Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Sign Of The Times

Posted on: June 9th, 2024

     During the last four years, one could not help but notice at least one of the following signs in the windows, on the doors, even in neon:  HELP WANTED, NOW HIRING, ENQUIRE WITHIN.  Of a truth, Covid-19 was the initial cause for the job market, but the signs are still around, if not quite as prevalent. 

     This observation turned my thoughts toward the subject of a Wednesday evening lesson.  As I ruminated upon the content, my teaching background kicked in:  a picture tells a thousand words.  There are quite a few teachers who worship here at our local body of Christ, so I realize they know the power of good, applicable audio-visual aids. 

     Thus, I eagerly went to my area stores seeking those very signs mentioned above to really get my point across.  Ruefully, I found GARAGE SALE, BEWARE OF DOG, FOR RENT, KEEP OUT, even the ubiquitous OPEN-CLOSED flip signs, but not one of the ones I sought. 

     Eventually I went to a signature sign store which specialized in posters, banners, even t-shirts.  But when I made my request, I was told they did not have any!  I asked if this was because the demand was so great only to be told the manufacturers had to close because of the lack of workers! 

     As Christians, we can relate to these times.  Our Savior tells us the fields are ripe for harvesting:  John 4:35—”Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”  Jesus says again in Matt.9:37—”Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’” Mark 4:29 tells us the harvest is at hand.  Saints, it is time we ask ourselves the question posed by the words of an old gospel song:  “Are you sewing the seeds of the Kingdom brother?”   

     When we look around today, we can see not only the aforementioned three signs but even omnipresent the signs of sadness, rage, grief, loneliness, desperation.  These are signs showing in the lives of people we have contact with every day—relatives, fellow employees, salespeople, secretaries, neighbors, old friends.   

     Another one from the hymn book comes to mind: “We’ll work til Jesus comes.”  Therefore, let us put our hands to the plow and never look back.  We can offer these sinful seekers assurance of peace here as well as that peace to come: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life”–Rev. 21:27.  Keep in mind II Pet. 3:4—”The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  All means all.  God is no respecter of persons.  Acts 10:34— “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive  God shows no partiality.” 

     Christianity is a daily walk.  When we put on Christ, we then have a permanent job.  If we are still on the job as we should be when we shuffle off this mortal coil, heaven will be ours: “Because you have kept “my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who     dwell on earth.”—Rev. 2 10.  Jesus is NOW HIRING.  Open your bibles and ENQUIRE WITHIN. 
Larry Purkey

Psalms 96

Posted on: June 2nd, 2024

When a person is in love, that love is normally evident to many people. When someone enjoys what he does, or is enthusiastic over some event or work, that enthusiasm and pleasure is shared with others. When good things happen, it is an almost automatic reflex to share the good with friends, neighbors, family and even strangers.

At the same time, a person in love shares that feeling with the one he, or she, loves. Enjoyment and enthusiasm is put back into whatever caused that feeling. Mark Twain said that the secret to success is to make your hobby your work, and your work your hobby. Why? Because someone who is loved, or something that is enjoyed, is never a burden. Instead, of pulling down, it lifts up.

If individuals will happily share their lives and time with people and things of this life, how much more should this apply to the Lord? The Psalmist began, “Sing to the Lord…” A person in love with God will sing to the Lord. When one considers the incredible gift which has been given through Jesus Christ, the result may literally be an outpouring of song. In many instances in the Bible, people burst forth in song as they saw or considered the love and deeds of the Lord God.

A song to the Lord may also be that quiet, warm intimate song of love that is shared heart to heart – spirit to Spirit. Paul wrote that, at times, a Christian doesn’t know what to say to the Father, and the Holy Spirit becomes the spokesman for that person. In times of distress, it IS hard to put thoughts, emotions and feelings into words. But isn’t that also true when a Christian is so full of love for the Lord that the words can’t be found to express that love? “Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.” Yes, such a song can be a personal song of love for a Savior and Lord.

Singing and declaration of God involves more than just love. It is also to be done, because the Lord God IS worthy of praise. Even today, there are many things that have become gods for people, and they may not be statues. A person’s god may be money, a house, land, a career or anything that becomes more important than God. But, unlike everything else in the world, the Lord God CREATED the universe. All other “gods” are nothing but idols that have no power to do anything. Therefore, it is fitting and proper to sing to Him and declare his glory among the nations.

In verse 10, the Psalmist’s words become a universal truth and fact: “Say among the nations, The Lord reigns.” Today, it is too easy to forget that point. No matter what happens, no matter how bad personal or world events seem to be, THE LORD REIGNS. Period. Trials, problems, persecution, major calamities occur, and people cry out in distress and despair, “Why did this happen?!” Some question or deny the existence, or power of God, however, none of that changes the fact that the Lord reigns!

He is involved in His creation, and all things will be resolved in Him; because He not only reigns, but He will also judge the world. The psalmist wrote, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains; let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.”

The Lord will judge the world with equity, righteousness and truth. Standing before God could be a fearful thing, but through Jesus Christ, that Day does not have to be a day of fear. On the contrary! For each Christian, Jesus Christ has promised that the bad will end, and the good will get even better. No words or imagination can describe the beauty and glory awaiting those who are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that the best of reasons to be in love with the Lord? Isn’t that an excellent reason to raise your voice in song and praise to God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ?
James R. Shelburn

The Universe – How And When

Posted on: May 26th, 2024

Stephen Hawkins, (now deceased) the theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and director of research at the University of Cambridge, and Leonard Mlodinow, physicist and screen writer, in their book “The Grand Design,” explored the questions: “When and how did the universe begin?” “Why are we here?” “Is the apparent grand design of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion-or does science offer another explanation?” Hawkins and Mlodinow come down on the side of science.

In their book “The Grand Design,” they argued that God isn’t necessary to explain the origins of the universe, that the “Big Bang” could be the consequences of physics alone. Of course, neither of these men can explain where matter and energy came from. Without matter and energy there is no physics. Hawkins and Mlodinow have the cart before the horse, so to speak, in that they have the laws of physics existing before there was any matter and energy.

A young skeptic said to an elderly lady: “I once believed in God, but since studying science I am convinced that God is but an empty word.” The lady replied: “Well, I have not studied science, but since you have, maybe you can tell me from whence came this egg.” “Why, of course from the hen” was the reply. “And where did the hen come from?” “Why, the egg.” “And perhaps,” said the lady, “You can tell me which existed first.” “The hen, of course,” rejoined the young man. “You mean that a hen existed without coming from an egg?” “Oh, no,” said the young man, “I should have said that the egg was first.” “Then you mean that an egg existed without having come from a hen?” The young man exclaimed: “You’ve got me all mixed up.” She drove home her point: “Young man, since you cannot explain the existence of even a hen or an egg, without God, you cannot expect me to believe that you can explain the existence of the whole world, without Him.”

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hence, according to Heb. 11: 3, the universe did not evolve out of existing matter, but was made from nothing! The One who created it all is that benevolent Creator. Think on these things.

Four Traits That Make A Difference

Posted on: May 19th, 2024

Whenever a newcomer is making a choice of where to worship in a community, there are many factors to be considered. However, if I am the one making the choice, I am going to be looking at four traits:

Wholeheartedness
I want to worship with a congregation who is serving God with a whole heart. No half-hearted, going-through-the-routine, no-fire-in-the-bones work for me! I want to be with people who are really committed to the Lord. “I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee” (Psalms 138:1). I want doers and not hearers only (James 1:22).

Singlemindedness
I want to know that the people with whom I worship have one place on their mind — going to heaven. Churches of our day focus on everything from politics to recreation to food. This is the social gospel not the gospel of Christ. I want to attend where people have their eyes set on the Bible. I want to hear sermons filled with Bible references and be a part of Bible classes that actually study the scriptures (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Peter 2:2).

Excellence
I want to serve God along with people who have a mind set on excellence. Everything we do “in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17) reflects upon that name in one way or another. We either praise or insult the Lord by the things we do. The Lord deserves our very best efforts. Whether it is singing, praying, teaching, or encouraging we should always think in terms of doing our best for the Lord (Luke 9:62).

Initiative
I suppose there will always be people who have the attitude, “Here am I, send somebody else” (cf. Isaiah 6:8). If I have my choice, I want to be with people who are willing to accept personal responsibility and show initiative (Acts 8:4). There is something good about a person who recognizes a duty and then faithfully goes about discharging rather than wait on someone else.
Inasmuch as we will grow in these areas, we will become an attractive alternative to the social gospel. These are traits that will please God. They will help us grow spiritually and numerically. Let your mind meditate on them!

Kyle Campbell

Thinking Of Beauty

Posted on: May 5th, 2024

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” There is some truth to this as is evidenced by the different tastes people have in art, music, decor, fashion, etc. However, “beauty” as a deeper concept must have a foundation that is more objective and not merely subjective desire. When we say that some things are beautiful and other things are not, we are, knowingly or not, invoking a standard that we believe these things can be measured against. Some things truly are beautiful, and this is not just stating a personal preference. It’s not about giving a scientific explanation or a dictionary definition. We know beauty is real, and we know it when we see it.

Deeper levels of beauty are transcendent across time and culture. Sunrises, sunsets, cloud formations, ocean scenes, great mountains, deep canyons, waterfalls, and other phenomena of nature are generally and universally seen as beautiful. This is one reason believers see the heavens as manifestations of God’s glory, the work of His hands (Psalms 8, 19). There is a power that we see in the truly beautiful that often leaves us speechless and humbled. We don’t need to explain it to justify it as beautiful, for such beauty testifies for itself.

Then there is the beauty that we create. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is described as making coverings of fine linen and purple, for example. Yet the beauty she creates is not just in clothing, for “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). Tabitha was described as one who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity” beyond the garments she made (Acts 9:36-43).

God’s priests were to have holy garments“for glory and for beauty” made by those who were “endowed with the spirit of wisdom” (Exodus 28:2). God defined how they were to be made, which says something about beauty coming from Him. The same was true for the tabernacle and its articles. God used those who were given a spirit of wisdom and craftsmanship. There was a beauty to behold when it was done. The human ability to create beauty is a reflection of the Creator Himself.

Beauty is more than physical appearance. It is a part of the abstract and non-material reality. It is found in wisdom and in actions. Kindness is beautiful. Love is beautiful. Unity is beautiful. Sacrifice is beautiful. Reconciliation is beautiful. Even the ability to think and comprehend is beautiful. The list can go on.

What we choose to think about says something about our own conception of beauty. For humanity, reflecting on God, His thoughts, and His grace and mercy are indeed the most beautiful of thoughts. Don’t let a culture that is degraded by sin determine beauty. Beauty is much greater and deeper than we may even imagine, for it is rooted in the Creator, whose glory and beauty are beyond our ability to express.
“You are beautiful beyond description…”
by Doy Moyer

It Doesn’t Say “Not To”

Posted on: April 28th, 2024

Imagine this: you walk into a fast-food restaurant and order a hamburger, fries, and a coke – the all-American meal! But then, you notice that it seems to take an unusually long time to get your food. Finally, the gal at the counter brings up your order – piles of food on three separate trays! “What’s all of this?” you ask. “Well,” answers the waitress, “it’s one of every item on our menu. Your bill comes to $85.68.” You protest: “I didn’t tell you to bring me all of that food!” “But,” she replies, “you didn’t tell me not to.”

Could this happen? Of course not! We all know that when you specify what you want, you automatically eliminate other options. We operate with this understanding every day. In fact, this logic is so standard, that we don’t even think about it. When you order something from a catalog, call in a pizza, or write a grocery list, you naturally assume that it is understood that you want only what is specified, and nothing else.

What’s the point of all this? Simply that in religious matters we ought to employ the same logic. God has perfectly revealed through His word what He wants us to do in His service. We should naturally assume that since He has told us what He wants, other things ought to be left out!

For instance: What about music in worship? The New Testament specifies singing – there is no mention of instrumental music in New Testament worship. Since God has told us to sing, and nothing else, we ought to do just that. Someone answers, “But it doesn’t say not to play instruments.”
Greg Ewin

Do You Have A Heart

Posted on: April 21st, 2024

Recently I underwent abdominal surgery, and the prep work included two CA Scans, which a dear brother in Christ hearing about, asked, with a broad grin, to be sure and ask my doctor to check to see “if I had a heart?” Well, after my surgery, I thought about his question, and felt obliged to reply. First off, we all know my friend was NOT implying that I did not have a major organ called the heart. He was Not implying that I was careless as to the conditions of others’ pain, hardships, or sorrows, for which the expression “have a heart” is often used. He, of course, was joking, and at that time for me, a good laugh was helpful! But let’s consider this “heart” usage in our Father’s Book. Figures of speech, like body parts, celestial bodies, fish and animals, etc., are widely used in both the Old and New Testaments – Solomon’s heart was not “perfect like his father, David’s”- I Kin. 11:4; and “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”- Mt. 6:21. These are good illustrations of this “heart” word. It is the “seat of our understanding,” our minds, where are located our storage of devotions, belief system, general knowledge, and from which we draw our energies in all sources of our human capacity.

One beautiful example of “heart” comes from an African language translation for our word in English, The Holy Spirit. In English the literal translation is, “one who falls down on the trail beside you.” Now in America for many years, trails have not been the usual
way of travel. In other nations however, “trails” are not just common; they are still the only way to the next village and used for harvesting animals and plants for food and clothing. Hunting for such necessities usually lies with the men of the tribe. They go out in groups for safety, because large animals also hunt for food on those same trails, and those men are on their “Food list!” So, if a man should stumble, or become ill, staying behind alone on the trail would usually mark the end of his life. However, sometimes a fellow tribesman who especially cares for the one that cannot continue, will “fall down on the trail beside him” to give comfort, aid, and as best he can, protection. And there, beloved, is “the heart” of God, The Holy Spirit. He, through our faithful obedience to Their Precious Life Saving Word becomes for us, “The One Who falls down on our trail of life, beside us!” So for today, the real question is not, do we have one; but is our Lord pleased with my “heart,” and yours? And that, beloved, is no joke!
Harland R. Huntoon

The Faith Of Parents

Posted on: April 14th, 2024

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has many lessons for us, and surely among them is that God finds people of faith in places where we wouldn’t look. We see an instance of this in Hebrews 11:23. Here, the writer refers to a familiar story, the story of the birth of Moses. Typically, our children learn that Moses’ parents hid him and eventually put him in the basket in the bulrushes before they turn five.

However, the Hebrews writer adds a spiritual dimension to this account. He notes that the parents of Moses acted as they did out of faith. They spared their son because they saw that he was beautiful and they did not fear the king’s edict.

This is an awfully bold stance for a couple of slaves to take! Typically, slaves fear the edicts of kings greatly, especially when they already know that the king has no love for them or for their people. It doesn’t seem like the beauty of a baby should weigh heavily in the balance against royal wrath.

To understand this, we must start with Genesis 9:5-7. This snippet contains a pair of theological opposites. On the one hand, people were not to shed the blood of other people, and God would require their blood if they did. Instead, they were supposed to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. God wants humans to seek life, not death.

The parents of Moses can’t have known very much about God, but this is one of the few things that they could have known, and it offers the best explanation for their conduct. Their child was beautiful to them, and in part he was beautiful as an expression of the divine will for humankind. They did right in having children, regardless of what the law said.

Similarly, they did not fear the king’s edict because the king was not the highest authority in their lives. His tyranny could and would be checked by God, and ultimately, God’s will would stand, not his. Even slaves don’t have to fear the king if they have God on their side!

In the moment, this is only obvious to the eyes of faith, but it becomes clearer in history. Throughout the Bible and throughout the millennia that have passed since its writing, powerful forces often have arrayed themselves against the righteous. In the end, though, earthly powers are cast down, and the word of God continues along with those who follow it.

Today, parents and prospective parents have many reasons to fear. The days seem to be growing more evil, Opponents of Christianity are getting more vocal and more influential all the time, and overt persecution may be on the horizon. It’s easy to despair of raising godly children or even having children at all.

Nonetheless, we must be fearless. We must do what is necessary to train our children in the ways of the Lord, regardless of what opposition we face. The parents of Moses had no idea that one day their son would bring Pharaoh to his knees, and we have no idea what the future holds either. However, this much is certain: When the people of God trust Him, no power in heaven, on earth, or in hell can overcome them.

M. W. Bassford

Reflection of the Psalms 94

Posted on: April 7th, 2024

In verse three a question is raised before the Lord that has been asked by the righteous for countless ages, “How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?” It is obvious that, in this world, wickedness does frequently triumph. There are times when the Lard’s work, the Lord’s people seem to be overwhelmed by the power of people who oppose the work of the Lord. There are also times when people who are guilty of wrong escape their punishment and flourish again. Those who love the Lord look at what is, and visualize what could have been and cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

People who are completely filled with worldly ways discount the power and ability of God to deal with sin. Such attitudes are to be expected for two reasons. First, if a wicked person accepts the power and authority of God, then that person also knows that God will judge those actions. Acknowledgement of sin is the first important step to salvation. The person who is wicked, and intends to stay that way, will not accept that God exists or is able to do anything about individual actions. This is why Christianity is so often attacked over “other” world religious writings. In just about every other religious system, the believer has some control over what happens. He, or she, can “improve” themselves, can “grow” to new religious levels, can “achieve” the ultimate destination pretty much on their own. Yet, the Bible teaches that, apart from Jesus Christ, there can be no forgiveness for sins. Sin must be resolved. The worldly person will not accept that fact.

The second reason for rejection is the prince of this world, the Devil, blinds those who do not want to see the truth. The Devil is described as the “Prince of this world”. The sad fact about any person caught up in sin or evil is that person is a slave, a mere tool to further Satan’s ends. One who consciously, or unconsciously, serves Satan faces a bleak future in this life and the life to come. There is no sense of loyalty or reward for “faithful” service for the Satan. He will eventually betray, ruin, and destroy all those who serve him. To reject or ignore God will not change that fact nor the fearful destination which awaits those who will not follow the will of the Living God.
Beginning in verse 8, the Psalmist tries to show the power and ability of God to those who to mock Him. “Pay heed, you senseless among the people; and when will you understand, stupid ones?” For the faithful, it is inconceivable that people cannot understand what is happening in their lives. Criminals often operate at night to “hide” their crimes and “escape” punishment. But there IS no hiding from God. The Psalmist wrote, “He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, even He who teaches man knowledge? The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath.” Certainly, the God who gives knowledge to mankind has the knowledge to know who has and has not submitted to Him. To the Living God, the mockery and justification for sinning means nothing, because all power and authority still rests with Him.

In contrast, those who have turned and followed the Lord are assured of refuge, help, peace and strength to face and overcome the enemies of this world. One of the greatest points of reassurance is that nothing can effect the inheritance which is held in Heaven for every Christian. Wealth, power and strength in this world will eventually fail or fade away. But through Jesus Christ, the PROMISE of eternal life is never shaken.

In verses 13-15 the Psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and whom You teach out of Your law; that You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the LORD will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. For judgment will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

Christians do face problems and trials, and Christians do experience anxiety; but the outcome is far different because there IS the power and help of the Lord. Clearly, the Psalmist had shared in such things, because he wrote of his danger in verse 17, and of his deep anxiety in verse 19. Yet in all cases, he overcame through the power of God, and felt great joy.

So, the choice is clear. A person can submit to God, follow the path of righteousness in Jesus Christ and find protection, hope and a home whose beauty surpasses all description. Or, a person can reject the offer of the Lord, be judged in his, or her, sins and be destroyed with Satan.

Let all Christians pray with thankful hearts for the gift freely offered through the sacrifice and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All hope, love and peace rests with Him. Thank you Lord. (Jim Shelburn)

The Gay Response”

Posted on: March 31st, 2024

I recently received an E-mail in response to an article on homosexuality which is on our website. The note sent to me was titled, “The Gay Response.” Even though it seems like boiler-plate, I’ll reprint it here and make a few comments about it.

The Gay Response “For telling us there was something wrong with us, For misreading the living word of God as words of prejudice and fear, For treating
us like sinners, like victims, and like second-class citizens, For placing a burden of guilt where there should be only God’s love and joy, For telling
us we were not allowed to be happy, For all of these mistakes: We forgive you.”

The author of this “response” is seriously wrong in most of his assumptions. The word of God does not contain “words of prejudice and fear.” It does contain solemn warnings for those who violate it’s Sacred precepts—warnings to gays and straights alike.

I do not consider homosexuals to be “victims”—I believe they simply choose to lead a deviant life style. On the other hand, they are sinners—just like some homosexuals and sodomites in Corinth before Paul preached to them. Paul said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). We are grateful to report that these sinners turned from their sins, for Paul said, “such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11).

God’s love can remove the guilt of sin—but only when we repent of our sin. His joy comes to those who have their sins forgiven (Psa. 51:1-12).

I have never tried to deny anyone their happiness. However, true happiness comes from a knowledge that your life is in harmony with the will of God. “Blessed (or happy) is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psa. 1:1-2).

I do not desire the “forgiveness” of this man, for I do not seek to be “forgiven” for telling the truth. Forgiveness of sins can only come from God, based upon genuine repentance and obedience to His will. The man who wrote has no desire do cease the practice of sin.
by David Padfield