Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Things My Momma Said

Posted on: July 25th, 2021

“If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, I’m gonna wear you out!”  Sometimes we don’t think before we go out on some limb. It’s foolish to be where we don’t belong, even if it’s a bit exciting. “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

“If you can’t be happy, you can at least smile while you’re not.”  That may seem like an oxymoron, even patently foolish, but it’s just good advice. Fact is, even when you’re upset or discouraged, a smile can bring a measure of relief, both to yourself and to others. “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance; but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” How about a smile, now?

“You aren’t going out and make your mother ashamed, are you?”  Solomon said, “A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). You can’t do wrong without a poor influence being exerted. It behooves every one of us to consider how the Father feels when we deliberately do things that are wrong.

“If you can’t say something nice, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.”  How often we retaliate with some verbal outburst against someone with whom we disagree, or someone we just plain don’t like. What progress is it? What is gained by it? “The prudence of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). I’ve finally learned that sometimes the best defense is no offense at all.

“You kids get out of this house; and don’t slam the door!”  Rules are part of life; and rules-keeping is what progress is all about. How many times have you heard your Mom or Dad tell you to be in at a certain time (and don’t slam the door!), or how often have you heard last minute instructions that have become almost boring because you’ve heard them so often? Because they are familiar, does that make them any less true? Actually, God’s rules don’t change and we would do well to pay careful attention when He says, “don’t slam the door!” “Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” (Proverbs 19: 20).

“You’re gonna finish your plate before you go out and play.”  How often has a great plan failed for a lack of perseverance. If it’s any good, it’s worth working for. If it’s any good, it’s worth finishing. How many times little difficulties have rescinded our efforts and halted our enthusiasm. “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets” (Proverbs 22:13).

“This hurts me more than it hurts you.”  I never understood that–It was the seat of my pants that were on fire. It didn’t seem to hurt her at all. Not until I saw a tear in her eye a few minutes later did I understand what she meant. Then one day, I was about to spank one of the kids and I caught myself saying, “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” “Spare the rod and spoil the child” (Proverbs 13:24).

“You better shape up or I’m gonna tell your daddy on you.”  There is someone to which we must answer. That’s so even regarding the smallest things. As I’m wont to say, we need to “be wise small.” Actually, Mom didn’t have to tell the Father; he knew already. “The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he over-throweth the words of the transgressor” (Proverbs 22:12).

“Can’t you hear me? Listen, I’m talking to you.”  We so often don’t hear because we don’t want to. We don’t listen because it gets in the way of what we want to do. It’s very foolish to make a habit of not listening–especially to vital things. “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Prov. 15:32)

“You’re not going to wear those socks to church; they’ve got holes in them.”  It is just so that every man must examine himself. If we will, we’ll often see that we have a hole in some of our socks, that we need to be careful what we wear out in public. It’s a serious matter to allow one’s dirty or mis-matched sock to delay his progress, or restrict his coming to the Lord. Oh, to see ourselves as He does. We are too often prone to self-justification, even self-forgiveness. “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9).

“I still love you–even when your pants are dirty and you look like you haven’t washed your face in a week.”  “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” (Proverbs 24:17). True love learns patience. True love looks past imperfections, little warts, a little dirt on the face. That doesn’t mean that a person who loves tolerates sin; it means he tolerates the sinner, having had a little dirt on his face, too. What love God has manifested to us! What love has His Son Jesus shown in embracing us in all our dirtiness?  I love you, Mom. <Dee Bowman>

Reflections of the Psalms – Psalms 78

Posted on: July 18th, 2021

Psalm 78 is a long psalm (72 verses) but it centers around two main themes: teaching the truths and commands of God, and the danger of testing God. The psalmist began with the all-important lesson of teaching the younger generations what God expects. In verses 1-7, the psalmist wrote, “Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments…”

As in the Old Testament scriptures, the New Testament likewise stresses the need to study and know the great truths and principles that are contained in being part of Jesus Christ. Individual Christians MUST GROW in their knowledge and understanding of God and their relationship that they have through the Lord. Knowledge and understanding lead to wisdom, and that is a goal that all children of God must strive to reach.

From personal knowledge and under­standing, there is the added need to teach new Christians. In addition, the next generation must learn about the Lord, and the importance of being in Christ. The future of the church rests with the children that are now alive or will be coming in the future.

The results of not teaching and not growing in knowledge and understanding are almost too tragic to consider. The most immediate result is a weak faith that grows weaker rather than stronger. Tied in with this is a situation where Christians don’t truly know why they accepted Christ and cannot communicate that to other people. With no teaching or learning, Christians cannot use the principles found in the New Testament to grow closer to the Lord; and they are unable to apply the principles to daily problems and trials. A lack of teaching and understanding leads to a lack of obedience in doing the Lords’ will. Such disobedience, based upon willful ignorance, is NOT excused. In-fact, lack of teaching and learning indicate an attitude that is not submissive to the Lord. Finally, Christians that do not know the will of God will result in a drifting church that has lost its way. Christian work based upon sound teaching and application, will result in a strong, vigorous, AND faithful church.

Much of the 78th Psalm described the actions of the Israelites who were not obedient to the Lord, and did not learn from what happened to them. “How often they rebelled against him in the desert and vexed the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power the day he redeemed them from the oppressor.” Without knowledge and understanding, God’s actions are forgotten, and any initial commitment begins to fade and eventually becomes unimportant.

In the history of Israel – especially in the wilderness and during the time of the judges – the people constantly tested the Lord God. In the book of Judges, a tragic cycle was followed. The people knew the Lord and were faithful. The next generation did not “know” him and they turned from the Lord. The result was that an oppressor would come and the people would cry to the Lord for help. The Lord would provide a leader and the people would again be free. They would be faithful until the next generation and it would start all over again. It would not be until the people returned from the captivity that the nation would finally put away the problem of turning to idols and being unfaithful to the Lord in that way.

In the days of the psalmist, and today in the church, faithful men and women MUST grow in their love for the Lord, and in their understanding. But then, that love and knowledge must be SHARED with the next generation. Parents teach children through their words AND actions. Friends, neighbors, and fellow workers are brought to the Lord through the actions and application of Christian principles in day to day living.

The commitment of learning the will of God, and COMMUNICATING that will to others through actions and teaching will bring many more people to the Lord, and a beautiful, spiritual tie will be maintained from one generation of believers to the next. <Jim Shelburn>

Fake News

Posted on: July 11th, 2021

“I am amazed” (Gal. 1:6).  This is the part of the letter where Paul typically gives words of praise or commendation to the churches receiving the epistle.  But what do we find to the churches of Galatia? “I am amazed.”  And what was the source of his amazement? “That you are so quickly deserting Him who called you, by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.”  That was astounding to Paul; he couldn’t believe it.  He marveled (KJV) and was astonished (ESV).  These were people who had heard him preach the gospel of Christ; they believed it and obeyed it.  But they were turning away, not to become unbelievers, but to attach themselves to another form of teaching.

Paul calls what they were turning to “a different gospel.”  Some versions have “another gospel; which is really not another,” which can be confusing. Two Greek words are used.  They were turning to something “of a different kind” (heteros), when there is no other gospel that is “of the same kind” (allos) as they received.

There is ONE GOSPEL.  It is described in different ways: the gospel…“of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:28), “of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), “of your salvation” (Eph. 1:3), “of peace” (Eph. 6:15).  But it is the same, ONE gospel.

If the gospel is good news, a different gospel is fake news.  We need to learn how to spot a fake.

Consider the source.  A different gospel is not the gospel of Christ. Jesus was the central message of all gospel preaching in the book of Acts, so the gospel of Christ is about Him. But it is also the gospel of Christ in that it belongs to Him; this speaks of ownership.  The gospel which Paul preached was “not according to man” (Gal. 1:11).  It was received “through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12). That made him an apostle, “one sent.”  But he was not sent by from men, “but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (1:1).  And so when people were coming to the churches of Galatia, they were distorting the “gospel of Christ” (1:7).  If something has been distorted, it is not the same as the original.

A different gospel is of a different source.  Does this teaching have book, chapter, and verse? Does this interpretation conflict with other passages in the New Testament? Can this be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17), by His authority?  If the answer is no, you’re being turned away by fake news.

Check your biases.  The ones who were distorting the gospel in the churches of Galatia are identified in Acts 15:1,5. “Some men” began teaching the necessity of circumcision for salvation.  Why?  They were leaders, “certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees,” who wanted to keep the traditions of the Old Law and maintain their positions of authority. What was the result of this teaching?  The new Christians were being “disturbed” (15:24).  They were confused and shaken by this new teaching.  It was a gospel contrary to what they had heard and believed.

A different gospel is a gospel of self righteousness.  “You are saved by works.”  Paul says that we are called “by the grace of Christ” (1:6).  If someone is not preaching the gospel of grace, they are not preaching the gospel of Christ!  “You are saved without works.” The other extreme is that it doesn’t matter what we do. A different gospel contradicts the word of God and confuses you.  Check the biases of friends and family who seek to trouble you with a different gospel.

Beware of click-bait.  Some things are not what they appear to be.  Do you think it made Paul popular to pronounce a curse on an angel, an apostle, himself, or any man who preached a different gospel?  Anathema means “devoted to destruction and delivered up to divine wrath.”  Though being accused of self promotion, in reality Paul was a “bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

A different gospel is a gospel without suffering. There is no sacrifice required.  That’s asking too much of you in a life that’s already demanding.  There is no service to be rendered.  Everything else is about you; why shouldn’t religion be?  It is the gospel of convenience and ease.  Just the bare minimum, and only when it’s fitting.  It’s too good to be true.

A different gospel has a different end.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save.  Those who preach a different gospel are accursed, doomed to destruction, without hope.  Don’t fall for a fake. <Bubba Garner>

A Social Primer and God’s Word

Posted on: July 4th, 2021

Merriam-Webster defines a primer as “1: a small book for teaching children to read 2: a small introductory book on a subject 3: a short informative piece of writing.” “Primers were once a standard part of every child’s education. The first primer printed in North America, The New England Primer (ca. 1690), was typical; it contained many quotations from the Bible and many moral lessons, and the text was accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations. We no longer use the word in early education…” Too bad.

It seems we need a primer to wade through the changing terminology of the present evil age. Commonly used words no longer have their accepted meanings. People are afraid to speak, and truth suffers.

Most of all, we need to know and speak God’s truth. We must know and compare the definitions and applications people are giving words and deeds to God’s word. It is the truth in which we must abide (John 8:31-32).

Christians are not “of the world,” but we do live in this world (John 17:16; 1 Cor. 5:9-10). Being “wise as serpents” includes knowing our environment in order to know our enemy (Matt. 10:16; 2 Cor. 2:11). To do that, we must identify error and sin to avoid it (Eph. 5:3-7; Gal. 5:19-21).

The following primer is by no means official or exhaustive. Neither is it a political statement (although people with political agendas often use these terms). We will not shy away from preaching God’s word with its application to politics. We aim for accuracy so fair evaluations can be made. So, here’s my primer of some current terms and what God’s word says about them.

LGBTQ. An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (or Queer). The Bible says such conduct is sin and those who practice such face God’s eternal punishment (Jude 7; 2 Pet. 2:6; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Birth sex. One’s biological gender at birth. Most female mammals (including humans) have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and most males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY). This is God’s order and arrangement for procreation from creation (Gen. 1:27-28). An increasing number of people are challenging this science differentiating between birth gender and gender identity. CNN reported this week (without scientific documentation), “It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth” (Devan Cole, cnn.com).

Assigned sex. The gender a baby is assigned based on physical appearance. (see “birth sex” above). Telling a boy he is a girl does not make it so, and it is a lie (Eph. 4:25).

Gender identity. The gender you think and feel you are. “A person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female” (M-W). The Gender Equality Act now before Congress will allow males who identify as females to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms, etc., as well as compete in women’s sports. This is an afront to God’s creation of male and female (Gen. 1:27; cf. Deut. 22:5).

Gender dysphoria. “A persistent unease with having the physical characteristics of one’s gender, accompanied by strong identification with the opposite gender and a desire to live as or to become a member of the opposite gender” (thefreedictionary.com). Children in elementary and up are being introduced to the possibility of being a different gender than their biological gender. The Bible says children should be taught what is true (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4).

Gender fluidity. Gender can change over time; it is not static. (See “Assigned sex.”)

Racism. The classic meaning of racism is discrimination against a person or persons based on their race. Segregation laws were outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. God abhors racism, and so do Christians (Acts 10:34-35; 17:26; Rom. 13:8, 10).

Being racist used to be an indictment against segregation (which God abhors, Luke 16:25-37). Now, segregation is in vogue as people are being categorized, stigmatized, praised, and criticized based on little more than the color of their skin.

Increasingly, if one does not elevate certain races and deflate other races, then you are called a racist. Everything is seen through the lens of race. But judging others by appearance is unrighteous (John 7:24). Of course, we have historical differences (some good and some evil). But God looks on the heart of every person (1 Sam. 16:7). So must we. Actions come from the heart and the choices we make. Let us treat everyone with love and respect (Lk. 12:27).

Cancel culture. A form of censorship, it withdraws support for people and companies that offend current progressive sensibilities. It stigmatizes and “cancels” people. The Bible says to “reason together.” The cancel culture stifles reasoned discussion (Isa. 1:18; 41:21; Jude 3; 2 Pet. 3:15; Acts 17:2-4, 11). Let’s increase the kindness culture, not the cancel culture (Matt. 7:12).

The gospel of Christ is the solution to all these social ills because sin is at the root of them all (Rom. 1:16). When hearts are converted to Christ, lives are changed, and nations change. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12)

Joe R. Price

Ten Suggestions For a Good Family

Posted on: June 27th, 2021

Few things rival the joy of having a good family. Having a good wife. Having a loving husband. Rearing faithful children. What a pleasure it is!

I was just thinking awhile back about what might be some things necessary for having a good family. Here are ten suggestions.

1. Involve God in your marriage. God ordained the husband and wife relationship. It was intend to be a joyous one, one with mutual love and devotion. Far too many marriages don’t involve God. It seems to me that husbands and wives are too busy with mundane things today. They don’t have any time to be together, much less be together with God. Husbands and wives don’t pray together, they don’t laugh together, they don’t have private talks about good stuff. If you haven’t involved God in your marriage, you’re missing one of the supreme joys of life. (Read Genesis 1:26-28)

2. Involve God in rearing your children. Children need to be taught early on that God is supreme in the home, that He will be considered first in all matters. When that is the case, there will be instructions about honesty, about being kind, about helping others, as well as a host of other things having to do with holiness and piety. Children get close to God when they see that their parents are close to God. When they see no godliness, they are not likely to have much themselves. (Read Ephesians 6:4)

3. Keep good communication. Most of the problems in marriages are in some way connected to poor communication. Husbands don’t keep wives informed or wives don’t let the husbands know what they’re doing and why, and that causes problems. Misunderstandings are nearly always caused by a failure to communicate. Marriages need closeness, communications brings it about. Stay in touch with your spouse. Keep an open line with your children. (Read Proverbs 1:7-9)

4. Do things together. It bothers me that I see homes so fragmented in today’s society. The wife works, and keeps the house, the husband works, but plays golf when he is off. There’s no time for family-togetherness. The children are often so involved in some kind of outside activity that they have little time for family affairs. Nobody has time to sit and just enjoy pleasant family conversation. Being together makes happy homes. After all, you can’t really get to know one another when you spend no time together. (Read Eccl. 9:9)

5. Eat together. I made this a section by itself because it deserves special consideration. Families need to plan a time for at least one meal together each day. Meals shared promote good humor, good conversation, an opportunity to speak of moral and spiritual needs. Eating together is one of the purest forms of fellowship, and one of the best promoters of family happiness. (Read Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

6. Encourage one another. There is great benefit in encouraging one another, no matter the project or endeavor. For instance, a youngster who is naturally rather timid, can be brought out of that timidity–at least somewhat–by a little encouragement. A child who is a bit too extroverted can be helped to control that tendency by some well-placed encouragement. And teaching children to encourage one another, to encourage their parents, cements a marriage and makes it strong. (Read Gal. 6:1-4)

7. Make family worship part of your schedule. We schedule everything else. Why can’t we just put down a time and say, “this if for family worship”? Children get a good start with such activities, teenagers keep spiritual focus from such, and the parents get closer to God when there is a time set aside for spiritual matters. Hold hands when you pray. Hold hands when you sing together. (Read Matthew 5:1-12)

8. Learn the joy of saying, “I love you.” It makes marriages happier. It makes kids feel important. It makes for a better home on every front. It brings the family together. It makes hard times easier to bear. It’s just God’s way of having a good home. A home with lots of love in it is a happy home. (Read I Cor. 13)

9. Find good family friends. As a general rule, people tend to find those who share their convictions and aspirations. Good family friends adorn homes. They bring special admirations, feelings of mutual trust, and extra-family kindness to the home and family. Being together with family friends broadens love and makes the family feel blessed. (Read I Corinthians 12:12-20)

10. Take out the trash. Every family has stuff that doesn’t belong. These things have to be handled. And if they are not handled properly the trash builds up and eventually causes a big stink. Even little pieces of rubbish has to be taken out early or there is problem later when it becomes part of a whole lot of junk that builds up. Fathers should take control to see that evil talk, gossip of various sorts, and other wish-wash don’t get a foothold or become common in the family. Mothers should discourage any kind of dirty language, no matter if it’s acceptable in other places. Trash does not fit a good family. (Read James 3:6-12)

I hope this helps a little. <Dee Bowman>

What Will You Leave Behind?

Posted on: June 20th, 2021

During every funeral, I remind the audience that funeral sermons are for the living, not the dead. Words spoken in the hour of death can encourage the living to remain faithful to the Lord. After the first martyr gave his life for the Lord, Luke tells us that “devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2).

Acts 9:36 tells us of Dorcas, a woman “full of good works and charitable deeds.” While at Joppa, she grew sick and died. The disciples washed her and placed her in an upper room. When Peter entered the room “all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them” (Acts 9:39). This godly woman was remembered what she left behind. Revelation 14:13 says our works will follow us. When you die, what will you leave behind?

“We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7). Why do so many people get all wrapped up with “possessions”? Jesus asked, “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).

What would you gain if you had the whole world? Whatever it is, it will not endure after the Judgment is passed (2 Peter 3:10).

What would you give in exchange for your soul? Whatever it may be, this is one transaction you will eternally regret. Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16)—some Christians will sell out for far less. Some will sell their soul for a few more minutes sleep on Sunday morning, or another hour of TV on Sunday night. Gospel preachers have been known to exchange their hope of eternal glory for the praise of men (2 Tim. 4:3).

When you die, all that your spouse will have left of you are memories and pictures. Don’t wait till your spouse dies to express your love. Flowers at the graveside might make you feel better, but your spouse could only have enjoyed them in life.

Among the many laws in the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 24:5 is one of the most quaint. It says, “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife, whom he has taken.” God intended for the home to be pleasant for both parties.

The Psalmist tells us our “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psa. 127:3). How are you treating your “gift” from God?

You probably purchased life insurance so your spouse can meet the financial needs of your children in the event of your death—this is to be commended. In 1986 Christa McAuliffe died aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Some of her friends had purchased a $1 million life insurance policy for her children. But that money could not dry a single tear from her children’s eyes.

I am saddened by parents who get all wrapped up in material things so they can give their children “the best of everything.” My sons often drag me outside to play baseball (I hate baseball), but, I know they would rather spend 30 minutes with me than have a new bicycle.

What will your friends think when they read your obituary? Will they be surprised to find out you were a Christian? Will the reputation of the Lord’s church be harmed? Your death will affect them, for “none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Rom. 14:7).

David Padfield

Worship

Posted on: June 13th, 2021

Genesis 4 relates man’s first attempt to worship God. Abel, a shepherd, brought an offering of the firstlings of his lock. Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Bible says, “And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (vv. 4-5). Whatever may have been the difference in this case, one thing is clear: God does not accept everything offered Him as worship.

The Concept of Worship
Worship is our acknowledgment of God’s worth. Occasionally, the Bible uses the term of everyday living which respects His will (Romans 12:2). Mostly, worship refers to special acts of devotion intended to express to God our regard for Him. Either way, the underlying principle is reverence for God. Worship may therefore be defined as a reverent attitude which is expressed by a life of service and special acts of devotion.

Common Mistakes
The prophets of the Old Testament had much to say about the ancient Israelites’ worship. While the forms were different back then – offering animal sacrifices, burning incense, tithing, etc. – we can still learn much from their experiences. The prophets identified three common mistakes: (1) People often mixed their own preferences with God’s instructions. Instead of honoring God by doing what He said, they added or substituted what they liked. (2) Even when people were doing exactly what God said, worship at times became a boring ritual. Isaiah called it “lip service,” “traditions learned by rote” (29:13). (3) Daily lives were too often segregated from what people expressed in formal worship. People praised God in songs and prayers but lived in complete disregard for His will. This was perhaps the prophets’ most common complaint (Isaiah 1:10-17; Jeremiah 7:1-11; Amos 4:1-4; 8:4-6; etc.). Surely you understand why God would not accept worship from people who are just going though the motions or who substitute their own will for His. How does that honor Him?

Modern Applications
Jesus taught that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Spirit emphasizes that worship is the product of a spiritual relationship. Worship is a privilege, not a right. It is the privilege of those who are in Christ, who “through Him . . . offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 12:15). Both in the formal sense and the broad sense of daily living, it is the conscious expression of a heart devoted to God. Truth emphasizes worship as God directs. Only that kind truly honors him. Omission of spirit leaves empty formalism. Omission of truth results in honoring self, not God.

The New Testament reveals several avenues of formal worship, either in individual or group settings. The history of the first-century church begins, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Instruction in God’s word clearly has a part in our assemblies. Breaking bread refers to eating the Lord’s Supper, a memorial of Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This is to be eaten on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day also specified for the contribution, a means of Christians joining together to do the work God has assigned us collectively (1 Corinthians 16:1- 2). Prayer is our means of communicating with God, both for praise and requests (1 Timothy 2:1- 6). Singing is another means of praising God, with the added benefit of teaching and admonishing each other (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Whether done individually or collectively, God’s honor, not our pleasure, is the goal of worship. Therefore, His word dictates what is done and how. Is it surprising that the means He has given appeal more to the spirit than the flesh? How it looks, how it sounds, how it feels – these are not the critical factors. Instead, God says, “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). Remember, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). <by Frank Himmel>

Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 77

Posted on: May 30th, 2021

The words that are found in Psalm 77 could have easily been written by a man or woman of the 21st century rather than during the Old Testament period. The theme is familiar. A man is deeply immersed in some kind of problem or suffering and he is looking closely at his faith to find answers for what is happening, and what will help him to deal with his trouble.

In verse 2-4 the Psalmist wrote, “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”

Many people have “walked the floor” with a problem in much the same way as described by the Psalmist. All of the great men of faith in both the Old and New Testament periods had to deal with times of great distress and anguish. In verses 3 through 9, the Psalmist asked some hard questions; and, in a sense, he was reexam­ining the basis for his faith.

Today, as faithful Christians also deal with the problems of life, questions, worry, concern can fill the day. When this happens, some Christians are reluctant to go back and look again at the reasons why they are Christians. Some believe such practices are too much like doubting. But God said to “try” Him – “taste”, or experience being with him, THEN, stand firm.

The Psalmist took account of the reasons for his faith. As a Jew, his thoughts went back to the great events that brought into being the nation of Israel. In verses 10-12 he wrote, “And I said, “This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.”

For any member of the Jewish nation, the mighty deeds of God would center upon the time when the people of Israel were rescued from the bondage in Egypt and taken to the Promised Land. When in doubt, the writer thought back to what the Lord had done then. He also thought back to the promises that the Lord had made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to Moses. After taking an inventory, the Psalmist KNEW that in spite of what happened, the Lord would be faithful to His people.

If the crossing of the Red Sea was a sign to the Jews, then Jesus Christ is the sign of God’s love and faithfulness for the Christian. When life becomes dark with the storm clouds of suffering, trials, and doubt, the Christian should follow the example of the Psalmist. Reexamine the basis of faith. God loved the world enough to sacrifice His son. God has also promised Eternal Life for those that accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. In addition, the Lord promised help in this life for those that love and follow him.

Peter made this very clear in 1 Peter 1:3-9, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

So, when great problems arise that cause worry and distress; each Christian should strengthen himself, or herself, by looking back to the great event that is a sign of God’s love and faithfulness. A Christian can look to the promises the Lord has given to His children. Then the problems will be faced and overcome.

<James Shelburn>

What Are Your Plans For The Future?

Posted on: May 23rd, 2021

As we live our lives from day to day, we generally make plans for what we intend to do tomorrow, next week, next month or later. Whatever the plan may be, we fully intend to carry it out and generally we do so. But sometimes we are forced to change our plans because circumstances arise that were not anticipated.

None of us are able to foresee the future so things such as an accident, illness, death of a loved one or other unforeseen situations may cause an interruption in our plans, so we have to rearrange our plans.

It is because of the uncertainties of life we are warned, “Boast not about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” Prov.27:1. James, the brother of Jesus, writes, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit,’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘if the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that” Jas.4:13-15.

These scriptures are not teaching us not to make plans, but they are teaching us to be careful as we plan. “If the Lord wills” simply means if the Lord permits. He is the one in control and we need to realize that sometimes things happen that we cannot control. We just have to accept what happens and make the necessary adjustments to our lives.

While we understand that many things in life are uncertain; and in most cases plans can be changed to adjust to the unforeseen circumstances there are some things that cannot be changed or avoided. These things have been predetermined by God and they will happen regardless of circumstances.

For example, anyone who lives in this world must first be born, and then one day must die. How long one lives before he dies is not predetermined, but it is certain he will die. Just as certain as life and death is the Day of Judgment Heb.9:27. It cannot be avoided because God has appointed it Acts 17:30-31.

It is also certain that on that Day all who have ever lived and died, prepared or not, will be raised from the grave Jn.5:28-29 to stand before God. At that time each person will give account for how he lived 2.Cor.5:10. Some have the mistaken idea that the Judgment Day will be a day of trial where one will be able to make a defense to plead his cause as to why he lived as he did. This is not so. A person determines his guilt or innocence while he lives. The Day of Judgment is the day when the sentence is announced. At that time, depending on how one lived and made preparation for the Day, one will be rewarded with heaven or condemned to hell.

Have you planned for that day? Are you prepared? Which way will you go? Are you sure? 2.Cor.13:5. <Tommy Thornhill>

I’ll Do It Later

The best time to do something that needs to be done is “now. Saying, “I’ll do it later” is man’s way of evading a duty that needs to be done now. An important thing put off until a future time generally ends up never being done. Delay is an enemy of progress. It keeps programs from being finished, and resolutions being kept.

Even more so, “I’ll do it later” is an enemy of the soul.  The delay concept is one of the devil’s best schemes to keep lost people lost. He may never destroy your belief in the love of God or the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, or belief in His word. He doesn’t even care if you believe you are lost and in danger of hell. All he has to do is persuade you to keep putting off doing what you need to do to be saved until later.

While it is true that hell will be populated by atheists, infidels and agnostics I am persuaded that there will be an even greater number of people in hell simply because they kept saying, “I’ll do it later” until it was too late.

Paul reasoned with Felix about “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now, when I have a convenient time I will call for you!’” Acts 24:25. He was saying, “I’ll do it later,” but as far as the record goes Felix never found a convenient time. Will you?   <Tommy Thornhill>

Does Satan Have Anything We Need?

Posted on: May 16th, 2021

Does Satan have anything we need? Yes! He does. This may be surprising because we have been taught that Satan is evil, wicked, deceptive, and just about everything that is anti-Christ. Whether you want to call them character traits, or critical issues, or whatever; the fact remains that Satan is doing a better job than most Christians. While Christians should be striving diligently to get to heaven, Satan is doing his best to keep souls out of heaven, and frankly doing a bang-up job. In many ways Satan has things that we need, and we can learn some lessons from this. So, what does Satan have that we need?

We know from his exchange with Jesus in Matt;4:1-11; Lk.4:1-13 that he has knowledge of the scriptures. He has such a good knowledge that he is able to manipulate them and put a spin on them to have them mean something not originally intended. He quoted scripture to Jesus. How many scriptures can you quote? I assure you that Satan knows the entire Bible. Do you?

Since Satan spoke with God, there is no doubt that Satan believes in God. James 2:19 speaks of the demons who also believe, and they tremble. While they believe in God, the devil and his angels are doing their best to keep people from believing in God. From the looks of things, they are doing an excellent job.

Satan believes in something he has not experienced yet. He is worried about hell. Hell is a place prepared for Satan and his followers Matt.25:41. Since Satan is deprived of eternal life in heaven with God, he is doing his best to keep everyone out of heaven that he can. He believes in hell, and so should we. Most people behave like hell is just a myth and they are not afraid of it. Most spiritually minded people are motivated by the warnings provided to us in scripture. So, if we do not want to go to hell, we need to learn from the Bible how not to go there.

Satan has learned that God provides for His own. Satan tried to destroy Job, Job1 &2, but God stayed his hand and spared the life of Job. Later, because of his faithfulness and humility, God restored Job’s wealth and provided him with a new family Job 42. We need to learn to trust in God that He will provide us what we need for the salvation of our soul.

Another thing we can say about Satan is that he is always on the job. Does 24/7/365 mean anything to you? Most people give God a minimum of a couple hours a week in His service. Satan is working 168 hours every week trying to keep souls out of heaven. James 4:7 tells us to resist Satan and he will flee from you. However, Satan does not leave and never come back. Satan is hiding around the corner or behind that bush waiting for an opportunity to get you back to his side. Satan knows what buttons to push and what temptations to put before you to keep you on his side.
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Satan also has a zeal for souls. He has proven his effectiveness is capturing many souls. God wants you to be saved. Every soul that Satan captures is a loss for God. God has given you everything you need to be saved 2 Peter 1:3. Why not trust God to do so. Learn these lessons and apply them to your salvation.  – Carey Scott —

PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND TARES

Jesus often taught truths by the use of parables which was using a known truth to illustrate an unknown, but more important truth. Some have defined a parable as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” His parable of the wheat and tares found in Matt.13 is a good example. In vs:24-30 He tells the parable. In vs 36-43 He explains the meaning of the parable.   Please take time to read these verses,

While there are several good lessons to be learned from this parable, I want to briefly mention three points. 1. The world is the field into which the word of God is sown. In the world both good and evil exist together. So, wherever and whenever the word of God is planted in this world evil will be present, because the world is ruled by the evil one, Satan AKA the devil Eph.2:1-3. So when you try to teach someone the word of God you will have to deal with the problem of sin (evil) in the person, for all are sinners Rom.3:23.

2. When teaching people you cannot always know their inward character. All you can see is the outward appearance. In His parable Jesus pointed that wheat and tares are similar in appearance. So don’t prejudge whether a person will receive the word by the way they are dressed or talk or act. How a person appears outwardly may not be what they are inside. Their heart may be ready to hear the word.

3. The parable also teaches that as long as we who are “God’s people” live in this world we have to live together with “the devil’s people.” But we don’t have to live like them. God knows the difference by the harvest that is being borne. On the day of judgment God will send His angels and they will separate the wheat from the tares. The tares will be gathered and cast into the furnace of fire (hell -t.t.) where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” But the righteous will “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.” Are you among the wheat?