By Edd Sterchi
It has been said that you should never fall in love with a tennis player – to them, love means nothing. Love should mean something to us. Love is an important concept to God and it should be to us, as well.
A common phrase we use is “in love” meaning that we are in a state of strong emotional attachment with someone. Well, I believe that Christians should be “in love” with one another. Doing a search of the phrase “in love” in our English Bibles reveals some interesting things concerning Christians’ relationship with each another (note: the following verses are based upon the NKJV).
* “bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). This means that we are patient with one another – that we are always there for them.
* “edifying...in love” (Eph. 4:15). To edify means to “build up.” We should always be endeavoring to uplift and encourage our brethren.
* “walk in love” (Eph. 5:2). What is meant by walking is a way of life.
Our way of life ought to be that of caring for and expressing love for one another.
* “esteem...very highly in love” (1 Thess. 5:13). We should prefer one another and honor one another because we love one another.
If we properly operate “in love” with one another, we can see some benefits, as well.
* “Being knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). We will grow closer together with the special love bond we have in Christ.
* “abound in love to one another” (1 Thess. 3:12). Our love will grow in intensity and be so abundant that it will literally know no bounds.“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
- 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/
Sunday, March 19, 2023
Are You “In Love” With Your Brethren?
A Fishing Story
By Adam Faughn
There is an old sermon illustration that I have heard used a handful of times, but I have never been able to run down where it originated. So, please know that the following is a summary of ow I remember it being told. If you know where it is originally from, I would love to find out because it drives home a powerful concept.
One day, a man decided to fish. He got a simple pole, line, and hook and went to a local creek. He was not successful at first, but he enjoyed the time in nature, so he went again. After a few trips, he caught his first fish. A few trips later, he had caught more.
After a time, the man had gained quite a reputation for knowing how to catch fish, so people came to see him do it. While he did not catch fish every time he went, he was usually successful, plus he loved to talk about fishing. It had become a passion for him. People started wanting to hear him speak about the techniques he used and where the best fishing spots were.
Time passed and the man became truly renowned in the fishing world. He was asked to speak at fishing seminars. He wrote books and articles on fishing. He even offered an online class on the modern techniques of fishing. His knowledge was impeccable, as he stayed up-to-date with the latest innovations in fishing gear, fishing technology, and fishing techniques. He was basically unparalleled in the fishing world for giving people information on fish.
Amazingly, the man created such a furor that an entire fishing university was created, and people filled their minds in courses such as "Angler 101" and "Line-Baiting Symposium." They graduated with degrees in fishology and were now filled with all sorts of information.
But, through it all, there was one thing that was no longer happening. The man who was such an expert on fishing simply did not have the time anymore...to fish. He had not been in years. He had the information and stayed up to date, but he had not put a hook in the water for a long, long time. Thus, he had not even attempted to actually catch a fish in many years.
So, while the world was now full of people who knew the information about fishing, what was missing? People who fished.
ThatBut if all we ever do is talk about it, we are not doing what we are talking about.
Go fishing! Even if you do not "catch" a soul, your loving effort is what God blesses. Who do you need to talk to, even today?
"Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.
“What Would You Give?”
By Bill Brandstatter
Suppose someone were to tell you that if you cut off your little finger, you could have everything you could possibly want or need? If you need a new car, you could have it. If you need a new house, pick one, there is no price limit. Whatever you want in this world could be yours, if you just cut off your right finger. Would you do it? Suppose the offer was extended to include your right arm, your eyes and your ears, would you still do it? Many would say “no” at some point, yet there are many people that are giving up something more valuable for a whole lot less. Jesus poses this question: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJV)
Our soul is the most valuable item we possess. There is no price tag attached to it. It is valuable because it goes on beyond the grave. We cannot take our material possessions with us. (1 Tim. 6:7) We will take our souls with us. So, the value of it is far greater than anything this world has to offer. To lose our soul would be worse than losing our material possessions in a fire, earthquake, or storm.
Our soul is valuable because of its source. Man has given us many things; God has given us our soul. Ezekiel, acting as a spokesman for God stated, “Behold all souls are mine.” (Eze. 18:4) Our material possessions belong to us. Our souls belong to God. Paul adds to this by stating, “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:20) God breathed life into man, and man became a living soul. (Gen. 1:27) Since that time every soul belongs to God.
Our soul is valuable because each of us are of the same value. Material possessions differ with the individual, but each of us has a soul. The value of each soul is the same. The value is not determined by gender, education, or ethnicity. Where we live makes no difference. In Christ, the soul of each person has the same value. (Gal. 3:26-29)
Let us consider how valuable we are to God, not man. Man’s value is based on looks, money, prestige, and class status. God’s value is placed on our soul’s relationship with Him. Let us make sure we have the right relationship with God, and the soul’s value will be clearly seen when Heaven is our home.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
By David A. Sargent
Jim Corley met his friend, Alex, at the dealership where Alex worked.
“Jim, I feel like a hypocrite every time I go to church because I fail to live for Christ so often.”
“Alex, what do you call this part of the dealership?” Jim asked, nodding to the area outside his cubicle.
“You mean the showroom?”
“Yes. And what’s behind the showroom, past the parts counter?”
“The service department,” Alex said confidently.
“What if I told you I didn’t want to bring my car to the service department because it was running rough,” Jim asked.
“That would be crazy! That’s the whole point of service departments — to fix cars that aren’t running right.”
“You’re absolutely right,” Jim replied. “Now, let’s get back to our initial conversation. Instead of thinking of church as a showroom where image is everything, start thinking of it as God’s service department. Helping people get back in running order with God is what the church is all about.” *
We are all in need of repairs, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
But God loves us and wants to “fix us” – from the inside out. The finished product will resemble His glorious Son. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In order to cleanse us and make us whole, God sent His one and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
God will cleanse, make whole, and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
When we rise from the waters of baptism in the new birth, God adds us to the church, His family (Acts 2:41). In God’s family, we find encouragement, correction, forgiveness, and other components of a needed support system to keep us “running” well.
“Bring Christ your broken life
So marred by sin.
He will create anew
Make whole again.”
-- Thomas O. Chisholm
Remember, the church is not a showroom; it’s God’s service department. Come to Christ and into His church so that He can make you whole.
- 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
* Source: Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, Craig Brian Larson as quoted by www.ministry127.com.
A Strait Is Seldom Straight!
By Joe Slater
“Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, KJV).
The expression “strait and narrow” has become proverbial in reference to careful compliance with the rules given by parents or by God. However, most mistakenly understand it as “straight and narrow.” The spelling difference is subtle, but the change in meaning is radical!
A “strait” (without the g-h) is seldom straight. Look at the Strait of Magellan or the Strait of Hormuz on a map. They’re anything but straight! Guiding a ship through those straits takes plenty of zigzagging along a difficult and narrow route! They’re called “straits” because they’re difficult, not because they go from point “a” to point “b” without deviation.
Many other Scriptures teach us not to deviate from God’s word, but “strait” in Matthew 7:14 isn’t making that point. The path to eternal life is narrow and difficult! By contrast, the way to destruction is wide and easy (7:13). Most people find wide and easy to be appealing. Comparatively few put forth the effort to travel the narrow, difficult path.
But wait! Doesn’t the majority rule? That sounds very American! How can the majority of people be wrong? Isn’t it arrogant to say that?
Well, we didn’t say it – Jesus did. A majority of Jesus’ own people (the Jews) rejected Him. Despite the thousands who became Christians in Acts, vastly more rejected the gospel. This is nothing new; God has always operated with a remnant.
Are you on that narrow way? It’s difficult, but the destination makes it more than worth the effort!
- 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
Thursday, March 16, 2023
The Consequences of Sin
By Andrew Beasley
I am sure that most can relate to the feeling in the pit of your stomach that arises when you are driving down the road and maybe you have not checked your speedometer or paid close enough attention to it, at least not until you zip past a police officer and see them pull out behind you a few moments later. There is a sense of unease as you look in your review mirror as you wait for those flashing blue and red lights to turn on. In the same moment you likely find yourself glancing to make sure your speed had dropped to where it always should have been.
Those feelings of anxiousness are likely undergirded by guilt, or potential guilt, at the fact that maybe you did break the law and are going to be facing the consequences of doing so. There is never anything pleasant about being disciplined or punished. In the case of speeding the end result may be a hefty fine depending on how fast one was going, and the annoyance of increased car insurance because of the mark against your record.
If only the world, and in many ways Christians, had the same fear of the consequences of sin. The truth of the matter is that with many crimes committed against human governments, the criminal can get away with their wrong doing if they are careful enough not to get caught. With spiritual crimes there is no escaping the governing authority that is God. There is nothing that escapes the view of a being so great that He is aware of even the number of hairs growing on each one of our heads (Luke 12:7).
As Christians we should always be working to make sure no one is facing the flashing lights of God’s judgment on that great day.
- 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/
The Lamb Of God
By Al Behel
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14)
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). The book of Revelation tells us that the Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive honor and praise (Revelation 5:12). He is worthy because His blood cleanses us and makes us free from sin. He is worthy because He overcomes our enemies. He is worthy because He is “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
As the church of our Lord we await His return as a bride waits for her wedding day. Therefore, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). Sometimes we lose heart. Sometimes we become discouraged and are impatient. But, the wedding is coming. The Lamb will return and He will be victorious over all the enemies. Our battle is not ours, but His. We win because He wins.
Although church bells had not been heard in the freedom-starved nation of Czechoslovakia in 45 years, at noon on November 27, 1989 every church bell in the country began to ring out as the atheistic and tyrannical governments of Eastern urope suddenly disintegrated. A sign placed on the front lawn of a church building in Prague said it all. It read simply, “The Lamb Wins.”
The gentleness and compassion of Jesus is portrayed as a Lamb. But, let us not forget that this same Lamb is Judge of all mankind. He is the ultimate conqueror of all who oppose Him. No enemy can stand before Him. Nations will rise and nations will fall, but the Kingdom of God stands forever. On the final day there will be no doubt. There will be no opposition. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.God is not intimidated by emperors, kings or presidents. He is not the God of one nation, or one political party, or one ethnic group. He stands above the universe, over all, limitless, powerful. He is an awesome God, and He is our Father. And His Son, the Lamb without blemish, is our Redeemer!!