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Monday, January 15, 2018

Ryland Ward was shot five times during the massacre

Survivor

On November 5, 2017, the little community of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was devastated and the world
was horrified when a gunman shot and killed 26 people and wounded 20 others in the First Baptist
Church of Sutherland Springs.

Yesterday, January 11, 2018, the still-traumatized community had a reason to celebrate: a young
survivor of the tragedy was able to return home.

Five-year-old Ryland Ward was shot five times during the massacre. He was found beneath his
stepmom, Joann Ward, who died protecting him.

"I was just checking for survivors, and I felt a little tug on my pant leg," said Rusty Duncan, a
firefighter with the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department, who was one of the first rescuers inside
the church building after the shooting. "I had no idea what it was. I looked down and a little hand
was coming from under somebody." It was Ryland. Duncan carried Ryland's limp body outside and
began treating his wounds before he was lifted into an ambulance and rushed to San Antonio's
University Hospital.

Ryland would undergo multiple surgeries and procedures over the next two months. Duncan visited him
frequently. He promised Ryland that when he got better, he would take him back home in a fire
truck. Yesterday, that promise became a reality. Ryland waved from the front seat of the fire
truck to a crowd of cheering spectators. At the wheel was Duncan, his rescuer and friend.
Following them was a convoy of other vehicles that topped 100 in number, including fire trucks and
other emergency vehicles from Wilson and Bexar County.

"He's one happy little boy right now. He got to ride in a fire truck and talk on the radio and he
was a captain for the day," Edwin Baker, chief of the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department and Wilson
County's fire marshal, said afterward. "He was a little bit overwhelmed by the enormity of it, but
he's very ecstatic to be home," Baker said. *

Because you and I are "wounded" and dying because of our own sins (Romans 6:23), our loving God sent
His Son to rescue us (John 3:16). Jesus gave His life for us in order to save us, for His blood
paid the price for our redemption from sin (Ephesians 1:7). "The Lord Jesus Christ . gave Himself
for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age" - and from our sins - "according to the will of
our God and Father" (Galatians 1:3-4 NIV). He died for us so that we might live eternally.

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans
10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of 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).

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second
time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:28). And
He will take us home to heaven. No, it may not be in a red fire truck, but it will be a glorious
entry into the heavenly kingdom - all because Jesus gave His life to rescue us from sin.

Won't YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Firefighter who saved boy's life drove him home to Sutherland Springs"
by Silvia Foster-Frau and Zeke MacCormack in www.mysanantonio.com.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Do Not Make God in Your Own Image

 

God made us humans to seek Him and find Him:

 

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:16-31

 

That means He made us to seek Him – the true, living God – and not to invent our own god.

 

John’s first letter is a remarkable piece of inspired writing, telling us who the true God is, what He requires of His people, and vitally telling us that we know this true God only through Jesus Christ.

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4

 

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:2

 

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:20-21

 

The life and light of God were evident in the person of Jesus Christ. God in the flesh was seen, heard and touched.

To see Jesus was to see God. John 1:1-4,14; 5:17-24; 10:27-33; 14:9; 20:26-28

 

To listen to Jesus was to listen to God. John 12:44-50

 

Notice that the love of God is evidenced in His people keeping His commandments – whatever they may be. God’s love encourages people to obey Him! “God is not only the God of Grace, He is also the God of expectations.” Samuel Mills. This author went on to mention 38 commandments of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus, in his last words on earth, said that His disciples are to be taught to observe all His commandments. Matthew 28:18-20.

 

Just as loving parents give their children rules to obey, so a loving God gives His children commandments to be kept for their own good. But a lot of people don’t want a God who commands obedience.

 

Because it is all too easy to create a picture of God in accordance with our own desires, John ends his first epistle with the words, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

 

An idol is a personally-created and worshipped god – whether made of stone or made in the imagination.

 

Be careful to believe the God of the Bible and only the God you read about in the Bible – and not a god of your own creation because of what you want God to be.

 

“We are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

 

David Carr

 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I wanted a special toy for Christmas

Will You Get What You Want?

Read the following piece by Keith Wishum and see if it causes you to recall that toy that you once really wanted for Christmas.  Do Wishum’s conclusions match your own?

I got what I wanted for Christmas!

More years ago than I care to calculate, way back when I was 8 or so, back in the B.C. era (before computers), I wanted a special toy for Christmas.  Wanted is too weak.  I craved.  I coveted.  I had to have a Johnny 7 gun.

The 7 was the ultimate imaginary killing machine.  It fired seven different ways - single shot, machine gun, rocket launcher, grenade thrower, and others I have long forgotten.  Not only did the 7 make awesome noises, it came with projectiles that it really fired.  What more could a boy want?

Long before Christmas, I hinted.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I despaired.  Knowing that my parents were highly practical people, I had little hope of ever holding a 7 in my hands.  A bike, you could ride to school.  But what real use is an expensive plastic assault weapon?

Yet, on Christmas morning, I got what I wanted!  A real toy Johnny 7, right there in my living room!  Just what I wanted!

It was what I wanted, but only for a little while.  The Johnny 7 soon bombed.  Sure, it made great noises, but the white bullets were soon lost in the shrubbery.  The grenades landed on the roof.  The machine gun attachment broke, and the gun was too big and bulky to carry easily.  Within days, I had reverted to using sticks for guns.  The 7 was shot.

I learned from the 7 experience.  I discovered that toys of this world are really not worth very much.  They are feeble and fleeting.  I also discovered that, without doubt, I was loved.  Nothing else could explain why the hard-labor children of sharecroppers would spend scarce cash on a silly toy they knew I would soon discard.

If we approach Christmas (or any other time) hoping for happiness in a new toy, we will be disappointed.  But we may be delighted if we look for and, more importantly, give love.  It is not what lies under the tree that brings joy.  It is what lies in the hearts closest to you… and in your own.

Wishum is right, isn’t he?  What matters most is to love and be loved.  And, the greatest Gift of love is that “God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  He died for us so that we might live, eternally.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God will save from sin 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; 22:16).  God will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

This Christmas, my prayer is that we will all recognize that the greatest Gift is the gift of God’s love through Christ AND that each of us will respond to that love by giving our lives to Jesus.

Won’t YOU?

-- David A. Sargent

* From “Get What You Want for Christmas” by Keith Wishum in A Word from Williams Road (12/19/17), a publication of the Williams Road Church of Christ in Americus, GA.

David A. Sargent, Minister

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister

Close the Gate

 

If the Lord tarries, we are about to close out this year and begin another.  Are you relieved to get through this past year?  Are you looking forward to another year?  Or, are you experiencing some apprehension as you face the New Year?

 

Dr. Harold J. Sala suggests that “generally, the reason we fear the future is that we have not made peace with the past.  Failures haunt us and we wonder if the future may be but a rerun of yesterday.”  Then in his article entitled “The Year’s End,” he shares this insightful story:

 

“Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, was playing golf with a friend on one occasion when they went through a fence.  His partner pushed the gate closed but did not bother to latch it; yet George, seeing the failure, went back and secured the gate.  Then George told of an old doctor friend who lay dying.  After calling his family and friends to his bedside, he gave these parting words, "Close every gate through which you have passed."  Lloyd George went on to say that he owed more to that bit of wisdom than to anything else he had ever heard.” *

 

“Close every gate.”  That is a bit of good counsel.  We certainly need to “close the gate” on yesterday’s failures.  How do we do that?

 

It will require two things: God’s forgiveness and our acceptance of it.

 

Even though we have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), God loves us and has provided the Means for our salvation.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross to pay the price for our redemption from sin.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

 

God has made the provision for our salvation from sin through the death of His Son.  In order to enjoy the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life, we must accept His offer on His terms.

 

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of 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).

 

Do you want to face the New Year (and the rest of your days, however many that will be) with confidence and assurance?  Then “close the gate” on yesterday’s failures by accepting God’s forgiveness on His terms.  Then, seek to walk in the light of God’s Word knowing that God keeps His promises and that a glorious future awaits the faithful child of God.

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* From “The Year’s End” by Dr. Harold J. Sala in www.guidelines.org

How do we Explain the Wisdom of the Magi from the East?

Pagan Worship

1 Corinthians 10:20

… what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

 

Wisdom Choices

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

 

Magi Worship

Matthew 1:18-2:12

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

The contrast between the Gentile magi and the Idumean King Herod is striking: The Gentile wise men come – not as pagans offering their sacrifices to demons - but in sincerity to truly worship the God-King, while the opportunist Herod blatantly lies as he prepares a trap for Jesus.

 

Claiming a heritage among the Jews from as early as the Babylonian captivity provides credibility for a pro-Roman and Hellenized Herod as a King over the Jews, for they were highly contemptuous of him … Josephus explains that Antipater's family converted to Judaism during the forced conversions by the Sadducee-influenced Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus. Hyrcanus threatened that any Idumaean who wished to maintain their land would need to be circumcised and enter into the traditions of the Jews. Josephus acknowledges Herod as being "by birth a Jew" and Antipater as being "of the same people" with the Jews. Nevertheless, this influential family came to be resented by many Jews for their Edomite ancestry, a fact used by the Hasmoneans and their supporters against them. As such, in a polemic against Herod to discredit him in the eyes of the Romans as unfit to become king of the Jews, Antigonus the Hasmonean is quoted by Josephus as referring to Herod as "no more than a private man, and an

Idumean, i.e. a half Jew". Antipater the Idumaean, Wikipedia

 

Let's go back and think about Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus and the person of Jesus, and think

about who this Jesus is that the magi from the East have come to worship:

 

•      Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the Son of God.

 

•      He will save His people from their sins; hence, His name is Jesus, which means God saves.

 

•      He will be called Immanuel, which means God with us.

 

•      He is born king of the Jews.

 

•     He is born in Bethlehem of Judea, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 5:2. (There was another Bethlehem in Galilee to the north.)

 

•      "A ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."

 

The chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem knew of the Mican prophecy that the ruler would come forth in Bethlehem, but unlike the Gentile magi from the East, they were not seeking the Messiah in Bethlehem. It appears that the magi were not aware of Micah 5:2, for they came to Jerusalem enquiring where the king of the Jews was to be born.

 

Isn't it amazing? Unknown Gentiles, from somewhere East of Palestine, are the first to acknowledge both the royalty and the deity of Jesus by visiting Him to worship Him!

 

Amazing Divine Prophecies

God had said some amazingly relevant things through the psalmist and prophet Isaiah before Jesus was born:

 

may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts … may gold of Sheba be given to him. Psalm 72:10,15

 

Isaiah 2:2-3

It shall come to pass in the latter days  that the mountain of the house of the Lord

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

    and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,

3  and many peoples shall come, and say:

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

 

Isaiah 45:14-15

Thus says the Lord:

"The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,

    and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours;

    they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.

They will plead with you, saying: 'Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.'"

15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

 

The Sabaean people were South Arabian people. Each of these had regional kingdoms in ancient Yemen, with the Minaeans in the north in Wādī al-Jawf, the Sabeans on the south western tip, stretching from the highlands to the sea, the Qatabānians to the east of them and the aramites east of them.

The Sabaeans, like the other Yemenite kingdoms of the same period, were involved in the extremely lucrative spice trade, especially frankincense and myrrh. From "Sabaeans," Wikipedia.

 

Could the magi have been Sabaeans? Notice Psalm 72:10,15 and Isaiah 60:6.

 

Isaiah 49:22-23

Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples;

and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.

With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet.

Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."

 

Isaiah 60:1-16

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult,

because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;

they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.

8 Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?

9 For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first,

to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God,

    and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful.

10 Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you;

for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favour I have had mercy on you.

11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut,

that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.

12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish;

    those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine,

to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

14 The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet;

they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through,

I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.

16 You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings;

and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

 

Sheba is also known as Saba. It is where the Sabaeans (discussed earlier) came from. The Queen of Sheba had heard of the wisdom of King Solomon, and came to pay homage. 1 Kings 10:1-13. In Isaiah 60:6 above, those from Sheba shall bring gold and frankincense, and the praises of the Lord. The magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh.

 

The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you. 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:11-13

 

Possibilities

Is it possible that Solomon told the Queen of Sheba of the Davidic Covenant to be fulfilled in a King on the throne of David forever? Is it then possible that this promise would become treasured knowledge by the Sabaeans when the Queen returned to Sheba? This would have been passed on from generation to generation. Sabaean magi may thus have known of a coming Judean King and, with God helping them to get the timing right, they come to worship Him!!! Yes, one nation in the East may well have passed this wisdom on to other nations.

 

·     Could Daniel also have encouraged non-Jewish wise men in Babylon to study the prophets, including his own predictions concerning Christ's kingdom, which later, observant wise men would realise comes when Rome ruled the world? Daniel 2:27-49; 9:24-27

 

·     Could the magi from the East have been aware of these prophecies, with God guiding them in the precise timing?

 

·     One of the ways Israel was to be a light to the nations, Isaiah 49:6, would be through the Scriptures, such as the prophets as seen above.

 

·     Out of the mouth of wise men from the East I have prepared praise for Thee!!

Of course, we ask, if this is what happened, why didn't Matthew tell us? Well, does every fact have to be proven?

"Love believes all things"! My thoughts are speculative, but is it not also possible that God has left it all like this to get us to dig deeper to find something that is consistent with the totality of His revelation and love for all nations

 

David Hunter

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works--Titus 2:14

Thought for the Week

 

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works--Titus 2:14

 

In his letter to Titus, Paul tells us that the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men and that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts as we live our lives soberly, righteously and godly, all the while looking for that great day when the Lord will appear again (vs 11-13). Then in verse 14 Paul says that Christ has redeemed us and purified us, making us a peculiar people zealous of good works. It should thrill our souls just to know that we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Now, being redeemed by him, we do become a peculiar people, namely one who belongs to him and as such there are certain duties incumbent upon us if we are to be pleasing to the Lord (vs 10, 12). One of our foremost duties is to be zealous of good works (vs. 14). What in the world does this mean to you?

 

Zealous means being intensely earnest; actively enthusiastic; intense ardor in the pursuit of some end. Does this describe your spiritual life? Being zealous involves being a pursuer of good works, being eager to do right and being enthusiastic about doing those things that will be pleasing to our Lord (Matt. 5:16; Matt. 6:33; Matt. 25; 1 Cor. 15:58; Acts 5:29; Rom. 12:1-21; Eph. 4:21-32; Eph. 6:10-18; Phil. 4:8)

 

If we are truly zealous of good works, then ours will be a commitment to the Lord in which our love, hope and loyalty to the him will become greater each day we live on planet earth. This will require of us daily prayer ((1 Thess.5:17; Phil. 4:6; Heb. 4:160. It will require Bible study (John 5:39; 2  Tim. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:2-5). It will also involve daily cross bearing (Matt. 16:24; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Bottom line is that it will require that we be an example of the believer as we fight the good fight of faith in order to lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Tim. 6:12).

 

If we are zealous of good works as commanded, it will make the church attractive to others and it will do wonders for ourselves.

 

Charles Hicks

 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Don and Julie Myers

From the Ashes

 

One week ago, Brett Petrillo shared some stats from an article on CNN regarding the devastation of the fires that have been raging in California: “California's forests have been severely devastated by the forest fires lately.  In a week's time, they have scorched nearly 160,000 acres and displaced 190,000 people.  As we speak, 5,700 firefighters are diligently working to contain the damage.  Unfortunately, dry air and strong winds are making this especially difficult.”

 

But, as Petrillo also observed, a tender story has arisen out of the ashes: “Don and Julie Myers are one of the many families who have lost their home to the fires.  After the fire passed, it left little but ash and rubble behind.  The Myers returned home to see what could be salvaged.  Incredibly, as they sifted through the ash, a glimmering object stood out.  It was his wife's long-lost original wedding ring!  Seizing the moment, Don brought the ring over to his wife, dropped to one knee and proposed to her all over again (from yahoo.com).”

 

“It's easy to let difficulty bring us down,” writes Petrillo.  “It takes someone truly special to look past the ashes and see what's valuable and important.  For the Myers, their house was lost but their marriage wasn't.  They still had each other.  They still had a home no matter where their next house will be.”

 

Life has its hardships.  Jesus said, “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).  “It's hard to know what the future holds for us,” says Petrillo.  “Disease.  Cancer.  Financial difficulty.  Loss of a job.  Marriage problems.  Family problems.  Death.”  But here is his challenge: “When the fires of tribulation set our world ablaze, let's try to keep in mind what's truly important.”

 

So what is truly important?

 

•           It’s people, not possessions, that have the greatest value in our lives (see Matthew 22:37-39).

•           In the world, we will have tribulation, but in Jesus we can have peace, because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

•           For Christians, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

•           For the child of God, “we know that if our earthly house, this tent [our physical body], is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,

        eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

 

Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we might have the wonderful treasures of salvation and eternal life.  God will grant these eternal, spiritual treasures 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).

 

Even in the ashes – and one day that’s all this world will be (2 Peter 3:10) – there are treasures still.  These treasures are found in Christ.

 

Won’t YOU trust and obey Jesus so that you can enjoy the greater, spiritual, and eternal blessings that God desires for you?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* From Brett Petrillo, “Treasure in the Ashes,” in Daily Bread (12/8/17), an e-mail ministry of the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, CO.

 

David A. Sargent

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

I.  CHRISTIAN LIVING TOWARDS CHRISTIANS AND NEIGHBORS.

A.  Basic morality and Christian living.

1.  Col 3:5-9 - We must put off the old man with his deeds.

a. We must ‘mortify’ (kill) these ‘members, which are upon the earth.’

b. These things bring about Gods wrath.

c. We once walked and lived in these things.

2.  Col 3:10-14 - We must put on the new man.

a. The new man is after the image of the Lord.

b. These are all parts of the love of God, the divine nature.

B.  How to treat others.

1.  Matt 7:12 - The “Golden Rule”: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

2.  James 1:19 - Be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

3.  Php 2:1-8 - Put on the mind of Christ.

a.   Humility of mind: let each esteem others better than themselves.

b.   Look not on your own things, but on the things of others.

c.   Christ humbled himself, served others, and was obedient to God to the point of dying on the cross.

4.  Pr 15:1 - A soft answer turns away anger.

5.  James 3:2-12; Eph. 4:29 - Bridle the tongue, and speak only good things.

 

II.  CHRISTIAN LIVING ON THE JOB.

A.  Col. 3:22-24 - Obey in all things your earthly masters.

1.   This should not be done with eyeservice; God sees us all the time.

2.   We should work heartily to serve the Lord, not men, and the Lord will give an eternal reward for this.

B.  1 Tim 6:1 - Not obeying our bosses can cause the name of God and his doctrine to be blasphemed.

C.  1 Pet 2:18-21 - This must be done even towards “froward masters,” as this is following the steps of Christ.

 

III.  CHRISTIAN LIVING IN THE HOME.

A.  Wives.

1.  Col 3:18 - Obey your husbands as it is fit in the Lord.

2.  Eph. 5:22-24 - What is “fit” is for wives to be subject to their husbands “in every thing” as the church is to Christ (the only exception would be if he commanded her to disobey God, Acts 5:29).

a.   The husband’s authority is in matters of judgment.

b.   Submitting only when you agree with him or think he knows what he’s talking about is not submission.

3.  1 Cor 11:5 - A woman merely having short hair is a dishonor to her husband.  How serious then are words and deeds towards him?

4.  Prov. 12:4 - “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

B.  Husbands.

1.   Col 3:19 - Love your wives and be not bitter against them.  (It will take them time to grow in submitting.)

2.   Eph 5:25-28 - Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it and love their wives as their own bodies.

a.   Putting yourself, your work, or anything else ahead of her is not consistent with this.

b.   The goal is to help the wife to grow to be holy and without blemish (spiritually).


c.   This love requires time, attention and a sincere concern for her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

3.   Jas 3:17 - The wisdom that is from above is gentle, peaceable, and easy to be entreated.

4.   Gen 21:12 - God told Abraham to listen to his wife.  Changing your mind is not a sign of weakness.

C.  Parents and children.

1.  Children.

a.   Col 3:20 - “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

b.   Eph. 6:1- Obeying parents lasts for a few years; honoring them lasts a lifetime (1 Tim 5:4,8,16).

2.  Fathers - Train your children; don’t discourage them.

a.   Col 3:21 - “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

b.   Eph. 6:4 - “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

1)  God puts the responsibility on the fathers for how the children are raised.

2)  Fathers need to be involved in the rearing of their children.

a.   Prov. 22:6 - Providing for them physically is important, but the main job is to train them.

3.  Mothers.

a.  Proverbs 22:6 applies to mothers too.

b.  Titus 2:4-5 - Love your children, be keepers at home.

1)  Mothers have to learn to have Gods love towards their children: this means train them right.

2)  “Keepers at home” literally means, “house guard”; not just guarding their bodies, but most importantly, their souls (Study Proverbs 31:10-31 in depth).

c.  1 Tim. 5:14 - Mothers are to literally be the “house despots.”

1)  Prov. 6:20 - There should be one law (one set of rules) in the house, which flows from the father, through the mother, and to the children.

2)  This requires much advance planning, discussion and praying by husbands and wives.

3)  The mother is the enforcer of the family laws while the head of the house is away.

d.  Prov. 29:15 - Mothers who leave their children to themselves will be brought to shame.

4.  Marriages.

a.   2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:2 - One of the most important decisions a person will ever make is who they marry.  Christians should always and only marry faithful Christians.

b.   Both parents and children most do their part to ensure that this is what happens.

c.   Some sobering statistics, based on a study of two churches of Christ in America.

d.   The Church of Christ, B Street, Miami, Oklahoma (1957-1977).

                                     i.    In these years, only 45% of the marriages (64 out of 143) were Christian to Christian.

                                   ii.    Is it any wonder why the church has been growing so weak during these years?

                                  iii.    When Christians married non-Christians, 79% of Christians left the faith, and 32% divorced.

                                  iv.    When Christians married Christians, 92% remained faithful, and only 3% divorced.

e.   Bridges Street Church of Christ, Wynne, Arkansas (1962-1981).

                                     i.    In these years, only 27% of the marriages (28 out of 104) were between Christians.

                                   ii.    When Christians married non-Christians, 80% of Christians left the faith, and 30% divorced.

                                  iii.    When Christians married Christians, 86% remained faithful, and 14% divorced.

f.    Overall, 63% of marriages in the two congregations were Christian to non-Christian; of these, 76% of Christians became unfaithful, and 31% divorced.  In Christian-to-Christian marriages, 90% remained faithful, and only 6.5% divorced.

b.   Statistics aren’t the reason we should do anything, but they certainly demonstrate Gods wisdom.

 

CONCLUSION:

--John Macon

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Michelle

In the Words of a Song

 

There are many ways that a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather can express his love for his family.  One way that Willie Dowling did it was in song.

 

Willie loved to sing.  His family will always remember his beautiful baritone voice.  Years ago, as his family would travel along long stretches of highway where the radio signal was weak, the Dowling family would pass the time singing, with Willie taking the lead.

 

Willie’s family will remember many of the songs that he liked to sing.  Some of the songs were selected by Willie to express his love in a unique way to certain family members.  For example, he would sing “Elizabeth” to his granddaughter, Meggan Elizabeth: “Dressed in dreams for me, you were what I wished to see, Elizabeth” (as sung by Frank Sinatra, one of Willie’s favorites).  He would sing “My Michelle” to his other granddaughter, Jamie Michelle: “Michelle, ma belle, These are words that go together well, My Michelle…  I love you, I love you, I love you, That’s all I want to say” (from “Michelle” by the Beatles). 

 

Another fun song that Willie would often sing to family members contained these words:

 

I think I'll eat a tadpole think I'll eat a bug

I've got some worms down in the garden just recently dug

You said you didn't love me you told me we were through

So honey that's the reason this is what I'm gonna do

I'll eat a big ole tadpole run away and hide

And you'd be sorry oh so sorry if I stayed away and died

So if you really love me just tell me with a hug

Before I eat a tadpole or a bug

-- as sung by Sue Thompson, released in 1966

 

My guess is that Willie received many hugs after singing this song!

 

One way that Willie’s family members will know that he loved them dearly is by the songs that he would sing to them.  The songs communicated: “you are special to me.”

 

Consider the words of another song that communicate the love of Christ for YOU and me:

 

Crucified, Laid behind the stone

You lived to die, Rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground

You took the fall, And thought of me,

Above all

-- From “Above All” by Michael W. Smith

 

The words of this song express how much Christ loves us.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8.  As Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, He was thinking of YOU and me and how His blood can wash away our sins so that we can be saved and live eternally with Him in heaven.

 

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of 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).

 

As the song states, Jesus took the fall, and thought of YOU, above all.  Won’t YOU respond to His great love through your trusting obedience?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* In loving memory of Willie Woodrow Dowling, June 15, 1935 – December 1, 2017, in grateful appreciation for his faith and love.

 

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