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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Joey Spann, minister of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, TN

The Spann of His Life

 

Joey Spann, minister of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, TN, thought he was going to die.

 

Spann was one of the shooting victims when a masked man firing a gun entered the Burnette Chapel church building on Sunday morning after worship services on September 24, 2017.  The gunman killed one church member and injured seven others, including Spann and his wife.

 

Spann tried to stop the shooter as he entered the building.  He threw a wooden crate at the man and ran toward him, but Spann collapsed.  He had been shot.

 

"He shot me in the chest and shot again and shot again.  I heard the bullet go by my head.  Another one tore my hand up," Spann said.  "I just continued to cross the vestibule and fell down on the other side of it."

 

He thought he was going to die.

 

So he prayed.  He didn’t pray, Holly Meyer reports, to be saved by the church members who applied pressure to his wounds.  He didn't pray to be saved as he heard them call 911.  He prayed for forgiveness.

 

"God, I’m sorry for things I didn’t do right" was his prayer, Spann said in a telephone interview on the following Monday evening from his hospital room.

 

Recalling events after he had been shot, Spann reported: "My wife called my name out.  She said, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'He's killed me. I'm dying.' And I told her, 'I'm sorry.'"

 

The gunman was finally stopped and paramedics rushed to the scene.  Spann vividly remembers being carried by the paramedics and seeing his wife.  "When they were rolling me by her, I was saying goodbye to her," Spann said.  "I thought that was it."

 

But Spann didn’t die.  He lost a finger, but he is healing from his gunshot wound in his chest, and he’s thankful to be alive.

 

At a news conference two days after the shooting, Spann was asked about what he thought about the gunman.  Spann said he did not resent the shooter who attacked his church.  He would forgive him.   

 

"I don’t have any hard feelings toward him.  I don’t think about him," Spann said.  "If I had the opportunity to talk to him I would and I would try to help him."

 

Why would he try to help the man who almost took his life?

 

I think it’s because of the influence of the One that Spann has been preaching about for years.  It’s because Jesus died on the cross for the very ones who put him there.  You and I are included in that number, for Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).  Jesus died on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).

 

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), who turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), who 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).

 

The “span” of Jesus’ life and His love is evident from His outstretched arms as He hung on the cross for our sins.  That is what has influenced Preacher Spann.  That is what can change our lives and our destinies, too – IF we’ll only accept His offer on His terms.

 

Won’t YOU?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* Information gleaned from “ ‘He’s killed me.  I’m dying.’ Minister recounts chaos during Antioch church shooting” by Holly Meyer, USA Today Network – Tennessee.  September 26, 2017.

 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The truth about baptism

Water Baptism

      In a juvenile jail class I was once asked the question, "What does baptism have to do with salvation from sin? Isn't baptism just a bunch of water?" That was a sincere question which demands a Biblical answer!

     Yes, baptism involves enough water to immerse the believer. John the Baptist baptized his converts “in Aenon near Salim because there was much water there” (Jn. 3:23). “Much water” is needed for one to be "buried with Him (Jesus) into death" (Rom. 6:4). The rich meaning of water baptism is that it is a beautiful reenactment of faith in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. Jesus died for our sins. Through repentance we choose to die to the practice of sin. As He was buried, “we were buried with Him through baptism into death" (Rom. 6:4). As He was raised from the dead, our old man of sin was raised with Him from a watery grave to walk "in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).

     When one understands how baptism is "into the death of Jesus", the truth will dawn that baptism is the holy moment in which one's soul contacts the precious blood of Jesus. The old hymn asks, "What can wash away my sin?" The answer is, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus." God's wisdom declares that our sins are washed away by the blood when we are buried by water baptism into the death of Jesus (cf. Acts 22:16).

     Is baptism "just a bunch of water"? No! Baptism is water and the blood of Jesus! It is a physical act involving much water. It is also a spiritual act which expresses our faith that Jesus shed His blood "for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Peter commanded baptism "for the remission of sins" in Acts 2:38. We can understand the vital, spiritual link between water baptism and Jesus' blood "for the remission of sins" when we understand that baptism is the moment of faith when we make contact with the cleansing blood of Jesus.

     In His parting words Jesus clearly stated one must believe (trust His blood) and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16). In 1 Pet. 3:21 Peter declared baptism "now saves us". The context of Peter's statement is the flood of Noah's day. When Noah and his family entered the ark they were leaving their old world of sin. When they stepped out of the ark they stepped into a brand "new world" which had been washed of all sin. In this sense of the word Peter declares that "eight souls were saved through water".

     Yes, baptism is "a bunch of water" which washes our sins away because baptism outwardly expresses our faith in Jesus' blood as "the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21). When we enter the waters of baptism we leave the old world of sin behind. When we step out of the waters of baptism we take our first step into the new world of God's spiritual kingdom of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!

 Ralph Weinhold

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Train StoryThe Train Story

The Train Story

 

In the 1960s, Vienna, Austria and Communist-occupied Budapest, Hungary were worlds apart, separated by the Iron Curtain.  Vienna was basking in the new freedom of liberation from Nazi domination; Budapest was suffocating under Russian occupation.

 

Ivan Martos, however, was like a breath of fresh air in Budapest when Lynn Camp and a co-worker visited there, seeking people who professed faith in Christ.  Camp describes Martos as “one the friendliest and happiest, most positive and enthusiastic of God’s creatures.”  Martos worked as an officer of the National Bank of Hungary.  Because of his position, he would travel to Vienna twice a year to attend banking conferences.  These trips enabled Martos to visit with Camp and other Christians regularly.

 

It was during one of those summer trips that when Martos got off the train in Vienna, Camp immediately knew something was wrong.  “Before we could even leave the train platform, Ivan, practically in tears, related his bitter experience.  That day, as the train neared the Austrian border, uniformed guards boarded the train at the next-to-last stop on the Hungarian side.  They would make their way through the train, checking identification and documentation of all passengers prior to arriving at the border stop.  The guards immediately discovered that Mr. Martos was an important officer with Hungary’s National Bank.  His papers were all in order, permitting the official travel.  Before proceeding to the next passenger, one of the guards asked Ivan to open his briefcase.  The first item removed for inspection by the guard was Ivan’s personal Bible.  In a loud, angry voice, the guard held up the Bible for all in the car to see and yelled, ‘What is a man in your position doing with a Bible?’  Before Ivan could respond, the guard sailed the Bible through the open window of the moving train.”

 

“Ivan had indeed lost a best friend.”

 

Fast forward two years.  Again Camp was awaiting Martos’ arrival in Vienna.  “This time he arrived as upbeat as he had been downcast two years earlier.”  Here’s why: “Just a few days before leaving Budapest, a package had been delivered by the postman.  Ivan did not recognize the return name and address.  But as his wife prepared dinner, he sat in the kitchen and opened the unexpected prize – it was his Bible!  And accompanying his old friend was a letter of apology and explanation.  It went something like this: ‘Some of our children were playing one day along the railroad tracks.  They found your Bible.  Not knowing what it was, one of them took it to his grandmother, who immediately recognized it as a Bible.  Word spread quickly through the little village on the border.  Some of our older people had possessed Bibles before they were banned and remembered the significance and power of the Word of God.  We decided to conceal the discovery while those who so desired would make handwritten copies.  That joyful task took two years.  Please forgive our keeping your Bible so long.  But you might like to know that we are now a secret band of about 30 who have baptized each other and seek to follow Jesus in our daily lives.’”

 

Thus says the Lord: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11

 

God’s purpose in providing His Word is the salvation of man, for it is the “implanted Word which is able to save [our] souls” (James 1:21).  God’s Word reveals God’s plan of redemption of sinful man through the gift of His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).

 

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).

 

Won’t YOU open God’s Word, study it, believe it, and obey it?  That’s the very reason God wants YOU to have a Bible.

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* From “The Train Story” as told by Lynn Camp, a booklet provided by Eastern European Mission, www.eem.org

 

David A. Sargent

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why be baptized?

Justified by Faith in Baptism: The Relationship between Romans 5:1-2 and Romans 6:3-7, Plus other Scriptures

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  … Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 5:1-2; 6:3-7

“Set free from sin” in Romans 6:7 has the same Greek word as is used for “justified” in Romans 5:1. Clearly faith and baptism go together in bringing justification, which is why I have combined the two passages above. Let’s now look at what separates faith and baptism in Romans 5-6, noting it is certainly not the case that justification occurs at faith but before the baptism that follows:

From 5:3-11 we learn how God’s love, shown in Christ’s death, brings reconciliation between God and man: how, despite man’s sin, God’s love found a way to bring us back into His grace. Then, in 5:12-21, Paul shows:

1) where sin started,

2) the spread of sin to all, resulting in death for all humanity throughout history,

3) the writer then contrasting this with God’s grace abounding as Jesus brings eternal life to all people.

In 6:1-2, the writer introduces his teaching on baptism, in an unusual way, by refuting the erroneous argument that we can continue to live in sin, after being justified, because our sin gives God more opportunity to show that His grace will take care of it! In a sense, 5:3-6:2 is a kind of parenthesis between faith and baptism.

Romans 6:3-11,16-18, then explains how it is the sinner’s obedience of faith in baptism that enables him to be buried with Christ in the likeness of His death, raised to new life in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection, and thus freed from sin or justified. Here you see the picture of baptism as a burial with Christ, and hence an immersion, which is the meaning of the original Greek word. Baptism is thus a burial in water into Christ; an immersion in water that by faith connects us with Christ’s death, and then Christ’s resurrection as we emerge from the burial.

Romans 6:12-23 argues that, after obeying in baptism to be set free from sin, we either continue to live as slaves to sin, resulting in death, or we continue to live as slaves to the obedience of righteousness that gives eternal life. Baptism is not an automatic passport to the impossibility of further sin. What we do with our new life in Christ is a choice we must make. It is not forced upon us. “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Romans 6:10-12.

Thus Romans 6 reminds us that since it was in our baptism that we died with Christ to sin, then as a result of that baptism, we must live our new life unto righteousness with Christ.

Romans 6:23 summarises the argument from Romans, begun in Romans 3:23, with these words: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus the Lord.”

Notice Romans 3:24, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The gift of justification, redemption, or freedom from sin, leading to a new life in Christ, and eternal life, is received through faith when faith obeys in baptism, and our appreciation for the gift leads us to quit sinning! Romans 3-6 explains all this. Chapter 7 then shows that trying to beat sin by living by the Law of Moses won’t work, while chapter 8 says that the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ does work for the Christian. Romans 1-8 is really one sustained argument on how to be righteous through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Here now is yet another Scripture where faith and baptism are bound together as we become sons of God:

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:26-29

Notice that, in the Galatians’ Scripture, there is no parenthetical explanation between faith and baptism

– the Scripture showing clearly the connection of faith and baptism in establishing our new status as children of God.

Therefore both Scriptures here, Romans 5-6 and Galatians 3:26-27, are saying the same thing in two different ways, as is made abundantly clear, and simply, in the following words from Jesus immediately before he ascended to heaven:

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:11-14

Colossians 2:11-14 links the circumcision of Christ, burial in baptism, raised through faith, and the forgiveness of sins – proving that Christ cuts away our sin and God forgives us when we are buried in baptism and raised through faith. The truth is, it takes both faith and baptism to bring about what faith without baptism cannot!

Without baptism, we can believe in what God accomplished by atoning for the world’s sins through Christ’s death and resurrection. But it is in baptism where we believe that Christ circumcises our flesh and God forgives our sins and raises us up with Christ to new life!!

On the basis of Colossians 2:11-14, to try and argue that God saves us by faith before we are baptized, is arguing that God can save you before Christ circumcises your flesh, and God forgives your sins and raises you with Christ to new life! In the same way, on the basis of Romans 5 and 6, to try and argue that God justifies you by faith before you are baptized, is arguing that God justifies you before he has put to death your old man, freed you from sin, and raised you to new life in Christ. It’s a preposterous idea that robs God of His power to fully save you.

This is why we find faith and baptism together so often in the Book of Acts. The two always go together in a sinner’s salvation under the New Covenant.

In Acts, it is clear that faith, repentance and baptism all work together as a “salvation package,” even though repentance is only mentioned three times in a sinner’s becoming a Christian in the whole of Acts (2:38; 3:19; 17:30). In fact, even faith is not always mentioned, as seen in Paul’s conversion (see 9:17-18 and  22:16), and in a number of instances, baptism is not mentioned (such as 4:4; 13:12; 17:4; 17:12; 17:34 and 28:24).

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ Acts 22:16

Acts 22:16 shows Paul’s conversion. On the basis of Acts 22:16, if you argue that Paul was saved by faith before he was baptized, then you are arguing that Paul was saved before his sins were washed away!!

We know, from Jesus’ great commission commands in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:46-47, and from Peter’s first conversion instruction in Acts 2:36-40, that faith, repentance and baptism are all prerequisites for being forgiven and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Acts 2:36-40

       The promise of forgiveness, to those who repent and are baptized (with faith understood), is not just for Israel, but for “all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” “All nations.” Matthew 28:18-20.

Confess Jesus as Lord. Be baptized. Or, to put it as Ephesians 4:5 puts it, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”!!

--David Carr

Thursday, September 28, 2017

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God....Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest....--Hebrews 4:9-11

 

As we make our way down the pathway of life we are going to encounter may circumstances that we will have to struggle to overcome. To be sure, there will be much happiness along the way but there will also be a lot of pain and heartache that we will have to endure. We have an enemy that pursues us and he is always right behind us seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).  Constantly, perhaps even daily, there will be a Red Sea of sorts in front of us and like Israel of old we may have that momentary lapse of memory in which we can see no way of escape. I pray that we will ever remember that regardless of the circumstances that surround us in this life our God is with us and He will provide for us a way of escape (Heb. 13:5; 1 Cor. 10:13; Rom. 8:28, 35-39). Understand this, whatever that way of escape may be, it is going to involve moving, pressing forward (Exodus 14:15; Phil. 3:13-14).

 

The end for the faithful child of God is a place of eternal rest (Rev. 14:13). One who loves us has built for us a home that is so wondrous it is beyond words of human description and the builder of that home has promised that one day we will be able to dwell forever with him in that home (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 2:9). After some 84 years on this earth, I have come to the conclusion that the most beautiful words of the Bible are those they speak to us of heaven. Those are the words that draw our souls, our  hearts away from the struggles of this life. As we grow older we become more aware of the insecurity of life. We see our loved ones, our friends silently slip out into eternity. Once it seemed as if time stood still but now it is passing far too swiftly.  None of this should trouble us because heaven is the promise God has given to us and the day we fly away to our eternal home will be the dawning of a better day. I often think about 2 Cor. 5:1: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens". There is a beautiful home that tugs at my heartstrings today (Rev. 21:2-7; Rev. 22:1-5). The one thought that really gets me through each day is that I love and trust the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30; Isa. 12:2). I am going to cling to him for dear life and with joy in my heart make the most of each day knowing my sins have been washed away and forgiven. I am redeemed and heaven bound (Heb. 10:22-23; Col. 1:12-13; 1 John 1:7-9). What about you? How do you feel deep down in your heart right now?

 

Charles Hicks

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Easy Eddie

Al Capone's lawyer was nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was a slick, successful lawyer whose smooth, professional skills continually kept Capone from being imprisoned for his organized crime activities. For his skill, Easy Eddie was paid lavishly and protected like royalty. He lived the high life. He was likely a co-participant in illicit activity himself. Whatever his motivation, Eddie went to the authorities in 1931 and came clean about Scarface Capone, testifying against the mob. That decision most likely led to his losing his life, being gunned down on the streets of Chicago eight years after testifying against his former boss.

 

Eddie, also known as EJ, had a son. That son went to the Naval academy, graduated, and due to the attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was dispatched from the U.S. Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA, on December 8, 1941, to join the fight in the Pacific Theatre. Butch O'Hare would go on to win the Medal of Honor and be killed in action, the victim of friendly fire, about two years later. Chicago's main airport, O'Hare International, is named for Easy Eddie's son. The O'Hare name no longer was inextricably linked to crime, but to valor instead.

While some have worked hard to build the case that Easy Eddie had a change of heart (among them, Frank J. Wilson, the Treasury Department investigator who called Eddie one of his best undercover men in bringing Capone down on tax evasion), it matters little concerning the moral of the story. It was Butch's valor and patriotic service that redeemed the family name and led the "second city" to rename its airport "O'Hare." Butch overcame the dubious shadow cast by his father's activities to restore honor to his surname. Yet, it was the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, and the loss of 2,350 lives at Pearl Harbor mobilized Butch and so many others just like him.

 

Likewise, it was Jesus' appearance as a man and vicarious death on the cross that redeemed mankind. As all are sinners (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), all needed the efforts made by Jesus to give us the opportunity to overcome the ignominy of our past. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son through the seed of woman to redeem us all (Gal. 4:4-5). His Son, though fully human (cf. Phil. 2:7-8), was unlike the rest of humanity in that He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). And when we take His name, the name of Christ, we can overcome whatever dark shadows hung over our past.

 

--Neal Pollard

 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Are Swimsuits OK At The Beach?

In a recent conversation, a Christian 'explained' her view of modest apparel.  The specific discussion centered on wearing swimsuits at the beach or public pool.  "There's nothing wrong with it," she proclaimed, "because everyone is dressed that way.  No one thinks a thing about it."

Her argument fails the test of logic in a couple of fundamental ways.  First, if a certain mode of dress is okay because "everyone is dressed that way," then there is literally no limit to what might be allowed.  In fact, total nudity would be acceptable - according to this view - just so long as "everyone is dressed that way."  We wonder if this sister understands where her faulty thinking could lead.  Is she ready to join the crowds at the "clothing optional" beaches that are springing up in many coastal areas?

Secondly, we deny that "no one thinks a thing about it."  If this is so, why are the annual ‘swimsuit editions’ of certain magazines so popular?  And, please explain the explosion of pornography in our modern culture.  Easy access on the Internet has made addiction to pornography rampant in our day.  You say, "no one thinks a thing about it”?  Think again! 

Most importantly, this flawed argument not only fails the test of logic, but it also fails the test of God's law.  Remember, we are not in the business of establishing our moral values based upon what the majority of people do or think (Exodus 23:2).  Our standard must be the inspired Word of God (John 12:48).  The Scriptures define "nakedness" (Gen. 3:6-11,21; Exo. 28:40-43) and obligate us to maintain modesty (1 Tim. 2:9,10).  We pose this simple question to our sister (and to any other Christian who believes as she does): If modern swimsuits adequately cover "nakedness" - as defined in the Bible - and also allow a person to maintain modesty, can you describe any article of clothing that would NOT do so?  Think!!!

- by Greg Gwin

 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

What are we allowing to impact us?

Watch what peaks your interest; it becomes your desire (2 Samuel 11:2-3).

So be interested in the things that please Christ (Philippians 2:21).

 

Watch your desires; they become your lusts (2 Samuel 11:2-3).

So desire the heavenly things (Matthew 6:19-21).

Watch your lusts; they become your thoughts (Matthew 5:28).

So only desire what is good (Proverbs 11:23).

Watch your thoughts; they become your words.

So "set your mind on the things above" (Colossians 3:1-2).

Watch your words; they become your actions (Mark 7:20-23).

So use your words for encouragement (Hebrews 3:13).

Watch your actions; they become your habits (Romans 7:14-15).

So act to help all, especially those in the church (Galatians 6:10).

Watch your habits, they become your character (Genesis 6:3; 8:21).

So let's follow the patterned habits of the faithful in Scripture (Philippians 3:15).

Watch your character; it becomes your future (Titus 1:15-16).

So let's keep our character blameless (Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:3).

Watch your future; it becomes your eternity (Matthew 25:31-46).

So let's place our future on the eternally right path (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-27).

It's incredible, and a little scary, what can grow in our lives from something so small (James 1:14-15). What we allow into our lives most certainly impacts us (1 Corinthians 15:33). What are we allowing to impact us? If we aren't careful, it could impact our eternity.

***Article inspired by and expanded upon a Lao Tzu quote.

 

Brett Petrillo

 

That will be $500 or a week in jail

The Judge

 

Do you know why Jesus had to die?  Let me tell you a story that might help make it clear.

 

Do you have a car?

 

Well, let’s say you are speeding home this weekend at 105 mph.  A policeman catches you on his radar and you get busted.  They impound your car and bring you straight to the courthouse to face the judge.

 

Well, the good news is that the county you got busted in just happens to be the county in which your dad is the judge.  So you’re thinking that he loves you; he’ll let you off and everything will be fine.

 

But just as you are entering the courthouse, you consider that your dad is a really good judge.  He never punishes the innocent.  He always punishes the guilty.  He is a good and just judge.

 

Now you’re a little nervous.  Which is going to win out, his love or his justice?  He’s your dad and he loves you so he’ll want to do good to you.  But he’s just.  He’s a good judge and therefore he’ll want to follow the law and render a just verdict.

 

What do you think he’d do?  Which would win, love or justice?

 

Let me walk you through a scenario that shows how he might solve the dilemma.

 

You stand before your dad the judge and he says to you, “Son, this officer says you were going 50 mph over the speed limit.  How do you plead?”

 

What would so you say?  [Guilty.]

 

Yeah, that’s a good idea, because you are guilty.

 

So he look at you and says, “That will be $500 or a week in jail.  Guilty as charged.”  And he bangs down the gavel.

 

Well you don’t have any money, so the bailiff comes to take you away so you can start serving your time, when your dad, the judge, stands up and says, “Wait a minute.  Bring him back here.”  Then he stands up, takes off his robe and walks down from behind the bench.  Then he reaches into his coat pocket, takes out his checkbook, and writes the court a check for $500, the exact amount of your fine.  Then he offers it to you.

 

He is just, so he declares you guilty, since you are.  And he demands that a penalty be paid.  But he loves you, and so he has determined to pay that penalty himself, on your behalf.

 

Now as he stands there offering you the check, what do you need to do?  [Accept or reject it.]

 

That’s right. You can accept his payment on your behalf, or for whatever reason you can reject it.

 

That story is, I think, a great picture of what God has done for us.  If there are two things primarily true about God they are that He is loving and He is just.  Those two things put Him in an interesting situation when it comes to us, because every one of us has broken His laws.  We are guilty before Him. So which would win out, His love or His justice?

 

The Bible says that He declared us guilty, because we are, and demanded that a penalty be paid.  Then He left heaven, came to earth, became a man, and died to pay our penalty.  See, we didn’t owe a $500 penalty, so He didn’t just write a check.  The Bible says that sin earns us a death penalty, so He died to pay that (Romans 6:23). *

 

God will save and give eternal life to those who accept His offer on His terms: place your faith and trust in Jesus who gave His life for you (Acts 16:30-31), turn from your sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as you continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse you from all sin (1 John 1:7).

 

So He came to us to offer His life on our behalf.  Just like your dad with the check, He stands before you and says, “I have paid the price for your transgressions.  All you need to do is accept it.”

 

Won’t YOU?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thought for the Week

 

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims. abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11).

 

Isn't it great to be alive? I love this life and want to stay here as long as possible yet I also know that this world is not my abiding place and neither is it yours. We simply must understand that everything about us in this life, everything that surrounds us here is only temporary in nature, even our life. The life we now live is nothing more than a dressing room for eternity. We are mortals and as such the day is coming when in just a moment of time we will lay aside this earthly tabernacle and take that journey from whence we will not return (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:1). While we have the opportunity, we had best be laying up for ourselves treasures somewhere besides this old sinful world (Matthew 6:19-21). Today as faithful children of God we travel a pathway that leads us to our eternal destiny. That destiny has with it an incorruptible crown, the crown of life, a crown of righteousness with a glory that will never fade away (2 Tim. 4:6-8; 1 Pet. 1:3-4; John 14:1-3).  Our hearts must be set on that wonderful city of God because that is the place we call home (Colossians 3:1-2; Heb. 11:13-16; Philippians 3:20).

 

The most important aspect of our lives today is not where we have been but rather where we are going. We don't have time to dwell on the past or even consider what might have been. Time is swiftly passing for each one of us and our eternal destiny is directly in front of us. "I press on toward the goal" should be the supreme aim of our lives (Philippians 3:13-14; Hebrews 12:1). I love the words of that grand old song that say: "Each step I take I know that He will guide me, To higher ground He ever leads me on. Until one day the last step will be taken. Each step I take just leads me closer home". With that thought in mind perhaps our theme song should be, "Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be". To put off these rags of mortality and put on the robes of glory should be the earnest desire and expectation of each one of us. If we are truly pressing forward toward that high calling of God in Christ Jesus, then we can face the chilling hand of death courageously and with great comfort knowing that our God will give to us a spiritual body that will live forever (1 Cor. 15:19-22, 51-56). What more is there to say?

 

Charles Hicks

 

Tara Parker Routzong

Loving-Kindness

 

The traffic was unusually heavy in Troy, AL, on this particular day, but Tara Parker Routzong and her 9-year-old son, Landon, knew it was because many Floridians had fled their homes due to the approach of Hurricane Irma. With thoughts of these evacuees in his mind, Landon noticed that the car in front of them in the Chick-fil-A drive-through had a Florida tag. Assuming that the driver of the car was fleeing the hurricane, Landon told his mother that he wanted them to pay for his meal as an expression of love and good wishes for someone going through a difficult time.

 

Tara agreed and gave her debit card to Landon. Landon got out of their car and walked up to the driver of the car in front of them and introduced himself. He asked if he could pay for his meal. While the order was being filled, the grateful driver got out of his vehicle and thanked the dynamic duo for their loving-kindness. As suspected, the man had evacuated from Miami due to the hurricane and was on his way to Birmingham to stay with some family members. Tara’s and Landon’s eyes filled with tears as the man expressed his grateful appreciation. Tara told the man that they hoped that when he returned to his home in Miami that he would find it untouched and that they would keep him in their thoughts. *

 

I’m confident that the recipient of this simple act of loving-kindness will also keep these benefactors in his thoughts for a long, long time.

 

What a wonderful act of loving-kindness! May we “go and do likewise”! May it also remind us of the greatest act of loving-kindness ever demonstrated:

 

“At one time we too [and that includes you and me] were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:3-7 NIV

 

“The kindness and the love of God our Savior appeared” when Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins so that we can be saved and have the hope of eternal life. Jesus didn’t do this because we deserved it because we were so “righteous.” No, we didn’t deserve it at all. We deserve the wages of sin which is death (Romans 6:23).

 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He saves us because of His loving mercy.

 

He will save us when we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our 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 our sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse us from sin as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

 

Jesus’ death on the cross was the greatest act of loving-kindness ever demonstrated. By God’s grace, the salvation and eternal life that Jesus provided through His atoning sacrifice can be ours if we will only accept it on His terms.

 

Won’t YOU?

 

--David A. Sargent

 

* From “Hurricane Irma evacuee surprised by Alabama boy's act of kindness” by Michelle Matthews, posted on al.com on September 12, 2017.

 

David A. Sargent, Minister

 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bible Classes: Are You Learning Anything?

Often we may hear someone say, "I'm not getting anything out of my Bible class." When this happens what is the cause? There may be many causes. One could obviously be that the teacher is not prepared and that he is not doing a good job in presenting the material. However, even if this is the case, still as a Bible student, I can learn much in the class IF I do the proper kind of preparation and study for the class at home.

I believe that probably more often than not, the problem lies more in the other direction. The person who makes this statement may, in fact, be putting little or nothing into the class. They come without studying and expect the teacher to suddenly excite them about this subject and fill them with knowledge. This will not happen if we do not show enough interest at home to prepare for the class.

Also, how many parents are concerned enough about their children's soul that they make sure they are getting their lessons and bringing their books? Are we wasting time and losing our children in our indifference?

- by Steve Hardin

 

The light of Jesus

Have you ever met one of those people who as they say, "lights up the room when they come in"? I hope you have, because I have and it gives hope to life.

 

Where I work I have a friend named Anthony, he is one of those people. It may not be a coincidence, but I find it interesting that he works in the Lighting/ Electrical department. He helps bring light into people's lives physically, but also spiritually. Anthony is a lover of God and is not afraid to share his relationship with the father with others. He is one of those folks I look for when I'm at work, because he makes work seem… well, less like work, he brings a little light into my life, a little hope when I see God working in him.

 

Of course the example for us all is Jesus Christ, our God; our Brother; our friend and our support. I love the description that the Apostle John gives of Jesus in the book of John. In John 1:1-5 we read, "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." (NLT)

 

There is our example, the true bringer of the light! We sometimes sing a hymn that says, "Oh to be like thee, blessed redeemer," but I wonder if we really understand the full impact of those words, of what he was and what he did. John goes on and says, "The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He came into the very world He created, but the world didn't recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him." (John 1: 9-11)

 

You see what this says is that if you try to live as a Christian and bring light to others; don't expect them to always thank you. They rejected Jesus, they will often reject you.

 

I don't know about you, but I pray that I can be a little more like Anthony to those around me, but even more I pray that I can let the light of Christ be seen in me. There is no such thing as a secret Christian, you either are or you aren’t. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world… like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden."

 

When is the last time someone was glad to see you coming? Could it be you need to let the light of Jesus be seen more in your life?

 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sermons about natural disasters

Lessons from a hurricane

 

1)    Job 1:22 – Job did not “charge God foolishly.” Good lesson for modern disasters!

2)    Be careful about “foolishly charging God” under any set of circumstances.

3)    There are some parallels between Hurricane Harvey and the end of time.

a)     God has given warnings – many, many warnings about a “future storm” (sentencing of all men).

4)    This storm will not be limited to one area of the world.  Neither will it be limited to one era of time.

5)    From 2 Thess. 1 we heard about “flaming fire.”

6)    2 Thess. 1:8 speaks about “rendering vengeance” on the unprepared.

7)    Verse 9 refers to “punishment” and “eternal destruction.”

8)    In the spiritual realm, there are no second chances when it comes to meeting up with God.

9)    Rev. 6:14-17 – READ

10) When faced with God’s final judgment, a hurricane will look like a couple of raindrops.

11) Jesus once said:  What will a man give in exchange for his life (eternal spirit), Mk. 8:37?

12) If we gain the entire world but forfeit our eternal spirit (Mk. 8:36), how will we be benefitted?

 

PEOPLE HAVE NOT CHANGED THROUGHOUT TIME.

 

1)    Gen. 19:14 – READ

2)    Verses 15-16 – READ

3)    For the unsaved, a disaster like a hurricane may seem like an almost fatal blow --

4)    Especially for those who are in the later years of their life.

5)    Disasters should help remind us this life is temporary and only the eternal truly matters

6)    All too often we can be almost totally consumed with the physical consequences of things like storms.

 

DO WE HAVE ANY OBLIGATION TO VICTIMS?

 

7)    As things currently stand, there may be opportunities to help for months to come.

8)    No person can do it all, but helping some is much better than not helping at all.

 

9)    We can pray for the victims.  Some assistance can also be sent.

10) This storm was bad, but it will surely not be the last.  In fact, there is already talk of another one.

11) Storms are a part of life. 

12)  Experiences like storm should make us cry out for something better – is there no relief from such things?

13) It is good to help others with food, clothing and shelter. 

14) Man’s ultimate need is Jesus Christ; “food and shelter” from the Lord is our greatest need.

 

 

Lecciones de un huracán 
1) Job 1:22 - Job no "cargó a Dios con insensatez". ¡Buena lección para los desastrosos modernos!
2) Tenga cuidado con la "carga absurda de Dios" bajo cualquier conjunto de circunstancias.
3) Hay algunos paralelos entre el huracán Harvey y el fin de los tiempos.
a) Dios ha dado advertencias - muchas, muchas advertencias sobre una "tormenta futura" (sentencia de todos los hombres).
4) Esta tormenta no se limitará a una zona del mundo. Tampoco se limitará a una era de tiempo.
5) Desde 2 Tes. 1 oímos hablar de "fuego ardiente".
6) 2 Tes. 1: 8 habla de "hacer venganza" sobre los despreparados.
7) El versículo 9 se refiere al "castigo" y la "destrucción eterna".
8) En el reino espiritual, no hay segundas oportunidades cuando se trata de encontrarnos con Dios.
9) Rev. 6: 14-17 - LEER
10) Cuando se enfrenta con el juicio final de Dios, un huracán se verá como un par de gotas de lluvia.
11) Jesús dijo una vez: ¿Qué dará un hombre a cambio de su vida (espíritu eterno), Mk. 8:37?
12) Si ganamos el mundo entero pero perdemos nuestro espíritu eterno (Mc 8:36), ¿cómo seremos beneficiados?

LA GENTE NO HA CAMBIADO A TRAVÉS DEL TIEMPO.

1) Génesis 19:14 - LEER
2) Versículos 15-16 - LEER
3) Para los no salvos, un desastre como un huracán puede parecer un golpe casi fatal -
4) Especialmente para aquellos que están en los últimos años de su vida.
5) Los desastres deberían ayudar a recordarnos que esta vida es temporal y sólo lo eterno realmente importa
6) Con demasiada frecuencia podemos estar casi totalmente consumidos por las consecuencias físicas de cosas como tormentas.

¿TENEMOS CUALQUIER OBLIGACIÓN PARA LAS VÍCTIMAS?

7) En la actualidad, puede haber oportunidades de ayudar durante los próximos meses.
8) Nadie puede hacerlo todo, pero ayudar a algunos es mucho mejor que no ayudar en absoluto.

9) Podemos orar por las víctimas. También se puede enviar alguna ayuda.
10) Esta tormenta fue mala, pero seguramente no será la última. De hecho, ya se habla de otro.
11) Las tormentas son una parte de la vida.
12) Experiencias como la tormenta deben hacernos gritar por algo mejor - ¿no hay alivio de tales cosas?
13) Es bueno ayudar a otros con comida, ropa y refugio.
14) La necesidad última del hombre es Jesucristo; "Alimento y refugio" del Señor es nuestra mayor necesidad.

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

 

  

  

  

 

    

 

 

  

                      

 

 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"THE FIGHT IS ON"

 

The battle rages, and the Captain of our army encourages us to stand in the gap, to “put on the whole armor of God...and having done all, to stand.”   A recent bulletin reported that the Episcopalian church is on the verge of allowing homosexuals into their pulpits.  Another bulletin reports that the Catholic church is about to capitulate on this same moral issue.  Meanwhile, toleration is in, opposition is out, and it is apparent that our brethren are about to succumb to the same kind of “pluralistic” thinking that is sweeping our society.  “Judge not that ye be not judged” has become the battle cry for those weak of spirit.  Controversy is no longer politically correct, whether it is in the political or the religious realm. I for one, am grateful that neither Jesus, nor His apostles, ever adapted such a philosophy in order to promote and promulgate the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Had the restorationist pioneers held to the same attitude toward religious division and error as some of our brethren do today, they would never have gotten to first base in bringing about a restoration of the ancient order of things. J.S. Lamar wrote the following approximately 30 years after the death of Alexander Campbell. I share it with our readers for no other reason than to show that firm conviction and a stalwart stand for the truth is the only way by which the citadels of error will ever be torn down and the truth of God exalted. Here is what brother Lamar wrote:

 

“Every party had made its own creed, and set forth its conception of Christianity in a form chosen by itself. Every builder had erected a structure in accordance with his own architectural ideas and designs; and the results were satisfactory to the builders and really, for human structures, very good. It was while resting in fancied security in these corrupted and beautiful temples, the product of their skill and the pride of their hearts, that Alexander Campbell, as with the voice of God’s thunder and the sword of God’s Spirit, broke upon them, and aroused them to a sense of their danger. Now, if instead of thus assaulting them, he had been content to accept their guage [sic], and to meet them on their own chosen ground, both the conflict and the result would had been different. They were fully prepared to contest the question of comparative merit; and if the issue had been, for example, whether the English church was better or worse than the German; whether the Methodist had more or less truth than the Presbyterian; whether the creed, the doctrines, the practices, of any given sect, approximated in more respects than those of some others to the apostolic model and teaching - in such case the conflict would have been most welcome. But Mr. Campbell did not condescend to engage in any such useless strife. The peculiarities of sects and their varying degrees of excellency were treated only as side-issues and incidents, while with ponderous and pounding logic he battered upon the very basis of sectarianism - contending that, whether they had more of the truth or less, they were still wrong, fundamentally wrong, wrong in being sects, wrong in not being what Christ had founded, while yet assuming to occupy the place, to command respect, and to wield the authority of the divine institution. And now the fight was on. It was Alexander Campbell against the whole sectarian world - and all this world combining to resist him.” 

 

Thank God for such men as Mr. Campbell, “Raccoon” John Smith, Barton W. Stone, and a host of courageous men who refused to bow to the “pluralistic” mind-set that so dominates our world, yea even our own brotherhood, at this very hour. It is readily admitted that when we take a stand on the side of truth, that we will be criticized. But at least we know we stand with good company, “for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you” (Matthew 5:12b).

 

The fight is on! We have been provided adequate armor to repel the fiery darts of the evil one, but we must take up the armor. A careful examination of the spiritual armor described by the inspired apostle as set forth in Ephesians 6:14-17 leads us to the inevitable conclusion that God intended us to use the word to engage that battle. Our loins are girt with truth (Eph. 6:14). “Sanctify them in truth, they word is truth” (John 17:17). We have put on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14). The Psalmist told us, “all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). We are to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). If that is not the word of God, I am at a loss as to its meaning. The “shield of faith” (vs. 16) is more literally, “the shield of the faith,” which, of course, is the system of belief provided in God’s word, and specifically the New Testament (cf. Jude 3). We must “take the helmet of salvation” to protect our spiritual minds and hearts, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Each of these six items refer to the word of God, with all of its power and persuasive capability to defeat the enemy and comfort the child of God. Yes, the fight is on! It is left up to us as to whether or not we will engage the battle. It will take courage and the determination to remain faithful to the end. We dare not compromise, and to capitulate is not an option. Martin Luther King once said, “Crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo. Many voices and forces urge us to choose the path of least resistance, and bid us never to fight for an unpopular cause and never to be found in a minority of two or three.”

 

Should it be our lot to stand alone, or at best with the minority, and should the host of the armies of darkness assail us, we can be assured that in the final analysis, when all has been said and done, and we stand before the Captain of our army, we will hear the sweet words, “Enter thou into the joys prepared for you.” It will have been a well fought battle, and the victory shall be ours to enjoy for all eternity. The fight is on! “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

 

By Tom Wacaster

 

 

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