Sunday, February 25, 2024

Unlawful Attitudes

       By Dan C. Bailey
 
    Last week I stopped at a three-way stop at about the same time as two other cars.  I waited for them to go and before I could enter the intersection, two other cars ran the two stop signs.  This was new to me.  On many occasions, people have run a stop sign at this particular intersection, but never, until last week, did two people run through the intersection unlawfully at the same time.  It made me think about our society.  Evidently this type of unlawful activity is becoming popular.  May I suggest some reasons why this is probably the case?
1.     People have a lack of respect for the law and for authority.  Their motto seems to be:  "If I'm not caught then who cares."  Of course such an attitude toward unlawful activity is a violation of the word of God.  Peter said, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well" (I Peter 2:13-14).
2.     People have a lack of respect for their fellowman. Jesus taught, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12). These same rude and inconsiderate people would get upset if someone did the same thing to them. Or even more likely, they might have a wreck in the intersection and possibly hurt someone.
3.     Many people are so selfish that they simply do whatever pleases them. They are the standard and whatever benefits them is best! This is the opposite attitude of a Christian. Paul said, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:3-4).
4.     Many people simply do not fear God. They are not concerned about pleasing Him, and they have no desire to obey His commandments. How sad that people are so selfish, so disrespectful, and so rebellious toward God and toward authority, and toward their fellowman. May we always remember the admonition of Solomon. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
    Let us always respect the law, respect our fellowman, and especially respect and reverence the Almighty God. "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect" (Gen.17:1).

- 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


Your Worst Sin

By Edd Sterchi
 
    In no way would I ever claim to be a prophet, psychic, or prognosticator. But I can tell you what your worst sin is. Now, I know you’re wondering how I know. Has someone told me that they saw you doing it? No. Have I been looking in your windows at night or following you with notebook in hand recording all that you do? Of course not. And yet I still know the very worst sin you have in your life at this very moment.
    Your worst sin is the one you will not repent of. Our worst sins can become our worst enemy in that they will keep us out of heaven (cf. Luke 13:3). John mentions that there is a sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16). This is any sin that one is living in that one is not willing to give up for Christ. By living unrepentantly in known sin, we crucify Christ all over again and, in that state, it is impossible for us to be saved (Heb. 6:6; 10:26-27).
    But God wants us to come to repentance and be saved (2 Pet 3:9). He wants us to be sorrowful over our sins and to truly repent (have a change of heart) concerning them (2 Cor. 7:10). For in repenting and being baptized, all past sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Then, in faithfully walking the Christian life, and continually living a repentant lifestyle, Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse us (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-9).
    Even though washed in the blood of the Lamb and even though having some noble qualities as followers of Christ, the Christians at the church at Ephesus still needed to repent. Jesus sent word to them “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works...” (Rev. 2:5). The message rings true for us today: repent and do the first works.
    Here’s another important thing to note: Your best friend can take care of your worst sin. Jesus is your best friend (cf. Pro. 18:24;John 15:13), and He is the only one who can remove all your sins (Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:9). Take a turn for the better by turning away from sin and turning your life over to Him, and He will turn your worst sin into something that is harmless and unreachable (1 John 3:5; Micah 7:19).
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

- 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/



Priscilla and Aquila and Apollos

By David R. Ferguson
 
    There is a very interesting passage from the Book of Acts I would like to share with you: "Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately." (Acts 18:24-26)
    This passage is a wonderful example of demonstrating proper behavior towards one another on the part of brothers and sisters in Christ. As part of our growing in the fruit of the Spirit, we are commanded to be patient with our fellow Christians, and especially those who are babes in Christ: "I...beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3) What if Priscilla and Aquila had behaved differently when they first encountered Apollos? What if they had immediately criticized him in front of everyone in the synagogue? How do you think Apollos would have felt and reacted if these two individuals, without confronting him first in private, had talked about him behind his back, and called him a "false teacher" and circulated letters among the brethren disparaging his character and motives? Would not great harm have come to the church, the church which Jesus loved so much that He purchased it with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19)? I dare say it would have! Too many times people wish to brand their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with appellations such as "false teacher" or "apostates" when an honest examination of the facts does not warrant these labels being attached. Many times, these individuals may only be mistaken, as was the case with Apollos, or maybe they simply hold a difference of opinion on a matter that falls within the parameters of Christian liberty, as Paul wrote in Romans 14. It’s true that we must "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3), but let’s make certain we are not being contentious for the faith instead. Let’s follow after the example of Priscilla and Aquila, so that we can achieve the same result as they did with Apollos:
"And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." (Acts 18:27-28)
    May the Lord bless you!

- 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


Abide With Me

By Clifton Angel
 
“Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide,
The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!”
    In 1847, Henry F. Lyte's poetic words were published in this beautiful song. Singers of these words plead with God to abide in their presence every day and in every way. What if God wrote a song to us, pleading us to abide with Him? What would He say? He did, essentially, at the test of Psalm 15. David asked, "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" (Psalm 15:1). By God’s divine revelation, David penned these characteristics:
1. One who walks uprightly (2a).
2. One who works righteousness (2b).
3. One who speaks truthfully (2c).
4. One who does not waste the reputation of another behind his back (3a).
5. One who does not do evil to his neighbor (3b).
6. One who has no reason to be ashamed in the presence of a neighbor (3c).
7. One who despises the evil actions of men (4a).
8. One who honors God-fearing men (4b).
9. One who keeps his word, even if it hurts (4c).
10.One who does not exact interest on gifts/loans (5a).
11.One who does not take a bribe against the innocent (5b).
    What a list! In essence, God pleads with us, "Abide with Me," by showing us the type of person who can abide with Him through His Word. Truthfully, none of us are worthy to abide in God's presence; however, His Son Jesus has made it possible for us to change (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 2 Corinthians 7:10), obey (Hebrews 5:8–9; Acts 2:38; 8:36–38; 22:16), be changed (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3–4; Acts 2:47), and abide (Romans 6:4; Galatians 6:9–10; 1 John 1:7). Will you abide with Him?

- 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/


A Clean House

By Ron Thomas
 
The unclean spirit when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places,
seeking rest, and finding none, he saith, I will turn back unto my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more evil than himself; and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26, ASV).
 
    “A clean house needs to be occupied.” Satan says. As he looks over his prospect, he sees there is an opening, so he slithers to a perching place, hides, then slips right in. As the now occupied house looks over the horizon, not aware of a dual occupant, he thinks his life is where it needs to be. Then he hears this constant reminder, And it came to pass, as he said these things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou didst suck. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (11:27-28). As he hears he replies, “I’m not going very far, I just want to see what is around the corner.” As he looks, an interest catches his attention, then he follows it. Before long, he has followed long past the “around the corner.” He has wandered far enough away from his starting point he knows not where he’s at; he recognizes nothing. He flounders here for a while, that “for a while” turns into then a good while. The floundering didn’t seem so bad, but then it turns bad, even worse than bad. What he thought were friendly circumstances he learned had vipers perching behind a fa├žade. He slumps down, then recalls the words of Jesus. And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, he began to say, This generation is an evil generation: it seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For even as Jonah became a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and shall condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here (11:29-32).
    “Am I looking for a sign,” he asks himself. If so, what is the sign I’m looking for? How many signs have I seen that I just moved on past?” Then he remembers earlier when he started out, how he thought his life was solid, straightened out, looking good. But as he thought this, he saw something that moved around the corner and he just had to see what that was, so he followed it. “Why did I look?” he angrily says to himself – then he remembered: the lamp of the body is the eye. No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a cellar, neither under the bushel, but on the stand, that they which enter in may see the light. The lamp of thy body is thine eye: when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Look therefore whether the light that is in thee be not darkness. If therefore thy whole body be full of light, having no part dark, it shall be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light (11:33-36).
    An “innocent” look turns a clean house into a dirty one.

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


Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Wrath of God

By Andrew Beasley


    To this day I can still remember the anxiety and the fear that would overcome me when my mother instructed me to go and “pick a switch.” Being on the end of the wrath of an authority figure because of our wrongdoing is not a pleasant feeling. Yet, at the same time, when people break the law or cause us offense we desire retribution, justice, and vengeance. As Christians, we can be certain that our God will avenge the wrongs we are subjected to by Satan and his forces. The book of Revelation, in part, is a reminder that God will avenge His people.
    However, we should remember what the wrath of God unleashed upon man looks like. One might think of the flood, or the Amalekite people, or perhaps even the people of Nineveh (Nah. 1:2) who were spared for a time by the preaching of Jonah. Paul describes the wrath of God as being terrible (2 Cor. 5:11) and points to it as a reason we persuade others to follow Jesus. Yes, God is an avenger and yes, He will avenge His people. But that does not mean we should hope for this. Instead, we should desire that everyone we meet in our lives avoids our avenging God.


- 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/



Priscilla and Aquila and Apollos

By David R. Ferguson


    There’s a very interesting passage from the Book of Acts I want like to share with you: Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)
    This passage is a wonderful example of demonstrating proper behavior towards one another on the part of brothers and sisters in Christ. As part of our growing in the fruit of the Spirit, we are commanded to be patient with our fellow Christians, and especially those who are babes in Christ: "I...beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
    What if Priscilla and Aquila had behaved differently when they first encountered Apollos? What if they had immediately criticized him in front of everyone in the synagogue? How do you think Apollos would have felt and reacted if these two individuals, without confronting him first in private, had talked about him behind his back, and called him a "false teacher" and circulated letters among the brethren disparaging his character and motives? Wouldn’t great harm have come to the church, the church which Jesus loved so much that He purchased it with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19)? I dare say it would have! Too many times people wish to brand their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with appellations such as "false teacher" or "apostates" when an honest examination of the facts doesn’t warrant these labels being attached. Many times, these individuals may only be mistaken, as was the case with Apollos, or maybe they simply hold a difference of opinion on a matter that falls within the parameters of Christian liberty, as Paul wrote in Romans 14. It’s true that we must "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3), but let’s make certain we aren’t being contentious for the faith instead. Let’s follow after the example of Priscilla and Aquila, so that we can achieve the same result as they did with Apollos: And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:27-28) Thankfully, Priscilla and Aquila demonstrated true agape love for Apollos. The world has been greatly blessed by their love. May the Lord bless you!


- 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 Gospel According to You

By Gerald Cowan

  We write a living gospel,
    Adding to it every day
    By every thing we do
    And every word we say.

  We write it in the eyes of those
    Who see how we treat each other
    And who we think is worthy 
    To be called a sister or a brother.
   
  We write it in the hearts of those 
    Who hear us promise as we pray
    Then close our hands and hearts
    To those who struggle in the way.

  Others estimate our wealth
    By how we act and live.
    They estimate our spirit’s health
    By what to man and God we give.

  Way of the world and way of God
    Is easy to compare. 
    They know the place we give the Lord
    By what our lives declare.

  You write a living gospel, and 
    It may be false or true.
    What does anybody read in
    The gospel according to you?


- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com



Grow Up and Do Better

By Joe Chesser


     How sad it is for Christians to make foolish threats towards other Christians. How wrong it is for worldly minded Christians to bully the church into getting their way: “If I don’t get my way, I’ll never come back to this church!”  How disheartening it is when Christians act like mere men instead of having the Spirit of Christ.
    I suspect that being sad and disheartened, maybe even shocked, were some of the feelings the Apostle Paul must have felt when he heard about what was going on in the church at Corinth.  In the church!  Christians acting like the rest of the world! There was jealousy and quarreling.  There were people arguing and dividing over who their favorite preacher was. He wanted to address them in a spiritual way, but it was all too obvious that they were incapable of comprehending what he would have said.  Babies can’t be fed solid food, and it was shocking that they were still acting like babies (1 Cor. 3:1-4).
    Fast forward 2000 years, and churches are still troubled with Christians who are acting like worldly-minded babies.  It would be shocking to us if it wasn’t so common. If I were a betting man I’d wager a bunch of money that every one of you reading this article knows of a church that’s troubled right now by quarreling, jealousy and/or division over preachers.
    I’m sorry that the church in Corinth was having trouble. However, I am thankful that the Holy Spirit included their story in the Scriptures.  It helps us realize that there will always be churches plagued with problems of spiritual immaturity.  It gives us hope that churches in trouble can find solutions to their problems. But most importantly, the trouble in Corinth teaches us what the major solution is. Actually what is alarming is not that the church in Corinth had problems.  What is most surprising is that the solution is so simple.  You want to stop the fussing and fighting and division in the church?  The way to do is to listen to the Spirit of God instead of the spirit of the world.  Just look at the larger context of 1 Cor. 2 & 3.
    Paul said, beginning in 2:6, that he was speaking a message of wisdom to the spiritually mature, a message God had in mind before time began, revealed by the Spirit.  However, the “rulers of this age,” or worldly-minded people, could not understand it.  They didn’t have the Spirit’s help.  In 2:12 Paul wrote, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”  Living by the spirit of the world is different from living by the Spirit of God. When people, even Christians, listen to the spirit of the world instead of the Spirit of God there will be quarreling and jealousy and division (3:1-4).  When Christians listen to the Spirit of God there will be peace, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).  Threats and bullying come from worldly-minded people.  Dividing over preachers comes from worldly-minded people.  As Paul said in 3:16-17, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys the temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Selfish, worldly-minded thinking will destroy God’s sacred temple, the church, and dishonor God.  No church anywhere in the world is immune to this.  However, Spirit led thinking will bring peace and unity to the church, and glorify God. 
    The trouble in Corinth doesn’t have to be our trouble.  We can grow up and do better.


- 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


Who is Lord?

By Ronald Bartanen


Therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
    Our world seems to be having a problem deciding who is Lord—who has authority over all.  Who infallibly defines what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil? Atheism, in excluding any divine deity, leaves it open to the subjective judgment of man himself, whether that of an individual or that of an elite group representing a particular culture.  Some seem to believe the U.S. Supreme Court has such a privilege.  We have evolved (or, more accurately, devolved) into denying millions of unborn children the right to life, and, by court-authority, redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.  Others look to religious leaders, accepting what is decreed by ecclesiastical authorities as acceptable, with little question as to its legitimacy.  Still others look to none other than themselves.  To such, if it feels good, or if it seems good, it; must be good; and if it deprives them of pleasure, or if it seems bad, it must be bad.  Whichever of the positions is considered, it puts man himself in the position of lordship.
    A true Christian will agree with Paul, who, in Philippians 2:11, declared that “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Jesus gave His apostles the Holy Spirit to guide into “all truth” (John 16:13).  Their words, written in Scripture, are by the authority of Christ, who is Lord.  Courts, popes, church councils and others may seek to deviate from His authority, replacing it with their own opinions, based on their own hearts, but in the end it will be that “Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  God’[s woes will be pronounced upon a people who “call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). 
     Jesus asks, “Why call ye; me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Who is your Lord?

- 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: ron33dor@yahoo.com


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Forsaking All To Possess Everything

By Wes Garland


    I want to ask you a question, “Would you be willing to give up everything so that you could possess everything?” Now I know that you are probably saying, “Well, it depends on what it is.” What if I were to tell you that everything you would have to give up is only the things that you don’t like or care about? You would probably say, “SURE!” What if I were to tell you that everything you would have to give up is the temporal thing to possess something for all eternity? With this, you would probably be a little more skeptical to agree to do it. But what if I were to tell you that everything that you would have to give up are the things that mean something to you and you have close ties? Now you would probably be more like, “NO!” We would say this because these things are things that we believe are important to us or mean more than everything in the world to us. It is here that CHANGE would be required and it makes us uncomfortable. Jesus made a very clear statement in Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” We have to compare the value of the things that we are involved in, intertwined with, and enjoy to the value of having Christ in our lives and life everlasting. Only those who see the value of salvation will be willing to forsake everything they have to to possess everything that is the best of eternity. These are the ones who believe, and I mean absolutely believe, in what the Bible says and the reward that God has for those who are willing to do what He says. I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do we firmly believe in the word of God and the reward that God has promised? If we are not willing to forsake everything, then there is a change that needs to happen in our lives.
    Are we one of the ones who are willing to forsake all to possess everything?


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



What True Fellowship Involves

By Edd Sterchi


    “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a, NKJV)
    Even though written in the negative, I believe we can examine this text and extrapolate many positive aspects of true fellowship which come forth clearly in the words used. So here’s what true fellowship involves:
* Yoked together – True fellowship involves being linked together for the purpose of being productive. Fellowship operates best when people work closely together for a common cause.
* Fellowship – True fellowship involves companionship and comradery (which is the definition of the Greek word translated “fellowship”). Fellowship is formed when people are truly together.
* Communion – True fellowship involves close, personal association with one another. Fellowship is strengthened when personal connections are made.
* Accord (harmony, NAS) – True fellowship involves unity, harmony, and peace. Fellowship grows when people get along.
* Part (share, ESV) – True fellowship involves sharing and partaking together. Fellowship blossoms most beautifully when everyone does their part.
* Agreement – True fellowship involves being one in thought, belief, expression, effort, and outlook. Fellowship moves forward when there is common ground.
    Truly, true fellowship is wonderful. Take a look at the above list again and note all the benefits of true fellowship. Resolve to do your part to be in true and total fellowship with Christ and His church.


- 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/


Face to Face

By David A. Sargent


    Patsy Gregory and Carol-Ann Krause began writing letters to one another in 1955 when they were 12 years old.  At the time of their first letters, Gregory was living in Chorley, England, and Krause lived in Buffalo, New York.
    They continued writing letters to one another, each telling the other about the events of her life.  "We would write about what happened in the day, school, anything that was going on, where we were going, who we went out with," said Gregory.
    The pen pals estimate that they had each written about 400 letters to the other over a span of 68 years.  They have been lifelong friends although they had never seen one another face to face.
    Recently, they finally met in person.
    Gregory’s daughter contacted Krause with an idea: she wanted to surprise her mother with a trip from the U.K. to the United States for her 80th birthday to meet her friend.  Krause loved the idea.
    Gregory’s family planned a 10-day trip for a visit with her friend in the States.  Last month, she made the trip from England to Krause’s home in Conway, South Carolina.  After writing letters to one another for 68 years, these two friends finally met one another face to face.
    When their eyes met, each recognized the other because of the photos they had shared through the years.  During their visit, they talked and talked for hours.
    Gregory said it felt familiar to be around Krause given all they shared over 68 years.  “It was just as though I had seen her last week because we’d known each other for so long,” she recalled. *
    God has written a “letter” to each of us; it is the Bible, God’s Word.  In His Word, we read how God also revealed Himself to us by sending His Son to live among us for a period of time.  “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).
    The Bible is all about God’s plan to save us through the gift of His Son Jesus.  The Bible can be summarized in three parts: Christ is coming (Genesis – Malachi), Christ is here (Matthew – John), and Christ is coming again (Acts – Revelation).
    We may read of the life of Jesus on earth in the Gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  We can “see” who God is by studying Jesus’ life, His teachings, and how He interacted with people during His earthly ministry.  We can also “see” how much God loves us when we read and understand how Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God and become a part of His forever family (John 3:16).  Jesus’ apostles and other Spirit-guided writers of the New Testament tell us more about Jesus and His will for our lives (cf. John 20:30-31).
    The Bible reveals that 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 into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
    And one day, when Jesus comes again, those who have accepted His offer of salvation and are ready for His return, will see Him face to face and live with Him, for eternity.
             “And I shall see Him face to face,
             And tell the story – Saved by grace.”
                          -- Fanny J. Crosby


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

* Information gleaned from “Pen pals, both 80, meet for the first time after writing letters to each other for 68 years” by Brittany Kasko of Fox News, www.foxnews.com.



Nothing Impossible (1)

By Clifton Angel


    Jesus comes down from Mount Hermon (see Matthew 17:14–21; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:37–42). Peter, James, and John are with him. They witnessed the transfigured Christ talking with Moses & Elijah of his coming death (Matthew 17:1–13). It was so magnificent that Peter wanted to worship all three of them, but he was quickly corrected by God the Father. Jesus charged them to tell no man of the occasion until after his resurrection.
    At the base of the mountain, the other nine apostles were surrounded by a multitude and were being questioned by scribes. Mark says, “straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him” (Mark 9:15). Imagine school children on a playground. One large group is surrounding and bullying a smaller group. When the teacher arrives, the bullies immediately turn to the teacher surprised and act as if they are in her good graces. Jesus asked the scribes, “About what are you questioning my disciples?” (Mark 9:16). The scribes remained silent. “There came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water” (Matthew 17:15). Mark tells us the man’s son is possessed by a demon that has caused him to have fits like epileptic seizures, to be convulsed, foam at the mouth, to grind his teeth, and wither all of his energy. “And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him” (Matt 17:16).
    Jesus’ twelve apostles went to the lost of Israel: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matt 10:7–8). Their miracles confirmed that their message was from God. On this occasion, they failed; they were not able to cast out the demon.
    Further investigation reveals there was a malignancy. The cancer, or malignancy, of the scribes, the multitude, the man, and the disciples was: lack of faith. The scribes’ lack of faith is evident in the fact that they were “questioning” or “arguing” with the disciples. The multitude’s lack of faith is seen in the exclamation of Jesus: “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” (Matthew 17:17). The disciples’ lack of faith is bluntly revealed by Jesus when after all was over they privately asked him, “Why could we not cast out this demon?” Jesus responded: “Because of your unbelief” (Matthew 17:20). The epileptic boy’s father’s lack of faith is seen in his words to Jesus, “If you can.” Jesus’ response was, “If you can.” There should be no question about Jesus’ ability; rather, the burden was turned on the father’s ability to believe. This man’s reaction is the most honorable because he recognized his unbelief. “Straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Have we examined our own faith deficiencies and turned to Jesus for help?


- 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/



Nothing Impossible (2)

By Clifton Angel


    “Straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). He recognized his unbelief and desired to grow in faith. Jesus’ disciples had to be told why they could not cast out the demon possessing this man’s son. Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief” (Matthew 17:20). But that was not all that Jesus instructed his disciples on this occasion. He continued, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt 17:20). Therefore, there is “nothing impossible” for the faithful follower of Jesus.
    Why “faith as a grain of mustard seed?” The mustard seed is used proverbially for being among the smallest of seeds that grows into a tree. First, Jesus was rebuking their lack of faith. By saying they need to have “faith as a grain of mustard seed,” Jesus was implying that their faith was even smaller than the mustard seed. Second, Jesus was encouraging a faith that is alive and growing. The mustard seed begins small, but it grows into a large, beautiful, and flourishing tree. For this reason, Jesus used the mustard seed in a parable about the church (Matthew 13:31–32). How is our faith? Is it even as large as a mustard seed? Is it alive and growing? Jesus said, there is “nothing impossible” for His faithful followers.
    Next, did the disciples move mountains? There is no N.T. record in which Jesus and His disciples ever moved a literal mountain. This also was a proverbial phrase used to illustrate the great tasks accomplishable by a living and growing faith. Paul used it in discussing godly love (1 Corinthians 13:2). If needed in confirming God’s revelation, Jesus and His apostles certainly could have miraculously moved an actual mountain. However, the phrase was used figuratively, and its principle carries even into today when men are not given miraculous capabilities. The principle is this: With a living and growing faith, Christians can accomplish even the largest of spiritual responsibilities and tasks. There is “nothing impossible” for the faithful followers of Jesus.
    Jesus was constantly pointing his followers to spiritual things over physical things. Many may be tempted to think there is nothing impossible physically for followers of Jesus. This simply is not true. Even if I have a living and growing faith, it does not mean I will always have physical health, wealth, and well-being. However, I can have spiritual health, wealth, and well-being. Drug addicts can become clean. Murderers can find life. The sexually immoral can repent and refrain. Liars can learn the truth. In the church, the fatherless can have a spiritual family, the homeless can have a spiritual home, the diseased can be made well, spiritually. There is nothing spiritually impossible for what God has called upon Christians to do.


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



Sunday, February 4, 2024

Don’t Fall for It!

By Joe Slater


    Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. So many “friends” on social media keep falling for the same hoaxes that were debunked years ago. “Oh no! Facebook is going to start charging us for having an account!” Um, no, they aren’t. They couldn’t even if they wanted to, because you haven’t given them your credit card number or your bank information. Somebody started the hoax, it went viral, and gullible people keep passing it on. (sigh)
    The same thing happens in spiritual matters. Jesus warned that false christs would arise. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:23-24). His words came true in the first century AD and many were led astray. It still happens today, though less frequently.
    John cautioned us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Just because someone says something with an air of authority doesn’t make it true! Remember the noble Bereans who “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
    It has been accurately stated that a lie, repeated often enough, becomes accepted as truth. Countless falsehoods are routinely treated as true today. For instance:
        “Peter was the first Pope.”
        “The Catholic Church gave us the Bible.”
        “All you need to do to be saved is believe in Jesus.”
        “The denominations are branches on Jesus, the vine.”
        “We’re all going to the same place but taking different roads.”
    Don’t fall for it! Search the Scriptures! Know the truth!


- 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


Finding Wisdom

By Donna Wittlif


“Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man that gets understanding” (Proverbs 4:13).
    Proverbs often depicts wisdom as a gracious woman. God possessed her before creation (Proverbs 8:22). Proverbs 9:1-6 personifies her as one who invites mankind to her feast. She will bring honor, grace, and beauty to the one who loves her and does not forsake her (Proverbs 4:6).
    How do you get wisdom? Is it by learning everything you are taught in school? Is it by listening to documentaries? Do you have to read books and listen to lectures? Should you read how everyone solves problems on Facebook? While all these may teach you some things that will help you in your walk, you will still not have the wisdom you need to help you live a godly life.
    Here are some things to do to get wisdom:
    Ask God for it. He has promised that if we lack wisdom, we should ask Him for it, and we will receive it (James 1:5). Trust God to give you what you need to know when you study His word. Commit to studying the Bible every day. It will enlighten you and help you grow spiritually.
    Watch out for the Tempter. He has a way of making what is evil seem right. Flee from him if your path starts to turn from God’s path. Lean on God for strength and guidance.
    Be mindful of your seeking God’s wisdom. Pause daily to examine your actions to see if you are growing spiritually and showing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control). Let God’s word lead you as you strive to live for Him.


- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Ft. Worth, TX. Donna is a writer of Christian fiction and non-fiction. Her nonfiction books, God's Desires for You: A Biblical Guide to Salvation and Our Stronghold in Prayer: A Women's Class Book and Prayer Journal, are available at Amazon.com: Donna R. Wittlif: books, biography, latest update  Donna lives in Ft. Worth, Texas.


Parental Honor: Care

By Clifton Angel


    “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2–3). Parental honor requires that children comply (Ephesians 6:1), credit (Proverbs 1:8), commend (Proverbs 10:1), and, finally and prominently, care.
    Care. Our former three thoughts certainly are ways in which one can bring honor to his father and mother and are necessary principles to follow. However, it is this final thought which fully reveals the meaning of God’s commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” It has to do with “repaying” our parents for the care they provided us as children. As time progresses and bodies decay, parents may require assistance from their children—financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). Remember, the principle command is now binding also under the law of Christ (cf. Ephesians 6:2–3). Far too many have neglected this binding also under the law of Christ (cf. Ephesians 6:2–3). Far too many have neglected this serious command. “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer” (Proverbs 28:24). In his instruction for the church’s guidelines to providing for widows in need, Paul wrote to Timothy, “But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God ... But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:4, 8). Also, it is written, “There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother” (Proverbs 30:11). One such generation lived during the days of Jesus. Reading Matthew 15:1–9 adds to the numerous ways in which the Pharisees mutilated God’s law given them by Moses. Some of the religious elites made it their tradition that if one designated a financial gift to God (“Corban,” cf. Mark 7:1–13), it would excuse them from having to provide financially for their parents in need. Thereby, in their minds, they did not violate the law of Moses (this is the definition of being self-righteous—self-fabricated righteousness, not according to God’s word, cf. Matthew 5:20). Jesus said to them, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:7–9, ASV).
    Compliance, accreditation, and commendation are pertinent methods of showing honor to godly fathers and mothers; however, it is the care afforded them in their times of need that fulfills God’s command, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” May we honor our parents, and foremost, may we honor our God (cf. Revelation 4:11).


- 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/


Parental Honor: Credit and Commend

By Clifton Angel


    “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2–3). We’ve noted the need for children to honor their parents by complying to their authority: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Now, let us consider two additional ways whereby we may exhibit parental honor.
    Credit. Once we get past our teenage years of thinking we know everything and that our parents know nothing [at least, that is the stereotype—not all teenage children follow the stereotype], and especially as we grow to the point of needing to provide for ourselves, we begin to appreciate more the training, teaching, presence, support, and discipline provided us by our parents. Furthermore, there comes a time when a man must “leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife” (Ephesians 5:29; Matthew 19:5; Genesis 2:24). It is during these times in a child’s life that he can really begin to “give credit where credit is due,” which is actually a Biblical principle (cf. Romans 13:7). Children accrediting their parents for their hard work, knowledge, and wisdom is another way they may bring honor to their father and mother. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). In this context, it is a real temptation to allow parental interference into one’s marriage (e.g. the husband who expects his wife to do things the same way his mother did them, or the wife who complains about her husband’s faults to her mother, et. al.). Such would be false honor toward parents, since it dishonors God and His design for marriage. Great parental honor is accomplished when spouses use their parents’ former training, wisdom, and discipline for true betterment of their own marriage.
    Commend. Continuing with the process of life, maturing offspring can give parental honor with their ways and their words. “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24–25). Righteous living commends righteous parents. Furthermore, words of praise also bring them honor. Of the virtuous woman, it is said, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Proverbs 31:28).
    Complying, in the Lord, with our parents while living under their roof is honorable. Crediting our parents by following their godly training when we are no longer under their roof is honorable. Commending them with our ways and our words as we mature, marry, and multiply our own household is honorable. Lord willing, let us consider how the command demands we also care for our parents.

 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/


Parental Honor: Comply

By Clifton Angel


    God created the family unit. As the Creator, He knows what is best for every family. Every family would do well to heed God’s direction for family life. One such direction is: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
    This charge was first recorded in the decalogue of Moses. “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12). After forty years of wilderness wanderings, Moses rehearsed God’s law to the second generation of redeemed Israelites. “Honor thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
    Despite the hesitancy many have in the religious world, Christians are not bound by the law of Moses, including “The Ten Commandments.” Jesus fulfilled (cf. Matthew 5:17), abolished (cf. Ephesians 2:15), and crucified (cf. Colossians 2:14) the law of Moses. Does this relieve Christians from the charge of parental honor? God forbid. Many principles and commands found in the law of Moses can also be found in the law of Christ. In fact, the apostle Paul, in a series of directed commands, wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2–3). Therefore, Christians also are bound with the charge of parental honor like the Israelites. What is included in keeping the Christian command, “Honor thy father and mother”? We will summarize parental honor with four thoughts: Comply, Credit, Commend, and Care.
    Comply. When Paul penned to the Ephesian church, “Honor thy father and mother,” he preceded the command with these words: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Honoring parents begins in childhood. It begins with submitting to them, listening to them, and learning from them. Inseparable from the charge for children to be obedient to their parents is the charge for parents to rear their children in the Lord: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Such rearing requires training, teaching, presence, support, and discipline, all in the Lord. Honoring parents begins in childhood, and all children would do well to learn to obey their parents, in the Lord. The Proverbs writer vividly reveals the gravity of children being disobedient to parents: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17; cf. “disobedient to parents,” Romans 1:18–32).

- 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/