good. But, its consequences are heart-breaking (Rm. 6:23).

    No one is immune to the evil influence of Satan’s temptation. Deliverance is more than a sentence-prayer (Mt. 6:13). We must not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes against us (2 Cor. 2:11). We must keep watch in prayer (Mt. 26:41). We must treasure up God’s word in our hearts as a safeguard against sin (Ps. 119:11). We must trust God completely rather than lean on our own strength (Prov. 3:5). We cooperate in the process of deliverance by making firm resolutions (e.g. Dan. 1:8); by putting ourselves in the company of those who will encourage right choices (Heb. 10:23-25); and, by fleeing before temptation has opportunity to ensnare us in its web (2 Tim. 2:22). Above all, remember that God is faithful and will provide the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).  Deliverance is ours through faith in Christ Jesus (1 Jn. 5:4; Rm. 8:37).


Glen Elliott preaches for the Greenbrier church of Christ in Greenbrier, AR. He may be contacted through the congregation's website - https://www.gbcofc.com/



Honesty, the Only Policy

 

By David Bragg


    A professor at Harvard Business School, who specializes in studying ethical behavior, has completed a research project on honesty. She found herself in hot water when she faced allegations of falsifying results. According to a report from NPR, the instructor was accused in June 2023 of changing data in her honesty study. As investigators dug deeper into her work, they reportedly found a disturbing trend reaching back over ten years of her career.

    Even in a dishonest world, where people expect to lie and be lied to, they react in shocked amazement when someone in a position of authority is caught up in dishonesty. The driving instructor caught driving under the influence. The marriage councilor getting a divorce. The truancy officer skipping work. Sometimes you wonder, who can you really trust?

    Honesty is a basic trait of God (Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2; Titus 1:2). You can trust God. He is ALWAYS truthful. His promises are kept, His word is always found reliable. Christians ought to always be honest, too. Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that wants His people to be honest people (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9; Rev. 21:8). The old saying is true: honesty is the best policy. In fact, it is the only policy that really works. It will keep us true to God and at peace with others. To be holy is to be honest, only then will I be ready for eternity. 


- David Bragg is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/


Abiding in Christ

 

By Jeff Arnette


    The phrase “abiding in Christ” often emerges as a profound yet enigmatic concept, calling us to a deeper understanding of its essence and implications in the life of a believer. The scriptural foundation for this discussion is found in John 15, where Jesus Christ describes Himself as the true vine, with His followers as the branches—a metaphor that encapsulates the life-sustaining relationship between Christ and believers.

    Jesus’ words, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser,” invites us into a divine partnership where God Himself nurtures and prunes us to bear fruit. This imagery speaks to the heart of what it means to abide in Christ: a life intertwined with Jesus, drawing sustenance, strength, and vitality directly from Him. It underscores a dynamic of mutual dependence: just as branches cannot bear fruit by themselves unless they remain part of the vine, so too can we not bear spiritual fruit unless we remain in Christ.

    Going a little deeper, Galatians 2:20 offers a personal testament to the transformative power of abiding in Christ, illustrating how one’s old self is crucified with Christ so that what remains is Christ living within us. This passage illuminates the essence of abiding as not merely a passive state but an active, faith-driven surrender to Christ’s presence and work within us.

    When we add the lessons of Colossians 1:13-18 and 2:6 it enriches our understanding by positioning Christ as supreme and central in our lives. Our transfer from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son marks the beginning of a new existence, rooted, and built up in Him. This transition is not just a one-time event but an ongoing process of growth, symbolizing a life deeply anchored in Christ’s love and sovereignty.

    The concept of abiding in Christ is intricately linked with obedience, as underscored in Ecclesiastes 12:13 and reiterated through the teachings of James. Obedience to the Lord’s commandments and a reverent fear for Him are not just acts of submission but expressions of a life fully immersed in God’s will. Such obedience is the natural outflow of a heart that abides in Christ, manifesting faith through action.

    It’s crucial to clarify that this obedience is not a means to earn salvation but a response to the love and grace we have received. Abiding in Christ reflects a stance of faith and love, a daily commitment to live in surrender and alignment with His will. It signifies a life marked by spiritual fruitfulness, security in God’s promises, and the enjoyment of His blessings.

    In conclusion, abiding in Christ is more than a theological concept; it’s a call to a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus. It demands our whole-hearted response to His love, a willingness to be molded and used by Him, and a dedication to walking in His ways. As we endeavor to abide in Him, let us be encouraged by the promise of a life enriched with spiritual depth, purpose, and joy.


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


A Shadow of Better Things

 

By David R. Ferguson


    The Hebrews writer tells us in Hebrews 10:1-4 [RSV], 1. For since the Law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. 2. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. 3. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. According to the dictionary, a shadow is a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light; a hint or faint, indistinct image or idea; a mere semblance of something else. All these very much describe the Old Testament and the Law of Moses with all its types and prophecies, all of which found their fulfillment in Christ. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, 17. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18. For truly, I say to you, till Heaven and Earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18 [RSV]) As “the Light of the world” (John 8:12 [RSV], Jesus illuminates our minds as no other. Nowhere is this found as aptly as it did in Luke 24 following His glorious resurrection. Appearing to two downtrodden, gloomy disciples on the road to Emmaus who were grieving and sorrowful over the death of their Master, Jesus said to them, 25. “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27. And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27 [RSV]).

    Since Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the Law and the prophets, why would anyone choose to return to the bondage of sin and the requirements of the Law? This was a question which greatly puzzled the Apostle Paul, who wrote to the churches of Galatia, saying, 1. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3. Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3 [RSV]) He went on to tell those who wished to bind circumcision on those who were at liberty in Christ, 3. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole Law. 4. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the Law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:3-4 [RSV]) Why would Paul make such a harsh statement? He answers this question himself in the next two verses: 5. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. 6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:5-6 [RSV])


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


Be All You Can Be.

 

By Clifton Angel

    From 1980 to 2001 (and now brought back in 2023), the popular recruiting slogan has been used to positively encourage that it is only in the United States Army that you can “Be All You Can Be.” While the U.S. Army is pertinent to our nation, it is not the army where one truly can reach his fullest capacity. Rather, the Lord’s Army is the only place where you truly can “Be All You Can Be.”
    First, it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host is perfect (cf. Josh 5:14; Heb 2:10). He’s been through the drills; He’s passed every test. He has experienced every temptation that His soldiers can experience, and yet remained without error through it all. He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).
    Furthermore, it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host has all power. No doubt, captains in the U.S. Army have great authority and ability, but they do not have complete authority and ability. In the Lord’s Army, the Captain has ALL power. He is on record as saying to some of his soldiers, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18). For this reason, Paul wrote, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:10–11).
    Finally, it is pertinent that we understand that it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host offers ultimate protection. The U.S. Army is strong, but protection lacks in comparison to the Lord’s Army. Even with the great strength of the U.S. Army, the faithful soldier can lose and the entire nation can lose. Such is not so in the Lord’s Army. For, He is the Captain of our eternal salvation from sin (Heb 2:10), and He has guaranteed victory for the faithful soldier: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3:21).
    Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for remission of sins grants you an entrance into the Lord’s Army. Are you in His Army? If yes, are you endeavoring to “Be All You Can Be”? “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col 3:17). As we sing, “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery; I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s Army.”

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


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The “All”s of 1 Thessalonians 5:15

By Edd Sterchi


    In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, Paul gives various exhortations and bits of advice for how we are to live the Christian life. Verse 15 in that section states, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” Let’s take a look at the latter part of this verse and use a selected portion of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the main words (the definitions are of the word in bold):

always - “on all occasions”

pursue - “seek to attain”

what - “the things...that”

is good - “beneficial to” “that which is morally right”

both for yourselves - “you personally”

and for all - “everyone” “everywhere”

    So putting the English definitions in for the words, we could paraphrase this verse as: “On all occasions seek to attain the things that are beneficial and morally right for you personally and for everyone, everywhere.” 

    Looking at the above statement, we can easily decipher and infer the “all”s from it and conclude: “Give all effort in doing all good all the time to all people.”

    How much good are we to be doing? ALL! How much of our effort should be used in doing good? ALL! How much of our time should we spend in doing good? ALL! How many people should we do good to? ALL! Get the idea? All means all!



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


Got to Get (and Keep) You Into My Life

By Edd Sterchi

    You may recognize the title (without the parenthesis) as a song recorded by the Beatles and, later, by Earth, Wind, and Fire. But this thought (with the parenthesis statement added by me) depicts perfectly how we can overcome the world.
    In light of this, consider 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” This is reminding us that if we get (and keep) Jesus Christ into our lives, then we will overcome Satan and the ways of the world.
    In the book of 1 John, this whole process is spelled out. Jesus became the sin offering for us (1 John 2:1-2). We get Jesus into our lives through a proper baptism (1 John 5:8). It is then that we are born of God and become His children (1 John 3:1). We keep Jesus in our lives through loving His word (1 John 2:5) and through faithful living (1 John 1:5-7). In fully doing this, we also keep ourselves from loving the world and the world’s ways which are influenced by Satan (1 John 2:15-17).
    In the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (who wrote the original song): “Ooh, then I suddenly see you - Ooh, did I tell you that I need you - Every single day of my life?” Do you truly have Jesus fully in your daily life?


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


Grace and Peace

By Edd Sterchi


    In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, Paul gives various exhortations and bits of advice for how we are to live the Christian life. Verse 15 in that section states, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” Let’s take a look at the latter part of this verse and use a selected portion of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the main words (the definitions are of the word in bold):

always - “on all occasions”

pursue - “seek to attain”

what - “the things...that”

is good - “beneficial to” “that which is morally right”

both for yourselves - “you personally”

and for all - “everyone” “everywhere”

    So putting the English definitions in for the words, we could paraphrase this verse as: “On all occasions seek to attain the things that are beneficial and morally right for you personally and for everyone, everywhere.” 

    Looking at the above statement, we can easily decipher and infer the “all”s from it and conclude: “Give all effort in doing all good all the time to all people.”

    How much good are we to be doing? ALL! How much of our effort should be used in doing good? ALL! How much of our time should we spend in doing good? ALL! How many people should we do good to? ALL! Get the idea? All means all!



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